Thursday, October 30, 2008

STRANGE GIRL

Just in case anyone doubted me when I claimed my great love of Lev Tolstoy, I took a couple of photos last time I was at my mom's house which will lend credence to my statement, and also illustrate what a really strange teenager I was.

The top photo is my pencil drawing of the great man himself. I remember vividly doing this. I wondered if it would be possible to do a credible drawing, using only vertical lines....so I gave it a shot with Tolstoy. My classmates were undoubtedly trying to find their fake IDs for a night on the town, but I was giving myself drawing challenges. My mother has always been irritated that I just used a piece of newsprint, and I see her point as the paper gets darker and darker.....To the left you will see another of my drawings.... It was summer vacation, and I was watching soap operas, but that seemed insufficient occupation (I was a multi-tasker before it was popular) so I grabbed some paper and tried to draw the photo on the cover of my brother's Sports Illustrated. The challenge that time was to get a black person's skin tone. I guess it was OK - my brother and parents were thrilled (hence its place on the wall all these years) but I didn't know who the player was, and though I have known at some point, I've forgotten again. I just recall that the resulting drawing looked like a black man and I was pleased about that.


This photo is of my drawing of Sophia Tolstoy, the author's wife. The more I know her the more I like her. My sympathies have, frankly, moved from being 100% on Tolstoy's side, to being mostly on Sophia's. (They had some challenges in their very long marriage in the later years.) The little task I gave myself in this picture was doing it all with just India ink and pieces of cardboard (the back of a tablet cut into strips about an inch wide). I was happy with this one, too, because it actually looks quite a lot like the subject.
I think the other thing these pictures illustrate - the most important thing they illustrate, perhaps, is not that I was a fair artist, but that my mother loves me dearly. Imagine! My mother not only had these pictures framed and has hung them on her wall all this time.....she actually developed an interest in Tolstoy, herself....and now her bookshelf is stocked with an obscure selection of biographies of Tolstoy, his wife and his children. I think my mom was as glad I finally got to visit his home as I was!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Our REAL Pumpkin Patch Experience



I read everyone's lovely posts about the sunny, cheerful trips to the pumpkin patch and the happy memories they are creating for their children. I am extremely (overly, I am sure) anxious to have these happy times, and to make the lasting memories. Yet.... I am so bad at it. Or, at the very least, I must expect too much. The experiences that I want so much to have just don't ever seem to pan out the way I want them to. I did take the kids to the pumpkin patch last Saturday....or I took two of them. Anastasia and Zhen were anxious to go. But - this wasn't the family outing I craved!!! Hardly. Maxim will steer clear of anything that remotely looks like a "family" event, so he wouldn't come. Ilya was just being difficult (or so it seemed) and Sergei was in a bad mood because of earlier unpleasant episodes regarding chores...so I suppose he was going to "show me".
But, only slightly daunted, we took off and drove the half hour or so to the somewhat commercialized pumpkin patch. [I'd love to find a legitimate, untrumped-up version of a pumpkin patch....] The kids sweetly posed in a picturesque spot - but of course no matter what I do that picture won't load!
We'd no sooner gotten out of the car than I began to feel that perhaps I wasn't going to have as much fun as hoped for. Gosh! That wind was cold!!! I was rather glad to repair into the "store" part of the place to look at the over-priced what-nots. But, there were some nice opportunities inside - to be specific, the "make your own caramel apple" station. Zhen and Nastya both went for that, and I was glad that I got such a good photo of Zhen's [significant] enjoyment of his apple! Click on the photo to see Zhen's ecstatic expression. :)
I passed on the apple until I heard the clerk suggest her favorite version to someone else - she cuts the apples up, puts them in a bowl and ladels the caramel over the top. I did decide to go that route and was glad I did! What a treat! She recommended toasted cocoanut (which is what Zhen got on his) and that is a really nice taste combination. I sat in the car (wussy that I am) and ate my treat while the kids went on the hayride. I don't know how they stood it because they really weren't dressed for the weather, but they seemed to enjoy themselves anyway. And to my surprise, they brought another hayride participant, a woman about my age, over to meet me. She thanked me for adopting the children, and related that she was in a children's home herself for most of her childhood, never adopted and she was so happy that Anastasia and Zhenya had such a wonderful family. Firstly, I was amazed that they regaled people with their "story" since they rarely bring it up. And somehow this made me feel really guilty for sitting in the warm car eating rather than being a good mother and going on the hay ride with them.
The children then wanted to get a couple of jack-o-lantern tools, so we went back in the store. As they looked around they were begging for dougnuts, real nuts, caramel corn, other pumpkin-carving extras. No. No. No. No. "We came to get pumpkins."
Eventually, Anastasia came up to me with a rock. "Can't I buy this rock? Pleeeease!" "No! Put it back!" Then I looked at it. Why the heck would they be selling this thing? Just a rock. I could see nothing lovely about it. Later I happened on the place where she'd gotten it..... see the photo... They apparently have a landscaping business, too, and were simply displaying the sorts of items gardeners can buy in bulk. Just goes to prove - kids will ask for ANYTHING.
In the end, we had a fairly nice time....but it wasn't the heartwarming, "will remember this day forever" time that I always hope for. I just can't seem to pull those out when I want to. They insist on coming when I least expect them.











