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Genice and baby's adventures in Kazakhstan
Saturday, 9 February 2008
2007 year-end letter
Topic: Now that we're home.
December 2007

Dear family and friends,


When I reflect back on 2007, I realize that the year was neatly divided into four primary themes, which also nicely divided the year in quarters.  Hence, I’ve organized my year in review in such a manner.

Q1. Catastrophe & Repair

We ended last year with a trip to Lake Tahoe-- our first pseudo-family vacation.  It was fun and relaxing in an exhausting, stressful kind of way.  Ron and I slept in separate beds for the kids sake; Jiana had a bad cold and spent the first night screaming; but we managed to get three kids dressed, fed, bathroomed and to the hill in under 4 hours.  Since Jiana wasn’t skiing and Jonah was focusing on the easiest part of the bunny hill, Ron and I took turns kidsitting on and off the slopes, running pit stops and tracking down lost skis.  The last time I skied, I was single and childfree, so this required a bit of expectation adjustment.

2006 went out with a bang--literally.  On December 31, an iPod-preoccupied snow boarder rammed into me on the slopes of Northstar, knocking my skis in excruciating directions and causing me to scream as loud as anyone has ever screamed for ski patrol.  I’m not sure what was worst-- that the snowboarder took off and barely apologized or the humiliation of taking my last run of the day on a stretcher.

The emergency room doctor informed me that the ACL in my knee was trashed and would require surgery.  This inaugurated my several month medical odyssey involving a world class orthopedist, several physical therapists, crutches, braces, bandages and an onslaught of medical bills, with the only perk being a handicap parking sticker.  After weeks of injury recovery, I underwent ACL surgery in March and repeated the process all over again. As if it wasn’t challenging enough to be a single working mom with a toddler and a landslide, I needed this.  

I hobbled around on crutches and on my bottom chasing after Jiana while overseeing property and landslide repairs (landslide details are commemorated in last year’s letter).  Ron played Florence Nightingale—driving Jiana to and from daycare, feeding us, running errands, and lifting me into the shower, upstairs and into the car. If not for Ron, I don’t know how I would have made it through this.

Q2. Rest & Relaxation

By April, I was desperate to sit poolside with a fancy cocktail, and I had forgotten the trauma of traveling in a pack.  We took the crew on a road trip down south across the Mexican boarder to Rosarita Beach.  The weather was good, but not great; the food vacilated between good and ok and the Margaritas were right on.  For entertainment, Ron and I kept a secret tally of tantrums (Jonah’s sunburn put him head-to-head with Jiana for 1st place).  The kids were relentless in their demands for a coconut and were thrilled for four minutes until they actually tasted coconut milk.  This was a far departure from my last trip to Baja as a tequila- soaked college student.  



Fortunately, Ron’s nerves weren’t too shattered from our adventures with three kids, as he still wanted to move in with me when we returned.

As I was making progress on my knee and house rehabilitation, our cat Sunkissed developed a funky eye problem.  (Last year he had bone cancer and lost his leg.)  Several visits to two veterinary opthomologists, trials of various treatment regimes and over a thousand dollars later, a pathology report indicated that he had incurable scaumous carcinoma.  On a very sad day in May, I had to put my much loved pussycat son to sleep.  

In June, we ventured off on our 3rd ‘family vacation.”  We spent a few days in New Jersey and Manhattan, visiting with my grad school friends, Eileen and Charlie; and cousins Danny, Jeremy, Anita and Flo.  We happened to arrive in NYC during the Gay Pride parade-- Jonah questioned us about the guys in chaps and other outrageous costumes, but was generally more focused on fighting with Danielle over who got to push Jiana in the stroller.  I got to shop in peace for a whole half hour while everyone took a break at McDonalds.  We eventually joined up with Ron’s parents and sister’s family for a 9-day Caribbean cruise.  Jonah and Jiana enjoyed Kid’s Club, Danielle enjoyed the unlimited Shirley Temples, and Ron and I obsessed about all the weight we were probably gaining. The highlights for me were the leisurely meals with Ron’s family and our way too short, kid encumbered Port stops at San Juan, St. Maartin, St. Thomas and Grand Turk.  


DSC_0626.JPG






Q3. Reconfiguration

The day after returning from the cruise, we signed escrow papers for our new house in Oakland.  See www.4060oakmoreroad.com for pictures.  We had stumbled upon our dream home the weekend before leaving on vacation and had our bid accepted, went through inspections and loan approval before we left.  The house, which had great bones to start, was owned and remodeled by two architects and required virtually no improvements. Having spent the last year with all sorts of remodeling and repair headaches, this was too good to pass up.
 
While madly packing, I was also in the midst of getting my house ready for market.  It was a bit nerve raking to take this leap given that just last year my house had been a FEMA poster child due to the landslide with its picture in the Oakland Tribune.  That combined with the almost daily reports of the softening real estate market and pending mortgage crisis didn’t help us sleep.  At the same time, we had another problem-- The renters at Ron’s Miraposa house decided that they would rather NOT pay rent.  So we were staring down the barrel of three mortgages.  

