Friday, July 27, 2007

Off to a good start

Rebekka has been here for 24 hours now, and all is going well. She has homework of making out a schedule of her days, so that's been easy to do for the next few days. A large grocery shopping excursion was accomplished today at Meijer and we're all much happier now that snacks and real meal ingredients are back in the house.

Tomorrow is the first Saturday I'll be home since June 16. Amazing, isn't it? But clothes shopping is on the agenda for Rebekka, so that will be fun. She's a typical teenager - a ton of hygiene products (as she calls them), lotions, etc. She's happily downloading music on my old computer as she has lost a lot of the CDs she used to have. And she made a trip to the library already and came back with a great book. So things are settling in... next week Roman is in VBS all week and so is home EVERY afternoon. May have to take a trip to the local pool, as Reb. has been asking about that as well. We'll see!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

We expand tomorrow

Tonight has been busy, putting the burgundy room together as Rebecca's room. The futon was moved downstairs, and a Monday night shopping spree at IKEA got us the basics - bed, beside table, mattress, bedside lamp, linens, a mirror, etc. Roman got some things out of it too, because we didn't want him to feel left out -and because it's time to upgrade him into "young kid" stage from the nursery colors. Roman chose to make his room a castle. Weird, huh? We totally thought he was going to go for the outer space idea. But he was taken with the dragons and the flickering torch lamp (which I now want a dozen lining my hallway). So he got a new carpet, the flickering torch lamp, and some shelves that hang for lightweight "treasures." I'm thinking of designing a banner for him to hang on the wall.

Rebecca arrives officially at 3pm tomorrow. There will be a roundtable discussion of her expectations both at our house, and through her outpatient counseling. She doesn't start her counseling until Tuesday, however, giving us a few days to all "settle in."

Will update as it goes... we're both pretty tired, having stayed up until 2am Monday night to finish the seventh Harry Potter book. And tomorrow is a pretty big adjustment day.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

We met the girl...

She can't go by "the girl" any longer. Her name is Rebecca. We had our first meeting tonight with her, about an hour. We both took an instant liking to her - and both secretly wish this wasn't a 90-day placement! She came in and introductions were made. Roman and I gave her the tour of the house, and she was very quiet, soaking it all in. When we went downstairs she asked me a couple questions about teaching. Roman was great at filling in the gaps, showing her Star Wars characters, bouncing on his bed, etc.

Back upstairs, Sarah (the social worker) said "Well, why don't you start off giving them some background on why you are here today." Rebecca was clearly nervous about telling us this, did not make eye contact. Then she had written a list of questions she had for us, which were very good and well thought out. There was no awkward silence during the visit, which is good.

Arrangements were made for a longer visit this coming Tuesday; she will be brought to our house around 2pm, and picked up around 7pm, so she can spend more time with us and get a feel for our "routine." If all goes well, and both sides agree on Wednesday in separate conversations with Sarah, then she will join our household for 90 days on Thursday. Yup, that quick. We really liked her and can't wait to see her gain some steadiness and support in her life.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I don't know what it's like for all teachers, I can only attest to the ones I work with. We joke about our summers and how by the time we decompress from the previous school year, and start to gear up for the next school year, we have, like, a month of summer. I write this because I am going to give you a sneak peek into my teacher's brain.

When do teachers start thinking about the next school year? Well, for one coworker it's July 5. He says he gets bored after that and wants to go back and teach. Another teacher says its August 1st, because it's the month we have to report back. For me, it begins in small amounts. Last week, for instance, I was on the computer and a thought came to me out of the blue - "I should probably start cleaning up and updating my parent letter." Then I thought, "Egads! I still have a couple weeks." So I put it out of my mind. Then a coworker called a couple days after and casually mentioned she was thinking of stopping in to school, "just to poke around the classroom and see what's going on." And I thought, I want to, too! But I had shoved the thought away again.

Until today. We were driving home from camping (a 3-hour drive) and my mind was wandering, and I began to think about school again. This time, it was things I might want for the classroom - office-supply-wise. I love shopping at office supply stores. I love school supplies. I love file folders, labels, highlighters, binder clips, and especially Post-It notes in multiple colors. Honestly, you want to make me grin from ear to ear, the best present EVER would be Haribo gummy bears, Post-It notes, and some binder clips in one box. Nirvana! But I digress...

