30 June 2008

grammar cop

Let's talk about introductory interjections.

(sing along: Interjections, for excitement, or emotion, are generally set apart from a sentence by an exclamation point or by a comma when the feeling's not as strong.)

I've seen a couple of things around the blogoshpere lately that are commenting on good news and start with alas. One sighting I'd let slip as a typo made in the throes of emotion. But, then I saw it again...and the grammar cop in me itches to educate.

I'm fairly sure the writers meant at last.
Alas is a completely different word that expresses regret.

Tomorrow is moving day for me. If I were sad about it, I'd say, "Alas, it's moving day." But, since I'm really excited that it's finally here I'll say, "At last! It's moving day!"

Just wanted to make sure everyone had that down in case there is some news later this week...especially if it's about me being one step closer to a lass or two--at last!

Okay, fellow grammar cops. Aside from homophone confusion and its resulting apostrophe catastrophes, what grammar infractions have you spotted lately?

27 June 2008

six words-edited

Annie challenged me to tell the story of me in six words.

This was prompted by the story that Hemingway (note from Kate re: Hemmingway: yuck) once bet ten dollars that he could sum up his life in six words. His words were, “For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.”

I had a ball! It's like an assignment from acting school. I've got a bunch saved just for me. But the one you get is...

Clever girls don't share all secrets.

Now...who might like to play along?

(Here's where the editing comes in:)
I'm untagging because I was always picked last for kickball. (Spelling bees were another matter.) And, I'm untagging because I think it's more fun this way. Anyone who wants, please leave your six word story in the comments. It would be fun to see them all in one place.

It's a little addicting. I was just washing my hands and thought
A wish is an unaddressed prayer.


Not really enough for a potluck here...just some leftovers.

I'm back on antibiotics. This time it's 15 days of Avelox (and lots of "good bacteria" capsules). As soon as I go off an antibiotic, two days later I'm sick again. So, this "persistent bactrial infection" is now getting zapped by long-term antibiotics.

Some of my yahoos have also added vitamin D to my Rx. I tried to buy the kind recommended to me at two different places with no success. They each gave me the phone number (only three digits--like the number for roadside assistance which you know I have memorized) but I'm not very good at talking on the phone in Russian. It takes away my pantomime skills. Calling a taxi is easy because it follows a script. Calling to ask where in the city I might find this product would likely give me TMRI.

Instead went to my favorite, little tiny apteka. I didn't go there first because I had to buy cat litter and they other places were by the zoo market. I almost didn't go at all because I thought it might be so obscure a product that I'd have to go to the huge apteka further along. But, because it's my favorite, I stopped in anyway.

The people there are always nice. They are always interested in talking to me--asking questions about my life here and in the US. They are patient. And, they almost always have what I need--whether it's cat medicine or mosquitol. This time, they didn't have it, but the pharmacist asked where I was sick.

I explained I have had a bacterial infection for many, many days. (I always forget the word for weeks when I need it.) I am taking antibiotics and Actimel. My friend in America, who is a nurse, said I need vitamin D.

Questions about whether I actually need an Imm0dium-like product.

No, vitamin D.

Voila! I have it both in capsule and in liquid form.

The head of the motorpool at the consulate (much better, kinder, more helpful than our guy at school) dealt with the garage for me. We're not doing the brakes now. And, we're using some sort of soft piping that I don't quite understand...It should be ready in a week and a half.

Moving day is approaching! Hooray! Delicate Movers will be here Tuesday morning to pack and then delicately move my things across the courtyard. They're planning on bubble-wrapping my desk.

That possible adoption news I had for you this week looks like it might come next week.

24 June 2008


Two nights ago, I felt compelled to get out of bed and look at the database.

I've learned my lesson the hard way about the database and I. stay. off. There was a little girl on there, F, whom I've mentioned before. She is the reason I was disappointed to be leaving St. P. She has my eyes. Have you ever looked at those children and seen yourself looking back? It's a powerful thing. She simply and immediately belonged to me. The connection, in one moment, was strong, visceral, spiritual. I wanted so much to bring this little girl home. I have been praying for her and thinking of her. I've seen her sitting on her bed in her bedroom right next to my computer and playing on my living room rug. Her picture is on my 'fridge to this day.

