Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Not the Curls!

I got an email this morning from my translator in Vladivostok, Kate. Kate the Great. I am really hoping she's my translator this time around too, or that I at least get to see her. In her email she said she had seen Little T at the orphanage. She said T smiled at her and she gave her a hug. The bad news is that THEY CUT OFF HER CURLS!

Most of you haven't yet seen my beautiful T -- and soon you will :) I am confident! I must paint a picture for you of a beautiful little girl with curly dark brown curls. The best curls! The kind you're envious of when you see them, because they don't need "encouragement" from fancy (read: expensive) aids bought at the salon!

The "referral" picture I saw of her has "shorter" curl-less hair as well. If you remember, I saw the picture AFTER I saw T - as she was referred to me in country after I sadly declined referral #1. Lorien at my agency and I joked that her hair was MUCH better after it was grown out!!

I know the reasons for the hair cuts... it's a lot less maintenance for the care givers to not have to brush out longer, snarly girls hair. And it's ummm less apt to collect critters - I'll stop there :) But not the curls! I am hoping she's had her last hair cut for a while!!

Cross your fingers for my mom's laptop. We're in testing mode for the trip and it's been VERY temperamental. Only wants to work for me at her house -- and not always then. It's making a trek to Grand Rapids tomorrow for it's final test. It's my lifeline to home from Russia!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

You Had a Bad Day...

I hear the American Idol music. Yes, I am totally lame for associating that song only with American Idol. I know it had roots before that... but it's what comes into my mind.

Last night I got an email from my agency saying I needed to change my flight arrangements to return home a day later. The courier taking my papers to Moscow and back won't be "back in Vlad" until the morning after I leave. In my humble opinion, there is a LOT of down time in his schedule and it would have been MUCH easier to change 1 ticket than 3. But who am I...

So I checked with my travel agent - who has been a godsend, mind you. Her email last night was "no problem, basically $100 change fee for each and availability looks good". Got the official word from the agency this morning and I emailed the travel agent to pull the trigger on the date change. Small inconvenience to my dad & Sharon who were planning on driving up to Atlanta to see us as we landed - but no big deal, right? WRONG!

Lynn, the travel agent, emails back this morning that somehow overnight now the flight returning into Atlanta on 3/29 is FULL in our fare class. No availability. Huh? It's much easier (and cheaper) to only change dates vs. changing routing cities, but that's what we had to do. Here comes the fun.

I had used my points on NORTHWORST Air (sorry Danette, you know I have always been a fan til now) to upgrade to first class from Detroit to Chicago on my flight leg. Somehow when I did that, Northworst took control of my ticket - which means my travel agent can no longer make changes herself. HUH??? On top of that -- they want to charge me $1300 to make the change. Little T's fee would be $300 and Rhonda's would be a little over $230. But because they took control of my ticket - Lynn can't access it. She called Northworst and got the run around, so she asked me to call them. It got worse from there. The man was SO rude to me, basically yelled at me for using a travel agent and said "that's why you should have booked through us". Literally, and I mean LITERALLY, he had me bawling on the phone. Wow. That's some serious customer service, people.

He wanted to make my changes, but my tickets are tied to Little T and Rhonda. The whole point is that we are TOGETHER. And on top of it, I didn't know which flights we were being moved to because nothing had been confirmed yet.

Lynn ended up saving the day and getting the changes done on my ticket for $650 - so the total changes will only cost me around $1100 NOT $2000. But the BEST part is that if anything happens mid-trip (weather delays etc) Northworst has to make all my changes, Korean Air can't, Lynn can't etc. Mighty handy for when a girl's in Russia, eh? I am so fuming mad at Northworst I can't see straight. Please pray for no hiccups along the way!!!

I am going to start collecting soda cans on the street to pay for my changes now...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Time Keeps on Slippin...

I went to go call this post "Tick tock..." but apparently I already had a post with that name so I had to get creative!! 20 days until court and 15 days until I get to start my journey.

Last night Rhonda and I went out on the town and saw one of my FAVORITE Broadway shows, RENT, in Detroit. We're both BIG fans, and RENT is now touring the country (after closing on Broadway last year) and was supposed to feature the two leads that opened the show back in the 90s. Sadly, one of them was absent last night. BOO! All in all, it was a great night, even without Adam Pascal, and probably one of my last hurrahs as a childless adult!

Next week I have a big trade show for one of my customers at work. While some people would see this is a stress point before they leave, I am really looking forward to it. It's a CRAZY 4 days, and will really make the time fly by!

Finally my thoughts go out to all those PAPs who got the bad news this week that their Home Study agency has been "banned" from Russia. This process is such a crazy roller coaster ride of emotions, and that certainly adds to the insanity. If you need a great Home Study agency in Michigan - let me know. I have been over the moon happy with mine!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I Won Something!!

My family eats together almost every Friday night. We gather at a local family restaurant and catch up on the week. It's our little way of stimulating the local economy!

