Friday, August 31, 2007

to blog an adoption trip

My friend's husband's sister (got that?) recently returned from Ethiopia with their new daughter. She's made the comment on her own blog that she is having a hard time organizing thoughts and starting to blog about their trip. For a variety of reasons, I know where she's coming from. I don't think I blogged much about Russia when we returned... the impact of a new kid in the house superceded for a long our impressions of our journey.
Plus, we had the benefit of computer access (for a price, as everything in Russia) so we emailed our loved ones the pertinent information. We verbalized a lot with our pictures to those who were looking at them, but blogging... not so much.

On the other hand I think, for people who are emotionally invested, although far away, from the new arrival probably want to hear about an adoption trip. People who are adopting soon, too, want details. It's hard... when pregnant, everyone close can share in the bulging belly, the monthly updates or stories, and "relate" to it. When it's time for the baby to be born, most people "know" what the story is - rush to the hospital, hours of labor, with the production of a kid. Adoption is so different. Traveling to a foreign country, especially one like Russia or Ethiopia, is something most people won't do. So I can understand why people would want stories and pictures.

Again, to swing to the other side, there are some things that can never be explained properly. I can never talk to anyone adequately, except Doug, about the Infectious Disease ward where we first saw Roman. The inexplicable fear that gripped us knowing he was so sick, even though we'd never met him. There are sights and smells that are so imprinted in us, that are so much a part of the experience that can't be conveyed. The pine trees. The mountains that are piles of rocks. The swamps probably full of dead bodies from Stalin's time. The smell of the water. Washboard snow covered roads. The absolute silence at the monastery in the woods. The dirt road that meant we were almost at the Baby Home.

So we explain as best as we can... by now, 3 years later, we have "pat" answers and explanations we tell people, so they can know a generalized version of our trip. SO my thought to my Ethiopian-traveling friends is to blog the generalities for those who want to share in the celebration, and leave some to yourself.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back to School

I went back today for the beginning of marathon meetings - 2-1/2 days of designing formative & summative assessments. Ack. Gag. Although it's not as bad as it sounds... the 8th grade Social Studies dept., usually known for being better friends with each other than most other departments (and therefore get less work done), actually created "Power Standards" and began aligning them with the summative assessments we already have. Impressive, no?

Roman is showing all the signs of too much excitement back to preschool. Some of his buddies are trickling back from a summer away (Garrett was there today!) and his exhaustion and crying over silly things tonight is proof of an exhilerating day.

Rebekka goes tomorrow for orientation from 8-11am; meet principals, tour the school, "student leaders" give talks, etc. I, meanwhile, am going to play the role of pushy parent and ask the office why her counselor hasn't called to create a schedule for her. School starts next Wed. for her, and she has no idea what grade she's in. Nice.

Doug? Work as usual.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Another funny Roman thing; and a pic of Rebekka!

I did forget a funny thing he said in the car. Roman kept trying to roll down the window in the car. When we asked him why he had to have it down on the highway, he said "I need some fresh country air!" Too funny!

I've attached a picture of Rebekka to the bottom of the post, although she doesn't look quite like this now. She had an appt. at a salon today (for free) and got herself a new hairstyle and some more natural-looking blonder highlights. Got herself some bangs and everything!

It's been quite exciting around here the past two days due to the big thunderstorms. The civil siren went off both last night and tonight. Here they are very anxious; they set off that stupid horn just for "severe thunderstorms." On the west side, I don't think they ever use them except for high winds or tornadoes/water spouts. Here, now, I've heard it 3 times in six years. I don't believe I ever heard it living on the coast. Anyway, we headed to the basement last night with Roman quite scared but he eventually calmed down. Tonight we heard it briefly but decided to stay upstairs. It was a heck of a storm, but everything's fine - and power only flickered.

This weekend's a relaxing one. Our dryer died so they're coming to look at it in the morning. Rebekka is having a friend over in the afternoon. And I think after church, Sunday afternoon is movie day - Doug and Rebekka to the see The Simpsons, Roman and I to see Mr. Bean's Holiday.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Funny things Roman says

In the car ride on the way home from camping today, Roman was thoroughly entertaining. He would ask random questions, or say the funniest things. Here are two of my favorites:

"Why do people have watches?"
"Daddy, I love you. I love you as much as I want to play with the Legos in the box when we get home."

