Sunday, August 30, 2015

School starts again despite the fact that Chance feels summer should not be over yet.

Chance has started school again and he is so excited. He actually thinks that he got ripped off and that summer should have lasted longer, but what kid hasn't felt that at the beginning of a new school year?

Chance had big plans to take a ZUMBA class for P.E. but alas, ZUMBA and Chinese 3 are taught the same hour so he had to choose.  I think Chinese will be more beneficial in the long run, though Chance probably really would have enjoyed ZUMBA.  Chance likes to get his groove on.  Chance will have to take another P.E. class next semester.

Chance has a full schedule like usual.  He is taking math, English, history, chemistry, Chinese, health, drawing, and seminary(a religious studies class). His health class is a concurrent enrollment class which means that he is taking a college level health class that will give him college credit.  Guess which class he is the most nervous about?   DRAWING!  Chance says he does not feel that he can draw very well so this is the class that he is most concerned about right now.

His chemistry class is loaded with some of his good friends including several from the soccer team.  I hope Chance can focus sufficiently in that class:)

We bought some implant batteries that were less expensive than most of the other batteries.  (We had been told by a reputable CI user that they worked well for implants; turns out they were hearing aid batteries, that don't have enough power for implants, but we thought we'd give them a try.)  At first we thought we had gotten a great deal, but alas, we have discovered that these batteries fall under the category that you get what you pay for.  They only last for about 3 hours.  These batteries are therefore not Chance's favorite.  We will be ordering more tomorrow so that Chance does not go crazy trying to keep his implants up and running.  (He ran out of the better ones and so has to fall back to these less powerful batteries until new ones arrive.)

Paying a bit more for batteries is obviously worth it in this case.

(On another note on implant batteries:  When buying the disposables, we have always bought the "recommended" PowerOne brand batteries.  The last time we needed to order, we actually ordered a variety pack to try several different brands, and tracked their life and performance.  Turns out the winner - at least for Chance's use - is the ZeniPower brand - they cost about 30 % less, and last about 30 % longer.  So that's the brand we'll be buying again tomorrow).

We learned this week that insurance companies will pay for pacemaker batteries but not implant batteries because implant batteries are outside the body and not inside the body.  The fact that the implants are implanted inside the head apparently does not matter since the batteries are on the outside.  It is exhausting just thinking about how insurance people come up with some of these rules. I will have to dedicate an entire post to that issue on another day.

Meanwhile, class is in session and Chance is gathering with friends he has not seen all summer and getting ready to further his high school career. He is also wondering when he is going to get his drivers license permit, but that will be another topic that we discuss in another post:)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The fine art of flirting with Chance

So, how does a girl flirt with Chance if she feels so inclined to do so?

Why she takes his implants off of course!

Chance got a shy little smile on his face when I asked him about it and he said he didn't mind when the flirter made her flirter moves.

This flirty girl who takes Chance's implants off is most likely highly attractive and this fact no doubt helps keep Chance's angst down when she takes off his ears.

I need to probe deeper into this situation.  What class is this girl in?  Chance needs the use his ears really bad in math, English. science, history, Chinese and health.  Perhaps drawing is a class he can loose his ears in? He can just watch what the other students are drawing and try to follow?

He can perhaps read the teachers lips if he is sitting up close enough to her while she teaches the class.  But if the flirty girl is in drawing class and she is really cute and smiles while she takes his implants off, I doubt that Chance's focus will be on reading the teachers lips. Even if the girl isn't smiling, I bet Chance isn't giving his teacher his full attention.

Hmmm, I need to figure out what class this girl is in and how long exactly it takes to flirt when taking off implants.  Are the implants off of Chance's head for 1 minute, 5 minutes, 20 minutes?

Call me old fashioned and out of touch, but I have no idea what the protocol is when one is flirting by removing implants.

But I can tell you that Chance does not seem to mind.  Not yet anyway.  Like I said, this girl is most likely highly attractive.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Yellowstone before school

Sulfur hot spot
Our family decided to take a family trip to Yellowstone before school starts again.  We have relatives that live up in the area as well, so we were able to visit with family as well as visit one of the world's most incredible natural wonders.

