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Genice and baby's adventures in Kazakhstan
Friday, 20 May 2005
Home 3 months
It seems like we've been home a lot longer than 3 months... life has been so full and so much fun lately.

Jiana is such an amazing baby. She is totally low maintenance and so easy going. I often get asked if I'm getting any sleep, and I'm always thrilled to report that I go to bed and get up at the exact same time as I did before I had a baby. She is really no worse than having a cat. Jiana is right on par with Sunkissed and Jupiter, who both have the annoying habit of waking me up around 6am to be fed or let out. Jiana will sometimes cry out at night when having a nightmare, but she is easily soothed and falls back to sleep in my bed. And she is generally a more quieter sleeper than the orange members of our household who both purr way too loudly.

I am constantly being stopped on the street and complimented for my very darling baby. And here I was all concerned that I wasn't going to get a cute one. Jiana is a really happy and social baby. She's very good around new friends and family. She really enjoys all the attention she attracts. She is great to party with. She only gets a little cranky with me when we are alone and I try to ignore her in order to get dressed, make food, use the computer or straighten the house. In fact, the only fault I can find in her is that she really doesn't like to play by herself.

Posted by genicejacobs at 10:30 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 5 July 2005 8:56 PM PDT
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Saturday, 7 May 2005
Jiana takes her first steps
Mood:  happy
My baby girl is walking... I'm told by veteran moms that the real trouble beings now. Jiana took her first steps last Saturday at a gathering in memory of my friend Lisa Klett and has been doing just great standing on her own. She seems to get a really kick out of taking her first couple of steps and then falling into me. Such tremendous joy on her face.

Now that she's a bit faster on her knees and can leverage a stand, she is really going head on with Team Orange. Yesterday, she reached over to Jupiter and yanked on his whiskers, which he really didn't seem to appreciate. The boyz generally tolerate her advances, but everyone has their limits. Although, Jupiter seems to like her crib and has taken to sleeping in it, when she's not there. Sunkissed prefers the bed on the other side of the room.

Today I finally got around to hostessing Jiana's first birthday party. We had 14 adults and 4 little ones. It was an all day open house and as can be expected I bought way too much food. We had a lot of fun.

Having been home for just over 3 months and having yet to receive an inappropriate comment from a stranger, I was beginning to think that everyone naturally thought Jiana was homegrown.

So there we were in the supermarket last week, just minding our own business singing, dancing and generally making fools of ourselves in the checkout line, and when I least expect it I am approached by a 10-something toe-haired blond. This little girl just walks up to me and says, "how come her hair is black and yours is light." I stop, calmly look at her, smile and say, "I don't know... it just worked out that way." She looks at me, thinks a second and retorts back. "You look 19!" I say, "WOW... that's great! I'm actually 41." "Do you really think I look too young to be a mom." And then, she shakes her head yes and walks back to play with her sister. The cashier and everyone else in earshot was just cracking up.

So much for dealing with the dreaded question, and how a little busy buddy made my night.

Next Tuesday, I will be leaving for LA for Jiana's conversion to Judaism. It should be interesting... I'm a bit nervous about the trip down. Decided to risk it as flying down and transporting a car seat seemed to be a huge hassel. Tomorrow will be my first official mother's day... I think Jiana plans to let me sleep in late and then treat me to lunch and a massage. Hey, a girl has got a right to dream.

Cheers to Jiana.
Genice


Posted by genicejacobs at 9:47 PM PDT
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Monday, 18 April 2005
Jiana's almost one
Mood:  celebratory

It's been a while since I last posted as it's been a whirl wind since we got home. The first couple months were an adjustment for me, but now we are in a pretty good groove. I'm even up to showering every day now.

Jiana is absolutely amazing and gets cuter and cuter by the day. I don't even think it's possible and then the next day I wake up and she's even more adorable than the day before. Jiana is very close to walking now, and cruises around the house holding herself up on furniture and able bodies. She's also very vocal and has a diverse baby talk vocabulary. Her most decernable words are "mama", "baby', "cat??", "that" and "uh oh". "uh ho" is by far the cutest as she purses her lips on the "oh" part.

