Thursday, October 27

Five Years

Five years ago yesterday we learned of Drew's hearing loss. Yesterday, we didn't even remember. Not a clue that it was the anniversary of his hearing loss. Drew went to the pumpkin patch with his class, told me all about the straw maze he played in and how his teacher gave him a spider ring. It was a pretty cool day.

That's what happens when life is so normal. When early detection and intervention work perfectly.

Click here to read about Drew's diagnosis.

Monday, October 3

Padawan Drew

We've been busy celebrating Drew's 5th Birthday! It's hard to believe that our little boy is now five years old. We celebrated with a family trip to Disney World - even the Grandparents flew to Florida to celebrate the big event.

One of the highlights of our trip was the Jedi Training Academy at Hollywood Studios:

Seriously, how cool is that? Drew's Dad and I both felt such a sense of happiness watching the little guy on stage. Five years ago, as he was diagnosed with profound hearing loss, we had no idea what these five years would bring for him. A few days ago, Drew was standing on a stage, listening to instructions from from his Jedi Master, just like all of his little Padawan friends, without any help. It's truly amazing.

Drew is now obsessed with Star Wars. He woke this morning asking to go to Target and buy a Storm Trooper helmet. Drew used birthday money this weekend to buy two Star Wars Lego sets. It's actually a bit out of control. But watching him become a boy, who's really into Star Wars, is also totally awesome.

Happy 5th Birthday Drew. We hope it's not one that you'll soon forget!

Tuesday, September 6

Alter Ego

Drew really enjoys dressing up as Superheros. He asks nearly every night to watch an episode of Spiderman or Batman "on demand." He uses his imagination to play with his Batcave, and his Spiderman trucks, and just really loves his Superhero friends.

So, it came as no surprise to us, when we were getting ready to go out to dinner one night, that Drew came downstairs dressed as Batman. And instead of fighting with him, and waiting for the twenty minutes it would have taken for him to get dressed, we let him go out to dinner dressed as Batman.

On our drive, we were talking, and Drew's Dad turned to Drew and said, "Hey, Drew, would you like..." But Drew's Dad couldn't finish his sentance. He was interrupted by Drew, who wanted to quickly remind his Dad, "Dad!! I'm not Drew. I'm Batman. Get it right."

O.K. Drew. Our mistake.

Thursday, August 25

And He's Off!

Drew happily ran to the bus on Wednesday, off for his first day of his last year of preschool. I can't believe that this little boy will turn five years old in just under one months time.

Drew loves his bus driver, Mr. Joe. We came to love Mr. Joe as a family last year. He is so kind to both of the kids and really takes care of Drew as if he is his own child. Mr. Joe was out on a medical leave at the end of the school year last year, and Drew was really missing him. The first day of school meant that Drew would finally see Mr. Joe! Drew could hardly contain his excitement to see his bus driver, and bound on the the bus faster than any child I've ever seen. Drew gave Mr. Joe a huge hug, and promptly said, "I can jump off the diving board!"

We're looking forward to a really fun year of preschool, as we prepare Drew to enter the mainstream next year in Kindergarten. It's going to be a great year!

Tuesday, June 28

Four Years

We awoke on a beautiful, sunny morning four years ago today, knowing that our son would hear his very first sounds at his cochlear implant activation that day. We knew that the real work would begin that day. We knew that we would be deeply involved in speech and auditory training for the foreseeable future. We knew, no matter what may have crossed our path, that it was the beginning of our sons road to talking and communicating with his family and the world.

What we didn't know four years ago was how remarkably normal our life would become in this short time. That therapy appointments would really become a distant memory, a thing of the past. We didn't know how naturally hearing and speaking would come to him, but it did, and with his cochlear implants he has soared. Four years later our summer is filled with t-ball games where Drew can hear just like his teammates; it's a summer filled with trips to the pool where Drew can hear in the water. It's filled with everything that a little boys life should be filled with.

What we didn't know four years ago was that Drew was clearly born to talk. Happy 4th Hearing Day to our Drew.

