Archive for June, 2006

June 30, 2006

Friday, June 30th, 2006

Well, we showed up for our morning visit today and Arina was no longer sporting a mullet!  Yesterday evening must have been haircut day at the orphanage.  She looks so much better, although I think Scott is a little sad.  He says his favorite shot in the Arina video will always be the one where she’s eating — she has both a mullet and a moustache.

Arina drank out of a bottle of water today and was quite proud of herself.  (Bad mother that I am, I forgot her sippy cup).  She was mesmerized by the water bottle, though, and her new favorite game is “spin the bottle.”  Oh dear.  At least she doesn’t like the kissing part.  Scott and I tried to kiss her when the bottle pointed at either one of us, but she was more interested in spinning the bottle again.  Who needs toys when there are bottles of water?

Another little tidbit about Arina:  She hates hang nails and uses potty time as a time to inspect her nails.  We assume that one particular caregiver, Yessca, is the one who takes care of the children’s nails because Arina always toddles up to her, points a finger, and says “Ooh!”  Half the time the “hang nail” is imaginary or so insignificant that there isn’t much to be done about it, but Yessca always pretends to fix it.  I wonder how old a child needs to be before treated to her first manicure . . . ?

June 29, 2006

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

Big news!  We had our pre-court interview at the Ministry of Education today.  Yet another step closer.  Scott did all the talking for once.  Our translator said that our answers needed to be short and sweet, so we felt like he was the man for the job.  The only question they asked about our comments was a “What do you teach?” question for me.  It was hard for me to say “English literature” without gushing about how much I love novels and the 19th century and Wuthering Heights, etc. — but I managed.

Normally court isn’t long after the interview, but ours is scheduled about a week away, I think.  Please pray that all goes well!  We’ll get to bring Arina to the hotel after court.  Chasing a toddler — 24/7!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the emails.  We’ve been thoroughly entertained.  I’m a bit behind on my responses, though, since we took a long nap yesterday afternoon and went out to dinner last night to celebrate being done with the interview at the Ministry of Education.

Our morning visit with Arina was cut short because of the interview, but the afternoon one was a lot of fun.  She was very “tender” today.  “Tender” is the adjective the head doctor and our facilitator used when describing Arina to us for the first time.  We like to tease our translator when she throws a tantrum:  “Tender, huh?”  She enjoyed imitating everything Scott did today.  He would make a face and she would try to make the same face, giggling all the while.

Oh, and for those of you who were wondering and are too polite to ask:  Yes, Arina has a mullet!  She doesn’t have much hair for a two-year old.  But the hair that she has is really long behind each ear and short on top.  I can’t wait to get her to the hotel salon, although Scott says he’s going to cut it himself rather than spend the money.  We’ll see.  I don’t think her baby hair has ever been cut, so, hopefully, when we trim the long parts, it’ll look thicker!  If not, Natalie told us not to worry.  Her mother thought she would go to kindergarten bald, she said.  FYI:  She has great hair now!  Apparantly “when it grows, it’ll grow with a vengeance.”

One more thing:  I now have the addresses to the orphanage and to us, so email me if you need them!  One need I forgot to mention:  socks!  The children always wear socks with their sandals, and when I went to get Arina a pair the other day, I noticed that the supply looks scanty.  Mom says that USPS is the way to go.  FedEx was going to be $400-$600 (Sorry Thomas), although she was sending a big box.

June 28, 2006

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

Well, I misspoke yesterday.  Scott isn’t “satisfied” with the video of Arina.  He’s convinced he could have made it better but posted it after receiving emailed threats from his mother-in-law.

Arina’s caregivers are so sweet.  When we picked her up this morning, she had on a purple outfit to match her new purple shoes!  We’re getting a little worried about her, though, because she seems to prefer cats over dogs.  She’ll love her “aunties” in Columbia, but how will she take to Emma and Mr. Knightley?  We show her pictures of our four-legged children every day and say, “Love the puppies.  Woof, woof.”  She stares at us and then gets her kitty cat book and says “Kitty!  Meow, meow.”  Oh dear.  We don’t need a cat, although there is a cute baby kitty at the orphanage that needs adopting.  Scott’s been trying to take a photo of it.  Classic — a baby kitten at an orphanage!  (I know “baby kitten” is redundant, but it’s SO tiny).

Several of you have asked us about our schedule, so I decided to post it.  Sorry for those of you who have already received an email and are reading this twice.

