31 May 2008

temperature conversion

37 C = 98.6 F
38 C = 100.4 F
39 C = 102.2 F
40 C = 104 F

That's easy enough: normal, low-grade fever, fever, high fever. Got it.
If I can just remember what normal is.


I take it back. Last night was a miserable night. (It's 6:13 on a Saturday and I'm out of bed.) I didn't sleep because I couldn't breathe.

So, tonight it's the last of the Nyq*il along with some Adv*l and maybe some Vicks nasal spray (I know--only three days of it) if things are bad for me. I'm bagging the rest. Well, except the antibiotic. Once started that's got to be finished.

Tea and toast with honey are calling (and the fact that I need to go to the store for juice and tissues is nagging). Sure glad it's Saturday. eta: friend brought over both tissue and juice

(Why is it we all want to talk about how sick we are when we're sick? Tedious. Uninteresting. Will move on immediately.)

30 May 2008

when is a cold not a cold?

When it's acute bronchitis.

Yes, I caved and went to the doctor today. The deductible is paid for the year, I've been coughing for 2 1/2 weeks, and today I just felt...worse. Plus, stuff had a new greenish cast...and you know that means infection. So, I went.

I had a new doctor today. At this practice I've had one doctor I liked well enough and one I emphatically did not. This doctor (youngish and cuteish) talked with me and I was pleased with what I learned. He is not a fan of antibiotics and neither am I. He didn't make me strip down for the cursory physical exam. Big points for the new doctor. Everything was sounding clear and my temp was nearly normal. I think. It was in C...and I don't do well in converting body temperatures. It seemed like I might just have a cold after all.

He, of course, ordered bloodwork. (I have to say, the most painless blood draws I've ever had have been here at Euromed.) The quick test shows either + or - for the presence of infection in the body. (It's some sort of C-something test.) I had +++. Triple plus.

While we were waiting for the quick test results, they tried to give me an inhalation treatment. It made me gag. Violently. Wretch might be a better word. Or heave. Yeah. Fortunately the nurse stopped it early (it was supposed to be ten minutes!) and the doctor said his first rule was not to make the patient worse. Otherwise, he would have a rival. (It made sense at the time.) Yea, doctor! More points.

They took sinus x-rays (even though I told him I wouldn't let him drain my sinuses) and they came back clear.

Meanwhile, the slower labs came back. They said my white blood cell count was slightly elevated. But, what worried the doctor was the differential that showed my NEW white blood cells were at 19 when the highest they should be was 8. I said, in an asking sort of way, that this was because I'd been fighting a cold for so long. (This is what Russian grammar does to my English speech pattern. Since the only difference between statement and question is inflection and not word order, I start to do the same thing in English when talking to my Russian friends. And I do not use contractions.) He said maybe, but he wanted to rule out pneumonia.

They took chest x-rays (WAY embarrassing) and they were clear.

So. I got a diagnosis of acute bronchitis and an entire apteka to take home(an antibiotic, an expectorant, a nasal spray, an herbal cough suppressant for bedtime with a little codeine and an antihistamine also for bedtime because neither of us believes that it's really non-drowsy) AND the doctor's phone number in case I develop any side effects or pain.

This doctor wins. Should the need arise, instead of toughing it out for weeks on end with OTC meds, I will return to be diagnosed another day. Provided, of course, this works!

29 May 2008




got rid of one cough.

got another
from friends
who visited relatives
in london
and brought me this.

three more weeks of school...

22 May 2008

got mail(box)? eta

A friend of mine in Belgium has created a virtual museum of sorts to preserve that most endangered of all species...the mailbox. Alain would love for this to be a global project--representing letterboxes around the world.

That's where you come in, bloggy friends of mine. I know we've got great photographers out there. I've seen the results! Why not snap a picture of your mailbox to share with the world and save for posterity? Just think. One day you can show your grandchildren where we used to get those things they've read about in books called "letters".

When you visit the site above, there's a link to follow to submit your photos. Go check it out. And please--spread the word.

C'mon...I'm going to put mine up there. (It is as plain and grey and blah as anything you've ever seen. But, it does look very soviet to me. The numbers don't even match the flat numbers. They just say 1, 2, 3, and 4.) Donchawanna?

eta: I think the ordinariness, the every-day-ness is exactly what he is looking for in these pictures. This is social history, cultural history in the making. And, remember, that the "standard" image of a silver-grey mailbox with a red flag that we all conjure first when we hear the word mailbox is not what mailboxes look like in other countries.

