Monday, December 29, 2008

A Busy-ish Week

It's hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone and 2009 is just around the corner. For really not accomplishing that much, it's been a busy week.

Once again, the weather in Michigan has not been "shy". It's been 35 degrees + the last couple days and the ground cover of snow is basically gone. Yes, what was once over a foot and a half, is now gone. All that is left are the piles from snowplows. Of course this drastic temperature drop was accompanied by MAJOR fog to the point that I couldn't see much past the end of my driveway all day on Saturday. And all the melting has caused MAJOR floods in the area. With the ground still frozen, there is no place for the water to go. My mother's "river porch" was an unfortunate victim of these floods. What was once a great hangout, covered patio right on the river is collapsed. Hopefully it can be saved or somewhat salvaged in the spring. Also, if you look in the distance of the picture, you'll see that the river is up to the top of the bridge over the street. Yipes!

So besides flooding and collapsed porches, Saturday was "Grace-aversary". My little Gracie has been with us for one year. Two days after Christmas last year I went to the "bad shelter" in the county (hint: it's NOT a no-kill shelter) and brought her home. She was spoiled this year with tuna and new kitty toys.

Finally, today is my Gramma's 85th Birthday! Happy Birthday Gram! We're headed out to dinner to help her celebrate tonight at our local hot spot (ha!).

Nothing from Russia yet... still waiting on pins and needles, but it may be a long wait with their "holiday" shut down happening this week through Jan 12th.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

I can't believe the holidays are upon us. Merry Christmas to you all. It's been a decent week... we've made not only our plan at work, but we made our stretch target - which is wonderful news. The payouts are very worth it ;) And to top it off, I got a small update from Lorien @ my agency -- the MAGIC FORM HAS ARRIVED!! Santa apparently delivered it from Moscow within the last couple days (or would that be the Russian version, Father Frost?) and it will be off to court this week. Could there be a light at the end of this tunnel??

Finally, I want to pass along a blog post from Karyn that truly touched my heart this morning. In my emotional state (holidays, missing my beloved Gramma and holding out for word about my Little T) it made me cry this morning, but it's a beautiful message. Please find a second to read it, (My final Christmas wish is that someone will teach me how to add a link with just a word....

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Weather Outside is Frightful

It's not even officially winter yet, and we've had our 4th major snowfall of the year! School was called off today around most of the area for what should have been the kids last day of school before the holidays. According to my neighbor, it started snowing around 5:30am. It didn't stop until about 5:30pm and the result was over a foot of snow!

I know these aren't the most earth-shatteringly wonderful pictures, but I was limited to my angles in the snow...

Small update, it's over a foot for sure! While these pictures were updating, my cousin Gary and his family stopped by in his Ford F-250 with giant snowplow on the front. Thank you Ginthers! My usual crew hadn't been through yet, I am sure they are REALLY busy today, and this is the kind of snow that can break snowplows. I took the opportunity to shovel the walk above, and most of the snow was over my knees. It's gorgeous, though, and we have A LOT of it. Looks like it will be a WHITE CHRISTMAS for sure!! (More flakes are due Sunday and possibly Christmas Eve as well!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This Crazy Week

It's been a crazy busy week so far, and it's only Wednesday!

1) Shower pictures. As promised, Suzy and Jenny delivered some great shower pictures. Here's a quick peek at the cake and my beautiful group of friends:
Another cool cake - and if you can see the little bears behind it, they all held hearts that said USA. Suzy saved me one for Little T -- so she'll get her own USA bear!

I know I have bragged about my family and friends before, but I really do have a great group of "ladies". Of the 8 ladies there this weekend, I have known everyone but Miss Sarah for over 18 years. We still get together at least once a year and it's really like no time has passed at all. Thanks ladies, for a great weekend and your great friendship.

2) The weather "round here has been NUTS! Sunday it was warm and kept getting warmer. Sunday night and early Monday morning we lost almost ALL of our snow. Over the day on Monday, the temperature dropped drastically - basically 35-40 degrees. My mom and I both live on the Black River in Croswell - about 2 blocks apart. She's got a great view as the river is closer to her house than mine. She called my house around 9pm on Monday night saying that there were "crazy" things happening on the river. I went down there to see giant, huge pieces of ice whizzing down the water, almost like it was spring. With the return of the COLD again Monday night and Tuesday, all the chunks froze up, making a really crazy looking river. I am thinking that the snow machines on the river this winter will have a rough ride.

3) High noon today: Today at noon ET is our last order date at work in order to guarantee delivery before the end of the year, so we've had a huge push to "make our sales number" the last couple weeks. It's been exhausting - so I am counting down to the big deadline. The good news is, I made my number! Now, I just need each of you (especially those of you in Michigan!!) to go to your local store and buy some Nesquik (the ready to drink kind) or some Coffee mate (liquid kind)!!

