Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wee, wee, wee, wee, all the way home! Ha...I love it.
Of course there is a commercial that is starting to rake on my nerves and that would be the contact lens commercial...you know the one..."Look! Look with your special eyes." "My Brand!!" It makes me want to find a high gage shot gun and shoot the television. Seriously, take that off the air.
I forgot this morning that I was out of coffee, so I am pretending my hot tea is coffee.
It's not working. I want coffee. I have a serious "thing" for coffee.
I had fried okra yesterday. I don't have a "thing" for fried okra. In fact, fried food isn't so appealing any more to me. I mean, I get the occasional craving, but then I regret it because I feel so gross afterward. I will never return to the monstrosity I once was. I am so much happier now than I ever was in years past.
I am making Pasta Putanesca this evening for my love and friends. It's always a great time when we get together with our little group. Each of the ladies makes a dish and the guys...well, they are guys.
I love that Trisha Yearwood song, "How Do I Live". I have wonderful memories of Boo Boo Girl (aka Sarahboo) at the age of 5, standing on the coffee table in the living room belting this song out and hitting every note perfectly. She has such an amazing voice.
This is my favorite time of year, weather speaking. I am tracking all those goodies coming off the coast of Africa. My personal opinion on Hurricane Danielle? If I were in the Upper NE United States, I would be watching and preparing if I were you. Right behind her is, "My Name is Earl"...and anyone from Southern Georgia to Virginia should be aware this storm.
I have a heart filled with respect for Michael Douglas and the way he is dealing with the incarceration of his son, Cameron. I pray for this family and for all those dealing with similar circumstances. Addiction is a disease that affects everyone.
This is Home Girl and I wanna go Wee, Wee, Wee, Wee, all the way home.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
In Part 2 of His Russian Heritage; An Adoption Story, Russia was kept away from seeing his baby brother, he was told he was to be adopted, he was hurt, confused, and alone. He was a nine year old little boy. He just wanted to die...at least that way he could be with the mother he had tragically lost.
The adoption system in Russia, at the time of his placement, was a complete shamble. By American standards, it was appalling. There was no therapy provided for these children...no counselors that could help these children process what they were going through. There were no bright engaging colors, no exciting toys, and very little in the way of happiness. Russian orphanages operate on very little funds and still to this day, much needs to be done to reform the system. I feel that anyone adopting a child from this country is an angel. The outcome for the un-adopted children of Russia is horrific, most of whom at the age of sixteen are dispersed onto the streets to fend for themselves.
When Russia's adoptive parents travelled to Tver Oblast to adopt his baby brother, they purchased the requested presents for all the staff they would meet. It is customary to bring items from the United States that are hard for the Russian people to acquire "to make the process" move in a satisfactory way. I liken this to bribery, but what were they to do? What would you do? You would bring what was asked. They were told that the baby boy they were to adopt had an older brother and they were asked if they would be interested in adopting him as well. They thought long and hard about this and decided that they would leave this country not only with one child, but two. They would not split the boys up. It was divine intervention that the boys remained together.
At first, Russia had refused any thought of being adopted. He wanted nothing to do with the idea. He was then told that these people who spoke not a word of Russian would also be adopting his baby brother. Russia thought long and hard about this decision and decided if he was to be reunited with his brother, then he too would be adopted. He met these strangers and only tolerated the process. He was given presents by the strangers. He could not understand what they were saying, but the thought of having a new toy and possibly seeing his brother again were enough for him. Per adoption requirements, several visits had to be made by the strangers before they could leave with him. He went back to his ward and the toy he had received was taken way by the staff to be sold on the black market. It seems as if this is a normal practice. (To me it says, "Let me reinforce loss and heartache for you some more".)
Soon, the adoption process was concluded and "Gotcha Day" had arrived. Russia was loaded into a car with a Russian speaking interpreter and for the first time in many months he was reunited with his baby. The reunited boys, the driver, and the interpreter were to meet up with the new parents. There was excitement and fear for all. Russia and the baby now had new parents. The new family spent a few days in Tver Oblast before permission was granted to move towards Moscow before returning to the United States. There was so much to do and so much to take in.
