Friday, December 31, 2010

Zinashi Has Something to Say

And she'd like to say it a lot of times:

Zinashi Fashion

New Year's Eve 2010


Capri jeans, shoes, and socks by Target
Shirt (featuring magnolias!) by Old Navy
Leg warmers by BabyLegs
Cardigan by Gymboree
Headband by Goody
Bows from Forever 21

Thursday, December 30, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: We Apologize for the Delay

Perhaps you thought, "Oh, it's Christmas week; everyone is so busy. Mary and Zinashi probably didn't make it to see Old Lady Mary." No way! I make a point of proving Mary's suspicions wrong, and one of her suspicions is that some Tuesday I'll just not show up. Her favorite potential reason I won't show is that I will go out of town and not tell her. This has never happened in the past, but still! She must be vigilant! I might not show up, and she wouldn't have worried enough about it before it happened! She will probably hold onto that suspicion for the rest of her life, but I still keep trying, just like I still keep trying to get her to notice my outfit now that someone far more attractive accompanies me each week.

tuesday, december 29, 2010

Of course she didn't notice a thing that I was wearing, but it's not like I was knocking it out of the park with that get-up. I really just wanted to look okay and be fairly comfortable. So voila. Zinashi, on the other hand, got a lot of attention for both her shirt and her tights, plus the fact that she was wearing shorts in the wintertime, heaven forbid just about made OLM's head explode. Delightful! While Mary doted on Zinashi, I got to do fun things like flushing the toilet to make sure it works properly (yep, still works, just like last week, and the week before that, and the week before that) and collecting the recycling. At least I have a purpose, even if that purpose is no longer has anything to do with looking like a model in Mary's eyes. I'm starting to accept and move on, but not to yoga pants. Maybe just mom jeans.

I kid. I like getting dressed up cute every single day that I leave the house, so I won't quit, at least not yet. I don't have enough yoga pants or mom jeans to make that happen.

In other non-OLM-related news, Christmas week has been super busy for us, and we're just treading water now to get through the balance of the week. We're planning to get back to our regular posting schedule (including Ababi Mondays, which I know you missed sorely this week) as soon as we hit 2011. As always, we are so grateful to have you all along for the ride, and we hope you have had a sweet and wonderful holiday season.

See you next year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Auto Draft

Three Months of the Three of Us

Three months ago today, this fabulous thing happened:

We couldn't be happier. Everywhere we go, people are charmed by her. They tell us that she's a joy, that they've fallen in love with her, that she's just perfect. We couldn't agree more. Sometimes I wonder how it is we got so lucky, but I think I know the answer to that. It's because we said yes. Because we saw a photo on a website and said, "Forget the baby plan; we want this to be our daughter." All we did was say yes. And that was enough. I'll borrow this quote from Melissa Faye Green's blog; she borrowed it from Goethe, so I think it's fair.

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.

The evening we requested to view Zinashi's file, I laid in bed and quietly freaked out. I wondered just what I'd been thinking to make the request. I tried to comfort myself by repeating quietly, "We don't have to accept. Calm down." But that didn't do it. I crept into the living room to look at her photo again, and I knew. This was it. We could surely walk away and go back to our original plan, but I knew that I wanted to say yes. I recognized it for the choice it was; no one would judge us if we looked at the file and walked away. But that night, in front of my computer screen, I made the choice. We were in it to win it, as they say, and all that remained was confirmation that we could view the file at all. Our hearts said yes at that moment, and you know the rest. All doors opened for us, and even the thing I wanted so badly--to have her with us the whole time we were in Addis--came to pass without me even having to ask. It all started with saying yes, with committing ourselves to her without knowing anything much about her except that the look in her eyes grabbed me and wouldn't let go. And so we grabbed onto her with our hearts and didn't let go.

The court paperwork that pronounces us her parents says September 29, but the moment we held her in our arms on September 27 will always be the day we honor as the day we truly became a family. And so today we celebrate three months together--three glorious, heartbreakingly beautiful months. We are so very grateful to have the honor to be her family. I can't imagine what life would be like had we not said yes, and I don't care to. We are so blessed and lucky.

taking the awesome right up to the next level
Zinashi chose to commemorate the occasion by sleeping in her sunglasses.

In honor of our three month anniversary, we are offering a little something to one lucky winner. Yep, it's our own Finding Magnolia giveaway!

it's a giveaway!  WOW!
Say WHAT?! AWESOME!! Look what you get!!

If you choose to play along, you'll receive a Finding Magnolia shirt in the color and size of your choice, a Finding Magnolia tote bag in the color of your choice, and a set of our handmade note cards. Because a bag needs something to fill it, we're also throwing in a copy of There is No Me Without You. To enter, simply leave us a comment telling us about something you've said yes to that changed your life for the better. Big or small, it doesn't matter. You have until midnight on New Year's Eve to enter, and until forever to tell us your story. We can't wait to hear from you.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

(We Hope You Had a) Merry Christmas (Because We Did, and We Like to Share the Love)

After a long day of holiday merriment, Zinashi had a bath and was changing into her pajamas when, with one arm still out of a sleeve, she launched into a long, enthusiastic story. We just let her talk and talk and talk and talk. At the end, we compared notes and both thought that she had just told us the story of when we met her. The story was full of noises and gestures and lots of car horns honking and Mami and Ababi and HUUUUUG! It seemed like she was telling us a story that she likes, and if it indeed was the story of the day we met, then that does my heart a world of good. That day is among the happiest in my memory, and I hoped it would be the same for her, but never expected it.

