Saturday, June 30, 2012

Guess Where I've Been...

... to see the baby!  I'm not sure the boys have ever seen such a little person, only five days old, except each other ;D  She was resting on her mama's lap when we arrived.

As soon as we held her, she decided it was feeding time, and we just wouldn't do!

(And wouldn't you know, the only 'good' shot I got of her face was this one?!  But it was a really dark day.)

After a good feed, however, she was perfectly delightful.  And guess who held her the most?

Allyson may have been a bit concerned about letting Gunnar hold such a precious bundle, but he supported her head and did a fine job.  Naomi completely relaxed in his arms and went to sleep :D

Tate had a turn with his little cousin, next.

Then she very cooperatively napped in her swing while we had lunch.

I know they've had some rough nights, and oh-boy we remember what that's like.  But she is beautiful and healthy and all is well.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Waiting for Summer, In 5, 4, 3...

... more days, apparently. I keep joking about June-uary, but around here June is usually wet and rainy.  I always joke that summer doesn't come until the 4th of July.  And guess what?

I'm right!  Here's the evidence...

Look at our forecast for the next five days - a bit of sun, but mostly rain.

 And then look at next week.

No kidding.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Baby Burrito

Can't get enough!

Dave, Allyson, and Naomi :D

All Day Long

Am I the only one who looks around the house at the end of the day, at all the detritus of living with three boys and a husband, and wonders, What did I do all day?  Because it doesn't seem to show.

In fact, just to prove to myself that I do actually do things, I decided to write them down on Saturday.  In spite of the house still looking... well... lived in, on Saturday I:

1.  Made strawberry jam.  Which didn't set very well, but tastes pretty good.  The sprinkle of cinnamon was a good idea.
2.  Cleaned the goldfish bowl.  And why am I doing that?  It's Gunnar's fish.
3.  Grabbed Tate (because the others were sleeping in all the way until eight!) and ran to our favorite bakery for donuts, to surprise the fam.
4.  Made a cooked breakfast to go with the donuts, in a vain hope of everyone skipping lunch.
5.  Washed dishes twice (before and after breakfast.)
6.  Went outside between torrential downpours to rescue the peonies (which the deer have thus far overlooked) from being beat to the ground by the rain.
7.  Forced the minions to tidy the living room so I can appreciate looking at my flowers without all their clutter competing visually.
8.  Spent an hour diddling around online.  Possibly more, but I wrote an hour and I'm sticking to it.
9.  Three loads of laundry.  Fun times.
10.  Figured out how to get into the boys' CAP eservices accounts and paid their annual membership dues for them.  Yay, me.
11.  Went for a walk with Gunnar.  Did not bring camera.  Probably should have as he was impressed by grass growing taller than his head.  Pretty sure it will still be there tomorrow.
12.  Made gourmet lunch of boxed mac and cheese, and there was much rejoicing.
13.  Washed dishes.  (#3)
14.  Cruelly forced Wyatt to sit down and transfer the answers from his standardized testing into the little bubbles.
15.  Sorted the boys' school work between stuff-to-keep and stuff-to-recycle.
16.  Mobilized the minions to empty all the garbages and recycling between more rain showers.
17.  Moved more books downstairs, so the house won't collapse.  Not that it probably would, but I'm a little paranoid about 110 year old balloon-framing.
18.  Made minions clean up several million Lego pieces from the floor of the playroom we just cleaned yesterday.
19.  Finished vacuuming said playroom floor.
20.  Dust mopped upstairs.  Left pile of dust bunnies for boys to clean up when they vacuum the stairs.  Hopefully, soon.
21.  Dug lemon balm (growing in the alley, escaped from someone else's garden) to transplant.
22.  Made giant pitcher of sweet tea with lemon as an alternate way to get caffeine without drinking Coke (my weakness).
23.  Threw chicken, green beans, cream of chicken soup, and stuffing mix into crockpot for dinner.
24.  Read the book my bro/SIL gave me for my birthday.
25.  Ran upstairs to turn off and unplug my computer as a thunderstorm rolled in.  (Paranoid?  Maybe.)
26.  Reset all clocks after power came back on.
27.  Picked through wilted salad in fridge to find enough for everyone to eat at dinner, with crockpot chicken.
28.  Dishes.  Again.
29.  Let Kerry talk me into watching two-and-a-half hour sci-fi movie with the boys.
30.  Wondered what on earth ever made him say he thought it was a movie I would really like.  (Does he have no idea what kind of movies I like, after 18 years of marriage?  Or does he just say that to trick me?  One of the mysteries of life, I guess.)
31.  Showed Tate how to recharge his CI power cels.
32.  Resisted impulse to call my brother and ask if my SIL had gone into labor, naturally.
33.  Sleep.

And this, my friends, is why I have thousands and thousands of devoted readers.  (eyes roll)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

White Nights

We just passed through the longest day of year, here in the northern hemisphere, which means our days are really long, and the twilight is even longer.  This drove me crazy as a kid.  I hated going to bed when it was still light out!  But we get used to it.  Long summer days are just something I took for granted until I lived in Australia and (very briefly) Hawaii.  It had never occurred to me how different things are closer to the equator, where there's not much variation from summer to winter, and very little twilight.  And since I know that some of you bloggy friends don't experience this, I thought I'd show you.

