Saturday, August 3, 2013

What we've been up to

It's been awhile, huh? I sort of feel like I'm meeting up with an old friend. Hi, how's it going? What's new? Pull up a seat and sip your vanilla latte Really? That's my favorite, too! while we chat.

So what's new with us? Tons! In the 9 months since my last blog post, Evelyn has become a sassy toddler, Liam turned four (and is still as inquisitive as ever), and my husband graduated from college. And I...well, I've just been trying to stay sane! Having a spirited preschooler and demanding toddler are no joke. Here are a few things we've been busy with this summer.

1) Speech therapy - Evelyn started weekly speech therapy sessions in May and has made amazing progress. We have been so impressed at her growing vocabulary and have nothing but praise for Ms. Kelly. Evelyn loves playing with her and I really feel like she is finally starting to come out of her shell a bit.
2) Preparing for preschool - Liam will be starting preschool in the fall! He will be going three mornings a week and staying for lunch. We are confident he's going to flourish in school, learning social skills and gaining independence.

3) Soccer lessons - These have been...interesting, to say the least. There's nothing cuter than watching eight 3-5 year olds run around with soccer balls...even when your stubborn child refuses to participate by crouching down in the middle of the gym floor. Next up, basketball!
4) Keeping plants alive - Liam and I are developing our green thumbs. Our two lucky plants are a daisy plant (sans the actual daisies; they have been MIA so far, perhaps because it's too hot?) and parsley. Liam enjoys watering them with our big red watering can, making sure they're getting adequate sunlight, and discussing how "very, very, very tall, tall like up!" they will grow, as he stretches his arm up as high as he can reach. 
5) Minimizing A couple months ago I found a minimizing forum on the mom site I frequent, and through them I found The Minimalists. I have really enjoyed reading their essays and I even have some on my Kindle for when I have a few minutes to veg on the couch at the end of the day. 

Right now I'm focusing on purging any and all items we simply don't use or need. On a "good week" I will easily donate or toss (but mostly donate) a regular sized trash bag of stuff. And by stuff I mean just that, stuff. Outgrown clothes, books I have owned for years but never even read, excess socks (because really, I don't need 25 pairs of socks!), old craft supplies, toys the kids don't play with, you get the idea. I still have a long way to go, and who knows if I will ever be an "extreme" minimalist, but I am determined to live a more simple and minimal existence. 

So what have you been up to this summer?   

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Daily Seven

It's been about six weeks since we started our new routines around here and things are going well. It's amazing how my job change has affected everyone in a positive way. I'm not nearly as grumpy at the end of the day and I actually enjoy taking care of the household more than I used to. Since I'm working less and my husband is working more (overtime at work and 12 credit hours at school) I have been trying to keep the apartment tidier so that we can all live in a less stressful environment. This is really no easy feat for me as I am not a naturally neat person (woah, but I'm poet, apparently!) and I also have two very demanding little ones. 

A few weeks ago I came across an awesome blog that is written by a young woman like myself who also lives in an apartment. She's a bit crunchier than I am and is already well on her way to living a more simple life. I really enjoy her blog because it gives me motivation to work towards a much more simple existence. 
Last month she blogged about The Daily Seven, which is basically a list of seven daily habits to keep your household running a bit more smoothly. I thought this was the perfect way to help me stay on top of things so I revised her list a bit for my own use. 

Laura's Daily Seven: 

1. Get out of the house on time. I have never been a morning person, even after having two babies. Thankfully my kids aren't usually up at the crack of dawn but when they do get up they require no less than 394387 things. Diaper changes, bottle for Evelyn, healthy breakfast for Liam, help Liam find this one particular book that he must have, chase Evelyn out from under the table, etc. Most mornings I will end up waiting for Grandma (my mom who watches the kids while I'm at work) to arrive before I get dressed. Then I will chat with her for a few minutes, throw some coffee in my travel mug, give the kids kisses, tell them to be good for Grandma while I'm gone, and run out the door. 

2. Do one load of laundry. Laundry is far from my favorite chore and unfortunately it seems to multiply by the hour. I find it a lot less overwhelming to do one or two loads a day rather than try to spend an entire weekend tackling Mt. Laundry. I also don't use a laundry basket for clean laundry because in the past when I dumped clothes from the dryer into a basket they never got put away. No one wants to go rummaging through a pile of wrinkled clothes looking for a pair of underwear.