This day was full of good gifts, but nothing so good as hearing my daughter tell a story with a sparkle in her eyes. Having her as my daughter is by far the best gift I have ever received, Christmas or otherwise. And I must confess that my favorite part of Christmas wasn't the toys she loved or the time spent with family, but the moment she whispered to me, bed, and we laid down together, all snuggled up with her new bear and the little Olivia toy that she got in her stocking. It didn't take her long to drift off, for those curled eyelashes to sink like the setting sun, her arm still wrapped tightly around her bear.

all christmased out

To me, the story of Christmas is a story of mystery and wonder, of something big and grand settling into this world in the most humble and unlikely of places. Looking at my daughter, I felt like I knew that wonder intimately and personally. I think I will feel it every Christmas as I watch her grow, and I will ever be thankful for the mystery and wonder of the gift of her.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Welcome to Our New Blog Home

Did you notice anything...different?  Did you type in one URL and find yourself somewhere else entirely?  Congratulations, you've been redirected to our new blog home.  For Christmas, we got you more photos, a list of resources, and a place holder for all the blogs we think you should be reading.  We hope you like our new digs!  Please feel free to let us know if there's anything else you'd like to see here.  We look forward to rounding out the holiday season with you and having a rockin' 2011 here at Finding Magnolia.  But first, Zinashi has something she'd like to say to you:

Christmas Eve Morning

We'd like to help you get your day started off on the right foot.

the reflection of christmas lights in snowman glasses

crazy eyes!

yes, that is a frankenstein bib

You are smiling now, yes?

Merry Christmas Eve. From Zinashi, her new snowman sunglasses, and our very dirty house. May your day be full of pleasantries.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Maybe the Grinch Can Steal Our Christmas; It's Not Like Zinashi Needs the Toys

Today was better than yesterday. No one asked Zinashi to share her toys, and in fact, some indulgent mother bought her four new toys at Target. Oh, calm down. They were in the dollar section, and they are cute and wooden, and they all go together as a little set. Sort of. There are three parts of a train that hook together and then an airplane, which she wanted to sleep with at naptime. And I know, I know, I know, Christmas is in two days, and she'll be getting lots of toys from relatives, but...yeah. When it's something so small and she gets so excited about it, I figure it's not the end of the world. We are just figuring out her taste, and it turns out that the one thing I didn't buy for her is in one of her top three toy categories. She has dolls to dress and undress and feed and pretend to bathe, and she has lots of books, and frankly, I had no idea she would love vehicles so much. So there they were, and they were a dollar each, and I was like, "You know what? YES. Which engine do you like better, the green or the red?" (Red.) She designated one train car to be a gift for Ababi, but it is unclear as of yet whether she meant to give the rest to him or just one car. I'm not pressing for clarification, especially when she pushes the whole thing around the house for half an hour without wanting my help. I will take the opportunity to do something all by myself, thank you very much.

girl in a tutu, brand new train

I'll spend the free time I earned with that purchase just sitting here, eating kettle corn and missing Ethiopia sorely. I don't even know why or what for or anything at all except I feel an ache for it, and when I was looking at photos from our trip this evening, I very nearly started crying. So let's all move there, okay? We can have really good macchiatos every morning and find that our pants fit better than ever despite a decided lack of fresh vegetables in our diets.

Or we can just stay here and have Christmas. I'm not sure which you'd pick, but my socks resemble those of the Grinch, so I'm sure you can guess which side of the fence I'm sitting on.

(The side that has no presents wrapped and has to figure out how to make cranberry sauce out of dried cranberries.)

(Bah humbug.)

(And goodnight.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's Going is How It's Going

I've read so many places that you shouldn't evaluate anything about your new family for six months, that now I have no idea who said it first. Was it a professional? I sure hope so, because I am taking those words to heart a lot of the time now. And using them as a reminder, really. On days like today, in particular. Zinashi was asked to share her toys at home today, and it didn't go well. She, um, threw a magnetic hippo photo holder. Not at someone, thank heaven, but in frustration that another kid was touching her stuff. My friend, who was here with her son, assures me that it's common at Zinashi's age, and of course I wonder what effect suddenly having your own things has on a small person who has had nothing of her own before now. Do you think it might make the possessiveness a bit more intense? Will I ever stop wondering if what she is experiencing is typical or due mostly to her recent trauma or due entirely to her life circumstances? Probably not.

And right now, honestly, we've not yet made it to the three-months-as-family/two-months-home mark. It's all still so new. Should I expect so much of her so soon? Or, honestly, of myself and Jarod as fledgling parents? I think no. Which is not to say that we don't make clear how we behave in our family, and that we don't, as Zinashi's parents, strive to be respectful and gentle in all our dealings with our little lovely, but just that maybe I could be gentler in my assessment of how it's going. It's going fine for two months in. So she doesn't understand that no one will take her toys from her house without her permission; okay, fine. It's understandable. So she is having a harder time behaving herself these days; also, fine. We are overwhelmed by the holidays, even though there hasn't been a ton to do. Well, scratch that. Three holiday gatherings last weekend alone is a ton to do. And we'll have the same this weekend. That's a lot of extra stimulation for our small girl. It will do me good to remember that, and to be gentler, and to be kinder, and to hold her tighter when she asks me to rock her to sleep.

