January 30, 2013

"Buy American"

I've taken procrastination to new heights, my friends.  But I'm going to try and pass it off as slow and deliberate thinking.   :-)

Since about 6 weeks ago, when buzz began about the Russian adoption ban (I'll re-phrase that as "this Russian adoption ban...", optimistically), and certainly since December 28 when Putin signed it into law, I've had all sorts of thoughts, questions, and emotions related to adoption in general, Russia in particular, birth parents, kids...yadda yadda....

For now, here's what I want to address.  "Why adopt from Russia when there are so many kids who need homes right here?"

That's the question that, in one form or another, keeps popping up on all the comment sections of news stories, and from families, friends and even strangers to Russian adoptive parents.  Often it appears as a judgment, and it's the one that most gets under many adoptive parents' skin.  The ubiquitous blog trolls who post anonymously from under the internet bridges love it.  (See post title - a popular "clever" comment).  But it's also a very fair question, for those who are legitimately curious.

No child care system is perfect for the kids, and certainly no one system is the best for everyone looking to adopt.  As they should be, the systems are designed for the child.  There are many aspects of the American system that I wouldn't necessarily call 'flaws' - they simply didn't work for me as an prospective adoptive parent.

My story?  I wanted a baby; to be a mom. Just like most women do. I planned to adopt from here in the good ol' US of A and, in fact, I had no clue why so many people set off for these obscure, faraway lands when we have plenty of kids who need homes right here.

A few things I discovered along the way: Going 'thru the system' generally means foster-to-adopt.  I have tremendous admiration for the parents and foster parents who go this route, because it generally means welcoming a child who's already been put thru the wringer into your home and into your heart, giving your utmost to someone who may or may not be receptive to it, and at the same time having to manage your own attachment, as these kids may very well stay in the system, be reunited with their birth families, or be adopted out to other parents after a certain amount of time.  I won't pretend to be especially familiar with how this system works - feel free to step up if you are - but I do know that even with all these challenges, there are painfully long waiting lists of prospective parents looking to adopt thru foster care, and single wannabee-moms don't exactly get priority.

The other main route domestic adoptive parents take, and the one I was most likely to go (popularly featured in "Friends" and the dark comedy "Juno"), was "independent".  That's where, thru various means, contact is made with a birth mother while she's expecting, and she can select who she'd like her baby's adoptive parents to be.  Challenges?  First, you need to create a heckuva marketing campaign (which seems distasteful enough in this context), as there are usually a lot of applicants trying to sway the birth mom to choose them.  Second, while most birth mothers are going thru an unimaginably painful time and legitimately looking for the best home for their baby, I also met several prospective parents who'd been scammed by mothers who promised she'd chosen them as her baby's new parents, but in reality simply wanted someone to pick up the tab for her rent and medical bills, without any intention of actually giving up the baby.  Some have done it to more than one set of eager, unsuspecting parents simultaneously.  Legally, there's no recourse.  The law - as of course it should - protects a woman's right to keep her baby.  Thus, she can legitimately (or theatrically) change her mind about keeping it up to and beyond the birth, leaving the prospective parents heartbroken AND out a good chunk of money.  I don't disagree with the law, but I was sure beginning to question whether this was right for me.  Additionally, a domestic adoption isn't final until several months after taking custody, bonding with your new baby, nurturing his/her development and adjusting to your new life together.  And, as we've all seen, it may still be challenged by a birth mother, or any original family member, long after that.  Again, I don't know that I disagree with this - I imagine it would depend greatly on the specific case - but whether or not I do doesn't matter.  What I did know was I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of it.

The key thing to realize is that while yes, there are certainly plenty of kids here who need good, stable homes, it's not due to any lack of prospective adoptive parents.  Quite the opposite, there are many prospective parents - who may or may not ever be chosen -  actually competing for available children here.  

Murmansk Specialized Baby Home
Which brings us to the next point.  Children are children, and there are kids EVERYWHERE who need good, loving homes. Regarding Russia, the number of kids languishing in orphanages far exceeds the number of parents looking to foster or adopt them. In fact, as of Russia's policy before the ban, kids were not made available for international adoption until they'd been listed on the domestic registry for at least 8 months, and offered to and declined by a certain number of Russian families. 

 The Monkey and I both celebrate how ridiculously lucky we are to have found each other, and as a wise still-six-year-old, the Monkey tells me that the adoption ban is unfair to the babies.  When I first told her it was a possibility, she thought for a while, then asked if we could go back to the fountains near the Rockefeller Center Tree because she wanted "to make one more wish."   

It's impossible to spend any amount of time visiting an orphanage in Russia - or likely anywhere else - and not think of the kids left behind.  Some mornings when I drop the Monkey off at school I look at the faces of the kids bouncing around on the playground, and I imagine their counterparts back in those orphanages, with just as much right to a family, to happiness, with just as much potential to shine, but who are instead left behind. 

January 28, 2013

A little Blog TLC

As I hear my poor blog crying out from neglect, I'm checking in to show it a little much-deserved love.

First off, work.  I'm excited to say that about 2 months ago I took my real estate license, and myself with it, over to set up shop at Keller Williams, NYC.  A brand that's been active across the country for 25 years (not only active, but really rockin'...JD Powers ranked it #1 nationally in both buyer and seller satisfaction for 2012!), and yet just about to enter its terrible-two's in NYC.  A really great environment, and picking up serious steam in the Big Apple (more on that later...!)

I glance down a few posts and see a picture of our fish.  Fish are quite gone by now.  In fact, until last week, we had a hamster as well.  'Handsome Prince' he was dubbed by the Monkey.  She'd recently taken to greeting him, "Hi, Handsome"  Cracked me up coming from a petite six-year-old.  Anyhooo...

Hmmm?  Something about a Russian adoption ban?  Oh yes, THAT.  Oy.  Yes, lots going on, lots to say.  Time's too tight at this particular moment, but I'll stop back later to expound.  Yep, just said "expound'.  Feat for the day.


