Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dr. Ears

Maria failed her hearing test at school both times it was given, so the school recommended she see her doctor. It happened that she came down with an earache the day before that scheduled appointment and so the doctor was able to prescribe medicine for her ear (the doc called the timing of our appointment providential). He also referred her to an ear specialist to address the hearing problem. He told me that this particular doctor is "world class" and our community is fortunate to have him right here in northwest Iowa, definitely another Iowa good thing. We had that appointment yesterday.

Maria failed the first hearing test at the doctor's office, but after the audiologist gave her some coaching, she was able to pass it. The doctor was discussing this with me (as in - "Did she really pass it or was it the coaching?") and he asked me if I was familiar with how they do this testing. I said that I had had many hearing tests when I lost the hearing in my right ear. Now at this point, Maria had already ceased to be medically interesting (not being medically interesting is something we try to encourage our children to strive for), but now the doctor was very interested in me.

He hustled me into the examining chair and sent both his assistants scurrying to find various items. Then he demonstrated a hearing device to me. It was amazing. I am completely deaf in my right ear, but with this device I was able to hear sounds that were on my right side. It is not a hearing aid and it works by conducting the sound to my left ear. It is designed for people who have complete or near complete hearing loss in one ear and for whom a hearing aid would not work. It is designed for people like me.

The device would be implanted behind my right ear and a small external receiver gets clipped to it. Because it isn't a hearing aid, at this point most insurance companies cover the cost. He sent me home with a version of it to see if I like it. Obviously, it isn't implanted so it isn't exactly like this device would be, but it works in a similar manner. I have to strap it to my head with this wide Velcro band (think ugly). I tried it out for about an hour yesterday (my children would not let me go out in public wearing it). It was interesting. Even if I completely blocked my left ear, I could hear. I could actually hear quite well. Amazing!

I did find that I have to work a bit at making this work and after I took it off my left ear was "tired" from processing all that sound. I'm sure "tired" is not quite the right term, but I don't know how else to describe it. Also, because all the sounds would still be processed by my left ear, I would likely not regain the ability to tell sound direction, although some people get a bit of that because of the time lag needed to conduct the sound to the other ear. I lost my hearing more than 35 years ago. Can I get used to this new way to hear. What do you think? Would you do it? Oh, and Maria will have her hearing rechecked in 3 months.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

In the Eyes of a Child

It was so fun to watch Jon Felipe's excitement in church this morning. We attended a nearby church with a more contemporary service, so the words of the songs were projected onto a screen in the front. JF was so excited about every word that he could read. He would excitedly point them out to me: joy, love, Jesus, and many more. He was too excited to do it quietly and his total joy at being able to read the words was so great that I didn't try to shush him either. Where we were sitting, we were completely surrounded by college students, several of whom I have in class, and none of them seemed at all bothered by the noise. JF has such a gift for living totally in the moment and fully embracing the joy of that moment. I am trying to be more like him.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Afternoon

My youngest two had a half day today so I decided to "work" from home this afternoon. I really did bring home a pile of projects to grade, but I just couldn't muster much motivation for the task. So when Jon Felipe asked to bake cookies I said, "Great idea." I told him we'd get started as soon as I finished the lunch dishes. He ran off downstairs to get a toy and I put the tea kettle on and started cleaning up.

I heard him come gallumping back up the stairs, heard him get to the top, and then I heard this little noise that he makes. This is the noise that gets me out of bed and half-way up the stairs in the middle of the night before I even realize I am awake (we keep a baby monitor in his room). This is the noise that means he is having a seizure. As I dashed to the stairs, I heard him fall, bumping all the way down. When I got to him he was still seizing. I didn't dare move him in case he had broken something. I felt terrible that I couldn't protect him from this happening.

I wanted to cry, but I didn't. Instead I sat next to him on the floor and held his hand and thought about how much I love this little boy. Finally he began to stir and once I determined nothing was broken, I carried him upstairs and laid him on the couch. He rested for a bit and then he sat up and asked when we were going to get to making the cookies. So, we made cookies and, at his suggestion, even brought some over to Tony and Jacob at Dordt. I didn't get any projects graded. There's always tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Adoption Books

I love books and I have a stack of books on my desk that I plan to read as soon as I find the time. This month I finally found some time to get started on reading at least a few of them. Two books that I've wanted to read for some time now are Adopting the Hurt Child and Parenting the Hurt Child by Gregory Keck and Regina Kupecky. These books are well known in the adoption community and were recently updated to include references to internationally adopted children.

If you have adopted or are thinking about adopting older children, either domestically or internationally, both these books are a must read. If you have family members who have adopted older children, if you know families with older adopted children, if you are a teacher and have these children in your class, or if you want to better understand my two adopted children, you should pick these books up. At a minimum, I suggest reading chapter two of Adopting the Hurt Child. The information in this chapter will give you some insight into why these children do some of the things they do.

Once you read these books, you will no longer be able to look at these children in the same way. Instead, you will be amazed at how resilient these children are and how much energy they have to put into overcoming the hurts they've experienced in their early life. You will also be angry about the treatment some children endure at the hands of those who should care for and protect them. I am grateful for all the parents who have answered the call to love and parent these hurting children.

