17 December 2010

from the 2nd grade blog

Anna wrote:
Yesterday we started to learn about Antarctica. We even riten facts about Antarctica.

We saw two man on the roof. One was choping of the iceicles we called him Mr.Ice Man and the other man was shufuling the snow off the roof we called him Mr.Snow Man. And when Mr.Ice Man choped off the last iceicle... We shouted all together... " Good job Mr.Ice Man!!!"

11 December 2010

From Russia, with love

In international teaching, most schools require teachers to declare their intentions for the following school year in November. Last November, Lexi had been home a month and I wasn't ready to think about where we'd go next, so I signed on for this year. But, even then, I knew that this would be my last year in Russia. Six years in Russia is a L-O-N-G time.

Shortly thereafter I started thinking about where we'd go next. My friends were leaving and, as they looked at new schools, I mentally tried them on to see if they'd fit us.

I put it in the back of my mind for our big summer trip, even though it tried to force its way to the front on more than one occasion.

Back in Russia in August I wanted to wait until the year was started to think about this. When September came, I was debating and debating. I didn't have a clear sense of leading. I just went round and round the possibilities and crossed them off one by one.

-Our school would mean keeping many friend, our home, our car and everything that has become familiar and homey to Lexi. It would mean changing grades for me. (I don't think having Lexi in class is a good thing. She gets LESS of me because I'm worried that it will look like she's getting more. Not fair. But, changing grades can be managed.) It's a small, supportive community of students and parents which is nice. They've seen her come home and grow. There is little to be explained here about her background, and she is accepted at school. However, it's a small school and it's in Russia, which rules out so. much. that she needs. Few resources. No recreation. (You either train for the Olympics/Bolshoi/etc. from the time you're three or don't bother taking lessons in anything. You can't just learn how to do a cartwheel here. And, the shame-based educational system is NOT to my liking.)

-Our Moscow school is big, has more resources, and has *some* recreation opportunities. Life is easier and teachers are more "taken care of" than we are. I would keep my salary. (This is big as most international schools only allow you to enter the pay scale with a max of +/-8 years of experience.) It's a big school and I think she'd get lost in it. And, the commute is extreme in the afternoons. Most teachers consider it an early night if they're home by 6:00. For us, 6:00 is the beginning of dinner-bath-bed. I'd miss out on all our after school time together.

-There are many Eastern European schools that are reputable and in cities I'd like to explore. But...many were small and seemed like they'd offer about what our school does, but without the consistency that remaining here afforded. Or, they were big and very similar to Moscow but wouldn't let me keep my salary. And, after visiting Slovakia, I'm not sure that "Russia light" in the Baltics would be enough of a change for me.

-Singapore, Shanghai, New Delhi, the Hague...all are good schools. They're big, so they've got many resources. But they'd be NEW. I'd have a new curriculum. We'd both have a whole new world. And I was afraid Lexi would feel lost.

I was talking over these options with a friend (okay, I was probably whinging to her about them, if we're honest) when, if I remember correctly, I said I thought I'd apply to them all and see. But, I hoped no one would hire me and we could come home to the US and live off savings for a year and homeschool.

Friend (oh wise, wise friend) asked why I didn't just do that.

And I was stumped. Why didn't I?

And so, that is what we are going to do. In June we will leave Russia and come home. I'm not sure where yet...but it will be near a friend and have low cost-of-living.

I'm REALLY excited. I know this will be best for Lexi. It gives us time to work on academics in a place she feels safe, take all sorts of music and dance and gymnastics and swimming lessons, and work on all sorts of things.

I am living proof of the value of a sabbatical. I taught seven years before going to Oxford and hitting the boards full time. Now, I've been back in the classroom seven more. I'm ready for a year off. Or four. (Yeah right--if only I could afford THAT!)

Of course, I'll still be teaching next year. I'll even still be teaching second grade. I'll just have a very small class!

I highly recommend international teaching. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to live and teach in both England and Russia. It's so different from going on a vacation! I like experiencing different cultures--not just in my host-country but also through the families in the school. International teaching has enabled me to save enough money to stay home for a year--or maybe even two. Yes, this was earmarked for us to use to buy and furnish a house. But, I think that this year off together is more important than a house. It's still being spent on our family. And really--it's just money.

I know that there will be people who think this is crazy; that this is not the economic climate to do this; that I'm being irresponsible. But, I think this is right and good. It's a big leap. But, I've leapt many times before and always, always been caught. I think I said a while back I was feeling nudged about that to do next year. This is the nudge I felt. So I'm leaping.

I'm very excited about our next adventure!

25 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am very thankful for my little turkey. ;>

22 November 2010

here's another

While we were in France, Kristina's mama and I were talking about what to do after the beach. I mentioned Lexi's fondness for ice cream. She was telling me that she knew just where we should go. They had ice cream, crepes, waffles...

Waffles? instantly piped up a little voice beside me. That's on the list.

19 November 2010

out of the mouths

I was standing in front of my open wardrobe desperately looking for something to wear with my brown trousers that wouldn't look dark, depressing and muddy (told you my clothing sich was serious) when a snowsuit-clad munchkin came in and asked what I was doing. I told her I just needed a shirt and then we'd go.

Honey, she said to me full of gentle persuasion and compassion, but in all earnestness and brooking no nonsense, we don't have time for a shirt. We're late for school.

16 November 2010


In Lexi's mind,

  • Finland is where the waterpark with the snake slide is
  • Slovakia is where Hannah and her mama live and we went to Trampolino
  • Austria is where we had lunch at the zoo with Hannah and it was so cold she had to wear my poncho
  • Hungary is where we went swimming in the rain (actually, she forgets this was in Hungary sometimes and puts it in Slovakia--same trip, you see)
  • Frankfurt (because Germany is where Tyotya Kakleen lives, and we didn't see her on the Frankfurt trip) was where we ate hot dogs and bought her boots and sports shoes
  • and America and Russia are big blurs that need to be broken down in to cities or states to elicit an answer.
Give her a map and she's a whiz at naming who lives where.

France is easy. France is where Kristina lives.

We went to France solely to see Kristina. I think it was good for us to go--particularly for Kristina. Kristina has been home six months and Lexi has been home thirteen. I hoped that this was long enough for the visit not to be traumatic and soon enough that they'd still remember each, might even be able to summon up some Russian so they could talk to each other. I wanted them to see, to know, that they are both safe and happy in their families.

The slide show might make it look more idyllic than it was. It was fine. But, neither of the girls speaks Russian any more. Both girls are developmentally young from their years in the orphanage and don't really play with other children. They are still in that parallel play stage. And, I'm not sure that the survival-of-the-fittest atmosphere of the orphanage left them with many warm-fuzzy moments to recall.

But, they SAW each other. There were hugs and kisses when we left. Lexi told me this was her BEST friend.

I know we were good for Kristina. The change in a few days was marked.

