Every tree limb overhead seems to sit and wait, while every step you take becomes a twist of fate.
Up on the watershed, standing at the fork in the road...

If you are new to our adoption blog please take a moment to scroll down to the archives at the bottom of this page and start with July 2009 post "Watershed."


New Blog Design

Wow, I just managed to lose 3 hours to redesigning the blog and it isn't even as impressive as blogs I admire. I think I'm giving it a rest for awhile though.

Next step is to figure out how to use photobucket so my photos will be larger and more impressive. What's the point of taking great photos if they look small and pitiful?

Now I need your photobucket or photo enlarging advice in addition to hair advice!


Hair. Am I overthinking it?

Baby girl has lovely hair. Let's begin with that statement and work backwards.

For three months exactly I pored over 127 photos of Ariam and her hair asking myself these questions: is it spiraly? is it more puffy? is it going to grow out or will it grow down at some point? Is it a 3c or 4a or 4 b or 4 c? (She is type 4a.) Is it an L, O, I or S? (She's an O.)

Oh the hair obsession. It was something to focus my energy on.

I devoured Happy Girl Hair (although realized that without a child in front of me all lessons learned on that site were unabsorbed - had to go back and reread after Ari came home.)

I tentatively bought a couple of products to bring to Ethiopia with me but neglected to bring a comb or detangler for the 19 days we would be with her.

Headbands were practically purchased en masse.

In my daydreams I could braid and cornrow and create puffs by just watching one quick video online. In those daydreams I had a very still and very cooperative toddler. Hah!

We met Ariam. The days that we visited her at her orphanage she had very puffy combed out hair that was hard to assess. It was soft like a cloud. Immediately after her bath that soft puff coiled up on itself, began to knot and formed tiny pencil eraser coils. I sent off a panicked email requesting advice on detangling and that's when I found out that you actually need to have a comb and detangler (thick conditioner with slip to it) to detangle. Huh!

We have taken a hair journey. It's a journey we will be on for many many years together and one that I take very seriously. While hair doesn't define a person, it frames us for first impressions. So it's important.

I basically stalk blogs just looking for posts on hair so I can check and double check on our technique vs. other's techniques. So for those of you waiting for the hair details here they are:

We buy all Carol's Daughter. Because they sell it at Sephora. (Hi CD and Sephora - please send me some free products!) I would try other products and have even marked websites with things I want to order but when it comes down to it I want to be able to go to an actual store to sniff the products and put my fingers in them.

So - Carol's Daughter. But we never use Tui scented anything. It smells too grown up to me. Like my baby is going to head out on a date or something. Or like she's spending her days in my freshman year dorm room over enjoying the patchouli candle.

Every 3-4 days:
1. Bath (she likes this) without soap. J is perpelexed by this given his fetish for antibacterial anything. But her skin can't handle even mild baby soap without drying out. We're sort of playing around with oatmeal baths at this point which makes J crazy with worry over the idea of oatmeal stuck in her nether regions.

2. Wet down her hair in the bath (she hates this)

3. Wash and rinse with Head and Shoulders shampoo (yes, um, remember the trip to Children's Hospital we took on Monday because I was sure she had a scalp fungal infection? Dandruff. Oh yes, my baby has DANDRUFF. And it is U.G.L.Y. Please don't judge. I tried so so very hard and really things were looking so good for awhile.)

4. Giant glop of Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla smoothie conditioner (rub through hair and scalp, evenly distribute, finger detangle)

5. Scream for J to get his butt in the bathroom and hold down our daughter's squiggling screaming behind

6. Leave on for 5, then rinse well

7. NO TOWEL DRYING - leave hair to airdry in natural curl pattern

8. Spray with mix of water/Black Vanilla detangler AND then add another leave in conditioner (I have a couple of random samples of things I try or use Carol's Daughter hair milk)

9. Comb through hair while holding sections at the root and just combing ends, when detangled sort of fluff out with fingers

10. THIS IS THE BIG ONE Add pea sized amount of Carol's Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey
For me this has been a game changer. After I rub this through her hair the curls stay coily and shiny for at least 2 days without turning to fuzzy cloud fluff. Sometimes I wrap a few coils around my fingers and stretch them out to add depth and definition.

I never scrunch the hair or pull it. I never comb it when it's dry. I regularly trap her and gently rub in random things like shea butter, jojoba oil, or coconut oil when I see the hair looking or feeling brittle (usually after nap time.) I am sure there is a theory behind this and actual technique for adding oil to seal moisture. Need to look into that.

