Sunday, December 5, 2010

I get really uncomfortable when people act like we did something amazing in adopting Little Bear.  The new director of religious education gushed over our adoption story.  I wanted to squirm. 

Let me state for the record that we aren't special.  Hell, half the time I don't even think I'm a very good parent.  I lose my cool.  I vacillate between too tough and too soft.  Some days all I want to do is read a book and sometimes I hide in the bathroom so I can get 5 minutes of peace.  I tune out the kids when they make too much noise and I use the TV as a babysitter so I can make dinner.

See not special, but I sure got a special kid.

Parent Teacher Conferences

I'll be the first to admit that I am not enamoured with the traditional school system.  It is designed to (mostly) meet the needs of most people.  One thing that I do like is Parent-Teacher conferences.  Around here the school actually shut down for two days every so often and parents and teachers meet.  I don't remember this from when I was a kid, but it seems to me that going in for an educational "check up" is a great idea.

Charlie and I do this every so often informally, but I thought I'd post it here.

Wonder Boy is growing and maturing at an amazing rate.  He is my strong willed child.  I don't like to toss that phrase around but really he is.  He is also  . . . umm, how shall I say it?  quite impulsive and has a hard time controlling his temper.  This is still a challenge for him, but the outbursts are not as frequent and having Little Bear in the family has encouraged him to step up and really be a  leader in the family.  His school work is coming more easily this year.  I'm not sure if that  is because of the materials that we are using this year or because we really slowed down with the work and let his social/emotional maturity catch up with his academic abilities.  Almost all of the trouble that he gave us over school last year is gone.  Wonder Boy is a voracious reader and reads at least 1-11/2 hours a day.  He is also enjoying his tae kwan do.

Jophus is excelling in math and doing well in reading.  His struggle to settle down has led me to wonder if he has sensory integration  difficulties. He is still doing gymnastics and expressed an interest in being on a boys team.  We did explore that possibility, but he is not ready for it.  I think that he will change to another gym so that if his skills improve, he can do that.  The gym that we go to now does not have a boys teams and they don't really prepare boys for competition.

Pookie is struggling with whining and temper fits.  I can't say that I'm all that surprised.  There have been so many changes in the past six months.  She still is not potty trained, but she is getting better.  We have been making a real effort to give her more one on one time for the past week or two and that seems to be helping.  On the other hand, her sense of humor is really starting to shine, and she seems like such a big girl.  I can hardly see my baby in her at all.

Little Bear is changing and maturing so quickly.  When he first arrived in our family I felt as though someone had loosed a wild animal into the house.  It was frustrating and exhausting.  I could understand how a child would throw himself into a full fledged temper tantrum or put himself into shut-down mode because he was told not to stand on the dinner table.  Bear is still emotionally very immature, but he is also very attached to us and that put a huge fear to rest.  Right not I think he is beginning to have fears and need reassurance that this is his home forever and he will never lose us.  We have decided that Little Bear may have some hearing loss and need to have that tested soon.

How do you keep the Sabbath?

A few years ago we decided to dedicate Sunday as a day of worship and rest, a true Sabbath day.  The worship is the east part.  The more my faith has grown the more I enjoy Sunday mass and the more I want to get up in the morning and be with God.  Ironically, I think that I have sat through about 7 masses without interruption from one child or another.  (One sees God's sense of humor here.)

A day of rest and relaxation is a little bit harder to implement.  We decided not to "work " on Sunday.  For our family it is not the time to clean the garage or mow the lawn.We play on Sunday.  It is the day to go to the zoo or museums.  Sometimes we go to the lake or swimming or to a movie. 

This is where I hope  we are implementing the Sabbath rest properly.  When we do these activities, frequently  we are requiring others to work and keeping them from their rest.  On the other hand, they would be working anyway.  My staying home would not change that. In many respects what we do is not always relaxing either.  There are days where we end up overtired and frazzled.  Is this  in the spirit of what God meant?  Ah, the thorny questions of life.

So much to be thankful for

We have had some mixed blessings around here lately.  Namely, at Little Bear's 4 week check-up following his surgery in September, we found that his hip was still not in a good position.  Our doctor ordered a CT scan and to confirm her suspicions.

The results were that: a.) Bear had the highest femur she had seen in a long time. b.) Then head of the femur is large and the socket of the pelvis is small and very shallow.  She says it is more like a saucer than a bowl.  c.)  We need to repeat the surgery to shorten the femur (Hey not too much!  The boy doesn't have a lot of height to work with.)  and clean out the socket.  During surgery she also put a pin into the hip to keep everything in place .  Three weeks post op the cast will be removed and they will take the pin out.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving we were back in surgery.  Everyone at our hospital is great and Little Bear was as comfortable as possible.  We only stayed one night and were able to be home for Thanksgiving.

I have been so blessed this year though. 
*This time last year we were just getting to meet Little Bear and now he is our son! 
*So many of his medical conditions were wrong (to our benefit) and he continues to surpass the limits people expect him to have. 
*We have a great doctor who "likes a challenge."
*Wonder Boy has matured and mellowed a bit in the last year.
*Jophus is learning to read and has natural math gifts
*Pookie has a very funny sense of humor.
*I have the best husband in the world, who shares my parenting and life goals.
*I know that God love me more than I can ever imagine.  Otherwise this crazy ride called life would overwhelm me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Last night at bed time.  The lights are dimmed, we are singing nursery rhymes before bed.

Mom (in her sweetest voice, sings a new song for her princess): What are little girls made of, made of?
          What are little girls made of--
Pookie: SKIN!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Welcome to the Family

Little Bear entered the Holy Catholic Church this weekend through the waters of Baptism. 

