Friday, July 27, 2012

My Apologies, In Advance

The kick-off to the London Games of the Olympics is finally here. I'm so excited. I'm a total Olympics junkie. Counting down the days till today. Tearing up all summer long at every ad and every interview. Stalking the sites for the feel good stories. All of it.

Well, admittedly, not all of it. I was planning to have a big international bash here at the house tonight with all kinds of like-minded friends joining the fun. But with everything that's gone on here this summer and the crazy schedule we've kept, I felt the need to go a little more low key. So we're celebrating the Opening Ceremonies with friends. The same friends, in fact, who allowed us to turn our Opening Ceremonies dinner into a dual celebration of Li'l Empress's 1st birthday on the opening night of the Beijing Olympic Games. This could be the start of a fun tradition with our friends. Team USA, Team China, and Team Russia will all be well represented tonight, between the two families!

Given all the fervor and single-minded focus I plan to indulge in over the coming weeks, I'm apologizing in advance for what is sure to be spotty blog updating over the duration of the games.

As one friend so eloquently put it, (hat tip to Heidi!), there's about to be an outbreak of couch potatoes, nation-wide and CERTAINLY here at The Gang's Headquarters. So, I'll see ya when I see ya.

Go Team USA!!!!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Can You Pray?

Many of you may have heard of the terrible flooding and subsequent damage in the Fangshan district of Beijing city over the last weekend. If you haven't, check out this link for details:

The Gang and I are asking that you please, please join us in prayer for the many who have been affected. This region is particularly close to our hearts. The sister organization of our adoption agency, called Living Hope International runs one of their two homes there in Fangshan. You've read here numerous times of our love and passion for the work of LHI. (Like, HERE or HERE and more recently, HERE, for example!) We are proud sponsors of the young lady below, named Lois.

They are truly changing lives and doing the work of God in the communities of Fangshan and Fuzhou. And with the wide-spread devastation that these storms and flooding have left behind, they really need our prayers and our support like never before.

I've been in touch with the contacts for LHI here in the States and right now, the best thing we can do is pray for safety, for minimal losses, and for health for those working in the rescue and clean up process. You can bet that when I know what else they need, I'll be sharing the information with you all here.

On the Living Hope International home page, you'll notice a section about the China Angels. This is a dance troupe of students from the Fangshan and Fuzhou homes that is currently touring here in the States, all over New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. Their purpose in coming is to raise awareness of the ministry of Living Hope International, as well as raise support and funding for the children who live in these two homes.

If you click HERE, you'll be able to see if there is a performance scheduled near your home. We took the kids last weekend and it was such a wonderful experience for all of us. There are always beautiful souvenirs for sale and opportunities to interact with the staff who travel with the kids. The Boss picked up a snazzy tie, since his new job requires a suit and tie every day now.

Please, keep Living Hope International and all of its leadership team and workers and students in your prayers. Keep our sweet Lois in your prayers. Our hearts are heavy for those sweet people who care so deeply for the children in their community.

Thank you.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Wait

We knew when we started this journey to our Brynna girl (seriously, still taking suggestions for a bloggy name for this girl!) that it was going to be a long haul. I'm not sure when we sent off that application that we thought it would be quite this long,(Remember this post?! Yes, that date does read 2010. Sad, but true.)

We were okay with the idea of the long wait After all, we'd done it before. We knew we could do it again.

Even in the midst of the delays we couldn't avoid (Remember the bathroom project? The one from the upstairs toilet overflowing into the relatively newly-done kitchen project?) and the obstacles we have chosen to plow through in the process (re-vamping our finances to further reflect Godly principles of stewardship thanks to Financial Peace University at our church?), I rarely felt myself growing impatient or antsy.

I settled into The Wait kind of like one does a comfy old chair on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I had kind of taken on a "it'll happen when it is supposed to" kind of perspective. Which, given the frustrations we've faced, has served me well. In fact, I've been able to And believe me, we've already faced our share of difficulties the most frustrating of which occurred only more recently, minor though they may be in retrospect.

