Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Echo, Echo, Echo

Man!  It’s sure quiet around here.  I guess it’s been quiet around here because our lives have been exactly the opposite!  I can’t believe the last time I posted was just after Tatiana’s birthday.  Oops!

So what have we been up to that is keeping us so busy, you ask? (Or maybe you didn’t, but if you’re here and still reading, you’re going to find out anyway!)  Let’s see.  First, for all 3 of us, there was Halloween and a tale of Red Riding Hood.  Then, I got buried at work with back to back to back trips.  Ugh.  Suddenly, it was Thanksgiving and shortly thereafter we took a quick trip to Florida to see Grampa and Gramma.  Then this week, Alex had his latest Rite of Boyhood Passage.   Whew.  All caught up?  Ok good. 

Alex’s first Halloween was a huge hit!  He LOVED dressing up.  This year Tatiana was “Little Red Riding Hood” – a costume that mama smartly purchased last year 1/2 off.  Sadly, I think that was my last year to be able to get away with that as she really started to get opinions on what costume she wanted to be as the year went on.  I was able to convince her that “Red” was cool though, because it had a really cool cape and dress.  I found a “wolf” costume for Alex, which was a double bonus because up here in the north, you never know what type of weather you’ll get on October 31st.  In my lifetime, I have seen snow and I have seen 70 degrees.  Crazy.  However, more typically than not, it’s COLD at that time of year, so the wolf costume was the perfect fuzzy warmth for a little guy.  Plus it also hid the sweatshirt, sweatpants combo underneath!  Having two social butterfly children on Halloween, we weren’t able to cover TOO much ground, but trust me when I say there was more than enough candy to go around.  IMG_9067 IMG_9004

Halloween Festivities

I wish I could say that I had the type of job that got quiet near the end of the year.  Not so much.  Not only was there the day to day business to maintain, a year end number to achieve, but add to the mix 2012 planning with a whole mess of customers.   I logged a lot of miles in late October and November!  And even though I am home MOST nights, after a long day of go go go, and get ready for tomorrow’s go go go, I pretty much just want to go go go to bed bed bed.  Thankfully, I can report that as of last week, I made the revised number that I committed to back in September.  HUGE weight off my shoulders. 

Continuing in the line of Alex’s “firsts” – next up was Thanksgiving.  I LOVE Thanksgiving.  Always have.  Always will.  In my family we have a GIANT, massive Thanksgiving.  My grandfather was 1 of 7 boys and all 7 families still get together each year for the gathering.  An average year for us is 75-80 people.  The adults all talk and catch up (where do you start with that many family members to catch up with!) and the kids literally run around and whoop it up.  I did it when I was young and now it’s my kids turn!   This year in attendance were 3 Kindergartners – all from the same school and obviously, from the same family!  Tatiana, her cousin Riley (MY cousin’s daughter) and their cousin Jayden (my Great Uncle Lyle’s great grandson) all go to the same school.  You have got to love a small town.   And even at two years old and only home for just over 6 months, Alex figured out his role, and ran around with the rest of the kids like he had been doing it his whole life.  IMG_8418                       Tatiana with cousin, Mary, at Thanksgiving

WOW!  Almost caught up to present!  Last week, to escape the cold and snow, we hopped a plane and headed to Florida to see my dad.  It’s always good, even for just a couple days, to get away.  I will admit that I wasn’t looking forward to hauling all the belongings of 3 people to the airport, and flying alone with two kids 5 and under.  I used an off site parking service – so I had an extra set of hands with luggage – relief!  To my amazement, both kids were EXTREMELY well behaved on both flights.  In fact, both times the people next to me/behind me said “your kids were SOOO good”.  SHOCK and AWE!  While in Florida, we saw Santa (Tati LOVED him, Alex – not so much);  saw my Aunt Kay/Uncle Dick; went to a bouncy house – big hit; and Tatiana rode her bike (with training wheels) EVERY night – and if I may add, got really good at it!  Loads of fun.

IMG_8579  IMG_8582 

Seeing Santa:  Tatiana (the old pro) and Alex (somewhat hesitant!)Bounce U

Fun at Bounce U

IMG_8534 Riding bikes in Florida!! 

