Quote of the Day


Announcement Proofs

option A

option B

We are about to order our adoption announcements and here are our most recent renditions. What do you think?

Edited to draw your attention to the nifty poll widget in the upper right corner. Please cast your vote!


Don't you just love it when, on a balmy and pleasant Saturday afternoon you or your husband take the screens off, wash the windows, and put the storm windows up and then the very next day a cold front blows in and there is fresh snow in the foothills and the temperature drops to 34 degrees and you are inside all snug and smug 'cause your storms are up? Oh, this has never happened to you? Well it has never happened to us either, until now. Yes, Jamie beat the first deep chill of winter. Yeah Jamie!!

Something about having the storms up makes me feel secure and cozy. I want to make soup and bake apple treats and pull out the woolie sweaters.

I'll try to take a picture of Mt Baker for y'all today. He is wearing his new clean coat of snow and twinkling in the sun. Here's a bit of local lore for you:
The Lummi, who live near the Canadian border, cast Rainer as the jealous wife of Mount Baker. Rainer was the favorite of Baker’s two wives, but she had an awful temper. After a while the younger wife, Mount Shuksan, with her kind disposition, became the shine of Baker’s eye. Furious, Rainer threatened to leave unless Baker showed her more attention. When Baker ignored her, she made good her threat and traveled south, alone and slow. After a distance she looked back,expecting Baker to call her home. He did not. A little farther, she looked again. Still nothing. With a heavy heart she continued on and camped for the night on the highest hill in the land. She stretched and stretched to see Baker and her children, until she stood higher than all the mountains around. But Baker did not call her home. “Often on a clear day or clear night,” says the narrator, “the mountain dresses in sparkling white and looks with longing at Baker and the mountain children near him” (p. 22-23).

Barcott, Bruce. The Measure of a Mountain. Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1997.

btw, I found that link of ways to support an adoptive family.



We have been so busy living our new lives that we’ve not had time to document it. So many things to report, so little time. Here then is a random selection from our last nine days, no particular order.

Children’s Hospital, Everett Clinic is quite nice. They provide valet parking and there is a nice coffee shop and free internet. We learned that Juliana’s bent leg is from Vitamin D deficiency which is needed for proper calcium absorption. Wait. We already knew that. We learned that Orthopedics only documents changes, and that we need to see Endocrinology to get her on high doses of vitamin supplements. Wait, we are already doing that. We learned that the Outlet Centers in Burlington are a really fun place to take a little girl.

Andy had a wonderful day while Juliana and I were at the clinic. Dedushka took him to Secret Beach where they tromped about and built a campfire and an old Russian-speaking man sat down and chatted with Andy. I would love to know what they spoke of. Later, Dad and brother Tim and Andy made cider at my parent’s home. We’ve been making cider in the fall as long as I can remember.

Juliana got her glasses last week. She wears them without being reminded and they apparently help a lot. We are very glad that we got a back-up pair, as we have already had a breakage.

The children and I had lunch at Costco last week. They gleefully adorned their cheese pizzas with sauerkraut and pronounced it “bolshoy num-num”.

We had a lovely dinner at my sister’s home. Her dear husband cooked us an awesome meal and gave me an acupressure treatment. Sister took the children for a walk and sang them silly songs. We left feeling blessed and fortified.

The dryer died. In the last three years we have replaced the water heater, the washer, the dryer, the fridge, and the dishwasher. It’s as if the appliances are in cahoots. Bank account low? Time for an appliance to die.

We have had a rather rough week. Two steps forward, three steps back. We knew that post-institutional children often regress in their toilet habits. On paper, we accepted this as part of the package. Living it out, on the other hand, is a whole different thing. I stood in the diaper aisle of Walmart absolutely dazzled by the array of diaper choices and absolutely amazed that I was about to buy some. I thought we had cleverly side-stepped the whole diaper thing. Alas.

Let’s see, what else have we been doing? We go to the doctor/dentist/vet/specialist at least once a week. I have meeting for school at least once a week. We try to have outings, but they are often aborted.

It’s not been a particularly happy period. We are tired. I think the children are tired. Everything is so hard, for us, and for them.