I was told that she has CP. I don't believe this. I simply cannot reconcile it with her photo. I know that photos can be misleading, but I think there was an error made somewhere. I've tried to find more information out about her. But, Russia protects its orphans well. It's not possible to simply make inquiries. I don't even know which children's home she's in. I have a stack of Christmas presents for her and her group that I've never been able to deliver.

When I was told that I would not be allowed to adopt from St. Petersburg, I felt as if I'd lost F. Knowing she couldn't come home, that I'd never hold her hand as we walked down the street, with her face turned up to mine and her eyes dancing as she chattered away, just broke my heart. I know that sounds ridiculous. How can you be so fully attached, feel so loving towards a child you've never met? Surely saying my heart was broken is hyperbole. I can only tell you that God put this child in my heart-and told me to pray. And in prayer she became a little bit mine. I grieved for a long time over her.

When I was urged from my bed two nights ago to go to the database, I thought there must be a little girl in my new region who needed prayer. I trepidatiously put in the age criteria and scrolled through the little faces. While some are dear and they are certainly in need, none of them called out to me the way F had.

After I'd seen all the four-, five- and six-year-olds in that region I decided to click over to see F. She wasn't there. I broadened the criteria and looked through all the five-year-old girls in St. P. She really wasn't there.

My heart leapt! While I know there can be many reasons she's off the database, I choose to believe that someone else looked into her eyes and saw themselves. They smiled at her crooked pigtails. They saw both the uncertainty and the courage in her smile. And they took her home.

My prayer for this little sparrow is that God keeps His eye on her and His arms around her. I pray that she is loved and cherished. I pray that one day in Heaven I will throw my arms around her and cover her with kisses and she will know that I've prayed for her without ceasing.

Believing that F has found a family frees me, in a way, to go and find d2b. Moving to a new flat and away from the bedroom I thought was hers lets me leave her there, contentedly playing with her doll. I don't have to replace her, to put someone else in her picture.

Maybe it's really time.

23 June 2008

guest blogger

Sometimes I think my car should have its own blog.

Today, after calling for a jump start because I hadn't driven it since Friday, I took my car in to have the gas tank examined. We didn't know if it needed to be replaced or if the seal around the gas tank needed to be replaced. A friend had set up the appointment for me and the mechanincs were supposed to know what the problem was and have a plan to fix it. We were even going to go part shopping together if that's what was needed.

When I drove in, the guy asked me if I brought the spark plugs (translates as "candles", fyi) or if I wanted to use theirs. Off to a great start, eh? I told them my spark plugs were fine, my gas tank was leaking. (From this point on we used the telephone to have a friend translate most of the rest of this--speaking car and Russian is too much for me.)

He went into the pit to take a look under my car at the leaking gas tank still smoking his cigarette. That didn't really inspire confidence. I'm thankful we didn't all explode.

He said he didn't know how I'd been able to drive in because the "frog" (this means u joint...which I still had to look up on google) was half gone. He said it must've been very noisy.

Ummm, no. No noise. Just leaking gas when the tank is more than half full.

I asked if it needed a repair or a new tank (without my phone translator, thank you very much) and he, of course, said I needed a new tank. He would do a complete work-up and call us later with the list of what needed doing.

I found a metro and went home to wait for the list.

The list is: replace gas tank (13, 500 r) and pipe leading to gas tank (12, 000 r), replace u joint, brake pads and brake discs. The grand total for all parts and labor is estimated at 41,500 r--or about $1755. YIKES!

The thing is, the car wasn't making any noises, the brakes probably should be replaced, and I have no idea if the tank and pipe actually need replacing or if it's just the little rubber seal that's worn. I'm hoping that our car guy from school will come with me to the mechanics on Wednesday to give his opinion. (Although, frankly, he doesn't seem to know that much more about cars than I.) Basically, I'm at their mercy. In this land of specialization, there aren't free-lancers who work on cars in general. You take American cars to this place. I don't know where else you take them. It was recommended that I get a second opinion. When I asked who could give that opinion, no one knew.

Sheesh. Not the news I was hoping for today.

