Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday's Wacky Words - Creating Her Own Words

On our way home from a Praise Team meeting at my church last Thursday night, Brielle asked me a question.

"What does 'leg' (she tapped her leg with an "L" to sign 'leg') and 'end' (she swiped one hand in a fist across the other to sign 'end') mean?"

My mind raced. Leg. End. What could she mean? Her toes? A pirate's stumpy leg?

I asked her how she knew that word. She told me something about the title of an episode of "Scooby Doo".

Then it hit me.

Leg-end = legend.

I couldn't help but to chuckle at her creative way to ask about a word she didn't know the sign for. She laughed along with me, not really knowing why we were laughing.

I explained that it meant an "old story" and then looked up the sign for "legend' in our sign language dictionary when we got home.

This isn't the first time she had been creative in her communication. But, this was one that really tickled my funny bone.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday's Tiny Triumphs - Mail Time!

We've been working on a new skill - retrieving the mail. It might not sound like much, but for Brielle, it's a stretch.

After navigating our three steps off the front porch, she has to walk up our sloping driveway. Then, after opening the mailbox and retrieving the mail....

..she has to shift the mail into her right hand to leave the left hand free to close the mailbox.

But, oh the pride in successfully retrieving the mail for us! Then it's back down the sloping driveway and up the front steps again -- all while carrying the mail.

She's also started to take mail to the mailbox! Down the steps, up the sloping driveway, shift mail to right hand while opening the mailbox...

..close the box and up goes the flag!

Now when the mail carrier drives off, she is so excited she can hardly wait to get on her shoes and go out to retrieve our mail.

Now if only she could pay those pesky bills that arrive in the daily mail, too! :)

(PS These pictures were taken BEFORE she broke her toe a couple of days ago.....)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday's Making a Difference - A Good Chair

Brielle's Wheelchair
Today's Making a Difference isn't a "who", it's a "what"...

When Brielle was about a year old, her therapists advised us to start working with our insurance company to get Brielle fitted for a wheelchair because she would probably never walk. She defied the odds (or at least the predictions) and began walking with a walker before her third birthday and was walking on her own in just a few months.

However, as she grew, she could no longer fit in traditional infant/child strollers. When she was about five years old, we upgraded to a medical stroller/wheelchair. Although we only use it for times/events with lots of walking, it's been a lifesaver on many occasions.

And boy, has that chair traveled around!

Sea World in San Antonio, TX

Little friends can ride a long!

We used to always take it to the mall.
When Brielle was little enough, my purse could sit beside her!

At a celebrity golf tournament in Austin, TX
Look at all we can hang off the back of the chair!

With a family friend at the Toledo Zoo in Ohio

At the Atlanta Zoo in Georgia
Spring 2008
At the Atlanta Aquarium in Georgia
June 2008

At Disney! (in Orlando, FL)
February 2009

In front of the White House! (in Washington, DC)
September 2010

At Clearwater Beach, FL
September 2011

At the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL for new student orientation
Again, look at all we can pile on the back of her chair!
June 2012
Today, we actually needed it around the house. It seems as though Brielle might have broken her big toe yesterday. :(  She can't put any weight on her right foot unless she is wearing her sister's "boot" from when she broke a toe last summer. (That was the second time Ashley broke a toe -- My girls seem to be prone to this sort of thing, eh?) To make things easier around the house, we're using the wheelchair.

Today with her broken toe :(
The fact that she still fits in the chair after 12 years is fairly shocking, although it isn't an "ideal fit" for every day use. It looks less like a wheelchair than some models, but is sturdy and can even be loaded on to a school bus if needed. This chair folds in half and is portable even though its bulk and weight almost maxes out my ability to lift it into the back of my vehicle.

Folded up in the back of my vehicle
(see the back right in front of Brielle)

None the less, it has been extremely useful over the years and makes an incredible difference when it's needed!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday's Photos - Celebrations!

Just Mom and Brielle being silly!

Brielle and Dad headed to a school dance!

Brielle rockin' out her new Taylor Swift
cooking gear!

Making pizzas for her birthday celebration!

Opening birthday presents

Brielle with Daisy (left - her old doll)
and Angel (right - her new doll)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursday's Teaching Highlights - Parks

The best highlights of our teaching week:

Thank you letters!
- Handwriting: Brielle wrote thank you letters for gifts she received on her birthday. Yes, she knows her manners!

- Social Studies/History: We learned about Rosa Parks, the "mother of the Civil Rights Movement."

Scrapbook page for our trip
to the Henry Ford Museum in 2007

Ashley at the
Rosa Parks bus
at the Henry Ford Museum

We even found my scrapbook page about our visit in 2007 to the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, MI where the bus is on display. Although Brielle says she remembers being there, I'm sure (at the time) she didn't know what that bus was all about. The whole museum is VERY interesting and well-worth the time and cost! (just in case you ever get the chance to go there!)

While working on our lesson, I realized Brielle had no idea what "black" meant let alone why there was segregation. How precious is that innocence not to see the difference?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday's Wacky Words - What's in a Name?

Brielle with her new baby doll!
For her birthday last week, Brielle received a new baby doll. (Yes, Brielle is 17, but she still loves her doll.) Her previous doll was looking a little scary/creepy with one of her sleepy eyes always down plus missing eyelashes and paint on the lid. So, it was time for a new one!

