Monday, September 18, 2017

The Fair

We have an annual tradition of going to the state fair. Each fall we head up one afternoon right after school and spend the evening enjoying the animals, rides and food. This year the kids found some new friends.

Chance also rode a mechanical bull for the first time at the fair this year.  As he climbed the platform to get on the "bull," we asked him if he wanted us to hold his implants while he rode. He immediately said "no."  They play music with a good beat as you ride a mechanical bull, so maybe it was good that Chance kept his implants on. Good motivation. Chance did really well riding that steel bull.  He stayed on for a while and tried to keep the cowboy stance as he rode....squeezing his legs onto the bull and holding his weight back with his hand in the air.  His legs were sore when he got off, but this ride was not his only ride. He will try it again.  And then probably again.
The implants stayed on like champs through out the ride too.
Overall, it was a successful day at the fair. And Chance fit right in with his cowboy hat.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Chance finds a new toy

While we were up watching the eclipse, we had lunch with some friends. These friends also had a four wheeler that they let Chance drive.  Chance has taken the test to drive the four wheeler but we don't have one of our own, so he doesn't get out much.

Chance's brothers and sisters all wanted a ride and so Chance made the sacrifice of going on several rides so that they all got a chance to go.

On the way home, Chance told us that we needed to get a four wheeler of our own. A few days before that, Chance told us that we needed to get a horse of our own. I am sensing a transportation theme. I told Chance that it could be just like the old days, when kids rode horses to school.  Chance thought that was a fabulous idea. It would be a hard endeavor logistically to use a horse to get to school because there are some main roads to travel that don't have a horse lane and there is no place to put a horse on the school grounds unless you count the grassy spots around the school.

But a boy can dream.

This picture looks like Chance has lots of arms and hands, but it is just his sister and her friend behind him after he gave then a ride.

Monday, August 28, 2017

We saw the eclipse!

Like many other people across the world, we drove up to Idaho to see the eclipse.  There were other places to go besides Idaho of course, we actually could have stayed right where our house is and we would have seen the eclipse, but we wanted more. We wanted as much time of totality as possible, and we have family up north, so we loaded up the van and headed up the highway.

Our family has been looking forward to this eclipse for about two decades. We always knew that we would be in Idaho when it happened if it was at all possible.  I can not even explain how extraordinary the experience was. We had 2 minutes 10 seconds of totality and it was incredible. It started to get cooler as the moon moved in front of the sun, and I actually ended grabbing a sweater from the car. It also started to darken up, but it felt and looked a bit surreal. It was like dusk was coming and the sun was setting. The colors in the sky were the same you see in the evening as the sun starts to set except there was blue too. When the moon moved in front of the sun, it was simply incredible. It didn't just look incredible, it felt incredible.  My pictures from my phone don't even begin to so it justice, but frankly, my main concern was not getting a picture. I was busy being in awe and enjoying what was happening.
Chance and Ammon were so excited to be up in Idaho watching the eclipse with friends and family.

Little moon shapes on the ground made by the light coming through a tree.

We traveled up two days before the actual eclipse to visit family and Chance took some pictures as we drove around the valley. It was his kind of place, farm fields, wide open spaces and a small population.
Chance found a friend crawling across the road

Chance and his new buddy.

Chance taking pictures of a bird of prey

The fabulous road Chance and I drove down

Monday, August 14, 2017

River noises and camping with a cowboy

We decided to go camping more this summer.  We have decided that during summers of the past, but we really made it happen this summer. We bought a new tent and made reservations in advance so that we were really committed to go. It has been wonderful being in the mountains, listening to the mountain stream and being among the trees.

We cooked over an an open fire, made meals from scratch and just got to enjoy each other's company.  One afternoon when we had planned to go to the reservoir, it started to rain, so we ended up sitting in a circle in the tent playing games.

It was in the tent that I realized that what we thought of as a cheery gurgling sound coming from the river, was hindering Ammon's ability to hear in the tent. When he asked "what" several times, I asked him if his implant was working as well as usual. He said yes, but that the sound of the river was making it harder to hear.

