Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Happy BooYou to Mama

Happy Birthday to me! 1 year ago today on my birthday I was super bummed that I didn't receive "the ultimate birthday present".... a referral! I remember getting a note from my Agency Director that said "just remember that next year on your birthday you'll be with your little one". It seemed soooo far away!

This morning I was woken up by a sweet little Russian voice on the baby monitor singing "Happy BooYou to You". Her own little version of the birthday song. We had been talking that today was mama's birthday - and being the little smarty that she is, she remembered first thing when she woke up today. What a great birthday present!!

Not only is today my 39th birthday, (yes, that's right -- it's REALLY the 39th birthday, next year is the big 4-0!) but today is our official 6 MONTHS HOME! I can't believe she's been home that long - and strangely at the same time, it feels like she's been here forever! What a difference a year... and 6 months makes!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sneak Peek

Little Miss You Know Who had her very first "photo shoot". I wasn't sure how she'd do as she hasn't really grasped the whole smile on command thing without a super cheesy grin with eyes closed... but as you'll see: She did fabulous! Her patience wained at the end, but she did really, really well. So well, in fact, that I think I may partially own the place where we had them done as I paid them so much money! But with pics like this... how could I not? Do you blame me?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Where Are We Now?

6 Months ago today on a sunny-ish, breezy day in Vladivostok, I took custody of a little sprite named Tatiana Elizabeth. I always think of our big anniversary as the day we got home, March 29th - so imagine my surprise when I realize the "anniversary" of my court date (3/10) had passed AND today is the "anniversary" of the day Tatiana made her big escape from the Artem baby home.

It's almost hard to remember that pasty white, scared girl, who was excited and nervous all at the same time. She was sweet and smiley, and yet cried almost every time she left the "Duck" groupa in Artem. She was pretty much Queen Bee in her room -- one of the oldest. This was probably one of the things that also held her back a bit.

At almost 2 and a half, T barely said 10 words in Russian. She understood everything you said - she just wasn't speaking much. She would say mama, dya dya (uncle), cuck-co (peek-a-boo), dock dock (knock knock), and her favorite, nah (here). Beyond that there were a couple words here and there, but that about sums it up. She didn't understand sippy cups and straws and essentially every night to go to sleep she had to cry and rock herself to sleep. If I tried to soothe her, hold her, she just cried harder - almost as if she thought she was in trouble. She HATED riding in the car. Instant tears - in fact she'd cry upon the sight of our driver.

So where are we now? Just 6 months later?

Remember that old theory of Nature vs. Nurture? Tatiana is a PRIME example of that! I don't intend to criticize the baby home she came from. I truly believe that a majority of the baby homes in Russia mean well and do the best with the limited means they have. However, there's nothing like having so good old fashioned mama (or daddy! or both!) bonding time. Tati has flourished in the last 6 months.
As SHE told you in her last post she's working on going potty on the potty. She usually won't tell you she has to go, but if she's put on the potty - she'll go. She can almost go a whole day in a dry pull up.

She LOVES to talk and sing. This girl has a HUGE vocabulary. She knows almost all animals and what sounds they make. Her favorite is the dog - much to her kitties dismay! She knows all her body parts and will tell you all of them. She's got her ABCs down through about K - and then she'll transition into "Twinkle, Twinkle".
She'll "read" books for hours and loves to be read to. In fact, in all 3 of her favorite bedtime books ("Goodnight Moon", "The Going to Bed Book" and "Two to Cuddle" she literally can end EVERY sentence in the book. So I read the sentence until the end -- and she finishes it. It's hysterical. She's also really into coloring these days and because of this can identify most colors. This is just a recent skill, and sometimes she still gets confused but it's huge progress!
She still rocks sometimes at night. And she'll do it sometimes when she's singing but for the most it's minimal. No crying when she goes to bed, in fact she'll tell YOU when it's naptime. At night time sometimes she'll fall asleep within 5 minutes and sometimes I'll hear her in her room singing and talking about her day for 30 minutes! She's very happy and content. Car riding is also now a non-issue. Like any two (almost 3) year old, she gets bored and antsy, but she likes going for rides now.

In so many ways she's becoming a typical toddler. She has her temper tantrums sometimes and her favorite saying right now is "I WANT...". I still need to practice my patience with her sometimes in these stages! But overall she is an adorable, SMART, little sprite who walked into my life permanently 6 months ago today. What a ride it's been!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Guess Who...

