Monday, December 19, 2016

Hats and hearing devices

As a little boy, Chance loved wearing hats. Baseball caps and cowboy hats were his favorites and we have many pictures from his childhood that include hats.

When Chance wore hearing aids, the hats would make them buzz as the hats rested on his ears. It would drive the rest of us a little batty to have that buzzing sound going on all the time so we would adjust the hat and then a few minutes later, the buzzing would start again. Cowboy hats tended to work with the the hearing aids better than baseball caps.

I asked our audiologist once if that buzzing sound didn't drive Chance crazy too. The audiologist said Chance probably didn't even hear the buzzing so it wasn't bothering him at all.

Once Chance got implants, wearing hats wasn't really an issue anymore.

Chance wears baseball and cowboy hats now on a fairly regular basis.

I decided to ask Chance this week as he was wearing a baseball cap if hats were a problem anymore with implants, I was surprised by his answer. He said he has to put the hat over the processors and kind of adjust them or it sticks out and is very uncomfortable. He still wears hats though so it must be worth the effort.

And the implants don't squeal when he puts a hat on.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Christmas trees and raining snow

We headed up into the mountains to cut down our Christmas tree again this year.  We were dressed in snow bibs, coats and gloves, but it was one of the warmest years we've had when collecting our tree.
Chance's brother had hurt his foot so he wasn't up to hiking a long way into the wilderness so we were looking for a tree that was lower rather than higher up in the hills.

Luckily for us, we found several trees to chose from that were just a short distance off of the road. As usual, once we started looking the trees over, some had sides that were a bit bare of branches, and others had another tree growing right next to them which made the branches look fuller than they actually were. Like we always do, we eventually found a tree we all loved and hauled it down to the van.

Chance works his way into the branches of the tree to find the trunk.

We all take a turn sawing into the tree to cut it down and this year was no different.  While Chance was sawing down at the bottom of the tree, a cascade of snow started landing on him from the branches that were higher up.  He was flicking his head to try and avoid being drenched in snow. I thought I was recording the moment, but it turns out that when my daughter handed me the phone, she had turned off recording. So, we have no record except for our own memories. And this picture:

Thank goodness he had that hat.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Being tall helps you when playing the game twister.

This is Chance and his brother playing the game Twister. We had a family game night and Chance and his brother played against each other. This is a time when Chance's height is a definate advantage because he can just bend over other people to put his hands or feet on the colored spots where the dial says they need to go.
Twister is a game where you spin a dial and it tells you which color circle to put your hand or foot on. It starts out easy enough, but as the game continues, you end up getting all twisted up. Eventually one of the players can't do what the spin dial tells them to do without falling over. The winner is the one who manages to put their hands and feet on the circles the dial tells them to without falling over.
Chance had a great time playing this game with his brother. His brother won though, because Chance ended up falling over.
Better luck next time Chance!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Chance has a loud whisper

Chance was casually telling me today that one of his friends in physics class tells him regularly that he has a loud whisper.

Chance sits up at the front of the classroom and he and his friend sometimes have things they want to say to each other while class is in session. The problem is, Chance apparently has a loud whisper.  His friend is nervous that they are going to get caught talking so she will tell Chance that he is whispering really loud.

Chance said he doesn't feel like he is whispering loud, although two more friends on the row behind him can apparently hear what he is saying when he whispers.

The second problem Chance faces with his attempts to whisper, is that most of the time, he can't hear what his friend is whispering back because she is trying to be quiet enough to not get caught by the teacher.

Chance says it is actually a miracle that they haven't gotten into more trouble for talking in class since his friend regularly tells him he is whispering loudly.

I have found that both Chance and Ammon are difficult to whisper to with when you are trying to be discrete.  They just don't hear you until you are louder than you feel you want to be when whispering. If you are in church or in class where you want to whisper and not draw attention to yourself, whispering with Chance or Ammon is challenging. Chance can catch on to what you are saying with his superb lip reading skills many times.  Ammon has not developed that skill like Chance has.
I don't know why lip reading isn't helping Chance with his whispering problem in class. Maybe his friend isn't facing his direction.

Chance does best when he can communicate without having to whisper.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

It's Halloween Once Again!

This year we got to carve the giant pumpkins that we grew in our garden this summer. Chance takes his carving seriously and this year he decided to carve the Chinese symbol for devil into his pumpkin. Little Devil is Chance's Chinese name. 

Chance and I carved the pumpkin together. Okay, so Chance looked up the symbol, drew it on the pumpkin, and then carved most of it, BUT, I did help with one section of the carving. 

