Tuesday, December 28, 2010

If the implants are off, just whisper

I witnessed a fascinating occurrence at our kitchen table this morning. Chance was playing Legos with his brothers and sisters without implants on. Ironically, the game required communication between the parties as one child was operating the airplane, another the police station and so on and so forth.
Chance could of course communicate his preferences just fine. He just couldn't hear if anyone disagreed with his line of thinking.

At one point, his sister took issue with where the runway for the airplane was. Chance looked up at her when she landed the plane in the wrong location according to his way of thinking.

So they argued:
Chance's sister whispering her opinion,  "Chance, there is not enough room there!"
Chance: 'Oh yes there is! It needs to land next to the police station where I made room!"
Chance's sister:  " No! Let's have an airport over here!"
Chance: " We have to leave room over there for the fire station!"

I'm not quite sure why Chance's sister felt the need to whisper. She knew he couldn't hear her, but maybe it freaks her out a little just to mouth the words to him so she whispers just so there is still sound coming out of her mouth. Chance tends to be loud sometimes when his implants are off. He has no idea how loud he is of course.

It was an interesting method of communicating. I sat just watching them fascinated and wondering how it would all end. They eventually came to some resolution with their little brother and sister code of communicating. I wonder if they'll do it again?

Note to self....

Note to self:  NEVER just pick up Chance's ipod and tune in to see what is playing. This act could cause some hearing loss for the hapless victim who wanted to know what Chance was listening to. Since Chance listens to the ipod through a NoizFree telecoil cable, we don't know exactly what the listening experience is like for him. But I now know, that he has that ipod volume cranked to the hilt as I casually picked up his ear buds and turned it on. Woo Hee, I may hear that song ringing in my ears for the rest of the night. Or possibly forever.

Sooooo, the next time I pick up Chance's implant to listen in, I am turning the volume down first or I may experience some hearing loss myself.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I don't think Santa heard me

I can honestly say that we rarely have major mistakes or misunderstandings due to the fact that Chance is deaf anymore. Chance can hear so well with his implants combined with his being the ripe old age of 10 that we rarely have those heart breaking incidents that make our hearts cry because Chance missed some major event due to his deafness.

We had one of those during the children's program at church when Chance was about 5 years old. One of the songs the kids were singing had signs to go along with it and Chance loved that song. Unfortunately, Chance missed the first few notes of the song, so even though he was sitting right out front, he did not start with everyone else and it was kind of his song. As all of the kids around him started singing and signing, Chance looked around and burst into tears. I quickly joined him on the stage and tried to catch him up to speed, but he wanted them to start over so that he was ready. Programs usually don't stop and rewind though. He was heart broken.

We had another one of those moments on a train bond for the North Pole this past week on the North Pole Express. We had cookies and yummy hot chocolate, read stories and sang Christmas carols. All of this culminated with our arrival at the North Pole where Santa boarded the train and visited with each child. You can imagine the excitement and bustle that accompanies a train car loaded with children who are visiting with Santa.

When Santa got to our seats, we hurriedly gathered all of the kids together for a group photo. The lighting in the train car was dim and it took us a few seconds to get our camera on the right setting. After getting a very cute picture, it was time for each of our kids to tell Santa what gift their little hearts most desired for Christmas. Santa was a little bit in a rush this year and unfortunately, Chance was the child closest to Santa and he missed the question of "What do you want for Christmas?", and instead sat grinning his pleasure at being right next to Santa. Chance's dad and I had to point out to Chance that he needed to hurry and tell Santa what he wanted, since Chance had not heard the cue. If only only one of his siblings had been next to Santa to get the ball rolling with the gift requests, because it took Chance a few seconds to realize that it was his turn and he only got one little sentence out before Santa was hurriedly on the move to the next child.

It should be noted that we have ridden on the North Pole Express train several times over past Christmas seasons and usually the visit with Santa goes off with out a hitch. I think Santa was in a hurry to make sure he got to visit with all of the kids since we were on the first train car and their were many more cars loaded with waiting children.

It should also be noted that Chance is a dedicated believer, wondering over the magic of Santa and his reindeer and delighting in the whole Christmas season. He was therefore a little crest fallen at Santa's hurried manner since in all of the bustle and noise, Chance did not always hear things the first time they were said.

After Santa had moved on to the next row of kids, I saw that Chance looked a little bewildered and upset so I pulled him down next to me and asked in a cheery voice what he had asked Santa for. Chance hung his head as he tried to hide the tears that were forming.

"I didn't get to tell him I wanted a rubber band gun." Chance whispered. " I don't think he heard me because he was walking off."

This was the first I had heard about a rubber band gun and it turned out that Chance was hopping to rely the message to Santa that he wanted a long board AND a rubber band gun for Christmas.

When you are a true believer in the magic of Santa, this is a devastating development.

Luckily, Mrs. Claus comes through the train a bit after Santa, so after I explained that Chance was not able to tell Santa all that he wanted, Mrs. Claus got down at eye level with Chance and told him that she would give Santa the message with assurances that Santa really listened to her and she had some pull as far he was concerned.

So Chance is hoping that the message did indeed get passed on. He has been talking about the wonders that a rubber band gun would bring into his life and used the topic as the basis for his persuasive paper he had to write in 5 grade writing class.

I guess we'll see when we come out to see what is under the tree on Christmas morning.

The apology

Chance came home from cub scouts and I could tell that something wasn't quite right. I called him over to where I was doing the dishes and asked him what was up.
He told me that after scouts, the boys had all been playing on a trampoline and he had touched the football and one of the boys had shoved him.
"Then what happened?" I asked. "Did any of the boys say anything?"
"I don't know." Chance said,"because my implants fell off when he pushed me."
At this point I realized that this must have been quite a shove if it made Chance's implants come off.
"Did any of the boys say anything when he did that?" I asked.
"I don't know because I was getting my implants." Chance said.

This is where the beauty of having a deaf child comes in. I know the boy who shoved Chance and there has never been an issue with him before.

"Maybe he apologized while you were getting your implants." I said.

Chance shrugged.

"Ya, maybe he apologized and you just didn't hear it."

Since that really could have happened and we will never know for sure, I thought it was good for Chance to end our conversation on a positive note:)

Monday, December 06, 2010

The blessings of technology

One of our adult deaf friends saw Chance at a music conference and said that she was amazed to see that even with the noisy hallway and bustle, Chance was able to carry on a conversation with a woman she introduced him to with out looking at her the whole time.

Yes, we are thankful for technology and what it has done for Chance. He was truly born at a good time to be deaf, with the invention of implants and all of the technology that is available. From computers to texting to subtitles, being deaf isn't as isolating as it once was.

We feel very blessed to have Chance in our family and to all of those who have helped Chance and continue to help Chance blossom into an ordinary 10 year old boy who is not held back by being deaf.

Sometimes, I want to remind Chance that he is indeed deaf when he tries to tell me that he does not need his FM system in every class or when he lops questions at me through the shower curtain when his implants are off. Oh the funny stories we can tell when Chance has children of his own.

"Remember when you used to ask what we were doing that day as you lathered up in the shower and I came in to throw a towel over the rail? As if you could hear anything I said in response?"

"Remember how you would ask us about our conversations first thing in the morning when you weren't going to be able to hear any answer we gave?"

Good times, good times.

It is a good time with Chance. We are so grateful for him and for all that he adds to our family. And we continue to grow in gratitude for the devices that allow him to hear and mingle with all of the kids his age in school, at cub scouts and in the neighborhood.

I am so grateful to the man who invented implants. I hope he realizes what a blessing he is to kids like Chance.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's not over 'till the deaf kid sings

Chance has begun his journey into the world of singing lessons. We want to be very careful as at this point, Chance has no issue with singing and is quite confident is his abilities. Chance tends to sing monotone at times, but we think that is a situation that can be unlearned as Chance is exposed to music, taught how it works and learns to listen for the difference in the various notes.

I have never wanted to post anything that will cause Chance embarrassment and cause reason for Chance to enter therapy as an adult:) Chance knows that I am posting this video of him singing and is fine with it. He is quite confident in his singing abilities and we are quite happy with that. Chance sings in school productions, at AG Bell Fairs and at church without a second thought. As has always been the case, we want Chance to be able achieve all that he is capable of and believe that singing can be a real strength for him in spite of his deafness. He hasn't been held back so far in anything he has attempted!

I post his singing now to show where he is as we are starting this journey and will add other samples of Chance singing as we go along. My hope is to chart his progress and document how far we have come.

Here is Chance reading/singing the story of "Frosty the Snowman", to some of his siblings for a bedtime story. He is a great big brother.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chance and his guitar

Chance has started on what we hope will be a long illustrious relationship with a guitar and music.
Chance's dad and I approached the choir and music teacher at his school as we had heard that he had given voice lessons before. We explained how Chance tends to sing in a monotone and not fluctuate his voice as much as he needs to when he sings. (Chance was actually with us at the time so we had to word things carefully:), but we thought he had the desire and ability to be quite a good singer.