So, how to name a doll?

With Brielle signing, it's always helpful to have a name that actually has a sign for it. Her first doll's name was "Lily" (it was looking poorly so she had to be replaced about five years ago) and her second one (the one that most recently had to be replaced) was named "Daisy". We adapted the sign for "flower" for both doll's names and just used an "L" for "Lily" and a "D" for "Daisy".

So, what's the new doll's name?

I asked my friends on Facebook for suggestions. The doll had a fish embroidered on it's little shirt, so that was the first point of inspiration. Plus, we seemed to have a flower theme going as well (Ashley's most loved doll's name was "Rosie").

Here's some of the suggestions we got:
- Ariel
- Violet
- Bella
- Dory
- Cora
- Angel
- Mona
- Bailey
- Mermaid
- Rose
- Mollie
- Nemo
- Sweeite Pie

I kinda liked "Violet" and "Angel" the best (and we could do signs easily for either one), so I gave Brielle the choice. She enthusiastically chose "Angel"! What a perfect name! And an easy sign to go along with it!

Thanks to all of my Facebook friends who made suggestions!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday's Tiny Triumphs - Scrub-a-Dub-Dub!

Laundry day is always Monday. It has been for at least the last 15 years. No real reason other than I am a creature of habit and need routine to stay sane.

Since I started homeschooling Brielle three years ago, I've tried to get her more involved in household chores as part of our "Life Skills" training. Laundry was one of the first things she learned. She's now a pro and a real help, too!

She collects our baskets, dumps them out,
and puts the baskets back where they belong!

She knows how to sort the dirty laundry into piles, start the washing machine,
transfer clean/wet clothes to the dryer, and then empty the dryer as well!

She folds all of the washcloths and small towels....

...And then puts the washcloths and towels away
as well as her clean laundry!
Although she can't manage everything, she can do a lot and is so proud to be able to help!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday's Making a Difference - Brielle's BFF

Everybody needs a best friend. Brielle's BFF, Victoria, is a sweetie. They met when they were classmates in middle school. They have a long history of doing fun things together.

Hanging out at the mall.

Playing with Brielle's iPod after going out for some ice cream.

At an American Heritage Girls event
(AHG is like Christian Girl Scouts)
May 2011

At a cheerleading event
September 2011

Brielle and Victoria (both on the far left - holding hands)
at a cheerleading competition.
February 2012

Brielle and Victoria at Vacation Bible School.
June 2012

Brielle (in the blue t-shirt) and Victoria (in the yellow t-shirt)
at dance class.
October 2012
Brielle and Victoria at a school dance
February 2013

Victoria helped Brielle celebrate Brielle's birthday last week. And, boy, did they have fun!

Brielle and Victoria got pedicures.
Waffles for dinner at Brielle's favorite restaurant - Waffle House!

Victoria helped Brielle blow out her birthday candles.

Victoria is a precious gift to Brielle and our whole family. We are so grateful for their friendship.

Victoria and Brielle are certainly two peas in a pod!
February 2013

If you would like to know more about Victoria, please visit her blog!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Generous Surprise Gift from a Stranger - Part 2

In early January, we were approached by a stranger at the car dealership while my vehicle was being repaired. He gave us two tickets to the Taylor Swift concert in April. It was quite a shock!

If you haven't read that part of the story, be sure to read it! 

After we received the tickets and, later the two extra tickets so our whole family could go, the man realized the two sets weren't for the same night. So, today he called and asked us to come back to the dealership to get a whole new set of tickets -- four sitting all together on the same evening. 

Four new tickets!
Not only did he give us the tickets, but he gave us two big Taylor Swift backpacks (one for Brielle and one for Ashley)....

What a fabulous late birthday present for Brielle!
...And they were both stuffed with oodles of Taylor Swift gear!
I think Brielle's beaming smile says it all!

Again, we are simply overwhelmed by Mike's generosity. He is such a kind man and probably has no idea what a huge gift this has been for us in so many way!

I think I can safely say that Mike is no longer a "stranger" now that we address one another by first names only and greet each other with hugs. :) It is an honor to know him and know that he often demonstrates this sort of random generosity with others.

He's also promised another "special surprise" (not related to the Taylor Swift concert).  I can't even wrap my head around that one, so I'll keep it to myself for right now. But, be reading for more details in the fall!

Be sure to follow us on Facebook!

Friday's Photos - Birthday Week!

This week in pictures!
Peek A Boo! I see you!
Getting toes painted with her best friend, Victoria, on her birthday!
Dinner with her BFF at Waffle House!

Getting a little help from her friend to blow out her birthday candles!
The cutest birthday wish she got all day!
From her friend, Cooper, who lives not too far from Atlanta and was also affected by CMV.
Such a cutie!
It's no fun when Dad has to go on a business trip all week,
especially when it's over Brielle's birthday AND Valentine's Day!
But, Dad sent Mom these beautiful flowers for Valentine's Day!
He's still my sweetheart after almost 28 years!

A precious moment the day Ashley met her new little sister, Brielle, for the firs time.
February 17, 1996