Chance and his sibling have been looking forward to carving these pumpkins for a few weeks now. We had a night where the temperature dipped to freezing so we picked all of the pumpkins so they wouldn't get frozen. Since we picked them, the pumpkins have been hanging out on our front porch helping to create a festive fall mood.
Halloween night found Chance and Ammon trick or treating with their siblings and friends. Ammon went out for a while and then wanted to come home when he got a bit cold and watch a Harry Potter movie.
We are so proud of ourselves for growing such big pumpkins this year. We have never had such a fine crop of pumpkins. We had big ones and little ones and medium sized ones........we are all crossing our fingers and hoping that we can grow big pumpkins successfully again next year. I really think it was the bunny poop. That stuff is great fertilizer.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Ammon has a birthday and falls in love

True love

Ammon is in love.Not with a girl, he still thinks they have cooties.  He had a birthday this week and he chose a blue remote control sports car that he fell in love with.  He was literally beaming as he walked through the store holding his car. So much so, that shoppers kept stopping to talk to him and to tell him what a fantastic car he had.
He chose the car two days before his actual birthday so he had to wait to get it out until he officially turned 11.  His face showed pure bliss as Ammon was reunited with his car after a few days apart.

Ammon at a corn maze
Ammon absolutely loves fall. I'm sure  that his birthday being this time of year has something to do with it but he also loves Halloween, pumpkins, corn and dressing up.  He tried to get our Halloween and fall decorations out in July. I had to limit him to September 1st before he could drag out pumpkins, witches and strands of leaves.
Ammon is excited about everything.  He loves all holidays and lives to celebrate whatever holiday is on the horizon. He brings a joy and festivity to life that affects all of us in the family.  He was devoted to our corn field and pumpkin patch this year and takes great pride in the huge pumpkins we grew and that now sit on our porch. When we carve pumpkins this week he will be so excited that it will be hard for him to sit still. It should be noted that this is the first year we have managed to grow corn and huge pumpkins. Ammon was a devoted caretaker for the garden and has loved the giant pumpkins since they first sprouted.
Ammon may have suddenly gone deaf a few years ago, with the hearing loss continuing to grow, but he doesn't let that dampen his love for life or hold him back.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Chance and his implant have an accident

This is Chance's implant:

This is the scooter that Chance was driving today:

Chance was driving this scooter down the road with earbuds which created a space between his implant and his helmet.  Due to this space, the wind caught hold of one of his implants and blew it off.

The fact that his implant flew off was very distressing to Chance and he started to worry that cars behind him would run it over. With Chance worrying about this, he didn't notice there was gravel where he was pulling over to, which caused the scooter to slide and fall over while moving on the road and Chance jumped off.  In an amazing turn of events, Chance managed to avoid hurting himself and the scooter.

It took Chance a few minutes to realize exactly where his implant was on the road though, and once  he could see it,  he sat with panic rising as cars came dangerously close to running it over.  Chance said a jeep wheel came within 2 inches of hitting his implant.

As Chance was trying to save his implant before it got run over, it is worth noting how well the implant blends into asphalt:

It takes a little work to pick out the implant on the road.

Thankfully, the road Chance was driving on is a road that is populated with cars but also has lulls in traffic.  Chance was able to get to his implant before it got demolished.

Thankfully, Chance is okay after the scooter slid on the road.  Thankfully, Chance was able to rescue his implant. And as a bonus, the scooter is also okay.

I think Chance may hold his implant a little closer tonight.

It never occurred to me that Chance's implant would blend so well into the asphalt.

Chance said since he realized that the ear buds created a space that allowed his implant to fall off, he won't wear them anymore when he drives the scooter.

Chance was wearing a helmet, but I think we need to get a helmet with better coverage for him.

You may wonder how Chance can even hear with earbuds on.  Though other headphones work remarkably better for him, he will sometimes drape earbuds over his ears by his microphones so that he can hear his music if earbuds fit better such as when wearing a scooter helmet.   Chance will not be using earbuds anymore on the scooter however.

I think this will give his implants greater peace of mind that his head is a safe place to ride. `

Monday, October 03, 2016

The rooster doesn't crow

Our family acquired some chickens last spring so that we could have fresh eggs.  When we got the chickens they told us we had about a 10% chance of getting a rooster They try and choose the female ones to give you, but you know how it is with baby animals......sometimes you just don't know what you got until they are a little older.

The chickens are now old enough to be laying eggs.  AND out of the seven chickens we have, two are roosters. Roosters like to crow in the morning and the first morning that happened, my husband and I lay in bed realizing that the rooster going off at 6:15 belonged to us. It was a weekend and we could only imagine what our neighbors were thinking with a rooster going off that early in the morning.  He didn't just go off once to tell everyone it was morning either. He went off over and over again.

My husband and I were quite stressed about the effect our crowing rooster was having on our neighbors. The next morning, he went off again naturally, because that is what roosters do. I was talking with my daughter about how we were probably going to have to get rid of the roosters when Ammon got a little panicky.
"WHY?"  He wanted to know.  It should be noted that that the kids all chose a chicken to call their own when we got them and the crowing rooster is Ammon's.

