Friday, July 29, 2011

Tax Refund!!!!

We got it--that mythical adoption tax credit--and it came early. If that's not a good surprise on a Friday, I don't know what is.

I paid off a little debt and will pay off more this afternoon.

But first.

I booked our vacation for the fall.

To these two shabby places.

another cheesy tourist shot
This is London. (I hope you knew that without me telling you.)

above the mediterranean
This is Nice, France. (Perhaps not as obvious.)

This time, we add another someone to our self portraits.

these may be my favorite sunglasses yet
We mean this girl, obviously.

We reserved an apartment in Nice months ago, and as the time plodded on with no tax refund, plus adoption debt still to pay, I had to admit that it might not happen. We just couldn't save enough in time to pay for things. But then! Surprise! Tax refund in our cheaper than they've been since we booked the apartment...and a call from the bank asking if we knew these charges had been made to our account. I had to laugh.

Yes, I know.

I made them.

With great glee.

Happy, happy, happy Friday, everyone.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

1001 Reasons to Love Zinashi: Reason #10

What she lacks in form, she makes up for in enthusiasm.

(Those are supposed to be jumping jacks.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ten Months a Family

Today marks ten months that we've been a family. I love being a family, and I don't know that there's much more to say about it today. Our girl is amazing, and we are blessed to be her family every single day, not just on the day of the month that marks another month together.

So in lieu of more words and sentiments about family and love and being together, I offer you another video from our Ethiopia archives. This is the one in which I decided to feed Zinashi Pop Rocks after finding them in the Magic Cabinet* downstairs at our agency's guest house. I hadn't even realized there was a Magic Cabinet during our first stay until the very last day, and so when we came back to stay during our embassy week, I felt I should make full use of it. The chocolate bars, cookies containing chocolate, and other things with chocolate as an ingredient quickly disappeared. Into my stomach. The Pop Rocks, however, we saved for Zinashi. Enjoy.

*The Magic Cabinet was what I called the cabinet that contained all manner of snack foods, plus a lot of other handy things like medications other families had left behind (thanks, whoever you are, for the Pepto tablets--Jarod found those very useful), Pull-Ups (snagged a couple of those for the plane ride home), bottles, etc. At the end of our month in Addis, those treats and useful things--there for us to just have!--were a welcome sight.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: Florals for Everyone!

We woke up late today. Please be gentle when judging our outfits. Old Lady Mary did notice that we were both wearing florals, and she very much approved of the hat we slapped on Zinashi's head when I didn't have time to neaten up her very messy style. For a day that started in a bit of a rush, I'd say that's more than good enough.

tuesday, july 26, 2011
Click on the photo for more details of our outfits and Old Lady Mary's reactions.

One day the photos will improve dramatically, and you will be all, "WHOA. What happened here?" And the answer will be that we finally received our tax refund and were able to afford a decent camera. Do you think that if the nation defaults, it will affect receiving tax refunds? If so, please look at that terrible photo above and call your elected representatives.

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, July 25, 2011

Struggle and Joy

There are a lot of things that no one tells you before you adopt, and similarly there are a lot of things that you simply cannot fathom. No one told me that I would be so heartbroken over Zinashi being unable to stay with her Ethiopian family, while at the same time being so grateful that she is here. No one mentioned the struggle of wondering if there was something else that could have been done to keep Zinashi with her first family, and how that can tear a person apart. I know that Zinashi's family made their decision for good reasons. I look at her today, healthy and strong, and I know that if she were to waste away before my eyes, if she were to become sick and there was no care I could give her to help her, I would do the same. If the option were likely death, or even a lifetime of hunger, versus a life in which she would be separated from me but have everything she needs, and more, I would choose the latter. Because I love her. And then I would spend every single day of my life feeling the emptiness of the hole that she left behind in my heart, in my life. It would be excruciating.

I have struggled with the guilt of the rich, of those who know they have something that others lack. Zinashi is here because we have, and her family has not. I think it is appropriate that I carry that burden, that I never forget that it was privilege that built our family. The hardest part, I'm finding, is keeping it from interfering with being fully present as Zinashi's mother. Feeling as if I don't deserve her does nothing to further my mothering skills. So I remind myself that I did not make this world unfair. I did not cause the misfortune and evil that have brought an entire world to its knees. I cannot change what has gone on. BUT. I can change the now and the future, at least a little bit. I can change it for Zinashi personally by being the mother she needs, and I can change it for others by giving, by caring, by making my voice heard.

