Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Tag: I'm it.

I was tagged by Bookhart, and feel I must respond, although I don't really have anyone to tag myself because I am a lonely, lonely blogger...

So here goes.

Three Things About Me (with commentary, if necessary)

Markansas (Rhymes with Arkansas, my mom has always called me this)

Karla May


From my mid-torso right on down to my upper knees. Ugh.
My Hands.
My horrible eyesight.

Appalachian Hillbilly

Cockroaches/Palmetto bugs. I'm phobic.
Something happening to my mother or my daughter
How much the rest of the world is pissed off at America.

Chewing gum.
Lots of water.
Smooching on my daughter.


The Innocence Mission
The Tragically Hip

"How Soon in Now"--The Smiths
"Greek Song"--Rufus Wainwright
"Every Hour Here"--The Innocence Mission

Lots and lots of laughter
Mutual respect
Honest communication

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE (in no particular order):
I once auditioned for an alt-country band. They didn't pick me.
The first concert I ever went to was to see was Peaches and Herb, the "Reunited" tour.
I was in the flag corp in high school.

Good teeth/killer smile
Strong arms/shoulders
Lack of b.o. and/or snoring

People watching
Reading magazines ("Bust," "Oxford American," and "Herbivore" are some of my favorites.)

A part-time nanny
A full time housekeeper
A winning lottery ticket

Background singer. I love to harmonize.
Comedy writer/Comedic performer. I'd love to write/perform on a sketch comedy show like SNL or Mad TV.



Go on a real vacation for at least two weeks.
Scuba dive.
Learn to drive a damn stick shift.

I'm a sucker for unecessary, often-unused bath and body products.
I can't fix anything even mildly mechanical.
I cry easily.

Jon Stewart
Dave Grohl
Jeff Goldblum

WARNING: Rated X for Profanity

Mother fucking mosquitos. I fucking hate the little fuckers. Ass sucking shitheads.

Today, I ran a quick errand with the Geej, and of course, she fell asleep in her carseat before we got home. So when we pulled up to the house, I was going to take the opportunity to unload some stuff that had been in my car since we got home on Saturday while she slept. So I popped the back of the wagon and took in load one. When I got back to get load two, there was a blood sucking mother fucker perched in the middle of The Geej's forehead, going to town as she snoozed. IT'S FUCKING NOON, FOR CHRISSAKES!! What the hell?! I'm used to being ambushed at dusk by the evil demons, but straight up noon? God dang it made me mad. Luckily, I was able to fly to the side of the car, swing open the door and wipe him away before he was able to bleed her dry...but still.

It's going to be a loooooooooong summer.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Earl and his new best friend--the psychotically annoying Baby Tad.  Posted by Hello

Peaceable kingdom?

As you may have read a few posts ago, my cat Earl was having some adjustment issues since I came home with the Geej. When we left for out little week-long roadtrip, Earl had just barely started to come around a bit--hiding less, letting the Geej see him more (much to her delight). But I feared when we returned, he'd be like, "Hell! She's still got that weird, noisy little thing with her. Damn!" and we'd be back to square one. But no.
We got home late Saturday afternoon, and he was a bit standoff-ish. But Sunday morning, as I was giving her a bottle, he jumped up on the arm of the couch and licked the Geej right on her head. Then he moved on to the couch and started bunking her feet with his big ol' head, purring like mad. It was so fucking cute. The Geej was too sleepy to notice or else I think she would've shot straight out of her pj's with joy.
Today, we had about 5 minutes of peaceful coexistance. Earl was lounging in the sunroom among about 100 baby toys strewn around the floor. The Geej was playing nearby, happily cooing. All was right with the world. But then Earl moved his tail, Geej noticed he was close by, and she started out after him in a move I call turbocrawl--she goes FAST grunting the whole time, as if making noise somehow makes her go faster. Earl was out of there like lightning. But it's definitely a start.
The Geej! Posted by Hello

Oh, where to begin...

This past week (and a few days) has been a doozie.

On Friday the 20th, I piled The Geej and all of her stuff into the wagon and took off for Longview at 5:20 in the morning. I was trying to take advantage of the fact that leaving at that hour would mean she'd sleep through most of the 270 mi. trip. I was a bit freaked b/c it was going to be our first official road trip together, and well, when you're doing it all alone, there are lots of things to consider. For instance: going to the bathroom. Should the need arise, what does one do? You can't leave her in the car. You can't take her to the bathroom and put her on the dirty floor. (No, I don't have one of those carrier doohickeys.) You can't pee with her on your lap (you can, actually, but the stuff you have to do AFTER peeing you can't do with her in one arm). So I stopped drinking water at 7pm the night before our trip, just to be sure...

