Thursday, September 25, 2008

a variety of topics

Well, I just found out that our new criminal record searches, as well as the new document that the judge wanted, were sent to St. Petersburg yesterday. That's good. I wonder how many more hurdles we'll encounter before we get a court date . . .

We've had lovely weather here this week. Yesterday we went for a 4.2km walk with the school children (preschool, kindergarten and Grades 1&2) through the forest and along the beach. It went really well. When I got home, instead of being exhausted I felt energized so I did some fall yard clean-up. I moved the patio furniture under-cover, washed some outside windows, swept the sidewalks, washed some curtains, etc. Then, I was done.

Many of you may have heard about the school shooting here on Tuesday, in a small town about 160 km from us. Once again the country is in mourning and really struggling to understand how and why it could have happened. People here, especially in the small towns and rural areas, are so used to taking safety for granted. Unfortunately, that will have to change. I hope you get a chance to say a prayer for the hundreds of people who have been affected by this horrible act of violence, and pray for this country as it tries to deal with this tragedy.

On a lighter note, the boys have been selling Christmas Books. Let me explain first . . . every fall, a couple of charity companies use this program to raise money. The kids have a catalogue of about 150 book available for order, and they go to friends, family and neighbours to get orders. Based on the dollar value of their sales, they can earn prizes, money, or a combination of both. When the catalogues arrive, it's a bit of a race to get out there selling before the other kids. They hear a lot of, "Sorry, I've already ordered . . ." Anyways, the boys have sold enough books that they've earned an X-Box 360 and a pair of Sumo Wrestling suits with enough points left over that they get about 20€ in cash back. So, they're very happy. I promise to post photos of them in the Sumo suits once they arrive! The best part of this is that a children's charity (SOS-Barnbyar) that builds "children's villages" for orphans around the world makes money.

update: they decided to take all cash and bought the x-box locally, so no photos of Sumo suits

Friday, September 19, 2008


During our second visit with Sofia, we had some time with her in the "drama room" after all the children had finished a rehearsal for a performance. She showed us how much she loves to dance and perform. She recited something that we believed was a poem. She danced with us and for us. One of the songs that she performed a little routine to has been stuck in my head for quite some time.

Last weekend, I was facilitating a scrapbook workshop (I don't want to say I taught it, because I'm not very artistically gifted. I just show them the basics and provide tools, supplies and my occasional, somewhat humble, opinion.) and my Russian-speaking friend Tanja was there. I knew she was coming so I brought along the video of Sofia's speech and dance routine for her to watch and clarify for me. Well, it turns out the speech is in fact a poem, but not a children's poem as Tanja expected. She told me that it's some kind of patriotic poem for the city and that little Sofia was using (or trying to) the right inflection and emphasis in her voice. How cute.

As for the dance routine, I wanted to know if the song was familiar to Tanja because I thought it would be really neat to be able to have it on a CD. As it turns out, it's the song of Cheburashka, a very popular Russian cartoon character. Tanja tells me that he and his crocodile friend Gena are as famous as Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh. Tanja spent some time searching on YouTube, getting all nostalgic, to find a video for us to watch. Thanks, Tanja! Now I have ordered a Cheburashka CD and DVD so Sofia can enjoy them when she comes home.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

we got a call . . . just not the one we were hoping for

I had a feeling that today would be the day . . . it's been 3 months and 3 weeks. So, when Stefan called me around 2:30 I was pretty excited. Yes. He had gotten a call from our coordinator in Helsinki. No. There's no court date.

Here's the low-down: the judge has read through our documents and decided she wants one more letter signed and apostillized. (I'm not sure why I've decided our judge is a "she", but that's what I'm going with.) It's similar to some other ones we have already signed regarding formally adopting her, where she's been living, her name change, etc. except this one includes the names and birth dates of our sons as well as a statement about our willingness and ability to provide a loving, stable home for her (hmmm . . . thought that was the purpose of the home study . . .).

As well, somebody has lost our criminal records searches, so we have to get those done again. And apostillized.

So, we've printed out the letter our coordinator emailed to us. We've printed the criminal record search requests which we will drop in the mail tomorrow. Hopefully we will get the searches by Wednesday and can go to town to get all of them apostillized on Wednesday on Thursday and mail them right away. Which means they will be in Helsinki by next Friday. Not sure how long it will take for them to get into the judges hands by then.

