Category Archives: new things

Avila’s Chicago Adventure – Part 1

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I took Avila to Chicago for her first trip this past weekend. We went from Friday, March 11 through Sunday, March 13th. This trip was about 5 months in the making – if not longer. I purchased a Stephen Amell VIP pass just before Christmas and we gave her the ticket for her 4th birthday. I explained to her how we were going to go meet “Casey Jones, the Green Arrow” as she calls Stephen Amell (since those are the two major roles he plays and Avila noticed as much in the TMNT2 trailer and was beyond excited). She was really excited to meet him, and we had decided she was going to wear a Casey Jones and Green Arrow crossover costume.
Avila: Casey Jones/Green Arrow

Anyway, we also purchased a CityPass to go to the museum, aquarium, and planetarium. Those three places were the most important to visit to her, so I told myself to just let her go at her own pace.

The morning of Friday, March 11th finally rolled around and I woke Avila up at my mom’s, where the kids and I stayed because of Matt working so early in the morning and Avila and I leaving at 7am. We drove the 3+ hours to the city of Chicago and parked at Soldier Field as my Uncle Steve had instructed (he’s from Chesterton, IN which is an hour away and his wife’s brother lives in the city).

Avila and I walked to Shedd Aquarium first and only had to wait about 15 minutes until they opened, since about twenty minutes into the journey I remembered the time zone change. We skipped the line and went right to will call to pick up the CityPass and map. I let Avila lead the way and take as little or much time as she wanted as she peered into each tank.
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From 9am CT until 12pm we were at the aquarium. Avila started whining and wanted a hot dog so we went out and over to the Field Museum of Natural History to view the T-Rex fossils.

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We walked around for a bit, Avila held a T-Rex tooth, she looked over some different antlers, and decided to make our way up to the second floor and visit the Sue Store and made a few purchases. She started whining about half way through the Asian bears exhibit when we went back downstairs so we made our way back down to the bottom level, in which we came from and hit up the Underground Adventure exhibit on our way out. It was pretty interesting and Avila didn’t have any sort of sensory overload meltdowns either, which is always a plus. We went outside and got some hot dogs, chips, and Avila-safe pop and ate our food as we made our way back across the street, through the park, and back through the parking garage at Soldier Field. Avila whined some more that her feet hurt and I put her on my shoulders just after we crossed the street and she was nearly ran over by a Segway Tours guide and her group. I sat her in her car seat and called my mother, to check in with her and texted Matt an update. Avila sat quietly as she watched Max and Ruby on the DVD player in the van and ate her lunch. I charged my phone, finished my food, and contemplated our next moves. I reorganized my purse and our bag of souvenirs as I waited for Avila to see what she wanted to do next. It was around 1pm local time (so 2pm at home) and we talked to Matt as he was picking Iris and Jensen up from Grandma Bea’s house at 1:30pm Ct (2:30pm at home).

I asked Avila if she wanted to go to the hotel now, or if she wanted to go to the planetarium and of course she was game to go to Adler Planetarium. As soon as we got to the park spot after leaving the parking garage, Avila said she couldn’t walk. I hoisted her up on my shoulders as I silently cursed myself for not bringing Jensen’s single red umbrella stroller with us. I lugged Avila’s 50 lb. butt on my shoulders across the street, pass the museum, pass the aquarium, across the street, and down to the end of the road to Adler Planetarium, and up the steps. My extremely out-of-shape self nearly collapsed (perhaps that was my lungs?) as I took her off my shoulders and she happily danced her way inside to exchange our CityPass for admission tickets. We were just in time for the 1:45pm show and we got seats in the front and Avila kept asking when it’d start. About five minutes into the show I had her sit on my lap and she curled up and slept for the remainder of the show. Afterward, we sat there until the staff made me leave, and I woke her up and we went exploring.

