And the Official Zinashi Holiday Card Photo is…

Photo 1!

christmas classic

Thanks to everyone who voted. This was so fun that we’ll probably ask for your help again for other pressing matters that require that a decision be made.

Happy Holidays!

PS–Jarod is totally bummed that no one voted for his photo. He worked so hard to get the perfect smile! Poor Jarod.


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This is My Late Night Confession, Brought to You by That 6pm Cup of Coffee

Our daughter’s first English word was glasses. I wear disposable lenses, and I’d brought a new pair of contacts with me to put in once we reached Ethiopia, but had kept my old pair in for the flight. I figured it would be good to start fresh. And then Zinashi was with us before I remembered to change, and I was worried that she would find it strange that the new mom-lady was suddenly wearing glasses, so I made a big deal of explaining that I was wearing glasses like Ababi was wearing glasses and blah, blah, blah (I’m sure that’s what she heard), suddenly she looked at me and whispered, glasses. Small and sweet and perfect, before she had her full voice and volume. When I put in the contacts later that day, she seemed curious about where my glasses went. I had no idea how to explain contacts in Amharic, so I just pointed to my bag, where I had indeed stowed the glasses.

After that day, I didn’t wear my glasses again. I can sleep in my contacts just fine, so I do, and it’s just much easier that way. I wore that same pair of lenses the whole time we were in Ethiopia (aside from that first day), and when I got home, I didn’t think to take them out right away, even though a month had passed. Pretty soon I developed a strange attachment to them. These were the lenses through which I saw Ethiopia, through which I looked at my daughter as she got comfortable with us, through which I saw our homecoming and so many of Zinashi’s firsts. I know it’s odd, and that these lenses are not my eyes, and that it’s a little bit yucky to leave them in so long, but…I just couldn’t remove them. Tonight I finally cried uncle when they were all dried out and cloudy, and my eyes were starting to itch. I’m wearing my glasses, the same glasses that prompted our daughter’s first English word, and so I guess that’s all right. She’ll see me in them in the morning, before I slip in the fresh contacts I’ve got waiting for me, and be excited.

Now, if I can just bring myself to throw away the old lenses. I’m pretty sure it would be creepy to keep them, wouldn’t it?

I mean, wouldn’t it?

Somebody better say yes, or I’ll end up squirreling them away in a tiny jewel box or something.

(Gross, Mary. GROSS.)


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This is Becoming an Introvert Mom Series or Something, So I Hope You Like It

Also titled: Adoption, Attachment, and the Introvert: Part Three

It turns out that when you lift your child, carry your child, and wrestle your child into mittens from time to time, it does not, in fact, work out all your arm muscles. I know that now that I have not-so-triumphantly returned to working out. Today. And my arms already hurt. What will tomorrow be like, do you think? Will I be able to steer the car to make it to the holiday gathering we are expected to attend? Maybe.

It struck me today as I was tying my workout shoes that I give a lot of thought to my daughter’s readiness for new tasks, but not to mine. I mean, I might toss around “being able to do (fill in the blank)” or “not ready to (fill in the blank again),” but the truth is that I’m not very purposeful about observing my own limits. Thus, I often find myself feeling rushed and overwhelmed. This didn’t occur to me until I realized that the only area of my life in which I’ve learned to observe readiness is when it comes to whatever exercise I happen to be doing, and the only reason I am so observant is that I’ve learned the hard way how to honor my own physical limits. Years of running marathons (specifically this marathon) and a follow-up of yoga gave me a good sense of what my body can handle, how to read the cues and respond accordingly. But somewhere along the way I missed the part about observing what my mind and my emotions and my spirit can handle. I end up expecting a lot of myself and experience a pendulum swing between pushing too hard, too soon, and not pushing at all, unable to settle in the middle.

But I think this takes practice. It took years of practice to know my limits with running, to be able to accept my own body’s capabilities in yoga (this is an extra special challenge for those of us born with limited flexibilty, for while others are folding themselves into origami shapes, we are simply trying to touch our toes and feel good about that), so it follows that the same would be true for the rest of my person. And when I am in relationship with others, be it with my daughter or my husband or extended family and friends, it lends a complexity that takes practice on all our parts before we can honor our limits and our capabilities.

One thing that struck me this week as I found myself yearning to exercise, was that exercise–the very thing that teaches me to honor my “edge” as they put it in yoga–is what also helps me to honor my edge in my relationships. As an introvert, I crave solitude and space to recharge. I need a feeling of being separate sometimes. So while wearing my daughter on long walks gives a physical workout and gives her something she needs, it misses the component of giving me a feeling of where I stop and others begin. It lacks the boundary I need as a person, and in particular as an introvert. So while it’s an excellent bonding tool, and might be a nice supplement to other physical activity, it just won’t cut the mustard as way to help restore my sanity.

The problem up to this point is that I simply wasn’t ready to exercise aside from carrying my daughter, and I knew that, and honored that, but didn’t take into account that my lack of readiness to exercise would mean that I needed to either find my boundaries in other ways or just accept the higher-than-usual level of tension. Either would have worked, but the former would probably have been better. Like so many new parents, I was just trying to make it through to the next task on the next day and remember to put my groceries in the freezer and pay my bills, so I didn’t give much thought to this. Now I know better for next time. Of course I say that in hindsight, with one good workout behind me, and confidence that this really will work with our life as a family. I say that with endorphins rushing through my body, with the re-found sense of where my boundaries lie.

