Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Going Private

I've been thinking about my blog lately, and have decided to make some changes. Once the kids come home next week, it seems pointless to continue on with the name "Bringing Borya Home". I will instead turn the blog into more of a journal of sorts, where I get to ramble on ad nauseum about my life and my family. When its focus was on the adoption journey, it was my desire to keep it public, so that others could learn (or be forewarned, or point and laugh) about the whole process. However, now that it will be less about adoption and more about my family, I have decided to go private.

Ergo and therefore, if you would like an invitation to continue following my blog, please e-mail me or write in the comments section and I will be sure to include you on the list. Unfortunately, it will mean an extra step of logging in when you want to check us out, but for reasons of cyber-safety for my family, I feel it's a step I need to take. And for those of you out there who are not too techno-savvy, don't get all scared about logging in. It's just a matter of typing in your username and password. No fingerprints, no retinal scans, no DNA matching.

The kids arrive 1/9. Still can't believe we'll all be under one roof next week! My post about their arrival will probably be the last under the old public blog. So if you want to come check out the "new and improved" one, be sure to let me know between now and then.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Details Delivered!

Well, folks, I got the juicy details today of Lori and Dart's visit with Julia. For those of you not yet aquainted with Lori from previous posts, she is a friend I met while we were in Kazakhstan. She and her dh are adopting from the baby house the most beautiful little angel you've ever laid eyes on. Lori and Dart, and their three boys, are over there right now. Their little girl turned two years old on Christmas Day, and she got to celebrate it with her forever family.

Anyway, Lori had graciously (read insanely) offered to bring gifts to the children in Julia's orphanage for me, so we bundled up nearly 200 wrapped coloring books/drawing pads and another 200 boxes of crayons. Lori and her strong men hauled many suitcases filled with these gifts across an ocean and a couple continents to bring the goodies to the children on Christmas. Unfortunately, they were unable to hand them out personally (the beuocrats always win, don't they?) but the gifts did get delivered, so a big thanks out again to all those who sent money to contribute to this effort.

The picture above is of Julia, dressed in costume for the pageant, talking to me on Dart's phone. Below is Lori's account of meeting Julia. It's hard to believe she (and Borya) will be home with us in less than two weeks!

We ended up going the day after Christmas because (we were told) there were officials at the orphanage and we could not go on the 25th. Whatever. So we went the next day, your Christmas day, and we brought 6 suitcase worth of stuff. When we got there someone left to get Julia. A few minutes later she appeared in the fox costume. She was holding her doll and had a huge smile across her face. The Director came with her. We explained that the gifts were from Julia's mother and father and the Director smiled and nodded and shook our hands. Julia was beaming. We told Julia that you missed her and loved her and that you were waiting for her to come home. We said your mamma is preparing a beautiful room for you. Then I said your mama wants me to give you a big hug from her. Anne what a loving kid, with a smile a mile wide she wraped her arms around my waist. I hugged her and kissed her over and over for you. Julia open the card and was so excited to see all the pictures. She was pointing to them telling the Director something in Russian about each one. It really made her happy to see she was in the pictures! We then told Julia and the Director about the children who made cards for the children at the orphanage. My son presented them all to Julia along with a picture of his classmates. We did not get to pass out the gifts. Instaed the director kept the bags and asked they we come back the next day for them. That worked out ok because she agreed to let Julia talk on the phone then. I couldn't go the next day but Dart did. he took a bunch of pictures of Julia in her Christmas pagent. When he came back all he said was Fred better buy a gun. OMG Anne she is gorgeous.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Holly Jolly Christmas

Despite the fact that I'm missing Borya and Julia terribly and wishing they were here with us on this day, we still managed to have a wonderful Christmas morning. Fred and I set a new personal best for ourselves, getting everything under the tree by about 10:00, and even watching a show before heading to bed. The kids were all sound asleep, crowded in Shane's double bed per tradition (might be hard to pull off next year).

5:30am, our minimum acceptable time for parental wake-up, came way too early for Fred, but not early enough for myself, considering I had my usual difficult time of sleeping through the night, and woke up about every hour. As soon as Fred and I were set up downstairs with the cameras, all the Christmas lights turned on, we released the hounds and they came barrelling downstairs, their eyes gleaming like maniacs. They ran over to the sofa, where Santa had set up each of their gifts: stereos for the girls and a waveboard and skateboard for Patrick and Daniel, with helmets and pads, of course. Then they each grabbed their stockings and went through to find what treasures had been left in there. After they had thoroughly registered Santa's gifts, we got down to the business of opening all the gifts under the tree. Although we try to exercise restraint, we really do, the kids usually end up with about a dozen gifts each from us, plus presents from each other, and a few from aunts and grandparents that hadn't been opened yet. Since we only open one gift at a time, and clean up paper and ribbons between "rounds", this is a process that takes a couple hours. But it was great fun. As I sat on the couch with my coffee in the glow of the Christmas tree lights, I got to see the joy in my kids' faces each time a gift was opened. And whether it was a $3.00 book, or a $20.00 DVD, or a homemade picture, they were all received equally enthusiastically. And that was the best gift a Mom can receive, to see that her kids truly appreciate what they've been given.

