Friday, July 31, 2009

"Q" is for Queen

Deetz Media proudly presents the 5 queens of Russia.

5- The obvious queens (also know as Czarinas) They are the female versions of the Czars. You can become a Czarinas by two means (Well YOU probably can’t) I should say “One can become a Czarina by two means” Either you can be born a Czarina, like say Catherine the Great, or you can marry into the title, ala Alexandra Fyodorovna (the last Czarina)

4- The beautiful queens. Russia boasts many beauty pageant queens, which are my favorite kind of queens! In recent years those include the lovely Vera Krasova (Top 5 Miss Universe 2008) Sofia Rudieva (this year’s Miss Universe contestant) and a queen fallen from glory- Oxana Fedorova (Dethroned Miss Universe 2002) I’m not sure what she did- but these types of queens often find themselves in trouble….

3- The sweetest queens. Beekeepers were having trouble keeping their bees healthy in the United States and Italy, they were susceptible to two types of disease carrying mites. However “Russian Honey Bees” have been farmed for honey for centuries and were immune to diseases. They were hardy and hard working and produced twice the amount of honey as normal “American” bees too! So Russian Queen Bees were brought over and integrated into Honey Bee farms. Now our honey is sweet and our bees are healthy.

2-The intellectual queens. Russians are famous for being chess masters. I looked up “Russian Chess Players” and there are a lot of them! I know nothing about chess (nor pretend too) I actually don’t even fully understand all the rules in Checkers. But in Russia, chess is important. They are like superstars. You can go to chess school and learn from the greats. You can win a lot of money and most of all a lot of fame. And I do know there are queens in chess.

1-The drama queens. Pushkin (famous poet, author, playwright) wrote a story called “The Queen of Spades” It has been adapted into a play, several films, and an opera. It’s the story of an army officer that harasses an old woman for a secret card strategy that won her a lot of money. When she wouldn’t tell, he confronted her with a gun. The gun scared the old woman to death. It drives the officer to insanity. The thinks her corpse winks at him, he is visited by her ghost that reveals the secret order to play the cards. The follows her instructions and wins the first night and the second. The final night, he thinks he is betting on the ace (as instructed by the old woman) it flips over to reveal the Queen of Spades! He has lost everything AND he believes that the picture of the queen on the card smiles mockingly at him. He ends up in a mental institution, repeating the order of the cards over and over again.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"P" is for Pskov

When thinking about “P” (Ewww….. ;0) I originally planned for “P” to stand for Putin (Vladimir, that is). But I was talking to someone about the region switch and it hit me- duh- what would be more relevant to Baby Deetz than their hometown? So…. “P” is for Pskov!
This beautiful, ancient city sits on the north-western portion of Russia only 12 miles from Estonia on the Velikaya River. The population and size (for you locals) is almost exactly the size of Spartanburg County- Over 200,000 people in 40 square miles. We are kind of like “sister cities” if you think about it. However, there is no mall, McDonalds, or Target! I checked. You can check out their official website at It’s a beautiful place. It looks simple and peaceful.
The name of the city, originally spelled "Pleskov" or "the town of purling waters". Its was first mentioned in 903, when Price Igor of Kiev married a local peasant, St. Olga. She was a brilliant woman and maybe I can fit her into the alphabet sometime down the road. “Pskovians” think of their wedding day as Pskov's birthday and they recently celebrated their 1100th Anniversary! Wow!
In the 1200’s the city was captured by Teutonic knights. Sergei Eisenstein made a movie about the siege in 1938 (not on NetFlicks). For Russia, Pskov was a bridge to Europe. For Europe, it was a western outpost of Russia and subject of numerous attacks throughout the history. In the 15th century alone, Pskov withstood 26 sieges! Poland forces tried to attack the city 31 times and the battles were mostly defended by townspeople. I like to think about the spirit of the people that must live there. Don’t you think that type fighting for your country and your freedom would make you strong, independent, and a force to be reckoned with? The Krom (See “K” is for Kremlin, people!) was described as “impregnable”. A local school of icon-painting flourished and local masons were considered the best in Russia. Many styles of Russian architecture was first introduced in Pskov. They accomplished all of that while defending their land on a constant basis.
Modern machines and warfare proved the Krom could crumble. During World War I Pskov was occupied by Estonia and Germany. World War II, the Krom was ineffective against heavy artillery and bomb blasts. The whole town was essentially leveled. The town, the Krom, and Trinity Cathedral has been built and re-built many times over the course of history- however some portions of the original wall (built in the 1100s) still remains. Picturesque churches from the 15th and 16th century still line the countryside.
The famous Russian poet, Pushkin, is buried in the “Holy Mountains” near his family estate. Other famous “Pskovians” include NHL and Russian hockey legend Sergei Fedorov, chemist Konstantin Luzyanin, the first female academician/mathematician Sophia Kowalevskaya, and Miss Universe 2002- Oksana Fedorova.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

“O” is for Ovcharka

Another cute Russian animal for your viewing pleasure- I know how much y’all loved the dwarf hamsters! It was a little slim pickings on the “O” alphabet choices.