One week until Christmas!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Small Update - Neither Good, Nor Bad

I heard from my agency today. Apparently our agency contacts in Vladivostok are waiting on a final document for Little T, the one that releases her from the national database. This paper has to come all the way from Moscow via Russian snail mail and reach Vladivostok. I am not sure what's taking so long since I've been back since 10/25, but alas it is. They thought they'd receive the paperwork last week but they did not, so hopefully any day now. From there, her dossier and my dossier go to court together.

So that's the big kicker. My paperwork hasn't even gone to court yet. I thought it would have been there two weeks ago. Argh!!!

I realize this news is 100 times better than bad news, but the waiting... well, you can all imagine. It's KILLER. Happy Monday all.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

You're Too Much Kar!!

What a wonderful weekend! I have a wonderful group of friends from HIGH SCHOOL that still keeps in touch. Yes! I am that young! Hahahaha - actually we had our 20 Year Class Reunion this past summer, but it's that great of a group. Each year we typically try to get together twice, sometimes we only make it together once, but usually one of those gatherings involves the holidays and a shopping trip. This year's gathering was a shower for Little T and then an afternoon of shopping at a great mall. Pictures to follow when I get a chance to hit up my wonderful (SCARY!!) friend Suzy or Jenny to send me some pictures, because like the brainiac I am, I left my house without a camera. (Quick explanation: Suzy is the LEAST scariest person I know, but one of our good friends, Krista, couldn't make it this weekend as she's been really sick and called me to tell me she couldn't make it because I was "less scary than Suzy" - which I said was the funniest thing I had EVER heard!)

So I returned to a full in box and and handful of blog posts to read. I was excited to see that Ilya's mommy, Kar ( had an update, as he's such a cutie, I love hearing what he's up to. Imagine my surprise when I see she's passed along a Kreative Blogger Award to me!! Thanks Kar! That's a compliment coming from you!! :) So here's the rules...

List six things that make you happy. Pass the award along to six more bloggers. Do not give the typical answers and go for the less obvious, as you all know that family, friends, God, etc would be on the list.

1) A fuzzy nose and a furry face. I think a love of pets is genetic in my family. My Gramma Repp started it, she was always trying to feed a stray and find it a home. She's STILL doing it today! On my dad's side, I think almost every one of his siblings (7 kids total!) have pets. One Aunt fosters kitties (thankfully she does this in California, or I'd end up adopting them all!) and a cousin is a VET! At the end of the day, there is nothing better than a kitty cuddled up on my lap while I catch up with a TV show, etc. They always make me smile.

2) The "Big 3 C's" of sweets: My weakness? Candy, Cakes, Cookies. UGH. Is there anything better in the sweet department? Sugar cookies with thick frosting could make me weak in the knees.

3) Hockey Games: I sit here in my "Red Wings" office. The walls are red, Red Wings materials hang on the walls, and player bobble heads are on the top shelf of my desk. Hard to top a good hockey game! The excitement, the cool air and... yes, the fights! I live close to Canada -- you have to let me have this one.

4) Christmas: I know this is typical this time of year... but I truly LOVE this season. It's not the commercial part, or the presents really (although I LOVE the challenge of finding the perfect present for someone I care about), but it's more the FEELING in the air. That neighborly spirit when people are just different, happy. The attitude that listening to music gives you. The smile just creeps on my face and I don't even know it.

5) Traditions. I have mentioned before that I am a creature of habit. I LOVE my traditions. And I've been known to pout when I can't fulfill them! Change can be fun and exciting sometimes, but I love traditions.

And finally...6) Cheese fondue. Yummmmm - such a wonderful 70's food. Melty cheese, how can you go wrong?

Now it's my turn to nominate some award winners...

1) Charlotte & Sue: Their blog is on private for a little bit during a job search... so you'll just have to trust me, they are HYSTERICAL.

2) Angie:

3) Stephen & Sara:

4) Rick & Julie:

5) Sarah:

6) And last but not least Barb:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lost: One Giant Beast Kitty (temporarily!)

This past Sunday when I woke up, there was something missing in my bed. Typically, I wake up to a giant 25 lb cat at my head to the left (Roo), and a sweet, VERY hungry calico (Gracie)crawling on me the minute she detects me stirring. Murphy, the king of the house, sleeps in the living room as our guard. This is our normal routine. But on this day, there was no giant 25lb beast in the bed.

This would probably not freak anyone normal out. However, I, am NOT normal! My kitties (and myself) are creatures of routine. Variances from said routine are not typical. I generally can tell you where Roo is 24 hours a day, because he doesn't usually stray to far from me. He's my total lover boy.

