Sunday, September 18, 2011

Christmas in T minus 2322 Hours

(stolen from TFD way back in the day ... when they were still fun to read)

Summer has come and gone & as much fun as it was ... I'm glad to be settling into the school year, football season, crockpot weather, and sweaters & boots. Everyone appears to be on a schedule again & the chaos of vacation time has gone to hibernate for a few months anyhow. (Christmas is only .. 2322 hours away! Gah!)

Eh ...  as I sit here typing Im finding it impossible to tune out the craptastic pile of housework that accumulated while we were  busy swimming, BBQ-ing, 4th of July-ing, hiking, "camp-ing", bike riding, traveling ... you know, summering.    The pile of mail on the counter that needs to be gone through, the clothes on the couch that need folding, &  (even though I can't see it) the basement that HAS to be cleaned out ... TODAY. Not to mention the wood that needs cutting, flower pots that need to be put away, and one last round of weed eating so I don't have to see them poking up through the snow all winter.

Ok. So as much as I was looking forward to posting another round of pictures & giving them cutesy little captions ... it'll have to wait. I have to go attack this list of chores before I have an aneurysm.

Happy Sunday ya'll.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Photo Journal

A few pics from the last few weeks:

I love how she props up on her elbows when he holds her.

I love my babies.


Ike <3

Gorgeous countryside between Crow Agency and Colstrip.

Prettiest Baby Mama in Colstrip!
Sweet Baby R turns one!

Beau & mini-Beau.

We rented Grampa Shorty & AK fell in love.

Debbie & one of her babies.

Most of the fam watching the p-rade.

Since forever, Smokey has always been my favorite part of the parade.

Daisy Doo was craving something salty.

That parade wore us out!

AK has a cousin crush on Zoe.
Bai, Kenna, & AK.

Daddy-daughter swing time.

Buck <3
Rope 'em, ride 'em.

A quick game of frisbee post parade, pre-rodeo.
Whats that look on your face, Beau? Could it be baby fever?!


Fireworks are better with S'mores.

That's the kind of smile that is contagious ... for sure.


Clearly Tobias was having a grand ol' time.

My siblings minus two.

Pam & Debbie.

Taylor Grace Duneman.

I love this little cherub.


My very sleepy family. They were such troopers last weekend ... letting me haul them all over the countryside & whatnot.

This looks like a very serious conversation between Ken & Robin. Truth be told, we were all laughing at how fast Taylor ran to her Papa when Ken walked over to meet AK!


Whats that? Chase smiling in a picture? Sweet!

It's a different kind of party than the last time we were all in the same place. Ha.

Pretty baby.

Beautful Eliana.

Slip n Slide.

Isaac getting a face full.

There are hundreds more photos to go through ... but I'm exhausted. I had a late night at the salon so I thought I'd use time between appointments to upload some shots. But now it is creeping up on 11 pm and I am seriously aching for my bed. G'nite, ya'll. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Radios & Avalanches

Yesterday was one of those amazing road trippin' kind of days. The sun was shining and I had the whole road to myself.

Sure, my 'road trip' was only 15 miles long, but it was a great one anyway. And, if I'm being totally honest, I found myself a nice little dirt road detour so that my 15 minute drive home suddenly turned into an hour long solo road trip. It was fabulous.

I knew there were dishes that needed washing and clothes that needed folding but I couldn't manage to drive myself home. My fellow music lovers will understand me when I say: The radio was playing really great music. Every song that came on forced me to turn the volume up another notch and sing a little louder.

Do you do that? I'm not sure you'll all agree that the music was "just so good" --- but for me, these were definite sing-along songs:

Jason Aldean ... because how could you NOT love this song?

This song always reminds me of my sweet friend, Angie. When we were younger than we are now ... before husbands and babies, before time and distance took their toll ... we drove thousands of miles on dirt roads blaring the country music. This was always a fun one.

Like the last song, this takes me back to my high school years. And, oddly enough, reminds me of another friend named Angie. We used to drive around in her grandparents blue Buick and listen to mixed tapes. Yea, mixed TAPES. Haha. One of my favorite memories is the time we decided it was in our best interest to skip track practice. We hopped into the car (My car this time .. a 1987 VW Fox ... wagon. Her name was Gertie & she was ... um, 'unique'.)  & headed up Beartooth Pass with two wine collers and a cigar.
Real classy, I know.
The Pass was closed .... but the barricade was a total joke. We drove around the side of it & headed up yonder. We found a place to stop & climbed out to sit on the rocks. Billie Meyers blaring out the windows, we sat & talked about ... who knows what.
When it was time to leave a fantastically scary thing happened.
We got hit by an avalanche.
No shit.
Picture this, if you will:
GErtie is be-bopping down the road at a top speed of maybe 20 miles an hour. 20 yards ahead we Chris McKittrick's  green Bravada headed our way.
Then suddenly I hear Ang --- laughing hysterically --- shriek:
I can still see her frantically rolling her window up as the rocks and ice pushed my car into the other lane.
Chris slammed on his brakes and I gunned it!
Seriously, if we had waited ten more seconds to leave we (along with my little car) would have been stuck up there.
I don't even want to think about the trouble we would have been in.
Anyhow, thats what Kiss The Rain reminds me of.
And I relived it all last night when it came on the radio. Ha.

