Monday, June 24, 2013

Note to self: Hide the helium!

When my daughter, Jennifer, graduated from elementary school, I bought her a helium-inflated balloon that had “Congratulations, Graduate!” on it. I was smiling at that same balloon this morning when I woke Jennifer up, feeling a renewed sense of pride for my daughter’s accomplishment.

Little did I know that would be the last time I would see the balloon! And never did I ever think a helium-inflated balloon I bought would be something a certain young girl would see as a way to get some laughs or some kind of kicks.

Today, a group of Jennifer’s friends came over. While they were hanging out in her room, I peeked in and noticed they had popped open her balloon. I was upset because I bought that balloon for Jennifer and it’s not like I spend money on things her friends can just destroy. For a while, I was upset over that popped balloon and let them all know I didn’t appreciate it that they destroyed something that was not theirs.

But then I became upset about something ELSE later on, when Jennifer told me WHY her friend wanted to pop open the balloon. Apparently, the girl wanted to inhale the helium!

I practically went through the roof!

I could not believe her friends wanted to do something dangerous, even stupid, like that. I gave Jennifer a VERY GOOD talking to about the dangers of inhaling helium. She told me she was the only one in the group who did not inhale the helium and I told her that was smart of her, but I was still reeling that these girls came over and decided to do something that was dangerous. I told Jennifer that I was responsible for what minors do in this house (these girls are all preteens) and that I could be sued or even arrested if something terrible happened to any of her friends in this house. I am SO GLAD none of them suffered any damage from inhaling the helium and thank God they are okay, but I knew I had to get the message across that inhaling helium is a Very Bad Thing. WHY did her friend see a helium-filled balloon and think, Gee, I think I’ll inhale some helium?? It just really troubles me. I KNOW we do stupid things when we are kids, but this kind of thing is DANGEROUS!  

Granted, they were inhaling nonlethal amounts of helium and that kind of thing is usually harmless, but I did some research on the Internet and found in an article info about a girl who died after inhaling helium in a balloon. I showed it to Jennifer and she shared that with one of the friends.

I don’t mind Jennifer’s friends coming over and hanging out, but I DO mind when they do dangerous, illegal activity in my home. I won’t allow it. I only hope that more kids are educated about the dangers of inhaling helium. It’s all fun and games until someone is dead.

Here’s what I came across in my research:

Dangers of Inhaling Helium Exemplified in Oregon Tragedy

Mom warns of dangers of inhaling helium


Inhaling Helium Can Be Deadly

Is it dangerous to inhale helium?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Talking funny

One thing that is known about the deaf is that we occasionally “talk funny” – in that we mispronounce words. I have done this so many times. I would pronounce “media” as “meh-dia,” “suit” instead of “sweet” for the word “suite,” and “a-cow-stic” instead of “a-coo-stic” for the word “acoustic.” Even still, there are words I cannot pronounce correctly no matter how many times I am told how to pronounce these words. I cannot pronounce the word “anime” because I keep reading it phonetically. Even the word “Samhain,” which is in the title of my forthcoming novel, is a word I keep having a hard time pronouncing because, here again, I say the word phonetically. I am subscribed to a “Word a Day” mailing list, and I always pay attention to how the words are pronounced. For some words I know, I’ll be surprised to learn I’d been pronouncing it wrong!

But there is another kind of “talking funny” and that is when hearing people pronounce words differently, as though they have an accent or something. I am beginning to wonder if that is the case with Jesse.

When Jennifer was a toddler, she had a speech impediment. She could not say the ending “-th” in words and her “l’s” were “w’s” (she called her cousin, Laurie, ‘Waurie” and her friend Lilly became “Willy”). Of course, she outgrew it, but Jesse is going through it now, too. But not only is he doing that, he seems to be doing something else, too.

For example, this morning. He asked me how to spell the word “but” yet when he said that word, it looked like he was saying “boot” when I lipread him. I kept telling him how to spell “boot” but he kept saying that was not the word he meant. So I got Jennifer in on this. She said it sounded like he said “bout” (as in, “about”), but insisted that was not the word he wanted to know how to spell. Neither of us could understand him! And my attempts to try to get him to use the word in a sentence were not successful.

Finally, he wrote the word down as he thought it was spelled: “B-U-T.”

And you know what’s interesting? I had even guessed that word! I asked him if the word was “but” and he said no. I pronounced the word as it should be pronounced (like “butt”) and he had not understood me.

Had he even heard me correctly? I pondered this for a while. Sometimes the kids say they don’t hear ME speaking to them very well, and even Jennifer has told me I don’t pronounce words all the way. This is strange because I was able to talk before I became deaf (I was 13), and so I figure my speech is fine. Or maybe I had not spoken loud enough, a common problem for someone who can’t judge how loud her own voice is.

