Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thanks, Donut Time

Today was the day Zinashi finally figured out that we are actually living here, that we aren't just here for a little bit and then going back to our house in Kansas City, where we will "drive our machina lots of times up the driveway." As she sat in my arms, sobbing, I just kept saying, "I know, sweetie, I'm sorry," and she would return with, "But I want to live in KANSAS CITY with ALL MY FRIENDS." Pointing out that she has friends here now and that some of her friends are also moving was not helpful. I know! You'd think that would work like magic on an irrational, weeping child! So we devised another plan, and that plan is that all of our friends from Kansas City are now required to move here. Start looking for jobs, people. We won't take no for an answer.

Shortly after she finished crying, I plopped her into the stroller to go to the bank. I had two goals for the day, and one of them was to go to the bank. Those checks won't deposit themselves! A major meltdown will not deter me! So off we went, with Zinashi clutching her Statue of Liberty doll, uphill all the way (no, really, this isn't your grandpa's childhood story). As we approached the bank, I noted that the donut shop I've meant to check out was open. Having just pushed the stroller uphill for a little way (including a dash across a busy intersection), I felt that an easy lunch would be the best lunch, and suggested to Zinashi that she might like to choose a donut for lunch. My suggestion was met with an enthusiastic YES!, so of course, we did it.

And that, my friends, is the story behind why my daughter ate a giant palmier for lunch.

palmier = healthy, well-balanced lunch
And also half of a cream horn.

The end.

Epilogue: She is now playing happily, dancing and clapping her hands. Donut Time saves the day!

PS--I've been meaning to write about how my Whole30 is going, but didn't get around to it on the 20th day, and now it seems pointless to devote a whole post to it. So here's the scoop on that: I'm still doing it, Jarod dropped out, and I miss coffee. Still. That's pretty much it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

This Week's Instagram Faves

I have had too much of people this week. These months, actually. It's nothing personal; I'm just an introvert. I was doing all right until Zinashi started getting needy again, and also until I went to a mall on President's Day. As much as I accept my introverted nature, I still have trouble asking for what I need because it seems so selfish. But asking for a morning to myself in the house is far better than being exhausted and resentful of my little family because I haven't gotten the kind of rest I need, so I asked for it, and here I am, still in my pajamas, alone. Zinashi was under the impression that she was being whisked away to the playground so I could get work done, but I haven't done any. I finished my library book, and now I'm reading blogs. It feels great. So great, in fact, that I uploaded some photos for you without feeling under duress. Enjoy.

Zinashi can occupy herself almost anywhere now if she has some small toys to play with. Here she has borrowed some little cars from her friend Amos and is playing with them while we wait for our friends outside of Safeway. She does similar things when we wait for public transportation, or while we are on public transportation.

playing on the sidewalk

We finally got library cards this week; we live just two short blocks from the library, so you'd think that we would have gotten to this sooner, but we just...didn't. Zinashi went to the beach with a friend on Monday and then watched Oceans, and suddenly wanted to know everything about "all the animals in the water beach." This curiosity is exactly what leads me to believe that we will do marvelously at homeschooling. She has such thirst for information; she couldn't even wait to go upstairs to read her books, but sat down in our little stairwell entryway to get started.

library books - hooray!

She won't always let me dress her, but for now she gets pretty excited about combinations I put together, particularly if they involve shorts. She added the scarf, sunglasses, backpack, and chicken (with sweater!) herself. I love this.


At the airport when we were meeting my parents, the woman who took our order revealed to Zinashi that she could order cold chocolate milk with whipped cream. At the airport, they do not have the kid-sized cups, so she got a tall cup. At other Starbucks, if we ask for a kid's chocolate milk with whipped cream, they put it in the kid-sized hot cup. This is not acceptable to Zinashi. "I want the one with the kid of the lid that goes," and gestures like she is forming a dome with her hands. I could say no, that she has to order the kid version, but I don't, because she loves that domed lid so much. Also, it's funny.

