THE SHADDOX BOYS

Jacob and Elijah Shaddox are brothers. They live with their mom, Mary, who is the writer of this blog. Jacob is 19 and is now four inches taller than his mom! He also has ADHD and gorgeous red hair. He is a freshman at a technical college studying computer maintenance. Elijah is 15! He is in 9th grade and he is not in ROTC at his high school. He also had red hair, but it is lighter and not as thick as his brother's hair. He is hearing impaired(auditory neuropathy) and wears two cochlear implants. He also has tourette syndrome, ADHD, OCD and anxiety! Mary just started her 25th year as a teacher of the deaf. She is also in her last semester of graduate school to be a diagnostician! She will graduate in December of 2015!





Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What!

Just the other day Elijah started using this FUNNY "What" when he saw something he "couldn't believe".....or if I asked him something he didn't really want to do. We were watching "Dispicable Me" the other day and one of the minions said "What!" just like Elijah had been saying it. Here is a video of Elijah saying "What" and then one of the minion saying "What!"

Isn't he too cute!

video

video

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Walls are Closing In

We had a great Christmas with my brother and his family. We then visited with my dad, stepmom, aunt, brother and sister. We all got some nice gifts and Santa was very nice to the boys. Jacob got my old Iphone when I upgraded to my Iphone4(which was my gift to myself and some Christmas money is helping pay for it and I LOVE IT!). He also got an external hard drive and MONEY, which any teen loves.

Elijah got a lot of nice gifts also. One is a K'Nex set that makes a roller coaster. We have worked on it for several days and still have a lot to do with it. He also got several lego sets. We started on a Harry Potter one today!

However, we still have five days of until they go back to school and I go back to work and well...WE all have cabin fever and the walls are closing in. Jacob stays in his room and really doesn't want to be bothered. He is no problem. Elijah and I have worked on Legos, played the Wii and he plays on the computer. However, late in the afternoon he starts to just get a little "wild"....nothing too horrible, but he tends to grate on my nerves. Maybe it is just me...who knows, but I think I will be ready to go back to work on Monday! I have gotten out of the house a few times to run errands, but the boys have been home all week.

Of course, come next week, I'll be ready for Spring Break, but for now, I am ready to go back to work!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mr. Independent!

Eljiah is becoming more and more independent these days. Of course, he should be, he will be eleven years old in April! He has been waking up before me on the weekends and this week on Christmas Break. I leave his processors in a case in his room. He wakes up and puts them on himself. He is also finding his own batteries and changing them. I would get them for him in the past and he would change them.

Well one morning this week I got up to find him on the computer with a sprite near the computer. I talked to him briefly about NOT having a drink near the computer. I asked him if he had eaten anything and he said, "Yea, some pizza!"(We had some left over pizza in the fridge). I replied with "Really?" and he said...."YEA, go check the box!" I did and it was EMPTY!!

This morning I taught him how to make his waffles, so no more sneaking of candy or eating whatever he can find for breakfast! At least he does let me sleep a little longer!!

I am glad to see him becoming more independent, but hate that he has to grow up! He'll always be my baby, as is Jacob....all 5 foot 8 inches of him!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The week before Christmas

It is now five days to Christmas, and I am pretty much ready. I have all of the presents I need hidden away. We did Christmas with my mom yesterday. Elijah got a K'Nex roller coaster(got about 1/4 of it together today) and two lego sets. Jacob got a nice head set/microphone for his computer and web cam. My brother and his family were over. Jerry III is just TOO cute! Tabitha looked like a princess. We went and got some lunch too!

I only have two doctor's appointments with the boys this week and neither should take very long. I have some pralines to make later to give as gifts and also some snowball cookies. I took some cookies to school last week and they were all eaten up pretty quickly. My niece will come over one day and we will bake sugar cookies and then icing them! We need those for Santa Claus.

My brother and his family are coming here for Christmas dinner on Saturday and then we will go and see my dad and family later that evening.

Next week should be a pretty slow week. Not much going on. I do have plans for New Year's Eve and even got a babysitter for the boys! I haven't been out on New Year's Eve for a long time. It should be fun!!!

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Jacob's First Dance!



Here is Jacob, all dressed up and ready to go to his dance tonight with ROTC. Where did my little baby boy go? Here stands a young man who is 5 foot 8 inches tall and becoming such a fine young man. I am so glad he likes ROTC and has a group of young people to hang out with.

He has a light mustache and hair on his chin. He also has hair on the side of his face. He is going to have to start shaving at some point. He is still such a teen, but at other times he can act older than he is.

I don't think I am ready for him to grow up.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

CI moment, even after 9 years!

It is amazing to me that Elijah can still have a new CI moment! He has been sick and he really slept hard last night. He went to bed at 8:00 last night and was still sleeping at 8:00 this morning. I went in to wake him up and of course, took his processors with me. He was REALLY sleeing hard. I scratched his back and shook him a little. NOTHING! He just laid there.

He was sleeping on his right side, so I took his left processor and slipped the coil on. He squirmed some and started waking up. I didn't say a word and with his eyes closed he said, "good morning mom!". It was just so sweet. He knew it was me, because I always get his processors for him when I wake him up. It surprised me he needed SOUND to wake up this morning.

He usually gets around 9-10 hours sleep. His meds make him sleepy and the doctor said he really NEEDS a full nights sleep. He is usually easy to wake up in the morning and even wakes up on his own quite a bit. This was the first time I really had to use his CI processors to wake him up.

It was just a very sweet moment and even after NINE years of hearing, he still can have a CI moment!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Memories!



I was home today with Elijah and decided to go ahead and get our Christmas tree up! I really do enjoy putting up our tree. One reason is because of the memories I have of past Christmas' and from looking at the ornaments. I have taken a few pictures of some of my favorite ornaments and here they are. This first one is of the boys. I have an ornament for the boys going back to Jacob's first Christmas. I also have a lot of homemade ornaments they made at school.



This is an ornament from one of my LOOPIE moms! This is a group of mom's that I have corresponded with for 14 years and each year we exchange ornaments. This is an angel with the "I love you" sign.







This is a gingerbread woman that I made in the Brownies back in 1976. It reminds me of that Christmas and it is an ornament I look for each year!!








This is an ornament we got on vacation in Fredricksburg. We went to a wildflower farm and really had a good time. There was also a butterfly area and we got to see lots of butterflies. We all really liked it!






This is an ornament that my mom gave me because I am the first born!!












This is an ornament from our trip to Disneyworld in 2005! It was an awesome trip!












This is our Christmas tree this year!



















The octupus came from our trip to Orange Beach about three years ago and the starfish is another ornament from one of my LOOPIE moms!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Staying Busy!

Well, I don't have as much time to write as I usually do. Work is keeping me very busy and I am worn out at night. I am glad to stay busy, but am doing a LOT more driving these days it seems. I am looking forward to the Thanksgiving break!! All three of us will be out for the whole week!

Jacob is doing well. He is still enjoying ROTC. I ordered his yearbook today. He said he didn't want one, but one of my biggest regrets is not buying a yearbook for my junior year! He can also put some personal pages in there....his school was one of five across the country chosen to try this pilot program, so that is pretty cool!

Elijah had a rough week about two weeks ago so I was on the phone with the doctor a few times. We finally decided to up one of his morning medications and that seems to have helped. He had an AWESOME week this week!

Both boys are starting their Christmas lists and I have a few surprises for them! I cannot believe how quickly it is approaching!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Update on Us!



Just writing an update on what's been happening with us. Nothing too dramatic these days. Elijah really enjoyed Halloween and did a great job out trick or treating. We went with my brother, his wife and two kids. My niece was dressed up like a cat and the baby was a loaf of wonder bread! Both were two cute!

Elijah has been having so-so days at school and tics have been a little up these days. A few weeks ago he was falling asleep at school so I called the doc to see if we could lower one of his meds and we did. Well then he was having a harder time at school, so I called the doc back and we decided to put back on the original dosage, but move the time he takes to an hour earlier. That seems to have really helped. Not sure why tics are up right now, it is just part of having tourette's I guess. Today he had a good day at school and got bonus time on the computer, so he is happy.

Jacob is doing well. He refereed his last two soccer games this past Saturday. He liked earning his own money....and SPENDING it! His grades are staying up and so that is a good thing. He gets his bottom braces on tomorrow afternoon!

