Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?!!?

Now that I've caught you all up on Elena & her speech development, I want to start sharing some of our funny interactions. I mentioned that I understand her most of the time, but there is still a learning curve...
 
A month or so ago, Elena started saying the same phrase very often. It sounded like, "E-ma A-ba, E-ma A-ba" & she should almost sing it. I would ask what she means or if she could show me...she would smile but couldn't make me understand.
 
On one of the rare occasions I was home to take Elena to preschool, she started her sing song "E-ma A-ba, E-ma A-ba" & I asked pleadingly, "What does this mean?" & she replied, "S-koo" "School?" I asked...she replied, "Ya, own-ee Fi-day, no Two-day"
 
That's when it all became clear to me!!! You see, Elena's preschool is run out of a Jewish synagogue! The have Shabbat Party every Friday!! She was singing, "Ima" & "Abba"!!! When I told this story to her teacher, she explained that there is a Shabbat song they sing every time. What made us laugh is that Elena reminded us Shabbat Party is only Fridays, not Tuesdays!
 
This is Elena's 1st time getting to play Ima.
She was so very proud!!!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Say Anything


This post is a long time coming & far too long overdue…Elena’s speech. For those of you who have parented a toddler, remember when they were a year or so old & started saying words & then sentences…remember how exciting that was? In a nut shell, that is where Elena & I are now. A difference being that since Elena is so much older; her thoughts are that much more complex. It’s unbelievable what she comes up with. She has been a sponge these last 2+ years, taking everything in & now that she’s becoming able to express herself, it’s amazing to know what is going on in her head! It is so exciting to be able to understand (most of the time) what Elena is trying to say & she is really coming out of her shell as she gains confidence in her ability to communicate.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we were enrolled in a program through our provincial Early Words initiative that ran from last September (2013) thru December. Elena was thoroughly evaluated & identified as having an expressive language speech delay. The purpose of the program was really more about teaching me, as her parent, how to better facilitate her being able to develop her speech. I learned a great deal about speech development. I know I didn’t cause her speech delay but I realized how, in many ways, I made it so much harder for Elena.

In the program I learned many techniques. I learned that I needed to let Elena lead the conversation or play by Observing, Waiting & Listening. I realized how important it was for me to get down on her level & play face to face. I learned that I needed to identify objects in a way that made it easier for her to imitate. Me saying, “That’s a ball” was too much. She needed to hear, “Ball” so she could imitate that more successfully; then later adding descriptions, “Blue ball”. It was important for me to change how I spoke to her to. I knew she could indicate yes or no so I would phrase all my questions so she could answer this way. This did nothing to help her speech development. I had to make the conscious effort to ask open ended questions & also offer her choice so she’d have to articulate an answer. Every situation became an opportunity to encourage her speech development.

Because Elena had, on her own, developed her own signs & gestures to express what she was trying to say, I was encouraged to teach her signs. I will admit that when the pathologist made this suggestion, in my head I was extremely frustrated. I was looking for Elena to learn to speak & felt that teaching her signs would be a step backwards. Why would she try to speak if she could just sign? But I know I’m not the expert so I taught Elena the first 3 signs the pathologist advised, Milk, Juice & Water. Well lo & behold, didn’t Elena attempt to speak the words as she signed! I was hooked! We download the My Smart Hands app & were on our way. I’ve already mentioned how she would play with the app on her own & teach herself signs!

I was thoroughly amazed at the progress Elena made but I thought that we’d go through this program & Elena would be “cured” & we’d be on our merry way. That’s obviously not how this works…once the program ended, we had to be placed on the waiting list for further services. I was told we here near the top. We saw the speech pathologist, Ms. D, who ran the program, a few times after but her caseload was full & she couldn’t take on Elena for the amount of service Elena really needed. I am grateful, however, that Ms. D advocated for Elena to get the services she did need.

You see, I learned that you really have to be the squeaky wheel…but I really don’t like to be squeaky. I get really anxious when I have to “nag” people about things. I hate having to make repeated phone calls saying, “You said you’d do such & such…how’s that coming?” But Elena needed me to…I could see what a struggle it was for her to have so many big ideas in her head & have them blocked by her inability to express them. You could see the wheels turning as she tried to make you understand what she was thinking…then the look of utter defeat when she realized you just didn’t get it. What we had learned in that first program had taken us this far…but she needed more.