The South Russian Ovcharka, a.k.a. South Russian Sheepdog, dates back to Slavic Russian regions in the B.C. era. They were known as 'Russian Shepherd' or 'Russian wolf-killers' in ancient times and in the 1700’s they were named “royal pets” because the elite often kept them in quantity. To the left are Ovcharka puppies...(Everybody all together: "Awwweeee!" )

Here are some fun facts:
-The thick woolly coat is described as “self cleaning”. Even when the weather is dirty and rainy, the coats will be bright white when dried. (Alex and Annie take note!)
-It is possible to spin and knit the hair. This craft was popular in Imperial Russia, and the knitting was used as a form of medical treatment for arthritis. (I’m not sure if they mean the act of knitting helped your joints or the hair was believed to have some sort of medicinal purpose. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any “Imperial Dog Hair Weavers” to ask.)
-Ovcharka’s definitely have wolves as direct ancestors. A South Russian Ovcharka skull is built almost identical to wolf’s.
-After a Ovcharka completed a herding mission (sometimes driving up to 8,000 sheep at a time across treacherous terrain with journeys lasting up to two years) the dogs were kept wherever their final destination ended. The Ovcharka were then bred with other dogs and different breeds branched out from the Ovcharka breed.
-War often threatened to end the breed line. During the Royal Revolution kennels were plundered and the dogs were stolen or killed. It is told that many of the kidnapped dogs were so loyal to their families that they were ultimately shot because they “revolted” against their unlawful owners. During World War II the breed was nearly destroyed when bombs leveled the most successful breeding kennels (owned by the Falz-Fein family). When the country was trying to recover from both wars, lots of dogs died because of a lack of medication and food. The breed has regained some ground and 100 Ovcharkas were shown in dog shows this year.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Tonight was my "final exam" night in cake class, course II. Yes, this was as much work as it looks like. But it sure is pretty. I knew it was a major accomplishment when Chad took a picture of the cake with his phone. Then to top it all off I made three dozen cookies for my little side business at the firm- Deetzie's Treatsies is officially in sugar shock tonight. I am going to go brush my teeth (and floss) ;0)

“N” is for Nesting Dolls

I know we’ve previously discussed by love for these wonderful little guys….but they are worthy of a second mention. In Russia nesting dolls are called “Matryoshkas” The word Matryoshkas are from the old Russian female name of “Matryona” which is Latin for mother. The dolls are a symbol of femininity and fertility.
I think I like them because it’s the wonderful idea of opening a gift to find another gift tucked inside….and another….and another.
I have seen giant dolls that have close to 25 pieces tucked inside. Most of the dolls have at least 5 and a minimum of 3. (Two dolls don’t really nest, they just hang out together, really…) The first doll is customarily a woman and the dolls inside can be of any gender. The final doll is the “baby” and it doesn’t open. In one of my sets, the baby is smaller than an apple seed! Let me tell you…dusting is always a challenge with nesting dolls. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve given up dusting.
Matryoshkas date from 1890, I think the wooden ones were the common folks answer to the elaborate Faberge egg some say they were inspired by a Japanese design. The first dolls (pictured on the left) were carved by Vasiliy Zvezdochkin and painted by Sergei Maliutin at the Children’s Education Workshop in Abramtsevo. In 1900, the wife of Savva Mamontov, displayed the dolls at the World Fair in Paris and the toy earned a bronze medal. A fad was born! And I’m so glad- I love those things!
Matryoshkas follow a theme. Some are fun, some are odd. Some feature animals, landscapes, or some even depict political leaders. I favor the elaborate fancy ones with a unique picture on each doll (of course those are the REALLY expensive ones!) You can often see the Russian political dolls too. Newer versions start with Dmitry Medvedev and then follow with Vladimir Putin, Boris Yeltsin, Mikhail Gorbachev, Joseph Stalin and then Vladimir Lenin.
I’ve found some favorites for you to take a peak at! When I pack my bags for Russia I am going to go back and read this blog to remind me to save PLENTY of room in my suitcase for nesting dolls!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"M" is for Moscow

