Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Giveaway!!

My friend, Kristal, is having a fun giveaway over on her blog. All of you sweet people with little girls are going to want in on this one. Head on over to The Varela Voyage and enter your bad self.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Something Different

I know you guys are looking for updates on Max and how he is doing (which will come soon), but Erin and I got a laugh from some extended family that I think would become fast friends if they just lived closer. These people are crazy funny. And all 5 of us Gerlts gathered around the computer to watch this video post over a year after it was posted because I remembered it making me laugh and we have imitated it many times.

Here's the link. Either you will get it or you won't.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Well, this is a first.

Here's Max watching Little House on the Prairie. Holding his ears. It was TOO LOUD.
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Another fun video

Yesterday we had so much fun introducing Max to new sounds. We had a great time teaching him to respond to his name. He did a GREAT job and is trying so hard. We are so proud of him and his motivation to learn to hear.
Here is a video of one of the "games" we were playing. We had him turn away from us. One of us would say his name and he would turn when he heard our voice. Enjoy!

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Video, at long last.

My sweet husband worked all evening on a nicely edited video. It's great. I wish you could see it...but it is stranded on our laptop and we can't get it up onto our blog.

Since that won't work out I went ahead and just uploaded the unedited version. This video is almost 8 minutes long. Most of you probably will not want to watch the entire video and we completely understand. It will be most interesting, say, if you're one of Max's grandparents. But the best part of the video is in the first few minutes.

We have had a very fun day experimenting with Max's new hearing. He is loving being able to hear some things. He still cannot hear much. We go back in the morning to have it programmed again. The fear is that he would be completely overwhelmed by all the new noises around him so they generally take it very slowly. However, there is just no overwhelming Max Gerlt. I don't think it can be done. He has been asking for more, more, more sound all day and we will ask for that tomorrow.

So far he has enjoyed hearing our voices and hearing his Wii. He went to the restroom at Dr. Kopke's office and thought it was fascinating that the lid made a noise when you put it down and slammed it twice. He was "wow-ed" by the toilet flushing, as well.

When we ask if he can hear us he pauses and listens. When he hears the noise that we are making, his face lights up and he raises his hand like Kela told him to do in the office today. It's so funny.

Funny story. Chad and I just finished watching the Rush Hour movies with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. We thought they were great. Well, tonight as we cooked dinner, I decided to be all Chris Tucker and I leaned over to Max and said, "Do YOU understand the WORDS that are coming out of my mouth?" (in my best Chris Tucker voice). Max paused...and then his little hand went up in the air!! Chad and I thought it was hillarious.

All silliness aside though, we are SO thrilled with how things are going at this point. We know that we have a very large hill to climb and it will be tough but we are excited about what awaits us.

More video coming tomorrow. I'm going to bed.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Activation Day!

Well, it went beautifully! We got to the Cochlear Implant Clinic around 9:00 and they got started right away. Kelah Miller is our audiologist and she is amazing. She is also deaf and functions beautifully with her implant. She has been so helpful throughout this whole process.
Here is what our appointment consisted of today:

1.) She played a series of beeps for Max, each set was in a different pitch. She started the beeps very loud and then worked down to the lowest volume that Max could hear.
Initially, Max didn't respond much. After a few beeps he got a very thoughtful look on his face, like he was trying to figure out what that sensation was. After a little bit he said he felt something. He was instructed to raise his hand if he heard or felt anything. Soon he was raising that hand over and over! It was so exciting!

2.) Using the beeps at the lowest possible volume, she created a program for his processor. His processor holds 4 programs. That first was P1. From there she made
P2, P3 and P4. P2 was louder than P1 and P3 was louder than P2. She made P4 very quiet, though, in case he was feeling overwhelmed. Well, not much overwhelms Max and we are already at P3 (the loudest) at the loudest possible volume--and he is asking for MORE!

3.) When the programming was complete it was time to hear "real" sounds. He put on the processor and she turned it on. The first real sounds he heard were our voices. Of course, they don't really sound like our voices just yet--everything sounds sort of jumbly. But he heard us! Kelah gave him a box of instruments to play with. He hit sticks together, rang jingle bells and shook maracas. Each time he heard the noise just a split second after it began. It takes his brain just a little bit to process what's happening.

All in all we are THRILLED with how today went. We walked outside and he heard cars and trucks. He is dying to hear a fire truck or police siren. Our next door neighbor is a police officer. I think I'll go over this afternoon and ask if he would turn on his siren for Max. That would send Max over the moon!

