01 July 2011

the girl who cried "end"

And that's where from-russia ends.

I've been encouraged by friends and people I've never met to keep this now-finished blog up. If it really does serve as a resource and an encouragement to others, and you've been very kind to say that it does, then I am delighted to have that outreach.

Now that we're back home in the US, life is not as full of interesting daily challenges. I don't have as much witty blogger-fodder. And, I do want to afford Lexi some privacy.

So, although I carefully chose the blog address from-russia to be able to mean both writings from me while I was in Russia and Now we're home from Russia, I think I'll allow it to just mean the former.

Please feel free to e-mail me at onlyk8 at yahoo dot com if you have questions about older child adoption, living as an ex-pat in Russia...or most anything.

Thank you all for reading.

21 June 2011

home soil

We're here--all of us!

It's 2:20 a.m. in our new time zone and we're supposed to be sleeping, but I wanted to thank you all and let you know that our path was indeed made VERY straight.

The only headache was new security measures in the US. ;>

16 June 2011


Our shipment is packed! 97 items are headed for the US.

Among those is my power convertor, so I'm without a computer until we're home.

Four more days...

12 June 2011

a nice weekend

Had a lovely party this afternoon for my twins--Ksusha and Misha. It was a big 'do with all the families invited.

It had me crying in the taxi on the way home, just sad to be leaving so many friends--and so many people who have watched Lexi come home and take a vested interest in her. I had comments today about how far she's come. It's nice to have people to share that with, people who see and know.

And, I really like the twins' parents. Even my principal thanked me (of course, he's just scared that I'll lose it again) for how far they've come this year. The parents feel a part of the community and Misha and Ksusha have come SO FAR. I'm really proud of them.

Had a nice BBQ yesterday, too. I even got hugs from the German parents--and that's no mean feat.

It's nice to have SO MANY happy parents. I've had one disgruntled (this year--and she wasn't at the birthday party) in six years. Most have left not just complacent, but fondly and singing my praises. That's pretty stellar if you ask me.

I'm a little weepy. There aren't a lot of things I'll miss about Russia, but there are lots of people that I will.

too much pretty

Yesterday was our school's end-of-year BBQ. Afterward we were walking home with one of Lexi's friends. Isabel told me, thinking about a woman we just saw,

You don't want to put on too much pretty 'cause then--wowsers.
I asked what "pretty" was and she told me, "You know--make-up, necklaces, bright and shiny clothes, high heels..."

Ah, the lessons learned by an ex-pat child in Russia.

11 June 2011


to tuesday. ;>

10 June 2011


remember when i said that much like living in russia, leaving russia wasn't going to be easy?

the packers have our pack-out date written down a week later. on june 20. when we're flying to the U.S.

they are very cross, blaming me--as is customary when you're caught in a mistake here, and not optimistic about a change.

it will be changed. it must be changed.

just another goblin.

Lexi's America

"In America the grocery stores have LOTS of syrup."

"In America there are biiiig libraries with lots of books in. English. And we can buy the books and take them home and bring them back when we are finished."

"In America we can play outside and you will help me to climb up a tree."

"In America will be just Lexi and Mama."

09 June 2011


brief update (will fix the lists later...)

taking tomorrow off. we are given "up to two" days to pack out. there is a strong, sadistic no-days-off mentality at our school. but, i decided they were mine and i was going to take them. both. one to sort (tomorrow--since the picnic is saturday and our class party is sunday) and monday to actually supervise movers.

well, am taking tomorrow MOSTLY off. two students are leaving early and tomorrow is their last day. so, we're walking in around 1:30 to say goodbye. and then will pack up the final bits to be taken home in principal's car. managed most (books. are. heavy.) by myself but still have some odds and ends.

dvd player appears to be broken. this good because it means lexi isn't watching tv (she doesn't yet know the computer will do that) and also because it broke BEFORE we packed it and brought it home. it's inconvenient because a little distraction would be a good thing, and because it's a universal dvd player. only about half of our dvd's are US region.

car has completed step one of the deregistration process. people are so glad it's going that they're actually helping. i feel a little sorry for car as it's not really its fault that it's old and needing to not live in russia where the way they treat the roads corrodes its underbelly. am a little concerned for its life in armenia. hoping it goes to a nice family...and not a psychotic mafioso or something.

passport is at consulate. it has been confirmed that i do, indeed, need to de-register.

vet has been twice. once, we paid a reasonable amount for vaccinations. the second time we paid part of an UNreasonable amount (i didn't have enough cash on hand) for mia's microchip. we still have many interactions to come.

official delta cat carriers arrived!

tentative appointment with local charity made for donation pick-up.

really just going to make sure we have our passports and whatever will fit in three suitcases and the cats. think i can finagle my way on to the plane with both. still hoping and praying. may even ask for help transferring in the worst airport on earth paris.

thanks for your prayers. leaving the apartment around 4 a.m. on 20 june 2011.

05 June 2011

survival mode

You know that place, international AP's, where nothing really matters except getting home? You are surviving on caffeine, letting your child watch tv, throwing money around like it was confetti at a ticker-tape parade...and you just don't care. That's close to where we are now.

$200 for a pet ticket? Sure. For each cat? No problem. Maybe we'll have to pay for three to appease Air France? Great idea. No food in the house? Eat out.

I'm fighting hard to remember, in the midst of surviving, despite the drama and the boxes and the lists, to keep things simple and calm, to snuggle up and watch the dvd with her when she's allowed too much tv, but I get so antsy! Thirty minutes into American Tail and I'm up and emptying the drier, sorting through books... I am making a conscious effort to just slow down while she's awake and be as calm and as centered as possible.

A calm-and-centered Kate is made much more difficult by the unpleasantness at school, but I'm trying.

BIG week at school, the car begins its deregistration process tomorrow (I think), the vet is coming tomorrow for his second visit (had their vaccinations and now Mia needs to be microchipped), Saturday is the school bar-be-que, Sunday is a big second grade party, and the packers come next Monday.

After Monday I may only have internet access from school, so don't be surprised if we go radio silent.

Two more weeks. I can do anything for two weeks. Right?