Back in reality this week, Alex completed another rite of passage for boys… STITCHES.  Long story short (who me?  never!), his eyebrow area collided with the lip of the car door.  He couldn’t achieve this feat again if he tried, but yesterday, he did it perfectly.  4 stitches and 3 ER hours later, we were home and he was acting like nothing ever happened.  He’ll probably have a small scar on his eyebrow area to taunt future bullies with, but mama will have a huge lasting scar on her heart having to hold a normally happy go lucky two year old down while someone puts needles in his eyebrow over and over again.  YUCK! 

IMG_8619 Who cried more, Alex or mom?

We’re in the final countdown to Christmas, here.  School sing is done, parties are underway and presents are pretty much a WRAP.  (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)


School Sing

I promise not to be away this long again.  I may have said that in the past… but I really do THINK that I mean it!  We’re engrossed in Christmas festivities now, so bring on the fun!  A couple more firsts on the horizon for Mr. Alex! 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

High Five!

My beautiful girl is 5!

I have been writing this post in my head for a few weeks now.  Part of me really wanted to write a letter to the woman who gave birth to Tatiana and give her an update.  As marvelous as that sounds, from what I know about her birth mother, I highly doubt she's internet surfing.

I have debated the birth mother search for a couple years now.  My final vote is still out on that one.  Maybe some day.  When I think about what I DO know about Tatiana's first month or so, it makes me furious.  I won't share all the details here, because I do believe it's a personal thing - but suffice it to say, my protective mama bear claws come out thinking about her life in October and November of 2006.  The first months were rough for her and it breaks my heart to think of how rough things were.  I think as parents our constant thoughts go to how we can love our children MORE and protect them and keep them safe.  To know that I couldn't do that for her then makes me sad.

If her mother WAS searching the internet and if I COULD talk to her to update her without wanting to punch her in the face, I would say THANK YOU.  Thank you for creating the most wonderfully sweet, smart, sensitive, snuggly, sassy, silly 5 year old I have ever met.
Taken each year on her birthday...

Because her birthday week is also the anniversary of our "meeting", I can't help but think of how she's changed over these past few years.  Physically you can't help but see her growing and thriving.  Mentally and emotionally, she's a different girl.  The girl who barely knew any words - Russian included, when I met her now talks NON-STOP!  The girl who only smiled occasionally has been replaced by a girl who lights up any room she's in with her beaming smiles.  While it's easy for me to be caught under her spell, I had to laugh last Friday during her first Kindergarten parent-teacher conference when her teacher told me, "I just adore her".  Yup.  She's really hard NOT to adore.  Then she told me the news that floored me.  Her teacher said, "developmentally she's the age of someone who is just turning 5".  WHAT?  My little learning sponge is basically caught up to her same age peers.

During Alex's adoption earlier this year, on one of the many days that my friend Sara and I roamed the streets of St. Petersburg, we talked about Russia.  I can't help but think of what either of their lives would have been like had adoption not entered their life stories.  Who knows where live would lead them and where they'd be.  I do know that MY life if better with both of them in it!

Putting all this nostalgia behind us, we had a FABULOUS birthday weekend.  Tatiana loves all things princess -- and Tangled (aka Rapunzel) is one of her favorites.  We had a combination Tangled/Bowling party.  Odd combination, yes, but when you live in a small town, your options are narrow!  The princess and her friends had a BLAST.  There were NO meltdowns (ok, Alex had 1 or 2... but the girls didn't!), no fighting over whose turn it was to bowl and no fits about being tired.  Tati and her friends cheered each other on and generally had a great time.  3 thumbs up!  Happy birthday girl makes for a happy mama!
The "Tangled Cake" - Celebration Day 1!

Making a wish - Celebration Day 2!

She's 5!

Happy 5th Birthday my gorgeous girl!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Worst Became Best

I will never forget October 21, 2008.  In some ways, I can’t believe it was ONLY 3 years ago as it seems like so much longer than that; and in other ways, I remember it as if it were just yesterday. 

My traveling BFF, Rhonda and I (she’s off soon on another adventure to Cambodia – but I digress, typical me!) landed in Vladivostok, Russia the night before, October 20th.  I was traveling to meet my son!   We were greeted at the airport by a translator, Kate and a driver – who spoke no English – Sergei, to meet my long awaited Russian referral – we’ll call him “Baby V”.   I had waited for this moment for months, buying boy clothes, decorating his bedroom – and for the past 3 weeks staring at his picture, imagining HIM in my life. 