In the winter, when we're tilted farther from the sun, we get barely eight hours of daylight.  The sun rises around 8am and sets just after 4pm.  People go off for a full day of work or school and they are leaving and coming home in darkness.  On the other hand...

Right now the sun is rising by 5am and doesn't set until almost 9:30 pm.  Well, that's if the world were a smooth, round ball, so the sun actually appears over the hills a little after 5, but you get the idea... lots of daylight!  And it's actually light much longer.

Do you have much twilight, where you live?  I just learned that there are three definitions of twilight - civilian, nautical, and astronomical.  Officially they're defined by how many degrees (of angle) the center of the sun is below the theoretical (smooth world) horizon, but defined more practically -

Civilian twilight means the sun is gone (or not up yet) but you can clearly distinguish things without needing artificial light.  During nautical twilight you can still see the horizon and outlines of landforms (and sailors would be able to take readings which require the horizon and a bright star to be visible).  Astronomical twilight has to do with their being enough light still refracted in the atmosphere to obscure sixth-magnitude stars (the dimmest ever visible to the naked eye) and isn't really very useful to most of us.

For our sake, I'm thinking of civilian twilight - which looks about like this to my eye, very blue

Just for fun, though, this is how the camera sees it.  Much brighter!  That was a really long exposure.

Looking to the west, I see a sliver of the moon, and a lot of brightness where the sun has already set.  You can see why, in Scandinavia and Russia, they call these white nights.

Looking down into a shaded corner of the yard, you can see white fever-few, my solar-powered garden lights, and light from my neighbor's house beyond the fence.

When the sky is clear and the sun goes down, the evening just gets bluer and bluer until it is finally dark.  But summer nights are never as dark as winter nights.

Here it has finally gotten dark enough to trigger the light sensor to turn on the street light.

Can you guess what time I took these photos?  Right around 10pm.  No kidding.  Twilight extends our day from about 4:30am to 10pm.

What is it like where you live?

Monday, June 25, 2012

She's Here!

Naomi Lynn
6 1/2 pounds of joy

One tired Mama, and a proud Papa :D



Some days just go like that.

After a crazy-busy week of back-and-forth to Seattle, motivating Wyatt to finish his testing, starting therapy with Tate, and trying to keep the fam on an even keel, Kerry noticed that we had no plans for the weekend.  An intolerable situation, from his point of view. (See my eyes rolling?)

And that's how we ended up having a lovely family (of six) over for lunch on Sunday.

And this is what happened:

*  The bread I started in the bread-machine before we went to church didn't rise properly.  I think I added salt when I should have added sugar (not enough "food" for the yeast?)  There was just time for a quick run to the grocery store before our guests arrived.

*  I cut my finger, slicing veggies in a hurry.  Then realized...

*  The sweet tea I made the day before had leaked all over the fridge.  Sticky.  Oh joy.  When they arrived, to find me with my head in the crisper, I told them they were SUCH SPECIAL COMPANY I decided to clean the fridge in honor of their visit.

*  I forgot to serve the potato salad, and found it (in the fridge) after they left.

*  While the kids were playing a game outside (maybe sardines?) Gunnar crawled through dog poop and got it all over himself, requiring assistance getting undressed (to keep it out of his face and hair), an immediate shower, and special high-power load of laundry.  I'm not sure there's water hot enough for that kind of situation, but we tried.  Ewwww.

*  And the upstairs toilet is clogged.

*  As our (very-much-enjoyed) company left, I looked around the house at the dishwasher full of dishes, the sink full of dishes, the leftovers that need to be put away, the crumbs on the floor, the movie that needed to be returned to the corner store within ten minutes, the sand spilled in the boys' bedroom, and noticed the forecast for several days of rain... I reminded the boys that they needed to mow the neighbor's lawn.

*  But Kerry insisted they shouldn't work on the Sabbath.

What about me?

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, June 25, 2012.

Outside my window...  a few clouds rolling in, but a lovely, lovely morning.

I am hearing...  only birds, and silence.  What are the boys doing?  Should I be worried???

I am pondering...  the need for projects.  We're not doing ANY schooling over the summer, so the minions are at my disposal ;D  They do better when they have work, anyway.

I am praying...  for my brother and SIL, at the hospital right now.  She's being induced today!

I am thankful...  for how well Tate is doing with his CI.  It will be interesting to see how his appointments go this week.  His Audie in Seattle will put him in the booth to see what he's really hearing, and his therapist will undoubtedly be comparing where he is this week with last week.  So much progress already!  But a long way to go.  :D

I am going...  to stay home today, Lord willing!

I am reading...  have been too tired to do much reading this week.  Crazy!  Looking forward to getting back into The Book That Made Your World...

I am learning...  my limits.

I am looking forward to...  holding my niece!

Around the house...  flowers from the yard.  Apparently the deer don't eat peonies ;D

The Mother Load...  birthday presents to find a home for, books to read, books to catalog, projects to organize, appointments to make...  the usual.

