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:

Good:

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.

Bad:

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.