Tuesday, March 31, 2015

W Ross Education Consultaion

Today Matt and I took Hanna to the CNIB office to have a meeting with Lanna, a specialty teacher from W Ross School for the Blind. Last year we met with her, and she had some pretty interesting things to say and it was very helpful to me, giving me teaching technique ideas for home. When we had the opportunity to meet her again, I jumped at it.
Today, it was very informative as well. 
Hanna's braille teacher, Maryse, has been working with her for some time now, and we have a morning routine that we've gotten pretty comfortable with, going with all of the instruction from Maryse. 
Turns out though, Maryse has been going about it the wrong way. She usually works with adults, and older kids, and so her teaching methods are different. She's been teaching it in a way that includes print. So, for example, her spelling words are printed onto a sheet of paper nice and big, and then we braille over the words so Hanna has exposure to both at the same time. I would assume that this is the best way to go about it too. Maryse is also blind, so she obviously was trying to teach Hanna the best way she thought to teach it.
Turns out, teaching it that way is going to slow her down because instead of learning the shapes of the braille letters, she's memorizing the number dots and counting the dots and placement of dots of each letter. Sounds pretty time-consuming. 
Totally makes sense to me now, and we will be changing our routine now to teach braille in a totally new way. I have to do everything I can to not let her look at the braille letters/words. We will work on print letters and words in the mornings, and then when she gets visually fatigued, we will move onto the braille lesson so she wont want to use her vision.

We also learned today that large print (size 20-24 font) is too small for her. At that size, she has to bring her face so close to the paper (her nose literally touches it) to even make it out, so reading comfortably, for any length of time, likely wont happen. Any documents, or stories will definitely be in braille for her.

I may be able to borrow equipment or textbooks from the company who supplies W Ross, which is so great to know as well! 
Lanna was impressed with Hanna's printing, and her braille writing. Her concept development isn't a question anymore, and now we're full-fledged literacy bound! It's an exciting time! Hanna has her work cut out for her, but we all know she will do great! She always does.

Friday, March 27, 2015


Hanna loves her piano lessons. She looks forward to it all week long, and she's really doing great! She has a great ear for it, and even tries to learn songs on her own. 
She came home from working with my mom one day and couldn't wait to show us that they turned "Twinkle Twinkle" into "The Alphabet Song". 
I asked her to play it for me again so I could take video and show all of my friends, and she said "I'm too shy for that!" 
But, I talked her into it. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

at the zoo

My girlfriend, Crystal and her husband Jim surprised Matt and I with a full year family membership to one of the local zoos. 
It was such a nice surprise, and I'm still trying to figure out what makes us so special to get such a nice gift! 
It was so greatly appreciated though, and we will make great use of it this year. 
We decided to go with them for our first time in years, and it was a perfect day for it. 
It was about 45 degrees and the sun was shining. This meant the animals were active too! 
 First thing we did was hit up the butterfly sanctuary. It was nice and warm in there while we waited for the sun. :)

 Everyone loved the underwater exhibit. We got to watch the seals swim over us. The polar bear was hanging out in the sun, so we missed him swimming around.

 Hanna loved the giraffes. She got a nice good look at them. Probably the only animal she really saw all day. 
They were active and there was even a baby.
 Gracie and Makayla.
 Juice boxes are such a treat!
 The giant wagon really came in handy. We could fit four kids in it at a time, or haul around coats and bags if the kids wanted to walk. It worked out well.
 Hailey was "tying Makayla's shoe".
 These three walked around hand-in-hand all day. So darn cute.
 Ben didn't quite make it to see the penguins or the reptiles. 

We had a great day. The last time we were at a zoo was when Hanna first started to be seen at SickKids, and we needed a distraction. Gracie was the only one who even remembered it, so this was a perfect day. Especially because there was absolutely no other reason to go, than just wanting to.  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

potty training #4

I've been putting off potty training my Benny. 
He's my baby. My last one. 
(Unless the big man upstairs has other plans) 
But it's hard. No more diapers...
We're officially on our way out of the "baby stage". 
It's kind of a sad day...
But at the same time, exciting!
We're now on day 2. He's had no accidents today, and he's doing great! 
By the time his birthday comes in May, he'll be a pro. 
He looks pretty cute in his little briefs, and I know he's much more comfortable.
Gracie's quite the helper too. 
  He's such a big boy now. :(

