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Wednesday, August 30, 2006
We are no longer there, we are HERE!!!
Umm, I did a little too much Fraggle Rock watching on the flight over.

We arrived safe and sound yesterday afternoon, but due to some technical difficulties we were not able to get onto the internet until today. In fact, I had to pry the modem out of Suzanne's hands this morning with the promise to return it right when they arrived back from court.

All of our luggage made it safe and sound. We did have to wait quite a while for our last bag. CS started to sweat it a bit. Fortunately the bag with our court clothes came out first.

We were greeted at our apartment door by our neighbors. Ironically Jamie & Suzanne are right next door. thus the hijacking of the modem. We finally had our "Party at the Markuel" last night. We only wished that all 10 of the families were here. But 6 out of 10 ain't bad. We had a delicious meal of chili, Kasha, and salad. We met C&N and their newest little one and Cath and her cousin and Cath's little boy. Watching the kids was interesting. They are the same ages as Pickle and Katou & Paypay's little girl. It may be one interesting trip.

Our apartment is nice. CS took a video of it and I will try for photos later. We are only on the 3rd floor so we don't need to take the scary elevator. Our view isn't that spectacular, but from the kitchen window I can see the cross on the tallest dome of the gold church just peeking above one of the apartment buildings.

As soon as Jamie & Suzanne are done at court Lena will come and get us to go for our updated medicals. Because of the court dates and the meds we won't have time to get out to the orphanage. But we will be doing that tomorrow. We can't wait to see our boy!

Saturday and Sunday are days we will use for foraging for food and a phone cord. Then Monday is the BIG day!

For the record, I did get a little bit of sleep on the rock hard bed in Korea and a little more last night. I am slowly catching up. I did bring the ambien in the event of a major emergency, but for now Tylenol PM seems to be tiding me over.

Now Steph and Rhonda, don't hate us for blaming you for the egging. We know you didn't do it, but we had to lay the blame somewhere.

More tomorrow after seeing the boy. We can't post photos of him until after court, so hopefully on Tuesday (which would be monday for you guys)
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
The sweet taste of chicken
Holy Chickenbus that was a long flight. 11 stinkin hours. Did I sleep? Hell no. It is currently 6:52pm here on Tuesday and it would be 3:00 am tuesday at home. I am quickly approaching the awake for 24 hours mark.

We survived the delicious (yeah right) food on the flight. The flatulence section of the airplane. (neither of us btw) and the constantly changing temperature on the plane.

I did feast on my sweet sweet chicken. CS is going to try to snap a photo with me and "the founder" tomorrow morning. They have a statue by the food court.

And the house egging thing... I was serious about that. Our house was egged. I think Rhonda did it, but CS is totally convinced that Steph did it. (sorry about the lack of linkage, I am a little slow.)

I am also going to make an attempt to change the counter to the court date. This may or may not be effective.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Ready Set Go
First things first! Which one of you guys egged my house????? CS went out to the garbage can and noticed white foam all over my car. Upon closer inspection we noticed there were egg on various things. Like... oh... CS's new car, my office window, our siding. What the hell??? What did I ever do to you guys?

In all seriousness, we are at the airport with Kathou and Paypay and anxiously waiting to get on the plane. It took us forever to get through the check in line and then through security. I did a quick HA HA at the lady who was getting her handbag ransacked. Uh Hello! No liquid makeup.

Yep the counter says 0 minutes in some places. Trust me, the plane has not boarded yet. 20 more minutes.

Sorry I am too boring. I am working on limited brain capacity here.

Next stop... SEOUL!!!!! (and my feast of chicken from National Fried Chicken Parts Retailer)
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Final Q&A
Thanks to all of you who had weird Ambien stories too. I feel less dumb. I was confirmed that I did not step in any cat vomit, but the jury is still out on the wall issue.

So not so much a Q&A, but we did have lots of requests for our itinerary. Once CS prys me out of from under the bed our trip will look as follows.

Monday, August 28 - Depart Seattle 1:40 pm
Tuesday, August 29 - Arrive Seoul, South Korea 5:00 pm
5221 miles flown this segment - 5221 miles total

Check into airport hotel and feast on the boycotted chicken from a national fried chicken parts retailer (this is the only place in the world I am allowed to have the banned chicken)

Wednesday, August 30 - Depart Seoul 10:10 am
Wednesday, August 30 - Arrive Khabarovsk, Russia 3:10 pm (yea! the same day!)
886 miles flown this segment - 6107 miles total

Thursday & Friday - complete medical exams

Monday, September 4th - COURT DATE (the date where you finally learn his name)

Tuesday, September 5th - Finally become parents!!! (we are assuming that we will get to pick Pickle up the day after court, if not maybe the 6th)

Toodle around in Khabarovsk for 13 days. Exactly how many times can we visit the Military museum?

Monday, September 18 - Depart Khabarovsk 6:00 pm
Monday, September 18 - Arrive Moscow 7:15 pm (8 long hours later)
3825 miles flown this segment - 9932 miles total

Tuesday, September 19 - Pickle's medical exam, Embassy visit, Register Pickle with the Russian government, attempt to purchase a Soviet hockey jersey and have a National Lampoon's moment with Kathou & Paypay at St. Basil's.

