Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thin Gowns and warm hearts


As I get older, I appreciate the advancement of prevented medical care. I know my body is not what it use to be, and I rely on my doctor to direct me to the latest procedure. Well 2 years ago, I had my baseline mammogram. This mammogram is used to get a good read of the breast in order to have film to compare it to later on in life. Well they found Breast Calcifications. After they were removed, I was told to have regular mammograms at 3 months, 6 months, and a year. After a year of clear mammograms, I was scheduled yearly to make sure everything is normal.


My family history is directly related to breast cancer. My mom is a stage 3 breast cancer survivor. My Aunt Barbara is also a breast cancer survivor, as well as my Great Uncle. With this family history, my sisters and I regular schedule our mammograms. There maybe nothing I can do to stop breast cancer, except self-exams, yearly test, and of course awareness. The only good news in my family is my mom tested negative for the breast cancer gene. Her sister tested positive. Oh my aunt is a fighter, nothing can keep her down, not breast cancer, not tongue cancer, not cervical cancer, not even stomach cancer. She takes that treatment and goes about her life. She is my hero.


Now my regular scheduled mammogram was on the 6th of November. The feared called came on the next Friday. I was to return to the office for more film. They found a density change. So on November 21 at 7:00 I walked into the office. I was taken back and put into that thin cold robe. After three more breast pancakes, and pancakes that should not be humanly possible, I was placed into a room to wait. Several women came in, in the same thin robe in the same cold room. Each attached in a kinship of waiting for answers. I may never remember there names , but I will always remember the stories and faces. They listened to my fear and worry. I listened to their worries. And together we helped each other through! One lady I will never forget had stage 4 breast cancer and a mastectomy. She was there for her follow up test. After 4 years, she comes in every year for a mammogram. After sitting there over an hour, she said, I wish they would just let you so you can get on with your life. There was not need to thread water. Oh I agreed, I just wanted to stop threading water and get on with it. You can't tackle a problem without answers.
Another woman had a "scare" and called back for more film. She was finally told after 1 hour, our group cheered for her, as she was given positive news. One lady had a history of cancer and has had several lumps taken out. Her view was one year at a time. You can't change it, just be in charge of the treatment. This ever following group of ladies of all race, religions, and age bonded of a test that is painful, embarrasses you, and finally can rob your body. We sat in thin gowns laughing, crying, and cheering. When I went back for my ultrasound I knew they would be there to hear my outcome. They cheered as I told them, I had to come back in 6 months but so far so good.
As I left Vanderbilt Breast Center, I will be forever in debted to these wonderful strong women and technicians who helped guide my strength through 3 of the longest hours of my life. Thank you my mammogram group, may each of you have great test returned.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cochlear Implants and Ear Infections


Well what a last few weeks! I have been battling double ear infections. After two rounds of meds, a shot and decongrestion, my doctor has announced the ear infections are gone!!!!


This is the latest round of ear infections for me. Since bilateral cochlear implant surgery July 9, 2008, I have had at least 5 ear infections. I don't remember ever having as many ear infections before. So I am wondering if ear infections are common side effects of having cochlear implants? What are the reasons behind ear infections in relations to not having usable hearing in the ears. Why have I had an inability to feel the increase in fluid and pain? And finally what can I do to keep from this infection occurring. Now that I have formed my questions, I need to start googling.


If any of you know any information, please pass it on. I learn so much from all of you.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

How do you feel about being deaf?

How do you feel about being deaf?



I read that question just this week, of course it made my mind turn and think. The only answer I could come up with is this, while I accept my deafness, it doesn't mean I like it. It does not mean I haven't tried all available technology, so I can have access to sound. It doesn't define me. It just is.



So how do you feel about being deaf? Do you accept it, dislike it, neutral, or love it?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

La, La, la.....Music to my ears!


One of the greatest joys of using cochlear implants is music. For 20 years I lost my love for music. It became loud boring noise. Over the past year, I have gone through two ipods, a classic and an Itouch. I am in love with my itouch. I watch videos(wish they were captioned), watch the podcast, keep time at the Y, and listen to my 88 sounds. Oh, I can't wait to get my new itune card to download more sounds. Here is my top 5 of the last few months. I also welcome any suggestions to new songs.

I pick songs that speak to me, for example, bring up a past memory or have a beat that catches my attention.
5. Heaven by Bryan Adams
the YouTube videos were removed, so sorry. There is nothing like the video. Bryan Adams.....where is he? I miss his music.

4. Last Dance by Donna Summers
Jenna's dance company used this song for their ending number at their recital in May. I could not get the song out of my mind. It has a kicking beat...long live disco.

3. In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins
I remember this video from the tv show "Miami Vice." I challenge you to watch the youtube and figure out what comes at the end of each line. It too me awhile to get the two words. That drum beat in the middle just gets me each time. I act it out on my stearing wheel everytime.

2. Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler
In the video, she is easy to read her lips. I love any song that just makes my heart fall in love.

1. Viva la Vida by Coldplay
My new favorite. Some song, it has it all. The beat the words and the music..... A group at Jenna's dance is using this song for dance competition. I heard the beginning and just had to have it. The lyrics are interesting. I still have a hard time getting all the words. Just the beginning sells me.

Music is a joy. I can't get over the differences between hearing aids and cochlear implants with music. When I was listening to music growing up, I always felt as if I was missing something. It turns out I was, the different pitches and the high tones. Music never sounded so good.


***I want to say happy birthday to my first high school boyfriend, John. John just had his birthday on Saturday. True friendships know no communication barriers or distance barriers. He has been my greatest friend since I was in 7th grade(I'm old). I want him to know how important his friendship over the years has been and how much I cherish it. **smack, your birthday kiss****

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Year In Review - Just the Facts


I am reflecting on the past year, I can't help but think how much my life has changed. I am not talking about just the cochlear implants or the blog or the new work assignment or even the new house. When I look into the mirror I see a different person. Not the same old Valerie, not even the new Valerie. I see a person full of something that I have never had before - self-confidence. Yup that old self-esteem and self-worth that my parents worked so hard to develop, but always lacked. How did it magically appear! Bam....bam...here it is. No not that way, it showed up August 8, 2007 with a simple push of the button, live from Nashville...Vanderbilt Medical Center, here is Valerie.......The activation gave an opportunity to finally say "I'm deaf" and you know what I'm okay with it. I accept me. I accept this wonderful device that allows access to sound. I accept its limits as well as it opportunities.


One of the wonderful bloggers, David, at Five String Guitar, had his third Cochlear implant surgery. The doctors wanted to go in and replace his CI. I send all my prayers and smiles his way. He is a fantastic inspiration to all. He is so blessed. May this one be the magic charm and give him the opportunity to be bilateral.


I have been so far behind in my blog reading. I want to redesign my blog and include all my favorites. There are too many to list. I also want to post more often. I have so much to say. So I need to snap out of this pre-fall mood and get with it. Life is too short to sit around and do nothing. There is a whole world to explore. I'm on my way........

Friday, September 19, 2008

I can't believe it moment!

It has been a long time since I posted. Wow too long! I haven't had writer's block or thinking block, just teaching. This year my teaching world has been turned upside down. As I was standing in front of my classroom. The one in a white portable trailer finally with running water and bathroom in front of a group of children that the educational system has given up on. The ones who can't "read, write, or learn." The group that falls into the 1% and 2% of the educational population, that we pass through from grade to grade hoping and wishing they will "pass the test." As I stand before them, I don't see failure. I see happy face writing bat for the first time. I see pigtails writing her first sentence with no grammar errors and she is in 4th grade. I see Ms. Give up identify the /l/ sound and that /a/(short) is not /i/(short). I see success.



BUT HOLD ON- There teacher, me, is a deaf individual teaching phonic to them. Not just sounds, words, I mean speech phonics. Then I say Oh my goodness....how did it happen. Who has the faith in me.