*with whip*

I am not the only one who has been worn out by our schedule as of late. Zinashi has been having a ton of fun with friends and with my parents, but it was apparent she was hitting the wall, and this was before we dragged her onto the Golden Gate Bridge in a stroller. Before we even left the house yesterday, actually. Still, it made for a very cute photo, and today she is fine, well-rested and happy to have breakfast at the bakery and play outdoors. That's my good little cowgirl.

tired little cowgirl

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Still a Baby, Sometimes

still a baby, really

So many days leave me wondering where my baby went, but AHA! Here she is. Those cheeks won't let her grow up just yet, no matter how hard she tries. Good job, cheeks.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Where I Work

I've been participating in a little photo-a-day project on Instagram, and it's been fun so far. Every day there's an assignment for what to take a photo of, and you can approach it however you want. Today's directive was: where you work. I think we all are familiar with where I work, but here's a photo nevertheless.

breakfast picnic in the living room

I'm the one in charge of making sure no jam comes in contact with the upholstery. Among other things. When the social worker came to to my individual interview (do I call it an interview?), she asked about my work, if I had any plans to work outside the home in the near future, and how I felt about my current role. I actually get asked this on casual conversation quite a bit, so I was prepared to answer. And the answer is that I like this, and for now Zinashi still does best with one parent at home, and I simply can't think beyond what we need to be doing now. I don't know when things will change, or if they will, and with a second adoption on the horizon, it would be silly to try to make some big life profession plans. Right now, frankly, I have absolutely zero desire to figure out a job to do outside of our family life. I took care of children as my profession for many years, and this has proved to be all the more gratifying. Plus, I'll be honest, it's a total bonus to be able to do my job in my pajamas much of the time. I think I'll stick with this as my career path for the foreseeable future.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Name Telling More About the Namer

When we were waiting for Zinashi, we chose a name to give her, so that we would think of her as a person before we even met her. I'd thought long and hard about the name I wanted to bestow on my daughter. I wanted it to be classic, but a little bit different, with a lot of variations for nicknames. I wanted a name she'd be able to work with, that could stand on its own but also have shortened versions depending on her preference. I heard the name Magnolia through a friend whose friend named her baby that, and I knew immediately that it was just right. Magnolias are such strong, graceful flowers, and I knew that a name that indicated both strength and grace would be perfect.

And then, of course, we didn't end up using it at all, except on her US birth certificate. We intended to call her Nola, but then when she was three years old instead of being a baby, we decided that a combination would be better, so as not to confuse her and make the transition easier, and we were going to call her Nola Zinash. And then, well, we met her. And she was always just Zinashi. I made a half-hearted attempt to call her Nola Zinash, but it just never stuck. She knew herself as Zinashi (or, as she said it then, Ginatchee). Beyond her own preference, we heard the story behind her name, and we just couldn't change it. It means too much to change it. She is Zinashi. As much as Magnolia says about our desires for our daughter, Zinash says the same things about her first family's intentions and hopes for her. We could never take from her that which was given so lovingly.

When it comes to our next baby, we have chosen a name to give her. (Well, besides Baby Barbecue. I realize that's a winner, but it wouldn't look right on the post placement reports.) We will keep her Ethiopian name, and it is quite possible that we will feel the same way about her Ethiopian name as we have about Zinashi's, and thus our chosen name will rest blissfully on legal documents until such a time as she feels she'd like to use it. I was having some doubts about our choice, but then I looked up again what it means. Depending on which origin you go with, it means different things. It means light. It means life. From the French origin, it means hazelnut, which just happens to be my favorite nut. So she shall be Evelina. Light. Life. Our little hazelnut.

Now the only question is: can you use hazelnuts in barbecue?

Buying Shoes: It's What Moms Do

The thing about paperwork for adoption is that the experience of completing it is so dry, so far removed from the moment there's a child in my arms. I remember sitting in our room at Mr. Martin's Cozy Place in Addis, looking at the photo we'd first seen of Zinashi and then looking at her standing right in front of me, and being unable to believe the connection. We saw a photo, and then the girl in the photo became our daughter. It's all so unreal. And the beginning of the paperwork is even worse on this account. What connection do these papers that I'm dutifully filling out with Sharpie pen have to do with a real live human being that will be in our family? Well, everything. Everything and nothing. It is hard to do something so mind numbing as typing and printing and signing and connect it to a living, breathing little person.

I have thought a lot about this next baby, but she seems so far removed from all of this that we are doing now. Still, there are moments--and I remember this happening while we were waiting for Zinashi, too--that there is a sudden realization that yes, all these papers will indeed lead to someone new to love. As much as I've felt that Baby Barbecue is out there, somewhere, I still hadn't made that connection, not yet. It had all been so vague so far. A feeling last May that the sadness which came up suddenly and wouldn't leave was somehow connected to my second daughter, the understanding that we were to proceed as planned instead of changing course--these were the things I had to hang my someday-mother-of-two hat on.

