Thursday, February 24, 2011

"fine!" she says...

"fine!" she says.  yep, that's bella's new word of the week. "fine!"  imagine all 22 pounds of her emphatically declaring this four letter word.  imagine the foot stomp.  imagine the tilt of her head and the challenge in her eyes.  "fine!"  little miss sassy pants has caught me off guard just a bit.  i mean it's not as if i haven't heard this word  from my teenage or tween-age daughters.  i've heard it.  i've addressed it.  i've even been quite masterful in saying it myself.  but to hear it from my itty bitty girl who is only just starting to really speak took me by surprise.   i suppose it shouldn't.  bella is repeating absolutely everything we say.  the good and, unfortunately, the bad.  i am amazed how quickly she is picking up on the nuances of our speech...our words...our tone.  but even back in july, we knew immediately we had a clever girl on our hands.  the very day we met her we had evidence.  after leaving the civil affairs office in china and boarding our bus she insisted on sitting next to me.  not on my lap.  but next to me. she was very clear on this.  while the other children in our group were clinging to their new parents in fear or tears, miss bella was playing her own version of peek-a-boo with me. giggling with me.  giggling with a stranger.  i am so thankful for that bus ride back to the hotel.  i had anticipated such a range of emotion...we prepared for the terror and horror and roller-coaster ride of that day....but what we truly experienced was this magical, little, elf-like girl who immediately showed us her whitty, whimsical side.

 just this morning, over a bowl of rice krispies, she cocked her head sideways and looked at me out of the corner of her eyes.  as if to size me up. as if she had a clever retort balanced on the tip of her tongue.  and i could just about see the wheels inside turning. turning. turning.  even six months later i am still amazed at how perfectly bella fits into our family.  we are a family who loves a healthy dose of laughter...teasing...tricking.  even this little bit of sass works.  i mean i know i have to nip that right in the bud...and i will.  but i can't help but be a little bit tickled by it (for now).  i have to remind myself what is cute on a 3 year old can be plain dreadful on a 13 year old.  and so i will have put a stop to The Attitude.  but i have to tell you, i like her spunk.  i like her feisty little self.  i like how she holds her own.  she survived in an orphange of 3000 and she is thriving in a home of seven.    don't get me wrong, she is as sweet as they come.  absoluteley delicious!  but she has within her a fighter spirit.  maybe it was her fight to survive in the first couple of years with a failing heart.  maybe it was her fight to survive in an orphanage for two years.  maybe it is just how God created her.  i'll never know for certain.  but for me it is fine.  it is just fine.  it is very fine.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

happy birthday!

dearest bella,  today you turned three.  it was a special day.  it was your day.  three years ago  you entered the world.  you were born to a woman in a land far away.  in a small village?  in a big city?  in the tiny backroom of a house?  or behind the sterile curtain of a hospital?  i have no way of knowing. i wasn't there.  i didn't hear your first cry.  i never gazed into your newborn eyes. i wasn't there.  but i can imagine.  and bella, my darling girl,  i am here now.  i am here always.  i wasn't there for your arrival, but i am here for your journey and i will never stop telling you there was no mistake in it.  God planned you from before time.  God wrote the story of your birth, your abandonment, your adoption and your life with us.  He didn't leave out one detail.  He didn't mess up any part.  it is the story He composed for you before you were even you.   and we celebrate it today.  we celebrate the beauty and the goodness and grace that God has bestowed so richly on you...on us.  we celebrate the block towers you build, the pages you color and the juice you spill.  we celebrate the bubbles you blow and the babydolls you carry and even the tantrums you throw. we celebrate the tight hugs you give, the sloppy kisses you offer and the way you reach for our hands to hold.  we celebrate the light in your eyes and the joy in your step and the sound of your laugh.   we celebrate you bella.  this is your day.

funny thing is not entirely your own day.  because like any fifth child in a big family, as special as you are, you are, indeed, one of many.  and you must learn to share.  you must learn to share even your birthday.  how funny it is to me that you and your oldest sister have the same birthday.  i think that is perfect.   i am not saying it has been perfectly easy to plan.  celebrating a 15 year old and and a 3 year old on the same day has required a little creativity.  but nonetheless, it has been a day large with celebration.    both of you girls are such lovely gifts.  emily's birth 15 years ago marked the beginning of our journey into parenthood.  i could never have guessed what these 15 years would hold:  three more births and your adoption...and here you all are!  some days i am breathless with it all.  some days i am overwhelmed with it all...but every day i am thankful.  so thankful.  i know that with each of your arrivals has come both great responsibility and great blessing.   my mother's prayer is to be fully aware and fully faithful to both.

so today we celebrate.  we celebrate our two dark eyed beauties...our teen and our toddler....our first and our last (?).  we celebrate the gift of life and the giver of life and you two joyful livers of life.  we celebrate your births - as different as they were.  we celebrate your lives.  happy birthday emily and bella!