Friday, November 28, 2008


Happy Black Friday everyone! I hope that you all had a marvelous Thanksgiving. I know I did! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, partially because of my families tradition. Traditions are a BIG thing for me. I am a sentimental fool - so I love my traditions. The older the better! And honestly, I am very disappointed when traditions are strayed from. When other people choose not to par-take in a given tradition for a year (or more) I personally don't understand it. Just my neuroses kicking in once again! I think to myself "how do they not see how important this is?" But again, I do know, somewhere in the deep depths of my brain that just because something is important to me doesn't mean it has the same meaning to someone else.

So in my big, crazy family, the Thanksgiving tradition is a LONG standing one. I hear my aunts talked the same tradition back when they were little ones. My Grandpa Clarkson (mom's dad) was one of SEVEN boys! No girls (poor Great-Gramma Clarkson!!). Five of my Great-Uncles are still with us, but ALL SEVEN families still gather every year for Thanksgiving. Now, I ask you, how can you top that? Our traditional gathering is about 70 people. On a big year, we can push 100.

You're probably wondering who has a house that can hold 70-100 people. Nyet! We actually have our Thanksgiving at an American Legion Hall. A few years back we got smart and started catering the turkey, mashed potatoes (real, of course), stuffing and gravy. Everything else is "potluck" style. So you can imagine, on average there are 5 different types of cranberry dishes, 5 different types of sweet potatoes, etc. This year, we had two FULL tables of desserts. Many varieties of pumpkin pies/breads/rolls and then lots of non-traditional desserts as well. Lemon Meringue is a family FAVORITE, yes, even on Thanksgiving. I seriously wonder if it's partially genetic. Do people of the same blood crave some of the same foods?

I literally can only remember about 2 years in my life when I didn't participate in this tradition. One year I went to Las Vegas - which was a BLAST, as Vegas always is, but I did miss my tradition. Every couple years there is a new batch of little ones running around causing havoc and generally having a great time with cousins, 2nd cousins and most likely at this stage 3rd cousins! I can't wait for Little T to be part of that crowd next year. She'll have blast.

So tell me about your Thanksgiving. How was it? Still in Turkey coma? Anything out of the ordinary that you do? Now back to decorating. Pictures to come later!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Showered With Love

This Saturday my family (and Rhonda, who is pretty much family as well), had a baby shower for me. Since I have never been married and have no other kids, this was a first for me. I have to say, while it was fun - it was weird being "on display". Thankfully, I have a very cool group of family and friends, so it was painless!

Some "shower highlights" include:
1) Rhonda's corsage: My Gramma Repp was unable to make it, a corsage had been ordered for me, my mom and my gramma. So my mother decided that Rhonda was the next closest thing to a gramma since she had met Tatiana. While I teased Rhonda that apparently my family was trying to tell her that she was OLD, it really meant that she's FAMILY. And she's stuck with us -- haha! Even though I am an "only child", Tatiana will have a line up of "aunties" to help her through life, including Aunt Rhonda, Aunt Jenni and Aunt Carrie - the new Big 3 of Michigan (sorry auto-workers), these are the Big 3 now! And that's just where the list STARTS with her Aunties!

2) The CAKE! My cousin Gary's wife Rena' is VERY talented. One of her big talents is in the kitchen, she's a delicious cook and can do wonders baking. She was tapped to make the cake - a stressful job for any shower! WOW. Rena' out-did herself. See for yourself:

Seriously - have you ever seen matroska dolls made out of CAKE? Yup - they are cake too. And to top it all off, half of the cake was banana cake -- one of my favorites!!!

3) My Girlies: Again being an only child, I have no nieces, but I do have "faux-nieces" (my cousins kids) and most of them were there this weekend. I had an un-wrapping crew - helpers to help me un-wrap all my presents. I was a little afraid the Princess blanket wouldn't make it out of the building without being stolen! And this isn't even all of "the crew"!!! (Don't miss Riley in the bottom right corner!)

Hopefully, a fun time was had by all. Since it's Thanksgiving week, it's only appropriate for me to say how thankful I am for all my family and friends. Enjoy the holiday!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

To Do Lists

I have to say this is been a rather productive weekend. Although to the untrained eye, it may not look like I have done much this weekend, I have actually accomplished quite a bit. I've decided I need little projects each weekend to help make the time go by. Even though I know that I probably won't be able to go back to get Little T until January, that doesn't make the waiting any easier! So each weekend, I'll bite off a little job around the house to make the time pass.

This weekend was all around cleaning/straightening weekend. Friends and neighbors have given me gently used toys for Little T - and I have purchased some toys at Mom 2 Mom sales. Which makes me realize that I really don't have a great area for her toys. I hope to turn one end of the basement into her play area. However that will take a paint job that is MORE than I wish to bite off, so I am debating calling the pro that did the outside of my house when I moved in. The other major task for this weekend breaks every holiday rule in my rule book. Yes, I did it. I put up the Christmas trees - MINUS ornaments.