Our church actually began doing Baptisms during mass, which I love.  I think that if you are going to join the Catholic community you ought to do it with the community (ie mass) not in some ceremony after everyone else has left.  We were surrounded by our many loving friends who have become a second family to us.  (We have an amazing family, but since we moved so far from them, we don't get to see them as much as we'd like.)  Everyone came back to the house and we had about 40 people in our little house.  It was great!

Some Bad News

At Little Bear's one month followup x-ray revealed that his procedure was not altogether successful.  The femur is lower but not really in the joint.  Our doctor said that there may be some tissue blocking it, but she can't tell so on Thursday Bear will go in for a CT scan to help diagnose the problem.  One solution she mentioned was to maybe further shorten the femur.  I really hope not because that would mean another sojourn in a spica cast for Little Bear.

Little Bear is also still not walking and so he is being sent to physical therapy three times a week at Motts children's hospital.  That's not far but it is still a good 35-40 minute drive each way.  I'm so bummed about the whole thing.

The cast is off

Snuggling with Daddy
Little Bear's cast came off about a month ago.  He has three amazing scars on his right leg.  One runs the length of his thigh.  One is on his hip and there is one in his inner groin.  I was so thrilled to get that thing off because he had had several diaper leaks and the cast was beginning to  . . ahhem  . . . have a bit of an odor. 

Before the cast came off I was shocked by how well Bear got around.  He spend most of his waking hours on his belly because it gave him the most independence.  He could also roll from front to back, so he could choose what position he wanted to be in. 

The first day he spent a very long time in the bath tub not only relaxing and getting clean, but also allowing all that the skin that he had not shed slough off.  It took a little while to get him to try but he started crawling pretty well in about a week.

Ooooh, I hate dead blogs

Don't you?  I'm so sorry (Mom). For some reason I have been very anti-computer lately.  It has seems like such a bother to post or read my e-mail, but like so many other aspects of my life, things are getting back on track.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Spica Pants

So, here's a little fact that I bet you never thought about.  If your child has a bar that goes from his ankle on one leg to his knee on the other, he can't wear pants.  Here's another little fact: It gets downright chilly in late September in Michigan.  We've been struggling [read, I've been struggling] to find some way to protect Little Bear from the elements and make him presentable for going out in public.  I have had many hits and misses and have FINALLY succeeded in making pants for my boy.

What didn't work:
1.  Cutting pants down the side and sewing ties on .  OK, it works, but the sides gap and it just looks like a hospital gown.

2. Cutting pants down the side and adding snaps.  This might have worked, but the snaps were really hard to add.

3.  Adding Velcro to pants a size up.  There are two problems here, or really there is one problem with two sides.  If you buy pants that fit the waist, the the leg is not wide enough, and conversely if you get pants that accommodate the flexed leg the waist is way to big.

Here is what finally worked:  custom sewn pants.
1.  Measure from the center crotch to the outer leg to make sure that the leg of the pants you will make is wide enough to accommodate the flexed leg.  Little Bear wears a size three and we had to make a boys large (approx. 10-12).
2.  Sew the inner seams and crotch seams together according to the pattern directions.  Leave the outer leg seams unsewn.
3.  Fold the outer leg seams over and baste down to prevent fraying.
4.  Measure around the child's waist.  Cut elastic equalling half the waist measurement in the front and half in the back. (example:Little Bear's waist is 24 inches.  12 inches of elastic goes in the front ans 12 inches goes in the back.)
5.  On a leg that has a bar at the ankle, apply Velcro to the inside of the pant back and the outside of the pant front.
6.  On a leg that has a bar at the knee, apply Velcro from the waist to the top of the bar and the bottom up to the bar.
7.  CRITICAL STEP FOR A GOOD FIT.  At the bar,cut from the outer side to inside where the bar attached to the cast.  This creates a hole in pant leg for the bar.  Turn raw edges under and sew to prevent fraying.

  Now you've got SPICA PANTS.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Still Mouring

Last week past the one year anniversary of when we found out we could not adopt Sweet Pea.  A year has lessened the pain but for me the wound is still deep.  Some times I want to hire a family researcher to find out what happened, but I fear what the results would be.  Is she alive or dead?  Did she develop additional medical conditions?  Did the authorities give up hope that anyone was coming for her?  My greatest fear is that we would find out that she is once again adoptable.  We couldn't do it.  Right now we just couldn't add another child to the family and that would kill me. 

All I can hope is that my prayers get to her and somehow she know that my love travels around the world to her.  Mother Mary, protect my baby girl.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Homeschool Uniforms?

This year I decided that the boys would wear uniforms on school days.  The reasons were many.  First of all every morning they would fuss and complain, " I want to wear this." or "I'm not wearing that.."  I decided to circumvent all that drama by giving them specific clothes to wear.  It also creates a certain unity at our school.  I have observed over the last two weeks that the boys also take school a little bit more seriously. 

Their uniforms are nothing more than navy blue pants or short and polo shirts.  They don't all match.  In fact, we got most of the shirts at resale shops.  I finished off their uniforms with slip on jungle mocs from Land's End.  these are perfect because they function as running shoes, but look a lot nicer.

I was concerned at first about this decision because I'm don't want to recreate school.  I figure if I'm going to homeschool the kids I want the experience to be different from what they would be getting at a school-in-a-building.  I have found that the uniforms have been an asset to our school and our day.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Medical Miracle

We spoke to Little Bear's surgeon yesterday.  She reported that she had spoken to several colleagues and nobody had any "hot ideas about what to do about his feet because there is no reason they should be working so well."  Huh.

Man of Steel

or at least plaster!

The First Day of School

Started school on Tuesday.  Was I even a little bit prepared?  Nope.  We are still missing school books but decided to go ahead anyway.  I have spend the better part of the weekend to revamp our Rule of Life and menus.  So this week we have a light week and next week we will really get things moving. 

