Sunday, February 5, 2012

It's been 3 years today since we came home!

Hello, all. Scott took Ziva swimming this afternoon which frees me up to do some blogging...finally! We have had an enjoyable winter. Christmas was an absolute hoot this year with Ziva. She had some recollection of Christmas from last year and she soon became infatuated with Santa. He was all she could talk about 'til at least the middle of January. She was so excited Christmas morning to see that Santa ate the cookies, drank the water (her suggestion), and he even left her a thank-you note. She was simply beside herself, thinking that Santa had actually been in our house!

Just after Christmas we left for a 10 day trip to Florida. We learned very quickly that Ziva is an awesome traveller. Sleeping in strange beds, eating at odd times, spending 15 hours in the car, going to bed late and getting up early....through it all, she was so happy and seemed grateful for the adventure. There were many times when we said to ourselves, "Many other kids we know would be having a meltdown right now." But not Ziva. She is a remarkably happy and content child. We visited the zoo and aquarium in Tampa, went on a "dolphin cruise" to see dolphins, and went to Legoland. (oh, and Scott and I were able to go to a Tampa vs Montreal NHL game, thanks to babysitting provided by Grandma and Poppa!) Legoland was by far Ziva's favourite; the rides were suited for kids her age and since Ziva craves spinning and twirling etc, the rides were just right up Ziva's alley.

While in Florida, Ziva lost her first tooth! Luckily, the tooth fairy had some "foreign" currency on hand and Ziva got a toonie. (She has since lost a second tooth, by the way.) We have explained to her how the tooth fairy takes the tooth and leaves money, but the next morning, she will still look all around her bed and under the pillow, saying, "Tooth! Where are you?" It is quite cute.

Ziva started another session of gymnastics in early January and she loves it! She is provided with a "coach in training" (CIT) again this year to help her in staying on task and to perform the various skills. Last year, Ziva spent a lot of the time running away from the group and wouldn't even attempt to do what was required of her. This year, she is like a different girl. Last year it was quite painful for us to watch her, but now we actually enjoy it! It is exciting for us to see how much progress she has made in one year.

One thing to be said about Ziva, though, is that she is girl who is full of ginger and spice. Here's an example that is so typical "Ziva". At gymnastics, they have a semi-circle slide that the kids go on to get into the "pit" which is full of sponge cubes. All the boys and girls line up and go down the slide feet first. Ziva does the first time. By the second time, she figures that she will go down head first. The third time, she figures she will stand at the top of the slide and jump into the pit. While all the other kids are simply doing the "right" thing, Ziva always needs to test the boundaries and see what she can get away with. She does not much resemble a sheep, that is for sure...but I figure that is not all bad!

Lately, Ziva's newest thing to play is "school". She will get a pile books and either to me or some dolls, she'll say "Ziva, a teacher" and then she'll proceed to read the book to me, holding the book so I can see the pictures. It is really sweet. Her other favourite past time is building with Lego. We have also introduced her to the computer and she is getting better at manipulating the mouse and navigating her way around in some games.

Here are some photos to enjoy!

Ziva made a pretty cute reindeer at her school's Christmas program. Christmas Eve 2011

Reading Santa's "thank you" note on Christmas morning.

Ziva loves anything Curious George!

Every year, we give Ziva an ornament.

Florida, here we come!

Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa

Ziva's first lost tooth! And just in time...the adult one was already coming in.


January 27th, 2012. 3rd anniversary of Gotcha Day!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Busy Fall for All

Oops, photos got put in first...
On Labour day weekend, we went on the Waterloo Central Railway and took this old train from Waterloo to St. Jacob's...and then got caught in a near-tornado! Ziva's first day of SK (September 19th).

A visit with Grandma and Poppa Anderson.

Carving a jack'o'lantern with daddy. Ziva loved scooping the guts out (a good sensory experience for our little sensory seeker!).

Thanksgiving Day, Scotsdale Farms...yes, it was warm enough for shorts and a tank top!

Halloween. Ziva as "Fifi". She was so cute!

Hello, everyone! Fall has seemed to just fly by with all its changes and adjustments for Ziva. She has settled into SK at the public school where she is assisted by a full-time EA. We had a bit of a rocky start, but it seems now they are getting to know her and how to respond to her needs. We have met with the school team and now have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) in place so they can target her needs. Part of the challenge is that Ziva is very good at fooling people into believing that she is incapable of many things...and it is only once they get to know her do they realize what she is able to do.

