Monday, June 29, 2009

3 Months, Babybugs & A Controversial Question & Tribute

Happy July 4th week!! I promised a picture of our visit with my dear friend Suzy's kids. Isn't this a great pic? Thanks Suzy for the visit AND the great pic. Adam starts the group on the far left, then is Sydney (just 2 months younger than Tatiana) and finally Natalie. Suzy and I are celebrating our "23rd" Anniversary this summer as friends. I love my friends and watching their gorgeous kids grow up.
T has been home 3 months today! I literally cannot believe it. In someways it seems like we were just in Vladivostok a couple weeks ago. My friend Pam has just arrived in Vlad today for her first trip - so please keep her in your thoughts this week!

A new nickname has steadily crept up on us. The kids at daycare started calling her Tati (pronounced "ta-tee") - and it's stuck. I actually like it and SHE can say it (unlike Tatiana at this point!). It's funny when someone calls her Tania it sounds weird to me now.

The outfit above was a present from Gramma and Grampa. She calls it her "babybug" shirt. I about wet my pants when she said it. Her toothbrush also has 3 painted ladybugs on it and she points to them now and says "babybug". Tooooo cute.

My question of the day - and this will be old news for those of you on facebook - is: the ears, to pierce now or not to pierce now. Thoughts? This was a VERY controversial topic on facebook when I asked - and great points were made on both sides. I still don't know which way I am leaning.

Finally, I want to comment on the events of last week. This will likely also be somewhat controversial, and that's ok. I believe that freedom of speech and listening to other's opinions is what makes our country strong. So here it is.... Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson was a part of my life for a LONG time. In the early and teen years, I will admit that he played a huge role. Looking back I can tie some very specific GREAT memories around MJ. Starting with Nikki Loseth's 4th grade birthday party (what is that about 10 yrs old?). Nikki got Michael Jackson's "The Wall" album for her birthday and I remember dancing and singing in her basement to the music for hours. I got a new hairbrush for a party gift that day and thought I was the BOMB. Michael Jackson and new brush - now that's a party. It was a party to judge future parties upon. Sadly, Nikki passed away in her late 20's from a lifelong battle with diabetes. We had lost touch after high school, but I always remember her, her party and "The Wall" fondly. They go hand in hand to me.

I had known Michael Jackson before that - but I think that birthday was my eye opening to music that was uniquely my own NOT my parents. And so my love for Michael Jackson grew. The next year, I started taking dance classes at Toni's Studio in Mt. Pleasant. That was the name of the joint "Toni's Studio" - no joke. My good friend Carrie who you've all heard about (mother of the adorable Mary) and I danced our performance routine to MJ's "You Got Me Workin Day & Night". It was chosen for us, but I LOVED it.

In 8th grade "Thriller" came out. My family lived out of town on a lake, so we DIDN'T have cable . No MTV. I remember when the video Thriller came out, I was spending the night at my friend Krista Plummer's house (also still a friend to this day!) and we stayed up LATE, camped out in their TV room to watch Thriller. I think you could have told us the sky was falling during that 20 minutes - and we wouldn't have heard you. We of course, like every other teenage girl (and most of the boys, even though they'd never admit it) tried to duplicate all the dance moves.

Fast forward ahead to my freshman year in High School. Good ole MPHS. I tried out for the Flagline with the Marching Band and made it. I was 1 of 10 "Flag Girls" - 3 of which were my new friends The Bettisworth triplets (Kara, Kim & Kris) in the class above me. At the time, I was often mistaken for "the 4 Bettisworth" some people thought I was their younger sister. I was thrilled with these new friends as we had a LOT of the same interests - flags, Tiger/Teen Beat magazine and yes, Michael Jackson. We were fervent fans. VERY LOYAL. Kim was probably the most loyal at the time, even sporting a "PYT" t-shirt, but in all honestly, we knew every word to every song. And most of the dance moves too.

As high school progressed, so did our love for MJ. BAD was just as emotional for us than the rest. We loved it and listened to it non-stop. By this time we were in "cassette" mode - and the fancy folks were starting to get CDs... but I think I bought BAD in record format in order to get "the big pictures" on the cover. The class above me even reproduced "We Are the World" at their spaghetti supper fundraiser their senior year.

Even in college, I stayed in touch with the Bettisworth's (they at MSU and me at CMU) and we continued to share our love of MJ. While the new albums didn't move us like when we were a little younger, there was no doubting the brilliance of songs like "Man in the Mirror" and "Black or White".

