Saturday, March 29, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
This has been quite a winter, even for Michigan - it seems like we have had more than our share of snow. Of course that is undoubtedly "good" for us - so I'm not complaining.
I took Sergei and Ilya on an after-supper trip to Sears last night and they devolved into a bit of horseplay as we left. When I got my camera out to capture what I thought was really a beautiful snowfall, that was their cue to throw snowballs at ME! Sergei got a good one down the back of my coat and it dripped down my arm and gave me significant shivers!
Note Sergei with typical 14-year-old aplomb refuses to dress for winter - in fact, he was loudly declaring that beginning Monday, they are "allowed to wear shorts" as part of their school uniform. Yahoo!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
That is the way it has seemed for the past few months with Anastasia. Since Christmas vacation when I allowed her to spend three days at a friend's house, things seemed to change subtly with her. I could no longer count on her good behavior. Would never know when she might begin to "lose it"..... When she came to us she was prone to tantrums. Mostly I found that ignoring them was key, and giving her tons of attention and love the rest of the time.
But now the tantrums came back into her vocabulary. And now older, they are worse and more disturbing. Add to this that Anastasia has an iron will. No one will ever vanquish her; I am confident that she would allow someone to kill her rather than let them subdue her. What a wonderful trait, if used correctly, but when used to defy mama and papa it is terrifying. It became clear, when we finally had to resort to it, that spanking was not going to work. In fact, it was like throwing gasoline on a fire. We had some rip-roaring miserable, out-of-control events, let me tell you. I found that ignoring her (or pacifying her by setting her in front of TV) were about the only ways to stop the acceleration.
Last week I took to walking around praying fervently nearly non-stop for an answer to what was wrong. I believe that God has given me some glimpses. Thank you, Lord.
Coincidentally, and ashamedly, I think it stems in part from what I revealed a couple of posts ago. I am a bit of a "disorganized mom". The whole structure of three meals a day is not all that important to me. If I am on a roll working, and no one asks for lunch (particulary when they have gotten up late and eaten breakfast at 10 or 11) I don't bother to serve lunch. Then, of course, at 4 or 5 they are begging for food, and I am insisting they hold off until dinner. This is not an all-the-time thing, obviously, but occurs often on a Saturday or Sunday. These are the days when the kids might sleep in and when I am often overwhelmed by urgent church work.
Well, this Saturday, instead of just whining or nagging or being annoying (or, as is more usual, just having an apple or some bread - fruit and bread is always available for the hungry), Anastasia went into tantrum mode....but what she was yelling is "You don't love me! You don't feed me!" Those words went right to my heart. That was the clue I needed.
In her paperwork is the record of the court hearing when Anastasia's mother lost custody of her children. We were told by the social worker in Ivanovo this was rather a "famous" case, and was even covered in the newspaper. According to her, the children were found living in an abandoned house, and eating from garbage cans, or from handouts. Over the years, honestly, I had begun to doubt the truth of this. For one thing, Anastasia swore it was not true. She said they were just "playing" in the other house. The only time I wondered was once when we drove past a building where someone was standing looking into a big dumpster and from the back seat I heard Anastasia comment, "You can find good things in the garbage." then a little quieter, "I shouldn't have said that." And she wouldn't say any more about it.
But I suddenly have realized that for Anastasia, my being casual about feeding her, translates to not loving her. I feel heartsick for having given her this anxiety. I said a few things to her about this, and also immediately began to be far more physically affectionate with her. I realized in doing so, that her frequent tantrums had actually been making me feel less affectionate toward her, and that things were probably beginning to spiral downward partly because of this. I also think that though she begs to go spend the night with friends, that when I allow her to go it frightens her on some level, that I "give her up" that easily.
Since I have been more "nurturing" food-wise, and more cuddly with her, she has begun in the last day or two to articulate what was in her heart. "I thought you didn't love me so much anymore." "I thought you loved daddy more than me."
The "daddy" issue is a big one. Her biological mother's abandonment of Anastasia was always due to her going off with a man, so Anastasia is not comforted by loving parents so much as threatened by it. That is to deal with another day, I think, when she is older and better able to understand. For now, I will become more of what I am - the protective mother and there will be no more overnights. I will also become as well as I can, what I am not. The organized mother, at least in terms of food-supply, because for Anastasia some things are more than they seem.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
What a miracle it was when we met our Zhenya! Tomorrow is "Zhen Day", the third anniversary of Zhen being a Kitching. I am so grateful for this photo. Although I always carry my camera with me, I was so overwhelmed by this whole experience that I never even took a photo of Zhen when we first met him! Our coordinator in Ivanovo, Irina, took this one, to my everlasting gratitude.
The way we met Zhen was a bit startling. We had hosted Sergei for a summer program, so this was our first trip to Russia - our court trip for Sergei. I was SO exhausted! I think it would have been a little easier if I knew no Russian - but as I know some, I was straining with every bit of my being to understand everything being said. In addition, I had finally arrived at this land of my dreams....though I majored in Russian in college, I never had gotten to go there. So every moment was there to be lived to the fullest. "Heightened awareness" doesn't even begin to describe it!
I really didn't know what to expect. Months earlier, our agency had suggested that it was always "safer" to get INS permission to adopt 2 - just "in case" there was a surprise sibling or best friend. Well, that piece of advice certainly opened up my sense of possibility...and I said that maybe we would be interested in meeting a second child.
Now, here is what I envisioned - that we would be there in the orphanage and my soft-hearted husband would see some adorable child and would suggest this idea himself. For that reason I hadn't really mentioned to him the concept of adopting two. I had no idea that we would be OFFICIALLY meeting a second child - and certainly not within the first hours of arriving in Ivanovo, after an all-night train trip preceded by an overnight flight!
I will never forget the wild-eyed look in Craig's eyes as the translator explained that we would first be taking care of "the business about the second child". I actually went into panic mode myself. I had begun to wonder what we were doing by adopting ONE! I'll never forget that car trip - the wild driving, through these completely strange and unknown streets in the company of two extremely serious Russian ladies (had not yet tuned into that aspect of the Russian character), in a state of being that passed both mental and physical exhaustion.
At least we weren't offending Irina and Galina by being too jolly ourselves. Craig was probably in shock. I have never in my life prayed more fervently for God's will to be done! We went to the MOE (Craig every so often throwing me a "what have you done??" look) We signed all sorts of papers committing us to things we didn't understand regarding a child we hadn't seen. Then we were driven to #2, and placed in the director's office where you see us in the photo. They brought in this little boy. I will never forget how adorable he was, dressed in a little outfit with navy shorts and a matching white shirt with a little tie. White knee socks and turquoise patent leather sandals. My heart swelled until I though it would burst. There was no way to pour out the love and motherly feelings I had for this little guy.
A doctor came in and gave us all sorts of information about him, only child of a deceased single mother, making him sound like a child about to die from consumption (he actually spent three months after that in a TB hospital). They had in hand a three-inch-thick pile of medical records and x-rays. But, he didn't seem sickly and, indeed, when he took us out to look at the playground, he showed us how fast he could run and how high he could swing. Then he put his hand in Craig's as we walked back in.
We were only there for twenty minutes or so. When we got back to the hotel we prayed and fell asleep exhausted with all our clothes on in the middle of the day. Craig was not at all sure that we weren't in the hands of criminals of some sort....and anyone who had adopted from Russia will understand this first impression - we'd already handed over an envelope containing $7,000 to a stranger in a side street in Moscow.....and we'd not even seen Sergei! We agreed to keep praying, and after we saw Sergei, we'd re-think this "Evgenii" situation.
Later that day we saw Sergei again (and what joy that was!) We continued to pray, talk, sleep. And we decided that we would go visit Evgenii again. But when we asked to do that we were told - too bad! All the children had just left for the country. I have to credit my husband with amazing faith. He was quite convinced at that point that were were being scammed. But he agreed to continue in the direction that it seemed God was leading.... And an appropriate nine months later! we went back to Russia for our Zhenya.