Speech is still her biggest delay and oftentimes people judge her based on her speech abilities. It has been difficult for us as parents, transisting her to the public school. When she attends day care, we see her teachers before and after school every day and so we are constantly in touch with them and can find out what and how she did that day. This is an area that we are still working on with the school. We are used to living with a "non-talking"child and so we are constantly advocating for her and speaking on her behalf; we now need the school to do the same for us or else we would have no idea what she does at school.

In just the past few days Ziva has started to say "Stop it!" with great clarity (she also signs "stop" for added emphasis, which is hilarious!). It does sound a bit rude, but we are grateful that she is being so forceful. At her day care (where she has been since last March), her peers know her, like her, and are kind to her. However, we have found that when she is around kids who do not know her, one of two things happen: they "baby" her or they are mean to her. We, of course, do not like either of these things! Because of her innocence and gullibilty, kids are often very mean to her and try to get her to do inappropriate things (we have actually had adults do this to her too, if you can believe it!). Her judgement and social awareness is not at the level where she "knows better" and other kids take advantage of that. It just breaks our heart to see kids being so mean to her when she is such a loving, sensitive, and generous child. We are hoping that her "stop it!" will carry over to sitautions where kids are being mean to her!

Ziva acquired the word "why?" sometime in mid-September. Yeah! This is a milestone that we had been waiting for. She asks it ALL the time, about everything...but that is okay by me! I never tire of it because it shows development, growth, and an inquiring mind.

Ziva continues to love music and it amazes me how quickly she remembers anything put to music. We are hoping to start MusicTherapy in the new year. This is therapy (for fine motor, gross motor, etc) done to music. We think this is right up Ziva's alley!

Keep checking in!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Summer of Appointments

Hello, everyone! I can hardly believe that the summer is almost over! This blog entry is about 2 months overdue! This summer's theme was "appointments"....almost 30 in total (in a matter of 7 weeks)! We have seen so many people this summer...speech pathologists (4 of them), occupational therapists (2 of them), a physiotherapist, a geneticist, a developmental pediatrician, ophthamologists (2 of them)...then add her "regular" pediatrician, her dentist, and a week long "occupational therapy" class. We've been to Sick Kids, St. Michael's, 3 different ErinOak locations, and all places in between. To be honest, it was sometimes hard for me to keep doctors and their locations straight! I only drove to the wrong location once! Ha!ha! Attending all of these appointments were in the attempt to get some answers as to Ziva's delays and get the best help for her possible. And although we spent a lot of time going to appointments, I am also thankful that I had the summer off to be able to take her to them. I couldn't imagine having all these appointments while working! I can see why parents of special needs kids end up having one parent stay home.

We did have some fun this summer as well! We had a day trip to the zoo, went camping for 10 days, and for the first time, Ziva spent a whole weekend with her Beppe (grandma). Scott and I really enjoyed that weekend too! :)

Ziva is such a joy and delight to us. More and more of her personality seems to be surfacing all the time. She is the kind of child that does everything with gusto....and her clothes and face are usually the proof of that! For example, I drop her off at school with neat hair, a clean face, and clean clothes. By the time I pick her up, she is a total mess. (The sandbox being her favourite pastime at can imagine!) We go home, she undresses at the door, and she goes straight into the tub! The way I figure it, the dirtier she is, the more fun she had!

Ziva is such a child of opposites. She gets so dirty when she plays in the sand and doesn't care, and yet when we sit down for dinner, she will go through 10 napkins (if she had her way!), wiping up tiny drips and spills. (I know this will sound sexist, but) she plays like such a boy when she is outside...she is rough and tumble, she loves cars and the sand. On the other hand, she can play with her "baby" so gently and she is so nurturing and motherly towards it, it is amazing.

Ziva continues to be a very grateful child and she truly savours new things and experiences. She takes nothing for granted. We redid her room this summer and she graduated to a "big girl bed" (photos below). Even though it's been 7 weeks, if a guest comes over, it is the first thing she will show them, she is so happy about it. Since getting her new bed, she now doesn't want to get out of bed in the morning!

Now we are busy gearing up for school! She will start SK at our local public school, where she will receive full time EA support. On her other days, she will continue to go to Maple School and be in their SK program.

Ziva and Mommy dressed as "twins" on Canada Day.
Being silly in the backyard.

Family photo.

She's our sunshine!

Toronto Zoo, July 2011.

Ziva in her new room. No more brown and blue!

Ziva had an absolute blast camping! With lots of sand and water, Ziva was in heaven. We went to Grundy Provincial Park, where they have floating docks out in the water (water is 8-10 feet deep). Ziva has no fear...she would jump off the dock, "swim" back to the ladder, jump again...for hours! People were amazed to see little Ziva do this and they used her as an example to try and cajole their kids into jumping!