The teacher paused and kind of stroked his chin for a minute. Thankfully, Chance got otherwise engaged at this point so we could all talk a little more frankly. The teacher explained to us that he was not trying to put us off, he just wanted to make sure that he could do it.
He told us that he feels terrible when he can't help a child learn to sing and that it had happened just once when he worked with a little girl who really struggled.

I was preparing for a gracious rejection of our request. But instead, he had Chance come over and sing a little something for him. Then he told us that he did not have any experience working with deaf kids and singing. We told him that we understood that.
He then said he would love to give it a try with Chance.

Chance can sing, we just need to help him get the most out of his hearing to recognize the subtle note changes in songs and practice.
The music teacher thinks highly of Chance which of course helps:)

The music teacher thought that learning to play the guitar while Chance is taking singing lessons would help him to hear the different notes and teach him how music works. Chance thought that was one of the best ideas ever. Chance has been asking to take guitar lessons for a while but I have been telling him he needs to learn the piano first for which he has been taking lessons.
The teacher let Chance hold a guitar and had him strum it. Chance beamed.

So it is that Chance has started taking guitar and voice lessons. He is so excited and has been practicing as well. When the boys returned after their first lesson, the teacher was impressed with how well they had done in one week.

Chance's brother has been asking to play the guitar longer than Chance has. So we realized that if we let one, we should let the other. Now our boys are learning to play and sing together. The music store is now a bit richer from our purchase of two guitars and I expect great things from this venture! And lots and lots of music in our future!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chance and the Fm system

Chance has an FM system on loan from the School for the Deaf that he is using. Well, the idea is that he is using it, but apparently, Chance is picking and choosing which classes he will use it in.

The thought running through my head is this,"So, Chance who is deaf, is going to decide when he can hear enough and when he can't?" Built into that thought is the fact that since Chance is deaf, HE DOESN'T ALWAYS KNOW WHAT HE ISN'T HEARING! "

Yet Chance is trying to convince me that some classes warrant using the FM system and some do not. I can understand not wanting to use it in P.E. as it is cumbersome to run around playing capture the flag with an FM system attached to your person. And frankly, I don't know that anything would help Chance hear everthing in the cavernous gym where thousands (ok, it is more like 20, but when they all are yelling, laughing and carrying on, it sounds like thousands) of 5th graders are dashing about their voices bouncing off the walls and ceilings creating a force of sound that is not unlike a jet taking off.

However, social studies? Chance's peers give presentations in that class sometimes on reports they have done. Chance is certain that he hearing all of that?

And what about the fact that I have been in some of these classes helping out and I have seen how the class can start quiet with all the kids sitting and writing individually but by the end the teacher is up front discussing spelling rules?

I am tempted to attend each class and let Chance use or not use the FM system at his leisure but then ask him questions about details about what was said and see if he caught them all. I am betting that he didn't.

We have actually set up a payment program (OK, bribe) for the next little while to reward Chance for each class he uses his FM system in. I am willing to wager that if he were to wear the system in every class, with the exception of P.E. and dance, he would find all sorts of interesting details that he hasn't been catching.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Sweet Dreams !

Our oldest son is taking a short trip with the other boys in his church class to a temple very early one morning and we were trying to figure out carpooling for the activity.

Chance's dad and I realized that both of us could drive our two cars and deliver the boys to their destination and then I could come home as all of our kids should just be sleeping while we were gone. In our discussion, we talked about how Chance could just be on alert for any cries etc. for the short time I was gone.

Then we looked at each other as it dawned on us that Chance may not be good for this task. Chance can't hear squat during the early morning hours. A robber could enter the house and make as much noise as he wanted and he would be safe from detection from Chance. The house could be on fire with beams crashing to the floor and the baby could be screaming and Chance would lay nestled up to his pillow snuggled in blankets.

Hmmmm.

We could slap his implants on him before we leave, but would that really work? He could hear stuff, but would he awake from a dead sleep for a crying baby? Chance doesn't like to put his implants on for a bit after he wakes up and it seems mean to wake him up in the wee hours just to put his implants on. The point of our plan was that all of the kids could just sleep for the 10 minutes I was gone, but should someone need something, Chance would be on call. Except he can't hear anything.

So, we will be getting another adult to drive so I can stay home :)

Chance is going to have the ultimate excuse as to why he doesn't get up in the night when his own babies cry. He can honestly say,"I didn't hear anything!" and sleep blissfully on :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fine tuning the speech...

Chance's speech is coming along very well. He can hear the sounds he needs to pronunciate for almost all he hears. There are a few errors that we need to work on, but the thing we notice the most now, is language usage.

Chance will hear a new word, and I think he just hears it and then starts using the word the way he thinks the word is used. This is great as it is exactly what kids do when they are learning language. Every once in a while though the words Chance chooses to use are not the usual way of saying things. This is fine, because he is still learning vocabulary as are all of the kids his age. Certain words though, his peers would already know.

For example, Chance was distressed because one of his friends at school had not been there for 3 days in a row.

I expressed to Chance that maybe his friend was sick. The flu is going around and it can easily knock someone out for 3 days.

Chance hung his head and said," No, I think he has been transported."

Doing some quick thinking about what that could mean in the context of our conversation, I realized that what Chance meant was, he thinks his friend had been transferred. As in transferred to another school.

THESE are the sorts of things we need to fine tune now. Helping Chance clarify what some of these new words he is picking up mean.

Thankfully, Chance's friend Ryan had not been transported. He had been deer hunting.

Monday, October 25, 2010

See October 15th:)

I just noticed that since I started the blog entry I posted last night a bit ago, it posted BELOW the one I posted last week. So, in order to read the latest entry, scroll down and read about the reading scores started on October 15, but posted October 25th:)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Deep conversations

Chance just LOVES to have these deep conversations when his implants are off. Tonight, I was at the computer when Chance came up and said,"Do you know what is really bad? It would be awesome to go to the moon. I would LOVE to go to the moon in the future, but I probably can't."
"Why?" I asked as it dawned on me that Chance had his implants off so of course this was just the right time to have an in depth discussion about his odds of landing on the moon someday.
"Because you can't even see black holes and then they just suck you in."
"People on earth help you land on the moon if you go." I said looking right at Chance so he could read my lips.
"Did you know that if you get stuck in a black hole, it stretches you out like a piece of spaghetti?"
I did not know this actually.
"Imagine your guts floating in space." Chance said as he walked off.

Well, at least he is not worried that being deaf or having implants will keep him from flying to the moon someday. He is just worried that his guts will be strewn across space when he gets sucked into a black hole that snuck up on him.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Chancc's reading scores are back

We just got Chance's reading scores back from parent teachers conference. Chance's charter school is run more like a junior high school in the fact that the kids don't have just one teacher but instead rotate throughout the day to several teachers. There is a writing room, a math room, a science room and so on and so forth. There is one "homeroom" teacher who receives all of the test scores and who is our contact point should we need information. The reading test covered reading and comprehension. Chance scored WELL above average in both categories for 5th grade, the grade he just transferred into.

Chance's writing teacher said that Chance is in the highest writing group as well and is self motivated and on task. Then she told me what a special soul Chance was and how privileged she feels to be around him and teach him. Then she said, "surely you know this." I actually do know what an incredible soul Chance has. I am delighted to know that his teacher sees it as well. I help out in Chance's writing class each week and I get to see how Chance is self motivated and focused. He really desires to do well and applies himself as best he can.

Oh, my little deaf son is scoring above average in reading!!!!! Deaf children traditionally have been known to be behind in reading. I think that is changing, but Chance went without language for 2 years and he was not all that excited about reading when he started.

Now, he comes to me with all sorts of interesting facts he has learned about in books.

We as parents were asked in our parent teachers conference to list Chance's academic strengths. We listed reading and math and writing. I think we chose well:)

Most people around Chance will just see how well he is doing in school and take that for granted. Few people will know how incredible the journey Chance has experienced has been. How Chance himself overcame such odds to get where he is. He went without language for 2 years and through determination and sheer grit, Chance overcame this monumental obstacle and forged ahead overcoming the incredible barrier that going without language for 2years during your formative years is.

Chance does have an incredible soul and I stand in awe of him and his amazing strength and perseverance. Chance is not held back by his deafness and he is willing to work his heart out to succeed in all that he does. An incredible soul indeed. A soul I am honored to call my son.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The door slams

This past weekend, Chance's uncle took Chance and some of his siblings with cousins to spend the night in a cabin he was watching for the weekend.

