29 September 2009


I was going to do a "one week" post, but am posting this important news instead:

We have Lexi's visa!

Yes, the paperwork here is nearly complete. (We still have to register...and no one is sure where to do that. Fingers crossed for St. P!) We are able to leave tomorrow. After all the hiccups--a spat between ministries meant that my registration in St. P (which is all I need plus travel permission for anywhere in Russia--I don't need to register everywhere.) wasn't being recognized. The local OVIR wanted me registered in Moscow. The school/embassy couldn't do that because they'd already registered me in St. P. Oi. Got a hotel room for two nights and took care of that.

Then, today, they had MY name wrong on THE envelope that immigration gets. Counter-man said it would be fine. Someone else said to just put the same wrong name on form #something, I asked for it to be changed. It finally was. Oi.

Also got congratulated on my little boy today. Humph. But, also got admiring comments. Scarily, she's finding the power of her smile.

Now to make that flight and deal with US paperwork...

Today (and tomorrow) under her stars and stripes...

She wore THE stars and stripes. At the embassy she took off her dress and was so proud she and Mama were both wearing, "Flag! Flag!" (No, she doesn't know the pledge yet. She's showing you her flag.)

28 September 2009

sunny days and broken transmissions

Lest I be accused of blindly writing a blog that is all sunshine and rainbows, let me tell you here and now that it's not blind.

There are people reading this blog who will know Sasha in real life (irl). And, I'm just not sure how much I want to share with people who will meet her, see her, know her. Once I tell, I can't un-tell. And, there are things that I don't want lurking in the mind of the irl community.

That being said, things really are going well. Very well, all things considered, I'd say. And that's neither sunshine nor stardust. Today primarily consisted of play-dough and Sesame Street. It doesn't get much better than that.

("Oh, yes. Segues are for children," says my friend Suzanne when she's following my conversational leaps. Consider that your segue.)

It's like driving a car that in incapable of downshifting. You might try shifting up and up, waiting to downshift until there's a red light. But, at the red light, you find that there are no brakes, either. Your only choice is to crash.

If you don't want to crash, you just have to drive in first gear--paying careful, constant attention to the rpm's so that you can see when that needle's in the red so you don't burn out your engine (or whatever--it's an analogy). You can't shift up, because then you'd be stuck in a higher gear, so you need to slow back down. If it's getting dangerously close to needing to shift up, and you can't slow down, you need to remove the key from the ignition. You just need to turn it off. Not great for the car, but at least it's not crashed and requiring major body work.

Fortunately, I'd seen on earlier visits, we could call that a test drive, that there was no off switch on this model. I've been watching those rpm's carefully. On the days when we didn't have a choice, when we had to go and go and go we did indeed crash. Even a small, quiet dose of other people led to a "stuck in fourth gear" episode for hours. And that key wouldn't budge from the ignition!

So, it's first gear for us for the foreseeable future. It's okay (a phrase Sasha can say quite well, and use appropriately, thank you very much--it's in stiff competition with good girl for most-used English phrase at the moment). We're not in a hurry.

Tomorrow is the embassy appointment and the next morning we leave! On our way to where the air is sweet...

26 September 2009


When I visited my (famous) friend Dawn in Ukraine (wow--TEN) years ago, she warned me to be careful what I bought. Not everything that looked apealing in Kiev would be as appealing when I got it back to the US. (The one thing I wish I could have bought--though I'm sure it was too expensive--was a sort of fur poncho. It did look a little "B@rbie", but was amazing--shades of grey ranging from charcoal by the face to silver at the hem. I would SO wear it in Russia. Oh, well.)

I was shopping for shoes (note: I don't get that shoe-thrill so many of you do. I view shoes as utilitarian--and like them to be as unobtrusive as possible.) for Lexi. She was wearing a 26. I bought her a 27. But, her cut-out foot tracing (which I'm still carrying in my wallet) j-u-s-t fit those. So, I was looking for a 28 to take along, too.

I found a pair. They were charcoal with a little sparkle. The strap was cute without being cute. But they had big butterflies on them. Butterflies *might* be okay. But the butterflies looked a little mean. And the front, instead of being sensibly rounded, was sort of flame-shaped. It was the flames that caused me to doubt. Still, they were a good color. Without the flames they'd be great. Even with the flames they were certainly the best I'd seen in the size I needed in any store.

I asked a friend who was shopping with me if they were cute or cute-in-Russia. She assured me they were cute, and, though doubtful, I bought them.

