Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

1. We're on VaCaTiOn! It is Ryan's and Kailyn's Spring Break so we headed to Myrtle Beach. Weather is absolutely nasty, icky, blah, BOO. As bummed as I am, it's still nice to walk outside and hear/see the ocean (even at 40 degrees outside) and even nicer to have family time with no schedules, appointments, or practices.

2. Today is supposed to be a high of 61 and completely sunny. Can you say BEACHBOUND?!? I need my sunshine fix.

3. and even with the cold rainy weather, Kailyn and her daddy are such T-R-O-O-P-E-R-S. They are not letting this weather ruin their vacation. My daughter is a fish and weather is not a factor. On a 40 degree night she "dared" her daddy to jump in the outside pool, which of course he couldn't back down on, and she was right in after him. Insane.

4. I'm upset with myself that I didn't plan better and get Aiden the aLOKSAK for the beach. I've read on many people's blogs, like here, and here, and here, who have used this so their child can still wear their CIs to hear while they swim. It scares me. In the same breath, I want Aiden to HEAR and learn the sounds of the beach as he plays in the sand and runs through the waves. Next time for sure.

5. Simply Amazing Moment #1114 - Aiden's daddy turned the radio on and as he turned it up, Aiden, smiling that lovely shit eating grin he has, covered his ears and yelled, "IT'S TOO LOUD!" LaUgH aNd LoVe!

6. I luuuuvvv my coffee in the morning. I love it even more when everyone is still sleeping and it's only me, my coffee, and my computer. Complete peace.of.mind. Now if I can just figure out how to bottle up the sounds and view of the ocean and take it home with me.

7. My mother-in-law is with us on our trip. She is AMAZING and what I consider the ultimate mother-in-law. I'm lucky to have her. Selfishly, it's fun having her to ourselves (remember, my husband has 11 siblings which = 20 grandkids).

8. As I watched the news last night I was saddened by the fact that the LAST thing they showed was one of our U.S. soldiers, returning home from the Middle East, surprising his five year old daughter whom had no clue her daddy was about to walk through the doors. These moments are priceless. Why wait to the end? Don't they know that by the end people have already changed the channel sick of hearing all the "bad"? I think we need a channel dedicated to nothing but "happy" news. Who's with me?

9. I really enjoyed THIS book. I see they're coming out with the movie yet have no intentions of seeing it. The book was so good and I'm scared the film will ruin it for me.

10. I love everything about vacations - spending good quality time together, exploring new areas, playing games, laughing, building our relationships and FoReVeR memories - TOGETHER, as a family - with NO distractions. Pure bliss.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Two Years Hearing

I will never forget the day I held Aiden in my arms, just hours after his "profound hearing loss" diagnosis. I muted the television as I called for Ryan. As I waited, I sat in complete silence admiring my sleeping baby, then looked back up at the tv. I will NEVER forget that moment. My stomach completely churned as I sat there and watched the people on tv, their lips moving, - I could tell they were arguing, things happening all around, yet I heard nothing. It was then that Aiden's reality hit me - his world was SILENT. My heart raced, dropped into my stomach. I felt sick, like I was punched in the stomach. I couldn't fathom my son in a silent world. My mind raced - he may never hear my voice, and just the same, I may never hear his. This couldn't be happening.


Today, as I look back over Aiden's hearing journey, I take a long deep breath. It's been a long haul, some parts of the journey smooth, other parts bumpy, we've hit dead ends and forks in the road with no clue which way to go. It's been full of running to nonstop appointments; understanding his equipment, mapping sessions and FM systems; attending seminar after seminar learning all about Aiden's world and HOW to speak to our son in order to create a language rich environment; then add in daily Ling checks and learning to listen sounds and experience books. Overwhelming to say the least.

Most of all though it's keeping HOPE and FAITH, knowing our son will hear and speak, that he will attend mainstream school and be as much a part of this hearing world as the rest of his hearing family. We know the "equipment" alone will not accomplish this - it is up to us, his family, to TEACH him, to guide him, not only to listen and to speak, but to cherish the beautiful sounds our world has to offer.

and that's what we've been doing, as his family, for the past three years - taking each day as a new day, step by step, showing Aiden the way.

