I have discontinued this blog and have now combined both Eliza's and Ava's blog at: http://www.tobringherhome.blogspot.com/ Please stop by for the latest updates and pictures of both my beautiful daughters who are now FOREVER SISTERS, FOREVER FRIENDS!
Eliza's got a new best friend...Barney, meet Winnie the Pooh!
So, I'm busy checking off my lists for China this a.m. and Eliza is sitting at the table next to me watching the (original) Pooh movie on this portable DVD player that I borrowed from my friend Marisa to take to China for Meiying. (I know, can you believe we don't have one of these?) Who knew Eliza would enjoy sitting here watching her own movie? She watched the entire movie last night too. Okay, well back to the list that keeps getting revised...just close the suitcase, Sarah. Be done! lol
I know, 2 posts back-to-back?! What else do you do on a rainy day?
My posts are always longgggg too.
I want to preface this by saying that Eliza is happy 99% of the time and so am I.
I said in the last post that Eliza has really matured. She loves pushing the grocery cart w/ me and helping pick out all her favorite things or at least things that look familiar to her. She hasn't tried to run off down the aisle from me lately and she will wait patiently while I ponder over something. I'm actually enjoying shopping again.
She's been constantly vocally attempting to communicate. Most of it is jibberish, but it's purposeful and that's what matters. She is learning that power over her environment.
I've been talking more to her about my upcoming travel to China to bring home her sister. She's gotten quiet over this and I'm not sure if that's what the latest tears have been about or not. We've also reached a major nighttime issue. We added Ava's bed to "Eliza's" room (nka "girls' room"). She refuses to go in there and she refuses to sleep in there. Freaks out! Anyone w/ suggestions; any other AU mom's w/ suggestions too, I'd appreciate hearing it all. We've let her fall asleep downstairs, but she wakes as soon as we move her to her bed and freaks out again. So...she sleeps between us. We never allowed this w/ either of the older kids and we never allowed it w/ Eliza. Sleep deprivation made us cave in. She literally needs to be touching us all night. Help. A new type of sleep deprivation is now upon me from sleeping on the edge of the bed with 2 snoring people next to me.
I've had my own tears lately (as anyone who has been on the adoption journey can relate to). Whether it's the emotions of the end-stretch of this paper-pregnancy or just the quiet and yes, sometimes, lonely part of being a mother to a non-verbal child living in a body controled by autism. (I realize that motherhood can be lonely regardless and am not looking for sympathy, only to explain that sometimes I'm not as strong as I need to be.) So, a few times this summer, I've had my tears and have said out loud to Eliza that I'm tired, really tired, and sad and that I really wish she could talk to me...blah, blah, blah, whine, whine, whine. Really pitiful on my part I know and I'm ashamed. I've later caught her silently crying and when I've asked her what's the matter, I'M NOT KIDDING, she has said (over and over)..."Oh mama, I am...Oh mama. Oh mama, I do." Now, mind you, most of what Eliza says is not clear and for the most part, my ear has been trained to understand what she's saying, but these words have been clear as a bell.
Imagine what my heart feels when I've witnessed this? Guilt. Sorrow. Joy. Pride. Encouragement. God. Love. Peace.
She is amazing. I've tried to get it on video, but she clams up. Perhaps it's meant for my ears only and for my heart only. I love her so much.
Eliza did wonderful at speech therapy today w/ the use of a bowl of chips as a motivator (1 chip for each successful attempt at a sound). I think the teacher thought I was nuts, but hey, whatever works. Proud of my little girl!
Eliza really enjoyed hiking up Grandfather Mountain (NC). She was very purposeful in her foot placements and even pushed my hand away when I attempted to help her up or down onto some of the high rocks. I thought she'd hold us back from keeping up with the rest of the family, but she really motored along. These were very narrow, windy, rocky trails too! I told her I was proud of her and asked her if she liked hiking...a few minutes later, as clear as day, I heard her say "uh huh". I smiled to myself.