She made the trip like a champ, with only 2 meltdowns--one minor, one major. And thankfully, the major one happened when we were only 20 miles from our destination.

Saturday the 21st, we attended a party in Geej's honor. A lot of my family, my mom's friends, a few of my friends from high school. It was lovely, and The Geej looked precious in her little white lacy dress with a blue grosgrain ribbon at the waist. She was tired, but tolerated being passed around to about a billion old big-haired east Texas ladies who wanted to eat her with a spoon. She got SO much stuff at that party that it took two cars to bring it home. Lordy.

Monday night, I got sick. I won't go into the gruesome details, but it lasted for a couple of days, culminating with 102.5 fever on Wednesday night. All I can say is thank God I was home so my mom could help with Geej. I was in lousy shape, and still don't feel quite right to be honest. I'm going to try to get in to see El Doctor tomorrow...

Thursday, Mom the Geej and I piled all of our crap back into the wagon, and headed to Houston. The baby had a 1pm appt. at the International Adoption Center at Texas Children's Hospital for her post-adoptive diagnostic exam. It's basically a very thorough appointment where they catch her up on any immunizations she needs, give her the once over, re-test her for all sorts of stuff (TB, HIV, etc.) and establish her medical records in the U.S. She'd had a pre-adoptive evaluation done there, so I wanted to close the loop. She did great. She's gained 2 lbs. since I've had her (she's up to a whopping 15.9 lbs.!), and the doctors thought--barring any weirdness showing up on her labs--that she's in tip top shape. I knew this, of course, but it's very reassuring to hear it from the professionals.

We spent the night in a hotel near the medical center (the same hotel where Mom spent so much time when Roy was in the hospital there last summer), then packed up and headed about 45 miles away to Seabrook. Checked into yet another hotel, and unloaded once again. It's amazing how much stuff you have to travel with when a baby's in tow. I kept calling her The Diva, because it was like we were her roadies, constantly unloading all the stuff that she needed. My cousin was graduating from high school with loads of honors, so Mom and I wanted to make an appearance. Since the ceremony didn't start until 8pm and was in a hot stadium, Geej and I went back to the hotel, but Mom attended and I know my cousin and uncle were happy she was there.

Next day, we loaded up again, and hit the road for Austin (Mom was catching a ride back to L-view with my Aunt). But wait! We stopped on our way out of Houston to have lunch and visit with a couple who I'd met through the adoption agency. The woman's name is Joanne and her husband is Alan. They adopted a little girl from the same orphanage that the Geej came from last October. The little girl is about 6 mos. older than Geej and looks so much like her, it's eerie. Aside from the olive complexion, and the fact that she's obviously bigger, Kyra IS The Geej. It was so weird...like looking into the future. Same hair, eyes, nose, mouth, petite frame. You name it, they're the same. These people live in an ENORMOUS McMansion--very nice. Kyra's room looks like something out of the Land of Nod catalogue.

Finally, we got on the road for home for real. Got home about 4:30 on Saturday afternoon. Whew. It was such a wild week--full of changes and firsts for Geej--and she handled everything like a pro. Just went with the flow. I'm very proud. Today is her 10 mo. birthday. She's sitting on the floor next to me playing as I type. She's such a monkey.

You'll be pleased to know that we've rounded the corner with Earl. I guess he's begrudingly decided to accept this strange creature who now shares his house and his mom with him. Sunday morning, I was giving the Geej her bottle, and he jumped up on the arm of the couch and just licked her right on the head. Then he got down on the couch and bunked her feet, purring madly. She, of course, was in heaven. He still runs from her when she "chases" him (which is freakin' hilarious, by the way), but I can't say I blame him. He still outweighs her by about a pound, but he's a big wuss.

Okay, back to trying to write the billion thank you cards I am now legally required to write after that dang party. And the hostesses even put "no gifts necessary" on the invitation... Sigh.

Monday, May 16, 2005

She stalks!! [Look up at the top of the photo, and you can see Earl, doing his thing.] Posted by Hello

His So Called Life

Poor Earl. Man.

