Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mr. Met and AG Bell Fall Picnic

We spent this past weekend with oldish friends and new. We attended the New York Mets 6th annual Deaf and Hard of Hearing Awareness Day at Citi Field presented by the Children's Hearing Institute. It was an awesome afternoon with amazing families from CHI as well as Hannah's fabulous speech therapist Liz. The sun was shining bright, the sky was a perfect blue and we enjoyed Shake Shack while sitting in the Delta Club. Hannah even got a lift by Mr. Met. In all there were about 900 hard of hearing kiddos from schools from all over attending the game and some even signed the National Anthem. It was really amazing and Hannah loved running around the stadium. 
The Children's Hearing Institute's Hear-o's and Mr. Met

Hannah with Mr. Met but I know she is looking at the Yankee score.

On Sunday, it was another beautiful day and we drove out to Hartsdale, New York to attend the New York chapter of AG Bell's picnic. We got to meet lots of new families with hearing impaired children, all at different stages along their hearing journeys. It was great to see all the bigger kids play together, running around the park, screaming and laughing with each other. We're so lucky to be part of such a group with supportive families and Hannah can grow up having a great mix of kids in her life.

We're very excited for next Sunday and the Walk4Hearing. Go Team Hannah!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Meow...Introducing Sammy Cakes

There is one special little guy in Hannah's life. His name is Sam. Sam is our furry friend who was the first one to meet Hannah when she arrived home from the hospital and the first one Hannah smiled at when she opened her eyes after her cochlear implant surgery. He has been the most amazing little friend to Hannah, he's gentle and protective and has helped Hannah say MEOW.

Hannah's first visitor

Michael and I are animal lovers and Sam has enjoyed the years he was the king. But he has taken on his role as big brother with such grace. Hannah too sees Sam as her family. At lunch this week, we were sitting at the table and Hannah looked around and asked "Where?" I told her Sam was sleeping and asked her to turn to Sam's page in her little family photo book. Sure enough, she went right to it. I then showed her a small figurine of a cat and matched it to the picture of Sam. Hannah took the cat figurine from my hands, turned the page in her family photo album to the picture of the three of us and then added the cat figurine. So clever, so creative in her showing me how she sees her family.

A few weeks before, we were again eating. Sam was also eating, but in the kitchen. He let out a meow, probably trying to get in some extra treats. Without skipping a beat, Hannah meowed back to him. It was so cool.

I was told that having a pet will be an early indicator on how Hannah can hear. When the cat or dog or other animal makes a noise and the child reacts, you'll know she/he can hear. Seeing Hannah turn when she hears Sam meow is so endearing - seeing how happy he makes her and knowing that she hears him -- is always a reason to celebrate.

Today is Sammy's 8th birthday and we'll have a little ice cream party to celebrate.

Best buddies

Happy birthday Sammy Cakes! We love you!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

FM System

Hannah received her FM system today. I've heard so many wonderful stories about it, how it can really help Hannah hear more clearly in noise, but right now I'm a bit concerned with even more technology.

The FM is a wireless system that will help Hannah better understand speech in noisy situations - while in her stroller, a classroom, a restaurant or the playground - and over distances within 50 feet. It works like this: The person speaking (her parents, a teacher, a coach) will wear the transmitter microphone or in our case, the transmitter can be placed in the middle of the group to pick up speech from all around. Then the system will use radio waves to send speech signals to Hannah who will be wearing a small receiver attached to her cochlear implant. The result is Hannah will hear the speaker's words directly in their ears, without any distracting background noise, allowing her to enjoy and participate fully in every conversation.

The FM system comes in two parts - a transmitter and receiver. Hannah will be using Phonak's SmartLink+ transmitter. It features 3 microphone models - superzoom, zoom and omni, the last which will provide a 360 degree setting that picks up sound from around the transmitter. This will be great for family dinners as we can place the transmitter on the table and it can pick up every one's voices.
The Transmitter

The Receiver

Hannah lives in New York City. We do a lot of walking and there is a lot to see and talk about. Unfortunately it's very noisy and hearing clearly can be a challenge for anyone and especially for Hannah. With the FM system I'm really looking forward to walking around with Hannah, showing her the sights and knowing she can hear me loud and clear through all the noise. It's a big relief.

