Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: Zinashi's New Dress

I'll just cut to the chase and tell you why we're squinting into the sun in this photo: our house is a wreck, and there wasn't a place that could be cleaned up fast enough to snap a quick photo. I was thinking that we could just pose on the porch, but Zinashi had other ideas, and it takes too long to wait for her to just do what has been asked of her (she will get there, but...eventually), so I decided to compromise. Her other idea was to stand in the street, so I think what we've worked out here is pretty okay. Sorry about the squinty eyes and the glare.

tuesday, may 31, 2011
Click on the photo for more details of our outfits and Mary's reaction.

Let's just pause a moment and focus on what's really great about this photo, and that is Zinashi's hair. I think we have found the style to beat all other styles. It's cute, it stays put, it's easy to clean up if it gets a little fuzzy. I took her into Starbucks one day with some of her flat twists fuzzy near her ears (which is the spot she tends to mess with when she's tired and distracted) and got a LOT of recommendations from a stranger standing in line behind us. So now "clean up the fuzz easily" is on my list for hairstyle success. Zinashi loves this style, too, so I think we have a winner. We'll still experiment with new styles, but I know I can always fall back on this in a pinch.

Confused about who this Old Lady Mary person is and why we show up every Tuesday? Click here and proceed to the paragraph beneath the photo.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ababi Mondays: American Holidays

So there is something kind of unexpected that Zinash has does a really good job at fitting in with. It's not something we expected or worried about. But without a hitch she has really gotten into celebrating American Holidays. Not that she really even realizes that we are celebrating or that it's something uniquely American. Mostly she fits in because she eats a lot of food. As Americans, that's what we do during holidays. We eat. And eat. And eat. Zinash has that part down.

Whether she's eating Grandpa's special ribs...


Or hot dogs and an ear of corn...


Or finishing up with ice cream (not pictured is her own special single serving angel food cake made specially for her by Mimi)...


She is all about putting the food away. And then running around the yard working off all the energy. Of course that's just on Sunday.

Today it was a whole other round of BBQ and treats which began with some quality time in the water at a friend's house...


Mary and I have never refused Zinash food. And she has always told us when she's full. She doesn't abuse it or over eat. When you're growing an inch a month you need the food to keep up. At least in American society we celebrate everything with vast quantities.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Eight Months of Zinashi

Eight months isn't long, but it feels like we've been a family forever. It feels like she captured my heart long before I ever saw her picture. It feels like small fingertips on my back on the bicycle and dancing at bedtime and a lump in my throat when I think of what life would be like without her. These have been the best eight months of my life, hands down, no contest, regardless of my lack of sleep. When I say I cannot wait to see what our life together brings us next, I really mean that. It just keeps getting better.

snuggle time with phae

Even the cat agrees.

(Mostly.)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Prioritize!

So there's been some weather in our neck of the woods lately. Some nasty, horrible weather, which has left 232 people missing in Joplin. I mention this because it feels wrong to complain that I was in the basement for two hours yesterday due to tornado sirens and then got to come back up unscathed except for a cat scratch from our geriatric, senile kitty.

phae sandwich
"You shouldn't say things like that about me when I put up with crap like this."

the finished piece:  phae
"And this, for crying out loud."

Still, the fact remains that I lost what are usually two productive hours of my day, and would especially have been productive thanks to the fact that I have two girls (shout out to the Sparling girls!) that take turns coming over to play with Zinashi on Wednesday mornings so I can get things done. Spending those two particular hours in the basement really threw things off. But it's not like it doesn't happen for other reasons and totally unexpectedly all the time. I've got to just roll with it, or I'd spend all day on the sofa in my pajamas, staring at the mess. Here's the order of what I do on a day like today, when I really need to catch up.

1. Time sensitive tasks that must be done for the benefit of someone else. If it will make someone else late or make their life harder, I do those things first. This is often as simple as sending an email.

2. Time sensitive tasks that must be done for our family. Mostly these are budgetary types of things: recording receipts, paying bills, etc. Also falling into this category are things that might start to smell funny, like compost I cleared out of the fridge and didn't get into the compost bucket or that pan I cooked eggs in and then left to soak.

3. Regular tasks I'm behind on. Today this means laundry. Other days it might be cleaning the bathroom or getting to the grocery store.

4. The usual/necessary tasks I had planned for the current day/time.

5. Any extra tasks I had planned for the time that was lost.

I don't often make it all the way to #5 without a lot of coffee or Zinashi blessing me with an extra long nap, so those extra tasks get planned for another day. In that category today is cleaning out the garage. It can and will wait.

How do you prioritize when something's thrown your schedule off? Are you a schedule person at all, or can you just automatically go with whatever's going on?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Working Out How to Work Out

I've mentioned before that I used to be a marathoner. I absolutely loved running and probably still would if it weren't for a number of factors that make it a bad fit for my current circumstances. When I first became unable to run as much, I switched to high intensity workout videos (Jillian Michaels ones, mostly), and kept up a high fitness level even though I wasn't hitting the trail or the road on my feet anymore. It was really satisfying to me to be able to work out intensely, and I'd do it even late at night. While we were waiting to bring Zinashi home, my workouts tapered off a bit as we got busy getting everything ready, and as my racing mind made it impossible to focus on workouts that required coordination. Still, I could knock out a few workouts a week and felt pretty good about where I was fitness-wise.

And then we went to Ethiopia. There was no working out in Ethiopia.

And then we brought Zinashi home. There was no working out with jet lag.

And then...life just wasn't the same anymore, nor was my desire to work out or my energy level. I've tried several different approaches to exercise, but nothing really sticks. When Zinashi isn't sleeping well, it makes it doubly hard because I don't have much time or energy. I'm sure a lot of you parents (and some of you very busy people) hear what I'm saying here. I'm in a season of life that just doesn't allow for intense workouts. And I can either be okay with that and figure out another way to approach fitness, or I can beat myself up about not being as fit as before and accomplish absolutely nothing. I choose the former.

My goal at this point with fitness is simply to challenge my body enough to keep my cardiovascular and respiratory systems healthy, and to burn enough of the calories I eat to maintain a healthy weight. As I've mentioned before, I'm not interested in chasing someone else's ideal of a perfect body. I want to be fit and healthy, period. We spend a lot more time sitting and letting machines do things for us than our ancestors did, so I think it's important to use exercise as a way of finding balance. If I were Laura Ingalls Wilder, doing my wash by hand every Monday and cooking everything over a wood stove, I would not need additional exercise. But my reality is one of technological advances and excess calories available to me at every turn, so I need to supplement my normal movements with planned exercise. This frustrates me no end, but I feel like there's sort of a way around it.

