10 Years Later

Yesterday was the ten year anniversary of when SJ was diagnosed with profound hearing loss.

I wrote about that day in 2012 in a post called “Processing the Diagnosis

Then in 2015 I wrote a post called Living in Holland (thought from a  special needs mom) and if you have a special needs child you are probably familiar with the Welcome to Holland poem.

In that blog post from three years into our hearing loss journey I posted this graphic and said “We spent just over two years living in the old normal, there was probably a year of living in shock and just doing my best to stay afloat. The last two years have been transition and we’ll be here for a while. I feel pretty darn close to “New Normal” but we still have such a long way to go.”

Then four years later in 2019 I shared how I almost missed the anniversary of her diagnosis. This was a time of year that was always a major trigger for me so the fact that I didn’t even think about it was a big deal. I was processing that reality and described how it felt like a new chapter and that maybe we had reached the new normal.

Now here we are another three years have passed by and we’ve had a lot of significant breakthroughs recently.

SJ told us she wanted to be baptized.

She accompanied me in a sign language video we posted on YouTube and people we would never be able to reach in person watch it everyday.

It’s not at all viral, but I know from my YouTubeanalytics that there are new views from people in other countries every day and to think about that kind of impact is really cool! A friend of mine saw the Gratitude video and invited SJ to be a part of a ballet performance incorporating sign language and worship. She will perform at two locations this week! It’s so awesome. I can’t wait to share more about that.

SJ also graduated from speech and language therapy and is no longer on an IEP. This is huge!

Then in a couple of weeks she will be on an alumni panel from her deaf school to answer questions from parents and students who are about to transition into public school. The privilege of watching the Lord move in her life and use her story to touch so many is priceless.

Today I was listening to a podcast. Full disclosure, it was a true crime story. I am one  of those weirdos that listens to select true crime podcasts. Anyway, they were talking about how this heinous crime split time for this small community into two parts, before the tragedy and after. I immediately thought of how I used to think of SJ’s diagnosis that way. I heard another mom whose child is blind describe it that way. There was life before diagnoses and after. It’s two different worlds.

Except I don’t see it that way now. I see SJ as our little girl who is courageous, talented, beautiful, thoughtful, and deaf. I also see her as an equal part of our whole family. If I were to describe my life as two parts it would have to be life before kids and life after. That feels like two different worlds to me, but to think of SJ without hearing loss now is an incomplete puzzle or a warped photograph.

I feel like it’s been important for me to write about this entire process the past ten years. It helps me, but I really hope that it’s helpful to others. I forget the rawness that I felt in those early days of this journey and when I have it in writing it gives me empathy. Maybe someone will stumble upon this blog post who just had their world split in two, before diagnosis and after. Maybe this blog post from a mom ten years down the road will give them hope.

By | April 30th, 2022|Special Needs, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Supporting Your Kids’ Home School Needs

How has your experience with home school been? Maybe you’ve got on really well? Or maybe some ups and downs? Home school has been a bit of a mixed bag for all of us, and that’s why we need to talk more about how to support your kids through it. After all, whether your children are being home schooled by choice or by necessity, it can be hard to support their academic needs from the comfort of your living room. 

 

Even when your child is in traditional school and requires a bit of outside support, you can still tear your hair out over what to do! But that’s why we’ve collected together the tips below; sometimes all you need is an idea to find the right solution for your child. 

 

 

Vary the Schedule

 

Kids need routine and structure, of course, but every now and then they also need something fun and spontaneous to do. So make sure any home schooling schedule you put together has some free spots on it; save these for special days, like Mondays and Fridays, when your child is going to have a lot more energy to waste. 

 

In these ‘free spot’ segments on the timetable you could do activities like storytime, or watch an educational program, or take them down the park as a little treat. You could also get them into the kitchen to do some hands-on practicals, whether you build a volcano together or simply bake a cake. Just do something different! 

 

Download the Right Software

 

It’s hard to be everything to your child at all times, and sometimes you’re going to need qualified, outside help to really support their schooling needs. So don’t be afraid to get online and see what kind of help is out there; it usually exists in the form of remote software, often recommended by your child’s teachers themselves. 

 

Indeed, kids tend to respond better when you’re using laptops and tablets to teach K-12 classes, so liberally apply this principle to your own home school classroom. Your child will be able to connect to subject tutors outside of your own areas of expertise, whether for mainline schooling or simple homework purposes. Better yet, they can do so whenever they need to. 