So today, when I think back over the past three years (two years hearing), I cry. Not tears of sadness, but tears of complete and pure happiness. This journey is not a sad one - it is a JOYOUS one - as we watch Aiden discover new sounds, speak new words, SING, and DANCE. This journey is not an easy one - it is a lot of hard work - but every ounce of effort, every sleepless night, every bit of research to find new language and listening activities is worth hearing that sweet little voice. This journey is not a sprint - it is a marathon - and we still have a long ways to go. This journey is - SIMPLY AMAZING - as we watch Aiden do things every.single.day that at one time, we thought he'd never do.

In honor of Aiden's two years hearing (which was actually March 9th -just catching up), I've attached some of my personal favorite SIMPLY.AMAZING Aiden moments. Smile with me as you watch just how far our boy has come in his hearing journey. We are so proud of you Aiden Robert!

Aiden's First CI Activation

Four Months Hearing - Aiden's First Word

10 Months Hearing - Face Parts

13 Months Hearing - "Ryan"

18 Months Hearing - "It's Stuck"

22 Months Hearing - "How are you?"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Choosing a Preschool

I started looking into preschools for Aiden as soon as we moved to Ohio. Even though Aiden wasn't even two at the time, I wanted to get a good feel for all of our choices. As an AV (auditory-verbal) family, we were hoping that Aiden would be ready for a mainstream preschool since we started this journey, but looking at all our options, decided Aiden would do best in an oral deaf preschool setting for many reasons, the main one being it is what we feel is right for him at this time in his journey AND what is right for our family.

We had many options to look at, from our local district's preschool to the Ohio School for the Deaf (OSD) to a near-by school district's deaf ed program to an auditory oral school to a program that offers both oral and total communication options. We are lucky to have so many options, but the hard part was choosing which one was right for Aiden.

I toured three of these programs, and although I still want to tour OSD (for the experience), it was not an option we considered since they are voices off for a good part of the day (although I have heard they are starting an oral program). We are a completely oral family (with use of basic signs when his CIs are off), and therefore were obviously looking for an oral deaf program.

When looking at preschools, some things I considered were: the educator's expertise/understanding in teaching children with hearing loss, teacher:student ratio, days/hours per week, curriculum, available support services within program, physical and learning environments of classroom, and of course, modes of communication used.

I found THIS checklist very helpful and brought a copy along with me to each preschool visited.

I won't go over what the other preschools offered in our area, but I will say we didn't choose the preschool where 1) one of the teacher aids said to me, "Oh, he has those "ochlear things", 2) I had a hard time understanding one of the teachers, and 3) when I asked if the speech therapist was trained to work with deaf kids and would work with Aiden on language, was told, "Ya, speech, language, same thing." This is why preschool visits are so important.

Here is what the preschool we did choose for Aiden offers:
  • Oral program, with classes five days a week from 9:00 to 3:00 (or parent can choose 1/2 day and pick up before nap. He goes half a day now, but next fall he will go all day, and while I still think this is quite a long day for a three year old, the last couple hours are spent napping/resting, which he doesn't do at home, so I figured he'd be a "gentler bear" at home if he gets rest time at school PLUS then the bus will bring him home!)
  • Student:Teacher ratio - Preschool One - between 6-8 students with hearing loss to one teacher and full time aid (Aiden's class also has one typical hearing peer); Preschool Two - 8 students with hearing loss and 2 hearing peers to one teacher and one full-time aid.
  • All teachers have masters of education degree with concentration in deaf education
  • Auditory training and Ling checks done everyday with classroom teacher, individual speech therapy provided twice a week outside of classroom.
  • Onsite PT and OT (if evaluation determines these services are needed, they are written into the IEP - which Aiden did qualify for PT and will receive 90 minutes a month)
  • Full time audiologist with on-site sound booth
  • Morning Message literacy program - a good basic start to literacy focusing on the weather, the calendar, and a message from the teacher to the students. They identify upper vs lower case letters, punctuation, words vs letters during this time. The class also has a daily math or science lesson, story time, and incorporate a particular theme throughout the day (right now their theme is Springtime).
  • Specials are also included such as art, music, library time, cooking, and pe.
  • Playground is CI friendly - foam instead of mulch, metal slide instead of plastic
We will also continue to see our wonderful AV therapist on our own two times a month and if needed, add back in our speech therapist from our EI days.

