Thursday, May 31, 2007

I Finished the Curtains!

I just finished sewing the curtains for the living room windows and gosh darn it!! I am proud of myself! They look so good, don't you agree? I found some cool retro-style fabric and made four panels and then used some vintage ribbon from a yard sale to hold the curtains open. It's uncanny how well the ribbon matches the fabric colors, considering I bought the ribbon last summer and forgot all about it until I went searching for something to hold the curtains open. I like the contrast in the patterns and it makes the room look cool!

Then as a reward to myself for finishing the curtains, I picked some rhubarb and made a batch of Rhubarb Dream bars. You can find the recipe here. I substituted 2 cups of strawberries for the rhubarb so it is more like Strawberry-Rhubarb Dream bars, but whatever-- it's yummy!! I'd invite you over for a piece, but I don't think I can hold myself back much longer... Where's the knife and plate??

(*munching and chewing*) I hope you liked the pictures. I'm playing around (*swallowing*) and learning as I go. (*licking crumbs off the plate*) I'm being rude.. eating while I type, but the bars are just so good!! I'll save you a piece!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


We are seriously debating homeschooling the girlies. Sometimes I smack myself on the forehead and think I'm crazy (usually after a rough day with the girls) and then other days I think it is the best idea I ever had! It is something I have been thinking about almost since the day I gave birth to the oldest and now that kindergarten is just around the corner, I get panicky, thinking of her going to public school.

Hubby and I are the most easy going people you would ever meet. We wake up some weekends without a plan and say, "Hey, let's go to Berkley Springs for a drive." Or if friends call us up and invite us over at the last minute, we'll be there in a flash! We like to live a natural sort of existence, we buy organic meat from a ranch, grow our own food, try to buy organic at the food stores when we can afford it, and we don't succumb to the pressures of keeping up with the Joneses of the world. We always envisioned taking family vacations to historic areas and parks and throwing in a lesson while we are there. Visiting museums and teaching our girls about art and at the same time, teaching ourselves, too.

I think we live in an ideal location, we are 3 hours or less away from: DC with all the lovely Smithsonian's and historic districts; Mt. Vernon and Monticello, Luray Caverns and Williamsburg in VA; Gettysburg and Amish country in PA and more. Lots of farms and parks nearby to teach the girls about animals and farming. I don't doubt my ability to teach, but I worry about how I can juggle teaching and caring for the younger two.

Some part of me looks forward to Oldest going to school so I can focus more on the younger two, and then the other part of me fears that all our hard work in teaching her will unravel when she gets there. I know I must let go and let them grow, make choices and learn from their mistakes and successes. I just want them to be the best they can be and to grow knowing they can do most anything. Can they really learn all that being in a crowded class room with 30 other students? Can I really teach them to be independent and assertive on their own?

Oldest already knows how to write her name and writes all the letters of the alphabet. She knows her numbers and basic addition. She surprised me tonight with making pudding all by herself. She measured 2 cups of milk and mixed it all and came to get me after she made it. First, I was mad that she didn't ask first or come and get me for help, but when I saw what she did and that she did it right (and no mess all over the place), I was proud of her. Pudding is not something I make often, so I was impressed she had made it correctly. I have long suspected that she can read, but she doesn't realize she can. I let them help me cook from time to time and always show them and explain what I am doing next, why we measure ingredients and what happens when it gets hot and cooks. It must all be sinking in better than I thought it was. These are the moments that make me confident in homeschooling.

I also worry about taking on more than I can handle. The sacrifices I need to make in order to home school. Can we afford to buy the materials we need? Can I find a support group with the same or similar agenda I have? Do I have the patience? Maybe I should let her go to kindergarten and if I don't like it, I can always take her out and home school her. At least this way, she can make some friends and if I take her out, she'll still have her friends. Whatever we decide, we need to do it soon. Three more months before school starts for 2007-08 and we need to be sure and mostly, I need to prepare myself with supplies if we decide to home school.

I like the freedom that homeschooling offers, too. That is the biggest bonus after quality education. To not be confined to a schedule Monday through Friday, September through June. To pack up and go on a trip anytime without having to get permission from a school. If there is an exhibit during the week, I can go and avoid the crowds on weekends. And with Hubby working the 3 pm to 11 pm shift, he will be able to see the kids during the day instead of kissing them on their foreheads while they sleep and a quick breakfast before they go. It seems I am leaning more to homeschooling and I'll have to do more research before I commit. If I see a school desk at a yard sale, it's going to end up in the back of my car, and my decision will be made.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Yard Sale Treasures

As some of you may know, it was Memorial Weekend here in the States. That means many businesses were closed for a 3 day weekend. Of course, the shops are open! So that means for those that didn't go out of town for camping or frolicking on the beach, you can shop your little heart out at the stores with all kinds of sales for Memorial Day. If you're like me, you head to the yard sales!

It was a whopper of a weekend for yard sales! Up here, I am not sure why, yard sales start as early as Thursday!! I got 5 days of yard sales!! So if I can't get to that one today, I'll get it tomorrow! Fridays are the best day because I get to shop before the crowds on Saturday and Thursdays are maybe 2 or 3 sales, many miles apart. Be prepared to drive for yard sales up here, because in the mountains, they are spread out. But SO worth it!!

We drive along the main road and I am the spotter of signs touting sales this-a-way or that-a-way, while Hubby drives. The girls are pretty good when we go yard sale-ing, and I have since learned to bring plenty of snacks, drinks and toys to amuse them with. And they have since learned that going yard sale-ing will sometimes reward their patience with a toy or two. I have also become expert at becoming a toilet of sorts for the oldest when she needs to pee. We open both doors on the driver's side and I will stand in between, facing the car with girlie in front of me, she will drop her drawers and I'll pick her up behind the knee with her back leaning on my chest, and then she'll pee and I'll aim her stream away from my feet. This takes all of 30 seconds or so. We pop her back in the car when she is done and we are off, leaving behind a small puddle.

On our travels, we discover new roads that lead to dead ends, circle back to the main road, or keep going and going until we feel it's time to turn around and head back. Here in the hollows, hills and valleys, sometimes the roads you are heading into will take you into the deepest woods, blacktop fading to gravel roads, well-kept homes and lawns change to rough looking shacks and over-grown yards and you feel it may be time to break out the bread crumbs. No phone signals here, so if something should happen, you can't call for help and knocking on a door is not a welcome prospect. People live remotely for a reason and there are tales of people answering their doors with a shotgun in hand. I've never looked down the barrel of a gun and I certainly don't intend to start now. A full tank of gas is first on our check-list before we head out the door to go yard sale-ing.

The things I have had such a hard time finding in the city is plentiful here. My reasoning is the people here hold on to things and don't tend to keep up with the fashionable neighbors, like in the cities. If something works, they keep on using it and if it breaks, it gets fixed. Only until they pass away and relatives decide they don't want this stuff, sell them at yard sales, estate sales and auctions. And prices are CHEAP! I have come home with the back of the car filled and spent $50 or less. One yard sale we stopped at was a bounty of 70's items-- kidney shaped coffee table, polyester clothing, mod lamps and melamine dishes. We snagged the table for $5, a 1973 Daffy Duck drinking glass for $1, a vintage card shuffler for 50 cents. I spotted a box of melamine plates, cups and saucers and when I asked how much, she said they were free. SNAG! She had garbage bags on the ground filled with old clothes and fabrics and a sign that read "FREE", so of course I went through and found some materials for a future crafting project. We left with a full trunk and paid a total of $6.50!

I am so glad that Hubby likes to go yard sale-ing with me! It would be no fun having to drag a grumbling husband along, or if he stayed home, I don't want to hear him complaining about the "junk" I am bringing home. We are of similar tastes and we know that the stuff we like can only be found in second-hand shops and yard sales. It also helps that the stuff is cheap and if one of the girls break a glass (they have), I wont be too upset (ohh, my flower power glass! Oh well, I only paid 50 cents for it.) and there is my excuse to go and hunt for another one!

I use an old, white enameled chamber pot with a lid as a compost bucket. It still has the label on the side, only it says "Diaper Pail". My mom, when she saw the bucket on the kitchen counter next to the sink, immediately asked me why I have a "Poop pot" on the counter. Mom grew up in a 4-room house with no running water and an outhouse. At night and in the winters, they used the "poop pot" so they wouldn't have to run outside to the outhouse. With the invention of the toilet and more homes getting running water and bathrooms, the chamber pot company had a surplus of poop pots and decided to change out the labels and magically transform poop pots into diaper pails, saving themselves from bankruptcy. Even though my bucket is brand new (old, but never used) and advertised as a diaper pail, mom was grossed out by the idea of me having a poop pot in the kitchen. But I like it and it works for me. I have a bucket to put the day's worth of peelings and coffee grounds in and a lid to keep the stuff from smelling up my kitchen until I take it out to the compost bin.

It was a pretty good weekend for us. We didn't go camping or frolicking in the waves at the beach, no gathering with friends getting lubricated with alcohol, but we had fun! We worked in the garden, took a break and went yard sale-ing. Met some nice people, shared memories of the stuff they are selling, got some good deals and found some pretty neat stuff. More vintage aprons to add to my collection, the girl's Barbies have a new beach house to vacation in, Hubby got a few tools he needed, and even the outdoor cats got a cat house to live in. I'll let you know if disco lights suddenly flash on and off and music starts playing in the cat house. I assume payment will be made in the form of mice and birds....

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle!

I have just watched "An Inconvenient Truth" on DVD a little while ago and I take heart with what Mr. Al Gore is trying to say. I already do my part in recycling and reuse by taking aluminum cans and newspapers to the recycle center, going to reuse shops such as thrift stores, yard sales (I know it's not a shop, but you know what I mean!) and used book stores (why buy new when I can get a used book for $4 instead of $20) and by growing much of our own vegetables and canning the surplus. I know there is more that I could do to help save energy and reduce carbon emissions and I have visited the website: for more tips. You can click on the link and see for yourself.

