Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thanks for Everything, 2011

It's nearly the new year here in our new state, and I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you for reading as we made our way through what turned out to be a very eventful 2011. We are more than happy to end 2011 and begin 2012 making our home here.

zinashi's new hangout
Zinashi already loves it. She walked to the beach this morning. Is there a better way to spend New Year's Eve? She thinks not.

Onward towards midnight, when I can finally take my NyQuil* and go to sleep. Happy New Year, everybody!

*I still have that same cold that Jarod gave me as a thoughtful holiday gift a few weeks ago. It truly is the gift that keep on giving; I don't know how I'll ever find something as special to give to him. I tried to be all homeopathic nature girl about it, but you know what? I really just want to go to sleep like a normal person and wake up well-rested in 2012.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

We are also moving in two days, and the combination of the two has killed all hopes of blogging. So this will be your placeholder until the normal blogging fun resumes. In the meantime, feel free to catch up via my personal twitter stream. I finally upgraded to an iPhone, so there are instagram photos there, too. I mean, if you're into that sort of thing (and I think you are).

I'll be back with tales of our last visit to Old Lady Mary* as soon as I can get some reliable WiFi. Until then, have a good between-holidays week. If nothing else, we'll show up to toast 2012 with you.

*I just may have a photo so you can finally see what Mary looks like. If you've been following along with our Tuesday visits, you might want to check back for that.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas


Zinashi got a sweet new ride for Christmas. She discovered it after she got up at 10am--it just doesn't occur to her that anything is exciting enough to wake earlier than necessary, and I do believe that is the best Christmas gift Jarod and I could wish for.

I am loving Christmas the way it is this year. We'll go out to my parents' place later, but there was no rush to do anything after presents were opened. We've relaxed, eaten treats from our stockings, and let Zinashi have plenty of time to play with her new* toys. I am liking that very much and hope it is the same for years to come. Merry Christmas, indeed.

I love it that she is oblivious to the fact that many of the things we got her are not brand new, and that the modest haul was more than enough for her. This bodes well for our hippie parenting style future.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Stress Getting to You? Here's Help

All you really need is an overpriced carriage ride and two little girls to share it with. Rabbit-ear-wearing stuffed dog named Taco is optional, but will make your ride more festive.

Happy Holidays, internet.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Think We are Going to Make It

Today was the first day I actually felt like this move might happen without something major being left undone. Yesterday, the moving company representative showed up fifteen minutes early, sending me into a frenzy of worry about what he thought of the state of my house. Would the estimate be more because he might be under the impression that I cannot clean and organize properly? I want those fifteen minutes back, and I want to use them unloading and reloading my dishwasher (possibly partially with pans that cannot be cleaned in there, ahem) and doing a five-minute clean of my bathroom. If you are considering moving during the holidays and do not have household help, I highly recommend that you reschedule, or that you make sure that the moving company representative is really good at faking it when he tells you he's done his job in homes that are a bigger disaster than yours.

Jarod had a cold a week ago that kept him away from work for a number of days that I can't remember. I have had the same cold since Saturday, but I cannot take the time to actually acknowledge it. This is just my way; I enjoy denial. We are moving! I have a TO DO list! (And yes, TO DO is written in capital letters, all important-like.) What do you mean, people usually rest when they are sick?

I don't know how I've managed really, except I feel like there's no option but to just keep getting things done. So I've gulped medicinal teas and asked for help when I needed it most desperately, and somehow made it through another day. Every day has a list of things that must be done, and I have been surprised each evening to find that I've somehow pulled it off. Maybe that's the key, really, to this baffling feeling of well-being: knowing that each day, regardless of feeling less than super, I've made it to the end with everything done. I may have gulped a lot of medicinal teas and even more coffee, but I've made things happen.

Tomorrow, I will get up and do it again.

One week until the movers come.

Ten days until we fly.

This is happening.

