Ila at 7

Here’s what I wrote about Ila last year when she turned 6.

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Ila has blossomed with the whole school experience.  She was worried that she wouldn’t love first grade as much as she loved Kindergarten, but she has found that first grade is great too!  I don’t have as many opportunities to volunteer in her class this year, but everytime I come in she is always thrilled to see me.  She eagerly anticipates the days I am coming in and she jumps up and hugs me as soon as I enter the classroom.

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Ila is good at making friends.  Maybe it’s because I have two kids on the autism spectrum, but it surprises me to see how easily and naturally she interacts with her peers.  She makes positive comments about the things they say and responds to everything with enthusiasm and kindness.  She still has a generally shy and sensitive personality at times as well.

Ila loves to read and has jumped several reading levels this year.  She continues to gain confidence in her skills.  Last week she was super excited about a book she checked out at the school library that was a chapter book with no pictures.  She talked about it so much that we took a trip to the library to find a similar one for her to read at home.  It turns out she’s attempting to read a book for 6th-8th graders!  It really is too tough for her to read so I worry that it will make her discouraged, but a week later she’s still slowly working through the book and claims to love it.  Her teacher invited her to bring a favorite book to class to have her mom read to the class on her birthday.  Ila had a hard time deciding on just one, so we brought about 10 books in (we previewed them all to the class, but just read two).

Ila does well in all her school subjects.  Her last report card was marked as “exceeds expectations” in all categories except one (she’s a little weak on letter formation).  She’s my most diligent homework child.  She brings home a packet of homework every Friday and usually completes the entire packet as soon as she gets home.

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Ila started piano last month.  She loves it so far and is usually eager to practice each day.  She’s still new enough in her skills that I go with her and help her through each practice session.

Ila LOVES animals.  I can probably attribute at least some of her love of animals to her big sister, Charlotte.  Charlotte leads all the girls in fawning over every animal they see.  Nicole introduced all the girls to a game called “Animal Jam” on the computer that they all obsess over.

Ila is still very limited in what she’ll eat, but we have continued to make her try a bite of dinner every night.  She still often complains at length about the smallest of bites, but this practice has introduced her to a lot more foods, a few of which she has actually asked for more bites of.  Her favorite food is pepperoni pizza which is rather shocking because a little over a year ago she would cry every time we had pizza.  Before being forced to eat a bite of pizza, she had never eaten cheese, pizza crust, pepperoni or anything with tomatoes in it.

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Ila is my earliest riser.  She is always the first one to wake up all on her own.  Isaac leaves for school about an hour and a half before the other children, but Ila usually gets up at about the same time as Isaac every morning.

Ila adores all her siblings.  She is a great sister to everyone.  In the days leading up to Zach and I going on a trip together, Ila fretted repeatedly about being separated from Thomas for a few days.  Thomas didn’t last a full day without begging for Ila to come over to play. (We split the children up between their grandparents who live about a mile away from each other).  My mom reported that Thomas was so happy to see his sister and she was impressed with how well they played together.  I’ve been rather fortunate on that front because my children genuinely love each other and rarely ever fight.

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Ila loves to hear stories about her birth and when she was little and she loves stories about her siblings’ births and childhoods.  She also loves to hear about her namesake (my grandmother Ila O’Bryant).  Last night I had this dream that my grandmother and I were hugging Ila together cheek to cheek and it was so real that I remember the feel of my grandmother’s cheek next to mine.  I don’t know why I share this here, but I’ve always been grateful that we choose to name her Ila and that I can keep my connection to my beloved grandmother alive through my daughter.

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