Of course, I have all of this on video. I will spare you the 20+ minutes of footage and edit it to include only the good parts. And since I'm no computer genius it may be this evening before I get it up. But I know lots of you have been praying for us and wondering what our day has been like! I wanted to give a quick report before I did the videos.

Thank you ALL for your love and your prayers. We are so blessed to have you walking through this with us! We are so grateful.

One more thing. If you are just joining us in the process and want to learn more about Max's cochlear implant you can read about it in several previous posts. Click on the links of your choice to read more about:

Making the decision to get an implant
Our first appointment
Surgery Day, part 1
Surgery Day, part 2
Surgery Day, part 3
Surgery Day, part 4
Max's scar and surgery details

All of these will tell you how we got to this point.

I'll be posting videos as soon as I get them up and running!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Big Day

Well, today's the BIG DAY. September 18th has finally arrived. Our appointment at the Cochlear Implant Clinic is at 9:00am. We'll have our beloved Flip with us and will hopefully catch Max's first few moments of "hearing" on video.

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Red Hill

We visited Red Hill yesterday, the home of our dear friends, Larry and Rita. It was wonderful! They moved into the house just two weeks ago. Prior to that they lived in their travel trailer behind the house for 4 months while they remodeled. They took down walls and pulled up floors, scraped the popcorn ceilings and retextured. They moved closets and cabinets and just worked hard. Hard. It is just beautiful and oh, so cozy. A perfect spot for big people to sit and visit and little people to play. We instantly felt at home.

There was coffee, of course, and homemade cookies. There was a play house, big boxes to crawl through and a closet full of toys and cuddly quilts. There were perfect little details everywhere and they all worked together beautifully. Have a look...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Where are our kids?

Max, Anna Kate and Jake are on vacation. They are having the time of their life at Momma D and Papa's house.

Mom and Dad offered to keep them for a few days while I try to get some things done here at home. What a gift! Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Last night we got pictures in our inbox showing what a fun time they are having. They have fished and fished and fished. Evidently, Max is quite the fisherman! He caught 12-15 fish yesterday and had the biggest catch of the day! What a guy. Sweet Anna Kate caught 2 but just didn't want to stay with it as long as Max. They helped Papa clean all of the fish and had a fish fry for dinner. They got to see the entire process of their food coming from water to table, which is rare these days, and loved every minute of it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Recipe for Fun

On Saturday we got together with our friends, the Varela's, and did some cookin'. Kristal and I wanted to get a few meals in the freezer, as well as provide some meals for a family that we know.

Our day started early. I mean early . We had planned for them to be here at 9:00am. I got an email from Kristal at 6:00 and she had already been up half an hour. Her son, Ari, was so excited about our day that he just couldn't stay asleep. Her Noah woke up soon after that. Anna Kate, who will sleep until 10:30 or 11:00 if I let her, woke up at 6:45ish and Jake followed suit. At 7:30 I called Kristal and told her to just come on over.

Here's our recipe for fun:

You'll need some friends...

And a bunch of pots and pans...

Lots of grapes to snack on...
A sweet little girl to fold all your clean dish towels and napkins...
And a couple of large diet cokes to keep the Mommas going...
You'll also need several hours. Mix all of this together and you will end up with a great day and a freezer full of goodness. We came away with 3 chicken spaghetti, 3 chicken and wild rice casseroles, 3 creamy taco dips, 3 bags full of chocolate chip cookie dough balls, and 3 bags of homemade chicken nuggets! And with a friend by your side, it hardly even feels like work! Thanks, Kristal!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

First Day of School

Our first day of school was Monday and it went well! The kids were so excited and so ready to start things up. I was, too, aside from all the nervous feelings. I'm always so nervous before we start. I'm so excited about all that we are learning this year! We'll be posting pictures of our projects soon.
All is going smoothly. Jake is the biggest challenge because he's very hard to keep busy. He wants to be right in the middle of the action--like ON the kitchen table. When my parents were here for Max's surgery we worked hard getting activities together for Jake to do. I have a big tub full of ziploc bags of activities for him to work on. It's WORKING so far! He loves having something new to play with while we do school work. In this picture he is putting his pretend money in a Pringles can that my Dad painted. He cut a slit in the top and Jake has a ball putting in all his spare change.
I realize that we are only a few days in and we will probably be feeling differently in a few weeks. The newness will wear off and it will be hard to make ourselves to what we need to do each day. For now, I'm just enjoying it all...from the newly sharpened pencils to the kids' enthusiasm for each new subject.