Today on the bus, I was sitting across from a couple of confused teenagers. They were amusing to watch, and eavesdropping on their conversation did not disappoint (Martha Stewart Living makes a great cover for eavesdropping activities, FYI). About halfway through the ride home, a couple with a toddler got on. The toddler was wearing some Tiny TOMS, and one of the teenagers said, "Oh, I didn't know they made baby TOMS." I smiled quietly to myself (in the direction of the article in Martha Stewart Living, of course) and thought about which Tiny TOMS I would choose for our next baby (these). I thought about taking the little shoes to Ethiopia to put on her little feet and that was when I just about started crying on the bus, right into the Martha Stewart Living article on fanciful gardens, no less. Because it suddenly occurred to me, in a more real way than it has thus far, that I would indeed be putting little shoes on little feet, the feet of a real live baby that would be a member of our family.

We joke about Baby Barbecue, but she'll have a real name someday--two of them, actually--the one that I chose* and the one that was already chosen for her by someone who loved her first. That part breaks me wide open, too. She'll have a name, and a story, and just like with Zinashi, she will come with so much hurt already meted out into her little life. As much as I'll love putting those little shoes on her feet, at the same time it breaks my heart a little that I'll get to do it at all. And maybe that's the purpose of the paperwork, of the mundane things we do to make the adoption a reality. It connects us to our children while shielding us from the pain of feeling the injustice of the situation so acutely each step of the way. At the end of the paperwork and the wait, there's a little person who will come with her own sad story, who will bring us joy born of her sorrow.

It doesn't seem fair, does it? It isn't. But when I know her shoe size, I will order the Tiny TOMS just the same. Because at least that's something I can do to begin being her mother**. Even if I wish I weren't necessary, I will gladly step right in and be the mother I never would have been in a more just world. Out of that great sorrow, there will indeed be joy, and that joy will be wearing some Tiny TOMS.

*When I asked Jarod if he had any ideas for names for our children, he said, "Not really. I figured you already had some picked out." And I did. More on that in another post.

**I'll admit I did a lot of over-shopping, for clothes in particular, when we knew that Zinashi was coming to us. It made me feel better to provide something for her when I couldn't be there to mother her in person. Thus we have many gently worn items that Baby Barbecue will never suspect were worn at all. I won't have any reason to buy any more clothes, at least not in size 18 months and up. Shoes, however, are a different story. A whole different story altogether.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Give It Forward: February's Recipient, plus a Few Other Notes

As promised, I determined the recipient of February's Give It Forward payment at midnight on February 16. Being quite tired at that point, I added the donation to my list of things to do for Friday, the 17th. Our recipient, Where Love Is, received the usual payment of $220, plus my promised $5 late fee for forgetting what day it was.

It makes me really happy to make this contribution each month. I know that we're only two months into it, but it's really fun to make the donation and know that the money that is helping us get our adoption rolling is also helping someone else. We also found out recently that our part of the contribution will be matched, so now what you give will grow by 20%! We are so grateful to all of you.

At this point, we've got some very clear financial goals for the adoption. We just paid for our home study, so what we've raised through our Give It Forward program has been used, and we added to it from our own pockets to come up with the full amount. I consider the part of the process we're in now to be Phase 1 of 3*, at least financially (I could break it down into all sorts of phases if I included everything, but I'll restrain myself). This phase is simply gathering all our documents and paying the necessary fees to get them processed properly.

To complete this phase, we've still got to send in our I-600a (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition), pay the agreed upon amount for our post placement reports (due in advance to our home study agency, who will be completing these for us), get eight documents notarized, get sixteen documents state certified, and finally, when we get all those glorious papers together, pay the dossier and authentication fee. The total for all these things (plus a few other random fees along the way) is not small, but it's doable. We've got tax refunds coming and we've got some recent financial hiccups getting sorted out soon, and we are hopeful about having the full amounts for everything in place soon.

Of course we would love to get this goal accomplished a bit faster and be able to give to charities in the process, so if you've been itching to make a difference for two different causes with just one donation, the Donate button for our Give It Forward loan is up there to the left, and an explanation of what Give It Forward is can be found by clicking here.