The river wasn't actually right next to the tent, it was down at the bottom of a ravine that was behind our campsite. For those of us without hearing aids and implants, it was a background noise that came into focus every once in a while. Apparently, for Ammon, it was enough sound to hinder how well he heard in the tent.

Chance came up and joined us after work and found the hammock calling to him. He hung his cowboy hat on a branch, and climbed in for little rest.

Sleeping cowboy

Add caption

Monday, July 24, 2017

Implant Missing in Action

When we took our family vacation to California last summer, we never could have guessed that we would be returning this summer for a second go around. But a family member decided to get married and the marriage took place in California, so we loaded up the family and headed to the west coast once again.

This was a marvelous opportunity to see some of the places we saw last summer as well as to see some new spots. The wedding took place in Oakland in the Oakland Temple.

We were staying with friends in San Francisco the night before the wedding and as we drove the 45 minutes to the temple, something happened in the backseat of our van. The two kids involved have slightly different stories as to what occurred, but the result was that Ammon's implant was knocked off of his head. This in and of itself is not that strange as the implants come off at times, but what was weird about the situation, is that we couldn't find the implant for the next 24 hours.

We got to the temple just in time for the wedding since we hit some traffic en route, and we had Chance park the car and take the kids to a neighboring church as the ceremony was only for adults. We reminded Chance that he and the kids were supposed to meet us at the entrance to the temple in about an hour for pictures. We felt confident that the implant would be found once the van was parked and everyone could look around the seats. When we met up with the kids for pictures however, the implant had still not been found.

Chance's dad went out to the van and looked all around in between pictures, but couldn't find a clue as to where the implant had gone. Ammon did not appreciate not being able to hear very well and I don't blame him.  We ended up taking the wedding pictures, eating at the luncheon and attending the reception that evening all without an implant (despite a couple more full-car-inspections). Poor Ammon. We looked and looked all over the place and could not find his implant anywhere. It gave Ammon a headache having to strain to hear, and he wanted to go back to our hotel.

The following morning as we packed up to head back home, we still hadn't found the implant. We were at a loss as to where it could have gone. Just as we were leaving the hotel, Ammon's sister was rummaging around in her backpack when she found the missing implant. It had somehow bounced into the backpack on our drive the day before.

We were elated to meet that little implant again. Ammon most of all naturally. Thankfully, he had had the implant during most of the vacation as the wedding was on the last day that we were in California.

Our family loves implants.

The Golden Gate Bridge as fog rolls in

Giant Redwood Trees

Cowboy(aka Chance) in a redwood tree

Ammon bonds with a giant redwood tree

Monday, July 03, 2017

Camping with Chance

Our family went camping up in the mountains this week. If you are going camping, you really want Chance to come with you. He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys doing things like making a fire and maintaining it, putting up hammocks, putting up tents and exploring the great outdoors.

Chance decided to forgo sleeping in the tent and opted instead to sleep out under the stars.  Chance may not hear the morning sounds while camping, like birds chirping, the river gurgling or the sound of trees rustling in the wind like the rest of us, but he is awakened by the light. Deaf or not, you can not avoid the light from the rising sun when sleeping outside.

While I lay in the tent going in and out of sleep early in the morning, I heard a sound that I figured what either soft rain falling or a fire crackling. When Chance unzipped the tent and announced that he had a fire going so we could come out now, I realized that it was indeed a fire. I was hoping the sound was a fire because that would mean warmth. It was about 44 degrees when we woke up.

Me and Chance's little sister made our way to the camp chairs around the campfire and started warming up while Chance made hot chocolate. That is right, he starts fires and makes hot chocolate for you in the morning which makes him an excellent camping buddy. And a good fine son.

Chance got the morning rolling for the rest of us, and then after breakfast, he headed down the canyon to work. Chance is taking some time off later in the summer so he couldn't spend the entire day in the mountains, but he packed in a lot of activity while he was there.

He brought up his mountain bike and did some exploring. He also got down to the bathroom faster than the rest of us. Chance made popcorn over the fire and spent some time enjoying the view from the hammock.  You could hear the stream quite well from the hammock if it was quiet.

