Monday, December 28, 2009

Post Christmas Nothingness, for now

Aaaahhh. I'm savoring the nothingness of this day! The snow is falling in slow beautiful flakes and the world outside is quiet. There is nothing to do, buy, or wrap! Nowhere to go, no holiday to-do's pushing the limits of my already challenged memory system!
Actually we do have a short list of errands for the day, but we are approaching them slowly, on our own terms. Target will be there no matter what time we finally get out the door. We may even go half jammied!
I love LOVE Christmas and the first thrills of the holiday season. I love the holiness of it and the matierialism of it. I love it all; The decorations, the music, the shopping, the cooking. But I am always just as happy to see it go. If I weren't savoring my laziness so much I might even take the tree down today.
But now that the sparkly busy time is behind, a new frame has come into focus in the slide show of our lives. A new kind of busy-ness, a re-direction of energies. A completely new chapter, that I can now fully concentrate on. Paperwork that must be done. Mental preparations. Nesting. A baby to bring home!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

a big To Do about Baby

Many have asked What's the update on the baby? Some ask it in hushed tones, as if they're afraid to know the answer. Others ask with unabashed excitement. Some ask questions that hold much deeper questions, such as, Are you sure you really want to go to Russia?
I understand all of these questions. We've been on and off the 2nd adoption train a few times now, usually unable to even get out of the station. And now here we are, slowly lurching forward on the proverbial Transiberian express.
There's a lot of scary things going on politically in Russia. There is a notoriously high record of alcohol abuse. But there are scary things going on here and everywhere. And there healthy beautiful babies still needing homes. And people like us who still have parenting in them. And people like me who just feel drawn, like it is where we are supposed to go. This same feeling led us to Uralsk to get I have to trust that this feeling knows what it's talking about.
For those of you saying, "ok, too much information, just give me an update!" Here's where we're at: right after the holidays, like January 2nd, i have a list of about 20 dossier items that i need to fill out, collect & assemble. Then each piece has to get notarized here locally, then each piece gets sent to Columbus to get apostilled (like a secondary, state-level notary). Then the dossier gets sent off. That's when the real wait will begin. Our agency advised us to wait until after the holidays, for both our personal sanity and because everything is just slowed down or shut down during this time. Russian Christmas is Janary 7th, so by the time I get our dossier out at end of Jan or into February, the timing should be perfect. Or good, atleast. No such thing as perfect timing in adoption!
So that is the big To Do list I have in the back of my head, behind the shopping list and the Christmas grocery list.
For now, S RazhdestvOm, moya Milaya!, or Merry Christmas my dear!
(i learned how to say that on a Find Russian Brides website, right in between how to say 'you are so beautiful my little angel' and 'do you understand me? will you marry me'?)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Merry Holidays, Happy Christmas?

I recently had an opportunity to think long and hard regarding the whole saying Merry Christmas issue. It's of course not a new debate but it can lead to some pretty heated discussions, usually involving political views. But I never really gave it much thought and this prompted my own internal debate on the topic. Warning: personal views you may not agree with are ahead.

I have always said both, honestly without much conscious thought to either one. It should be noted that I was raised Catholic and still consider myself (mostly) Catholic, with a good dose of Buddhist philosophy thrown in. I know, this could be a debate of a whole other kind, but it works for me. I'll try to stay on track.

