Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 In Review

Where did the year go?
Seeing that the new year is creeping up on us, we typically reflect on events of the past and try to learn from them.

Here is just some of our year in review:

My first blog post.

Nasty IEP Meetings

Medical Alert Bracelets

Andrew's Surgery

Two-Faced Education Personnel

Andrew's ability to "WOW!" me
Elmo and the Sensory Child
I am Mom. I am Nurse. I am humble.
Taking a Break from it All.

One of Many Insurance Denials
Is This a Federal Offense?
Kaitlyn's First Day of ESY
Another "half-truth" from Aetna Insurance

I Need to Let Her Speak for Herself
Andrew's Words
Should I Believe Aetna This Time?

Insurance Celebration Time Over Here!
I. Want. Eggs.
A Proud Mom's Moment
Sing a Song
Twas The Night Before The First Day of Kindergarten
Kaitlyn's 1st Day of All-Day Kindergarten
Fight The Fights That Need Fighting

Gym Class and the Sensory Child
Yes, My Kids Watch Videos
Our Adventure With Fish Oil Supplements
My Letter to Barack Obama
The Naughty Chair and Super Nanny
Andrew's 1st Day of School
The Cost of Therapy
The Nurse Curse
Support Groups

Sorority Sisters
Potty Training and the Two Year Old Boy
Helping Verbs
Flu Fears vs Vaccine Fears
CASANA Campaign
Kids With Apraxia Get Sick, Too!
Kaitlyn's Birth Story...6 Years Later
Mom Of The Year Award
That Gut Feeling That Aetna is Going to Flake Out On Me

Prescription For Danger
Two Peas in a Pod
I. Am. Speechless.
8 Percent
Six Amazing Words
Let The Children Come to Me
The F-Bomb?!
Thank You, From the Bottom of my Blogging Heart!
Thank You, Illinois Governor Quinn

This Blogger's Little Brother
More Uses for Play-Doh
A Side of Andrew I Never Saw
Tiny Dancer
Our Christmas Card

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Yeah, I Can Use More Days Like This

How can I go about requesting more days like Tuesday?
Shining sun.
Kids sleeping in and waking up happy (they are always happy, though. Really!)
A quiet cup of coffee to soothe a nasty sore throat.
OK, maybe I could do without the sore throat today.
And six hours of bliss with my daughter.
Just the girls.
A trip to the post office.
A jaunt to the eye glass shop to repair some over-stretched eye glass arms.
A. Wonderful. Lunch. Just. Me. And. My. Girl.
A great eye surgeon appointment, reiterating the fact that her surgery which was done in Feb 2007 for strabismus was, indeed, a huge success and continues to be!
And I did NOT have to translate for her at all.
For anyone.
To anyone.
Not at the post office.
Not at the eye glass shop.
Not at the restaurant.
Not at the doctor's office.
Yep, I could get used to more days like this.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday's Top Ten

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday.
We sure did!

#10. Thankful that the 7.4 inches of snow fell after we traveled for 2 days of Christmas celebrations.

#9. Watching Kaitlyn make a snow angel. Andrew wanted nothing to do with that idea!

#8. After surveying the amount of gifts my children received, it appears as though I will not have to purchase one article of clothing for them until the heat of summer.

#7. Going to a "hoity-toity" restaurant with my husband and kids and that my kids behaved better than 90% of the adults in the room.

#6. Planning another family overnight getaway to Key Lime Cove for New Year's Day!

#5. Appreciating my Mom's good taste in the gorgeous Tiffany lamp that she bought for my scrapbook room. Thanks, Mom!

#4. My new Cricut jukebox. Thanks again, Mom.

#3. Going sledding with my daughter and enjoying it like I was 10 years old.

#2. Hearing Andrew say "huck" and know that he means "hug". Then receiving a loving Andrew hug to warm me through and through.

#1. Being thankful for all that I have.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Why Does The Sun Set, Mommy?

Surfing the net can cause you to come across new and exciting sites.
With all the surfing that I have done, I find it strange that I never came across this before.
Click here to see more!

And if you are as interested in this book as I am, click here and add to cart!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Follow The Yellow Brick Road

Whether you are a fan of the movie Wizard of Oz (I am!)

or a fan of Elton John's song "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (I am, too!),

here is yet another reference to the above named post.
Another great site for great products!
Click here to see more!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Christmas to Remember 2009

This post is basically photos.
A chronicle of our two days of holiday celebration.
Two days.
Two days of kids with no naps.
Two days of kids eating foods that they typically wouldn't.
Two days of kids with no naps.
Two days of traveling and putting more than 150 miles on the car.
Two days of kids with no naps.
Two days of chaos.
And presents.
And Santa.
And no naps.

