Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Our busy bee!

Halle has been so busy lately!  I am so proud of how hard she works at school and balances all of her outside activities.  She always has funny things to say.  She made up a new joke...."What did the pickle say to the hamburger?"  "You're HAM-larious!".  :-)  Makes me giggle!!  She has been making up new dances to songs, working on her back handsprings, doing a lot of crafts, planning her birthday party, and bonding with her sister.  She had a decaf mocha the other day (like mother like daughter) and she said "I think this mocha is making me overreact!" because she was in a chatty mood. Then she said, "mom, I think your mocha is making you under-react."  :-)  So funny!  She is so dramatic and I wouldn't have it any other way. The other day she got dressed for school and looked in the mirror and said, "I'm smokin' hot!".  She keeps us all sane and everything in perspective.  I love her.

                                                                      SNOW DAY!!! 

Playing a clown fish in the school musical!!! The forced smile is the humiliation of mom taking a picture of her in her class room in front of her friends. :-)

National Qualifying Cheer Competition in Des Moines!  Placed 3rd and received a bid to Nationals!

Greg and Landri have maybe seen enough cheer this year. :-)

Peace to all for a safe and happy holiday!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree!

We went to a Christmas Tree Farm this year to get our tree.  We had a great time searching for the perfect tree.  Here's how it went!!

Halle's first choice

Halle's second choice

The tree that we fell in love with, but it had a funky trunk that they said wouldn't fit in our stand. So we had to say good bye to it.

Putting the winner on top of the truck!

The finished product decorated by Halle and her neighborhood friends!  We are ready for Santa!!

Keeping Landri's CI on - Goal Number 1!

Keeping Landri's CI on her head has been quite the journey!  The first 5 or 6 days were......brutal. :-)  Every 15 seconds Landri took her CI off.  The first night we got home the only way she would keep it on was if we kept her hands busy. 

We first tried pickles then we tried to get her out of the high chair and play with her but she pulled the CI off in 20 seconds.

Sooooooo.....she got more pickles! Then we tried to play and she took her CI off in 20 seconds!

Soooo....she went back in her high chair before bed and got a cookie......and then mom and dad decided it was time for bed.

The next couple of days Landri got to eat mashed potatoes in Aunt Paula's lap to keep her hands off her CI.....

She got to chew on things too small for her that she could choke on to keep her hands off her CI...

We tried little hats that her friend Lily sent her (thanks guys! - your support is amazing and we can't thank you enough!!).  Landri was less than thrilled to have an extra thing on her head - although they work fab when we are outside with her!!

And then finally we tried the Lite Wear option that Cochlear provided us with.  Part of the processor that used to be behind her ear is now clipped to the bottom of her shirt and connected with a cord to the piece with the microphones that are still behind her ear.....and we love it!!!  I think that when we had the whole processor behind her ear it was just too heavy.  We finally found a groove!! What a relief!!

And the whole time I am sure that she is thinking....."what are they fussing so much about? what's the big deal?"  :-)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Landri's first "word"

We have exciting news!  First word may be stretching it.....just a tad.... :-) BUT Landri made what I would call her first step toward speaking!  One of our tasks given to us from Landri's Teacher of the Deaf (TOD) was to give Landri a little airplane and keep one for ourselves and wave it in the air making the "ahhhhhhh" sound at different pitches.  We do it all the time, all different ways, with all different games and she would just smile at us so sweet or sit there and hum.  Then she started to "dance" by swaying her head back and forth everytime we did it so we knew she was hearing it because she was bopping to the beat.  Then Greg and I are sitting on the floor talking one night and out of the blue Landri picks up her little airplane and waves it in the air and goes "aaaaaaaa".  It wasn't "ahhhhh" like in awesome like we have been practicing, but "aaaaa" like in cat - but we will take it!  We practically fell over and Greg was scrambling for the camera.  She has done it like 5 or 6 times since - never on cue of course when we prompt her to do it.  Typical girl - everything on her own terms. ;-)  So whenever she wants to get our attention she pulls out all the stops and waves her airplane saying her first "word" and she knows everyone will stop what they are doing, praise praise praise her and then she is back to being the center of attention.  The perfect life. :-) 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Iowa Elite - Taking Cheer Higher! Winterfest Competition in Ankeny!

