28 June 2009


There used to be a picture here.
It was of my beautiful Sasha. And me.
I'll put it back sometime.

That should keep you busy until I'm back...

surprise, surprise

no internet at the new house. i can watch my sling, but can't open firefox or safari. IT from school is coming monday (fingers crossed) to sort it out.

i've got a great car story for you.

27 June 2009


"You'll be with me, like a handprint on my heart."

26 June 2009

her name...

is, and will continue to be, Sasha. She's Alexandra. Middle name disclosed after court!

Having thought I might keep her name as her middle name and add a new first name (Sasha is neither one of my favorites nor one of the can't -stands...except I'm worried someone might mistake me for an Obama supporter. Nah. Never happen.), I was surprised at how unquestioningly I kept her name. Really, as people keep saying who have done the same thing, I feel like it's all she has. And I can't take that away from her.

Not judging--just how it played out for us.

Now, if in time she wants to change it, well and good.

And we can always Americanize the nickname.

See? That was worth signing on to a private blog.

Answering comments:
Jim, of *course* families are included. And thank you and your family for your prayers.

Melissa, yes, it's a new USCIS requirement. If your paperwork says that you're requesting "minor, correctable health conditions" and you are referred a child whose paperwork indicates otherwise, there are now visa problems. Now you have to either have paperwork changed (including a hs update) to match or get a doctor to do a private evaluation and say that actually the issues are minor and correctable. We're hoping that the doctor who examined her will do that for us. Hoping.

25 June 2009

so, here we are.

As soon as everyone has sworn the oath of non-disclosure we can get started. Please leave your own oon-d in the comments with a suitably traumatic consequence for breaking it. (Katie, I suggest something with birds.)Seriously. Go comment.

My blog was in a recent Aeroflot in-flight magazine. It made me nervous. It got me some snarky comments.

So, I wrote to Aeroflot and asked them not to quote me again. I put that completely useless pseudo-copyright on the top. And I was still nervous. So, now we're private.

One reason for privacy--I moved yesterday. And new agency is saying to just.say.nothing. That makes me a little nervous...especially because the notary in-region was skeptical about my address (which actually has the wrong apartment listed...but it's the same on every piece of paper, so I'm not saying anything about that, either) and changed the wording to say "She says she live at xyz". Nice, huh?

But re-doing MORE paperwork at this point might make me weep. So, I'm taking their advice and saying nothing.

Here we are:

I'm in the yellow building, above the (overpriced) produkti. I use the door without a sign or awning.

It's a much nicer layout for d2b. But, it's NOISY with the boats on the canal and there was zero water pressure this morning. Also, there is no track for a shower curtain. It's a wet room...but I'm not really keen on that.

Still, it's light, has real hardwood floors and is just a much pleasanter place. Pix once I've unpacked (give me few days).

23 June 2009

a little privacy, please

Friends, I'm temporarily taking this blog private shortly. If I "know" you, you can look for an invite in the next couple of days. (Don't panic if you don't hear from me until the weekend. It's a little busy here...)

This might be precipitous, but I'm just feeling like I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Faithful lurkers, please keep checking back. Once we've had court and d2b is home I'll make it public again. I do want to you to be able to share in what it takes to get us down this homestretch...but I don't want to do anything that might jeopardize actually BRINGING her home. I'm sure you wouldn't want that either.

Hoping to be back soon...

22 June 2009

so now...

So, what's next? Well, first I need to find my car. (Yep. Towed again. And I can't find it!) Then...


D2b has a "diagnosis" in her paperwork that doesn't match up with my paperwork. We asked if they'd change hers, and they won't. So, I have to change mine.

I've had new fingerprints done (they'll be back in two weeks), a new psych update written (notarized copy to the agency on Wednesday), new bank details notarized (yea, agency) and am waiting for a new child abuse clearance. THEN we can update the US hs (and maybe the Russian hs, too) and my visa. Her visa.