21 May 2008

lost it

I am voiceless. My class thought it was pretty funny until they realized that I couldn't read to them.

There are a couple of reasons why this may have happened, as my friends here have informed me.

It is most likely because I wore a skirt too early in the spring.

It could be (a friend's neurologist told her this) that one of my parents is right-handed and one is left-handed. This means I am extremely suseptible to psychosomatic illnesses.

Or, my friends didn't tell me this, but I suppose at a stretch, it could be that other people in school have had this same spring cold. It could be that I teach sixteen little petri dishes every day.

Germ theory. What a radical concept.

18 May 2008

counting unhatched chickens


I've decided that telling you what I know about my new flat (I still haven't seen it) is not counting my chickens before they're hatched. It's letting you share in my joyous anticipation. My principal says that negotiations seem to be going well. (touch wood) Since I don't know how long it will be until I have a final answer to share, joyous anticipation is all I can give you.

Besides the aforementioned courtyard parking, my new flat has...

...a great number (100!)

...its own door. No one else uses the door that I will use. And, it has its own mailbox. I don't get mail there, but, still. It's mine.

...two stories! My principal said, "Kate, it's like a real home." On the ground level is a kitchen (nice), living room--with gas fireplace, and bathroom--with shower and mini sauna (!!). The fact that it has ground-level living is huge! I've wondered every time I've brought groceries home how I would manage to juggle multiple loads (sometimes you've gotta, no matter how well you load your arms) and a little girl or two. Having little ones will increase my groceries and decrease my available arm space. What do I do? I can't leave them in the car. I can't leave them alone in the flat. I don't really want to make them climb up and down three double flights of stairs (Can you imagine that after shopping and then St. P traffic on the way home?). And now--my own parking spot right outside my flat and a kitchen on the ground floor! How amazing is that?

... two bedrooms upstairs. This is huge. I cannot sleep on the ground level. I don't feel safe. Also upstairs is a bathroom with a tub and another room with a built-in computer desk. Right now that's where the tv is. Sounds like a family room/playroom to me.

...a little strip of grass and two benches outside.

...white walls instead of dark brown and burnt pumpkin. I never thought I'd say YEA to white walls, but, "YEA, white!"

...real hardwood floors instead of laminate.

...the Red Cross across the way. Surely they're good neighbours.

...much quieter living (though, it's likely also darker).

...a security door to the courtyard and my own video security system at my door.

Can you see why I'm very, very excited about this new flat? I'm claiming it as mine. I might even be tempted to stick around a while. Really. This is nearly my perfect house. Of course, I have yet to see it...but I'm just sure it's great!

(I don't know any logistics of the actual move aside from the date. When I moved here, the school took care of everything--packing, shipping, unpacking. The same will apply when I leave. Since this is mid-contract for me, I'm guessing that I'll pack and the two men on the school staff will move me. That's just a guess, though. We'll find out soon.)

16 May 2008

at odds

I've been feeling at sixes and sevens lately. Last week I couldn't settle my mind to anything--reading, cooking, walking, cleaning, watching a movie. My mind just danced about and refused to be still. This week is better than last, but I still feel a little unsettled. I'm not sure exactly why.

I started packing last weekend. That makes it sound like I did a lot more than I actually did. I packed up d2b's hanging clothes and took down the poster and packed up the crib. It's a strange feeling to know that the room I'd prepared and little-girlified is never going to be d2b's room. I've napped there, prayed there...and now it's packed away. The bed is still made and there is more packing to do...but it's being dimantled. I actually think the new room will be better--bigger, lighter...but it's still strange.

I find that my waiting is much longer with new agency. Yes, I think they are more active. I have greater trust in them. But they don't always respond to e-mails. About 20% of my messages (and that's generous) will be acknowledged--even when they contain a dircect question or a request for a reply. Old agency had many flaws, but they did reply to every e-mail I sent. People at new agency go on vacation and I don't get a heads up or even receive an auto-response. And, because they don't all work on Fridays and I live here, that dreaded weekend silence that others have mentioned and blogged about stretches from Friday morning before school until Monday night (They get into the office around 6 pm Monday my time.). Maybe that's what has me unsettled.

I really am excited about my new agency, my new flat...but maybe it's too many "news" all at once. I'm not excited about my new region, and the added expense that travelling out of St. P will entail, but I am excited about how quickly things seem to move there.