Jupiter and Sunkissed are still amazingly tolerant. Although, I think she may be getting to the end of her "honeymoon" period. Jupiter has found her crib to be especially cozy. Jiana really gets a kick out of her brothers and they are constantly bringing her to a giggle.

Little by little, we are getting out for various road trips and social activities. It's been really fun. last Saturday, I took her to the beach for the first time.

As for the practical side, Jiana is still eatting and sleeping very well. Like her mom, she loves food and is not a picky eater. She also sleeps well, both in her crib and occassionally with me.

As for me. I'm back to work. I've been doing a combination of contingency search, executive search and contract recruiting. It's been working out ok. Although, I'm sort of ready for another career change and am flirting with a few different ideas. So, what else is new. My other challenge is that I find I can manage to get to the gym with baby, or juggle taking care of baby and working. I haven't yet figured out how to combine baby, working and making it to the gym. So this is my next hurdle.

What's next... Wednesday is Jiana's first birthday and we are planning on going to the zoo for her first time. This should be a lot of fun.

Well gotta run now and catch some zzzzs.

Cheers to the cutest (and I'm not bias) baby in the world.

Love Jiana's mom

Posted by genicejacobs at 11:10 PM PDT
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Friday, 11 March 2005
Now that we are home 6 1/2 weeks
Welcome to our blog (internet slang for web log). If you haven't ever visited one, it's in reverse chronological order. Our blog was started a few weeks prior to my traveling to Kazakhstan to meet and bring home my daughter Jiana. I posted several entries from Kazakhstan and there are also guest posts from my friends Delilah and Nanci who both spent time with me there.

Pictures of Jiana and our adventures in Kazakhstan can be viewed on the following websites:

http://genicejacobs.tripod.com/babypics/

http://www.delilahlah.us (Delilah's site)

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/ntucker123/my_photos (Nanci's site)

We have now been home for around 6 1/2 weeks and we are just beginning to settle into a schedule. I've taken time off from working to bond with Jiana and we are having so much fun getting to know each other. I love being a mom. All and all, Jiana has proved to be a really easy going baby. She eats well, sleeps a good 10 hour stretch and is generally pretty cheery. she is smart, curious, outgoing, assertive and funny as can be. And I happen to think she is the most gorgeous child on earth.

The going to bed thing was bit a dicey for a couple of weeks as I tried to transition Jiana from sleeping with mom to sleeping in her own room, and just getting her to bed period. My darling daughter is a fireball of energy and like her mom doesn't want to miss any of the fun. Last week, I went over to my travel partners (the Amani's) house and saw that they had babyswings to put their babes to bed. I high tailed it to Babies R Us and bought one. It's been a great success in getting Jiana to bed at a respectable hour.

Jiana is making great strides on all developmental fronts.... but slobbering is her specialty. She is very talkative and seems to have has a lot to say. But, mostly blaa, blaa, blaa, gaa and kit ca. She is quite fond of her kitty cat brothers, and spends a good deal of her day pursuing them.

Jiana has a pretty varied diet at this point, including formula, organic baby food, as well as tofu, pasta, bananas, avocados, and cherrios. My little gastronome is also showing increasing interest in everything I seek to put in mouth. So more and more, I'm having to learn how share. Fortunately, I think I can still justify not feeding her Indian food.

She seems to have become very attached to me... in fact she never wants me to stray more than a few inches at any given time. Her favorite pastimes include dancing, mouthing all manner of things, fondling cat food, sticking her hands in my mouth and yanking on my curls (ouch).

Just this week, she seems to have officially entered the getting into everything stage. She has proven her ability to clear off the coffee table and climb halfway up the stairs (yes, I am aware that this is an extreme falling hazard and I have gates installed)... now I really have my work cut out for me.

Since arriving in the US, Jiana has gained US citizenship, obtained health insurance and a social security card and is soon to open a college savings fund. Now all she needs is a job.

Well that's about all for now. We'd love to have some more visitors. So please call us at 510-530-6687 if you want to come over.

