29 April 2010

33 and counting

33 more school days.

Chicken pox has broken out in kindergarten. Although I'm told that Lexi has had them, I'm still hoping she comes down with a mild case.

Yes--horrible mother here. But it's a bonding opportunity. Okay, okay. We could both use another week off about now.

And I did say MILD.

She has no recollection of having chicken pox. How could you have chicken pox and not remember? I guess it could just be all blocked out.

She has no chicken pox scars. I wonder how it's possible to have chicken pox in the orphanage and not have any scars. How would they keep you from scratching? And then, I don't really want to know the answer to that.

There is no Aveeno oatmeal bath here. So maybe even a mild case is too much.

Only 33 more school days...

24 April 2010

seven months

Just a quickie:

height: 115 cm
(She grew a centimeter last month. Again.)

weight: 42.5 lbs., 19.3 kg

20 April 2010


Here is your laugh for the day:

*video removed*

Well, it makes me laugh every time I watch this. I tried to catch her when she was teaching a music class, but that wasn't happening. I love her initial sparkly enjoyment, her gentle "rocking out", her dismay when things went wrong, being told to listen to the twang...and her quite obvious frustration that her abc song was crazier than expected.

(Can you believe she needs her hair cut again?)

18 April 2010

our truth

Pretend it's 15 April.

I don't need to extend the tax deadline. I need to post about our adoption as part of JCICS's campaign to show the quietly successful side of adoption that often gets overlooked in the media. And, on 15 April I'd just arrived home. I could've slapped a post together, but this seemed too important to treat it in a slapdash way.

I adopted Lexi, who is a year younger than Artyem Saviliev, the boy we've all be reading about incredulously, six-and-a-half months ago. Both children were adopted from Russia in September 2009.

I don't know what sort of information Torry Hansen was given, but I was given very little--and much of that was conflicting. And yet, I stood before a judge and promised, vowed, to love and cherish this little girl, to do everything in my power to make sure she grew and was loved and happy. You'll remember that it was not a decision I took lightly. But, I knew that no matter happened, no matter what we were called to face together, she was my daughter. She was mine and I was hers.

We have been extremely blessed. Our adjustment has been so much easier than I thought it would be. She didn't show the physical aggression that I expected. She didn't rage. She didn't test. Aside from some sleep issues and feeling the need to clean her plate...and other little things that are normal for pi children, we really didn't have any issues to deal with. Maybe that's the key--I knew what was normal for a pi child.

I don't know what Torry Hansen did while she was waiting, but I spent that time getting ready. I wasn't just buying darling clothes and picking out bed linens. (Yes, I did that, too--but it didn't take long.) I read. I read everything I could on post-institutionalized children, children with histories of trauma and neglect, children with FAS, children who were home from Russia for mere days, for months, for years. I became a part of the amazing online community of international adopters. I talked to other parents who had and were adopting internationally. I educated myself. I made plans and alternate plans. I was prepared for the worst, and truly got the very best.
I love my daughter fiercely.

Really, there is no one I'd rather spend my time with. Seeing the world open in front of her is enchanting. It doesn't have to be trips to other countries that delight her. She's more amazed at the process of dying Easter eggs or the laundry becoming clean. She loves the smell of clean sheets and cheers when I get a stain out of her clothes. She is funny and entertaining. Watching her dance fills me with joy. Seeing what a little PERSON she is, watching her preferences and opinions emerge, just fills me up.

Older child adoption, says my friend Becky, is more like a marriage than giving birth. (Not having done either, I'll rely on her wisdom. ;> ) You choose each other. You are both people with pasts--and baggage--and you must find a way to fit all that baggage in one closet. Zip suitcases inside one another and take them out when you need to get to them. Choose to get rid of some of your baggage to make room for hers. (Asking her to get rid of hers so you can keep yours is not only unrealistic, it's selfish.) Or, get a bigger closet.

A high school student was taking pictures for the yearbook of the audience at the school play about a week ago. He wanted a picture of Lexi and I. So, I stood there talking to her, waiting for him to get his "candid" shot. His comment (as she shared her cookie with me) was, "You look like a newlywed couple." "Well," I told him, Becky's post rattling around in my head, "that's essentially what we are."

We are two people who have been brought together to make a family.

Being an American who lives in Russia, I am extremely aware of the picture Lexi and I present. I know that we are being watched and measured. We are closely observed and our interactions, our behavior, and Lexi's behavior, is noted and commented upon. It's a little unnerving, being the posterfamily for international adoption over here. I feel a little like a lab rat sometimes. But, I can't imagine a better ambassador for older-child adoption than my little girl. Her courage astounds me. And her sunny disposition, her zest for life, and those dimples charm everyone around her. I know that people who see us NOW think that I "got one of the good ones". If they could have heard the things that were said of her before, how little was thought of her chances for success, I don't know how they'd fit that information into their worldview, how they'd reconcile it with the delightful child that she is. They would want to dismiss is as untrue or a mistake. And yet, they wouldn't want to admit that there could be a mistake in their system.