Yellowstone is full of bubbling cauldrons of water and gasses from the inner belly of the earth.  Some smell better than others since there is a definite sulfur smell that surrounds some of the "hot spots" and the earth mixes some amazing colors into the whole mix as well.
The famous falls of Yellowstone Grand Canyon

We swam in a heated river that sometimes ran hot, and sometimes ran cold. The trick was to find a comfy spot of warm.  Chance and his siblings had a great time riding down the current of the river and enjoying the beauty of their surroundings.

My brain has an interesting process that it has to go through now that I have two deaf children.  When we are at places where implants and hearing aids are taken off, I find myself addressing this question each time I need to talk to one of my children,"Can this child hear me? Oh, yes that is right, this child hears me just fine here in the river."
"Can this child hear me? Nope, this is one of my deafies and I am going to need to reach out and touch them, have someone else in the family touch them or wave my arms like a crazy lady so they will look at me."
If the deaf child is Chance, he can read lips like a professional and so if you can just get close enough to him, he will be able to know what you are saying.
His brother does not have that skill and so we need to get really close to his less-deaf ear on the right side, lean in close and tell him what we need to say.

We can use some sign language with Chance, but his brother's hearing loss is new, and he doesn't know any sign language.  He will most likely start learning some this fall.

Yellowstone is full of bison.  Huge, 3500 pound animals that are massive, majestic, and sometimes mean if they think you are messing with them or they feel threatened.

Chance's dad and I witnessed a bison venting frustration when we visited Yellowstone before we had children.  Just as we entered the park, we stopped in the road because the van in front of us was stopped.  Several children were out of the van and down by the river where a bison was hanging out.  They wanted to get a picture of the bison, and they wanted him to be facing them,so they threw a rock to get his attention.  The bison did not take this action very well.  He charged up the small embankment after the kids who barely made it into their van.  The bison then proceeded to slam his body against the van causing it to rock back and forth.

Needless to say, we have had a healthy respect for these powerful animals ever since.  Bison do not usually just charge people and Yellowstone has millions of visitors a year that never see a bison charge anyone.  It is just wise to have a good healthy respect for all of the animals in the park and keep a good healthy distance.

This year, we had a close encounter with a bison.  We were down by the river next to the bridge where cars and pedestrians can cross over.  There is a path down by the river and the kids saw a ranger and walked over to ask him about where bears live in the park.

During our conversation, a bison decided to cross right down the middle of the bridge.  Cars and people froze in place and just let him cross.  He was huge, and was capable of running much faster than any of us mere mortals can run.

I started to run to catch  my younger children who were headed to the bridge and began to call out to Chance and his siblings who were all spread out on the bridge and pathway.  Chance's brother was actually on the bridge as was his sister.  Chance was off to the side, and Ammon and his sister were by me and their dad.  The ranger hurried up to the bridge saying something like, "Four years of college to play traffic control for a bison."  He helped keep the mood light. The ranger stood up on the bridge helping the people on foot and bikes safely navigate around the wondering bison.

When I caught up to my younger children, I told them that we were going to wait right down by the path and not get any closer to the bridge.  The ranger told them he thought this was a great idea as he passed us on his way up to the bridge. The ranger also told me that the bison might come down onto the path because there was a hill next to it that the bison liked to climb up.  I moved the kids away from the hill and we waited and watched to see where the bison would decide to go.

The bison started walking toward Chance's older brother who was on the bridge.  The bison got to about 6 feet away from him.  It was a tense moment for both Chance's brother and the ranger. The ranger told Chance's sister that she may need to slip under the benches running along side of the bridge since she was small enough but to wait until he told her to go.  The suggested distance to be from a bison is 30 yards.  More if possible.  They can run 30 miles per hour.

The bison choosing the trail over us
The bison crossed the bridge and then started down the stairs that led down to the path.  There we were, just watching him and trying not to get in his way.  I stood with my kids who thankfully just stood still next to me.  The ranger told us to move a little to the right so that the bison would have a clear shot to the path on the hill that the bison like to use.  My younger kids were more to the right with their dad, as was Chance when the bison just stopped to have a look around.  I was standing kind of off a little apart from the others as I had not made it as far a they had before the bison got so close to us.  The bison just stood there, as if surveying the scene, and then he turned his body toward me.  I was over closer to the river than the path on the hill. We just sat and looked at each other for a few seconds while he decided what he was going to do. I felt pretty calm considering the situation, though my mind started to wonder if I was going to need to run should he charge. I looked at his beautiful big brown eyes and waited to see where he was going to go for those few seconds,  then he just swung his massive head around and headed up the path the ranger said he might take.
Chance playing around at Gibbon Falls

