Friday, August 28, 2009

Cover Letter

This week we applied for an adoption grant, despite rumors that they have no money to give due to the downturn in the economy. At best we'll receive a thousand dollars to help defer some of our travel costs. We are about $13,000 away from our goal. The problem is, we look too good on paper from a financial point of view. If I saw our application I wouldn't give us any money, it appears that we have plenty! And don't get me wrong- we are so blessed. We both work VERY hard for the money we earn, and even with my shopping habit, we really are conscious of everything we spend. But I'm sure there are SOOOO many people that have no other options. However, we have a great support system and have not given up hope of finding creative ways to raise money. If anything we are using the application as a way to gauge if we are wasting our time trying to get "grants". Please keep us in your prayers as we try to decide what to do. If we are unable to fundraise the last bit, we are weighing the options of borrowing the money, at least until we can get our adoption credit to pay it back.
Anyway, after I got through filling out the gigantic application, another page popped up with all of the documents we need to produce to be considered (tax returns, an essay on why we want to adopt, letters of references, a letter from our pastor, our personal testimony, copies of our home study, a letter verifying our adoption from our agency) Ugh. More paperwork. I just have a feeling that this is a lost cause. But we want to exhaust every possible avenue. I want to know that we tried. It really is a catch 22 with adoption funding. You need to earn enough to show Russia you can support a family, but you can't earn too much that you over qualify for a loan/grant. It leaves folks with student loans/mortgages/bills to pay in the lurch. For all the grants you have to send a cover letter explaining your intent along with "supporting documents" of various forms. This is what I'm thinking:
Dear Sir or Madam:
Thank you for considering me for your grant. I promise that I have already signed my life away and had my finances gone over with a fine tooth comb. I have been fingerprinted, examined, poked and prodded. I have had my bank verify how much to the penny I owe on my home. My employer has verified my salary and benefits. I have provided copies of my life insurance, health insurance, dental insurance, and 401k. My doctor has vouched for me too. I have driven to Columbia. I have driven to Flat Rock. I have made endless phone calls. I have sent nice e-mails, mean e-mails, and frustrated e-mails. If I've gotten this far, I think my quest is legit. I promise that I am not trying to fool you about adopting a child. I really want one. I don't have an $13,000 lying around in our bank account. I am not making this up. I do not like to fill out paperwork so that even more people can look at how much I earn, how much I give to Goodwill, how much I pay per month for my telephone service, and what my blood type is. I just want a baby.

I think it's good. Whadda ya think? Direct, honest, to the point. It will definitely make us stand out in a crowd. No really- I've started to gather the necessary information to apply and we will send it out next week. I just want to know what our options are.

BUT.....In the meantime, I've been thinking a lot about our next course of action. These are my plans:
1- Have a garage sale (a.k.a. make room for Baby Deetz sale) We have too much stuff. That can wait until the weather gets cooler. Maybe end of September/October?
2- Talk to our Pastor about a benefit dinner at the church. Get local vendors to donate some items for an auction. Time to call in some favors! If I can get the food donated, then our cost would be next to nothing. I am sending him an e-mail today.
3-Baby Cakes. My last cake class is this monday. I am so excited about my cake- I think it's going to be great. The picture is a sneak peak at some of the elements I've made in advance. After I snap some pics I want to launch Baby Cakes- another way to use my talents to save some "dough".
We need to get moving. I hate sitting still. Full speed ahead is my favorite speed!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Super Sleuth

Every once in a while my boss calls me Columbo. Sometimes he calls me Nancy Drew or Sherlocke. Once even Matlock. I think he does it to make fun of me, but I take it as a compliment. Most of you probably know this, but I am a personal injury paralegal. Sometimes we get in cases with a lot of missing information, sometimes cases with medical mysteries, some with mysterious witnesses, or missing reports/news stories/911 calls- that sorta thing. Most people would probably find this annoying and move on to "bigger fish to fry" but I JUST...CAN'T....LET...IT...GO...... It haunts me. We live in a World of never ending information. I will dig and dig and dig until I reach China. And then I'll dig my way back. I just HATE to be beaten!

