My friend Jen and I met downtown for dinner Tuesday night. We had a good time, as we always do. After our three hour long meal, we made our way back to the car.
We approached a very busy street. We waited at the hashed crosswalk. As the cars were whizzing by, Jen asked me, "Does this make you nervous?" After I freed my face of some speeding car swept hair, I nonchalantly answered, "no, it doesn't" and we finally proceeded safely across the street.
We were talking to each other as we crossed; one, two, three lanes. As we entered the fourth lane of the street, we both turned, and a car appeared out of what seemed like nowhere. We both screamed like the girls I suppose we are. We thought for sure we were going to get hit. We didn't know whether to run back toward the street, or bolt for the curb. We both hesitated for a moment, but quickly realized there was not one second to spare, as the car was coming faster. It was as though he didn't even see us. We decided to run as fast as we could for the curb. We could actually feel the speed of the car as it passed us by.
Our hearts were in our mouths. All I could repeat was, "we almost got hit by a car. I can't believe we almost got hit by a car!" I also couldn't help but think of how casually I told my friend how I don't get nervous crossing the street. I honestly don't. I, of course always think about our situation, but I truly don't usually get nervous.
I instantly flashed to my Mom, Gary, Aviana and the woman who hit them. I have always felt it could happen to anyone. Many beg to differ, some outwardly, some on the inside. That honestly bothers me something fierce. My Mom and Gary swore they looked both ways before they crossed the street. They swore it was safe. They said it happened so fast. They would never have put themselves, and above all, Aviana, in harms way. I know that. I would bet my life on that.
Jen has a husband, and two beautiful little boys, of which she would gladly lay her life down for. I have a boatload of real life experience with looking both ways before I cross the street. I know that life can turn on a dime. I am well versed in the lesson that in an instant, my whole entire life can be flipped on its top! I know that bad things don't just happen to others...they can happen to me, to us!
We used a cross walk that night. We looked very carefully before crossing that street. We continued to look as we were making our way across the street. The car appeared out of nowhere. We almost got hit by that car. It all happened so fast. We got lucky. So often we get lucky in life. Every so often we don't. It doesn't mean it can't happen.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Last week I was struck down by the worst consecutive days of headaches in 7 years. They were reminiscent of the weeks I used to have before I started Imitrex injections. I quickly flashed back to the days of suffering with no end in sight. The kind of agony where I thought I could handle Dave taking a shower, only for him to turn it on, and the sound sending me into instant sickness. Nice, right? The kind where a seemingly innocent move to my left side, ended in the same result. The nausea associated with these headaches always takes me by surprise. For some reason, I can never quite connect the dots between headache and that sort of sickness. The two don't quite compute logically to me?
This was the pattern I followed ~ One shot. Two shot. Three shot. Headache. Really? Three shots and still, a headache. What kind of sick joke is that? If one must endure the pain of three shots...wouldn't you think relief was earned? The headaches Gods said no!
Anyway, what I'm trying to say is ~ I've been very sick. They upped my
stupid pills daily medication and slowly, very slowly, I've been getting better. I was suffering from what I called the Zombie Effect. That many shots tend to wear my body into oblivion, and then, coupled with the increased dose of Topamax....let's just say I was rendered pretty much useless. Extreme fatigue was an understatement. I have returned from the
walking dead though.
As of this past Saturday, I was finally able to function vertically, but then...just as I finally got myself into an upright position, Aviana got so sick. I imagine something she may have picked up at school. Poor little one was terribly sick. As sad as I am that she is sick, she sure does make the sweetest, cutest little sounds when she is in complete and total agony! Actually, she too is finally feeling better now.
But guess what, as of yesterday....my mom is super sick!! Here's a typical conversation between us.
Me: "Oh no Mom, Aviana must have gotten you sick!"
Mom: "Oh no, it wasn't Aviana...she didn't get me sick!"
Me: "Mom, she was sneezing and coughing in your face."
Mom: "No she didn't! It wasn't her! No way."
Me: "Mom, I saw her. You were right in her face. She's sick. Sneezing. She was sneezing. In your face."
Mom: "No. Not my Aviana. She didn't get me sick. I must have got it somewhere else."