In the car on the way to the hotel, Kate translates Sergei’s half of our conversation.  And then I hear those horrible words, “The boy is not good”.  I don’t know if I ever shared here on the blog exactly what was said to me in the car that day – but there it is.  The boy is not good.  

I freaked.   I remember wanting to get out of the car to vomit.  Panic set in.  Wait.  What did you say?  I just traveled for what feel like a week, spent how much money on airfares and burned a very valuable week of vacation time and THE BOY IS NOT GOOD? 

Between jet lag and “the boy is not good” I was a stress MONSTER that night.  I took a Tylenol PM to help me sleep and fell asleep with Rhonda still awake in her bed skyping with her family back at home.  A little while later – in my jet lag, stress induced, Tylenol PM haze, I heard what I can only describe as someone breaking into the room.  I remember yelling at Rhonda “WHAT IS THAT?”.  Ummm that would be her going into the bathroom, and it’s creaky door.  Stress and lack of sleep are NOT a great combination.  She still reminds me of that evening often – HA!  

You can read the details of the morning of October 21st here.  As you obviously know by now, HE became a SHE that day.  My fears of the evening before were confirmed, however in the end – I met THIS face.

 IMG_6807_edited-1 Taken 10/21 – Vladivostok, Russia – One of the 3 pictures I sent home to “Gramma Darlin” who was freaking out for me at home!

And the rest, they say, is history.  Or in this case HERstory!   The worst day of my became the best of my life.   I cannot imagine life without Tatiana.  She makes me laugh everyday.  That shy little girl I met 3 year ago today in Russia is now a gregarious, loving, sweet girl who keeps me in stitches and teaches me as much about life as I do her.  Rough day, but in the end, I wouldn’t change a thank.   Happy Metcha Day, Tatiana! 

IMG_8931 Before school 10/21/11

And tonight, we say a prayer for “Baby V” – who is still listed on the database today.   Bless you, “Baby V”. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Quick Catch Up

Between work, two kids, kindergarten, birthdays, and shortening days… it seems like there is never enough time to get everything done.  Alas, blogging sometimes apparently falls later in line than I hope.  Looking back over the past few weeks, I’ve missed a couple things – they made facebook, sure; but not the blog.  So here’s a quick catch up review.

Kindergarten?  Yup.  You read correctly.  How did I miss posting about Tatiana’s big step toward Kindergarten?  Seriously – someone tell me, because I can’t believe it myself.   When we left school last spring, the plan was for T to enter Young 5’s – however with cut backs in the state, Young 5’s was one of the first things to go.  Don’t get me started on that…  so alas, come September it was off to Kindergarten.  The only other option was back to preschool – which really wasn’t an option.  Intellectually, T is ready for Kindergarten – but socially she’s not quite there yet.  Putting her back with kids as young as 2 1/2 would be fun, but she’d  probably be bored.  And bored kids at school… well, we all know what happens there.  So Kindergarten it is. 

We’ve had some struggles this year – which is new.  Last year she LOVED going to school.  This year parents aren’t allowed to go IN to the school beyond the office in the morning.  This seems to be causing some heartburn for Tatiana.  Some mornings we have tears, some mornings it’s only stalling and feet dragging.  Either way, it’s hard on us both – not sure who it’s harder on though!  (Including Mrs. Armbruster – the secretary!)   She’s also had some issues following directions – which doesn’t surprise me.  Tatiana has always had her own agenda in life. 

Here’s the princess on her first day:

IMG_8842 IMG_8839Ready for school!  And yes, my backpack is still almost as big as me!

Last Friday, as you probably remember, was Alex’s 2nd birthday.  2nd Birthday – 1st party.  All in all – he was a total trooper.  We had the party on Friday evening at the restaurant we always go to – and Alex did well.  It was just family and some close friends.   He didn’t seem to care much about the cake – which is a shocker because UNLIKE his sister, he LOVES sweets.  The older kids were a little slap happy after a long week – and there was lots of running around.  Alex so badly wanted to be one of the big kids – and just wanted to run around too, so cake wasn’t his priority.   Here’s some shots of the evening:

 IMG_8885 IMG_8877 IMG_8898

Hey everybody!  I’m 2!

