Thursday, July 30, 2009

the vacation lottery

We got a call last night from my parents asking if they can take Dima for a few days for a mini-vacation at their house. I was like - sure go ahead... Well, you'd have thought Dima'd won the lottery, he was so excited! Josh was too and wanted to go along and I had to remind him that he already had a week there being the little prince of the house. This morning the boys were still talking about what Dima's going to do there. Josh was saying that Poppy's going to take him to "see all the secrets" when I asked about it he said he meant the car museum and things like that that kept him going while he was there. I had to explain that since they like different things Dima's trip would most likely entail doing things like playing in the creek and going out for all you can eat clams instead of car stuff. Again this afternoon they talked about Dima going away. It's always interesting to hear them discuss something and hear their slant on things - from what they've said I think Josh is really happy for him and it's as if Dima can't believe he's the chosen one this time.

Our little friend who came to swim lessons with us on Monday and Tuesday was like - "Josh, all you talk about is cars!" and after the twentieth time of listening to Cotton Eyed Joe on one of Josh's trucks she was saying "can you please stop it" I tried to explain to her that sometimes you just have to tune it out. It was nice to have another kid for Josh to play with - someone other than me - we stopped at a playground for them to goof around on the way back from swim lessons on Tuesday and they had a great time playing together pretending to be in a house on fire and then one would call 911 and the other would be a firefighter and slide down a pole on the playground and go rescue the other. That scenario was a suggestion I made once they showed interest in the pole and they took off with it and played quite a while.

Dima's done with "camp" as of today and he got rave reviews behavoir and grade - wise from his teacher. That's really saying something since she's the same teacher he had when first grade began and while in her class earlier in the year he had all kinds of issues - The only thing that seemed to be a problem this time was the bus ride and I think the driver being occupied with trying to drive makes it easy to get away with bothering other kids and pushing his limits. Academically he's now at grade level - it's the friendship and social stuff that really needs work now. He seems to have a natural artistic side and math also comes easily to him and now the reading is coming together as well as writing when he's reminded to slow down and take his time. That's the stuff that summer school helps with - keeping him on track even during he summer. I find myself going around spelling stuff all the time - even though I question that when I need to tell Chris something not necessarily for the kid's ears and he's slower at sounding it out than Dima is sometimes... we're reminded by the teacher to continue to show him words and sounds them out whenever possible on signs and where ever we can and to have him read every day to keep him going, so Gramma and Poppy and - later in August - Nana and Poppop -don't forget you're in charge of that while you've got him.


Let our real summer begin - Dima's done with summer school and Josh is done with swim lessons - no more scheduled mornings!! So what are we going to do this afternoon ?? - Go back to the pool of course! Marsh Creek Park - if anyone's up for it come find us there.

Monday, July 27, 2009

homebound in the middle of the summer

Both boys are napping this afternoon - they're both tired from staying up late Saturday night at our neighbor's graduation picnic, Dima's coughing and it's raining off and on today - a thunderstorm already rolled through so it looks like we'll be hanging out inside. Maybe a game or two of Uno, maybe puzzles, definitely will read Dima's "homework" book - they bring home a different book each day in a baggie and the assignment is to read it. The "Camp Success" (they used to call this summer school) teacher is trying to give them a little slack since it IS summertime.

This is his last week of this and Josh's last week of swim lessons - it'll be nice to have a less scheduled schedule so we'll have some freedom to get out and about more. I'd like to get around to some caches in or near parks and definitely re-visit a new bouncy - place we discovered last week. On Josh's birthday it was rainy in the early afternoon and after swimming / camp we - and some friends went to Bounce Zone
to use up some energy. The place is off the beaten path so we were essentially the only ones there and of course Josh did what he does when we're out an about he made friends with a bunch of teenagers. These kids seemed a bit big for this kind of place but there weren't many kids there at all - hopefully if there were more little kids there the big ones wouldn't want to be there or they would be sent to their own inflatable slide and the little kids kept off of the same one.
The timing that day worked out well because by the time we left the Bounce Zone it was nice enough to go back to the pool.