Soon, within a couple weeks, my mind will begin to converge the three random thoughts.... visit the classroom, go school-supply shopping, update the parent letter... and I'll be back into teacher-mode again.

Time elapsed from when I stopped thinking about school, until I had my first thought about the new school year? Approximately 24 days.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

new people in my life

The past 3 days has brought an interesting twist. First (and brief) was the announcement that a new principal has been selected for my school. It's the guy I had been hoping for, not knowing the out-of-district candidates, so I am pleased with that. I actually met him my first day working for the district as a substitute, and know his wife as she's a social studies teacher at one of the high schools. So things are positive on that front. Here's to hoping our VP decides to take a leave of some sort, and we can get some discipline going too. Or maybe the new principal will force some changes on that front... one can hope.

Next, is that we've got a teenager on the horizon. Got a call Monday from Sarah, our social worker. She has the complete opposite situation than what we were expecting - a temporary girl to house. Not that she's a girl temporarily, but that she would be with us hopefully only 90 days. We've decided to say yes, move forward and see what this brings, like a "practice round." We should be receiving her "file" in the next couple days, and there is a meeting with the girl on Friday (not with us) to explain the proposition of her living with us temporarily. If she agrees to moving forward as well, an initial visit will be scheduled. We should hear Friday afternoon or Monday.

This has prompted us to finally do the necessary household work of getting the third bedroom ready for full-time occupancy. This also, long story, involved rearranging the basement, but I'd been thinking about it for awhile so I am quite happy to try a different arrangement. So if all moves ahead next week with a meeting, then it's off to IKEA to buy a basic bed, nightstand... I thought of a couple other things that are necessary. We already had a bookshelf in there, and are putting the desk in there as well (that was in storage). No dresser, the closet has an organizer in it so it's not necessary. Anyway...

Roman is pretty good about it. He was pleased with the idea of a girl, and asked if she'd be as nice as Miss Katie. I said probably, but not to expect her to play all the time; I would still do that. It's the temporary notion that I've found a little more difficult to explain; I said that the girl's parents need to learn how to be a family and practice what families do, and if they can do that, then she will move back home with them. Which is true, for the most part.

Monday, July 09, 2007

A lesson in tolerance

Roman said the oddest thing tonight, but it was very touching. My guess is that he is learning about accepting "different" people at Red Bell, but it was amazing nonetheless.

He had been playing Lego Star Wars with his Daddy, and they can choose to be different characters. He also had been looking at his book with all the different characters. Roman out of the blue said, "Know what? The weird people in Star Wars are just people... they're not weird, they are people." We agreed and Doug said that it was really good of Roman to realize that. Then Roman kept going... "Even though they look weird, they are not, because they are people. And we don't have to understand... you just click on them anyway." He said this while crossing his little arms on the table and resting his chin on his arm. And for a 4 year old it was so profound, it brought tears to my eyes.

Now, I don't want to give Red Bell all the credit - a pat on our own backs because we're trying really hard to not identify people by how they look, even down to fat or skinny. We will talk about their clothes ("the girl in the green dress") or where they were standing, or what they said. And one time, when we did described an African-American girl's skin as "dark," Roman held up his arm and asked so innocently, "darker than mine?" Proof that children learn every little bit of their prejudices.

Thunder Over Michigan!

The name itself oozes excitement, doesn't it? Our family went to the air show on Sunday hosted by the Yankee Air Museum. I went to an air show once in Kalamazoo, but Doug (and obviously, Roman) had never been. We met up with some friends when we got there, who are plane enthusiasts and have been going for years. IT WAS AWESOME!! As we pulled into line to pay the gate fee, an F-16 "Fighting Falcon" was having its fun blasting around. I think we all got neck cramps trying to see out the windows watching it shoot straight up into the sky, do loop-de-loops, and all kinds of cool stuff.

As we parked, the F-16 then escorted 3 P-51 Mustangs around the airfield. As with any WWII aircraft, I got tears in my eyes - I've never seen a P51 fly before. How very cool. You can see the whole schedule of events that we saw if you click here. We walked around the static displays and Roman fell in love with the "shark plane," a P-40 painted with big scary teeth. There was also a Russian MiG, various other WWII fighters, and lots and lots of B25 Mitchell bombers. In fact, they were flying 15 of them; that's 1/3 of the entire able-to-fly B25s in the WORLD.