When we went to pick them up, it was apparent that a good time was had by all. The cabin was perched up at the top of a mountain in bear country. It was fenced around the perimeter of the cabin so one could feel relatively safe playing outside.(I know, I know, a little fence will not always keep a marauding bear out, but there have been few bear sightings during the cabin's life which started in 1962, and what can you do, never enter the woods because there might be a bear?).

The kids made forts out of wood and branches that were quite well built. There was a boy hut and a girl hut with windows and everything. There were trees that had been chopped down, deer wandering through camp, footballs thrown in the open spaces and popcorn kernels hurled into the open fire and popped back out as popcorn. It is a great place to be a kid.

Along with enjoying sounds of nature in the woods, the extended family got to experience the sounds of Chance. The melodic sound of doors closing in the night, that is. Chance has not done this behavior for a while at home, but apparently, he was inspired to revive his old routine at the cabin.

Before we knew Chance was deaf, he about gave us a heart attack some nights because as we lay sound asleep, blissfully dreaming, Chance would slam a door somewhere in the house when he got up in the middle of the night and scare us to death. It is a very unsettling thing to wake up to a door slamming. At first you don't know what is going on and wonder if you should hide from invaders that have entered your home and call 911. Chance, who can not hear the door slam is blissfully unaware that anything is amiss and just goes about his business. It has been a while since those of us at home have been blessed with the closing of the doors in the middle of the night, but perhaps the mountain air prompted Chance to close the doors again. My personal theory is, Chance can hear the doors but very softly and since he was in a new place, maybe a kind of scary place when you get up in the middle of the night, he closed the door for comfort. To hear something, anything in the great silence that is Chance's world at night when his implants are no longer on.

The result was, everyone knew when Chance got up to tinkle in the night.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Chance is a celebrity

When I asked Chance how school was going this past week, I got this response: "Well, all the kids are getting to know me for one thing for sure."

"What is that?" I asked trying to figure out what he could be talking about.

Chance just removed the magnet part of his implants and said "Because of these." He said it like I should have guessed that all along.

Not being sure if this was a positive or negative situation, I pressed for more information.

"Do the kids ask about your implants?" I asked.

"YES! Chance said.

"What do they say?" I asked.

"They ask me what they are."

"And what do you tell them?"

"That I am deaf and with out them I can not hear."

"What do the kids say when you tell them that?" I asked still wondering if this was an annoyance to Chance or just a part of his life that he was comfortable with.

"Wow or oh." Chance replied.

"Then what do they say?" I asked wondering if the implants were opening doors for Chance to meet more kids in 5th grade.

Chance started to laugh. "Sometimes they tell me to take the implants off and then ask me if I can hear them." Chance seemed amused by this so I was not alarmed.

"Some of the kids ask me if I can read lips. Then they have me take the implants off and stand in front of me and say stuff to see if I can tell what they are saying."

"Can you tell what they are saying?" I asked.

Chance threw back his head and laughed. "Yes! Then the kids are like, NO WAY!" Chance is an excellent lip reader and I pity anyone that goes up against him.

"One girl came up behind me and I said, "I know you are there because I can feel you walking on the floor." Chance said obviously delighted that he had been able to detect her.

Then Chance said in wonder, "I now know that I can feel noises from the ground!"

"Are the kids nice when they ask you about your implants?" I asked trying to stay neutral but also wanting to know if anyone was harassing Chance about his implants."

"Yes." Chance said. "The kids don't stare at me at this school like they used to at my old school." Chance said with obvious relief.

"The kids would stare at you at your old school?" I asked surprised. I even verified with Chance that the kids at this new school did not stare at him like the kids at his old school.

"The kids at your old school stared more? The kids at your old school saw implants and hearing aids all of the time because lots of kids wore them there."

Chance shrugged, "I don't know why they stared but they did."

Chance obviously feels like he got stared at more at his old school. The only thing I can figure at the old school is sometimes the deaf kids were pulled from their regular classes to go for language help from a School for the Deaf teacher and they usually ate lunch together. Maybe the kids were looking in curiosity at the deaf kids who congregated together at lunch etc. and since they were different from them, they would look over in curiosity. Chance had great friends at his old school both deaf and hearing. I don't think it was mean spirited that Chance felt kids stared more. But is is intriguing that he doesn't feel that way at his new school. There are only two deaf kids at the new school and both wear implants. Maybe they just blend in more with all of the other kids.

Chance does not seem annoyed at all that the kids are asking about his implants which is good. My experience has been that kids are just curious and once they are told about the implants, they just go with the flow. Kids just want to know what they are which is natural.

I did ask Chance's brother who sees Chance quite a bit at school if the kids were nice to him or if anyone was mean because of the implants. His response was,"Not at all."

So, I guess Chance is educating the school about implants and just how gosh darn good he is at lip reading:)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Growing pains

Chance has been in 5th grade for about 2 weeks now. It has been a bit of an adjustment for him. Not academically, but socially. Since Chance started out the year in 4th grade, he got into a little comfort zone. One of his deaf friends was in 4th grade with him and they were overjoyed to have been reunited. There was also a boy from our neighborhood that Chance knew and sat with. Plus, Chance had begun to know many of the kids in 4th grade during the short time he was there. He had some homies that he was comfortable with.

Since this is a charter school, the kids are not kids from the same neighborhood. There are kids from 4 or 5 different cities that attend this school, so when Chance moved up to 5th grade, he was with kids he had never seen before in his life. He started to struggle a little with the fact that he did not know any of the 5th graders. He even started to get teary eyed in the morning when it was time to go to school as opposed to running out the door to ride his bike to school. So, we had some talks about how sometimes new things are hard, but they get better once you get used to them. Realizing that the kids in 5th grade would also have started to find people they were comfortable with during the past few weeks of school, we also gave Chance some Mike and Ike candies and told him to give two candies to two or three 5th grade kids he did not know and introduce himself. The first day, Chance gave some candies to his brother and his brothers friend. Good sharing, wrong people:)'

Now that it has been almost two weeks, Chance says it is getting better in 5th grade. He is not as anxious about going to school and he actually gave me a thumbs up on Friday when I asked him how school had been.

Chance actually will be more social having moved to 5th grade because he'll get to know two grades of kids, having gotten to know some of the 4th graders. When I have been at the school, I have heard kids call out as we walk down the hall,"Hi Chance!" Many of these kids are 4th graders who talk to Chance in the hall and I am sure that 5th grade students will start conversing with Chance in the hall as well as time goes on.

I would like to give a shout out to Michael who goes by Donovan. This sweet boy who is a 5th grader, came and put him arm around Chance one of the mornings that he was teary eyed outside the classroom standing with me and asked him if he wanted to walk into class with him. Thank you Michael who goes by Donovan!

When Chance is feeling emotional, he also doesn't want to go up in front of the class to give the teacher his FM system. I can understand that, so we have just been working on getting Chance comfortable in 5th grade.

Chance's sweet brother has been looking out for him as well and even took a football to school so he could gather a group of kids together to play a game. He made sure to get several 5th graders so that Chance could meet more of them :)

Things are looking up. Chance is getting more comfortable in school AND he got a locker like the junior high kids. Now he feels extra special :)  And I am hearing of new kids each day that Chance is getting to know.

Like Madison and Cody.

Things are looking better.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Inservicing the teachers on the FM system

So I went into Chance's school with two consultants from The School for the Deaf to give an in service to the teachers that work with Chance and the other little boy at the school who uses an implant to hear.

It was just an awareness sort of thing to let the teachers know simple things that can be done that make a big difference to kids who wear implants.  For example,  not talking  into the white board when writing on it, but instead facing the class when giving instruction.  Or when kids answer questions, having the teacher repeat what was said such as,"Jimmy said conifers are trees that don't shed their leaves in the fall."  These steps are especially important right now since many classrooms in Chance's school are large and combined, as the school is waiting for dividers to be put in.  Clarifying who just said what is a great help to implant users who may not hear a child from the back of the room.

I told the teachers about the FM system and showed them how it works and demonstrated how the microphone piece would be worn as they will be wearing a headset.  The teachers were very helpful and when I opened it up for questions, I was impressed with their concern about what they could do to make sure the kids were getting what they needed. For example, the chorus teacher asked about music and implants.  I told him that it usually takes kids with implants longer to learn the words and tune to a song and so he asked if it would help if he sent the songs home that they would be working on.  I told him that would be very helpful and today he sent me an email listing the songs they would be working on for the next bit and the words.  I am very grateful for that.

I told the teachers that they did not need to be afraid to teach these boys, that they had been in school for several years in regular classrooms and just taking a few steps would make all of the difference.  I also told them that we as parents were more than willing to talk to teachers about questions or work with them to solve any problems that may arise.  I feel good about the meeting and feel that the teachers want to help these kids with implants succeed.