Wednesday, September 20 - Depart Moscow 7:15 am (pick up my own gummi bears)
Wednesday, September 20 - Arrive Zurich, Switzerland 8:45 am
1368 miles flown this segment - 11300 miles total

Wednesday, September 20 - Depart Zurich 12:40 pm (snap a photo of our newest citizen!)
Wednesday, September 20 - Arrive Chicago, USA 3:15 pm (still wednesday)
4443 miles flown this segment - 15743 miles total

Wednesday, September 20 - Depart Chicago 5:20 pm
Wednesday, September 20 - Arrive Seattle, WA 7:42 pm
1721 miles flown this segment - 17464 miles total

Did anyone else notice how all of those last flights were all on a Wednesday? In fact... the SAME Wednesday!
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Dear Dr. Ambien
My name is Elle and I am an insomniac. I have gotten to the point where I can no longer stand laying awake at night and staring at the ceiling. I gave your product a try. I will have to say that your marketing ploy of falling asleep fast was in fact true. Also, your product's ability to keep ones such as myself asleep was also remarkable. There is only one flaw to your magical medicine. You did not take into account those of us with weak bladders. Part of my insomnia stems from the fact that I get up multiple times in the night to go to the bathroom. On a normal night I can do this with my eyes shut. Unfortunately your product has some added ingredient that made me stagger to the toilet like one who has recently partied like a rockstar on a Tuesday night. For the record I made it safely to the toilet however; on the way back I may or may not have run into a wall, and it is a distinct possibility I stepped in cat vomit.

So thank you Dr. Ambien for giving me my much needed rest even if it was filled with strange dreams about turkey sandwiches and glaring looks from Babushkas. Although I would suggest the removal of the ingredient that makes you feel like a barfly on payday.

Sincerely, One messed up woman


After the ambien episode I woke up to feel like I'm just not all there. This could be from the fact that we only have 2 days and 1 hour. (I think I'll crap when I see that 1 day come up in about an hour)

I would also like to apologize for any strange comments you may have gotten from me on any of your posts. I started in on reading pre-coffee this morning.
Friday, August 25, 2006
We don't have the time to worry about the time
See that countdown clock up there? Yeah, I've been trying to ignore that little gem. I'm looking at it and it says we only have 3 days and 4 hours left before CS is shoving my butt onto that plane. Don't get me wrong... I want to go. I am over the top excited to go, but there is so much left to do and well... only 3 days and 4 hours to do it in.

Of course we have to throw in things like a "wedding shower" for some friends of ours. If I were sane I would just say, "John and Courtney, we love you very much. We enjoyed the hosted bar at your wedding and sneaking out onto the driving range at the golf course. We wish you well in your new married life, but we are leaving the country for 24 days and we just can't make it." But seeing as I'm not sane we are going. Besides, it's at CS's parents house and let's face it... they throw a mean party.

I revisited the to-do list last night and here is what our weekend looks like:

Some time between now and 11:45 this morning I must shower (that gives me 2 hours and 15 minutes)
Stop at the bank to pick up the money.
Force feed Elle.
Hair appointments for the both of us.
Finish errands in Olympia since that is where the hair place is. Errands include picking up the remainder of the stuff on the to-buy list.
Saturday morning, finish the laundry and finish packing
Saturday night, party
Sunday morning, church at 8:30, clean remainder of the house
Sunday afternoon, pry Elle out of the corner where she is rocking herself and mumbling something about another person to take care of.
Monday morning, drag Elle out from under the bed where she is hiding still mumbling about lack of chocolate and vodka.
Monday afternoon, hug Kathou and Paypay at the gate and shove Elle's loony butt onto an airplane bound for parenthood.

I think the stress really is getting to me. I had our passports sent to the church instead of our house, since that is where I was yesterday. I brought my camera to work so I could take a photo of the FedEx guy when he delivered my golden little package. I asked if I could take his photo and he said no. I begged. Still said no. I was so devastated I nearly burst into tears. How dumb is that? Gawd I am a loon.

Oh and for the record... if you happen across a Japanese blog with a post about how dumb Americans are an there is a photo of a guy in a grey t-shirt and blue shorts at a Mariners game... that lady behind him in the red jacket... that is me. We had a great time at the game Wednesday night, but when purchasing the tickets forgot that the 300 level in right field of Safeco is the "Rabid Fan" section. I swear the Ichiro fans are crazy!!! It didn't help that we went to a Yankees game and the Matsui fans are even worse. But the dude in front of me did not shut up the entire game. I have never seen a person with such diarrhea of the mouth. I nearly kicked him in the back of the head just to knock him out.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Just Darn Special
I get home from my day off (working) and there is a knock at the door. The mail man. The mail man only comes to the door if he is delivering something that won't fit in the box. This can only mean good things. He kindly hands me a box from Baby Style. Now I have been banned from looking at these kinds of sites because I already spend too much money on stuff for the boy at the stores around town. So this wasn't something I ordered. I open the box to find this beautifully gift boxed package inside. The tag says it is from my dear friend Jenny. I open the box to find the cutest little outfit. A pair of bright blue sweats and a crew t-shirt. I love it!!! It will go perfect with my boy's little Adidas tennis shoes. Thanks Chick!

So like everything else that comes from an online shopping source they send you advertisements for other things they happen to carry. This is a bad deal. Because it gets you to go to their website and check it out. Ok, bad for me anyway. Especially bad when the advertisement is Halloween Costumes. I love Halloween. I think it is one of my favorite holidays. I was more depressed last year on Halloween than Christmas. I wanted my little boy so I could dress him up cuter than all the other kids, take him to our church Halloween party, then maybe trick-or-treating at his grandparents. Alas, I sat at a table dressed as a barista bummed because the kids were just so darn cute and I was childless.

Not this year though!!! Halloween is going to be different in this house. So in the spirit of the season here is the page for Baby Style Halloween Costumes. Help me pick one out. I am leaning toward the Shark or the Turtle. Although they are all cute.

*did you know spell checker tries to change Adidas to idiots. Too Funny!
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Utterly confused
Still not car photos. It was dark by the time we got home to the camera and CS left before I had my morning coffee this morning. I was in no shape to even think of photographing a car. I'll try tomorrow.

