Thursday, February 23, 2017

Nostalgia

Hello.  My name is Stacey.  I am an on-again off-again blogger.  You just never know when I will pop up and share something.  Please forgive my spaztastic blogging.

This week has been very long for me.  Holland has a bacterial infection on her face, so we have been house bound since Sunday.  I'm going a little stir crazy.  There has been a lot (and I mean a lot) of screen time the past couple of days. 

All of that screen time has led me back to my blog.  Today I decided to go back and read some old posts.  Oh how I miss the days of babies and blogging!  It was a difficult/beautiful phase of my life.  I was reading comments and trying to find long lost blogging friends.  Most of my old blogging friends seem to have disappeared from cyberspace, unfortunately.  I just loved how we were all in it together.  The internet was a very exciting place before things like Facebook and Instagram came along.  It seemed my connections with people were deeper, even with friends that I only knew through blogging.

Life Updates:

Where am I at?  How is my family?  What keeps me busy?  What do I enjoy doing?  All good questions...

Home:  We are still living in the home that me moved into 4 years ago.  We love this old house.  It is comfortable and fits us well.  I feel content here. 

Work:  Keith is still working at the same office that he started in 8 years ago.  It's part of the same company that he started working for 12 1/2 years ago!  We feel very blessed by his job and the people he works with.

I am still a stay at home Mom.  Going on 12 years!  Crazy sauce.  But it's where I feel I need to be.

Kiddos:  Rowan is 11 1/2 years old and a great guy.  He is fun and smart.  This year he finally has a teacher who is allowing him to go further and work harder on Math.  He is in grade 6.  He is currently working on grade 7 Math at his own pace, hopefully starting grade 8 Math this year yet.  He was tested at a grade 10 level but we agreed with the teacher that we wanted him to still work through the entire curriculum so he doesn't miss out on anything.  It's going well!  He loves participating in Math contests too.   Rowan plays hockey every Saturday morning and really loves it.  We haven't put him in minor hockey because we love the shinny schedule :)  I don't think we can commit to more time than that.  Rowan also just started drum lessons in January.  He's doing really well and enjoying that too.  Conveniently, his teacher lives right across the street!

Bria is 9 1/2 and as spunky as ever.  She loves singing and art.  She does really well in school and is in her third year of acting classes.  Also conveniently located just 2 blocks away!  I love the small town life.  She has struggled in the past few months especially with her ankle.  3 1/2 years ago she jumped down a few stairs in our house and landed wrong.  Anytime she does too much, it bothers her again.  We have been to an orthopedic surgeon and a physiotherapist.  There doesn't seem to be much that anyone can do for her.  She is really flexible and has loose joints.  If anyone has any suggestions for what we could do to help her, I'm all ears.

Emery just turned 7 on Sunday!  She was so excited!!!!  That girl had all the details of her party figured out on her own.  She is as sweet as ever!  Also, she still hasn't slowed down with her growing.  She has been in the 96-98th percentile for height her entire 7 years!  She loves to keep her hair really long, much to my frustration in the mornings when it's time to get ready for school!  But it's cute and she loves it.  Emery is really starting to take off in her reading and loves school.  She will be starting piano lessons in September, but has started working on her skills already using Hoffman Academy on YouTube. 



Holland is 3 1/2 (turning 4 in April) and is learning to listen and speak.  She is doing really well and is slowly catching up to her peers.  We hope that by the time she goes to kindergarten, she will be mostly caught up.  She loves her therapist and her child development worker a lot and looks forward to seeing them.  Unfortunately, this winter things have been a bit hectic and we haven't seen either of them as much as we would like.  Occasionally I post little video clips on YouTube, if you ever want to check it out.  I'm no pro, but I like saving a few clips here and there.  Holland goes to preschool every Tuesday morning.  She loves school and is always excited to go.  I'm not sure what she gets out of it, but at least it's a positive experience for her.  In big news, Holland successfully potty trained in pretty much 1 day.  She had one accident within the first few hours.  Here's to waiting!  It was the easiest, most fun potty training experience ever.  My inspiration for how I went about it is from this video.



