Monday, January 30, 2012

Thoughts on One Month in Our New City

This morning Zinashi went with me to a lab for my blood draw* that is necessary for the medical form for our home study. Afterwards, we grabbed a little buna** and walked down to check out Marcus Books. On the way home, we popped into Whole Foods for hair product and toilet paper. There were fun things mixed with necessary things, and it just felt...normal.

We are still settling into the new place, but even home life has started to take on a normal-life quality amidst the tubs and boxes of items to be picked up by the donation service. Things get comfortably messy and then cleaned back up again. I've got a pile of papers to sort through, though we don't own laundry baskets anymore, so I can't put them in there. On Sunday we'll purchase and assemble the final items we need from IKEA to store the stuff we've decided to keep. And that will be that. The house will be what the house will be, and we will be living in it like normal people do, as opposed to people who are still figuring things out and digging through boxes to find necessary items.

The transition has gone even more smoothly than I hoped, and the things which have surprised me probably shouldn't have. For instance, we saw a lot of this face over the past month:


That is the face of a girl who is figuring out if making perplexed facial expressions, whining, and shrieking will work in any of our new circumstances. It is also the face of a girl whose parents haven't quite figured out how much activity is too much when you factor in getting there via public transportation. But we've all learned a lot. We are still learning, of course, but it's much more smooth now. We are definitely settling in. Now, we see less of the perplexed face and more of this:

bus stop pro

Now she's just a pro. She knows how it works, and she's not afraid. I even had to set her on a stranger's lap on a very crowded bus last week, and she was okay with it. That in and of itself speaks volumes about how comfortable she feels in our new life. She's doing well. We all are.

It feels good to be here. It feels good to be settled. Life isn't perfect, but it is better in ways that make the tough parts easier. One month in, I can say that this move has been a good one for all of us. I am so, so glad.

*And also urinalysis, which Zinashi is still asking me about. I am, apparently, failing to explain, in an age appropriate way, why anyone would want a cupful of urine left on their countertop. "Checking it to see if I'm healthy" has not been a convincing explanation.

**Peppermint mocha for me, vanilla steamer for Zinashi. However, she was a grown-up today, and insisted that she was having coffee and that her name was Yona.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Dad is a Farmer

I generally don't get political on this blog, except in passing, because I want everyone to feel welcome here. However, I think some issues that appear political are actually personal, and this is one of them.

For years, Monsanto has been intimidating small farmers and bringing unjust lawsuits against them. If you'd like to know details, I highly recommend that you watch the film The Future of Food. They have driven farmers out of business and drained their bank accounts. Those who choose to fight back against Monsanto simply can't compete with the lawyers and funds that Monsanto has at its disposal. It makes me feel hopeful to know that farmers are banding together to fight against someone who is bigger in funds but smaller in morals. We stand with these farmers. Will you? Please take a moment to sign in support and make your voice heard.

Image borrowed from the Food Democracy Now site.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Perspective and the Things Which Should Concern Me Spectrum

Last night I decided to go to Target after dinner. For us, after dinner means 8pm at the earliest, and I made it to the bus stop (to wait for twenty minutes after just missing the bus I needed) around 8:20. This was no problem, even though I needed a bus and BART to get there, because Target is open until 11pm here. And it really was no problem, though the maps app steered me wrong more than once and I was alone, in the dark, on a quiet street for awhile. The problem came on the way back, when the maps app steered me wrong yet again, at the same time that the illuminated sign on the front of the bus steered me wrong, and I ended up on the final leg of my journey, which should have taken twenty minutes, for an hour. I got home after midnight, still needing to shower, still needing to reply to some emails I'd put off for the quieter hours of the night, when everyone else is asleep. It was 1:30am before I made it into bed, which is okay.

At 5:30am, I awoke to discomfort in my left eye, and stumbled to the bathroom to discover that half my contact was missing. (I sleep in my contacts, and yes, I know this isn't ideal. I just like being able to see first thing in the morning.) It was my last pair of contacts. My glasses are less than comfortable, to say the least. Through the magic of the internet, I managed to find an optometrist and book an appointment right then and there. By 5:36am, I was back in bed, ready to lie there awake for an hour, as is my custom when awakened in the middle of the night. (Er, early morning, I guess. 5:30am is the middle of the night to me.) So today's serious errand went from "Nothing! Let's take a beach day!" to "Now I'm exhausted, and we need to get across town on an unfamiliar bus route!"

