Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Beautiful things online

If you believe everything you see in the media, you
would be convinced all that lurks online are paedophiles, perverts, sex addicts and any other nasty you can think of.

Sure they are there but so too are all the most beautiful things as well.

My foray into "online" started way back when A first received his implant and I was online reading all I could on that subject. That foray online lead to the formation 10 years ago of CI Circle, a wonderful internet resource for parents that are seeking information about implants for their child, or contact with others who walk the same path, but perhaps are further along in the journey and able to offer advice based on real life experiences.

In my time online I have "met" so many beautiful people. I use the word "met" because I have met almost none of them face to face in person. I have met some of their children when they have travelled half way around the world and stayed with me, yet I haven't met their parents. Most recently Rachel came to stay with me which was very exciting as her mother and I have been online friends for quite some time now.

When CI Circle first started 10 years ago, there were 9 original members including me. All of the original 9 still communicate with each other today 10 years on. Granted not always as often as we would like but we still stay in touch, update each other on things going in our lives. We have shared in the highs and lows of births of children, illness of family and friends, marriages not surviving and other moments of personal reflection. At Christmas we send cards to each other and if you are really organised like Heidi you even get them to Australia from the USA not only in time for Christmas but with a family photo included. Each year I aspire to be as organised as Heidi but I haven't quite got there yet - my cards went, but not in time to get there by Christmas though : - )

Another person I have come to know in more recent times is Val. Val is it doing it kind of tough at the moment with her sweet boy having his implant removed because of infection and now going through all the processes attached to it. Not that Val would let you know it though, I am not sure I have ever met such a glass half full kind of person, she is truly amazing. As she said herself, you can't sit around feeling sorry for yourself or else you will get left behind while life goes on! There are a few of us CI Circle Ladies as Val calls us who have tried to be there for Val and her son. Not that we are close enough to be able to go over to her house bearing wine and chocolate, but she is in our thoughts and we send her messages at different times, even whilst she was in hospital and her son in surgery we were emailing knowing she could read them on her phone! Yet none of us would be in each others lives unless we had "met" online.

Jodi's blog today talks of someone she "met" online who she finished up exchanging gifts with. This lady had a profound effect on Jodi and many others as she spent many hours offering advice and support to parents via the Listen-Up forum. Such was her positive impact on so many, there is currently an outpouring of grief at her recent passing from inflammatory breast cancer. It is quite a thing when you stop to think about it that we as humans have this capacity to give such warmth and compassion and support via a written forum over the internet that can have such a profound effect on the lives of others that we have never "met" and in most cases probably never will.

It isn't that our friends and family at home don't love us and cherish us and be there for us. It is just that there is something about connecting with someone who has walked the same path, been on the same journey. All our stories have little differences in comparison to each other but none the less, there is this connection we feel. This shared journey connects us all. For each of us on our journey, we have "met" many people online but there is for all of us, a small bunch of people that we connect with at an even higher level. They become our dearest friends, who we share many of our thoughts and feelings with, and they with us. They become almost like our extended family spread all over the world. The funniest thing I find is if I go to speak to a friend or family member here about one of my "online family members" - I laugh at the look on their faces. WHAT THE ???? is clearly spread across their faces.

"You have never met this person in real life though"
"Ah no"
"But you know so much about them and their families"
"Ah yeah"
"But you have never met them, right?"
"Ah no, not in person"

And so it goes on! I guess if you haven't had it happen to you, you just don't get it.

I have been so fortunate to have so many amazing people join my extended family, my online family I haven't met in person : - )

However my New Year 2009 is looking very very exciting when I am going to get to meet in person one of my oldest and dearest online family members. She is one of the original 9 members that CI Circle started with. She and I have similar family dynamics, two sons pretty close in age, oldest being the one with hearing loss, both of our boys having implants. Her son is married now but when we met he was in high school/college days. I jokingly called her the "den mother" as she was the one of us with the oldest child and who had walked the pathway well before us. She and I just clicked right off the bat and enjoyed our conversations with each other online. In the most amazing display of generosity, this den mother has offered her accrued airline points to fly moi to the USA for the Cochlear Celebration conference in March 2009!!! She lives close enough to where the conference is being held that I am going to stay with her and we will commute to the conference each day. I was so astounded at her offer I must have asked her several times "are you sure about this?" - she was and my flight is now booked. I am so unbelievably excited. I am getting to finally meet one of my oldest and dearest online friends. I keep pinching myself to make sure I am not dreaming.

The funny thing is one of the things she shared with the group of 9 was how much she wanted to re-do part of her garden and then we shared the time with her when she finally had it done and had this beautiful part of the garden where she could just go and sit and have a cup of tea and enjoy her surroundings. When I knew for sure I was going, that was the first thing I thought of, that I would be able to sit in her garden with her and share a cup of tea in her special piece of serenity in her part of the world - how awesome will that be???

I'm sure I am preaching to the choir here since you are all onliners reading this, but there sure are some beautiful things to be found online.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

So many blessings

Ok I think this blog post might need to come with a warning "navel gazing may have occurred prior to writing this post" *smile*

Maybe it is the time of the year, I don't know, when there is anticipation in the air and of course the question that always comes up "so what do you want for Christmas?". Hubby asked me this again the other day, and honestly I couldn't come up with anything.

Like I said to him, I'm not much of a material/things kind of girl. I mean gifts are lovely, but then you have to find somewhere to put it. In all seriousness I have so many gifts already in my life, I think my cup runneth over as they say in the classics.

I have a wonderful husband and 2 gorgeous sons. Yep we are not the pretend perfection of the Brady Bunch or anything like that, we have our sh*t to deal with like everyone else, but we work as a family unit, we have a home filled with love and support, a safe haven for all of us.

I have my extended family, especially my brother and my mum - the cool kind of family that if you don't happen to touch base for a bit because life gets in the way, there is no guilt or emotional blackmail, there is just sincere warmth when we do catch up - but again if any of us needs the other for any reason, we are all there in a shot!

There are the friends that have made it in to my life via karate - those that share a passion for this stuff. People who make me laugh with their blog posts, others who send me the most beautiful messages via facebook, messages that take my breath away and at the same time make me feel so incredibly humble. Even parents of the kids we teach at karate, who take the time to tell us how much they value what we do and the care we take of their kids in the dojo.

Then there are the friends met on my journey with A. What a mixed bag they are, from all walks of life, all over the world, and each with their own unique story but with that common bond we share.

There is Mr 21 who just graduated from a Bachelor of Economics, at the same age equivalent as his hearing peers. Incredible achievement from the guy who implanted at age 3 had about about 50 words!!! And he is the most gorgeous young man to boot. Oh his mum and dad are pretty awesome too for that matter.

Rachel and her family - the ones who walked that path before us, and her mom that continues to educate and advocate for those little ones and their parents who are just starting out on the journey.

Val and her family - talk about a woman who looks at a glass half full! She is going through some tough stuff with her family at the moment, but doesn't let that drag her down - oh no, she not only takes it in her stride, she uses it to build those amazing bonds with her children and to use those circumstances as life lessons for them that will only stand them in greater steed as they get older.