Noticing that...  when Tate turns off his HA to work with his CI he talks really quietly!  Not sure if he sounds loud to himself or if he's just being cautious/courteous because he can't tell how loud he is.  I'll have to ask him.

Something I want to remember for later...  the funny things Gunnar says.  We're growing out of so many little cute things, but he still has a few.  Like, My friends are all sleeping in so I'll just tiddly-poop around until *** can play.  I have no idea where he picked that up.

A favorite quote for today...  The truth hurts, but lies kill.

One of my favorite things...  when good friends come to lunch who don't mind that you didn't clean your bathroom.  Oops.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  Tate's mapping appointment in Seattle, Tate's therapy appointment here in town, choir practice (kind of weird, this time of year, but we're having a summer fund-raising concert in July), and.. ???

A peek into my world...

At least there's something the deer don't eat...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

That's How We Roll

Friday night Wyatt asked me if he could really sleep in on Saturday.

Well, how long do you plan on sleeping?

Until eight o'clock.

Well, alrighty then.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Question and An Answer

My South African friend wondered what a consignment store is.  I love questions like that because they reveal what I take for granted.  Although, Felicity, you may have them and just call them something else.

A consignment store sells used clothing and other items (like a thrift store) but the store splits the sale price with the person who brought in the item.  The one I'm referring to is a children's store that sells gently used clothing, toys, books, and bigger items (cribs, strollers, high chairs, etc.) at reasonable prices.  The best deals are usually on baby and dress-up clothes because they hardly get any wear and are often practically new, but I've bought a TON of stuff for my boys over the years. 

And as the boys outgrow things, I can sell them on account also.  I'm sure consignment stores have varying policies, but in general they'll accept a limited number of items each month per consigner, and the items must be clean, in good condition, and seasonal (no winter coats in summer).  They size them, organize them, price them, and display them, and when they sell we split the money.  Items are marked by the month they came in and each month the price is marked down, until after a certain amount of time what doesn't sell is donated to charity.  My consignment store will call if it's a big item, like a crib, to see if you want it back.  I tend to sell bigger items on Craigslist and only consign clothes and toys I don't care about getting back.  It's a great deal for budget-conscious families who aren't fixated on everything having to be new.

Make sense?

What about the rest of you?  I guess I assumed that this was common all over America.  Yes?  No?  Do you consign?  Do you buy used?  Do you thrift shop?

There are things I won't buy used - underwear (ewww), socks, and shoes especially.  But most other things are fair game.  We've found a lot of really nice things at Value Village and Goodwill.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Brain Dump


I've been so consumed, this week, with Tate and his CI  - which is pure awesomeness, by the way - that you'd think nobody else lived in this house.  And from the noise level, I can assure you that is not the case.

1.  I mentioned our big Fathers Day / June birthday celebration.  My baby - baby, I tell you - turned eleven.  That should be against the law, but then again, consider the alternative...  His last present came in the mail today - another set of Geo-Mags.  Aunty Tami and I bought him the exact same set (great minds work alike) which is just fine.  Geo-Mags are like Lego - more is better.  Since we had all the family together for Fathers Day, his actual birthday - Wednesday - was kind of anti-climactic.  A trip to Coldstone (gourmet ice-cream) made it all good :D

2.  I always have great intentions of launching the boybarians onto a new chore schedule, but the reality is a bit more spontaneous.  I call them to report for duty, explain the task at hand, and they salute and execute.

3.  I've been lamenting the feeling that I'm not getting anything done, and set about to rectify that this morning.  Is it a bit pathetic that I'm excited that we cleaned out a closet and the game cupboard?  And that I'm actually telling you about it?  Jena, you'd be so proud :D  It wasn't exactly a blitz, since there was necessarily sitting involved (sorting out all the K'nex pieces), but we all worked together and got a lot done.

The older minions carried tubs of books down from the school room to the playroom/library.  I may be a bit paranoid, but this house is one hundred ten years old and I don't trust the old balloon framing with too much weight.  Any books we aren't using in a given school year need to move downstairs.

Of course, we had to make room for those books, and the closet... well... too bad I didn't get a before and after.  We cleaned out a TON of stuff.  Games and puzzles the boys have long grown past.  Books nobody reads.  And it's past time to face the reality that I am not the "let's do a fun craft!" type of mom, and move on.  Somebody else can go wild with several bags of colored foam shapes, craft boxes and frames to decorate, face paint, beads, googly-eyes, and colored glitter-glue.  I almost felt guilty, but the boys aren't exactly distraught.

4.  We loaded the back of the van with all the crafty stuff, games, puzzles, books, as well as out-grown clothes from the semi-annual try-everything-on fest, and we're ready for a trip to the consignment store and Goodwill.  Hallelujah and Amen.

5.  Our boys and the neighbors had a big air-soft battle.  In their yard, thankfully, since I'm not keen on having a bazillion plastic BB's decorating mine.  I should've gotten a photo.  We don't have official air-soft protective gear, so the boys have to improvise.  Gunnar wore his bike helmet and snow goggles, but we haven't figured out how to make Tate's bike helmet accommodate his CI, so he substituted his fur-lined hunting hat.  Plenty of padding, but it might get a bit warm!