I was worried that Zinashi would be disappointed that we weren't taking her bicycle to the beach, but she hasn't made a peep about it. This may or may not be because I promised she could watch a movie while I have my eye doctor appointment. I think that I am more disappointed about the lack of beachdom than she is. I guess it's because I don't get a big thrill out of watching Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Life is full of little bumps in the road. I am tired, and I am sore from all the extra lifting and walking I've been doing, and I am tired of having "just a few more things" to do before we are all settled. But these are all small things, and I know it. It doesn't mean that I am less tired or that it's not annoying that my contact tore in half in the middle of the night, but it does mean that these things will all pass fairly quickly. I'm not about negating my feelings, but there is something to be said for perspective. On the Things That Should Concern Me spectrum, a late return from an errand and an unexpected optometrist appointment fall pretty far to the It's No Big Deal side.

In fact, if our little drama mama can be happy with an altered schedule, then so can I. And she looks pretty okay with things, doesn't she?

lazy day play time
The rabbits are pretty okay, too.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pacing Ourselves

It's a big job, to learn a new city, to learn new rules about riding buses and trains, to learn to be patient with your mother when she gets lost in a giant park for more than an hour, trying to find the right path to the playground. Zinashi is doing marvelously, considering the level of difficulty. I have been cranky a lot lately, and when I note my own mood, it helps to be more understanding of the times that she loses her cool and forgets that shrieking is never the way to get anything good. At one point, on a crowded N car, I leaned in close and hissed in her ear, "If you do not stop right this minute, I will give you so many consequences that you will not have any more fun until you are eight years old." Not my finest parental moment. If you are into therapeutic parenting, I will be playing Papa Berenstain Bear for you, showing you how not to do it.

I am trying my best to adjust to our new pace of life, to start slowing things down to the pace that they need to be. One of the main things I wanted for our life here was for it to be simpler and slower. Public transportation takes care of a lot of that for us; we really can't do more than one serious errand per day without Zinashi starting to come unglued and my cranktasticness meter hitting the high mark. There is a direct correlation between the amount of stuff I try to get done and how much patience I have left for Zinashi. For the past month and a half I've needed to kick things into high gear to make this move happen, but now we are at a place that it is both acceptable and necessary to slow it down. Making this transition has been harder than I anticipated; it feels a lot like slamming on the brakes. There is whiplash and a sense of disorientation. But we are getting there. And in getting there, we have some of my favorite moments.

This afternoon, after Zinashi's rest time, I was curled up under a blanket on the sofa, answering email, and she was in her room, playing with her little animals and dollhouses and blocks. I heard her making each animal talk, having conversations about who was going where and doing what and with whom. There was a lot of arguing between the animals, but they always seemed to work it out. It was peaceful. Life rolled on outside, but we were in our own little oasis of quiet occupation. I hope we have many more afternoons like this to come.

afternoon delight

And the Give It Forward Payment for January Went to...

Heifer International! I'm sure that many of you figured it out already, but maybe some of you were still holding your breath? No?

We want to be above board with this and make sure that you see some proof of where your money is going. So far, the best thing I've thought of is a screen shot of the donation, or in this case, order of gifts. Here's what we were privileged to give through Heifer International:

Give It Forward loan payment for January

The sheep listing is pretty self-explanatory, but the Hope Gift Baskets might leave you scratching your heads. These gift baskets contain chickens and rabbits to help a family get started with animals that can provide both food and income. Thank you to everyone who gave as well as everyone who voted. Please spread the word and bring some more folks around to help our big

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Making a Home

When I met Jarod, he already owned a house, and when we decided to get married, it made the most sense to just keep the house that he already owned. I had a lot of issues with that house, but Jarod worked very hard to do make upgrades that would suit me (a complete kitchen overhaul, for one), and I grew to love it. Still, there's something to be said for making a home out of a space you've chosen for yourself, and thus I am having a ball with our new place. I am taking it one room at a time, but we are gradually closing in on acquiring all the things we need to get this place finished to my liking. I mentioned in the previous post that I made Zinashi's room a priority; I'll be sharing more photos, but for now, here's a preview.

zinashi's new room

I kind of want that to be my room, except that the master bedroom is right up my alley, too. I can't wait to show everything off to you. Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Moving: Paving the Way for a Smooth Transition

