Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 in Review


What a difference a year makes!  

Last December, Taylor had been hearing only 3 months and her main word at that point was "Mama."

This December, I find it hard to list a word that she couldn't say.  Some of her accomplishments over the past year include:
  • Can verbally identify the names of the basic colors and shapes 
  • Can name most common animals and knows the sounds they make
  • Knows the names of our family members and friends
  • Asks questions, such as "What are you doing?" " Where did Daddy go?" "Where is my Jacket?"  
  • Requests items such as Barbie Movie, Hot dog, Purple Tutu and Cookies.
  • Uses adjectives regularly in her speech (empty pocket, scary movie, mean car, funny Daddy)
  • Tries to count on her own from 1 - 10 (the order is unpredictable at this point)
  • Will say "I'm sorry, Are you okay?"
  • Learned the language of rural Kansas, i.e. Combines, Tractors, Cows, Horses, Boots, etc. 
  • Developed an appreciation for music, including lots of singing and dancing.
The list goes on and on. Here are a few recent videos of Taylor.

Our Little Dancer (October 2010)
video

Repeating (and Anticipating) Ling Sounds in Therapy (October 2010)

video


As I reflect on the past year, I am thankful for the therapy and services that we have received from Hearts for Hearing in Oklahoma City and Via Christi in Wichita.  I am thankful for flexible work schedules for both my husband and I that have allowed us to get Taylor to weekly appointments for the past year.  I have greatly appreciated my husband's parents and sisters, who have helped us with babysitting, meals, and a place to stay during our trips to Oklahoma City.  The Blog Comments along the way have been a welcome surprise!  I'm so glad that Derek has been a good sport in this past year, helping Taylor to learn new words, helping to keep track of the "ears" when they fall off, and celebrating with us by announcing "Mom, Taylor Said XXX!"  I'm grateful to have a husband (10 Years Today!) who was willing to sacrifice, work and worry along with me.  And most of all, I'm thankful for Taylor, whose wonderful enthusiasm and attitude have allowed her to excel with language in spite of the challenge of deafness.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Taylor is a Tough One! Subtitle: Don't Mess with My Brother


Ahhhh, immunizations.  Is there anything less enjoyable for a parent?  For both kids, I've taken them to the vast majority of their immunizations.  Dad's turn!  This past week, Jon had an afternoon open and decided to take the kids in for their flu shots.  Derek also needed another immunization, for a total of two shots. 

Jon takes the kids in together to the shot room.  Three nurses come in.  Two have syringes; the other is there to help hold Derek.   Jon and that nurse are holding Derek down, with him screaming his little head off.  Right as the other nurses try to give Derek his shots, Taylor decides to take action.  She screams "NOOOOO" and rips one of the syringes out of his leg.  Derek got a 3-inch scratch on his leg and we're not entirely sure if he got the flu shot as intended.  Jon had to go after Taylor and attempt to confiscate the syringe and needle, which she somehow bent and did not want to relinquish.  Needless to say, Taylor had to get her own flu shot after that and I'm sure she didn't go quietly.  Derek was too busy nursing his own wounds to attempt to rescue her.  Dad was a little frazzled when he called me to tell me the story. 

Aren't siblings the best?  I love that Taylor is protective of Derek.  Don't worry, Derek - your little sister will defend you.  I have 3 sisters, and I remember more than a few times that I took on a battle on their behalf.  We hope someday that Derek will have it in him to help out when the other kids notice Taylor's "ears"... although I'm quite sure that she'll be taking care of herself.  My little two-year-old tried to take on 4 adults to defend her brother.  What a story! 


Mom's Turn - Traveblog

Well, I've taken quite a vacation from this...  Life has been crazy for us lately, and though I've had many blog ideas in the past month, I haven't been able to get them posted.  I have been traveling extensively for work, the only upside from that being that I've accumulated mileage status on Delta such that I'm getting free upgrades.  Sweet!  Warm towel?  Yes, please...  Would you like something to drink? Yes, please...  Another bag of peanuts?  Sure.

Last April (2009), we began having issues with a particular customer in Miami, Florida.  Since then, my business travel has really picked up.  Here is a list of the travel that I've had since April 2009.  A few of these are personal; most of them are business... and interspersed with these trips are the weekly trips to Oklahoma City for Taylor's therapy. 