So, more about me and where I am at.  I'm definitely still happy to stay at home.  For the most part, I'm really content with that.  It's these extended periods of being totally house bound that drive me bonkers! 

Holland and I have a bit a routine for our week so that we get out and do stuff.  Monday is my baking day so we bake bread and cookies for the kids' school lunches.  We also do a bit of laundry and cleaning.  Tuesday is preschool in the morning, so I get a couple of hours to do anything that I want to get done on my own.  Wednesday we go grocery shopping and sometimes we get together with my Mom Heart group (like a bible study/book club).  Thursday morning is ladies' bible study at church.  Friday is usually another at home day.

I have discovered in the past year and a half that I love budgeting!  LOL... strange hobby, but I enjoy it and it helps my family.  So win win!  Warren and Liane introduced us to YNAB (You Need A Budget) probably 2-3 years ago, and in October of 2015 we took the plunge and purchased the software.  It's fantastic.  I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to take better care of what they have been entrusted with.  The one down side to YNAB (in my opinion) is that they have switched form offering a one time purchase software to an APP with a subscription.  We use the older software and have not switched to the subscription based version.  I'm sure it's great, but I'm happy with what we have and I don't want to spend the extra money.

Somewhat big news in my life more recently is that I have decided to try and heal my gut by going gluten, dairy, and egg free.  I didn't just randomly pick those foods.  If you have been here forever, you remember about 8 years ago when I went to see a Naturopathic Doctor to help me deal with my eczema.  She did a blood allergy test that showed significant reaction in my body to gluten, eggs, and dairy.  I figured that would be a good place to start my elimination diet.  It's going pretty well.  I'm not sure how long to do this, so if anyone has advice, I'd love to hear it.  I feel so much better now than I did just a couple of months ago.  I started just after Christmas, so it's been 2 months now.  No more bloating, no more heartburn, better digestion overall.  My approach has been to mostly just make foods that are naturally gluten, dairy, and egg free.  I have done a little bit of experimenting with different ingredients and recipes, but I try to keep it simple so I don't get overwhelmed. 

In the past couple of weeks I have found an interesting website/YouTube channel called Healthy Grocery Girl.  She posts recipes that are all plant based but with simple ingredients.  I'm thinking of giving a bunch of them a try.  Get some good nutrient dense food into my family!  Last night I actually made her mango salsa recipe, and it was delicious!  Learning about nutrition is a bit of a hobby of mine, so I think I'm going to enjoy learning more from Healthy Grocery Girl.  She is a Registered Dietician, so I fee like she isn't just offering fad advice. 


Well, I think that's enough of an update for today.  Here's hoping the rest of my day is more productive :)  PS... I love YouTube, if you couldn't tell, haha!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The blues

I'm not sure I can pinpoint the exact reason why, but I'm feeling defeated lately.  I just want to raise my white flag and say I give up.  

Parenting is a struggle.  It's been hard for me at every stage, from one kid through the fourth.  The fourth is just an extreme challenge right now.  Everything turns into a screaming tantrum.  And it goes on and on.  She is currently on the floor screaming for who knows what reason.  This morning is was a fit at the grocery store because she wanted to eat all the oranges and I said no.

Yesterday we found out that her processor wasn't working.  No idea how long it had been that way, which is my fault for not checking more frequently.  So now she is freaked out by the sound all over again and is fighting wearing it.  That's right, people. It's not all sunshine and roses when you get a cochlear implant.  It's hard work.  

My other girls have also been exerting their strong wills lately.  Seriously, I don't think I will survive parenting with my sanity intact.  I guess it's payback from my childhood.  Sorry, Mom and Dad.  I know I wasn't a very easy kid either.