I miss my friends. I have colleagues here, and we are friendly, but I miss my FRIENDS. I am very blessed to have wonderful friends that I've known for decades--friends made when I was in elementary school, in college, doing theatre, teaching school. I've collected kindred spirits along the way and hung on to them. I am loyal, as one of those long-time friends pointed out to me, and I keep my friends. I am much more of an introvert than people think. I don't reveal a lot of myself (contrary to this post!). So, the friends I have, the ones I've invested in and shared things with, I hang on to tightly. They know too much to be cut loose. ;> So, maybe missing them has me out of whack.

I don't know. I just hope I'm back in my own skin soon.

13 May 2008

mom sense

I know I'm setting a dangerous precedent by posting twice in one day...but I couldn't wait until tomorrow.

for the Gosselins

Last week (not last night) on Jon & Kate Plus Eight, the Gosselins were talking about chores. Kate said that soon she was going to assign chores to each child, but she wasn't sure how.

I have the perfect plan for her! I set out to e-mail and tell them ('cause I really do think she'd like this suggestion--it's what I'd do if I had three or more children...and I'm the kate-est of Kates). I know they said on another episode that they read emails (Well, that Jon read e-mails and shared the good ones with Kate. THIS would def be a good one.) so I figured that the address must be on the TLC website. If it is, I can't find it. So, I'm posting it here. (I'm sure they're lurking.) If you have their address, let me know or tell them to stop by the blog.

Sadly, I can't claim to be the originator of this idea. My sister's neighbor is the inspiration. I haven't met the neighbor or her children (aged, I'd guess, 7-10 at the time). But, when we were taking care of their animals one Christmas, I saw this little gem: Clipboards. Choreboards.

Hanging in a row were three hooks, one for each child. Each hook had a child's name above it and a clipboard hanging on it. On each clipboard were a list of jobs. These must have been jobs for the week. Each clipboard had different jobs on it (empty upstairs trash, empty downstairs trash, take out trash to curb). I'm sure that each week the clipboards rotated so that you had different jobs. Isn't that great?

The Gosselins also came up with a mission statement for their family. This was great. It reminded me of teaching in a Christian school. I had one rule--that you had to be loving. (This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12) Then, on a huge bulletin board that took up a whole wall in our classroom I had the love verse from Corinthians (Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Cor. 13:4-5) Then, the only reminder that class needed was for me to ask, "Are you being kind?" or "Are you being patient?" In our Friday letters we would reflect on the week--what we learned, what we liked, how we would improve and, sometimes, how we were being loving (or not self-seeking or not boasting...). It was such a simple and such an all-encompassing reminder.

So, Jon and Kate, this post is for you!

10 May 2008

paper trail

Fed Ex confirms that my documents were delivered to new agency on Thursday.

New agency says they will review them next week.

Forty-six days until my lease expires. That's plenty of time...right?

in response

This was in my inbox:

Thank you for contacting Teleflora to share your thoughts about the
"Telefl0ra presents America's Fav0rite M0m" program.

In response to your concerns, Telefl0ra is immediately changing the
name of our "Non-Mom" category to "Adopting Moms." After closer
examination, we can see how this may have been offensive to moms who
have adopted children -- moms who are indeed real moms to their
children in every sense of the word. In fact, many of us at
Telefl0ra are "adopting" parents ourselves, including our president
and owner. The essence of this category still focuses on a
grandparent, neighbor, step mom, or mom to adopted or foster
children, each one raising and loving a child.

This show of insensitivity on our part was in no way intended and we
deeply apologize for any concern or distress we may have caused. It
was always our intent to salute and celebrate all moms.

In closing, all of us at Telefl0ra would like to offer our sincerest
best wishes to all the many women throughout the world who have
worked so hard and given so much to earn the name "Mom."

The America's Fav0rite M0m Team

09 May 2008


One of the three major networks, the one starting with N, is hosting a television show called, Americ*'s F*v0rite M0m. There are different categories: single mom, military mom, working mom, coe mom ...and non-mom.

I find all of these distinctions offensive. Maybe it's just me. After all, I do think we should all just be Americans. I think distinctions are divisive.

Should you wish to nominate me next year, once d2b is home, you would not enter me under the categories of single mom or working mom. According to the rules, after more than two years working to bring d2b home I will be a non-mom.

Non-moms are those who take on the role of mom-- Grandparent, stepmom, or mom to adopted children, each one raising and loving a child. A priceless gift for everybody.

Things like this don't usually get under my skin. They're semantics. I think the network was trying to create a way to have more winners, more "favorite moms". I'll give them the benefit of the doubt regarding motive.


I don't like the way they did this. At all. "Non mom" was a very poor choice of words. Very poor. NON mom?!? NON?!

