Friday, May 30, 2008

Vote for Obama

I'm a pretty dedicated democrat and, from the moment I saw his first speech and read his first book, I've know almost in a cellular way that Barack Obama is a person who can lead America and the world to a place of wealth, peace and service to each other. (OKay, maybe I"m overdoing it with the service bit, but really. I do think he's all that.)

In Montana, the democratic primary is Tuesday, June 3rd!!!!

I don't pretend to know enough about anything to start blogging about politics. But I do know enough to say, "Hmn, boy, my baby sure does seem to like that shirt!!"

dessi obama 2

dessi obama

Thursday, May 29, 2008


A moment of freedom for me because Dessi has just learned that if she moves her weight forward and back, she can rock her little rocking chair. So I'm off duty for the moment. Every day something new -- she can sit up on her own almost indefinitely, and she is finally, finally, starting to move toward crawling or at the very least she will be on her stomach for three or four minutes before she starts to wail. (She wouldn't be on her stomach at all the first six weeks without crying. We figured it was because she was so potbellied (read: fat), but also it was probably because the babies at CHI don't really get exercise per se -- from what we could gather, they are wrapped in bundles of blankets to be held, fed or burped, and then laid back in their cribs. I don't think they were bounced on nannies' knees or jiggled around much. Dessi also could not, for example, support her head with her neck when we got her (at six months).


She seems more attached to us now, particularly since we left Montana, and whether that's a factor of just time or because it is more just her and us and not so many people coming in and out I don't know (and it doesn't matter either way), but it is good to see. Not that I was worried about it per se, but kind of I was / am. She's so independent; she only recently seems to need us around to play and have a good time or to look to us when she's upset or uncomfortable, versus actually looking away from us and taking care of it on her own. It wasn't until about two weeks ago that she was feeling sick and just wanted to be held and coddled all day long by her mama. My friend came over, asked to hold her and as soon as she did, Dessi started to cry. YAHOO!! (I know, I am a sad, desperate mama, and I am laughing at myself right now. But I want to be important to her! Not just some yahoo who's no better or worse than the next person who might pick her up.) :)

Here's a picture of Dessi and me at the beach in Dakar, taken on our first day back.

lindy dakar w/ dessi

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Children's House International adoption group

My friend Christy has started an unofficial listserv for families adopting through Ethiopia and specifically with Children's House International. (Which is our agency. We really thought they were great to work with.)

If you're interested, it's easy to apply to the yahoo group, and it will be a great way for current and potential CHI families to stay in touch.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sleeping Through the Night

I love a solid, nightly niner. If I don't get at least eight hours more than two nights in a row, I become pretty non-functioning. I've always been like this. I read somewhere that insightful, creative people need more sleep, so, sure. Either that or I'm a bum.

Our baby, however, is no such lazy ass. At the orphanage, they fed her every four hours, and if she was sleeping, they would wake her up to feed her. So of course, this is how she came to us. We figured this would pass when no one was waking her up, but it didn't. And I was pretty sad about it.

One morning I met some mamma-girlfriends at the bagel shop and I was all bleary-eyed with my bangs sticking straight up off my forehead (I did not know this until hours later; ha ha ha aren't my friends funny) and they gave me some tech support.

Here's how it went:

1) We stuffed her silly right before going to sleep -- solid foods and a bottle.
2) When she woke up in the middle of the night, we offered only a bottle of water, and we didn't change her diaper or make it into a smile fest. Just business, nothing to see here, kid.
3) The bottle of water didn't work -- she is no fool -- and she screamed until we gave her milk. She also wet through her diaper, even the special nighttime ones, and was rightly mad about it.
4) We regrouped.
5) We wrapped her in two diapers and gradually diluted her formula (three to two to one scoop) until, at one scoop, she chose to stay in bed. Sometimes she still wakes up, has a little chat with herself and/or moans a bit, but then back to sleep while we lay in bed and thank God.

Somehow this is all so obvious now, writing it, but it took experienced, rested people to point it out. Within four days of diluted formula, she started sleeping for 8 to 10 hours, waking up for a bottle and a diaper change, then back to sleep for another three hours!! Eleven hours of sleep, people!! Sometimes 13 hours!!

From here, Dessi will take her first steps, speak her first words, and, ultimately, become president of the United States or a bush doctor in the Congo, but sleeping for 12 hours will always be her finest and most crowning achievement.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I've given no thought to this whatsoever

I have only five seconds of freedom today, and I'm going to spend it on a rant.

Who writes children's books? I really, really want to know. Because if you gave me just five seconds to write a poem, I could do better than almost anything I've found so far, at least for the soft-sided ones designed for babies.

Below are the contents of the most recent insult, purchased because it's made of cloth and small (3 x 3) so she won't keep hitting herself in the face with it like she does the bigger ones. She also will sit up with this one and flip the little foam pages as if analyzing its design. Anyway:

Elephant is big.
Elephant is strong.
The jungle shakes
As he tramps along.
But I think you'll find
He's gentle and kind.


Now I'm mad because they made me waste my five minutes.

Monday, May 19, 2008



Photographing a sleeping baby is like photographing a mountain scene as you hike across it on a beautiful day. You get the photograph back and you think, What? Where is the breeze, the sweat in my eyes, the giant rock that felt like the Cheek of God as I leaned against it.