Hoping for a perkier posting next time,


Baby Slugs

The children just presented me with a baby slug. They wanted to know if it was safe to pet, or if it would bite them. I am so pleased that they thought to inquire. I told them they could pet it, but they had to do so outside. They then asked if they could keep it as a pet. No, we are not accepting new pets, particularly not slugs. EWWWWwwww.


Snuggly Jesus

Instead of climbing into her high-chair (yes she is 5, but physically, she is 3, so we need a high-chair) this morning, Juliana crawled into my arms for a long snuggle. So, I taught the word snuggle. "Mama likes to snuggle; Papa likes to snuggle; Babushka y Dadadushka like to snuggle," the children recited their list of known snugglers. "Jesu Christo likes to snuggle." I apparently looked a bit surprised. "Da, destsky scared, Jesu Christo snuggles." (Yes, when children are scared, Jesus Christ snuggles them.)

When I was a child, I knew this about Jesus. I had forgotten.


Our day

8:30 am - the children's clock radio goes off which is the signal to come downstairs. The three of us cuddle and giggle in the big bed. This is good.

8:45 -- Juliana commences a royal whine-and-cry because she doesn't like the socks that her brother sweetly went to fetch for her. This earns her a spell in the WhineAndCry chair. She does not like this.

9:00 am -- I go upstairs to check the children's rooms. Children are dressed. Beds are made. Clothes are put away. This is good. I go back downstairs.

10:30 am -- I go back upstairs to find the children pouring water over one another. They are fully dressed and fully soaked, as is the rest of the bathroom. This is not good. I ask them if this is okay behavior at the orphanage. They say no. I ask them if this is okay behavior at Mama and Papa's home. They say no. We all agree that this is not okay behavior.

12:00 -- we head out to do errands. The trip to the park and the ice-cream are cancelled due to soggy bathroom. During our drive, Andy asks, in his nice voice, Please Mama, Detsky Dom. I have never heard him ask for the orphanage except for when he is angry. I ask him if we wants Mama and Papa and Juliana and Andy at the orphanage, or just Andy and Juliana. He says he wants Mama y Papa Dom Y DetskyDom. I ask him if he is sad. He is. We talk about all the people he liked and is sad for. He is sad because he thinks the caregivers are sad because they miss Andy and Juliana. We all agree that there is sadness. We also agree that we are not sad about Child X who regularly beat up Andy. We are happy that he is PacaPaca (bye-bye). This whole interval is very sweet.

4:30 -- Jamie and I hear "If you would like to make a call, please hang up and dial again" on speaker phone from a phone upstairs where Andy is allegedly napping in his bed. I go up. Andy feigns shock and amazement at the strange behavior from the phone which is mysteriously wrapped in a (damp) towel and hidden in the bathroom cabinet. He denys touching it. I place both his hands over his heart and require eye-contact. He confesses. I thank him. This is the first time he has been truthful with me during a bust. This is encouraging.

5:30 -- Andy learns that the incident of the phone in the nap has cost him his "good nap" sticker. He then loses his yogurt for standing on his chair and trying to eat his yogurt whilst holding it aloft. I think he was envisioning a ceiling-height yogurt dispenser that dispenses yogurt into his awaiting mouth. Whatever. We don't stand on our chairs and hold our food up over our heads. In his frustration over these back-to-back losses, Andy kicks his sister, hard. This is not good. Andy spends quite awhile in the WhiningAndCrying chair, which dual functions as a Naughty Chair.

6:30 -- We find a window open and a screen popped out upstairs. Andy denys everything. I put both hands over his heart again and require eye-contact. His voice shakes as he answers "da" (yes) when I ask if he did this. I thank him for telling me. He is very puzzled. Two truthful admissions in one day. This is very good.

7:00 -- the children race downstairs to show me two important pictures they have found as they looked through the books upstairs. One is of baby Jesus, one is of Christ on the cross. Jesu Christo!! Jesu Christo!! they proclaim. Yes, yes, Jesus Christ, I answer. Christ. Andy stares at me. The light goes on. Christ Amen? he asks. Our children have just now figured out our prayers.


Andy says Grace

Dee HeveEE Father,

Thank you SOOO much.

Aunt Christy,


Okay, so I'm going to have to enunciate better, especially the In Christ's Name (Aunt Christy) part.

We made it to church again today. The teacher for their group usually alternates every week, so we were surprised to find the nice lady from last week there today. She came in just in case our kids were there, so that they would have continuity. Isn't that sweet?

