Wow, we have been busy over the last weeks/months and left little time to update you on the continued journey of our daughter Meili! Please accept our apologies and enjoy the latest silliness Meili has brought into our home.
On Friday, December 17th, we all celebrated the birth of our daughter, Meili! She is now a whopping two year old! Of course, I say that in jest because there is nothing whopping about her petite little frame. Like many other families out there in the blogosphere, we keep a running tally of the growth of our children on a select door in the house. Meili is aware of it and whenever the marked up door is open, she quickly shuffles over to it and stands perfectly still – waiting for anyone to come over and “mark” the door with their finger. Tonight she did it again as we were coming in from the Christmas dinner at Grandma’s (more on that later) and I dutifully leaned over to mark the high-water level of our two year old. As the dark crown of her fuzzy head slipped out from under my finger, I could clearly see the mark she is nearest to. It read “Leila, 1 years old”. Now of course, Leila (Meili’s older sister of 4 years old) is the offspring of a 6′ father and 5’8″ mother – destined to be awkwardly tall – and we know nothing of Meili’s parents. However, we marvel every day at the minuscule features that Meili struts around the house – from her itty-bitty fingers to the sticks hanging out the bottom of her 12-month dress – that girl is stronger than an ox! Whoa, lost my way there…
Meili really enjoyed the party we had for her. Surrounded by good friends and their children, our celebration was an intimate one full of fun for everyone. I am not sure Meili ever figured out the party was for her but either way, she had a great time watching all the other children party! We decided to do a “Minnie Mouse” party for her because she had Mickey and Minnie Mouse sheets in her “crib” back at the orphanage – we constantly try to honor her past and heritage whenever possible – always looking for ways to help her bridge the chasm from orphanage to forever home.
She continues to display incredible resilience in the face of constant change. Even at her party we marvelled at how comfortable she has become with us. Normally in new places (like the place we had her party at), Meili immediately becomes unsettled and soon finds her way back into Mom’s arms. But on Friday, she was off and running with the other kids – a very encouraging site for a parent trying to help write a new story in the heart of a child.
Meili is also becoming very familiar with the crazy gift-giving culture of the Western World. Despite the treasures waiting to be discovered in their colorful wrappings, Meili finds Candy Canes and Popcorn to be a better seasonal tradition. Well, having said that, the truth is that ANY food is consumed before ANY present or gift is opened. She is a simple girl with simple needs but I think Leila will help her take advantage of her sappy old Dad as the years go by!
Overall, things could not be more blessed as we learn more about our new daughter. Each day brings another bit of valuable information to the lovely mystery of Meili. She still cannot talk but communication is no weak spot! It doesn’t take a Chinese-to-English dictionary to explain what she wants when she takes you by the hand to the pantry, stretches out one tiny finger at the shelves of snacks and then quickly redirects that same finger to the now open mouth (strategically placed below those oversized, puppy eyes). Ok, here is the ENTIRE pack of cookies – DON’T TELL MOM!
As I mentioned before, we spent the evening at Tracy’s Mom’s house for the annual Christmas dinner. The kids love it because they get to open a couple gifts afterwards and Meili jumped right into the tradition. The funniest part was when Meili discovered that if someone would hang these tiny little decorations on her ears, she looked just like Mom! Sure enough, after getting decorations on both ears, off she went to show off her new ear-rings.
We weren’t 5 minutes down the road home when we looked back at our car full of tired kids, basking in the blue glow of the TV. Each set of eyes was half closed, hanging onto the final minutes of this late night. As we glanced over everyone, Tracy and I both noticed something different about Meili. She was already asleep in the car and as we looked closer, there was the softest hint of a smile across her sleepy face. In that moment, her Chinese orphanage was a million years away and Meili was nestled in the warm embrace of a place to belong. There she slumbered with a tummy filled with Grandma’s cookies, hand clutching gifts of love and a heart free of turmoil. I can’t remember a more intense feeling of purpose.
Happy Birthday, Meili!