Nevertheless, I was concerned. The word Jesse meant was “but” yet Jennifer had HEARD “bout.” Was it possible Jesse was saying words wrong?

I know he will have a speech therapist when he enters elementary school (just as Jennifer did – and this was what helped her get over her speech impediment) but I thought maybe we should look into seeing one sooner. I brought this up with my husband and he said not to worry about it, though he DID sit down with Jesse himself to go over the speech thing.

So I guess we have to wait until he goes into elementary school and starts seeing a speech therapist. Oh, boy, it’s going to be a long summer. Ironically, even if I wore a hearing aid, I still might not be able to understand all of the words Jesse says to me each time he speaks to me. Not if he is not saying the words correctly.

Monday, June 10, 2013

My two graduates

Today was a very special day for us: It was the day that officially marked the end of the school year. Last week, on Thursday, was Jesse’s last day of preschool (the summer school trimester started this week). And today, it was Jennifer’s last day of 5th grade. Jesse has graduated from preschool and Jennifer has graduated from elementary school. I have two graduates in the house! Yay!

Here is Jesse on his last day of preschool:

Today was Jennifer’s very last day. Unfortunately, Jen’s dad could not come to her ceremony (which the school dubbed a “promotion”) and Jesse was likewise unable to attend. Both of them have been having allergies REALLY BAD lately so they stayed home.

I got to the school and found a seat which I thought was a good spot for taking pictures but I ended up moving to the seat next to me for picture-taking. When all of the graduating students entered the cafeteria, we all clapped. I had tears in my eyes as I watched all of them come in through the doors; I was so proud of each and every one of them! It was such a beautiful moment to see all of those graduating 5th graders.

First, the principal gave a speech, then the students who won special awards were called forward to receive their certificates. Then the graduating students were called to the stage a line at a time. All of the 5th grade teachers were lined on the stage to greet them, congratulate them and hug them as they walked over to get their certificates. I didn’t want to embarrass Jennifer and go crazy cheering when she got hers but I clapped good and hard when she came up on the stage. I also took a lot of pictures.

Here is Jennifer getting her certificate:

After that was done, we all applauded the graduating students then we were all released to go meet with everyone. I saw a friend and we both had tears in our eyes as we hugged. It was such a wonderful moment for our daughters!

I met up with Jen and we took turns talking with and hugging people. Then I took a bunch of pictures and then we had cake. I was taking more pictures and talking with more people I knew (including the principal), and I also told one of Jen’s former teachers that I’d be back in the Fall with my son, who would be entering kindergarten at the school. “Six more years!” she said. I also congratulated and hugged Jen’s friends.

When all was said and done and people started closing up, Jen helped put things away. When she was done, I put my arm around her and told her it was time to leave the school for the last time. She got really serious and said, “This is my very last day at this school.” It was like a realization hit her. Six years at this school and now she was leaving. She was going home from this school for the very last time. Once she left this school, she was no longer going to be a student there. Her days in the elementary school have come to an end.

We walked out of the building but we didn’t leave just yet. We spent some time walking around, looking at everything. I told Jen I could still remember her very first day of kindergarten at that school. She said she could remember it, too. I pointed at a door and said, “I remember you came out that door on your first day of kindergarten.” She said she could remember other things, too. We both kept saying “so many memories.” She started to remember all of her teachers and all of the things that happened at this school. The friends she made and the memories they created. We both started getting a little teary-eyed as we stood there together, our arms around each other and looking at the school. I told Jen it was not a last look for me but it was a last look for her. Of course, she can visit the school sometimes with stuff Jesse will be doing there, though I know it won’t be the same. She had graduated from this school today and it was now time for her to move on to middle school. But she’s always going to be keeping this school, the people and the memories she had there in her heart.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

A bit of an adventure

Earlier in the week, Jesse had been invited to a friend’s birthday party. When I saw where the party was – Skinner Butte Park – I started hoping it was not too far away. The last party he’d been invited to was too far and we didn’t go because I have a penchant for getting lost and I didn’t want to get lost all the way out there. (One time I was looking for a place in Springfield and ended up in Goshen.) But this was not too far; it was actually on the way to my doctor’s office, so I decided we’ll go.

All the same, however, I had A LOT of work to do in the house today. Not writing work; just getting this house in order. I’m planning on getting some things done with this house over the summer, so of course I wanted to get started this weekend. And it was a lot to do. I was planning to spend the day doing it. But Jesse had a party to get to. I thought about asking my husband to take him instead, even though he’s not really friends with the mom and doesn’t know her that well. Another part of me kept saying, Go. Have fun. The work will be here when you come back. Go and see them and have some cake.