The boys have done a great job and experienced a few epiphanies.  "Wow, Mom, if I work hard, this gets done really fast."  Yep.  I'm glad it only took you FOUR YEARS to figure that out. 

I am committed to really making this a great year and including more things that really bring learning to life.  I mean if we are going to home school (which is A LOT of work) we might as well take advantage of all its benefits.

The Potty Party

Yep.  I do have other kids beside Little Bear, although it seems really hard to tell lately.  Sorry about that, and I'm even sorrier to them. 

On Monday we decided to get serious about potty training Pookie.  Potty training has got to be one of my least favorite parenting tasks, but it has to be done.  Pookie has been particularly resistant to the idea of going potty and with all of the changes going on in her life (ie a new sibling) we decided not to push it.  Sometimes parents can and have to go head-to-head with their kids, but in my experience potty training is one place where parents will lose every time.  So . .

We decided to make a game of it and have a "POTTY PARTY!"  The older boys made decorations.  We then "potty trained" Tulip her stuffed rabbit complete with pee in the little potty (yellow food coloring in a squirt bottle.  then we read a potty book and watch a video that we have and gave her a big cup of juice.  Then it was Pookie's turn.  She was excited to try and we had success.

Now it is just up to me to remind her to go often.  Ugg.  We moved the little potty to the playroom so that she doesn't have to go far to potty and I don't have to leave Bear for very long.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Little Bear is doing fine

Yesterday was Little Bear's hip surgery.  We arrived at 8:30 at the hospital and he was taken into the operating room at 9:45.  Hewas notobviously scared and that was a relief.  I was able to go with him while they put him under general anesthesia so I think he was less frightened.

The we began to wait.  And wait.  We were very blessed that the hospital is testing a new system for long procedures and they gave us a cell phone that the nurse could use to call us with updates.  About 4:00 our surgeon cam down to talk to us and let us know that everything looked good.  While she was speaking to us they were putting on his spica cast and sending him for a CT scan to make sure the hip stayed in place during the casting.

Bear is handling the pain pretty well, although he says that his hand hurts where the IV is.  I can tell that he is not feeling as well today.  Last night he wanted to eat and drink.  This morning he is not interested at all.   was very surprised that the doctors said that they might release him this afternoon, but I think that if he tolerates the pain and everything looks good Bear will rest much better without the constant parade of people in here and so will I.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wonder Boy has been learning to sail all this week.  Actually the learn to sail class that he is in got all the kids sailing on the first day.  He has one more week to go ans he is having a great time.

In the other hand am staring to plan for next school year, which is  not nearly so fun.  With all the medical concerns Little Bear has this summer has kind of gotten away from me.  I need to start to plan all our materials and see how we will keep the little ones busy so I can teach the big ones.  I am hoping to combine both WB and Jophus into one class for some subjects so I can decrease teaching time.  I may also try some unit studies so that everyone can participate.

Little Bear's first surgery has been scheduled for August 31st.  On one hand, I am glad to get things going and on the other, I am really scared about things will go.  The recovery will be pretty intense for all of us, I think.  On the other had it will keep us home and get us into the routine of school.  I am very thankful that we have had this summer to just play.

Happy birthday Pookie

Last Saturday Pookie turned three.  We had a great time camping at a state park and she had a very non- traditional birthday cake-- a dump cake cooked in a dutch oven over a camp fire.  We all returned buggie eaten, filthy, but had a fine time canoeing ans swimming in the lake.

Friday, July 2, 2010

More Good News

We met with surgeron that be woking on Bear's hip.  She is hoping to schedule the surgery for some time this month.  Little Bear will be in a spica cast for six weeks.  A spica cast goes from waist to either knees or feet.  Six weeks is more than I'd like, but less than I feared.

She also said that Bear doesn't really have club feet.  He has something called rocker-bottom feet, and Dr. Farley said that it is related to the tibal hemimelia.  I got the feeling that she was surprised by the number of issues that Little Bear has. We're still not sure how treatment will proceed for his legs and feet. but we have time for all of that later. 

The last of my news is that we have been blessed with the offer of help from a friend's daughter.  She has not found work for the summer and is lloking to add child care experience to her resume.  Cheala may really keep our chestnut out of the fire in regards child care and keeping the house from exploding as we care for Bear.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

spell check is back

Yeah.  I just spent the last five minutes check the spelling on old posts.

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to Little Bear and Wonder Boy. 

As unlikely as it seems, they share the same birthday.  Wonder turned 8 and Little Bear turned 3.  Their birthday was the 26th which was Saturday, and around here Saturdays are a work day.  We might have blown off all the work that needed to be done, but Charlie was leveling the floor so we could fix our washing machine and it really had to be done.  We had a great birthday dinner and then took Bear to the Build-a-Bear Workshop for his very own stuffed animal.  On Sunday we continued the celebration by seeing Toy Story 3.  Each parent took a turn taking some of the kids to see the movie since Little Bear has no interest in television and movies.  I took Wonder Boy and Charlie to Pookie and Jophus.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sleep, Baby, Sleep

The hardest issue that we've been having with Little Bear is sleep.  Over the past month we've gone from no problems, to some problems, to "oh my goodness what are we going to do?" 

Issue #1  Going to sleep -- Its no surprise that going to sleep is really hard for some one whose whole life has been turned inside out, but Little Bear has had a very hard time falling asleep.  Why?  Well since he can't tell me, I'll make several guesses.  Any one of these or a combination of all of them may be the case.
a. jet lag
b. fear- He like this new life and is scared that it might not be there in the morning.
c.  He is loathe to give up all that fun attention from his new mama and papa

Issue #2  Staying asleep--  Little Bear is waking up several times a night.  Then (see issue #1) it is hard to go to sleep.  Why?
a.  fear-  He wakes up and doesn't really know where he is.  On second thought, I don't buy that one for a minute.  He always wakes up calling for "Mama!" 
b.  bad dreams
c. fear- where are mama and papa?