Miami
Atlanta
Columbia, SC
Cary, NC
Miami
Phoenix
Orlando
Miami
Las Vegas
Branson
Miami
Denver
Orlando
Miami
Cary, NC
Jacksonville, FL
Kansas City
Atlanta
Birmingham, AL
Chicago
Sacramento, San Francisco, Napa, Carmel
Branson
Tampa
Atlanta
Dallas
Jacksonville
Chicago
Milwaukee
Las Vegas
Milwaukee
Atlanta
Branson
Miami (4 times in 5 weeks)
Canon City & Breckenridge
And this week, I am headed to Detroit. 

Good thing I broke down and ordered a Samsonite Spinner.  I have calluses on my hands from dragging my suitcase and laptop bag through the airport. 
Samsonite xSpace 21.5" Expandable Spinner Carry-On in MARS Red

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lumps around the CI

Last Thursday, I took Taylor back to the Hough Ear Institute.  We always try to watch the implant area closely for redness or irritation.  Occasionally, infections can occur.  Taylor's dad noticed when putting on the coil that there was a lump right below the CI on her head.  It felt like a cyst.  We were able to get right in with our surgeon and had him take a look.  He found two lumps, and started asking me about bug bites, etc. because he thought it was swollen lymph nodes associated with a skin irritation.  I remembered that while we were on vacation, my mom had put Taylor's hair in pigtails and we found a little seed tick on the back on her head near that area.  It was from that tick!!  I hate ticks but what a celebration to know that all is well with the cochlear implant.  :)

One Year Earniversary and Conversations with Taylor

We recently passed the one-year mark since Taylor's bilateral CI activation.  What a year it was!  We made at least 40 trips to Oklahoma City for therapy and mapping appointments.  That would be about 320 hours in the car and 19,000 miles on the road.  I can pour chocolate milk in a sippy cup and hand out snacks while driving on the Interstate...  and I can really extend an arm to save the CI's from being dismantled when boredom takes over.  I think I've put off writing this blog because the one year anniversary of CI's requires a special note and brings back a lot of emotion from that time one year ago when I wrote "Just as You Are...", hoping for so much, but content with my wonderful little deaf girl as well.  

Taylor's expressive language is exploding right now, as Derek's did after his second birthday.  She is getting pronouns - will look at a picture of herself and say "me."  She will hold the camera and say "cheese!"  I can get her to "parrot" me. For example, when reading an alphabet book recently, I would say a letter and she would attempt to repeat it before I went on to read the dialogue associated with that letter.  She can point out almost all colors when we name them, and can say most of them herself.  A recent shopping trip went like this -- "Look! Yellow!  Blue, Green, Red, White."  She identified the colors to me as she found them.  She will ask for a bath before bedtime and a hot dog if she is hungry (her favorite food).  She is also into counting still, and now she makes it to about six.

We can have conversations, which is really fun.  On Saturday, I asked her if she wanted to watch a movie. She said "Tutu movie" --translation - her ballerina movie.  I looked in the cabinet and it wasn't there so I asked her where it was.  She said, "Right here, Come on" and then walked into my bedroom to show me it.

  Here are some recent vacation pictures.
Swimmers!
Helping Daddy Drive the Boat
A good place for a nap

I love to Swing!
Derek Loves to Swing too!
Check out my Barbie fishing pole.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Confidence!






What's it mean to be a good Mom?  Or a good Dad?  What determines "Success"?  One of my most important parenting goals is to raise children who can go out into the world with confidence.

I had a great teacher of confidence and self-esteem - my Mom.  From my earliest memories, I remember that if I ever expressed any self-doubt, my Mom would reassure me and not let me put myself down.  As we drove down the road when I was 3 or so, I was reading the Speed Limit signs, Stop signs, etc.  My mom said something about me "reading".  I said "I can't read!"  She said, "Yes, you can!  You're reading the signs right now!" And I realized, sure enough, Mom was right.  That was the beginning of how my Mom taught me to have confidence.  From water-skiing at age seven, to entering spelling bees and track meets, taking gymnastics, and playing softball, any time I thought I couldn't do it, wasn't good enough, or that someone else was better, my mom would let me know that I could do anything I wanted to.  Somewhere along the way, it worked.  My sisters and I are all doing pretty well now.  Thanks MOM!

Taylor swimming at Papa and Grandma's House
As a parent, any time your child faces a challenge, you have a choice to make...
do you coddle them in case they fail and get hurt?  or do you encourage them and let them know that you have confidence in them to be successful?