I have always felt I was a bit old-fashioned and I actually enjoy doing things like hanging clothes out to dry on the line outside (*sniff* nothing beats the scent of clothes dried outside), growing my own food (you know organic foods taste so much better!), making and canning jams and tomatoes, etc., and making do with what I have instead of replacing something that could be fixed. I can appreciate the old mentality of saving scraps of cloth and using them as rags, or as part of a quilt or in my case, making a rag rug. 'Waste not, want not' was something I didn't fully understand up until a few years ago when I had started my own family and realized that if I threw something away that was still perfectly good, but had no use for it at the time, I would be wishing I had it later on and thinking "such a waste!" Hence- 'Waste not, want not'.

Before we moved, we lived in a town that was very gung-ho on recycling and encouraged it. We took our trash to the landfill and discovered the most wonderful thing ever and something I sorely miss to this day. Along with the usual receptacles to drop off your sorted glass, metals, plastics, newspapers, magazines, cardboard, yard waste, paint and chemicals, computer and electronics, used oil, clothing and fabrics, and finally household trash, there was also a shed labeled "Trash or Treasure." If you had a sofa that was too good to throw away, but you didn't want it anymore, you could drop it off in the shed and people could come by and take it-- free! You could drop off almost anything, and there would be attendants there to help you decide if it was worth putting there or to put in the trash bin. Hubby and I were there practically every weekend taking things and half our house was furnished with other people's cast-offs. I found a lovely antique arm chair with carved ball and claw feet and all it needed was re-upholstery. Hubby has found countless toy cars to add to his collection. We found play sets for the children to play on outside, including a barbie jeep for them to drive around in, in perfect condition and all it needed was a new battery. I also have what I consider one of my prized possessions-- a 1880's cupboard that was obviously kept in the barn (as in covered with poo, spiders and webs, and a mouse gnawed a hole through the back to make a home in the drawer) and when I cleaned it I found on the underside of the drawer a date and name. It is beautiful and I have gotten lots of compliments and I love to shock by saying, "I got it from the trash!"

To me, that is the ultimate in recycling-- instead of throwing away something that is perfectly good, you are just merely tired of looking at it, take it to the Trash or Treasure shed and let someone else have it. The landfill here, in our new town, in a new state, doesn't have a Trash or Treasure shed. Doesn't even have an aluminum recycling receptacle. All they have is one big bin you dump everything into, and they will then use a bull dozer to transfer the trash into a dump truck and then take the trash and dump it into an abandoned coal mine somewhere in the mountains of West Virginia. I am appalled.

Hubby took the trash one day, and when he got there, he saw a great looking wooden rocking chair. He asked if he could take it and they told him he couldn't. They weigh your vehicle before you go in, then weigh you again on your way out. They calculate the difference in weight and tell you what you need to pay. So if you took something from the trash, your weight would be different and you'd pay less. But what if you were to take said rocking chair out before you get weighed on the exit, the answer was still "no". How maddeningly frustrating that is!!! To see something that could be rescued and save a little room in the landfills and not being able to do it. The only option I can see is to lobby the county and demand they set up a Trash or Treasure site, or to stand outside the gates and inspect each passing vehicle for worthy items and ask if I can have it before they go in.

This is why I want to open my own thrift shop, because there is no place here that takes perfectly good rocking chairs and sofas and books and then offer them to the public at low prices. I want to catch those items and breathe new life into them and let other people fall in love with your old Pyrex dishes or dining room set. I love seeing something that has been around for 50+ years and seeing a new generation "discover" it and updating it in fresh style. I'll take your cracked plates and smash it and use the pieces to make a mosaic top for a scratched-beyond-repair table. I'll take that sheet with a hole in it and rip it up some more to make a rug. Make something new from something old. Ask around before you throw away your dishes-- maybe someone knows a young couple just starting out and don't have the funds to buy all they need. If you can, put it out on the curb with a "FREE" sign and I guarantee you, it'll be gone by the end of the day. You will have made space in your home, but more importantly, you'll have recycled and helped someone out.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Country Living

Living in the country requires a certain acceptance of things:

  • It will take you longer to go places, because the drive is now 45 minutes instead of a quick 5 mile run.

  • It is wise to stock up on pantry items in case you get snowed in, because country roads are the last to be plowed.

  • Making friends will be harder because 1, they are harder to find and 2, you have a limited selection.

  • Bugs, bugs, bugs!

This last one is something I am not too crazy about. In this, I am afraid I have the mentality of a city girl and I hate bugs! I can handle the gnats (they are ferocious up here and fly about your head bonking you over and over until you give up and go in the house) and the flies. I can even handle the daddy-long-legs (literally, I have to pick them up by the legs to rescue screaming girlies), and the occasional beetle (john, paul, ringo and george they're not!). But the 2 bugs I despise the most, are spiders and ticks! As long as the spiders are outside, we are not going to have a problem. I like to watch them spin their webs and have even watched them catch prey and then proceed to suck them dry (c'mere girlies-- look!). But if there is a trespassing spider in my house-- it dies! No questions asked, no interrogations under bright lights-- It. Is. Dead.

Ticks. I can't express enough how much I hate ticks. They attach themselves to the cats we have outside where no amount of tick repellent seems to work. I'll be petting the cats and feel a bump and my fingers automatically go back to that bump, trying to figure out what it is. A scab? A piece of twig? A tick!!! My hand recoils in horror and I am wiping my hand on my pants trying to erase all trace of touching a tick! **shudder!!** I'll call Hubby and tell him there is a tick on the cat and he'll tell me to go get the tweezers. "You do it!" I'll tell him. "No! You do it!" He'll tell me. I have discovered that when it comes to ticks, Hubby is a yellow-bellied chicken! So now I've got to sit the cat down, clear away the fur, hold the cat with one hand and with my other, tweeze the tick off. But Hubby is perfectly willing to take said tick (wrapped in a tissue and held by forefinger and thumb) and burn it! (What is it about men and fire??)

We were outside playing yesterday, after dinner, having a grand old time in perfect Spring weather, not too hot, not too cold. We looked for worms in the dirt, searched for Mr. Toad, looked at azaleas in the front yard, while I inspected the flowers on my raspberry bushes. I saw a tick climbing baby girl's shirt and swooped down like an assassin and promptly pulled it off her shirt and smashed it to oblivion between 2 rocks. I immediately went into strip search mode and marched all the girls into the bath and inspected every nook and cranny for enemy infiltration. None were found, mission accomplished.

At lunch today, while eating pizza and chattering away, middle girlie brushed her hair away from her face and I caught a glimpse of something dark-- A speck of dirt? A bit of mushroom from the pizza? A dab of pizza sauce? *GASP* A tick!!! I grabbed her and rushed into the bathroom and of course I scared middle girlie into tears and she ducked her head and tried to fight me off. I had to tell her there was a bug on her ear (Bug? BUG! AHHHH BUG!!! she starts to scream and bat her ears trying to get the bug off her) and mommy needed her to sit still so I could get it off. And then, of course, she sees an evil, shiny metal pincher coming at her and she falls all to pieces again. I finally grab that tick and pull and it has only just attached itself to the inside of her ear and was easy to pull off. I washed her ear with alcohol and praised her bravery and told her if she got a little zippy bag, we could put the tick in the freezer (in case any symptoms of Lyme disease show up and we can test the tick) and turn it into bug ice.

I don't know where that tick came from. Did we bring it in on our clothes last night and it fell off, wandering the house, looking for a victim? Did it sneak in on the cat, the one that escaped to freedom and came back in, tail tucked under, a prisoner captured and returning to finish his sentence? Or is there a crack in my house and it followed a spider? I'll have to be more vigilant with my strip searches now; check the beds, wash the clothes as soon as I have enough for a load, get Hubby to strip search me (of which he will gladly do!). Lyme disease is a very serious illness and it's amazing a little bug like that can cause such harm to people and other animals.

The girls have no interest in going outside, even though it is another beautiful day. I know the tick is still on their minds and they run to the freezer every now and then to inspect his frozen carcass. I took out the medical book and showed them a picture of a tick, and they compared pictures with our frozen tick. I explained what a tick does and where they come from and to call me if they see a tick anywhere. I think tomorrow, I shall ask them if they want to play at the park, where there are slides and swings and a rocky creek to play in. That should get their minds off ticks for awhile.

I DO love the country, even if I have to put up with the bugs.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Scrambled Thoughts

Having to think up 8 different things about myself while doing the tagging games took me down a path I haven't been down in awhile. It was nice to sit and think about what I've done and where I've been. It isn't something I get to do much of, since chasing 3 little ones around the house, and we can't forget Hubby, take up most of my time. My mind is constantly in motion, always thinking about one thing or another, and even Hubby knows that my head is a never-ending stream of thoughts and ideas. Before I can close my eyes at night, I have to shut down my brain by reading a book, doing a crossword puzzle or something that helps me turn off for the night. If I don't, I end up tossing and turning, my thoughts leading to a jumble of other thoughts.

Here is an example of how my mind works: I'll be thinking of what I need to make for dinner tonight and I head to the pantry, on the way over, my mind is mentally picturing the items on the shelves, when I step on a lego block, my mind zips over to *pain* and I kick it away, and now my mind is thinking I need to get after the girls to start picking up their toys, which leads me to thinking about the basement playroom and how it looks like a toy bomb went off, which is why they are banned from the basement until they learn to pick up their toys which leads to why they were banned in the first place which leads to the oldest biting the middle on the cheek and leaving bite marks 2 days later, which leads to feeling bad for the middle one and hoping she is feeling better and hoping it won't be noticeable tomorrow when we go to Walmart which leads me to thinking I need to buy more bandaids and neosporin>>>gotta write that on the list>>>seeing the grocery list makes me think of dinner again>>>going back to the pantry now>>> and all this in the space of a minute or 2. See how my poor mind suffers??