I cannot imagine our family without Maria and Jon Felipe in it. We have been fortunate in that they both have developed strong bonds to us and we with them. Even though we continue to address some issues related to their background, they are both able to love and be loved. After reading these books, I am no longer taking for granted that this is the way it always works.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Moving In and Moving On

We moved into this house almost five months ago. Until this weekend, though, all the furniture remained essentially where it got set down when we moved in. We hadn't even unpacked all the boxes. It was like we couldn't commit emotionally to this house while we still owned a house in Michigan. Somehow, it felt like we were just living here temporarily until the next thing came along that made us move again. Not a good way to live.

That changed this past weekend. I'd like to say that it was because we had completed the sale of our Holland house, but unfortunately that hasn't happened yet (that is a whole other post). Instead, it was the fact that guests were coming to stay that got us moving. Some of Colin's friends came out this week while on their spring break and I am so glad. First because he is really enjoying spending time with his friends and second because the house is really looking nice.

We put our favorite books on the shelves. We got the games organized and on shelves as well. The kids are loving playing the games they haven't seen for months. I have a place to sit and read a book and have a cup of tea. Having my favorite things around makes it feel like home instead of just a place to live and I'm loving that. Next weekend we may even hang pictures and I've got a place all picked out to hang my favorite quilt. (Dad, I've also got the perfect place waiting for the chair you reupholstered for me. I showed the kids pictures and they could not believe what a fabulous job you did. Thank you!)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Growing Kids

Kid Zone is taking all the kids swimming on Monday. This outing is sponsored by a local business and they are supplying all the volunteers for the outing so I'm not even going along. Jon Felipe and Maria have grown so much since last summer, however, that we did need to get them both new swimsuits. Being the last of the big spenders, we took both kids to Walmart. JF picked one, tried it on under duress, and we bought that one. He refused to model it after we got home. Maria picked out a few and tried them all on. As she was showing us a couple she liked, my husband helpfully pointed out that one of them was a two-piece (a tankini style). I thought I heard shades of "Are you really going to let my daughter swim in public in a two-piece?" in his voice, but I could be wrong. She finally chose a one-piece which I think looks very nice on her. Of course, she was happy to try it on again after we got home. Doesn't she look cute!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Random Stuff

Sorry I've been gone for a bit. I have had a miserable cold and haven't felt very sociable. I did manage to get a lot done on my to-do list so far this week since I didn't feel up to doing anything fun anyway. I've also been loving the warmer weather these past couple days.

Since it was spring break and I had the time, I scheduled a physical. There wasn't anything wrong, I just hadn't had a physical in a couple years. Plus, I thought it would be good to get established with a doctor here. The most painful part was getting weighed, of course, although I was pleased to find that I weighed less on the doctor's scale than on my home scale, sort of like instant weight loss. I was also about 2 inches shorter. How can that be? Am I shrinking?

Jon Felipe's class had pajama day today. JF is the one on the far left in this photo. He brought Monkey (Curious George) with him to school for the PJ day activities. He loves special days like this. Of course, the first thing he asked me when he got home was how many days until his class gets to have pajama day again.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Night

Pictures with my two youngest, just because.

Me with my fun-loving Jon Felipe.

Me with my beautiful Maria.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring Break

Spring Break started at 12:15 p.m. In case you wondered, I'm not going anywhere. No fun in the sun, no exploring new places, no travel adventures for this prof. Instead, I'll be hanging out in northwest Iowa. Judging by the number of people around campus this afternoon, I should have plenty of peace and quiet. I have to admit, though, I am looking forward to having time to catch up on all the work that has piled up on my desk. That doesn't make for a very exciting spring break, but I know that it will make me happy if I can get a lot accomplished. Still, I needed a little excitement. So, I decided to get a new hairdo. It is short again, but I'm pretty pleased with it. I've been keeping up with the couch to 5k program (on week 4 now) so I'm also thinking short will be good for running. Plus, I was just kind of bored.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mrs. L.

Mrs. L has been such a blessing to us. She is the parapro (teacher aide) that the school hired at the beginning of the school year to work with Jon Felipe. She taught first and second grade for more than twenty years so she has lots of experience with this age group and she is just wonderful with Jon Felipe. She knows what things to push and what things to let go. She holds him to high standards while also being understanding of his struggles. We communicate via a notebook that goes back and forth so I always know what things Jon Felipe worked on at school and how his day went. JF has made huge progress this year at school and I am convinced that a lot of that is due to Mrs. L. He has learned to read and spell and do basic math. He has begun to do Bible memory. He has learned how to act in the classroom. He has worked on learning how to play with friends at recess and I love hearing his stories each day about his interactions with his friends. He is thriving this year and we thank God for putting Mrs. L his life.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I like it when different parts of my life connect. Today as I was leaving SCMS, I saw C standing by the door, waiting for his ride. C goes to Kid Zone, so I asked him if he was going to come to cup stacking today. He said he couldn't come today because he was grounded, but he seemed pleased when I said I would miss him. Later I made a quick stop at the library. As I was looking for a new book, I suddenly found K at my elbow. K is one of the students I work with at SCMS. He is a newcomer and enjoys confusing me by talking rapidly in Spanish. He always wants to work with me when I come to his school and he seemed happy to hang out with me for a few minutes at the library. These two smiling faces made my day today.