In the spring, I lobbied to teach a fantastic program called Language! by SoprisWest. Language! is a program that assist the children to develop into independent academic readers. It builds the foundation from the bottom. I lobbied for this program. I camped out in the office for this a chance to teach this. I begged, I did everything to be able to teach this. Why?? One reason, many years ago my 2nd grade teacher didn't give up on me, and my goodness I will not give up on these students. I want to be the one teacher that said I believe in you. I will teach you how. I will show you how. I will support you. This program is why I teach. And now they are learning. I see smiles and effort and most importantly self-esteem. Can one program do this? No, this isn't like any program I have ever taught. It's real. It works. Look another day, and I can't wait to go teach my students. I thank my principal for see me instead of my deafness. She hired me 15 years ago even after I interviewed at 7 other schools. She saw me not my deafness. She supported my CIs and is always right there to lend a hand. This person is giving me the opportunity to live this dream. A dream to teach and a dream to change the direction and life of a child. Got to go.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The deaf fairy tale

Once upon a time....no, no wait, I must change that beginning....okay, Once on a sunny beautiful day a baby was born, oh how the parents loved her. They sang to her and talked to her. They dressed her and did all the wonderful parental things for her. She grew and grew until a deadly disease almost claimed her life. Then the little gal couldn't hear the wonderful mother and father. The mother asked the royal doctors for help and they bashed the baby away. The mother refused the have her baby bashed away and decided to set out on a lifetime journey to educate and help the baby grow up...........now a long time after the baby grow up until she was a beautiful Princess.....STOP.....not a beautiful princess......okay changing words again.........Well all gals are princesses, but this one was different, she wore wonderful things on her ears that squeaked when she smiles and laughed.....okay I know let's call her the Princess with ears that squeaky, or Squeaky for short....okay now back to the story..........So now the Princess with ears that squeak when to the Royal ball and met a wonderful Prince Charming.....STOP...first it was not a ball and there is no Prince Charming, Okay, Okay, it was the 80's and she did go to the Zoo, the club, okay now let's settle this Prince Charming stuff, first no guy is a Prince and well he was charming, okay I'll just call him Mr. Charming.....now back to the story......Squeaky went out with her royal friends to the Zoo and met Mr. Charming. Since he did not hear the squeaking he loved her smile and laugh. They fell madly in love and set out in the world to make it a better place. Every time the Princess who squeaked smiled or laughed she squeaked and Mr. Charming just smiled and laughed with her. Many many years later Squeaky and Mr. Charming welcomed a beautiful baby gal into their life. When she was born she cried and screamed. Squeaky couldn't hear anything and instead of smiling and laughing she cried. Squeaky loved that baby with all her heart, but now instead of squeaking she cried more and more and lost her love of words and music. Mr. Charming tried his best to bring her back to the love of words. He tried to find new eary things and more royal doctors. In the end squeaky just faked a smile and loved her baby and Mr. Charming. Then many years after she gave up on hearing the wonderful baby Princess's voice and laugh, she hear from a royal doctor about new ears and the hope of hearing the baby, the Princess with ears that squeak embarked on a journey to get those ears those magical ears. She traveled far and wide, over the mountains and through the valleys. She talked to many royal doctors and many royal helpers and finally got her new ears. When they turned on her new ears she heard the baby Princess and Mr. Charming and tears ran down there faces. Then Squeaky didn't squeak as the tears were replaced with smiles and laughs. The baby princess climbed into Squeaky's lap and told Squeaky that she loved the inside of the heart and now they will find the peace Squeaky wants. Mr. Charming said I might not be charming all the time, but will always love the Princess who squeaks smiles and laughs. The royal mother and father cried as the mother realized her journey to help her daughter has been filled. The Princess' sisters cried and laughed and hugged Squeaky. As Squeaky got us to her new ears the world opened up for her and she enjoyed each day. The family lived happily ever after...STOP, just STOP......if they lived happily ever after then the life was just so boring. who wants to stop living and be happy all the time. Life is boring then, Okay, Okay the new ending. The Princess with ears that don't squeak, Mr. not always Charming, and the baby Princess lived each day with music, laughter, tears, dances, and most of all life.


***When you drive six plus hours, my mind gets stories going. I wanted to write this one before I forgot it. I have a good on dysfunctional and special education. And Abbie what was the other idea I had.....I hope you remember...******

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm thankful for.....

With my dad at home on hospice care, I am so thankful for my cochlear implants.

Why........I can use the phone to talk to mom or my sisters two, three or more times daily. I can tell through the sound of mom's voice how she is feeling. That is a blessing to really hear her! (I spent my life without the phone, each day I feel more and more comfortable on it.) I heard tears yesterday. I'm going home Friday for the long weekend to hug my dad and say goodbye. I'm sure he is waiting to say goodbye to Jenna and myself. He needs to find his peace.

My dad passed away at 3:53 P.M. August 26, 2008. May he watch over us from heaven. I love you dad.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Turn on the lights!

Many moments happen throughout time without giving it a second thought! This time I stopped and realized how grateful I am. Late one evening after a long stressful day back at work, after dinner and just sitting in bed watching the Olympics read the caption without my bilateral cochlear implants. Get the picture! Me in PJs deaf! My husband wanted to ask a question or make a comment, doesn't really matter. The room just glows from the television. We must have had this moment a million times over 20 years together. Times of frustrations and times of lack of communications. What does he do, instead of just stopping and not talking to me or just texting me, he does something so simple and so routine - he turns on the light and talks to me where I can read his lips! Simple and I was able to understand him.

Then my mind pondered, What makes type of partner or parent or even child can accept hearing loss? I came up with one easy answer. A person who sees deep down in your heart and sees the real you! They don't care about turning on a light or translating for you or even removing you from frustration. They learn a new language just to communicate with you. They fight for an appropriate ASL translator, so you know your important enough to have the best. They practice sounds and create time just to help understanding with sounds. They sit in on meetings IEP or others just make sure the best education is available. In short it comes up to two words - LOVE and ACCEPTING. I am thankful for all the times Alex just turns on the light!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

One Year, Tears, and a Belly Laugh!

Taken July 20, 2008, Look how yellow.

One short year ago, I was unable to carry on a conversation without the what....haaa..repeat...go write it down, with my family members. I lost interest in the important "stuff" in life. I sat and just watched TV with caption and forgot to live. Yes, I know, there is no reason why! I just felt helpless. I had been battling my insurance for a year for approval for surgery. After this long frustrating time, I came to a point, either cochlear implants surgery - one, two, or both by summer, or I will have to give up teaching! (Thank you Let Them Hear)
Fast forward a year.......Approval June 3th, Surgery July 19th, and Activation August 8th....
A year!!! wow a year! What a year! I can't believe it has been a year....Does it get any better than this.

So I went to my one year activation anniversary. Got to get the CIs tuned up. Boy, they needed it. 6 months is too long for me to go without a tune up. My dear friend, Vanessa noticed that I have been losing sound discrimination over the last few weeks. Thank goodness for a friend like her, I don't know what I would do without the patient and understanding. All people should have at least one person like Vanessa. Okay, I'll save it for another day....I'll get a picture of her too! Well I went to Vandy to get these fantastic hanging tools of dynamic sounds adjusted. I feel so much better.

