30 January 2010

just fyi

Having some blogger issues, so comments are off for now. Hope to have it resolved soon.

26 January 2010

the day the music died

Today, for some reason, is the day that I am OVER Russia. I'm done. Finished.

Lexi's sick. We have no car. We had rides to and from the doctor kindly provided, but...bleh. We need groceries. I forgot her snowpants so she couldn't go out today. It's bitterly cold. It's dark. I have students absent and had another visiting. I'm tired and probably getting whatever Lexi has. All my sick days are gone.

Kindergarten is stressful. Having my child in a class where I do not agree with the teacher on how children should be taught, disciplined, and treated is incredibly stressful. Having baby steps taken when I want something done is stressful. There is a very easy solution to part of this problem that is not being taken for political reasons. And I think those reasons are ridiculous and entirely without merit.

And the GSO at the consulate called my principal to say that I needed to be taking care of the police report on the car myself.

That, somehow, just did it for me.

Being told, weeks after the fact, that I needed to find a way to the local police station, without a car, with my sick child in tow, to ask for and fill out forms in Russian--which I cannot do--before 1 February when the price will double, just did it.

During my stint here I've gone from Wow! to Interesting. to occasional grumbles to, today, clicking my heels three times. I've been here for 4 1/2 years. When I tell other ex-pats that, their eyes grow big and they either inhale or exhale loudly. It's a long time. I know that there are blog readers who would love to be here that long, or think that they'd love to be here that long. And, I did enjoy the adventure in the beginning. I'm grateful to have been given this opportunity. I've learned so much.

But as of today, I'm finished.

I just have to find a way to be cheerful as I trudge through the time I have left. That's a good way to describe life in Russia. One neither skips nor glides. One doesn't sing and dance along the streets. One trudges. It's just a hard place to live. And, that "hardness" isn't limited to ex-pats. Nothing is easy here. Nothing. I'm just thankful that, although it will be a little while longer, I will be able to leave and come home.

updated 30 January to add: The driver from school didn't make his run to the consulate. Again. Which means all the paperwork that I need to take with me today (colleague from school is very kindly driving and translating) to the militsia to get a piece of paper that says that they haven't/can't do anything about recovering the lost plates so that new ones can be issued is still at the consulate. So, it looks like today is not going to be the day we get things started. And, the prices for new plates "doubles" on 1 February from 3575 r to...they don't know what. It could be 5000r. It could be 7000. It could be more.

It's hard to explain why this is all so taxing. Yes, it's incredibly inconvenient. But, it's the attitude of people around me that is most wearing. There is a sort of general apathy, an expectation that things are and always will be difficult, combined, in some people, with a vague...hostile, jealous resentment. Being the constant target of that, for no reason other than my nationality, is wearing.

And, it's knowing that while a trip to the DMV is never fun, all this would have been easily taken care of in a day in the US. I haven't driven since 21 December.

We need groceries. No car means more frequent trips, higher prices, carrying everything home and poor produce. Making these grocery runs on foot in the snow and ice and slush with my little helper is not fun.

We need medicine. The doctor Rx'd 7 days of @ugmentin for Lexi (shouldn't it be 10-14?) but only gave us 5 days' worth. ???? So I need an apteka within walking-distance-for-a-six-year-old who will give us more.

These two errands--groceries and medicine--will take an entire day.

The school year is half-finished. Only.

And, on top of all this, I've got some big decisions rattling around in my little head. Those will remain personal, but, boy, do they rattle!


*photo removed*

We found this and a teeny-tiny note under Lexi's pillow this morning!

Dear Lexi,
You were such a good, brave girl to pull out your wiggly tooth. Now a new, big, strong tooth can grow. Here is a special present because it was your first loose tooth.

the tooth fairy

25 January 2010

loose tooth!

Yep--we have one. It's one of the teeny-tiny bottom teeth. I can't imagine the root is very big either, so I expect it to come out soon.

Stay tuned...

*photo removed*

Yep. It's gone. She did it all herself. (Yes, it's a little dry around here right now.)

She's a little concerned that her tooth is "broken" but is excited about the possibility of a new, strong tooth coming. I'm a little worried that she thinks the tooth fairy is bringing the new tooth tonight.

These are the things that make me angry. Can you imagine how little nutrition she was getting to grow a tooth this size? This one is smaller than the one still in her mouth.

24 January 2010

four months

I can't believe it's been four months! That sounds so much longer than three months.

