Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Today's Lone Accomplishment

When your entire house is a messy, dirty hovel, the nice thing is that if you don't feel like doing a particular task, there are plenty more to choose from. Even though we are out of clean pans in which to saute things, and I do plan on sauteeing something for dinner, I simply couldn't face the dishes. So I faced my desk instead. For four hours.


i feel a great sense of accomplishment when looking at this photo

I realize that some of the dramatic improvement is lost here because I failed to include a before photo, but if you'll just imagine a desk covered with what appears to be treasures found and deposited by rats who have been digging through several neighbors' garbage bins, you'll get the idea. I even found a lone M&M under a pile of papers. We don't even buy M&M's! How did that get there? More importantly, how long was it there, and do you think it is a problem if my child shoved it in her mouth?

zinashi in her helmet

She looks pretty tough; she'll probably be fine, right?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: Do We Ever Sleep?

Today Old Lady Mary was feeling much better about life (even though when I asked about her week, she gave her standard rating of "TERRIBLE, just TERRIBLE"), so she noticed that we were all spiffed up straight away. Frankly, if she didn't notice the girl in that ridiculous hat, I was going to have more serious concerns about her eyesight. But she noticed our outfits and loved them, wondering out loud if we ever go to bed. We must never sleep if we are able to look so good, right? I mean, aren't we awake all night choosing our outfits?

Um, no.

tuesday, august 30, 2011
Click on the photo for more details of Mary's reactions and our outfits.

It's a grey, quiet day. Maybe the weather soothed Mary a little bit, or maybe it just made me too laid back to notice any panic in her voice. Either way, I feel much better about Mary's needs today than I did last week. Things are better, and that is good.

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, August 29, 2011

In Praise of Co-Sleeping

I have talked a lot about Zinashi's sleep struggles, and a little about co-sleeping, but I've never fully addressed the topic. For us, co-sleeping has worked wonders for all of us, and it is the one thing that I think we got right from the very beginning. It has been a huge factor in Zinashi attaching to us and feeling secure, and even in her transition to falling asleep on her own both at nap and at night time. I'd like to talk a little bit today about the details, the how and the why and the reality that if we don't transition in the near future, we will definitely be upgrading to a king size bed.

When we thought we'd be adopting a baby, I didn't think too much about co-sleeping. I figured that we might have the baby in our room with us at first, and that we would all sometimes snuggle up in the big bed to get a little extra rest, but the picture I had in my mind was of the baby going to sleep in the crib after a lot of rocking. We'd babywear and be close, but since the baby would have been sleeping in a crib already, it would probably be the most comfortable and natural thing to do. Add to that all the opportunities to get cozy with a baby, and we figured that attachment would be just fine without co-sleeping and worrying about rolling over on the baby all night long.

And then, obviously, we didn't adopt a baby. We adopted Zinashi. We knew she'd been sleeping in a room with a lot of other children, and it didn't seem fair or right to expect her to sleep in a room all by herself, especially since she would be acutely aware of the difference. We decided that co-sleeping would be the best thing for her, and it turned out that we were right. What we didn't realize was that it would be the best thing for us too. Co-sleeping has allowed us to feel close to Zinashi from the beginning. It's given us the peace of mind that if something happens in the middle of the night, we'll know about it because we are right there. And most importantly, it's given us more sleep. Really.

the first morning, before she woke

In our bed, when Zinashi begins to wake up because she is distressed, we are able to soothe her right away; she never wakes all the way up. In the morning, I notice her mimicking whatever we are doing. She will open her eyes slightly, and if neither of us is stirring, she will close her eyes and snuggle back into her current favorite spot. If she does feel like waking all the way up before we are quite ready, she stays in the bed, giving us a little extra time to transition from sleep to wakefulness. In some ways, this is as big a benefit as the attachment benefit. When we are well-rested, we have more patience and more energy. We can tackle the more intense issues of parenthood without feeling like we've become unglued. The extra sleep that co-sleeping has given us has been simply fantastic.

In order to make co-sleeping work for us, it has been necessary to address our needs as individuals, as a couple (ahem), and as a family. Additionally, we want Zinashi to have the stepping stones in place to be able to transition to sleeping on her own all night when she is ready.

