Sunday, April 26, 2009

Swimming With the Fishes

Or atleast acting like one! This girl LOVES the bathtub! As you can see - she doesn't mind getting wet and going crazy in the tub. The more splashing the better.

It's hard to believe we've been home for a month already. In some ways it feels like we just got home and in others, it feels like we've been here for months!! We're settling into a good routine and she's a huge hit in the neighborhood.

New favorite words/sayings include: "chicken", "sheep", "shoes" and "howahhhya?". Inquiring minds MUST know!
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Friday, April 24, 2009

6 Months Ago Today...

Tatiana's 2nd Birthday in Russia...
Today my little bug turns 2 1/2! Just six months ago today I was signing my intent to adopt little Tatiana Elizabeth Repp. We celebrated her 2nd birthday with her (above) in style at the Artem baby home with new clothes, stuffed bunnies, baby yogurt, juice, cookies and a balloon.

What a difference 6 months makes! She's actually wearing this same outfit as above - but instead in PINK today! I didn't even realize when I bought this new one that it was the same pattern as the one above.
T had her follow up appointment at the doctor today from all the tests they performed a couple weeks ago. Dr Dev said "congratulations, you have a very healthy little girl on your hands. They don't all come home like this"! Don't I know it. In fact just this week one of the girls that came home around the same time T did tested positive for Tuberculosis again. It's inactive - but the thought crossed my mind of the exposure to T in the hotel. The doc says no worries... whew! And Dr Dev even had a present for little T on her 1/2 birthday -- a chicken pox vaccination. Man, do we know how to live it up or what!
Happy 1/2 Birthday, Little T! When the big 3 rolls around we'll really celebrate in style again!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lost in Translation

I got the pictures back from the disposable cameras I left in Vladivostok back in October. I left two cameras with her caretakers - one was "full" the other had "some" pictures taken - or so they said. The cameras had a built in flash and it appears that the Russian caretakers didn't understand that because most of the pictures came back very dark.

I am thrilled that even though they are a little dark, I have a peek into Tatiana's early days and the "friends" she spent time with. Someday they will be great to share with her to show her where she lived for two years. It's a great look at how the kids spent their days and in a couple of the pictures there are even "Christmas" type decorations up so I suspect it was around the holidays.

These pictures also show her hack job of a hair cut in the early days! When I left her in October she had longer hair with the best curls. She must have gotten a chop shortly thereafter - look how short it is in this picture. And to think I was complaining about how short it is now!

I have also been thinking about some of the things that the Baby Home director and the Social Worker were trying to say back in Artem over a month ago. I dismissed some of what they said back then as "over-reaction" and "institutional response". I realize now what they were likely trying to explain and believe some of it was lost in translation.

1) I shared with you that Natalya, the Baby Home director kept preaching about "not spoiling" her. I took it at the time to mean what we'd literally think about spoiling children here in the US, giving into their every whim and giving food and toys in excess. I believe now that her message was more about providing limits to a child who isn't used to "freedom". Tatiana is a GREAT girl - but she's also two! She's got her "terrible two" moments and sometimes when you give her an inch, she takes 5 miles! She's used to boundaries and she needs to continue to have them - all children do. It's hard when you want to give them all they've missed - but boundaries are good!

2) One of the things that I didn't share with everyone back in March was that the Social Worker said that Tatiana had ADD. Internally when she said this I honestly laughed - but I kept a straight face to Svetlana. I shared with this a couple of my friends who are teachers and their response was the same as mine. I've told you all that Tatiana is a SPITFIRE. She's got a ton of energy and wants to see and do everything NOW. Likely compared to many of the more sullen children at the Baby Home - she was a handful! Imagine trying to harness all that energy while living in basically two rooms. NO THANKS!

I am grateful for the insights they provided and I don't doubt their best intentions. I wish I wouldn't have discounted the information up front and listened to the meaning vs. the words! But it's good information now.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Warm Weather Weekend

We had a great weekend! The weather was great here in Michigan (until today!) so we spent a lot of time outside. Michigan weather can be iffy in April - typically ranging anywhere from 30 degrees to 70 degrees and thankfully this weekend we were on the high side!

