Friday, April 10, 2015

Easter Blessings..














Easter is such a bittersweet holiday for me. In 3 days you go from sadness and mourning to extreme joy and thankfulness. Perhaps its just me getting older or perhaps it is closeness of my heavenly Father during this time that makes me so reflective. Easter is quickly becoming my favorite celebration.
We have many little traditions we do to help the kids remember what Easter is truly about and we do some fun, silly traditions that I did as a kid. However, I want them to remember it is about New Birth. It is about a debt that we owed and could not pay, being payed for us.....willingly. 

This year we had Easter celebrations with both sides of the family. We also added something new on Easter Sunday. After church, we went to a nursing home where our church speaks and ministers frequently, and we were so blessed to be able to worship with these elderly saints. We sang 'Amazing Grace, The Old Rugged Cross and Because He Lives". To see them in the state that their bodies are in now looking forward to a day where there will be no more pain and tears was simply beautiful. It's an Easter tradition I would love to continue.

BECAUSE HE LIVES, I CAN FACE TOMORROW
BECAUSE HE LIVES, ALL FEAR IS GONE
BECAUSE I KNOW HE HOLDS THE FUTURE
AND LIFE IS WORTH THE LIVING, JUST BECAUSE HE LIVES

May you know the Peace Jesus can bring.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

DISNEY WORLD

We took a camper and this was the anticipation of going in the gate!




Mike got to be in the Indian Jones Show :)

Nana pulled off something amazing and Noah got to fight Darth Vader...and meet him!



Magic Kingdom was our Favorite!


Swimming in February!!





The fireworks show really was magical!

Laurel's favorite! Rapunzel. We were the last to make it in.

We finished up the trip with Sea World. The shows were amazing.


We took a trip to Disney World. A friend helped us get a wonderful deal and we saved for about a year but we did it! We took a camper down so we could cook throughout the week and save some money and not stop every  5 min for a bathroom break :)
We did Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom (2 days), Animal Kingdom and Sea World. Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios was our favorite. We found out we LOVE roller coasters! We loved  the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Noah hated Expedition Everest but it was Laurel's favorite (backwards roller coaster in the dark while being chased by a Yeti). The Sea World shows were amazing.
We were up earlier each day than we ever get up at home and stayed out waaay to late but we had a blast! Yes, we were exhausted but it really was magical. 
My favorite was the parade and fireworks at Magic Kingdom and then running to do a few more rides before they closed and watching the 10pm parade again. It felt like we had the park  all to ourselves. 
Our kids hung with us incredibly. They were awesome and a pleasure to be with. 
We had a wonderful time with Nana, Poppy and Aunt Michelle. It is definately a trip we will always remember. They rightly call it "The Magic Kingdom". If you stay there long enough, you start believing in the magic yourself :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Bits & Pieces



Laurel & cousin Duncan at the family farm

Visiting with Santa

Noah getting ready for his Singing Recital



Root Beers and Hiking
It has been a little while since I've posted. Homeschooling and life just seems to get in the way :) Christmas was filled with family parties and wonderful times......except we all got the stomach flu. :( It made for some interesting times and I definately missed the wonderful food that came with the holidays. We still had great times together and managed some wonderful memories between the bucket runs ;)  

Noah had his first singing recital. He was so cute and loves to sing. Laurel is enjoying her little filly and hoping to move it here to the farm in a few weeks. So what's coming up soon? A long awaited trip to Disney World. I'm sure there will be LOTS of pics to post of that. The kids are so excited!

Friday, December 5, 2014

On Hearing Impairment.....









I have been asked by a reader to write about Laurel's hearing impairment and how that impacts her daily life as well as what our therapy schedule looks like. Yippee! I get to talk about two of some of my favorite topics, adoption & hearing loss! 
A little background for those who may not know. Laurel was adopted from Ukraine in 2009. She was almost 2 years old and had no hearing aids or therapy prior to adoption. We knew she was deaf and may have some other medical issues when we pursued her. It was a clear calling from God. Deafness terrified me (how would we communicate?, how would I get basic concepts across to her much less concepts about God & Jesus!). However, the Lord clearly told me "I know you can't do this but I can!" So, off we trotted to Ukraine to find our treasure. 
Laurel was born very prematurely which is most likely the cause of her HI. 

When we met Laurel, she had NO speech/language. She would make noises or scream. However, I knew cognitively she was ready to learn it because the first day I visited her I put her hand to my throat and said "Mama" and she repeated it. She also learned to sign, "cracker", "mama" and "cat" the first day I met her and could use them appropriately. We took some signing cards with us and taught her basic signs to reduce frustration for everyone. She was so ready to communicate! She learned so fast. As far as behavior was concerned, she was very stubborn ( which would serve her well), and was all into everything! Most of that was the fact that she was in an orphanage and unable to explore at all so new freedoms were overwhelming. We truly had very little transition issues when home. Once she learned food was always going to be there and started understanding the Signs for "No, Yes, Eat, Drink, names of ppl, bed etc" tantrums decreased. She was very good at reading body language and lips and did not like to stray far from us which helped. I can imagine with a child who is resistant to being near the parent that this would be a challenge.

