Sunday, February 27, 2011

Five Months a Family

five months a family

Five months later, and I still tear up when I think of the day we met. Zinashi continues to amaze us. Today she saw the beach for the very first time, and she refused to take off her shoes. That's our Zinashi! Maybe next time we'll see her run barefoot into the surf. We don't mind holding her tight in the meantime.

Thank you for these beautiful five months, beautiful daughter. You are magic to us, and every single day we are grateful for your presence here with us. Way to be awesome. Keep it up.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Funny Girl

It turns out we got the best kid on the planet. No, really. Our fourteen hour drive was a piece of cake, and she's been well-behaved this whole trip, even though we know she dosen't love everything about it, particularly the part where we can't just go home to eat or sleep or play. ("Zinashi house?" "Um, no, sorry. It's kind of...far from here.") But she's such a good sport, and she faithfully puts on what we like to call The Zinashi Show, charming every person we meet. I wish we'd taken more photos and video, but we never seem to get to it. Except when we're at IKEA, that is. Now there's an occasion that needs some serious documentation: Baby's First IKEA Trip. True to form, she gave us her best faces for the photos.

Oh, Zinashi. You are the goofiest thing that's ever happened to us, and we couldn't be happier. If I feed you more chocolate cake when we go back to IKEA tomorrow, will you make that second face again? I hope so. I really, really hope so.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ababi Mondays (well, Tuesday): Road Trip!!!

There are some times where it feels like life comes full circle. Where what you knew growing up becomes what you are currently living and experiencing again.

Growing up my family took a lot of trips. I can remember long hours in the car with my sisters and parents. My dad driving, mom sleeping, and my sisters and I trying to stay entertained.

So yesterday Mary, Zinash, and I took off for south Texas. As I was driving I was reminded of those long trips we took, how much fun we had, and how I fondly look back on them now. I hope Zinash has the same memories and the same fondness. I started to think about how much I am turning out like my dad, and I'm pretty proud of that.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

If You Want to See This Film, and I'm Sure You Do...

...then you need to help out by donating. I believe that the key issues examined in this film are important for all of us to consider, whether we are part of the adoption triad, or know someone who is, or are just a person, on the earth, who comes into contact with others who are different than we are. One thing that I know that I will never fully understand is how Zinashi will feel growing up looking different from her family, having been brought to a whole different country, but films like this at least help me get a little closer because these girls say out loud the things that we need to hear, that we may not guess.

Without further ado, the trailer for Somewhere Between.

TRAILER: Somewhere Between - A Feature Documentary from Linda Knowlton on Vimeo.

Donate here.

Thanks to Rebecca for the info and all the links. Keep spreading the word, people.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Back to Basics

This morning Zinashi woke up a little out of sorts and wanted to be carried around as much as possible. While her demeanor in the car seemed fine when we took Jarod to work, it quickly became clear that she was not in a cooperative mood, and our morning dissolved into a litany of small power struggles and a lot of toys exiting the house in the direction of the garage when she would hear my request to her, look me in the eye, and do the exact opposite. She does this daily, (of course she does; she's three) but today it was pretty much every single time I asked her to do something she didn't feel like doing or asked her to stop doing something that she wanted to do. Every. Single. Time. Three hours of that is a little bit wearing, and I was more than relieved to finally hear her sleep-breathing from behind my book in her room.

When she woke up, she was so out of sorts that she was whining and crying about everything. She didn't want to lie on the bed, but she didn't want to be on my lap, and she didn't want to stand on the floor, and she didn't want to go to the kitchen for a snack, and she didn't want to have her yellow cup with water. She just stood there, making this horrible distress/whining noise, unable to settle. Then something in me clicked and I asked, "Do you want to go in the carrier on my back?"

"YES," came her bleated reply. I dressed hurriedly (to that point having been in my bathrobe since she woke up just after I'd worked out and showered) and put her on my back. Immediately, she slumped against me and laid her head against my back, reaching her arms forward to stroke my bare arms with her fingertips. It was all she needed, and it had been so long since we'd done it that I'd forgotten how good it was for both of us. It is a way to be close that we don't get in our other day to day interactions. When she is in my arms, I eventually have to put her down as she grows heavy or I need to use my hands to complete a task. In the carrier, she can just be. I don't have to put her down until she is ready. And that is so good for her. We will do it again tomorrow, and every day for as long as she wants.

