Saturday, May 23, 2009

What's Lucas up to these days?

Lucas is 17 months old today, and at 4 months 2 weeks post-activation. Even though I wasn't really expecting it, a part of me was hoping that he might be talking by now. We were always told to keep our hopes high and our expectations low. But I'm ecstatic that he's responding sooooo well to spoken language. Speech will come! I'm also excited to report that he's *attempting* some approximations - bye-bye, down, hi!

I have lots of videos to show some fun things that he's doing! Let me first clarify that any time he responds to something I say, it is with verbal cues ONLY! That means he's hearing, understanding, and reacting! I am just so thrilled!

* Please turn off the music player on the sidebar before playing videos. *

In this video, he's signing down (and a pathetic form of please, but we'll take it).

This is a new one he just learned, while riding in his favorite mode of transportation (the horn is tough to push).

This might just be my new favorite skill that I've taught him.

And you've just gotta love his infectious laugh. He thinks pulling the pig's tail in the Happy Book is pretty hilarious (and maybe my rendition of "boing" too).

I have to tell you though... if there's one thing that I want Lucas to do more than speak right now, it's walk. I know he will eventually walk, but I'm ready for it now. He's not really that close either. He pulls himself up, cruises well, and walks with a two-handed assist. One-handed? Nope, that throws him waaaay off balance and causes him to fall. Standing? Too much balance needed. And I swear if I hear one more person tell me I'm lucky that he's not walking yet, so that I don't have to chase him around, I'm going to scream. He is definitely trying though, and making strides every day. He's also finally able to do this (I love it!).

And lastly, for a little added humor, this is how Lucas likes to crawl when he's in the grass (so as to touch as little of the grass as possible.)

Hope you have a great Memorial Day weekend! We're celebrating Opa's birthday this weekend too! Happy Birthday, Opa!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Happy 80th Birthday, Nanny!

My Nanny is 80 years old today! That's 80 going on 60! She's the fittest 80 year old you'll ever meet. My parents built a house a few years ago so that they would have one floor living as they get older. What do they do? Build a loft for my grandmother to live in! Yup, stick the old lady on the 2nd floor. We like to joke about that one a lot. No really, there's an extra bedroom on the first floor, in case the stairs become too much. But for now, she has extra room and extra privacy on the 2nd floor, and the stairs keep her young!

What a life she's had! So many stories to tell! I love to listen to her talk about her life. She married my Pap in Las Vegas (love it!) and raised two daughters. At one point, she and my Pap owned and operated their own corner store. She worked part-time up until about a year and a half ago, when she decided to finally retire. She babysat my sister and me when we were little, while my mom worked as a teacher, just like my mom does for me now. She's always been a big part of my life, and I am forever grateful to have known her so well. She loves to read, play games on the computer, and play nickle slot machines.

Because she lives with my parents (mostly for companionship, because she certainly is independent!), she gets to see a lot of Lucas. And, if I had to pick Lucas's favorite person in the world, it would probably be her. He adores her (and she him)! As soon as he sees her, he sprawls to her and gets really excited. His hearing loss has been tough on her too, but even she has learned some signs to use with him (milk, eat, cat).

She's my Nanny, and she'll always be Lucas's Nanny too. My mom is Oma and Nate's mom is Grandma. She gets to keep her Nanny status, because she's the one and only. That way there's no confusion.

Happy 80th Birthday, Nanny! I love you so much! Here's to many more healthy years ahead of you!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The joy of books

I've posted before about how Lucas loves to read books. That hasn't changed, although he's gotten much pickier. For example, during his bedtime routine, when we sit in the rocker to read books, I usually pick out five or six to read. But, we sometimes only end up reading one or two of them, because Master Lucas doesn't like the ones that I've picked. He indicates this to me by pushing them out of his way with all of his might. It usually goes something like this:

Mommy: "Let's read a book..."

Lucas: (looks at the table of books)

Mommy: (picks up a book).... "In the great green roo..."

Lucas: (forces book out of the way)

Mommy: "Okay, let's read another book. Here are Paul and Ju..."

Lucas: (closes book and pushes it out of the way)

Mommy: "Okay, how about this book? These yellow pets are called the Zeds, they have one hair up on their heads. It grows so fast, so fast they say, they need a haircut every day."

