Thursday, July 26, 2012

Splish Splash

Hannah made quite a splash this week. She now has no fear with the sprinklers or just about any body of water. Just a few weeks ago you couldn't put her near water beyond the bathtub without her feet becoming alligator-like. Now, she screams more with delight than fear and as soon as we are close to the sprinklers at the playground I can't get her out of her stroller fast enough. I'm so glad she likes the water, especially with this crazy, hot summer.

I'm especially excited that the cochlear implants she wears by Advanced Bionics, The Neptune, is the only swimmable implant available. What this means is Hannah will be able to hear when she is in the water - be it the bath, the pool, the beach and the sprinklers. While it's of course more fun to be hearing, it goes without saying how much safer she will be. Hannah will never know the difference, she will only know that she can hear in the water. But for so many kids this summer, this will be the first summer they can hear while running through the sprinkler and I'm so happy for them. 

Hannah wears the same processors she wears all day, we just need to swap out the head piece for the water proof one. Hannah will always know what it means to hear in the water as she was implanted at the same time the Neptune became available in the US. And I love that she is able to hear herself laugh and sing and hear the kids around her as well. 

It makes me wonder too what new, amazing advancement Hannah will get to enjoy that will be a game changer for her the way the Neptune is for countless other children and adults.

These pictures were taken by my Dad at John Jay Park near our apartment. Enjoy! She sure did.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Birthday Celebration

We had a pretty fabulous weekend. It was Michael's birthday and we spent the weekend frolicking around Manhattan. Michael is such an amazing dad - he's attentive, loving and always has Hannah in fits of laughter. He even makes washing up after one of his yummy meals fun. I'm pretty sure Hannah's determination and fierce independence comes from her Dad. 

We celebrated Michael's birthday by brining the greater outdoors to the urban jungle. We spent some time at The City Tree House, a hidden playroom that is centered around a treehouse. In the tree house there was a hidden cave illuminated with stars that Hannah wasn't too sure about until two older kids went in. There was also a small water flume where Hannah enjoyed splashing around with balls in the cool water. After the tree house, we walked along the The High Line, an elevated park in Chelsea, and enjoyed the unique city views. Summer seems to be a great time to visit as the lush plants and trees was a cool juxtaposition against the city backdrop. Hannah really enjoyed taking off her shoes and splashing along a shallow stream of water gushing along the sidewalk. 

Of course, it wouldn't be a birthday without lots and lots of good meals. After the long walk, we went and got our BBQ on at Blue Smoke in Battery Park City. It's a great restaurant for kids. They gave Hannah an adorable pig-shaped piece of cookie dough that she could sprinkle herself and they would bake for her to eat for dessert. The next morning Michael made Hannah a special "H" pancake and it was delicious. 

Happy birthday to you Daddy! I love you so much!!!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Me and Grandma Down By The School Yard

We had a great day with you on Monday Hannah dear, especially when we went to the park and you got into your swimming attire for a run through the sprinklers. Well actually Mom did the running, but it looked like fun.

Of course you played on the swings and the climbing towers but we all enjoyed the image of grandma taking you by the hand (or you taking grandma by the hand) into the schoolyard for a pickup basketball game. You would’ve won if they gave you the ball. Next time for sure.

Ending the day with ice cream. Not a bad ending. What’s not to like?


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hot Town Summer In The City

We are living through the Hot, Hazy, Humid and Hannah days of summer. Not that you haven't noticed. We're trying to stay as cool as possible in the greater air-conditioned indoors, but sometimes a young girl needs to be outside and playing. 

Hannah and I enjoyed an afternoon at St. Catherine's Park, a local playground by us, with Grandma and Grandpa. Hannah got to show them her adorable walking skills as she sashayed through the sprinklers. Of course, what would a summer afternoon be without sidewalk chalk and swings. We ended the day with a real treat - chocolate peanut butter ice cream. Yummy!