The first consideration is individual sleep needs. One thing that has simplified this for us is that only one of us has to get to work in the morning. This means that we generally need to leave at the same time. Only one alarm gets set, so no person is having to wake up before the others and then risking waking the two that still want and need more sleep. This was more complicated when I was working, and the only thing that worked out was me sleeping on the sofa so that my 6am alarm wouldn't wake those who wanted to sleep until 8am. Now that we only have one person to get to work, we simply set one alarm and all get up together. We also are mindful of the space everyone needs in the bed. As Zinashi grows, she takes up more space, and when we consider that we may add another person to our bed before Zinashi is ready to take to her own bed all night long, we know that we will need more space for everyone to sleep well. I would rather we all feel secure and comfortable and not have room for nightstands than to transition too early. Zinashi has recently transitioned into sleeping in a more compact position, so we don't need to upgrade to king size just yet, but we will in the near future. We've priced the mattresses, and we're preparing financially.

The second consideration is time for us as a couple. I think you know what I'm talking about. Starts with an S, ends with an X, rhymes with REX. Sometimes there are certain intimacies that we cannot have while a small child is in our bed. From the first day we got home, we have put Zinashi to sleep in her own room, then transferred her to our bed when we were ready to go to sleep. This has been a really simple solution, and it helps with our goal of giving Zinashi tools to transition into eventually sleeping on her own all night, too. I suppose you could argue that you lose the option of some forms of spontaneous intimacy, but really? Just how spontaneous are you wanting to be? If you can honestly tell me that you, the new parent of a small child, regularly wake in the middle of the night to get busy, and both of you are into that, then I'll wonder just what's in your medicine cabinet allow that our solution won't work for you.

Third, it needs to work for us as a family. That means that we all need to feel comfortable with the level of attachment we are gaining from co-sleeping, that we all need to be getting good rest, that co-sleeping isn't interfering with other aspects of family life. Right now, co-sleeping gives Zinashi the feeling of security she needs, but there will come a day when it's a preference for her as opposed to something she still needs. As much as Zinashi needs to know that we are there for her in the middle of the night, she also needs to know that we are the parents, and we are in charge, so if it becomes an power struggle, that means that it's time for her to learn to sleep in her room the whole night. Likewise, if we find that any of us are no longer getting good rest, then we will look at moving away from co-sleeping. Co-sleeping needs to work for everyone.

Finally, we want to have a good transition plan in place so that Zinashi can begin sleeping all night in her own bed with confidence. So far, each time she has been ready to make a new step towards sleeping independently, she has let us know, but has also needed encouragement to complete each step. Still, she has not been shy about telling us when she wants to be more independent. Not long ago, she started going down for naps all by herself, and a week ago she decided she wanted to go to sleep at night all by herself, too. We still do a bedtime routine, but when it's time to actually fall asleep, she can do it. This is no small feat for her, and I am confident that it won't be long before she wants to ditch us altogether in favor of snuggling with the cat in her own room.

For now, we'll fully enjoy what we've got: a girl who can fall asleep on her own, but who we still get to hear make funny noises in her sleep each night, who wakes up snuggly and never too awfully early.

first morning home

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Eleven Months a Family

I have trouble lately figuring out what day of the week it is, let alone what day of the month it is. All day yesterday I thought it was the 26th, but no. It was the 27th. Which means that as of yesterday, we have been a family for eleven months.

I have been thinking a lot lately about our nearly-a-year as a family, about what is different now and what is the same, what I know now that I wish I'd figured out much sooner, and most of all how proud I am of Zinashi for having come through this nearly-a-year so brilliantly.

At eleven months together, I see that, at her core, she is so very much the same as she was the day we met. What we have been doing since that first day together is peeling away the effects of trauma to get at the true Zinashi underneath. We have been catching up on the things that were delayed when her whole world was upended. Now more than ever, we are seeing her as she truly is.

Her progress in these eleven months has been astounding, but when I look back, she always had it in her. She always had so many things in her: joy, willingness, thoughtfulness, determination, courage, and so much more. She is who she is, who she has always been, and we have the joy of seeing that shine through more each day.