I say "sort of" because on some days, we really can walk or bicycle to do our errands, and so that works out beautifully since we are able to get something done that needs doing and work out at the same time. (And by "we," I mean that I am doing the physical work and Zinashi is enjoying the ride.) Our main forms of exercising involve the stroller or the bicycle, and carrying the extra 35 pounds of girl definitely helps keep my fitness level up, with a fitness bonus when walking or bicycling uphill into the wind. If we don't have errands, we just do the walk or bicycle ride simply for exercise, and I have to live with my nagging feeling of wasting time. It's not wasting time if I'm staying healthy.

My goal right now is to be active every day unless it's an officially declared pajama day (officially declared by me). Even if it's a short walk, it's good to get outdoors, for both Zinashi and me. If we can't get outdoors, it gets a little tougher, but I'm working on what we can do. Zinashi thinks it's funny when I do workout videos, so we can put one of those on and she'll work out alongside me, but I need to accept that I will rarely make it through one without her needing something or laying on top of me during the abs section. With the goal being simply to be active every day, this makes me feel better about this. I no longer feel like a failure if I'm too tired to work out during her nap or need that time to take a break. Something is better than nothing.

My favorite exercise is the kind we do as a family. I really like it when we can take a walk together or bicycle somewhere fun. I used to use exercise as a way to get alone time, but since that's not an option anymore, I can change it to be productive in another way and to grow my relationships with both Jarod and Zinashi, and our relationship together as a family. This is a situation in which everybody wins.

Someday I hope to be able to return to working out alone, and specifically to running. But if that doesn't happen anytime soon, I'm okay with that. Zinashi will not be little forever, and her needs will not always be as intense. I'm more than happy to put my own overly ambitious fitness goals on hold to be present to my family and to the life I have now. I look forward to the "someday," but I'm also really enjoying the now.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: Still Gorgeous

To be honest, when I chose my outfit, I was thinking, "What will be cool enough for this humid day and doesn't need to be ironed?" I never get up early enough to iron. I have enough items to iron in my closet right now that I could easily spend an entire afternoon ironing, but we'll see if that happens. (Survey says...probably not.) Ironing or no, Mary loved our outfits, and declared us gorgeous. That's more than good enough for me.

tuesday, may 24, 2011
Click on the photo for more outfit details.

Zinashi was given a whole carrying case full of Littlest Pet Shop animals yesterday, and she loves them, but there's one problem. I thought they would keep her occupied, you know, on her own, but instead they keep her occupied either asking, "What dat?" when she doesn't recognized an animal, or screeching, "LOOOOOOOOK!!!" when she senses that I am not paying close enough attention to which hat or sunglasses she is putting on a tiny animal. So I'll step away from the computer and do a better job of pretending that I both notice and care what the ferret and cocker spaniel are wearing now.

Or maybe I'll just do the dishes.


Confused about who this Old Lady Mary person is and why we show up every Tuesday? Click here and proceed to the paragraph beneath the photo.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Next Level

Zinashi's sleep is better at night time, and getting better for naptime, very slowly. At the beginning I was pretending that I didn't know what caused this sleep regression, but the truth is that I suspected something and didn't want to jump the gun and say that was definitely it. I still can't say that's it for certain, since I don't live inside my daughter's mind, but I can say the it probably was it. And that's that Jarod got sick, and it set off all kinds of alarm bells for her. Look, when your child's trauma involves watching someone get sick and die, it makes all kinds of sense that when one of her beloved new people gets sick, she's going to freak right out. And she did, and it mostly showed up in her sleep. This is how she tips us off that she's not okay: by fighting as hard as she can to not fall asleep.

I find that people outside of the adoption parenting world, and sometimes people inside it (who are probably in denial--which is okay, because I am sometimes in denial) like to give us alternate reasons for Zinashi's sleep difficulties. As much as some of those are true to a certain extent, I would argue that the root of the issue is her history of trauma. Yes, she may be the kind of kid who doesn't want to miss anything. Yes, she is constantly either going through a growth spurt (an inch a month, people) or making a developmental leap (suddenly we have grasped pronouns). Yes, she is a night owl. But I've come across all those personality and growth circumstances in my work as a nanny, and have never had a kid fight sleep so hard. I'm not an alarmist first-time parent; I'm just a realist who has worked with a lot of kids and knows the difference between a normal range of sleep preferences and a response to something deeper. Zinashi's is a response to something deeper. End of discussion.

Well, except that it's the beginning of the discussion. A lot of families I've talked to were able to work through their sleep issues as their attachment with their children deepened; I thought this might be the case for us, but we are meeting all our attachment milestones beautifully and this issue still persists. I'd love to just "give it more time" or "relax a little bit," but my daughter deserves better than that. She deserves to be able to sleep better and to feel better. She deserves a life in which she has a fighting chance at letting go of the fear that grips her, the one that says that these people that she loves might suddenly be gone. I don't mean to harp on this all the time, but I think that people forget sometimes, because she is such a joyful and funny little person, that she lost absolutely everything dear to her. And in one case, she watched what was dear to her walk away and leave her behind. We cannot ignore this, and we cannot pretend that it will just get easier with time, that every time something happens, she won't be gripped with fear anew because we've hugged her enough or made sure that she knows we love her.

So we're taking this to the professionals. We can't undo what happened to her, but our hope is that we can help her to feel a little more comfortable and a little less afraid, that she won't suddenly be faced with sleep and be terrified to go there. We want to be able to reach that deep level where her fear lives and soften it somehow, blur the edges, make it less present in the moments that she needs most to just relax and let go. We'll be seeing two people, a holistic chiropractor and a therapist that specializes in play therapy. We'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Little Comparison, for Fun

Zinashi's idea of a fabulous hairstyle:

she says it's a hair bow, and i say it's a chip
Yes, that is a blue tortilla chip.

And mine:

head full o' twists
Twists! Twists! Twists!

Which do you like better?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Packing for an Extended Stay: Odds and Ends, Tips and Tricks

It took a lot of hard work and planning to pack effectively for three people, one of them being the daughter we'd not met yet, but what we discovered is that even when our plans changed drastically, we were able to roll with the punches thanks to the way we had packed. Of course I now wish I'd brought along the tiny underwear that I'd left at home, but what we found out was that regardless of whether you pack every little thing you may or may not need, you can figure out how to make it work if you've got the basics. What we'd like to offer here is a glimpse of the practicalities of spending a month as a family in another country.