And then the dark days. I remember back to the first accusations of child molestation in the mid-90s. I didn't want to believe it. This was my childhood idol. My Michael Jackson, whose songs were so great. I wanted to believe it was an overzealous family out to get some of his millions $$ for themselves. I had myself convinced. Until the charges kept coming and there was another major case in the recent years. It was almost too much smoke to NOT have some fire.

I don't know what happened behind closed doors. The interviews he did about "sharing beds" with children severely creeped me out. Part of me says that it's not for me to judge him that's between him and god - however, I also say that if this was ANYONE other than one of my idols, of course I would judge him! Who wouldn't??

I do know that he had a strange life. Little to no childhood friends, reclusiveness, addiction to plastic surgery and likely painkillers. Fame does strange things to people. That's no excuse for child molestation - and I can't overlook it. Many people are highly frustrated by the high amounts of media coverage this event has received when there are greater issues currently in the world: Iran's voter problems and riots, Afghanistan and wars in Iraq. I get it. But last Thursday I lost a big piece of my childhood. It's not that I still worshipped him. But I will always remember my childhood and my love for MJ.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Warm Weather Weekend

Somehow Tatiana and I scored a weekend with a great weather forecast and NO plans! Woo hoo. We lounged in jammies until 10am, ate real blueberry pancakes and went down the break-wall in Lexington again.

Since the weather was a bit nicer than when Joy was here, there were families swimming, kids playing and much more activities going on. We saw a gorgeous family of swans - the babies aren't tiny anymore but they are very cool to see!

After naptime we went across the street to the pool and my cousin Jenni's girls joined us. It was a really nice day, so the pool was a great temp! It helped to have the other girls around - T saw that they splashed and played and kicked - and she really started to put it all together. I looked over at her and gramma and she was laying forward (leaning on gramma's hand) and kicking her legs. HUGE pool strides!!

Here's some pictures of our weekends activities.

Lexington, MI Break-Wall

T LOVES the water!
Sweet T
Swan family
Pensive Man in Lexington... looked better in BW
Lexington, MI Marina and shoreline

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Frosty Sundy!

Tatiana & I enjoyed her first Frosty at Wendy's this weekend in support of Dave Thomas's Adoption Foundation. She had a blast!
First taste....
Squeezing in a "pose"
It's Cold!!!
And now to answer couple popular questions...

1) The curls are real and I really don't do anything to "stimulate" them. Her hair is still a bit layered due to the fabulous hair stylings she received at the baby home, and that does help the curls. In the morning I usually spritz her hair with a spray bottle to comb through easier and that's about it!
2) She didn't actually DRINK the beer -- but had to see what was in the coolers.

Have a great week all. The weather here is FINALLY cooperating so we hope to squeeze in an after work swim tonight!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Busy Summer Weekends!

Tatiana has had a BUSY weekend! We've had visits with my dear friend Suzy (pictures pending - not my camera!!) and her kids, a graduation open house for my BABY cousin, Timothy, who is off to Michigan State University next year, and today we should be off to see my friend Timi who is visiting her mom from Alaska. We're also hoping to squeeze in a call to Grandpa to say HAPPY FATHER'S DAY! :) Tatiana and Mary - sweet cousins, 6 months apart in age
Kissing Cousins

T seems to be effected by some seasonal allergies. They have come and gone here and there this spring/summer - always leaving us with a runny nose. It could be good old fashioned day care germs, but it seems to be more allergy/nose related. I learned a hard lesson this morning - Baby Claritin is NOT be given with food. Puke-a-rama. T had the same reaction earlier this week, once, when being given some during a meal, and then another time took it just fine when given alone, so my suspicion is that it's the food combo. So given that her stomach is stronger after nap time, we'll continue on our weekend's journies.

Discovering the beer stash at Timothy's Open House... and YUCK! Budweiser!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Since we last spoke, the weekend got more interesting. Sunday night, likely after I was done posting about my excursion with Joy & T - I noticed that Miss Casey had been "bothering" the stitches on her tummy from her "spay" surgery. It was quite nasty looking and for the faint of stomach, I'll spare you the details, but needless to say I was VERY stressed out.

I probably would have continued to press my panic button and call my vet's emergency line had we not ALREADY ONCE used the emergency services that weekend. I called my mom and she came down and helped me wrap Casey's tummy in the bottom band of a t-shirt I cut up and fashioned a bandage for her. I didn't sleep much on Sunday night - checking on her every couple hours.

