29 July 2009

show me yours

...and I'll show you mine.

I'll bring a picture with me to the shower.

It's a really good picture. Full of joy.

YOU need to post a picture of you and whomever wants to join you eating cake for the shower. Brownies count. Cake must be eaten with joy and zeal. Said joy and zeal should be evident in the photos. Party hats, blowers and fun attire are encouraged but optional.

I want to see you all EATING CAKE.

And I may not post that great picture until you post yours.

24 July 2009

The best part about visiting Sasha is that I don't have to do anything other than that--visit Sasha. I don't have to think about anything, track down anything, stamp anything.

Today I finished every pre-trip thing that needed doing outside of the house. I started off at the post office. Two days ago I'd gone to my local post office and asked if I had any packages, if they had any "chits" for me. (We used that word in Tennessee to mean the same thing it does here--a little piece of paper.) It's a little like being in college. You hear from the mailroom that you have a package and then you have to collect your package. Same thing here. You get a stamped chit to take with you to claim your package--after you fill in details on the back. The Russian post used to deliver the chits to your address but now, I'm told (and I partly believe--but it's coming from the same people who told me the post office was open unpredictable hours. Well, they are open different hours on different days. But the schedule is posted on the door! And, from what I've seen, it's accurate.) you have to go and ask for them in person.

They gave me four chits. I got all excited because I had four packages. Four! I knew one was full of...foundation garments that Ann Marie had forwarded to me. But I had no idea what the other three could be.

Today I drove to the package post office (the same thing was true when I lived in the UK) and presented my chits. Fortunately for me, the person in line in front of me was very nice and helped me fill them out. It turned out they were four reminders to pick up one package. Ah, well. This was shipped on 30 May and I finally have it! Believe me when I say I needed this package. That's a great start to errands.

I tried to buy printer ink and a video camera at a local store, but they had neither.

I picked up my travel permission from the consulate and my medical reports from the clinic.

I braved a trip to Mega, stopping on the way to purchase a glider (assembled--and the boys loaded it into my car for me). At Mega I got a video camera that is promised to be Mac compatible, dollars and rubles for my trip, cat food and litter, and some bits and bobs that were needed in varying degrees. I even picked up two roasted chicken breasts and a sort of scalloped potatoes for meals over the weekend.

The best part of this is that tomorrow I don't have to go anywhere! I'm going to pleat a jumper to smock on the journey (my first machine pleating--my the force be with me) because last time my mind wouldn't settle enough to read. I might also get a slipcover sewn. And I'll get things tidied up and ready to go. All of which can be done in pajamas. That in itself is the making of a very good day!

Hope your weekend starts as fortuitously! I'll "see" you all at my shower if not before.

for the beach bums

And there are many of you reading! ;>

I think there may have been a misunderstanding two posts back in a parenthetical statement. Please read what I actually wrote before you start waxing lyrical about the charms of the beach that I'll be "denying" my daughter.

I never said I wouldn't take Sasha to the beach.

I said that *I* have never had any desire to go to Hawaii.

And I still don't. It holds no charms for me--which is why I find it ironic that I, of all people, may be headed there. Me--not the person who has yearned for luaus and leis and an island paradise and now finally has the perfect justification for spending the money to make that trip.

That's why I even mentioned it. Irony.

So, please note: Just because I don't like something doesn't mean that I won't experience it with Sasha. She might love it! That goes for foods, places, music... I would never presume to limit her world based on my own likes and dislikes, which are fairly decided. We are different people. I don't think a child should be a clone. Letting her discover who she is and what she likes is one of the things I am most looking forward to in the upcoming years.

Thanks. Hope you have lovely days full of hot, sandy fun and that no things touch you while you're swimming.

23 July 2009

Let's see...

I loaded orphanage donations from home and school, drove them to V, and unloaded them there. She looked at a picture of Sasha and cooed, "She looks just like you!"
"Nooo," I told her, laughing. "Do you really think so?"
"No," she sighed. "Dark. Dark eyes, dark hair."
"So not like me. But beautiful!"
"Yes. Beautiful."

A little revealing, no?

Then I had both my eight-doctor and regional medicals done. They can be picked up tomorrow. Piece. of. cake.

I let the clinic know that I was not best pleased over their financial practices (they charged my debit card over $1000 without telling me last May, saying my insurance isn't paying...and then took forever--well, until today--to get me a receipt so that I can file that claim. And, they misquoted my price today. It was only 500r different, but after that last encounter I wasn't happy. AND they asked me to prove what time I called so they could listen to the recording.) and then went to pick up my notarized translation. I went back to school and scanned it to my sw and then went home.