At the top, while waiting for the brave members of the family to return from crossing the Swinging Bridge (no thank you), I met a Chinese female dr. married to an american man. They just returned from Guilin, where Ava Meiying is, 3 weeks ago. She had previously practiced as a dr. working w/ some orphanages in Ava's province, Guangxi. Of course, she told Eliza that she is a very lucky girl. She was excited that we were going to adopt a 7 yo from Guilin. Don't you know I was sitting there wishing Ava was there to experience the vacation with us...and poof, up that man and woman walked! Do you think they were angels sent to tell me that Ava was there with us?
On top of that...10 minutes later, a couple walked up from Amarillo w/ a 6 and 7 yo from China. The younger daughter was adopted in '04 and they adopted the 7 yo last year as a waiting child (she had a brace on her lower leg, but still managed to make the hike). They were sweet and beautiful. They were excited that we were going back to China for a 7 year old too! I wish I had asked if they had a blog.
Eliza withdrew around my brother and his family and was quite content playing w/ Barney and some of the toys we brought off on her own, but overall, I think she had a very good time and had no problem taking in the cabin and change of routine. She thought it was funny that I was up on the top bunk enjoying my a.m. coffee one morning and tried so hard to climb the ladder herself. Once Daddy helped her up, she was full of herself and played up there by herself for about an hour!
Lastly, Hogan was amazing on his first vacation with the family. He was so quiet and well-behaved. He was super gentle w/ my 5 yo nephew who has a great fear of dogs. He even got my nephew to play ball w/ him. He was quite the site whever we went. Everyone had to stop and pet him along the hiking trails. He even had his photo taken by an asian family (ha, remember all the photos we'd take in China that I'm sure they wondered what was so special to merit a photo?); and by many other families. He was an inspiration for many people who were trying to conquer their fear of heights. They would stop and tell us that they saw Hogan sitting and almost looking right at them and it calmed them down as they made the trek. He is definitely going into training to be a service/therapy dog. It's his calling and he was so happy to be top dog for the weekend. You should've seen how sad he was when he came home and realized he was just a dog again. Oh, but we did find one imperfection: he gets car sick...it could've been the twisting road up thru the mountains of NC, but after 4 yacks up and 4 yacks back home...dramamine will be given next time.
The bunkhouse a/k/a cabinDiscovering the fun of the top bunk!Hiking, having celebrity status and photo sessions is tiring!
Barney, mommy said you couldn't come hiking with us. It's not fair.
I should've had a sign hanging on Hogan that read: Conquer your fears. Bridge walk assistant for hire!
Finally, back home and showered up...shiney, swinging hair!
And look who was there to greet us...she missed us!
Eliza has had a very vocal week. Lots of what appears to be conversations with me. Here's a few videos of some major accomplishments just this week: responding to me about whether she needs a diaper change, followed up with getting me a clean diaper; and also the types of "conversations" we've had.
This was the first year that Liza was awake for any July 4th fireworks and did she ever love it! Eliza sat on my lap, eyes as bright as ever. She giggled and pointed to the sky non-stop and clapped right along with me. A few times, she reached her tiny arm around behind my neck and gave me a backwards hug as tight as she could in shear joy. It was one of those moments of connection that I will treasure. She loved the fireworks. I was only worried, sensory-wise, for a minute because I also knew that she loves bright lights and colors and rythmic beats...so she proved me right!
The kitten is now separated from her mom and has been growing up in her new-temporary home on our screened porch until she joins her permanent family (friends of ours).
In the meantime, she loves watching Eliza jump on the trampoline and stalk Liza as she reads her magazines...and chew on Liza's toes... We've been spending lots of time on the screen porch shaded by the old red oaks and watching the kitty play!
Swimming...I've got to bring my camera. She is now swimming w/out a vest and tries so hard to keep a float. She loves to sit indian-style on the bottom of the 3 foot section and slowly release air (bubbles) from her mouth. She comes up from the bottom laughing away. She took water in her nose and didn't like it, but blew it out and then went back under. She's been really watching and mimicking the other children as they splash and dive and swim. It's been a fantastic couple of weeks of growth.