There were several other songs that kept me happy on my jaunt last night. But I'm drawing a total blank now that I want to tell you about them.  However, I'm pleased to tell you, today is another great music day. I'm working @ the salon. When I hit 'play' on the CD player, I expected to hear Allison Krauss whisk me away. But, on the contrary, Karla has clearly been imbibing in an ecclectic jam session this week. I've heard everything from Janet Jackson to Johnny Cash. It's safe to say that Karla's curling irons have been used as microphones this morning. But really, can you blame me? There's a big-ass mirror right next to the irons ... they were begging to be sang into.

Ladies, see what I mean? How can you NOT sing to that?
And now, let me tell you, I will be surfing Janet Jackson's YouTube channel until my next appointment shows up. Because, I freaking love her.

Anyhow, that's that.
Have a lovely Saturday, ya'll. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What The Hell?

Have you seen the episode of friends where Rachel tells Joey that her boss wants to buy her baby? If not, you need to hop on Amazon right now and purchase season 8 of the series. I've seen the episode before but that didn't stop me from nearly peeing my pants last night when I watched it again. Ok ... maybe spontaneous urination is a bit of an exaggeration. But laughing so hard chocolate milk came out of my nose isn't.

I was in a foul mood yesterday. Not for any reason in particular ... it was just one of those blah days. I thought, for sure, the only way to cure my crankiness was to climb into bed & start fresh this morning. Then I saw Friends was on so I clicked over to it. I'm glad I did because I went to bed smiling like an idiot instead of ho-humming like Eeyore.

I slept like a rock. Apparently so did everyone else.

I rolled over this morning and the clock said 7:12 a.m. I jumped up an ripped Isaac out of bed. Golf lessons start at 8 & we still had to swing by Grama & Papa's house to pick up his clubs! I followed him around the house clapping my hands together and talking to him like a football coach. (I don't know why I think this makes him hurry up ... it doesn't. But it sure makes me feel better!) I took the quickest shower of my life, forced a lame breakfast down the poor kids throat & then started loading up the car.

A quick glance at the coffee pot to see how much time I had to make it to town.


What the hell?

Apparently when Josh came to bed last night the clock was blinking. He reset it for the wrong time.


So we had a good laugh & then doggy piled on the bed and played with the baby for an hour.

I've been giggling about it all day.

Did I mention the sun is shining and it actually feels like summer today? Hooray for days like this one.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thank Goodness For You

Dear Son,

You're incredible.

I wasn't sure how I felt about the age gap between you & your sister. I always said if I hadn't given you a sibling by the time you turned 5, you would forever remain an only child.

God laughed at my 'plan' & 3 months ago you become a big brother.

I couldn't be more proud of you.

Yes, sometimes I am amazed by the crazy level of silliness and immaturity you display ... but, you are an 8 year old boy, so I suppose those things are to be expected. :)

But, mostly I sit back and watch you in complete awe.

You are kind and gentle with your little sister. You are patient and helpful. It makes my heart happy to watch you tickle her toes & kiss her chubby little cheeks. I am grateful that when I am struggling to find a balance between being a mom and keeping the house running, you step in and offer to rock your sister. You feed her a bottle like a pro and you seem to know just how to make her smile.

I was wrong about the age gap. It's perfect. You are an amazing helper and I love you for that.

Thank you for being charming, handsome, wonderful you.

I love you.

Hey Keith Urban - Thanks for singing our song!

"Along comes a baby girl
 And suddenly my little world
Just got a whole lot bigger, yes it did
And people that I barely knew
Love me cause I'm part of you
Man, it's tough to figure."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Little Babes & Their Ears

24 hours after you give birth a nurse will come into your hospital room. Well ... actually, in our case, it was a CNA. But the point is --- SOMEONE will come into your hospital room and whisk your little darling away to the place we refer to as "The Wizard's Room". I don't know why we call it that. We just do.

There are a series of tests they do on your little babe at this time. I have no idea what any of the tests are. I suppose there are probably parents out there that are nosey enough to ask. We didn't. I trust our medical staff and I assume that whatever it is they are doing in the secret wizard's lair is probably A-OK.

The only test I know they do for sure is a hearing screening. The only reason anyone bothered to tell me about the hearing screening is because our little lady failed hers. Apparently that happens alot and it really wasn't concerning to anyone in a white coat so we just rolled with the punches.