Packing It Up When we left for Ethiopia, we checked 200 lbs. of luggage--the maximum allowed--and had a carry on and personal item each. We were pretty much maxed out in every way possible. And yet, I found room for a sudoku book and a novel that I purchased in Dulles. I'm still not sure how that worked out. We each packed our own large suitcase, then had one suitcase full of gifts sent from Ethiopians we know to their family members that live in Addis, plus a large rolling duffel full of orphanage donations. We divided the liquids we'd need for Zinashi (everything from medications to her lotion) between our two personal suitcases, plus put most of her toys into Jarod's bag. In my carryon, I had the rest of her things, and stuffed more into my "personal item" bag, which in theory was just for my laptop, but in practice was for my laptop and a lot of other crap, including my special earplugs and Dramamine. In Jarod's main carry on, we packed snacks (trail mix, cookies, more trail mix, chocolate items, etc.), cameras and related accessories, our paperwork binder, prescription medications, his books, and assorted other things we thought we might need on the plane. In his "personal item" bag, he carried his computer and the rest of the gear listed in his packing post. I wore the passport/money pouch and tucked it into my bag when it wasn't needed. We do both put our water bottles in our "personal item" bags, taking them through security empty and filling them at a water fountain once we were through. I think this is our favorite travel trick.

Bringing It Home Because we'd emptied two of our pieces of checked luggage and left the items with the appropriate parties in Ethiopia, we had plenty of room to rearrange how we carried things on the way home, plus plenty of space for souvenirs and keepsakes. Fairly soon after having Zinashi handed over to us, I switched her wardrobe and other accoutrements into one of the extra suitcases in order to make things easier to find, and we kept it that way coming home. I didn't feel as worried about protecting her wardrobe on the way home since we had plenty of other clothes in her dresser, just waiting for her. In the fourth bag, we packed mostly souvenirs, coffee, and spices. We put all the items she might need and want for the flight home in my carryon, and it made an excellent travel bag for her. I was able to fit everything I wanted for the flight into my "personal item" bag with the laptop. Jarod's "personal item" bag held pretty much the same stuff it did on the way over, and his main carryon still contained some snacks, our cameras and related accessories, and our official paperwork binder, which now also included Zinashi's envelope that would allow her to pass through immigration and become a US citizen. Our goal was to pack things in his main carryon that we wouldn't need immediately, so it could be stowed in the overhead bin, leaving space for our other bags beneath the seats.

Choosing the Mix-n-Match Wardrobe When deciding what to bring, I laid everything out in outfits and swapped around the pieces. I wanted each piece to go with most of the other pieces, but if it didn't coordinate with everything, that was okay. Trousers and shoes needed to match all other pieces. By keeping shirts mostly neutral, I was able to add color through cardigans and scarves.

Choosing Which Toys to Bring When we were packing for Zinashi, I really wanted enough variety that we would have plenty to do on my visits (I still laugh at that--visits! ha!), but she wouldn't be overwhelmed. Luckily, three-year-olds are really into repetition, so packing a limited number of books and select toys is fine. I also focused on variety--a few soft toys, a ball, some vehicles, some dress-up type jewelry. The art supplies I bought were in the little backpack at home that Jarod was going to bring for the second trip, so we bought an Incredibles themed art set (it was that or nothing) at the baby boutique down the street from our guest house. Between the tiny car races, the piling on of accessories, and flipping through books, we were all set. It also helped that she loved our flashlight more than anything and thought that going up and down steps repeatedly was the most fun ever.

Cultural Considerations You know how they say, "When in Rome"? Well, there's a reason for this. Wherever you go, it is best to fit in there as opposed to trying to get people to do things your way. We found our Amharic phrasebook to be indispensable, and the tips we received from Ethiopian friends on how to respect their culture were invaluable. We were given advice about everything from giving to beggars (a one birr note is fine, as are coins, and if you have food to give, all the better) to basic greetings. We also got a good lesson about Ethiopian Time; people are not as concerned about punctuality there as we tend to be in the States, and that carries over into much of life. We loved this aspect of life in Ethiopia, and found ourselves much more relaxed there. People we met weren't in a hurry, and neither were we. We had leisurely meals and leisurely walks and leisurely visits to the cafe. This was one of the hardest things to leave behind.

Things We Learned the Hard Way It's very hard to speak to someone on the phone when you do not speak much of each other's languages, and it's better to ask for help from the guest house staff than to get both confused and frustrated. Many places are called things other than what is listed on the map, so it's also helpful to find out what residents call things. While nearly everyone has a cell phone, internet service is still not up to Western standards, so you'll need to expect it to either take longer or not work at all.

The One Small Thing I'd Do Differently That Would Make a Big Difference If I had to choose just one thing to do over again, I would have brought less cash. It was very easy to get cash from the ATM, and we didn't have to find a bank that could exchange it for us. The fees were minimal, and we didn't have to worry about where to hide a large stash of American dollars. There's also no concern about bringing the right amount. We figured out after the first week how much we needed, and could just go get that amount when we needed it. It would have eliminated a lot of stress if we'd had less cash on us from the beginning.

The Small Things We Did Right That Made Life Easier It may sound silly, but bringing our own snacks in our carryon was a lifesaver in the beginning. I get randomly hungry with jet lag, and it was a relief knowing that there was a snack at hand when I awoke in the middle of the night, ravenous. We were also really glad we brought flip flops, both for use in the shared shower at our guest house, and to use as slippers in our room. Those two things alone made the trip easier.

We really loved spending a month in Ethiopia, both for the time it gave us to bond with Zinashi and the opportunity to experience another culture. If we had it to do all over again, knowing what we know now, we absolutely would do it. They say hindsight is 20/20, and our hindsight says, "That was AWESOME."

Read the rest of the series by clicking on these links:
Packing for an Extended Stay: Zinashi Edition
Packing for an Extended Stay: Mami Edition
Packing for an Extended Stay: Ababi Edition

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Packing for an Extended Stay: Ababi Edition

To start, you should know that Jarod thought he would be spending two weeks away from home for our court appearance, then coming home to work until we had embassy clearance. Thus, he packed for two weeks, during which he did not want to do laundry. He had the biggest suitcase and the most clothes. I still love thinking about this, as if I should get a prize because our original plan fell through and left him with the greater amount of luggage. But the truth is that we each planned for our own circumstances, and I am pretty sure Jarod knew I wouldn't be washing his laundry by hand in addition to my own, so he brought plenty of clothes. When he ended up staying the entire month once we found out we could have Zinashi with us, he was all set in the wardrobe department.

