One year ago today, Deb and Ian and I boarded a plane that took us to a plane that took us to a plane that took us to a plane that brought us to Li so that we could bring her home. Tomorrow morning, I will board a plane that will take me to a plane that will take me to a plane that will bring me home… to Deb and Ian and Li.

I have a hard time believing that we are closing in on the end of our first full year together. I’ve been in DC this week, heading for home early tomorrow morning, and it has been harder than usual to be away from family this week.

First(s) of March

Li enjoying the spring's first trip to the swings (March 2009)
Li enjoying the spring's first trip to the swings (March 2009)

Yesterday was the first day of March, and we noted several firsts worth (at least to us) recording here:

  • It was the first weekend during this winter-to-spring transition with weather conducive to being outside. We spent a couple hours on Saturday working and playing in the snow in the backyard (pruning our Dr. Seuss tree and digging out the patio from the accumulated snow and ice from the winter). It was wonderful just to be outside in the sunshine, even if it was still pretty cool.
  • Sunday was even nicer, so we walked over to the neighborhood school for some time playing on the swings and the slides. Li is significantly braver now on the playground toys than even just a few months ago, and had a blast just being outside.
  • This weekend marked the first time Li has referred to Deb as “Momma”. Until now, it has been “Ba”, but we’re clearly getting “m’s” in there now. Ian’s name is getting clearer, too, as part of this language explosion that started a couple weeks ago.

This month will also mark our first full year with Li, which is hard to believe. At this point last year, we were getting ready for long flight and the start of our life together…

Long Time Gone…

It has been a long time — over a month since Miss Li’s birthday — since I wrote anything here. Time for an update… OK, long overdue for an update…

So, what’s been keeping us busy, you might ask?

A few days after Li’s birthday, I came down with some sort of nasty stomach bug that kept me down and away from work (and almost everything else) for a full week. Much misery, but I’m grateful none of the rest of us came down with this (and I know the rest of us are even more grateful that whatever got me didn’t seem communicable).

Work has been more than hectic, between organizational changes, deadlines, deliverables, and missing a week. I’m glad January is now in our rear-view mirrors; February, although hectic, is beginning to feel like I’m beginning to be caught up. Probably just an illusion, I know.

Li at the piano (January 2009)
Li at the piano (January 2009)

Li is, generally speaking, continuing to do well. We’ve struggled recently with another stretch of about 10 days or so of sleep problems. Problems as in, when Li doesn’t sleep or doesn’t sleep well, neither do Deb or I. Those nights tend to lead to long brittle days for all of us. The past few days, however, have been much better and the good days, though, are really good… she’s growing, and her vocabulary is blossoming. She loves to play the piano, loves to draw, has taken to helping dry dishes and helping set the table for dinner (we’re trying to convince her to get Ian to help more often with these things, but so far it’s not working — but not because she isn’t trying). She has a “vacuum” that she uses to help clean the house — a cardboard wrapping paper tube that she walks around the house with, saying “baboo, baboo”. She seems to like to say “Yes!” with an emphatic nod (and despite being two, has not yet discovered the power of “No” yet — at least not the verbal version of “No”), and she says an emphatic “Amen!” at the end of our pre-meal prayer.

Ian, Li, and Fi share the job of drying dishes (January 2009)
Ian, Li, and Fi share the job of drying dishes (January 2009)

Ian got his driver’s license this past week, which is also milestone of sorts.

We’ve been doing a bit of reading over the past few weeks, as well. I’ve enjoyed “Pattern Recognition” and “Idoru”, both by William Gibson and both very good. I also enjoyed “The Eleventh Man” by Ivan Doig, and although it was good, I don’t feel like it was up to the extraordinary standard he set with his earlier works. I’m part way through “The Irregulars”, which is a biographical account of Roald Dahl’s involvement with the British intelligence community in the US during World War II. He’s always been an intriguing author: we’ve long loved some of his kid lit, and his adult stuff is so off-beat that it’s interesting to learn a little about the guy behind the BFG and other books. Deb has been doing some reading on the subject of “spirited children” given what we are continuing to see from Li, and there have been some valuable insights from that.

Soccer is starting to ramp up, which seems odd given our very wintry winter with no real sign of spring yet. Ian and I are headed to Las Vegas next weekend for a season-opening tournament this weekend, so the team has been doing a bit of fitness work and is playing in the indoor league, but we haven’t been able to train as a group. It will be an interesting start to the season, I’m thinking. Some of the politics surrounding youth soccer have reared their heads again this past week which continues to take a bit of the luster off the Beautiful Game, too… maybe more on that later, but probably not. Deb is also playing adult co-ed indoors these days — she’s actually off playing as I draft this post — and enjoying both the game and the social aspect of adult conversation. Probably says a great deal about life around our house these days.