So I sucked it up…I got over myself & made those nagging phone calls. Every two weeks I would call Ms. D asking if there was any news on getting Elena services. She in turn would contact the powers that be & remind them that my little girl needed help. We’d be told that Elena was at the top of the list & I would receive a call back within a week. Then 2 weeks would go by without any word. I knew Elena was at a critical juncture. She was trying so hard but the frustration was building. I was very afraid she would just give up. So I kept calling…

We just kept getting the run around. Ms. D would call the program, they would tell her Elena was at the top of their list & they would call me, I’d hear nothing & call Ms. D…I cannot tell you enough how grateful I am to Ms. D because she got tired of the loop before me & went pleading to the other pathologists in her own department. Thankfully Ms. K had an opening. She could take us on for 1 hour a week & even had a 4pm time slot so I would be able to attend.

We started with Ms. K in July. Her program takes what we previously learned a step further. She breaks down the common sounds in speech & starts there. She combined those sounds with gesture cues. I knew this would be successful based on Elena’s previous progress with her own gestures & the signs we learned. Now that Elena has practiced & learned these basic sounds, she is able to combine them into words & those words into sentences. She has gone from a vocabulary of maybe 20-30 words in July to well over 200 now as well as 4+ word sentences.

Elena & I have our homework every night. Ms. K gives us flash cards with words & pictures & I use the gesture cues for Elena to say the word. Every week our stack of cards grows larger. We also combine the cards to make small sentences. Ms. K is as amazed as I am with Elena’s progress. Often now I don’t even have to cue Elena, she sees the card & knows the word. Ms. K explained that this is early literacy. Not only is Elena learning to say words & sounds, this is also a first step to her learning how to read.

I was also amazed & surprised to learn that Elena knows how to count! She just didn’t have the words for the numbers. She can now clearly say numbers one to ten, with just a little trouble with six & seven but those are more complex sounds.

It is remarkable to see Elena blossom in this way, to really get to see her personality shining through. I’m also so very grateful that we got this help before she enters public school. If we’d waited until then, who knows how defeated & frustrated she’d have felt by then. I am so thrilled to be witness to this wonderful little girl come into her own!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Let's Do This!

http://www.stirrup-queens.com/2014/10/the-2014-creme-de-la-creme-list-is-now-open-for-submissions/


It's that time a year again...please take the time to review your archives, pick your best post & submit it to the Crème!
 
 
Thank you so much to Mel for doing this for the 9th straight year!!


Friday, October 10, 2014

1st Anniversary of my 39th Birthday

When I was turning 30, I did not want to acknowledge it...for a few years, I didn't say I was celebrating a birthday, instead I'd say I was marking the X anniversary of my 29th birthday. I didn't like who I was when I was 30 & I didn't like where I was in life. I had nothing I thought I'd have by that point in my life. I felt I had no purpose or direction. 

Now, today, I turned 40. I am glad to be forty....wait, what did I just say? Yup, you heard me correctly. I am glad. I feel like it's a huge accomplishment & I am proud to have made it here. There was a point in my life that I truly didn't think I'd see 40. And now here I am & I could not ask for anything better. I have a job that I enjoy, family & friends whom are priceless...& I have Elena. 

Today was an awesome day! I got to wake up to the smiles & giggles of my amazing daughter. After seeing her off to preschool, I got to go back to bed! And sleep for another THREE hours!! Talk about luxury!

Elena surprised me when she got home from school (with my mom's help, of course) with a bunch of balloons! And the most perfect card!

We then headed off to the Rockton World's Fair! Let me tell you, there is no better way to feel young when turning 40 than to ride a bunch of amusement rides with a 3 year old! It felt so amazing to laugh and scream with my little girl!

We then met up with some friends to watch the Demolition Derby...Elena had her first Funnel Cake & we got to ride some more rides (at night, in the dark! Elena was in awe!) before heading home. My exhausted girl was asleep before we left the parking lot & didn't even wake up when I carried her inside, put her into her pajamas & slid her into bed.

Today was the most perfect way to turn 40!!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I'm Late!!


Since I am neither TTC nor engaging in sexual activity of any kind for that matter, this is only significant to mention because my cycles have been wonky for a while & I want to talk about it.

Before TTC in 2010, my cycles were very regular, like clockwork, 28 days bang on. Upon getting my BFP in June 2010, I didn’t have another period until January 2012. They started out pretty normal until last year. They started getting shorter, averaging 24-25 days. They were light & only mildly crampy with barely there PMS symptoms.