6.  Public school finished today, and we gloated a little, having finished a week ago.  And it would've been sooner had we not taken three weeks off last fall.  I'd do it again, if we could :D  We watched the kids walking home, right about the time the rain started.  Irony, much?  Welcome to June-uary.

7.  Tate is challenging himself to spend lots of time using just his implant.  The therapist told him the more time he spends with the implant the quicker his brain will adapt, and Tate's the kind of kid who rises to a challenge. 

I pulled out the library books on CD after lunch today and sat with him while he gave that a whirl.  I had no idea what I was getting (as far as audio quality) so this was interesting.

Why, oh why, do they feel like they have to include music in the background???  Or sound effects?  All I wanted was a voice reading the story, not theater!  That just makes it harder work to listen, but we tried.

First, a children's book about Martin Luther King, Jr.  While the choral music was lovely, it was incessant and kind of loud, relative to the speaker.  And the reader himself had a very deep, dramatic voice (kind of like James Earl Jones).  Tate did okay, though.  The speaker read fairly slowly, with pauses between each sentence, which really helped.  And I could tell that Tate could distinguish the sound/cue to turn the page from the reader's voice.  Good!

Next we popped in a Jean Fritz book about John Hancock.  It was a chapter book with a lot more words per page, so Tate had to work harder to keep track of where the reader was in a sentence, or on the page.  But he did great!  This one also had incessant background noise (grrrr!) but it was quieter, relative to the voice.  I wanted Tate to track with his finger, so I could see if he was really able to stay with the reader, but he kept forgetting to do it and I didn't want to distract him, as he was enjoying the story.  He laughed at the funny bits, and immediately gave me a puzzled look when the CD malfunctioned, ("When John Hancock was 38 years old-old-old-old-old-old...") so he was actually doing great.  He told me he couldn't tell it was saying "old-old-old-old-old-old", but suddenly it sounded like a generator.  Yes!  Good listening!

That CD seems to be scratched, so we gave up on that and we'll try another one tomorrow.  I'm amazed, though, that he was able to follow along so well.  He told me he wouldn't have understood the words without seeing the text, but he was putting it together in his head.  It's only been three days!

I had him look away and try to repeat words I said to him and I was AMAZED.  Some he didn't get at all, and some he got some of the sounds, but guessed the wrong word.  But some he nailed.  Baseball, Wyatt, and I love you.  Though he told me that was too predictable ;D

And, he informed me, I have 'graduated' from a drunk, sleepy, slurred mouse to a sober, sleepy, slurred mouse.  But he may have been joking ;D

Thursday, June 21, 2012

And... Back to Seattle

So, back to Seattle again.  It's starting to feel like I could drive this freeway in my sleep, but I don't think I'll try it ;D  Grandma Grasshopper chauffeured us today anyway - soooo nice to have her company.

At Tuesday's appointment Kerri offered to bring us up to speed and give us the Neptune processor as well as the Harmony, but with so much to process (ha ha... I made a pun) I felt a bit like this.

Good thing we started fresh, today, because the Neptune...

 ... as amazing as it is, feels a bit more complicated.  Kerri (the Audie, not "my" Kerry) did a great job of demonstrating and explaining.  I keep telling myself that in a few weeks this will all be second-nature to us.  Well, especially to Tate.  And it really is amazing.

I didn't bring my camera today, because it would've been a bunch more pictures of Tate looking thoughtful while he listens to sounds and points to numbers on a chart.  (See Tuesday's post if you didn't get enough of that ;D )  For most of our time today, Kerri showed us gadget after gizmo and explained what they all do.

The funny thing - well, kind of funny - is that we're going to swap out a bunch of the pieces of the kit.  (Accessory/cosmetic pieces, nothing critical.)  The day we met with the head of the program and chose everything, we really had no idea what we were doing or what pieces went with what.  We didn't understand which cables went with which processor or headpiece, and which colors/accessories went with what, etc.  I think it was the first time she (the doctor) had filled out that paperwork and we didn't have any physical examples in front of us, or even a chart that showed everything, which would've been helpful.  So we made some choices we're re-thinking.  Like different lengths of cables with certain head-pieces.

Also, Tate got to choose three colors from this sample...

to snap onto the Neptune (like you see below).  He picked the darker blue, the neon green, and black.

I kind of talked him into selecting white instead of black because should it ever fall off or get dropped in the lake, white would be easier to find, don't you think?  But he just remembered wanting black, not white, (insert adamant Tate-voice), so we're swapping that, too.  Also, turns out the blue he ordered is the most popular color, hands down, so that is on backorder.   But that's all cosmetic stuff.  We have the neon green in hand, and the device is perfectly usable right now.  Whew!

Since Tate has already maxed out all three programs, she ran him through his paces and set three new programs and downloaded them onto both processors.  Again, the goal is for him to be able to work "up" through the programs, as he is comfortable.  Like the volume on your stereo or TV, however, there gets to be a point where enough is enough and more is not helpful, so he may not swoop through these as quickly, and that's just fine.  If fact, she commented (I think I remember right) that he's already at the level she was cautiously hoping he'd tolerate within a month of activation.  So, good job, Tate :D

We'll be back again on Tuesday and she'll put him in the booth to see what he's hearing.