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: Zinashi's Holiday Best

Jarod kindly passed his cold on to me, and I have no time for it, so I have continued to push through tasks and exhaust myself. Thus, I had no energy to get fancy this morning. So I wore red and green and called it good. Zinashi, however, wowed the masses with her holiday attire. A lady in the lobby of Old Lady Mary's apartment building even gave her a dollar for Christmas on account of the fancy outfit. I said, "Oh, no, really, you keep that," but honestly, if you saw this confection prancing through the lobby of your building, wouldn't you want to bust out some sort of gift?

tuesday, december 20, 2011
Click on the photo for more details of our outfits and Mary's reactions.

It was our second to the last visit to Mary. This week I'll make an ALDI run to beat all ALDI runs, and we will show up with our arms full next week. I simply didn't have it in me to stay very long today, and hopefully I will make up for it next week in time as well as edible goods. We will miss Mary so much, and I hope we can convey that to her before we go.

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.

Friday, December 16, 2011

This Crazy Life

In two weeks, our little family will board a plane to San Francisco, and then we'll be there to live. For a really lot of time, as Zinashi likes to say. It doesn't seem real to me yet, and I'm pretty sure I'll wake up two weeks in and think, "Wait. Did we move? To California?" And also possibly, "Why is my oven on a countertop?"

my future oven is on a countertop
It's because it's practical. Will I have to bend to get things out of my oven? NO. I will not.

I have decided to stress eat my way through the holidays, mostly with Belgian milk chocolate from Trader Joe's, as it doesn't seem to exacerbate my adult acne the way a lot of things I've been indulging in have. And if it does, how would I know? Pass the cake! I understand this wouldn't be a healthy lifestyle for the long term, but so far my trousers still button, and I know myself well enough to know that stress eating my way through a short period of time is not going to lead to a lifelong habit. I'm also banking on being able to run after the move (hallelujah, pass the lululemon gift cards), so everything will get set right.

In between stress eating and making arrangements for the move, I've been reflecting on this past year. There weren't many things on my wish list for this year, but it just so happens that all of them are working out, including my wish to move to San Francisco. I had hoped that we'd make this move sooner, but December 30 is still 2011, right? I guess the story would be better if we were flying out on December 31, but I'm not going to push my luck. December 30 it is, and I'm already making my short list for next year. Because why not? Bring home a baby and spend Fiche in Sidama with Zinashi's family--those are the only two things that have made the 2012 cut. I think that's probably enough. I'm hopeful enough to just sit back and see what happens. Where will I be next year on December 30? Will I be winging my way toward a different coast? Only time will tell. But for this year, I feel like I've been given quite a lot, and I am grateful. These next two weeks will fly, so here's to oven on countertops and the joy of 2012.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Help Us, Help Others: The Give It Forward Loan

Internet, we need your help. We've got a small seed of an idea, and we're wondering if you're game to play along. As you probably know by now, we are embarking on our second adoption. Zinashi insists that her baby sister is crying in Ethiopia, and we simply can't argue with that. She may be right. (Though we really hope she's not right about the baby's name being Barbecue.) To that end, we are pulling out all the stops to get this thing going. Because Jarod's job puts us in a much-improved financial situation, we anticipate being able to pay for this adoption out of our own pockets. However, there's a small catch. Because our financial situation is newly improved, there hasn't been much time to fill our own pockets. We considered getting a loan from a bank as we did for some of Zinashi's fees, but in this financial climate, it makes my heart heavy to think of money going into corporate profits instead of to those who could really use a hand. So we've come up with a far better plan, but we'll need your help to pull it off.

What we are asking you for, collectively, is a loan. But instead of paying it back to each individual, we propose that we instead give it forward to worthy charities that you help us choose, and add interest just as if it were a traditional loan. To whatever is given to us to get our adoption fees paid, we will add 10% out of our own pockets when we make our "loan payments" each month. For example, to get our adoption underway, we need to raise $2400 to pay for our home study fee. For whatever portion of that fee we raise through the loan you make to us, each month we will give $200 to the charity chosen by our readers, adding an additional $20 as our interest payment, until the amount loaned to us is paid forward in full. As we are loaned more, our monthly gift will grow, as will our interest payment; we will always add an additional 10% to the gift.

