Tuesday, January 24, 2012

they make me smile

In honor of my soon-to-be FIVE year old...I wanted to do an update all about him before his big birthday updates next week!
He has just been the best big brother lately!  He has always loved his sister, but now that she can sit up, and she smiles at him every single time he looks at her, I think he loves her even more!  They were hanging out in her crib the other day while I was putting clothes away.  So sweet!  Kerigan is just always happy when Andrew is around!

 I have some more Andrew quotes to get down in the books...

Before Christmas he kept telling Kerigan "Be good (or nice) or you won't get any Christmas presents!"  Ha! (I wonder where he heard that before??)

One night he was just enjoying playing with all of his toys.  He was so sweet, looked up at me and told me "mommy, thank you for all of my things.... (then he thought for a minute and said)... AND my baby!"  (melt.my.heart).

I love to watch him play with her.  He gives her toys and talks so sweetly to her.  The other night they were playing and I heard him tell her "Oh Kerigan!  You're so smart!" when she was playing with a toy.

Unfortunately, he caught the flu for a second time this month (thankfully before his birthday!) When I was cleaning and he was on the mend, I gave him a bath.  When he was in the tub he asked me "Are all the germs getting off?"  I told him they were and he said "So I can touch Kerigan!?"  Ha!  He was banned from going near her and I think he really missed her!

The other night before his bath he was going potty.  He was trying to coax me out of the bathroom (so he could unroll the toilet paper for the gazillionth time).  I kept peeking at him and he yelled "Go away!  I'll be fine here!" Ha!  I came back to check on him and asked if he was done and he said "No, go away!  Ten minutes!" What a little old man!

One weekend when he spent the night at Ga Ga's, they usually have Papa's pancakes in the morning.  They didn't have an ingredient so they had to eat waffles instead.  Andrew was just sitting there, staring at his waffle.  My mom asked him what he was doing and he said "Waiting for them to turn into pancakes!"

Andrew and daddy were putting together a puzzle and I kept hearing Craig tell Andrew to help.  It was kind of a challenging one and Andrew was letting daddy do most of it.  I heard Andrew say "Daddy, you're doing great!"  Ha!

He has been really into retelling stories and asking questions as we read.  He got the Gingerbread Man book from his teacher for Christmas and he loves it and can read it almost all from memory.  He'll go along and then he'll stop and say "What's gonna happen?  Raise your hand!"  Then he wants me to raise my hand and he calls on me!  It is too funny.

Along with reading... his all time favorite bedtime stories right now are:
This one he pretty much reads the entire book from memory.  It is different on every page, one page they are jumping on the bed, the next they are tumbling on the bed, then sliding on the bed, etc.  He loves the different verbs and figuring out what they are doing.
This one is his very favorite.  He wants it read to him every single night.  I'm not sure why, but I am guessing it's because he loves animals, although I often try to coax him into a different one with animals and he insists on this one.  The other night when I was reading it to him I was trying to get away with shortening it up a little (it's long!) but he wasn't having it!  One of the lines says... "George, don't you know you're not supposed to feed the animals?  The wrong food might make them sick."  I said, "It might make them sick," and he immediately looked up at me and said "The WRONG FOOD might make them sick!"  I couldn't believe that he actually knew every line and if I was saying it right or not!  Ha!  He doesn't let us get by with anything!
I loved this.  One morning Andrew was playing with one of Kerigan's toys (a picnic basket) and they were having a picnic together!
He was sharing the food with her and spreading the blanket all out.
Such a good big brother!  I hope they will always play together and be friends!
I laughed out loud when I came around the corner and saw this!
And this!  Ha!  I haven't taken a picture of him sleeping in a long time because I'm always nervous he's going to wake up.  But I felt pretty safe this time that he was cashed out for the night!!
I took this a while ago after Kerigan had just started day care and I forgot it was on my phone but I thought it was so cute.  This is pretty much what happens after day care around here!  They are zonked and just want to relax!  We live for stay home days!!
Daddy and Andrew playing Candyland with Kung Fu Panda toys!  Ha!
We are trying hard to teach him that games are supposed to be fun and it doesn't matter who wins or loses.  He does a pretty good job of this.  But when they are playing and he's ahead, he'll usually say "I'm winning!"  Ha!
One of Andrew's most favorite things to do is go to my heart support group meetings with me.  This is him with his little heart buddy, also an Andrew!  They have dress up clothes and lots of fun toys for the kids to play with while us heart mamas have a super fun time just chatting!  It's kind of like a mom's night out!  We do discuss heart-related things too...but mostly we just eat cookies and visit!  It's good therapy!  Ha!
We were all cracking up on the way out because I always worry about him picking up some sickness (which I'm pretty sure this is where he got his last flu bug!)  But he had this teddy bear from preschool he was supposed to take on adventures and document it for a class book.  I couldn't help but think of all the germy places it has been!  Ha!  So I picked it up by its ear and Andrew copied me, and yes, that's hand sanitizer he's holding!  Ha!  We slathered him up before we left (and I was tempted to give teddy a bath, but I refrained.  Didn't want to ruin the class teddy).
Just hanging out watching TV on some boxes (that are still sitting in the middle of the family room because I haven't had time to put them away!)  
We made a large trip to Sams for formula, diapers and wipes!  $200 later... yikes!  I'm not wishing time away, but it will be nice when she's eating table food and is potty trained!  Ha!
We started a point sheet for Andrew with some things he can earn stickers for (picking up toys, hanging up his things after school, etc).  When he fills up a row he gets a prize (the whole sheet gets him a toy from Target!)  One of the top ones is "being nice and gentle to Kerigan."  I thought this one would be super hard for him...but tonight he earned his first full row and that was what filled up first!  I was so proud of him.  He has been doing so well lately and just being the best big brother.  He got this prize (yes, another Happy meal toy from Ebay!) to go with his Kung Fu Panda party this weekend!  He was beyond thrilled.
This was so sweet- Papa and Ga Ga came over for dinner the other night and brought Andrew a little something because he had been sick (spoiled I know).  But these little glow in the dark dinosaurs were from the dollar store and they were just about the best thing he's ever gotten.  He and Papa had so much fun holding them up to the light and taking them in the bathroom to see them glow.  He'd say "come on Papa!  Let's go see!"  Then he'd come running back out and drag Ga Ga in, then me, etc.  He was just having a blast.