We've tried everything in the past month
1. Co-sleeping-  I know it great for some people, but for us it was no one's sleeping.  The boy tosses, turned, kicks and thrashes.  Charlie also gets up pretty early and we don't want to wake Little Bear up too soon.  We also like to have some time with no kids.
2.  Close sleeping-- We moved Little Bear's bed into our room.  Same problem as above, minus the kicking
3. Staying close by until he fell asleep.  This was taking hours.  He was really enjoying the interaction with us.  It lead us to think that we had to:
4.  Put him in a crib and let him cry. This was ok, but not great.  Then he threw himself out of the crib and hurt himself.  So we:
5.  Put him in his room with a baby gate on the door.  At least this way if he fell it was only from a toddler bed.  This too caused much distress and resulted in Little Bear crying longer than we felt was acceptable.
(Note:  I am absolutely fine with a reasonable amount of crying.  With all of our other children we let them cry for a while.)

In desperation I called Dr. Ray, a radio host I love ( for suggestions.  This in combination with the book Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child  helped me figure out something would work for us. The plan has three parts.  A. Get him to stay in bed.  We either returned him to bed if we heard him up or blocked his way our of bed.  I went so far as to turn myself into another rail of his toddler bed and block his way so he couldn't get out of bed.  The first few times we probably had to put him back to bed well over 50 times.  B. Give Little Bear no attention or interaction at all.  I wouldn't speak to him, not even to tell him to go to sleep, or look at him.  In fact, I even kept my eyes closed some of the time.  C. Let him know I am close by.  I lay in the hall until he is asleep, buy I lay on a futon mattress (I am too old to lay on a hardwood floor.) in such a way that he can only see my feet.  That way I can't interact, but he knows that I am near.  Thing are working.  The past two days Bear has laid down and gone to sleep in about 30 minutes.  If you compare this to the 2 hours it was taking two weeks ago you can see what a huge accomplishment this is for him.

Staying asleep has been a whole different issue.  We tried a different approach for that.  We moved the older boys out of the room last weekend and Charlie or I slept in the room with Little  Bear.  We were able to move the boys back in a few nights later and I slept on the futon mattress in the hall.  The last few night Little Bear has only been waking up one a night, so I have been sleeping in my bed and going down on an as needed basis.  Of course, I keep falling asleep outside on the futon, but I think in a few weeks Little Bear will be sleeping through the night.

What did you say?

So Little Bear has very little English and we have very little Russian.  I think everyone learns a little bit more every day.  We have been speaking to one another in this bastardized mix of English and Russian.  When communication in those languages fails Charlie and I have reflexively slipped in to French (a language which I am reasonably fluent in), Spanish, with a smattering of German and Dutch . 

Actually each day we are better able to communicate and so the random language are spoken less.  Little Bear has mastered suck phrases as "Open the door" and "Mama, come here."  As well as "milk" "all done" and "apple."  His English vocabulary is rounded out with "Jophus, stop that!" and "Pookie naughty!"

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Yippee!  Little Bear was misdiagnosed while in Russia.

For all of you that may not know, Little Bear has pretty significant limb differences.  I didn't mention it in posts because I decided not to make a big deal about it.  He was diagnosed with "tibia anomalies, hip Dysplasia and club feet" while in Russia.  We weren't really certain what would hold up when he got home and what would prove to be a non-issue as Russian physicians diagnose very differently than American doctors.  (As a matter of fact I think our family doctor was terrified when he read the medical abstract.  "You were looking for a special needs child, weren't you?" he asked.)

In all the reports that we have, he is labeled as missing his tibias.  I was really worried because the tibias are the weight bearing bones and most of the children that I have heard about who are missing tibias have had to have their legs amputated.  Today was our first appointment with the orthopedist and we were told that this is not the case.  He is missing his fibulas, which is a much better bone to be missing. 

His right hip is out of its socket and that is much more serious and we will have to have surgery for that.  In fact it sounds as though the next year will be a series of surgeries.  At some point after the hip surgery Little Bear will also have to have his tibias straightened and possibly lengthened.  (I bet that is as much fun as it sounds.)  His feet will also have to be straightened out as they are clubbed. 

The doctor said that there is much more positive than negative going on and what Little Bear has is in good shape considering the complexity of the deformities in his lower limbs.  (I hate the word deformities, but we have to face facts.  His limbs were formed wrong.)  Overall, it was a very positive visit and I'm ready to start the process and get Little Bear's legs in the best shape possible.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Introducing Little Bear

It took me a little while to decide on a blog name, but from this point on we will be calling Little Bit "Little Bear."  It seems to fit his personality which can be grumpy or sweet and playful at a moments notice.  He is also not a skinny little thing and actually outweighs Pookie by several pounds.

We are all home and safe and transitioning well.  We had a bit of excitement  because we forgot a document and I decided to deliver it to Russia instead of sending it.  Charlie had such a tough trip and we just wanted to get everyone home.  In the end everything worked out well and I'm happy that I went. 

Our Little Bear is transitioning to his new life.  It has been bumpy.  I'm not going to lie.  He is a championship tantrum thrower and that wears on me.  Something as simple as you can't sit on the table (which I'm sure is not a shock to him.  I can't imagine that his caregivers let him pull things like that.) will send him to the floor screaming.  On the other hand he is funny and affectionate and sweet (but not indiscriminately so.)  All in all I am pleased with the attachment process and it is exciting to watch it grow everyday.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wonder Boy had his First Communion

After all the preparation Wonder Boy finally had his First Communion.  He was so nervous and excited.  It was so great to see that he really understood the significance of what he was doing.  I so want him to understand his faith and not just go through the motions.  It seem that he is beginning to.  I am so proud.

