A, B, C's...or X, M, O, T?
Wow, this little girl takes my breath away. In the random, every day, snapshots, I catch myself staring at her face, her hair, her sweetness, and I realize how in love with our Ashley that I am. She was sitting on the couch watching a Ranger's game with Blake Sunday afternoon in this shot. Seriously, she was. I tell you the truth when I tell you she will watch ANYTHING with Blake. If he likes it, she likes it. Not a peep, not a complaint, not a sign for Wonder Pets, or her verbal request for Myth Busters was even uttered. She was sooooo content to be with him watching baseball. This girl!
Here, I'm just going to show you. Look at her face! It never moves off the screen until a commercial comes and then she looks to him to "fix it" for her and put the game back on. So funny!
Anyway, this post isn't about any of that. Its about Ashley and all she has learned the last couple of weeks. Every single day her knowledge seems to be EXPLODING! Dave and I really believe its all because of her Ipad. Seriously, it is. Her world has opened up and she has come so far since she received it. One of the coolest things that has happened lately is on her last appointment in Shreveport one of her physicians shared with us that after he watched Ashley navigate her Ipad at a previous appointment he went and wrote a proposal for a grant to supply Ipads for children like Ash. He was amazed at how much she communicated and "played" with hers and came up with the idea to make this happen for others. I was so blessed to hear this. So blessed. It truly has made a difference in her life.
So the title of this post was something about her A, B, C's. For as long as I can remember Ashley has been interested in the alphabet, numbers, and shapes. I was told long ago that she would not be able to learn these things. That she wouldn't be ready for this type of learning until she mastered the whole stacking blocks nemesis of ours. Well...I never believed them. Not for a second. I know Ashley Kate. I see her in a way that so many others never do. I see her 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I parent her. I play with her. I do soooo much more than evaluate her for a few minutes and then right an incorrect report based on that evaluation. The "standard" mean NOTHING to us. Really they don't. Its a bunch of bull. Each child is an individual and each child with disabilities learns at different rates, in different ways, and you can't fit then into your educational "box".
I just want to brag a little. One of Ashley's favorite things to do is drive. She loves to ride in the car. Loves to watch the world speed past her window. For years she has pointed out the signs as we pass them by. She looks and searches for items, letters, shapes, etc. that she recognizes. I watch her in my mirrors and I say aloud each thing I see her point too. Its a learning game. As I load her into the car she begins to sign and "tell me" where she would like to go and what she would like to see. For example, "fish" and lobster" are two of her signs she shows me every single time we get into the car. It means, "I want you to drive by red lobster so I can see the lobster and the fish". For years I never even knew there was a fish on the outside of red lobster. I always saw the obvious "red lobster" on their sign, but must have always looked past the fish. Its there. Its on their building. I would say, "Thats not a fish baby, but your right there is a lobster". She insisted there was a fish and so one day while stopped at the red light I looked closer. To my amazement she has spotted a fish at the top of their building too. She shows me the world in a new way every single day. Ash pays attention to the little details in life. Never missing a thing.
This would have been Ashley Kate's kindergarten year. She's missed it all. Just now we feel as though she is at a place where her teachers could come back into our home, but its the end of the year and so its over. She missed it and we hate that for her, but lately Ash has been spot on when it comes to her alphabet. Last week she showed me an ABC app on her ipad that I didn't even know was there. She would pull up a letter like X, then point to it and I would say, "X", and then she would SIGN it. Ok, blow me away. I have never worked on signing the alphabet with Ash. Its difficult to make your fingers do some of the letters, and so I assumed it would be too hard right now for her to learn it. Prove your momma wrong sweet girl. Please do, and so she did. Then next letter she pulled up was an M. She tapped it, looked at me, and signed it too. Then an O and a T. Then an A and a B! Not only did she do this, but she proceeded to pull up a W and then signed Watermelon telling me that it started with a W. Again, she did the same thing with H and horse. I was stunned! These are things I HAVE NOT TAUGHT HER. SHE IS TEACHING HERSELF! It is amazing. So amazing. I could go on and on and on about what she has shown me just last week. I won't, but I could.
Ash is doing so well. She really is. She looks amazing. She is amazing. Even with staph colonized inside of her line she is flourishing. Every day she learns more, plays more, smiles more, and lives more. I'm so captivated by her. We all are. Blake and Allie light up when they are with her. Their smiles, their eyes, their countenance shines when they hang out with her. She is the biggest blessing in our lives. The absolute biggest! We all love her so very much.
I try so hard to concentrate on the today's we are being given and to ignore her tomorrows. I have to. If I allow myself to think about the journey ahead then it steals so much of the joy I am being given today. We aren't naive. We are aware. Truly we are. Its just a choice to try and stop being consumed with the worry and the knowledge of what lies ahead so that it can't steal from us what we have now. My fears are still there. The hurt is real. The tears fall. But...I'm getting better at living in the moments with my beautiful girl. She's just so beautiful! Everything about her is lovely. Her smile, her face, the smell of her hair, the twinkle in her eye, the soft touch of her skin, the sound of giggles. How do you lay all of that down and give it away not knowing if you will ever have it given back to you? I don't know how to do that. Not yet I don't. I pray God will give me the peace inside when the time comes to take those steps. He will have too. I can't do this on my own. We know TOO much. We've seen TOO much. We've lost TOO much. Yet, we will have to do this all over again. The agony of that is palpable. Its physical. We feel it when we allow those images and the knowledge of past experience to seep into our thoughts. I don't want to do this today. I don't want to allow my heart to hurt. So instead I'm going to leave you with one of my favorite pictures of our big girl from this week. I look into that face and I'm so overwhelmed with love for her. She is a gift. A gift we didn't deserve, but I'm so glad was given.