Adler was by far our favorite stop and it was definitely worth the trek we made to get there. I would absolutely carry her heavy butt any distance to bring her there again; she absolutely loved it and it was definitely worth it. We looked around in the room with more information on the planets, and even had a to-scale planets hanging up, with more info on the planets. Avila’s favorite planet is Mercury because it’s the hottest, so I made sure to snap a picture and we went to the Children’s Explorer part. Avila spent the next three hours just playing in all the different areas of the kids’ part and I loved watching her run around, press buttons, pretend to be an astronaut, and inform me of facts she’s learned about the planets. She had me read every sign to her, although there were ones I know she read first. Anyway, we played there for awhile and I had to forcibly remove her from the premises because we had at least an hour drive ahead of us now back to the hotel.

I carried her back down the steps, down the street, through the park, through the parking garage, and only let her down once we reached the van. I even made her ride the elevator on my shoulders. She was mad at me and she likes to dart off and doesn’t listen and has no sense of danger so I wasn’t taking any chances. I put her in her seat, gave her a snack and her Ninja Turtles blanket and informed my mom and Matt we were heading to the hotel. I GPSed the address and we made our way out and to the village of Rosemont. There was construction on the highway we had to use, but it was nothing compared to the outpouring of people that were on their way (luckily in the opposite direction) to the Trump rally and I was glad we were getting far away from that mess. Later I’d find out it was shut down and I was still glad we were no where near that mess of traffic, people, and idiocrisy.

We got to Embassy Suites in Rosemont about an hour and a half later, and we got up to our room. I showered and Avila called room service, and ordered herself chicken fingers. I got on the phone and okayed the purchased and ordered myself some chicken quesadillas and was happy we didn’t have to go searching for a bunch of stuff.

I decided we should go pick up our badges and passes for tomorrow’s FanFest early and we made our way out and around to the convention center, via the pedestrian overpass. I wasn’t paying attention too well on my way in so once we got the passes and our bands for the next day, we went to leave. We made a right instead of a left and Avila started complaining her legs hurt. I was starting to get frustrated that I’d have to carry her on my shoulders again, as I wandered in circles, lost and getting late at night. A woman and her younger son was coming back towards me and said, “Nope, wrong way, this doesn’t go back to the parking garage!” I sighed and hoisted Avila on my shoulders. I explained I was headed back to the same place and could I just follow them around at least please? She agreed, and we headed back. We had to go to the same hotel and we finally made it to the parking garage. They went ahead and went down to the ground floor to go back to their room and Avila and I got in our car and rook it to get gas and hopefully pizza.

Well, we got into the Mobil gas station and instead of trying to navigate and make a bunch of left turns in the dark on busy and unfamiliar roads we went through the McDonald’s drive-thru that was next to the gas station, and went back to the hotel. We parked for the night, changed into pajamas, and we called my mom and Matt both, to let them know we were safe in our room for the night. I set my alarm, and made sure all my extra batteries and phone were charging and I crawled into the bed, to snuggle my fast-growing baby, and fell asleep quickly.

 

Go here for Avila’s Chicago Adventure – Part 2: Heroes Vs. Villains FanFest (Day 1)
Go here for Avila’s Chicago Adventure – Part 3: Heroes Vs. Villains FanFest (Day 2)

The real Avila

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Oh, where do I start on this? I’d like this post to kind of give the history of Avila, and something to link back to to “catch you up to speed” on the wonderful being that is my precious first-born.
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I was not looking to have kids, to even settle down, when I found out I was pregnant with Avila. I was partying every day and had been having severe problems with excruciatingly painful periods. The doctor I started seeing put me on the birth control Seasonique, which reduced your time of the month to 4 a year. Well, when I went in to get my first refill after taking the first three months’ worth of doses, they said, “You’re not getting a laporoscopy or a refill because you’re pregnant.” My doctor even tracked the nurse down and was like, No, there’s no way. My first reaction was, Well damn I shouldn’t have stopped and got that pint before this appointment after all. So, you can see how my priorities were at the time.

Anyway, I told Adam, whom was the guy I was seeing at the time. He suggested I get an abortion and that pretty much solidified the fact I didn’t want anything to do with him anymore. Yeah, just tell the adopted girl to have an abortion as a form of birth control. Okay. Not.