Adoption is not the answer to the orphan crisis or to the food crisis or the other crises that surround us. I want to be clear about that. We chose adoption because we wanted to build our family, and it felt right to us to be a family to someone who already existed who needed just that. But there is so much more that we can and hope to do for those who are not and will not ever be our children. We are thinking a lot now about what this means for us, how we need to expand and grow to be able to give much of ourselves to those who need us. Like so many others who feel this tugging at their hearts, we don't know what it means for our future. We see people who inspire us to do more and to do better, and we wait to find out where and to what we will be led. Maybe it will be a big leap, or maybe it will be small steps. We'll take either, or both. Whatever, wherever, whomever. In the meantime, we will handle with care that which has already been given to us for safekeeping.

our happy girl

For safekeeping, and, let's be honest here, for joy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

1001 Reasons to Love Zinashi: Reason #9

She looks marvelous in a shower cap.

1001 reasons to love zinashi:  reason #9

Yes, that is a Hello Kitty shower cap; I failed to find a shower cap at Target, but it was a cinch at our favorite toy store. It was right there with all our other favorite things to look at.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Help, If You Can

It appears that Zinashi's Ethiopian family is in the drought/emergency zone, and we are worried. We were told that you aren't supposed to give money or any significant material gifts to your child's Ethiopian family; it makes it look too much like baby buying. We support this and wouldn't dream of doing anything to jeopardize ethical Ethiopian adoptions. At the same time, to Zinashi and so many other adoptees, her roots are everything. Her Ethiopian family is everything. If something happened to them, without us trying to do something to help, it would be...I don't even have words for it. At this point in time, we are trying to find someone near Awassa who can travel to Zinashi's village and simply check in on her family, then report back to us. We don't know at this point what would be ethical by adoption standards, but we are hoping that once we know more we can figure out an acceptable way to help them. Please email me if you have any connections, even potential ones: marymuses at gmail dot com

For those of you who do not have connections in Ethiopia, we ask you to please consider giving to help those in need in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya,Somalia, and Uganda . Care is an excellent organization with good ethics, and they have a fund set up already. You can easily give there if you don't have another place on your radar.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Difference in Preference

Today I dragged my mom my mom accompanied us to Lawrence, Kansas, so I could ogle fabric while someone else kept an eye on Zinashi we could enjoy some shopping and lunch together, and the first shop we came to was a toy store. My mom promised Zinashi she could choose a toy if she did well with the rest of the shopping and lunch, and since she was bribed properly motivated, she did just fine, and we returned to the toy store. On our first visit, much to my delight, she pointed out these nesting blocks and exclaimed over them.

I felt hopeful that she might choose them.  She has two Charley Harper books, which she loves, at home, plus a matching game that she's not quite ready to play with yet.  Familiarity!  Plus, she's really interested in learning letters right now!  And from my end, they're stylish and store easily.  WINNER!

Except that she didn't pick those.  She wrinkled her sweet little nose and said, " TOY."  So she chose beavers riding tricycles instead.

Which:  okay.  They fall within our Acceptable Toy Item parameters*.  And luckily, my mom doesn't allow her to choose things without my consent.  Otherwise we would have come home with something like this:

Kids:  they just don't have the best taste.

*It's true:  we don't allow certain types of toys into our home, and in some cases the preference has a lot to do with style.  Maybe we're horrible parents, or maybe we're just holding onto the last shred of our dignity.  Either way, Zinashi seems to be just fine.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: We Matched, and She Noticed

When Jarod has to work at 9am, like he did this morning, there's a little more of a push to get ourselves out the door. But we made it, and Mary was pleased with us and with our outfits. After she got done complaining about the heat and how it can kill people, she started in on some lovely compliments. Hooray! We're back to normal!

tuesday, july 19, 2011
Click on the photo for more details about our outfits and Mary's reactions.

The heat truly is horrific for someone like Old Lady Mary; I wish she would let me bring her all her groceries, but she won't allow it. She prefers to walk half a mile to get her own. She says she has to get out sometimes, or she'll die. And I'm all, "Um, Mary, if you get out for too long with the heat this intense, you could die. STAY IN AND CALL ME IF YOU NEED SOMETHING." But she won't do it. I try not to be too annoyed about it, but sometimes I roll my eyes a little when I say, "MARY, it is NO TROUBLE. Stop thinking you are troubling me if you call. It troubles me that you DON'T call." Good thing her vision's not good enough to see my facial expressions. I'd be in trouble!