22 June 2008

mini bite, 2

I'm not sure about the new X-Files movie. (Thanks, M, for the heads up! I know nothing about pop culture living here.)

I went and watched the preview. Hm. (with only one "m") Almost a "huh" without a question mark.

Chris Carter said somewhere (no footnotes, remember?) that the X-files was always a romance; that the rare, intellectual romance between Mulder and Scully was what appealed most to the fans. I would agree. Love it.

But, I also liked them riding off into the sunset together at the end of the series. (Let's not get into a discussion about that last season right now, okay? I'm still sick.) Because, let's face it, a girl's not all intellect.

And the trailer made it look like they've been in separate sunsets.

Unless that was a trick.

And it could be.

But I don't really want to go and see that they fought and split up after a year. Or have been living separate lives for the safety of their child. Or whatever.

Of course, that's only the writer's opinion.

And what do they know?

Not as much as me.

For example, I know Scarlett got Rhett back. (And don't even mention that pseudo-sequel that I refused to read. Rubbish. Leave it alone. It didn't have to be written. We knew.)

But I have to see this movie. I might even go see it in Russian. Maybe. If I can find it. Maybe it will even be in English with Russian subtitles!

So, if those writers mess things up and say that Mulder and Scully split up, I can just ignore the writers and concentrate on what I know is the truth.

After all, the truth is out there, and 24 July is another day.

20 June 2008



I was told (by DHS in Moscow) that all I had to do to receive my free I171H extension was to write them a letter and submit an updated homestudy.

I was told (by sw2) that it was fine for the homestudy to follow the request--that she has had that experience often and everything would be fine.

I was told (yesterday, via e-mail, after I'd checked in on things) that they had received my homestudy but it seemed that all my other paperwork had expired.

I told them (briefly) what I'd been told and what I'd done. And I asked if there was anything else I had to do.

I told them if there was further paperwork needed (didn't mention that hefty fee) to let me know, that I might cry a little bit (never hurts to pull that emotion card--lesson learned) and then would comply.

I'm waiting to be told the outcome.

19 June 2008

two down

Doctor says my wbc are still high, but much better. And the baby wbc are back to normal. Yea! This means I'm finished with two anitbiotics and have one more to finish. I can't WAIT. I feel so full of chemicals.

Isn't it nice that I'm moving soon and I can leave all these germs in the old flat? They're also moving my classroom, so even the school germs won't follow me. (Looking on the bright side here: new classroom is not as big as current...but will only have 12 students. I just wish there was an actual wall separating me from kindergarten instead of one of those accordian things... Still, I'm looking forward to painting. It's a great nesting outlet for me! When we were watching a slide show of our year and our first classroom popped up, everyone sighed and one girl cried out affectionately, "Oh, our dear little classroom!" They loved that pretty little classroom. It just goes to show that size isn't everything. )

It's possible I'll have good news to share about another step forward along the adoption path next week. Stick around...

14 June 2008

mini bite

Have you noticed when you have a fever that your thoughts seem to come in isolated chunks? They don't connect to anything that came before. And, try as you might, forging a link to the next logical thought is nearly impossible. It's as if you're pushing with all your might against an immovable object. You just can't push through.

I guess that gives me blog posts in mini-bites. They won't be tidy posts, cleverly tied back to the beginning. They're just...random.

I won't post them all together the way they are in my head. That would be way too confusing. So, I'll just give you a little mini-bite here and there...

Lauri posted awhile back (okay, so there was a before to this) about the recent discipline episode of J&K+8. While I do think J&K do much right, I think they're missing a big step. No, I'm not a parent. But, I have much experience disciplining children. I'll go ahead and brag a bit here and let you know that all our "special" teachers always rave about how well-behaved my classes are--regardless of school or grade. Sure, they're a little noisy. But they're kind, creative, respectful, responsible and obedient. I think that makes my observations share-worthy. Besides, it's my blog. ;>

In J&K+8, they talked about how important it is to have a child apologize after there has been misbehaviour. I completely agree. An apology should be made to the person who was wronged.

What I think J&K (and many others) are missing is the forgiveness part. Not only does the offender need to apologize, the wronged party needs to forgive them. And, once forgiveness is offered, the event is over. Finished. We keep no record of wrongs. When I mess up, I apologize and ask the children to forgive me. (They get very tickled at this. They love to tell me they forgive me.)