Thursday, May 26

Year End Report

We recently had a meeting with Drew's teacher to discuss his performance this year. Overall, we were really pleased with his evaluation.

Drew has strong parental support.
He is a bright chlid who learns quickly and easily.
He has good pre-reading skills.

Although he does not qualify for OT services, Drew tends to have fine motor weakness.
Drew needs extra time to search for vocabulary that he wishes to use in conversation.
Drew can be impulsive at times.

Overall, Drew has had an outstanding year of preschool. Drew achieved all of his IEP speech objectives at or above the state criteria level. Drew has made good progress on his auditory skills, and can discriminate between nasal and non-nasal consonants in the beginning position of the word. He can follow directions through audition only using four critical elements. Drew can recognize and name all of the letters of the alphabet. He can now write 24 letters (he has difficulty with K and Y - his teacher felt that his capital Y looked more like a lower case y). Drew can answer 'where', 'when' and 'what' questions after listening to a story.

I think the thing I most notice about Drew is his interest in doing things that are 'school' related. Last year, the boy only wanted to run around with a basketball in his hands, dribbling and shooting hoops. This year, he actually enjoys writing, reading and drawing pictures. On more than one occasion I have found him coloring, on his own, where he actually had to get the supplies out of the closet by himself and started making a picture himself. Drew can write his first and last name quite well now, and he is doing much better with drawing pictures that actually resemble a story or person.

Due to his age, Drew will have one more year of preschool before beginning Kindergarten in 2012.

Tuesday, May 10

T-Ball Helmets, Meet Cochlear Implants

Drew's t-ball season is in full swing, and our quest to find a batting helmet that will work with his cochlear implants has finally ended! It was very difficult to find a helmet that would not knock Drew's processors off while being put on his head, and with all of the padding in the helmet, it is next to impossible to adjust his processors after the helmet is on (as I typically do with a baseball cap).

After a long shopping trip to our neighborhood Dick's Sporting Goods Store, we found the Adidas Incite Batting helmet, complete with an adjustable dial! This way, we can make the helmet area wider while physically putting the helmet over Drew's processors, and then can tighten the helmet once it is on. This helmet, in conjunction with an Under Armor Skull Cap seemed to do the trick for Drew's game this past weekend.

Thank goodness! If this past weekends excitement is any indication, this boy is gonna be playing ball for years!

Monday, March 14

New Sounds

As we sat in a restaurant on Sunday afternoon, eating our lunch, Drew leaned over to his Daddy and said, "What's that sound?" After pausing for a moment, we realized that Drew was hearing the sound coming from the hand-held soda machine a bartender was using.

We weren't really shocked that Drew heard the sound, as we were sitting fairly close to the bar. But we were surprised that he isolated the sound in a crowded restaurant, and recognized that he didn't know the sound, and was so intrigued by it that he just had to learn what the sound was.

Nearly four years later, and I'm still seeing my little guy hear new sounds for the first time. Pretty cool.

Friday, March 11

Green Beer Day for Me! St. Patty's Day for Toddlers!

In what seems to be my distant past, St. Patty's Day meant one thing - Green Beer! Nowadays, it is a day to play silly leprechaun tricks on my kids and make crazy Irish inspired crafts. Coming up with craft and food ideas can be difficult - there are just so many holidays, and they are all back-to-back, so it seems like I'm just cleaning up glitter and glue from Valentine's Day when St. Patty's Day is here!

Crafts are so important in the lives of children. They can explore different textures and materials, and they can really use their little imaginations. It also helps that crafts offer a huge language opportunity for our children - hearing or not.

I'm not a very crafty person by nature, nor do I have a ton of extra time on my hands to try to be crafty! So, where do I go to find some of my most favorite craft ideas? Family Fun is my go-to resource. I always look for ideas on this site before googling or anything. Sometimes I find that their crafts are a little too old for my toddlers, but with some pre-work on my part or tweaking of the craft, I can make most work.

This weekend, we're going to make shamrocks and leprechaun mirrors. And, for our St. Patty's dessert, we're going to whip up these Rainbow Cupcakes. I like things that are simple and easy and fun for all!