These eleven months have been hard, but they have been joyful, and they have been worth it. I know I say this every single month, but eleven months ago we got so, so lucky, and we are so, so grateful. Let's all celebrate by dancing.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Little Friday Fun

Some people feel that it is incredibly tacky to put a flower that is larger than your child's head on top of that same child's head, whether it be on hat or headband or clip.

wake up!  surprise!  put on this new hat!

I totally agree with those people. It's just that I enjoy being tacky.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Seven Things

The lovely Evan received an award from another blogger and passed it on to me, and basically what it boils down to is that I'm supposed to tell you seven random things about myself and then tag seven other people to do this. This is perfect for today because I have limited time, but lots of random things to share. For the tagging others part, I'm going to put the ball in your court and call for volunteers. This is both so I don't have to play favorites and because time is not on my side today. Volunteer and link to your seven random things in the comments, and I'll add your link to the bottom of the post.

Without further ado, my seven random things:

1. Like Ally McBeal, I have theme songs for different times in my life. During the summer we were waiting to become Zinashi's parents, I was listening to Jamie Cullum's album called The Pursuit and had more than one. Right now, this is my theme song. Lots of little reasons why, maybe some big ones. I'll tell you more once I've got more to tell.

2. I am naturally a messy person, but prefer things neat and clean. This creates quite a bit of inner turmoil.

3. I recently completed a Whole30 and cured my adult acne. I found out that I can no longer eat wheat or dairy (except for butter and heavy cream--don't ask me how it works, it's just science), but I don't mind. I'm healthier and we'll save a ton on topical acne medications.

4. I am jealous of my daughter's hair. WAY jealous.

i experience hair envy on a daily basis

5. My dream car is this bicycle. Long size, please.

6. Some of my favorite clothing has come from the children's department. And yes, I do mean clothing that's for me to wear.

7. I am usually not very outdoorsy (unless sitting on a patio drinking coffee counts as an outdoor activity), but I prefer to exercise outdoors.

Thanks to Evan for tagging me for this. Please join in if you're willing and able.

And now, some willing participants:



Anyone else?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

1001 Reasons to Love Zinashi: Reason #14

When told that she can keep a giant stick if she can carry it the third of a mile home from the park, she picks it up and carries it all the way home.

1001 reasons to love zinashi:  reason #14

It's more than twice as tall as she is. My girl is determined.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: Too Many Worries

This week Mary had a ton of things on her mind, and all of her worst fears were bubbling to the surface. She is always afraid that she will die on the street (she walks everywhere, and quite long distances for a 91-year-old), that someone will come into her apartment building and hurt her or someone else, and that she will be evicted. I knew this in advance, so Zinashi brought her xylophone to entertain her with a song.

tuesday, august 23, 2011
Click on the photo for details of our outfits; unfortunately, we didn't get any outfit reactions today.

We also got her a Snoopy balloon at the grocery store, a small one on a plastic stick that could be propped up where she could see it, and as we came in, Zinashi told Mary that the wusha (dog) says, "WOOF WOOF! Feel better!" And later, "Don't worry! WOOF WOOF!" I think we made her feel a little better, but I know that life is only getting harder for her, that the longer she is alone, the more her worries inflate themselves into something unmanageable. I felt really sad for her today.

Hopefully, next week she'll feel better.

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, August 22, 2011

Ababi Mondays: Back!!!

Let's face it. We all know Mary is much better at writing than I am. So I stick to what I'm good at. Posting pictures of my awesome daughter and our adventures.

This weekend was pretty packed for us. A few hours at the park, breakfast at Eggtc with some friends, the zoo with the same friends.

Zinash got to ride her bike outside for the first time this weekend. Our neighborhood is pretty hilly and our particular street is not good for kids to ride on. So we took her bike to the park she had a go on it.

Of course you notice no pedals. These are great bikes for kids. She can learn balance and steering before having to throw in the pedaling part. She's really starting to get the hang of it too.

Then today was breakfast and the zoo.