We closed on the house on July 14, moved and put my house on the market a week later. I received an offer following the second open house and after some tense negotiations settled on a price.  We retook our Miraposa home and are fixing it up as a vacation rental (it’s 45 minutes from Yosemite.)

Our move coincided with the kids summer visit and I experienced parental trial by fire chauffeuring three kids to three different spots—2 camps and a preschool at various times throughout the day.  During this same time, my much-loved blue Passat was rear-ended and totaled by a women talking on her cell phone in an SUV.  Jiana and Jonah were in the car and fortunately not hurt.  But, I ended up with whiplash and a great chiropractor to add to my medical team.

Ron and I powered ahead with unpacking and were out of boxes for the most part in about two weeks.  We settled into domestic life and divvied up responsibilities.  Ron took on all the cooking (which he loves and I hate) and most of the grocery shopping.  I manage the house and money, do all the dishes and am the laundry slave.  (For those of you who don’t have 3+ kids, we are talking 8-10 loads a week of each.)
 
The combination of stress, laundry detergent fumes and my general reluctance to visit the doctor caught up with me.  My unattended flu developed into pneumonia and an emergency room visit turned into a three-night hospital stay.  The silver lining in all this was that my ACL surgery had totally tapped out my insurance deductible for the year so my hospital stay didn’t end up costing me a dime.  I was also stoked about the 5 pounds I had lost due to the intravenous feedings.

I slowed down for about a week after being released from the hospital and capitalized on the excuse not to FAST this Yom Kippur.  Then I proceeded to ignore everyone’s prescriptions that I “take it easy” and dove back into my work.  

Thanks to having one of the few careers that I can do on my back, I’ve managed to run and build my recruiting business through all of this.  I even closed a couple of deals while on the cruise ship and from my hospital bed. While I spent most of last year as a contract recruiter (consultant), once I was injured it wasn’t as workable to go onsite with clients.   Shortly after my surgery, a business acquaintance approached me to join forces with him.  We arranged to share clients and profits according to who owns which piece of the transaction.  It’s working out well as my partner Robert has great relationships with some top tier venture capital firms and their portfolio companies.  And it didn’t take me long for business contacts to start referring clients my way.  Demand for candidates is so hot right now, that I actually get cold calls from VPs of Engineering asking me to recruit for their companies.  If only finding suitable candidates was so easy, I would be on the fast track to retirement.  So amazingly, in spite of being bed bound, hospital bound and insanely busy for much of the year, I’ve still managed to close deals and grow my business.

Now that things have quiet a bit, I’ve recently begun volunteering with World Pulse Media, a Portland-based nonprofit that is developing a website (Pulsewire.net) for global activists focusing HIV/AIDS, human trafficking and water sustainability.   I’ve been working with the President and staff and one of their founding members (a renown AIDS activist) in San Francisco to kick-start fundraising and recruitment of technical leadership in the Silicon Valley.  Our long-term plan is to provide Internet access via cell phones for activists working in the “Global South” (the new PC term for the developing world.  More advanced countries are referred to as the “Global North.”) I couldn’t be more excited about working on developing PulseWire as this the type of initiative that I have always dreamed of being apart of.

Q4. Moving Forward

On a rainy October night, Ron surprised Jiana and me with a decadent gourmet dinner of foie gras, artisan cheeses, olives and fine wine.  He caught me totally off guard when he brought in a mini wedding cake and popped the question.  One might ordinarily catch on sooner than I did if their sweetheart was to bring out all of the stops, but Ron makes gourmet meals so often that I thought it business as usual.  A few minutes after I finished jumping up and down with excitement, I went into high gear on wedding planning. I’ve been ecstatic ever since and often find myself singing “Fiddler on the Roof” songs and the best of Burt Bacharach. I may be driving poor Ron too nuts with “all wedding, all the time.” After all, I never let on that he would be getting Bridezilla with the bargain.

Jiana continues to be as cute as ever and is growing up faster than I can blink.  This morning she asked me to point out North America on a puzzle map—no joke.  The kids (Danielle (now 10), Jonah (7) and Jiana (3.5) get along really great for the most part.  Aside from the typical sibling challenges of toy sharing and such, they generally have fun together.  When I’m not gritting my teeth over clothes on the floor, kids wearing skates in the house and sticky fingers on the furniture, I love the chaos.  Lots of kids = lots of fun and they never cease to crack us up.  The commotion of it all has really brought Ron and me closer as we cling together for a bit of support and sanity.


All and all I’m feeling extremely blessed these days.  I finally have a family that is bigger and better than I ever dreamed.  I am madly in love with my sweet, supportive, gourmet cooking, piano playing fiancé who tolerates my passion for advanced planning, accompanies my Burt Bacharach songs, and keeps me on track with baths and bedtimes.
Add to that three amazing kids, a fat demonstrative orange cat, the ability to walk without crutches, full lung capacity, a house that’s not on FEMA’s agenda, a thriving life and a wedding to plan.  What could be better?

Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful 2008!  We look forward to many guests at our home this year and hope you will be among them.

