Wednesday, December 9, 2009's getting cold here in the south! Some photos of Ava and my nephew, Luke, having fun on the Dr. Seuss-like wacky playground at the school behind our farm.

Ava's latest english phrases include:
"Whattt? No, stop that. Please, excuse meeee."
"Watts that mean?"
"Who's zat?"
"I love you mommy."
"Hugga mommy."
"Not jyet."

I'll try to get some Eliza photos; lately she's ducking from the camera.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving from our farm to your home!

Hauling away the pumpkins and (dead) mums to make room for Christmas decor!

Sniffles still being passed around our family...
preventing Mommy from attending a Silpada jewelry party...
so we made our own fashion jewelry!

Have a happy, healthy and love-filled Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, November 13, 2009

I remember the days when Eliza used to walk into the house after school and drop her backpack.


She loves the sensory of smoothing out her diaper, then slowly closing her legs and watching the diaper crinkle up; then smoothing out the diaper again.  She does all this in slow motion.  It's a ritual; a stim; it's annoying; it's autism.  You can't always figure out why these kids do what they do.  Some times, it's fascinating watching and wondering; and some times it's just plain irritating because it's different...AND BECAUSE...


and this...

One with her pants down to her ankles, shuffling around the house, and one with her sunglasses on (even on rainy days and dark nights) and socks pulled up as high as they'll go!  On 2 different ocassions (how do you spell that word, the more I look at it, it looks wrong and no matter what I come up with, it doesn't look right?!),..anyway, on 2 different "whatevers" I heard both Derek and Allie say out loud, "She's not going out of the house w/ her socks like that, is she?"  You'd think they'd be used to what's not normal; sheesh, I mean, Eliza leaves both Barney and Pooh home now and just carries a diaper with her EVERYWHERE we go.  I laugh now because I don't even need to make sure that I have a spare diaper in my purse, Eliza carries her own!

So, Zoloft days 3, 4...up to 7 now, have continued as well as days 1 and 2.  Eliza's teachers have been equally pleased with her focus, vocalization, returned useage of signing and participating in social play.  That doesn't mean that Eliza is no longer autistic as demonstrated by the photo above (lol), uh really? 

And in case you're wondering, yes, I do pull her pants back up constantly (so does Derek, Allie and Ava).  She nods her head at me when I pull them up and say the words "pants up"; then she waits for me to walk away and pulls them back down.  Right after I took that photo of Eliza trying to get juice from the fridge, she heard Barney come on the tv and took off in a run only to forget that her pants were down and SPLAT, she fell.  That didn't stop her though from getting up and shuffling along as fast as she could.  It was one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time.
So, here's two pictures of my smiling beauties.   Tho Eliza's picture reminds me of a Whoopie Goldberg mask that my brother had one year at a family get together.  My dad had put it on and was riding one of the kids' bikes around and it is still a picture that makes me laugh out loud when I see it.   But any time I can get Eliza to actually look at the camera and smile on command is a prayer answered.  So, thank you Zoloft.  The sleeplessness still continues, however, and I'm waiting for that prayer to get answered or at least an understanding of why it's not getting answered!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Zoloft day 2, Eliza:  Too early in the day for a full report, BUT she just walked up to me and pulled her pj's at her bum area.  "Do you need a diaper change?"  "Mmmm" with a nod, she replied.  "Bring me a diaper please."  She walked into the bathroom and returned with a diaper.  She has NEVER told me that she need a diaper change (even in this way) and it's been many months since she's brought me a diaper, but never after just one request.  Fingers crossed; prayers being prayed...that the day continues this way!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Zoloft day 1, Eliza...all I can say is wow.  I met a new daughter today.  A daughter who looked us all in the eye.  A daughter who was smiling.  A daughter who was participating in jump rope along with her sister.  A daughter who didn't try to constantly run off from us.  A daughter who was actually sitting with us at my friend's patio, drinking water from a cup and being present.  A daughter who actually got into my friend Kim's car and happily sat there looking around to see where we were going instead of screaming and having a panic attack over getting into a stranger's car like she has in the past.  A daughter who needed only 1 prompt from me to follow an instruction.  A daughter who was trying to verbalize responses back to me again.  Wow.  I didn't get to this decision easily or lightly.  I prayed a lot about putting my 4 year old on this medication.  Now, I pray this very low dose (1/2 ml) continues to help her.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Here's a new video of my little ham practicing her new favorite thing to say! Be sure to go to the next post after watching the video for updates and lots of pictures:

Just some pictures of my two adorable little girls sharing computer time.  Aren't they so cute together?  A great website is  Ava's teacher lets her get on it during the school day when she notices that Ava starts "checking out".