Where is the milk-filled belly rising and falling sweetly in a sleep more quiet and sure than I have been in decades -- all needs met, all worries released, arms flung open, and vulnerable seems not even to be a concept in her wordless mind. And where are the eyelids half-fluttering as I wait to see if she is rested, if they will open, and if she will see me yet again smiling down at her and if she'll flash me her full-faced, knowing smile so that her fat little cheeks squeeze against her eyes and they get all crinkly and cheery. How she is so tiny and yet so wise and sweet and NICE. And if I'll cry again, and probably I will, because she and I and her father and these moments must be the essence of all life.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Pickup

During the homestudy, our social worker advised us not to let anyone else hold or feed Dessi for her first three months home. (!) She said children raised by their birthmothers instinctively know who their mothers are. Adopted children don't know this, so they're looking for this mother figure, and anyone who is giving them care or comfort is sort of automatically considered for the job, at least until everything gets more or less established.

To some degree this makes sense to us (my husband and me), and to some degree, no. We decided it would be fine if family and friends held her.

We were surprised, though, when total strangers met us with arms outstretched.

The first three people who asked to hold her, we basically didn't know at ALL (one was in the airport, for example), and we were so startled by the question that we sort of just handed her over more or less out of politeness. (And yes, we know it is our jobs as parents to abandon courtesy if it interferes with our kid's development. But we're NEW to this. Also, the no-holding thing was still a loosely formed idea.)

Then we prepared an answer. (No, oh thank you so much, but we're fine. Smile sweetly, change subject.) But at a kid-friendly potluck last night, a woman swooped in and picked up Dessi without even asking (I was standing over Dessi while talking to a friend) and then she started talking about how she is the Baby Whisperer (I'm not making this up) and kissing Dessi's belly and blech blech blech! So, just take the baby back, right? I mean, I literally do not even know this woman's name. But unfortunately, Dessi almost instantly starts giggling and cooing and seems to really LIKE this woman, so I stand there panicking and telling myself to relax a little and feeling indignant and wondering how much of this is just my ego because obviously Dessi is not uncomfortable and then also wondering how/why I should take Dessi away when she's clearly having a good time? (And yes, she has a good time with me and yes, I know, she likes ME, too. It's hard to explain.) Twenty minutes later I just walked up and took her back, some sort of smile, some muttered thank you, and we left for home.

Why do strangers want to hold our child? That either we or she would think this was a good idea?)

Partly I have privately (until now) speculated that it's ... maybe because she's so clearly adopted? That people think we have less authority or that she's sort of a community child or something? That seems pretty farfetched, though. It's probably just because she is so darn cute. It's just odd to me, because I don't think I've ever asked anyone if I could hold their child before.

Complicating things further, the social worker's words still are pretty loud in my ears, and I have this fear that somehow, because Dessi still might not know yet who her mother is (despite the rap song I made up, in which I repeat the line "That's right, I'm yo' mamma"), some baby-whisperer type might coo and coddle her into confusion or into liking someone else more than me. Even one time when a dear friend was holding Dessi and they were gazing into each other's eyes for a while, I felt a little sick to my stomach. I know I know I know. Very sad mamma confession moment.

I know that my own insecurities will fade over time, and that all of this is probably just the early path of adoptive parenting and sigh, what can you do? Dessi is doing so great, and at least people really are drawn to her and they don't seem at all confounded by our non-standard family unit.

Maybe I just need more sleep.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Psssttt ...

Here's what else we did today: We peed in the potty!! (And my apologies here to anyone who's been reading this blog because they are interested in Senegal and not so much in the baby thing. I am really just in the baby thing right now.)

Anyway. This is something called Elimination Communication -- the idea is that even the tiniest humans don't like to poop and pee where they're hanging out. They can't control those muscle movements, but they're aware of them and they make what can become (to the trained eye) predictable faces or noises when they're going.

Here is a photo of the potty. I got it at for $24. It's clear so you can see her peeing (instead of listening really, really hard) and then right away start making the cuing noise. (More on this below.)


To paraphrase the book, I don't train her; she trains me -- to notice her grunts for poops (very, very easy) or the way she'll stare off for a second while she's peeing (and okay, I can see that, but I haven't even tried to get the pants off and on the pot in time). The first step is to have naked time (on a rubber-backed mat in a toasty-warm room) and observe when she pees. While she's peeing, I "cue" her, which is to say, I make a pssssttt sound. The second step is to say (quietly to yourself is fine), 'Okay, she tends to pee right after a nap,' and so after the nap, I take off her diaper, put her on the little clear pot, and make my cuing noise. Yesterday, she made her pee, and today, she made another one!!

This is really fabulous, because we've only tried five times. I would add here that I'm not going nutty for this, we just thought that if we could "catch" (that's what ECers call it) one or two pees per day and maybe some poops, we could elminate a few diapers from our daily output.

Speaking of. Fuzzi Bunz cloth diapers did not work for us at all. Two diapers and two pairs of pants in four hours (she blew through twice, which she doesn't do in disposables), so we've switched to friendly disposables -- made of cornstarch, 70% biodegradable diapers called "Nature Boy & Girl." I order them online from Seattle, they're $16 for a pack of 40 and less if I order a case, which I'm going to do next time. They're not too much more expensive, they seem to work almost as well as Pampers, and they're supposedly not total landfill hazards. I'm going to bury one in the backyard right now, and maybe in ten days I'll see what we've got left. I know that's not much time when you're saving the planet, but that's all I've got before we leave for Senegal.

Stay tuned.

Friday, May 2, 2008

On the Mat

So, so much for raising our child like the Amish! While we're still trying to do that to some degree, we also have an orange and red playmat in our living room. We cannot believe how much she loves it! She's in there for large swaths of time (30 minutes) without wearing out, and it has really encouraged her to grab things, pull them and kick the sides.

Here's Dessi with her mama, trying to show her some new tricks.