Derek swimming at Papa and Grandma's house

In early life, these are usually physical challenges...  the first steps, first climbs, sitting in a big chair rather than the high chair, going down stairs, riding a tricycle, swimming, riding a bicycle with training wheels, doing a somersault.  Every single one of these is an opportunity to instill confidence in your child.  Mastering physical challenges in early childhood helps a child gain self-esteem that will translate across all of life's greater challenges.
Derek on the trampoline
Taylor at swimming lessons, June 2010
Derek hanging out on Papa's Ranger

Derek & Taylor in the airplane to Taylor's therapy appt


Taylor doing the Trampoline Bungee at A Grape Event, Hearts for Hearing fundraiser at Plymouth Valley Cellars


Little Miss Manners


Taylor's surgery was one year ago this week.  That was the scariest, most exciting day in my life.  If it's possible to feel a mix of accomplishment, dread, worry, elation, agony, and anticipation, all rolled up into one big ball of nerves, that was surgery day for me.  Taylor's Dad, on the other hand, was pretty calm, all things considered.  He does surgery for his profession, so it wasn't as intimidating for him as it was for me.

Some friends of ours have a surgery day coming up soon for their little guy.  They came to visit us recently and we tried to prepare them and reassure them of the good things in store for them and their son.  Thinking of how far we have come in this past year brings tears of joy to my eyes.  Sharing Taylor's successes with another family was so wonderful.  If we helped them in any way worry less, hurt less, or know that their son will have an amazing life, then we are thrilled to be able to do that.


These are some of Taylor's recent accomplishments:

Burp, saying "excuse me"  (She must have gotten that from her father.)

Sneeze, babysitter says "bless you", Taylor replies "thank you!"

At a drive-in restaurant, a guy walks by and she says "Who's that?"  followed by "Where's my Hot Dog?"

She is doing lots of requesting, mainly around food.  "Hot dog, apple juice, candy, drink"

Last night, she smelled my glass of wine and said "Mommy juice."  Exactly right and stay away, please!

There are also many questions.  "Where'd Daddy go?"  "Where's Derek"  "What's that?"

I'm waiting for the "Why"'s to begin.  No hurry there.  We're in a stage of "MINE"!  If Derek or any other child touches Taylor's food, toys, chair, shoes, etc. (on down the list), there are a flurry of MINE's that come out of her mouth.  Pretty typical of a 2-year old.

I have to admit that we as parents have been a little softer on Taylor than we were on Derek for that kind of behavior.  Let's face it... if she didn't hear until she was 15 months, we had to give her some catch-up time before we felt like she understood at her appropriate age level what we were saying.  Then, we went through a period of feeling glad she could say anything, even if it was "No" and "Mine" over and over again.   Now, Taylor Kay, I have to warn you -- Mommy and Daddy know you know what we're saying and and we are going to be tough critics from now on!!   Love, Your MOM and DAD (not softies)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer Fun

Summer has been a busy time at our house! It is just flying by.


We got the rechargeable battery packs for Taylor’s Nucleus 5 processors. They are the exact same size as the regular battery packs, so – good news – all of the decorative covers and headbands still fit with them. Saturday was the best day! We got to let Taylor go swimming/splashing in a small pool for hours and hours with our neighbor’s grandkids, with her ears on! No problem, no (well, minimal) worries. With the new rechargeable batteries, they are approved to be water-submersible. At this point, Taylor doesn’t go under water. She runs and splashes around in the pool. Being able to have her “ears” on puts us both more at ease.

We did swimming lessons the week before the 4th of July. Both Derek and Taylor did really well. Derek, at 3.5 years, is swimming around really well with his life jacket on. Taylor, at just over 2, is really brave and will jump off the diving board or into the pool from the side. She has a harder time controlling her swimming movements with only the life jacket on if no one is holding the jacket. But the best part is, they both love swimming and playing in the water.

We went to see my parents for the 4th of July. I have 3 sisters and they were all there with their husbands, kids and Yorkies… we are a Yorkie family. One of my sisters just got a new puppy. Her name is Kona and she is adorable.

Taylor knew she was a “baby” puppy and went easy on her thankfully. Maverick, our Yorkie, usually is getting carted around and chased. He gets away from her more easily than Mikea, our cat. Mikea will amazingly put up with quite a bit of handling from Taylor and Derek.