Love Genice (and Ron, Danielle, Jupiter, Jonah and Jiana)


Our coordinates:
4060 Oakmore Road
Oakland, CA  94602
genice@profluence.net (please do not use any other email for me)
ronsimenauer@hotmail.com
510-530-6687 – home
415-298-0679 – Genice’s cell
415-748-6034 – Ron’s cell







Posted by genicejacobs at 8:11 AM PST
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Sunday, 3 June 2007
with great sadness
Mood:  sad
Topic: Now that we're home.
rom: Genice Jacobs <genice@profluence.net>
Date: June 3, 2007 11:12:48 PM PDT
To: Genice Jacobs <genice@profluence.net>
Subject: with great sadness

Dear family and friends,

With great love and sadness, I announce the passing this past week of my dear kitty cat son Sunkissed AKA "kister", AKA "kisterooni" AKA "sunny" Jacobs.

Sunkissed and I forged a family on Friday, October 13, 1995.  I adopted him from a somewhat eccentric guy in Oakland named Mark who had a passion for cat rescue.  He had somewhere around 15-20 cats in his smoke filled house, including Sunkissed and his seemingly vicious feral birthmother.  Sunkissed was about 8 weeks old when we met and fully infested with flees.  But, he was really cute and clearly needed a good home.  So after a battery of tests and immunizations, we ventured back over the bay bridge and started our life together in San Francisco.

We (I) used to enjoy our trips to the park and walks in Pacific Heights on weekends.  I once took him to have his picture taken on Santa's lap.  I could tell, even as a kitten, that Sunkissed was exceptionally bright.  He had a habit of knocking my computer mouse off the table and steeling the tracking ball.  Eventually, we were forced to move from our apartment on Broderick (lower Pacific Heights), when I inadvertently left a bag of cat litter in the laundry room giving away the secret that I had an "illegal" cat.  With the threat of eviction, I put Sunkissed on a plane to LA to stay with my Aunt Barbara and Uncle Eddie, while I settled us into a new flat.  As good luck would have it, I ended up finding a fabulous place in a really cool neighborhood (Cole Valley) with Golden Gate Bridge views and a bit lower rent.  We found ourselves some more roommates (2 humans, 2 cats) and settled in for a few years.  The Cole Valley place had a fabulous backyard that backed up to other neighbor's yards and Sunkissed enjoyed having a run the land.  I used to call him when I would get home.   He would run as fast as he could across two yards, up and down fences and up two flights of stairs.  I recall Sunkissed learning the facts of life as he once observed two raccoons mating.  He was mesmerized.

After being in the Cole Valley flat for a couple of years, the owner informed us that she would be selling the building.  By this point, rents in San Francisco had skyrocketed and I was staring down the option of paying more for a lot less place or tagging onto someone else's leased apartment.  Since Sunkissed had a tendency for unprovoked attacks (mostly biting me), I decided my safest bet was to try to buy a house rather than risking being kicked out again.  So, that's how we ended up buying a home in Oakland, which turned out to be a fortunate move.   In 1999, at my mother's suggestion of a way to tame Sunkissed's attacks, I a brother for him and that's how Jupiter came to join our family.  Within 48 hours of Jupiter's arrival, Sunkissed stopped attacking me for good.  He and Jupiter were great buddies, grooming each other and wrestling like mad.  I never could tell who was the dominant cat.  Sunkissed was always very good with Jiana... never once attacking her.. even though she taunted him with her screams.   Sunkissed was a ruthless pillow hog, and would always monopolize the lion share of my pillow real estate.  The three of them (Sunkissed, Jupiter and Jiana), used to tag team it taking turns waking me up at all hours.

Over the years, Sunkissed not only saw me through a few moves, he saw me through my grandparents passing, my parent's divorce, multiple career changes, countless relationship false starts, Jiana's arrival, a hideous landslide, knee surgery, and  the entry of Ron, Danielle and Jonah to our lives.

The last year was a tough one for Sunkissed as he first fought bone cancer and lost his leg and later developed an aggressive form of skin cancer in his eye.  While I miss him terribly and am heartbroken by his departure, I am glad that he is out of pain and hopefully frolicking in grasses of heaven.  May he rest in peace.

Love Genice

Posted by genicejacobs at 8:16 AM PDT
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Monday, 25 December 2006
Genice and Jiana's 2006 Year-End Letter
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: Now that we're home.



December 2006

As Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  That pretty much sums up my 2006-- both one of my best and absolutely most challenging years.  

LOVE AND ENTERTAINMENT

My darling daughter continues to bring me unimaginable happiness and ample giggles.   Single motherhood and mothering a toddler in general has proven to be very workable and not especially stressful.  With the exception of multiple middle of the night wake up calls (Jiana, Sunkissed and Jupiter tag team it  :<, nightly wrestling with the toothbrush, a napping strike, and three or so tantrums a day, I pretty much take it all in stride and only resort to primal screams occasionally.  

To make life even sweeter-- just when I least expected it and was getting exasperated waiting-- prince charming finally showed up.  What the “#!&%*$” took him so long!  Ironically, we came very close to crossing paths a few times over the years… we both spent the summers of ’84 and ’85 in Washington, DC… both worked abroad on AIESEC traineeships in ’87 – Ron was in Germany, while I was in Japan… came close to attending graduate school together at Northwestern in ’91. I applied there while Ron was working on his PhD in Economics.  And for two years before we started dating, we lived a few miles apart in Oakland.