Anyway- with a little digging yesterday I was in touch with two families that adopted from CWA and are "Pskov" families just like us! And yes I found #1 (to our #2) It was so wonderful to talk to them (when I say talk I mean e-mail, I mean who "talks" anymore?) and share our stories. We shared words or encouragement and compared notes. It is always nice to hear that children are being brought home from any country, including ours, wonderful to see that our agency is bringing home children from all over the World, it's even more reassuring to me to see that children are coming home from Russia, but imagine my delight to know that children are coming home from PSKOV! And through CWA! I was encouraged and uplifted. It reminded me to have a bit more of a global perspective, not just to pray for Baby Deetz, but for families that have been waiting longer and are so eager for news. Hopefully, in turn, someone will remember to pray for Baby Deetz too, someone who has never met Chad and I, but shares a common bond.
One thing adoption does is broadens your sense of community. When we share with people about our plans to adopt, 9 times out of 10 they say "My cousin....." or "I have a family in my church that adopted twins...." Then our new "nuclear" family, the ones that have walked this road and fought this fight. We hear some stories and think "I hope that doesn't happen to us!" (Like the family that was stuck in Moscow for 26 days because their home study wasn't worded properly) and some stories that are our hearts desire (the story of the little Russian boy that was adopted that is so full of "joy" and has adjusted perfectly to life with his forever family.) I know that you can't believe everything you hear will happen to you (the family that was registered in their region for 3 days and received a referral) but it gives you hope that sometimes things work in your favor, that for every step back sometimes you leap three ahead. But one common thread binds us all together, that despite this roller coaster, God's grace is always sufficient. And THAT doesn't take a super sleuth to figure out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Question of the day

Question of the day:

"Would I be arrested or get my car towed if I parked here?"


"I doubt the law would get involved. BUT- I wouldn't risk it. The guilt would be too much to bare if I passed a giganto preggo lady on the way out to my car walking in from the back 9."

Side Note:
Who would have the nerve to ask me if I really was "expecting" in the traditional sense of the word. Maybe the pregnancy police would be waiting for me at my car and make me pee on a stick. That would be hilarious. I think someone should do that on that candid camera show. I need to write them immediately! Wait: Is that show still on? If not they should bring it back JUST to do that prank.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Second Place!

I was in the midst of posting a blog full of angst and bitterness. But I erased it. I was feeling a little poopy and sad today. Just feeling like nothing is moving. So many people have asked us lately “Have you heard anything??” and I WANT you to ask us that- don’t get me wrong, I just HATE saying “I don’t know anything”. It would be so much better if I knew what to tell you. Even if we had to wait longer, say into next year, I at least could tell you “It’s going to be Spring of next year” but I can’t say that. I just say to you, “well it could be today, it could be tomorrow, it could be spring of next year!” we just don’t know anything!

On Friday I sent our case manager an e-mail just to confirm that she received the new updated documents (she had) and she threw in a little additional information and since inquiring minds want to know, I present that information to you now for your reading pleasure:

1- We are currently number 2 in line waiting for a “young child” in Pskov. (That is better news than I anticipated, I MEAN SECOND PLACE IS ONLY ONE PLACE AWAY FROM 1ST PLACE!) She said she would let us know when we were #1 on the list.

2- The two families that received referrals from Pskov before us waited 8 months and 4 months for their children. We’ve already been waiting 1 month…..

3- The agency is hoping to receive some more referrals from our region in mid-late September. That means if there is one referral in September, then we would be number 1. If they receive two referrals, then, well, we would be getting a referral.

I know this information is extremely vague and surrounded by a lot of “if’s”. But I think the main thing is to keep hope alive and know that it WILL happen. Everyone’s case is so different, it’s impossible to pinpoint anything exact. Our agency is doing the best they can to give us a time frame, they have no way of knowing either. We want to be excited and think “we could be traveling to Russia in the fall” but in the back of my mind I always think “That's too fast! They won’t call until we’ve given up hope.” Fall would be a miracle. Y’all just keep praying that we are the exception to the rule, since God is in the miracle business, let’s just keep his business alive and well.