A couple weeks ago the "placement" (advertisement) featured a clip about the local county Tourism Commission and their search for pictures for this years brochure. They were holding a contest looking for pictures taken of scenes around the county.

This past Friday I got a call saying that not only had I placed - but 3 different pictures placed! Here's the rundown:

1st Place in "Watersports" ~ Taken on Lake Huron, near Lexington, MI
3rd Place in "Watersports" ~ Taken in Port Sanilac, MI

3rd place in "Scenes" ~ Taken in Lexington, MI

Friday, February 13, 2009

Looks Like We Might Have Some Travel Plans!!

As you can imagine, it's been a crazy hectic week! Of course news of the impending court date trumps all, but in preparation for the trip, I had planned a super busy week at work. It's Murphy's Law that I would have found out about the court date during such a busy week!! Looks like I'll be leaving Michigan on 3/5 and returning home on 3/28. Let's hope the best laid plans remain the best and laid!!

Believe it or not the actual choosing of the flights was rather stressful. For those of you familiar with Russian adoption, you are aware that 90% of the families adopting have to return home through Moscow (regardless of their region) and make the famous Embassy stop. If you aren't aware - you learned something new today!! However, because Vladivostok is SOOOO far from Moscow - approximately 9 hours by plane!! - this region allows families to send a courier to Moscow for them to do that Embassy visit and paperwork. So I'll actually be flying home to the east vs. flying over most of Europe.

Going to Moscow IS an option. Do you pay a courier or do the leg work yourself? My wonderful friend Rhonda (yes, she of the first Tatiana trip!!) had volunteered to go back with me for part of the trip to help get Little T home. She and I BOTH would LOVE to see Moscow -- and when in Russia... so we looked at the options. While the flight was cheaper for her, it was tons more expensive for me. But I balanced the cost of hiring the courier -- until I found out that the driver in Moscow was basically the same price as hiring a courier to do all the leg work for me! I just couldn't make it work.

On top of that there was some confusion about the long plane ride home. Another challenge about the flight home from Vladivostok is the timing of flights. As you can imagine there aren't a ton of flights in and out of the International terminal there. Many of the layovers were LONG - leading an over night stay in a transit hotel. My travel agent didn't know about the hotel that was IN the airport and was leading me to believe that I couldn't stay overnight because Little T couldn't leave the airport. Thanks to my friend Nancy for the wonderful advice on the Hotel Air Garden!! (Her blog is on private, otherwise I'd link you to her great blog!)

Finally when we had all the dates figured out and made sure we weren't leaving too soon, then the preferred flight home through Chicago was so crowded that there weren't even 2 seats together. It's likely that the airline could have done some rearranging in the airport - however... I really didn't want to take that gamble on a 12.5 hour flight with a 2 year old! So now we are coming home through Atlanta! Which of course added some additional $$$!

That's it! I am BOOKED, Dano!

Monday, February 9, 2009


That's right folks -- I HAVE A COURT DATE!!

Wanted to pass the wonderful news along to all. Court is scheduled for 3/10/09 and my 10 days is planned to be up on 3/20/09.

More details later as I work out all the plans!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Crop -errrr, Snow- Circles

Friday afternoon was gorgeous up here in Michigan. We've had such a stretch of cold snowy days this year, that a beautiful sunny day is well appreciated! Thanks to Angie down in Florida, for filling me in that she and her husband Rick heard on the news that Detroit recorded only 24 hours of temperatures ABOVE 32 degrees during the entire month of January. YUP! It's been wicked cold!

While I was looking out back to check if the bird feeders needed to be filled (the answer is always yes!) I noticed some weird spots in my backyard. With all the snow we've had, my backyard had at least a foot of snow throughout except in near these "spots" that looked like crop circles. I couldn't figure out what was going on. So of course I had to put on my boots and go outside to investigate.

I live in a small subdivision that is basically a two street cul-de-sac. No way about but past my house. And since I live in a small town - it's QUIET. People let their dogs run around - which doesn't bother me - except the presents they leave me in my yard! But the neighbor dogs have certain routes they take -- and these crop/snow circles were MUCH to big to be made by the dogs. On further inspection my backyard looked like a band of merry men had played a game of touch football back there. I took pictures to share with everyone.

Friday night we discovered the culprits. A herd (?) of deer are making my backyard their evening hot spot. They are digging in the snow for a snow bed, and munching on some shrubs in the yard. They don't mind if I turn on lights or even look at them out the window. Why my yard - I'll never know. I've mentioned the dogs next door. They don't seem to care. They arrived around 8pm last night and were still partying at midnight when I went to bed. My neighbor was up late last night until sometime between 1 & 2am -- and they were still there when she went to bed as well!! We investigated today and it appears there are approximately 15 deer beds - although this could be two different beds for some on the different nights. I counted 7 or 8 last night - but my back yard has 3 different levels with all the hills - so some may have been out of eye sight. However many there are -- they are gorgeous creatures!!!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Moving Forward Friday

It's been a hard week, I won't sugar it! I miss my midnight marauder - he often would "talk" to me at night as he was bringing me his fresh catch of the eve (his toys). The house is quieter without him and I keep expecting to see him come out of the kitchen each night while I am watching TV.