Love Genice

Posted by genicejacobs at 10:02 PM PST
Updated: Saturday, 12 March 2005 7:27 AM PST
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Wednesday, 2 February 2005
Being a mom versus thinking about being a mom
Now that I've unpacked, recovered from jet lag and have caught up on my sleep, I reflect on all that has happened over the past 6 weeks, and how reality has shaken out as opposed to how I imagined life as a mom would be.

Many have asked me how it feels to be a mom. In short: It is all good.

Being back in familiar surroundings, my life doesn't really feel all THAT different. Sure I walk around the house wiping up spit and picking up toys all over the place, do 10xs as much laundry, take 3xs as long to have breakfast and I shower a lot less often than I used to. But, for the most part, having Jiana around has been pretty easy to adjust to.

Jiana is a wonderful little trooper and has been a great travel companion, bunk mate and teacher. While a bit manic at times, she is quite resilient and generally cooperative. She likes for me to hold her a lot and has a conniption fit if I attempt to put her down for more than 10 seconds... but she's very cheery, bright, a good eater, a sound sleeper and doesn't make a big deal regarding the status of her diaper. Most of the time, she is positively delightful... can be very silly at times and really entertains me, Sunkissed, Jupiter and herself. We spend a lot of time looking into each others eyes and just giggling hysterically.

I feel very good about my decision to adopt from Kazakhstan as opposed to Russia. I believe my daughter received very good care in the Baby House, and as a result seems to be very well adjusted. Of course, I worried myself crazy about alcoholism in Kazakhstan and the possibility of prenatal exposures. But, it turns out that virtually all of the children adopted internationally from Kazakhstan are free of these issues. And while I read a bit about these risks in Kazakhstan, I didn't seem much evidence of alcohol or drug abuse on the streets... it was nonexistent as compared to what is evident on the streets of San Francisco. I only saw one incidence of alcohol abuse the whole time I was there. There was one guy who obviously had a hangover, but it was New Year's Day so he had a reasonable excuse.

I was also concerned about safety and the possibility of getting mugged while carrying large amounts of cash in Almaty. But, Almaty turned out to be a very comfortable, clean and safe city. I certainly felt much safer in Kazakhstan than I do in many neighborhoods in Oakland. OK, so that doesn't say much. Let's just say that I felt as safe in Almaty as I would in one of the best neighborhoods in San Francisco.

I spent a great deal of time strategizing as to what I was going to feed the baby, how I would put her to sleep and how we would bond. And in the end, those ideals were not be as perfectly executed as I had envisioned. But, Jiana appears to be very resilient, and it turns out that she doesn't melt if I let her cry for 15 seconds or if she I inadvertently feed her something out of sequence.

As for my trip to Kazakhstan, there were a few disappointments in that I didn't get to see as much of the countryside as I would have liked. Didn't get to see must of traditional Kaz culture, camp out in a Yurt, eat out in enough restaurants... didn't make it over to the Chabad House to meet Rabbi Liftshitz, and couldn't get in touch with the staff of the Feminist League in Almaty even though there offices were just a few blocks from where I was staying. But, I guess that all goes with the territory of being a mom. I just getting used to that.

At this time, I also wanted to thank everyone who has been so supportive of me during this whole adoption adventure. This includes my family, dear friends-- so many veteran mom's have offered such good advice, but also strangers on the street, new friends I've met through online adoption groups, such as Single Kaz Moms, Almaty Adoption and California Family Kazakhstan Adoption. I'm so grateful to all those people who took time to consul me and write me back to address my assorted concerns. I've been completely blown away by the love and openness of my loved ones... and the generosity and candor of strangers. I couldn't have made it this far without everyone's support and encouragement. And once more I wanted to thank everyone for the fabulous baby gifts and hand-me-downs. They are all so special to us.

Jiana's mom
Who is delighted to have been blessed with such an amazing daughter

Posted by genicejacobs at 10:10 PM PST
Updated: Sunday, 20 February 2005 11:56 AM PST
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Sunday, 30 January 2005
photos of our adventures
I've posted some photos at:

http://genicejacobs.tripod.com/babypics/

stayed tuned... more photos to be posted in the coming week.