There is the incredible mom I have known for over 10 years who has very generously offered to try to get me to the USA next year for the Cochlear Celebration, so I can stay with her and finally meet her. Best of all if I actually get to go there, we can get to share a cup of tea in her garden that she has had re-done in the time that I have known her. I have heard so much about it, I look forward to the possibility of just sharing that cup of tea and quite conversation in the beauty of her garden.

In a nutshell, really what material gift could I possibly need? I am already incredibly blessed by the people who have entered and become part of my life during the years of my own journey here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A tourist in your own town

This week it has been our pleasure to host Rachel for a few days. She has been in Oz for a few weeks and heads off to New Zealand after leaving us today.

Having someone visit your own town makes you think of places to go, things to show them, especially when the time line is tight.

So the first evening we walked around our local area and the resident wildlife were gracious enough to oblige themselves so that Rachel could take some nice shots of them.

The next day she was to present a seminar to a group of parents of deaf and hearing impaired children about bilateral cochlear implants.

However not before we squeezed in Glenelg and its surrounds, including the marina. Where else would we partake of lunch??? The Orange Spot Bakery of course - the first time I have ever had a sweet potato and spinach pasty and oh it was sooo good!

Off to the seminar and then home for a rest and a catch up. It is neat hearing about differences between the USA and here!

The next day it was off to Warrawong so Rachel could pat a kangaroo. Followed by the compulsory visit to Melba's chocolate factory and Woodside cheese - mmmmmmm

And with just a little irony, having patted the kangaroo at Warrawong, we chowed down on the same thing that night for dinner at the Red Ochre - very nice meal and nice company as well when some other family friends joined us.

The last full day was spent exploring the city, and looking for an Adelaide snow globe, because Rachel likes to collect them from each city she visits. May I say that Adelaide officially SUCKS when it comes to Adelaide snow globes!!! There is one small round one with nice stuff on the outside but a very small Victoria Square fountain in there - something like this but a little larger might be nice - but no can do. Then there are these larger ones with a photo from Adelaide kind of stuck up one side, very tardy looking - and that was it - nadda nothing!! How embarrassing - but get this!!! At the Central Market they had no Adelaide ones but one souvenir shop had two Sydney ones WTF????? Are you serious?

Fortunately though, the Central Market did turn it on for wonderful atmosphere, fresh food and lovely people. We headed home with some prawns and SA fruit for a yummy dinner.

Today we farewelled Rachel to the land of the sheep and wish her well for the rest of her trip.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What an amazing experience

B went on the school Quest camp this term. It is 2 weeks away in the Grampians. The whole undertone of the program is "perseverance, selflessness and community spirit" - not something one would usually link to 15 year old - boys in particular.

It is a great program where they really learn a lot about themselves and others.

Activities like abseiling.....

Or the solo night out, where one has to build their own makeshift shelter that they sleep in that night. They can see each other but have to be far enough away so they can't talk to each other - B's comment after he came home "gives you lots of time to think when you are by yourself"

Or the fun of working together as a team to build a raft to get to the other side and even though members of your team tell their "captain" it isn't going to work, he refuses to listen. So onward you and then well you were all right - check out B who was adamant he was going to get his shoes wet!!

Then of course there are the shots you get to see when they get home and you are really really glad you see them after they have arrived home. Afterall in order for them to take these shots, they had to be up this high at some point!!! Yes best their mothers didn't know that this is where they were...

The school uses mentors on these camps that are student teachers who are still studying and have chosen outdoor education as one of their electives. What an unreal prac placement for them too.
As if B didn't already have an awesome time but on his last day of school this week, he (and all the members of his group) received a letter from their mentor about her thoughts and experiences on Quest, her memories of each them. With it was a CD of all the photos she had taken including one printed on to the CD itself - it was a whole group shot with the "team sicko" written underneath them - of course they felt suitably proud to be labelled with that tag. Mum thought B came home from camp looking so buff because of all the things they did - it appears from the letter perhaps it was due to his inclination to swear of late, 10 push ups for every time he was busted swearing....hey if nothing else it built on his fitness right????

Saturday, December 6, 2008

They are sent to mess with your head!

Every wondered why we have kids? Sure it is to love them, cherish them and all that good stuff - but in reality, they are here to mess with our head, to stop us getting ahead of ourselves!

Take the hormone tornado of Friday afternoon.

Yesterday when hubby and I arrived home after grocery shopping, the hormone tornado (unasked and unprompted) came out and helped unload everything.

Then started putting stuff away! I kid you not! This from the ball of testerone induced madness at the world and all the rules in it, not 24 hours before.

This morning (when I should have been cleaning) I sat at the computer, whilst hearing snippets from the next room of B and his Dad making their home made version of ferrero rocher chocolates. It was really nice and B had the best time and really really enjoyed himself. In the craziness of life it was nice for Dad and son to spend some time together just hanging out doing fun stuff together.

Yup they sure mess with my head and keep me on toes - but wouldn't swap them for anything!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The numbers are in

OK so boy wonder has been working hard - note BEEN - he is now on holidays while we all have a week to go!!

He finished his last exam on Wednesday and today they were collected.

Italian 18/20 - now that just blows my socks off I tell you!
English 6 (max is a 7)
PE 38/40
Science 86% (with a note from his class teacher that was the top mark for the class!)
Maths 62%

He knew he hadn't done well in maths and it was a hard paper by all accounts but overall he is really happy with how he has done! I am pretty damn impressed myself *smile*

I called him today from work to let him know and he was quite chatty and we talked about the big picture stuff - got to say, still really love that he can chat on the phone with me like that.

End of the day the hormone tornado blew in to my office with a full on ready to rant about stupid rules, b***h management staff - oh yeah on a roll and then some - he could of got a gig on Kath's recent blog post I reckon : - ) Well as the story unfolded he was indeed in the wrong - try telling that to a hormonal 15 year old - and we talked about why the rules are in place and you don't have to agree with them buddy, ya just have to live within them.

My final words as we were almost home - I point to my head and say "look" and he is like "what you don't have any grey hair" to which I replied "yeah and lets just to keep it that way!!!"

He has chilled now, got home, hanging with his big bro and all that has been forgotten for now....you see, fate/destiny/higher order powers what ever you believe in really has just a sick sense of humour! They give you one to lull you into a false sense of security that maybe you have a handle on this parenting game - then whammo hit you with the bleeding obvious of the fact you should realise, like everyone else you have no clue!!

He is a good kid at heart and I know we will get through this and all I can do as mum is to be there, keep communicating and trying to guide him in the right direction -as he so elolquently put it today "Hey I have only had a couple of catch up classes and one Friday afternoon detention in 4 years at this school!" Yes indeed he has and that puts him well on top of the behaviour pool of some in his year level!

Roll on Christmas holidays - not long now and then I get the added bonus of having Rachel here with me for a few days!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The little details

Well when I left the world of the commercial biotechnology for a job in a school, many a person shook their head in disbelief. Why are you doing that? Aren't taking a huge pay cut? Won't you get bored? etc etc

Sure in my current position, I don't have the pressure, I don't have the long family unfriendly hours and perhaps sometimes not the challenges either.....but...there are other things like seeing young kids engaged in science and enjoying their time in the lab. Getting to try out new and exciting things for them to do in their courses the following year....