I am in an utter state of confusion around here. I am trying to get together our stack of gifts for people in Russia. I am getting totally conflicting numbers of caregivers, who works at the orphanage and who else there is around. I think I am finally getting it under control, but as soon as I start to think about it my brain says, "Uh lady... you are really pushing me to the limit. Oh look at the kitty."

The same holds true for the cash. Ack! I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have looked at my damn spreadsheet and said I don't think this is enough. My biggest fear is getting there and not having enough cash. I am terrified of sticking my ATM card into a machine in Russia. Sure... I'm not afraid of Hepatitis or Typhoid, but I am afraid of an ATM machine.

On a good note I did get the doctor thing handled. I finally got the nurse and she is just about the neatest lady ever. She is just too excited for us. She is sending all kinds of information that we will need and said to call if we have issues. That is a huge weight off my shoulders.

Anyway... better stop procrastinating. I think my timer tells me I am down in the 5 day range.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Good lord only 7 days left!
Bet you thought you would get photos of our fancy new car today didn't you? Don't worry. You will get them tomorrow. We had to mill over which car we wanted. We drove 3 cars yesterday. A brand new Hyundai Elantra, a used Hyundai Tucson and a used Scion xB. I was totally sold on the xB. LOVE IT!!!!!! Unfortunately it ended up being out of our price range. It was a sad little good-bye between me an the funky beer fridge. So that whittled it down to the Tucson and the Elantra. Both very nice cars. The Elantra was an automatic and the Tucson was a stick. I currently drive a stick (so does CS) so that wasn't a big deal. The Tucson is this rocking blue color and the Elantra was more of a royal blue. More airbags, traction control and 4 wheel disk brakes in the Tucson. Elantra a little better on gas mileage. It really was a tough decision. We finally decided on the Tucson because of the added interior space, it would be easier to get little boy in and out of a higher up car, added safety features and not as important on the picking scale, but that color is just to die for! So we are making yet another trip to Olympia tonight to pick it up. The only downfall about it is there is not tape deck or mp3 jack. So no iPod in the car. But it does have a six disk changer so that helps.

Enough about the car. Back to that list and your questions.

Michelle, Pickle turns 22 months today.

I did get a hair appointment for Friday at 1. Thank God!!! I could see the judge turn me down. Um, I'm sorry, you have the worst hair evah. We can't possibly give you a child. I know I wouldn't get turned down due to my hair, but hey, I need to look good just for my own sanity.

On another front. I am still trying to get that pediatrician lined up. I called the clinic this morning and went through all of the options on their dumb voicemail. Finally pressed the magic "0" and got kicked back to the main greeting. Ugh! Finally got a receptionist who was clueless and transferred me to the nurses. Got the nurse's voicemail. Please leave a message. "Hi, this is Elle....." I'm sorry your message is too short. good bye. Damn it!!! Now I have to try back later. I really want to use this clinic but I am trying to figure out how much experience any of the docs have with Post Institutionalized children. It is not an easy thing.

The cleaning fairies are coming today. Yeah! I might have to buy them a coffee or something. That is on the main agenda for today. We'll see how it goes.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
How's that list workin' out for you?
Let's have a To Do List review. First I have to give you the original list.

  1. Find pediatrician (no comments on me not doing this in the months prior)
  2. Visa applications
  3. airline tickets
  4. gifts for people in Russia
  5. Photobook to show judge
  6. find house sitter
  7. Pack
  8. embassy paperwork
  9. pick up money at the bank
  10. unpack car seat
  11. unpack table booster seat
  12. arrange drop off and pick up at the airport
  13. prescriptions
  14. buy remaining stuff for trip
  15. take care of the bills while we are gone
  16. cat food/ litter
  17. clean house
  18. notes for house sitter
  19. finish babyproof
  20. set up sprinklers
  21. attempt to stay as calm as possible with only 8 days to do all of this.
I am keenly aware of the fact that there are quite a few items I could have done prior to knowing our court date, but I was so oblivious to the fact that we would actually get a court date I said screw it. So now I have 8 days 6 hours and some odd minutes to complete all of this stuff. Lucky for me I got to work.

Visas and airline tickets are taken care of. Visas should be arriving Thursday or Friday. Cutting it close, but I trust the travel agent. I found a house sitter!!! Yeah! I can't tell you what a load off my mind that is. Thanks Shey! Embassy paperwork was done last Wednesday. Easy. The car seat got unpacked on that last Manic Monday. The rest.... well that is still to do.

This afternoon we are saying good-bye to our Jetta and trading it for a more affordable car. Now the smart people would trade the Bug (aka. the Mommy car) but we like to be difficult. The Jetta is too expensive with the high car payment and the need for premium gas. So it is outta here! CS's mom and sisters are coming tomorrow to help me pack, babyproof and clean. Tuesday I have to work in the afternoon, so that leaves the morning to finish up some orphanage worker gifts. Wednesday I have to run my newsletter that I have been cramming in there too. Wednesday night is a Mariner's game with the fam. Thursday work all day. My last day actually at the church. I go to working from home once we get back. Friday I am getting my hair done if it is the last thing I do. Saturday is a house warming party for some friends. Sunday, last minute packing and watching Elle run around like a crazy woman because she isn't able to handle the fact that she is a) leaving the country for 3 weeks and b) is going to be a mom. Think CS should take a video of this?

