4th Birthday Photo Session

4th Birthday Photo Session

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Does It Smell In Here, Or Is It Just Me!?!

Tonight, on my way home from work, I stopped by my neighborhood grocery store.  Actually, it's not really anywhere near my new neighborhood, but I can't stand trying to get in / out of the two stores closer to my house.  Plus, I seem to spend about $30. more each visit at the neighborhood stores because they're grossly overpriced.  So, tonight, I picked up some of my favorite flowers to just add a little something extra to our new home.  The lady that lived here before us had a really old dog, and the front of the house seems to smell like an old, wet dog -- says the bionic nose.  I intend on getting the air ducts cleaned, but cleaning the floors myself have not taken that scent away.  EWH.

Enter the subject... sense of smell.

I have a very heightened sense of smell.  Today, a lady in my office wore a perfume that one of my bestie's used to wear and I was honestly gagging (no offense to my friend.)  It was strong, pungent, and I'll spare you my monolog about people's overindulgence of perfume/cologne.  Now, enter the pungent lily, my favorite.  First of all, it's a natural smell - so I don't mind it at all.  Second, it's pretty. Third, I don't dare ask Andi to smell it.  

When Andi was in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit -- for those that luckily don't speak hospital like me!) she had a plethora of tests, obviously.  She had an MRI, CAT scan, blood work, this, that and the other... and sure as shit, they determined that Andi probably would lack a sense of smell due to her bilateral choanal atresia. (Nasty surgery that clears tissue and bone to create a traditional nasal airway... imagine that.)  Yep.  Over the years, as she's grown more aware, we've been able to confirm that she can't seem to smell anything, only pretend to smell it.  Imagine that for a minute.  You can't smell bacon frying on a Saturday morning.  You can't smell the rain.  You can't smell coffee. You can't smell the most gorgeous flowers.   To me, smells trigger memories.  Smells transport me. Smells can make me gag.  Smells can make me swoon.  There are about three men's cologne's that make me giddy.  There are zero women's perfumes that delight me.  There are about five flowers that just remind me of an easier time, remind me of an uncomplicated life: Jasmine.  Lilies (mainly the China Star).  Roses.  Gardenia.  I love these scents.  Oranges, Lemon, peppermint essential oils... hello!  But Andi... she can't smell any of this.  She'll never smell pizza, butter... but the converse... she won't smell when the garbage is rotting, when her deodorant has failed, that her gym smells like a dirty belly-button.  (That was my attempt to not be foul, Dad!)  LOL!!!!  It fills me with extreme sadness that she will miss out on this incredibly important sense.  I base so much of my world on sense of smell, that, it breaks my heart that she won't have that.  

Mind you, where there are diminished senses, the others are heightened... so I find comfort that Andi will have a better sense of everything else, and then some.

But bacon... oh, for the love of the smell of bacon frying in a pan.  (Sorry my veg/vegan friends...) but bacon was one of three things that switched me back to being a full fledged carnivore.  

Andi will be fine... but I hope to adequately arm her with the tools and the words, to ward off snide comments by other kids - when she admits she can't actually smell what they're talking about.  The assholio who has her smell rotten food or expired milk while the rest of the group laugh.  I don't want that for her.  I know I can't be there every second of every day and shield her from the bullshit of life. But, I do know I can outfit her with her wit, wisdom and vocabulary to deflect and detour this undesirable reality of life.  

Most people go to the grocery store and don't have to ponder half of this shit.  Welcome to the glimpse of our reality.  And next time you "stop to smell the roses" fricken take an extra couple of minutes to really STOP, SMELL and SAVOIR that scent... something that Andi will never be able to do.  

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Magical Mermaid

Recently, we bought a house.  When shopping for a house, we had one thing on our 'wish-list' for this house - and that was a pool.  In the south, it's hot much longer than between Memorial Day and Labor Day - so while the usual neighborhood pools are shutting down, we will still be able to utilize ours.  With this pool, came the 'must-do' that has been on our list for years -- teach Andi how to swim.  While she's had group lessons with an aide... which isolated her from the group, and one on one lessons at the neighborhood pool -- which often distracted her.  This time, we were insistent that she gets one on one swimming lessons in our own backyard, and we don't care what they cost.  (Actually, we do care, but... now we'd pay even more.)

Enter Gene.  Gene is an extremely special man.  He was in the Marines for 30+ years, and now teaches kids, especially special needs kids, how to swim.  It's his speciality, "to give them the magic."  He has this way of lighting up the room or backyard with his enthusiastic energy.  He captivates Andi with his stories, his encouragement, and his instruction.  This man is simply awesome, and Andi professed her love to him on the very first day.  She often does her excited clapping while listening to him speak.  She's concentrating, listening, and so excited to get going she simply can't sit still. 

The first lesson was really just an assessment.  Get to know Andi, let her get to know him, see where her skill set level is, and what her strengths and weaknesses are.  This collection of data enables  him to build her lesson plan, tailored to challenge her and turn her into a magical mermaid.

He comes 3 times a week, and that's mainly to guarantee that she will be a swimmer.  Andi really looks forward to her sessions, and they are definitely paying off.  Gene promises these lessons are going to strengthen her legs and her arms, considerably.  For a kid with low tone, and taking a break from physical therapy, gymnastics and ballet -- this is huge.  

Two weeks ago, Andi would not put her head in the water.  The only thing I've ever seen her do is blow bubbles in the water, and even that required encouragement.  During her assessment, her first "lesson" if you will, Gene had her putting her head under the water.  No joke.  I didn't put her ear plugs in though, as for that first lesson, I wanted her to really be able to hear him.  Boy, was that a mistake.  The water got trapped in her good ear, behind the ear tube keeping the ear open. She had to do wall stands (feet up on the wall, a supported handstand if you will), and shake her head to get the water to drain through the ear tube.  Apparently, she was rather uncomfortable until the water released from the ear.  I felt bad.  But now, she's wearing her ear plugs, and she's kicking butt on her lessons.  It seems she can actually hear him through the ear plugs too, which helps. I'm sure all the neighbors can hear too - but oh well.  The other day, he had her floating face-down in the pool while he counted 1-2-3-4... as she held her breathe.  It was totally amazing.  We couldn't believe it.  It makes me excited for each and every lesson so I can see what she's going to do next.  This is by far, the best money we've spent in a long, long time.  Even better than buying the house with the pool, is meeting "Gene, Gene the swimming lesson machine!"  *insert hearts of gratitude here!*

My assessment day ... first time putting my head underwater!

Practicing, by looking at the mat with all the ocean friends on it.  My favorite is the turtle.

Face down floating, looking at the mat with my turtle on the ground

We couldn't be more thrilled by the quick progress that Andi is making with her swimming lessons.  We also couldn't be more grateful to score this amazing instructor, Gene. I failed to mention that Gene also wears bilateral hearing aids and is fluent in sign language.  I mean, this guy is simply a gift. He promises, it won't be long until Andi is transformed into a magical mermaid.  The way things are going, I believe it.