Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Where did the summer go? I promise to upload pictures when I can.  My computer has been broken since my last post and so was my camera.  I did get a new camera, but am still waiting on the computer.

The girls are in their second week of school already and so far, enjoying their new teachers.  They both enjoyed taking separate buses to summer school.  Yes, Eliza rode a big school bus and loved it, waving bye and saying "bye bye mum" to me.  As for this school year, back to the carpool line for me!

Many photos to upload since our summer took us many places:  To the pool where Ava learned all the strokes simply by watching the swim team and Eliza swam under the water with goggles on laughing at everything.  To the beach where my foot got barbed by a baby stingray and became infected 'til 3 barbs were removed.  To Charlotte to visit family; the NY Catskill mountains with Gramma to visit her birthplace and where I spent my childhood visiting Grandpa and Grandma; and to Philadelphia to visit my sister's new home as her husband's job took them away from (Gramma) and Richmond.  Many fun days in between so...more to come.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I stand corrected by a fellow blogger's post. 
It was a Bob White Quail.
I originally thought it was a quail so thank you for making me do some research!


Still a mystery how it got on our porch.

* * * * * *

In other news.  It's been a tough week.
On Monday.
We said goodbye to our beloved 14 yo yellow lab, Sadie.
Photo from 2007, Sadie in the snow.
She was my constant companion.
My walking partner.
My girl.
For 12 years.
The tears.  The numbness. The stomach ache.
Losing a pet is part of farm life.
It never gets an easier though.
I wasn't expecting this one.
I miss her so much.




And it didn't get any better.
The very next day.
On Tuesday.
We said goodbye to Mama Cat.
If you've followed my blog for a while.
You'll remember the stray that showed up.
She immediately became the constant companion to our Hen.
For 2 years, they roamed together.
Ate together.
And how I enjoyed watching them every day.
She gave birth to 1 kitten (the black kitten).
Our hen babysat the kitten when Mama Cat needed to eat.
For 2 years, I watched these odd friends.
And in her last few days, she finally let me pet her.


* * * * * *
And so, Hogan lost his grandma.
Tuxie lost his mama.
Emma Hen lost her friend.
I lost my old girl and my young cat.
And we're all feeling it.
Photo taken yesterday.
Hogan and Tuxie couldn't get close enough.
To each other.
To me.

 

And so not to bum you out completely.
Here's some cute girl photos!
Ava got her haircut.
After complaining for almost 2 months.
"It's too hot."
"I want my hair like Eliza's."
"I want my hair as short as your hair Mommy."
"It gets all over my face when I'm swimming"
Etc.
Etc.
Etc.
So, I caved.
It does look adorable.


Sisters...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Days

Came home from the pool with the girls and found this baby hawk inside our screened porch.
How it got there is a mystery.
Did a cat bring it home and decide it was too big?
Did the hawk fly thru the opening going after one of our cats who perch there?
Derek put on gloves and gently set it free.

Hard to believe this was 1 year ago...June 8, 2009
and here she is today...
Celebrating her 8th on the 8th!
A simple bday party at home in our backyard.
Water balloons, squirt guns, cake and icecream.
A hot June day.
The "most fun bday party ever" according to her friends.

A tear-jerker moment for mom as I remembered the
birthday pictures from last year in China...
as I waited for word of travel and to finally meet
my beautiful flower!
Looking at her today,
she still takes my breath away,
for who she is.

She worked hard at reading each card.
And was so thankful to each friend, giving hugs and thanks.
Not even any coaching from mom.
Each card was as important to her as the present attached to it.

Ava and Sydney...one of her bff's
And little E...getting ready to put on her new glasses...new prescription!
Divine. So glam. Ahhh, she can see again!
So cute.  I still smooch on her all day.
She is swimming under the water this summer.
Eyes open.
Fun to watch.
At the pool each and every day.

* * * * *
And now for the grand finale!
So, here's a video of Eliza having to use "words" to get my attention.
I told her I wouldn't answer her if she screamed or barked at me anymore.
I set up the camera on the table.
Turned my back and began making breakfast... 
Watch this!
Listen carefully, you can hear her repeating "how 'bout" too.
video

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Autism
I've created a new yahoo group
MothersInAutism

Please feel free to join.
Please feel free to pass the word.
This is not adoption specific.
Find it on Yahoo Groups.

Monday, May 17, 2010

MIA

I can't imagine my life without you!

Since my last posting:
1) Cast finally came off!
2) Eliza got accepted into ESY (extended school year) and will attend autism summer school in July!
3) Ava got accepted into ESY!  I have no doubt she will be at grade level by early fall!
4) Ava is riding her bike without training wheels!
5) Eliza can swing on the big-girl swing (w/ help by being pushed HIGH)!
6) Eliza can sign 4 words in a string ("help-please-more-swing)!
7) Ava is reading!
8) Ava lost her first tooth!
9) I've worked up to a 3 mile walk w/ "minimal" pain in my ankle!
10) I've started a group MIA (Mother's in Autism)! Go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mothersinautism


Always a rainbow over our farm!

