24 August 2008


Last Thursday, one of our teachers met a little six-year-old girl who introduced herself as Alesya. When asked for her patronym, the little girl said it was Petochka.

The teacher commented skeptically that Petochka was an unusual name.

The little girl was quick to reassure her. She said she'd even write it for my friend. She wrote:

Алися П.

П is "P". A period is called a "tochka".

Gotta love it!

23 August 2008


That means more than exhausted...not broken into infinitesimal pieces.

First week with students finished.

Four students with zero English (German, Dutch and two from South Korea). Boy:girl ratio is 3:1. Three students who are more than a year too young for second grade. (Parents, no matter how brilliant you child is, age does make a difference. And, actually, they may not be brilliant. They just may have gotten there sooner. Classmates generally catch-up and things even out by fourth grade or so. Please, please don't push your child ahead just because he/she is a good reader. Please.)

Musical auditions start Monday--no scripts, no theatre, and many third-grade parents worried about balancing homework and rehearsals.

Haven't checked personal e-mail in a week.

No phone. All you can hear on this end is static.

I slept THIRTEEN hours last night. And was in bed for about fifteen.

Lending the computer to a colleague who wants to watch the basketball gold-medal final.

Will be back soon...just not sure when.


ps No adoption news. No car news, either.

13 August 2008

it's time to put on make-up

You Are Kermit

Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.

You're a big thinker, and sometimes you over think life's problems.

Don't worry - everyone knows it's not easy being green.

Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!

11 August 2008

chalkboard beckons

Tomorrow is my last day of summer vacation. I am back in school on Wednesday. How crazy is that?! (Actually, I've already been back to start sorting things out in my new classroom.) It's been nice knowing you...

Since I know I'll be busy in the next few days and weeks (Seussical starts four days after school starts...) I'm going to ask you ap's--all of you lurkers (you can stay anonymous if you want to), too--to pitch in and tell me what Becky suggested in her most recent, beautiful post:

How old was your child when s/he came home?
What was the best thing you did to foster attachment?
What would you do differently?

These are questions I've asked many, many people during "the journey". Even if I've asked you this previously, I'd love to have you answer here. Having this in one place would be great! I am, of course, particularly interested in hearing from ap's of school-aged children and siblings. But, I think everyone's experiences are great to have stored in my back pocket. I've got lots of ideas and research stored away already. But, I'd love to hear what proved true for you! (It's especially nice that so many of you have hit the one- and two- years mark!)

Cheers, duckies!

10 August 2008

Olympics 2

I love the US coverage of the Olympics. You can see almost anything and anyone you want. MSNBC, USA, Oxygen...they all have different sports and different perspectives. Yesterday by flipping amongst those channels I saw equestrian events (yea!), fencing, swimming, volleyball, beach volleyball (Russia's first two-woman team vs. Australia)...

When watching in the UK, I got to see rowing. ROWING. The same race over and over...because that's where they medalled. (sp?) Really. The Olympic games continued, but we'd get to "have another look at" the. same. race. that we'd seen over. and. over.

(Language note: Things that Americans take--a shower, a walk, a look, a nap, etc.--Brits have. Interesting, huh? I think it all goes back to the British empire and the sense of ownership that gave. Americans are more active, conquering the wilderness and taming the frontier. We're a younger country and it's reflected in our speech.)

Even if you're only following the primetime US medal contenders, you get to see a wider range of sports and more competitors.

Team handball and boxing have been very big on the Russian channel, Sport. (Seriously, I do have questions about the sports that are in the Summer Olympics. Handball? Beach volleyball? Come on.)

The women's gymnastics qualifier is on live right now (on Russian tv). This round has (I think) Romania, China, Spain, Venezuela, and Canada. Guess who the Russian sport channel are covering to the exclusion of everyone else. China. I would've thought we'd get to see Romania...The only way I know Canada is even in this round is that I heard the announcer in the background. Interesting...