Jarod brought mostly what he wears at home--jeans, some polo shirts, some button up shirts, and a lot of t-shirts. We don't have a ton of photos of Jarod's outfits, so this will be a little lighter of a post, but hopefully you'll get the idea.

looking out across the courtyard

You can see one of the button up shirts here, on the first day we met Zinashi. We were planning on photos, and of course we wanted to make a good impression, on whom I'm not sure. Zinashi probably would have liked us just as well in our pajamas, and did, we soon found out.

ababi and zinashi take the tricycle for a spin

Because it was often cool in Addis, we saw a lot of this red fleece. Jarod also brought a black fleece just like this, and a black fleece zip up jacket, but we seem to have the most photos of the red one, so I'm assuming it's most popular. The jeans you see here were also a staple; I believe he brought a few pairs that were similar. This hat was the only hat Jarod brought, and the Adidas shoes pictured here were one of two pairs of sneakers he packed, the other pair being non-descript white sneakers.

lunchtime snuggle

Also in the layering department? One geek hoodie. There's that hat again; Jarod often showed up in the bathroom when there was no water to be had, or very little, and this hat was a lifesaver when it came to covering his little-washed hair. If you can't wash it, hide it. (Unless it's my jeans, in which case I clearly saw fit to parade them all over the city.)

time for laughs

For court and embassy, Jarod did it up right with a basic white dress shirt and classic tie. Not pictured are subtly pin-striped dress pants and black dress shoes.

Items and quantities for Jarod's clothes were:

7 to 10 t-shirts
2 polo shirts
2 or 3 button up shirts
1 white dress shirt
4 pairs of jeans
1 pair of dress pants
3 fleeces
1 hoodie
2 pairs of sneakers
1 pair of dress shoes
3 pairs of pajama pants (worn with whatever shirt he wore during the day)
And innumerable socks and underwear.

Other items Jarod packed included:

Toiletries For the two times that Jarod washed his hair (okay, maybe three or four times), he used my conditioner, but he brought his own full bottles of shampoo and body wash. He also packed his own toothbrush and toothpaste, but used floss from my kit, plus my cotton balls and Qtips. He packed all his personal toiletries in a hanging bag that was easily transported to the bathroom.

Medications Jarod had his own prescriptions for Cipro, the other antibiotic, and doxycycline, and we shared the rest of the medical kit (listed in my packing post here), aside from one item that Jarod would like to point out is a good idea. In case of gastro-intestinal distress, it's wise to pack flushable, medicated wipes for when things get a little bit, um, sore in certain areas. Jarod did use his Cipro and alternate antibiotic, and the combination worked great when he got a touch of food poisoning.

Gear Jarod brought his 15-inch MacBook Pro, and that's what we both used when we used internet at a cafe. We have the set of international adapters, so we just took the appropriate one and were good to go. On the MacBook we had video of our friend saying useful Amharic phrases, a full iTunes library, and all our photos of Zinashi that we'd received between June and September. All three of these things proved invaluable to us as we tried to communicate with Zinashi, have dance parties every night in our room, and make videos that would make people at home weep. The MacBook is also much lighter and faster than my iBook, so it was the only computer we ended up using. Jarod also brought his iPhone, and had downloaded a map of Addis Ababa before the trip. That map proved to be the handiest feature, but the iPhone was also awesome for quick photos and videos when our other gear was not within reach. We were also able to text when necessary, but it was too expensive to make calls from his phone. Jarod also brought some big headphones and our Flip video camera.

Miscellaneous Jarod brought flip flops for questionable shower situations, an aluminum water bottle, bug spray (to be shared between us), an Amharic phrasebook, an Amharic textbook, and a Harry Potter book (the second one). Jarod also had loaded his favorite television shows and movies onto the MacBook, and we purchased some DVDs from the street vendor that we could watch as well. We shared the same passport/money pouch, and Jarod was more often found wearing that than I was.

Jarod's large suitcase was full to the brim, though I don't think it weighed much more than mine, due to my girlie makeup and accessory needs and my bottle of detergent. If Jarod were to be packing over again, he says he'd pack the same items, but possibly less of some toiletries. We left behind a lot of Jarod's liquids for future guest house occupants. Since Jarod generally hauls the large luggage, I say that he can pack what he wants as long as we don't incur an extra fee that I could use to buy more delicious Ethiopian macchiatos.

Tomorrow I'll have one more post for you with some tips and tricks that we learned along the way, and some details that we left out of these initial posts so that they would be a more manageable length to read. We hope you'll join us again as we wrap this up.

Read the rest of the series by clicking on these links:
Packing for an Extended Stay: Zinashi Edition
Packing for an Extended Stay: Mami Edition
Packing for an Extended Stay: Odds and Ends, Tips and Tricks

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Need

current status

The sleep thing, it seems, is all about intuition. I start to recognize little cues. Like when she's screamed enough from being held in bed that I can loosen the I Am In Charge hold and pull her to me in an I Know It's Terribly Awful, Let Mami Help You hold. It's the cusp of anger and sadness, and it is so hard to watch her get there. My baby, struggling against sleep when she is so tired. My baby, so angry and hurt and scared. My baby, who wants to--no, needs to--be snuggled by her mama but can't let go right away.

Oh, sweetie, I know it's hard for you. We're going to figure this thing out. I promise.

Packing for an Extended Stay: Mami Edition

I've actually thought about writing this post about packing for myself since the end of our trip, when I realized that the jeans I was wearing hadn't been washed at all during our stay. And they were fine! They didn't smell or anything! But still, there's something wrong if your jeans don't get washed and it takes you four weeks to figure it out. Or is there?