WOOOO HOOOO! I am so proud of Halle and her Cheer Team for winning FIRST PLACE at the Winterfest Cheer Competition this year!  They did so awesome and there were 5 teams in her division.  They have been working so hard.  Iowa Elite Cheer sweeped the competition and also won the Judge's Choice.  Friday we leave for Des Moines for the National Qualifying Competition.  We love it! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

One year bigger!

Landri turned 1 on Thanksgiving Day this year!  How appropriate as we have so many blessings to me thankful for this year.  Wow - what a difference a year makes!  Getting to know Landri over the last year has been so rewarding!  Here is what I know about Landri so far.....

  • Her favorite foods are cheese and cheetos
  • She is going to love junk food
  • Her favorite games are ball and playing with the dogs
  • Her favorite song is the itsy bitsy spider
  • Her favorite snuggle is having her legs rubbed
  • Her best friend is Halle
  • She loves to look at herself in the mirror
  • Her favorite sound is her own voice
  • She loves to dance
  • She can get anything she wants by tilting her head and smiling
  • She likes to be in the middle of everything
  • She is okay sitting back and being entertained too
  • Her favorite game with her sister is hide and seek
  • She has a precious laugh that makes me stop whatever I am doing
  • I love it when she rubs her head on my cheek
  • I love it when she wakes up with bed head
  • I love the two dimples in her shoulders
  • Watching her and her sister together can make any day perfect
  • Sweet
  • Brave and tough

Landri's cool new accessory!

Here are pictures of Landri wearing her new CI processor!!  The round part that we decorated with a flower (thanks Summer for the awesome fashion sense!!) is called the coil.  It is the piece that contains the magnet that connects to the magnet implanted in Landri that sends the sound to Landri's implant.  It is then connected to a cable that connects to the processor behind the ear (BTE).  The processor has two microphones on the top that pick up sound.  Since keeping the BTE processor on Landri's ear nearly drove me to have a mental breakdown we have since moved onto a setup they call Lite Wear.  The bottom half of her BTE comes off and we clip that part to her shirt and then she only has to wear the top half behind her ear.  Landri has been sick :-( so I haven't had a chance to take new pictures of this wearing option, but I will soon and then post them here. It is nice to have two options.  I like the Lite Wear option because then when it comes off (or she pulls it off) it is still tethered to her shirt and the fear of stepping on it, losing it at Target, the dogs eating it for dessert etc is lessened.  One less thing to worry about which is what we need right now!  Landri was supposed to have another mapping today at the U of I, but we had to reschedule because of her fever.  Mapping is when they test her current map and programs to see what responses they get. They then tweak them a bit and since we are still in the beginning stages they progressively turn up the sound in these appointments.  We go next Monday now!  We are supposed to get 10" of snow here today! I love it!  Hugs to all!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Activation Day!

November 23rd was a very important day for our family.  Landri heard sound for the very first time!  We went to the University of Iowa and the audiologists first tested all the electrodes in Landri's implant - 22 in total!  They got great neural responses from her with each one!  This was comforting.  They then turned on her processor so that she could hear the sounds around her for the first time.  It was sort of anticlimatic.  We were all talking to her and waiting for that big moment - but Landri just took the new sound in stride and just kept playing.  I have to admit there were a few moments of panic when I needed confirmation from the audis that she REALLY....REALLY....can hear things...right?  They said that her response was completely normal and that they were very comfortable with the responses they received during testing.  There are so many leaps of faith in this process.  They turn her processors on very very slowly to not scare or overstimulate Landri.  It could be very overwhelming for her to hear all sounds at once.  We will introduce her to new sounds thru her processors little by little.  I think it takes a few months to fully activate her implant.  Landri's processors (the external portion that looks like a hearing aid) have different programs or maps on them that have been created just for her. They are sort of like her hearing fingerprints.  Everyone's map is unique.  The audis sent us home with 8 programs and 4 volume and sensitivity settings on each program to work thru over the next 2 weeks.  We have been told that it may take almost a month before we see Landri actually turning her head to sound.  When it comes to sound Landri is like a newborn.  Her brain is working so hard to make sense of it all.