On my way home, I passed a church marquee that read “Thank God in advance for His blessings” Tonight, please join with me in giving thanks for bringing Baby Deetz home in His perfect timing. We are praying for a miracle!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Room with a view!

I am thrilled to announce that EVERYTHING, yes EVERYTHING in Baby Deetz's room belongs to Baby Deetz. I have cleaned out the closet and removed all that mysterious stuff you accumulate in "spare bedrooms" and now every single thing belongs exclusively to them. Now, I would be misleading you if given the impression that everything is IN ORDER. It's a mess in there. But at least I've weeded out the clothes/bags/sheets/pillows and other random things and now all items are exclusively for baby. That was quite a feat. I still think Alex thinks we've made this room for him.
Next steps:
1-Get the shelving unit into the closet so that all this stuff has a place to go.
2-Paint the walls
After we know for sure if it's a boy or a girl:
1-Stencil/word art the walls (Gears or flowers)

Here is my latest find- The Baptist Church by our house had a Children's consignment sale last weekend. I found this "Boon" brand frog that hangs on the wall for bath toy storage (it's back is a removable scoop for fishing out toys) for $3! I saw one at Babies-R-Us for $30! What a deal!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I am not making this up. My doorbell just rang. The home owners association president's wife just came to get the sign. I wanted to ask if she reads my blog. She was standing at the door while I put the dogs away. I saw her starring at this.....

Question of the Day

Question of the Day:

"WHY are we still yard of the month?"


"Obviously, they want Baby Deetz to see the award in person when they arrive home."

Side note:
I've suggested some new signage to the home owners association. "Yard of the 3 months and 5 days and counting award" or maybe even "Weed Patch of the Month" It's like those cheeky "My kid beat up your honor student" bumper stickers. Just a thought.....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

People and things that ROCK!

People that rock: As you know I sent our additional docs to Columbia to be Apostilled on Monday afternoon. Well this morning I got a package at work and they had already come back. My first thought was- Ughhh. I screwed up and it came back to me. A business card was attached inside. Everything was already done! The card was from Patricia at the SC Secretary of State's Office, the same lady that helped me before on my little road trip in June! I was so thankful, I almost cried.... That was so fast! I had the package back out the door on the way to Flat Rock before 10:00am this morning. I sat down and wrote her a thank you note, I was so grateful for her helping us so quickly. Maybe things are slow in the SOS office, but in my mind I see a woman that went the extra mile, dropped everything and got it done for Baby Deetz. The most she could have had it in her hands was an hour before sending it back out. PATRICIA YOU ROCK!

More people that rock: Our church people. Chad was in a meeting last night and was giving a report about the youth department and his very busy summer. Someone, concerned for his mental health I suppose, asked him when we were going on vacation since we didn't take one this summer. He kindly responded that our funds and our time is spent on Russia and that would hopefully be our vacation this year/early next year. After he got home from the meeting last night, two church people had called the house- one offering a beach house for the week and another to use their house in the mountains! WOW. We were just at a loss for words at people's generosity in our lives. We have such a spectacular family, God is just indulging us with a spectacular church family too.

Friends that rock: You'll also notice the bringing home the baby "Ticker" has made another jump. Thank you friends!

Things that rock: I am little addicted to craigslist. I have never bought anything from anyone that have posted an add, I have found a few garage sales here and there to check out- but I mainly just LOVE looking at people's junk. Since everyone is local- it's a lot more intimate than ebay (which I also love). It always surprises me what people think they can sell and put a picture up for the world to see "I am trying to sell my 15 year old Lazy Boy. The fabric is torn on the right arm and it smells like my cat, but if you'll come pick it up I'll only charge you $15. Call Billy Bob for more info." It's like looking in 100 people's houses and looking at what didn't sell in their yard sale. Fascinating. Well last night I was perusing the "Baby Items" looking for a not so hideous glider/ottoman (didn't find any, they were all grody) and came across "Baby Rock Star Clothes" It grabbed my interest, so I took a peek and it was soooo cute. And $15 for the lot of stuff! So I contacted Rock Star's Mama and arranged a pickup at our local Pizza dive downtown. It was kinda exciting- like a stakeout. And look at how cool the stuff is....especially the little Chuck Taylors! Love it! Baby Deetz: you are going to be the coolest baby, surrounded by so many people that ROCK!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fondant makes you crazy.