The most important thing to me in the moving process was that Zinashi would feel safe and secure the whole time. I feel like we've really hit our stride as a family, but moving across the country is a big deal for any child, let alone a child who has had her whole life disrupted once already. This is why I felt it was of supreme importance to have a place ready to move into as soon as Jarod needed to start work. We could have dealt with Jarod needing to begin work before we could join him, and we could have adjusted to corporate housing for a short period of time, but the bottom line was that if we could avoid both of those scenarios and move together, as a family, to the place we'd be calling home for the long term, that would be best for Zinashi. This is why I booked my plane ticket to San Francisco as soon as Jarod received a job offer. I flew in on a Saturday morning and back out the next Tuesday morning, determined to find a place for us to live. Obviously, that panned out. The funny thing to me now is that I didn't even consider that I wouldn't find a place for us. Now that I've watched several sets of friends look for places in this city, I realize how rare it is to find a place in just one weekend.

Once we had the place lined up, it was all a matter of talking about it. Because Jarod had interviews for such a long (long, long) time before being offered and accepting this position, we'd already had a lot of conversations about "checking out California and seeing if it's a good place for us." That was the groundwork. Once we had a place, there were photos we could look at, and we talked about how close we would be to the beach. I made the mistake of saying, "It will be like being on vacation every single day," which made Zinashi think that we would be on a very long vacation. Once we had that confusion sorted out, there was a lot of reassurance to be done on our part, talking about how we were all going as a family, that all our stuff was coming, and that all our cats were coming, too. It was very important that we highlight all the things that would remain the same once we moved in addition to highlighting the way awesome things about our new city.

After that, we just had to do it and work with whatever fallout occurred. I'd say that one of our best short term decisions was to have my mom come out with us for the first week. It was so helpful to have someone here who could simply have fun with Zinashi while we got settled. I think that she needed to feel like this city was fun, and without my mom here, that would have been a lot harder to accomplish.

We were also purposeful about what we had here for Zinashi from the beginning. We knew would would be here for up to a week before all our stuff arrived on the big truck, so we sent a box ahead, plus packed a variety of her favorite toys in her suitcase and carryon, following our vacation guidelines. We kept a familiar blanket and favorite stuffed animals with us and made sure that one of her favorite animal bath towels was ready and waiting.

sleeping soundly with her blanket

Once our stuff arrived, I made it a priority to get her room set up first. I knew that she would feel more comfortable knowing that her things had arrived, and having more things to play with would keep her occupied while I did the bulk of the unpacking. Even when everything was still a disaster, she found plenty of spaces that were just her size for playing in, and when everything was unpacked and set up, she got right down to business doing the things she loves best.

playing amongst the boxes


Zinashi has needed some extra reassurance as we have gotten settled, and we've seen a little bit of regression, but I'd say it has been minimal. She's needed to be held more, has had some emotional moments, and has requested drinks in a bottle, but all of that is tapering off now. Zinashi derives a lot of comfort from proximity, and that is one thing we can easily give her in the place we now live. I think that a lot of the time, our instincts tell us things that make sense before we can figure them out in a logical way. When I looked at this place, I somehow felt that it was better than the other one, but I couldn't put my finger on why. I knew that the location was fantastic, but something about the actual living space itself just felt right to me. I've figured out now just what that was. I was recognizing the possibility of proximity in this space. Let me show you on the back of a chocolate bar wrapper that was conveniently next to me on the couch. This is the layout of our new place:

house layout drawn on back of chocolate bar wrapper is not to scale
This is obviously not to scale.

By having all the entrances to the rooms centered around the main entryway, everywhere you are in the house feels close to every other place. And aside from bedroom to bedroom, you can see into each of the other rooms from whatever room you're in. This gives Zinashi a feeling of proximity to us no matter where we are in the house. She can play in her room and feel like she is close to us. Better yet, there is ample room to set up play space in the kitchen and still be able to work around the toys.

what a face
Do not be fooled by her expression; she was having a marvelous time. She just didn't want me taking her photo.

I honestly had no conscious recognition of this when I looked at the place; it just felt right. It felt like home. And it is. If the rest of our transition goes as smoothly as it's gone so far, we will count ourselves very blessed and lucky indeed.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Don't Get Too Far Away From Me

don't get too far away from me
I won't.

We're getting really good at this public transportation thing. It suits us, and we like it very much. It steals hours from our day, when we might be doing other things (like cleaning the bathroom or officially announcing who got our Give It Forward payment this month), but it is worth it. Before long, we will have mastered it well enough that our daily life will run like a well-oiled machine.