I learned more about the orphanage from Kristina and her mom. It was not pleasant, but I was glad to know it. And, if I had any qualms about calling Lexi "Lexi", (I don't) they would have been quashed. She was called neither Sasha nor Shura in the orphanage. It made me mad all over again that they wouldn't tell me her name, even.

It was great to sit and talk and share with someone whose child is not only adopted, not only adopted from Russia, but adopted from the same orphanage. We could see many ways that the orphanage shaped them even though they are very different people with very different experiences of orphanage life.

This trip left me feeling humbled and grateful that the tenderhearted nature of my little girl was preserved through her time in the orphanage. I know, I saw, how she was just run over while she was there. How her sweet, tender spirit was protected is nothing short of a miracle. I know it made life harder for her in orphanage, and that both saddens and enrages me. But, for how it makes our lives now, I'm so grateful.

Thank you, God, for showing me how you cherished this little sparrow until I could come and cherish her, too; that no one and nothing--neither height nor depth nor principalities, things present nor things to come...nor years in a Russian orphanage--was allowed to take that away how wonderfully she was knit together. (I know those verses are only semi-quoted and all mixed together. But, it's how my heart sings this song.)

So, it was good. We have new friends with whom we'll stay in touch. We have a link to her life before. We have someone who can help to fill in the blanks. And that is a precious gift that I'm able to give my daughter.

13 November 2010

oh, the glamour

Let's dispel any lingering illusion of glamour that may be hiding in the corners of this blog.

The big news around here is...the pink grocery store, used-to-be-Parnas, has now had, consistently, Green Giant green beans AND peas AND corn. Ho, ho, ho. That's big. That used to be at least two different stores, about an hour apart.

They do not, however, stock our milk.

Stockmann's opened and they might have Campbell's tomato soup. There are days when $8 for a can of soup seems entirely reasonable. Campbell's soup has started showing up in bags on store shelves...but only weird flavours. Stockmann's, at least until proven otherwise, is the the hope fluttering in many an ex-pat's heart. They have vanilla, too. Probably.

I have a battle waging with my third toe on my left foot. It's testing me to see how short I'll cut the nail to avoid it in-growing.

It's raining. Still. And the puddles are all the color of pollution. And so are the hems of our pants, our boots, the car windows and any nasal discharge (either our own--sneakily peeked at in a tissue to see if a sinus infection is lurking--or others' discharged onto the street). Yes. Disgusting Glamorous.

The other morning someone parked so close to me and at such an angle that it took five minutes, easily, to unpark. Which made me late. And not best pleased.

Today I went to do a voiceover for a film. I was practically giddy over the opportunity to ACT --even for a couple of lines. I'd talked a friend into coming too, because they needed two American women and a little American girl. Turns out, they really only needed one woman. The second (me, because her daughter was dubbing, too, and so they went in together first) was just in case the first bombed. They didn't tell me that part. She didn't bomb. I uttered nary a word...in English. I uttered a few disgruntled ones in Russian.

My parmesan cheese molded and had to be thrown out. Cheese is ridiculously expensive here.

My cat is now so overweight that she cannot properly wash herself and needs baby-wiping and bathing of her back end. (Nope. Not overfed. I suspect depressed and bullied.)

Let's not even talk about my weight.

I don't think I have enough otc prescription-strength deodorant to last through the year and combat the toxic sweat. Go ahead and blog-search that one. It's been blogged about for a looooong time.

The cashier at the pie restaurant downstairs tried to cheat me out of 200 r. The charge was 280, I gave her 500, she asked for 30, I gave it to her, she gave me 50. And started helping the next customer. I picked up the receipt, showed her it and loudly told her she only gave me 50 r. She just looked sullen. I got the hostile "you're an American" look because I didn't let her pocket my 200r. I am so sick of cashiers doing this! The last time it was at a BANK. I do know how to count, thank you very much. Give me my correct change.

I can never spell restaurant without thinking. And second guessing. And spell checking.

Light bulbs last about four days. (This time frame might be slightly exaggerated.) And they're too tall for me to reach, even on our ladder. So the landlord has to send someone with a tall ladder to do it. But, they don't come every four days. So...it's a little dark.

It's a little dark. The sun comes up after we're in school and goes down shortly after we get home. And it's still November.

The drains in our bathroom often are odorous. It is not my fault. Neither is anything effective in eliminating this problem.

I gave away so many clothes last spring that now I've got SERIOUS wardrobe problems. Serious. And France was way too expensive for me to shop.

The drunks at the produkti below us are shouting at each other outside my window.

And that's just the beginning of the glamour. ;>

04 November 2010

world traveler

In twelve months Lexi traveled to:

  • The USA (twice)
  • Finland
  • Slovakia
  • Austria
  • Hungary
  • Germany
  • (I guess Russia counts, too)

and, month thirteen found us in...

I leave you, the tired mama of a tired world traveler (we got up at 3:30 a.m. to make our flight), with the most perfect fall photo EVER. Thanks, Bordeaux.

30 October 2010

headed west

It's fall break! We're headed west. Back in a week or so.

26 October 2010

tune in

Next week The Amazing Race is right in my backyard. ;>

(No, I didn't see them while they were here. I wish I had!)

(And, YEA! the mean girls are gone.)

25 October 2010

24 October 2010

it's starts off innocuously...

Last weekend, Lexi and I took one of our new teachers for a ride on the metro. He hadn't been. And, worried that he'd be stranded here over fall break and confined to activities within walking distance of his flat, we took it upon ourselves to broaden his public transportation experiences. (And you know how much Lexi loves the metro. LOVES it! Throw in a bus and a hot dog at IKEA and she was in heaven.)

Because of other commitments, we ended up leaving around 5:00 p.m. Now, 5:00 on a Saturday in St. Petersburg is more like...1:00 in the US. Busy.

People get up and started moving around noon. A few early birds are out then, with most people heading out much later. By 5:00 shoppers and revelers and people meeting friends are out in full force.

Which means the metro and the bus were crowded. Standing-in-the-aisles crowded. Even-Lexi-stood crowded.

This is not what struck me. What struck me was how UNstruck I was...if that makes sense. He is still in that I'm in Russia! adventure, when everything is new and your senses are assaulted by the novelty of it all. Six years later it's just Yep. I'm in Russia. for me. It's just...normal expected. I look at the crowded bus and know that we're going to have to cram ourselves on, protecting our shopping and our bags. I'm not filled with wonder that so many bodies can fit on the bus. I'm not cross that I'm standing under someone's armpit. I'm not anxious that Lexi will be trampled. (Okay, not much. It's a real danger.) I was just navigating the crowds I'd expected at this time of day. He was still enjoying the novelty of a bus that looked more than full stopping and letting on another busload of passengers. And trying to cram himself on the bottom step so that the door would close.

Here's where the blogging conundrum sets in. Because, instead of just blogging, I'm starting to wonder how people will comment and react. It's my oldest-child people-pleasing nature.

But, if I do that, then it's not my blog.

I don't want to be a blogger who says, "Only comment if you agree with me."

