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.
Greetings from Jiana
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.