Sunday, October 26, 2008

ORPHANAGE JUSTICE, EAST LANSING

My husband's idea of the best way to deal with a bully is to "flatten him, just once" or some such thing. I have also heard this approach suggested by a number of other people of the male persuasion.
Aidan heard it. And didn't heed it. But he didn't have much trouble of this kind.
Sergei hears it and chooses not to heed it. He just lives with the daily torment.

Of course both of them heard me - loud and clear (maybe even shrill)- suggesting that whether or not it worked with the bully, it would do you no good with the powers that be. Of course I suggest more rational approaches - or even irrational ones (like turning the other cheek), but mostly I try to remind them that the rules these days forbid "frontier justice" or whatever you want to call it.

I think Ilya might call it "orphanage justice" and I expect it is still the order of the day in Shuya. Unfortunately it is not acceptable behavior at our nice little Catholic school. As Ilya is learning.

Friday afternoon, unfortunately, he "got into it" with a boy who was either
a) doing nothing at all [the boy's version] or
b) who has for weeks taunted Ilya by calling him names and making vile suggestions, then yesterday pushed his face into the drinking fountain, and in response to Ilya's flicking water at him, attempted to kick him in his private parts. [Ilya's version].

Maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle. Sergei confirms, though, that Ilya is tormented by this boy and a few others on a daily basis. I don't for a minute think Ilya would just attack someone for no reason. However, as I mentioned before, in this day and age you can't get physical with people who are tormenting you. And - of course though I wouldn't recommend this approach I do see that other approaches are useless - which is Ilya's dilemma.

He's told us about this; we've told some of the teachers, and the administration, but bullies don't do their bullying where people in authority can see, after all!

And, Ilya's already under huge stress from just being there all day and struggling to understand English, so I guess being harassed both verbally and physically was too much for him, finally. Though, Ilya also tells us that the boy himself suggested going outside. Perhaps Ilya had the idea that things might indeed be appropriately "handled" outside after class..... But outside the assistant principal's office? No. Bad idea.

Anyway, the result is - he's suspended for a week. Oh! The irony! When my constant and regular, my most vervent prayer and daily effort has been aimed at actually getting him to go to school...now he is not allowed to go to school. I'm awfully afraid that I won't be able to make him go back. I doubt that absence will make the heart grow fonder.

Obviously, among the torrent of feelings and impressions, I'm terribly humiliated by his behavior, doubting very much my decision to have the kids here at the school where I work. How will I be able to work professionally with that family after this? What will I do if Ilya pulls something else? The Asst. Principal even suggested maybe Ilya would need another placement.... Well, I can't think of another placement! Our public school system is absolutely out of the question.... We can't afford any other private school.