Alright... gotta go install more baby latches.
Friday, August 18, 2006
10 days 5 hours and 2 minutes
As if I didn't have enough stress in my life I decided to rip off Mary-Mia's countdown and remind me how much time I don't have before getting on a plane and leaving my country, home and cats for 3 weeks. I am so not prepared to leave the country. One would think that with all this time we have been waiting and all those fabulous lists y'all have published I would be Betty-on-the-spot. I guess this is what I get for being married to world's biggest procrastinator for 10 years.

As I sat down at my computer this morning I though I would work on my e-book of my photographs for CS's boss. Some of my artwork is going in their office and he needs the book to make his choices. Is this really a smart use of my time? Uh no. But it would be fun. Now the smart lady would say let me get that to you in October so I can include my small collection of Moscow photos.

I did however restrain myself once the pile of stuff on my desk started collapsing on its own. Evidently it isn't a good idea to stack books, files and paperwork on a stack of CD cases. Gravity doesn't like that.

Good news is that I did get 3 things crossed off my list of stuff to do yesterday. We got our Visa photos taken, I bought the airline tickets (*gasp and die), and on Wednesday I copied all of our needed embassy paperwork. I nearly had a coronary yesterday from an email from Olga. She said we needed updated immigration paperwork, notarized and apostilled. I ran around the house yelling at Captain Smartypants saying BUT WE DID THAT!!! I tore through the paperwork and scanned our copy and sent to Olga and said SEE!!! Crisis averted. Whew!

We did take some time to celebrate our anniversary last night. We had a fancy dinner out (probably our last for a loooooong time) at the Melting Pot. A fondue joint for those of you in Podunk, USA. When CS made the reservation he told them it was our anniversary so there was a long stemmed rose in a vase on the table and he even bought me a little gift. Personally I thought 10 was baby so I didn't get him anything. He bought me this beautiful resin cross with Corinthians 13:4-8 on it. That was one of our wedding verses. It is to go on my wall of crosses. I collect them. I think we are almost up to a cross in every room of our house.

I will get around to writing a post about our last 10 years, but I think I will do that over at Life of Elle. I have some great photos that I might make a movie out of. But that of course requires time. Of which I only have 10 days 5 hours and 2 minutes of. Better get back to work.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Dastardly Elle
What?! You guys didn't like that? I can't see why you would expect anything different from me. Come on now.

Yes, we did receive our court date last night. I will come clean and say that we kinda knew about it on Tuesday, but it wasn't a 100% thing. Kathou called Tuesday morning to say they got word about their court date and Olga had instructed her to call me. Olga had also given her the travel dates and instructions to phone the travel agent to get things started. Kudos to Kathou for taking care of the flight arrangements! Thanks Sweetie! All I had to do was call Albina and give her my credit card number.

Tomorrow we head up to Seattle to drop off our Visa applications (all signed) and our passports. I had originally planned on doing it today, but I really don't want to drive to Seattle on my own. Yeah, I'm a chicken.

We are leaving on Monday the 28th and coming home Wednesday September 20th. The 10 day is never waived in Khabarovsk. We get a whirlwind tour of Moscow and then head home. Our flights are very similar to Suzanne's in that we will fly all the way around the world. I am going to lose an entire day of my life. I will never get that day back unless we fly the other way around the world. I could just see it now. 20 years in the future we go to Thailand or something. Hey honey, remember that day we lost going to pick up the boy? Oh look, we just got it back. Man I missed that day.

Ok, can you tell I have totally lost it? I tell you I am going insane. I think I have a stress induced tumor. I have a monster headache. I have a million things to do, but can't seem to get any of them done. Ack!

I've tried eating, but every time I do I start to get jittery again and then feel nauseous. It is pleasant. Time to stop procrastinating and start working.

BTW, today happens to be our 10 year wedding anniversary. I was going to write some long eloquent post about CS, but I think I might try it a little later. I don't have the brain capacity to even brush my hair at this point. I think I showered this morning. How do I smell?

I totally forgot to give you the answers to the B test.

Squirrels evidently live in a hole. Despite my best efforts she insists that they do not live in trees

Trees obviously live outside. I tried to guess outside in the sand, but I got a funny look for that one.

And candles live on a birthday cake.

How did you score?
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Daily Wrap-up - Bullet Style
I thought I would take a page out of Zoot's book and do a wrap up of the day Bullet Style. Not because my day was all that thrilling, but mostly because I am lazy.

  • I spent the morning leisurely reading blogs and attempting to comment on some of them. If you didn't get a comment it wasn't because I don't like you. It is more like I couldn't think of anything quippy to say. And god forbid I not be intelligent or funny when making comments.
  • Spent the early afternoon photo copying yet more paperwork. Cause we all know how much I love paperwork.
  • I then whipped myself into a manic frenzy and cleaned my kitchen. I bought one of those Mr. Clean Magic Reach things and my oh my how beautiful it is!!! I loves me a new cleanin' tool!
  • We drove down to Olympia to have dinner with CS's parents since his sister and our niece is in town from California. I spent the evening fielding questions such as, "Annie Missy (that's what she calls me) Annie Missy, what is work?" "Annie Missy, What is Christmas?" "Annie Missy, What are clues?" Did I mention she is 4 years old?
  • We got our court date of September 4th. We leave for Russia on August 28th.

So there you have. My wonderful fantastic very good day!!

Just for fun I will leave you with a B test. (B is my niece)

Where do squirrels live?
a. in a pond
b. in the tree
c. in a hole

Where do trees live?
a. outside
b. inside
c. outside in the sand

Where do candles live?
a. in Ernies window box
b. on a birthday cake
c. in the sink

Did you get the answers right?
Those of you who know me know I am not the biggest Emeril fan. I am more of the Alton Brown or Jamie Oliver type. But Emeril's "Bam" phrase is somehow appropriate.

