Friday, June 29, 2012

tracey gets personal

Some stuff has happened this last week or so and it's really weighing on my mind. I generally steer clear of posting anything too personal but I really need to talk about it. The thing is it's not about me. I have no problem (at all) talking about my own stuff. There is no such thing as too personal for me. It's when it's about my family or friends that I clam up. I feel like it's not really my right to air everything out for the public's reading pleasure. On the other hand, what affects my family, affects me. So, here goes...

Last week I noticed on our school district's website that a 7th grade math teacher at one of the other middle schools (not ours) had been arrested for child pornography. I immediately told my husband... then posted about it on Facebook. I was a little freaked but not overly concerned for my kids' sake because he's never worked at our school. "My kids are okay." I thought. Then came the letter. Not only did he teach math at W- Middle School, he also helped out with the district's 5th grade outdoor education camp. The camp that both of my my boys have been to in the last few years. I quickly scanned the rest of the letter. Then promptly threw up. "The FBI has found pictures and video of male students changing and showering at the camp.... They are working to identify the students.... Please talk to your children about their experience at camp." Then it listed the schools that this teacher had volunteered for. And right there in the middle was P- Elementary, our school.

Of course, we've talked to the boys about good touching and bad touching, about "private parts". About telling us if anyone ever does anything inappropriate to them. But how do you talk to them about this? School is supposed to be safe. Teachers are supposed to be someone you can trust. And, even more difficult, how do you restore their faith when they realize someone took advantage and they never even knew? Would you want to know?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

i'll miss you most of all, french fries

I had my yearly (actually 6 months) check up with the GP yesterday. All of my blood test results were smack dab in the middle. Except my cholesterol levels. My "bad" cholesterol is a little high so the doctor said to stop eating so much good food... I mean, saturated fats and fried yumminess. Plus exercise daily (uh...what?!) and lose weight. Boohoohoo.

Actually, after seeing the scale when I weighed in, I had already come to that conclusion myself. I've started the yoga and my belly dance class starts tomorrow night, plus the pool passes mean lots of swimming this summer. So, the exercise thing might not be too bad.  It's the fried food thing that's going to be hard. I love, love, LOVE greasy, salty, crispy, crunchy foods. That's my "chocolate". (I don't really like plain chocolate. I don't dislike it, I just don't love it.) My second love? Cheese. Pretty sure that's out the window now, too. So, between the diet and the daily exercise and the weather (directly) from hell,  you guys are going to be hearing A LOT of bitching and complaining this summer. You'll still love me, right?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

circus of the sun

Today was one of the good ones. No, one of the GREAT ones.
<----- This is what we did. My sister (and best friend since before we were even born) and I had front row floor seats to the show. Being that close just makes it seem so much... more. Real and raw and awe-inspring. Like you're right in the middle of things. Being deaf brings a unique (and sometimes upsetting) perspective to things. You feel like you're missing out, because you are. Sound is used so often to convey emotions, especially in theatrical productions like this one. Occasionally I'll find an experience that's actually become deeper or more meaningful without sound. (My first large scale fireworks display after becoming deaf was one of the most surreal things I've ever experienced.) Today, I found something else. This show was just... I can't even think of the words. It left me laughing and sad and holding my breath and even a little freaked out at times. I gasped and cringed and sighed with relief and I feel like I didn't miss a single damn thing. I wish I could go and see it again. Right now. The performers... artists, really, are just amazing. Who knew jumping rope could be so exciting? I can't even begin to recapture everything we saw. My favorite has to be the... everything ( Maybe the Cloud Swing. Or the Banquine. The Statue though has to be one of the most excruciatingly beautiful things I've ever seen.
Quidam is the story of a girl whose parents ignore her. So, she finds her own world. The different acts combine beauty, strength and amazing acrobatic feats that will leave you saying "How can they do that?!" (Seriously, how does someone train to perform in this circus?) Throughout the story though, they really make you feel exactly what this young girl feels; in her imaginary world, and the real one.
My hands are still sore from clapping so hard. And the only thing that kept me from leaping from my seat throughout the show was the fact that I probably would have fallen on my ass. This is the second time my sister and I have been to Cirque de Soleil together. The first time was 10 years ago. No way am I waiting that long to go back again.