After I'd got them home, I showed another friend who said, "Don't you dare let her set foot in those in America." As I feared. Cute-in-Russia shoes.

These are the shoes, size 27, Lexi wore home from the orphanage and has barely removed. Inoffensive on a six-year-old, though a little too much bling for my taste. I like stars. They're pink, but whatever. (OT note to Barb: The snow boots we bought should fit great!) I would love a pair of black Mary Janes. And red t-straps. But, those are not available in Russia. Maybe when we're in the US...

I sent the following text to friend #2 today, Lexi won't wear the might-be-cute-in-Russia shoes claiming again and again they're too big. As her others just barely fit, I consider this a sign of good taste. Think I'll leave them here.

See? It's the flames that doom these shoes.

25 September 2009

the most beautiful word

might just be "nap".

This hard-won sleep occurred in a record-breaking 40 minutes. That's easily an hour less than our previous sleep record. We haven't been able to nap yet because of all of our paper chasing--and I think this will help our sleep issues some. Sleep begets sleep. We have some bigger sleep monsters that we're battling, but having a kip (consider that a shout out to my UK readers) certainly can't hurt. Either of us.

Yes, she has tights on under her leggings. No, I do not intend to make a habit of this. It got cold today and she doesn't have any jeans or other pants. (They're waiting for us to pick up in the US when we pick up her passport. Not sure which is more important for an American girl living in Russia...) At least they match the red buttons on her top and look smashing with her long, red sweater. And, yes, even though this fits when she's awake and standing up, I did just buy this outfit in a size bigger. It's with the jeans. And maybe a few other things...

24 September 2009

another prayer call

eta: It's ready! We leave in half an hour to pick it up! That is worth waking my sleeping baby. Thank you all.

I won't say it 's the LAST one...but I hope it's the last one regarding paperwork and Russian officials.

It is all down to what kind of day a Russian official in the local passport office is having tomorrow.

If it's a good day, we'll get Sasha's Russian passport, turn in paperwork on Monday at the embassy, have our exit interview Tuesday, leave Wednesday (without crying to delta...whom I don't trust will be as accommodating as everyone else does on this no-changes ticket) and make our initial appointment to get her US passport on Thursday.

If she's not, we won't.

And we REALLY, REALLY would like that to happen.

I met her today and she wasn't a very happy person. She and Sergei don't have the best relationship. (That's putting it mildly.) She was rather unfriendly to me, but she did smile at Sasha. How could she not? She was in a favorite outfit of mine.

People familiar with the books pictured may be interested to know that Moo, Baa, La La La retains its title, but starts on the BOW WOW WOW page, Goodnight Moon is the Russian equivalent of Peaceful Night, Little Bunny...and can't be read before bed because it turns into a manic impression of the orphanage bedtime--but we like saying goodnight to the kasha, and I haven't read Sheep in a Jeep to her because when she reads it to me in Russian it's too precious. I want her on video reading, "Zheely Beele eta baraf..." (a little like "Once upon a time there were sheep."

(Answering questions:
Yes, she's incredibly overwhelmed and overstimulated. By ev-er-y-thing.
Yes, she's amazingly affectionate but only with me. She'll not even speak to strangers. She'll now speak to Olga and Sergei--barely.
No, the gotta-go-now isn't control at this point. It's a surprise to her each time.
"Mnoga" means many or much (sorry for not translating that.)
It's an outie.
her favorite song is "One, Two, Two Little Girls" from Sesame Street Old School (which has the warning that it may not be appropriate to meet the needs of today's preshooler. I decided to risk it.)
English words we've heard: cross (only repeated after she asked what it was), keeske pants (also repeated--poor child--while I was putting on pajamas) and good girl, no, and okay all used correctly.)

23 September 2009

interrupting the retrospective...

...to send you a copy of the text I sent locals:

Forget Elvis. LEXI has left the building! Oooorah! She practically ran out the door and hasn't stopped smiling. I don't think I have either. Spread the word. All joy!

We had our "manic" times both yesterday and today, but overall she was a trouper. Those self-soothing and coping techniques that are so sad to see in little ones are heartbreaking (and frustrating) in a six-year-old. We've both got some work ahead of us.

It should come as no surprise that there are paperwork issues to be sorted. Sigh. I'm just a little worried they won't be sorted in time to leave on Wednesday. I have to call Delta and cry if that's the case.

As far as food going in and coming out (that seems to be what everyone wants to know about):

She's eating well. She even stops when she's full! She is DRINKING non-stop.

