Christmas Eve morning we found Miaya lining up Mommy's computer bag, a box of diapers, and Daddy's lunch box.
After some final adjustments, she declared with an air of satisfaction, "Choo Choo Train!"
And, took her seat to start her journey of the imaginatiuon.
Wow, does this girl love trains or what! That's a pretty good bit of creativity and imagination. And, there was NO coaching from the sidelines. In fact she built her train twice, and the second time we saw her starting construction and grabbed the camera.
It's Toby, Kim's niece's cat who will be staying with us for a while as her new apartment building does not allow pets. So, we will have a guest till she finishes school, and/or finds a place that allows pets. Nike is not too happy about the situation as he as been an "only"cat since we lost Diva shortly after returning from China a year and a half ago.
Toby is settling in pretty well, behaving well, and gets along wonderful with Miaya. They seem to chase each other around the house, and Miaya will lay on the floor and pet him. It looks like they are on the way to becoming good friends Sunday night Miaya was quite upset that Toby was heading down the basement steps, I think she thought Toby was supposed to stay with her. Of course it was bedtime for Miaya, so that probably made a difference too.
The protests from Nike are getting less, so far it's only been yelling at Toby, nothing physical, and probably in a few more days Nike will get used to the idea.
Well, I hate to think if it as luck, but a few days ago, we received an update from Great Wall China Adoptions, that they had received a batch of referrals from the CCAA. The cutoff date for this group of referrals was March 31, 2006. Our login date was January 12, 2006, and we received our referral on May 2, 2008. About 10 weeks have been crossed off the referral calendar in the 19 months since then. A pace that seems even more glacial than when we were waiting. This has no affect on us as we are out of that game, but we still feel for those holding their breath and hoping things will go faster.
Supposedly things should go faster after May 1, 2006 is crossed off, as the qualification rules changed then, and fewer families were eligible to apply to adopt from China. But the month of April '06 could be a long one to get through as so many people were hurrying to get dossiers in before the rules change took effect.
We waited nearly 2 1/2 years to get our referral, and to think that some people who were logged in a few weeks behind us have waited nearly FOUR years sure gives us reason to feel lucky, and blessed that we stood in line where we did. And to look at Miaya everyday gives us reason to feel doubly blessed to have been entrusted with such a wonderful little girl who brings light and joy to us as we watch her grow and learn.
Alright, it's a pretty young century, but still it's been many years since Iowa has had such a widespread storm. The whole state was involved and the statewide average was around 10 inches. Locally we had 14 to 16 inches. Four foot drifts were not uncommon in the area, as the winds on Wednesday blew 30 mph plus, with gusts near 50 mph.
We had a little outside time on Tuesday as the snowfall was beginning.
Heading down the hill to the mailbox.
Measuring the snow late Tuesday afternoon.
Yep, EIGHT inches so far! And, it's still got a long time to go.
Sort of looks like the Karst stone formations in Guangxi Province. Well, a little anyway.
In September,we went to a Simpson College football game in Indianola, Iowa to see Kim's nephew Alex play. Miaya wore her Jr. cheerleader outfit and had a great time cheering. It was a great afternoon, mild temperatures, and best of all, Simpson pulled out a narrow victory after a big early lead.
Miaya with cousins Ciara and Alex after the game.
After the game, it was on to West Des Moines for the Chinese Association's Mid Autumn Festival.
Where Miaya painted a lantern for the festival.
Then enjoyed some tasty chinese food.
And finished our time there watching the hot air balloons prepare for tethered rides, and a night glow.
We met a couple other China families and had a nice time.
It's quite a change from the girl we were handed that day in Nanning with the short wiry hair! She's had a few little trims to shape it, but it's not really been cut. A bit of clowning around left her hair fanned out on the carpet, and it was time to grab the camera.
We say it a lot, and I'm sure we will say it more in the future -- "She's growing up so fast!"
Yesterday we learned that flu shots were available, including the H1N1 at the local family home care clinic. As Kim could not get away from school, I took a long lunch hour to take her for the shots. Kim was there when I picked her up at daycare, and it was all good and go! The shots went very well, no tears at all, and Miaya didn't cry either! We celebrated with some plain doughnuts on the way back, and she munched right through hers. I was dreading the return to the daycare, but Miaya surprised me by marching right in the door and taking her coat off. We proceeded on to the classroom and had a happy parting.
