Happy Thanksgiving

Holidays can be hard for some people, especially if we find ourselves alone. As my kids enjoy Thanksgiving at their grandma’s in Nebraska, I had to find something to do for three days. One day was dedicated to cleaning out the house, one day for baking (with a friend this year, a whole different post later!) and one early morning of Christmas shopping. I am left with Thursday, Thanksgiving, and I did something a little unusual this year.

I decided to volunteer somewhere to serve lunch. The Rescue Mission took their clients to Applebee’s, so I found somewhere else to be helpful. I helped set up tables, get the food ready to be served, and cleaned up afterwards. I didn’t plan on eating the meal, but it sure was a great example of Thanksgiving dinner. Yams, mashed potatoes, turkey, pie, pie, pie, everything!

I sat with some of these clients during lunch, where all these women were recovering and trying to get back on their feet in some way. As an introvert, I was hesitant to open up, but I figured I would never see anyone there again, so I went for it.

I laughed, I joked, I listened, and it was really neat. They were all very appreciative with my help, but I enjoyed it as much as it was volunteer work. These women lived in a different world than I do, but they’re not all that different. Heck, just last weekend I was with an entirely different “class” of women and the conversation paralleled today’s.

I just decided that I need to open up more often, and I will have more good experiences like I did today. And to appreciate the people around me more. While I cannot wait until my family’s Thanksgiving celebration in a few days, I’m confident that I was right where I needed to be today.


The Song Stuck in My Head

Whenever I open my laptop to begin working, I always open a few tabs on my browser. One of them has to be a music station. Some say that multitasking is just spreading out your attention and talents among more than one task, but music has been known to help fire up the brain for better functioning. In “Listen While You Work: What Music Does to Your Brain“, there’s all sorts of reasons why music is so popular. In my classroom, if students are working independently, I allow headphones or soft music as long as it isn’t distracting.

In Salina, KS, Kenwood Park hosts free outdoor concerts every Thursday evening during June and July and it’s such a neat atmosphere. Bring a chair, bring something to drink, bring some friends. It’s almost as good as going to a paid concert. For Mother’s Day, my sister and I took my mom to a Three Dog Night concert this July, her favorite band from high school. It was a blast, and I know she had a great time.

From the glow of the marquee

After the concert, we stood in the glow of the marquee. My mom even bought a $20 t-shirt!

The differing generations at both of these events really proves that music is universal in that it touches everyone. I’ve never heard anyone say they don’t like music. I visited my 89-year-old neighbor last week, and the conversation turned my son’s recent surgery for a Baha that will aid him with single-sided deafness. I mentioned how much he misses out on, including music. She stated something that I’ve said repeatedly, “Music is so important!” Sure, her choice of what music is compared to my choice would be obviously different, but that’s when it really struck me: no matter what age, what preference, people love music. It brings us together, it helps us get through tasks, and it makes life more fun. As the above article says, “music was meant to keep you alive.”


Today I’m going to town to get Joseph a new phone to replace the one I washed with his jeans, take Cole to the doctor to help hurry up his poison ivy into the healing stage (poor kid has it everywhere: his face, his neck, his hands, his…you know), and buy a few things for the upcoming county fair. But I’m not sure which phone to get Joseph (No upgrade! I have unlimited internet with my plan that they don’t offer anymore!) I don’t have an appointment for the doctor, and I’m not sure what we all need for the fair.

I’ll get it done today, though. No worries.

Having a  laid-back personality, I wholeheartedly believe in going with how I feel. I plan, sure, but keep the plan loose enough to deal with any unforeseen situations. I know others have different ways of dealing with life, but I don’t want to have ulcers, thank you very much. And I will secretly despise someone when they freak out because they aren’t in control when something takes a left turn (or even just a curve!).

When planning Joseph’s surgery this June, I worked pretty hard to get everything in order, but I also knew that some things were out of my control or could never be predicted. And last-minute changes were okay.

Sometimes I have to get motivated and really nail down some plans, but that’s usually when things go awry and it was all for naught. As John Steinbeck said:

And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.

I do believe that it’ll all work out, sometimes it’s good and sometimes it leaves us with an opportunity for something else. However, I am working on being a tad bit more pro-active and plan my day, my week, my month, my life with a little more direction. Just without the ulcer.