The critters were not forgotten either on this Christmas morn. A bag was brought to the barn with lettuce for the bunnies, carrots for the horses and goats. The wild bird feeder got filled with sunflower seed, and the indoor animals got a stocking filled with squeaky toys, chew bones and treats. Of course, at one point I noticed that Sunny, our rotten yellow Lab, had stolen the other dogs' toys and lay with them in a pile beside her. Pirate loot. With her "mad skills" (as Shane says), she had surgically extracted the squeakers from all three toys and sat there stupidly grinning, not knowing or not caring that she had done wrong.

The chaos complete, and a nutritious breakfast of cinnamon rolls and Christmas candy under our belts (well, PJs), we fell about the house in various stages of listening to music, reading, doing puzzles, playing video games and napping. Later, I went out to the driveway and let Daniel show me all sorts of things I didn't know he knew a thing about like "Ollies" and "heel-flips". Who knew the kid could skateboard?

In the afternoon I gathered together some kitchen helpers to peel a couple dozen potatoes. We're having Christmas dinner with our friends as we do every year. It's their turn to host this year, so I'm bringing the potatoes and a couple desserts. Between their family of eight and ours of six (for now), I figured I'd better double the recipe!

Well, the house is still a mess, with three lawn bags of trash and miles of ribbons and bows to sort through later, Christmas cookie crumbs and candy wrappers scattered about and piles of presents to find homes for somewhere in this house. But this is the way a house is supposed to look after Christmas morning. Isn't it? Please say yes ....

Have a very merry Christmas everybody!

Monday, December 22, 2008

In Like Flinnski

So I had the meeting with our school's principal today and he was great and assured me that my kids could start school there. The plan is that the 1st or 2nd week the school is back in session, they will contact me about class placement. The kids arrive home 1/9, and on 2/9 ( a Monday) they will begin school. I will ask that they be on kind of an "audit" status for the remainder of the trimester, with no tests or homework, just so they can absorb as much language as possible and learn the routine. Then they will try their hand at full-blown student status for the last trimester and see how they do. By the time they start beginning of next school year in September, they should have enough English under their respective belts to hit the ground running.

What a relief. Last Friday's meeting was so upsetting to be told my kids couldn't attend school there, but now I'm starting to feel like everything is in place for them. Their rooms are ready, there are some clothes in their closets, school has a greenlight, plane tickets are purchased for their flights home, and their Christmas shopping is done. Soon I'll see their sweet faces, and will be able to tuck them in at night in their own beds in their own home with their forever family. All is right ....

Friday, December 19, 2008

School Daze

I just came back from a meeting at my kids' school, and I am still in shock. Though I submitted an enrollment from last spring, have been talking with teachers and office staff about the adoption for months, and have sent written notification that my two new kids would be starting school sometime after the winter break, they informed me today that my children would not be able to attend b/c the class sizes are maxed. In fact, they are overfilled, b/c they figured there would be withdrawals thoughout the school year (which didn't happen). So now we're looking at overcrowded classrooms, which is not only a bad thing for the kids of mine already there, but is effectively slamming the door in my Kaz kids' faces. It was suggested to me that I could simply enroll them in our district school (we attend a charter school). Absolutely not. It is critical that these kids be given as much stability as possible, and I am NOT going to put them in one school only to switch them to another when the numbers look more favorable. My question of why I was not informed of this earlier went, of course, unanswered. This school is supposed to have a policy of guaranteeing placement of siblings, but I guess they are selective about when they follow their policies. I am incensed and outraged. Before leaving, I set up a meeting with our school's principal (who was not in-house at the time) for Monday morning. Hopefully, I will be able to calm down in the next 72 hours or I'll be walking in his door red-faced and fists clenched, ready to toe the line. After all, they don't know what it's like to take on both US and Kazakhstani beurocrats for over a year. I've fought a long, embittered battle, and I've won my decree, dammit, so ain't nuttin' stoppin' me now!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Packages and boxes and bows, oh my ....

My fingers bear cuts from tape dispensers, my arms ache from cutting and wrapping, and my hands are still wrapping gifts on auto-pilot if I sit still more than a minute.

No, I haven't been wrapping my kids' Christmas gifts. We decided in typical hare-brain fashion that it would be a good idea to send gifts to the kids at Julia's orphanage. My friend Lori will be returning to Ust Kamenogorsk with her family to spend Christmas with her little Kaz babydoll, and then escort her home sometime after the new year. She had graciously offered (and people think I'm the crazy one) to give gifts out to the kids at Julia's school. So we put together this cock-a-maimy scheme that on Tuesday I could buy 200+/- drawing pads and boxes of crayons, wrap them, and ship them to Lori before she leaves for Kaz on Sunday. Then Lori in turn will have to haul suitcases for her family of five/soon to be six, plus all the boxes of gifts she's bringing to her daughter's orphanage, plus my 6 boxes weighing a collective 200+ lbs. I'm not sure who should be hauled away and locked up first, her or me. And the winner of this year's Psychosis Award goes to .... envelope please .....