Thankfully the fourth heat wave of the summer is supposed to end today and we can soon venture out and enjoy more of the outdoors.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sing Me A Song

Hannah has been wearing her Cochlear Implants on the right ear for nearly four months and on the left for about three months. It's hard to believe how quickly time passes by and how many new sounds Hannah is now producing. We marvel at each one and are so proud of how hard our little girl is working.

Hannah's first word was "UP" and we were so thrilled when she would say it. Everything was up. When Michael came home at night, he was greeted by Hannah calling him "UP". But now she is using it with meaning. For instance, when she sees monkeys playing she points to them and says "UP", when a toy falls down she tells Mommy and Daddy "UP" and when she is done eating she says "UP" to come up and out of the high chair. Some other words she is now using with meaning is "OPEN" or "Ohh-p" which is exciting because it's two syllables. When doors and elevators need to be opened, Hannah lets us know what she wants. Hannah is also waving and saying "BYE-BYE".

Hannah is also babbling much more. Sounds like "MAMAMAMAMA", "BABABABABA",  "DADADADADA" and "RARARARARA" are part of her everyday talk. It sounds so much like she's excited to share a story about her day with us. It's just wonderful to hear her sweet voice.

One of the most exciting things Michael and I heard over the weekend was Hannah singing a song. There is a "Hello" song she has been hearing in her therapy sessions that goes something like this: "Hello Hannah, Hello Hannah, Hello Hannah, Hello and How Are You?" There is the same pattern with a "Good Bye" song as well. On Friday morning, I brought Hannah over to her stuffed animal collection from The Central Park Zoo to say Good Morning to them. She carried it with her to get her diaper changed and started to sing the song in her babble voice to the spotted leopard she grabbed. It was just amazing and she's been singing the song all weekend long.

Hannah also took a hearing test at Friday. She did great in the hearing booth, turning when she heard the sounds to the drumming panda much like she did when she was activated with her CI's. Her hearing took a slight dip in the higher frequencies. She now has hearing ranging from 15 to 35 decibels. Her programs were readjusted and hopefully we will start to see the "EEEE" and "SHHHH" sound emerge. Her next hearing test is Sept. 14.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Sounds of Summer

The first time I went to Coney Island, my brother and I ran directly into the water. My Dad warned us not to because we didn't have anything dry to change back into for our drive back home. Oh and learn.  Since that day, the sound of crashing waves have always been soothing for me and has lured me back to Coney Island many times. 

I couldn't wait to take Hannah to Coney Island. There are so many sounds for her to soak up. The Cyclone as it roars through the sky, the ort oct of the seals, the music coming out of the boom boxes, the laughter, the wind blowing off the ocean. As we strolled down the boardwalk, Hannah was already sitting at the edge of her stroller, greeting the world with her amazing smile. The whole world is now hers to dream, to explore, to hear. 

This past Monday, my parents were also able to joined our escapades. One of the highlights was Miss Hannah going on her first rides. BY HERSELF. I can't take how quickly she is growing up and how independent she is becoming. I love how free-spirited and fun Hannah is and I love watching her soak up life. Next year, I'm predicting she'll sit in the front row of The Cyclone. 

After the rides, we hit up the beach. Hannah is slowing building up her feel for the sand under her feet. For a city girl, pavement is more her speed. 

We also went for lunch at L&B Spumoni Gardens for their famous pizza. I goofed by not ordering the "square" pizza and opted for the traditional round pie. It was so mouth-watering delicious. Hannah had a few bites and judging by her smile, we'll be back for the square pie. After, we indulged in the Pistachio Spumoni which was pretty spectacular. 

This is Hannah's first summer where she can actually hear all the sounds. Her smiles tell it all, she is loving them. My Dad's photos below capture it all.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Family Potluck Picnic with CHC

Today we attended CHC's first annual family picnic in Central Park. It was an awesome day, filled with lots of families, both familiar and new, as well as the Center's speech therapists and executive director. I call it a family picnic because obviously of all the families that were there, but the Center has also become a family to us. We have been taking Hannah to CHC since she was about 3 months old and it's such a tremendous place of love and support. They have taught us so much about hearing, children and have helped us in more ways than I have the words for. I love it so much there and I'm so thrilled Hannah will learn how to listen, how to communicate and how to hear at the Center.  CHC is such a huge part of all our lives and we're so thankful.