Finally, in other “anniversaries” of sort – 3 years ago yesterday I received a call and subsequent email matching me with a child in Vladivostok, Russia.  That day I wrote this post.  Most of you know the history – in the end that referral was not meant to be.  I’ll always remember Baby V though, he was a crucial step on path to meet Tatiana. 

I think we’re all caught up now.  At least to the best of my memory!  I am sure there is SOMETHING I forgot… and if there is – I’ll fill you all in later! 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Two Years Ago…

According to my Outlook Calendar, two years ago today I was meeting with retailers in the Central Michigan area, planning some promotions on Chocolate Milk. Exciting times.

Far, far away, in St. Petersburg, Russia, a young woman went into labor on the street. It was a rainy, 60 degree day at the start of fall – not too unlike the weather we’re having here today.  She walked into Maternity Hospital #17 without identification. No passport was provided, only a name, and likely a false one at that. She was 18. She was alone and she was probably scared. There were no parents called, no friends to help her through the delivery. She was by herself, about to give birth.

Who was this girl? That remains a good question. We’ll call her Miss “D”. All signs point to the fact that she was a transplant to St. Petersburg, the 2nd largest Russian city. A city known for it’s beautiful sights and opulent Cathedrals. And tourism. With all of this comes jobs – and people that want them. Along the way, there was a man, or a boy perhaps. Likely a Russian. NOTHING is known about him. Zilch, zip, nada. There are many scenarios that could have played out here, but I like to think of the happier ones. Maybe she found love on the streets of St. Petersburg. It’s a gorgeous, romantic city, so who could blame her?

But at 18, and possibly homeless in a country over-run with poverty, what was a girl to do?

In this beautiful city, on this cool, rainy day, an equally beautiful boy was born. And so began the life of the little boy that we now know as Alexander Thomas Repp. Quietly, without permission, Miss “D” slipped out of the hospital. A few months later, the Ministry of Education would petition the court to remove her from the original birth certificate. Without this step, Alex would never be. He would have remained an orphan until he was somewhere between 16 and 17 and then he would have been put on the streets. And I wouldn’t have known THIS smile.

IMG_8854 Breakfast on my 2nd Birthday

A lot of things in the world aligned to bring little Alex home to Michigan. I am thankful for each step along this path. I’ll probably never find her, but if I could, I’d like to hug Miss “D”. I’d like to let her know that Alex is good. He’s better than good. He’s the sweetest little snuggle boy I’ve ever met. I have a better chance, though, of tracking down the staff that went to court for him. And I may do just that. Someone should know how much their actions are appreciated.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Sometimes it takes hearing REALLY bad adoption stories to make me realize how smooth my ride(s) were.  Yes, we have our rough days:  days when the kids whine too much or mama yells too much; nights with bad dreams, and crying babies.  However, all in all, I am forever thankful for my experiences.  Mostly that my experiences are BEHIND me.  

Please take a moment and read the following blog:

I can only read for so long.  It breaks my heart over and over again.  I CANNOT fathom what these families are going through.  My thoughts and prayers continually go out to these families and the CHILDREN who just need a family.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Hope the Russians Love Their Children Too