BEST NEWS - I got my dream program....the one that filters out squeaky sneakers. My audie adjusted something to -3 and adjusted the high frequency down. So bring on those squeaky sneakers...I'm ready!!!!!
Tears - My dad has been moved to Emory in Atlanta. He is having every test to find the reason behind the jaundice. Mom is right by his side and staying at the hospital. So far no worst and no better. I am so blessed to have parents like them. The love they have shines though the cloud of yellow. I hope I am blessed with a caretaker as strong, compassed, and loving like my mom.
Belly Laugh - I need a good laugh. It's back to school time for us, tomorrow the big day. As an educator, I am going in circles. I can't get anything done. Nothing!!!! I want that laugh..so the other night my loving family decided to watch "I survived a Japanese Gameshow." Oh, my we laughed all evening. Those people are insane. Jenna's laugh infected the whole room. She starts we can't stop. So finally, the tears are replaced with laughter. I also remembered, Dad is in a safe place being taken care of and he won't want tears, but laughter. See Dad knows what is important in life - a good steak, grandchildren, a hug, grandchildren, his girls, and most importantly love...so Dad, I love you and in my heart I remember the real you!!! Get well.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What If??


As I am pondering life's meaning, I wondered what if!!!

What if there were newborn hearing test in 1968 like today?
Maybe the doctors would have spotted my hearing loss and been fitted with hearing aids earlier.

What if the doctor treated my strep throat and it did not develop into rheumatic fever?
Maybe my hearing loss would not have gotten worst and my body wouldn't have the effects of rheumatic fever 30+ years later.

What if I were one of the 1 out of 4 children serviced under IDEA of 1974?
What if my mom's hunt for appropriate education for me was met with understanding teachers and administrations?
Maybe I would not have sat in the last row, last seat. Maybe when my 3rd grade teacher was teaching reading, I wasn't just educating myself. Maybe when all others were learning how to pronounce ed-u-ca-tion, I was just trying to read their lips. Maybe I would have gotten the foundation instead of cracks! Maybe I would have learned ASL or Cued Speech or SEE or AVT.

What if I had good medical insurance coverage growing up?
Then maybe I would have been able to get the hearing aids I needed instead of lying to my mom. Telling her I hear okay, because as a single mom raising 3 girls other expenses came first. Maybe should won't have had to work 2 jobs and save 3 years to buy my first hearing aids.

WHAT IF????
What if technology of today was available to my parents back in 1968?
Maybe I could have bypassed all this with a cochlear implant. Maybe if my parents had the access to cochlear implants and AVT training, I would have bypassed some of the events in my life that added shame, even today. What if????
Update - My dad is back into the hospital. He went into a diabetic coma and his heart stopped. They revived him and he is in ICU. He is still jaundice and his liver is failing. But dad is strong and if anyone can overcome it is my Vietnam Veteran loves his grand babies.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Happy One Year Anniversary to My CIs!

This is a quick posting, I am down in the deep south visiting my parents. My dad(Poppi) has been in the hospital for 3 1/2 weeks. They sent him home on Friday, but he is so jaundice and his live is failing that his toes are yellow. As I watch my biggest supporter slip away, I am reminded that it has been one year since I had bilateral cochlear implants.

As I watch my dad become the shadow of himself, he reminds me to enjoy my life. He came into my life at the age of 18. No one has ever loved my mother the way he has. There love is a real love story. So thank you dad for showing that the best dads are not always the first ones. Most importantly thank you dad for accepting my deafness and me without question. Love you Poppi get well.

Now onto the cochlear implants, it has gone beyond my expectations. Thank you Dr. Ladabie, Susan, Vanderbilt, and Advanced Bionics for this overwhelming second half of my life. I really feel so complete. I get to hear my daughter talk and keep doing my wonderful career. I wish I would have done it 20 years ago. With tears in my eyes, as I think of the past year, a rebirth.

As I watch one life slip away, it is important to make each day count. Tell your family and friends you love them, show them, make those changes, it can be too late. Do let life slip past without living it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

10 blogs I missed when offline


What a crazy move! We finally find our dream house, the one you spend your life wishing for. AND it takes 10 days to get cable and Internet!!!! Our family is tech crazy. We have our cable, wireless router, itouch and use the Internet day and night. We dream in 0 and 1's. I mean what is left.....we talked. Surprising it was wonderful, we unpacked, played music too loud(no neighbors), talked and giggled. Well finally back online!!

I missed so much when being off line. Thank goodness Abbie kept me informed. There are ten sites I can't live without!

10. The first site I visit everyday is the comic For Better or Worse. I live for Elizabeth the teacher, Mike the writer, and April the teenager. I get my daily dose without having to get the newspaper.

9. I am a news junkie. I want to know the latest up to the minute news and weather. My favorite is CNN and Wkrn weather for Nashville weather. I carry an umbrella in my pocketbook in case of rain. I do try to check out the site to plan my day!
8. I went crazy without my e-mail. Oh my goodness, I can't believe how my mail I missed. Since we changed our provider I have to try and save my old e-mail as well. I can't live without my e-mail.

7. Lately blogs have been my life. I love to read the magical words of others. I find it peaceful to know others with cochlear implants and deafness have the same experiences I do. It is a kinship. Our community that accepts us because we are who we are - CI, hard of hearing, deaf, Deaf, ASL, oral, parents, child and just us. My site I use to keep inform of all my favorite blogs is DeafVillage.

6. I admit it, I love gossip. I love celebrity gossip more! Give me my Perez Hilton and TMZ! It took hours to read 10 days of gossip. I am finally up on the birth, DUI arrest, and who is dating who. I'm a junkie, I know. Did you know Madonna is getting divorce???

5. To know me is to understand from August to January(allstars in February) I am a football junkie. I watch NFL network, I know all the players on Tennessee Titan. I can quote stats. I really understand the game! I live for football!!! Tennessee is my team!! Keith Bullock is my player. Love defensive lineman!!! I also keep up on Foxsports, NBCsports, CBSsportline, and NFL online. I am one serious fan!

4. My CIs have brought me to a place I never knew was around. I am finding all kinds of places to learn and explore. I love to read(can't comment since I have explorer and have to download firefox), hearing journey. It is a wonderful place for shared experiences. This site does not pass judgement, but allows for experiences and questions.

3. There are several blogs that I just can't live without. I need my daily dose of humor, laughs, and tears. David at Living in Cone Silence and Abbie at Bionic Women. I also love my Tennessee gals, Laurie at Dance with Sound and Jennifer at Surround Sound. Us Tennessee gals stick together. Also need some Italian spicy views with Jodi at American Mom.

2. I like to visit information blogs as well. I check in on Let Them Hear Foundation. They provide such a valuable resource. Hearing Exchange is amazing for ideas and information. The more you look the more you find.

1. My number 1 favorite site that I had to do without for 10 long whole days is yahoo messenger. Oh, my what a long wait to chat with my buddies. I need to add to my buddy list.

So now that I am online.......I need hours no make it days to catch up!!!! See you later.....


Thursday, July 3, 2008

I am going crazy!

Been a long time, wow how time goes so quickly. I am going crazy! Quick break down - vacation, no Internet, no closed caption, moved to new home, no Internet until the 7th of July, no cable until the 9th of July, I do have closed caption, but no food network! So say a nice prayer that I don't have a breakdown!!!!!

Jenna said hello everyone. She placed 3rd and 1st at nationals for her dance!!

My wow CI moment! We were unloading the van and my hubby handed my two boxes of CI harmony boxes. He said that my CIs were more important than anything, even the house. He really appreciates what it has given me. I am so excited that he appreciates how special they are to me.  

Laurie, I can't wait to post our pictures. love ya. It was the highlight of my vacation finally meeting you. Jen, I also have our pictures. Love ya too. Abbie your next!

Monday, June 23, 2008

10 Wonderful Summer Activities


Each summer I pull my hair out to find something fun, cheap, and enjoyable to do with Jenna. With gas prices so high, we are trying to find activities to do close to home. Here is a great list.

10. Take a picnic to the neighborhood, get water guns and get wet!

9. Our local library has a wonderful summer program. They can go twice a week for crafts and reading fun. Then on Thursday night is PJ reading night. An hour long activity to bring the day to the end. Check your local library to see if they have a great program.

8. Our local museum has "Free Sunday." We can go Sunday and tour the museum for free. It is a great way to practice sounds and names. Jenna and I play "I Spy" and the day just flies by. Many museum will have a day of free or reduced cost, it is a great way to spend a day.