Adventures for us this week: register Rebekka for school, get her state ID (so she can open a bank account), I am going to work a morning at school when kids pick up their new schedules, perhaps host one of Rebekka's friends from the girl's home for dinner (we've met the friend's family already), it's "Castles" week at preschool for Roman (dragons and make your own shield!), and I have to start getting my parent letter retyped and prepared. I have one week of summer vacation left.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Back from San Francisco

We all had a vacation, and we all came back somewhat refreshed. Roman spent 5 days with my parents, Rebekka spent 5 days with her family, and we spent 5 days in SF with Doug's family. So everyone was happy. We missed Ro like crazy, worried about Rebekka, but still ended up having a very good time!
We did Napa and hit 5 wineries, took a trolley "bus" tour, visited Alcatraz, and did some shopping both in the "high end" district & in Chinatown. Had some amazing meals, too. Even a 3-hour time change got us this time, however... we must be getting old.

Posted all my pictures over at Snapfish. Email me if I didn't send you the link to see them.

Riding a trolley car tour

Waiting for my prison supplies at Alcatraz

Checking our course on the Pampanito submarine

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Summer winding down

This is the first summer I think I'm looking forward to summer ending. Perhaps because so much is happening in August that I'm feeling rushed. Got a trip to California, a Family Camp, and then I'm at school. Rebekka changes things too, we have to help register her at school one of these days. Plus, my days here at home now are different than previous typical summer days, and I want to go back to what is familiar. Although at the same time, I'm not ready to meet parents, set up rules again, etc. I feel that my brain hasn't had enough "down time." In a couple weeks Roman will be back at his preschool for 2 days, and I'll be able to head into school and start organizing my space - and my head.

This past week seemed so SLOW to me. So different with a third person around. It's not bad, just different. I'm in charge of Roman and I tell him how it is. Now I have to check with Rebekka, arrange things with her schedule. And Roman at VBS was strange too, home every day. Before he was at preschool at least one day a week.

Anyway... on the "selling the house" front, we haven't started up again, but we're talking about a possible plan of attack in case we want to try again. Definitely lowering our price (and profit), but looking at houses in Plymouth & Canton about $20,000 less than we had looked at, with the possibility of major upgrades in the future. Doug actually found a 4-BR house in Plymouth that was really a duplex (apts. up and down) but could be reunited. That would be a fun thing to tackle one day. He and I both like old, historical homes and thought one day we'd like to refurbish one. Not REMODEL (unless "This Old House" was going to come help us), but it would be neat to restore things. We also are reconsidering the thought that we may just have to make an equal-size-house move to afford Plymouth. A 3-BR ranch or bungalow, around the same square footage (but w/garage) would be just affordable in downtown Ply. Eh, we'll see.

Rebekka is with us until October, then some things will fall into place - will she want to go back home, stay with us, use us as an escape? Who knows. Lots could happen by then. She commented to Doug that she feels so lazy. He told her to enjoy it, as she'll be so busy when school starts. I say, maybe she could paint our front door. :) She's definitely going to school with me and helping carry all my crap, and start to decorate the room. She's got a good eye. She's been invited to breakfast with our youth group on Tuesday morning, and a canoe trip in a couple weekends. I hope she takes advantage of it. She's nervous about meeting kids her age, but at the same time really would like to have some friendly faces in the halls when she starts school.

As for Roman, he likes having Rebekka here. We have checked with him a couple times to see how things are going, what he likes, what he doesn't like about her here. He has informed us he likes it so much he ALWAYS wants a big kid in the house. When I asked about a little kid, he said absolutely NOT. His life got sweeter today - his gun (the cowboy rifle) broke when he was playing with it, and since he had not spent all his birthday money we told him we could try to find a replacement. We did - a Nerf "blaster." He's happy shooting suction-cup darts at the wall. He also is revisting his Spiderman phase. Wore his costume to the grocery store the other day and entertained the checkers and baggers.

Tonight at dinner, he sighed and said quite forlornly, "I wish I was a Jedi Knight, like Luke." His Daddy said he wished he was one, too. I just rolled my eyes - and they say I'm a nerd!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

all the parts of an adoption

Today, finally, FINALLY... we applied for Roman's "delayed registration of foreign birth." Meaning, he can have a Michigan-looking birth certificate. We should have done this when we first got back, but we had to go downtown Detroit, Doug had to take a day off, etc., etc... and the months flew by.

So we turned in the paperwork today at 1:30. When the cert. arrives in the mail, we can apply for his American passport, just like all the other millions of citizens who have to do it before 2008. But this really is the last step of the adoption... before he's 18 and has to (hopefully) give up his Russian citizenship.

Otherwise, all is well here. Learning each other's schedules, habits, tastes. It's weird not having any time to myself at ALL now. Usually I would have Roman's rest time, or when he was at preschool... but not anymore! And talk about taxi driving... Rebekka was still going back for art classes to finish some things, so I'd take her out there, drop Roman at VBS (which he's having a great time, by the way), then pick her up, and then pick Roman up... get lunch... whew! I'm actually looking forward to school starting!