Adam, whom was 11 1/2 years my senior, already had three children from two previous marriages already at this point. I tried to be cool and make things work anyway, for everyone, especially the baby’s sake,  but that just wasn’t happening obviously. The breaking point was when he called me selfish, and unfit, because at 6 and 1/2 months pregnant, I was going to absolutely still camp out in line for the Hanson concert that was only 45 minutes from our town. More on my Hanson addiction later, but just note that we basically broke up over a Hanson concert and I’m more than absolutely okay with it.
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Contrary to his belief, neither Avila, nor I died there in the front row or in line. I got pictures with them afterward and they signed my onesie I had bought for the baby.

As I mentioned in another post, I named Avila after a baseball player. He is named Alex Avila, and at the time I was picking her name, he was the Detroit Tigers’ catcher. I wanted something that was feminine, trendy – but not off the wall, and started and ended with an A. I’m a huge name nerd and I wasn’t going to take this lightly. I needed something that went with Adam’s other kids’ names, but could start it’s own “sibling set” later as well if/when I was to have more children. Anyway, my friend Sylvia (more about her later) and I were at Matt’s  (yes, now-my-fiance Matt) apartment, watching the Tigers game. At this point I am just writing down names that start and end with A, even if I knew for certain I’d never ever use them. Anyway, Alex Avila comes up to bat and I kind of perk up a little to the announcers on TV and stop writing. I said, “Hey, Avila starts and ends with A!” Then he hits a home run. That sealed the deal, Avila it would be if the baby ended up being a girl. Which, we never did find out what she was going to be until she was born. The general consensus was that “the baby” was going to be a boy and his name was going to be Benjamin David-Isaac. Which, is hilarious to me now, writing this over four years later of her birth. Nearly 5 years already since these events took place, which was May 12, 2011 when I found out I was pregnant with her in the first place…

Okay, anyway, I was due January 11, 2012. I had an appointment on my due date, and here we were, no baby in sight. I was dilated to a 3 and my on-call doctor was Dr. Deaton. He stripped my membranes at 10:00 am and sent me home to walk. I paced the living room for awhile, while talking on the phone to my friend Kristin in Lansing. I felt like I had a really slow leak and went to the bathroom. I decided to lay down since I wasn’t feeling any sort of contractions, or a big rush of water. I hung up with Kristin, and called my other friend there named Sunny. By this time it was around 1:00 pm and she advised me to instead go to the hospital. I took a shower and got ready, called Sylvia, and called my mom. By 3:30 pm we were at the hospital and the on-call doctor, Dr. Snider, told me I wasn’t leaving without a baby. Finally! We get settled into the room and they put Cervisil in to make me thin and progress further since I was only at a 4 or so at the time. So we watch at Dance Moms marathon on Lifetime while waiting for the 12 hours it needs to do its job. 4 am they start Pitocin to further my contractions but I’m still not feeling them. They screw around forever with that and finally I’m dilated to a 9. Dr. Schlice, my least favorite doctor, was on-call at this point and they had finally broken my water the rest of the way. It’s 12:30-1:00 pm and she moves the baby’s head around the rest of the cervix that hadn’t completely dilated yet, and asks me to attempt a push. Avila’s head damn near came out and I see my baby has a headful of black hair! Doctor tells me I can’t push anymore and at this point I can’t stop. The entire birthing staff come flying in and my slow ass doctors finally let me push again. Avila came out to her knees and the doctor made me stop pushing. I tried to stop, but I couldn’t and gave a half push and she was clear. Sylvia and my mom were there and before I could even ask what the baby was, she yelled, “We were wrong! It’s a girl!”
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I laid back and thought, “Oh Avila, I love you. I have a girl. I have a daughter.” They placed her on my chest and it was the most overwhelming feeling I have ever felt in my entire life. I’m adopted and so my mom’s love for me is this chosen love, and though it’s very emotional and overpowering in it’s own respect, I have this child, my own DNA.
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My own blood relative. The ONLY blood relative I’ll ever know on this Earth ever (at this point). It wasn’t a feeling I could describe. It still isn’t. That instant I became a mother is just, the single most powerful feeling I could possibly feel in my lifetime. Every single time was the most…the three most powerful, emotional, overwhelming, fearful, loving, cheerful, scariest, greatest, unbelievable, vulnerable, most perfect moments I’ll ever be able to experience in my lifetime.
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Avila was a pretty normal baby. Younger baby anyway. Yet, as she got older, and was doing more things, she wasn’t normal at all. And I knew. Matt came into my life romantically at this point and Avila was 7 months old. He met her at 8 months old. At 11 months, the three of us moved into our first home together. And we have lived here ever since. We hope to find some property out in the country more, house we can fix up some and have horses. We’d more towards Matt’s dad so that’s always good. I love his dad, he’s awesome.