After careful scrutiny, I’ve decided that Ron is really the most wonderful of the approximately 250 or so guys I’ve considered over the past 26 years (no one can accuse me of being impulsive in romance).  He’s kind, generous, good looking, funny, flexible, romantic, liberal enough, cultured and whip smart.  To boot he shares my love of traveling, skiing, music and food.  He plays brilliant piano and guitar, speaks German, French and is studying Spanish with me and is a gourmet cook (which is way fabulous as I can live without ever cooking). As an added bonus, the package includes two charming and adorable children.  Danielle age 9 and Jonah, 6 are great fun and are happy to entertain Jiana and teach her the likes of “hide and go seek”. She idolizes them and when not fighting over toys, they crack each other up.  They are sweet and polite towards me and only look perturbed if I get within 4 feet of their father.  I just love all the chaos and commotion when we are all together – I intermittently chuckle and roll my eyes at Ron during the cacophony of Jonah and Danielle torturing each other and yelling Daddy, while Jiana whines for Mama.


In all, the first few months of the year were great.  I got in a groove with the motherhood thing, was enjoying play dates and my re-energized love life. Jiana and I were going on regular stroller hikes, zoo trips, and she was mastering the joy of clothes shopping with mama… Jiana settled into daycare a few days a week and became fully conversant within minutes.  I’m awed and surprised by what she now pipes up with.  In my spare time, I was also finding gratification volunteering to assist Katrina evacuees and doing some freelance writing. I even played reporter/paparazzi one night at the Northern California Emmy Awards.  



HOME FRONT

Then late one rainy night when I was sitting at home (March 25), I heard a very loud thunk.  I first thought it was a downed Eucalyptus tree-- It turned out to be a very significant landslide on our property running between our house and our next-door neighbor’s.  It took down a chunk of street, a parking spot, our fence and the staircase to our utility room.  Fire trucks stopped the gushing water from the broken water line and sandbagged the street.  Then the TV news showed up, which was sobering (nothing like TV reporters interviewing you about a disaster at your house).   In coming days, a metro section cover story about our house in the Oakland Tribune prompted reporters from Infinity Radio and two other television stations to show up at our door.  While the slide was major headache, we were blessed that it didn’t take down the gas line just a few feet away and that our foundation wasn’t affected.  And by a further act of G_D, the City of Oakland engineer waved his wand and faulted a clogged storm drain.  This supporting my claim of City responsibility and effectively saved me from financial ruin.

While the city’s reluctant admission of responsibility was somewhat of a relief, in the months to come I found it impossible to get anything from the City in writing.  I was encouraged to submit a claim, but found my real challenge to be finding a contractor willing to give me a written quote in order to submit my claim.  

Fast-forward a few months.  Our landslide was deemed an official FEMA disaster enabling the City to obtain federal funding for the street repair… after 14 or so meetings with various contractors, I finally found one to repair my hill…  hill work was completed in October with the exception of landscaping and just before Halloween, I received a check for $88.4K from the City to cover repairs.  All along I was promised that the City was also on track to build a large $150K retaining wall at the street before this coming rainy season.  But just a few days before the project was to start (with a contractor in place and steel on order), FEMA funding was put on hold due to a missing environment report.  A major oopsee for the City.  By now after hundreds of calls, I’m on a first name basis, which anyone who might pick up the phone at Public Works or my Councilwoman’s office.  After prompting several neighbors to writing letters of complaint, I’m practicing taking deep breaths for the moment,

In between breaths, I am busily interviewing contractors to rebuild my staircase, fix my deck, carport and dry rot in the shower other in order to ready my house for sale.  I am going on the optimistic assumption that the City will eventually repair my street and I will be able to eventually remove the sandbags and plastic sheeting protecting the hill and put my house on the market.


WORK

In between harassing City of Oakland officials and tracking down contractors, I am also doing the work thing.  Thankfully, hiring in Silicon Valley is back into high gear and business has been very good this year.  In April, I wrapped up my two-year contract recruiting work with Sunflower Systems and found myself back on the job market.  With a recruiter friend’s referral, I quickly landed a gig with a very promising early stage company in Redwood City.  It’s a great well paying gig enabling me to work mostly from home.  Attributor is developing technology to protect against copyright infringements on the Internet.  We just emerged from “stealth-mode” earlier this month with an article in the Wall Street Journal and announcement of Series B funding.  See: www.attributor.com.  When things slowed down at Attributor in September, one of Attributor’s founders introduced me the founders of Fraudwall, another early stage company.  Fraudwall, which is still in “stealth mode”, is developing a solution to the “click-fraud” problem (when people or organized schemes fraudulently click on pay-per-click advertising).  I’m currently busying myself bouncing between the two companies and scrambling to make hires and amass some stock.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

As if raising a toddler along with juggling a demanding career, a new relationship with three kids in toe and a landslide weren’t enough; we had a cancer scare in July.  After a trip to Washington, DC (to visit friends, cousins and meet Ron’s family), I came home to discover a malignant lump on my older cat son, Sunkissed’s leg.  It was an emotional rollercoaster for about 10 days as he was diagnosed and I made the difficult decision to proceed with amputation.  Fortunately after surgery, he recovered well and was back wrestling with Jupiter and damaging my furniture in no time.



