A year ago yesterday, we were handed a little girl, bundled up in about 5 layers of clothes. We were already in love with her; it took her a little longer… within a matter of seconds, she started screaming and didn’t stop for several hours until, exhausted, she fell asleep on my chest in our hotel room in China. Our lives haven’t been the same since.
What a difference a year makes. Those first few days were tough for all of us (and probably tough for the people in the hotel rooms near ours!), but bolstered by the prayers of friends and family, we all survived. She is still a very “spirited” young lady, and there are many aspects of that strong will and personality that we started getting to know a year ago that show through every day. She has grown in every aspect of her development, and that growth has been matched only by the growth of our love for her.
We celebrated “Gotcha Day” with my parents this past weekend; we celebrate this incredible gift we have been given every single day.
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.
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…
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 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 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.
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…
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…
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?”