What are some of your favorite craft sites for toddlers?

Erin Go Braugh!

Monday, March 7

Dinsey World with Toddlers

Wow! It's hard to believe that our first trip to Disney World was nearly one year ago! We had such a wonderful time at the most magical place on Earth. Since our return I have helped many of our friends plan and organize their trip to Disney World, so I thought I would share our experience here.

We stayed on Disney property, and I would highly recommend spending a little extra money to stay on property when traveling with toddlers. The Magical Express service from the airport was very convenient, especially since we did not have to claim our own luggage upon arrival. Disney claims your luggage and delivers it to your hotel for you, which with toddlers is a necessity. In addition, we found it quite convenient to either take the monorail or the bus service to and from the parks. We never waited more than a few minutes for transportation, and it was quite nice to come back to the hotel for a quick afternoon nap or swim in the pool after a long morning in the parks.

We also purchased the Park Hopper ticket. We really enjoyed going to one park in the morning, going back to the hotel for a "rest period" and then going to a different park in the evening. This way, we were able to hit some of the most popular rides in the morning, before those rides were super busy, and then in the evening we were able to simply walk the world at Epcot, or enjoy an evening at Downtown Disney.

Even if your plans for a Disney World vacation are a year or so away, now is a great time to get started! Reservations at Disney's most popular restaurants, including the character dining experiences, book up fast. Dining reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance, or nearly six months from the time you plan to arrive at Disney World. So, plan early and book your reservations well in advance. Some of our most favorite dining experiences were The Royal Table, Safari Breakfast at The Tusker House and Chef Mickey's. If your trip to Disney happens to fall during a special birthday or anniversary, be sure to mention that when you book your reservations. My daughter received birthday cards signed by all of the characters at nearly every restaurant, and a birthday cupcake with candle at each meal. She really enjoyed that!

When booking your dining reservations, be sure to take note of where the restaurant is located. Many dining experiences are within a park. Each park updates its operating hours on the Disney website seven months in advance. This will allow you to line up your dining reservations with the day you plan to be at a particular park. While this might seem like a little too much planning, there are certain shows (like Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios, or the Spectromagic Parade at Magic Kingdom) that only run on certain nights. By knowing what night that show is running, you can book your dining reservation for those parks on the days you know you'll want to be at those parks for the shows.

With toddlers, you are definitely going to need a stroller! Even if you have five and six-year-olds that refuse a stroller at home, they will be begging to ride in the stroller at Disney World. It is a lot of walking. A lot. Bringing a stroller from home can be cumbersome, especially if you're flying. And park rentals, in my opinion, are not nice. They are bulky, plastic and look like the strollers everyone else has, so they are often hard to find in the "Stroller Parking" areas. We found a great service: Orlando Stroller Rentals. This company delivers a stroller (single or double) to your Disney resort, and then picks it up after your departure. It is the best service ever! The stroller was in great condition and was very clean. This stroller rental was less than what you would pay inside the parks, and the great thing is that it is with you 24/7! The park rentals must be returned each night, which means you have to carry your heavy children to the bus or the monorail. And believe me, at the end of a long day at the Magic Kingdom you can hardly carry yourself, let alone the weight of your child! We were really impressed with this service (and I'm not being paid to say that!).

Overall, the key to a wonderful Disney experience is preparation. I hope these tips help you plan the vacation of a lifetime for your family! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, March 4

Drew Update

There are so many times throughout my day where I stop and think, hey, that would make a great blog post! Then, when I actually have a spare moment at the end of my day to actually sit and write, I can't remember a single thing that happened throughout the day. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm losing my mind and should seek help from a therapist immediately.

Drew is nearly four and a half years old. Where is the time going? His most favorite things right now are sports (especially basketball and boxing, for which we can thank the Wii) and dress up. He loves his alter-egos, either Batman or Woody from Toy Story. Depending on the day he is a crime fighting super hero or your best friend.

