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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Verbal language ...

Verbal language ... it’s a lovely thing.

After using sign language almost exclusively for the first year and a half of Sunshine’s life with us, it is absolutely amazing to see such progress in her verbal communication now. Her cleft palate was repaired just about a year ago, and her verbal explosion since then is nothing short of miraculous! She started weekly speech therapy sessions in November 2012, about four months after her palate repair. The first session was pretty traumatic for her, but Sunshine quickly learned that Lisa, her speech therapist, wasn’t going anywhere. She also came to find out that Lisa was super fun to play with and therapy sessions were actually pretty great. What toddler doesn’t love 100% undivided attention from an adult anyway?

Progress was a little slow in the beginning as Sunshine learned how to use her newly repaired palate, but she was such a hard worker and always pushed through. She tried over and over and over to get the sounds out of her mouth correctly. It was so beautiful to see her never give up or get discouraged. Ever so slowly, we began to hear more sounds that resembled words! We also began to hear more verbal words replace her signs. It was wonderful!

One of the biggest hurdles Sunshine had to overcome was replacing her glottal stop with the correct sounds for “k” and “g.” This is still an issue for her even now, but it’s a very common compensation that cleft kiddos do. Before the palate is repaired, kids will sometimes create sounds by stopping air at the back of their throats due to the lack of palate. Unfortunately it’s a bad habit to get into because it can be difficult to undo later. Sunshine can now successfully make the correct “k” and “g” sounds, but she’ll add in a glottal stop at the end of words sometimes, so we’re still working on that. Regardless though, hearing her properly pronounce those two difficult sounds is music to my ears! There are other sounds that are difficult for all children to create correctly, so we aren’t worrying about those so much right now (r, l, f, s, and blends).

Another thing we’ve been working on is putting words together to make sentences, as with any other on-target toddler. We started with one-word sentences, and then moved onto two-word sentences. We are now in the process of moving Sunshine from two- and three-word sentences into more complete sentences. She is pretty comfortable at this level and not in a big rush to move forward, but will happily repeat a full sentence if I ask her to say it. And she’ll occasionally pull out a several word sentence to surprise all of us!

Articulation is currently Sunshine’s biggest issue. She talks a lot. A ton. In fact, she doesn’t stop talking all day long. She has loads and loads of things to tell us. But we can’t understand most of it unless it’s in context. This must be terribly frustrating for her. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have so many awesome things to say and finally be able to say them, only to have no one understand me. But she doesn’t give up right away. She says it over and over for me, and will sometimes revert to a sign to express herself. Other times, she’ll let out a big sigh after trying for awhile and say, “nevahmind.” Oh that precious girl! It hurts my heart to see her give up on me, but more and more I am able to understand. We just keep on keepin’ on, and I know articulation will simply come in time.

Lastly, we are also encouraging her to express herself verbally to people other than family members. She is generally a shy child in public (which is pretty ironic, considering her true personality doesn’t have an ounce of shyness in it), so this is going to be difficult in general for her. She shows some progress when talking to other children or adult friends that she sees regularly. I think this is another thing that will simply take time, and I’m perfectly fine with that. Although it’s a long process, I am so proud of how much she has accomplished! In a very short time, she has gone from being completely sign-dependent to almost 100% verbally communicating. Sunshine still has quite a long road ahead of her, but I triumphantly celebrate every new accomplishment with her!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Superheros at camp!

Angel joined a crew of day campers at a local Christian camp yesterday.  There were a good number of friends and adult volunteers from our church, which made for a very fun day!  The idea of the day camp is to get the kids familiar with camp in general, so sleep-away camp isn't so overwhelming when the time comes.  I volunteered with the day camp crew, there were 19 kids in the group!  I tried my best to not show faces of kids I don't know, but that's pretty difficult.  So please excuse some of the cheesy blurring, I wanted to be respectful of privacy.

Camp was a superhero theme this year, and the day campers made their own costumes!
Yay Fork superheros!
Teaching time in the chapel.
Learning about the Bible superhero, Daniel. 

The camp counselors performed funny skits for the kids. 
The girls enjoying their Canteen treats after a couple hours of swimming.
Four-way dodgeball.  Super fun and super hot.
Miss M. blindfolded for a fun game.
Miss Lynnette teaching the day campers.
Three favorite girls at dinner, exhausted after a long day of camp.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Smelling the roses

Smelling the roses, so to speak, is something I need to be reminded to do.  It's easy to get caught up in the stuff of life, so many beautiful joys just pass right by!  This morning, in the midst of trying to get out the door for a full morning of said "life," my little Sunshine grabbed a book and sat on the sofa to read.  The funny thing is this book is The Horse in Harry's Room, my absolute favorite book from my childhood.  There is nothing special about it and we have many books that are far more pretty.  But it's the one that was read to me as a child; and this morning, it was Sunshine's book of choice.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Enjoying the outdoors

If you've followed my blog for any length of time or know me personally, you know that I am not an "outdoors" girl.  But I am trying to enable the outdoor side within me, for the kids' sake.  And as long as we get outside first thing in the morning before the sun is very high in the sky and before the humidity is 200%, well it's not that bad :)

Yes, that's right.  Shot with the iPhone again.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Writing their story

I love these kids to pieces.  After spending all morning outside in unusually cool June weather, they came inside and got busy "writing a story," illustrations included.  I'm not sure what I adore more ... the fact that they are using their imaginations and writing, or that they play together so well (almost) all the time.  Sunshine was also just out of the frame camera right, reading "Harold and the Purple Crayon."  Oh, the kids and their love for books!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Another precious year!

I have been blessed beyond measure to be this precious girl's mama over the past eight years.  Watching her grow into a young lady is truly remarkable.  She is loving, compassionate, patient, gentle, and she loves Jesus.  I am excited to see the Father's plans unfold for this little one.  Happy 8th Birthday sweet, sweet girl.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Gotcha! Two Years Later.

Words don't really do the special anniversary justice, so I'll keep it simple.  Happy 2nd Gotcha Day to our sweet baby girl!  So much has happened in such a short amount of time.  Sunshine is a true light in our family and we have learned more about His love because of her.  We are so blessed to call her daughter and I thank God that she is mine.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Her Barefoot Book Nook!

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post.

Girlfriend loves her books!  She has especially taken a liking to her new Barefoot Book Nook in her bedroom, how sweet!  I am just thrilled with the quality of these books, and I continue to be so impressed with every new book we read!  The board books, specifically, are so sturdy, thick, and strong.  If they can hold up to my sweet Sunshine, then I am pretty sure they can withstand just about anything!

The books pictured are as follows:

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

True greatness

"True greatness is a passionate love for God that demonstrates itself in an unquenchable love and concern for others."
-Dr. Tim Kimmel

Shot with the trusty iPhone

Sunday, June 2, 2013

He's back

And all is right in my little world again.  It's just not the same in the house when your husband is on a short-term mission trip.  Two weeks on opposite sides of the world with very limited communication is tough.  But also quite beautiful.  I am absolutely amazed at how He has worked through this experience in so many more ways than I thought possible.  Too many ways to recount.  The snowball effect from this one short trip is overwhelming to watch unfold!  And I know He's not finished either.