  • Before morning visit:  Read emails (I had 22 today, although some were from various foreigners offerring me millions of dollars).  Chores (washing dishes).  Breakfast (We get one free breakfast from the hotel restaurant.  Scott always lets me go since he’s happy with Choco-linis, the Russian equivalent of Cocoa Pebbles, and unpasturized milk).  Scott wants me to add that there is a wizard on the front of Choco-linis with the words “Schokus Pokus!”  There is also an ingredient called “damit.”  Hee-hee.
  • Morning visit:  10:00-12:00
  • Between visits:  REST!  Parenting is hard.  After chasing after a toddler for two hours straight, we come back to our room, eat lunch, and take an afternoon nap.  If it’s a good day, I answer emails during this time.  If it’s a not-so-good day, I nap for the entire 2 1/2 hours between eating lunch and our next visit.
  • Afternoon visit:  4:00-6:00
  • Evening:  We always eat lunch in our room (sandwiches or roman noodles), so we sometimes go to the hotel restaurant for dinner.  It’s fantastic!  There’s an assortment of dishes:  seafood, chicken, beef (which I stay away from.  No mad cow for me, thank you very much), lamb, vegetarian, and horse (which I also stay away from, although Scott has tried it).  After dinner, I wash clothes, feeling like a washer-woman from the 19th century the entire time.  I’m getting blisters on my hands from wringing clothes.  Scott’s are the worse because they’re so big!  Scott works on the latest video.  I try to read before I go to bed.  I’m reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.  I’m even more motivated to finish my dissertation now.  I have to get a job and start making money so that we can adopt again!

Today’s photo features Arina during a temper tantrum.  And some of you didn’t believe me . . .

June 27, 2006

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

We were on the go today!  Our morning visit was uneventful, although Arina was in a much better mood than she was yesterday!  Before our afternoon visit, however, we went to a notary and signed documents (one step closer!).  We also went baby clothes shopping.  Our translator wanted us to get some socks and shoes for Arina, so she won’t have to wear any from the orphanage.  We got her two pair — purple (she has several purple outfits) and white.

Arina loves to go through my bag.  Imagine her delight when she pulled out her new shoes!  She had to put them on, of course.  So we spent the first twenty minutes of our visit putting on first one new pair, then another.  And the shoes came just in time.  When I was putting her old shoes back on, the worn velcro strap broke off completely. 

Sorry this is so short.  I slept really late for the first time since I’ve been here.  I’ll plan to catch up on emails later(which will be around 2:00am your time).  I was so excited when I opened my inbox and had fifteen new messages!  You all are the best!

Check out the new video of Arina!  Scott, ever the perfectionist, is finally satisfied.

June 26, 2006

Monday, June 26th, 2006

Today was a challenging day.  Can you say temper tantrums?  Can you say multiple accidents in the underpants?  One adoptive mother who has “been there, done that” tried to encourage us by saying, “Arina isn’t trying to impress you anymore.  That’s a good sign.”  And we just thought we had the perfect baby.

I have to say, though, I don’t blame her for being frustrated.  Normally it’s just us in the playroom, or us and other families who are adopting.  Today one of the doctors was observing kids in Arina’s group.  Arina just couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t allow her to interrupt what seemed like a fun time with new toys.  And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, the group was blocking the swing for our morning visit.  And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, we were stuck indoors because it was raining.  So, just know the photos today are deceiving because they’re all of Arina smiling.  We don’t take the time to snap photos when she’s upset because we’re both trying to distract her.

Reflections on temper tantrums:  Before we left for Kazakhstan, I was reading a parenting book and the author explained why toddlers have temper tantrums in a way that I, being an English major, could understand and accept.  She explained that toddlers just don’t have the vocabulary to express themselves, which is frustrating for them.  So, “Mommy, please don’t make me put the crayon in that way.  I’d like to do it this way” becomes “AAAGGGHHH!!!”  I suppose the way she’s feeling is similar to how we’d feel if we didn’t have the ability to learn as much elementary Russian as we have.

But the wonderful thing is that no matter how upset or discontent with us she is, she still wails like her little heart is breaking when we leave her.  Perhaps “wonderful” isn’t the right adjective because it breaks our hearts to see her cry so and not be able to explain.  But, I don’t know, we almost expected her to breathe a sign of relief when we took her back today, and we were glad when she didn’t.

Note:  For our afternoon visit, the swing was available.  The day suddenly became a lot brighter.

June 25, 2006

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

Arina gave Scott two things today:  some flowers (or flowering weeds) she pulled when we were walking outside and a cold.  He felt terrible when we got back from our afternoon visit but, after taking some cold medicine I brought from home, is doing better several hours later.  Despite feeling poorly, he ventured out of the hotel!  Our friends from Florence, Garrett and DeeDee, took us to a mall and grocery store within walking distance of where we’re staying.  So, we’re not as isolated as we thought!  I bought two cute hats for Arina.  Adoptive parents call the caregivers at Malutka Baby House the “hat police,” and for good reason.  Garrett and DeeDee didn’t have a hat for Dawson (their little one) the day they were able to take him out of the orphanage, and rather than have him go without, the caregivers sent one from their supply.