November 20, 2012

Adoption Awareness Month

...and just when you thought my blog had drifted off into that great cyber galaxy...  

November, my friends, is Adoption Awareness Month (and also my birth month - happy birthday to me!), and so feels like a perfect time to resurrect the blog. While there may have been radio silence here, I've been a busy bee in some Facebook Russian adoption groups, as well as among people in actual 'real life', vicariously enjoying and re-living the thrills, chills, stresses and truly immeasurable joys of adoption. 

It's nearly 5 years since the Monkey and I gladly touched down at JFK after the most horrendous 9 airborne hours EVER with a screaming toddler and  about 200 incredibly tolerant fellow Aeroflot passengers to whom I'm forever indebted, and it's been a wacky, challenging, stressful, entertaining, wonderful journey ever since.  Home with me in NYC since she was 22 mos old, this little Monkey is the life of every party, takes in her surroundings like a proverbial sponge, and is now an eager 1st grader, an athlete, always the socialite, and quite the little snuggler.  And as I think of all the kids left behind, still living in orphanages in Russia and elsewhere throughout the world, who through no fault of their own must go without proper care, nutrition, any sort of hopeful future, or the love of a family, just one word comes to mind. --->

March 22, 2012

Hey, I remember this place!

Impressed with my regular blogging habits?  :-)

No real reason for the hiatus, I've just been lazy and doing the Facebook thing (again, it's no substitute for blogging, just a series of quick fixes), and busy with work, the Monkey, work, the Monkey....birthday parties...sight words...playground, work...

So before I hop, just a couple of quick "ism's" from this week while they're fresh:

1.  A little while after I'd reprimanded the Monkey for whatever, she calls me into the kitchen to show me something.  And, there, stuck to the fridge, is a card with stickers and a pink-wrapped Hershey's kiss taped to it.  I could see "for Mom", so I asked if it was for me.  "Yes". (Mind you, I'm lucky to have a kid who makes lots of "Mom, I so love you" cards!).  So I take it off the fridge, gingerly open it, and read "For Mom,  I do not like you.  Love Alana".   I confirmed the message with her, forced back a smile, and applauded her very grown up approach to expressing her feelings.  The next morning she pointed out the Hershey's Kiss again, and explained, "I knew you wouldn't like what I wrote, but I didn't want you to feel bad".  :-)

2.  Mentioning a book we'd read the night before (Camilla the Cupcake Fairy), "Mom, this story isn't real because wands aren't really magic unless they're the tooth fairy's wand, but not kids' or regular people's.  This book is fictional!"

3.  This one just struck me as funny in the delivery.  Our cousin Lily, recently out of college, occasionally babysits Alana.    Alana adores her, and Lily (who does musical theater herself) came to Alana's afterschool musical theater show last week.  Alana was then very excited to hear that Lily was going to be watching her last nite, and set up a tea party and planned what books she wanted Lily to read, etc.  Yet, when the much ballyhooed cousin arrived, Alana didn't even turn around, but just said, "AGAIN you're babysitting?"

And that's the kid.  Can't believe only a few more months left of kindergarten!  Now, off to the office and to show some apartments in this crazy warm weather!

July 07, 2011

Pics R Us

Yep, it's true.  I've been terribly remiss about posting pics here. Anyway, a few fave recent Monkey shots for you admirable resistors of the evil FB lure...

July 04, 2011

isms n' ieps

Okay, "ism's" first.  Honestly, she's such a funny and creative kid that the ism's are coming fast 'n furious.  (Poetic license on the grammar)  :-)   Here are a few that come to mind, probably because I've retold 'em the most:

Her:  Mom, I want help with my shoes!  Me:  I'm getting ready, too.  Maybe your pretend friend can help you (yes, she has a 'pretend friend').  Her:  My pretend friend is away until Friday.  (Then later that afternoon...)  Me:  Monkey, did you (blah, blah...whatever naughty thing it was)?  Her:  No.  My pretend friend did it.  Me:  I thought she's away until Friday?  Her:  She surprised me!

With school on break, I brought her with me to show a client a studio apartment.  We all walk in together.  Her:  Wow, it's beautiful!  (she looks around, confused)  But there's no place to go.

She has a great vocabulary, but sometimes has delays on word retrieval.  She was bothered that a certain grown-up friend would sometimes mimic her getting "stuck" and saying "uh, uh, uh..." while thinking of a word.  I told her I'm sure he doesn't mean to make her feel bad, and if she tells him it hurts her feelings he won't do it again.  "But what if I try to tell him and I say 'uh, uh, uh'....?"

Taking a scene from the Backyardigans, she'll sometimes stand on a street corner, grin, and at the top of her lungs yell "Silence!!!!"  Then she looks around and giggles.

Then, of course, waiting for me to buy tix at the kiosk for Cars 2 today, she used a little toy to get another little girl's attention.  Long story short, she's got a new best friend and I've got a whole family's cell numbers.

Anyhoo, IEP's.  Y'know what?  Blagh.  Long ridiculous story.  Bizarrely f*cked up, baffling...got a request filed for an impartial hearing to get Monkey the right services for kindergarten.  We'll let it go at that, to be continued.

May 07, 2011

Drum roll...

CitiHabitats (maybe I'll change the blog to Secs in the Citi?) is the lucky winner of my 'Where's the best place to get going as a real estate agent in this market?' contest, and I've signed on.  So, my dear bloggy friends, if you or anyone know is looking for a place in NYC - to rent, buy, or to sell - please give me a shout, and I'll be happy to help.  I've got access to oodles of listings, mid-range straight up thru luxury.

In other news, I don't think I've regaled you with the story of the Monkey's mis-located IEP files (feel like you've missed out?), but we finally have success!  For those of you familiar with getting kiddies' services transitioned from pre-school to kindergarten, somehow her files were sent to the wrong school (way wrong, as in down to the W. Village!), and no matter who I called, how many times, or what I said, nobody seemed to have the authority or ability to transfer them to her correct school.  Ah, bureaucrazy.  Anyhoo - voila!- review is in process, observations will be done next week.

