Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Elena's New Therapy

I'm totally playing catch up lately.  Our weeks are so busy I have only about an hour a week that I actually sit down at my computer, so updating the blog has been tough.  That doesn't mean that there isn't anything to share, however!

Elena is having a great summer.  She is SO stinking busy, but she is loving it.  As tough as it is to be running around all the time, it's even tougher to be stuck at home with two kids!  Elena is spending two full days a week at the Jackson Center.  She has a preschool/education class in the morning and spends the afternoon in therapy.  She's done really well enduring a full day with lots of hard work, which shows me how big she's getting!  They've enjoyed two field trips already, one riding their adaptive bikes on the canal downtown and last week they went swimming in Carmel at the Monon Center.  It would be great to see her in action on the field trips with her friends, but love that she gets that independent time away from Cal and me.

In addition to those two days, she's spending an hour a week with her teacher and speech therapist from school and an hour in the pool with her PT and OT.  It's been great for everyone because without all the chaos and distraction from her peers at school, they have all been able to really see Elena's personality and abilities shine through.  Not to mention, she LOVES her teachers and her teacher's daughter, who is Elena's age, that comes to play with her during her school sessions.  It's all worked out really well this summer.

Lastly, she still works with Miss Lisa, her longtime OT, once a week and now we just added another speech session a week so she can learn how to work with a communication device.  I mentioned this a few posts back that this was something we were going to pursue this summer.  Elena really needs a way to effectively communicate with us, with her therapists and at school.  For about the last year and a half, we have really started seeing how much Elena understands and comprehends.  Quite honestly, I think we still underestimate her cognitive function.  We are confirming this by seeing how quickly she is catching on to using a device.

I'll try to explain in the most basic terms possible.  Essentially, we give Elena a series of choices for example, listen to music, play with bubbles or something different.  We say them aloud while showing her a picture card of the activity (the visual piece is a non-factor right now, because of her vision impairment but we still show it to her) and ask her to activate a switch by turning her head to the left.  Elena's dominant side is to the right, so she only turns left purposefully.  She's pretty much made choices from the very first time we asked her to do so.  Which shows us she totally understands what we are asking her.  Right now, it's pretty basic but eventually an electronic device will scroll through all the options/choices for her and she will again use the switch to make her choices.  As she progresses, the more choices and options will be available to her.  The magic of technology!

It's pretty exciting for us to have to potential to understand what Elena is thinking and what she wants.  I can only imagine how it feels for her to be able to finally communicate a simple choice to us.  Up to this point, we all just guess based on her emotions.  I hate the thought of Elena feeling trapped in her body so we hope this will be the bridge she needs to really shine.

Here is a video I took last week in her therapy.  We were playing a game in which we would say "Ready, Set", prompting her to say "Go!" using her head switch, then we would blow up a balloon.  She then had to say "Go!" again and we would release the balloon.  As you'll see, she activates the switch by turning her head left and then pretty much loves it :)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Kid-less Vacay

Yep, for ten glorious days Chad and I were thousands of miles away from life at home, enjoying exploring London and Scotland.  Ten days flew by for us (probably not as quickly for Gramma & Grampa though!).  It was such a welcomed break from everything, not to mention we had an incredible time.

I know everyone is different, but for me, I need a break from feeding little humans round the clock, changing diapers endlessly and bedtime routines.  That, and I think it's healthy (and important) for Chad and me to take time for ourselves as a couple without thinking/discussing our children constantly.  Nothing does that better than being thousands of miles away from home, totally unplugged from life for a bit.  It was SUCH a needed break for us.

As I mentioned, we spent five days in London and five days in the highlands of Scotland.  It was a trip Chad had earned through being so AWESOME at work. :)  Much like our previous trips to Santa Barbara and Kauai.  These trips are great because a majority of the planning is done for you and you pick and choose what you want to do.  For those of us who are constantly planning everything, it too is a welcome advantage.

London was a beautiful city, crazy busy and huge, but I loved the old mixed in with the new and the Brits couldn't have been nicer.  I love all things history, so this was totally, pardon the pun, my cup of tea.  I especially enjoyed their culture of having a pint (or three) at 10am, noon, 5pm, 10pm...whenever.  Ahhhh vacation.  We were able to see most the big sights in our short time there, our favorites being a day trip to Windsor Castle and our private cocktail reception at The Tower of London on our last evening there.

