Friday, July 20, 2007

Off the the MTC

My younger brother entered the MTC this week. He will serve in the San Diego Spanish speaking mission (he took four years of Spanish in high school) and he seems prepared. He said he was anxious to go because it was hard to be home with friends who weren't planning on serving a mission. I just wanted to enlist the prayers (for Kevin) of any who read this--and if you know anyone in San Diego, or happen to visit there, have them keep an eye out for him. Thanks!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Dirt, Doctors, and a Date

The kids helped us work in the yard yesterday. We (or rather, Christian...) tore down a small partition that lined our patio. We think the previous owners used it to grow some sort of climbing plant, but all we has was overgrown vines that were taking over our patio. The kids liked helping dig in the dirt and were a big help carrying the weeds out front for garbage pick up.
After mostly taking a few weeks off from Rachel's appointments in Charlotte, we had a lot scheduled this week and I thought I'd do my best to give an update on her hearing. While Rachel is probably hearing more than the audiologists can get her to respond to, the levels she does respond to indicate that she can hear most of the mid-range speech sounds at a normal volume, but that she is missing very high and very low frequency sounds. What this means is that while she can hear some of the prominent speech sounds, for now it looks like she won't be able to depend entirely on speech and listening for communication. Disappointing, but expected. However, during her speech therapy sessions it is clear that she is either hearing more than the audiologists say, or she is brilliant at lip reading and imitating. She can identify and repeat most vowels sounds (these are the low frequency sounds the appear to be technically out of her range) and is beginning to identify some animals by the sounds they make. She can imitate several consonants (the easy ones, like B,D,M... and occasionally T) and dipthongs (OW, "eye"). The most exciting thing is that she is saying basic words like Ma-ma, bye-bye, and uh-oh and she actually seems to know that know that they have meaning. She is also babbling (using mostly M and B) and will sign that she is talking. So however much she can actually hear, she is starting to assign meaning to sound and is beginning to recognize the importance of speech. That is huge news for us, and it is really exciting for us to watch her using the sounds she hears. She even will tell me when her implant isn't working, or will put it back on if it falls off. Sometimes she likes to put other magnets on her head and she'll look for the magnets on other people's heads....
Christian and I got to go on a real date this week---we saw the new Harry Potter movie in an IMAX theater in uptown Charlotte. It was really cool, but we sat too far down, not realizing it would make a difference, so we literally watched the movie laying down and couldn't see the entire screen at once. I feel like I need to see it again because I missed a lot. It was really nice to have an evening on our own, however... it doesn't happen very often.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Independence Day

Another busy week! We left early Tuesday morning (4:00 a.m.) to drive to Alexandria, VA to visit Christian's brother Marc, his wife and Marcy, and Christian's sister Alexia. I think Hannah is convinced that when we move, her old home and friends disappear. She loved going back to see familiar things. It is also really fun to have Rachel and Nathan connect with their extended family, especially since they were too young to really appreciate having family around when we lived in Utah. Once we were in Virginia, we spent an afternoon at the park, then had a BBQ with Marc and Marcy and ended with a game night. The kids loved playing with their cats and behaved remarkably well, considering how little sleep they had. Marc and Marcy have a one bedroom apartment, so we had really tight quarters that week, but the kids cooperated nicely. On Thursday, we drove back to Baltimore to visit the Science Center (can't let our membership go to waste), where we learned that Nathan does not like life-size dinosaurs and that all the kids love to get wet playing in the water/fountain table. It was really nice to have Hannah recognize the Harbor and be familiar with where we were. Afterwards, we drove by our old apartment--which none of the kids recognized--then went to a park to play with some friends. We enjoyed a picnic dinner and the kids found lots of small frogs to play with, then got really dirty in mud puddles. There is a drastic shortage of young families here in Shelby, so we really enjoyed spending an evening with friends.
On Friday, Alexia took the kids to the zoo (Rachel kept talking about seeing horses...) while the big people went to the D.C. temple. I'm always impressed with the beautiful setting around the temple, and how peaceful it is to go to the temple, especially in all the craziness of the city. We got lost on our way to the zoo, and in a way it was nice because we got to see the Mall, the Capital, and several memorials (we didn't have time for sight seeing) and some of the embasies. Later, we went swimming with Alexia, cooked Chinese food with Marcy and had a game night all together.
While it was a busy few days, we really enjoyed our little vacation. It is also good to be back and finally catch up on sleep.