Work is going well. I am keeping busy. I am taking half a day tomorrow to take Jacob to get his braces. I am going to come home for a bit and may straighten up a little bit. Nothing major! I'll pick up both boys and then go down to the orthodontist.

We are looking forward to Thanksgiving. I have got to start my Christmas shopping!!! Time sure is flying right now!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's Too Loud Mom!



Elijah and I went to meet a friend of mine at an American Sign Language chat she sponsors at a local coffee shop. She is an ASL teacher in a city about 30 minuntes from us. I enjoy going to see her and sometimes there are several deaf people there(she advertises with the coffee house about the chat) and of course she has students who come.

Last night there were only three students who showed up, but we sat around and talked. Elijah played with dominoes that they had and then pulled out a board game. We played with him while we chatted. They also have live music and when the music started he told me it was TOO loud. I reached over and just slid off each coil! He looked at me and smiled and then kept on playing. We communicated with sign and with everyone knowing sign it was easy. He didn't sign back to us though. I don't think he quite understood that WE still had the loud music to contend with. We all were signing at this point, because it was easier to communicate that way.

The music stopped for a bit and I slid his coils back on. We talked, but as soon as the music started back up he slipped them back off. He looked at me to be sure it was OK and I gave him a thumbs up!

Now I did enjoy the music and at least with sign we were all able to communicate. The students liked it because it really made them practice their skills, because even if we did voice no one could not each other. The music was actually really good, and I enjoyed it. However, I envy Elijah a bit that he can "turn off" his hearing if he really choses in situations like that!

Monday, October 18, 2010

He Looks so Grown Up!

I don't know when it happened, but sometime in the last six months or so, Jacob has grown up on me. He is now 5 ft 7 inches tall(two inches taller than me) and looking more and more like a young man, than a boy.

He has decided to be part of the honor guard in ROTC, which means he marches with the flag bearers carrying a gun. Today I went to pick him up and he had texted he was ready. We waited and waited, and no Jacob. I tried calling him to no answer, so Elijah and I went in.

I looked down the hallway through a window in the door, and said to myself.."there he is." I then second guessed myself and though, "NO that is not him, that boy looks too old to be Jacob. He looks so serious standing at attention." As I stepped through the door, I realized it WAS Jacob. He was standing at attentino with a rifle(not real) in one hand by his side. He stayed at attention and although he did look in my direction.

Elijah and I walked out, he knew I was there and waiting and he didn't need mom hovering. As I stepped out, I realized wondered..."where did that baby boy of mine go?" Well, he was standing right there, still my baby, just not looking like a baby anymore. I think the next four years are going to fly by so I better enjoy them while I can and remember every bit of it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jacob's First Job!



Jacob started his first job this past week. He attended referee school back over the summer and we got his uniform ordered. He was sick and so we had to cancel his first two games, but this past Thursday he worked his first two games.

He did a great job and once the first half of the first game was done, he was more sure of himself. I stayed for hist first two games, just to see how he did and offered advice if he needed it. He actually listened to me when I did give advice. He is refereeing U5 and U6 kids which means four and five year olds. He does a really good job with them and looks like such a BIG KID out there among these young players. He is respectful to the coaches and players and has learned how to blow his whistle so the players will hear him.

He had three games today and I just dropped him off and he did it all himself today. He called me when he was ready to be picked up and told me some funny stories. He also said one of the coaches had refereed before and offered him some tips. He showed off his $30(six five dollar bills, he earned $20 on Thursday).

He has two games this next Tuesday and four more games scheduled in the coming weeks. I hope he gets some more games! I am proud of him and amazed at how much OLDER he looks these days. He is just growing up too fast!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Enjoying the Weather and my Sunday!

The boys and I are just hanging at home today with the windows open. It is actually a little chilly and so we only have three windows open. The cats are so funny, because as soon as they hear me open a window all three just come running. I mean they run full force and jump onto the window sill. I'll then move to Elijah's room and pull open the blinds and here they come. I can hear their paws pounding on the carpet as I open the window.

Later, when I start closing up the windows they run to the window with this pleading look of, "NO, don't close the window!" and then they run for the next onelike they can stop me!

I have cleaned house some today and watched a movie. Just enjoying not doing much of anything. I asked Jacob if he wanted to take a ride to the mall down the street, Firewheel, but he said NO! No good movies out and really not much else to do but enjoy being home with not much to do!

The rest of the week will be crazy. Tomorrow night, Jacob will march in the Homecoming Parade with the ROTC. On Thursday, I'll meet with Elijah's teacher to see how he is doing, then rush home to get Jacob and get him to his soccer game by 6:00 so he can referee. Tuesday and Wednesday are crazy too!! I guess that means I should enjoy not having much to do today!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Update!

Things are going well as we go into October. Jacob is enjoying ROTC and passed his classes for his six weeks. Elijah is doing pretty well in school. I have a conference with his teacher next week to get a true feeling of how he is doing. I just looked over and see him chewing on a sock. YUCK. This is one of his tics...chewing.

Jacob's soccer games got rained out last week and he isn't scheduled for another game until the 23rd. Hope a few more come up before then. He worked hard to get his certification!

Work is going well. I am staying very busy and doing a lot of driving. I got to do the cha cha with some elementary school kids today and it was FUN!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Expectations!

Since the day we found out Elijah was deaf, I have set very high expectations for him. There was so much for him to overcome...premature birth, coming home on oxygen, deafness, pnemonia, slow in development and later tourette syndrome.

After Elijah was implanted, I worked so hard for him to reach his full potential. It has taken years for him to get where he is now and we have had many road blocks. We have busted through those road blocks and I am so proud of where Elijah is now....and proud of Jacob as well.

I get very frustrated with people who don't set high expectations for their children and make excuses why their child can't do something. Even children with no disabilities may have parents who make excuses for them. What frustrates me even more are professionals who don't set those high expectations(not speaking of anyone working with Elijah), but just professionals in general. I have run across a few in my 20 years of education!

I marvel daily at the language Elijah uses. The sentencs he comes up with and even if they aren't perfect, we fix them and move on!

One more thing I want to brag on....Jacob was nominated by one of his teachers to be part of Rachel's Challenge at his high school. Rachel was the first student shot in the Columbine shooting. This challenge is to work with students to stop bullying in school. I need to do more research on it. Jacob is still that typical boy who doesn't always do his homework, but he is becoming a fine young man!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Elijah's Hearing



It has been nine years since Elijah got his first cochlear implant and I am still amazed at the technology. He got his second cochlear implant about six years ago. He only had 18 months of his life without at least one cochlear implant.

What amazes me is how well he does with them! He can hear a whisper across a room. Last night, he was on the computer with his back to the TV. He was very focused on his computer game, but I noticed him sort of dancing to the music from the TV commercial. He was just a grinning and turned around to see what was on the TV. He is able to HEAR background sounds and react to them. He can pull that background sound OUT of the sound he is focused on. Some may not get how COOL that is, but it is cool.

I have also noticed that he has the ability to over hear conversations. He can be focused on something and then hear part of a conversation. He will then say something like, "what are you talking about" or just join the conversation. He hears very well in the car with background noise. He is also to the point where he incidentally learning new vocabulary as well as idioms.

As a teacher of the deaf, I know how far Elijah has come. I work daily with students who are on this same journey. Some are ahead of Elijah and others behind, but they are on their own personal journey. All of the hard work I put forth so many years ago has paid off. There is still much work to be done and there always will be, but it is so much easier now.

I am amazed that I can still be amazed. You would think that the thrill of his hearing would wear off with the passage of time, but it hasn't. I still marvel at it daily!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Four Weeks into School

We are four weeks into school and things seem to be going well so far. I have been running crazy busy at work, but things finally seemed to calm a bit this week. I actually got some quality time in my office to get some things done! I am hoping this continues. I have to travel in a few weeks, but that is another story!


Jacob is LOVING school. He has had a few bumps in the road with an Algebra test and a test in Biology. I am keeping a close eye on it and emailed the Colonel over his ROTC class to help intervene. Jacob went to a lock in that the ROTC held last night and LOVED it. He did say a few kids got rowdy and everyone had to do push ups, but he wasn't really complaining. He loves wearing his ROTC uniform and takes great pride in it. This week he got his name badge with SHADDOX on it. I am so glad he has started off the year well. These four years will fly by and I want him to really enjoy them. I have so many regrets about my high school years. Nothing awful, I just wish I had done more!