 

Keep an Eye on Your Child’s Natural Passions

 

What does your child really love to do? Play soccer? Draw and color? Maybe they’re a fan of going for a walk and picking up every leaf and bug they see? Well, if you want to refine your home school syllabus a little, make time to include these beloved activities. 

 

When you support your child’s natural passions, they blossom in so many more ways, simply because you take time to cater towards their interests. As a result, they’ll be far more willing to complete ‘boring’ subjects, such as Math or English, because they’ll have more energy for the school structure as a whole! 

 

Supporting your kids’ home school needs just takes a bit of thinking!

 

By | February 8th, 2022|education, Family, Motherhood, Parenting Tips, Schooling|0 Comments

Tips for Helping Your Child to Read

As a mom, one of the hardest things to face is the fact that your child may not be progressing as quickly as they should. If your child is not reading at the correct grade level and you are a bit worried you don’t have to panic.

You can teach your child to read and do it successfully. However, you must be prepared to learn as much as you can about the reading process.

There are varying opinions about what works and what doesn’t. There are also opinions about what age children should be able to read.

 If all this difference in opinion has you wondering, “When do kids learn how to read?” find out the answer to this question and discover some of the best reading strategies that you can use to help your child.

Use Nursery Rhymes

A nursery rhyme will capture your child’s attention. Children will hear rhymes and syllables in the words they are reading. This will help to build their phonemic awareness skills.

Phonemic awareness is the skill that allows your child to identify and manipulate the individual sounds that are found in the spoken word. You and your child should clap to the rhythm of the rhymes together.

While your child is having fun they will be setting the stage for developing solid reading skills in the future. Nursery rhymes are a great way for children with speech problems to learn how to pronounce words.

Make Word Cards

You can buy word cards but it is so much fun to make them. Begin with three-letter words and ask your child to choose cards and then call the word. Ask your child to identify each of the sounds they hear in the three-letter words.

Examples of good words to use are cat, cup, and pig. Try to choose three-letter words that lend themselves well to pictures since this will make it easy for your child to remember the word.

Creating cards takes very little time and they are a great way to build your child’s decoding skills. If your child is starting to learn the alphabet then this is a great activity to use to introduce them to the sounds each letter makes.

Make Your Home Print Rich

You should make it a practice to label everything in your home. In this way, your child will learn that everything has a name. This helps your child to connect words to concrete things and this makes it easier for them to learn.

When you are out with your child, make a conscious effort to point out printed words in the environment. A good place to start is by drawing their attention to signs that you see.

You can sound out the letters for them that make these words. You can begin by focusing on the sound of the first letter in the words you see. Ask your child to tell you the sound of the first letter and what word rhymes with the word you pointed out on the sign.

You can also begin using the word in a sentence right away and let your child repeat these sentences. This is the best way to subtly help your child understand the meaning of a word.

Children Love Games

Children like to play and word games are the perfect way to capture their attention and keep it. These games should help your child to identify and manipulate all the sounds they hear in a word.

Another great way to get your child interested in learning new words is to write and use sand or wool to outline them. Let your child close their eyes and use their sense of touch to guess the word they are feeling.

Let them tell you the sound of each letter they have identified in the word. 

Know the 5 Skills 

For your child to read and comprehend what they have read, there are five skills they need to develop. Once you know what they are then you should do all you can to research them and find learning materials that will help to develop each skill.

The skills that your child must master are the following:

 

  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Phonics
  • Vocabulary
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Fluency

 

The first hurdle you need to cross is phonemic awareness. Next, you need to develop your child’s skills in phonics. When your child begins to understand the connection between letters and the sounds they make then they are well on their way to developing their vocabulary.

 

Comprehension is probably the hardest skill for many children to develop. This is why as soon as you can you should have your child use the words they have learned in sentences this will ensure that they have a solid idea of the words they are reading.

 

Fluency will develop when all the other skills are developed. Fluency happens when your child is confident in identifying words. This brings speed and accuracy.

Use Technology

One of the easiest ways to grab a child’s attention is to use videos. With so many videos available on the internet that teach phonics and developing reading skills, it is up to you to choose the one that is right for your child.