From London we took the train north and spent the day in Edinburgh, Scotland, which was magical.  Seriously was something out of a fairy tale or Harry Potter novel.  We were bummed we only had a few hours to explore there.

We spent the next few days at the Gleneagles Resort.  For you golfing fans, this is where last years Ryder Cup was played.  The resort was amazing, old, classic and surrounded by the beautiful Scottish countryside.  Chad golfed around the clock and I enjoyed the much slower pace than London.  I took walks, felt very Downtown Abbey with high-tea, spa'd it and my most favorite, took a Falconry and Gun Dog course.  It was surprisingly amazing for a girl who hates birds, has a terribly trained dog and could never endure a hunt of anything.  In Scotland, they still hunt using birds of prey and dogs (retrievers), so the course showed how each are trained and how they behave on the hunts.  It was all really interesting and ironic, considering my gun dog (Pete, an English Springer Spaniel) is afraid of guns, thunder and fireworks.  Anyway...the last night there we had a traditional Scottish feast meaning everything was smoked salmon and Haggis, which meant most of us ordered room service later.

The last two days of the trip Chad and I spent on our own in Glasgow.  Glasgow was surprisingly modern but really a nice, clean, friendly city.  Our last day we took a train north to the highlands to a town on Loch Lomond, where we took a ferry across to a tiny little picturesque village called Luss.  It was founded in like the 600's, which made it really old.  It was surrounded by both the Loch and these enormous green mountains.  We didn't have much time to spend there unfortunately but it was probably one of my most favorite days of the trip.

Meanwhile, back in Indiana, our kids were great for Gramma and Grampa.  Actually, they were better for them than they ever are for us!  Elena never cried except for the time we tried to Skype with her (phones always scare her, we should've known!) and Cal didn't even know we were gone.  We came home so excited to see the kids and Cal cried, then went about his business and Elena wanted nothing to do with anyone except her Daddy.  So much for a welcome home!

But in all reality, it was great to unplug for a bit in an amazing location.  We felt so grateful for not only Chad's job and employer, but for the great family at home who helped with the kids so we could get away.  When life at home is constantly chaos, Chad and I can often fall off the priority list.  Getting away from everything, is great for our relationship and is good for the kids to experience a little separation from us too.


Tower of London Reception

 Bird Skills
 Golf skills

 Windsor Castle
Luss, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

Pubs, Pubs, Pubs

Representing the Buchanan Family (my Mom's maiden name) on Buchanan Street in Glasgow, which happens to be where all the shopping is...just sayin'...it's in my blood :)

Tower Bridge, London

Last night at Gleneagles, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day

I want to wish a Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there.  I'm blessed to have a wonderful Dad myself, and just as thankful to have Chad.  Chad is the rock of our family, our glue, our calm.  He is everything to our family that I am not.  He is the best partner.  He also does not like any recognition, so at the very minimum I get today to brag about how wonderful of a Dad he is.

Our favorite time of day is when Daddy walks through the door.  The kids squeal in excitement, including Pete, whenever we hear the garage door open.  After a long, busy day at work, Chad always steps right into Daddy duty.  He never asks for a break, nothing ever for himself.  He can barely change out of his suit quickly enough before Cal attacks him.  Elena giggles uncontrollably when Chad announces he's going to give her "Daddy Kisses" and Cal just wants to be held.  I love being able to watch it all unfold.  Chad is everything to all of us.  With everything he has on his plate on any given day, you will never hear him complain or ask for time to himself.  Family is always first, he always puts himself last.

We were tested as parents soon after we became parents.  Our journey in parenthood changed instantly.  Through it all, he has been my partner and a devoted Dad.  I would never have made it through without him.  It has been so wonderful to watch Chad grow as a dad.  I never could have imagined our life like this and all the joy that we've been blessed to experience by having Cal and Elena.  Seeing him as a Dad and love that our kids have for him is more than I ever could have hoped for.  We love you so, so much Chad Daddy.  You're simply the best.

And one of my Daddy with his Grandkids!