A look of amazement as the toy train rolled by.
Trust me, Andrew the tank derailed it shortly after this photo was taken!
Sorry, Dad.

Me and the kids on Christmas Eve.
I need to start having someone take more pics of me with the kids.
I am typically the photographer.
I need a new camera, too.
This one blurs lately, even though I am not asking it to blur.

Andrew had someone open one of his many toys which he received.
Note his choice of place to sit.
Like a cat, he sat in the box.

Santa came to visit us on Christmas Eve.
Kaitlyn was in awe.
Thank you, my dear brother John, for being Santa again.
I hope she never figures it out!

Andrew wanted nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with Santa.
In fact, he was trying to be the first toddler to literally crawl inside a grandfather's skin.
Wanted nothing to do with the jolly ole Elf!

Christmas morning after Church.
One of our few family shots.
However, as most family shots go in our household,
there is always someone looking the other way.

Andrew looks wiped out after that long homily from the visiting priest.

And Kaitlyn stares in wonder at the weird creature known as "Brother Andrew".

This is around 5:00pm Christmas Day.
Note how exhausted these two look.
They are seriously going to be hung over from lack of sleep,
too much sugar,
too many gifts,
and no naps for two days.
Hope everyone had a blessed holiday!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Anatomy of Our Annual Christmas Card

So this year, I wanted to get a bit more creative with our family Christmas card.
Seeing that everyone is in a tizzy about the H1N1 flu and lack of hand washing, I decided that jolly ole St. Nick would not be in this years photo.
So I picked up a few Santa hats, positioned the kids strategically, and began snapping away with the camera.
Not an easy task.
Here's what I went through:

"Smile nicely, Kaitlyn"
OK, not a great shot.

"Show me some excitement, Kaitlyn! Santa will be here soon!"
OK. Maybe not that much excitement.

"Kaitlyn, look at the camera honey."
"Kaitlyn, put the ornament down and look at Mommy, sweetie."
Oh well.

Let's move onto Andrew.
"Hey, big guy! Smile for Mommy!"
"No, no spitting, OK?"

"Andrew, sit down."
"No, you can't get down yet."
"Andrew please sit...."

"Andrew, leave your hat on, OK?"
"Andrew, put the pom-pom down and show me a nice smile."
I give up.

But after I went into my editing room (er, my husband's office that has our camera software installed in his laptop that I can do all of my editing on), this is what I came up with.
Not bad!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Vowels and Pam Marshalla

Here is another great video from Pam Marshalla.
This time, she is teaching vowel sounds and hand placement.
Isn't she the best?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Don't Break Your Elastic!

This post has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with apraxia or speech therapy.
It is just a boost for anyone who needs it today.
A way to make you smile.
A little cyber-hug!

In April, Maya Angelou was interviewed by Oprah on her 70+ birthday. Oprah asked her what she thought of growing older.
And, there on television, she said it was 'exciting...'
Regarding body changes, she said there were many, occurring every her breasts. They seem to be in a race to see which will reach her waist, first.

The audience laughed so hard they cried. She is such a simple and honest woman, with so much wisdom in her words!

Maya Angelou said this:
'I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.'

'I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.'

'I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.'

'I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as 'making a life.'

'I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.'

'I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back....'

'I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.'

'I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one...'

'I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.'

'I've learned that I still have a lot to learn..'

'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'

Please send this to five phenomenal people today. Just copy/paste this post or send the link to my blog. Make someone else smile today.

If you do, something good will happen: You will boost another person's self-esteem.

If you don't...the elastic will break and your underpants will fall down around your ankles!

Believe me, I didn't take any chances on MY elastic breaking...I sent it to a lot of special people I care for.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays!

#10. Sending my daughter off on her first field trip last week to see "The Nutcracker".

#9. Getting an AWESOME email from her teacher on how well she did at said field trip.

#8. Seeing Andrew get aggravated with all of Kaitlyn's kisses after he "tolerated" them for the 8 days that she was sick.

#7. Crashing and wiping out the software on my Blackberry. Not good.

#6. Having the Fed Ex lady come to the door today and say "Here is your new phone, honey". Love her!

#5. Watching the kids get excited over Christmas.

#4. Getting 95% of my Christmas shopping done in one day.

#3. Watching a "reunion" of sorts with Kaitlyn and her first speech therapist this week.