Initially, I thought I would be in Ethiopia for up to two months, staying with a friend's family, so I wanted to pack things that would mix and match and would be easy to wash by hand. I wanted to be a bit more modest than I usually am in the US--not that I'm dressing like a lady of the evening or anything, but I didn't feel like skinny jeans would be the best choice in more conservative areas of the country. I decided my best bet would be to rely on trousers, knit tops, cardigans, and scarves that I could mix and match, with one dressy outfit packed for our court date and embassy appointment. I wanted things that could be easily dressed up if need be, and accessories that weren't too fussy. For air travel, I wanted to be comfortable and to be wearing some of the pieces I'd use every day in Ethiopia. Let's start there:

in dulles, on the way to meet zinashi

The only thing I'm wearing in this photo that didn't get worn in country is the thing you can't see--my pants. Those pants are also why I look a little second-trimester-ish, as they have a rollover waistband. They're basically wide leg yoga pants, and they are super comfy, but don't look exactly like pajamas (just...mostly like pajamas). The shirt was a wardrobe mainstay, as was the scarf and the cardigan.

jarod's birthday, addis ababa

Here's the shirt at one of it's best forays into the city, to get cake for Jarod's birthday. Stretched out a bit, this shirt isn't that modest, but paired with a Liberty of London scarf (thank you, Target clearance), it's just fine.

breakfast at the cozy place

Here we see the cardigan in its natural habitat, at a chilly breakfast table. It's secondary habitat was over pajamas. You'll also note the pale purple pashmina, which added a little warmth, and one of my other striped, scoop-neck tees. Three out of four of my knit tops were striped. I have a little bit of a stripe problem.

zinashi's favorite mode of transportation

Here's the scarf again, paired with the jeans I like to call my Mom Jeans, since they came with a bit of elastic in the inner part of the waistband (I defend this purchase by pointing out that you cannot see the elastic and also that they cost $6.48), the sneakers I brought along, and the cardigan I wore the day we met, plus my other accessory, the girlie in the Beco on my back.

first family photo

Speaking of the day we met, here we are. Under the cardigan I was sporting a 3/4 sleeve tee, and I had on my Mom Jeans again. What? I was becoming a mom! I felt it was only right to wear the Mom Jeans.

one of us is more excited about the lion zoo than the other one of us

Here's that shirt again, this time paired with the first scarf and no cardigan. And with a child who is less than impressed to be at the lion zoo.

future catalog models

And now we're back to the striped scoop neck tee, the pashmina you saw before, and my favorite pink cardigan. Also pictured: the jeans that never got washed. This photo is from a few days before we left Addis. Do those jeans look dirty to you? Of course they don't.

mami's sweetheart

I decided I should have one business casual type look along for times when we needed to be a little more formal, but not super dressy. The top and cardigan you see here were part of that look, and I also brought pale grey chinos to go with it. We seem to be lacking a photo of those chinos that does not contain a person that you are not allowed to see, so please use your imagination. The cardigan also went well with my dressy outfit, which I wore for court and embassy.

grins

Once again, the bottom half of the outfit is not pictured. The top was comfortable and didn't wrinkle when packed, and I chose a pleated grey skirt that fell below my knees and did not need ironing. I packed a pair of black wedges to wear as dress shoes, and only wore them for court and embassy. I brought a pair of gold flats with flowers for everyday, and in retrospect, I think I should have packed just a pair of black flats that I could have worn in place of both.

on mami's lap

Last, but not least, here's a shot of my white scoop neck tee. That shirt goes with everything, and I'm not sure why we don't have more photos of me wearing it.

To sum up, the items and quantities for clothes:
3 short-sleeved scoop neck tees, two striped and one plain white
1 three-quarter-sleeve striped tee
1 button-up cotton shirt
1 dressy top
4 cardigans in varying weights and sleeve lengths
2 pairs of jeans
1 pair of grey chinos
1 no-iron, dressy skirt
3 scarves/pashminas
1 pair of dressy shoes
1 pair of flats
1 pair of sneakers
2 sets of pajamas

I wish I had packed one more pair of chino-type pants in a darker color; the light grey showed spills and dust quite easily, so they needed to be washed after only one wearing sometimes. I also would have liked to have one more set of pajamas, or at least one more pajama shirt--the pants always felt cleaner than the shirts for some reason. As mentioned before, it would have been better to pack one pair of black flats as opposed to my gold ones and the dressier wedges. Everything else I was completely happy with and would pack again in a heartbeat. Mix-n-match clothing for a month totally works out.

Other (less interesting) items I packed are as follows:

Accessories I packed four pairs of small, simple earrings, one sweet necklace, and a flower brooch to wear in my hair.

Toiletries I packed full-size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, and used about 3/4 of each bottle. Also packed in full size were my facial cleansers, moisturizers, acne treatment, and sunscreen. I had a large bottle of saline solution and two extra pairs of contact lenses (mine are good for a month). I took a razor with replaceable blades, plus four extra blades, which, let's face it, can't be used if the water situation is unpredictable. Good thing I only had to wear a skirt twice! I also took a full tube of toothpaste, my toothbrush, and two containers of floss (I'm really into flossing). I ran out of floss, but there was plenty of toothpaste. I neglected to pack body lotion for myself, but it was no big deal. I did bring a mesh bath scrubby, which was great for exfoliating while waiting for the water to come back on. Also in the toiletry kit was a full bag of cotton balls and a ziploc filled with Qtips. I packed enough feminine items for two cycles, basically a full box of each thing I use. I had enough of everything, and (as noted) too many razors.

Beauty Tools I packed my flatiron, a comb, tweezers, and nail clippers. This was just right. I learned to part my hair without looking, and for the times I needed to look nice, I went over it with the flatiron once it was dry enough. Tweezers and nail clippers are self-explanatory; I don't leave home without those. For hair emergencies, I had five hair elastics and a lot of bobby pins.

Makeup I'm not big into makeup, but I like to put on a little bit just to look awake and alive, so I packed my usual kit, minus foundation. My sunscreen has a bit of a tint, so I figured that would suffice. In the kit, I had cheek stain, an eye shadow kit that also contained eyeliner, powder, mascara, and lip balm. I wore makeup very little; I just couldn't be bothered. For much of the trip, we were sharing a bathroom with other guesthouse occupants, and I didn't want to take up valuable bathroom time just putting on makeup. I did wear makeup for anything official we had to do, such as our court date and embassy appointment, but also including Zinashi's medical visits and our meeting with her Ethiopian relative, and I'm glad I brought exactly what I did.

Gear I brought an ancient, heavy iBook that I never took out of the case, which is the one thing that I really wish I'd left at home. We had no idea that Jarod would stay in country, and I thought that I would be using it as my main means of communication with friends and family, so I lugged it over. I also crammed in my Canon Rebel DSLR, the battery charger, extra batteries, an extra CF card, and the card reader. To plug in and recharge, we had a standard converter that is appropriate for dual voltage items. We borrowed a cell phone from our agency while we were in country, and this was my phone for the month. We were able to purchase phone cards to top up the minutes, and it was no problem to call our families, friends in Ethiopia, and the travel agent.

