Archive for June, 2010

Denial. Happens to the Best of Us.

My husband and I have a lot of friends and family, probably even more so because we attend church very regularly and know most everyone who attends.

So it goes to say that when we were at church this past Sunday (my husband flew out that evening to Albania), there lots of both friends and family who offered me their support this week if I needed it. The most popular question I was asked was if I was going to miss my husband.

Now I love my husband, I really do. But over the course of our marriage, he has traveled to probably half the states in the U.S. with his work, in addition to the two times he’s been out of the country. My husband hasn’t traveled with his work over the last two years as he did prior to that, but I’ve definitely been left to my own devices on more than one occasion. In fact, when my oldest was just seven days old, my husband was gone for six solid days. So it’s only natural that one would get used to that.

But without going into great detail, how do you explain to someone that you’re not really going to miss your husband? That sounds kind of tacky, doesn’t it? My husband left Sunday, but on Monday my son started five days of Vacation Bible School (for 3 hours each day) and Tuesday he started having 30 swim lessons every day too. We had a lot planned for this week, although I’m now wondering what I was thinking when I signed up for swim lessons and VBS all in the same week. I certainly couldn’t have been thinking rationally. But we were busy and had so much to do, that there wasn’t really time to think about much else, right?

Today, Wednesday, marks day number three that we have completed without my husband and today, day three, is when I finally admitted to myself that I was in complete and utter denial to think that I wouldn’t miss my husband.

At about three o’clock today, I used our phone and called the Mission Base in Albania so that my kids could speak to their dad for the first time since he left. The first couple seconds that my son was on the phone, I could tell it was one of the Albanian family members because he couldn’t understand what they were saying. I told him to ask for his dad, and in all of the sudden my son’s face turned from incomprehension, to the biggest grin I have ever seen on his face. It was at that moment, that I just knew. I missed my husband so crazy much.

And after my son talked a few minutes, he handed the phone to my daughter, who promptly told her dad that she “peepee’d in the potty”. It’s very important to her that we are supportive. She’s two and has this potty training down pretty good, and she does deserve a big high five. She actually was much more conversational (in her 3-word way, of course) than my son. It made me cry buckets.

So for those of you out there who wonder if wives get used to the absence of their husbands? The answer is no. Definitely not.

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Happy Father’s Day

For all the difficulties I may have with being deaf, there is one thing I know for certain. I am always loved, supported, encouraged, and very often inspired by my family. I don’t know if my parents want me to expose all, but let’s just say that I know that they have been married for over thirty years. If that doesn’t inspire, I really don’t know what does.

I know without doubt that if I ever need anything, both my parents will drop everything and come running. They’ve always been that way, and I know they always will.

This is my dad with my oldest, my son.

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My son’s 4th birthday is rapidly approaching and for his party invites, me and my dad took him to a local John Deere vendor who was kind enough to let me photograph my son with the large equipment (my son knows all of the equipment names, but I’m just not as educated). My boy is obviously telling my dad all about the equipment, clearly to my dad’s delight. And no, my dad doesn’t use this equipment, he works on military airplanes. But he still listens to my son with rapt attention.

In dedication to my dad on Father’s Day, I’ve decided to post three things that I remember most about my childhood with him. One would think that one of these memories might include the fact that he, like me, struggled with deafness (which he doesn’t really anymore, good thing!), but when I thought a lot about him as I started typing, I realized that he never let that issue define him. The things I remember most have absolutely nothing to do with that. And I love that.

Of everything I remember, first and foremost is his love for God. When I look back over the course of my entire life, one thing I will never forget about my dad is how he enjoys reading his Bible. I remember so many early Saturday and Sunday mornings that I would find my dad sitting in a chair on the back porch reading his bible while drinking his coffee. I think that picture is ingrained in my head and I don’t even need a photo for it.

I bet he could even recite the books of the Bible, which is something I’ve certainly always failed to get right. Does II Chronicles come before I Chronicles or vice-versa? Kidding! I’m not quite that bad. Or so I like to think.