Hey, anyone else crazy enough to buy an aquarium just 'cuz your kid brings home a couple of goldfish from a carnival?  :-)

May 01, 2011

Happy May Day

Happy 1st, folks!  Springlike weekend here in NYC to boot.  Yay!

So, let's see.  Spring break has come and gone, featuring a few days of camp for the Monkey, and a trip down to my bro & crew's place for the end of Passover (or Pes-accchh, as is more fun to say), where the Monkey had a blast with her human cousins.   And she actually held it together quite well for round-trip Amtrak rides, something which until now was only a dream.

Also, way back yonder in March, I decided to follow thru on an idea I'd kicked around for quite a while, and sent myself to real estate school, where it took just over a month to complete the training course and pass the state exam,  qualifying myself as a real estate agent.  I've been meeting with oodles of nearby brokerages of all kinds and considering which is both the best starting place for a newbie, and best for current market conditions.  I've made my pick (funny how I came back to my original instinct, even after exploring spiffier options)... and as soon as I have the official offer letter in my mitts I'll tell ya which one it is.

That's about it!  And now, if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go tend to our 2 new aquatic roomies that Alana brought home from a carnival in the park today.

April 21, 2011

Name Change

Hi there! I'm experimenting with changing the name of this blog to make it more about what it's about...  moments and thoughts from here in NYC!  Keeping in that mode, I retain the option to change it back in a NY minute.  

Meanwhile, please continue enjoy -and post a comment so I know you've stopped by!  :-)

March 08, 2011

Fun w. Flix

What?  I didn't post these links yet??  My bad.  :-)

Here, a quick clip of the Monkey 'hangin' out'

Here, my video of her 5th Bday extravaganza

February 15, 2011

Turning Five Fiesta

How'd she get to be five??  We did yet another celebration - a big ol' blowout - at NY Kids Club.  I thought she would want Chelsea Piers this year - the sports mecca of NYC - but she opted no, "Kids Club!".  The pint-sized socialite actually had a whole weekend of festivities, what with her partying and sleeping over at her bff Ashley's place on Friday nite to celebrate Ash's big 0-5, then waking up Sat to her own birthday, the shindig, then back-to-back playdates (with a short break for gymnastics!) the rest of the weekend.

Anyways, I'm feelin' very much the proud, very lucky (and finally refreshed!) mama of this awesome li'l Monkey girl.  Here, some birthdays (and fashions) thru the years.....2, 3, 4, and...(drum roll...)....5!

February 10, 2011

Project Russia

So the Monkey's pre-K class is doing an "Around the World" unit. (Partly inspired, I'm sure, by the fact that the various teaching asst's hail from Hamburg, Britain, Cairo, and Moscow... I♥NY....♫♫).  In any case, her teacher invited any parents who would like to come in and do a project with the kiddies based on whatever country of interest.  So, Russia it was, and I spoke about some Russia "Fun Facts" (complete with pictures), and then had them make paper Matryoshka dolls while listening to some Russian kiddie music.  The Monkey was just giddy over this whole thing, and I've gotta say, the kids impressed me both with their questions and comments about Russia, and their artistic/crafts skills!  I really expected the teachers would be doing more of the crafts, but nooooo.  Very cool and fun!  Even cooler that the inexplicable 101 fever I was sporting the night before was gone by morning.

February 08, 2011

'ism's and bits...and almost 5!

Hi again, mi amigos.  Before getting to any birthday chatter, I wanted to jot down a couple of Monkey "ism's and bits" before I forget 'em.  Sure, some are redundant to my Facebook friends, but that's how it goes.  Skip to the ones you like.

Most recently, this past weekend, I was telling Alana that it was time to leave the indoor playground at Chelsea Piers.  My news was met with a grinning "fuck it, mommy!".  I'd never heard any real potty words from her before, so I probably just looked surprised as I said "excuse me?", and she repeated herself enthusiastically (and loudly, I might add), as a guy walking by smirked at me and said quietly, "yup, that's what she said!"  Oy.  Later that night, our friends took us out to dinner to celebrate February birthdays.  As we were wrapping up, imagine my surprise to hear my still-4-yo-daughter perk up and say, unprompted, "Fank you for inviting us to dinner, Sophie and George!  This was great!".  All in all, I'd say my little baby's growing up!

My favorite (and thus, any more that I remember will be inserted above this, 'cuz ya gotta save the best for last) was last week when were heading out for a party, and I saw the Monkey sitting on the potty, straining.  Me:  Are you ok?  Are you trying to poop?  Her:  No, I'm trying to get candy out my butt.  Me:  Uh....ok then!  Her (both of us are laughing now):  Because I ate a lot of sugar today!  I'm trying to get candy out my BUTT!  But I can't.   Me:  Yeah, me neither.  (Elements of this convo have been re-enacted several times since).

 Gotta say, I admired the hypothesis - sugar in, candy out?!   A scientist in the making.

So, another sign she's growing up.  Gymnastics.  She started almost year and a half ago, in the 3's class.  Then moved up to the 4's, which was nearly identical...lots of obstacle course stuff, trampoline, some rock wall.  Now I've bumped her into the 5's.  BIG change!  This class is way regimented, as they move from one piece of equipment to the next.  If you know Alana, you know she's a bouncy little chickie on her own agenda.  She'll focus or not, depending.  And if her interests lie elsewhere, she'll generally - and easily! - wrangle a partner in crime.  Not so in this class!  I did see her go that route towards the end of the first session, but last week, after I explained that this is the way to learn how to do all those cool flips and high bounces we've seen the coaches do,  I watched in amazement as the tiniest gymnast in the class stayed focused and intent for the full 60 mins.  Wowsa!

Anyway, yes, birthday coming up this Saturday!  The whole 5 thing seems to have this aura about it, at least around here, where kindergarten testing, zoning, and admissions is a big deal, yadda yadda.  Won't bore you with the details of that!  But no question, turning 5 makes you a full-fledged kid, which is cool but a little mixed for a mama. 

