Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday snapshot - my hero

swan portrait 4 WM

Can a hero be an 8 year old girl?
Out of my own curiosity, I looked up the definition for "hero" and I found that it typically
described someone (usually male) that does brave, selfless deeds.
swan portrait 1 WM

When I describe Grace as a hero, I think of a little girl who has courage,
who fights onward,
never gives up and tries harder than anyone I've ever known.
She inspires, she inspires our whole family.

swan portrait 2 WM

At age 2 Grace was diagnosed with a profound speech delay.
As in almost no speech and language.
She babbled some and had good receptive language (she could understand what we said to her).
She has received Speech/Language services from 2 until now (8 1/2 years old).
And she has worked really hard and done remarkably well!
swan portrait 6 WM

As this school year has progressed and the 2nd grade work has gotten
harder and more like 3rd grade.
Something wasn't quite right.
She was having word retrieval problems.
Grace would call a word the incorrect word at times.
She would have difficulty re-telling a story or remembering details.
I could tell by the look on her face when she was struggling.
But she kept trying her best, and it didn't get her down.

swan portrait 3 WM

In January, I had asked for her to be tested and she was diagnosed
as having a Language Based Learning Disability.
Grace is a bright little girl, who needs more time to process verbal and written directions.
During her IEP, I gave them several examples of how she processes language - if she can't
find the 'right' word when speaking to us,
she'll substitute the Spanish word (she takes it in school).
I thought that was very creative and smart.
The way Grace's learning disability was described to me is that it
has to do with how her brain categorizes words and ideas.
The words are's just that sometimes she can't find them.
Grace is now reading at grade level which has come with hard work and great effort on her part.
Through it all she has maintained a positive attitude, deep love of school, mutual admiration with her teachers,
and is receiving increased speech/language services.
 Add to that, loving support from me and my husband.
I'm not sure what the future will hold but we'll do whatever it takes to help her and
I know that she will keep working hard because she is as determined as we are.
As parents we want our children to be happy, healthy, safe and loved.
None of us are perfect, in fact I think it's our imperfections that make us more
beautiful and interesting people.
Whether apparent or invisible.

And now you know why she's my hero.

I recently read that 1 out of 5 people in the United States have a learning disability.
There is no 'cure' for them and they are life-long.
 However, children with LD can be high achievers and can be taught ways to get around the learning disability.
 With the right help, children with LD can and do learn successfully.

Sunday Snapshot

 Taken last week, these are some of my most favorite pictures of Grace.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

black and white Wednesday - recital weekend

Our Saturday started early with the ballet classes from Grace's dance school
 participating in a dress rehearsal for Swan Lake.
waiting rehearsal
(Swans waiting their turn to perform).

Right before that Grace had her hair and nails done
so she was ready to go!

recital 1

We arrived at our local high school where the performance was held in their PAC.
I was one of the chaperons for a room of 7 and 8 year olds.
My husband, Will and my parents were out in the audience to see Grace perform.

(Grace and 2 of her friends playing a 20 questions game before it was time to go on stage.)
recital 4 final

The dance school presented "Under the Sea,"
that's why the backdrop looks that way.
Here the girls are on stage for tap.

Tap Diptych

Next back to our room, with a change of shoes to wait to go on for jazz.
The girls got along extremely well and found plenty to do.
They really had fun and had such a great attitude.
recital 5 final
Then it was time for the swans to get dressed and ready for their dance.
Also for girls to converse or listen to music...
Backstage Diptych

There were ballerinas playing their DS games.
Or with "Squinkies."

Ballet waiting Diptych 2

You could feel the excitement in the room build,
and then it was time for the swans to line up and wait their turn...

recital 7

to go on stage.

Ballet Storyboard

Grace's class was the first of many that danced
in this performance of Swan Lake.
It had dancers in age from 7 up to high school seniors and adults.
Several of the school's teachers performed and did solos.
It was truly breathtaking to see so many beautiful swans on stage at one time in the finale!
Unfortunately I didn't get a shot of all of them together.

