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


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:


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.