‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Friday, March 23, 2012

'Making Do' With What Is

Thoughts of summer consume me:)
I keep getting private messages from blog friends asking for an update. I'm sorry I'm not posting more regularly, but it's uncomfortable to do so right now. Things have not changed in the region in which I'm adopting, and that means I'm in a holding pattern. For some reason, blogging immediately connects me to my thoughts of D and of Anya. So, right now while things are at a stand-still, I prefer to avoid posting here altogether. I hope those reading understand. But if you don't mind a mundane update on other things, I'll gladly indulge you.

I've moved my entire focus to two things as of late: #1 Nastia's health, well-being and happiness and #2, my work. On the Nastia end, I'm learning the patience of three-hour homework sessions. She has hit a wall in English and writing that is very frustrating and anxiety-provoking for her. She is in need of so much support in this area of learning that she feels 'stupid' and balks at the help she is offered.Her vocabulary is quite advanced, so people always seem surprised that she is so handicapped in the area of writing and reading.

We learned from last year's neuro testing that there is significant damage in the area of her brain that deals with these things. Her spelling has not improved in seven years. At all. She spells completely phonetically. At first everyone thought this was due to her ESL status. It's not. Her brain simply cannot properly process or retain the information. We've tried everything. This is extremely frustrating to her, and humiliating. For this reason, she avoids even texting friends (except Bridget) and posting on FB, even at the urging of her friends. I'm trying to find ways to help her accept this area of disability, but she has dug in her heels.

On a good note, she made the tennis team and is doing surprisingly well! She had to play matches with a decidedly better player yesterday at practice, and she tied her. That was a huge confidence boost. She had played her first two years home and was very good, but that was five years ago. The local coach back then raved about her natural ability, and urged me to get her a private coach and really pursue it, but her anxiety got in the way, and she wanted no part of it. Things have changed enough that she pursued joining the high school team all on her own. She practices on her own every day at the school next door, and seems genuinely happy when I pick her up from practices. In two weeks they begin playing matches against other schools. She is worried about travelling to new locations (anxiety) but I'm hoping this worry will ease as she feels more comfortable with the team. If she feels safe in that group, the travelling will be less anxiety-provoking for her.

As for me, things are finally looking up. I not only have my first job since October starting up next week, I have four other schools vying for programs this Spring. Although it will be difficult to fit them all in, I'm doing my best. I have alot of catching up to do financially, and I can't afford to say no to any jobs. I'm praying and hoping my RA (reactive arthritis) stays in check. A big transition like this can easily cause a flare-up; just one can knock me off my feet for days. I'm trying to pace myself and also get back to doing daily yoga to help fend off a potential flare-up. Eating raw vegan is the surest way to keep one from occurring, but I've always found it really hard to stay committed to that diet. I'm compromising with having cut out all processed foods entirely. Our kitchen looks like a farmer's market. We typically eat very healthy anyway, but breads, pasta and soda are my constant weaknesses. I'm doing my best to walk away from them forever.

So we are making do with 'what is' at present. We can't get to Russia with an empty bank account, so instead we send Anya cards and talk online with her as much as possible. I can't make this adoption happen, so instead I am focusing on the things I do have control over - my work and family.

I'm looking forward to the homecoming of a very dear friend/former student who has been in India for eons. He is one of those kindred spirits that makes me feel all is right in my world. He'll be working with me all summer, so I'm revelling in thoughts of summer Shakespeare right now. It can't come soon enough.

Anxiously awaiting the blissful days of summer with these beautiful souls.


  1. So glad to hear about the positives in your life. Hang in there, both of you!

  2. Keri,
    I have ideas that have worked regarding spelling. This worked on our son who had brain damage and the school said he would never learn to read or write. (he teaches public high school) And we also have 2 children alcohol exposed and one with brain injury due to abuse that I am using the same method. After 7 years, it is finally paying off for one, and the other is showing early signs of improvement. :)
    It is simple and I bet she would be willing to try it. :)

  3. Anonymous4:25 PM

    So glad that you have work coming in. I am hoping that this "summer like" weather we have had this week will continue to bring positive thoughts to you of summer and the work you love to do in the summer!

  4. Hi there,
    Just discovered your blog. Maybe you'd like to join the "blog hop" on my site. Enjoyed reading about your experiences, and would like to post a link to your blog on my site. Feel free to do that same if you think your followers would like it. Hang in there!

  5. Anonymous11:13 PM

    Welcome back! Random reader - huge fan. Good to know you are back on track and your focus seems so great. Our adopted Russian daughter, age nine now, also has same crazy word issues...loves to read, great spoken vocabulary, gets the language cues etc but can't spell her way out of a carboard box. We just joke about it, thank goodness for spell check and remind her weekly if not daily about the dictionary :) Of course having to know the first three letters of a word sometimes is more frustrating than finding the darn word in the dictionary is rewarding...if you don't mind my asking what types of testing can they do to determine this brain damage? MRI? Our youngest has major trauma issues, whole other issues, but that was first test they deferred to so was just curious...fwiw I love your blog!!

  6. Jules6:23 PM

    I'll be praying for you and Nastia! Though I'm so glad to hear that your work has picked up!!

    If Nastia has a diagnosis that is the reason for her problems with writing/spelling, would it be possible for her to get an accommodation? I went to grad school with a guy who was dysgraphic, and simply dictated his reports/exams/etc. He now works for an oil company (and still dictates all correspondence). Nastia sounds like a smart, resilient girl and I wish her the best of luck!!

  7. Carmen2:25 PM

    Good to hear an update. My son is a very difficult learner with reading. Oddly, one of the reading fluency techniques that helps the very most is for me to read a couple of sentences for him, and then he repeats it we go over it until he has it right and can do it independently. Ou wouldn't think it's make a difference but it has really helped him to turn a corner.

  8. Anonymous6:52 PM

    Congratulations on the job! Praying for continued health for you, for all :). Praying for the process in Russia, as well as your funds. HUGS!

  9. Lindsey11:26 AM

    Love your blog. Glad to hear that things are looking up. My daughters are adopted from the same area as your girls. I have a question for you regarding Russian and was wondering if you would mind speaking with me in a personal email. I couldn't find your email but if you are willing to chat for a second, please email me at linzdawn19@aol.com

  10. Anonymous11:11 PM

    glad you are well! it makes sense to me, to try to steer yourself from the blog, and things that just bring up distress. i think that choosing what thoughts you allow yourself to focus/dwell on is a really healthy decision, yay for you. and so glad that your awesome friend is coming! sounds fun!

  11. The school piece is so difficult here, too. Srgei is so mature and well-spoken that no one thinks he struggles with writing the way he does....and he'sno whiz in math t make up for it either, unfortunately.

  12. Anonymous1:39 PM

    My husband has a learning disability so severe that he reads at a 4th grade level. It caused him problems all through school, until College. There he too AV studies and graduated with high honours, doing what he was good at. Working with machines and people. He now works at a school with a specialized LD program, fixing their computers (something I, a writer, a wordsmith, could never do) and inspiring the kids. They see that the world may tell them that only certain skills are valuable, but this is not so. His spelling is still almost incomprehensible, but he works at a school, helping and leading, despite his 8th grade teacher telling him to skip high school and get a factory job. He is happy and not ashamed to text and email anyone because he knows that he may not be able to spell as well as the people he texts, but he can rebuild the machines that they do it on. I hope Nastia is as confident, someday, as he is. His mind is different than mine, but that makes him no less capable or talented.


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