As a reminder, we have no intention of keeping any of these funds, and are adding to them by 10%, which is being matched, so we will grow your donation by 20%. You give $10, and someone who truly needs it gets $12! You give $50, and someone awesome gets $60! Win-win! And actually, because it makes me so happy to make the donation every month, I'm going to go ahead and call this Win-win-WIN! That's a lot of winning that we're doing together. Thanks, everybody.

Phase 2 includes our referral and in country fees, and Phase 3 includes travel expenses. For a more detailed list of expenses, visit our Give It Forward page.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Few Thoughts on Our Second Adoption

When we pay for something adoption related, I dutifully save or print out the receipt, depending on how it is delivered to me. I even save the small ones that got easily lost last time, like the $5.15 charge at the post office or the $25 notary fee from the doctor's officd that was emailed to me. I am better at it this time around. I am better at a lot of things. Everything of this nature--the paperwork nature--is easier once you've done it once. I feel a lot less confused and definitely a lot less frazzled. It will all get done in the time it's meant to get done. I know that a lot of people don't believe in this sort of thing, but looking back, I see so many small occurrences that made us ready for Zinashi when she was ready for us, and I believe that is happening again. So now when there is a delay of some sort or our finances aren't lining up quite the way I imagined for having the next fees ready, I simply say to myself, "This is all part of the plan. Everything is proceeding at exactly the right pace." This doesn't, of course, remove my earnest desire to get the paperwork done and out of my own hands as quickly as possible, but at least I know that I am constraining my impulses for a reason.

Like many families, we struggled with whether or not to pursue another Ethiopian adoption at this time. Those of you within the Ethiopian adoption community at large are likely aware of the recent issues in Ethiopia, the stories coming to light about things done unethically and what both Ethiopia and the Department of State are doing to try to correct this. Some say there is too much risk to begin again. We have looked at other programs in other countries, and considered all the information available to us, but when it comes down to it, we both still feel that our next child is in Ethiopia. I'm sure that some of the more vocal members of various adoption forums would jump all over me for feeling that our child is in Ethiopia, when logic should tell me that this is a very risky proposition, but we went with our gut when it came to Zinashi, and even with some surprising facts of her case coming to light, we still feel that we were meant to say yes to her (oops, there I go again, feeling things about our adoption). And we believe that we are meant to say yes to someone else in Ethiopia, too.

So we continue on with each new step in the process. Home study visits, fingerprints, notarization, more fingerprints, state certification, adoption education, dossier submission. And then, eventually, referral. Travel. Homecoming. It is happening slowly, but suddenly it will all happen so fast.

Baby Barbecue, we are coming for you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ten Days of Thirty

Even though I keep having dreams that Jarod shows up somewhere and starts devouring both pizza and cake, in real life we are both still muddling through our Whole30, and have made it a third of the way as of today. It's going okay. Jarod was really hungry at first, until he figured out what else he could eat besides a banana for breakfast and salad for lunch. I have a powerful yearning for my morning coffee, but I'll hold out without a problem.

Jarod has reported no benefits to eating so well for ten days. Spoilsport.

As for me, my acne is fading as expected, and the body composition shift has arrived just like last time. I'm pretty sure when it comes to body composition that whatever I eat that exacerbates my acne also causes me to retain a lot of water. My trips to the ladies room have not been infrequent, with the most annoying part being that my body feels obliged to wake me at least twice a night to release more of its burden. I'm hoping this will to taper off by day twenty. I have also noticed that I am falling asleep more easily and sleeping more soundly, aside from the bathroom breaks, that is. I thought that one of Jarod's benefits (which is really just a benefit to me) might be less snoring, but I honestly don't know if he's actually snoring less or if I'm just sleeping that much better. Either way is fine by me, though I think that Jarod prefers the latter, as it would give him a free pass to resume eating bread once this nonsense is all over.

I've thought a lot about how I'd like to proceed with eating once this round of the Whole30 is done. Mostly, I'd just like to avoid the foods that cause my acne and eat less sugar. I'd like to enjoy my morning coffee again, in my big cup with a generous scoop of palm sugar and a dash or four of cream. One thing that's stuck out to me as I've read different forums related to this style of eating is that so many people are missing out on the fullness of enjoyment of food. So many of them are stuck on the old Food = Fuel logic that they miss out on what food really does for us beyond the nutritive value. There's so much more to say about this, about food culture (or lack thereof), about how comfort can be derived from food and how very okay that is in the right context. But I'll save that for another day and just affirm that I very much look forward to resuming my morning ritual of shuffling to my French press and hitting the button on my electric kettle, of holding the warm cup in my hands and, on a lucky morning, enjoying the quiet of the house before little feet come dashing through it. I am grateful for what these thirty days are doing and will do for my health, but I am looking forward just the same to getting back to the newest version of normal.