Here she is toughing out a cold by hanging out in Mama's classroom. The yearbook needed a picture...so I took this. (Love both this top and this sweater!)

Four months home and I begrudge every moment she has to spend away from me.

Height: 113 cm
Weight: debatable-Doctor says 18 kg. (39.6 lbs.)
Our scale says 18.4-19 kg. (40.5-42 lbs.)

I think our inconsistent scale is closer. She certainly feels more solid.

Doctor says she's in 3% for height and weight.

She continues to love to paint, draw, dance, sing, and READ. Favorite books are still Piglet and Mama and Loving. New favorites are The Little Engine That Could, A book with The Three Bears, The Little Red Hen and The Three Pigs, and It's a Good Thing You're Not an Octopus. Oh, and Green Eggs and Ham. And...

23 January 2010


Lexi was still sick so we left school at lunchtime (I had a parent observing in the morning) and took a taxi to the doctor. They wouldn't treat her--even with my insurance card and even though I've been seen there myself in the past-- b/c I didn't have a credit card with me. So we took a taxi home. Total cost of 3 taxis that day: 1100r.

The consulate motorpool called and said that 1. my battery had cracked in half due to the cold and 2. they'd take my car to the dmv equivalent next week. I guess that means another week of taxis in the morning and waiting until 4:30 for the bus in the afternoons. Long and expensive days.

A woman persisted in trying to deliver a telegram to me. She eventually gave up after much explaining that I didn't understand, speak Russian, expect a telegram, or know what to do. Curious, though, 'cause telegrams are so romantic, I asked the concierge later what it was all about. It wasn't for me. The persistent woman simply had the wrong address.

21 January 2010

also on the playground

Here is the slide yesterday after school. (She's there, Essie. See? At the top.) Yes, we still play outside unless it's colder than -25C. Then you have the option of staying in, but it's merely an option. The Russian schools close when it's either -20C or -25C. We. never. close.

Personally, I think -20 is a small price to pay for blue skies. BLUE SKIES!!!

Here is Lexi demonstrating how to slide down the new slide extension:

Older kids tell me the key is to spring up when you hit the end of the slide (aka jam into the ice) and just flop onto your belly. Lexi is too little and has to stand up and then dive into her penguin move.

Below is one of the shoveled-out swings. You can almost sit on that one without touching snow. Well, Lexi can. I doubt the hold would same true for me.

An article in the St. Petersburg Times (the second one in less than a month) about the deplorable road-clearing. Apparently the mayor said the crews better get busy or they could "knit socks" in the evenings rather than be employed. Sure enough, last night they towed all the cars off my street (mine was already gone) and cleared the road. Yes, we woke up at 0-dark-thirty and watched it. It was a nice break in the nightmares.

I think Dimet@pp night time cold and cough (yes, she's sick again) might have made them worse. Possible?

20 January 2010

from the playground

"My mom says Lexi doesn't even look Russian. She just looks American."

I told them it was all in the clothes. ;>

18 January 2010

noisy on the inside

Lexi, overstimulated, darts around the room, running and shouting, unable to focus on getting dressed to go out and play.

Boy in kindergarten: Why is Lexi so crazy?

Me: You know what, Sash? When it's really noisy around Lexi, she feels noisy inside and just can't make herself be quiet. That's when she needs some quiet around her so that she can feel quiet on the inside.

And I said it in front of the kindergarten teacher.

I've asked principal if I can go in and explain that to the whole class.

17 January 2010

daily grind

For ONCE the...peculiarities of how-Russia-deals-with-all-things-car may work in my favor.

Here is my car as seen from our window--no license plates, dead battery. It's been shoveled out twice. And the piles of snow on either side are at least as high as the car.

Here is something interesting happening across the street.

Wait, I'll open the windows.
I *think*, I mean, it looks to me, like they've picked up this car, put it on the tow truck, and are shoveling out the snow on that side of the street. I'm guessing that's where the car was parked and that they'll return it when they finish. That would be GREAT!

Of course, they've been working on that same little patch for over two hours now...so by the time they get to me, it might be June and thawed.

**eta: That's exactly what they did--cleared the street and then put the car back. Now if they'll just come over HERE...

(Kind, kind motorpool workers at the consulate are coming Tuesday to shovel, start, and try to get plates for my car. I'm leaving them a little gifty in the front seat. See--I've figured this system out.)