7. Great Escape movies has a free daytime movie three days a week. The movies are not current, but oh so much fun to watch. We buy a small popcorn and drink and enjoy the booming sound. Ours runs until August and the movie changes weekly.

6. My favorite activity is to window shop. Since I am the CI user, Jenna or Alex will stop me and say I hear a bell, can you tell me the location? It is a great place to work on visual communications as well as auditory communications. I use it to see if I can focus on a conversation and tune out the background noise. Who knows you might get a good deal on a pair of shoes!

5. Read! We pick up handfuls of books from the library and create a tent in the living room and read for the day. I can't spend too much time outside because of my lupus, so we just create our camping indoors. Make some hot dogs and sing songs. Jenna will dance the day away.

4. Visit a local river or steam. We cover ourselves in sunscreen and hats and make a trip of it. It builds communications and environmental noises. I'm happy unless I see a snake.

3. Join the YMCA! Our Y is income base, so if you take your tax forms, the cost is adjusted on income. Jenna goes to her hang time and rock climbing and I work out. Then we go into the pool for a nice swim. A great indoor pool which means I don't have to worry about getting sick from the sun. The Y is a great investment. I'm hoping the walking, machines and bike will pay off soon.

2. A playland - we will eat lunch at home and then go to McDonalds or ChickFila for ice cream and a few hours of playland. I invite several of her friends and we make an afternoon of it.

1. My daily and favorite activity to do year round. Hug and kiss my daughter. We just spend time each day talking and giggling. I always find time to just watch her favorite show with her and we might do nails or hair. You can't go wrong with just spending time with your children.

Sure there are great and costly things to do, but you know what children remember, the time you spend with them. My favorite memory is when we plugged in the 8 track tape and sang as we cleaned up the kitchen with mom. We laughed, danced, and giggled! My favorite dad memory is going to eat at IHOP and how he always had to eat 3/4 of my meal. Just time! Talk to your children not at them. Excuse me as I go pick up my gal from her "tiger girl" sleepover and tickle a little gal! Enjoy!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Here is my x-ray!


It is still in! Went to a general surgeon today and he is sending me to Nashville. At least I am not crazy and yes it is really in. You can see it in all four x-rays.
So to quote one of my favorite books - It is has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!!
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Valerie, You have a foreign body in your foot!




Well, the continuing drama of my left foot! I was told to call the doctor back yesterday to discuss my x-rays. I went to the Internet to my friendly neighborhood att.com/relay and called my doctor.
Val: I'm calling to check my x-rays!
Nurse: You have a foreign body in your foot!
Val: WTF, what do you mean?
Nurse: It is about 2 inches long and you need to go to the ER and have it removed.
Val: Is this like a wood? How did this happen?
Nurse: It is metal and about 2 inches, it is showing it could have been there a long time. Did you ever hurt yourself?
Val: I'm sure I have, but wouldn't I know if I had a piece of metal in my foot?
Nurse: Just go to the ER and have it removed, go today.
Val: How is my foot???
Nurse: Oh, you might have a hairline break, but ER can tell you!
Oh my goodness, I freak out and text Alex to get off work and come home. Alex can be strange. This is what I get from him.
Alex: Did you ask if it is an alien probe?
Val: What???
Alex: You know like X-Files.
Val: This is not X-Files it is my foot, and for I know you most likely put it in there.
Alex: No the aliens did!
So I heard all about aliens the whole trip to the ER.
So between the driving and visit, I am on the phone texting Abbie, Jennifer, Billie, and Vanessa. Each try to get my focus back on task. The foreign body in the foot. Of course I am upset.
One thing I did find out is when stressed, I don't hear well. My hearing is gone....not there...forgotten. So after waiting for an hour with screaming babies, Jenna telling me the aliens did not take her mom, and Alex driving me bananas; I get called back!
So alone in the room, peace and quiet- wrong. Little beeps, loud beeps, running, screaming, yelling, crying, and of course the bring the chart noise. So I focused at the task at hand, I called mom....
Val: Mom, did you put a foreign body in my foot?
Mom: No, but who knows with you. Did you see the x-rays?
Val: Alex said it is an alien probe. What do you think?
Mom: Val, you need to focus, first I told you a long time ago Alex is an alien. But wait for the doctor. Call me later.
Val: (hung up) Wait, I'm alone in the room...
Finally the doctor comes in. He explains there is metal in my foot and most likely a needle. It is not in the place I thought it was. It is on the side of the foot. He states unless it causes pain, he suggest leaving it in. WTF, I want this metal out, OUT of my foot. He thinks it could have been in there for up to 20 years and no it is not an alien probe. And oh yes, you have a hairline break in the top of your foot so a soft boot for 2 weeks. He asked if I was in pain from a scale of 1 to 10. I said a about a 3. Are you sure? I looked at him and said, I had bilateral cochlear implant surgery, I know what a ten is. So after a tetanus shot. Got up and walked out boot and all.
So as I leave the noisy ER and wonder, how am I going to get this foreign body out of my foot?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Attack of A1


What a week!!!! It has been one of those weeks that I want to take off my cochlear implants and sleep the days away!
I am recovering from the giant A1 steak sauce bottle. It jumped out of the refrigerator and landed right on the top of my left foot. Not the land on the side, no full force on the top of my foot. Needless to say I had x-rays today and loads of pain pills. I find out tomorrow if I broke anything. On the pain scale it is about a 5, CI surgery was a big ole 10. It did keep me out to the YMCA today.
Guess what, that A1 bottle did not even break.....Abbie, are you sending your omen to me! I need Good Karma...Good Karma......
I did have a great CI moment, That bottle landed with a BAM....After a bunch of &^%) and #@!& and of course the &^%$, I stopped and said wow I heard that.
So people send your good karma to me, I need it - up next moving to a new home and taking Jenna to the mountains, hope Smokey the Bear is sleeping..

Sunday, June 8, 2008

What have Cochlear Implants given me?


You would think the first thing cochlear implants have give me is hearing! Right!

Wrong, dead wrong.

It has given me something greater,

Self-Esteem and being independent

All my life I have felt a dependence to others, to hear, to alert, to protect, and of course to be there. Now I feel I can do this myself.


I have adventured to the world wide web. I created this blog and made great friends in this world. Most importantly I accepted my deafness. I don't feel that loneliness of being the only deaf person in my family. I found that kinship with others. The wordless moments of understanding. I found the clues and the hints on how to be independent. No longer are my cochlear implants about sound. They are about becoming ME. I no longer take those looks from others when I ask them to repeat. I don't allow others to limit me! I asked for a new reading program in our school and volunteered to teach it. My supervisor asked, can I do it, since it requires more phonics. I turned to him and said, I have an audiological report that says I can. If you give me this assignment, I will do my best and those students will get a caring teacher.(side note these students can't read, this program teaches them, really teaches them). I'm going to class on Tuesday for inservices.


I walk with a spring in my step. I care about things I forgot were important, music, dancing, movies, and conversation. I own technology that I never in my life thought I could use - an Itouch. I download songs all the time and enjoy it so much now.


Now if I can attack this Discord lupus and Sjogren's Syndrome that has invaded my system. But don't underestimate me, I'm a fighter.


I downloaded four songs this morning. Check these out on youtube:




and


If you click the name it should take you to the youtube video. Enjoy
Come visit deafvillage.com

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dear DeafRead Editors:

Dear DeafRead Human Editors, JJ, Elizabeth, Amy, Carrie, Jared, and Tayler,

I am in discord. I'm frustrated and disappointed with this turn of events. As a deaf person, you have violated my trust and my respect. JJ left a comment on Ben's blog. I have not heard anything from any other of the Human Editors. Here is my comment from Ben's site:

"What is interesting is most of us CI bloggers don’t agree either. We have different opinions on CI, AVT, ASL and all, but we seem to be united in our support for Rachel.
At least you have this inside view from your friendship. That is great! I don’t have that. I have to go by what is posted.
Is this a plot to remove CI blogs from DeafRead? Since DeafSide has not happen. I don’t know. All I know is that it validates how my family and I were treated 37 years ago when my mom reached out to the Deaf Community and was turned away. Same views different times."


