30 March 2010


a portion of a song or other music that repeats compulsively within one's mind

Our friend Porter forgot to mention that when the gorgeous ANTME sang this...

*video removed*

that it was earwormy. (Why is the egg "shaky"? No clue. But we usually take the opportunity to shake. Or, I do and Lexi laughs at me.)

We find it a versatile song.

You can know a ______________ that _____________ a _____________. It can be _______________ ________________. A sort of Mad-libby song.

The only compulsory lyrics are Oh, my goodness! which are preferably shouted and not sung.

Thanks, Porter. Really. Thanks SO much.

29 March 2010

got an in?

If you've got an in with any of the following agencies, would you please e-mail me? (My address is in my profile.) Or, leave your e-mail in the comments and I'll e-mail you. THANKS!

  • ABC Adoption/ Carolina Adoption (CAS)
  • Dove International
  • IAG
  • Wide Horizons
  • EAC (though I still don't think they work in Moscow REGION)

28 March 2010

perchance to dream

Day one of daylight savings/summer time:

1 tired girl combined with
adherence to bedtime routine
and a dash of melatonin

equaled bedtime on time--despite the
midnight sun peering through the window.

I realize this is only the first day, and that sleep deprivation season hasn't really begun in earnest, but at least we're off to a good start!


Are there non-latex band-aids? 'Cause we have baaaad reactions to band-aids (various brands) over here. I'm guessing it's the latex...

26 March 2010


Lexi loves Fridays...although she doesn't know what Friday is.

To her, it's ICE CREAM DAY! After school on Fridays we stop at one of the little shops near us and buy her an ice cream cone. As she told me on the way home today, "I think I like best ice cream." Her current favorite is maple walnut. (It is good--even I think so and I'm not really an ice cream person.)

So, we hereby invite everyone to grab a scoop and join us.

23 March 2010

searching for kristina

Thank you all for your kind words on the last post. I didn't want to overshadow our joyful milestone with this, so I've held off on posting.

This is a post I wasn't sure I'd write. It's on the long side, even for me, so be sure you've got some time.

Lexi came home six months ago, in late September. You may remember when I made her the album of photos of her groupmates. What I didn't mention then was the joy she had over seeing her friend Kristina. She exclaimed, "This is my friend! My Kristina! How beautiful!" She was more excited about seeing Kristina's picture than she was in seeing the picture of the little boy her caretaker told us was the only person who would play with her. (That was in June. I'm guessing the girls made friends later. Or the caretaker didn't know.)

When she was playing with my hair in those early days, she would take two handfuls and make pigtails. Then she'd sigh, "Kristina" filled with homesickness for her friend. The longing, the missing, the melancholy in that one word just made me ache for her. Then her eyes would twinkle and she'd make one ponytail and pronounce me "Daniel!" Her other little friend had the rat's tail that is so popular over here. She still does this today.

I don't remember when I worked it out, because the photo of her on the database didn't look at all like the little girl I saw, but I met Kristina. She was one of the two little girls brought in to play with Lexi on my second visit. My rep took a picture of us all playing together. But, the director panicked, whisked the girls away, and had me erase it. Yes, this is the photo that I'll regret following rules about for the rest of my life. I remember her. She was soft and quiet. She was gentle. Her light brown hair was in a ponytail. She captured a bit of my heart that day--even as I tried to remind myself that it was Lexi I was there to see.

Lexi missed her friend, Kristina tremendously. She talked about her--and to her in imaginary phone calls--every day. Kristine is often along as an imaginary friend to this day.

After much thought and prayer, I decided to inquire about her availability for international adoption. I had wanted to adopt sisters, I thought d2b was plural, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to keep children together who didn't share a biological bond, but were "sisters" in their group. My agency thought she'd be home by August.

No, I didn't post about it. This was one of those things that just needed to be mine, to be treasured up in my heart. It just wasn't for sharing.

Have you read The Waiting Child? It's the only Chinese adoption story I've read. It makes me weep. And I thought I would be able to write the Russian sequel.