Hannah loving all the delicious salads at the First Annual CHC Family Picnic

A great afternoon with our CHC family in Central Park

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy Birthday America

To celebrate the fourth of July, we took Hannah to a baseball game to see the Brooklyn Cyclones. We savored over hot dogs, french fries and ice cream. It doesn't get any more American than that. This game marks Hannah's third baseball game in just as many boroughs. She loved all the sights and sounds, the smells and especially enjoyed hearing all about the national pastime. 

While the Cyclones were pouring on the runs, Hannah played a little game of her own called "Peek-A-Boo" with my brand new Brooklyn Cyclones hat. She can play this game all day and loves when you say "Ahhhh" when you (or she) is hiding and "Boo" for the big reveal. 



And again...

...for the hat.
We stayed the full nine innings but Hannah took a good snooze for the seventh inning stretch. She missed the fireworks after the game, but she is our little fire cracker all the time.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Group Therapy

Hannah's already busy schedule just got even busier this summer. In addition to her 4 hours of individual therapy a week at both CHC and NYEE, Hannah takes part in a group session at CHC twice a week with 5-7 hearing impaired children her age. Our first session was today with Fara, who is her individual speech therapist, and Anita, her audiologist when she was wearing hearing aids. The group was a lot of fun, they sang songs, played with blocks and Hannah's personal favorite, shook things up with a parachute. The goal of these group sessions is to teach the children how to listen in noisy environments and listen to their peers. Since so much of Hannah's therapy involves one-on-one with an adult, the group is a fun change. Hannah seemed to enjoy the new atmosphere and she was able to keep her focus on the activity in the noisy environment.

Monday, July 2, 2012

AG Bell Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona

This past weekend, we went to the AG Bell conference in Scottsdale, Arizona and had such an amazing, inspiring time. While Hannah was experiencing her first child's program on her own, Michael and I attended various sessions such as advances in hearing technology, growing up with a cochlear implant, reading to children and how to have an effective 60 minute therapy session. We had the opportunity to meet and talk with lots of industry leaders including speech therapists, audiologists, early interventionists and parents from around the country, all sharing ideas and best practices. We met extraordinary people full of so much passion and learned so much about different ways to introduce language to Hannah and just how important repetition is. Normal hearing kids hear 24 hours a day, as there are no "earlids" -- so the brain is always absorbing the information channeled through the ear. But for people with hearing aids and cochlear implants, they are missing access to sound when their technologies are turned off.

The best part of the conference was meeting other parents, especially those with children a little older than Hannah and getting their advice on the road ahead. One thing we realized is how lucky we are to be living in New York City where Hannah receives the very best care in her hearing journey. We heard stories of families from the middle of the country who were told that their hearing impaired children would only sign and wouldn't be able to talk and it was the parents who researched and fought hard to get their kids an oral education.

While we know that early implantation is great and important for her overall development, one thing for sure is we will not let Hannah rest on her successes.  We need make sure all of her hearing needs are met throughout her educational career. We are going to be Hannah's strongest advocates to help her be the best she can be, even when the test scores show how well she is doing.

After attending the various sessions, we were able to enjoy some family time where Hannah enjoyed the pools at the resort. While previous pool visits were not here favoirte, the 113 degree temperatures melted away any lingering resistance. We splashed and laughed and eventually Hannah felt safe enough to fall into the water from the side of the pool. We even enjoyed a few trips around the lazy river, though her aqua mics took a trip by themselves. Yikes! Luckily, Michael was able to recover them.

Lazy River at the Westin Resort

"Mom, they need to have candy station at the turns."

We had such an amazing time and would recommend this conference to anyone on the fence thinking about attending.  We loved meeting everyone from Advanced Bionics (Hannah's CI manufacturer) and our new AG Bell family. We can't wait until Disney World in 2014.