And, below, is the slide as we saw it first thing last Monday as we arrived for school. Can you see? Since then, the kiddos have carved it out so that you can slide about halfway down. Then, if you jump just right, you can slide on snow the rest of the way down. Or, you can hop off and go back up the half-flight of stairs.

Kindergarten? Bleh. Not making my little bunny feel safe and happy.

I made the kindergarten teacher cry. (Which was probably a good thing, because that means that she finally heard a little of what I've been saying about effect of the noise and disorder in her classroom.) And, days later, she says having Lex in class (and, I infer, having me on her case about Lex being in class) is so much stress that she's having chest pains and may need to go into hospital. (eyeroll)

I am doing my best to remember that while I need to be polite, her well-being and happiness is not my responsibility. Lexi's is. The end.

10 January 2010


New circus-cat training methods include many, many repetitions of:

Come on, Mia. Jump. You LIKE to jump. (Hmmm...sounds a lot like "You like cheese.") You do. You like to jump. Come on. Come ON.

Mia, we don't say no to Mama. We say, "Yes, Mama."

(And, no, neither of us has seen trained cats in a circus. Well, I've seen trained big cats, as in lions and tigers back in the day, but I doubt she has. This is all Lexi.)

This morning before seven:

"Mama, are you sleeping? Are you asleep? Are you sleeping? Are you off? Yep."

09 January 2010

guest blogger

key: Lexi's comments. (Mama's comments.) LEXI'S TYPING.

I do typing.
(What are you going to type?)
I going type some numbuhs and ledduhs.

L for Lexi!



Now C is for Cookies. LLLLLLLLLL (That's an L. For Lexi.)KKKKKK (That's a K.)KKKKKKKKK(That's a K, Lex. For Kristina. Not a C.)KKKKKKKKKKKKK(No cookies?)Nope.KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK



(How about some numbers? They're over here.) Let's count!
one 1111111111111111111111111111111
twoooo 222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222
three 3333333333333333333333333333
where is four? Four!4444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444
Fi-yev. (Five.) Fivvvve.555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555
(Six?) Seven. (What about six?) 7777777777(No sixes?) No. Seven. 7777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777


08 January 2010

project 52

One of my online blogpals and kindred spirits took up the challenge of posting (nearly) a picture a day in 2010 and threw down the gauntlet for the rest of us to follow suit.

I love to take pictures, and would like to think that I'd post a photo a day, and am intrigued to see what this revealed.

But I know I wouldn't.

I wouldn't lug my big ol' camera around every day. I'd get sick of pictures of school and recovering from school. And that's pretty much life. But, it's not really how I want to SEE my life. (Allow me my illusions.)

Do you know what high achievers do when, for example, playing PIG on the basketball court? They find their outer limit and then take one step in.

So. I am going to post a photo a WEEK in 2010. In a completely new place. And I'm going to do my best to have it NOT be simply photos of my gorgeous daughter. Those you'll still find here.

And, who knows? I may actually exceed the 52 pictures planned for 2010. Or, the challenge my lie in finding THE photo to sum up the week.

Or it may be a big cop-out and said friend is just being kind in encouraging me to participate in this divided-by-seven manner.

Thanks, friend.

04 January 2010

goal setting

Lexi has decided to train Mia for the circus. (See Christmas pictures below.) Mia's got an impressive standing jump of about five feet, so you can see the possibilities.

Today she was trying to teach Mia to jump on the trampoline. Her teaching strategy relies too much on...bossing Mia around and too little on rewards and incentives. And she's trying to train Mia.

While I was cooking dinner (such as it was), all I heard was,

Come on, Mia. Come on, Mia. Come ON, Mia. Come on, Mia. Jump. Jump. JUMP. Come ON, Mia, jump! Jump. Come on, Mia. Come ON, Mia.

Over and over again, while Lexi flicked Mia's toy at the trampoline while hanging over the back of the couch.

Mia hasn't learned to jump on the trampoline, but Lexi remains hopeful that they will, indeed, be in the circus. Apparently their gimmick is that Lexi, the cat trainer, will be doing gymnastics on the ropes above the circus while directing Mia's tricks. Those tricks will likely include a trampoline, but she's willing to consider other tricks.

