Sunday, December 30, 2007

It's a Zoo at My House

It's one of those weekends...

We have three dogs, four adults, and six kids in the house and there's a couple more adults and kids joining us for a New Year's Eve party tomorrow. Lauren's friend Sarah, came in from Texas. The hubby made me promise that there would just be "a few people" this year. Thank goodness that he doesn't read this blog.

I'm down to one chair in the dining room. Joe's mom gave us her kitchen set several years ago and one by one, the chairs have been tossed out as they break down. I've finally realized the reason that they're probably breaking down: we have no humidifier in the house and the dry air is probably cracking the rattan. That, and the wild children that live here.

The good news is that we have some lights working in the basement. Our friend Dan came over yesterday and spent the day re-routing wires and adding lights. Here are the guys high-fiving after they turned the lights on:

My mom and my mother-in-law both tell me that the years start becoming a blur as you get older. Time starts spinning faster and faster. They're not kidding! I swear, it was just a few months ago when we had our last New Year's Eve party. We're gonna miss our friends who've moved out of state. Happy New Year to you guys!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wordless Wednesday--Son Meets Snowman

It's Wordless Wednesday:

"It's not a snowman, it's a SnowWoman, Mom!"


Friday, December 21, 2007

Discovering the Genetic Pattern in my Family

In March of 2006, we had a team of researchers spend the day with us at my house. One of my cousins came up from Missouri and my parents came in from Michigan. All of my siblings and some nieces and nephews were there as well. The researchers spent the day talking with each of us individually and gathering blood samples. Before they left, we sat down to a huge dinner. My mom never lets anyone leave on an empty stomach.

A few months ago, we received a letter identifying the gene with a bunch of numbers and letters. The gene at this point is rare--just two other families have been identified with this gene so far.

I posted more about this gene here: The Genetic Puzzle.

The implications of genetic research are not to be taken lightly. We knew, going into this research project, that we likely would discover information that would impact future generations in our family.

My daughter has the gene and there's nearly a hundred percent guarantee that she will pass this gene on to her children. My sons will not.

My husband and I knew that we would likely have deaf and hard of hearing kids when we got married. That didn't factor into our decision whether or not to have kids simply because there was a deaf gene present. We wanted kids and if they happened to be deaf, hard of hearing or hearing-- it didn't matter. Sure, we talked about how it might be easier to have kids with hearing in the normal range. And we grieved a bit when each of our kids lost their hearing, mostly because we knew that society was going to give them a rough time here and there.

In the end, it comes down to attitude. I happen to think that this world is much more interesting because my deaf and hard of hearing kids are in it. I like hanging around people who feel the same way. I avoid toxic people who think that my family, my kids are less human because our genes are a little skewed.

And I look forward to embracing my deaf, hard of hearing and hearing grandchildren someday.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

BookHands--What Happy Women Know

On Saturday night, it was my turn to host BookHands, a deaf women's book club, at my place. I'm notorious for picking books by deaf authors or with deaf themes, but this time, I went with a self-help book, What Happy Women Know.

We were missing two of our members, Karen and Kathy, who moved out of state (and how we do miss them!) and another member had a company party to go to. We had quite a lively discussion about happiness and the role of money in happiness. We took some trips back in time where we shared some happy memories. We talked about "Jobs, Careers and Callings" and how each of us approached our work in life. Some shared how the hard times in life brought happiness through a better sense of self and changed circumstances.

A great book, great discussion and a lot of food left us discovering that we are indeed a happy bunch:

Friday, December 14, 2007

Dorothy Meets Alice--And My Son

Two weeks ago, my oldest son was asked to take over a role in the Hinsdale South Deaf Drama, "Dorothy Meets Alice." So for two weeks, he stayed after school until six p.m. and practiced learning 35 lines in American Sign Language. We went to see the play last night and I was so, so proud of my guy! The entire cast did a good job, although there were times when the ASL went over our heads. He's in the red shirt below:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mom's Night Inn--A January Retreat

Are you a mom or caregiver of a deaf or hard of hearing child? Then you'll want to join the Illinois Hands & Voices Mom's Night Inn on January 12, 2008.

This overnight retreat begins at 2 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in Naperville, Illinois. Leeanne Seaver, the Executive Director of Hands & Voices, will be presenting her own journey, "Beginning with the End in Mind: What I Know Now, I Wish I Knew Then." There will be pizza, crafts, a couple of heart to heart discussions and some pampering. Sunday includes a full breakfast and a parent/child panel where the audience can ask questions from both perspectives. This is for Moms and Caregivers of deaf and hard of hearing children of all ages. This is an event where we connect and learn from each other.

