Saturday, August 30, 2008

You know your kids are tired when...

So, our good friends/neighbors (the ones the boys play with constantly) invited the boys to have a sleep-over in their tree-house... sort of a last hurrah of the summer.

Really, I'm not a big fan of sleep-overs, for predictable reasons, which have nothing to do with these friends. So we said, "Yes". Had dinner together, roasted weenies and s'mores over a campfire, got the kids (five out of our six, jointly) settled up in their nest for the night, and went home.

One of ours ended up coming home, about 12:30, because he couldn't get to sleep. I think the others finally quieted down at about 11pm, but still got up at 6:30... earlier than their hosts. Who, I might add, very graciously called in the morning and invited the Sleepless One to come on back over for breakfast with the crew. He was out the door and down the alley in his pajamas and gumboots before I could blink!

This is what happens with my kids. Even if they stay up late, they still get up early. But the bill comes due later. I can tell they're tired this evening because...

* Wyatt melted down about any little thing,

* Tate (my best eater!) cried at the dinner table because he didn't want to eat the corner of his cornbread which had been contaminated by contact with the cranberry/orange sauce,

* Gunnar, after announcing that he was starving, refused to eat, accidentally spilled his milk, and cried about it.

Hmmmm, frustration, over-reaction, emotional drama, and clumsiness. Yep, all the signs are there.

Interestingly, after a warm bath and clean jammies, Gunnar was a bit more philosophical. He'd been crying because Wyatt was furious with him over some spilled Legos. Gunnar thought that Wyatt might try to kill him, (perhaps a bit of exaggeration thrown into the mix?!) I comforted Gunnar, reminding him that Wyatt has come a long way in controlling his temper, but he still has some distance to go. Gunnar said, "Yeah, you can tell he's losing it when he gets his Squeally Pig voice."

Oooo. He nailed that one!

Hearry Maids _____ #3

That’s what Tate called his HA’s. He had a few speech errors (good grief, he was only 3!), but most of them he self-corrected as he began to hear better with his HA’s. Still, I loved that little nickname.

Every time he said it, I pictured two little “maids”… you know, Swedish, or Swiss, maybe. Two little “hearry maids”, perched in his ears, calling out the messages to him. They would be wearing little blue jumpers, because his HA’s and earmolds were bright blue.

Of course, I can barely draw a stick figure, so I can’t “show” you what I imagined, nor can I find it online. A cross between these two is the closest I could come!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fictionary #1

Apparently, I'm told, the Washington Post runs a little friendly competition. The invite readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

One of the winners...

Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

And then there was sound _____ #2

So, after the phone incident, I had a call in to the doctor. Tate has a pretty high pain-threshold, so I thought it possible that he might have an ear infection. The doc looked in Tate’s ears, saw nothing unusual, and suggested that he might be congested, and we should give it a couple of weeks to see if anything changed.

Really, I knew it wasn’t congestion, but figured that two weeks wouldn’t make any difference either way. At that point we were referred to our local university’s Audiology Department, for testing.

These are very fine people. They saw Tate three separate times, made it as fun and pleasant for Tate as they could, and even managed to do a non-sedated ABR test by having me bring him in at nap-time. (He’s a very sound sleeper!) While they did a thorough job of explaining the tests and results to me, I really didn’t comprehend just how much my little Tater-bug was missing. Next, we were referred to Children’s Hospital, in Seattle, and met an angel in disguise, our Audiologist, Kimberly.

Honestly, if there were some kind of award I could give to the people who have been the most helpful to us, Kimberly would get the first one! She was unfailingly kind, always patient, genuinely encouraging, and a font of information without being overwhelming or too ‘clinical’. She has a way about her that is completely professional, while making you wish she would move in next door.

When Kimberly met us, having already reviewed the results from Tate’s previous testing, she retested Tate twice more before ordering his first HA’s. I thought nothing of this, at the time, it was just hoops we had to jump through to get Tate what he needed.

Warning - Bragging Mom Moment:

She later told me why all the testing... Seems that his verbal abilities didn’t match his test results. As well as he could speak, he just couldn’t be that deaf. So she kept testing him.

He was that deaf.

I remember Kimberly playing a tape for us, of a man speaking. It sounded “normal” at first, but as the tape went on his voice became quieter and more distorted/muffled. The tape reached a point where she said, “This is how Tate hears.”

