Monday, February 12, 2018

The Florida Report

Chance has now decided that he really likes Florida. He was able to do things there that he can't do here. Things like wear shorts in January, see rockets and visit Daytona raceway. Plus, he bunked with friends every night and when he is in our state, his friends all have their own houses to return to each evening.

Chance drank a lot of root beer while he was away. If you know Chance, this is not a surprise. He has a ritual of drinking root beer while he is on vacation. Chance is kind of a root beer snob......he likes to drink the specialty varieties of root beer.  The kind that comes in bottles and costs quite a bit more than the cans that you buy out of the vending machine.

This is what Chance had to say about the trip:

Getting to learn about space exploration at the Kennedy Space Center was a highlight of the trip. I was able to see the Atlantis Space Shuttle, the most recent space shuttle to retire and the end of the Space Shuttle Program. I was able to do some Astronaut training, where I was able to do a micro-gravity ladder, then I was a pilot for a Space Shuttle simulation. I was also able to do the spinning contraption that trains astronauts to control a spacecraft when it is spinning out of control with a joystick.

This whole trip was an absolute experience, ranging from space exploration, to raising a little cain with the boys, to taking a trip to see old cars (my kind of cars),  and seeing the mechanics and facts at Daytona Speedway.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Chance Visits Florida

Chance is on his way!
It has been a long spell since I wrote about Chance and his doings. He has been a busy boy, working, playing soccer and fitting in straight A's this last semester. I will have to do some catch up in the coming weeks, but for now, I will start right where he is at the moment. 

At this very moment, Chance is in an airplane on his way to Florida for a school trip. He will visit The Kennedy Space Center and learn about space science as well as visit Daytona speedway to learn about propulsion along with other field trips. Chance is very excited. Several of his good friends are going on the trip as well and they are planning to have a grand time. 

As we walked out of the airport after dropping Chance off, our breath hung in the air in a cloud in front of us due to the cold.  The wisps of air matched the fog that surrounded the valley. Several flights were delayed due to the weather. Chance's plane was able to take off on time though and he is now somewhere over the mountains heading east.

I think we can state with great confidence that Chance will be experiencing much warmer weather tomorrow morning than those of us he left behind. It should be glorious. 


Monday, November 27, 2017

Chance meets his soul mate

Chance is 17. Since that is the case, there are certain things that Chance spends time and money on. One is the truck we let him use as his own. It is like 100 years old, but he loves that thing like it is a person.  When Chance goes out with friends, many times he volunteers to drive. His friends have newer cars, but Chance has his bestie the truck and prefers to be with it whenever he can.

Then there are of course girls. Chance has a great group of friends and they have employed some darling ideas for date dances. The next one coming up, is the sweater swing in December. Chance, his date and another other couple will go to a a neighboring thrift store where the girls will pick out sweaters for the boys to wear to the dance, and the boys will pick out sweaters for the girls to wear. This should make for interesting wardrobe choices.

The third thing that Chance spends a lot of time thinking about are headphones. He has been on the hunt for a good pair that works for him while he is at work. He has tried all of the headphones we have at home, and they have worked but not well.  Granted, we don't usually spend oodles of money on our headphones here.  We like headphones, and we like music, but investing in expensive headphones has just not been something that we have done.

Well today, Chance found his headphone soulmate. They work well with his implants, he can dial the base setting on the back and the sound that comes through is literally music to his bionic ears. These headphone usually cost about $200.00, but it was a return so he got them for $50.00. He says it was more than worth it. They are the Skullcandy Crusher wireless headphones. Apparently, we could all use some to make us smile. That is what Chance has been doing since he got home with them.

The only downside to these headphones that I can see, is that we may never be able to talk to Chance again since he is walking around the house listening to music and can't hear a thing we are saying.
Chance's headphone soulmate. Can be used with or without the wire. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sending Our Deaf Kids Into the Woods

We drove up into the mountains to chop down our Christmas tree this past weekend. It may seem a bit early for that sort of thing, but we realized that someone in the family is busy for the next several weekends, so rather than risk not being able to go up together, we headed up on Saturday.

Our family is divided on when Christmas music should be played....some of us feel that Christmas music is only appropriate after Thanksgiving. Other family members welcome Christmas music anytime. Chance feels that after Thanksgiving is appropriate, and Ammon likes it anytime. So on our hour drive up to the mountains, there was much discussion about what kind of music we should be listening to.

We didn't head to our regular spot that we usually go to. We decided to try a new area. It was beautiful. Mountain air, green pines stretching up on either side and family. It was a good mix.
The weather was not very cold and hiking through the trees we found a little bit of snow, but not too much, which is good because one of the kids forgot their snow boots.

