Friday, January 29, 2010

Memories.... from Trip #1

After posting my silly story about Sean Astin, it got me motivated to FINALLY complete my video of trip #1... hope you enjoyed it!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This……………. is American Idol

Meet the next American Idol – circa 2025.  I came into the living room after cleaning up the kitchen tonight and this is what I found.  My own personal concert.

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For Tatiana’s birthday, my friend Anna gave her a Target gift card.  She picked out this super cool keyboard as her present and has loved it ever since.   Mama approved as it’s got a great volume button on it.  (SCORE!)IMG_2537I was treated to a custom version of Old MacDonald had a farm, twinkle twinkle little star and some talking that no sane person could decipher if they tried!

Other evening activities included round two of Princess Practice!  A new Princess dress arrived in the mail today.  Mama special ordered it so it would fit a tiny little Russian princess.  We may have our Disney dress!  It’s super cute in person and even has tiny LED lights that light up!  IMG_2533  And yes, I know the socks TOTALLY make the outfit! 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Did I Ever Tell You?

Did I ever mention that Sean Astin was on my trip #1 flight from Detroit to LAX?  I don’t think I did  -- too caught up in the rest of the excitement of the trip to go meet who I thought would be my son.  Little did I know that…

1) Sean Astin would be on my flight

2) There was a quicker way to fly (NO LAX!)

3) My son would be a daughter

4) That I’d meet some of the coolest people in the world!  (Hi Sara, Stephen, Heidi & Mike!)

IMG_6766 I have no idea what the crazy marks are on his face.  But as you can see I was full out busted taking the picture.  

I have LONG loved Sean Astin.  I loved Samwise Gamgee, I loved Rudy and I especially loved Mikey in the Goonies.  I thought of Sean Astin’s presence on my flight as a positive sign of the excitement ahead.  And WHOA!  Such excitement!

Tatiana had  another swimming lesson this morning.  I am sad to report that this week’s outing was WORSE than last week.  While we waited for class to begin she splashed around with a couple of the other girls in her class.  Then when it was time for class to start, she just wanted to go back to play.  Maybe she’s too young – maybe it’s too many kids.  Who knows.  I am going to call this week to see if I can pull her out and get some $$ back.  A cousin told me over the holidays that her kids were taught here locally by a woman who has a pool in her house and does private 1 on 1 classes.  I am hoping to get her info as I think Miss Fish would do MUCH better in that environment.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Swimming Lessons

Didn’t think you’d hear from me again so soon, did ‘ja?  So for Michelle, we’re back!

Today was Tati’s second swimming lesson.  I would like to report that it went much more swimmingly… however, we still seem to have a slight issue with WAITING OUR TURN.  We had a long discussion before hand about listening to Miss Hillary, T’s patient teacher, and waiting and stopping.  However, the girl just want to swim and apparently cannot be held back by such conformists views as waiting our turn.  So… as Yo Gabba Gabba tells us, we’ll “keep trying, keep trying, you’ll get it right, you’ll get it right”.  (Sorry for those of you Gabba watchers, you’ll be cursing me later as you silently hear this song for the rest of the day!)

She’s a very cute non-conformist, however…

IMG_8058 I mean seriously, folks, could YOU wait your turn in this cool place?  I think not….


Getting ready for the sitting dive… see, I do listen.  Sometimes.


Kicking with Miss Hillary


Let’s do this already!!

Friday, January 15, 2010


My Uncle Terry calls Tatiana “The Little Russian Girl Who Won The Lottery”. He and my aunt adore her, like most of the rest of her “fans” (as I call them!). In some ways, she may have gotten “lucky” – but honestly, *I* am the lucky one.

Tatiana has changed my life in so many positive ways. Last year, after traveling through the Russian country-side, I told myself I would never forget the feelings I had.

