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We saw the first pictures of our first baby (or the #1 baby as she frequently reminds Merry).

From this:

To this:

 

I have no idea how that happened. Seven years has gone by SO FAST!

And today – 7 years to the day we first saw her pictures and signed our Letter of Acceptance – Ava came home from school asking me to explain again what adoption really means because some kids have been asking her at school. She asked me if I would have rather she had been in my tummy (I said no, because then she wouldn’t be Ava) and she asked me some questions about her birth mom.

You know, it is freaking PAINful to look at your tiny little #1 baby/7 year old and tell her you don’t know anything about her birth mom. Don’t know who she is, where she is, got zip, zero, nada, nothing. And if it’s this painful to me then it shatters me to think of what she is going to have to process in her heart and psyche – and now I know it’s going to begin sooner rather than later.

Of course she also asked me if she had to get married and seemed delighted when I told her no and explained that she had a choice on who she could/would marry, when she could get married, or even to choose not to get married at all. Not quite sure where that one came from…

11/5/2007 – 3:04PM

I was not yet a mom. I was an anxiety-ridden hot mess of a pre-adoptive waiting parent. Waiting for what seemed like forever at the time (but compared to now it was really nothing) to know something – anything – about our baby.

11/5/2007 – 3:05PM

I got the phone call and my life changed in an instant. I immediately launched into mom worry. I knew who she was and where she was but that was pretty much it. I had no control, no oversight, nothing to reassure myself that all was well with this child that was to be mine and no way to watch over her, even from afar, to ensure her well-being. It was the one of the top 3 days of my life, no doubt, but it immediately changed my whole world in ways I never dreamed.

No big celebrations here for referral day. We just told Ava (again) the story of that day. Where I was (work), what I did (cried/laughed/cried more), who I called (J and both grandmothers), what they did (cried/laughed/cried). It was an amazing moment that I know I will never forget. I can see it (Technicolor), feel it (Warm Fuzzies), and taste it (Cotton Candy and a nice bottle of Moscato – but not together because that would be gross) like it was yesterday and I want to make sure that Ava always knows what a life-changing day that was…for all of us.

Hi. My name is A and I did NOT click the “I’m voting in The 2014 U.S. Election button” on Facebook. Said while hanging head in shame, of course.

I think this is the first time I haven’t voted since I turned 18. I’m probably going to feel guilty about this for years but I guess I’ll just add it to the long list of things that I don’t do anymore since motherhood took over my life. Like going to the gym or on dates with my husband or regular manicures/pedicures/massages/anything that would be just for me kind of stuff.

My state does not allow absentee voting unless you meet specific criteria (travel, exceptional work commitments, illness, etc.) which I did not meet this year. For the last several years I have been able to vote absentee which has worked out well so it kind of irks me that something other states allow just.isn’t.done in mine.

So why didn’t I vote?

I had a hard to get appointment EARLY this morning for a physical therapist to custom make an ulnar gutter splint for me. It’s that super frustrating (and achy) TFCC tear again. This is the fourth brace/splint I’ve had in the last 8 weeks and I’m over it. None of them have worked so I have little faith that this will be the miracle fix I’d like it to be. The whole process took just over two hours and I’m already going to have to go back for an adjustment – urgh. The velcro strap they attached to the top of it has come loose so I’m back in one of the older braces and feeling like this morning was mostly a waste of time.

Since my appointment was so early both girls were up and at school/daycare much earlier than usual which meant they were both way cranky and tired when picked up this afternoon. Merry encountered a wagon with her face today so she was not happy and needed to spend some time with an ice pack once we got home. Ava was hungry and grumpy so after a full day at work and with J working a 24 hour shift I just COULD NOT bear the thought of waiting in line with an aching wrist and two so-not-down-with-patience kids. And you know, you do have to feed them which (theoretically) involves cooking even if it was only boxed macaroni and cheese (don’t judge me – it was organic) and sliced turkey.

And you know that every vote counts thing? Yeah, our state is one that is dead even so they already know a recount is coming. Just imagine the potential for guilt there…

Oh, the dread.

I never realized, as a child, that parent teacher conferences are wayyy worse for the parents than the kid. I have vague recollections of my mom going to a conference or two but I don’t think they were nearly as formal/scheduled as they are now. Hmmm, I wonder if she was stressed out over them. I’ll have to ask.

We were offered the opportunity on back-to-school night (heh, like we really had a choice) to schedule a conference with Ava’s teacher. For the record, back-to-school night was a month and a half ago so it wasn’t like a get to know you meeting but more of a ‘now I know your kid – let’s talk’ kind of thing. I’m not gonna lie. I was not looking forward to it (once the teacher kindly reminded us of our appointment date since I promptly forgot the date four seconds after signing up for it).

