Thursday, September 25, 2008

My tv junky!

Okay, so my daughter walks in the door after school, drops her backpack, turns on the tv and jumps on the couch. No kidding! Here's some random shots of Eliza watching Barney or Berenstain Bears... And no, I didn't cue her to "smile for the camera". These smiles are for "Barney" and/or "Brother and Sister Bear"... Does it matter who the smiles are for? To me, they're priceless!

The next one is my favorite, at least on the big screen, because you can see her pudgy belly and she just looks so layed back...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Silly for Fall...

Eliza still loves going to school. She came down w/ a cold around day 6, which slowed her down and made her a little out of sorts, but she gladly passed it onto mommy and was feeling much better by the end of the weekend! As for me, not so great.

We were teased w/ some gorgeous cooler weather over the weekend and of course, today is the first day of Fall. Hooray for that!

You know those first few days when you're trying to fight getting a cold and your body just feels run-down? Well, that was me yesterday. I gladly snuggled on the couch.
Eliza feeling better, still wanted to snuggle in w/ me...sort of. She was being very silly. Clearly, she didn't understand that I was not feeling well. She was trying to tickle me, stick her finger up my nose, write in my Sudoku book, jump on my stomach. I guess it's not often that I'm sitting still long enough for her to enjoy tormenting me?! So, here's some rare photos taken of Eliza and I, dressed in our pumpkin colors as we celebrated the start of Fall. I looked better than I felt and you can thank Eliza for that!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

E didn't like the substitute!

(School lunch note #3 was a little note simply explaining to Eliza that today was Friday, the end of the school week, etc. and thanking her for being a big girl.)

Some Eliza "funnies" shared by her teacher's today:

Apparently Eliza did NOT like the substitute teacher that they had in the a.m. She was described to me as a very tall, very large and very loud woman. Hmmm (that was me, to them while they're telling me about this). Typically in the AU (autism) classes, the teachers are quiet and do a lot of kneeling down at the children's levels, etc. Well, not this sub, she was frightening both Eliza and the other newby. They said that Eliza's eyes were huge and she was climbing up the teacher's aides (both of them) like a monkey. Hmmm again. They said they almost called me to come and I'm glad that they didn't. One of the TA's took Eliza to the library where they picked out a Barney book and had some quiet time, then they took a walk and visited some of the K and 1st Grade classrooms. Awww! They said that they'll recommend not to use that sub for AU again. (Sorry substitute...)

Another thing they shared was how smart Eliza is and how quickly she's catching on. They use the PEC (picture exchange communication) system. That means that her calendar has velcroed PEC card (pictures) of each task that she will work on that day (that inclues a picture of a potty and lunch, etc.) Through out the day, each child is to take the next card off their own calendar and carry it, with them, to the appropriate "center" within the room. They said that Eliza already has figured out where each center is and how the system should work. In the afternoon, she had 2 tasks left on her calendar and at the very bottom is a card w/ a picture of a backpack (obviously meaning, time to go home). So, Eliza went to the calendar and took the next card, scanned her eyes to the bottom and grabbed the card w/ the backpack on it and handed it to the teacher. They laughed really hard and told her not yet. She put it back on, started to walk away, but went back and grabbed it again. So, they laughed and said not yet again. She wiggled her shoulders and upper body (her shy way of laughing) and did as she was told. They thought that was neat. I could picture everything. She does that when I say no to something she wants; she's persistent as if saying to me, "are you sure?". Pretty awesome!!

One of these days, I'm going to get a photo of her at pick up time. She's always dragging and so tired (she refuses to nap at school so far). Here's a picture I took at drop off in the morning though.

E loves school!

School day #2 Lunch Note:

Today's lunch note,

Celebrates day two;
And like we talked about,
Smiles all the day thru.
So no tears today,
I'm always thinking of you;
And when the school day is over,
I'll be in the lobby again too!

Today, I didn't walk Eliza to her room. She was dropped off in the carpool line in front of the school. Her teacher opened the car door, said good morning, helped Eliza out and hand-in-hand they walked into the building. No tears, no looking back. My heart was both happy and melancholy today. With a hankering for Starbuck's though, I pulled away from the school and went to the grocery store and shopped enjoying a cup of coffee and the freedom to linger in the aisles a little bit. Ahhhh... As usual, I spotted two other Chinese girls w/ their moms (we have lots of China adoptions in our area) and I smiled and pouted for a minute, missing my daughter...

Eliza loves school and was happy to grab her backpack, wear it and go to school this morning. She was happy at pick up in the afternoon too. She continued to be full of herself, babbling and laughing into the early evening. Then, she crashed at 7:30 p.m. exhausted! She enjoys science (they are learning about tornadoes right now and how they swirl) and she loves story-time. As far as self-help skills, she is learning to wash her own face this week, in front of a mirror. All is great and I am so proud of her! She's amazing!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

First day of school!