While the clinic was at fault, I could tell that some food (hadn't eaten yet and it was 1.30), sleep and maybe some St. John's Wort were needed.

I ate some tuna/peas/egg/pasta salad and then crashed--one of those dead sleeps where you just.don't.move for hours. Three, this time, before I dragged myself into consciousness. I have sort of a sleep hangover now.

So...productive. Everything that must be done before Sunday has been done. The rest are just non-essential errands.

22 July 2009

home stretch?

I didn't want to interrupt the happy and amazing with the daily grind...so I've saved it until now. You'll remember that Thursday I was basking in the happy of real. On Friday the weather was perfect for a lazy morning. So, I didn't go grocery shopping (the drive is best made before 8:30 a.m.) much like I didn't the day before, when it was also lazy-morning weather.

I hung out in my pajamas and went in to school around 11 (I did get dressed for that), chatted quite a bit with my principal, and typed a letter. It was a letter I copied and edited in Russian explaining that the school provides housing for me and that my housing is now where it is. Oi. This took forever. I had to check every single letter. Principal signed and stamped it. Official!

Then I went to the consulate intending to get fingerprinted [Because when the embassy sent in my prints for me, it limited what the FBI will do. (I say "will" because I don't think it's a matter of "can".) The prints came back clear, of course. But all they did was notify the embassy who (unfathomably) updated my I171H. Neither the embassy nor the FBI will send an "all-clear" letter. The FBI won't return the cards. So, I need to be fingerprinted again.] and then drive those prints to be fed-ex'd. I first had them notarize documents granting permission for my fingerprint to be sent to new agency instead of to me. The girl behind the counter put the wrong stamps on. Then they couldn't find the stamp, so they made up a form and attached it. I got the notaries done (and explained several times that I didn't have to pay anymore for this) and asked for my fingerprints to be taken.

Although girl said they did that, man said not anymore. I have to go to Moscow for that. There is nowhere else in Russia to have that done according to consulate man. I decided I'd better verify that I could get Sasha's ssn and passport at the consulate, as I'd been told previously, and was told I could not; that Sasha could not leave the US on her Russian passport. He couldn't tell me why (and I still don't understand), just that she could not.

So, I've been doing more passport research. Here are the possibilities:

  • Everything is as we thought--enter and leave US on Russian passport, wait for Certificate of Citizenship to be mailed to a US address (Hi, Amy.), and then get US passport and ssn at consulate
  • Everything is horribly difficult--we fly to the US to clear immigration and then apply for an expedited US passport. It will say something nonsalubrious--that she's a legal alien or something. We file an extra paper saying I'm an ex-pat. Then, we return to Russia and wait for an appointment with...somebody. We then fly back to the US, have the appointment, and get her COC.
  • The "horribly difficult" option is if we enter the US in Honolulu. (I have never had the slightest desire to go to Hawaii. Beaches? No. Sand is glorified dirt and there are things in the ocean.) There, they give you your COC when you clear immigration. She would still need an expedited passport but it would all be kosher--no aliens, no return trip in a month. It would just be a 23-hour trip. One way. And then back.
  • Everything is minorly inconveninet and just requires more paperwork. This is one that I don't quite understand yet. Because I work for the Embassy, I am a government employee. I hope. In this case. Because if I'm a government employee then there is some way to get an expeditied COC. And we could still get the expedited passport. And return.
Because Moscow is part way to Sasha, I decided to combine my fingerprinting trip with document hand-off and a visit. I have mixed feelings about this. I'm not sure that it's best for her. I just don't want to be another mama who keeps leaving her...even though I will the one who comes back. She really doesn't understand what is going on. Really.

Of course I want to see her, but our visits have such constraints! We are required to sit at a table to play. We cannot see any other children, so we cannot go outside. We cannot sit on the floor (horrors!) or spread out. And, I cannot "parent" her because she's not mine yet. (That's what they think!) They don't want me to pick her up. They want me to "encourage" her in the Soviet style--telling her exactly what she may and may not do, scolding her for coloring things the wrong color or coloring the wrong way, making her conform, conform, conform to a standard she CAN'T conform to at this point. (They don' t know me very well, do they?) My last translator was as bad as the staff--and needs to just back off. I will have a different translator this time, so maybe that will help. It's just a very frustrating way to "visit".