THEN, when that's all done, my papers and all her papers will be presented to the court. If it's all okay, a court date will be issued. If it's not, more paperwork will be requested. (During the summer, there is only one judge working at a time, so things slow down. But, I'm still hoping we're home before my birthday in mid-September. It's possible.) Once I have my court date, I'll have my eight doctor medical exam done here. (There are no gp's in Russia, only specialists. So, to prove I'm healthy, I have to see a cadre of doctors. Fortunately I can do this at my local clinic.)

Then we have court. Then we wait two weeks. Then we fly to the US. Then we come home!

Please pray for my little one while she waits. I really don't think she understands why I'm gone. Pray for her to be safe, for someone to love her, for peace and reassurance. Pray that she'll remember, that this doesn't break the fragile trust that was forming. Pray that knowing she has a Mama who is coming back for her will give her strength and confidence.

Please pray for the people completing my paperwork and hers. Pray for the judge. And pray for a quick reunion.

Do you know what? D2b came into the orphanage the same time I changed agencies.

21 June 2009

hers and mine

Have you read the book, Two Little Girls? I read it ages ago and, quite frankly, can't remember if it was good or not. I do vividly remember thinking that I hoped her children, especially her second daughter, never read that book.

So, I'm cautious about sharing.

I've read so many stories, and have become vf's with families who've brought home little six- and seven-year-old girls from Russia. After a settling-in period, which seems to often include some very physical moments, these girls hit the ground running.

Their backgrounds, however, are quite different to my little bunny's. We're not going to be running any time soon. We're going to be having a nice leisurely walk. And it's a walk I'm so looking forward to taking! But, I'm not sure that it's one I'm going to be blogging. We'll see.

I'm going to be discreet from now until court. You'll just have to bear with me and know that it's all worth it. ;>

Let's see...

She is not at all what I expected.
We are perfect for each other.
  • I'm a teacher.
  • I was a psych major...until I realized all I could do was go to grad school...which would postpone my acting career even further.
  • I ended up with a psych minor.
  • My focus was on children--developmental psychology.
  • I've had an interest in, and done much research about, the challenges d2b has in front of her.
  • I've got lots of clothes in her size. ;>
Everyone who sees us--the examining doctor, my agency staff, the sw, the director of the orphanage thinks we're a good match, one that is more than good, one that is deep and strong and true. My child-charming skills, while not a surprise to me, were a source of amazement to many onlookers. The sw was very impressed that I was "a professional".

It wasn't until the second day that I knew. It was then that I realized that if I'd prayed for the right child to be referred to me first, then I'd best open my eyes to why this was the right child, instead of worrying about why I might not be the right Mama for her. It was that second morning, when I was walking to get a Coke before we left, that I realized I couldn't really put a limit on my obedience. I am adopting because I know it is what I'm supposed to do. So, who am I do say that I'll obey up to a point but no further? That actually made me laugh. I was much calmer going in the second day. And I knew when I saw her again that she was mine, and I was hers.

Even though I didn't know it at the time, I started being her Mama about five minutes after they brought her to me, a scared little bird, so worried about what to do and determined to do things correctly, and then proceeded to read her history out in front of her. I was livid!

She understands my Russian. She listens to me, and turns to me, instead of to the translator. (After my second translator's first day, which was the second day, I had to get her to back off and stop trying to push things. It isn't her job to bond with d2b or to run a dog-and-pony show. And, frankly, what she thought was important I didn't. I gave her the cameras to keep her busy. It helped...but she's not a great photographer.)

She is more agreeable than any child I've ever met. Ever. She does everything willingly and wholeheartedly.

She loves balloons and balls. She like puzzles and games and drawing. She likes hearts and stickers. We had so much fun playing with some wooden farm animals I found. (We made the goat a cow and then a dog. There was no dog. How can there not be a sabaka?)

