Monday, August 27, 2012

Highlights of the Summer

Reflection is so sweet to me. 

Even though I am physically tired at the end of every crazy day, I never get mentally tired of thinking about where we were, and how far we have come. This is part of how I continue to find hope each day, by looking back at all God has done for us. He IS a big God. Nothing is impossible for Him.

We have made it through the first week of school already. Summer is officially "over" even though it is still too hot to go outside for very long. Well, maybe not for some people. I guess I should re-word that and say that in my opinion, it is still too hot  to go out and chase a two year old all over the yard for very long. 

This summer, I reminded myself that last summer, we still had no idea what Lilli was thinking. We did not know she was going to be able to read and communicate. She has reached so many goals and done so many new things since this time last year. We are so thankful.

Lilli continued to practice typing this summer, without the ipad. Lilli practiced typing on a touchscreen, the laptop keyboard, and flat pieces of paper with a keyboard printed on it. She worked with Leslie her teacher and Morgan her therapist all summer, to keep those skills she had at the end of the school year.

Lilli's communication with us is brief, because we don't have the ipad right now. But her attempts are encouraging, and motivate us to keep on going. She is a bright, curious, opinionated eight year old with words that are just bursting to get out. It's just that the slow typing has not caught up with the huge flow of thoughts and words inside of her, and it frustrates her. I feel like this summer, communicating with her was a little like trying to funnel a river through a garden hose - or maybe even a drinking straw. I pray that one day soon, the flood gates will open up.

Despite the challenges, we are still often able to figure out what Lilli wants. With some planning, she can tell us what she wants to buy at the mall. We can ask her what she wants for lunch. She can tell us that she has to use the restroom.  Last summer, before she could type, we went to Disneyworld and I panicked about how she would feel about going there. I could only guess what she might be thinking and feeling. The next time we go to Disneyworld, (oh yes, we WILL be going back one day!) I will just be able to ask her.

Here are some pictures from Lilli's summer. There are long stories behind some of them, but the stories will have to wait for "one day," when I have time to write them all down.
Therapy Riding 

Playing Crazy Eights with sister - Using a pool noodle with a slit cut in it to hold the cards (Thanks for the idea, some person on Pinterest!) her therapist helps her grab the cards and put them in the pile correctly, but Lilli does the choosing and playing.

Another summer of swimming with a tube - doing great with learning how to kick and move herself around the pool! 
New outfit she blew her birthday money on at the store "Justice." There is a story behind this outfit - how she picked it out, the whole scene. I almost did not let her get it because I am too thrifty, but it IS her money. She wears it all the time. (She'd better, for the ridiculous price. I might make her wear it all winter with a turtleneck underneath. You think I'm kidding.)
Lilli making her "I have something to say" gesture. (I imagine her to be saying, "Mom, I have a great sense of style. Now that I can pick out my own clothes, I am free from your thrifty, awful clothing choices! Hallelujah!" Well, not just yet dear. You blew all your birthday money on one outfit, remember? If you want more than one outfit to wear all year long, I still get to pick some cheap ones.)
Playing in the fountains. This is pretty close to heaven for my kids. 
Lilli with her ABA therapist, Morgan. Morgan was with us almost every day, all summer. We battled summer craziness together (all three kids, but mostly Josh causes the craziness) and she kept me sane. She's awesome.
Enjoying 4th of July fireworks together. (five year old Chloe put herself in Josh's stroller so she had a place to sit. Check out her outfit - all my kids have more style than I do. I just noticed, I'm wearing a black shirt in this picture like I said I always wear because I have no fashion sense. Well, I'm honest.)  This picture is much more significant that I have time to write about.  I got teary as Lilli watched the fireworks and laughed and smiled while sitting in my lap. So many small moments like this can get me.

We took several day trips to nearby towns and had a great time as a family. This was at an ice cream place. I shared my coconut ice cream with Lilli, and she loved it. Josh dropped his entire scoop of ice cream right off the cone onto the floor, and he didn't even cry. Jasen and I did, but Josh didn't notice.

 Some things that are NOT pictured:

-Lilli eating her first hamburger, ever in her life. (She liked it!) She has been trying all kinds of new-to-her foods, such as sloppy joes and steak sandwiches. This weekend she typed to me: "You like good food." I interpret this to mean that she likes to eat what I like to eat. She must think my cooking is pretty OK, and I take this as a huge compliment from an eight year old. Also I packed her many chicken salad and egg salad sandwiches this summer, and we were able to take a few day trips and have picnics. If this sounds weird that I am happy about what Lilli ATE this summer, it's because of how far she has come. Only a few years ago, road trips meant we were still stopping at convenience stores to heat up her pureed meals in a jar. I am so thankful to feed her a real sandwich out of a cooler on a roadtrip.This never gets old for me.

-Morgan, Leslie, and me reading "big girl" chapter books to Lilli all summer  - Nancy Drew, Beverly Cleary, and others. I'm reading "A Little Princess" to her right now, and Leslie is reading "Black Beauty" while Morgan reads her Nancy Drew mysteries. Again, I shake my head and think about how just last summer we were still putting out board books like "Brown Bear Brown Bear" and "Elmo's 123 Count with Me" for her.

We did not go anywhere for vacation this summer as a family. However, my sister blessed me with a long girls weekend away. I spent a few glorious, peaceful days in Florida with her and my niece Kelley. I read two books in four days, slept in a big bed all to myself (read: no kids coming in and waking me up and flopping around next to me all night), and OTHER people cooked meals for me and I didn't have to feed anyone else or do the dishes. It was the first time I have ever left all three kids for more than a few hours. Yes I said "ever." I don't know how to describe how much it meant to me.

I needed this small break so very much. I would love to take a long weekend away with my husband. But right now we do not have that luxury for several reasons.  Many parents who have small children can get to a point when they can leave their kids with someone for the night, or for the weekend. Jasen and I have not been able to do that yet.  But hopefully one day, we will.

It was a good summer.


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