Lost a social worker 3 interviews into a 4 interview process
(Resolved very well with a GEM of a new Social Worker
and a partial refund that blessed us beyond words)

The Boss's job loss and subsequent financial changes and stressors,
certainly too numerous and now tedious to enumerate
(Also resolved well but definitely a difficulty
that I don't wish on any paper-chasing family)

Authentication and Sealing snafus both at 
the state level and at two consulate offices
(Resolved, certainly not huge hang-ups but only after a 
three - four week delay we hadn't really counted on)

Four files reviewed and returned
(The first one was a vague inquiry, the next two were sweeties
but older than we can handle. The fourth one was a really
hard choice but definitely the right one for the family.)

And now the wait. Oh. The Wait.

Yes, we are full-fledged into The Wait. And I'm finding something very curious happening in my heart since we got our LID notification. That "it'll happen when it's supposed to" thing has flown right out the window. It's gone. And it took with it any sense of perspective I might have had given that this is our second adoption and I "know" the dealio.

In the last 6 months of this journey, I've talked a couple waiting friends of the ledge of insanity and desperation. :)  LOL.... you know who you are!  I've studiously avoided any "day counting" between milestones for the sake of my sanity. I've only occasionally checked the forums and "rumor" sites, and mostly only to connect with other BTDT mommas over specific needs I've been researching. I've been okay with it all.

Until this week.

I am not sure if it's that I've finally had a relatively quiet week as far as my daily pace is concerned. Or if I've been feeling more pressed in my prayer time to dig in for the wisdom and discernment we need to "know" our Brynna when we see her. Or if it's even a sense of impending-ness that I'm not totally aware of yet. Or what it is. But I am no longer "okay with it all." At all.

(I'm not on the ledge of insanity or desperation or anything. I promise!)

I'm starting to feel an urgency in my heart and mind in the last couple days. I am stalking sites and forums, searching for tidbits of information and details of timelines for other waiting families. I'm paging through pictures of babies, some who are waiting for their mommas and some who are not, and crying at the drop of a hat. I'm fighting a sense of being consumed with the need to find my daughter. To see her face. To start the process of "knowing her" even if it is only via a medical file and occasional updates while we wait.

I'm THERE again. I remember it well. Opening the file that held Li'l Empress's little life story to date. Looking into those eyes, knowing that I get to spend the rest of my life taking JOY in looking into those eyes.

And I'm not okay with The Wait after all.

Your prayers for us as we prepare our hearts and our minds
for the next release of the Shared List would be appreciated.
Estimates put the release at either the 23rd-ish or the 30th-ish.
We'd love this list to be The One on which our Brynna girl waits.
But we want to be ready if it's not.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday {refresh}

Waiting with bated breath.
That little button is gonna see a lot of action today.

head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

To find out if I was chosen as one of the three
make-over contest, come back here.

*Update: I didn't win. I'm sad. But I'll get over it.
Sigh. I really did think my story was more compelling
and very focused on the "Give Back" part of the contest.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Yup, We're Still Doin' "That Sale Thing"

The other day, someone rather randomly asked me if we were still doing "that sale thing."  I was confused, at first, because I wasn't sure that this person had ever heard me talk about my online yard saling (my new "part time job" on F@cebook). But then, they said, "Ya know, those tee shirts with the Bible verses on them?"

Oh. That sale thing.  Heh. Heh.

Yeah. We are still doing that sale thing. We're so grateful for those of you who have purchased tees already (from as far away as AUSTRALIA! Can I get a WOOT WOOT?!). I'd love it if you could snap a picture of yourself, sportin' your fancy schmanzy Wild Olive Tee and send it to me. It's such fun to see the beautiful variety you all choose.

And for the record, we are actually still doing that book sale thing, too.