I tried to be sensitive to his feelings and explain that roosters are loud and that we hadn't planned for roosters.  At this point, Ammon told me matter of factly, " He doesn't crow!"

My daughter and I looked at each other and then back at him.  Of course Ammon doesn't hear the rooster crow. He sleeps quite well through the ruckus and has no worries about how the neighbors may be feeling about a rooster going off at 6:15 in the morning.

We had to really work to convince Ammon that the rooster does indeed crow in the morning.  I think he is still skeptical since he isn't hearing any of the noise. He did come sit by me as I was weeding the yard and said in a tender voice; "There has to be another way to stop the rooster. We can't get rid of him."

I gently explained that roosters are made to crow, that is what they do.

Ammon is an animal lover and he has a tender heart when it comes to animals.  We haven't totally decided what we are going to do with rooster yet.  We have talked to the neighbors that are closest to us and most affected and they all said they don't hear him or they aren't bothered by the crowing. We have also been putting him in the little chicken barn at night and then letting him out later in the morning when it is a more decent hour to crow. You don't hear him as well when he is in the little barn.

Ammon petting a sheep at the state fair

Monday, September 26, 2016

Hearing loss......again.

Chance's brother Ammon is experiencing more hearing loss.  We thought we had gotten a grip on the falling hearing loss that hit him about 2 years ago. We got the implant in one ear and just bought a new hearing aid for the other ear a few weeks ago. 
 It turns out that whatever causes the hearing loss is back. When we went in for our audiological appointment a few weeks ago, I told the audiologist that Ammon has been asking me "what" much more often lately and that he didn't seem to be hearing as well. The first thing they checked was his implant. His implant seemed to be working just fine and when we went into the hearing booth, Ammon heard well.
Then they had Ammon take his implant off and just use his hearing aid in the hearing booth. Ammon likes me to be in the booth with him when he has hearing tests so I am almost always there when they test his hearing. It is always a bit interesting for me when I am sitting in the booth listening and hearing the sentences and words coming from the audiologist through a speaker and then realizing that while I am hearing what is being said, my son is not.  At one point during this last appointment, Ammon turned to me in the booth and shrugged because he had no guesses as to what was being said. I could hear everything. I always have to put on a poker face and give no indication  if what Ammon repeats after the words or sentences is correct or incorrect. My heart sinks a little when I realize that he is not hearing what is being said or seems to be hearing less than he did before.

The loss is in Ammon's hearing aid side explains why he has been asking me what more often lately.  It is true that he has an implant, but Ammon really likes that hearing aided ear. When he first got the implant, he would turn his head so that his hearing aid was facing me if we were in a noisy environment. I think he really feels the loss of hearing in that ear. The audiologist says that Ammon is truly a bilateral kid, relying on both ears to hear.
Ammon doesn't really complain about his hearing loss or things related to it. The day before we went in to see the audiologist, Ammon mentioned that he is dizzy most of the time and that only when he is playing does he not notice it as much. I think playing with friends distracts him enough so that he doesn't feel it as much, but when he is trying to do school work, or is just sitting quietly, he notices that the dizziness is there.  At the audiologists office, Ammon also mentioned that along with dizziness, he gets headaches too. He didn't tell us this stuff was going on, and when he did mention the dizziness, I was glad that we were going in to see the audiologists because if Ammon mentioned it, that means that it really must be impacting him.
So, here we go on the journey again.  The audiologist says he thinks the hearing will just continue to fall just like his other ear did.  Ammon is already in cochlear implant range as far as hearing, but our audiologist says that we should keep the hearing aid as long as it will work because there are advantages that come with having both kinds of hearing.  So we will watch and see what happens now.  We got the hearing aid programmed to match the new loss.  We are keeping an eye on the hearing and will go back to the audiologist in the next few months to check the hearing again.  Sooner if we need to.
Right now, we just wait and see what happens. Whatever is causing the hearing loss is back again and no one knows why it is happening. We are buckling up for the journey again.  We don't know where exactly we will end up, but we know that if the hearing continues to fall, there will most likely be another cochlear implant in our future.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Water polo/soccer

We went down south this weekend to see Chance's grandparents.  There is a river by their house that the kids love to play in and this time, we had some skim boards that the kids could use to play on. We only had two boards though, so in between turns, Chance and his brother came up with a game that is a mix between soccer and water polo.

Of course Chance brought his soccer ball to the river, who doesn't? Soccer balls are really good at floating and a few times I grabbed the ball when it started to make a break for downstream.

