Thursday, December 30, 2010

Setting My Intentions

The past eighteen months have been both exciting and draining for me, and I feel in retrospect as if my life were steered almost exclusively by making Zinashi's adoption a reality. I think we could easily refer to 2010 as The Year of Zinashi, and call that good. Because it is and was and will be. In 2011, I want to focus on enjoying the family we have created, while at the same time recognizing in the back of my mind that there is someone else for whom to prepare. Some of it is out of my hands; much of it is within my reach, at least in terms of practicalities.

One gift that spending a month in Ethiopia gave me is that I recognize how much I have materially. And while I have still gone out and gotten some clothes that I really didn't need, my lust for stuff has been tempered somewhat. But it's hard in our culture to just cut out something that every woman supposedly loves to do. Still, I'm going to try it. For 2011, I will not be purchasing any new clothes or shoes. I want to recognize that I have not only enough, but more than enough. I want to let go of the feeling that newer is better and that some certain item will make me more attractive/desirable/happy. And I want to save some money so that when we're ready in our hearts for The Year of Evelina*, we'll be ready financially.

Doing this alone will not make a huge financial difference--it's not like I'm going on shopping sprees on a regular basis or something--but I find that when I get something in order in one area of my life, other changes often follow. I'm open to whatever comes up. It's going to be a good year. A very, very good year.

*Yes, I already chosen a name for our next child. I'm ridiculous. I know that already.

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's a Gift...or Maybe a Burden

If Bill O'Reilly is right, and God helps those who help themselves, then God will not be helping me at all.

holiday attire

Because I can't help myself. They really shouldn't make children's shirts large enough to fit grown women.

Merry Christmas, everyone. May your holiday be full of sparkle!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Neglectful

It's true, I have been neglecting this blog. It's because I've found a new blog, and it's taking up more of my time. I'm sorry. Kind of. I think most of you are reading over there anyway, right? RIGHT? But still, I should keep this up, if for no other reason than the fact that Zinashi will someday grow up and go to college, and I'll still need a place for myself on the internet. So let's catch up, shall we?

First of all, I have not provided Tuesdays with Old Lady Mary photos for the past two Tuesdays. Here they are:

tuesday, december 7, 2010
Tuesday, December 7

tuesday, december 14, 2010
Tuesday, December 14

As always, click on the photo for more details on the outfits and OLM's reactions.

And now, the long-awaited update, brought to you by the fact that I'm a delicate little introverted flower. I sent Jarod off to church with Zinashi this morning and stayed home, mostly because the thought of having to get out of my house and see a lot of people made me want to cry. Scratch that--not want to cry, I did cry. Just a little bit, but still. STILL. I have written about figuring out motherhood as in introvert on our adoption blog here, here, and here. One thing I didn't think about until last night, when Zinashi and I went to the first big holiday gathering of the year, was how much more stressful the holidays would be for me, even with (somewhat) fewer gatherings to attend. I think the stress was compounded by Jarod working three late evenings this week, plus the fact that we now have three different gathering to attend this weekend, and I'm flying solo for two of them (last night's being the first). So. Deep breaths. I can do this. People do harder things than this all the time without crying, so I don't need to have a pity party. I'm just going to sit here and drink my Ethiopian coffee for a few minutes and then have a lovely shower and get my house in order. Because of course that bothers me, too. Let's throw another log on my stressed out fire! Hooray!

No, but really, I'm going to be fine. I am fine. I love mothering my daughter, and the rest of it just needs to be figured out and settled into. I'm getting there; I'm just not there yet. But I've got time. I've got lots and lots of time. Two hours alone this morning, in fact. Thank heaven and my longsuffering husband.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday Confessional

Sometimes when I buy chocolate as a gift for someone else, I have to go back and buy more because I eat what I bought. Such is the case today, but hey--I cleaned up pee and did pee laundry and PEE PEE PEE PEE PEE, an entire lake of pee beneath my toddler.

Also, I sometimes make my child a meal made up entirely of colorless foods.

mami, why is this lunch all beige?

While she is peeing on the floor.

Yes, that happened. Halfway through cutting up the banana, a little voice called out, "Mami! Shint-y dee schmetti!" ("Pee is coming," in sort-of-Amharic.) But pee wasn't coming, it had already arrived, down her legs, onto her socks, into her brand new shoes, into a giant puddle beneath her. You'd have thought she was a Great Dane or something.

So we changed everything she was wearing, and I mopped up the giant puddle, and when she was asleep, I started the pee laundry.

That's why I'm eating this Chocolove bar that I bought as a stocking stuffer for someone else. I think I earned it.

I'll get another one tomorrow.

And I'll try not to eat that one, too.

Because WOW these are good.

PS: Chocolove people, I will gladly be your spokesmodel if you'll provide me with a lifetime supply of these delicious chocolate bars.

PPS: And also maybe bigger pants.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Life Right Now: A Vignette

After her nap, my daughter asks to change her clothes, and I say sure. She chooses a shirt because it has pockets, and she loves pockets. I do not check the size, pulling it over her head before I realize it's too small.

How do you say "high water" as it applies to shirts?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

This Tuesday With Old Lady Mary

The following photo illustrates A) how adorable my daughter is every single moment of the day, and B) what your hair will look like if you sleep on it wet and don't move all night, then attack it with a flatiron. Yes, the flatiron won't help me now. It's all over.

tuesday, november 30, 2010

As usual, click on the pic for more details of this Tuesday's outfits and OLM's reactions.

I wore that skirt all day, even though it's a touch uncomfortable while sitting. I guess it kept me from sitting. Also keeping me from sitting: laundry, dishes, general housewifery. Not that I'd ever seriously refer to myself as a housewife. Sure, I'm a wife, and I am the one who takes care of our house, but there's a lot more to what I do than just housework.

For example, I also like to daydream about basement shelving.

Oh, wait. Crap. Now I'm a stereotype.

Seriously, though, I never feel like the word housewife sounds like me. Taking care of our house and our daughter is very much a creative pursuit for me, and I would hardly relegate it to just the humdrum of life. (Not that there's not plenty of humdrum in there, but isn't that true of everyone's life and work?) It's satisfying to me. I like it. And that's good enough, is it not? I'm pretty sure that it is.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Do I Look Thirty-Five to You?

two headbands are better than one

You can say no if you want to.

Yesterday was my birthday, and it was really good, mostly because I am so happy with life right now. I mean, sure, I still did dishes on my birthday, and when I rocked Zinashi to sleep, she tried to lick me to keep herself awake (brilliant move, but I only laugh the first time, little lady), but those things are good, too.

Not that I wouldn't accept a year's worth of maid services in honor of making it halfway to seventy, but I'm just saying: life is good, dishes and all. We're still working out the kinks of day to day life. I never get everything done in a day that I'd like to get done, but I'm making my peace with that, just like I'm making my peace with some other things about life that simply are what they are right now. A month in Ethiopia taught me a few things about what things are really important, and a perfectly clean house and perfectly svelte figure aren't among them. I'd say that loving others well, being generous, and taking the focus off myself and my own preoccupation with the perfect house/figure/life are the main lessons there. It's hard to love others well and be generous if all my time is spent scrutinizing my figure and making sure my house looks like Martha Stewart's staff has dropped by for a few weeks of intense labor, and all my money is spent on products to make myself or my child or my home look better. It is hard to get away from that mindset--it is so very, very American these days--but I'm working on it. I suppose that's what I want for age thirty-five--just to get better at knowing what is worthwhile and what is petty and not worth my time. While I'm getting there, I plan to enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesdays with Old Lady Mary

Finally, my triumphant return to visit Old Lady Mary. And guess what? I am no longer the star of this show. I kind of figured that would happen.

tuesday, november 23, 2010

tuesday, november 23, 2010

Click on each photo for more details of our outfits. Since Zinashi is now going with me each week, it's twice the fun and twice the posts. If you read our adoption blog as well, you'll see the same photos both here and there each week, with the post on the adoption blog being a little more Zinashi-centric (naturally).

In other news, 100% me-related (navel-gazer!), I cleared the breakfast dishes off the table at 2:49pm today. Progress! Aren't you proud?

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Have a Dream

I have been mulling over the idea of pursuing dreams lately, and I find that many approaches to pursuing dreams really bother me. It's not that I don't think people should go after what they would like to do; after all, Jarod and I have dreams of our own that we are moving toward slowly and steadily. What troubles me is that there is not recognition that living our dreams is a luxury. This living the dream stuff is a very Western idea (even though people often head east to pursue better understanding). Were you born poor and in a rural area in a third world nation, this would not be your story. You probably wouldn't have heard of Oprah, and your idea of living your best life might simply be to find the $7 per child necessary to purchase the uniforms they need for school. On your annual income of $160, no less. And did I mention you would likely have at least four children?