So after the afternoon meeting with the teachers, I went home and Chance and I went over the FM system and how Chance would give the headset to each teacher and told him he would need to remember to get the headset from each teacher as he moved from class to class.  Then the next morning, I went to Chance's first class with him to help him get comfortable with the FM system and to make sure that it worked like it should.  It actually didn't work like it should much to my consternation.  I ended up taking it home and finally realized that one part of it was not charged all of the way.  This little FM system needs LOTS AND LOTS  of time to charge we have realized.  It needs to charge all night and then some so we have to get Chance in the habit of putting it right onto the charger as soon as he gets home from school.

The next day I headed back to the school and helped Chance set up the system and he  said that it is helping him to hear better in class.  Except P.E.  First of all, it is hard to run around while wearing the equivilant to a wide cell phone hooked onto your pants, and number two, the gym is just one huge spot for noise to bounce up down around and through. I don't think the FM system would do much good in there.  But Chance is used to PE class, he watches the other kids and the teachers try to make sure they give instrucions on how to play games etc. before all of the kids are running around the gym making all kinds of noise with both their voices and their bodies:)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Reflections at a Time of Triumph

I met with the academic principal of Chance's school this week and we talked about Chance's test scores from the end of last year. Chance scored as a 4th grader heading for 5th grade although technically on paper he is in 4th grade this year.

Chance learned to hear again twice during his younger years. He got hearing aids at age 3 and learned to hear and respond using those. Then, three days before his 6th birthday, he received his first implant. Six months later he received his second implant and so he learned to hear again using implants.

Due to the changing in his hearing devices and his late diagnosis of severe to profound hearing loss, Chance is a grade behind the other kids his chronological age. He did not repeat a grade, but had a year in between kindergarten and first grade where he was in a class of deaf children who built vocabulary and other things to get them ready to mainstream in a regular classroom as opposed to a School for the Deaf classroom.  It was the right thing to do at the time and we have never questioned the decision.

Chance's only delay has always been in language and things relating to hearing. He has been closing the gap in his language delay and last year I home schooled him and we were able to work one on one in language arts.  Chance was a joy to teach with a drive to learn and a quest to do his best in all he did.  As I taught Chance,  he was working at a 4th grade level last year and we realized that Chance had developed academically to the point where he was level with his peers that were his age and could possibly now go into 5th grade.  So we had him tested at the end of last year and he tested as a child who was LEAVING 4th grade not entering into 4th grade.  We realized that this was his shot to catch up to his peers who were entering 5th grade if ever there was a chance.

When we started this journey, it was not important to us that Chance be in the same grade as his peers his age.  We only wanted what was best for Chance and after learning to hear again twice,  it was best for him to have that extra year to learn vocabulary and get help with language.  Some parents of deaf kids were really bothered by the prospect of their child being a grade behind their peers their same age.  We knew that Chance needed that extra year.

Now the testing has shown that Chance is ready for 5th grade.  I get teary eyed thinking about that.

It is hard to adequately explain to someone who has not experienced it just what has gone into the past several years since we  found out that Chance was deaf.  The unknowing, the long road to get him what he needed and the uncertainty.  When we first found out Chance was deaf, no one dared tell us anything concrete about his future.  "How well would he be able to hear with hearing aids?"  They didn't know.

We sat through several years of IEP meetings (Individualized Education Plan) where Chance tested at least 2 years behind his peers his age in language.  That was to be expected we were told.  Chance's first goal in preschool was to respond and turn when his name was called by the teacher.

We went through years of weekly therapy where we were taught how to help Chance develop language.  We went to seminars,  read books and talked to other parents of deaf children.  We spent 6 years of our lives engaged to a great degree in deaf related activities.

I stayed up late nights, after the kids finally went to bed, searching the internet for books that would inspire Chance to want to read, as when he first learned, he got easily frustrated.  In the past, deaf kids have notoriously had difficulty in reading past a certain point.  I did not want that for Chance.  I remember sitting with him many nights as he became frustrated with reading and I would work out deals with him such as he read one page and I read the next page.  Chance went into a reading recovery program and I sat with him each night as he read the assigned books and attended the class once a week with Chance where I learned ways to help him with his reading.  I volunteered in Chance's classroom each year and watched to see how he was doing.  I kept up a dialogue with his teachers and we worked as a team to help Chance succeed.

We maxed out on the benefit of hearing aids and looked into implants.  Professionals thought the implants would help Chance but no one could tell us to what degree.  One medical intern told me the night before the surgery of the second implant not to expect too much.  Hah!  What did he know?

Chance learned to hear again with implants and we did more language therapy and learned how to help Chance basically learn to hear with the implants.   I had a box in the pantry dedicated to Chance and helping him learn to hear.  Just little things like magnets, a white board and various other things to make learning language a little fun.

Chance continued to close the gap between where his peers were and where he was in language.  And now,  4 years after getting the second implant,  the academic principal at his charter school has looked over the testing with other school officials and deemed that Chance can move up to 5th grade.  He starts officially tomorrow.  Chance has not only overcome his language obstacles but caught up to his hearing peers in many ways.  He is amazing and few people will ever realize just what it took for him to get here.  He is incredible and has been the recipient of nothing less than a true miracle in his life.  We have prayed and sought guidance from a power higher than ours to help guide us in our journey with Chance.  We know that those prayers have been heard and Chance has been watched over. I believe that our prayers are always heard,  though they are not always answered the way we think they should be.  We have had many  bumps in our journey where the way we thought things should work out, the way it seemed to make sense for things to work out, didn't happen and we had to change course. 

We'll be watching to ensure that Chance is ready and thriving in 5th grade.  It will be a change for him and he may have some things he needs to work on, but he has reached his goal. He has been telling us for the past while that he wanted to be in 5th grade like his friends his age.  It did not bother him until fairly recently that he was a grade behind.  He has worked hard and pushed himself and now here he is where he wanted to be.   Like I said, we will be watching and helping him to make sure that he is doing well in 5th grade.

I am emotional when I think about it.  We have reached a milestone in our years-long journey for Chance to hear.  There are many years left to go, but today we celebrate that years of effort by all of us have yielded what can only be termed a miracle.  A miracle that was helped along by dedicated teachers,  professionals in audiology, us as his parents, Chance himself and most notably by our Father in Heaven.   

Sunday, September 12, 2010

One thing leads to another....

It all started with a decision to go look at the just-beginning-to-emerge fall foliage in the mountains.  That led us to a roaring little stream where many people stood on a bridge watching as a  garter snake tried to cross over to the other side.  That led to Chance and his brother feeling sorry for the snake and getting a large branch to aid the snake in getting across so that he wouldn't drown.

Which led to a nice doctor who had been watching the snake and then the boys walking over and kindly explaining that the plants they were standing in to rescue the snake were stinging nettle.   Stinging nettle is a little rascal of a plant that lives in our mountains and does pretty much what it's name implies.  It stings.

Chance and his brother were rubbing their legs when they climbed up the bank of the stream.  As the doctor good naturedly said,  "It's a lesson in nature!" 

Thankfully, the boys did not get that much contact with the stinging nettle. Just a little brush on a small part of their legs.  It could have been so much worse.

I explained to Chance what the doctor had said since Chance had been busy sitting on the path rubbing his legs while the doctor  knelt down to tell the boys that those plants by the streams edge were stinging nettle.

"Really?"  Chance asked.

"That is why your leg is annoying you."  I explained.

"Oh!"  Chance said his eyes getting big.

For the rest of our walk along the trails, Chance would point out various plants and ask,"Is that stinging nettle?"  The stinging nettle had been mixed in with other plants at the streams edge so Chance didn't get a good look at what exactly it looked like.   We tried to show him some so he would know what to avoid in the future but we couldn't find anymore as we hiked down the trail.
You know, I think that doctor was right.  This HAS been a lesson in nature that the boys won't soon forget.  Now we just have to let Chance know what stinging nettle actually looks like so he can avoid it in the future.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Chance starts a new school

Chance is attending a new charter school this year near our home. Due to the fact that it is not wired for FM systems, and the fact that the kids move from room to room for each class, Chance is going to get an opportunity to be learn to advocate for himself. Chance will be wearing an FM system starting next week, but he still will have to let teachers know if he is not hearing what is going on.

During the back to school open house, we got to go around and meet all of the different teachers. We told them a bit about implants, and also what Chance would need such as sitting near the front when there are many kids and being close to the teacher when the class goes outside. We have not experienced an FM system before, so we'll see how well it helps Chance in school. The history teacher told Chance just to get up and move his chair to wherever he needed to in the room if he could not hear what was going on. I like that. Chance can just move himself to where he needs to be if he can't hear.

