Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Here is the video of the "Modern Math" skit that Chance was in at his school's Renaissance Fair last week.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chance graduates from elementary school

Chance is officially  no longer an elementary school child.  He has moved into the realm of junior high school.


Chance has transitioned before of course, like when he graduated from the School for the Deaf  and was fully integrated into a neighborhood school. 

Now, he will transition to junior high.  It is a little weird.  I think each time any of your children reach these milestones it is a time of reflection for the parents.

I don't worry too much about Chance in junior high.  He has done really well in school thus far and he is confident and secure in himself leading into this new phase.  One of the boys during the last week of school could not fulfill his role as a mathematician in the Renaissance festivities so Chance learned the lines of the joke and beautifully played Sir Issac Newton working out a math problem.  In about 10 minutes he memorized the part and then went on to perform the skit with his brother for the different grades in the school all day long.  He has confidence to go out there and try things.

Any concerns I have about Chance in junior high can be summed up as follows:  junior high school is not the most pleasant of years for most people.  Not many people I have encountered in life would go back to those junior high years given the opportunity.  Even though those years find you fully supported by your parents financially as you can't yet qualify for a job, living at home, hanging out with friends and still on the cusp of childhood.  Junior high is when many people start to get a complex about themselves because of their weight, height, clothes, and any difference they perceive.

From the first, it occurred to my husband and me that Chance's implants would always be highly visible.  Girls can kind of hide theirs with their hair if they feel the need.

Chance has never expressed any negative thoughts about wearing  implants.  In fact a few weeks ago, I tried to feel him out a little bit about how he felt about being deaf.  I just said something like,"Chance, how do you feel about being deaf?"

He paused, and I thought maybe something was going to be revealed that I had not realized before. Instead, Chance said with conviction,"It's awesome!  I can hear if I want to, and I can take my implants off if I don't."
It's awesome.  We want to keep that thought.

I have a meeting with the school Chance will be attending next year  to get a feel for things and make the school aware of Chance.  He is on an IEP (individualized education plan) and we will discuss any accommodations he may need.  Chance does not require much anymore.  He has speech, he has it written into his IEP that he can request to be tested in a quiet environment or make other modifications if needed.  He has been working with the special ed teacher at his old school on vocabulary and expression. This was at my request to try and correct some minor glitches that I wanted to try and take care of before Chance hit junior high.  She worked on just what I wanted her to and we are grateful.

With his new school, Chance will be required to read.  A lot.  This should not be hard for Chance as he loves to read, but reading what you want and reading assigned books that have hard words and that make you have to really think is another thing.

The school uses mostly classic books which I love.  It also means that some of those books have different vocabulary and are not written the same way books are today.  The wording and the expression are not familiar in our society.  Once the books are read, Chance will have a class where they discuss the books, flesh them out and really think about them.  I love this aspect too.  This all just means that Chance will have to read fast and comprehend deeply so that he can discuss and debate what he has read with his peers.

I want to give Chance a leg up on this so I have acquired the book list for next year from Chance's assigned counselor at school and I will read them over the summer.  Some of the books I am already familiar with, some I am not.  I figure if I read them and can discuss them with Chance too, it can only help.

I am thinking of having Chance read the books this summer and get a feel for them so he will already be familiar with the material and can dig deeper when he is assigned the books in school next year.  Some of the books will be easier to read than others so I may not have him  read the easier ones during the summer. The boy should have some fun this summer and have time to read whatever pleases him or catches his eye.  I envision long summer days and good books as part of our summer plan.

This is the list of books that I know of so far:

"The Hiding Place":, by Corrie Ten Boom(one of my favorite books)
"The Home Ranch,:by Ralph Moody(another favorite)
"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"
"The Bronze Bow"
"Greek Gods and Goddesses"
"Children's Homer"
"Tales from Shakespeare"

I am excited to begin my summer reading list. 

Here is Chance's skit from the Renaissance Fair at school. Quite cleaver I thought.  Kudos to the Drama teacher who made this fair highly entertaining and gave the kids some great memories.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chance turns 12

Chance and his Mom blow out the candle at his birthday dinner date with his Mom and Dad
It is hard to believe, but Chance has just turned 12.  TWELVE!  People tell you all the time that your children grow up so fast and to enjoy the moments you have with them.  Why just yesterday Chance was born and now he is 12 years old!  Thankfully, we don't have to worry about him empty nesting yet, but it is still hard to believe that we are looking at 12.... and junior high next year.
Chance at Two - Before we knew he was deaf

Chance at his 5-year-old birthday party
Some birthdays are milestones.  When you turn 5, you start kindergarten.   In our church you get baptized at the age of 8.  At 12, you usually graduate from elementary school and enter the wider world of junior high school.  In our church at age 12, a boy also receives the Priesthood and becomes a deacon.  As a deacon the boys have certain responsibilities to perform.  Setting up chairs in the morning before the congregation arrives for Sacrament Meeting.  Passing the sacrament to the congregation during the meeting and collecting fast offerings once a month.  Fast offerings are collected on fast Sunday which is usually the first Sunday of the month.  Members of our church fast for two meals which accomplishes two things:  One, members have the opportunity to focus on spiritual things, perhaps praying for a certain blessing or for others.  Two, the money that would have been spent on the two meals is given to the church to use for those in need.  The deacons collect this money and give it to the bishop.
Chance shows off a present at 7!

Chance has been looking forward to becoming a deacon for a while.  His older brother is a deacon and today the boys were able to pass the sacrament to the congregation together for the first time.  Chance did a great job and caught on quickly to the simple system the boys use to ensure that everyone receives the sacrament in a reverent and timely manner.  You have to have a system when you have over 300 people to get to:)
Photo from Chance's birthday invite at 6 - can you guess the theme?