I think the most important thing when choosing a setting for any child is feeling it's the right fit and we felt in our hearts this was the right placement for Aiden. It has so much to offer and we're so excited to watch Aiden soar through these next steps in his hearing journey.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

First Day of Preschool

(the preschool Aiden attends has completely oral and total communication classes - I LOVE this sign when your first walk into the school)

WOW. This has been an emotional couple of weeks:
  • Aiden's last week home with me was last week (he is the only one of my children I've stayed home with so it's been hard to let go)
  • Aiden's last therapies with all his wonderful ECI therapists (throughout last week)
  • Aiden's second hearing birthday was last Friday (3/11)
  • Aiden started preschool yesterday (3/14)
  • Aiden's birthday is this Thursday (3/17) - our lil' Irish man is turning THREE! (Speaking of which, will be a GREAT day to unwind from all this and enjoy the parade and green beer with my husband! Oh, and have some birthday cake too! : )
With everything going on, I haven't had time to blog, but guess I'll have some time on my hands now that Aiden's in school half the day. My sidekick is going from toddler to little boy way too fast!

The hardest part is he has to get up so early to catch the bus yet doesn't like to go to sleep at night (last night he was playing in his room until TEN!) At first I said no bus, but my husband put it in perspective for me how far we live from the school, how much gas prices are rising, how I have two other kids to get off to school, how cool Aiden will think it is to ride the bus ... okay, so he won and I agreed to let Aiden ride the bus. I rode with him the first day to make sure it was all good though. and he did GREAT. He LOVED it and it truly does make life easier.

As I walked down to get him from his classroom yesterday afternoon (he will only go half days the rest of this year and then start full days next year), I saw they were still in music class, so of course I stood and watched. There was my Aiden, right in the middle of all the kids (they attend specials - art, music, cooking, library - with all the preschool 1 classes) DANCING with a BIG OL' SMILE on his face. My heart melted. His teacher said there were no tears all day, he got right in with all the kids, and had a GREAT first day! He ran right up to me with a big hug when he saw me, but as I gathered his things, he tried to run back into the music room to be with his classmates! Priceless.

When we got home, I was cleaning out his backpack and came across a picture of a Shamrock he colored. At the top the word "Shamrock" was written and on the bottom the teacher wrote his name. I was complementing him on his coloring when he took it from me, pointed to his name at the bottom, "A-i-d-e-n, Aiden!" (he's been doing this for awhile at home), but then he pointed to the picture and exclaimed, "Shamock!" and proceeded to point to the word at the top, "s-h-a-m-r-o-c-k, shamock!" and smiled ear to ear!

This morning when I got Aiden up, I told him it was time to get ready for school and he said to me, "unchbox and bahpah." He was ready. After breakfast, Aiden eagerly waited for the bus and no tears were shed as I walked off after getting him all buckled in.

Yes, I believe he's going to do just fine. And honestly, this time to myself seems like a pretty good deal!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wednesday Workout - Helping with Housework

I know ... a day late. It's been one of those weeks!

Since I stay home, I have the "luxury" (ya, whatever) of doing housework every.single.day (not that working moms don't have this "luxury", my "luxury" is being able to do it throughout the day and not at 10pm at night like I did when I worked full time). Anyway, Aiden "helping" (I use this term very lightly) with housework has been one of the best language builders, even if it takes me three times as long to get anything done.

Laundry - Not only is laundry a good sorting activity, it has helped teach him articles of clothing, the difference between a wash machine and a dryer, colors ("put all the BLACK clothes in this pile"), possessives (daddy's shirt, Ryan's pants), verbs (washing, drying, pouring, taking out, putting into, folding, putting away), adjectives (wet, dry, dirty, clean, dark, light, big, small). His favorite parts are throwing the clothes in the wash machine and destroying the laundry basket full of clean folded clothes ... ya, this part's not so fun and is one way he learned the words "not nice" and "angry" too.

Aiden "helping" with the laundry.

Dishes - Aiden LOVES to help put away the clean dishes from the dishwasher. Again, not only has this has been an excellent way to teach him the names of all the dishes but also opposites such as small vs big, clean vs dirty, empty vs full. While I am making dinner, I can ask Aiden for a BIG spoon, and he knows exactly which one to give me. He also loves to help set the table, again teaching all the silverware names and short sentences (daddy gets a big fork, Ryan needs two napkins etc).