The really big fun will come when we receive things like adoption assistance from Jarod's employer or our tax refund, and can make a big payment on our "loan." When we add our 10% to those larger amounts, we can make a collective big difference for an organization that needs the help. The idea itself came when I realized that the amount an organization who takes in street children needed to buy a van was exactly the amount of this year's adoption tax credit. How amazing would it be to write a check that would immediately change things for the people who are helping those who fall through the cracks? If you would join us in this, we can make big things happen.

So that's it. Help us, help others. Your donation grows by 10% and grows our family in the process.

We are calling this the Give It Forward Loan, and we've started a new page to track it. You can find the link next to our other page links, just below the masthead. On that page, you'll find an itemized list of fees we'll be paying, the amount you have loaned us so far, how much we've paid back, and the charities who have received each month's payment. We will choose four charities each month, and ask our readers to vote to determine which one will receive the payment. We will make our payment each month on the 15th, and will open voting for that month's charity one week earlier, on the 8th. Voting will be conducted in a separate post on our main page. We welcome suggestions for worthy charities who could use a hand, and you can submit those via comments on the Give It Forward page or to our email address, which is linked there as well.

You can donate quickly and securely using the PayPal button on our sidebar. We cannot give tax deductible receipts since we are just regular people and not a 501(c)(3), but what we can do is pledge that we will not claim the tax deductions from the amounts we give as part of the Give It Forward Loan or for any of our charitable giving*. This money will be a gift to the recipient, and no one will receive financial gain from these gifts aside from the charities who receive the donations.

We know we are going out on a limb here, but we believe that we can make this happen, for our next daughter and for all the people who will benefit from the repayment of this loan. We're starting small, with just a PayPal button and a confidence in the goodheartedness of our readers. We can make this small seed grow big. Let's do it.

Click here to get on in there, or if you're ready to donate now, proceed to the PayPal button located conveniently in our sidebar on the left.

*Our modus operandi is to give freely and ignore the receipts, so we'll just be continuing to do what is our usual.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: That's Not Your Holiday Best?

Zinashi was into being very fancy today, so we put on all her fanciest stuff. It was hard to convince Old Lady Mary that she was not dressed up for the holidays, but nope! We were just visiting Mary and popping into the cat food store.

tuesday, december 13, 2011
Click on the photo for more details of our outfits and Mary's reactions.

The photo isn't so great today because it was a bit of a rough morning. Jarod has been sick, Zinashi was still feeling a little off due to her shots (and also unable to walk--the shots were given in both thighs), and I had very little sleep last night. So we just paused for a quick iPhone photo in the one corner of the house that didn't have multiple items out and in disarray.

Our visit to Mary was a good one, and she didn't cry at all, though I suspect that next week may be different. We've got two more Tuesdays to see her before we move, and I'm going to do my best to put on a brave face in order to reassure her that we will be back and we will see her again. I've got plans to dress up every week, as usual, then print the photo and send it as a post card each week. We'll see if I can follow through on that. I think it will be a bit harder to be consistent when she's not depending on us for food. She does depend on us for friendship, though, so I'm going to do my best.

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, December 12, 2011

All Caught Up

Today, Zinashi went for her annual well child doctor visit, and she is finally caught up on all her vaccinations. She had to get four shots to do it, though, so I ponied up the rewards. Lollipop during, Starbucks afterwards. She got a drink and the BIG doughnut.

post shot treat

She definitely deserved it. I'm so glad that her future will only hold the usual booster shots of childhood, and there will be no more four-shot (plus nasal vaccine for flu, as a special bonus) doctor visits.

Hooray, hooray, hooray.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Constant Motion

In retrospect, I should have enjoyed the two extra hours I spent seated on the plane when our flight was diverted briefly to Wichita due to the air space in Kansas City being closed thanks to Air Force One needing to take off all by itself in order to protect President Obama. Instead, I sat there thinking of things President Obama could do to compensate me for inconvenience of sitting on a plane for two extra hours in a seat that was a little bit too close to the bathroom. Clearly that was wasted time, as he has not yet instructed the USDA to reverse the approval of GMO alfalfa, even though I tweeted about it in a very timely fashion.