Since we were new to the area, and we had to cut down a tree that was at least 200 feet off of the road, we decided that we should send Chance up ahead to scout out the trees and see if the kind we needed was present. There is one kind of tree that we are allowed to cut down, so we have to ensure that we know what we are getting. It is a sub alpine fir and it is mixed in with other kinds of trees across the mountain.

After we pulled off and parked the car, we pulled on our coats, gloves and boots. Chance and Ammon headed off and disappeared into the tree line where they quickly disappeared from view. It was at that moment that we realized that we had just sent our two deafies into the mountains and that it may be hard for them to hear us when we called. A bit funny how you think about these things after the fact.
Thankfully, Ammon found animal tracks and started yelling excitedly so we knew right where the two of them were and could hike up to them.

Chance brought his hatchet that he got at the mountain man rendezvous this past summer, and between that and the saw, getting our tree was fairly easy. We all took turns and Chance got to finish the job with his hatchet and call timber.

So now, our Christmas tree is sitting in our garage in a bucket of water. It needs to acclimate for a few days. Sometimes we have been a bit late in getting our Christmas tree up. Not this year! We'll have our tree up and ready by Thanksgiving.

Thankfully those mountain trees last for two months inside.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Chance presents his story

Chance and I participated in a panel this past week. First we presented our journey with deafness, diagnosis, and what mode of communication we chose. The audience was made up of students studying in fields related to working with deaf children. Audiologist speech therapists etc.  Several colleges listened in to the proceedings via technology. There were three other parents on the panel and each of us told our story. I have been presenting at this annual conference for years, but this is the first time that Chance participated.

Chance brought an invaluable insight into the meeting as he could talk about what the process was like as someone who is deaf. I presented the first part of our journey, Chance's diagnosis, the story of trying to Chance what he needed with a late diagnosis, and my thoughts and feelings. 
Chance presented after me and he talked about where he is now in life, how he felt about his deafness in school and how he feels about implants.
After all of the panel members presented their stories, the students could ask us questions.  The students wanted to know why we chose the communication option that we did, and what the hardest thing about the journey has been.
We chose hearing aids and cochlear implants for Chance because he made it clear that he wanted to talk. We all started learning sign language early on, but Chance never used sign language as his main form of communication. He used sign to supplement what he was saying sometimes, but the main way he tried to communicate with us was through talking. That doesn't mean that everything always went smoothly. We had  some struggles as Chance learned to talk and communicate. It has been so worth it though.
One of the students asked Chance how he was able to learn Mandarin with implants as her understanding is that it is a very tonal language.
Chance said that he applied the same principles that he had when he was learning to speak English. He said that in English you have to listen to the tones of people's voices to help know what they are saying. For example if people are asking a question their voices go up at the end. Chance really had to pay attention to things like this when he was behind in language and was literally learning how to listen.
Who knew the skills he developed when he was  focusing extra hard on learning English would later be the same skills that would help him learn Mandarin?
I remember how Chance would lift his voice at the end of a question when he was asking us something. Sometimes it was the only way we knew he was asking a question because we didn't understand all of his words. We knew he was asking a question by the way his voice went up at the end, but we didn't know what we were answering. 
After the presentation, Chance told me that this was the first time he had been able to effectively put into words how he learned how to speak Mandarin and explain the process to someone. 
Talking to the students and answering their questions is always a fun experience for me, It is nice to be able to talk about the experiences that families are having as they try to get the services they need for their deaf and hard of hearing children with people who will be working with the families. Chance enjoyed being able to share his journey and answer questions that people have as well. And who better to answer questions and talk about what it is like growing up deaf than a deaf teenager?

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Horse Riding Lessons

Ammon started horse back riding lessons a few weeks ago.  When we get to the barn where he rides horses, the first thing he does is round up the horse he is going to ride out in the field. He puts the bridle on, leads the horse into the barn, brushes him down and then puts on the saddle.

Since Ammon got to pick which horse he wanted to ride the first day he had lessons, he choose a big white one named Jack.

One of the requirements of the barn where Ammon has lessons, is that kids under 18 where a helmet while they ride horses.  As we looked at helmets to buy for Ammon,  we were lucky to find one that
sat on his head just right so that it doesn't bother his implant or hearing aid. His sister's helmet comes down further than Ammon's and is shaped a little differently and I think that one would have caused some trouble with the hearing devices. Ammon's helmet cost a bit more than his sister's did, but it was well worth it. He LOVES riding lessons.  The horse he rides is a BIG horse and that makes Ammon work a little to get into the saddle.
Fall is a beautiful time of year for horse riding lessons. The weather is not too warm or too cold, the sky is blue and there are colored trees all around with crunchy leaves.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Fair

We have an annual tradition of going to the state fair. Each fall we head up one afternoon right after school and spend the evening enjoying the animals, rides and food. This year the kids found some new friends.