Oh, who are we kidding? Our life will never be like that. But we will get better and better at estimating just how late we'll be to various functions. I'm sure that will be good enough.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Everyone Was Right; It Goes By So Fast

Zinashi is so grown up these days. I feel like someone hit a fast forward button, and all of a sudden she can put tights on by herself and pour milk without help. This opens so many doors of possibility for us, and I am glad, but I miss my baby just the same. Do you remember when she was a baby? I do.

I miss that outfit. I'm gonna need another baby to put that on.

waving to the cat
This one, too.

reading her favorite book
From our very first night together. This one made me cry a little bit.

my only birthday wish
I need to stop this or I'll be crying all morning.

I've been talking to a lot of people about our family story lately. It just seems to come up. They ask how long we've been together, and I count on my fingers from September. Sixteen months. Seems like a blink, but seems like forever. I can't wait to see where our family story takes us next.

she put her own tights on this morning
They tell me she'll be a teenager someday. I refuse to believe it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Theme Song

Kindness, by Ryan Adams. Listen to it on Rdio, or just download it. I promise you will not regret it.

And maybe later, I'll explain why it's my new theme song. For now I'd like to leave you guessing.

Why We Observe This Day

Zinashi has no idea who Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was or what he and so many others did or why it was and is so important. It is too soon just yet, but we pause to observe this day because someday she will learn, and someday we will wrestle with issues of race alongside her. It is important to remember what our country was like just a short time ago, and it is important to remember that we still have work to do.

Another blogger posted this video, and I find it to be so appropriate for today. Watch, remember, be grateful for those who have paved the way and did it with such courage.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

One Thing at a Time

In an hour and a half, I'll check the final vote tally for this month's Give It Forward payment and make our donation to the chosen charity. If you are still awake, you've still got time to vote. If you're reading this on Monday morning, don't worry; there will be another loan payment in February.

I've had Baby Barbecue* on my mind lately, particularly as I've put together Zinashi's room. She knows that when her sister comes, we'll have to fit the baby in there somewhere. When you see the photos later this week, you'll probably wonder just where I plan to put a baby (and a baby's stuff), but don't worry: I have a plan! And that's about all I have a plan for. As much as I wanted to get things rolling to get our home study done as soon as we hit town, we've simply been unable to. There are other things that must come first. Surprisingly enough, I am okay with that. And when I'm not okay with that, I remind myself of each and every instance in which things turned out just the way I wanted them to, regardless of how much I worried or didn't worry about the process of getting there.

This next baby will come in her own time, in her own way, just as she's meant to. No one needs to freak out or feel like they're behind schedule, because that's not true. There is no schedule except the one that puts us in the right place at the right time for the right baby for our family. There is a girl out there we're meant to say yes to, and I know that. If we proceed as if we are on our way to her (and not as if we are crazed lunatics with control issues, ahem), then we will get to the place where she is.

So for now I am getting our house in order, one room at a time. When it gets hard, or the task I have ahead of me seems intolerable, I think, "This one's for Baby Barbecue, wherever she is." And then I do it and only complain a little bit, in the small corner of my mind that is spoiled rotten. The rest of me is smiling, I promise.

*Zinashi announced to me one day that her baby sister was crying in Ethiopia, and that the baby's name was Barbecue. I now cannot think of the baby without thinking of her as Baby Barbecue. So Baby Barbecue she is. Perhaps we should forego the name we've chosen and name her something that means smoky and spicy?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Moving: Making it Fun for Zinashi

One goal I had for our move was that Zinashi would have a positive experience throughout the transition. I knew that we would have a lot to accomplish and that much of the time would be spent tending to tasks required to make our new home here, but I wanted to give her a good impression of the amazing city we now call home right from the start. To that end, I decided that every day I would make sure that we did something that would be fun for Zinashi. The first week we were here, my mom was tasked with doing those fun things, and that gave me enough time to get things settled that I could take over the fun times once she'd gone home. I'm happy to tell you that this has worked out beautifully. Mostly we have done things close by, within walking and Zinashi-biking distance, but from time to time we go farther away from home. Today we went to Playland at the Conservatory of Flowers, and we had a great time.

The fun house mirrors were a huge hit.

