Since it's been so long since I posted last, this post will be very random.
Harlie will have her second stage surgery for her bone anchored hearing aid on February 12th. It will be done at MCV in Richmond. I really cannot wait to have this whole thing done. When she plays at home her headband gets all askew, and then the hearing aid starts buzzing (feedback, probably because there's too much hair in the way). It really will be so much better when it can be exactly where it's supposed to be and stay put! I think it needs to heal for about six weeks before we can use it though, so we're looking at the beginning of April. Whew, seems so far away still!
Harlie's School Stuff
Harlie is doing much better in school this year, than last. They have been working on the AT family (sat, cat, mat, etc.). That took some time, but I think she got it! It's hard to tell because she can't say the words clearly enough that you always know what she's trying to say. But, then they introduced the AN (man, fan, can, etc.) and AP (map, cap, lap, etc.) families. Talk about frustrating!!! For some reason, those are really difficult for kids with hearing issues. And when I was working with her, she really couldn't hear the difference between man and map.
I spoke with her speech therapist about this last week. She said that she has no frame of reference because she can't pronounce it herself. She told me that kids who pronounce a W for an R (like Cindawella) will often write a W instead of an R because that's what they hear in their head when they say it. Since Harlie can't say it, it's difficult for her to hear it in her head, you know?
It's quite overwhelming. And I can't help but wonder what this means for her future schooling. Harlie's cognitive ability is normal - but information has a difficult time getting in, and she has a difficult time getting the information out. I owe it to her to do whatever I can to help her keep up with her peers. But, I just don't know that I can do it all. She would benefit from private speech therapy every day. But, not only can we not afford that (it's about $100 per hour) I could never get that kind of time from a speech therapist (nor do we have that time in our life, either). I would also like to get more academic practice and exposure in her day - but she's still just SIX years old and she gets TIRED after working hard for a few minutes. I don't think I can fit more in her day. Not to mention that Murphy has been taking up a lot of my time after school with his homework. Third grade is the first year of real grades and he doesn't really care. He's a bare minimum (or less even!) kind of kid when it comes to school work, like one word answers, instead of a full sentence (which always costs him points).
I know so many moms want to make me feel better about how hard it is to get a child to learn and keep up. But, it's very DIFFERENT for Harlie. Unless you know all I know, you just don't get it. For example, she is six years old, and we are still having to ask her several times per incident to use three and four word sentences like "I want movie please." In fact, I don't think we've even discussed teaching her to ask for a movie versus her saying "I want." Until we get the I want on a consistent basis, I don't know that we can add in a "May I?" or Can I?" Now think about what the typical six year old says and how much they talk. Yes, Harlie is very different and it makes me very sad and scared of the years to come. How in the hell is she going to keep up? Well, she's not. And that makes me sad when I know that her cognitive ability is there.
I volunteered in her class on Friday for their winter party. I spoke with her hearing impaired teacher and we are having a meeting the week we get back to school to go over her communication modality. We've tried focusing on her verbalizations - but she just can't do it enough for anyone to understand her. And she said as the material gets harder it's going to get very difficult for her to test and assess her when Harlie can't answer questions and tell her what she knows. We've got to give her another way to let us know what she knows. And I think the answer is going to be the communication device. So, her HH teacher, her school ST, and the person who got us our communication device is going to meet to figure this out. I think I'm going to have to learn a lot more about how to program the device and add photos, etc. Because we are going to have to start focusing on it. It's time consuming, but I don't think we have a choice anymore. She clearly is capable of using it. She will remember where a word is even when it's been weeks since she's used it. Unfortunately, it's not going to be easy to make her to use it all the time, because not everyone knows how to or has the energy to make her. Somehow, I have to get everyone on board (both her parents, her teachers, her nurses, etc.).
Well, we've worked feeding therapy back in our schedule. We see Allison every other Tuesday morning. I hate that I have to take her out of school for it - but I believe Allison is worth it - and so is the importance of her learning to eat. Last time we saw her she started working on getting Harlie to bite down (three times in a row) on a piece of puffed corn that was wrapped in a piece of fine mesh. She's not ready to handle solids in her mouth yet. It is amazing how complicated eating is when you don't get to do it as a baby. All of her mouth muscles do not know what to do anymore since they never learned. And now they are all weak (especially her jaw in general) from not being used the way they are supposed to. Plus, her mouth is crazy, so that doesn't help.
I remember when Harlie was a little baby. I used to tell myself that by the time she was ten, all of this would be behind us and it would be like it never happened. HA! But, I guess I had to believe that in order to get through that time. She's six now. And although I know a lot can happen in four years, I don't see her eating all foods as if nothing ever happened.