But the biggest thing is most definitely being on the ground at my boys' school. I am not a teacher so I don't attract the baggage some kids have when their folks are teachers. However it is because I am around that I really get to appreciate all the little things that happen in and around the school that wouldn't happen if I wasn't so accessible.

Take today...a member of staff saw me in the yard and approached me to discuss an issue that had been forwarded to her, and to get an understanding of the issue for herself.

Then later I returned to my work area to find a message on my phone from the head of special ed. A isn't in the special ed program at his school but he does get the extra time allowance for exams. He is just completing his year 10 exams this week. The message on my phone was the head of special ed checking in with me to see how A was going with his exams. I called her back and she just wanted to see how he was going, if anything else we hadn't foreseen had come up that we might need to look at for next year and the year 11 exams. How cool is that???

See, just because I am only a quick call or conversation in the yard away, I have conversations I know simply wouldn't happen if I didnt' work there - not because the staff don't care but because they get so busy.

Ah yup I sure do appreciate the little things these days....

Friday, November 28, 2008

One down, four to go

Well A has embarked on the year 10 exams this week. It has been put in the context of more a case of gaining experience in doing exams in readiness for year 11 and 12, rather than it being the be all and end all of their success in year 10.

Yesterday was Italian. No aural component for the exam this year, that comes next year. Instead they had to look at a picture and write a dialogue for the two characters in the picture. A had spent a lot of time studying, but he looked so nervous before he went in, poor little bugger. I told him being nervous was a good sign, it meant that it was important to him and he wanted to do well. I also told him, he had studied hard and done all he could do, whatever happened now, would just happen and there was nothing more he could do.

He came out of the exam feeling like he had done pretty well.

Next up is English. Which is kind of good really, gets the two subjects he feels are most challenging out of the way first, then it is on to PE, Maths and Science.

Friday, November 21, 2008


A good friend of mine sent me this piece, and it was so brilliant I have to share it here.

It is written by by Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., who is a physical therapist and has taught yoga around the world since 1971. Her latest book is 30 Essential Yoga Poses, and her Web site is http://www.judithlasater.com/.

Whilst I am not a yoga person I love what this article says to me; it really makes you think about things in a whole different perspective after you have read it...enjoy....

After the Laundry, the Laundry

Impermanence is the truth of life. Embracing it in our most basic daily activities can be the key to everyday ease.

Living with a busy family, I often feel just like one of the Tibetan monks I once saw making an intricately designed sand mandala. For months, they bent over the ground, arranging the sand grain by grain, and once their beautiful creation was complete, they cheerfully destroyed it in the ultimate celebration of impermanence.

While I don't create ceremonial mandalas, I do wash the dishes. And when I come back to the sink later, dirty dishes have appeared again. I fold and put away a basketful of laundry, and in no time, the basket is full again. Even my yoga mat is a reminder of impermanence. Just this morning, it was stretched out on the floor, filled up with my movements, and now it leans against the wall, empty and forlorn.

As the Buddha said, impermanence is the nature of the human condition. This is a truth we know in our minds but tend to resist in our hearts. Change happens all around us, all the time, yet we long for the predictable, the consistent. We want the reassurance that comes from things remaining the same. We find ourselves shocked when people die, even though death is the most predictable part of life.

We can even look to our yoga mat to watch this pattern play itself out. We often find ourselves attached to a never-ending process of "improvement" in our asanas. They do improve quickly at first—in the beginning, we are on a honeymoon of discovery; we grow by leaps and bounds in ability and understanding. After a couple of decades, however, our poses change much less. As our practice matures, it becomes more about consistency, deeper understanding, and smaller breakthroughs. This is not to say we won't continue to improve, but the improvement may be subtler. Oftentimes, we can no longer practice certain poses because of age or injury, yet we feel agitated because we assume that the poses of our youth should be the poses of our middle and old age. We are surprised when familiar asanas become difficult and formerly difficult ones become impossible.

What's the lesson here? Experiencing remarkable improvement on a continual basis, it turns out, is a temporary stage. Realizing this puts us in touch with the truth of impermanence; remaining attached to the practice of our past creates suffering in us. In India, the home of yoga, there is a traditional Hindu social model that underscores the change we continuously experience. Called the Ashramas, or Stages of Life, it defines four distinct periods in life, during which people can and should do certain things. The first, brahmacharya (brahmic conduct), is the student stage, during which one learns about oneself and the world; the second, grihastha (householder), is the stage of family and societal obligations. The last two stages focus on renunciation. During the third, vanaprastha (forest dweller), one is freer to begin a contemplative life. And during stage four, samnyasa (renunciation), one goes deeper, surrendering all worldly things and living as a simple mendicant.

The beauty of this model is its inherent acknowledgement of the impermanence of each stage of life. There is wisdom in this awareness—not just because our lives do obviously and unavoidably change but, more important, because when we accept this fact as truth, we suffer so much less.

Without having an awareness of impermanence, we typically fall into one of two patterns: denial or depression. Although we cannot escape the impermanence of life and the fact that we are going to die, we desperately deny these truths; we cling to our youth or surround ourselves with material comforts. We color our hair, Botox our foreheads, and touch our toes. Or, if denial isn't a good fit with our personality, we may unconsciously turn away from the truth by feeling depressed or withdrawn from life.

Yoga philosophy offers an alternative to these tendencies. It is to embrace the powerful truth spoken by all great teachers: the power of living in the unchanging eternal present. The first verse of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra states, "Atha yoga anushasanam," which translates as, "Now is an exposition on yoga." The power of this verse is often lost on readers who interpret the words as an introduction of little value. But in my view, Patanjali does not use unnecessary words. That first word is the key. The verse is intended to underscore the importance of the study of yoga right now. It encourages us to focus on what is happening to the body, mind, breath, and emotions in this moment. Now is a word that is powerful and sufficient enough by itself to be used as a life study, a sort of mantra. The ability to respond to now, to live in now, to enjoy each precious moment without clinging to it or pushing it away is the essence of spiritual practice.

Yoga philosophy as a whole is predicated on the notion that identification with the temporary, changing aspect of reality leads to suffering, while recognition of the eternal, changeless Self leads to peace. In day-to-day life, these concepts seem interesting at best and esoteric at worst. But remembering the eternal in daily conversations, tasks, and actions is really the key to transforming our lives. Unless we are able to return to the "big picture" of our lives, we will be caught up in the minutiae of being late for an appointment or losing a favorite earring. What gives life its juice is the ability to mourn the lost earring fully and simultaneously know it doesn't ultimately matter.

In other words, we can live to the fullest when we recognize that our suffering is based not on the fact of impermanence but rather on our reaction to that impermanence. When we forget the truth of impermanence, we forget the truth of life. Spiritual practice is about remembering that truth and then embracing it. In the past, I kept doing the laundry so it would finally be "done." Of course, it never gets done. Now when I look into the laundry basket, whether it is full or empty, I try to see it as an expression of what life is all about: moving through the different stages, surrendering to impermanence, and remembering to embrace it all.