For us, it's not practical to plan something like this every day, and my larger goal is for Zinashi to grow up knowing the satisfaction of a good day spent with her own imagination in a familiar setting. Most days we will dig in the sand at the beach or go back to the same park, or even just break out a game or art supplies at home. We'll venture out farther for our errands and see interesting things along the way. But every day we will do something that Zinashi likes, and I am confident that she will continue to love living in her new city.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Of Tunnels and Lights

Thursday: box pickup.

Friday: charitable donation pickup.

Saturday and beyond: finally having space to get this house in order.

We arrived to a full size table, two chairs, and a Queen size mattress in our space, all of which we used and were grateful for, but which now serve one purpose, which is to be in our way. We found various other items tucked away in cabinets and on countertops, and by the time we added our IKEA haul and our own things from our last home, we were simply stuffed in here, and there were limits to what I could do to get us settled. If you can't get to it, you can't use it or organize it, and that has frustrated me no end. But by Friday afternoon, that will all change, and with that knowledge comes relief. I guess I don't have to collapse in a heap and weep after all.

The light of normal life post move is beginning to show itself. No more mid-move life for us, just home life. We're getting closer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Getting Here, Living Here

Last night I unpacked the very last box. Well, sort of. There's one missing, just some books, but books we like and would like to have back. Our stuff arrived on Thursday, and I just couldn't rest until it was all out and into the room it would eventually end up in. Also, I was trying to win at moving. Can you win at moving if you end up with a missing box? Let's pretend you can. And that I did.

I still don't recommend moving over the holidays, but if you have to, I want you to know that you will live. You will just keep going until you one day you manage to run two errands using your new mode of transportation (public! with all the unwashed masses who smell of marijuana and/or body odor!) (or are shaving next to you; yes, that happened) and put dinner in the crock pot. The day after that you'll likely collapse, weeping, but I don't know yet. That day will be tomorrow.

Still, the point is that we made it, and we're settling in, and this is home. We can sit on our sofa at the end of the day and eat off our own plates. It was no small feat getting here, but we did it, and not only that, but we documented it for your enjoyment.

Those of you who follow me on twitter and/or instagram will notice some familiar photos. We documented, but we didn't document that much. Here's how it all went down.

We started at an airport. Clearly, Zinashi already knew how this worked. Observe the confidence. That trip to Europe paid off.

airport pro

We let her watch two movies on the plane. Kids who don't get much screen time are totally suckers for iPad viewing on planes. We are obviously the wisest parents ever.

two muppet movies, no waiting

And then we had to get all that luggage out of the airport and into the rental car. Okay, Jarod did. We mostly just stood around and watched him do it.

oh, the luggage

Before Jarod started his new job, we made a point of getting our IKEA shopping done. Our #1 goal was to select a new bed. Not that anyone would ever be tired enough to sleep on it or anything, as Zinashi in particular never gets tired, but it looks like we were a success.

she wasn't tired!  she swears!

One of the biggest snags in this whole process was finding out that we couldn't take our cats on the flight we had booked. We ended up using, but even using an excellent service can't prevent weather related flight cancellations. Two of our three cats had a four day flight delay. We were happy when everyone had finally arrived, safe and sound and only a little bit upset. I made it up to them the next day by leaving the linen closet door open.

the new cat condo

To keep the cats company, Zinashi brought home some livestock.

livestock purchase

Jarod started his new job on the third, and we thought it was only right that we celebrate. Our stuff hadn't arrived yet, so we were still using a mishmash of plasticware we sent ahead, items the previous tenants left behind, and a variety of chair-like items. It wasn't a very pretty table, but we did buy a fancy cake.

dinner celebrating jarod's new job

It was delicious. It also turned our sweet daughter into someone resembling Colonel Sanders.

colonel sanders?

My mom was here through the fourth, so we took advantage of plenty of beach time. My mom is way more exciting at the beach than I am, and Zinashi knows it.

zinashi and her banana

Actually, Ababi is also a lot more exciting than I am at the beach. I chose the tutu she got for Genna, though, so I feel like I should get some credit for the beach fun. The beach is more fun in a tutu, isn't it?

beach fun in a tutu?  yes, please.

I'm pretty sure it's similar to how the bus stop is more fun in a poncho, sun hat, and oversized sunglasses. We are rocking the public transportation. Who needs a car when you can offer this fabulousness to the world at large?

working the accessories, waiting for the 71

Take off the poncho and shades, and what do you have? An outfit suitable for complaining about how bored you are.

san bruno bart station, bored

We are finding our way here. It is hard work, and we are all tired, but we are pulling through. There are beautiful moments every day, and I'm glad to have that reminder through these snapshots of our new life. Every day hard, but every day beautiful. That seems just about right.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Give It Forward: Choose Who Gets Our January Payment!