The boys were having a great time playing the game and it was very entertaining to watch. There were goals, but it was really hard to tell where they were since we were all standing in the middle of a silt filled river. The river was a brown color from all of the sand that the water was carrying. The river is surrounded by beautiful red rocks so the sand is a reddish brown color and it seeps into everything. Your shoes and swimming suits carry home some sand whether you want them to or not.  For this reason Chance elected not to wear his implants at the river since sandy implants do not perform at optimal levels.  This made the soccer/polo game even more interesting since Chance couldn't hear, but he and his brother worked it all out.  Chance used his amazing lip reading skills and as brothers they have their own special language anyway.

The water is a very pleasant temperature and is quite shallow in most places which makes it fun to play in.

The River

The boys discuss the rules to their new soccer/polo game

Chance goes after the floating ball to catch it before it gets into his goal

Fancy footwork 

Rerouting the ball away from the goal

Chance found a friend at his grandparents house and it hitched a ride on his hoodie

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Chance as you know has been talking to the rest of us in Mandarin for a while now. The fact that nobody in the family knows Mandarin but Chance doesn't  bother him in the least.  I do have to say though, that since Chance uses certain words all of the time, sometimes I can figure out what he may be saying.  I don't think I could engage in a conversation with a native Mandarin speaker, but if they said hello to me or said goodnight, I might get the gist of what they were saying.
Chance added a new aspect to our Mandarin experience this week. I sat down and realized that Chance was watching a Chinese movie he had found on Netflix. The movie had English subtitles but Chance expressed that Netflix needed to have a better understanding of which language they decided to list.  The movie itself was actually in Cantonese but Netflix said the language was Mandarin in the explanation.  Furthermore, there were several times when the movie would show books that people were reading and the books were written in Mandarin.
Chance wanted a bit more continuity.  I made Chance turn the movie off to save for later viewing because a city was being ravaged by giant scary creatures and this was a bit intense for his younger siblings.
Maybe we should all start watching more movies in Mandarin with subtitles with Chance.  As long as the movie description is truthful about which language is being spoken and there are not scary beasts involved.

Chance finishing his Mandarin/Cantonese movie on the laptop. 

Monday, September 05, 2016

Chance can drive by himself!!

Well, it is official.  Three year old little Chance can now drive. Did I say three? Maybe it just seems like he should still be three, time just flies by so fast.

Chance feels like he has had his learners permit forever, and since his birthday is in May, many of his peers in school have had their drivers licenses already for months. It is true that Chance could have taken the driver's education class earlier, before his birthday, but it worked out in the schedule that Chance took a summer session of driver's education.  Many schools in our area offer this class as an elective that the kids can choose to take in school. Chance attends a charter school so driver's ed is not taught on campus and is instead offered by a private driving school.

Whatever route he took to get there, Chance's journey to get his driver's license is now complete. Chance has passed this rite of passage and now has the power to get himself to places without having to have a parent along for the drive. Alas, he doesn't have his own car, so he uses family cars to drive around, but he still gets in plenty of drive time. Chance now drives to school and back with his little sister, and he has a job he is working at for the next few weeks that he can get himself to and from.

Chance can also get himself to soccer practice which makes him very happy as he isn't waiting on family members to come and get him after practice.

Chance can also now drive himself and a date to places, which is an important stepping stone in a teenage boys' life.

He can also run errands to the store for his mom.  That is one of my favorite parts of Chance having a driver's license.

When we walked out of the Department of Motor Vehicle Department after Chance had acquired his license, Chance had a request.  He wanted to drive home solo.  I think he took the long way home too, as the rest of us got home long before Chance did.  He took the canyon route home. Except that you don't go through the canyon to get to our house.  Chance went past our house, and then up the canyon just so he could feel the wind on his face as he drove alone for the first time with the windows down.

When Chance got home, he said he expected to feel a lot different driving by himself. He didn't. Oh well, Chance now has some newfound independence with his ability to drive. And he loves it.

And he's off!

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Family Reunion

Summer - tis the season for long sunny days, swimming pools and family reunions.  We attended our licorice family reunion yesterday.  No one is named licorice, but as a family going back several generations, perhaps since the beginning of time, we all love licorice.  Especially black licorice.  It is in the genes.  As a manifestation of this fact, a large basket of licorice was placed on a table near the pavilion where the reunion was held and family members were able to eat at will.  There was lots of licorice in that basket, and by the end of the evening, the basket was empty. The black licorice went first of course.

Along with a love for licorice, the family loves to use the giant hill near my aunts house as a slip and slide. My aunt and uncle have access to a giant piece of plastic that they lay out down the hill.  The result is sheer bliss.  You get to ride down forever and then you hike up the hill so you can do it all again.

After  eating a picnic lunch and getting wet on the slide for a while,  the adults and several children gathered in the pavilion to hear family stories about my grandma and her siblings.  Most of them have died now, but their spirits are still strong and live on through the rest of us. I love to hear the stories about relatives and how they are just like us.  One aunt told the story of my great grandmother and how she liked to play jokes.  She lived well into her 90's so I remember her and went to her house several times while I was growing up.  She had the best toys and games for kids to play, things we didn't see anywhere else, and my cousins and I had a grand time playing in her backyard.

