My Garden

garden picture

My garden is in and it is looking mighty and full of splendor with the dark dirt that surrounds it.  My little plants look healthy and strong and ready to grow.  This time of year is the time I feel the most refreshed.  It is like the long winter grew a fog of webs over us and our minds.  This is the time to brush them off and clear our minds and look for the rebirth.  My time feels paced from the time the first windows are opened and it quickens as trees start to bud and the grass begins to green.  Gardens are tilled and the pace quickens, plants are for sale pace quickens even more.

The garden is planted and I feel at ease, at peace, and pure joy.  Seeing the little plants there I have a hard time not imagining what their growth will be like the colors and the smells.  I love the smell of a tomato plant on my hands.  The dirt that will be etched in the creases of my palms and in the nail-beds.  They are all signs of hope and signs of renewal that can happen with us all.

I find being in a garden very peaceful.  I have memories of taking my grandfathers hand and walking across the road to his garden.  We would weed some, pinch the suckers off the tomato plants.  We would pick some of the produce.  We would gleefully bring our prizes back to grandma who should be how to clean the peas and snap the beans.  We would sneak some early potatoes and grandma would cream them with the garden peas.  A garden was and is a time of family, love, patients and of teaching.

I love to involve my children in the garden.  From picking the plants to digging the holes to watering the plants.  We of course get watered too but that is half the fun.  Later in the season it is like a treasure hunt looking for the colors of the tomatoes and filling our bags to the brim with produce.  That feeling is still as strong as you wipe the water off the freshly processed jars of all the produce that was just picked and now in the cupboards.

This year we have potatoes, red onions, leaf lettuce, spinach, early peas, green peppers, red peppers, jalapenos, banana peppers, cucumber and Christmas melon,  Roma tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, early girl tomatoes, big boy tomatoes and this year I added some heirloom varieties that I am just tickled pink about.  We have Mr Stripey, Old German, Amish Paste, and Cherokee Purple.  These 4 heirlooms are my pride and joy.  I can’t wait to watch them and their amazing colors come forth.

I pray for rain and sun.  Last year we had a flood and I lost half of my garden.  I hope that doesn’t happen again but at this point we do need rain.

Full Access

IMG_0199My husband and I traveled to a beautiful MN resort this past weekend.  It was a weekend away, around our 15 year wedding anniversary and we were there to learn.  Chad and I went to a conference called 2015 Collaborative Experience for Parents and Professionals of Deaf, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing.  This conference was put on by Commission of Deaf, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing, MN Hands and Voices and a few other organizations.  We arrived Friday afternoon and headed home Sunday afternoon.  It was a weekend of learning, meeting people, laughing and enjoying each other.

While there we learned so much and probably could write a post on each thing I saw and learned I am going to focus this on one point that was brought up at the very end of the day on Sunday.  One of the keynote speakers we had during the weekend was Susan Elliott.  Susan is a DHH teacher from Colorado.  She was engaging, informative and funny.  Susan slowly lost her hearing as a child and it was a scary and confusing time for her.  I can relate and I am sure many others can relate to  this feeling.  At the end of the conference she had us all come up in the room and form a circle.  She asked us to name things we have learned this weekend.  Things were said like we are not alone, put it in writing when talking about IEP’s, have roots and wings.  When we were done with that she asked us one question, “What does every deaf and hard of hearing individual worry about everywhere they go?” The answer is access.  Of course access would be the answer.  I worry about this, can I hear in this place, what will the accoustics be like? The list and questions go on and on and will vary from person to person.

This simple question made me realize how much I loved this weekend and part of that was because of access.  Every speaker we saw in a large group was voiced, ASL and CART.  This was my first time with CART.  For those who may not know what the heck I am talking about CART is Communication Access Realtime Translation, it is closed captions in real time.  A CART reporters captions everything that is said similar to a court reporter.  We had CART displayed on a couple screens in the room and we also had website they were displayed on so if you had your phone, ipad or something similar you could have the captions right in front of you.