3. Keep the kitchen sink clean. a tough one. Dishes are another thing that seem to multiply by the hour. They aren't overwhelming if I stay on top of them but if I go to bed with a pile of dishes in the sink I don't feel like touching them the next day. Fast forward to the next day and there are even more random dishes sitting around and even less desire to do anything with them. Must remedy this situation.

4. Wipe down the bathrooms. This is also a tough task. I hate cleaning bathrooms but I know it will be a lot less overwhelming if I do a quick wipe down every night. 

5. Clean up after myself. I admit, sometimes I am down right lazy. It's not uncommon for me to leave a dirty bowl on the kitchen counter or have three pairs of shoes near the front door. I really need to just take the extra 10 seconds to put items away where they belong the first time. It makes straightening up at the end of the day easier and it also provides a good example for my kids. 

6. Review the next day's schedule. Once I get focused on a daily routine I totally space about phone calls I need to make, appointments I need to take the kids to, or activities I have already planned. In fact, just a few weeks ago I had completely forgotten about Evelyn's Early Intervention session until her teacher was knocking on the door! I must have looked really frazzled when I opened the door and said "Oh, it's the 30th, isn't it?" It's not that these sessions and appointments aren't important; it's just that time runs away from me and before I know it another two weeks have passed and it's time for a visit from Shannon. I really must make it a habit to review my calendar and to do list the night before so I know exactly what to expect the next day.

7. Ten minute clean up before bed. This is self explanatory and a GREAT idea. Before I go to bed I pick up any random toys or books, finish loading the dishwasher, put away any laundry, wipe down the table, etc. 

I like having a list of things I need to do each day because it seems less overwhelming. Of course, there are some days that I don't do everything on this list (like the bathrooms...I really hate cleaning bathrooms!) and that's okay. Life is unpredictable, especially with a 3 year old and a baby!

Do YOU have a daily seven list or something similar? Please feel free to share! :D

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hearing Loss Links

I thought I would start a list of helpful websites for other parents and caregivers of children with hearing loss. I will add to this as needed. - This is a great organization here in North Carolina with a ton of information on their website. - Sound clips to get an idea of how hearing loss sounds as compared to normal hearing. - Good information about hearing impaired children in school settings. - You can order Safe n' Sound clips and other cute hearing aid accessories here. Big thanks to Amy, who found this website! - An easy to understand explanation of audiograms. - Fun ways to decorate hearing aids or cochlear implants. This website has a lot of information about deafness and cochlear implants as well. - I just recently learned about these hats from Hanna Andersson. These are highly recommended by the hearing impaired community for little ones that like to pull out their hearing aids! They come in white, gray, pink, and blue.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Few Changes

It's been almost two months since my last blog post! I'm constantly thinking about this little blog of mine and what I will write about next. I get ideas and then they never quite transpire to an actual post. Then I will read some of my favorite blogs (mostly ones about organizing and living simply) and feel totally inadequate with my little humble abode of a blog...because really, that's what this thing is. I have dreams of a cool domain name and a really pretty layout and tons of awesome, faithful followers...I guess in order for all of that to happen I need to blog more! My latest plan for wheels is to categorize my posts into things like hearing loss (my main topic), household topics (like how awesome baking soda and vinegar are), and my latest goal, living more simply. I'm hoping that now that I am working less (see below) I can devote a bit more time to blogging.

So, times are a' changin' in the S Household! The first change is my job. My sweet, amazing, caring, sympathetic husband had been telling me for years to find a new job. He even gave me the okay to totally quit my job after I had Evelyn, but unfortunately things just didn't work out. We really needed my income and I reluctantly continued to work because ya know, "Baby needs new shoes!". Things at work became more and more stressful and the majority of the time (okay, ALL of the time) I felt completely overwhelmed with Life. Two small kids, one with audiologist appointments and Early Intervention sessions, one that was well into the Terrible Two's and ridiculously out of control at times, and a husband who, because he is such a hard worker and wants only what's best for our family, was gone a lot. I couldn't handle working full time and being the mom and wife I feel like I need to be. We had mountains of laundry to tackle, dinners to cook, phone calls to make, a sick cat to tend to, a demanding baby (I love my dear Evelyn but boy is she high maintenance!), and our sweet Liam who needed more attention and discipline. 