As everyone gathered to hear the stories, the kids would go back and forth from the pavilion to the water slide.  Ammon would come and sit next to me and listen to the stories and then head down the water slide.  He would take off his hearing aid and implant, hand them to me to hold, go down the slide, come back and listen again for a while and then go back to the slide.

At some point, Ammon got upset at his sister and came running over to the pavilion.  Ammon is not quiet when he doesn't have his devices on and as I saw him running towards me, I could tell he was upset.  I knew right at that moment, that he was going to run over to me, tell me why he was upset, and that every relative listening to the stories would hear what he had to say.  I got up to meet him so that we were a ways off from the pavilion when he expressed his thoughts to me.  He was mad at his sister, and in typical Ammon style, he was quite loud as he told me the details. Ammon does not seem to be bothered by the presence of other people when he is expressing himself when upset. He doesn't always respond to the "evil eye" either which is the look every mother gives when she is non-verbally telling her offspring to be quiet.  I was glad that I met Ammon a bit away from the pavilion so he didn't interrupt the story telling. Ammon also can't fully hear my responses when he doesn't have devices on. Chance can read my lips but Ammon has not mastered that yet.

We had a lovely time at the reunion and we also got to explain some things about implants and deafness to extended family. Our boys are the only deaf children on either side of the family.  A few of the more senior relatives on both sides have hearing aids, but that is a different ball game with different causes.

The Cannibal

This week Ammon's grandpa took him and some of his cousins to an amusement park.  It has become a yearly tradition, this visit to the amusement park.  My dad took me and my siblings each summer when we were growing up, and now as a grandfather, he takes the grand kids.

I went along to help corral little bodies this time and I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we all had a great time.

The amusement park has all sorts of rides ranging from a massive ferris wheel that takes you up way above the trees where you can look across the entire valley, to a roller coaster called Cannibal.  Cannibal as you can imagine is not for the faint of heart.  As you approach the ride there are signs all along the path that say that cannibal will eat your cell phone, wallet, sunglasses and anything else in your pocket.  In fact, you are required to leave any items in your possession in lockers off to the side of the ride before you board.

The list of things cannibal would eat did not specifically include cochlear implants and hearing aids, but employing my skills of deduction, I figured hearing devices may be in danger on this ride.  Luckily, grandpa had already taken cannibal for a ride earlier in the summer so he was willing to be "the holder" of all items the rest of us needed to have secured. This included Ammon's implant and hearing aid.  This of course meant that Ammon could not hear anything once we got in line.  I felt kind of bad about that as he missed out on conversations happening with cousins, but unlike Chance, Ammon can actually hear some things with out his hearing devices.  It is hard to know exactly what he hears, but he can hear if you are real close to him in the ear that takes a hearing aid.

On one hand, not being able to hear everything worked in Ammon's favor because his cousin and sister started expressing their reservations about the cannibal ride.  I was sitting in the middle with Ammon and Ammon's cousin and sister were on the ends.  The lap bar had just come down and locked us down so tight that we could barely feel our legs, when Ammon's cousin who is his age said:
"Why am I on this ride again?  Why did I do this? Okay, okay, I think I can do this, yes I think I can do this again."

Ammon's sister said:

"Mom, I don't know that being on the outside is safe here at the front of the car.  You should have switched me spots."

Nothing like a boost of assurance as one gets ready to embark on a ride for the first time as Ammon and I were doing.

The ride moved from the loading dock, to a sort of elevator shaft, where the car was taken up several stories and then deposited on a track high above the parking lot.  From there, the car shifts forward and a door comes down blocking the way from where you just came. You find yourself looking out across the valley high above the rest of the world for just a moment before your car turns and plunges down a long winding track at great speeds.  Ammon and I were holding hands when we went up the elevator shaft.  As we began our decent downward on the twisted track, I figured maybe we should hold onto the rails in front of us instead.

It was a spectacular ride with loop the loops where you found yourself hanging upside down and a stretch where you went through little arch's of water.

We all lived. After experiencing the Cannibal, I am thinking that taking off the implant and hearing aid was the right decision.  That would have been a loooooooong fall down to the parking lot below and I don't know that we could have resuscitated hearing devices that had experienced such an adventurous fall.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

California trip the sequel

Our family trip this summer was a visit to central California.  We have seen southern California a few times, but this was the first time for many of us in the family to see the middle part of the state.  The beaches are more rocky, and the temperature is much cooler than Southern California.  I was continually surprised at how cool it was considering it was the middle of July. 
The coast had a rugged beauty and we had a fun time exploring some of the tide pools,
meeting some intriguing creatures and watching as the tide moved in. 