Which brings us to toileting. We know that Russians potty-train differently. One thing that surprised me was the fact that at six, if she has to go, she has to go NOW. There is no waiting five minutes. Or two. Which means that we were some of the people you shake you head at in wonder and a little contempt. Stuck in downtown traffic, my translator told us to GO IN THE MEDIAN! Apparently by the flowers is better. Little one was not best pleased when I made her remove her tights and shoes before we got out of the car.

Sleep is another issue. Remember that off switch she didn't have? It hasn't been installed yet. Enough said here and now. She slept fitfully and so did I, but we slept.

I've been typing WAY too long, so I'll leave you with some pictures.

I was a little sad not to have a "good" picture of the two of us leaving the orphanage. But, then I started laughing. All the pictures of Sasha have her intently focused on THE GATE!! She was ready to leave. A caretaker did stick her head out and wish her well (after Sash was brought to her to say goodbye). Sasha smiling called her goodbye over her shoulder without breaking stride down the steps. I felt better having seen one smile directed at her.

Even this was enough to over-stimulate. But, she loved feeling the wind in her fingers!

Being a trouper at the passport office. We walked out of the orphanage at 13:31 and didn't get home until 8:45 p.m. It was a looooong day.

Have you ever seen such joy on the face of a six-year-old at the grocery store? I'd hold something up and if it was "koosna" (tasty) into the cart it went. She loved her "mnoga!" food.

Note to Kat: Not only did she cry, "I want the store!" as we drove home, she is also fixated on the shoes worn by the women in Moscow. Consider this a call to active duty.

22 September 2009

we're a family!

Picking her up today! Will post as I can. Photos scheduled for tomorrow...

Love and thanks,
Kate and Lexi

21 September 2009


If you think I look happy here, and I think I do, imagine how I'll be feeling tomorrow!

The gift waiting at the end of the rainbow for me is better than any pot of gold.
When this posts I'll be on the plane to Moscow!

Aside: A Russian friend, upon seeing my pictures from trip one--this one included--said, "But, Kate. Seriously. You are an actor. You are a professional. Your faces in these pictures, you were just putting them on, weren't you? You didn't really feel like this?

I assured her, or tried to, that I actually was happy about this.

A post on the comments and questions I've gotten is in the works...or should be.

20 September 2009

call to knees

I know in the middle of all this you're praying for me and Lexi and a smooth time finishing all the paperwork. Thank you, thank you!

Could you (if you don't think I'm insane)pray for my cat, too? I know this is a crazy request. But, she's a little sick. I think my housekeeper gave her tapwater. Great, huh? It could be adjusting to a new food, but the new food was more than a bag ago and I was careful to change it gradually, mixing it with the old, etc. The old food made their fur fall out. The new food is lamb and chicken--should be easy to digest, not hard.

And, the last time I went away without her, she quit eating. Remember that? And she nearly died.

And now I'm going away again...and I'm worried about her. She's a one-person cat, my Beazy.

So, if you feel comfortable praying for a cat, please pray for mine.


We did have a puzzle of a butterfly, which would be perfect for today,
but this is an elephant puzzle. Which is still perfect.

19 September 2009

18 September 2009


In honor of bunny day, here's my little bunny looking at pictures of us.

17 September 2009

still sneaking

(It's fish day on our countdown.)

16 September 2009

yellow flower

Happy yellow flower day!

Yes, it's my birthday, too. No, thanks. No cookies for me. No m&m's, either.

Goal reached: Court before my birthday! Thank you Sergei and judge.

(I don't know if it's really a goal if you can't do anything about it. It was more like a hope. So...hope realized!)

Yep. Just filling time. On the blog, irl...

15 September 2009

sleepless in st. p

I have a feeling I'm not going to sleep tonight.

How much caffeine is in m&m's? Made chocolate chip cookies(but with m&m's since we have those and we don't have chocolate chips) for my class for tomorrow
[yeah--birthday. Whatever. I've got other things on my mind. And, my class keeps a daily running total of all the people I'm younger than, so 40 isn't that big of a deal. And I like the Russian word for 40. And I'm ready to end the decade-of-waiting that was my 30's.]
and nibbled more than a few m&m's.

Feel a little sick, actually.

another sneak peek

14 September 2009

post-court visit

This visit was neither as fun nor as educational as out last visit.