With the way work was going I threw myself into updating my resume and scouring the internet for a less stressful, part time job. And I FOUND IT! The perfect job! I was offered the job at my interview, slept on the decision for a night, talked with my husband, and accepted it the next morning. I NEEDED bad. And now I'm working 9-1 Monday to Friday for an awesome woman that I am really beginning to look up to. I love working in the mornings and getting it out of the way (because it IS still a job), then coming home to my still smiling children. The afternoons are spent going to doctor appointments, running errands, Evelyn's Early Intervention twice a month, and trying to catch up on household chores. I'm way less stressed now and I really feel like I'm well on my way to finding a better balance of work and family.

In addition to my new job, my husband got a new job, too! For the past year he has been working as an independent contractor but just a couple weeks ago he landed a permanent, salaried position! Needless to say, the kids and I are so proud of him :). He will continue to have a very busy schedule for at least another year; working full time and a 12 credit hour course load this semester (with the goal of completing his degree by the end of next year), as well as National Guard duties.

Overall, this summer is ending on a great note. Stay tuned for some more hearing aid chit chat, hopefully this weekend!

Monday, July 9, 2012

this isn't just going to go away.

I haven't been blogging as frequently as I had planned to. One reason is because of how busy we've been these last couple of months. In May we spent time running errands and taking Liam to the park. We got the kids pictures taken professionally for the first time since Liam turned one (so Evelyn's very first time - at six months old!) and of course celebrated Mother's Day. Evelyn had an audiologist appointment where she got new ear molds and started sound booth testing and then at the end of the month I picked up a horrible case of pink eye. Not a fun way to begin the summer, let me tell you! At the beginning of June we traveled to Florida to visit my husband's family and the kids went to the beach for the first time. A few days after returning from our trip my husband left for AT (annual training with the National Guard) for two weeks and unfortunately missed both Father's Day and Liam's third birthday. He's home now and we have a decent summer routine going for our family. Next month we plan on taking the kids on a day trip to the beach and then Dan will be starting school again. Whew! What a busy (and not to mention HOT!) summer!

Another reason why I haven't blogged recently is the fact that I'm having a hard time dealing with Evelyn's hearing loss and aids. I hate to admit it but I want to be honest with myself and with others on this blog. I would love for my blog to help other parents who are going through similar situations or are just starting this journey. I love sharing our experience through blogging and in order to continue to do so I have to be honest.

We're so fortunate in that our area has quite a few organizations that specifically reach out to babies and children with hearing loss and their families. In addition to Early Invention (Evelyn's "teacher" is so nice and helpful; she works only with kids with hearing loss) there is a large non-profit group throughout our whole state called Beginnings. We have someone who has been assigned to us that met with me early on and provided a ton of information. She has a son who is profoundly deaf so she can relate on a personal level. One of the amazing things about Beginnings is that they follow hard of hearing children and their families up until age 21! Many services for Evelyn will have phased out way before she turns 21 or even 18 so it's great to know that there will still be someone to turn to for support or advice. Evelyn's hearing loss could possibly be progressive (meaning it will get worse as time goes on) so we will definitely need support if that's the case.

Another group that is local to our area is called Hitch Up - Hearing Impaired Toddlers and Children Have Unlimited Potential. Way back in February, during our very first trip to the pediatric audiologist at UNC, we met a sweet woman and her adorable daughter in the waiting room. She mentioned the support group and invited us to a meeting; they meet once a month at a church and even provide childcare. I'm looking foward to attending a meeting within the next couple of months. I really think it would help me to talk with other parents and of course see all of their thriving children!

I don't think many parents anticipate having children with special needs. I know I didn't. The last thing I expected after having my daughter was to be learning about audiograms and picking out ear mold colors. The newborn hearing screening at the hospital before discharge is one of the last things that come between birth and being able to take your little one home. I never knew it would have such an impact on us but man, am I thankful for it!