It feels good to have moved forward one more step. It feels easier to be the kind of mother I want to be to my daughter. It feels like there is hope and promise because if I can fit in what I haven’t been able to fit in for months, who knows what I’ll be ready to add in next? Frankly, I’m hoping it will be something along the lines of organizing the basement properly.

A mom can dream, right?

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Making it Work

When it comes right down to it, we do whatever we can to make things work for our families. What I do might not work for you, and vice versa. But we still all like to tell each other what we do and why it’s the best thing ever. Some things that are the best thing ever for others aren’t the best thing ever for us, but sometimes they really work out. I hope that some of the suggestions I’ve received in the comments here will pan out for me. I’d love to be able to run again–or exercise at all, really–and to get more done while my daughter sleeps. I think we’ve begun to hit the mark with getting her to sleep at night, so that second bit becomes more of a reality each night. Our success started with treating the giardia a second time, and now it’s all about accepting and letting go. Our daughter is both slow to adapt (meaning that, exactly like me, she needs time to transition from one activity to another) and sensitive (to light, noise, touch). According to this book, our daughter’s particular personality traits put her in the hardest-to-get-to-sleep category.

Well, duh.

So I’m accepting that, and making allowances, and it’s going well. I’m making a concerted effort to have only one time of day be busy, whether it be morning or afternoon, and have the rest of the day to just chill out. I ordered a SleepMate, as recommended by my friend Rachel, and while it doesn’t block out noises entirely, it dulls everything enough to help Zinashi get to sleep. And finally, I have just accepted that much of the time, Zinashi really needs to be swaddled to get to sleep. She can’t calm herself and drift off without it sometimes. When I mention this to people, most of them are taken aback. Swaddling? For an older toddler? Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Because it works. I do feel like I am putting her in a little toddler strait jacket sometimes, but the truth is that when she needs it, she just needs it, and nothing else will help her. I always give her the opportunity to fall asleep on her own first, because sometimes she can, and I want her to practice that, but if she’s flopping around like a fish with that certain look in her eyes, I know she needs me to still her limbs and hold her close. So that’s what we do.

And it’s working.

For now.


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Help Us Choose Our Holiday Card Photo!

I have a pretty severe case of decision making disorder, and after I viewed the photos of Zinashi, I realized that there was no way I’d be able to choose which photo to put on our card. I briefly considered printing three different ones, but then I’d have to decide which person got which photo on their card, and that’s even worse! But then it hit me: why not ask the people who know best? Yes, that’s right, I’m asking you! Because you clearly have excellent taste and a keen eye for what will wow the recipients of our holiday card. Without further ado, here are your choices:

christmas classic
Photo 1

hold your skirt up and CHEESE
Photo 2

for the holiday card?
Photo 3

Or this photo of Jarod, showing Zinashi how it’s done:

for jarod's personal holiday cards

He does look quite festive in his red work fleece, don’t you think?

Vote right here:

You may also cast a write-in vote by viewing the set and leaving a comment here on the blog, stating the caption of the photo your prefer. The photo must be placed horizontally on the card, so please choose either a horizontal photo or one that can be cropped nicely to fit in our horizontal cards.

Voting will continue through Saturday morning at 10am Central Standard Time. Please vote early and often. No one will know if you vote twice or eleventy kajillion times, but please be responsible with your votes. Thank you and have a happy holiday season.


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This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary: Our Heads Win

Jarod didn’t work until noon today, so I took this as a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone by dressing Zinashi in her holiday best and doing a little photo shoot prior to dropping him off and visiting Old Lady Mary. I figured that this way I wouldn’t have to figure out something impressive for Zinashi two days this week, and I could also have a little help wrangling the little wiggler in an attempt to get a good photo for our holiday cards.* I dressed in my most recent Target clearance purchase, and we got the job done.

Well, except that Old Lady Mary only noticed our heads. She loved Zinashi’s big bow (which is an adult-sized headband from Forever 21, which means that either their headbands run small or our daughter’s head is enormous) and she thought my bangs were cute. She made a point of telling me I had cute hair more than once. But were there comments about our fabulous outfits? No, there were not.

tuesday, december 14, 2010


We should probably stop trying to so hard, but I’m not ready to give up yet. Because who knows? Maybe next week she’ll notice our fabulousness.

*At least we got some good photos of Zinashi for the cards. A little set is here, and tomorrow we’ll be asking you to vote on our three favorites to determine which goes on our card. Come back tomorrow afternoon to see the photos and cast your vote.

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Ababi Mondays: Gratuitous parent photos…

So yeah, I’m becoming that parent. The one that’s also posting pictures of their kid.

Zinash and I got to go out to eat a lot this week. A good time was had by all and a lot of salsa and french fries were consumed by a little Ethiopian girl (salsa and fries at different sittings).

Salsa… Four bowls worth

Throw in the Starbucks. She drank both her own hot chocolate and a good amount of my smoothie (By the way for as much as we mention Starbucks on this blog they should be shooting at least some free drinks our way. Anyone want to make that happen?)

She was captivated by the model trains.

Then downed most of a large fry and two cups of ketchup at Five Guys.

Now that I think about it, maybe we should start throwing in some kind of exercise routine.

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