Lucas: (plays with the yellow piece of yarn, then turns the page)

Mommy: "This one I think is called a Yink. He likes to drink, he likes to wink. He likes to drink, and drink, and drink. The thing he likes to drink is ink. The ink he likes to drink is pink. He likes to wink and drink pink ink."

Lucas: (slams book shut)

Mommy: "Okay, you're done with that book. How about this book? What does the happy baby say? Goo-Goo!... What does the picky baby say? Another book!" (Mommy makes up her own words)

Lucas: (likes this book, so we read the whole thing, then he shuts it and pushes it away)

Mommy: All done, night night.

Although it's quite amusing, and also exciting that he's expressing his wants, I look forward to the day when he can WALK to the bookshelf, pick out 3 or 4 books of his own that he WANTS to read, bring them to me, sit on my lap, and read each book from cover to cover. But, for now, we'll play the guess-what-books-Lucas-wants-to-read-tonight-game.

I guess I secretly love it. And I'm sure I'll miss it someday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tag... I'm it! Around the blogging world in 80 clicks...

I have been tagged by little m's mom, at good but hard, in a sort of blogging chain letter fashion, to share my perspective on 5 things I love about being a mom. In teacher fashion, I will share my 5 via an acrostic of Lucas.

5 things I LOVE about being Lucas's mom

Love - Lucas has taught me to love like I've never loved before. It's an incredible, intense sort of love that I never knew existed bc (before children). Just seeing him, just thinking about him makes my heart expand and fill up with incredible amounts of joy.

Unabashed excitement - even if I leave the room for a short time, when I return, he makes his "excited" noise, like I've been gone for hours. That excitement is even better when I have been gone for hours! He gets a huge grin, giggles and sprawls to me. I guess I'm pretty special to him too...

Cuddling - My fondest memories from when he was an infant were cuddling. Luckily, he hasn't given that up. A few times a day, often when he's sleepy, but also when he just wants to check in, Lucas crawls over to me and wants to sit in my lap and cuddle. It doesn't get much better than that.

Advocate - I love being his advocate, knowing that I will fight for him to have the best health care, the best education, and the best life he can possibly have. I will never stop being his biggest advocate, and his biggest fan. I love that he is my most important responsibility, unlike any that I've ever had, or ever will have. I love it!

Smooches - I steal about 500 a day, and I'm not really exaggerating. I love to kiss his toes, his belly, his nose, and his scrumptious cheeks. I simply can never get enough. I will be very upset when he's 10, and doesn't allow 500 a day anymore...

Motherhood for me, is like having that last empty part of me filled to the brim. It's an amazing feeling. I wouldn't trade it in for the world, even with all of this extra stuff that I didn't sign up for when we decided we wanted to dive into parenthood. It makes it all the more rewarding and worthwhile... I highly recommend it...

Tag... you're it... it's your turn! AJ's Awesome Adventure, Ordinary Miracles, Our Journey, Loving Lily, and Say What?. I love the perspective that these moms have... (but please feel no obligation....)

Monday, May 11, 2009

CI indulgence of the month

No, Lucas is not talking yet. But, he amazes me every day with his receptive spoken language. It's a great indication that the implant is working! I'm sure he understands more than we think, but the confirmed list is certainly growing!

My biggest indulgence right now is "please." I no longer have to model the sign. If I just say it, he signs it. It thrills me every time! Check it out:

Lucas was also showing off "dadada." I'm not certain that he says it with meaning yet, but it's possible, so we just reinforce it.

I had a wonderful Mother's Day. Lucas's daddy always works really hard to make me feel special. And he succeeded. He made me breakfast, and let me sleep in a little bit longer. And, when I came downstairs he had my gift up and running - a digital photo frame! It's very cool. Here's one of the pictures that awaited me.

And, I'm very thankful for my own mother, without whom the past year would have been insane. She is incredibly selfless in all that she does for Lucas and me. She watches him 3 days a week for me while I work, and has accompanied me on numerous long, stressful trips to CHOP, in addition to providing me with much needed moral support and LOTS of empathy and understanding. She just listens, and cries with me, and tells me she knows how hard it is, instead of telling me to get over it and move on with it. She shares in my joys and my sorrows, celebrating all of Lucas's little milestones with me. She knows EXACTLY what I need to hear. Lucas adores her and is very lucky to have her in his life.