Pursuing dreams is fantastic, and I am particularly in favor of those dreams that are of benefit to others, but it is not the be-all end-all in this life. Whether you believe that this life is just one part of what will continue for eternity or that this is it, I think that it can be highly satisfying to live in a way that treats others kindly, even if it means we never reach some of our other dreams. I just don't think your dreams are worth living if to pursue them, you treat others poorly. At the end of each day, when I send the last email and turn out the lamps and crawl into bed next to my daughter, what really matters is whether I treated people well. It matters to the people my life touches (whether they are in my life that day or down some other long chain of events something I've done helps set in motion or keeps in motion), and if it stops mattering to me, well, heaven help me to realize it.

I am dismayed particularly when I read the words of someone I know has behaved supremely unkindly towards another, and they speak of living the dream and making sacrifices and putting themselves in an uncomfortable position in order to chase what they really desire. It sickens me, really. Because here's the thing: I'm not against sacrifice, but if your sacrifice is another human being, then you're doing it wrong.

And so I respond with a dream of my own. I dream of the kind of world where we treat each other with kindness, where it matters more how we treat others than if we had our dream career. I dream of people who understand that the opportunity to be love to someone else is far greater than any other opportunity out there. But then, what do I know? My biggest dreams already came true.

better than the train or the tram

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reality

I've always been a cluttery person, but as an adult I've really enjoyed cleaning everything up once a week and having a space for every item so it's easier to do that. In theory, I should still be able to maintain this, but in practice, I really want to use the forty-five minutes that remain of Zinashi's naptime after I've done the bare necessities of housekeeping (which takes up the first forty-five minutes of her naptime) to catch up on e-mail and zone out in front of some blogs. So instead of managing to get--and keep--things organized, our house looks like this:

matchy-matchy

Yes, that is just a small sample of our space, but I assure you that the rest of the house looks very much the same. Piles of random things in random places, the cat wandering about, and Zinashi and me goofing off instead of getting work done. I do get a few things done while she is awake, but until our boundaries are established a little better, much of the time I'm leaving something half done to figure out if what she's throwing through the cat door, or why she is suddenly so quiet. So this is our reality, and it's not half bad.

Let's just hope it doesn't get worse, right?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Just the Mom

Tonight at 6:34pm, I finally cleared the breakfast dishes off the table. I'd like to say a huge YOU'RE WELCOME both to our cat, Lucy Snowe, who was able to lap up a bit of every drink that didn't get finished, and at her leisure, no less, and also to all of you who now feel like your housekeeping skills are more than adequate. I mean, sheesh, if that girl with just one kid can't clear the breakfast dishes until it's time for dinner, then you are A-OK, am I right?

But what can I say? We needed to go to the zoo, which is free for Kansas City, Missouri, residents for the entire month of November. There's a new polar bear, and if you don't think it's important to see the new polar bear for free, then we need to talk about your priorities. What are you doing, clearing the breakfast dishes from the table in a timely manner or something?

you might say i was a little jealous of these lions

As far as we know, the only zoo that Zinashi had ever visited was the Lion Zoo in Addis, where she went with us and was terrifed of a tiny deer-like animal who was both tethered and behind a fence. I'm pretty sure Zinashi could have squashed him beneath just one foot, but she thought that little deer was going to eat her right up. The lions, however, she didn't mind. So today we saw lions, and only partly because we actually know the Amharic word for lion. Okay, maybe it had a lot to do with that. When you're asking, "Would you like to see the _______?" it's nice if your child understands what she's agreeing to. And so there we were, looking at the lions, who were all sleeping, and I was feeling pretty jealous. I would like to stretch out in the sun and take a nap at noon; don't think I wouldn't. The indulgent sleep is what I miss most about my childless life, which is not saying much since I don't miss a ton of things about the way things were before I became a mother, and one who has no other occupation at that.

I was ready for this change. Which is not to say that there aren't hard parts, but that it is a good change in spite of any challenge that parenthood throws at me. I feel at peace with this new life, with the kind of opportunities in front of me, with the way I am allowed to parent my daughter thanks to the luxury of being able to make it on just one salary, at least for now. That I'd like to branch out a bit and eventually bring in some income again is true, but that I do not wish to return to nannying as my primary source of employment is also true. I am enjoying just being the mom for now. I am enjoying it a whole, whole lot.

mami and zinashi at the zoo

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

No Surprise at All

The last two weeks were a blur of jet lag and settling in and doing entirely too much for having just returned from Africa with a three-year-old who needs to adjust to how very different the US is from where she has lived her whole life. I said yes to a lot of things I should have said no to. I have learned my lesson, which is that the people who want to see our daughter and do things for her and with her are not mind readers, and they also have probably not read multiple books on attachment. So it falls to us as parents to be the gatekeepers. In particular, it falls to me since I am with her more often and had more time to read attachment and adjustment literature. So I'm correcting the mistakes of the past two weeks, and now we are mostly hanging out at home. It's pretty much everything I ever hoped for...you know, now. There's junk mail all over the floor, and my daughter keeps bringing me spongy tub toys and telling me they're dabo (bread), and I dutifully fake eat them and make food enjoyment noises. We listen to music. We dance. She is very good at entertaining herself, and is content to wander the house and get into a little bit of trouble. It surprises me how much she really is just like me. For example:

covered in chocolate

The chocolate on her face makes me very, very happy.

As does simply being her mother.

Life has gotten really good.

her mild surprise face

And that's no surprise at all.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

What to Wear When You're Electing

Oh, man, I love fall. The weather is just right for my taste, and I just love switching out my summer wardrobe for my fall/winter duds. I always forget about some awesome thing I already own, or discover a new combo of old favorite items, and it's like shopping in my own closet every single day*. Well, until February, when we are all officially over the Midwestern winter and I start thinking about pedicures and open-toed shoes. But I do love to layer it up regardless, so this is the best season of all. And this fall I have even more reason to get the styles right, as I am now a style example to a small girl. No Yoga Pant Mom here! Bring on the jackets! Hand me some boots!

election day style

Today Zinashi and I headed out to vote in style. You can't see her style, but trust me when I tell you that her layers were the bee's knees and the cat's pajamas. I really got just what I was hoping for in this girl who jumps for joy when I bring out a new outfit and eats chocolate cake with gusto. What a girl, and what a day. Fall weather, fall outfits, fall awesomeness. I can't wait to get up and dress us both again tomorrow.

*This is amplified by our recent trip to Ethiopia, during which I wore the same three pairs of pants, five shirts, four cardigans, and two pairs of shoes for thirty days. I came home and was all "Would you look at all this VARIETY?!" I felt downright spoiled.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Home

We are back from Ethiopia. If you have not been reading our adoption blog, you are probably pretty out of the loop, so I will sum up.

1. We went to Ethiopia to adopt our adorable daughter!
2. Instead of having the opportunity to visit her while in country, we were told she could stay with us the whole time.
3. We said a resounding YES to that option.
4. Instead of going home for a short time between court and embassy, Jarod said, "HELL NO," and chose to stay. We unwittingly changed his plane ticket to the exact date his visa expired.
5. We spent 30 days in Ethiopia with our daughter.
6. All processes were expedited for us, and we booked plane tickets for Zinashi and me to come home at the same time as Jarod's previously re-scheduled plane ticket.
7. We spent eighteen hours in row 22 on an Ethiopian Air flight from Addis to DC.
8. Magnolia Zinash McBride became a US citizen upon arrival on US soil.
9. All three of us slept through the final flight home to Kansas City.

And here we are, at home, a family. The girl who was going to be called Nola Zinash is being called Zinashi, and we reserve the right to keep it or change it as she sees fit. Her name belongs to her, and she may do with it what she wishes. We are just so happy to have her, this amazing little person, that we don't really care if her name is Mayor McCheese. We just love her. And I love being a mother. LOVE. I love getting up in the morning to make breakfast, I love rocking her to sleep, I love doing her tiny laundry. This is, by far, the best thing we have ever done. Life is awesome.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Do Not Have the Brain Power to Think of a Title

I'm pretty sure I scheduled my hair appointment for tomorrow because I thought that A) the neck massage would be awesome and B) fresh hair for family photos! I am trying to put my long to do list out of my mind and focus on those two benefits. I wish I also had time for a pedicure, but what can you do? Paint 'em at home, I suppose.

I'm not sure what posting will be like once we are in Ethiopia. I am going to make updating our adoption blog my top priority, as I know that friends, families, and very kind strangers will be looking for updates there. So if you don't see me here, hop on over and check in over there. Internet coverage is spotty in Addis, so I'm going to take whatever time and connection I have to make it count for our little lady.