For more information and to join the fun:

Mom's Night Inn Flyer

Mom's Night Inn Registration

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wordless Wednesday-- PMS!

At my Women's Club this Sunday, my friend Jean gave me this dish towel. Need I say more?

Happy Wordless Wednesday!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Leonard Hall, Attorney for the City of Olathe

My friend Tony, has just completed the LSAT and is planning to go to law school when he finishes his undergraduate degree. Tony is hard of hearing and I've been connecting him with deaf and hard of hearing lawyers when I find them.

Here's one for you, Tony:

Leonard Hall, Kansas Attorney.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Friday, December 07, 2007

I Wish You Enough

You know those email tidbits that get sent over and over around the internet? Well, I don't usually read through many of them, but my cousin Chris sent me this one below and I thought it was beautiful. I don't know who the original author is so I can't give any credit. Here it is:

Recently I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure.

Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said, "I love you and I wish you enough".

The daughter replied, "Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom".

They kissed and the daughter left. The mother walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy but she welcomed me in by asking,"Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?".

Yes, I have," I replied. "Forgive me for asking,but why is this a forever good-bye?".

"I am old and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is - the next trip back will be for my funeral," she said.

"When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, 'I wish you enough'. May I ask what that means?".

She began to smile.

"That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone". She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail and she smiled even more. "When we said, 'I wish you enough', we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them". Then turning toward me, she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory:

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude
bright no matter how gray the day may appear.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.

I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

She then began to cry and walked away.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them but then an entire life to forget them.

Chris lost her mom not too long ago so I know this is special to her.

Wishing you "enough" right back at you.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Blast from the Past--Visiting Northern Illinois University

Yesterday, I headed west to Northern Illinois University for my annual visit with Dr. Ouellette. Dr. Ouellette is the Department Chair for the School of Allied Health. Each year, I speak to her graduate class about Hands & Voices and raising deaf and hard of hearing children. Every year, we grab lunch together before class and catch up on life.

After the class was over, I headed over to the Health building and visited some old friends and staff. It has been 23 years since I first set foot on campus, but many of the same staff are still there. And each year that I come back to NIU, I'm more and more aware of how quickly time is passing by. I used to babysit for many of the staff at NIU and now their kids are in college and in some cases, starting families.

Ah, but what really broke my heart was seeing a popular bar shuttered and up for lease:

There were some good memories at that bar!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007 Community for People with Disabilities

A few months ago, I was asked by to join their group of bloggers writing about life. My blog posts can be found here: Deaf Mom's Disaboom.

Disaboom is a brand new website that focuses on disability topics and people with disabilities. The website launched in October of this year, and will re-launch with some improved changes in January of next year. The Vancouver Sun recently did an article on Disaboom: Disaboom Gathers Disabled. One of my blog posts has a brief mention in there.

Here are some of the popular blog posts I've done at Disaboom:

Carmel Flores

Disability Blogs on the Web

Meet Stephen Hopson

Henry Kisor Releases New Mystery Novel

The Deaf Freedom Cruise

Deaf People Have Signaoke!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Barbe Gurga--Ride like the Wind, Girl!

It was a cold, blustery day for a funeral today. St. Alphonsus Church, located in the heart of Lincoln Park, was filled with friends and family who came to remember Barbe Gurga, a deaf Rehabilitation Counselor. For 21 years, Barbe worked with countless deaf and hard of hearing clients to develop their careers and assist in finding jobs. In April, 2004, Barbe was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Even after getting round after round of chemotherapy, Barbe headed off to work as long as she could.

My first encounter with Barbe was back in 1989. I headed to her office from graduate school to shadow her on the job for several days. Each day, we went out to lunch and chatted up storm. I remember asking her, "Do you like what you do?" Barbe smiled and said, "Yes, I love my job and the people I help, I just don't like the paperwork."

I continued to see Barbe at meetings and advocacy events throughout the years. Then I had my kids and focused on being a mom and I saw her less and less. But each time I ran into Barbe, she always had a smile on her face and a positive outlook on life.

The Eulogy was given by Jay Blumenfeld and signed by Howard Rosenblum. Jay recalled some of Barbe's last days:

"She told me she wanted to get better so she could go back to Switzerland and ride her moped through the mountains and feel the wind blowing on her face with birds soaring high in the sky. I looked at her with a smile while she was telling me her dream, thinking that she would not be able to go back. But now I do realize her dream did come true--it's called Heaven. Barbe is now free and she can ride her moped anywhere and anytime her wonderful, beautiful spirit takes her!"

So Barbe, girl-- ride like the wind!