And right now I'm juggling the details of the party, along with prepping for a crafts project I'm gonna do with her class on Thursday (they're doing an international unit this month, so I'm gonna talk about Russia and have them make cute paper versions of Matryoshka dolls), while of course tending to the slew of grown-up tasks and quandaries.  Over n' out!

(The little groupie with members of the Dirty Sock Fun Time Band, after a show at her school)

January 03, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

A new record?  Post-Halloween to Post-New Year's Eve without...posts?  

So, what's up, everyone??

I'm excited to report I actually went out this New Year's Eve.  Yay!  My friends/ neighbors were kind enough to host the Monkey for a sleepover, in exchange for which I hosted their munchkin, Alana's BFF Ashley, for a playdate/makeover party earlier in the evening so they could go out for dinner.  On the grown-up entertainment roster for me was a fancy-ish house party with some friends over on the East side (hey, any excuse to ditch the GAP denim - bonus for silly hats!), swigging Prosecco (although the food was really my over-indulgence...shhh), and seeing a friend's band for a bit before zipping back home around a respectable 2:30am.

Today of course is the Monkey's first day back at school after Christmas Vacation, and let's face it, she's the star of this blog.  :-)  About vacation, it was actually pretty cool!  Monkey's become quite the entertaining little buddy (I'll post some fresh 'ism's' later), and didn't make me much nuttier than anyone else might've, if stapled to me virtually 24/7.  (HUGE contrast to last year...yikes!).  So let's see.... we went to the Big Apple Circus, went ice skating on Wollman rink, swimming with some friends at a great rooftop pool, saw Tangled (tho' didn't make it thru the whole thing....too scary?), enjoyed the usual playdates with friends large and small, she went to "camp"...and let's not forget the spectacular snow that fell, aka "nature's playground"!

Okay, things to do, so over n' out for now....may add pics later...enjoy!

October 22, 2010

Late October? Already??

So back to the blog.  Just hang on a sec while I dust this thing off....whoo...whoo... ah, that's better.  :-)

Since I've just gotten to spend two consecutive evenings out (quite the rarity), one to celebrate Lil B's Birthday (HBD Lil!), and one to toast Michelle's awesome engagement (and glitterific ring!), thought I'd send 'em some shout-outs.

The Monkey is back in school, of course, Pre-K...and this year she's been bumped into the most advanced class in her school.  Kinda nice, since a few months ago they weren't sure if they were gonna bump her into an integrated class at all.  (Integrated = top level kids thru the special ed system + 'typically developing' kids from the area).   She's doing great, and I admit I found it kinda funny to get an email home from her teacher about using "good words instead of bad words", since when she started at the school last year she spoke barely any words!  (Now they're getting finicky??) 

Speaking of her school, the big annual Fundraiser is coming up soon... November 9.  If anyone would like to buy raffle tickets (or have their arm twisted to buy raffle tix!!!), they're only $10 each, and there are some really awesome prizes (spa days, basketball tix, high-end fashion items... even a trip for 2 to Mexico!!).  Please let me know!!!!!!

And our sad news, Alana and I bid our farewells to Cassie the WonderBeagle a little over a month ago.  She lived a happy, healthy 15+ years,  and when the tumor that she'd been coping with so well finally took over - as we knew it was bound to - there was no way I could watch our furry little best buddy suffer any longer than necessary.  It was hard to do, but I'm so grateful she had this second-puppyhood going on, and really got to enjoy her last few months.  We'll always love and miss our Sassy Cassie.

September 01, 2010

Only in NY

Just a quickie I had to share.  The Monkey and I were walking the pup around our moderately busy city block yesterday, Monkey intermittently stopping to play with her new bubbles/ bubble wand along the way.   A woman stopped and struck up a convo w/ me about our somewhat ailing doggie, as the beautiful and fancily dressed little girl she was with - turned out to be her 7-yo niece - happily joined in Alana's game, jumping and popping the bubbles.  After a little chit-chat about dogs, kids, etc, the woman wrangled the girl and explained they were off to lunch at the Russian Tea Room.  "I'm from Russia!" the little girl piped in. 

August 27, 2010


For the record, playing Julie Cruise Director's never been my thing.  Not that I don't like to try, it's just that events I do try to organize, particularly ones that require rallying others, tend not to materialize.  So, imagine finding myself and the Monkey in PA, with a group of terrific people I'd never met before, who'd enthusiastically rallied on short notice.  Yee-haw!

It gets better.  The place in question was the remote but adorable Philly 'burb of Phoenixville, PA, and the peeps in question were two blog buddies I've known thru email and occasional phone calls for a few years (you may know them, too!) and their kids, all of us connected thru the strange and wacky world of Russian adoption.  Mix n' matched between us, we had 2 Murmansk monkey clowns, who at one point lived together in the same group in the same baby home; 2 blonde-haired Kirov cuties who'd never met, a boy and a girl; and a beautiful boy from Ekat.  All these munchkins are between 4 and 7.  (And no sh*t, these kids are gorgeous!)  :-)

Mama K, as we'll call her here, wrote up a great synopsis of the day on her blog, Dreams Really Do Come True, so for the full story - and her true identity - check it out....and come back!

After the events wound down, and the kiddies were just about conked out in the car, K dropped us off at Rock n' Roll After School, the tres-cool creation of my friend Erin.  I've always known Erin as the veteran rocker chick, so had another surreal moment watching my little Monkey girl, who until recently didn't sing, let alone show much interest in musical instruments, hop up on the stage and, after dabbling with a few other instruments, plunk her miniscule booty down and channel her inner Sheila E. behind the drum kit.  Hey, who rocks out better, singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?  (BIG thanks to Erin for letting her tool around on all the equipment...you're a better man than I!).  Back at Erin's house, Monkey was knocked down, trampled,  mauled, and licked by Erin's exuberant Bernese Mountain Dog.... who she still wants to go back and play with some more.  Sigh.