When we got there, the security babushka told us Sasha'd (Until she's home and understands that English is a different language, I'll keep calling her Sasha. Then, just like I have a Russian name and an English name, I'll introduce her English name. I think.) been very pleased and happy, like a princess, away from the other children "walking around herself like a cat" which Olga told me was a Russian proverb. Actually, it's a quote from Cat On a Hot Tin Roof.

I had several questions to ask the director and wasn't sure we'd have time on the 22nd. So, we asked her.

What is her normal sleep schedule? Up at 7:30 a.m., nap from 1:00-3:00 p.m., get ready for bed at 9:00 p.m. and go to bed at 9:30 p.m. (That seems really late to me. This will be changed.) She washes/bathes every night because she is a girl. Boys don't. (???)

What about food? Are there any she particularly likes or dislikes? Does she have allergies? She is a big girl. She eats anything. (Ummm, her caretaker said she was a picky eater. The orphanage sw/assistant director/I don't know who she is scolded us for feeding her orange juice which upset her stomach so badly that she needed a bath.)

May I take a photo of her group? No. (Okay, expected that one, but had to ask.)

May I take a photo of her playroom without any children in there? No.
Of her sleeping room? Her bed? No.
These are only for Sasha to have when she is older. I won't share them with anyone. I just want her to be able to see where she lived--to remember. No.

I was just so cross with her! WHY wouldn't she let a picture be taken? So many people have SO MANY photos. I don't have any for Sasha.

It is just an extension of how I feel about this orphanage. It's well-equipped. It's clean. It's by-the-book. It's cold.

I didn't get to let them know that I wanted the elephant back. But I intend to get it. I'm taking another toy to trade for it. If it's still in the building, it's coming home with us.

I think our pick-up visit is going to be quickly-change-clothes-and-get-out. I asked about bringing treats for her group, and it wasn't encouraged. I'm still going to do it, but they'll likely just have them as part of their lunch.

My agency doesn't require gifts. And, right now, I'm not feeling very thankful and gifty. I might do a cake for the staff. I might give a teacup to the director. But that would only be for the families who are coming along behind us. (I don't know if this orphanage has ever had an international adoption. I don't know that they have many adoptions at all. I do know I was the first from my agency in the entire region in the last five months!)

We had a short, weird playtime. We were in the music room again. We tried on shoes and took measurements. We played with sticker books and a puzzle. But, I think both of us felt that our time there was finished. I think we're BOTH ready to leave. I doubt either of us will look back.

I think families who adopt an "orphanage favorite" or who have been allowed to meet caretakers and groupmates feel differently. I certainly thought I would. But, I don't. I don't feel gratitude and compassion. I don't feel they did all they could for her. I feel like they did what they were supposed to--but no more. I don't think that anyone's heart was touched by her. I feel like Sasha's an inconvenience to them. I feel like she's a number, a peg to fit in a hole.

I left a book for caretakers to sign and groupmates to scribble a picture in. We'll see if it actually happens. I hope so. I hope I have something to show her in years to come.

I can't wait to get her OUT of there! (I told you I was feeling more and more snatchy.)

sneak peek

(Today is tulip day for those of you counting down. New row tomorrow!)

13 September 2009

pre-court visit

The day before court, Sergei drove me to the orphanage for a visit. Because we left later and hit traffic, our time visiting was short. She seemed bigger when she walked in and saw me, but actually hadn't grown (I measured later). She's just taking up more space in the world--at least, when she's with me--and that makes me happy. She's had another haircut, but hair will grow. I don't have a single picture from this sunny day. But, I remember it well!

We had about ten minutes inside and then another ten minutes outside before lunch. Sergei thought I'd be able to eat with her, but this orphanage wouldn't allow that. She was sad and sniffly when she thought our visit was over, putting her arms up to be carried inside. We waited while she ate and then she got to come back outside for a little while--missing the beginning of her naptime.

This time we played on the swing. She still fits in that square, baby swing. While we were swinging I'd ask her (I'm still only speaking Russian to her, but won't bother you with it in both languages.), "Are you a bunny?" and she'd shout, "Nyet!" "Are you a kitty?" "Nyet!" and on and on through animals and nonsensical things until I'd say, "Are you a girl?" "Da!" "Are you my daughter?" "DA!" She laughed all through this.

I'd keep asking her things about her and things about me (mine, of course, ended with "Am I your mama?"). She was adamant that she was Sasha and not Shura, so that's one hurdle down. She did get a little confused about Sergei being there and commented about Mama and Papa...but we sorted that out. She knows now, and told me it was good, that in our family there are only two people; only a mama and a daughter.

