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Ethan’s Progress Report

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It has been a long time.  I know.  One of my goals for the new year is to find a time to write because it really is one of my favorite things.  However, I love my family more. And, right now, when I have extra time, I spend it with them instead of writing.  I am still figuring out the whole balancing life with working and family time.  I will figure it all out, and, when I do, I will write more.

With all of that being said, the good news is that Ethan has had a great 2nd grade year so far.  We are very, very proud of him and all of his progress.  He is learning to read with this amazing sign language program at school.  He signs and approximates the words, and he matches the pictures with the sentences.  Watching him always makes me smile.  He is working so hard, but, he also makes it look so easy.  We are learning the signs with him, and I think that he really likes teaching us.

He showed his entire class how he can read last week, and, when he did, they all cheered for him.  It gave me chills.

Earlier in the week, I talked to a parent who has a son in Ethan’s class.  They were in the same class in Kindergarten, but they were not in the same class in 1st grade.  So, the parents had not really been around Ethan in over a year.  Last week, the dad was a volunteer in the classroom, and he went home telling the mom all about Ethan, how much he has progressed and how verbal and animated he has become.  Their best friends have a child with autism who is nonverbal.  While Ethan’s diagnosis is childhood apraxia of speech, and not autism, it still gives them great hope that their best friends’ son will make verbal progress, as well.  Giving people hope always makes me happy.

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Ethan is making great progress at speech therapy, too.  He is meeting his goals, and every week, his speech therapist tells me how great he is doing.

Yesterday, I was the substitute teacher in Ethan’s classroom.  I was sitting in my classroom eating lunch with him when I received the news about the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. I was immediately filled with great sadness, and I still am today.  Being a mom and working in education, it all hit really, really close to home. I am counting my blessings this morning and hugging my littles just a little bit tighter, while keeping the parents in Newtown in my prayers.

I am lucky.  Lucky that I get to go to work with my littles almost every day.  Lucky that, while Ethan does still have a long road ahead of him in regards to academic development, he is here with us making progress every single day.  All of my children are here with me making their own progress every single day.  While I do not write a Gabriel or Summer progress report, they are special and unique and amazing, too.  And, they contribute to Ethan’s progress every single day.  They celebrate it as much as we do. Because, just as it has always been, we are in this as a family…together.

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Ethan’s Progress Report

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Last week I hinted at sharing good news about Ethan.  Then, life got busy with school, a special birthday party, planning for October, and a stomach bug that quickly made its way through our home.  So, the good news, while still at the forefront of my heart, had to take a seat on the back burner while I was able to get caught up a little.

What happened last week was so especially exciting because, honestly, I did not really ever foresee a day when this would happen.  Of course we have dreamed about Ethan talking and reading and going to college, but we know that the reality is that he might never do those things.  While we are perfectly happy with the super-incredible person who Ethan is right now, we do want amazing things for his future, just as we do for Summer and Gabriel.

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So, when Ethan’s teacher sent home a book for him to read, I fully expected to just read it to him each night, knowing that reading to a child is one of the best ways to develop fluency, comprehension, and a love of books, in general.  When I opened up the book, however, I thought, “Ethan knows these words.  He can read this.”  So, we gave it a shot.

What happened next had me jumping up and down, sending emails, and making telephone calls.  My Ethan read the entire book.  He said some words, approximated some words, and signed some words.  It was just a basic Kindergarten entry-level book, but, to me, it was a novel of epic proportions.  We read it every single night, and on Friday, Ethan read it to his teacher, too.  We are all so incredibly proud of his huge accomplishment!

As with everything in life, we enjoy the moment and then move on to the next big…or small…thing.  We celebrate, we dance, we send emails, we hug, we give high-fives, and we know that, in that particular moment, everything is good and perfect and just as it should be.  Just as there are good days, we understand that there will be bad ones, too.  But, honestly, knowing that simple truth is what makes the good days that much better. That is what makes reading a small book a reason to celebrate the huge step in Ethan’s much larger book of life.

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Ethan’s Progress Report

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I am so excited tonight that I am not sure if my words will even make perfect sense. Something happened tonight that was just incredible.  It filled my heart with total and complete joy, and I will get to it all shortly.

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First of all, though, I want to start with my sweet boy’s birthday.  Ethan is now eight, and I have a feeling that it is going to be his best year yet.  Whenever I woke up, I realized that I had not planned a special birthday breakfast for him.  And, well, that just was not going to do.  I had to do something to let him know that it was one of the best days of the whole year. So, I quickly got dressed, jumped in the van, and took off to the doughnut shop at 5:45 AM. Yep, that is fierce momma love for a boy who has changed my life in wonderful, amazing ways.

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As if the day could get any better than doughnuts, it absolutely did when I took him to work with me.  I was a substitute teacher in his class, and I could not have asked for a better job for the day.  Getting to be with him on the exact moment he was born was perfect.  I did not even realize that he had walked into the classroom right at the time he was born until later that day when I was wondering where we were at 10:06 AM.  Yes, the day was beautiful, and the angels, unicorns, and rainbows surrounded us all day, working their magic to orchestrate a beautiful day for both of us.

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Ethan chose pizza and little bitty cookies for his birthday dinner.  He was so excited to celebrate his special day, just having a calm family dinner.  That is my Ethan.  Family means the world to him.  We are his safe place…and he is ours, too.

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We gave him most of his presents at his birthday party, but we saved one for his actual birthday.  He was so happy and surprised to open up a telescope.  He will love looking at the moon, stars, and hopefully even some planets.

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So, the day was perfect.  In every single way. I did not know that it could get any better…until today.  We were sitting and doing his homework.  On Monday, homework had him a little frustrated, and we had decided to slow things down a little.  His confidence means the world to us.  He is so peaceful and happy in his world, and we never want to do anything to change that.  So, when we sat down to do homework today, it was a little matching sheet.  I knew that he could do the matching part very easily, so I started pointing to the words.  On the very first one, he signed and said the word before matching it.  I was excited, so we went on to the next one.  He immediately signed it.  There were six words on that sheet, and he signed every single one of them the very first time.  My boy was reading words, and I was doing a happy dance while speed dialing his teachers.  As I left his first teacher a voice mail, Ethan was just beaming.  I was able to speak to his second teacher, and she was just as excited as I was.  She immediately said, “Do you think he will do it for me tomorrow?”  I love that.  I love that we have surrounded Ethan with people who love him, who celebrate the same things that we celebrate, and who know that those little steps are huge steps for our sweet Ethan.

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I am not sure where we will go from here.  I am not sure if he will perfectly read the words tomorrow.  I am not sure when he will add more words to the six that he signed so perfectly today.  But, I do know this.  I do know that we will continue to celebrate the big and the little steps on this beautiful journey with our amazing 8-year old magical, incredible little boy.