So, I decided to go! And I prayed I wouldn’t get lost.

Well, it was not my tendency to get lost that made us get lost, after all. It was a twisted street sign! Of course I could not see the broken street sign, so of course I passed the street I had to turn onto. At some point, I thought, it can’t be out this far. So I turned around and came back. On the way back I could read that broken street sign, so I swung back around and got back on the right course.

If only our problems ended there!

Yes, we DID find the park, but I have never been there until today, and I never knew how immensely GINORMOUS it is. Seriously! It. Is. Huge. Google Maps just showed a small stretch of grassy land and the Willamette River. We found that grassy land and we found the river, so I figured they were around there somewhere, right?

Jesse and I walked back and forth over that area and could NOT find his friend or his mom. We really looked all over. We even went through the property of the neighboring senior center, thinking they were right around the corner.

But they weren’t. They weren’t anywhere. I was getting, hot, tired, sweaty and worn out from all that walking and running. My foot was hurting and I was dying of thirst. (I couldn’t find a water fountain.) In between all of this, I occasionally texted hubby and updated him about what was going on.

That stopped when Jesse took off on another path. I hurriedly put my phone away and chased after him. (He was convinced we would find his friend if only we kept looking.) As I ran along one area of the park, across the grass to a path, I noticed a line of bicyclists going along the path. Oh, it’s a parade, I thought, looking for a way to get through so I could find Jesse. I nearly did a double take when I got closer and looked at them again. That ain’t no parade. These bicyclists were NAKED! Obviously, it was one of those “naked bike ride” protests things I have read about.  As I walked in the opposite direction of the cyclists, trying NOT to notice anything, I couldn’t help but notice SOME things. Some of the girls had their breasts painted red. Some girls wore bras and panties. Some guys wore underwear; one guy even wore a cloth over his lap. But most of them were buck naked. And they had huge smiles on their faces too as they passed me by.

Oh. My. God.

I looked away, trying to act like I didn’t notice ANYTHING after that.

Then I had to look again, because I caught sight of a red shirt on the other side of the cyclists. Jesse! He was standing still, wide eyed, watching all these naked people pass by on their bikes.

I found a way across their path and called out his name. He snapped out of his stare then looked at me as he ran over saying, “Mommy, I was looking all over for you.”

Sure, you were, I thought, taking his hand. I was mad at these stupid cyclists! I wanted to scream at the girls, “Shame on you for showing my 5-year-old son your boobs!!!”

I decided we weren’t going to find his friend’s birthday party after all and said we had to go. Jesse was disappointed but didn’t say anything as we retreated to the car. Even so, I circled the lot a few times, looking around for them. No luck. But instead of going home, I noticed the road seemed different in the other direction so I decided to drive along it to see what was there.

More of Skinner Butte Park was there! I said it was ginormous; it really is ginormous! There was MORE of it up the road. In fact, we finally came to the playground area and I thought, This has to be it! So I parked there and we climbed out. Sure enough, Jesse’s friend was having his birthday party there.

We finally found them. I apologized to the mom for being so late and explained why. She said she was sorry but I told her not to worry about it.

I texted hubby to let him know we found the people we were looking for. It was a nice get-together and we were happy to see our friends. On the way home, I couldn’t help but think that we had quite a bit of an adventure today. And we got to see Skinner Butte Park. It’s beautiful and I’d love to go there again sometime. I do enjoy being around water; the lake, river, ocean. The view of the Willamette River is breathtaking and I was glad I got to see it. At least now we knew what to expect with Skinner Butte Park! I only hope next time, it won’t involve naked bicyclists.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Lost dog

Today, Jesse asked if he could go outside to ride his bike. I told him to wait until it cooled down first. Just as soon as it was cooler, we went out the front door. I kept an eye on him as he rode his bike up and down the street. I noticed a stray cat walk past the house but was surprised by another visitor: A dog! A dog that was obviously without an owner. (There was no collar and license on the dog, either.) We tried to guess who the dog belonged to but we had not seen her before so we really had no idea. One of my neighbors came out to put out trash and she didn’t know who the dog belonged to, either. (The dog was going back and forth between our houses. I texted my neighbor later to ask her if she knew what breed of dog it was; her best guess was a terrier mix.)

At first, I didn’t want to talk to the dog or anything because I didn't want to encourage her to stick around since we had to go in soon. But she was sooo friendly. I petted her and talked to her a little. She LOVED Jesse, always running up to him and looking up at him as if expecting to play. She also kept going into our garage and sniffing around. She was so cute!