Ok, so Avila was somewhat normal, until she hit around 12-18 months and her “quirks” weren’t just quirks anymore. I have a cousin that also has Autism, so it wasn’t an entirely foreign concept to me. I went to my Grandma, whom has done in-home day care her entire life, and I knew would give me her deep-heartedly honest opinion.
“Grandma, I think…I think she’s, special. Like, {my cousin}.”
“You know…yeah. Yeah, I absolutely think it’s worth looking into.”image

And that’s how that went. I went to our doctor and he was extremely skeptical at first, but I had came prepared, and listed every single instance that had gave me suspicion, and part way through he had agreed that I knew her best, and gave us the referral to Community Mental Health (CMH) for a screening. I was thrilled and terrified. I’m a very anxious person anyway, so all those weeks, those days, those hours, those minutes, those seconds were all so agonizingly  depressing for me. I drove myself insane a million times over and I dreaded the day, and yet, I looked forward to it. I was so nervously excited I could puke; I could finally have answers. I could be doing something for her. I could put this depressing anxiety into something good for once.

Then the day came. We went to the CMH building, met with a very eager lady, and she made me feel confident, just by seeing her. I knew this was right, I knew I was doing the right thing as her mother. And so they tested Avila, and she cried, and threw her fits and had her meltdowns. They hit every trigger for her – and of course, thus hitting every one of mine, but we lived. They had me fill out lots of questionnaires, interviewed me many times, and sign so many forms. As we were leaving, I asked the woman what she thought. She informed me she couldn’t say for certain yet, until she scored the tests Avila did, but she felt that she absolutely fell on the Autism Spectrum somewhere. I breathed a sigh of relief and shame at my feelings and fears for Avila going forward and awaited my letter in the mail. A week or so later, and I got the results in the mail. I ran out to the mailbox, and I knew as soon as I saw the thick envelope. I ripped it open and read that Avila was, in fact, on the Autism Spectrum and had been diagnosed with Autism. She was leaning towards a more Asperger Disorder type, but apparently that’s “no longer on the Spectrum.” So I read and researched every single thing I could about the parts Avila scored really low in to learn what I could do to help. I read a lot about removing artificial dyes, flavors, and preservatives from her diet and decided to give it a go. It was really rough at first, but within two weeks I already had a completely different kid.

7 Realities You Need to Face When Naming Your Child After an Athlete

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I found out I was pregnant with my first child in May of 2011. Detroit Tigers baseball was back with a vengeance, and I was faced with trying to come up with a name for the tiny person I was about to bring into the world. I didn’t originally intend for my daughter to be named after an athlete – specifically a baseball player – but it just so happened to work out that way. Well, now here we are about to start the 2016 season and the Tiger my daughter was named after was traded. TRADED. So, that got me to thinking…