When doing too well becomes an issue

Feeling a little frustrated this week....

Granted I am probably not the most tolerant, missing B like crazy - 2 more sleeps til he is home *smile*

Now I have told you before A is studying Italian this year and is doing simply amazing things. However when he has to listen to a pre-recorded piece of someone speaking in Italian, he finds that by the time he has interpreted what he thought he heard, he has missed the next bit.

So we had discussed the notion of having someone read from a transcript then he could hear and lip read to help make the listening part easier and give him equal access to that of his hearing peers.

I spoke to the person who liaises with the external examination people and he didn't think it was an issue as we were not giving A an unfair advantage over his hearing peers, simply ensuring that he had the best chance to hear and understand what was being said.
I saw A's Italian teacher the other day and raised it with him. I was a little non-plussed I have to say. His feeling was that A was doing so well, within the top 2 in his class on the last test, that we shouldn't be making changes just yet, lets just see how he goes. Well he hadn't really read and understood what we were even asking for, as he was talking about it becoming a written comprehension test when it was still going to be oral/aural anyway!!! I kind of felt like he was just saying that because maybe doing things differently was going to be an issue.
My first reaction was to bolt down to the special ed teacher's office and talk to her BUT I didn't. I waited until I could speak to A about it. I asked him his thoughts, and he wants a transcript and a person to read it to him.
I went home and spoke to hubby about it, I was actually quite steamed! This kid has made it to senior school with virtually no accomodations apart from teachers wearing his FM. He isn't looking for an easy ride here, his teachers know him and know he works hard and puts his best effort in ALWAYS!! Yet when he actually asks for something, there is this resistance because "he is doing so well".
YEAH but how about how damn hard he is having to work compared to his hearing peers on that one!! How about the fact he works extra hard all day every day listening in his daily environment to such a brilliant level that his teachers mostly forget he even has a hearing loss. BUT when it comes to one of his teachers having to do something a bit differently, I get, hmm lets not rush into making changes???? I think not!
So today I went to have a chat with the special ed teacher and voiced my concerns. End result we will plan a meeting at the beginning of the new year with everyone involved and get what A needs on the table and in place for him for the start of his school year next year.
Honestly I am still a little surprised that doing too well can work against you - but it seems like sometimes it does - unless of course you happen to have a mum that is a pushy b*tch! *smile*

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The world at his feet

In amongst my missing my baby like crazy his older brother has provided a moment or two.

He is of course studying Italian for the first time. He recently had to listen to a tape of someone speaking and then answer questions about it. He commented afterwards to me that he found it difficult because the person speaking spoke too quickly and by the time he had worked out what he had heard, he missed the next part. I remember Rachel telling me that when she did her French, they had someone read a transcript so they could read a little slower and more clearly so that she could hear what was being said and not be disadvantaged by her hearing loss.

So I have raised that with the folk at school and they are all happy to oblige but of course A had one of these coming up on Friday and time wasn't going to permit the transcription by then so we would just see how he went.

A was pretty happy afterwards telling me that his teacher was generous when he marked it. Further investigation found that he wasn't so much generous as marking the paper based on whether A had understood what was said and what the question asked. For example one was a street name, he knew it was the name of the street it was asking for but only got half the street name when he heard it - but the teacher marked it correct since he knew what was said, and what was being asked of him and gave the correct answer as he had heard it. We will get the transcription happening before the next one.

The most amazing part though came with A's later story on the Italian test. He has always been exceptionally good at "gap filling" in English - if he doesn't quite hear the word the first time, he can usually guess what it is based on the rest of the sentence he heard and putting it into context. We have talked to him about that in terms of his booth results for sentence testing versus individual word testing, so he is aware of his abilities in "gap filling".

So he tells me later that day "I realised just what an awesome gap filler I am today".

"oh really A and how is that?"

"well I head the one word but not the other in the statement in Italian. The comprehension question asked for which 2 words ask the question.... I heard the second, I knew the rule that goes with that type of question, so I knew which word had to go with the second one in order to be the correct question. So I put that one down and got it right, even though I didn't hear it all, I just guessed it with my awesome gap filling skills"

At which point, I am trying to collect my bottom jaw from the scraping on the laces of my shoes. OK I get gap filling in English - but now in the midst of hearing on a tape, in another language, having to remember the grammatical rules of that language - he gap fills to work out the answer to the question?????? What the????

Not a day goes by that he doesn't astound me with his capacity for adapting and just going out there grabbing that ball and running with it!

This kid with his nothing is impossible attitude, sure does have the world at his feet.
oh and for the record, scored 12/15 in the Italian test!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

One week and counting

one week down, one more to go....

When you are in the rush, rush of here and there in life, it is amazing just how much your kids fill your thoughts and life isn't it? Master B has been gone a week, well actually not quite a week, just 5 days but it seems like so much longer....
I miss his crazy arguments and reasons why he can't start his homework until after he has chatted on msn with his school friends, whose company he left not half an hour before.

I miss his mop of blonde hair that all too frequently I have to address with "you need a hair cut!"

I miss the attempt at rational conversation around "school is gay, teachers are gay, what a waste of the last 10 years of my life".

I miss the fact that even though he is a know it all teen, he still likes the fact that his mum comes upstairs each night to kiss him good night and give him a cuddle (or her cold hands under quilt if the mischevious mood strikes).

I miss having to navigate the chicanes of the meals area in the morning, me with 2 dogs in hot pursuit waiting for breakfast, Jimmi Hendrix junior strumming away on his electric guitar, squeezing in 10 minutes of playing time before we leave for school - his 2 guitars sitting side by side unmoved for the last 5 days are such a reminder he isn't here right now.
Bella, my gorgeous mutt, is also at a loss. Sure I'm here, hubby is here and A is here too - but not her beloved B!! The one who on arriving home every afternoon without fail, drops to the floor to smother her with pats and kisses on the top of her head. She laying there tail beating out that steady drum of pure heaven as she gets that special moment of attention. Then when the cuddles are over, she starts annoying him with the ball at his feet, til he throws it for her - yeah in the house, we are a doggy household - no apologies.

Instead I now find my quiet TV time interrupted with the continual arrival of a slightly soggy, split tennis ball in my lap and a big pair of pathetic brown eyes willing me to just pick it up and throw it for her.
It is an ironic and yet beautifully moving thing - this dear sweet boy who has at times been in the shadow of his older brother's hearing loss, sure leaves a big old hole when he isn't here.

Nine more sleeps to go and counting......

Friday, November 7, 2008

Oh the pampering

Well there is much that I could be doing - karate stuff like writing the newsletter or typing the feedbacks from the recent grading - but I am finding it hard to settle this weekend.

My baby is off on the experience of a life time Quest Camp!

Quest is a 2 week program run by his school (his brother did it last year) where they are away interstate for 2 weeks, abseiling, mountain bike riding, canoeing, rock climbing and finish with a 4 day hike out of the area. The reason they go for 2 weeks is because the fundamental ideal of the camp is perseverance, resilience, community spirit etc. Time for them to be away from home long enough to realise they can be self-reliant and they can manage by themselves.