Miaya surprises us a lot, from zipping her own coat to (sometimes) picking up her stuff with minimal prompting to - well - a lot of things. Not quite 2 1/2, but we find ourselves in wonderment at the things she does and says. New words appear almost daily, and they are getting clearer all the time. She walks more now, it's not always a frantic dash everywhere she goes. To think of the things she has learned and accomplished it just that 2 1/2 years, from zero to the self possessed little girl she is now.
We see her everyday, and, we also see the pictures on the wall, and we remember. But, sometimes we need a reminder on how far Miaya (and we as parents) have come in the months we have had her as our daughter. The other evening we were looking at some of the raw video footage from China, and ran across a seven minute clip of Miaya with Kim shortly after we returned to the hotel on Gotcha Day.
We were still reeling from the experience, and the enormity of the situation was truly beginning to sink in. Suddenly we were parents! Everything Miaya did was cause for marveling and trying to assess her abilities and look for possible issues. A few little smiles, some giggles at our antics, playing peekaboo, and showing off her skill at "The Dropping Game"! We were in new parent heaven and loving every minute of it.
She was so TINY then! Well, in relation to the other girls in our group about the same, or maybe a little bigger, but looking back now she looks so small, and she has grown about six inches. We were suddenly very aware of the size of the girl we see every day, and how far she has come in her growth and development. Though she had only been our Miaya for a few short hours, she had already captured our hearts and she was the daughter we had so longed for. She showed her playful side, and a lot of curiosity about her surroundings. That curiosity is still with her, "Mommy, Daddy what's that?" is heard dozens of times per day in our house.
We see the girl in the above picture everyday, but sometimes forget just how much she has changed in the past fifteen months. Miaya has been our daughter for over half her life, and that is a long time to her. Watching her grow and learn is a wonderful experience, one that we could not fully appreciate until we had lived it.
The Orioles t-shirt she is wearing came in a gift swap we participated in during the seemingly endless wait. Thanks again to the Waldo family for the shirt and other goodies. They have also returned with their own daughter of China.
Miaya is very lucky to have so many special people in her life. She is greatly endowed with many who love her so much. I can't believe how many people have touched our lives through out the world. Miaya is into the rhyming song time. She kind of gets that from me. Our morning routine going to work each day is to do the "Banana fanana, fo fanana" song. She loves to words that end in "A" like Miaya...Lyla...Becca...Ciara.... or Zia. Lyla in particular is one of her favorites, which is kind of ironic, because she doesn't get to see her "northern" cousins much. I can still remember watching my nieces when they were small and now to see them holding my daughter and soaking in each hug Miaya gives brings back sweet memories. Lyla, my oldest niece, recently sent some pictures of Miaya from our parents 50th . She also included an update about her little one (kitty) Toby,too. Boy put Toby and Miaya together what fun would that be.
Here is a picture of Miaya and Nike from back in July. As she as gotten older and shrieks less when talking to him, they are becoming good friends. Yesterday morning, she was sittng on the floor by the cat/baby gate and had her lift tab book opened and "reading" to him.
My parents celebrated their 50th recently (post to come). We were so lucky to be able to have almost everyone here to share in their celebration. My Aunt Vesta (avid "Finding Miaya" reader) came to see her newest grand-niece, little Miss Miaya. Aunt Vesta from Metaire, LA is a retired Children's Librarian and continues to tell stories all over New Orleans. Miaya was primed and ready from a good story from Aunt Vesta. Hopefully, next year she will have a better attention span. Take a look!
No we aren't moving....I think I'd have a major breakdown if we had to do it again! Michael was taking trash down our huge hill with a handtruck dolly and Miaya decided to tag a long. Miaya wanted a ride back up the hill!
Just had to share Miaya's fashion sense. I recently had been to Des Moines and checked out my favorite spot to look for Miaya's clothes called "Once Upon a Child". It is a place for gently used nice clothes. I asked if she wanted to try it on and she agreed grudgingly. She decided she needed to spruce up her outfit with the boots from the Catt cousins, hat from one of her outfits that she wore when she first came to the US, and a smile of complete accomplishment!