Seeing how so many Russian people live made me realize how great most of us have it in the US. I promised that I would start to give more of what I had and continue to give. IMG_6878 IMG_6859Here are two pictures of life in Vladivostok/Artem Russia. You can say “what a cute little cottage” – but this 2nd picture is someone’s HOUSE. Realize that as I type this, it is –18 degrees (that’s NEGATIVE) in Vladivostok. This is one of the bigger houses as well. The owner of this dwelling is likely considered rather wealthy for owning a whole building AND land. Many people live in tiny apartments that many of us would consider to appear condemned. I haven’t publicly shared all of the details of Tatiana’s birth mother’s situation, but suffice it to say that @ a little over 1 month old, T was taken to a dwelling like one of these – in December ‘06 – with NO HEAT and NO WATER. Sad, yes, but it is the reality of what people face on a daily basis in some parts of the world (and the US!)

That brings us to the current situation in Haiti. I honestly don’t know how much more of the news I can watch. It’s so beyond heart breaking to think about that level of devastation. And that’s where my promise comes in. I will give when I can to those who need it. I have more than I need. So yesterday I donated to the Red Cross. Additionally, wonderful blogger friend Ondrea posted some additional links on her blog.

Another friend of mine (thanks, Chris Goosman!) said on facebook this morning, “Find $10, skip a meal, skip a beer, skip a pack of smokes, whatever, the bulk of you reading this live like kings (don't even deny it, if you're sitting using a computer, you live like a king compared to a significant portion of the rest of the world...) and can find $10 to pass along to the charity of your choice. I gave to the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. I implore you to do the same.” NICELY said, Chris.

Yes, we have needs here in the country. I won’t deny it. We do need to work on our own problems as well. However, these are HUMAN BEINGS. The same as you and I. And they need help. This beautiful Russian Princess helped me realize that. Maybe she can help you too!


Showing off my new Cinderella dress, post bath time!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Walkin’ In A Winter Wonderland

Finally – some snow!  I can’t believe that I am saying that when living in Michigan, but really we haven’t had much snow this year.  I have been watching everyone MUCH further south of me talk about snow and cold… and while ya’ll can KEEP the cold, you need a LITTLE snow in the winter.  It helps distract from the fact that everything is essentially dead or hibernating!  Mind you, come mid February, I’ll be crying for winter to be over!

Tati and I went out to enjoy the snowy backyard.   We actually have more snow than I thought we had.  It snowed here Thursday and Friday and now we probably have close to a foot.  It’s the fluffy, white, powdery stuff – VERY pretty.  IMG_2507                        I love it when the snow sticks to the trees!  Just gorgeous!

I wasn’t sure how she’d do – in the past when we’ve come home and I wanted to stay outside and shovel off the driveway etc, she wanted to  have NO part of that plan.  She doesn’t like to keep her mittens on, so very quickly her hands are cold, cold, cold.   But we had a chat about keeping her mittens on and she did until one fell off as we were on our way inside. 

On top of mitten issues it was about 10 degrees here this morning – so I knew we wouldn’t last long.  We did some sledding, some general playing in the snow – and she of course, wanted to swing.   It’s rather hard with pants, snow pants, turtleneck, hoodie, and coat on to get the right movements for swinging… so much to her dismay, the swinging did not last long. 

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My “other” children – the furry ones, have noticed that since Tatiana has been home, they haven’t gotten nearly the blog press time that they used to get.  They wanted you all to know that they are doing well, actually like Tatiana more than they thought they would and are silently planning an overthrowing of the blog.  Here’s some pictures of them enjoying the lazy winter….

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As you may notice, Gracie is an equal opportunity snuggler…

Stay warm, blogger friends! 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2009 – A Year In Review

I have really enjoyed reading everyone’s recap of 2009, so I thought I’d try to recap my crazy year as well.  I am also testing out the Windows Live Writer that Barb, Kristine and Becky have been raving about… so here goes!  (So far – mama likes!)

January 2009:   A rough month – honestly.  I had journeyed to Vladivostok, Russia in Oct 2008 and knew that it likely would be 2009 when I returned.  However, going into the Christmas holidays with no major updates on a court date meant that 1/2 of January would pass with no trip news.  We had a HUGE storm around New Years – that I only remembered by glancing back at my photo archives.  Which reminds me … one of my New Years Resolutions is to organize all my photos better AND keep up with it!  If the computer were to crash… oh, let’s not even think about it.