Fun with "Uncle" Rudy and Sofie

And giraffes!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect

We seem to have become lax regarding acquiring French language skills in advance of our vacation in October. We are, however, working diligently on our crepe-eating skills.

eating crepes:  practice makes perfect

I'd say we're approaching proficiency, wouldn't you?

Friday, August 19, 2011

1001 Reasons to Love Zinashi: #12 and #13

#12: She makes her calls from the car using a rotary dial phone.

#13: She chooses her headbands based on photos she likes of herself from Ethiopia. This one she calls the "sad headband" because we took a photo of her when she was throwing a big fit (insensitive jerks!), and she was wearing this one.

1001 reasons to love zinashi:  #12 and #13

Thursday, August 18, 2011

On Being Conspicuous: Positives and Negatives

Truth be told, I've considered us lucky so far in our life as a transracial adoptive family. There are many families like ours in our community, and I often see them at the Target where I do most of our day to day shopping. We've not been met with surprise when someone notices Zinashi first, then sees me following behind; we've been met with smiles and kind comments on Zinashi's beauty or her silliness or both. She gets noticed a lot, independently. I know that I probably think this partly because I'm her mother, but I also stand behind the notion that it's absolutely true: my daughter is captivating. And people notice. It's hard not to notice her marching purposefully to the mechanical vehicles in the little mall we go to, clutching whatever accessory she's brought along for the day, be it doll, backpack, or musical instrument. And I love that. I love that Zinashi is her unique, silly self, and I love that we go to the same places enough that people begin to recognize us and chat with us like we're old friends. If being a transracial adoptive family adds another layer to make us stand out, I don't have a problem with it if people are kind. Many families have things that set them apart, and being a family with a variety of skin hues is one of our things.

I also don't have a problem with people being misinformed if they are kind. In a larger sense I do, of course, but I understand that this is just not the way it is. I wish that we lived in a world in which race is just another thing that is part of what makes us the unique individuals we are--like hair and eye color and the shape of a each beautiful face, like various talents and senses of style--but there's still a lot of racism out there, and it is pervasive, and it appears in the most innocent of circumstances. I know this, but I hadn't experienced it directly in regards to my family until last night. At the playground.

As we approached the play area from the opposite end of the park, Zinashi ran ahead, and little White boy called out to her from the play set, "Hi, little girl!" As I came into view, he looked surprised, "Wait, are you her mom?" he queried. I nodded.

"Yep. I'm her mom."

"'re different," he replied, looking confused.

"Oh, you mean we look different from each other?" He nodded. "Yes, we do."

"Well, that's just kind of weird, I mean..."

I popped out a canned statement, "There are all kinds of families. We're a family."

At this point he was coming down from the play set, intrigued by our differences. "Well, no, see," and then he grabbed my arm and Zinashi's and tried to put them next to each other, "you and her..."

"Have different colors of skin?" Another nod. "We do! I think hers is much prettier than mine, don't you?"

At this point he was kind of flabbergasted. "I just think''re kind of unique is what I'm saying."

Unique indeed, but not really. But he didn't know that. And that would have been all right to a certain extent. Our city is still quite racially divided, and I accept the reality that some kids have never seen a family like ours. Just because the Target I go to is diverse does not mean that where others shop will be the same. What made me cringe was when he expounded on his confusion about race and then admitted to me that he thought that "the men with dark skin look really scary." I swallowed my revulsion and said, "You know, it doesn't matter what we look like on the outside; it's what's on the inside that makes us scary or not. A person's skin color doesn't make them scary; who they are and how they act does. Some White people I know of are WAY scary." At this point, he changed the subject and chattered on about something else while he did daring things on the playground and encouraged us to watch. His dad showed up shortly thereafter and admonished him for bothering us, and I replied that he was just fine. And he was. Sure, his surprise at our family was a bit of a dismay, and his racist comments about Black men being scary were horrifying, but that's not his fault, is it? He's just a kid. He didn't teach himself these things, and there is still hope that someone can teach him differently. If our conspicuous family can help put a little truth into his life, can help him understand that our skin color doesn't dictate what kind of people we are, then I am okay with that. Maybe I shouldn't be. Maybe I should be outraged that we even have to deal with this. I am, to a certain degree, but I also see this as an opportunity for sensible action, to change the mind of one and make a better future for my daughter.