#2. Planning a last minute get-away to Key Lime Cove with the kids for New Year's weekend!

#1. Being grateful and thanking God for all that I have.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Remember that annoying jingle?
"I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys-r-Us kid..."
Yeah, that one!
Now you are going to be singing the annoying jingle all day.
OK, maybe not that annoying, but it does grate on your last nerve throughout the Christmas holiday shopping season.
So as I was perusing the Internet for the newest toys for my kids, I came across the Toys-r-Us website.
And much to my delight was this link: a catalog, also sponsored by the National Lekotek Group geared specifically towards the special needs of special kids!

You can shop by "special" skill or need:
Fine Motor.
Gross Motor.
Social Skills.

Leave it to Toys-r-Us to make this a bit easier for us special-needs folks of special kids, huh?
Not that I have any issues with shopping for my kids since, in my opinion, I do that just fine and dandy (but not if you ask my husband!).

Reading and the Brain

An interesting article was sent to me by someone within the education system.
I wanted to share this with you because I know that we all encourage our children to read and we teach reading in various forms during the day.
Although some children receive additional reading instruction through interventions, it makes it seem like our whole day is about reading.
I know that not every child enjoys reading to the same degree, but this research reinforces for me the importance of having our children receive the appropriate instruction tailored to their challenge level.
If you are interested in learning more, click here!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pam Marshalla Rocks!

If you have a child with apraxia of speech, I am sure you have heard this name tossed around here and there.
A pioneer, of sorts.
An amazing woman.
A published author.
An extremely talented speech-language pathologist.

My brother sent along this YouTube video of Pam Marshalla's "Place Cued Speech for Consonants".
Yep, I will be trying these with both Kaitlyn and Andrew now.

She has a great website that you can see here!
Oh, if we lived in the Seattle area, I would be knocking on her door quite frequently!
Knock, Knock!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Look Who's Talkin!

It's Andrew!
What an amazing burst of language he has had as of late.
Speech therapy has really done him justice.
He is really able to let us know what he means.
What he wants.
And when he wants it.
Um, and that usually means N.O.W.!!!!
Lots of two-word phrases being put together.

Keep talkin', baby.
Keep talkin'.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Much Waited-for Email.....

Yesterday was the school field trip.
I was nervous.
And I was 34 miles away at work.
There was nothing I could do.
But watch the clock.
And I watched the clock. All. Day.
9:30am: knew she was getting on the bus.
11:00am: I hope she is watching the ballerinas and not hiding and crying.
1:00pm: Maybe she is at McDonald's with her friends by now?
2:30pm: They should be getting back to school at this point.
3:30pm: Dad should be picking her up from school. I hope there is good news to report.

I, of course, emailed the teacher.
How did it go?
Was she OK?
No tears?
How was the bus ride for her?
Was she OK?

This is the email that I received.
It speaks for itself:

"Kaitlyn did......


I'm so proud of her as well as all of the students because they did a phenomenal job. She did great on the bus and sat so nicely at the play. She enjoyed it and was not bothered by the loud music either! There was one scene where people were fighting and I slowly looked over at her to see how she was and as soon as we made eye contact she got a watery eyed but we assured her that it was ok and they were just pretend fighting and she pulled it together before any tears came. She did great at McDonalds...ate and sat nicely! I am just so proud of everyone!!! :o)"

My big girl, my sensory girl, did just fine.
Take a bow, honey.
You deserve the standing ovation!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Tiny Dancer

that my little (um, I know. She's big now) girl takes her first school bus ride.
With her classmates and friends.
About 15 minutes away from school.
To a community college.
For her first field trip.
To see "The Nutcracker".
And then out to lunch, to of all places...McDonald's!

Have fun, sweetheart!
Enjoy the ballerina's dancing.
And dance to the music, too.

"....Dance like no one is watching....."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tuesday's Top Ten

What a week! Although a majority of it was filled with a sicky for a daughter, I found a few bright spots from the last seven days:

#10. Kaitlyn getting sick last week Saturday at midnight and having it linger for the next SEVEN days! Ick!

#9. More words and approximations from Andrew.

#8. Seeing Andrew watch over Kaitlyn like such a hawk while she was sick.

#7. Not even fretting at this point that I barely started Christmas shopping.

#6. Having my Mom babysit both kids on Friday night.

#5. Being able to get away for 7 hours on Friday to do some much-needed scrapbooking at Archiver's while Mom watched my children.