I was shocked. My son heard that badly?

So the journey began…

Here’s Tate, having impressions done for his first earmolds. He’s cooperative and patient, but puzzled by this strange experience.

And then, August 14, 2002… the Big Day!

Tate looks mildly annoyed, as if he were thinking, “What is it with everyone messing around with my ears?”


And then the “Ah ha!” moment.

Saint Gunnar?

I’m no art expert, and those who are probably look down their noses at me for saying that I like realism. There are things about art I’ve never understood.

Why are holy people painted with shiny gold disks around their head? Do they bump into each other? Do they show up if you look in a mirror? (Not that I’m likely to ever find out...) All I know is it’s like a flashing neon sign that says, “Look! A holy person!”

So, what does this mean?

Bird Boy

I have no idea what got Wyatt started on his “bird kick”. At first I thought he was just making excuses to distract us during school time (we see a lot of birds in the trees outside the room where we usually do school), but this interest has persisted. Of course, his birthday last month was a great opportunity to feed his interest – he got some great books :0)

I love that this is HIS interest. He’ll sit still (a very rare event in Wyatt’s life!) to watch birds, he’ll draw birds, he’ll look them up in his books and listen to their calls, and he even made this robin himself. He found a book at the library that combined two of his interests – how to fold paper airplanes that look like birds and actually fly… sort of. By the time he’d colored this one (VERY heavy crayon) and modified it with about a roll of tape, it didn’t actually fly very well. But that was irrelevant. Look at his face!

It's Mine

Otherwise known as "The Toddler Property Laws"

1. It’s mine.
2. It will always be mine.
3. If I like it, it’s mine.
4. If I can take it from you, it’s mine.
5. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.
6. If I want it, it’s mine.
7. If I can see it, it’s mine.
8. If I saw it first, it’s mine.
9. If I think it’s mine, it’s mine.
10. If I play with it long enough, it’s mine.
11. If I say it’s mine, it’s mine.
12. If it looks like mine, it’s mine.
13. If I can play with it better than you can, it’s mine.
14. If I’m doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
15. If you tell me I can play with something, it’s mine.
16. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it’s mine.
17. If you don’t/can’t stop me from playing with it, it’s mine.
18. If it’s mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
19. If it will upset me too much when you take it away from me, it’s mine.
20. If it’s broken it’s yours. No, wait, all the pieces are mine.


Friday, August 22, 2008

That's When I Knew _____ #1

I’ve been reading a few blogs lately, written by moms with deaf/HoH kids. I’ve gotta tell you, these moms are STRONG! Do NOT mess with these moms! Seriously, I am a FEATHER-WEIGHT next to them! I am in awe.

Frankly, we’ve had it easy. But one thing we didn't have (for Tate) was an early diagnosis. Apparently newborn screening hadn’t been introduced in our town when Tate was born, so we didn’t know.

There were little clues, but it really wasn’t obvious. (Okay, maybe I’m self-justifying? See for yourself…)

Our oldest, Wyatt, was not your typical kid. Smaller than average (as in, falling-off-the-growth-chart smaller), he did everything early. Walked at 8 months… mobility and no sense. And TALKED! That boy was talking in sentences when he was 12 – 15 months old. In the high-chair, “Done eating, down, go play, please.” Or, before bed, “Get it, snuggly-cuddly blanky.” Or, just to get a laugh from strangers, “GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY!” One day when Wyatt was four, or maybe almost five, he walked up to me and announced, “I’d like to learn to read today.”

When Tate was born, my (ex-speech-therapist) mom kept reminding me that kids are different, and I shouldn’t expect him to do things as early as Wyatt. And he didn’t, but he wasn’t behind the curve either. His baby-talk had some quirks that make more sense now, but didn’t set any alarm bells ringing. He had no “s” at the beginning or end of his words. “Hey Mama! It ‘nowin’! Let’ make a ‘nowball!” He mixed up his “m” and “n” sounds. But it was all very toddler-appropriate. And even people outside the family could understand him.

Tate’s vocabulary was phenomenal… especially in certain spheres, like insects, trains, and heavy equipment. One day, driving down the street, I pointed out some road-work being done and enthusiastically described three kinds of excavators. Tate gazed out the window, then looked at me calmly and said, “Actuawee, Mama, a back-hoe.” And he was right.

