Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Motivated.

In just the mere passing of 7 days, this is what has happened here at the homestead. We are nothing if not motivated.
  • Completed the “front porch project” that has been in limbo for nearly 2 years. What was once a concrete slab with a particle board ceiling is now a lovely 3 season screened-in, beautifully tiled and furnished front porch.
  • Had major foundation repairs and new sub-flooring on one side of the house.
  • French drains created in various parts of the yard and around the house. Grass seed planted.
  • Master bedroom has new paint, new carpeting, and new bathroom flooring installed.
  • New paint and miscellaneous improvements made to kitchen.
  • New paint in main bathroom.
  • New paint in hallway and guest bedroom.
  • Plumbing issues corrected.
Now keep your fingers crossed that this little gem of a house will seem as charming to a prospective buyer as it does to us!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Transition Time

I’ve been gearing up for Ethan’s transition from early intervention services into the local school district. We’ll have a transition meeting on May 1st followed by loads of evaluations, followed by the meeting where we create Ethan’s IEP, or individual education plan for special services.

Some might think that my background in education would make me uniquely prepared for this experience, but that would be wrong. I had very little interaction with IEP’s as a teacher because most of the time I was the technology teacher who worked with the staff to meet their curricular goals using the computer lab. I didn’t have to teach content area standards or make any adjustments to my classroom to accommodate kids with IEP’s. In fact, what I find most interesting looking back on my experiences is that those kids who were “special ed” were far and away the most naturally gifted users of all the technology in my lab. I can remember 2 boys in particular who as 5th and 6th graders were reading far below grade level, yet they would unpack scanners, printers, and digital cameras and then proceed to teach the staff on their use. I saw their self-esteem soar and in the process realized why I loved being their teacher.

I changed positions from technology to language arts in the final year of my employment there. I was pregnant with Ethan and planning to take a one or two-year break, completely unaware that I was about to have a special needs child of my own. I sat in on several IEP meetings that year, even though none of the kids in my classes were identified with an IEP. I was amazed at how inefficient and poorly run these meetings seemed. I saw parents become defensive and emotional, and rightfully so. I was ashamed of the way the people in my school conducted themselves in these meetings and could not believe the lack of focus and interest in the actual student they were meant to be helping.

So now I’m preparing to go into a meeting with a room full of school staff who have never met Ethan or me and who have no earthly idea of what we’ve been through or how far we’ve come. I have the task of making sure he gets the strongest IEP goals we could possibly write and that all of his therapy needs are addressed in an appropriate way and not just framed by what the school can conjure up to offer. And then I have to take this IEP into a new school district in a new city and convince those people that it’s necessary to place him out of district in a school for the deaf where the other children sign and can communicate with him.

Whenever I imagine Ethan in a preschool class where the children speak and don’t know sign language, I think of him being unable to develop basic language skills. How will he participate in conversations? How will he be able tell his own stories? How will he enjoy reciting rhymes and songs?

Will he just look at books by himself?

No way man, not my kid.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's all about Me!


I've been tagged by Leah over at Say What Munchins blog for the following meme. While I'm ordinarily not much for memes, there are some parents of deaf and hard of hearing children participating in the meme and this is an opportunity for all of us to get to know each other a bit better. I'm all for that.
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What I was doing 10 years ago:

I was working in a nonprofit organization and living with Rich in a beautiful home in the woods. 

Five snacks I enjoy:
1. Red licorice
2. Soy chai
3. Popcorn
4. Cookies (my chocolate chip recipe)
5. Edamame (fancy term for soybeans)

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Freak Out!
2. Hire a financial advisor! (and likely a lawyer)
3. Become a philanthropist
4. Hire a full-time reflexologist
5. Travel with Rich & Ethan

Five jobs that I have had:
1. Waited tables in multiple places, my favorite being Mackinac Island, Michigan
2. Worker-owner in a cooperatively owned restaurant
3. Teacher- adult basic literacy class 
4. Teacher- English as a Second Language
5. Teacher-Computer Science

Three of my habits:
1. Baking cookies
2. Reading blogs 
3. Cleaning up after Ethan

Five places I have lived:
1. Mackinac Island, Michigan
2. Roanoke, Virginia
3. Several towns in Ohio (a total of 6, about to make that 7)
4. See #3
5. See #3

Add a new part to the meme: What countries have you been to and which is your favorite?

France, Spain, Swaziland, South Africa, Jamaica, and Canada

I left a piece of my heart in Africa, but my favorite place to visit of those countries is Canada. Rich and I took Via Rail in the winter of 95 from Vancouver to Toronto, stopping for a break in Alberta where we explored for a few days. The views of the Canadian Rockies from the train were breathtaking. We've also done a driving tour of Nova Scotia (and PEI) and fell in love with the scenery. I've spent some time in Halifax (for work) and LOVED the city and the friends that I made. The next time we're up north we have to see Quebec City and Montreal. 

-heather

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Doctoring Update

This might be a first for me, publishing two posts in one day. I guess I'm just making use of the time while I have it available. It's not likely to last with a move on the horizon. We're doing lots of beautification around here, which is no simple task with a 2 year old on the scene.

I have a few noteworthy things to report from Ethan's visit at Children's last week:

Ethan is "significantly apraxic". I've been well aware of it for many months, but having it put in those terms during a diagnostic visit has left me feeling sad and depressed. But Ethan has always defied nature and our expectations and I've no doubt he'll continue to do so as he grows.