My cousin Mark's oldest daughter, Brianna, turned 14 this past week, so we had an outside party to celebrate the event. T had a GREAT time playing with her cousins! She went on the swings with CoCo, raked Aunt Jenni's yard, and ran around with Paige - who is her newest BFF. Paige may only be 8 - but she's got the heart of a mommy! She's very patient with T and loves to show her new things. Pictures to follow of the fun...
Playing "Let's Pretend" with Elmo

Paige, Tatiana & Ashley - 3 cousins
Raking Aunt Jenni's yard

Swinging with CoCo

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Potential Opportunity

When I find a good thing, I am ALL about sharing it. Anyone who has talked to me knows I *LOVE* my agency. When I was at the choosing stage, I did my research. I wasn't able to find a SINGLE person/family who didn't recommend Lorien @ Lighthouse. My choice made my journey MUCH smoother.

Lorien alerted me to an little 3 year old girl that is available for an immediate referral for a "paper ready family" (approved homestudy + i171H). She's likely got some alcohol exposure.

If you are interested, please send me a note @ or you can contact Lorien Wenger @ directly.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Quick Update - EKG

I swear this one will be quick! Probably my shortest post to date... but I digress already.

Today we went back to the hospital for Tatiana's EKG. Last week at our doctors appointment the only concern that Dr Dev had was that her heart murmur was "quite loud", so he requested an EKG - just to see what's going on.

The Tech at the hospital was great. Her name was Beata and she was originally from Poland - and believe it or not, she knew some basic Russian! She was totally smitten with T. I mean, who wouldn't be?? Even though the appointment was during prime nap time, T did really well.

Both the Tech and the Dr. who reviews the results agreed that THERE WAS NOTHING MAJOR GOING ON!! Wooo hooo! No concerns. We'll go back to Dr. Dev for a follow up next week, but what a relief!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More Easter Fun

My "other" baby girl... Gracie, posing for her Easter picture Playing with the "Busy Ball Popper" with baby cousin, Logan T LOVES the "Busy Ball Popper" - thanks Anderson Family!
My first Easter basket!
T's first Easter weekend was overall a big success. She wasn't feeling 100% on Sunday - she woke up with a really runny nose and was sneezing quite a bit. Her first spring "cold". We laid low on Sunday, opting out of church: between the crowd and not feeling well, it wasn't a good idea.
She found her basket waiting for her outside her bedroom door. The Easter bunny had left her a wind up bunny (big hit), some little toys including a Disney Princess key chain complete with car noises and Elmo hair doddle's. The bunny must have known that she hasn't had much candy yet, because he left her mostly Goldfish crackers, Animal crackers and fruit snacks but she did get a hollow chocolate bunny.
We finally broke out the "Busy Ball Popper" that Sarah Anderson had given T as a shower present. A BIG hit. Although mom spends more time chasing the balls than T does! Hopefully when the batteries start to get use more the balls won't pop so high! She LOVES it and it was a big hit when baby cousin Logan stopped by for a visit!
She's been a little cranky when dropped over for daycare the last couple days. It's a good sign that she's attaching to mom because she doesn't want me to leave. The good news is that the tears are short lived and she's off to play within about 5 minutes. We just need to work on her cousins giving her a little space! According to Bernie at daycare they're in her face and want to love her all the time. So sweet!! But a girl needs her space to roam!
Lots of T's fans have been asking about her English vocabulary - which is growing by LEAPS and bounds. She now knows the following (and what they mean/are): bye bye, nite nite, cup, bowl, cat, dog, duck, shoes, mama, nose, eyes, ears , bear, and baby. Not bad for basically two weeks! She LOVES the kitties and believe it or not, they are pretty ok with her too. Roo (or bubba as she calls him, since I'll call him Bubba Rooey sometimes) let's her approach him, pet him and yes, kiss him as you've seen. It's all good unless she's running toward him. Gracie is a little more tentative but she's fascinated by her. Gracie waits outside her door if we are in there and last night even got locked in a nite nite time because I didn't know she had followed me in! I discovered her about an hour and a half later. T took a while to go to bed last night - and now I probably know why -- she was watching Gracie!!
Enjoy your week!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Early Easter

To accommodate every one's schedules, we had an early Easter soiree this afternoon. In a family as big as mine, it's still next to impossible to get everyone together. "Aunt Jenni" spoiled Miss T and brought her a "shopping cart" as a belated "welcome home" present. It came out late in the evening when the camera was put away - so pictures will follow later.