Chance proved himself to be an invaluable camping buddy and we may need to make sure that we never go camping without him as long as he lives. Having someone who will get up and make a nice warm fire for you to come out to, is worth their weight in gold when the temperature is nippy in the morning. Plus, he is a fine conversationalist.
Making popcorn over the fire

View from the hammock

The fire Chance and his sister built
Chance tries to save a wounded butterfly

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Captions in the Morning

This morning Chance and I were the first ones awake.  I came out into the living room to find Chance watching television. I sat down in the rocking chair and started watching along with him. It was only after a while when I had a question about a character in the show that I realized that Chance and I were watching the television in silence.  When I asked Chance my question, he didn't answer and I realized that he didn't yet have implants on. I had just sat down and started reading the subtitles like Chance does. I wasn't even thinking about the lack of sound. It was probably because it was first thing in the morning and I was still tired. I have to admit there was a certain peacefulness in not having sound first thing in the morning. I had to pay much closer attention to what I was watching and if I glanced away for even a moment, I missed what the characters were saying, but I have learned how to read the subtitles and take in the scenes on the television screen really fast. Living with Chance has helped to broaden my skill set.

Chance scores really high marks on reading abilities when he is tested in school. I think all of the caption reading he does has helped build up that skill!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Girl Who Didn't Believe That Chance Is Deaf.

We had cousins come visit and we got to do some really fun stuff together.  We went to a water park in the area about three times last week to play in the water. Chance took off his implants, bypassing the need to track them in the rolling waves of the wave pool and while shooting down tubes with jetted water.

Chance and his cousin communicated just fine together using Chance's amazing lip reading skills. His cousin would tap Chance if he wanted to get his attention and then face him as he talked. The boys laughed and had fun all day long.

At one point during the day the boys  came to the top of a slide where a teenage girl, who was an employee at the water park, was giving instructions to people before they went down the slide. Chance's cousin explained that Chance was deaf, but that Chance would watch the girl as she spoke so he could see what she said. When Chance could figure out what she was saying, she looked skeptical. The boys came back to where the family had set up for the day laughing.

Chance's cousin said,"I don't think that girl believed us that Chance was deaf. We told her, but then Chance read her lips and she wasn't sure how to take it. She thought we were messing with her. "

Poor girl, two teenage boys inform you that one of them is deaf and then he figures out what you are saying and it looks fishy. She probably gets all kinds of slack from people all day.

It is weird for people to see how well Chance can read lips. He doesn't always get it right, but he is really good and throws people off when he tells them he is deaf. When Chance doesn't get it right, it can be really amusing.

So to the poor girl at the water park who is wondering if the boys were trying to mess with her head by telling her that one of them was deaf: He really is deaf, but I can see how you would be confused.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Schools out for summer!

The last few weeks have been very busy. We have had family come to stay with us which means that we get to be with cousins!

Perhaps the thing that everyone is most excited about is the fact that school is now officially over for the summer. Chance was working hard getting ready for finals the last few weeks of school and now he has his whole summer spread out before him.

Ammon has been ready for summer for weeks now and is glad to have endless days of sunshine. Mother Nature has been a bit finicky this year, so some days have been warm and sunny, and other days have been cool.

We did get our garden in this year and Ammon is eagerly waiting to see how our corn grows. We have had mixed results with corn through the years. Sometimes it grows really well and other times it kind of flops.  Last year was a great year for our corn.  Ammon used our secret weapon of bunny poop for fertilizer.  Ammon dutifully collects the waste in a bucket and we dry it out. Then he spreads it over our corn patch and garden. Another one of Ammon's favorites activities is growing pumpkins. Last year we got some really big ones that we used to decorate our porch and then carved faces and designs into them for Halloween. We have two varieties that we are testing this year. Last year we grew Big Max pumpkins and this year we have those again, along with Big Bonnie pumpkins. We will see who grows the bigger pumpkins, Max or Bonnie.

Chance had a good soccer season. His team did not make the finals which is always kind of a let down, but he felt he played well this year. He will start his summer league team soon. Chance can never get enough soccer.

