Wednesday, July 15, 2015

She turns 4

We can hardly believe you're turning four, Kavya. We want to be able to look back and remember the daily details about you at this age . . .

You are such a sparkplug! You are FAST. People who see you run always comment about it, and about how tired your Daddy and I must be. (Yeah, that never gets old.) You can also climb an amazing variety of things -- and you can slide down the big fire fighter pole at our neighborhood park. You are a little stuntgirl, turning aerial somersaults between chairs, while holding our hands, and even in a grocery cart!

You know the alphabet by sight, and can tell us words that begin with each letter. The people you love are very important to you, so A is always for Anya and Aaron, N is for Nathan, M and D are for Mama and Daddy, R is for Rowan, I is for Isaiah, Q is for Quinn, L is for Leah, Lochlan and Liam, H is for Henry, G is for Grandma and Grandpapa, T is for Tina, J is for Jesus, and the list goes on!

Favorite foods are strawberries, yogurt, milk, mandarin oranges, pepperoni, hot dogs, chicken, chocolate . . . and you are branching out with some new things, such as fresh pineapple and homemade turkey burgers. You are still leery of some textures, including cake and other dry, crumbly things. You go to group OT to learn to accept more foods, and you adore your therapist Miss Erin.

You love being read to, and recently started "reading" books to your favorite stuffed animal, Tiger. Tiger, Pupoo, and your Hippo Duckie are your best stuffed friends, and you must have your flower blankie to sleep well. You still nap sometimes (if we have evening plans), in the big girl bed (which you call the "good girl bed"). You often begin the night in your bedroom with Anya, and come toddling into our room in the wee hours, where you sleep in our sidecar crib next to Mama.

Your favorite bedtime songs are Blackbird, The Star Spangled Banner, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Jesus Loves Me (with motions), Amazing Grace (sung by Daddy), I've Been Working on the Railroad, On the Day You Were Born, This Land is Your Land, and Rockabye Baby. You still like to be rocked if you're having trouble settling down.

You are still a tiny girl -- you're just over three feet tall, and weigh about 24.5 pounds. But you are mighty in spirit and sense of humor.  Right now, you will laugh really hard at our fish alphabet book when we get to the letter H, which stands for humu-humu-nuku-nuku-apua, the Hawaiian name for a triggerfish. You also love pretend pratfalls and slapstick-type humor, and you know how to tease people.

You are so smart! When we're driving, you know which streets we're supposed to take to go home, and which turn-off to take to go to grandma's and grandpa's house. You also know whose laundry is whose when I'm folding clothes, and where items belong in the kitchen (your teen brothers could take a few lessons from you!).

You've been in gymnastics for a month, and it's hysterical to watch you bounce and fidget while you wait your turn. You've made great strides already in patience and focus; after four weeks, you don't veer off and dive into the foam pit like you did the first day! You are a gifted and strong little girl, and we often wonder what sports you will enjoy as you grow.

You adore your big brothers and sisters, and they are very good at joining you in playing Lego Duplos and scootering or riding your training wheel bike around the block. You love to go get them from school or friends' houses, and you miss them when they're away.

You LOVE being outside, going to the park, climbing the lowest crab apple tree at the park, using PlayDoh, painting, using sidewalk chalk, playing in water, and generally anything active. You love "Skunday School" and going to the YMCA drop-in center one day a week. You are a social creature, and love playing with our neighbor friends Talia and Isaiah, and the Murphy boys and the Hammertons. You adore your aunt Alicia, D'Nardo and Henry, and ask often when we will visit them.

You are such an affectionate little girl -- you love babies and other kids, and one of the best feelings in the world is your tiny arms wrapped around my neck. I'm secretly glad that you're tiny, since it means I can still carry you. You're my last baby, and I'm relishing so many things that I know are "lasts" in my mothering career.

We remain so profoundly aware of what a blessing you are to us. We think often of the complicated factors that brought our lives together, and your birthday inevitably brings thoughts of your birth parents. I keep praying that our family updates and photos are stored at your former orphanage, and that someday your birth mother and father will come to ask where you are now. We pray for them and their circumstances, and our joy in you sometimes feels poignant as we think of all the things they're missing. You are so precious and unique and lovely -- and such a funny little firecracker too! As your future unfolds, we feel the privilege and honor it is to have you for our daughter.

Happy fourth birthday, dear Kavya. We love you so much.

You with your beloved caretaker, Sumi, on the second day we met you.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The first year of forever

Today was a bitterly cold day in our city, and it is a frigid -1 (Fahrenheit) as I type this.

But last year -- last year was warm. Not here, where the polar vortex was in full swing. But in a little city outside Bangalore, India, it was in the 80s. In that little city, our hearts were also warmed by the sight of this little face:

It seems impossible, but somehow, we have spent an entire year together already! In many ways, our memories of those first moments and days are so fresh: we remember that you were sleepy after your nap, that you went to Peter first, and that you were afraid. We remember how tiny you were, how impossibly light you felt when you let us hold you. We remember the first smile you showed us, when we set your duck on a shelf and so you could knock it off over and over again.

And in some ways, we can tell it has been a full year.  There are physical signs, like the fact that you've grown almost 4 inches, and gained 5 pounds. There are audible signs, like your vocabulary of hundreds of English words, the way you try to boss your sister and brothers around, and the way you laugh at your own jokes (right now, you think the word "bottom" is hysterically funny).

But we can especially tell it's been a whole year by the light in your eyes, and the way you relax and rest your head on a shoulder when any one of your family holds you. We can tell by the way you claim us by declaring who we are, often: "Kavya's mama." "Kavya's akka/sister." "Kavya's daddy." "Kavya's anna/brother." There is no question mark at the end of those phrases -- they are a statement of fact for you, and for us.  You have grown deeply into our hearts and into the fabric of our family.

It is brings a pang to look at photos and see how bewildered you were in our first days together. And I am so humbled by your willingness to give us a chance, to begin trusting us in an impossibly short time.  What courage you've had in your short life, Kavya. You've endured so much -- being separated from your first mother, suffering illness and surgery as a baby, and then being plucked from your familiar world and transplanted into a new home.

And then you showed us how resilient and strong you are by thriving in the midst of so many changes.

You are one of our richest blessings. We are grateful for this first year together, the first year of forever.