Elijah has had a good four weeks at school. He has had a few days with "poor behavior" but nothing like we have seen in the past. He has had no physical aggression towards anyone and I am hoping that continues. He seems to like school more this year. He is taking NO medications while at school. He takes his medication in the morning prior to school. Last year he took one medication at school. He was on this medication for tics, but it wasn't seeming to help anymore, so the doctor wanted me to slowly take him off of it and we did that this summer. The new medication for tics he takes in the morning and did take in the afternoon, but I stopped the afternoon one. Tics had decreased and it was hard to know if it was really helping or not.

We went to the neurologist this week and he agreed. The less meds Elijah has to take the better. Sometimes there will just be tics and IF they are not INTERFERING too much into his life than no meds. He has gained a lot of weight and that is a concern. Last night he had what seemed like more tics, but nothing to serious. For now all I can do is observe and decide from day to day what to do. Elijah is also not the best reporter of how his tics affect him or if it is a "good" or "bad" tic day. I think his hearing loss plays a part in that. He has come a long way with language but he is still a deaf child who hears with cochlear implants, who is a bit behind in his language skills. I can guarantee this, there is no other child like him! He and Jacob both are one of a kind!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Perspective!

Discovery Healthy Channel had a show on the other night called Tourette's Uncovered. I watched it and found it to be very informative. There were four boys with tourette syndrome who were profiled. Elijah watched a bit with me tonight, because he saw the title in the DVR and asked to watch some of it.

After watching it, I am thankful that Elijah's tics are not as severe as some of the one's shown on the program. I am not saying I am happy that Elijah has tourette syndrome and tics, but it could be worse. Of course, at the time of diagnosis I didn't think that. Elijah's life has never been easy. He came into this world struggling, but he has always been a fighter. He has overcome so much and I am amazed at him daily. I sometimes wonder how he does it!

Of course, each of us has something we have to overcome. I have some extreme OCD at times. I really have to tell my brain to just STOP IT, or a thought can drive me insane. I now take some medicine to help with that, but it can still sneak up on me. As an adult, I find it hard to overcome this part of me and don't even know how Elijah at his age can deal with his OCD.

Sometimes it takes a television program or meeting others who have overcome a disability to put things in perspecitve and make us thankful that we don't have more to bear.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Support!

Elijah and I went to the North Texas Tourette Syndrome Support group meeting today in Dallas. I am hoping to make more meetings this year since Elijah won't be playing soccer. It is a good group and there is always a pretty good turn out. It is nice being able to talk to parents who experience many of the same things that I experience with Elijah. We all have different stories, but they all relate with the tics and such.

We had one speaker today and then the parents just sat around and spoke. I spoke to two other moms and we shared school experiences and each of us had some ideas on how to help each other out. It may sound boring, but it really wasn't. It was nice to be able to share with others who truly GET IT!

Eljiah behaved himself and did EXCELLENT! it was probably the best he has ever behaved while we were at one of these meeting. The kids meet in another room and participate in some kind activity to keep them busy. I think it is good for him to be around other kids who know what it is like to have TS.

We have also gone to support group meetings for parents to deaf children and they were very helpful to me when Elijah was younger. I am now the person there offering more support to those parents who are just learning of their child's hearing loss. At the TS meetings, I am the one more in need of support! I am just in a different place with the TS than I am with the deafness....it's all about support though! Giving and receiving it!

Friday, September 10, 2010

What are the chances?

Elijah and I went to the grocery store this afternoon to get the weekly shopping done. We have a Tourette Support Group meeting tomorrow morning and I wanted to get the shopping done so we wouldn't have to do it tomorrow afternoon.

Well, we got everything done and we chose a line to wait in. It wasn't too busy, but each lane had at least two people waiting. Elijah wanted to change lanes, but I decided to stick it out. I completed a phone call from a parent and the woman in front of us struck up a conversation with us. She walked up to Elijah and said, "those sure are some cutting edge cochlear implants you have." I responded with, "Thank you." I then mentioned that there was even a newer processor out(Elijah has two Freedoms) that had a remote. She asked if he signed and we spoke a bit about Elijah getting his CIs and how we had started with sign.

She then said that she had been a sign interpreter when she had lived in Louisiana,
but since moving to Texas she had not worked as an interpreter. I then told her about being a teacher of the deaf prior to Elijah being born. I asked her if she had thought of getting her certification in Texas and that there was a high need for certified interpreters. She had considered it, but it is a long process. I told her she should think about subbing and that I was the head of my department now and we are always looking for subs who can sign. She gave me her phone number and we parted ways.

What are the chances of me running into this person? She doesn't even live in Wylie, but in a neighboring town that doesn't have a Walmart. What are the chances we would end up in the same check out lane? Sometimes Elijah is not with me and then she would never have struck up this conversation with me.

Isn't it funny how we meet people in this world? Was there some kind of force that brought us together today? I don't know, but I am glad we met.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Communication

I have been thinking a lot about communication, miscommunications and perceptions lately. So much of my job and my life is dependent on how I communicate with people. In my new role at work this is very true and it is also true as a parent and as human being. There is so much more to communication than the words we say, but also in how we say them and in body language!

Our basic need to communicate starts at birth. As a baby we cry to get our needs met and later as we grow we learn to talk. It is a lengthy process taking over three years of LISTENING to really get it right and it is still refined daily from even that point. For children who have a hearing loss, everything depends on when that hearing loss is discovered and the interventions put in place to assist that child in learning to communicate. I sometimes wonder if deaf toddlers watch hearing people communicate and wonder, "how are these people getting their needs met," and how frustrating it must be for that child to get his or her needs met. I could go on for days about this, because I work with children daily who are living their lives frustarted with just daily communication. This could be a blog series, but I want to turn now to how even hearing people communicate!

Even as a hearing person who has speech and language, communication can be a struggle. It isn't just in the words you say, but how you say them to convey your needs and also in your body language. It is also dependent in the baggage the listener brings with him or her. A person who initiates a conversation may have no idea that the listener has had a bad day or is holding a grudge against the speaker for something that happened several days before. An innocent conversation can turn into an arguement, just because of a miscoummincation or in how the speaker's message is interpreted.

I am finding at work that I need to chose my words and learn to read the other person when I am speaking in order to adjust my message. I am also learning to be a better listener and be patient with the person talking and let them really finish. I am a fast talker and a fast thinker, my brain starts going 100 mph and I have to tell it to slow down sometimes and be patient. I have also learned to communicate to others that I am aware I am a fast talker and I truly try to slow down, BUT if I am ever talking too fast it doesn't bother me for someone to ask me to slow down.

I have been trying to teach my 14 year old that I truly do want to listen to him when he decides to share with me. He does it so rarely that I truly do want to listen. However, I may be in the middle of something and he needs to wait so I can give him 100% of my attention or there may be background noise that is making it difficult for me to listen. He is also a mumbler and thinks I am NOT listening when in fact I am. I am hoping ROTC will help him become a better communicator!

I saw all of this to encourage others to remember how precious it is that we can communicate. To remember that communication takes two people and as a listener we should be open to listening not shut off! I am hoping to continue to grow as a good communicator!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Two Weeks into the School Year

We are two weeks into the school year, and I am happy to report things are going well. Jacob is loving the high school. He will wear his ROTC uniform to school this Wednesday and every Wednesday of the school year. I can't wait to get a picture of him! I took him to get his haircut today so he could wear his hat properly.

Elijah continues to do well at school. He has had all good days since he has been back. Everyone says he is a different kid! I am pleased and hoping it continues.

My year is going pretty well. I am staying VERY busy!! I am thankful for the three day weekend we are having! I have a busy week ahead of me, but I enjoy it! I can't wait to start seeing my students each week. My days are fast and furious though, but I would rather be busy..... I think. Right now I am almost TOO busy!

I hope the time doesn't fly by too quickly though. I am not ready for the holidays quite yet!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Jacob got his ROTC Uniform

Jacob stayed after school today to get fitted for his ROTC uniform. He told me he might stay and finally texted me around 5:20 asking me to come get him. I finally find him at the school and out he walks with his uniform. He starts telling me all about it. He needs a haircut, because his hair is too long for his hat to fit correctly. He told me about the shoes and what size he got. He just talked and talked. He really likes high school and I am so glad for that.