These months will pass, and all too quickly. As much as I wish us on the other side of Christmas, not to mention on the other side of our first six months, there is a lot to savor now. Especially the aforementioned rocking her to sleep. I have a feeling that will disappear long before I'm ready. Long, long before I'm ready.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: And After That, I Put on Some Jersey Knits

This morning, I had a slow start (like every morning, really, but this time I didn't bother to rush at the end), and Jarod took his moped to work, leaving before I was all dressed for Old Lady Mary, so we were without a photographer. No matter, I thought, Nicole is going to meet us at OLM's, and I'll ask her to take the photo! Except that I'd missed the call that was Nicole saying she wouldn't make it today, and left the house without so much as taking a mirror photo of the two of us. We arrived at OLM's, took in all the stuff we'd gotten her both for Christmas and as regular groceries, and proceeded to have a nice chat, during which she admired Zinashi's look over and over again and did not notice anything at all about my outfit. Well, except that I wasn't wearing my coat (same song, same dance, stuck on repeat), which I had stashed beneath the stroller so that Zinashi and I could walk in only wearing our holiday finery. The visit went swimmingly, and Mary loved the card with Zinashi's photo on it, as well as the small bird ornament and giant package of cinnamon danishes we'd brought her. She exclaimed over Zinashi's headband and her fancy plaid dress and her sweater! The sweater was exclaimed over several times. In fact, the only part that didn't go well was my daughter leaving her headband on. I figured I could threaten ciao chocolate* and get her to put it back on long enough for a photo on the premises, but she wouldn't last long after that. So as soon as the visit was through, I asked her to put the headband on and stand in front of the Christmas tree in the lobby. She obliged, sort of.

tuesday, december 21, 2010

I like the weird grimace at all, but I thought I'd at least try for a smile, and when I requested one, she decided to point to her teeth.

tuesday, december 21, 2010

Yes, Zinashi, those are what you use to smile with, but that's not a smile. What? You'd rather not smile? Okay, fine. Wait, what? You want to take a picture? Okay, great. Can you take a picture of Mami for the internet?

tuesday, december 21, 2010

Legs and shoes, and then a few photos of her finger in front of the lens. Let's try again! I'll crouch down.

tuesday, december 21, 2010

Good enough! Let's go! What do you mean MORE!?? Oh, all right, one more.

tuesday, december 21, 2010

And from there she proceeded to take about twelve more photos of her finger in front of the lens. For the record, she thinks they're all fantastic.

For the record, I think she's fantastic. Not that you didn't already know that. She went on to charm everyone in the lobby and the majority of people doing holiday food shopping at Whole Foods. Well done, little cricket, well done.

She chose to wear her dress to sleep in for her nap, and I rocked her to sleep wearing mine, but it didn't take me long to change for a workout and decide to slip into something more comfortable afterwards. I am now transformed from Vintage LBD Mom into Yoga Pant Mom. But it can't be helped; I'm not going to scrub the crusted over scrambled egg pan wearing something so cute. At least, not this time.

*When Zinashi is being a little bit naughty, our current useful tool is to take away something she likes. When we first met, she said ciao instead of good-bye, and so it stuck within our discipline system. This morning she decided to hit the cat immediately upon waking, and her brand new big machina, her bear, and Baby Coco all had to ciao**. Such is life, and guess who has been very nice to the cat ever since?

**Actually, only the big machina would have had to ciao, but she also bit Ababi and refused to say she was sorry (to Ababi or to the cat) for a short period of time***, thus three of her prized possessions exited to the coat closet. She has been asking about them all day. I doubt she'll begin her day by hitting the cat tomorrow.

***So much for your impression of our girl as an angel, huh? She's a three-year-old. What can we do? You know, aside from making it clear that hitting the cat and biting Ababi are unacceptable? Nothing, really. We love her regardless and think that she's a very good girl.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ababi Mondays: Looking back

Mary and I have been thinking a lot about this site and about those of you who read it. From your responses it seems like there are a number of people that get a lot out of our story and that is very encouraging for us. Coming this Christmas Eve we are going to make the next big step in this site and hope that all of you get more encouragement and support out of what is provided here.


Mary and I have both traveled internationally a fair amount and so far one of the best experiences we've had on a flight has been with Ethiopian Airlines. The plane was very well kept and fairly new compared to some that we've taken to Europe and the staff was always very friendly and welcoming. The only downside was the 18hr on plane time from Dulles to Addis Ababa. Well when they announced that with their new Boeing 777 they were cutting 3hrs off the time we were both really wishing we could go, then they slashed prices and now are offering this deal...

Really, if you have even been thinking about heading to Ethiopia, this is a great deal and I would encourage you to take it.

** Ethiopian Airlines did not pay us for this post, but if they wanted to we'd be opening to accepting it!


Since seeing the airline deal got me thinking about going back to Ethiopia, I decided to share a few pictures that highlight life in Addis Ababa. Enjoy.



