Sunday, July 10, 2016

Two years later...

My friend Keri recently welcomed a 2 year old into her family, as a foster child.  We text back and forth now about how I ever survived having two 2 year olds at a time.  How I handled the tantrums of the twins at that age, and Simon.  I was having a hard time remembering, so I decided to come back here and read my posts from that time.  I realized, that our family has come so far in the past 5 years, and that I really should have kept blogging, because years are blurring together, and I don't want to forget how I'm feeling. right now. As a mom, as a wife and as a person. 
This time 5 years ago, we had moved in with Joye, and I was so uncertain about everything. I still remember the anxiety of a pregnancy that had turned dangerous, and our home going onto the market, and not selling and becoming landlords and parents of 4 kids under 5 all at once.  2011 was a ROUGH year.  2012 is a blur.  Honestly, most of the past 4 are. 
So where are we now? Status report.  Ava, 9 1/2 years old.  Living up her summer spending day after day with friends, and having sleepovers every chance she can with Caroline Christian.  She will be starting her 4th year of Chinese immersion this August. We've promised her a trip to China after 5th, so I should really get started on that trip savings account.  Her sketching skills are blowing me away lately, and her focus is anime art.  She's in an incredible stage where she's both sneaking into makeup (applying it better than I do most of the time) and asking for babydolls from Santa for Christmas.  I keep hearing that I'm in the "back 9" now, and "halfway thru her childhood."  How can this have happened so fast<---very cliche statement, but really. I find myself horrified and in wonder that my daughter will be entering double digits before the year is up.  I am trying to make an effort to take the time to snuggle her, while she's still asking for the cuddles, and to embrace her younger child moments while they're still here.  I'm constantly failing though, and saying something like, uhhh tomorrow? i'm super tired. or another night ok? Your brother needs me now.  When Ava is 240,000 hours into therapy as an adult, her therapist will recognize that the mantra of her life was "Your brother(s) need me right now ok?"  Such is the life of a neurotypical with 3 brothers on the autism spectrum. (spoiler alert)

Jumping ahead here, yes, all 3 boys have received an official diagnosis. I'm waiting for the piles of paperwork that I'll need to store somewhere, but after 5 years of testing and fighting and knowing something was going on, we finally got answers.  Simon has been attending group social therapy since May, and it's been such an amazing help.  He is 7 and has lost a handful of babyteeth this year, all within a few months.  It was kind of hilarious and amazing.  One minute I was worried that he'd made it all thru 1st grade without losing any teeth, and the next he's cashing in big time with the tooth fairy.  Even the dentist got a good laugh at his progression at his check up this month.  He also confirmed that Simon got my mouth-so ... no room at the inn for grown up teeth and braces are sure to be his future.  (yet another savings account to begin) Si-guy will be going into 2nd grade and his 2nd year of Chinese. He had the best 1st grade teacher Biao, and we are excited for 2nd grade.  He really excels at foreign language and math-lucky kid.  He talks all the time about becoming a scientist. He's got the crazy hair for it ;)

Carter- 4.5 years old and a ball of energy.  This kid....he loves to take selfies of himself.  He loves to play minecraft and terraria, and follow Simon around like a shadow.  He has a short temper, but is a love, and a joker.  he's quick to let me know when his dinner is disgusting, dominates the ipad/phone and library computer, and loves his daddy fiercely.   Chris has worked from home since 2013, and so Carter only knows life with all day access to mom and dad.  He loves to walk into daddy's office and give him hugs, and he insists that he get daddy snuggles to fall asleep at night.  Chris is his hero. 

Austen-4.5 years old and the biggest love.  Austen has a magic smile.  Always has had it, and I hope he always will.  He is so incredibly smart, and yet, so young for 4.5.  I'm not really sure how to describe it.  In so many ways, he's still in a 2.5-3 year old state.  He loves to create art. He could sit at the table with paint and paper and glue and stickers and drawing supplies for ages-as long as he has someone to do it with. And to direct to do the art when he is frustrated.  It seems so often that he has a specific plan in his mind, but isn't always sure how to execute it himself.  He tries so hard to communicate it, but often lacks the vocabulary, or even the access to how to convey what he's thinking.  He loves to dance, especially with his shadow.  He struggles with kids his own age, but loves meeting older kids and adults. He showed so many of the same struggles Simon had as a toddler but as he gets older, I'm seeing that he has his own "quirks" as well.

When they were evaluating the twins for ASD, they kept asking what I had noticed that was out of the ordinary. I kept having to explain that, my normal was abnormal, so I was going to need help remembering what "normal" should have been.  I'm on the board of the Southern Utah Autism Support Group now.  I have made some dear contacts here of families with autism, and they've helped us to learn and to grow and understand how to live in this world and teach my children to thrive in a neurotypical one.  So far, we've been blessed and so fortunate to have amazing people in our lives to help us and to teach our kids.  I wish I had written about all of them before, but hopefully I can find the time and remember to write about them from now on. 

Sometimes I'm in awe that this August will be 11 years since I've moved to Utah. Chris and I were engaged June 2005.  It's a mix of feeling that it's just begun, and yet that we've always been together.  So many marriages around us are currently breaking apart, and I'm grateful to say that although we've had some very difficult struggles in our relationship, that we're currently doing well.  really well.  I'm learning not to take that for granted. To recognize that as the gift that it is.  I know time will come that our marriage will be tested and tried again, and I want to have this, here, to remind me that it won't always be hard. It won't always be a fight. Some days it's the easiest thing in the world to look at my sweet husband and feel love and overwhelming gratitude for him.  Neither of us are easy people to deal with-but so far, we're doing alright.

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