On July 4th, she actually was interracting w/ another 4 yo named Joseph at our pool. He is the cutest, funniest little boy. He's always played alongside Eliza for the past few years, but never really pushed his way into trying to play with her like some of the other 4 and 5 yo's are doing now (i.e. why doesn't she talk, why won't she play with me, why is she ignoring me...). It's been a sort of unspoken play between them. Well, on this particular day, he was telling his gramma and me to watch him as he went under water. So, Eliza started doing it along with him and I could see that she was opening her eyes under water and looking around in amazement. At one point, she pushed off from under water and "swam" to him and with arms extended out, reached for his hands. It was so neat. He laughed and did it back to her. Then she turned and did the same thing to me, poking me in the belly from under the water. She came up laughing. Another moment of connection that I will treasure.
Summer days...other than the pool, "we"'re enjoying my new obsession steam cleaning the carpets. I'm ocd about vacuuming every day so it's only fitting that I'd enjoy steam cleaning too. My carpets looks beautiful! We're riding bikes, jumping on the trampoline, reading books and speech therapy starts this week too. We're eating lots of summer veggies and my favorite, lettuce-tomatoe sandwiches...and playing with the kitty. I'm daydreaming a lot about Meiying and how it's all going to go when she we first meet (the good, the frightening and the grief) and about having her home. That's about it! ...Oh and I saw the Jersey Boy's production Sunday night w/ some of my girlfriends. It was fantastic! The Jersey language was a bit much, but the songs were fantastic. You forget how many hits Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons had. I could see it again.
This is the 1 kitten that survived birth. Mama-cat has been a great mom. The kitten is about 3 weeks old and so tiny. That's my hand in the background just to show you how small it is. Kind of looks like a little skunk doesn't it? We know who the father is...he wanders around all the farms out here. He's friendliest tom-cat...he is black w/ a white tuxedo. Notice the resemblance! The mom (the famous cat of the "Ginger-kitty and Emma-the-hen" duo is a tortoiseshell w/ big, green eyes. This kitten has some tabby stripes to him that are going to make his markings so beautiful.
As for Eliza...
Been meaning to take the camera along to the pool for some updated photos and videos since that's where we're spending most of our time. Until I actually remember to put the camera in the pool bag, all I have to offer is this video.
I've been working on having Eliza acknowledge or respond to a question or request. She has been doing excellent in either sounding "yes" or "no" and/or shaking her head to respond. Let me tell you, as a parent to a non-verbal child, just getting an appropriate response (as in yes or no) is such a growth.
I was really worried about Eliza being away from school for the summer months and had to think long and hard about what I wanted to concentrate on with her during the summer. After a few days at the pool and noticing everyone saying "hi" or asking her questions, I decided to focus on helping others and Eliza get "focused" on one another (teaching them how to get into her space and get that response from Eliza and getting Eliza to feel comfortable enough to make the eye contact with them). She is doing great. She responds faster to me and still seems to randomly ignore some people while acknowledging others. That's another subject though because I truly believe that she is more in-tune with people than we realize and that she is picking up on some energy...
Anyway, pardon the summer pj's and bed-head in this video. I'm so proud of her!
Eliza in June: Very deliberate, very opinionated...very communicative! She "told" me that I didn't buckle her into the car seat the other morning by saying "mama...MAMA" until I turned around from the front seat and she was pulling on the seat belt trying to do it herself. She "reminded" me to give her a vitamin this morning saying "mama" and pointing to the cabinet w/ a big smile. She's also been talking back to us in a sassy, too-big-for-her-britches way already trying to negotiate with us...sounds very chinglish and we don't know what she's saying other than understanding her tone and feistiness. She looks right into our eyes and leans her face forward (chin out) and tells you off. It's very funny. Eliza has been making lots of choices herself too(what cereal to eat, what to pack in her lunch...) and even what to buy at the grocery store. Much to Daddy and Allie's delight, she chose Fruit Loops and Corn Pops (yuck). And the other day, after getting her dressed, she picked out a different shirt and pushed it at me. I've been finding her dresser drawers open and certain pieces of clothing pulled out. Hmmm. Lastly...drum roll, she's been waking up dry and peeing on the potty in the a.m.