To answer a few questions from the Remarks Box:
  • BTDT is Been There Done That.
  • I think having two will increase our hiberation period, as they each only get half of me, so to speak, so it will take twice as long.
  • We took a phone cord, but didn't need it. The phone jack at the Markuel was just like the ones at home. The thing we really needed, and D&L kindly brought for us, was a power strip, so that we could plug in our one outlet adaptor and then plug in our many necessary things (camera battery charger, computer, modem, hot curlers for court-day etc.).



Well, we certainly have learned the hard way why the advice from folks that have BTDT is to limit visitors. We actually thought we were limiting! Every visit triggers a complete rebuilding of the rule-book. The children imagine that the new person is the next shift and are eager to abandon all the rules and regulations of the old shift.

So, we are now realizing that we are not going to be able to add "new" people to their repertoire for awhile. So, we thank you for your patience as we know you want to meet the kiddos, but it really works best for us to hold off for awhile longer.



I've found a way to share pretty music with you. This piece, The Lark Ascending, by Vaughan Williams was inspired in part by the English poet George Meredith (1828-1909). The composer included this portion of Meredith's poem on the flyleaf of the published work:

He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound,
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake.

For singing till his heaven fills,
‘Tis love of earth that he instils,
And ever winging up and up,
Our valley is his golden cup

And he the wine which overflows
to lift us with him as he goes.
Till lost on his aerial rings
In light, and then the fancy sings.


Nine Cavities!


In addition we learned that she has had a bunch of teeth pulled and some fillings. Who knew? We couldn't see the fillings under the stains (which polished off) and I didn't realize that the "lost tooth gaps" were atypical.

We picked out her lavender glasses at Costco today. She is quite sad that we have to wait a week.


No Cavities!

Yesterday we visited the eye doctor for both kids (Juliana needs glasses: no surprise) and Andy saw the dentist. They polished off all the stains and declared that he had a perfect mouth. No cavities, no alignment problems, no worries. Juliana sees the same dentist tomorrow morning. We don't expect such a good report for her, but are very willing to be surprised.



We attended church yesterday for the first time since the children came to us. We bravely dropped them off at Children's Lessons, which run during the first half of the service. Right before communion all the children rejoin their families via a processional into the sanctuary. Our children looked quite relieved to see us again. Andy was baptised in Russia, so he was able to take communion along with us.

I was very happy to be back at church.


"Please Mama, books"

Yes, this was Juliana's request last night during our after dinner quiet snuggle.

When the children first came to us, we tried books and they were clearly not interested. Andy gets a few books with his naptime routine, but other than that, we haven't pushed books and they haven't pursued them. This of course was quiet worrisome to me, Ms. Book-Eater.

Juliana and I went through three books together last night and she asked for words in English. She has been rather resistent to English, prefering to teach us the Russia rather than learn a new word. So, happy steps forward on two fronts.


October Moonrise

Taken from our front steps as the children ooooed and awed.



O hushed October morning mild,

Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;

Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,

Should waste them all.

The crows above the forest call;

Tomorrow they may form and go.

O hushed October morning mild,

Begin the hours of this day slow.

Make the day seem to us less brief.

Hearts not averse to being beguiled,

Beguile us in the way you know.

Release one leaf at break of day;

At noon release another leaf;

One from our trees, one far away.

Retard the sun with gentle mist;

Enchant the land with amethyst.

Slow, slow!

For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,

Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,

Whose clustered fruit must else be lost –

For the grape’s sake along the wall.

-- Robert Frost


God’s World

God’s World

O World, I cannot hold thee close enough

Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!

Thy mists that roll and rise.

Thy wood, this autumn day, that ache and sag.

And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag

To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff.

World, World, I cannot get thee close enough.

Long have I known a glory in it all,

But never knew I this:

Here such a passion is

As stretcheth me apart – Lord I do fear

Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;

My soul is all but out of me – let fall

No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

-- Edna St. Vincent Millay

I'm not teaching this quarter, alas, but if I were, we would be reading some autumn poems. I'll share them with you instead. My Mom first shared this poem with me and it has become one of my favorites. We are having mornings just like this these days.

Right now the children are picking up by hand each and every yard leaf and putting them in the trash. I didn't set them to this task, but it is keeping them busy and happy, so I'll not intervene.