In Ukraine, Laurel had numerous medical issues on her chart (most of which are not in play at all now) and a few which were surprises. One of those was that when she got to the US, she was put under anesthesia for an ABR (hearing test) and they found she had something called Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder. Even back in 2009 it was a relatively new finding and there was not much information on it. I was scared! She didn't have just Sensorineural Hearing Loss or Conductive Loss but it was this other less known kind. Basically, it means the nerves were "misfiring" somewhere in her ear/brain. It is like a frayed lamp cord, sometimes she would be "on" and sometimes not. I charted her good and bad days and would see that days that a weather front (rainy, windy,cloudy) would be more "bad hearing" days. It is not scientifically backed up at this point but many AN mama's I have talked to notice the same thing. Within 2 months of arriving home, Laurel received and evaluation from our local Developmental Evaluation Services which showed she was behind in all areas of development (duh!) and set her up from OT,  and HI services. She received in home therapy 2 to 3 times a week through them until the age of 4. Within 2 months of being home she was also finally given hearing aids. It took a while because unless she could show on paper an impairment she would not qualify. So, she had to learn to "take the test".(When you hear the beep, a toy will pop out and play so eventually conditioned response would show that she would look back expectantly at the toy when she heard the beep). We were warned that kids with AN may not respond to hearing aids. It was kind of a try and see. 

Now, before we adopted Laurel, we had made the decision that if at all possible we would bring her into a hearing and speaking world. My mother had worked at a school for the deaf and saw the challenges a non speaking/non hearing child would face. We were preparing ourselves for the fact that she may not be able to ever speak or hear but our choice and prayer for her and we believe HER choice would be that she could come as close to "normal" speech and language as possible.  By doing this, it would greatly broaden her circle of friends and family that could communicate with her. That was a decision we had to tell many therapists. Once we made that choice, we were told to quit signing and concentrate on her hearing only. There were times that we were in noisy environments or she was too far away to hear me and I would still supplement signs for her. This decision proved to be a great one for Laurel as she started  to really pick up speech and language. 

When Laurel was 3 she was referred to a local hospital's clinic that specializes in hearing impairments and therapy. She was accepted and started once a week therapy there. It is a wonderful place that teaches the parent to do the therapies at home and we practice. Around the age of 4, it became evident that while Laurel was making some progress, she had plateued and there were some sounds she just could not hear (ex: "s", "f"). We began to think about Cochlear Implants. This was a scary venture for us because in order to do this, all of her residual hearing had to be destroyed to put in the implant. Laurel's right ear was her "good" ear (Moderately Severe). We were reluctant to do this because she could hear some in that ear. However, a few months later, God made up our minds for us which had been our prayer! Her testing showed a gradual decline in that ear. She was losing her hearing. So She was implanted with a Cochlear Implant. It was 3 hr. surgery and she came home that day. She recovered quickly and we eagerly waited the 4 weeks until we could turn the ear on. The big day finally came and when they turned it on, she could hear the beeps!! It was overwhelming to her at first and we started slowly but she gradually started back over with the therapy and made her way back up. It became evident months later that she could hear much more clearly with this implant!! 

During this time, she was accepted into an integrated preschool classroom for hearing impaired and typical children. She had 1 hearing aid and 1 Cochlear Implant. All of the teachers wore microphones and it was a great fit for Laurel. She went to this class for 1 year until Kindergarten. A year after the 1st implant, Laurel was implanted with the 2nd implant. We had to start over on the speech and language chart to catch this ear up but as promised, progress came much more quickly.

Laurel is now 7 years old. Unless people know she is hearing impaired, they usually cannot tell anything is different in her speech. She sounds pretty typical. Her Cochlear Implants made a HUGE difference. She needed them in order to get a clearer signal and be able to process as quickly as she can. She still has days that are harder for her to process speech and language than others. Some days it truly takes several times to tell her something before she understands it. Those days she seems more irritable as well and I believe it is her Auditory Neuropathy. But, those days are much less than with the hearing aids and we have told her about this disorder in order to help her cope with it better. It seems to help her to understand what is going on inside her body She has always had a lot of trouble with music and singing (getting the words in  order). The new Music program on her Implants have helped with that. Most of what she struggles with now is not from the hearing impairment but from the process disorder part of the impairment.  She is learning to read, likes math and is a very smart little girl! She is the hardest working thing I know!

So, our journey has been amazing with Laurel although  not always easy or clear cut. God has always shown up and helped us when we didn't know which path to take. From what I have observed, hearing impairment is kind of an "invisible disability" and it can also mask other issues. However, we live in an amazing age with wonderful devices and therapies to help one live as easily as possible. We are so thankful we took the leap and rescued this girl!
If anyone has any specific questions, please feel free to email me at wrensnest01@hotmail.com.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

CAMPING TRIP









We took a much needed getaway camping trip. No phones, no computers, no tv. We had to pack in all our stuff and hike several miles just to get to our camp. The kids did amazing. We had a lot of laughs and fun. The kids can't wait to go back.