But, I also grow weary of the comments that tell me that my experience is invalid; that my life in Russia is not really life in Russia. That it's my fault that I find it difficult to live here. That the people I encounter are completely different than I see them and know them to be. That they love Russia and if they were here they would never stop walking around in joy and wonder. Maybe so. I doubt it.

I thought the same thing about England. Loved it. LOVED it! Visited over and over, for years. Spent the summer living there, studying with the RSC. Went to drama school there. Walked around, seeing the same things I'd seen many times before, and was filled with wonder and delight. Every trip held happy adventures.

And then lived there. And...it was just life. And while there were and are things that I love about being there; living there, living outside my culture--who knew England would be outside MY culture!?! I thought that was my culture; that the little things that made me see out of step would be what made me fit in across the pond--presented real challenges. The wonderful thing about America (Actually, that should be a whole post. Let me table it for now.)

Does it mean I think you shouldn't do it; shouldn't try living in another culture that you find fascinating; shouldn't come live in Russia? No, absolutely not. Be Dorothy. See if life over the rainbow is what you really want. If it is, if you love it, forget the balloon and stay in Oz.

But, GO to Oz. (J, we know you're trying! Keep chasing rainbows.) Stop telling me how wonderful it is from the porch of your Kansas homestead. Stop trying to convince me. You're not going to. *I* am the one living this life.

So much for people-pleasing. How did a nice little post end up in a rant? No clue.

And I was just about to apologize for it! But, I'm restraining myself. Mostly. I didn't intend to hurt anyone's feelings in this post, and worry that I have. Please know that was not my intent. It's just me trying to figure out the shape of this little blog...and I let the mind wandering come pouring out of my fingers.

21 October 2010

sneak peek

at our trunk-or-treat outfit.

Trunk-or-treat was last Friday, and Lexi was beyond thrilled with her costume. Here is the sneak peek from last Thursday's final preparations.

Tricking out the treat bag.

Just beyond delighted at how she matches the book. She spent all night telling me how she was going to be in a book tomorrow. ;>

Ladybug Girl!

She didn't like the scary costumes (and we had a lot of them. Halloween is an American holiday. While the other kids at our school are excited to dress up, they all think a scary costume--witch, vampire, etc.--is required. We say over and over that it's not...but they don't believe us.), it was cold (even snowed--bringing joy to this Colorado-girl's heart), and after one round of treats she decided to put on her coat and swing. All in all, an excellent introduction to Halloween.

(Frustrated with blogger's formatting gremlins, I took this post down quickly last week. Hopefully this looks better!)

19 October 2010

bilateral agreement pending

Remember Torry Hansen--the woman who sent her son back to a Russia on a plane alone? (I wrote a post in response to that event here as part of a JCICS campaign.)

Unsurprisingly, that event had cataclysmic repercussions for Americans who were/are adopting. In many regions adoptions simply stopped. Yes, this happens often in Russian adoption. But it doesn't get any easier for waiting families.

Leaders from the US and Russia have met together four (I think) times since then to craft a bilateral agreement--an agreement that works both ways.

I'm the beneficiary of a different bilateral agreement. Remember my magic card that I show when I get stopped while driving? It says that Russia and the US have a bilateral agreement whereby diplomats will not pay fines on the spot. This works great for me--and when would a Russian diplomat be stopped and asked to pay a "fine" in the US?

But, this current adoption bilateral agreement makes me uneasy. There was talk of Russian officials being able to come into your homes to see your child at any time. (That may have been scrapped. It may have just been talk. I don't know.) There is also talk of allowing Russians to adopt American children. The part that sits most uncomfortably with me comes when you read things like this (Sarah, waiting out the delay with her husband, Chad, to bring home their son had this on her blog.):

MOSCOW. Oct 4 (Interfax) - A Russian-American child adoption agreement will be signed no later than January 2011, Russian children's rights commissioner Pavel Astakhov said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has informed me that the talks are well under way and in their final state. The negotiations are over. I hope the agreement will be signed in December, or, at the latest, in January," Astakhov said at a news conference at the main Interfax office on Monday.

The "technical" signing procedure does not require the presence of the presidents, Astakhov said.

He also said that the bilateral agreement allows Russian citizens to adopt American children, as well."I think an American child must be adopted out of principle. A reward must be assigned by some public organizations to those who adopt an American child first," Astakhov said.

Under Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns told Interfax in mid-September that the United States and Russia are in the final stage of the talks on an agreement to regulate child adoption procedures between the two countries.

Both parties are confident that the agreement will serve the interests of the United States and Russia, most important, the interests of children, he said.
Did you catch that? Here it is again:

"I think an American child must be adopted out of principle. A reward must be assigned by some public organizations to those who adopt an American child first," Astakhov said.

Out of principle. Not in the best interests of the child. OUT OF PRINCIPLE. And there will be a reward for the first Russian family to do so.

It makes me feel a little sick. And knowing what happens to adopted children here when the incentives run out...makes me worry and pray for that unknown child. Would he get sent back to the US or end up in a Russian orphanage? Would the media attention be enough to keep him safe?

Who's got better more up-to-date information? I'd love to hear. I've been off the adoption boards and out of the loop since Lexi came home. Anyone able to read between the lines and know what's really going on here?

16 October 2010

good reads

So glad that people are finding Arletta's blog helpful! If you want a good starting place, I'd start with the series Why Love Isn't Enough. It's an eight-part series that talks about prenatal drug/alcohol exposure, neglect, sexual abuse, physical abuse/domestic violence, the impact of trauma on the brain, abandonment/multiple moves and genetics.

And, in case you, like a fellow unnamed accidental blogger who has seen the error of her ways, have disregarded my repeated recommendations to read The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog by Bruce Perry, I'm recommending it AGAIN. This is the book I read and re-read. It's fascinating, a quick and easy read, and full of hope. To me, this book is much more helpful and hopeful than, really, anything else I've read. It's all about the impact on the brain that neglect and trauma have at different stages of development and how the brain can be re-wired. Really--it's fascinating.

12 October 2010


Here's a bloggy stew for you--chunks of things that aren't a meal on their own but, thrown in with other chunks, might make a post.

*It's supposed to snow tonight. I guess, since we've been in long-sleeves since August, that's about right.

*It's been a long month. When people talked about "anniversary behaviours" I thought they were talking about general acting out, rage, grief...that sort of thing. Then, my friend June posted about how around their anniversary her son regresses to behaviours that he had when he came home. BINGO! We have had a month, off and on, of behaviours that are reminiscent of this time last year. We've had lots of sleeping issues (I know, I know--you keep reminding me and I not getting that post on sleep written. I will.) and lots of needing to be a baby and some general dissociation. Not fun, but June's post helped it make sense.

*Do you read Arletta's blog? If you've adopted or are adopting, you should. She's amazing. She's our virtual therapist, answering questions and discussing issues. I find her insights invaluable. All this to say, she's considering doing a post on anniversaries. I just find the fact that the brain records this fascinating! It's not like we talked about it being a year when these started surfacing. They just...did.