02 June 2011

new picture

That picture? I took it on the way to Cyprus. The plane icon is pretty close to Lexi's old orphanage (the orphanage was across the river, closer to Tula) and heading west. It seems fitting!

I *loved* the one of us in the snow together. But, I just discovered that it didn't all fit on my school monitor. Let me know if this one is too big.

bamboozled, the necklace

I was in an modern-day comedia called Bamboozled! once. When the director was trying to explain what that word meant to a group of high school students, he told them that it basically meant (note: some of you won't appreciate the language...fair warning...) screwed.

We took the show to regionals, but were a little too modern for the judges. They completely didn't get us.

And the director made us all little necklaces with a screw on them to commemorate the show.

Since then, when I've been not-cast in a part that I KNEW I should have I've worn the necklace as a silent protest. And, in our little theatre world, the people who knew me best knew, too, and smiled.

I wore my necklace today, even though no one here knew what it meant. And when the sorority princess asked about it, I told her it was because we were studying simple machines.

And I felt better.

01 June 2011

before bed last night

"Punching goblins," replied Sprockett soothingly, "while offering short-term relief, has no long-term beneficial value."

One of Our Thursdays is Missing, Jasper Fforde

I laughed when I read that last night. And laughing is good.

29 May 2011


Maybe if I write it down I can stop trying to hold onto it in my head and it will all see easier. And, since you asked, in the next three weeks (We leave Monday, June 20)...

I need to:

  1. make second grade movie
  2. sort everything for packing--what stays, what goes in boxes, what goes in suitcases--and make it easy for the Russian-speaking-only packers to pack it by moving things to different rooms
  3. do a "dry run" to see what will fit in how many suitcases--aiming for three large and Lexi's wheelie bag (I don't know how I'll manage all this at the airport.)
    • mac mini
    • dvd player (universal)
    • monitor?
    • keyboard/mouse
    • Mouse, Medved, George, George's clothes
    • a FEW beloved books, preferably paperback
    • a FEW comfort dvd's
    • the green throw that is both a princess dress and her swaddling when she's a baby
    • towels x 4
    • sheets x 2
    • duvet cover for Lexi?
    • clothes
    • bike helmet
  4. pack up personal things in classroom
  5. get things home
  6. deregister car--no idea how
  7. sell car--have buyer but don't know how
  8. deregister self--cancel visa, turn in consulate badge and diplomatic card
  9. schedule last visit with Russian sw (and Galina)
  10. vet visits this week, three days before and 24 hours before
  11. bathe Beazy before vet visits
  12. hope carriers come
  13. try to find Delta approved carriers in the city in case they don't come...at a pet store near a metro stop as car will be sold
  14. school bbq
  15. class party(ies) for grade 2 (and maybe Lexi's for grade 1...but leaning towards no on that one)
  16. end of year testing--dra, math, cumulative spelling
  17. continue medieval unit--make castles, living history museum, batering
  18. report cards
  19. sports day
  20. research French in-transit animal requirements
  21. get pillowcase for Noor, who is leaving this year, and have Sofia and Carlotta sign it before they leave early
  22. ask Marina to call Meridian to schedule pick-up and Alina Nikolaievna to say good-bye since I won't make it out there before they move all the kids
  23. not feel guilty about that
  24. fill out all sorts of ridiculous forms detailing everything I've bought either here or in the US and brought here in the last six years that is being shipped home
  25. supervise packers
  26. organize gifts--and who would use American children's meds, games, and baking ingredients
  27. sell my electronics to remaining and incoming staff members
  28. wash everything going in boxes
  29. bake banana bread with the bananas in the freezer
  30. normal cooking, washing, cleaning (quit having the cleaner two weeks ago), homework, playing, bathing, etc.

get in the US within a week (hopefully sooner) of our arrival:
  • car--I want a gently used CRV
  • internet access
  • couch
  • beds
  • table & chairs
  • car seat until ours comes
  • monitor (if I don't bring mine)
  • library cards
  • pool membership
  • bikes
  • swing?
  • television?
  • find out about Jenn's Blue Cross insurance plan

31. **keep life as normal as possible for a sensitive little girl who is feeling the stress despite my best efforts and who seems to be at the start of (exhausting) anniversary regressions on top of everything else and needs extra reassurances and Momma-time**

32. breathe
33. sleep
34. call Aetna AGAIN about where the reimbursement check is

I did:
  1. roast a chicken today only to find, when I was cutting off a leg for Lexi, a bizarre, large... blood capsule in the joint which exploded, rendering the chicken, in my opinion, inedible
  2. throw away the chicken
  3. wash our linens for packing
  4. put school linens on bed
    I thought that I would want our things out and about for Lexi for as long as possible, so I scheduled our packers for a week before we left. Then, yesterday, I decided that might be too big of a shock. So, I started transitioning a few things--including bed linens. We've been weeding out toys for a while--but not giving them away. There is just a big pile of things "for the orphanage" (actually going to a group who helps families in need because they will pick it up) but she can still see it all. And, she can retrieve a toy if it's more beloved than I thought--like her Elephant and Piggie stuffed animals that she never plays with
  5. pack away winter clothes for us both in a trunk (it's still chilly here)
  6. call the vet & scheduled appointments for rabies shots and Mia's microchipping (he'll come to our house)
  7. order official Delta approved carriers
  8. our last grocery shop
  9. take pictures of lamps, digital clocks, humidifiers, (fans are spoken for)
  10. asked Marina to call the vet to figure out how to bribe our way onto the Air France flight (there is a precedent, but that flight left from Moscow)
  11. find out Cobra for our insurance is a ridiculous $2000 pcm
  12. put back up the apartment's curtains in Lexi's room
  13. (well, my friend Kerry did for me) got water and electricity put in my name
  14. give Lexi a haircut
  15. schedule a haircut for myself

I gave up (as in released myself of the obligation to do, not as in quit):
  • I was going to have a professional photographer take pictures of us out and about in the city...but there's just no time. I may be able to have a friend take some. But, it may just not happen.

26 May 2011


Air France (SPB to Paris) has the weight limit.