It is sooooo going to be the best thing for my baby - we all know how amazing he is and what he is capable of - but he hasn't "got it!" yet. This time away hopefully will help him see that.

He like his brother did last year has gone into that "hmmm I'm going to be away for 2 whole weeks" phase where spontaneous cuddles with mum are a frequent affair, suddenly the other chair in the lounge room isn't anywhere near as good as plopping down onto the chair that mum is on and squishing in next to her. Or if Dad is lying on the bed watching something on TV that is enough of an excuse to stretch out alongside him for awhile to see what he is watching. Dont' get me wrong - loving it! but it is kind of cute to see these big grown up teen boys go through that phase of wanting that bit of reassurance before they go.

And mum??? Well I am not worried about him going away, I know he will be well looked after and will have an awesome time - but well he is going to be away for 2 weeks!!! My baby, the youngest of the nest, gone for 2 weeks.

Sooo what is there to do but pamper him stupid before he goes. Making him yummy special home cooked meals this weekend, his choice of favourites of course. Off to do the food shopping and of course all his favourite snacks landed in the trolley so he may eat like a king before he goes off to rough it in the bush.

Get this I even bought him a Whizz Fizz Christmas stocking today. He looked at it smiled and headed off upstairs to do his thing. I didn't realise he thought he had to wait til Christmas for it lol!! I told him I bought it for him to eat over the weekend - hey is off to the lolly free zone for 2 weeks, he might as well gorge himself now right??? You should have seen his face when I said he could have it now - it was a classic.

Ah yup sometimes it is nice to have an excuse to pamper them and even pander to them a bit - most of the time we are stuck in the responsible grown up parent role where we have to be sensible and make sensible decisions. Not this weekend - we will be in pamper city so he heads off next week full of reassurance on how much we love, how much we will miss him (knowing he will have a great time) and what a special part of this family he is.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A crazy life

Oh boy life sure is crazy sometimes isn't it?

All those plans and preconceived ideas on how things are going to be? Huh or so ya thought!

When A lost his hearing and life went topsy turvy for awhile, his younger brother was a godsend. He was my very own little language model and of course if I needed to infuse some extra effort, I will admit to playing on the sibling rivalry every now and then to up the ante. That and M & Ms anyways.

Those early years B was the easy one, A was the one that had additional needs, school requirements, AVT, audiology appointments.

Soooo fast forward now to A being 16 and B being 15 - and well lets just say it is not my deaf child that is going to give me grey hairs!!!

A is on his way, confident, determined, organised, putting all his efforts into ensuring his academic success - with the social life mixed in there of course - I need a pre-recorded message "get of msn chat, you have been on long enough!". That said tonight he tells he has some Italian to practice, a group role play they have to do and starts talking Italian at me. Then he goes on to say they think they will play it like they are in a cafe and slouch in their chairs and perhaps do it "Fonzie style" as in Fonzie from Happy Days! They plan to undo a top button, turn up the collars and put lots of thumbs up signs and eehhhhhsss in between their Italian lines - what a crack up! You can just see it now, a bunch of Aussie kids, one fair haired to boot, talking it up in Italian whilst acting so cool like The Fonz - trying not to laugh so hard I can type here. Watch out Italia when these guys go on exchange next year!

And my dearest, sweetest little angel B - well he is the one that keeps me up at night with mummy worry and the real risk of grey hair. He is the exact opposite, trying to find his place in the world, loving the social aspects of school but not much else "school is gay, teachers are gay, what a total waste of my time the last 10 years have been, I could have so much better used my time" UGH!!! How do you get through that testerone infused aura to try to instill the big picture??? If you know, message me now!!! He reminds me a lot of my brother who has gone to be very successful and lead a very happy and fulfilling life. So I don't worry that B will get there, I just worry about these in between years.

Organisation - are you freakin kidding me? Yesterday we were trying to journal what we did 10 weeks ago because we haven't done it in real time. Had no homework for so many nights, then surprise surprise "oh mum I hate school I have like 8 assignments to do this week" Further examination reveals some of them he has for several weeks but has just chosen not to do them "because they were not due then" At which point I look to the nearest wall on which to bash my head because frustration overwhelms me. Do I ignore him say hard luck kid you are on your own?? Of course I don't he is my angel, I am his mum, that is what we do! BUT he hasn't escaped the lecture about getting organised and not giving his mother grey hair before her time!!!

Next week he is off on school camp for 2 weeks. A did it last year, it is 2 weeks to look at self sufficiency, self reliance and lots of mountain bike riding, rock climbing and abseiling. Here's hoping 2 weeks away brings a new perspective, a better sense of self and a much more confident little guy that doesn't have to try so hard to fit in. A guy that is starting to find his own place in the world and be proud of his place in it. Fingers crossed anyways!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The busy people

So how is it that some of us don't know when to say "no thank you, I think I have enough on my plate at the moment, but thanks for asking"

Why is that we are so busy with all this stuff going on and then when someone asks for some help with something, we are the first to volunteer?

I tell you what sometimes my husband thinks I am nuts. He just looks at me and shakes his head, knowing trying to talk me out things is a futile effort, with his energy better invested elsewhere.

I suspect that maybe my father is to blame (hey kids can blame their parents for everything these days, right?) Seriously though my father was big on the whole "if you start something you can't let other people down by bailing out"...it started with the school sports teams and went on from there really - if you made a commitment, by heck you had to stick to it.

So here I am as wife and mother to two gorgeous teens (said with total objectivity), working full time, training and teaching karate, and then I still manage to add yet more projects to my life - I think my husband is right, maybe I am nuts.

BUT when it comes to families with children with a hearing loss, how do you say no? I know I can't. I hear that mum with fear, and heart break in her voice, when she is wondering about her child's future, how can I not spend 30-60 mins on the phone with her? When I hear about a government department or fat cat in his ivory tower making some fundamentally stupid decision that will seriously impact on the outcomes of deaf/hearing impaired kids in my state, how can I say, "no thanks, plates a bit full at the moment"? What about that child, what about their right to reach their full potential? Somehow, "I'm a bit busy at the moment" doesn't really cut it, does it?

Fortunately with the power of the internet we are making some bigger groups, educating parents on mass and in turn empowering each of them to work for their own child and perhaps even the children of others in their own communities. The sad reality is that not all parents have it in them to advocate for their children, they need people like us to be there to help them and in turn help their kids...reminds me of the lyrics of one of my favourite songs "Hands" by Jewel.

"We'll fight, not out of spite,
for someone must stand up
for what's right
because where there's a man that has no voice
there ours will go singing....."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

True blessings abound

Well you know the professionals amongst us choose to work with deaf and hearing impaired kids.

We as the parents of those kids, didn't choose it, it chose us.

Honestly, I'm not any of us were that thrilled with the choices life threw at us in those early days in which we found out things were going to be just a little bit different in our households.

