8 Will be great!
Aplentiful amount of amazing things have brought us to this point 8 years later. The journey this child is on never stops marveling those around her. The constant in her life that one could imagine hold her back, make her journey harder, and prevent her from accomplishing ordinary events in life seems to do the opposite as time goes forward. She was absolutely born to empower people just by living life. I look at this sweet child and think there must have been more to orchestrate her life plan than I can see or understand. I feel lucky beyond belief to be writing about what Im reflecting of her for this past year, and overall for eight strong years. So many moments of fear and the unknown for her. Moments that have shaped her into the strongest person I will ever know.
The past year has been a strong one for her, we have celebrated many milestones. Among those are meeting some of her academic IEP goals, being two years seizure free, learning to ride a bike, writing a couple of letters, increasing her counting skills,a stronger immune system, a few self-care goals, and so much more! She continues to deepen her friendships and has social skills beyond belief. In a room of strangers she will leave with multiple friends. She finds complete joy in the art of meeting people and communicating in ways I can’t describe. Her sister has dance lessons each week. There is a large waiting room with viewing windows into the classes. Each week Z goes into that waiting room and sits down next to someone new. Not next to me or her brother, but next to anyone she doesn’t know! She finds complete joy in breaking that awkward stranger barrier, and making a friend out of the situation. This is just one of hundreds of examples of her taking a social situation most of us just pass by, and meeting someone new. Extending her village, socializing with people, learning behaviors of others, and making new friends. I watch her in amazement, and also to make sure she is at least using some stranger danger skills. The mama bear in me will never stop that fierce watchful eye. She learns from others, she learns from others strengths, she learns from others weaknesses. It seems like she then takes those observances, gathers data and uses it for furthering friendships!
When Miss Z started Kindergarten in public school we were frightened. The fear of sending a special needs child to school where you can’t shelter them all day like you have their entire life. You don’t see and hear what happens to them all day. It is scary! I felt the need to instantly make friends with her Kinder teacher, for the complete fear that, that was the one person I had to trust to pass off that torch of my mama bear antics to! If you recall, my one wish for her growing up when I was pregnant was that she would not be noticed for being different, but be able to empower all those around her in spite of it! I had to somehow make sure this would hold true without being around her all day! Her kinder teacher is one of the most incredible individuals I know. She has this outward peace about her, an ability to listen and stay grounded amongst all the chaos around her. I knew when I met her we had struck teacher gold! She listened to all my fears and concerns, and always had a watchful eye over MissZ! We chatted almost daily about tips and creative techniques we could try to get her to achieve academic goals. We were both Team Zephie! I will go into more depth about this in a later post. One of the most important things that happened in Miss Z’s kindergarten year was a friendship she made with a young boy named Levi. Zephie saw the magic in Levi from day 1. I don’t know much about how their friendship formed, but I kept hearing his name after school. The fabulous teacher would tell me cute stories of how they helped each other that day in school. I would hear about when they were paired magical transformations would take place. It was a huge relief to me. My daily fears of having her in school where I feared she would be singled out for being different would sometimes fade sightly. I say slightly, because still today I have fears of this especially as she starts to get older. Now she had a friend she could count on in those times she couldn’t describe in words what her needs were. This was perfect! Levi quickly at the young age of 6 became a huge advocate for Zephie. He seemed to understand her and be able to help her in social situations where her words weren’t enough. They always listen to each other, even when there are not enough words to be spoken.
Fast forward two more school years and they are still in class together, and their friendship is incredibly strong. They continue to help each other grow in all areas of life. To say I am thankful for that sweet young boy is an understatement. He has no idea how important his friendship has been for Miss Z. I know their friendship is a huge part of her success. His mom and I have also become quite good friends. It seems it is a family affair of strong friendships growing!
To celebrate Miss Z’s birthday we opted out of the large party we usually have and instead did a small family outing with Levi’s family. We went to this fabulous place called, The Merry Kitchen where the kids embarked on a cooking lesson! They used their new culinary skills to cook up tacos and Strawberry birthday cake. I highly recommend going to this place for the kids cooking classes she has on her website, or even to celebrate a birthday like we did. The skills and processes she teaches the kids feels very obtainable for the kids. The skills are transferable to a home environment as well. All parents can use a little extra help in the kitchen! This is an excellent way to inspire all the young chefs in our lives!
Up first, the kids made Gluten free, dairy free strawberry cake with vanilla frosting. This was not a box recipe, it was from scratch with pureed strawberries included. Each ingredient measured out by the children. Then gently folded together to make the cake. I think the moms’ are hoping the kids repeat this for Mother’s day! Then while the cake was baking they started making refried beans from scratch, ground meat, homemade salsa, homemade guacamole. The taco works! The simplicity of the recipes was a great way to not overwhelm the kids with the process. Simple, healthy and achievable. Let me tell you, when they were finished it was a delicious feast.
They all felt so empowered by the experience. I picked a dinner venue that we eat weekly in our house, hoping the kids could use the skills at home! There was a a lot oflaughter, and attention spans that faded. That didn’t seem to matter they’d come back and participate all over again. The entire experience was filled with joy, love and learning. A perfect way to celebrate the birthday girl. One of my favorite parts was watching Zephie and Levi. If one was off track or needed more direction the other guided them right back to the task. It was a beautiful thing to watch. I wish we were all so lucky to have that kind of friend in our lives. One that just gets us all the time, no judgment.
Just look at the smiles on those two faces! Such adoration!
If you are curious about this place or have questions, Julie is so kind and accommodating. Check out her website and class schedule. We will definitely be back to The Merry Kitchen.
I have high hopes for 8. I think it is going to be a year full of astonishing successes, a year full of dreams being reached. A year just like all the rest that with all the love and support she is surrounded with will be amazing, and another miracle to talk about! We are so thankful for what this young lady has done in 8 years. She continues to drive us to work hard everyday. We are the lucky ones, 8 years strong.