29 September 2008

Global Baby Update

Taken earlier today. Not my best work, but I have to say I really don't have a lot of time for setting up photo shoots at the moment. Or blogging for that matter!

The day after he was released from the hospital we began the trek from San Antonio to Minnesota. The trip took about three full days of driving, but Global Baby was a trooper. As soon as the car would start, the engine vibration put him to sleep. We stopped every 1.5 - 2 hours for diaper changes, feeding him a bottle on every other stop. The trip had it's highs and lows, but wasn't as bad as I feared it would be and now we both feel relatively confident about traveling with GB.

We are very fortunate in that thus far he has been a very easy baby and we hope this trend will continue. He only cries when he is having his diaper changed, which he hates with a passion. When he is hungry he starts to fuss a bit and then settles in and eats quite well. He sleeps well and allows me to sleep for about 4 hour stretches at night, so while I am a bit tired I am not as sleep deprived as I could be. Fingers crossed he does not develop colic!

I'll try to keep the blog updated while we are in the US waiting for him to be old enough for a transatlantic flight, but I can make no guarantees. Too many family and friends wanting to visit as well as the time spent becoming adjusted to the new role of mother for me to say I will have time for blogging.

24 September 2008

No More Maybe

Now introducing...Global Baby!

Born: Monday, 22 September at 2:30 pm
Weight: 8 bs 5 oz
Length: 20 1/4 in

He is beautiful and healthy and just finished 92 ml of formula, so I hope he will let me sleep for 3-4 hours until his next feeding. He is also peeing and pooping like an old pro and bypassed burping for enormous belches that practically make the windows rattle!

All adoption placement paperwork has been signed and we are officially on probation as parents. The adoption will be finalized in 6 months, after 2 visits from a US social worker (based in Southern Germany), several well-baby visit reports from our pediatrician and an appearance in Bexar County Family Court.

GLH and I are unbelievably happy!

Note: The internet access at the hotel is too slow and will not allow me to post a photo on the blog. Photos to follow after we reach Minnesota and have access to faster internet!

20 September 2008

Just Plain Wrong

I could not let this go by without commenting on it.

I love my country and consider myself to be a patriotic American, but no place is perfect. In my opinion, this is an example of what is very, very wrong.

In a shop here in San Antonio we saw a rack of t-shirts for supporters of Sarah Palin. One of the t-shirts read: "Vote for the MILF!"

None of the t-shirts even mentioned John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate and her running mate.

If you don't know what MILH means, google it. I don't use that kind of language in my blog.

Now it is bedtime. We'd better get as much sleep as we can, while we still can...

17 September 2008


The house is clean. Our bags are packed. Our flight leaves painfully early tomorrow morning. We are as ready as we are going to be.

Hopefully the next time I blog it will be to announce our Maybe Baby is no longer a "maybe," but our adopted son.

15 September 2008

Too Funny

Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton spoof from Saturday Night Live:

14 September 2008

Birdy, Birdy

Birdy, Birdy, in the sky
Drop some whitewash in my eye.
But I don't weep and I don't cry.
I thank the Lord that cows don't fly!

Today we met up with a friend and his two daughters at the Zoo. At some stage during the afternoon, all three of the adults were pooped upon by birds. (GLH even took a direct hit on his head!)

The girls thought this enormously funny. Couldn't understand exactly what they said (they speak only Swiss German), but I'm pretty sure I got the gist of it. Howling with laughter and pointing is the same in any language!

12 September 2008

Note to Self

When one is a week away from the birth of one's Maybe Baby, watching a television program in which most of the babies in the maternity ward come down with an unknown viral infection (including the death of one of the babies) is probably not a good thing.

And yet, once one has started, it is impossible to not finish. Because surely at some stage they figure out what it is and everything gets better. Right?

Additional Note to Self:
If a grandmotherly hospital volunteer comes by with a cart full of teddy bears for all the babies, make her go away. She may be not very good at washing her hands. Sweet though she may be, she is a walking germ factory...