It is a rare day when my mind is completely quiet and I have a moment to myself and not have to think about where the girls are or if they need anything or I need to tell Hubby something or there is something that needs to be picked up, cleaned up, put away..... Since I am a stay at home mom, or as I prefer to say, a housewife, I don't get to go out very often. Hubby goes to work everyday and my job is to care for the girlies. I relish the 2 hours I get to myself every week when I go to the food store by myself. The freedom of not having to always know where the girls are and to just walk around without a kid hanging from my shirt or tripping over a kid that stops suddenly and sees something on the floor to pick up. Which leads me to think about a memory I remember of doing exactly that to my own mom when I was about 3 or 4 and we were walking down the hallway and I spotted a penny on the floor so I stopped to pick it up and here comes mom, not seeing me in the dark hallway and she flew over me and went splat on her face! She chewed me out and told me never to do that again, to let her know I am stopping or to move to the side and let whoever is behind me go. Which leads me to thinking about tonight, after giving the girls their bath and sending them into their rooms all wrapped up in towels and turning off the light, making the hallway dark, and tripping over the middle girl ducking down to pick up the doll she dropped on the floor.

I'm looking at the clock thinking I need to wrap this up so I can skedaddle and watch "Lost" on TV which leads me to think that I need to get dirty dishes from dinner washed and a load of laundry tossed into the dryer and then a quick stop in the bathroom which leads me to think I need to get all those newspapers into the recycle bin which leads me to remind myself once again not to forget to take the aluminum cans to the recycle center on Saturday morning which reminds me I want to go yard sale hopping and then I remember it's memorial weekend and there might not be too many sales and leads me to think about the sales at the food store for memorial weekend and how I wish we had a new grill since our old one finally kicked the bucket and thinking that Hubby has a 3 day weekend and maybe we can go somewhere for the day and I should print out a map route and that leads me to thinking about "Lost" again and looking at the clock......

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I'm It--- Again!

I've been tagged again, this time by: Dj Kirkby. I hope this will be the last time, as it gets difficult trying to think of things to share (read: what I am willing to share) about myself. In case you are a new reader... I have to list 8 things that you don't know about me and then I tag another 5 people to share things about themselves. I won't be tagging anyone else, but if you want to tag yourself, you are more than welcome to! Here we go...

  1. I have a tattoo on my right ankle of a peace sign made up of flowers. It was an 18th birthday gift to myself during my hippie days in college. Parental Units were mad. ( And no, I don't regret it.. I still stand for peace and flower power!)
  2. I sewed and made all the window curtains in our house. I am currently working on the living room curtains and am about half-way done.
  3. A teacher once caught me french-kissing a boy in class! He was reading a newspaper and we decided to play truth-or-dare. I was dared to kiss the boy sitting next to me. The exact moment we kissed, the teacher put his paper down and caught us! No one got in trouble but the game was over!
  4. I collect old Pyrex dishes and mixing bowls. I have too many to count and use them, display them, and sell off the extra ones.
  5. When I was little, we used to live near some railroad tracks. I used to ride my tricycle back and forth over the tracks when the train was coming until I chickened out. (Sorry Mom and Dad!)
  6. I dream of opening my own thrift or antique shop someday. My basement is filled with boxes of old stuff and furniture. We call it "the store". Until then, eBay will do.
  7. Once, a friend and I were at a dance club, and we were dancing together. A very persistent guy wanted to dance with me, but he didn't pass approval in the looks department (yes, we judged by looks. we were 21!) and I told him to buzz off. Someone bumped into me and I fell and scraped my palm. Mr. Persistent saw, grabbed my hand and licked my blood! Ewww! I snatched my hand away and called him a vampire! Mr. Vampire wouldn't leave, so my friend and I kissed each other and he finally left. So now you know why girls always travel in pairs, to keep guys like Mr. Vampire away!
  8. We bought a canoe about 6 years ago before the kids came along. We still haven't used it. sigh....

Alrighty! I am officially retired from these Tagging games!! If you want to tag yourself and say I did it, then you have my permission! Go forth and share 8 things about yourself, and let me know you did! Ta-ta!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Deaf Girls Working At The Beach

One summer, my friend and I decided to go to the beach for the summer and find work. We didn't think our deafness would make it too hard to find a job, considering there were all sorts of positions; house-keeping, restaurant type work, store clerk, amusement park ride attendants to name a few. We asked my friend's mom to drive us up there (it was 3 hours away from home) and drop us off. When we got there, we were going to sleep on the beach and wait until we earned enough money to rent a room for the summer, but her mom asked us where we were going to sleep and gave us enough money to cover a week's worth of rent for a room. I'm sure she thought we were being foolish.

We had all the basics-- swimsuits, beach towels, baby oil (the days before skin cancer made news), change of clothes, alarm clock, and a few other things. We were total beach bums until we ran out of money. The lady we rented a room from suggested we go to a jewelry/gift shop on the boardwalk and ask for Hughie. So we go down and ask for Hughie. We landed jobs that afternoon and he asked us to come back at the shift change at 4 pm. They had interesting shift hours-- Shift A would work from 9 am to 4, then shift B works 4 til closing (sometimes 11 sometimes 1 am, depending on how busy the boardwalk was); then the next day, shift B comes in at 9 am to 4. As crazy as it was, work one night and come in bleary-eyed the next morning, then be off until tomorrow afternoon, it worked out for us party girls.

Deaf people use alarm clocks to wake up just like hearing people, with a couple of differences-- Hearing people use sound and we use either a light attachment or a vibrating attachment you slip under the mattress or pillow. One morning after several nights of either partying and going to bed in the wee hours, or working late hours and not getting home until 2 am, the lack of sleep was catching up to us and we woke up late. VERY late! I was so tired from the night before, that I had forgotten to set the alarm. We quickly dressed and half ran, half walked (it was about 10 blocks) to work. We came in breathless and I announced in a loud voice, "My vibrator didn't go off!!" (Let's pause and think about what I said for a minute.....hmmm...vibrator....) I got the funniest looks from Hughie and the other workers, PLUS the customers that were in the store. It took me a minute to realize that I was talking to HEARING people who are not aware that Deaf people use vibrating attachments to the alarm clock. I just wanted to sink below the floor. At least everybody laughed when I explained what my vibrator was.

Every once in a while, we would get Deaf customers. I was always glad to help and it was fun to see their surprised faces that 2 Deaf girls were working as cashiers in a busy shop at the beach! I would always watch Deaf people signing, seeing what they are saying about the merchandise, the customers unaware there was a Deaf worker watching them, until one day Hughie saw me watching and came up to me, nudged me in the arm and said, "Stop eavesdropping!" I had never thought of it that way before and to this day, tend to look away when I see Deaf people signing, not wanting to "spy" on their conversations. Hughie, which we always pronounced as "Huey" (who-ee) never corrected us when we found out we had been saying his name wrong all summer. He even said he liked it and told us to keep saying it the way we have been.

That summer was great! All the money we earned went to rent and good times. Food was lunch at the boardwalk eateries or ramen cooked on the small stove, or a big batch of potato salad that would last at least a week. We didn't care about food, it was just fun we wanted! It was hard seeing the end of summer come and we sadly went home, empty pockets, but full of memories and promises that we'd be back!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Full Circle

Once last summer, while I was reading the yard sale notices in the local paper, I came across an address that wasn't far from me. Maybe 10 miles down winding roads, passing fields of corn or grazing cows, passing cliffs with crumbling walls with signs that say, "Watch for Falling Rocks." There are magnificent farm houses here and there, some so old you can see the original log construction under the cracking mortar. I would love to knock on the door and ask if I could come in and look around the house; see how they decorated. Did they decorate with period antiques or a mish-mash of furniture, whatever they could get or afford? Then there are some fallen down, broken homes and I stare in amazement that people actually live in them; a tattered tarp covering the roof, the yards full of rusty junk and bare, brown earth, as if the grass has withered away from lack of attention.

I went to this yard sale, a house that would be attractive if not for the junk that littered the yard, filled the garage, the carport, the barn. Everywhere you looked, something was bursting with junk. A treasure trove for me!! An old, wrinkled man with leathery skin, tufts of white hair and wire-rimmed glasses sitting on his nose greeted me, no teeth in his mouth and started talking to me. It's hard to lip-read gummy words, so I smiled and nodded along to what he said, saying, "uh-hmm" and "Is that so?" to whatever it was he said. He was talkative and looked like the type that would give you a history lesson if you sat down and took the time to listen, and then I wished I could hear, to pick his brain of the stuff he knows. I tried to make it clear to him that I was Deaf and I couldn't really understand him, but he didn't seem to take any mind and continued to follow me around, talking all the while, to me, to an imaginary audience.

He had boxes and boxes of things, pulled out from his carport and garage, too much to take and display on tables, so he left them in the boxes. You had to get your hands dirty for this and I was in heaven! What fun it is to dig through long-forgotten enameled cooking crocks and dusty jars and pull out a matching set of vintage flower power drinking glasses. I went digging through every single box and had a pile of stuff by the time I was through. Then the old man surprised me and said if I wanted, I could go through the carport, too, just stay away from his tools. What a thrill! I entered this carport, a no-man's-land of sorts, cobwebs hanging and dust covering everything in sight. I spotted an old radio from the 40s, old pickling crocks, and huge pickle jars. I took them all! Looking at my growing pile of treasure, I wondered how much I would have to pay and he surprised me with a modest price of $25 for everything. I paid him and told him I would be back!

I went back with Hubby several times over the summer, he kept pulling more stuff out of his carport, garage and barn, and I kept buying more of his stuff. There were times he had his false teeth in and then I could understand him and I lingered to talk and listen to his tales. It was good when Hubby came, he would stand and lend a ear to the old man's voice and watch the girls run among the boxes, while I concentrated on my hunt. He liked to go to auctions and buy boxes of stuff from estate sales and yard sales and indeed, I found boxes that had the name of a woman scribbled on almost every item and it wasn't anyone he knew, probably from an estate sale, long ago. He had a huge, 10 foot tall crock sitting in the grassy portion of his circular driveway. It is an antique apple vinegar crock that was used in the early 1900s to ferment apple cider into vinegar. He bought a pair of them and paid $1,500 each, plus traded a truck for them and one broke on the way over. He became a friend and we bumped into him in town, at the firehouse auction where the auctioneer knew him by name and teased him in the middle of calling prices over something being auctioned.