Yep! Not her Aviana. Aviana can do no wrong : )
Like Dominos, please don't let Dave or I fall.
By the way...
I missed you.
By the way...
I missed you.
Posted by Jen at 4:09 PM
Monday, May 14, 2012
I am the child who cannot talk.
You often pity me, I see it in your eyes.
You wonder how much I am aware of -- I see that as well.
I am aware of much, whether you are happy or sad or fearful,
patient or impatient, full of love and desire,
or if you are just doing your duty by me.
I marvel at your frustration, knowing mine to be far greater,
for I cannot express myself or my needs as you do.
You cannot conceive my isolation, so complete it is at times.
I do not gift you with clever conversation, cute remarks to be laughed over and repeated.
I do not give you answers to your everyday questions,
responses over my well-being, sharing my needs,
or comments about the world about me.
I do not give you rewards as defined by the world's standards -- great strides in
development that you can credit yourself;
I do not give you understanding as you know it.
What I give you is so much more valuable -- I give you instead opportunities.
Opportunities to discover the depth of your character, not mine;
the depth of your love, your commitment, your patience, your abilities;
the opportunity to explore your spirit more deeply than you imagined possible.
I drive you further than you would ever go on your own, working harder,
seeking answers to your many questions with no answers.
I am the child who cannot talk.
I am the child who cannot walk.
The world seems to pass me by.
You see the longing in my eyes to get out of this chair, to run and play like other children.
There is much you take for granted.
I want the toys on the shelf, I need to go to the bathroom, oh I've dropped my fork again.
I am dependent on you in these ways.
My gift to you is to make you more aware of your great fortune,
your healthy back and legs, your ability to do for yourself.
Sometimes people appear not to notice me; I always notice them.
I feel not so much envy as desire, desire to stand upright,
to put one foot in front of the other, to be independent.
I give you awareness.
I am the child who cannot walk.
I am the child who is mentally impaired.
I don't learn easily, if you judge me by the world's measuring stick,
what I do know is infinite joy in simple things.
I am not burdened as you are with the strife's and conflicts of a more complicated life.
My gift to you is to grant you the freedom to enjoy things as a child,
to teach you how much your arms around me mean, to give you love.
I give you the gift of simplicity.
I am the child who is mentally impaired.
I am the disabled child.
I am your teacher. If you allow me,
I will teach you what is really important in life.
I will give you and teach you unconditional love.
I gift you with my innocent trust, my dependency upon you.
I teach you about how precious this life is and about not taking things for granted.
I teach you about forgetting your own needs and desires and dreams.
I teach you giving.
Most of all I teach you hope and faith.
I am the disabled child.
~ Author Unknown
I remember seeing this floating around within the first year after Aviana's accident. At the time, I couldn't fully grasp it enough to post. I do now.
You are our most amazing child Aviana. Thank you for all you teach us sweetheart!
We love you infinitely.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
I entered a 500 word essay contest and although I didn't place, I figured today would be the perfect day to share : ) It was a true challenge for me to keep it to only 500 words!
Motherhood is much more challenging than I could have expected. Every step of my journey to and through motherhood has been nothing short of rough. In one split second, all of my hopes and dreams of being a mother were dashed. I am currently in the process of rewriting the story of our lives together.
It all began when I naively believed the line to a child was straight. Our first detour was into the land of infertility. After staying for a while, we decided on adoption. For me, motherhood was hard to obtain!
After surviving the grueling process, we were thrilled to finally travel to Guatemala and pick our beautiful Aviana up. After working through some unexpected Post Adoption Depression, I felt better days were on the horizon…
Until one June day, I was out shopping for 3rd birthday decorations. As I listened to my voicemail, I quickly realized the better days I dreamed of would likely remain just that. Aviana was with my parents. She, her Nana and Papa were crossing the street when a car hit them. Our little Aviana flew through the air, and landed on her head.
Aviana endured numerous surgeries. We came close to losing her several times. But after three months, we were able to bring her home. Sadly, our sweet girl was left severely brain injured and unable to walk, talk, smile, or eat by mouth. I’ve learned that motherhood is about loving Aviana for who she is and not what she can, or cannot do.
As a mother, I always believed I was supposed to be the teacher in the parent/child model. As it turns out, without one single word, she is the one who’s teaching me.