This was during a time I was trying to reconcile myself to being one & done. It was a factor in helping me get to acceptance as I thought my body was telling me that it wouldn’t have happened anyway. It felt like easy logic.

I started getting vicious PMS…I’m talking major hormonal meltdowns. I felt out of control emotionally, like a raging lunatic. It reminded me of when I was pregnant & when I weaned Elena. It felt more than PMS too. It wasn’t just in the days leading up to my period either. It seemed to rear up around ovulation. I couldn’t trust myself. I convinced myself I was heading into perimenopause.

Then my cycles started inching back to 28 days and for the first time since before getting pregnant, I started getting tender breast, tender being an understatement. I mean, my girls! Ouch! It all felt like my body was primed for conception.

For months now time feels like it is on fast forward. Time feels marked by my cycles. One just seems to end when another starts. Even though I’m not TTC, I feel this pressure like I should be. That each month that passes is a waste of a last chance. A monthly reminder of what could have been. It’s frustrating because I’m truly content now with it being Elena & I. I do feel our family is complete.

I am now 3 weeks away from the first anniversary of my 39th birthday…oh fine, make me say it! My 40th birthday! I am, for all intents & purposes, comfortable in turning 40. Turning 30 was extremely hard because I was nowhere near where I thought I would have or should have been. Now, I have everything I’d hoped for…well except for romantic love but there’s still time for that….Any-hoooo, basically it feels like I’m living the dream…my dream, & then every month I get zapped, testing my resolve. I blame the hormones.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Apart at the Seams - Book Tour


This post is in participation with the Book Tour Lori is hosting for Melissa Ford’s new book, Apart at the Seams.

http://www.amazon.com/Apart-at-Seams-Melissa-Ford/dp/1611945038/


I greatly anticipated this book by MelissaFord; third in a series that includes Life from Scratch & Measure of Love. Apart at the Seams can be read on its own but if you enjoy it (& I know you would!) then do give Life from Scratch & Measure of Love a read too!

The main character in Life from Scratch & Measure of Love is Rachel. Apart at the Seams is written from the perspective of Arianna, Rachel’s best friend. Apart at the Seams follows the events from Measure of Love but from Arianna’s perspective. For me, it was a brilliant way to remind us all to try to see life from the other side of the coin.