*I am very glad that we haven't seen other anniversaries marked. I watched carefully around holidays, the time she left her first family, the time she entered the orphanage, the time we met...and didn't see anything last year. I wonder, now that I know better what I'm watching for, if I'll see them this year.

*We went to Germany. My sw thinks I should write a book. She thinks we're the answer (or could be AN answer) to the negative press on "older child" adoption.

*School for Lexi is MUCH better this year. We have two American teachers who bring that worldview with them and are doing all they can to accommodate Lexi. And, we have a reading teacher who has not only lived in the US for a long time, but also has adopted a child from Russia. She thinks Russia should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity for what its orphanages do to children. I'm so grateful for all three of them.

*We also have the director's wife advocating for us. Hooray! She's gotten us in with the OT who will visit the Moscow school. And, today I found out our principal is arranging for testing with the school psychologist in Moscow. This will be a nice supplement to our testing this summer.

*School for me is a little unsettled this year. There's a new wind blowing...and I can't tell from whence it cometh. Or what it's bringing. Or leaving in it's wake. (Can the wind have a wake or are wakes solely water-related? Not bothered enough to go check. THAT says a LOT.)

*I've been a-little-bit-sick for months. Bleh.

*I have to decide, quickly, what I'm doing next year. I will have to resign (I meant that as "sign again" but, actually, the homograph works both ways.)--or not--my contract next year. I have an idea about what we'll do...and am feeling nudged...but it's going to be another leap of faith for us to take.

*We have trunk-or-treat next week. (Cars on the school playground.) Lexi will be Ladybug Girl. It's perfect. I just have to make the red tutu. And find her a red shirt. And the antennae.

And that, for now, is all.

28 September 2010

do you blog?

Really, I used to post.

The posts were often well-written. Go troll through the archives and have a look. There's good stuff in there!

Recently, we had a visit from my Russian sw. She says that Lexi and I now look alike. Actually, we hear that often from Russian friends. They seem very relieved.

Tomorrow we head to Frankfurt to see our American sw. Fortunately, she has scheduled our visit at a series of swimming pools/water slides/saunas. Fun! We'll either take in the zoo or do some shopping Friday and then come back.

I'll see what I can manage to post that is mildly entertaining or informative but not too revealing. That's a tough line to walk!

(For the car fans out there: I have invested an absurd amount of money in a parking space nearby. So far, so good.)

Thanks for sticking around!

22 September 2010

Happy Family Day!

as a happy family


(Looking at the gate, trying to understand everything and then...oh, that picture in the car of my brave, BRAVE little girl just breaks my heart. Can you imagine leaving everything you know to set out with a stranger--even if it seems like a kind one--yet again? The last one is the glimpse we got of Lexi--before all the overstimulation caught up with her. I love that one. And then her patience as we waited and waited amazed me.)

height and weight were both at 10%

That night she chose to eat watermelon and cheese.

and now:

Yes, the weather is worse, but just look at how much happier and more comfortable she is! (This is the only photo where the photographer didn't move.)

height 118.5 cm
weight 45.5 lbs.
(both just over the 25%)

Tonight she chose chicken pie (okay, she might have wanted fish...but I wanted us to eat the same thing, so chicken it was) and bulochka (little poppy seed sweetrolls--these were chocolate-covered) and some of her favorite chocolate bar.

I am so grateful for the gift of this amazing child. More photos this weekend!

13 September 2010

5 w's

who: my car (not strictly a who, but the subject nonetheless. think personification.)
what: towed
when: saturday afternoon, apparently
where: (this is new) to a police impound lot that costs 600r/day
why: just to provide me with blog fodder, i guess

we have to find the lot, go and get my papers out of the car and get a paper from the lot-keeper, go to the central police station, find the person who signed off on the tow of my car (stop laughing), calculate the fine--and pay it, i think, go back to the lot and get my car.

in the rain.

with a rotten cold.

and a tired seven-year-old.

and the invaluable and always cheerful help of my dear friend, marina.

seriously--without her and my red plates, i don't think i'd drive here.

10 September 2010

this time last year

A year ago today this post graced the www:

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.

LEXI is coming home soon!!!!!

I enjoyed my time in court. The full court story didn't get published until two days later when I was back home with internet and phone access. I don't count this as our family day, as the decision wasn't final yet, but it is an important, special day.

04 September 2010

i'll try

Your comments and e-mails were so kind and encouraging. Some of the most powerful ones come from the people who e-mail telling us that we've made a difference to them--people who have adopted, who are adopting, who are thinking about adopting an older child...

I'll work on it.

And, there are always car stories, right?

We haven't had our car since we got back. It's registration expired. My kartooshka expired. When they went to renew my kartooshka, which had to be done before they renewed my registration, they discovered that when they last renewed my visa (only until 1 April--but we don't know why. I suspect it was a handwriting problem and was supposed to be 1 August. ) they didn't register me. So I had to be registered, my kartooshka had to be renewed and my car needed to be re-registered. And the battery died while this was happening, stranding it at the consulate. Add in the fact that the ever-helpful consulate motor pool staff is now not supposed to provide support for foreign-hires at the school (I don't know why), and it has been a long process.

Big surprise.

Today was our school's welcome picnic. We were eating scrambled egg sandwiches (yum) under the awning as it insistently drizzled when Lexi said, "Mama, there's our car." Without looking up I said, "It probably looks like our..." and looked at it.

Of course, I still don't know our new license number, since we've barely had the car since it got re-plated, so that didn't help. And it was cleaner than our car usually is...but we washed ours on one of our last days here..

"It IS our car! Good eye, Lex!"

Yes, we have a car again. Lexi scrambled into her carseat and sighed, "Oh, it's so nice to have our car again." And it started. And we drove it home.

Lexi is sitting in the window right now telling me, almost incredulously, "Mama, that's our car parked right outside!"

Simple joys.

I plan to have it vacuumed tomorrow on the way to pre-church shopping and to find out how to disconnect the battery (it's hidden). I'll just do that every time we park it.

30 August 2010


i'm not sure what will happen with this blog.

if it's about life in russia, i'm failing. i don't see much of russia these days. and, really, who wants to hear more about the car sagas and paperwork sagas and dealing with the consulate? it's all old news.

will we be in russia next year? it's possible. will be be overseas? it's probable.

i don't really think i'm mommy-blogger material. a friend said about f@cebook, "what ever happened to privacy?" it made me think about this whole blogging thing. because, it's not just my story anymore. it's hers. and i don't know what parts of it she wants shared.

i do treasure the blogger-friends i've made, though. many of them are now irl friends who just started in bloggerdom.

and, actually, i get quite nice e-mails from people that touch my heart and make me want to keep being an encouragement.

so...we'll see. right now we're recovering from the start of school. i'll be back--either blogging myself or just commenting away. (that sort of feels like cheating, though. and, goodness knows my comments are often as long as your posts as it is! without a blog i might be one of THOSE commenters--not a fate i relish.

17 August 2010

in brief

Monday: Went to Pavlosk. Had a lovely day. "I am just so happy to be feeding ducks." Did take photos...will post. (I know I posted photos of the last time I went..but can't find that post.)

