Spooktacular Sounds!

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Halloween is around the corner, and our family can’t wait to celebrate~! We were gifted some inspiration this week from Bliss’s Godmama Donna Scott. She crafted an awesome haunted gingerbread house via Trader Joe’s with her niece and nephew recently and posted some fab photos via social media. So, in honor of all things spooky, we decided to take some cues from Godmama Donna, follow suit and craft our own haunted Halloween house…….along with all the sounds that go bump in the night!

Before supper one evening this week, we broke out our new haunted gingerbread house kit from TJ’s. It was a hit! Here’s Bliss checking out the instructions and prepping her materials for the house.

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Next the spooky assembly began!  We piped the orange frosting as mortar for the gingerbread walls + roof, and framed the doors + windows with frosting as well. Bliss decorated the adorable pumpkin and cat for outside the house with piped orange + black frosting, and she organized + sorted the various jellybeans, colored beads, black bats + white bones to decorate her haunted house.  She was like a pumpkin in a patch, right at home~

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Ms. K, Bliss’s SLP, gave us a great idea to discuss all of the spooky sounds her haunted house makes.  Bliss pointed out that her jellybean doorbell would say ding dong, the front door would creak open and shut, the bat’s wings would flap flap, the cat’s feet would sound like pitter pat pitter pat, (and the cat would Meowwww), and when the wind blows the bone curtains rattle rattle rattle.  

Some books we’re reading this week, alongside Bliss’s haunted house, are Maisy Makes Gingerbread (in honor of the gingerbread house) by Lucy Cousins; Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson + Axel Scheffler, and Corduroy’s Halloween based on the character created by Don Freeman.

Here’s a yummy gingerbread recipe from one of my faves, the Pioneer Woman, for some bootastic baking!  And may you enjoy all of the spooky sounds this season brings…

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Apples to Experience

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Preschool Artwork

With the change in temperature and seasons, our family is feeling a bit under the weather.  We’ve decided to take it easy for a couple of days to rest and regroup.  Since we are homebound, my initial post idea has altered to…..apples! This past weekend we gathered pumpkins + apples, and now with some time at home, Bliss and I decided to make the most of our bounty and cook up some homemade applesauce and a fun new list of vocabulary words that are apple-centric.

First, Bliss counted all of the apples we decided to use in our recipe. Then she washed and dried each apple.

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Next, she helped peel each apple, and once they were cored and sliced, she added them to the dutch oven.  She took a quick break and enjoyed a bite or two.  Next, she poured water and brown sugar over the apples. Then finally, she squeezed a lemon over the whole batch.

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Once everything was assembled, Bliss stirred her apples, prepping them for the stovetop.  They cooked over medium heat for about 40 minutes, until they were nice and stewed.

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Wala…..applesauce!! Chunky, yummy and all fall! Bliss is thrilled.

Also, in celebration of apples this week, we watched and listened to “The Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle via YouTube. Bliss’s dad came home and talked with her about apple seeds and how an apple tree grows.  All in all, it was a sweet day! Check out our quick vocabulary list of apple-centric words below, a couple of other fun apple related resources, and the yummy applesauce recipe, courtesy of Ree Drummond via her blog, The Pioneer Woman.

Until next time, have a great fall, and we’ll keep cooking up new ways to grow Bliss’s vocabulary.

Apple-centric Vocabulary ListApple, Seed, Core, Red, Spotted, Counted, Washed, Dried, Peel, Cored, Sliced, Added, Enjoyed, Poured, Squeezed, Assembled, Stirred, Prepping, Cooked, Delicious

ABC Food App: Check out the itunes listing here!

Apple Themed Literacy Activity: Check it out here!

Turning up the Volume!

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We are turning up the volume on Bliss’ speech immersion and therapy this fall! Our hope and goal for her is that by the time she begins kindergarten in 2016, she is on par with her naturally hearing, chronologically aged peers.