Thank you, Sister, for sharing this amazing day with me. (And for picking the more expensive, closer parking lot.)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

this keeps me going...

My deaf friends and I are always sharing "Can you believe this guy?" stories. My own go-to story is about something that happened to me when I was in the hospital following the surgery that took the last of my hearing. We planned ahead by buying a small white board and stocking up on dry erase markers. One day a young resident came in early, before any of my family was there, to give me a check over. I very cheerfully said "I'm deaf now so you're going to have to use that dry erase board (pointing to where it was) so I can understand you." He walked over, picked it up, walked back and... handed it to me. Ummmm, yeah. No. He was suitably embarassed when I gave it back to him. (And it was very early in the morning.) But most of our stories aren't quite so ha-ha, more along the lines of WTF?! And it can get very discouraging. Lately, instead of focusing on the bad, I'm trying to see on the good. So here are a couple "Can you believe... how great they are?!" stories. ;)

Back in April, when I bought my car, my husband ordered personalized license plates for me.  We decided on holding off to pay for permanent tags in case the plates came in before the temps expired. The Friday before Memorial Day, at roughly 4:35 pm, I realized that the temps were dated to expire on that Sunday. I raced around gathering everything I thought I'd need and headed up to the license office closest to me; walked in at 4:55. No line, thankfully, so I headed straight up to the counter. The woman who was helping me was SO friendly. She was great about writing everything down for me (since I have trouble lip reading strangers). Then came the problem. She needed access to the personal property taxes I've paid in the past and couldn't find them. (I had left out a very important word it seems, "unincorporated." Who knew?). I offered to just wait until Tuesday and try to find the copies at home so she could start her holiday weekend but she wouldn't hear of it. It took us about 15 more minutes to realize why we couldn't find what we were looking for and she was all smiles the entire time. I mean, this was the DMV?! And I have nothing but good things to say about the experience.

Recently I've started venturing through drive thrus again. I'm sure I don't have to explain why they are problematic for me. I typically will only pull up if there is no one else in line. (Especially if there are two or more rows. How in the heck am I supposed to know when it's my turn?!) I'll pull up, wait several seconds, then say "I'm deaf so I'm going to pull to the window to place my order." Or, if someone pulls up immediately behind me, I say "I'm deaf so I'm going to place my order here, repeat it once, then pull around for any questions."  It works remarkably well. I've never had any problems and the cashiers usually go out of their way to make sure they understood me, and that I understand them. (In these cases credit cards are our friends so that you never give them too little monies. Because that's just embarassing.)  But a recent trip through a Hardees drive thru tops them all. Not only was she very helpful but when someone pulled up behind me before my order was ready, instead of having me pull forward, she just went out the door and helped them at their car! And she gave extra napkins which always earns a :) in my book.

Speaking of fast food places, Chick-fil-a is my hands down favorite deaf friendly place to go. Because they are "family friendly" and spiritually oriented, I've found that the employees there really will go that extra mile to insure you have a good visit. I've had managers help carry my take out to my car; employees carry my tray to a table for me; they ALWAYS, no matter how busy they are, make sure to motion to me instead of calling my name when my order is ready. And the food is so good. I've never gotten bad food or a messed up order there. They're just fabulous. ;)

Those are just a few examples. I've had police officers write things down for me (and I don't mean a ticket!), strangers "interpret" for other strangers that I just could not understand, people stop to help me when I'm having difficulty walking over uneven ground or climbing stairs. I even had a drive up bank teller carry on a conversation with me once by holding up large, hand written signs to the window so I could read them. Sure, not everyone is as nice or helpful, but more people are than you realize, if you just let yourself see them.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

♫ i can see clearly now...