Whew. That's it. Well, plus a steroid ointment we have to put on her scalp until the dandruff chunks leave (almost gone!) and I left out the part where we have to rub 2 different kinds of steriod ointments on her neck and leg eczema. Add in a lot of wiggling, protesting and naked dashes through the house and you have the whole picture.

Some of the problems we've experienced and how we handled them:

1. Lack of definition to curls (see pool photo in my post below) has been mostly solved with the Mimosa Hair honey after the bath. To reactivate the curls the next day I just lightly fluff everything at the root with a wide tooth comb or my fingers spread apart, spritz with water/detangler combo and rub in a quarter sized glop of Hair Milk. Seems to do the trick.

2. Greasiness! A huge problem in the early days when I just kept dumping more and more product on the lack of definition. Some days her hair looked wet all day. Oops. Resolved by more/better product after hair washes but less on a daily morning basis.

3. Dandruff. Well apparently drug store shampoo is the answer.

4. Breakage. We are dealing with that now. When she wakes up we'll find on average two clumps of curls that stick out from the rest and can be gently pulled off. Has resulted in loss of all longer curls on the sides of her head where she sleeps. Highly textured black hair is the most fragile hair there is and most prone to damage. We are now trying to add Carol's Daughter hair elixer (quarter sized amount rubbed in my palms and rubbed into her hair) before bed every night. And I plan to start adding coconut oil on nights before shampoo days from now on. Both the elixer and coconut oil strengthen the hair shaft. So we'll see. So far today (following a night sleeping with the elixer on) she's had the best hair day she's had in a long time!

5. People thinking she's a boy. We are still encountering this particularly when her hair has been freshly washed and so is more tightly coiled and short looking. I solve this by adding her signature headbands. What can you do? Super annoying.

So far no puffs have been achieved. No cornrows have been practiced. I can't even get the child to sit still for her morning spritz and am chasing her around her room while she laughs at me. I think we will master hair health first and then move on to actual styling later. Like when she realizes how interesting Dora or Yo Gabba Gabba can be. Stillness people, we need stillness!

That is our hair dealy-o. It is very very important to me. I have never, not once, not even one day skipped hair routine. I feel like if I had to choose between going out in my pajamas for my day or letting Ariam go out for her day with slept on dried out looking hair I would definitely go out in my pajamas. Minus a bra even. Minus shoes. It just wouldn't happen. Hair. It is crucial to a child's sense of self, particularly growing up in a trans-racial family. I will never sacrifice her hair.

What do you do for hair? Any great tips out there?


Blog Life meets Personal Life meets Work Life

I'm going to be at the Together for Adoption conference in Austin, TX October 1-2nd.
Please tell me some of my amazing bloggy friends, commenters, writers and/or lurkers will be there too!

I'm not presenting but am working booths with member organizations of the Faith to Action Initiative: Bethany Christian Services, Orphan Outreach and possibly Christian Alliance for Orphans. If you see From Faith to Action floating around you'll know I am nearby...

Is it any more incentive to meet up than the fact that I am ....bringing Ariam??!! In all her itchy scratchy excema-y glory!

But Ariam is in and out on a limited basis with my mom who is helping me through the conference. If you want to get together let's pick a time to meet or a workshop to share so I know when the little one will be with me and when she won't need to be there. (My guess is she will have a large preference for spending time at the hotel in the swimming pool instead of hanging out at the conference.)

Is this bossy? This blog post sounds so bossy to me. I promise I'm not quite this bossy in person.

I am busy. Working hard on several projects for the Initiative (which I realized I can type here without any asterisks or periods because I am the one who checks g.oogle a.nalytics for us!)

1. We are buying a house!

2. We seem to be traveling constantly!

3. J may start a new job that leaves me in full-time child care mode 100% of the time while working 30 hours/week. That just will not work. So now we are in high gear search for a nanny or nanny share in our neighborhood.

Which leads me to the huge internal debate over whether or not we should hire an Ethiopian nanny through the refugee employement services here in our city. I want to. I don't want to. I want to. I don't want to. I'm scared of being judged. I am scared of A's attachment loosening to me. I hate that everyone will think she is the nanny's kid. But it seems right to provide employment to a hardworking Ethiopian woman who is probably providing for her family. Oh sigh. Now this is a whole blog post of its own. Has anyone done this before? What are your thoughts?

And circling back to the conference PLEASE tell me you'll be there! :)



Bad Blogger Bullet points

Tonight I received this teeny tiny message in my hotmail inbox:

time for A NEW BLOG POST with pics

I wanted to comply but am having problems making time slow down and cooperate. So bad blogger bullet pointing HERE WE GO!