Taylor keeps adding words, including tractor (followed by Yeah!) and more food words, more often.  i.e.Cookie, Candy, Hot Dog, etc. She is a real eater and gets pretty excited about her meals and snacks.  She also knows her manners and that if she really wants something from Mommy, "Ppppleaase." She's got that one down! 
Taylor has had so many new cool experiences this summer.  She spent the weekend at Papa's farm and got to help feed the cows.  She has ridden in a tractor and a combine.  Loved that.  She has gone to Tanganika wildlife park near Wichita, where she fed lemurs and climbed to (I'm told) the tallest slide ever.  I'm hoping to add some pictures of that soon.  Our family is pretty active and outdoorsy in general, and we seem to never be indoors during the summer.  But when we are, Taylor has mastered riding her tricycle.  It is so cute.  Of course, as with all of her toys, they are old news for big brother Derek until she likes them... then he wants to fight to get them back.  However, with all of this outdoor fun, maybe we should be reading more with Taylor...  but I know that all of the outdoor experiences -- watering flowers/spraying our dog Maverick, ant-stomping, flower picking -- create learning opportunities as well.  As always, we are thankful to have Derek as her big brother and role model.  We hope that she continues to learn from him, just not every little thing he does.  You'll see what I mean....

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rechargeables! Yahoo!

So, big news!  I found out that the Nucleus 5 rechargeable battery packs have been approved by the FDA...  last week.  They are approved to be water-submersible.  Cochlear should start sending them out soon!  Just in time for swimming season --- nah, probably not, but one can hope. 

Speaking of swimming, Taylor is becoming more of a swimmer.  She is in swimming lessons this week.  She really likes playing in the water, but it is going to be a challenge to help her learn how to swim until she can wear her ears in the water.  She is sooooo observant though - she already does a pretty good job of moving herself around wearing her infant life jacket.  Last weekend, we swam all weekend in the grandparents' pool.  She got a lot of practice.

Taylor had her 4th mapping appointment last Thursday.  It went really well.  The audiologist was able to map 7 electrodes on the right side and 5 electrodes on the left, interpolating to the other electrodes (there are 22 on each side.)  After her mapping, we went in the soundbooth.  Taylor was able to respond to sounds at 10 dB.  A normal hearing person begins to hear sound between 0 and 20 dB.  From a noise level perspective, she can hear very quiet sounds. 

Taylor's latest skill is counting -- sometimes we say "one, two" and she adds the "three." Sometimes she says "one, two, three" with us. When we ask her how old she is, sometimes she says "two" while holding up four fingers. Other times, she says "three!" She just likes saying Three. Usually it's followed by a jump or somersault. One, two, three - Jump! One, two, three - somersault! There's always a lot of physical activity happening in our house.

We have been doing Y week for the last couple of weeks. 
http://www.cochlearamericas.com/PDFs/Speech_Sounds_Y_Semivowel.pdf

I find it interesting that y and qu sounds are both included in the Y week.  Some good ones:  Yum-yum, Vacuum, Tortilla, Quesadilla.  Currently, hot dogs are out of favor and quesadillas are Taylor's current fave.  She even tries to say it.  I'd say she gets the number of syllables right, but that's it. 

She has started saying more words, including Me, Mine, Tay (as she points at herself). One, Two, Three. 
Cookie, Pizza, a lot of these she has been saying for a while.  There is more and more every day.

At every therapy appointment, the therapist goes through the Ling sounds and asks Taylor to let us know if she heard them.  Aa, ee, oo, mm, ss, and sh.
http://www.advancedbionics.com/UserFiles/File/Ling_Six_Sound_Check-6.pdf 
Taylor has started imitating the sounds back to the therapist.  She even covers her mouth to the hide the lip position and movement.  It is too cute!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

W Week and what? So many words...

 We did "W' week for the past two weeks.  It has been fun! 

http://hope.cochlearamericas.com/sites/default/files/Speech_Sounds_W_Semivowel.pdf

Wow!  is a favorite word of Taylor's. 

Some of her new words and phrases are:
Where are you?
Right there. 
Sheena
Come here.
Choo choo train
Love you
What's that?
Candy
Cereal

Did you notice that?  She's adding more verbs!  Yeah! 

We had her second birthday party this past weekend.  It was a wonderful time.  She got a Barbie bike with training wheels, dancing tutu's and outfits, a Bitty Baby American Girl doll, and several other outfits and toys. 



Although she really loves her Bitty Baby, you will see from the following pictures that this birthday was all about Frosting!  I made carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  Taylor tried to eat the frosting off of as many cupcakes as she could get her fingers into.  I also made the famous family chocolate birthday cake, but mixed it up a little bit with a ganache topping.  It was lovely, but entirely too much effort for her when frosting was clearly her favorite.  Next year, it's a can of Betty Crocker cream cheese frosting for Taylor...  the guests will have to fend for themselves!  Or maybe I should admit now that I am a chocolate lover and the chocolate might have been mainly for myself.  :)


Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of when we found out that Taylor was profoundly deaf.  I look back on the past year with amazement of the journey that our family has been on.  From sorrow, grief and guilt to joy, gratitude, and determination, we have experienced it all this year. 