Well. I guess it just adds another dimension. A little more flavor to life. :) Lydia just said, "Mom you take this stuff too seriously." So I suggested that she can take care of Ilya next week.

Right now I don't think that Ilya has a very good understanding of the seriousness of the situation. Undoubtedly, coming from a place where such incidents were a daily occurrence, he can hardly expect such a different vision here. Well.... Keep you posted!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

TUESDAY TREASURES

My "Adie boy" - Aidan - spent last week here with us working with his friend to paint our living room and front porch. What a sweet thing for him to do!








And here is his precious little baby, Calvin. A treasure, indeed!














I just couldn't resist adding this one. Cal's eyes are enormous.

ANASTASIA'S ELEVEN!


This photo doesn't do justice to the level of excitement that Nastya generates over her birthday. In fact, "my birthday" becomes such a big deal that we are all sick of it well in advance, and I am anxious lest she end up disappointed. Actually, she most often ends up overwhelmed and tearful, with everyone angry at her. "Too Much" just does that to her. And the typical birthday (however simple we try to keep it) is, for her, too much. Though I do think that this year was easier than previous years.

We had our traditional family party at my mom's apartment. This year, to fit into everyone's schedule, it was brunch....a "meaty" brunch with birthday cake. I actually took this picture of her as she enjoyed the wide expanse of soft carpet in my mom's living room while the food was being prepared. Anastasia was so touched that my mom made her a birthday cake. Every time a birthday is coming up my mom claims that she won't be making a cake this time...but so far, she's come through.

Friday, October 17, 2008

WORLDWIDE FINANCIAL CRISIS


Like everyone else, I suppose, I am paying attention to the financial news....well a little bit. (My daughter Lydia's discalculia comes naturally, after all.) Never before, though, have financial ups and downs really resonated with me. On the radio they keep talking of previous recessions, yet I don't recall those situations having any practical impact on me at all.

Things are different this time. My own impending lay-offedness may seem to have nothing to do with the economy in the larger sense...but who knows? Another priest friend of mine [who I think was going out of his way to not give me any false hope] pointed out that our new Bishop just laid off some people in the Diocesan office. Completely for financial reasons. This is the first year our Diocese has not made their service appeal goal.

And the financial situation hit me in another way this morning. One of my favorite Korean students, my only high school student (the rest are adults) very sadly told me that today was our final class. Apparently his parents are under financial stress and in an effort to cut back, had to tell him he could no longer have English classes. I was really distressed! I surely don't care about the $2 a day I get for teaching him. And as far as that goes, they will slip some other person into that slot. But I really, really enjoyed this boy. He has come along so far and so well with his conversational English, for one thing - I really saw progress! And his enthusiasm and dedication to learning English has been really impressive. Yet he is a normal boy, too. We had a fun conversation about why he [like my boys] thinks that playing on-line x-box games all night is the height of entertainment.

I am glad that I was able to think beyond my, and his, disappointment. I'd been reading about the enormous emphasis Korean parents put into their children's education. In fact, I read that many families will pay 50% of their income on school and extra classes. (This boy already attends a boarding school during the week.) Clearly his parents value his education. He is such a sweetie that I know they would give him English lessons if they could. That's why my mother's heart kicked in, and I told him how grieved they must be to deny him lessons. I asked him to thank them for the lessons he'd had already.