I'll be sure to get lots of pictures when he does wear the uniform for the first time. He is so excited!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Working as a Team

I met with Elijah's teacher, principal, diagnostician, coordinator of elementary schools and behavior specialist yesterday. It wasn't an official IEP meeting though. We just dicussed some questions I had about what the plan was for him this year. Turns out we were all pretty much on the same page. There are a lot of good things in place and we discussed how he will be transitioned into more mainstream classes. Some of those may even be resource classes, but that is still a good move for him out of the behavior class.

It was really a good meeting and I feel like we worked as a team. That truly is what I think every child needs in school....a good team of people working towards a goal. People willing to listen to ideas and try things, that may or may not work, then be willing to change if things are not working.

Tics are happening at school, but haven't been too bad. He isn't taking any meds while at school and I am thrilled with that. He seems happy and not so worried about school. The new teacher he has said she did observe him last year and sees such a change in him! I am sure we may still have some struggles in the future, but it seems like he is on a good path now!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Teenagers!

I get up this morning to cook a nice Sunday breakfast and I find dried up sticky kool aid on the floor. So before I can even begin to cook, I have a mess to clean up. I get that done and proceed to cook a nice Sunday breakfast. I go back to wake Jacob up and see if he wants eggs with us. As I enter, I see five empty gatorade bottles on the floor as well as a few other itmes that need to be trashed. Jacob wakes up and says he wants eggs and I tell him to get up and CLEAN up his room. UGH.

He at least wakes up in a good mood and does it. We eat our breakfast and Jacob helps me clean up a bit. It was hard to stay aggravated with him when he got up quickly and helped me. Oh and I had him empty the trash. How he can't see that the trash can is full and just empty it, I just don't know. I think it is that darn Y chromosome.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Remember When.....



I am sitting here watching Elijah and my niece play Harry Potter on the Wii! She is spending the night with us tonight, because her baby brother will be arriving tonight. My brother, Jerry, and his wife, Peggy, went in for a test today to make sure the baby's lungs were devloped and they were. She is scheduled to have a C-Section this evening! They are having a boy and he will be named Jerome Ware Allen III.

As I sit here watching them, I began thinking of Jacob and Elijah's arrival. Jacob was born in the summer of 1996 and was the first grandchild on either side of the family. My water broke at home and off we went to Baylor in Dallas. It was a pretty easy eight hour labor, expecially when I got the epidural! He was born around two in the morning with RED hair. We did not find out the sex of the baby, so it was exciting to tell everyone it was a BOY! He was healthy and we were blessed. We enjoyed every minute of him and planned for our second child in 1999 and again were blessed with a pregnancy!

We again did not find out the sex of the baby! Things went smoothly until the 32nd week of my pregnancy when labor began and my water broke. Elijah was born at 7:40 on a Saturday morning. He was soon whisked away to a larger hospital in Dallas and spent five weeks in the NICU. His full story has a link on this page and I don't want to rewrite all that!!

I have been blessed with two wonderful children who each face their own unique challenges. Jacob is the oldest and now stands at five feet seven inches tall. He has a great many responsibilites as the oldest in helping me around the house, but he is also still a kid who needs to have fun! Elijah is unique in his own ways and I don't think I would change anything(well I think not!!) because then he would not be who he is. He is at a point in his journey in life that is very healthy and he is making so much progress! We may still have some bumps along the way, but I think we are over the biggest hurdles....at least I hope so.

I can't wait to see pictures of my new nephew and hold him! I am sure I will be remembering my own babies and when I first held them. A new life holds so many possibilites!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Reasonable

I was told recently, by someone that I really respect, that I was a reasonable parent, when it comes to issues with Elijah at school. By issues, I mean IEP meetings(ARDs in Texas) and getting services he needs for school. I took this as a compliment. I advocate for my child, but I have reasonable expectations for him and for the school district, but I also don't let the school off the hook for services.

I am fortunate in that I know a lot more about IEP meetings and how to word things to get what Elijah needs in school. I have 20 years experience in special ed. and most parents of special needs students don't have that. In Elijah's IEP meetings, I truly do feel like we are working as a team to ensure he is successful. That doesn't mean I always agree with how things are going, but we discuss it and can usually come up with some kind of compromise we are both happy with.

I often wonder, what do other parents do? How do they educate themselves? Are they completely overwhelmed? I know at times I am overwhelmed! The internet has helped so many parents make contact with other parents who can give them ideas, but when you are sitting in that IEP meeting you almost forget WHAT you need to say.

I am fortunate to be in a good school district, that I have people who help me, and contact with other parents who have been a great help to me.(Shout out to Michelle) I also have a good Tourette's support group here in Texas that has helped me a great deal!

I have also helped parents by talking to them about how to get the services they need for hearing impaired children and maybe later I will know more to help more parents of kids with Tourettes.

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of School 2010

Well we made it today! Elijah did well on his first day in fourth grade. I walked him in to make sure he knew where to go. I had a heck of a time getting out of the parking lot though! It took me at least 20 min. to get out of the parking lot.

Today was Jacob's first day in high school. I got him up around 6:45 right as we left, but his bus wasn't due to pick him up until 8:25. He called me around 8:30 wondering where his bus was, and after a few phone calls, the bus finally arrived a little late.

It was a good day for me and I have lots to do tomorrow. I came home and picked up Elijah who was quite excited to tell me he had a great day. No note stating otherwise so I went with what he told me. I got home around 4:30 and Jacob arrived home soon after(9:00-4:15 school day) around 4:45. Jacob had a GREAT day and wanted to tell me all about it. We also had to make another trip to Wal-Mart for MORE supplies. We went and did that, boy that place was crazy and then went to grab dinner and come home! I did treat myself to a Margarita!

Jacob loved all of his classes and said he liked his teachers! He is taking ROTC and also a video class as well as the usual core classes!

Jacob fell asleep some time after we came home, but not sure what time. Before falling asleep, he got all of his materials ready for tomorrow. Elijah went to bed around 8:45 and hopefully I won't be too far behind them!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I Wonder What it is Like!

I often wonder what it is like for Elijah to wake up in the morning deaf and then put on his processors to all of the sounds in the world. Just recently, he has started putting on his processor, but not putting on the coil until he gets to the den. I guess he needs some time to wake up before the noise of the world intrudes. One morning, I put his coil on and said something to him...and he responded with "SH". I guess I was too loud.

I slowly wake up in the morning and ease into my day of noise. For Elijah it is dead silence to sound in just a millisecond. Some mornings, if he wakes before me, I'll find him watching TV or playing the Wii with no processors on. While at the beach, he is content to have his "ears" off and play in the sand or in the water. I am glad that he is comfortable with this silence. I wish he could tell me what it is like to just be DEAF one second and the next second be hearing. Is there any sound? Does his mind fill in the memory of sound for him when the processor is off?

I will most likely never know how this is for him. Maybe when he gets older he can explain it to me!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Last Weekend of Summer

Well, I have survived the first week back at work and here we are at our last weekend of the summer. I am hoping to take both boys swimming at my dad's house on Sunday. Jacob probably won't want to go swimming, so I may have to drag him with us! Elijah loves to swim though, especially now that he can wear his processor and hear!

I am hoping to rest up this weekend and get some chores done. I need to get some clothes washed for both boys and make sure we have everything we need from the grocery store. I need to make a run to Sprouts to get my chicken salad too!

I have a busy week with work next week. I'll be on the road quite a bit checking on kids and delivering FM systems for the next two weeks. I have my schedule to get in order too!

I think our kitties will miss us too. We have three cats as you know...Oreo(black with some white), Perky(white with some black) and Tiger(black tabby) and NOW we have a fourth cat....YES a fourth cat! She is temporary though, but will be with us until June 2011. A young lady posted that she was going to college in Colorado on scholarship and had to live in the dorms. She had no one to take care of her cat and needed a temporary home. I was reading it and then scrolled down to the picture of the cat and it was a Norwegian Forest cat...a Maine Coone cat basically that is black, grey, with some white and a little orange in there too. Ridgeway, our cat that died in Nov. 2008, was a Norwegian Forest cat and we had loved her so much. I don't see them often and so I contacted the young lady and we met up. The cat's name is Whisky and she has been with us for a week. She is hanging out in Elijah's room and is now quite freindly with us. We locked up the three other cats and have left the door open to Elijah's room but Whisky won't come out. She is definitely nervous about coming out. It will just take some time. The young lady paid me to buy some food and litter and will send me money each month to help with expenses! I am hoping we can all be one happy family! I'll get pictures soon!