Today's Lunch Note:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Your first lunch note,
From me to you.

Your first day of school,
I'm so proud of you,
Always remember,
Mommy loves you!

Eliza chose this morning of all mornings to sleep in. Can you believe I had to wake her at 8:00 a.m.? We've been talking about school for days and days. So, once awake, she was very excited this morning...full of herself, actually.

Once at school, she walked into the classroom and joined the circle. The other little ones all said "Hi". Then she turned around and gave me a hug and a little wimper, saying "e" (which means, Barney; I didn't let her bring him into class). I knelt down with her and participated in the activity until she turned back around to her classmates. She was immediately into what they were doing. Then, I snuck out the door and NO, I DIDN'T CRY. I actually smiled and felt very good about this new day for her. My mother laughed and told me that I was probably the only mom who didn't tear up. We laughed about that.

I thought about her all day and confess that I wanted to call the school to check on her. I actually did tear up though when I went back to pick her up and waited for the class in the lobby. (They release the pre-k first so they don't get swept up in the elementary school frenzy: those that have been in the carpool line know what I'm talking about!) Anyway, around the corner came Eliza's class with guess who, front and center, holding the teacher's hand. Yes! She was walking hand-in-hand, smiling and babbling really loud. What a site! Let's hope tomorrow brings the same excitement. Her teacher said she loved "science and the puppets", one of which the teacher made sure was Barney, the best! She only cried a little in the a.m. during the first hour.

As for me, I had a great day!

Update tonight and some other tidbits: Eliza has been chatting very LOUD tonight. Funny. She smiles when I talk about school. Note in the pictures that Eliza is always holding Barney's hand? Barney is the only "doll/animal" that she holds by the hands. Yesterday, she was watching Barney and started frantically looking around the family room. Next thing you know, she beat-feet upstairs and came down w/ Barney. Awww!!! Yes, she's turning into a tv junky. She turns on the tv all the time now.

While I was making dinner, I caught this. She never plays w/ these little people this way. She actually made them stand up and face each other. You can't see it here, but the little girl has a backpack on. Hmmm....I think she was making an important connection and maybe learned a little "social play" today... Could that be, already? I had tears in my eyes watching this.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

E can see again!

Glasses repaired...this time a strap was bought...SUCCESS! Two full days of keeping her glasses on and re-connecting w/ her toys, dolls and t.v. Hooray! Maybe that explains the giggle fit this afternoon? She was litterally laughing so hard that she was rolling on the floor. And no, no one was tickling her or provoking it. Yes, it was contagious!

Pumpkin Spice Latte, Tropical Storm Hannah and Housecall...

Ahhhh, enjoying my first Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte for the "fall" annual favorite of mine. Of course, it was windy, cool and raining this morning thanks to T.S. Hannah, when we first entered Starbucks (in Target). After finishing our shopping, however, we walked out into the sunshine and UGH...HOT weather. Yuck! The storm moved on out while we were shopping. So, you could say that my spunky, "looking-forward-to-fall" mood quickly vanished. I did enjoy school shopping for Eliza though and buying everything on her "school supplies" list. Doing that put a little skip into my step as I imagined my little peanut growing up and actually going to school. I got a little twang in my heart too knowing I'd miss her. But then I started humming and remembered all the things I'll be able to get done and off I went daydreaming:

"I'll be able to weed all my flower beds and plant fall mums;
I'll be able to start working out and get a toned body;
I'll be able to go shopping and shopping and shopping;
I'll be able to try the clothes on IN the store;
I'll be able to leave the house w/out all the extras and at the moment I want to leave;
I'll be able to cook gourmet meals and bake luscious deserts;
I'll be able to..................ahhhhhh"

Okay, well maybe not ALL of that, but a girl can daycream, can't she? Dropping her off at 9:15; pick up at 3:45...The hours alone are enough to daydream about right there.

Only other update is that Eliza's new teacher made a house-call yesterday afternoon! She likes to come by and see the kids in the their home, play w/ them a bit and talk w/ the parents about their routine, what they need help with, what they enjoy doing, etc. Of course, all of that is in the report that she received, but she likes to make it more personal and to help the child make the connection of who she is in their familiar setting. I thought that was awesome. She spent almost 2 hours with us. She sat and played w/ Eliza and got lots of hugs and eye contact. She watched Eliza "listen" to and "follow directions" from Daddy and Mommy. She watched Eliza track our movements and what we were doing. She listened to Eliza babble and laugh. She was very impressed and feels really good about having Eliza in her class. Derek and I both gave her lots of kuddos for coming to the house to do this.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A smile is worth a 1000 words!


Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply,
to enjoy simply, to think freely,
to risk life,
to be needed.
Storme Jameson (1891-1986), English Writer

The phone rang during dinner tonight. It was Eliza's assigned teacher. (Read the previous post to be brought up to speed.) Her voice was so friendly and warm and JUST what I needed tonight.

