Tuesday, October 25, 2011

And it Burns, Burns, Burns, the Ring of Fire...

Last Saturday I attended a cochlear implant seminar to be a resource and answer questions for people who were considering getting an implant. As a parent of a child with cochlear implants, I enjoy helping others out in sorting through this difficult decision. I can only speak from Bella's experience, but I am happy to share how life changing the implant has been for her, and for us. Here is the group helping out at the seminar.

I was reminded by another advocate at the seminar about I story I had shared many years ago. She said it always made her laugh, so I thought I would share it here.

Before Bella got her implants, we did a lot of research about them. How they worked, the chances of them being successful for her, and also the risks. During this research, I came across a site that had simulations of what cochlear implants sounded like to a recipient. I remember listening and thinking that although it sounded very electronic and sort of like listening under water, I was happy that Bella would be able to hear speech.

Then I clicked on the most alarming cochlear implant simulation. It was supposed to be how a cochlear implant recipient hears music. They used the Johnny Cash song, "Ring of Fire." Here is the simulation http://www.hei.org/research/shannon/aip/ringdemo.mp3
After listening to the simulation I was horrified. I was convinced that Bella would never enjoy music. I thought the song sounded like the devil singing. It made me sad for Bella.

As Bella got her implants and developed a love of music, I began to question about how accurately the simulation portrayed music. I wrote it off as scary and not at all how music sounded to cochlear implant recipients.

Then one day, Bella and I were in a hair salon. Bella was about 5 or 6 years old. I was busy reading a magazine when Bella came up to me looking a bit unnerved. I asked her what was wrong and she said she didn't like the song that was playing. I had to listen for a minute and then I noticed...the song was "Ring of Fire." So I decided that all music doesn't sound bad with a cochlear implant, just Johnny Cash...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Way...

I am not sure if this happens to other parents of special needs kids or not. Perhaps some. For me when standardized test results come in the mail, I get the same feeling as when I am at the top of a roller coaster hill about to head straight down at great speed. Yesterday, I went for a ride...

Last week I came across this quote by the great Albert Einstein.

I must say that it made me pause and question how I view Bella's accomplishments and success. There are so many things that she is great at. She is super crafty, outgoing, and always willing to try new things. Her ability, to make easily make new friends, is a gift that a lot of people envy. So many kids are judged harshly on areas that are never going to be strengths.

While I understand that standardized testing is necessary in schools, I think it is important to realize it is only a small piece of who a child is. Whether the scores are high or low, it should not define the child or their view of themselves.

Nor should it define the parent...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Upside Down...

Life has felt a little strange lately. Just enough to throw off my center of balance. To start, it has been 80 degrees or above for the past week, here in MN. I'm not complaining, in fact it could stay like this forever and I'd be happy. It's just that it is a bit unnerving. When I put out the fall mums and the Halloween decorations last weekend, I was SWEATING. That doesn't usually happen in October.

Now mix in the miserable state of sports in the state of Minnesota. The Twins were terrible this year, the Gophers are in a fog of despair, and the Vikings...Well I think someone forgot to tell them that the pre-season is over. But here's where it gets really strange. This week the big talk of the town was the WNBA team for Minnesota, the Lynx. They won their first championship. The local sports stations couldn't get enough of the story. Casual sports fans and die hard fans alike were tweeting and posting on their facebook statuses, support for the Lynx. I really doubt most of these people knew the name of this team last week, or even that they existed!

Harry's football team has also been suffering. Yesterday they went into their game with a record of 0-5. It's pretty sad to watch a bunch of 7th graders have to face defeat, week after week. Luckily, yesterday they all came together as a team and beat Edina. Parents couldn't have been prouder! We clapped when they were on the field, we clapped as they came off the field.

In order to restore some balance to our lives, we visited Bennihana for dinner last night. It is always a favorite of mine and when things are askew in my life, I seek comfort in returning to basics. It was a fun evening, but not perfect, because some of our family was missing. After the big football game, Harry decided not to come and hang out at home instead.  Some of you may remember that last year we went to Bennihana near the beginning of the school year last week to celebrate transition and change. http://rowefamilyadventures.blogspot.com/2010/09/were-going-to-rock-around-clock-tonight.html. Turmoil and chaos emerged after that last visit, so I can only hope that this year, with all the current issues we are facing, the opposite effect will occur. Balance and peace will return to the Rowe household.

It appears the weather will turn a bit colder here this week and the WNBA talk is dying down. Fingers crossed that normalcy will make a comeback this week...

Monday, October 3, 2011

And We Were Trying Different Things...

Pushing outside of one's comfort zone can be tough. Trying new things or visiting new places can produce feelings of insecurity and fear. Yet, as we discovered this past weekend, the feeling of accomplishment after you try new things, is worth the risk, most of the time...

First "new things" of the weekend came in Harry's football game. We traveled to Shakopee for a first time  match up between the Purple Chaska Hawks and the Shakopee team. The game had many ups and downs, with more ups for the Shakopee team. The highlight for us? Well, I hate to brag, but Harry was a standout in the game. With 5 sacks and 1 rushing touchdown, Erick and I were very proud!

Next up, Bella. On Saturday afternoon, following closely behind Harry's game, came Bella's first official swim meet. It was a C/Pre-C meet. Bella's events were the 50 Freestyle and the 50 backstroke. The first piece of great news was that she didn't DQ. A lot of swimmers DQ at first, but luckily Bella didn't. She's never been timed on the 50 back so her time was fresh at 1:31.59. On the 50 free she's had unofficial times when attending the practice meets in the past. In May of 2011 she raced the 50 free at the practice meet and her time was 1:58.35. On Saturday her time was 1:30.58. She shaved 28 seconds off of her time!!! Here we are together at the meet.

You might notice I am in an interesting orange/yellow vest. No, it's not a new fashion statement. I also tried something new at the meet. I volunteered to do security at the pool door. For those of you who are unaware, parents are not allowed on the pool deck. I worked with some other women to keep the "helicopter parents" from getting to their children. Parents are supposed to sit up in the bleachers and watch. Yet some couldn't stop themselves from coming down and checking on their kids. It was interesting to say the least.

After the swim meet, Erick and I went out for our own first. We always like to try new places to eat and one place we had always been curious about was the Mystic Lake Casino Buffet. I have had more than one person say how good it was. Well, we went and...it was pretty ordinary. I didn't think the selection was that great. Maybe I've just been to some really great buffets in my life, who knows?

Then on Sunday it was off to another first for the family. We always go to an apple orchard in the fall as a family, but this year we tried a new place, Fall Harvest Orchard. Unfortunately, Erick was traveling and Becca had a lot of homework so we weren't all together as a family. Fall Harvest Orchard  was AMAZING. I will say that finding it was a bit of a challenge. My trusty GPS did not know this fabulous place existed, but luckily I printed out directions from the website as well. The orchard was so interactive, compared to most. It was a working farm in addition to the orchard so there was lots to do and see. And the people who owned it were so great! You could tell they were really interested in providing a fun time for families. They let kids get eggs from the chickens, they handed out FREE food to feed the goats. They explained about different crops they were raising, including soybeans, and flax. They handed out examples of the plants to show people what they looked like and so people could eat them. Before the hayride was over, everyone got to get out and pick some popcorn and also a small gourd to bring home. We have to let the popcorn cobs dry out until Thanksgiving. Before the day was done, there was fun had by feeding apples to cows, eating fresh popcorn from the harvest last year, and rolling in a corn pit. Below are the pictures.

Next weekend, another "first" for us. We are going to go look at colorful fall leaves from a chairlift. Stay tuned!