Jacob and Elijah Shaddox are brothers. Jacob is 21 years old and just moved into an apartment with his girlfriend. He graduated from a technical college with an Associate's degree in Computer Maintenance. He works for a school district as a computer technician. Elijah is almost 18 years old. He is hearing impaired, has Tourette Syndrome, OCD and ADHD. He is a junior in high school. Elijah lives with his mom Mary and her wife, his stepmom. Mary has a bachelor's in deaf education and a masters in special education, and is an educational diagnostician. Life is always changing and this blog has chronicled many of these changes and will continue to do so!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

What a Week We Have Had!

If you look at the time that I posted this at the bottom of this post you will see that it is 5:00 in the morning. I am sittng here waiting for the AC repairman to show up. We woke at at 1:15 this morning to a warm house. We checked out the AC and sure enough it was 80 degrees in the house. The sticker for the repair people was on the AC and it said same day service, so I thought I would call and at least see if they had an answering service. Well, someone did answer and he said they could get someone to me this morning if I was willing to have them come. I said YES of course! So here I am 3 1/2 hours later waiting for him to show up....and it is not considered an emergency visit so no extra cost there.

Now, that is not the only fun we have had this week!! I went to see my mom last weekend and my honey calls me on Sunday night and tells me that the refridgerator is not working. OH MY! She moved all of the freezer stuff to the big freezer and I came home the next day. This fridge was only four years old, but two years ago I put $500 in it for a new computer. I figured whatever was wrong with it this time was not worth sinking more money into, so we went out and bought a new fridge at Best Buy. They have 18 months no interest, 5% off when you use there card and we got three times the reward points! So we did that this past Monday and it was delivered on Wednesday!  We also bought a five year maintance agreement on it! I won't ever go without that again on a fridge, those things aren't built to last like they used to be.

Now two weeks ago the boys bathtub faucet was dripping. The plumber I use came out and fixed it, but said this may be the last time we can just fix the spigot. I'll probably have to replace the whole system next time. Well, last night I noticed it was dripping a LOT and called him today. He will come out and try to fix it again under warranty and if not he gave me an estimate on how much to replace it. He is coming the end of next week, because he is going on vacation.

Of course, we bought the new kitchen table this week too, but that was by choice. Let's just say, it has been a heck of a week. I hope after the bathtub faucet gets fixed that this is the last of repairs for a while. The dryer is brand new and the washer is only five years old!

Oh quick update, the AC guy just came in. It is a part on the outside unit. He is going to replace it and we should be up and running pretty soon! I am just glad it will be fixed and I am not having to wait until later today to get it up and running!

I hope everyone else is staying cool during this HOT summer!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ikea, the Mall and Tics!

My honey and I took the boys off for a day of shopping! We aren't taking  a vacation out of town this year, so we planned a few days to do things with the boys. We wanted to go to Ikea and just look around and take a look at their beds. Jacob is in need of a new bed and we want something that has a good bed frame. The cats are notorious for using the box spring to sharpen their claws! Jacob was in a bit of a fowl mood for the first 15 minutes or so, but then when he saw a recycle container to throw plastics in that he wanted, his mood don't ask me why, teenage boys are strange, but when we said he could buy it, he was SO happy!

So, we finally make it around to the beds and he is more open to looking at them. We don't see anything that he likes, until we round a corner and find a simple brown bed fram that has drawers on the bottom on each side! Well, he liked that! The cats tend to chew on his cords and he could store his headphones and other items in the drawers. We then went and looked at mattresses. We found a few he liked, but they were a bit expensive, so we are going to check a mattress store in town. We haven't gotten the bed frame yet, but I plan on buying it for him for his birthday!

My honey and I were walking around the dining area and started looking at tables. We decided that we wanted a new kitchen table and found one that we agreed on very quickly. It seats four people but has two inserts that you can add to seat up to eight. We even agreed on a color! We decided on chairs and went on shopping. Well, we wanted to find some place mats for the kitchen table and couldn't find them. We went back to the dining area and I saw some other chairs. Well, we then spent the next 20 minutes debating the chairs. Jacob was so funny, he finally just sat down and shook his head. He didn't quite get WHY this was such a hard decision for us. We finally decided on the second chair we saw the second time around! They were a bit more expensive, but looked more sturdy.

Once we had all of this decided, we went and ate lunch in their cafeteria! They have good food there and we enjoyed ourselved. We then went and picked up the table and chairs downstairs near the check out and bought all of our items. Well, we had a heck of a time getting it into the car. I had left some items in the hatch and JACOB of all people was just a grinning and giving me a hard time! It is nice to see him happy though. We managed to get everything in and went to the mall!

Now, during this whole time in Ikea, Elijah kept asking WHEN we would make it to the Lego store. He did pretty good, but boy his tics were high the whole time we were walking around. He was making a lot of noises. Some were because he was impatient and some were just tics! We ignored them, but it was hard. We finally made it to the mall though! Elijah and I went to the Lego store and Jacob and my honey went to Hot Topics. Elijah chose a Lego set to buy with the money he had earned from chores. Jacob and my honey returned and Jacob had bought a SHIRT for Elijah with his money! He got him a black shirt with a "creeper" on it that is a character from some video game. Jacob really does surprise me at times! He and his brother can really disagree at times, but then here is Jacob being a good big brother and spending his own money on a shirt for him! Jacob even enjoyed looking around the Lego store a bit!