I've heard fellow parents say something to the effect that, "Once you bring that baby home, your best friend/purebred dog/pound puppy/award-winning cat/stray you-rescued-off-the-top-of-the-coke-machine becomes nothing more than an animal inhabiting your house." They warn that the love you have for the new baby is so all-consuming, that you simply forget that, hey, there's this other being (or beings) that depend upon you for not only food and water, but love and play and all of the things that he/she became accustomed to prior to the arrival of Ms. or Mr. #1. These pets get the shaft by not only feeling like their territory has been invaded, but also that their humans no longer love them. Sad, sad stuff.

Ellen, my very elderly and grumpy feline had been surprisingly patient with The Geej. The Geej , of course, is totally delighted by Ellen. If she catches the slightest glimpse of the cat moving from one room to the other, she squeals in utter "I wanna grab me some kitty" delight. And Ellen tolerates The Geej's loudness (probably because she's practically deaf) and all-too-often grabs with very little annoyance. Ellen just gives her this, "Hey, I used to live with a 65 lb. Siberian Husky who was infatuated with my asshole, so you? You're gravy" sort of a look.

My other cat, Earl--who both I and the Texpatriate have written about exhaustively--is almost 4 years old and is one badassmuthafuckin cat. Sorry, but he's one of those dog-like love-bug cats who turn cat haters into drooling imbeciles. In other words, he's the shiznit. But he's also a SUPREME mama's boy. When I was traveling a lot for work, he would put himself in my suitcase while I was packing. Literally. It was sad, but sort of sweet. But since I've come home with my daughter, he's been immensely freaked. He's either hidden himself in my closet or under my bed for weeks now. And wouldn'tcha know it, The Geej is super-obsessed with him. For her, an Earl sighting is something akin to our seeing Bigfoot. I mean, she nearly comes out of her skin when she sees him motoring across the room. So hilarious.

But today, we had a bit of breakthrough, and I think he's beginning to realize that his place as #1 fat orange/white mama's feline boy has NOT been threatened. And he's realizing that--for the most part--when I'm holding the sqeaking being that is The Geej--she's not going to be able to get anywhere near him. (At least for now.)

Peaceable kingdom.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Death to "Dora the Explorer!"

I've discovered Noggin. Or rather, I've resorted to Noggin a few times. Yes, I am weak.

Noggin is a commercial-free t.v. station that bills itself as "Preschool on you T.V." And I must say, some of the programming is quite good. But this Dora? What IS the appeal? I know she's enormously popular...she's a Latina girl...exploring...and all of that's great. But really, she and that monkey "Boots" and her backpack (cleverly named "Backpack") are annoying as hell, and their adventures? Today they went on a quest for ice cream to "Coney Island." Lame-o-la.

Yes, T.V. is going to be a part of Gracelyn's life. Not a big part mind you, but a part. I have vowed, however, that as long as I can manage it, she will NOT watch anime, listen to crappy music (like The Wiggles or some such shit), or watch any truly lame children's programming. So for now, Dora's outta there.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Two weeks to the day.

Today marks two weeks that I've been home with my baby daughter. Somehow, Vladivostok seems years away. While she was napping today, I was reading through the journal I was writing almost constantly while I was there. I thought I'd share one entry, verbatim, just for grins:

Monday, April 11

I'm down in the weird restaurant. I'm going to learn to detest this place, I can already tell. I've ordered a Greek Salad and an "American Hamburger with Chicken" for myself. Oh God. I'm taking a Chef's Salad to mom in the room. Tonight's muzak selection is famous movie themes/show tune played on the pan flute. At least that's what it sounds like (right now, it's "Midnight" from Cats...endless remix version, apparently). It's almost as nauseating as he food and the atmosphere. Around me, I have three tables filled with low-talking Russian men. Romantic? No. Creepy as hell? Why, yes!
Today I walked down to the baby store with Bob and Lynn to show them where it was. They still didn't have any "Bona" formula for Geej. She's got at least three days worth of formula left, so as long as they get some by Wednesday, I'll be happy. On the way back from the store, I stopped and bought two large jugs of water. The same jugs/amounts I bought on Sunday that cost 62 rbl. cost 54 rbl. today. Go figure. And now they have BOTH entrances to the hotel completely dug up and impassable (is that a word?). The one I had to go through to get to/from the market requires that you go down this very steep, muddy hill. So goes it in a society that doesn't litigate like mad.
The theme from Love Story is now playing on the harpsichord, by the way. And I just got my "Greek" salad. Are there normally apples in a Greek salad?
Anyway, back to today: When I got back from my little jaunt to the market, we decided to put The Geej in a Snugglie and take her for a stroll around the lobby, etc. just for a change of scenery. I was a little warm (b/c the hotel is just too damn hot) and winded (carrying big-ass 5 gallon containers of water up a very steep, muddy hill), and started to feel a little lightheaded. We had just gotten downstairs, and I had to hand Geej off to Mom and go back upstairs. I was feeling too weak and weird to hold her. Very scary. I think it was the combination of shitty diet (practically no veggies and very little protein) and the fact that I've been having a heavy period for 8 days now. I've been taking a daily multivitamin, but I just feel like something's not quite right.
My "American Chicken Burger" has arrived, and I gotta say, I'm not hating it. I probably will be in a few hours, though. [I was. --Karla May] What IS grossing me out is the very rare looking bacon (I think) that they've served on the side, swimming in grease. Ugh.
The Geej has had a very good day. Aside from the bathtime meltdown, she has fussed very little and been sweet/playful/funny very much. She really is a lovely child. And she's taking her formula with vitamins in it very well, which makes me happy.
Today I was in the bathroom, and I heard Mom playing with her, being so cute. It suddenly hit me how incredibly lucky Mom/Geej and I are to have this intense bonding experience together. They are clearly falling in love, and it reminds me again how blessed I am.
If only Daddy, Roy and Grandma could hold this darling child. I have no doubts that they see her from heaven, but I'm sure their arms long to hold her and get her sugar.
I just realized that the empty shelves above the bar in this restaurant have recently been filled with half-full bottles of random liquor--Campari (which I guess is big here b/c it's on every menu and in the mini bar), Jack Daniels, Vermouth. It's a paltry, pitiful offering, but at least the shelves aren't empty any more.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

My hot yard guy.

This isn't probably the most "appropriate" post to be putting up on Mother's Day, but what the hell.

Soon after I moved into this house, I got a flyer on my door for "Don's Landscaping Service," and I needed someone to mow my yard, so I gave Don a call. Turns out, he's a fireman, but on his off days, he mows lawns to earn some extra cash. While I was at work, he went by and checked out the yard and called to tell me it would cost $30 a pop to mow it. So began our relationship: I'd call him and say, "Can you come by some time this week?" And he'd say, "How's Thursday?" And I'd say, "Fine, I'll leave you a check." And I would come home to my neatly mowed lawn.

He sounded like a nice enough guy on the phone, but we went months without ever actually meeting each other face-to-face. Then one day, I was running late for work, and he showed up to mow before I'd left. So I thought I'd introduce myself and hand him his check rather than leaving it clothes-pinned to the mailbox as usual.

Oh. My. God. He was TOTALLY hot. I mean steaming. Great legs. Dark eyes and hair. Killer smile. Amazing arms. And did I mention he's a fucking FIREMAN?! Oh lawdy. I remember I was blushing acting like a 12 year old when I was talking to him. Totally ridiculous. And somehow, I'd forgotten to look on his left hand to see if he was married. Almost immediately, the bad 70s porn scenarios started playing in my head: "You say you need your grass trimmed?" "Yes! Yes! Yes! Mow my lawn!"

Well, the years have rolled slowly by, and Don's still coming by to cut the lawn. I've learned that yes, he is married and he's got a baby daughter named Ava. I spoke with him before I left for Russia to arrange yard-mowing while I was gone, and told him what I was up to with the adoption and everything. He thought it was wonderful.

So this week, when I heard the mower crank up out front, I took Geej out to meet Mr. Hotness. He was so sweet, saying how gorgeous she is and how our eyes look alike. And I was thinking dirty, dirty thoughts about his fine ass the whole time. Sigh.

I guess I'm turning into one of the Desperate Housewives.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Picture this:

It's 5:25 p.m., and I'm holding The Geej in my arms. We're listening to "Party Shuffle" on my iTunes. Suddenly, "Root Down" by the Beastie Boys comes on. I crank it, and we start dancing. I'm asking her (and then answering), "How you gonna kick it? Gonna kick it root down!" She fucking loves it. We are TOTALLY rocking out, shaking our groove things, and she's laughing her ass off. When I stop moving, she starts bouncing in my arms, wanting more. Hilarious. It's official: I've become one of "those moms". Yowzah.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Caught in the act of actually enjoying spinach. Posted by Hello

Adventures in Dining.