#4. Having a "talk" with my husband resulting in a possibility that I could quit my job and stay home full time! Yes!

#3. Taking Kaitlyn to the ER on Thursday after way too much vomiting and not having to play the "RN card", seeing that she was being taken care of so well.

#2. Having a great ER work up, a negative abdominal xray, and benign belly exam, and a purple popsicle to make things better.

#1. Having Kate go back to school Monday like the last 9 days never happened!

Off the D.L.

and back into the game.
After one week of sickies and blahs, she is back in the swing of things.
And so is little brother.
And so is this Mama.
It almost feels like spring training all over again: getting up before the sun, showering, packing, and on the road.
Ate a decent breakfast of champions.
Dropped her off at school.
She appears happy and ready to resume life as we once knew it prior to this last round of germs and bugs and whatever else caused this drama in my house!
It was actually a nice little break for all of us, aside from kneeling in front of the toilet.
Wait! Whoa am I kidding?
Last week really sucked!
She was miserable.
She couldn't get all of her words out correctly.
She was frustrated.
And there were a lot of tears last week.
But having a child with CAS does not guarantee you a vacation.
Even when they are under the weather.
In fact, it tries you and challenges you even more.
And you learn more about your child with CAS, the sibling of the child with CAS, and yourself while being confined to a house for one week.
New words.
New frustrations.
New attitudes.
New eye-openings.
But we made it through the rain (a shout out to all you Manilow fans out there!)
We are ready to take the field again.
And the crowd goes wild.......

Memory Game = Speech Game, Too!

I am sure we all have played "Memory" at one point in our childhood, right?

Well, here is a great link to spruce up the game and make it a speech and language session while on winter break.

Happy playing!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Now that we are on the mend in this house.
And that all the vomiting seems to have left the building.
We can go back to what this blog is supposed to be about: apraxia of speech.
Since she was out of school all week, I had to improvise and come up with my own therapy schedule.
Not an easy task, I must say.
But prior to this brief hiatus, she began working on articles of speech in school to help facilitate communication and sentence formation.


Ah yes, it is all coming back to me now.
Did I mention how much I hated language studies in grammar school?
I guess this whole apraxia thing is payback for making faces at the nuns in that Catholic school I attended, huh?


Mrs. Lewis and Mrs. Sczepanski eventually drilled it into my head in 7th grade.
I hated having to label parts of a sentence.
Now my past is coming back to haunt me.


Once again, everything comes full circle.
At least Kaitlyn enjoys doing this more than I ever did.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Still sick

Yesterday, Kaitlyn had been 48 hours without vomiting.
We were advancing her diet oh so slowly.
She was on full liquids with bites of waffle or bagel.
She was asking for baby food, so that is what I gave her.
She was tolerating Stage 3 bananas and peaches.
If it is gentle enough for a one year old, it should be gentle enough for her.
Or so I thought.
We were done taking the Zofran.
She had no complaints of nausea.
Until 6:30pm Chicago time.
Move over, Linda Blair.
Fed up with the whole situation as well as the countless rude comments from people who think they are allowed to give me advice because they know my child better that I do (ha!), we went to the ER.
We were taken back immediately.
A great abdominal assessment from the ER doc.
Another dose of Zofran.
A purple popsicle.
A urinalysis and culture.
An abdominal xray.
Kate did so well.
She was actually telling the doc her side of the story.
I was impressed that she had it in her to do so.
A benign belly.
A urinalysis with a few WBCs.
A negative xray.
A script for more Zofran.
A long, cold drive home.

So here we are on Day #6 of this weird thing.
Only 3 of those six days included throwing up.
Three didn't, like the last two days which made me think that this was soon all behind us.
The doc said he didn't know what it was, shrugged his shoulders and chalked it up to a virus.
Didn't know what kind of virus though.
My girl has such a sensitive belly.
It doesn't take much to send her over the edge.
Big (little) brother has resumed his watch post.

You can see that they are two sardines in this little chair which he insisted that he crawl into with her as to be closer for a better view of her and Abby Cadabby on Sesame Street.

It is a chair made for one, yet Andrew didn't get that memo.

Beware of dog (um, big little brother!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Never Knew I Had A Watchdog?

Since when does Andrew care so much about his sister?
When did this happen?
Since she has been sick, he has been next to her constantly.
She felt better enough to sit at the island in our kitchen a put a puzzle together.
He insisted on doing something at the island, too.

So parallel play they did.
He didn't care what she was doing.
He just had to assume his role as "Watchdog" over her.