Each child has a mentor teacher that they can go to if they have questions or have a problem. Chance's mentor teacher is the art teacher. And he wears a hearing aid. I thought that was brilliant of the school to hook Chance up with a teacher who wears a hearing aid and would thus have an understanding of what it is like to not be able to hear things. Especially in the lunchroom and during assemblies.

Chance has been in school for 3 days now and I asked him if he was hearing alright in class. He said yes, but there was one class he could not hear the teacher sometimes. I asked him what class that was and he said he couldn't remember. Hmmmmm. I told him to write down what class he could not hear in as well when it was over so he could remember and we could see if we could do something to help him hear better.

The FM system that he will be borrowing will be here on Wednesday. I am kind of excited to see how it works for Chance. Chance will have what they call a "loop" which will hang around his neck and hook onto his belt. It can go under his clothes so that it is not as visible. I don't know that Chance would be bothered by having the FM system be visible. The teacher will wear a little microphone that hooks onto their shirt that will transmit to the loop Chance is wearing.

It is all kind of exciting to see how Chance likes the FM system. Hopefully, it will work for him and he will like it.

On another note, I followed the boys as they rode their bikes to school to see the best route to take and see how long it takes them to make the trip. At one point on the way home, the boys veered off and crossed the street. I honked the horn of the van to get their attention so that I could talk to them and remind them that we were timing how long it takes to ride to and from school so we shouldn't make any diversions. Between the road noise, the fact that I was behind him and Chance had a bike helmet on, he did not respond to the horn.
I thought, "Chance is not going to hear if a car behind him honks? Are you serious?" There is one stretch of road that has a really narrow shoulder that the boys ride on for several yards. I don't like the fact that Chance did not seem to hear me honking. What if a car behind him honks at him and he does not hear it?

I will be testing out how well Chance hears a horn from behind during the next week. I want to know if this was a one time incident, or if Chance does not hear horns coming up behind him very well. I think that without the bike helmet, he would probably hear better, but the helmet protects him in case he falls. I'll be doing some investigating to see what Chance hears this week.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Adorable...

Chance's vocabulary is expanding and he is trying out new words in sentences on a regular basis. Sometimes he uses the words just right and sometimes it is not usually a way the word would normally be used, but he is learning more all the time. One episode of Chance using a "new to him" word occurred this past week when Chance exclaimed:

"I found the most ADORABLE shoes that I want for my play shoes!" Chance told his dad as he walked into the kitchen.
Chance's dad was in the kitchen making dinner and Chance was expressing his desire to own above shoes while reaching for some food.
With a matter of fact voice, Chances dad said, "Boys don't usually use the word adorable to describe things. Mom would, but boys usually don't use adorable. They may say something like awesome shoes, or cool shoes instead."
Chance said,"Really?" Then just shook his head as if to say OK and walked off with his dinner.
Chance's brother came up into the kitchen where his dad was cooking and said in a low voice,"I'm glad you told him that dad because boys really don't use the word adorable."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Chance may always miss this....

Chance's brother had a late, late birthday party where he took several friends and his brother Chance to a minor league baseball game.

The boys all went down on the field with Chance's brother while the stadium sang a birthday salute. Chance had his sunglasses confiscated by the owl mascot who just couldn't quite get the sunglasses to fit over his eyes which were as Chance put it,"huge!"

A good time was also had by all as they tried to catch foul balls in a field behind the first-base line.

On the way home, the boys all sang to the radio. As each song would begin, the boys would hear just one or two notes and then break into song in unison. But not Chance.

Chance would look around like,"How do they all know what to sing?"

Even after notes 6,7, 8, and 9, Chance wasn't identifying the songs. This may always be a struggle for Chance. He does not catch onto songs as soon as people with out implants, and it takes him more time to identify what song comes on. He loves music and he does learn the words after time. His chorus teacher said that he had good rhythm and she pointed out that not all of her kids with normal hearing had that.

This is not a huge tragedy. Chance can hear so well, but he is deaf, and his hearing is not perfect. We certainly don't mind his music delay. He may though, especially as he gets older and music becomes more and more important to kids his age. I hope he does not let it bother him too much.

Maybe we'll have to teach him to say something like,"Hey, I may not know as many songs as well as you do, but I have learned to hear again after going deaf. I'm doing just fine!" He could even say something along the lines of,"My mother thinks I am fabulous even if I don't catch every song on the radio. She told me so:)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chance and wake boarding


A few weeks ago, we had a big family outing at the lake with grandparents, cousins, and various aunts and uncles. One uncle generously brought his boat so that we could engage in water activities like water skiing, wake boarding and other various fun water sports.

Chance decided that he wanted to try wake boarding for the first time with his brother so our family headed out to the middle of the lake to give it a go. Since Chance does not wear his implants in the water and they were snuggled down in a bag on shore, he could not hear anything so his brother went first to show him how it was done.

Chance is a good learner by just observing, but even still, Chance's dad sat on the edge of the boat motioning and signing to Chance on how this activity was done. Chance nodded and got ready to succeed as his brother had done.

Chance was SO close to getting up several times, but like his mother, he didn't quite make it this time but is highly anticipating the opportunity to nail it next year:)

When we got to back to shore, Chance kept repeating a phrase that I did not understand.

Since Chance did not have his implants on, I had to wait a bit before I figured out what he was telling me since he would often say the phrase, and then turn his head so he could not see me asking "What?"

Finally, after looking around for Chance so we could walk up to the bathrooms which were located up the beach and through the parking lot, I asked Chance's dad if he knew what the phrase was that Chance kept repeating.

After repeating what Chance had said, Chance's dad smiled and said,"It means 'I am about to pee myself' in Spanish."

Really? We have taught our son to say I am going to pee myself?? Or should I say, ONE of us taught Chance how to say that? And rather loudly too, since Chance tends to talk louder when his implants are not on.

(Dad's claim of innocence: I had told a story where 'Me meo' is part of the punchline - I just had no idea he had retained the phrase.)

I looked up towards the bathrooms and saw Chance shimming over the sand to get to the bathrooms.

"Does Chance know exactly what he is saying?" I asked.

"I don't know." His dad replied.

Maybe we should clarify how to say "I need to use the bathroom," before Chance takes off his implants near water again :)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

How Chance affects the tires we buy...

Apparently, it was time to buy some new tires for our van. We now know this because one of the front tires was punctured by something lying in the road in our neighborhood and so Chance's dad took it in to be replaced as the tear was not repairable.

While he was there, Chance's dad was shown where all the other tires were worn almost to the steel rims on the side facing the van that we don't usually see. Good thing we got that message now before we had a blow out or something.

Since this was a somewhat unexpected expense, we were going over the options of which tires would do the job well, with out breaking the budget.

We have been going to this tire place for a while and have found them to be very helpful and honest. Chance's dad was shown a set of tires and told that "they will do the job, but they are a different rubber that will generate more road noise in the van."

More road noise in the van? That could be a big deal for Chance. So, we opted for the tires that were $150.00 more to maintain a quieter ride. We figure Chance is worth it:)

Friday, July 30, 2010

I get by with a little help from my friends

Since Chance's new mapping a few weeks back, he seems to be missing more when we are talking. I notice it and his dad notices it. Chance is adamant that he hears just fine, it is just quiet sometimes or there is too much other noise in the room.

Hmmmmm.

So today, I told Chance that I was going to ask his two best friends in the neighborhood if they thought Chance was hearing as well as he usually does. I saw the three boys outside riding their scooters and called Chance over.

"I am going to ask your friends if they think you are hearing as well as you usually do." I told him.

"Ok!" Chance said surprised but not bothered.

So I called his friends over to ask them and Chance stood by with a little smile on his face.

"Does Chance seem to hear you as well as he always has?" I asked his friends.

Chance looked from one friend to the other.

Once shook his head yes and the other one said,"Ya."

Chance's dad happened to walk out while we were having this little chit chat and said,"Does he ask what more often or seem not to hear you?"

"Only if I talk really quiet but that is the way it always is."

"Chance just got his implants programmed so we wanted to make sure they were working like they needed to," I said.

His friends nodded and then a smiling Chance sped down the driveway with his friends.

Score: Chance 1 Parents 0

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hah! A mamma's revenge

So Chance did that thing again where takes off the part of the implants attached to the magnet and just lets them hang there flopping on the sides of his face. This means he can not hear a stinking thing. He did not want to listen to what I was saying so he released his ability to hear.

This ability to quit hearing at will disturbs me a bit as a mother. Chance does not do it much, but the fact that the capabilities are there is, well....disturbing. And it is not something that I want to become a regular occurrence. What if Chance goes through an awkward teen stage of not thinking we're cool (like that could happen) and he doesn't want to listen to us so he just unattaches his implants on a regular basis?

Today I fought back. Chance unhooked his implants and they were there dangling by the side of his head as he looked down.(we want to make sure he could not read my lips either apparently).

