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Thursday, June 4, 2015

What a difference a year makes

It has been one entire year from the day I sat in that little room in an orphanage, waiting to meet the most perfect little girl. One year from the day that I walked out of that orphanage with that little girl, my daughter. A year seems like such a short time and at the same time I feel like she has been with me forever. I am amazed at how my girl has grown. How well she has handled the multitude of changes that she has faced. And how sad it makes me when she continues to struggle with some of those changes. Sad to think of what her life must have been like for the 3(+) years she spent without a Mama. Sad to think of what she must have experienced to result in the emotions that still surface from some of those struggles.  Yet, through those struggles she is blossoming into the most amazing little girl!  I still don't know how it is possible to love someone so much. I could not imagine life without her...

When I look at the picture from her referral, the few pictures that were given to me before she became a daughter, she looks like a different child. The eyes of the little girl in those pictures are not the same as the little girl who is looking at the world with such a different perspective now.
 She has a smile that lights up her entire face, that makes those eyes sparkle. Watching her experience life outside of those brick walls is the best experience I could ever have.

She has been adjusting to a new school, teachers, new friends. Playing with friends at church and enjoying the fun of paints, markers, glue & glitter. She LOVES playing in the park and could spend hours swinging back and forth in the swings or hanging out in the playground tunnel.  We spend a lot of time playing 'babies'.  She is such a little Mama... dressing, undressing, wrapping up her babies in blankets, rocking them, feeding them, pushing them in her little stroller, 'singing' them to sleep in her little baby bed.  It's so enjoyable to watch her play.  To watch her show such love and tenderness to those dolls, it gives me hope that she must be aware of how much she is loved and can turn around and express that in her play.
 She has progressed beyond expectations with her motor skills.  From first steps over Christmas break to watching 'run, run, run' around the room now. She tries to climb EVERYTHING, not wanting to be left back from any activity.  She watches other kids and tries so hard to mimic their actions and movements.  She, of course still has a lot of progress to make, but I am so impressed with how hard she tries and how far she has come.    
 She is so smart.  She picks up new 'habits' on a daily basis...little things that she's seen others do, words that get voiced for the first time, putting signs together to let us know what she wants, how she's feeling, what she's thinking! I love watching her take in her surroundings, knowing that she's taking in so much more than she's given credit for. 
She's such a caring little girl.  She gets very concerned when her friends are upset and she loves to 'pat' and love on babies.  (I've been told repeatedly she needs a baby sibling..haha!) She is also very aware of others when they are hurt or sad and we quite often hear her version of 'Are you okay?'  She is still learning how to  play appropriately with friends and interact socially with her peers but she loves to watch and tries hard to be a part of the group.  It's so fun to watch her chase friends on the playground or request to swing because another friend is swinging.  It's also very heartwarming when her friends follow her around...wanting to climb on the monkey bars because Josie is or reading books because that is what Josie chose to do.  She is quite the social little thing and seems to attract people where ever she goes.  She can't walk down the hallway at school or head out to the playground without numerous kids (and adults) calling to her...'Good morning, Josie', 'Can Josie come swing or slide or play with me?', 'Hi, Josie', 'Bye, Josie', 'Have a great day, Josie'.  
 She's kind of popular and loves it (most of the time)!  And I love that about her.  Not that she's popular, exactly but that she 100% accepting and inviting to ANYONE.  (Yes, we do run into stranger-danger issues, but that's another topic!)  She will wave and say hi to everyone who passes her, no matter what.  She will befriend any matter what.  She fortunately does not see race, religion, ability, size, social class....and on and on.  She greets one of her her best buddies, who happens to use a wheelchair, just the same as she does ANY of the other kids at school or church or at the playground or wandering around at Target.  She has such a big heart...and I LOVE that about her.

We have been quite busy over the past year. Starting school, enjoying holidays, doctors appointments, flying on a plane, a couple of vacations, therapies (and LOTS of them!), birthdays, Mother's Day, baptism, moving after only being home for a short time and then, moving again just this past weekend! Our recent move will hopefully allow for even more growth and more opportunities for my little goose. I have not been the best at keeping updated but have thoroughly been enjoying our first year together.  I will really try to do better as I know so many people are curious as to how this sweet girl is doing and now we are farther away from MORE people who have fallen in love with a little Josie Rosie Posie.  
Here is a short recap of our last 12 months and a promise to be more regular with the updates!

June 2014
 We spent about 5 weeks in Colombia, bonding and finishing up the adoption process.

July 2014
We arrived home in the US on July 7, 2014.  We were able to enjoy some time just bonding at home and slowly exploring Josie's new surroundings.

 August 2014
Josie started preschool at Leaps and Bounds. Mama went back to work. We began to get settled into a new 'normal' routine.

September 2014
Josie joined Buddy Ball and we enjoyed the last days of warm weather playing in the pool and at the beach.  This little girl sure loves to swim!

October 2014
National Down Syndrome Awareness Month
Josie celebrated her first Halloween with a dress up day at school, trunk or treat at church, trick or treating through neighborhoods and some pumpkin carving.  Needless to say she enjoyed it all!

November 2014
We took a mini-vacation up to Virginia and Josie got her ears pierced! We went to her first live play...'Click, Clack, Moo' (she has a strange fascination with cows!) and celebrated her first Thanksgiving home.

December 2014 
All things Christmas! She wasn't sure of Santa at first but after seeing him multiple times, she quickly decided she liked the white beard! She also became a professional at opening presents and LOVED all of the lights and decorations.  She was very happy to get to put baby Jesus in the manger Christmas morning and sang Happy Birthday to Him! We took a vacation to Chicago to celebrate Christmas like I did as a child.  Josie loved flying on the airplane!
(And Josie got glasses!)

January 2015
Josie started walking!!! Hooray!!
We enjoyed our first trip to the library...she loves her books! And enjoyed some time outside on a few warm winter days.


 February 2015
Josie got invited to another birthday party, she loves cupcakes! She celebrated her first Valentine's Day at school and enjoyed receiving and passing out all of her Valentine's.  Mama ran the bridge again...this time with the little goose waiting at the finish line!

March 2015
Quite the celebratory month! Josie turned FOUR!! She also got baptized ~ on her birthday! Josie took her first trip to the zoo, fed the giraffe and loved playing with the monkey. We celebrated National Down Syndrome Awareness Day (3.21) and really spent most of the month eating cake and cupcakes!

April 2015
 We celebrated Josie's first Easter at home! She loved coloring eggs and going for egg hunts.  We hunted eggs over and over.  Mama had a birthday and got a new bike and trailer.  Josie LOVES going for bike rides to the park! We took a trip up to Maryland to see our new town before moving. The countdown began for the big move!

May 2015
Josie went on a class field trip to the beach with her teachers and friends.  She loved getting to hang out in one of her favorite places with some of her favorite people. We celebrated our first Mother's Day together.  I love that I get to call this beautiful girl my daughter and that she calls me Mama!  Josie had her last day of school - it was very bitter sweet.  I'm going to miss the relationships she's made and I know she is going to miss her friends and adults that she greatly bonded with~even if she doesn't realize that good-bye on that last day of school, was good-bye for a long time! We finished packing up and at the end of the month, said our good-byes and jumped in the car to head north. 

June 2015 
 We began our new adventures in Maryland and hope to meet some more amazing people and create some new friendships.

This sweet and beautiful girl has touched so many people in her short little life.  I know she will have a big impact on so many more people and I am so happy to be a part of her life as she blossoms and grows. 
I love her with all of my heart.  She is amazing.