 

Pay attention to your child’s expressions as they learn from the videos. Ask them questions afterward to see what they have grasped.

 

Once you find a style of video that works then you can use it often to make your child develop reading skills.

 

There are also software, apps, and learning academies online that will help you to teach your child. The wonderful thing about the internet is the amount of information it provides. You don’t have to go it alone.

Model Good Reading Habits

 

If you are that parent who doesn’t like to read then it is time to change all of that. It’s good for your child to see you reading since this will help them to develop their interest in reading. Aside from this perhaps the best reading strategy you can use is to read to your child daily.

Read a variety of books to your child. This approach will help you to introduce a lot of different stories. Make sure you read books about things your child is interested in since this will make it easier for your child to relate to what is being read.

The next thing you should do is buy read along books. Those that have picture clues are the best ones and make it less likely that your child will fail at recognizing a word. This will help them to develop confidence.

Help your child to select books that they are likely to succeed with. The five-finger test is an excellent way to know if a book is too hard for a child. To do this test open the book to the middle.

Ask your child to begin reading the page. Every time they see a word they don’t recognize they should raise a finger. If by the end of the page five fingers are up then the book is too hard for them.

Time to Read

Now that you know some of the main things you should be focusing on it will be a lot easier for you to get your child to read. 

Once you notice your child’s strengths work to develop them even more. The same is true for any weaknesses that you notice. Be consistent and patient because every child develops reading skills at a different pace.

 

By | January 4th, 2021|education, Motherhood, Parenting Tips, Schooling, Special Needs|0 Comments

5 Word Puzzles Apps To Challenge Your Brain

Christmas is over and winter is in full swing. To be honest, this season can feel glum and sometimes you wonder if you brain is turning into mush!

Word puzzle apps can be a great way of challenging your brain and keeping you more alert! On top of helping you to expand your vocabulary, these word puzzles can test your mathematical and logical skills. They’re great for keeping your mind sharp as you get older and can equally be great for helping kids to develop their vocabulary and logical skills. There are hundreds of these word apps available to download from Android and Apple app stores. Below are just a few of the most popular word game apps to try.

Scrabble

Based off of the popular board game, the Scrabble app allows you to compete against other players online by building words and collecting points. On top of trying to reach the highest score in each game, you can compete with other players to build the best overall score. There’s also an option to play against a computer if you don’t want to play against real players (or simply want some practice). There’s also an in-built dictionary feature that allows you to search up words beforehand to check that they’re real words.

Wordscapes

Wordscapes is a popular app that challenges you to build words out of a selection of letters. As the rounds get higher, the selections of letters get harder. It’s a fairly simple and intuitive game that anyone can play and takes you across lots of relaxing landscapes in the process. The game gets quite hard as it progresses but if you get stuck on a level, you can find Wordscapes cheat codes online. There are also many guides and tips online to understand the points system. 

Alphabear

Alphabear challenges you to select letters on a puzzle grid to create words and collect bears. The more letters you use, the bigger the bear. It’s a unique word game with a fun bear theme to it (there are animated cartoons that play.throughout the game). A sequel to the game was released in 2018 that features even more bears to collect. Kids will love this game (as will adults!).

Typeshift

Typeshift is an anagram puzzle game that challenges you to create words stacked together. This makes it very unique to other word games. You’re given a new puzzle every day – the puzzles get harder throughout the week. For those looking for a game that’s slightly more challenging, this is the app for you. Like other games listed here, it’s completely free to download. You can find tips for playing Typeshift here. 

Word Search Pro

Love word searches? This app challenges you to solve a range of word searches in order to find the hidden words. You simply swipe up, down, left, right or diagonally to mark the word. The game allows you to select your difficulty and can be surprisingly challenging. This is a great game for honing your vocabulary and is a game that all the family can play!

When I am needing a moment to myself these word game apps are a great way to decompress for minute. Not a bad idea for the kiddos that have extra time to kill on dreary winter day. Do you enjoy word puzzles? What apps are your favorites?

By | December 28th, 2020|education, Family, Lifestyle, Schooling|1 Comment

Ten Ways Develop a Child’s Attention Span

10 ways to develop a child’s attention spans for long term success.

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I just got back from Word Camp which is a conference for people that use the website platform Word Press. The crowd there was extremely diverse, but we all had one thing in common: websites, or more specifically Word Press websites.