Arina is saying “baby” now.  She loves dolls.  She discovered the Huggies wipes I carry in my purse today and started cleaning the playroom.  Yes, Mama’s girl.  Mom says I used to carry around a wet washcloth when I was a toddler so I could “clean” things.  Not being a neat freak herself, she was worried, she said, that she was raising a little Howard Hughes.  We think that Arina has her ears scrubbed often as she was particularly fastidious about cleaning her baby doll’s.

Today was slightly cooler than usual, so when Scott and I were taking Arina outside for her walk, we were stopped by a caregiver who insisted we return for what we understood to be a sweater.  When we took Arina back to her room, however, she disappeared with her caregiver and returned decked out in full winter attire!  We’ve included a photo in the gallery.  Scott wanted me to post it along with this journal entry, but how could I resist the “I love mommy” dress her caregivers had her in this morning?

June 24, 2006

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

Potty time isn’t quite as tramatic as it used to be.  Now the caregivers allow us to take Arina to the potty by ourselves.  She likes showing Mom and Dad “how it’s done.”  She walks in, gets a little pink potty off the shelf, pulls out the mat that goes under the potty, pulls down her underwear, plops down, and grins.  She likes playing peek-a-boo with Dad while I chant “pee-sah, pee-sah” (the Russian word for “pee-pee”).

We promise that we’ll soon start talking about stuff other than Arina.  New parents, you know.  Mom sent us an email after we posted photos of the area saying “No more of those.  Just photos of my granddaughter will do.”  I don’t think she realizes that people other than proud grandparents are reading this site.

Several of you kind souls have offerred to send care packages to us and/or donations to the Baby House.  I’m working on getting those addresses for you.  I have them, actually, and am painstakingly typing them out in Cyrillic.  Yes, you’ll have to cut and paste the addresses to send anything.  Most people donate toys to the orphanage — stuffed animals that are easy to pack.  We’ve noticed that the great needs are:  shoes (0-4 years), clothes for boys, and hard plastic toys (especially developmental toys, like fisher price).

The children wear out their shoes and clothes very quickly, which is why the orphanage asks for new stuff.  Arina’s little sandals are velcro, and part of one strap has worn off, making them difficult to fasten.  Since the majority of people adopt girls, little boy clothes are sadly lacking.  Our friends from Florence groaned when their baby boy was brought out in overalls with pink hearts on passport photo day, but there is just not enough boy clothes to go around.  Likewise for dress up clothes.  One little boy in Arina’s group was dancing around in a pink fairy dress yesterday during dress up time because all of the masks and capes were taken (there are nine little boys in that room).  We’ve noticed that Arina is at the age where she loves playing with developmental toys, which Scott always thought were “a bunch of crap” before.  But she could press buttons, turn switches, and pull cords all day.  The orphanage has these toys but they are favorites with the kids and tear up quickly.

Hope all is well at home.  Keep those emails coming.  The “new” has worn off, I suppose, and we haven’t gotten as many as we used to.  Email anything!  Girls from Columbia, keep me updated on the celebrity gossip.  I can’t use the internet for anything like that here because we have to pay when we’re on-line and you know how Scott is.  


June 23, 2006

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

Today was a tough one, hence the early post.  Arina was wonderful.  Her personality is shining through more and more every day — so different from the scared little girl we met Monday morning.  She is saying “Papa” and “Mama” now.  Hurrah!  She has also learned the word “kitty.”  There’s a picture of a cat in one of her favorite books, and she’s really starting to imitate EVERYTHING we say and do.  Scott scratched his head today and she did too.

So, the day was tough not because of Arina, but because (1) I haven’t felt well (maybe something I ate?  No, I haven’t tried the horse).  and (2) our translator helped us communicate with Arina’s caregivers this afternoon.  Scott wanted to know who Arina’s friends are, and the women immediately pointed out Sergei to us.  We guessed that he was special to Arina (he’s the little boy holding her hand in one of the June 19th photos), but we didn’t know how much!  He has apparently told the caregivers that Arina is his “bride” and that he needs to go where she goes.  I’ve included some photos of the two of them.  Who knew that my little twenty-two month old would come with a significant other and what in the world are we to do about it? 

At the very least, we want to learn enough Russian so that we can communicate with his caregivers.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to keep track of him.  Maybe it’s possible to sponser a child if you can’t adopt him.  We’re definitely checking into it.  He’s such a sweet little guy.

Today’s photo:  Scott thinks Arina’s pout is so cute that he says he’s tempted to make her mad on purpose.