Drew's vocabulary continues to expand. Some of the sentences he comes up with now are quite amazing. (Insert that bad Mommy brain - I can not remember half of them!) The other day he told me, "I like Robin more than Batman because Robin can fly and Batman can not. Actually, Batman could fly if you strapped a jet pack to him and blasted him off into the air. But I think I like Robin more because he can just fly on his own, without all that work." His imagination is really starting to take off. The other day I found him in his room quietly playing with his "road rug" and he had airplanes landing at the airport and cars parked at the zoo. He knew what each one was doing, an had a story to go along with each vehicle with which he was playing. It's really amazing to see him growing and developing each day.

We had our parent/teacher conference at the end of February, and learned that Drew is doing quite well in school. He knows all of his letters, both upper and lower case, knows the sounds associated with the letters and can even spell and write some of his site words! We are so proud of him. At the beginning of this year he couldn't write his name. Now look at him!

This spring Drew will be playing tee-ball. He is so excited! He loves sports, and is finally old enough to partake in an area baseball league. We're headed to the sporting goods store this weekend to purchase him a glove, bat and batting helmet! Drew's Dad can hardly contain his excitement!

Sunday, February 13

Deaf Child Speech With Cochlear Implants - Update

Drew's Mom is presenting to a class of audiology students this week, to introduce them to the world of cochlear implants and speech therapy from a parent's perspective.  She did this last year to rave reviews, and was asked back again.

To prepare, we made a new video of Drew so these students can see his progress year over year; from a little baby responding to his name, to the talkative little boy we have today.  While Drew did a fine job, he was in rare form.

Watch this latest video to get a sense of Drew's personality and sense of humor - including his wardrobe of choice: Drew Singing, Rhyming and Laughing With Cochlear Implants"

Link to last year's video: "Cochlear Implant Speech Therapy"

Drew at 1 1/2: "Cochlear Implant Child Speaks 10 Months Post-Activation"

Saturday, February 5

Snow Tubing

Drew has really enjoyed watching the Winter X-Games on ESPN over the past couple of weeks. He is always asking what "trick" a skier or snowboarder is performing, and he's been asking to go skiing. I'm not quite sure that he is ready for that, so we decided on Snow Tubing at Mad River Mountain.

Drew and his sister loved it! They had so much fun snow tubing. They kept asking to go up the mountain again and again. To be honest, I think I may be sore for days from the experience, but they had a great time!

Here is a video from the experience:

Tuesday, February 1

Cochlear Implant College Basketball Player Greg White

Greg White's college basketball coach had no idea he was deaf.  Because Greg hears so well with his cochlear implants, his coach assumed that his player was simply ignoring him during practice one day.  It took a teammate telling the coach that Greg was deaf for the coach to know!
White's hearing was never brought up because he has never considered it a problem. He can pick up low-level sounds such as an eraser on a blackboard and soft rain on the roof of a car because of a hearing aid in his right ear and a cochlear implant in his left.
He speaks clearly, although people have asked if he is from a foreign country. There is a hint of what can best be described as baby talk in his speech.
White has a 3.2 GPA through two years of college at Ohio Wesleyan, is a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, all while starting on the basketball team.
These accomplishments wouldn't be possible, White said, had his parents, Richard and Cathe, not decided to raise him in the hearing world after his deafness was diagnosed at age 8 months. He was outfitted with a hearing aid at 9 months and enrolled in a private school when the family lived in Whittier, Calif.
"Everybody in our family is hearing and everybody we knew could hear, so we said Greg would remain in the hearing world," Mrs. White said. "If you don't begin oral training in a child's first years, he or she always will be behind. When he was an infant, I would be so verbal with everything. Greg has worked so hard to get this far. It's a credit to him."
Interestingly, as we have discussed on this blog, the White family was approached and told what to do with Greg.  They were told that their son should be raised in the deaf community.
"A specialist gave us his card and said, 'Get back to me because your son is so deaf that he will never be able to talk,'" Mrs. White said. "I'd like to talk to that man now. There was such a big push at the time to enroll him in the deaf culture."
Whether you've experienced pressure to be involved in deaf culture, or whether you are a member of that community and have faced pressure to be involved in the hearing world, Greg White has the interesting experience of belonging to both, as he recently began playing in the World Deaf Basketball Championships.
"I had to learn sign language," White said. "Playing basketball with the deaf has been a great experience. But I'm glad I'm part of the hearing culture. I have my parents to thank for that."
Congratulations to Greg White, and when you get frustrated with helping your children hear, read, and grow, just look at what hard work can do! P.S. Remember NBA cochlear implant basketball player Lance Allred?