She has never had a choice and doesn't really know how to make one. She will choose between two activities, but was very perplexed when we asked her what color shoes I should bring her. Several colors were suggested and she was still perplexed. When I told her, "Mama will choose?" I got a big grin (oh, those dimples), an emphatic nod and a big sigh of relief.

She's figured out what makes me smile (like her dramatic, tak, tak, tak --kind of like "so" and kind of just a thinking, tongue-clucking noise--while she's thinking or looking for an answer) and does it purposely. She mirrors the way I'm sitting. If my chin is in my hand, hers will be moments later.

She has scars over both eyebrows that look like injuries that should have been stitched and weren't.

She is a teeny-tiny little peanut. She's 111 cm tall and weighs...not nearly enough!

She is very precise in everything that she does. She is eager to please and to do things the. right. way. She looks into my eyes and just searches.

She has the sweetest voice, the deepest dimples, the most gorgeous eyes.

She cried every day when I left. This, her panic the first day, her inconsolablity the second, her determination the third and her melting into my hug on the last day broke my heart four different ways.

I left her a stuffed elephant (what else?) that I'd been sleeping with for weeks so that it would smell like me (the best connector to memory). Elephants never forget. They promised to let her sleep with it. My arms are so empty without that elephant.

She loved her photo book about her new life--home, cats, school, friends and family. She likes that she will have three uncles. She likes her toys and her dresses. She was excited about the circus. She said she will throw the mouse for Mia. (Mia is thrilled.) But her absolute favorite page, the one she poured over every time we looked at it, was a page with photos of the two of us. She was just amazed. We decorated the book with stickers. She was ready to go home on Thursday--and I was so ready to take her! They said they would read her book with her.

She is mine and I am hers.

She needs to come home. Now.

20 June 2009

in the pink

Yep. D2b likes pink.

Hoping she like periwinkle, too. ;>

slideshow help?

I have a slideshow, created on my mac in iPhoto that is saved as a Quicktime .mov file. I'd like to upload it using blogger's video button, but can't figure out how. It just says it's loading FOR.EV.ER.

Any help out there?

17 June 2009

"ten minutes ago"

I had this all preloaded to post Monday, but I wasn't singing it until last night. And this morning. And now...

Ten minutes ago, I saw you.
I looked up when you came through the door.
My head started reeling.
You gave me the feeling
The room had no ceiling or floor.

Ten minutes ago, I met you,
And we murmured our "How-do-you-do's?"
I wanted to ring out the bells
And fling out my arms
And to sing out the news:

I have found her!
She's an angel,
With the dust of the stars in her eyes.

We are dancing.
We are flying!
And she's taking me back to the skies.

(Please excuse Lesley Ann Warren. Dreadful. Almost as bad as Audrey as Eliza or Whatserface as Guinevere. But Stuart Damon is so joyful!)

D2b has nearly-black hair and golden-brown eyes.
And dimples.
She's a little peanut, can be a frightened rabbit, and is certainly a survivor.

More about the trip once I'm home. But, I thought you'd want to know.

11 June 2009

for cuteness' sake

and for no other reason. So don't go thinking there's some clue here (seriously--I.don't.know.anything.):

I love how "lmno" came out. ;>

Too busy to even take a pretty picture for you. Leaving on Saturday.

10 June 2009

mouths of babes

On the way out the door today (I'm not sure what started this) one of my big-hearted students (whose brother I taught last year and whose younger sibs I have next year) earnestly told me,

"Miss X, there are so many important things you need to find out about her. Like her birthday. Can you imagine if you didn't know that?"

"You're right, Kealan. That is important. That's probably the first thing I'll find out."

"No." he replied emphatically, halting in his homeward journey and facing me in all seriousness. "First," he continued emphatically, "you've gotta know her name."

* * * * * * * * * *
Former students (current fifth graders) were wondering about d2b while I was on playground duty this morning (a duty I love). One of the girls asked me if I had a picture of her in my mind. I told her that I tried really hard not to so that I wouldn't be disappointed. The girls went on to say that they have been imagining her. They think she will have big, brown (or blue) eyes and shoulder-length light brown hair. They think she will be rather petite (or not). Her name is likely Olya or Nastia (or something really unusual for a Russian name). This varies depending on whether you asked Vani (or Neta).