And if that wasn’t enough… With Sunkissed on the mend, I followed him to the infirmary in September. Flying down the last two stairs of my deck, I managed to badly sprain my ankle. Serves me right for nicknaming the little guy “hop along”.

Never a dull moment at our house, in November Jiana learned the true meaning of “HOT” when she placed her full palm on the electric stove burner causing first and second degree burns…. A couple of hours of screaming and icing later… a second mortgage worth of cute band aids… her hand blistered, but did not infect or scar.  

What else?  I couldn't figure out where to fit this in so here goes.  Somewhere along the way... stroller and carseat in toe, we also managed visits to Austin to see grad school friends, Scottsdale to tag along on Ron's business trips at a cool resort, and LA to see my mom play the  Domra in a concert of the Los Angeles-St Petersburg Russian Folk Orchestra.

So this brings us to real time-- the last week of the year.  The holidays have been busy and festive.  My mom visited over Thanksgiving.  Ron cooked an amazing dinner, which blew her away.  So much for all her years of suggesting that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.  I got there by simply agreeing to do the dishes.  For Chanukah, we broke latkas with an assortment of friends and enjoyed watching the kids frolic in presents.  We enjoyed a Guatamalan-style Christmas eve with my nanny Claudia’s family and got to practice our Spanish.  The holidays have never been so much fun.  Tomorrow morning we leave for Lake Tahoe  to spend New Years with friends Setsuko and Solomon and their 3 year old twin girls, and connect up with my Nepal treking partner Pam (now career diplomat) and husband Woody from DC and my old college roommate Diane, husband Jon and kids from San Diego. I hope to get to ski one or two days, assuming I can pawn Jiana off on one of them for a few hours (No, I'm not an awful mother, just a flippant one).  

It’s been a wild ride of year.  I feel blessed and grateful to have so much love and joy in our lives, our health, our home, my sanity and our beloved "hop along".

Love, peace and "uppy" for everyone!

Genice, Jiana, Sunkissed and Jupiter



Posted by genicejacobs at 9:33 AM PST
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Tuesday, 7 February 2006
Jiana's first sentence
Tonight, right there in Cody's bookstore on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California, Jiana said her very first full sentence. She ran up to me calling mama, and responded to my "I love you" with her "I love you." There were several witnesses.

Genice


Posted by genicejacobs at 10:40 PM PST
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Friday, 30 December 2005
A year ago today.
A year today I arrived in Almaty to meet my Jiana, who was just 8 months old at the time. I've been reflecting back on that time and all the feelings I didn't express in my public blog. I thought that sharing my real experience now might offer some comfort for those of you who are still waiting to meeting their children or those who are still processing your own experiences.

When I finally arrived in Almaty, I was emotionally and physically spent from the prior weeks of packing, shopping, worrying and prepping for baby. I felt ready for the concept of having a baby. I had it all worked out in my head. Unfortunately, I had no real hands-on experience so I was really scaired to death. The whole idea of taking on a new person that you hadn't met before was really unsettling and I didn't feel at all connected to the baby in my picture. I was really focused on getting ready for baby and didn't spend a whole lot of time even looking at her photo. She wasn't how I pictured her and that was unsettling. I prayed a lot. In my gut and thanks to the encouraging comments of the psychic I commissioned, I felt very confident that my picture baby did not have FAS. But, she didn't smile in any of the 7 photos I had of her and I was a little worried that she wasn't all that sharp.

I went to the orphanage a few hours after arriving. I was spaced out from the lack of sleep on the plane. I was excited to be living this lifelong dream I had of "rescuing a child from and orphanage", but I wished that I wasn't so groggy. My stomach felt sort of quesy as I had a hard time getting my head around the fact that I was sacrificing my perfectly good life to an unknown person. I felt like a mail order bride meeting my husband for the first time. I remember sitting in the parents' waiting room and being asked my age and why I wasn't married yet by a women from the department of health. I told her I hadn't given up hope. They brought the baby in and handed her to me. I was checking her out and remember thinking... she smaller than I imagined her, cute and vulnerable.... I felt very relieved that she didn't look like she had any mental difficencies, even though she still wasn't smiling. A few minutes later, my interpreter asked me if I wanted her. There was no reason for me not to want her, so I said yes. I felt relieved, happy, but not especially attached.

We returned to the baby house three more times and then I brought her back the apartment. I stumbled through those first few days. I didn't really know how to comfort this baby who seemed to be more easily soothed by my travel partners, interpreter and friend Delilah. I was annoyed that my adoption coordinator pushed for early custody and then insisted that I stay confined with the baby in the apartment. I had no intention of spending the bulk of my time in Kazakhstan in the apartment and soon figured out a plan to sneak out with baby.