Medications Our international travel doctor prescribed Cipro and another antibiotic to be taken one after the other for three days each as needed; the combination was intended to stretch the amount of Cipro we could get with our insurance and still knock out whatever might be knocking us out. I never used mine. We were also prescribed doxycycline as an anti-malarial; the side effects from that gave me my worst flight ever, and I did not continue taking it. If I'd known how awful it would be, I would have never filled the prescription. We also brought along over-the-counter allergy medication, ibuprofen, immodium, and nasal saline.

Miscellaneous I brought a flashlight for blackouts, flip flops for questionable shower situations, a small plastic tote to carry shower items to the bathroom, pens and notebooks, an aluminum water bottle, my favorite gum, detergent for stain treating and hand washing clothes, safety pins, a passport/money pouch to be worn under clothes, our binder of paperwork, and a photo album for Zinashi's Ethiopian family. At the airport in DC, I grabbed both a novel and a sudoku book. If I had it to do over again, I would have brought more pens and a little notebook for Zinashi to have for herself, as she kept stealing mine. I didn't need as much detergent as I brought since we ended up having laundry sent out, and would have brought about half the amount I packed. Everything else was either necessary or very handy. I do wish I'd brought a bit more gum.

I felt like I packed a LOT of stuff, but I used almost everything, and packing for an extended stay in the developing world is no small feat. Tomorrow we'll talk a bit about what Jarod packed, and why he had more clothes with him than I did.

Read the rest of the series by clicking on these links:
Packing for an Extended Stay: Zinashi Edition
Packing for an Extended Stay: Ababi Edition
Packing for an Extended Stay: Odds and Ends, Tips and Tricks

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: Better Than Television!

Well, I'm sorry to say that this week Mary only gushed on and on about how gorgeous Zinashi and I are, and then topped it off by telling me that we look better than the people on television. Stars of the small screen, look out. We are coming for your modeling contracts, and we are hoping that if one is for Burberry, we get free perfume and a little trench coat for Zinashi.

tuesday, may 17, 2011
Click on the photo for more details.

Mary was cracking me up today because she wanted to talk about brains. For some reason, she thought the brain was only in part of a person's head, and she couldn't remember which part. It blew her mind that the brain takes up your entire skull. She just couldn't believe it! Isn't it just at the front, sort of at the top? Or just by your ears? Isn't there something else in there? Like parts of your eyes and ears and stuff? I didn't bother to explain it all, just said, "The brain takes up ALL THE SPACE, Mary, and other things are attached or just at the outside." She just kept shaking her head in disbelief. I have this fantasy wherein I walk in next week and pull a model of a skull and brain out of my bag. She'd just go bananas with all the information presented in physical, three-dimensional form. So if you have a model of a human skull and brain, please let me know. The education of a ninety-year-old woman depends on it.


Confused about who this Old Lady Mary person is and why we show up every Tuesday? Click here and proceed to the paragraph beneath the photo.

Packing for an Extended Stay: Zinashi Edition

This will be first in a series of posts detailing what we packed for our month in Ethiopia, what worked for us, what we didn't end up needing, and what we wish we'd packed. This first post will focus on Zinashi. At the time we were set to travel, she was three years old, but I think that our packing list would work for any small child, toddler through preschooler.

It was really by chance that we ended up with clothing for Zinashi for our stay, and by "chance," I mean my own obsession with not losing Zinashi's adorable clothes. I was fairly confident that we would not be able to have her with us, so I didn't think we'd need clothes for her right away. Still, I had worked hard to put together a little wardrobe for her that was both comfortable and adorable; there was no way I was letting those sweet items out of my sight. So even though we thought Jarod would be returning to the US for a time between court and embassy, and therefore could bring whatever we needed for Zinashi once we knew size and potty training status, and even though we thought she wouldn't be with us until our embassy appointment, I wasn't comfortable leaving Zinashi's wardrobe to the whims of luggage handlers and the possible forgetfulness of my husband. So I brought it all in my carryon. For clothing, we packed:

Eight Everyday/Play Outfits These varied in style, from harem pants and a tee to a romper with BabyLegs. Emphasis was on comfort. The amount was based on how many days, maximum, we thought we'd have her with us before coming home. I figured that if we didn't need to do laundry, that would be great. It turned out to be a good number of outfits when we ended up needing to use those clothes for a month; it took two days to get the laundry back once we sent it out, and we always had plenty of outfits to use in the interim. I would not pack more, but I wouldn't pack less either.

reading

someone please pull UP my legwarmers, and pull DOWN my romper legs

One Dressy Outfit This was to be used for our embassy appointment, and for any other special occasions that might arise. I ended up dressing her in this for Jarod's birthday as well, when Zinashi got her first taste of ice cream. It included a dressy cardigan and cotton tights. And that ridiculous headband, which she won't wear anymore, which makes me sad.

you lookin' at me?
Embassy Day

first ice cream
First Ice Cream

Homecoming Outfit Obviously, those traveling for a non-adoption trip could skip this one. We had two homecoming outfits--one for wakeup on the first plane ride, and one to change into right before the last flight. This ended up being sensible since our layover in DC was so long. You can see the first outfit in this video; her shirt says I'm New Here.



When we got off the plane, I had Zinashi in the Beco, so we don't have a good photo of her in the actual homecoming outfit. The best we have is this shot of the two of us asleep on the last leg of our trip.

the last flight home
That's a brown and cream striped top-turned-dress with sweet eyelet trim, dark pink leggings with a ruffle at the bottom, and a dark pink cardigan. Can you imagine how adorable it was? You can, can't you?

Layering Pieces We knew that the temperature in Addis Ababa could go as low as 40F at night and get up into the 70s during the day, so I wanted to make sure that she was warm, but we could modify outfits as it got warmer in order to keep her cool. To that end we brought four long-sleeved shirts for layering and both a sweatshirt and a cardigan.

shiro face

in the crib we never used

Hats and Headbands I packed three of each for everyday and threw in the fancy headband and pumpkin hat at the last minute. Because her hair was short and I knew that I wouldn't be accustomed to caring for it properly, I packed wide headbands and jersey knit hats that would both cover head surface and be comfortable.

oh, come on, this is just not fair

reading her favorite book

the hat is a pumpkin!