A couple of weeks ago I called another student of mine, a salesman for a computer monitor company - and another "favorite". When he answered the phone he sounded seriously different than usual. His ordinary greeting is something along the lines of "Hi, Chicken dance!" (Our conversation about American wedding customs stuck with him.) So, this quiet, despondent tone was disturbing, even alarming. And as I asked him how he was, I realized my first instinct was right - he was discouraged. This current financial situation, he told me - "bad for my company"; "very bad for me". He is Catholic, and to my relief our financial conversation led to religion and to "Catholic vocabulary" words. But I was concerned about him, and almost dreaded calling him the next day. But that morning he seemed to be over the worst of his despair and worry. In fact, he was at his family's cottage in the mountains. He was there with his entire family - mother-in-law, wife, sister and brother in law. They were doing their annual KimChee making day. He told me all about how they pick and chop the cabbage, the making of the sauces, the preparation of all the ingredients, and how all the family members work together to make KimChee for them all for the year.

The vision of them doing this was, of course, fascinating and informative, but comforting, too. Even for the driven, competitive, financially savvy businessman of Seoul there is healing in family, in tradition, and in the most simple things of life. As we concluded the call he told me happily "Next year my boys [he has sons who are 4 and 6], they be old enough to make KimChee too."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

ZHEN'S DRAWING


I just love this picture. Zhenya is such a wonderful artist for his age. Look at the detail! The waving grasses at the bottom of the lake, the little fish jumping... Sorry, I think I'd love this even if one of my children hadn't done it, but this is so illustrative of a sweet aspect of Zhen's personality. He just loves animals. And he has a wonderful way of seeing things.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

COMFORT?


There are several priests who I just love. I've had the joy of working with them here in the parish, and have been blessed to have these men in my life, and in the lives of my children. (Each of my adopted children have a priest as their godfather.)

Anyway, one of these dear men (now stationed in a far-distant parish) seemed to not believe me when I explained how this parish merger was resulting in my losing my job. He insisted on talking to our present pastor himself. Afterwards, he was clearly upset. He expressed in an e-mail to me how he thought things should be handled differently. Apparently, he realized that he had not been of too much comfort, and he e-mailed me again:

I am certain that God is going to be faithful to you who have been sofaithful to Him. Do not be afraid. and he went on to be way more complimentary than I deserve: Your life's work has been a beautiful fragrance rising before thethrone of God. Your life's work has been to sow many seeds (and even reap some fruit) of the Gospel. How many children, and so many others have been touched by the Holy Spirit through your work? Eternity will be endless reflection on the mystery of what God has done with so many through you.




The point of sharing that, though, is that I showed it to my colleague (also headed for the guillotine) and we both had the same response (thank heaven we have a sense of humor, too): This sounds just like what you'd write to someone who just got the fatal diagnosis!




And, honestly, his kindness did take me one step futher into realizing that it seems like my life really is likely to change. If he'd gotten the impression that everything was going to "be all right" he certainly would have told me so (rather than doing the retrospective!)




In a previous post I revealed how I am struggling with this realization. This week, though some tears, and actual fear-inspired nausea, I went a little further yet. And, I know there is still further to go. What a painful year this will be!




What I can't quite get over is the feeling that they ought to just TELL US. Since the new pastor knows all the present staff both in his own parish and here, surely he has a very good idea of who he wants to work with. JUST TELL US. False hope is crazy, but so is spending all this time agonizing over the various possibilities. I am getting quite close to deciding to ask for a meeting with this "pastor to be". I want to ask some basic questions (and can you believe that these things have not been shared with us?)




1) If new job descriptions are ready in January, when will interviews and decisions be made?
2) Are there going to be national searches for these positions?
3) Is there any advantage/disadvantage for present staff in the hiring process?
4) Would a present staff member applying for a position in the new parish have any hope of receiving the salary to which they are accustomed?

Really, I just want to ask - if I was your sister, what would you advise me to do?




What do you all think? Does it sound inappropriate to ask these questions?




Meanwhile, our present pastor told us all to sign up for a day-long workshop:


Being Pastoral Agents of Change. Frankly, give me a break! I'm supposed to go learn to be enthusiastic about losing my job? And, as far as being "pastoral" - apparently they are not interested in my being pastoral anymore. I really do not get it.






Tuesday, October 14, 2008

IN LIEU OF A FIREPLACE...