I was told in December that Kristina was available for adoption and my heart soared! We began getting social workers lined up and inquiring about paperwork. Once the holidays were over and we were ready to proceed it was early February.

On that visit to the MOE my agency's representative was told that Kristina was not available for adoption.

I was devastated. I thought she was mine. I was ready. I was excited. My heart had already claimed her. She was mine. She was ours. I'm still heartsore. While I am delighted that Kristina is finding a home, I am so very disappointed it is not with us.

I have to thank my agency for doing the impossible. They were able to get information that they shouldn't have been able to get. Russian adoption is very private. Maybe it was my wild hopes that convinced our reps to pursue it or the MOE to share--I hoped that she'd been referred but not accepted. I hoped she was being adopted by a Russian family who would change their minds. I hoped that she was still mine.

My agency was told Kristina is being adopted by an American family, and that their paperwork is already in. And, I was given permission to take Lexi for a visit to say goodbye. This is amazing.

We booked our plane tickets and made arrangements with a driver. Then, we learned that the orphanage is quarantined with chickenpox. It's likely that Kristina will be gone before we can say goodbye.

Another blow. But this one was delivered so caringly by our agency rep--who e-mailed me in Russian. I was so touched by this gesture. Usually everything goes through translators and the agency. For him to e-mail me directly was another big thing. And for that, I'm very grateful.

So why am I posting this now? Truly, I'd rather not. I'd rather keep this all to myself. But, this blog has been used in amazing ways in the past. It's connected people in, frankly, miraculous ways. I'm hoping it will do that again.

I've put messages up on FRUA and adoption.com in an attempt to locate Kristina's family, but have gotten no response.

I've contacted the agencies that I know work in Moscow Region (ABC, CSS, Children's Hope International, Dove, Hand in Hand, IAG, MAPS, Nightlight, and Wide Horizons) to ask if they are representing this family. MAPS, Hand in Hand and CSS have replied, letting me know that Kristina is not going home with one of their families.

I've asked only that the agency will pass my contact details on to Kristina's new family in the hopes that they'll contact me. (If you were with one of the other agencies that hasn't responded and can tell them I'm not crazy, that might help. If you know of other agencies who work in Moscow Region that I don't have listed, please let me know.)

It is my hope that Lexi and Kristina would be able to maintain some sort of contact. Even just knowing where she was, that she was home and happy would be helpful to Lexi.

I've offered to share with the family things that I've learned about life in their orphanage that may be helpful with their initial adjustment. I wish I'd known.

My heart just breaks every time Lexi says, "Oh, hi, Kristine! We miss you." She takes pictures of me holding the imaginary Kristina. She helps her and tells her all sorts of things. She makes sure Kristina has something to eat and promised Mama will make her a pretty dress. Sunday she was taking care of her because she was sick. We both love Kristina and pray each night, thankful that Kristina has a new family. (Lexi is able to do that much more happily than I, if truth be told.)

If you know Kristina's family, would you share our story with them? If you are Kristina's new family, please will you let us know? I can verify her last name, database information, diagnoses... We won't stalk! We just would love to know where in the world Kristina is.

22 March 2010

six months

Six months ago today, my little bunny left the orphanage.
That's forever and yesterday.

We celebrated yesterday with cake. (It was a new recipe and turned out rather badly. In fact, we binned quite a bit of it. And, seriously--who throws away cake? Fortunately, the icing was good. And there were sprinkles. And candles.)

114 cm/45" tall
weighing in at 19.2 kg/42 lbs.

Some very impressive coloring from earlier in the day.

(all photos and video removed)

A post telling you how amazing she is should be here. A clinical analysis of her progress with empirical data could be here. Instead, you get a few pictures. (Her baby, who is most definitely a girl, is named Baby George right now...like Peppa's little brother. I, however, remind myself that Nancy Drew had a friend-who-was-a-girl named George. And don't go messing that up for me.)

Maybe the posts will follow.