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, July 18, 2011

A Little Monday Morning Sunshine for You

We went to a birthday party last night. Zinashi was so excited, she practically glowed.

ready to head out and party

Or maybe that was just perspiration.

Whatever it was, it was pretty cute.

Good Monday morning, all.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Doing Hair

After our busy two weeks with the big kids, I decided that today we needed to just stay home. I sent Jarod off to work in the car before Zinashi even woke up (which she is mad about, but she will get over it). My purpose for today's little break was to catch up on rest and get a more time-consuming hairstyle done. I love doing six puffs and calling it a day, or just leaving it in her Afro style, but we can't keep doing the same styles over and over again, and we really need to do some protective styles these days since we are spending so much time outdoors. I did a head full of twists before, and she did fine, so I thought I'd give it a go again. I think she did even better this time than last time, and I'm getting quicker with the parting comb as well.

Doing tightly curled, dry hair can be a bit of a challenge if you've not done it before; what it needs to be healthy and look nice is different from what you may be used to. I love Zinashi's hair, and I especially love that I can do styles with it that will stay in, which has never worked with my own straight, oily hair. But a lot of styles take a chunk of time to complete, and four-year-olds aren't known for their sitting still skills, so we have to set ourselves up for success. Here's what we do to make it work for us.

1. Do it on a day when everyone is well-rested and relaxed. Today was perfect since we both got to sleep late.

2. Start while your child is eating so that they're distracted by something they really want to be doing in the beginning. I just ate my breakfast quickly this morning and grabbed the hair caddy before she was halfway finished with hers.

3. Figure out which styles you can do while your child is moving a bit. No small child will hold her head in a certain position for more than ten seconds. They're too easily distracted.

4. Bring various toys at various intervals. We started with little wooden vehicles as soon as she was done eating, then brought out the bin of little animals.

Here is our result:

"stop taking my picture"

right side

left side, with flower

I could say all kinds of picky things about what's going wrong with this hairstyle, but the truth is that it's the best job I've done so far, and Zinashi likes it, which is what really matters. With practice comes greater skill, and I am getting better. So far, I've only had one person correct my hairstyling methods in public; I'd say that's pretty good. If you are at the beginning of learning to style African hair, give yourself some grace and have patience with both yourself and your kiddo. It gets easier with time.

At some point I will likely take Zinashi to have her hair trimmed, and at the same time we may get it professionally braided. I think it will be a nice treat, but I don't want to make a habit of it. As her mother, I want to be the one to care for her hair. I like doing it myself, even if it isn't perfect, and she likes it, too. It's good for both of us.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Little Much

I've mentioned in my Old Lady Mary posts the past two Tuesdays that we had an extra friend with us; she is ten years old and a good kid. On Wednesday, her brother, eleven years old and also a good kid, came home from scout camp, and I offered to take both of them for the rest of the week since their family needed someone. It seemed simple. Big kids can do more for themselves and even play with Zinashi a little bit. And that's been absolutely true. But big kids are also harder to entertain in an 850 square foot house. And even when they get big, they still bicker like when they were small. Frankly, it has only taken this long to completely wear me out.

I had talked to Jarod about taking on some extra hours with big kids on a regular basis in the fall, even if we got our adoption tax credit before we went totally broke from paying off debts. I figured it would be nice to have a bit of extra money, and it might work out fine since Zinashi doesn't feel threatened by older kids. But Jarod looked at me like I was nuts, and today I have to tell you that I'm glad he wasn't a fan of that plan. Because I would suffer, and I would become cranky, and I would spend more of the extra income than is reasonable on keeping myself awake via pricey iced mochas.

I wonder sometimes if I am just a total wimp; I know a lot of women who take on extra hours with extra kids and do just fine. But I can't hack it. It's just...too much. And maybe that does make me a wimp, or maybe it just means that it's something I can't manage at the same time that I manage our family life. I'm really not sure. The one thing I'm sure of is that I like my life and my role in our family best when I am focused only on our family. And maybe that's enough. I sure hope it is.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

1001 Reasons to Love Zinashi: Reason #8

She dresses like there's a party, even when there is no party.