Ahhh...Moscow. On our second trip to Russia (the one to bring Baby Deetz home) we will travel from Pskov to Moscow before we are allowed to return home. We know we must stay at least 4 business days there to process paperwork (visas, passports). Some fun facts for you:
1- Moscow is ranked #3 as the World's most expensive cities to live in. Expect to pay $1,500 USD for a two room apartment. Not 2 BEDrooms, just rooms. And we thought living in Florida was expensive!
2-10.5 million people call it home, however, the city only encompasses 417 square miles. Most people live in tiny flats and many have "dachas" or cottages outside the city.
3- It was founded in 1174.
4-Moscow has more billionaires than any other city- 74.
5- You can see St. Basil's (iconic onion dome church) Red Square (where you can see the embalmed Lenin), THE Kremlin, the GUM (mega-shopping center), the Arbat (an artsy city within the city buzzing with art, cafes, and street performers) Stalin's "Seven Sisters Skyscrapers, and the tallest freestanding tower in the World, "Ostankino" at 1,772 feet.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I know the alphabet has been taking up some time, but I just wanted to give you an update concerning the adoption and life in general.
-Chad and the youth group are home from New Orleans. It was a very successful Mission Trip. Good things. For the city and for our group. He took 76 people down there, ran two bible schools for kids in the community and had a construction work crew as well. My dad drove up from Florida and went on the trip too. He is a jack of all trades and our youth kids love "Pop". Of course, we do too.
-I've been going to Course II cake decorating. Every week we learn how to make different kinds of flowers and trims. This Monday is our "final exam" We are making a basket weave cake and putting all these flowers I've been slaving over onto the top. Can't wait to show you the finished project.
-Brittany bought a kitten. I've never been around cats, so it freaks me out a little with it's spasms. But it's very cute and I think it's name is Jasper Cullen. She's changed it like 50 times.
-I'm in a BUNCO club and Brittany and I hosted the festivities at our house. Everybody chips in a dollar and if you roll the last BUNCO of the night you win the money! We'll I won the $13 dollars at the end of the night. This morning I was walking the dogs and noticed our neighbor's were having a garage sale. They have two small kids- so I ran inside, brushed my teeth and threw on some clothes. Look what I got for baby Deetz- an exersaucer and MORE BOOKS! I have a feeling the exersaucer is going to be too small for them, but for $10 it was a steal and looks brand new. If they are too big- I'll just consign it at the church kids sale later. But guess how much everything cost all together? $13! What a deal.
-We received a letter stating that our cable was sent to Moscow and it had our Russian "case number" on it. In two weeks we need to send an e-mail to the consulate and confirm that it was received.
-Anya sent us an e-mail with a few more details. She said that the agency has personally received "two very quick referals" from Pskov and right now things are running very smoothly there. Denise (our documents manager) has sent us the Pskov documents in Word format so that we can start redoing some of the Pskov specific forms. What we have done for St. Petersburg was enough to "get us registered" and on the list for a baby. Before we travel we will just need to have the other forms completed and registered. When we travel as well there will be several things that we need to do in Pskov that we didn't need to do in St. Pete, such as get a doctor to examine us here and confirm that we are in good health. We will still need to be examined over there as well before an "8 doctor panel". I guess it won't be that bad redoing everything. At least I'll have something to do while I wait.
Stay tuned for "M" it's in the works.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

"L" is for Love

"From Russia With Love" that is.....
I love this movie. Thus the name of the blog plus someone I love already lives in Russia! I thought I was being original when I thought of the name, only to realize that there are hundreds of other blogs on different sites and even on this site with slight variations. But enough about our namesake- Onto the movie! I adore Sean Connery. He will always be James Bond to me. Chad identifies more with Roger Moore, but that is all just personal preference in our house. We are a house divided on that issue. In 1963 “From Russia With Love” was released and has grossed $79 million dollars since then. It is celebrated as one of the BEST Bond movies ever. I agree.

It has all the “Russian” clichés- Cold, Icy nights, a Soviet encryption machine called "Lektor" that will “irrevocably unbalance the world order”, KGB agents, wild gypsies, a train ride pseudo “Trans-Siberian”, an infiltrated Soviet consulate, and a sultry Russian love interest named “Tatiana Romanova” to boot. These pictures only fuel our fire of Russian mystique and intrigue.