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  1. Your player could get traded. Unless you Yankee fans named your child Jeter at any point before his retirement, this is something you have to accept. Though, the thought never crossed my mind when I settled on Avila (a la Alex Avila) that he could possibly be traded. And to the Chicago White Sox of all people. Geez. He could’ve at least went to the Cubs and not a division rival. Oh well, at least it’s not the Yankees.alexavilanewyorkyankeesvdetroittigersbufrlefz50_l
  2. Your player may be having a fluke season. Alex Avila had an okay 2012, and a crappy 2013. I absolutely got ridiculed by friends, family, and random Tigers fans when they would hear my daughter’s name. “Avila? Tell him to start swinging that bat and actually hitting the ball!” Me: “Yeah, I don’t think you’re understanding which Avila I actually have some control over, but okay random sir, trust me when I say that I absolutely feel your pain.”130807085043-01-alex-rodriguez-0807-horizontal-large-gallery[1].jpg
  3. Your player may be found out to be a cheater/liar/some how a bad person. Not that I’d ever understand why someone would name their kid after him in the first place, but I really feel for the ones that named a child after Alex Rodriguez for example. Even though he’s a Yankee, Derek Jeter was a very classy man on and off the field, so being associated with him isn’t a bad thing.
    However, you can’t foresee what someone is going to do in the future, and what exactly you consider to be “bad,” but think carefully about their quality of character both on and off the field.DerekJeter
  4. They may stop playing their sport all together, or get demoted so far down you don’t ever hear about them anymore. Even though Jeter is a legend, and avid baseball fans could absolutely still use it at any point for their children, I have a friend whom named her son Brandon Inge. Shortly after her Brandon’s second birthday, the long-time Tiger was traded away to Oakland. From there he had a shaky career and was then traded again. I lost track of him after that, but according to my friend he was demoted to his last team’s AA and AAA leagues and rarely heard from again, especially since he wasn’t in Michigan anymore.beck-articlelarge
  5. Your child might not even like the sport your player plays, let alone the player. Perhaps they like a different player on that team, or even a different team. Obviously I love baseball, and so Avila’s name is legitimately something near and dear to my heart. And of course Avila claims to like basketball. No matter how excited I try to get her about baseball, she would rather have me sign her up to play basketball. We are going to go to a Tigers versus White Sox game this summer as a family, but she’d probably rather go see the Pistons. Which, yeah, she’s gonna have to talk Matt into because I just can’t sit through a basketball game. Well, anyway, the point is that right now, she really doesn’t care about baseball or Alex Avila. She knows she’s named after a baseball player though, so there’s that at least I suppose.panoramica_de_avila_con_la_muralla_2null
  6. People may not “get” that it’s an athlete name. We are Detroit Tigers fans that live in Michigan. I’m seriously surprised as to how many people DO NOT “get” Avila’s name, or how to pronounce it, or anything. There have been two people in her lifetime that have pronounced it correctly on the first try: A social worker from the Autism Center that is a huge baseball fan, and actor Stephen Amell during our Chicago adventure (whom is also a huge baseball fan). Though, most often if people are commenting on her name, it’s to tell me how beautiful/unique/interesting it is and how did I ever find something so pretty. My response, “Uh, I was watching a baseball game, Alex Avila came up to bat, and I had just said I wanted a name that started and ended with ‘A.’ Then he hit a home run. Boom. Avila.”divided
  7. They’ll end up marrying or befriending someone that is named or a fan of a rival team/player. My luck Avila is going to end up marrying someone/having a forever friend named Jeter. Just because I “jinxed” us in that sense. Perhaps it’d be like my friend’s situation; she’s a Jewish Red Sox fan and she married a Christian Yankees fan. When they had their kids, they “compromised” and are raising them as Jewish Yankees fans… Which, I told her she got a bad deal on the baseball part and her husband should totally hand over all naming rights to her or something. I would have busted out some Bibles or something because I couldn’t ever raise my kids as Yankees fans. So I applaud all of you that do. Then again, there’s always the possibility of marrying/friending a family that’s really into a different sport. Maybe they’ll be more into football, or hockey, or God forbid, basketball. 😉

So, those are a few things to think about if you’re considering an athlete-inspired  name. I know I only have experience with baseball specifically, but I’d imagine it holds true for any sport. Obviously, I think you should essentially do whatever you think is best for your child, and your family, but I thought those were a few interesting things I’ve found so far on my Avila’s journey.