A growth spurt, boat rides and river fun, touching butterflies, her first National Park, lots of bug bites, a visit from the cousins, checking off the milestones, a tough but rewarding phase, more doctor’s appointments, her newest nickname, and a two-month stretch that flew by faster than any before… what a summer it has been so far. As it came to be known: the Summer of the Weasel.
First things first, the latest nickname. How does one two-year-old kid end up with so many monikers? Sure, we’re nickname people at heart, but the journey itself has dictated each alias. In the early days, it was “Little Lotus” as she delicately bloomed into life. The playful “Jujube” tag became “The Bee” given her sweet, gentle disposition upon meeting in China. But then a funny thing happened over these Nashville dog days: our timid, weak, and joyful little soul morphed into a tenacious, mischievous, and spirited "weasel" that we would have never seen coming. Make no mistake – precious, tiny Julia has become bold, vocal, physical, sneaky, demanding-in-a-good-way, playful as can be, and as Merriam-Webster confirmed… small, but able to “prey” on things much larger. Like her parents. Who would have ever guessed that this wild girl’s favorite pastime would be a self-induced Wrestle Mania match on the couch with Dad? Her true personality couldn’t be anything further from what we expected, but we love every inch of it and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
We like to think that this pure form has emerged because she’s finally comfortable with us. In looking back at photos and videos from her time in the orphanage, we can see signs of that spark-plug personality that was possibly just muted for a while due to fear and grief. The bond between us becomes stronger by the minute, as just two months ago we desperately wanted nothing more than simple eye contact, and now it’s a daily occurrence for The Weasel to get upset because you can’t pick her up fast enough as she cries with outstretched arms. This insistent, determined side of Julia has presented our first parenting challenges (that’s for sure), but even during meltdowns it’s not hard to provoke her patented open-mouth grin at the smallest, silliest gesture (my go-to smile source is the classic Diaper on the Head Man). She now cries often when we try to put her down for sleep (going from a snore to a weep the moment she touches the crib, like we understand many kids do), which is seemingly a sign of not wanting to leave our arms. Yes! We’ll take it. Every time. Sarah and I have definitely had many evening “did we handle that the right way?” post mortems in the last few weeks, as we’re firmly entrenched in a growing-pains “phase” of sorts. But man, this progress is remarkably rewarding to see and feel and we’ll take these new occasional lows in exchange for all the highs.