Ziva had her first experience with roasted marshmellows. Talk about savouring! Just watching her enjoy the marshmellows made me cry.
You can't quite see it in this picture, but Ziva can put her entire hand in her mouth! Hmmm...either she has a big mouth or small hands!

Sticky! Sticky!

We went on a 1 1/2 hour hike with Ziva...and she ran the entire time! Maybe she'll be a cross country runner?! Scenic Grundy.

This license plate caught our eye. Read the frame around the plate. Ziva is #1! (And typical Ziva, she is refusing to look at the camera!)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ziva turns 5!

Easter egg hunt! Ziva is now 5! Her birthday was big excitement around here for weeks! We weren't sure how much Ziva would understand about it being her birthday, so about a week before, I started to tell her a few times every day that her birthday was coming soon. And without fail, every time I told her this, she'd gasp, get wide-eyed, and say, "Birthday? Me?" and then start to belt out "Happy Birthday to Ziva!" followed by a loud shout of "Happy Birthday, Ziva! Yeah!" accompanied by clapping. A couple of times when I told her birthday was coming soon, she looked under the table or in the living room, saying "Birthday, where are you?" It was pretty cute. And even though her birthday has come and gone, Ziva feels that even the presence of leftover birthday cake (all this week) still deserves a round of "Happy Birthday to Ziva".

Ziva has now been at her "new" schools for almost 2 months...and she is doing so well! We have been so amazed and thrilled at the progress she has made. Both schools have embraced Ziva and her special needs and are doing everything they can to meet her needs and help her. As parents of a special needs child, we feel so supported...and our stress level has gone way down! Ziva is a changed girl at her schools as well. Although she is always very happy to see me when I pick her up, now she doesn't want to leave school because she is having so much fun. Her teachers tell us that she is quite verbal and we think this is due to the manner in which Ziva is received. The teachers make a genuine effort to communicate with her, understand what she is saying, and are supporting our at-home speech goals. Another big change is Ziva's interaction with her peers and teachers. When she leaves at the end of the day, she says a big "good-bye" to the entire group of kids (they all chorus back "Good-bye, Ziva") and she always needs to say good-bye to each teacher individually. We know that she feels accepted and loved. One of the biggest changes has been the expectations put on Ziva. There is a fine balance between meeting her special needs and yet challenging her so that she will grow and make progress. The schools have found this balance and we attribute much of her progress to that.

In the past month, Ziva has developed a love for letters. She is getting quite good at tracing her name (goal for September is writing it independently) and can read and recognize her name. She recognizes probably about 20 letters from memory and knows the sounds of a handful of them. She is so incredibly proud of herself for knowing her letters. She is constantly pointing out letters to us - at the gas station, on the cereal box, on a can of soup, the toothpaste tube, her books, the newspaper etc etc. She will actually sit down with a novel, magazine, church bulletin, or recipe book and scan the pages for letters she knows. And when she finds one, she has to shout it out and make sure that both Scott and I see the letter. It brings me so much joy, I just about want to cry. It gives us hope for her future learning when we see her embracing this new-found knowledge. I guess listening to Fridge Phonics for 2 years and watching "Leap Frog Letter Factory" every week for about a year has paid off!

Ziva is a child of opposites. She can be absolutely the sweetest and absolutely the most difficult. We think she may be going through her "terrible twos" at 5. "No" is by far her favourite word and she will say it just to say it. (I am not kidding...sometimes I haven't even finished my sentence and she is already saying "no"!) Because her vocabulary is limited, "no" is about the only word we hear (in varying tones and volumes), but it is often accompanied by foot stomping, arm crossing, scowling, and grunting.

On the other hand, she is a very generous, thoughtful, compassionate, and sensitive child. Her teachers tell us that if a classmate of Ziva's is crying, she will right away go and comfort the child and give them a hug. They say Ziva is so aware and quick to help, she often beats them to the hurt child! Ziva continues to be a grateful child. Let's say I give her breakfast: she'll say. "Thank you, mommy, eggs. Thank you, mommy, toast. Thank you, mommy, milk." Yep...she'll thank me for each and every item! Oh, and if you offer her something and she doesn't want any, she'll say, "No, please." (we're working on "no, thank you."!) If you sneeze, she will run into the bathroom to get you a kleenex and say, "Bless you!" I had a bad cold last week and was coughing a lot and every time I coughed, she said, "Bless you, Mommy!". Too cute!

Ziva and her birthday cake (on her birthday itself). Ziva is not yet able to blow (no one is quite sure why); instead, she puckers her lips and makes the "sh" sound. She was trying very hard to blow those candles out and leaned in close to the close she burned her lip a little and signed her hair! Scott is taking the cake away!