... the rain is gone ♫ Feeling better! That was a quicky. Yesterday was starting to feel (emotionally) better, a bit, but physically, not so much. Today was a brand new day! The weather was a little over- cast at times but no real rain (unless it happened while I was asleep). But, still, the pain is GONE. Completely; or as completely as it ever is. 
To celebrate I went to see Prometheus (OC) at the theater then met the hubby for dinner at Tony Romo's. The movie... didn't suck. But I thought it was kinda boring.  Just didn't pull me in. The husband said it's because I haven't seen Alien/s yet but it's a prequel; that shouldn't matter. Besides, really, as far as I can tell, it was just the last scene at the end (actually, after the end but before the credits) that really had any Alien ties. I thought the acting was good. I didn't think anything was overly silly. I just thought it was a bit slow, and dry.
But dinner. Oh, dinner was so good. And our waitress ROCKED! She was so nice and friendly and attentive without being overly pushy. Best thing, when paying, she gave the bill back to me to sign, not Shawn. I carry the card attached to our checking account so I'm generally the one that pays for dinner, etc. And even when I physically hand the card to the server so many of them then return it to Shawn to sign!! Pisses me off! I know it's a common belief in the service industry that men tip better (I generally agree actually) but in this case, I am an awesome tipper. You won't get a better tip handing it to my husband, because we actually talk about it before we sign. A joint account; a joint decision. Plus, since I'm deaf, I like to ask Shawn about anything I might have missed. So, any food service workers reading this; pay attention!
Tomorrow the weekend starts. Time to book the family vacay; I'm SO excited about this. Our first real vacation. Five days, four nights in St. Thomas. We are going crazy trying to decide what we HAVE to do and how to fit it all in. I'm thinking we are going to get very little sleep those five days. Better bring the camera!
I also get to go this Sunday to see Cirque de Soleil: Quidam with the sister. Front row seats. So psyched. I've heard it gets a bit strobe light-happy at times so I have to remember to bring some sunglasses. Soooo, what should I wear?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

out of the blue

Saturday I was FINE. Actually spent a couple hours watching the Cardinals game with my mom, just her and me. Having her to myself is pretty rare these days with the grandkids running around. It was nice.
Sunday I was FINE. I took my kids to the pool. We grilled out for father's day and stuffed ourselves on hotdogs and ice cream. I stayed up late chatting with a couple good friends- and laughing hysterically long into the night with one of them.
Monday I was... not so fine. I thought I was just tired, I just needed to sleep. It's the nerve pain bringing  me down, I said. If it would rain so the pressure would ease I'd be FINE.
Today I know- I'm not fine. But I can't say why. It's not the first time its happened. It's not just feeling blue or sad. I know depression is more than that. You can't just shake it off. I've gone through it before, I'll go through it again.
I just hate that it comes from nowhere, out of the blue. I'm not sick (or not more so than "normal"); nothing bad happened; I even spent time outside under the blue sky feeling the breeze on my face, letting the heat soak into my bones to warm me, inside and out. It was calm and beautiful- and I didn't care. It didn't bring a smile to my face or ease this feeling inside. This feeling I can't even put into words. A feeling of... not. I'm not really happy, but I'm not exactly sad. I'm not really tired, but I'm not exactly awake; I'm not hungry; I'm not thirsty; I'm not living. I'm just... not.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

so... what would you do?

This isn't one of those they were smacking their kid, leaving their dog in the car, cutting in line kind of situations. I just want to tell you what happened, what I did about it and how they responded (spoiler alert: no blood was shed). Then maybe you can chime in with what you (think you) would have done in my place. Deal?