I'm looking forward to going back to see him this summer, hoping he will have another summer-long yard sale, pulling more boxes out, one by one. We didn't see him all winter, driving by his house and seeing everything hibernating, knowing buried treasure lies among sleeping junk, our hands itching to dig. More than once, we were tempted to knock on his door, wondering if he would let us in the barn, but thought better of it. I remember every single thing we bought from him, some I have cleaned up and displayed, some still in a box, waiting to be put somewhere. I'm refinishing an old farm table and plan to turn it into a kitchen island. Maybe when I am old and toothless, my house will be bursting with "junk", passersby looking at my house, tsk-tsking as they drive past.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I'm it!! I've Been Tagged!

The Good Woman from My wee Scottish Blog tagged me. The basis of the "tagging game" is to tell 8 things about yourself that others don't know. Then tag 5 different people and get to know them. So without further ado....

  1. I used to be a hippie. No, no, not from the 60's. I was a hippie-wannabe in college in the early 90's and I had all the groovy outfits. On Halloween, people borrowed all my clothes to dress up like hippies for the costume party. I won first prize for my hippie outfit (of course I saved the best outfit for me!).
  2. When I was 7 or 8 years old, I wanted to join the school band. The music conductor looked at this little deaf girl and said, "No." Dad argued. Conductor asked me to pick an instrument. I picked the flute. Conductor showed me how to blow a note and asked me to blow and hold a note as long as I could. I blew and held a note for over a minute and a half. I played the flute for nearly 6 years in the school band. Didn't know a deaf person could play, did ya?
  3. Once, in college, I had a little too much to drink and discovered I could do a really good imitation of Dolly Parton (y'know, that blond big-haired country singer with the big boobs).
  4. I have a pierced tongue. It was a gift for my 21st birthday. Does it mess up my speech? I already talk with an Irish accent, so what difference does it make?
  5. Dad took me to see John Denver in concert for my 16th birthday. I love John Denver!
  6. I once performed at the Kennedy Center in D.C. with my high school Deaf Performing Arts group, The MSSD Road Show.
  7. I paid $150 for an Italian glass hanging lamp and it has never been used since I bought it 12 years ago. I simply haven't found the right place for it. I don't think I ever will.
  8. I rip up old cotton sheets and clothing into strips and crochet them into rag rugs. Sometimes I'll take a teeny tiny hole and make it bigger just so I can say, "Oops! A big hole in the sheet! Looks like this one will go into the rug!" Because I need a particular color! (And there's my excuse for a new set of sheets!)

Well! That was actually harder than I thought it was going to be. It was a nice trip down memory lane for me, though, so I didn't mind. Here are the 5 people I'd like to know more about and I am tagging:

  • Elsie Button of Flower Fairies and Fairy Cakes
  • Lantana of Lantana's Latitude
  • Drunk Mummy
  • Karen from A Deaf Mom Shares Her World
  • LindyStar of Danielle is a Hor (Yes, I know you were tagged before, but that was an A to Z thing and I like you! I want to know more about, no.. not a stalker...don't call the police.. wait, wait! --{footsteps running away}-- Come back! I just want to be your friend!)

You're it!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I Had a Baby At Home-- On Purpose!

When I was about 4 months pregnant, with surprise #3, Hubby quit his job and started a new job for less pay, but closer to home. We figured it was ample time for Hubby to work and then qualify for health insurance before baby was due. What a goof that turned out to be! Nine days into the new job, they told Hubby that they had over-hired and didn't need him anymore. Gah! Hubby tried to get back his old job, but that is like a whale trying to fit through a mouse hole. Hubby filled out a thousand applications and went to 100 interviews, but nothing was happening. The job market slowed down and we were living off our savings.

Meanwhile, it is nearing the end of November and I am 8 months pregnant, still no health insurance and the last time I had a sonogram was when I was about 15 weeks pregnant. I am getting anxious here and I actually asked Hubby if he felt confident enough to deliver the baby himself. His face going pale was answer enough. I decided then that we would need to hire a midwife. I was going to have this baby at home, without an epidural because there was no time now to get a job and work 90 days before health insurance kicks in. I located a midwife website through a friend and posted an urgent request for a local midwife. The very next day, we got a call from a woman that lived about an hour away and said she would be willing to help us.

We met her a few days later and she was the exact picture in my head what a midwife would look like: Long hair, long flowy skirt, minimal make-up, sandals-- a very down to earth woman. She was warm and friendly and asked us questions about the pregnancy and my previous births. Then it was time for the examination. We went to the bedroom and I laid on the bed and she had a little doctor's kit with all sorts of neat little tools. She felt the baby in my belly and listened to the heartbeat and took a pee test with a chemical strip that you dip and it changes color and tells you if I had irregular levels of anything. I will tell you this, it was the most comfortable examination I had ever had since the very first examination with my first child.

My due date was around January 9th, but I was absolutely sure that baby would come earlier. I carried so low and even the midwife (will be called MW for the rest of this post) agreed with me. She made plans to come and see me weekly and to call if anything came up. Christmas came and went and I was desperate to have this baby! I was tired of being pregnant and having this big belly getting in my way, I was READY to give birth, but baby wasn't ready to come just yet. The MW came on Jan 4th and said she was going out of town to a midwifery convention/wedding and she just knew that was when baby would decide to come and gave me the back-up MW's number.

January 7th, I woke early and felt some slight discomfort. I grabbed the clock off the wall (I am near-sighted and I don't wear a watch) and took it back to bed with me and timed the discomfort. I don't say contractions because they didn't feel like contractions but I was getting a pattern of being uncomfortable every 5 minutes. I told Hubby to call the MW. 6:30 am, Hubby called and the MW knew she wouldn't make it down in time because she felt I was going to go quickly and told Hubby to call the back-up. 7:00, the back-up was called and she got here a little after 8 am. By then, my contractions, still mild, were up to 3 minutes apart. She checked me and I was 7 cm dilated, which surprised me because my water hadn't broke yet. She told me that was a good thing, because if my water broke, my contractions would be much more intense and painful. I was doing fine and my two girlies were in and out of the bedroom, torn between playing with the MW's doctor kit and watching Tom and Jerry cartoons on TV.

In case you are wondering, we were given a list of things to have ready when it was time to have the baby. We had to order a home birth kit from a website that included absorbent pads for sopping up the water and blood, those wonderful cold pads for my sore coochie, an umbilical cord clamp, receiving blanket and baby hat just like the hospitals have, and rubber gloves for the MW. I also had to go to the county department of health for some forms for the MW to fill out, a tube of cream for the baby's eyes and that heel cutter to draw blood from the baby to test for iron levels. I also needed to provide a crock-pot for warm water, a shower curtain for the bed so I didn't soak through to the mattress, towels, stainless steel bowls and a few other small things. Hubby set up a folding table and the minute the MW arrived, she arranged everything she needed and transformed my cozy bedroom into a cozy delivery room.

Around 9:15 am, my contractions escalated to the point where I needed to rock and I was on my hands and knees, rocking back and forth, groaning what seemed to me very loudly, but when I asked later, the MW said I was very quiet. The pain was intense enough that I wondered how long I would have to do this for-- it wasn't that I couldn't handle it, but if I had to do this for 5 or 6 hours, I would be screaming for someone to reach in and pull the baby out of me. It was not knowing how long I was going to be doing this, that was starting to get to me. I didn't have to worry. MW checked me from the rear as my butt was in the air while I was rocking and she said I only had a little lip left on the side and then I'd soon be ready. She had me lay on my side to help ease that lip away and sure enough, in 10 minutes time, I was ready to push. I got back on my hands and knees (I totally and fully expected to be on my back holding my knees and pushing the baby out, but without pain medication, this was the most comfortable position for me). I remember so clearly seeing my 2 girlies sitting on the bed to the left of me, Hubby standing on my right and MW directly behind me (as she should be) and I pushed once, my water broke. Pushed again, baby's head came out. Third push, baby was out, it's a girl!

There I am on my hands and knees looking down between my legs and seeing all the blood and water and thinking I was going to die!!! At the hospital, you are perched on the edge of the bed and all that comes out of you while pushing falls into a bag tucked beneath your butt, so you never see exactly what or how much is coming out of you except for the actual baby. I'm kneeling in a puddle of my own liquid and waiting to be told what to do-- I am not going to lie down in this! After MW quickly cleaned up the baby, wrapped her and handed her to proud Hubby, she turned her attention back to me. She quickly sopped up the liquid with those absorbent pads and rolled the shower curtain out from under me, then put another absorbent pad down so I could flip over and see my new little girl. Believe it or not, I felt great! I put baby to breast and nursed her, my 2 girlies watching everything, and 5 minutes later Hubby's parents arrived, driving 2 1/2 hours worth of road in 2 hours. I asked MW about the blood and water on the bed and she said that it was actually less than usual, that it was all normal and she assured me that I wasn't going to die. I was up and walking in a half hour, taking a shower, putting that nice, cold pad between my legs and sitting in the living room as if nothing had happened. It was by far, the best birthing experience of all 3.

I had the personal attention of a MW and didn't have 25 nurses coming in and out of my room, poking and prodding me, sticking me with needles and taking my temperature, a pressure cuff wrapped around my arm, tightening every 10 minutes to check my blood pressure and a monitor wrapped around my belly to check the heart-beat of the baby. I wasn't in a cold and sterile room, sitting on a hard vinyl, birthing bed with a smelly pillow and scratchy paper pillowcase. While I showered, MW changed the sheets on my bed, washed everything and even loaded the clothes washer for me! She got me cold water and fruit to eat and stayed for 2 hours after the baby was born to make sure that mother and child were fine.

What happened to the placenta you ask? We had the option to dispose of it however we wished, throw it in the trash, bury it, burn it. Hubby took it out to the fire pit we have and burned it.