Ammon is getting ready for tennis and swim lessons.


\Chance enjoying nature,

Monday, May 08, 2017

EHDI Conference

The annual EHDI conference (Early Hearing Detection and Intervnetion), was held in Georgia and I got to attend. It is a great meeting that brings all sorts of professionals and parents together who are committed to sharing information and learning about how to best help children who are deaf and hard of hearing.

It is always good to meet with other parents who have children with hearing loss, people who are on the path with you as you navigate the world of hearing loss or deafness. Many of the professionals also have children who have hearing loss which only increases their passion to get kids what they need.

I have been involved with issues relating to childhood hearing loss and deafness for years now. Chance brought me into this world and I am continually amazed at the incredible people I meet and get to know. I am so grateful for those who are so dedicated to helping children who are deaf. There are people who have helped our two sons in everything from getting hearing aids and implants, to teachers and others who helped us on our journey and they will forever have a special place in our hearts.

I look at Chance and how far he has come from the early days of his diagnosis of being deaf. He went from a child who had to be taught to listen and respond to his own name to learning Mandarin. I am grateful for the journey, for the things I have learned and the things I have felt. Having a child with hearing loss opens up your heart in new ways and you see the world a little differently. I am more aware that people are on journeys that we may not understand and so being kind and withholding judgement is critical.

My two deaf sons have taught me a lot and have opened up a world to me that I would not know about without them. I love them, and am thankful for all the people, teachers, audiologists, speech therapists, doctors, other professionals and friends who have come along with us on this journey. There are some very dedicated people out there who are full of love for the deaf children that they serve.
My boys

Monday, April 17, 2017

Dying Easter Eggs

We got down to business dying Easter eggs this past week. It is always fun to get out the colors and see what we can create.
Chance and Ammon took the task of dying Easter eggs seriously.  There are color combinations to perfect and sayings that can be written on eggs with crayon so that the dye will color the egg everywhere but where the writing is.
After some care and creativity, the eggs were a success. 
We have been dying eggs since Chance was a tiny tot and didn't have the language to tell us what colors he preferred. 
Now he can tell us what what he wants without a problem and this Easter, he wanted eggs that were multi-colored. 

The color options

Testing the colors

Chance carefully watches his egg to make sure it turns out just right. 

Sunday, April 09, 2017

A temporary farewell...

Our family has been very busy the last few weeks. Chance's older brother, cohort in crime and best friend, left to serve a mission for our church this week. He will be gone for two years and live in the country of Brazil. Two years sounds like a long time, and when you think about it, it does seem like a long time to be apart. The fact that Chance's brother was willing to put his schooling and other things on hold, shows how strongly he feels that going on a mission to Brazil is what he needs to do with his life right now.  The last few weeks we have been busy getting Chance's brother the things he will need while living in Brazil along with spending time together as a family.

We will miss him, he brings a lot of joy to our family, but I am so excited for his journey. He is going to grow to love the people of Brazil and they will forever occupy a spot in his heart. It will be fun to hear what he is experiencing and how he is growing while he serves the people of Brazil. He worked hard to earn a big chunk of the money that he will need for the next two years. (Missions are self-funded, either by the missionary, or with the help of family and friends.)

Chance is excited for his brother, but it was also a hard good-bye for him. The boys cried and hugged as they said goodbye at the airport.

We will write letters and send emails. Phone calls will be limited to just a few a year. It has been a special time for our family as we sent our oldest child off into the world. We have laughed, we have cried and we have hugged.

Chance is missing his brother, and the two of them  will have a heartfelt reunion in a few years when his brother returns. In the meantime, Chance is now the oldest child in the family and in charge. He is already stepping in to give extra love to his younger brothers and sisters.