Going to head to bed here in a bit and sleep in some! OH and I am getting a new queen size bed tomorrow! Can't wait!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

On The Road Again

This week was my first week back at work. Katie, my little sister(age 19) has been watching the boys for me. Elijah has really enjoyed having her here and she has taken Jacob to ROTC for me! She is headed to Texas A&M in Galvestion next week!

I have been at inservice this week but have already been in two different cities for either a meeting or to pick up equipment! Part of going back to work is getting back on the road. I drive and see student's in their home districts! I love it and I do enjoy being "on the road" but the heat this week has been awful. Over the next two weeks I'll slowly ease back into driving. I'll be delivering equipment, checking on students and meeting with teachers. By the third week, I'll have nine students I'll being seeing each week and doing a multitude of other duties!

I spoil myself with an XM radio, an ipod in my iphone which plugs into the car and cruise control! I love my XM radio, especially the comedy channels. I don't have to worry about losing my signal with that XM radio.

Jacob spent three days at an ROTC boot camp this week. Nothing too strenuous and he enjoyed it. Both boys start school next week!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Debating Again

My great debate is about medication....again. I came home and Elijah had done well with my sister, Katie(age 19) who babysat for him today and will do so for the rest of the week. I had forgotten to tell Katie about Elijah's chewing and thankfully I had put him in an older shirt that he had already chewed on. He actually chewed a HOLE in his collar today! I pulled the chewelry out and showed it to Kaite, not mentioning the hole....not her fault! I'll remind her about it tomorrow and actually PUT the necklace on Elijah. I am still not sure if it is a tic or compulsion, but either way I can't have him chewing his clothes up.

After dinner we ran to Albertsons. I needed a few things to finish out this week and we ran by Blockbuster too. While in Albertsons and on the way home, I noticed a huge upswing in Elijah's tics. OH my, he was slapping at his legs, snorting, sniffing and slapping at his torso area. It continued when we got home and in the bathtub. I think I noticed them because they had lessened in the last few days. He has been off of his afternoon tic medication for about 10 days. One reason I don't him taking it, unless he really has to is due to his weight. I'll just have to keep an eye on it.

He is too cute though. He helps me look for low fat cookies and doesn't mind eating them. He drinks the sugar free Kool Aid and uses sugar free syrup. He even asked to do his sit ups. We aren't walking just due to the heat...maybe tomorrow we can try the Wii Fit!

I sure wish it were easier to make decisions about medications!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Two Day Conference I Attended

I am the coordinator of the deaf educaiton department for the school district I work in. We are a regional program and service a large rural area. Because of this, I attend a lot of meetings and conferences. The First Texas Early Hearing Detection Intervention Conference was held in Dallas, TX over the last two days. I was lucky enough to attend. I got to see many colleagues and friends I have made during my career. I also get to hear some really great speakers!

I don't want to get into the conference topics in regards to my job, because this is my personal blog. However, one speaker today spoke about FAMILY SUPPORT when a child is born deaf into a family. Well I am one of those families, and much of what she said I identified with and made me start thinking. It was like someone turning on a light and seeing things for the first time. I was aware of these things, but wasn't aware, does that make sense?

I have always known about parents going through the grieving process when they have a child with any disability, but I learned a few other things. This speaker said it changes the family dynamics and it really does. Your life begins to focus on doctor's appointments, speech therapy, AV therapy, learning sign(just depends on what you chose), decisions about amplification, using visuals to get your child's attentions and so on. If you have other children, their lives get turned upside down also. All the hopes and dreams you have for that child change also.

I really enjoyed this speaker. She was deaf herself and now has a cochlear implant. She said that her hsuband always tells people, "I didn't know I was a hearing person until I met my future wife!" and if he is with a group of deaf people he tells them, "I am hearing. I was raised oral!" She really had a great perspective on growing up deaf and how it affected her mother and family and how it affects her family even now!

I used to wonder, what my life would be like if Elijah had not been born deaf. It still crosses my mind from time to time, but not for long. He is who he is and I am who I am because of him....and of course, because of Jacob. Everyday is a new beginning and a new chance to teach him something new or for him to teach me....or for us to educate others about hearing loss.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm Going to be the Mom of a High Schooler!!

OK so when did this happen? When did I become old enough to have a son going into the high school? Yea, I know, I am in my 40s, but having Jacob enter high school has made me feel even OLDER than I usually feel.

He had to wear his school uniform(standardized dress) up to get his schedule so they could take his picture for his ID. He comes out and looks like ALL LEGS. He is 5 ft. 7 inches tall. His dad is only 5 ft. 8 in. tall and I think Jacob might outgrow him. Jacob is wearing a size 18 in slacks and also with his shirts. He has changed so much in the last year.

He is also going to be in ROTC and have that uniform. He will wear that once a week to school. Next week he has 3 days of stuff with ROTC at the high school. They are also working hard to raise money. This is the first year that ROTC will be only at this high school, last year they were connected to the other high school in town. This high school is going on 3 years old and only has freshman, sophomores and juniors this year. He is excited about ROTC and working the concessions at athletic events and participating in other activities.

Jacob is also going to be working by refereeing soccer games here in town. He got his uniform and other items we ordered in the mail today. He was quite excited and just a grinning from ear to ear. He should be starting that next month!

I think these next four years may pass to quickly!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Sounds We Hear





I have worked with deaf children for going on 20 years this school year. For the first nine years of this I worked with only at school. Teaching them to listen and speak. Teaching them language skills and using both sign and speech to do this. I worked with middle and high school students, so I got them when they usually had a pretty good language base.

My work with babies started when Elijah arrived. He was born nine weeks early and at the age of five weeks he failed his first hearing test. It was confirmed four weeks later and my life changed forever. My life became about getting him language, first with sign, and later with sound when he got his cochlear implant. Elijah's hearing loss was at 110 decibels which meant he couldn't hear a train horn if it went off right beside him.

Elijah got his first CI at the age of 18 months(turn on) and a second one at the age of four and a half. My world became about sound. Teaching him what sound was and what sounds things made. Many people are surprised to learn that getting a CI or even a hearing aid for a child born deaf is not like putting on a pair of glasses. A child has to "learn to listen, in order to listen to learn." I had to teach him his name, what a doorbell and telephone sounded like and so on. First he had to even recognize that there was sound and that when you hear a sound it means something.

It has been almost nine years this October since he got his first CI and it is still a learning process. He knows the majority of the sounds around him, but occasionally he still hears something that he doesn't recognize. I remember the first time thunder scared him, oh the face he made and I had to stop myself from laughing. I was thrilled that it scared him....bad momma! I remember the time he heard the automatic water bowl for the cats(it is a like a fountain and has a resevoir) when it went blurb, blurb, blurb. He was sitting at the table and got a worried look on his face until I told him it was the cat's water bowl. He still rings the doorbell and loves to hear it. He jams to music and can recognize a song from what he hears...giving me the title if he knows it.

Today was one of those days though where he heard a sound that scared him. We were at McDonald's when someone opened the fire escape door. The alarm went off. I was on one side of the indoor playground, and it was a HUGE one, and he headed around to the exit on the other side. I hear him screaming my name, "MOM, WHERE IS MY MOM?" I see him running, coils off his head, which means he can't hear me. He didn't like the sound of the fire alarm and there are times when I wouldn't mind turning off my hearing myself. He is still a moving,crying and asking where his mom is. I am trying to get to him, but he can't hear me. Another set of parents was close to him and motioned for him to come to them....they would help him. I arrived just as he got to them and I motioned for him to put his ears on. I thanked the couple and explained he couldn't hear without his CIs(not everyone gets that they help him hear) and fortunately they did know what they were. I got his coils back on and explained to him that he cannot take them off, because he cannot hear me when he is looking for me! I felt so bad for him! I think his anxiety with his Tourette's plays in on this too.

This journey of sound is never ending and one that I am glad to be on. Everytime I think we are done, there is a new sound. Sometimes it is not a fun sound to hear, but a sound he does need to learn. I am glad I get to be on this journey with him!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Elijah's first small Tic Injury

Elijah's tics have been SO much better in the last few days. So much so, that I have skipped his afternoon tic medication. He takes it in the morning and I wanted to see if there was any difference between his tics in the morning and afternoon. Well yesterday afternoon, I noticed he had a scratch that started on his forhead and sent down to his cheek. I took a look at his fingernails and they were long enough for him to have left that scratch. One of his tics is slapping at his face and he must have scratched his face when doing this.

