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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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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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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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