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First Week at Home: “Well, Hot and Heavy Pumpkin Pie… Ain't Nothing Please Me More Than You”

Throughout this first week at home spent laying low and bonding as a new family – commonly referred to in the adoption community as “cocooning” – I’ve had a song stuck in my head: the 2009 quirky hit single appropriately called “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. After it serendipitously came on the internet radio today during our afternoon dance party (and I heard Sarah sing it to the Bee while swinging her through the living room dancing) it felt destined to serve as the inspiration for this blog post.

For two new parents like us, madly in love with their remarkable new daughter, the most poignant (and yes, cute!) lyric goes something like this…

Well holy moly me oh my…

You’re the apple of my eye…

Girl, I've never loved one like you...

And that, to a T, summarizes in poetic manner our exact emotions after spending the first seven days with this child in/around our loving cocoon here in East Nashville. Here’s how the first week went.

The first night was understandably a bit rocky. After coming in late from the airport homecoming festivities, and cautiously introducing Julia to the upstairs rooms and taking a quick bath (which she continues to absolutely love), the jetlag led to a fairly sleepless night. In fact, she kept us up at least 3-4 hours each of the first five nights, until successfully sleeping through the night the last two (thanks to Sarah for taking the night shift while I recovered from allergies). Fingers’ crossed we’re back on track!

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We’ve eased-in the friends and family with short visits outside the house. The little lotus is not really afraid of or connected to anyone (including us, so far), so she’s a pretty cool cucumber when it comes to seeing new faces. And all those faces out there continue to spoil us rotten with support. Between the thoughtful gifts (like the bumble “bee” art piece and water drums for the tub, perfect for our drummer in the making), neighborhood meals rotation, donated clothes since our gal is smaller than expected, and even just juice from the bakery next door to fake Julia into drinking “spiked” water… this village of love is helping our tribe of three get adjusted to the whole new family thing.

We’ve tried to get out and about a little bit in these early days. Due to her ongoing cough and (come to find out) ear infection, we had to cross the river outside of our ‘hood for her first doctor’s appointment. We also ventured out to take the Bee to her first U.S. grocery store. Non eventful. Then we ate at a few of East Nashville’s favorite spots (one of the best “firsts” yet came outside a much-loved restaurant when we let Julia put a bare foot in grass; her rather hesitant, stiff-legged reaction is seen below). And finally, she joined us for a long-awaited introduction to our beloved High Garden tea shop (a place we missed while gone!).

But cocooning 101 says we should spend as much time indoors as possible, just the three of us, to foster the attachment and give the little lotus a sense of stability. So just like hotel rooms throughout China, we’ve spent a lot of time in the floor together, exploring every nook and cranny of this place. But, ahem, not every THING in this place, as she could care less about Duke so far, the big furry guy that weighs just as much as her. We’re proud to say that our tiny one (once described by paperwork as “timid”) is getting more and more brave by the day, to the point where we’ve caught her crawling into an unknown room in the dark to check it out herself. She’s an inquisitive little thing, very careful to tap everything she first sees with either her fingernails or favorite crescent-shaped plastic toy (as seen in the video below, her way of understanding something is seemingly by hearing the sound it makes).

Truth be told, her cautious, curious nature has made these first few days a breeze from a parenting standpoint. She’s been content simply exploring, tapping away, and seeing what noises different pieces of Tupperware make against every object in sight, though these two eager parents itch for every chance we get for personal interaction. Funny enough, since she can (and does!) easily spend 10 minutes flipping and crinkling a mere piece of paper, she hasn’t yet even figured out that there’s a downstairs to his house. We’ll be sad, for sure, once this innocence and simplicity is gone. Like the lyrics say:

Laugh until we think we'll die…

Barefoot on a summer night…

Never could be sweeter than with you...

Speaking of sweet moments when we laugh a lot, a favorite pastime to date is any and every meal together. We just sit and smile at our Julia when she’s pulled up at the table. For some reason, once fed she turns into an orchestra conductor meets Stevie Wonder, head and hands flailing with joyful excitement. She’s a wonderful eater too when it comes to trying and accepting almost any flavor (now textures… that’s a different story). So Sarah, the amazing Mom and fabulous cook she is, has been having a hoot of a time getting creative with homemade baby food recipes and ways to catch this kid up with vitamins and nutrients… and honestly repurpose the food she’s making for ourselves. Would you believe our 22-month-old half-pint has put down everything from beets, to spinach, to cauliflower and broccoli, to asparagus… even quinoa, lentils, pomegranate, chicken, and ever since China... lots and lots of scrambled eggs? All mushed up and/or pureed to death, of course. But please know it’s her hilarious habit of wiping her mouth after every bite that has led to such Braveheart-quality face paint, not our poor feeding skills. Don’t report us.

Otherwise, we’ve been passing time caring for our first ACTUAL lotus flowers on the back porch (one for each of us). Bright sun is nowhere to be found in China, so pretty days with green trees are still new and exciting to this happy little one. We’ve been blasting music (all adult stuff… no Barney so far!) and making a habit of dancing together at least once a day. And it warmed our hearts that Julia is taking to Sarah’s childhood rocking chair (made many moons ago by the Bee’s Great-Granddad, and stained by her Great-Uncle).

People often ask about attachment with adopted kids, and it’s a fair question for us right now. In short: we’re getting a little bit of both sides… both DEtachment and disinterest, and some super positive signs of bonding at the same time. It swings, and we’re perfectly happy with the progress. It's HER comfort we crave. She loves to be held at times, and we’re still luckily rocking her to sleep each night. We’re seeing early victories with mimicking and game play (like Sarah’s fake sneeze + cup-on-head trick). But at other times, it’s pretty apparent when the Bee needs to be allowed to roam freely without us. And with what can be seen as a frustrating whine with “average” toddlers, we’re happy that Julia is quickly learning to use her voice. In fact, we think her little whine is endearingly cute, and we’ve coined it “the grape stomp” based on the similarity in tone with the lady from the classic YouTube viral video. You’ll laugh about it one day too, Jujube. We promise.

So as this post about her first week at home comes to a close, we’ll pretend that time isn’t slipping away so quickly and I’ll keep on singing the chorus:

Home, let me come home… home is wherever I'm with you...

Funny how parenthood does that to us, eh? Be it Nanjing, China or Nashville, Tennessee… it doesn’t matter "what" or "where" since our lives changed forever April 14. When we’re with this child, we’re at peace, melting in love (and taking a paparazzi amount of pictures). Here’s to the many more weeks at home together, our little lotus, our Jujube, our Bee, our sweet Julia.

Home is when WE’RE alone with you...

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"I am a lotus flower – delicate, fragile, yet strong... floating, unfolding, and blossoming into the life where I belong.”