FullSizeRenderI did start out by watching the presenters but as soon as a I was missing every few words my eyes soon shifted to the screen (the white area on the bottom) and stayed there for the whole talk.

I did go to a couple breakout sessions were there was no CART.  I ended up bringing my own streamer like an FM system with me.  I put that on the table and it worked very well picking up the sound from the microphone.

IMG_0206When someone asked a question with no microphone the ASL interpreter was slow enough at those times I could catch the questions that were asked with no problems.  Access was there all around us and at every activity.  From our meals, to the talks to the comedians that we enjoyed each evening.  Access was there.

There was a feeling of belonging, strength in numbers and most of all full access for all.  I went home feeling renewed, informed, and ready to take action.  A weekend of full access is one we won’t forget anytime soon.

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Just Ask and You May Receive

customer service

We have all had people tell us, “all you need to do is ask.”  I find that an incredibly hard task.  I don’t know why I don’t want to bother people or to be a bother.  When I was a young girl I was in the hospital after surgery.  I was all by myself in the room.  I threw up and the last thing I wanted to do was bother a nurse.  I know now that is their job, but I was scared to death to ask for help.  The nurse ended up finding me changing my own bedding which then turned into getting yelled at by the crabby nurse.  It only reaffirmed in my young mind don’t ask and draw attention you will get yelled at.  As I grew older I know this is not correct and we need to ask for help and assistance in life and we must give help when we are asked or needed.

walmartThis brings me to my new cell phone.  I love buying and selling items.  New to me and my family is just fine for us.  A couple weeks ago I saw there was a used iPhone 5 for sale.  I had an old phone that was not cutting it.  It was freezing up and not operating correctly.  I snapped up the new phone.  Now the task of switching my number and service to this phone.  I hate making calls even more so to a call center with interference and accents.  It is stressful and seems to never go well.  I decided to go with Wal Mart’s phone service.  I went to buy a service card and decided to pay for it at the electronic counter.  I had a man help me with the purchase and he asked if I needed anything else.  I felt like I wanted to take a scary extra step.  I wanted to ask for help but do I dare?  I took the step and I asked if he could program my phone and do the transfer for me.  He said sure but I can call myself when I get home.  I felt myself take a big breath and told him that I was hard of hearing and even with hearing aids talking to an unfamiliar voice with a heavy accent is not an easy task.

deaf symbol

When I said that it was like his hands were flying.  He made a call and took my phone and off he went programming and porting the phone.  Every question he had for me he looked right at me.  Lip reading him in a chaotic store was very simple.  He also wrote down some of his questions on some scratch paper.  He handed me the phone and my number was there and my service.  I was so happy.  I was so pleased with this employee that he was so willing to help.  I was proud of myself for asking.  My husbands words were, “I tell you to ask all the time and you finally did it.”  I stepped outside that comfort zone and asked.  I was pleased, happy and determined I can do this again.

When I got home I went on to Wal Mart’s website.  I left a comment about the service I received at this store and the individual employee.

A week later I had forgot about the comment I had made.  Friday evening we got a phone call with an area code I had never seen.   I just knew it was outside of Minnesota.  I picked up and I heard a man’s voice.  Honestly I didn’t catch the man’s name and I didn’t ask for him to repeat himself.  I swear he said CEO of Wal-mart again could have been wrong but that is what I heard.  This man called because the comment I had made had worked it way through Walmart and landed on his desk.  He said he was happy to see a positive comment and glad an employee stepped up to help.  He said the comment made it to the store we went to in Minnesota and to the individual that helped me.  I guess he grinned from ear to ear knowing he made a difference.  I am glad he was recognized.  Now if it could just be common place to help anyone that needs something.

This experience has made me realize I need to take the first step.  I need to ask and great things can happen.  This can be for asking for captions, a repeated word or an ADA kit at a hotel when traveling.

