Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chance Netherlands Presentation



Chance was invited back to his alma mater (the School for the Deaf class he no longer attends), to give a presentation on Christmas in the Netherlands. Chance was excited about this prospect, and what was going to be a taking-turns presentation with mom, turned into a one man show with Chance doing all the talking(with a special story by his brother about a boy sticking his finger in the hole of a dike to hold back the water). As soon as Chance and I started going over the power point presentation at home, Chance informed me that he wanted to do it himself. I thought that was fabulous!

Since I was the one with the knowledge about what Christmas in the Netherlands is like, I went through and told Chance about each picture. Chance then sat down at the computer by himself writing down notes on index cards for each picture about what he wanted to say. He numbered the tops of the cards so that he would know the order they should go in. What an organized kid!
When Chance first went through the presentation for me, he would sometimes use a funny voice as he talked.

The irony was not lost on me that I had to explain that some of the kids in the class would not be able to understand him if he talked like that since they wore hearing aids and implants and may have a hard time hearing him.

Chance was excited to see his friends again and after a little catching up (kids sharing that they got new glasses, or a bilateral implant etc.), Chance did a stellar job telling the kids about the Netherlands and how they celebrate Christmas.

Luckily, there is a Dutch store within driving distance of our house, so we were able to pick up a few Dutch treats to share. SinterKlaas (the Dutch version of Santa Clause), leaves chocolate letters in the shoes of good boys and girls in the shape of the first letter of their names. For the School for the Deaf kids, we brought chocolate "K's" to share for "kids". We also brought chocolate sprinkles, bread and butter so the kids could try the snack of bread with sprinkles on it to get a feel for Dutch eats.

It was a great presentation that Chance did a great job with. There was both learning and tummy filling.....a perfect combination!

(A sad note about the video - the tape ran out about 2 minutes before the end of the presentation - missing the end of the "Christmas" part of the presentation. But we're certain you'll appreciate the video just the same.)

Chance Participates in Choir Concert

Chance participated in our local mainstream school's Christmas concert. He was so excited about learning the songs, and I caught him constantly singing around the house. He and his brother got to perform at the mall and in front of the school.

I was very impressed with how Chance learned the songs and as I watched, Chance really seemed to know the words to the songs.

He also got to get his groove on during the"Hip Hop Reindeer", song:)

Chance is the boy on the very end next to the girl with a side ponytail.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

It is a miracle

I was over at a neighbors house tonight and she said to me, "How great is Chance doing?! When he stood up to talk in the program, he talked so well! My husband and I turned to each other and just said, "Wow!'

I told her that it was great to hear since we think he sounds great, but it is nice to hear that other people think so as well.

"Don't you think he's doing great?" She asked

"Oh, yes." I assured her that we were very happy with Chance's speech.

"He doesn't even have a, a, a........." She stammered.

"A deaf accent?" I asked.

"Yeah. I didn't know what it was called. I mean, it would be o.k. if he had one, there is nothing wrong with that, but you can't even tell he is deaf when he talks."

I was of course delighted to hear what she thought about Chance's progress.

This is a neighbor who helped put together many a church program with me through the years. She has seen the progress Chance has made.

"It's a miracle." She said.

I must agree.

meeenee

If has been quite entertaining the past few days to hear Chance say the word "meenee." What he thinks he is saying is "mini" he is just using the wrong vowel sound. He got upset at his sister yesterday and in a very stern voice said,"You have my meenee pencil! Give it back!"

It is moments like this where I have to take a moment and realize that correcting pronunciation while Chance is telling someone off is not going to be as effective as waiting for a less heated moment.

Timing is everything. So, Chance used the word "meenee" several times while telling his sister that she needed to give his pencil back, and then again while explaining that he got the "meenee" pencil from school and yet again when he held up the pencil for all his siblings to see and announced that the "meenee" pencil was his.

After the moment had passed, I told Chance, "By the way, the word is mini, not meenee." Chance just looked at me like he was taking a note in his head and then turned back to his school work.

So, we'll see if the word "meenee" comes up again.

Chance's interest in the blog

Tonight as I was looking at the blog, (sorry for the errors I found by the way:), Chance came up and started reading over my shoulder. Even though he has been living the events choronicled in the blog, he became fascinated by the little summary on the side that tells his story. When I started to scroll down, Chance piped up with,"STOP! I am reading that!" So I paused as Chance read a summary of his life with implants.

When he was done reading Chance said, "Soooooooo, it has been 3 years and 3 months," he said nodding his head.

"So how have you liked it?" I asked.

Chance started nodding his head"Goooooooooood!"

What a beautiful moment! After agonizing 4 years ago whether an implant would be right for Chance and wondering if he would feel it was worth it," goooooooooooood!" is nice to hear:)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

What is a hoe?

What did people do before the internet? While reading a poem in school that Chance is starting to memorize, we came to the word hoe. It is more difficult to memorize a word that you don't know the meaning for.