The Ginther's stopped by so that we could snap some pictures of the Croswell Clarkson crew -- we're missing Miss Mary Bell, Logan and Mark's girls... but it's a growing bunch of girlies! Poor Zak - although he may love it! While they were here we even had a quick Easter Egg Hunt!

Tatiana had a BLAST playing with her cousins. She may have had TOO much fun -- she was WIPED out and getting crabby near bed time. She kept saying "nite nite nite" so I knew she was tired. However, when the time came, she realized she wanted to keep having fun, so the tears started flowing as she fought to stay awake. Here's some pictures of the big day...

Rena dropped off this COOL cake!! She should be a pro! Aunt Janet also made a great bunny cake - but I forgot to snap a picture before we cut it!

Finding the eggs in the yard

T and Gramma

In my pretty Easter dress

PART of the Clarkson Kidlets... Missing 6!! (Courtney was hiding eggs for us!)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Dreaded Doctors Appt

Today was T's big doctor's appointment day. Her official height is 33 inches and weight is 20 lbs. Confirmation that she's just a little peanut! The doctor was very nice and we were in and out of there pretty quick because they don't do their own "tests" on site. So off to the hospital we went.

The great people at the hospital were also super nice. We didn't wait long (even without an appointment) and were really great with Tatiana. The blood draw wasn't nearly as bad as I suspected it would be. She wasn't thrilled, but more annoyed than screaming in pain. She even helped out and gave us a stool sample while we were there. Great timing T!

The only test remaining on the list so far is the an echocardigram for her heart murmur. And that's scheduled for next week. Other than the heart murmur, the doctor basically said that her Russian medical diagnosis was a bunch of "hog-wash". Good to know!

For Pam in FL: We love the bunny!!! (Not a great picture, but the bunny is a hit!)

For "Aunt" Angie: Also not a great pic, but this was our doctors outfit!

Giving Roo kisses - and yes! He likes it!

Loving the doll from Emma & Katie

Playing "strings" with Gracie

Monday, April 6, 2009

Snow, "Steps" & Spartans!

T says: "Go Spartans" (Sorry Lorien!!)
For Aunt Pam & Uncle Tim: reading your card!!

Ok seriously. It's April 6th and we got snow overnight last night. ENOUGH already! Yes, I know that Michigan is not immune to a "spring snow". I remember one year as a kid running around with my neighbors, in shorts, throwing water balloons at each other and the next day -- 1 foot of snow. This winter has been a LONG one. Snow on the ground since November -- yes ENOUGH. It was pretty though...
Tatiana is amazing me. She's such a funny girl. She's now giving me spontaneous hugs. It started while I was making dinner last night - she came up and hugged my leg. A HUGE step in a little adopted one's life. She freely gives kisses when asked as well. At my mom's house tonight she pointed to me in a picture and said "mama" and then walked to me and pointed to me and said "mama". WOW. Seriously big steps. She knows Gramma too -- and I suspect knows that she has Gramma wrapped around her finger!!

Big steps in language development too. She was watching her Baby Einstein video yesterday called "Baby Wordsworth - 1st Words Around the House" and was repeating A LOT of what they said. The big one was dog. I figured it was a nice step, but that she'd forget overnight. WRONG! This morning at breakfast the neighbors dogs were playing in the yard (read: pooping!) and she pointed and said "DOG?". Holy crud - this girl gets it!!
T was also proudly displaying her "Michigan State" t-shirt tonight. As I type this, things aren't going so well -- but plenty of time left. Even if they don't win -- you've gotta love those Spartys!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

1st Weekend at Home

Is it Sunday already? Sheesh where does the time go? Tatiana continues to amaze me with her ease of adapting into her "new life". She's pretty much a happy go lucky kid who is totally soaking in her new surroundings. I am still trying to make her world small whenever possible -- which she doesn't always like!