Here is an idea of what life as a missionary is like:

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Chance's thoughts on growing up being deaf and wearing implants

I was going through the house sorting papers, when I came across a little gem of a note written by Chance about how he feels about being deaf.  I don't know the year, but here is the list exactly as he wrote it:


1. I can take them off whenever I want.

2. I can tell most of the time who is flirting with me.

3. I can make jokes about deaf people.

4. I can use it as an excuse not to hear when I don't want to.

5. Get more specialty features.


1. Not being able to sing

2. Teachers give me too much attention.

There it is, insight into Chance's thought process. I am glad he wrote these things down on a piece of paper from our game Cranium, and that the paper made it back out to see the light again.

I asked Chance how he felt about the list now, and this is what he said:

"The bad things in this list are pretty accurate, maybe one more bad thing. But the good things in this list, are a very small portion or sliver of all of the good things that come from being deaf. For example, if anyone is playing music that is not country music, I can take my implants off as needed."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Exploding implants on the bench press

A few days ago while I was getting ready for the day, I thought I heard Chance out in the living room. That wouldn't be right though, because Chance's school had started over an hour earlier and I knew he had gone to school.

Low and behold, it was Chance though. I figured out it really was him that I had heard when he walked into my bedroom. It turns out that during his first hour class while he was bench pressing, one of his implants had fallen onto the floor and the battery pack had shattered. That must have been quite a workout Chance was engaged in.

Chance, not feeling like having only one implant for the rest of the day, picked up the pieces and drove home to get his back up implant. Thank heavens for back up implants. And I got a little surprise visit from Chance mid morning.  

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sweethearts Dance

Chance went to The Sweethearts dance this weekend. It was a girls' choice dance so the girls planned the whole shin dig. The date was a whole day affair, with Chance and the boys coming back to our house to change after the afternoon activities to get ready for the dance. This process of getting ready for the dance always takes a bit longer for the girls, so the boys get ready and then hang out at one of the boys' houses and play games, watch a movie or engage in some other activity while they wait for the girls to get ready and then pick them up for the dance.

While they were at the restaurant, all of the kids poured a bit of their drink into a cup and Chance drank it. A sort of root beer, Sprite, lemonade, orange sort of mix. Apparently, it was really fun and entertaining.

The first activity of the day was being a human ball. Chance loved this part of the date and if you look closely you can see Chance's and his date's legs hanging out of the balls as they play a game. I think Chance may be the one on the ground.

A good time was had by all and Chance was dropped off by his date and one of the other girls and they were all laughing. I would say the date was a success.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Chance's San Francisco Presentation as the walking wounded

Chance had a marvelous time in San Francisco. He got to see the Golden Gate Bridge again and he ate lots and lots of Chinese Food.

Chance just gave his presentation at school yesterday and when we got to the school, there was no Chance in the Chinese display room.  Each student chooses an aspect of Chinese life or culture to study indepth and give a presentation on. Chance chose calligraphy. He had a video showing the different strokes, how the strokes were made, the kind of paper used and a poem that was written at Angel Island, a state park which was the Asian Immigration Processing location from 1910 to 1940.

I called Chance to see where he was when I arrived at the school. Chance told me he was busy working with the CERT team but would be up to the classroom soon.

The CERT team is the group that studied community emergency response for their Winterim. Chance was being prepared for a demonstration the CERT team was doing which meant he looked like this:

Chance was part of their presentation of what first responders would do if there was an actual emergency in the community. It sort of grossed his little sister out.

When Chance got back up to the room to show us his presentation, it looked like that:

Chance loved his San Francisco trip and the opportunity learn more about Chinese culture.  He had a memorable trip with friends and teachers that will help him broaden his knowledge about Chinese culture.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Biking Across the Bridge

Chance has tried to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge each time he has visited San Francisco. The first time he went was last year in January.  He went with a school group and his brother was with him. Part of the itinerary for the trip was that all of the students would bike across the bridge. Chance and his brother were ecstatic.  When the day for them to bike across arrived though, the weather was bad so the bike ride was canceled.

Chance was then looking forward to biking across the bridge when our family went to San Francisco as part of our vacation through California. We looked into biking across the bridge, but in the end we didn't have enough time to bike across the bridge and do the other activities we had planned on.