She is currently attending her third year of preschool, five days a week, where she is surrounded by age appropriate speech models, who are (bonus) also her friends.  Also, she is attending two sessions weekly with an SLP (speech language pathologist) through our local school system (at no cost to our family), and also through the school system, she receives a weekly visit from a teacher of the hearing impaired to her preschool.  Finally, she is receiving private speech therapy from Ms. K, her main SLP, whom she sees weekly.

We definitely feel that our decision to mainstream her with her hearing chronologically aged peers is paying off!  A powerful indicator of this was on our most recent visit to CASTLE for an appointment with her audiologist and her SLP there. Ms. M, her CASTLE SLP, tested her for comprehension and speech.  She scored strongly within both categories, within normal limits for her chronological age.  We are still blown away, and we have to thank all of the SLP’s and our support network for encouraging Bliss to dive into the mainstream, step it up and turn up the volume on closing the gap.

Some ways at home that we are turning up the volume, are through reading a minimum of 30 minutes daily, weekly vocabulary scavenger hunts, playdates and life experience.

With fall in the air, some of Bliss’ current favorite reads include: Mouse’s First Halloween by Lauren Thompson + Buket Erdogan; Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson + Jane Chapman; The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda D. Williams; Stirring The Brew by Author Unknown; Julius by Angela Johnson and Corduroy’s Halloween by B.G. Hennessy (character by Don Freeman). We plan on going to a local farm this month for a pumpkin picking excursion, hayride included, and will go into more detail next post regarding the fabulous scavenger hunts Ms. K gives as homework each week, to help grow Bliss’ vocabulary.

We are excited and hopeful.  Speech is a loud and lovely sound in our house where we plan to keep the volume high!

by Lauren Thompson + Buket Erdogan

Mouse’s First Halloween

Blast from the past

I’m happily and finally back in the world of blog. It’s been a long hiatus, but I’m excited and hopeful to keep up the posts.

Bliss is doing very well. We feel like we climbed Everest after her second and final cochlear implant last April, and are now on the next leg of the journey; developing her speech. It is both exciting and challenging.

We had a wonderful experience with the REACH Program at Castle in Chapel Hill, and we are now studying privately with a fabulous SLP in our home town, who came recommended to us via our SLP at REACH. We began meeting twice weekly with Ms. K the end of last summer and are now studying with her once a week.

In addition, Bliss is receiving two weekly speech therapy sessions through our local school system, which is great!

This past week Ms. K worked on using “past tense” with Bliss. We sat around a table and each did something. Ms. K clapped and said ” I’m clapping, I’m clapping.”. Then she stopped and said “I clapped. I clapped.”. It was a fun game, and each of us had to come up with a simple activity we could do at the table (snapping, yawning, etc…), verbalizing our action, and then the past tense of that particular verb. Bliss had fun!

We read “The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear,” by Don and Audrey Wood.  Ms. K broke out her awesome book kit (which I’ll go into next post) and Bliss was entranced….mostly, she is 3. Ms. K uses small representative objects for the various characters that appear throughout the book; basically a mini puppet show that is acted out. It’s pretty cool. She focused on asking Bliss logical questions about the story as she read along. Developing comprehension.

This week we are charged with past tense input, input, input! So since Wednesday’s lesson, we’ve been talking about everything, everything, we do throughout the day, using present and past tense. We’re pretty happy; last night before bed time Bliss spontaneously said “Hey, I dropped my ear!”. (ear is code for implant processor that she wears on her ears). We just have to keep up the consistent blast of past tense input and in due time, it will be achieved….and a thing of the past.

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Buzzwords

It’s been a long time coming, and I apologize for the delay in posting. We’ve had a crazy few months – all good, but a roller coaster adventure.  Bliss has been approved for a second cochlear implant, and we are overjoyed~! 

 

Since the last posting, we have attempted cochlear implant surgery in her left ear, on two separate occasions. The first attempt in December and the second attempt again in January.  Both attempts failed due to congestion and a middle ear infection. 