Happy Memorial Day weekend and happy birthday Grandma!!
No more ponytails or chewing on my hair (well, ok, I can still put my hair in my mouth and mommy said that we might have to cut it shorter, but 4 inches off was good enough for now). Yes, I got a new summer haircut. And guess what else? Yesterday, our pool opened and I swam for 4 hours (not counting the annoying breaktimes when the lifeguards made me get out and rest, but at least I got to eat snacks then). It only took me one time to be reminded that I had to get out of the pool for breaktime. I screamed and kicked for about 5 seconds and mommy had to remind me that everyone gets out of the pool. The rest of the afternoon, when the lifeguard blew the whistle, I got right out. The water was really cold, but I got used to it. Even mommy came in and helped me learn to swim again. I practiced lots of jumping into the water while mommy helped me. I was also happy to see so many of my old friends. All the mom's kept saying that we've all grown so much...well, we are 4 now! I wasn't as shy this year and I made great eye contact with my friends and their mommys'. Everyone noticed and told me I was such a big girl. Mommy said that I mimicked and played and talked a lot and that I did really good. I even called out "mama" when I wanted something. It was a lot of fun! I can't wait to go to the pool again...today, right mommy?
Tired of the videos? Here's some still photos of Eliza brushing her hair...to sleep. Look how tired and glazed over her eyes look. I can remember brushing and brushing my hair before I went to bed when I was a little girl. Actually, I was always brushing my hair... I found Eliza (unsolicited) brushing her hair the other night. It was really sweet. She let me snap pictures and then showed how she can now smile on command for the last picture. This moment came on the heels of a tough week; a very autistic week. She was very unfocused at school, distracted by her feet? Hitting her head a lot; major sleep issues... just an all around tough week. But today is Sunday and she is napping next to me on the couch at a nice early hour so I'm hoping and praying that next week the sun shines brighter on us!
Been having busy days here. Nothing much to tell just day-to-day stuff. Winding down the school year w/ only 4 weeks left. The pool opens next weekend...I can't believe that the '08 school year is ending and that the '09 pool season is beginning.
Derek was invited by one of his customers to attend the BMW Golf Tournament in SC this week and while riding the bus from the parking lot to the golf course, he sat next to a woman and a dog in training to be in service for autism. Check it out: http://www.dogsforautism.org/ Two of the many things the dogs are trained for is to "protect" the child from themselves...herding a child to stay inside the boundaries of the property...alerting parents when a child opens a door to go outside, etc., etc...all things that we are beginning to deal with with Eliza. Surely, Hogan or Sadie can be trained to help us!
Here's some footage of Allie teaching Eliza some cheerleading moves and stretching exercises. I caln't remember if it's this video or not, but on one of them you can hear Eliza making the same sounds (not words, but sounds) as Allie. She's doing great mimicking everything and trying to make more and more sounds. She's been a pistol though since being sick...all toddler...lots of temper tantrums, very dramatic screaming and throwing her body at you or the floor when she doesn't get her way. She has also learned to smile at you though and has been using that when she wants something (smarty-pants). With Derek and I still getting our strength back after being sick, her moods have been a bit tiring. I'm allowed to say that right? Thankfully, Allie is such a good big sister. Enjoy...
Okay, I get all the hints from your e-mails...I haven't updated 'cause we have all been sick. I don't have any good pictures to post not for lack of trying, but for lack of getting a picture that didn't show a runny nose. So, here's the completely random highlights of the last week:
1) Eliza had strep, an ear infection and 102 temp; and she's not a good patient.
2) At the same time, Mommy had an upper respiratory infection and wasn't very patient or comforting.