I needed to make this first step and now I need to put the other foot in front and keep going and keep asking and helping when I can.  Help your fellow man makes the world goes round.

Oh to Cook…it sounds so simple

We rent a small house in a small town.  I am a mom that works as many days as she can but overall I am a mom.  What do mom’s do.  They kiss boo boo’s, they wash clothes and pack school bags and COOK.

Early in the month my oven quit on my stove.  I really don’t blame the oven it was the digital display that went out.  Without those magical push buttons there was no way to turn on the oven.  How stupid, why does a simple button need to control all.  Is old fashioned knobs to good for a stove now days.  Stove worked oven sat cold.

We waited a few weeks and got a call that our landlord found another stove and was bringing it in.  I was so excited, it was a used stove but heck I didn’t care.  It was a very nice looking stove but once it got out of the freezing temps of a storage unit, the freezing temps of the back of a truck and into our 68 degree home we discovered there was something terribly wrong.  The stove had such a horrible smell that it burned our eyes and lungs.  It was awful.  Something had to have gotten into the insulation of the stove and it was ruined.  No matter how nice it looked didn’t make up for how bad it smelled.  It was like the worst 24 hours of my life.  The house smelled so bad we couldn’t be in it and I had no way to cook for my family.  It is like a basic instinct a mother has.  To make a meal for her family.  Oh I hate the question, “What are we eating tonight.”  but I feel it is my job, a job I take joy and pleasure in.  It was only 24 hours but it felt like I had failed.  I had a full on anxiety attack the next morning.  There was a smell in the house and I couldn’t even boil a pot of water.  When I called my mom I told her my whoes and then I couldn’t even boil a pot of water.  She has a way to put things into perspective.  One- Why do I need to boil a pot of water at 8am.  Two- this will pass and a new stove will be there shortly.  That afternoon the stinky stove was taken out of the house and the spot sat empty where my cooking vessel should be.

Our landlord was looking all over for a good condition stove.  Saturday I had the idea of going to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  What a treasure trove of items.  I found my stove!!!!  Looking at it I knew I needed this stove.  It was odd I walked around the store and had to keep walking back to this stove.  Called my landlord up and said cancel getting a stove by tomorrow I found one.  This is an old stove it has a vintage look that I love.  There is chrome on the corners.  A green sea glass color on the oven glass window and behind the knob controls.  Yes knobs no digital display to go out on me there.

My heart is happy.  I can provide food for my family and friends.  We weren’t home an hour with the new stove and cookies were baked.  Last night a meatloaf and green bean casserole (were in Minnesota don’t ya know).  Today was a pan of brownies and an egg bake for dinner.  I am sure supper will go back to a chore but for now I am loving it.

My role is fulfilled as a mom.  I am sure many would disagree but it makes me feel like there is a purpose, I know my role and I can excel at it.

Finding Where You Belong

I just need to share something here on my blog since it started on my blog.  A while ago I received a comment on here from Hands and Voices.  They asked if I would write something would tie in my hearing loss, my blog and my children.  This is what I came up with.  It was posted today on their website.  I am pleased to be asked to do this and I hope some other family will get support reading it.

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http://handsandvoices.org/deafhardofhearingchildren/sara-lundquist-finding-where-you-belong/

Last weekend my husband and I hosted a couple friends for dinner and an evening at our house.  The wife in this couple is deaf and her husband is a sign language interpreter.  As we sat down at the table to eat an ease fell over me.  There was no need to feel like I needed to fake understanding with nods or smiles.  I have a moderate severe hearing loss and I usually feel anxious before a meeting like this one.  That night was wonderful we had something in common, lack of hearing and knowledge of lack of hearing.

We need to find where we belong.  We need to find a community or a group where we all get each other.  If that group is about sports, animals, children, or in this case hearing loss.  Having a group or even a few individuals that understand is a comforting thing.  It doesn’t turn into an embarrassment when you ask for something to be repeated or reworded.  You don’t get the dreaded “never mind.”