We then went to the Cheese Cake Factory and we each got a piece of cheese cake. Elijah even chose this HUGE piece of cheese cake and ate almost all of it. It was chocolate and I enjoyed watching him eat it. We spent $32 on cheesecake, but hey, it will probably be the only trip we make there all summer. The only thing bad about Elijah eating something with a lot of sugar is his tics tend to increase....well, they did! We listened to them for most of the ride home, but again, it was worth it.

We arrived home tired and full. We pulled in all of the furniture. Jacob got his laptop and said he might take a nap. He has drivers ed. class tonight. I gave Elijah the iPad to play on for a while and I stretched across the bed.

We had a really nice day today and had a lot of fun! I'll post pictures of the table and chairs when we get it put together! I can't wait to get Jacob his bed!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Skin Its! Pros and Cons!

Elijah has been wearing Skin Its on his processors for about six months now. I thought I would write about some of the pros and cons of the Skin Its.

PRO--There are more choices then you can even imagine when it comes to picking out a design.
PRO--Both kids and adults can choose from the designs, because they cover so many designs. I think this is especially important for teens who are sometimes stuck in the middle.
PRO--They stick on the processor very well and most people think we purchased the processor with that design.
CON--Once you take them off, you can't stick them back on and have them look as good as they did before.
CON--If you have a problem with the processor and have to replace part of the processor or controller, you will need a new SKIN IT. They were on sale so I bought some back up Skin Its.
CON--Be carefu putting them on, they do stick quite well and you want to be sure you are putting them on correctly.
PRO--They seem to have a sale quite often. I signed up on their email list and there are promotions all the time.
PRO--They hold up really well and can last a long time. This is good!
PRO--Most people don't use earmolds on their CI processors, so the SKIN IT can help differentiate between left and right if you are bilateral. Elijah has Batman on his left ear and Superman on his Right ear. We have even changed out controller and had Superman/Batman ears!
PRO--They wrap around the processor, so they go on the left, right and on the back part of the Freedom. I don't think they go on the back part(where the buttons are) of the N5.

I won't say the cost is a PRO or a CON, because they have so many sales. They run about $14.95 plus shipping and handling, so be sure you wait for a sale. As you can also see, there are more PROS then CONS, so they are worth the price. Please add to my list by leaving a comment if you have one!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Took The Boys Swimming

We went to my dad's house to see him for Father's Day. The boys went swimming while we were there. I am happy to say, that we were able to water proof Elijah's CI. We pulled out his back up Freedom processor, put in the rechargeable battery and found the aLoksak bag and swim cap. It took a minute to fit it on just right, but we got it. He only wears one CI processor when he swims. I had to fix it a few times while he swam, but overall it went well. I remembered to increase the sensitivity so that he could hear through the bag and swim cap. Swimming has become much more enjoyable since he can now hear while he swims! Behavior is a lot better too!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Choosing Oralism For My Son

When Elijah was born 12 years ago, I had been teaching deaf children for  nine years. I knew what a cochlear implant was and I was a proficient SEE signer. Elijah was diagnosed at the age of five weeks as having a hearing loss and at nine weeks with auditory neuropathy. Once I started doing the research about cochlear implants and auditory neuropathy(AN) I realized that I wanted Elijah to have every chance to speak. I started signing with him right away. He was a premature baby who was developmentally behind in all aspects. He did start using some of his first signs around the age of twelve months. He was implanted at 17 months with one CI and turned on at 18 months. We haven't looked back since. I continue to sign with Elijah when his "ears" are off.

You may wonder why I chose to write about this today. I think sign language is a beautiful language, but not everyone in the world speaks it. You may be limited in how you communicate and it may also limit your reading skills. Notice I say, IT MAY LIMIT a person, I didn't say IT HAD TOO! I have many deaf adult friends who are doing well and communicate just fine! However, I have many former students who struggle at times and even some of those deaf adult friends do too. I chose the CI so that Elijah would have choices when he grew up. I want him to know sign, but I want him to have that choice and not be solely dependent on it. There are HEARING people out in the world who think lipreading is just as good as signing. They think an interpreter isn't needed and that the deaf person can understand just fine. There are deaf adults who have to advocate for themselves daily and I am sure Elijah will have to learn to do that too to some extent, but I wanted him to be able to communicate daily with his peers and others in his life.

Today I ran up against this struggle, trying to help a friend get an interpreter set up. I can't get into the details, but I was flabbergasted at how so many people don't understand the Americans with Disabilities Act and how it applies to access to communication for people who are deaf/hard of hearing. I will have to teach Elijah how to advocate for himself, I am sure, but at least he will have the language to do it.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rechargeable Batteries!