For those of you who haven't experienced a Christmas with me (yet!), I am a decorating FOOL. I have a whole storage room in the basement full of boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations. I also have 2 full sized Christmas trees and 1 baby Christmas tree. The first full sized tree goes in my living room - and is a Santa tree. All ornaments on it are Santa - with the exception of a few red and silver balls. The other full sized tree is the catch all tree -- ornaments from when I was little, ornaments I have collected - anything NOT Santa!! The baby tree is a red, white and blue theme - all patriotic ornaments.

All this decorating can be quite exhausting. My rule has always been no decorating until the weekend of Thanksgiving. Last year, I think I put the trees up (no ornaments) the weekend before Thanksgiving, but next weekend is my first baby shower. So, see? I had to do it this weekend! Plus it falls into my category of things to do to make the time go by. My last justification reason is Gracie. My sweet little calico came to live with us last year on 12/27. She was very overwhelmed when she first got here, so while the trees were still up, I truly don't know what her reaction will be to them. She doesn't seem like a climber traditionally, but her little jaunt outside this summer didn't exactly prove that statement to be 100% true. Trees up, but no ornaments will give her some time to get used to this whole idea!!

Finally, I'll leave you in my tradition of late, another picture from Vladivostok. As I understand, this a memorial to Nikolai II - a former Russian Duma (president? I think). Either way, it's gorgeous!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Court Documents? CHECK!

As another week draws close, one more milestone can be checked off. Last week I sent a majority of my court documents off to my agency for arrival this Monday. While they were in process and getting ready to be sent to Vladivostok, my final document arrived - State Police Clearance is here! So today I rushed to get it apostilled and overnighted it to meet up with the rest of my paperwork. Everything should be together tomorrow and hopefully be sent on it's merry way to Russia.

In keeping with my theme of uploading different pictures from my trip - today's picture is of the little "convenience stores" that dot the side of the road. Imagine the cross between what we'd call a newspaper stand and a kiosk convenience store. They were all over the place - some specializing in breads, some in snacks and some containing meat. Yes meat. Very handy - but very different! I love how our cultures are so similar in some ways, and in others, so different!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday, Monday

Happy Monday, all. In a quest to "update" and jazz up my blog today, I accidentally deleted all the "blogs I follow" -- I tried to recreate it, but if yours is usually there and now it's not, please tell me! I'll go through withdrawls!

So as you've probably noticed, there is no new "jazz" to the blog either. I must be horribly html challenged. I swear I followed all the directions to get a nice pretty new pink background in honor of Little T -- but it just didn't work. Maybe some nice soul will take pity on me and help me! I need jazz... I am not a furniture re-arranger. You know -- there are people who love the constant change and re-arrange their furniture often. I wish I was. I do like the change -- but I just don't do it. Especially in these high tech days, when disrupting TV etc. cords could leave me without Grey's Anatomy - or worse yet, this week's new season of Top Chef! So instead of furniture re-arranging, I think I need to freshen up the blog...
In other world news, you may have read about the Russian submarine tragedy over the weekend. It particularly caught my attention as having traveled to Vladivostok, I knew that likely any Russian sub was bound to or from that port. Sure enough - the submarine was headed back to Vladivostok. Sad news. In their honor, I've chosen as my picture of the day from Vladivostok, part of the WWII Naval Memorial. It's a beautiful Memorial overlooking the Sea of Japan. Very moving as all War Memorials typically are. Coincidentally, this is very fitting as tomorrow is Veteran's Day here in the United States. A huge thanks to all our former and current troops.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Cabbage House

I am taking a small break while watching the "magic map" of who will be our next President. May the best candidate win. Seriously, I hope that is the result. Whoever is the choice, I hope that the next 4 years in the United States are glorious ones! After all, I'll have a daughter to share them with!

So I have decided to continue to share bits and pieces of my Vladivostok trip over the next couple weeks. Just little bits here and there. I know that I personally love seeing the sights of other people's trip, but all at once and my little pea-brain starts to tune out....

Here's another gem from the trip. Rhonda and I started calling it "The Cabbage House". Honestly, there were more than 1 of these cabbage houses. Once you get "out of the city" you see these cottages that are painted the most wonderfully fun colors. Sometimes the paint is fading, but that just adds to the character. Many of the houses had large gardens out back and they would sell the fruits (or veggies) of their labor on the road. Cabbage was VERY popular. Unfortunately, Rhonda did NOT get to sample the cabbage soup (shi) that she had her heart set on -- perhaps next trip!!