When Chance went back to San Francisco last week for school again, he was determined to bike across the bridge. He had friends and a teacher who were excited to bike across the bridge as well. As it turned out, Chance was the only one who actually biked across the bridge. Some of the kids got tired before they got to the bridge and stopped. (It's about a 5 mile ride each way from where you rent the bikes to the start of the bridge.)  Some of the kids biked up to the bridge and turned around, but Chance was determined to bike the entire bridge and he finally made that item on his bucket list a reality. CHANCE HAS NOW OFFICIALLY BIKED ACROSS THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE!

Then he left his camera in the little pouch attached to the bike. He called the bike company and they said they had found it and would hold it for him. He got to the bike shop just as they were closing for the day. The girl on duty was apparently really attractive, but she told Chance that he would probably never see his camera again because they rarely got items back that had been left in the pouches. Chance explained that he had called earlier and and had been told his camera was being saved for him. The attractive girl looked in the drawer and was surprised to find Chance's camera sitting there waiting for him.  Alas, the bike rental store was closing so Chance could not continue talking to the cute girl and besides, the other students were waiting for him. He did get his camera back though. The camera that crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge with him on his third try.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Third time's a charm

Chance leaves for San Francisco in two days for an in depth study of Chinese culture. It may seem that Chance was just in San Francisco......that would be because he was there just last year at this time.  Chance and his brother had such a great experience in San Francisco back then, that they wanted the whole family to go back to see it.  So we included two days in San Francisco during our family vacation last summer. For anyone who is counting, Chance's trip to San Francisco next week will be his third in the span of a year. His destiny must somehow be tied to that city.

The focus this year is different than it was last year. Last year Chance rode a train to California and then flew home in an airplane. This year Chance will fly both to and from California.  Chance will be immersed in Chinese culture, language, religion and of course speaking Mandarin.  It will be good for Chance to have people around him who can answer him in Mandarin. He speaks to us at home in Mandarin all of the time. We just don't know what he is saying. For fun, I will sometimes respond in Dutch. Then neither one of us knows what the other is saying. It will be fun for Chance to practice his Mandarin while eating Chinese food.

The weather forecast calls for lots of rain while Chance is there. But the temperature should be much warmer than it is here. We are anticipating snow. Chance will have tales to tell us when he gets home. He says that since this is his third time visiting the city, he is much more aware of what a good souvenir is and where to spend his money. Chance is very frugal with his money. He is a working man now and he has earned all of his own spending money and paid for half of the trip. He is particular where he spends that hard earned cash.

View from the Golden Gate Bridge

Lombard Street in San Francisco

Chance on the ferry from Oakland to San Francisco

Ghirardelli chocolate shop

Friday, January 06, 2017

Advantages of having deaf children

Enjoying the warm weather in Arizona by climbing a palm tree

 We spent part of Christmas break in Arizona.  It was much warmer there than it is at our house. We went to the park and laid out on the grass. Our grass has snow on it, so it was a real treat to go outside without our coats and just enjoy the nice weather.

We were visiting family and hanging out with cousins. If we loaded everyone in the van to go somewhere, three people had to ride in another car so we could all fit and have seat belts. My sister and I wanted to have some "girl talk" on our ride to the park and I was trying to figure out which child should come with us. Then it struck me....Chance could come with us because he can't hear anything if he is using his headphones! I know, I know, teenagers in general can't hear anything else if they put in their headphones, but having two teenagers, one who is deaf, and one who is hearing, I can attest that the deaf one hears less.

Chance was the perfect kid to ride with us so we could talk freely. Chance already had his headphones ready for the ride and when I suggested that he ride with us and "not hear" what we said, he shrugged and happily agreed. I think it was a win win because our car was going to be more peaceful since it didn't have lots of kids riding in it and Chance could just sit back and relax.

It is true that Chance could have cheated and slid his headphones down just enough to hear what we were saying, but if you are a 16 year old boy, you really don't have an interest in what your mom and her sister talk about while on a drive to the park.

Now I know that if I need a child to ride in a car with me and not hear what I am saying, I can just invite Chance, because he can't hear anything if he has headphones in or takes his hearing devices off.