Oh how I love using rechargeable batteries in Elijah's Freedom processors in the summer.(pictured left) It makes life so much easier. We have four rechargeable batteries and I charge two during the day and he uses the other two. At night, I switch them out and the process starts all over again. We use rechargeables all summer long, unless we travel and then we go back to disposable batteries. It is not fun having to carry around a charger and extra batteries, that can be lost! Using the rechargeable batteries also saves me from having to use the disposables, which Elijah can go through in about three days. That is six disposable batteries every three days! That can add up quickly! The rechargeable batteries last him all day too, so we don't have to worry about changing out batteries in the middle of the day!

You may wonder why we don't use rechargeable batteries all year long. Well, Elijah has the Freedom processor that has the battery rack that holds three batteries(pictured right). When he goes to school, he uses an FM system and his battery rack is removed and the FM is inserted, which has its own battery rack with it. He doesn't use his own battery rack(pictured left) all day. His battery rack has been lost at school before, and I don't want to take the chance of losing a $200 rechargeable battery when a battery rack costs around $40 for two of them(I think, it may have gone up). A battery rack is a lot less expensive to replace. Also, the rechargeable batteries will only last so long too, so why use them during the school year when he won't even be USING it with his FM. Even if he had an N5 processor I would use disposable batteries. The FM runs off of the CI batteries and if the rechargeable runs out, then there is no way for him to use his CI because I am not sending a back up rechargeable to school. They could easily be lost. The FM system also uses up that battery quite quickly and the rechargeable just might not last all day. The school district also supplies batteries for school, so he doesn't use his own disposable batteries at school! This means, his disposable batteries are used before school starts, after he gets home and then on the weekends. I don't hassle with trying to use disposable batteries on weekends.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Jigsaw Puzzle

The boys and I went out shopping the other day and on a whim we decided to buy a jigsaw puzzle. I let Jacob choose the puzzle and he went for this one, which is 2000 pieces. I thought, no problem we can do this and I still think we can, but it may take all summer!  I remember doing puzzles with my mom when I was a kid, and how much I enjoyed it. I thought it might also teach Elijah some patience, but so far he is just wearing on my patience! We will keep trying though. I have found that working on the puzzle gives Jacob and I a chance to talk. It also gets him off of the laptop for an hour or so a day, which is a good thing. He will be 16 next month and he is just growing up too fast. I have to make this time with him! We had an interesting conversation last night while working on the puzzle. We were listening to the news and the story was about the two dads in the Target circular in the newpaper. People were upset that there were two dads that were together as a couple. I didn't say much and then Jacob said, "What's the big deal? People just need to learn to be tolerant." He also shared that some other kids at school call him a "Ginger", because of his red hair. I had seen a story about this on "What would you do?" that comes on most Friday night. I asked him what he does when he is called that, and he said he ignores them. He said that they are just ignorant and don't know better. It was a good conversation and I was glad we had it.

Now back to the puzzle! Another tips when purchasing a puzzle, be sure you have a big enough table. As you can see we haven't gotten very far on the puzzle! You might also be able to see the board we had to buy at Home Depot, so we can move it off the table when we need to eat! We are still missing some edges, but hopefully we will find them soon. I hope to have more conversations with both boys as we sit around the table this summer working on this puzzle! I'll post more pictures as we make more progress. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Finally, Summer Is Here!

We all made it through another year of school. I think I was as ready as the boys were for this year to be done. I really had a rough few weeks, but it is all behind me now. Jacob finished off the year pretty well. He will be a junior next year and he will be getting his class ring. He starts driver's education on June 18th for three weeks! He turns 16 in July, but has to wait six months after the driver's ed class before he can get his license. Elijah will be going into the sixth grade next year! He had a pretty good year, but there were definitely some bumps along the way. We both survived them though.

I do have some school work during the summer. I am attending a three day workshop that is about 30 min from the house starting on June 12th. I then go to Houston at the end of July for a three day state wide conference for deaf and hard of hearing teachers. I am also presenting at that. I will be seeing two babies during the summer too for ECI services. One of my other teachers is helping out with that as well. I am also back on Weight Watchers and hoping to lose some more weight this summer. I have lost a few pounds so far, but want to lose more! My mystery shopping will keep me busy too! I have set aside several days for the kids and I to do things.

Jacob and I will be taking German lessons from my partner two days a week for the summer. We also set aside days to go to the Rec center here in town. I set aside one day for cooking lessons for the boys from me. Elijah will also be working on school work during the summer and of course, he will be playing either the Wii, on my iPad or on his nintendo during the day some. My plan is to try to limit that to three hours a day. We shall see how that goes.

I plan on taking them both shopping tomorrow for a few summer things. Both boys need some shorts and Elijah needs a swim suit. We plan on swimming at my dad's house whenever we can. Hopefully, it won't be TOO hot to swim this summer. I hope to get to the movies a few times and see some new releases. OH and we plan on going to my mom's house in a few weeks for a three days! That will give us all a break!

There are a few doctor's appointments that we have over the summer too. Both boys go to the pulmanologist on Monday. Elijah has an appointment with the psychiatrist towards the end of the month and he goes to the endocrinologist in July! FUN STUFF, right??

So that is our summer! I'll let y'all know how it goes and hopefully I will learn more German by September!