Originally uploaded by concertman

Saturday, December 18, 2010

And the Official Zinashi Holiday Card Photo is...

Photo 1!

christmas classic

Thanks to everyone who voted. This was so fun that we'll probably ask for your help again for other pressing matters that require that a decision be made.

Happy Holidays!

PS--Jarod is totally bummed that no one voted for his photo. He worked so hard to get the perfect smile! Poor Jarod.

Friday, December 17, 2010

This is My Late Night Confession, Brought to You by That 6pm Cup of Coffee

Our daughter's first English word was glasses. I wear disposable lenses, and I'd brought a new pair of contacts with me to put in once we reached Ethiopia, but had kept my old pair in for the flight. I figured it would be good to start fresh. And then Zinashi was with us before I remembered to change, and I was worried that she would find it strange that the new mom-lady was suddenly wearing glasses, so I made a big deal of explaining that I was wearing glasses like Ababi was wearing glasses and blah, blah, blah (I'm sure that's what she heard), suddenly she looked at me and whispered, glasses. Small and sweet and perfect, before she had her full voice and volume. When I put in the contacts later that day, she seemed curious about where my glasses went. I had no idea how to explain contacts in Amharic, so I just pointed to my bag, where I had indeed stowed the glasses.

After that day, I didn't wear my glasses again. I can sleep in my contacts just fine, so I do, and it's just much easier that way. I wore that same pair of lenses the whole time we were in Ethiopia (aside from that first day), and when I got home, I didn't think to take them out right away, even though a month had passed. Pretty soon I developed a strange attachment to them. These were the lenses through which I saw Ethiopia, through which I looked at my daughter as she got comfortable with us, through which I saw our homecoming and so many of Zinashi's firsts. I know it's odd, and that these lenses are not my eyes, and that it's a little bit yucky to leave them in so long, but...I just couldn't remove them. Tonight I finally cried uncle when they were all dried out and cloudy, and my eyes were starting to itch. I'm wearing my glasses, the same glasses that prompted our daughter's first English word, and so I guess that's all right. She'll see me in them in the morning, before I slip in the fresh contacts I've got waiting for me, and be excited.

Now, if I can just bring myself to throw away the old lenses. I'm pretty sure it would be creepy to keep them, wouldn't it?

I mean, wouldn't it?

Somebody better say yes, or I'll end up squirreling them away in a tiny jewel box or something.

(Gross, Mary. GROSS.)

This is Becoming an Introvert Mom Series or Something, So I Hope You Like It

Also titled: Adoption, Attachment, and the Introvert: Part Three

It turns out that when you lift your child, carry your child, and wrestle your child into mittens from time to time, it does not, in fact, work out all your arm muscles. I know that now that I have not-so-triumphantly returned to working out. Today. And my arms already hurt. What will tomorrow be like, do you think? Will I be able to steer the car to make it to the holiday gathering we are expected to attend? Maybe.

It struck me today as I was tying my workout shoes that I give a lot of thought to my daughter's readiness for new tasks, but not to mine. I mean, I might toss around "being able to do (fill in the blank)" or "not ready to (fill in the blank again)," but the truth is that I'm not very purposeful about observing my own limits. Thus, I often find myself feeling rushed and overwhelmed. This didn't occur to me until I realized that the only area of my life in which I've learned to observe readiness is when it comes to whatever exercise I happen to be doing, and the only reason I am so observant is that I've learned the hard way how to honor my own physical limits. Years of running marathons (specifically this marathon) and a follow-up of yoga gave me a good sense of what my body can handle, how to read the cues and respond accordingly. But somewhere along the way I missed the part about observing what my mind and my emotions and my spirit can handle. I end up expecting a lot of myself and experience a pendulum swing between pushing too hard, too soon, and not pushing at all, unable to settle in the middle.

But I think this takes practice. It took years of practice to know my limits with running, to be able to accept my own body's capabilities in yoga (this is an extra special challenge for those of us born with limited flexibilty, for while others are folding themselves into origami shapes, we are simply trying to touch our toes and feel good about that), so it follows that the same would be true for the rest of my person. And when I am in relationship with others, be it with my daughter or my husband or extended family and friends, it lends a complexity that takes practice on all our parts before we can honor our limits and our capabilities.

One thing that struck me this week as I found myself yearning to exercise, was that exercise--the very thing that teaches me to honor my "edge" as they put it in yoga--is what also helps me to honor my edge in my relationships. As an introvert, I crave solitude and space to recharge. I need a feeling of being separate sometimes. So while wearing my daughter on long walks gives a physical workout and gives her something she needs, it misses the component of giving me a feeling of where I stop and others begin. It lacks the boundary I need as a person, and in particular as an introvert. So while it's an excellent bonding tool, and might be a nice supplement to other physical activity, it just won't cut the mustard as way to help restore my sanity.

The problem up to this point is that I simply wasn't ready to exercise aside from carrying my daughter, and I knew that, and honored that, but didn't take into account that my lack of readiness to exercise would mean that I needed to either find my boundaries in other ways or just accept the higher-than-usual level of tension. Either would have worked, but the former would probably have been better. Like so many new parents, I was just trying to make it through to the next task on the next day and remember to put my groceries in the freezer and pay my bills, so I didn't give much thought to this. Now I know better for next time. Of course I say that in hindsight, with one good workout behind me, and confidence that this really will work with our life as a family. I say that with endorphins rushing through my body, with the re-found sense of where my boundaries lie.

