WOW, it really was six months ago that we entered the Kunming Civil Affairs Office and saw Baby S for the first time. And what an incredible six months we have been blessed to experience. As expected, our lives have changed significantly since but in a positive manner. As much as we like to make fun of her stubbornness, it is her capacity to love and her happy go lucky nature that floors us on a daily basis. The last times our lives were impacted in the same manner were when we became a family and when JJ survived a PE. She truly makes us very happy.
One of the first things we noticed in China was Baby S's capacity for empathy. Whenever she heard a child cry, she would immediately search for the source and smile or reach out to the child. True, big freaking deal as she spent 15 months in a SWI, but she is the same today. On the occasions that I have cried from happiness, she also has become upset.
We had such an occasion this morning as Baby S and I were in the shower. She saw me doing something that she's seen me do for the last six months, shaving my legs (shut up, I am anal about it and do it daily). As I placed my right foot on the tub's edge, Baby S placed her hand under her knee and lifted her left leg, placing her foot on the tub's edge. She made sure that her toes were touching mine, looked up at me and gave me the most amazing smile. G-d knows that my greatest fear is my children (or anyone else for that matter) imitating my actions, but that little gesture warmed my heart and made my day. Baby S was so proud of herself and I could not help but cry. It gets worse, I also cried when I told P about it this afternoon. This child has broken me to the point that my eyes leak for no gosh darn reason (hey, I got a reputation as Evil Incarnate and The Forces from Hell to protect).
As you can see by the picture above, we took Baby S to a very exclusive place for lunch to celebrate such a milestone. We did learn that she likes peaches and cottage cheese and as usual Baby S got quite a lot of attention. This usually happens because she can be heard screaming throughout the store, but today it was enhanced by her squeaky shoes. Mental note: K, if you really do not want to be stared, pointed at or have people approach you, leave the squeaky shoes at home or at least remove the squeaker.
After lunch Baby S and I went shopping, and she had a HUGE meltdown at T@rget. I had to carry her around the store (we are very strict about having her sit in the cart) to get her to stop crying. I was able to find a cute lavender snow bib and it matches the jacket that Baba bought for her when he visited his grandmother in January 2006. I know that is when we were LID, our mental illness is a long standing problem. That jacket holds sentimental value because P videotaped himself talking to Baby S outside his grandmother's building. It was snowing and P was showing snow to Baby S for the first time (crazy I tell you). The funny thing is that P was wearing jeans and a short sleeve shirt, while telling Baby S about the jacket he bought for her and how she must always dress warm in that kind of weather. It is our first documented instance of "do as say not as I do," and we have had quite a few laughs about it over the past two years. Come on, this is going to be GOLD in the future for Baby S.
At the register, the cashier was a very friendly young man who was talking baby talk to Baby S. When he rang the bib he pointed at Baby S and asked, "Is this for her?" I responded yes and he exclaimed, "Your daughter knows how to ski?" I said he was friendly not a rocket scientist. Got to tell you, it was very difficult to refrain from replying, "Yes, you should see her doing the Giant Slalom." But, since I'm working on that trying to get into heaven thing, I simply told him that it is for snow play and possibly being carried on her Mama's back during a cross country trek. He seemed relieved and stated, "Good, because I am 22 and can't ski worth sh*t, so I was feeling pretty dumb for a minute there." I am happy to inform you that his friendliness, ease with children and looks might prevent him from being selected out. Heh, my daughter, the Giant Slalom queen.
The two pictures above were taken at our next stop, a toy store that is closing soon. Too bad because they have some neat stuff like Rody, the red creature with Baby S. The purpose of Rody is to allow toddlers to have a soft ride on toy. In the first picture, Baby S is applauding herself about bouncing on Rody and dismounting on her own.
Then that stubborn streak took over Baby S and reminded me why she is so amazing. She decided that she was going to pick up Rody, quite the task given its size and weight (and HER size and weight). She tried several times, gathering the attention of the sales clerks and the other two customers there. I tried to redirect her several times, but Baby S was hyper focused on prevailing. She squatted, placed her arms around Rody, grunted like an Olympic weight lifter and beamed as she picked him up. Much to my chagrin, she received a lot of kudos from the onlookers. Baby S placed the toy down, applauded and said "Good girl!"
One sales clerk asked me Baby S's weight and was very surprised that she pulled it off. She told me, "Your daughter is very determined, I feel sorry for you and your husband, you know, in the future." I told her that she could start feeling sorry for us right now as she is wiping the floor with our sorry arses.
The tongue, sigh. As I have mentioned before, Baby S's tongue is rather large for such a small person and she LOVES to stick it out all the time. The pictures above were taken New Year's eve and she is wearing an outfit that her Nana sent. It's really cute and the kicker is that the blouse has the inscription "I love Spring." Instead, I ended up with this. The pictures do capture Baby S's quirky and funny sides.
Baby S laughs a lot and people usually comment on how happy she is. Not sure that she gets the happiness concept but we believe that she is settling home and it appears that our screw ups have not dampened her faith in our parenting. Which, she should, you know, really question. There has not been a day in the last six months that she has not smiled/laughed or make us do the same.
Baby S's first laugh with us happened as we were about to leave the hotel on Family Day. Remember how we were "offered" the opportunity to finalize the adoption in a few hours? It was actually 45 minutes. We were not only nervous, excited, stunned and tired, but also pressed for time. My decision to give Baby S a bath, albeit a quick one, was a really lame one. I asked P to please open the can of formula while I dressed Baby S. When he did, the freaking thing popped (probably from the pressure, we had just landed) and P found himself covered with the powder and NO time to change (but he was able to dust himself off) . The powder was also over the sink, the carpet and our suitcases. As P is refraining from cussing we heard her, we heard her laugh! OMG, the sweetest, most melodic, heart warming laugh since JJ's. She thought her Baba was funny. Although we both knew that the really hard part of our journey to Baby S had just begun, we also knew that it would be OK. Baby S is the perfect compliment to JJ, a little sister to carry on his well honed craft of making fun of us. And that was without his loving guidance. Dude, we are dreading our old age.
Not everything has been roses, puppy dogs, eternal bliss and unprecedented harmony. Parenting is not easy and when you add the whole International Adoption angle, well, it is a rocky road. But one that if given the opportunity we will travel again without second's hesitation.
This post is not only too long but boring as heck. Thankfully, Abuela is the only person who reads this blog so I don't feel too bad about boring her to sleep. My posts are the sure fix to insomnia. :) Anyhoo, I will be addressing the sleeping, eating and other adjustment issues in detail later. For now, Baby S has fully transitioned into her crib, although we have decided to have her fall asleep with us most of the time for bonding purposes. I admire P for waiting so long and making sure that Baby S was truly ready to sleep on her own. The guy took a lot of flak about this and I am so proud that he followed his instincts. Baby, you have no idea how your easy going nature about this made all the difference.
Baby S has considerably decreased her food intake and it is driving us mad. To be honest, P is more upset than I am and just can't let go. She really needs to gain weight. I am a hypocrite because after JJ I maintained that I would not engage in the food wars again. JJ was doing just fine until in my ignorance (he was really skinny at that point) I turned him from a healthy eater (only ate when he was hungry) into a social eater. Sadly, coupled with ill advised medication, it became a problem for my once healthy and fit baby boy. However, Baby S is a completely different child and she is really underweight and was undernourished when we met. Baby S's doctor is satisfied with her development and maybe this is more about our need to make things better to make up for the 15 months that our precious baby girl was not getting the nutrition she needed and deserved. Like the sleep issue, we know that it will be resolved.