And yes, she is feeling better.
And another tooth came out this morning.
Yep, that's two teeth in two weeks!
With two more loose ones on top.
But yes, she is feeling better.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Big Little Brother, My Protector, My Hero

Oh wait, that's right.
Andrew is the little brother.
I"m thinking he didn't get the memo.
Regardless of the birthdays, he is truly very protective of his big sister.

Kaitlyn has been sick since Saturday night.
After a long day of visiting at Uma and Dzia's (Grandma and Grandpa) house, coupled with the variety of foods that I wouldn't feed her but my parents choose to do so, she has been in a funk.
Close to midnight on Saturday night into Sunday morning, she chose to impress me with her rendition of Linda Blair.
Quite dramatic.
Quite impressive.
I think it is safe to say that I had never seen vomit come from a human with such force in my life before.
Being a nurse, I see a lot of this gunk.
But from her....WOW!
And she didn't miss the toilet, either.
For that, I was thankful because that meant there was to be no toilet cleaning or floor scrubbing at midnight.
I went to work on Sunday, and husband said that she was doing better, drinking clear fluids and holding everything down.
Monday comes along and I chose to keep her home from school.
*NOTE: I HATE parents who send their kids to school when they truly shouldn't be there. Think about it! Would you want to be in school after puking your guts out? No.
So she stayed home on Monday and slowly progressed from clear liquids to full liquids to a soft diet.
No nausea.
No vomiting.
Tuesday morning, I hear the click of her door knob and glance at the clock: 6:12am.
I think to myself "Kate, it's too early to get up. Go back to bed".
Then the sound that pierced the silence of the house.
A gallon of puke splashing onto carpeting.
Cream colored carpeting, by the way.
Linda Blair had returned.
That episode was one of four that occurred that morning before 9:15am.
Now with complaints of "tummy pain".
A quick call to the pediatrician's office and we were in the car and in the lobby within one hour.
After a thorough exam to rule out an appendix issue, she was given Zofran ODT and a Pedialyte Popsicle.
If she could hold that down, they would send us home.
If she threw up again, we were not to pass go an collect $200.00 but rather go directly to the ER for fluids in the form of IV hydration.
Of course, like the tooth that doesn't' hurt in the dentist's office or the squeak that disappears when you go to the mechanic, she holds it down.
And we go home.
With what all we could think of is a virus.
That conveniently popped up after all the junk she ate on Saturday.
Only for her to continue to complain about "tummy pain".
And look green.
But in steps little brother.
AKA: the Protector.
He knows that something is askew. Awry. Asunder.
He sees that big sis is feeling pretty low and lets us know about it.
He cries at lunch with her.
He refuses to eat lunch and dinner since all she is dining on is popsicles.
They both napped for almost three hours this afternoon.
But when he got up, he immediately had to find her.
And sit by her.
All night.

Like this.

And this.

And this.
And Kaitlyn must have really enjoyed the extra attention paid to her by little brother because the picture below was the first time she laughed all day.

Like I have said in a post before, they have their own language.
And I think he knows that she needs him right now.
And today proved that he really needs her.
Get well soon, Kaitlyn.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday's Top Ten

#10. The sparkle in my children's. eyes when they see anything related to Santa.

#9. Kaitlyn choosing to do her best Linda Blair impression. Saturday night. At midnight. When I have a migraine not respondoing to Motrin. And I have to leave for work in 6 hours. And still find time to sleep somewhere. That didn't happen.

#8. At least her Linda Blair impression proved to me that she can aim for and hit the toilet and not miss. Thank you for not having to clean a bathroom floor of puke at midnight.

#7. Hearing Andrew yell "Seeta!" Every time he sees a man with a white beard in the grocery store.

#6. Moving up further on the waiting list for my blog makeover!

#5. Hearing my daughter sing the songs which she learned in school. Her latest obsession: the Bumble Bee song.

#4. Listening to my children have a screaming contest at the dinner table. What happened to "dinner music"?

#3. Asking Kaitlyn what she wants for Christmas. Her response: candy! Oh, she makes this so easy for me.

#2. Hearing Andrew approximate more and more words. He is such a parrot lately. (Note to self on that one!)