My first Fondant class was last night.
Let me just tell you that Fondant is harder than it looks. Where as decorating with icing and piping bags is more of a "precision" art, fondant is more of a manual labor art. You knead the dough, pull the dough, roll the dough, incorporate gum paste (to make it more elastic and durable, and then stretch and cut, stretch and cut, smoothing it every step of the way. By the end of class I was in a full sweat! Who knew cake decorating could be an aerobic workout? This cake was to learn more "technique" than to be pretty- so it's a little bland. I ended up taking off a lot of the other elements and making it a little more appealing because I wanted to bring it into the office to share. So I added the flowers and the draped ribbon. Oh and I took off the giant thing that looked like a washcloth. I just couldn't bring myself to share an ugly cake. The inner Martha came out a little bit. I decided that even if you aren't OCD, cake decorating could make you that way. Every little bump and nick makes you crazy. You keep trying to smooth it out over and over again. I had finally come to grips with the tiny pin holes in the fondant where the ribbons didn't match up by the time I got home. Chad really was impressed with the cake, but then he said "Is it suppose to have the tiny holes in the top?" I gave him the look. You know the one.
Adoption news: Yesterday we sent everything we had to redo after the switch to Pskov to Columbia to be Apostilled. As soon as we get it back we'll send it back to the agency and then on to Russia. We've been getting a lot of questions about this.....WE ARE fully registered in Pskov, what we sent to St. Pete was sufficient for Pskov. BUT before we receive a referral we needed to do some papers specific to the new region. We still haven't heard anything and I really don't expect to anytime soon. But I could be surprised.... who knows! That's just the thing- we just don't know. I am feeling November. But I have a sinking feeling it's going to be next year. But I guess it could be tomorrow too. It's like cake. You just can't dwell on the little nicks and bumps or you'll go crazy.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Z" is for Zones

O.K.- here we are....The last letter of the alphabet! I was searching for some facts about Russia just to tie everything together for you and came across this fun bit of trivia- The earth has 24 time zones. Russia is so vast that it covers 11 of the 24! Can you imagine living in a place so diverse and huge that if it was 12:00 noon in Pskov, it's 10:00pm on the eastern edge? Here are some more fun facts:

1. Russia covers about 1/8 of all the land on Earth (6.63 million sq. miles)
2. Capital city: Moscow, population 11 million
3. Population of Russia: 145.5 million
4. Religion: 59% Russian Orthodox, 36% Muslim, 3% non-Orthodox Christian, 1% Jewish
5. Education: Free to all citizens, children must attend for 11 years (age 6-17)
6. Highest point: Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus Mountain Range at 18,510 feet
7. Lowest point: Coast of the Caspian Sea, 92 feet below sea level
8. Holidays: New Year's Day (January 1 and 14) Russian Orthodox Christmas (January 7) Soldier's Day (February 23) Women's Day (March 8) Labor Day (May 1-2) Victory Day (May 9) Independence Day (June 12) Constitution Day (December 12)

And now for some weird facts:
I hope you enjoyed the alphabet, it was a fun way to pass a month for me! Now back to real blog life. Talk to you soon!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

