30 December 2008


Remember votemom cheering things on last January with
2008 is the year for Kate!

I guess 2009 will do just fine. ; >

Although, as is obvious by the bovine craze here, next year is the year of the bull in whatever calendar that is (Chinese?). And, frankly, I think I've had enough bull already. How can there be more? A whole year dedicated to the bull seems a bit much.

That's right. I keep forgetting. Segues are for children.
--my friend Suzanne during innumerable conversations.

As I was driving home from the orphanage today (Yes, yes--but those posts need to percolate. First they have to be treasured up in my heart. Then I can share.) I was thinking back to last year, when I brought dolls to my girls in 3.10. They have grown up so much this year!

And, I can honestly and truly say that I am grateful not to have had d2b home in 2008. This last year with these girls...was a privilege and a delight. It was a gift. Being with them breaks my heart and then fills the pieces with joy...over and over again.

29 December 2008


During the great internet debacle of winter 2008, our heroine received word from her agency that the rep in her chosen region (chosen FOR HER, mind) was requesting two more bits of paper from the local municipality. Those two bits of paper would require every single piece of documentation already filed. ALREADY FILED.

Our plucky heroine groaned aloud and then gathered her resolve. She electronically mailed the assistant to the mover and shaker (becuase mover and shaker has been persistenly absent) at her agency and requested either another region or that the doucments already submitted be used for this latest request. Our heroine met with a wall of resistence to changing regions. Since "no one was in line in front of her in this region" the wait, she was told, would be shorter. Assistant m&s failed to recognize that waiting for recompilation of documents was still waiting!

Using a secret signaling device, our heroine contacted the rep in her city of residence, Super G. Super G, bless her a million times over, declared this latest request "useless" and was indignant. Super G and our heroine had already discussed this with the local municipality prior to the last home visit. Municipality woman had declared that it was not necessary to do everything twice.

Armed with this quote about the uselessness of the request, our heroine proceeded to telepathically (or telephonically) contact the asst. m&s who basically said, "Oh. Okay. I'll see if you really need this. If you do I'll send you paperwork for another region." Heroine arranges to contact asst. a week from Wednesday.

Our heroine claims this as a triumph, tosses her cape into the hamper and prepares for bed. For tomorrow there will be more battles to fight...and a good night's rest is her secret weapon.

*Happy* Christmas

There are lots of little happy things...

It's been just the right cold for Christmas. It's been ranging from -5C up to freezing. That means you don't really need an extra layer under your coat. And, we've had lots of pretty, fluffy snow falling.

The flowers I got on Christmas eve are still lovely. I don't know what they are...like crimson gerber daisies and green and white spiky-petalled ones.

I found cinnamon candles!

My bed looks like a giant candy cane--all red and white sheets, blankets, spread, duvet.

Since I folded up the duvet to reveal more of the red spread, the cats have spent more time curled up on my bed. Seeing them there is just a picture of contentment.

I was invited to the Christmas party at "my" orphanage. More on that later.

So. It's truly a happy Christmas season here. I just have to look for it. Keep looking for you happy.

songs that make you go hmmm

Before we leave the Christmas season...

Did anyone have any "carol epiphanies" this year?

I got all choked up over the line "Bless all the dear children in thy tender care." For the first time (I think...I don't remember this happening before...) there were so many faces of children who have become dear to me and need that loving care.

I always wonder at "Lo, He abhors not the virgin's womb." I mean, why would He? Isn't it kind of like moving into a brand new house that no one else has lived in?

Anybody else?

28 December 2008


I have internet at home!

This makes me much, much less glum.

But, I have this all typed out and saved...and it is true...so I'll post it. But don't worry.

New posts soon! I just have a million and four e-mails to wade through and general life to get on with first.


A lengthy dissertation on the state of glum

I am not one to dwell on misery. (Let other pens do that, right Jane?) But sometimes you have to really dig through the dung heap to find the beetles…or some such metaphor. Though why you’d want beetles, I’m not sure… And lately even those beetles have been few and far between. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been blogging. When I was a youth group leader and was constantly looking for everyday examples to illustrate my lessons, I saw them everywhere. Maybe blogging with a positive spin—because d2b will read this one day—helps keep my positivity at the fore. But right now, I’m not feeling very positive. I'm a little glum.