How can you not love this kid?  Streaking around the house naked and busting into a bag of Daylight Donuts, she is so full of life, energy, enthusiasm, intelligence and affection, I am nothing but thankful for getting to be her mom. 
Next word -- DONUTS!

Monday, May 24, 2010

K Week

Taylor is doing really well.  She had a great time with the grandparents.  She is talking more and more.  At 8 months post-activation, her receptive language is solidly in the 18 to 21 months range, with some skills in the 21 to 24 month range.   In terms of speech, she is falling in the 18 to 21 month range.  This is wonderful with only 8.5 months of listening age.

This is the link for last week's G lesson.

http://www.cochlearamericas.com/PDFs/Speech_Sounds_G_Plosive.pdf

For the current week, we are doing K.  Taylor loves kitties!  They are her favorite animal.  We are going to try to focus on helping her learn verbs.  Right now, she uses many nouns, but the only real verb she says is Go.  We are going to try to expand that list, and hopefully using kitties in some role play with help us keep her engaged.


http://www.cochlearamericas.com/PDFs/Speech_Sounds_K_Plosive.pdf

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

G is for Grandparents!

This week, we've been working on G's! Derek and Taylor are staying with two sets of grandparents this weekend.  They are geared up and ready to go!


I found this on another blog and thought it was great for Mother's Day.


HERE’S TO THE MOMS

Here’s to the Moms who may not have “signed up” to parent a deaf or hard of hearing child, but do so anyway with grace and love.

Here’s to the Moms who narrate every second of every day, not caring what others may think.

Here’s to the Moms who put miles on their cars driving back and forth to countless therapy sessions, doctor’s appointments, hearing aid fittings, cochlear implant mappings, and more.

Here’s to the Moms who work hard to be their child’s best advocate and primary language role model.

Here’s to the Moms who have had to learn a new language too fast full of Auditory Verbal/Auditory Oral terms and audiological jargon.

Here’s to the Moms who face the “experts” and fight for their child’s best interest in IFSP/IEP meetings and in those meetings where you are just trying to make the system better.

Here’s to the Moms who can wrestle two CIs or HAs onto a squirming toddler… and replace it 20-40 times each day, even in the car, without loosing their cool.

Here’s to the Moms who can cook dinner, answer the phone, and change a CI/HA battery without breaking a sweat.

Here’s to the Moms who constantly have to explain their child’s “equipment” and answer the question "are those forever?"

Here’s to the Moms who have ever felt the pain of having a child who is “different”.

Here’s to the Moms who never take a single word for granted.

Here’s to the Moms who never fail to astound me with their capacity to persevere… and to love.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

F Week, Flu, and Fun

We have focused on F words for the two weeks.  We've also been a sick house for the past 9 days.  We missed Taylor's therapy appointment this week.  Both kids have been sick and running fevers off and on.  They have pretty bad coughs and no appetite.  We're pretty sure it's the influenza, but keeping in the spirit of F words, the FLU.  Taylor's fever got up to 101 degrees at one point.  With all that she's gone through, this is the first time she's been sick other than a mild cold with runny nose. 

Even with the illness, Taylor has said so many new things. 

Puppy
Ut oh
Okay?  ...she asked of Derek after he fell down.
Thank You
Derek!
Sleep
Choo (as she saw a train)
Where'd it go?
Yuck
Bird
Binky
Drink


It seems like she is adding multiple new words every day and it's harder for us to keep track.  That's a good problem to have!  Today, we are 8 months post-activation.  Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, April 26, 2010

M Week and Life Lessons

We spent two weeks on M week. What can I say? Lots of important M words... Of course, Mama is at the top of the list. I will remember every day for the rest of my life that was the first sound that Taylor made that sounded anything like a word - Mama - at 4 weeks post-activation. Now, Taylor knows who her Mama is without question. She has perfected saying "Mama" for several months now. She has a beautiful "Meow", which she does as she follows our cat Mikea around the house. She can say Mikea, but it more often comes out as the Kay-ah part. She also tries to call our dog, Maverick. She'll pat herself on the leg and go "Mav, Mav." At our last therapy appointment, she cracked up Daddy and the therapist by saying "Oh My Gosh."


She helped Daddy mow the yard. I can't believe she tolerates riding on the mower with her "ears" on, but I guess it doesn't bother her. Last week, my husband took her to the grocery store and she said "hi" to everyone she saw. Several people said hi back. It's amazing... you just want to say -- hello, my deaf daughter just said hi to you. and she's not even two yet! It is so cool to witness her truly enjoying her own ability to communicate.