E-mail from Charlie


I made it to Moscow fine. Unfortunately, my bag did not. After accepting the fact that it was not here, I spent several hours at the lost and found desk getting the right forms filled out. Thankfully, the man there was very helpful, it was just a long process. Finally got out of the baggage claim area at 2:00.

They're supposed to deliver my bag to the Park Inn when it arrives, although there's a part of me that suspects we'll never see that bag again.

So apparently, I'll be wearing these clothes until Wednesday or so, unless I get time to do some shopping in Stavropol. The plan is still to come back to Moscow on Wednesday Morning. Irina said the orphanage would most likely loan me clothes for Caleb until I get back here.

I'm using a Russian rent-a-computer here at the Vnukovo airport, and it thinks every word I type is mis-spelled, since they're all in English.

Irina dropped me off here b/c she had to go to the notary today.

Apart from the missing bag, everything else is going okay, I suppose.

Only 2 minutes left of my 15 minutes for 60 rubles. Just thought I'd check in.


Travel Troubles

Charlie's flight to New York was delayed to the point that he missed his flight to Moscow.  He stayed an extra day in New York and took the flight out on Sunday.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

This Angel can be Adopted

This little angel just won't let me go.  I saw her on Reece's Rainbow and she is so beautiful.  She has arthrogryposis that affects her lower limbs.  She can't walk, but can crawl.  Her birth date is February 2006.  I'm just so in love with her and hope to spread the word about her so that she can find a home of her own. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Change of plans

Charlie and I were both going to pick up our boy, but airline fare have risen so much that we decided that only Charlie would go.  It would have been great for both of us to go and back each other up because that 24/7 parenting can be tough especially if there is a language barrier.  On the other hand it'll be great for Charlie to have some time with him before he has to go back to work.  I'm a little sad that I won't get to see Moscow.  I was really looking forward to it.  Oh well, those are the sacrifices that we have to make.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Court was pretty intimidating, but we got through.  In Stavropol court is a two day process.  On day one Charlie and I met with the judge by ourselves.  (Well also the translator, the lawyer, the court reporter--taking taking hand written notes-- and the representative from the Ministry of Guardianship.)  She questioned very thoroughly about our finances, motives for adopting, how we would care for Little Bit, and what we would do if we got tired of him.  The whole process took about an hour.

The second day was much less involved for us.  Mostly we re-answered questions from the day before, although she did ask a few new ones including did we plan to have any more children.  (Umm, maybe?)  the about half a dozen other people spoke: the orphanage director, the representative of the Ministry of Guardianship, the representative of the Ministry of Education, the lawyer.  Thing that we were most worried about was what the prosecutor might ask.  However it was the Friday of a holiday weekend and pretty much everyone wanted to get the holiday started.

After hearing all of the information presented the prosecutor said that he had no questions and recommended that the petition be grated.  After a short recess the petition was granted.

Yippeee!  Oh frajelous day, calloo calay!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

We see Little Bit

On Monday morning we got to see Little Bit.  As we climbed up the stairs his group was passing us, although I didn't see him.  All of a sudden I heard, "Mama!"  I don't know if someone pointed us our or if they had just shown our pictures to him lots, but it felt great.  We played well for most of the visit, but he get tired.  He is speaking so well and gets frustrated that we don't understand him. 

Our visits over the next few days had varying degrees of success.  He like his routine and the activities at the orphanage, but he also wanted to play with us.  I think he is also very scared.  He's been told he wants to be adopted and he wants to be, much in the same way that a child who's never been to Disney World wants to go.  It sounds great, but he has no idea what that really means.  On the other hand, his whole life is at the orphanage.  Poor little man.

Visa Debacle

On Wednesday the 21st of April we still had not got our visa and we were leaving on Saturday April 24th, so on Thursday I called the office of the company that was processing our visa.  The visa had not been issued yet, we were told, but it would be today and they would over night it so we would have it on Friday.  Thursday evening we received another call.  We were informed that the visa had been issued for the 26th instead of the 25th.  With that visa we would not be able to get into the country.  OK, on Friday they would have the visa fixed and overnight it to us.  We could go to the Fed/Ex office and pick it up we would have it by 9:00 am so we could leave by 1:00 pm for the airport

Friday was very tense as we finished packing, pick up my parents from the airport and checked in on the visa.  throughout the day we kept hearing, "No it has not been issued yet."  The consulate closed at 6:00 pm with no visa issued, but we were told not to give up hope, they were still working on it.  (What?  Who??)  This is the only time in my life I have actually fallen to my knees in prayer:  Saint Joseph, who loved his foster son, intercede for us, so that we can go and get ours.  After much yelling and screaming we finally got the scoop.  The visa had been issued--- for the 27th of April.  What are they kidding?  How do you mess that up twice?  Ludmilla, they agency rep we were working with had a plan.  If we could get to New York on Saturday, she had someone who would come in and reissue the visa.  She would then drive to the airport and hand deliver them to us.  We quickly scrapped our flights and re-booked.  Everything was set and we only had to see if everything would work.  (At this point I was pretty doubtful.)

Everything went off without a hitch, and we actually arrived earlier than we would have on the other flight.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Are these your children?

The author of one of the blogs that I follow (Smile and Trials) occasionally provides respite care for families struggling with their adoptions.  One of these families has decided to disrupt their adoption and is looking for a new home for these kids.  There are two siblings.  The brother is 10 and the sister is 12.  I'm hoping that by putting the word out a new family can be located. 

You can read more about these kiddo and contact Christine Reed at her blog:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Some Planes are in the Air

I just checked Delta's flights and they have a flight in the air to Schipol (where we are flying on Saturday.)  Pray God that airports will stay open.

Some Sewing Done

I have finished my petticoat and Pookies bonnet.  In addition, some nice soul offered some outfits for Little Bit.  We're moving right along.

