Monday, August 27, 2012

5 Years of Grace Xue and a New Beginning

Today marked the anniversary of our introduction to Grace in Hunan, China. She was such a tiny, delicate little person with an intense gaze and fully formed character. Now, still petite, she packs a wallop physically and inter-personally, and we are so very happy she is who she is! Yesterday, G and I capped a long, sweet and fiery summer (both the weather and her will) with a trip to the gym -- rained out before we could hit the pool, we kicked a soccer ball around a racquetball court and bemoaned our late arrival -- the rock wall was closed. I suggested we cross the street to see if "Brave" was at the movie theater. It wasn't playing any longer, so we saw "The Odd Life of Timothy Green." Spoiler alert -- they adopt a Chinese girl about Grace's age. Why hadn't I brought TISSUES??? Or read a review? Despite this particularly heart-string-tugging twist, which left me bawling and Grace staring at me, we both enjoyed the movie. She pronounced it better than Brave would have been. I think she was saying so to protect me because she knew that the heroine in Brave wrestles a bear and she was thinking I would not want to watch that (I don't like human on animal violence on TV...although I think I could've handled the flick...). On the way home, we saw a massive, full-color rainbow over a wet soybean field. She wanted me to chase down the pot of gold, not knowing I already had and it was strapped in a Britax clutching "Baby B" (Beth, thanks for that receiving blanket -- it's still receiving lots of love from Grace). She also tried on, for the last time, her outfit in which we received Grace in 2007. The shorts were fine (pants then, I recalled) but the "Ethnic Baby" inscribed tank was quite snug. Just as well - I am happy to report she has grown more than an inch since May and half of that in the last month. The next morning, Grace awoke excited but scared -- Gotcha Day had arrived but equally as important in the annals of Grace's life, today was the first day of Kindergarten! I fed her anxious tummy some scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese (isn't that what we all crave when we are nervous? No? Well, I do!) and we bustled into the car for the quick trip to the bus stop (tomorrow we will walk). She had brushed her hair, put on her shoes, stuffed her backpack and was ready to go. First one at the stop, she cheerfully greeted each kid as they arrived (she knew only a few of them but was happy to host). She also chased cats, looked for bugs, compared backpacks, dodged the paparazzi and the mamarazzi, and generally behaved like no one who professed to be scared. I sought and got a big, strong hug before the bus was in sight and positioned myself to film the boarding. Too bad I wasn't using ESPN's fast-action videography equipment -- she shot out ahead of the pack and raced up the steps without even looking back. Later, she told us she had waved from her seat but it was hard to tell through the tinted windows. No, I didn't cry -- all used up in Timothy Green and anyway, this was a day for celebration! After school we got the full debrief -- she made a new best friend (her words, delivered with much enthusiasm), "Kayla," and learned many rules. They went to gym class, music, recess, and so forth. She had time to eat lunch but no one responded to her raised hand to help open her water bottle (oh, bad mommy -- need to change the vessel tomorrow). She needed only one reminder (uh oh, already!) to listen to the teacher (she was deeply engaged in making that new BFF). Her homeroom teacher noticed her special anniversary on our family info sheet and gave her the privilege of taking home the summary of the day's activities (teach is also an adoptive parent and familiar with Gotcha Day). Grace shared with me the fact that they mentioned God in the Pledge of Allegiance, so we discussed some concepts of religious freedom. We also talked about her likes/dislikes as far as lunch and snack options (tuna cups and yogurt with cinnamon is out, plums, apples and dried seaweed are in). Then we let her choose the Chinese restaurant, fill her tea cup with packets of sugar and generally revel in her big day. One of our fortune cookies had the word for "wife," which is pronounced a lot like "cheese." Enjoy the pics, finally!

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