Sergei grabbed the vent in the living room
This morning was a bit crisp. The children all came down with anxious faces asking if the heat was on. Yes, indeed! So....just as children long ago gathered 'round the fire, my little ones gravitated to the heating vents. How romantic is that? Not very, but the effect is nearly as comforting.

Sometimes Craig will want them to get away from the heater and up to the table, but somehow I just don't mind this. It IS hard to get up when you are feeling chilled...so a glass of hot tea and some warm air seems to me not to be a bad start to the day.

Friday, October 10, 2008

PHOTO CHALLENGE

Tami passed on a challenge, and I thought "why not?" The challenge is to post the sixth picture in the sixth folder in your photo files.

Mine turned out to be a decent one. I was glad. This is from the few days we had with Anastasia on her hosting trip to the US.


It was interesting how we ended up with Nastya at our house. We'd adopted Sergei in spring, 2003 and then Zhenya in spring, 2004. I'd teased Dana at our agency that if she had "any spare girls" from the hosting program that summer to keep me in mind! She assured me she wouldn't as only a couple of girls were coming and they were definitely spoken for. But - surprise! - I got a call mid- program from Dana that one family was having problems with their little girl, and would we like to meet her. Well.....yes..... Zhenya wasn't even speaking English yet. It did seem a little soon, but of course I said yes! The family and I agreed to meet at a McDonalds so the kids could play. She and her husband had adopted two older boys previously so there were boys to play with my boys. Of course, Anastasia was adorable to look at and very sweetly behaved at the restaurant. The mother said, however, that she had been very difficult, defiant, angry; she would not do as they asked, refused to make her bed, use the bathroom, etc. As I was supposed to simply meet her, I was stunned when we left the restaurant and this mother started putting Anastasia's few bags in my van! Apparently she was done with her! I hestitated - I hadn't even got a room ready - but this woman clearly did not want Anastasia back in their home. Well, she seemed adorable to me, so I didn't demur too much. Dana wasn't very pleased that the handover had occurred without consultation with her, but of course she figured we were a great place for her.


This photo was taken just as we arrived home. I had Anastasia go with me and the dog we had then, to the park. That is why she is wearing make-up! She "came" with it. (I am not one to let little girls wear make-up in public!) While we were at the park, Lydia made up her bed and got things ready for her.


Then the excitement began. We got off to a good start, actually. I could see that Anastasia was very relieved when I showed her the little half-bed in the boy's room with their twin beds. At her previous house she'd been in "a big bed in a big room". Well, Anastasia had never slept by herself before. No wonder she was frightened. The boys were nice to her, and of course she relaxed since she could finally speak Russian and be understood. But the next day we saw some of what caused this family to rid themselves of her so quickly. This girl can have tantrums like no one's business! I didn't even know what it was that set her off. But the more I tried to calm her and get her what she wanted the more upset she got. [I soon learned that to ignore her is generally the best medicine.]


There she was, only 5 at the time, tiny little thing but a Sarah Bernhardt for sure! I watched her stamp her feet, and gesture broadly while loudly and dramatically proclaiming - "Yes! I know you think I'm a fool! Well, all right then! I am a fool! I am. Then what are you? I want to know what are you? I'm a fool - so what are you???!!!" Well, I had to laugh! She was a miniature soap-opera star. I couldn't help wonder whether she'd taken this from TV or from her family life!


My laughter cranked her up another notch. She spit at the floor in front of me. Then she took out her gum and dramatically splated it on the counter top. But, being sugarless gum, instead of sticking, it rolled up. That exasperated her, and she picked it up and attempted to stick it to the floor I'd just washed. No luck. It rolled up again. She cried, "I'm going to break your table!" and she went over to our large dinner table and behaved as if she would pick it up and toss it against the wall. (Fat chance.) Craig was not as amused as me. He picked her up and took her up to her bed; on the way she bit him. Up in the bedroom she tore all the bedclothes off her bed, but that got the upset out of her and she put her bed back together beautifully, and went to calmly play with the boys. That was the tantrum I remember most. But there were more!