I am excited and nervous about the trip, as is to be expected. While Jarod is back in the US between our court and embassy appointments, I am staying with a friend's aunt, and she does not speak English. I know very little Amharic (tinish! tinish!), and what I do know is more appropriate to our daughter than to a wider audience. This could be an even bigger adventure than I bargained for. But it doesn't matter, really. I am not staying so I can have a luxury vacation; I am there to be near to Nola and to learn more about her home country and culture. If I don't get a shower and have to wear a hat over my greasy white girl hair every single day, so be it. Better stories later, right?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This Tuesday With Old Lady Mary

It was a good day for visiting Old Lady Mary. I got her the biggest balloon bouquet the grocery store had to offer, and she marveled at how good I am at finding things. "I've never even seen that kind there!" she gushed, "I just don't know how you picked that!" Well, it was about five feet in front of me when I walked in the door, that's how. I feel better about leaving her for the next six or eight or however-many weeks; she seems to understand that I will be back, and that eases my mind. I don't like to have her worry that I've just deserted her forever. Because: NOT TRUE. Who else would call me a fashion model? Absolutely no one.

tuesday, september 21, 2010

Click on that pic for the full details of the outfit and her reaction.

...

We are in major countdown mode over here, what with only four days until we ditch you for an Ethiopian beauty, but you wouldn't know it by the way I'm sitting on my rear in front of the computer and baking cookies like it's any other night. I guess it's nice to just be normal for a few minutes before I start racing around like a chicken with it's head removed.

Oh, wait, that's normal for me, too.

Oh, well.

Monday, September 20, 2010

In Case You Are Interested

There's a full tour of our daughter's room right here. It's pretty much the biggest thing I've gotten done today, and hello, I need to be getting things done. We leave in five days. I woke up this morning freaking out a little bit at all the things we need to do, but nothing is that difficult, and I did mark three small things off the list already. It's the tedious things that are getting to me, like doing the laundry and putting away the shower gifts from yesterday.

I also need to write a truckload of thank you notes. I am sure that people would understand if I didn't get them mailed before I exited the country, but I think that if you are grateful for something, you should make sure people know that. Taking the time to write a note of thanks is really the least I can do. And plus, doesn't everyone love getting mail?

I suppose I'll sort the laundry now. (ho hum *sigh*)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hoarders Lite

After our adoption fundraiser last night, we loaded everything into the house and the garage, showered, and turned around and walked out to stay at my parents' overnight (if you can call midnight to 5:20am overnight, that is) so we'd be one hour closer to St. Louis this morning. We'd also gotten some packages in the mail, one of which I opened hurriedly and subsequently scattered around the dining room. None of the loading in was very neat, and we returned this evening, exhausted, and I dropped what I was carrying willy nilly in the living room, which already contained a basket of clean laundry and a basket of detritus from the nursery that needs to be sorted. The coffee table had been a bit of a mess for a long time, and when I finally looked up after scarfing down three leftover fundraiser cupcakes and some cheese and crackers (while checking my e-mail and various blogs, no less), I realized that we'd walked into an episode of a hoarding show, during the part where they're about a third of the way done and start finding the bones of old, dead cats. And the shameful thing is that I have absolutely no will to do anything about it.

I did, however, have the will to open three other packages that arrived in the mail and try out the toddler leg warmers on the (still living, not buried beneath hoarded rubble) cat.

lucy checks nola's bamboo leg warmers for comfort

Priorities: I've got some.

I hope you notice the basket of laundry right next to me that I could be folding if I weren't too busy trying leg warmers on the cat and blogging about it. I can do that tomorrow, right? I've still got two hats with giant flowers, and the cat's all relaxed, so I think we know what must be done.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This Tuesday With Old Lady Mary

Did you notice that I skipped posting last week's photo? Let's say you didn't. Mary didn't comment on the outfit at all, and while I thought it was fine, it was also kind of boring. So we shall move on to today's outfit. Click on through to get the details.

tuesday, september 14, 2010

Next week will be my last Tuesday with OLM before I leave for Ethiopia. In preparation, I brought her six bottles of chocolate syrup and three bottles of thousand island dressing, plus Pringle's that I pretended were on sale. "I got some for $1.50! Were yours more on sale than that?" Mary asked. Affirmative! They were cheaper than that. Mine were $1.47! I didn't mention the exact price, though, because I wanted to lead Mary to believe that I'd gotten a great deal and not spent too much money on her. My ruse was a success.

We are eleven days out from leaving. Our last piece of paper finally arrived today. We would celebrate with champagne (or whatever champagne-like substance we already own, since we are on a budget), but now is not the time for it. This story is about our family member, who is Jarod's cousin's wife. She is a really wonderful person, and will be greatly missed by her husband and children and of course by all of us.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Adoption Soapbox!

It's probably a little soon to be thinking about our second adoption, but I do it all the time anyway. From the very beginning of this process, we intended to adopt twice. We'd like our daughter to have a sibling, and we'd like them both to come from the same place so that they will not feel alone. This is very important to me, which is why reading about how corruption ended all adoptions from Vietnam makes me nervous. You see, some of these same things are happening in Ethiopia now. We'd all be kidding ourselves if we pretended that people don't try to make money off of other people, in the worst ways possible, and it is not a surprise to me, but it is heartbreaking nevertheless. It is heartbreaking that families that could remain intact are not remaining so due to coercion or outright child theft, and it is heartbreaking that children who truly need families are affected by this. I suppose I don't understand why, with so many children who truly need families, it is necessary to try to talk families into giving up the children they could raise.

Then again, I do understand why. Prospective adoptive parents get impatient. Many people want to adopt healthy infants. There is money involved. So if you want to make a fortune, what would you do? You'd keep your wait times for healthy infants short by finding a way to supply healthy infants to families who can pay the fees to bring them home.

Ethiopia is fast becoming the most popular country to adopt from. Now that China has tightened things up and wait times are long, and Vietnam and Guatemala are closed due to corruption, people are switching to Ethiopia. This would be great news if it meant that only children who truly need families are being adopted, but unfortunately, that's just not the case. Frankly, I am shocked to read how many people will only consider healthy infants. And yes, I realize this has a small touch of "pot calls kettle black" to it, as we were requesting a baby, and a baby girl at that. I'd love to defend myself by saying that we were open to special needs, but the truth is that we would have remained on the waiting list for a healthy baby girl if no babies with special needs that we felt prepared to handle were in need of a family before we reached the top of the list.

I am mulling over what this means for us next time around. I am so overjoyed to be bringing home a three-year-old that I could see being open to, or maybe even preferring, the same age range the next time around. At the same time, I sometimes think I'd like to have a baby in our house, and I know that Jarod would, not to mention both sets of grandparents. But if our motives for adopting are truly to be a family to a child who needs one, then I think we may have to reevaluate what we are open to. There are some special needs that I don't quite feel prepared to handle just yet, and likewise Jarod has a couple of needs that he is not comfortable with yet. And I say "yet" because we both are open to our hearts and minds being changed by the time we are ready to adopt a second time.

Last week we went to St. Louis to meet with the Ethiopian director of the transition home where are daughter has been staying since early May. I was able to talk to his wife about our daughter, and we discussed why she looked so sad and scared in the first photos we saw of her. It was confirmed that she was very hungry when she arrived, and while it broke my heart that my child was so hungry that she gained two and a half pounds in her first ten days in their care, it also provided the relief of knowing that she truly needs us. I am so grateful that our agency operates ethically. We received an e-mail early on, which was sent to all the parents, that told us point blank that our agency does not go looking for children, and that they wait as long as it takes for children who truly need families to be referred. This makes me feel very good, and we will most likely use the same agency again, so long as their is an again for us and Ethiopia. My hope is that what happened in Vietnam and Guatemala will not happen on such a large scale in Ethiopia (indeed, I hope that all corruption will cease, but I know that's unlikely), and children there who need families will continue to be given when they need.

I also hope that more families who are adopting will begin to be open to wider age ranges and health issues. There are so many children both here in the US and abroad that are truly in need of a family, but are not in the preferred category of "healthy" and "infant." I suppose that I would even take that a step further and say that I hope that families who did not previously consider adoption as a means of family building would become open and willing. It takes work, yes, and it's markedly different from giving birth (not that I'd know, but so they say), but I think that there are many families who would be wonderful adoptive families who are simply not considering it. I say this not in a judgmental way, but just to say, hey, you might be really good at this.

Really, I think you're pretty awesome. You should consider being awesome in an additional way, so long as it won't make you way awesomer than the rest of us. Think about it.

I'll wait right here for your answer. And to meet your lovely children.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

People Get Ready, Nola is Coming!*

I'm anxious to have everything in Nola Z's room ready, both so I don't have to think about it anymore, and because I have been notified that people are expecting photos, so tonight I removed the cushiony glider from our Amazon registry and ordered something a little sleeker and a lot less expensive. Tomorrow Jarod and his dad will build her bed (based on this, but twin-sized mattress instead of toddler), and that will be that. There is an empty frame in there, but I figure if we don't end up with the print from our registry, we will get something special in Ethiopia. Or I'll get a little crafty with a map of Africa, swiped from the internet, and my decoupage supplies. (Mod Podge and I are like this.) There's nothing wrong with a good collage, am I right?