Who wouldn't be offended by their categories? I think they've managed to alienate everyone. My sahm friends don't even have a category of their own. (Unless that's what coe means...I don't know...one of the coe nominees was blind, one had fertility treatments and multiples and the third...I don't remember.) Sorry, guys. I guess you're not even non moms.

And so I e-mailed and told them I thought they'd made a poor choice. Here's the address posted on one of my adoption lists: support @ americasfavoritemom . com . I also went to the NBroadcastingC website and used their feedback form.

If you find this inappropriate, I would encourage you to tell them. And to turn the tv off.


Happy Victory Day (known elsewhere as VE Day or Victory in Europe Day). New Year's Eve is undoubtedly the biggest holiday in Russia. Victory Day and Women's Day are a joint second. While Women's Day is celebrated with friends and family, honoring all girls and women, Victory Day is a public holdiay, a spectacle of military might. It celebrates the end of The Great Patriotic War (WWII). Parades and ceremonies across the country are held to thank the men who fought for their country. (eta: Russia celebrates Victory Day on 9 May unlike the rest of Europe which celebrates on 8 May because when the peace treaty was signed, it was already 9 May in Russia.)

These orange and black ribbons are passed out at places all over the city. People wear them or tie them on their cars. The orange and black are meant to symbolize fire and gunpowder and are (perhaps) derived from the tsar's coat of arms--the black Romanov eagle on a golden background.

Yes, I moved my car. Just think, in another six weeks or so I'll never have to do that again!

I'm opting to stay home this morning as

  1. I don't really like watching parades
  2. I don't really like crowds
  3. I can sit in my window and watch the after-parade drift past
  4. my camera is at school so I can't record it for you anyway
  5. Russian parades are heavy on military might and light on the entertainment--no catchy Broadway tunes (the image of Russian soldiers kick-stepping to show tunes has set me giggling)
Maybe next year I'll take d2b to watch the tanks and soldiers. For now, I encourage each of you to claim a victory, no matter how small, and celebrate it today. Wear a striped ribbon. Be victorious!

07 May 2008

i forgot

Umm, when I said that we might know something today, I forgot that I live in Russia.

The principal did, indeed, go to talk to the realtor today. That, however, does not mean we know a thing. That will happen...sometime. I'll share when I do.

06 May 2008

tra-la, it's may

(title courtesy of Camelot)

What a wonderful, wonderful day!

Yesterday the chokecherries bloomed which meant (according to all my Russian friends) it was time for a cold spell. Sure enough--it was 1C today!!! That means whatever has been allergying me for the last WEEK died or froze or retreated and I can breathe again. I have no headache!

Yesterday, I sent off my homestudy to the embassy in Moscow to get my I600 extension. Woo-hoo! Paperwork out of my hands.

And, today I Fed-ex'd all my paperwork to new agency. All of it. No more paperwork in my hands. OOORAH! It's my friend's birthday today and she used her birthday wish to send off my documents with hopes and good wishes for "the little girl we've all prayed for to quickly make her way home."

Also today, my principal showed me pictures of my potential flat

in my current building
in the courtyard and not on the street
with its own parking space
and it's infinitely more kateish than the flat I'm in now (amazing as it is, it's.not.me).

She's going to negotiate for a long-term lease tomorrow. TOMORROW. I won't share details until I know for sure, but I'm so, SO EXCITED!


04 May 2008


my new flat will have courtyard parking.

01 May 2008

on the up

Yesterday, just so d2b knows one day what happened after the emotions; how strong women cope and get things accomplished, I came home, put on my summer nightgown, my favourite charcoal sweatshirt and some cashmere socks. I ate some pasta with ground turkey and cheese while I watched Desperate Housewives. And then I got to work. I did everything I could to have things ready to send as soon as the courier from Moscow arrives with my work-letters. I even found an extra certified birth certificate!

I called new agency today and told them the news. New agency says everything can be handled.

Told the principal it would really, really, really be a good thing if I could stay in my building.

Am hoping for less orange and brown and fewer pine boughs on the walls in the new flat. I wonder what it will look like. I do love taking a new space and making it home. I think I'm pretty good at it. If only they'd let me paint...

I was a kinder, gentler teacher today. And I didn't leave any tearstains or runny-nose-puddles on anyone's shirt. Still a little battered and bruised, but am on the up.

april showers bring...

Thanks. And special thanks to Jim for reminding me that just because I see possible difficulties in this, doesn't mean that is true. This could make things easier in ways I can't even imagine. My old landlord wasn't keen on officials being in the flat...

Look at the May picture on my calendar: