Thursday, July 31, 2008

WHAT PRICE RUSSIA?


Where have I been, you might wonder. I almost wonder myself.

This week I started a new "job". After probably 30 hours of work, I have earned all of $86! Hopefully things will "look up" in the near future, and I'll make a bit more. What I am doing is talking to Korean people on the phone as their "English tutor". It is rather interesting; I can feel that I am doing a "good" thing - there are opportunities to make someone's day better. But it is a bit of a strain to listen to foreign speakers, and when the student is not available, of course, I don't get paid. Since there are only so many hours in a day, I am trying to do this instead of sleep. 5-7 a.m. How miserable is that? Still. Think Russia!. Theoretically I get $2 per ten-minute class. If I am ever "booked" solid, and the students are actually home and waiting to do the lesson, this might turn out to be the way to afford the trip. We shall see. Meanwhile, the stress and strain to learn all the ends and outs of the reporting and record-keeping has been [I admit it] more trouble than it is worth. (Particularly since I was required to get internet access at home, and that already cost us a significant amount.)

My OTHER wonderful "go-to-Russia" job, is really by way of getting the boys to earn their own tickets. Maxim has been more and more anxious to go to Russia, now that he's discovered his cultural identity. Sergei, of course wants to visit his sister. But, as we all know, these tickets don't come cheaply. SO.... we are doing a newspaper route. Fortunately, it is one of those "shopper" papers - mostly coupons - but it is just a once-a-week thing.
The irony of our doing this is that several years ago Sergei and I did a route together for 5-6 months. When we quit it, I experienced a really unique phenomenon. I realized that I had never in my life felt so profoundly, actively, joyfully grateful for anything as that we weren't "doing the paper" any longer. I'd wake up on Sunday and when the realization washed over me that I didn't have to get up and run through the cold dark, with ink-stained hands, I'd just feel this marvelous glow. I'd end up driving down one of the streets where we'd delivered and a feeling of well-being and release would flow through my body. I couldn't help but smile - I didn't have to do the paper! I didn't have to do the paper!!! So, why - why am I once again "doing the paper?" Super-good question.
Well, one nice thing is that with four boys, rather than just one, I figured that this time all I'll have to do is sit in the car and tell them which houses get the paper, and which to skip. Also, instead of the forced march into early morning darkness on the one morning of the week that most cries out for a lie-in, we get to pick the papers up on Saturday afternoon and deliver when whenever we want, so long as it is before noon.
The first week was tremendously fun and easy. Well. Sort of. Everyone in good spirits. The following week was not bad, though it was pouring rain. Last week was a bit more of a struggle. Ilya had to carry the weight of the "foreman" as he is a diligent worker. Maxim, too, is a go-getter but he has been on Beaver Island with some friends for two weeks. He was sorely missed! But a more difficult challenge was that my van was in the shop, and I could tell that my husband's Bronco was overheating, so we had to park the car and - yes, all of us - do the route on foot.
This week, during the bagging process on the porch, Ilya took offense at something Zhen did and refused to work any longer. Sergei took the approach that if Ilya wasn't working, he certainly wasn't going to - he'd gotten a hellish sunburn the day before, and there was no doubt he was in great discomfort. So Ilya and Sergei went ill-temperedly on their way, leaving me and Zhen.
I refused to fight [much] about it and headed out with Zhen who can be a vigorous little worker....but 400 some papers got to be a bit daunting. We went back and picked up Anastasia and the two of them did their thing for another couple of hours. But Anastasia offended Zhen somehow [snooty remarks about his speed, I seem to recall] and he threw in the towel. So did I at that point, and Anastasia and I finished up on Sunday morning by ourselves.
Well, when our $50 arrives, I know who is not getting their share this week! Does all that disharmony, time and effort sound worth $50? No, I don't think so either. But REMEMBER MOSCOW!


Saturday, July 26, 2008

KITCHEN NOTES

You can probably tell quite a few things by looking at this corner of my kitchen.

You can tell that fundamentally, it is not much of a kitchen!

You can perhaps divine that I love all things Russian....and if you are really sharp, that my "style" is changing from "1920's Americana" to "Russian folk".

You can see that an absolutely dear person in Moscow brought me a coveted breadbox, which fits perfectly and makes me extremely happy whenever I see it.

You can see that my interest in combining colors successfully does not stop my delight in hanging each and every one of my Ivanovo tea towels in a rota, despite the fact that they might not quite "fit" the "decor".

I had a real TRIUMPH in this kitchen last week! Taking the idea from this post, I did a bit of research, and made my own version of "Navy Macaroni". For the first time (ever, probably) I got not a single complaint from anyone and "hoorah's" from all including protestations of "amazing!" from Maxim. If you have Russian or Ukrainian children, I think this is sure to please:

Start by chopping and lightly frying a whole onion (or more - proportion needs to be 1/3 onion to 2/3 meat) I also was sure to use a flavorful yellow onion, rather than my usual vidalia
Add to the onion twice as much ground pork and cook until done through, but not at all crisp or browned. (I also worked with it until the texture was consistent with the chopped onion.)
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, boil macaroni.
When the macaroni is done, scoop the pork mixture over it in bowls. Add a scoop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh parsley on top.

Easy, cheap, delighting the whole family. A triumph, indeed!

Another easy recipe that I more or less made up is pictured below:
I rolled out, and shaped into a circle, a roll of sugar cookie dough (homemade would have been vastly better, of course). I cooked it until golden brown.

When cool I "frosted" it with a mixture of Cool Whip and cream cheese, with a bit of vanilla thrown in, and confectioner's sugar to taste.

On top of that we arranged fresh fruit. Actually, we took the photo, then decided that the more fruit the better and piled it on. We were right!

Friday, July 25, 2008

MY KIND OF DATE

Craig and I were invited to a wedding in Ann Arbor, and had three hours to spend between the liturgy and the dinner....so we had the chance to wander around downtown Ann Arbor - a unique and charming area, perfect for spending a few idle hours.

I realized this was one of those rare times when Craig and I were not only alone, but also when nothing could be pulling at us to "go home".... If we'd tried the same outing closer to home, and without the dictated amount of "free time", I would have felt anxious, a little guilty and always with this cloud of "we really should go" or "we really better hurry up and enjoy ourselves" hanging over me. So - from the point of view of being truly relaxing - this was it!

Also, the photo - I am a person who was born in the wrong century - or at the very least the wrong part of the one I was born in! This little bit of an antique ice cream parlor was just my cup of tea. I wish I could transport this darling little booth into my house somewhere.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

LEARNING THIS LESSON ONE MORE TIME

The way things worked out was amazing, really. The army would not fly Aidan back to Pittsburgh because he had never changed his permanent address. So, he had to come back to Lansing. In a way, that was OK - not knowing when Aidan was going to get home from Iraq, Susan along with Calvin, her sister and mom was in Chicago for a family reunion.

Anyway...it turned out perfectly - Susan and family could fairly easily come through Lansing, on the way home from Chicago, and pick Aidan up. And someone had the idea - why not have Calvin's baptism while we are there? This made perfect sense. Having been married in Susan's church, Aidan wanted very much to have Calvin baptized in his church.

Yes; it all made perfect sense. So why was I dismayed? Well. Because I wanted to make a production number out of this baptism (as my mother might put it). I had already spent many an idle moment (OK - hour) thinking about it. My friends had not been able to go to any of the bridal showers, or the wedding, nor had anyone met Calvin. So, this was going to be my chance to rectify all that. Furthermore, liturgy is my love....and having worked here as baptism coordinator for so long, I have a store of "good ideas" for lovely, meaningful things to do to make a baptismal celebration even more special than the usual (which, comparatively, is already very nice).

So - I couldn't handmake his gown? I couldn't decorate his candle? Make the little bottles of holy water for everyone to take to their homes as a keepsake? Arrange for Lydia to sing? For special people to do the readings, serve as acolytes?

No. I couldn't. We had less than a day to prepare the celebration. And this lesson I had to learn again: substance is more important than style. Perhaps it is good for me to sacrifice the "extras", so that I can focus on what is essential. Seems I am continually being reminded to do it!

After years of daydreaming about my wedding I was married in a black dress from my closet, with only two friends as witnesses. [Simply logistics....All of the people we knew and loved were scattered all over the globe at the time.]

After reading every book and exploring every approach to childbirth - after having worked with midwives, decided on a birthing center....I had a c-section. But then, it was that hospital birth, and the miraculous fact that one of the world's experts on his very rare condition happened to be speaking there that day, that saved Aidan's life.

After finally finding an obstetrician in Michigan who would consider a v-bac, after driving an hour each way to Grand Rapids throughout my pregnancy just so he would deliver my baby, after having worked that entire time with a midwife who was comfortable cooperating with this physician....Lydia went over-term...and again - c-section (in a town a hour from home).

I never had a lovely wedding - but I have a strong marriage, I never gave birth, but I have two wonderful and healthy bio-children (to say nothing about my beautiful adoptive bonuses!)

I didn't get to plan the most exquisite baptismal celebration ever to be imagined, but I have a Christian grandson. Very substantial blessings, even if something of the picturesque was lacking.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

AIDAN'S HOME!

Here he is! Just off the plane, coming to see his mama at the "old homestead" aka "the office", i.e. the church.

Because he never changed his permanent address to Pittsburgh, the army would only fly him home to Lansing, but as luck would have it, his wife and her family is all in Chicago for a family reunion. So, they are coming up to get him on their way home.

Because they will all be here - including Susan's grandmother, Aidan thought tomorrow morning would be a good time for Calvin's baptism... So, I've been arranging it! It won't be the exquisite-in-every-detail liturgy I'd planned, with the enormous celebration afterwards...but it is right they baptize him as soon as possible. Circumstances are reminding me what is important.

We're off to dinner and to visit with Aidan. Happy day!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

BEST GODFATHER EVER


One lovely thing about my work is that I get to know a lot of priests personally. I am SO lucky.
Each of my little Russians has a different priest as a godfather. Anastasia is blessed with Fr. Karl Pung. Father Pung asked me, after he'd agreed to be her godfather, just what we expected. I assured him that he didn't need to be an "active" godfather - showing up at first communion and confirmation - a yearly baptism card...that sort of thing. Neither he nor I realized that Anastasia's idea of a godfather is someone very actively involved in her life!
This idea came to light after I had repeatedly treated rather casually her many requests to see her godfather. Then, one day she sat at the table, leaning her head on her hand, and sighed, "I hope I see my godfather before he dies." Somehow this awoke me to her state of mind (she was entirely sincere). So, I let Fr. Pung in on the change of affairs. And he came through like a trooper! With many younger siblings, nieces and nephews, he is quick to realize what will be a hit with his goddaughter.
When he was stationed here in Lansing he and she had a monthly "get-together", but now he is in another parish some distance from here and only occasionally gets to town. But he sweetly made a "date" with her for last month and they went out to lunch at McDonald's and then to the bookstore. He brought her a present, too - a pretty holy water font, that came with little bottle for bringing Holy Water from the church and keeping it ready at home to fill the font.
But, here is where our dear Fr. Pung surpasses all others.... He is really attuned to Anastasia's personality, and knew that if her font ran dry, and the bottle was likewise empty, great stress could result. The sort of stress that might even require a trip across town in the middle of the night for Holy Water. So - as you see in the photo - he provided several month's worth of Holy Water.
Something about this just charms me. For one, I am so amazed at his sizing-up of what she needs to feel safe and secure. And, also he is illustrating for Anastasia God's own kindness, generosity and abundant love.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

COPYING

On Sunday afternoon, exhausted, I took a brief nap before Mass. When I woke up this is what I saw. My dear Nastya, sweetly bathed and dressed for church, quietly keeping me company.

Ever since I showed her the photo montage I did of her, she has been even warmer and more loving to me. I think it made a big impact on her somehow that I would have spent that time and effort on something so special for her.

What Anastasia was doing is a bit of an oddity. She is copying a book. She does this on her own volition; she does it well; she does it not in any way obsessively, but she often has a "book going" which she works on in her free time. This is the bulkiest one to date!

When she was with us on her summer vist, just six and barely knew her letters, one of the reasons I decided that (despite tantrums) we should take a chance on her, was the fact that she had such a delight in quiet pastimes like this, would sit quietly and attentively doing quiet work for hours (literally) and that she showed such an interest in school work. It seemed clear to me that she has it in her to be a good student, and if you can do that, it goes a long way toward childhood happiness, I think. In that first visit with us, she took a list of my 100-some catechists and copied all their phone numbers. Since then she has copied many a children's book, Bible story, piece of junk mail - just about anything that comes her way. I have never heard of anyone else doing this, but it seems to be an activity that gives her satisfaction.

Anastasia did turn out to be a good student; she is a self-starter; she'll sit down with appetite to her homework each night. Oh! Would that even one other of my children had this trait!

Monday, July 14, 2008

COURT


This is where Maxim and I spent the afternoon. Oakland Country Court House. We had a very, very long awaited VICTORY!
When Maxim came to the United States an error was made on his birth certificate, giving the year of his birth as 1990 rather than 1992. For obvious reasons, he did not understand for a number of months that he was considered to be two years older than he actually was. And when he did say something about it, the official documents contradicted him.
The very first thing Maxim wanted to talk about when I first met him was this age issue. I can imagine that at his age it IS huge.
Well, it was becoming huge to us, too. My husband, the coach, realized that Maxim would not be allowed to play sports his senior year in high school, for one thing. For someone as athletic and sports-minded as Maxim this would be a catastrophe. Furthermore, I was surprised to find that we did not get as much back in taxes this year as we'd thought....due to their belief that Maxim was 17 rather than 15. In fact, at his next birthday, the plan was to move him to "Independent Living" rather than treat him any longer as a "foster child".
A lawyer who is a friend, did his best to get his friend, a lawyer in Oakland County to help us out with this. I know he worked on it a bit - as much as one might expect a high-powered corporate lawyer to work on such a case out of the goodness of his heart. But he was hitting dead ends. Finally, and amazingly, Maxim's adoption worker (here in Michigan kids like Maxim have about FIVE "workers" - seemingly no end to them) was the hero here. He stumbled on some way to have a "delayed registration of birth" or something like that, so long as the court would agree.
Not only did we manage to get Maxim's birth date changed so that it is finally and legally correct!! We also got his name changed (can you imagine having to carry around the name of the people who rejected you?) His legal name is now back to his Russian name, and his parents are listed as his biological parents rather than naming the people who rescinded his adoption. I have had him "going by" his Russian name since he came to us, but in the most startling moments the legal name would pop up to haunt us (for example, his medical and dental records have to be in his legal name, as do his final school records).
Surprisingly, the courtroom was as much like the little courtroom in Russia as made no difference...same size, same layout. I would actually have been nervous approaching this, but I didn't expect anything quite so formal, frankly. Maxim was startled, too....particularly as the judge not only asked him about his name and age, but also what he thought about "permanency". I knew this word would not be in his vocabulary, so after he stumbled around a bit, I entered in and used the word "adoption" so he'd catch on. [As regards adoption...things will carry on as they have been.]
He and I had a pretty good day. Despite all that "adoption talk", he kept his cool and didn't blow up. I let him drive all the way home from Pontiac to Lansing and he did a wonderful job. I am just thrilled that everything went our way. (There was actually the suggestion that the waiting time before court should be spent in prayer, so our success was not a done deal.) But it is OVER now! Praise God.
Now we just need to wonder if the error on Ilya's birth certificate will rise up to bite us. His is just one day off - not two years. But with a passport that reads December 8 and a SS# and Birth Certificate which reads December 7 - I am fearful that someone, someday might make a fuss. No idea how to fix that one.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

NEAR DEATH, NEAR TRAUMA


Maxim has taken the "first segment" of Driver's Ed and is now driving with me. He is actually a wonderful driver, I have to admit...far more naturally able than either Aidan or Lydia, and with a better attitude. (Or, I'll say that the attitude he shows me is better.) He claims a dedication to being law-abiding and speed-limit-respecting that is comforting....but I wonder.... Aidan and Lydia, even with me in the car, were always balking at that speed-limit. "Slow Down!" I'd be crying....and that is not necessary with Maxim at all. He is quick, alert, smart, aware. HOWEVER, he is NEW.

Last night I discovered that no one ever explained to him how HIGHWAYS are different than city streets....as in, you do not SLOW DOWN TO A NEAR STOP on a highway. You certainly do not do this in the FAST LANE. It is just by the grace of God that a) the car coming up on our tail was able to brake and pass us, and that b) I did not really see what was happening until after it was over. I was too busy yelling, "Speed up! You can't stop here!!!" Then Maxim said, "I wish I could talk to that guy and aplogize to him, and explain..." Right. That guy was probably on his way to the cardiac unit. However, now Maxim knows! One thing I don't have to worry about!

Meanwhile, earlier in the day we had a near miss in the trauma department. We have a sweet little old neighborhood, with the tree-lined streets, friendly neighbors and flower gardens. A good friend, who is a kindergarten teacher lives a block and a half down, and she has a three year old daughter. She lets Anastasia play with Natalie when she is there to supervise. So Rosemary was in the yard to see what happened. Anastasia was pushing Natalie in the stroller when a man approached them and started talking to Anastasia. Anastasia, I guess, taller and trying to understand what he was saying in his drug-induced slur, was looking at his FACE. Meanwhile, poor little Natalie, was at CROTCH LEVEL... Rosemary, too, looking up and running over got the disgusting vision of this guy fondling himself in front of these two little girls. When Rosemary called Craig (I was at work) he said he could hear Natalie crying "What was he doing???? What WAS that???" As far as we can tell, Anastasia didn't see anything. I hope not. But our sense of the sweet calm of a summer aftenoon is certainly not what it was.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

REAL

One of my favorite quotes - and I really do not recall where I read it is: "The truth about any of us would shock all of us."

Courtney recently suggested that we [bloggers] "get real". As Courtney is one of my most-respected blog friends, I am considering the idea.

But, then I think. How real? And - Aren't I real now?

The answer is - I don't know. I have recently realized that we human creatures even find it difficult to be "real" before God - whom we cannot, of course trick or fool. On one hand we know He knows everything there is to know about us....yet, on some deep level, we think we can withold things from Him. We can see this pattern in the story of the Fall. Adam and Eve hear God coming and HIDE. I have meditated on this image this past year, as a way for me to encourage myself to dig deeper. I have found that when I hide things from God, I am also hiding them from myself.

So.... sorry to say, I will undoubtedly also be hiding them from my blog-buddies. Not that I set out, ever, to give a false impression. I think that I do choose to provide either a humerous, or at least droll, look at any situation. But that is honestly the way I am seeing things at least 95% of the time.

OK - the other 5%I am lying on the pile of dirty laundry in the laundry room crying. (How's that for real?)

But. I am probably being too literal with this "real" stuff. Undoubtedly, fellow bloggers are not wishing to hear my confession. Not in the truest Catholic sense of the word, anyway.

Just one more level down, perhaps. Just a few less tasteful bits of life as I know it.

So, in addition to the vision of my crying on the dirty-laundry pile (a place that I have found just perfect for self-pity since I was 4 or 5 years old) I'll see if I can think of a few more "real" images for your edification:

MY ENVIRONMENT: Shortly after he arrived with us in September, Ilya asked if he could weed the back yard. Or, so I thought. He indicated a flower bed that, indeed, seriously needed weeding, and asked to go at it. I happily agreed and then I went to work for 3 or 4 hours. When I arrived home again, it was as though a nuclear blast had taken place in our back yard. Formerly, an overgrown sort of "secret garden" sort of place, my yard now appeared as a wasteland. How he managed to transform that green wilderness (courtesy of a fast-growing vine and - yes, quite a few weeds as well as invasive flowers (watch out for Rudbekia) - into a flat brown desert is beyond me. Except that he is not only one amazing worker, he is a leader of men, and had enlisted Sergei and Zhen into his crew.

They took down my raised beds and threw the stones in the back. They tore up every green thing. What to do with the statue of Mary? They placed her in the center of this denuded area and set all the lawn chairs around her in a circle. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. However, I settled on laugh, however ten months later, this is what I still have out there....except for the few hardy weeds which have grown back. Add to this charming picture - the dog goes out there. I love a beautiful environment. I don't entirely live in one. In my "home tour" there are a few bright spots but embarrassing ones galore.

MY INABILITY TO STOP THE SMOKING: Not only is Maxim back smoking, in his efforts to "fool me" (so I believe) into thinking he quit, he encouraged Ilya to smoke more - much more. I really do not know what to do about this. They do not want to stop. I think Ilya might have stopped on his own, but Maxim is not one to be denied (easily) and he clearly wants Ilya to smoke. They will sneak out late at night to hunt for "good" butts down at the dairy store. (Many of the smoked remnants, by the way, end up in my lovely back yard.)

ADOPTION: I would love to adopt again. One more time. But Lydia's move home clearly puts an end to these ideas. With her at home there is no room. Isn't it awful for me to resent this? And all of this is not even taking into consideration that my husband is not with this program. At all.

FINANCES: One of my dear blog friends made reference to adopting again, if only she had the money for the child's college. Well. That made me wince. Sort-of. My view of college is that it is not automatic, or parent-generated. Scholarships sent me to college initially, and a job and some light loans sent me back for my teaching degree. Community college is good. Work is good. Insta-college, as I have observed, is often unappreciated and wasted. So I say all this boldly, while also thinking maybe I am a thoughtless, selfish, "bad" mommy. Also - (being real here) - I'm worried about how you all will view me: "They are going to think we are underclass scum." Actually, even my grandmother not only went to college, she was Phi Beta Kappa and got a Master's Degree at Columbia. But, she earned it herself. So - help here and there, that's all I plan to give.

EXERCISE: All my wonderful healthy, running, blog friends send me into a tail-spin of self-loathing. I used to walk. I love to walk! It is a great way for me to think, meditate, pray, ponder this and that as well as stay fit. I am trying to get back into it - and in fact, have walked at least four days a week for the past two weeks. However, this will not make up for the past couple of years when I have been glued to house and office. I have also realized that BLOGGING is not an entirely good habit, since it takes from my pretty small store of free time. And does not exactly get the heart rate up. For now the blogging stays however, I might be ADDICTED to it.

So, there we are. For now. I will not go into the state of my bathroom cupboard. That is a level of reality to which no one could wish to be privy.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

BAD vs. BAD vs. WORST

Last night after all were (as we thought) in bed, Craig heard the door and exploring, found Ilya out in the garage, with the lid of the gasoline can open. (The can we use for the mower.)

Craig came in to the bedroom and woke me, really upset, he told me he thought Ilya was intending to try to burn the house down. I thought that was a little hard to believe. Why would he? Yet....Lydia's friends had just helped her move her big couch, from her apartment, into the garage....angry at Lydia for "kicking him out" of his room....would he consider trying to burn up her couch? Seems so unlikely.... He's not a bad kid, and smart.... But, he was near the couch.

But I lay in the dark, anguishing - what could Ilya have been doing? Would he really set something on fire??? Then it hit me - he must have been breathing in the gasoline! Huffing? Or whatever they call that! Oh, no! He'll kill his brain cells! What if he is addicted to this? I barely slept. Or, so it seemed.

This morning I asked Maxim about it. He knew right away what Ilya had been doing. "Oh - he was just trying to fill a cigarette lighter he found." How relieved I was - particularly, as Ilya had shown me the lighter - I knew there was some basis in fact, and the pieces fit.

Now - how could this bit of distasteful information - my son trying to fill up a cigarette lighter with gasoline from the container in the garage, so he does not have to continually try to find matches (in addition to cigarette butts) for his smoking habit, be GOOD NEWS! Well, now you know! Clearly better than the alternatives!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

UNAPPETIZING BITS AND PIECES

"Potluck" is too nice a word for it.
THE LACK OF WISDOM shown in letting Lydia have the third floor has had its own punishment. The house is still in absolute chaos. I don't even want to begin to describe it. Let's just say - there is a place for nothing and therefore nothing is in its place. And, I know - you were all right! However, I haven't "undone" it yet as the boys seem to be satisfied, and I rather like to keep a closer eye on them.

Meanwhile:

I GET GREEDY. I decided to talk to the principal at the school regarding my desire for any teaching job that might come open. Now, the "glitch" here is that: should there be an opening, and should she hire me to fill it - financially I must also continue doing my present job - at least most of it. [We are presently in a huge budgetary crisis at work, so this was initially my solution to funding problems....I'll do TWO jobs! Sound reasonable?] However, I do not know if I can do it. I felt like I could, "pre-Lydia"....but now the house is beyond my control, I begin to think I am probably being stupid and greedy. Yet, though the idea didn't exactly start out that way, my desires were aroused! I want to teach! I've always wanted to teach, and the only reason I have not taken a teaching job is - money. Unfortunately.

CRAZY WOMAN: In order to get my certificate up-to-date I have signed up to take a class! On-line. Starting Monday. I needed something else to do, don't you think?

AND, AN INDULGENCE: I have decided to give in to my desire to make a "movie" and am trying to learn "One True Media". My big frustration at the moment is that I am trying to do a collage of Anastasia, inspired by the fact that she has been walking around the house/yard/office singing "This is Me" from Camp Rock. The words seem so appropriate that I got pretty excited about this. However, after hitting a brick wall trying to download the song from the internet, I went out and bought the CD. However, I still cannot seem to upload the song! Very frustrated - especially because I know all the while I work on this bit of fun, that I ought to be: cleaning the house/ making important appointments for eye exams, etc./sending out all the baptismal certificates I owe people/recording first communions and confirmations/making the calendar for next year (should I get a teaching job, I'll need to be very, very ready with my other job.)/exercising/listening to the edifying CDs our family counselor has given us..... which leads me to....

THE FAMILY COUNSELOR: We did, finally, get approved for family counseling. Funny thing is, we've met with her about five times and have barely discussed Maxim, as Anastasia and Lydia have been at the forefront of our "challenges". I do think the counseling will be helpful.

AND FOR FUN I SPEND TIME IN THE CAR: Wonder why I'm not cleaning my house, doing my work, completing my video project or sorting out life in general?

9:00 - Anastasia arrives at Tennis
10:00 - Maxim arrives at Drivers Ed
10:45 - Lydia is dropped off for work
11:00 - Anastasia is picked up from tennis
12:00 - Maxim is picked up from Drivers Ed
2:00 - Lydia is picked up from work
4:30 - Maxim is dropped off for Basketball
6:00 - Maxim is picked up from Basketball.

WEEKENDS ARE TOO FREE! So I think the boys and I are going to do a little paper route...or two. Delivering these little "community" papers is a drag (for mom), but undoubtedly "good" for the boys, and I am hoping we can put the money towards a trip to Russia to see Nadia. We have not taken this job yet, but will go in to talk to the lady on Monday.

AND FOR FUN I take the kids to my mom's pool to swim. Hence, my cheery summer photo, that does not seem to really "match" the rest of the post. If you want to envision my summer, picture me in the van.