Over the past couple weeks, I had been joking that my delays in getting back to Tatiana were in order for Sara and Stephen to get "caught" up to me so that we could go back to Vladivostok together. You may remember that our time lines throughout our adoptions have been EERILY similar. Unfortunately, they have had some recent "issues" to deal with surrounding their adoption. Now I think that maybe my delays were Gods way of allowing me to be with Murphy when he needed me most.

I typically have very vivid, wild and crazy dreams. The weird thing to me is that I can literally count on one hand how many times I have dreamt about Tatiana. Last night I had a very real dream about being back in Russia to pick her up. It wasn't exactly realistic - to my knowledge there is no gift shop in the Artem baby home!!! But it was very real. Oddly, due to the time change, when we are sleeping, the folks in Vladivostok are up doing their business.

This morning at 9:30 my phone rang with a good news update from my agency! We have some feedback from the judge -- and we are moving in the right direction. No court date yet -- but we are getting closer! The judge asked for 2 documents from the team in Vladivostok and 1 document that comes from my agency. Easy peasy, right? Let's hope so!

Thanks for all your prayers and thoughts over the past week. Let's hope we get additional great news over the next week or so!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Good-bye Love

Today, I lost another friend. One of my best friends. How do you describe a cat that I could literally communicate with? He would tell me when he needed something and lead me right to it. Murphy was perfection. He understood me, calmed me when I was upset and comforted me when I was sad. He even ran to the basement where there was no carpet when he had a furrball!

We bring pets into our lives and their unconditional love is so reassuring. It's so hard to say good-bye and know that my little fluff ball won't be there tonight, tomorrow or ever.

Good-bye Murphy Poppins, please say hi to Snickers, Gertie and Nougat for me. Thank you for being a wonderful friend and companion. Thank you for tolerating my grumpiness and silliness. I am sorry that there were days I took you for granted. I would have loved for Tatiana to have met you. I will miss you every day.

A Day I Don't Want to Face

A few weeks back I wrote about my sweet, baby Murphy. Murphy is my 16 year old beautiful boy that is "Practically Perfect in Everyway". We've been together for 16 years this spring - almost my whole "adult" life.

I have been trying to prepare myself that our time together is drawing to an end. Slowly the last couple months I have noticed a decline in his well-being and behavior. He's gotten really skinny and spends a majority of his time sleeping. He's not interested in playing anymore.

When we were packing away the Christmas decorations this year, I tried to get Murphy to promise me that he'd be around to unpack them next year. (He has his own stocking and ornaments, you know) Sadly, I don't think that will be the case. In fact, today may be our last day together. We have an appointment at the vet today at 2:30pm and I think she will reinforce my suspicion that something is failing - likely his kidneys or his liver. He didn't really want to eat today - and I am talking slivered turkey (yes, in my preparation for the end, he gets whatever he wants) not cat food! So I am trying to ready myself for the message.

How do you say goodbye to your best friend? I don't want him to suffer and need to make that decision for him, but a life without him seems very empty and lonely. I really wanted Little T to meet him, as he has been a big part of my life. It's hard to even type this without crying.

I have shared my house with some wonderful pets - and the last 3 years have been really hard. I lost Gertie in April of 07, Nougat in September of 08 and Murphy potentially soon to follow. When we love our pets, we know that someday we'll have to face these days, but it doesn't make it any easier. Please keep my precious boy in your thoughts.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Call it the depression of "waiting", call it the doldrums of winter - but man, am I LAZY lately. There are things I could do around the house: laundry, clean up the winter cobwebs, clean up my office, go grocery shopping, scrape the ice chunks off my driveway --- but I DON'T WANNA!

I called my friend Suzy on Friday night and asked her if it was horribly lame for me to go to sleep at 9:15pm. (Ironically, this would been about the time we would have started making arrangements to go "out" in college!) She assured me that it wasn't lame -- however, thankfully we talked for a long time and I didn't get to go to sleep until at least after 10pm - much more respectful!

This winter has brought SOOO much snow - and brought it so early (we've had snow since before Thanksgiving up here). Combined with the freezing weather, I am so OVER winter. I'd like to bribe Mr. Groundhog tomorrow to please bring the end to winter.

But instead of continuing to whine, I will realize that I am very lucky these days to have laundry to do - as that means I have clothes to wear and get dirty to wash, and that I have machines to clean them and water to rinse them. And I will gladly go to the store and be happy that I have enough money to shop for food without really stressing all that much. I just forget sometimes, don't we all?