I am asking each of you your answer to my comment. Thank you, Valerie

Civilization is a method of living and an attitude of equal respect for all people
Jane Addams, first woman Nobel Peace Prize Winner 1931

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mom was right! I'm not deaf enough!

This afternoon what a shock when I was doing my pre-dinner blogging, that Cochlear Implant Online http://cochlearimplantonline.com/blog/?p=195 has been removed from DeafRead site. I decided to read CI Online and other bloggers. I'm flabbergasted since when is volunteering with an organization a commerical site.

We can sugar coat it anyway you want, plain and simple, Rachel's views are viewed as not d/Deaf enough.

What this is, is censorship. Instead of DeafRead being a resource for all hard of hearing, deaf, and Deaf persons; it is now a place that limits ideas and information. Where else did I find out about how important unity is? Where else did I learn that you should fingerspell parsley and other spices? Where else did I learn how outspoken and interesting Jodi is? Where else can I go to find out what happens on Hell's Kitchen? Or even lessons in transplants and implants? It is more than just a site to me, it is a place to learn more about my life.

To remove Rachel's site is just wrong. Don't sugar coat it! We are intelligent enough to read between the lines.

Mom was right,
To others I will never be d/Deaf enough
Guess others aren't either!
Civilization is a method of living and an attitude of equal respect for all people
Jane Addams, first woman Nobel Peace Prize Winner 1931
So DeafRead reflect and review your decision. DeafRead should be a site that encourages all parts of d/Deaf Life.
"Suppose you have tried and failed again and again. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down."
-Mary Pickford
Good Luck Rachel, Elizabeth, and Cochlear Implant Online. Your site is bookmarked.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

This is why!

A and B Honor Roll

Dance Recital 2008, Jenna is so tired only 2 more days to go!

A smile is worth a thousand words. Wonder what the words are???
Love you Jenna - Dance your heart out and remember only 3 dances next year. 5 dances is too much for me!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Big D, Little d

When my mom was begging for guidance, she was told
she is not d/Deaf enough
When I started wearing hearing aids and looking for my place in the world as a child
I was not d/Deaf enough
As my hearing dripped to nothing, and I wanted to go to college.
I was not d/Deaf enough
As I found my place as teacher even though I struggled to find a job because I was deaf.
I still was not d/Deaf enough
As my students, parents, and staff accepted me as a teacher. To the outside world.
I was not d/Deaf enough.
As I make the choice for cochlear implants and embraced my journey into this world.
I was not d/Deaf enough.
As I support the ASL/CI and oral deaf community and families rights to make a choice for their child.
I was not d/Deaf enough.
As I put my blog on DeafRead, it is censored because I wear cochlear implants.
I am still not d/Deaf enough.
As I wake up from my peaceful sleep, I ponder why am I not d/Deaf enough for some. Then it hits me..........
Big D, little d...we all begin with d/D....
I am me, I am d/Deaf.
I am d/Deaf enough for ME.
Don't let others pass judgement on you. Accept, embrace, and make a differences for future d/Deaf children. Practice diversity and inclusion.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

IEP - It is all about crossing t's and doting i's

IEP...LEA...LRE.....Inclusion....Mainstream...Deficit.....Assessment

There are so many educational jargon that is used in development of an IEP it leaves others speechless or signless. The process involved in development and assessment for an IEP is a process and the document is developed yearly. There are several documents involve in identification of special education services. I want to discuss the Individualized Education Program. It is a 5 page annual document that list the programs, goals, present level, and accommodations for the student. Here is a site that shows Kentucky's IEP: http://web.utk.edu/~sbenner/IEP_Tutorial/parts.html Here is a site that list ideas for deaf and hard of hearing IEP's: http://www.ibwebs.com/iepindex.htm

An IEP has several parts and data used to create it. The process that special educators go through in creating its development, mostly focus on data to show progress and modifications. This site gives the break down of the parts of the IEP: http://www.schwablearning.org/articles.aspx?r=73

Each state uses programs for set up of IEPs. Even within a state, county schools might use different programs. My county uses SEAS( http://www.computerautomation.com/) and many others within the state use a program called Easy IEP. Each assist in creating IEPs and maintaining records and data progress monitoring. It depends on what the school system has approved for instruction. All school districts follow federal guildlines in identification of students disabilities and types of services that can be used. Just because a parent feels the service is valid, the school can say the service is not available and provide an alternative program or say the service is not needed. I can not list programs because each school. district, county, state, or residental school is different. As in each IEP is unique. At the school ask, what type of accommodations do you usually have based on this disability. If you don't ask, then you will not know if a service is available. Also some services or accommodations are not available at every grade level or school. Just believe your friend has this accommodations does not mean it is needed for your child.

Since I work in Tennessee, that is what I have knowledge of. Tennessee has a 35 page parent's rights that is given at meetings. Here is the link: http://www.state.tn.us/education/speced/doc/spedrights.pdf In order to find your state rights, just google (the state) department of education. Then find special education and most of the time it is on that page. I stress this at meetings for parents to read this document and highlight anything that is important. Also keep all paperwork in a folder or envelope and together. If you don't get a folder at the meeting, ask for one. I always try to put my IEPs in a folder for parents. That way if you have any question, go back the document and rights, and review it.

The IEP is a working document and not valid until it is signed by the parent. Each IEP is only good for 365 days. When parents come to the meetings, they should not be worried about changing the document. If you feel something is not to benefit your child, ask why and what else. Also if you feel the document is not workable, do not sign, schedule another meeting. Remember you are the parent and you should question the document as well as any education program set up for your child. Also ask yourself, is the accommodation realiable for the child's academic success? Is it valid for success in the classroom? Is the accommodations needed for the child to be the LRE or should the child go to a more restricted envirnment? Another suggestion, write any question out on paper, the meetings go quickly and you will forget most. Remember this is your child and his document.

(from http://www.state.tn.us/education/speced/doc/spedrights.pdf)
What is an individualized education program?
An individualized education program (IEP) is a written plan for a child with a disability that is
developed and implemented according to federal and state regulations. This plan includes:
• a description of your child’s strengths and needs (present levels of performance);
• a statement of measurable annual goals and instructional objectives related to meeting
your child’s needs;
• a statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and
services to be provided to your child, or on behalf of your child.
• a statement of how your child will be educated and participate with other children with
and without disabilities.
• a statement of how your child will be involved and progress in the extracurricular and
other non-academic activities in the general curriculum.
• the explanation of the extent, if any, to which your child will not participate with nondisabled
children in school activities;
• a statement of any individual modifications your child may need to participate in state
mandated assessments.
• if the IEP team determines that your child will not participate in a particular assessment,
the IEP must include a statement of why the assessment is not appropriate and how your
child will be assessed;
• the projected date for the beginning of the services and modifications described in the
IEP and the anticipated frequency, location and duration of those services and
modifications;
• transition statements;
• a statement of how your child’s progress will be measured and how you will be regularly
informed.
NOTE: At least one year before your child turns eighteen, the school district is required to give
you a statement that your child’s legal rights will transfer to them at age 18. Your
child will then be allowed to make educational decisions for him/herself, unless you
have a court order from a judge declaring your child incompetent to act on his/her
behalf.

In the next post I am going to break down each part of the IEP. I hope for those of you who have children with IEP you are aware of your rights. For parents who have meetings coming up, I hope this helps in the "what am I looking at?" situation. I believe every educator wants children to be successful in the classroom. We want children to have everything they need to gain knowledge, but in reality an IEP is just one tool, not the whole toolbox.