One thing I heard over in over in the sessions was about the latest research on the attention span. The average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds, which is shorter than that of a goldfish. The point of this information was that we have to have eye-catching designs and content that will grab our visitors attention immediately before they move on. We want people to stay at our websites and we have less than 10 seconds to make an impact!

While other attendees are nodding and taking notes the mama bear in me is thinking Let’s back this truck up. Did I just hear that humans attention spans are now shorter than a goldfish? And we are supposed to be catering to that!? This is an epidemic! Not just because I am old school and want everyone to go back to the slower paced lifestyle of the 1950’s. I am a major multi-tasker and I love my modern, fast-paced conveniences. I do have one major concern though and that is the selfish implications that come with short attention spans.

The selfie lifestyle.

The entitlement mindset.

The era of entertain me now.

YUCK!

That is not what I want for my kids and I think we can do better.

Phil Vischer did an interview 6 years ago about the effects of certain types of media on our children and it has always stuck with me. He says:

What we’ve learned through recent brain reseach is that the part of our brains that process facts and data can be trained to go faster, but the part of our brain that process emotions and make emotional connections can’t be trained to go faster. So in some of these cases, like churches where they are wanting to speed things up because kids are used to faster tv, we are discovering that while they can collect the data faster they can’t have a feeling about it faster. So if we are trying to teach kids values or help them have compassion for people in worse situations than they are we have to slow them down. 

When I really think about it, it sounds like common sense. You can teach a kid reading fluency or to do multiplication tables at a rapid pace, but you can’t teach them to hurry up and feel compassion! Our generation is better than ever at multitasking, but you can’t multitask true empathy.

That’s what concerns me about the lack of attention spans. We aren’t taking the time to pay attention! So I thought about how to cultivate an attitude of long term attentiveness in the next generation.

Please keep in mind this list is not for short-term attention span improvement. It is also not professional help for those with actual attention deficit disorder. I have plenty of loved ones, adults and kids alike, in that category. There is no shame in that. This is just a list that I thought would apply to my children and might be helpful to some others.

1. Discomfort

It’s easy to want to shield our kids from feeling uncomfortable, whether it’s boredom, not wanting to share, or detesting chores. I’ve read two books on this subject that I love. Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch and Cleaning House by Kay Will Wyma. I recommend either one.

2. Focus on Others

Putting our attention outward through community service or acts of kindness is a great way for children to pay more attention to the details and needs around us.

3. Sleep

This is a practical way for all of us to increase our attention span. On a side note, you sleep more peacefully without electronics in the room.

4. Exercise

Robert Melillo, a professor and specialist in childhood neurological disorders says “Lack of physical activity in early childhood is actually the biggest single problem that will hurt the growth and development of the brain.” Melillo talks more about this mind-body approach to attention span in his book Disconnect.

5. Passion

I’m not so stuffy that my whole list is going to be about diet, exercise, and chores. Help your child find what skill or hobby that they are passionate about! This is a great way to increase attention span in a healthy way.

6. Hydration

Drinking water has been shown to improve focus while dehydration can impair your attention span, memory, and motor skills. 

7. Reading

Reading helps us to use our imagination, ask questions, think about other points of view, and with practice can definitely lengthen our attention spans.

8. Turn off electronics

I’m not anti-technology at all, but this is the biggest culprit of our shrinking attention span and it has to be balanced. Hamlet’s Blackberry (excuse the outdated title) is a fantastic book about how technology isn’t awful and the addiction to it is not even necessarily a new problem. However, it does have to be balanced with time unplugged in order to get the most out of it.

9. Prayer

I’ve read a lot about using meditation to improve attention spans and I am sure that helps, but as a Christian I think prayer is even better! When we teach our kids to pray, they begin to process the world through communion with God which brings peace, purpose, and clarity.

10. Old Fashioned Playtime

Puzzles,  board games, dress up etc. The simpler the toys the more focus for the child. We have to tone down all the stimuli.

 

I admit I am preaching to myself with this list. I am the worst when it comes to going to my computer to look at my calendar and two hours later I have been on Pinterest, Facebook, and Email and forgot to ever even look at my calendar. I am also guilty of reaching for my phone when I’m  on the toilet for more than 12 seconds (TMI? Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about).