Today: Went to amusement park. Decided rides in the park are only amusing if you have physiological "fear" reaction while knowing you are really safe. When you think you might not be safe, it's not amusing.

Tomorrow: School for me.

14 August 2010

for Christmas...

We're going to Lapland!

We'll fly in and spend the first day playing in the snow and/or shopping. That evening there is a snowmobile trip to see the Northern Lights and have a campfire.

The next day we will go for a dogsled ride.

The following day we will go to a reindeer farm, drive across the Arctic Circle in a reindeer-drawn sleigh and visit Santa Claus in his village.

We leave the day after and come home for Christmas eve and day.

I am so excited! I think this is the perfect time to do this--we're geographically close and she's still full of wonder and belief. I've never taken a package holiday, but this seemed perfect for us.

13 August 2010

Colorado pix

June, I have to start this with sad news for you. My camera battery died right before the singing cowboys came on stage. I do have pix of the fun beforehand, but until friends e-mail me their pix, there are no singing cowboys to be found here.


Here is my favorite cowgirl ready to leave Chattanooga and fly to Denver (via Dallas).

outside Casa Bonita in Denver--a gloriously cheesy Mexican restaurant
You don't go for the food.
But the cliff divers, pinatas, puppet shows and general atmosphere are priceless.

at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
(Nif, Amy, let me know if you want this picture removed.)

This is America the Beautiful park. See why?
(That circle is a fountain.)

eating a just-picked apricot

The night of the singing cowboys!
Waiting for everyone to arrive at Flying W Ranch. I couldn't pick just one.

getting her face painted

watching a horse get shod

dancing with Sunshine Sweetwater

ready for the chuckwagon dinner and show
She loved the cowboys! She had been planning for weeks,as she told me often, that she would be on stage with them and sing a song--just one. I told her I wasn't sure that would happen. They did announce that she was visiting from Russia, so I popped her on top of the picnic table and everyone applauded. That was a happy moment. She ate some, made her usual multiple trips to the bathroom, danced a lot, and then fell asleep. All in all, an excellent night.

Ah, my glasses. Well, the eye doctor told her this time that she needed to wear her glasses all the time. So, I abandoned my contacts and got glasses, too. I know she's not wearing them here. But, she usually does. And I've decided bold frames like these replace make-up for me.

12 August 2010

we didn't

* learn to swim
* learn to ride a bike
* get professional pictures taken
* get any pictures of the two of us, really
* buy a temporal thermometer

get to finish this post! Maybe later...for them all.

11 August 2010

we brought back...

Everyone seems interested in what came back to Russia with us. Well, in addition to the clothes we brought over (also pictured) we brought supplies for a year:

All of that fit into this:

and cost $400 to bring with us. Most of that was because we flew on a domestic flight before we flew international. We had two 50 lb. bags and two 70 lb. bags.

What is all that? Well...
-clothes for Lexi for this winter and next spring, underwear to outerwear
-three pairs of shoes for Lexi in two sizes
-some clothes for me (but not nearly as much!)
-Christmas presents
-candy canes
-one of my dolls that L adores
-vitamins for us both
-cold meds for L (we're pretty stocked for me and on pain reliever for her)
-shampoo, but only a couple of bottles
-lotion for sensitive, exzema-prone skin
-warm vanilla sugar hand sanitizer
-ziploc bags
-chocolate chips (in the carry-on because they're HEAVY)
-cupcake liners
-brown sugar
-fabric for halloween costume, cotton jammies and a corduroy jumper
-gifts from friends
-velcro hanging strips and hooks
-notecards with envelopes
-wall stickers (and an extra set of the same so wherever her next room is will feel familiar)
-dress-up clothes. and tap shoes. in two sizes.
-alphabet stamps and non-toxic ink pads
-pencils with erasers, erasers for pencils
-a new backpack
-American flags we were given on the 4th
-a travel pillow and blanket that she didn't really have any interest in
(I think that's it.)

Some of these things they have here (medicine, tampons, shampoo) but I just prefer having medicine I know, tampons with applicators, and shampoo that I like when it's really dry in mid-winter. Most of the things we brought are either unavailable or ridiculously priced. Clothing here is poorly, cheaply made and costs an exorbitant amount.

I told my friend who shopped with me not to feel compelled to keep up--we're done shopping for the next year! She'll be back at T@rget as soon as the baby's born. ;>

It's a breeze

Ah, bliss.

My windows are thrown open wide and the fans are gently wafting cool, fresh (well, as fresh as it gets here) air back and forth from corner to corner. Things are cooler. Rain clouds are gathering and spitting. I slept last night.

Huh. I guess my excuses for non-productivity have evaporated. Best get busy!

08 August 2010

groan, much?

We are so far past "inelegance" that is isn't even remotely amusing.

It is dreadfully, insanely, ridiculously, intolerably hot. It is stifling. Suffocating. Will-zapping. Mind-numbing. It is just. so. HOT! I cannot function. Heat has zapped all possible incentives to do anything but be cooler. Must. find. air.

It's too hot to go out, too hot to do anything. It's hot. Hooooooottttt. The cats are lying around on their backs, not moving all day. It's a little eerie.

And it is loud. A friend told me that there is a noise ordinance in St. P that means you have to be quiet after 10 p.m. This ordinance, apparently, does not apply to cruise-and-party boats on the canal outside my window. The bridges go up at 2 a.m., so the noisy boats cruise up the Neva to see that and then past my window until about 2:45 a.m.

What am I supposed to do? Shut the tiny, little screened window that lets in a breath of air for the fans to blow around? (Even if it were cooler I wouldn't sleep with the big windows open because 1. We're only on the second floor--with climbable roofs below us (Why isn't it rooves?) and 2. Mosquitos--I don't trust the toxic plug-in to defeat the swarms an open window would invite) It would be quieter. But, it would also be hotter.

Lexi's room is a quieter, and we could bring in a multitude of fans, but the bed isn't very comfortable. (I think the answer is sleep there until 3 a.m. and then move to my more comfortable bed. But that takes initiative. We'll try it tonight. Probably.)

Why is it even when it's this hot every living, WARM-blooded creature still wants to snuggle in my bed?

In years past when it got this hot I just showered often, wore little, and changed my sleep to 3 a.m.-11 a.m. and then laid around reading and drinking iced tea all day. That's not really an option anymore.

I. need. sleep. I need it to be cool and quiet.

Then I can get my act together. School starts in a week-and-a-half so I need that act together quickly.

For now, peach juice and frozen strawberries are getting tossed in the blender.

07 August 2010

grown, much?

Wow, huh?

On July 22, ten months home, the doctor measured Lexi at 46.5" and 44.6 lbs--putting her in the 25% for both height and weight. She came home in the 10%.

(The K's and M's are for how tall Kristina and Mama are.)
(I'll move this back to July 22 soon.)

Here: October 2009 and June 2010
(She and Alex have grown so much they now require a double stroller at the Bronx Zoo. Can't wait to see next year's picture...)