Of course, I clipped his fingernails right away and I'll keep a closer eye on their length from this point on. I'll also being observing his morning vs. afternoon tics more closely to see if he needs that afternoon dose. One reason I am trying NOT to give it to him is it increases his appetite and he has gained a lot of weight. I have noticed a decrease in his eating habits in the last few days. Again, it is all a trade off.

If a scratch is the worst injury he gives himself, then it isn't too bad, but I don't want it to get worse than that.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Jacob and Referee School

Jacob decided back in the spring that he wanted to become a soccer referee and earn his own money. I checked into it with our local soccer association and found out he has to attend a three day class. He will be starting it tonight in a town about 30 minutes from us. It is from 6pm-10pm tonight, all day tomorrow and Sunday afternoon. Elijah and I are going to hang in the area tonight rather than drive back(gas is still too expensive for me to waste).

He is excited about starting on this new adventure. I am hoping he feels the same way when he has to get up early tomorrow morning. We are going to stop and buy some lucheon meat on the way home so he can make a lunch to take with him tomorrow. We also have to find out where to purchase his referee gear(uniform, socks, shoes). He can work as many or as few games as he wants during the season. It is about a twelve week season.

He will also have his ROTC activities! Can't believe I am the mom of a son in high school. The adventure begins today!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Trade Offs

I just did more research on two medications that Elijah takes. I had looked at it before, but was looking again due to the weight gain. Both have increase in weight as a side effect.

It is so hard to know if the meds are even helping with the tics. The risperdal did seemm to help back in January. I started weaning him off of the seroquel back in June...he had been on 400 mg of seroquel during the day(200 in the morning and 200 in the afternoon) and now he only takes 25 mg in the morning and will stop that next week. He continues to take 400 mg at night.

He takes 1 mg of ripserdal at night, half a miligram in the morning and half around lunch. For the last two days I have not given him the half in the afternoon because his tics have not been AS bad as they had been. He does seem to be craving less food during the day.

He is cute though. He asked to play in the sprinkler so I let him. When he came in to bathe he said, "Mom we forgot to walk." I am glad he doesn't see it as a chore. I told him we would walk tomorrow. Working on the weight will take some time, but we are starting off well!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

First Time in a Long Time

This evening was the first time in a long time that Elijah's deafness caused me to be scared to death. We had walked around the block and I was going to water the yard after that. When we got home, Elijah asked if he could play in the sprinkler and he didn't want his CI processors on so he was deaf while playing.

I sat outside and watched him play int he sprinkler and MUD! He was having a great time. I saw a nieghbor with two boys down and across the street playing in a sprinkler. I gestured to Elijah to come and see them and signed, "play go". He responded with a yes, grabbed his cars and took off running. I was walking behind him when I hear a car coming up behind us. Now Elijah does look both ways, but he was excited and my heart just jumps. I just knew he was going to dash into the street without looking. I took off running after Elijah hoping the driver would see me running. We do have "Deaf Child Area" signs on our street. With my heart racing and time seeming to stand still, Elijah thankfully LOOKS back and stops at the curb. He starts to look both ways....meanwhile I am STILL running and sign "wait stop" to him. He does and I get to him just as the car passes.

Now even a hearing kid, in the moment of excitement, may forget to look both ways but a parent can YELL at them to stop. Elijah is rarely without his processors so I usually have this advantage as well and I guess I just forgot that I needed to be more diligent when his "ears" are off.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Modern Conveniences!


So my fridge died yesterday and I heard back from the appliance repair company today. It will take seven to ten business days for the part to come in! OH MY!! We will be living out of a cooler for the next seven to ten days, maybe longer if you count the weekends and it truly takes ten business days.

I used one bag of ice yesterday and then bought three more. I bought one more bag today and have one and a half bags left! I have two coolers filled with stuff. One is for things that we don't use very often but still need and the other is for milk, butter, eggs....things we use almost daily. When making breakfast this morning I had to deal with everything dripping with water from sitting in the cooler. OH how I miss my refrigerator. Now at least I have my big freezer to store ice in and to put all of my freezer items, or I would have to ask family to store things for me.

I bought bacon last week, so we are going to be eating that up in the morning so it doesn't spoil. I'll have to buy more ice by Thursday morning, I am sure! A 10 lb. bag is $1.89, so I have spent about $8 on ice already! UGH! At least I am not in school having to deal with it and trying to get kids out the door every morning!

We will survive, I know, just a pain in the REAR!

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Monday and an Update on Doctor's appointments

Well I awoke to a refrigerator that was DEAD and I mean DEAD. I called an appliance company and they said they would call me and come out that morning. Jacob had an appointment at 8:45 with his pediatrician so off we went. He is now over five foot seven inches tall! His dad is five foot eight inches, so he may be passing his dad. While we were there the appliance company called and said they would be there soon, so we headed home!

It didn't take long, but the repairman found the problem! The computer in the unit had DIED, so I need a new computer. I didn't know the new fridges and stoves have computers, but they do. He said they would call me with the price for the part today or tomorrow, and it will be tomorrow because they haven't called yet. I'll call by noon tomorrow if I haven't heard from them. Most likely with parts and labor it will be around $500...UGH.

We stuck around at home and had lunch. Now for a surprise for you all. We are adding a new member to our family temporarily. Someone on the local message board needed someone to foster her cat while she starts college in Colorado. We met with her today and the cat is very nice. It is a Norwegian Forest cat, like our previous cat Ridgeway. She is going to pay me for litter and food and any vet bills. We will only have her until early June of next year. I know some people will think I am crazy, but I would hate to see this cat go into a shelter. The young lady has to live in the dorm due to a scholarship she received, but will move into an apartment next summer! The cat's name is Whisky!

After we left the cat and her owner, we headed to Children's Hospital in Dallas. Elijah has grown a little over three inches in eight months. Most boys his age on average grow two to two and a half inches in one year and here he is growing three inches in less than a year. However the doctor is worried about his weight since he is putting it on so rapidly, so we met with a dietician. She suggested cutting out all of his sugar drinks and move to sugarless kool aid and other drinks like that. Also adding more vegetables and dropping some of the starches. He doesn't really have to lose weight as much as NOT gain any more weight! I need to lose some weight myself so this will be a journey for me too.

After we left Children's we stopped by the Toyota dealership so Elijah could see his dad for a few minutes. Elijah enjoyed that. We then stopped at my dad's house to pick up another cooler to have at the house since we have no fridge! We then went to Albertson's to get three bags of ice, roasted chicken and some broccoli for dinner! Came home and made a good dinner and now Elijah is in the bath.

So trying to look at the brith side of today....at least the fridge BROKE while I was off work and not when I was working. Taking off to meet a repairman is not easy or fun. Of course, I wish it had not died. I also have a freezer in my garage and was able to put all my freezer stuff out there and I had a bag of ice to put in my cooler for my refrigerator stuff. Jacob had a great doctor's visit and continues to grow and BE A TYPICAL TEEN. Elijah is growing taller but needs to control the growing wider part.

Lots going on today and glad the day is done!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Summer is Winding Down!

Jacob and I have two more weeks of summer and then we both head back to school. I have a week of inservice and he has a week of ROTC. I think he is looking forward to it though. My little sister, who is 19, will be taking care of Elijah that week for me. She will also be getting Jacob back and forth to school for ROTC! Jacob and Elijah both start school on August 23rd. Jacob will be a freshman and Elijah will be in the fourth grade! I start my fourth year as director of the Deaf Ed. program in my district. I do enjoy my summers, but Iam a little ready to get back to work.

We do have a few things to get done before we go back to school. Jacob has his fourteen year old check up tomorrow morning. Elijah and I then go to Children's in Dallas later in the afternoon to visit with the endocronologist. The next week we have dental appointments and a visit to the pulmanologist for both boys.

Jacob will be going to referee school the 6th-9th so that he can ref soccer games this Fall. It will be a good first job for him and he is looking forward to it. He should have a busy freshman year with ROTC and the refereeing. He has already told me that he wants to do EVERYTHING there is in ROTC....we shall see. I am just glad he is motivated by something other than a computer.