Day by day, we got to know each other and in about a week her personality started emerge. She started to smile more and more and once she did I started to fall in love with her little by little. My arms were aching as I was gradually building up my mommy muscles. We slept together and she would wake up at all hours of the night and cry for no particular reason. She would calm down if I walked around with her, but started to cry again if I sat down and held her. I was tired, but I remember thinking that I had never been happier. It was weird.

I remember waiting to go in for my court appointment to adopt her and seeing all these exotic Kazakh faces. In my head, I was rehearsing my responses to anticipated questions.... So what bought you to Kazakhstan to adopt a baby? The court room was freezing even with a wool coat and I was thinking.... what the h--l as I am doing here? It felt very surreal.

I had a great time in Kazakhstan. But, it was a constant juggling act to balance my desires to sightsee and shop with baby's needs. I still had a way to go to settle into mothering. Thank goodness I had the forethought to encourage my ski buddy and pediatrician friend, Nanci to join me in Kazakhstan for morale support.

So now, flash forward a year. I am madly in love with my daughter, Jiana. I think she is the cutest, sweetest, smartest person ever. She is hysterical and keeps me in stiches all the time. Our house is like a Broadway musical as we dance around the house singing. Having just returned from a week visiting family, I've been repeatedly told that she is an exceptionally easy baby. My best friend from HS, even went as far as saying she is so well adjusted that she is not normal. I go to bed and get up at the exact same time I did before I had a baby. Thank G-D, she is a easy traveler. From those first few weeks, I would have never predicted this little person could be so perfect for me. She even has naturally curly hair like mine (it must be in the water at our house). So much for my late night sentimental ramblings. For anyone who is interested, I posted a long and hopefully entertaining holiday letter to our travel/post travel blog at genicejacobs.tripod.com/baby/.

I wish you all a wonderful new year, and thank you so very much for all the morale support these past two years. I wouldn't have made it though sane without you.

Love Genice
Jiana's proud mama

Oh, yeah... one last thing. She did the cutest thing this week. She put her teddy bear down, covered it up with her "blankie" and then motioned to me and my mother that we should whisper. I wonder if she really did want to put Teddy to sleep or if this was just a polite attempt to keep us from talking so loud.

Posted by genicejacobs at 12:05 AM PST
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Thursday, 29 December 2005
Happy New Year to you and Happy Anniversary for us
Mood:  happy
DECEMBER 29, 2005

Greetings from Genice

My dear family and friends,

I really didn't know what I was getting myself into when I arrived in Kazakhstan a year ago (December 30, 2004) to adopt Jiana. Truth be told, I was scared to death. It was hard to let go of my independence and all the possibility that goes with leaving your options open. But I took a leap of faith, and G_D granted me an outcome that was oh so better than I ever imagined. Jiana is the most adorable child ever.... For those of you that don't want to hear me brag shamelessly, you should now skip down a paragraph... She is so very bright, clever and curious (read: she is into absolutely everything). She is incredibly cute and charming (read: she has me wrapped). She has a sunny personality and is a very happy child (except when she doesn't get her way), and generally goes with the flow (except when she has another agenda). She is an easy traveler and chip off the old block.... she is an absolute goof ball! We constantly crack each other up. And as fate would have it, she has naturally curly hair just like mine. There must be something in the water at our house!

Jiana has developed a love-hate relationship with her cat brothers (she loves them and they hate her). All kidding aside, they are pretty tolerant, even though she holds on to their tails for dear life whenever she catches up with them. They have yet to lash out at her.

As the year comes to a close, I reflect back on the most pivotal 12 months of my life.

On November 8, 2004, I first set my eyes on a photo of a baby girl named Moldyr Ospanova. I couldn't tell at first if she was meant to be my daughter. So I commissioned a psychic from the renowned Berkeley Psychic Institute to evaluate our respective energies. Being a natural skeptic, I tested the psychic’s skills with questions about my life. Once convinced of her abilities, I was relieved to find out that the baby and I did not have any negative past life karma to work out with each other. The psychic’s insights gave me the courage to travel to Kazakhstan and meet my daughter.

I had a fabulous time touring Almaty, Kazakhstan with my friends Delilah, Nanci, travel partners Rahilla and Abdul (who were adopting an infant boy and girl), and my new little travel buddy, Jiana. My first taste of travel with a baby in toe was capped off with running into Dustin Hoffman and his wife in London on the way home. If you haven’t already plodded your way through my long-winded travel blog, an abbreviated version and an assortment of family photos are posted on the women’s adventure travel website, www.tangodiva.com (under inspiration).

Since I only had book knowledge about babies to start (because none of my friend ever took up my offers to baby-sit), I had a steep learning curve those first few months. I was challenged getting into a groove and I suffered body aches as I gradually build up my upper body mommy muscles. But, overall I've found parenthood to be so much easier than everyone made it out to be. I had been led to believe that motherhood would be an incredibly fulfilling living hell, and that single motherhood would be a daunting challenge. Being a mom is even more satisfying than I expected and not nearly the struggle. Jiana, I am told, is a relatively low-maintenance baby... she's pretty easy going and her fits of fussiness tend to be short-lived. And by surprised, I've found that my nature is quite suited for motherhood. I’ve mastered the art of straddling and diapering a standing, moving toddler; navigating co-feeding (although sometimes baby goop gets all over the place; and juggling getting out the door with baby, cats, bottle, diaper bag and blankie. I am fortunate to have great energy level and so Jiana really doesn't wear me out.... Unfortunately, I can't seem to wear her out either.