Cleaning his toy room - I have to admit, he's not much of a destroyer. He likes things in the right place and tidy. BUT, that doesn't mean he's never destroyed. At times he'll go in there and empty every single toy bin for no apparent reason what-so-ever except "just because". I've actually done it a couple times myself with him just as a learning opportunity. This is a GREAT way to teach SORTING into CATEGORIES - animals (and you can get even more specific with jungle vs zoo vs pets vs farm), vehicles, music, food, balls, building blocks, baby items, furniture, etc. An idea I learned from the John Tracy Clinic Distance Education Courses is to label the toy bins with a card showing pictures from that specific category.

It's been much worse.

Grocery Shopping - This truly is the best therapy ever. In fact, I always say our trips to Costco are well warranted, killing three birds with one stone by getting shopping done, a therapy session in, and the best part, LUNCH! Truly though, grocery shopping, as much as a hassle it is with a toddler, is a wonderful therapy session all in itself. This is how Aiden has learned the difference between fruits and veggies, what each fruit or veggie is (he can finally tell the difference between a tomato and an apple) plus much more ... put in, take out, cash register, money, receipt, push the cart, pay the clerk, STOP throwing it OUT of the cart, that's not nice, SIT DOWN, mom's getting angry, and on and on (okay, so great therapy session for toddler, but after all is said and done, mom deserves a day at the spa).

Then of course there are the little things like helping to empty bathroom trashcans (aka, mom picks up a trail of trash from bathroom to kitchen), dust, sweep (Aiden LOVES to sweep - inside the cat's litter box), feed the cats/dog (then pick up all the spilled food) ... all of which is filled with language opportunities AND the look on THEIR face (not yours) when they know they've "helped" accomplish a task is truly priceless all in itself.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ten on Tuesday (a day late)

1. One of my newest favorite pics - I am in LOVE with those baby blues. My dad, who was a die hard Michigan fan, would cringe though seeing his grandson in an Ohio State hat.

2. Aiden got his baby blues from both his grandpas. I've been missing my dad "extra" this week. I've never lost someone so close to me and when you do, it gives a whole new perspective of life. I miss our conversations the most - even if he drove me crazy with his million phone calls a day - not a doubt in my mind though how much he loved us. He'd be so proud Aiden, even in that Ohio State hat.

3. Aiden starts school in five days counting. I started Monday and Tuesday off crying just thinking about it. By the end of the day yesterday, I was counting the hours ... the boy was out of control. Needless to say, no tears this morning, OK, just a few. What is up with my emotions this week!?!?

4. With Aiden starting school, I dedicated this week as a week of fun. No ABCs and 123s. We still have formal therapies, but I decided no at-home therapy. Our time together is going to be spent at fun places with friends, building towers, and I think we'll check out THIS place too.

5. My list of things to do during my ALONE TIME (don't those two words have a beautiful sound to them), is growing - paint the kid's bathroom, start a morning workout program (ideally a cheap, local yoga class), organize the basement, learn the insides and out my newest purchase (a digital SLR camera with hopes to achieve a goal I've always wanted to pursue, but have always put off) ... first though, I think this mama deserves a spa day!

6. Taxes. I procrastinate them EVERY.SINGLE.YEAR. I don't know why, we've never had to pay, and all I have to do is organize our information. Why on earth would someone procrastinate doing something that's going to put money back in their pocket? Drives me insane. Guess I should add that to my to do list above ... right after the spa day.

7. I miss my mom and grandparents. TERRIBLY. (I think it has a lot to do with #2 above). If we didn't have a vacation already booked for Spring Break, we'd road trip it to Wisconsin. As soon as the kids are done with school though, we're there and I cannot wait. Everything about Wisconsin makes my heart warm and my stomach giddy - it's part of my definition for L-O-V-E.

8. Aiden's articulation is really coming along. He's starting to firm up some words, for example, mommy. It started as a good "mama", then went to "mahee", then to "mannee", and just recently I'm hearing a perfect "MOMMY" and it makes my heart melt. Yesterday, I sneezed and he said, "Es you mommy", my eyes watered - just one of those moments (and see #3 above).

9.We took a roadtrip to Cleveland this past weekend to celebrate my nephew's Confirmation, my husband's and SIL's birthday, and Aiden had an audiology appointment . Fun times as always. I need to remember though, that being out until 3am doesn't work for me anymore.