I work hard to make sure that there is no stigma to apologizing. An apology does not have to be an admission of guilt. It doesn't have to mean that your actions were intended to be hurtful. But, when you have hurt some one with your words or your actions, even if it was unintentional, you should express regret for that hurt and apologize.

And when someone apologizes, you accept it graciously and forgive them. And then you shake hands or hug and move forward as friends.

That's one thought rattling around in my brian. I think that the reconciliation process is incomplete without forgiveness being offered. And, I think without offering forgiveness, one is more likely to cherish up those wrongs. That would be harmful to our sense of community in the classroom.

By this point in the year, instead of bringing an offense to my attention and having me walk them through the

did-you-tell-her/is-it-over/shake-hands-and-be-friends-or-will-you hug

my students will tell me, "Such and such happened, but don't worry. We already got to the hugging and everything." I consider it a lesson well-taught when they can do that on their own.

13 June 2008

when is a cold not acute bronchitis?

When it's drug-resistant bronchitis/tonsilitis/uri.

(You don't have to read any further. I'm going to be fine. What follows is a tedious re-telling of today's visit to the doctor; a story every sickie tells and no one really wants to hear...)

Yep. I saw the good doctor that I saw in December today. Dr. V is great. He listens to everything you say. In English. He asks questions. I always go in to the doctor a little apologetic, feeling like I should just tough it out. This visit was no different, especially since my major complaint was that I just didn't feel better. (And I had a new fever.) But, Dr. V didn't tell me to tough it out. He was a bit cross with Dr. Peach Oil (snake oil is more like it), said my temp was elevated, my white cells were up in Monday's bloodwork and it was clear from the white stuff and pus in my throat that I had tonsilitis. Kinda wonder about an ENT who misses that. Kinda wonder about the silver tongue depressor he used (instead of the individually-wrapped wooden ones)...and how sterile it was. Told Dr. V on him just in case he cross-infected me.

After a thorough exam, Dr. V did blood work (nach) and came in mid-result and hooked me up to an IV of antibiotics. My white cells are high and my new white cells are very high. (My poor little soldiers are being slaughtered. The new troops are pouring in to help.) I've had antibiotic shots in the US but never an antibiotic IV. I've never had any IV. This took about an hour. I was paranoid that the nurse wouldn't come back before the line was completely empty and I'd die from an air bubble. I tried calling out when the bag was empty and what was left in the line started sucking its way into me, but no one came. There was no call button. I decided if it got to halfway, I'd take the IV pole and go find someone. (Give me a break. I'm sick. I'm feverish. And I'm new at this IV thing. And, you'll find another reason for heightened paranoia in the final parenthetical expression.) It nearly did, but the nurse arrived in time. My other option was to pull the line out myself. I'm sure it would've hurt...but at least I'd still be alive.

Dr. V sent me home with a new anitbiotic, tablets to keep my good bacteria intact, and instructions to rest for three days. He also gave me strict instructions to call if I don't feel better by then, made an appointment to see me in a week, and started a throat culture just in case these antibiotics don't work.

I am feeling in very capable hands. Lesson learned: no more Dr. PO. PO is too close to poo.

(I know. Tedium. But this is all I'm doing...except re-watching X-files in order. The truth is out there.)

11 June 2008


Here's a cursory summary of recent life:

Monday I took the lower school student council (I'm too tired to link. Do a blog search on "political corruption" if you're interested.) To deliver donations to the orphanage where my 3.10 girls are. Yes, more corruption. It let me check in on them. Four were there. L is with the foster family (no news on that--drat!), N and P are at camp, and I don't know where Ks is. I didn't get to spend much time with the girls, but was very happy to see them. AND I met the director and was given permission to continue my visits to my girls. I told her, "I love group five. They are my girls." She seemed happy with that.

My students were awed that the girls there knew me. They learned a lot from the visit. The most important lesson I wanted them to learn was that these were just children--like them. And, from their responses, they did learn that. Maybe I'll share their writings about the trip later. It did backfire on me a little because my students don't see them as needing as much as they did when they were picturing them living in the movie Annie.