“Y” is for Yuri

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (March 9, 1934-March 27, 1968) was born in Klushino Russia to poor parents. Yuri had three siblings and was raised by his oldest sister while his parents worked to support his family. His other two siblings were sent to Germany during World War II and died in the German work camps. He dreamed of space and becoming a pilot. An early teacher fostered that dream and Yuri joined the Russian space program after a short career as a military pilot. The Russians had already sent a dog into space (her name was Laika and she sadly died just a few hours into her flight). But still, they thought that a human in space could work too. Yuri must have been one brave guy since it didn’t work out so well for poor Laika. On April 12, 1961 he became the first human to travel to outer space in the Vostok 1.
During his flight, Gagarin famously whistled the patriotic song "The Motherland Hears, The Motherland Knows" The first two lines of the song are: "The Motherland hears, the Motherland knows/Where her son flies in the sky". He was also recorded as saying “The earth is blue. How wonderful! It is amazing.” Anti-religious propaganda spread rumors that Yuri muttered “I don’t see any God up here” It was later revealed that Yuri was baptized and raised in the Orthodox Church and had a strong faith in God and that he was misquoted by a employee of the space program.
His whole trip into space only lasted just short of two hours. After his return safely home, Russia would not allow Yuri to make anymore flights into space in fear of loosing a National hero after Vladimir Komarov (See “V” is for Vladimir) died in space. Yuri began his training to re-qualify as a fighter pilot, he also became the training director of “Star City” the cosmonaut training base still in operation today. In 1968, during a routine training flight, Yuri died when the plane crashed near Kirzhach, Russia. He was only thirty four years old. Yuri and his co-pilot were buried in the Kremlin on Red Square, Moscow. Rumors and speculation surrounded the crash and the air base’s involvement in the crash, but to this day the cause of the crash is shrouded in mystery.
Originally picked because of his “small stature” and ability to fit into the cramped quarters of a rocket ship, Yuri was a brave hero that paved the way for space exploration. Just a little side note: The first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, was also Russian and made a three day space flight in June of 1963.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

“X” is for......

Can you believe we only have two more letters left? Next Thursday marks one month since we’ve been fully registered in Pskov. Time has flown by! Now that the alphabet is almost over, how will we pass the time now? I’m open to suggestions- I have a few things in mind, but would love to hear from you too.
I’m torn between two x’s. That sounds exciting doesn’t it? So “X” is for “X-ray girl” and “exports”. (I know “exports” doesn’t really start with an x, but it should.)
Natasha Demkina from Saransk, Russia claims she has an extraordinary gift that reminds me of something out of the comics- she claims to have x-ray vision. Apparently, she has been a super genius since birth and following a botched surgery of her own when she 10 years old, she started telling her mother that she could see “inside” people as in organs, bones, guts. She says that her powers work like a switch- she can turn the x-ray machine on and off with her mind.
Her case has not been proven or disproved. Her first “test” was when Natasha was asked to draw a picture of a doctor’s guts. She drew a picture of his stomach, with a dark spot exactly where the doctor had an undiscovered ulcer. She has also been able to isolate cancerous tumors and find broken bones. The Discovery Channel did a documentary on her, so there must be something to it. Ripley’s Believe It or Not?, Anyone?
I think the lady behind her in the picture is wearing "x-ray" goggles.

10. Fish & shellfish … $375.3 million
9. Fertilizers, pesticides & insecticides
8. Steel making materials … $635.6 million
7. Nickel … $645.3 million
6. Precious metals … $697.6 million
5. Finished metal products other than steel … $852.9 million
4. Nuclear fuels … $866.3 million
3. Semi-finished iron & steel products … $1.5 billion
2. Aluminum … $1.8 billion
1. Oil & other petroleum products …US$10 billion

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"W" is for Women

Mom= mama
Mother= mat (with a long a)
Daughter= dotchka
Female Friend= (podruga, pronounced as pahdrooga)

Every year on March 8th, Russia celebrates “Women’s Day”. From what I understand, this holiday is a mix between Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. ALL Women are honored with cards, chocolate, gifts, and flowers. Children honor their Mothers and Grandmothers, too. Kate (my friend on the inside) says that ALL women, married or not, working or not, mothers or not, are honored and celebrated! Hurray for women!

What seems to me like a sweet tradition originally had roots in the Feminist Movement. The tradition began in the early 1900’s, as a sign of the times with the quest for equal rights for working women and peace rallies for World War I in America. In Russia in 1913, following the October Revolution, Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Lenin to make it an official holiday in the Soviet Union. It was established, but still a working holiday until 1965. On May 8, 1965 by the decree of the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet International Women's Day was declared as a non working day in the USSR "in commemoration of the outstanding merits of Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defense of their Motherland during the Great Patriotic War, in their heroism and selflessness at the front and in the rear, and also marking the great contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples, and the struggle for peace. But still, women's day must be celebrated as are other holidays."