Thanks for all you do for me, mom - I love you! I can only hope to be as awesome of a mom/grandma as you are in 30 years! There are so many things you do for me that I hope I can do for Lucas when he's older! You're the best!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

all in a day at the park...

I just love that it's finally warm enough outside to spend lots of time there! So, I've been taking Lucas to the park as much as possible. Our favorite park is Lititz Springs Park, but we have to drive there. It's perfect because it has equipment geared toward little ones, a huge sand area and a creek that runs right through the middle, complete with ducks. (we do LOTS of quacking...)

But, alas... we only have one car, and I don't always have it. Luckily we live in town, and both work at the same school that's about 6 blocks away. Lucas's daddy walks to school frequently, and on the other days, Lucas and I make do. There are also 2 very nice parks with playgrounds within walking distance, one that I just found this morning. The one is more suited to little ones, but both have baby swings!

This morning Lucas's daddy had a meeting in Harrisburg, so Lucas and I set out for a walk, and I thought I remembered there was one close by, so we decided to check it out. On the way, we passed a bunch of garage sales (and I thought I was going to have to skip a week)! I found this for $2.

It's an Elmo sprinkler! Now, if only Lucas could run through it... yup, he's still not walking. But, he's trying, so hopefully soon.

I also figured out today that I don't have to take Lucas's ear completely off to go down the plastic slide, but rather just pop off the coil. I had just put on a fresh piece of wig tape this morning, and I didn't want to take it off, so I didn't!

Hope you're enjoying the spring weather, just like we are!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Not Deaf Enough: Raising a Child Who Is Hard of Hearing

I haven't done a book review in a while, but that doesn't mean I'm not reading! This book was lent to me by Lucas's teacher of the deaf. I read it on the plane to and from California, reading the chapters that were interesting to me, and skipping the ones that were not. It's called Not Deaf Enough: Raising a Child Who Is Hard of Hearing, by Patricia Ann Morgan Candlish.

Although Lucas is certainly deaf enough, this book gave me some valuable perspective, especially about the struggles of kids whose hearing loss is not profound, but still considerable. I thought about Nolan a lot while I was reading the book, and also about Ava, because she lives in Canada, as does this mom.

The book has very little information on cochlear implants, like seriously 2 pages. But, it was more about the struggles of raising a hard of hearing child, than the specifics about the amplification. Also, the book was copyrighted 1996, so CIs were still pretty new then. That was probably the only downside to the book, that it does not have up-to-date information. But the struggles of the family of a hearing impaired child span across the decades.

Chapters 15 & 16 were really interesting to me. Chapter 15 is titled Not Deaf Enough, and talks about society's misunderstanding of mild hearing losses. I felt like I could almost relate, because although Lucas has a 110+ dB loss unaided, with his CI he has a 25-35 dB loss, which puts him in the mild hearing loss category, aided. Even though he can "hear" well with his CI, it's certainly not perfect, and I'm sure that he will face much of the same struggles as a child with a mild loss.

She quotes Carol Flexer, a well-known audiologist, in this chapter: "A child with a mild/moderate hearing loss, or a child who is wearing a hearing aid which in not coupled to an FM unit in the classroom, may appear to hear just fine. However, in reality, the child may hear the teacher's voice and intonation patterns, but may not hear individual speech sounds clearly enough to differentiate one word from another. Words like 'ladder,' 'leader,' and 'little' may all sound the same to a child with poor intelligibility. Yet, if the teacher were to ask the child, 'Do you hear me?' the child would likely respond, 'Yes.' One would not expect a young child to answer, 'I hear your voice, but I can't hear the unstressed linguistic markers of plurality and tense; nor can I hear articles, voiceless consonants, or new vocabulary words clearly enough to distinguish from other known words.' Yet, educators are surprised when this same child evidences a lack of vocabulary, a poor intuitive feel for linguistic structure, and trouble keeping up with the 'slow' reading group." (1989)

I thought that was interesting detail to share with those who might not quite understand the complexitites of hearing loss.