Ballet Finale Diptych copy

It was almost exactly a year ago that Grace
asked if she could try dance again.
She tried it at age 4 and didn't want to leave me to go into class(she would cry),
and I didn't push it. (not my style)

This year she's taken Ballet and a Tap/Jazz combo class and thoroughly enjoyed both.
What dance has done for her self confidence
has been nothing short of miraculous.
Grace has gone from a shy little girl to someone who has no difficulty
whatsoever performing in front of an audience.
We both have made many new friends through this experience and
Grace is taking Ballet this Summer.
What is most important is that she loves it and is having fun.
Now Will is asking to take a Hip/Hop class in the Fall. ;)

On a personal note, this has been just precious for me
to share these moments with Grace, getting ready for the recital
  and volunteering backstage.
I'll always treasure the memories of these 2 days
 and I'm happy I was able to capture the pictures
 for her to look back on someday.
I plan to make her a special album.
We couldn't be more proud of our little girl!

the long road

I post processed all of my images using Florabella actions from the Luxe II collection.
For the color versions, Florabella's "Angel."
And "Blush" for the Bl/Whites.

Please take a look at more beautiful black and white photography at Lisa's
blog, The Long Road to China.

Monday, May 23, 2011

21/52 - Swan Lake

21/52 - backstage

So as we come down from the high of a full dance weekend,
my treat today has been to upload the many pictures
 I was able to capture.
I was a chaperone backstage for the first time and
 got to help a room of 7 and 8 year olds girls get ready for each of their different dances.
(Which was great fun for me).

I chose these two for my project 52 and have lots more to post
later this week!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

20/52 - dress rehearsal

20/52 - dress rehearsal

This week has been a busy one with preparation
 for Grace's upcoming dance recital on the weekend.
Taken on Tuesday before professional pictures and a rehearsal,
I captured Grace right before we left.
The girls have to wear foundation, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara and lip color.

I got a little verklempt in the car on the way to the dance studio,
and couldn't help but look at her in the mirror as she was sitting in the backseat.
Why was I emotional?
It's a mama thing I suppose...maybe because she looks very grown up
and I love her so much.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

black and white Wednesday - my little buddy

Flower farm 1 blw
I find age 5 a very helpful one...whether it's putting away toys,
 his dishes on the counter after a meal...
Flower farm 2 color
Or going to the flower farm to help me choose flowers to plant...

Flower farm storyboard

Mr. Will happily complies and goes along with me (every Friday he's with me all day)
to wherever it is that we may need to travel.

Flower farm 5
This particular day he met a new friend.

Flower farm 6

And checked out the red tractor,
then excitedly ran to tell me all about it.
We walked back and he sat on it and pretended to drive of course.

Flower farm 8

I was looking for a certain color of flower (yellow) and stopped to look at these herbs.

Flower farm 9

We walked to the back of the farm and Will navigated the wagon.
He demonstrated some awesome wagon handling skills if I say so myself.

Flower farm 7

We then hit the jackpot at the greenhouse at the back of the farm
where I found just what I was looking for...
and Will took a little rest.

Flower farm 10 color

It was right about this time 3 years ago that we received
our PA and then LOA (letter of approval) from China to adopt Will.

Flower farm 11 blw

 I've been moving a lot of my pictures off
my hard drive to make more room.
I found the below black and white scan of one of the first pictures we saw of Will
in his file in 2008.
I don't have an original picture, it's a copy (not a great one) but I treasure it.
I have no idea how old he was here,
but he's just precious and you can see why we said YES to this little boy!

Will scan copy

Presently there are many more little boys than girls on the Waiting Children or Special Needs
lists for China.
If you're thinking of adopting, please consider a son.
They're wonderful.

the long road

Monday, May 16, 2011

i heart faces photo challenge - May flowers

20/52 - Magnolias

Our Spring in southern Wisconsin has been slow to arrive and pretty rainy and cold.
Recently we've had some beautiful sunny days and I noticed this Magnolia tree
in full bloom near my son's preschool.
The fragrance was heavenly!

iheartfaces button

Check out more beautiful flowers for the i heart faces photo challenge this week.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday snapshot - growing up too fast

Childhood is a short season.