Busy busy busy

I must say that I have never ever multi-tasked more than I did last night when I was cooking dinner (okay, heating up the dinner my girlfriend J brought over), corralling three joyfully loose goats, and consoling a small girl with a high fever and a broken heart because she had misplaced her footie pajamas. Jamie was toiling away at work saving small cities from refinery mishaps. Okay, maybe his work is not quite that dramatic, but I like to tell myself so when I have to do without him – makes our struggle seem more meaningful I suppose.

For goat details, see The Great Goat Escape – different day, same caper.

Fever? The children have had to redo all their shots, and have both reacted strongly with fevers and malaise and serious crankiness.

So, a general update is in order. We saw Dr. Julian Davies at the adoption clinic at UW who ordered gallons of blood and a zillion x-rays and sent all the findings to our local doctor whom we saw on Tuesday. We very much like him and Nurse Christina. Juliana has brought home some unwanted guests in her GI tract, so we are looking forward to getting rid of them. In addition we have started working towards a diagnosis for why she is so teeny. We are very happy to have gotten an appointment a good pediatric dentist for Juliana next week, as she is in dire need.

On the school side, we are getting closer to getting on the same page with our school personnel in terms of getting the children assessed in Russia asap. We have to officially enroll them which we are doing through the MP3 program. The MP3 program is the vehicle whereby home-schooling families access some classes. We need a district teacher to recommend that the children be assessed, so we’ll go to class and demonstrate our remarkable melt-down capacity. Our children have the emotional fortitude of much younger children.

Why are we pushing for assessment you may ask? On one hand, they are clearly bright. On the other hand, their background is statistically risky for learning troubles. If we wait and see, we will lose our window for accurate assessment. We either need to assess in Russian now or in English about four years from now. If we don’t assess now and do enroll them in school next year and do run into trouble, we will have limited our options for determining the nature and possible resolution of the troubles.

So, between scheduling and keeping doctor appointments, and talking with and meeting the various staff members of the school team, we have been busy busy.

How can I help?

An anonymous poster has asked how they can help a newly formed family.


Before I crashed my old blog I had a link to a site that had a list of 10-12 ways to support an new family. I've lost the link and the luxury of time for searching, but I am sure someone out there has it.

We've been home two weeks and I have especially appreciated food, short visits (especially ones in which I get to shower), practical household help (dishes, floors, beds changed etc.), helping with doctor visits, and people accepting our "weird" parenting. People have called before visiting to ask what we need: a quart of milk, warm playclothes for cool weather, a prescription picked up -- all these things help a lot. We've also been really grateful that people are following our requests of "no cuddling, no sweets". We are realizing daily how important this is, so if your new family has made explicit requests, honor them - there are reasons.

So, other families who have BTDT, what do you recommend? and who can provide that missing link? (tee hee)


Sticks and Nettles

We live on five acres shaped like a long skinny chocolate bar. On the back acres are trees and a meadow. This portion adjoins all the neighbors' trees and meadows. No one lives back there, but someone (we are still trying to figure out who) comes through all the parcels now-and-then with a brush hog. A brush hog, for you city-folk, is the Papa of all Lawn Mowers and easily cuts blackberries, shrubs and small trees. The brush hog path makes for a lovely walking trail that covers several acres, including a cedar grove full of mossy logs to walk on and slip off of, mushrooms to whack, birds to spot, and many secret nooks.

Today we took the children, the dogs, and our one adventuresome cat (the other kitty was doing her nails) on an outing to the back acres. We learned the joys and cautions of whacking branches with a stick, what nettles look like, and why one should pay close attention when Mama and Papa are warning one about nettles.

Yesterday we bought Juliana her first own dolly. She chose a soft pink newborn and it has been very fun to watch her coo and cuddle with it. Also yesterday, Andy climbed (with my help) his first tree. I boosted him up once and then set him to it. He was not able to get back in by himself, though he tried hard. He has good leg muscles, but no upper body strength. I am hoping to keep him trying the tree on a daily basis until he makes it.

We skipped naps yesterday and put them to bed a bit early and they awoke a bit late. It is nice to have this option, though I don't think I want to try it two days in a row.

The children are asleep and I have to choose between napping, showering, and blogging. Bye.