Our daughter can barely hold her head up. Any little move she makes is big news, and elicits much excitement in these parts. Needless to say, I don’t take one single moment for granted.
Motherhood isn’t perfect. It can be downright difficult. At times it hurts, but it’s sure worthwhile through every strain and pain. Motherhood is full of ups and downs, but overall ~ it’s a journey of self-discovery. This little soul is here to hold a mirror before me. She shows me not only who I am, but more importantly, who I want to be.
For me, motherhood involves allowing myself to grieve for what was, while at the same time, accepting what is. It’s agreeing to a new story. It’s rewriting the script. Motherhood is about trying to embrace imperfection. It’s about being kind to myself, and those around me. Motherhood is not a competition. Motherhood is about accepting a trip or a fall, as these are the very stumbles that make me who I am. I’d venture to say - they make me better, than who I was. Motherhood is about picking up the many broken pieces and pushing them back together. Motherhood is about never allowing my hopes and dreams to be dashed.
Motherhood is a blessing!
There are a million different kinds of mothers out there: to dogs, to foster children, to the homeless, to sponsored children, to the children we have lost, to the people of your church, to the miscarried, to adoptions gone array, to the children that should've been, to the children that are, to nieces and nephews, to boyfriends and husbands ; ), to the kids of the neighborhood, to the kids you teach in any way, so many.
Whatever kind of loving Mother you are ~ this is your day, and I celebrate you. I wish all of you a beautiful day today!
To my mom ~
I love you with my whole heart. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have you. Thank you for all you are, and everything you do!
Posted by Jen at 1:56 PM
Saturday, May 12, 2012
With the exception of Aviana freaking out before the bus ride on the second day of school, she has done amazingly well. I do think she was faking it that day though. I was taking Rainey up to the park immediately after seeing her off, and really wished I had earplugs, as I could hear her screams all the way down the street. I'm sure she stopped the moment I was out of earshot, smiled to herself and thought, "I bet that did the trick." She's such a devious little Miki!
Really, school has been an absolute blessing. I was slightly skeptical. I'm sure you could tell by the way I only put her in for two days a week. Our good friends ~ Shauna and Dixie, were huge proponents in our decision making process. I so love you both for calming my nerves about the whole thing!! I'm so happy we listened to them and most importantly, trusted the process. At this point and time, I do feel this was one of the single best decisions we could have made for Aviana.
Aviana's teacher and speech therapist, both Kathys, had come to the house to learn how to feed Aviana prior to school starting. They called last Friday and asked if I could come in and show them again this past Thursday. If I'm being quite honest, feeding truly sucks for all involved. I know you've heard me talk about my g-tube fantasies on here before ; ) It's definitely one of our biggest challenges, so much so, that we are going to see a pediatric behavioral psychologist to "break this stallion!" ; ) Anyway, my mom and I went in and met all of the staff. They are all amazing. I couldn't have dreamed up better people if I tried...all of them. I feel blessed beyond measure to have Aviana surrounded in these teachers, and kids too. They are caring, compassionate, loving, people. It was more than obvious, they are all there for the right reasons. I think all good teachers are amazing, as it is a job I would never be able to do. I'm not sure though if there are any larger hearts, than those who work with a room of severely special needs. My gosh, not just my hats off to you, but everything. I wanted nothing more than to help them whenever I can in the classroom too! The kids, the kids, the kids....my heart a puddle! They were each so beautiful!
Anyway, since Aviana got out of the hospital and was recovering from her multiple surgeries, we gave up The Institute program in its entirety. We even put the patterning table away. It was such a weird feeling, much like a death of sorts. Dave asked me if it was temporary and I wasn't sure how to answer at the time. Something just doesn't feel quite right anymore though. We have to go with our gut from here on out, and I feel we have been going against it. More like going through the motions. I have to do what's right for Aviana and what makes her happy from now on. The program was not making any of us happy. I look around this huge classroom of hers, full of swings, and stations, and music, and activities, and paint, and kids, and different, happy faces, and therapy too, and I smile inside and out. And the thing is....while Aviana can't smile outwardly, I know she is smiling inwardly.