I don't know about you, but January 8 snuck up on me. Are we really more than a week into January? We are, and that means that it's time to ask you who our first Give It Forward loan payment should be given to. For those of you who missed our big idea the first time around, you can read more about our Give It Forward loan in this post or go directly to the Give It Forward page. We are asking the internet for a loan, which we will pay back to charities that you help us choose. During our first month (which isn't over yet, so there's still time to get in on the first month action), we were given $397.50. We were touched by those of you that reached out and gave during a month that is more financially taxing than most. Thank you. You warmed our hearts.

This month, we will be paying back $200 of what you have given, plus $20 of "interest" out of our own pockets, for a total of $220 to the charity of your collective choice. We've chosen four charities that caught our eye, and they are:

charity: water for the work they do bringing water to people who don't have it. Having clean water makes a huge difference; it's something we never have to think about, but in other places, people get sick and die because of they do not have what is so easy for us to get anytime, anywhere.

Inspired by a fellow blogger's children giving up their Christmas gifts to help, we are including Dr. Rick Hodes' amazing surgeries.

The International Rescue Committee works in Ethiopia, helping people just like Zinashi's family as they deal with the effects of drought.

Through Heifer International, we can give a sheep, chickens, and rabbits to help families become self-reliant. This idea really touches me because it means that families like Zinashi's would have a better chance of staying together.

Now it's up to you to vote. You can feel free to vote as many times as you like, and encourage others to come vote as well. Voting will remain open until midnight on January 15, at which time we will declare a winner and make our payment. Get to it!

survey service

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Very Melkam Genna Indeed

Today is/was Ethiopian Christmas. Melkam Genna! In Kansas City, we would have observed the holiday at an overnight church service, but here we barely managed to observe at all. Bleary-eyed this morning, I remembered the outfit I'd bought Zinashi as her Genna gift and stumbled into her room to lay it out on her bed. I returned to the big bed without waking anyone, and we all slept until 10:30am. Which, actually, is quite a celebration, come to think of it. Zinashi got super excited about her outfit, and I managed to persuade her that argyle knee socks were the best choice for the weather. She chose the sparkly shoes herself.

describing just what the dog to her right was doing and thinking
If you're thinking that this outfit is all wrong for a bicycle ride on the beach, you clearly don't know how to celebrate Genna properly.

Despite the siren call of boxes needing to be unpacked, we managed to spend the bulk of the day at the beach, heading home just as the sun was setting.

homeward bound

Zinashi is such a gift to us. Every Genna we get to spend with her will be a happy one; I'm so glad that we know her, and because we know her, we have new vocabulary to celebrate this holiday. Melkam Genna, from our hearts to yours.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

It Turns Out That Sometimes I'm Really Good at Making Important Decisions

In between the time that I came to San Francisco and rented our house and when we returned, I had a little bit of renter's remorse. Did I rent the right place? Was it really better to choose location over more space and a fabulous interior?

Let's check:

running barefoot


If Zinashi were littler or even a good deal older, this might not have been the right spot for us. But as it stands, she adores going to the beach, and can be occupied there easily for hours. We can still get many places by riding just one bus, which stops around the corner, or just one street car, which we can reach by walking just four blocks. And it turns out that I am a near-to-the-beach-neighborhood kind of girl. It's quieter out here, and as a special bonus, the little market down the street sells all the organic-local-ethically-produced kinds of food I like to feed my family. I'll be able to walk down and choose our dinner ingredients each day if I like. For Zinashi and me, this places is the JAMZ.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Last Monday with Old Lady Mary: The Final Visit

It just occurred to me that I never posted about our last visit with our dear Mary. It wasn't as eventful as I'd imagined it would be. Nicole was in town and came when we did so she could see us before we left and see Mary at the same time. Nicole's sister Olivia, who is taking over weekly visits for me, was also there, so it was a lot of people in a small space, and there just wasn't time for much emotion. Mostly, I was relieved that Olivia really liked Mary and appreciated her for who she is. I am leaving her in good hands.

monday, december 26, 2011
Click on the photo for more details of our outfits and Old Lady Mary's reactions. We were super excited that Zinashi finally fit into the dress that Ruby Westra sent to her.