I know this is not exactly a fun process for a thirteen year old boy.  I mean, it's not painful (other than the surgery, which wasn't bad) or agonizing, but it's just not fun.  It's a one-and-a-half to two-hour drive each way to Children's Hospital.  These mapping appointments are an hour-and-a-half to two hours each.  That's a lot of sitting in the car, and then sitting in an appointment trying to pay attention to a lot of talking, and then - bonus! - more sitting in the car to get home.  Fun times!

I'm so thankful that he is old enough and mature enough to see that the process will be worth it in the long run.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In the Kitchen

I was in the kitchen, making dinner and talking with Tate when he pointed to his HA and said, "It's off.  I'm just using my implant."   I realized he was staring intently at my face (speech-reading), so I slowed down so he could read my lips.  And he was doing an amazing job.

At that point he told me my voice sounded different than yesterday.  Yesterday everything sounded the same.  Maybe louder or quieter, maybe a little higher or lower, but all the same sound.  In fact, we watched The Hunt for Red October tonight, so he could point it out, and it wasn't what I had thought.  If you haven't seen the movie this won't make much sense, but if you have...

It's the sound you hear inside the sub when a torpedo has acquired the target.  Sort of a "buh-WHEE".  Tate was quick to clarify that what he heard the first day didn't sound exactly like that, but it was the closest thing he could think of to describe it.

So back to the kitchen... as Tate was watching my face and listening to me talk, I asked him what he hears.  He said he still can't make out words, but I sound like...

A drunk, sleepy, slurred, squeaky mouse.  

I've never been so flattered ;D

Off to Therapy

Tate had his first therapy appointment this morning, up at Western Washington University.  They have a fabulous hearing and speech program.  It's great to have such easy access to them.  We don't feel at all like we're "settling" to avoid the drive to Seattle.  Oh no.  We've got awesome people working with us :D

Didn't take any pictures and I don't have anything dramatic to report.  But it's good :D  I mean, he's only had the processor one day. 

With the implant only, (meaning the therapist was covering her face with a screen), he was able to discriminate some ling sounds from others, but the ee is really tricky.  They also had him trying to distinguish word pairs with same or different numbers of syllables, and he did pretty well at that.  Then one syllable words with same or different vowel sounds.  Oh my, those vowel sounds are tricky!

With the implant only, he really can't identify any words yet.  Some sounds he could get, though.  I can't remember any of the actual words, but sometimes he'd guess a word with the same initial consonant.  When you add in speech reading (meaning he's scrutinizing the speaker's mouth and face) he's able to get quite a bit.  Not sure how much the CI is playing into that, or if it's his excellent interpretative skills.

Of course, he's already maxed out the volume on Program 3, and the signal he's getting from the implant is pretty faint, so we're looking forward to new programs tomorrow.

His homework is
*  Spend as much time as he can using the implant alone, along with speech reading, to shift his brain over from focusing on the HA to focus on the CI signal. 
*  Play a game like UNO (limited set of colors, numbers, and words) and announce each card before playing it, so he can use just the implant and speech reading to guess the cards.
*  Listen to books on tape (okay, modern world... CD's) and listen/read with just the implant.
*  Of course, we can all talk and read to him any time :D

Basically, the more time he can spend with just the implant, the faster he'll adapt to it.

So, onward and upward :D

Let Him Hear

He who has ears to hear, let him hear...

That verse from Matthew has been on my mind, lately, for obvious reasons.  And today was our big day...


A little deja vu?  But this time we had Kerry with us, too :D

Tate was scheduled for a post-op, first.  This doc took a look down in his ear and at the incision to make sure everything was healing well.

We were able to watch on the screen as he removed a couple of stitches that hadn't quite dissolved.

I wasn't kidding when I said the surgeon - Dr. Horn - looks young!  We have complete confidence in him - he did a fabulous job and is personable as well :D

We had the all-clear to proceed to activation.  Tate met his new audiologist - Kerri. (Kerry with a "y" is dad.  Kerri with an "i" is the Audie.)  He'll have two - one for his HA and one for his CI.  And we'll be seeing a lot of her in the next few weeks.  She did a great job of showing and explaining what she was doing.  I like her already :D

If you're expecting something dramatic, I hate to disappoint you.  But we were not at all disappointed with today's results :D  All sixteen electrodes appear to be working!  (One wasn't, right during surgery.)  So here's what happened today...

She activated the electrodes in groups of four (going from low frequency to high frequency, I think).  Tate heard and responded to sound everywhere we hoped.  He's pointing on a chart to how comfortable the sound is for him.  The goal was to set Program 1 at a comfortable level for him.  Program 2 and Program 3 are progressively stronger.
The idea is that he'll work his way up, between appointments.  Kerri compared it to being in a totally dark room and having someone walk in and turn on a light.  At first you blink and squint, but then your eyes adjust and you can turn on a brighter light.  Then when you're comfortable with that, you increase it again, until finally you're in the daylight.  (Program 3 is NOT full "daylight"!  That's later...)  The idea is for Tate to gradually increase the volume on Program 1 and then cycle up as he is comfortable.  She predicted that as he got used to each program it would seem to fade until he wasn't really hearing it.

