Monday, February 1, 2010

Welcome to Holland

For some reason today I am feeling very sad for my sweet, hearing impaired little girl. I really don't get like this very often. After all, there has been so much hope, and nothing but success stories since the day she was born. But, every once in a while, I just get very sad that she will always have to work a little harder than the rest of us.

So, I'm posting this poem (which we've all heard) in honor of my baby girl, and this busy, crazy, wouldn't trade it for anything life she has given us.

"Welcome to Holland"

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But...if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Parents Day at SJID

Today was Parent's Day at Abby's school. When I first got the information, I misunderstood and thought it was only during breakfast time. I found out a few days later it was an entire day event where parents could go to the school and meet with other parents, observe the kids day, eat lunch with their child, and then attend some informational seminars in the afternoon. Well, since I only found out it was an all day event at the last minute I wasn't able to take the day off. So I attended from 8am to 10:00am this morning.

I am just amazed at how structured the little 3/4 year old preschool class is. They are so cute, and know their routine so well. When they first get to school, Abby's teacher does hearing checks. She has each child take a turn and go stand by "Brooke" (Brooke is a lifesize doll that they use for a lot of activities in the classroom). The teacher then goes thru the Ling sound drills (oo, ee, a, m, sh, s and other sounds). As she says each sound, the child repeats. She takes a long pause before one sound for each of the kids and when they hear the pause they say "nothing". It was very cute. Brooke is about 10 feet away from the teacher. It was exciting for me to see Abby hear each and every sound from 10 feet away (even s and sh)!!

The next thing they do is circle time where they sing a little song about each child who is at school and they do their calendar time with day of the week, Month, and date. Abby is really doing well with counting and counts to 20 pretty consistently.

After circle time they have an event each day. I'm not sure what each of the daily events are, but today was story time. Abby's teacher has several books sitting out, all related to winter and cold weather. The kids picked out a story and Gina read it, pausing for them to fill in blanks (they've heard these stories a few times). Then, they go to the table for another event (today was show and tell).

Long story short, after 2 hours of sitting activities, they finally get to go and play. Their playtime is also structured by having certain things set out for play. This month they are learning all the language around winter. So they are learning words like snow, scarf, mittens, earmuffs, etc.

Abby was very proud to have her mom there today. She was acting a little shy because I was there, but for the most part she did really well. She is such a hard little worker and now I better understand why she is SO tired in the evenings and on weekends!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Brand New Year

When I created this blog, the sole purpose was to keep friends and family updated on Abby's Cochlear Implant Surgery and the progress she made following that surgery. Later, it turned into a Family blog, but if you think about it raising a child with a disability is a family process right? Actually, raising any child with or without a disability is a family process. My goal this year is to be much better at keeping this blog up to date, and to take the time to celebrate the successes that Seth, Abby, and our family have throughout the year. goes....

Seth Robert is half-way through kindergarten. How he got to be 5 1/2 years old so fast is completely beyond me. I love seeing him grow and I love the sweet heart and spirit that he has. He is very active and hard to get to sit or stand still at times, but he has one of the sweetest hearts of anyone I know. Seth is always thinking about ways to help people. He loves to give, he loves to help, and he loves being a blessing to anyone and everyone. He is beginning to ask some very deep questions and challenges his dad and I to look deeper to find answers to those questions at times. My prayer is that his heart will always stay so tender and he will continue to love others so much. Seth is also beginning to read, tell time, and do addition. It is so incredible to watch my baby boy turn into a big boy.

Abby is half-way through her first year of Preschool and is at 18 months post Implant surgery. She is getting so big. Hard to believe my baby is almost 4. Abby works so hard. So many times I feel so sorry for her having to start school at such a young age, and having to work so hard just to do what the rest of us picked up by mere observation (speak and listen). On the other hand, I am so incredibly proud of her and so thankful for the determined spirit that God has given her which pushes her to succeed. I'm also very thankful for the resources that are available to her and the progress she has made in such a short time. I will try to be more diligent in posting about the specific milestones that she accomplishes.

Seth (big) - Seth is turning 30 this month! I'm very excited about this because we will be in the same decade again, well at least for a few years :) He is an incredible husband and dad and I appreciate so much how involved he is with the kids. He has taken on some really large home improvement projects this year, but when do we not have home improvement projects going on around our house?

Me - well, not much to say here. I work, I clean, take care of the kids, do laundry : ) In all seriousness, I'm hoping this will be the year to return to my 'normal' self. Ever since having the kids my life has become so busy that I have kind of forgotten to really take time for myself. Not in a selfish way, but in a 'keeping my sanity' way. I joined a program at the YMCA starting this year in which I work out with a training 3 hours a week. I cannot believe in just 1 1/2 weeks how much better I feel. I pray for some of the determination my sweet daughter has so I keep up with this : )

OK, so I promise to keep this blog updated more regularly. And, I will post pictures. I promise!!