3) Daddy was away for work. Made for a very tough week.
4) A/C got a temporary patch; needs a new part, but they don't make it anymore???
5) Daddy came home from a week of meetings in Minneapolis and got sick; he's not a good patient either.
6) It's been raining, raining, raining...April showers brought all my flowers to life; and our Red Oaks in the backyard popped giving us the glorious canopy of shade that we love come summer.
7) Eliza's gladiator sandals were a success so I bought a second pair in purple, of course.
8) Allie finally went to an ortho for her knees that are constantly in pain and give out on her.
9) Diagnosis is Patellafemural Stress Syndrome (patella doesn't line up w/ the femural groove and therefore, dislocates constantly...should've seen the x-rays).
10) She will need p/t 2x per week to strengthen her inner thigh muscles. Re-eval in 6 weeks.
11) Will probably need surgery though.
12) Dad bought Mom 2 new golf clubs for Mother's Day and I love them (Taylor Made Burners - hybrids)!!
13) First Couple's Golf of the season begins this Friday which means "date night" is back on for us...ooh la la...drinks and dinner follow golf...and they have babysitting at the Club...get any better than that?
14) I've found an old childhood friend (Jocelyn) on Facebook who I haven't talked to since probably senior year of highschool. Was 1983 really 26 years ago???
15) I've been so excited to read her e-mails. She is a teacher and has been teaching special ed (children w/ autism too...wow) and has 2 handsome teenage boys. I feel old...26 years???
16) It dawned on Allie yesterday that (in her words and with a big smile) "in a few short months, we're going to be a family of 6 and there will be 3 girls and mom sitting on the couch at night watching Idol! And I'll have 2 little sisters asking me to drive them places in a few years." Mom's reply: "Yes, and I'll have 1 more child making demands on me and no, I'm not ready for you to be imagining yourself driving yet. I was kind of hoping you'd be around to play board games with your sisters for a few more years!?!"
17) Eliza is constantly saying "mama" and "dada" and she's been talking back to us too (good, bad and funny).
18) My house has been neglected; we should have bought stock in Kleenex and OJ.
19) This week has been Teacher Appreciation Week: I can't thank YOU enough!
(If you want to read about Eliza only, skip the first few paragraphs.)
It's Tuesday and we've had a run of 90 plus degree days here in NC. That's 90 with humidity! It's not pleasant. We generally have a short spring here, but c'mon...90 already? I seriously almost passed out during my tennis lesson on Saturday morning (which I love playing by the way) and felt sick during golf too...Derek and I got in 9 holes that afternoon...not a good idea, I thought I was suffering from heat stroke.
On Sunday, Allie and I played in the season's first "family golf"...Best Ball format. We didn't score very well, but we had lots of fun despite the heat. We were paired up with my good friend Marisa and her 7 year old son Jordan, who might end up being in the same grade/class as Meiying! Allie is just getting started so she's at that phase of becoming quickly defeated if she doesn't make good contact with the ball and thus easily distracted with thoughts of "what time is it", "I'm hungry", "I'm thirsty", "I'm tired"... She has a really good swing and would seriously crush the ball if she made contact. I finally told her to slow down though and think of a fluid dancer's move...WHACK!! She did it. We did play 2 of her drives from the junior tee's (thankfully, big advantage) and she sunk a long putt to make par for us on one much needed hole. I couldn't make a putt to save our life that day so we 3 putted just about all the other holes. And the golf Gods thought it was humorous to make us play out of the bunkers quite a bit too. Yeah, can you believe out of the 2 of us in a Best Ball format, the best we could do was come up with a sand shot? Allie learned how difficult that was once you stepped down into those bunkers with a high lip staring her in the face! I've been working on my short-iron game though and I'm actually starting to enjoy that now (bunkers, chip shots)...my coach-husband is very proud of his teaching! The horse pasture comes in handy for a driving range and our sand/riding arena is great for practicing those sand shots. I'll tell you tho, my mid-40 body just can't handle the hot temps like it used to unless I'm sitting in a pool and that's still a few weeks away.