Got an email this morning saying that Pickle's medical form was finally completed!!!!! See I tried to tell them he was healthy, but did they listen to me? Nooooo.

So we are inching closer to the ever elusive finish line. In the spirit of the wait I'll give you guys this mornings StatCounter Wars info.

Top 5 States:
1. California (Go Tricia!)
2. North Carolina
3. New York
4. Washington (Suzanne shouldn't you be packing?)
5. Texas

Top 5 Cities:
1. Charlotte, NC
2. Bronx, NY
3. Jackson, TN
4. Oak Harbor, WA (Really, Suzanne)
5. Shelton, CT (hey my family lives in Shelton, WA!)

We are at a total of 87 hits for the morning. Yesterday was 200. Your guy's all time high is 671.

Also, if refreshing my web page isn't enough head on over to Stephanie's. She gave us the tracking number for their dossier so we can obsessively track that too!

As far as the Bald and Fat PAP club, well... I would fall under the Bald and Stick-like PAP club. I think you guys are eating my share of the chocolate. Give it back!!!! Or am I going to have to do some house egging?
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
I'll take an inch
I emailed our agency last week asking the ever burning question. Did the judge actually mandate that the Ministry of Health complete the medical form or was it merely a suggestion. I had to wait all freaking weekend for the answer because, well I am dumb and send my very busy coordinator questions on Friday afternoons.

Yesterday rolls around and I get an email from Olga. Good news! The judge did in fact Mandate that the MoH complete the report. Yeah!!! The catch is because they are a government agency she can't specify a time limit, but it is pretty much understood. So tonight officially marks the 2 week mark. My "10 days" are up! Woo Hoo! (ok that's a lot of exclamation points)

So start up the Stat Counter Wars again ladies! We are officially in the final stretch*.

*There is no real confirmation that this is in fact true, but I am getting back to that manic mode and I am dragging all of you with me whether you like it or not.
Damn Tourists
Evidently Seattle has become the new HOTT tourist destination. I don't see why. Beautiful 75 degree days, gorgeous views of the mountains and the sound. Cool places to visit like the Space Needle and Pike's Place Market. Why would anyone want to come here?

The Genius (me) thought it would be fun to spend our afternoon at Pike's. Anyone who has ever been to Pike's Place Market in the summer knows that it is the ultimate Seattle tourist trap. Pasty white people wandering the street not paying attention to where they are walking. (oh wait... those are the locals) Pike (in the market) is the only street in Seattle where you can cross against the light. Because there are no lights there. People wander haphazardly into the street no paying attention to the cars. Danielle told me not to aim for them.

Thousands upon thousands of tourist impeding my way. Gah! All I wanted was a sandwich, a coffee and to sit down to eat. We finally did get our little lunch and enjoyed listening to the strange man in the park yelling at Sheryl Crow on his little portable radio. Not quite sure what she was saying to him, but evidently he didn't like that every day was a winding road.

After our lunch of little baguettes from the French bakery and coffees from The Original Starbucks (for tourists only!) we stopped for dessert at Piroshky Piroshky. Love them!!! The rhubarb ones are to. die. fo.

We made a quick stop at Market Spice to pick up some essentials for our trip to Russia. Can't live without curry for 3 weeks. Then found the best place evah!!! Souk. It is an Egyptian/Indian grocery. I was like a kid in a candy store. The place was about as big as my office, but I could have spent hours in there. I went in for Tandoori paste, but walked out with 2 kinds of Dahl, cumin seed, ground coriander, coriander seed, garam masala, pakora mix, tamarind concentrate, and Tandoori paste. All for $25! What a deal!!! I was so excited.

Despite having to navigate the hoards of tourists I had a great afternoon.

Ciarai, sorry I didn't call you. I got distracted by something shiny.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Just another manic monday
I miss my manic high. Remember? The posts from here, here, and here. But then came that crushing blow. No court date for you! Our agency said it should only be a 2 week delay for the Ministry of Health to finish up the paperwork and get it into the judge's hands. Well... today will be 2 weeks. Ok, actually tomorrow will be 2 weeks, but today (tonight) is 2 weeks from our pre-trial hearing. Confused yet? So am I.

I am of the mind set that I won't believe it until I see it, but I want so badly to get excited about the possibility that this might actually be the week. I got so much accomplished in that 1 day!

Now normally I would be sitting on top of my computer all day, but not today. I am headed out to Seattle to spend the day with one of my good girlfriends. So in all likelihood since I am not sitting on my computer the "call" will come. Wouldn't that just be fantastic? So I can get a little excited huh?

Let's go check my email real quick ok. Yeah nothing. Shocking!
Friday, August 11, 2006
Crazy doesn't begin to cover it
Some of you were may have been wondering what my Avatar said. It was a bit difficult to read unless you went to my profile and clicked on it. This is what I have been feeling like the past couple of months and in the past 2 weeks fo sho.

Of course there were a few other happy bunny pictures I could have chosen like "you smell like butt" or "Make the Stupid people shut up," but I thought this one was appropriate. I love It's Happy Bunny. I'm not one to go out and buy a bunch of crap with the bunny. I do however, like a cute little animal that really tells it like it is. So here's my bunny telling it like it is. I'm nuts!