Reassurance. Angsting over the previous days, days ahead, the choice of which school I had to make... The voice on the other end of the phone was a prayer answered: A confident and compassionate extended hand inviting Eliza and I to step into this next chapter.

She told me she had just received the e-mail from our caseworker assigning Eliza to her class and that she hadn't yet received Eliza's file yet. She said she was so excited to have a girl join the class that she wanted to call us right away. She didn't have any girls in her class last year and this year, she only had 3 boys. You know those boys are going to be loving having beautiful Eliza in the class. Hope she's not a distraction for those poor boys.

So, we chatted about Eliza and then she happened to mention that tonight was Open House. I told her I'd love to come over w/ Eliza, if that would be okay since she didn't have Eliza's file yet and she said, "Yes, definitely, come to the Open House." So Eliza and I quickly finished up dinner and drove to the elementary school...literally 5 minutes away. The parking lot was packed. Eliza got out of the car, had to bring Barney with her, but walked (which is a big deal; she'd rather be carried in new settings). She walked all the way down the sidewalk like a big girl, into the front doors, down the hallway and into the classroom. She looked Miss Robin in the eye and smiled. That was HUGE. She did get a little nervous and want to be picked up, but I held my ground and just got down to her level for reassurance. Then she started checking out her new classroom.

Eliza has a way of "knowing" things. Because she's not verbal, you often wonder if she's "getting it", but she is. She has very good receptive understanding, but also has this "knowing". So she fiddled around while Miss Robin and I talked about what to expect, all the while I knew she was listening to us. When we got home tonight, she was very content and smiled a lot. She went right up to bed and gave me a long, tight hug, then puckered her lips for a kiss. She held her gaze in my eyes for about 20 seconds. In those moments, I know she's trying to tell me something. Tonight, I think she was telling me that "we" were going to be okay. A difficult day turned happy.

ELEPHANT in the room and THIS and THAT

I saw this on a beautiful blog today (catchingbutterfliestwo) and had to copy it here:

"To the world, you may be one person;
but to one person, you are the world!"
- Author unknown.

That really spoke to me for many reasons...more on that below.

Okay, so the ELEPHANT in the room. Eliza has been diagnosed w/ Autism. I'm putting it out here because it's something that I'm going to be writing a lot about and frankly, I want to, no need to talk about it. She will be starting school in an AU class (Autism only) next Wednesday, 5 days a week, traditional school hours. She was accepted into a great program offered thru our school system to those that qualified. It's intensive and she will be getting many different therapies in a social setting. The class size right now is only 4 children (including Eliza) w/ an Autism Special Ed teacher and two assistants. It's going to be a big change for her (and for me). My heart is still aching for my loss and for her loss, but I have to remain in the present and focused on helping her. Please pray for her.

Remember my desire to train Hogan to be a therapy dog once Eliza started school? Well, I've read about therapy dogs helping children w/ autism. Then I found out that our school system has a R.E.A.D. dog (a dog that visits schools and becomes an audience to children in speech therapy helping them read out loud and gain confidence from a "non-judgemental, compassionate and non-peer" spectator. I thought that was pretty cool and as Eliza goes thru the Autism program, who knows, maybe Hogan can travel to the AU classes and offer therapy assistance! Hmmm.... I'll need to get to work on that.

Some THIS and THAT: Before I forget, I updated my previous post (trip to Kansas) w/ some additional photos and edited what I had originally written. Check it out.

Also, Miss Eliza broke her glasses on our 2nd day in Kansas. She had been refusing to wear them for the week leading up to our trip. So in front of her old Yang girlfriends, she bent and twisted the arm all the way back and around. While they are the flexible kind, they're not that flexible. It was as if she was saying to me, "Ta da, you can't make me wear them anymore in front of my friends." Hrumph...they are in the shop getting fixed. I'm also going to buy a back-up pair this time.

What else? Well, since being back home from our Kansas trip (which I still miss so much), I've been fostering 2 golden retriever puppies (now 10 weeks old) for the breeder that we got Hogan from. They are little brothers to Hogan and are so cute. One is a "keeper" (no, I'm not keeping him). He's as easy as Hogan and smart, already knows to sit in order to get a pet from me. The other one is a tubby. He jumps on me, has managed to catch my hen already, chases cats up trees, wants to run the pasture after the geese, swims in the baby pool. He's a hoot, but a handful. Hogan has been mothering (or brothering) them and is having a really good time being chased around by them. It's actually been fun. Fun in a sort of Grandma-way; I enjoy the "grandkids", but know they're going back home! Anyway, the reason I'm fostering is that the breeder and her husband finally went to Vietnam to bring home their twin baby girls. They are GORGEOUS!!!

Enjoy today's photos!

Reading to her two favorite dolls...

Not happy that I interrupted her.

Hogan and the two pups