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.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Way Things Are

Every morning, like clockwork, I wake up at 6:10.

The alarm hasn't gone off yet. The baby is still sleeping. The puppy hasn't started barking to go outside. Both boys are still enjoying the company of their pillows. This time of year I am able to take in the sound of the creek rushing, brids singing, and the sunshine peaking in through our window. I get a solid 20 minutes of snuggling my sleeping baby and not having to do ANYTHING.

It's sheer bliss.

Today is Saturday. This means that I left Josh and the baby at home while I came to work. Ike is hanging out with Grandma Sue. Saturday's are quiet at the salon --- which is evident by the fact that I'm writing on this blog rather than spray painting customers. :)

When I walked in this morning I couldn't help but take notice of Karla's shampoos and other hair products. They are lined up so nice & neat. Of course they are --- it's a salon.

But what gets me ... is how all the pumps work.

You know what I'm talking about, right? These kind of pump bottles:

It makes me feel incredibly stupid when I see other people using these types of bottles without any issues. Our household has a serious pump bottle problem. At least 3 out of 5 pump bottles in our house have never worked. Not even once. Seriously --- never dispensed so much as a drop of whatever product the pump belongs to. Instead of being able to quickly get a squirt or two of lotion I have to pull the whole thing out of the bottle and wipe the lotion off the tube that runs into the bottle. Baby shampoo, lotion, my shampoo. These things are broken in our house at the moment. The two that happen to work properly? The hand sanitizer and the ketchup. Lame. Maybe someday we'll figure it out.

Speaking of 'figuring it out' ... Let me share some of my recent learnings with you.

1. If your nephew's basketball team makes it to state and you decide to paint your windows with his jersey number (and a big orange "GO HUSKIES!") .... be sure you don't use acrylic paint. It will take you 4 months and no less than 3 gallons of mineral spirits to get it off. Even then, you will find flakes of orange in your truck for the rest of your life.

2. If you call the appointment desk at Billings Clinic, they wil likely tell you that the doctor you need an appointment with is booked out several weeks. However, if you call and ask to speak to a nurse in the office of the doctor you are trying to get in to see ... and if you are extremely nice to her .... she will likely be able to squeeze you in much, much sooner. :)

And finally ...

3. If you run a Google image search for: "love nurse" & then spend several minutes looking at the results ... the word nurse will start to look very strange. You will likely try saying it outloud only to find out it sounds even stranger by the 15th or 20th time you say it. Emphasizing the sounds and making your mouth big really only makes it worse.

Yea, clearly Saturdays are slow here. Ha. I think I'll go home & kick Father's Day of early. Since I have the computer and I know there is no danger of Josh seeing this post until at least Monday, I will let you all in on a little secret. Isaac got a new bike for Christmas so ... I'm using Father's Day as an excuse to surprise him (and me!) with new bikes too.

And of course, thanks to The Ronning Family:

There appears to be a little bit of sunshine today --- I hope you all have a chance to get out in it! Happy Father's day! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A little update on the fam

A little update for our family and friends in far away places:

Yes, we ARE as tired as we look.
 But we're loving every second of it.
Anna-Kate has become a very real part of our family & although we sometimes feel like we're flailing, we are all very much in love with her.

AK still spends most of her time sleeping but when she is awake she love to be in the water. Baths, showers... even the rainstorm we got caught in last week made her grin. She's a big fan of anything outdoors. When my baby cries the easiest way to calm her is to step out on the deck. Something about being outside instantly calms her --- thank  goodness its summer!

We have been lucky with her night time routine --- she has been sleeping through the night since about 4 weeks. Currently she sleeps from about 9 pm until 7 am.
This has been her M.O. for a few weeks now --- hooray for a good night's sleep!

Isaac is settling into summer just fine. He started golf lessons this morning and has been in Vacation Bible School all this week. When the weather is nice you can usually find him fishing, riding his bike, or jumping on the trampoline.

His little heart is still hurting a bit over the loss of his friend, Oliver.

But, always a suvivor, Ike is moving forward with the help of his new friend: Daisy.

Josh is still working away at the insurance agency. He allegedly has football obligations twice a week ... hopefully we have finally gotten a grip on life-with-a-newborn so he can start committing to it again.
I have been leaning on him pretty heavily the last few weeks but I think we're finally at a point where we both can start being involved in things outside out home life again!

I took a hiatus from spray tanning for a few weeks after the baby but am back to it full swing. The shop is open (201 S Broadway Suite B -- Red Lodge) & business is boomning. I'm helping out with Vacation Bible School this week but other than that, I plan to spend as much time with my babies as possible this summer.

There ya' have it --- our life in a nutshell.

I feel like I've been neglecting the blog a bit. But now that things are settling down for us, perhaps I'll manage to come back and post from time to time.

In the meantime -- I hope all is well in your world's! Be well!