If I were to ever have another child, I would do it at home with a midwife. I felt empowered by this experience and I know if I ever come face to face with something that seems impossible, I can do it because I did this.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Deal with the Devil

I love food. I love cooking food. I love eating food. I love trying new recipes and adjusting and tweaking to my liking. I love feeding people and seeing looks of pleasure on their faces. It's great when I know people are happy to come to my home because they know they will be fed and fed well. There is nothing worse than being invited to someones home and there is either not enough food to go around, or poorly done. I am certainly no gourmet cook, but I think I am a very good cook (Hubby has a tummy to show for it!) and we like to fantasize about opening our own restaurant with good homey foods. None of that sliver of meat, a sprig of broccoli and a swirl of sauce crap. If I have to pay $20 for a meal, it better be good and it better fill me up!

We don't often eat out, conserving money and our sanity. You try eating out and holding the attention of three children 4, 3 and 1 and finding something on the menu that they'll actually eat. On one of our rare excursions to a pre-kid, favorite, sit-down restaurant that was well-known for ribs (alas! something I haven't tried to cook yet) and with a craving for ribs like you wouldn't believe, we were sorely disappointed. First, the waitress made no attempt to tell us that the grilled cheese sandwich we ordered for each of the girls was the size of a large pizza. Had I known I was paying $8 per pizza-size grilled cheese sandwich, I would have ordered one and cut it up. But no, and even better, the girls only ate the fries and their sandwiches sat, untouched. Gah! Then the ribs that I had been drooling for, dreaming of, willing to give up my first-born for... sucked. It was not falling-off-the-bone, finger-licking, who-needs-a-napkin, I'll-lick-the-sauce-off-the-corner-of-your-mouth-for-you-good. It was rubbery and I felt like a dog gnawing his bone. Oh! The disappointment! We sadly paid the bill and apparently our sentiments were echoed by other customers, because the place closed down a few months later. I would have been sad but I had already broken up with them.

Before we moved here, there was a FANTASTIC Chinese place we went to nearly 2 or 3 times a week! We went so often, they got a high-chair just for us! It was just 4 tables in there, but they were constantly busy and the woman that ran the place took pride in her service and food. We only had to walk in and she remembered what we liked without us ever saying a word. And they were cheap! Go in during the lunch hours between 11 and 4, and we could eat enough to feed a family of 10 and only pay $12! Since moving, there is only one Chinese place here and they suck! I gave them multiple tries, but they just don't do it for me.

So I have taken it upon myself to learn how to cook Chinese! I have my stir-fries down pat! I make a mean spicy beef with mixed vegetables; mouth-watering fried rice that even my girls can't resist; and I just figured out egg rolls. Oh! Who needs to go out to restaurants when I can make it myself and it only costs me a fraction of what we would have paid. Then as a bonus, I don't have to keep the attention of 3 girlies and pray they don't have a melt-down in public, or plead with them to eat the food that mom and dad have paid an arm and leg for.

The only thing that suffers with my love affair with food is my poor body. I still have not lost the baby weight from the last one and I fear I never will. The poor weight scale that I bought last week, because I have not weighed myself in ages, gave me such a fright when I finally stood upon it! *GASP* That's it! I am on a diet! I have searched high and low for my old diet plan, the one where I lost 25 pounds in 3 months before I got pregnant with the first and I found it! Started it last week and so far so good. But then I saw that mouth-watering recipe on Pioneer Woman's Blog and I just HAD to try it: Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich. You can see for yourself, click on her link that I have on the right sidebar, but be warned--once you make it and taste it, there is no going back. It is LICK-THE-PLATE-GOOD. I have since made it twice and I think I've gained 10 pounds! Gah! But looking at the weight scale again, it hasn't changed, so no harm, no foul, right? I can diet all week, eat a sandwich and my weight won't change. Sounds pretty good except I want to LOSE the weight. Oh dear me... I'll have to give up the sandwich. I'll settle for once a month, yeah that's it.. Diet all month, and then I'll only gain back a weeks' worth of weight. It's a deal!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Where are the Deaf people hiding? Part 2

A few posts ago, I talked about not meeting any Deaf people since I moved here 2 years ago. Just 20 minutes away is the State's Deaf school and I thought the small town would be bursting with Deaf people walking around, not so. I finally met a Deaf teacher there and she was very nice and helpful and gave me some locations where the local Deaf go. Turns out there is a Deaf club that meets once a month, and also, a coffee shop where they meet to catch up on each other. We traded e-mail addresses and I am looking forward to attending one of these events and meeting other Deaf people. The Deaf people aren't hiding, I am just looking in the wrong places!

The woman that I talked with, she expressed her surprise that I had been here for 2 years and had not met anyone yet. I told her that it was partly my fault, because I didn't exactly beat a path to the Deaf school as soon as I moved here. As I said before, I kind of "dropped out" of the Deaf World so I could focus on my family and raise my girls. Now that they are a little older, I won't feel so bad leaving them for a few hours to meet other people. Plus, I am missing the culture and the familiarity of signing and the understanding that a fellow Deaf person shares. Who else knows, but another Deaf person, what you are going through. Who else can immediately understand what you mean when you talk about dealing with the Hearing World.

I am glad that I was able to meet her today, before school closed for the summer and most Deaf students and staff would be home. I am truly excited to meet the other local Deaf and will tell you how it went in a future post.

On a separate note: I asked about the hearing superintendent that was hired recently and the uproar about the Deaf applicant not being picked for the job. 15 people applied for the position, only 1 was Deaf. The Deaf applicant didn't have all the required qualifications for the job. This has NOTHING to do with so-called "audism". Why would anyone hire someone that was less than qualified for the job, just because they were Deaf?

Monday, May 14, 2007

To be or Not to be... Average?

When I was in high school, I was really into those teen fashion magazines (weren't we all?). I might not have been the most fashionable girl in school, but I liked to dream and imagine myself with the cool clothes and hairstyles. Do you remember how lots of those magazines had quizzes, like personality tests and stuff? I LOVED doing those (pssst! still do!), and had fun reading the results-- "20-35: You are Outgoing and Sassy!" or "10-19: Ohh! Kinky!" Whatever.. I didn't believe in them, I just had fun doing them. Do you also remember those "survey results" they used to do? They would poll a select group and then publish their "expert findings."

I remember one magazine that had published the results of their survey and it was mostly about sex topics-- y'know, like "85% of women aged 20-35 prefer men with no chest hair" and "12% of all women polled like back door sex", stuff like that. There was one survey result that stuck with me and it was; "Average number of sexual partners all women have: 7." I told myself then and there that I would have 7 sex partners, no more, no less. Seven was my favorite number at the time and I was still a virgin when I read that article, so I felt like 7 was a good number of men to sleep with. I don't know about now, what the average number of partners women have in 2007, but this was in the 90's. Go ahead and roll your eyes, I was 16! I was vulnerable to what I read and the happenings of society, and every girl just wanted to be normal and yes, that meant AVERAGE.

I'm not going into details here (hi mom and dad!), but by the time I met Hubby, I had 6 sexual partners. I had told myself that I wasn't going to "play around" and that the next guy I have sex with, better be the last one! Poor Hubby never had a chance! After we dated for awhile and things started getting hot and heavy, I knew he was the "one" and I remember clearly telling him that the next guy I go to bed with was going to be the one I marry. We slept together that very night and in the morning (everything is x-rated, no details will be told!), I remember wondering if he realized what I said and if I meant it. A few days later, he proposed to me! I said yes without hesitation. We got engaged after only a month of dating, but we had a long engagement, not just for making sure "he's the one/she's the one", but to shut the naysayers up! I cant tell you how many times we heard from people that we are going too fast, or we are going to get sick of each other, blah blah! We just knew that this was it! We were inseparable!

Our 9-year anniversary is on Wednesday and I can't help but look back on that single night and smile (if you're wondering about the sex, yes, it was GREAT! I married him didn't I? We have 3 kids, don't we?). I wouldn't change a thing. Hubby confesses he remembers me telling him that I was going to marry the next guy and he was glad it was him. He even tells me that when he first laid eyes on me, when I walked into the room, a voice in his head said, "You're going to marry that girl." So maybe he knew even before I did that we were going to get married. It took him a year to ask me out and it's been bliss ever since. (I'm about to get sappy here...) I love him with all my heart and I love that we have 3 beautiful girls together. I hope we get to be old and gray together, sitting on rocking chairs and watching grand-children run and play. I love our life together and I look forward to many many more years with him.

So in honor of those quizzes and surveys and my wedding anniversary, here's a Tibetan Personality Test!

Be honest and do not cheat by looking up the answers. Answer the questions as you go along, get some paper and a pen to write down your answers. Only 3 questions and DON'T look at the answers until you answer all 3 questions! The first thing that comes to mind, is usually the best answer. Ready?

(1) Put the following 5 animals in the order of your preference: Cow, Tiger, Sheep, Horse, Pig

(2) Write one word that describes each one of the following: Dog, Cat, Rat, Coffee, Sea

(3) Think of someone, who also knows you and is important to you, which you can relate to them the following colors. Do not repeat your answer twice. Name one person per color: Yellow, Orange, Red, White, Green

Got all your answers written down?


Be sure the answers are what you really want!

Can't change your mind once you read the answers!

You ready now? (Ok, ok! Here are the answers, keep your panties on!)


(1) This will define your priorities in life.
Cow signifies CAREER
Tiger signifies PRIDE
Sheep signifies LOVE
Horse signifies FAMILY
Pig signifies MONEY

(2) Your description of:
Dog implies your own personality
Cat implies the personality of your partner
Rat implies the personality of your enemies
Coffee is how you interpret sex
Sea implies your own life

(3) The color and the person:
Yellow- Someone you will never forget
Orange- Someone you consider your true friend
Red- Someone that you really love
White- Your twin soul
Green- Someone that you will remember for the rest of your life

Now, go forth and prosper. The mind is like a parachute, it works best when it is opened. Have a nice day!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Rhubarb Mania!