There are some times as a parent when it is really nice that she can communicate verbally. It is still weird to me, but Taylor makes the same sounds and words now with and without her ears on. Sometimes, she talks to herself quite a bit and we can listen to her through the baby monitor without her realizing it. Last weekend, we put her down for her nap around 2:30... didn't want it to be much later and have her up until 10 p.m. She just wouldn't give it up and fall asleep though. We were puzzled until I heard her go "Eeewwww. Peee Youuuu. Eeewwww." I looked at her Dad and said "she's poopy." Sure enough, I run up there -- Poop up her back, on her sheets, blankets and bumpy. I'm just glad she hadn't gotten to the point of sticking her hands in it and wiping it on something else. And so it goes...


I always have to throw in a little story on Derek too. He's the 3-year-old ruler of the universe, if you ask him. As of two weeks ago, Derek is a champion pooper on the toilet, after 10 months of #1 on the toilet, and no #2, we have total success!


We were taking the kids out and about one evening and offered to go to a park close to home. The other option was to go Home. Derek says "well, I don't like my choices!" He's THREE! Welcome to the real world. One life lesson down, one million to go.


He is so funny... a great big brother in some many ways. I hope Taylor keeps learning from him, just not quite in every way.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Oh SH!

This week, we did SH!  Lots of Shhhh!  
For starters, Derek stepped in a big pile of this bull mastiff's sh** (I mean, poop.)








We washed our hair with shampoo and applied lotion.  We put on our shirts, shoes, and shorts, and brushed our teeth.  It finally was warm enough for some shorts



We got to look at our shadows outside and Shake our whole bodies to the tune of Little Einsteins.  We tried to encourage sharing as we toasted marshmallows.  We took out the trash and washed the cars.




We finally finished all of Taylor's immunzations. (Don't forget that the words with "tion" are also SH words.) We still had a few 12-18 months shots left, but they are all done as of Friday. Yeah! No more until kindergarten.




We visited to local Wildlife and Parks museum to get up close and personal with some fish. Today's Sunday; maybe we can go get a milkshake later.


http://www.cochlearamericas.com/PDFs/Speech_Sounds_SH_Fricative.pdf


I have to say, there are a lot more words with SH than I ever realized.  It was a fun week.  Taylor is talking more and making more sounds all the time.  She had one great day filled with "Dada" this weekend.  Maybe D week is paying off a couple weeks later.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

D Week! Hoping for More Dada's

Last week was D week at our house.  We brought out everything D, including lots of time with Daddy since it was Easter weekend.  We danced, dipped our hot dogs in ketchup, and road lots of rides at Silver Dollar City. 

Oh, yeah, another D...  We drove, and drove, and drove some more.  We drove from Kansas, to Oklahoma for a therapy appointment, and then we drove on to Missouri, then back to Kansas on Sunday.  We are thankful for the big D in our lives at these times, namely the DVD!  It helps to make the drives bearable. 

Here is the link to the Speech Sounds D week.  It is fun! 
http://www.cochlearamericas.com/PDFs/Speech_Sounds_D_Plosive.pdf

We played with dolls, talked about dirty diapers, watched the ducks, and fed the dog.  I think Taylor spent half of the weekend chasing my mom's dog.  She had a great time with him.  We have a dog who is around five years old.  My mom's dog is still a puppy, and he had the best time running from Derek and Taylor.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

P WEEK

It's "P" Week at our house! 

Well, it started with the kids on Sunday before I had even announced it was "P" Week.  
Taylor is really good at fighting while getting her diaper changed, and a poopy diaper fight resulted in my getting a poopy bottom flipping over in my face and getting poop smeared on my chin.  As I'm finishing the cleanup from that, Derek wants me to assist him in the bathroom because he has decided to start peeing standing up, rather than sitting, and has peed all over the seat and floor.  I had rushed away from Taylor before getting a fresh diaper on her, and when I came back to her, she had peed on my bed.  Later that day, Derek peed on the floor in the bathroom two more times while trying to figure out how to pee standing.  Why he decided to start it on that day when his dad was at work is beyond me.  And this was all in one afternoon.

The next day, we annouced it was "P" Week.  The Cochlear website has some really helpful educational materials, including Speech Sounds.  Please see the attached link: 

http://www.cochlearamericas.com/Support/2294.asp


It has a weekly/bi-weekly instruction guide for various consonants, complete with associated activities, words, books, songs, foods, etc.  It is great!  We are going to cover a consonant per week.  It is working double-duty for both Taylor and Derek (age 3). 