1. On August 29th, 2010 we dedicated Ariam at church. The photos from the church are not good. Waiting for a friend to send hers so I can write a full post. It was a lovely morning though. Ariam wore her traditional dress. And ate a donut. And loved it. And climbed onto the stage herself. And tried to eat a flower.

2. We took an amazing Labor Day long weekend in Santa Fe. Ari met J's dad for the first time and it was mutual love at first sight. The vacation included both dogs, 5 alpacas, a swimming pool, a playground, a fruit market, coyotes, bear prints, a ton of guacamole, a giant tutu wearing photo shoot meltdown and one very long car ride.

3. We are now in DC for a week. For work and fun. We're staying with friends who have a 3 year old son and 15 month old son. And LOTS of fun toys. Today we played tourist in our old city and someone cooperated nicely by napping in her stroller QUIETLY in all of the very quiet museums. Felt like old times. (Plus one.)

Oh, and Ariam and I took a ride on the old horse carousel in the middle of the national mall. On a sunny day. With daddy taking photos. It was one of those stop and have to catch your breath you're so happy moments. :)

4. Ari is having serious skin problems. We have a derm appt. next Monday. I mean the skin is BAD folks. I lotion it 3-4 times/day and have tried everything. Making my own out of jojoba/shea/coconut, Aq.uifer, Al.ba, even using some hy.drocortisone creams. Nothing works. Her scalp under her hair is white and itchy and coming off in chunks, her hips have hive type red rashes, her legs will CRACK they are so dry unless I basically follow her around with lotion and cream all day, and her face gets flaky white spots and dry bumps across her nose and on her forehead. Oh, and her whole torso has tiny invisible to the eye (but can feel with fingers) bumps on it. Her specialist has no idea. People have thrown around exzema, allergies, altitude, etc. But no conclusive decisions. So...children's hosp. dermatologist here we come. Anyone have any ideas for the meantime?

That is the bullet point blogging for August/early Sept.

Ariam is growing up. She is walking very confidently now. Her hair is getting long enough to do finger curls. She is sleeping very well on vacation in her pack and play and napping in the stroller when we are out. She's still terrible on the airplane. But all in all she is wonderful, funny, sweet, and a great joy and companion to have with us everywhere we go!
This photo doesn't do her justice because she looks so serious. Really her smile is the most fabulous thing on earth. But I love the picture because it reflects her depth. And it is stunning.


Three Months Together

We thought that she was an introvert.

We thought she was quite serious.

We thought we knew what she liked and didn't like.

That was three months ago.

We were so wrong. We knew nothing about this amazing little person. She is so complex, so many layers of interesting personality to discover. She surprises us every day we are together.

We thought she was an introvert and very serious because it took so long for her to relax. I think she must have been protecting herself. We thought she was quite fussy and finicky because of her deep wailing inconsollable sobbing at night and her refusal to consider anything other than shiro or mac and cheese an edible.

Now I can't imagine going even a minute without her easy grin or her chortle that's turned belly laugh. She finds everything worth smiling about as long as she is with us. (Still not so sure about strangers or new places.) And she will eat absolutely anything as long as we taste test for poison first. ;)

I thought I knew her basic likes and dislikes after a few days together.

But now I know that she:


onion and cheese enchiladas

drinking from a straw like a big girl

pretending to give herself a bath (more than taking a real one)

being talked to in a fake silly monster voice

almost falling but being caught at the last second

reading books - especially ones with baby faces or animals

knowing that her bottle is nearby if needed

rocking with her head on my shoulder and both arms up around my neck

her shoes!

One of Ariam's favorite new tricks is carrying my high heeled sandal strapped over her arm like a purse. She will do this for 10 or 20 minutes, juggling the sandal from arm to arm as she drinks, reads, or plays.

I did not know her. I did not know her at all three months ago.

So far she hates

being told not to hit the computer

being asked to sit in the bath instead of stand and play with the hot water knob

That's all I can think of.

She is easy. Deep, watchful, loving, confident, and so brave. She's my hero. And yes, there are rainbows and unicorns over here in our house. Promised to be real and I swear this is really the kind of infatuation we are feeling!

Sometimes when she makes noises at night (before we've gone to bed) we argue over who gets to go in and comfort her. Three months ago we argued bitterly over who "had" to go comfort her at night. We've come a long way baby.

About Me

My photo
J and I have been married for almost 15 years. We have shared many adventures and a lot of watershed moments. In 2009 I began blogging and in 2010 we adopted our daughter from Ethiopia. In March of 2012 we began the process to adopt a little boy from Haiti. This blog follows the many twists and turns on the road to our two children and beyond.