Twenty more days. I'll report back again when we've got just ten more to go, and then again at the end.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This Tuesday (on the Phone) with Old Lady Mary: Valentine Love Edition

Valentine's Day kind of snuck up on us. I meant to go get Zinashi a little something (preferably a stuffed chicken that she wanted from a toy shop in the Mission), but schedules got rearranged, and I never managed it. So all we have for each other today is love.

We did manage to get out two valentines, and there will be more on the way, but the most important one got done first, and that was the one to Old Lady Mary. Sorry to all the rest of you that think you are important--you are, it's just that you don't measure up to our valentine standards. Do you have a valentine of some sort? Living family? Feelings of safety when you leave your home (as opposed to fearing being a victim of homicide)? Okay, then. You don't need us at all for this day. But Mary, well, she does. So we sent her a valentine last week, and today we called her. And then she ended up giving me the best valentine I could have hoped for. I hung up the phone and cried, actually.

All these years I've been visiting Mary, I have ended our visits by telling her that I love her, but she never, EVER reciprocated. She gave pats on the back and said that she thought we were gorgeous and kind and super, but never said she loved us. I was okay with that; it just wasn't her way. On the phone today, she was so delighted to hear our voices, and she exclaimed to me about how she missed us and wished every week that we would show up at her door. "I just never liked or loved anybody the way I like and love you and that little girl," she gushed, and I didn't even know what to say except that we love her, too, so much, and we miss her every day. And oh, how we do. My heart glowed with her words, and it wasn't until after I hung up the phone that the floodgates opened. To hear the world love on Valentine's Day has never meant so much to me. It probably never will again.

Happy Valentine's Day, dear readers. May love surprise you today and every day of the year.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Life Motto

Someday this will not make sense to the young people, but I'll be an old person, and it will still be both funny and appropriate to me.

a reminder

I hung this in my office space at home because I need a reminder to slow things down. The BRING IT ON part I've got running through my veins most of the time, but it needs to be tempered. All these years I've been trying to do more than one thing at a time, and it turns out that it's still not possible to do more than one thing at a time if you'd like to do things well. And sometimes it is just flat out impossible. I don't know why I keep trying. I think there's some definition of insanity that might fit my continued attempts, but let's keep that out of it.

I want to get things done as quickly as possible. I have this idea that if I can just get (fill in the blank) done, then my life will magically be easier and more relaxed. So I stress myself out by rushing and pushing, working so hard to get things done that I end up too exhausted to truly enjoy the fruits of my labor. Every day I get things done, but I never feel like it is enough. My new motto says, "You know what? Enthusiasm is great, but let's focus and not get ahead of ourselves."

So I'm going to work on that. Even though there's a social worker coming for a home study visit on Saturday. Even though we have visitors on the horizon. Even though I hate living in disorganization.

One at a time, please.

I'm going to focus on that. It's a good place to start on a Monday.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Antidote to Complaining

Our internet has been either very slow or nonexistent for the past week or more. I can't remember when it started being a pain in the roof, as Zinashi likes to say (really not sure where she got roof, but grateful that she didn't start saying ass instead), but it's been too long. Not that I wouldn't be behind on emails anyway, but this makes it worse.

Still, life is pretty good when you can sit on your very own balcony and hear the ocean, whether or not you have all the conveniences of life in the developed world in working order.

enjoying the fresh sea air

There are moments that this feels like our real life, like when I'm folding laundry or lugging our groceries home from the bus stop, but I honestly have to say that when we sit on our balcony and hear the ocean, I still can't believe that this is where we live now. I'm going to side with Zinashi on this one and continue to be confused about whether or not we're on vacation.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Choose Who Gets Our Give It Forward Payment for February

Am I the only one who can't believe it's already February? And yet, here we are. On the ninth, not the eighth, because time is passing so quickly that I lost a day in there somewhere. Because I'm posting your voting options a day late, I'll also extend voting until midnight on February 16, and add in a five dollar late payment fee to penalize myself for being unable to remember the date.