But what does Russia have to do with “From Russia With Love”? It’s very funny to me actually. Sean Connery is Scottish, the character playing the Russian love interest; Miss Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) is Italian. The film was taped everywhere but Russia- mostly in Turkey and in Scotland, Switzerland, Venice and London as well! But here are some interesting little nuggets I found:
-In Life Magazine, President JFK lists the original book “From Russia With Love” by Ian Fleming as one of his Top Ten Books.
-The crime syndicate was called “SPECTRE” and curiously resembled SMERSH (the real life undercover agency in Russia at the time) but the films directors, Broccoli and Saltzman, wanted to avoid “controversial political overtones”. Right.
-SPECTRE training grounds for its agents were modeled after the movie “Spartacus”
-The scene where Bond returns to his hotel room to find Tatiana in his bed is the “official screen test” for future Bond wannabes and the potential leading ladies!
-Author, Ian Fleming, is rumored to have a cameo in the film. He is wearing Grey pants and a white sweater and waiting to board the train in the train scene.
-They painted white rats with cocoa powder for one of the scenes because it was illegal to film with “wild rats”
- The opening chess match is a reenactment of Boris Spassky's victory over David Bronstein in 1960.

Hard Knocks on the scene:
-The Bond Girl in this film, Daniela Bianchi, took English lessons to play the role. In the end, they dubbed her voice with another woman for the entire film.
- Bond’s alley in the film, Kerim Bey, portrayed by Pedro Armendariz, was diagnosed with terminal cancer during the filming. They moved the filming location to London so that he could be more comfortable and he worked as much as possible, though in horrible physical pain. He killed himself before the filming could be completed and a stunt double completed his role.
-While scouting locations in Scotland the climactic boat chase, the helicopter crashed into the water with Art Director Michael White and a cameraman aboard. The craft sank into 40–50 feet of water, but all escaped with minor injuries.
- Bond Girl Bianchi’s driver fell asleep behind the wheel driving to the set and filming was delayed two weeks to allow her lovely face to heal from all the bruising.
-After the crew was nearly arrested trying to procure a helicopter, they decided to go with a miniature radio operated model instead.

After it’s all said and done- I “LOVE” from Russia With Love!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"K" is for Kremlin

K is for Kremlin. Not Gremlin. I’ll be honest I thought there was only one Kremlin and it was in Moscow and I thought it was the area around St. Basil's Cathedral, like Central Park or the Mall in D.C. Turns out most Russian towns have a Kremlin and it’s not a little furry animal you can’t feed after midnight. Kremlin is Russian for “fortress or castle”. It describes a wall around a Russian city and the fortified area inside it. Turn’s out St. Basil’s isn’t even in the Moscow Kremlin. I have been misinformed! Allow me to enlighten you, dear friends.
Pskov's Kremlin is called “Krom”. When you Google images of Pskov- a picture of the Kremlin always pops up. It’s the center of the city and from the looks of it- the prettiest part of the city. The large rocky wall overlooks the Pskova and Velikaya Rivers. The wall leads to Dovmont Town, often called the “Pskov Pompeii” because of it’s also an archaeological dig site. To defend the wall, the men of Pskov carved a moat into the cliff on which the Krom stands. This moat, called the "Greblya" joined the Pskova and Velikaya rivers. There were two gates to the main tower, the Holy Gates, or “Tyomnye” Gates and the “Smerdy" Gates for the common people.

There were two bridges across the moat: the Great Bridge and the Smerdy Bridge- you guessed it- one for “important people” and one for the peasants. In the middle of the wall there is a bell tower holding the Trinity Cathedral Bells. Two of the bells are very important- one chime summoned people to town meetings, the other to State Council meetings. State prisoners were held in cellars beneath this second wall. In May of 1608 fire destroyed the walls, but was rebuilt. An act of robbery inside the Krom was a crime punishable by death! If you walk to the “kuta” or the corner of the Kremlin, behind the Cathedral, there is a garden where the famous Russian poet, Pushkin, liked to stand overlooking the Velikaya River and write poetry. Pushkin was a hopeless romantic who died as a result of a sword wound while defending the honor of his wife in a duel. Bummer.

Some words of Pushkin perhaps concerning Pskov and it’s beauty?

"Love passed, the muse appeared, the weather of mind got clarity newfound; now free, I once more weave together emotion, thought, and magic sound."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"J" is for Jewelry

