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.