(Ann Marie, our children are STUNNING!)

06 August 2010

I don't think we're in Kansas

We're certainly back in Russia.

One of our bags was lost and I had to fill our paperwork in triplicate. It would have been duplicate, but I made "too many mistakes" (2) on one--because the date format kept changing on the form.

No one met us (odd) so we had to take a cab. The first group of cabs, wrangled by one guy, wanted us to trust their meter. I asked for an estimate of the charges and they told me 1500-2000 rur. I declined. They asked what I thought a fair price was and I told them 800 rur. They continued to try to convince me that 1300 was a fair price as I asked around to try to find a cab that wasn't theirs. I found a nice man who led me past the corrupt wrangler to another wrangler (head to the far left after exiting baggage claim--skip the first group) who charged me 700 rur. Ha!

It's incredibly hot. It's incredible how hot 90F can feel with no a/c in the city. Tomorrow it will be 97F.

Discovered there was no running water when I went to take a shower this morning.

My car is undriveable due to a flat front tire and expired-while-we-were-away registration. They can't renew it because my kartooshka, proving I work for the consulate, also expired while we were away. So, we walked the three-mile loop of school-consulate-home to pick up the car key and expired registration from school (car left there to avoid surprise towings while away) and deliver it to the consulate along with passport-sized photos (had those--Ha, ha!) for my kartooshka. Once that is done, they will re-register my car. AND I left them money for the insurance policy that will expire in September, hoping that we won't have a disruption then. (Ha, ha, ha. Right.)

We had blini for lunch on the way home. The blini did not agree with my stomach. At all. Fortunately, the water is running again.

We have to figure out car-less shopping and ways to beat the heat tomorrow. Maybe a trip to Mega...

Yep. We're back.

[In brief: Do I want to return to live in the US? Yes. Why don't I just do that? I'm a single mom. I have to have a job. The market for teachers in the US is rotten right now. AND international schools sign contracts much earlier (November--everything sorted by February) than US schools (May, June, July, August...). I can't be jobless. Lexi and I both like to eat. So, we'll see. Will we be back sometime? Most assuredly. At least, that's my plan. Quit snickering. My guess at this point is another two years on the international circuit, but not in Russia, and then back to the US.]

More catch-up on its way. Catching up on life and sleep first. Thanks for sticking around!

04 August 2010

safe and sound

We're home. We flew on three planes for 20 hours. Lexi was practically perfect. I don't know how she could've been any better--carrying her backpack and pulling her suitcase, looking quietly at the safety instructions (on every plane) for ages, sleeping, and quietly occupying herself. Wow. She has always been a good traveler. This time she was AMAZING.

We're both jetlagged. Lexi is REALLY jetlagged. And, since she was awake (but not up--in her bed either just lying down or looking at books) from 11:45 p.m. on last night, I was, too. I gave up at 3:15 a.m. and went back to sleep. I don't think she lasted much longer. We reluctantly crawled out of bed at 10:30 this morning.

Lexi is SO glad to be home. She hasn't said, but I can tell she wishes her new friends were here with us. Or that she could just go outside and play in the back yard.

Now the unpacking begins...

25 July 2010

four states down, one to go

Mama is having a difficult time knowing that this visit to the US is temporary and that we'll soon be leaving again. Lexi is having a marvelous time making new friends. Nice friends. Friends who want to play with her--and do, patiently and lovingly. They also teach her important things like "Ants bite." and saying "Put your hands up!" before you shoot the nerf gun. ;>

Here are some highlights from us both...but only the ones without other people's children except yours, Kerry, but I don't think you can really see them.

Lexi's favorite things? Playing on the driveway and swingset, being able to drink the water, shopping, and people of all different colors. She is reveling in the freedom to just walk out the back door and play.

Another doctor, some more shopping, singing cowboys and then we head back to Russia. More then...

Breakfast at the beach.
We spent our mornings there from 6-9 and then, when heat and people arrived, loafed around town and home the rest of the day.

It is impossible to choose between the joys of having a playground in the backyard and those of driveway antics and picnicking on the deck. ANY TIME! Fortunately, we didn't have to choose.

Practicing her piano before going to see a friend in Les Miz.

"Picking" blueberries. Note the purple mouth.

Tennessee Aquarium-probably looking at a diver cleaning the tank.

Lexi added the word "dessert" to her vocabulary. And now uses it often.

Tennessee Aquarium after lunch.

Discovery Museum.
We spent over an hour in this little room with a pretend stage complete with a light and sound board. Then we danced in the room next door and came back here. Hmmm...nurture, anyone? Or just one of those happy accidents that seem to fill the adoption world?

23 June 2010

almost there...

We are ready to go!

Okay, we're not packed.

But, we've made a book of photos that shows where we're going, where we're staying, who we're meeting and a thing or two that we'll do. (Some is not planned. Some is tentatively planned. And I don't want to have something in there and not do it.)

It ends with Mama and Lexi coming home together. (I think that's important. And, I also think it's important that we have plans together for after the trip. We will be riding the metro.)

The book is seventeen pages long. SEVENTEEN!

And, because it's us, okay, because it's me, our trip preparation includes singing...

I want to be in America
Lexi/Mama and me in America
Play in the sea in America
New friends to meet in America

The third line is variable. It includes: Pick blueberrIES in America, Cowboys singING in America, Going shopPING in America, Driving a car in America and whatever else pops into my head. Lexi's role, at this point, is the clapping. But I know when she thinks I'm not listening she'll be belting it out.

22 June 2010

quick pix

One of the last days of school was International Day. We dress in clothes that show our home countries and bring food to share. Here, as she says herself, is an "America girl!".

And here she is eating lunch with Lithuania, UK and Holland.

20 June 2010

a star is nurtured

The signs were all there, so today was the day.

We'd gone from singing Mary Poppins to Les Miz. Then, last night as I was making dinner, I sang a song to her that transfixed Miss Lex. I sang it a million and four times between dinner last night and breakfast this morning--not even drawing breath before she'd say, "Sing it again!". If that's the reaction It's a Grand Night for Singing (Great song for changing the words to suit the occasion.) had, I knew it was time.

Today, Lexi got her first taste of Judy Garland and Gene Kelly.

There's no going back now.

19 June 2010

summer reading

I just got this in an e-mail. Do people seriously respond to these things? Just in case you're needing a little summer adventure-reading I'm pasting it below.

Hello Dear,
Pleased to meet you ,My name is miss Jenny J******* 21 years old, I am from the origin of Sao Tome & Principe but presently in Abidjan the capital city of Ivory Coast where i was born.

Please i need an honest person to be my partner a person i can count on,I know it is natural for you to wonder why i have contacted you for this when we have not known or met each other before but i must confess to you that life has taught me that there is a time in ones life when she has to trust and confide in a total stranger instead of her people she knows.

It all started when my uncle conspired with my father's business associate and poisoned my beloved father to death just because He wants to claim my father's properties which is my inheritance as the only child of my late parents. My uncle who is suppose to be there for me when my father is not there now became my hunter.