Eating is another thing that moms will try to make me feel better about by telling me how hard it is to get their normal kids to eat. I have two of them myself, so I know. And it is NOT the same. It's not even on the same planet as getting Harlie to eat. Her jaw currently doesn't have the strength to bite through a cheese puff. Unfortunately, there's no feeling better about that. It's just something we have to get through and continue to hope for progress.
To be honest, it's been really hard to blog about my life when I think about all the parents of the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School (and everyone else involved). It's really hard to talk about what's difficult/good about my life, when I think of what those parents are going through right now. It's so incredibly sad.
This one is not an easy one for me to write. But, it's the truth. And I'm hoping after I write this, I will feel better. The Christmas Spirit has eluded me this year. I LOVE Christmas. But all three of my children have really been challenging for us lately. And, Murphy and Cooper have driven me absolutely CRAZY. I try asking/telling them to do what they need to do nicely, then I repeat myself. Then I repeat myself a little louder and a little louder still. Then I have to YELL. For every single thing they are supposed to do. Even getting them to hang up their coats takes an unusual amount of energy. And multiply that with EVERY THING for all three, one of whom is non-verbal (who still needs help in the potty) and I never sit down!
Add my running in (which I have made a huge effort to do more of) and I am TIRED. It has been exhausting. We were going to take them to go look at tacky Christmas lights, but they were being so awful that night that we had to take that away. And the worst of it was that they didn't even seem bothered by it. And their behavior has made me not want to take them anywhere. Like out in public. We haven't taken them to go see Santa (they haven't asked, and there's really been no time - and again, that's out in public).
I've tried all sorts of ways to get the boys to cooperate - just a little even! Even our Elf on the Shelf (Elfred) has failed to get them motivated to listen. Maybe he's too lazy. He should have left them a note or something. Ugh.
Anyway, their behavior has been so crummy, that I think I'm still angry at them. How awful is that?! I just don't think I should reward that behavior with fun stuff. We haven't made cookies. Partly because of their behavior and partly because I can only get the boys half-way interested. Harlie would not be excited about making cookies since she doesn't want to eat them. She might help decorate, but that would be it. So, I really don't want to do that because I HATE that she can't eat a freaking cookie. So, that's more my issue, than the kids' fault.
I got a gingerbread house a few weeks ago. It's still sitting in it's unopened box on top of the refrigerator. I just don't want to do anything with them when they act like that. It takes all the fun out of everything. And I just don't have the energy for it.
So, it's now Christmas Eve and I feel like shit about everything. Especially since I have my three children, all seemingly "healthy" and I am sitting here whining about their crummy behavior. Not only am I thinking about Newtown, but I'm also thinking about all the moms that I know (through my special needs on-line support) who are missing their children that have passed. And all the moms I know who are sitting in a hospital room with their sick child. How can I sit here and feel the way I do??? What the hell is wrong with me? I am normally SO much better at being positive than this! And now I'm looking back, regretting the way I've handled things.
I should have written this weeks ago. I just needed to write it to see it. I just have to make the choice to be more fun - and inspire my children to want to make better decisions and want to listen. Ha ha ha! I know, I'm laughing as I write this. But, seriously, I do make the choice (usually) to be positive in my life in general. I just need to do the same thing now. And I need to give them a consequence for not listening, instead of repeating myself till I want to cry.
Today, I think I might make them walk the dog when I get mad. That way, the dog benefits, too. Although it's rainy and yucky today. Maybe I'll make them walk up and down the stairs.
Tom is on his way home now. And I'm really hoping that he can bring some excitement and joy into this house. On Saturday he went to Pittsburgh with some friends. They went to the Steelers vs. Bengals game yesterday. The Steelers lost and are now done for the season. This means that Tom will shave his beard (or maybe he has already?). We'll see when he walks in. I'm looking forward to seeing his face again. And I hope he arrives well rested and ready to parent!
We have been lucky enough to be invited to some great Christmas parties. I will have to post pictures later because my laptop (with my photos) is currently broken thanks to the children. Tom will have to fix it. Considering my mood lately, I am very thankful to have these friends that invited us to their parties. They were bright spots in gloomy days. So more on that later.
Okay, I must go and muster up some fun in this house. I have to let go of some anger and forgive my children more quickly when they completely ignore me and don't seem to learn from their mistakes. I can do this, right? Oh someone please tell me I'm not crazy, haven't lost it and that I'm not alone.
As always, thank you for reading and continuing to support me and my family in so many ways. I do always feel better after telling you all my stuff. :-) My next post will be better. I promise.
Merry Christmas and much love!
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