It feels good to have moved forward one more step. It feels easier to be the kind of mother I want to be to my daughter. It feels like there is hope and promise because if I can fit in what I haven't been able to fit in for months, who knows what I'll be ready to add in next? Frankly, I'm hoping it will be something along the lines of organizing the basement properly.

A mom can dream, right?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Making it Work

When it comes right down to it, we do whatever we can to make things work for our families. What I do might not work for you, and vice versa. But we still all like to tell each other what we do and why it's the best thing ever. Some things that are the best thing ever for others aren't the best thing ever for us, but sometimes they really work out. I hope that some of the suggestions I've received in the comments here will pan out for me. I'd love to be able to run again--or exercise at all, really--and to get more done while my daughter sleeps. I think we've begun to hit the mark with getting her to sleep at night, so that second bit becomes more of a reality each night. Our success started with treating the giardia a second time, and now it's all about accepting and letting go. Our daughter is both slow to adapt (meaning that, exactly like me, she needs time to transition from one activity to another) and sensitive (to light, noise, touch). According to this book, our daughter's particular personality traits put her in the hardest-to-get-to-sleep category.

Well, duh.

So I'm accepting that, and making allowances, and it's going well. I'm making a concerted effort to have only one time of day be busy, whether it be morning or afternoon, and have the rest of the day to just chill out. I ordered a SleepMate, as recommended by my friend Rachel, and while it doesn't block out noises entirely, it dulls everything enough to help Zinashi get to sleep. And finally, I have just accepted that much of the time, Zinashi really needs to be swaddled to get to sleep. She can't calm herself and drift off without it sometimes. When I mention this to people, most of them are taken aback. Swaddling? For an older toddler? Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Because it works. I do feel like I am putting her in a little toddler strait jacket sometimes, but the truth is that when she needs it, she just needs it, and nothing else will help her. I always give her the opportunity to fall asleep on her own first, because sometimes she can, and I want her to practice that, but if she's flopping around like a fish with that certain look in her eyes, I know she needs me to still her limbs and hold her close. So that's what we do.

And it's working.

For now.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Help Us Choose Our Holiday Card Photo!

I have a pretty severe case of decision making disorder, and after I viewed the photos of Zinashi, I realized that there was no way I'd be able to choose which photo to put on our card. I briefly considered printing three different ones, but then I'd have to decide which person got which photo on their card, and that's even worse! But then it hit me: why not ask the people who know best? Yes, that's right, I'm asking you! Because you clearly have excellent taste and a keen eye for what will wow the recipients of our holiday card. Without further ado, here are your choices:

christmas classic
Photo 1

hold your skirt up and CHEESE
Photo 2

for the holiday card?
Photo 3

Or this photo of Jarod, showing Zinashi how it's done:

for jarod's personal holiday cards

He does look quite festive in his red work fleece, don't you think?
Vote right here:

You may also cast a write-in vote by viewing the set and leaving a comment here on the blog, stating the caption of the photo your prefer. The photo must be placed horizontally on the card, so please choose either a horizontal photo or one that can be cropped nicely to fit in our horizontal cards.

Voting will continue through Saturday morning at 10am Central Standard Time. Please vote early and often. No one will know if you vote twice or eleventy kajillion times, but please be responsible with your votes. Thank you and have a happy holiday season.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: Our Heads Win

Jarod didn't work until noon today, so I took this as a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone by dressing Zinashi in her holiday best and doing a little photo shoot prior to dropping him off and visiting Old Lady Mary. I figured that this way I wouldn't have to figure out something impressive for Zinashi two days this week, and I could also have a little help wrangling the little wiggler in an attempt to get a good photo for our holiday cards.* I dressed in my most recent Target clearance purchase, and we got the job done.

Well, except that Old Lady Mary only noticed our heads. She loved Zinashi's big bow (which is an adult-sized headband from Forever 21, which means that either their headbands run small or our daughter's head is enormous) and she thought my bangs were cute. She made a point of telling me I had cute hair more than once. But were there comments about our fabulous outfits? No, there were not.

tuesday, december 14, 2010


We should probably stop trying to so hard, but I'm not ready to give up yet. Because who knows? Maybe next week she'll notice our fabulousness.

*At least we got some good photos of Zinashi for the cards. A little set is here, and tomorrow we'll be asking you to vote on our three favorites to determine which goes on our card. Come back tomorrow afternoon to see the photos and cast your vote.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ababi Mondays: Gratuitous parent photos...

So yeah, I'm becoming that parent. The one that's also posting pictures of their kid.

Zinash and I got to go out to eat a lot this week. A good time was had by all and a lot of salsa and french fries were consumed by a little Ethiopian girl (salsa and fries at different sittings).

Salsa... Four bowls worth

Throw in the Starbucks. She drank both her own hot chocolate and a good amount of my smoothie (By the way for as much as we mention Starbucks on this blog they should be shooting at least some free drinks our way. Anyone want to make that happen?)

She was captivated by the model trains.

Then downed most of a large fry and two cups of ketchup at Five Guys.