10 years ago today the world changed in 102 minutes.  I’d like to say that I don’t remember the events of that dreadful day, but they will be forever burned into my mind.  For my generation, this is the new day that will also live in infamy.  I’ve been to Pearl Harbor and it touched me in ways that I never could begin to describe, but I wasn’t alive and didn’t live through it, live on TV, over and over again. 
I am about to date myself here, but when I was growing up, we were SCARED of the “Russians”.  The USSR was the big bad country that was out to get us.  Even though I was a young teen ager in the 80’s, I distinctly remember going to bed afraid that the Russian’s would start a nuclear war.  What would happen?  Would it be as bad as the movies and TV say it would be?  Why did they hate us so much?  Did Russian teenagers have the same questions?  I can still sing every word of The Police’s song, “Russians”.  As Sting wrote, …”we share the same biology, regardless of ideology.  I hope the Russians love their children too”.  
But things changed.  The Soviet Union fell and suddenly the super power was not as large and looming as it once was. 
The 80’s came to a close and during most of the 90’s I was living in the metro Detroit area.  If you lived in Detroit in the 90’s – you watched hockey, specifically the Red Wings.  During the late 90’s, the Red Wings – featuring a line of all 5 former Soviet players, known as “the Russian 5”, were constantly battling their conference foe, the Colorado Avalanche.  During one particular year’s hockey playoffs, I happened to be flying to Denver for work.  I was seated next to a Denver couple – who were also hockey fans.  There was a game that night, and since 90% of the flight were interested in these playoffs, the pilot would updated us periodically with a score.  That night, the Red Wings were victorious.  The female portion of the Denver couple next to me loudly proclaimed that she could never support a team that employed “Russians”.  It was in this moment that I realized how ridiculous judging an entire country by a few political issues really was. 
The morning of September 11, 2001, I was in my bosses (Ava’s) car traveling to a meeting.  We had the radio off because we were talking and planning for a big upcoming promotion.  The office called Ava’s cell phone and told us what was going on.  For the next week I was glued to any media source I could get my hands on. 
We were at war – and the Russians, who scared me all my life, weren’t involved.  Just like back in the 80’s, and again in the 90’s, it was difficult for me to understand why someone would hate an entire country.  I don’t know if I will ever truly understand that. 
This morning I sit here with my two Russians, who are currently arguing over coloring books in the kitchen.  I am thankful that they don't know yet the sadness of this day or what it means.  I have been to Russia 5 times and would love to see so much more of the beautiful country that is my children’s homeland.  I am thankful that our 80’s issues never became more than lingering lyrics to a song.  I wish I could say the same for September 11th. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

To Snip or Not to Snip?

24 hours after being home from Alex's circumcision surgery, I thought I'd expound a little more on our experience and thoughts. I share this not to be overly morbid, but I know from experience that a circumcision is a big decision for many adoptive families.

To snip or not to snip... that is the question.

When I first started back with my first adoption for Tatiana, if you remember SHE was going to be a HE. Once I made the decision to adopt, I wanted my child home yesterday. The wait for girls is typically longer than for boys, so sure -- I'd sign up for a son. During what seemed like my endless wait through paperwork and then for a referral (looking back, it was no where NEAR endless, but it's always worse in the thick of things), I remember reading that little boys are not circumcised in Russia and that families must choose when they get home if they want to proceed down this road or not. I remember reading the posts of my friends who were adopting little boys, their decisions and then surgery days.

Obviously the path to my first adoption changed quickly, and I could put this decision out of my head. For the time. Then along came Alex. When I started proceeding with adoption #2, the thought jumped back into my head, briefly. It wasn't until our first night together at the hotel that it became REAL. Whoa!! Nelly!! Decision time.

I talked with friends on both sides of this debate. I also spoke with some friends who are nurses. In the end, while everyone had great opinions and - honestly, it was my medical friends who helped the decision for me. They weren't telling me what to do by ANY means. Decision made.

First, we had to get a referral for a Pediatric Urologist from Alex's doctor. UGH. I hate the red tape of the medical world. Imagine my surprise that the closest one was over an hour away. Double UGH. We met with Dr R back in June. More surprises were in store when I heard that the wait for surgery was 6 to 8 weeks! Triple UGH. But, scheduled we did - and the date was set for yesterday, August 23rd. And to make it even more interesting, we had 2 hospital choices -- and yes, also over an hour away. If you're keeping count... that's a fourth UGH. Sometimes, it's a pain living in the sticks.

Lots of my parental friends, adoptive or not, have faced surgeries for their kids. And I always hear it's harder on mom and dad than it is the child. This is quite possibly true!

The challenge started with our surgery time. I had requested MULTIPLE times not to be first in the morning since we were facing a drive. Well, they heard me loud and clear because they didn't schedule Alex until after 1pm! They told us to arrive at 1pm -- so that means surgery was scheduled for AFTER that. Great, right? Well... in theory. However, try explaining to a 23 month old child that he can't eat ALL morning or lunch. After midnight the night before, no food. Because of the late hour of surgery, I woke him up @ 11:15 and gave him some Greek yogurt, strawberries and a bottle of Pediasure. His tummy was FULL! He was also allowed to have clear liquids until 9am, so when he woke up he had a small glass of apple juice. Tatiana was whisked off to daycare so she could eat without torturing her brother, and I put him in his crib in the guise of a "nap" so I could sneak off and have some toast and yogurt of my own.