Why don’t we celebrate Women’s Day? I think we should! I think this may be one Russian tradition we integrate into our household after Baby Deetz arrives!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"V" is for Vladimir


10. Vladimir Aleksandrovich Dzhanibekov (born May 13, 1942) was a cosmonaut who made five flights.

9. Vladimir Vladimirovitch Mayakovsky July 1893- April 14, 1930 was one of the foremost Russian poets of the early 20th century. He was imprisoned on numerous occasions for his political views. During a period of solitary confinement in Butyrka prison in 1909 he began writing poetry.

8. Vladimir Horowitz (October 1, 1903 - November 5, 1989) was a classical pianist. He is regarded as one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century.

7. Vladimir Petrov (July 22, 1896 – January 7, 1966) was a Soviet film director and screenwriter. He directed 24 films between 1928 and 1964. Vladimir Petrov was awarded Stalin Prize five times. I think this was like the Stalin Academy Awards- I wonder if they had a little gold Stalin?

6. Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977), wrote first in Russian, then in English, author of Lolita. I'll admit- this is the first Vladimir I've actually known. That's why he's number 6 in my book.

5. Vladimir Kosma Zworykin (1889-1982) is a pioneer of television. Zworykin invented the iconoscope, a television transmitting tube and the kinescope, the tube that projects pictures it receives onto a screen. He also invented the electron microscope. I was impressed so I put him as number 5! He sounds smart.

4. Vladimir Mikhailovich Komarov (March 16, 1927 - April 24, 1967) was a Soviet cosmonaut. He was the first human who died during a space mission, on Soyuz 1. I felt sorry for him dying, so I gave him a high rank.

3. Vladimir Petrov ice hockey player, gold metalist, and former president of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation. I put him as number 3 because I thought he was the cute hockey player I see in the news all the time from Pskov, and I wanted to show you his picture- but it turns out he's not. I am just too lazy to re-do the numbers.

2. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (April 1870- January 21, 1924), who adopted the pseudonym Lenin was a Russian revolutionary, the leader of the Bolshevik party, the first leader of the Soviet Union and the founder of the ideology of Leninism. Lenin was born in Simbirsk and died in Leninskie Gorki after a series of strokes after an attempted assassination. His embalmed body is on permanent exhibition in the Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow.

1. Vladimir Putin, born in 1952 in Leningrad, is the current prime minister of Russia. Putin served two terms as President of Russia from March 2000-March 2008 and is considered one of the most beloved leaders of Russia.

I'm sure I forgot a few! Vladimir is a very popular name!

*On a side note: We received an e-mail from the Russian Consulate stating that they received our "Cable 37" confirming that we are cleared to adopt one Russian boy or girl up to age 2. Yipppee! They really do know about us!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

"U" is for U.S.S.R.

So, I'm struggling a little bit with these last few letters of the alphabet! I had made up my mind that I was going to skip "U" and just give "U" an update on the adoption. Then I signed in an was reading my comments and a new visitor named Madeline left a comment. She said that her two children were adopted from the Pskov region and she was printing all the "ABC" posts out for her kids to read someday! I decided I would be letting Madeline and the kids down if their alphabet wasn't complete! So hi darlings and this "U" is just for "U"!

Russia is a huge, gigantic place and it use to be even bigger. From 1922 until 1991, Russia was part of an even bigger country called the U.S.S.R. (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). After the fall of Communism, smaller countries splinted off into independent countries. Here is the National Anthem of Russia during Communist rule:

Unbreakable union of freeborn republics great Russia has welded forever to stand!Created in struggle by will of the peoples united and mighty, our Soviet land!
Sing to the Motherland, home of the free,
Bulwark of people, in brotherhood strong!
Oh! Party of Lenin! The strength of the people.
To Communism's triumph lead us on!
Through tempests the sun rays of freedom have cheered us along the new path where great Lenin did lead! To a righteous cause he raised up the people Inspired them to labour and valorous deed!
In the victory of Communism's deathless ideal, We see the future of our dear land And to her fluttering scarlet banner, selflessly true, we always shall stand!