June 22, 2006

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

I’m becoming a little jealous because every day Arina is becoming more of a Daddy’s girl.  She said “Papa” today!  Scott was slightly disappointed because she repeated it after I asked, “Where’s Papa?”  I explained:  That’s how twenty-two month olds learn how to talk!  Scott and Arina played a lot yesterday, and he’s able to bring out the deep belly laughs.  She still only wants me to hold her (unless Dad has vanilla wafers or is spinning her around).  Humph.  At least I have something.

Some discoveries on our part:

1) Arina loves looking through the family photo album we brought, but I noticed that she looked at me oddly when I pointed to a photo of my Dad and repeatedly said “PaPa.”  Then I realized that the caregivers call me and Scott “Mama and Papa,” so now we’re saying “Grandpa Frank.”  (Mama and Papa Fisk, we’re using Marley and Lauren’s grandparent names for you, and so far they haven’t been a problem).

2) Today Arina reminded me of my grandmother.  (We’ve been saying “Granny” and “Shirley” for you, MaMa).  Many of you know that my grandmother was nicknamed “chicken” when she was a little girl and often compared to a bantum rooster.  Bantums are the smallest roosters but they’re the toughest!  People used to lose money at cock fights because they would underestimate these little birds.

Arina is the smallest in her group, and I’ve seen her lose toys to other children because of it.  She’s also knocked down quite a bit.  The other children aren’t mean — there are a few in particular who “baby” her — but when you’re so small, you just get bowled over sometimes!  Most of the time, she takes it in stride, smiling and picking herself up.  But, today, she had enough and went after a little girl (twice her size!) with a plastic toy shovel.  She had hit the little girl several times on the head before Scott pulled it from her and said, “No!”  Oh dear.  For those of you who are already buying toys:  NO TOY SHOVELS.

Today’s exciting events:

1) Arina had her passport photo made.

2) We received her medical report and family background.  The family backgroud in particular is worth its weight in gold.  As if I didn’t have enough to thank Arina’s birth mother for, I found after reading the report that she included Arina’s weight and height at birth.  Many families don’t know this information about their children.  Arina was 2200 grams (4.9 lbs) and 50 centimeters (20 inches).  Small but long.  I was 5.9 and and Scott was 4.11 (believe it or not!), so she fits in well. 

Look what I found!

June 21, 2006

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

When we talked to Mom, she suggested that Scott walk into Arina’s room before me.  Her reasoning:  If Arina doesn’t see me, she’ll probably go right to Scott.  We tried this during our morning visit.  Scott strolled straight into Arina’s room but stopped dead in his tracks.  My curiousity piqued, I followed him.  There was poor little Arina sitting on the rug all alone and crying pathetically, the snot running down her nose.  She had the dirtest of dirty diapers — only, since she’s being potty-trained, she had on underwear.  Scott turned green. 

I had to get the caregiver on duty because I didn’t know where the clean undies were.  I pulled up Arina’s dress so she could see, and the caregiver put her hands on her cheeks, gasped the Russian equivalent of “Oh no!”, and got to work.  She had her hosed off, changed, and on her way in record time.  Arina cried the entire time, of course.  As bad as potty chairs and dirty diapers are, being “hosed off” is apparently the worst indignity.

As soon as we were out in the hall, Scott said, “I would have taken care of it, but I’m SO glad she did.”  He insisted I take that particular caregiver a candy bar as a special thanks when we returned for our afternoon visit.

Progress we made today:  Arina actually sat in Scott’s lap and they looked through a photo album together (photos of home).  Whenever she tried to get up and bring the photo album to me, he pulled out a vanilla wafer and she plopped right back down.  It’s amazing how much our “success gauge” has changed.  The first time Scott made Arina smile he said it was the greatest feeling of accomplishment he’s had so far.  I feel the same way, although, yes, I am going to finish my dissertation.  Don’t worry Dr. Feldman.

All in all, dirty undies aside, today was a fun one.  When we took Arina for a walk around the baby house (which we do every day), we stopped and played with her group.  We brought bubbles and the kids had a blast.  I wish we could adopt Arina’s entire room.  There are three other little girls and nine little boys.  The boys LOVE Scott.  As I mentioned in a previous post, the children rarely see men.  So while the little ones cry when a man walks in (Scott really freaked out one baby in the playroom), the older boys gravitate towards him.  Whenever he walks in the room, he has a little boy around each leg and they all shout “PaPa, PaPa,” starved for some masculine attention. 

I was going to end this post, but Scott just read it over my shoulder and said, “That’s it?!  But we played chase for the first time today, and Arina was given HOT tea to drink at lunch and made funny faces, and we ate dinner with some friends of ours at the hotel who are also adopting, etc.”  Maybe I should pass the journal entry job over to him? 

Fun with bubbles