As I said, this is P week.  Our dog Maverick celebrated on Monday by eating a mouse/rat/baby rabbit and then PUKING in our house.  The P's continue...

On Tuesday, Derek started at Pre-school.  He was terrified when getting dropped off, but perfectly happy about preschool when I picked him up. 

So far this week, we have
 Popped bubbles
Ate pizza, pineapple, and peanut butter
Napped!
Peeled carrots
Listened to a purple piccolo dinosaur on Little Einstein's
Hopped like a frog
Poured Sand
Ate Spaghetti
Wiped Up
Patted and clapped to music
Played with a Purse
and experienced Pee, Puke, and Poop.

We are loving P week and all of the language learning opportunities and ideas that it is giving us.  Check it out!  19 weeks to go!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bling It! and More Words

Taylor is a girly-girl! We like to decorate her headbands and CI covers to go with her outfits. We have quite a collection of headbands now, and have 4 sets of the CI covers so far. See the "Hoorah for Headbands" blog for more information on the headbands.
Taylor is talking more. She is saying a lot of words on her own without my prompting, and then her repeating.
Our neighbors got a new kitten, and she said "Baby Kitty."
Derek was going potty and she said "Pee pee."
Daddy got home and she said "ya-ya". Sometimes we have heard her say "Dada", but more often it still comes out "ya-ya".
She can point to her eye and say "eyes."
We have a mapping appointment this week. It has been about 3 months since the last mapping. We're hoping for even better results after this appointment.
This week, Grandma and Grandpa were here. Grandma asked Derek to do something, and he said "Noooo!" Then Taylor helped the cause by adding her "NNNNooooo!" My mom thought this was pretty funny. We have Skyped with them, but they hadn't seen Derek and Taylor since early January. They were impressed by her progress.
On the blog design, I had to take off the side posting about Words Taylor Knows; it got too long months ago so I gave up on tracking that one. I am still tracking Words Taylor Says. I know that she does say more words than this, but I try to remember as many as possible. She is starting to add more words daily.

Monday, March 8, 2010

From the Parent’s Perspective - Teaching Materials, etc.

Another month has gone by! How is that possible? Well, in the past month, I’ve been to Jacksonville, Florida; Birmingham, Alabama; Kansas City; and Oklahoma City (3 times.) I am feeling like a road warrior and the road is starting to win the battle. I travel for my job, usually once a month or so, but it has been more frequent in the past few months, averaging around twice a month. Those were the trips to Jacksonville and Birmingham. The Kansas City trip was for fun, to catch up with family and friends that we haven’t seen in a long while. And every Friday, we drive about 8 hours roundtrip to take Taylor to her weekly therapy appointment. I’m actually writing this from the airport in Memphis. Not much else to do in this airport – now at Atlanta’s airport, I could go to the Xpress Spa for a pedicure. Maybe another time…
Taylor is now 21 months old, and in a few more days, it will be six months since her activation. While so much progress has been made, the worry and analysis endures. Are we doing the right thing(s)? How much therapy is enough? Should Mom keep working? What’s the right place/type of therapy? Does Taylor need to go to an AV pre-school (necessitating a family relocation?)
Last weekend, when we spent the weekend with friends who have a daughter who is almost two and a half, I worried that Taylor’s Dad would be making constant comparisons of the girls and how Taylor was progressing. It’s kind of a double-edged sword because although we know how far Taylor has come in less than six months, we do want to compare her to other kids to see how she is doing – is she comprehending at an age-appropriate level? Is she speaking at an age-appropriate level? What would she be doing if she wasn’t deaf and could have heard from the time that she was born? We are always between the happiness that she is progressing well and the fear that our happiness with her progression could lead to complacency. How good is good enough? Is there a point of “good enough?” Enough work, enough reading, enough words. There are still the rare times that it flat out makes me mad that she has to go through all of this and couldn’t have just been born hearing like most kids. The 5 hour surgery when she was really still a baby. Learning to comprehend sound. All of the extra work to do something that doesn’t come naturally to her.
Our babysitter quit and last week was her final week. This week, we’ve had super-Grandma Cherie watching the kids and they have been having the best time. Next week, we have a new babysitter starting. This will be the third one since Taylor was born. I really hope she stays with us for a long time. It’s a tough transition for the kids and for the parents.
Derek is going to start pre-school now that he’s 3. It will be 3 days a week for about 2.5 hours, a great opportunity for him, and allows for some one-on-one time with Taylor. Working with her at home (i.e. books, language development games) has been a challenge. We really have to split up and each take a kid. The simple books that we try to read with Taylor are not enough to keep Derek’s interest. Due to my travel for work and Dad’s work schedule, a lot of times in the evening, only one of us is there, so one-on-one time can be a challenge. They’re only 17 months apart so these challenges are typical in some ways of any family with 2 toddlers close together.
There are a couple of learning tools that we have been using for both Derek and Taylor. The Your Baby Can Read set is great. There are videos, books, flashcards videos, sliding word/picture cards. They are nice for infants. We got the set when Taylor was 9 months old and she really enjoyed them at that time. At 20 months, they don’t hold Taylor’s interest. The books, flashcards, and sliding word/picture cards are all great. They allow for us to do “audition” first, saying the word as she sees it in written form, then sliding open to expose the picture. They are great! Our 3-year-old son also enjoys these cards and books. The pictures are very realistic, mostly photographs of actual objects/forms rather than cartoonish illustrations like some baby books. I can see them continuing to be useful until kindergarten or so because it will help them with sight words.
After we found out Taylor was deaf, but before we had the CI surgery, I bought the Signing Time set of videos and books. The videos are really cute with good music. They show the written word as they verbalize it, and then show children making the signs for it. They usually show very cartoonish illustrations of the subject at hand. Overall, the videos are really geared toward a hearing child who is learning to sign for fun and to encourage earlier communication. I personally found them frustrating because from my deaf child’s perspective, I couldn’t see how she could possibly learn to associate the sign with the subject because the pictures were cartoonish and shown minimally as compared to showing the children doing the sign while they said it. I would only encourage these if your child can hear normally or with hearing aids or CI’s. As for the books/supplemental materials, I wasn’t happy with these either because the illustrations are cartoonish and more focused on showing the signs rather than the subject.
We have loved the DVD collections of Baby Einsteins (for 18 months or younger) and the Little Einsteins (for about 15 months and up). They have been wonderful and really encourage active listening.

