19 April 2009

keeping busy

You guys are fab! How do people adopt who don't blog?

And, I've realized that I know a lot more Russian than I thought I did. As I was reading through your lovely lists, I didn't even have to think about how to say most of it in Russian. That makes me feel better. I also have half of a class ready to chatter away to me on Monday to remind me that I am an excellent ELL-communicator and teacher-of-English. That year at The Oxford School of Drama really paid off. ;>

I'm so glad to have my Russian teacher helping me. I was driving her home last week and was speaking to her like a child. She was doing something dangerous and I told her to "Be careful!" My Russian teacher told me that was not a strong enough warning for a child. That what I needed to tell her was "That is forbidden." Some of that, I think, is cultural. Children in the US are encouraged to explore and to find things out for themselves. I remember when I was visiting my friend Dawn in Ukraine. One of her friends there was shocked by how American treated their babies--putting them down to crawl and explore. The friend told me that Ukrainian babies were bundled up tightly and expected to sit still. I've recommended it countless times, but Two Worlds of Childhood by Urie Bronfenbrenner is an extremely interesting read that makes this point very clearly, even though it's dated and out of print. Children are raised to fit into the society of which they will be a part. So, at the beginning I can reassure d2b (and the orphanage workers, social workers, etc.) with familiar boundaries and vocabulary before we're home. Then the swaddling comes off and she can explore! (Figuratively speaking, nach.)

Today I'm finishing a photo book with captions to leave with d2b. (me, our house--which I think I'll replace with a page about St. Petersburg 'cause I think I'm moving, the cats--who need to pose together nicely for a new picture but aren't feeling amenable, family in the US, friends in St. P (current kindergarten class), friends in the US) I'll laminate and bind it at school. And, I'll leave a blank page and bring some contact paper so I can add a picture of us together.

I'm thinking that a bead kit would be good to bring for the first visit--a fun activity, lots to talk about and good fine-motor assessment all in one! I've got notebooks, coloring books, markers (shudder-will def. leave at the children's home), balloons, bubbles, nail polish, lots of chapsticks, and a beach ball. I might go look for more stickers. (Bex--what did you take to Julia?) I've got sticker books and eye-spy books...but those are for the plane. I've got wooden sewing cards, but those won't travel well. We can always go outside or just play with what's there.

I need to buy or borrow a video camera and a laptop. Electronics here are EXPENSIVE so I'm hoping for the "borrow" option.

Oh. No. You didn't miss anything. I still don't have news. I'm just packing my equivalent of the hospital bag and leaving it by the door.


Barb said...

Kate, I knew pretty much zero Russian - Stefan knew way more. For some reason, it just wouldn't stick in my head (and I was a language teacher, if you can believe it!) During our orphanage visits, we relied heavily on body language (Sofia was 5 when we met her) when our translator was not about. By the time we brought her home I had a friend write up a list of what I thought were useful phrases and kept in on the fridge. We used Russian for about 10 days and then she started speaking more and more Swedish. Of course, your circumstances are totally different, being that you live in SPB. But, in our case, the new language came much faster than we expected:) Hope you are enjoying your Sunday!!

Lauri said...

Busy is good...

can't wait for more good news

Anonymous said...

Kate - I am so excited reading your blog. It IS like the bag packed ready to go when the water breaks. The photo book sounds like a fabulous idea. One phrase I'm not sure was on your list is "Do you need help?" or the very-popular-in-my-house "do you want to help?" Ty likes to help do EVERYTHING. I think he just wants to interact with me. I expect a little girl would like this very much as well. We deal a lot with discipline here, but I think you will be dealing more with reassurances of love and security. You will do great with body language. Lots of smiles and hugs! Love, Nif

Annie said...

You are right about the drama....and it doesn't have to be yours. Sergei could act out ANYTHING! He was just amazing.

Odd you say that about the exploration and all.... Perhaps in Russia you need to say "It is forbidden." because who gives a rip about danger? Now, you have been there longer than I, by far....yet the one thing that really surprised me about Russia and children is how much freedom they seem to have to do dangerous things. Or, is this just orphanage children? I've always been pretty permissive this way, anyway. But I notice that whenever my four climb the crabapple trees out in front of our church building, everyone exclaims in horror (if I'm out there) or runs madly in to alert me that they are up there (if I'm working). It never in a million years occurred to me to prevent tree-climbing!

But my boys will climb on top of the house, hang out the third floor window and drop to the roof over the porch, etc. When the foster care worker was so adamant about our having an escape ladder, I wanted to tell her that in no household was such an item going to be of less use...(but thought maybe I shouldn't advertise their shenanigans.)

When I was visiting Sergei's boarding school, I was just amazed at how the children were given the run of the place....many, many acres. Thinking how securely in our grasp we keep the kids in our care at our school, I asked, "Don't you have supervisors out here to keep an eye on the children." The woman looked at me amazed, "No! They won't run away!" The fact that she didn't even consider MY meaning - they might get hurt, hurt one another, do something naughty or dangerous - emphasized to my mind what I'd already observed that Russian children are given a lot MORE freedom to explore than American kids.

So, I'm surprised by your observations. How are we seeing it differently?

I like Anonymous' idea. And I often ask my children to help me....so that form is important, too.

And, with young ones like you are hoping for - the language comes miraculously fast. Zhenya who came to us at 5 was speaking all English in a month...and he had me and Sergei to speak Russian to him! As fast as they learn English, though, they forget Russian if you don't put a stop to it! It will be a good experiment for you and your girl(s) to live in Russia together long enough for them to be bi-lingual.

Matt and Carla Morgan said...

I packed and repacked several times!! It was fun, felt productive and was a tangible reminder that there was a child at the end of the journey :)

I love that you're getting closer and are able to focus on these fun things.

By the way - I'm loving the Thursday Next books. Thanks so much for the rec!


Calico Sky said...

Your hospital bag sounds fab ;0)

Glad England was good for something.

How long has it been since you were back in the US? Will you get Parental/Adoption leave? So many questions, sorry!!

So excited for you Kate!

Rachael said...

Prepared? Hmmm. I remember visiting you two years ago and you were ready to go then! Pulling out the playdough for Katya...remember?

I think you will do JUST fine.

Andrea said...

lol @ hospital bag! I was actually wondering "wait, I've been catching up carefully, here, but did I miss a post?!"

I have a ridiculously planning sort of personality. I plan things that I will never actually do (I have more information on various vacation-package prices than I will ever, EVER need to use) just to make sure I don't drive my family crazy by trying to plan things they worry I actually expect to happen. So yes, I can definitely understand the need for a "hospital bag" in this case!

Tina in CT said...

Would you like me to buy stickers and bring them with me to Moscow when I fly to visit my daughter in May? She could mail them to you from there. Would they get through to you?

Unknown said...

Gotta jump in on the video camera idea. I am technically challenged when it comes to anything that captures memories. One of my dear friends (who has a great blog www.momadvice.com) gave me a Flip video camera before I left for Russia this last trip. It is SO easy to take video, play it back, upload it etc. Anya was even able to ue it!

Pickel said...

neilzia (phoenetically)...used it all the time with my little one.

I emailed you again and I hope it got through to you.

Melissa said...

We find Wikki Stix, pipe cleaners, and Brain Quest cards were a big hit on the plane. I am sure she would like playdoh too.