I don't like this orphanage. It is the least-welcoming orphanage I've been in. The staff, as Dr. Kholoudis noted, does everything we asked but never smiled. I don't think Sasha is safe there. I know she is not cherished. I don't have any warm-fuzzy feelings about caretakers who really do care. I haven't been able to spend time with them or in her group, I've only met them, so I may be wrong. I hope I am.

But I'm going, nonetheless. I will see her next week!

Yesterday I booked my tickets, got a haircut, and collected my Russian homestudy.

Now I need to get the hs copied, officially translated into English, notarized and to my international sw (who finished that hs, too!) in Germany. (eta: Dropped it off this morning and it will be ready tomorrow. First address given was a dentist, but found a notary/translator nearby.) As soon as the team in-region has it, we can ask for a court date! The judge is on vacation until 1 August. I think we'll have the hs shortly thereafter. My sw is scanning a copy to new agency so translation can begin even before it arrive. SW is fed-exing the hard copy to them for notaries and apostilles. And then it gets Fed-ex'd to Russia! That *could* all happen in three weeks, I think. Could.

Which means we could have a court date while I'm still in my 30's. Which would mean, after my ten-day wait, that my maternity leave would end just as Christmas vacation began--extending it by three weeks. Wouldn't that be great?

I have an appointment tomorrow for my eight-doctor medical and my regional medical. I have to walk to the travel agent and pick up my tickets (didn't want to brave the lines at the train station), go to the local pochta to check for packages (eta: Did part one of this today.) hand off some orphanage donations, pick up my travel permission papers and buy a rocking chair. And pack. And vacuum. And buy a new vacuum cleaner. And a digital recorder because the sony handycam I bought for trip one is not mac compatible.

What am I doing on the computer? Gotta dash!

(Disclaimer to B & C: portions of this post taken from e-mails to you.)

18 July 2009


One month ago, I met an amazing little girl. One month ago today I had to leave the tearful little face that's at the end of this slideshow (My translator said the judge would want to see that.) And made her the promise written on my hand--that I would come back.

I've been waiting years to make a slideshow to this song. You can see in this such a progression in both of us in these pictures--from uncertainty, to certainty, to joy, to belonging, to grief at parting. Who would imagine that would happen in only four days?

I don't know how long this will stay up here...because I get nervous...but I wanted to show you this amazing little one. Now do you see why I'm going crazy at the inactivity?

(Um, you might need a tissue.)

17 July 2009


It's really going to happen.

Yesterday, I just felt so much lighter. I know much of that was my sw visit. I had been concerned about to going to court and swearing I lived where I didn't live...and getting caught in a lie...and having the judge deny my adoption...

With my rock star visit yesterday, all of that concern just vanished! (Agency has yet to acknowledge this good news, I suspect, because their mouths are full of crow.)

The other thing that makes this real, more real than the toys and dresses and things that have been accumulating for years now, arrived yesterday.

I remember shopping for a wedding dress with my friend Lara. She tried on beautiful dresses, including the dress that was just perfect for her. And she was fine--happy, but in a sort of impersonal way. Then they put a veil on her and happy tears came flooding out. The veil made it real.

Here's what's made things real:

I've had the privilege of buying dolls, first dolls, even, for my friends' children and my niece. I've been looking forward to doing the same for my daughter. But I refused to buy d2b's doll until I knew she was coming home. I wanted it to look like her. So I waited. Yesterday, her doll arrived! I even had time to place it in the cradle before the sw came.

Now, every time I pass by Sasha's door and see her doll sleeping in the cradle, I smile. It's real.

Yes, that's her sweet, dainty room--without being pink. Oh--the doll's blanket is pink (not unpacked in this photo) and there's a pink pillow on the green couch. I still need to sew that slipcover. Photographs don't do justice to this room. I love the arch in here! It keeps it feeling cozy. On either side of the arch, the ceiling soar. There are floaty, white cotton curtains on the window at the foot of the bed. The sill is more than wide enough to curl up on and watch the happenings in the courtyard. That's my beloved bed in there--one I shopped ages to find. It came with me from the US. But, I thought that when we do move from Russia, it might be comforting for Sasha to have the same bed in our new house, so I've given it to her. It's oak with a spoon-carved daisy. On the wall across from the dresser, where you can see them while you're lying in bed, are three large photos of the two of us from trip one. The six little pictures are Monet prints from a calendar and bits of pretty wrapping paper. Next to the dresser is a large, oak-colored wardrobe. Above the little couch is the big Noah's ark print that I love. This room could use some wall stickers, couldn't it? I wish I were able to paint.