Ava had a "Miss Spider's Tea Party" costume party in her class.  She had to be an insect so we used part of her Halloween costume and came up with a butterfly.  She had a great time.  The kids in her class had lots of questions for me about why I look different, why I'm not speaking chinese, how do you say ????, etc.  Very cute; very innocent and very welcoming to Ava.  They all had to tell me their names and that they are friends with Ava.   Her parent-teacher conference was the next day and she is doing very well and adjusting.  Her teacher and I decided that maybe I should come in and read a book about adoption during book time; and also come in during the Chinese New Year to talk to the class about it and let Ava show some things.  (Would welcome any of you BTDT's opinion or experiences.) 

Eliza got her haircut shorter this time.  (I always cut it because it's too much of a sensory experience in a negative way to take her to get it cut professionally).  Anyway, I loved how it turned out and would like to go even shorter!  She refused to stand still or look at the camera; this is her whizzing past me, and her picking her nose, and her actually letting me snap a picture of the back (lol).

Halloween was fun for Ava though she wasn't sure what to make of the scary parts of it!  Eliza enjoyed tolerated the jogger and only went to 3 doors, having to be carried by mom.  She wasn't into it this year at all (more on that below).  Fortunately, to help Ava understand, I had dressed in costume (sort of) too, so I happily went to each door w/ Ava collecting Eliza's treats!  I had a really good time experiencing this w/ Ava.  The girls were both dressed as fairy princesses this year.   Ava couldn't wait to put on her costume.

You should've seen Ava's face when she saw the first bowl-filled w/ candy that she got to choose from.  She took a while deciding as all the other kids were off and running to the next house.  We never did catch back up with our group.  By the end, she was just grabbing and going.  She finally said "tong" (hurt) and pointed to her legs.  She was exhausted.  Admittedly, I did play the "adopted from China" card a few times too when I had to explain that she couldn't understand their questions or the scary monsters sitting by people's front doors.  So she got lots of extra candy and lots of compliments!  She always said thank you and bye-bye, which is more than most of the little monsters kids were doing.  She is really so sweet and I'm falling in love with her. 

(She went along w/ Allie, my friend Kim and me to see the Amelia Earhardt movie on Sunday.)  Believe it or not, she enjoyed it...and the popcorn, soda and Twizzlers!  The cinematography was beautiful and not too much speaking, so she sort of understood what was happening.  I found myself watching her during the movie, just like I did when I first took Eliza to a movie.  I also had one of those moments when the  magnitude of a "China adoption" hits you...the paperwork...the travel to a foreign country...the entrusting of a child to you...  It really hit me sitting there watching THAT movie (about a woman pioneer) and my daughter.   I was a woman pioneer traveling to China alone.  Now I know what you all meant when you would e-mail me telling me that you couldn't believe I did it alone.  At the time, I wasn't thinking about it in that way; more of just needing to get there and bring home my daughter.

An update on Eliza that I've been meaning to share:  We're trying a sleep medication for Eliza (Clonidine); not having much luck w/ it.  Still averaging 6 hours of sleep per night; that's about 4-5 hours for me.  She IS still sleeping up in her room though and she IS still falling asleep relatively fast.  Seems her autism is debilitating her progress at school and home these days though.  She's requiring more redirection than ever and prone to the silly's, the twirling, laying on the floor, and flapping or hitting herself.  She has outburts of laughter, raging, crying.   Poor thing.  She's just completely unfocused and uninterested.  Please pray that she'll breakthrough this cycle as she has in the past.  She is really stunted right now.  These cycles are hard on everyone.  She's had a lot of changes both at home and in school; lack of sleep doesn't help; but really the changes have been gradual since mid-summer.  Ava is one that Eliza will really engage with though and that's great to see.  Ava adores her and fortunately, thinks Eliza's quirky ways are funny.  Having a child with autism is an isolating experience, especially during these more-autistic cyles, because life outside of the home is limited for the family.   I love Eliza so much; she's so beautiful and so intuitive; I wish I could do more for her as her mother.  (Ava's classroom looks out on the AU pre-k playground so I got to watch Eliza a little bit when I went to Ava's Miss Spider party.  Most of the time, she was either standing next to a bush or laying in the sand looking up.  I had tears in my eyes for her as I heard Ava and her classmates talking and interracting behind me.)