11 September 2008

Wished I'd Thought of that Sooner...

I have spent the last two and a half days, and I do mean two full days and this morning, cleaning the shutters and the windows. I am now in a great deal of pain. My entire body hurts and I inadvertently grimace when I have to move.

It is times like these that I really wish we hadn't picked an apartment with floor to ceiling windows in every room. I mean, what were we thinking? Sure, it gives us great views of the lake and the mountains. But c'mon, how often do we stand gazing at the vista? Is it really worth it?

Which is why I wish I had thought of something sooner...

The hardest thing about cleaning the windows are the shutters. You need to wipe down each and every slat separately, top and bottom, and then clean the frame around them. There are lots of bits and pieces and even more nooks and crannies. It takes forever! The windows, on the other hand are a breeze. Wipe down with wet cloth, squeegee off and wipe down with a dry cloth.

Last night as I sat on the couch the windows in the living room seemed to be mocking me. See, I left the living room until last because it's the part I dread the most. An entire wall of floor to ceiling windows with shutters that are in a track and raise up and down. (Instead of all the other windows which have the metal shutters that swing open and are slightly easier to clean.) The windows seemed to be chanting "You still have to do us." And I knew that just cleaning those shutters would take nearly the entire day.

Then it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps I could use the hose. Because we have the garden level apartment, we have a garden. Which happens to come with an outdoor spout and a hose. Made me wonder if I could hose off the shutters and windows really well and get most of the dirt off before I started to wipe.

It worked great! I managed to do the shutters in about 90 minutes! I first power-washed them with the hose and then a quick wipe with a cloth and they were done. After they were dry, washing the windows only took another 30 minutes. I was done by lunchtime!

I was thrilled to have come up with this idea, but wished I had thought of it two days earlier. (Or two years earlier!) Would have made the entire job so much faster. And perhaps I would not now be sitting in pain and popping Advil like candy. But such is life.

At least I know this is how I will clean the windows from here out!

Now I just need to figure out how to manage this with a baby.

Next spring I think GLH will have to become involved with the process...

06 September 2008

Sleepless in Switzerland

Earlier today I was telling someone that I don't think I will be able to sleep again until after the baby is in our arms and all necessary adoption paperwork has been signed.

Then I realized how ridiculous that was. How many parents of newborns are well-rested?

05 September 2008

Making a Difference

Our adoption process has been an eye-opening experience for us. The fact of the matter is that while the adoption for us is joyful, on the other side of an adoption there are tears and loss.

Adoptions happen for a variety of reasons ranging from a lack of resources to unfortunate circumstances to, frequently, the death of one or both birth parents. In many cases, the circumstances leading to a child becoming available for adoption could have been avoided through increased access to health care, education, employment opportunities or community resources.

Many people believe that these issues only happen in developing nations. While it is true that many of the adoptions originate in impoverished areas of the world, a lack of resources can exist in any country.

But there are ways to help. GLH and I have always contributed a percentage of our income to charitable organizations, but have now decided to focus our giving on those organizations which help families and children in the United States and around the world.

If others would also like to explore ways of making a difference, I have compiled a list of reputable organizations you may wish to consider. And hey, your contribution would also be also tax-deductible! (At least for US citizens. Not sure how it works for citizens of other countries.)

A private, charitable US organization assisting Africa, it is also the oldest and largest African-American led organization in the field. Africare programs are in the following areas: health and HIV/AIDS, food security and agriculture, water resource development, environmental management, literacy and vocational training, microenterprise developement, civil society development, governance and emergency response.

The largest and oldest youth mentoring program in the United States whose mission is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with mentors that have a measurable impact on youth.

An international medical humanitarian organization based in France which provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.

An international organization supporting the efforts of women's groups around the world to fight social injustice and advance the international women's movement. By helping women to better their lives, you are helping children, families and entire communities.

