At some point after we returned home from China Theresa and I became "Facebook friends" and followed each others' blogs. The similarities between Cadence and her daughter Mali were sometimes startling! Their clefts were on the same side and especially when they smile they look very similar. When Cadence sees pictures of Mali online she often thinks it is herself (and the same with Mali). But their personalities are so much alike it's crazy! The same strong-willed, stubborn, determination that they exude all of the time. They have the same enthusiasm and sense of humor. In Theresa's blog posts about Mali I can see Cadence doing the exact same thing... it's scary sometimes!
So, we decided that we wanted to try and meet up. We looked into meeting in Washington DC for the cherry blossom festival but that didn't work out. They live about 8 hours away so it was going to be tricky. (They actually live in the neighborhood that I grew up in!) Eventually I decided to invite them to stay the weekend with us. Mind you, we had only ever spoken on the phone once by this point. Here was the conversation with my husband:
Me: So you know that family in Ohio who has the little girl with the same cleft lip as Cadence? They brought her home just about a year before we met Cadence. I've shown you Mali's pictures before on Facebook and their blog and talked about how similar their personalities are. We had talked about meeting them in DC...
Brad: Yes. (Distractedly)
Me: I don't think DC will work out so I thought that we could invite them to stay the weekend here at our house.
Brad: (I had his attention now!) And how do you know them?
Me: She is friends with a friend from my high school. We read each other's blog and are friends on Facebook. (as if that is explanation enough)
Brad: You want to invite them to stay? For the weekend? (completely skeptical)
Brad: Ok. I guess.
I was pretty stunned that he agreed this easily! If you had told me a year ago that I would invite a family that I had never met and only spoken to on the phone to come sleep at our house I would have said that you were C-R-A-Z-Y! But here we were! And not only did I feel very excited about it but also completely comfortable (ok, maybe 99% comfortable - there was some nervousness!).
To make a long story, well, long, Theresa, Shawn, and Mali came to visit us this weekend. They stayed a couple of nights, we went to a wine festival (how bad can people who love wine festivals be?), and then went to Great Wolf Lodge for a night. And, I think I can say with confidence, that we all had a blast! Despite telling Theresa when she texted to say they were almost to our house that I felt like I was meeting a blind date, everyone fell right in step when they arrived. Cadence and Mali got along great all weekend (a sometimes challenging feat for a 3 and 4 year old). Sierra and Laurel dotted on Mali like she was their sister. And it felt like we were hanging out with old friends while we hung out all weekend with Shawn and Theresa. I'm still a little shocked to feel so connected to a family that we just met in person a week ago. But, I am feeling very lucky, indeed, to have met them. I have a feeling that they will be in our life for a long time!
Side story: Sierra and Laurel found face painting at the wine festival. They each wanted $9 to have a "whole face" done. I told them that there was no way that I was spending $20 for them to get their faces painted. I gave them $10 and told them to get their cheek done. We walked over a few minutes later to see Laurel's face covered and Sierra smiling excitedly with her. Sierra said that she gave up her face painting so that Laurel could get her whole face done.
My heart melted. Sierra is a sweet, loving child, but honestly, to do this for her sister isn't completely in character. How else could I reward that (after a huge hug and telling her how proud I was of her) except to let her get her whole face done too? I would have preferred that they picked something other than "Dia de la Muerta" (Day of the Dead) to have on their faces, but I'll take selflessness where I can get it!