Michael, Miaya and I attended the Iowa State Fair recently. It was so strange remembering Miaya's first fair last year. She was so young...I had to find someplace to warm up her lunch and make her bottle. Now it's .....give me anything on a stick! Her favorite is the old standard hot dog. She loved the ducks! There is a man that has ducks that follow him everywhere...I guess it doesn't sound that strange, but it is so hilarious to see them follow him down the road.
One of our blogger friends recently wrote about how we first bond with our children so we can learn to let them go. The incident that precipitated the rumination was dropping his oldest daughter off at her first Girl Scout camp. In our own lives, we have already had to let go a little, the first time we took Miaya to daycare was certainly harder for us than her. We were still a new family, and though we knew the caregivers, it was still a bit disconcerting to leave our daughter, and walk away.
Recently I had to drop her at a different daycare as her normal one was closed for a few days, and she was not the happiest when I left. There is no way to describe the feeling when she comes running and shouting "Daddydaddydaddydaddy!!!!!" when I go to pick her up. The sheer joy on her face is beyond compare. And, the silly grin on mine is something I cannot nor would not want to control.
There is much truth to that observation, we do spend much of our parenting years learning to let go of our children. Fortunately we have only had to let go of Miaya a little bit, but I know that all too soon daddy's little girl will no longer be little and will be ready to chart her own course in life.
One year ago on July 10, 2008 we landed in Detroit, Michigan and our daughter touched American soil for the first time. A few hours later we landed in Champaign, Illinois where Michael's family met us, and we wound up on the ten o'clock news.
Three days later, we stepped off the California Zephyr, finally back in Iowa and home after the most exciting trip we will likely ever have. We learned many things on that trip, perhaps the most important that people are more alike than different.
From a people in a faraway land and drastically different culture, we were given a gift we can never adequately repay. We were entrusted to raise a daughter of China, along the way, we promised to raise her with knowledge of the heritage and culture she came from and to never "abandon, neglect, or abuse her".
In the past year, our lives have changed in many ways, some we never anticipated. But, we would never change it for the world.
Miaya is wearing the outfit she was wearing one year ago on Gotcha Day. We knew it was very big on her, but never thought it was that big. She was wearing 12 month clothes when we brought her home, is now outgrowing 24 month clothes and is wearing 2T, and a few 3T items. Who knew Teletubbies were a traditional Chinese dress! We were a little reluctant to unfold it for her to try on, as it was still folded in a perfect square from the laundry in China.
On a Northwest Airlines 747 somewhere between Minneapolis and Tokyo!!!!!!
Yes, we left for China ONE YEAR AGO TODAY!!!!
On our fourth day in China, we held Miaya for the first time.
Wow, it's really been a year since our life changed forever, a year since our house became a real home. It was the greatest trip we have ever taken, and and we received the greatest gift possible - our beautiful daughter.
As you can tell by the fresh and excited look on our faces, this is actually on the flight from Des Moines to Minneapolis, not the weary and slightly desperate look we acquired at about two hours into the twelve hour Minneapolis to Tokyo leg of the trip.
Wow -- now the day really means something! I have a daughter! For so long, the desire for a child was there, but fate was not kind. Now we are approaching the one year mark of the day Miaya was placed in our arms, and some times it is hard to remember not having her.
I never thought I could be in total awe of a two year old, but she has reached that rapid development stage when new things are a daily occurrence. Her speech is gaining clarity and her vocabulary is expanding daily. Oh, the dreaded two's pop up as she tests her limits and our tolerance, but in general she is a pretty well behaved kid.
If we can't find our shoes, they are usually on the shelves behind the bedroom door - she has long since figured out that's where they are kept and puts them away, often without our knowledge. If only that neatness urge applied to her toys in the living room! She loves being helpful, and especially likes to help carry the groceries in from the car, of course, she get the bags with the boxes in them, not the cans or jars -- or the eggs!
We had such a wonderful time celebrating our daughter's second birthday (oh my gosh I said DAUGHTER) We actually have a daughter....I get so tickled! Sorry for going off the tracks a bit. Miss Miaya had a wonderful time with all her guests. She had friends and families both to serenade her into her 2nd birthday. It makes me wonder about the little girls over there right now who turned two on the same day...no cake...no balloons...but especially no family. They say that the orphanages work hard to make sure the children have something... I just can't get a grip on the reality they call their life. But to understand I'm sure will take me a lifetime. Right now I have a 2 year old who loves where she is at and has so many people who love her.