I do worry a bit what Zinashi will think when she hears these discussions in the future. At this point she is still oblivious to the fact that some would look at her family and find it to be strange. She will find it out, though, and I want to give her good tools to deal with this. I want her to learn the words to speak and how to keep a cool head so that the burden falls to the misinformed, not to her. She bears enough of a burden just living in this world that is so full of White Privilege. Our family is conspicuous, and right now, that gives us endless opportunities to teach and to learn, while she is still young and still near us and still can be protected. I wish it weren't something that was a part of life, but it is. And I will be grateful for every opportunity to make the world better before my daughter has to go it alone.

This post is inspired by Claudia's call for posts on the topic of being conspicuous. Please head over to read her post and all the posts by others on this topic. Links to what others have to say appear at the bottom of her post.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You Can't Eat Off Them, But It's Probably Safe to Go Barefoot

Today I swept and scrubbed my kitchen and dining room floors. This may seem like nothing to some of you; maybe you are a Type A who can't help keeping everything spotless. Maybe you have a lot of time on your hands and even more energy. But at our house, these days at least, it is a big freaking deal when the floors--any floors!--in our house get both swept and scrubbed. Right now I am giving myself a high five, which is kind of awkward and maybe a little pathetic. But I've also put dinner in the crock pot, so someone needs to high five me, am I right?

Summer always seems to get busy, but it's doubly busy now that Zinashi is here with us. So much to do outside our house! So little time to do it in! So little energy when there's an extended heat wave! We've been tired, and we've been disorganized, and we've been falling asleep in the car a lot.

couldn't make it all the way home

Summer hasn't been all unpleasant, but it's been a challenge. I know this is a little premature, but I am really looking forward to fall.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: As Usual

We dressed sort of casually today, plus we didn't have much time to spend at Old Lady Mary's, so I was shocked that she had any reactions to our outfits. She doted on Zinashi the most (of course), but said that we both looked good, "as usual." I'm glad she recognizes that we do our best every single week.

tuesday, august 16, 2011
Click on the photo for more details about our outfits and Mary's reactions.

After this we went "swimming" in a hot tub and had a good time visiting with our friend Judy. I'd say that makes for a pretty good day, wouldn't you?

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, August 15, 2011

Ethiopian Ways

In Ethiopia, we saw people washing their cars a lot, way more than we ever do here (*ahem*annually*ahem). Even if they were heading right back out onto the dusty road, if there was time, the vehicle would be washed. I suppose it shouldn't have surprised me that when Zinashi saw dust on our car, and could reach the lock to open the door and let herself out to the driveway, she would take matters into her own hands.

she suddenly decided that it was imperative that she wash the car

She remembers these things about her home country, and that is one of my favorite things about this stage of our family life. She not only can reach more things to start doing things the way she was taught in her early years, but also can tell me what she is doing. "Like Ethiopia, Mami," she says. That makes my heart really happy.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Friday Treat

It's Friday. You've made it through a long week. Know what you deserve? Some BACON.


Happy Weekending!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Product Review: Easy Canvas Prints

A little while ago I was contacted by Easy Canvas Prints regarding reviewing their product in exchange for a free canvas print. I like free things, so I said YES! And just like that, I was deciding which photo to have printed, how thick I wanted the wrap to be, and where I would hang it.

Spoiler alert: I didn't get to decide where to hang it. Zinashi stole it for her room.

The whole process was quick and very simple. I chose a photo. At first I thought I'd use this one:

one of my favorite shots of her

But then I realized that if I used that one, wrapping the image around the sides would cut off her cute little bottom, and I wanted that cute little bottom still visible on the main part of the canvas. You can choose to mirror the edges of the photo or just put a color around the outside, but that just didn't look right to me, so I scrapped that idea and did what I kind of knew I'd do all along. I chose this photo:

queen of sheba

I still had to crop more than I wanted, but that was because I chose the fancy-schmancy 1.5-inch wrap. So that's my own fault. I did have control over how I wanted to center the image, and from there it was just a few clicks to send off the order. Within a week, it was on my doorstep, looking good.