On Delta (Paris to Cinci) a cat just has to fit comfortably under the seat. she will. so...will that help? possibly.

Please will you pray our sweet kitty, Beazy onto the plane and into the cabin with us? I know it's silly, but we'll all feel so much better if we're sitting together.

eta: AF website looks very inflexible. While we are booked as a cabin pet, I am afraid they won't let us on. (I told the booking agent how much she weighed, but the agent still booked us. Will they weigh her?)

I guess she could be "cargo" on the AF flight and then we could take her on board the Delta flight...but I'm not mad keen on that idea. I'm not keen on that idea AT ALL.

I feel like an idiot for making my reservation after doing research...but didn't do enough research to find out until we booked that it is an AF flight and not a Delta flight AND that their requirements were so vastly different. Everything, of course, is non-refundable.


i was going to title this "tick" (which just goes to show how briticized my language has become) but decided that was inappropriate in a post about the cats.

the cats have reservations on our returning flights, made today. they will fly in the cabin with us. their tickets cost $200 each.

they each have to weigh less than 13 pounds. i'm skeptical. (as well i should have been. beazy weighs about 20 pounds. now what? i'm sure she weighed 18 pounds on the way here...or it was an 18 pound limit. i could get her down to that, i think. do i just bluff? oi.)

flying in the cabin means lexi and i only get a backpack each. i think i'm going to try to have lexi bring her little wheelie suitcase instead of a backpack...so that cherished comfort items are sure to arrive.

of course, i have only 90 minutes to change flights in paris (the WORST airport in the world--ask anyone) with a seven eight year old, her wheelie suitcase, my backpack containing important electronics like my mac mini and my camera and two cats...who weigh 30 lbs. combined.

the stress of cat-flight decisions has lifted.

only to be replaced with can-we-get-beazy-on-the-plane?, get-vet-health-certificates and actual-flights-with-cats stresses.

24 May 2011


So, I had my good news/bad news ALL wrong.

The camera...

was actually at school. Odd, since the shopkeeper clearly remembered it...I think angels retrieved it and flew it there. Or I have early-onset Alzheimer's. (I shouldn't joke. That's actually a lingering niggling fear...)

The car, the car...

had a flat tire. You may remember that the last time I had a flat tire (also the first and only time I've had a flat tire) when it was towed I told them that I was only here x more weeks so I didn't want a new spare.

"That nice man in the orange car" came and, with the help of my friend on the other end of the phone, we had a lengthy conversation about what to do. He thought it might be too big to patch. But, he would either take it to a tire shop and see if it could be mended and then return and put it on for us *or* we could go along. It sounded long and tedious (he predicted four hours) so I opted to let him do it on his own. This is not as crazy as it might sound.

He, after talking with my friend at length hung up, told me he'd be back in a minute, and drove away. Without the tire. ???

He came back and told me to open the car. I did. I figured he'd be driving my car (he'd patched the tire already) to get it fixed. Odd, but whatever. I opened it and tried to give him the key. He told me to get in and drive, asked if I wanted him to drive, and told me again to drive.

I conveyed (apt description) that Marina said he would take the tire and take care of this. Ha, ha, ha...no. I should drive.

So I put Lexi in (she was not happy to be in the car with a stranger) and got in to drive.

It was half a block away, inside a courtyard.

Seriously. There's been a mechanic that close all this time. They patched the tire while we ate dinner at home. After dinner we walked back and picked the car up. Then, we drove the half-block home.

The next day we drove to school.

And, on the way home, it went flat again.

The mechanic doesn't have a used tire. (That was a whole 'nother series of phone calls, looking at the car, walking back and forth to and from the shop and finally finding out that he didn't have the tire he said he had. But, how much color can you take in one post? How much "color" can I take in 24 hours?) I don't want to pay $300 for a new tire. I think there is a spare at school. Or the consulate might have one.

Or the Armenian might have to pay $301 instead of $1 for the car. I wonder if he would...

These are the lengths I go to just to be able to get to the grocery store one more time and buy pet carriers. As I told my principal, Russia is going to make me fight every day right up until the end.

13 May 2011


I am giving blogger the cold shoulder as it lost all our birthday postings!

Okay, but two things:

good news-someone from the Armenian Consulate is going to buy my car for $1. This means I save the 2000 euros it would cost to have it towed to Finland and destroyed.

bad news-my camera is lost/stolen. It's a combination. I put it down while getting a friend some rubles. The shopkeeper says he left with it. He says he didn't. So, either the shopkeeper (a new girl) has it or some other guy who looks enough like my friend to be mistaken for him has it. And all the pictures on it since our trip. Expensive and painful. And a little scary to have pictures of Lexi in someone else's hands.

Birthday party tomorrow. Cold, disgruntled shoulder turned on blogger.

11 May 2011

birthday eve

Presents are wrapped.

"Chocolate Ball" cereal (normally reserved for vacations), a dress for George that matches Lexi's Easter dress and a LUSH bath fizz are waiting on the table to be unwrapped before school. (I figure George can go to school tomorrow in her new finery if Lexi wants. She, George, can always hang out in second grade during the day.)

After school (and we won't mention there are more gifts after school until it is after school...though she may remember that from last year...) there is a cowgirl outfit for Molly (who has yet to be played with, though we're glad she's here) and inline skates!

Cupcakes for her classmates are made but not and frosted. But, that can be done in the morning. The frosting is made.

Birthday is well in hand. EIGHT tomorrow. Unbelievable.


I said to Lexi a couple weeks ago, when we were talking about her birthday coming soon,
"Do you remember, Lexi? On your birthday you will get a present."
Her eyes lit up.
"What do you think you might like for a present?"

After some thought she replied, "Maybe some chocolate. That would be a nice present."

That is my sweet, sweet, precious girl.

09 May 2011

remember that rock?

I didn't know it was Mother's Day in the US.

Happy Mother's Day!

It's Victory Day today. I am celebrating the victory over INTERNETLESSNESS. (That is a very big rock, too. My internet is not only my e-mail, but it's communication--skype and blogging--and television, too. It's birthday cake recipes, lists of the average number of teeth lost by age eight, songs via jango, banking, car searching, travel agent, doctor's appointments to make and summer recreation schedules. It's a lot to be without.)