(Okay, I'm doubting I'll find the time to post something that is BIG enough to tell you how incredible this child of mine is. I can't do her justice. She's really doing amazingly well. While we still have issues from the orphanage and before, she's bravely conquering them. I've said before and I'll likely say it again--I'll take those issues over attachment issues any day. ANY day. And, by the grace of God, we are still sailing in smooth waters as far as attachment goes.

She loves dancing to Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, watching Peppa Pig and Sesame Street (although we could really use some new episodes), and reading ANYTHING. She loves to wear pretty dresses, take bubble baths, pretend and snuggle. She's rapidly learning her letters and is starting to put sounds with letters.

She's sleeping better and talking more. School is a challenge every. day. She is the bravest, cheerful-est, amazing-est person I know. I am humbled and blessed beyond measure to be her mama.)

18 March 2010

a Russian school

Our school is currently in a little, tiny building. There are no hallways. To get from one place to another you walk through the classrooms. This actually is not as disruptive as it seems. We're quite used to people walking through. And, the second graders know that unless people stop to talk to us, we're to just keep on working. (If they do stop, then the greeter for the day gets up, shakes hands, and welcomes them to second grade.)

But, we've clearly outgrown our school. Classrooms have been divided in half. Temporary, folding walls have been put up between classrooms. And still there is no place to go for some quiet. There is no art room, no music room, no cafeteria, no gym. Everything takes place in the classroom except p.e. We rent a gym in the winter and use the playground when it's warmer.

We've finally been given a new building! Let me just say that the paperwork involved has been reminiscent of my adoption. The fact that we're a foreign school, sponsored by foreign governments, means that we cannot simply buy a new building. We can't just rent one on our own. All sorts of special permissions must be obtained.

Our new building is an old Russian school that is badly in need of repair. It will be very nice once it's finished (maybe in October) with big classrooms and wide hallways (they're loadbearing walls so we have choice but to keep the wide hallways). We won't have a playground, but we will have rooms for all of our specialists and a proper science lab for our MS/HS students.

On our last in-service day we were able to tour the building before demolition begins. It was a little like walking through Pompeii...or an empty history museum. There was writing still on the chalkboards, some books still on desks.

It was a little eerie.

The bottom floor two floors were just filled with trash. We almost didn't go up to the top floor, thinking that there would be nothing there, either. This is what we saw.

On the end were the survival classrooms. Our Russian staff, even the ones in their 20's, say that lessons in how to use gas masks were part of their curriculum. There was a whole closet full of them! And, right next door, under a stained glass window of a soldier with other war-like stained glass inside, was a room set up to look like...different room in which you might need to survive. There were wooden guns lying around. It was a strange feeling.

I asked if this school had any military affiliation and was told this was just a normal, soviet/Russian school.

There's a happier "All the Soviet Peoples" poster near the end. It was very noticeably different in theme from the other posters on that floor.

Blogger is being cantankerous, and I'm in no mood to wrestle the photo-loading into submission, so just take them as the come. You might notice in the last photo of the hallway that I brought a little bunny along with me. (Her babysitter for the day is in one of the other pictures-taking pictures of her own.)

15 March 2010

i am SICK

Since Lexi's been home, she's been sick, I've been sick, we've been sick.

Now, I am SICK!

I have a fever that makes me want to carefully stack myself into bed with all the bones aligned and then just. not. move. I don't sleep, mind. I just hover on the edge of consciousness in a feverish haze.

Slowly getting better. Will post again. Just an explanation for the curious.

11 March 2010

decimation of the village

I am fortunate to have a very wide, very supportive "virtual village". There are so many people supporting us from afar. And for this, I am grateful.

Our physical village is much smaller. It's primarily limited two of my friends--both of whom teach at our school. These friends are the only people Lexi calls "Tyotya" (auntie). They adore her and would slay dragons for her.

These are the friends she races upstairs to see first thing every morning,

who will clear the classroom to let her dance,

who will make the ENTIRE first grade scoot over
in the middle of the Christmas concert so that Lexi can get
onstage (last minute mind-change) and sing. And then they'll take pictures.

