Sunday, January 19, 2014

Year One

This post didn't benefit from Jenny's editorial genius, so please forgive the grammar, auto-incorrect, and other errors.

My sweet Bailey,
A year ago your mama and I were sitting in a hotel room, jet lagged, mildly culture shocked, and waiting for a phone call telling us it was time to make our way to meet you. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a nervous wreck, somewhat in disbelief that this wait, which seemingly was going to last forever, was finally coming to an end.  Time to be the father to you that for close to a year I had so desperately wanted to be.

As we drove to your location, I felt the weight of the wait getting lighter.  Eleven months of watching you grow up through pictures, finally over.  

Watching you emerge from the house, Nike headband and all 15 pounds of you, is a memory stitched on my mind and my heart forever. 

I remember those first few minutes so vividly - holding you for the first time, holding your hands and helping you walk, watching you with mama.  

Bailey, you have added so much joy to my life since first laying eyes on you.  Your personality is so much fun. I love how much you love to talk, love to laugh, love to help and do some of the things you see mama and dada doing.  (Luckily that hasn't come back to haunt me. Yet.)

I love watching you absorb and process new information. You are a sponge and you love reading and learning.  I love watching you count (up to 6!!) and begin learning the alphabet (up to G!!). I love watching you wave to people that sit near us in restaurants, or you pass by in a store.  While I don't want you talking to strangers without me or mama with you, I hope you never stop being friendly.  You never know who might need to see your smile.  I know I look forward to it each and every day.

As your dada, this first year has been one I'll never forget.  We've been able to spend a lot of time together.  Your mama and I were intentional about reserving a lot of time for the three of us to get to know each other and become a family.  I hope and pray that you sense the unconditional love we have for you. 

You have given me so many moments that bring huge smiles to my face – The way you yell “DADA!” when you see me come up from the basement for breakfast, how you yell down to me when you and Mama get home, your big hugs, our goodnight kiss routine.  You kill me when you ask me to play when I’m still working. 

Your little voice and the way you say so many phrases makes my heart smile.  You get so excited about many things, big or small.  I hope that never changes. 

I am so proud of you, Bailey. 

I am proud of how much you’ve grown. I’m proud of how active you are. I’m proud of how much you’ve learned.  I’m proud of you and your growing vocabulary, your good manners, and how well you listen, usually. :-)

Selfishly, I’m so proud of your sleeping habits. Please don’t ever change those. Ever.  Your mama and I love getting a good night’s sleep.  THANK YOU.

Thank you for giving me a glimpse of the pain God went through as He watched His Son suffer on the cross.  Not in anyway comparing it, but watching you in the hospital and ER rooms struggling through the various health challenges you’ve face has been one of the hardest things for me. It is the closest I want to get to understanding that pain. Helpless and unable to make you all better are some of the worst feelings I've had to process. There's nothing fun nor easy about watching you suffer. I’m praying that 2014 is an easier year on your little body. My health, and our health insurance, need it. :-)

Without knowing it, you’ve helped me improve my prayer life. 

I pray for you every day, praying for God’s goodness and blessing on the girl you are becoming.

Praying for health, praying that God will give you a big, purposeful calling on your life. 

Praying that you will know God and have a relationship with Him.

Praying that He will use you to make the world a better place.

I love you, my precious daughter.  I hope and pray that you see, feel, and know just how deep my love is for you.

Happy “No More Waiting” Day.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

13 for '13

2013 has come and gone, quickly.  It's gone ridiculously fast, I might add.  As we begin 2014, here's a look back on our year, with 13 thoughts on 2013.

1. 2013 started with us in a state of frustration, even desperation, as we continued to wait for the green light to travel to meet our daughter.

2. That wait quickly became a distant memory 345 days ago. 

3. God gave us an incredibly beautiful, smart, funny little girl that has made the last 11+ months among the most memorable, and joyful we've had. 

4. I've written an AWFUL lot about poop and poop-related stories.  I'm sorry. Unfortunately for us all, Bailey's given me far too many opportunities.

5. Not to toot (there I go again...) our own horn, but our brief hibernation period, along with our time holed up in Kinshasa, helped us immensely with the bonding and attachment process.  Early indicators give me confidence that we're on the right track. 

6. I am blown away by how much little kids grow and learn over the course of a year.  I look back at pictures and videos from last January and February, and Bailey is barely making any sounds, nor is she walking.  Today, 11 months later, she's saying phrases such as "Happy New Years" and running all over the house. I am dumbfounded almost daily by how much her mind processes and her body grows. 

7. I am grateful for all of you that have supported us and taken an interest in our journey.  We wouldn't be who we are without your love and support, and we're counting on it as we embark on adoption #2. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers, encouragement, and support.

8. Our 2013 with Bailey begins and ends with some medical challenges. Thankfully the ER visits have slowed down, but we recently learned that Bailey has some food allergies, so we'll be beginning 2014 making some diet changes in the hopes that this will alleviate her stomach issues.

9. Jenny impresses me daily by how being a mom is second nature for her.  I am so lucky to be able to learn from her and I'd be lost without her.  She somehow turns every little activity or moment into a learning opportunity for Bailey.  It really is a thing of beauty.

10. Bailey LOVES dancing. It'll be fun to see if/how that continues to blossom.

11. Bailey has found little ways to help out around the house - feeding Abby, cleaning up (especially her own stuff), watering the Christmas tree, etc. She seems to get so much satisfaction by being a helper.

12. Time flies.  Being away is hard and it seems that Bailey grows the most when I'm gone. It's far too easy to let distractions take over, causing us to miss those precious unexpected moments with Bailey.  I am as guilty (if not more) as the next person of being too attached to my phone/tablet/laptop/TV. I'm striving to make these devices convenient for me, not for everyone else.  The "do not disturb" feature on my iPhone has been a huge help to reduce the buzzes and beeps after work.  

13. Bailey turns 2 a month from today. Whoa.  This is such a fun age.  Please, God, keep the "terrible" out of her "twos".