I am trying to decide if Sasha's doll will come with up on our pick-up trip. If the orphanage will let Sasha bring her elephant with her, then I think the doll should wait at home. The elephant will be familiar (I hope) and smell like the orphanage. (Sasha's Elephant could be the sequel to Mishka: An Adoption Tale.) But, if the orphanage keeps the elephant, then I'd love to have her doll for the time in Moscow...and on the plane rides. Right now, I'm contemplating sacrificing valuable suitcase space for the doll and just keeping her hidden if the elephant makes it out of the orphanage. What fun things to ponder!

16 July 2009

rock stars

My social workers are rock stars.

My friend, Galina, called my Russian sw today, at 1:30 p.m. and explained that the school had moved me to a new flat and I needed a homevisit as fast as possible; that a child was waiting.

My sw came at 3:00. That was barely enough time to drive home from Galina's! After 30+ minutes in the car, I found a great parking space close to my building. (That is a miracle in and of itself at this time of day and year.) I made a mad dash to the shop for a bottle of wine to give my rock star sw as a thank you gift (and believe me, I was THANKFUL!), tidied up, cleaned the cat box, changed clothes, took out the trash and found her waiting on my front step fifteen minutes early.

AND she said it didn't matter if my apartment was not clean (I was pleading "new flat" before she entered). All that mattered was that my baby had a place to sleep.

She asked me about Sasha and, after looking at her sweet picture, told me she was a good, kind girl. ;>

In as long as it took me to copy the statement requesting the visit (that she'd prepared and brought with her) she looked around, complimented the size of the rooms, and was finished. We LOVE her!! Her report will be ready Monday. Monday! Or maybe Tuesday.

AND, my US/international sw (who lives in Germany) said she'll take the information I sent her today (who did the visit, size of flat, etc.) and plug it into her update without even waiting for a translated copy! (I'll send her one, nach.) That means we can be finished!

I have to re-do my fingerprints (tomorrow) and type up a letter to accompany my lease (in Russian) for my principal to sign (also tomorrow) and then...that's it. ВСЁ!

If the judge asks for more, we can get it without looking shifty.

We already gave a shout out to Barbara Parker, who is a bureaucratic rock star.

The final rock star in today's post--Dr. Victoria Khoudoulis who did Sasha's in-country exam. She's already written the letter that I need to get Sasha's visa and handed it off to my rep in-region. (For the record, this was my call, too. Agency still is hemming and hawing about what to do.)

It's like We are the World or Band Aid or something around here. Rock stars everywhere you look! (OT: Anyone else find it ironic that Band Aid was mostly Brit musicians...and the Brits call band aids plasters?)

15 July 2009

tick tock addendum

Called my agency and told them I was proceeding as outlined in the previous post.

They thought this was a good idea.

tick tock

If my agency would PLEASE just make up their minds about what I need to do, I could start doing it.

Yes, everything is finished if we don't mention my move. But, I think the judge will want to see a lease. And, while I know there is "game-playing" involved in Russian adoption, this pretend-you-haven't-moved feels too high stakes to me.

I think we should submit my new lease (agency actually asked me to get a lease without an address...umm...not possible).
I think we need a new homevisit and two new homestudies.
I think we need to get the paperwork with my address on it re-done. (WHY is there an address on my psych eval??)
I think I should go to the region, visit Sasha, and re-do all the petition/registration/etc. forms that have my address on them IN RUSSIAN, in front of a Russian notary. Then, the papers don't have to fly to the US, be notarized and apostilled, flown back and translated. They'd just be finished.

I have suggested all of this. Multiple times.

However, no one seems to care what I think. And so we're wasting another day. By the time they e-mail me today, even if it's morning there, it'll be too late here to call my sw and try to schedule a visit.

I'm almost to the point of e-mailing and telling them that if I don't have a plan of action from them by tomorrow morning (MY time) I'm starting to move ahead as I see fit. Almost. We'll see how the day pans out.


eta: I did e-mail them.

And don't freak out about the new blog color, this color and charcoal grey are two of my favorites. I had just had enough of the pink. This is much more peaceful to me.

I just wish the header stretched...or centered...or something...

13 July 2009

more adventures of car

I travelled to meet Sasha a month ago today.

I've been meaning to post my latest car adventure for you car fans, but...

I left home to go and meet Sasha a month ago today.

When I came back from meeting her, it was late Friday night. The next day was Scarlet Sails (go look in FAQ on the left if you missed what that was). I knew that cars on my street would be towed, so, I called my principal to arrange to meet up and get my car keys. I'd left them with him so that he could rescue my car if need be. (Foreshadowing or irony?)