We found the hospital with no issues - in fact we were early. They brought us in pretty quickly and all of a sudden Alex was in his gown and admitted. The Anesthesiologist came in and asked a bunch of questions and it seemed like he'd be taken any minute. And then the waiting started... after she left, we saw no one for a hour and a half! (another huge UGH) The little guy's procedure before Alex with the Urologist went MUCH longer than expected. Got it. But please, people, for the sake of a mama's sanity, COMMUNICATE! It was hard to keep a very hungry 23 month old entertained in a pre-op room for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Honestly, Alex was a total trooper and the hardest thing I had to deal with was keeping him relatively quiet from his giggling!

Finally, it was go time. Because of all the hurry up and wait, I really had no time to get nervous. Suddenly my little boy was being wheeled away. He started to pout and cry, but a very sweet nurse got him babbling about something (literally, since he has so few words!) and he was distracted enough.

Between finding a place for mama to get something to eat, updating some family and friends, and catching up on the news of an east coast earth quake (what? really?), the hour passed by pretty quickly and soon Dr R was out to provide an update. By the time I finally got let in to see Alex, I was the lone waiting room occupant.

He was wheeled back in and basically looked like he was still waking up from a nap. One of the nurses called Alex a "her". Really? HE looks nothing like a girl, and aside from being surprised, I have issues with caretakers in a hospital who don't know their patients gender (especially when the patient just had surgery on his obviously male genitals!!). Alex was a little groggy and just wanted to snuggle. He fussed now and then, but was mostly just tired and hungry. Around 4:15 the poor boy finally got some snacks and milk. The pharmacy brought up his prescription and started calling out for "Thomas Repp" (Alex's middle name) and I swear in all my tiredness etc. I literally looked around for my dad (Alex's middle name is after my dad).
We were on the road near 6pm and headed for home. Gramma Darlin brought sister home and I had to send Alex packing for bed soon after that because the little stinker wouldn't settle down! He was SO excited to see sister and Gramma that he got VERY wound up! I guess he felt just fine!

Dr R had explained that he had (sorry for the men reading this...) an injection in his penis before they woke up him up to help fend off the pain. It would last about 8 hours - and sure enough, around 1am Alex woke up with some tears. He had a dosage of some medicine and brought to mama's bed. When he woke up this AM, no more tears -- he's been all smiles, all day. The tape bandage was supposed to fall off in the first tub soaking, but when I took off his diaper to get ready for the bath tonight -- it had already fallen off in his diaper. Huge relief for mama! I didn't want to have to pull that off!!

So all in all, a relatively painless couple days. A bunch of stress for not much of a deal. For those of you who have this choice to make in the future -- I hope this helped out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Snip Snip Here, Snip Snip There...

That's how we laugh the day away in the merry old land of Oz...

Sorry, couldn't resist. And after you hear what we've been up to - you'll think that was crass and completely inappropriate. However... it describes what we did this week! Well at least some of it... probably the biggest part.

But first, on the fun side, Gramma Darlin and I took the chance to escape Michigan before summer officially came to an end and Tatiana has to go back to school. In Michigan it's a state law that public schools cannot start until AFTER Labor Day - so technically we have a couple more weeks, but the clock was ticking. Gramma Darlin had to go to Sandusky, Ohio for a project she's working on, so we took the opportunity to take the kids to Kalahari - the largest indoor water park. Surprise -- Tatiana LOVED it. Surprise again, Alex - not so much. He finally loosened up a little on day #2, outside when he found the water sprays. With a safari theme, they also have some animals there -- so we took the time (and spent the $$) to feed the giraffes, zebras, lemurs and birds. Tatiana and I have firmly agreed that we need a giraffe for our backyard.

Alex gets into the fun at Kalahari...
Water baby as ever -- Tatiana @ Kalahari
Alex feeds the parakeets
I think there is a giraffe stalking me...
Alex had a BLAST feeding the animals!

Now on to the not so fun side... today was Alex's big boy surgery. Yup... we did it. The circumcision. I know this can be a debate for some parents, but at the end of the day, the pros FOR circumcision outweighed the odds. Alex was a trooper during the whole procedure and in true Alex fashion... he charmed the nurses and staff with his flirting. He was totally back to his normal self by the time we got home - so much so that I had to send him to bed promptly at 8pm so he didn't get too wild and crazy while playing with his sister. His pain injection lasts until 11 or 12 tonight, so hopefully he'll sleep through the night with no issues and I can continue the pain meds in the morning.

