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.