So I figured I'd get up and he'd join Gracie and I in the kitchen for breakfast. Hmmm no Roo. He wasn't in the living room with Murphy, and there seemed to be no sign of him. I started to get a little nervous. I know for me to be nervous seems a little strange to 90% of the world. I know. But you see, a similar event occurred years ago with my sweet (late) Nougat one morning. I couldn't locate him and eventually found him about 20 minutes of searching, only after detecting his pitiful cry from underneath my futon in the office. He had torn his ACL sometime over the night and basically couldn't walk.

I started on the search to locate the beast, much to Gracie's dismay (there was no food being served during this time because of said search!). Gracie and I searched high and low, behind couches, in the basement, under stairs, under the aforementioned futon, under my bed... etc. After a second search of the basement, I headed back to the stairs REALLY nervous this time. There he was sitting, waiting for me at the top of the stairs looking like "What's all this fuss about?". Needless to say, I was relieved, but intrigued about his obvious new hiding spot. He disappeared later that day as well to this new location.

Finally on Monday morning, I set out to trail him on the search for this new secret spot. I mentioned in an earlier post that in an effort to be organized this past weekend, I packed up all the gifts for trip #2 to Russia into a new BIGGER suitcase. The old suitcase I pushed under Little T's crib to get out of the way. Apparently there is just enough room for a 25 lb cat to go under the crib and up into the not closed suitcase. A perfect hiding spot - especially when you add the heating vent that is nearby!! I am surprised Gracie hasn't joined him yet. Here's "baby" Roo as he's usually called in his new warm spot...

Monday, December 8, 2008

There's a Stocking Missing on the Mantle

I've been posting a lot lately... this is true. Honestly, I think it's to get my mind off the wait! It's getting to the time when everyone is starting to ask "Have you heard anything yet?" - which is a totally natural question. The trouble is -- LOL -- I haven't! And it's beginning to drive me batty.

Not that I expected to hear something just yet -- but I'd like to hear anything. I'd like to hear, "she's ok, and all is well." I'd like to hear, "your paperwork has been received and it's being processed" -or- "your paperwork has been received and we need one more additional document". Something. ANYTHING! There is a family visiting their new son on trip #1 in Artem this week, so I am completely living vicariously through their posts of what's happening!
Yes, I am still trying to keep busy. The house is fully decorated inside now, but I think with the snow, this is NOT my year for outside decorations. We've gotten more snow now - and there's a prediction that even more will come tonight! I didn't get Little T any "Christmas presents" this year, partially because I knew that we wouldn't be home before and and also because having never experienced "presents" really before, I thought it might overwhelm her as well. She also doesn't have a stocking hung on the mantle yet... part of me still goes back to being afraid to "jinx" something. Here's a shot of the rest of our stockings... me, Murphy, Roo and Gracie's.

I am still working on lots of little projects to fill the time. I bought a new giant suitcase for trip #2 and did a dry run of packing all the gifts and Little T clothes to see if it would fit. Good news is that it will, I am just unsure of the weight! I may have to take it up to my friends at the post office to see if their giant scale can measure it for me!!

I just miss her so much and can't wait to have her home. Ahhhhh, it MUST be Monday!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The State of My State

I typically shy away from "group" political (and other volatile) discussions. While I appreciate that everyone has their own opinion, I REALLY dislike it when people push their opinions on other people. So much so that I had to delete a girl I knew in college from my face book contact because her constant propaganda posts there made my blood boil! But I digress...

I live in Michigan. The Great Lakes State, the Mitten (hand geography lesson later), home of ... the Big 3. While I don't personally work for the auto industry and have no connection to them financially what so ever, I know A LOT of people in this state and others that are very closely related to it. And I have to admit, I am scared.

I'll just come out and say it - it is my personal belief that the Big 3 should get some form of support from the government. However, I have a lot feelings/thoughts/emotions behind that. I am not a black/white or right/wrong kind of girl. Never have been, probably never will be. There is a lot of grey area in my world.

So while I believe my the Big 3 should get some help, do I think they deserve it? Probably not. I'll admit that they had lagged behind some of the "foreign" auto makers in design and technology. I think they have made strides in this area lately, but is it too little, too late? Could be.

Did they poorly manage their companies for years to cause the state of domestic auto industry to be where it is now? Surely. For years I have watched on the news while jobs are eliminated and shipped elsewhere, local assembly plants are closed and boarded up, all the while the executives maintain their huge, massive salaries and bonuses. One of the problems we have overall in the US is that we don't want to pay a lot for the goods and services that we purchase, but we want to be paid a lot for the goods and services we produce. You can't have it both ways, I know. This is the dilemma of business.

