Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day Pre-K

Today Emma started Pre-K.  Her classroom is not technically calling it Pre-K but that is what we are calling it since it's the year before she starts Kindergarten.  Unless we keep her back an extra year (we are strongly leaning in that direction!) to get her more ready for Kinder.  Then I guess this is pre-Pre-K ;-)

Today Emma headed back to the same classroom as she was in last year with the same teachers, same aide, and probably many of the same students.  It's not as big a change as you might imagine by the paper announcement she is holding in her photo.  But to Julia the fact that Emma is going into Pre-K is a HUGE deal and she is so proud of her sister - as are we - so we needed to make the day a bit special and mark the occasion with a new lunch box, a sign announcing the day and by wearing her princess necklace to school.

With a lunch box this cute how could we resist?  Not to mention that Emma hugged it in her arms all around the store to show us just how much she wanted that owl lunch tote!  I'm over the moon when she shows such a strong preference for anything when we are shopping.

I wanted to get some great photos of her outside the house with her sign and her sister but just as we were getting ready to go out the door it decided to rain buckets!  In all honestly I was a bit sad about the rainy first day of Pre-k and my missed photos.  Although I should have expected the rain since most things with raising Emma rarely, if ever, turn out as I planned.  And when the sun came out later this morning and Julia and I were complaining how sunny and hot it was when we picked her up from school I realized that today really was a day very similar to our journey of raising our little girl.  A brief storm in the morning followed by many hours of warmth, sunshine and smiles.  I really feel honored that God decided to bless us with our own little Emma sunshine!

It doesn't really feel like school yet - it feels more like she just finished up her pre-school year.  Oh, wait!  She did just finish her first year in this new school only 2.5 weeks ago since she attended summer "camp" for 5 weeks this summer.  Emma's school operates on a rolling year round schedule.  That means she has the same amount of school days/year but they are stretched out over a 12 month period instead of 9 months.  I was skeptical of this schedule at first but now that we lived it for a year I think it's genius!

Here is my big girl once we arrived at school - fashionably late, of course!, due to the horrendous traffic from the storm.  I think I like having the photo at school better than in our driveway after all.  It's a shame I didn't bring my camera and only had my phone to take the picture.  Still, I just love this shot!

Since our life is never cut and dry we have her IEP scheduled for tomorrow morning and we may change her schedule from the morning to the afternoon class.  Or even to an entirely different school.  Our life is ever changing and we are open to enjoying the ride.

Since I didn't have a blog post about Emma's end of year program I might as well talk a bit about it here.  We were invited to an ice cream social to end the year but it was actually a bit of a "graduation" ceremony.  I wasn't really expecting the songs, the certificates, the crowns or the lovely slideshow.  I was just expecting some ice cream and was excited to see that it was a lovely ceremony her teacher pulled together!  There was an ice cream bar with lots and lots of topping options which made all the little ones happy and all the children were wearing t-shirts with the handprints of the children in their class.  It was so cute!  The ceremony also gave the Moms a moment to chat since we on't really get to see each other too often.  It was really quite fun for everyone!

Here is a photo of Emma with her teacher last year - who is also her teacher this year.  We just love Miss Anna!

And here is a photo of Emma with her classmates.  As I mentioned before we weren't really aware of the ceremony planned so some of her friends were on family vacations and not at school that week so it looks like she only had boys but in actuality there were two little girls she loved to play with that weren't there for the ceremony.  Does everyone else think she looks like such a big girl in this photo?  I can't get over how quickly she is growing!

Here is Emma getting her certificate and crown.  She kept knocking the crown off her head and it was quite funny!  She's a bit of a clown that way and was doing it all for show though you wouldn't know it from her facial expression in this photo I managed to snap.