our new print from easy canvas prints

Within two minutes of its arrival at our house, Zinashi had claimed it for her own room. Which was fine, really, because our house is small, and we are in want of more wall space for hanging art, whereas her dresser had a nice empty space already.

easy canvas print on the dresser

In the end, we were very pleased with the product. The one thing I would like would be an option where I could see what it would look like finished; I think I would have scooched her cute little nose a bit more to the right. As it is, you see the whole placement flat on your screen--what would be on the front is flanked by flaps showing what will be on the sides. That's my only issue, though, and it won't keep me from ordering again. In fact, we plan to have one or two pieces from our professional photo shoot in March printed on canvas. The cost was great for the quality, and it really is easy, just like it says in the name. Easy Canvas Prints indeed.

Thanks, Easy Canvas Prints, for hooking us up with a lovely canvas or our lovely girl. We are happy to have it, and perhaps more importantly, so is she.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Two things, in place of a proper post.

1. This is what Zinashi requested for lunch today.

what zinashi requested for lunch
What kid asks for a salad--just a salad--for lunch?

2. Our new camera has arrived, but it's having some focus issues, and I'm pretty sure they're my fault. Except that I read the manual that came with the camera, and it didn't give me any good information about what I really want to do with it, which is to use the manual settings. (I am a DSLR girl, suddenly crippled by the auto settings on my new point and shoot.) To find out about that, you must read the manual that is on the enclosed CD. I do not like it that I have to sit at my computer to read my camera manual. In fact, it makes me feel like this:

sometimes i feel like this

I'll be back to the blog when I can make some sense of my tiny camera...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon

Something's...different about our Zinashi.

something's new and different here

She was adamant in the car this morning that she wanted holes in her ears like Mami, and she wanted them TODAY. She's been asking for this for some time, but never was so firmly decided as she was this morning. Jarod and I had talked before about how it might be easier to do this when she was younger as opposed to having her wait; after all, it's always easier to do something for your child than nag her to do it herself. So we all agreed, and then after we dropped Jarod off at work, we marched into Claire's. They knew without us saying anything what she wanted. I said to Zinashi, "Tell her what you'd like," and the woman didn't let a second pass before she said, "Oh, I know, she wants her ears pierced."

I promised Zinashi a drink at Starbucks if she would be brave and not cry. After the first ear, the tears started to well up, but she blinked hard, staring right at me the whole time. Well done, little lady. Gobez, my konjo girl. And also, stop being so grown up about everything. You're doing this all too fast.

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: Beautiful! Glamorous!

We were a huge hit today at Old Lady Mary's. We got the royal treatment, being told that we were beautiful and glamorous and better than models, and that she wouldn't say so if it weren't true. I took about seven minutes total to get ready, so I feel pretty good about that.

tuesday, august 9, 2011
Click on the photo for more details about our outfits and Mary's reactions.

It is still hot here. I am still not good in the heat. Let's all just sit here and drink iced beverages until we have to leave the house to see Mary again next week.

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, August 8, 2011

Hers to Keep

Zinashi has grown so much this year that we have gone through multiple sizes of clothes. We started with 18-24 month clothing and 18 month jammies, and now she is nearly out of size 3T. Our stack of hand-me-down bins for the next kiddo has grown into a tower as I sneak things out of drawers and into the basement. Most of this stuff we will use again for our next daughter, but there are some things that I am setting aside. Zinashi would love to keep every single item that ever belonged to her, but I've got a more sensible approach. She will keep what was most precious to her, and a few things that are tied to family memories. Here is what we have so far.

This jacket:

would you like to make a call?

In some of the first photos we received of Zinashi from other traveling families, she was wearing a jacket that was entirely too small. I became obsessed with finding her a jackat that would fit, and this is what I found at Old Navy in late July. We put it on her within the first hour we were together, and she didn't want to take it off. She wore it with the hood up most of the time. She even slept in it, sweating profusely, because she wouldn't take it off before she fell asleep, and we wouldn't risk waking her to remove it. She wore it at least once a week even as spring temperatures crept upwards, and only abandoned it when the highs hit the mid-nineties. It stands out as the one thing that she loved, to which she was attached in our first nine months together.