Second. Dad is very very very slow to anger. Seriously. Although I don’t remember the exact circumstances behind it, I do remember very vividly one time I that made my dad mad. I can’t recall what I did, but I remember going to talk to my dad after it was dark while he was sitting on the bed of a pickup truck. I do know that it’s been ages since he owned a truck, so I can only think that it was a LONG time ago when this happened.

So he was sitting on the truck bed, and I remember talking to him about something, but I can’t remember what it was. He got so incredibly angry with me that he slammed the bed of the truck closed and stormed inside ahead of me. No yelling, no grounding, spanking, or anything remotely close. He slammed something. And that’s as mad as I can ever remember seeing him.

Lastly, the third thing.

This.

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My dad has always, and is always, helping and supporting me in every way imaginable. He helps my son pose for photos, he helps me service my car when I can’t tell the oil from the power steering fluid, he helped me buy my first car, and he helps me by watching the kids when I need a girls’ night out.

When I first uploaded and took a serious look at the picture of my dad and my son, I got all teary-eyed. See, this is how I always remember my dad and his support. Helping me do things I have a hard time doing on my own, and encouraging me to not just do them, but do them well.

I love you, Dad. Thanks for wonderful childhood, and for our friendship I greatly value as adults. You inspire me to be a better person that I am today, something that I hope to one day do for my own children. Happy Father’s Day. You deserve it.

To Do List

Tomorrow my husband leaves on a trip to Albania. On Father’s Day, ironically enough. We’ve decided that I will drive him out to the airport, with both my three year old son and two year old daughter in tow. I’m not really sure what possessed me to agree to taking our kids to the airport with us, but I agreed, so there’s no turning back. My kids absolutely adore my husband, so I’m a little paranoid about the possibility of a long drawn out departure with only myself left to console two toddlers.

You may think it’s weird that I say that my kids love their dad because all kids love their dad, right? Last year my husband and I went on two different trips and left the kiddos with my parents. One trip was a work-related cruise (haha work, cruise, right?) and the other was a week long trip to Cancun, our first trip with just the two of us since before having kids. Upon returning home and greeting the kids, who do you think they run with glee toward? Their dad. I tell myself it’s because I don’t work and they see me all the time. Right.

So tomorrow my husband leaves. For ten days. Ten.

I’ve decided that I will keep us as crazy busy as possible so that the kiddos don’t miss their dad too much and so that my hair stays on my head until he returns. So I’ve made lists of things to do. Lots and lots of things.

1. See a movie at the theater. Shrek 3 or Toy Story 3? Or both? Probably both.
2. Go to a water park. Take loads and loads of sunscreen since I do not plan on turning into a tomato like last week.
3. Visit my parents. Maybe leave them with my parents?
4. Go to the pool. Scratch that. I have a crazy Homeowner’s Association. They deserve a whole blog dedicated to their craziness. I’d refuse to pay my fees if I knew I’d keep my house. So we’ll move instead. Seriously.
5. Visit my parents. Definitely leave the kids.
6. Ride the local mini-train. Scratch that. It’s a hundred degrees outside. Maybe we’ll go get ice cream instead.
7. I think we’ll see another movie since I’m out of ideas already.

I’ll be praying my hair stays intact. I love my kids. I do. But they are two and three and do everything from smearing bowel movements on walls to hand painting with red fingernail polish. Fact of the matter is…? I really shouldn’t be blogging and should go check on them.

Didn’t catch that

I’m not outgoing. At all.

Before I lost my hearing, I wasn’t exactly outgoing, but I could strike up a conversation with someone and didn’t exactly fear conversation as I do now. It’s not that I fear people, or fear of not knowing what to say, but it’s that I fear I won’t understand a word that the person is saying. And it’s usually justified because I can rarely understand what someone says to me the first three times if I’ve never met them or don’t know them really really well.

I don’t even know if fear is the right word. I just hate looking like an idiot, simply because I’m not one. It just appears that way on occasion. Sorta. For instance, a few months ago I had some Jehovah Witness people knock on my door. I think that’s the right names for them, but you know what I mean. White shirts, black slacks and ties, people who talk your ear off trying to convert you to their religion, going through all avenues including arguing with you about what you believe. Those people.