10. Aiden's audiology appt. went well. He is finally starting to somewhat participate in the booth again. Stickers are key. His audiogram was nice - between 20 to 30 db across all frequencies, so they fine tuned him and gave us a new program to work with. I'm sure it was better though because throughout the testing we had to keep telling him, "Shhh, listen", because he wouldn't quit jibber jabbering or humming and singing. Seriously, how can I get upset at my deaf child who won't quit talking or singing long enough to get a good audiogram!?! LOVE IT!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Just Because ...

He's SO dang cute!
I'm his mom - I'm supposed to say that : )

AND I was so busy yesterday hanging out with Aiden AND his daddy,
who took the afternoon off to spend with us,
that I forgot to post my Wednesday Workout!

So thought I'd share the TRUE Wednesday Workout.
(sorry about image quality ... it's what you get with an iPhone and no flash).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

1. I started my morning advocating for my daughter for the umpteenth time at a meeting with the district preschool/elementary psychologist (who looks like he just graduated from college and has NO kids), her very accommodating teacher, and team. As the principal shared the two page letter I wrote, he called me "very organized and detail oriented". I walked out of there like Ray's wife from Field of Dreams after confronting town hall and winning. Testing will start today.

2. Potty training. Not going well. Four days and nothing, not even a tinkle in the pot. So thankful though for the multiple pairs of Hanes sweat pants my mom bought Aiden - easy to pull up and down, wash well, and very absorbent. Perfect for potty training.

3. Everyone's finally healthy in the family - except mom. I guess I'm glad it saved me for last. It's hard to take care of a sick family when you're sick yourself. Between coughing and Aiden still not sleeping through the night (like since he was born), I got little to no sleep last night. If I could only call in sick and lay on the couch all day finishing this great book I'm reading.

4. Ryan is shaving. Not like once every couple weeks, but like a couple times a week. Seriously. It's more than puberty stubble, and since he has such dark hair you notice every little bit. If it were up to him, he'd let it keep growing. He says he's going to grow a beard. Gotta laugh at that, but he probably could. He's 14. *deep breath* My baby is growing up way too fast.

5. Kailyn has decided she wants to be, as she calls it, "a sports chic". This is my very girly-girl talking. When she was younger, we tried t-ball (in which she'd walk clear across the field to go "talk" to a boy on her team in the middle of a play), we tried soccer (in which she said, "there's so much running, and I sweat!"). So what's changed? The CUTE BOY at school plays soccer at recess, so she's joined in and has decided she LOVES soccer and has begged us to sign her up. So we did. I hope she continues with it, it'd be so good for her all around.

6. Where did February go? I can't believe it's already March. March has many celebratory dates for our family - hubby's birthday, Aiden's hearing birthday, Aiden's birthday AND St. Patty's Day, four extended family birthdays, Spring Break, a Confirmation, and something I'm sure I'm forgetting. Guess I need to start a spending budget just for this month.

7. Speaking of birthdays, I cannot believe Aiden is almost three! In 8 days we'll celebrate his SECOND HEARING BIRTHDAY, in 13 days he'll start PRESCHOOL, then in 16 days he'll be THREE! Lots of happy tears anticipated for this month.

8. Spring is almost here and my fever is burning hot. I'd really like to plant a garden this year. I never have before and have no clue where to start. I'm becoming VERY picky with what fruits and veggies I buy at the store and feel like everything I look at is grown outside the US. How can that be fresh and I can only imagine what is keeping them looking so. Plus, there's nothing better than homegrown veggies! Suggestions on where to start?

9. Now that we only have two weeks left with our county therapists, Aiden has decided he's finally going to show them what he has to say. For the last few months he has been completely silent during therapies, listening to what they ask, but not responding verbally at all. The last two sessions, he's been showing them he can speak. Of course he is, he knows he's on his way out, and he's going to leave them wanting more. That's my boy.

10. During our "fun work" time yesterday, Aiden and I were playing a game with the alphabet flash cards practicing the letters and their sounds. Out of the blue he quit TELLING me what the pictures on the cards were, and instead started SIGNING them, watching my reaction every time he did a sign. I gave him none. I was actually shocked how many signs he knows because we sign very little with him. Oh the power of Signing Time AND my two year old. Little stinker.