Chance being silly at school on his 8th birthday

Chance when he was 9
As far as junior high goes, I don't know that Chance has an opinion on that topic yet.  He will be starting a new school in the fall that serves grades 7-12, so if everything works out well, he won't have to transfer schools again until he graduates from high school and moves onto college.  His brother will be attending the same school.

Picking raspberries at 11
Excited to receive a book from his grandparents for his 12th birthday.
I don't know that Chance sees entering junior high as a big deal right now.  Maybe I should pick his brain a bit to see how he is feeling about things, but for now,  he is just counting down the days (there are now 5) until his summer vacation begins.  His 12 year old summer, full of adventure, free time, his first week-long scout camp, and oh so many great plans!  Chance has fish to catch, camping to do, friends to play with and bunnies to catch.  He just caught a presumably wild bunny tonight, which looks remarkably like the pet a family the next street over lost.   I hear the chase to get the bunny was quite the adventure  and Chance and his cousin had a great time outsmarting that bunny to snag him. Even if it turns out the bunny is not a wild jack rabbit as Chance and his cousin trumphantly announced to us all upon returning from their catch, the experience was thrilling judging by the boys heavy breathing and glowing faces. Chance's 12 year old summer of adventure has already begun.

old summer full of adventures has already begun.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Time Capsule

Nestled at the very back of a desk drawer, in an index file box, I discovered a forgotten treasure from when Chance was first diagnosed.

At first, the index cards that fell out and drifted to the floor puzzled me.  Card after card full of names of neighborhood children,  Disney characters and movies, and the names of various family members plus some of Chance's favorite foods.

Then the light went on in my brain and I realized, these were the cards I had made to use with Chance when he was diagnosed as being deaf.

This box represents Chance's world at the time of diagnosis. Kids he interacted with in the neighborhood, Disney characters since we were planning a trip to Disneyland, foods he liked, and the names of aunts, uncles and cousins that Chance would be interacting with.

Chance gets fitted with his very first hearing aids
Each card was a piece of vocabulary that would make Chance's life easier and more enjoyable if he could give names to the things he was interested in and the people he saw.

Chance and I would go through that box of words representing Chance's world to familiarize him with his surroundings. 

Our neighborhood is full of children and it was not uncommon for us to have six to ten extra kids playing over here at our house.

It  occurred to me that Chance did not know the name of these kids and we needed to give him names to help him feel more apart of the group.

Then there was the day Chance started requesting to see the movie,"Putta Putta," Chance was not really into movies at all, so it was surprising that he was so insistent that I put one on for him.  I had absolutely no idea what that movie could be.  Chance was insistent and started getting quite upset when I could not understand what he wanted. In fact, on that day, Chance had been running from one appointment to another and he was just tuckered out.  He needed someone to understand what he was saying and to let him relax. So he started to sob when I could not get the movie he was telling me to get.

Waiting for the earmolds to dry.
I ended up pulling out each movie case one by one and holding it up so Chance could give input.
It turned out the movie he wanted was "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."  To be fair to me, who could have guessed that would be the movie with the information given?  I was reminded of this incident when the index card marked Chitty Chitty Bang Bang  drifted to the floor when I opened the drawer.

It was like opening a box full of memories.  Chance's own time capsule.

It is now a precious little box to me full of memories and feelings I felt at the time.

It is also a reminder of how far we have come from those early days of diagnosis.

I could not have wished for a better outcome.  Chance now knows the name of more kids in the neighborhood than I do.  He can easily tell us what movies or foods he likes and as far as the relatives go,  besides the name Robert, which comes up 7 times in my husband's immediate family,  Chance has things pretty much covered.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Ignorance is bliss

Chance is constantly discovering new words to add to his ever-expanding vocabulary.  He loves to read which opens up a wondrous treasure of words to discover.  I love to see him expand his horizons and come to me with a conspirital air to share with me what is happening in the latest Harry Potter book he is reading.  He has passed the spot where his brother is reading and his brother does NOT want any of the plot to be given away so Chance and I have "secret discussions", whispering to each other about the latest happenings in the book.

Chance can often be found at night, a book propped up covering his face,  reading in blissful silence as his implants have been set aside creating his own silent oasis.  He will sometimes read for a few hours before bed. Who needs sleep when there are books to be delved into?

I love it. Except the going to bed really late part.

This past week, Chance came to me as I was doing laundry to ask some questions about some words he wasn't sure about.

The first words were "cock and bull", taken right out of his Harry Potter book.  I told him what it meant and Chance nodded and said, " That is what I thought it meant. I shouldn't say that though, right?"

We discussed how this was not a phrase that Chance should incorporate into his vocabulary but he now knew what it meant and this helped him verify that he got the meaning in the book.

The next word was PO'd.  Chance explained that he had been outside playing with friends, when one of the boys started to ride Chance's younger brothers bike.  'You better not ride that or my brother will be PO'd," Chance had said.

"What does PO'd mean mom?"  Chance asked me.

I found it cute that Chance had used a word, then cared enough to realize that he didn't know exactly what the word meant,  and wanted to find out.

"PO'd means pissed off, which is like saying ticked off.  It is not a nice way of saying it though, so you don't want to use that word."

Chance nodded and then started walking away.

"Chance", I called out to him,"Piss means pee."

Chance's face screwed up into an expression of disgust and unbelief.

"I AM SO NOT USING THAT WORD!"  Chance said.  He sounded like he meant it too.