Socks, Undies, Pajamas We packed five pairs of one-piece pajamas; the ones that zipped ended up being my favorite, as they were just easier than those with snaps. All were long-sleeved and full legs, and most had feet. We brought ten pairs of socks, basically one pair for each outfit. We did not pack any underwear since we didn't know if she was potty trained or not, and we thought Jarod could bring whatever we needed on the second trip. When he didn't return home, we had to think fast and go find some underwear. Luckily, there was a baby shop up the street, and Jarod was able to procure a dozen pairs of tiny underwear featuring butterflies. We also bought diapers there for use at night; most of the time she stayed dry, but we didn't want to take chances.

Shoes We brought one pair of Robeez shoes and one pair of sneaker style Mary Janes. The sneakers were great for when she wanted to run around, and the Robeez did double duty as indoor shoes and dressy shoes. We also found that the Robeez were best for when I wore her on my back in the Beco, as I could hold her feet and reassure her, and she could actually feel my hands through the soles. You can see both the Robeez and the sneakers in photos above.

And now for the other stuff. As if looking adorable weren't enough, Zinashi also needed a few other supplies. Some things we packed on the first trip, and some things were sitting thousands of miles away on her dresser, so we had to purchase them.

Toiletries We did pack these. All the hair and skin care products were from the California Baby Super Sensitive line. We didn't know what skin issues she would have or if she would have an aversion to any scents, so we decided to stick to what would be least offensive. We packed a bottle of shampoo/baby wash and a bottle of lotion. We also brought Spry kid's toothpaste and a toddler-sized toothbrush. In a small container, I put some coconut oil to moisturize her hair, but we never did get the hang of that, and her poor hair was dry the whole time. If I had it to do over, I would have packed some Shea Moisture shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in conditioner. I'm sure that coconut oil works great, but no one had shown me how to use it, and I clearly didn't understand the instructions properly. I also would have preferred to have a wide tooth comb; we read a post that encouraged a natural bristle brush for short hair, and it didn't do the job, leaving matted bits in her hair that we tried to get out with a fine tooth comb that came in a set of other things we bought in country. Poor baby had to wear hats a lot when we went out so people wouldn't see the shame of her parents' ineptitude.

Toddlercare Tools We did not have a bib, and she turned out to be a messy eater, so we bought one of those at the baby shop. We also picked up a set of dishes that included a sippy cup, a bottle, a bowl with a lid, and a snack cup with a lid. All these came in very handy, both in country and on the plane ride home. We had one package of baby wipes, but it wasn't enough to last the month, so we bought more of those in country. I also brought a small blanket that she could snuggle up in; this I'd made myself out of a cute cotton print for one side and a soft minkee for the other.

Medications We packed the basics for this category: liquid ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and allergy medication, plus some homeopathic honey cough syrup. We also had a large tube of antifungal cream to treat her ringworm. In addition, I brought a small first aid kit containing alcohol wipes, bandaids, and antibiotic ointment. I did not bring a thermometer and really wish I had.

Stain Treater/Laundry Detergent I list this as a separate category only because it was a lifesaver to have it with us. Even though we had laundry service most of the time in country, when there was a bathroom-type accident or stains on her clothes, I could take care of those myself. Biokleen detergent sufficed for both uses; rubbed into stains at the end of each day, it did its work and they came out by the time the clothing was washed, and it took just a smidge to thoroughly wash up "accident" clothes (mostly undies, sometimes pants). The only thing the Biokleen couldn't touch were the berebere sauce stains on her bib. I will keep that bib as a reminder of her shiro-eating obsession, so I don't mind.

Toys and Books We brought four board books with us, a copy of Fantastic Mr. Fox for reading aloud at bedtimes, a few special toys, and a bunch of what I like to call "crap toys." I kept everything in a cloth bag I'd brought along, thinking that I'd bring that bag with me with I visited her at the transition home; this worked out great for keeping us organized when she ended up being with us the whole time. The special toys were an O Ball and the rabbits I made for her, and the crap toys were items from US Toy, such as bracelets, necklaces, small cars, foam stickers, and wind-up toys. She was mostly afraid of the wind-up toys, so those stayed in the bag, but she loved everything else. We also ended up buying her a little art set with markers and crayons, but she didn't use it much because she preferred my pen and notebook. She also preferred the flashlight to all other toys, and once entertained herself for an entire afternoon with a roll of toilet paper and our bag of over-the-counter medications.

comfort objects

her favorite toy is the maglite

hard at work

And that's it! I realize that it looks like a lot all written out, but it all would have fit in my carryon if there hadn't been the no liquids rule. Simple. Tomorrow I'll talk a little bit about what made the list for my suitcase, so stay tuned.


Read the rest of the series by clicking on these links:
Packing for an Extended Stay: Mami Edition
Packing for an Extended Stay: Ababi Edition
Packing for an Extended Stay: Odds and Ends, Tips and Tricks

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ababi Mondays: Pancakes

So today it was left up to me to provide sustenance for both myself and Zinash. With limited cooking skills (Mary would said limited to frozen pizza and PB&J) this presents a little bit of a challenge. But I do have a few tricks up my sleeve.

I can remember growing up that many of the times that my Dad was the one providing breakfast on the weekends that usually meant we ended up with pancakes. Which I loved. It really is one of those things that I look back on fondly. So this morning I thought I'd give it a run.

Now usually when we made pancakes growing up we were pretty specific about what we used. We always seem to use this pancake mix from Nebraska (Cooper's Best). Honestly it's the best stuff out there. Really good pancakes. My secret ingredient was always using 7Up instead of water. Made for some sweet, light, fluffy pancakes!

Well I didn't have any of those ingredients today but we set out anyway.

IMG_0066

Ya know what, they turned out all right! Zinash approved at least.

This is something that we are going to have to continue. And in doing so I hope to give Zinash some of the same fondness and memories that I have from growing up.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Morning

Instead of going to church this morning, we all slept in and ate cookies for breakfast. This isn't what we originally intended to do, but it turned out that we needed a little less to do and a little more time to just hang out. The cookies were palmiers, which I impulse purchased last night at Costco when Zinashi and I arrived hungry, but too late for free samples. I like to pretend that palmiers are closely related to breakfast pastries, so it's not like we are serving our child something of lesser nutritional value instead of a meal.

sunday brunch

At 11:32am, Zinashi is on her third cookie. So let's call it brunch. Then I won't have to make lunch either.