Posted by genicejacobs at 10:20 AM PST
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Saturday, 29 January 2005
Cat Dancer
Topic: Now that we're home.
It's taken me a bit longer than expected to get back on track now that I'm back home. I've was so zonked out this week, that I am just now getting around to returning phone calls and catching up with loved ones, and totally unlike me I even managed to sleep through dinner plans on two nights. But, overall everything is going quite well. Jiana seems to be enjoying her new digs and her great windfall of toys, and most importantly she is getting along quite smashingly with her cat brothers, Sunkissed and Jupiter.

Anyone who has spent any time with me and Jupiter (my younger orange cat son) knows that he is absolutely addicted to his Cat Dancer, a wire toy with cardboard pieces attached, which is meant to be flung about for him to chase. Jupiter just loves the thing and he constantly walks around the house with it in his mouth... drops it at my feet (or the feet of someone else who looks sympathetic) and then cries and hits you with his paw until you play with him. It's can be hard to get any work done with him around. And my first few days home have been even more demanding as I need to feed and play with Jiana while I am also attending to cat demands.

Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles.... Jiana seems to not only be hitting it off with Team Orange, but is even beginning to master the thrashing of the Cat Dancer. She has quickly taken to grabbing the cardboard pieces and dragging it or bouncing it about, and Jupiter seems to be liking her style and there is some back and forth action happening. This is huge! To have Jupiter and Jiana entertained at the same time is really no small blessing. Jiana is further delighted to see Jupiter jump 3 feet in the air when I thrash it about with him. Sunkissed has also been gentle with baby, but is a bit more cautious.

On another domestic front, grandma Elinor (formerly just my mom) has completely reorganized my entire kitchen, bathrooms and living room... we're talking every closet, cabinet, refrigerator and cupboard has been cleaned, sorted, alphabetized and strategically reoriented. It's been amazing to watch her in action, but a bit tiring to participate in. Somehow, I did not inherit my mother's organization gene... must be recessive.

Well, that's about it for now. I'm still working on getting all our trip pictures together for Internet access. In the meantime, we welcome you to come over, if feasible, and view them on our laptop.

Hope to see you soon.

Genice, Jiana, Sunkissed and Jupiter

Posted by genicejacobs at 8:08 AM PST
Updated: Sunday, 30 January 2005 11:04 AM PST
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Wednesday, 26 January 2005
Nanci's Guest Post - Travel Letter #5
To See photos from kazakhstan go to:

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/ntucker123/my_photos

With Almaty thousands of miles away, its alot harder to do this, but i should relay a few more things before i forget the details.

if you have a globe, you really should look for almaty, kazakhstan. its actually on the opposite side of the planet from SF, CA. (you could dig a hole to kazakhstan...) The city is near the china and kygystan borders. The culture of the city is influenced largely by the Kazakhs, uzbeks, kyrgyks, tajiks, tatars, turkmens, turkey, mongolia, and ofcourse in the last 200 years by russia. From what i can see, China, which is really close, has no cultural influence.

the kazakhs are a nomadic, horseback peoples, herding animals. there is little written history. they did not live by borders. they lived in transportable yurts (yorta) and ate mostly meats. their history was maintained mainly by music (in the oral folk tradition). originally the kazakh written word was put down using arabic characters, but after the russian influence, they switched in 1940 to the cyrillic alphabet (with 33 letters) and added 9 extra letters to represent sounds that are used in kazakh, but are not found in russian. kazakh is a turkish language. the borders of kazakhstan (and other central asian countries) were defined artificially by stalin around 1924. To this day, there is a diaspora of kazakhs living outside the borders who are trying to get permission to return. Kazakhstan was a soviet republic until the breakup of the soviet union in 1991.

Almaty was a city created by the russians as a frontier outpost in 1854, north of the silk road. In 1991 Almaty was the site of a meeting at which the USSR was officially pronounced dead. Almaty is located in the southeast corner, near to china and was the capital. Astana, in the north,central area is now the capital - the change was made recently by the president for economic and political reasons.

