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Sunday, November 29, 2009

We have so much to be thankful for...

Last night, we had a rare pleasure. We hosted a friend from Kazakhstan at our dinner table along with the charming son of another adoptive family we met while we were in KZ last year. Arman, our trusted friend from KZ, was one of our translators and drivers as we made our daily trek to Ridder and we're thrilled that he's visiting here in the US now. We also shared our dinner table with our closest friends here in MA, eating Thanksgiving leftovers and treats from our local Russian store...pelmeni and turkey, kolbasa and cranberry orange relish, borscht and cheese and crackers. We had a delightful evening of stories and good food and kids wandering in and out of the kitchen as they felt hungry. As I recall last Thanksgiving and how afraid we were that this day would never come, I'm counting my blessings...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Last year at this time...

We were home from our first trip to KZ and expecting an early December court date from our judge in Ridder. Instead, on November 20, she demanded that we redo our entire dossier and gave us until December 9th to get it compiled, approved, and legalized through the Kazakh Embassy. I spent the days before and after Thanksgiving feverishly updating documents, having them notarized, apostilled and translated into Russian. Every day was a dash to the finish line on one deadline or another and it was mega stressful...but we pulled off the miracle and I can now look back and smile (not laugh...not yet anyway). The boys are here and last year's story has a happy ending...and we're on to new adventures.

Max learned to ride his bike today, something he was never able to fully master before. Craig taught him the basics a couple of years ago but he just didn't quite have the confidence to keep trying...until Madiyar decided to teach him. Kate and I were returning from a trip to the library when we saw the boys riding their bikes and grinning from ear to ear. Max was thrilled with himself but credited Madiyar for his success, saying, "He's the master, Mom!" Madiyar was delighted to have helped Max and liked hearing what a good role model he had been. It's a particular pleasure for us to see our boys becoming so close!

Our other big news is that we've put our house up for sale. We have a chance to buy a bigger house right next door to our best friends and only two blocks from where we live now. This change would mean more room for our larger family (6 bedrooms instead of our current 4 bedrooms) and no change in schools for anyone. We've made an offer on the house and have decided to take the plunge...now we just have to sell our place! Keep your fingers crossed for us in today's economy...we've priced our house to sell but you never know these days. Anyway, our hopes are high...we'll keep you posted.

Thanksgiving is going to be awesome this year...we're all exactly where we're supposed to be and we have so much to be thankful for!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

There's a new dog in town and her name is Nellie Bly

Yes, it's true...we have a new greyhound girl. After several days of listening to our Fletch whine and pace around looking for Rika and Joy, we decided to visit the Greyhound Rescue to look at other dogs who needed homes. We met several greyhounds who were all very sweet but in the end, we let Fletch make the choice. He ran and played in the yard with all the dogs; some intimidated him. (He is, after all, our big chicken dog!) Some didn't interest him at all. Nellie Bly seemed to have just the right amount of playfulness for our boy; he was quite smitten with her! We brought Nellie home over the weekend and she's been settling in well; she's a very funny dog with a lot of personality. She loves stuffed animals and steals them from the kids' beds, then piles them on her dog bed. (Hmmm...she has a hoarding problem, not uncommon in kids who have lived in an orphanage and never had toys of their own. Is this the perfect dog for us or what?) Fletch has stopped pacing and whining and is delighted to have a doggie pal to run with in the yard again. Watching these two beautiful dogs run for the sheer joy of it is balm for our sore hearts. Nothing can erase the pain of losing our old girls...but rescuing another dog is a testament to how much we loved Rika and Joy and how they touched our lives.

It was nice that our new sons were able to be a part of picking our new dog. Aniyar and Madiyar especially liked that Nellie will play with them, too. She loves to chase toys and runs around the yard with wild abandon. Her higher energy level is great for our high energy kids and they are sure to provide her with plenty of exercise. It's also interesting to hear them talk to the dog, reassuring her that she is safe and that we are a good family who will always love her and never hurt her. It's so good to know the boys have internalized that message and feel comfortable to share it with our newest family member. Another successful adoption in the Risley-Schoelles family!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

And now there's just one...

It's been 2 days since we lost Rika and we all miss her terribly...Craig and I shed buckets of tears as we drove her to the vet but we knew it was time. The kids could see it, too...they said their goodbyes sadly but bravely, knowing that our girl was suffering. Rika slipped away with dignity and grace (she was always a class act) and we returned home, shedding more tears. We're all so very sad...but Fletch, our remaining greyhound, seems to be the most distressed of all of us. At least we humans understand that our other two dogs are no longer in pain and we can draw comfort from that. Fletch doesn't have a clue about any of that; he just keeps wandering around from room to room, looking for the girls. He's a depressed pup...and we all know how he feels.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Our Rika

Sometimes life just really stinks...and today is one of those times. Only a few months ago, we had 3 wonderful greyhounds. It was pretty traumatic to lose one of our old girls, Joy, to bone cancer at the end of September. It seems doubly unfair that only a month later, we're going through the same thing all over again with our Rika. At 5:30 today, we'll take our 12 year old diva dog to the vet and put an end to her suffering. Deja Vu...and have I mentioned that it stinks?

The bone cancer that has ravaged Rika's body has taken its toll; she has lost weight in spite of our best efforts to feed her multiple meals a day. She has a huge amount of swelling in her right shoulder and down her right leg as well as a lot of pain. Her back legs have also weakened so much that she has trouble standing up without help. She can't negotiate stairs at all now and has to be carried in and out of the house and from floor to floor. She can still walk slowly around the house but even that is becoming increasingly difficult for her. She pants constantly from the effort of just moving a few steps or trying to lie down. A good night's sleep is difficult for all of us as Rika wakes up frequently, often crying pitifully. This sends us scrambling for the powerful pain medicine that gives her some relief...but what seems to comfort her most is being with us, her humans. She's sleeping in our bed at night and prefers to be close to one of us during the day. In fact, as I'm writing this, she is pressed up against me, her head resting on my foot. She's restless, twitching in her sleep...maybe she's dreaming of running in the yard or flying up the stairs at breakneck speed...or taking long walks with us. She can't do any of those things now and I know it's time to let her go...and yet I don't want to.

What I want to do is put my diva dog in the car and run away...I want to hide her from the bad guy cancer cells that are stealing her from us. I want to find a patch of sunshine for her to bask in, hoping the warmth would restore her. I want to have a wand or potion to cure her; just like my Tanya, I wish I had magic powers. I want to go look for robot legs just like my Max suggested. I want to get mad and argue that it's not time, that we should wait a while longer...but I have to be a grown up. Sometimes being a grown up stinks, too.