We are so lucky that Emma is at this school.  The way Emma has changed and grown over this last year is nothing short of awe-inspriring and much of that growth and change can be attributed to the stellar team that supports her at school day in and day out.  I'm so glad we moved to make this year's experience possible.  I can only dream of what is in store for Emma this year and I'm excited about the possibilities.  Bring it on Pre-K!!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Proud Supporter of Obama 2012

It's no secret that I'm an active Obama 2012 supporter.  I voted for him in 2008 and think he had a hard road and overall took our country in the right direction.  I specifically am pleased with some of the reforms he made - such as the financial reforms, the changes in health care (ok...it's not perfect but a good starting point!), and his fight for equal pay for women.  There are some things I'm not so pleased with, too, but I think that would be the case regardless of our president since I can't be pleased all the time.  Just ask my husband ;-)  Just Joking!

Unfortunately we didn't get to see approved legislation on equal pay for women but I am still hopeful it will come.  I am worried, too, about what a Republican president would mean for women's rights here in the USA.  Case in point Todd Akin and Paul Ryan's stance on rape and conception.  How can this play out in real life?  Here is an eye-opening well written article on CNN from a survior's point of view.    

Now, for some fun with the political process I leave you with this video.  Mom and Dad - you'll get a real kick out of it so be sure to watch!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Best Sister Ever

Julia decided to take some videos with my phone today.  We were at Emma's horseback riding program and Emma was sitting up amazingly well on the horse - actually it was the best I have ever seen her sit up!  So we took some video.

Afterwards Julia took my phone and made this video.  I wasn't aware of what she was doing since I was working on buckling in Emma's legs - which could be considered an Olympic sport - and only caught bits and pieces of it so when I watched the video it touched me deeply.  I'm so glad my girls have each other.  What wonderful sisters they are, indeed!

(Note:  Once the video stopped I fixed Emma's shirt.  We are not encouraging showing off her belly!)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Less than exciting post on insurance

Since this post is on a dreadfully boring topic I figured it was best to lead with a cute photo.  Emma sure does love acting like a beach bum!  With all the hard work she puts in all year she sure does deserve her fun in the sun.

Vacation is over and it's back to reality.  I've been spending a lot of time this week following up on medical stuff - trying to find out when we will get Emma's talker and if/when I'll be able to get an aide at home a few hours a week to help with Emma so I can work at the position I accepted.

Following up on insurance, therapy and school stuff for Emma is a pretty normal daily activity for me.  It's not a particular task that I enjoy but I learned early on that if you don't call and follow-up on items constantly then someone usually drops the ball.  You would think that something is getting processed only to find out a couple of months later that, no, they have no record of {xyz}.  During my calls I found out the insurance company has no record of a request for a home aide so I've added calling the pediatrician to find out the status of the letter of medical necessity to my list of calls.  I also found out Prentke Romich (PRC) - the company that makes the talker we are ordering - did not receive the approval letter {that we received over a week ago} from Emma's insurance company so I'll get them a copy of it.  And then I'll call them again to make sure they received the fax of our approval letter and find out where they are with sending out for approval from her secondary insurance since her secondary told me they have no record of a talker request.  It's sort of like a never ending do loop with insurance.  I'm so incredibly thankful we have insurance, though, that I'll take the extra work required to push things through.  I just can't help but thinking that they sure do create a lot of extra work!

Emma has been moving around a bit more.  Rolling here and there, working on crawling and generally being active and making it hard to keep her Cochlear Implants on her head!  Hooray for that!  The downside is that she is going through some excess parts just as the warranty on the CIs is getting close to expiration.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed she gets most of it out of her system before December when the warranty is up because new parts will have to go through insurance (ugh!) after the warranty period.  This week she (we?) managed to lose her ear hook and ear mold during a walk.  I'm so thankful that the CI stayed on her head, though, as that is the big dollar item!  We stopped at her hospital today to see if they could take some ear impressions for new ear molds and they fit her in.  I really love her hospital!  They always treat us like VIPs and fit Emma in even when we have no appointment and they are super busy.  We are so thankful to work with such a flexible team that really goes above and beyond to ensure Emma's needs are met.