Anyway. Where was I? Ah, yes, wishing I could get those two hours of sitting down and doing nothing back. Well, it's too late. We are moving in three weeks, and my list is long. I hate leaving things to the last minute, having spent much of my life doing that and suffering the consequences. I want to get it all done, and I want to do it now! Or yesterday! We are quite fortunate to have a moving service doing our packing for us--who knows what my mental state would be like if I had to do it--but there is still a whole lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in. So of course this is the perfect time to take off for a little getaway in Branson*, where I can do nothing productive aside from addressing my holiday cards. Knowing that would be the case, I spent yesterday and today blindly rushing from one task to the next. I anticipate doing the same the moment we get back Sunday evening, and in fact can guarantee it, as I've already scheduled several things to be done next week.

All this is my way of saying that posting will be lighter than usual for the next three weeks, and it's not because I don't love you and want to regale you with stories of how I'm planning on solving my decorating challenges. It's just that it turns out that telling the internet all my ideas for making the exposed sides an oven on a countertop less obvious (giant sheets of magnet in a variety of colors!) is far less important than making sure that we arrive in our new city with all our necessary items (including my own sanity) in tow. The next three weeks will be a rush of appointments and chores and good-byes, and there will not be enough time for all of it, not matter how hard I try to manufacture more.

I look forward to sitting down and really catching up with all of you in 2012. Until then, we'll poke our heads in and say hi from time to time, just to assure you that we're all still breathing. Rapidly. While rushing off to the next task, hoping to get it done before sleep overtakes me. Which is exactly what I'm doing now. Enjoy your holidays, internet.

*This was planned before we knew we'd be moving. Jarod will be at home while Zinashi and I are away with my side of the family. I know you probably can't believe he wouldn't take vacation time to come to Branson--after all, we won't be able to go so easily anymore once we move--but it's true. Jarod chose work over Branson. Can you believe that?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

This Wednesday with Old Lady Mary: Dressed for Warmth

While I was away in San Francisco, Zinashi asked if I was bringing back a surprise for her. "Of course!" I said, thinking I'd pick up a pencil and a lollipop or something. While wandering through my old neighborhood, I spied the doors of Goodwill opening for the morning and popped in. Guess where I got Zinashi's surprise. Yep. I bet you can spot it in this photo, too.

wednesday, december 7, 2011
It's the cape, in case you couldn't figure it out. Click on the photo for more details about our outfits and Old Lady Mary's reactions.

Because it was chilly out, we told Zinashi she needed to wear things that were warm, or we'd get in trouble with Grandma Mary. She was already decked out in a sweater and a coat over her shirt, plus leggings under her jeans, but she really wanted to add the cape. I said, "Absolutely!" Unfortunately, she figured out on the way to the grocery that it would be a big hit with the grocery ladies, and she didn't want all of them smiling at her because she's cute (I'm not kidding; she actually told me that), so she left it in the car. She didn't want to put it back on for Mary, either, so all we got acclaim for were dressing warmly and having on appropriate footwear. I'm hoping we can try again next week. Maybe if we make a crown it will work? And also a scepter?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Weekend, Briefly

I saw my dream house in San Francisco. My dream house was even better in person than online. And then...I didn't rent my dream house. I picked the place with this view instead:

new view
Yes, that is the ocean.

The interior of the dream house was superior in every single way to the house (er, top floor of a house) that I chose. And even the dream house neighborhood itself was adorable, idyllic even. And also a bit cheaper! I still can't believe I picked a different place. But I did. Because from this place, we can walk to the beach. From this place, we can walk to Golden Gate Park. From this place, we can bicycle to the zoo. From this place, I can run in the dark again, out my very own front door.

And then, there's the side note that this neighborhood has always been the neighborhood I pictured myself in if I returned to San Francisco to live again. It's where I saw myself nurturing my family. So who cares if it's not as beautiful or as big inside? Who cares if there are some very unique design challenges to overcome?* This is still a dream come true. I built my castles in the air, and by signing that lease, I put foundations under one of them.