For a little while, I thought that this might be the last Give It Forward payment we'd do, but then you people up and surprised me. To date, we've been "loaned" $1042.50. That's amazing! Thank you! We've still got a long way to go if we want to stick it to the man and give all the money to people who can use the funds well, but we are well on our way. Thanks to you, we are currently lined up to make four more full payments and one partial payment.

Now, without further ado, the choices for this month's payment.

I found out about Ekisa and the work they do in Uganda through a series of blog links. Not only are they lovingly caring for children with special needs, but they also employ people with disabilities. In Uganda, there is a lot of stigma attached to being disabled, so they are doing amazing things for both children and adults. If you want to be inspired, read the stories of their children and of their staff.

Where Love Is cares for street children in Addis Ababa. This one is particularly close to our hearts; when we took our daily walks while staying in Addis with Zinashi, we saw so many of these children. We gave them what we could by way of fruit, coins, and small toys, but what this organization is doing for them is what we really wished we could do. To give these children education and hope for the future means everything in terms of what their lives will turn out to be like.

Nothing But Nets provides mosquito nets to prevent the spread of malaria. This is something we don't really think about in the developed world, but in much of the world, malaria is still a real threat, and people lose their lives to it every day. A net given to a family can protect four people from mosquitoes that bite at night. A net costs just $10 to acquire and distribute; our Give It Forward payment would therefore pay for twenty-two nets and protect eighty-eight people. That's a lot of malaria protection!

I'll admit it: I found this last one via Google. In 1994, I spent a summer in Tanzania, mostly on Mount Kilimanjaro, and Moshi was our home base. It still has a place in my heart, so it seems only appropriate that Amani Children's Home takes in children who live on the streets and cares for their every need, including education. Even better, they seek to reunite children with their families whenever possible. The work they do is truly inspiring.

All these organizations deserve your vote, honestly, but you'll have to make a choice. Go ahead, vote.

web polls

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A New (to Us) Stroller for My Four-Year-Old

I seem to have lost a whole day in this week somehow. I thought tomorrow was the eighth, but it turns out that was today, and I've already burned up all that daylight. This is life lately, and this is my excuse why I will be posting the choices for our Give It Forward payment for February tomorrow instead of today. My apologies. My brain is broken.

There are so many little things to do, and not enough time to do them. Phone calls are toughest. Cleaning up is second on the list. Paying bills is third. We are so close to be honest-to-goodness settled in here, but I am still a little stalled. And then sometimes, I'm slowed down by a little someone who wants to do everything herself or help me do what I'm doing. In her mind, she is helping. Immensely. In reality, 10% of the time she is helping, and 85% of the time she is creating a lot more work for me. (The remaining 5% of the time is neutral, neither helping nor hindering.) I want to encourage her to do things on her own when she is capable, and I want her to learn skills she doesn't already have, and I especially want her to be the kind of person who looks for ways to help others. While I cultivate these things, however, I am drawing on my reserves of patience. And this is why I bought a(nother) stroller for my four-year-old.

We have a Bumbleride Flyer that we really love, and it worked great in Kansas City. It folded up easily to throw in the trunk of the car, was a comfortable ride for Zinashi, and could hold a lot of stuff in the basket when we went to Target. It would be great if we were just taking it around our little neighborhood here, but if we're just walking down the street a few blocks, Zinashi can easily walk. We need a stroller for when we take public transport, for when Zinashi gets too tired to walk at the end of a long day, or too tired to walk at a pace that won't use up every last ounce of my daily allotment of patience. Sometimes we need to go farther than she can walk, and sometimes we need to go faster. And sometimes the "need" is just my perceived one. Sometimes I just can't take walking slowly anymore. That's it. For the farther and the faster, we take the stroller, and heaven help me, but lugging the Flyer on and off public transit once was enough for me. I scored an umbrella stroller for $8 the day after I took the Flyer on the N, which was two days after I carried Zinashi a total of ten blocks in an evening when she was exhausted from our day.

I used to judge people who put their children in strollers when they were older than two. People judge me now, too, and sometimes they say things to me about it. Yes, out loud. I know. It is worthwhile to note everyone who has said something about Zinashi being able to walk on her own has also been a car owner, as I was when I judged others for putting their bigger kids in strollers. I suppose this is just part of my life path of growth, in which I understand more clearly that I really don't know anyone else's story, so I should stop judging already. And I'm not just talking about parenting. There's just so much we don't know about others. We get glimpses, and if we are lucky, we'll recognize in those glimpses something familiar and feel the mercy that comes with recognition: we are all human beings. I happen to be a human being that recognized the limits of her arm strength and patience, and then went out and bought a stroller to use for her four-year-old.

preferred seating

Monday, February 6, 2012

Well, Someone Has to Eat Them

doughnut hole salad

As planned, Jarod and I started our Whole30 today. I figured it would be a good idea to put the doughnut holes out for Zinashi since no one else can eat them, and it was. I just didn't anticipate that she'd add them to her salad. I let it slide because A) it's not a big deal, and B) she ate it, and also C) it's hilarious.