And I'm still doing the F@cebook Yard Sale thing, too. I had originally planned to phase it out by July and think and pray about re-starting it in the fall when the kiddoes go back to school. But I have some seriously cute inventory of kids' summer clothing and even some cute ladies' clothing (sizes Small 4/6 all the way up through Medium 10/12) that were recently donated so I've been keeping it up and running.

I never really saw myself as a fund-raising type, even for something as important to my family as adoption, but I've actually really enjoyed these particular ventures. And recently, I believe the Lord gave me a pretty cool idea for a potentially exciting and profitable opportunity that can benefit our adoption as well as many, many others within the adoption community. I'm praying over it and trusting Him to make it all happen as He sees fit. In the meantime, pray for me as I tiptoe into the early prep work of it, if you think of it, please?

If you happen to be interested in any of the items mentioned above, please check out my sidebar to the left of this post or feel free to contact me by commenting here or by emailing me. I'm thrilled to share the details with you. If you desire to support our efforts further, please feel free to share our information or posts and give folks the low-down on the family code for the tees or our family name for the book. That'd be awesome, too.

Monday, July 16, 2012

My Drummer Boy

On Saturday, Shaggy left for Argentina. With 11 other members of our church, he is spending this week helping a pastor in Las Flores (south of Buenos Aires) plant a new church to serve the local community. He will be helping to lead worship as a drummer on whatever drum set or makeshift drum set they can put together. He also gets to preach, act in some dramas for street ministry, and do whatever else the Lord has for the team to do to support the new church.

So we started the day with a family brunch. The Boss went all out with a new recipe for French Toast and eggs. Mmmmmmm....

This is what it looked like while Shaggy was trying to decide if he needed a bigger suitcase or less clothing. After all, it is winter in Argentina right now. He settled on the smaller suitcase. I sure hope he stays warm on those cold nights of tent ministry!

Of course, before he left, he had to spend time with his drum kit. He calls them his babies. I love hearing him going after the presence of the Lord as he drums in the basement. And I love that he's getting to use his gift and his passion to bless another church family, in another nation!

I am so grateful and proud to be part of a church where OUTREACH is our culture. Especially among our young people. Last week, one of Shaggy's best friends left with another gal from our church and the local Christian radio station to minister in Ecuador. Two weeks before that, a brother and sister from our church family spent a week serving in a ministry in Texas. And just yesterday in church, we commissioned off in prayer yet ANOTHER young lady to minister for a week in Alaska.

Here is Shaggy with another really good friend and drummer chick, and his beautiful cousin, Sarah, who are also going on the trip. This team has a total of 5 young people on it. I think that's a pretty darn cool ratio - 5 young people with 7 adults.

I'm not too proud to admit that the fact that his Uncle Paul is going along for the ministry experience made it much easier for this momma to nudge my boy to go and take it all in. Knowing that Shaggy has family to rely upon while he's traipsing around the country of Argentina helps me sleep a wee bit better!

Of course, we couldn't let him get away without a hug and a pose or two for the Momma, now could we? Sigh. I just love being the momma to this gang.

We are very excited for our son and very proud of his diligence to follow the Lord's promptings to consider this mission trip. Please pray for our whole team as they seek to influence the community they are serving. Pray for safety and good health. Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will change hearts and lives, including their own. And pray for this new church to take root and thrive, that the Kingdom of God be glorified and expanded in that town!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Playdoh Art

This is how the younger members of The Gang occupy themselves on summer nights.

Look at all the GREEN sports paraphernalia.
My little Eagles fans :)

Li'l Empress was baking strawberry muffins to share with Momma.

LadyBug got all artsy and did her rendition of "The Scream."

Ummm, and apparently, this is how The Boss
occupies himself on a lazy summer night!

Happy Friday, Folks!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Oh, Yeah. One More Thing To Celebrate...

Heh. That's the danger of writing your posts in advance. I set up a visually pleasing and fun post several hours in advance of my bedtime, scheduled it to go live first thing Wednesday morning and then something else noteworthy happened. But in my excitement of our evening of festivities, I forgot all about coming back and editing my Wednesday wrap up o' celebrations.