They tested her again before we were discharged ... another failure. Actually I believe the term the used was, "referred". But "failure" seems more clear cut to me --- so that's what I'll use.

She failed a handul of tests during her first couple of months.

It's an interesting process really. They take us back into a little sound proof box. When the baby is sound asleep they stick little plugs in her ears and somehow they are able to magically tell you things you didn't know were possible.

Like, how far down the ear canal sound is able to travel or whether or not there is movement in the eardrums.

At her 2 month audiology appointment, Anna Kate was still referring in both ears and apparently had no movement in her ear drums. We were instructed to follow up in two weeks to have the same tests done one more time. We were told is she failed the tests again we would be moving on to "the next step". "The "next step" is similar to an EKG only it's done on the ears. From there we would be talking about tubes or cochlear implants or other possible treatments.

At the follow up appointment we were pleased to find out that her right ear actually passed with flying colors! Hooray! Her left ear, however, was still referring. They administered "the next step" test. Again, a really cool process. They stuck little stickies attached to wires on her ears, temples, and forehead & then we sat in silence for several minutes,

The findings were all positive --- her nerve is in tact and there are no abnmormalities or deformities. Great news!

They tell us that all signs point to nothing more than a little fluid in her inner ear. We go back in 2 months to have it checked out. They want to monitor it for infection but otherwise no treatment is neccessary.

In typical Nicole fashion, I cried right there in the exam room when they told us this. Tears of relief? Happiness? Sheer joy?

Of course, had things turned out differently we would have been fine with that too. We were prepared to take whatever steps were neccessary to ensure our daughter had the appropriate treatment. We were blessed with the results we ended up with --- but hearing loss in children is a very serious condition & one that doesn't receive alot of attention.

Perhaps because at first glance it doesn't "seem" as devastating as other childhood diseases & disabilities.

But after talking to several professionals in the industry (Thank you Megan, Dessi, Mark, Rachel, and Lou!) and parents of children with partial or total hearing loss, I see things very differently.

Hearing loss can (and should) be diagnosed almost immediately. A child who doesn't hear properly can face difficult road blocks as early as 6 months when they are beginning to explore speech. It makes sense that if a child can't hear sounds properly that they will not be able to form sounds properly either.

I am not an authority on this nor will I pretend to be one. But it doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to see the path a hearing impaired child will inevitably be forced down if left untreated.

Treatment. It seems like common sense to you and I. But I was amazed to find out how many people out there don't prioritize something like this.

An old friend of mine works with children with hearing loss in New Mexico. When we were first dealing with AK's issues my friend wrote to me. She sent me several sources of information on everything from where to learn sign language to programs that provided assistance to famnilies dealing with hearing loss. I'm amazed by all the help that is out there designed to make the world more accessible to those with hearing loss.

Another friend, here in Montana, talked to me about her experiences working with the parents of hearing impaired children.  She talked of parents who had not been proactive in dealing with their children's disability*.

(*Let me say for the record, I do not actually see hearing loss as a disability. However, when speaking of these parents in particular I feel it appropriate to use the term disability --- because by not DEALING with it and taking advantage of the plethora of resources out there ---- they are allowing hearing loss to become a disability.)

She brought me to tears when she described a mom and dad who never bothered to learn how to communicate with their child through sign language. I can not imagine being a young girl, coming home from school, and not being able to speak -- or sign --- to the people who were supposed to be my safety nets. It breaks my heart to think of children living in a home that does not prioritize something as important as communication. How difficult it must be, as a child, to do even simple things like play with friends or tell your mother that you're sad/happy/scared ... when the people you're trying to speak to don't have the tools it requires to understand what you're saying. Devastating.

It is especially sad when you come to realize that money and/or access to the neccessary resources don't have to be issues. Like I mentioned earlier, there are a vast number of resources there for the using--- many of them FREE.
On a similar note, I have a dear friend who is a speech therapist here in Montana. I was talking to her recently about this very topic.

She told me she sees quite a bit of the same thing. She is currently working in a position where she provides services to her clients for free. Well .. free to the clients. And even though it costs them nothing but their time, there are people out there who do not take it seriously enough to show up for their schedules appointments.

It boggles my mind.

Anyhow, I guess that's my tirade for tonight.

The moral of my story is this: We've all got battles to fight when it comes to our children... lessons to learn, hills to climb. But no matter which struggles are placed before us remember to love your babies. Love every part of them ... even their ears. :)  Protect them. Help them. Teach them. (( . learn from them too. )) Ask questions. Ask them again. Research/investigate. Take precautions. Take them twice. Go overboard. Do whatever it takes to make sure they have all the tools they need to make their mark on this crazy, rapidly-spinning, amazing world. Don't let them get lost in the haze.