A preview screenshot of the updated theme I'm working on for the blog.
A preview screenshot of the updated theme I'm working on for the blog.

All of that doesn’t leave much in the way of spare time. I’ve been doing a bit of tinkering on some technical stuff for an open source software project (which occupied most of what I might consider spare time available for geek stuff for the past 3 months), and I’ve also been working on a facelift for the blog. Here’s a preview at right, and with any luck I’ll have this in place in the next couple weeks (although these things have a way of taking much longer than I tend to think). My goals for this are a lightweight theme that’s reasonably attractive (particularly in light of who is creating it), fluid (enabling it to take better advantage of screen real estate — both large and small), standards compliant in its markup, and easy to maintain/tweak. It will take advantage of some of the capabilities of current browsers (things like rounded corners), will use jQuery for some subtle enhancements, and will (hopefully) degrade gracefully for those still forced to suffer with old broken technology like MSIE v6. OK, probably more than just two weeks, but it is coming…

Happy Birthday, Li!

Tuesday marked Li’s second birthday (her first with us). With it being so close to Christmas (and with Christmas extended out through early January with both Deb’s folks and my folks visiting over the holidays), we kept the birthday celebration pretty low key. The combination of Christmas, Ian home from school, me home from work, and company in the house has wreaked havoc on any sort of routine we’ve established and it has shown these past couple of weeks particularly in her sleep patterns (and in ours, as a result). So low key seemed a good thing. We had already decided that we will make a little bigger deal in celebrating “Gotcha Day” in a couple months…

Li celebrates her birthday with a bowl of ice cream; not green tea ice cream, but not bad!
Li celebrates her birthday with a bowl of ice cream; not green tea ice cream, but not bad!

Take-away Chinese for dinner, a couple of gifts (which after getting to celebrate Christmas three times in less than two weeks, she is now really good at unwrapping), and two (or “TWO!”, as she says it) lit candles in her ice cream. The look on her face was pretty funny as we sang “Happy Birthday” to her. I don’t know if she was thinking “Why are they singing to me?”, “What’s that noise they’re making?”, or “Why are there lit candles in my ice cream?”

Deb and Li check out a birthday present
Deb and Li check out a birthday present

Much to be Thankful For

Li enjoys a traditional Thanksgiving meal of... noodles, of course.
Li enjoys a traditional Thanksgiving meal of... noodles, of course.

It’s now almost two weeks since Thanksgiving, and I know I’m late in writing this but I’ve thought about it quite a bit of late… we have so much to be thankful for:

  • Dominating our thoughts and lives this year is the arrival of our daughter Li and the changes she has brought to almost every aspect of our lives. After nearly three years of waiting, her arrival in March of this year made all of the waiting worth it. We are so thankful that she is part of our family, that she arrived healthy and obviously loved and well cared for, and that she has begun adjusting to life with us.
  • We’re grateful for the love and support of friends and family as we have gone through major changes in our lives as her addition ripples in ever-widening circles. That love and support has shown in many ways including prayers for us while we were in China to get Li; getting to spend Thanksgiving with our friends Nick and Karie and their family where Li enjoyed the traditional Thanksgiving dinner of… noodles, of course; the seemingly never-ending bags of pink clothes from friends Chuck and Heather, knowing how much I like pink; watching Li with her grandparents.
  • We’re thankful that — not coincidentally, I am certain — she has started spending all night in her own bed beginning on the night before Thanksgiving. She’s still not sleeping all the way through the night (she’s only done it a couple of times, and it’s weird when she does) but having her sleep in her own bed means better rest for all of us.
  • We’re thankful for our church family and the support that we’ve received from so many people there as we’ve gone through this major adjustment, particularly from Mike.
  • We’re thankful for the opportunity to see the young man and big brother that Ian is growing into.
  • We’re thankful for having had the opportunity to travel together as a family to China, to spend almost three weeks there getting to see just a tiny bit of the culture and the people from where Li came, for having seen and heard and experienced just enough there to know that we will go back with Li someday when she is a little older and can understand better the path by which God brought us to her and vice versa.
  • We’re thankful and excited for our friend Cynthia and her husband Temo and their new life together and for finally getting to meet Temo on my last trip to DC in November.
Swim goggles are now mandatory attire for yogurt smoothies... who knew?
Swim goggles are now mandatory attire for consuming yogurt smoothies... who knew?

And the list goes on and on… we are truly blessed in so many ways. This year has been dominated by this little girl, this huge gift, and by the opportunity to welcome her into our family and to watch her grow and to realize how much we are growing, too. I don’t have any doubts that Christmas is going to be very special this year, too, as this little girl whose sense of humor is showing up more and more and whose sense of wonder at what goes on around her life each day grows gets to experience a very special time.

And, yes, those are swim goggles — deemed necessary attire by Li for consuming her pre-bedtime yogurt smoothie this evening… go figure.