1001 reasons to love zinashi:  reason #8


Every day Zinashi asks me to tell her part of her story; she usually wants to hear both how Jarod and I found out about her and came to get her, and about how she was born to Ama and Ana. In that order. I can't fill in many details of her life with her first family, but I try to think of something we haven't talked about and bring it up, hoping that it will trigger some other memory for her. As for the stories with Jarod and me involved, I can add a little something every time. I like to tell her about the first time she smiled for us, when she decided we were okay to talk to, the first time she indicated that she very much wanted us to chase her and scoop her up in our arms. And then I like to ask her about what she remembers.

She never tells us much about her time at the transition home. We ask questions, and she can give us answers, but she doesn't volunteer much information. We ask what she did at the transition home, and she simply says, "Waiting. Waiting Mami, Ababi." Even though she's said it a hundred times by now, I still have trouble believing it. How can a girl who is so small understand and accept that people she doesn't know are coming for her? How is it that she wanted to be with us? I sometimes wonder if she is fibbing to make us feel good. I look back through our photos from our first day, and I see a shy, sad girl. But last night, looking back through our photos for a project, I looked at this one with new eyes, and I saw the way she is looking at me, in that very first hour together, and I know it as the way she looks at me now. The way she looks at me after she's said, "I just need Mami." And then I think, well, maybe she's been telling the truth after all.

she still gives me this look

We are so, so lucky.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The IRS: Sometimes Kinda Nice

In February, as soon as we had Zinashi's Social Security number, we filed our taxes. Included in the filing was our form for the adoption tax credit. It's a generous credit that just became refundable this year, and there have been quite a lot of complications due to this fact. Because it is basically a check being written from the IRS as opposed to simply a credit on whatever you have paid, the IRS wants to be super careful that no one who is ineligible tries to claim it. It would add up to quite a lot of wasted dollars. So the IRS decided to do the sensible thing and...audit everyone who filed for the credit. This came as a surprise to most of us, and has left us waiting quite awhile for a check that we thought we'd have by now. We've also had to wait to find out what the IRS needed from us, to have someone look over the information that we sent, and to then receive the refund.

Today I finally received a call from an IRS agent who is handling our case, and I was more than pleasantly surprised. She told me first of all that Zinashi is gorgeous (duh!), then what she had from us, and what she still needed, and assured me before I even asked that she knew that we had adopted Zinashi. She asked for two documents to be faxed to her, and that was it. Others have talked of having to send all their cancelled checks and having their agent be unpleasant, but we did not have that experience at all.

I know this will sound a little corny, but I totally prayed every day that we would get a nice agent who would not require us to send in cancelled checks. It's not that I wasn't willing to do it, but just that it would be one more step to complete and then wait for a result. I am so grateful today that our agent was so kind and made it so easy for us. We can call to find out the estimated date of our refund in two weeks, but we'll probably just wait and have a nice surprise when it shows up.

This is a huge relief in many ways. The reason we were able to move forward with adopting Zinashi is that we knew this would be available to us, and that the money we borrowed to make her adoption a reality could be paid off once we received it. Zinashi has so needed me to be here and to be hers, and I cannot tell you how much it means to be able to do that for her without having to go back to work. While we have been waiting, I've had to pick up some odd hours, and we were looking at other ways that I could make a small income until we knew when the borrowed amount would be repaid. It's been okay, but it's not something that's sustainable for our family. So today, I am grateful, and I am grateful to God and the IRS.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: Stooping to New Lows to Get Our Outfits Noticed

We brought along company again when we visited Mary, so I'm not surprised that she was a little quieter than usual, but Zinashi picked her dress and bow to please her, so after fifteen minutes of no outfit mentions, I finally just announced that Zinashi worked really hard to find something that Grandma Mary would like to see her wear. From there it was a shower of compliments for Zinashi, so I'll say it was worth it.

tuesday, june 12, 2011
Click on the pic for more details of our outfits and Old Lady Mary's reactions.

Zinashi also brought her newest favorite toy, a yellow playground ball she earned by doing a good job going to sleep at naptime. I say hooray for that, and she can bring it anywhere she likes.

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, July 11, 2011

Ababi Mondays: It's what you don't see/hear

What you don't see here is both Zinash and I have headphones in and we are speaking French to the computer. If you thought this kid was cute before, wait till she starts talking French (I'm sure a few years off). Minds will be blown!