An IEP is not a magical document that "cures" anything. No window is going to open and all the knowledge your child needs, be placed out infront of them. It is a document that allows parents, teachers, and students to monitor progress and assist the student to be successful in the LRE(least restrictive enviroment). I real key to quality education is a "big secret!" I'm going to let you in on it - it takes caring teachers, determined parents, supported community, creative adminstrators, and finally the will of the child.

My Life In Six Words

I've been tagged by Abbie for a "My Life in Six Words" meme.

What is a meme? A meme is basically in two ways:1. Meme--pronounced 'mem', a memory2. Meme--rhymes with 'theme', a theme where I am tagged to answer questions about 'me' or myself...

Here's my 6 words:
Not the way I planned it!
or
Hot tea, warm hearts enjoy life.
I am going to say if you want to tag yourself, I would love to see it.
Oh, this comes from Smith Magazine: http://www.smithmag.net/sixwords/

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Auditory Therapy


It is has been awhile since I wrote about my second awaken - MUSIC.

My wonderful Valentine's gift was an Itouch. I proceeded to load it with all types of music, from 60's, rock, country, and everything in between. I take it everywhere, I mean everywhere and listen in every spare minute. I guess 20 years of losing the joy of beats, harmonies, and singing has taken a toll on me.
I have also come up with my favorite excuses - I am practicing auditory therapy. So when I am blasting my itouch down the hallway at school, before students come, jamming to "Jesus and Gravity." It is therapy. In my small portable, as three other teachers are working and "The Rose" is beaming out, it is therapy. Of course I get a few, can you change the song, but other wise it is great music. At the YMCA, dance, Walmarts, Krogers, Gas Station, and of course the car.

I pick music I have auditory memory of, it helps to understand the songs. I am finally at the point that I am downloading some new music and open to any suggestions. I use music to keep my cochlear implants active. I use steps to actively teach myself new music and sounds.

* I pull up the lyrics online and listen to the song and read the lyrics.
* I practice singing the song with the lyrics, around 10 times a night until I comfortable with the song.
* I do not listen to the song for between 2-5 days.
* Then I listen to the song without visual cues(lyrics), I try to listen and recall the lyrics. Of course I sing along, very loud.
* If I feel comfortable with the song, I add it to my play list and listen to it in rotation.

I have fallen in love with a few songs. I mean head over heel love with some songs that I can't stop listening too.
"Jesus and Gravity" by Dolly Parton
Just listen it is awesome. The words are so beautiful.

"Where is the love" by Donny Hataway and Roberta Flack
Just soulful and I can't stop listening too.

"The Search is Over" by Survivor
Makes me think of love. It reminds me of what Alex and I have been through. LOVE IT
With lyrics like the search is over, love was right before my eyes - oh yes!

"Aquarius/Let the Sunshine in" by the 5Th Dimension
Makes me want to put flowers in my hair and get happy!

My favorite::::: "The Rose" by Bette Midler
Can you get any better than that.

Now I need some more songs, I want to listen to a few more current songs. I am lost with what is great. I need suggestions. Oh by the way, I guess my auditory therapy is out of the bag, I need a new excuse.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mom and the Gals


Tomorrow is Mother's Day. I wish....I wish I was in Georgia to hug my mom. So I am sending my love though the computer. My list is endless of why mom is fantastic, so let me put it in the nutshell.
Thank you mom for..
never saying I can't
always saying try
looking at me with love
accepting me for me
letting me grow up with two fantastic sisters
allowing me to be stubborn and strong-willed
giving me self-esteem, confidence, and independent
most of all mom, thank you for being my mom.
I love you.

Thank you Dona and Heather for...
being great sisters too

Love you,
Valerie

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Evening

I woke up last night having the strangest experience.......My husband was just laying there touching my cochlear implants. Not touching my face, telling me how nice I look sleeping. Not my hair and moving it out of my face. My implants!

Went back to sleep and about an hour later, I woke up again to him touching my cochlear implants. I said that is it!!! I sat up and scared him. " Alex, why are you touching my implants."

He said, I wanted to feel how they felt and ......
think of what they have given us
conversation
music
laughter
your self-esteem
that smile again
our family
most importantly, he said he just sat there and reflected on 20 years together. How we have overcome so much.
And the future together
So, I kissed him and hugged him then I said, Alex this implant is only successful because I wanted to hear Jenna's voice and enjoy a movie with you. It is a lot of work on me - then I was corrected us. So we went back to sleep, this time he hugged me.
That evening, I asked Alex. Is this the first time you have touched my cochlear implants at night? He shook his head, I do it every night because I'm thankful for them. Wow, who knew.
(Yes, this really happen, Also I asked for him to make sure I am really really asleep.)

Friday, May 2, 2008

What hood do you belong to?



My goodness how many hoods do I belong too? Wow, too many to count. I decided to reflect using my prior knowledge on what hood and why. Remember these are not dictionary definitions, just my thoughts. If you want to look up the definitions, here is a web site - http://www.onelook.com/?w=*hood&ls=a

Teacherhood
Teacherhood is a fellowship of educators who have a degrees in education. They may teach, be administration, psychologist, or aide.

Cons
I sat in an IEP meeting yesterday. Another teacher cut off the parents' questions and insulted the other members of the team. She did not take the parents concerns seriously. I spoke up and took the meeting from this teacher and back to the parents. I don't want to be part of this type of teachhood.

Pros
Our wonderful Title 1 reading teacher, Tracy, set up a carnival for the students for successful TCAP testing(state testing). When the original plans fell through, she set up a fantastic day for the children with guitar hero, pies in face, free books, tattoos, cotton candy, and more. She recruited teachers to assist and all of us were proud to help. I want to be part of that this hood.

CI Hood
A fellowship of children, adults, and family members who use cochlear implants.

Cons
A group of people who view cochlear implants as cure for deafness. This group thinks cochlear implants are the only option for anyone who is deaf. I don't want to be part of this type of hood.

Pros
Personal choices and experiences shared in a way that are respectful and intelligent. Watching with joy as each one has CI moments. The fact I can ask anyone a questions and get a positive answer back. Hell, yes I want to be part of this hood.

Dancehood
A fellowship of crazy moms and children who love to dance.

Cons
I watched a mom push her child to be the "top" dancer and argue that her child is not in the correct level. A group of moms wanting nothing to do with average dancers because they are not acceptable to be around their children. No, I refuse to be part of this hood.

Pros
Watching Ms. Cindy of the Dance Force tell my child she can do it and showing her. How Ms. Cindy allowed Jenna to go to the small group ice cream party even though Jenna is not in a small group. She said Jenna has improved so much she deserves to be a part of it. Then watching my child beam and tell me she loves dance because she gets to learn it from Ms. Cindy. The best part was watching the other parents welcome Jenna to the party because she belonged. Yup, that's my hood

Motherhood, Fatherhood, Parenthood
A group of women and men with a common bond to raise children

Cons
A few years ago, a dad walked into my classroom and took off his belt and whipped his child in front of the class. I was so upset that I left the room and cried. In the store yesterday, I watched a parent yell at her child for not keeping up. She made the child cry and was so embarrassed. Not, my hood, no way no how

Pros
A wonderful student visited this week, I had K in 2nd grade. Her mom beamed with joy as she told how this year was going. Then she turned to her child and said, K, I am so proud of you. I really want to be part of that hood.

Medicalhood
A group of medical professionals not limited to nurses, doctors, audiologist, and insurance staff

Cons
I had to fight my insurance company a year to get them to pay for my cochlear implants. They also would not talk to me on relay service. They embarrassed me. Also, when I went to my doctor with my hair falling out, he just put me on Zoloft. The doctor refused to listen to me. He thought I was making up problems. That hood has to change. I will not be a part of it.