All this time I've been visiting Mary, I've never been able to convince her to let me take her photo. I've outright begged her, telling her that I like to have photos of my friends, and I want something to remember her by since she's always reminding me that she might die on the sidewalk. I really didn't want to let any more time go before getting a photo of the two of us together (and now that Zinashi is with me, the three of us), so I had Nicole sneak some photos. Because I know that Mary would prefer not to have her photo taken, I am only sharing this one of her profile. I think she's lovely.

meet our friend mary
Goofy look on my face is...well, it's just my face. I can't help it. I hope you like it.

We will be back to visit Mary, hopefully no later than April, and we will be packing our finest outfits to impress her once more. In the meantime, we're starting a new project in order to send a post card to Mary each week. If all goes well, we'll do that on Tuesdays. When things go as they've gone this week, we'll forget what day it is and do it on a Wednesday.

We look forward to sharing this next project with Mary and with you. Until tomorrow...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Just a Quote, Which Could Become a Resolution

I saw this on someone's twitter today, and I've had it floating around in my head ever since.

Be truthful, gentle, and fearless.

This seems just about right in a season of resolutions. Instead of trying to do a laundry list of self-improvements, I would like to focus just on these things. For this year and for many years to come. In fact, if this is what I'm working on, I'll probably never need to come up with another one. I can just remind myself each January that there's still more work to do.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

This is 2012

I woke up this morning feeling much better than I have in weeks. One night of solid rest will do that for you, I suppose. I tidied up our place as much as I could while Jarod put together IKEA items and Zinashi did...erm...something...with my mom. 2012 felt good.

And then I did two loads of pee laundry.

But 2012 still looked pretty good. I stayed in my pajamas for entirely too long and by evening was dressed and putting together dinner for my family in my new kitchen. I'd say "cooking dinner," but I don't think that wrapping a rotisserie chicken in foil to reheat it in the oven and tossing some frozen vegetables and butter in a pan really counts as cooking. Still, it was one small thing that made our new life feel a little less like camping out and more like we might actually live here. We are in what I call Make It Work Mode, and will be for the foreseeable future, but every small thing that we do like we would like to continue doing it is a step towards normal life.

My mom came out with us to wrangle Zinashi while Jarod and I get some things done this first week. This doesn't mean that we get out of the time ins and the whining and the pee laundry (see mention of the same above), but it does mean that Zinashi gets to do some fun things while we do things that would be far more challenging with her in tow, not to mention no fun at all for her. I would call her current state "dysregulated," and those of you who've lived what I'm talking about will know exactly why we'd pony up the frequent flyer miles to get a familiar face here so that Zinashi would not have to accompany us on our two-carts-full-plus-bed-selection trip to IKEA. I already felt like I was having an out of body experience due to the force of my lingering cold; it would have been nightmarish for Jarod and all other IKEA shoppers if I'd been half in charge of corralling a small girl who is anxious and wants only to play kitchen in the showrooms. Instead of that scenario, we got the shopping day to ourselves, and Zinashi got to play on the beach. Win-win. Thank you, Mom.

Yesterday as we drove south and the bay stretched out in front of us all of a sudden, I was struck by the renewed sense that living in San Francisco makes my heart happy. As much as it is a major life adjustment and a lot of work to get settled here, we are making so many dreams come true just by being here. I know from living here before how much good this city does for me; I hope my little family finds the same to be true for them. If that is indeed the case, 2012 will be a very good year.

As I look forward at what we need to do this year, I know that there will be a lot of hard work, and we will walk through things that will challenge us and grow us and make us better in the long run, but uncomfortable for the short term. I felt that 2011 was the year of the holding pattern, and 2012 looks to me like the year of digging in and pressing forward, both at the same time. I know what a couple of our challenges will be already, and I should probably feel nervous about them, but I don't. I'm sure I will as the time to face them draws nearer, but for now I simply feel that grace has been on our side so far, and there's no reason to believe that will change. And then, of course, there are the very good things that will accompany the work we will do. We'll go to the beach a lot, for one. I think we can start just with that and know that 2012 is going to rock our socks off. And if I really want to rub it in for those of you still landlocked, I can add that this will be our evening view from our home at the end of each day.

sunset view from our deck

But I don't want to do that, so just forget about it. Think instead of what good 2012 will do for you. I hope that what's on your horizon is more beautiful than our sunset view.
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