Now that I think about it, maybe we should start throwing in some kind of exercise routine.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

She'll Kill Me for This Someday

Zinashi can't believe what that girl told her by text! I mean, REALLY, you should say these things in person or not at all.

i can't believe she'd text me that!

She's just going to have to call to clear this up.

some calls just can't wait

Note to parents: If you're in a hurry to leave the house, don't let your toddler take her cell phone to the bathroom. If you'd like to get things done without interruption, encourage this behavior.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I May Be Retracting This Victory Dance Tomorrow

Our daughter just fell asleep before 10pm. I think only Snoopy can adequately capture how I feel about this moment:

We gave Zinashi a new medication for giardia tonight, and you'll be pleased to know that I did not have to collect a toddler stool sample to get it. The doctor just listened to me and suggested we try this first before doing any further testing of toddler waste matter. Fantastic! Also, it is just one dose, so SUPER FANTASTIC!

Not so super fantastic was the part where I had crushed the tablets and mixed them into chocolate syrup, and our daughter hated it and pretty much frothed at the mouth as I scooped the chocolate syrup back in to make sure all the medication made it down her throat. Jarod was the one pinning her down, and it wasn't pleasant for any of us. At the same time, there was something comical about me scooping and scooping and scooping the area around her mouth with my fingers, shoving it back into her screaming mouth, only to have it gurgle right back out again, this time mixed with a good deal of saliva and the snot that was running out of her nose. It was akin to trying to bail out the Titanic, but slimier. It felt ridiculous. But when all was said and done, and most of the medicine seemed to have retreated down her angry throat, I held her in my arms and gave her a bottle of milk to wash it all down, and she forgave me for the agony I'd just put her through. Now, if the medication will only relieve her other agony, then we can leave this bit behind us for good.

If that works out, I expect all of you to do the Snoopy dance with me.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Excuse Me While I Take a Moment

Today I watched my daughter put her bear to bed and arrange herself comfortably in a nest of blankets and pillows, and it hit me, hard, again, how far she's come. I can't get away from simply feeling floored by how much she has taken in and adapted to in so short a time. I feel like many people expect a lot of her, and I still stand amazed that she does what she does and accepts what she accepts. I am humbled by how she loves Jarod and me, how she has embraced us as her parents. There was a moment in Ethiopia, when she was looking through the photo album we brought for her, that she pointed at the photo of Jarod and me and said, "Enat," while pointing at me and, "Abat" while pointing at Jarod. She named us as her parents, solemnly, as if she were crossing some great divide. And she was. I don't have words for how incredibly brave she is, how utterly extraordinary I find her to be. I know that it happens all the time, that parents bring home the children they have adopted, and the children become a part of the family, and that is that. But to lose everything and just walk into the arms of people who say they are your parents and say, "Okay," well, I just can't grasp that.

So instead I just sit in front of my computer and cry.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Adoption, Attachment, and the Introvert: Part 2

I received so many thoughtful and helpful comments on my last post about being an introvert mother that it got my brain to spinning in what seems to be a positive direction, and I think I've come up with some solutions. Yesterday I was especially mindful of how much better I felt, and the one difference was that my husband went back to work. Our "weekend" is Sunday and Monday, and after Zinashi had a hard go of it sleepwise for a few nights, we decided to stay in on Sunday and catch up on rest. While that worked brilliantly for Zinashi, by the time Monday rolled around and we were all still at home, together, in our house, I was at my limit. Not that I hadn't gotten out of the house--I did run an errand by myself each day--but that just didn't do it for me. I also got increasingly irritated by the level of mess, but didn't seem to be able to do anything about it. At first I thought it was because my laid-back husband was reclining on the couch most of the time, and so I took cues from that energy level and couldn't muster the strength to be productive, but it turns out that wasn't the issue. The issue was that he was in the house, and I was in the house, and Zinashi was in the house, and not only was that a lot of people in one space, but when we are both here, there is a lot more negotiating going on regarding Zinashi and her needs and whatnot. When it is just me, it's pretty clear: I am both in charge of meeting all Zinashi's needs and in deciding how our day will run. But when my husband is here, there's one more person, which you would think would be helpful, but in my case, it turns out it's as much a hindrance as a help if we are

Now this is not to demean my husband or his habits or preferences in any way; it just means that every personality test I've ever taken is still right. I work best independently. That's not my husband's fault. The solution to this one will be a little bit longer in coming, as I do think that we should be able to find a way to make it work for all of us to be here at once and not have me seething over conditioner or lack thereof. I think that for part of the time, I need to just suck it up and deal with the inconvenience, and part of the time I need help from my husband. To be specific, I think part of the time I need to kick him and/or Zinashi out of the house (gently, of course, and with agreement from all parties) or go to see a movie all by myself. I used to be able to go to Target or Whole Foods on my own and feel refreshed, but now I really need a place where no one is going to try to talk to me while I'm there. Thus: the movies. I also want to recognize Jarod's need for a little time on his own and will take Zinashi out by myself sometimes.