I grew up in Minnesota in the metro area.  I was a child with an ear infection every other day it seemed.  Ear tubes put my ears more times than I care to count.  I know I grew up with a hearing loss now that I think back on my childhood.  I never understood how people could understand a whisper.  Someone putting their mouth to my ear was just hot air I could feel.  Was that how everyone experienced this?  Being at a friend’s house and having them all talk at once or talk with music playing, none of this I could understand.  I wondered why this seemed so easy for other people.  Why did whispering between girlfriends seem fun not an anxiety filled moment.  As I grew up and went to college (majored in Communicative Disorders) I realized more and more that yes I had a hearing loss. I just had to get to the point of acceptance.

The past couple years I have come out of my shell and embraced hearing loss as best I could.  Hearing aids were purchased.  My secret was out.  I joined a couple groups that deal with hearing loss and being hard of hearing.  I started to put my feelings on to paper or a computer in today’s vernacular.  I started my blog Musings of a Momma. I started this blog as a stress reliever–writing in the evenings.  When my hearing took another dive down, I decided to write more and focus more on being a hard of hearing mom.  My writing got notice by the HearStrong Foundation where I was named a HearStrong Champion.  This has to be one of my proudest days behind the birth of my children.

One thing I wanted for my children was to make sure their hearing is on track.  I remembering taking my daughter to an audiologist and she tested around a -10db across the board.  I guess she is hearing fine!  My son came along five years later.  He didn’t babble much or start talking till three years old.  I had some people telling me autism and some telling me he couldn’t hear.  We pursued both paths with him.  He was found to be on the autism spectrum high functioning.  When we went forward on his hearing we found out he had a mild conductive hearing loss.  We continue to have his hearing checked every six months.  It has dropped at times and we have done tubes, and adenoids and tonsils out.  I just took him to the audiologist last week and his hearing has dropped another 10db.  We are off to the doctor this week to see if something medically can be done.  He has had no ear infections or fluid in his ears so I am stumped.  Then we head back to the audiologist.  Just a wait and see with him.  He does use the FM system at school where he is in 1st grade.

A great resource we were told about was MN Hands and Voices.  Our family attended a family event last spring.  Our whole drive my husband and I wondered if we would fit in, our son only has a mild loss.  What we found was open arms of acceptance and a wealth of information.  We learned a mild loss is a loss and it does affect a child at school.  We had some IEP questions answered and found some new friends in the process.  It was like the dinner we had last weekend we found that place we belonged.  We found a place that understands our questions, doesn’t get annoyed with the What?? If you didn’t hear something right away, they got it.  I want my son to know there is a place that we belong and people that understand.  MN hands and voices has been that place for our family with our son this past year.

My Boy

Henry Feb 1st 2015This little boy is such a joy in my life.  He brings laughs, cuddles, and stress.  The past few weeks I have had my mind racing.  I have been quiet on here and I believe it could be because my mind is on overdrive thinking speculating and wondering what will happen.

The past month or so Henry has said WHAT every other word.  He was no longer responding to his name being called.  I could tell him his hearing was down.  His dad and I were concerned and got him into the audiologist.  Henry has gone to an audiologist every 6 months since the age of 2.  We always go to the same dr and Henry loves the experience.  He loves the dr and has so much fun laughing at all the funny things the audiologist “finds” in his ears.

This appt his hearing dropped another 10 db’s.  He has a conductive loss which means it is from his outer ear to his middle ear.  It didn’t look like he had an ear infection.  He has had tubes, adenoids and tonsils out.  I really wasn’t sure what was going to happen.  I have a bad habit of speculating on what could happen in the future.  I am thinking ahead if his hearing drops more.  I am thinking of struggling to hear of what is going on in school.  I am thinking hearing aids, affording hearing aids.  I need to turn that switch off in my brain.  I need to live in the moment and know what happens it will be ok.