Eliza's ESY will be half day; at an elementary school 30 minutes away so she will be taking school transportation.  A BIG STEP.  I had no choice.  Ava's ESY starts at the same time and is at her current school, but a traditional hour day.  And typical Ava fashion, if Eliza's taking a "bus", then she wants to too.  Okay, as I gulp, and think about having to say "have a good day at school" from our driveway instead of carpool line!


Dad built a play-structure and both girls learned to swing before it was even done!

Eliza continues to progress very slowly.  It's hard to watch other kids in her class start making connections more fast and furious; and while they are still considered on the Spectrum, they are becoming more high functioning.  The very real possibility that we may be facing a diagnosis of mental retardation and the unknowns of what her future will be or at what grade level, weighs heavily on Derek and I.  It's been a very stress-filled few months as we have had to face up to how autism has changed our lives.  You see, she's no longer that little toddler that you can just push around in a stroller when you want to do something or go somewhere.  Mind you, she still enjoys the ride, but she's getting too big and so is her autism.  She loves to "escape" and "flee" these days; lay on the floor in public places and laugh hysterically.  But all is good, as we've had to realize that to embrace autism, means making accomodations.  I've struggled with not wanting to leave Eliza out of things we do as a family, but also that sometimes we have to.  So, I'm working to set up a schedule with a college student referred to me by our OT who will come and work/play with Eliza freeing me up to do some more normal and focused things with Ava (like strawberry picking w/out chasing Eliza thru the fields, letting Ava take up a sport or musical instrument, or simply going for a bike ride).


Visiting Grandma in the hospital w/ cousin Frankie!

I'm sorry I haven't posted more often.  For you Ava fans and those getting ready to adopt older children, Ava has done fabulous in her first 8 months home.  I'll tell you she is a survivor!  The best way to sum her up!  She has an inner strength that is admirable and humbling.  Her ESL teacher said that she's like a dog with a bone when she doesn't understand something.  She just keeps asking and pressing until she gets it.  She is so outgoing and funny, silly, happy, loving, smart.  She is the PERFECT big sister to Eliza too.  I could write an entire book about that relationship, but I'm still watching it unfold and am too often in awe.


Look, I lost my first tooth!

I did want to share some Ava moments over the past couple months:

I can still remember a few months after being home that I couldn't wait til the day that Ava and I could just have a conversation.  They've been happening for several months now and I'm loving these days with her.  When we've had a particularly fun day or a new experience, I often tuck her in at night and tell her "I'll meet you in our dreams" and then we talk about where we'll meet or what we'll be doing in the dream.  Then I'll say, "Okay, good night, love you, see you in the morning."  To that she replies, "I love you, see you tonight!"  So, one morning, I said, "Ava, I waited for you in my dream last night, but you didn't come.  Where were you?" Ava told me that she had a dream that she and I went to China and we were w/ Mama Lau (foster mom).  Apparently I had left and Mama Lau told her that I wasn't coming back for her.  I said, "Oh my, that's terrible.  I would never do that.  How did that make you feel, Ava?"  She said that she cried and was scared.  She was very clingy that day.

The other day, she told me that Daddy is so funny.  I agreed and told her that I wasn't funny or fun.  "Yes you are mommy; you are funny every day; SO funny."  I asked her if her Mama Lau in China was funny.  She said no and giggled.  So, I pressed her, "Really Ava, I bet she was."  "No, she wasn't.  She never laughed."  I asked her if her teachers were funny and she said, "We weren't allowed to be funny, we had to learn."  So, I said, "Well, you have fun and laugh in school now though and you're still learning, right?"  Lots of giggles, "No, I don't have to learn in this school!"

She told us that she wants to be a policewoman.  "Ava, don't you want to be a doctor, a brain-surgeon.  Daddy and I need you to be able to take care of us when we're very old."  She assured us that she could take better care of us being a policewoman!

Right now, Ava has to be "first" at everything.  First to get in the car, first to get out of the car, first inside the house.  "I first!"  Then, if she happens to be second; well "Second is best!" she'll call out.  So, she and Daddy were playing a game one day and had to come up with names, so daddy said he came from a country far-far away and his name was going to be "Dr. I-first".  She came flying downstairs laughing hysterically and had to tell me.  She grabbed my waist and gave me a big, laughing hug, then took back off upstairs.

She is the only child in our family who will step right in and help me out without being asked.  I've sent a laundry basket down in the middle of the family room many times over the years and walked out of the room.  An hour later, the clothes haven't been touched.  Ava, on the other hand kneels right down while watching a program and folds laundry with me.  She also likes the toys cleaned up and organized.  She makes her bed every morning still before she even comes downstairs.  And I mean, makes her bed.  Beautifully.