Guess who's back. Back again. Tati's back. Back again.
(Hey, I live in Michigan. It's the law to embrace our singers. Even Eminem. )
So, I've been super busy lately doing this "growing up thing". Mom says she can't believe how much I am talking and doing these days. Here's a snippet of what I have been up to:
Modeling the clothes my Gramma & Grampa send me
Coloring: This my newest passion. I think I want to be the next VanGogh.
Minus the whole ear removal thing. Mom thinks that's not necessary.

Laughing. A lot. I am silly. Really silly. I mean REALLY silly!

Loving my BFF "dawg" (check out my Beatles shirt, even though dawg is blocking most of it!)
Reading. Reading and more reading.

So a last week after what mom kept saying was "Labor Day" all the big kids at daycare went back to school. Mom kept saying that the summer was over. That stinks! I still point the pool out to mom everyday and want to go "swimmin".
I have noticed that it's getting cooler here in Michigan. I can wear shorts some days, but it seems like I am wearing more pants and long-sleeve t-shirts now. One bonus, when it's time for me to sleep, it's not really light out anymore. Mom thinks that will help me go to sleep quicker, but I still like to lay in my bed and tell dawg about my day and sing silly songs for a while.
I'm super into music, coloring, and books these days. Oh, and Elmo. He's the bomb. I just love that red guy. I am secretly hoping mama buys me some Elmo big girl panties for my upcoming birthday. Why would I want those you ask? Because... I forgot to tell you... I have been practicing going pee-pee on this thing everyone calls the potty! Most days I am really good about it and my pull-ups stay dry even through nap time. I even went poo poo on the potty once, but it was kinda an accident. I really don't like that yet. So maybe big girl Elmo panties would be super sweet.
Now you know what I've been up to. What have YOU been up to?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Delayed Registration of Foreign Birth

In the Courtroom with Judge Maltby
Waiting For Our Turn
Someday I WILL graduate to 2T clothing!

September... wow, this year sure is flying by! Another milestone in Little T's life this morning. A couple weeks ago I applied for a "Delayed Registration of Foreign Birth" at the Probate Court in my county. Once again, a hats off to Lorien at Lighthouse for steering me in the right direction. Today we had our hearing and the Judge signed an approval to recognize Tatiana's birth in Vladivostok, Russia and give us the paperwork needed to submit for a US Birth Certificate. In some states you complete a "re-adoption", in Michigan - this is the equivalents.
Why do I want a US Birth Certificate? Good question!
When I applied for T's Social Security card I was told that they needed to "send her Russian Birth Certificate and Adoption Certificate away to have them independently translated". My translated copies weren't good enough! I talked them into sending away COPIES of these documents. As you can imagine... with only ONE copy of the official paperwork... I rarely let these stinkers out of my possession. It's not exactly easy to run over to the Vladivostok "ZAGS" office to pick up a replacement. After 6 weeks of waiting, I still hadn't heard about her SS#, so we went back to the office WITH her US Citizenship papers. Surely that'd be enough, right? After much convincing, yes!
Same story with her bank account. You'd think I had 5 heads or was asking to take a mortgage out in her name... nope! I simply wanted to start a bank account for her. In other words - give them money! "Can we take this Russian Birth Certificate??"
The next big step is sending away for her US Passport. Living so close to Canada, I'd like to be able to take my daughter across the border, but wouldn't dream of doing it with her current passport - even WITH the immigrant VISA. And what if we wanted to vacation in some exotic locale? Not planned... but a girl can dream! Sending away the only copies of these papers... I get weak just thinking about it.
So now she'll have her very own US Birth Certificate. And to clarify, it will list her place of birth as Vladivostok, Russia. Although, technically she was born in Arseniev, Russia - but that's ANOTHER story! (It was changed in Russia during the adoption process... I can explain off line if you want to know!)
I hope everyone had a WONDERFUL Labor Day weekend - or as we call it here in Michigan, "the end of the summer". T has really loved this summer -- spending so much time outside. Which leads me to the final answer of the day... NO! I didn't highlight her hair! But it does look like it, doesn't it? She's got the BEST natural color streaks in her hair from spending so much time outside this summer. It's truly enviable. I mean people pay good money for that! The sun did her a world of good all around. If you compare the pictures of her from now to back when we came home.... MAN - what a change in her coloring. She's finally "got her orphanage" off!