Russia has very vivid memories of this time and shared them with me with mixed emotions. He was terrified and confused. He wanted no one to touch his baby. He did not hate this new person he was to call "Mama", but he did not want her to cuddle or love on his baby. He was not open to bonding and of course there was a major language barrier to overcome. The new family did the best they could to understand and work through the mountains of emotions coursing through their veins. The parents wanted Russia to return to his childhood and not feel that he was responsible for the baby, but Russia wanted nothing to do with that thought. There was no way that the new parents could be prepared to understand what this little boy had been through or even how to help him, but to love him through it. They needed to find a common ground, something they could use to connect with Russia.
Upon arriving in the United States, by way of Washington, D.C., they discovered they had found something that caused severe happiness for Russia. They found something that would finally put a smile on the face of the most adorable blond haired, blue eyed child. A child that at the age of nine weighed a mere 32 pounds (which is the average weight of three year old in the United States). The new parents uncovered Russia's love for American food. Fast food it seems, is a universal language and bridged the communication gap. To this day, good food can calm him and believe me when I say, Russia can eat some food.
A fire storm of sensory deprivation was unleashed and now Russia was more preoccupied in learning about all things American. The new family traveled from Washington to Norfolk, VA. The first place they went to upon arrival in Virginia, was a place that I have a deeply bonded connection to. They went to Doumar's, a locally historic barbecue and hamburger "drive in" and upon eating his meal, Russia's first sentence in English, was..."Good, f~ing food."
Really, it was and the laughs that this brings back to everyone showcases what the future held for this tow headed little boy. A boy so full of life and heartache. A boy characterized by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder...a hurt and confused little boy from Russia who now had to acclimate himself into a whole new world...one which he had no understanding of. He needed to blend his past with his future.
There would be numerous ups and equally as many downs. It would be a tumultuous roller coast ride, but unbeknownst to all, the ride would prove the fortitude in this little man. They would showcase Russia's spirit and the deep love of his new parents.
The new family was to embark on their life together...a family that never gives up and is always there for one another through anything. This idea would be tested over and over again in the years to come.
In the next segment we will delve deeper into the transition a non-English speaking child makes when coming to America. How a new life affects the child and the lives of the parents. How a child learns a new language and all the discoveries he makes. Can you imagine what happens when a child goes from having nothing to having everything?
This is Home Girl and I love good f~ing food, too.
Russia wants to thank you all for reading his story. The above photo is of him and his baby. Boy, do we love and miss that little man.
Monday, August 23, 2010
It has to do with chocolate. Can you blame me in the least?
This is Home Girl and God works in glorious ways!!!
(Photo from Google Images and is not my own, but expect some real soon.)
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
It was the beginning of Winter when he took to the streets with his brother. There was no way he could have known this was a bad mistake. Russia used his instincts for survival. His fortitude was great, but the elements were far more than the small boys could bare. A baby taking care of a baby. It breaks my heart to think about it. There is some uncertainty about how long the boys were living on the streets and how they ended up at the hospital, but what is utterly clear is that both the boys arrived at the local hospital close to death. They were suffering from hypothermia, dysentery, malnutrition, and exhaustion.
The boys were separated to different wards. Russia was too sick to visit "his baby" and as you can imagine this upset him greatly. He became uncontrollable and violent. He would break free from the different attempts to secure him away from the only family he had remaining. Instead of fighting with him, if someone had realized he might calm down if he could visit with his only living sibling, things might have gone better, but they did not. There were no child social workers or advocates at this time...the cold war in Russia had left cold hearts and a cold society. There was little love, caring, and compassion. There was no communication, especially to a child. Did they not realize that Russia had lost his childhood when his mother was murdered? He had grown into a miniature adult only equipped for survival with the heart of a fighter. No one seemed to care. There was no holding of scared hands. There was no wiping away of tears. There was no explaining of future plans for Russia and his baby brother.
After the boys healed physically, they were released from the hospital, but not to be together. Russia was sent to a "boarding school" which is a long term care facility for older children without parental care and his baby brother was sent to a Baby House in Vyshny Volochek. Their contact was cut off. No visitation was allowed. Russia had no information of what was to happen. He could not see his brother. This threw him into the depths of depression and despair. He refused to have anything to do with anything. If he could not be with his brother, than he wanted to die. He was uncontrollable and very hard to handle. Russia reports that the only thing left for the caretakers at the boarding school to do was to physically restrain him....meaning, he was tied up. after numerous attempts to escape, he was eventually locked up as well.