I still volunteer in Ava's class.  A little girl asked me the other day (duh, I've only been in their class for 7 months now), "Are you her mom?"  To which I replied, "Yes! And aren't I the luckiest mommy in the world?"  The little girl looked up at me, like, huh?  And Ava giggled and said, "Hugga mommy."  Yes, she still says hugga.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Happenings since Eliza's birthday...

Snow on March 3 causing confusion to the outside critters; daffodils blooming on March 6; 70 degrees and shorts on March 7...can you say "whacky"?!!






Eliza loves her OT; of course, the constant reward of mini-Oreo's just makes it even better (note the chocolate "smile" in the picture below.


In this next picture, Eliza is choosing her own schedule for the session with the PEC system (picture exchange communication) and made sure that her favorite sensory experiences were included in the work!

Dawn (OT) and Eliza are getting set up for some listening therapy.  Google it, it's pretty cool stuff.

In the next picture, Dawn is NOT holding Eliza still, she's actually sitting and listening on her own with the aid of  a weighted bean-bag on her lap and a bean bag that she's holding.  I've learned from Dawn that Eliza's stimming helps her organize and motor plan.  The key is to not let the stim "block" her, but rather use it as more of a transition tool.  They're gently swinging on the bolster swing during this form of therapy.  I loved seeing how close she let Dawn get to her and how calming this experience was.  Beautiful!  Dawn's amazing with Eliza.


And the reward for attending so well to the listening therapy...Eliza's #1 choice:

Yes, she is hanging in that lycra sack!  Weird, isn't it?  She loves swinging, spinning, bumping.  I took a video too.  It's hilarious.  This is the first thing she chooses every week.


As for me, well, Mommy added somethink pink to her wardrobe...

yup, still not healing so Dr didn't give me any choice...other than what color I wanted it!  Hey, every mid-40 year old woman should add a neon pink caste to their life...what a way to get pampered!

Ava still hasn't signed my caste yet; she's taking it way too seriously and is having a hard time committing to what to write, which cracks me up because she's always writing notes to her friends and drawing colorfu pictures.  BTW, go to http://www.halfthesky.org/ and read about "Bold Meiying"; our Ava was spotlighted on the Half The Sky website this month!

All from here...hoping spring sticks around this time.  I'm ready to wear a skirt and really show off my leg/foot!  Just hoping the caste will come off so I can start enjoying golf again now that golf course is getting a winter reprieve.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy 5th birthday my sweet Eliza!

(above; Eliza at Jump Zone for her class "sensory" field trip last week)

Eliza loves jumping, sliding, climbing, dancing...MOVING.
I'm going to bring my camera to OT this week to capture some of the fun.
Just like with swimming, she comes alive during these moments.

(above; not the best picture, but the first of this series...notice her neck; she's lost that baby-fat appearance)

...I'm always smooching on Eliza's cheeks;
 I love the shape of her face!
I kiss her and kiss her
and tell her I love her until
she finally nods her head 
while saying "mmmommm"
(interpret, "yeah, I know mom")
and then pushes me away. 
Eliza has grown up so much.
I boo-hoo'd last night
 while looking at our pictures
from her first year home.
That was the year before "A" as in autism.

I just wish I could hear her thoughts...
with my ears.
To live with a silent child is sometimes a blessing,
I know, for I have other children whom I sometimes wish would be silent.
LOL

But to never hear with your ears
 what your child is thinking,
feeling, seeing, needing...
well, it's a different kind of relationship.
It changes you.
It does make me sad, I'll admit.
It makes you tap into other senses though.

When I have a day where my other kids make me throw my arms in the air
or lay in bed at night questioning how I parented them that day,
having a silent child named Eliza, ironically brings me a peace.
Happy birthday my sweet, precious daughter
who can't tell me that I'm being a bad parent!
LOL
That's golden, c'mon admit it!

And some Chinese New Year photos...

(above; Ava with her BFF Lizzie)
(above; can't exclude Eliza from the festivities;
Eliza's dress was clearly purchased 3.5 years ago when she was an itty-bitty toddler!!!
Note the shiney paper lanterns on our mantel;
we made these in Ava's class when her teacher asked me to come in
and help celebrate Chinese New Year.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Where or where did Sarah go? I don't even know if anyone's still out there checking in on this blog?


Well, see that snow covered hill up there?  That's the hill that I was sledding down that put me into a CAM boot and crutches!  We had fun though.  Fractured my ankle and heel in multiple places.  Don't ask; just understand that I wasn't about to "bail out" heaving my body off the sled like the kids do.  Instead, I put my foot up to brace the impact as I slammed into a large-raised cement drain at the bottom of the hill.  Yep, ouch!