So. LEST I forget to document this exciting and very forward-movement moment in the journey to our Brynna (seriously, I need to take suggestions for a name for this little chickie!), I give you.....

Yes. The Gang has a Log In Date.
Get it?
Hello? Anyone?!

Anyhoo. Yes, our dossier was sent to China on June 27, 2012.
And our dossier was logged in to the waiting queue
at the CCWA
on July 9, 2012.

Pretty quick, huh?! Yay, God!

So that means that we are now eligible to review any file that our Social Worker Extraordinaire thinks might be a good match for our family, from any list published by the CCWA. (Remember, previously, DTC allowed us to only view files that were specific to our agency or part of the Special Focus listing.)

Please pray with us and for us as we review files and seek the Lord's plan for our family with regard to just exactly WHO our sweet Brynna will be.

Pretty cool, huh?! Yay, God!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On a Happier Note!

This week, there's been lots to celebrate here at The Gang's house.
As opposed to the "just get me through the day" of last week.
So celebrate we did.

Daddy's first day of the new job warranted a big rib dinner.

Li'l Empress has settled nicely after several intentionally quiet
and slow-paced days and a focus on routine.

Shaggy's car is back on the road after many longs weeks of DIY repairs and some SERIOUSLY AMAZING time, generosity, and dirty, greasy, sweaty hours of help
from multiple folks who know their way around axels, struts, brake lines, and so on.

Momma started a new "household management" weapon tool.
Hat tip to a fellow adoptive mommy blogger!

 And Baby BlueEyes got the honor of being first to pick a job to redeem his "stuff.

SERIOUSLY... THAT's the first thing he picked. That smirk says it all, doesn't it?!
It's a darned good thing he's so cute.

So we had cake, ice cream, and night time swimming to commemorate it all.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


If you didn't read yesterday's post, please head there first. It'll all make so much more sense when you read this one :)

After Li'l Empress's traumatic Tuesday and Wednesday, we tried really hard to resume as normal a Thursday as we could. We had kids to taxi around, bulletins to write, jobs to catch up on, laundry to fold, and friends coming in and out all afternoon to swim. The weather was still brutally hot and Li'l Empress was still super clingy and whiny and anxious. Her restlessness was evident in her hair-twirling and myopic focus on various things throughout the day. Heh, by lunch time if I'd heard one more request for a freezer pop, my head would have exploded. We managed most of the day by tools of re-direction, distraction, and short-term goals and little rewards along the way. We gave her short periods of time on and off the hearing aide throughout the day but didn't push it when she was ready for a break. We just re-introduced it later, as per the parameters of the trial.

Earlier in the week, friends had extended an offer of a free trip to Hershey Park for The Gang on Friday. We spent most of our down time on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday debating the merits of going or not. I knew in my gut that it would not be the best choice for Li'l Empress, given the continued heat and her still-lingering anxieties. So I decided to take advantage of the opportunity presented and made the choice for Li'l Empress and I to unplug for the day while the rest of the Gang enjoyed the sweet (pun intended) treat.

The Gang headed out bright and early Friday morning, water bottles and iPods in hand for the trip out to our friends' house and all things Hershey Park Happy. And as soon as they pulled out of the drive, the unplugging began. I let Li'l Empress sit quietly with her dry cereal and juice to watch a couple of her morning kid shows. I sat in the other room and folded towels and watched the news.

When her shows were over, the tv went off and she got dressed, made her bed, brushed her teeth, did her hair and started her day. Unplugged.

No hearing aid.
No tv.
No music.
No Wii.
No swimming.

We occupied ourselves all day long, sometimes together, sometimes separately. We played the Memory Game. (I got beat soundly!) We read books. We had a couple snacks. We ate lunch together.

She colored. She did puzzle after puzzle. She played with her wubby. She read books. She had quiet time in her room with just her stuffed "buddies" and her blankie. No sleep, but she rested quietly. 