*The oven sits on a countertop. It's very practical--no bending required!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Stay Cozy, Kansas City

On the Walgreen's sign at 10:38am, the temperature read 35 degrees. Zinashi's nose has been running nonstop, and when she asked for tea, I was more than happy to oblige.

tea time

I leave quite early tomorrow morning for San Francisco. The chill in the air makes me more than happy to depart, but I am a little bit sad about this being my first trip away from Zinashi. It's not that I don't think she'll be okay, but still. It's a big deal. Lately she's taken to telling Jarod and me that she really likes us. She also will come over to me sometimes and softly say, "I just really need my mommy because I am lonely." I hope she doesn't say that in the car on the way to the airport.

I'll likely not blog while I'm away, but I'm putting in a request for Jarod to do an Ababi Monday, and I'll be back Tuesday afternoon to fill you in on the success (or lack thereof) of my weekend housing mission. Kansas Citians, please try to stay cozy while I am away, and if you see the other two thirds of my family around, make sure they're having a good time. I'll see you right back here on Tuesday. Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: The Good News that was Bad News

Tuesday's visit was not an easy visit. I knew I'd be telling Mary that we were moving, and I dreaded it some much that I considered postponing it, but I figured it would be better to give her a few more weeks to know we were leaving and say good-bye in her own way. So I wore an outfit in colors she likes and did my hair the way she prefers it done. I matched Zinashi's bow to her dress. And then, it didn't really matter.

tuesday, november 29, 2011
Click on the photo for more details of our outfits and Mary's reactions.

Mary greeted us with her usual ramble of complaints mixed with a catalog of what she'd bought for herself at the grocery and what other people bought her and how Nicole took her to ALDI to get all sorts of good things. I waited somewhat patiently, nodding, just praying for an opening. She paused to take a breath and I said, "Mary, I need to tell you something."

"You're going away, aren't you?"

She already knew. She asked where and why, and then the whole thing took a downward spiral into proclaiming that she was old and would die before I came back for a visit. Not just "might die," but "WILL DIE." Then she shared her last wishes with me, and inquired if there were mountains near San Francisco. "That's what Frances wanted done with her ashes, to throw them off the side of a mountain, so that's what I want, too." In that moment it was all at once terribly heartbreaking and incredibly funny. Because I know Mary well, and I didn't figure out that this was what she'd say. It is exactly what I should have expected, but I hadn't traveled down the rabbit trail that far. I didn't think that she would declare her last wishes to me when I gave her the news. But of course she would! She regularly believes the worst, so why wouldn't she follow her fear to its inevitable conclusion? I am leaving, so that must mean that I won't ever see her again, until she's dead, that is, after which I can spread her ashes for her. I didn't know whether to cry or roll my eyes. So instead I just reassured her that I would be back to visit often, that I would send someone with groceries every week, that she has been getting along okay so far, so there's no reason to believe she will expire shortly after 2012 rolls in.

She asked me a lot of questions about God on Tuesday, too. The Tuesday before that, she gave me some instructions about what should be done with some of her things when she goes. Maybe she is preparing for her end; I don't really know. When she said she had bedbugs in her couch, I didn't believe that, and it was true. Conversely, when she suspected the hired movers might have taken a bite of her cottage cheese when they moved it, that was absolutely not true. I know that I've got to be prepared either way. There could be a lot of visits before she goes. But there also might not be.

In the Bible, there's a verse that talks about staying quiet about ways in which you help others, and you will be rewarded for what God alone sees, but when you shout it from the rooftops, then you have already received your reward. I used to think that verse meant that you should never tell anyone about what you do that is nice, because you want to have lots of rewards in heaven. By that logic, my sharing with you has negated any future rewards, and I should be terribly disappointed. I think, though, that I was partially missing the point during all those Bible study lessons as an adolescent. In my experience with Mary, I have discovered that the reward here and now is plenty. I don't need anything to be waiting for me on the other side of life; in fact, I don't want it. Because I have received my reward, and that has been the gift of Mary herself. Loving her and being loved by her has been more than I could have asked for in return for the small things I've given her. To be trusted by a woman who trusts few people is a gift to me. I don't need anything else.

I think there are a lot of people out there like Mary. You may never meet one; I didn't go looking for Mary. But a door was opened to me, and I walked through. If the same sort of door ever opens in front of you, I highly recommend you step right in.

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.
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