Monday morning bright and early - as soon as the vet opened we called for an appointment. They squeezed us in and thankfully I learned that when female kitties get this type of surgery there are two levels of stitches - internal and external. She had only taken out some of her external stitches - so really it was just looked uglier than it was. They gave me some cream to put on it and.... the CONE. Casey's got to wear this now to avoid her picking at anything further. I have to tell you, she's the sweetest little girl in the world - but the worst feline patient!!

The pink bandage got taken off today but the CONE of CRAZINESS will remain on longer. The vet would like to keep it one for another week.... YIPES -- we'll see!!

T didn't really know what to think of her "new-new" with a cone... but she's been really sweet and gentle as usual with her. Here's a picture of the little tot at breakfast yesterday.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Surprise Visitor!!!!

I had the best day!! Many of you are VERY familiar with my friend JOY from blogger land - we have so many common "friends". Joy is in town to deliver some paperwork to her agency (I'll let her tell you that story on her blog!). She emailed Friday night to see if I was free for some playtime and unfortunately some commitments up here in the boondocks of Michigan kept me from being able to join her down in the Detroit burbs. I asked her if she'd like to come hang out with us - thinking the drive would be a killer after her long day of traveling already - and man was I excited when she said YES!!

Joy is my first "blogger" friend I have met in person -- so I was super excited. I have to tell you she's even more fun in person than she is on her blog - and I didn't know if that was possible!

We had a great time - and here's some pictures to prove it!! Thanks for visiting, Joy!!
Joy at Croswell's Famous Swinging Bridge!

Joy & T on the Lexington breakwall
Joy, Amy & T in Lexington

Saturday, June 13, 2009

What a Day!

Getting ready for the big swim... (yes I took her socks off!)

Post (COLD!) Swim - Playing Peek-a-Boo and Goofing Around

More Ice Cream!
Patient Casey and her pink bandage

What a day! Since we missed pool time yesterday when it hit over 70 degrees - we thought we'd try it today. The weather was dancing right around 70, but it felt cooler walking over to the pool. The pool is heated -- but man, was it chilly! Not 90 degrees like the pool at aqua aerobics.

So T wasn't a fan just yet. She can't touch in the shallow end and I think she was just scared. The bathing suit my dad and Sharon brought up from FL was great and fits her PERFECTLY but she was too scared to "move around" so it kept tipping her over - like Aunt Jenni said Riley's did. We planned to go on a search this afternoon when she got up from her nap to look for Water Wings as a 2nd float device but alas... we got sidetracked... read on!

My other newest baby - Miss Casey had a BIG week. She got "fixed" (spay surgery) and her front claws out on Tuesday and came home Wednesday. My vet is great and they use a laser for the claw surgery - so while yes there is a little discomfort for a bit, it looks like nothing was done to the paws. Casey would tell you otherwise however. They were bugging her Friday night and this morning I decided to take her back to the vet before they closed for the weekend to get some anti-biotic and pain meds. Maybe the pain meds worked too well because she kept licking and biting at her left paw and broke open a scab. She started bleeding more than I would have liked! Thankfully my vet has emergency hours for clients - and she put a gorgeous pink bandage on her paw. She's tugged at it a bit - and it's lower than it was earlier, but the goal is to get her to leave it on through Monday. Poor Casey!!

Hopefully Sunday will be uneventful -- but we've got a bunch of things to do... so, I doubt it!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Memories... Like the Corner of My Mind

Taken in the Artem Baby Home

Today T and I went BACK to the Social Security office closest to our house (translation: 30 minutes away - I live in the sticks!) to see what was up with her Social Security #. We went about 6 weeks ago after her passport came back from being registered at the Russian Consulate. When we first applied, I provided copies of her birth certificate AND the adoption certificate PLUS their translations into english. Apparently that wasn't good enough - they told me they needed to have them translated on their own and it would take "up to 4 weeks". Ok, no biggie -- that's just a month, right?

Fast forward 6 weeks and we hadn't heard ANYTHING. In the meantime, over the last 6 weeks I had received her US Citizenship paperwork, so my thought was -- even though they could have accessed the system and found her, I had a hard copy proof that she was a US citizen and now they'd HAVE to give her a SS#. An hour later, they had it all figured out, but it was quite a challenge to them! So hopefully this time it will really show up within the next week.

While we were waiting, the office manager and I were looking at Tatiana's picture on her citizenship paperwork. For those of you still in the process - one of the "passport" type pictures you'll have taken of your child in Russia will be used on his/her citizenship paper. T's picture is ok - but it looks like she is scared to death and just got done crying. And she had!