Hopefully things will start well with Elijah. I am glad I have video recorded his tics to show his new teacher. It is so hard to explain to people sometimes. He has improved so much in his behavior and I hope it continues.

It has really been a nice summer this year. Last summer was the SUMMER OF DIVORCE! Lots of tears and upset. This summer we have had the beach, wearing a CI and hearing while swimming, car washes with ROTC, and just hanging at home! A lot less stress than this time last year!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tics and also some Language!

video

video

I have been trying to catch Elijah doing his tics for a few days. The first video of him in the bing bag chair is him doing his most common tics. Nothing too serious, but you can see him kick at the fireplace some or rather kick out some. He is also snorting/sniffing quite a bit.

I started the second video while he was in the bathtub playing. I could hear him ticcing and stomping his foot so loudly. It is not the best video I have ever taken, because I was trying not to let him see me. Well then I did put the camera on him and boy he starts just a talking. I do "interpret" what he is saying because the acoustics in the bathroom are not the greatest and I wanted y'all to hear the vocabulary he was using. You can also see a lot of tics. At one point he slaps himself in the face. That one is not too common, thankfully. I communicate with him using sign and gestures. I also wanted y'all to see how I get his attention by flicking the lights on and off.

Update on Tics!

I have been trying to catch Elijah with his tics on camera for two days, but it like he always knows when I have the camera. Maybe I need to just strap a camera to him so he won't tic! If only that would work, but I doubt it.

His tics have been better, but they are not gone. He is still slapping at himself and whatever is around, but not as much. He is making more noises, but they don't seem as loud. They do get loud, but they are not constantly loud. Right now he has the chewlery necklace in his mouth just a chewing away, but at least it is not his shirt.

I am stilling lowering one of his meds in the hopes of getting him off of that one particular med during the day. Three weeks until school starts and we will see where we are then.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Our Night Out!

Elijah and I attended a Cochlear Americas presentation this evening in Dallas. I really wasn't sure what it was about but we had gotten an invite so we went. We rarely get to go to these things because they are either on a school night or too far away.

Elijah's teacher of the deaf, who has bilateral cochlear implants, happened to be there. Elijah enjoyed seeing her. I also saw a few people that I had not seen in a while and catch up. I also met some really nice people. I spoke to the person who did the presentation and let her know if she ever needed me, as a parent of a CI child, to speak to a group, to let me know!

It was a two hour presentation. I did get to see some cool assistive listening devices that Elijah can utilize as he gets older. The coolest one was a blue tooth that he can wear as a loop around his neck and send the signal to his processors. I had seen one for a hearing aid, but not for a CI.



Elijah got to see the Nucleus5 processor and even try one on. It looked REALLY nice on him and so small compared to his Freedom processors. It will be a while before we can upgrade though. First of all, it is not compatable with his internal unit and secondly the cost. Insurance just paid for two new Freedoms so it will be a few years before they will want to purchase two new processors. I had seen the Nucleus5 before, but he had not and to see it on his ear really made me realize how much smaller it really is! If I had the money, I would buy him two more as soon as they were available to him!

It also comes with pretty cool remote control!








One thing that I was most proud of though, was Elijah's behavior. We arrived a few minutes late due to traffic. We were in the car for an hour! He chose apples and strawberries from the snacks they had available. He played his nintendoDS, drew some pictures, and played on my iphone(all electronics had sound off). He was having lots of tics, but he kept them as quiet as he could(not at my request). A few times he tipped his chair back and forth and I had to redirect him, but he responded well and fixed his behavior. I was able to whisper in his ear and ask him to discontinue something or answer a question. He used an indoor voice the whole time and never whined about going home. My heart never raced because I was afraid of him doing something that wasn't appropriate or out of control!!



At the end, we stayed and spoke to a few people. I got a new "Hear Now and Always" bracelet and key chain. Elijah picked up one of those personal portable fans that you might use when at an athletic event. Oh and it had lights on the blades and it spells out words....Cochlear, join our community(something like that). He really likes the fan! Even during all of this he was GREAT and I mean GREAT! It was awesome to see and experience!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Personal Responsibility

I have had two occasions this week to consider personal responsibility. I hope I can explain what I mean. The first time I thought about this was when someone posted on a cochlear implant list serve about getting a school district to pay for an FM system for the child to use at day care and at home. This costs around $2400 for the district and about $3000 for a parent to buy privately. The school does get a small discount. Now I am a firm believer in FM systems. What an FM does is bring the speaker's voice out over the background noise and make distance listening a non issue. An FM receiver attaches to the child's hearing aid or processor and the speaker wears a microphone.

I am such a strong believer in FM systems that we did purchase one for Elijah at home. Fortunately, our insurance paid $1000 for it, an online charity paid $1250 and a charity here in Dallas paid the balance off. However, this was a three month long process and nothing was set in stone. I didn't expect the school district to provide this for my son at home. Elijah does have an FM system at school to use. Like anything else, if we want the "best" for our kids then sometimes we need to purchase these things and not expect a school district or anyone else to financially be responsible for that. We got the FM for home use when he started playing soccer at the age of seven.

http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=145401&provider=top&catid=18
Please copy and paste this link, I can never get this thing to work on here.

The above link takes you to a story about a 12 year old whose CI processor was stolen while he was swimming out of a locker that wasn't locked. The mother had not purchased the extended warranty and loss/damage protection after the three year coverage expired. My heart breaks for this child, but again who is responsible for this. Shouldn't the parent have educated this child on the importance of protecting his processor. My son at the age of ten KNOWS to put his processors in "a safe place" when we go to grandpa's to swim. If I sign and ask him where they are he tells me. However, I as the the parent am the person who is ultimately responsible for his equipment. This is almost $8000 worth of equipment and it should be treated with respect. I never leave it up to him to make sure it is safe and I have always kept his processors protected under warranty and loss/damage coverage. THIS IS HOW HE communicates and makes his way in the world. It is not a video game or cell phone that can easily be replaced. A person's health insurance may or may not cover a replacement and even if they do it may take TIME to get a replacement.

Now maybe I am being harsh and maybe parents have not been educated. I recently went to the Statewide Conference on the Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. I went as a teacher, but have often thought of being a presenter for parents on the COST of raising a child with a cochlear implant. Parents should be educated when their child is implanted on the financial life long implications. That after three years a decision needs to be made about purchasing an extended warranty and loss/damage protection. What happens IF this is not purchased. That some home owners insurance MAY cover it, some may not and how long will that take. That there are upgrades every 4-6 years and the cost involved with that. JUST in general that this is a LIFE LONG issue, not just one surgery(maybe two!).

The cochlear implant has been a wonderful tool in my son's life and I cannot imagine him NOT having it. It is such a part of his life that I would never want him to go without it just because we couldn't afford the warranty or loss/damage insurance. I don't like credit cards but that is how I paid for his recent upgrade and with that upgrade getting a new three year warranty and loss/damage coverage. ALSO, if we ever have to use that loss/damage that there is a $100 deductable that has to be paid. The new processor carries what is left of the warranty, but THEN A NEW loss/damage coverage must be purchased through a separate company. It runs about $200 a year, but much better than having to spend almost $8000 to replace a processor.

I don't want to offend anyone. I am a single mom of two boys. Elijah is hearing impaired, asthmatic, has tourette syndrome, OCD and ADHD. He is an expensive child, but I don't think I would change a thing(well maybe just one thing, the tourettes, just for him not for my benefit). I am in debt due to all of these things and an exhusband who is trying to get on his feet financially. I am thankful for good health insurance a good job that pays me a decent living, but by no means enough to cover all of these medical issues. I am a middle middle-class mom who doesn't expect someone to bail me out for either a bad decision or an uneducated decision. At some point we all need to take responsibility for the decisions we make!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tics--They seem never ending

Elijah's tics have been really bad today. They seem to be constant. Along with the tics has come this arguementative attitude. How much this attitude is attached to the tics is hard to know. I have been very clear to him that the attitude is not acceptable. In fact he has lost computer privledges for the night and I hate to say the sooner he gets to bed the better. I can almost take the constant tics, but the argueing is just tough.

Just needed to vent for a bit. Jacob had a great birthday party today and he enjoyed everyone who came. Tomorrow will be another day.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Glad to be Home!