03 January 2010

what passes for news

Update for all you hair-obsessed blog readers:

We had a haircut last week (I just undercut and evened things out in the back--but didn't touch all the growing-out layers on top) and it is looking much more kempt. It's amazing to me, who has very different hair, how much maintenance this hair requires! I *may* be hm in some ways, but not when it comes to hair. Hers, at age six, has to have product in it (it's the Pantene stuff that looks like it's in a glue bottle--and came free with some shampoo sometime) and has to be blow-dried until it's bone-dry, which takes for.ev.er., after it's shampooed. If not--I'm in for wrestling matches in the mornings until we shampoo again in a day or two. A spray bottle isn't enough. It needs to be doused and dried.

Speaking of dry...I forwent (How can that be right? What else could it be?) skipped her usual Suave kids tonight and used some LUSH Rehab and Retread on her. Her hair smells wonderful and is SO shiny and healthy. I'd wait and put pix up tomorrow, but...

...we have big news! TODAY was the day the front pieces were long enough to stay in a French braid. Yesterday, no. Today, YES! How cute is this?

*photos removed*

Obviously, so cute that, once again, you're getting multiple photos when one would do. She was such a little model today--changing poses with every click. It cracked me up. She's never done that before. (Good thing she and ANTME won't be competing in the same season. Wink!) What a sweet little goofball.

02 January 2010

blue tape

So here's what I did this morning: I put bits of blue painter's tape on all my clean clothes. (And they're nearly all clean.)


I have entirely too many clothes. Seriously. I have six grey cardigans. Six. Sure, they range in shades of grey. Some are cotton. Some are cashmere. Some are long-sleeved and at least one is short-. But do I really need six? Hmm..maybe I actually do.

But that's just the example. I also have too many other cardigans, tee-shirts [Some have been infected with toxic sweat (I would link you to that post about the toxicity of sweat in Russia, but the search blog feature has stopped working on my blog. Why?) and I forget which ones until I put them on...and then for some insane reason I wash them! Why do I not just throw. them. out.? I will. really.] and various clothes that I rarely wear.

There are also clothes that don't fit. Not many that I've hung on to, but a few. Because, you know what? I was right to doubt (scoff, laugh hysterically at, generally berate the faster metabolisms of...) everyone who said the adoption weight would "just fall off when I had a little one home to chase around".

Um, no. I'm so tired, that I've got a Coca-Cola drip set up from awakening to quiet time. (Not really, but I'm drinking too much of it and/or tea. I'm not enough of a grown-up to like coffee.) Sugar, sugar, sugar. Better than @sp@rt@me, but certainly the lesser of two evils. And, we do much more sitting than running around both on the floor--doing puzzles, playing games, dressing Baby--and at the table--coloring, painting, playing with clay.

And I wasn't walking the 2+ miles daily to get to and from school, because we weren't in school. Of course we went for walks. But, nearby walks are all in our polluted, damp, dark city. So, we weren't walking every day. Now we're in school...but we drive. It's too much for little legs to do round-trip. Maybe in the spring. And there's not much life after school. That's all we do--school, recover, repeat.

But I *like* those clothes that don't fit. I like the way I looked then, even if I didn't realize it at the time. So even though I'm much bigger now, I'm not ready to give them up. But I know I should.

So--the tape. I thought if I was scientific about it, if there were empirical data, it might make it easier to part with some things. Every time I wear something, I'll take off the tape. (I really hope I remember to take the tape off. Elsewise I'll look mighty foolish.) Then, after a period of time as yet undetermined (Six weeks, maybe? But what about the springy-stuff? Spring comes at the end of May. That's more than six weeks. Hence, the "undetermined".), I'll bite the bullet and donate the still-taped clothing.

So, that's my little moment of productivity today. Oh--and I started to add tucks to the hem of Lexi's coming-home dress (which was even too short for my taste when we came home) so she can wear it longer. But. That is one looooooong hem (as in, it's a very full dress) and I need to make more. Bleh.

I was a very productive girl! Of course, I didn't get in as many games of Memory as I usually do. I'm off to take care of that now.

And my poor, pitiful little friend who's been puny all day has just developed a fever. We have one more week off school...I hope we're healthy.

01 January 2010

discussion-best photo book site

I want to begin creating photobooks of each year for Lexi and I. I'll order two copies--one for us to enjoy and one for her to take with her when she moves out on her own.

The question is: Shutterfly or snapfish? Or someone else?

Shutterfly did my announcements. They had better lay-outs for the cards. Or, maybe I should say, they had lay-outs I liked better. I'm really happy with how the announcements/holiday cards look.

Which site is best for archiving pictures (So I can delete by iPhoto library after putting it on cd. Scary.) and creating photo books? Why? Any horror stories? Can I add text?

Chime in!