What now?  Our job now is to help Landri learn to listen and not ignore the sounds she hears and also help her associate the sound with meaning.  We talk about everything we do and point out sound to her.  When the dogs bark we say "listen Landri are those the dogs barking?".  When we run water out of the faucet we listen to that, we listen for the vacuum, we listen for microwave beeps, we listen to her spoon tapping in her high chair.  So far I think her favorite thing to listen to is her own voice - typical girl!  We notice her humming and blowing bubbles more with her implant on.  AND of course without a doubt she is even more fascinated with her sister and wants her every second! 

Really the only struggle is keeping the processors on her head.  Seriously - I am thinking about starting a "Keep the BTE on a one year olds head Support Group" and serving stiff margaritas at each meeting.  All my other CI mommies  - who's with me?  It really does take a ton of patience - like a ton - ton, ton, ton.  Landri does not associate her CI with sound yet so all she wants to do is take that thing off her head.....every second....and then chew on it....or whip it across the room.  BUT.....everyday it has got to get better! 

This post would just not be complete without a picture of Landri and her cool new CI!  We are having computer issues - thanks to Gma for letting me borrow hers to do this post - and all my pictures are trapped on the other computer.  I promise a picture soon!  Check back! 

I also have 1001 other things to update on like Thanksgiving and Landri turning1!!  I'll get there!  Need time!  Thanks to everyone for all of your support during this exciting - but stressful - time for our family.  Aren't family and friends the best?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hey there sister girl!

I haven't posted much about the heart disorder that was found in Landri's last surgery.   I will post more information on that in future posts. Since this is a genetic disorder Halle had to go for an EKG today as well.  This process has really made me appreciate even more the bond that they will always share as sisters - so blessed!  Here are just a few of my favorite "sisterhood" pics........enjoy!


I got your back!

Two peas in a pod!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Countdown to Sound!

Since Landri's surgery last month many people have asked us...."so can she hear?".  Not yet!  The University of Iowa Hospital waits one month from surgery to turn on the implant to allow for healing of the incision sight and the swelling to go down.  We have been counting down the days!  Landri's implant will be activated on November 23rd - 3 days before her first birthday!  We are very excited!  At this appointment they will give us the external pieces that Landri will wear to make her implant work.  They turn the implant on slowly over a series of appointments called mappings.  Landri's brain has never heard sound so the audiologists will slowly increase the sounds she hears over a series of appointments.  We have been told that at the first appointment she will likely not respond to much until her brain starts to make sense of the new sound. It is similar to how a newborn tunes most everything out because nothing makes sense at first.  We are so excited for this journey to begin!

Please click on this link for a super short and simple video explaining how the implant works.

Landri's implant will look like this.  It is the new Cochlear Nucleus 5 sound processor.  She will be the first child at the University of Iowa with this new technology.  We ordered one white and one chocolate brown with fashionable pink covers of course!  Cochlear Implants are not a cure for deafness.  When Landri has this on she will have access to sound.  When it is off - when she is swimming, bathing, sleeping  - she will still be completely deaf and hear nothing. 

Through this journey we have had the honor of meeting some wonderful and brilliant families.  We have been able to share with them their "activation victories" and watch videos of the children saying their first words.  I want to share some of these videos on my blog to give us all inspiration.   Since I am still a newbie blogger I first need to figure out how to upload the video files.  Give me a few days!  Seriously.....there are days when the whole thing seems surreal that we have a deaf child.  Then in the same thought it seems completely insane that with the wonders of technology our completely deaf child will have access to sound.  I can hardly wrap my mind around it at times.  We sort of start to lose touch of what it is like to have a hearing one year old around.  We are so used to getting right in front of Landri to get her attention, using our hands and gesturing, and working so hard to get her attention so that she is part of everything that is going on.  I am excited for her to share in the laughter of our family, hear her sister sing the songs that she has made up just for her (Halle made her a song about a cat and porkchop - need I say more - it's a must hear!), and even to get woke up by the barking dogs.  It all makes my heart smile.  Sooo....start the countdown and we will keep you posted!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Halle had her 2nd Cheer Competition today!!  We had a great time today watching Halle and all the Iowa Elite Cheer teams perform!  This is Halle's first year of cheer and our whole family is loving it!  We are lucky to have such a great squad with awesome kids and fun families!  When they performed today I don't think I have ever seen them do their routine better!  They aced it!  Good job Halle!  We are so proud of you! Enjoy the pics!