The bottom line is....gosh this is so hard for me to write. Dave and I had to have a really difficult conversation and that was, we don't know how long we are going to have Aviana, but however long that is ~ we are going to make sure she enjoys her life. We did what we had to do with the program. We put in 200% to see if we could get some sort of recovery for her, and we all know what happened with that. Now, it's about doing the things that make her happy. Riding the bus, going to school, going to the park, going out to the mall, doing hippotherapy, going to the beach, going on drives to Tahoe, going on field trips and lunch dates with Uncle Roger, etc. All we are going to do is keep her body in working order, but there will be no more back breaking amounts of therapy around here. We almost lost her last month. In those horrific moments, I thought ~ oh my GOD...she hasn't lived since the accident!!! Needless to say, we are soon going to increase to a third day at school, too : )
Another thing, when you have a child who can't do, or reach, or play, or move, you are fully responsible to entertain. I feel so much pressure throughout the day to be everything for her. When we were doing the program it was different, because I did not have one moment to breathe, as I was dragging her from this to that. But now, if I am not with her, reading to her, or feeding her, or if my mom, or someone else is not with her, I feel guilty. I'm not saying she can't sit by herself. I'm saying, if I am busy doing something for an extended period of time, she has no means to entertain herself, and sometimes, I turn around, or round the corner and she has fallen over. My heart breaks a little more each time. I know every kid, whether hurt or not, needs attention, but before the accident, she could entertain herself to some degree. I didn't feel the pressure I feel now. I can't explain what it feels like when I look over at her, and she can't move, or reach and she is just staring out the window, bored out of her gourd. It rips me up. I need help. The school helps me with this. The school takes some of the weight off my shoulders. They share it with me. I appreciate them. They actually do so much that I can't possibly do! They have so much to offer Aviana. My gosh...I am so impressed! They send me pictures and texts throughout the day. How sweet is that?
It may not look like it, but this is the one she liked most. She was to hit the switch if she wanted the video to play more. They said she hit it once. Sandy and Danny will do that to you, right? They will make a little girl hit that purple switch!
Avi made me a Mother's Day gift!
Aviana's new backpack. The ladybug was so yesterday.
School makes a girl a little sleepy. We usually keep her up way too late, so we've been trying to get her to bed earlier!
Young school girl....
you melt a momma!
Posted by Jen at 2:35 PM
My friend Judianne showed her friend Scott this blog. He decided to order one of our Pear Pies. The Guy and I met Judianne at a Gary Allan concert the day after Aviana got out of the hospital in 2009. She has been a great friend ever since.
We were so thankful to her for showing Scott our pies. We decided, of course, to make her a pie too. After all, we love that girl so.
Judianne likes berries and has a weakness for a crumble topping, so we decided on one of our favorites and that is ~ Blackberry Pie.
These are the makings for the ~
GFA Soul Sistahs Fo'evah Bodacious Berry Pie
We always make one for ourselves to taste and giveaway. At this point, I just need to know what I'm giving away! I need to know what it tastes like. You know, to make sure it's good!
Side by side.
Scott's Pear Pie after it came out of surgery ; )
Scott had a meeting in the area and met Dave at work to pick it up, so I called his ~
Over No Mountain and Through the Valley Pear Pie
Ooohhh...fresh out of the oven.
Scott's ~ fresh out of the oven!
We have yet to order our own pie boxes, but are in the process.
Whole Foods was gracious enough to give me a few for this order.
It's actually accurate, because every ingrediant came from there : )
Thank you Whole Foods...much appreciated!
Posted by Jen at 1:14 PM
Monday, May 7, 2012
We decided to go to the neighbor's house for a little while yesterday. Dave got Aviana all ready, and then, I thought she looked so cute ~ I decided to swipe her outfit idea too. I guess Avi wasn't thrilled about it. Maybe she didn't like the fact that her mom copied her. Maybe she was mad because she couldn't say anything to me about it, but hey ~ I'm really not sure. I decided I wanted pictures in our matching outfits. Bad idea.
Again, we had a terrible photo shoot.
I can never figure it out. Is it me, or the brain injury?
First, we tried the chair. She's so floppy, yet rigid. I never know how to hold her for a picture, and get this....I'm her mom! Doesn't she look comfortable?
That's us...having a little pep talk. She doesn't like when we have those.