#1. Counting my blessings each and every day! Even though she is still sick with some stomach bug and chooses to puke on carpet rather than a toilet or bucket.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lost in Translation No Longer

I am so impressed with my daughter.
And my Father.
You see, he and Kaitlyn have such a special bond.
She is Dzia's girl.
For those of you who aren't Polish or know what that word was, it means "Grandpa" in the Polish dialect.
It is pronounced "jaj".
Dzia and Kaitlyn.
Kaitlyn and Dzia.
For the last 6 years, I have had to translate her "language" to him.
But he works hard at it.
And he is getting better.
And yesterday, when we went to his house to visit, I don't recall having to do translating.
If any, now that I think about it.
He is really in tuned to her.
And to what she has to say.
And she listens to him.
Hangs on every word.
If she talks too fast to him, he asks her to "slow down because Dzia is slow".
Then Kaitlyn will repeat it.
And he gets it.
He treats her like any other child out there.
He looks past the "issues".
Maybe he doesn't understand the complexity of apraxia.
Maybe he doesn't care about apraxia..
Not in a bad way, don't get me wrong.
He is so supportive of her and all her schooling and all her therapy.
But maybe he sees something that we don't.
Maybe he just sees Kaitlyn, and not Kaitlyn with special needs, speech delays, apraxia, sensory issues, and so on.
Kaitlyn and Dzia.
Dzia and Kaitlyn.
What a great team.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

If You're Happy and You Kow It......

do some exercises!
If you're happy and you know it,
let's warm up.
If you're happy and you know it,
and you're hands will surely show it.
If you're happy and you know it,
let's do some OT!!!!

Who woulda thought that Bear Crawls, Play-doh, and jumping would help my daughter with her writing skills?
Not I!
Who woulda thought that OT would play such an integral role in Kaitlyn's continued progress?
Not I!
Who woulda thought that simple, physical exercises are enough to bring my child to her center point and allow her to be successful?
Not I!

Well, if you have a child with OT issues as I do, you will be amazed to find out that simple physical exercises can indeed help.
For example, if Kaitlyn's homework requires her to draw horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines, we whip out the Play-doh.
If her homework requires her to stack blocks ten-high, we do some Bear Crawls.
If her homework requires her to string beads or complete a puzzle, we do some silly dancing and jumping.

I find that the Play-doh really, truly helps with her writing skills.
Finger warm-ups with the Play-doh like pinching, rolling, and poking prepare the fingers for the tedious and precise task of writing.
I can't explain how, but it works.
Click here for an illustration on finger warm-ups with Play-doh or putty.

Apraxia and OT issues like Sensory-Processing Integration go hand-in-hand.
Oh, I didn't mean that pun, but how appropriate was that?!
Evidence has shown that improvement in one area leads to improvement in the other area and vice versa.
Other examples of hand and finger exercises can be found here.

Happy writing!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Let It Snow!

I love winter.
We got our first taste of it this week in the Windy City.
It was supposed to be a bit substantial, but the weather dudes didn't get it right.

Oh well, there are four more months to get all the snow I want.
I love the snow, the chill (well, it's actually more like brutal cold in the great midwest of Chicago), and how everything is so white!
I love the sound of snow falling hard on a silent winter night.
Yes, if you are in an area where the city sounds are obsolete you can hear snow fall.
Try it this year sometime.
But what is so amazing about all that snow, the four months that it lingers around, melts, and comes back again is the snowflakes themselves.
Each one, different than the other.
Each one, unique.
Each one, from its own mold.
Special-needs kids are just like snowflakes.
Each one, different than the other.
Each one, unique.
Each one, from its own mold.
My two snowflakes are just that: different.
Kaitlyn is my dainty snowflake.
The light and airy one.
The one that floats gently.
Andrew is my huge snowflake.
The one that accumulates quickly.
The one that is rough around the edges.
Both come from the same origin, yet are so different.
Would I want them any other way, you ask?
Wouldn't change them for the world.
People ask me "Don't you wish they didn't need the speech therapy?" Or "Wouldn't it be easier for you if they could talk better?"
Although my first response to them would be "Don't you wish you could find another hair stylist?" Or "Don't I wish you would shut up and go away?", I don't say that.
But yes, I do think it in some devious way!
I wouldn't want them any other way.
I love being able to relish in their victories and successes when they master a new sound.
I love to be able to see their progress.
So many people take the basics for granted.
None of my friends could recall the first /s/ blend that their child mastered without cues!
None of my friends could recall the first look of surprise and joy when their child was able to make you understand what they were saying.
So no.
I don't want my snowflakes any different than the way they fell in October of 2003 and August of 2007.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Yep, it's that time of the year again,
and I am not just talking about the holidays.
It's IEP time.
Yep, that year really flew by fast, didn't it?

