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.