I know that I will have a good day again sometime.  I'm sure of it.  Sometimes life is just hard.  

Monday, November 09, 2015

Activation Day!

Today was activation day.  That means that Holland got her external processor (it looks kind of like a hearing aid with an extra piece attached to it) and the audiologist programmed it for her.

I know there are so many videos on YouTube that show these amazing moments of hearing for the first time.  It really wasn't like that for Holland.  She seemed to know something was different, but she tried really hard to ignore it for a while.  She was busy doing puzzles with her therapist and seemed more annoyed than anything.



This went on for a few minutes.  She would look up for any loud noises with little other reaction.  And then all of a sudden she started crying and pulled the processor off.  She cried for a minute or so and then fought the processor when I tried to put it back on.



She did really well for the rest of the day.  The processor fell off several times when she was playing, and she did take it off a few times too.  I would like to figure out a way to keep it on better, maybe a headband or hair clip or something.

At bedtime, I decided to take her hearing aid out and talk to her with just the cochlear implant processor.  We went through the six ling sounds (the sounds necessary to hear and understand speech) and she heard them all!  I was so excited!  She often has had trouble hearing the "s" sound, as well as "sh".  But she heard them easily!

The best moment of all was when I took everything off so I could put her in bed... And she cried!  She pointed to the processor and to her head.  She wanted it back on!  Ahhhh!  I'm so happy!  I can't wait to watch her learn!

Tomorrow is day two of programming.  The audiologist will add a few more programs to her processor so we can test her with louder volume.  We will also get the crash course on how to use all of the equipment that comes with it.  I'm guessing it will be an exhausting day.  But so worth it!

Monday, November 02, 2015

Where to Begin!

A lot has happened since I last updated here.  I haven't posted anything because my silly computer won't upload my photos and videos.  Really annoying!  So please forgive the instagram photos I have included here.

Let's go back a little bit, to the end of August.

At this point, we had lived a very full and fun summer.  We did some camping, time with grandparents, swimming lessons, gardening (that needs a post of it's own), and Keith and I took a wonderful trip to New York city.

I can't remember when I got the phone call, but we were given the date of September 9th as a meeting with the cochlear implant surgeon.  This also happened to be the first day of school.  Mommy guilt ran high and I was stressed out!  But we managed to work everything out in a way that made everyone happy.  I got the kids off to school, had lunch with them, and then dropped Emery off with Keith at work, while my Dad drove Holland and me to the city.

At the appointment we learned that Holly's MRI was clear and everything looked normal.  She was an excellent candidate for surgery!  We were given a ton of paperwork to read through and then were told that they were reserving a surgery slot for her on October 1st... just 3 1/2 weeks away.  Yikes!

Her very last day wearing her right hearing aid.
Then we were informed that she would need to have a couple vaccines at least 2 weeks before surgery, as well as a pre-op check up.  Not what I wanted to hear, but I knew it was coming.  So, when I got home, I madly called around with my request to have an appointment for vaccines within the week and a pre-op check up ASAP.  Not an easy feat around here.  But they heard my urgency and got us in!

Holland did really well with all of that stuff.

And of course, somehow during that week, she happened to be exposed to whooping cough.  I was so nervous!  Getting a virus like that would set back her surgery date for months.

But, in the end, all was well and she was perfectly healthy for her surgery on October 1st.


Super excited about her bracelet

Surgery took around 3 hours.  It felt like a long time to wait.

When we finally got to see her again, she was pretty out of it.  She threw up a lot over the next couple of hours. But, she did eventually sleep and have an ok night.

Just hanging out after surgery
Angry at her IV

Slightly happier without the bandage on her head

We got discharged the next morning and she seemed pretty much back to normal.

Home Sweet Home

So, now we are eagerly awaiting activation day next Monday!  Can't wait to see how she reacts, though we have been warned that most kids cry.