Perhaps the biggest life change for me so far is in the realm of food. Before Jiana, I used to go grocery shopping a few times a month. Now I make 3-4 trips a week. I’ve also gone from rarely ever cooking to cooking all the time. Jiana is generally a good eater. I don't even get too upset when she throws the expensive organic vegetables (that I shopped so long and hard for) all over the floor. I also clean constantly and do a lot more laundry than ever before. Surprisingly my house is actually cleaner than it was pre-baby.

I finally resigned myself to the fact that you really can’t take a toddler to any civilized restaurant. Beer and pizza places maybe, but you better be prepared to choke down your food and spend half of the time running after the little diner. Fortunately, Jiana is so cute, that she seems to entertain rather than annoy the other patrons… but it’s not exactly relaxing. On the rare occasion that I am dining without baby, I realize how accustom I’ve gotten to inhaling my food. New Years resolution #1 is to slow down and chew.

Jiana’s great passions in life are dancing, kitty cats, dogs (go go go!!!) and balls. She is very observant and is constantly bringing the presence of balls to my attention. I never realized how pervasive balls are in our society. We have a great time out about in stores, parks, zoo and play yards.

In the early days, I used to take Jiana to the gym with me and she would just hang out in her stroller. Now that she is more mobile (read: she sprints), it’s impossible to work out so I regretfully had to resign my membership. My exercise plan now consists primarily of pushing the stroller up and down the steep hills in my neighborhood, and hiking down the hill to the village on Sundays to go to the farmers market. Several friends have been great about babysitting every so often so I can have some adult time.

Jiana has proven to be rather robust (absolutely no sick child visits to the doctor). Last winter, we both fought off a couple of colds, but we’ve had a clean bill of health ever since. I attribute this to the Bifida complex supplements and ample amounts of kefir I feed her to promote proper flora in the large intestine. And my latest proud invention for health promotion is the cod liver oil strawberry yogurt, zucchini and tofu shake. (I forgot to knock on wood since I first drafted this…. we have since both caught colds again. Or I should say, Jiana caught a cold and then coughed repeatedly in my face.

On the making a living front, I’ve been back on an indefinite recruiting contract for Sunflower Systems, a client I started working with back in Feb 04. Sunflower Systems develops and sells software to track and management business and institutional assets. The company’s clients include the Department of Homeland Security, Social Security Administration, Department of Justice, Stanford University, and Bechtel just to name a few. Intermittently, I’ve also engaged in some executive and contingency search projects through my corporation. I’m currently working about 3 days a week (one day at home and two days at my client. I share a nanny with a family in the neighborhood on the two days I go into the office. In my spare time (yes, I actually have some), I am volunteering to assist local Hurricane Katrina survivors to find employment and reestablish themselves, I am also doing some freelance writing for Tangodiva.com, and am exploring business opportunities in the Green (environmentally conscious) economy.

As you can see, we are having great fun at our house. We love visitors and hope you will come to see us.

From our family to yours, wishing you a peaceful, joyful, crumb-free new year.

Love Genice


Greetings from Jiana

Hiiiiii,

Happy New Year! I’ve been having a great time with mama and my pussycat brothers, Sunkissed and Jupiter, who I fondly refer to as “Gatos”. It’s incredibly exciting to pet and poke them and try to yank on their whiskers. I can't help but shriek at the top of my lungs whenever I see them. I have no clue why, but they run away in terror whenever they see me.

I’ve learned from mama that shopping can be great fun! I really get a kick out of going to he supermarket… I say "hi" and "bye" to everyone we pass in the aisles. Mama sits me in the shopping cart (this is better than the stroller as I get a birds-eye view of what’s going on). I can handle that for about 15 minutes and then I just start incessant wining and commanding “up”. I can count on her relenting after about 5 minutes… I run around the store with abandon and unload products all over the floor until she catches me…. Going clothing shopping with mama is a bit less exciting. You can only imagine what she’s like. But, I’ve figured out that if I run around the store and start pulling on things, she'll run after me and it tends to expedite departure.

Dinnertime is especially entertaining. I sit in the high chair and mama gives me assorted food to nibble on. She tries to spoon-feed me the soft food, but I always wrestle the spoon from her. It is really fun when there is something sloppy on the spoon, because she gets really nervous. When I am done eatting,… I throw the remainder of her expensive organic food on the floor. You should see my mother’s face when I do this. It is totally hysterical. And then, in my most innocent voice, I say "uh oh." I should win an Oscar! Sometimes when she is leaning over to pick up the food shrappenel, I can tell that she is smiling… but I never let on.