Now it's time to charge onward and see what else this first year with Evelyn has in store for us. I'm determined to be strong for my girl and the rest of my family. I need to redirect my focus from trying to sweep this hearing loss diagnosis under the rug (and I shamefully have been; I know that Evelyn's hearing aids are so important to her developing speech skills on time. However, it's easier to not even try to wrestle an 8 month old and a set of hearing aids that cost more than your car when you're already juggling SO MUCH else!) to being the biggest supporter my daughter will ever have. She needs her hearing aids on as much as possible so that she can learn to be a big chatterbox like her big brother! We will continue with her early invention twice a month and in just a couple weeks she'll be heading back to the audiologist!

Hopefully my next blog post won't be two months from now :). I have a few ideas for posts; some are about Evelyn and hearing loss and some will be about one of my favorite subjects (besides my kids of course) - FOOD!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment, ask me a question, or link my blog to someone else you know in the hearing loss world!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Only the cool kids wear pink hearing aids

Of course it has been a month since I last posted. I tend to get very gung-ho about things for oh, about half a second, and then toss the idea to the back burner. Oh well. In my defense, I have been really busy with working and taking care of the little ones. Most of my days are jam packed with work, playing with the kids, laundry, making sure everyone is fed and somewhat clean, random errands, catching up with my husband (who is super busy, too!), etc. Life is just so BUSY and it's easy to lose your sense of time in the whirlwind of day to day activities. I can't believe how fast the month of April has gone by! Here's hoping May goes a bit slower because I have so many plans and activities in mind; I'd love to do a lot of outside activities this coming month before the heat and humidity of summer have us craving central air conditioning and popsicles :).

This past Thursday was a huge day for our little Evelyn - she finally got her first pair of hearing aids! They are light pink Phonak Nios S H2O and man, are these new-fangled hearing aids fancy schmancy! Of course, before Evelyn's diagnosis I wasn't at all familiar with assistive technology but from what I understand these hearing aids are a great option for babies and children.

This is the part that goes behind the ear. 
The tubes are connected to ear molds that fit inside her ear canal.
(Picture from Phonak's website - )

So far everything is going quite smoothly. Evelyn hasn't seemed bothered much at all with these contraptions in and behind her ear, which has made this whole process a lot less stressful! However, because babies grow so quickly, her current set of ear molds are already on the small side. They took the impressions last month during her MRI and ABR appointment so that tells you just how quickly baby's ears grow! They made new impressions on Thursday (which is a funny looking process - they squirt a bunch of bubblegum looking stuff into her ear and wait for it to set; sort of looks like she has a huge wad of gum stuck in her ear!) and they'll be ready at the end of May. This new set is going to be pink to match the hearing aids themselves. You wouldn't believe how many colors they have to choose from! Red, green, blue, pink, yellow, black, nude, transparent (like the ones she has now), as well as glitter and confetti options. Reminds me of going to the orthodontist and getting brightly colored bands for my braces, except I'm pretty sure these darn ear molds are more expensive than those tiny bands!

Ever since we learned of Evelyn's hearing loss, I have been really interested in knowing just how and what she can hear. What do certain noises sound like to her? What does she hear when we speak? To her it sounds completely "normal" because she has never heard anything different. This is why it's so important for hearing loss to be detected as early as possible. Since Evelyn is already aided she should be able to correctly hear and learn all of the sounds of speech from the beginning.

A couple of months ago I came across an interesting section on the Phonak website by simply Googling "how hearing loss sounds". It has sound clips of things like a loudspeaker, animals, music and a ringing telephone. Each sound has a clip for what it sounds like with normal hearing, what it sounds like with mild hearing loss, and what it sounds like with moderate loss. It's pretty interesting and can help someone with normal hearing get an idea of what things sound like for those with a hearing loss. You can check it out for yourself here.

Of course I can't talk about Evelyn's nifty new hearing aids without pictures so I'm leaving you with a few. Thanks for reading!

The black piece and pink tether is called a Safe n' Sound band.   