I also think I may be misleading you about life here. I get e-mails from people who have adopted saying they want to come and live in Russia—that they loved it here and want to move back. While I do not doubt the sincerity of these desires, I am going to humbly suggest that this might be like buying a t-shirt at a concert. It's not that you particularly want or need another t-shirt. But, you know—you go to a great concert (or play) and have an amazing experience and want to capture that emotional high. So you buy a t-shirt.

Living in Russia is different from visiting Russia. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been here too long. This is a "hardship posting" for the diplomats. It's a very nice hardship post, but is a hardship post nonetheless. At first I thought that it was ludicrous to categorize life here that way. Now, I'm beginning to understand. I find, and the other ex-pats here find, living in Russia, well, foreign and difficult. It could be limited to the life I have in this city. I can only say, from my experience, that a four-year tee shirt is too expensive and won’t wash well.

Try this for a week:

Use no internet. Don’t blog, e-mail, shop, pay bills, research, or download movies. Don’t watch any television.

Don’t use your home telephone because all you hear is static. Use your mobile, but only outside of your house.

Don’t drive anywhere. Walk or ask colleagues for rides everywhere you need to go.

Don’t use your ATM card (I’m cardless right now). And, be prepared for your credit card to be refused with no warning as a result of over-vigilant anti-fraud measures. Even though you’ve TOLD them repeatedly that you live. in. Russia. When credit card is refused, abandon all purchases and call it a day.

Accomplish no more than one errand per day—but take all day to accomplish that one.

Some variables cannot be replicated in your week-long experiment. You are going to be surrounded by people who smile. You will not be stared at maliciously for simply being American. (I’m quiet and don't speak English on the streets but I will wear my American boots and coat. That’s enough to get me looks of death. I used to apologetically smile and look away. Now, I stare back until they look away. These stare-offs last an uncomfortably long time. But I’m sick of it!)

You won’t be thrown under the bus-literally. Let’s say there’s a path cleared that’s two-persons wide. You and a friend are walking side by side. Another person is approaching. I’m willing to bet that without even THINKING about it, you and your friend will drop to single file so that the approaching person will be able to pass. That doesn’t happen here. The twosome (or threesome or foursome) will continue to muscle through. The single approacher can either step off the cleared path into the muck, or lower her shoulder and body check the inside man. Guess what I’ve been doing lately? Yep. Thank goodness for college football. This non-sharing happens when groups meet groups on the streets, too. It’s like living in West Side Story.

If you were actually here, courtesies I consider common would vanish. No one would hold a door for the person behind them. I live in the courtyard of a building. There is a big, iron gate through which you must pass to enter. Countless times, I’ve slowed my progress and waited to hold the door open for someone approaching behind me only to watch them let the door slam shut in the face of the person behind them. No one takes notice of the fact that someone’s arms are full of shopping and just HELPS. (Now, I’ve heard that this changes for people with young children and babushkas. I hope to experience that first exception, but not the second!)

These little things are wearing. There is a combative feeling on the streets. It’s not fun. And it’s worse in winter.

While you’re doing this week-long experiment, do it by yourself—no spouse, no friends (friendly colleagues are allowed to an extent, but no one to whom you would share more than pleasantries). Surround yourself with people who do not share your beliefs and world-view.

I don’t know if a week would really give you an idea of what this is like. A week with no technology is a vacation. Six weeks—particularly at Christmas--is a nightmare. Three-and-a-half years of this life is feeling like a long time. There is an exponential weariness that comes with living here. Add to that an apartment that is small and DARK. I’m sure things will get better as it gets lighter. And, I think I’ve convinced them to move me next year to an apartment that is roomier and lighter.

