Monday, August 20, 2007

Look At Me! I Just Turned Three!!

Oakley's first birthday celebration -- I wanted it to be special for her, but not overwhelming. We decided to keep the festivities small and just invite our extended families over for ice cream and cake. Those of you who know us realize that it's never a small occasion when our families get together. Mike and I both have lots of siblings. And collectively, they have lots of kids. So there really is no such thing as a small family gathering, but rather a boisterous bunch, which suits us just fine. It seems to have suited Oakley just fine, too, and I have no doubt that she knew she was surrounded on her very special day by those who love her the most.

We talked for days before her party about her birthday -- the words cake, ice cream and balloons caught her attention quickly. Mention cake and ice cream, and this little girl is ready to party! Let it suffice to say that she was excited about the prospect, even though she couldn't yet grasp the concept of a day dedicated to celebrate her birth.

We gathered around the table as Oakley prepared to blow out candles on her very first birthday cake. As we sang Happy Birthday to You, she gave us a "look of disgust". I know this to be her nervous, embarrassed face. I've seen this look several times, but not many other people have witnessed it before. It is hysterical, and just to make sure I captured it on film, we belted out another rendition so she would do it again. So here it is, for all to see. Honestly, the singing wasn't that bad! And yes, she made this face through the entire song. Twice.

She thoroughly enjoyed blowing out her candles (so much so that we had to do it twice, too).

Every child deserves to be celebrated, and although I was not there for Oakley's birth, I celebrate her life every day. I am thankful and honored that I was chosen to be her Mama', and that I will be the one to love and cherish her, encourage and comfort her, teach and guide her.

I pray that I can provide her the love and security she needs in order to grow and find her wings. And I pray that her birth mother, whom I know is loving her from afar and praying for her well-being, has peace in her heart. Her decision to give this little girl life is our greatest gift.

Our baby girl is officially three years old, which she will show you as she holds up both hands and displays three fingers on each.

She was thrilled to discover (on her own, I might add), that three fingers also closely resemble the letter "W", which just so happens to be her favorite letter.

i have no idea why.

She is obsessed with the letter "W" and searches for it everywhere -- on road signs, correspondence, magazines, books, cereal boxes -- everywhere. I digress. I suppose Oakley's obsession with the letter "W" deserves a post of its own, so look for that later:).


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Best Friends Reunited

Two beautiful little girls once shared their daily lives in an orphanage in China. Just a month apart in age, they lived in the same social welfare institute and according to their nannies, they became best friends.

As fate would have it, at the age of 2 1/2 they would both be adopted, within months of each other, by American families using the same agency -- one living in Iowa and the other living in Kentucky. Caeleigh was adopted in March and we received Oakley in May. While I celebrated Caeleigh's Gotcha Day with her forever family from afar, I mourned Oakley's loss of her best friend as she waited a few more months for our arrival.

Yesterday these two little girls were reunited! The Whitts were in town visiting family and they set aside some time to come and visit us. What a wonderful day it was! Oakley and Caeleigh share a very special bond. I thank God that they had each other in China, that He orchestrated our paths crossing, and that as parents, we recognize the need for them to maintain their relationship.

I told Oakley Friday evening that Caeleigh was coming to visit, and I honestly think she understood. She ran to retrieve her photo album, opened the page to Caeleigh's picture, and said, "Ku Xinke, Oakley's room, play tea." She was so excited yesterday morning and when Hagan announced that they were here, she ran to the window to peer out.

And oh, the joy in their little faces!! Oakley radiated with happiness and she repeatedly said to me throughout the visit, "Mama, Ku Xinke," as if she just couldn't really believe she was here! It was an emotional reunion for me, although I hadn't expected it to be. It's so amazing to know that just a short period of time ago they were living in an orphanage together, and now they are living with their respective forever families and are both loved and adored!

They held hands, hugged, kissed, played dolls, had a tea party, and celebrated their reunion with lunch, cake and ice cream. Thanks, Karen and Jeff, for bringing the cake -- what a sweet (and delicious) and thoughtful gesture, which was much enjoyed by all!!

I love these little girls and I love the friendship they share. Thank you to the Whitts for making time to come and visit. I feel such a kinship with this family -- our girls, are in fact, sisters in heart, and I look forward to them growing up together. So much of their past is lost to us, and to them, but they will always have each other -- best friends.