We received the report from the audiologist suggesting we take Henry into the doctor and then back to him in about 3 weeks for a retest.  The report stated that there is a family history of hearing loss.  He has a hearing loss in both ears and he has great chance for hearing loss in the future.

Friday my husband and I took Henry to the doctor to check his ears and discuss the results and what our next steps should be.  He was given an antibiotic for some fluid that was in his middle ear.  He was also given a nasal spray to see if that can open up the middle ear and eustachian tubes in his ears.  I hope this will work and do the trick.  We are to complete the prescription and then head back to the audiologist.  If his hearing test doesn’t look any better than we will be referred to an ENT.

So for now I want to live in the present.  No speculating that surgery or an ENT visit will take place.  I will just give him the medicine he hates twice a day and hope it is helping it all.

So for now I won’t worry about the future I will just love my little minecraft, tae kwon do, cub scout little boy.

Christmas with Grandma

Christmas means many things to many people.  To me it is Family.  Family we can see, visit with, feast with, and catch up with.  Now that I live away from my family Christmas was something I was really looking forward to this year.  We went to my parents house and stayed for 5 nights.  That might be the most we have stayed in the nearing 8 years since we have moved.  The big part of my whole life is Christmas day at my grandparents house.  My grandparents lived right up the street from us growing up so always close but still a thrill to go each and every Christmas morning.  We, my family, sisters family, parents, aunt and uncle, my cousins and spouse.  It is a tight squeeze in the livingroom but it works and it is a day I look forward to.

Grandpa has been gone for many years now.  He missed out on the years with all the great grandkids.  Grandma keeps Christmas alive the same way she and grandpa did.  One thing you have to know about my grandma is she is super organized.  All the food that she provides and others bring is all written on a sheet of paper.  Much like a spreadsheet.  Everything is crossed off nothing is forgotten.  Everyone has a present on each of grandmas piles of gifts.  That is a big pile and each and every present in the pile has the same wrapping paper.  A pile is passed out and everyone has a gift.  My grandma has Christmas down to a science.  I know this won’t go on forever and for that fact I savor every Christmas a little bit more every year.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

Christmas at NanasMy parents with the kids:

kids at christmasNana or Great Grandma with the kids:

nana and the kidsThe Whole Gang:

The family at Christmas

When a Hearing Aid Repair Feels Like A Celebrity Sighting

Christmas has come and gone.  We have traveled across the state for six days and now returned home.  During my time to the Twin Cities I made an appt for a hearing aid repair at Starkey Hearing Labs.  I love my Starkey aids but living 3 hours away from my audiologist is not ideal.  I do have a local one I could bring the hearing aids to but I prefer going to Starkey itself.  Chad and I traveled to Eden Prairie, MN the morning after Christmas.  I was not sure how long this visit would take.  The hinge on the battery door on my right aid had broken and I had a clear coat on my left ear mold for a better seal had started to flake off.  Everyone is so nice there, it is a huge place building after building.  A very welcoming place to spend part of the day.

The visit started out with a cleaning of my ears.  It is gross, there isn’t any other way to put it.  Seeing your ear canal magnified 40 times on a big screen is gross.  Watching them scrap stuff out is even worse but it feels good when done.  While waiting in this first waiting room Chad and I noticed Bill Austin walk into work.  Bill is the CEO of Starkey and in my eyes this is a celebrity worthy sighting.  This man knows everyone in film, TV, and Music.  There are pictures of him with celebrities all over the complex.  It was like a TMZ moment seeing him walk by and smile and wave to us.  My first thought was OH CRAP my phone is dead I can’t get a picture.