I received an email from one member of our IEP team who wanted to briefly get an idea of what my goals for Kaitlyn might be in this one specific area.
I know, that was wrong of this person to do.
But I thank them for it.
All IEP goals are to be determined and decided upon as a TEAM.
On the actual day of the IEP meeting.
However, you have got to be crazy if you think people walk into these meetings cold and unprepared.
I know I walk in prepared.
I have a list of items on my checklist.
I do some number crunching.
I have benchmarks.
I come equipped with my calculator.
So I find it quite reassuring that the team is already starting to get their ducks in a row.
Maye they have heard rumors of what my IEPs are like.
Like my last IEP meeting, maybe?
Or maybe it was this IEP Meeting?
I think this time will be different.
Different group.
Different attitudes.
Different perspectives.
Different plans.
Different outlooks.
Don't get me wrong, her preschool was good for her but a minority of her team members were for the right reasons.
Unfortunately, I believe that only her physical therapist, B.J., was there for the right reason.
The rest of them....forget it.
I don't need to get myself all worked up over the self-absorbed members of that previous team, the ones who thought that they were God's gift to me and my child.
They are part of our past.
And that is where they will stay.
In the past.
For now we are in a new chapter of our lives.
And this new chapter shows Kaitlyn progressing and thriving.

As strange as it sounds, I am really looking forward to this upcoming IEP Meeting.
Either I have been accustomed to this whole process, or we have finally come to the right place.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Little Brother

He gets mad when I call him that.
Had I known in July of 1977 that everything would come full circle, I wouldn't have believed it.
But in July 1977, my little brother was born.
He was always a tough and determined guy.
He had a febrile seizure when he was just two years old.
Little did I know in 1979 that I would go on to be a nurse.
He shot a BB gun pellet into his big toe and walked around on it for days until it got so infected and painful that he couldn't walk.
He didn't want Mom and Dad to get mad.
Little did I know that this was the kid that would empty out his savings account for me to use the funds (and I did pay him back...EVERY PENNY!) for me to go on to nursing school, when the school called me at 5:00pm and said that my number on the waiting list was up and I needed to be there with all that money the next morning.
The little brother who helped me move into my first apartment in the summer of 1997 on what had to be the hottest day of the year.
The guy that went on to Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois and majored in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology.
The guy who had a seizure in the middle of his college class in December 1997.
The day was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
The guy who was told his seizure was caused from a right temporal lobe brain tumor.
The guy whose parents were told to "take him back to Chicago and find a good surgeon".
The guy who had brain surgery on December 19th and was home four days later, right before Christmas.
The guy who inspired me to leave my current nursing job.
And apply on the same unit.
At the same hospital.
Where those talented doctors fixed my brother.
And those wonderful nurses took care of my brother.
Where I would be, to this day, on the Neuro Unit, at that hospital.
The guy whose first meal after surgery was "Shrimp Scampy".
The guy who was told by his surgeons to take a semester off of school.
The guy who went back to college less than one month after brain surgery.
Back to Augustana College.
To work on what he does now for a living: he's a Master's prepared SLP.
And he is good at what he does.
And he works with both of my kids in ways that they don't know he is actually doing "therapy".
And he was taught by the best.
This lady.
Kathy Jakielski.
I mean, Doctor Kathy Jakielski.
You can read about Dr. Kathy Jakielski by clicking here.
What an amazing gift I have in that little brother of mine.
I have a brother who has overcome plenty of obstacles.
Only to be there to help me with my daughter overcome all of her obstacles.
Since he has the talent to do so.
I think my little brother and I are going to take a road trip with Kaitlyn to the Quad Cities.
To Rock Island, Illinois.
To Augustana College.
To meet the doc.
Yes, everything comes full circle.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

If I Could Tell You, This Is What I Might Say......

...that I know you can get frustrated with me sometimes.
...that I enjoy going to school and being with my friends.
...that I like when you take me shopping and let me be the big girl in the store.
...that I can make decisions for myself sometimes.
...that my favorite color is blue.
...that I love you for loving me the way that you do.

The following was taken from the website.
It is quite emotional, but oh so true.
Click here to see what may be going on in your apraxic child's mind while they are in school today.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday's Top Ten

Well, here we are.
It is Tuesday again, and time for my "Top Ten".
If you want to play along, just copy/paste the above photo to your blog and type away your top ten things from the last 7 days.
They could be anything: funny, strange, something you did, whatever you want them to be.

Here goes:
#10. Getting through the holiday weekend on my own since my husband was home sick
and in bed from Wednesday through Friday evening.