So his speech was not a tip-off. Could be because he did have more hearing then, than he does now – his loss is progressive. Also, I like a quiet house, which might have helped him be able to hear our voices. It probably helped that I have always been big on eye-contact as a respect issue, even before we knew about the hearing loss. And not having cable TV was probably a plus, as we spend a lot of time with books. Frankly, I think it had a lot more to do with the grace of God, and with Tate himself than anything I did.

But, Tate didn’t have the tolerance for sitting on my lap and reading that Wyatt did. I may have read too quietly for him to hear most of it. He probably only bothered when he really liked the pictures, or he just wanted a big snuggle. :0) (And he’s a VERY snuggly kid!) In retrospect, he was probably loving the sensory input, making up for the communication he was missing.

There are a lot of things I’ll never know. Is Tate “like this” because of his hearing loss, or would he have been “that way” anyway?

Tate was a wanderer. When Wyatt was a toddler I could take him out in the yard while I worked in the flower beds and he would happily play near me, chattering to himself. Tate would hang around for awhile and then just launch! He wasn’t being defiant or sneaky, he’d just go. Did he do that because my back was turned and there was no communication? Or is he just a happy-go-lucky, confident child, off to explore his kingdom?!

So, really, we had no idea until he was about 3 and a half. One day a relative called to talk with the boys on the phone. Wyatt chattered away happily, but when I handed the phone to Tate I saw confusion and frustration. I could hear the voice at the other end, and he probably heard something, but it didn’t make any sense to him. I remember him saying, “Whaaaaat? Talk to me! TALK to me!”

That’s when I knew.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hoarders Anonymous

Okay, right up front, this is a National Geographic photo of Bora Bora. It has no direct bearing on the subject of this post (rant), but it’s much nicer to look at than piles of clutter, and has a calming, peaceful effect, so there it is. (“Now, just close your eyes, and go to your happy place…”)

I had a delightful little conversation with a certain relative this evening, who shall remain nameless (to protect the both of us) about the crazy people in our lives and their crazy behavior. Hoarding.

So I have five things to throw out there:

1. INTERVENTION! People, this is a disorder we’re talking about!

2. Honestly, do something before you or your loved one ends up like THIS. Because we really can’t throw anything away, can we?

3. Or like this story a friend told me. You know how people who lived through the depression saved everything? Well, my friend was cleaning out a relative’s house and found a box labeled: “Pieces of string too small to use.” Seriously.

4. It can be done. I recently (with help) hauled two full-size pick-up loads out of our garage while Kerry was out of the town, and he hasn’t left me! ;0)

5. It is STUFF. It can’t love you back.

A Day in the Life of My Ears

I love my boys. Really, really I love my boys. But here's the thing: to put a positive spin on it, they're "highly verbal". They talk. A LOT. As in incessant-stream-of-consciousness verbalization. It's like having your life narrated.

In fact, I will hear them talk exactly like a narration when they are playing some of their games. Example... I overheard Tate and Wyatt in the family room, acting out some scene with their Legos, and it went like this:
Tate's voice " 'Where are you going?' Indy asked."
Wyatt's voice " 'To the Lost Temple of the Golden Banana.' he answered."

Mostly they say reasonable, sensible things - things that make sense, and relate to our lives. Sometimes they say funny things. Usually NOT when they're trying to be funny. Like Gunnar calling his groin his "growin' " (as in, "He kicked me in the growin'!").

But what really makes my eyes glaze over is their descriptions of movies or activities that are "huge" to them, but next to meaningless to me. Oh, I listen. I try to be attentive. I try to understand the coherence of what they are describing, but sometimes it eludes me.

Gunnar came in to my office, while I was checking my email, to give me a description of a game they were playing. This is about the last TENTH of it:

Ok, where do you want me to start? (And by start, he meant start a new section, not as you might assume, from the beginning!)

The Polar Bear is the main criminal. He didn’t like the cold weather and wanted to go to Hawaii or something like that, but he went to the North Pole instead by accident.

And then he met the crab, which is his friend. And the mission that Wyatt is going to do is about the machine that makes earthquakes.

Now, that’s good.