In other shocking news, I made a couple of appointments for myself this week!  I need to follow-up on my fractured ankle and have a long overdue eye exam so I can get new contacts.  My eyes will be thrilled when I come up with a brand new pair of contact lenses after wearing these old ones way longer than suggested.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Quotes of the Week

Chris decided we should add a feature to our blog of "quotes of the week."  So here goes:

  • Look at you, you have chicken in your eye.  
  • How did I manage to burn and undercook rice?
  • If I could be anything I would be a beer and a nutty buddy.
  • Eat..All done..all done...all done...Milk.  (Emma telling me off with her talker when I kept trying to feed her instead of giving her the beloved milk!)
  • Woof.
We'll see if this makes it to a regular feature....for now I'm keeping the hubby happy ;-)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Talker update and Vacation Preview

We just arrived home from vacation.  It was fabulous!  Great to get away, relax, spend more time together as a family.  I LOVE vacation.

This year we went to spend time with an old friend of mine.  It was really wonderful to reconnect with her and meet her family and have her meet mine.  We found out that while our lives have changed - we added husbands, children and dogs to our lives - we pretty much are still the same people we were when we last saw each other something like 15 years ago.  Which is both Wild and Wonderful.   And it makes me wish we didn't live 6.5 hours apart so we could get together more often - if you're reading this Caroline, pick a date real soon to come down and visit us!  You know you have a really good friend when so many years can go by and then when you get together you just pick up where you left off like no time at all went by.  The fact that families got along great, too, made our reunion even sweeter.

I'll write a bit more about our fabulous vacation soon but I did want to update on something we found out before vacation.  Emma's primary insurance came through and pre-approved her eye gaze talker and mount.  All $17,000 of it!  When I got the letter I was on cloud 9 and jumped around grinning from ear to ear.  I cried some happy tears, too, because I just was not up for another battle with the insurance company to fund Emma's equipment.  They are long, exhausting battles and I usually get a few scars from each one.  I'm so thankful that I have one less battle right now because we are updating Emma's IEP and any parent that goes through IEPs for a child with similar needs as Emma knows that takes all your energy...and then some.  It also came at a time where I was having it all out with God on how come He couldn't just let one thing come easy to my Emma.  So maybe He threw us a bone.  And reminded me that He has our back.  And now I'm hoping that my writing about this good news here doesn't jinx us.  Fingers crossed we see her new talker in the next week or two!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


{Not so} Breaking News:  Emma's insurance situation is straightened out.

  • Here's what happened:  Each month a computer system is run in all the states to ensure people aren't double-dipping on Medicaid services.  Something happened that Emma came up positive in our old state and so our new state didn't want to provide duplicate services and ended Emma's coverage.  That is what happened in April and again in July.  I didn't know the cause in April so couldn't get it rectified so it happened again in July.  I now know the cause and contacted our old state to have them update their records with our new address.  The only way I found out about this was getting my local Representative's office involved.  They helped tremendously - and I'm telling everyone I know about it so they can use this information when they vote.  Fingers crossed this doesn't happen again next quarter!!!!
I also started on the contract job I mentioned.  It feels good to do a bit of work again.  I didn't realize how much Microsoft Office programs would be updated over the last 3 years so it took me a bit of time to re-familiarize myself with the programs but I'm happy to report that it all came back to me pretty quickly.  Sort of like riding a bike........strange how that happens!

We continue to make progress on Emma's next IEP.  The most actionable was that the girls and I toured the reverse mainstream program.  It was great to see it in action to really help think through the best placement for Emma next year.  I might have driven Chris a bit crazy talking through all the school placement options, but I think we finally have an idea on what is the best placement for her.  I'll update it all after her next IEP meeting that is scheduled for the end of the month.

Meanwhile, we've been soaking up lots of summer fun!  Here are a few photos to show what else we've been up to.