This outfit:

reading her favorite book

I found out too late that the tradition is for families to keep the outfit their child was wearing when they became a family. We had so many clothes for Zinashi that we sent the dress and shoes back to the transition home so that another child could wear them. Our memory outfit is the one we changed her into when we took her upstairs to our room for the first time. I remember thinking only that I wanted it to be soft and comfortable for her, and pulled out the softest shirt, with soft harem pants to match. Later that night, she found the hat and wanted to put it on.

And finally, the outfit from this series of photos:

oh, come on, this is just not fair

It was her favorite while we were in Ethiopia, and more than once she became upset because it was dirty when she wanted to wear it. If someone feels that strongly about something, it's theirs.

As time goes by, I'm sure there will be more things we set aside for her, but these will likely be the things that I'll cherish the most until I hand them off to her someday. This first year has been so...much. I think that's what I mean to say exactly. It has been so much of everything. These clothes will probably always make me cry.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bring It

In the midst of a search to find out if Zinashi's birth family is okay, after an epic meltdown for which we had to swaddle and bottle feed for the first time in months, we sat in front of the computer and kicked it old school with Ray Charles, Bert, and Ernie. This feels like a very heavy time, but you know what? There's a good time on its way, and WE ARE GOING TO BRING IT.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What I'm Thinking About Today (and Every Day): Our Next Daughter

I think a lot about our second baby. I know we're not ready yet, not really. We know that she'll come to our family in the right time, in the right way. We struggle lately with hearing news from Ethiopia and reading stories that others have written, and we wonder if the changes that are being made will be enough to ensure an ethical adoption. We hope so. We hear of changes in the processes orphanages are using prior to referral--particularly how they are keeping children in their care longer now to give birth families longer to consider their choice and find resources to help them keep their families together--and it makes me feel hopeful that our children can indeed come from the same place. But if they can't, if in the end we hear enough stories that lead us to believe that it just isn't possible to be part of the solution without being part of a larger problem, then we will adopt elsewhere. We still believe, after all, in building our family by being a family to someone who needs one.

When I get to worrying about all of it--when, where, who--I remember how it all worked out last time.

We wanted to start by adopting a baby, but we were captivated instead by our Zinashi, then three years old.

We desperately wanted a court date before the rainy season closures, and we were delayed until after the courts reopened.

Without those two changes in plans, we wouldn't have the family story that we have, the witness to miracles unfolding before us. Becoming parents to the girl that is just perfect for our family. Being allowed to have Zinashi with us between court and embassy dates. Leaving Ethiopia with less than two hours left on Jarod's visa.

from the 2nd trip that never was

Last week I found a bag in the basement that was meant to go with Jarod on his second trip to Ethiopia--the second trip he never made because we had our girl with us, and there was no way he was going anywhere until we could come home together--and this was still attached. A certain reminder that when things don't go the way you plan, or the way you prefer, they often end up much better than you ever could have planned them. I hang on to that, and I know that our next girl will be exactly the girl meant to be in our family, and she will come at exactly the right time, in the way she was meant to arrive. Some people don't believe in things like that, but I do. I've seen too much not to believe.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Someone Didn't Take Her Nap Today

The part about this that's frustrating, more so than the kajillion times I had to go to her room while I was trying to get my usual naptime chores done, is the fact that around 6:30pm, she'll start falling apart, and we'll have to be the grown-ups in this situation and comfort her, as if she didn't bring the misery upon herself. And we'll give the same tired speech about how she'd feel so much better if she'd taken her nap instead of yelling for me the whole time. And we'll give it with compassion.

you whistled?

I know what you're thinking: we are such suckers. And you're right.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Planning Ahead

I'm a planner. I like all my ducks in a row, and I like to know how they're getting into their rows while they are still meandering around at the edge of the pond. The adoption process was a huge challenge for me because there was so much that I had no control over, so much that was simply unpredictable. I learned to let go of that which I could not control, but I also got to be much more of a stickler for details on the things I could control (as if that facet of my personality wasn't bad enough already). And now I find myself in the exact same place as before: making plans in the way that I can, while having to let go of a lot of big things. Things like our next adoption.