Pros
Let Them Hear Foundation(http://www.letthemhear.org/) fought for my cochlear implants, as I gave up hope of ever being approved. They listened and provided a service without asking for anything in return. Not only did they get the approval for my implants, but they listened! really listened. There are not words to describe my appreciation to them not just for my implants, but for listening and accepting me. My neurologist listened and found the cause of my facial numbness and migraines. He listened! Now 5 years later, I am off all medicine and migraines are gone. My cochlear implant surgeon, Dr. Ladabie listened and answered any question I had. Some questions I asked 5 to 6 times. He e-mailed answers within hours. I love this hood. Sign me up for more medical hood like this.

Deafhood
A fellowship of person who have a hearing loss, they may use hearing aids, cochlear implant or nothing. This group understands the journey and respects others. I also include parents and other family members. They are also on the journey with their child. (MY PERSONAL DEFINITION)

Cons
Segregation, isolation, and judgement of person who use hearing aids, cochlear implants, limited ASL or other visual language(Cued, SEE, or others). Judgement of if the person is deaf enough. Use of "we" to show isolation and ridicule.

Pros
The most amazing group of people I have ever met. People who see Valerie first and accept me and my choices. They assist, they teach, they laugh, they suggest, they think, and most of all listen. My hood is joined by a common characteristic - deafness. It does not define me, it expands me.

There are so many hood we are members of - sisterhood, brotherhood, footballhood, bookhood and a ton more. As with all experiences in life, we must take the pros and the cons. I might not identify with a sample of that hood, but I can't give up on it because of a few who believe they control the definition and membership. Our life should be filled with harmony, love, friendship, and hoods, through good times and bad times. I love my hoods, I accept them pros and cons. I don't leave them when the times are rough. United we stand, divided we fall - let's not fall!


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mrs. D, are you deaf?

On Monday afternoon a bubbly, third grader came bouncing up to me during hall duty.

"Jenna said, you are deaf, are you?" bubbly third grader said.
"Yes, I am." I stated back

WAIT

When did I become deaf? A year ago, I would have corrected the student by said no, I'm hard of hearing. I just use hearing aids, but I am just like you.

I am not sure when I started to develop my deaf identity, was it before surgery, after, or during 3 weeks of total silence. All I know is that I made that transition not kicking and screaming, but peacefully and happily. I cherish finding my identity. 

Now how do I move from deaf to Deaf?

***My whole hearing history has been challenged, I might have been born with a degree of hearing loss and not at age 3 from Rheumetic fever. As I try to explore the cause of my hearing loss, I will keep you informed.  It turns out my mom is a carrier of Ashkenazi Jews gene. My aunt has the dominate genes. So we are trying to find out it that has caused my hearing loss.  

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Technology - How did we survive before them?


On our recent trip to Nashville for Jenna's dance competition, a voice boomed out in the quiet car. Turn right now! Travel 4.5 miles on I24 to exit 24. What sound, what memory, what accurate directions.....What in the world did I do without a GPS!

I wondered how I made it 2, 5 or 10 years ago with some of the current technology that I have surrounded my life with. When did a GPS replace map quest or the pull out map? How did I cook dinner without a microwave? That electric toothbrush really cleans. The joy of itouch with music and Internet at the touch of a finger. Even my laptop with WiFi, so I can sit in the living room watching digital television while doing lesson plans. Don't even get me started on e-mail!
Some technology I choose to keep out of the house, not much some. I can't even think of what but there has to be something with technology that I don't use.
I struggle with the question, did I allow myself to be enslaved with technology advances or did I allow technology to decutter and simplify my life. I choose to think that some technology allow life to be enriched. I cherish the Internet and my blogging community. Without it I would be full of cochlear implant questions and no one to answer them. My GPS takes the frustration out of driving and I feel safer driving distances. The microwave allows the family to eat together quickly since we have very busy lives. My itouch allows me to enjoy music after 20 years of musical silences. And yes, finally my cochlear implants give the rich sounds, voices and peace fullness that hearing aids could not give me.
So as I sit on my computer, listening to music, enjoying my implants and texting my friend, I hope the next 5 years give technology as great as today. I really need an automatic laundry folder.



Friday, April 18, 2008

What I learned this past week?

Done.....finally done.....oh that is TCAP testing

Here is a little question for you. The answer will be at the end of the blog. Remember you can not take too long to answer and do not use a calculator. You can use scrap paper.

Math Question TCAP test has four parts, Reading, Math, Science and Social Studies. Each part has two sub test. The mean time for the test is 54 minutes. My class has extended time, which means 1.5 of the test time. We take each 2 sub test a day. There are two groups of students taking this test, a morning and afternoon group. Each group has the same accommodations. What is the told time, I spend reading the test aloud per day? How long the whole week?

Science Question
What moon phase do you not test any children during?
A. Waxing Crescent
B. Full Moon
C. First Quarter
D. Any Moon

Social Studies Question
Who Am I?
I created a law that holds schools accountable for academic progress of students.
I think state testing is the only way to measure if the schools are doing their job.
If schools do not "pass" testing, I will take money away from them and I will not support them.
I am the reason thousands of teachers have been pulling out their hair.
Who am I?

Reading Question
Read the top 10 list and find all the mistakes in grammar and punctuation.

This is what I have learned this week:
10. Chocolate is the best to jump start the brain.
9. McDonald's has the best sweet tea. Just wish they added an extra shot of caffeine.
8. When you are ready to start the test, someone will have to go to the restroom.
7. All pencils will break, always have backups.
5. Students really want to do their best, it is very stressful for them. Keep humor and hugs available.
4. M&M's are good, the green taste the best. Boys hate the pink ones, but will eat them too!
3. I paid 8 dollars to help the Boy Scouts go to camp. I was able to dress in jeans all week. Thank goodness for comfort.
2. Whatever you do, do not drink anything near a test.
1. Number one thing I learned from testing........It will never tell me what my students truly know. It will never tell me what I know and how I teach.
1/2 it's done......

Jenna and I are off to Georgia for dance competition and visit with my mom and dad. I am going to enjoy it.

Answers:
1. too long
2. Any moon
3. Like you don't know
4. too many to count....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why I love CI Children's Blogs?

The reason why I love to read CI children's blogs are it gives me a glimmer into what my mom had to go through with me. Thirty-six years ago mom did not have the support system or Internet that is in place today. I went through school without an IEP, FM system, CART, Interpreter, or note taker. I had only one year of speech therapy. But I had Mom and Dad!

I admire the hard choices parents make for their children. I wish it was available 36 years ago.

I was asked about educational practices. My teaching does not pull from one philosophy or teaching. I take some from each. One practice I use daily in my classroom is Dale's Cone of Experience(went to school in the 90's, during Whole Language movement). In theory or in a nutshell, the more the student involve in the teaching and learning process, the more they remember and understand.

I use others like Rigor and Relevance, Best Practices, and others. Teaching has changed so much in the 14+ years I have been teaching. Everything I do is based on research and data. Progress monitoring and common assessments are the norm. I loved teaching when it was just teaching. Now I understand teaching. Teaching is not just for giving out the skills, it enables the student to build on prior knowledge and develop into a lifetime of knowledge. That in a nutshell is my classroom. Hey it's 4:40 A.M. and state testing week, I'm whipped!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Can any of them talk too?



I thought I heard it all. This one comment just kicked it! WTF!


Can any of them talk too?


It was posted as a comment following a fantastic video on ASL-Cochlear Implant Community: http://aslci.blogspot.com/2008/04/faces-of-asl-ci-users.html


I was raised an oral deaf student. I was very successful. I have been a successful adult. I wear CIs and love them, BUT it is wrong to pass judgement on others because they do not follow the "only way". I have not seen the world through rose colored glasses. I mean, I teach.


