Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Little Guy and Snort have been struggling with their health lately. Around here, the allergens are bad and that always triggers Snort's asthma. Poor little Snort has been struggling with asthma, pneumonia, and allergies for the past week or two. Little Guy is a wheezy mess, too. That's never a good thing when you're doing all you can just to catch up with the "typical" kids. But, these guys are tough and amazing, and they're keeping up with the best of them.

Little Guy has really learned to jabber away. I imagine he's talking to the angels or trying to tell me what Heaven was like before he came here in a desperate effort not to forget what he experienced before he left the arms of a loving Heavenly Father to come to earth. Either way, he's smiling at something whenever he's awake. He gets his arms and legs flailing all over the place, and just coos and jabbers like it's going out of style. We couldn't be more proud of Little Guy. He's been nothing short of a gift straight from Heaven for us.

Snort is making progress, too. This past week, he's had a language explosion. He says Little Guy's name clear as day while he lovingly strokes Little Guy's head. I'll have to try to make a video of it because it's truly precious. As for his walking, well...I'm convinced that he'll be crawling to Kindergarten someday, but who's really counting? We're just calling ourselves blessed that he's improving in his health and language skills. One thing at a time, right?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Early Intervention Perfection

Just look at the way he looks at her with so much love in his eyes! Picture perfect!!

I've mentioned many times about what a wonderful resource I think Early Childhood Intervention is and can be. It has been a pivotal piece of the puzzle for us when it comes to helping the Beast, and really all of my four youngest children. The backbone behind a successful ECI experience is the service coordinator, the person who oversees all of the child's services.

We've had Jo since the Beast was just weeks old. We're very attached to her, and I'd like to think she's at least a little bit fond of us. I remember when the Beast turned three and aged out of services feeling like I'd lost a part of our family in a way. Jo was with us through all of the amazing and wonderful moments in the Beast's first three years. On the same token, she was with us holding our hands and drying our tears when things were at the lowest lows.

When Snort started having vision problems, Jo was the first person we called. I knew we needed ECI, and I wouldn't settle for any service coordinator but her. I know for a fact that she truly is one of the best in the country at what she does, and I always go out of my way to provide my children only the best. (And, I think she's about the best thing for me I can think of, too.) Just like with the Beast, she has been with us for all of Snorts highs and lows. And Pretty's. And now, she's with us while we work with Little Guy.
To understand why we love Jo so much, you really have to see the way my children look at her. It's like her heart can talk to their hearts, and they know she's safe and sincere and that she won't ever let them down. When she pulls up, Pretty squeels with delight and runs to open the door as fast as she can. Not that anyone can understand a word that Pretty says, but she immediately starts jabbering away telling Jo all about the important things in her life. Snort lights up, starts kicking his legs, and sometimes even laughs out loud when he sees her. He waits for her to sit on the floor so he can immediately climb into her lap, stroke her cheeks, and lay his head on her shoulder. He needs her to give her at least ten hugs in the first two minutes.

My kids all have so much going for them. They all have so much hope in terms of what they can be and do in life. They also have their struggles laid out before them. Whether it be speech, hearing, vision, walking, sensory, or any other issue, we know Jo isn't going to let them down. She speaks up for them. She asks questions. She makes sure their mother isn't too far off her rocker.
Why do I put all this out there? Well, for one, I don't think people in Jo's profession get nearly the credit they deserve. "Thanks" isn't something they hear all that often. Secondly, I don't think Jo should be the exception. In an ideal world, Jo and her bond with my children and family could be the norm. Just imagine the success rate that could be with a family who's ECI service coordinator took the time to just know and love their families the way Jo has for us. Imagine what it would be like if parents everywhere could be as empowered as we were because of Jo's skills and her willingness to share them with us. Just imagine the songs that Deaf children everywhere can sing if the people helping them find their voices from so early on were half as dedicated as Jo is for my children. Just imagine...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

We've Finally Joined the Circus!

Well, we didn't really join the circus, but we got to enjoy it for one evening. Dr. Michele called and told us she was a sponsor for the Carson & Barnes Circus, and she offered us some tickets. Actually, she did better than that. She offered tickets to us, our babysitter, and our friends. It was awesome because we wouldn't have been able to haul five kids to the circus on our own without a little bit of help.

The night before the circus, she called to ask which show we were going to. I let her know which one, and she said "Oh, good because I've arranged for the Beast to ride the elephant in the arena". Wowza!!!! What a treat!!

So, off we went and we had such an amazing time. They let the Beast, Number One, Pretty, and me ride the elephant right after intermission, and the Beast was announced as a special guest of the show. He was very proud. Sadly, they don't allow pictures or video in the circus, so our shots aren't so hot. I'm disappointed because this was an amazingly fun time.

The Beast was particularly fond of Alex the Clown. He followed that guy around the whole time, and apparently made friends with him. He was crushed to learn that we couldn't bring Alex home with us, but I think he'll get over it with minimal therapy.
Number One was hungry. At least that's what he claimed the whole time. I did catch a glimpse of him grinning ear to ear with the contortionist and he was a bit starstruck by the daring young man on the flying trapeze.
Pretty was just excited to be there with her friends. She was impressed by all the lights and the loud music.
Snort wasn't sure what he thought of the whole thing. He was just glad to have a binky. (Thank goodness!!!) I think he also loved cuddling with Marlene.
Little Guy was a little overwhelmed with the loud music. Once I took his hearing aids out, he was a happy camper again. That, and he was particularly thrilled to be all cuddled up in a warm blankey where he could snuggle close to me.

No matter how many pictures we did or didn't get, we made some special memories. A special thanks to Dr. Michele and Deana at Allen Hearing Clinic for making our family feel so very loved.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

The Beast was on a mainstream bus all year long. I think I've told you about this. The driver just couldn't deal with him. "He talks too much." "His voice is too loud." "Can you tell him to please stop talking on the bus?" Yeah. It just wasn't working for us. I was frustrated, and the driver was writing him up left and right for bad behavior. In the driver's defense, the Beast did resort to bad behavior to get the driver's attention and to show that he didn't like what was happening on the bus. The driver was right to be upset with the behaviors the Beast displayed later, but it was just silly to freak out about his voice being too loud or talking too much. It's a bus, for goodness sake!

Anyway, we went ahead and moved him to the special ed. bus when we had his ARD a couple weeks ago. What a difference!! The Beast is much happier now. His ride is twice (if not three times) as long as it was before, and he doesn't mind it in the least. The aid on the bus is so patient with him, the driver is much more tolerant of his constant talking, and the other kids on the bus can relate to him a little bit better.

I hated sucking it up and putting him "on the short bus", but I'm so glad I did. In the end, it's not what I want that matters most. It's what is best for my son. And, really what I want is to have him have the best.