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Archive for the ‘Ava’ Category

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.

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.

I have no idea what possessed me to think that dance class for Ava on a Monday night was a good idea. Really? WTH was I smoking? Oh yeah, I thought that J or I could split the kids and it would be easy. I clearly failed to take into account his job and social life (volunteer meetings and commitments that seem to fall mostly on Mondays).

And poor Merry. She just gets hauled along for the ride – willing or not. Good thing she’s pleasant natured and easily pacified by stroller rides, goldfish, and Cheerios.

Me? Well, I’m never going to be a dance mom, that’s for sure. I’m too tired to care that much.

Ava loves her combo tap/ballet class, though (even though she says that tap is hard) – so we will slog through it and it will all be worth it when we get to recital time. (Right?)

But, But! Something exciting did happen at dance tonight. Her teacher had a baby. Well, not AT dance but you know what I mean. Ava was a bit befuddled by the whole process and told me that her teacher had to go to the ‘hopsital’ to have the baby cut out with a knife. Well, obviously I couldn’t leave her with the impression that all babies are cut out so that led to the discussion of babies in bellies and how they get out of there.

Her response: “Ewwwwww.”

I reminded her that she wasn’t in my belly and that she grew in her Chinese birthmom’s belly – a topic in which she couldn’t be more disinterested in if she tried, by the way – so then she asked me if Mamaw had a baby in her belly (I then explained that Mama and siblings were all in there at different times) or if Daddy had ever had a baby in his belly. Ummm, no because he doesn’t have a va*ina (not spelling it out because I get some freaky google hits already so no need to encourage more) so there’s no way for the baby to come out…which then led to a whole ‘nother conversation about how boys have to squeeze their ‘peanuts’ to get the pee to come out.

<Sigh>

All this because I signed her up for a Monday night dance class…

 

So. Halloween.

As you can tell from the pictures I posted earlier I really planned out the costumes that Ava and Merry would be wearing. Ava agreed to the Little Miss Muffet and her spider concept (even though she wanted to be the spider) and I spent a ridiculous amount of money on the two costumes. I figured they would get several wearings out of them since Merry had a daycare event, Ava had a school event, we had photographs taken (thanks to a cheap Groupon) and finally culminating in the big event – trick or treating.

We had the photographs taken on the Saturday prior to Halloween. This was also the Saturday prior to Hurricane Sandy potentially flooding our area beginning Saturday night. The Saturday we had to meet with our social worker for our second post-placement visit at the last minute since we were scheduled for Sunday AM, by which time we knew we would be flooding. This was also the Saturday that Merry suddenly – after all of that and seemingly out of nowhere – didn’t eat dinner (unheard of for her) and spiked a 103.6 fever.

I’ll spare you the long story of the miserable weekend and Monday that we were basically flooded into our house while my child’s fever raged on and just say that there was an ER visit, a chest x-ray, and a diagnosis of we’re not going to call this pneumonia but it is and that’s what we’re treating her for – which all means that Merry didn’t get to go trick-or-treating because she was pretty darn sick.

I was sad. I had to miss taking Ava trick-or-treating. I had to miss taking Merry out to see all the neighbors. I had to miss parading them around in those ridiculously expensive yet totally awesome costumes. And it’s not like I could send Ava out dressed like that without a spider (well, and it was super muddy thanks to all the rain so yeah, no). So after all that planning she went as Batgirl – in a cheap polyester costume I picked up at 90% off from last year’s Target clearance sale.

(Look – she still had all her teeth!)

This is when I asked her to look fierce. (Maybe she thought I said mental.)

And J kindly snapped a picture of her by our neighbor’s fence where we take a picture every year.

She had fun. J dressed up with her and off they went to hunt and gather some Dots (at which they failed miserably) before coming home to hand out candy at our house. Honestly, I think she enjoyed that as much as she did trick-or-treating. Our neighbors were delighted to see Ava, disappointed to not see Merry, and kindly sent home candy for me her so she wouldn’t miss out on anything. We have about 10 Frosty certificates to use and Ava ate herself silly on Skittles while Merry sorted the candy. She spent ages moving it into piles and dumping and replacing it in the pumpkin.

(Our Halloween rules: Ava can eat all the candy she wants on Halloween night. All Dots and Almond Joys belong to Mama and Tootsie Rolls go to Daddy. The candy is out and fully accessible to Ava for about 3 days at which time the rationing begins – although honestly, she’s mostly lost interest by then anyway.)

P.S. She’s getting wise to us. She hid the pumpkin from us the second night. I think she noticed the decrease in Reese’s and Kit-Kats.