All in all, we're talking about maybe 24 hours.  But what a cool trip.  Monkey and M (her red-headed male counterpart), who we've always thought showed some similarities, instantly bonded in giddy lunacy, and their similarities became even more apparent.  It felt like everyone had just stepped out of their blogs and photos and were moving and talking.  Hanging with my blog buddies in person was a trip in itself, and watching these 5 fantastic but very individual munchkins play and play nicely all day was a kick, that gets even more surreal as I look back.  For those of you who've been in this blog world, the pics are really kind of wild...a pretty big deal, if you think about where each of these munchkins is from, how they each found their forever family, and how they/ we then all found ourselves together on a big ol' playdate.   The only thing I'd wanna see different next time is to have even more of you there...oh, and maybe a bathroom.  :-)

August 09, 2010

Monkey stuff and a New Venture

Wanna know the main reason I haven't been updating about the Monkey?  Simple...she's been saying and doing so much stuff - funny things, wacky things, sweet things, and generally picking up so many new tricks  that just when I plan to write about one, there's something else.  I can't keep up!   Sigh.

Speech is virtually a non-issue now.  It's gone from super delayed to often excessive.  :-)  Maybe some language elements could still use a smidge of catch-up, but whatever...it's coming along fast, and frankly, most of her 'errors' now are pretty cute.  (And let's not forget this is the summer of Toy Story III - I'll spare you all the stories about her wanting a Woody {doll!}). Her school, which at the end of June decided to slate her for the same preschool class again in Sept (they go by ability, not age), noticed her language burst and "academic skills" improvement in late July and bumped her up into their infamously fast-moving integrated class for Sept.  (yay!)

If you're a Facebook friend you've seen some of the antics.  There was the nite I woke up to see her standing next to my bed holding a box of cupcakes; after reading her the riot act, ordering her back to bed, and going to return the cupcakes to the fridge, I noticed a big mess of toys in the living room including her car seat moved away from its spot, sitting in the foyer.  Fast forward to morning,  I see a cupcake sitting on my night table, do a little math in my head, and realize she hadn't eaten any... she'd taken the cupcake out for ME!  (How the doggie hadn't gotten it overnite is beyond me!).  Next, she explained that she took the car seat out (tossing all the toys off it) so she could climb up on it to unlock our apt door and go out in the hall to look for 'the elephant'.  (Our neighbor's door creaks, and we used to say it was an elephant...  but that was around a year ago).  Out in the hall, by herself, at 4am - blagh!

Also around the cupcakes, she'd apparently learned the fine art of distracting me ("Mommy, that was so silly...do it again!!!"), and snatching my cupcake as soon as I fall for it.

And then there's this past Saturday, when we were already running tight for gymnastics, and as I'm finding her leotard I hear her laughing, "Mommy....wook!  Blue and red makes pupple!!".. only to see she's painted her whole self... pupple.  Oy!  Into the shower we go, scrub her down, run the pup off to doggie day care, and actually made it downtown to gymnastics only 10 minutes late.  (She later re-did  her arms!)

Okay, soooo....the new venture. For everyone who's got a zillion pictures and video clips sitting on any of a variety of gadgets, and even old pics in a drawer, check out  Susan Lynne Photo & Video Magic.  I do individual photo editing (everything from simple tweaks to having some really creative fun), and create interesting, finished videos (music videos, montages...) from whatever you've got.  "Like" me on FB or visit my website to see some samples of my work.... and if you like what you see, please pass the word along to your friends!

June 25, 2010

Catchin' Up

Okay, I'm gonna skip all the 'bad blogger' self-chastising (it's getting old, no?).  (But seriously, over a month?  Yikes!)

Been a bunch of stuff going on the past few weeks, so now it's time to pop my head up.  Monkey's got just one day left of first-year pre-school, and they had an over-the top but really cute in-class graduation this past Monday.  Aside from putting on a 'play' of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, performing a class song, and showing a slideshow of the class throughout the year, they each got diplomas (not making this up!), and awesome goodie bags.  In it, each kid got a personalized handmade photo album, made of construction paper, laminated, with cut-out decorations, containing about 50 photos just of his/herself throughout the year.  Also, a dvd of the slideshow, a class T-Shirt, and a Dr. Suess jigsaw puzzle - 48 piece, no less.  How's THAT for a teaching staff that rocks??

Meanwhile, while that was going on, Cassie our beagle was in surgery for a - this is kind of icky - strange growth in her nose.  A biopsy several weeks ago came back clear, but it was getting much bigger and making her clearly uncomfortable, with lots of sneezing and snorting.  No vet likes putting an elderly dog under for surgery, but we decided to go for it, and it went fine.  She's still not all clear, since they didn't want to get too invasive, but seems way better than she was.

What else?  Oh, yes, last week we had my sister-in-law and niece here to visit for a few days, and the Monkey and her cousin had a blast.  One of the highlights was an outing to Victoria Gardens, the makeshift amusement park on Wollman Rink in Central Park.  Way fun for the kids, and a James Taylor sighting for us moms.  And after they left?  A panicky call from my friend Donna on her way to the ER  - where I met her as she awaited an emergency appendectomy that same night.

Anyway, good to see ya'll back here.  Over 'n out for right now....

May 17, 2010

An oversight? Nahhh....

Yep, way overdue for a blogger linked to the Russian adoption world, I know, but here goes!

Right after the incident of the mother "returning" her 7-yo adopted son to Russia, we all saw how the blogs, social networks, yadda yadda, were overrun with scathing remarks and essays about this adoptive mother, with calls made for everything from fines to extended incarceration to worse.  Russia launched into its usual "THIS is why we don't want to adopt out to Americans!" stance, and threatened to halt international adoptions.  (Much credit is actually due to the Russian government for not halting the process).  Me?  I wanted to think a little.  

Of course what this woman did struck me as very wrong, and awful for the child, but I wasn't comfortable with the lynching, either.  I also wasn't comfortable with the Russians' outrage at her treatment of the child, as callous as it was, when it's not unusual for Russian families to adopt from their own orphanages - often to collect on financial incentives - and then return the child when it doesn't work out, and nobody says a word.    What mattered to me most was that what happened was bigger than this one woman's actions.  And where I agreed with the Russian government is that it did signal the need for some sort of safeguard.