When I'd stop, she'd shout, "Kто ето! Kто ето!" (Who is this?) and we'd start again. It was a great way to affirm that we are a family. It was during this game that I saw a glimpse of what was in store for us. She just doesn't have an off switch yet. She will continue playing and laughing past the point of exhaustion, verging on mania. She was having a great time, but just didn't know when to stop. She couldn't stop. And, I asked. I asked if she was tired, if she was finished, if she wanted to stop, if she wanted to play on the slide...and she didn't. When it was time to go, she immediately shut down--the laughter stopped and her eyes went blank. (That's really hard to see. I know it's how she copes in the orphanage, and that she won't have to "cope" much longer. But it still hurts my heart.) She was breathing hard and was obviously exhausted. She even said she was tired when I asked. But she doesn't yet know how to stop. I think this is partly because her day is so scheduled. She doesn't make decisions about when to start and stop an activity, so she doesn't know when she wants or needs to stop.

I think overstimulation and self-regulation may be a challenge for us in the beginning. What I learned from our time on the swing is that I need to not ask her if she wants to stop, but to help her notice the signs that she DOES want to stop, and then tell her it's time to stop. ("You're all out of breath. You're getting tired. We've been doing this a long time. Let's play something quiet/read a book/etc.")

It was a fun and educational visit!

updated itinerary

I updated our projected itinerary. Take a peek if you're interested.

12 September 2009


It's true. The only glitches were technical communications ones--me forgetting to take a laptop from school, no phone in the flat, and my mobile only able to dial phones that had previously called me (and that was after the director of our school had fiddled with it. Before that it wouldn't call anyone!)

One other communication glitch was that I thought I'd been told I'd receive a transcript of the court proceedings. So, I didn't pay much attention to what was being said, thinking I could read it later. Really, I don't remember much of what was said.

I was calm and confident. Starting the night before, I was just joyful and peaceful. I could feel myself being lifted up by hundreds of prayer around the world. Thank you. It was a precious gift.

I'd been telling people that I really didn't think there was anything to worry about--that by this time so many people had reviewed my paperwork, that the judge herself had asked for more, that I didn't think there would be any problems. The wonderful Olga told me the same thing, so it must be true.

Court lasted an hour and 45 minutes. I had the court laughing a couple of times, which was nice. It was me, the judge, the prosecutor, a recording secretary, the social worker and my translator. Most of the time I remembered to speak English. The prosecutor, according to my translator, was tougher than usual. The social worker was fantastic! She was the one who had amazing things to say about me and really argued on my behalf (even though she was seated at the prosecutor's table).

At one point, the prosecutor muttered that "This child is practically healthy." The social worker is the one who made her look back through the photos and see that the emotional health of this little bunny had improved dramatically because of my visits. She argued strongly that I was uniquely qualified to parent this little girl because of her background and mine. She really was great. (At one point, when she was talking about how many Russian families had declined to meet her, and how it would not be possible to find her a Russian family, she was listing the dx and casually added, "She is not beautiful." Feeling the glances from the other people present darting my way, I gave an exaggerated face of indignation, drew myself up and lightly pounded two fists on the table. The court enjoyed it and was smiling and laughing. The sw, to her credit, drew people back to the pictures and pointed out that the smile and the sparkle came after I'd been spending time with her. Once again--we heart sw'ers.)

At the end, after I'd heard everything (including one disturbing surprise--but not nearly as much information as I expected to be given in court), the judge asked me if I still wanted to adopt this child. Kонечно! I replied. Of course! After about fifteen minutes, she returned a verdict in my favor. Afterwards, the judge told me I was a very warm, very open person. She said that I filled her court with sunshine and asked me to return.


(How obvious is it that my translator that day is NOT a good photographer? Yeah.)

10 September 2009

She's coming home!!

This is Kate's friend Kat. Kate does not have a phone or laptop in Moscow however she wants everyone to know that court was a HUGE SUCCESS!!!

She is the proud mother of Alexandra Eleanor Christian.

LEXI is coming home soon!!!!!

