|March 1, 2012: Getting her ears pierced. |
She's been asking for pierced ears for the majority of her life; we finally said yes.
|She was a little nervous before the piercing, but all smiles after it was over.|
She's 12 this year. We're kind of in new territory. We've gotten fairly used to kids in the preschool age range - we've done that 3 times over. But this girl blazes new parenting trails for us just about every day. Really, when you think about it, oldest children - from the very beginning - cause their parents' world to turn upside down. Each and every oldest child turns his or her parents INTO PARENTS. And that's one of the bigger changes in life, isn't it?
|Age 3: a "flower fairy" for Halloween|
In our case, the change (to being parents) was rather sudden and dramatic - but long awaited and much desired. By the time "Mark and Colleen" became anyone's "Dad and Mom", we had been married nearly 7 years. In those years, we went through a multitude of tests, a few doctors, several medications, one surgery, and a crazy roller-coaster ride of emotions, fears, and struggles. I suppose there are people who enter marriage with the knowledge that they are infertile - or perhaps suspect that there may be a fertility issue... Not us. So when the "infertile" bomb hit our lives, it was quite something, to say the least. Looking back, we realize that those difficult years weren't all bad. We learned and accepted and understood things (really important things) that we may not have otherwise. The experience of infertility changed both of us for the better. But enough about that - this is a post about our #1 girl, not the story of what came before her...
|Age 8: out for dinner to celebrate her First Holy Communion|
So, fast forward a bit to us realizing we were being called to adopt. Then fast forward some more to us being chosen as parents by a teenage birth mother. Imagine us in the maternity waiting room of a small county hospital. Next, imagine a nurse (by the name of Mary Lou) coming through a set of swinging doors carrying the MOST GORGEOUS newborn baby girl we ever saw. And imagine, if you can, the teenager who gave birth and then selflessly asked the doctor and nurses to let us be the first to hold the baby born to her, but ultimately given to us. Imagine us sitting in the hospital nursery barely able to believe what was happening - holding, feeding, changing and unconditionally loving a chubby-cheeked, dark-haired, 8 pound bundle of precious life: the answer to our most fervent prayers.
|The beginning of our parenthood journey - just minutes after her birth.|
(It is hard to believe we're willingly posting this photo. Just bear in mind it was 12 years ago...)
There are more details to her birth and adoption story, of course, but the bottom line is that we're her parents, and as our first child, she keeps us on our toes :)
|Age 11: with her sisters :)|
We were sort of intense first time parents. We had maybe 7 weeks to prepare for her arrival, but we read everything we could find in that time - and then continued reading once she was home with us. We made sure she got the right amount of "tummy time", kept a journal of her feedings, and washed our hands 124 times/day. I don't mean to tease ourselves too much; we just wanted to be the best parents in the world. And as time went on we realized that being the best parents - for her - meant understanding the personality she was born with.
So, what is her personality? In a word: STRONG. There is nothing meek or mild about her. She has strong feelings and strong opinions. She's always been (or at least wanted to be) independent. Looking back, it's almost as if she resented being a baby and having things done for her - so she worked to learn to do things on her own. Even as an infant she desperately wanted to hold her own bottle. She hit all the major milestones (sit, crawl, walk, talk) early. Despite all our preparation, she seemed to always be one step ahead of us!
|Age 10: Always up for an adventure!|
Her strong independent nature is still evident at age 12, but over the years other things have become apparent. For example, she loves to talk. Anyone willing to converse can be her friend :) And speaking of friends - she can't have too many. She loves her friends. Really, she loves interacting with all people. We live in a wonderful community where she has the opportunity to spend time with infants, preschoolers, kids her own age, college students, and adults of all ages. On a couple of recent plane rides, she ended up sitting "on her own" due to circumstances beyond our control - and loved every minute of it. She made friends with whoever happened to be sitting next to her. On one flight she taught a twenty-something woman to crochet and on another flight she helped an older woman finish her SuDoku puzzle. It really caught me off guard to hear complete strangers calling goodbye to her (by name) as we left the plane.
|Age 6: swim team|
Speaking of crochet and SuDoku... she is also wildly creative. She has been creating and crafting since she was a toddler. I vividly remember a pair of shoes she made for herself out of scotch tape, a red marker and two pieces of white paper. Her list of creations is endless, but right now her yarn and crochet hooks are getting the most use. She can also turn on her sewing machine and whip out something for her American Girl doll, if the feeling strikes her. Over the years she's been involved in a variety of extra-curricular activities - and enjoyed them all, but her current favorites are ballet and piano. Oh, and one of her friends is starting a book club; she can't wait for that - reading AND talking!
We could go on and on about this girl. She has so many interests and talents. And we love her so much that it's hard to stop talking about her. We have treasured every age and stage and we are so excited about the days and years to come. Birthdays are great: a time to celebrate, but also a time to remember to never stop thanking God for the people in our lives.
Happy birthday to our #1 girl!