Waiting for them to come take me...
Playing peek a boo with mama... anything to kill time!
After surgery - pouty boy!

Hopefully your week is uneventful and painless!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fate and an Anniversary...

It's Saturday night. Alex, Tatiana and I are in a hotel, celebrating a weekend of adoption with the annual Lighthouse Adoptions picnic. I LOVE this gathering. Wouldn't miss it for the world. And this weekend, it's even more of a celebration for Tatiana and I. Tomorrow marks the EQUAL point of days spent IN the baby home/hospital and days with mama. This is always milestone in adoption as it's nice to think that time can heal some of the wounds that were opened in those early days, alone without a mama.

I can't believe how time has flown by. It seems like just yesterday I was just making contact with Lighthouse. Just yesterday I was thinking about the little one I'd bring home. And tonight? I am getting ready to celebrate my daughter's equal time out of the baby home mark. Hard to fathom!

The road to this moment wasn't always smooth, and it wasn't always picture perfect. However, I truly believe that fate took a hand in putting Tati and I together. Three years ago this summer, I was waiting for a little boy referral from Moscow. In my heart I always wanted a little girl, but I also have the patience of a gnat. When first speaking with Lighthouse, the wait for a little girl was long. Russia was just slowly getting back up to speed with adoptions after the "Great Re-accrediation" of 2008, and there were LOTS of families in line for little girls. For little boys? Not so much. So knowing that I couldn't control gender if I was giving birth, I figured, sure, why not! A little boy would be dandy.

Suddenly that summer Moscow City closed to singles -- and another door opened. Vladivostok. FAR, far away from Moscow. Heck -- I couldn't even pronounce it correctly for about the first 3 weeks. While out to dinner one night, my mom brought me a magazine she received in the mail. The magazine had NOTHING to do with adoption or travel, but had a map inside with 1 major city highlighted - VLADIVOSTOK. Surely, it was a sign.

So off to Vlad it was. My referral for a little guy came in and I traveled in October of 2008. All the gorey details are in the blog from during that time -- and I don't hide anything that happened, but suffice it to say, the sweet face that came in my referral was not meant to be. The IA doc who analyzed his file pointed out a "yellow flag" that could turn into a "red flag" but unfortunately more information was needed to judge that. The kind of information that you'd likely need to find out in person. And I did. Heartsick, I was told there was another child at the same baby home that I could see if I was willing to consider a girl. Willing? Ummm sure! Before I knew who she was, I saw her on the playground and fell in love instantly. When I was told that was her, I think my friend Rhonda cried harder than I did, but I knew instantly that we were a match. Without that sweet "yellow flag" referral, I never would have gotten to Vladivostok to meet my little T. Some say circumstance. I say fate.

While we've our bumps and bruises along the way, I wouldn't change a thing. Thank you fate!

The "house" (or family) that Lighthouse built!!
Tatiana - playing at the Lighthouse picnic
Party in the hotel! New jammies from Gramma and Grampa!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

When the Livin is Easy...

We've had a busy couple weeks... so much so that I'll use this as my excuse as to why once again I am behind on updates. Yup! That works. Busy!

I LOVE summer. The weather has been divine: hot, hot and more hot. The perfect weather for days at the pool. My daughter the fish seems to have picked up my love for summer as well. She could live in the pool, so I guess that would lend itself to a passion for the heat! It's not that I don't like fall, spring and winter; I really enjoy living where we have 4 distinct seasons. I am not sure that I could have it any other way. Life without a white Christmas? I think NOT!

So other than hanging out at the pool, we've enjoyed Saturday mornings at the library for story time, grilling out and now the onslaught of fabulous fresh fruits and veggies that have started pouring into the Farmers Market. Summer life is GOOD!

July was a busy month - specifically for Alex and mama. Alex got his 2nd haircut, applied for and received his social security number, opened a bank account and got MORE vaccinations. We also took his Russian Birth Certificate and Adoption Certificate to the County Courthouse and filed a "Delayed Registration of Foreign Birth". This is Michigan's version of re-adoption, in a way. Translation: After a 15 minute court appearance with a very nice judge (the same that did Tatiana's!) on his FINAL day of work before retirement, we have the paperwork to send to the state to get his US Birth Certificate. Necessary? Not 100%... however, when you show people a Russian Birth Certificate they tend to look at you like you have 5 heads. This will make things like Little League and school registration a little easier. Additionally, if it's ever lost... I don't have to wonder how I'll get back to St. Petersburg, Russia to replace it.