So, I took the implants off of his head. How many moms can take their kids ears off? I wasn't angry, Chance is a good sport and laughs easily so I figured he would appreciate the joke yet get the point at the same time. This caused Chance to look up. Then I calmly just said," If you are not going to use them, then it is my turn." And I put them on my ears and walked off.

Chance was soon following behind me saying,"I want them back."

I just replied,"It is my turn to use them since you are not."

Chance was bemused by this and as he called for me to return his implants, a smile would creep onto his face though he tried to hide it sometimes.

I walked down the hall and into the bathroom with Chance following close behind me.
 
I only had the implants on for a few minutes. But I think those few minutes made Chance realize just how much he missed his implants when they were gone :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

40 minutes too late....

We just got back from a lovely trip to St. George where we mingled with family, spent a day on the lake and played games.

Chance got to reconnect with cousins and play all weekend long while eating donuts that his uncle brought from his donut shop. Seriously, is there any better vocation an uncle could have than having a donut shop?! Every family gathering that this uncle attends is sure to serve donuts much to the kids' delight.(and the adults too. His donuts are beyond your ordinary variety).

Since traveling to St. George requires packing up the car for a 4 to 4 and a half hour trip with 5 kids, we need to plan to make sure that we have all that we need.

We did our usual run through of grandma's house as we prepared to leave for home.

Swim suits? Check all packed and ready to go.

Tooth brushes? Check. Wait, hold on. We did pack only our tooth brushes right? Some poor cousin will not be toothbrushless tonight when they go to brush because we packed ours and theirs?
Suitcases, pillows, sleeping bags, flip flops, snacks and 5 kids...check.

40 minutes later while driving down the freeway........

"Did you guys remember to get my rechargable battery pack at grandma's?" Chance calls up from the back seat.

Silence. I looked at Chance's dad and he looked at me. Neither one of us took ownership for packing the rechargeable battery packs so that answered the question.

Apparently, no one packed the rechargeable battery packs. The reason Chance was asking was because one of his implants was about to die and needed new batteries.

How unfortunate that none of us thought of this 40 minutes before. Chance had just been complaining that one side of his headphones was not working. Well, at least that problem was solved since Chance would shortly be hearing out of only one ear:)

Thankfully, Chance's aunt who lives about 40 minutes from our house had not left St. George yet, so we made a quick phone call and asked her if she would mind bringing the battery pack with her when she comes home tomorrow. Oh, and not to be pushy or anything, but would she mind putting the battery pack in her car as soon as she got off the phone with us so that she didn't forget it? Luckily, Chance's aunt is really nice and so she agreed.

Chance and his battery pack should be reunited sometime tomorrow. Chance is a little dismayed at the wait, but we are lucky that his aunt is able to bring them to us so soon.

We all learned something from this. First, we need to remember to include the rechargeable battery pack in our list of things to remember on a trip. Two, sometimes using the rechargeable batteries is not all it is cracked up to be and using the disposable kind may well be our best option while on vacation.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

We've come a long way baby!

This week as we sat at the annual 4th of July parade in our area, I was taken by the thought of just how far we have come with Chance since he was first diagnosed as being deaf.

The 4th of July is a big deal in our hearts here at our house and in our area as well. There are big festivities that take place all through out the weeks leading up to the 4th, one of the biggest being the parade. People line up the streets for blocks and blocks. Typically you have to get there really early to get a spot to watch the parade as some people even camp out overnight to save a place.

After we found out that Chance was deaf, taking Chance to places like the parade where there are lots of people and the potential to get separated is greater than normal was quite scary. Chance could not hear real well in places with lots of people not to mention the fact that there were clowns, fireworks and various other activities to distract him. All it would take was for Chance to get interested in something and start walking toward what he saw and he would be lost. We could not call out to him in the crowd because he could not hear us. To make us even more nervous was the fact that we realized that Chance could not tell anyone who we are should he get lost. He could not tell anyone our names. In the beginning he could not tell anyone his own name. With all of this in mind, we were on high alert each time we went out in big groups with Chance. Many times, one of us would just track Chance while the other one worried about the other kids and getting us where we needed to go.

We considered not going to the parade and doing something else instead, but the boys really wanted to go so we came up with a plan of sorts. We wrote down our names, address and phone number on a piece of paper and stuck it in Chance's pocket. We made a big deal about that paper and told Chance that if he could not find us he should find a policeman and give him the paper. Luckily, there are many policemen hanging around the parade, so after we got a spot to sit for the parade, we took Chance for a walk and showed him where policemen were located as there were several on surrounding corners.

We also did not go really early to the parade. We did not want the pressure of tracking Chance for several hours before the parade actually started. Tracking him during the actual parade was going to be enough to keep us busy since he could not hear us and there were literally people 10 and 11 deep on the sidewalks all around us. Plus, one of Chance's hearing aids started having a problem so it was being repaired and we were down to one aid.

Thankfully, some nice people let us sit by them so that we got a spot to watch the parade.

The next year, Chance could hear a little better, but one of his hearing aids wasn't working right so we had to send it to NEW YORK to get it fixed. So again, we were down to one aid over the 4th of July. This time, we found a spot to sit later in the morning as well since we did not want to track Chance for longer than we had to. A lady let us move our blanket in by hers and it seemed all was well, but then during the parade, she wanted her grandkids to be able to lay down, and she got annoyed at us when all of them couldn't. We all scrunched together and tried to make her happy, but she could not be satisfied. She actually got quite mean when I tried to explain to her that Chance was deaf and could not hear and waved her hand at me in an annoyed gesture.

The other people around us seemed annoyed by this woman and her actions towards us and after the parade, several people told us it was a pleasure sitting by us and one family gave the kids some suckers.

Those years are well behind us now. Chance is perfectly capable of finding us or help should we get separated. Part of that come with age, but part of that simply comes because Chance can hear. He can hear!

Yes, we've come along way baby! And thankfully so!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

They burn the flag because it gets cold?

Chance's brother headed off to his first week of scout camp and lucky for us, it was close enough that on the last night, they had a family night. We were fed dinner and got to reunite with our happy yet dirty boys and see what they had been up to for the past week.

Chance will attend scout camp one day himself and he thought the whole camp was great. There was a pond, baby duckings, canoes, tents, firepits and lots and lots of trees.

After dinner, the scouts put on a program for us which included skits, an award ceremony and a touching patriotic segment. The "stage" was outdoors next to the lake with logs for sitting tiered up the hill. I chose a seat for us that was smack in the middle of the arena and close to the stage to give Chance the best odds of hearing what was happening. He laughed at the skits so he obviously got them. He even repeated several of them for his dad in incredible detail when we got home.

As part of the patriotic segment, they talked about how to properly retire a flag, A flag that had flown over an Air Force base was cermoniously disposed of while we all sat watching in silence and quotes were read about the significance of the flag and what it stands for. The arena was silent with a feeling of reference as the flag was tenderly laid to rest by some of the scouts.

Chance sat transfixed watching the ceremony and then he turned to me and whispered,"Why are they doing that to the flag?"

Since the arena was silent with reference, I didn't spend a lot of time explaining why the flag was being retired, I just whispered back,"Because the flag is old."

A look of confusion and concern spread across Chance's face as he leaned back over to me and said in surprise,"Because the flag is cold?!!!"

"OLD" I repeated looking straight at him so he could see my lips.

Chance nodded in that, "Oh, now I get it" way and then we sat in silence enjoying the rest of the ceremony together.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The buzzer on the oven

Chance was making brownies today as I was in and out of the room. After a while Chance came to me frustrated and said," It has been 32 minutes and it hasn't beeped yet!"

"The buzzer telling you the oven is hot enough?" I asked.

"YES!" Chance replied.

I told him to go ahead and put the brownies in anyway since the oven had had enough time to warm up.
"Maybe I just didn't hear it." Chance said matter-of-factly as he left the room.

So, Chance didn't hear the sound telling him the oven was ready. He seems to hear the buzzer when the items are done cooking. I think they are a little different in sound. Now, I'm curious. I'll have to pay attention and see do some expiriments with Chance to see what he is hearing from the oven.

Chance versus the stink bug

One of the best things about having boys who are fascinated with bugs is the fact that I now don't feel I should have to mess with any tiny critters who invade my home. And I don't. I call my boys to mess with them. So this morning when I discovered a stink bug in my bedroom, I immediately knew who was going to take care of that potential for offensive smell....Chance.

When I went to find Chance however, he was in the garage getting something out of the van without implants on. No matter. I flagged him down by waving my arms frantically in the doorway until he saw me. Then I put on a dire expression and motioned for him to come. His expression was one of concern as he climbed out of the van and walked over to me. Then I took his arm and led him into the kitchen where I handed him a jar. His look of confusion deepened.