The goldfish information was a wake up call though. The good news is I don’t think this situation we find ourselves in is irreversible. We can expand our attention spans and I hope to be the first to model this for my kids.

 

By | November 16th, 2017|Parenting Tips, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Weaning Feelings and Other Big Emotions

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Elle has been weaned from breastfeeding for almost one week now. She is still a little restless at bedtime as she transitions into a new routine, but for the most part I think we’ve completely crossed over. And to put it bluntly I’m all dried up, so that ship has officially sailed.

I am done having babies and nursing. The goat picture will make sense in a minute.

I was talking to my friend with 5 kids, the one who has walked this motherhood journey with me from day one. I was there with her when her first daughter was born and vice versa. She asked me sympathetically how I was feeling, knowing that Elle is our last baby and I will never breastfeed again. I told her I was sincerely fine with this change.

I’ve been pretty vocal about our family planning on the blog, mostly because it’s something that a lot of people don’t talk about and sometimes it’s a random blogger on the internet that makes you feel a little less alone. I know this because I’ve gotten comments and emails from women who have opened up about the confusing emotional decision to not have anymore children.

In our case,  I knew Elle was the last one when I was pregnant with her. Shortly after her birth we took the leap into having a permanent birth control procedure. We would love to adopt some day so that makes our finality of being finished having kids a lit more murky. Do I save that cute little dinosaur costume in case we adopt a toddler? But back to the topic of breast feeding, that’s something I know I will never be doing again.

I was ready to be done with breastfeeding. It wasn’t sad for me. I nursed each of my four babies for well over a year and Ezie and Elle were basically two years. So I have paid my dues. I was even starting to resent it a little. That’s how I knew it was time to wean Elle. She’s definitely old enough so that’s not the issue. At this point it is a matter of comfort and bonding. For me I was very uncomfortable being woken up at 2:oo am and I don’t think a disgruntled mother scowling  and murmuring is the most positive bonding experience either.

I worked on a goat farm a long time ago and remember watching a not so tiny kid try to get to its mothers teat. As the mother was trying to back away from her child she would turn and bleat. She was done and the kid was old enough to stop. I feel ya momma goat. Even in the animal kingdom some kids need a little extra push and sometimes mommas gotta bleat.

As far as Elle turning two soon. I’m okay with that too, but I am a little wishy washy in my emotions about no longer having a baby. On the one hand I get sad thinking about aging and grown kids. I reminisce about how cute and innocent those precious early years are.

It’s the end of an era, and even with all of the exhaustion it brings, it is a sweet and delightful era.

feelings-about-weaning

After I had Elle I was so hormonal watching her daily changes and rapid growth that I was really grieving the thought of not experiencing any of that ever again. So I made a list. A tangible list. I wrote down dozens and dozens of reasons why I look forward to having older kids and no more babies. Eventually those sad emotions just went a way and I swung the other direction. I started counting down the years until I would no longer need a babysitter to leave the house for a moment. I dream about running in and out of stores alone.

I had a conversation with friends recently that made realize how lucky I am to have four really awesome empowering pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding experiences. Still, after spending the past decade pregnant or nursing I am just ready for this next chapter. It’s time.

I have so many more thoughts on this transition, but I’ll just have to do part two, or three, or four even, because I may feel different after Elle turns two. I may feel different again when she turns three and I’ve crossed the threshold for longest time I have gone without being pregnant. Sigh. I’ll just keeping feeling and blogging.

Onward we go, upward they grow. Thank you God for this incredible journey.

By | September 11th, 2017|Babies & Toddlers, Motherhood, Pregnancy & Birth, Uncategorized|2 Comments

Top 10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Motherhood

mom-things-ive-learned-in-10-years

I can’t believe I now have a decade of parenting under my belt. No more rookie status for this Messy Mom; I’m going Pro. Actually, I’ll save that status for mothers of teenagers, but I think I’m ready for semi-pro. Yeah, that’s me. One decade of experience. I’ve finally found my footing, even if it is on top of a few legos. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned along this motherhood journey so far.

1. You don’t need all the junk they market to parents.  

If I were stranded on a deserted island to raise my children and could choose three things to have with me I would pick

  • The Bible
  • A double stroller
  • Chocolate chip cookies

and I would have it all delivered by Amazon and repurpose the box. I could totally live with that.