More soon. Scads to catch up on after the latest expulsion from the virtual world.

Tad bit stressed. Just a smidge. You know, verging on panic attacks, but, no matter.

01 May 2011

the eyes have it

eta: a more determined search led to the lost glasses! Amazing what a little fear will do. ;> But, will leave this up just for those of you interested. Medical saga is right up there in popularity with car saga here on the blog.

Lexi lost her glasses.

We went to the ophthalmologist (no optometrists here). He examined her. And then told us that to accurately prescribe new glasses she has to have atropin drops for 3 days prior to the exam. While on the drops her pupils will be dilated, she will not be able to read, write or draw and she will be very sensitive to sunlight. Extremely sensitive.

Uncomfortable with this, I contacted the eye doctor we saw in the US. He said he does use drops prior to some exams but not Atropin and never for that long. He mentioned all the side effects. And, he said Atropin will stay in her system for a week following treatment.

Wikipedia concurs.

Another "Western" clinic (are you getting the feeling that these Westerns clinics aren't very Western? Yeah.) said they could do the exam but she'd need drops for a week prior. They are different drops and only dilate the pupils while she's asleep. (??) Of course, they have to see her first. We can't just start the drops.

Lexi is farsighted, has developmentally young eyes, and an astigmatism. It's the astigmatism that is causing all this furor.

Anybody know anything?

29 April 2011

i live under a rock

i found out yesterday that prince william was getting married to kate somebody.

27 April 2011


We got it!

My friend Kerry can't say enough good things about it. It's an old farmhouse in a safe, quiet village. It's four doors down from a large park and next to a soccer field. There are trees and deer. And hardwood floors and big windows. And an address for the movers.

I am so blessed to have such good friends around the country looking for a home for us. Thank you, Jen. Thank you, Kerry. Thank you, Juls.

eta pix: (in case you never clicked on the earlier link)

21 April 2011


Showing my age and not hers,
Lexi has been known to describe things
as "way silly".

Last night she read me
the book Olivia Reforms a Band.
(I love it.)

[Still no word from the Glendale house. Have e-mailed three times.
Two other possibilities in Glendale and Wyoming (for the Cinci-literate). Nothing in Fairfield.]

20 April 2011

a house to pray for!

The owner has been contacted...

(There's a possibility in
Ames, but no details.)

19 April 2011

maybe france?

This was on yahoo today:
Languedoc-Roussillon, France. If you're willing to look beyond Paris, (note from kate: I most certainly am) the southwest of this country can be highly affordable. Cessenon-sur-Orb, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southwestern France, is colorful, eclectic, and very open to retirees. (nfk: close enough) The village dates from prehistoric times, but the feel is medieval, with the church dominating the center and the tower of Le Donjon looking down from above. (nkf: sounds good)

Here in this quintessentially (nfk: "quintessential" is always a good thing)French country corner, you'll find many expats of several nationalities. They've sought out this unsung region because it offers everything you need for a comfortable life, yet boasts a small, charming, typically French village atmosphere, with centuries of history and lots to do and see. As a result, this town is growing and attracting both more French people and expats. Perhaps the most appealing part is that the cost of renting in this picture-postcard corner of France can be modest, certainly relative to Continental Europe in general. A monthly rental of 400 to 600 euro is realistic.

Here's one.

And another.

And another that is not really kateish. But it's tres affordable.

And I haven't even started looking here...or anywhere else. Yet.

Lexi has mentioned that we should live in France with Kristina and Zoe (her two-time at-shool babysitter that we both think is fabulous who is moving to Paris this summer).

Wondering about visa requirements...

18 April 2011

wait a minute.

another teacher who is returning to the US in june went home last week.
and did some househunting.
and bought a house.
as easy as that.

of course, while she is unemployed as of august 1, she has an employed husband.


16 April 2011

jobs. a conversation.

Lexi, do you want to help me pick out a card to send for the new baby?

No. My job is to play.

You're right. That is your job. But you're not doing it. You're sitting on the couch.

And your job is to be in the kitchen.

Really? Doing what?

Making food while I play.

And what food should I make?

Chicken nuggets and...I just can't remember.

(But it did get her up and off the couch. And I went to make supper. I'm not telling if it was nuggety or not.)

still looking...

We're back!

Trip details soon. And pictures. (It was sunny and windy. We had a great time and Lexi didn't want to come back to Russia.)

For now, I'm house-hunting.

It's sort of hard to do from here.

Have had a rental home in AZ offered to us...not my first choice of locations, but it is a house...

08 April 2011

vitamin d, here we come!

Be back Friday!

Here's our find of a hotel. I hope it's great! Or, at least clean and safe...

(If you find a house for me that is perfectly kateish and sound that is under 35 K, please buy it and I will pay you back.

If you find something perfectly kateish to rent that is under $800 pcm, go ahead and sign the lease.

If you're not sure that something is perfectly kateish, just keep a list for us.


07 April 2011

a tip

If you don't have any Trader Joe's Peaunt Butter Filled Pretzels

a bag of pretzel sticks and a jar of ALGOOD peanut butter will do...as long as the need is great and the milk is cold.

04 April 2011

anybody know anything

about buying houses that are in foreclosure?

We found one online that was built in 1900 and costs...

$30, 000.

Yep. That's all.

It needs paint and carpet-ripping-out. It probably needs more.

But that's the cost of the entire house. Not the downpayment. THE HOUSE.

Friend is doing drive-by's. Suspect friend may be dressing up as foreclosure agent and going undercover. In her maxivan. ;> (Don't forget to slap some magnetic signs on the side before you head out.)

03 April 2011

a kind word

Lexi is in an esl reading group with two other little girls. Her teacher recently told me that of the three, Lexi is the only one who can define words. She has the strongest vocabulary of the three. And, she can figure out the meanings of new words.

That was nice to hear.

02 April 2011

bits of nothing

Well, let's see...

