Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Life is Short, but the Days and Nights are Long*

As we cleaned out the office and spare room to turn them into two bedrooms, I went through piles of my dad's stuff.  In other words, piles of pictures.  I came across a bunch of snapshots from my parents' trip to Australia.  A koala up a tree, the view from their hotel balcony of Sydney, each of them with parrots all over their arms, shoulders, and head.  The scenic shots I ruthlessly tossed; the photos of my parents, I kept.  They look, if not young, then healthy, active, and full of life.  I did some mental math.  Let's see, that was the fall before I first went to Latvia, and Daddy turned 60 that next March...so they were 58 and 59 in these photos.  Not much older than my sisters are now.  Now Mom is dead and Daddy sits in a wheelchair all day wearing sweatpants pulled up to his armpits.  I've been feeling sad that my mom won't meet her youngest grandkids, that my kids won't know my dad to be the person he still is in my head.  From there I started thinking...it's going to go by so fast.  All the good things about parenting, all the struggles we have ahead, it's all going to slip by.  I will try to bear that in mind when I am at my wit's end, so I don't drown in the sorrow.  I will try to bear it in mind when we are full of a warm golden glow, so I appreciate the moment. 

*From a song by Cheryl Wheeler

We're moving!

To a jointly built blog.  Check us out further at http://squared4us.blogspot.com/

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fairly boring update.

Today I graded from 9 to 3.  About an hour of that was spent enjoying a visit from our friend, and an indeterminate amount of time was spent taking minibreaks online.  But for the most part, it was grade, grade, grade.

 I got all emotional early on when a kid who was a steady D and F student in most of his classes when I taught him in 7th, and 8th, and now 10th grade, actually turned in a well-put together persuasive essay that earned him his first ever passing score on a writing sample, and got him a solid C in sophomore English.  We're talking he went from a 2.8% first semester to a 76% this semester.  One major factor is that he started going out with a girl who isn't into dummies.  The two of them stayed after school in my room a couple days a week nearly all semester.  And I think then he started realizing--hey, I can actually do this.  We started the semester with me pre-teaching him the next day's stuff, so he could really focus in class and get it done.  Then he went to just checking in with me regularly about what he should be working on next to keep his grade up.  If he spaced out in class, he'd come by after school more regularly.  If he was doing his work in class, I wouldn't see him after school until another big assignment started.  At this point, I don't see a huge future in writing for him, but he learned now to structure the basic 5 paragraph essay, and he learned that if he doesn't get behind, he can actually pass classes.  And he did get beyond the really superficial stuff in his writing, so I think he also learned a little bit about what it's FOR, how you can think things through and express your thoughts by writing. 

Of course, the kid on the other side of the room went from a 2.8 first semester to a 1.6 this semester, so I have yet to unlock the secret key of reaching all students.  Well, I know that hot girls who like smart boys are helpful, but I'm not sure how to keep a steady supply of those around. 

How is this adoption related? Well, I had to get it done before the trip, and I did, so yay me.  And yay, continued employment.  They take this grading thing pretty seriously at the high school level.  I understand there's some ritual involving credits and graduation that people put a lot of stock into.

Then we went to the library and made printouts and copies of all the documents we're supposed to bring with us.  One of my fears is being in some lawyer's office and them gasping, "You don't have your EJQ 79723 form?!?" 

My sister brought us a casserole, because I stopped cooking last week.  Jon has been supplying us with pizza and Chipotle dinners.  Ironically, I am perpetually STARVING.  You'd think I was pregnant.  But I can't find time to cook.  So Pat brought us an old family favorite, called Father's Delight.  She pointed out they chose that on purpose.  Jon was delighted.

Jon went to Home Depot to get stuff to fix our bathroom sink.  I went looking for a Court Dress.  Luckily, it's just Civil Court, not Royal Court, so I started at Ross, then went to Fred Meyers, where I found a nice summer dress that a) does not make me look like I'm smuggling a bowling ball and b) does not make me look like my sisters in pictures from my babyhood.  Seventies prints and maxi lengths seem to be in, at least if the grocery store clothing racks are any indication. 

See, I SAID it would be fairly boring.  Kudos to you if you stuck with it. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Shopped. Dropped.