What I love about Melissa’s writing is that she immerses me in the story. I become emotionally attached to her characters & find myself thinking of them long after I’ve finished the book, wondering how they’re doing as though they’re old friends & not works of fiction.

~~~~~

Three questions from the tour group & my answers:

1) Marriage is one of the main themes in the story. Do you think it is possible for a couple to share a long-term domestic relationship without actually being officially married? Why is our society so keen on the expectation of marriage in a romantic relationship despite the high divorce rates?

It is absolutely possible to share a long term domestic relationship without being officially married. Just because a couple doesn’t stand in front of their friends & family & say vows & make marriage promises doesn’t make their commitment to each other less valid. A marriage in and of itself is a private matter between the couple, why do they need to make such a public declaration to make it valid in the eyes of society?

2) Arianna tells Rachel, "I think there are people we should be with at different stages in our life, and maybe those stages stretch on for fifty years or maybe they're over in a few months" as a reason for not considering marriage. Do you think not knowing the span a relationship may last is reason enough to not commit completely?

I feel we would do ourselves a grave disservice if we didn’t allow ourselves to commit completely to a relationship, whether romantic or otherwise, just because we don’t know the span the relationship will have. I can only imagine how shallow our interactions would be if we all applied this theory to our relationships. Knowing a relationship could have a short span feels like more of a reason for me to really put my whole self into it & get the very most out of it knowing our time would be fleeting as opposed to knowing a relationship will span fifty years & I know I have ample time to cultivate the relationship.

3) It feels as though Arianna would become irritated with Ethan for not doing things she needed him to do yet she often wouldn't verbalize clearly what it was she wanted or needed. Why do you think asking for exactly what you need makes you feel so vulnerable?

For me, admitting I “need” at all makes me feel like I’m failing, like I should be able to do it all & by admitting I can’t means I’m failing at it all. Feeling like I’m failing is a pretty vulnerable feeling. Which, logically, I find ridiculous because I would never think that of anyone who expressed a need to me or asked for my help. The last thing I would think of them is that they’re failing.

To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at LavenderLuz.com.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hot Fun in the Summertime


Okay, maybe not “hot” fun…this summer has been oddly cool but that has made our weekend adventures more comfortable than the usual 40 degree humidity (that’s 104 Fahrenheit).

We went to FaeryFest again & of course Elena insisted on having her face painted again. The artists were more pro this time & Elena’s turned out beautifully:


 
I really like this festival. It has a very authentic medieval feel. The majority of people who attend dress up & really get into character. They have many vendor booths, especially since moving to a new, larger location, & some amazing artists sell their wares there.

My favourite part about this festival though is the authentic jousting. These aren’t actors, they use real lances & suits of armour, and it’s amazing.

 

video
 

After the joust they announced that you could pay $5 for a ride on the horses. Elena right away says she wants a turn…I was skeptical that she would go through with it but lined up none the less quite sure she’d chicken out at the last minute. Not my brave girl!!

 

We had an amazing time…though by the end of the day, Elena looked more like she’d attended an Alice Cooper concert:

 

This year Elena has shown an interest in trains so we decided to go to Day out with Thomas. I had been twice before with my nephews so knew Elena was at a perfect age to enjoy it & she sure did!



 

All day long, what Elena asked for most was a Thomas balloon…not just a regular balloon but a large, train shaped one!! I thought they would cost $30 but they were only $15 so I promised Elena we would buy one when we were leaving. Throughout the day we would see these balloons fly away followed by cries from a child. Finally, when we were on our way out, I bought one for Elena & warned her to be very careful. We went to the car & I was loading everything into the trunk. All of a sudden I heard a blood curdling scream that made my heart stop. I thought Elena had been hurt but in the instant I looked up I saw it…her balloon flying away!!! She was heartbroken & I felt awful! I knew I should have put the balloon directly into the car. I’d planned to yet got distracted…I felt so guilty. I’d promised her this balloon all day & she’d been so well behaved & had really earned it!! So I ran back in & bought her a second balloon…I guess getting her a balloon cost me $30 after all!!

Another exciting summer event…I took Elena to the movie theatre for the first time!!


 

We went to see Planes 2: Fire & Rescue & she had a great time! There were a few scary parts but she just covered her eyes…she got a little bored mid way through but hung in there & can’t wait for the next time!!

Elena & I went to visit our close friends. The boys (10 & 8 years old) adore Elena & the feeling is mutual!! They had baseball tournaments & we went to cheer them on. Well the weekend started off with a bang, literally! As we were leaving the baseball park Friday night Elena was running ahead, she was very excited as were we heading back to my friend’s house to go swimming. She turned to look back at us & ran right into a TREE!!! The impact was so hard; she bounced right off & landed on her bum!! Oh that cry!! I thought it was bad when she lost the balloon!!! This was much worse!!

Thankfully she wasn’t badly injured & we knew she was okay when she asked between sobs if she could still go swimming!!

Just minutes afterwards

That night

The next morning

The day after
 

One of our best days this summer was at the Cactus Festival…I’m not sure why it’s called the Cactus Festival; I didn’t see any cacti but we sure had fun!


 

We went to a water park for my company picnic this year & Elena got to try Mini Putting for the first time! We made it a good 7 holes & that was enough! Lol! I couldn’t convince her to use the club correctly. I mean, she’s played hockey, sort of…we’ll try again next year!


 

It was an amazing summer! I can hardly believe it’s already September! Everything feels like it’s in fast forward!

And now today is Elena’s Half-Birthday! I wanted to get her something special & fun but wracking my brain, I couldn’t think of anything…until…

Let me tell you something about my girl. She LOVES to go to the mall! She is the ultimate window shopper & it’s a great way to spend a rainy, cool day. She makes me so proud that we can go into any store, including The Disney Store, & not have her asking for a single thing & when I say it’s time to go she does so with a wave good bye! What is hilarious is, when I agree to go, she insists on dressing up!

 

We have 2 fancy dresses that were handed down to us & Elena loves to dress up in them. She calls them her twirly dresses. When I was off on Tuesday, I was in the next town over from mine for some errands & had a brainwave!! This town is a bit higher class & has an amazing second hand children’s clothing store…I went in & hit pay dirt! I found these 2 gorgeous twirly dresses for just $6.50 each!


 

But the biggest score was this beautiful princess dress…including Tiara for just $20!!

 

Elena was overjoyed!!! She couldn’t have been happier with her half birthday present!!