We have one more week of school until spring break. And, this year, except for October when we went to France, a holiday means...getting sick. Yep. Just a cold. Hopefully it will be on the wane by this time next week.

Another thing to add to your harder-being-single list is...delousing. How am I supposed to do this by myself? Sigh. I think I've been successful...but...I guess we won't know for a couple of weeks. I found a couple of what-might-be-eggs but they were much bigger and plumper than I thought they'd be...so maybe I have fleas, too? Shudder. Laugh! Not serious about the fleas. And I found ONE lousy louse. It's only a maybe-louse because it's so, so small. Those giant eggs did not come from this little speck. Unless they grew tremendously after being laid...

This just creeps me out. Moving on.

I've been in touch with a "searcher", someone who will find Lexi's birthfamily and pass on a letter in the hopes of filling in some gaps in her history. BUT it turns out I have the only parental rights termination document in all of Russia that does not contain an address. I don't have anything with an address. I only have a city...and it's a big one. He told me yesterday that he won't be able to help us.

While going through all those documents, I decided to put all the disparate bits of information from different sources together in a timeline for Lexi. And looking at the information I do have would make anyone weep. How this little spark survived and still is able to "attach" is nothing short of a miracle. She should be a movie of the week. (Do they still have movies of the week? I don't think so.)

Private blogging. Hmmm...it has kept us more, well, private. But, it's kept us WAY more private than I thought. I had no idea so many people relied on feedreaders to read blogs. Now that we're private people check in wayyyy less often. I know that's my fault--if I posted every day people would check more often. Not sure that to do about this...

Lexi got a camera from a friend for her birthday last year. I think I'll put the year's worth of photos into a slide show for her--and maybe someday a photo book. They're...interesting with moments of genius.

EIGHT is creeping up on us. Not sure what to do about the party. Usually she tells me all her friends will come to our house to eat cake and have a party. (Sound like last year?) Yesterday she told me only the boys would come. ;> Last year it was only the girls, so I guess that's fair. And, the two parties she's been invited to this year were both boys' parties... I'm a "whole class" kind of inviter for this age. And it will be a goodbye party of sorts. So...we'll see. I was thinking bowling, but maybe they're all coming here again.

a good thing

about our upcoming holiday? Even though we're in an apartment that has a mini-kitchen (and that's a good thing, too),

breakfast and dinner are both included. Included! As in, I don't have to cook or balance meals. For almost a week.

That's good.

27 March 2011

"summer time"?

It's still snowing.

Still. This time there is no hesitation in my choice of words. So it's been an odd day. Lexi is in a sweater dress and cardigan. But, she spent a long time today trying on summer clothes (Just like in a shop! Just like Ken in Toy Story 3!) in anticipation for our trip to Cyprus.

Yes, Cyprus won. And, looking at the weather forecast, I'm sooooo glad! Now I'm just hoping Lindsay gets her bank card sorted in time to join us.

In case you're wondering, Lexi has plenty of summer clothes. Drat. No need to shop.

Well...except for sandals. We went looking yesterday and met with a very condescending man who, I think, may have been trying to be both helpful and condescending. He repeatedly told me the assistants wouldn't speak English. I repeatedly told him that was fine, I could ask for shoes in Lexi's size. He continued to tell me they wouldn't understand me and offered to translate for me. I actually burst out laughing. And then told him again I'd be fine, thank you. Do you speak Russian he asked, incredulously. Yes, enough to ask for shoes, I replied still laughing.

But they didn't have her size.

We did get new red rain boots last weekend. But, her raincoat that would mathc them doesn't fit anymore. (Aha! Forgot about that. Shopping opportunity seized!)

So today, although it's the first day of "summer time" in Russia (the clocks changed) for the last time (Medvedev has declared Russia will no longer participate in clock-changing), we're watching a steady snowfall and making split-pea soup and oatmeal gingersnaps (from Rhonda)--both foods I find decidedly un-summery.

Still...Cyprus in two weeks!

And, no, we don't have a house or city yet. But, we will. We will!

26 March 2011

spring break

We're headed to Cyprus for four-and-a-half days. I was right. Pebbly beaches hold no appeal to Lexi. And, it's turning out to be cheaper to go to Cyprus than it was to fly to Southern Russia.

Let's hope there's sun!

24 March 2011

a little smile

It was after supper. The dryer and washer were both going strong and I was changing the sheets on my bed. (Yesterday marked my first reported case of lice in my teaching career. Of course, he had it last Thursday and reported it yesterday. Nice, huh?)

I have conferences tomorrow and quite a bit of work to do before then. Lice-boy's mom is going to be a handful. There are many things to mark.

I am still "play-lagged" , for want of a better term.

It's been snowing pretty solidly for the last two days. Notice I said neither it's still snowing nor snowing again. I can't figure out how long of a pause pushes you from still to again status.

I thought we'd go to Sochi for April break, but am less and less convinced the pebble beach will count as beach. Cyprus is a possibility. I'd just like to stay home...but think we need some time away.

I really do like that house, have developed a stubborn sort of internet crush on it, but realized that it's very unlikely that any bank will give me a mortgage--even though I refer to myself as "on sabbatical" rather than "unemployed". They may not appreciate the difference.

I also heard just this afternoon that the program that would let us get Lexi's ptsd therapy free wasn't cut from the state budget.

So which one constitutes a lightning bolt? The house or the budget? I think each cancels out the other, bolt-wise, and God continues to chuckle at me. Fondly, of course, but I think He chuckles nonetheless, knowing how easy this will all look in hindsight.

So, in all, a mind brim-full and whirring.

And then, as I was changing the sheets, I sneezed. Twice.

And a little voice from all the way across the house interrupted her story and called out, "Bless you, bless you."

To which I replied, "Thank you, thank you." and received in return, "Welcome, welcome," before the storytelling resumed.

And that exchange brushed away the kaleidoscope of thoughts (that's exactly it--I'm waiting and watching for a lightning bolt, but seem to have picked up a kaleidoscope rather than the binoculars I thought I was looking through) gave me a little smile.

Just thought I'd share it with you.