Beyond that, we are still waiting for those two items I mentioned previously to arrive. I've got tracking information for my passport (Ethiopian visa now included!) that indicates that it will be delivered on Monday, and it seems I'll have to grow as a person (AGAIN, thanks a LOT, USCIS) in order to get the amended I-171H (advance something something orphan let us into the USA, please) that we were supposed to get, um, at least a month ago. Oh, well.

And there are a few various and sundry other things to attend to. I'm about to leave for Walgreen's to get some Earplanes and motion sickness bands, and I've a feeling I'm a little more excited about it than your average traveler might be. I am also doing laundry so that I can pack the rest of my clothes. What's that you say? We don't leave for two weeks? I know; I just really like being prepared. It's fun.

*For those of you with evangelical Christianity (with an emphasis on Christian rock praise music) in your background who get the joke of the title, perhaps you think I should change it? It would make more sense to say, "Nola get ready, people are coming, coming to take you home..." My apologies to those of you who do not get the joke. That song is horrible, yet catchy, and I would have to apologize more if I were to get that song stuck in your head.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Even My Social Worker Tells Me This is True

I've been a little stressed out lately, not to mention tired. Really, really, really tired. There's a lot to think about and plenty still to do. We are waiting on two things to arrive via post/FedEx, one of which is my passport, which makes me feel very nervous. Add in that the world keeps turning and other people keep having lives which include celebrations and needs, and it's just all too much. Even when I am exhausted, I feel like something is vibrating ever so slightly in my body. There's an edge to everything. But when I'm tired (which is all the time), it makes it hard to figure out what to do when, and the edginess makes it hard to indulge in sleeping in or even taking a good nap in order to help my poor brain function properly. I am constantly mindful of my to do list, of how many people have sent e-mails that I haven't returned, that I forgot to get the same something at Target again. I can't seem to settle myself.

Last night we went out for our anniversary, and we were both tired. I had that vibrating feeling that follows me everywhere, and I thought, "Well, it's our anniversary, and that's something to celebrate, so I will have wine. Of the variety that sparkles." So I ordered a glass, and it was good, and do you know what else? Somewhere in there the vibrating feeling disappeared. I was still exhausted, and I still felt a little overwhelmed at what the next two weeks have in store, but there wasn't frantic energy behind it. Last night, I slept better than I have in weeks, maybe months.

Which is all to say: wine is the answer.

Who knew?

Probably everybody but me.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Fall Packing

I am really excited for fall to arrive. I woke up Saturday morning and checked the temperature to see what to wear to work, and was thrilled that I could get away with a three-quarter-length sleeve and actually needed a jacket for the morning hours. I've mentioned before that I love layering, and that I own seventeen cardigans, so I am ready for this. This may sound super silly, but I find myself grateful that we are bringing our daughter home to cooler temperatures because I feel so much cuter in my layers than in what I throw on to combat the swelter of summer, and I want to be a cute mom.

The great thing about Addis Ababa is that the weather is fairly steady, topping out in the seventies during the day and getting down below fifty at night. I think we all know that this is perfect weather for a little cardigan wearing, and I am thrilled. I think every day about what I'll pack, and with seventeen cardigans*, it's a challenge. I can't pack them all. I'm trying to narrow it down to three, which will be mixed and matched over four or five shirts, which will be mixed and matched with two pairs of jeans and one pair of trousers. I also have two dressy outfits planned, which may require a separate cardigan, which I won't count in the three allotted cardigans because, duh, it's not part of my mix-and-match scheme, so it doesn't count! Right? Everyone please agree.

I know it's silly to pack so far ahead, to think so hard about it, as if what I wear in Ethiopia and if I feel cute enough matters at all, but it's something I enjoy, and it's something to do when I am feeling really far away from my little girl, so I'm doing it. In case you are wondering, of course I've got our daughter's bag packed already, with outfits folded neatly together. I hope she likes layers, too.

And hats.

I really hope she likes hats.

(Nineteen days until we blow this popsicle stand, by the way. NINETEEN. DAYS. I am right to be feeling anxious, aren't I?)

*I feel a little ashamed to own so many cardigans; it feels decadent and wasteful. I have no reasonable excuse for it, either. Shameful!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Belief


Image is of this print, which I covet.

We are three weeks and two days out from leaving to meet our daughter. There is a lot to do. We are doing it.

We are really, really doing it.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

Today I bring you the color of summer: YELLOW. Old Lady Mary has decreed it, and thus it must be so. Click on the photo for more details.

tuesday, august 31, 2010

I don't have many Tuesdays left before my trip, and Mary is convinced she'll never see me once I bring my little girl home. I told her that wild horses couldn't keep me away, and she said, "Huh?" (This is the same response I get when she asks who's at her door, and I reply, "The big bad wolf!") So then I just told her that I would still visit her every single week after I got back, and she only kind of believed me. I guess I'll have to prove it to her. In the meantime, I'm looking for someone to deliver groceries to her weekly while I am away. She does best if you can come on the same day and at roughly the same time each week. You do not have to attempt to dress like a fashion model, though you'll get more compliments if you do. It's up to you. I'll leave some funds to pay for what she needs and will reimburse for any additional amount spent. Basically, all it will cost you is time and patience. I know I say a lot of things about her that may not be considered complimentary, but I wouldn't go if I didn't also find her to be a delight. Please do email me if you've got an hour or so each week to give to Mary.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's Different When You're Elderly Like Me

In my life so far, I have traveled a lot, and thus have received a ton of travel vaccinations. I've always done just fine. Sure, the first yellow fever shot left a small lesion, and the old Hep A preventative, gamma globulin, burned going into my hip*, but I was always just fine with shots. As a kid, I don't remember feeling funny at all after shots, and trust me, I would have remembered. I hated shots.**

So four years ago when I went in for a routine physical prior to starting a new nanny job, and the nurse asked if I needed a tetanus booster, I didn't hesitate to say yes, and assumed that it would be no big deal. The next day, I had very little range of motion in my arm, and it hurt to move it at all. It was not the easy procedure I remembered, where the worst part was the stick of the needle.

Still, walking into the travel doctor's office yesterday, I didn't really think much about the possibility of adverse effects of another shot I'd had as a child, the MMR. I mean, come on, that's a sissy shot! It probably won't even hurt! Well. I was wrong. Not only did the liquid (er, gel? It was thick...) sting and then burn as it went in, all too slowly, but later the injection site still hurt, and after I worked out (because of course I worked out--these are just simple vaccinations, right?), I couldn't move my arm enough to put my bag in the backseat of the car whilst sitting in the driver's seat. Around bedtime, I felt strangely cold. I fell into fitful sleep hugging the part of a heating pad that was not draped over the injection site. I woke up some time later so hot I would have joined the Polar Bear Club to get some relief. Instead, I threw the blankets off and finally admitted that I needed some medication. With ibuprofen down the hatch and a few crackers munched silently in the dark living room to soften the medicated punch, I fell asleep again, sort of. I woke up this morning determined to go to work. And there's where I go from kind of stupid to just plain delusional.

You see, my Wednesday job is to watch three children, one of whom is three, the second of whom is two-and-a-half, the third of whom is seventeen months old. I skipped the ibuprofen (you are shaking your head at me, I know), put on something cute but machine washable, and popped into Starbucks on my way to work. "Coffee will do it," I thought, "since the worst of it is over now." I'm not sure what kind of crack I was smoking, but I proceeded to plunge downhill fast as the cries of MINE and STOP IT! and MYTURN! IT'S MYTURN! became more and more shrill. It was a relief to put everyone in their own chair for lunch, but then a punch to the gut to realize that I had two more hours until everyone would be napping. I tried drawing out the meal. I attempted to take them outside for some fun. I only made things worse. Finally, I rifled through the medicine cabinet and swallowed some ibuprofen. The relief took longer than it took to clean up the play area and get everyone into bed. Idiocy strikes again. I was never so happy to be done with my workday.

Never.

I have also never been so happy to be sitting at home in my pajamas, waiting for sleep to come.

But first, I am going to take some ibuprofen because I am a girl who learns from her mistakes. But please remind me of that next time I decide to get a vaccination.