Kazakhstan is populated primarly by kazakhs in the villages, with the russian populations concentrated in the cities (almaty and astana). Hence Kazakh (the national language) is spoken mostly in the villages, and Russian is spoken mostly in the city. The land is rich and varied including the steppes (what is that?), desert, and mountains.

The economy is driven by natural resources mostly oil, as well as coal, iron, natural gas, wheat, and tobacco (hence our friend who works for philip morris). Almaty is the wealthiest city in central asia and is full of foreign investors from both the east and the west.

Having lived there for two weeks, it really feels like what it is, a combination of old traditions (as a mixture of central asian cultures), soviet union's leftover influences, european sophistication, all nestled next to the mountains and very FAR away from america.

I noticed early on that there is NO WIND in Almaty, and the temperature never seemed to change more than 1 or 2 degrees. Its amazing but without wind, 32 degrees never feels cold. But as a result, the air quality is terrible. I didn't appreciate that until we drove to the mountains (less than 45 min car ride) and looked down on the thick smog. It can't be healthy to live there.

I will end this by saying my flight home was thankfully less interesting! I did have 8 hours to kill in Frankfurt, unfortunately tho it was 6am to 2pm.

I took a train to recommended neighborhood, Hauptwache, (impossible to pronounce). When i left the train station, the street was so deserted it was creepy (9am sunday in germany with all stores closed). I was about to go back to airport, when i turned around to see a white angel. actually, it was another woman. a beautiful woman, all in white, hat too. i asked her if she spoke english and she told me she didn't know anything, she just just got off a plane and was on layover! So we teamed up. She was dressed lightly having just left the summer of australia, so i lent her my furry bulky brown leather gloves - they looked funny with her white outfit! we saw alot and talked alot. it was great.

And frankfurt, once it comes alive with people, which is about the time i had to leave it :( is a Beautiful Place. i may now have to visit germany - i never had an interest before.

my last memory of the trip home. sitting next to a nice, older swedish couple (for 12hours!!!!!!!!!!). the man told me he was a neuropathologist studying primitive cell development and migration and was going to give a talk (to the UCSF memory clinic!). "you understand what i do?" he said. we had some great conversations.

As i write this, i'm in SF. Genice in Jiana are in Oakland. My best friends just had a baby 2 days ago. And I am adjusting back to life in the US.

So, if anyone ever asks you if you'll go with them to Kazakhstan,

SAY YES!

Da Svedanya,
Nanci

Posted by genicejacobs at 8:14 PM PST
Updated: Friday, 28 January 2005 11:44 PM PST
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Tuesday, 25 January 2005
Jiana meets Team Orange
Topic: Now that we're home.
Hello we're home!

I can't tell you how happy I am that we are finally home. I had such an amazing time in Kazakhstan, but it was such a long journey-- both the trip and the whole adoption, and it is just so great to be back at home and be able to go on with my life. I am so grateful that everything worked out so well (I guess all my worrying paid off), and that I have been blessed with such a wonderful daughter who I adore more and more everyday. I am certainly that my dear grandparents (may they rest in peace) must have served as my guardian angels.

Jiana is playing in her exersaucer and I was thrilled to be able to go to the bathroom without asking permission or having to carry her on my lap. And I could still watch her from the toilet... what could be better? And I'm so thrilled to be able to sit here and write a blog entry while she entertains herself.

Jiana, Jupiter and Sunkissed seem to be getting on well so far. There's a lot of curiosity and smelling, but no cries of hissing... thank goodness. It would just be so tragic after all we've been through to have to find Jiana a new home in case she had conflicts with Team Orange. I was strategic about dressing her in her "i heart my kitty" pj's as a good will gesture. I think as long as Jiana stays away from the scratching post, everyone should get along well.

So far, I've adjusted well to being a mom. I haven't found it to be nearly as tiring or as stressful as people made it out to be. On some levels, it's not so different from being a cat mom. Certain parts are

To the contrary, I am really more relaxed since becoming a mother than I have been in a long time. I think the main reason is that I am busy enough to not have too much time to spend in my head.