This is one of those moments you hear parents talk about it but but you don't really grasp it until you're in it. It's just kind of awesome being a dad.

1001 Reasons to Love Zinashi: Reason #7

Appropriate treatment of the cat.

1001 reasons to love zinashi:  reason #7

This is the cat that alternately drives us crazy and cracks us up. I'd say that a (well-cushioned) ride in a toy shopping cart is just the thing for her.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

This Post Brought to You by Peace and Quiet

When reading parenting blogs, I often come across mentions of date night and how important that is to a marriage after you've had kids. I usually do a little mental, "Well, yes, okay..." and then shrug. We haven't had a date night since Zinashi got home, and I don't feel like our marriage is in any danger because we've failed to institute this. And while it will be nice to go out with just Jarod at some point (rumor has it that we have Sade tickets for July 26), I haven't missed going out a whole lot. Because, well, we didn't go out a lot before Zinashi came along. Much of our connection as a couple happened at home, after dinner, just discussing things together. We still get to do that after Zinashi goes to bed. So what I'll say is that connection with your spouse should the goal, not necessarily a particular type of activity. If date night is what worked for you before, by all means, get on with it. But if not, or if it just isn't possible for you right now, don't feel like you are failing your marriage in some way. It's only a problem if your spouse feels differently. Then you might want to have a heart to heart and figure out something that will work for both of you.

I've felt very lucky to have Jarod as a partner in all this. He respects my opinions and talents and is so supportive of anything I'd like to try with Zinashi. I feel really lucky that he recognizes the hard work I put into mothering her and supports what we've accomplished while he is at work. And then on the days that I am trying to get non-Zinashi-friendly tasks done, or just need a bit of quiet, he is willing to take responsibility for all her needs so I can get things taken care of. This afternoon he's taken her on a little trip to the "Hello Kitty store" (actually a toy store called Zoom) so that I can get a little more work done on our kitchen without having to give a play-by-play to a curious four-year-old. All I had to do was ask, and he was up for the task. I know that not all husbands/fathers are so responsive, and I am grateful. He cares deeply for Zinashi and for me, and it shows. We are really, really lucky.

playtime with ababi

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Nature, Nurture, and the Avoidance of Helicopter Parenting

A friend directed me to this article, which I kind of love. Being a nanny and now a parent, it's hard to navigate how much to coddle and how much to encourage independence. It gets stickier when considering adoption and attachment and past trauma; I find I want to protect Zinashi more because of what she's already experienced. But at the same time, I know that she needs to be able to stand on her own two feet. And one thing better sleep has given us is a child who doesn't need us as much as she prefers to have us at her beck and call. There's a big difference. There's also a big difference between offering appropriate choices to a child who needs to feel some control over her own life and allowing that child to choose absolutely everything and run the show.

What I'd like to give Zinashi as she grows is a way to practice for the way the world works. I won't always be there to help her because she doesn't want to do something on her own, and I won't be able to swoop in and give her an alternate choice when the ones available seem unpalatable, and I certainly won't always be the one in charge, and someone, somewhere will ask her to do things and just expect her to do them. She needs to learn to do things that are hard for her, and she needs to accept that some things just are what they are, no choices available, and she needs to respect those in authority over her. To deny her the opportunity to learn those skills would be to leave her woefully unprepared for life.

So we start small. Each day she is expected to put on what I lay out for her to wear. This has been met with resistance. I don't care. We are still doing it. She can still choose her entire outfit on Wednesdays. Sometimes when she wants to sit on my lap instead of figuring out what to play with, I tell her to go play. We've known each other long enough now that I can tell when it's a need and when it's a preference (or a ploy to control what I am doing, because yes, kids do that to adults, and my daughter is no exception). Sometimes when she wants help, I say no. Again, we've known each other long enough now to figure out what is a need related to her need for security and attachment, and what is just a preference. Other parents may step in to do anything their child wants help with, but not us. And the results are so often hilariously glorious that we would be fools to mess with a good thing.

After a very busy week and in incredibly tiring day yesterday, I simply needed time to chill this morning, with no one on my lap and without hopping up frequently to help with an activity or project. So when Zinashi wanted to snuggle, I (gasp!) said, "No. You need to go play." She lingered and whined a bit before she got the memo that I meant business. And then she went and folded laundry, after which she asked for help getting down a coat. I am the one who hung her coats where she can't reach them, so I gave her a hand. And then this happened.