As an educator, when you met a child for the first time, you welcome them. In welcoming a child you accept their strengths and weaknesses. Not all children aquire knowledge the same way. This above comment discriminates against children who use ASL. That is wrong.
The first step in education is knowing that not all children needs are the same. Some children will use their voice and others their hands. Many use both. Educators don't pick the weakest skills, they use the child's strongest skill and build on it. All CI children should have the option to use ASL, speech, or both. Nothing should be held back. Accept all or accept none!, not just the ones who fit the perfect package.




Sunday, April 13, 2008

I have been tagged! :)

I'm very excited that David at Life in Cone Silence has tagged me. Here are the rules:

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.3. At the end of the post, the player tags 5 people and posts their name, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

I have to answer questions and people I tag have to answer the same questions, so here I go.

What was I doing 10 years ago:
Ten years ago I was just around 2 months pregnant with Jenna. I was teaching 3rd grade at the same school I have been for the past 14 years. Since I had terrible morning sickness, I did not cook for 9+months. I lost 20 pounds in the first 3 months and Alex gained around 30.

Five Snacks I enjoy:
In a perfect, non weight-gaining world
1. Nachos with extra guacamole
2. Dr. Pepper - it is a snack by itself
3. Banana Pudding - the real kind with whipped cream from Golden Rule
4. Raspberry Scone with a large Chai Latte with extra Whipped Cream from Starbucks
5. Pecan Pie, not the frozen kind. I burn all mine.

In the real world:
1. Rice Cakes with water
2. Hot tea with equal and coffee mate
3. Sugar Free Jello with fat free whipped cream
4. Diet Dr. Pepper with the label covered
5. Watching Food Network and dreaming

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Buy our dream home.
2. Keep teaching just for the fun of it.
3. Set up scholarship funds for all the students in my school. Give them the dream of get a degree and hopes for the future.
4. Setting up funding to cover hearing aid cost. Most insurances do not cover the cost of hearing aids.
5. Get Alex the phone he wants. Since he has to wait until I am a billionaire, not getting it any earlier.

Five jobs that I have had:
1. Office Manager at a Print Shop - I worked with Jamie Bishop. He was killed at Virginia Tech.
2. Salesperson at Family Dollar - Mom got the job for me. The customers were stealing garage bags full of stuff daily.
3. Sub teacher - Great job, never had to stay in one classroom for more than a day.
4. Teacher -same school same Principal, moved into 5 different rooms.
That is all the jobs I have had, what can I say I don't like change.

Three of my habits:
1. Making the bed even before Alex gets up. I just roll him off.
2. Keeping desk clean, I hate fluff and mess. My drawers are messy, but the top clean.
3. Double checking to make sure I have my extra batteries.

Five place I have lived:
1. New Jersey - born in Neptune
2. Kingston, New York
3. Jackson, Georgia - home of the state jail.
4. Pine Mountain, Georgia and also the Valley
5. Ft. Campbell, Kentucky

Add one new part, What do you want others to get from your blog:
I hope others see my humor, dedication to my family and friends, and love of teaching. It is not about CI this and CI that, it is about a way to connect with others and hopeful learn something.

Five People I Want to Get to Know Better: (a nice way of saying TAG!) But don't feel obligated! Just do it if you want to.
1. http://contradica.blogspot.com/ - my buddy Abbie
2. http://soundcheckmama.blogspot.com/ - rock n roll mama Tiff
3. http://cyborgqueen.blogspot.com/ - my cyborg queen
4. http://atrude777.blogspot.com/ - awesome Alex
5. http://deafkidscanhear.blogspot.com/ - the first original Val

I love all your blogs and visit them often. I can't wait to read your answers.

Love ya,
Val

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What a long 2 weeks!!!

This has been one of the busy weeks since state testing(TCAP) starts on Monday. Here are some highlights of my two weeks.
*Broke up two fights, two girls and two boys. Girls are the worst since their arms and hands are everywhere. Boys are strong and hard to separate. I worry about damaging my processors. So I had to be careful.
* Jenna's dance competition in Nashville last weekend. Both dances won Gold. They also won the spirit award.
* I was up until midnight last Friday making my "spirit shirt." It said C.I. love the Dance Force. Only I understood what it meant.
*5 IEP meetings in two weeks and 2 left to do. No chance that 6 IEP meetings. It takes a good hour and half to complete the paperwork on each. I still have two to write or is that right.
*My students have forgotten everything since August 8, 2007. Worst I have forgotten too. If I hear the words mean, median, and mode or figurative language, I will scream!
*Run through - Principal lost her e-mail, Alex wants a new cell phone, Jenna wants a cell phone, can't see utube video for princiapl on school computer, can't copy it, and finally the dog is crazy!
* I heard the words I hate! You speak so good, I can't believe your deaf. My comment back was if I spoke so good, then you would never know I was deaf! I'm tired of that ignorance. Teachers should know better.
*A group of students said on Friday after the fight in the classroom, Mrs. D., I'm glad you broke up the fight and your okay. I don't want you to get hurt. So I guess there really are good kids, been so busy I forgot.

I am working on my blog on IEPs, it seems long and I want to see if I can make it shorter and more interesting.

I'm off to get my hair cut and out for BBQ with the gals. And NO Jenna and Alex have not gotten a new cell phone, I'm not listening to them.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

But Mom, I'm deaf!!!!

This weekend I was reminded of something I use to say to my mom when I was growing up. But mom, I'm deaf! I can't do it, I don't know how. But mom, I can't hear!

This pass weekend I had the joy of watching my daughter dance at dance competition in Nashville. There is nothing better than watching your child do something with so much effort and determination. Then over to the side during awards, I heard two parents talking. Each were making reasons why their child did not "win" within their category. One reason was the dance teacher had not "helped" her child and the other was her child being tired. WHY.....I had to bit my tongue. Stop doing that! Accept the outcome without blaming others.!

My mom's comment back to me was, Val stop it! Do what you can, study what you can, learn what you can, ask questions, ask for help, and finally just do it. Who said it would be easy. The important things in life are not easy, but worth it. If you don't believe in yourself, who will! And most importantly, who should if you don't.

So finally after awards on Saturday, They won two gold awards. I looked at my child with those big brown eyes and said Jenna, I'm proud of you! She said back to me, mom this was the best day. I got to dance!

Stop blaming others, start accepting responsibility and finally if you fall along the way, ask for help to get back up.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Kindergarten ASL...my way...


Finally back to good Tennessee after a week vacation to moms. Glad to be back.

Before I left, my wonderful niece Paisley(named after Brad Paisley), called me and asked if I would teach her class sign language. How do you say no, I don't know enough.....I said yes, of course.

So I went to Pay's kindergarten class armored with my ASL book and an ABC book to teach with. I explained why people use ASL and why I am learning. I showed them my speech processor and cochlear implant. Then I read the ABC book and taught the ABC's. We sang happy birthday in sign language. Then we learned feelings, parents, and food names. The kids were so excited. I mean they ate up each sign and could not wait for more. I wished I was more fluent. I guess by the time Pay is in Middle School, I should have it down pack.




The highest complaint was when the children went to lunch and they were trying to sign to each other. I heard one girl say, signing takes the place of your voice. Let's practice. Another one said, I can't wait to get a book at the library. I want to learn more. I was so happy just to see the smile on my niece and my daughter's face.


Jenna and I had a wonderful trip. I can't wait to go back next month. I had a CI moment at mom's. I was in another room and mom made tea. She called Valerie come get tea. Oh course, I heard her the first time, but I was interested reading my blogs(Micheal's blog). She called again and said, Valerie you can't pretend you don't hear me anymore, I know you heard me. I laughed that mom knew I heard her. So I went to drink my tea and laugh.


So now we are home and trying to get going this week. I plan to post a blog on IEPs. I want to address the foundations of it. I also plan to post a blog on rigor and relevance and data in relationship to education philosophies.