*Oh, come on, medical professionals, we all know that if I have to pull my pants down to get the injection, that is NOT my hip.
**I'm really not into anything painful. I can be a bit more stoic about it now, but as a child I was a Class A Wimp. See also: not playing volleyball because it hurts my delicate forearms and giving up on catching a baseball because it stung my palm through the mitt.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: And Also Last Friday, the Bedbug Edition

First, let's look at the way cute dress I got on clearance at Anthropologie, which Old Lady Mary loved. I was so worried that she'd think it was too short, as she has a thing for modesty, but she L O V E D it. Click on the photo for the whole story.

tuesday, august 24, 2010

And now for another story. One about which I am a little bit ashamed. And also a little bit afraid that someone will figure out who Old Lady Mary is and report her for something that is not her fault.

A few months ago, Mary heard a report on the news about bedbugs and immediately decided she had them. Mary is quite paranoid, and thus reacts this way to a lot of stories, so when she announced to me that she had bedbugs, I sort of...brushed her off. "Oh, Mary," I said, "I'm sure you just have some bug bites from all that walking you do. Do you want me to bring you something for the itching?" Being paranoid about medication, she declined, and insisted that she was sure she had bedbugs. I inwardly rolled my eyes. Because, great, one more thing she'd lie awake at night worrying about.

And she did.

Lie awake.

At night.

Worrying.

And also scratching bites and finding bugs.

Which she did not tell me about, exactly. She said that she was getting more bug bites, and she said that she thought she had bedbugs, but at that time she did not tell me that she'd found a bug on her person in the middle of the night. So I brushed her off again. Because I am a terrible person.

Shortly after that, Nicole, who was Old Lady Mary's first friend of all us girls, came into town from Chicago and made her usual visit to Mary. Mary complained about the bugs to Nicole, and Nicole (bless her courageous heart), actually inspected the couch that Mary sleeps (and, um...how do I say this...leaks a bit on). And do you know what she found?

BEDBUGS.

REALLY.

Mary was not just paranoid and exaggerating. There was an infestation. So we discussed what to do, and Nicole did some online research, and eventually Carrie and I coordinated our schedules so that we could show up and do what needed to be done, which was basically to cover the couch in a plastic tarp and seal it up. It seemed simple enough. I brought a giant trash bag to throw the old couch accoutrements and Mary's pillow into, gloves so we wouldn't have to touch any bedbugs directly, and a big roll of brown packing tape. When we moved the couch, we discovered a small pile of detritus underneath, and as I was taping and taping and taping the plastic tarp to make sure that there was no place any remaining bedbugs could exit, Carrie was picking up handfuls of that detritus and noticing that she was also picking up (get ready to cringe) HANDFULS OF LIVE BEDBUGS. I'm surprised Carrie didn't vomit on the spot. Instead, after picking up most of the trash, she made Mary get out some of her rubbing alcohol (which she uses for all sorts of things because she is very afraid of germs), and she began sprinkling it on the carpet where the couch had been. There were bedbugs everywhere, and the alcohol wasn't really doing anything. Carrie looked at me and said, "You know, I've been meaning to get a new vacuum. I think I am going to bring my vacuum up, vac up all these bedbugs, and then throw it away." I nodded and asked if she was sure. She nodded back. And so that's what happened. We covered the couch in plastic. We vacuumed up all the bedbugs we could see. We put the small rug that had been in front of Mary's couch into the garbage bag. We carried it all downstairs and put it in the dumpster.

And then I lint-rolled my entire self in the parking lot. People were watching. I didn't care. I was not bringing home any of those bastards with me.

Since then, Mary has had no more bedbug bites. She is sleeping again. Her bites are healing. And on the door of someone down the hall from her, there is a sign that reads, "BEWARE: This apartment may have bedbugs." For that, I am grateful. Not that someone else has an infestation, but that someone who is not paranoid is willing to report to the building managers that there are bedbugs in the building. Mary has lived there for eight years and only began getting bitten when they did renovation a couple of years ago; we are sure they were already somewhere in the building, possibly on the floor they moved her to when they renovated the apartment that used to be hers. But Mary is an odd duck, and though she is paranoid and, as she says, "germ-conscious," her housekeeping isn't fantastic. We are very afraid that the stigma attached to bedbugs will work against Mary, and they will evict her. So we have done all of this in secret, even though it's something the managers and social worker at this subsidized apartment building (for elderly and disabled folks) should take care of. We hope that someone else (who is friendly and not paranoid and bathes regularly) reporting the problem will allow it to be less stigmatized so we can get Mary the bedbug removal services she has deserved all along.

If you or someone you know suspects they may have a bedbug infestation, here is a link to a resource we found to be very helpful. I hope you never need that information.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

Is it silly that posting this week's photo was weighing on my mind so much that I couldn't sleep without getting it done? I also couldn't sleep without doing about twelve other things, thus the late (er, early?) hour. But this is it. The last task. Then it's just me and my cat-warmed pillow.*

I've worn this outfit before, but with different earrings. I'm running out of easy summer ensembles, and the brain space allotted to choosing outfits is terribly small these days. So here it is, the same dress and same shoes and same bracelet, with different earrings. Way to change it up, right? Can you even see those earrings? Click through to read details and to view it larger if you really want to get a gander at the cheapo danglies on my ears.

tuesday, august 17, 2010

I do love that dress.

I also love sleeping. And so, goodnight.

*I was noticing that our cats smell pretty good lately, and finally figured out that the aroma is similar to that of my conditioner. I don't know why I didn't figure that out before, as every single night I have to move a cat off the pillow to lie down, and usually wake up the next morning with a different cat curled up around my head. The remaining cat jumps to my shoulders after I shower to give my hair a little grooming, and so she, too, retains the smell of Say Yes to Carrots conditioner.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wish

Today I bought a plain sterling ring to wear as my wedding ring when I am in Ethiopia. It's not about being worried about losing it because it's expensive, not that I don't want to avoid being a target of petty thieves, but more about not wanting to be a rich American showoff. I also bought a pair of jeans so that I have two pairs that are not skinny jeans. I really wanted wide leg jeans, but these boot cuts were just $6.24, and I can't justify spending more based on personal preference. To be honest, we really can't afford to spend more anyway. Not now. Not for awhile. And so I have a wish list of things that I pretend someone will want to get me for Christmas or my birthday or just as a happy surprise (you know, because that happens so often). It helps me let go. You can laugh about that if you want. Here's what's on it:



This Starburst Necklace from Superhero Designs. Of all the things I want to carry to Ethiopia, joy is at the top of the list. This would be a meaningful reminder.



This skirt from Boden. I usually order something in the fall, when they are offering 20% off and free shipping, plus I can use the credits I've gotten from giving them names and addresses of friends and loved ones. It's usually a skirt. Often, it's one of their fun skirts. So it's no surprise that I'm drawn to this one..



And finally, this light from Etsy. I was pretending that I wanted it for the nursery, but really I want it for the living room.

So there you have it. The wish list. It's possible, as with all wishes, that some will be fulfilled, but I'm not holding my breath. After all, my dearest wish has nothing to do with things I can purchase on the internet. I think you can guess what it is. It's the wish for which we give up all other wishes. And it's worth it.

She's worth it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

It's hot, isn't it? I would rather not be wearing clothes, but this isn't the Garden of Eden or a beach on the Riviera, so I just put on something that's as light as possible. I'm pretty sure Old Lady Mary thinks I'm a hussy. A fashionable hussy, but still. Click on the photo to read the details.

tuesday, august 10, 2010

Also, do you like how my bangs are saying, "Triiiiimmmmmm meeeeeeee"? Today they are saying, "I am in shock because you had me trimmed, and now I will look like straw."

I guess with bangs, you just can't win.

I am suffering in the heat. Not in a way that is anything other than a spoiled brat child of air conditioning way, but I am uncomfortable. My mom told me that she's reading a book about how bad air conditioning is and how we can learn to deal with the heat, and I said that I'd like to deal with it by moving somewhere that doesn't have ridiculous summers. Why did my ancestors settle here, anyway? We are a northern European people, and our genes dictate that we do not do well in heat. My ancestors weren't very bright. But I guess the land was cheap, and they were all farmers, so fine. You win, ancestors. Also, I'm moving. Take that, stubborn Germans. I'm going to go somewhere that doesn't have good sauerkraut, and you'll all turn in your graves.

For now, though, since we do own a home here and we do need to get some things done (like bringing home a daughter) before we entertain serious thoughts of elsewhere, I'm hanging out in the house in front of the air conditioning register and not wearing pants.* We try to do the kind thing and keep the thermostat higher than most Americans would consider reasonable, so this is all I can do to feel like I won't fall over dead. I think we can all agree that pants are unnecessary, and falling over dead wouldn't do either.

Of course it was on this day that our car was in the shop for repair, and I had a hair appointment across town. I figured it would be no big deal to ride my bike to the bus stop. After all, it's only a mile away. I failed to take into account that the route from here to there is uphill, and I also failed to notice that my bike tires were a bit low. Do you know how to get a more intense workout on your bicycle? Ride it with the tires a little low. Unfortunately, I wasn't looking for a more intense workout. Or any kind of workout. I was looking to make it to the bus stop without having coffee first. It was uncomfortable. I lived. And then I was early for my hair appointment, so I got a coffee and life was good again.