What I first tried to do was put myself in this woman's shoes, but of course I couldn't.  I've never adopted a 7-year old boy, with an unknown history which most likely involves unknown forms of abuse along with at least one awfully painful abandonment (2 if you count the adoption itself),  from a far away country, who is now threatening my family, showing a violent streak, and trying to burn down my home with our family in it... and had to deal with this day after day.  Granted, we don't know for sure that this is actually what was happening, but anyone passingly familiar with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) knows that it certainly could have been.

What I could do was recall my own experience.  I remember truly feeling for this little person who'd been taken away from the only life she knew, the only language she knew, who must've been feeling terribly confused and lost.  I also remember my nerves running way short when this was coming out in the form of long and violent (screaming, hitting, clawing, biting...)  2am rages.  Or multiple, intense mid-day rages that could last an hour or more each.  Hell, you may remember my (pre-Facebook) postings here, begging for anyone who was up and reading to offer some quick tips!  How many times did I post that I was at "wit's end"??    I love this awesome little Monkey to pieces, she loves me, and if we don't illustrate a "successful" adoption I don't know what does, but goodness knows it took an awful lot of work, bandages, and frazzled nerves getting here.  And this was an adoption of a happy-natured (if volatile!) not-even 2-year-old baby girl, whose fairly straightforward history I more or less did know.

I absolutely think this mother should've sought help locally.  Anyone in the U.S. who adopts has a social worker who handles their case, who may or may not be part of the international adoption agency.  If not, then there's someone to contact at the agency, as well.  That said, I suspect there's a lot of personal resistance to contacting these people in panic.  There's a sense of personal failure, there's a fear that all that is said will be reported back to the child's country-of-origin's government and may create problems, fear of encountering a smug "hey, you asked for this!" mentality, etc...and, woulda/coulda aside,  this may simply be too much for someone who's already so over-stressed and panicked to face.  

Therefore, my proposal (for the 2 cents minus recessionary decrease its worth), is that a post-adoption support or panic plan be put in place pre-adoption.  My agency director was terrific about telling me, upon our return home, that she's a trained and experienced social worker, and that I should feel free to call with any issues that crop up.  Clearly, not all agencies do that, and regardless, they're busy with their adoption-facilitating functions.  So, whether it's by the international agency or the local social worker, I think a plan needs to be put in place.  A list of local resources with phone numbers or URL's, to be sure, but then also a first-line person for issues as they crop up, a second-line person in case that doesn't do it, and a"panic plan" for the most extreme cases of wit's-ended-ness or fears for one's own, or one's child's, safety.  Details could be hammered out by someone better versed in social work than I am, but the plan, in writing, should be in every adoptive parent's hands by the time they arrive home with their child.  I'm willing to bet that even just knowing it's there would relieve a lot of stress.

Pre-adoptive education should also be a must, and I think any of us who've "btdt" that can agree that the 10 hours of online 'training' is a joke.  At the very least, again, a list of resources about issues commonly encountered for access pre-adoption (which, let's face it, is probably also a joke since the issues you'll encounter are, by Murphy's Law, never the ones you're prepared for!), as well as post-.

What I'm now iffy on, partly because none of us knows what's involved yet, is the agreement that the US and Russia are supposedly close to finalizing for inter-country adoption.  I'm all for an agreement, and glad, of course, that this is moving along so quickly and seemingly amicably.  What makes me apprehensive is the likelihood that it involves giving Russian government some control over the adoption even after the child and family are back on US soil.  It's great that a simple agreement would, in theory, keep adoptions moving, but I honestly expect this sort of control would scare a lot of Americans away from Russian adoption, which would be an awful shame for the thousands of orphans who'd miss out on finding families.  And, it might also scare adoptive parents away from reporting difficulties at home, in fear of Russia's rights to "reach over" and intervene, even post- adoption.  For now, we'll have to wait and see what the details actually are.

Bottom line, methinks we parents should learn from what works at home.  Rules and punishments may be necessary evils, but education and support are most often what works best. 

April 28, 2010


We all know it's cool to write down funny/ interesting stuff that the kiddies do, for our/their later embarra...uh, amusement.  In this case, it's more a couple of things I found extra impressive and sweet.  And, since if I write it anywhere else I'll definitely lose it, you guys get the option of listening in....

One is, last week she was getting kind of pissy with me, and took a swing.  I said "Excuse me??", and she did it again.  I got down to her level and gave her my newly discovered death stare, "You don't EVER hit your mother.  Do you hear me?  You don't EVER hit your mother."  She wouldn't look at me, so I followed it with "Look at me.  Look.  At.  Me.  You don't EVER hit your mother."  She was smirking and wouldn't make eye contact, so I did what's become routine around here - sent her off to her room til she can calm down and behave nicely.

A few minutes later she comes into the kitchen...sobbing.  With tears streaming down her face, she says "I feel better now".  "You do??"  I ask.  Then the sobs get heavier, tears still streaming, "I sorry I hit my mother.  I so so-oo-oorry I hit my m-m-mother."  I just stood there now, looking at this tiny little person looking up at me with big round eyes, tears still streaming, "I don't look at you m-m-mommy 'acause I don't want to see you be angry at me or mad.  I want to see you H-H-HAPPY, M-M-MOMMEEEE" as her face reddened and tears rolled harder. "I don't look at you 'acause I don't want to see you angry at meeeee...".  A few sniffles more, "I sorry I hit my m-mother.  I don't do it again, mommy".
Yes, many big hugs followed.  And this from the girl who a year ago couldn't say more than maybe 15 words and was filled with frustration.