Ahh…one of my favorite topics. Chad loves Amber and he was so excited when we read in our travel guide that Amber often washes up on the Russian shore line, much like sea glass here! I started out writing about Amber (80% of the World’s supply comes from the Baltic Region) and Alexandrite (a rare multi-colored stone that changes color in the light that was named after Czar Alexander) However, in my research (which has become quite enjoyable and challenging for me, I don’t know if you are enjoying it….but I am, if you aren’t don’t worry we only have 16 more letters to go!) Russian “Finift” jewelry kept coming up. With a little digging- I found the scoop and it’s quite beautiful. Finift is Greek for “alloy” or “shinning stone”- Chad did you know that? I don’t think that word was on our flashcards.
Finift is a type of intricate enamel jewelry that was created in the Rostov region of Russia. The first mention of the craft was in 1174 by Duke Andrei of Suzdal. He states that the church of the Nativity was decorated with “gold, enamel, and all type of virtue” The craft is passed along from generation to generation, it has seen it’s heyday and it’s decline in fashion, but an article I read put it this way “the main theme of this craft is a tribute to the beauty of Russia’s native land and to man’s eternal spirit-it was never lost”.
Since the 11th Century Rostov was known to have an icon painting workshop. (Icons are religious portraits painted on wood, and came in second place for the “I” word of the day.) When icon painting began to decline, the artisans transferred their expertise to enameling. The early pieces showed landscapes and people, but in the 18th Century floral designs became very popular. Finifts are still painted with a single hair brush, yikes! Rostov enamel craftsmen were commissioned to create icons, chalices, Bibles and Royal crowns. Today, the technique is used mostly in jewelry making. It is favored in jewelry making, because unlike gold, silver, and gemstones- enamel never loses it’s luster. After it is fired, it remains as beautiful as the day it was created.
But as you know, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are some beautiful examples.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"I" is for Ice

Because there is a lot of it there. I found three interesting uses of ice in Russia, since there is so darn much of it.
Ice Sports: Hockey of course is huge in Russia. The Russian men's national ice hockey team is one of the most successful national ice hockey teams in the world. They win National Championships and Olympic metals. The 2014 Winter Olympics will take place in Sochi, Russia. Don’t forget about the ice skaters and ski team too. I guess when you walk around on ice and snow the majority of the year it becomes a natural ability to skate, dance, and run on ice!

Ice Exhibits: Every year in Moscow's Krasnopresnensky Park there is an annual ice museum created, spanning miles! People come from all over the world to make giant sculptures and to compete in the festivities and millions visit. It looks pretty spectacular!

Ice Bathing: The providence of Pskov hasa“Walrus Club” similar to the “Polar Bear Club” in America. Crazy guys chop holes in the ice and go for a dip in the frigid waters in the dead of winter. Fun! You can also go to the hot/cold baths in the city, where you sit in the sauna and then take a dip in ice water.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"H" is for Hermitage

“H” is for Hermitage. I remember my first and only trip to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. We spent a day there and could have spent a week. I think it was the summer before 5th grade. What I recall about the museum is a somewhat skewed view of what the mega museum had to offer- I think it’s a mix of the photographs I’ve seen in family albums and what appeals to a 10 year old. I remember the dinosaur bones (who knew dinosaurs were so big?) the “Spirit of St. Louis” suspended in air, and the real Kermit the frog. Other than that I remember A LOT of walking. The Hermitage is to Russia as the Smithsonian is to the United States. Stuff. Everywhere. More stuff than you ever fathomable seeing in one day. Priceless paintings, sculptures, machines, artifacts, jewelry, costumes.
St. Petersburg is home to this giant museum and it was originally the “Winter Palace” to five generations of Czars. Catherine II’s acquisitions were the first contributions to the museum in the 1750’s. Bigger buildings were added, and added, and added as the collections grew. In 1837 a fire nearly destroyed it, in 1914 it was transformed into a war hospital for wounded World War I soldiers, during World War II priceless pieces were moved from place to place in an effort to preserve them. Czars were executed, palaces ransacked, however, the treasures, like a testimony of the perseverance of the Russian people remains to this day.
In 1997 a small planet in our galaxy (No. 4758 to be exact) was named after it. You can swim in the Hermitage Bay off the coast of Antigua, visit your kin folk in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, tour the Hermitage in Nashville Tennessee (a.k.a. the birthplace of Andrew Jackson), or see a branch of the Hermitage exhibits in Las Vegas after you try your luck at Roulette. (Not Russian Roulette).
Since many of us will never get an opportunity to see its treasures, you can take a virtual tour at . Be prepared to click and click and click to narrow down what you want to look at of the literal millions of items housed there. The costumes and the jewelry are my favorites! Imagine that!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Great News! (but not THE news)

I did a mobile update yesterday- but it's obviously lost in outer space! Sorry- I thought you already knew the good news!

We received our I-171-H approval in the mail yesterday from USCIS. That means- our fingerprints went through, our federal background check went through, SC DSS submitted an approved copy of our home study and all of those things orchestrated together and our approval letter and Visa 37 Cable was sent to Moscow! In layman's terms we are officially approved by the US Government to bring one darling Russian child into the United States. Or as the certificate reads "It has been determined that you are able to furnish proper care to an orphan as defined by section 101(B)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act." Yipppeee!