The end.

Except not really, because I still had to get home. You'll be happy to know that I did not pass out before I wheeled my bicycle up the driveway. You'll also be happy to know that I showered, quickly, in water that was cold and made me feel like I could live again, if only until I stepped into the outdoor oven one more time. It's a miracle.

*I'm wearing a skirt, if you must know. Stop imagining me in my underwear. You don't know what kind I wear anyway, so you're probably imagining it all wrong.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Better

Today we found out that there are some people who disapprove of our decision to fundraise for our adoption. I'm going to admit that this hurt my feelings deeply, that it made me angry, that I didn't know what to do or say. It's not like our motives are 100% pure--that's hard to come by as a human being--but we hope that our motives are at least good and inching toward noble. Frankly, we're going to have a beautiful daughter in our lives as a result of this endeavor, so it's not like we are giving up everything to get nothing in return. We're not giving up everything, period. But we are giving up a lot. And we feel like it's kind of rude to catalog everything, because sometimes it sounds a little self-righteous and snooty. But we're giving things up. We've been giving things up. We are taking on the lion's share of the expense, and we are asking for help because we believe that asking for help is better than just saying, "Well, we can't afford this all by ourselves, so we will just forget about it." How can we forget that so many children are parentless? How can we forget that some parents simply cannot provide for their children and want a better life for them? How can we forget the face of a girl who needs a family, who we are welcoming to be a member of ours?

We are asking for help because we know that others believe like we do that children deserve families, but not everyone is equipped to adopt themselves. We are asking for help because there are 147 million orphans in the world, and to remove that title from as many children as possible is the best thing we can do in a horrible situation. We are asking because we know that there are people who believe it is good and right to be part of the solution to the problem, and to have those people as part of our daughter's story is an honor and a privilege.

In a perfect world, all families would be able to provide for their children, no parents would die, and the word orphan would be relegated to fiction. But our world isn't perfect. And adoption isn't a perfect solution, but it's one we hope will at least make things better. Not perfect, not all right all of the time, but better. Better than what life is like now for so many children, better for parents who cannot raise their children and still want a hopeful future for them, better for us because we are so lucky to be bringing home our daughter.

If you would like to partner with us to bring our daughter home, fundraising info is here. If you wouldn't, hey, we won't talk about you behind your back.

Mostly.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Autumn Weather, Please Come Early

It turns out that I own seventeen cardigans. Various weights, mind you, and sleeve lengths, and colors, but...seventeen. I also own a number of jackets. I am not revealing that number. Partly because I'm not sure what it is. But it's not seventeen; at least I don't think so. If it is, I have no excuses. I just love fall and winter and spring dressing. And I hate summer dressing. I hate it for numerous reasons, but mostly because I love to layer things up, and in summer the single layer I put on isn't comfortable. So BAH to summer. BAH I say.

And now a question: Anyone else out there tend to weigh more in the summer than in the winter? Or is it just me? The reason I know that I have so many cardigans is that I was going through my clothes, trying to thin out a few more items, and tried on some trousers that were more than a little snug. I was about to toss them into the giveaway pile when I recalled that every summer when I've done a wardrobe evaluation, I've run across trousers and skirts that are snug. And then by fall, they're usually fine. Do any of you experience this phenomenon? Or are you all on your bikini diets and your autumn wardrobe would practically fall right off of you?

For me, summer tends to have as many schedule disruptions as the holiday season, plus there's the added bonus of feeling so hot and wilted that I don't want to move my limbs. We're still in the thick of the heat, but I've decided to give at least two weeks of normal schedule and normal workouts before I declare any clothing too snug and send it off to Goodwill. I do love to donate, but keeping what I've got sure beats buying new. And besides, there's not much room in the budget for buying new. I have a feeling that even if they don't fit in the autumn, I won't replace them. I'll just wear the limited number of items I have and try not to spill as much stuff on my lap.

Or better yet, maybe I'll just refashion some of those cardigans.

Friday, August 06, 2010

I Have Some Things to Say

1. So apparently there's some brouhaha over Michelle Obama's trip to Spain, and my opinion is that the reason people are outraged is because she looks so fabulous. I'm not joking. Past first ladies have traveled, and likely their travels have cost as much or more and been charged to the American people, but they all looked sort of matronly. No one questioned cost because it looked so plain and boring, giving the impression of cheap, or at least modest, expenditures. But Michelle Obama is an African American Grace Kelly, and people don't know how to handle that. They assume that if she looks so good, this all must be incredibly expensive. And no matter that she is paying for it herself! We are all too jealous, and someone must complain. Loudly. On Fox News. (Ugh.)

2. I am sometimes in denial of how tired I am, and at these times I lie down for a quick nap and wake up three hours later. That happened today. Good-bye, entire morning! Or rather, hello, sleep that clearly I needed!

3. It took no less than five trips to Walgreen's to finally get the 8x10 enlargement of a new photo of Nola, and she is now staring out at us as we move about the house. Five trips: worth it! Going back to Walgreen's for photo printing: not a chance!

4. I visited Old Lady Mary this week on Wednesday, and there was no sense taking a photo of the outfit I donned before work with three toddlers, which was spilled on before I even left the house. Before I headed over, I spoke to Mary by phone to get her grocery list, and she asked, "How do you look so beautiful in heat like this?" "Mary," I replied, "you won't be asking that after you see the get-up I'm sporting today. It's nothing special." And what do you know, she had nothing to say about what I was wearing. She did, however, pat me soundly on the back for figuring out which cinnamon rolls she wanted me to get. But look, if you say "Best Choice in the red can," I'm going to buy you Best Choice in the red can, and there's no mystery to it. Still, it's nice of her to be so grateful for such small things.

5. There's good news from Ethiopia, and I can't really say much more about it. So if you know me in person, ask me in person. I will spill the beans.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pipe Down, Debbie Downer

I'm feeling a little Judgey McJudgerson today. How is that I run across all the "I wanted to send my kid back" confessional blog posts in one day? I'm all for honesty and helping others be prepared, but would it kill you to be a little more vague until there's time and distance and perspective to be had? Would it be so awful to approach people you trust in person to get the support you need when things get really, really hard? The internet is public, and boundaries are appropriate. Also, would it be the worst thing ever for you to take the view from the beginning that these are your kids forever, and there's simply no discussion of "sending them back" or the like? I mean, really. Even if you know you would never do it, mentioning it in a forum where people who know your kids or someday your actual kids themselves could find it seems a bit risky.

I booked our plane tickets today. I think I might be a little bit more sensitive than usual because of this. We are heading into this, and we are aware of the challenges that may present themselves, and it's really no mystery to us that it might be hard. That parts of it will be hard. She's three years old and speaks another language, and we have never met each other before. Her home is very different from our home. Do we really think it's going to be instant easy times? No, we do not. What we do think is that love is an action, that we are committed to being a family, that we will figure out what to do as difficulties arise. That's what families do.

Isn't it?

Well, anyway, we still have our sunshine and roses over here. I am pleased as punch that our daughter will come home during cooler months, as mix-n-match ensembles involving layers are my favorite. I've been laying out outfits on the nursery floor, and oh, man, my clearance shopping has landed us a lot of options. Most of the things I gravitate towards are in similar color schemes--we've got a lot of turquoise, fuschia, pink, purple, and brown--so there are a ton of things from various sources that go together beautifully. We may have to work hard at some things, but having our daughter look cute will not be one of them.

This is going to be FUN!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

I'm just shy of posting this when it's still Tuesday. I had grand plans for getting it done earlier, but then I went into a fit of history of the English language nerdery, and all hope was lost. So here's the photo, a bit late. It was hot today, so I did my best to dress for the heat but still keep it pretty for OLM. Click on the photo if you want some more details about OLM's reaction.

tuesday, july 27, 2010

The pace of summer is as fast as ever, maybe faster, but still I have managed to start working out five days a week again. There's nothing wrong with doing less, but I feel better when I'm getting more vigorous movement into my life on a regular basis. It's funny to me how quickly I forget the practicalities of working out, like how much more water I need to drink and how I'm a lot hungrier, especially when I first get back into the swing of things. If I'm at your house and half your leftover pizza goes missing, it's fair to blame me. It's also fair to complain when I tell you I want a couple of bites of whatever it is you're having and then proceed to eat more than half of it. I'm really sorry about this; once I get used to this level of hunger, I promise I'll bring my own snacks. And also I will share.

That is, if you're quick enough to grab some of what I'm having before I've devoured it all.