#9. Finishing ALL of my Christmas decorating (inside and outside) in two days. Yes,
I am bordering on the Griswold's right about now.

#8. Having Kaitlyn go back to school on Monday. Boy, that was a L-O-N-G six days!

#7. Confusing my kids by putting on the holiday music and singing "Let It Snow, Let
It Snow, Let It Snow" as they looked curiously out the car window thinking that
their mother had finally lost it completely!

#6. Walking around the neighborhood as a family, all four of us, admiring the talent
of the neighbors and their drive to out-do the next one with holiday decor.

#5. Seeing the look of amazement in Andrew's eyes when he saw our Christmas tree all
lit up for the first time this year.

#4. Seeing Andrew proceed to walk up to said lit Christmas tree and attempt to
remove lights.

#3. Hearing Andrew say "Hi, Seeeta". Translation=Santa.

#2. Hearing Kaitlyn break out into song on her own, singing "Jingle Bells". What an
amazing rendition! No child can do it better than her! Love you, baby girl.

#1. Watching Kaitlyn walk up to a Manger scene on someones lawn, peek down at Baby
Jesus, and say out loud: "Baby Jesus!!! Oh, he is sooooooo cute!"
I think Baby Jesus understands, but something deep down inside of me was
searching for a rosary at that moment and thought that the Sign of the Cross and
a small, silent prayer would be sufficient.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Another Sign of an Insurance Battle Victory

Every year on New Year's Eve, I make a wish.
For my family to stay healthy.
For my family to stay safe.
And for my children to continue to make progress in the speech therapy programs in which they are involved.

This year, that last wish will come with a sigh of relief, thanks to the new law that was signed by Illinois Governor Quinn.

To read more, click here.

Merry Christmas (early) and Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Remember Our Apraxia Walk?

I found this memo on my Apraxia-Kids website.
Just wanted to share!

2009 Walk for Children with Apraxia of Speech, "Unlock our Voice, Open Our Future" a Great Success!
Thank you for your generous support of the 2009 walk-a-thon for children with apraxia of speech! Over 2,000 walkers helped to raise awareness about apraxia in 29 states and 3 countries. With your help, we raised over $225,000 to help the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA) continue to provide support, information, research, and education about this serious speech disorder. Your generous donations and support will help CASANA to continue to provide these valuable resources so that children with apraxia of speech can reach their full potential. The success of this year’s fundraising efforts will also allow CASANA to expand these programs in 2010.

Congratulations to the top fundraising site, Abbie’s Angels/Long Island Walk for Children with Apraxia which raised over $41,000 for CASANA’s programs and research! We will be working with the Walk Coordinator to schedule a free “Apraxia 101” workshop in their community for Spring 2010.

All of the feedback that we have received so far has been that adults and children alike had a great time at the walks and that people are already looking forward to the 2010 Walks. Despite cold and rainy weather at some of the locations (Long Island had a Nor’Easter blow though the day of their walk!), people came out in large numbers to walk in support of our children.

A special thanks to all of the walk coordinators and volunteers around the country. Walk coordinators included:

•Alaska Walk: Holly Hammer
•Baltimore Area Walk: Sarah Willey
•Chicago Area Walk: Michelle Brady Kowalski, Barbara Matt, and Holly Olmstead-Hickey
•Deposit, NY Walk: Rachel Tucker
•Fort Worth/Dallas, Texas Walk: Anne Devlin
•Iowa Walk: Stephanie Howard
•Long Island Walk (Abbie’s Angels): Jenn Forte
•Louisiana Walk: Georgina Davis and Tara Millet
•Minnesota Walk: Jessica Mevissen and Michelle Rutoski
•New Jersey Walk: Jacqueline Cohen
•Ohio Walk: Tiffany Bafford, assisted by Amy Clarke and Jennifer Tighe
•Pittsburgh Area Walk: Sue Freiburger
•San Francisco Area Walk: Monique Eurich and Monique Zammarron
•St. Louis Area Walk: Jennifer Weber
Additionally, we would like to recognize and thank our "Virtual Walkers" and their efforts! Thank you so much! Below are the top three "Virtual Walks"!

•Hillary Lunning
•Henry Lee
•Sandra Tanana
We hope to have even more national sites for next year's walk! Please contact CASANA Walk Coordinator Sue Freiburger at if you would like to help organize a walk, large or small, in your town or city in 2010.

Our little Chicago group itself raised $37,914.00!
Kaitlyn's Krew raised $365.00!

Thank you for your support!