For Catholics and Christians, Christmas marks the birth of Jesus. It's a celebration of his birthday. We say "Merry Christmas" to mark this occasion, much the way you'd say Happy Birthday to someone on their birthday. We say it at our house and I say it to my family, since I know they are all Catholics (or at least a person raised Catholic / Christian living the life of an evil sinner, oh my there's another debate). But starting the week of Thanksgiving I also say "Happy Holidays", which to me includes the entire season. A catch-all term that covers November 25 to January 2nd. It's wishing someone happiness for this entire time, not just on December 25. The time that seems to be filled with mass commercialization, shop at 5am for the lowest prices, fake evergreens, a great new appetizer recipe, parties, eggnog, gigantic electronic snow globes, Frosty, Rudolph, cookies, and last but not least Santa Claus, a purportedly adult elf with German heritage who gives gifts to only good little girls and boys. Those components, all of which I LOVE I might add, scream "HOLIDAY". They don't however, in my own opinionated opinion, have a thing to do with Jesus or God, whom I also love.
I also say Happy Holidays when I am not sure what is the religious persuasion of the person receiving my greeting. Since after all, it is a greeting or a wish of good wills that you are GIVING, which is what the season is all about anyway. When you give a gift you consider the recipient, not your own wants. It is not a moment to announce your own religious beliefs, but rather a small token, a considerate exchange of wishes, a good day to you sir.
Maybe this the crux of the differing opinions.
I believe we should be allowed to say Merry Christmas. And Happy Holidays and Happy Hanukah and Kwanza. They all have different meanings for both the giver and the recipient, but the end message is the same. Peace and happiness to you.
But I also believe that not everyone believes what I believe. I am curious to know, what do you believe??

Monday, December 7, 2009

warp speed

So I've done a little holiday decorating around here, what do you think? I also changed our picture to one that is actually current. I can't wait to have a picture of a BABY to put there!
I am usually pretty good with the holiday season, but I have to say that I'm not quite sure what happened this year. Usually shortly after halloween I start christmas'ing. I make cards, get my lists going, and otherwise just get in the spirit of the season. Now I've realized that there are 18 days until Christmas. When did this happen? I have literally bought one gift and haven't made a single cookie. Any minute I just know it, a funny bearded father time will jump out and say, 'haha gotchya! it's really only October 23rd!".
In my own defense, my mind HAS been a little preoccupied. The extra space up there that was reserved for such things as hand crafted xmas cards and holiday organizing has been replaced with adoption to-do's such as "follow up with social worker regarding license" or "repeat prayer for health of baby". A hard drive only has so much space. Try to overload it and you are bound to freeze up or shut down.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

If only there were a Hallmark card for this moment...

I got a letter today! From The Department of Homeland Security!! I know, it's so exciting, right?? It's on plain thick white boring paper. Even the font is boring. Our solemn somber United States eagle stamp is on the top right of the page. In all caps it reads
NOTICE OF FAVORABLE DETERMINATION CONCERNING APPLICATION FOR ADVANCE PROCESSING OF ORPHAN PETITION. It has been determined that you are able to furnish proper care to an orphan as defined in Section 101 (B)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
OMG! We are able to furnish proper care!!

my cover boy

A fellow Kazakhstan adoptive mother put together this AWESOME book to benefit the babyhouses of Uralsk, KZ. Uralsk was Bek's birth city. It is the very Northern part of KZ, nearly on the border of Russia. The book is filled with all the children adopted out of babyhouse #1 & #2. These kids are all just beautiful and have a special place in my heart. Bek made the cover (see bottom row, 3rd from left) and is pictured again on pg 32. The babies are of course all cute, sweet and beautiful. In the 'before' pictures you can see many have that vacant empty stare that comes with institutional living without parents to love you and kiss you goodnight. Check out their many smiling faces in the 'after' pictures and give your heart a little boost today.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Crafting for Distraction

Country Living had this great matchbox advent calendar in their most recent issue. I thought it was adorable and I am all for almost-instant gratification craft projects. The matchboxes were cheap, $3 or so. Bek helped me empty them all out - yes i let my child play with matches, let's hope the adoption officials aren't reading this! - and we hot glued them together...the article suggested using Christmas wrapping paper but we used some festive scrapbooking paper. we stamped the numbers on, and there you have it. it was quick easy cheap fun. today I went out and got candies and chocolates to fill it with, along with some little notes, some quarters, and tiny surprises. he was so excited to know he would get to open a drawer when he got home from school! here's our version below:

i have always been into crafts...but lately as my mind is filled with too many thoughts (that train bombing near moscow hasn't helped) i am needing these types of projects more than ever. thank goodness we have an oven now i can also cook my worries away.