So nuts in fact that I once again re-did my personal blog. I would love to move this one and get away from the gigantic sucking sounds that are Blogger, but CS won't let me do it. The theory being that I can screw up my own blog first. It would just be a damn shame to mess this one up. Besides, I would have to figure out how to code wordpress with 3 columns and I am just not that bright. Let me tell you, coding for wordpress is hard! I can see why so many people hire people to do it. I can also see why designers make so much bloody money. (not really, but it's more than me)

Anyway, I hate to make those of you who have that blog on an RSS or in your blogroll change it again, but hey it's not about you, it's about me. And I now have my own domain name. Just one more thing to take my valuable time. Cause that's what I need. So check it out. If it doesn't work let me know that too.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Comfort Beer
I am aware that the title of this post may further your suspicions of me drinking too much due to stress. I assure you that it is far from the truth. While it is true that I like a good glass of wine with dinner I abhor getting drunk. In fact the last time that happened it involved a Mexican and a bottle of tequila. Let's just say that it wasn't a shining moment in my adult life.

I will say that I do like the taste of some alcohol. The complexities of various wines. The subtle differences between Scandinavian and Russian Vodka, or the memory a good beer evokes. I would be called more of a connoisseur of liquor more than a lush.

There is one taste that is like a good comfort. It may seem simple, even cheap, but the taste of Molson Canadian is one of my favorites. It is what I would call comfort beer. It symbolizes a great hockey season, summer barbecues, and a nice quiet evening at home with a pizza. In essence family time.

This last spring Derek (ok, I'll use his real name for this one) and I were forced to spend every waking moment with each other. Stuck in a tiny hotel room in a foreign country where we didn't speak the language. When your husband is your best friend this isn't such a bad thing. We spent our afternoons watching movies on the computer and fixing a little lunch. Just enough to satisfy us until dinner rolled around. Lunch consisted of a noodle bowl, some bread and cheese and on a few occasions a great Russian beer. Great memories.

On a different note yesterday we laid my Tiny Papa to rest. Our family gathered around at a cemetery in North Washington to pay our last respects to a great man. A prize fighter, a hard worker, a devoted husband, an avid fisherman, and a well respected man of 98 years old (I finally found out his age.) At the conclusion of the service we took the time to talk to extended family members. Meet people we never knew existed and reminisced about the life of our Tiny Papa. My immediate family had plans to have lunch together at a local casino buffet.

Sunday I declined the offer to join them, as I am not much of an Indian gaming person. I planned to do a little shopping at the outlet mall or try to catch Suzanne for a quick bit of coffee. My mom looked at me and said, "are you sure you wouldn't like to join us?" I tried again to decline, but she kept asking. I was hungry and my step-dad was paying. I hadn't heard from Suzanne and I really didn't have the money to go shopping. So I joined them.

My mom rode in the car with me and we had a lively discussion about faith and religion. One of the first times we have carried on such a conversation. As we sat at lunch I looked at my family. Mom, Mike, my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. A family that had just lost it's oldest member. A family that has stuck together through anything. A family that has taught me so much over the years. People who have made me laugh, taught me to be strong and defended me when the boys came knocking. I realized that there isn't anywhere else I would have been yesterday. They constantly reassured me that Pickle was coming home. Reminded me to have faith and repeatedly said they couldn't wait to meet him. What a comfort.

I said my good-byes to my family and hopped in my car for the long drive home through Seattle traffic. Hot weather and dumb drivers are enough to raise your blood pressure and set in the little bit of road-rage. By the time I got home I was tired and frustrated. But I opened the fridge and waiting inside was a bottle of Baltika. The Russian beer we drank on those quiet days in Khabarovsk. The first sip was like a reminder. We must make memories that last. Whether it be mint green furniture in a tiny Russian hotel room or your uncle brow beating you to eat more; it is these kinds of memories that you keep with you forever. It is what makes up family.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Unraveling the converter mystery
In keeping with the whole travel theme as of late I thought I would shed some light on the whole converter/adapter mystery. For those of you who have traveled abroad you can stop reading now. For those who were like me, never been out of N. America prior to trip #1, this is important stuff.

When plugging in an electrical device in a foreign country you will need one of two things (or both.) A power converter and/or a plug adapter.

With both of these devices you plug the US end into the converter or adapter and then plug the European (heretofore known as the "Russian end") into the outlet.

To determine which to use you must study the device you want to plug in. Look at the cord of your device. Is there a big black box somewhere on the cord? No? Then you will need the power converter(PC). Yes? You will only need the plug adapter (PA) in most cases. This is the tricky part. Look at the black box. See the writing on it? Find where it says "Input." If it reads "100-240v" then you only need the PA. The PA makes it so your US plug fits into the Russian wall socket. There are of course cases where you are unsure of what to use. You could experiment, but be willing to sacrifice your electronic device. Let's just say I needed to go buy a new set of researchable batteries for my digital camera. Good thing I brought extra batteries.

Now if your cord does not say this or is lacking the black box you will need the PC. The exception is for travel hairdryers. A travel hairdryer has a switch that says 240v or 100V. When you use it in the US switch it to 100v. In Russia switch it to 240v (or 250v like mine) and plug the cord
into the plug adapter then that into the wall socket. It is important to make sure the switch is set correctly. On our first trip there was an incident with a travel hairdryer that caused a minor power outage in the hotel.

There is one little exception you will find when you arrive. The wall sockets in Russia are recessed into the walls. The Power Converter does not fit into them. So you have to take your Plug Adapter and put it on the end of the PC, then plug it into the socket.

I hope this has shed some light on the Power Converter v. Plug Adapter mystery. As to where to buy them, that is up to you. We bought our original set at Target, but somehow misplaced it in between trip #1 and #2. Fortunately, CS's parents had one and let us have theirs.
Friday, August 04, 2006
The Voice of Experience
You people's list making has inspired me to provide my little bit of experience of travelling. Granted, I have not travelled out of the country very often (read twice) but I have travelled to Russia twice (hmm) and I kinda know what I'm doing. So I thought I would pass onto you my packing list of stuff for the first trip, or 2nd trip if you happen to be like me. Lucky one who gets to travel 3 times.