Food Attacks and Grandma's Birthday

Fall has unofficially begun in New York City and the sidewalks are alive again. What better way to explore the kingdom and learn a little bit more about its history than a food walking tour. That's exactly what we took Hannah on over the weekend. We joined Sidewalks of New York for a and Hannah really went to town, devouring all the tasty treat along the way, including bagel, pizza, cupcakes, cannolis and rice balls.

This rice ball is delicious. I'll take ten.
Hannah will make a great cannoli tester.

And if that wasn't enough, a few hours later, Hannah got her BBQ on at Neely's to celebrate her grandma's birthday. Grandma got a special birthday treat this week - a hug from Hannah. What can be better. Hannah developed a particularly close bond with my mom this summer over the Itsy Bitsy Spider, their theme song. My mom would sing it and as she did Hannah would mimic all the hand gestures. This week the song has changed to the Wheels on the Bus and Hannah likes to fill in the blanks with words. This week at speech, Hannah has been playing with figurines representing Grandma and Grandpa, which she is enjoying immensely. She even gave the toy Grandma and kiss.

Happy birthday Grandma! Love you!

 Hannah's third dessert of the day. Life is rough.

Hope everyone enjoyed the weekend.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hello September

Wow, how fast time really does fly! From the last time I've updated on Hannah's journey so much has happened.  I can now say I've gone from being a total nervous nellie to totally excited for Hannah. That's not to say that I'm not going to worry. If there is one thing Michael and I took away from the AG Bell conference in July is that you can never rest on your child's accomplishments. We need to stay vigilant and make sure Hannah is hitting all of her milestones. But as Hannah has progressed, I'm feeling a lot more comfortable teaching Hannah to talk, to listen and I have found my own way to be Hannah's mom, which I will get into later.

Most importantly, Hannah is progressing nicely and is flourishing. She is saying new words...such as  around, wait, please, to name a few...and is understanding simple commands like, "Hannah can you brush the baby's hair?" She is also amazing at discriminating between sounds, and able to pick out with ease which animals says BAAAA vs. MOOOO vs. QUACK QUACK. She also is an expert at Meow thanks to her kitty Sam. Last week we were at a baby yoga class when Hannah pulled a cat out of the bag and she proudly said Meow in front of the class. I was so proud.

Hannah is also letting us know when she hears things both in our apartment and outside. So when a plane whizzes past or a taxi goes beep, Hannah will point to her ear and approximate the words, "I hear it."

Another amazing achievement is her singing. Hannah has always loved music and music relaxes her. She has hummed the words to her Hello song and now she participates in songs like "If You're Happy and You Know It" by clapping her hands, patting her head when she listens to someone sing. She also says round and round and shhh shhh to the appropriate parts of "Wheels on The Bus."

Hannah is also walking, or rather running towards anything. We recently got her a baby doll stroller so she could push through the city. You can catch her walking with pride, waving to folks along the way. It's so cute to see.

I know all this progress came with a lot of hard work by Hannah and to the amazing speech therapy services she has been receiving. But we reached a point where we thought it was too much therapy and not enough time for Hannah to just be a kid.  While we increased speech services through EI at NYEE, we had to say good bye to the Center where Hannah began. We wanted  give her more time to go to story hours, museums, play in the park and get dirty. Hannah has an unbelievable zest for life, she is open to enjoying new experiences -- and living in Manhattan offers just that. I've learned so much over the past 15 months, more than I have ever learned about life and I know I can help her progress even further.  We have also enrolled Hannah in a couple of mainstream programs. She will be enjoying a musical animal adventures program at The Art Farms in the City as well as gymnastics at NY Kids Club.

We're really looking forward to the fall.