27 August 2009

August 27

Do you know what date I wrote on the board for my (very lovely) second graders yesterday?

August 19, 2009

The day before I wrote August 18. I put our "first day of school" calendar marker on August 17. I put "Homework for the week of 18-21 August" on the homework sheet and sent it home to parents on Tuesday.

Last night I realized--I'd lost a week. I thought I had an extra week before court; an extra week to get my new class feeling confident and running smoothly. I thought I had an extra week to convince the consulate to write the letter of criminal clearance that the judge is requiring for me.

But I don't. Two weeks until court!

(And, yes--the second graders got an apology and an opportunity to learn very early in the year that sometimes even teachers make mistakes.)

25 August 2009

moika flat

As promised long ago...

Here's my new flat! I love it. Two blog readers have actually lived in this flat, which add to the hominess.

You walk in, and the room immediately to the right is a large living room that also has a dining table. Yes, you walk in and see the back of the couch. Yes, it's a huge, teal, ugly couch. But, it's also THE most comfortable couch on which you've ever sat. Really--it's a struggle to stay awake when you sit on this. And my feet don't reach the floor when I'm sitting here.

This is the kitchen. There is a large, open tiled space, sort of a central hub, off of which the bedrooms, bath and kitchen come. The door to (previously pictured) d2b's room is just to the right of the little table. Next to that is a little closet--housing my stacked US washer/dryer, then the bathroom, then another storage closet, and then my room.

And, here's my bedroom--with a little sitting area around a traditional (non-working) traditional fireplace. It's a cat magnet. Next to this room is the living room.

24 August 2009

a rose by any other name

I don't think d2b is going to be called Sasha. Maybe. But I'm leaning towards no.

Yes, she's still Alexandra.

When I was visiting her in July, I heard the director refer to her not as Sasha but as Shura (that's the closest I can get in English...it doesn't really transliterate well). Shura is another nickname for Alexandra-- with more "old-fashioned" and "sweeter" connotations according to different friends.

I like it, but it won't work in an English-speaking world. It just can't be properly pronounced.

I asked if she was called Shura or Sasha, and they shrugged and replied, "As you like." When I pressed, they said they called her both.

So, keeping Sasha as her name isn't really keeping her name. She sort of doesn't have a sweet name; which is incredibly sad to me. Names are important! Poor little bunny.

At school, all the Sashas are boys. We've got four of them in our tiny elementary school alone. It's very much like Alex--fine for either sex but certainly more masculine. There is a little boy named Sasha who will be in her class.

So I'm reserving final "calling" name until she's home. I have a pretty good idea what I'll call her, but I'll save posting it until I'm sure!

Just wanted to give you some time to wrap your heads around this. At home I'll continue to call her by the diminutives of both Sasha and Shura for a while. But, I've got another sweet name for Alexandra in mind for what she'll be officially called by the rest of the world.

Until, that is, she's a middle schooler and decides she wants to be called Xan. ;>

22 August 2009


You are all more than kind to wish that Sasha and I fly into an airport near you. But, we're going to keep our trip to the US brief and functional. I'm looking for a short flight, an expedited passport for Sasha, and a quick return.

And, all you adoption junkies know that while *I* might love to see all my friends and indulge in shopping and eating out, that's not what Sasha will need. We'll still be such a new family. And, she'll still be so easily overwhelmed and overstimulated. So, that's off the cards for this trip.

Next summer, though, we might be up for a cross-country tour.

I've booked my tickets to and from and to Moscow...

20 August 2009

i heart jane

I am so tired of negotiating my way through the paperwork jungle. And, this current jungle is made of paper from my beloved country, the good ol' US of A.

E-mailed the embassy and got no helpful advice. I think government employees take a perverse pleasure in being inscrutable to the general public. I called USCIS and got an endlessly looping recorded message.

So, I called my social worker. I love my social worker. Love. her.

She said all of this is not a big deal. She said to fly and and get Sasha's expedited passport and come back to Russia. She told me to apply for the CoC with my Embassy address and everything should be fine. AND, she said the CoC wasn't really that important and could be applied for later if there's a problem. (I wonder if I could wait to apply for it until we have a new president in office to sign it. Hmmm....)

So, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to fly to the US (not sure where--but not Hawaii)

(Digresssion: When I was in Finland I bought Sasha a swimsuit, thinking if I was prepared for Hawaii I wouldn't have to go. Genius! And the suit was under 5 euro. Thus the bikini rule: If you're contemplating a purchase of a possibly-needed item and it costs less than 5 euro, buy it. Barb and I invoked this rule often during the trip.)
and sort things out in as few days as possible. And then I'm flying back. And, on the way, I'm stopping in Frankfurt. To see my social worker.

18 August 2009


School starts tomorrow! I'll be glad to go back. I really do like my school. They are very, very good to me.

I have a sub all lined up, too. I'm excited to talk to her and get our year planned.

I'll assign you blog readers some homework to help me get back in the swing of things:

  • Please leave your favorite go-to recipe in the comments-- the one that you're known for, that sums you up, that you make when you can't think of what to make.

Looking for bonus points? Keep these in mind:
  • I don't have a crock pot, and have not found one in Russia in four years. (US ones won't work here, either.)
  • Recipes need to be from scratch--no Campbell's soup, mixes, etc. found here (drat!).
  • I need recipes that include red meat! I don't eat it, but think Sasha needs it. Anything that includes beef or pork would be great. I don't think I can bear to cook lamb, even if I'm not eating it, so you can skip those.

14 August 2009

court date!

September 10!

10 August 2009

Finland, ho!

I'm headed to Finland for my last solo trip. From here on out, for a long time, I'll have a little sidekick. ;> Okay...my court trip will be solo, but that's not really a TRIP. That's a glorified errand.

I'll be meeting friend and enjoying some "Western" time, some great grilled fish (I hope), and an afternoon at a spa--I've got a massage and my first-ever facial scheduled. I also need to buy some make-up as I cannot find any shades light enough in Russia.

Be back Friday! (Attack cats and concierge are in place to protect the flat while I'm away.)

09 August 2009


Rachael asked...

It's pleated...

My first attempt at machine pleating went well. It's actually really easy.


There is something so gentle, so romantic about traveling in my favorite train seat (facing backwards by the window) and smocking as Russia flies past the window, bathed in twilight.

...and constructed!

Mostly. It still needs two buttons and a hem.

And then I need to make her doll a matching one. I think it will have the same pink ribbon but no smocking.

The dress is actually darker, a more saturated colour, than it appears in these photos.

06 August 2009

hope for the others

There was a little boy from Sasha's group who came up to us while we waited for another groupmate to collect her (Your mama's here!). Like all the children, he was only wearing shorts on that hot day. He had dark blonde hair, freckles and crinkled up eyes. He turned his face up to us and asked, "Why does no one come to play with me?"

Olga, that warm, wonderful woman, replied, "Maybe someone will!" With a hopeful, surprised intake of breath (I hadn't thought of that! Maybe someone will!) he went off to play. And Olga and I were left standing with bruised hearts. We led Sasha away hoping that she hadn't offered false hopes.

Olga's already planning on me coming back to adopt a brother for Sasha.

I don't know if I have another adoption in me. If I do, it's far in the future.

So what can I do?

There's a saying that adopting a child doesn't change the world. But it does change the world for that child.

Somehow, that doesn't feel like enough.

So, what am I doing now?

I'm making inquiries on behalf of a friend about one of my "littles" that I visit. To think that this little one whom I've visited could be finding a family...that's amazing.

I'm making inquiries to see how I can get two of my sisters from 3.10 involved in a hosting program next summer. To not be able to see them because they were in a family that isn't mine would break my heart and fill me with joy.

I know I can't do these things. I am no match for the bureaucracy that surrounds these children, for all that binds them.

So I ask for your prayers on their behalf.

Maybe, just maybe... Maybe the mountains will move.

And, please. I'm not a "good person". I am just a person who has been put in a unique position and is willing and eager to use that and to be used.

Hoping hurts my heart. But hopelessness has to be worse. So let's hope!

05 August 2009

one step back...

... and two steps forward.

That's good progress in this dance of attachment, if you ask me. I know attachment takes oodles of time. But I think this visit will make things that much easier when we finally come home. I said I would come back, and I did. That gives me some credibility.

I spent a lot of time this trip trying to help Sasha feel empowered, letting her lead our play. And, by the last visit she was certainly feeling in control. ;> Nary a tear was shed on this trip. And, we heard, "I don't want to." More steps forward.

Got four and a half minutes? Tissues not required.

I know there were a million bubble pictures. But, it was hard to choose! And, it made the music fit better.

Paperwork is scheduled to be presented to the judge this week. Court before my birthday seems very likely...