Joseph’s Journey

Joseph wasn’t born deaf, but somewhere between the ages of 3-6 he developed single-sided deafness (SSD) on his left side.

Joseph’s auditory nerves for both ears were abnormal since birth and somehow his left nerve was damaged and quit functioning.  Perhaps it was his numerous trips to the hospital due to pulmonary illnesses during that age. Or it was the time he bumped his head and had to get stitches. Even though we will never know why he has SSD, because of a recent surgery, Joseph’s right nerve will soon receive all the sounds around him through the Baha, or a bone-anchored hearing aid.

Joseph has been through a lot. He deserves this and we were finally able to help him.

Joseph, a 12 year-old going into the 7th grade, had an osseo-integrated device implanted into his skull on his birthday this June. The Baha will be fitted onto the titanium post after it ossifies and is solid enough to safely support the 2×2 inch device. This may be 4-6 weeks after surgery, depending on how well it heals. The hearing aid will receive the sound from the left side and, through the titanium post, his skull will transmit the sound waves to his inner ear on the right side. Technology also allows him to have directional awareness so he will be able to determine where the sound is coming from. We are thankful for Dr. Kryzer of Wichita Ear Clinic for his skill during surgery, for his enthusiasm to help those who are hard of hearing, and for giving Joseph another chance.

Dr. Kryzer performed the surgery at Via Christi at St. Francis. Joseph’s dad and I were with him throughout. We stayed at the Ronald McDonald house the night before since he was admitted at 6:30 a.m., which was a neat experience in of itself. We only stayed one night because, despite the fact that the procedure included drilling into his skull, it was outpatient surgery.

“I was very excited. But nervous that they might screw up,” Joseph said.  Joseph was only nauseous for a little while in the afternoon so he was discharged at 6:30 in the evening. He was greeted by his younger sister and brother, Elizabeth (10) and Cole (7) who were with their aunt Amy. (We sometimes call her Crazy Aunt Amy, a title that she should be proud of!)

Via Christi

These people were amazing.

He is now recovering nicely. “I can’t go swimming yet,” he said. “That’s no fun.” Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Cole feel bad that he has to take it easy for a while, mostly because they can’t rough-house yet. But they are excited for him, too.

Even though Joseph’s dad and I are not together anymore, we worked together to provide this opportunity for him. We were proud of how brave he was before, during, and after the surgery. Everything went so well, we kept looking for what was going to screw up so we could prevent it, but nothing has so far.

Throughout the whole process of doctor appointments, setting the date of the surgery, saving money and gathering funds to try to meet the co-insurance cost of $3500, we have received support from both of our families and people in the Bennington area where I live and the Lincoln area where I work. This came in the form of donations, words of encouragement, prayers, suggestions and ideas.

In fact, I couldn’t keep up that day with all the text messages and communication on Facebook and Twitter. Of course, I kept posting pictures and updates on how he was doing to share with everyone. I was pretty excited for him. I still am. Joseph is not finished with this journey. His healing is ongoing until he’s ready for the Baha.

It will change his life. People don’t realize how much he misses every day from SSD. Even I forget to speak to him on his right side at times, and I’ve been around it for seven years. Most people ask me how he is doing since this is about all I’ve talked about for a month now. I’m very thankful for everyone who has supported him.

He was able to try out a tester Baha on a headband in March 2014. This preview of how it could be for Joseph motivated us to try surgery, something that all parents are weary of for their children. His reaction solidified our decision, though, as I smile through tears to see his face light up when he tried it out, something that will only be better as the real thing. “It was amazing. My dad said my name and I turned to my left,” Joseph said. “I can’t wait to get it for real.”


For the Runners:

Color Me Independent Registration Form PDF document

The exercise, the outdoors, the satisfaction. What’s better than running?  Having things thrown at you while you’re at it!

My nephew and his class at BJHS are raising money to visit Washington, D.C.  Instead of selling something again, they are organizing a color run.  (And by they, I mean their active mothers and fathers…you know, along with the kids.)  This shameless little plug not only benefits my nephew, who so happens to be my godson, but also gets me off the couch in the next few weeks.  I plan on participating, if only to prove to myself that I can make it the full 5K without stopping this time.  Two birds, one stone?

For more information, go to their Facebook page.

Happy running.