Okay, so the other nite I'm tucking her in.  We've read the requisite stories, sung the requisite lullabies, and as I start getting up to leave she grabs my arm and wraps it around her.  "I love you, Mommy.  I need you."  "I love you, too, sweetheart, bigger than the whole world.  Good nite" as I start to pull my arm away.  She (continuing the tug-o-war), using her sweet little voice, "But I need you a LOT, mommy".   Awwwww, man.  I hung tough and after a few extra squeezes and reassurances extricated my arm and said goodnite, but does this kid know how to work it, or what?   :-)

April 20, 2010

Duckin' the Paparazzi

Looking back over these past several posts, I realize there's a total black hole of Monkey pics.  This, my friends, is because the li'l photogenic one has decided it's funny to duck the paparazzi, aka Mommy and her digital Casio.  Ah well, let's see who laughs later when she has no pics to show of herself!  Anyhoo, a little of what she's been up to, ANYWAY....

Starting with the great "paint-my-feet-red and run around while mommy's asleep" caper...

Then we have our green monster...
...and sometimes just a silly kid duckin' the paparazzi

April 10, 2010

Okay, okay....

...man, ya slack a little on your blog and everyone's on your case!  I blame Facebook.  Really.  Bad Facebook!

Onto "funner" topics...taxes!  Yep, the annual evil. Trying to get them out by the end of this weekend.  Hopefully you've done yours.  I always seem to get stuck on one or two minute topics, but plowin' thru.

The bigger issue around here has been about my apartment renewal - should I stay or should I upgrade to a 2BR - and all that goes with it.  Seeing apartments, making quick decisions (not my strong suit!), and a long story involving my management company's leasing office and what might take the title of most ridiculous conversation ever with a person over 3. 

Meanwhile, the Monkey's doing flips on my chair as I type this, and making me smell her - phew! - stinky feet.  Thanks, girlfriend.    She's doing great, though.  Not only was our spring break generally drama free, but she had a great time on our trip to visit family, and the transportation involved - a plane one way and a train the other - resulted in no death threats, full mental breakdowns, or permanent blacklisting on either Amtrak or Delta.  I credit a portable DVD player and 2 Max and Ruby dvd's.  
She's still loving school and, in fact, the li'l one is not only getting better at identifying letters, she's starting to try and read words.  Wa-hoo!

And since I'm blathering on, trying to make up for weeks of blog-lect,  I'll also brag about a lifebook I FINALLY put together for Alana - and the awesome job iPhoto/Apple did printing it.  For ages I trolled for lifebook ideas, and couldn't decide on just one.  I started telling her the story of Princess Alana at bedtime, and one day it hit me - that's it!  Do her lifebook as a storybook about Princess Alana, and just punch up the story with pictures.  When I got my new Mac last month (oh, I got a new iMac last month!), iPhoto made it so simple to put a book together there was simply no way not to do it.  When the book arrived I was really blown away by how nice it looked - for all of about $44.

Okay kids, so you asked for it, you got it!  Stay tuned for updates on our apartment situation...and on another project I can't yet discuss, but it's a fun goof so it should be fun when I do!

** PS - if you'd like to receive my Turn the Page Coaching e-Newsletter, just send me your email addy **

February 19, 2010

SUCH a mommy-blog

Yep, you're warned - this post especially is gonna read as a 'mommy blog', largely b/c the munchkin's had a birthday AND been on Presidents' Week vacay.  I promise I'll mix it up a little after this!

Ooh, before I launch into the mom/kid stuff, I've gotta mention something freaky from last weekend.  Simply, a guy jumped from his 11th floor window in the apt bldg behind mine, landing in our shared courtyard.  Sure, you're thinking **splat!**.... but you'd be wrong.  There's a spiked fence that runs across the courtyard.  Yep...skewered.  Yikes.


The Monkey...who no longer wishes to be referred to as the Monkey...was turned 4 by the nocturnal birthday fairy last Friday!  Happy Birthday, li'l one!   I did the requisite cupcake-totin' pop-in at school, we had birthday cake and a playdate that night with her new obsession whose identity I won't reveal (Hi Jackson!  Oops...), and then - we'll fast forward past Saturday's courtyard extravaganza - her big gymnastics/Mermaid party on Sunday...wa-hoo!  That party was then followed by spontaneous back-to-back playdates, both, coincidentally, with beautiful little friends from far-away lands.

She's had some fun camp sessions at a newly discovered neighborhood gem (that's saving me a bunch) and giving me breaks,  a nasty blister-turned-something that also landed us in the ER, for what, by ER standards, was actually a fairly pleasant evening complete with karaoke (don't ask!), and has been enjoying her bunches of birthday presents.  All in all, she's been a much easier kid since she's turned 4 (thus far, anyway!), rendering this vacation far more enjoyable than the emotionally/behaviorally hellish experience that was Christmas break.

Anyhoo, I've got a sleeping kid, we've got her BFF Ashley's Princess BDay party in the morning (Happy Birthday, Ash!), and I'm gonna chill for a bit before zzzzzz.....


February 08, 2010

"Anyone from out of town?"

I'm noticing an unusual spike in visitors here.  Welcome all, grab yourselves a drink...just wondering, how did you find me?

February 03, 2010

"ism's" and bits (2/11 - new ones added!!)

Okay, some recent Alana stuff I want to remember...and I figure I can write 'em here until she can read. :-)

- She'll suddenly jump into my lap, and with this ginormous grin command me, "cwy!".   I refuse a few times, she laughs, and when I eventually give in and "cwy" she gets very sweet, coos "don't cwy mommy," strokes my arm, gives me a hug,"it's okay mommy, you're my best friend... don't cwy". When I finally play the cheered-up mommy, she jumps up in my face again, and giggles "cwy!".

- Speaking of "you're my best friend"....when said by a cute three-year-old who's giving you a sweet hug, it clearly melts hearts. Suckers! She knows it and works EVERYONE.

- She tends to throw lots of things during tantrums. After, she apologizes and picks them all up.

- She likes to go put dog biscuits (one at a time, she's learned!) and her table scraps into Cassie (our beagle's) bowl.   It's sweet, and I guess it makes up for all the crap she puts this poor dog through.

- This one's confused me for quite a while. "Own".   "I want my OWN pants", "No, my OWN paper..", when what she already has IS her stuff.   It seems she's confusing "own" with "new", but I'm not entirely sure. (??!)