It hasn’t been a fun six weeks. I’ve gotten old (more wrinkles and my first sliver hairs—which actually look like my blonder bits but are a different texture. My sister says they’re caused by four-year-olds, so…maybe…). I didn’t go to the school Christmas party (no loss really, I’m decidedly *not* a party girl in any sense) because I was simply bursting into tears every time I opened my mouth. I think I was just feeling completely out of control—I couldn’t get my car or my internet fixed. I couldn’t order my niece and nephew’s birthday presents or anyone’s Christmas presents. New agency just said that I am not registered in any region and that I won’t be until I duplicate my entire hs dossier for a Russian sw to review. Someone I thought was my friend made a disparaging remark about me (I don’t know what it was because it was in fast, quiet Russian—but the jerk of the chin and the accompanying snicker were easily understood) right in front of me to our IMPOSSIBLE, vain, IT-nazi (who won’t listen and is mac incapable). That betrayal made me doubt all the other “friendlyships” I thought I had here. It was clear to me that I am still the outsider.

Oh, and please don’t say, “I could never live like that.” That’s my new pet peeve. I’m just sick of people telling me, “I could never wait as long as you have to adopt.” “I couldn’t live without internet.” because you know what—you could. You just DO. And somehow those statements seem to be blame-filled, as if I’m not doing everything I can to get my internet fixed and d2b home; as if there is an unspoken “I’d xyz and make it happen” on the end. Believe me, I've run the alphabetical gamut of possibilities.

Kind of a grumpy way to come back, huh? (And, I’m typing this into word on Christmas Eve, of all times, to save for when I do have internet. At least if it’s on paper, it might quit rattling around in my head.)

Please come back. I’ve got some amusing esl stories to share…

26 December 2008


This one is for after Christmas. (But I'm typing it before...)

Still no internet.
Possibly a car...
Discouraging news from agency. (I wish they lived on the range. Or maybe I am supposed to move out to the range...) Just delays. And more delays.

Pressing on.

A long, grumbly post is all typed in Word and saved on my home computer for when internet is restored.

Wish yahoo wasn't blocked from school's server...

Miss you.

24 December 2008

be ye merry

Snuck into school after the tech guy left to send you warm Chrismas greetings.

I, myself, am striving to claim the words of this song as my own this holiday season:

God rest you, Kate (though neither merry nor a gentleman).

Let nothing you dismay.

Remember: Christ our saviour was born on Christmas day to save us all from Satan's power when we had gone astray.

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy!

Oh tidings of comfort and joy!

Since the best present to give is one that you want yourself, that's what I'm sending each of you this Christmas.


And Joy!

Tomorrow I'll open an anticipated card from my forever friend (30+ years = forever) and go to church. I'll borrow a friend's phone so I can call my niece and nephew. It will be a nice, quiet day.

p.s. Look what I found under my tree! Beazy was snoozing there so contentedly that I had to let her stay--even though the little Christmas tree (story forthcoming) is on the usually verboten table. After I took the picture I looked closer and saw evidence of Mia--a fallen angel and a toy mouse deposited by Dyed Moros' feet.

09 December 2008


I have water!

Still no internet.

Still no car.

Still no news.

But, I do have full cupboards and an empty laundry basket. ;>

03 December 2008

one thousand and counting

Happy 1000th day!
Many are the plans in (Kate's) heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

I had a feeling when I shared my hopes for news on this day that I'd get to share that verse from Proverbs with you instead. So, I guess that plan worked out the way I thought...in a convoluted sort of way...

I've been thinking today about all I planned as far as this adoption is concerned.

I signed with first agency in March (2006). I thought that was a good time because it gave me a year before I wanted to bring d2b home. The agency thought we'd be home by Christmas 2006, but I told them that March 2007 was better for me--it would let my maternity leave run into summer vacation. And, I told them that I knew other families were longing to be home by Christmas. I told them I was happy to wait. March 2007 would be perfect.

So much for that planI planned to bring d2b (plural) home to my big, sunny, quiet flat.

I planned to be back in the USA by now.

I planned to have water, internet and a working car. All. the. time. (Still 0 for 3 there...)

Even though the plans I made are not bearing the fruit I expected (like planting an apple seed and getting a pomegranite), the plans that are being made on my behalf and of behalf of d2b, the plans that are purposed for us, are more wonderful than I can possibly imagine. They're perfect. They're so perfect my little mind, which can't see all the ripples, couldn't plan them. So, I'll just keep trustfully waiting. And hoping. With my eyes fixed on the prize. s.

Thanks for joining me in celebrating the fact that today I'm 1000 days closer to d2b!

I did e-mail new agency today to ask if there was any smidgen of news...