An Update–And Junior’s Exciting News

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Is it me, or is 2017 going be at light speed? I mean, seriously. Wasn’t it just Christmas???

It has been insane around here. The week after Christmas, I surprised my husband with a long family weekend in Yosemite for his birthday. The day after we returned, my husband came down with the flu. He was down for a full week. Then both kids got it. Three days after we finally had health back in our home, we left for my husband’s business trip and had our Apocalypse III Blizzard experience.

The week after we returned from that trip in early February, my husband ended up in the ER and needed immediate surgery. He had a second surgery a couple weeks later, and spent the rest of February and most of March recovering. Then Junior started soccer, we got caught up in our schoolwork, and both kids began karate lessons. So, that, in a nutshell has been our year so far. So forgive me for not updating sooner =)

One exciting update has to do with Junior’s therapy. Since he was a baby, he’s suffered from sensory issues, eventually gaining him a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder. We’ve been seeing an OT since he was 2. He’s going to be 5 next month, and we just received the results of his latest sensory profile test. He no longer has SPD! He has shed that diagnosis, and now his only diagnosis is deafness.

So that is exciting. He is starting a second weekly speech therapy session in attempts to get his speech up to peer level. Though he is almost 5, his speech is closer to that of a 3.5 year old, so we are hoping an additional session will help him bridge that gap sooner.

So, that’s the latest from us. Hopefully things slow down a bit. I have a lot of fun school activities and projects I’ve been wanting to post as well!

Making a Screen Time Fast Work for Your Family

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A couple weeks ago, I had posted about our family’s journey to eliminating screen time. We are now two months without screen time, and the change in Junior’s attitude and speech quality has been nothing short of exceptional. We just returned from a road trip in which we spent 24 hours in the car over 4 days, and the kids did not use any electronic games or toys. Junior played with Play-Doh for four hours. Four hours. A couple months ago, I wouldn’t have thought he were capable of 4 minutes on any one activity. Ask Junior if he wants the iPad now, and he says  “no, it’s bad for my brain.” He is SO much more regulated and able to cope with life better. The several times I have turned a show on since we completed the fast has ended in a major meltdown within a couple of hours.

Several people have mentioned that they would like to try the screen time elimination, but don’t know where to start, because the thought of removing screen time from their child’s world is overwhelming. Here are some tips on making the transition a little easier:

1. I highly recommend the book, “Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time” as it gives all the reasons behind the why and how of screen time influence on children’s brains and it also outlines the entire screen time fast.

2. For the first few days, I suggest coming up with activities to keep the kids out of the house. The first few days are the hardest part of the withdrawal period, and if kids are out being active, they won’t be as tempted to ask for a show or the iPad. Go to the playground, take the kids bowling, go for a hike…just make sure you have a few days of being out of the house for the most part.

3. Have fun activities scheduled for a while. For the most part, I’m not a fan of scheduling out activities, but for the first week of the fast (after a couple days of being out of the house), it helps to have some activities scheduled. I had several craft projects set up, as well as some science experiments, board game time, and recipes to make together.

My Favorite Screen Free Games and Toys

Believe it or not, there are more ways to entertain kids out there than just video games, iPads, and movies. Here are some of my kid’s favorite things to do:

  • Legos
    • If your kids prefer less open-ended activities, there are many “Lego Building Challenge” ideas on Pinterest.
  • Wooden Blocks
  • Magnetic Blocks
    • These magnetic blocks are one of my all-time favorite toys. The kids learn a lot about 3-D shapes, can build impressive structures, and Junior even sticks them to his cochlear implant magnets :)
  • Art Supplies
    • Keeping a good stock of paper, paints, crayons, markers, watercolors, stickers, glitter glue, and scissors make for hours of creative fun.
  • Car Races
    • Even my 8 year old daughter loves building Hot Wheels tracks!
  • Outdoor Toys
    • Inexpensive things like sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and little shovels are outdoor staples to have on hand.
    • Sandboxes, ride-ons, and water tables also keep kids having fun outside.

Even if you’re overwhelmed with the thought of starting a screentime fast, I promise it will be worth it. I didn’t know how I was going to do it–after all, I needed the break and I thought that the iPad was the only thing that would calm Junior down in a meltdown (which were happening multiple times a day). Now that the screens are gone, the meltdowns have ceased as well and I realized that the devices I thought were helping the problem were actually making it worse.

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Four Years Later…

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Junior turns 4 next week. It’s been four years. Nearly half a decade. 1461 Days.

And yet it still feels like yesterday.

I’ve shared a little bit about Junior’s birth story, and the difficult and painful months leading up to his birth with the death of a parent among other trials, followed by the difficult and painful months after his birth as we came to learn about the reality of having a special needs child.