23 March 2011

echoes of frances

Me, noticing Lexi sitting with a balloon I'd just blown up and a pair of scissors in hand, "Lex, what are you doing?"

Lexi, in all seriousness, "Popping balloons. That's my job."

Me, a few minutes later as my announcement that it's time to brush teeth overlaps with the sound of crashing cardboard bits, "What're you doing now?"

Lexi, figuring it elicited a giggle the first time but feigning seriousness, "Doing a puzzle. It's my job."

22 March 2011

another house for you to peruse

This one has kateish potential...found by my friend, Nif, in the corn-filled state. ;>

I am leery of buying a house in this economy. I don't think it will be as easy to sell when we want to leave again. And, if we head back overseas, I don't think we can manage a renter.

Still looking. Still praying. Still hoping.

Thanks for joining us!

20 March 2011

wanted: one lightning bolt

Please will you pray that I know,
very soon and with great certainty,
WHERE it is
that we are supposed to be living
for the next year or two?

I am sure it's in the US. I just don't know where.

And, funnily enough, the movers require a bit more specific address than just a country.


13 March 2011

hear me roar

It's 5:20.

I have:

  • taken a shower (that counts)
  • read Lexi two books while she ate breakfast
  • driven to Mega. and back.
  • shopped at Ashan (groceries, play props and a possible costume), Children's World (new rain boots for Lexi), Lush (no Angels. drat.), and the fabric store (for a brown boa)
  • taken Lexi out for her favorite lunch while at Mega--IKEA hot dogs and ice cream
  • stopped by school for glue gun and orange felt
  • ran into principal at school and chatted a bit about snarky parent strategy
  • called the snarky parent, was kind but very clear, and left her with no case--and her child gets to finish the show
  • spray painted slippers, a "goblet" and an egg gold (and glittered the egg)
  • started the wolf's hat...but ran out of hot glue sticks
  • made Lexi's chicken costume
  • done spelling homework
  • made pasta sauce, cooked chicken and potatoes, set beans to soak and put pizza for Lexi in the oven (we have to pack lunch for us both as always AND dinners for Lexi this week as we'll not be home until 6:30 at the very, very earliest)
  • watched admiringly as Lexi rode her bike in the living room, had a pretend picnic, and danced--all in her getting-too-small bikini
  • listened to her tell me 15 times that her belly is showing and it's okay that her belly is showing in her bathing suit because it is still modest
  • filled and ran both the dishwasher and washing machine
  • finished the brownies (with help)
  • found the green blanket and turned it into a princess "dress"
  • typed this up

Still on the cards:
  • make soup
  • bath/hair wash/blow for Lexi
  • dry and fold clothes
  • empty dishwasher
  • polish Lexi's toenails (I have just been informed of this.)

What we didn't do today:
  • get to church. (I know.)
  • bump in to my neighbor (oh yeah--the possibly-bullied child is a. new-ish and b. living two flights up) to find out more about the given circs

12 March 2011

not a good 24

I am weary.

Our musical opens Friday. And, suddenly, I've got a parent telling me her daughter will be leaving rehearsal early on Tuesday. I replied, very, very kindly that this was a crucial week. I explained why we needed everyone and asked (I asked--didn't tell her) if we could please have M the whole time. I'd bring her home if transportation is an issue.

In reply I got a snarky e-mail about how much children have had to give up to be in this play, that some of the fees were not refundable for these activities. And, I was told that M would be leaving early.

In my defense, let me say that it was CLEARLY spelled out before you could even audition (both child and parent had to sign the form) that you must be at every rehearsal for the last two weeks. I worked around conflicts before then, but the last two weeks I can't. Both angry mom and M signed. I give out the schedule at the first rehearsal and stick to it. I don't add rehearsals. I let students out on time. Really, I am pretty amazing at this--especially for someone with an artistic bent.

And now...I get this. Does she think her child is doing me a favor by being in the play? I've done hundreds of plays. I been in this show! This is not for me. This is for our students, for her child. And, I've dragged MY child to every rehearsal but one in order to do this. For our students. For her child.

I suspect she's mad about something else and taking it out on me. (She send another rabid e-mail to the office staff Friday to complain about the lack of advertising--which was completely untrue, so she's obviously on a tear.) But it's still rotten. And it still means I've got to make a phone call tomorrow and tell her that if M isn't at that rehearsal for the full time on Tuesday she can't be in the play. And I hate confrontation. LOATHE it. I'm awful at it.

And if she holds her ground it's going to generate baaaad feelings. And poor M will be caught in the middle.

AND a parent came to me Friday morning and told me his wife was keeping their daughter home because she'd been teased and had her hair pulled. I casually asked the second graders and the students all seemed genuinely puzzled. I called and left a message about that and asked for names. The reply was that two girls in the classroom had ripped out her ponytail and threw the bands in her face. In the classroom? Where was I? How did I not know? I feel just awful. So there's that, too. And we're going to go look for it on video. Seeing myself fail, even if it isn't in living color, isn't going to be fun.

And grades have to be on report cards by Wednesday morning. And I haven't started. Or given the math assessment to everyone yet. Or to anyone.

And I have a new student who is a very...entitled child. He is relentless in trying to find out if the line has any give in it. It doesn't, but I'm the one who drew the line and has to keep it taut. (I guess the line is a bit of a rope, then.) Fortunately my little class (I was so cheered by them until I heard about the bullying) is more shocked by his behavior than amused, so that will help it end sooner. (His mother proudly, proudly told me he was the class clown in his old school. Great. Thanks. We don't really do that here.)

Next week the show will be over, the bullying will be sorted, and the new prince will have found out that the line doesn't budge.

Oh. New student tomorrow. No English.

So. For tonight will just focus on the little chicken (she the giant's chicken in the play) in my own house. She's currently digging through the utility box while wearing a bikini and sparkly flipflops. She's just discovered some 3M hooks I got last summer and never put up. I told her when we bought them that we could use one for her backpack. Unfortunately, she remembers that. So now I've got to go and find a place to hang the hook.

Hope your weekend--and the week that preceded the end of it--is better! May there be no snarky e-mails and safety for all.