I've been working in the garden today and put down some weed blocker fabric around my rhubarb. I LOVE rhubarb and I've noticed that it is generally a northern dish... Most southerners (in my experience) are not familiar with it, or have not heard of it before. So, a little education: Rhubarb is a vegetable but is almost entirely eaten as dessert. You can make pies, bars, cakes, jams, sauces and more with it! It looks very similar to a celery stalk and grows in bunches with BIG leafy leaves (I mean BIG LEAFY leaves!). Leaves are poisonous so don't eat them, and you can actually make a natural bug killer with the leaves, which I have done before. It is very tart when eaten raw and most of the desserts call for lots of sugars or combine with sweet fruits for taste. I can eat it straight (but not with a straight face!), since I grew up on it (show-off!) and I have been making rhubarb pies since I was 10 or so. The stalks are red or green and there are slight taste differences, but it's ALL good!

If you can grow some in your area (they don't tolerate heat well), try it! Plant it once and they come back year after year, bigger and thicker than the year before. Be sure to plant it in a spot that gets 1/2 sun and 1/2 shade, that's what works for me, and be sure it is in a permanent location, since they are a struggle to dig up and move, which is what I did when we sold our old house and moved here. I dug up all 20 of my plants and brought 'em with me! 16 plants survived the move and this year they are growing like they are on steroids! ack! I think I'll have to take some to the farmer's market to sell what I cannot use. Too good to go to waste and Hubby doesn't really care for it (he's a chocolate freak) so I get to eat the whole pie (yum! but wreaks havoc on the old diet). They also freeze well, and I like to freeze in 4-cup sizes, since that's what most rhubarb pie recipes call for.

Anyway, here's a couple of recipes that are reallllllllllly good!! Take my word for it-- YUM!!!


-3 eggs
-2 2/3 tbsp milk
-2 c. sugar
-2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp nutmeg
-1 tbsp cinnamon (you can use less if you want, I really like cinnamon and always add lots more than the recipe calls for)
- 4 c. cut rhubarb (chopped in 1/2 inch pieces)
-1/2 c. blueberries
-2 unbaked deep dish pie crusts (I used to make my own, but with 3 little ones....I buy frozen crusts now)

Beat 3 eggs and milk. Mix in sugar, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir in rhubarb and blueberries. Pour into 1 pie crust. Take 2nd pie crust and remove from pan and place on top of filled pie, flute edges to seal. For a flaky crust, sprinkle a little milk on top and spread with your fingers to cover surface of pie, then sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top. Cut a slit in the top to vent. Bake 50 to 60 minutes in a 400* oven.


Crust: -1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 2/3 c. powdered sugar
- 3/4 c. softened butter

Mix all 3 ingredients and press into bottom of 9x13 cake pan. Bake at 350* for 15 minutes.

Filling: -4 eggs
- 2 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
-3 c. rhubarb, chopped (for a variation, you can substitute 1 cup of rhubarb for 1 cup of chopped strawberries)
- 1 tsp cinnamon

While crust is baking, mix together all ingredients. After crust is done, pour filling onto crust (while hot) and spread lightly to make sure filling is even. Bake 35 minutes.

Try these and let me know how you like them!! I'll post other recipes from time to time. Enjoy!

Mother's Day

On this pretty Mother's Day, I am reflecting on how blessed I am to have my girls. I know there are many women out there who are not so lucky and struggle to conceive a baby. Countless more, cannot have a child of their own. There are many ways to become a parent-- adoption, step-children to name a few, and I know for some, if they cannot have their own child, they don't want one at all.

It saddens me that in the news almost daily, there is something about an abandoned child or a newly born infant in the garbage, or babies being born to drug-addicted mothers. How easy they make it look, getting pregnant, while there are women who genuinely want a baby and cannot. This is why I don't read/watch the news... my soft heart cant bear all the bad news.

I love my girls, even when they drive me crazy. There is something about looking at your child when she sleeps, the peacefulness on their faces, their steady, deep breathing. Then of course, I like to tickle their noses with a feather and watch them scratch (sorry! I can't resist messing with them!). Nothing compares to when your child hugs you around your leg, making it nearly impossible to walk, when they say "mommy" for the first time, the first smile, when they do something and can't wait to show you and when they hug you around your neck so hard you think, this is love. I love my girls and I wouldn't trade motherhood for anything! So Happy Mother's Day to you all!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Cat Round-Up

I am a cat lover. NOT cat lady, cat lover. I think at one time, my friends feared for me and they thought I'd gone over to the crazy cat-lady world. I love cats-- kittens are my weakness. Don't drop a kitten in my lap, you'll never see it again!

When Hubby met me, I had 2 cats. They were the first cats that I ever had on my own, not a cat that mom and dad had in the house, but MINE. Who paid for the vet's bill? Me! Who got their shots and took them to get 'de-balled'? Me! Cat food and litter? Me again! I felt such an attachment to these 2 boys. One of the boys had a condition that caused him to be clumsy. He always looked like he was drunk, walking in a wobble and his perception of distances wasn't very good either. I have seen him run at full speed only to crash into the wall and then sit there shaking off the yellow birdies flying around his head going "tweet-tweet!" The vet said he was the runt of the litter and his brain was not fully developed and it was the part of the brain that controlled his eye-paw co-ordination. When he jumped on the bed, it wasn't a graceful leap, but a 'here-goes-and-hope-I-land' kind of jump.

When I met Hubby, I introduced him to the boys and they gave him a 'cat scan' and then they bumped his legs and purred and pretty much fell in love with Hubby. I knew then, that Hubby was alright. One of the first questions I asked Hubby was if he was allergic to cats-- not if he liked cats, but allergic. I figured I could convince him on the virtues of a cat, but if he was allergic then I was out of luck. I was not going to give up my cats for a man!

Later, a friend of mine found some kittens and knowing how much I liked cats, she invited us over to see them. Hubby had always wanted a black cat and sure enough, she had a black one. Hubby was smitten! We planned to take 2, as the other 2 were already spoken for, but they backed out and we ended up taking all 4 kittens... do the math: 2+4=6! Poor Hubby--- he didn't grow up around kittens and had no idea of the behavior they have. They climb everything and anything, run and play, sleep on top of books and your face! Eventually, Hubby got used to them and the kittens grew into cats and we were a happy family of humans and cats. About a year later, a co-worker found a black cat and couldn't keep him and remembered me. She asked me if I wanted him and I thought "Oh, no!! Hubby will KILL me if I bring home another cat!" Then she did it-- she brought the cat to work and said, "here!" and thrust the kitten in my face. *GASP!* Cannot resist, must fight it! But it was no use, my powers are useless against kittens. Hubby drove home that night while the kitten cuddled up on my neck, licked my ear, and fell asleep, purring all the way home. 2+4+1=7!

Here is the kicker--- when I was pregnant with my first child, I can't tell you how many people asked if we were going to get rid of the cats before the baby was born. I can't believe people STILL believe in that old wives tale about cats stealing babies' breath and the other stuff. Of course we were going to keep the cats! The only problem we had was one of the cats being jealous of the baby and took to relieving himself on the crib everyday, and then when that didn't seem to make the baby disappear, he started on the changing table, the diapers, the carpet. Hubby ended up taking him to the animal shelter. Then shortly before we moved, I had to put my drunken boy to sleep because he was having kidney problems and his illness progressed to where he was miserable.

So, down to 5 cats. An Aunty got into a terrible accident and needed someone to watch over her cats for her. I said I'd take care of them until she decided what to do with them-- I am NOT keeping them. 5+2=7! Little did I know, they had pissing problems. Crooked-tail cat was peeing everywhere and I wasn't having it, so we tossed him outside with 2 of our other cats that developed peeing issues. Miss Kitty (who wasn't fixed, so I couldn't throw her outside with all the stray tom-cats hanging around) holed up in the hall bath and used the tub as her toilet. Then she ventured out and started using corners of the house. The last straw was when she poo'd in the toy box on top of the girls' toys. Agh!! Off to the shelter she went.

My old boy cat passed away last year and now we are back down to 5 cats again. I still am a cat lover, but I must admit that I am counting the years to when the house will be cat-free. Sounds heartless, but with all the things I am already doing around here, cleaning the litter box is not my favorite thing to do. We love the ones we have, and give them love and affection, and I love it when they curl up on my lap when I watch TV, or they plop on the newspaper (the funny pages, of course). In the future, after these ones have gone on to kitty heaven, we will have no more than 2 cats at a time. If you have found a kitten, don't call me and I must add, kitten kryptonite no longer has any power over me now, so nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Day of Shopping...

I don't like to shop anymore. I was never much of a big spender to begin with-- oh I can spend (just give me unlimited cash flow at IKEA and I'm a happy woman), but not on clothes and accessories and the like. But now with the little ones, just going to the food store has become something of a challenge. We went to Wal-mart today, before Hubby goes to his evening shift, and it was just going to be a quick in-and-out; more cat food, diapers, a few odds and ends, that's all. But with the children, it becomes this completely new struggle that I don't like, not to mention the quickly disappearing patience of Hubby, which in turn, makes my patience disappear ( or vice versa, my patience goes quicker than Hubby sometimes).

Our kids are walking time-bombs. We have a limited amount of time before their fuse runs out and they have a melt-down. If they are the least little bit tired, then the fuse is shorter. If we took a break somewhere, like for lunch, then the fuse is longer. But no matter where we go or when we go, there IS a fuse-- 3 of them. It doesn't help that our girls are all blond-headed, blue eyed beauties that LOVE to wear dresses and attract lots of attention no matter where we go. Comments on their eyes is the most constant and then the people looking want to look at Hubby's and my eyes to see if we have the same blue (we do) so that shopping becomes a gauntlet of sorts. Dodging the admiring glances or the tsk-tsking looks (as in, have you heard of birth control?) of people seeing 3 small girls , are not helping make the shopping experience pleasant. I don't mean to be rude, but MOVE! Don't talk to me, I have 3 ticking time-bombs and I have no idea when they'll go off, so GET OUT OF MY WAY!