I was encouraged to hear the way the Chinese crowd and teammates cheered on a fallen gymnast. If you read this post, you'll remember thet Russian audience that would have nothing to do with skaters once they'd fallen. There were no encouraging cheers, no rooting for them to overcome the mistake and finish the routine. It really was powerful.

In the book Two Worlds of Childhood, Bronfenbrenner notes that one of the most commonly used disciplinary methods used by Russian mothers (it was in the Dr. Spock equivalent here) is withdrawl of affection. I've seen this and it's so much more, much deeper, much...colder than just ignoring an unwanted behavior. And, that seems to be the way they cheer for their athletes.

Also interesting was that once the Chinese gymnast fell I got to see Romania on floor and Hungary on beam.

(There must be a group competing right now who aren't with a team, but are wanting to qualify for individual competition.)

Final parenthetical supposition proved correct by the following diagram showing mixed groups three and four in the first subdivision:

Off to take a shower before subdivision two starts in half an hour. Wonder if and who we'll see on Russian television...

09 August 2008


Did I show you this picture I took when the Olympic torch came through St. Petersburg? (If so, just marvel in its beauty once again. I like this picture and am not going to go check.)

I love watching the Olympics! I, like so many others, am partial to figure skating in the Winter Olympics and gymnastics in the Summer Olympics. I also love watching equestrian events. For the last two summer Olympics, I was living in England. I had no idea how biased sports reporting is. When watching gymnastics in 2000, there was a huge roar that went up from the crowd. The presenter (they present rather than commentate) said, "That's just the Americans cheering for one of their gymnasts." And then they didn't show us what had happened!

I am very happy to have US coverage of the Olympics. I know that it's biased--it has to be. But, Americans have big hearts. We love a good determination-filled story--and an underdog. I feel like the coverage on US television is more representative of the entire games, that we get to follow not only the stories of US athletes, but also stories of athletes from around the world--especially those that are very skilled or have faced enormous odds.

And I get to see why the Americans are cheering.

Volleyball is on right now. I don't even care about volleyball, but it's the Olympics, it's live, and I'm watching it. Japan is looking tough--passing well and blocking our 6'7" (seriously) player. But the crowd, the CROWD is oohhh-ing the big rallies and chanting "U-S-A!"

It sounds like the Olympics to me.

(ps How 'bout the little nine-year-old boy who accompanied Yao Ming and the Chinese flag at the opening ceremony? He was trapped in the Sichuan earthquake last May and, after getting free, went back and helped to free two classmates from the rubble. When asked why he went back (Who would ask why he went back? Of course you go back!), he replied, "Well, you see, I am a leader in the class. That was my responsibility." Way to go, Lin Hao!)


1. The floors are *not* wood. They are plastic. They are photographs of wood put on plastic. I was surprised at how nice they looked in the photos. They don't look or feel nice in person.

2. No sun really is a big deal for me. It's August and I've been treating SAD for the last six weeks. I know what to do--get out, exercise, eat a banana, take some St. John's wort. But, the thing is, when you're in the middle of SAD, sometimes that seems too hard. Sometimes you just want to sit around in your pajamas...and you wonder how necessary a shower really is. (But, if you don't shower, you won't go out and take a walk or buy bananas. Tricky, eh? It all hinges on the bathroom. Get to the bathroom--that's where both the shower and the St. John's wort are.)

Mind over matter. Get up. Move. Clean. Eat. Do. I just have to be much more purposeful about these things when there is no sun. And sometimes I do just sit in my pajamas--but not two days in a row. I wonder, if I'm treating myself like it's January now, what January in this flat will actually be like.

3. I'm glad you liked my cozification of the living room. I do, too. It's a nice place to sit around in your pajamas. ;>

05 August 2008

boxes & later

I don't really have before and after pix of the inside of my new flat...because I never saw it "before" and I don't know if I'll ever make it to "after". But, I do have pix of "boxes" and "later" (which I just took for you today).