Friday night we joined the family for our traditional evening dinner out at the local restaurant. She did pretty well - she ate pretty well and really didn't fuss that much. She still gets a little nervous when people get in her face -- and I try to politely ask them to give her some space -- but sometimes youngsters don't understand that!

Saturday morning we had our first, umm "incident" we'll call it. T woke up kind of early and did her typical complain here and there and basically entertain herself in her crib for a bit. I am trying to keep her life on somewhat of a schedule - as most of you who have adopted kids from an orphanage can atest to -- they are hardwired to schedules! So I heard her playing a bit - which I figured meant that the bunnies and blanket would be on the floor when I went to get her. Well.... I was 1/2 right!

Bunnies and blanket WERE on the floor, along with pajamas AND poopy diaper. Apparently she didn't like sitting in a poopy diaper (who can blame her!), and decided she'd take it all off. Bonus was that the diaper landed "face" up on the floor, so I didn't have to clean up poop from her new rug. Un-bonus was you can imagine what the sheet (also torn 1/2 off), bumpers, MATTRESS, her body and the crib looked like. Yup. Thankfully I have been pulling the crib away from the wall a bit so I didn't have new wall "paint". After a bath, a major scrub down of the mattress and commencing of the laundry I could laugh. Welcome to motherhood!

She may have had an upset tummy yesterday - that or waking up in poop world set her off for the balance of the day because she was a little cranky here and there yesterday. She didn't nap well either. The weather got decent later in the day so we went for a walk to Gramma's house in the stroller which she LOVED. She's amazed at the world around her.

Today has been great. She woke up in a great mood - and has been laughing ever since. We went for a car ride to Meijer - NO tears at all, not even a single whine. She was great all through Meijer too. Hopefully this week will go smoothly as well!!

More pictures...
Hanging out at home

A visit with the cousins - Katie, Tatiana & Emma

Looking out the window
Elmo is my friend...
Scoping out Roo (cat) on the chair

Friday, April 3, 2009

Picture Parade

It's been a long week - thanks to my good friend, Jet Lag. I remember fighting this when I came home last time - but not for THIS long! Wow - it's been rough getting back to the eastern time zone. Must be that darn "Spring Ahead" that's getting me - ha ha!

Believe it or not - Miss T is holding up like a champ. She's adjusting really well and seems to be mighty happy and comfortable in her new digs. She LOVING the kitties or Maaaaaw as she always says and big news to report is that today she's started saying CAT. She's still a tiny bit scared of actually touching them - but my guess is that the kiddos were told over and over again at the orphanage NOT to touch the strays that were everywhere around there.

She's sleeping almost through the whole night. She'll usually wake up once or twice and whine a bit, but then she goes back to sleep. We even had our first April Showers thunder storm last night and she didn't seem to mind that. She'll even take her nap pretty well - which is a bonus too. She fights it in the beginning - she doesn't want to miss ANYTHING, but usually will finally fall asleep. Bonus for mom is that she likes to give me kisses when she gets up -- which is a huge step for her, especially so early on.

Other big news to report this week was her first U.S. haircut. It will take Jasmine a couple cuts to get it all cleaned up - but it already looks better and she was a real trooper sitting still at the salon. We also had a visit to Bernie's (daycare) today. Riley (T's little cousin) goes there as well - so it was nice for her to have a built in buddy. We visited together for awhile and then I went to the store for about 30 minutes in order for her to see that mom goes away but comes back. Not a single tear was shed, which was great. Even better was that she was excited to see me when I got back but yet it didn't scare her to realize I had been gone. What a trooper this girl is!

For her fans -- here's some pictures that I finally downloaded today...

Watching "You Tube" with Aunt Rhonda

Packing is fun!! Giggling in the Seoul Air Garden Hotel

First picture as a US Citizen!!Getting a trim from Jasmine