Does that make sense?  You experienced folks, am I explaining this right?
We'll see her again in two days and everything will get adjusted.  

It's a lot of technology to manage!  Felt kind of like drinking from a fire hydrant ;D  And since the learning curve is steep, we just brought home the Harmony processor today.  Thursday she'll bring us up to speed on the Neptune.  But for now...

feels like Christmas!

We haven't fiddled with any of the accessories to add color, but here he is, all hooked up :D

Kerri was right about him adjusting to the programs.   I think he was already on Program 2 before we hit the freeway.  But I should back up a little...

The million dollar question was, "What do you hear?"  When he turns his HA off and just listens with the CI he can definitely hear sound, but right now it is indistinguishable.  He had a hard time describing it, but compared it to a sound from The Hunt for Red October.  I think he meant the sound Jonesy heard when he knew the Russian sub wasn't a whale but couldn't identify it yet - sort of a mechanical harmonic sound.

Sure, it would have been exciting if he could immediately recognize voices, but we knew ahead of time that wasn't likely.  He hasn't been hearing out of this ear for six years.  If your arm was in a cast for six years you wouldn't expect it to "work" the moment you got the cast off, would you?  I'm thrilled he's hearing SOUND.  We start weekly therapy tomorrow to work on turning the sound into something recognizable and useful.

Kerri, the audiologist, said something really encouraging.  First, she asked Tate - when he turned his HA back on and listened with both ears - did the sounds in the CI seem louder, quieter, or the same.  He said they seemed quieter.  She nodded, and told Tate that right now his right ear (with the HA) is "teaching" his left ear how to hear.  But it won't be long before his left ear is hearing things his right ear can't hear, and his left ear is supporting his right ear.

In fact, she set the CI programs (for now) so they're NOT picking up sounds he's not hearing with the HA.  That would just confuse him.  But that will change.  :D

You know that verse I mentioned earlier?

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

I think it applies even better in the amplified version.  Goes like this:

He who has ears to hear, let him be listening and let him consider and perceive and comprehend by hearing.

Well, that sums up the process right there, doesn't it?  He needs to practice listening, consider what he's hearing, perceive the different sounds, and then comprehend!  We are so excited!

From Children's, we headed home, with a detour for lunch and a quick visit to Cabela's - Tate's equivalent of the Viking Valhalla.  By the time we got home and picked up the other boys, who spent the day with my folks, it was about time for CAP. 

I had talked with Tate while we were with Kerri about how loud and echo-y it is at CAP.  The squadron meets in the armory, which is basically a big concrete box.  Horrible acoustics, and there is a lot of yelling (not angry, just a military thing).  Kerry (dad) suggested Tate just leave the CI home, but Kerri (audie) said to wear it, just feel free to turn it down.  Even if it's really quiet, it's still stimulating the nerves.  Tate had toyed with bumping up to Program 3 (he's ambitious) but went back down to 2 for CAP.  Good plan :D

Meanwhile, I was ready to head for bed!  How can spending so much time sitting in a vehicle and sitting in appointments be tiring?  (Must be one of the mysteries of life.)  But my day wasn't done...

Kerry decided to go out to a movie with his brother, leaving me to transport the boys to/from CAP.  And my sister called to tell Gunnar that the b'day present she ordered for him had come, so we ended up spending most of the evening with her.  And - bless her heart - she fed us dinner and home-made ice cream :D

Then, when we picked up Wyatt and Tate, a bunch of the cadets had decided to go to DQ for ice cream and they really wanted to go...  all righty.  So we finally got home after 10pm, which is why you had to wait so long to find out how today went.

And now...  off to bed.

Therapy tomorrow, and back to Seattle the next day. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, June 18, 2012

Outside my window...  cool, green, and damp.  Crazy rain, lately.  Happy June-uary.

I am hearing...  the dryer tumbling (no hanging anything out to dry today).

I am thinking...  the boys are done with their schoolwork, so how is it that I got so little done today?

I am praying...  my SIL is due today, but no news  yet  - praying all goes well with the delivery.  And...
Tate gets his processor tomorrow!
Trying to keep our expectations realistic, but we are really excited!

I am thankful...  that fifteen family members spent the afternoon together yesterday and everyone got along.  I mean, I'm thankful that it's normal for us all to get together and get along!

I am wearing...  oh, I'm so dull.  Jeans.  Blue t-shirt.  Blue sweatshirt.  I knew I wasn't leaving the house today.

I am creating...  once I get my office cleaned up... I'm so excited!  For my b'day my sister got me a bunch of precut batiks (4 and 5 inch squares) to make something for ME :D  I'll have to plot for awhile, but I'll come up with something fun!  It's all bright and saturated colors.  Lots of blues, yellows, and turquoise.  My happy colors.