That's the most incredible thing about parenting, when you think you can't cope or you think you can't do it - you look at that dear sweet child who needs you, who depends on you - and whammo suddenly you find a strength you never knew you had. With the strength comes the drive, the passion to do whatever it takes for your child.

A smaller subset of those parents, are beset with the "passing the baton gene". This gene isn't really a gene per se but something that might as well be. That's because it is right at the heart of them, right deep down inside, almost like part of their genetic makeup. These are the parents that see the bigger picture, these are the parents that want to make a difference! BUT not just to their own kids, for all the kids around them and those kids who are yet to come.

These same parents are the ones that are really tired and feel like falling in a heap until someone else who is not so far on the journey, calls or emails and needs some help or support. Forgeting their own state of tiredness, they collectively respond to gently lift that struggling parent back up on to their feet.

These are the same people who see something important, recognise it and put their heads down and their butts up and just go for it.

Jodi, Val and Lydia are 3 such people - they have in 6 days put together the most amazing website.


This website is going to be just the most amazing reference point for parents and professionals alike. It also has a link to CI Circle blog where parents of newly diagnosed kids can come and meet some others who have been there before and know the support they so desire is but an email away - now in this internet age, that is truly a precious, precious thing.

Alongside these 3 go getters are a cast of over 1700 members of the CI Circle discussion list.

It is all about you guys. The list serve was set up for you all and boy have you taken it and turned it into more than Karen & I ever dared to imagine over 10 years ago now.

The group is so unique and special - perhaps a more caring environment than some of our members have in their immediate surroundings. A welcoming place where people "JUST GET IT!"

It truly is a case of no matter what life dishes out, there most definitely are so many blessings around us, and I am so incredibly blessed to have you all in my life.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Gift of Speech and Hearing

Last night saw us celebrate the 21st birthday of our very beautiful niece. Off we dutifully trotted to the Alma for a family dinner. My two boys as normal teenagers were less than enthused at the thought of a family affair but after the "not negotiable" spiel from their mother they grudgingly gave in. Of course when they got there, they had a good time!

Since hubby is one of 6 kids, a family dinner is never small - in fact there were 35 people at this dinner. It was one of those frightening things you do when you see those members of the family, relations from the other side, that you haven't seen for years and suddenly their kids are all young adults, with girlfriends and boyfriends in tow no less - man it makes you feel old and more importantly - what the hell happened to all those years????

In amongst all of those 35 people guess how many can use sign language? Yep NONE!

As we sat at dinner enjoying ourselves, I couldn't help but contemplate how different things might have been if we did not have the wonderful opportunity of getting a cochlear implant for A when he lost his hearing to meningitis. He had no useable hearing, he would have been signing. We would have been able to sign, but many of those there wouldn't have - how cut off and isolated would A have been in what should have been a fun time? A time of family, fun and celebration.

I watched on as different relatives and family members moved around the 2 tables sitting down and catching up with people they hadn't seen in awhile. Of course they came to sit with us and engage us in conversation and A could join in, and talk and be part of the conversation and discussion.

Then the waitress came over to take all the orders, and walked up to A and asked him what he wanted to order for dinner. Again, a very easy and natural exchange - yes I know he could have just pointed at the menu if he couldn't speak, but the ease with which he was able to communicate was what struck me.

Regardless of what happens in the future for him, who knows he may or may not choose to learn sign language, but irrespective of that, our giving him a cochlear implant and working with him to develop speech and listening skills, have certainly set him up for a life in which communication with the wider bulk of his community (which is hearing) will be possible.

I'm not sure there is a greater gift that we could give him.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cruising on down memory lane!

Oh girls, you book pushers you - you know who you all are!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

I am in my study surrounded by sh*t everywhere and it is all your fault. I started looking to see what bits and pieces I have that I can lay my hand on.

I just found the very original post when Pam Talbot started AV Circle which was our group to swap therapy ideas for just those parents who were using AV therapy with their kiddos - that was in April 1997!!! Then of course I have to read a whole heap of the emails I printed from back then - printed with the perforated edges mind you, you know where the paper moves through those little feeder things and comes off in one long sheet and you tear along the individual page break perforations! Some of those people there I still have contact with today - now that is just too awesome.

From there to another folder called Adam's stuff - in there - a veritable goldmine. I found journals that he and I did together when he was 5 and we journalled each day together and put stuck in pictures from the day or if we were really scraping the bottom of the barrel he got one of my lame drawings in there. I found pages with feathers stuck in there, tram tickets, all kinds of stuff - very, very cool.

And there was a newspaper clipping of A with another boy when the government was going to cut back on the preschool program he was in the headline screams

"Angry parents blast decision"

and then goes on to quote the president of the management of the preschool committee - ah yep that'd be me - somethings never change : - )

I even found a document from our gorgeously, wonderful, amazing CI surgeon which has information about the implant and then on the back the list of possible risk and the occurrence of each risk in 200 operations already performed - and that would have been handed to me back in December 2004 - this surgeon was sooo before his time in empowering and informing parents.

Hey never mind the book right now I gotta go, more mining of the goldfields to do......

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The aligning of the signs.....

Well all these published writer friends of mine have been recently encouraging me to pull my finger out and stop talking about writing this book and just start doing it!!

It isn't that I don't want to, I'm still kind of getting my head around exactly what I want to write, areas I want to focus on, stories to share - you know, you get the picture right? Had some great input on that front from Val - thanks girl!

I attended a brilliant seminar in September from a person who is a trained teacher of the deaf and now a university researcher in resilience in deaf/hearing impaired kids, the involvement of kids in policy making and that kind of thing. It was a really good seminar. So much so I emailed her to ask her if I could do a summary for our parent newsletter for our state parent organisation, with her having final proof of it of course. She has very generously agreed which is great because there was so much good stuff in her seminar that will be just fantastic for parents to have access to. At her seminar she was very interested in hearing about shared experiences, everyone there apart from me was a teacher of the deaf, I was the sole parent in the room - go figure of course I would be : - ) In my email requesting permission to write the newsletter article I put some of mine/A's experiences into the email and mentioned the fact that I have this book running about in my head, that has been there for a few years and that seems to be coming to the fore in recent times. So get this, back comes an email "ABSOLUTELY encouraging" me to write the book and the benefit that is to be gained from the "lived experiences of others". And THEN asks me to let her know if I think she can help me in any way!!!!

OK so now I'm thinking "hmmm maybe the time is right to get serious about this now, maybe the stars are lining up and now is the time"....

So you can only imagine my reaction today after something that happened. It is school holidays, time to get the big bin delivered and purge the house, shed, wardrobes of useless stuff that we have accumulated since the last purge! Hubby is cleaning out the basement/study where there is heaps of stuff stored including books & things of sentimental value from when the kids were younger. He walks back up into the house and hands me this little notebook that says on the front "Communication Book". When A was in primary school I had a communication book with his teachers to put issues/problems in, any new vocab I might need to teach him etc. And then out of the blue hubby finds the one that he had in year 3 at school (I already had the one from his first year of school in my study).

Coincidence?Or am I just so bad at seeing the signs that the next thing that happens is a dirty great volume of work, will fall from a shelf and smack me fair in the head????