2. Moms aren’t the only ones who can have an appreciation for mini vans.

They are also well received by the hundreds of cars that will NOT have their sides dinged by careless children abruptly exiting a vehicle. You’re welcome.

3.  There is no amount of admiration that compares to what you feel watching your precious angel child sleep peacefully…

and the most frustration you will ever feel is often the moments leading up to that point.

4. Don’t tell kids ahead of time when a fun thing is happening.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT announce a fun upcoming activity until you are ready to listen to your child ask/talk about said activity incessantly until the moment the activity actually takes place.

5. Kids are fast.

Turn around for one minute and suddenly they’ve climbed on top of the counter and devoured half a sleeve of Oreos. They can run in the library at Olympic level speed while you “whisper scream” at them to walk. When I get tired of chasing my kids I hold onto the hope that it will all pay off someday in the form of some kind of athletic scholarship.

6. Kids are slow.

Forget what I said in #5. All of my dreams of a scholarship or college in general disappear when I see how slow my children move when we are trying to get out the door. Or when we are in public and someone needs to get by and says excuse me. I try to coerce the child who suddenly has a fascination with the ceiling and has lost the ability to understand English in that moment. Time to bring in the arm yank.

7 .Eating out at a sit-down restaurant is like going to the dentist.

It’s a great way to spend a lot of money on a painful experience.

8. Children aren’t afraid to tell it like it is.

Like when your four year old needs a new pair of glasses and you have a terrible experience at the eyeglass store. You walk away venting about how bad the service is and that you will never come back to that establishment again. Then an hour later when the frames are ready you go back in to pick up the glasses and the child shouts loud enough for the entire store to hear, “I thought you said you would NEVER come back to this place again!”

9.  Your “mother-age” is the age of your oldest child.

When you have your first child they are a newborn and you are a newmom. When your child is 5 you are a 5 year old mom. Keeping this in perspective allows us moms to cut ourselves some slack.  Now that I am a 10 year old mom I am starting to get pretty confident at this gig, but I’m still young. I’m still learning and I am also getting ready to go through a lot of hormonal obstacles, i.e. puberty!

10. Now I understand what my parents went through and how awesome they are.

Hopefully my kids will also have this same epiphany, even if it does take 20 years, give or take.

By | August 30th, 2017|Laughter, Parenting Tips, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Meet Isabella

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For SJ’s birthday this year I thought it would be really special if she got an American Girl doll and and then we could take the doll to the American Girl Doll Hospital for hearing aids. The problem is I knew we couldn’t afford an American Girl doll right now. Normally I would just buy second hand, but even then I couldn’t find one anywhere near my price range. You can hardly touch them for under $75.

So I had this wild idea to post an ISO on some yard sale sites on Facebook.

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And the response was INCREDIBLE. Strangers were sharing my post and contacting friends and offering dolls left and right. I could hardly keep up with the outpouring of generosity!  I had one lady send me a private message saying that she was deaf in one ear and really wanted to give a doll to my daughter. She said that she would let me choose one from the three that she owns STILL IN THE BOX! I tried to refuse her offer telling her it was too generous. How could I accept such a personal and valuable gift from someone I don’t even know? She told me it was what she wanted to do and the doll needed to be played with. In almost no time at all I met up with her and gave her a huge hug while expressing my deepest gratitude.

american-girl-doll-donation

Then the doll waited  and waited quietly in my closet until the big day final came. The gift bag was so big we had to move it from the table to the floor so that our little birthday girl could reach inside. As SJ pulled out the doll she instantly fell in love with her new friend.

meetisabella

I explained how her name is Isabelle and that she is going to get hearing aids. SJ calls her Isabella because she told me there is a girl named Isabella at her school who has cochlear implants.

americangirldoll

It’s only day three of having Isabella and SJ has hardly let her leave her side. Sometimes I mistakenly call her a doll and SJ will correct me saying “She is not a baby. She is not a doll. She is Isabella.”

It’s been really sweet to watch and later this week SJ and Isabella will take a trip with Mémé (my mom) to go to the American Girl Doll store at The Mall of America.

american-girl-doll-surprise

The original idea of having hearing aids put in on the spot fizzled out when I learned that it doesn’t work that way. You have to ship the doll to the AG hospital which is not located in the store and then they will ship her back. That’s okay though, we still plan to do that and the outcome will be the same.