07 September 2009


**edited to reflect what happened and what the new plan is
New plan, is, subject to change, nach.
leave for school 7:30
teach second grade until 3:00
leave for airport 3:30 p.m.

visit with sw in attendance (i think)
other stuff?

dinner with Drew and Twylla--friends and what my class calls the BIG boss of the whole school
write court speech

court at 10:30 a.m.!
dinner with other AAS colleagues

no idea
stuff. paperwork. more stuff. maybe
a visit.
fly home

(This is the countdown I made for Sasha to keep track of days until I'm back to take her home. The director says a caretaker will cross off the days with her at each night at bedtime. I hope so!)

next Monday-Thursday
teach second grade
check daily for package from Julie
maybe do a staff briefing on pi children
i'm already packed...so no packing...
oh--turn 40

next Friday
"settling-in" conferences (ironic for my last day, no?)

next Saturday and Sunday
last minute whatevers

next Sunday Monday
teach second grade
leave immediately from school and fly to Moscow

the following Monday Tuesday, 22 September
pick-up day!

(**Gotcha sounds kind of snatchy to me, but I've been warming to the term since someone on FRUA created the acronym God Ordained This Child's Happy Adoption. And, I might be feeling a little snatchy by then anyway.)
doctor visits
pick up birth certificate, adoption certificate, and drop off Russian passport application

the following Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday
get Russian passport--Tuesday we drop off and Thursday someone picks up
doctor visits on one of these days (either Wednesday or Thursday afternoon if the passport will be ready in the morning)--since she's older we have more doctoring to do, including blood tests and x-rays

the following Thursday- Friday
someone drops off our visa stuff at the US Embassy
the following Saturday Friday-Sunday
oy, vey--who knows?

the Monday after that

visa interview at the US Embassy

the Monday-Tuesday after that
pay for expedited registration (If not, we have to do a hand-off of her Russian passport and all the paperwork when we are flying back and changing planes and airports to make the flight from Moscow to St. P. That sounds like great fun, doesn't it? And THEN we'd have to find a way to get them back. DHL won't ship passports. I wonder if Fed Ex will... And then we fly to the US and start do all the US paperwork in less than a week...

03 September 2009


One of my students today, who is SO darling the phrase, I could just eat her up with a spoon. springs unbidden to even Yankee lips, told me, "On the way to school today we got stopped by the politsia! (She means militsia, but pronounced it like police--politsia.)

"What happened?" I asked.

"I don't know, " she replied expansively. "I don't speak Russian."

Hmm. Maybe you have to know her. If you do, this story is warm and precious and will make you giggle.

01 September 2009

placating the paper beast

We have everything. Everything! Everything the judge asked for is ready.

Just to remind you that crazy bureaucracy is not limited to Russia:

The judge asked for a local criminal clearance. S/he said that if I had diplomatic immunity (I don't think I do--no diplomatic passport but some dip privileges) I could get a letter from the consulate instead.

Since I've inquired previously about getting a local police clearance and gotten the run around (I am not registered at an address like all Russian residents and most visitors. I am simply registered with the consulate. So, because I don't have a registered address, I don't have an official police station.) I decided to bypass that and just get the letter from the consulate. I mean, that should be easy.

At a reception with the consul general, my principal asked her about it. Instead of the expected instant affirmative, she told us whom to contact. Contacted that person who told me to get an FBI check. Told her I had that and needed this. She replied with a downwardly-inflected, "We've never done that before." That is very different from an upwardly-inflected, "We've never done that before..." which implies "..but we should be able to. No problem. It'll be fun!" Downward inflection implies skepticism and doom.

Fortunately, it got handed over to (handed off? forced upon as a penance?) to the only non-crazy Ira I know in all of Russia. She's great! She co-ordinates all my travel permissions and takes care of the ex-pats at school. (She just finished renewing my kartooshka or dip card as my "travelling spouse" friend says. She probably knows.) She asked me for some specifics about to whom it was to be addressed. I asked the agency (got one answer) and, on a bcc, my translator (got another). I sent Ira the answer with an example "Kate has been an employee of the US Consulate in St. Petersburg since August 2005. She has no criminal history while living here." that was approved by agency and translator.

Easy, right? Surely you know better by now.

I was hired to teach in Moscow and then was moved to the St. P school. SO, when I arrived, I flew into Moscow. They took my passport to register me. I took the train to St. P. Then it took a month for them to de-register me in Moscow and re-register me in St. P. That means, the consulate only has me living here since September 2005--which won't match my homestudy.

We spent days offering solutions, possible re-wordings, etc. They called the embassy to find out if they had the letter I carried around for weeks while they change my registration. The embassy said just shredded all their old letters this summer.

Finally, this afternoon, I got the news that my letter and my new kartooshka are ready! (Now that the kartooshka is ready, my car can get re-registered and insured and I'll be able to drive again. Yea!)

A week from today I'll be arriving in region for court!