Chance was a little crazy, it was a cool day and Chance is the only one who got down to his swimming suit. The rest of us wore jackets with our shorts. 

Chance actually met some students studying here in the United States from China.  One of the girls shared the same name as Chance so she wanted to get a picture with him.  Chance got a moment to practice a bit of his Mandarin too.

We all took a turn holding these little starfish.  They were beautiful.
Adorable little starfish hanging out in the tide pools. 

This little crab actually pinched Chance's brother. He kind of had it coming since he picked it up.

We did not see jelly fish at the beach, but we saw them in the aquarium.  There is something magical  and serene about these creatures when you watch them floating in the water.
I am sure that may change if you actually encounter one in the water, but watching them from a distance is calming.

Chance and I enjoying a drive down the coast.
Yes, Chance just continues to get taller. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Road trips and Redwood Trees

We went on a family vacation to central California this month.  We drove, which  meant Chance and his siblings had lots of time to bond in the car.  The kids got along really well for the most part, there were a few spats over who got to sit where as there are some coveted seats that all the kids want to sit in.  The middle seats in the van are the most popular spots to sit.  Now that Chance can drive though, his first preference is taking a turn behind the wheel.

We were able to experience many lovely things while on vacation and had a wonderful time being together as a family.  One of the highlights of our trip was when we found a little swimming hole among the giant redwood trees.   The water was cold, but since it was hot outside, it made a great place to swim and play. There was a rope tied onto a tree at the edge of the river and the kids loved swinging out and letting go so they could land in the water.

Chance and his brother in a tree by the river

Chance discovering treasures in the water.
Chance and his brother decided they should climb a redwood tree.  We heard Chance's voice from somewhere heaven word say: "It is really really high up here!"

Chance is the one with the blue shirt and tan pants.
Chance had a great time on vacation.  We had a great time watching him.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

The drive thru

Chance and I went through a drive through at McDonalds so that he could get some food before going to work.  Hearing over the speaker in the drive-thru can be difficult for Chance and he was having a hard time understanding the man asking questions.

Chance ordered one item off the menu and the drive-thru guy asked: "Is that all?"

Chance looked at me since he didn't understand what the guy had said.

I nodded my head and told him to say yes.

Meanwhile, because we were not answering right away, the guy asked again but in a different way.
"Would you like anything else with that?" I told Chance to say no.

Chance said no and then started driving to the pick- up window.  "Mom! You say yes, then no, it's confusing!"

I explained that the guy in the drive-thru kept asking questions that needed different answers.

Chance likes drive-thru's for the convenience just like everybody else, but hearing through the intercom at the drive-thru can be a challenge.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Hair cuts

You know how moms take pictures of their little kids when they get a haircut......well I took pictures of Chance getting his haircut last week.
You will notice that the front of Chance's hair is a different color than the rest of his hair.  He was  dying the front of his hair a lighter color on purpose for over a year. Then he stopped.
Apparently his hair didn't get the message.  Chance dyed the front of his hair back to the
same color of brown as the rest of his hair and all his hair was the same color again.
Now, the front of Chance's hair is going lighter than the rest of his hair---without
Chance even trying to do make it happen.
I guess we'll see what happens to his hair this summer.
Chance decided to buzz the sides of his hair and leave the top longer.


Chance has an eventful summer planned this year.  He just got back from scout camp (pictures coming soon), he has been mowing lawns and working at a print shop when they need him, he will go to a camp called Basecamp later this summer and we have a family trip planned. 
Chance is also getting ready to get his driver's license, all he has to do is get in his driving time in with an instructor. 
Chance really is quite fun to have around. He makes us laugh and he is really helpful around the house.
He is a natural organizer and is good at cleaning. Every mom could use a kid like that.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Rodeo Time!

This week we made our annual visit to the rodeo that our city holds each summer.  The kids love the rodeo and look forward to it all year long.  Chance is part cowboy.  He comes from good cowboy stock.  Many of his ancestors were farmers and ranchers and Chance has some of that flowing through his blood.  He does look pretty good in a cowboy hat and cowboy boots.  I get asked on a regular basis by the kids if we can get a horse. The answer is no, we don't have space for a horse right now.  BUT, we have made the first step in becoming ranchers by acquiring some chickens so we can get fresh eggs.
This is my bench. The chickens have taken a liking to it but I just don't know that we can share it. 

Chance says that riding a bull is on his bucket list of things to do before he dies.  He better do that particular activity while he is young.  It is an intense sport that entails a lot of stamina. As well as courage and strength with a body that can be bucked off of an animal and get back up again with at least some body parts still intact. Young bodies do that best.