The last four years have been a roller coaster, and it’s changed me. In some amazing and wonderful ways, and some not so great ways. I’ve learned unconditional love, compassion, empathy, and the value of taking nothing for granted. But, I’ve also experienced grief, overwhelming days, anxiety about his future, and exhaustion. I try to accentuate the best parts of our journey, but some days, weeks, and months are just hard. But, would I change anything about him? Not a thing.

The ups and downs of having a special needs child are impossible to explain unless you’ve been there. The little milestones keep us going…the one year old who can finally turn to the sound of his name being called. The two and a half year old who sleeps through the night for the first time, the almost-4-year old who can make it through an entire dinner at a restaurant without having a meltdown, and asks for juice instead of grunting for it.

Some of these little milestones were years in the making. It took a year of speech therapy after receiving his implant before Junior could even hear the “Sh” sound, and another 18 months before he could actually say it. It took 2 years of occupational therapy to get him to sit still in a chair coloring for just 3 minutes. Three years of auditory verbal therapy before he could string together a sentence.

But, they say the harder you have to work for something, the more satisfaction it brings. The joy on his face when we turn his “ears” on every morning is like a new miracle each day. Every new word he utters makes me proud, and gives me hope. I must have dozens of Junior’s renditions of You Are My Sunshine, Blessed Assurance, and Amazing Grace recorded onto my phone because I just can’t get enough of hearing him sing.

Four years ago, I could never have imagined this path we were about to take. This world of deafness, cochlear implants, AVT, SPD, OT, audiologists, sleepless nights, and behavioral screenings. Of love, joy, hope, compassion, and contentment.

Because four years ago, this little boy turned me into the person I was supposed to be. His mom.

Happy birthday baby boy.

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No Matter What Anyone Else Says…

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Like many children, I was bullied and teased throughout my school years. I was profoundly deaf in one ear, my legs twisted in instead of out so I walked funny, I had severe permanent skin depigmentation on my neck, chest, and stomach, and I had to wear very strong glasses. Looking back, I also had sensory issues that would have been labeled if I were a child today. Apparently, I was different from all the other kids, and they made sure to tell me about it.

But, my parents worked hard to make sure I never felt different. The things that could have been considered impediments were just a part of who I was. My parents constantly encouraged me that I will always have something worthwhile to offer, no matter what anyone else says. That everyone has a special gift or talent to share with the world. They inspired me to find the things I could do, instead of focusing on the things I couldn’t do.

My parents always encouraged me in whatever activities I wanted to undertake. I had a hard time running for any distance, but baseball became my passion from a young age. I would spend hours poring over statistic books and sports magazines and watching my favorite Major League Baseball team play. I struggled with handwriting and anything that required fine motor skills, but exceled in spelling, eventually reaching the State Spelling Bee twice. My single sided deafness made it hard to play group games on the school playground because it was too noisy to hear, but in carving out a quiet place, I was able to have meaningful conversations with kids who would later become lifelong friends.

My parents told me I was enough, over and over, day after day, even when I didn’t feel like it. They made me feel like I was enough by always encouraging me to find my strengths and offering praise when I improved in any area I struggled in, however insignificant a gain.

Fast forward, I’m all grown up and now the mommy of a precious little boy who is profoundly deaf in both ears and also has severe sensory processing disorder that impacts our everyday life. I desperately want to give him the same gift that my parents gave me. The gift of enough. I want him to feel loved, talented, confident, and full of worth. Even–no, especially–when he realizes that he may be a little different than other kids.

I want to help him find the things that he will excel in, the things that will bring him a sense of accomplishment, and help him focus on those, while instilling in him the courage and tenacity to try to improve in the areas where he is challenged. His limitations can be turned into assets if he has the right frame of mind. He has so very much to offer this world, and I never want him to forget it just because his talents look different than someone else’s.

Despite any limitations that seem to stand in our way, each one of us has some unique and special gift or talent to offer, no matter what anyone else says.

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Top 10 Posts of 2015

It’s somehow 2016, and I know I say this every January, but how on earth is last year already over?

Our family had a pretty good year altogether–if you don’t count a rocky December, but I’ll talk about that in another post. Our year consisted of several road trips, lots of school, and some pretty exciting milestones from Junior.

Here are my Top 10 Posts of 2015…which post was your favorite?

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9.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8.

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5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.
Niagara Falls and Upstate NY with Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3,

30 Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.
10 Reasons Having a Child with Cochlear Implants is Awesome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
1. Sharing Secrets…A Look Back at Diagnosis Day

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