Monday, November 30, 2009

Four More Days...

In four days we leave for Russia (Friday, that is--I think that's four days. My brain is sadly in "what the?... Squirrel!" mode at the moment. )

I think the important stuff is done. We have tickets, we have visas, we have pictures for court and clothes for court. All that is really left to do is figure out what to pack and then pack it. I'd really like to tak a bunch of the stuff that we'll need for trip 3 and leave it there, so I'm trying to think of that stuff.

There is, however, all of the stuff of life here that still needs to get done. Two lectures to still finish up, a few papers (about 14 to grade) and all of that to make sure I finish before I can leave. I'd really like to come home and have my final exams ready to give on the next Monday....

I'm making lists. Anything that should be on them???

Oh, and I AM reading people's blogs---I'm just too darned scatterbrained to leave interesting or coherent comments!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

....and the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon....

I realize that the Harry Chapin reference will date me, but I just couldn't resist.....Hope you all have a great weekend!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just when you think it's safe to be excited...EDITED

I JUST found out that our homestudy agency is back on the new MOE blacklist. This may be an issue. It may not. Please, please pray that it is not.

Thanks. I'm a bit numb right now....

***Edited**** I just got off the phone with Carol at the agency. She said "don't worry" and that Kaluga has not been a region that has paid much if any attention to the blacklist. I'm going to try to "not worry" but I'm afraid that I won't be very good at it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Plane tickets have been reserved, and visa applications went in the mail (Overnight) this morning. We leave on Friday the 4th and come home on Wednesday the 9th, if all works out as it should. We're going to be flying Aeroflot part of the way, which should be interesting (I flew on Aeroflot when I went to Russia for the very first time in 1996, and it was an experience---not bad, just really interesting!) We also had to pay for expedited visas, since Thanksgiving holidays are in the midst of our visa processing time. BUT: we're GOING! I've been so preoccupied with everything that has to get done between now and then, that I haven't had time to let this all sink in! Perhaps when school stuff gets a bit more finalized (I'm going to have to miss the last week of classes) and I have time to breathe???

Anything else I should be doing? I have an outfit for court, and the photo album is done. Is there something I'm forgetting????

We now return you to our regularly-scheduled program. Perhaps it's "Pigs in Space???"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Carol emailed us this morning to let us know that we have a court date: Tuesday, December 8. We may have her home the day after Christmas, if all works out for the best!
Christmas in Moscow, baby! Thanks to all of you for the prayers!!!!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Under Construction: Nursery in the Works.

Ok, so there was no news this week---apparently our judge is in the hospital (!!!) and they've passed our case on to a different judge in Kaluga. We "might" hear something this week. Might.

So, we take you from the regularly-scheduled program of ................nothing................ to something that might be of actual interest: the progress on the nursery. It's not done yet (I'm a bit OCD about these things, and there's still stuff to do, like hang the quilt on the wall, pick up the pictures I had framed at Michael's and hang them, get organizer baskets, etc.,) but the state of the nursery is much more interesting than just "no news"!

I have to give a huge shout out here to my beloved and talented sister, the Princess Susan. She not only painted the tree on the wall (and I HAVE to tell you that she's not done or she'll kill me!) but she also designed and created the window treatments. Another HUGE thank you to her boyfriend Brad, who donated a whole afternoon of work and his tools to the project of putting together the furniture. They have both been rocks for us during this process, and we wouldn't be anywhere as close to done as we are without them.

Note that I also totally stole ideas from you guys--we have the same crib as Shelley, and the rosy-cheeked doll was part of Kristine's nursery!

Hope that you all have a great week---I'll be back soon!

Friday, November 6, 2009

No news this week...

No court date this week. We did hear that the judge in Kaluga has looked at some of our documents, because we were asked to get a copy of the Homestudy Agency's new license to Moscow asap. It was scanned and emailed on Monday, and the "real" notarized and apostilled document is being carried over this weekend by a family who is traveling with CSS. A huge thank you to that family, if you're reading this; you helped speed up this process for us! I hope that all of your travels go smoothly!

I wanted to post tonight about our 8-Doctor medical exam in Moscow on trip one, primarily because it was so different from what other families have described, and because I wanted to perhaps prepare people who are headed over in the future who may go through the same process.

First of all, Carol had told us that we needed to take with us our actual chest x-rays (not on a CD or DVD), along with a letter from our doctor stating that they were clear of TB. In addition, we took over copies of the bloodwork results for each of us, with each page signed and the results noted by our doctor. It turned out that it was incredibly helpful that we had all of this with us.

On Friday of trip one (we got to Moscow from Kaluga on Thursday, about 2:00 or so), we were picked up by our Moscow driver and translator and taken to what our translator Katya called the "Presidential Medical Clinic". It was very near Moscow State University. I asked if this is where the president goes for medical care; she told me that she didn't think so, but that his staff and government officials are patients there. We entered what looked to me like a gatehouse (in the picture below)

We had to have special permission to enter--a lady who works to facilitate this process met us there, got us special passes to enter the compound, and then went with us to the exam.
The "exam" itself was in a very large building that looked more like an apartment building or office building than it did a clinic. We entered the main door, and were taken to a small waiting room that was right across the entryway. We took off our coats, were offered a drink of water, and about 10 minutes or so later were ushered into what I can only describe as a "big ol' conference room." This room was BIG. It was paneled in what looked like expensive wood paneling, some interesting art was hanging on the walls, and in the middle of the room was this very large oval wooden table. We were asked to sit down on a small couch on one side of the table. On the other side of the table were at least 9 doctors, all in their white medical coats. Only one of them was male.
The proceedings then seriously resembled my defense of my master's thesis. The doctors asked us questions, and our translator translated the questions and our answers. We were asked about our childhood diseases, if we had ever had surgery or a blood transfusion, if we had any chronic medical condtions, etc. One of the doctors asked how we handled stress. It would have been like any other meeting with a doctor except there were ALL of them on one side of a table and we were on the other. It was incredibly intimidating. They went through our bloodwork reports with the proverbial fine toothed comb. Steve had a reaction to his TB test, and they asked about the size of the reaction--and then noted it was mentioned on his paperwork. They looked at our chest x-rays (there was a lightbox on the wall behind them). No one smiled. Holy cow.
They then asked us if, one at a time, we would have our actual physical exams. There was an alcove at the side of this large room, and there was a standing screen in front of an exam table. Steve went first, and about 5-6 of the doctors took turns examining him. Nothing was invasive, but they did ask him to strip down to his underwear and checked him for skin cancer, they checked his heart and lungs, the neurologist tested his reflexes and balance, and another doctor checked his eyes, ears, throat, and abdomen. After he was done, I did the same thing. At this point, the doctors did loosen up a bit, and the neurologist actually smiled and told me "relax, it's ok!" (I think that was right before my bracelet fell on the floor and rolled away and they chased it down for me!) There was nothing invasive, but the oncologist doctor did do a breast exam. I will say that there was nothing that hasn't happened in a regular yearly checkup with our own doctor at home. No needles, no speculum, and I kept on my underwear. By the time my exam happened, the male doctor was gone.
At this point, the doctors began to drift away. We just had to wait for them to sign all of the documents, and put their stamp on them. Some of them then actually smiled at us, used their cell phones, and a couple even told us good luck. We paid for the exams, and got back a receipt saying that we were registered with the clinic, and that we could use the clinic for the next 3 months if we needed it (part of the contract, I think). The whole process lasted only about an hour and a half. Katya (our translator) said that this is a new method for doing the medical exams, and that it was quite a bit quicker than in the past. It was nice that it was quick, but it was a bit of a surprise!
The best news of all--we passed!