Love to all,

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Abby's Birthday

OK, So I haven't posted in 3 months...I don't know where the time has gone.

We've had a busy few months. Abby's birthday was April 25 and she turned 3. She is SO big.

She had all of her cousins and friends over for her Cinderella birthday party. She had lots of fun and was very excited about her presents.

Abby also LOVED her cupcakes as you will see from the pictures below.

Yes, that IS blue icing on her hands, not fingerpaint!

Abby got lots of great presents, but her favorite present was her Spiderman helmet and kneepads that her brother got for her. Seriously, the girl LOVES Spiderman. Here she is riding her princess bike, with her Spiderman gear on.

Seth also had a birthday and he turned 5 years old. I will post pictures from his party later. He is still waiting on his present from Mom and Dad. It is a HUGE surprise and we are looking for the right one. Sorry to leave you hanging, but I'll post once he gets it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sigh of Relief

I haven't posted about this because I was trying very hard not to worry too much until we found out what was going on.

For the past couple months we have been noticing that Seth hasn't been hearing as well as normal. It was kind of strange because it didn't seem to be consistent. One day he would hear me call him from the next room, and the next day he wouldn't hear me talking to him from 3 feet away. We really started to get concerned when other people started mentioning that they were noticing it as well.

So, Abby had a 6 month post-surgery appointment about a month ago, and I took Seth along hoping that Dr Clary would look at his ears even though he hadn't had a hearing test at that point. Dr Clary, being the wonderful, caring Doctor that he is, did look in Seth's ears while we were there for Abby's appointment. He said that Seth had quite a bit of earwax plugged up deep in his ear canal (sorry to be gross). He wanted us to put drops in his ears for several weeks before attempting to remove it.

Even knowing that this was most likely the cause of his hearing loss, and that it would be temporary, I was still worried. Having one hearing impaired child, I kept thinking what if Abby's hearing loss is genetic, and just now showing up in Seth at the age of 4 1/2. During the month that we were putting the drops in his ears, we also got a note from his teacher that he didn't seem to be hearing well....and just as luck would have it, his school had a vision and hearing screening in which he failed the hearing portion of the test. Talk about stressful!!

Well, today was finally the big day that we had our follow-up with Dr Clary. I told him about the failed hearing test and that the results were that Seth was hearing at about a 35 decibel loss. Thankfully Dr Clary was able to remove all of the wax from his ears and commented that the amount there was could certainly cause a hearing loss at that level.

We left the Dr's office with a HUGE weight lifted off of my shoulders for sure. As we were walking out I whispered Seth's name from behind him a couple of times, and each time he turned around quickly....he also asked me why the elevator bells were so loud as we got on the elevator. I have no idea how long his ears have been 'plugged' but I'm so thankful that this was all the problem was.

We still plan to schedule him a follow up hearing test, but I have no doubts he will pass it!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I think I have the "Flea"

We were leaving church today, when Seth Robert started sneezing several times in a row. After about 5 sneezes he says "Mom, I think I have the flea."

Knowing he meant the flu, we played it up with him for a couple of minutes...telling him he couldn't play with his dog or he might give him fleas...he couldn't go to school and spread fleas.

Finally we told him he doesn't have the FLU...something in the air was just making him sneeze.

Friday, February 6, 2009

What Next!!??

The last couple weeks have been full of stress and not much fun for our family. We certainly need to schedule something fun to make up for all of this.

1. All of us had a stomach bug (each about a week apart).

2. Boeing laid off 10% of their IT department last Friday. The days leading up to that were very stressful, but thankfully I'm not affected by the layoffs. This is the first time I've been through the possibility of layoffs in my 11+ years at Boeing. It is very sad to see peers and friends who will be leaving in about 2 months.

3. Abby got sick yesterday. A few weeks ago when we all had the stomach bug, Abby didn't have a very big 'case' of it. I guess she made up for that yesterday when she couldn't keep anything down for about 10 hours.

Now for some fun!

This week is going to be beautiful and I plan to get outside and enjoy it! I think a trip to the Park would do us all some good : ) Tomorrow is my grandma's 92nd birthday. Can you imagine living 92 years! We will go to Waterloo tomorrow to celebrate with her. It will be fun for the kids to see all of their cousins from my side of the family.

I realize I haven't posted any pictures here in a while. Maybe I can work on that this weekend too!!