Today marks eight months together. Tonight E. wanted to look at pictures from Russia. As we looked at our time together there, I was struck by how much she has grown and changed in these eight months. It's truly remarkable. Not just external changes, but internal ones too. On the outside she is 3 inches taller and has tons more hair, her skin looks healthier and she has a glow about her. But inside the changes seem more profound. She is settled, happy, peaceful and seemingly aware of those things. She smiles and laughs often - two things I rarely saw her do during my three "pre-gotcha" visit trips. She is a chatter box - often telling me "know what, Mama?" and then chattering away about something that sometimes I understand every word of and others I have no idea what she is talking about. E. loves her friends and they love her. Abby, who is two and the other little girl at day care, told her mom - "E. is my best friend". This past weekend we went to our first birthday party. E. was invited to her buddy Weston's fourth birthday. The morning of the party she told me she wanted to stay home - I'm guessing she was uncertain what to expect and that was a bit overwhelming to her - we went ahead to the party and she had a blast. It was so fun to watch her with her buddies. E. loves music and singing. She loves to pray - I don't know how much she understands, but she is clearly drawn to all things Spiritual and often asks to pray. She will bow her head and say "Dear Jesus" - precious girl. E. is a helper by nature. She will see something out of place and put it back, pick up trash, put things in the sink, wipe up a spill. E. is incredibly observant in so many ways. When we drive somewhere she will point out the direction we should go or say "church" as she is pointing in the direction of church. Most times she is right on.
As we enter into this holiday season I realized that I have spent the past 4 years dreading this season - another season waiting for a child. Perhaps that has become a bit of a habit and a bit unconscious. I have so much to be grateful for this year and I want to savor the anticipation of the season. I want to enjoy every moment of life with E. each and every day. I am praying that I can see the holidays through her eyes and with her joy. Tonight as we were driving home I was talking with her about Thanksgiving and what it means. I asked her what she was thankful for? "pizza and cheese" was her answer. This made me giggle. We talked some more - I told her I was so thankful I was able to adopt her and be her second Mama. Thank you Lord for the gift of E. Silly, joyful, kind-hearted, adventurous, sweet E.