If you've been too busy providing your child with planned activities to have them figure out that they'd like to put on a puffy coat in July and put on a xylophone concert, then both you and your kids are missing out. Sit down, tell your kids to go play, and see what happens. It just might be fabulous.

Friday, July 8, 2011

What to Wear

It's Friday afternoon, hot, and you haven't had a proper nap. What should you put on to appear refreshed and ready to go?

what to wear on a tired friday

This, obviously.

Have a stellar weekend, internet friends.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Shout Out to the Night Owl Introverts

If you regularly stay up way past your bedtime to get some time alone, please raise your hand.

If you've had a busy week with extra people in it and are feeling particularly taxed, raise your hand again.

All right, I see that hand. And I'm inviting you here, to my happy place.

three and the sea

Where you've strolled after having this for breakfast.

first morning's breakfast, nice

And did I mention that you ate that breakfast alone? And strolled to the water alone? You did. Take a deep breath.

Feel better?


Me, too.

Adventures in Bureaucracy

Because we know so many people who have adopted internationally, and because I read so many blogs of people who have, I tend to forget that it's not something common to everyone. That people will have opinions and misconceptions and will ask for things that seem ridiculous. But never fear, various state and federal government agencies are here to remind me!

We are fortunate to live in a state that does not require readoption or adoption recognition in the courts if the child enters on an IR-3 visa. Furthermore, the state allows parents to change the child's name* on their state issued birth certificate without a court's approval. As long as our names appeared on her Ethiopian birth certificate, we were allowed to file a form that would change the name when the birth certificate from the State of Missouri was issued. It seemed pretty simple. We enclosed copies of the Ethiopian birth certificate, which is written in both Amharic and English, and our adoption decree, with the official translation used by the Department of State attached, as well as the required forms and fees. Shortly thereafter, we received all our documents back with a form stating that we needed to include a notarized letter stating that the translation on the birth certificate and the translation of the adoption decree were correct. I called the office to inquire if they were aware that the translations were accepted by the US Department of State. No, but they didn't think that mattered anyway, and no, they wouldn't check. They needed a notarized letter! From...anyone claiming to be a translator, actually, because they didn't have a form or any sort of certification requirement. I'm not kidding. I could have gotten our elderly neighbor to pretend to be an Amharic translator and sign a letter in front of a notary, and that would have been good enough. But the official translation approved by the Department of State? Unacceptable!

In the meantime, I'd gone ahead and gotten Zinashi's social security number in her original name so that I could file our taxes. I walked in with her birth certificate, which has her name and her photo on it, and her Certificate of Citizenship, which has her name and photo on it, as well as her passport, which has her name and photo both on the inside cover and on her IR-3 visa. We were pretty much carrying four forms of photo ID for a small child, and do you know what they asked? "Do you have a shot record we could use as identification?" A shot record. When I am carrying four forms of photo ID. I blinked kind of hard and explained that we had just handed over four items with her name and photo on them, and he said, "Well, I don't know if any of this will work. I mean, usually people come in with, like, a shot record or baby's first medical exam paperwork." When he saw the look of disbelief on my face, he followed up with, "We'll try, I mean, don't get upset, but I just don't know..." And then the Certificate of Citizenship worked fine because it is indeed one of the approved forms of identification.

So fast forward to today, when we finally had the birth certificate with name change in hand, and came in to get her name changed on her social security card. I handed over the new birth certificate, the Ethiopian birth certificate (you know, the one with her photo on it), the Certificate of Citizenship (also with her photo on it), and I'm pretty sure you can predict where this is going because, yes, internet, that man, who was a different man than the one who helped us the first time, asked for a shot record as identification.

Good. Grief.

*Lest you fear we've done the kind of thing I would find funny and changed her name to Absolutely Scrumptious McBride or something, let me assure you that we simply made formal the name we've been telling you that she had all along. Because of the way adoptions are processed in Ethiopia, each child is automatically given the father's first name and surname and his/her new middle and last name. Thus Zinashi was officially Zinash Jarod McBride for awhile, but no longer.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

DailyBuzz Moms!