I took the kids to the pool today to expel some energy but I brought a book, because some days I just don't feel like getting in a public pool. Just in case. You know. Anyway. I was sitting on the snack bar patio, which has a roof for shade, and is fenced off from the rest of the pool area. An employee (teenager?) was using a hose to clear off a bunch of trash, branches, leaves etc (it was a bit windy) from the concrete and we chatted a bit while she worked. She was very thorough and it took her a good 30+ minutes to clean up and put everything back where it belonged. Not long after, a mom with two youngish (6 or7 y.o.?) children came and sat at a table near me with their snacks. A few little wrens were flying around- 2 or 3- but there were no nests or anything, they were just visiting. The kids started tearing up their bread/buns and throwing it on the ground to "feed" the birds (they were having none of that though!). They made two pretty large patches of mushed up bread pieces around their table.

So, what would you do? After that girl worked so hard? And the birds obviously weren't interested. Plus this was enough crumbs for a flock, not 3 tiny birds that would fit in your palm with your fingers closed.

My husband hates this about me. He is a "it's none of my business" kinda guy. I'm a "I'll speak up if I feel it's wrong" kinda gal. So, I walked over and very quietly, and calmly, and politely said "I'm sorry to interrupt and normally I wouldn't but I thought you should know. Not 20 minutes ago a young employee spent a pretty large chunk of time cleaning everything, including dropped food crumbs, off the patio. I don't think it's very nice of your children to throw a bunch of food all over it again." She said something I didn't catch so I told her I was deaf and she repeated "They were just feeding the birds. The little birds." And I replied (this did get a bit snarky but I was trying to be very polite about it) "I understand but this is a public pool, not a pond or lake. They might not want you to feed the birds." Then I gave a little nod and went back to my book. About 10 minutes later the kids got up and picked all the bread up (because the birds did not eat ANY OF IT) and put it in the trash bin. I did feel kind of bad, and I know it's rude to point out someone else's rudeness, but when I think of how hard that young employee worked I just had to step up.

So, what do you think?

Friday, June 15, 2012


I posted a link to this blog on my FB page and a TON of my FB family took time to not only read today's random mosey through my summer (so far) but, also, to read further back. Then, they reached out to let me know how much they liked it. How funny they thought it was. How well written. And, more personally, how similar their own journey has been to mine. I just wanted to say thank you and that it really means so much to hear from you all. Like I told my hubby:

"it tickles me pink" :)

warning... this is going to ramble on & on

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. I've been busy. Knowing that I have 2 kids you might think "Oh, school's out; of course she's busy." But you'd be wrong. :)  The boys are actually with their Mom until after 4th of July (I think. As far as I know. Great stepmom, aren't I?).

No, actually I've been busy with some NF2 stuff. My hubby and I traveled to New Orleans, LA for CTF's (Children's Tumor Foundation) annual NF Forum. It was a great trip! I actually knew most of what they talked about already but during the sessions focused specifically on NF2 I heard a lot about where our treatments are headed. With NF2 there is no known cure and the treatment options in the past were: watch and wait, surgery, or radiation, such as Gamma Knife (which I've had done twice). But that last option is turning out to be not such a great idea for us NF2ers, so strike that. (Well, that's just great! Did I mention I had it done twice?!) Now we are moving into an amazing new(ish) chapter in NF research and finding a lot of new drugs and drug combos that can help to stabilize and possibly even shrink all the different kinds of tumors (there are a lot) we face before surgery is needed. Can you give me a Hallelujah?! The next 5-10 years are going to be a storm of breakthroughs in how to treat this condition. I firmly believe this. Can I make it 10 more years? Yes, I can! (Just got to stay away from buses. People are always getting hit by buses when they think something else is going to kill them first.)
We also did a whirlwind tour while we were there. I've lived in New Orleans but I was young so I barely remember it, except Mardi Gras. You can't forget Mardi Gras. (And falling into a swamp. You definitely can't forget that.)  We did the Riverwalk, French Quarter, Bourbon Street thing, all in about half a day. By the time we got home Sunday night I could barely walk anymore. Like I posted to my FB family: "Did we have fun, you ask? Well my legs are burning, my feet are swollen, my ankles have stopped bending. Oh and I have a concussion. It was AWESOME!"*
Before I forget. If you ever find yourself in New Orleans, you HAVE to eat at Red Fish Grill. And you HAVE to order the Chocolate Bread Pudding for dessert; it is SO GOOD. Also, you must find Pat O'Briens and have a Hurricane. But I'm not responsible for the consequences.