Apraxia is a serious neurological disorder that effects the ability to speak. Acquired apraxia is common in adults who have suffered a stroke. Developmental apraxia is found in young children who are learning speech and it often accompanies other neurological conditions such as hypotonia and sensory integration dysfunction, both of which Ethan has always had.

What is bringing me hope right now is the thought of moving to Cincinnati and getting Ethan enrolled in St. Rita's School for the Deaf which has a preschool class designed for apraxic children, most of whom actually can hear. They use speech and sign to help these children communicate and the environment is Montessori based. It's an IDEAL setting for our boy and I hope that the price tag doesn't prevent him from being enrolled. If we move into a cooperative enough school district we should get some support, so that is the guiding factor as to where we will actually live. It's tricky and there are no guarantees, but we're hoping for the best and could use a little magic or prayers if you've got either one to offer.

The developmental doctor urged us to give melatonin another try for Ethan's horrible sleep habits. We tried it about a year ago and saw no changes and decided to stop. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland that regulates sleep. We gave Ethan a dose last night and he fell asleep in about one hour, which is a big improvement over the usual 2 or 3 hours that it takes for him to settle into sleep. He slept a total of 11 hours last night only tossing and turning for about 45 minutes in the middle. So I'm cautiously optimistic about this new possibility. If he started sleeping like a typical child his age, that would pretty much rock my world. So again, keeping my fingers crossed.

We were also pleased to hear that Ethan is in the 10th percentile for weight, which is still quite small, but a huge leap for him considering that most of his life he has been in the 3rd percentile or not even on the chart to begin with. I give ALL the credit here to Marylee, the beautiful and spunky OT that has taught me so much about how to make creative and healthy foods that appeal to his needs. I'm sure we'll find a good OT in Cincy, but honestly no one can replace Marylee in my mind.

Lastly, Ethan has been given new maps for both processors. His "new ear" has virtually caught up to the "old ear" and he performed equally well with both in the sound booth. He now has a map for each ear that is specifically designed to enhance the experience of listening to music. Now how about that? So totally Sci-Fi isn't it?

I'll leave you with a picture of our boy playing peek-a-boo in his fort. He's wearing my favorite article in his wardrobe, the Harvard sweatshirt Rich bought him recently in Boston.



Crime Update!

Looking back, I wonder if I wasn't being just a bit sarcastic when I wrote that I had a "captivating" story about the capture of our thief. It's likely only captivating to my neighbors, who are mostly in their 80's and 90's and very worried about the theft since none of them have experienced crime in over 40 years of living on this street.

One evening I ran out to the store and had so much to carry into the house (including Ethan), that I decided to just leave my purse in the car. I forgot to close the garage door that night, and wouldn't you know, the next morning my purse was gone!

Rich quickly took care of making all the necessary calls and cancellations for me and we filed a police report. It seems that the thief (or thieves as it may be) hit the whole town that night.

Within a day or two we had a phone call from our bank about a man who had forged one of my checks. They told us that they were notifying the police and handing over surveillance video.

We basically never had an ounce of faith that our police would solve this case and locate the guy. Ask anyone who lives here about our police department and you'll be met with a less than positive review accompanied by a few sneers or smirks. They're basically too tied up with busting college students to make time for real crime. I figured they'd only find the guy if he walked into the department and turned himself in.

But they found him!

They were watching the surveillance video of his face when someone realized that the guy in the orange jumpsuit in shackles across the room looked remarkably similar to the guy in the video!

He had just been caught and sentenced to prison for something totally unrelated. He confessed to the crime and named 2 accomplices who have yet to be found.

As for me, I made out like a bandit. Rich felt sorry for me and surprised me with a new iPhone! So now I'm that person that I've always been irritated by, the one who is always staring into a small device in her hands and ignoring the world around her.

So don't feel sorry for me; getting my purse stolen turned out to produce a little entertainment and a fancy new gadget. I'm a lucky girl.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Still Kickin'

Just a quick update to let folks know that we're all alive and well. Things have spun into high gear in this house as we prepare to sell, all whilst keeping up with a demanding travel schedule for Ethan's appointments. Tomorrow we will make the 3 hour drive to our future home in order for Ethan to have a speech evaluation (for apraxia) as well as a cochlear implant mapping session and a visit with our favorite developmental pediatrician on the planet. Seriously, she *is* that cool. We hope to have enough time to tour a few neighborhoods but overall it will be a whirlwind trip.

Ethan and I escaped to the Blue Ridge last week to stay with Gram & Gramps while our house saw a fair amount of sawdust and plywood. Things are changing here as we head into the world of realtors, banks, and inspections. It's stressful, but we're maintaining our cool as usual. Haha! I'm not even kidding, we are unbelievably zen under the conditions. Well, I guess Rich is the one staying calm and collected while I head out of town to relax with the grandparents :-)

My dad and I spent a lovely day together last week and I've got one picture to show for it. (Still trying to get the pics off my new phone/camera that I got as a result of my purse being stolen last week!) We visited VMI, UVA, and Monticello. I was most excited to see Monticello as I just finished the book John Adams and have been loving the HBO production.

And to top off this ramble of a post, you'll be pleased to know that our city police just stopped by to inform me that the person who forged my checks in the bank last week is in prison. It's a captivating story that I don't have time to tell. My boy is yawning in his high chair experiencing a little benign neglect...

Will be back soon. With pictures, Eileen. :-)


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Oh, I've been offline for over a week and have yet to get caught up on my blog reading, so I hope that you are all doing well and enjoying some nice spring weather.