I don't know why it's taken me so long to mention this, but we're really excited to be part of the DailyBuzz Moms publisher community. We were approached shortly before they launched and asked to be part of the community, and it sounded so cool that of course we said yes. We're really thrilled to be a part of such a talented group of writers. DailyBuzz Moms pulls together blog posts from moms across the web and features them in categories such as Nurture and Style. Plus, each day they also choose the Top 9 posts for a certain theme. Today, we made the Top 9! Go check it out! Thanks, DailyBuzz Moms!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: We Brought a Distraction, So We Got Nothin'

This week one of my favorite 10-year-olds is hanging out with us, and she came along to visit Old Lady Mary, thus providing a huge distraction that I didn't warn Mary about, and thus guaranteeing that we'd get no compliments. Why did we even try? We could have worn cutoffs and tube tops!

tuesday, july 5, 2011
Click on the photo for more details of our outfits.

Well, we don't own cutoffs or tube tops, so we just dressed nicely again. I do love that dress, which is surprising comfortable, and it's always nice to have an excuse for why Zinashi has to wear a certain outfit. Lately she's been wanting to choose her own outfit every day, but it's kind of gotten out of hand, so we're instituting a new policy. That policy is that on Wednesday she gets to wear whatever she wants, but the rest of the days she must choose from the two or three options I offer her. If there's a big fit thrown during the clothing selection process, I get to choose the whole thing. This is fairly new, but so far, so good. I know a lot of parents will allow their kids to choose whatever they want every day, and more power to you folks, but I like a nice balance of authority and choices, even when it comes to Zinashi's wardrobe.

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, July 4, 2011

For the Fourth of July, We Bring You Ice Cream

Everywhere we went in Ethiopia (oh, let's be honest, it's everywhere we've gone here in the US, too), Zinashi had a lot of fans. People would come up to hug and kiss her, and a few times she was spirited away for a treat. On Jarod's birthday, we went to Bilo's Pastry to have some cake, and Zinashi was again adored by many. When we were mostly done with our cake, two girls came in and proceeded to whisk Zinashi away from us in a flurry of, "Is this your baby? So cute! Come here, baby!", cover her with kisses, and give her one of their own ice cream cones when she expressed an interest. They were gone as quickly as they came, handing Zinashi and her ice cream cone back to us as they breezed out the door. It was clear that Zinashi had never had ice cream before, and it was also clear that it was confusing her. So cold, yet so delicious! Of all our Addis moments, this one in particular I am glad that we caught on video.

Happy Independence Day!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

This is Pretty Much Our Ideal Lifestyle

When we were on our own between court and embassy dates in Ethiopia, one of the things I loved was how easygoing everything felt. Our days were just peaceful and relaxed; we didn't plan a lot of activities or entertain Zinashi every moment. We would take a walk each day, and nap was a given, but the rest of the time we were pretty much just hanging out. Zinashi responded well to this, playing happily with her toys and dishes, helping herself to a little snack if she wanted one. I wish we could replicate this pace of life a little more at home.

In keeping with my Ethiopia nostalgia theme, I'll have one more video post for you to round out the holiday weekend tomorrow. We hope you and yours have been enjoying the long weekend and have a safe and happy 4th.

1001 Reasons to Love Zinashi: Reason #6

Superior vehicle stacking abilities, not to mention the fact that she asked to sit at the table and stayed there happily for over an hour.

reason #6:  superior vehicle stacking abilities

Saturday, July 2, 2011

1001 Reasons to Love Zinashi: Reason #5

She carries heavy things.

reason #5:  she carries heavy things

Inside: burgers for grilling in a covered Pyrex dish, plate of variety cheeses.

She Still Feels a Little Uneasy

Zinashi has always had an uneasy relationship with her shadow, and it is just recently that she's starting to be okay with it. Still, it's always easier to put her in the stroller or the Beco for a walk if it's a sunny day; otherwise we're stopping several times to talk about shadows and explain that they're fine, and that if someone steps on your shadow, they aren't stepping on you. I didn't realize until we were watching all our Ethiopia videos recently that we'd caught her berating her shadow on video. Please note two things:

1. Ferocious dance moves at the beginning.
2. That she actually smacks her shadow at one point.

PS--If you guessed that I'm feeling nostalgic about our time in Ethiopia, you're right. I'll be posting more video all weekend long.

Friday, July 1, 2011

When She Was Small

She used to fit inside a nightstand. And she used to like it.

What a funny little bug. Later, I'll upload the one where she interrupts her dancing to shout at her shadow.
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