The four days she was with us were quite interesting!!! Tantrums and sweet playing interchanged. I learned about her that she is very studious with an enormous attention span. She would do schoolwork for several hours, very carefully. She could play quietly and happily by herself (she entertained herself for hours on the front porch with a tub of water and little cups and spoons). She seemed very smart. She also had strong opinions. I took her to a lovely boutique which was having a sidewalk sale. The gorgeous dresses, usually $70-$100 were on sale for more like $20. I told her I wanted to buy her a dress and held out one that I thought was pretty. Instead of the amazed delight I expected from this little orphan girl, I got cool appraisal. She leaned back, evaluated the dress, and shook her head "no". "Too fat." Turned out that she likes her clothes close-fitting and elegant - no cute fluff, or full skirts. I just couldn't help but be amused at this little thing being so opionated about clothes when she had none! She still has a great fashion sense - and a figure that causes her to look wonderful in anything.


Nastya seemed to have a sweet dispostion alternating with a crazy one. But somehow it seemed to me that she was really just responding with fear. Before she went back to Russia, I had already learned that if I ignored the beginnings of her bad mood, that she could usually get a grip on herself. Craig was a good deal more hesitant about Nastya (well, he was still nursing his bite) but we decided to go ahead and have not been sorry.


She still has tantrums from time to time but she is learning more about her behavior and tries to get a handle on it. She will probably need some counseling in the future to deal with some pretty strange behavior by her mother during her formative years. But Nastya has many dear and good qualities, is indeed a wonderful student, and we are so proud to have her as a daughter.


Monday, October 6, 2008

LOVE OF READING


I was hopping around some different blogs and ran across this tag...and though I wasn't tagged, it seemed like a good idea.

1. How did you develop a love of reading?

I remember being taken to the library, but am not sure....

2. What are some books you read as a child?

The first books I remember being avid about were the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. The first thing I ever bought myself were those books (which I still have). How I relished having those books as my own. And what a worthwhile purchase! I undoubtedly read them 10-12 times to myself as a child; once I read through the series aloud to my mom and brother. I read them all again as a young adult, and a few more times since then. Of course I read them a few times to Lydia and Aidan.

Then we went on some "Laura" vacations - to her home and museum in Mansfield, Missouri, and on a sort of pilgrimage - to the site of the Little House in the Big Woods, to Plum Creek and on to DeSmet - the Little Town on the Prairie....

When I wasn't reading "Laura", I'd look for any sort of "pioneer" book. I remember enjoying Caddie Woodlawn and reading it a few times. I remember writing on a tiny corner of paper the name of a book that I thought was the most moving thing I'd ever read. The book was Patty Reed's Doll, about the Donner Party. But it was really too powerful, and though I kept the name because it impressed me so much, I could never bear to re-read it.

As a eleven or twelve year old I stumbled onto the Diary of Tatiana Tolstoy.... At the time I read that book I didn't know who Tolstoy was, and probably wasn't sure where Russia was either! But that was the beginning of something big!

2a. Did your parents ever do anything to get you into reading? Did it work? Are they readers?

My parents read, but not passionately. They were probably too busy to read too much when I was little. I do remember that they both thought I read too much....and they'd come through the living room on occasion and suggest I get my "nose out of that book"!

3. What is your favorite genre?

Fiction. Particularly by British females of the nineteenth century. Mysteries. Russian.

4. Do you have a favorite novel?

So hard to say! Like "Do you have a favorite child?" I love all of the novels of Barbara Pym and perhaps Excellent Women could be one favorite.

5. Where do you usually read?

In bed.


6. When do you usually read?

At night.

7. Do you usually have more than one book you are reading at a time?

Only one for pleasure. I usually have a spiritual book going, too, maybe something professional, and something I'm reading to the children.