These are the friends who stood up with us for Lexi's baptism.

They're the only grown-up friends whom Lexi is allowed to hug and accept gifts from.

We love these friends. LOVE THEM. One is a new friend this year and the other is a dear friend of many years.

And both of them are leaving next year.

I knew one was leaving. She has simply been here long enough. I know this. I KNOW she is leaving. But I can't imagine our life here without her. She not only slays dragons, she seeks them out and THEN slays them. Just today, she grabbed hold of the tail of what might have been a dragon and might just have been an iguana, whipped it out, spun it around her head a few times, banged it into submission on the floor, and THEN slayed it. She will leave an un-fillable hole.

I only found out that my other friend was leaving about a month ago.

There's not much else to say, really, except I really and truly don't know what we'll do without them. I just feel at a total loss. It's a huge, huge loss. The huts in this village looking mighty empty.

07 March 2010

more shopping

Yesterday, we went shopping for rain boots for Lexi. Because soon, winter will be over (stop laughing and ignore the snow falling outside my window) and then it will be mud season. They didn't have the purple ones or the pink fairy ones or the other pink ones in her size. I told her we could wait and keep shopping, but Lexi is still a buy-it-NOW kind of girl--a little afraid, I think, that later will never come. So we got these which I think are cute--and those girls in kindergarten BETTER say nice things about them. One plus I noted in the store--they're lined.

You can see we've established that they will be excellent for jumping in muddy puddles, just like Peppa--her favorite character thanks to a VERY generous friend who sent us two hours of Peppa shorts. I didn't realize there were two hours on there until we were both sick and I popped it in to give Mama a few minutes with her head down on the couch. Alison--you're a STAR!

When we got them home, I discovered THIS is the state of the lining. While the display-and-try-on pair was lined, Apparently the linings come separately. Guess I need some superglue...or just thick socks.

My little overstimulated, highly-distractable-in-kindergarten peanut doesn't need one more piece of clothing to put on before going outside, much less two. I don't even send her snowpants with her anymore, but instead let her play in the -whatever weather in jeans or leggings. Yes, it's that bad. Yes, I've made all sorts of common-sensical suggestions (turn off the lights, give her specific instructions rather than general--get your hat rather than get dressed, give her a place to keep all her things instead of in communal hat (ew), gloves, scarf boxes, I GAVE her a place to keep all her things, etc.)to no avail. So separate linings are NOT what we want.

We also bought some much needed bath toys. See these cute bekerchiefed ducks?

See how they float?

Oi. Lexi doesn't even want them in the tub. I can't say I blame her...

05 March 2010

food prices

For the curious, and those who've asked how expensive food is here, I've itemized our two shopping trips (from last weekend) below. As far as cost of living, food is the least expensive, comparatively speaking. It's everything else that's expensive.

Shopping at store in city centre:
1381 roubles (about $46)

  • 4 litres 2.5% milk (Finnish & fresh)
  • brown sourdough-ish bread
  • 4 seeded rolls
  • 1 package (4 rolls) loo roll
  • 1 box (less than 1 liter) juice
  • 4 yogurts
  • 7 mandarins
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 one-liter bottles Coke
  • 10 eggs
  • 2 cans white beans (brand that we don't like, but that's all they had)
  • cherry tomatoes
  • 6 loose packets instant oatmeal (sold as impulse items along side the chocolate and dried fish) (*Lexi refused to eat it.)
  • cheese
  • rice (that we don't like, but that's all they had)
  • 1 package Zara spaghetti
  • 1 package Zara small shells