The Volcano that is Ruining My Life

Pretty, isn't it?

Yesterday it looked like airports were going to reopen today in Europe, but this morning report are that another cloud of ash is headed at the continent.  Newly opened airspace may close again.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Please excuse my spelling.  Blogger has removed the spell checker from the editing tools, and while I can spell, I'm not a great typer.

Completly Freaking Out

I've been ok throughout the Torry Hansen debacle.  Concerned and following it closely, but alright.  But this volcano in Iceland is about to do me in.  All the court dates in the world won't help me if I can't get to Russia.  I am so scared that the ash will slow us down and then Russia will decide to close things down. 

Last week a volcano in Iceland began to erupt and has produced such a thick cloud of ash that it has close down most air travel in  Europe.  I believe that some flights are resuming to today, but as the volcano continues to spew ash I don't know when regular flights will resume.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What a roller coaster today was.  It started with reporting that Russia had susspended all adoptions to the US. Andri Nesterenko, a memeber of the Russian Foreign minstry announced that the suspension was necessary for the US and Russia to sign a bilateral treaty "to moniter the living conditions of" Russian adoptees in the US.  Charlie called the agency and they said that all was still well and if anything changed then they would post it on the website.  By lunch, reports were stating that a shutdown was just a rumor.  The Minsitry of Education, which oversees adoptions was unaware of a shutdown. 

Meeting are scheduled on April 20th between the US and Russia to discuss the situation.  I'm not certain how will these will go.  One element of the treaty that Russia want included is the ability to prosecute American who commit crimes against these children.  (Russian adoptees reteain their Russian citizenship until they are at least 18.  Therefore Russia would like to seek justice for its minor citizens.)  I don't think that will happen, but with this adminstration you just never can tell.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Our Adoption is Safe

We contacted our agency on Friday and asked if in light of the Torry Hansen sacndal, if our case was still progressing.  Our case worker said that they had gone over all of the agencies pending cases and they were all safe.  I don't know what the case will be for others who are not as far along, though.

Sewing Again

We are geting ready for our fist re-enactment of 2110.  I'm working on making sure we all have two sets of clothes.

 I've also been reworking my green dress since I finally figured out that the resaon it didn't look good was that it was way too big.  I took the whole thing apart, which made me literally sick to my stomach.  The bodice is back together and on the waistband.  I have also reset the sleeves and I like them very much.  I pleated the skirt, but it didn't turn out the way I like so I may re-do that.  I am also going to shorten the sleeves as they were too long as well. 

Porjects still to do:
New chemise for me
New drawers for me
Put ruffles on petticoat.  From what I understand ruffled petticoats were not really worn in the 1860, but My dress does not have enough poof at the moment and I don't have a cage.  Most folks will tell you that wearing a hoop or cage while cooking over an open fire is dangerous and since I will be cooking I will compromise authenticity slightly in favor of safety and still get the peroid shape.
Dress for Pookie
Slat bonnet for Pookie
Shirt for Wonder Boy
Pants for Wonder Boy
Nightshirt for Wonder Boy
Nightshirt for Jophus

We bought out tent and have also been deciding where we will all sleep and what we will eat at our events.

Our first big event will be at Greenfield Village in southeastern Mighigan.  It will be Memorial Day weekend. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Blessed Easter to You All

Easter this year was a very moving experience for me.    A couple of years ago we began to attend the Triddum masses which begin on Holy Thursday.  It is a little like running a marathon, but so beautiful at the same time.  Each year I find that I look more and more forward to Lent and Easter.

On Holy Thursday our pastor washed the feet of 12 parish members in memorial of when Jesus washed the feet of His apostles.  Thus our pastor demonstrates his willingness to follow Jesus's example and serve the parish.  This year I volunteered to have my feet washed.  Fr. Mark gently and lovingly washed and dried both of my feet and then kissed them.  It was veryhumbling to see how someone can completely dedicate himself to others, and it was a powerful reminder of how I should be humble and serve my family in my vocation as wife and mother.  At the end of mass the Eucharist is removed from the tabernacle.  We are then asked if we will "remain and pray" with Jesus as he asked His disciples in the garden.  Charlie and I brought the children and then each of us took a turn with the Blessed Sacrement until the church closed at midnight.

On Good Friday we attened the Liturgy of the Passion of the Lord.  It also included veneration of the Cross.  That evening we also watched the Passion of the Christ, a movie I have resisted seeing thus far.  I though I would be sick, but it was good to see such a graphic presentation of what our Lord we through fior us all.

Finally, my favorite mass of the year-- Easter Vigil.  It starts outside at sundown when the new Easter candle is lit.  The choir does an amazing job and several of the readings are sung and chanted.  It makes for such a rich experience.  About one and a half hours into the mass we finally get to the opening prayer (Who says the church doesn't have a sebse of humor, Charlie says.)  This is also when adult and older children get baptized and/or become confirmed.  It is so beautiful!

Easter morning we get up and the children see what the Easter Bunny got them.  This year was extra special becaus ethe weather was so nice.  I don't ever remember such a warm Easter.  We barbecued and then went to the park and played bocce.

Friday, March 19, 2010


"Joy to the world!" says Wonder Boy. We are scheduled for April 30th and will bring Little Bit home in mid May. I am so relieved that I don't know where to begin. The waiting on end had begun to get very hard. I was just saying this morning that it feels like our whole life is on hold. Like we can't plan anything until we have our boy home.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Sometimes I get really tired of of the inevitable "Oh, are your kids still on spring break?" "No they're homeschooled." (I don't have to explain, but I don't want to lie and it seem kind of rude to ignore the question.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Adoption myths debunked

I was reading an article online about an international adoption and there were a lot of really negative comments at the end. They were so upsetting that I thought I would comment on common misperceptions about international adoption

Myth #1. There are tons of kids in the United States. People should adopt those kids. The fact of the matter is that at first we looked at adopting a child in the US. As we spoke the agencies, though, we found that most children that are available for adoption from the foster care system (at least in MI) are over the age of 8. Wonder Boy was 6 at the when we started our adoption journey and he wanted to be the oldest. Adoption professionals agree that it is usually best to keep birth order. In addition, most children in foster care enter because of abuse and neglect. We weren't certain that we were equipped to parent a child with those challenges. Not every family is right for every child.