Today, Jon and I spent more time (and money) in Target than we ever have before.  We'd gone through all the gifts and tried to figure out what clothes we had for the kids and what clothes we still needed.  This after some comedy of deciding we had their sizes wrong, carefully rechecking each step along the way, and coming up with the exact same answer our friend Nicole had already supplied us with.  (We weren't doubting you, Nicole, we just thought we'd given you false data in the first place.)  So we made up a list and went off to Target, and within minutes were aimlessly wandering, picking stuff up, putting it down, putting it in the basket, taking it out of the basket...It's really overwhelming.  First, Target.  Already overwhelmed.  Then the plethora of decisions.  Okay, undies, size 6--does that mean medium or small?  Does she want briefs, high cut briefs, bikinis, or boy shorts?  Does he want boxers, briefs, or hybrids?  Why are all the girl colors day-glow?  Why do all the boys' t-shirts have writing on them?  Will she want plain jeans or jeans with embroidered hearts?  Will he want skinny jeans, baggy jeans, or cargo?  Is she a dresses girl or a shorts girl?  Does he like crew socks or footies?  It went on for approximately seventeen hours, although Jon may tell you it took far longer.  He, incidentally, was a trouper. (Or possibly a trooper.)  When I was disappointed to find no long-sleeved tops for Inesa, he suggested we try Old Navy, Ross, and Goodwill, which is where we finally got lucky*, since Goodwill knows no seasonal orders.

We also managed to get waterproof mattress covers, because we decided better safe than sorry on that one.  Now both beds are made up.  It is really something to walk upstairs and see two bedrooms just waiting for their inhabitants. 

Tomorrow I must grade.  We also have a number of people stopping by in various capacities, so we will probably stay home.  It will all be rather Victorian.  "The Gassaways are receiving today." 

*I just mean we found some long-sleeved tops.  In case you were confused.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Shower? More like a flood.

We had an astounding show of support from my work friends and others today.  With less than a week to organize it, my buddies at my once and future work place organized a shower.  While not many people could make it on a Friday afternoon, lots and lots of people made sure we got presents for the kids.  Most of our wish list was taken care of--yay!  we don't have to shop for booster seats!--and then there were some brilliant things we never would have thought of, like kid-sized camping chairs and kid toiletries, including strawberry flavored toothpaste and Kermit the Frog bandaids. 

Our flight leaves Wednesday at 6:20 am.  Jon's wonderful brother is picking us up at 4 am.  Extra Lithuanian socks for that guy.  (Oh, have I mentioned?  Everyone is getting Lithuanian socks for Christmas this year.)  Jon did a huge job getting the rooms ready this week--cleaned out our storage space so we could move my dad's stuff from the spare rooms into there, converted the spare rooms into actual bedrooms by putting together the beds and getting bookshelves and bureaus into both rooms, and even installed the required smoke alarm. It makes me feel MUCH better to know we have places for them to sleep. 

 I still have a s--t ton of grading, then entering final grades, and we suddenly realized today that we should probably bring the kids some clothes. And undies.  And socks.  And pjs.  The Lithuanian Adoption Yahoo Group, my number one resource for all this, is a little confusing on this topic--some say the kids walk away from the care home with only the clothes on their back, while others were handed bags of clothes.  However, it also sounds like all the parents showed up with at least several full outfits.  While I know for certain you can actually buy children's clothes in Lithuania, and in some way would prefer to be able to have the kids try stuff on and have some input into color and style, I also think we don't want to be in a position of HAVING to go clothes shopping with two kids hours after meeting them.  So we'll make some guesses and get at least some things here for them.

I would love to write more, but I am dropping with exhaustion.  We'll try to keep updates coming.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Link for our Village

Back when I thought we'd have a couple of months to get our act together, I thought I'd summarize this wonderful post and send it out to people who have been sincerely asking how they can help.  But since time is of the essence, I'm just giving you the link. 


It's great.  She's great.  There are some GREAT adoption blogs out there.  Sigh.

In one week...

In one week, we'll be in Lithuania.  We'll be putting our bags in the apartment that will be our temporary home, fighting jet lag, and intently listening to the representative from the Family Law Centre tell us what time the next day we'll get to go meet our kids. 

This blog, formerly about learning to care for aging parents, is about to become adoption obsessed.  Welcome.  I wanted to have a forum where our friends and family can get some information about what's going on.  I know you want pictures, but we can't post photos of the kids online until they are legally ours, so for now you get this cute picture of us in Cathedral Square, taken on a visit during the year we lived in Riga.  Man, we were skinny that year.