They knocked on my door a while back and my three year old son opened the door before I could tell him not to. As soon as I got to the door, a guy who looked about twenty-ish (white shirt, black tie) launched into a spill about the religion. I have no clue what on earth he was saying, but it seemed like I waited an insanely long time before he took a breath so I could interrupt. I kindly told him I was deaf and that I wasn’t going to be able to understand what he was saying.

Now most of the time people will nod, leave their printed information for me to read, and head to the next house. But this guy launched into the spill again, meaning I had to wait another nine years for him to take another breath. When I interrupted this time, I was a little more earnest in saying that I couldn’t understand anything he said because I couldn’t hear. At all.

And at this point he keeps going. Unbelievable!

I’m a little annoyed by now, since I’ve been standing at my door for about five minutes and am wondering what kind of havoc my kids have imposed upon my house in the time I’ve been here with this guy not understanding what he’s saying. So after he launched into action the third time, I completely interrupt what he saying (while he’s saying it) and say that I really can’t understand him and I’m sorry but I can’t stand here and need to check on my kids. Door in the face. Sorry dude, but you asked.

In the brief moment before I shut the door, I could see the change in him and his other friends as their faces became kind and polite to this girl is crazy weird. I know, I know, it wasn’t my fault that the guy couldn’t take a hint, but you’d really be surprised at how many people that I come across who just simply do not understand what “I can’t hear” means.

Chick-fil-a. I’m standing in line to get food while my mom is about 20 feet away at a table with my two kids. I order two of their kids meals and then I’m trying to order two of their chicken sandwich meals. The woman, probably late twenties, early thirties, asks me something about the chicken sandwich. I kindly asked her to repeat her question, telling her I don’t hear. She repeats it and I still don’t get it. I ask her to repeat it once more, apologizing, and I still can’t understand. I know that it can’t be too important, so I just tell her it doesn’t matter, I just want those regular sandwiches with the fries and specify the type of drink. But she just asks me the question again. I’m sorry I say, I just can’t get it, but she asks the question again.

Now you must realize at this point that it is lunchtime, so I have a few people behind me, waiting their turn. When she wouldn’t stop asking the question, I turn around and try to make eye-contact with my mom, and I see all those people behind me giving me a dirty stare. Ok, dirty might be a little exaggeration. But I can tell by their faces that I’m taking way to long to order and they aren’t particularly happy about it.

So after the fourth or fifth time that she asks me, I turn quick to try and get my mom’s attention, but she’s focused on the kids. The lady taking my order has garnered the attention of the manager on duty, and he tries asking me the question. I tell him that I simply can’t hear and they both stand there not really knowing what to do. I’m about to break down in tears at this point, so I turn around and loudly call my mom’s name (lots of people, so this place is noisy). The two or three tables of people near her are also staring at me at this point, along with all the people in line behind me. Arg!!

My mom is a lifesaver. I love her dearly. And I’m pretty sure she could tell that my emotions were hanging on a very thin thread when she walked up. She completely took charge of the situation, answering the questions that the manager was now asking and the lady punched them all in. One question. Original or spicy.

What I hate most is that these things happen on a day to day basis. It’s easy most of the time to chalk it up to people just not knowing how to deal with someone who is deaf. I should have asked the lady to write it down, but all I could even think after the moment was why didn’t she just give me original?

When it happens so often, there are times when I can just can’t hang on emotionally. Last night I was at a meeting and the speaker asked a question and passed the microphone to the first person to answer. After the person answered, she passed the microphone to the next person, and on down the line as everyone answered. I was next to last, but I had no clue what was being said or even what the question was, so I just passed the microphone to the person after me. Of course everyone was looking directly at me when it was my turn and I made some sort of dumb comment out of sheer embarrassment like sorry, I don’t understand what everyone is discussing.