She's been so funny lately. She wakes up cold, and nothing but a very large hat and hot chocolate will do.

it's the right hat for hot chocolate, no?

She smiles like she's a gelato catalog model one moment:

do you enjoy gelato?

And gets cross with me for taking her photo not much later:

there's that face again

She has been alternately needing more of us--desperately so--and being content to play for more than an hour by herself, in her room. With the next adoption's paperwork in full swing, the thought is often present that these days of sweetness with just her are numbered. These days of ease are going to come to an end, sooner or later. I know that it will keep getting better in many ways, but I also know that I will miss her at this age in the same way I miss her babyness when she first came to us. So I mark the time with snapshots, as a way of remembering her in this moment, even when she's bigger and amazing us in new ways.


She is and always will be sweetness and light and magic. Every single day.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Whole WHAT? Oh, No, Not That Again

Some months ago, I mentioned that I'd completed a Whole30 and eliminated my adult acne. A commenter asked me to elaborate, and I had every intention of doing so, but then life happened, and my feeble brain happened, and our big move over the holidays happened, and I never wrote the post I was planning. This is partly due to the aforementioned excuses, but partly due to dietary slips on my part and the return of my acne.

I will say that one positive that came of the Whole30 is that I don't eat nearly as much of the acne-causing foods as I did before, so the acne that's returned has been manageable, at least as much as painful facial lesions can be considered manageable. The Whole30 experience also prompted me to ditch the large quantities of topical acne medication I'd been using, and the joy of using linens that weren't white without ruining them has brought me such joy that I decided that even if I ate things which weren't good for my skin, I would suffer the consequences. It also just seemed right that I should witness the effects of poor diet on my person so as to feel more motivated to eat in a way that I know is good for me.

It took a long time for the feeling of being more motivated to kick in, but I'm finally there, and ready to kick of another Whole30. A huge factor in my readiness is being fairly settled in our new home, and the other bonus factor is that Jarod noticed some health issues he'd like to remedy and agreed to do the Whole30 with me. On Monday, we'll begin. Tomorrow we'll have a last hurrah, with IKEA cafe fare planned for lunch and a leftovers-polish-off planned for dinner.

The basics of the Whole30 are pretty simple to understand: you give up eating everything delicious for thirty days in order to enjoy better health. Of course we will eat things that taste good and are satisfying, but trips to the bakery, unabashed Thai food binges, and pizza/caesar salad delivery will be out. Whole30 requires that you give up sugar (and all other sweeteners), grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, and white potatoes. The white potatoes part may leave you scratching your heads, but I totally get it now that I've done one Whole30: they're very filling, which means that you can easily make a meal of them, but not very nutrient dense. The goal of the Whole30 is not only to rout out the foods that have been causing trouble, but also piling as many nutrients into your system as you possibly can, as a means of healing.

Some people are way more strict with Whole30 than I am and read all sorts of extra literature about portions and restrictions on fruits and vegetables (no bananas! no peppers!), but I don't care to be so strict. If you're looking for the strictest version, do not look here. That said, here's a little glimpse of a typical Whole30 eating day for me.

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (with vegetables if I'm feeling ambitious, and I'm usually not) and fruit (most often a banana, because it's easy), jasmine green tea

Lunch: Salad of spinach and mixed baby greens with fruit (canned pineapple, dried berries), nuts, and homemade dijon vinaigrette*, sometimes a hard-boiled egg, and water

Snack: fruit and nuts, most commonly a mixture of pecans, almonds, and dried cranberries (apple juice sweetened), herbal tea (if I'm craving sweets, Bengal Spice tea from Celestial Seasonings is my go to)

Dinner: meat and a giant serving of vegetables (fave easy combo is nitrate-free chicken sausage and roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, and onions), water

To be noted on the strict side is that fruit juice as a beverage is not an option. It gives a punch of fruit sugar with none of the fiber you can get in a piece of fruit. All meats are ethically raised meats free of nitrates and other nasties. To be noted on the cheating side is our weekly injera dinner; this is an important part of our family life, and we won't give it up. Zinashi's home food is a comfort to her, and this is something we do for the wellbeing of our family. It is not an option to have her eat it alone; this is a family ritual. It doesn't matter to me that on the Whole30 website it says that one bit will throw off the program; it matters that we do right by our daughter. I personally plan to lay off using so much injera to scoop up a bite and avoid the lentil dishes, but otherwise we will all eat Zinashi's favorite fare with joy.