I passed my car on the way to his apartment. The street was clearing, but by no means clear. The tow truck was nowhere in sight. By the time I'd walked the block to his apartment, chatted a bit about my trip, heard about the end of school, and walked back...yes, faithful readers, my car was gone.

I wasn't really fussed. I mean, this is par for the course, right? I'd find it.

Well, I didn't. I looked on Sunday in ever-increasing spirals, checking all the places it's been taken before. Nothing.

But, I still wasn't fussed. I knew there was a database on a website somewhere that the secretary at school could access.

So, Monday morning, I walked into school. We joked about my missing car and she started looking online. And making phone calls. Several phone calls. And no one knew where my car was. It wasn't logged as being towed.

We called the consulate. Shortly there was news--my car had been towed and left not far from the consulate. It seemed an odd choice...crossing some busy streets, but within the realm of possibility given my red plates. Oh, and given that this is Russia.

I walked to the metro and rode over to that neck of the woods. I walked up. And down. And around. And up and down again. And again. I was in the background of so many of one couple's wedding photos (The registry office is down the street from the consulate. You're bound to hear shouts of "Bitter!" as the guests encourage the couple to kiss--and make life sweeter--whenever you're nearby.) as I scoured the area. I'd been told that a consulate employee had spotted my car.

I called the consulate and told my friend in the motorpool that my car wasn't there. He was a bit flustered and went to find out what happened. Well, we found out at about the same time. I found a car with a similar license number (one letter different) parked on that street. It was little. And white. Sigh.

So, I walked and metro-ed back to school. The consulate encouraged us to report the car stolen. The school employees wondered if it would be better to wait to see if it turned up (because I would need one of them to go with me to handle the police department). We decided to go that day. I was actually quite curious to see what it was like. And, if my car was stolen, was looking forward to buying a newer, smaller one with the insurance money.

The police station was a tiny little hole-in-the-wall, hidden in a courtyard. We rang the bell and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally they buzzed us in. And we waited. It was just a tiny room, with the damp smell of an old basement and a table with two chairs in the corner. The desk officer was behind a plexiglass partition, dropped down a few steps.

Mostly, we waited. We waited until they would hear our business. (They knew who I was so I suspect the consulate had called.) We waited until an officer came to talk to us. We waited while he sent people out to patrol for my car. We waited for over an hour. People came in--two homeless men, three women who lived up to the bad stereotype of "Gypsies" that St. P has, two young men who seemed to be considering a career in...law enforcement (for lack of a better term)--and were taken to a back room. Officers came and sat at the table and filled out reports (about the homeless men). Other officers came and went, their guns (not handguns or pistols, but guns) apparent. And it was apparent their young owners were quite fond of them. There were wanted posters on the wall--some for runaways.

Then, the first officer (who my companion said was now resigned to actually doing some work) came and took us on patrol. Deciding that his car was too small, we took ours. Then, we just drove around the city looking for my car. WE could've done that! Well, we could've if my companion that day had been willing to do that. So, actually, it was a good thing the officer initiated this ridealong.

We were having a hard time finding my car and started debating whether we should do the paperwork (ah, that was the hesitation!) to report it stolen. The argument against that was if the car turned up, I'd be unable to drive it for months as undoing the paperwork would be difficult. Before we had to make the decision, CAR! We found it parked near the circus.

So there you go. Not much charm in this retelling. Not much emotional investment. I think they're all invested elsewhere at the mo. But it was an experience nonetheless.

11 July 2009

saturday nothingness

I went shopping early this morning so as to beat the traffic and be back in time to get a parking space near my flat. Well, early here means I left by 8:00 on a Saturday. That's early for this sleep-in town.

I carefully planned my route so as not to drive by either the militsia guy who stops me for no reason despite my red plates or the one who pulled me over for a valid, though unknown, offense.

I got most of my shopping sorted. But I didn't find denture cleaner. NO! I need it to clean my shower head. I looked in the toothpaste aisle. Wouldn't you think it'd be there? Nothing tablet-y or fizzy or in a box with a picture of teeth.

Do they have dentures in Russia?

(Yes, I'll try hot vinegar on the shower head now. It's next on my list. Denture cleaner just sounded fizzy.)

(btw, one of our Estonian girls at school has the name "Talii" which, apparently, means "dentures" in Korean. It made my little SM giggle everytime she said it last year.)

(I'm finding it very interesting, linguistically speaking, that I wrote "has the name" instead of "is named". Very passive and Russian of me. Linguistically speaking.)