06 March 2011


the Appalachian postmaster position would come with housing. Then I could stop looking...

(Read this post if you're confused.)

01 March 2011

wanna see some houses?

I don't plan to buy. It just doesn't seem wise in this market to commit to a house in a location that I'm not mad-keen on and know I want to settle there. For a loooong time. And, I'm still trying to get excited about the Midwest. But, I can't help looking. ;>

Here are two houses that are near two good friends. The one in Cinci belongs to friends of friends and *might* be able to be rented.

Both have excellent libraries and park 'n' rec activities nearby. Both have nice backyards.

I'm not sure I can take the weather in Iowa or the bureaucracy in Ohio. But, I also think it will only be for two years...and then we'll have to dive back into the international teaching scene. It's not like we're moving somewhere forever. We just need a little tower to get us by for the next little bit of time.

This is in Fairfield, Ohio just outside Cinci. (Doesn't it look like Kerry's old house, friends-of-Kerry and Kerry Herself?)

This is just outside Ames, Iowa in Gilbert (aka the 1950's). I wonder if I have to wear heels and pearls to homeschool if I live in the 50's...

I saw some in Chattanooga (near you, B!) that are possible, too.

And so the search continues!

28 February 2011

career change?

I found my perfect job a while back. I didn't tell you because I wanted to be able to post video of it for you...but I can't find it online anywhere.

We were watching Sesame Street, Old School one day (no, it's not being on Sesame Street--that's choice number three. I've wanted to be on the Street for as long as I can remember.) and I saw it. I want to be a postman (postal carrier, postal worker, whatever) in the Appalachian Mountains.

This guy we saw on Sesame Street (who was so old I am sure it's not him anymore) rides on horseback 18 miles three times a week to deliver mail. The rest of the time, I'm guessing, he spends in a cozy little postal shop that is probably in a log cabin with a wood-burning stove...that someone provides the wood for and starts the fire each morning...and maybe is next door to a general store.

How great would that job be? I'd just get Lexi a horse and she could ride along, too.

24 February 2011

note to kate: LOOK IT UP!

We went to the doctors yesterday. I was rx'd an antibiotic and Lexi was rx'd an anti-virual medication. When I asked why our SAME illness was being treated so differently, I was told it was because of our ages. Lexi was given her med to boost her immune system. My older lungs were suspected of harboring other infections.

It didn't really make sense, but we. are. so. sick. that I accepted it and figured we try. (Hmm...the peach oil incident didn't spring to mind then but it does now.)

I started our treatments yesterday. Today, I got online and looked up what they'd given me for Lexi--and what I'd given her. (I ignored all my rx-es except the antibiotic. Russian doctors like to make recovering from an illness a full-time occupation. I don't. But, for Lexi, I took everything home they rx'd.)

She has nose drops (yuck) to clear her sinuses. Fine.

She has a medicine that I was told was for her cough. Turns out, it's actually meant to increase mucous production, thereby allowing the mucous to clear the body of infection on its own. This sounds great, all natural and wonderful...until you hear the horrible cough she already has. I think this is meant to be an expectorant. BUT, since her cough is dry and unproductive and her lungs are clear, she needs a cough suppressant and not an expectorant. So, we've gone back to Robitussin.

And then there's the one that makes me a little sick to think about. It's a suppository (okay, bad enough...but that's not why) that is an anti-virual, meant to increase her white blood cell count. But when I look it up, it's all about human recombinant interferon. When I look that up (because it sounds horrible, but what do I know?) there's not a lot of information.

And then it starts talking about invitro testing for compatibility and cloning.

I admit I read no further.

Because inside my head I'd started screaming,

We've stopped that one, needless to say.

(I calmly called the pediatrician and told her we had some problems with the suppositories and asked if we could take something different. She said it was fine to stop it. We just have to come in next week for an updated white blood cell count.)

I still can't believe I did this.

22 February 2011

little known fact

having a seven-year-old makes it very difficult to consume the recommended hours of "junk food television" one needs to properly recover from the crud. ;>

19 February 2011

war of attrition continues

We have no school next week. Hooray!

That means that last Thursday, completely out of the blue, a cough that wracked my whole body starting inside my big toe and working it's way up, blindsided me.

Friday fever.

Today Lexi is succumbing.

But...no school! Hooray!

car ps--

  • didn't start today (it's -22C...but warmer than the last few days so go fig)
  • took taxis to rehearsal (the show must go on has never seemed less true)
  • and back
  • called principal for a wrench
  • he didn't pick up
  • called Lexi's teacher (who lives around the corner)
  • who sent her husband with the wrench
  • he removed the battery
  • and it's sitting in my entryway
  • warming up
  • along with the last one they replaced
  • which was in the back of the car
  • but could have cracked if I left it there (remember? that happened.)
This was very hard to do with the whole cough/fever/fatigue thing.

I decided that having someone come and "spark" my car meant that I'd have to haul our sick carcasses out every. day. in the SUNNY cold spell (it's worth it for the sun) we're having. Bringing the batteries in means we can just. stay. home.

And that's one of my most favorite things to do.

Lexi p.s.--a dose of bubble gum fever reliever has her off the couch and doing sote-arabesque around the living room. Let's hope that's a foretaste. Of course, as I typed that, she started the gut-wrenching cough.

14 February 2011

a calmer kate

my car is sitting in the parking lot near by house--tire on and battery jumped (or "sparked" as my friend said).

oh, my DEAR friend marina! she spent all weekend (from about 10 p.m. friday on) going back and forth between the impound lot, the tire place and the police station. she wouldn't hear of us coming with her, trying to take care of everything--and of US. this when she'd been home for the last two days with fever and a swollen spot brought on by the death of her aunt--the last relative of her father who died last year.

and yet, she gave her weekend (and her husband's) to us.

i send her a million thanks. she is someone i will miss next year--not because she helps me with my car, but because she is a friend.

incidentally, i don't think i ever went to the police station in the US. i've been to three different stations (one of them twice) during my stay here--all for car-related issued. this police station was by FAR the most pleasant.

and the funny bit--when the policeman today saw my dip card, he asked marina if i was the consul general. ;>

09 February 2011

seriously? again?

newly returned car got a flat tire on the way home--so flat it's falling off the rim. which, actually, might not be a flat but something like an exploded tire.

there is no aaa (which you'd better BELIEVE i'm counting as a neccesity and not the luxury i'd categorized it while doing the acting thing).

i don't know how to change a flat. maybe i did once...

it's. still. snowing.

so we left the car and walked home.

today they....towed it. nach.

and i don't know where. nach.

seriously? come on. i've only got five more months. can't i be worry-free on the car front for five months?

having to body check everyone as we trudged home on the one-person-wide semi-cleared slush-path--because they shove my seven-year-old out of their way if i don't--made me wonder how many final straws there can be.