Well after a nice vacation from my kids(Is that a bad thing for me to say??), I am now home. I met my mom at La Madeline in Rockwall to get the boys. When I walked in and Elijah saw me, he ran straight to me with the biggest grin and hug. He had really missed me over the last three days. Jacob gave me a kiss, but no hug, typical teen!

I had a great time at the conference. Two of my teachers went with me and it was nice getting to know them better. Two of us went out to eat at a nice Mexican restaurant and I had two VERY STRONG margaritas and some fajitas. Well after we ate my stomach told me that they didn't like the drinks. I at least made it to the bathroom before I puked. At least I didn't puke on the other teacher. When we got back to the room we told the other person about it and I was teased the rest of the night about not being able to hold my liquor.

I also found out that I AM OLD! Not really. We were discussing our years of teaching and I said next year would be my 20th year of teaching. My newest teacher then said, "I was 5 years old when you started teaching" and the other one said, "I was 7!" I promptly told them they were still YOUNGINS! They then teased me about holding my liquor again! It was all in fun and again, it was nice to really get to know them. We stay so busy during the school year that we never really get to share and have down time!

The conference was great. I went to several good workshops and met some great people. Right now though I am too tired to even remember what I learned. I will have to pull out all of my notes to refresh my memory!

I even went to family night and had dinner with several other families who have deaf children. I saw some of Elijah's teachers from Plano and we got to chat and share stories. It is nice to be around other parents and people who understand deaf children and the dynamics of raising a deaf child!

OH and the exhibits were great. All three of us saw things that we really liked and after I get to look at the budget we may be ordering some new materials for the classroom!

I am really glad to be home and to sleep in my own bed tonight. Our three cats were very happy to see us. Tomorrow we will have a family birthday party for Jacob here at the house. Thankfully my house is pretty clean and I just have to do a quick once over tomorrow morning. The party is not until 3:00 so I will have plenty of time.

At least my batteries are a little more recharged when it comes to my boys. I love them to death and cannot imagine them every growing up and moving out, but a three day "vacation" from them was nice for me! Even if I can't hold my liquor!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Statewide Conference of the Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

I will be attending the Statewide Conference for the Educaiton of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Fort Worth Texas this Thursday through Saturday. It has been four years since I have been to this conference. It is held every two years! The last time we went, I was able to take both boys with me and we stayed in the dorms at the Texas School for the Deaf. I went to workshops and the kids stayed in "daycare" at the school. This time it is just me going with two of my fellow teachers. I really enjoy this conference and meet a lot of really neat people.

There are several workshops offered during each session and you get to pick and choose what workshops you want to attend. I am hoping there are some on behavior(for students at school) and on language development. There are also a lot of vendors who come and I hope I get to see some neat things. I am hoping to reconnect with many people that I have met in the past!

On Thursday night there is a family picnic and I plan on attending. It will be put on by Texas Hands and Voices.

I also hate to admit it, but I need a mini-vacation from my kids. I'll let you all know what all I learn!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Webkinz!



Here is Elijah and his Webkinz pet, Trey. He received Trey as a birthday present from his friend Noah and Noah's brothers, Ben and Josh! (Thanks to mom Jennifer too.) We came home yesterday and we got Elijah all started online with Webkinz and Trey. We talked about names and he has a stuffed cheetah he names Tiger Jr., after one of our cats named Tiger. We call this stuffed animal Junior and it is one of his favorites. I suggested we call the webkinz Tiger III, or Trey for short and he really liked it. The cool thing is that the virtual pet online looks just like the stuffed animal webkinz.


Elijah really enjoyed buying things for Trey and putting him to bed last night. This morning he fed Trey and gave him a bath. This evening he had to work to make some more money to buy things for Trey. It was close to bedtime so I asked Elijah to put Trey to bed. I went over to the computer and he and Trey were playing "Go Fish". It really is a cute game and much better than some of the other game choices out there.

Last night we introduced Trey to all of Elijah's stuffed animals and to even more tonight. Elijah sleeps with about ten stuffies all together but Junior and Trey are right up there on his pillow and I am sure both will travel with us. My friend Jennifer said it is a good way to teach responsibility and I am seeing that. I also think it will be great for language development. All three of Jennifer's boys were so excited when talking about their webkinz pets at home and telling us all about them!

I had never heard of webkinz, but I will be looking for them for future gifts for birthdays and Christmas presents for children we know.

Friday, July 16, 2010

RSVP

As taken from Wikipedia--
RSVP may refer to:

"Répondez s'il vous plaît", a formal French phrase that means "Please Reply." It is with this meaning that invitation cards and similar documents are often marked with "RSVP".
A verb, meaning to respond to an invitation in the aforementioned context.

Tomorrow we are having Elijah's KID birthday party. Last year he didn't get to have one due to the divorce. We did have a family party back in April, but he wanted a swim party at his grandpa's house. I sent out about 15 email invitations. Of those about five did call and say they could not come and three did say they would come. Of the rest, I have not heard a thing. I wonder if they will show thinking that by not contacting me that meant they were coming. Now I am not the best about RSVPing myself, but I do remember more than not.

I don't want to complain, but I really do want Elijah to have a nice time and really he most likely won't care if a lot of people don't show. He will still have a good time.

Jacob's birthday is on the 23rd. My brothers Alex and Jerry are going to take him to the movies and hang with him for his birthday. We will then have a family party. I have been cleaning my house this weekend, because we are busy next week and won't have as much time to clean! Figure work on it a little at a time before the birthday party here for Jacob.

Anyway back to RSVPs, how do you all feel about them?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wordle

A friend today posted about a new website she had found called Wordle.net. I checked it out and really liked it. If you look to the right I have a link to my wordle that I made. I was able to put in the words and it made it up for me. I changed the colors and the layout a bit. It was really easy and fun. It was also easy to add onto my blog. I just wish it was a bit bigger! If you click on the picture it will link you to the site so you can see it larger! It would be cool to do it for an organization and then print it out to put on a t-shirt or something.

Just wanted to share!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rites of Passage!



Jacob started his real teenage journey today by getting his braces. There are so many rites of passage that teenagers go through. This is one of many, but not his first. He already had some chin hairs as well as some chest hairs. At some point he will hae to learn to shave, but he will need more to grow in first! He will be 14 a week from Friday which is hard to believe. He then has his first day in high school, ROTC, dances, and a driver's license at some point....I hope I survive that! Oh and I guess I shouldn't forget about his first date and first kiss!

Jacob did well today. He hasn't even complained. He'll get his lower braces in a few months!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Rest of the Summer--let's try again




I tell you this computer reacts to things rather quickly at times. I deleted my last blog, because I never meant to publish it and didn't have time to add to it right then.

Anyway, where was I? This week is really my last FREE week of the summer where I don't have a lot of demands on me. On Wednesday, Jacob will get his top braces put on. Elijah and I will have about two hours to kill, so we may roam around the mall. I need to get them a new swim cap to use while swimming. His current one is TOO tight. I am going to meet a good friend for lunch on Thursday in Greenville and that will be fun and hope to stop by and see another good friend on the way home!

Next Saturday, the 17th, we are having Eiljah's KID birthday party. His birthday was back in April, but he wanted a swim party at Grandpa's house, so we waited for the summer to have it. Hopefully there will be no rain, and there usually isn't in July in Texas, but we have had a lot lately. Jacob also has a ROTC car wash on that day!

The next week gets a little crazy. On the 20th I am driving the boys to my mom's house in Marshall. I'll drive back the next day and then head to Forth Worth for the Statewide Conference on the Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Two other teachers are going with me. I'll be there until Saturday the 24th. Jacob's birthday is on the 23rd so we will have a family party on Sunday the 25th.

I then have meetings in Greenville on the 26th and 27th. The first week of August the boys have several doctor's visits and a dental check up. Jacob will go to soccer referee school from Aug. 6-8 in Richardson. The next week is not to crazy, but I do have the Early Hearing Detection Intervention Conference in Dallas on Aug. 13th and 14th. I then go back to work on the 16th!

We will have some days with not a lot to do, but not for a long stretch. I have enjoyed the painting and not have may obligations the last few weeks. I am looking forward to both conferences and meeting new people!

Jacob has a week of ROTC activities the week of Aug. 16th. My not so little sister, who will be 20 soon, is going to sit for Elijah that week!

Before I know it, we will all be back in school, me included! I do miss work at times, but not the craziness, and it is always crazy that first week back!

I hope everyone else enjoys the rest of their summer.