10 July 2009

back to our regular programming

Well, those few days we had thinking everything was finally taken care of, that all the paperwork was completed were nice, weren't they? I enjoyed them. I was excited. I was counting down the days until it was likely that everything would be translated, submitted and I'd have a court date.

Now, NOW new agency is realizing my lease is up. No kidding. This, THIS is why I asked if we needed to update everything with my new apartment! (Do you ever feel like people dismiss you, thinking they know best, when, really, they DON'T?) I have no clue what they'll ask for now. Two new home studies and a new rental agreement, I'd guess.

Hopefully, my Russian sw can come quickly and do the visit. (It's summer, and everyone is on holiday, but we can still hope.) That visit can be used for my hs update (which Jane JUST completed...and will have to change). But I think this easily adds another month. MONTH!

New agency asking for two more bits of paperwork--one of which I sent in May and the other I will never have.

07 July 2009

triple check

Barbara Parker, that jewel amongst bureaucrats, e-mailed me yesterday to tell me she'd done my child abuse clearance and the report had been mailed. Check!

The embassy in Moscow e-mailed today to say my FBI check is back and clear. Double check!

AND, the embassy in Moscow seems to be saying that a letter from the doctor *may* be enough to negate the need for a new visa. Triple check!

I sent a package to Sasha today--letter, photos, coloring book, stickers, matching game. It cost about $1.25 and should be there in ten days. I feel better with that tangible reminder on its way to her.

Now I must conquer the summer lethargy that's overtaken me (can't do anything without needing a nap afterwards and am all achy) so that I can clear away the last few boxes. Well...maybe tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day. And after that triple play, I don't have any paperwork to chase!

06 July 2009

have, need, like

Let me just clarify, especially before this post, that *I* am not a chronic pain in the neck. I *have* a chronic pain in the neck. ;>

Do you know that Ann Marie first came up with the virtual shower idea while she was here in St. Petersburg meeting her little one? And now Alexander isn't so little...and he's been home for two years!

I'm so grateful to Ann Marie and Debbie for organizing my shower. (Ummm, you're all invited. Check here for news. But I'm not. Checking there.) I was so excited about registering for my shower. I didn't have a bridal shower, wedding shower, housewarming shower...or any shower (that didn't involve water) so this was exciting. I had images of me with the gun zapping items in Target.

Instead, I got completely overwhelmed. My good friend Julie got online with me and got overwhelmed as well. We couldn't find things that I needed and would be easy to ship to Russia.

So, rather than "register" Debbie suggested I let you know what we have (maybe you'll see some holes...and everyone keeps asking) what we need (that I'll be buying here because it's just too heavy to ship) and what we like. I'll give you some guidelines and turn you loose. While my friends (um, Kerry--who always gets me the perfect gifts) tell me I'm hard to shop for, I think, like Sally Albright (to whom I've been compared, oh, once or twice. every day.) that I just know what I like.

Harry: There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.
Sally: Which one am I?
Harry: You're the worst kind; you're high maintenance but you think you're low maintenance.
Sally: I don't see that.
Harry: You don't see that? "Waiter, I'll begin with a house salad, but I don't want the regular dressing. I'll have the balsamic vinegar and oil, but on the side. And then the salmon with the mustard sauce, but I want the mustard sauce on the side." On-the-side is a very big thing for you.
Sally: Well, I just want it the way I want it.
Harry: I know; high maintenance.

Oi. The have is long. Let's do it backwards. Let's start with like:

I like natural products and fibers, not synthetics.
I like Sasha in winter colors (I think... but I'm a winter so I may be biased). Cool colors, jewel tones...not pastels and not warm colors. No peaches and yellows. Cool, deep red was great.
Sasha likes dresses (me, too) and hearts and stickers and puzzles.
I like many of the clothes by Hanna Andersson (but not their fall preview) and Mini Boden.
I like little girls to look like little girls.

I don't like Disney.
I don't like *any* characters.
I don't like logos.
I'm not keen on electronics.
I don't like markers.
I don't like "prostitot" clothing.
I don't like frilly and fussy.
I don't like light-up shoes.

If you're desperate to buy something to send, let me think.
If you long to buy little girl clothes, I understand completely. ;>
Please don't buy us anything smaller than a size 120 or 7.

I found a few things on Amazon and made a wish list.
We could use some more bath toys.
I like the Fisher Price Noah's Ark--if Mrs. Noah is there.
There are lots of animals to go with them.
The nativity set might be good.
We could use some 12-24 piece puzzles.
Alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes...
a potholder loom and loops
simple craft items
jump rope
hats and gloves and mittens and scarves

Trips to the circus, zoo, oceanarium, puppet theatre, etc.