As I type this it's clearing up - at least the sun is coming out so it could turn out to be a pool afternoon anyway - I get cell phone updates if there are storms coming so we'd be able to clear out if needed. Kids are up no more time to type.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What a difference five years makes

As we're nearing Josh's sixth birthday I can't help but think about five years ago when Chris and I were in Russia for our first visit with the boys. During our trip our agency took very good care of us and at the same time the people there have ALOT of control over how things are executed each time you're traveling.

I'm not sure if things are still the same but at the time the Ministry of Education had custody of them and you had to comply with how they wanted things filled out with every t crossed and every i dotted in an acceptable way. The agency was a big help with letting us know what to do and what to expect from the experience. It all took lots of time to gather everything from our birth certificates and marriage licenses to forms that you fill out and then have apostilled, - it's a kind of internationally-recognized notarization - since we lived in Maryland I had to drive to Annapolis to get the physical stamps on the pages - at $10.00 a page!!!. So we had to compile it all - It was like working on the most serious graded paper you'll ever do since it's so important and I always had the ultimate goal in the back of my mind while doing this. As it turns out the "Ministry of Magic" as WE came to call them - has the option to back out of the deal for any reason and without explanation if it wasn't all lined up correctly.

Not only was there that paper work maze to get through but there was also after- adoption stuff to do. From what I understand some parents who went before us didn't think this stuff important and it made it more urgent for us to get it done. The reason was to justify why we have these kids and illustrate to the Russians how they're thriving here. While we were in Russia in July, 2004 it was hard to imagine getting through the three years of follow up updates and now it's hard to remember it. Again the agency set us up with basic forms to fill in each month - we've got copies of them - something like this that the kids can look back on later in life. Wow the time flies!!

Exactly five years ago we met Josh just days before his first birthday so at the time Dima was 32 months old - in the orphanage Josh kept trying to get out the door in his lope / crawl. Dima was goofing around with our video camera and crayons and to our relief - we'd been told by an International Adoption Specialist (another story) to look out for speech- he whispered to two tiny stuffed dogs we brought along, Josh actually repeated a "Hallo" from me. I realize now that they both must have been really tired since we had them with us for something like four hours and they were then really off schedule from what they usually did. Then in September, 2004 when we left Russia I took their basic schedule and only modified it a bit and to this day it's the basis of our days.

During our first trip to Russia we built in several extra days to stay in St. Petersburg - I'm glad we did, since Chris and I are both pretty well - traveled we appreciated the architecture and the beauty and the history of the city as well as the great food and the Alaska - like nights (where we went on our honeymoon). Obviously everything changes with kids and we haven't had another trip like that one since.

We left Russia the first time on July 23rd - one day after Josh turned one. It was tough coming back without them - but at the same time you don't want to get too emotionally invested until it's all over since things can change at a moment's notice with the enactment of a new law over there. Until we got back to Dulles with them I felt like it was all a dream and now most of it does too since it all sped by so fast.

Now more than ever I wonder about their mothers and siblings... where are they how often do they think of them - and Where would we be and what would Alexi - we changed his name - and Dmitry be doing right now had our paperwork not hit the desk at the Ministry of Education at just that moment that theirs did to set this all in motion.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Franklin Institute / very cool cache

Dima and I went to the Franklin Institute today - since Josh is having his only- child time with my parents (and doing nicely as I hear) I decided to do something special with Dima while we had the time alone. Once we got there -no major delays and not a bad drive into town during rush hour - definitely nothing like DC traffic! - we started with the upstairs which included a " sports challenge" area where you goof around with different experimental things that demonstrate the need for quick reflexes in race car driving and the way to build momentum while doing and axel in skating. I thought he'd like that one but wouldn't let me read the instructions on any of them before trying them out then kept getting frustrated when they weren't doing much or what he thought they should. That didn't last long at all.