I forget sometimes the things that were basic to us in the beginning that might be helpful now, but I think it will do us right if we go back to some of those basics. If only I can remember what they all are...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: Valentine Edition

Yes, I know that Valentine's Day was yesterday. But we don't visit Old Lady Mary on Mondays--Tuesdays are it. Not that she wouldn't love it if we came seven days a week, but I have my limits.

tuesday, february 15, 2011

Zinashi has this thing she does--and I'd say lately, but she's done it since the day we met--where she will either do a serious face for the camera or a very silly one. So I just choose the silliest one because it is most like her. Which is not to say that she's silly all the time, but it is a definite facet of her personality. So here she is, being silly. Holding her bear, who she insisted should be the one to hand over the card to Grandma Mary, and the card itself. That's probably the poorest piece of homemade card work I've ever done, but it was 11pm last night, and I realized that I had promised Mary a homemade card and had not made it. This morning as I made breakfast, and later as Ababi combed her hair, Zinashi added extra marker embellishment to the inside of the card. Mary loved it, and Mary loved our outfits, and best of all, Mary loves us, so all was well. I'm not going to lie: it's handy that the person to whom we were giving not-our-best-card is a little bit blind.

After our visit, it seemed like the day evaporated into nothing. We did other things, and I even got both extras on my to-do list done, but I always feel like Tuesdays are Old Lady Mary days, and not much else fits. That's okay with me. I'm glad that we have this time with her, every week, to take care of her and to in turn be adored like we are supermodels. If ever there was a symbiotic relationship, this is it.

And I've been proud of Zinashi in this endeavor, too. She is so well-behaved at Grandma Mary's, so accommodating and helpful and patient. When we stopped into our Target afterwards, which adjoins a mall that has a Starbucks, and she asked for buna, I couldn't help but say yes. Ditto to the Littlest Pet Shop toy on Valentine clearance. It's hard not to want to give her everything in general, but especially difficult to deny her when she has been so incredibly good. So maybe there's a little extra chocolate running through her veins, and maybe she's got too many tiny animals to her name, but oh, well. There are worse things in the world, and those things are called Toys With Batteries.

I have no trouble saying NO to those.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ababi Mondays: Locals

So Zinash and I decided to do a little tour of local retailers (ok I decided). Mary had mentioned some places in Brookside that she has been so I thought we'd check them out. First up...

Brookside Toy and Science
To turn your kid into a nerd start here! Of course I say that in a loving way because this store is awesome! Where else can you get the latest Littlest Pet Shop toy and this...
Seriously! A stuffed armadillo or crocodile skull? Not to mention the cool electronics kits and experiments. But they also had this magical wonder...

A Lego Taj Mahal. If they would have had the lego Death Star then I probably would have to visit once a week.

Seriously though, it's a great little store and would highly recommend taking your kids there if you're in the area.

Of course if you're going to stop there then the next place you have to stop next door...

Reading Reptile
If we are going to nerd our kids out then we might as well get a good assortment of books. This little place not only has that but also has film nights, art classes, and a cupcake shop right up front. As my wife's tshirt says, "Cupcakes make people happy."

Next stop was lunch at...

Planet Sub
Anyone in KC knows Planet Sub and will readily tell you their favorite sub on the menu.

Finally we stopped off to pick up Mary's valentine's gift at...

One of Mary's favorite places in town. And what girl doesn't like gourme Swiss chocolate for Valentine's Day?

Zinashi and I had a great time getting out. This was one of the first warm days we've had in weeks so it was great to get out and enjoy the sun. Zinash enjoyed it as did I.

So what are some of your favorite locally owned places? Doesn't have to be Kansas City either. We like to travel so give us tips on places we should visit when Ababi Mondays goes on the road.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


There are so many things that come up in adoption, and particularly in older toddler or child adoption, that one might not think about if not in our position. The thing I think about a lot is our daughter's life before we knew her. Three years worth of...who knows? Of course there are generalizations that can be made after doing research into her home region's customs, climate, whathaveyou, but beyond that we really don't know much, and I don't want to make any assumptions. It's very hard to ask questions of birth family when it has to be translated twice. We don't know where she got her silly streak or what her mother's personality was like, for instance, and those were things that I very much wanted to know. Instead I know that she liked to play and drink milk, and that her mother was tall. We know the occupation of her father and how long it takes to get to her home village from Addis Ababa. We know who died and of what. We know it wasn't fair, and isn't fair, and that these are things that Zinashi will have to come to grips with in her own time. My greatest hope for her is that she will be able to wade through all of it and find some measure of peace.