This would obviously be even more of a challenge for vegetarians or vegans, but if your conscience prompts you to forego animal products and you choose to participate, I would love to hear how you make it work. The Orthodox Church observes period of fasting during which no animal products are to be eaten, and I haven't yet figured out how to make Whole30 eating work with a vegan diet. I know that fruits and vegetables and nuts should suffice, but in my real life experimentation, I haven't been able to maintain that and ever feel satisfied. Which...come to think of it...is maybe the part of the point of fasting? Regardless, I would welcome tips from vegetarians and vegans.

I go into this with very modest expectations. I know that my acne will clear up (hallelujah, pass the vegetables) and that my body composition will shift in ways that feel good. Last round made me realize how much I was using pasta as a main dish because it is easy, and not because I actually love it or feel good after I eat it (on the contrary, I felt like crap and didn't even recognize it). In the beginning of the period after the thirty days were over, I also didn't crave sugar so much. That has obviously been reversed, and if I had one wish, it would be that my intense love of sweets would be further tempered this round.

If you consider doing a Whole30, I recommend two things: first, that you go into it saying CAN instead of CAN'T and second, that you just do it. Last time I started the day after I read about it, and this time I have a one day buffer between the decision and acting on it. If you put it off, you won't ever do it. So just go ahead. If you'd like company, now is the time. Monday is the start date. If we can do it, so can you.**

*Homemade vinaigrette is super easy. Simply mix your favorite oil (Whole30 friendly ones include olive and grapeseed) with an equal amount of apple cider vinegar in a jar, spoon in a little dijon mustard, splash in a bit of apple juice, season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and shake. Store in the refrigerator and shake before each use. YUM.

**It should be noted that during my last Whole30, I went on a trip to Branson, Missouri. If I can maintain a Whole30 eating plan in Branson, it can be maintained anywhere. ANYWHERE. They make deep-fried Oreos there; the town is like one giant state fair.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Let the Pajama Day Festivities Begin

This week, I suddenly lost steam. I'd been plugging away, pushing through, feeling good about getting things done, and then one day, maybe Tuesday, I just lost that motivated feeling. It makes sense, really. It's been two full months of working hard to get out of one place in the Midwest and into another on the West Coast. To move from 850 square feet plus garage and basement into 850 square feet with two standard bedroom closets and a small linen cupboard is not a task for the faint of heart or the overly sentimental. At this point I am not only experiencing moving-related fatigue, but decision fatigue from deciding what goes or stays. It's gotten to the point where not only can I not decide what stays or goes anymore (thank goodness I got it mostly done, enough for the last big donation batch to go out tomorrow), but I can't decide anything else either. I feel positively unmoored when considering my list of house chores and trying to figure out where to start.

So for Friday, February 3, I am declaring a pajama day. There will be cleaning, and there will be laundry, but at least I will not have to decide what to wear. I'll simply wake up already wearing it. Brilliant.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Excuses, Excuses

I haven't been blogging as much lately as I normally like to, but I've got a couple of reasonable excuses.

1. Our internet has been down for two days.


2. I finally decided to get in on the Downton Abbey craze, and suddenly I found myself up until the wee hours of the morning to get in just one more (ahem, onenightitwasfour, ahem) episode, then unable to think straight enough to compose complete sentences the next day. But good news! I'm all caught up now.

I will resume my regular blogging schedule as soon as I sleep off Zinashi's earlier-than-usual wake up and failure to nap today. For now, please enjoy this photo of Zinashi's stuffed dog, Taco, giving you a little blue steel action on public transportation.

taco does a little blue steel
Also pictured: Zinashi and her new-to-us stroller. I have more to say about putting my four-year-old in a stroller on a somewhat regular basis (like: shouldn't we be done with this by now?) (no, not unless we want to suffer), but that will have to wait.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...