Happy Sunday, everybody. I hope this day gives you a little time to relax.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Our Day in Photos: May 13, 2011

A fellow blogger, who is also a fellow adoptive mom to some really handsome Ethiopian boys, has invited anyone who is willing to choose a day and take a photo every hour, chronicling what life is like on a typical day. I thought this sounded like fun, so here we go. Of course I managed to make it happen on Friday the 13th, but what can I do? Nothing. I'm not doing it tomorrow with a second kiddo in tow, that's for sure.

8am
may 13, 2011, 8am

Zinashi is usually a later sleeper, and she's been having trouble falling asleep again, so she's not even close to waking up at this point. To nudge her closer, I turn off the sound machine, encourage the cat to join her, and do nothing to avoid making noise as I go about washing my face, dressing, and making breakfast. It's not long before she's awake, and I get her dressed and finish making breakfast. We all eat together and head out the door to drop Jarod off at work.

9am
may 13, 2011, 9am

We've invited a friend, whose mama is a friend of mine, to meet us at the zoo, but the zoo isn't open yet, and our friends aren't ready yet anyway, so we hang out at Barnes and Noble. I flip through a book while Zinashi gets ready to do some serious interpretive dance to the smooth jazz they've got playing. We move throughout the children's department, and Zinashi is satisfied that we are all on our own. Lately she has taken to telling me, "I no like people, Mami. I no like lot of people at the store." I knew this already, but it's nice to know that my mama radar is working just fine. We exit the children's department for a bathroom break just as another family is coming in.

10am
may 13, 2011, 10am

A little buna break in the cafe. The guy totally gets our order wrong, giving Zinashi a much larger hot chocolate than she can drink, and giving me a smaller mocha than I ordered. We choose a table, and then Zinashi directs me to a different table. She wants to have one all to herself. I pretend my feelings are hurt deeply, and she wanders over, "Talk Ethiopia, Mami?" We say a few words about injera while I consider the weather and text our friends to make sure that they still want to meet us even though the weather is enough to drive one straight to the sofa for a day of silent reflection on the meaning of life, followed by a little weeping. (In other words: grey and chilly.) Not only are they still up for it, but they're ready to go. We head to the car, and I eventually have to pick Zinashi up because the weather has affected her so negatively that she is shuffling along an inch at a time.

11am
may 13, 2011, 11am

Here we see Zinashi and Mona not really seeing the tiger. All the animals thought the weather was craptastic as well, and they weren't interested in activity. Still, we pressed on, and saw some birds that were fighting over sticks to build their nest, some freshly-shorn sheep and llamas (I guess it was haircut day at the zoo recently), camels, and sleeping lemurs and meerkats.

Noon
may 13, 2011, noon

Finally, some activity! Nikita the polar bear won't let poor weather get in the way of his OCD. He must swim the same pattern over and over and over again. Luckily, this pattern brings him right into view, and the kids are thrilled.

1pm
may 13, 2011, 1pm

At home, wrapping up lunch. Zinashi is trying to delay naptime by eating veeerrrrrryyyyy slowly. Nice try, sister. Do I need to set the timer? She answers in the negative, requests that I save the rest of her food for later, and we head in for naptime. She struggles a little bit, as we've come to expect, but she does go to sleep just in the nick of time for...

2pm
may 13, 2011, 2pm

Laundry! This photo is a bit misleading because all I did with that laundry was eventually move it to a different location. I did, however, put in a new load, put some laundry in the dryer, and then decide that I needed a power nap while I waited for a load to dry. I fell asleep with one cat next to me and one cat sleeping on my outstretched arm. I woke twenty minutes later with my arm asleep and the cats upset that I was starting to stir. I paid some bills online and then it was time for...

3pm
may 13, 2011, 3pm

More laundry! Shortly after I took this photo, Zinashi called for me, and we folded this basket's contents together. Don't tell her this, but I'm about to refold her items. We need to work on a little precision. Once the laundry was folded, we headed out the door.

4pm
may 13, 2011, 4pm

Zinashi loves helping me grocery shop. She usually holds the coupons and the list, and much of the time she wants to choose the bananas. Today her energy was low, so she rode in the cart much of the time. As much as I feel sorry for her that she's tired and not sleeping well, I must admit that it's tons easier to get the shopping done if she's in the cart. We got what we needed, she got some stickers, and we headed home.

5pm
may 13, 2011, 5pm

In the car on the way home, she got upset to the point of real tears over something minor, and so when we got home, I offered her a big hug. She said, "Snuggle, Mami." I figured the turkey bacon and cheese could wait a bit to hit the fridge, so we got cozy on the desk chair. I snuck Photo Booth open, but it wasn't long before she was mugging for the camera and wanting to take photos herself. It kept her busy until it was time to get back in the car again.

6pm
may 13, 2011, 6pm

At the Apple Store, waiting for Jarod to be done with work. She loves to play this game, The Meadow, and I encourage it. She finally figured out that there were other games on those computers, but I am loath to introduce her to Dora the Annoying Explorer or any other noisy nonsense, so we just stick to The Meadow. When Jarod is ready to go, we walk out together to the car, with Zinashi swinging between us, holding both our hands.

7pm
may 13, 2011, 7pm

Dinner. Zinashi has been needing lap time at meals lately, so I moved her plate next to Jarod's. She misses her Ababi during the day, and this is a nice way for them to reconnect.

8pm
may 13, 2011, 8pm

Zinashi has had a bath and we've put on lotion, and tonight she's insisting that she can put on her jammies by herself. We let her try. After this, the routine is family toothbrushing time, three books with one of us, then rocking and going to sleep with the other one. Tonight is Jarod's turn for books and mine for rocking and coaxing to sleep. Oh boy! Can't wait!*

9:27pm
may 13, 2011, 9:27pm

9pm came and went while I was helping Zinashi fall asleep, and by the time I've soothed her into dreamland, it's time to rush through the rest of the evening. The cat has generously offered to help me put clean sheets on the bed. How nice. As soon as I'm done, I hit the shower.

10pm
may 13, 2011, 10pm

While most of the photos from the day are uploading, I watch a little bit of About a Boy and rub in copious amounts of benzoyl peroxide. Gotta love that adult acne! I moisturize, then settle in to write this post.

11:27pm
There is no photo. I'm about to hit PUBLISH and head to bed.

*We're pretty much back to square one with sleep issues. I don't want to talk about it, except that I do, in order that you'll feel sorry for our poor girl and for us. I find that naptime is easier, as it takes less time to help her fall asleep, and night is just a test of patience and compassion. The hardest part is that we have no idea what has caused this regression. We're riding it out, pretending that it will get better. Please pretend with us. We like having hope!
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