Chance and Ammon checking out the bulls

These brothers want to be ranchers

Chance looks the part of a cowboy and he has cowboy blood running through his veins. We'll see where that leads him in life. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Driver's Education

We had friends visit from out of town so we took them to the zoo.  They hadn't been to the zoo in years and our zoo has really changed a lot.  A bit like Chance.....he has changed a lot too these past few years as well. The picture above shows him at the zoo sneaking up on his brother in a game of tag.  That sort of play  has been going on for years with his brother.  But Chance taking Driver's Education hasn't been going on for years.  I don't think Chance would be willing to return to school during the summer for very many subjects, but he makes an exception for Driver's Ed.  Driver's Ed is his ticket to freedom. With a license he can drive himself around and meet up with friends.  Since Chance attends a charter school, many of his friends from school don't live around us and it takes driving to get to their houses.  Chance now wants to drive every time the family gets in the car to go anywhere. If he could he would drive to the store for me just to get milk or any other item, just as long as he could drive. He can not drive alone however until he gets his license.
Chance has  wanted to spend more time with me in the car lately.  I like to think that is because he finds me charming and witty.  He also needs me in order to drive. I am sure that is not related to anything.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Rainfall on the deck

I have been living with a deaf person for a long time now so I think more about hearing and what is not being heard on a regular basis.  Every once in a while though, I realize that I am not thinking about what can and cannot be heard.

We are having a rainstorm and the window is open so you can hear the sound of the rain falling on the wood of  the back deck. There are items the kids need to put away by the window so in an effort to motivate them, I said, "Hey, who wants to clean up by the window and then we can set up sleeping bags and fall asleep listening to the rain?"

Chance piped in with, "Um, that won't help me. I can't hear rain while I sleep."
Then Chance's little brother chimed in with, "Ya, I won't be able to hear it either."

Apparently if you have deaf children, being able to listen to the rain fall while you sleep is not a good motivation.   

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Hello. I can't hear you, please try again.

We were at a store and found some shorts that we thought Chance might be interested in.  Since he keeps growing ever taller, he has outgrown most of his shorts.  You would think that shorts could just be shorter than they were the year before, but many of Chance's shorts are an awkward fit now too.
Thus, when we found shorts on sale that looked like Chance's style, we sent pictures to see if he liked any of them.  He did like them and he replied to my text with, "Yes I do!"
The only problem was, Chance had fallen asleep and we had been trying to reach him for an hour and a half by the time he responded.  We knew he was asleep when we left for the store and being deaf and all with implants off, he did not hear his phone when we called him.  By the time he responded to the text we were on our way home.
I called him to tell him that we had left the store and before I could say anything, Chance answered the phone and said, "I can't hear you. My implants are not on. Text me."
I had the thought that Chance would not be able to tell if I said OK or if I heard him, but apparently he had faith that all would just work out with out him hearing my response.
It was a little odd that he would answer the phone just so he could tell me he couldn't hear me, but it gave his dad and I a good laugh.
Chance did not get the shorts.  Maybe we'll have to go back to the store at a later date when Chance is either responding to my texts in a timely fashion, or when he can hear me over the phone when I call.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Chance is 16!

Everyone tells you when you become a parent, that time will pass by really fast and that before you know it, your baby will be all grown up.
What they say is true!

It seems like just yesterday that Chance was setting up camp in the living room with his brother....literally.  They set up their little tent by the gas fireplace and pretended to be camping. They slept inside the tent in sleeping bags and "roasted" marshmallows by the fireplace.
And then there were the little cars I would find everywhere.  Chance used our blinds in the living room window for roads and our breadbox for a garage.  There were cars spread out by the fireplace and in between the railing of the stairs.  These cars were not just randomly placed, it was all very organized. Sometimes Chance combined his cars with his train set and had a whole township.

Now there is a tall skinny teenager walking around my house, laughing a bit when I have to jump to reach something out of the top cupboards and telling me I am having "short people problems." I am not that short, it is just that Chance is so tall.
Sixteen is a big benchmark birthday. Not only will Chance be taking drivers education to officially get his driver's license, (he has a permit now and can drive in our state and a neighboring state), but in our house, sixteen is the age when you can start dating.
Chance is excited for both of these adventures.   Of course, along with driving and dating comes a need for money.  Gas and taking girls out requires some cash.  This has occurred to Chance and he is going to be looking for a job as well.  He had a good job, but the printer closed up shop so now Chance will be looking for a job this summer.  Most jobs around here require that you be sixteen to work. Chance has had jobs since age fourteen, but being sixteen will open up more jobs to choose from.
This summer will be full of driving, dates, and working. Along with swim team and soccer of course.
Let the adventures begin!

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Chance will Entertain your Date.

Chance likes to talk to people.  A few weeks ago, Chance drove with his brother to take a date home.
She lived an hour away so Chance went along to help keep his brother awake on the drive home since the date got over rather late.
The next day, Chance's brother said,"Chance talked to my date almost more than I did!"
Chance replied, "It was a new person! I just have to talk to new people I meet."