The air show ended with a fantastic show by the Blue Angels. I found a 9 minute clip of their show on YouTube if you want to see it. It was awesome. Of course, it was also about 90 degrees but luckily there was lots of wind, both from the planes & just because it's such a flat area. And Roman has decided maybe he wants to be in the Air Force now. He was adorable, we bought him a little metal plane (F-14) and as the Blue Angels performed, he had his jet do all the tricks that he was seeing them do. Really cute.

Roman intently following the Blue Angels' aerial tricks.

5 of the 15 B25 Mitchell bombers

The P40 "Shark Plane"

The movie-plane "Memphis Belle," a B17 Flying Fortress. The actual one is in restoration at the Air Force Museum in Ohio. Roman loved the gun.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy USA Day!

Roman has been calling the 4th of July "USA Day." Cute little ring to it. We went to Greenfield Village last night for their "Salute to America." Gates opened at 6pm, picnics were allowed. We went with Roman's friend Max and his mom, because dad is in Pennsylvania starting his new job. (side note: yup, it's true: the economy IS forcing people out of Michigan).

Anyway, we secured a spot on a more level area of the hill overlooking the food tent and the side of a stage. At 8:00pm there was a 5x flyby of a B-25D bomber from WWII, the same kind Doolittle flew over Tokyo after Pearl Harbor. It was SO cool. Doug was so entranced he didn't even remember to take a picture. He reports the bomb bay doors were open; Roman and I were in a different spot at the time and Ro didn't like the noise at first, so I didn't notice. What chills I got, though, to see that baby fly!

At 8:30 the Detroit Symphony Orchestra began their concert of patriotic favorites. They finished with "1812 Overture" which I can hear every day and not get tired of it. Real cannons, of course, provided by a reenactment group. That was just too cool. While the Overture was playing, I was telling Roman about the story behind the song... he asked for more battle music and stories afterward. Too cute. Even classical music can be exciting when people are introduced to the stories behind the music.

Anyway, right after the Overture ended, the fireworks began and the orchestra accompanied with more favorites - "Washington Post March" and "Stars & Stripes Forever," along with that "Bridge Over theRiver Kwai" song. Roman loved the fireworks and stayed awake... for the beginning. He did call out "Sparkles!" a couple times, and commented on the really BIG ones, and then - asleep. He fought it valiantly, trying to force his eyes open, but he just couldn't do it.

All in all it was a great show, fun too because beforehand there was a Drum & Fife Corp, and wandering Barbershop Quartet and Ladies' group. And I close on this, America's 231st birthday (of course, the Rev. War started in 1775, but the Declaration was signed in 1776), with the conclusion of Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural Address. It was short & to the point, and in this time of war in Iraq, Afghanistan, not to mention the "global" war against terrorism, I thought it was appropriate.

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Adoption thoughts

Roman will ask interesting things about his adoption sometimes. According to my favorite adoption book, "The Lifelong Search for Self," which talks about the general "stages" that an adoptee goes through, Roman is in the "Becoming a person, becoming a thinker, and parroting the adoption story" stage. This is very evident in some of his questions. For example, we have been talking about names. First name, last name, and people will often comment on his first name and how "unusual" or "unique" it is. Now I personally don't think so, but then...

Anyway, Roman asked me the other day after a visit to the doctor's office, after his medical history in Russia was discussed, if he had a Russian name. I thought this was a brilliant leap of intelligence for him. I told him that he did, and told him what his last name was in Russia. He giggled because it sounds funny, and didn't say anything else.

A few days later, seemingly out of the blue, he asked if anyone else had his Russian name. Now, is that brilliant or what?! I explained that his birthmom had a matching last name, but when he was adopted by us, we gave him our own last name. He was satisfied with this, apparently, and I try never to give more information at this stage than what he asks. (the same goes for talking about sex, by the way - at this age, they really do want only the answers to their questions, not a long drawn-out explanation.)

But how interesting, really, and I imagine he had turned this "Russian last name" idea around in his head quite a few times and thought about it before asking me his second question. Definitely a thinker.