Chad and I got moved to another waiting room where they fit the hearing aids and make the ear molds.  Bill Austins office that has the big CEO on his nameplate is right near this waiting room.  Chad and I started discussing that we thought this was great that a CEO would have an office so close to the actual day to day activities of the office.  There was no penthouse views, or the corner back office where no one sees you.  We started talking about undercover boss.  In that particular show the CEO disguises him or herself to go from the bottom up in their company and discover how it works and what doesn’t work.  So often these CEO’s have no idea what happens in their business.  We were then shocked.  Here comes Mr Bill Austin in his white lab coat and starts working with a patient that is sitting just 5 feet from us.  He was working the floor, not tucked in a corner.  We were shocked and so pleased.  Just like this picture shows is what he was doing in the office on Friday.

STARKEY HEARING FOUNDATION YANKEES

A few moments later he called my name and I went over to him.  I felt a little star shocked.  Looking ahead of me there were pictures of Bill meeting Mother Teresa and the Pope.  I am just amazed.  They ended up changing the case on the right aid so a new battery door.  On the left aid they polished down the ear mold and put some new clear coat on it.  He fitted them and tested them.  He then turned to Chad and talked to both of us of what we should do if there is feedback.  Sometimes there may be some that Chad can hear and I can’t and what he should tell me.  He asked where we were from, general chit chat that was just really nice.  I kept thinking about my daughter, Greta.  She would be so jealous.  She got to meet Bill’s wife, Tani, last summer and made a lasting impression in her life.  Meeting Bill could have only made it better.

Staring at pictures like these make me realize how lucky I am and was to have this wonderful man that gives so much to the world talk with me on Friday.  He is a very generous man and I am so pleased I was able to meet him.  He told me to call if I have any problems.  I wonder if he answers his own phone also, I bet he does.

dalai_lama with Bill Austin

Bill Austin with Marlee and Bill

Christmas Cheer

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Tree is up, presents are wrapped. Finished up my shopping today. We have our first family christmas celebration tomorrow. I know there are people that rock the ugly Christmas sweater. That just isn’t my thing. So I pimped or blinged out my hearing aids with some snowman nail foils. Now I will be wearing something Christmas like. I will have the Christmas cheer. Find something that give you a little cheer and a smile to your face.

A Busy Time of Year

This past weekend I was telling my husband I was so tired.  I didn’t feel sick just so tired, like I could fall into bed and sleep for a full day.  Then I thought of everything we had done this past week and I know why I am tired.  This time of year is crazy.  Is it a wonderful time of year but crazy.  Here is our week in pictures and little words.

my christmas treeI made our Christmas tree this year.  The kids gathered the sticks in the grove at the farm and I bundled them into our tree layers.  We added some burlap and lights and we have our organic wall tree.

kids with santa 2014The kids saw Santa and Mrs. Claus at our local fire hall.  Both kids were happy to see him.

Greta's band concertMy daughters first band concert.  All the kids did wonderful and I got to claim the most beautiful flute player as mine.

Henry's sore faceMy poor little man fainted and fell off the risers at school.  They were practicing their Christmas program and Henry fell from a high riser and landed right on his face on the wood floor.  Thank God I was working right down the hall and was there within minutes.  Off to the doctor we went and they are pretty confident it was fainting and not a seizure.  His face has some good bruises on it now.

Henry Christmas concertDay after the fainting episode we are feeling better.  All dressed up and ready for the Christmas program at school.  A great program from all the kids.

brother and sister loveChurch Sunday morning, I know I shouldn’t snap a picture during the service but I couldn’t help it with this unscripted moment of pure sibling love.

Greta christmas programSunday evening was the Church Christmas program.  Greta played an inquisitive child, she was comfy in her PJ costume.  Had her lines all memorized, did a great job.

Henry christmas programHenry was a serious shepard in the Christmas program.  He did great as well as all the kids.

Henry belt testLast but not least is a Tae Kwon Do test for Henry.  He earned his blue belt this week.  He was pretty excited to break that board with his left foot.

Of course there is work, dinners, laundry, gift wrapping and all those other chores of daily living.  Like I said I love this time of year, but I am tired.