School's out next Friday! Today was Sports Day, Friday grades are due and we're walking to the Summer Garden (which is reportedly going to be closed for the next three years), Monday is Peterhoff, Tuesday is International Day...It's busy.

It's been six weeks since I got my nasty cold and I'm better but still not well. (I know I declared my sick posts tedious, but this has a little interest in the daily-life-in-Russia category...) I went back to the doctor (the cuteish one is on vacation so I saw an ent to actually examined me in such a way that I'd call him an nte...but didn't bother to mention that to him.) who has Rx'd....peach oil. I am to put ten drops in each side of my nose (the word nostril gives me the heebies) twice daily and do an inhalation treatment with it nightly. I was willing to give it a try (That's how rotten I feel. And, after two courses of antibiotics in six months--after none for seven years--I was only open to more herbal remedies anyway.). It's not helping. And even the school secretary (firm believer in things like drink vodka for bee stings) laughed at this Rx. Will go back Friday if not well. (NTE doc said I'd be well in three days with peach treatment. I even put some in my bath last night...to no avail.)

I'm making turkey noodle soup.

06 June 2008


Thank you all *so much* for pausing in your busy days to rejoice with me about my new flat. (Wondering if I can still call it a flat when there are stairs...would be hard to break that habit...)It was so nice to have good news to share with everyone. I am just thrilled about my new home.

Rachael commented that good news begets good news. (I guess that' s like sleep begetting sleep--a concept I wholeheartedly embrace.)

I just had an e-mail from my sw saying that she's already sent everything off to new agency. It should be there by the middle of next week!

We might actually get everything registered before the dreaded summer slowdown...

05 June 2008

definitely good news

They signed the lease! The new parking space and the flat that comes with it will be mine 1 July! I am simply overjoyed. I haven't seen it yet, but here are some pix from the realtor:

This is my new front door (mine! all mine!) and the courtyard outside.

Above, obviously is the kitchen. Do you see what I see? DRAWERS!! My flat right now has no drawers. Zero. How that's possible, I really don't know. I would have doubted it had you told me anyone would design and build and entire flat with no drawers. But this looks like I have at least four drawers--in one room! And, there are bottom cabinets. This is a big plus for someone who is the perfect height ( 5'2"--condolences for those of you who overshot the mark).

Below is the living room. Do you see the fireplace in there? It all looks so nice and homey. Did you notice that there is no wallpaper? No brown? No burnt pumpkin? No fir branches?

And, to top it all off, I don't have to do any of the packing or moving. Ahhh...life is definitely good!

04 June 2008

possibly good news (edited)

I *think*, from what I understand, that two of my sweet, sweet girls in 3.10 are on a month-long trial with an adoptive family. This would be L, who takes such good care of me when I visit and her sister, P, who is a gentle woman of faith--at age 9. I'm excited for them and for the hope this gives me for my other girls there...but sad that I didn't get to say goodbye. I'm going to see if a letter can be delivered to them somehow.

I just found out more information...or, rather, I had another conversation about the girls. (Maybe the new information is right, maybe it's not.) It seems that L may be going to this family alone. (She and P have an older brother in the children's home, too.) And, it's a one-month trial before they would foster her--not adopt her.

I know L knew about this, because she told me several times on our last visit that she would not be there for her birthday. (It's the end of this month.) I thought she was going to stay with relatives for the summer and then would be back. And, I thought she said P was going with her. I hope they're together. Watching the sisters in 3.10 take care of each other really makes me want sisters.

I am feeling worried and skeptical...

I'm hoping to go and visit before they go to camp. I just have to find out when they leave. Maybe I'll know more then. At least I'll know if P is with L or not.

01 June 2008

psych eval

I had my psych eval tonight--via telephone. The spychologist (I typed that wrong three times and finally decided it was meant to be) said, "Wow, Kate. You sound really, really prepared. You've got all your ducks in a row."

I'll refrain from further comment now because I'm just delighted that everything is FINISHED!

We just need my sw to send in her paperwork...Come ooooooon, sw!


Russia Today was reporting on International Children's Day activities. They said that...

there are 35 million children in Russia
25% of them live below the poverty level
88% of them are below minimum requirements to be judged "healthy"