We made our way to the Galileo exhibit:

Don't ask me what most of the things were - instead I could have been counting the number of times he said "Can we go yet?/ or can we leave? or I'm bored" as I realized it probably wasn't the smartest thing to bring him to - but then a docent helped him discover cool things about the various mirrors and lenses that were set up. He invited us to turn back for a special up close look at Galileo's telescope and I wanted to go do it so we went. Dima got to look through a telescope that Galileo himself used - thought that it was the coolest thing the significance was totally lost on Dima.

There was some whining when I got us to the line for the planetarium show (this line will take forever, my neck's gonna hurt, ...) but he was glad we went cause he was awed by the show.

I made him go through the Giant Heart by himself because I would have been totally claustrophobic in there - I was on a tube slide maybe 4 feet long not too long ago at a playground and very uncomfortable - and have had bad dreams about that kind of stuff. It didn't seem so confining when I was younger!! .... or maybe that's where those dreams came from...?? I thought it best not to even try it - he did it by himself and came out "luku" his description of when he's really excited - and I asked later why he was like that and he said it was because he was scared.

On our way home I asked him what his favorite part of the day was and his answer was the water-play stuff in the KidScience area was the best - there were areas where the kids could - okay I was doing it too - take tubes and connectors and make a fountain with a valve you pump yourself. So again the water is his thing. There's a surprise!!

If you're a geocacher and don't want too much information about a certain cache in Philadelphia stop reading here .....................

If you're a potential cacher this is enough to get you going - If you're serious about trying this and really interested give me a call - I'll go with you whenever you want to try one. I'll line some up if anyone wants to try it while we're at the gaufest:

Another really cool thing we did while in town was go find two caches one was standard and the other outstanding. Since it was rainy and we were getting hungry I had to be selective in the caches to try this afternoon. I picked one that other cachers seemed to hold in high regard:

This was one of the coolest caches I've seen so far. It was not really easy zeroing in on the exact location with clouds over head and buildings nearby. Like one of the other finders of the cache posted I felt like I was in a movie - going through the stacks and coming up with the find. At first I was over thinking it... maybe there's a vampire statue or mummy or relic of some sort with a clue. Nothing like that was obvious and since it says "something Anne Rice left behind" I decided on the obvious approach - while on the way to the fiction department I'm thinking - take out an Anne Rice and look behind it to the left - it was easier and more clever than that - it was in a hollowed out Anne Rice "The Mummy" book - like one you can get to keep your valuables in. That was the cache - with log book and trading stuff and a travel bug, right on the shelves of the public "free" library!! BTW: is there also a "pay" library in Philadelphia?

I haven't been motivated before this to put out my own caches but this got my mind going - How to do this myself - who do you ask for permission?? can I do this in used book stores?? How can I do this? This is why I got into this hobby it makes you use your mind and you visit places that you might not usually see. Very cool!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blue Marsh Lake

Josh is spending time with my mom and dad, so... since we had the time I decided to do something special with Dima this afternoon.. I'd heard of Blue Marsh Lake - their website:

Looks great doesn't it? When you get there there's a nice informative Visitor's Center and you make your way down to the beach and there's goose poop right along the shore ( like 20 feet of sand.. woohoo) and so I was totally grossed out and barely got my feet wet. Dima on the other hand had no problem with it and was swimming in the lake and dunking himself under more than he does in the pool we usually go to - and digging in the sand so he had a good time. I guess the splash park at our usual place takes up most of his attention there and at first the jet skis and boats interested him but the bottom line was the sand and goofing around with that.

Both of my boys have said recently that the want to go fishing - I don't know that their definition of "fishing" is but I can imagine it's got something to do with coming home with lots of fresh-caught fish. In order to set them straight about what it really is I've thought about setting up our baby pool and making them sit next to it for a while to see what it's like - not like we would actually catch anything if we went in real water anyway. While out at the lake today I took along Josh's hand- made net - a piece of mesh on a rope and Dima spent maybe two minutes goofing around with that before he moved on to other things.

After our outing we met Chris at a restaurant for all you can eat crab legs - Dima's practice on all our $4.99 / pound Acme legs paid off since he's quite the crab picker now and can get his money's worth while sitting there for an evening. The disappointment of the poopy lake was off set by a nice evening out.