We had Andrew's conference this week at his day care (which is also preschool).  He is doing so well.  I love his teacher Missey (she is the director of the center and she is awesome).  She really works hard teaching the kids to draw and stay inside the lines!  Ha!  Andrew came home with this picture and I was super impressed with the way he drew the people!
I asked him to tell me about it.  So this is hilarious... Daddy is on the left (ha!)  Andrew is on the right (do you like all of our ears?)  And apparently mommy is the big one in the middle!  I asked where his sister was and he pointed to my belly (see the little person inside??)  He said "that's my baby in your tummy!"  I could not believe he did that!  I thought that was just about the cutest thing (and most clever!)  And I'm trying not to overanalyze why he made me huge, towering over himself and daddy!  Ha!  I'm hoping this isn't how he views our family dynamics!

Just a couple of other random things... several people have been asking me about whether or not we have started Andrew on oxygen (remember, from this post?)  He did have a cardiology appointment a while ago (and I didn't post about it because we really didn't get any new information- he didn't have an echo done because he had just had his cath and it would be too soon to tell if the stent was helping the PA's grow).  We discussed oxygen with his cardiologist and he recommended that we wait.  Wait until his next cath this spring to see if there was any change.  He said if things looked the same or worse (which he didn't think would happen), then we could try it.  I am okay with that.  I'd like to see if the stent will work on its own anyway.  So we'll go from there once we have more info from his next cath.

We recently had an IEP meeting to discuss Andrew's move to Kindergarten in the fall (gasp, I know!)  He is doing so well that they actually dropped his social goal.  This goal was intended to help with peer relationships.  He used to be very independent and would often rather play alone, or move to another activity if another child would join him (I'm thinking he wasn't interested in sharing!  Ha!)  He also needed help with skills such as responding to questions, and asking peers to play appropriately (rather than chucking a toy across the room at them!  Ha!)  He has grown and matured so much, his teacher is dropping this from his IEP.  I am very happy that he's come so far and has improved so much in these areas.  I have noticed it too when I drop him off and pick him up.  He's always right there in the center of his circle of friends, playing, running, and interacting just like the other kids.  It makes me smile.  A lot.

Something else hearing related that we discussed at the meeting...  To prepare him for Kindergarten they wanted to do a test (called a functional listening assessment) to see if Andrew's hearing was discrepant enough for him to qualify for an FM system, that would be attached to his hearing aids and will amplify the teacher's voice (he/she would wear a microphone) no matter where they are in the room.  He will hear the teacher over everything else.  This is so important for him because when he wears his aids, he can hear ALL sounds- and they are all amplified the same amount.  Can you imagine hearing the fan running, the pencil sharpener, the kids talking, the teacher's pen tapping, etc, etc... all the same volume??  He has to learn how to tune out unwanted noise.  No easy task, but he's done such a great job.  His audiologist and hearing teacher performed the test today and here was the email I received... I wanted to share part of it so I have it recorded:

All of the testing done today was AUDITORY only. This means Andrew could not see my lips, as they were covered using a "speaker screen". Andrew was asked to repeat 10  Common Children's Phrases in 4 different situations: Close/quiet, Close/noise, Distant/Quiet, Distant/Noise. The close situations were when Andrew was only 3 feet from me, the distant situations were when Andrew was 6 feet from me. The noise was recorded "Cafeteria Noise" that was at a loudness of 65dBHL. My voice in the close situation was at 75dBHL and at 67 dBHL at a distance. So signal to noise close was +10 dBHL and signal to noise distant was +2 dBHL. That means my voice was 10 dBHL louder than the noise in the close situation and 2 dBHL louder in the distant situation. This is similar to what happens in a classroom when there is background noise and the teacher is away from the student.

Here are Andrew's scores:

close/quiet:  80% correct
Close/noise: 70% correct
Distant/quiet: 70% correct
Distant/noise: 60% correct

As you can see, both distance and noise had an impact on how Andrew was hearing and able to repeat the sentences correctly. Heartland has done this testing with normal hearing peers in order to get peer comparison. Here are the averages for normal hearing peers:

close/quiet: 97%
Close/noise: 91%
distant/quiet: 94%
distant/noise: 95%

As you can see, Andrew is discrepant from normal hearing peers in all situations. Because his scores are discrepant, because the SIFTER (Screening Instrument for Targeting Educational Risk in Preschool Children) indicates he is 'At Risk' for the Attention area, and because he seems to be more easily distracted in the classroom, I would like to recommend a trial with an FM assistive listening device system. As I explained at his IEP meeting, the school would provide a teacher microphone that would transmit to school provided receivers that would hook up to his personal hearing aids. Andrew will still be able to hear peers and environmental sounds through his hearing aids but the teacher's voice will be "amplified" to him above the background noise. 

I am so happy that he qualified for the FM system.  I think it can only serve as a huge benefit to his learning as he begins Kindergarten this fall.  I am praying that this will help him "take off" and have the same opportunities as his peers, even with his hearing loss.

And him starting Kindergarten?  Yeah, that's a whole other post for another time!

For now I'll leave you with a picture of the lights of my life!!
They also make me smile.  A lot.

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