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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The House.

It has come to my attention via Facebook that not everyone knows what I'm talking about when I start babbling on and on about the work Matt is doing on the house.

To the begining...

Matt love his grandparent's house. It's not his dream house or even very big but there are a lot of memories for him there. He wants to keep the house for our family to live in. Matt's grandmother no longer lives there but still owns it and since we have bad credit and cannot get approved for a morgage we decided together that this house may be the one for us. Since his grandmother owns it it gives us some leeway on payments on it. The only problem with the's out of date. The wires are old cloth covered wires, the walls are plaster and have several cracks, there were these funky arched doorways, and the insulation was so old it was crumbly and worthless.

So we tore it apart. The whole house. Tore down all the walls, all the archways, all the electrical work, the whole kit and caboodle on the ground floor. Now we have to rebuild. It has taken some time but we're making really good progress. Ripping everything down took forever. There was a lot to clean up as we tore things apart. After that Matt decided that he wanted to expand the bathroom a little bit and move the doorway for one room. When we had all the walls down we also noticed that some of the studs were poorly installed and needed to be replaced. Matt has spent every weekend the whole weekend for the last month replacing studs and framing in the walls in 2 rooms.

Tonight he is planning on ripping out the last little bit of electrial wires that we left so he could use his power tools. This weekend a buddy is helping him re install all the new wire and plugs and lights etc. We bought these nifty little outlets that have a little tamper resistant shutter behind the holes so no more worrying about lost outlet covers. Hopefully the electrial won't take more then a weekend. We want to install insulation and some dry wall next weekend before we put in the bathroom. Nothing is staying in the orginal bathroom, we are replacing everything. It badly needed it and nothing was worth saving.

It's very exciting. We hope to be in the house before our lease here is up in October. I'll post pictures of the progress we've made tomorrow. I don't have time to pull them all together because most of them are on Matt's computer not mine.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Deaf vs Hearing.

Deaf vs Hearing. Something I hadn't given much thought to until Nicolas was born and now cannot get out of my head. I've been blessed, truly blessed to have these two little guys in my life and I would not change anything at all about them. Well maybe if they could not scream so much that'd be great. But there is the everyday constant recognition that there are things that Nicolas can do because he's hearing that Philip cannot because he's deaf.

I have absolutely no problem with Philip being deaf. In fact when I was pregnant with Nicolas I found myself wishing that the baby could be born deaf like his brother. It actually was a little bit of a shock when we found out that Nicolas could indeed hear, I wanted another deaf child so badly. But it was a bigger shock when we had found out that Philip was deaf.

When we finally got an answer to the big can my baby hear question Philip was 3 maybe 4 months old and had gone through numerous hearing tests. That final test was terrifying. I have since forgotten what it was called but I will never forget that day. I was not allowed to nurse my baby before the test. So that in itself was rough. I felt like I was starving my child. Then when we arrived at the appointment the very first thing they did was administer a medication that sedated my poor new baby. While waiting for the medicine to take effect they put 3 little sticky probes on his little head, one on his forehead and one behind each ear. These connected to wires that ran to ports in the wall. The poor little guy was laid in a hospital crib and we were told to sit several feet away while a nurse stood over my child and we had to remain quiet for the duration of the test. Several minutes later we were told the results of the test. The doctor was very blunt about it. Our child was profoundly deaf. He spent a minimal amount of time explaining what that meant and showed us on a chart what his hearing levels were like. The sort of things he could and couldn't hear. Then the doctor gave us instructions on when Philip would wake up and what to do and a referral to another office to get Philip fitted for hearing aids and we were sent on our way. Shock of our lives there. We were not prepared for a deaf child at all. We didn't even know it was likely. Thank god for my parents who helped us a lot get through that initial shock and to my mother for taking me to the Rochester School for the Deaf to immediately enroll Philip into their FIRST program.

After the initial shock and adjustment we accepted it and moved on with our lives. Philip has never been given special treatment from us because of his deafness and we taught him both English and ASL. He picked up both pretty quickly. We knew from our interactions with the children of some of our friends who were around the same age as Philip and from his evaluations through RSD that he was behind in speech but we understood him and we were all pretty happy. To this day he is still slightly behind but he is pretty fluent in both languages. He communicates very well and has thrived at RSD.

Now Nicolas has entered the picture. My hearing boy. He took some adjustments getting used to. He would wake if we were too loud. He was more figidity as a baby which I believe was due to the stimulation he would hear. He was more easily distracted when nursing. But the biggest difference, the difference that is causing a lot of heartbreak is how much more he picks up now. Almost 2 years old his vocabulary is about where Philip's was at 3 and he picks up new words much more quickly then Philip ever did. He picks up random words in conversations that occur around him and he learned to ask "why" at a much much earlier age. We did notice these differences but it really hit home the other day when we were watching Nick Jr. One of the characters on the show we were watching directed a simple yes/no question at the audience. Philip has never talked back at the TV. Nicolas answered the question. BAM. The difference between hearing and deaf.