The last step will be to apply for his US Passport. Does an almost 2 year old need a US Passport right now? When you live 30 minutes from Canada -- pretty much! Plus... it WILL be necessary when we go on our CRUISE next spring from Tampa to Cozumel! You read that right! Mama and the two kidlets will be cruising next spring! We're going with my friend Yvonne and her two kids, Rhonda and possibly Rhonda's daughter and ANYONE else that wants to cruise with us! We got a GREAT deal for the week after Easter (Thursday - Monday) on a Jr Suite on Carnival - who is known for their kids club. My friend Sara's daughter ranks her cruise HIGHER on the vacation scale than Disney. Seriously! So a cruising we will go!

Tomorrow is Gramma Darlin's Birthday. If you ask Tatiana, she'll tell you how old Gramma is -- because she'll ask ANYONE she meets, "how old are you?". It's her question of the past few months - replacing, "What's your name". This question came to a slow when we started discussing not talking to strangers. However, the challenge now is that she'll announce to someone, "You're a stranger". Makes for interesting conversation in the grocery line... let me tell you.

That wraps up our July. Now for the part you've been waiting for... pictures!!

Waiting to go to court for "Delayed Registration of Foreign Birth"
Tatiana came up with this outfit all by herself... we call it Cinderella Easter Bunny
Guess who is 22 months now? Yup! Alex!
Ashley, Riley & Tatiana at the Lexington, MI Harbor
When the tub is too scary... the sink might work!
Music in the Park: Ashley and Tatiana waiting for the ABBA Tribute band
Little Miss Fish - in the pool as usual!
Alex's first cake -- Gramma's birthday cake!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Like Grandfather.... Like Grandson?

I shared this recently on facebook... on the left (obviously) is Alex and on the right is my dad. See any resemblance?

Friday, July 8, 2011

First Fourth & Fabulous Fun

As usual, I am way behind in posting. And as usual, I have written and rewritten this post 10 times in my head. In my head, I am much more eloquent, by the way.

We had a FABULOUS first Fourth of July for Alex. Technically, I prefer the words "Independence Day", but it was much more fun sounding with a bunch of "f's". I LOVE Independence Day. Next to Christmas, it's one of my favorite holidays. There's SO much to do! The trouble with Independence Day is that there is TOO much to do. We had to pass up a couple of invites that I would have liked to have participated in, but alas there is only so much time in the day. Additionally, I just wasn't ready for the full on road trip with Alex. Even though it seems like he's been here forever, yesterday was only the marking of the end of month #2. Hard to believe!

We: watched a great parade, swam a ton in the pool, watched some nice fireworks, grilled steaks on the grill, played with cousins and friends and generally wore ourselves out. Alex made HUGE strides at the pool this weekend, Gramma Darlin got him to sit by the side and splash his feet around without crying!

Post Independence Day, I seem to have caught a lovely summer cold/sinus troubles. I woke up Tuesday morning feeling literally like a truck ran over me. M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E. Thankfully Alex and Tati seem to be avoiding mama's germ path.

Also, like many of you, I have been following the Casey Anthony trial, closely. I have always been fascinated by "true crime" and the "whodunits". However, this case hit a little closer to home. Three years ago, when little Caylee Anthony went missing and the story first unfolded into the press, I was waiting for Tatiana to come home. It was so hard for me to watch, knowing I was fighting to bring this beautiful girl home from the other side of the world - and here this girl couldn't even report her daughter missing. I am horrified and deeply saddened by this week's outcome. But enough of that...

On to the picture parade... and yes, before you say it: they have WAY too many "Red, White and Blue" outfits. But when you have two non American born citizens, can you ever have too many celebration outfits?

Alex @ his first July 4th Parade...
Two American Citizens, sister & brother
Reading with her "Tag Jr" reader...
Gramma and Grampa sent me this outfit...
Even my cup is Red & Blue, mom! Enough!
Riley and Tati jumping into the pool - two fishy cousins...
Alex's preferred pool position... relaxing in the shade
Queen of the swings
Suddenly this little boy looks like he's getting big!