I cleaned the hall closet and the game cupboard. I re-organized the crafts and consolidated them into one tidy cupboard. I made blueberry cobbler. I folded lots of laundry. I read a suspense novel.

We ate dinner quietly. We read more books. She colored and made love notes for the whole family. She took out the window markers (a rare treat usually reserved for really rainy days).

And slowly but surely over the course of the day, I could see her relaxing. She was no longer hobbling between rooms. She was laughing. She was forgetting about the band-aids. She was finding peace again.

It wasn't perfect, by any means. She freaked out a little when she first woke up and found out that she couldn't watch tv till all the kids and Daddy were gone. But I reminded her that she wouldn't watch anything if she couldn't improve her attitude and she chose wisely. She did melt down at lunch when one of the band-aids fell off. But I quietly and matter-of-factly just replaced it with a smaller, clean band-aid and moved on. So did she, after a couple prompts.

By the time she headed off to bed, I could see a huge improvement in her eyes and her posture. So much less fear, and certainly less anxiety. She was able to giggle during bedtime snuggles and prayers and was happy to crawl in for the night. Such a marked difference from the previous night even.

I'm so glad I listened to my gut instinct. I'm not a huge fan of amusement parks, so the decision wasn't going to cost me anything personally, beyond missing out on some time with our friends and watching the big kids enjoy themselves. But I knew by then (heh, again, slow on the uptake!) it could and would cost Li'l Empress dearly. A LOT more than I was willing for her to pay at the end of that difficult week. I am blessed to be married to a man who trusts my gut when it comes to our kids and this time was no exception.

And you know what? It was worth it. Though it definitely took some doing, some cajoling, and some bargaining and a couple missteps along the way, Li'l Empress was able to get in the pool and play with her sibs and her cousins for a little while on Saturday. She steered clear of the diving board, but she did it. And did it on her own terms. Considering how much she loves our pool and how much she NEEDS the activity and movement that it provides, I'm really glad she conquered that on Saturday.

Now, if we can just get past those darned band-aids. Loves them. Hates them. Can't stop thinking about them or talking about them. Sigh.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Wow. I'm Really Glad THAT is Over.

It's been QUITE the wild ride here since I last reported in on Li'l Empress’ trial with the bone-conduction hearing aide. Here's some of the highlights (ahem, low-lights?) of the experiences we faced - the good, the bad and the ugly.
  • Huge, erratic, illogical, and consuming emotional melt-downs multiple times a day – reminiscent of this post
  • Hyper-focus almost to the point of obsession on minute issues that normally are easy-peasy for our girl 
  • Grossly out of proportion, anguish-type crying and sadness over issues that she normally handles with just a bit of guidance or re-directing (and that's even taking into account that she is pretty sensitive by nature)
  • And thankfully, on a positive note, long, healing and refreshing naps and overnight sleeping, without which I am certain we would have ALL melted down right with her
Here's the "thing." Or, rather, the several things:
  • We were in the middle of a 9 or ten day heat wave.
  • We are in the middle of a brand-new hearing aide trial.
  • We haven't had a "regular" daily schedule since the kids' last day of school. Remember, The Boss has been out of work since March, so all 7 of us have been home with a very irregular "Saturday" kind of feel to the household particularly since June 13th.
  • And last week, after I wrote Day 5's summary, company came for two days.
Taken separately, none of those things were enough to warrant Li'l Empress’s extreme reactions. But. Then. One more thing. The icing on the already sliding and melting multi-layered cake o’ drama.

Early Tuesday morning Li'l Empress took a tumble off of the diving board onto the concrete. Normally, that's not that big a deal. I mean, she has a long and dramatic history of being overly traumatized by any.little.teensy.tiny. boo-boo. And a serious love/hate relationship with band-aids. But this?! OH. MY. WORD. This set off an ENTIRE day of literally unbelievable drama (NO exxaggeration on my part, you can ask ANY of The Gang OR our lovely, patient, and oh!SO!tolerant houseguests. REALLY). Trauma. Shreiking. Yelling and trying to hit me. CRAZY child out of control behavior. So NOT our sweet, bubbly, funny girl.