Sunday, January 23

Handwritting 101

If you happened to catch the CBS Sunday Morning Show, you may have caught a glimpse of our daughters classmates. A feature on Handwriting in the 21st Century was filmed at her school over the past week. The story is actually quite interesting; in the age of text messaging and email, should penmanship be taught in school?

I found the part of the piece most interesting where they spoke of story development by children when writing by hand versus using a computer. Studies show that children are far more expressive when using a computer, maybe because it is easier to type than write by hand.

If you didn't see the story, head on over to the CBS Website to check it out. It was very interesting.

Saturday, January 8


Drew's first week back to school after the holiday has been exhausting for the little guy! Come Friday morning, he asked to stay in bed and then he wasn't able to do anything without crying. Get his coat on? Nope. Brush his teeth? Nope, that brought on tears too. It really showed us just how exhausting it is for the little guy to be at school for a full day, every day of the week.

Drew really loves his teacher. On Wednesday, as we were driving home, he told me how pretty his teacher looked. I thought it was so sweet, and who doesn't want to hear that they look pretty?! So, I told him that his teacher might enjoy hearing him say that, so off he went to school on Thursday to tell his teacher how pretty she looked.

We're back into the swing of things around here following the wonderful time we all had together during the holidays. In some ways, I'd love to have another full week of having us all off work and school, but it others, it is nice to return to our routine. Bring on week 2 of 2011!

Wednesday, January 5

Yogi Bear

I took the kids to see the new Yogi Bear movie over the holidays. While I can't say I enjoyed the movie, the kids certainly did. They were very entertained by Yogi and Boo-Boo, and it was a nice way for me to keep they from fighting with each other, at least for a couple of hours.

It continues to amaze me how well Drew can hear with his cochlear implants. When Drew has difficulty hearing, you can always tell by his behavior. For instance, our experience with Mother's Day dinner. Drew will generally talk a lot, and out of turn, or not pay attention to what is going on, or get really jumpy/rambunctious, when he can't hear well, which honestly is not all that often. Case in point, the movie. He paid attention the whole time. A few times, I heard him laughing, which meant that he clearly found Yogi or Boo-Boo's words or actions funny. He would whisper things to me like, "He's a bad guy," or "Mom, they said a bad word."

Drew was engaged in the entire movie. No captions, no special listening device. Just a little boy and his two CI's.

Monday, January 3


Santa was very good to Drew and his sister this year. Not so good for Mommy and Daddy, but defiantly good for the kids. When the lovely Toys R Us catalog came out in November, the spotted drums and began asking for them immediately. I told them that they must be crazy if they thought I would buy them drums, but they got the best of me by asking Santa for the drums. So, at 6 AM on Christmas morning, you could hear, probably throughout the neighborhood, the sound of this little guy, and his sister, banging away on their new drums.

The drums are actually awesome. Not-so-much the morning wake up calls with the drums, but watching the two of them create music is really fun. They bang the drum sticks together and scream "a one, a two, a one, two, three, four" and then bang, ahem, I mean, drum away.

Drew loves it. He can hear it. And we're all enjoying what Santa dropped off at our home.

Saturday, January 1

New Year's Resolution

I will blog more.

That seems easy. Very simple to do, right? But it will take an effort. I haven't blogged in a while, not because I don't have anything to say or share, but becuase I've felt like every post I write is the same. I sing the praises of cochlear implants. I brag about cute little guy and all of his acheivments. So blogging has seemed rather...redundant. Blah. The same old, day in and day out.

But I will blog more. The happenings of the litle guy and his sister. And you may just have to read through some bragging. And you may have to read about how miraculous cochlear implants are. But, that's Drew' life. And that's the reason for the blog.