To make matters worse, our A/C is not working AGAIN. Remember that from last summer? I think we just need to break down and invest in a new unit. This is the original unit to the house and every summer, we have to replace something very expensive on the unit. Not good timing w/ the adoption expenses. I'm expecting the repair man on Wednesday and we'll see what the prognosis is this year. In the meantime, we close up during the day and run the fans and open up the windows and doors at night (somehow, Mom, that worked growing up in upstate NY, not in the south though).
So, that leads to this post on Eliza...WHICH IS WHAT THIS BLOG IS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT...SORRY FOR DIGRESSING. My princess E is still riding her bike like crazy and getting more daring; don't know where she learned these things (no hands, zig-zagging, going way too fast). She took lots of falls this weekend, but didn't cry once. She's a trooper. Her knees and shins are all black & blue! We bought 2 pairs of summer sandals (her first flip-flops) and a sandal version of hightops (gladiator jelly sandals, flashback to the 80's) that hopefully, she'll keep on her feet at school. She still has that barefoot obsession. The converse hightops were the only shoes she couldn't get off so we're hoping the gladiator sandals will replace those for the summer. She wore them to school today and I asked for a progress report at the end of the day so I'd know whether to buy some other colors (Walmart, cheap, but cute.)
In today's video, I wanted to show you all the progress she's making on saying "juice" just since last week. She's really working hard on this word. Also, in the video, you'll see her appear like she's rocking (which can be an autism stim, not for Eliza though), but she's not rocking...she's actually trying to push away from the table which is what she does if I don't respond fast enough to what she wants. The problem is, since the A/C isn't working, the humidity made everything sticky, including the floors, so her chair is NOT sliding no matter how hard she pushes. Ha, ha! She also keeps looking away from the camera (which can also be an autism thing), but in this case, she's more stunned and perplexed about why she can't slide her chair. I got a little chuckle out of it when I watched the video back because I know her so well and know exactly what she was thinking...that look that comes over her "Darn it, I'm not in control".
Her teachers told me yesterday that they had a little conversation in sign language with Eliza that went like this: Eliza signed that she wanted to "walk" (guessing to her next center or task). Her teacher signed "no, Eliza, sit and wait"; Eliza signed back "sit and wait" and down she sat. No words were exchanged, only signing. That's pretty neat! They were proud of her. They are such an amazing and gifted group of teachers. I can't tell them thank you enough. She's also been mimicking everyone like crazy. She loves to watch Super Why...especially the character Princess P. When Princess P says "wands up", Eliza holds her invisible wand up. It's hilarious. In the photos below, Eliza is watching the very beginning of Super Why and I'm trying to tell her we have to leave for school (I DVR-it so she can watch it after school). Well, enjoy and wands up everyone!
I apologize for the previous non-Eliza posts. Here's a few Easter photos for your viewing pleasure. Our dear friends-like-family, George and Judy, put on a Scavenger Easter Egg Hunt. This was very serious business...rules and all.
There's also a video with Eliza saying my favorite word "mama"...also her favorite lately...she says it all day long. Sometimes just babbling; other times, very purposeful. Just hearing it is food for my soul though. This morning, she walked into our bedroom and softly said "hey". Then, she said "Daddy". (Derek's out of town.) The rest of the morning, it's been "mama". In the video, you'll hear her try to say "juice". This is the first time she's actually said it! Her teachers told me that she had the best day ever yesterday. She was really focused and a sponge. It must be the pep-talks we have in the car on the way to school when I tell her to use her manners, have fun, smile, be silly, be nice to her friends, listen, talk, try to go on the potty and that I want to hear good things when I come back in the afternoon to pick her up.
Did I mention that we're DTC (dossier to China for you non-adoption speaking folks)!! Sorry, I had to slip that in there because I woke up this morning and reminded myself that I don't have to do any paperwork today! Alrighty, enjoy...