On top of all that I am wanting to start a non-profit for special needs girls that have hearing aids, or a wheel chair, arm crutches, a service dog etc. to be able to get a doll that they can relate to. All of these disability accessories that I have mentioned are offered through American Girl. Just think of all the dolls that need a new loving home that could be donated to girls that would otherwise never be able to have a doll that shared their uniqueness.

There is still so much that would have to happen to set up a doll sharing program for special needs girls, but I just can’t shake the idea so I do believe that it is something the Lord placed in my lap.

I want to give a special thanks to the two women that donated dolls already and for the many others that were willing to. These days “feel good stories” are hard to come by in this divisive political climate, but I am encouraged to know that there are still so many people out there whose hearts are overflowing with kindness. This whole experience has been such a blessing and I am encouraged to never stop paying it forward.

hearinglossdoll

By | March 6th, 2017|Hearing Loss, Special Needs|1 Comment

iPhone Cases and Apps That You Will Love

First of all I would like to say thank you to JimmyCASE for giving me the chance to review this awesome iPhone SE wallet case.

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The JimmyCASE iPhone card holder is  ideal for a variety of situations.

For dudes, it’s super slim so it slips in and out of your pocket with ease. It can also eliminate the need for a bulky wallet, which means a lot less junk in the trunk. The JimmyCASE can hold 6 cards plus cash. Everything slides in easily and stays put. It’s amazing.

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For moms like me, I still carry a purse most days, but I love this iPhone case. It especially comes in handy for the many situations when I just want to bring my phone and a little bit of cash.

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For example, when I go to the Children’s Museum I need to carry my phone, ID, membership card, and my debit card. Before the JimmyCASE I would carry everything loosey goosey in my pockets. I was constantly worried that I would loose something important because I have had stuff slip out of my pockets on more than one occasion. The alternative was to bring another bag to carry my wallet in. As a mom, I’ve always got my hands full, so I would rather not bring my purse. It was a conundrum! The JimmyCASE solves all of that. Whether it’s the beach, hiking trails, a concert, or anywhere else I want to pack light, it’s JimmyCASE to the rescue.

My only complaint is that the top power button and side volume buttons are difficult to push with the case on; I am told that it is because it is new and it should break in with time. That makes sense. My favorite shoes are the same way.

You get to customize the look of your iPhone card holder by choosing from an assortment of colors and combinations. Each case is handmade with a silicone bumper and genuine mahogany wood core. The “Magic Elastic Pocket” is designed to never ever stretch out.

The best part about JimmyCASE: they are all made in the good ol’ USA. You can’t beat that.

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Now onto my favorite apps.

  1. Cozi– A long long time ago when SJ was first diagnosed with hearing loss I had to get organized to keep track of all the Doctors appointments. So I went to you dear readers and asked for help. You all came through when you recommended the Cozi app family calendar/organizer. I use it everyday and would be absolutely lost without it!
  2. List Ease– This is my grocery list app. Cozi actually has an option for shopping lists, but I like List Ease because it automatically catogorizes the items in the department that they are located in store. Also, I keep multiple lists labeled and organized easily. Lastly, when you check something off of the list a little animated cartoon comes and checks it off with a pencil. If the kids are shopping with me I keep them entertained by letting them be in charge of Mr. Check Mark and they love this. It’s the little things.img_6640
  3. Disney Magic Timer– This is the Disney Oral-B app that helps kids brush their teeth, and it has been a huge game changer for their oral hygiene habits. First you select a brusher, then when you scan your toothbrush a screen of white bubbles comes up. The timer is set to 2:00 minutes and as the child brushes their teeth the suds are scrubbed away to reveal a colorful Disney picture. disney-timer-app-carsThen the picture acts as a reward sticker for their own personal sticker album. Finally, the toothbrush calendar is a way you can keep track of their brushing. BRILLIANT!brushing-calendar
  4. NBC– Nothing fancy about this app, just a chance to acknowledge that I am on the This Is Us bandwagon. I watch almost no TV at all, in fact I don’t have network television so the only way I can access an NBC show is online. For those that watch, wasn’t this weeks episode sooo good!? I love what they are doing with Kevin’s story. I did not see that coming.
  5. OverDrive– This is for my library audio books. I love me some free audio books, let me tell ya. This app gets the job done. I just recently finished “Raising Grateful Kids in and Entitled World” by Kristen Welch and I would definitely recommend it.