Then I led him to the entrance of my bedroom and pointed to the offending bug. Chance's look of concern vanished and he knelt down to examine the bug. "Is this a stink bug?" Chance asked. I nodded.

"Can they fly?" He asked.

I said I didn't think so.

Then Chance scooped up the stink bug into the jar and the entire episode was over.

I could get these critters by myself but with boys around who find the task fascinating as they get to get up and close with critters, I defer to them:)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Why Chance gets to sit in the bucket seat

I think we may have quelled the complaint that some of our kids have because Chance always gets to sit in the bucket seat in the middle row of the van instead of the bench in the back that seats three.

Due to an injury incurred while bouncing on a trampoline at a cousin's house, Chance's brother got to sit in the bucket seat in the middle row since it can recline back a little. Chance therefore was regulated to the back seat of the van.

Our conversations on the hour drive home went like something like this:

Mom to Chance's older brother:"Did you actually fall of off the trampoline or did you hit the side of it?"

"I hit the side and then fell off." Was the response.
Chance:"What did he do?"
 Mom:"Tell your brother how you got injured."

A little time lapse and then:
Dad:"We need to get home so that I can turn the crock pot down or the meat will burn."
Chance:"What will burn? Dad, what will burn?"
Mom:"Tell Chance what will burn please."

Child from the back seat asks,"When will grandma and grandpa be coming to our house?"
Mom,"They will be to our house in about an hour."
Chance from the backseat,"When are grandma and grandpa coming?"
Mom:"Please tell Chance when grandma and grandpa will be coming."

And later while we sat at a stand still on the freeway........
Dad,"Oh, I see why traffic is moving so slow! We are going down from 4 lanes to 2 lanes because they are fixing some pot holes."
Chance from the back seat,"What? Why are we moving so slow?"
Mom to Chance's older brother,"Turn around and tell Chance that they are fixing potholes in the road and that is why we are moving so slow."

Note to other kids from mom:"You see kids, there IS a good reason that Chance sits in that middle seat. He can not hear everything from the backseat what with the music playing and 7 people making various noises and comments as we drive, and so you have to keep turning around and telling him what is going on:)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Perhaps it was the blinking lights....

Apparently some vultures made their way into our cul-de-sac the other day. Chance and his friends took this opportunity to prostrate themselves upon the ground and pretend that they were dead. Nothing adds pizazz to your day like being sucked on by a vulture who assumes that you are dead since you are laying so quiet and still on the road.

Except, Chance said that they kept laughing so the vultures never attempted to make a meal out of them.

I personally think it may have been the blinking lights on Chance's implants. The vultures have most likely never eaten someone who's ears were blinking before and found this fact very suspicious.

Oh well. Maybe next time.

"I can hear with out using the t coil!

I was in the kitchen doing motherly things like loading the dishwasher and wiping off counters when I got a phone call. It was Chance and he was very excited.

"I can hear on this phone without turning my implant to t-coil!" He gushed into the phone.

"Really?" I asked.

"Yes, I can hear you right not and I did not have to use my t-coil."

"That is awesome Chance. Where are you?"

"In the barn in the backyard. We're playing in here. I just wanted to call and tell you I can hear on this phone."

Who would have thought that our little hand-me-down Net10 phone that we use when the kids go somewhere and need a phone to call us would be the one that Chance could hear on the best? And we got it by accident! Friends of ours from out of the country got these little Net10 phones so that they could communicate with each other while in the states, but the phones would not work back in Europe so they gave one to us.

What a great surprise.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The implant takes a ride.....

Chance has cousins visiting from out of state and so they joined us for a fun day at the zoo today. We watched birds sail overhead, and watched an elephant retrieve and put a hat on his head during the pachyderm show. The weather was just right for a day at the zoo and when the kids saw the carousel everyone wanted to have a turn riding on the zebras, elephants and roosters that were pumping up and down and whirling around in a circle.

Chance took a comfortable seat on a snow leopard next to his cousin. We were in a canyon, and a slight breeze blew....a perfect day to be riding a zoo animal. As "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" played on, Chance's cousin decided to tease Chance and reached over to knock the hat off of his head as they rode. The hat didn't come off, but the implant did. It fell and shattered across the wood platform of the carousel as the music played and the ride turned on. I think I gasped. My sister-in-law said,"I am sorry!"

The operator of the ride who had no idea what he was giving to me, handed me the battery pack part of the implant which had bounced off the wood platform and landed on the ground near his feet. He must have known it belonged to me as I had spontaneously started running along side the carousel when the implant fell off, while Chance held up his arms in a gesture of,"I don't know where it went."

The other part of the implant lay on the wood platform going around and around with everyone else on the ride.

Part of me wanted to shout,"STOP THE RIDE! AN $8000.00 DEVICE IS SITTING ON YOUR PLATFORM AND I HAVE TO GET IT OFF!!!" (wouldn't that have caused a stir as parents and children alike clamored for the opportunity to grow $8000.00 richer)

Instead, I sat mesmerized watching the implant go around and around willing it to stay where it was and not slide down into the nether reaches of the undercarriage of the carousel.

A third thought going through my head was, "insurance is going to cover this right?" I even started writing the letter in my head...........

"Dear insurance people,

My son Chance needs a new implant since half of his old one is under the carousel at the zoo. Thank you for being so understanding and sending us a new one ASAP.

P.S. If you replace this implant as soon as possible so that my son can continue to hear, I will tell everyone I know how great you people are. And frankly, you people in the insurance industry could use some good PR right now. "

When the carousel stopped, the last I had seen of the implant was it sitting on the wooden platform, but it was out of my line of sight at that moment. I was just getting ready to push my way into the throngs of people getting off the carousel when Chance suddenly appeared at my side and took the battery pack out of my hand. Without a care in the world, he put the two parts of the implant back together and smiled to me as he flipped it on and bounced off to join his cousin.

I didn't technically do any extended cardio exercise today, but I think my heart beat hard enough when the implant crashed to the platform and was whirling around and around to qualify as my heart workout for today.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

What if I can't hear God talking to me?

In our house, we really do believe that prayers are answered and that there is a loving Heavenly Father that listens to our prayers and guides our lives. We were having a conversation about God answering our prayers when Chance asked, "What if I do not hear God answer my prayer because I am deaf?"
This is a totally a logical question. At various times we have talked to Chance about how God usually uses quiet means to answer our prayers as opposed to flashy loud means. This apparently got Chance to wondering if he might miss an answer or two since he is deaf and may not hear the quiet answers.
We gently explained that number one, God knows Chance personally, and will not let a little old thing like his being deaf stand in the way of their communication with each other. Number two, we explained that the answers will come as impressions in the mind or stirrings in the heart many times. Things that being deaf will not hinder.
God has had such a hand in helping us to get Chance what he needs along this journey. We have truly experienced miracles along the way. We let Chance know that God is very aware of him and that he will get answers to his prayers and his being deaf will not hinder that in the least.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mom, what does hearing normal sound like?

I was in the van with Chance the other night and he was telling me what it was like to use implants to hear. "It is just like normal. Like you don't even have implants on." He explained to me. He had apparently given this process of hearing with an implant a lot of thought."At first they kept falling off, but now it is like they are not even on and I just hear without thinking about them."

Then he hit me with,"Mom, what does normal hearing sound like?"

"Well......" I began letting Chance's question sink in. How do you explain what it is like to hear when you have never even had to think about it....it has always just happened for you?

I have actually given much thought to what it is like to have normal hearing since I have a son who is deaf and does not hear things the same way I do. I have come to really appreciate the ability to hear and the amazing power of our brains and the whole process of hearing.

I have not however experienced being deaf and not able to hear so I was sorting out in my mind how to explain to Chance what hearing was like for me.

"I don't really have to think about hearing too much either." I told Chance."My ears just hear things."

Then I thought of various things that affect my hearing. "Sometimes your ears can become clogged when you have normal hearing. Like if you go swimming, or if you have a cold. It it really annoying when that happens and it makes it so you cannot hear as well."

"Really?" Chance asked enthralled.

"Yes. My ears will clog up sometimes and it drives me crazy." I told Chance. Even though I could not see Chance in the dark of the van, I was picking up on his tone of voice and he was really amazed by this discovery of what can happen when you have normal hearing.

"WOW! I am really lucky!" Chance expressed with awe in his voice."That NEVER happens to me with implants!"

This conversation got me to thinking about what it was like to wear implants. You never get water in your ear when you swim that clogs up your hearing?? I had never thought of that aspect before.
I imagine that colds may have some effect on hearing with implants but I don't know. Do colds have an affect on implant hearing? Or does the implant just bypass the congestion of a cold?

Now I have more questions to add to the question I have had for years now,"What is it like to hear with an implant?"