Chance also rode a mechanical bull for the first time at the fair this year.  As he climbed the platform to get on the "bull," we asked him if he wanted us to hold his implants while he rode. He immediately said "no."  They play music with a good beat as you ride a mechanical bull, so maybe it was good that Chance kept his implants on. Good motivation. Chance did really well riding that steel bull.  He stayed on for a while and tried to keep the cowboy stance as he rode....squeezing his legs onto the bull and holding his weight back with his hand in the air.  His legs were sore when he got off, but this ride was not his only ride. He will try it again.  And then probably again.
The implants stayed on like champs through out the ride too.
Overall, it was a successful day at the fair. And Chance fit right in with his cowboy hat.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Chance finds a new toy

While we were up watching the eclipse, we had lunch with some friends. These friends also had a four wheeler that they let Chance drive.  Chance has taken the test to drive the four wheeler but we don't have one of our own, so he doesn't get out much.

Chance's brothers and sisters all wanted a ride and so Chance made the sacrifice of going on several rides so that they all got a chance to go.

On the way home, Chance told us that we needed to get a four wheeler of our own. A few days before that, Chance told us that we needed to get a horse of our own. I am sensing a transportation theme. I told Chance that it could be just like the old days, when kids rode horses to school.  Chance thought that was a fabulous idea. It would be a hard endeavor logistically to use a horse to get to school because there are some main roads to travel that don't have a horse lane and there is no place to put a horse on the school grounds unless you count the grassy spots around the school.

But a boy can dream.

This picture looks like Chance has lots of arms and hands, but it is just his sister and her friend behind him after he gave then a ride.

Monday, August 28, 2017

We saw the eclipse!

Like many other people across the world, we drove up to Idaho to see the eclipse.  There were other places to go besides Idaho of course, we actually could have stayed right where our house is and we would have seen the eclipse, but we wanted more. We wanted as much time of totality as possible, and we have family up north, so we loaded up the van and headed up the highway.

Our family has been looking forward to this eclipse for about two decades. We always knew that we would be in Idaho when it happened if it was at all possible.  I can not even explain how extraordinary the experience was. We had 2 minutes 10 seconds of totality and it was incredible. It started to get cooler as the moon moved in front of the sun, and I actually ended grabbing a sweater from the car. It also started to darken up, but it felt and looked a bit surreal. It was like dusk was coming and the sun was setting. The colors in the sky were the same you see in the evening as the sun starts to set except there was blue too. When the moon moved in front of the sun, it was simply incredible. It didn't just look incredible, it felt incredible.  My pictures from my phone don't even begin to so it justice, but frankly, my main concern was not getting a picture. I was busy being in awe and enjoying what was happening.
Chance and Ammon were so excited to be up in Idaho watching the eclipse with friends and family.

Little moon shapes on the ground made by the light coming through a tree.

We traveled up two days before the actual eclipse to visit family and Chance took some pictures as we drove around the valley. It was his kind of place, farm fields, wide open spaces and a small population.
Chance found a friend crawling across the road

Chance and his new buddy.

Chance taking pictures of a bird of prey

The fabulous road Chance and I drove down

Monday, August 14, 2017

River noises and camping with a cowboy

We decided to go camping more this summer.  We have decided that during summers of the past, but we really made it happen this summer. We bought a new tent and made reservations in advance so that we were really committed to go. It has been wonderful being in the mountains, listening to the mountain stream and being among the trees.

We cooked over an an open fire, made meals from scratch and just got to enjoy each other's company.  One afternoon when we had planned to go to the reservoir, it started to rain, so we ended up sitting in a circle in the tent playing games.

It was in the tent that I realized that what we thought of as a cheery gurgling sound coming from the river, was hindering Ammon's ability to hear in the tent. When he asked "what" several times, I asked him if his implant was working as well as usual. He said yes, but that the sound of the river was making it harder to hear.

The river wasn't actually right next to the tent, it was down at the bottom of a ravine that was behind our campsite. For those of us without hearing aids and implants, it was a background noise that came into focus every once in a while. Apparently, for Ammon, it was enough sound to hinder how well he heard in the tent.

Chance came up and joined us after work and found the hammock calling to him. He hung his cowboy hat on a branch, and climbed in for little rest.

Sleeping cowboy

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