There's this bewitching, brown-eyed, Asian beauty in our house. She's organized (most of the time) and enjoys taking photographs of unusual elements that she sees in nature or in life. She has a certain sense of style that evolves on a daily basis, but usually incorporates some variation of her love of riding a board on wheels at breakneck speeds (shhh, don't tell her daddy). She is an adoring older sister (most of the time), and she has lovingly taken to spending every spare second with a certain little toddler boy.
She solemnly gazed at me with those perfect almond eyes when she was just about 5 months old, the day she was placed in my arms in Nanchang, China. And now when I look at that face, I still see the baby girl there, the one who took a while to warm up to her new, novice parents. The baby who absolutely, positively would not utter a word until she was sure to form a sentence. The little girl who squealed with raucous delight the first time she discovered that she could tumble across the floor, cartwheel after cartwheel. This little perfectionist was a seriously devoted gymnast, and her specialty was the balance beam.
Then she/we realized that her heart might be better served without such nerve wracking hours of practice demanding perfection and she discovered the wild open fields of soccer and creek-walking and idle time.
Her natural habitat, though, is the ocean, probably on a surfboard inside the curl of a semi-colossal wave (we've only surfed the East Coast, so colossal is like, totally relative). She transforms into a Polynesian princess, sun-kissed and salt-water soaked and full of sunshine.
We named her with Grace because she is just that, a precious, undeserved gift given to us by a loving and generous Father.
She is counting down the years (now days I was informed earlier) to driving; and while I am utterly and completely freaked out by this thought and truly believe that I just blinked and my baby (my baby) is well on her way to womanhood, I am delighting in every newfound interest, every controversial conversation, every midnight heart to heart sprawled along the bed that used to be mine that she sleeps in.
She reminds me of all that I know to be true about this life. It is full of beauty, if I take the time to really see. It is fleeting. It is a gift.
I love you, Ally Gracey. You are beautiful (and I see you!); you're growing up fast (and it's so much fun to grow with you!); you are a gift.