US-based, international organization providing women, men and adolescents throughout the world with access to quality family planning and reproductive health information and services. Pathfinder works to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS, to provide care to women suffering through the complications of unsafe abortions, and to advocate for sound reproductive health in the US and abroad.

RIF is the oldest and largest children's and family nonprofit literacy organization in the United States. RIF's highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth through age 8. Through community volunteers in every state and US territory, RIF provides 4.5 million children with 16 million new, free books and literacy resources every year.

US-based organization which works to create real and lasting change in the lives of children in the United States and around the world.

One of the largest and best known international organizations working around the world to help children survive and develop, improve their educational opportunities, protect them from violence and promote gender equality.

03 September 2008

Super Dry

After we were told our Maybe Baby would be a boy, GLH decided this was current favorite commercial:

What do you think?

Going Green

I'm going to use up the remainder of my cleaning products and then stop purchasing them. Instead, I will be purchasing natural materials and making my own cleaning products.

I could probably let people think that it is because I am such a good person and so concerned about the environment, but that's not actually why.

Don't get me wrong. I am concerned about the environment. And we do recycling, frequently take public transportation instead of driving and do many other things that do help reduce the impact on the environment.

But believe me when I say that I will be doing disposable diapers all the way as I am not inclined to deal with the mounds of dirty cloth diapers or pay the enormous sum for someone else to deal with them. Not to mention the air conditioner that is humming away in the corner of the room even as I write. (It's warm and muggy today...)

No, I am going green in the cleaning area because I cannot get my preferred cleaning supplies here (Clorox Bleach, Bounce Dryer Sheets, Endust, etc.) and the products they do have to replace them just plain don't work as well thereby making me work harder with fewer results.

Want to know what works? Vinegar. Yep, plain old white vinegar. Available from Migros Budget at only 1,50 CHF per bottle. A fraction of the cost of the much more expensive cleaning products.

I've posted before about how I had learned to use vinegar to deal with the hard water and resulting calc deposits in the bathrooms and kitchen. But I have since learned the usefulness of vinegar goes so much further.

Need your whites to be whiter and your brights to be brighter? Half a cup of vinegar along with your detergent at the beginning of the cycle and your whites will be as bright as with bleach. (NOTE: if you have been without bleach for a while, you may need to soak white clothes in hot water and lemon juice to get them back to white faster.)

You can also put an additional half a cup of vinegar in the final rinse to soften the clothes, thereby replacing the need for Bounce Dryer Sheets.

Don't worry, the vinegar smell goes away when the clothes are dry.

Cannot find dusting spray and a damp rag doesn't quite do it with the dust? Combine 1 tsp olive oil and half a cup of vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray on dusting cloth to pick up dust and help to repel it for a couple of weeks. Reapply as necessary.

Wood furniture needs a polish? 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 cup of water. Wipe on with a damp cloth and buff with a dry cloth to give it a good gloss.

Sink needs scouring? Combine equal parts baking soda and vinegar into a paste and scrub away. (This one is a bit more expensive as baking soda is sold in little packets at great cost. But you can also try sprinkling sea salt and then using half a lemon as a scouring pad.)

Microwave has dried food stains and a funky smell? Combine equals parts water and vinegar in a bowl, place it in microwave and heat until it boils. Then wipe interior with a damp cloth.

The list goes on and on.

Not only is it cheap, easy and effective, but it is also much better for the environment. So you can even feel all good and self-righteous on top of it all.

One Final Tip: Vinegar should never be used on marble surfaces. The acidity of the vinegar can create pock marks in the marble.

02 September 2008

Voting from Abroad

Since GLH and I will hopefully be in Minnesota for the US Presidential election (assuming all goes as planned with the adoption), we will not be home when our mailed ballots arrive.

So I did a bit of research and discovered the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

As long as you are registered to vote, even if you do not receive your ballot in the mail you can still print one and send it in.

You can also register to vote via absentee ballot and locate your voting district. You must register to vote at least 45 days before a federal election. As of today, the election is 63 days away.

Pass this link along to other US Citizens living abroad!