Do I think another big problem of the industry is the power of the unions? Resounding YES. I don't blame people for wanting job security. But it's time to wake up and smell the 21st Century. There aren't many people I know that get free health care anymore or have guaranteed 90% of pay when laid off. It's just not realistic. I am not saying that all unions are bad. Not by a long shot. I think the UAW served it's purpose for a long time and likely did some good. However, when almost a third of a GM car's costs are in benefits for the employees, it's time to stand back and look at the full picture.

With all that I have said, (if you're still even reading and haven't tuned out!) you're probably wondering: "Amy? Sounds like you are AGAINST this bridge-loan to the Big 3". (HA got ya, I called it what it should be called, a bridge loan NOT a bail out, as they have said they'll pay it back) I guess it does rather sound like it. But the truth is, I am not. There are just too many people in this state and more importantly this country whose lively hood is somehow linked to the auto-industry. It's not just the factory worker and the dealerships. It's insurance companies, parts companies (man, there is a LOT of these people!), and other suppliers. The trickle down here is unbelievable.

I guess I'm also tired of our country giving out money in the form of aid to everyone BUT us. Let me clarify there. I am NOT saying that I don't feel that we shouldn't help in other areas of the world. That's what a global super-power does. However, when it comes at the expense of our own people, that's not right. Sometimes you need to clean up your own back-yard before you can inspect how clean others yards are.

Do I want to pay more taxes? NO! Do I think some major re-structuring is in order? YES! But I just think it's the right thing to do. How do you feel? Just curious -- and again, I'll totally respect your beliefs :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Kickin New Toy Room



Little T got a rocking new toy room today. Not that she knows it -- but I do! This former area of my basement (giant, huge, under my whole house basement) was woefully neglected since I am not a workbench kind of gal. It was dirty and run-down, although you really can't tell in the before picture just how bad it was. Imagine 5 layers of dust and guck starting from back somewhere in the 1970s.

I had a painter come in and paint the whole space. I am SO glad I had a professional do it! I could have handled it because I really don't mind painting - but Nick did a wonderful job. While paint was drying he tucked wires into the ceiling, cleaned out the cabinets, and also put down the carpet I bought. So much nicer than what I would have accomplished. I moved some of her toys down there, but as you can see, it's still rather empty. That's just fine! I have a feeling it will fill up in time with her around!! Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Checking In With Vladivostok Friends

I got an email this morning from Phyllis, a new mom of Victoriya, who I met in Seoul while waiting for our plane to Vladivostok. Phyllis's husband Ed was the recipient of the Sea Bass (head) dinner that you may remember fondly (or not so fondly) from trip #1.

Phyllis and Ed were on their second trip (aka court and pick up!!) while I was there for trip #1. She said everyone is safe and sound and Victoriya had a great first Thanksgiving with her new family and friends.

In other news, Victoriya's future potential boyfriend, Bradyn, is also home and doing well. Apparently he LOVED his first Thanksgiving too!

For any of you future Vladivostok families, I can't say enough about the experience at the Vlad Motor Inn. Having other families around you experience the same roller coaster ride was so much help. Each of the people I met there will each hold their own special place in my heart. Here is a "family" picture that Phyllis sent over this AM. She and Ed are missing from the picture - so it's not 100% complete... but it's all we have!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Looks a little different 'round here, eh? I know, I know, it's about time! Thanks to those of you who offered to help me "Pimp my blog" - and I meant to take someone up on it, but... I actually figured it out myself. Ok ok, I just tried a different background website -- thanks to Julie and Rick from my hometown, for the steal! (It was linked on theirs!) I am even MORE impressed with myself that my little counter is back. I temporarily lost it in the re-decorating around here, and was able to figure out how to get it back - without loosing the visitor count. I love seeing where everyone is coming from...

So not only did I decorate the house for Christmas, AND re-do the blog... the outdoors around my house got a little change as well. If you have seen a national weather cast recently, you've probably seen that the "Great Lakes" area was destined for some snow. Well -- we got it! Lots of the schools around here even had a snow day yesterday. It literally snowed from about 2pm on Sunday until late last night. Here's the result:

Hey Angie: show these pictures to the boys! I love the snow now, but come mid-February, I'll be MORE than ready for it to go away. More changes later!

Monday, December 1, 2008

It's Beginning to Look A lot Like Christmas...

I can't believe it's December, already! This weekend, instead of braving the crowds, I finished getting my house all decorated. Both trees are now decorated... and here is a quick look at them! First the living room - hard to tell but this is the "Santa" tree, and the second tree is the "catch all" tree out in the sunroom.

If you look under the Santa tree, you'll see that Miss Gracie has found a nice napping spot. All 3 have taken their turns under the tree. Murphy is very happy there currently this afternoon. He has requested that his picture be included as well. Also, he'd like it on the record that he did NOT disturb the ornament on the floor. It must have been Roo or Gracie.

Happy December, from Amy, Murphy, Roo & Gracie!!