Kindergarten was hard for all of us. I’m not going to trash talk the teacher but it certainly wasn’t the kind of nurturing kindergarten experience that I’d had and that I’d hoped for Ava. I’ll just say that I knew very early on that the teacher was phoning it in and, lo and behold, she retired as soon as the year ended. ‘Nuff said.

First grade was better – mainly because Ava had an amazing teacher who really, really worked for and with us. Ava is chatty, VERY chatty, and we struggled with this behavior. She wasn’t a bad kid but wanted to talk way more than she wanted to work and was very focused on the social aspect of school as opposed to the educational piece. She did fine academically but the amount of homework she had each night made some of our evenings very hard. She cried, I cried, we both got stubborn and mad, and then it would take HOURS to complete worksheets, spelling words, 20 minutes of reading, and whatever other project needed doing. I really don’t blame the teacher – I understand how our current educational system works – but it wasn’t a whole lot of fun. That said, Ava loved school and her first grade experience went a long way toward making up for the kindergarten year and for that I’m grateful. We had several conferences and very frequent email communication with her teacher which was good but got a little tiring when it so often communicated the same problem over and over again. Got it. She’s a talker. Trust me, I know that already.

So. Second grade.

Guess what? She’s still a talker. She still wants to be first at everything. And yes, she’s still bossy. But – her teacher went out of the way to tell us that Ava is kind, very kind, and is a wonderful bucket filler. She loves to help and seeks out extra jobs in the classroom. She likes to leave nice notes for her teachers and her friends. She actively tries to engage kids who might not have a friend to play with on the playground and is a special helper and friend to a little boy in her class who has a physical disability. It appears – gasp – that she is finally getting the concept of empathy and is putting it in practice. She is respectful (glad she is at school, at least) and doesn’t sulk or talk back (Ha – not so much here sometimes) when a negative behavior is corrected or redirected by her teachers.

We do have a few things to work on and are currently in the process of pursuing a formal diagnosis of Auditory Processing Disorder. She has been back in speech therapy for about 6 months now and there is concern that she is not very proficient at quickly processing verbal instructions. We discussed this with her teacher and offered some suggestions from the occupational therapist on ways to mitigate this such as ensuring she is seated in the front of the room where she can closely watch the teacher. Her teacher is more than willing to accommodate our requests and is also planning to do a little more written instruction – even if just for Ava – with a little less reliance on verbal instruction. All simple changes but her willingness to find what works for Ava speaks volumes to her commitment to teaching her kids.

Oh, and she doesn’t believe in homework unless absolutely necessary. She thinks their homework should mostly be reading each night and getting some time in for unstructured play. Yes, you read that right. No daily worksheets or twenty spelling words a week…it’s like heaven.

All in all, I didn’t hate this conference. In fact, it made my mama heart a whole lot of happy. The academic stuff will come in her time but hearing that she is kind and sweet and helpful and respectful means way more to me than what level she is currently reading on or what her understanding of current events or governmental structure is.

Example #1: I swore that I would never, ever fight with my kids over cleaning up their room, “It’s their room,” I said. “I can just close the door and it won’t even bother me since I don’t even see it,” I said.

Ava literally spent all day in her room today. She started ‘cleaning’ before we got up (she’s an early riser) and was still ‘cleaning’ when she went to bed. No worries – we did let her out for bread, water, and potty breaks – but otherwise it took her ALL.FREAKING.DAY to not even finish one average sized bedroom that has too many books and stuffed animals in it. There was much drama with plenty yet remaining, I’m sure. While I mostly don’t care (sort of) her carpet is in dire need of a cleaning so my OCD has kicked in and I simply cannot Let it Go. (<-Heh, see what I did there.)

(Also, I said I wouldn’t ever yell at my kids. Yeah, about that…)

Example #2: It’s cold. Normal people turn the heat on to warm up, right? Nope. I happened to look at my electric bill for the last few months and decided that freezing to death doesn’t sound  so bad after all.

Wait a minute, here – I clearly have the yelling thing down already so apparently I only need to brush up my mom phrases, like “Turn the heat down, put on a sweater, wear some socks,” You know, those bits of parental wisdom that are downright profound now that we’re the ones paying the bills these days.

Ava very dramatically told me that she felt like Cinderella . I told her it was okay – so long as the Fairy Godmother comes my way with a wish or three when she comes to rescue Ava from her pitiful  life of servitude doing things like picking up her OWN stuff. I could use a housekeeper (so I never have to fight that battle aagain) and a child psychologist (so I can figure out in advance how much I’m screwing them up.)