~ Helen Hayes

Playground Diptych 1

Last week we went to one of our favorite parks to check out the new playground equipment.
As I watched Grace and Will happily play,
I was struck by how long their legs are getting
and how much they'd grown.

Playground 3
I've never been someone who says, "I can't wait for my children to grow up."
I don't wish away the time.
Although it is pretty great when they are a little more independent.
I am one who cherishes all these moments and different stages of childhood
and knows that living in the present is what matters most.

And I'm also well aware that one day I'll look back and remember that these will be some of
the best years of my life...and the ones that went by way too fast.

Playground Diptych 2

Grace getting close to 9.
And Will now 5 and 1/2.

Sunday Snapshot

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

19/52 - May

19/52 - dandelion days

I don't have to look at my calendar to see that it's May.
That's when they appear.
There are thousands and they seem almost to spring out of the ground overnight.
I have a love/hate relationship with them.
Don't particularly like dandelions in my yard,
but I like them because they are a sign that Spring really is here.
 I do love their pretty color.
And that my 2 littles give them to me.

(Taken today at a nearby park, a yellow and green carpet that seemed to go on forever).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday snapshot - Mother's Day

Mother's Day 1

My Mother's Day started out with bright and beautiful smiles and hugs and kisses.
Which went with the perfect Spring weather today, it couldn't have been better.

I received flowers, lots of them (there were more than the ones in the pictures).
And handmade gifts made with love.
A flower pot painted by Will with seeds to plant.
And a clay dish made by Grace to hold little treasures.

Tonight will be a cookout with my 3 kids and dear husband...which to me is the best gift.
Spending time with my family.

Mother's Day Storyboard

And of course Superman had to make an appearance!

Mother's Day 4
I hope your Mother's Day was lovely.

Sunday Snapshot

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

black and white Wednesday - a boy's life

Will playing 1

A boy is Truth with dirt on it's face,
Beauty with a cut on its finger,
Wisdom with bubble gum in its hair,
and the Hope of the future with a frog in its pocket.

~ Author Unknown
Will playing 2

He was born with a gift of laughter.

~ Rafael Sabatini

Will playing Storyboard

Tall oaks from little acorns grow.

~ David Everett
Will playing 8
(Will was fascinated with the lichens growing on the log, so we had a little discussion about them).

What a life this little boy leads.

One of climbing, jumping, exploring, running,
playing with a stick or pretending he's a Super Hero.
Will can be... gentle but also strong.
Dirty but cleans up well.
Loud and clunky.
Quiet and thoughtful.
Mischievous and funny.
He picks dandelions and often gives them away to his mommy.
And he's always a sweet and loving little guy that gives the best hugs ever!

Will playing 9

Last week, Will and I attended his Kindergarten registration meeting
at the school he'll be attending the Fall.
He met his teacher and spent about an hour in her room, getting to know her and the other children.
I couldn't be any more proud of him because he's worked incredibly hard to get to this place.
And what a journey it's been. :)

I'm so fortunate he's my son and wouldn't trade the nearly 3 years with him for anything.

Will playing 10
Happy Wednesday!
Check out Lisa's blog, The Long Road to China for many more black and whites.
And meet some wonderful people too.

the long road

Sunday, May 1, 2011

18/52 - hard work and commitment

ballet practice 3
I've mentioned before that this is Grace's first year and experience taking dance.
In 3 weeks she'll be performing in her first recital.
She danced in a little Christmas show her school put on in December.
18/52 - hard work

These girls have been working hard since last Fall for this special weekend.
She'll perform in 'Swan Lake,' and two other dances (one tap and one jazz).
You can really feel the excitement in the air at the studio...

ballet practice 4

She tells me ballet is her favorite and will also be taking it this Summer too!
© Aging with Grace and strong Will
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