Ok, so I have not done as well as I intended at keeping up here-- but we have been posting on the family blog! Still, there is no excuse for not recording the EXCITING things that are happening with our Elli!!!
I must say, when Teri made this comment Jeremy and I just looked at each other like, "Wow. Really? Can she really be right?" It seemed so far off-- the day where Elizabeth would put two words together. Such a distant thing that it was hard to really even imagine. She has been copying phrases for awhile now-- even complete sentences sometimes-- but never using them on her own to communicate something to us.
Well, I am pleased and humbled and thrilled to announce that SHE HAS DONE IT!!! Our sweet lilttle Elli, who just months ago was not talking, has begun to put two words together!!! In the past few days, she has used the following phrases without being prompted:
"Yummy, yummy oatmeal!"
"Fruit snacks all gone."
It still seems a little surreal to think that she may actually learn to really talk some day!! I think that both Jeremy and I, while having hope in miracles and faith in our Father in Heaven, had in part resigned ourselves to the idea that she may never learn to communicate fully. Like having hope, while deep down thinking that it just wouldn't happen. I know that we have had many discussions over whether or not she could ever lead any kind of "normal" life. You have to understand that it took SIX MONTHS to teach her how to put food in her mouth! It took a year to get her to not be afraid of toys. It took WELL OVER A YEAR before she would consistently try to copy words we would say. When she first joined our family, at age 2 1/2, she would every once in awhile use a word, like "more" for a day or two, then stop all speech for a month or two. She had vocal tics (still does sometimes) that would drive me batty. She would have frequent tantrums and meltdowns because of lack of communication.
The Elli you would meet now is almost always HAPPY!!!! She understands A LOT! Sometimes we're not sure what or how much she understands, but compared to when she became ours, it is A LOT!!! Now, when I tuck her in and she wants a drink, I can tell her that I will get her one in a few minutes and she waits happily until I come back. It wasn't long ago that she would SCREAM if I didn't give her something RIGHT AWAY.
Elli is also letting us sing along with her much of the time (she can still be stubborn about that, but it does happen). She has a great ear for music, singing perfectly tunes that she has only been exposed to a few times. She is very deliberate when sitting at the piano-- not just banging like many kids do, but playing and then putting her ear close to the piano and really listening. She has been AMAZING in the past few months at singing the lyrics to MANY, MANY songs. She is great at memorizing. The other day, she was singing the song, "Bubble Gum." When she finished she said, "Little faster? Follow me," and proceeded to sing the song faster. Again, at the end of the song, "Little faster? Follow me," and sang as fast as she could! (: I was grinning ear to ear and asked her teacher about it. Surely enough, the CD they listen to at school asks for them to faster each time. So so cute.
Speaking of school, if you remember, the DAY AFTER I decided to set up this website, I was informed of a new preschool option for Elli. She has been going there for a few weeks now and it is FABULOUS! I cannot even tell you how pleased I am with the teachers and facility. It is perfect for her. Still two hours a day, four days a week, but now with a smaller class size and more teachers. More importantly, the head teacher has really taken charge of Elli's education. She has really, truly worked to insure that Elli's day fits her needs exactly. There is a lot of structure-- and a lot of stimulation. She does the exact same routine every day, and it is so so good for her!! The classroom has a trampoline, ball pit, and swing. It is full of toys that have music and texture. It is just, well-- perfect!! Elli's vision/mobility specialist, Eileen, has transferred to this new school with Elli and has told me that Elli is just blossoming there, and last I heard, has not had ANY TANTRUMS. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
One especially cute thing-- they have been working on "quiet hands." This means that she has to take her hands from her eyes (where they so often are) and put them on her lap. They count to three and if she keeps them there, she is rewarded with an M&M. Well, Elli is very motivated by food! (: It is hilarious to watch her, as I say, "quiet hands!" She'll put her hands on her lap and then reach out almost frantically for her M&M. It is so hard for her to wait the full three seconds, but she is getting it! Soon, the time will be lengthened, and she won't always be rewarded. Eventually we hope that she will consistently do "quiet hands" even without a treat, and we can get those hands away from her poor eyes!!! The optometrist says it is a concern, because eye-pressing can push the eyeballs back into the head. This of course, isn't a concern vision-wise, but cosmetically it is, and I don't want her beautiful eyes to be pushed back!
So, are you ready for the cherry on top?
The other night, I was putting Elli's jammies on and she said, "Go night night?" I said "Yes, we are going night-night." She then surprised my by saying, "oatmeal?" I answered, "Yes, when you wake up, you will have oatmeal!" She then said, "bath?" I said "Yes, then you will take a bath." She replied, "rock-a-bye?" I told her that I would rock-a-bye her. She didn't say anything else, so I asked, "Then what?" She replied, "Bus?" I couldn't believe it. I was actually having a conversation with my little girl. It may not sound like much, but this was really my first (and only) real conversation I have had with Elli. It felt so good. She really seemed to understand what we were talking about! Again, I was filled with the hope that Elli, might indeed, rise above the struggles that have been hers and understand life.
I have always known that God could heal Elli. He could heal her completely, eyesight included. But I have not known that He will. I still do not know. He could very well keep the miracles coming beyond our wildest dreams, and she could live a life of great accomplishment-- graduating from college, marrying, and raising a family of her own-- with or without vision. Or she might level out right where she is, living dependent on us for the rest of her earthly life-- never learning how to read or talk with others or even use the bathroom on her own.
I am fine, either way.
I really, really am.
Because I know that HE knows what is best for her and for our family. I will love her the same EITHER WAY. And I know that SOMEDAY, because of HIM
my Elizabeth Mei will sing and talk and laugh and converse in full. and be FREE (one of my favorite pics EVER)
from the chains that now bind her. I know it will happen.
But I YEARN for her happiness NOW, and it sure seems like that would most likely be acheived if she were to live a "more normal" life here on earth! (: If she could one day have a conversation with anyone she chose. If she could experience the wonder and joy and adventure that comes from learning to read. If she could hold her own precious child in her arms.
And so, I hope!
And I find GREAT REASON to hope! Because this week, our Elli spoke two words together, on her own!! Because this week, our Elli at an ENTIRE bowl of oatmeal by herself WITHOUT me loading the spoon! Because this week, our Elli tried to put her jacket on by herself, and almost succeeded. Because this week, Elli giggled and laughed and sang and went entire days without crying.
Because THIS WEEK, I HAD A CONVERSATION WITH MY LITTLE GIRL!