Good luck with that.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's Kind of Nice, Actually

I think a lot about body image. Now that I'm fixing to bring home a daughter, I think about it even more than I did before. I notice when I am using a Jillian Michaels video to work out, how much she mentions "problem" areas and what kind of body we all want, and it bothers me. The workouts themselves are wonderful, and I would be hard pressed to find something that would work me out as well that I could do in the small space afforded by my living room (and after I move a piece of furniture, at that). But the message that there is a certain body type that all women are aspiring to attain, well, I could do without that. I suppose it's my own fault for buying videos called "No More Trouble Zones" and "Banish Fat Boost Metabolism," but still. I challenge you to give me a good cardio video and a good strength training video without any of that kind of sentiment contained. As far as I know, such a thing does not exist, and it's probably because the focus continues to be on getting a perfect body as opposed to pursuing good health.

Something in the way I see myself has changed as of late, and I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but it's what makes all the "perfect" body talk so unbearable. I'm certainly not out of the woods, but the way I feel about my body--and beyond that about how I measure what makes my body "good"--has become kinder and gentler. For most of the summer, I've been unable to work out as often as I prefer, and yet I'm still somehow within the same eight pound range I've stayed within for the past twelve years. Could it be that this is simply the size I am when I am listening to what my body wants and needs and can do? I think so. Realizing that and accepting it as something that simply is, as opposed to something I should try desperately to change, has been freeing. I like my body just the way it is.

Weird.

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

It looks like I skipped a week of visiting Old Lady Mary, but I assure you that I did not; I just am not fond of the photo, and I didn't go on a Tuesday anyway. I don't recall her saying anything much about the outfit, so I'm going to pretend that outfit did not exist. This outfit, however, did exist, and could have used the addition of a bracelet, but I was running late, so...no bracelet. And you can't see the earrings, which really take the ensemble up a notch. Oh, well. Click on the photo if you'd like to know more.

tuesday, july 20, 2010

It is 69 days until the court date assigned to us in Ethiopia. Yesterday, when it was 70 days, it seemed like a long time, but for some reason, turning the corner into the sixties makes it seem less we have to wait how long? and more crap, we have a lot to get done. If you haven't been following our adoption blog, let me sum up our current situation. We've asked our agency if I will be able to see Magnolia if I stay in Ethiopia between court date and embassy date (four to six or eight weeks later), and they've, in effect, said, "Um, we think that's a terrible idea, but we'll discuss it." So it's up in the air whether or not I'll get to have Magnolia with me if I stay, or if I'll get to see her at all. What is not up in the air is the fact that I plan to stay regardless. So stay tuned to find out whether I'll be hanging with my daughter or volunteering and crying a lot! In the end, the decision to stay came down to my realization that it would be just as difficult to fly back to the US to wait as it would be to stay there and wait. When I think about both options, the one I feel best about is staying. So there you have it.

In the meantime, I'm getting really excited about renting a dumpster. Good grief, I'm old.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Decluttering

I've been working on physical decluttering of our home for nearly three years now, but it's just been a vicious cycle of me getting something I think we need or could use, then getting rid of something else, then getting something new (or reclaimed), then getting rid of stuff...and on and on it goes. We've been bringing in a lot of stuff for our daughter, mostly stuff we do need, and I've reached the point where I really need a ton of other stuff to leave. A good amount of things we own can be donated, some can be sold, and others need to be returned to their rightful owners (*cough*cough*futon in the garage*cough*). Even more stuff simply needs to be recycled or tossed into the garbage. My goal is to donate first, recycle second, send to landfill as a last resort. We will fill a small dumpster with things that cannot be salvaged or recycled for anyone else's benefit, and that's just a sad fact of our lives as consumers. We are trying to be better about this. I feel like we are both making strides towards consuming less and eliminating more. Still, at the end of the day, I always wish I could have gotten more crap out of our house.

But the problem isn't just the crap stuff; I've come to realize that it's also the crap commitments and obligations. And, honestly, the crap schedule that I've managed to arrange for myself. I read this, and it really hit home. All the things that I do in my life are valuable, but I can't sustain all those commitments and obligations and still manage our household. My life as it stands is incredibly cluttered with obligations I don't need to keep, to the detriment of the ones I do need to keep. As we move closer to the day we bring home our daughter, I am intent on creating the kind of space in our home life that will allow us to keep a regular schedule and a peaceful space.

For me, this means a change in the way I work. The truth is that I need to work less and I need to work more predictable hours. I am failing at a lot of the things at which I'd like to succeed, and I know without a doubt this is due to my lack of predictable schedule. The major changes will not come until we leave for Ethiopia and eventually bring home our daughter, but they are coming. While I can stupidly subject both myself and my husband to the type of scheduling that leaves me little energy or brain space for basic things like making dinner and cleaning up the house, I cannot, or rather will not be that kind of mother for my daughter. Frankly, I shouldn't be that kind of wife for my husband, nor should I be that kind of person for my own self.

So I'll be decluttering everything.

You know, once I have the time.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Planning Ahead

Somewhere on the iPhone that's somewhere in this house, I have a photo of what I wore for Old Lady Mary this week. I'd get up and find it, but I am enjoying this chair, thanks. More specifically, I am enjoying the brief moment of feeling justified in sitting in this chair. Most of the time I cannot escape the thought of so much to do, must do something! and even if I'm tired, I just can't sit still. So for ten more minutes, I am just sitting here. Then I'm getting a two-and-a-half-year-old up from her nap, giving her a snack, and carting her off to Home Depot. Oh, the joy of life! Home Depot!

But here's what's important in all this: we got a court date. It's September 29. Not as soon as we'd hoped, but quite soon after the Ethiopian courts reopen post rainy season, so we'll take it. Between now and then, there's a lot of work to do. I figured that if we got an August court date and I somehow ended up staying in country until the embassy date, we'd just figure out where to go from there in terms of projects that really should be complete before we bring home our daughter. But now we've got a little over two months, and heaven help me if we do not get all the crap out of the basement in particular and the house in general before our flight departs September 25.

This may seem silly to some of you, worrying about junk in the basement (and garage and various closets), but the path our life is taking will likely lead somewhere basementless in the not too distant future, and I think we can all agree that it will be far easier to haul things out to a dumpster when it's just me as opposed to me plus a three-year-old who speaks very limited English. And it needs to be done besides. We've needed to do it ever since we got married and I moved my full household's worth of crap in with Jarod's full household's worth of crap, and especially since we remodeled the kitchen and much of the bathroom. When you can't park your car in your garage and there are items in your basement you haven't touched for the entire length of your marriage, it's just time.

And besides, it will keep my mind and hands busy while I wait for our daughter, which is a good thing on many counts, including the needing-my-pants-to-still-fit count. Baby weight isn't just for pregnant women, it turns out.

And with that, I'll rise from this chair and do something useful.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

The week away was wonderful, albeit busy. It was good to see the kids one last time before I'll have a child of my own in tow, and fantastic as well to scamper around New York City unhindered by anyone except the groups of tourists that like to stop suddenly in the middle of the sidewalk when they are confused. The Picasso exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was even better than I'd hoped it would be, and the lunch that followed in the cafeteria made the visit there the highlight of my NYC wanderings.

I find it difficult to explain just what it meant to me to be able to make one last trip to see these kids all on my own. When your job is to love someone, it goes beyond the paid working term, you know? And for these kids in particular, who had too many nannies that were wonderful but didn't keep in touch, I've felt strongly that it's important that I maintain a relationship regardless of what else is going on in life. I plan to visit again next year with my daughter along, but it won't be so easy to just hang out. It was good to be there for the week.

Now it's back to normal life. The house is a bit of a wreck, and I know I need to pay bills and do laundry. I head back to work tomorrow morning and have an evening job as well. Nothing like a work double header to get back into the swing of things, right?

For now, I'm going to put on my pajamas and watch something fun on the internet. Today's 5:30am wakeup call necessitates an early bedtime (or else I'll just slump over the desk here and start drooling on the keyboard), and I've been missing my very own pillow. I hope your week has been a good one. Thanks for standing by.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I Can Only Keep My Eyes Open for About Twelve More Seconds

I am at the point of exhaustion that makes one feel a little ill, but I just can't go to bed without getting a few more things done. I leave tomorrow for a week away, and for once I'm not taking a laptop. I'll have Jarod's old iPhone (which I refer to as my iNotPhone since it does not have phone service) for checking email and reading a few blogs, but I'm trying to keep it simple for the week. I've got a some quiet projects to work on when there's idle time, but for the most part I'll be hanging out with a couple of kids who are growing up way too fast. I'll also be spending two days in New York City, during which I'll be busy being a museum nerd or wandering the city in search of snacks and snacks and more snacks.

