Last night, while Mama was networking at a work-related event, Xiao Ya and I went off and had a lovely outdoor meal at a Vietnamese place in town. Kiddo powered her way through her share of a trio of different dishes using chopsticks, a fork and two spoons all by herself, without any mess or fuss. We talked, joked and laughed. It's like we've been doing this forever. Except we haven't.
Tomorrow marks 8 months since that frigid day in Changchun when we became a family. Our daughter's progress has been remarkable. She's learning new words and phrases, cracking jokes, and probably gained 5 inches, several shoe sizes and a couple of pounds. Neither Lindy nor I can remember exactly what we were doing with our time before we were parents, and none of the nightmare scenarios we read about in the adoption books have come to pass. She has still lived 80 percent of her life without us at this point,
What is Xiao Ya like as a person? She's tough, can hold her own among the bigger kids (though she's no longer the smallest in her class), and likes to be tossed around a bit, but will still ask to be fed, dressed or carried even though she can clearly do it herself. She's beginning to get into more complicated grammatical structure in her speech, such as, "Mama help Baba make dinner," and has lately actually substituted a pronoun or two instead of the "Ya Ya" that usually begins every sentence. ("Ya Ya shirt! Ya Ya spoon!")
She has a strong sense of the rules, even if she won't follow them all the time as no three-year-old does. Example: observing one of our cats nibbling Lindy's toes recently, she shouted, "Gitzo! No bite Mama ever ever!" She eats like a fiend when it's something familiar, refuses to admit she likes something new that we've made her try, and then keeps on eating. She is loving school and no longer pitches a fit when I drop her off in the morning, but regularly refuses to leave when Lindy picks her up. She has had good play dates with a few little friends, and holds her own with adults impressively, saying hello and shaking their hands. Lindy and I have had a couple of outings on our own, most recently this week, and Uncle Josh's rearing services have been slightly better received by his young charge each time.
Summer ultimately proved to be incredibly stressful on Planet R-H. With Josh new to town and working crushingly-long days in his program, and Lindy and me both having some new challenges in our own work, plus the whole parenting a toddler thing, we've had to pare back to all but the basics. There are some folks we haven't seen in awhile, some things around the house we haven't done, and we've eaten far too many meals outside the home of late. I've been telling folks it's all I can do to make sure we all leave the house fed, clothed and reasonably on time every day -- but I realize that's the struggle of every parent and every busy person besides. I do hope fall, with three weddings and two work trips notwithstanding, brings the chance to move a little higher on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as parents, and as people, than just the bottom level. I'm not expecting to have a self-actualizing three-year-old anytime soon, but I figure we can at least read her an extra book or two anyway.
On tap for the weekend: a play date, a birthday party for a six-year-old, and my first half-marathon.
I also want to give a shout-out (blog-out?) to our friends Kelly and Craig, who just today arrived in Addis Ababa to finish their adoption proceedings and bring their daughter home. They're a couple in Baltimore whom we met through our adoption agency awhile ago when we were in the Ethiopia program. After having been ready to parent Baby K for too long and to be parents in general for far longer, they'll be home in just a few days. We're thrilled beyond words for them.
So, who's ready for some pictures? Lindy and I have known about the Pouty Lip for several months and have occasionally had to excuse ourselves from the room to avoid bursting into laughter when the youngest R-H is taking something very seriously. So here is the first blog appearance for that. And of course, some more pictures with food.