Our fingerprints expire on 9/27/2010 and our I-171H expires on 1/13/11. Once our child has been identified we will need to file another form (I-600) requesting that specific child be granted passage into the country. As for now-we are thrilled to be one step closer!

Friday, July 17, 2009

"G" is for Gift

“G” is for Gift. September 11th rocked the entire world. Russia’s gift to the United States showed that people from all over the World felt the shock waves.
Russian artist, Zurab Tsereteli designed a monument to give to the American people in the same spirit of the Statue of Liberty, a 100 foot monument that would serve as a constant reminder of the pain of that terrible day and the hope for a more united world in spite of it. The monument sits on the waterfront of Bayonne, New Jersey and overlooks the Hudson River into the city where the twin towers once stood. The giant monument looks like two jagged towers stretching to the sky and suspended between the two towers is a beautiful 40 foot silver tear drop. On the 11 foot base that supports the monument, etched in granite, are the names of the people who died in the 1993 and September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The monument cost $12 million dollars and arrived in five separate pieces, the fifth piece, the tear drop, was added last. Tsereteli oversaw the finishing touches himself prior to the dedication of the monument on September 11, 2006. The monument is simply called "To the Struggle Against World Terrorism".
Here is a quote from Tsereteli as his grandson translated, "From here if you looked at the trade towers, they looked as if they were blended as one," Tsereteli said pointing across the water. Tsereteli said the tear symbolizes "sadness over grief that will become happiness in the future when terrorism is defeated."I had never heard of this gift and thought you might enjoy seeing it too. Here is Tsereteli's original vision of his gift.

You can make a difference!

Once again, you can make a difference in the life of a child. Below is a brief explanation of new legislature concerning Families and Orphans and 4 simple ways you can make a difference. At the very least, please sign the petitions! The first allows international adoptive families that have jumped through hoops to get their child, for that child to become an instant US citizen when touching down on American soil. The other is to provide more funding and support to Foster Programs and Orphan aid around the World. Thank you for caring and passing this along to your friends!
NCFA is pleased to announce that the introduction of the Families for Orphans Act (H.R. 3070 and S. 1458) and the Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act (S. 1359 and H.R. 3110), both of which are a result of NCFA’s collaborative involvement in the Families for Orphans Coalition.* Both proposed acts represent a potential victory for millions of vulnerable children from around the world who need a permanent family and for child welfare advocates who proactively work globally to address the permanency needs of children.
The Families for Orphans Act would establish the Office of Orphan Policy, Diplomacy and Development within the Department of State which would have the responsibility for developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy advocating for the preservation of families and other permanency options such as intercountry adoption for orphans.
The Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act simplifies the acquisition of citizenship for internationally adopted children and removes these children of American citizens from the immigration process.
More information about the Families for Orphans Act and the Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act can be found at

How can you advocate for these children?
We are asking all you and your adoptive families to become actively engaged with your U.S. Congressional Representative and Senators by urging them to support the Families For Orphans Act and the Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act. Your visit, telephone call, letter or e-mail can make a difference in the life of a child who is desperately in need of a permanent, loving family.
1. More than 100 families and children visited Capitol Hill on July 15th and participated in 60 meetings educating Members of Congress on the importance of both legislative proposals. Congratulations to Kidsave, our coalition partner, on a successful day of advocacy.
2. In coordination with our coalition partners, we are suggesting a sustained telephone effort by asking you to call Congress over a 72-hour period on July 29, 30, or 31 and urge your three Members of Congress (two in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives) to become a Co-sponsor of the Families For Orphans Act and the Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act. Ask to speak with the Legislative Director or Chief of Staff and tell them that as a constituent you are requesting their boss’ support by becoming a Co-sponsor. You can direct the staffer to contact Senators Mary Landrieu and James Inhofe and Representatives Diane Watson and John Boozman for information on becoming a Co-sponsor. For contact information on your representative please visit and for information on your senators please visit
3. Sign the online petitions in support of these two bills. These petitions will be delivered to Congress:
The FACE Act:
The FFO Act:
4. Help us get the word out. Send this email to friends, adoptive families, and family. Post it to your Facebook, My Space, and Twitter accounts, your blog, and personal website.
On behalf of the vulnerable children worldwide, we thank you for your time and your efforts. We can make a positive difference as we work together on behalf of children.
Chuck Johnson
Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (NCFA)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"F" is for Food

O.K. Enough of not knowing anything about anything (that really shouldn't surprise us anymore) on with the alphabet people!