(I hate it when a television epi starts exactly the way the epi before it ended, so that was a JOKE!)

You enter the house and come into the kitchen. The entry is very tight. My desk wouldn't fit. You creep around a giant standing closet, hugging the wall, and come into the kitchen.

<-Here is the box- (and stupidity-) filled kitchen
and there it is later -->
(less stupid but far from brilliant). The person who designed it made it sound good on paper...but didn't make it very functional.

Can you see the edge of the round table in the boxed picture? It took up soooo much room! It extended further than the tumble dryer and went all the way to the 'fridge. That made it impossible to get into the cabinet below and really difficult to get around the kitchen.

Here, on the right, is more evidence of stupidity. The opened cabinets in the picture on the right aren't really cabinets. Instead, they are a water heater, a drying rack, a dishwasher and a washing machine. And those cabinets on the far right? Really difficult to open.

That's a clothes drying rack opened to try to show you how small the kitchen is. (With the stupid table it couldn't fit.) The kitchen photographs much larger than it is because I can stand in the living room to take the pictures. Still, with that round table taken down, it's much better. (Behind the door is the downstairs shower room and sauna that is now storage.)

This was and is the living room. The couch was crammed under the window with the tv in the corner. The table took up most of the room. There was an armchair under the stairs.

I undecorated and re-arranged furniture, putting the table under the window and the couch and chair grouped around the fireplace. I moved the tv and my computer to this area and added a rug. The dresser, which was in my bedroom in my last flat, now holds dvd's and a few videos--movies in the top drawer, tv in the middle, children's in the bottom. I couldn't really do anything with the landlord's china cabinet, though I was tempted to fill it with books. Instead, my books are in the baskets by the window...and the blue tubs under the stairs...and the boxes in the sauna. The cheap, yellow fabric of the couch and chair are encased in my slipcovers and new pillow cases from IKE@. My pb striped pillows always make me happy.

This is my favorite room in the house.

This is the room at the top of the stairs. It is meant to be the computer room. I tried to use it that way. But, there are no windows in this room. It was just too depressing to spend as much time up there as I spend on the computer. So, now it's the kitten's room. Eventually it could be a guest room (the taupe-slipcovered couch pulls out into a bed...though not a comfy one) or just more storage. Again, this room is s-m-a-l-l. I don't know why they didn't make two good-sized bedrooms with windows and a nice, large bathroom out of this top floor instead of putting in useless rooms and miniscule bathrooms.

This is my bedroom. It's a nice, large room. The wardrobe is ridiculous. I cannot even touch the hanging bar when I stand on my tiptoes.

At the end of the stairs, there was another couch. ANOTHER couch. There are four couches and two big armchairs in this place. I moved this one into the shower in the downstairs bath. I put my laundry stuff in its place--the rolling hamper and ironing board. Now, I've swapped that and moved the laundry things to my room and suitcases to this space. The catbox is behind the door. There is no room for it in my (now) polka-dotted bathroom that is the size of an airplane bathroom with a tub stuck on the side. Seriously. The only thing you can't see in the picture is the sink.

And this darling room (ha!) is the one for d2b. Yep. This could be why I got so upset. But, we moved the armchair to the useless computer room and then I moved the couch and covered it with the duvet cover from my last flat's guest room. Not knowing if I'll be here when she/they come home or if I'll be moving to another flat, I didn't buy a bed. (In the other flat, the second bedroom has a bed. Shocker.) And, since I don't know if "d" is singular or plural yet, I don't know if I need a twin bed or bunkbeds. Either way, it will go where the couch is in the boxed picture. That spot now is filled with orphanage donations...which I can deliver when my car is fixed. (Some are for Christmas. 'Most every time I go to the store, I pick something up either for the girls in 3.10 or for Christmas presents.) But, you can see that the tote bag from France is hanging on the doorknob, Noah's ark is on the wall, the doll's cradle is filled with friends (no dolls until I know what d2b looks like...), and the closet is organized.