There are a few things we still need:
A rocking chair (very hard to find here)
baby bottles, pacifiers and sippy cups (for therapeutic play)
a mini trampoline
a bike
roller blades
helmet and pads
shoes (I don't want to buy them until she's home. Feet grow so fast!)
winter coat
an easel
water colors
kid cd or mp3 player

Sasha has:
a bed and dresser
linens (sheet sets, towels sets, comforter, duvets)
short- and long-sleeved dresses (about 30 in sizes 100-110 alone)
pants, jeans, sweat pants
long- and short-sleeved t-shirts, tops
cardigans, sweaters
lots of underwear (about 30 pairs each of sizes 4-6 and 6-8)
socks, tights, camisoles
pajamas and slippers
a possible winter coat, but I think it will be too small
a futon couch (that I need to recover)
stuffed animals (so many already!)
a bitty baby from American girl
a cradle for her toys
games (candyland, chutes and ladders, sorry, jenga, memory, parcheesi, some russian games, jack straws)
some puzzles
a brio-like train set from ikea
a floor mat that has roads to drive on
a car and tow truck (;>)
play dishes
wooden blocks
lacing cards
wooden farm animal stringing beads (big hit on trip one)
cards: uno, alphabet flash cards
lots of board books and picture books
coloring books and stickerbooks
crayons and colored pencils
finger paint
bead kit, craft kits to make slippers, purse, picture frame
fairy wings and a tiara
pattern blocks
a make-it bake-it butterfly
princess leia (polly pocket size w/ clothes)
another little 4" doll
foam shapes and pon poms and glitter
play dough (and a mama who knows how to make it)
play clock
dvd's, mostly sesame street and veggietales
cd's: Steve Green, Raffi, Jim Valley, Peter, Paul and Mommy, Kenny Loggins, Little Einstein (from Rachael), a Russian one that is too rocky-poppy, some books on cd
toothbrush, flouride rinse
hairbrush, comb, clips, headbands
ponytail holders, and some ribbons (won't need for a while)
tylenol, motrin, advil, benedryl, triaminic
neosporin, band-aids
lotions, bubble bath
a mama kit (from julianne) with first aid-y things
a wooden adjustable-height chair
a car seat
plastic cups, plates, and bowls; little forks
two cats

Does that help?
Any questions, fire away!

I'm excited and overwhelmed at the amount of joy that is being shared because of my little d2b. I'm really looking forward to my shower! Let's eat, drink and be merry. Come rejoice with this one who is rejoicing.

04 July 2009

Happy fourth!

I can't wait until we're both wearing these:

The flag shirts are for both of us on the plane ride home. (We'll keep them covered until we're on the plane--or at least until we've cleared passport control leaving Russia.) After she's cleared immigration in the US, she'll truly be an "American Sweetheart".

03 July 2009

angels and weirdness

That title reminds me of the quote about Russia being the land of heroes and madmen.

First, let us pause for a moment and give thanks for Barbara Parker. In the midst of e-mails like this from unhelpful colleagues (I suspect they're subordinates with little power and unhappy personal lives.) of hers:

I did not respond to your first email The instructions you received initially were incorrect. You cannot fax your request, it must be mailed and have the original signature. There are no exceptions to this requirement in the Ohio Administrative Code.

Barbara Parker sent me this:
I'm acknowledging receipt of your faxed request for searches of Ohio's Central Registry on Child Abuse & Neglect for your name. Your request included all appropriate documentation to proceed with searches, except one: our policies require that your original signature must be on file with our office.

I can relax the requirement somewhat if you are able to scan a document containing your original signature and return it to me as an e-mail attachment. You can use the document you faxed to me (there is no need to include the IDs) or you can write a statement, "Please conduct a search of the central registry for my name," and sign it.

Otherwise, we will need to obtain this information through U.S. mail, Fed Ex or other delivery service.

Please let me know if there are any questions. I'll do my best to accommodate your request!

Thank you!
This is the happy ending to weeks of misinformation and rude bureaucrats. I scanned her the signature last night and she's doing the search early next week. This, and my FBI prints, which should also be in early next week, are all we need to update my homestudy!

(Christie Llyod, who used to work at the embassy in Moscow was another angel-in-bureaucrat's clothing. She helped me out immeasurably three years ago...with just a little common sense. She was amazed that I, and another pre-adoptive family she'd recently helped, were so grateful for what, to her, was a little thing. Little things are important.)