Enjoy all the pictures!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Though it seems quiet from here...'s definitely not.

Coughing, sniffling, whining, achey joints, nauseau, even a vomit...just keeps cycling around us. Derek has decided that "our" diagnosis is H2N2...yes, version 2 of H1N1.  What, you haven't heard of it?  If you constantly feel just blucky, tired, nauseau, but nothing comes of it, then you have what we have:  H2N2.  That's right.  Though Dr. Derek also made himself throw up and he got well in a few days, the rest of us wimps won't make ourselves throw up so we're just harboring it!

Sorry that I don't have any pictures of Ava to post.  I do have pictures that Ava took...of mommy trying to look good thru the sickness...

...And of Hogan and Sadie whom Ava has made peace with as long as it's on her terms.   In other words, she wants to measure and fill their bowls and tells them to "SHIT DOWN" as she delivers their bowls, but if they don't "SHIT DOWN", she gets louder yelling "SHITTT DOWN".   Luckily, we live on a farm so I don't worry about neighbors hearing her.  I haven't yet explained that shit is a bad word.  She also wants to walk Hogan as long as Hogan stays at least 5 feet in front of her.  If he circles back towards her/us, she lets go of the leash and screams; it's a retractable leash so it goes spinning and retracting straight at Hogan.  Poor Hogan.  I taught her to keep her hands and arms down when she is around them and if she gets afraid to walk with her head and eyes looking straight up and ahead and MARCH with determination.  (Really, our dogs are very gentle.  Hogan has been known to get excited once in a while, but he is only 2.)  He jumped up on her chest one day while she was running thru the backyard, but of course, her arms were up.  I tried to explain what happened to her.  I think she is figuring it out.  She does like the dogs though.

And then there's pictures of her little Polly Pocket dolls that she loves and is collecting.  They're all piled into the wooden car that Derek got out of storage.  His Dad had made these cars.  She thought they were really cool and perfect for a "Polly girl outing".

And lastly, a picture of Eliza looking scared as she watches Pooh and the "knocking" on the door while Pooh hides under the covers!

That's it!  School continues to go well.  There's a parent volunteer who comes and eats lunch w/ Ava 2x per week; she is native chinese and she loves translating for Ava.  Ava of course, loves it too.  Speaking of, I need to go pick her up from school now!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

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The girls heading off to school for the FIRST time enrolled together!
Yes, Ava's now in school.  Loves it! 
She's in 1st grade (tho age-wise should be in 2nd).

Feeling peer-pressure already,
following enrollment in school came a haircut!
Okay, her long GORGEOUS hair
got in the way at the water fountain,
and the toilet, etc.

She was soooo exited and so brave.

Are you kidding me, that much?
Donated to Locks of Love.

Okay, this didn't phase Ava.
It made mommy tear up though.
Seriously, I think it was my first big mommy moment;
I felt like she was my baby growing up.

Ponytail cut off, next up a good wash and massage.

Wow, look at it!

Oh my, A-DORABLE!!!
The easiest hair; I'm sooo jealous.

Okay, enough mommy; you're making me feel self-conscious.

Stop it mommy!  Put the camera away.

Yes, yes, I do love it mommy!

Why can't mommy ever get in these family photos?
Ava's first pumpkin patch and she chose a small pumpkin.
Only because that's what Eliza chose!
Next year she'll want the biggest pumpkin.

Obviously, this was a week of firsts:  school, haircut, pumpkin patch.  She had a great week.  She's very happy.  We even looked at some foster family pictures the other day and she was all smiles and telling us all about the pictures.  She came up later and gave me a big hug and said (in english) I love you mommy!