The biggest difference, the heartbreaking difference is not how much they talk or what they can say. The difference is the comprehension. Now I wonder how much of what I say to Philip he really catches. What does he truly hear and more importantly understand? Can his deafness hold him back in any way? It's just TV and I really don't want my children watching much of it but is it for Philip just some moving images with garbled sound or is he picking up something from it? Most of what we watch is slightly educational, stuff like Wow Wow Wubzy, Dora, Deigo, and WonderPets. Other kids his age know the character names and theme songs. They talk back to the TV. Philip does none of this. He doesn't know most of his favorite characters names. He knows the main ones for whom the shows are named but the side characters, no.

I wish there was more I could do for my baby. I want to take him to the book store during story time and know that he understands, I want him to get some benefit from the TV shows he watches, I want to be able to shout a direction to him from the other room and know he understands me. I know many adults who are deaf and most seem pretty happy with themselves but I wonder how many of them feel like their deafness has held them back in any way. I don't wish he was hearing, I don't wonder what it would be like if he was hearing. I just wish there was more I could do to help him adapt to the world around him. Even in Rochester it's a hearing world. I know TV will be different when he learns to read and can benefit from captioning but everything else.

If when he's an adult he chooses to be Deaf and prefers to use sign and go to a deaf school/college, and have only deaf friends or a deaf girlfriend/wife that's fine. I accept that it's his decision. But it is a hearing world and I want to give him the skills that he needs to adapt. I don't want his deafness to hold him back. I want him to be able to choose from hundreds of colleges which one he wants to go to and not be limited to the handful of deaf colleges or rely on an interpreter. If he chooses to use one that's a difference then needing one. I know being at RSD is helping him a lot. He's benefited a lot from being there and in the last year or so his language skills have really blossomed. He's an awesome kid and so smart. I just wish there was more I could do for him.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fourth of July

I've been meaning to post this for a couple days and just haven't had the time to actually sit down and get it up.

Our Independance Day was lots of fun. We had a simple day. This is hands down my favorite holiday. The history behind the day and the gravity of what that hits me in just the right spot. All those men and women sacrificed and risked everything to ensure that some tiny little country across an ocean couldn't control us. That we could have freedom to as a whole nation make our own laws, that's a big deal. A much bigger deal then I think a lot of people feel. Like so many other holidays we've sorta lost the meaning behind the day off, we've forgotten what it took to get this nice 3 day weekend to BBQ, get together with friends and party.
Our day was spent talking with Philip as to why it is a holiday and explaining it over and over a bunch of different ways to help him understand to the best of his ability. Matt decided to spend the morning working on the house. He's framing off the bathroom and replacing a few studs so we can start running the electrical. When Matt finished up his work for the day we headed over to my brother in law's. Matt and his brother went to visit their grandmother while Danielle, the little ones and myself went to play in the pool.
Philip knows how to swim, sort of. But not enough to feel comfortable without some sort of floatation device and of course they aren't allowed in the pool. Nicolas was terrified. So Philip hung on to one arm and kicked and splashed while Nicolas clung for dear life on my neck. Wasn't the most fun I've had in a pool but it was so hot that I enjoyed it anyways.
When the guys came back we started up the grill for some dinner. While dinner was going we got out a frisbee and had some fun.
Nicolas enjoyed watching while Shawn, Daddy and Philip played. Shortly after these pictures were taken the frisbee landed near Nicolas so he grabbed it and took off running. Uncle Bubby showed Philip how to use a skateboard. Philip was pushed around the parking lot at speeds high enough to terrify a mother as he flew from Uncle to Daddy to Shawn.

And of course we went up to the fireworks. They were facinated by the fireworks. Nick especially. He keep going "OOOH boom boom!" The fireworks were so close that with the breeze and where we were sitting we were getting little pieces of cardboard and ash rained down on us after the big huge ones. We had a really great day with some really great friend.

Oh and to toot my own horn a little I made both the little one's shirts :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Unexpected Trip

Earlier today I spent about a half an hour typing a nice long detailed blog post about why I don't like Facebook so much any more. Well I've got fat hands that wander all over the keyboard and I accidentally deleted the whole post and replaced it with a single "n". I got all frustrated and mad then I realized "hey blogger does that whole autosave thing" so I got all happy again. Then I realized I don't know who to access it. By the time I found it Blogger had auto saved my n so I lost my nice long detailed blog. I quit on that. Took it as a sign that maybe I shouldn't post it. So I've decided to write a new post on what we ended up doing today.

I knew we were having dinner with my father in law at his new place. I knew he lived down by the lake. What I didn't know was that the lake was just down at the end of the street. Not knowing this I didn't pack extra clothes or swim stuff for my kiddos so they played in the water in diaper and underware.
Luckily it was a fairly private beach and Daddy wears dark colored tight fitting boxers so he stripped down too to get in the water as well :)
Nicky loves rocks so he was in little boy heaven, a whole beachful of rocks to pick up and admire before throwing for "BBBBIIIIGGGG PWESH!!!"

Burying little boys up to their armpits is also pretty fun.

I have a feeling we'll be spending a lot of time at my father in law's this summer.