I tried to explain what a hoe was but Chance just looked at me with a funny look on his face that told me he had no idea what I was talking about.

We don't own a hoe at the moment so showing him one in the garage was out, and this is not exactly a good season to be searching for hoes.

I took Chance over to the computer and we looked up farm tools. Sure enough, there was a hoe.
"OHHHHHH!" Chance said as he looked at the picture.

Add another word to Chance's vocabulary. You learn something new each day:)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Ordering in a crowded resturant

We have a tradition of sorts of stopping at the same little restaurant after riding on the North Pole Express. It is one of the few times that we go out to eat as a family and the kids really look forward to it. There is a train that circles overhead, through tunnels and in and out of rooms. It seems fitting to eat at a train restaurant after a train ride.

This year after we were all seated, the kids realized that they had more chicken strips than they had honey. Since the honey had simply come with our order, this meant that someone would need to go to the very crowded and noisy counter to ask for more. We were not the only ones with the idea to visit this little restaurant after the train ride and the counter was packed with people making orders.

I thought this would be a good time for Chance to practice getting what he needs. I casually asked him to go ask at the counter for more honey. He looked over at the counter and readily agreed. I was going to watch to ensure that he heard what said when he asked for more, but Chance soon disappeared into the crowd. I was getting ready to get up and stand in the background to make sure that the noise was not overwhelming for Chance, but before I could get up, Chance was back at our table with more honey.

"Were they nice when you asked them for more honey?" I asked.

"Yes. She just went back and got some more." Chance replied.

Good. Chance was able ask for what he needed, to a stranger, in a loud and crowded place with out getting overwhelmed. This is a good thing.

Chance picks out the melody for Silent Night

This morning we were watching a musical program where an orchestra and choir performed both traditional and non traditional Christmas songs.

Silent Night was one of the songs performed but it was embellished with harps and other instruments from the orchestra. The melody kind of wound around with various instruments chiming in. Chance turned to me and said," They are playing Silent Night". It was impressive that he could pick out the melody as it wasn't the traditional version that he was used to.

Chance has been coming to me more and more to sing little snippets of songs that he has learned or to ask me about the wordings in other songs.

I am getting excited as Chance seems to be hearing more minor differences in music. Whenever I have asked about music and implants, whether it be professionals who work with implants, implant company reps or adults with implants, the responses all vary about what the musical capabilities are with implants.

I can understand that there is no exact answer, but it has all been so vague and varied that I really haven't had a base to work from in regards to what the expectations can be with regard to music when you have a child with implants.

Chance is highly motivated to learn songs, and he has an interest in music which I am very grateful for. One of Chance's interests is music and I believe that he will be able to do what ever he wants whether it be to excel at an instrument or choir. His confidence is strong and I am hoping that by immersing him in music, both by having lots of music at home, and lessons of various sorts, that Chance will be able to develop whatever talents in music that he has.

I was reading through several pages of our family history and realized that musical ability is quite common among many of my relatives. Chance may very well have inherited some of this musical talent. Chance's deafness need not inhibit him from developing whatever abilities he may have been born with. Chance may have to work harder at music or study harder at mastering it, but I know that he will be able to do whatever he puts his mind to.

We seem to have come full circle. I love to have music playing in the house, and when Chance was first diagnosed as being deaf, we all had to consciously eliminate background noises such as music because it made hearing so difficult for Chance. He could not understand speech over the sound of music playing in the background, he needed a more quiet environment to hear conversations at the breakfast table etc. I remember several mornings walking over to turn music on, then stopping and deciding that I would turn the music on once Chance had left for school so that it would not interfere with his ability to hear.

Now, music playing in the background in the morning, is enjoyable to Chance. If it is too loud, he can tell us. Most of the time though, Chance enjoys having music playing and will put CDs in himself sometimes.

We are in an exciting place where worrying about the basics of hearing have given way to discovering what Chance's little ears(with a little help) can do!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Chance leads the singing

It is that time of year again when The North Pole Express makes its way to the land that Santa calls home. This year included all of the usual things one would expect on the North Pole Express, hot chocolate, cookies made by Mrs. Claus, elves telling jokes, a visit from Mrs. Claus and Santa and a bell to take home.

This year they told us that the bigger an elf was, the younger they actually were because elves shrink as they age. This prompted Chance to ask how elves had babies if the moms were really short and the babies were really tall. Good question. Makes me kind of glad that I got to have baby humans instead of baby elves.

And there was the singing of Christmas carols. One particular carol was led by none other than Chance! Kids had the opportunity to come up and lead all of us on the train car in a carol. During "Away in a Manger", the storyteller handed the microphone to Chance and he led us in song.

Chance is not as familiar with this song, but he had a program with the words on it. It took him a bit to get the tune of the song, but he did a great job and we all just followed his lead. He sat down with a shy little smile when he was done. I think he was proud of his singing. We were too!