The timing for this trip is excellent. Since we found out about our daughter, I've found it hard to rest because there's just so! much! to! do! This trip will whisk me away from all of the projects on my list aside from making a Mama bunny and Daddy bunny to match this Nola bunny; I've got the supplies to finish that project packed in my suitcase.

lucy and nola's bunny

Because I am heading out on a Tuesday and coming back on a Tuesday, I visited Old Lady Mary today. She's now all stocked up on paper towels and peanut butter. I can be away and not worry that she will run out of something she needs. I'll send her a post card from New York, and she will be thrilled.

She loved today's outfit; you can click on the photo for details.

monday, july 5, 2010

I have nothing left to add; my brain is fried, and it's time for what can only be called a nap before my alarm rings.

Have a wonderful week, internet folks. I'll think of you while I'm drinking iced coffee by the shore and stuffing doughnuts into my mouth in NYC. If you're the artsy type, I'll also think of you while I'm nerding it up in museums. It will be a good week for sure.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Work, School, Conundrums

Because we are bringing home a three-year-old as a baby, it turns out we have to think about school a lot sooner. I'd never thought I'd home school, but now I'm keeping that option open. Mostly this has to do with the fact that I'm a hippie weirdo, and I prefer Waldorf education, but there's no Waldorf school in Kansas City that I know of. If we move to either location that is desirable and likely, the only obstacle will be a financial one, which still means I need to keep that home schooling option open. So much of what the Waldorf method espouses--play as the child's "work," structure and routine, an atmosphere of warmth, teaching by example, etc.--match closely with my own child-rearing philosophies. It's the kind of education I want for our children.

I find myself feeling as if I'm on the defensive lately when it comes to my preferences for how we raise our girl. I'm not a fan of television for children, I don't go for toys that require batteries (particularly of the sound-and-light-producing variety), and I'm not into academically structured preschool. I am into reading and storytelling, imaginative play, and getting familiar with other children through play groups and story times. I realize that I am a hippie weirdo, but come on, do you really expect anything else from someone who makes her own deodorant? I know that what I would like to do with our daughter is outside the realm of the American norm, particularly in the case of television. But I have experience with these things (which I gained by practicing on others' children, of course), and there was never such peace in the house as what descended after I banned television while the children were in my care. I dig that kind of thing. I love it when kids go outside and play or drag puzzles into the hallway and work on them, when we have conversations and sing along to songs and have impromptu dance parties to good music. And by saying this, I am not saying that if you allow your children to watch television, that you are wrong or horrible or anything of the sort, or that you don't like those things that I like in addition to a little TV time for the youngsters; I'm just saying that I choose to do things a little differently. You can feel free to roll your eyes at me; I won't see you from here.

I'm also mulling over the idea of being at home with Nola most of the time, and I feel a little pressure in that area as well, as if I need to explain exactly why I'd want to do that. I just want to. That's it. I have done well with the work set before me, but more and more I find that I am happiest tending to my own household and home. My Saturdays are magic, since I can bring my work home with me, so to speak, and let her play while I work in the house. She often follows me from room to room, and there is always plenty to occupy both of us. I will continue with that work for certain, but the rest...I suppose I would like to heed the advice given to every currently-working mother awaiting the arrival of her child and just wait and see what both Nola and I are able to handle. Honestly, I hope to stay home more. But we'll see.

About all of it.

We'll see.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

I am getting a little thick around the middle. I wish I could say that I don't care, but I do care. I miss working out most days of the week, and I miss how I feel both about my body (strong! capable!) and in general (more energy! endorphin goodness!) when I am able to work out more. So I say a big PFFFFT!!! to my schedule as of late and look forward to the day when I will not have two boxes containing an IKEA dresser in part of my workout space. (THURSDAY, so help me. I am painting the nursery THURSDAY and those boxes are getting moved in there on THURSDAY and all will be right in the dining room. THURSDAY. NO LATER.) (I am all-capping it for my own benefit so I won't get off schedule.) I also see my schedule opening up soon, just in time for me to head out of town. To a place where they feed me lots of good food. But where there is also a StairMaster in the basement. (I love the StairMaster. Really. Stop looking at me like that.)

In the meantime, I will try to do better at concealing my thicker middle.

tuesday, june 29, 2010

You know, like by buying Spanx. Heaven forbid I set down this bag of chocolate chips.

(Click on the pic for Old Lady Mary's reaction to the outfit.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Am That Woman

Life has been moving at breakneck speed ever since we saw the face of our daughter. If it had just been the news of her, that would have been one thing, but I think life likes to throw a lot of things at me at one time and go, "What are you going to do now?" The answer is that I'm going to stay up until nearly 2am four nights in a row and then need a really long nap. I haven't gotten the really long nap yet, but I did get a medium long nap, and that will have to do.

I remember when I was on Christian mission trips in high school, we had separate classes for guys and girls that covered issues specific to each gender. Every single trip I went on, the lesson book was the same, so there was always the night we would discuss The Proverbs 31 Woman, and how she is the Best Woman Ever. There was a clever updated version that talked about how the Proverbs 31 Woman clipped coupons and did laundry in her washing machine and, I don't know, made Jell-O molds or something. I always sort of resented the Proverbs 31 Woman until I realized that a great many women become her without noticing. It's not about all those specifics or cutesy analogies. It's just about doing what you have to do to take care of your family and community. So that's what I've been doing. And that feels good.

I've also been pretending that The Proverbs 31 Woman would leave her dishes in the sink, "soaking," for five days straight. Please do not feel free to tell me otherwise.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

First, I must tell you something important: the cats have broken our contract. You know, the one that states that they may only vomit on Jarod's side of the bed? BROKEN. LIKE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. Gross. So this will be short because guess who gets to go change the sheets and scrub a cat vomit spot off the feather bed*? NOT JAROD, THAT'S WHO. And not any of those cats who refuse to do their chores, either.

Ahem.

So.

I wore an outfit. Mary didn't even notice. I am, understandably, just heartbroken. Click on the photo to read my entire sob story.

tuesday, june 22, 2010

Next week I'm wearing sweats.

*This is decidedly better than cleaning up the vomited up lunch of a 2 1/2 year old who stuffed her mouth too full and spewed her entire lunch right back onto her plate. And shirt. And skirt. And chair she was sitting in. And floor. Which is to say that this happened to me recently, and I lived, so I can't complain much about dried out cat puke. I have a feeling that there's a lot of kid puke in my future anyway, so it's best to be fully broken in before little lady gets here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

GREEDY!

Once we saw our daughter's face, I knew that we would have to change a lot of things thanks to her being three instead of, you know, an infant. Her room will be a bit different (we're making her a bed!) (and by "we," I mean Jarod and his dad are making her a bed!), and some of the clothes I bought in advance won't fit (though not many since she is a tiny bit of a girl), and a LOT of the things on our Amazon baby registry are different. Out with the bottles, diapers, and accompanying accessories, in with the...well...toys. I know. I feel a little grabby putting so many toys on the registry, but the truth is that where most kids would have three years worth of birthdays and Christmases and other assorted holidays to amass age appropriate toys, she's had no time to do that. So we're starting from scratch. Well, unless you count all my stuffed animals and Jarod's legos that we have in the basement, which...we kind of do. By which I mean that once I'd gone through my bin of childhood toys, I went back to the registry and took the corduroy aardvark and Deglingos stuffed pig off the list.

I've tried to choose things that are developmentally appropriate and that will help us bond as a family. I've also put serious thought into what will help her catch up in some areas where it is likely she'll need a little extra help. There are no toys that require batteries, nothing that will do the playing and imagining for her with the press of a button. Also, because we are hippies, the plastic is limited to bath toys and an inflatable Rody horse, which, in addition to being incredibly cute, will also promote gross motor development. (Do you like how I justified our plastic item there? I'm pretty good at that.) I feel like I've done a good job, but at the same time, filling a list with toys and books just seems greedy.

I'm really hoping that, especially in the case of the play kitchen, someone will disagree with me and think it's perfectly fine. If, however, no one sees why a three-year-old might benefit from playing with various wooden foods that velcro together and can be cut apart with a fake knife, that's all right. After all, we really do need the sheets and shampoo.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: Yes, It's Saturday Edition

I did see OLM on Tuesday. I did have my husband take a photo before I left. And then I did spend my morning trying to play it cool while I waited for a very important call. And then once I got that very important call, I was so busy spreading the news and getting all things little girl in order that I simply didn't manage to update here. I do hope you will forgive me. After all, I had good reason. And besides, isn't this cute dress worth waiting for? OLM certainly thinks so, and she'll point and speak very loudly to you if you disagree.

tuesday, june 15, 2010

And look at those shoes! They aren't so great for long walks, but oh, are they cute or what?

Still, nothing is so cute as the face I saw a week ago, that I look at every day now on my computer desktop or straight out of the envelope in my purse. We have a daughter. I couldn't be happier.