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bobby pins and magnets

While sitting in church, I noticed some sort of a projectile leave our row and land a short distance away. I didn't see what the specific object was, and figured maybe I didn't want to know. Thankfully, no one else seemed to be disturbed by the UFO sailing off of our row, so the damage was minimal. Still, Chance looked perturbed and his brother was stifling laughter. A" mom needs to know what is going on moment", if ever there was one as the potential that we would soon be drawing attention to ourselves there on the pew was great.

It turns out, that the UFO was a bobby pin. A quiet item. This was good. Chance's brother had attached the bobby pin to the magnet on Chance's implant to see if it would stick to it. It did, and as everyone knows, this sort of thing is exactly what you should be focusing on during church anyway.

Chance did not appreciate a bobby pin sticking to his implant and had ripped it off and hucked it away from his personage.

Chance's brother was thrilled and amused to see that his little experiment with the bobby pin had worked. Chance was annoyed and unappreciative of the same experiment.

Thankfully, there were no more objects that would stick to a magnet, so the rest of the meeting went smoothly.

Bonding with Chance

I was laying down getting Chance's little brother to sleep, when Chance came in and lay down by me. He snuggled up to me, and I kissed his head. Across from the bed was a window where you could see the moon shining through the arch of the window. Chance pointed the moon out to me and together we lay enjoying the full moon shining through the window.

Chance did not have his implants in, but we didn't need words to communicate. We just enjoyed the quiet and hunkered down under the blanket.

It was a perfect night with Chance.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Macbeth at Kids to Work

Chance had the opportunity to go to work with his dad on "take your kids to work day." Chance loves to go to work with his dad, and who could have known that going to work on this particular day would have involved acting out part of the story of "Macbeth?"


It was kind of one of those unplanned impromptu things that you just go with when you get there. Chance even got a speaking part!(he is the one in the green striped shirt kind of bending over).


With about 200 kids showing up that morning, the day was set up with a common "show" then going to various rooms across the company's campus to be introduced to various potential careers in short breakout classes in smaller groups, many of which (ie Facilities Management) are related to the company, others (ie Reptiles or FBI) are with invited local experts.



So, back to the main story - the opening "show" is highlighting one career that most would not think accociated with his Dad's company, a technology company: Acting (for stuff like trade show clips, commercials, etc.) So one of the actor employees and his associate did a good fun session with the kids, helping them act out a condensed, more comical, form of Macbeth. Of course, when they asked for volunteers to participate, nearly every child's hand went up. They selected about 12 participants, after which everybody not chosen was bummed. After a few minutes, however, they mentioned the three witches in the story, and announced that they needed three participants that could give a good witch's scoul. Well, making faces is something that Chance does very well, and he was not disappointed. He was immediately selected for the part, which did require some reading and repeating of lines. Chance did very well, and beamed with delight in being able to participate.



Later in the day, Chance and his brother, sister, and Dad were waiting for the last, full-group, show to start (a phenomenal marrionette show by a former Hollywood puppeteer). While the kids were talking with other kids (not sitting right next to him), Chance's Dad overheard one dad in front of him respond to a question from another dad: "I think those help him hear." Chance's Dad realized that they were talking about Chance, and was able to confirm that yes, in fact, Chance was deaf and those funny looking things he wore helped him to hear. One of the dads was sceptical - he had seen - and even heard - Chance participating all day long and was amazed that he was deaf. "You wouldn't know that he was deaf from hearing him," The surprised dad replied.



Kind of wish I there to see Chance being a witch. I bet he did a great job with those facial expressions.

Don't laugh at me....

Have you ever seen the old Aunt Jamima commercials where good old Aunt Jamima has her head wrapped in a scarf or neckerchief? Or perhaps you've seen some motorcycle dude while driving down the road who has a neckerchief wrapped around his head? Or, even better to describe what happened at our house, have you ever seen pictures of say a Russian peasant woman who has a scarf wrapped around her head with just her face showing? Now picture Chance's face instead of the Russian peasant woman's.

The kids and I were all in the kitchen when we heard the roll of thunder telling us the forcasted storm had arrived. It was at this moment that the kids all remembered that they had set up a tarp in the backyard with blankets underneath that they needed to run out in the rain and save.

The kids all scattered to grab their shoes, and Chance ran to the back door saying,"Don't laugh at me. I have to cover my implants." And when I turned to look, there stood Chance with a red bandana wrapped around his face and tied under his chin.

To their credit, his siblings did not laugh at him, but instead they all ran outside together to save their tarp hideout.

Chance looks kind of cute as a Russian peasant woman I must say.

Memory lane........

The local chapter of the Alexander Graham Bell Association held it's annual speech fair and the deaf and hard of hearing kids were in good form.

Chance was slated to sing a song that he learned in chorus this year, and was scheduled to perform toward the end of the night.

As I sat there listening to kids ages 2 to teenagers performing, it was a little like a trip down memory lane. First there were the preschool kids who had just begun their journey to hear. They were so little and cute. Some of them could barely say their names right. That had been our little Chance. Out of all the sounds in the speech banana, the "ch" in his name proved to be a challenge for a while for Chance.

Then came the slightly older kids. They were not as nervous and some had no issue performing in front of the over 300 people who attended. Chance had not been nervous about performing when he was that age either.

Then there were the kindergarten kids. They looked confident and sang their hearts out. Chance received his first implant at the end of kindergarten. His confidence in his ability to hear soared after that.

When Chance's old class got up to perform, Chance literally sat at the edge of his seat. There were his peers that he had gone to school with for 5 years. For the first time, he was not performing with them. They all looked great.

When the teenagers got up to perform, and they talked about how they were on the honor roll at school, or running on the track team or how they loved to dance, (dance on a team requires music, which requires hearing), I thought about how Chance will be up there someday, fully capable to do what ever his passions dictate.

This speech fair was a great source of hope and determination in the beginning. We would see these kids perform and look at our little boy and think,"Hey! He is going to be able to do things that all kids do regardless of his deafness! Look at these kids! They are amazing!"

I remember almost dragging my parents over to talk to one of the teachers who was deaf, just so that they could talk to her and see how much Chance was still capable of, despite the diagnosis of deafness.

Our families were quite startled to find out Chance was deaf. It came out of the blue and no one knew what the possibilities were. That deaf teacher, and those deaf kids performing, showed just what the possibilities were. Chance WOULD be able to read poetry one day and dance to music. And say the 'Ch' in the beginning of his name.

I also realized how much I cared about several of the parents of those deaf kids. We have been through the process together. Shared the same concerns, had the same worries and experienced the same triumphs as our kids literally learned to hear. The parents of these kids are amazing. Their dedication and perseverance is inspiring. Some of the kids have had different challenges besides just the deafness and their parents have been there lighting the way for them.

AND THE KIDS! These kids are amazing! They are smart, they are determined and they are capable. It makes my hear swell to watch them.

These deaf kids and their parents will be interconnected with us forever.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Its' not over until the deaf kid sings.....

Chance has been in chorus this past year and has really enjoyed singing. He has had a good teacher and she has taught the kids a lot.

Chance's brother is in chorus with him and together with the other kids they have sung in at the mall, for the school and for the parents.

Chance decided to sing one of the songs he learned in chorus for the Alexander Graham Bell Speech Fair this year. It is entitled,"Be Kind to Your Parents."

Since Chance has been singing this song since January, we were confident that he would be able to sing it during the fair.

When we got together with the teacher and friend who was going to play this song, we quickly realized that for this particular song, the piano doesn't really give you the melody. The piano is more of an accompaniment and does not provide the melody. This proved to be a bit of a challenge for Chance. In chorus class, the kids had performed to a CD that, while it didn't have the melody, it was what he was familiar with; plus he had 120 other kids helping with the melody.

Since the performance was in less than a week, I tried to figure out how to help Chance with the melody. He has the words down pat and he had the rhythm. He had always had the other kids in the chorus to back him up with the melody and now, he would be expected to carry it alone.

I had the idea that maybe Chance's brother could sing the song with Chance to help him with the melody during the performance, but was a bit afraid that Chance would feel I didn't think he could do it alone, or that his brother would be stealing his thunder. I broached the idea with Chance and he eagerly nodded his head in agreement that his brother sing with him.

Chance's brother readily agreed and together they practiced with the piano. At the last minute, we were able to get the CD that the kids used in chorus and Chance seemed relieved by this fact.

The singing number was not a duet in the traditional sense, it was more of a support. Chance's brother just sang quietly next to Chance to help him stay on track with the melody.

When Chance took the stage, he introduced himself, gave the title of the song and said his brother was going to sing with him. Then he said,"I am going to sing now."

Chance's brother sang quietly beside him, happily letting Chance shine. As a mother, it filled my heart to the brim.