WHY, oh why does the pet food area must include FISH??? If I want to buy a fish, it's not going to be there, where the selection is goldfish, goldfish and goldfish. All you are doing, is making my shopping harder by having a wall of aquariums with nothing but different sized goldfishes and making my girls scream and whine, "I wanna see the fishies! I wanna see the fishies!" and making other customers look at me as if I don't do any kind of mothering, the way they carry on. If I don't really have anyplace to go, I'll let the girls press their little noses up against the tanks while I am silently cursing the little fishes who are so languidly swimming around in their tanks, oblivious to the fact that they are being admired. Of course, now that they have seen the fishies, they now WANT the fishies. Uh, no. We have 5 cats and I can just see their little whiskers twitching and thinking, "Oh? What's this now? Fresh meat?? Purrrrrrrrrr......."

After I finally get them to say "bye bye fishies" it's time to head to the infant area for the diapers, but to get there we must pass the TOY department. If I manage to drag my girls away from all the pink Barbies and Disney princesses, bicycles and hula hoops and the like, I am now standing in front of a rack with all the kid movies in the world. "Mommy, can we have this movie? I prah-mus we will be good!" [*Note to self: explain once again what the word promise means] Now we are in the infant department and all is safe, nothing to catch the fancy of a 3 and 4 year old, until they spot the underwear. I did promise (I promised!) my soon-to-be 5 year old that I was going to buy her new underwear for her upcoming birthday and it has come back to haunt me in the form of, "Gasp! I want this one! (pointing at undies with flowers and angels and leopard spotted fabric-- what?! for a 5 year old?)." Thank God she didn't point out any G-strings!

Meanwhile, Hubby is dutifully pushing the cart trying to herd us along, before he has to leave (we took 2 cars) and I admit, by now I am starting to get hot and sweaty. I can see the fuse in my own self starting to burn and I know my own melt-down is not far off. I quickly prod the girls up and down the aisles for a few more random things; head of cabbage, macaroni and cheese, weed blocker fabric for the garden. We're finally done with time to spare and after we have everything paid for and bagged, Hubby tells me we have forgotten the glue we promised the girls for their crafts (damn promises), so I tell him to take the cart, load up the stuff in my car and then he can go and I'll stay and get the glue. Hubby doesn't have the keys to my car with him and that means we ALL have to go out and load the car, kiss kiss goodbye and he leaves me standing, 4 whiny girls in the parking lot.

With Hubby gone, the shopping has a different tone now, all I need is some glue and oh! that new weight scale I've been wanting. And since I'm here, I think I'll grab some little gifts for Mother's Day that's just around the corner. All of a sudden, my fuse has stopped burning and the girls are happily trotting alongside the cart. We go back to see the fishies and I laugh and play and poke fun at the 'fish kisses' and tease the girls with my own imitation of fish kisses (no, I will not do an encore for you). We go and get a few more items and pay and just as I think mission completed, my soon-to-be 5 year old says she has to go to the bathroom. Now? I've just paid for these things and I cant leave them out in the hallway and you expect me to let you go in there alone, while I stay out and keep an eye on the other 2 girlies? Oh, where is Hubby when I need him? She bravely goes in and I practically hold my breath until her return.

We are finally at the car, unloading and I must keep an eye on the girls running around the car in a busy parking lot while I strap in the baby, and I think to myself, "I hate these car seats!" I know, I know they are for the safety of our children, but how safe is it for them to be running around parking lots waiting for me to strap in their siblings???? I know there must be an easier way to all this, but at that moment, I am clearly going mad and your suggestion at that particular moment would have resulted in your head rolling around the parking lot! I can say, now that my little angels are asleep in their beds, that I could have put them all in their seats and then strap them in one by one, but it still leaves them running around the parking lot waiting to be put in their seats.

We made it home, and as an extra special treat, they all fell asleep, so they were re-energized when they got home. Lovely. Me, on the other hand, was exhausted and I still have to put the stuff away and make dinner, entertain them, bathe them, and (at last!) tuck them in. Nitey-nite!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

I Was a Deaf Fork-Lift Driver

I used to work for the Post office, before Hubby and I decided to start a family. I started as a mail handler (sorting the mail before it gets to the letter carriers who then deliver it to you). Inside, there are huge letter sorting machines that read the barcodes on the letters and magazines and then people take those and plop them into bins or trays, and then into hampers or pushcarts. There are fork-lift drivers or power ox (sort of like a go-cart on steroids) drivers that take the mail and drop them off to other locations in the building. From the very first day I started, I wanted to be a driver on the power ox. How nice it must be to "travel" through the building and not be stuck in the same spot all day working the mail. I asked about driving one, and I knew being Deaf shouldn't make a difference, but there were no other Deaf drivers that I knew of. First, I was told that I had to wait until I was a regular-- meaning a full time, permanent employee. But I noticed there were other workers who started on the same day as me and at the same level as me, driving the power equipment. I asked a different supervisor and again I was told the same thing, wait until I was a regular.

Some time went by, and I was made a regular. Once again, I asked about driving and was given the run-around. I went to the union this time, to see if being Deaf had anything to do with it and they said that it should be fine. So I went to a different supervisor. You needed a supervisor's signature on a training form to get the training for the power equipment. At the time, I had a supervisor that I didn't get along with very well. I felt very intimidated around him and I don't know what his problem was with me, because I was Deaf, female or what, but to put it nicely, I didn't like him. He would take the form (I hunted around for a form instead of waiting for him to get it) and tell me he would get around to it later. Of course, later comes and goes and still no signed form. By now, I had been working at the Post Office for 3 years. I asked other supervisors, but they couldn't help because they weren't my supervisor.

Finally, my supervisor transferred out and I got a supervisor that I liked and I wasted no time in getting a form for training. He signed it!!! I did the required training, which consisted of watching training videos (they were sub-titled) and reading instructions, took a few quizzes and then actual, physical training on the ox, then fork-lift. It seemed like forever before I finally got my training, and I had to wait until the weekend when there were less people working, and less mail coming in. As I thought, my Deafness didn't prevent me from being able to operate the machines, I think it was more a matter of discrimination against ME, not my Deafness.

I LOVED being a driver. I wasn't able to do it everyday, as the Post Office relies heavily on seniority, which I didn't think was always fair, but I was driving almost everyday by the time I quit. I was even told that I was one of the best drivers, but I think that was only because I returned right away after dropping off a load instead of straying and talking with other workers. In that case, being Deaf was an advantage because I didn't socialize very much with the other workers. I found out later on, that because of me, there have been a few other Deaf people who got trained to drive the fork-lift and power ox. When one Deaf person can break the barrier and show that it can be done, more barriers fall down. Deaf people as a whole need to remain consistent in proving our worth, and even though we might have to work harder at it sometimes, it pays off in the long run for future generations.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Could have, Should Have, Next Time I'll Get an Interpreter

My oldest is about to start kindergarten this fall. Since we live in the hills and hollows of the West Virginian Appalachian mountains, people are spread out far and wide. Some of these people are intentionally hiding, on the verge of becoming hermits, and others just dont want you to see their naked selves prancing around in front of the living room window. Back to my point...Because people are spread far and wide, the school systems have a hard time finding all the 5 year olds or soon-to-be 5 year olds to begin school, so they start their hunt early. As in last year early. We answered a letter saying yes, we have a young child that is ready to start school around October. Then in Febuary, we got a notice in the mail to attend a screening for all children who are 5 or soon-to-be 5, and if we knew of any other 5 year olds, to please pass on the info. I have yet to meet the people that live across the street and you're asking me to pass on the info? hmm..

Hubby called and set up the appointment for my soon-to-be 5 year old and it went something like this: We arrive at the front secretary's office where she then leads us down a maze of halls to the school library. There, they grab my child and sit her down at a little table, and me being Deaf, I wanted to be by her side so I knew what they were doing to my child, but no, another lady tells me to go over there, and points at a table with other mothers filling out forms. Feeling torn, I force myself to go over and fill out a simple questionaire about address, medical history, birth certificate and the like. I glance back at my soon-to-be 5 year old and they have moved her over to a table where other children are playing with play-doh. Here comes another lady and she takes my child by the hand to another table and they examine her teeth and I see her mouth moving, but am unable to lip-read from a distance of 20 yards or so. Then she hands over a toothbrush and sends her to yet another lady who then takes her out of sight. I start to follow, but I am stopped and asked to sit down and wait.

The whole procedure was very frustrating to me and I watched parents (mostly moms) come and go and chatter cheerfully with the ladies that are inspecting all the 5 or soon-to-be 5 year olds. I wished Hubby was with me, but he was at work and unable to get the day off. I felt like I was cast aside as if I was not important and left to wait for my child. I watched how after the children returned from wherever they took them, one of the ladies would match child with parent and then sit down in an office and what looked to me, like they reviewed their findings. All of the reviews seemed to take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. Finally, after what seems like eternity, here comes mine, and my middle child is elated to see her appear! She runs to her and gives her a hug and it's all I can do not to run myself.

I prepare to sit down with a lady and review the findings and when she spots me as the mother of my child,she waves me over to a small table. She starts talking and I stop her to tell her that I am Deaf and to please slow down, look at me when she talks and point to which section of the paper she is talking about. Turns out, the paper is a progress chart and they ask each child to perform different tasks and a panel of teachers/speech therapists/counselors rate the childs capabilities-- 3-4 year level, 5-6 year level, 7-9 year level, and 10-beyond. This lady that has sat down with me went through each task and said, "good, good, good, needs work, good, good, she only knows her abc's up to 'k', good, very good, she can hop, jump, but she needs to know how to skip, good, good. Thank you and see you in the fall." Whoa whoa... what happened to the average 20 minutes the other ladies spent with the other moms??? I am half pissed and half anxious to get out of there, tired of feeling like I am at a cattle round-up.

Arriving home, my mind was ticking over everything that happened on the way back, and I was bursting at the seams by the time Hubby came home from work. I wished I had thought to ask for an interpreter to be there. I wished Hubby was there. I wondered if she was so quick with me because I was Deaf and she was uncomfortable with me? I wondered if my child did so well, that there was nothing to talk about? Too many unanswered questions. Would it have been different if I was hearing? I'll never know.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Germs and Dust Bunnies, Unite!