06 February 2011

wanted: one tower

I'm directing our school musical right now. We're doing Into the Woods. I love this show. It's just. so. clever.

And, this year I'm finding a whole new well of empathy for the witch. Always before I'd been firmly in Rapunzel's camp. "I am no longer a child. I want to see the world!"

This year, it's the witch who is striking a chord within me:

Don't you know what's out there in the woods?
Someone has to shield you from the woods.

Princes wait there in the woods, it's true.

Princes, yes, but wolves and humans, too.

Stay at home

I am home
Who out there could love you more than I?

What out there that I could not supply?
Stay with me.

Stay with me, the world is dark and wild.

Stay a child while you can be a child.

Before we go any further, let me assure you, in case there is the merest shadow of a doubt, that my child is perfect. PERFECT.

She has had some horrible cards dealt her--early neglect, life in a Russian orphanage--and those cards have left their mark. But is does not diminish her perfection in my eyes. It just causes me to marvel at the preservation of her tender heart and her willing spirit. She has a bright, inquisitive nature and a contagious joy.

Because of those early "cards", Lexi has PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder. When she is back in an institutional setting, and school is an institution, she dissociates, she regresses. Everything regresses--her coping skills, even her handwriting. School is a difficult place for Lexi to be.

And, she almost doesn't know it. She has an innocence that comes with her developmental age. She is much younger than her seven years.

And all I want to do is to protect her. To let her take her time. To let her make up for all the years she lost at her own pace--and not to rush her to "catch up" with her agemates. To just let her be who she is.

I'm afraid this post is unfinished. And, there is new brain fodder churning around that will make it take even longer to finish. So for now. I'll leave it as it is. But that, perhaps, explains a little more about our decision to come home--and stay home. I'm hoping my planned year home can stretch to two...or to forever. ;> Keep your ears open for a great stay-at-home job for me. I'm thinking about the possibility of other parents wanting me to "homeschool" their children...or the possibility of working for some homeschool co-ops. Or, even better, let me know if you've got contacts you're willing to share in the world of children's publishing.

Okay. We'll stop here.

(And, I'll let you know that we have our car back. This time it needed new "tubes" in the transmission and transmission fluid. $750. Two different friends called to check on the progress and got two different stories. One was told that is has no back brakes. The other was told that the electrical box is in danger of exploding. When she said that we weren't interested in the car lasting more than six months, they said it should be fine as long as I let the car warm up before driving it. (???) The opinion of why the back brakes are bad--I don't drive it enough. Sigh. Looking forward to a new car in the US. I'm thinking a previously-leased CRV. )

25 January 2011

be back soon

I've got a full plate. I want to be posting, but there are no quick tidbits to post. It's all tied and tangled up in one big, convoluted post. It's one of those thought mazes that your mind keeps racing round and round endlessly in the wee hours while the snowplows and tow trucks rumble by your window.

Stress at work, no-car stress (could just need transmission fluid and new hoses--$600--or could need a new transmission--$thousands, which we won't invest) and all that goes with it, where-will-we-live stress, directing a show stress, no-sunshine stress, normal daily stresses...

It's all relatively little in the grand scheme of things, more inconvenient than anything else. So, worry not. I will get something posted soon...I hope!

11 January 2011


She's more than 10 cm. taller
than when she came home.
That's over FOUR INCHES.

Over the holiday, while we were both so, so sick,
she came into the room with a glass in her hand.

"What's that?" I asked.

"Oh, I got some juice." she casually replied
with a sparkle in her eye.

"Lexi! You are amazing! You got that glass,
poured the juice by yourself, AND got up in
the cabinet for a straw? Wow."

"And I put some water in and mixed it up."

Also while we were sick she
mastered staying in bed until
the first number was seven.
At least, she did for a few days.

We went to deliver gifts from our school
to "my" orphanage. We had talked about
how excited "the girls" (their picture is on
our 'fridge and the ever-increasing donation
pile is always referred to as for the girls)
would be with their presents. I explained
that the boys and girls in the orphanage
had no mama or papa to buy them a
Christmas present.

On the ride home we talked about how they
didn't have a family; how they ate and slept
at the orphanage. (They were headed to lunch
when we left, and Lexi was confused about
where they would go--and didn't want them
to ride in the car to the restaurant with us.)

Lexi said that was "silly" (a current favorite
descriptive). I reminded her she ate and slept
in the groupa when she didn't have a mama.
We talked about how the girls and boys at the
orphanage didn't have a mama or papa.

Lexi added, "They only have grown-ups."

In my mind, the distinction she made
between a mama and simply a grown-up
was a big sign of growth.

We've FELT it for a long time.
It was just nice to hear.

04 January 2011


I think we might try this privately...

I'm feeling a little exposed, and like I'm exposing Lexi and not keeping her safe. I'm feeling like, with our impending move home, I need more boundaries. I'm feeling that the popularity rush from getting a new follower was not a healthy thing. I'm feeling that some of those followers were a l.i.t.t.l.e bit creepy.

I've limited the readers. Please, if you're in the blogosphere, don't mention that I'm still posting here. I'm directing general traffic, family and some irl friends to the picture blog: http://2010in52.blogspot.com

Here's a question: Do posts on private blogs still show up on blog readers as new posts even if you're not invited?

Here's a request for a roll call: Please leave a comment on this post and let me--and other folks here--know you're reading, even if you never comment again.