Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Maya Finds Her Laugh

Maya is a happy baby. We learned that about her on Day 1. She smiles frequently and is usually content. Try as we might though, we had a hard time getting her to really laugh. We'd get kind of a courtesy "ha" type of laugh, but not one that felt very satisfying. I can't imagine that there was a lot of laughter in the orphanage and I just don't think Maya had much in the way of practice.

Well, she's putting those laughing muscles to work now and we couldn't be happier. Helping this girl to find her laugh has been one of the most rewarding things we've ever experienced as a family. Everyone has their own method of making Maya laugh and she gets bombarded with different comedic approaches throughout the day. Adam is all about rough-and-tumble play and running around the house with her, Madeline makes up funny dances and faces, and Abby and Maya giggle about things that none of the rest of us understand.

Maya is also coming into her own in the language department. She really was doing great before, but I can tell her understanding has increased and she's trying so hard to talk to us. She babbles on and on, making no sense whatsoever, but sounding like she's really telling us something important. The funniest moment during our Christmas trip was when Maya was rattling on like she often does, and her 4 year-old cousin, Annika said, "I'm sorry, Maya, but I don't speak Chinese!"

Only about a week ago we checked out some sign language videos and she's really taken to those. She's signed: more, milk, car, wash hands, food, Dad, and of course, ball. Her favorite words to speak are: Dada, Mama, sock (sock-a!), blankie (bankie), dog, bottle (botta), ball, and Adam. She's started to do more actions to finger plays and tonight she sang along with "I am a Child of God." Well, I wouldn't say there were definite words, but you could tell she was trying.

She still likes books, but they can't have more than a few words per page. Her favorite books have pictures of babies or animals. She likes to kiss the babies in the books and likes to pretend that the babies bite her finger--ouch! no,no,no! The animal books are fun for her and she's doing better at identifying the different animals and making the appropriate noises. She loves our dogs and is not the least bit intimidated by them. Olaf thinks she's wonderful and surprisingly Charlie just tolerates her. Charlie's getting older and he's not as patient about the baby-ride-the-dog sessions. He's paid his dues and is entitled to some personal space.

Maya gives great kisses and hugs and likes to pat Lyle's back. She likes dolls on occassion, but is a dedicated sports fan. Probably our funniest Maya moment was when we all went to watch Lyle play a basketball game. I had to hold her TIGHTLY because she really wanted to get out there on the court. She was totally into the game and yelled, "Ya, Ya, Ya!!! Da Da Da!!! Ball!! Dad! Ya! Ya!" It will be very interesting to see if her enthusiasm for sports continues. She's very limber and coordinated and has even caught the ball a few times. She can also kick the ball well and has a decent throw. She spots balls everywhere and I have to look carefully to find the round thing she's seen.

It's getting late here and I need to hit the hay, but to sum it all up, we just love this girl to pieces. She's such a perfect addition to our family and watching her grow and develop has been unbelievably rewarding. It's amazing that we came together half-way around the world in a crowded country of over one billion people. Who knew that one of those people would meld so easily into the Beck household in Washington State! Pretty miraculous! Happy 6 months together Qiu!

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