Hmmm perhaps the signs are indeed aligning....and that is a scary thought, because then Iwill actually have to do this thing!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Happy Birthday to my "baby"

Exciting week, my youngest baby, turned 15 this weekend - where the heck have all those years gone eh??? And how can I possibly be mature and responsible and old enough to be the parent of a baby who is now 15???? What is with that???

My two darlings are like chalk and cheese in so many ways. Yet in ways that complement each other and ways that bring them really close together in these teen years, hanging with each other and really enjoying each others company.

I guess like most parents dealing with the disability card in the pack, there is a lot of guilt in there for the "child without the disability". All that time consumed in appointments, AVT etc - sure it was no picnic for A but his younger brother didn't really get that, just got the fact that he got to get time out of school and with mum while his younger brother did not! I'm not sure that ever goes away, that feeling of guilt, even though the rational brain tells you that you made special times for him and that he really didn't miss out - the thought that he might have still lingers.

So double whammy on the spoiling front really??? Baby of the family and mum's guilt trip win-win for him really.

He is the musician of our family, been playing guitar for 4 years now and so wanted a new guitar for his birthday. Since he is so passionate about it, we were very happy to buy him one - damn the kid has taste, check out this little beauty!!!

He has been playing it every day since, it has a great sound, even when he cranks up the distortion on the amp to hit me with Metallica, Black Sabbath or other such ilk!!! Still at least I know where he is and what he is doing, puts me way in front of some other poor mothers.

So of course was the shopping for the birthday card, funny and crude (yep sadly often mum's usual fare!!) or soppy and sentimental for my benefit, "Oh god you are so embarassing" for him.

Then I happened on a really beautiful card, thanks Hallmark! The words were just so right for where he is right now, so caught in the teen angst of fitting in and having no idea what he wants to do with the rest of his life - hello he is only 15 after all.

I so loved the words, I thought I would share them here...

Someday, Son,

you will become a "sir" -

the world will expect you

to wear ties and pay taxes

and take care of your lawn.

People will try to sell you insurance

and major appliances.

You may feel the urge

to carry an umbrella "just in case"

and go to bed early on Saturdays.

You'll hear your favourite songs

in a lift.

So take it from someone who knows,

someone who loves you-

there'll never be another time

in your life like this.

Be happy.

Laugh until it hurts.



Do good stuff.

Ask questions.

Stop for pizza.

Order extra-large.....

Hang out with friends.

Find something that matters

and be a part of it.

The world is full of "sirs"

But there is only one you

only one now.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Power mums

Well on this journey I have met my fair share of them! Mums that rock and make a huge difference not only in their own children's lives, but in the lives of many, many others lives.

Val has always been a power mum but she has just had a book released that she co-wrote with a speech therapist that worked with her children in their infancy.

Their book is called "I am all ears" - check out her blog "Cochlear Kids" to read all about it! Congratulations Val!!!
My mum has often said to me I should write a book about all this stuff and the stories that have come from our crazy life. I must confess it has been kicking about in my head for many years now but I haven't really, seriously put some time into actually doing anything about it....hmmm maybe Val has inspired me! Kath has been on my case for as long as we have known each other to get off my butt and write something...hmmmm.....

Thursday, September 18, 2008

And still there is more

My son is just a total crack up - he makes me laugh all the time, in part because he has inherited my love for the crazy, the immautre and the just plain silly!!

It was off to the audiologists again today to see how he is going with the new Freedom processor. Seeing as though he blitzed the sentence level test last time his audie told him he had to make it harder, just because he could : - )

So this time it was single words only, so there are no other words like in a sentence where you can help guess the word or the meaning by hearing all the rest of the information - just a word on its own. The words are on a pre-recorded CD and have been made with much time and care so that each word has the same volume across the entirety of the word and each word is at the same volume as the last.

So in quiet he scores 90 something percent about 93 I think it was.

But the best was yet to come, he turns in his seat looks at the audie and says "you know I'm not that sure about this CD you know?"

The poor audie knows he is about to commit mental hari kari but goes for it anyway and asks A to explain.

"....well you know...it is kind of like when the person says it they say the word all at the one level. That is not what it is like when people talk in real life is it? When people talk there are like accents on certain consonants and stuff when they say the word. When she says them on the CD there isn't any of that? Why is that? Why didn't they make it right so it is like listening to normal speech then?"

The audiologist had the very briefest glint of a passing "deer in the headlights look" then grins wildly at A and says "for goodness sake you are profoundly deaf you are not supposed to even know about accents on consonants, let alone hear them"....at which point they both just cracked up laughing!

I am actually really impressed with his audiologist, we have only just started seeing him as his other one retired. He treats him like the young man he is and empowers him to be involved in his hearing management. He talked at length with A today about using his FM and how kids at his age sometimes reject them. He made the comparison between a friend who kept making up reasons why he needed a new car, when in fact he just wanted to buy a new car. The audie put that right back on A, if you decide not to wear it then don't kid yourself or anyone else that it is because you can hear better, because that is not the case. If you are too lazy to wear it or embarassed to wear it then be up front and say it, don't pretend it is because you can hear fine without your FM.

I think that message plus the test results were just what boy wonder needed to hear, and that he will make the right choices with regard to his FM.

Friday, September 5, 2008

He has no damn right to be that bright

Lovin this title and it came from a really good friend of mine and was made in reference to A.

yeah he is a bright cookie, in spite of my parenting....afterall grown up mature responsible adults don't go around mimicking the voices of the Lego Darth Vader in the cafeteria video off the net, now do they??? well at least one does : - )

So the senior years of high school would be hard enough for any student without a hearing loss. A never does anything by halves, let's just make it even more interesting, let's see if we can have a go at the International Baccelaureate program (IB). The IB has as a component a foreign language and it is a compulsory requirement for the program.

Fortunately the language that A would be doing starts midway through year 10 and finishes midway through year 12, so he gets half of this year to see how he goes with the language before making the IB or SACE choice of stream for year 11 and 12.

He started Italian (yeah Jodi - Italian!!!) about 9 weeks ago. Last week was his first oral assessment. In true A fashion he put the time in preparing for it and wrote it all out. With spaces between lines it was about a page of writing. He had to introduce himself, his address, who is in the family, pets in the family and something about each member of the family - me he chose the word "bizarro" - yep and I love him too!!!

He cruises into my office at the end of the day and I asked him how the Italian oral went. He gets this flustered look on his face, runs his hands through his hair - at which point I am about to hyperventilate worrying about him - just as I am about to tip over the edge, this huge grin crosses his face and he jumps in the air, arms thrown upwards and a "Mum I aced it!"

In reality he scored 15/15 with only two minor pronunciation corrections - helllllloooo - did no-one tell you that you have a profound hearing loss??? Well yeah, but it sure hasn't made any difference to what this kid is capable of.

And if that wasn't bad enough!!! (well good enough really : - ) he was fitted with his Freedom processor for the N22 two weeks ago. We were visiting the audiologist to see how he was going etc and the audiologist decided to see just how well he was going with some sentence level testing.