My top 10 favorite ways to entertain myself

1. Splashing mama in the bath when she clearly doesn't want to get her hair wet.
2. Pounding on the keys of mama’s laptop computer, which clearly makes her nervous.
3. Playing with the lid to mama’s expensive lipsticks.
4. Putting handfuls of cat food in their water bowl.
5. Grabbing mama’s toothbrush and throwing it on the floor.
6. Turning the TV on and off and on and off and on and off and on and off.
7. Opening mama’s purse and scattering all the contents everywhere.
8. Sticking my hands in and out of whatever mama is drinking.
9. Tearing off the covers of mama’s paperback books.
10. Opening the bathroom cabinets and emptying the contents all over the house.

That about sums-up our daily life. We hope you’ll come by soon to hang out and baby-sit me so mama can have a night out on the town. (I didn’t write that…. She snuck it in!)

Happy New Year.

Love and slobbery kisses.

Jiana

Posted by genicejacobs at 10:45 PM PST
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Friday, 30 September 2005

Now Playing: Reluctant napper
We nap challenged. Jiana basically doesn't want to nap at any consistent time so it's really hard to plan getting any work done. I think she is better with the nanny, but she's off on days I'm in charge. I've given up and now what I do is just plan to run out for any old errant around nap time and then she'll crash in the car. But, I have to leave for something real. If I just get in the car and drive around with the objective of getting her to nap... she knows the difference and refuses to sleep... just to spite me, I think.

On Sundays, we typically walk down to the farmer's market in Montclair village (where we live). Since, we are up in the hills, this trip tends to get somewhat aerobic for me. Since I can rarely make it to the gym anymore, this hour round trip hike actually qualifies as exercise. So we wind our way down to the farmer's market, stopping many times along the way for Jiana to greet many doggy friends. When in doubt, I always ask the breed and yang her from any pup with even a drop of pit bull in the mix. I've noticed that people are a lot more friendly when you are totting a tot. So we down to the village to collect our organic veggies for the week and feast on free samples. Jiana usually crashes on the way back up the hill and I push it to the limit trying to get her home in enough time to actually get some housework, phone calls or newspaper reading in.

Getting her to bed at night is getting a little easier. Our routine is that I lay down with her, wrap her in a pink crocheted blanket and then when the timing is just right, I lift her into her crib.... and then I pray... I pray she will go to sleep right away. I pray that neither Jupiter or Sunkissed will start loudly "meowing" for me and wake her up. So usually within 45 minutes, she falls asleep and I get my time off. She sometimes wakes up mid-night or early morning with nightmares, and I just bring her into bed with me. She usually crashes back out pretty easily and is only woken by a parade a loudly purring and meowing cats demanding immediate attention.

With that I'm signing off for my one hour of solitude.


Posted by genicejacobs at 10:18 PM PDT
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Sunday, 11 September 2005
Another milestone
We crossed another milestone last week. Jiana has now been home with me and team orange for more than half her life. We been family now for 8 months. She is growing and changing way too fast. It seems like every day she is coming up with something new.

So what is she like? Jiana has a very sweet nature. She is a happy, friendly, curious child, and as much of a goofball as I am. She is into everything, including scattering wax paper bags and emptying spices all over the kitchen floor, helping herself to my toiletries, and pummeling her cat brothers with stuffed animals. I try not to stunt her curiousity and just try to let her play with whatever she get's hands on. But, it drives me a nuts when she starts poking at the keys on the laptop and I have to put a stop to that.

Jiana is very determined and in touch with her emotions... and can be quite a drama queen at times when she doesn't get her way. G-D help me when I take something away that I don't want her playing with. And when I she is done eatting and try for that extra bite.... She has a fit-- angrily throwing dinner scrapnel on the floor. She laughs hysterically when I appear the slightest bit frustrated. And then in the most innocent voice, she says "uh oh".

My darling daughter is certain not to need my coaching in assertiveness. She is teaching me a few things.

Posted by genicejacobs at 8:12 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005 10:45 PM PDT
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Thursday, 14 July 2005
Lost toothbrush
Nothing is sacred anymore. My toothbrush is no longer MY toothbrush, but rather it's the family toothbrush. I have to admit that I felt a little violated when she attempted to dip it in the toilet. I luckily caught it in time.

As for the cute things Jiana is doing.... she likes it when I stick my finger in her mouth and then she says, "yummy..yum". She likes to pay with musical toys and then starts dancing to the songs. I can also attest to the fact that she understands and is starting to speak Spanish. While in the bath last night, she put her hand under the faucet and said "agua". Pretty clever for a little deuchkarooni.

Posted by genicejacobs at 11:14 PM PDT
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Tuesday, 5 July 2005
6 months together
Someone famous once said that your children do not belong to you; but rather they are on loan to you from G-D. I always keep that in mind and treasure each moment I get to spend with her. Well most every moment. I look at Jiana and am in sheer amazement at how beautiful she is-- I am so gratitude to get to be her mom. Being blessed with Jiana as a daughter is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I've never felt more content, and have never spent so much time giggling.

These days, she is into everything. She has figured out how to open drawers now and is really into emptying the contents. My biggest challenge is keeping her away from the toothpaste. It's quite a battle. She tasted it once and now she is hooked. I keep trying to explain to her that fluoride is bad for babies teeth, but she is not buying it.

Posted by genicejacobs at 9:09 PM PDT
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