After Stalin's death in 1953, and "de-stalinazation" was taking place, the song was never played with the lyrics! In 2000, when Putin was president, a new anthem was written. Sergey Mikhalkov who wrote the original communist music and lyrics, wrote the new song as well:

Russia — our sacred state,Russia — our beloved country. A mighty will, a great glory —Your possession for all future ages!
Glory to you, our free Fatherland,
Age-old union of fraternal peoples,
Ancestor-given wisdom of the people!
Glory to you, our country! We are proud of you!
From the southern seas to the polar regions Spread our forests and fields. You are unique in the world! You alone are like this —Our dear land kept safe by God!
Wide amplitude for dreams and for living Gets opened up for us with each passing year.Loyalty to the Fatherland gives us strength.Thus it was, is, and always shall be!

As for the adoption update- it isn't all that exciting anyway, we just found out what we needed to re-do and it wasn't a lot so I re-did it fairly quickly. Since we are registered with the region, I think I'll forgo the road trip this time and use Fed-Ex. After all- as Kate would say- "There's no Rush in Russia" and I think they won't mind if we take another couple of days to get the updated Pskov docs to them. As soon as I get a chance to actually sit down with Chad and carry on a conversation, I need him to sign everything and we'll repeat the Apostille/agency/Russia routine once again. The end of summer is always a sprint to the finish line in Youth ministry, we are bringing in the new 7th graders tonight, and saying goodbye to the seniors as they venture off to college. Our "pretend" son and intern, Jordan, leaves on Wednesday after spending three months with us. I am really going to miss him. Pray for me as I will be experiencing an empty nest too!

I'll keep you posted- but not until the alphabet is complete! I have a new found responsibility and purpose that must continue for 5 more posts- V,W,X,Y, & Z!

Friday, August 7, 2009

"T" is for Travel

With Russia's large land area and harsh conditions, transportation has always been a major problem for its people and government. Things have gotten a lot better, but it will still prove to be quite an adventure!

Trains- The most famous railway in Russia is the Trans-Siberian. It runs 6,000 miles (the longest continuous rail line on earth) or 1/3 of the globe! You can also catch connections to Europe (Germany, Paris) or even to Budapest, Beijing, or Helsinki! The railway was the original vision of Czar Alexander III, but it wasn’t completed until 1905. When we travel to Pskov, we will most likely take the train to Moscow (12 hours) to finalize our paperwork and return to the United States. If we arrive via St. Petersburg, it is a 6 hour train ride from Pskov. I’m not sure on our modes of transportation other than the definite plane trip over there….ugh. Here is a picture of the train station in Pskov.

Planes- Right now, if I were to book a flight from our neck of the woods to St. Petersburg (per Travelocity) we would have our choice between Delta, Luftstansa, United, Northwestern, Continental, Air France, Royal Dutch Air, or Polish Airlines. It would cost about $800 per person and we would be in the air anywhere from 16 ½ hours to 28 hours! There are no direct flights so we would most likely layover in the states (Tennessee, Atlanta, JFK, D.C.) and then again in Amsterdam or Frankfurt. Either way we would leave one day and arrive the next day. To fly to Moscow is about 12-15 hours, with one domestic layover and then a straight flight into Moscow. But then you would have to take a 12 hour train ride! I keep telling Chad we could wait for the Alaskan Bering Straight to freeze over, drive to Alaska, over the frozen ocean into Russia and then through Siberia. It would only take us like- a year.
Automobiles- Michele sent me an interesting site called It blogs about weird and wacky places all over the world. They have a special “Best of Russia” series. You should definitely check it out Anyway, there is a “Worst Roads” category and Russia received the #2 ranking in the World! The road is in Siberia and is the only way to the city of Yakutsk. In the winter is a sheet of ice, which may sound like what qualifies it as the “worst” but in actuality the warm months are WORSE! The road turns into every redneck’s mudslinging fantasy. When cars get stuck they have been known to cause week long traffic jams stretching for miles. Women have given birth waiting for rescue. The city has to fly in rescue relief (food, clean water, medication) when it gets really bad. You have got to check out the link and look at these pictures! It sparked a long conversation in our office. “What makes you think you can make it 1,000 miles on THAT road in a tiny toy car?” “Why did that boy take off his pants to walk in the mud, but not his shoes?” “What would make you drive on that road if you were 8 ½ months pregnant?” There is also a funny story (with lots of pictures) called “one day in the life of a Russian motorist” If your car ever breaks down, you can look at these pictures and know that it could be MUCH, MUCH worse!
Boats- You COULD take a boat to Russia. It would take a REALLY long time! You could also watch “Deadliest Catch” and totally change your mind.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