Now we just need to sort out the visa issue. "Just".

Frankly, I am not too bothered by this. I need to convince my agency to go ahead and submit the paperwork for a court date as is. If USCIS Moscow won't give me a visa, I'd think I could just take Sasha home to St. P while things (new hs, new I-600A, new I-717H) get sorted. Of course, that's a little common sensical of me. Danger, danger.

I should be out paper-gathering for that visa appeal, but woke up with two three-inch red streaks on my shoulder. It looked like traveling poison from a bite. It looked like this:

So you got a post, instead. Maybe two. There's no bite, no rash. I didn't eat anything new. It doesn't itch or burn or feel warm to the touch. It's not changing size (that's what the black marks are for). But, it's red and it's weird. An ache is spreading and I'm dizzy. And WebMD (always a little alarmist) says I should seek immediate medical attention. So, rather than run around the city, I'm headed to a new doctor this afternoon. We'll see how that goes.

Exciting stuff, eh?

eta: Having been seen by a gp (American clinic), a neurologist, and been x-rayed, the diagnosis is a disease called...

Chronic Pain in the Neck.

Seriozna. Seriously. It is exacerbated by stress and lack of sleep. The treatment includes (basically) an injection (ya nehachoo-I don't want), advil, tylenol, flex-all and massage. Also, less stress and more sleep. (Say what you will about Russian doctors, this neurologist was GOOD!)

And the marks...well...by the time the doctor saw them they were less red, more brownish and more diffused. Diagnosis: too heavy shopping bags carried on that shoulder. (It was only groceries.)

So I'm going to take some advil and a nap. And check into delivery options for my upcoming big purchases.

01 July 2009

bitter irony

Does my agency,
who is closed from now until next Tuesday,
not realize that by closing
for a week
for Independence Day
they are postponing Sasha's independence day?

And now I can't get any answers to any questions.

I'm going shopping.


Internet is back! Hooray.

I'm moved in and mostly unpacked. (Yes, yes... pix when I'm ALL unpacked.)

I've beaten the boat noise by moving into Sasha's room. See? Co-sleeping already. ;>

I'm overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response to my shower. I never got to have a bridal shower, wedding shower, baby shower...housewarming shower so this is very exciting. I'm a little gobsmacked. I don't quite know what to register FOR. I've got so many things...but I guess we just register for the future. Right? I'll do some dreaming. And consulting. Maybe in addition to registering I can give you some basic guidelines for those of you who like to shop off the registry. (That's easy--no Disney, no characters, no synthetics, nothing too cutesy. I think she's a winter. Yea! Me, too! But we won't know until she's home and has lost that orphanage pallor.)

Paperwork. Bleh. My agency is going back and forth on whether or not we need to update my hs for USCIS. The latest word is yes--and get a new visa. If we do, that's a big update. It will take a long time to complete. Special needs adoptions need special paperwork. (Came up with that gem of a definition very late last night.) BUT the memo USCIS sent out to agencies in March (I have a copy) says that a doctor's exam can overrule the dx on the paperwork. I think my doctor's exam does that and have e-mailed USCIS to ask for their opinion.

My current hs update for Russia is 12 pages long! I thought it would be a page...or maybe two listing the things that have changed (salary, saving, address, special needs) that would be attached to my current hs. Instead, she's re-written a lot of things that haven't changed (personal history, why I'm adopting, plans for after d2b is home, guardianship, etc.).

Twelve pages will take a long time to translate.

I e-mailed my agency to ask their sw (who approves all the hs) what we need--two pages or twelve. She didn't know. Let me repeat--She didn't know. She didn't even understand WHY we were updating. (insert controlled scream) We're updating only because THE AGENCY TOLD ME TO UPDATE!

To answer your questions, it's not likely that I'll be visiting her during this wait. If she were close by, I'd be there every day! But she's hours and hours away. Russia's a big country. Imagine if you were adopting from another state. You wouldn't be able to visit every weekend. It takes longer to get to her than it does to fly from New York to London.

And, she really doesn't know what's going on at all. Having me come and go may be worse.

If it looks like court will be more than eight weeks, I'll go visit once more. Probably. If it's going to be soon, I probably won't.

That's the newsy-ness here.

(Sorry for no pix. A friend got on the blog without accepting his invitation. It makes me nervous.)

from ann marie and debbie

Blog: shower4kate.wordpress.com

User: shower4kate

Password: zeus969

(I'm so excited about this!!!)

(Am I allowed there or not? Abstaining for now...)