That's not all that's been going on. I've also started my 2nd yoga class. (I told you about the first, right?) This is a Hatha style yoga (vs. the Kundalini class I'm already taking). And holy shit! I think I lost 5 lbs in sweat and snot during this class! (No idea why yoga makes my sinuses run but I have to keep a box of tissues next to me every time.) I'm really hoping that by practicing these two styles of yoga I will develop more core strength and improve my balance, plus feel more comfortable getting around on my own (no cane, no walker, no hubby to lean on), and also, to lose some extra weight (ok, a lot of extra weight) that I've been carrying around since I was.... 10. (Gulp! It sure sneaks up on you!) I take each class once a week but I'm hoping that as I learn the moves and become better at them (no falls!) I can do them more often at home, on my own.

AND... I'm planning a visit with my M&Ms in Tenn. next month for a girl's week; well, 4 days. We are going to do the touristy thing in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. I'm driving from St. Louis, so send me strength (and snacks for the trip!), please. They also have NF2 and hear with the help of ABIs (Google it), while I'm completely deaf. This is going to be fun! :) I foresee lots and lots of writing. I should stock up on pens and notebooks.
Then, in August, we are doing a family vacay. First time since... ever. So we are aiming high. Five days in St. Thomas. Yes, we know it's hurricane season. That's what trip insurance is for. Found a great all inclusive deal through CostCo Travel. Now I just need to join CostCo. Can't. Freakin. Wait.
Two days after we get back school starts. Hopefully, sometime in there the boys and I can hit the pool (since I DID buy us passes) and do other fun summer stuff. I think I need to take the next 2 weeks to relax and get myself ready for a jam-packed July and August! This is going to be SWEET!

*Yes, I really did get a concussion. I think. I didn't go to the doctor or anything. But I had a huge lump on my forehead with some tenderness and bruising. Good enough for me: concussion. All the taxis down there are SUVs. I have a weak muscle in my thigh that makes getting into a high vehicle almost impossible. It rained Saturday morning and, when I was climbing into the front seat of said impossibly high taxi, my foot slipped (because everything was wet. from the rain.) and I fell forward, stopping myself from falling out of the taxi with my head. Meeting the dashboard. Awesome.

Monday, June 4, 2012

that makes sense.... huh?

Now that we are all gainfully, fruitfully, happily employeed, and plan to stay that way for the next eternity, we are working on paying down some of the credit accounts we ran up while the hubby was searching for this most wonderful job- and persuing his dream of restoring old guitars. (How's that working out for you, dear?) We are making enough each month* that I've been trying to pay at least double the payment amount, especially on the highest interest rated ones. I know Total Money Makeover says to pay smallest first so you have satisfaction right away and I get that, I really do, but.... it kills me to continue paying THAT MUCH in interest every month. So, we decided to see our bank about a bill consolidation loan; one payment, extremely low interest rate. Yes, please! Only we don't qualify- even with our increased yearly income, very good bordering on awesome credit ratings and two previous loans there paid off early. Why, you ask? Because of our credit cards! Which is why we were there in the first place! It's craziness, people.
So, I will continue making multiple payments each month, and cringing every time I see the interest rate. And I am NEVER letting this happen again. Honey, I'm talking to you now- this was your one time only to quit your job with nothing lined up. I agreed with you because your previous employer SUCKED and it was killing not only your soul but ours as well, and it was the right thing to do. Plus, wow! Great new job... three months later. (Hmmmm I guess there really is something to that "have enough for 3 months of bills in savings" thing. Who knew?) But, next time, please start looking at the want ads before you turn in your notice. Thanks and I (still) love you, dear.

*I'm not bragging. We are by no means rich, or really, even "middle class"; I just meant compared to when we were unemployed. :)