So our skies went from this...to this...



Several times during the months of January and February, much like most of the country, even though we live in the south.


My 80 + year old aunt, who is a retired elementary school teacher, sent this doll to Ava from her personal collection.  She used the dolls in her classroom during different topics of study.  I wish I had videotaped Ava opening the box because when she saw the doll she whispered, "huu...prettttty".

She is doing fabulous.  I'm volunteering in her class 2 days per week during reading and writing.  I really enjoy it.  I can tell that she enjoys having me there.  Her english is coming along fantastic.  She had an 8 word sentence to her teacher last week, all in english!  She is a math mentor in her class to students who need the help.  And she has moved out of the kindergarten level of assisted reading and writing (ESL) to the 1st grade level.  She's only been in school 4 months!

As for Eliza, we found a fantastic OT who is tapping into her sensory seeking, need for movement and response to music -- and combining that all into a therapy plan that seems to be working.  She's got fantastic tools that she's teaching me.  I also have Eliza in a gymnastics class w/ 1 other autistic child who needed the socialization.  Eliza is responding really well to that as well and I love the fact that they're willing to have a class just for these 2 special children.

Keeping busy w/ all 4 kids home and (ha, ha) trying to stay off my foot to let it heal, which is next to impossible.  You learn to live w/ pain!  As for the little black kitty-now grown up -- he's still back home w/ us and is quite happy sharing life w/ his BFF Hogan!



Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Our family of 6...in stockings that is.

We're trying to get back into the swing of a routine here. Two and half weeks off for the holidays proved to be a challenge beyond writing about for Eliza this year. That's for another day. She is settling back into the structure of school and that is a good thing for everyone. She has grown up in so many ways, but that is also opening up her frustrations over communication and the stims/ocd's to a greater extent as well. It's been a tough month and emotionally difficult for me seeing some very aggressive behaviors come out of her. We have finally conquered the sleep disorder and she has now been sleeping thru the night solid since December 18!!

Grandma and Eliza


Eliza on Christmas morning w/ a mouthful of cereal.
Ava is doing fabulous. She has really blossomed. She finally got to meet one grandma (my mother) and sincerely told her "I love you Grandma". She got earrings put in a few days before Christmas and didn't even cry...said "ouch" and then "pretttyyy". She laughed so hard when she heard me say to the store clerk, "Thank you for making my daughter ouch." She's been laughing at a lot of things these days. She exchanged phone numbers with some classmates on the last day of school before the break so we could arrange some playdates. The first time the phone rang and it was for Ava, I think we all held our breath as she put the phone up to her ear. She did wonderful though and her english is coming along fast and furious lately. She did end up having some playdates over the holiday break both here and at their homes and had a wonderful time. It was so good seeing her play with peers.

Ava's hair is growing long again already.


The earring!


Ava on Christmas morning.

Brendan turned 18 in December and is in the final stretch of his senior year of high school. He moved back home with us from his mother's just this week, feeling the need for more support and structure in these final few months of "make it or break it" (graduate, that is). Of course, we're so thrilled to have him home. I know Derek likes having another guy around again...he was feeling lonely in this house of females.

Allie turns 14 next week and she started the new year off with Mono and Strep (yes, at the same time). Poor thing. She's such a social butterfly so it's been hard for her to give into her body and rest, rest, rest. She cracks me up how she'll be playing a game with Ava one minute then complaining to me about Ava the next. She forgets how "annoying" she was when she was 7. In the car this afternoon, Ava had to tell us that she *farted* (Ava pronounces it "folted") 4 times; and then she cracked herself up. At which, Allie sitting up front next to me says, "See, she just doesn't stop. I mean is that really necessary." I laughed so hard, at Allie, more than at Ava's 7 year humor. Ahhhh, you're growing up Allie and I'm feeling very, very old!

Allie and Tux...Allie has grown into such a beautiful young woman!

Tux-the-cat (remember the adorable kitten from this summer) came to spend his Christmas vacation with us as his mom and dad went away. He enjoyed being back on the farm, seeing his mama-cat again, rubbing up against Hogan, and sharing bedtime baths and story time with me and the girls... Enjoyed it all so much that when George and Judy came home, they decided Tux should stay with us. They felt he needed Hogan and all the kids and activity. He's more of a dog than a cat. Quite a personality he's turned into. So, I'm on a quest to find George and Judy another pet! JK, sort of...

Tux, no longer the tiny kitten from this summer

So, my days are pretty much filled up with getting kids off to school, running to doctors and filling prescriptions, grocery shopping, menus, animals, cleaning the house...oh and enjoying Redbox movies in our surround-sound theatre room when the house gets quiet after 8:00 p.m. now! If the weather would warm up, maybe I'd find some time to get a walk in again.