I know that a lot of adoptive parents who adopted older toddlers in particular feel like they missed out on a lot of their child's life, and they find themselves longing to know what those milestone moments were like. I thought I might be just that way, but it turns out that, knowing what we know of her story, I am grateful that she had those three years in her home. I wouldn't begrudge her family one moment of those three years, and I wish I could grant them just a few more. I don't care that I have no idea what she looked like as a baby (though it is fun to guess, as it is fun to imagine what she will look like as a young woman) or that I don't know what the day was like when she took her first steps, or what her first word was. Those things belong to her family. We get so much of her, and will get so much of her, that we can hardly try to hoard those moments, even in our imaginations.

We are so grateful to have her in our family, to have received the gift of her exactly as she came to us, in the time that she arrived in our arms. When people ask about her, I tend to spout out practicalities of life, but the truth is, she's magic. I hope I never stop marveling over her presence in our lives.

me and my girl

Thursday, February 10, 2011


If you are wondering if the paperwork for adoption ever ends, even after you are home with your child on a visa that grants immediate citizenship upon arrival into the United States, the answer right now appears to be no. You will also not be done with the phone calls. You may have to be on hold for quite some time with the IRS. You might even attempt to post to your blog while on hold, but you won't do a very good job of it. You'll probably just show the internet how your child prefers to be as close as possible to whoever is in the bed, leaving the majority of the bed unoccupied and pushing the remaining occupant to the outer edge of what is comfortable.

why use the whole bed when you can use just a sliver?

When we are both there, she prefers to be touching both of us, at least extending an arm to poke someone in the eye or a foot to give a swift kick to the kidneys. Still, we wouldn't change a thing about this arrangement. It is good for her. It is good for us. Everybody sleeps, everybody stays warm, everybody wins.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: I Can't Think It's So Cold

This morning as I was getting Zinashi in and out of the car to get Old Lady Mary's groceries and take them in to her, I thought, "Why are my hands getting chapped through my gloves?" And then someone told me it was three degrees today, and it all made sense. Zinashi doesn't seem too bothered by the cold, and in fact, she would prefer to walk...kind of slowly...and let herself out of the car...kind of slowly...and then I am freezing to death...kind of slowly. So after the grocery run, I insisted on carrying her, and she wasn't pleased. Tough muffins, kid. You got me for a mother, and I am a wimp. A wimp that likes to put you in pretty clothes.

tuesday, february 8, 2011

Mary kept exclaiming and exclaiming over this outfit--nothing in particular about it, but just that it was ADORABLE! Well, duh. Even more adorable was what Zinashi decided should be added to the outfit once we got home.

whatcha got?

I just love her. I know I say that all the time, but really. Really. How could I not?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ababi Mondays: Those days you don't want to...

I'm all kinds of beat up. I posted last week about how I took one step out the door and end up flat on my back. Well no more than a day later I got to get off the couch and try to step around Zinash and slam my foot into the coffee table*. At first I'm just thinking another stubbed toe, it happens... to me... a lot. Then I notice I can't walk the next day and my entire toe is swollen and purple. So at this point I'm thinking "Huh, I guess I broke it." So I've been hobbling around and wear slippers at work.

*Our coffee table is an old metal and wood trunk and very substantial in weight.


I usually try to do something on Mondays, as you all know by now, with Zinash so she and I can spend a little Ababi/Daughter time. Usually I have an idea of what I want to do a couple days in advance. Today I didn't. Honestly today I just wanted to crawl back into bed and sleep the day away. It was a struggle to get motivated to do something. I finally decided to just repeat last weeks adventure and go to the library to pick out some more books. Our public library is really a pretty cool place and I don't mind going. Plus I'm trying to read more.

I was kind of half brained about the whole thing. I was kind of half brained about the whole day. Until one of the last things we do at night...