Chance at an arch during a recent trip through Southern Utah.
I wonder if the fact that she was a cute girl had any influence over Chance's behavior.  Chance is quite social and his brother has been known to complain that he waits in the car after school while Chance says goodbye to everyone in the halls. I don't know that Chance talks to EVERYONE in the halls at school, but he has blossomed into quite a little social bug who enjoys meeting new people.

We went to a park for a going away party for a friend and there was a quiet woman sitting at the end of one of the picnic tables. Since Chance is always throwing Chinese words around when he talks to me, the woman heard Chance using Mandarin and turned to me and asked,"He speaks Mandarin?" When I replied that yes he is learning the language, she told me that she moved to the United States from Taiwan when she was a girl and that she grew up speaking Mandarin in her home.  I called Chance over and he sat down and they started talking.

Chance has his moments when he is more reserved of course.  It has just been fun to watch him blossom into such a social person.  And should you need someone to talk to your date, you can give Chance a call:)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

谢谢 Xièxiè - one of the many Chinese words we've heard over and over

Chance's Chinese teacher will be moving to another state this summer. Chance is really bummed about it as he has really liked her as a teacher.  She has done a good job of getting the kids excited about learning Mandarin. Chance talks to us in Mandarin all of the time.  The fact that none of us know what he is saying doesn't seem to bother him much.  He just prattles on telling us stuff in Mandarin and chuckling when we don't know what he has said.  If Chance says something in Chinese that I feel I need to know about as his mother, I make him say it in English too.  It is a little game we play sometimes. He talks to me in Mandarin and I answer him in Dutch.  Neither one of us has any idea what the other one is saying, but the smiles and giggles say it all.
Chance's school teaches one more year of Chinese for Chance and then he will have taken all of the Chinese classes that are available.  He is excited, but now a little nervous about a new teacher.  He hopes the new teacher is as good as the one he has now.  She has been really good to work with from a parent's perspective as well, very informative and willing to work with the kids and truly desiring them to succeed. She is passionate about Mandarin and her enthusiasm is passed down to her students.
We are going to miss her.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Chance the driver

Chance is learning to drive.  He wants to drive home when I pick him up from soccer, he wants to drive to church, to the store and to any where else the family may be going.  Since Chance is taller than anyone else in the family now, he says that we all put the seat too far forward when we drive and he slides it way back when he drives.
Chance is actually a pretty good driver. He is careful and since he can't drive with out me or his father, he always goes the speed limit:)  I actually think Chance would go the speed limit even if we were not in the car with him.  He is very conscientious of what the speed limits on the roads are.  As he gets more and more comfortable with driving and can drive on his own, he may speed every once in a while.  I have heard that many teenage boys do this:) It is not worth the ticket you get and the mark it leaves on your driving record though.  We shall remind Chance of this regularly so he doesn't forget even when he is driving on his own.
For now, Chance is willing to do almost anything to drive and I enjoy my time in the car with him.  It is fun to talk to him and witness him grow and learn to do new things.  Especially when he is learning to do something that he enjoys so much.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Away in the mountains

There was no posting on the blog last week because our family was spending some time in a cabin that was in an area that was secluded enough that it didn't have any internet access without a several mile drive.

It was a difficult situation when it came to trying to turn in homework assignments, but a glorious situation for our family.  We spent a few days cross country skiing, snow shoeing, sledding, and sitting in the hot tub.  The kids built up quite a sledding hill.  The hill was there already in place thanks to mother nature, but the path was enriched and embellished by Chance and his brother.  Chance took a shovel and moved snow around so that the sledding path could start further up the hill and not lead into a tree.  Then Chance used the path as a skiing hill in his cross country skis that he brought from home.  It worked out well for him.

Chance had this to say about the cabin and I quote: "This must be what heaven is like......relaxation, miles and miles of pure country to roam in. Too bad I don't live here, or else I would be able to explore this place, know it, meet the people here."

There were bald eagles soaring overhead, and a beautiful fox that would walk right up on the side of the cabin by the window.  When the kids ran over to see him once, they scared him away, but he came back a few minutes later.  There must have been something he really liked by the cabin.

Chance took a cross country skiing break into the quiet wilderness among the trees. He was able to enjoy the solitude and openness of the lake and the clear bright sky.  It is off season for the area so we had the frozen lake and area to ourselves for the most part.  Our sledding path ended out on the frozen lake, and the tracks of our snow shoes and skis made paths across the snow covered surface.  We all loved it.

We played games as a family and had no appointments to keep except for the call of the snow outside the window. Many of Chance's friends wondered how one could survive without being able to use a computer or cell phone.  It can be done. I was glad to see that Chance was determined to bask in nature and forgo his cell phone even before we realized that receiving service at the cabin would be difficult.