8. Do you read nonfiction in a different way or place than you read fiction?

Not usually.

9. Do you buy most of the books you read, or borrow them, or check them out of the library?

Buy ---I used to love the library, but life is too complicated now. If I check a book out, getting it back on time just adds to my anxiety.

10. Do you keep most of the books you buy? If not, what do you do with them?

If I will read it again, I keep it. Otherwise, I give it to someone.

11. If you have children, what are some of the favorite books you have shared with them?
Well - all of the above, plus the Betsy Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace, Mark Twain, Alcott

12. What are you reading now?

The Wouldbegoods by E. Nesbit (one of my favorite writers of children's books) to the kids, and to myself short stories by Zoschenko which make me laugh out loud.

13. Do you keep a "to be read" list?

No.

14. What’s next?

Not sure.



15. What books would you like to reread?

I'd like to re-read my Russian favorites - Tolstoy & Doetoevsky in particular.

16. Who are your favorite authors? Some of them, in no particular order:

Gaskell, Brontes, Austen, Trollope, Dickens, Twain, Lovelace
EVERYONE IS TAGGED WHO WISHES TO SHARE!

Friday, October 3, 2008

FLASHBACK FRIDAY

Courtney suggested this so I figured - why not? And then I rather randomly plucked up this photo from - wow! three years ago! 2005.

This is: Zhen, Sergei, me, Lydia and Nastya at Aidan's graduation from Basic Training. We drove down to South Carolina for this event - packed them all in the van. We did not have Gregori with us then, which was too bad as I know he would have been impressed. Lydia was so impressed she joined the army soon after this. (And actually her Basic graduation was even more impressive!)

This was quite an "eventful" trip, actually.

First snafu - we left our suitcases in the hotel in Pennsylvania somewhere. Second snafu - when Lydia and I were at the mall shopping for some new clothes to wear to the graduation, Craig let the other kids "have fun" and Zhenya got his finger shut in the door of the room. So when Lydia and I got back to the room, we found Sergei and Nastya, a bit green around the gills, who told us to go get Daddy and Zhen from the hospital! Though it really was a wonderful emergency room, they still were not done until the wee hours. Zhen had broken his finger quite badly and they sent him home with it in a cast and with some medication.

Snafu Three - The next morning we got ourselves ready for the graduation, all fussed about driving onto an army base. We needed our invitation, etc. to get through the gates. Craig had made sure Zhen took his medication while I got everyone else ready. As we drove into the base, Zhen said he was ill - really ill - in fact, he threw up all over the back seat. We drove around wildly looking for a place to get a bathroom! Finally, we found some building that looked halfway domestic enough for me to take a child into and we got him sort of cleaned up. Before he vomited again.

About this time, it came to my attention that Craig had had Zhen take his medication without eating. So we had to find some sort of food - fortunately I located a vending machine and plied him with unhealthy packaged fare. Everything improved after this.

We were terribly proud of Aidan and really enjoyed the beauty in North and South Carolina. We were gratefully reunited with our luggage on the return trip. Zhen later had to have his finger re-broken (boy, I was so glad Craig took him to that appointment!) but he is doing fine now, and boys never mind a tale of broken bones to tell.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

PROUD TO BE RUSSIAN


Apparently!
I was really pleased when Ilya chose this shirt to wear for school pictures this year.
I was so thrilled when I found this shirt in a shop in Moscow. I expect I paid more than I should have, even though it was on the sale rack. This is part of the collection that was designed for the Russian Winter Olympic team. I loved it when I saw the athletes wearing it on TV, and I loved them in person. I bought this on one of the rare outings I had when Ilya wasn't with me. So I was a little worried lest he not like it.
Contrary to my previous experience with kids (when I really, really love something and they refuse to wear it) this shirt is almost worn out from his wearing it again and again.
Not only do I like the shirt, of course, but I am especially glad that he is proud of being Russian.