“S” is for Saint

Specifically, St. Olga, the founder of Pskov. I know this is a stretch- but I just had to fit her in! Her story is one of relevant redemption that I find inspiring.

As you know, from “P” is for Pskov- St. Olga is the first name mentioned in Pskov history. When she met her husband, Prince Igor in the early 900s Olga was a peasant woman and Igor was so enthralled by her beauty that he brushed off some waiting princesses to marry her. They had a son together and Olga and Igor remained pagans as much of the county at that time. Igor was later murdered and Olga became the first female ruler of her region. She avenged her husband’s death by tracking down the murderers and “scalding them to death”. Whoa.

A few years later, she ventured to Constantinople where she converted into Christianity. Not a lot is recorded about her actual conversion from paganism- There is a text from her baptism: "Blessed are you among Russian women, for you have forsaken the darkness and have loved the Light. The Russian people shall bless you in all the future generations, from your grandson and great-grandson to your furthermost descendants." He instructed her in the truths of the Faith, rules of the Church, how to pray, and he explained the commands about fasting, chastity and charity. Some say that the clergyman baptizing her tried to marry her, but Olga “outwitted him” and used his own words of “chastity” against him. She said that it would be wrong for a goddaughter to marry her godfather. What started as a personal quest ended in Olga’s true conversion. She became the first Christian in Russia. Here is her statement of faith: "God's will be done! If it pleases God to have mercy upon my native Russian Land, then they shall turn their hearts to God, just as I have received this gift."

She devoted the rest of her life to converting pagans, building churches, and spreading the gospel. The Trinity Cathedral in Pskov was built by Olga at the River Velika at a spot pointed out to her from on high, according to the chronicler, by a "light-beam of the Thrice-Radiant Divinity”. The white church with three towers is the most famous landmark in Pskov.

In her lifetime, she worked endlessly to convert her son to Christianity. She died never knowing if her efforts were in vain. However, her grandson, Prince Vladimir, underwent a miraculous conversion in his life and helped to spread Christianity throughout Russia. With God, a tiny seed of faith can win an entire nation to Christ. St. Olga was God’s first chapter in Russia’s Holy Church. And just think, Baby Deetz is considered one of Olga’s “furthermost descendant” in this great story of grace and redemption!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

"R" is for Ruble

Rubles are Russian Money. I'm sure that most of you knew that- I just wanted to make sure to cover all the bases. 31 Rubles are equivalent to $1 (U.S. Dollar).
Quiet Money (Paper money) comes in the following notes:
5 rubles (since discontinued, but still legal tender), 10 rubles, 50 rubles, 100 rubles, 500 rubles, 1000 rubles and 5000 rubles.
Noisy Money (Coins) come in the following denominations:
1 kopeks, 5 kopeks, 10 kopeks, 50 kopecks, 1 ruble, 2 rubles, 5 rubles and 10 rubles.

In 2008 the National Poverty line in Russia is 3,250 Rubles per month ($104 USD). 14% of people in Russia earn less than $104 dollars a month. In 1998 40% of the population fell below the poverty line.
In 2008 the average salary of a person living in Russia is $640 US dollars per month (19,938.15 Rubles)

If you were on welfare you would receive the following:
Milk & kefir (yogurt) (20 Rubles)
Sugar (18 Rubles)
Bread (20 Rubles)
Beef (120-150 Rubles)
Pork (150-200 Rubles)
Fish (100-200 Rubles)
Curds (120 Rubles)
Salt (5 Rubles)

As well as an allowance for 1 winter coat (to last 7 years) and a two-piece suit (to last 5 years)