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February 2009:   I woke to crazy “crop” circles in the snow in my backyard in February and realized it was just the deer having a big party in my honor.  What were they celebrating?  On 2/9/09 I received news that I had a court date!  The big day was set for 3/10/09.   Because of the timing, I ended up having to cancel some plans to meet some friends in Florida during the Lighthouse Florida gathering (my adoption agency), but all was not lost, we all met in Michigan in August!  Most of the rest of the month was spent biting my nails, being overly excited, preparing the house and packing.  It was a great diversion from loosing my 16 year old gorgeous Himalayan cat, Murphy, who was truly family.

March 2009:  The big month.  Well really only a handful of days were monumental.  March 5th – left for Russia; March 8th – saw Little T again for the first time since her 2nd birthday; March 10th – court! and March 20th – Tatiana got sprung from her baby home!  The rest of the time was spent hanging with cool folks in the Vlad Motor Inn – my props to Rhonda, Lisa & Andrew, Jeanette, Daniela & Chris, Alex & Jason et all for keeping me sane.  Err at least partially sane.  We left Vladivostok on 3/28 and arrived home safely in the US on 3/29!HuhIMG_7429

Previously un-published pictures from the arrival home! 

April 2009:   Spent most of the month getting the little Russian princess adjusted to her new home and life.  Eased back into work and T started daycare.  Tatiana had her first Easter in the US!  IMG_0383 

May 2009:  More adjustment time.  The weather started to get decent so T was able to spend more and more time outside which was so good for her.  She lost her pasty white baby home skin and started transforming into a normal American kid!  Someone got a massive play set in the backyard…IMG_0582 While we had some rough moments… all in all, she was adjusting really well!  A mama couldn’t be more lucky.   We also adopted another kitty from the local shelter.  Casey (aka New-New) was a great addition!  Gramma and Grampa Repp visited from Florida.

June & July 2009 :  A lot happened these two months, yet nothing happened.  We spent the summer around the house mostly, with a couple visitors in and out.  (Joy!)  We swam in the pool (the activity we cannot speak of – for she loves it so much and would like to live in a pool), went to July 4th parades, fireworks and otherwise had a grand time!

IMG_1285 Tati HeartBirthday Photo 1 IMG_1466 

August 2009:  Busy summer continues!  We visited my Aunt Barb for a giant family reunion (Tatiana’s first night away from home or Grammas' house!), we went to the big Lighthouse Michigan gathering and had much excitement around our town (double murder AND a trip to the Little League World Series!). IMG_7647  IMG_7741

September 2009:  Sheesh, isn’t this year over yet?  Or at least this review!  Mama turned 39.  We went to court to file a Delayed Registration of Foreign Birth – and Little Miss T got a US birth certificate! 

IMG_7924 Waiting outside the courtroom for our turn

October 2009:  A bunch of firsts!  Tatiana went to a Pumpkin Patch/Apple Orchard, turned 3 AND had her first Halloween!  We celebrated her birthday AND the anniversary of our first meetingIMG_1798IMG_1958IMG_1818 DSC_0058Picture 052

November 2009:   The holidays were upon us!  Tati celebrated her first Thanksgiving with a giant family celebration in true Clarkson Family tradition (over 60 people!). 

IMG_2173 Making Pumpkin bread

December 2009:  Tati’s first airplane trip since coming home – a trip to Florida to see Gramma and Grampa Repp.  Followed by her first US Christmas (and likely first celebration of the holiday!) and a great week and a half home with mom.  She’s still asking if we can do more presents… ha-ha!

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That’s about it folks!    Thanks to all of you for helping make 2009 such a great year.  One of my other resolutions was to bring my blog to the next level – thanks for your help!   I did make another change and am no longer allowing anonymous comments.  Too much spam.  And to whoever left a message that my recent “articles” are better than older ones… thanks for the compliment – however, this is really a way that I have captured my feelings/emotions and experiences during this crazy ride.  They aren’t articles!  I am glad you are enjoying reading – and yes, I’ll try to keep up the creativity.