Sometime later, he was told that he was to be adopted. He did not understand. He was not told that he would be adopted with his brother. He refused. He wanted to die, he told the workers. He spat at them. He kicked them. He hit them. He was angry and wanted nothing to do with anyone. All he wanted was his little brother.
Meanwhile, in the United States, there was a childless couple that wanted to be parents in the worst way. They had the careers, they had the beautiful home, they had it all...except for the sounds of laughter and little feet running through the hallways of their lives. Adopting a baby in Russia would make their hearts sing. It would not only be good for the child, but it would end the longing and heartache for a family for them. This couple would do anything that they needed to do to be a family. Once they received the call of an available baby, they packed their bags and left for Russia to begin the process of bringing a baby home. They assumed there was one baby...the baby that Russia had saved...his little brother.
Were they to be split up? Could this couple take the baby, yet leave the brother remaining in Russia? Do you know what the survival rate is for children remaining in Russia? Do you know what happens to the un-adopted children of Russia? We will discuss this and more in the coming weeks. It is more than enough information to completely break my heart. It is awful. I am left appalled that the plight and condition of the typical Russian Orphan is not talked about more...That more can not be done to help these lost children. I am just so grateful that "they" got out. I am glad they were able to grow in the wonderful men they are today. Their mother would have been so proud. I like to think she is smiling down upon them....wrapping her angelic arms around them, kissing them in her embrace. Doing what a mother does. Sacrificing herself for her children. She gave them a better life by not being in theirs. Few people are capable of wrapping their brains around that concept. I for one, can.
The photos are of Vyshny Volochek today. They were found on Google Images. It was difficult to sit with Russia as we looked at these images, but he knows that releasing this story is cathartic and healing for his heart.
This is Home Girl and I am so blessed.
Friday, August 13, 2010
August also reminds me of band camp. I loved band camp. I hated band camp. Band camp gave me very valuable tools to implement into my life today.
Everywhere all over the country, high school marching bands are getting together to create the field shows that will be shown at football games and marching band competitions. It is a time for friendship renewal, strenuous work outs, fun, frivolity, and the making of many laughs and happy memories.
While my father was more preoccupied with the impending football season on the high school, college, and professional levels, my mother was deeply ensconced in helping design and sew for the upcoming marching season. She was the best "band mom" ever. She not only mothered me, but she mothered everyone. I did not mind sharing her.
She made the uniform I am wearing above. I loved those shorts. Loved them. I never knew it then, but they really made my butt look stellar. I miss that butt. I miss those legs. I miss those abs. However, I do not miss those boots. Can you imagine marching in them? For hours? They hurt so much and I recall the countless blisters I ensued. The aching toe joints. There was no shock absorption...no cushy little pads...It was like walking miles in ballet toe shoes. Utterly painful, but it was worth it.
I spent my first year marching on the instrument line as a piccolo player. It was cool. I like the solo during the 1812 Overture, but then I got bored and I wanted to try something different...so, in typical Marlene fashion, I got a wild hair and tried out for the rifle squad. It did not matter to me that I was suppose to be in the flag guard before I tried out for the rifle squad. I did both auditions and successfully made my way onto the squad. There were some ruffled feathers from people who felt it was unfair that I had not "paid my dues", but I argued that I had already marched for a year and that argument was validated. So, I became a flautist in symphonic band, but during marching season I threw a rifle. Hey, it was dangerous stuff. I suffered for this switch many times over.
One of the skills that a rifle squad member had to have was throwing a triple. The rifle weighed 15 pounds, although it felt like more than 50. I can not begin to tell you how many bruises and bumps I got from trying to throw perfectly laid triples. Our marching band performed DCI (Drum Corp International) style marching and everything was based upon perfection...military perfection...nothing could be sloppy. Meaning: you were not suppose to look up to see where your rifle was...you were suppose to look straight ahead and wait for the rifle to come back to your hands. Yeah, well sometimes that did not work out too well for me. One time, during band camp...the rifle caught my face. It wasn't pretty.
But darn if I didn't look cute in those shorts trying to do it.
This is Home Girl and I'm gonna go geek on some marching band music.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
(I am not really comfortable telling someones story, so please bare with me as I muddle my way through this somehow.)
Russia has asked me to share his story. His adoption story. Russia, as you might know is my fiance'. He makes my world such a wonderful place to be and our bond is stronger because of the experiences we have shared together. We are family...there is no doubt about that.
First off, take a look at this photo. ( I know!!! I love his lips...just love them.)