Chapter 16 is titled: A Parent's Consideration of Sign Language and Speechreading. She gets into deaf vs Deaf, and how she doesn't feel welcome in the Deaf community, because her son is not exactly deaf. She also makes a very interesting remark about the auditory/oral education debate. "These Deaf people are blaming the auditory/oral education of today for the failures of the past when hearing aids and amplification devices were barely out of the Model-T stage; there were no public school preschools or parent/infant programs. The schools were not even required to try and provide an education for children with disabilities. The improvements in quality of hearing aids and other amplifiers in just the past few years have brought them from the level of a Model-T Ford to a Rolls-Royce." And she wrote that 13 years ago! Now we're talking a Lamborghini. She goes on to say that "peace might come in the next generation." We can only hope.

The book is worth the read, or skim, if you will. In the back she has about 30 pages of "useful tips and thoughts" that I got a few ideas from. I'd actually love to read an "update" about how her son is doing now, probably in his late teens.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


This little blurb was included in the May 2009 issue of Parents magazine.

I'm really glad to hear that they did research on that! But... just ask the parents! Of course there's an improved quality of life... they can hear!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

First Grade Visit

Last week, before we left for California, Lucas, my mom and I went to visit the local early elementary D/HOH classroom. This is the classroom that the local D/HOH preschool feeds into by default. The classroom can serve students K-2, but this year there are 6 students, all in 1st grade, and none with cochlear implants. The school where the classroom is hosted is where my mom taught 2nd grade for the majority of her 36-year teaching career, so she came along to show off Lucas. :)

In general, I was more pleased with this classroom than the preschool classroom. It was less chaotic. Maybe it was because it was a classroom of 6 & 7 year olds, instead of 3 & 4 year olds. But, the physical environment of the classroom was better for hearing impaired children, in my opinion. There was a large rug under their desks, and little outside noise to compete with.

Again, Total Communication is the method of choice here, to accommodate all children. It was apparent that the classroom teacher, in addition to signing, emphasizes speech as she teaches, readily using Visual Phonics to illustrate speech sounds. It's useful for teaching reading, to illustrate that [c] is pronounced as a /k/ versus an /s/, for example. She lent me a video on it.
I came to the healthy conclusion that if Lucas belongs there, I will have no problem sending him there. I think it's a quality classroom for kids who need sign support. I will not push to mainstream him if he needs sign language to support his learning. We're hoping that that's not the case though.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Home Sweet Home

I haven't posted in about a week, because we've been on vacation. But, after 15 hours of traveling yesterday, we're home! (it wasn't supposed to take that long) We flew to sunny San Diego, California for my college roommate's wedding. It was a very magical weekend (for her too!), and was definitely the best wedding I've ever been to. The ceremony and reception took place outside next to the harbor in Oceanside, CA.

We went sans, sin, ohne, otherwise known as *without* Lucas. It was the first time that we've left him for more than an overnight stint. We left on Thursday, and by Saturday, I was pretty homesick for my baby. We still had a great time, but I think a weekend is long enough to be away. But, we were definitely going to maximize our time since we traveled so far.

In addition to bachelor/bachelorette festivities, the welcome dinner, and the wedding, we also managed to visit Old Town San Diego, La Jolla, Del Mar, the San Diego Wild Animal Park, the Oceanside Pier, and drive on the scenic Route 101. Oh yeah, and eat really, really good Mexican food every day, no joke. I couldn't get enough.

Lucas spent time with both sets of grandparents while we were gone, and seemed to do just fine. He was very upset tonight though when I was trying to put him to bed. Every time we would transition - bath to room, getting dressed to reading books, then turning the lights out to go to bed, he would start a very pouty cry, with a fat bottom lip and all, unlike he's ever done for me at bedtime. I think he's afraid I'm going to leave him again. That makes me sad. We won't be leaving him again any time soon.

On Friday, my mom sent me these cute pics!

Let's just say that I really love southern California. And, I'm hoping that my next visit is next summer, with Lucas, to the John Tracy Clinic in Los Angeles, an oral deaf school with a free summer session for children ages 2-5. I can really get my Mexican food fix then, when we're there for 3 weeks! We'll see what happens... I'm still in the dreaming-about-it phase...