I am going...  slowly crazy?  Or, to Seattle (area) at least three times this week.  Once for Father's Day and twice for Tate's appointments, so it's all for a good cause :D (But still a lot of driving, for this homebody.)  But this is going to be the summer of Tate's appointments.  A few of you know what it's like, following up CI surgery with your kids means a LOT of appointments.  Not sure how many times we'll be down to Seattle, but at least the weekly therapy is here in town.  Plus, the kids are due to see the doctor, the dentist, the orthodontist...  It's a thrill a minute at the Grasshopper house.

I am reading...  The Book That Made Your World, by Vishal Mangalwadi.  Intriguing.  My brother and SIL gave me a book for my b'day and my cousin gave me a gift card to Barnes and Noble.  I think they were both thinking of me sitting through a lot of appointments this summer!  And they know I love to read :D

I am looking forward to...  seeing Tate's response to the CI!  And really, really looking forward to the benefit it can bring him.  Imagine how much more he could be hearing!  And hearing at the beach, with the Neptune!  Can't wait!!!  (Enough explanation points?)

In the kitchen...  made sweet and sour chicken for dinner and there is a lingering smell off garlic and sesame.  Time to light one of my birthday candles - another goody from my brother and SIL.

In the learning rooms...  peace and quiet.  Putting ideas and plans together for next year.

Around the house...  oh, the clutter!  Gunnar got some more Legos for his birthday (always a hit) and the boys have been playing with a lot of the "old" ones, with all the rain lately.  Jena, where are you?  It's time for a blitz!

The Mother Load...  I've been feeling overwhelmed lately.  So many details to keep track of!  Not that any particular thing is difficult; there's just so many of them.  Forms to fill out.  Stuff for CAP to file online.  Books to catalog.  Closets to clean out.  Vacuuming.  Sweeping.  Dusting.  Mopping.


Time to harness the minions ;D

Noticing that...  how is it that I can give my boys hair cuts while I am FULLY CLOTHED and yet end up itchy because there are little hairs inside my braHow???

Something I want to remember...  besides everything on the Mother Load?  Wait, that wasn't what I meant...  something I want to remember later, when the kids are grown:  how Tate LOVES to wrap something tiny in a HUGE box, even though - at age 13 - he must know that we're onto him.

A favorite quote for today...  Salute and execute.

One of my favorite things...  gift cards.  Kerry and my folks also got me gift cards for my b'day.  I think I like it because I can't get all guilty and feel like I need to spend it on the groceries, instead ;D

A few plans for the rest of the week...  back and forth to Seattle a few times... but it's all good.

A peek into my world...

 Guess whose hairy legs those are?

In Which It Seems Like Christmas And My Mind Wanders

Remember last Thanksgiving?  When my brother made an announcement, that he and his bride were going to "further complicate the June birthday situation"?  Make no mistake, we're thrilled about the baby they're expecting, but he's right about June being complicated.  Yesterday we had fifteen people gathered (sixteen, if you count the baby) which represented five dads and six birthdays that we celebrated.  So - yah - it's a bit like Christmas in June!

My SIL, Allyson, is officially due today, though babies don't exactly have a reputation for respecting deadlines, y'know?  Everything seems to be going fine, and we're praying for a safe and uncomplicated (!) delivery.

Meanwhile, did I take a single photo yesterday?  No.  But Grandma Grasshopper did, so I may have some to share later.  These will have to do for now. 

Last Friday evening we BBQ'd up at Grandpa and Grandma Grasshopper's house, taking advantage of the last sunny day on the forecast.  And we celebrated the boys finishing their school year.  Of course, I wanted a photo of the three of them, together. 

You'd think at their ages this wouldn't be too difficult.

You would be wrong ;D

Thank you, Wyatt and Tate, for smiling.
Gunnar, could you please open your eyes and not hold your award right in front of your face?

Lovely, Tate, just lovely.

Hmmm, you look almost normal...
Yes, they all get candy.  Finishing the school year is SWEET :D

Just a bit of difference, yah?
Gunnar (above) is the same age as Wyatt (below) - nearly eleven.

Maybe we'll try for individual shots, instead...

Wyatt has just finished his "transition year" - between Grade 8 and High School.

Tate has finished Grade 7.

And Gunnar, Grade 4.

And I have survived five years of homeschooling - something I never thought I'd be doing.

Does that surprise you?  It's true...

About the time I hit college, the church I grew up in began to change.  Sure you had choices of how to live your life, but if you were really doing God's best, you'd do certain things.  If you went for higher education, you'd go to Bible school.  You'd marry.  You'd have lots of babies.  You'd be sure you were "Growing Kids God's Way".  And by all means, you would homeschool.  (And if you were female, you'd grow your hair long, wear a lot of skirts and dresses, sew/knit/crochet, and go to women's events themed after tea parties.)

If you knew me at all, you'd understand how I felt.  Like I was being choked to death.

So, being the calm rational person I am (!), I figured I'd never have anything to do with any of those things.  Well, except maybe marriage, but even that wasn't a given.

(Are you laughing yet?  Go ahead, I don't mind.)

God certainly has a sense of humor.  So here I am - a married, homeschooling, quilt-making, (occasional) bread-baking mom.  Yah.

What can I say?  He changed the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4).