Myth #2. People are buying babies. No. No. No. Adoption is expensive, no doubt, but we have not been buying a baby. We have paid our agency for their expertise. We have paid our homestudy agency for a homestudy and associated paper work. We paid our driver and translator. We paid our in-country coordinator. We will pay court fees. We have paid notaries and appostille fees. In no way has there ever been a "If you give me $X, I'll get you a baby." Honestly, until we have custody, I will be worried about losing Little Bit. We could still lose him. There are no guarantees.

Has there been corruption? Yes, I am certain there has been, but not by most people.

Myth #3. People don't want to adopt from foster care because they only want Caucasian infants. Yup. That why they are adopting all those Chinese and Ethiopian toddlers.

Myth #4. People who adopt internationally are going overseas because it is easier to get approved. We have been examined by a social worker, physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, the county police, and the state police. We've had child abuse and neglect clearances, blood tests, and an accountant has reviewed our finances. We've had to submit letter from our mortgage company and our health insurance provider. When we go back to Russia we will have to be examined by 8 specialists in addition to all the work our doctor has done. No one is being lax.

Paper work is on its way (again)

Jeny, our social worker got the third round of updates yesterday and said that if everything looked good she would sent it to Russia the same day. I didn't hear anything else from her, so I have to assume that all was good and its on its way.

Trial and Crisis

I've been off of the blog for a few days because in the midst of having to get the new background checks my neighbor has to be hospitalized. She fell walking to my house and was very disoriented. I took her to the urgent care center and they wanted her to go the the hospital. We were at the emergency room for about three hours before I felt comfortable leaving her. This was a really tough time for me because she became very upset with me and eventually called me names and told me to get out and leave her alone. I had to work very hard to let all the bad feeling go and help her in the ways I had promised her. (She did not want to go to the doctor and I had to tell her I would advocate for her and stay with her as long as she wanted and the doctors would let me stay.) Part of the problem was that she wanted to leave and neither I nor the doctor thought that she should do that. By advocating for her, I could not do what she wanted.

She is feeling much better and I have a much better how I can support her now.

It's Maple Syrup Time

The end of February/ beginning of March is a fun time for us around here. This is the time of the year to make maple syrup. Sure, you say. Maple syrup is being made all over the north. We do it in our backyard, though. It started a few years ago to a metropark where they were demonstrating how to make maple syrup at their "Sugar Shack." (Which to me sounds a little suggestive.) A park employee said that they sell the spiles (taps), so we bought a few thinking what the heck? That year we made about maybe 2 quarts of syrup. Last year we made nearly a gallon.

How to make maple syrup. (It's easy, really)
1. Tap trees
2. Collect syrup. We empty gallon water jugs and punch a hole in them. At the end of the process we recycle.
3. Boil the sap. Last year we used an outdoor, double burner propane stove. We're going to try to save a money this year and use wood. It takes 32-40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. That you are doing is reducing the water content and caramelizing the sugars. Do not do this inside. It can peel the wall paper off the walls. Don't ask how I know that.

Ok, really, there's a little more to it that that, but not a lot.
Massachusetts Maple Producers Association
How to Tap Maple Trees and Make Maple Syrup

Monday, March 1, 2010

You've won't believe it (part 2)

today was going really well until about 4:00 when I ran home to check my e-mail. We are now being asked to do whole new police reports. Ok, except that the processing time is 3-5 weeks to get them done. I actually started crying. Every time I think we are done (and the day was spent with our notary getting the last of the previous documents notarized and apostilled) we get hit again.

We may have to contact our congressman to see his she can get them expedited for us. I've never done anything like that and I'm really nervous.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pinewood Derby

Today is Pinewood Derby Day. Wonder Boy came in 7th out of 13 cars, but his was so great! He made it all by himself (both Charlie and I work really hard to make sure that this is true) and he had a great design.

I am so Proud!

This one's for you Grandma---

Both boys have recently completed a sewing project. And not just a small one. No. They each made a pair of pajama pants! As a matter of fact, Wonder Boy did not want my help at all. I think all i did was insert the elastic into the waist and sew it together, then sew the channel closed.

For those of who don't know me, my mom was a home ec. teacher and I refused to learn to sew from her. This caused no small amount of tension and strife. Sorry, Mom. I learned to sew this past summer when we decided to take up the hobby of Civil War re-enactment. I put myself through a six week sew boot camp where failure is not having clothes to wear or looking like you are re-enacting the life of someone whose clothes all burned up in a fire. Since then I have really begun to enjoy sew as well. i believe when i have a little bit more spare time I'll even learn to knit and crochet.

Apart from a little fun and novelty (what 5 and 7 year old boys can say that they made their own pajamas?-- and just the way they wanted them, too.) my other goal was to actually to begin to teach the kids to sew. Wouldn't it be great if by the time they were in their early teen they could make their own Civil War clothes? Charlie also helps make the clothes, but I'd love to spread it out and make them responsible for their own clothing and research.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Wonder Boy had his First Reconcillation last night. He was very nervous before, even though we assured him that the preist would be very nice, but when he was done he looked very happy. Praise be to God!