There are a number of things that need to fall into place before we begin again. Because we are open to pursuing HIV+ adoption, we know that the process could be pretty quick, so we need to be ready in a lot of ways from the very beginning. Ready in our finances. Ready in our level of attachment with Zinashi. Ready in our daily lives. There's the possibility of a big move on our horizon, the possibility that we may have to choose a different country from which to adopt, the possibility that we will remain right where we are, making the same salary, which will make saving for our next adoption very slow. And I cannot do a thing about any of these things. I can only wait.

So I do what I do best, which is to plan ahead for a variety of scenarios, and then I focus on planning for our vacation. I know it probably seems silly or unwise to spend money on travel when we are planning on adopting again in the near future, but this is something we want to pause and do for our family of three. Travel, particularly travel to London and Nice, is our thing--it's why we live in a small house and share a car and spend less on other things--and we want to give Zinashi a trip that is all hers before we begin the arduous process of saving and doing paperwork to expand our family again. We want to give her the gift of time off in interesting and beautiful places. Honestly, we want to give ourselves that gift, too. All three of us have worked hard this year at becoming a family and living on a tight budget, and I think it is only fitting that all three of us get to experience the rewards of giving up some things in order to save for something really fantastic.

millenium bridge, st. paul's, etc.

I'm already making my lists. Lists of the inexpensive, useful things we bring home from France as souvenirs. Lists of the places we'll walk in London. Lists of what we need to bring with us, so we won't forget anything important, but won't bring anything that will bog us down. The lists make me feel better. The lists make me feel as if I am moving ahead with something. The trip, in fact, feels like a step ahead. Before we make a big move, we'll get a trip as a family. Before we get back on a super strict budget to save for our next adoption, we'll dip our feet in the Mediterranean. Before we get stressed out by getting paperwork done exactly the right way, we'll sit on the balcony at Terrasse and eat breakfast with the neighbor's cat. I am so excited about this trip.

i couldn't stop taking photos of the water

We leave on the very last day of September. Do you think I have long enough to pack? Or rather, am I crazy to start packing now?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

This Tuesday Wednesday with Old Lady Mary: Twin Dresses!

Because we got back from Branson too late to see Mary on our usual day of the week, we hightailed it over there this morning so she could have some groceries and we could be admired. I was sure that today's looks would be a hit, and I was right. Can you guess why Mary might have gotten super excited about our outfits?

wednesday, august 3, 2011
Click on the photo for more details about our outfits and Old Lady Mary's reactions.

Zinashi loves to match me, and so I decided that I would just go ahead and be one of Those Moms who buy clothes that match their kids' clothes. Unlike most of Those Moms, though, I didn't go through some nice company that makes clothing for moms and kids in appropriate sizes. No way, man. I shopped in the Target kids' section. Zinashi was thrilled, mostly because she's way too young to be embarrassed by a mother who doesn't understand what "age appropriate" means. (See also: my holiday attire.) I've got precious few years to work with before she becomes mortified by my presence, let alone by the fact that I might show up wearing the same shirt her best friend is sporting. I'm going to take my opportunity while I've got 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.

1001 Reasons to Love Zinashi: Reason #11

As her final act of play kitchen cleanup, she puts her shark in the sink to swim.

1001 reasons to love zinashi:  reason #11

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Brief Disappearing Act

We're back! Did you even notice we were gone? I forgot to mention that we were heading out of town for an annual tradition that goes way back to 2005. We left for Branson on Sunday morning, picking up two extra kids here in Kansas City, then joining up with my parents, niece, and nephews a little way down the highway. We caravaned out in two minivans containing six children, ages four to twelve, four adults, and way too many snacks for a four hour drive.

We came back this evening with six children, four adults, most of our original snacks, and some extra snacks we picked up along the way. (I know. What were we thinking?)

All the kids had a good time, and Zinashi did really, really well, especially considering that she was completely out of her routine and got zero naps. We are so proud of how far she has come--from being frightened of any noise and of riding in a car to waiting impatiently for a big, noisy train ride.

waiting for the train at silver dollar city

Pretty soon, she'll be getting on roller coasters.
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