I’ve got other favorites like Trulia (we are currently house hunting, more on that later) and the Bible app, Walmart grocery pick up app, email, social media etc. Those are all the main ones. I keep it pretty simple.

Those are my picks for phone cases and apps. What is on your phone?

 

By | January 27th, 2017|Motherhood, Uncategorized|4 Comments

Digital Citizenship

Sometimes it’s scary to think of raising kids in the digital age that we live in. Terrorism, pornography, bullying, and so much more can creep into your home via the computer screen. It wasn’t like that when most of us were kids, but on the bright side our kids have such an advantage over this past generation and I’ll explain why.

The internet wasn’t really around until I was in middle school (I was born in ’82 by the way). I remember visiting a friend’s house who was not the best influence and fortunately that relationship didn’t last. We went down to the basement where that boxy cream colored IBM sat and she logged into the dial up AOL service. As the computer dinged and beeped for what felt like half an hour we talked about teachers and boys and acted like 12 year olds, because we were 12 years old. Finally we were online! She knew more about this world wide web stuff than I did and she quickly moved her mouse around on The Simpson’s mouse pad until she arrived at her determined destination. The chat room.

I just sat there and stared at the blinking cursor on the screen as she started typing away. It was totally random small talk with strangers. Supposedly boys. The small talk then esclated from How is it going? to I think you’re hot. faster than Homer can say Doh! She even said I love you (and other things). It was so bizarre, because there was no way for this guy to know whether or not she was hot and there was no way for my friend to fall in love with someone online within a few minutes. I was an adolescent and even I was mature enough to see how ridiculous it was! But for a lot of kids there were no boundaries when it came to the information they gave or what they looked at online. There wasn’t software to filter out objectionable content nor was there a way for parents to track what their kids were looking at or who they were talking to. There was no Youtube Kids or Kiddle. We only got those two sites within the past year! So as technology gets darker and scarier we’ve also made huge advancements to make it safer. That’s sad for the kids that were the pioneers of the internet, but really great news for this generation of children!

One reason this is on my mind lately is because Z got a phone for his 9th birthday.

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For the record it is his dad’s old iphone and it can’t make calls, text, or us data. He is completely connected to his dad’s account and if he tries to go onto a website or download and app it sends a text to J which allows him to choose whether or not to approve the action. Z doesn’t get to take it out of the house and only gets it with permission. There are a lot of cool educational apps that he uses and I am really happy that he has the device. Even with all the monitoring I know we can’t keep him in a bubble forever so we have had lots of discussions about internet safety and have even gone through the workbook “Good Pictures Bad Pictures“. I’ll do a separate post about that eventually, but if you want to discuss pornography with your child I HIGHLY recommend it.

On top of that he has had lessons in online safety from Cub Scouts in order to earn his cyber chip badge.

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One day I asked Z if he cared if I used his name online and he said “Yes and no.” I felt bad because I really want to respect his privacy and I asked him to elaborate. He said that while he didn’t really mind, he learned in Cub Scouts that you shouldn’t give your name or personal information on the internet. That was a proud momma moment for me.

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On a side note, I realize that I share a whole lot more than some people would be comfortable with. On the other hand there are people I respect (including famous people) whose children’s faces and names are out there for all the world to see online, on TV, and in books. I think it’s a personal decision and I choose not to judge anyone one way or the other.

Last night was parent information night at Z’s school and I learned even more how much the internet is integrated into their daily lives. However, the thing that they stressed over and over is how serious they are about online privacy and safety. They use a curriculum called Digital Citizenship and they went over all of the basics with the students right off the bat when school started and will continue to cover more throughout the year.

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Aside from being Amish technology is a part of life and just like proper hygiene, or safely crossing a street, or driving, internet etiquette and safety has to be taught. Thankfully I made it through the internet dark ages without too much trouble, but I have friends who can’t say the same. It was new and we had/still have a lot to learn. However, I am grateful for the resources that are out there and the leadership that is making internet safety a priority. There was no such thing as digital citizenship when I was Z’s age, but times have changed and as his mom I want to be proactive in equipping him for those changes.

By | September 14th, 2016|Parenting Tips, Schooling, Uncategorized|1 Comment