In my carry-on, which is an Eddie Bauer backpack:
Dossier binder - heavy, but I won't let it out of my sight
1 book - I am slow reader and get airsick easily
i-Pod - didn't have this the 1st time, went nuts. listened to it nearly the whole ride home the second time.
dvd player - didn't have this the first time. second time it was a life saver. one word: LOST
dvds - mostly Lost, but a few movies too
neck pillow - bulky, but worth it.
ziploc bag containing - 1 t-shirt, 1 pair of socks and 1 pair of underwear. 1st trip also included a nightgown, had an overnight
saline nasal spray
allergy pills
dramamine - I don't go anywhere without it
contact lenses - didn't wear them, but I won't check them either
glasses case
kleenex - very handy for trip 2 because I had an Elle special allergy attack
tylenol pm - trip 3 I am taking ambien. the pm didn't work on trip 2
goldfish crackers - would you think anything different of me?
ibuprofen and tylenol
digital camera, 3 extra cards and 1 extra set of batteries
photo album of our house, town, family and friends
toothbrush & toothpaste - if you fly Asiana they have these in the plane washrooms, but sometimes they run out.
moist wipe face cleaners - Avon makes some great ones
prescription drugs

My suitcase - quantities not included since trip 1 and trip 2 were different lengths:
plain stretch t-shirts in bright colors - no black or white
kahki type pants
1 pair of jeans
extra pair of shoes to alternate
socks & undies
comfy jammies
a regular type t-shirt and "hospital" pants for lounging
sweaters and 1 sweatshirt
scarf, hat and gloves - trip 2 it snowed
orphanage donations
small gifts for driver, translator, and facillitator - trip 2 only since they had waited so long for reaccreditation too
make-up - very litte, foundation and blush
travel hairdryer
contact lens stuff - disinfectant, case, extra pair, saline
hair brush & comb
more batteries & battery charger - CS effectively blew it up though
power converter and adapter
head scarf for the Orthodox churches - we went during holy week so I thought it would be respectful. normally women only cover their head during service
first aid kit - very small

I am sure there are a few other things that I am forgetting, but those were the majors. Now I have to figure out how to fit all of that stuff and Pickle's stuff for the next trip without adding another suitcase.

Oh! one bit of advice. We did use space bags and they were a life saver. on the first trip they protected our orphanage donations from an exploding bottle of bodywash.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
half assed update
I have nothing. This really is one half assed update. So since I have nothing and I need a laugh, and who better to make me laugh than my own adventures, I will tell you my most embarassing moment.

I used to work for a major greeting card company when Captain Smartypants and I were first married. My job was to travel around the country installing and revising greeting card departments. During my training I worked with other installers in my state. One of the first jobs I went on was with a guy from Seattle. The job was in Eastern Washington (over the mountains.) It was December. I met this guy at his house and then we proceeded to drive over the mountains. Near the summit of Snoqualmie Pass the traffic stopped. You see... there is a "shed" that covers one side of the freeway on the East slope of the pass. The shed makes a nice ramp for snow to slide off of onto the Eastbound lanes (our lanes.) Ergo traffic jam.

So we sit in this traffic jam for a good 2 hours. We are not near anything. I mean nothing. No rangers station, no gas station, nada! It is also a well known fact that I have a bladder the size of a pea. I go quite often. 2 hours is about my limit. Oh would you look at that! We'd been sitting there just about that amount of time. I tell the guy I really have to go. He said, "well you could go on the side of the road." I'm not shy. Ok. We're on an overpass. I'll just go underneath and go.

Not a car to be found. I climb up under the overpass where the road meets the slope and proceed to check for cars. All clear. I squat to do my business and around the corner comes a car. Great. I'm thinking, I'm wearing a dark coat and I am all hunkered down, maybe they don't see me. Car goes by and stops at the stop sign. Whew! To my dismay I see the reverse lights kick on. Well crap. The car backs up and the passengers watch me pee. The good thing is I had on a really long coat so I don't think they saw much. But I have to say that having strangers watch you pee under an overpass in the snow is not the picture you want people to have of you. Now I at least try to find a bush.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
That's more like it
I finally wised up and crawled in bed with the computer. I really should have done this earlier. Kitty is cuddling nicely with me and I am doing my part at yelling at the television and laughing at how truly short Regis Philbin is. Great... now you know that I actually watch America's Got Talent. Hey, we all need some kind of useless fluff on occasion. And please tell me where is the talent in stripping. And to defile the Kit car!!! That is just sacreligious. There are children in the audience for crissake.

Thanks to all of you for your kind support. I have come back to check for comments repeatedly and it lifted my spirits. I tried to be a productive member of society today, but the furthest I got was to make my bed. That was just dumb.

I did finally eat today. Apparently Goldfish crackers (and later ice cream) didn't count as a meal. I beg to differ. CS's parents came and took us out to dinner. Good thing too since if they didn't CS would be having a Rhonda special of cheese sticks. I don't think we have cheese sticks. Ummm, left over and expired cookie dough. How bout that?
Thank you all for your stories of your families and friends. I do appreciate them so very much.

I bet you all are wondering how long I can hold out before grief kicks in an knocks me off my manic high. Let's just say lunch consisted of Goldfish crackers. yeah! they're staying in.

I am running between sad, angry and depressed. Not only did I lose my great-grandfather we found out this morning that it could be a while until we hear about a court date. The good news is the judge didn't kick our case out of court. So we won't have to make yet another trip to have our own medicals re-done. The judge didn't schedule the date like we were hoping, but she pretty much mandated that the Ministry of Health complete the medicals for Pickle. The estimated time frame is it shouldn't take longer than 2 weeks to have them completed. The hope is the judge will schedule our date quickly thereafter.