07 June 2009

preparing myself

So, let's see... I have

  • booked an apartment
  • made train reservations
  • decided on what activities to bring for our visits (beads, matching game, puzzle, paper & markers, nail polish, balloons, eye-spy book, sticker book, activity book)
  • looked through my stash of clothes
  • updated almost all of my pre-court paperwork (still need sw to do her thing and to get my fingerprints done. again. waiting for cards to arrive as non-card prints didn't work last time.)
  • arranged for a doctor to visit the orphanage on the second day
  • lost my watch and lens cap (they're the ever-helpful "somewhere")
  • mentally packed
I'm keeping track of everything on spiral bound index cards. This is brilliant (and not just because I thought of it). It lets me have multiple lists--to do, to bring, for agency, for sw, for school, to buy--but keep them all in one place. I love it.

According to the genius-spiral-bound-index-card-organizational-system I still need to
  • do a little shopping (a specific game, a new lens cap, possibly a digital video recorder)
  • confirm cat care
  • grocery shop for this week
  • clean
  • put away laundry
  • wrap up the school year (BIG to do there...field trip, sports day, game day, math assessment, grading, report cards, good-bye party, make photo dvd's, get pillow cases for the kids to sign for leaving students, phone and in-person interviews of prospective students...)
  • meet with the movers for them to see how much stuff I have
  • hand off some orphanage donations to V--and pack the rest in my car to await my return
  • sub plans for while I'm away (yes, they'll still be working the last week of school)
  • leave to attend graduation in five minutes

So, I'm a little busy. It's probably THE worst week for me to miss at school. And, yet, no one begrudges me this time at all. There's just a lot to do so that my absence is less inconvenient than it could be. But, no matter what gets accomplished and what doesn't I'll be in-region in a week (I'm going a day early to help with sleep and my composure.) ready to meet a little girl who may be d2b. We'll see...

prepare yourselves

During our last field trip, I had nine of my twelve parents along for the fun. They all had their cameras and were clicking away--calling to their kidlings to "Look over here. Smile. Say 'kimchee.' Over here." I was busy trying to get pictures for our class and for the three moms who weren't there. Our tour was fast-paced and we were whisked from one activity to another.

I think it's great to have photos. I don't have nearly enough photographs from my childhood. There aren't everyday moments captured. I have friends that I've known for over thirty years and we have a handful of photos of us together. It was so normal for us to be together that it wasn't photo-worthy, I guess. There aren't yearly birthday and Christmas photos, marking growth and change. I want to have more photos of my child. I've been a good photographer of my friends' children for years. I'm looking forward to doing the same thing for d2b.


You knew there was a but coming, didn't you?

I think that we've become spectators of our own lives--photographing and recording and commenting on them instead of just living them.

While I know you are all dying to hear and see what is happening, recording it in the moment is not my priority. This is a moment that I want to LIVE. I'll share some of it...but it may be after I'm back. (And, of course, photos have to wait until after custody is granted, as per Russian law and common sense.) I may have time to blog while I'm away, but I may not. I'm not even sure about internet availability.

I am so grateful for all the support I have both irl and in the blogpsphere. It's wonderful! But, this moment is mine. Is ours, mine and d2b's. And I think I may need to just treasure it up for a little while before I decide what to share with all of you. I just wanted you to be prepared. ;>

05 June 2009


Yesterday, second grade went on a wet and windy field trip to Vyborg Castle. It's a Swedish medieval castle (as per our guide) in what was once a Finish city. Vyborg is lovely! It has a very not-in-Russia feel to the layout and architecture.

ppnn, as defined in this post, is kateish for "pretty picture, no news".

03 June 2009


The tulips in the Summer Garden are beautiful right now.