As I've said before, I'm rather slow on the uptake and I foolishly didn't connect all the "things" together as a major overload for our girl and I am totally embarrassed to say that I lost my cool a couple times AND still tried my darndest to keep some sort of consistency with the hearing aide trial. Looking back, I'm not sure what I was thinking. Except that I was so completely dumbfounded by it all. I’m STILL not sure just exactly how it all got to those levels of insanity....

Seriously. I've never, in my almost 18 years of parenting, seen anything like it. Except for that one time that Dr. D broke his leg and cried all day long while in Grandma and Grandpa's care. He wouldn't walk, he couldn't talk, and he wouldn't be put down. At all. Which got me remembering.

And then I was seriously nervous and concerned all through Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. The whole time, she wouldn't let us near her boo-boos, couldn't let us straighten her legs to check for bruising or swelling, wouldn't walk upright, and pitifully hobbled in a crouched-over, old lady-with-osteoporosis type of shuffle/hop thing. (THAT lasted from Tuesday till Thursday afternoon. Seriously, ya'll it was pit.i. full.)

I am so incredibly grateful for my awesome visiting friend. True to her very wise and compassionate nature, she totally affirmed that what we were experiencing did NOT appear to be tantrums or manipulation or mean-spirited behavior. Rather, she observed that there was definitely some pretty serious fear and anxiety being expressed. So we started asking the kids more questions and trying to figure out exactly what happened.

Turns out, she actually somehow cracked her chin in the fall, too. And of course, by then we realized that the fall off the board was obviously terribly jarring to her whole body. Her poor joints and muscles must have been in agony, given the extent of her reactions. This was confirmed when bruising appeared on her knees, the tops of her feet, and her chin (oh, so sad, I know!) by Wednesday lunch time.

Through Wednesday and Thursday, we tried to just love on her, relax with her, and reassure her that she was safe and secure. On her terms and when she could let us. The real struggle on Wednesday and Thursday was holding the line with her with regards to speaking respectfully and kindly even when she was sad or angry. I think that was a pretty good instinct, as she seemed to take comfort in the consistency of Mommy's insistence on manners and kind speaking words. Even if it did frustrate her in the middle of a crying fest.

From the little commentary that's been leaking out ever since, we figured out what else must have happened. It sounds as if she actually fell close enough to the edge of the pool that she thought she might fall in. She had her swimmies on and jumps in regularly off the board but FALLING in with no control is very scary, for sure! I kept hearing about the very hard ground and the ouchy on her chin and saw the trembling fear at the thought of getting anywhere near the deep end of the pool. Poor girl was totally shaken.. It was enough to make me just curl up on the couch with her and cry for her. When I finally "got it" and connected with what all must have been going on in her heart and mind and body, I was sad for my girl.

So, on Thursday afternoon, I made the decision to unplug for all of Friday. And I am so glad I did. Come back tomorrow and I'll share the rest of the story with you then.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 5

Today is Day 5 of Li'l Empress's soft band
bone conduction hearing aid trial.

I know. No warning, no updates along the way to let you know what was coming. Just those little teasers that leaked out at the end of last week. Bad blogger. In my defense, our sweet audiologist kind of sprung it on me quite suddenly at Li'l Empress's 6 month hearing check. The day before Shaggy's big huge graduation party. That rolled right into a big huge June Birthday/Father's Day party. That rolled into two days of Momma Coma while I attempted to recover from the huge adrenaline high I'd been running on for a week or more.

And then it was time for the appointment to start the trial. Whew. I'm still not totally recovered from all of it, I suspect.


Li'l Empress has been wearing the soft band for short periods of time for the last four days. We are definitely noticing some things during the trial period that are noteworthy and I'd LOVE to hear from other folks who have done this with their kiddoes to help me understand and gage our experiences.