During the week, I am going to be more purposeful about getting a little rest for myself during Zinashi's naptime. Some days I know I will need to work on things the whole time, but that should happen one day per week maximum. The rest of the week I'm sticking to my system of forty-five minutes for work, forty-five minutes for whatever, whether it be a short nap or reading or a crafty project. During Zinashi's sleep struggles, I've had many people insist vehemently that I just need to have her stop napping, and I've been equally vehement in my refusal to cut it out, both because I believe that she still needs it, and I know for certain that I need it. Even when she is older, we will have rest time every day, doing something quietly even if she's not going to sleep. It is good for everyone to have a little peace and quiet, to know there's a break coming midday. I've been reading this book, and it confirms everything I've ever thought about naptime, which is that it is important to all of us, and that it encourages rather than discourages good nighttime sleep. So naptime will be our saving grace.

Beyond that, I'm just going to try to keep a handle on our other needs as well. Zinashi needs time close to me, and I need exercise, so a walk with her on my back is the perfect solution. I need to get more sleep, so I'm going to work on moving back my bedtime, even when Zinashi takes awhile to fall asleep. I'm also going to work on establishing a more consistent rhythm to our days so that it's easier to get chores done while Jarod is at work so that even if the evening disappears in a flurry of dinner preparation and bathtime and Zinashi taking a long time to go to sleep, there's nothing undone at the end of the day that cannot be let go. That last one is the most lofty goal, and I don't expect to reach it soon, but I'm going to work on it.

Finally, I am going to give myself a little more time to figure things out. We have, after all, been together as a family less than three months, and home less than two. I need to stop sometimes and recognize what a big deal that is for all of us. Zinashi is still adjusting to a very different life than she was used to, and so are we. We'll get where we're headed; we just have to spend some time getting there.

for the first time ever, she smiled when i asked her to
Photo added for no purpose other than to show off how adorable our daughter still is.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: Great!

We went a little later than usual to visit OLM since Jarod started work at noon today instead of the usual Tuesday start time of 9am. At first, I thought this would be capital A for AWESOME, but in reality, it completely threw our day off. I'm on a quest to have Zinashi asleep by 1:30pm so that she can get her hour and a half usual nap, but still be up by 3pm. Well, when you decide to engage in an argument with OLM about whether or not a fellow resident telling her she's getting her a present for Christmas means that the person is getting her a pet and trying to ruin her life, won't leave there until 1pm. You'll get home at 1:25pm. You'll make a quick lunch, and your child will go to bed at 2:15pm, but...then the cat will feel extra needy and keep meowing and pawing at the door...and your daughter will get worried about the cat...and 3:11pm will be the time your child finally falls asleep.

So argh. At least we got dressed properly for our visit:

tuesday, december 7, 2010

OLM declared Zinashi a cutie pie several times, and said I looked great, though apparently I'm still not up to my pre-motherhood fashion model status. And I did still get questioned about whether I was dressed warmly enough, but I really cannot be bothered by that anymore. I must save my energies for telling OLM that it's rude to send your neighbor a note saying you don't want any pets PERIOD, and YOU'D BETTER GET THIS when all she said was that she was getting you was a present. (Why am I still so irritated by this? I mean, seriously. If her neighbors hate her, it won't really matter. She doesn't like to talk to them anyway because she suspects them of doing terrible things to her, like getting her a pet as a present.) At least she doesn't yet suspect me of such antics, but maybe I'm just a few steps away from suspicion. However, Zinashi is too young to potentially hatch plots to take Old Lady Mary down, so I'm pretty sure that as long as the cutie pie keeps coming with me, I won't be denied entry.

And so, onward to next week, when I will try wearing a hat and keeping my coat on in order to return to supermodel-dom and allay Mary's fears about my warmth. I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Adoption, Attachment, and the Introvert

I am a classic introvert, which means that if I don't get sufficient time alone, I start to get a little, ahem, edgy. Tonight I came unglued in the shower when I discovered that there was only half a head's worth of conditioner left, and there was no way to get the new bottle except to get out, soaking wet, put on a robe, and go to the living room and get the new bottle I purchased yesterday. I may have stomped a little bit on the way. I might have been a little childish. I might still, an hour later, even after my husband did the work of putting Zinashi to bed, be a little bit crabby about it. I might hold a grudge until I can clear up which conditioner belongs to whom and say something childish about no one touching my stuff.

But it shouldn't be a surprise to me that I feel this way. Not about the conditioner, but just about, I-don't-even-know, things that are not that important. I just need space, and as much as I struggled with that as simply half of a couple, I struggle with it on a much larger scale now. To give my daughter what she needs, to give myself up to the work of attachment, I sacrifice personal space a lot of the time. And when my husband is home, as much as he can be helpful with Zinashi, and as much as I usually enjoy being hanging out with him, it's also one more person in my space. And I go a little nuts from time to time.

I don't have a good solution for this one just yet. But maybe you do. Maybe you are an introvert mom who has figured this one out. Maybe you have a system for a certain time each week that everyone but you must leave the house, or maybe you have a big enough house that you can go somewhere and have no one in your way, or maybe you just built yourself a shed in the backyard and that's working out really well for you. Or maybe, just maybe (please let it not be this one, oh please), you somehow just figured out how to let it go. If you've stood in my shoes and figured out something that works out well for everyone, that doesn't leave your children or your husband feeling neglected, I'd like to hear from you.

In the meantime, I'll be out back, building a little shed for myself and nursing my conditioner related grudges.