Maybe I should reconsider. They're very nice, but maybe I should skip it. I don't see Roger or my Mom having those sorts of things.
Then we tried the couch, with a pillow under her. She's bored and I'm a contortionist who's now wearing a plastic smile. Yea us! Making progress.
Dave was trying to stop Rainey from jumping up, but why not, right? What can it hurt!
Oh good...Avi is still less than thrilled and now Rainey is thinking about taking a snooze before she goes swimming in the neighbor's pool! I'm dreaming of Calgon at this point.
Finally, it's headlock time. This is my best way to keep that floppy head in place and talk. She usually responds and loves this, but not today. She's done with me, done with the camera....
Or, maybe....just done with me stealing her white pants and orangey colored stripped shirt with tiny pocket in the top lefthand corner? Hey girl ~ I wanted to put my hair in a ponytail too...but I didn't!
I'm sorry my love.
I said I was sorry.
I did end up changing shortly after these pictures, but not because of Avi, but because wet dogs and white pants don't go well together.
As for my age old question ~
Me or the brain injury?
It's not a question.
I know the answer.
Posted by Jen at 4:04 PM
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Look what we signed a few weeks ago...
We wanted to make sure this was absolutely clear!
We had our entire estate and will completed. Being an adult sure feels strange at times. There sure were moments throughout the process when I wanted to run back into the woods of Tahoe and be a kid again.
Posted by Jen at 5:29 PM
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Yeah, there's three of us in this picture. Rainey blends in with everything. But, I swear...if you look closely, she's there.
There's this really cool nursery close to our house. It's a restaurant too. We had lunch there last weekend.
We also went on a pie tasting adventure.
Peace out peeps!
Sleep out peeps!
When we finally arrived, this one was closed...
Isn't it cool looking? I've become friends with the guy at Williams Sonoma and he told me about this place. It's an apple orchard and they make pies. He told me they are really good! I was dying to try them, so I looked them up online and it said they were closed for the season. They didn't even answer their phone, but Mr. Williams Sonoma swore they were opened, so we went anyway. Wishful thinking!
I grew up on this place.
My dad used to come pick us up for all holidays and summers and we would stop here on the way to Tahoe. Nostalgia...you gotta love it, right?
Be honest you guys....do our pies look better than these?
No really, I went through every top box you see to find the best looking pie and this was the best I could find. We are trying to scope out the competition.
We came home with a piece of pie in hand and wrote out our pros and cons list.
I have to admit, it's fun when PIE is your homework!
Posted by Jen at 4:19 AM
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
If you knew Aviana before, you knew she was fiercely independent. It hurts us deeply that she, of all people, is forced to be so dependent now. For this very reason, we try to factor this very distinct characteristic of hers into as many decisions as we can for her.
Her going on the bus, by herself, was part of giving her back some of her very own independence. I felt she would appreciate having something that was hers, and hers only.
Rainey was so sad when the gate lifted Aviana up. She was on her hind legs wondering where this big yellow thing was taking her sister.
She turned her head and looked right at my Mom, Dave, our neighbor's - Warren and Anna, our dogs - Oski and Rainey, and me. She looked like she was thinking....
"What the?!?" Why am I in here...and you're out there? Oh well...see ya!"
Dave and I hopped on to say our final goodbyes, but she was still locking eyes with her Nana.
My Mom and I then huddled together and cried our eyes out as we watched our girl drive away...all by herself.
Right when she got home...
Someone wanted to tell her just how much she was missed!
I don't think the feeling was reciprocated.
Poor Rainey doesn't quite understand that her doggie place was filled once before, and will never be able to be filled the same way by another.
Aviana is a tough cookie.
Her teacher called afterward and said she had a really good day.
And guess who else stopped by to check and see how her first day went? Yep...you guessed, Todd Lynn! We talked for a while, I was so excited because as I was out today I finally found fresh rhubarb for his pie : ) And, wouldn't you know it...I listed the wrong show he was going to be featured on in June. It's Turf Wars, not Yard Crashers. Just in case you were wondering!
Thank you all for the well wishes for Aviana's first day. You mean so much to us. You carry us through, and make this entire journey worthwhile.
Our love to you!
Posted by Jen at 4:22 PM