So here's how Jiana and the catz stack up.
Both wake me up out of full REM sleep to meet various needs and demands, and are equally as persistent and persuasive. Both will gently hit me to get their points across.
Both Jiana and catz cry when they want to eat.
Both hate to take baths. Although, bathing my cats is slightly less traumatic than bathing Jiana.
The cats are much neater diners. Jiana's table manners are more similar to our sometimes visiting Raccoons.
Jiana is actually easier and lighter to carry. Jupiter in particular must weight at least 2 pounds more than her.
Feeding medication is equally as difficult with child and cats.
Both have low tolerance for boredom and demand my full attention for playtime. And it is equally difficult to type with cat or baby on my lap. No multitasking allowed on either front.
Jupiter and Sunkissed are much harder to get in the car and are a bit more cranky on driving trips.

This morning I had my first experience of feeding Jiana, while Jupiter cried for food. Later, while I was feeding Jiana a bottle, Jupiter was demanding my attention for a round of cat dancer. I tried to hold the bottle while also navigating the cat dancer. But, somehow Jupiter wasn't too convinced of my enthusiasm. This should be interesting.

Overall, I've had such incredible great fortune throughout my adoption trip. My daughter is beautiful, charming and amazing. She is such a joy and my legal process went so unbelievably smooth. I met a woman at the airport who adopted a little girl around Jiana's age from the exact same orphanage and her adoption included a 3 week first visit when she traveled to the orphanage everyday for 2 hours, then they went home for 2 weeks and came back again to Kazakhstan for 10 days.

It was also so great to have both Delilah and Nanci and Rahila and Abdul Amani along for the ride. I would have gone nuts without them. It was wonderful to be able to get a lay of the land in Almaty with Delilah as she spoke and read enough Russian to get along quite well. And Nanci was such a calming influence for me. She was so supportive with caring for Jiana and was such a good sport as we schlep and schlep and schlep that stroller through the snow, slush and icy streets and up and down more stairs that I care to remember. She also was a great Cyrillic and Russian quick study. With all I had going on, I was quite pathetic, but Nanci learned to read signs and ask directions and was much more brave and adventurous than I would have ever imagined she would be. To confess, I was a bit nervous about her willingness to venture out, but she was just amazing. But, most importantly, Nanci offered me such great coaching along the way and really helped me to stay out of my head and be a really relaxed mother. And both Delilah and Nanci pen a mean blog.

We all really loved our limited travels in Kazakhstan. Almaty is such a great city... a real hidden gem. It was so interesting.

I was met at SFO by my mom and her partner Will. They came bearing bialis, chicken cacciatore, Mandelbrot and various cakes and candies. So much for my weight. They drove up from LA and ended up beating me by two days due to my flight delay. Aside from filling my refrigerator with assorted goodies, helping straighten up, my mother also took on the task of reorganizing my my disorganized closets (which I'm all good with) and redecorating my house (which I was less enthusiastic about). As I unpack, I am also in the process of redecorating things back to their original origin.

Gotta run. Jupiter calls.

Call, come by to meet the baby, we are ready for visitors.

Jiana, Sunkissed and Jupiter's mom
who is typing while playing cat dancer

Posted by genicejacobs at 8:30 AM PST
Updated: Sunday, 30 January 2005 11:04 AM PST
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Monday, 24 January 2005
I haven't received any personal emails to me since January 11
Just in case you are wondering why you haven't heard back from me.... just in case you sent me a really sweet and sentimental email message. I probably never got it. Upon arriving home, I logged into email and realized I haven't received any personal emails since January 11th as I had too many emails on my server. If you happen to still have any emails you sent to me in your sent box, I would really appreciate it if you could resend those messages sent to my genice@profluence.net address from January 11th-yesterday. Sorry for the inconvenience.

I be posting my wrap-up in the next day or so.

Genice
who is kicking herself for not having someone turn on her computer to download messages.

Posted by genicejacobs at 10:51 PM PST
Updated: Monday, 24 January 2005 11:24 PM PST
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