So yeah, I'm feeling pretty blue. Big ol' case of the it's not fair. But you know me. I'm not one to be much of a whiny baby. I am trying to look on the bright side of things. Unfortunately right now I can't find much of a bright side. My bed is looking pretty tempting at the moment. The worst part is CS is working out of town today so it's just me and the cats. They are trying their best to comfort me, but it is mostly just walking under foot.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Good Night Tiny Papa
As of 10:27 pm we have 664 hits. I won't do a state by state update until tomorrow.

I will say we did get out of the house for dinner this evening. It was planned last week as a celebratory dinner with Kathou and Paypay, but unfortunately we didn't have much to celebrate. What we did celebrate is that the restaurant we went to had fantabulous drinks! 2 Vodka Collins, 2 glasses of wine and 2 glasses of port is enough to make anyone celebrate. Needless to say a good time was had by all.

I would like to shift gears for a moment though. Our phone did ring at about 10:00 tonight. For a brief moment we were all excited. But, the excitement was not to last. It was my Mom. She informed me that my Tiny Papa (aka: Great-Grandfather) was very sick and likely to not make it through the night. Of course Kathou and Paypay were here and rather than sit around and cry about it I told them about my Tiny Papa. I pulled out the photo album to show them photos. About 20 minutes later the phone rang again. This time we knew who it would be. My Tiny Papa passed slowly into the night, surrounded by his family. He was 97 years old (i think).

While I am saddened by his loss I cannot help but think about the joy he has brought me over the years. There aren't many people who could say they actually knew one, or more, of their great-grandparents. In the end I think Tiny Papa stood all of about 5 feet tall. In his younger years he was a boxer and worked on the railroad in Everett, WA. Quite the barrel shaped man and in full control of his mind until very recently. He love to play checkers and his favorite Christmas gift was always a bottle of Scotch. Good man. My fondest memory of him was his basement in their house in Everett. Tiny Papa was an inventor. He was forever modifying something to make life easier. His greatest "invention" was the exercise bike sander. He somehow rigged a stationary bike with a block of wood under it that slid back and forth. You put whatever you wanted to sand under the block and start riding. WaLa! Sanding done. And you get your workout in too. He was handy like that.

I could tell you so many stories about Tiny Papa. His love for his beautiful wife. How he'd jingle his pocket and slip my cousins Zach and Tyler money. How he always knew CS's name. He was a great man who lived a long and great life.

So no boo hoo here either. I don't believe death is something where we mourn someone's loss. It is more of a time to celebrate their life and come to realize how much they really mean to us. How this one life impacted our own. So we'll have a Coffee Talk discussion.

Did you ever know any of your Great-Grandparents. If so what did they mean to you. If not tell us about a relative who impacted your life for the better.
I'm dyin' ova hea!
First... you all have 1 job. Go over to Suzanne's blog and give her some huge congrats! She and Jamie have a court date of August 31st!! Woo Hoo!

As for us and Kathou & Paypay... well not so much with the court date. Now don't get all, "oh elle, I'm sorry to hear your bad news." I don't want that crap from the likes of you.

Here is what we know at this point. Remember that medical release letter that was supposed to be signed? Well, it wasn't. The good news is that letter is not the responsibility of us our our agency. We have complied with everything to the letter. The signing is the responsibility of the local Department of Education. They are supposed to make sure the Ministry of Health signs the release.

So enough with the boo hoo. Onto more funner things. (ACK!!)

StatCounter Wars:

Total hits for the day as of 5:12 pm - 527

Top 5 States:

Top 3 Cities:
Lawrenceville, GA
Kingfisher, OK
Gaithersburg, MD

Now here is the trick to drive up your state or city. You can't refresh more than once an hour. Any refreshes within any given hour count as one hit. We have use of CS's parents video camera so we'll have to come up with some kind of movie for the StatCounter Wars.

Keep em coming folks. This is really entertaining for me. Keeps my mind off of things like oh... MoH signing stinkin' release letters!
Some Shred of Hope*
The 3 waiting families are pretty much all nuts now. I sent out an email asking who would be the first to email Olga. Of course our trusty Suzanne was the one. Good girl. I'm too chicken. The reply is that Olga didn't hear from the in-country facillitator, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Evidently web servers often go down in Russia causing emails to get stuck for eons. So Olga is going to call Irina in "her morning." It is currenly 5:36 am Wednesday in Khab so we still have a few hours to go.

I really feel for my co-workers at the church, because this is where I will likely be when we get the "call." I apologize to all of you in advance.

*with a stat-counter update!

you guys are too funny. So I'll give you a little taste of what our stat counter is doing. Our highest hit count ever in one day was 245. That was last week I think. Yesterday was 344! and as of 12:39 Pacific it is at 301! Holy crap.

My top 5 states are Missouri, Washington (that would be Suzanne), Illinois, Oklahoma and Texas.
Top 3 cities: Columbia, MO; Decatur, IL; and Oklahoma City, OK.

You guys are great. To know you are going nut with me makes it seem like I am less crazee.
WARNING: blogging sleep deprived and prior to coffee
so tired. didn't sleep. no news.

CS suggested setting up the baby monitor in front of the speaker of the computer so we could hear the bing bing of the email notifier. Guess it's a good thing we didn't since I think I would have had to kill Suzanne at about 1:00 am when she left a comment on Life of Elle thus sending me an email notifier.

I think you all had a plan last night with sending Rhonda over to Olga's house. Wish I would have thought of that.

So onto another day of manic. Good thing, the church kitchen needs cleaning since today is my 1/2 day.
Established March 19, 2006