Ziva's birthday party with family. She is very excited by the castle cake I made for her. The look on her face was well worth the 3 hours I spent decorating it!

A cake fit for a princess.

And here's the princess eating her cake with gusto.

A new hat.

Ziva treats Simon like a sibling. Sometimes she is super sweet to him and other times, she yells at him! And for the most part, he just ignores her...

Lately, Ziva's favourite toy has been her doctor's kit. A real stethoscope for her birthday was just the thing she needed!

Friday, March 18, 2011

New experiences for Ziva

Hello everyone! (Somehow this photo ended up here...and I am not computer saavy enough to move it!) This is Ziva on our 2 year anniversary of Gotcha Day, January 27th. Ziva has experienced a lot of new things in the past few months! We started gymnastics at the beginning of January which Ziva loves, of course, since it gives her lots of opportunity to run, jump, climb, and swing. Once the coaches realized that she has special needs and was delayed gross motorly, they provided her with a one-on-one EA; we were very glad for that because otherwise she would just run around and not do any of the tasks. In a few weeks, once gymnastics is over, she will go for another round of swimming lessons.
At the end of January, we started with rehabilitation services at Erin Oak; this provides services for kids who have multiple needs. Weekly, Ziva goes to see a (new) speech therapist and an occupational therapist. This week I took her to a physiotherapy assessment and we will now also consult with a physiotherapist every few months. Ziva and I also visited Sick Kids earlier this week for a "pre-MRI" check up. We have been told that Ziva is a great candidate for a weekend MRI appointment, so hopefully that will happen in a few months.

We have spent a lot of time this past month looking into schooling for Ziva- for now and next year. For SK next year, we have enrolled Ziva in our local public school where she will be provided with a one-on-one EA. We also decided to have Ziva switch schools now. Her needs just weren't being met at the school she was attending and so we made the difficult decision to pull her out. Next Monday, she will start at two new schools in their JK classes. We weren't able to find one full time placement so we have had to make do with two different centres; but that is what she will be doing next year when she is in SK, too, so she might as well get used to it! (No, we do not have full time SK in Halton yet!) We have heard nothing but good things about these two centers so we are very excited! It seems that both of these centers are well-equipped and trained to deal with special needs kids.

Ziva is making some progress in her speech. She still does not have all her sounds, though, so most words are still somewhat difficult to understand. Every day, Ziva and I work on sounds using games/flashcards provided by the speech therapist. Although she is limited in her speech, Ziva talks non-stop at home!

We continue to feel frustrated and, quite frankly, sad about other people's perception of Ziva. Ziva has her challenges and her delays... we are very well aware of that...but she is also able to learn and she is making progress! We have witnessed so many times in the past few months where people have low expectations of her and they automatically assume she can't understand or learn because of her delays. It seems that it is mostly related to her speech delay...once people realize she doesn't talk (much), they assume the worst. Although Ziva is not aware that people do this, we feel so badly for her because it is unfair judgement. It breaks my heart that people treat her this way.
I am so happy to say that Ziva is becoming quite the "mommy's girl"! When we are at home together, she doesn't let me out of her sight. For example, if she is playing upstairs and I need to go down to the basement to quickly get something, she always has to go with me. If she gets hurt (even if it is very minor), she always needs "a kiss to make it better"...but the kiss can only be from me (daddy's kisses don't even cut it!). And the number of kisses she gives me! She's my girl!
Now onto some fun photos!

Reading continues to be one of Ziva's favourite pastimes. This was the first time she picked this book off the shelf...
She will often read a book while eating. Hmmm....I wonder where she picked that up?
Snow was a huge hit with Ziva this winter! We took her tobogganing every weekend and she had a blast. She has no fear and so would go down even the hugest hills! Ziva fell in love with her snowman!
Always a helper, Ziva would help me shovel the snow.
Ziva's new look! At an appoinment with the ophthamologist at Sick Kids back in February, they discovered she needs glasses! This week was her first week with far, so good!
Ziva is a puzzle hound! We bought her 24 piece puzzles at Christmas...which she "outgrew" in about a week. She is now up to 48 pieces and whizzes through them!
We took Ziva to an indoor amusement park...this was right up her alley. She loved the spinning, the heights, the speed! This was one ride I wouldn't even go on.
Ahhhh....this is more my speed!
Ziva smiles all the time...she is such a happy girl. But, as you may have noticed, she doesn't often smile for the camera. When we are going to take her picture, we'll say, "Ziva, smile!" and she will usually absolutely refuse. What a stinker! Every once in a while we are able to capture her with her big beautiful smile...