 

We were deeply disappointed, but also thankful for the care and compassion of her doctors in Chapel Hill.  Although everything was in place for surgery, the amazing team of medical professionals made a hard but smart decision, and halted surgery for another time, putting her health first.  We are now keeping our fingers crossed for another try later this spring.

 

In the meantime, Bliss is doing great!  This week we’ve had two sessions with Amazing E and a great online meeting with her speech pathologist Ms M. at CCCDP for REACH.  We are approaching our weekly goals like workers bees and taking it a day at a time, working on our specific marks each week, and trying daily to reach our goals. 

 

One of our main goals includes weekly “buzzwords” – nouns, verbs and adjectives like “bee,” “run,” “sleep,” “big,” “eat,” “more,” “walk,” and “push” that we focus on and work with daily.  Each buzzword takes a journey – first there is input of the word; then comes comprehension; then follows imitation and finally, spontaneous use.  We’re learning cool and fun techniques to implement each stage of the vocabulary process.  For instance, Amazing E had Bliss make a “bee” out of construction paper that’s sitting in our kitchen as a visual reminder of her buzzword.

 

Each week we’re taking each buzzword and putting it through the paces until we get the end result, the honey, which is spontaneous use. This week it happened at one of our speech sessions when Bliss grabbed a pen and stated “my pen!” She also spontaneously said “toy,” “paper,” and “mama shoe” this week in context. These phrases and words have not been specific buzzwords on our list, however, she’s added them to her repertoire.  We’re abuzz with happiness and hope, and it’s definitely made this week sweet.

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REACH for Speech!

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A couple of months ago we were in Chapel Hill visiting Bliss’ audiologist at CCCDP /Castle.  As we waited in the lobby, we spent a few minutes with a wonderful speech pathologist. Ms. M., who we met on our initial visit to the office.  Spontaneously, Ms. M. spent a few minutes telling us about a new program they’re initiating called “Reach,” where we would have weekly video conferences with her and/or other speech pathologists until Bliss is the age of three.  Basically, the chance for complimentary speech therapy for Bliss, for another year.  Were we in?  Oh, like Flynn!  

The past few weeks we’ve had the pleasure of working with an awesome IT gentleman by the pseudo name, Mr. R.  He’s just plain fabulous, and after some troubleshooting via telephone, we’re officially up and running!

 

We begin our first videoconference/speech therapy session with Bliss next week, and we can’t wait.  She was in our den/office one of the times we tested our video connection, and she was completely mesmerized by the live moving + talking person on the other end of the computer, Ms. M.  

 

Most of all, we’re looking forward to expanding our knowledge with new training to help Bliss with her speech development and comprehension.  Also, we hope to become better advocates for our daughter.  Ms. M has provided a laundry list of toys and items to help assist with new teaching techniques, and we’re beyond excited at this new learning opportunity technology has given us and all of the folks the program extends to.  

 

Another perk, we don’t have to travel far to connect with some of the country’s most talented and giving speech pathologists.  Their library of knowledge and ability to help is just a mouse click away.  

 

As with any computer based program, there have been a few bumps in the road in terms of technology.  All of that aside, CCCDP/Castle has proven to be committed, patient + progressive…..reaching patients far + wide.  Stay tuned and see what new adventures come our way and the distances Bliss will reach with her evolving speech.

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Sounds of Stillness

The official start of fall is less than 24 hours away…

 

This time of year is hands down my favorite.  Everything begins to shift – the color of the leaves, the temperature, the daylight, and the sounds~

 

With this seasonal shift, my husband and I have begun to realize something pretty cool.  Unknowingly, Bliss has given our family a fabulous gift.  The past few weeks especially, she has pulled us into the moment again and again when she hears something.  Our day to day lives that have been somewhat mundane, are suddenly overflowing with her excitement at the identification and discovery of familiar and unfamiliar sounds.    

 

There was a wonderful afternoon earlier this week.  After I worked, I grabbed the ipad and videotaped while Bliss napped.  

 

In honor of taking time to listen, here are a few seconds of stillness – some faint sounds and sights of a moment in time, just on the cusp of fall….enjoy!  


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