Monday, May 17, 2010


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:

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.


Tami said...


Thank you SO MUCH for posting today! Ava's progress encourages my heart as we wait for Aubrie!

Continuing to pray for that sweet, sweet little Eliza. She will *always* have a very special place in my heart. I know you are blessed to be her momma - but I also believe she is very blessed to have you!

Many blessings!

Catching Butterflies 3 said...

One of the hardest things to do is not compare your child to anyone else. It sounds like Eliza is making some slow progress. Jessica can not speak 3 words in a row or sit on a swing. Fix your eyes on her, and do not worry about her future. You do not know how far she will go. All any of us can safely manage is now. Now seems glad in it! you will bring her as far forward as you can, and God will give you the grace to love who she is.

Kristi said...

I will never believe that a 4 yr. child with autism who is signing 4 words in a row is mentally handicapped - it just can't be! And if the school district assigns that label to E, just remember that with autism as severe as our girls have, their progress and how they "test" is so dependent on the quality of their educational programs and teachers to date. I am not saying that E has had anything other than fabulous teachers, I am saying that from my own experience we have had some that were better than others and a high turn over rate - both of these things have surely had a negative impact on Viv's rate of progress. Also, you may remember, I hit rock bottom when Vivianna was 4. It just seemed at that age, for some reason, there were many struggles. I'm sure that Eliza understands much more than it seems or that she able to express at this time. Hang in there. With Viv at 5 1/2, I have a new lease on life!! Can she talk? No. But, I see more and more NT connections happening that I had lost hope with last year and it is so exciting. If we can get her attending issues and hyperactivity under control, she has amazing things to share with us, I'm sure of it. Eliza does too, I'm sure of it!! Hang in there!!

Kristi said...

I sure do hope my previous post didn't offend you in any way. That wasn't my intention at all. I want to give you hope, b/c I believe that there is reason to have a lot of hope for our kids with autism. Having said this, I do not personally know Eliza in "real life". Maybe I shouldn't have assumed/said so much b/c you are her mom and no one knows her better than you do (i.e. I didn't mean to not be listening to you..) Still, for some reason I can't explain, I do feel that E has real potential. She will gain a lot from the playtimes with a college student and I think the breaks, knowing she's engaged, will do a lot for your spirit.

Mary Kate said...

I love your posts!!! You are so honest and funny!!! I am so happy both the girls are getting school opportunities that are very valuable...It has been wonderful reading about Ava...We are still a few months away from traveling to Wei Shasha from Guilin (Ava's friend)....Thanks for a new post!!!
Mary Kate

Tiffany said...

Just thinking about you girls and thought I would stop by your blog for a visit. So glad to see this post... :-)

I love reading about Miss E and Miss Ava!

Congrats to you on the cast coming off.....

Truly Blessed said...

Glad to see another post, it sounds like you're keeping plenty busy!

I'm encouraged (again) by your post, you are the PERFECT mom for Eliza and Ava, you realize that, right? You just know how to deal with each of them just how they need it, that's a real gift!

It was so lovely meeting you and your girls in April, I sure hope we can get together again!

Colin and Jill Canada said...

Hugga? Oh my darling, that is so precious - she truly sounds like the most precious child in the world. AND YES, your husband is funny - Dr. i-first?!!!! I got the biggest kick out of that, I laughed hard too. Loved Ava's reaction to it!

I am praying for you and Eliza. I really have no words, because although I can try and imagine how hard this is for you all, I can't. It is huge as you say and I am truly praying that your family has the strength to work with her. God gave you these two girls, and I know He knew what He was doing, you are SUCH an amazing Mum. God doesn't give us things we can't handle, and He put sweet Eliza in the home He knew would best meet her needs. Sometimes when I think of it this way, it overwhelms me...because His ways are so perfect, even when we feel we can't cope, He knows, He understands.

I promise you, you are in my prayers Sarah. I'm so glad to see you blogging again. I've missed you so badly. I always love to hear your real life postings and beautiful writings.


Colin and Jill Canada said...

Btw, I'd love to give that Eliza girl and huge big hug right now.

She is such a sweet girl and I will always feel that special connection to her as being one of the first Yangdong girls I came across. She is beautiful.

Jill xo

PS - 4 words signing in a row? really is progressing.