I felt bad someone had lost their dog. We waited and watched but there was no dog-walker coming to claim her. (Sometimes I have seen people “walking” their dog without a leash.) At one point, when the dog had ran off, I told Jesse it was time to come in because I had to make dinner. But he didn’t come in right away. So I kept telling him he had to come in and, wouldn’t you know it, the dog showed up again! I felt bad for the dog so I gave her some water. (She tried to get into my house but I would not let her; I don’t know if my dog would welcome a guest!) Well, the dog drank some water and ran off. I told Jesse to come in the house now and he got sad and said he wanted to pet the dog. I told him he should have done that when the dog was here. I noticed the dog across the street so I told him to go ahead and pet her. He went across the street to do that but then the dog ran off in the opposite direction – to someone running to her: A little boy dressed in pajamas. I was going to say something but had a feeling to keep quiet because I could tell something was happening. The little boy and dog got together and the boy petted the dog then hugged her.

I smiled, realizing the situation: This was his dog. I looked and noticed a woman about my age walking over to them and bending over to pick up the dog. She was obviously the mom. The dog seemed happy to see her family again. Jesse got to pet the dog then he ran back over to stand near me. He talked with them for a bit and I looked at the dog as the woman talked. The dog seemed comfortable and relaxed in the woman’s arm. Yep, this was her family. Jesse found out the dog’s name was Sniffy.

Soon they turned around to walk back home and Jesse and I did the same. I smiled at Jesse and said, “Maybe there was a reason why we had to stay outside longer.” The dog liked hanging out with us; if we had gone inside, she would have ran off again, and who knows if her family would have ever found her. I was just so glad and relieved they did. I would’ve worried about her all night and hoped she hadn’t got hit by a car when running around in the streets. But now I won’t have to worry about her. She’s home again, safe and sound.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Family Barbecue

The other day, I posted on Facebook about how the kids went to a friend’s house for a barbecue. Today, the three of us went to a Family Barbecue – the annual BBQ that Jen’s school has every summer. I definitely love barbecued foods and would not turn down going to a BBQ, so I was excited about it!

We got to the BBQ at about 20 minutes after it began. We each loaded up our plates, got some lemonade then found a place to sit at the bench tables. Jen and I both ate our food but Jesse wasn’t really crazy about a barbecued hot dog, so he sort of picked at the food on his plate. He drank lots of lemonade, though!

After we ate, we all went out to the playground and the kids played. I looked for a friend but I could not find her. I found her daughter, though, and was informed her mom had stayed home because she wasn’t feeling well. I did talk to my friend's husband, though. We briefly chatted about stuff going on.

While Jennifer hung out with her friends, Jesse had so much fun at the playground. He played with a little girl on the swings then he played on the jungle gym and bars. I helped him to swing on the bars and to do a trick (which he was really excited about being able to do) then he practiced walking on the balancing beam. I couldn’t help but smile over how he challenged himself on that beam until he was able to walk the whole thing. He was happy about that and I gave him a high-five.

I looked around as kids all around me played in the playground. Not too far off in the field was a Little League baseball game. In another part of the field, a group of boys were wrestling, and in another part, a small family was playing with a large, inflated airplane. It was such a nice, beautiful day. I was worried about the sun beating down on my burn scars but it was not that bad and even a little breezy. All the same, I tried to stay in shady areas as much as possible.

At one point, Jennifer wanted to play tag with Jesse. When he was running, he fell and hit his head. He got a bad scrape on his forehead. I had him sit down on the bench while Jennifer ran to get a cold, wet cloth for me to use to stop the bleeding. After that was taken care of and he felt okay again, the two of them ran off. He laughed and ran as they played in the field. I could only smile and shake my head, thinking, He’s fine.

I walked around the field watching the kids play then I noticed a piece of paper on the ground. I picked it up and read “Operation Texas” on it. Weird! Never heard of that. I stuck the paper into the fence then walked to sit down on the field near the kids. I took out my phone and Googled “Operation Texas”; Wikipedia said it was some kind of secret mission years ago to help Jews. Hm, interesting!

After a while, I was getting really thirsty and told the kids I wanted to get home. Soon we left, the two of them running and chasing each other on the way to the car, with me doing a bit of running too to keep up with them, then we got into the car and I texted hubby to let him know we were on our way home. We got ice cream on the way and I was sure to drink A LOT of ice water after we got home. I made sure the kids had water, too.

I was tired and worn out from the day but we had a great time at the Family Barbecue.