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Evelyn's Ears

My daughter, Evelyn Hope, was born six (long!) days late but fortunately she came on her own time. She had a rough first day of her life which involved just about 22 hours in the special care nursery. I think one of the hardest things I've ever had to do is be without her for that first day. After she was born I held her for just a few minutes, just long enough to look her over in complete awe, and then they whisked her away with her daddy to the nursery. The nurses in the special care nursery said she was a "spitfire" and they were right. She's been a tough little thing ever since day one and I have a feeling she'll get even tougher as the years go on, following big brother Liam around.

In North Carolina all newborns are mandated to receive a newborn hearing screening before being discharged from the hospital. Evelyn failed her first one. And her second one. And her third one. We were discharged with instructions in hand to bring her back to the hospital in three weeks for screening number four. No big deal, right? I knew she would pass it and that would be that. Well, she referred (it's technically not failing as it's not a test, it's a screening) yet again and was sent to an ENT/audiologist office about a month later. By this point I was a tad concerned but there was no way our daughter had any problem hearing. Looking back, this may have been when the denial started. I told everyone that, you know, those ear probes they put in her ears kept falling out! Of course she couldn't hear the sounds they were playing when the probes weren't even in properly. Her ear canals were just too tiny for their probes (not like they don't do it every single day to other babies!), no way my baby had anything wrong with her.

Two days before Christmas I took Evelyn to her appointment with the audiologist. The type of hearing test they do for babies is called an auditory brainstem response, or ABR for short. A baby has to be sound asleep to get the best results because it measures brain activity. If a baby is awake there's no way to tell if his/her brain is reacting to the sounds being played in their ears or other stimuli. The audiologist put two small electrodes on Evelyn's forehead as well as one on the back of either ear. Then she put tiny little ear probes in Evelyn's ear canals, made sure everything was working properly, and then we waited until she was asleep enough to start the testing. The audiologist played a series of clicks that were different volumes (decibels) and frequencies (hertz) and the computer recorded Evelyn's brain's response. The whole process takes quite awhile because if your baby wakes up at any time during the test, or even if he/she isn't in a deep enough sleep, the test has to be stopped until they're snoozing again. After about two hours the audiologist got the results she needed for one ear and we scheduled another appointment for the other ear.

At the end of the second appointment it was clear that Evelyn had what is called bilateral mild-moderate sensorineural hearing loss.
Bilateral - Affecting both ears
Mild-moderate - The level of hearing loss. There is normal hearing, mild hearing loss, moderate hearing loss, severe hearing loss, and profound hearing loss.
Sensorineural - The type of loss. It is either conductive (caused by ear wax, fluid in the ears, allergies, etc) or sensorineural (basically permanent).

The next step was making an appointment with the pediatric ENT and audiologist at UNC.

During our first appointment at UNC the audiologist did another ABR as well as another kind of test called an OEM. However, because Evelyn kept falling in and out of sleep during the tests they recommended bringing her back for one more try. They suggested we do an MRI to look for a possible cause for her hearing loss and while she was asleep for that they could do another ABR and get the best results. So on March 12th we arrived at UNC at 6:30 in the morning for what we called Evelyn's big day. We were nervous but so anxious to get it all over with! After months of testing and waiting we were finally going to get the ball rolling. And we did! Evelyn was officially diagnosed with bilateral mild-moderate high frequency hearing loss and her very first set of hearing aids were ordered that same day. Unfortunately, the doctors are still unsure of what caused her hearing loss to begin with but that is not uncommon. The MRI showed a little bit of extra fluid around the parts of her brain (we all have fluid there, she just has a tad more) so the ENT recommended we do a blood test to test for a congenital infection called CMV (cytomegalovirus). Until I started my research on hearing loss a couple of months ago I had never heard of this infection and I still don't know much about it. I suppose if the blood tests come back positive for CMV we will learn more about it. As for now, we wait just a bit longer for those results as well as her hearing aid fitting. She will be fitted at the end of April and we're so excited!

Because this post is already long enough, I will save some other information for another time. In my research I have found some great websites and other resources for hearing loss in babies and children. Also, our area has great organizations that offer early intervention services as well as support for parents. We're incredibly lucky to have access to so much information and support so we won't feel quite so alone in this journey. It will be a journey alright, and it's just beginning. I hope you will follow us!