Friday, February 5, 2010

ORLANDO

We just returned from a family vacation to Orlando. What fun! We had beautiful weather for the entire trip, several days above 80 degrees. Taylor and Derek enjoyed the trip, starting with two airplane rides. They were so excited to be on the airplane – Taylor even said “airplane” a few times. It helped that she had Derek to imitate. He loves planes, and it has rubbed off on her. In fact, when we landed in Orlando, after leaving our house at 4 a.m. and taking two plane rides, Derek wanted to know if we were going to get on another airplane. In Orlando when we landed, they were so fascinated with the planes and the baggage handlers that they stood at the window for a good while, even getting the baggage handlers to wave at them. There was a lot of time spent at the pool, which they loved. I think it’s good for the soul to get outside in the sunshine and warmth in January, when you are really getting tired of winter’s cold, dreary weather.
We went to Sea World for two days, and Disney’s Magic Kingdom for one day. Here are a few pictures from those parks!
Mommy and Taylor at It's a Small World ride

Carousel

SHAMU

Taylor LOVED the MANATEES!

Taylor and Derek with the Dolphins

I’m sure that any of you with little ones know what it’s like to ride elevators with two little kids, both so excited and wanting to be the one privileged button-pusher. We were on the third floor at our resort, so there were a lot of elevator rides for the kids to practice. Taylor tried to say “elevator”; she got out the right number of syllables and you could tell that was what she was trying to say.

Every time we take a little vacation, I’m reminded of why they are so needed. It reminds you that there’s a world out there besides the mundane work of daily life. While it’s winter now, we have sunshine and spring coming our way. For children, it provides chances for expansion of the mind, as well as an opportunity for family togetherness and bonding. This was our first trip since we found out that Taylor was deaf and began this CI journey, and it was much needed.

For Taylor, I think she might have been a little worn out by the end of the trip. On the third evening in Orlando, we were seated by a waterfall at RainForest Cafe, enjoying the aquariums and views. Of course, this was after a very long day at Magic Kingdom. I was holding her and walking around the restaurant to give her better views of the aquariums when I noticed that she was missing an "ear". I retraced my steps and ended up back at the table -- no CI. We started looking under the table. A couple seated next to us noticed the commotion and panic, and kindly mentioned that they had seen Taylor throw something into the waterfall. WHAT?!?! Jon and I both had our arms in the waterfall, digging around everywhere. It was kind of bubbly so difficult to see. I asked the waiter to get the waterfall turned off. It took them a little bit, but finally, it went off and we were able to pluck the CI right out. We let it dry out and it worked fine the next day! Here's the waterfall!