“F” is for Food. I had a previous post almost complete with foods of St. Petersburg with pictures of a food market (a.k.a. Grocery Store) but obviously, that material is somewhat irrelevant now! In my search of Pskov, I trust the site to tell me the inside scoop about what we will be eating in Pskov. There are 9 restaurants in the entire city, so I copy and pasted Lonely Planet’s review of each. I don’t think it sounds half bad. It reminds me of a mix of food from our travels to Alaska and Germany. I think Chad will definitely order the khash at Noev Kovcheg. I particularly like how one place is called “Restaurant” no confusion there!

1. Bavaria
Although the ambiance is lacking, Bavaria's eclectic menu (English available) and friendly service make it a good find. Dishes include perch in cabbage, stewed with beer; omelet with ham and mushrooms; and pork stuffed with plums, walnuts and cheese. The only drawback is Bavaria's location; it's about 200m south of pl Pobedy.
2. Café Gorenka
A good place for a snack or coffee, Gorenka has desserts displayed in the front counter; you can also order pizza, sandwiches, salads and ice cream.
3. Club Jaguar
Featuring an eclectic menu and friendly service, Club Jaguar is a fine place for a meal. In addition to a good three-course business lunch, you can order sushi, salads, seafood and bliny.
4. Kafe Cherskaya
One of several restaurants along this stretch of Oktyabrsky, Cherskaya has a casual vibe and boasts a cocktail menu as extensive as the food list. Cabbage soup, schnitzel and all the Russian favourites are on hand.
5. Kafe Frigate
Overlooking the Velikaya River, Kafe Frigate specialises in seafood and the usual Russian favourites (bliny , borsch, chicken Kiev). The almost elegant, red-hued dining room is strung with rigging ropes and other nautical devices, although the real kitsch arrives in the evening when the ballad-singing band takes the stage.
6. Kafe Snezhinka
A rather minimalist affair, this music-filled café attracts Pskov's youth, who gather for coffee, beer and light Russian meals. Picture windows look out across Oktyabrsky pr onto Detsky Park.
7. Noev Kovcheg
This smoky, underground restaurant is worth going to on Friday through to Sunday when the chef serves khash, a hearty Armenian dish made of meat (from cow's feet), chilli peppers, garlic and vodka, and served with lavash. If shin meat doesn't entice, you can always opt for shashlyk or dolmas.
8. Restaurant
Next door to the bus station is a simple Restaurant where you can grab a bite (eggs, bliny, open sandwiches) before catching your bus out of town.
9. Restaurant Rus
Set in the old Kremlin tower overlooking Dovmont Town, this elegant restaurant exudes atmosphere (from the tables in the tower's alcoves, you can peek out at the river through crossbow slits). Dishes are unspectacular but fresh: marinated mushrooms and potatoes; crab and tomato salad; and salmon with tomatoes and mushrooms. The ambiance is marred only by the cheesy lighting and obtrusive Russian pop. Downstairs from the restaurant is a cozy bar. English menu

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Top Ten Things about Pskov that make me feel better about being jostled around

10. I don’t know anything about Russia. I do know about the USA. Knowing what I know about the USA and our 50 States if told that I was going to New York City to adopt a baby I would be scared to death. I’ve been to NYC and I’ve been lost in NYC. If I was told I was going to say, Tifton, Georgia to adopt a baby, I would know we were going to a small quaint town with sufficient amenities. My poor analogy is an illustration of the difference between the huge city of St. Petersburg v. the tiny city of Pskov. Sometimes smaller is better, especially if you don’t speak the language and are relying on the generosity of others to navigate your way around with a small little person in tow.

9. It should be significantly cheaper to stay there. I found one hotel for $40 US dollars a night. I’m not sure if it had indoor plumbing though…..Not only that but there will be a lot less to buy and a lot less temptation to go see all the sites.

8. I always complain about too many choices. Every time I go to the grocery store, I come home to Chad and say things like “It is really necessary to have an entire aisle dedicated to cereal?” “Why do we have 764 shampoo scents to choose from?” Sometimes when you have too many choices you feel like you are missing out on something better. Sometimes simpler is better. Pskov has 9 restaurants and like 6 hotels. The obvious choice should be clear to us.

7. Another analogy for you… When I went to Germany, I wasn’t terribly impressed with Berlin. We couldn’t “wander” or adventure out past a square block of our hotel. We would most likely get terribly lost and/or it just wasn’t safe. So we experienced Berlin on guided tours and then we were confined to our rooms. We didn’t get to experience the local flavor the way we were able to in Leipzig, and the tiny Alpine villages we stayed along the way. My best memories are of those tiny villages.

6. There is a National Dog Show there. I love dogs. And a craft fair. I love crafts.

5. The people seem beautiful and friendly. Pskov is 12 miles from the coast of Estonia. Our friend Mark says he met a choir of Estonians during his travels and they were the prettiest people he has ever seen. Visit the tourism site to learn more….. www. just make sure you click on “English” on the top tab.