I know I never would have known anything about cochlear implants if it wasn't for Holland, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Monday, July 06, 2015

Progress

How does time fly by so fast?  Seriously, I didn't think it had been over a month since I posted anything!

It's been a month full of pulling first teeth...



Swimming lessons, during which we had our first ever tornado siren go off, which meant getting out of the pool and heading into the arena to wait it out.  No tornadoes touched down in our town, but there were some small ones just a ways away from us.

Just last Tuesday we had our driveway cemented!  That was pretty fun for the kids.  They loved helping tie the rebar and watch the workers fill the forms with cement.  And now, they are definitely enjoying the smooth surface.  In just a couple days, I will finally get to park in my garage again, after weeks of parking on the street!



As for Holland, I would say it's been a monumental few weeks for us.  Just last week I met with our audiologist at Central Speech, J.  He's pretty great.  He seems to understand Holland and her crazy awesomeness.  We were supposed to do a hearing test with her hearing aids in, but J decided that instead of putting her through the stress of something she totally doesn't get yet, we would just have a chat.  Which was good.  He asked me to fill out some paperwork and then a questionnaire that helped us to pinpoint where she is with her listening skills compared to where she should be at her age.  She has definitely made improvement in the past 3 1/2 months, which is great.



At one point J asked how Keith and I are doing and where we are at with everything.  That was my cue to tell him that we definitely want to go ahead with a cochlear implant for Holland's right ear.  See, up until this point, we hadn't really said yes.  It's been on the table, so to speak.  But I have been hesitant.  It's surgery on my baby.  It means a lot of hard work and therapy.  Though, who am I kidding; no matter what choice we make, it means a lot of hard work and therapy.  My biggest hang ups are the fact that she may have to have a CT Scan which would expose her to a lot of radiation, and she also needs to have a meningitis vaccine.  I don't really want to get into it, but I'm not thrilled with this.

Ultimately, knowing that Keith has always been very much for cochlear implants, and that I hear such amazing success stories, I finally gave in and decided that we need to do this, ASAP, so Holland can have the best chance at learning to listen and speak. We are hoping for a surgery date in early September.

And still, deep down, I really really want us all to learn ASL.  I think it's incredibly important for us to make an effort to learn a language that comes more naturally to Holland.  I just hope that I can find the support and energy to do it all.

Today Holland had her MRI.  I am praying that they got really good images so that we can avoid the CT Scan.  Holland was a real brave girl.  She didn't get to eat or drink until 12:30 today.  She had to be sedated, since it's pretty much impossible for a toddler to stay still long enough for an MRI.  She didn't even flinch when they put in the IV!  That was pretty awesome.  I couldn't even look.  I just held her tight while she watched.  It was the weirdest thing when they gave her the sedative and she instantly flopped!  I was holding her head while she sat there, and all of a sudden she was limp!  When she woke up, she was mad about the IV and the monitors.  But otherwise, she perked up once she had a little snack. 



Anyhow, I'm exhausted and I have a lot left to do today.  So off I go!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Lazy Sunday Afternoon Update

Hello, friends!  Yesterday while lounging around all afternoon, I thought about how I should probably post a bit of an update here on the old blog.  I even attempted to film some video of Holland to show you what she has been learning at her therapy sessions.  While I did get some cute little videos, she didn't feel like cooperating.  Silly girl!

So, let's get to the updating.  Maybe a quick recap?  Holly was diagnosed in early February with bilateral hearing loss.  Severe in her left ear and profound in her right ear.  In mid March she was fitted with hearing aids and has been wearing them daily for the past 2 1/2 months.

We also started therapy in a city that is 1 1/2 hours drive from us.  So I take Holland once a week to sit and "play with toys" aka, learn to listen and speak.  We play with playdough, shape sorters, wind up toys, sand, water, and many other things.  Holland's therapist, let's call her B, is wonderful and knows how to keep things moving so that Holland doesn't get too upset about sitting for an hour.