It was an amazing experience.  The ranger told us afterward that he thought the bison was going to go for Chance's older brother who said that he was seriously getting ready to jump off of the bridge into the river if the bison walked any closer to him. We are grateful that there was an experienced ranger there to help us stay calm and safe.  We are grateful that no one in the family got hurt and amazed that we got such a close up look at such an amazing creature.  We made a memory that will last a lifetime.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

This is how Chance does Hawaii

Chance chill'in in Manoa Falls in the rainforest of Hawaii

Chance now thinks he is a native Hawaiian.  He has lived on the island for 4 weeks and has made INCREDIBLE friends.  Fellow students at the language camp that kept talking about how they did not know how they were going to go on without each other.  The kids knew that they would not be seeing much of each other after camp because the kids are from all over the United States.  His roommate is from New Jersey, Another friend is from California and yet another from Texas.

The teachers of the camp said that they had never had a group of kids all bond as closely as this group did.  In past camps there would be kids that "clicked" naturally but the 20 kids this year all bonded together and had an incredible, unforgettable experience together.  Chance said the kids all laughed at the end of camp because most of them had been worried that they would arrive to camp and find a bunch of nerdy kids.  The competition was tough this year to get in and the kids who attended the camp had impressive credentials. I don't know exactly how the kids were chosen, but they were all relieved in the end to realize that the other kids attending camp had much more in common with them than they had thought.  And it was quite a lively bunch judging from the video that was made showing aspects of the camp. The kids were all involved and meshed in the experiences offered during camp. There was lots of smiling, activities  and interacting with other campers.  Chance can also now do a wicked kick after practicing martial arts for an hour each day.
At the closing dinner on the last night of camp, the teachers have traditionally handed out Hawaiian chocolate covered macadamia nuts to those students who have really excelled during camp.  This year they couldn't choose just the traditional 2 to 3 students who had really been superior as all of the kids had done so well.  So all of the kids got chocolates.  It is my understanding that this has not happened before.  Chance was truly part of a wonderful group of kids at camp who are now all dear friends.
Many of Chance's friends admitted to him that when they first realized that he was deaf and wore implants, they didn't know how he was going to make it through the rigorous language camp.
Chance catches one of the littlest crabs ever

Chance enjoys a hike through the rain forest
I have noticed that Chance is a bit more adventuresome with food now.  He has always been a little leery of seafood, but he was immersed in some Chinese culture at camp along with learning the language, so he was exposed to lots of new foods.  Although he didn't like all of the new food he tried, he liked a good amount of it and now he is more open to trying different kinds of foods.
He has also been making his way around for a month more independently than ever before, having to find time to fit laundry in between attending classes, finding his way around an entirely different place, working with new people from around the country and experiencing new things that he has never experienced before.  Chance has a confidence about him and his abilities to take on new situations.
Chance has also been listening to many different accents.  For those who are deaf and hard of hearing, this fact will resonate with you. Hearing through accents can be a challenge sometimes.
 Chance also did a great job of staying within his budget:)  Chance worked mowing lawns this spring and summer to earn spending money for Hawaii and he was able to get some great souvenirs along the way, but he also spread his money out over the entire trip. He was careful and wise in his spending and I am proud of him.  There were many things that he could have bought that he chose to pass on.

Chance learns the hula at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Chance and his warrior tattoo. It was temporary, but it was cool while it lasted.

Performers at the sea life park

Hanauma Bay, where Chance went snorkeling among the fishies and coral reef

A little piece of Hawaii

Chance plays at the beach

Chance said that there were wild chickens all over Hawaii.  Who knew? 

The pina colada drink in a pineapple that Chance enjoyed very much.  
Dancers in the boat parade at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Pali Lookout,,,,,,a perfect place to get a good view of the island. Chance said it was really windy the first time he went.

Chance now has an official certificate saying that he has received 90 hours of language instruction during his time at language camp.  He has done a full year's worth of language in 3 weeks.  This puts him in Chinese 3, instead of Chinese 2 at school. 
I think Chance has proven to the skeptics that he is capable of learning a tonal language, implants and all.  It was exhausting at times, and Chance worked really hard, and he has done it.
Chance can now officially say that he is capable of doing hard things.
He also thinks that he can say that he is a native Hawaiian.