Zhen has been such an amazing blessing. He is a robust little guy - who has never been sick a day since he came to live with us! Yet he has memories of many hospital stays in Russia. Zhen does everything vigorously - bathing, eating, dressing, playing. I love his energy. And he is one of the most loving and affectionate people I've ever met. He fills my heart up with hugs and kisses every day. He'll give me a big kiss and exclaim "You are the best mommy I ever had!" I don't even know if he understand all that that means, but it means the world to me!
Thank you, God, for our Zhenya!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I chanced on a blog the other day where someone was querying whether or not she ought to be the mother of a large family as she was not a social person. For some reason her self-analysis made me immediately think of my own major flaw as mother of a [moderately] big family.
I am not very organized. At least not in the housekeeping line.
Why the photo of the Walgreen's 24 Hour Pharmacy? you may find your self asking. Well.... I took this photo on Wednesday morning at 5:35 a.m. And why was I there at such an hour? Why, indeed? No; not an emergency, at least not the sort of emergency an organized mother would imagine. This was MY kind of emergency - no bread! In fact, not only no bread - no juice boxes; no chips; no cookies. In fact, all I had ready for school lunches was sacks, baggies and carrot sticks. Buying these items at the Walgreens, and at that hour of the morning, is embarrassing, frankly.
However, having to do it TWICE in one week is more so - and I will now admit - I had already been there on MONDAY.
Please be kind. I know what you are thinking, but churchwork requires me to work all day Sunday...and much of Saturday. However, the organized mother, knowing she would be at church all day Sunday would of course, plan a shopping expedition at some point on Saturday. Not me, though!
I am also a disorganized housecleaner. And while I have certainly seen worse, my house is not always at the level of cleanliness, I'd like to see. And, the way the cleaning gets done has a haphazard oddness about it the just seems wrong (as Sergei would say). For example, Anastasia hates to be alone in the bathtub so rather than just sit in there and keep her company the other night, I used that time to scrub the bathroom floor and clean the toilet! I scrubbed the kitchen floor the other morning while waiting for the coffee to perk. Though I must say that that had the double benefit of my being only partly conscious as I did it.
I am capable of organization! When I put together activities and programs at church I have to be organized. I just really don't know why I don't put some of that energy into the work I do around the house. But I don't. Maybe the next step is to figure out - why the heck not????
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I was walking through the school today when my eye fell on this picture. The hall was decorated all up and down both wings, with pictures the children drew to illustrate the "Virtue of the Month" - this month, thankfulness.
Most of the pictures were of animals, or nature, or toys, pets, treats of all sorts - this was the only religious presentation I saw - and was I proud!
What a dear and loving boy my Zhen is - I was really impressed that Lent and Holy Week are making an impression on him.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
She didn't understand what the story was about, but she heard the money mentioned. Funny thing when to the whole family money = adoption.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Turns out that our Ilya has an unexpected talent - he can make the best fried potatoes I've ever had! I actually had him show me his secret.
He puts the cold potatoes in the hot oil, then he puts the lid on for 5 minutes. Only then does he open it up and turn them. I suppose my fault has been "messing" with them from beginning to end, and not having enough grease, and that not hot enough. Anyway, I think I can do it now!
Last night Ilya was making potatoes to go along with a fritata I was preparing. I had previously fried the onions for the fritata in this pan, and in preparation for his potatoes which he was then peeling, I poured the oil into the pan for him. He finished his potatoes (by the way he completely scorned my potato-peeler in the way only a Russian can, in favor of a plain knife). He surveyed the frying pan, which I had ready for him and informed me with a pained look that it was "no good" - he didn't like the "residue" of the onions in the oil I guess, and before I could tell what he was up to, he had grabbed the pan, gone to the back door and heaved the "bad" grease into the back yard! Well - we don't do it quite that way in this country.....
Still, the potatoes were wonderful, and with luck I can do them this well by myself now. Ilya said he learned to cook potatoes from his grandmother. Thanks, babushka!
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
most clearly in my memory of Hillary Clinton and her loving husband.
I do not understand these photos! Why is this woman standing there? What is she trying to tell us?
I suppose she is trying to say something to the effect of: "He is such a wonderful man, that if I can trust him again, you can, too." But really - presumably she just found out, like we did - how could she have evolved to forgiving and trusting that fast???
But, frankly, my first impression is that she is taking part of the blame, as in, "If I were a better wife, it wouldn't have come to this." or "I guess we are dysfunctional couple; I'm sorry."
On only slightly further consideration, though,my impression boils down to her presence conveying this message: This guy is my meal ticket, and since I am hoping he remains my meal ticket, I will have to pay the price and take the humiliation. In Hillary Clinton's case it seemed to me that she had long ago made a devil's pact to stick with this guy for the political "ride" no matter how personally embarrassing it would turn out to be. And her decision has, it appears, paid off (at least so far.)
Frankly, if this were me, I would still be white hot with rage. Never in a million years would I got to a press conference, of all things, to discuss what is a very personal humiliation. Of course I would forgive him eventually, but the hurt would be too profound to display for all and sundry, and I might even think that it was no one's business how I "handled it", how I "felt" or what I was going to do about it, so to speak.
Am I crazy? Inappropriate? WHY do these women do this?
Monday, March 10, 2008
"market research" she had a contest and I won!
Saturday, March 8, 2008
I decided to have a regression photo done for Sergei. Curiously, he asked about the possibility of finding some baby photos just at the time she posted this, so it seemed "meant to be". I ordered one from this place, which actually turned out to be here in Michigan. This week I e-mailed them because it had been so long! Turned out our completed photo had gone into the spam box (I hate the new e-mail system they installed at work....it takes you twice as long to go through the so-called "spam", but if you don't you can miss important messages). Anyway.... Here is our little Sergei.
At first it didn't quite resonate with me. But over the day and a half I've had it, frankly, I've fallen in love with it! I believe they have the face just right. At first I was a little put-off by the clothing. This is not typical Russian orphanage wear! My other thought is that the hair is a little too thick and a little too red. Sergei actually has no red in his hair (and I'm irritated I sent his school photo as one of their models, which oddly makes it look like there is). I think that they can make the adjustment with the hair....but I don't even care anymore!
I keep looking at this picture and I swear it is as if I held this darling little boy. It is SO Sergei to me now.
Curiously, it is just possible, now that we have found Sergei's sister Nadia, that we'll someday get to see a real baby photo of Sergei. And, of course, I can get Nadia's impressions of this photo, too (though she is only seven years older than he is, and she may not really remember what he looked like.)
Sergei's reaction? He didn't like the clothes - not because they didn't have versimilitude - but because they weren't "cool" enough. And he didn't care for the background for the same reason. I had forgotten for a moment he is 14!
Thursday, March 6, 2008
The homemade waffle idea was well-received. This photo is somewhat deceptive because I made these one Saturday morning before anyone was up, to test the "toasting" possibilities. (Yes; they warm up nicely from room temperature.)
I do not yet know if they warm up nicely from the frozen state, because I did not allow for one eventuality: everyone likes the homemade ones so much that even the day I made two large batches, they all got eaten. None to freeze for another day. So, I have realized that considering the time involvement and the fact that so many more are required, frozen waffles are probably more cost-effective in the end. Nevertheless, the waffle iron gets a work out two or three times a week...even occasionally, like today, on a school morning. They are not really that much work.
I am opposed to syrup on general principles. The chief principle being: Nothing in ones home should be sticky.
But we have a variety of other scrumptuous toppings: Greg likes chocolate butter. Anastasia wants butter and powdered sugar. Sergei likes jam. Zhen and I have hit on absolutely THE BEST combination - frozen Cool Whip and mandarine oranges. Oh, my gosh. Beyond good. Try it! And if you don't have the oranges, the frozen Cool Whip alone is good enough to write home about. I think it is something about the contrasting textures and temperatures....but they are surely a great way to start the day!