About a month ago we started to see some small steps forward.  She is now starting to babble a bit like a baby.  She says "mamamama" which is pretty cute.  I wanted to catch it on video, but haven't yet.  Hopefully soon!  She is also starting to use the rhythm of speech in her babbling.  So she might use "um um um" to mean come come come.  Slow and steady!

We are definitely still pursuing a cochlear implant for her right ear.  There are tests and and appointments that need to happen before we know for sure if she is a good candidate for the surgery.  She will need an MRI sometime soon.  Possibly a CT Scan.  I'm hoping to avoid the CT, if at all possible.

Overall, I'm encouraged with how things are going, though there is still a very long road ahead of us.  I can't wait to feel like I actually know exactly what is going on and who to ask which questions.  It's getting easier, for sure.


I will end with an interesting little story from last weekend.

We spent the weekend at my in-law's house, three hours from us.  We did fun things like visit the Narcisse Snake Dens.  Maybe I will post about that later :)

On Sunday evening, while it was SNOWING outside... yes, snowing, my Mother-in-law mentioned that we could call up a relative that has two deaf kids and see if she would like to meet us sometime.  I was kind of hesitant, because I'm not a phone person. Especially not with strangers!  But, she made the call and then put me on the line.  I chatted with the mother of the 2 deaf "kids" who are actually adults.  We hope to meet her and her daughter in a couple weeks!

The most interesting part of the story is that they helped to start the clinic where we go for therapy.  Years ago, there was no place in our Province to get Auditory/Verbal therapy, so they had to drive quite a distance.  A bunch of parents got together and started this clinic, where they now have a great staff available to help out families like ours, free of charge!  Pretty awesome.

So, that's it for today.  Thanks to those of you who tough it out and keep checking back here for updates :)

Monday, May 04, 2015

Little update

The past few weeks have kind of flown by.  Not much to say or share, but I thought I would post a little something.  This post will be rather unorganized and random!

The weather has been amazing here for the past while!  Summer temps in April... love it!  I think we may have been close to hitting 30 degrees (Celsius) a couple times.  Needless to say, we have spent a lot of time outside!

Rowan and Bria are both doing well in school.  Just 2 months left and we will be enjoying summer break.  This year really flew by.  I know I didn't blog much (or at all) last school year, but Bria hated going to school.  It was really tough to even get her in the door to the school sometimes.  This year, she has been so much better.  Though she still struggles with getting ready fast enough in the morning.  She is not a morning person!

Bria also participated in acting classes from January to the beginning of April, when they put on a play that they wrote themselves!  She played Anna from Frozen, and she had a blast.  I think with some practice, she could be a great actor.  She memorized all of her lines really well.

Emery is having a blast riding her bike this year.  She only needed a few minutes to remember how it all works, and she was off and riding!

Holly has been showing some change in regards to response to sound.  She now turns to me when I call her name, which is so awesome!  Of course, with hearing aids, there is a distance issue.  We have to be close enough to her for her to hear, but I'm still really encouraged.  She also just started babbling in the past few days.  She says mamamamama.  It's really cute :)  It's fascinating to watch a 2 year old babble like a baby though.  They really do have to go through all the same developmental stages of hearing as a newborn!

Holland got a cute wooden puzzle for her birthday.  I think we must do that puzzle at least 10 times a day.  I'm glad she loves it, but it does get old after a while!

Emery and Holly have been taking turns being sick this past week and a half.  Emery started with a sore throat and double ear infection.  Then Holland got a nasty cough.  Now Emery is fine and Holland still has a horrible runny nose.  Both things have prevented us from going to AVT therapy for the past few weeks.  It's pretty disappointing because we need all the help we can get!  They just don't want any sickness in the building, and I don't blame them.  Hopefully we can try a session via Skype tomorrow.  If I can figure that all out.  I've never used Skype before.

Tomorrow Keith turns 32!  Crazy, I know.  He doesn't look a day older than 29... haha!