The most noticeable thing is the funny, almost robot-like way she speaks for the first few minutes it is on her head.  I know it's that she is hearing herself in a new way for the first time in her little life but it provides GREAT comic relief around here. Which is a good thing cuz the other things we are noticing are well, not as much fun.

The other most noticeable thing is how tired she is.  Now, we know that our household has been very busy since mid-May and it's likely catching up to her in many ways. But we have noticed a marked change in the last 4 days - she doesn't fight nap time at all. She is very cranky around 1 every day and falls asleep quite easily. And bedtime seems to be a welcome relief to her for these past four nights. I totally understand why and we've purposely structured our days since Thursday to make sure she is home for nap time and able to "crash" during the day with books or a kid show as needed. I'm so glad our Miss Laura (the audiologist) told us in advance to expect this.

Finally, the other thing we've noticed is that she has definitely been advocating for herself by doing things like relying on visual cues, asking to have the tv turned up or down, and learning how to ask for a break from the band when she's feeling "done." This has come after some serious melt-downs (particularly the first two days) but she's really improving in just the last 24 hours with her choice to speak up for help as opposed to breaking down in a puddle of tears. That emotional "limit" seems to be expanding. That's a very good thing now, but man, Thursday and Friday and most of Saturday were challenging for The Boss and I to manage and talk through with her.

We are loving how she is testing things out for herself. It's so fun to see her testing and questioning and trying to learn for herself. For example, she likes plugging up her hearing ear with her finger and asking us to talk to her to see if she can hear us.  She's testing volumes all the time. Which is kinda cute but also kinda loud on occasion. I'm okay with that, most of the time. We've also noticed that she loves blocking the little microphone on the conductor and making the feedback go crazy. It makes her giggle and us cringe. Which I know she loves.

I've had quite a few folks ask why we are doing this, if her hearing ear is working so well for her. Well, that is a valid question that I've asked often myself. According to her speech and language development, she is pretty "on target," with the exception of a stutter that seems to be lingering longer than is stage/age appropriate. And she is eligible for speech and language services, along with hearing services once she starts school in the fall. But only having one hearing ear can and already sometimes does affect her learning capabilities. The goal of this trial and eventually the permanent use of the aide is to enhance and boost any way we can her capabilities to catch all the learning opportunities in school and daily life. Her IEP stipulates that she have an FM system on her desk at school. The FM system will train her to and give her access to the "important noises" in the classroom - the teacher's directives and instructions that she needs to succeed in her academics. But it will not AMPLIFY the noises around her.

That's where this bone conductor hearing aid comes in. It amplifies all the noises around her by adding sound to both ears. The tiny conductor takes in the noises, turns them into vibrations that travel through the tab on the band, stimulating the mastoid process, and sending the vibrations to the cochlea. We have known for a long, long time (remember the tests she had done when she was really little?) that her right ear hearing was excellent on the inside. Everything that goes from her right cochlea to her brain handles sound and stimulation really, really well!

Amplifiying the noise will allow her to catch other noises such as classmates' input, announcements from the PA system, and other background noises that are regularly missing or at least muffled for her without the aide. This will be particularly important when traveling outside of her home-base classroom. I'm anticipating that it might be a bit of a mixed bag of support when in the gym or the cafeteria, as we've already see that she taps out a bit when all 7 of us are hanging out and we're not being mindful of the expanded experience her aide is creating. Basically, the hearing aid will open up the sound field for her in ways that the FM system cannot.

In the coming days, I'll be sharing more as we are learning. And I'd love to hear from you! Have you been through this with your kiddoes? What insight or observations can you share? Are you looking at a trial like this for your child's future? What questions might you have? I'd love to get a conversation going - this is something that I learned a lot about from other BTDT parents before we even sat down with our audiologists - I'd love to share that with others and make the conversation beneficial to all who want it!