Big grocery store stock-up:
8024 roubles ($268) (We usually spend about $125/week.)
  • 3 packages boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 packages turkey "medallions" (which means random chunks, but I'll grind it anyway and it's white meat--fyi, turkey is expensive and about to go "out of season")
  • frozen strawberries
  • 2 200g packages (French) butter
  • 4 packages cheddar cheese (expensive--and no telling if it's mild or sharp until it's open)
  • 3 liters skimmed milk (Finnish & fresh)
  • 12 yogurts
  • 2 bags potatoes (French)
  • cherry tomatoes (Argentina)
  • strawberries (Argentina--and wrapped in plastic so you can't see that half of them are...fuzzy. But, Lexi loves strawberries, so I got them knowing they'd never all be eatable. I was right.)
  • 2 bottles ketchup
  • 2 lettuce plants
  • 2 containers humus
  • 2 cans white beans (Spain--our favorites after the ones that are no longer available)
  • 2 packages flat bread
  • 1 loaf "grandmother's" bread
  • 2 peppers, orange and yellow
  • baby cucumbers
  • carrots
  • 3 granny smith apples
  • beet & fish salad (selected by Lexi--usually she likes this but doesn't this time)
  • carrot salad (selected by Lexi--and no surprise she didn't like it as she's still anti-carrot)
  • 2 bottles laundry detergent (big--30 loads each) (UK)
  • 1 bottle fabric softener (UK)
  • 1 bottle dish soap (UK)
  • 1 bag cat littler (UK)
  • 2 tubes Aquafresh kids
  • 3 bottles Colgate Plax
  • 5 boxes instant oatmeal (Ukraine--Axa brand, Dawn--and I say Aha! every time we eat it)
  • 1 box cereal
  • 2 packages rice (that we like)
  • 2 packages Barilla fusilli
  • 2 packages Barilla spaghetinni
  • 4 packages (4 rolls each) loo roll

less drama

I might not need to sprechen Deutsch after all.

Fortunately, when agency e-mailed my sw's agency to see if anyone there could fly to Russia and do my ppr, sw agency told agency that I'd already been in contact with them AND that no, they could not fly to Russia.

I think knowing that I was being proactive (um, I think that because knowing I was proactive was mentioned in today's e-mail) made them want to help me more. And, it seems to have led to a "creative solution" that will allow me not to fly to Germany.

I don't know what the solution is. I just know we're waiting for approval from Russia. (Yes, from the entire country, apparently.)

Fingers crossed...

03 March 2010

the drama continues

Why do these things continue to surprise me?

Agency sw just e-mailed me and casually told me that all the plans previously made for my ppr's being submitted by the Russian sw on the Russian schedule has been changed.

And they want me to have my ppr done in less than three weeks.

Somehow, they forgot everything THEY told me--and when they asked the Russian sw to comply with requirements for US families, she said she couldn't. And they decided I would have a new sw do everything if that's the way things had to be. Surely the consulate had a sw on staff.


No, the consulate does not have a sw on staff.
No, there is not an English-speaking sw in the city.
No, I cannot contact my sw who is on vacation. I told her we didn't need her to do the ppr because that's what you told me.
No, I cannot get a visa in time to fly in another sw.
No, this cannot be done. It just cannot.

And WHY did the agency do against what they'd already told me and call my sw asking her to do a US ppr instead of what they told me that "Russia" told them already?

I take my ppr obligation seriously. I'm happy to do them. But, I cannot make this magically happen in under three weeks. (Note to those not involved in Russian adoptions: If an agency is lacking any ppr's their permit to work in Russia can be suspended or revoked. AND, not doing my ppr's on time jeopardizes my chances of adopting from Russia in the future.)

That's why I asked about it on 7 December.

No clue what's happening now. I told the agency all that I've told you. I can't make it happen. Maybe we can fly to Germany this weekend and meet with sw 2.5 or fly home and start over with a new sw? How is that even possible? How much would that even cost?

Forwarded the e-mail from the agency saying that the Russian sw would be used back to the agency sw.

Not happy. This is just one. more. thing.

02 March 2010

purple-shoe excitement

From our trip...

New purple sparkle shoes = joyful singing and dancing

(This is my favorite shirt right now.)

01 March 2010

well, why not?

"lion" photos removed