Before the death of my father he told me that he deposited this money (4.8 million U.S Dollars) with a security company in Abidjan the capital city of Cote d'Ivoire but He deposited the money to the security company as a family valueble item in a trunk box, which the security company does not know the content of this Trunk Box, he had an Agreement with the security company that this Trunk Box should be released and transferred to his then Foreign partner.

According to my late father He was to submit His then foreign partner's personal information and datas to the security company later but unfortunately as fate may have it my father died without submitting to the company his then foreign partner's personal information and data's for the transfer of the Trunk Box.

Now based on this, I am obliged to get a foreign partner to be able to transfer this Trunk Box out of my country for investment abroad.
Even as i am talking to you now, i have fled from my family house to the interior area of my country for my hide out in a guest house for my safety untill this transfer is completed then you will withdraw some money from it and send to me so i can get my traveling document to come over and meet you in your country for my safety and to continue my education.

You are my only hope now and i am really counting on you. We will share 60/40% of the profit made from any investment made in your country( 60% for me while 40% for you) please reply me here in my private e-mail address...

Waiting to hear from you,

yours faithfully
miss jenny.

16 June 2010

this time last year

A year ago yesterday, I met my amazing daughter, Lexi, for the first time.

It was a year ago today that I knew that she was mine and I was hers.

And now the insistent little voice that belongs to this plucky little girl is calling me to come and join in her bathtime fun. That beats memory lane, hands down.

13 June 2010

really, nothing

Hmph. Not much here.

Four Five and a half more days of school (Teachers are at school until noon Saturday this week).

Ten more days until we leave!

Our summer is crazy. We're making the grand tour so everyone can meet Lexi. Okay, it's not even close to everyone and it's still CRAZY. We're doing five states in as many weeks, seeing friends and family.

I think it may be too much, even though I've scheduled lots of down time and "us" time. (After just, what? two days with friends in Slovakia she was wanting "only Mama".)

We might even be glad to come "home" to Russia.

The thing is, I don't have a laptop. So, your summer posts will be few and far between. Don't desert us, though! We'll be back.

09 June 2010

just a second

I was reminded twice in quick succession why I love teaching second graders this morning:

Me: Whose shield is this? (crickets) Seriously, guys. Whose IS this? (mass denials) I didn't ask whose shield this wasn't. I asked whose it was. It's a lovely, red shield. (class agrees and comments on the symmetry of the shield and how well-cut it is) Someone had to have made this. It didn't just cut itself. (I'm wracking my brain to be sure it isn't one I cut as a demonstration.)

student: Maybe it's the Littles'. (Ah, yes. Our fun, failsafe blame-catchers.)

student 2, in all seriousness: No. They couldn't make that. They haven't learned about medieval times.

(How much do I love that they weren't too little to make it? They were too young to have studied the things we've studied.)

The belief in all things magical and make-believe is one I hold dear--and will do all I can to protect it and nurture it in my students. It's nice to have playmates.

Shortly thereafter I did laugh out loud:

student, slamming the dictionary shut and shaking it as she walks to put it away: I found out what "swarm" means. And I'm mixing it up so the next person has to find it, too.

07 June 2010

super quick

Hey, ex-pats. Here's a website I can't survive--and certainly can't COOK--without:

04 June 2010


I'll reply to the replies later.

Instead, let's have "salad". Lexi's favorite is Столичный, Stolichny. When I make it at home (having examined the deli versions from two different grocery stores) it has...

  • cubes of boiled potatoes (2 parts)
  • cubes of chicken (2 parts)
  • cubes of barely boiled carrots (1 part)
  • canned peas (1 part)
  • pickles (if I'm not having any--the one time I did she got them on the side) (1/2 part)
  • cubes of boiled egg (1/2-1 part)
  • and olive-based mayonnaise

I'm sure in the real salad there is dill (this is Russia) but I don't like dill and don't keep any in the house. I use lemon pepper instead.

Lexi loves this and will eat it for any meal. Just thought I'd pass it on in case you were looking for a not-so-healthy salad option.

(They also make this salad with pork. Then, at our groceries, they call it Olivier. That's Amanda's favorite salad. The same salad without meat is sold in our grocery store as Home Salad. But, the deli later won't let you buy it.)

01 June 2010

C3 po'd

We have three women who rotate as, for lack of a better word, conceirges for our building. In reality they sit behind a desk in the entryway. And take lots of breaks. Most times after we pass the desk, Lexi asks, "What she is doing down there?" and I tell her, "She's working." "She's watching television," is the sage reply. And, yes. Between breaks they mostly sit and watch television.

Two of them will take your trash out to the courtyard, so that's FANTASTIC!

C1 is very stiff and proper. She calls Lexi "Alexandra" and speaks to her in Russian. Long-winded Russian. Lexi just glazes over.

C2 is a warm, friendly babushka. She is the one who SO wants to be affectionate to Lexi. She will try to give her little treats and wanted to do a little fingerplay with her. She likes Lexi.

C3 speaks a little English, and so, until recently, was Lexi's favorite.

Every time she comes in, Lexi dashes up the steps so that she's standing at eye-level with whomever is on duty. To start a conversation, she usually shows them something--her lunchbox, a bottle of water, her dress.

C3 told me when Lexi showed her a bottle of water...

In English, the word "spoiled", it is negative?"

I confirmed it was.
In Russian, too. I think Lexi is spoiled.
Spoiled? (I was flabbergasted.) Really? I don't think so.
Yes. A little. A little spoiled.
Well, when you have nothing, then you need many new things.
She conceded that point, but remained unconvinced.

THEN, when we had our week of summer a while back, Lexi came in wearing a sleeveless top (H@nna Andersson-- quite modest and much thicker than her t-shirts). It was hot and we'd walked home. C3 was not happy. The conversation quickly went from English to Russian:

Where is her jacket? Where is her coat? What is this? (dismissive gesture at sleeves)
It's hot today. We walked from school. It is good.
No, it is not good. She must have a jacket.
No, she is fine. Are you cold, Lexi? (No, I am not.) Of course. Mama knows. Mama knows what Lexi needs.
No, she does not! Mama does not know!
And so I just repeated that Mama knew and walked away up the stairs.

This is the kind of thing that drives me nuts!

30 May 2010

myself, age seven

by Lexi

What is your favorite color? Black

Who is your best friend at school? Anya and Isabel. Write "Isabel".
*note: These girls aren't often very nice playmates.

Who do you like to play with? Thomas. And I like to play with you, Mummeeeeee.

What do you like best to play on the playground? Swings!

What do you like best to eat? Spaghetti.

What is your favorite book? Oh, Frances! (with a big smile and a sparkle)

What is your favorite song to sing at bedtime? The Castle Song
(Castle on a Cloud from Les Miz) and Feed the Birds

What do you want to do when you're a big girl? Play in the fountains.

What is your favorite thing to play at home? Play with Mouse.