Right before we brush our teeth and read stories Mary and I put lotion on Zinash. It's usually a time for the 3 of us to chat about the day or to be a little silly and lately it's been ending up in a little 3 person dance party (all of us working on our Double Dream Hands at some point). Tonight we got to talking about our time in Ethiopia and Mary mentioned the day that the 3 of us first met each other. Zinashi got really quiet and was looking off into the distance. Mary asked her if she remembered it but she didn't say anything. We could tell she did and she was thinking about our time back there. We all started talking about our favorite parts of the trip. I honestly don't remember exactly what we all said even though it was just a couple hours ago. I just remember welling up a little bit because I could tell that thinking about that time had an effect on her. Thinking about it had an effect on me. I can still remember this exact moment...
and know that even on days when, my mind's not totally in it... my heart always is.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Quick One to Send You Off Into the Weekend

This is my favorite thing to do.

i like this kind of day

It isn't in the cards for this to be our reality on the weekends, but on Wednesdays sometimes it works out. We have nowhere to go. I stay in my pajamas until after lunch. Around ten o'clock I have a second cup of coffee, and Zinashi has a second cup of tea (decaf, of course), and we are still waiting for laundry to be dry so we can start folding. I could spend the time getting housework done, but it's a lot more fun to sit in front of the computer, Zinashi leaning against me or on my lap, looking at photos and listening to music. Quiet moments together. Funny faces for the camera. A bit of a mess everywhere, but that's all right. Someday she'll be too tall to lean on me or sit on my lap comfortably. I'll take as much as I can get for as long as I can get it. It is slow, quiet sweetness. It is exactly what I was dreaming of when I thought of being a mother, and I am so very glad I get to be hers.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sing Along; We Do

Zinashi has a lot of favorite songs, and we're always discovering new ones. At the top of her list right now, because she likes to sing the words "All the WA-AY!" and nothing else (and in fact, this is what she thinks the song is called, and I don't correct her) is this Over the Rhine gem:

Today's new favorite, thanks to Holly of Nothing But Bonfires, is this one, which I hope becomes a mainstay in our Zinashi-approved song collection. Zinashi calls it "Cool Now," and those are the only words of the song she sings (sensing a pattern, are we?). Here is Dan Mangan:

When it comes to music from her home country and region, though, there is no favorite. She will lean her chin on the desk and watch any song we put on, and always ask for more. She initially requests this by simply saying, "Sidama," which is the name of the region in Ethiopia she's from. I am happy to oblige, and I do have a favorite. This one:

Zinashi likes the dancing best, but I like it when the guy is leaning against the tree and singing like he feels it.

We don't do a lot of videos for Zinashi--I had intended to do none, actually--but because we don't have access to anything else in her home language, I think that this is better than nothing, and hopefully will help her keep whatever memory she has of Sidamigna alive and well. As well as other memories: friends, family, traditions, anything at all. I don't want her to forget. We will travel back on a regular basis as she grows up, but I want her to retain some memories that belong to her from a happier time. I hope that this helps.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: Blizzard Edition

I was pretty sure that if we didn't get to Old Lady Mary's this morning, we wouldn't get there for awhile, and after I talked with her last night, I knew she needed groceries. So we decided that we'd go ahead and take her what she needed before the snow fully descended upon us. On our way to take Jarod to work, his work called and told him not to bother coming in, so he was able to drive us to the grocery and Mary's. He'd never met Mary before, so I'm sure you can imagine how exciting this was for him. (Jarod adds a small snort-laugh and a "yeah" to that. I think that means he wishes he could come every week.)

Getting dressed this morning, the focus was on snow gear as opposed to fashion. I didn't put Zinashi's snow pants on, but we did add some accessories.

tuesday, february 1, 2011

I apologize for not having a better photo, but I didn't want to take time to take a photo before we left, and by the time we got home, Zinashi was just not in the mood for having a her pretty outfit (which Mary didn't see anyway) photographed. She'd been in the car far too long, strapped in while we navigated from one spot to another and stopped to clear the built up snow/ice/crud off the windshield wipers. Once indoors, she just wanted to clean the imaginary snow off of her doll stroller (which she indicated was not a stroller, but a car).

and then she cleaned the "snow" off "machina"

Please note how eager she is to wear gloves indoors. Outdoors? Not so much. Oh, well. She hasn't gotten frostbite yet.
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