And I still wear jeans, prefer a BBQ to cucumber sandwiches, and whack my hair off when I feel like it.  Because my righteousness isn't there.

And while homeschooling is great, it doesn't make my kids righteous either.  In fact, I'm pretty good at getting through the academics, but the whole character and spiritual development is a lot trickier to get at.  And what matters more?  Yah

So I appreciate the encouragement and praise, but good-golly-Miss-Molly, we are still a work in progress in the Grasshopper house!  (Now what did I start out talking about?)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

It's My Birthday And I'll Clean If I Want To

Why not?  We had a work day at the chapel today, and boy-oh-boy did we get a lot done!

But let me back up a minute...

Two-thirds of my boys (guesses?) got up early to give me a surprise breakfast-birthday-party.  Sweet, or what?!  They found balloons and decorated the kitchen, laid out everything for breakfast (guess who cooked?) and even made me both ice-water (full of ice, the way I like it), and a cup of cocoa (nice and chocolate-y).  Kerry and Gunnar had gone out shopping yesterday and Gunnar had planned a whole procession of flowers that the boys were to carry into the kitchen.  But lest you think all was sweetness and joy, here's where things started to break down a little.  Tate didn't hear and Wyatt just ignored Gunnar's request for them to meet in the garage.  Gunnar decided to get their attention by hitting the "lock" button on the car keys, which makes the horn on the van beep, briefly.  But - by mistake - he hit the alarm button.  And then couldn't get it to stop.

Good morning, neighbors!  Happy Saturday!  

Welcome to the Testoster-zone.

Oh well.  Scrambled eggs and cinnamon rolls made everything good again :D  And then we were off to the work party. 

You know it's going to be a good day when one of the elders instructs you to "be ruthless".  If it looks like it hasn't been used, get rid of it.  If only part of it is there, get rid of it.  If it's stained/broken/moldy, get rid of it.  Albert, my friend, you are speaking my language In an odd sort of way, being released to do this kind of purging is a wonderful birthday gift :D

I sent Wyatt and Tate off to do "outside" work, and Gunnar and I headed for the basement to clean out closets and cabinets in the warren of Sunday school rooms.  And let me tell you, I know which teachers are tidy and which are "messies":D  (And my kids have loved all of you!)  Gunnar and I tidied and organized and cleaned and de-cluttered and filled a jumbo-size trash bag.  We designated one room as I don't know, and piled all manner of random things on the table (which may all end up at Goodwill) and another room for Sunday school papers - leftovers from past-years' curriculum (recycling?)

And we learned all kinds of things we never knew about the chapel.
  • Several decades ago they ran a Calvinettes program. 
  • Someone wanted to do 100 Craft Projects with Popsicle Sticks.
  • At one time there was a mouse problem.
  • We probably have enough brads to last until 2020.

But what we already knew about the chapel is this - we have great people :D  I bet more than twenty folks turned out to work this rainy Saturday morning.  Older folks, younger folks, whole families.  And everybody helped and got along, and there was joy and tidiness and yardwork and pizza for all.

And now to clean my office...

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Walk In The Woods

Almost summer, but not quite.  Warm, but not hot (63F/17C.. don't laugh, Felicity and Ruby, that's warm to us!)  And the sun is shining, which is what really matters.  And it's good to get out of the house.  Gunnar chose our route, down the alley and toward the hill.

These California poppies are his favorite flower.

We walk past the house where my dad grew up.  My grandpa built the little overgrown grape arbor.

We've just come up this hill.  You can't tell the steepness in the photo, but Gunnar used to worry a bit when I pushed him up or down in the stroller, he told me later.

We walk by my old school.  Those windows were my Kindergarten and first grade classrooms, with the cafeteria in the back.  Wyatt and Tate were the fourth generation of my family in this neighborhood school, until we pulled them out to homeschool

Gunnar loves to walk by this little farm.  Can you see what shares the meadow with the sheep?

A little Dutch rabbit.

We go past the farm and into the woods.  Both of us looked up and thought this was some strange bird, but it's just dead leaves from last fall, still caught in some branches.  Huckleberry bushes 'like' to grow out of dead trees, sometimes way up high on tall stumps.

Broad-leaf maples sometimes form a cluster of trunks.  Fun for kids :D

This one didn't fare too well in a winter wind-storm.  It started to fall but got caught in another maple.  They're both still living, but lean over the path.  We call these "widow-makers" and walk under them with care.  If you look in the shadows, you can see that part of one has indeed come down right on the trail.  That piece was about ten inches in diameter, which would really ruin your day.

We noticed an orange fungus growing on this one, which seemed unusual until we looked up.  It was broken off about 25 feet above us and was completely dead.

This tree appeared to be watching us.

For a moment I thought this cedar had a different fungus, until I realized it was more cottonwood fluff.

It's everywhere.  Summer "snow".

We've made our loop, and we're heading out of the woods, toward home.

But there's always something, just around the bend.

You'll see little rock towers - cairns - in the wilderness, to mark trails that are hard to follow, or may be covered with snow.  But this trail isn't exactly obscure!

One more treat before we get home...
... and back to chores and books :D