Saturday, April 26, 2008

18 months

My baby girl is now a year and a half! It’s hard to believe that one year ago today we received the long-awaited call alerting us that it was finally time to meet Reagan in person. At the time she was still such a baby, and although she still fits into many of her 3-6 month old outfits, Reagan is quickly becoming a little girl. She can run, dance and hold her own in family wrestling/tickling matches. She is developing and learning to assert her will (and, fortunately, also learning the meaning of the word “no”). She’s talking more and more every day and tries to mimic every sound we make. I won’t bore you with the list of words that she can “say”, but it is this point that amazes me more than any other. The girl missed out on 6 ½ months of English-language development and yet she is still right on track – even ahead of her peers!
I continue to marvel at God’s protection of and provision for our little girl during the time we were half a world apart. Reagan has not been the least bit behind on any developmental milestone, and I think a great deal of the credit for that goes to the women God set to physically love and care for her before we were able. The other day I caught a glimpse of Reagan’s primary nanny in the background of a photo on another adoptive-mom’s blog and it brought a tear to my eye. On the surface the nanny seemed to be a rather unhappy, even somewhat cold, woman, but she lit up when she was interacting with Reagan – laughing, kissing her, making her giggle. By the third day of our visits to the orphanage, we finally realized that she was desperately trying to hold her emotions in check. She seemed to be dreading the moment she would have to say good-bye to the baby she had cared for since day 2, and the closer that moment got, the more she shut down. She waited until the last possible second to hand Reagan to me, and even then she was reluctant to let her go. Needless to say, that made for a very emotional morning, but I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to see God’s answer to my prayers. I continue to pray for those ladies, Luc in particular, and hope that someday Reagan will also get the opportunity to thank the women that helped shape the beautiful runner-dancer-talker we are enjoying a year later.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

If they'd only known

Part of the fun of packing is reliving all the memories associated with those items that have been tucked away in closets for the past months or years. Of course, it also increases the time associated with the process, but who can resist flipping through a photo album from old camp counselor days? The other day Alyssa sat down with me and one of her favorite memory books: my "School Days" album. You know, the type where you write down favorites from each year of school, paste copies of those dreaded institutional portraits, and stash dozens of report cards. As I looked through my pre-school progress report, we all got a good laugh over one very prophetic comment. In the margin next to my score from some group activity a teacher had written: "Laura cannot be persuaded into doing anything she does not want to do." If only my parents had known just how insightful that instructor was! My mom thinks it might have been more appropriate to have written "she cannot be pursuaded to do anything she does not see the point in doing" but either way - she was spot on! I appreciate my mom's attempts to soften the truth in my favor, but I'm afraid that I'm still very much the kind of girl that cannot be persuaded into much!

Friday, April 18, 2008

My bé

As we approach one year home with Reagan, I marvel at how she is simultaneously both so very American and so very Vietnamese. She obviously looks Asian, but I’m always tickled by the other ways her ethnicity manifests itself. Her little voice forms a hard “A” sound easier than the Caucasian babies I’ve known, she’s still so tiny that people are constantly amazed to see that she walks, her hands – and especially her fingernails – are incredibly delicate, her nose is a little more challenging to squeeze (though according to my Vietnamese nail lady, she has a good, “tall” nose!), her hair is so dark, shiny, and straight… but my very favorite is the way she squats. She moves so effortlessly in and out of this position! There is nothing comfortable about squatting to me, but she can play like this indefinitely. Her hips just must rotate out differently than mine. It’s clearly not something she was taught, because she wasn’t even sitting when we brought her home, but something in her nature that she shares with those of her beautiful first home country. To me it is just the cutest thing, and it brings a smile to my face every time I see my sweet baby squatting like the beautiful Vietnamese girl that she is!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Even better than we’d hoped

As He seems to have a habit of doing, God has surprised us with a new home that is even more perfect than the one we had been dreaming about!
This last weekend Dan and I were looking at an aerial map of the neighborhood in which we’ve been searching for homes. For the first time we noticed a group of houses that had unusually large yards and remarked to each other about how incredible they were. We also determined they must be incredibly expensive and didn’t really give it another thought. Then on Monday morning I received my daily e-mail of all new listings in our city. As only God would have it, the home at the top of the list sat on one of those very lots! There were no pictures of the interior, but since it was well within our price range and square-footage requirements, we quickly went out to take a look. I fully expected it to be torn apart inside and in need of serious fixing-up money, but it was beautiful! It was the same floor plan as another house we put an offer on when we sold ours a few weeks ago, but it has every upgrade in the book, including a huge bonus room over the garage. I called Dan and told him we could put an offer on it without him even seeing it – it was that fabulous! Oh, and the yard was even better on the ground than in it looked from the air. It had a pool & spa, and then another 75 feet of flat grass before sloping steeply down to another residental street. I know that a quarter-acre is nothing in most parts of the country, but I’m telling you: to this Southern Californian it looked HUGE! Anyway, we brought Dan back to look at it Monday night, he of course loved it too, and we wrote an offer. But wait, you say, I didn’t think you had sold your home yet. Well, that was true up until about an hour after we determined to buy this one! God graciously provided a buyer for us at just the right time, and at a price we can live with. Is that amazing or what?! I’m still pinching myself that, Lord willing, we are actually going to live in that home! It is just so much better than I ever could have hoped. It’s closer to my in-laws, just a few minutes further to my family, in a great school district, on a cul-de-sac, with a view, and did I mention the pool? Parker was concerned that the current owners might be taking the (in ground) pool with them – I think he’s been a little confused and disappointed by the homes we’ve seen with backyard playsets that are not included. Needless to say, I think we’re going to have at least a couple of shrived-up kids by the end of summer! Can you tell we’re all excited?
It’s always so amazing to me how God answers our prayers in ways that we couldn’t have even imagined. We started this process with our eyes set on the house up the street, which now pales in comparison to this one. When it sold we were disappointed, but trusted that if God had something better, He would make it clear. That continued to be my prayer when our house fell out of escrow a few weeks ago. If that buyer had not decided to move to New Mexico, we would have probably settled on another far-less-incredible home – for more money! An odd coincidence is that the family we’re buying from is also moving to New Mexico. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor? Now He seems to be allowing us to have a home we can stretch out in and enjoy for the rest of our lives. I couldn’t bring myself to even ask for such a home because even our current, lovely house is so much more than we deserve. But He continually proves Himself to be gracious beyond all measure!
So much for "normal"!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Back to "normal"

School’s in session, tax season is past, the course I teach is nearly over, and life is starting to feel a little more normal. I’m even caught up on sleep thanks to a self-imposed weekend bedtime of 9pm. So here I am, back in the blogging world. I’m more than a little surprised that any of you are still here, but my Sitemeter tells me that at least a few of you have stuck it out through my unofficial hiatus. Thanks!
Having Alyssa home for two weeks was such a treat! Even though we stuck pretty close to home we enjoyed a day at Disneyland (no pics, sorry), a lot of long bike rides (the big kids are up to 2 ½ miles – Daddy runs alongside while Reagan and I follow with the jogging stroller), swimming at the neighbor’s pool, a couple of sleepovers at grandparents’ houses, and just hanging out. Once Parker adjusted to sharing me with a vocal sibling he loved having Alyssa here! Today he started cheering when he realized it was time to go pick her up, and went on and on about how much he loves spring break. Alyssa was excited to go back to school, but he and I are counting down the weeks until summer!

One of our favorite activites: snuggling in bed!