I'm a little "twitchy" today... My poor Hubby cant do anything right by me (or so he says) and I'm sure he was happy to leave for work this afternoon. I jumped on every sentence that came out of his mouth-- "What am I going to eat for lunch today?" "What are YOU going to eat?? How about what are WE going to eat?!" As if he has forgotten all about me and the 3 hungry little girls. I didn't start out planning to do this when I woke up this morning, but somehow, every word out of my mouth (hands) came out like that. Poor guy, all day he had to walk around on the defense, just waiting for me to pounce.

I just plopped the little one in her crib for a 2 hour nap, and I plopped the other two with a DVD in front of the TV. Now its my time. But there isn't anything to do. Nothing enjoyable anyway. Plenty to do in the yucky department--- sweep the floor in the dining room (I cant wait to pass that on as a chore to the girls when they are old enough to hold a broom!), balance the poor pathetic checkbook and start digging around in the growing pile of bills that need to be paid, throw yet another load of laundry in the wash with clothes that were only worn for 3 hours after the girls decided to turn the sun room into a swimming pool and doused themselves with water, or I could tackle the dishes left over from lunch. sigh... Now I understand the saying, 'A woman's work is never done.'

I am by no means a neat freak. I don't panic at the sight of a crumb left on the floor, or a puddle of water by the water dispenser on the fridge door ( am I the only one that HATES those ice/water dispensers with the little ones able to help themselves to water and further fuel their desire for a pool in the sun room??? ). I figure the water will evaporate and dry on its own, and the crumb will be joined by more crumbs by the end of the day, and I'll just sweep after the little angels go to sleep for the night. But my house is not a disaster zone waiting to be condemned, oh no! I just feel like there are more important things to do than constantly cleaning all the time. I do the basics every day (OK, every other day, sometimes) like the dishes and sweeping and vacuuming. But washing the windows? That is done, umm, never? I mean, I have washed their little nose prints off the sliding door, and when they had muddy hands, I washed where they touched, but have I washed every window in the house? No. Dusting? Umm.. nope, doesn't happen. I got one of those swiffer dusters and they are fun to keep the kids busy with for the next 2 hours, but that's about all they are good for. Mopping, hmmm... once a week, unless there was an accident with a poopy diaper or a spilled juice cup.

*GASP* you may say. But the GERMS, you may say. Your children will get SICK, you say. I laugh in the face of the Germy Germs! Bwah-ha-ha-ha! Did you know the big-wigs at the pharmaceutical companies have actually come up with a DIRT PILL??? A pill filled with *DIRT* because they fear our children are not exposed to enough dirt and are being disinfected to the point where one small contact with a Germy Germ will cause havoc on their little kid bodies??? So, my almost clean house proves a point. My kids have not had any MAJOR illnesses with the exception of the sniffles every now and then (knock on wood). Whatever I am doing, I am going to keep on doing it. I wouldn't recommend you eat off my floor, but you can rest easy in knowing that my dishes have been washed, the bathrooms are clean, and we wash our hands. Just ignore the crumbs under the table, thank you very much!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Lessons Learned From a Broken Hearing Aid

My hearing aid broke a few months ago. The one I got from my dad because he got new ones and didn't need his old one anymore. I needed his old ones because I gave him my extra hearing aid that I wasn't using because I don't like wearing an aid in my left ear. I'm sure this sounds familiar to other Deaf people, the passing around of hearing aids to different family members. From one daughter to dad, to the other daughter, back to dad and so on... I had a pile of 6 or 7 old hearing aids that I couldn't wear-- either not strong enough for my profound deafness, or just didn't work anymore and I didn't have the heart to throw something away that cost $1,000 to begin with. (yes, hearing aids cost anywhere from $800 to $2,000 EACH depending on the model, for my hearing readers that are unfamiliar with the Deaf world) And oh, did I mention that they aren't covered by insurance?? If someone out there has insurance that covers hearing aids, PLEASE pass on the info!

Anyway... My old, hand-me-down hearing aids finally bit the bullet and my bank account was not able to handle such a large expense of buying a new one, so I called dad and asked if he had another old one I could use. Well, his hearing aid broke not too long ago and he was using his old one until it got fixed. And so it goes... sigh! I couldn't hear my kids! My kids can read my signs pretty well, but they don't really sign back to me. So not only could I not hear my kids, I couldn't understand them either! I'm such a bad mom. I didn't teach them ASL, because I talk more than I sign, and even though they can read my signs, they reply back in voice and I never really enforced the sign issue. They know the basics-- hungry, more, thank you, please, etc... But they don't know how to express to me their tales of playing outside, like, "And then we found a worm in the dirt, and it was all wiggly and dirty from being in the dirt, and we picked him and up and ewww! It was all slimy and squirmy and it was so cool! And then we took the shovel and chopped him up and threw him in the bird feeders so the birds, like the blue jays and the red birds, they can eat him and give him to the baby blue jays. And then...." I felt horrible that I didn't enforce the signing with my children and now I couldn't understand them! My middle child doesn't quite speak clearly and mumbles more than she talks, and I could not even guess at what she wanted. I was ready to cry! "Do you want juice? Juice? No? Chocolate milk? Honey? What do you want, why are you crying? Are you hungry? No? Are your pull-ups wet? Do you need a change? Please baby, tell mommy what you need?" And meanwhile my child starts to blubber and cry and I am looking at my oldest to translate blubbering and mumbling to me. "What did she say???"

This went on for about 2 weeks. A lifetime if you ask me. For 2 weeks I could not understand my children. For 2 weeks I kicked myself in the ass for not teaching my children to sign. For 2 weeks I cried at night at the frustration I was going through and with no one to blame but myself. I was about to go to the hearing aid center to ask if they would accept monthly payments on a hearing aid, when my in-laws came to my rescue. I had mentioned in an email to my Hubby's mom (I am one of the few lucky ones that have GREAT In-laws!) that I was frustrated at not being able to understand my kids. I never expected their response, "We want to buy you a new hearing aid!"

My reply: "No no no! This is not necessary! I'm fine and I'll manage without."

Them: "No, we insist! Tell us how much and we will pay for it."

Me: "It's over $1,000 for a hearing aid, did you realize that?"

Them: "Don't care, we want to do this for you and we wont take no for an answer!"

With that, I burst into tears at how lucky I am to have such wonderful in-laws and how much I knew they loved me, and that they truly accepted me into their family. I made an appointment and got a new hearing aid and they came over and gave us the money to cover the cost. I am so, so grateful and thankful and happy and blessed!

Of course, now I make sure the girls sign. I can understand them again with my new hearing aid, but I have learned a very important lesson the hard way and it is not something I care to go through again. My 18-month old is now signing "mommy, daddy, milk, want" to name a few. My middle child is signing more in 2 or 3 word sentences, and my oldest is getting better and better. I have to remind them to sign sometimes, but they ARE signing now. I even got after Hubby and he has been signing more, too. I turn my voice off more and just use ASL to talk with my family now. Communication is precious, in any language. Make sure that the people you choose to be in your circle can communicate with you and if they aren't willing to learn, then maybe you need to re-think that relationship. It doesn't matter who you are or how old you are, if you really love someone, you would do anything for that person, including learning their language.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Deaf School Dating

I was never one of those types of girls that brought every boyfriend home for the parents to meet. I was also not the type that wanted to meet my boyfriends' parents. This was all made possible by living at a residential Deaf high school and our parents being far, far away. Going to Deaf school really made kids grow up a little faster. We were not able to depend on mom and dad to do things for us, like helping us with our school-work, or having them around to talk to when there was a problem, and even going through puberty on our own. I could tell countless stories of girls in the dorm when puberty went up a notch and them having to ask the other girls what to do... but that's another tale for another time.

Growing up without the parents around made it easy to date among ourselves and not worry about a parent asking us, "Where have you been? Who were you with? Is that a hickey?!???!" We would have make-out sessions behind the dorms and spend hours just kissing and hugging (at least that's the farthest I went, no telling about the other couples). Oh, sure, we had dorm supervisors, but it was 3 or 4 staff members up against a dorm-full of 60-75 girls with raging hormones!

The particular dorm that I lived in was across from the boys' dorm and if you left the curtains open, you could see right into each others' rooms. It just so happened that our room was in sight of our boyfriends' room, and being deaf, a distance of 100 yards didn't matter-- grab some binoculars and sign away! We had all kinds of "conversations" with the boys, my roommate and I-- we made the usual goofy face conversations, the lift-your-shirt and flash 'em conversations, and the lovey-dovey, sappy, I-miss-you-cant-wait-to-see-you-at-breakfast-tomorrow conversations. I'm sure the boys in the dorm got an eyeful more than once, but I always made sure to close the curtains when it was time to change clothes-- I didn't put everything on display (I can just hear mom breathing a sigh of relief)!

Deaf kids were prone to drama-ridden, on-again, off-again relationships just like in hearing schools and there were plenty of times when a break-up happened right there in the student lobby. I think it was a little more difficult in residential schools, because we were together 24/7 and there was hardly any time apart from each other. My particular school had students from all over the US and some parts of the world, so it wasn't like they could go home for the weekend and come back on Monday all fresh. If we wanted to avoid seeing an ex-boyfriend, you pretty much had to stay in your room, and how boring is that? No computers or phones and almost none of us had our own TV; we had to watch TV in the wing lobby, phone calls were made in the 'Communication Center' and computers were in the (you guessed it!) 'Computer Center'.

There were plenty of times when us girls resorted to wearing turtle necks for the obvious reasons, and the boys would strut around like roosters in the chicken coop, proud to show their symbols of the previous nights' passion. I know some couples went off to the dark and secluded parts of campus for more than just kissing, and there were plenty of places to hide. Curfew was at 9 and lights-out was 11.

Dating in Deaf school was both easy and difficult. Difficult because you were growing right in front of everyone and the awkwardness of puberty was tough to deal with. The acne, the periods, the growth spurts (height and boobs), and facial hair. The self-awareness of your changing body and then constantly being around other kids who didn't know what the hell was going on with their bodies, too! Easy because you were in misery just like everyone else.

In a way, not having parents around was both a blessing and a curse, they weren't there when you needed them, but you also didn't have to explain that hickey on your neck.