Anyway, you can choose to believe it or not, but generous donations from family, plus the kids' charity jar money, paid for all the paper and crayons. Rosie, Bella and I (plus a friend of Rosie's who, poor thing, happened to be over) wrapped all the pads of construction paper, stationery and coloring books. This morning all 380 items were packed in cardboard boxes, wrapped securely with about 10 miles worth of packaging tape, and hauled over to the packaging store where they were weighed and sent out (you don't want to know what it cost to ship). Hard to believe this time of year, but they will be delivered to Lori's this Friday. Now Lori gets the fun of schlepping all those boxes through several airports while simultaneously keeping track of her family, fumbling with passports and removing shoes at the security checkpoints.

Still, though, I envy her. She and her family will get the joy of handing out gifts to the children in the orphanages on Christmas Day. These are kids who may very well have never opened a wrapped Christmas present in their lives before. I know what we've given is not much, and most kids here would look at you like you had two heads if you gave them paper and crayons for Christmas, but to these kids it's pretty meaningful, and it's something of their own. And they'll know that behind the gift are people who cared enough to make the effort. Whether that effort was manifested by sending a contribution, wrapping gifts, or hauling cumbersome boxes through airports, someone did something to reach out to them and say "Merry Christmas".

Saturday, December 13, 2008

They'll be home for Christmas (if only in my dreams)

I had gotten news from my coordinator earlier this week. It was the hold-your-breath, don't-jinx-it-by-speaking-of-it-out-loud kinda news that you think is too good to be true. It was. She had told me that Borya's and Julia's passports were expected in on 12/19. When I did the math, I figured they could be home to us by 12/23 or 24. But I was informed last night that they are now to be escorted to Almaty on 1/3, and they should be in the US on 1/7. Not exactly Christmas. Or New Year's. Well, I guess we still have Ground Hog's Day.

In the scheme of things, I know I can't complain. When I think back to all the obstacles in the way of this adoption ever becoming a reality (and they are too numerous to mention), I am thrilled beyond thrilled that my new son and daughter will be home to me in less than a month. Still, it's gonna be a bittersweet Christmas morning. On the one hand, I'll have the joy of basking in my kids' glow as they open their gifts and squeal and ooh and ahhh. On the other, I'll be thinking of Borya and Julia halfway around the world in cold, snowy Kazakhstan. No Christmas tree, no gifts, no family. Of course, once they get home we'll make it up to them in spades. Our tree will probably have dropped all its needles by then, but it'll still be up and decorated to the nines. I've made them each a stocking, which they will hang with care, and when they come down in the morning, they will get spoiled rotten.

They are loooong overdue for someone spoiling them rotten, don't you think?

Monday, December 8, 2008

What to do?

My oldest asked me, "What did you DO all day when we were in school?"

Well, let's see, today after we waved goodbye to each other on the bus, I ....

*cleaned up kitchen and started dishwasher
*checked e-mail
*ordered Christmas gifts on-line for school office staff, school teachers, CCD teachers, coaches and bus drivers. 20+ all told.
*got in a quick and dirty 1/2 hour work-out
*stopped in at the feed store for feed and supplies
*picked up Fred's dry cleaning, hanging it next to the 150# of feed in the cargo space of my car.
worked for awhile in the barn including:
*thawed and refilled frozen water bottles
*topped feeders and replenished storage containers for the rabbits, guinea pig, farm dog, cats.
*noticed Annabelle (farm dog) has come into first heat. Note to self: stop putting off call to vet to get her spayed!!!
*put new halters on 2 horses who had deviously hidden their old ones
*started 2 underweight horses on new feeding schedule
*finally managed to wrangle our goat Houdini and get his old collar off!
*started working with our mare Flurry to re-aquaint her with the concept of lifting her bum leg so the farrier, aka evil ugly troll (in Flurry's mind) can finally trim her hooves next month
Back in the house I:
*took care of some adoption paperwork
*checked a couple blogs of "adoption friends"
*answered a couple e-mails
*scheduled pre-op and post-op appts for Bella's January eye surgery, carefully coordinating with another Dr appt she has that month in same hospital
*hung up the dry cleaning
*washed a few loads of laundry
*wrapped a few Christmas gifts
*put away some dishes
*cleaned out the bottom of the hall closet

Me: What did I do? Oh, you know, did a few things around the house and barn, ran some errands.
Patrick: Don't you get BORED?
Me: .............still trying to think of a response ...............

Have a fun-filled day!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Announcement time!!!!

We got the news today, we are officially the legal parents of Borya and Julia! The decree was issued today. Here's the word from my agency coordinator:

Congratulations, you are official parents of Borya and Julia, Alma received your
decree and it is all final and official, I am very happy for you!

So after the judge approved our adoption (11/19) my mind was 75% at ease about the adoption becoming finalized. Now that we have the decree, 90%. Once their sweet feet cross our threshold in January, my adoption worries will cease. Only to be replaced by the stress of being a Mom to six kids. It's like a vacuum up there, once one worry leaves, another is sucked right up into its place!
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