And that's it! I hope you liked the tour. I think I've done a good job with what I had...and knowing that this temporary home needs to feel more home than temporary.

p.s. This post took forever to compile...though I have no doubt it will not publish as it previewed... so enjoy!

04 August 2008

new flat

Okay, okay...but it's not as exciting as you are making it out to be.

Here's my building again.

But, instead of having the top four windows on the left-hand side, now you go in through the center gate (under the middle balcony) and enter the courtyard. (It's too narrow between the back of the part of the building I used to live in and the center part of the building for me to take a picture of it all. It's a narrow, rectangular space. Below is about one-third of the courtyard.) These doors used to belong to the stable. (Obviously, they're being restored as we photographed.) I walk through the tunnel to the right of the doors.

Coming out of the tunnel, the courtyard greenspace we were teased with is on the left (I didn't take this picture--the realtor did in November. There were people on the benches the day I did this photo-essay for you, so I didn't photograph it. I am not suitably dressed to go out of the house and re-take this picture for you today.) but I go to the right, through this little tunnel

into my courtyard, turning right again after the tunnel. That's my door on the far right. Can you see that my flat is below ground-level from these pix? You go two step down from the entry level. Nice security bars. And I really do have the nicest windows. The door on the left, under my bedroom and beside my living room, has a loud beeping security system. And, as we can tell by the white plates, neither of those cars parked right outside my flat is mine.

And these are my noisy upstairs neighbors. I can hear e-v-e-r-ything that goes on up there. Seriously. Sometimes I wake up thinking there's someone in my room. (That hasn't happened in a while. I must be acclimating.)

This is what you see if you stand with your back against my door. (Remember, it is my own door. That's very nice! It's one of those little things that ex-pat living makes me appreciate.)You can't see this much sky from inside the house. Wasn't it a beautiful sky this day?

This is looking up, to try to show you the well-like quality of my courtyard.
See what I mean when I said that I went from the family's rooms to the working part of the house? I bought a shopping cart (I call them babushka bags) to get groceries from the street to my door--with a hand still free for d2b. In the winter I'm going to use a sled. ;>

I don't really have before and after pix of the inside of my new flat...because I never saw it "before" and I don't know if I'll ever make it to "after". But, I do have pix of "boxes" and "later" (which I just took for you today). I'll post those for you tomorrow. I'd do a slide show, but I think I need to commentate.


Beazy (my cat--named for Beatrice in Much Ado) is bored and a little depressed since we've moved. She can't watch birds anymore. She's got no patches of sunshine in which to doze. And this place just smells weird-which is unsettling.

I am going to be away on referral and court and pick-up trips in the next year (!), and Beazy will be alone for weeks.

Beazy likes company. She likes to be with people. Well, Beazy likes to be with me. Her favorite days are Saturdays when we just loll around. (She's an excellent loll-er and napper.) She'll be lonely without me.

D2b will likely want to play with Beazy, who will likely not want to play with d2b.

A new kitten would be too fragile for d2b.

Introducing a cat to a new kitten takes time. A young kitten is more easily tolerated than an older cat when introduced into a home.

So we got a kitten last Friday.

Her name is still undecided, but I'm leaning towards Hermia and calling her Mia. Miranda and Olivia and Thisbe are all in the running, too. I think Russian kittens look like little foxes--very pointed noses and big ears. This little kitten also resembles a house elf...

Beazy (my gorgeous, loyal cat) is not impressed and is desperately trying to spot birds instead.

01 August 2008

quick "btw"

I have always had lots of little people in my life. I was a summer-nanny, camp counselor, youth group leader, Sunday school/vbs/children's choir/drama/dance teacher and youth theatre dirctor all throughout high school and college...and beyond.

I just saw one of my little people buy her first place, (which actually wasn't a nighmare) thanks to hgtv. (It was just background noise while I checked your blogs.) Fun! She has grown (no surprise) into a very lovely, gracious woman. Welcome home, Meg!