Monday, March 9, 2015

goodnight kisses

Probably my favourite thing that little Benny does is the very last thing of the day. 
He comes into the girls' room so we can all read a story, and then helps me tuck everyone in. 
He starts on the bottom with Hanna and Hailey by climbing right on top of them and giving a huge, right-on-the-lips smooch. 
He leaves Gracie for last because she's the most work. This is my favourite part. 
I made sure I had the camera handy this time, to capture it. 
This one's a keeper.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


There's a lot of exciting things happening right now. 
To start off, Hanna is starting to read. 
I've been struggling with her in school. She's a smart little thing, but her attention is horrible. Unless, I find things that are completely interesting and fun, she gives me a hard time. This is like most kids her age, so I'm not surprised. It just makes things a bit harder not knowing what the kid can see! She may not be enjoying something because she's working to hard to see it. It's frustrating.  
I thought of everything under the sun to help her with phonics. She didn't enjoy anything I did! Then I saw a nice sale on Hooked on Phonics. What the heck. I'm willing to try anything.
First, know that I am in no way writing a review or adding affiliate links to this post. This is purely my own experience with the program. 
It. Is. Awesome. 
I bought the kit that starts at preschool and goes up to grade 2. 
Gracie has been using the grade 2 kit and Hanna has been using the kindergarten. We've only done one lesson, and she's reading every "at" word thrown at her. 
She loves watching the DVD and it's so vision-friendly for her. 
The work book is a little small for her to read, so I'll have to start magnifying it for her. The huge deal though is that she loves it! 
She asks to do "Hooked on phonics. Learn to read!" every morning. That alone, makes it worth every penny. 
Half the struggle is finding something that will work for her. Seeing results is the rest, and we're even seeing results. 
I'm thrilled beyond words. 


Spring is just around the corner. 
We're  looking forward to spring this year. I'm especially excited because I've found a new hobby. Beekeeping! 
My hives are on the way as I type this, and I'm pumped. The kids will definitely be involved, and I'm looking forward to it being educational for all of us along with gardening, since the two work together. I have some great things planned. Also, who can resist a bunch of adorable kids selling honey at the road? I'm seeing dollar signs for the kiddos. ;)
We also have some small renovation plans for the house, and we're trying to figure out long term plans for the other house. The tenants in there now gave us a scare, but we're figuring it out, and we're going to propose something to them that may or may not work out. We'll see.
We'd love to just sell the place, and carry on with the plans we have for our forever home. We have some big plans. Big dreams. Not sure they will ever happen, but selling that darn house will be a start!
Spring also means that soon it will be time to clean out the animal enclosure and let them free to run around! We've had such a cold winter. We had to bring in bales of straw just to block the wind and make sure they survived the season. It got to the point that I was moving around frozen solid bales of straw and hay. I can't even estimate how much they weighed, but it was horrible. Matt has taken over animal duty until the spring because it got so hard for me. The season isn't over yet, but we're starting to get a few days that are only a couple degrees below freezing, as opposed to a few nights of a windchill of almost -40 with average temp of -12 degrees celcius (about 10 degrees F) in February. It's a nice break from worrying that they wont survive the night.
We've had pipes burst under the house as a result of the bitter cold as well. It's been quite the winter ride! 
We're enjoying it though, and will appreciate the warmer temps when they start to stick around! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

ocular update

So, even before going to the optometrist, we decided to cancel Hanna's EUA at SickKids. 
She (receptionist)  didn't even make me question our decision, and instead told us to call them when we're ready for it. 
You know what? I was so thrilled that we didn't have to bother Hanna with appointments and travel to SickKids this year. It's an entire year free until next May when we go for her cardiology check up and ECHO. 
I was so happy to cancel this EUA. It's just not necessary right now. 

Gracie and Hanna were both due for their eye checkup, and Matt was able to come this time because my mom offered to watch the two youngest. I was happy to have him come for once. 
Gracie did well. She's a little farsighted, which is normal for kids, but she's a little more than average. We'll cross that road when it's necessary. Right now it's not. 

Hanna did awesome. He got a great look into both eyes. Her "good" eye is the right one. If you remember, they basically wrote off her left eye. He got the best look in the left eye this time and said everything looks the same. Great news.
The right eye he said doesn't even have the same "stalks" in it as the left. These stalks are what makes the retinal detachment risk so great, so if they're not even as big of a concern in her good eye, that is awesome news!! 
He was going to try his retina cam this time, but the machine was down. Darnit! 
Next time we'll do it and hopefully get some good images. 

He did tell us that he would continue to put off the EUA as well, if it was his decision. He's keeping an eye on her and can see that nothing is a concern right now. If something changes, then he will get us rushed into SickKids to see what can be done. It's the best route to take. He takes great care of Hanna, and I trust that nothing more is necessary at this point.