I keep meaning to write a post about how well we're all doing. I wake up each day with fresh resolve to sneak away and write about Hula's progress - the letters she's learning, the pounds she's gaining, the friends she's making, and all of the other ways she's thriving after seven months home. But lately, by the time her breakfast eggs have left the pan, she's usually already initiated at least one epic power struggle. Despite all of the progress she's made (or, perhaps maybe because of all the progress) we've entered into a trying phase of Hula testing her boundaries. Every boundary. Over and over. This has resulted in some loooong days, folks. With lots of foot stomping, arm crossing, and eye glaring pouts. It turns out our little girl has quite a stubborn streak! And she knows how to push my buttons faster than any child I've ever taught. Needless to say, by the end of each day I usually opt for chocolate and puppy snuggles on the couch rather than writing a blog post about how well we're all doing.

I've been questioning myself a lot lately, wondering if I'm getting this whole "motherhood thing" right. As I sit in the hallway outside her open door and watch her cry on her bed for the third time in one day, I can't help but wonder if I'm doing right by her. But then, inevitably, her sobs always turn to a whimper, and soon after I usually hear her whisper, "Mama, I'm sorry. I feel bad..." That's when I open up my arms and welcome her into my lap, and we both take a minute to just breathe each other in again. This is how we've ended most days this month. And although it's hard and exhausting, I know it's what she needs right now. She's testing us to make sure we mean what we say, to figure out if we really are going to keep her safe, and if we truly are here forever no matter what. Just last night she nodded her head emphatically and said, "Mama, you still love me even when I make the big, BIG consequence choices." Yes, baby, even then. 

These last seven months have presented us all with a very steep learning curve. And although some days are harder than others, I am so proud of our little family and the ways in which we're growing together. Speaking of growing, it seems our little baby really has turned into a young girl! She's gained 4 pounds and grown 3 inches since coming home.

January 2015 & August 2015. Although she's still rocking the same pink sneakers, we've gone up two shoes sizes! 

Although she still begs to be carried around in the Ergo (or "the pouch" as she calls it), Hula now has a collection of scooters and bikes that she likes to zip around on during family walks. She loves her pets, and smoothers them in kisses and hugs throughout the day. And when we visited her doctor today for a blood draw (which has always resulted in tears and screams in the past), Hula calmly put on her headphones, turned up the volume on her favorite Shakira song, and gritted her teeth while the nurse inserted the needle into her arm. 

After today's blood draw. Fresh tears still under her eyes, but a proud smile on her face. 

I have to laugh when I think back to our initial impressions of Hula, when all we had to go by were her referral photos and a few video clips. We thought she was delicate. We really did. We had no idea what a firecracker she'd really turn out to be. Anyone who meets Hula quickly learns that there is nothing fragile about our girl. In fact, she defines the word 'fierce.' And although that means I'm probably in for at least twenty more years of epic power struggles, I wouldn't have it any other way.