He scored 94% in quiet and 86% with the background noise being equal to that of the speaker - pretty impressive. After he finishes he smiles at the audiologist and says, I was going to give you a really good answer for one of those sentences but I thought you would score me wrong and that would pull my results down. At which point the audiologist and I know we should know better than to ask, but can't resist the urge to do just that.

"Well" he says "one of the sentences was the house had nine rooms and I have just done all that for my Italian oral. So I was going to say the sentence in Italian not English just for fun" He then went on to say it in Italian for us. The audiologist was impressed but clearly was enjoying the banter with A, and made comments about how sometimes you really like people until you find out just how capable they are then you really go off them. He then told A what he wanted in feedback from him about his new maps when he goes back in two weeks time...when A did his "yeah yeah no problems" response, the audi quipped back with "oh and in Italian too please".

It was all great fun, but not a day goes by, now even 13 years post implant when I am not astounded by just what this young man can do!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

whooo hooo!

Now remember back to one of my first posts about what happened way back then happening for a reason and to help bring A back to the rest of the field...well.....

When A changed schools, his cohort were studying german and had been for some years so it was decided he wouldn't start german mid stream. Instead that time was given to learning support, which he used as study lessons really, using the time to catch up on any work and if needed seek clarification on any of his work.

During that time he was starring academically but never seemed to get nominated for any of the school academic awards. I worked out after awhile, he didn't qualify because he was studying less subjects than his peers.

I sat through many a school assembly applauding all the other scholars in the school receiving their well earned accolades.

So started year 10 this year, and no more learning support for A. He was taking a full load as the subject selection kicked in this year where the opportunity for others to drop the language came about. So it was back to a level playing field for A - well level if you call a profound hearing loss compared to normal hearing peers, a level playing field!

So on Friday, I didn't get to attend the school assembly....and yep good old Murphy and his law...the one assembly I didn't go to...yep you guessed it - A received an award!

BUT not just any award, oh no no no. It was an academic excellence award, given to two students in his year 10 cohort, making them both in the top 1% of the students in their year level!!!

YEP you read that right, he is in the top 1% of his year level in a mainstream school, even with his profound hearing loss!


Do I sound just a tad proud??? That'd be because I am. He has an amazing work ethic and an inbuilt determination to always do his best. I am so excited that he finally received some public recognition and accolades for his achievements. Not only is he doing amazing things for himself, he sure is challenging a few stereotypes of just what is possible for a student with a profound hearing loss.

Perhaps this says it all

Below is a beautiful video from you tube, that I think really just says it all.What a wonderful dedication from his family to this young boy and all that have been part of their journey...enjoy.....

oh have the kleenex handy...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Yet more of the same

So after the excitement of day 2, it was on to more of the same for the rest of the week....

For me as his mother the things that most struck me were just what a successful young man he is becoming and how all those things I feared would never happen and was almost too scared to dream might happen for him when he was stuck down with meningitis, were there on show for me to see right in the here and now.

The laughter he shared about funny stories his co-work experience partner had shared with him about her upbrining and some of the funny stuff that happens on holidays.

How between them they decided that having just the two of them at work experience was great. They had each other to bounce ideas off of, yet not too many in a group that they wouldn't each get plenty of hands on practical stuff to do.

The fact they took turns typing up the report, obviously when he was typing, he would not have been looking at his co-work experience partner, yet was still able to hear what she was saying and get it down in the document they were doing on the computer.

Morning tea with the post-grad students of the department on Thursday. Having the confidence to join them for a coffee and some cake (his first cup of coffee I might add, and one he made with 2 spoons of coffee and some sugar; no wonder he was on top of the world!). He was able to talk to me about some of their projects and that Thursday morning was regular coffee and cake morning for the department.

I was waiting for his train at the station on Thursday night when an sms came through.

"My train is going to be late, stuck at Mitcham, signal failure. I will get to the station but it might be awhile".

I messaged back that I was at the station and would just wait there til he got there.

He was about 20 minutes late....and when he and I were driving home I realised, how like me he is in some ways. He, like me, is your glass half full kind of personality, always looking for the positive side of things.

As he walked from the train up the platform and we walked together to the car, I said to him "oh well at least you got to experience the highs and lows of public transport then"...he smiled and replied "Oh I didn't really mind, it wasn't that bad. At least it happened when I was on my way home, so it didn't really matter. If it had happened on the way in and I was late for work experience I would have been very disappointed." Yep finding the positive in what was possibly a negative situation.

Later I asked how he knew it was a signal failure..with his best eye rolling teen look of "what are you stupid?" look he told me that he heard the announcement on the loud speaker. He went on to tell me that this driver actually knew how to speak clearly because he could hear all the announcements of the station names and the signal failure announcements, unlike some of the other drivers. I know what he meant because I found it hard to understand them when we were on the dummy run the week before!

The week wrapped up with some time spent with the lecturer for the courses and the head of the department. It was an opportunity to ask any questions and find out more about the courses they were interested in. Again another person whose speech he was unfamiliar with and was unfamiliar with him and his hearing loss, again piece of cake!

He came home with some written notes and proceeded to ask me about the equivalence of the maths in the IB course compared to the maths in the SACE course because if he didn't get them both covered off in year 12, he would have to do a summer school course, and he wasn't doing that if he could help it!!

On the last day their supervisor was recounting stories of some of the students she supervised, some who were partnered with bossy partners who answered all the questions, took control over all the pracs and let their partner do nothing. Their supervisor then shared with them that A and his co-work experience partner were the best 2 students that she had worked with so far. She really liked how they worked as a team sharing the work, the answers, the practical write ups evenly between. It appears A and this young miss felt the same about their week together too. That they both had similar work ethics, often forgoing break times to get the experiment they were doing finished on time. They both contributed to everything they did and perhaps best of all they did it with hard work and humour. They both laughed a lot during their time together and had a brilliant experience in their work experience program. The Uni department concerned also earned many accolades for the amazing, structured program offered to them over the week.

For us as his parents. the end of the week was a really brilliant opportunity to look back at far we have come on this journey. To think back to this broken little boy we took home from the hospital after meningitis nearly took him from us. The fears we felt at that time, and then magnified ten fold more when we found out it had left him profoundly deaf.

In the place of that tiny broken toddler now stands this amazing 6'5" young man with the world at his feet. The confidence, the maturity, the speech and language, the positive attitude and the hard work ethic - really anything is possible. I wait and watch with wonder to see just what the future holds for my young man. I have already seen so much that he has achieved both personally and as an amazing role model for younger deaf kids and as a breaker of stereotypes for those that might place limitations on kids because of a hearing loss. Those that have the pleasure and perhaps even privilege of working with him, know only too well that hearing loss or not, anything is possible.

To this day many people will say to me "oh you and hubby have done a brilliant job with him and all the hard work you have put into him"....my response is always the same. I smile appreciatively and graciously accept their kind words and then remind them..." thanks for that, but really it has been up to him. We could have worked our arses off with him but if he didn't want this for himself, he would never be where he is today. This is his doing, his hard work and his determination that his deafness was never going to stop him from doing anything he set his mind to."