AND get this mommy. No, don’t write this down… well, it’s like there’s a …. there’s this big machine which the polar bear rides in and then a little go-cart for the crab and he has a lantern.

Ok look mommy, I got a question, I would like a little snack.

Um, the crab … I don’t know really… he just popped up once and then he keeps appearing.

Okay, I got the bit about the snack - it was time for lunch - but the rest of it (and, trust me, there was a lot more) was all kind of unclear.

Summer Monsoon Fun

Rain. Rain. More rain. And, wait, what's that? Again, rain.

We've actually been doing a little bit of school. Might as well, since nobody wants to go to the lake today! And the boys actually like history... and why not? Heroes, battles, stories, and (drum roll...) the development of weapons. They actually ask me questions like, "In this year's history will people invent the Gatling Gun, or is that not until next year's history?" (We're on a four-year history of the world.)

I think the boys liked the Romans because of the Siege Towers and Battering Rams, (not to mention all the gruesome gladiators,) rather than for the advancements in quality of life. Let's face it, the concepts of hygiene (bathing) and closed sewers (always high on my list) barely even hit their radar.

Still, I have to say I'm proud of them. After reviewing the fall of Rome, we launched into the Celts. We even read "Beowulf", and I have to say I don't remember it being nearly so interesting when I suffered through it my sophomore year. They loved the bit about Beowulf pulling Grendel's arm off and hanging it in the rafters. Of course.

But, if you look down for the next three posts, you'll see just how much fun three boys can have with: a piece of string, a wrapping paper tube, a little cardboard, and some aluminum foil. As Gunnar would say, "waah - WAAAH!" (Voila!)

Testosterzone Flip Book #1

My boys love flip books. Do you know what I mean? Little books with a series of pictures that differ just slightly. When you flip through the book, the pictures appear to be moving. They like to draw their own flip books. And, being boys, their flip books are usually about some kind of disaster, or explosion.

So, in that spirit, they present YOU with three flip books to enjoy. I have no idea if there's any way to actually do that in a blog format, but you can either:

1. Just run your eyes across the series of pictures quickly, and use your imagination, or

2. If you're really dedicated to the flip book concept you can go ahead and print out these pictures, trim them to size, and flip through them yourself, over and over and over again.

(If you're a mother to a bunch of girls, and your idea of fun is a tea party or paper dolls, you should probably just skip right over all this!)

Testosterzone Flip Book #2

Testosterzone Flip Book #3

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Day at the Lake #3

Day at the Lake #2

Day at the Lake #1

Kerry's Birthday

Yes, Kerry celebrated his 45th birthday. I'm not saying he's getting old, but you'll thank me not to tell you about the 'test' he has to have on Friday!

Wyatt and Tate enjoyed watching him open his presents, while Gunnar practiced wiggling his eyebrows. (He may look angry in the photo - he wasn't.)

Wyatt would much rather have been skate-boarding in and out of the circle of people finishing their Fiesta Cake and watching Kerry open presents, but he settled for peeking at me through his helmet.

The Truth

If Gunnar is anything (besides cute), he is honest. Blazingly honest.

He says things that make a little bell in my head ring, but it happens so often I can't "catch" it all and write it down before I forget.

So today we were in the school-room getting ready for some history. As he came in he said, "We're not doing math are we? I hate math!" I think he's picked that up from his brothers, more than actually disliking math himself, and I said, "But Gunnar, you're really GOOD at math!"

He sighed and said, "Actually Mama, I like math. I want to be good at it, but I don't want to learn it."

Ever felt that way?!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Say "stinky feeeeeeet"!

Happy Birthday,


(Whew! Can I stop smiling now? My cheeks hurt!)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Civil War... again

Once again we spent a day at the annual Civil War Reenactment. Tate became interested in the Civil War over a year ago, so he's the driving force here, but a good time was had by all.

I mean, good grief, there were not only toy weapons, there were REAL ones!

The reenactors love to talk with the boys - tell them stories and tell them about all their "stuff". Some of them will even let the boys hold some of the weapons - some replicas and some are the real deal.

I think Tate's favorite is a little cannon that is a real-size replica of a signalling cannon that will shoot golf balls!

All the boys love the battles... ARTILLERY! Sometimes when they fire the cannons, they make incredible smoke rings that go rolling above the field.