Ababi Mondays: Design Time!

So Zinash pretty much knows now that when she goes to the doctor they are going to either spray something up her nose or they are going to stick her with a needle. I'm pretty sure we have ruined doctors visits for her. So how much does therapy cost for a lifetime fear of doctors?

It's not all that bad. At her first pediatrician's appointment today, she actually did really well (other than me having to pin her down for the shots). Of course we'll see how much she remembers of the visit when we head back in a month's time.


What I've been working on lately has some updates to the finding magnolia site. Hopefully next week we will have some cool announcements to post with the site. There have been lots of people who have been asking for a list of resources that we've used. We are going to take that list to the next level!

So in the mean time I'll leave you with a couple of things to pique your interest...
[gallery columns="2"]

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Silliness

We took the day off from life as usual, and it was just perfect. No one combed Zinashi's hair, and I'm pretty sure she was grateful for the break. Or maybe she was just shocked that we'd let her get away with that.

you did WHAT?

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Just Skip to the End for the Video

First of all, a warm weekend welcome to all of you who have popped over from Girl's Gone Child. Do you love the GGC Good Wear Days or what? I was super excited to win the necklace, but even more excited to see how many of you dropped in at Rebecca's kind suggestion. Welcome, welcome, welcome!

I shall now commence talking about toddler stool samples.

Wait! Wait! Where are you going? Come back!

It's not so bad, really. It will only be mentioned briefly, and in no detail. I promise. It's just that Zinashi's sleep troubles have returned. It was going so much better; twenty-four hours into the cycle of medication for her giardia, and it was like having a whole different kid at bedtime, one who would just snuggle in and let us rock her and fall asleep in half an hour or so, including books and some sips of milk. But now we are back to two hours, minimum, and it started creeping up on us when we ended the medication cycle. So my hunch is that the very short cycle of meds she was on did not completely get rid of the giardia. To know for sure, I have to collect a stool sample, and not only that, but I have to basically ask her doctor if we can go ahead and collect another sample and have it tested. That's right; I am asking for the privilege of collecting my daughter's waste in a plastic "hat" placed beneath the toilet seat (which she loves, by the way, the weirdo). I guess it's just what you do for love. It's not glamorous, but I'll take it. I'll take her, sleep troubles and all.

I mean, who wouldn't, right?

Friday, December 3, 2010

I Have Something Important to Say

Well, actually, I'm going to let this video say it.

There are a lot of kids that wait for families who will not be adopted because they are HIV-positive. I believe this is in large part due to fear. I know that the reason HIV-positive was on our short list of things we weren't ready for was because of fear and uncertainty and the stigma we knew our child would face. We asked ourselves, "Would we adopt only to have to watch our child die?" That's an incredibly frightening prospect. And then the other question, "Would people be willing to interact with our child and allow their children to play with our child if they were to somehow discover the diagnosis?" For our area of the country--and maybe many areas of the country--we felt the answer would often be no. And we didn't want to give our daughter that kind of a life. So I'm passing this video on to educate others. Our friends, our family, our community, the Western world at large. I would very much like to be open to adopting an HIV-positive child in the future. I am open to adopting an HIV-positive child in the future. I just need some other people to ditch the fear and jump on that wagon with me.

So I'm asking you to help. Please spread the word by linking to this video and to Because every child deserves to grow up in a family. Every child. Not just the perfectly healthy ones.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I Think All I Need to Say Here is "You're Welcome"

Zinashi. Dancing. Here:

That song is on Repeat One. Note how she briefly says "more" before it comes back on again. Please excuse the snot on her upper lip; I didn't want to interrupt the dancing to wipe her nose, and it appears she was really enjoying licking it off anyway. Win-win, am I right? (I know, gross. Except to her. And then it's more like, "Heyyyy...salty!)


Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Yesterday marked five weeks home, and it seems like we turned a corner. A gentle corner, but a corner nevertheless. Zinashi decided to sit in her own chair at lunch and has done so for every meal since. I managed to get the laundry done and the house tidied by the time we went to pick up Jarod from work. Our last meal from friends was delivered, and it seemed just about right. I feel like I can do this now, like I can manage our home life and whatever else comes along. And clearly, Zinashi is doing very well. Better bedtimes, more confidence playing when I need to do other things, a testing of boundaries that indicates that she feels secure. We will still have challenges, sure, but I feel like we are settled. The holidays are coming, but I don't feel stressed out about them. I know that when we set boundaries with friends and family, they are respected. There's no more inner argument when someone wants to do something that involves Zinashi; I can do what is right without my jet-lag addled brain getting confused. The familiar ebb and flow of life has returned. I don't feel anymore as if I am rushing to get everything done or just to manage. So there you have it. Five weeks. That's not too shabby.

And now I want to freeze our lives in this moment. Our daughter knows now how to say I need and all done and HUG! and I'm not sure what else we need to teach her, really. How much more language will she learn before she starts losing her accent? How many times can we ask her to count to three in Amharic and have sost come out as goat? I know there is much good to come, and so many things that will become easier and better as she gains proficiency in language and motor skills, but for now I will savor the malapropisms and tiny shuffle steps she takes when going down stairs. How can you blame me? I'm sure you can't find a way.
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