Looking at that picture made me think back to our days in Russia before coming home and HOW DRASTICALLY different things are. T was ok at the hotel, but she was much more moody than she is here. She cried a lot. A LOT. She had to cry to fall asleep. She cried when we'd take her out of the hotel - specifically in the car and she cried EVERYTIME she saw my coordinator Sergei (she never cried when she saw him at the baby home but she came to associate him with the car as he was the driver too). She cried at the passport office, she cried at the doctors office, she cried at the American Consulate. And yes, she cried at the photographers while getting her picture taken.

Now at home she's one of the happiest children I know. My Uncle Terry calls her "the little Russian girl who hit the jackpot". She rarely cries - and typically if she does they are total alligator tears. She's NIGHT AND DAY compared to the little girl back at the hotel. My hypothesis now is that she must have been scared out of her mind. You can imagine what it's like to leave the only place you can ever remember living (and rarely left if ever!) but I don't know if you can truly grasp how scary it must be unless you experience it yourself.

It's only been a little more than 2 months -- I can't wait to see how she continues to thrive and develop!! Thanks for taking this ride with us!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Photos Before Friday!

So technically it's not Friday - yet... but I was scolded for not posting more pictures of Little T on the last post, so here they are! (Sorry Clarese, thanks for the kick in the pants!!)

We tried out a mini "pony tail" but she just doesn't quite make it yet (thanks to the wonderful Russian beauty stylists in her baby home!!).

Ok I am done raving about her today. Well - at least for now!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Intervention - NOT the TV Show!

Yesterday I took T for her "Early Intervention" Screening. I know many people have mixed thoughts on "Early Intervention". Some people feel there is a stigma involved with getting a child extra help ("Will my child be labeled 'behind' forever?"). However, I feel that every child should be given every chance possible to enter their school/formidable years with every possible advantage.

This is especially the case with International adoption. In T's case, she came home to the US at 2 1/2 years old. The social worker I met with before court (who was great and I really liked her) told me that in their estimation, T was "5 Levels Developmentally Delayed". Didn't surprise me -- she was living in an institution.

So while it took me a while to figure out where to call - I finally tracked down the Early Intervention folks in my county. They were great on the phone and we scheduled T's screening. I honestly thought she'd likely qualify in 4 or 5 of the categories - specifically language and some motor skills. I mean she's only been home 2 months.

WRONG!! My little sweetie only qualified in ONE category and I had to laugh when they told me what it was. She qualifies for some therapy in "Coping with Others" skills - because when they asked me if she "defends herself if another child wants to take a toy away from her" the answer was no. She's not used to that -- she's used to having to share. Everything in her life was shared. So the plan is to start her in a playgroup to help develop these skills.

I really liked the staff at the "Early On" building. They were great. Very nice and very helpful. They were shocked that T has only been home 2 months and how much language she's already grasped. T's case worker even said "she's more advanced than most 2 year olds in language development". WHAT? 5 Levels Delayed? Riiiiiiiiggggghhhhht.

So note to future adoptive parents: don't be alarmed by small delays -- most of these kids flourish when they get home.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I Scream, You Scream

T had her first ice cream cones this week. This was her first official (very own) soft serve from Dairy Queen. The bib kept getting in the way - but other than that, she held her own. And it's a good thing too because I won the an "Edy's Ice Cream" party AGAIN this year for the neighborhood. It's through work - and I say the only reason that I win is because I send in the entry slip, but whatever! I'll take it! Free ice cream for the neighborhood - who wouldn't??

Friday, June 5, 2009

First Trip Away

All quiet on the blogger front? This week - yes! I had my first "overnight" trip away from Tatiana this week. Overall -- we all survived!

Actually it wasn't that bad.

As much as I hated to have to go, work beckons -- and baby needs new pairs of shoes, so mama must bring home the bacon!! So off to Boston it was. One of my favorite towns - but I haven't been there in over 20 years. It was a great trip - and a informative meeting. Double bonus.

T stayed with Gramma - who worships her almost as much as her mommy. My main worry is that it would hurt everything we've built so far on the attachment front. Good news is that she frequently asked for her mama. Combined with our phone talks (Mama: Hi baby. T: Hi baby. Gramma: No say hi mama. T: Hi mama! Mama: How are you? T: Howahya?) we all did great.

So first work milestone - check and passed! Keep your fingers crossed that it stays above 70 for a bit this weekend and we can try out our new pool membership!! It's been so cold here we've haven't gone for a dip yet!