That's all for now. It's been a long day. I was with the school children at a district track and field meet during school hours today. We were only home for an hour (during which time we got the call) and then I took Joel and Mattias to a) violin lessons in Jakobstad, b) Innebandy practice in Nykarleby (Joel's first) and finally c) soccer practice in Nykarleby (Mattias' last for the season). So, I'm dog-tired now and keep hitting all the wrong keys . . . time to chillax . . .

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

unveiling . . . .

This is what her room looks like, standing at the door.
I love the flower nightlight I found at Ikea. And, you can see the view from her room!
The rocking chair was a gift to Stefan from his grandma when he was little. It used to be red, but I painted it pink. The cabbage patch doll was mine - I bought it for myself when I was a teenager. Her name is Daisy (note the wallpaper border!).
I found this pillowcase at a craft sale (or, something like that). It says, "Sleep tight, Sofia" in Swedish.
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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

so busy

I feel like I've hardly had time to breathe lately we've been so busy. On Saturday I drove up to IKEA in Haparanda, Sweden with my sister-in-law. It takes about 5 hours to get there. We shopped till we dropped (almost literally) and then headed back home (I arrived home at 1am on Sunday). Unfortunately, there was no sleepin' in cuz Mattias had a soccer tournament and we had to leave the house by 9am (oh yeah, I had to bake muffins for the Concession stand, which I did on Friday night). When we got home later in the afternoon, we unloaded all the boxes from the car and I started assembling all my purchases. By the time I finished later in the evening, my hands we all cramped up from the little allen wrench . . . (later, I found a box hiding behind a door, so I still have a shoe rack to put together, but it can wait).

Yesterday after work, I stopped at the fabric store and picked up some pink fabric with which I began to sew some pink curtains today (with the help of my friend Carina). We also went to the post office and sent a birthday gift to Hayley and a Thinking About You package to Sofia. The Director of Save the Children's office in St. Pete will be in Finland this week (they are holding an info session in Tampere) so hopefully she can take it back with her and personally visit with Sofia. After the post office, Mattias had soccer practice so Sam and I worked out at the gym across the road (I wish I had a quarter for every time Joel said he was bored). Needless to say, I fell asleep on the couch and missed the ending of Law and Order.

Today I had planned to get ready for the Scrapbooking workshop I'm holding on Saturday. I got some work done on my info packet/handout, but the computer kept going offline so I didn't get as much done as planned, and didn't even start the sample project/display pages. And, Stefan called to say his sister and her family might be coming over later, so I had to pause everything to do a bit of a clean up because our house was a disaster with a capital D. So, now I've lost my zeal for that, and will have to get back to work tomorrow on scrapbooking once I get home from my other job. Anyways, off to answer some emails . . .

Thursday, September 4, 2008

more waiting

No news. Yesterday I called our coordinator in Helsinki. Really, I'm not trying to be a nuisance, I just want to remind her we're here, and waiting. Now that the judges are back to work, they're sorting through everything that happened while they were on vacation (I wonder how long that will take?) and planning the upcoming weeks. I was told that St. Pete adoptions take 3-4 months between 1st visit and court (we're at 3 months, 1 week) but because August (aka Holiday Month) fell in there, we're looking more at 4-5 months . . . I was also told that a family that met their child(ren) in April still has not heard about their court date either.

Without getting into details with y'all, I asked about birth parent(s) rights and if one might interrupt the proceedings at this point, visit the child etc. Unfortunately, I was told that in Russia they legally have the right to stop an adoption and request their child back up until the 10 day waiting period after court (breathe deep). At this point in the conversation, I switched gears and asked if she knew of any Finnish families having the 10 day waiting period waived. I think she misunderstood what I was asking and told me that it has happened that some adoptions to Finland have been interrupted in the days after the court date has been set, but before it has actually happened. It has happened maybe once a year, and it has almost always been the birth mother. This bit of news doesn't make me rest any easier.

Onto something more positive . . . we've had some really nice weather today. Even though it's windy, the sun is shining and feels warm on the face! I'm really not buying into this whole "global-warming" thing, though. Two days ago it was -1 degree Celsius when we got up. That's pretty cold for the beginning of September! They've promised some nicer weather for the rest of the week. Saturday should get up to 15 degrees. But, I'll be on the road to IKEA to buy furniture for the room.

The Holms

Denmark Road Trip

The outskirts of St. Pete

St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburg, Russian pronunciation: is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city's other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its foundation, Saint Petersburg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Mannerheim and Saint Petersburg commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The reverse of the coin features a view of Saint Petersburg, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and its three turrets. In the coin the words "St. Petersburg 1703-2003" can be seen.