What is your favorite movie? At the Beach (Peppa Pig episode)

What is your favorite game? Memory

My favorite thing is to be helping. I'm such a good helper for you!

(Notes from Mama: Lexi, age newly-seven, loves bubbles, painting, puzzles, books and her new dollhouse. She always asks, "Can I play with my dollhouse? Will you share it with me?" before she plays. She loves to sing and dance. She often "teaches" music lessons and dance lessons and all sorts of lessons to her imaginary class. She is a very serious teacher. She loves spaghetti, pancakes with syrup, chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, strawberries, watermelon, kiwi, mango, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and popcorn. She loves peanut butter, ketchup and mayonnaise. She likes squeaky kisses and fast, everywhere kisses, and big hugs--all exclusively from Mama. She is an excellent helper--my very best helper. She loves to wear pretty dresses and to dress up in costumes. When she's nervous, when people are being over-familiar she turns to me, puts up her arms and asks, "Pick up me." This is usually followed by a request to be "Upsidedown!")

29 May 2010


I would like to know exactly when the other living creatures in this house had a meeting without me and decided that 5:30 a.m. was the perfect time to awaken. It obviously was very shortly after Lexi arrived home when I was too jetlagged and adoption-lagged to take notice of the coup taking place in my home.

I've tried to get wake-up time back on the agenda, but cannot get the other parties' agreement. I've offered all sorts of concessions from nighttime kibbling to drastically later bedtimes, but none seem to be appealing enough for the other parties to consider overturning their earlier decision.

24 May 2010

eight months

EIGHT months together! Can you believe it?

Height: 115.5 cm, 45.5" (That's 5.5 cm growth)
Weight: 19.6 kg, 43 lbs. (That's a gain of 2.3 kg/5 lbs.)

We happened to be at Peterhoff, taking advantage of the last unseasonably warm day, yesterday. (Cold weather was accurately predicted to start the following day.)

We rode the boat there, which was much-anticipated.

Lexi behaved in a very Lexish fashion. She was SO excited to play in the fountains that she rushed through our picnic (also much-anticipated) (Having seen Kipper picnic on a blanket, she was not impressed with the Russian picnic-on-a-bench version.), ate cookies on the hoof (cookies were a big hit),

and was ready to get off the train as soon as we got on (Remind me never to bother with little trains again. Although not the drunk-driver, have-to-wait-20-minutes-at-the-top Vienna-zoo experience, this one drove us through hedges. We need to stick to proper trains and leave the little sight-seeing ones alone.).
When we got to the play fountains, she stripped off to her swimsuit
(Yes, she was the only one there in a swimsuit. And, yes, everyone thought she was "so beautiful".) and didn't want to go in.

Lexi needs to watch. For a long time.

But, eventually, she worked herself up to playing off to the side where the sprinkler wasn't working. She was happy in her little puddle of sunshine while the other children raced through the sprinklers.

I'm happy with my little puddle of sunshine, too. ;>
Afterward we had hotdogs, ice cream, and another boat ride home.

It was a nice day.

Happy eight months, baby girl!

23 May 2010

little girl: found!


My agency tracked down Kristina's new family. In France.

I just got off the phone with them. And I'm just so, so happy.

I just wanted to share the joy.

22 May 2010


It was bound to happen, I suppose.

After a particularly bad night of boats on the canal--They were non-stop and loud. There wasn't the usual lull after 2 a.m.--some clowns parked across the canal and started drinking at 7 a.m. They turned on the music and blasted it.

Lexi had the window open to blow bubbles. I, tired and sick of the constant, inconsiderate noise, leaned out and shouted, "Would you please just SHUT UP!"

Not my most stellar moment. It was a bit fish-wifey, though not at all shrill. And they didn't. In fact, I would wager that my reactions was exactly what they wanted and made them feel empowered.

But, I was pleased with how the canal acoustics carried my Oxford-trained voice (Um...but...I've never had a problem with projection, so Oxford doesn't really deserve any credit here. It's just a name-dropping adjective. Forgive me.) down the canal. It just boomed. Impressive.

20 May 2010

proud mama

About a week ago we were walking to the apteka. We passed a bridal shop and Lexi stopped dead in front of the window that displayed a big "cake" dress in red and white.

"Oh, I do not like that dress," she said with conviction.

I was so proud. ;>

19 May 2010

say ahhhh

Lexi has huge tonsils. Huge. Mine are so small that every doctor who examines me asks if I've had them removed. (I haven't.) Lexi's fill up her poor little throat.

I was commenting that I thought she'd have to have them out once we were home. A friend told me that she might just need to have them cleaned. Never having heard of this, I told her so and asked what it entailed.

She said that tonsillectomies are very rare in Russia (I can confirm my Russian ped's reaction to the suggestion--she was horrified at the thought of such a "very risky surgery"). Instead, she is meant to go in yearly and have her tonsils drained and washed. She said she hasn't done it for several years because it's so uncomfortable.

Sounds uncomfortable to me.

16 May 2010


edited to tell you my daughter was deemed the most gracious seven-year-old ever in the history of the world for her behaviour during the party--particularly during present-opening. And not just by me!

friends from UK/Russia, USA, the birthday girl, Russia, Holland

Our party was exactly what I wanted it to be--fun for Lexi.

Her four classmates arrived and we decorated picture frames and made beads-on-pipe cleaner bracelets.

We played some dancing games, had a photo-puzzle scavenger hunt, played pin-the-butterfly-on-the-flower,

and then everyone sang to Lexi (all she wanted was a cake, for everyone to sing to her, and to dance) and we had strawberry cake and fruit.

After cake, we played hot potato to open gifts. Yes, we opened gifts. The girls were all excited to see how Lexi liked their presents.

We got the bracelet makings out again and that kept everyone busy and happy until the they had to leave. We didn't even play the balloon game I had in reserve or paint faces or make the flowers to decorate the wall or eat ice cream. NO ONE wanted ice cream--not even my little one. Go figure.

Thank-you notes are in-progress.

13 May 2010

now we are seven

Woke up with our usual snuggle (Can you come give me hugs?) and got up for breakfast (I can open my present!).

Opened dollhouse dolls and was underwhelmed. (Mama was sad so quickly wrapped the xylophone meant for later.) Opened xylophone and was thrilled. Played the xylophone until we left we school.

Ate pancakes (on a school morning!) with strawberries and the last of the syrup.

Brought carrot cake cupcakes to school--with purple cream cheese frosting (best eaten with eyes closed) and found signs everywhere saying Happy Birthday, Lexi! This guaranteed our little rock star was showered with birthday wishes from all the big kids. The birthday cake hat was a visual reminder. (That's my girl--a costume for every occasion.)

Came home and discovered there were MORE presents! A dollhouse (bought in Bratislava and containing the wrong pieces assembled and juryrigged by Mama), lots of dollhouse furniture, and two Peppa dvd's.

Ate spaghetti and birthday "cake".

Took a bath and went to bed after reading a new birthday book brought by a friend.

And now we are seven!

(Beazy and Mia enjoyed the dollhouse, too.)