He lost another tooth yesterday, too.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Truer Words

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No way to win

I have a neighbor who needs help, and I have no idea how to help her. She is an older lady and has no family close by. Although she's always been a little . . . um . . . different, her behavior is becoming quite alarming. She is forgetting things like the date or where she put things or that we homeschool (something that she definitely knows because we're talked about it many times. She is worried that she will be put in a mental treatment center and will nod off during conversations. I think she could be suffering from from some sort of mental condition like depression (almost certainly), paranoia, or dementia. I'm so worried about her because as with many older people she has a lot of medication and I'm not sure she can remember what she has taken.

I have asked people what I should do and the consensus is that I should contact her family that has a responsibility to help her out. The problem is that I don't have those numbers and I can't get her to give them to me.

I'm really at a loss. Over the past few months I've been seeing her more and more. It's kind of like being sucked into a situation I don't want to be in. Honestly, this neighbor and I have very little in common (religion, views about relationships, philosophy of life). On the other hand, she is sad and lonely and very much needs someone. I feel called to be that person, even if I don't really want to.

If anyone has any ideas, please leave a comment.

Friday, February 19, 2010

You won't believe it

Everything is fine, but . . .

We got a call last night from Jeny, our case worker at Kids to Adopt. She sounded so concerned that for a brief second I was terrified. I had a flashback to that day in September when we got the news that we could not adopt Sweet Pea. The judge is requesting more documents. We need medicals for Charlie and I (I am so embarrassed to even ask the doctor to see us again. I have seen this man every two to three months for nearly a year and a half and I've only been sick once is that time: stress induced hives shortly after we lost our referral.) and a couple of other things. Jeny feels that this is probably the last thing that they will need-- of course I'm sure that she thought that the last time.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Combatting the February doldrums

February is burnout month for students, teachers and parents all over, and we've definitely been feeling it. It's really too cold to go out for very long, so we aren't getting the fresh air that we need. That combined with the stress of waiting for court dates is really getting to us.

To combat this burn out we've had some changes around here.
1. I reorganized the schedule so that we go to the gym in the morning and don't go to school until after lunch. While this is untraditional , it lets we not only workout, but it also give me a chance to work with each child one on one.

2. I just reorganized the playroom/ classroom. As the children get older their need change and so we have to rethink the spaces that they spend time in. I separated the library and school work area. In the last I have sat in the library on the sofa and gone over work with the kids, but there was too many distractions. Now they have a whole area for quite work.

3. We decided to slow down the schoolwork that Wonder Boy is doing. He has always been one grade level ahead of his age. While he is very able to do this level of work from a cognitive standpoint, I think emotionally it was too much for him. In my opinion that is what has caused so much of the school resistance in the past. Now Wonder Boy is working with new materials. We have pared down is school work and will pick up with the second half of Mother of Divine Grace's Third grade at the semester break of next year. He has definitely been fighting me less in regards to school work. I think the quantity of work was just too much for him.

4. Wonder Boy and I have started a huge research project about Superman. It's been really fun and I'm really hoping that Wonder Boy learns that school can be great.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Updates are headed to Russia

All our updates are headed to Russia. Jeny said that we should hear about a court date in the next week or two. We are crazy impatient to get our little man home.

I'm so glad that is done. working on the updates has mentally worn me down. If I have to ask one more person for paperwork, . . . well I don't know what I'll do, but it won't be pretty.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I have a cold. (Snuffle) I didn't want to work out. (Decided to workout anyway) Then my workout gear was dirty. (I scrounged around and found something. ) My shoes were in the car and it was like 17 degrees outside. (Brrrr) Then I found out that my last document wasn't really done. The court won't accept it in the form it's in. (Sidebar-- if all the information is on the document, what does it really matter? We've already been accepted. Why make us jump through hoops?) Pookie and Little Bit need boosters for their chairs in the dining room, and they didn't have the one I like at Target. (Of course not.) It's off to the city hall to ask the assessor for a letter from them- for the third time. (I'm really tired of asking people for stuff.) It's been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Some days are like that.

One Room Schoolhouse

By definition my kids go to a one room schoolhouse, or maybe their school has infinite rooms. I don't know. I do know that for fun this fall I took the kids to Greenfield Village and let them go to school at the McGuffey schoolhouse. Although this happened a while back, the pictures were just down loaded and they are so cute I had to share.
To make things more fun I let them dress in their 19th century clothes. (I did not.)
It was a great day and when it was done the kids asked to go to school at Greenfield village every week. Uh, no.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

We are growing Pookie's bangs out, and they are in that awkward in-between stage. Tuesday she was pushing the hair out of her eyes and I said, "Ah, do you have hair in you eyes?."
"No Mommy, I have eyeballs in my eyes."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Doubts and Temper Tantrums

I've been really struggling with school lately. Mostly because Wonder Boy has been struggling, too. Academically he is doing great, but it is a struggle to get him to go and stay on task. Over the Christmas Break I snapped and realized exactly how draining school had become for me. I told him and Charlie that we had to have some changes if we were going to continue to homeschool. all of my energy and time was being taken up fighting with Wonder boy about going to school. i mean, I don't expect everyone to jump up and down and say "Yippee! Can I do extra lessons, Mom?" On the other hand, we can't have a screaming fit that involves snot, tears and possible breath holding.

Today was another tantrum kind of a day. I told Wonder Boy to do a few things while I got Pookie dressed. When I can back, he was playing with Legos.

"Did you do all your work?"


"Why don't you go do that?"

EXPLOSION "I don't want to go to school. I didn't understand. Growl. Shriek" and on and on until he was sent to his room.

I have to admit I got on line and checked out a few schools in the area. Maybe this little experiment was not working out. Maybe Wonder Boy would be better off in a traditional school.

I was not really encouraged. Finally I decided that I really want him to be educated at home. I know I would hate dealing with the school system and I know really Wonder Boy would too. I like the freedom of of teaching what I think is best. Besides, the issues we are having would not go away if he attends school.

Sigh. That would have been easier.