4. Word on the street says Pskov is faster than St. Petersburg. Faster is better.

3. We are trusting that our agency knows what they are talking about. After all they are experts, I am not.

2. God is the ultimate expert. He is in control of everything and I know for a fact that HE definitely knows what he is doing, I do not.

AND the number one thing about Pskov that make me feel better about being jostled around IS…..

1. Baby Deetz lives there. Mom brought up a good point, perhaps with it being a smaller area, the orphanages are smaller and they are receiving more one on one attention and better care. If that's the case I will gladly redo every single paper.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

We interrupt this Alphabet....

We interrupt this alphabet to let you know we just received an odd e-mail that our Dossier has been "transferred" to Pskov. It appears that Pskov is moving faster than St. Petersburg right now (faster is better) BUT we know nothing about Pskov, but that it's considerably smaller than St. Petersburg and it's geographically located between St. Petersburg and Moscow. I pulled up our online planner and it looks like the documents required by this region are A LOT different than St. Petersburg. So I am freaking out a little bit. I've come to know and love St. Petersburg and I felt comfortable with what they need from me. Are we going to have to amend things? What about USCIS? Everything we've done is geared towards St. Petersburg- are we totally changing gears? I really hate this. I wish I knew more to tell you.

Monday, July 13, 2009

"E" is for Egg

Who would pay over $14.3 million dollars for an egg? Well, maybe if it was gold and diamond encrusted and had a little rooster that magically appeared every hour on the hour from the top of the egg? (Pictured left) Maybe it was the same guy, oligarch Victor Vekelsberg, that bought 9 eggs for an estimated $90-120 million dollars in 2004. These ain’t no Piggy Wiggly extra-large eggs folks!
These National Treasures are Faberge eggs, crafted by Peter Carl Faberge between 1885 and 1917. Though many replicas and cheaper imitations exist, Faberge only created 105 jeweled masterpieces, only of which 69 are known to have survived.
The first 24 eggs were commissioned by Czar Alexander III and Nicholas II of Russia. The first egg was an anniversary/Easter gift from Alexander to his bride of 20 years, Maria. It looked simple from the outside, but inside the egg was a golden yolk and inside the yolk was ruby encrusted crown. It was a hit with Maria (duh) and every year a new egg was commissioned. His son, Nicholas, kept up the family tradition, giving an egg to his mother, Maria, after Alexander’s death (good son) and of course one to his wife (smart man).
Seven eggs were made for the Kelch family of Moscow and a few here and there for some privileged few. However, those eggs are not nearly as ornate as the “Imperial Eggs” for the Czars and their brides.
If you would like to see the eggs, the majority are housed in public museums. 30 of them remain in Russia. (Mr. Faberge was forced to flee the country during the Russian Revolution and later died in Switzerland after the executions of the Romanov family. The Romanov palaces were ransacked and Lenin ordered the treasures moved to Moscow. Later Stalin sold quite a few to “outsiders” to generate revenue)
If you would like to see a few of the eggs in the United States, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts house 5, New Orleans Museum of Art house 3, Hillwood Museum of Washington D.C. house 2, Walters Art Museum of Baltimore house 2, and the Cleveland Museum of Art has one too. The others are scattered amongst Europe, private collections, and 36 remain missing to this day. Now that would be an Easter Egg Hunt. Can’t you just see some guy showing up on the Antiques Road Show with that thing in toe? “Well, this egg belonged to my Great Aunt Ruth, my wife thinks it’s tacky so we keep it down in the basement and let the grandkids play catch with it…..”

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"D" is for Dwarf Hamster

A Russian Dwarf Hamster that is.... There are three species of hamsters that are indigenous to Russia/Mongolia area. They are significantly smaller than "American" hamsters, sometimes only growing to 4-5 centimeters! Basically- it's a furry bug.
The three breeds are Roboroski’s dwarf hamster, the Campbell’s Russian dwarf hamster and the Winter White Russian dwarf hamster. All are lumped together and called "Russian Dwarf Hamsters"

Winter White Dwarf Hamsters- Changes colors in the winter! Cool! It starts out dark grey, but turns snowy white as winter approaches to help camouflage itself from predators.
The rarest of the three species, the Winter White dwarf hamster is a very friendly creature.

Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamsters-It's know to come in a rainbow of colors-even coming in hues of lilac and blue as well as cinnamon and black. Hmm....

Roboroski Dwarf Hamsters- doesn't get along with the other two dwarf hamsters because it has no cool super powers like a Technicolor coat or camouflage powers.