- Lately, she's Picasso.  Painting at her new easel, drawing on paper, doodling random lines on tiny scraps of paper.  And nearly every one concludes with "I wanna go show....", and it'll always be one of a few specific people, and I don't hear the end of it for quiiiiite a while!

- My favorite. My acrobat was playing on the couch the other day, and from the other room I heard a thud. I came in, "what happened?".  Her, grinning , "I fell on the floor! BOOM!"  Me, "Yes, and why did you fall on the floor?"  Her, still grinning, "the couch did it!!".

And that's what I've got for right now.....

Ok, more...

- Fist pumped in the air, "let's do it...TOGEVVER!"

- "Dr. Mommy" (my favorite title)  :-)

- She'll get right in my face and challenge me with her sh*t-eating grin..."cose your eyes!"  Me: "Nnnno!"  (She's going to lick my face) Her, still grinning: "cose a' EYES!"

- We've very into being "fwee and fwee quarters", but looking forward to our birthday on "Fefewy 12", and our mermaid party on "Fefewy 14".  She knows her full name, my full name, our apt number, her bff's apartment number, and when someone asks her a question she sounds like that 'search engine overload' commercial, spewing info that may or may not answer the question.

- "I big and strong and I have MUSCLES!" (said in best growly voice)

-There's a little "side to side" trick taught on Ni-Hao Kai Lan to calm yourself down when you're mad.  After a rage (and her rages can be FIERCE), she'll start doing it and in a quiet little voice say "mommy....wook...",  so I can see she's done and trying to calm down.

- Not really an "ism", but yesterday we were having pizza with her bf Dylan.  They're sitting next to each other, and he looks at her and says "go away Alana.  I don't want you here.  Go over there." (Men!)  She looked pensive for a few seconds, turned to him, blew a raspberry and started giggling.  That's my girl!

January 21, 2010

Bad Blogger!

Geez, I've been a REALLY bad blogger. :-(

Okay, updates...let's see...

The Monkey's really got no dramatic updates, other than the changes that seem to be rolling along every day. Her speech/language, which was by far the issue of most concern, seems to be catching up like crazy. Sure, her sentence structure is still a bit behind age level, but talking is no problem now, and needless to say, considering she's always been a clown even WITHOUT words, she comes out with some of the darndest and funniest things. (Okay, so maybe it's just me who finds 'em funny? Or maybe it's the WAY she says 'em!) :-)

I'll start writing them down here as soon as I get a chance, so be sure to check back!

We were having some sleep issues, in the form of irrepressible late nite rock-star energy, but the last several nites she's....well...(shhhhhhh!)... I'm thinking she may be in a growth spurt now, as I've NEVER before heard requests to rest from this li'l Monkey...plus she now fits into some size 4T pants, even lengthwise...woo-hoo!

Any fellow city dwellers trying to plan their kiddies' BDay parties?? Yeowch. It's just nuts. I'm inviting her whole class (12 kids) plus some little outside friends. The cost for a preschooler's 1 1/2 hr party is mind-boggling. I think I'm in the acceptance stage. Oy!

That's mostly it. I think the humanitarian crisis Haiti is on everyone's mind, as it should be. I'm imagining most of us have done what we can donation-wise...now it's just so frustrating watching the supplies sit on the barges, awaiting distribution, while the quake victims go without. Still, it was amazing to see those little kids rescued last nite after 8 days...EIGHT DAYS...of no food or water. And those 50 kids from one orphanage flown to Pittsburgh to complete their adoptions or, for some of them, find adoptive families. If any of you have been following the Facebook group "Bring Anya Home" (please check it out!), you know how impossible it can be to work thru the most absurd and inhumane bureaucracy...(and I'm talking U.S.!), so it's extra awesome to see it actually work.

And th-th-that's all for now, kids...off to the Boat Show!

December 14, 2009

You're Still Here? :-)

Thanks so much for your loyalty, even thru my lazy, busy, and downright ADD times. (And let's not forget my succumbing to the quick high of...you know....those empty FB quickies!)

Movin' right along...

I wanna be in Alana's preschool!

Her class is heading over to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree today (this oughta be interesting...no mobs of tourists THERE!), and then binging at Mickey D's. Friday was their Hanukkah Party, complete with menorah-making (we used hers last nite), latkes, and jelly donuts. (The fact that she threw up mid-festivities didn't seem to dampen the spirit too much!). Sounds like an all Jewish school but nope, next week Santa's coming to visit one day, and they're having an all-Holiday Party another. In between is her class play of "Where the Wild Things Are", and her class is going to the movies to see The Frog Prince (nevermind that we already saw it in limited-run at the Ziegfeld!). Her whole school went to the Big Apple Circus in November, and they're going to Sesame Street Live in February. I honestly don't remember EVER doing this much fun stuff at school - and that includes smoking home-rolled ciggies (ahem!) between 10th grade English and Chemistry - and these kiddies are all 3's and 4's.

Fortunately, I'm also doing some coaching ("fan" me at Turn the Page Coaching on Facebook), having some fun with photo editing for myself and others (friend me on Facebook!), and getting out for some grown-up parties and gatherings...something this mama absolutely needs, and after all, 'tis the season!

Also, this is the Monkey's and my 2-year anniversary week...yesterday was 2 years that I've legally been her mom - and that she's legally been 'Alana'; Dec. 19 is what I call our "Together Day", since it's the day I took custody; and the 22nd is when my little Russki became an American Girl as we touched down at JFK and headed on home to the Upper West Side. (By all means, feel free to check out previous December postings for more lively, detailed accounts!).

It's truly crazy...no one was more cynical than I, hearing how adoptive parents always seemed to feel that they ended up with the child that was "meant to be" theirs. Seriously, for goodness sake, you're matched up with the next registered kid on the list. Barring any prohibitive circumstances or concerns.... every bit of the cynicism, now out the window. I can't imagine any kid ever being more mine - or her having anyone who's more her mom - than this li'l Monkey. :-)