But there clearly was a mistake, as her success exemplifies.

The truth is, she is simply amazing. She is tenderhearted, kind, gentle, sparkly, creative and just. She tries her best at everything every single day. I am so grateful to be her mother and am looking forward to every day of our lives together. That's the truth of adoption as we live it.

Last week in Vienna.

16 April 2010

'ja miss us?

eta: photos removed

We were running around the Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Vienna...

...and visiting the animals there.

We were jumping on trampolines at Trampolino in Bratislava,

visiting a spa full of warm mineral pools (no bathing suit pix of either of us--shocker), and exploring the nearby city centre as we searched for ice cream in a little village in Hungary. I don't think I ever knew what it was named.

And we still had time for playing with friends, face-painting...

...and shopping...
before heading home.
The pink acoustic guitar was going to be carried on by me and presented on her birthday (it was her most frequent request after cake) but she discovered it early. So, it's already filling our flat with music. (Term used loosely.)

Big thanks to our friends in Bratislava for playing host, driver, tour guide and chef! We had a great trip.

11 April 2010


Can you believe Dior still hasn't called us?

I'm wondering if we should give Old Navy a heads up instead...
*photos deleted*

I need to watermark my photos with, "This is my gorgeous daughter--hands off!" or something.

(Rach, the boots are still a little big, but this new-to-us Elephant and Piggie book has a cowboy...so we had to pull them out! Noticing the heel on them, which my boots have and her other boots do not, she told me, "Oh, I wanted click-clack boots!")

09 April 2010

summer hosting?

Anyone have an in with a hosting program?

The hosting program said they will not accept the girls because they are in the Leningrad Region and not in St. Petersburg city.

This roller coaster ride is feeling vaguely familiar.

Trixie Belden

I found the sisters!

Okay, *I* didn't actually find them. But I found the phone number for the lovely woman who is an assistant director at their former orphanage. (Remember that all my visits are not technically allowed...so it's trickier than it sounds to manage this.) My friend called her a couple of times and was able to find out (strictly off the record) where they are, the name of the director there, and get a phone number!

I also found out that their wonderful former caretaker is still calling them. That eases my heart the tiniest bit.

It's good to have friends.

Another friend in the US has joined my crusade to find these girls a family and is doing everything she can to advocate for them. We are hoping they can be a part of a hosting program this summer.

Oh, I hope.

Two down, one to go.

08 April 2010

need experienced shepherd

I would make a very poor shepherd. I'm much more like Bo Peep when it comes to keeping "my" lambs together.

I still haven't found Kristina's family.

My two dearest girls from 3.10 have been moved to a new orphanage. I don't know where they are.

The thing is, the advice Bo Peep is given is rubbish. I can't just leave them alone to come home. I'm going out searching.

Anyone got a torch?

05 April 2010

things YOU probably know

Food coloring works brilliantly for dying eggs.

We started out using the Russian P@z-equivalent of egg dying tablets. And our eggs turned out like this:

Now, don't go all Sting on me, but I wasn't sure this was the safest of egg dyes. (One box we bought was actual paint. That made me skeptical, too.) And we had some cracked-while-boiling eggs to color. So I pitched that dye, reached for my imported-by-me food coloring...and it even said on the box that it could be used to dye eggs. Who knew? Oh, yeah--you probably did. I didn't. I followed the directions and the eggs came out like this:

(Crafty friends may be interested in these eggs I bought at Ashan. They'd make a nice Easter tree decoration alternated with blown and painted eggs, I think. But, only thought.)
You can make confectioner's sugar in a blender.

We made a carrot cake on Saturday (we did so. much. on Saturday--grocery shopped, colored eggs, made the cake, gave Lexi a haircut, sewed a skirt without a pattern...) and it really needed cream cheese frosting. Because, really, isn't frosting the point of cake?

I couldn't find a recipe online that didn't use confectioner's or powdered sugar. I do have a box of powdered sugar...but Lexi's birthday is written on that. So, ignoring all the online "wisdom" about it not working to powder your sugar in a blender...I put some sugar in the blender. It worked quite well!

WE enjoyed our carrot cake. And frosting. (So maybe the lesson here is that Lexi and I have lower standards for sugar powdering than the internets. Or maybe we just like frosting more.)

Our Easter was nice. The bunny came and left a basket with a new nightgown, bubbles, a baby chicken in a see-through egg, a chicken that had some chocolate eggs in them, and two egg-sized hollow chocolate eggs that had rings inside them! (Yeah, no pix of them, either.) I should have trusted that was plenty, but I added a stuffed lamb, too. There is not a stuffed bunny to be found anywhere!

We found all our eggs in the living room, enjoyed church (Lexi scored two Cadbury eggs--and has forgotten about them...), and had a slow, lazy day at home. We made cream cheese frosting, ate curried chicken and broccoli (used one of my last cans of cream of chicken soup for that...so it's more "special" than it might sound to those of you who have that readily available!), and just relaxed.

Hope you had a happy, peaceful Easter, too.

04 April 2010

Happy Easter!

photo removed