So they told me that all The Geej had ever been given to eat at the orphanage were the following:
  • (Non-fortified) formula
  • Apple and apricot juice
  • Rice cereal
  • Apples
  • Apricots
That's it. Her whole diet for 8 months. (And I'm skeptical about the "juice" thing too, because the first time I tried to give her juice (and yes, I diluted it 50% with water), she looked at me like I was a space alien.) Sucks, no? No wonder all of the babies are diagnosed with rickets and anemia...

So when I got her in my arms, I was bound and determined to improve her diet. The facilitators took us to the baby store in Vlad, and pointed out the items we should buy--the exact same crap she'd been getting at the orphanage. And when you tried to add anything different to the basket, they said, "NO. Baby is allergic." Oh, really? And you would know how, exactly? So we did as we were told, and just bought the formula (called "Bona"), cereal, apples, apricots, and juice.

Now, the conventional wisdom is that you should just keep them on thier same diet until you get them home (because of potential allergies and digestive issues). But I couldn't help myself. A day or so after that initial visit, I went back and bought some pumpkin, carrots and pears. Nothing too adventurous, but I had to give this baby some stuff BESIDES all the sweet stuff she'd been eating. (Every baby book under the sun will tell you to introduce vegetables to your baby first, and the sweet stuff later. Makes sense, no?) Also, I immediately began giving her a full dose of Poly-Vi-Sol infant vitamins with iron.

The first time I got The Geej fully undressed in the hotel, you could see her ribcage, and her legs were like sticks. Absolutely no baby fat anywhere (except her cheeks...on her face).
Well, Saturday will mark my 1 month anniversary of having this little baby in my care. She's beginning to get a little fat roll on the top of her legs, and so far we've had spinach, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, green beans, berries, bananas, pears, oatmeal, apple and pear juice and fortified (American) formula. And she's liked it all. The things she's turned her nose up at? Apples and apricots.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Why is it...?

That when we grow beyond childhood, all we want to do is sleep--Nap. Zone. Chill.--but when you're a baby, and get terribly sleepy, you fight it with every inch of your being?

The Geej and I are having sleep issues. That's a polite way of saying that she goes as crazy as a shithouse rat when it's even suggested to her that maybe it's time to get in the crib. She gives me all the signs: sleepy, red eyes that she's rubbimg, pulling on on of her ears, playing with her hair, chewing on her pajama sleeve, gazing at me with a semi-stoned look on her face...but when you head toward her room and start trying to wind her down for bed, she goes totally insane. I mean, inconsolable, heaving sobs. It's horrible.

Last night, for instance, she was wiped. She'd had a full day with only one decent nap (we had visitors during nap time #2). She'd been great all day. So around 9pm, I'm getting all of her sleep signals, and so we start our bedtime ritual. Suffice it to say that she didn't go to sleep until 10:20--after much crying and rocking and comforting. I don't know who it wears out more--me or her. I'm hoping this is a temporary thing, and like the 3-day ear-piercing squeal-fest that we had while we were in Vlad, this too shall pass. But in the meantime, I am beginning to hate bedtime as much as she does.

Other than that, things are going okay in mommyland. Tomorrow, we're going on our first car excursion together. Nothing big--to the bank and to drop off some film, safe drive-thru errands--but I'm wondering how she's going to do. She's not crazy about being strapped in to anything--her high chair, stroller, her swing--so I'm sure this is going to be tricky. Wish me luck...

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Russian "Engrish"

One of the ways I amused myself during my 3 1/2 weeks in Vladivostok was by writing down all of the awful approximations of English I ran across. Usually the screwed up words were on menus (hence all of the food-related stuff), but I thought you'd enjoy.

Aggplants and Mashrooms
The filling of a "calzone" that, believe me, wasn't like any calzone you've ever had, and by that, I mean it sucked beyond comprehension.

Fresh Squid Juice
What they meant to say was "Fresh Squeezed Juice," such as orange, carrot, tomato, etc. Thank God.

"Spirits." You know, al-kee-hawl.

Gas Drinks
Coke, Sprite, etc.

Vitamins Menu
A menu of fresh squid, I mean squeezed, juices.

"I am Ultraman. I am your best frend. i am here in your time of ned."
This phrase (spelled and punctuated just as I've written here) and a picture of a robot were on the front of a t-shirt in a children's store. I only wish I could've taken a photo of it without fear of being thrown in a Russian jail. And I would've bought it, but it was 540 rubles...roughly $25 dollars. And even though it's funny, it's not $25 worth of funny.