The meeting goes on, and I slip out after everyone’s attention is focused on the speaker. This stuff happens every day, but sometimes my emotions just snap. I’m not really sad or majorly depressed, but the tears start and I can’t seem to stop them. All I can do is sit in a quiet place, take deep breaths, and wait until my emotions become manageable again.

But the thing is that it’s never really anyone’s fault. The Jehovah Witness dude wasn’t being mean or rude when I couldn’t understand him, but he just didn’t understand what I was saying. The chick-fil-a girl wasn’t mad that I couldn’t understand her, but she did talk a little louder or slower every time, trying to get me to understand, but it was just too hard for me. And even the speaker from last night’s meeting wasn’t at fault. Nor is it my own fault. What I know is that it’s just the reality of living with what I live with. I’m stuck in this rut where I can’t understand sign language, yet I have to work so hard to understand people speaking.

So the point of all of this? Well, it’s just a bunch of rambling of my everyday frustrations. But maybe you leave understanding a little more of the stuff I go through on a day to day basis. No pity party here, I know that there are so many out there who deal with so much, and I’m just one of many. But I keep my head above the water knowing how truly blessed I am with life. My husband, kiddos, and my life-saving mom are just a few of the people I’m so incredibly thankful for.

Looooong week up ahead.

Happy Monday everyone.

This week will fly by in heartbeat. I can feel it. But next week? I have this feeling that it’s going to last a lifetime. Periodically my husband decides to leave me for long periods of time to do humanitarian work. Or that’s what he says he’s doing, but when I look at the pictures it sure does look as though he had way to much fun for it to all be humanitarian work. Although who says that helping people has to be a drag? I guess it doesn’t. Or isn’t.

This is my very handsome, patient (with my hearing problem, but not in traffic), incredibly goofy and just flat out irresistible husband. Scratch that, he’s only irresistible when he’s not tired, cranky, and worn out. At that point he’s pretty resistible. Moving on.

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Next Sunday, which happens to also be Father’s Day, my husband is leaving for ten days. Which means that for ten solid days I have uninterrupted time with a two year old girl and a three year old boy. Now I love my children, but ten days can be a long time to be with them without a whole caboodle of help. Trust me on this. But actually I will admit that I am sending my son to a Vacation Bible School program, meaning I will have three solid hours for five days straight with just one child. This can be a life-saver. Since we’re not discussing my sanity-saving techniques, but my husband’s travel, I shall continue with the previous topic.

Ten days. He’s going here. Elbasan, Albania.

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I’ll try to cram the story into a few paragraphs as to why, but bare with me. This could take a while.

Most people look at my husband and think he’s Hispanic, but I doubt he can count to ten in Spanish. Seriously. My husband’s great grandfather, Fahimeh Mamet (don’t even try to pronounce it), escaped from the poverty stricken country of Albania at just fourteen years of age and immigrated to the United States (don’t worry, we’re all legal).

Decades later his granddaughter, also my husband’s mother, had this huge desire ingrained in her (I tend to think it was God-inspired) to begin a humanitarian work within the country of her heritage. So in very early 1990’s my husband’s father and mother were some of the very first Americans allowed entrance into the post-Communist government of Albania. His parents established what we now call the Mission Base, or a base-camp for all of the relief aid that they would send over the course of many years.

In the year 2000 my husband and I got married, and about a month later his mom passed away after a long battle with cancer. For about eight years following her death, my husband’s father continued the work at the Mission Base , but two years ago he handed the reins to my husband. Note that my husband definitely doesn’t do it alone. His brothers and many other friends and family who have traveled to the nation over the years still give generously to ensure that the Mission Base is a place to give to those who need so much.

Take a look at this guy and his daughter.

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This is Irfan and Fabjola Toska. Irfan is the guy who my husband’s parents coordinated all of this humanitarian work with from the very first trip. So many things have changed since day one, but this man has remained dedicated to helping the people of his country for nearly two decades now. His wife makes the best baklava I have ever tasted and his daughter is the interpreter. Obviously we’re seriously lacking in updated pictures of the Toska family, something we hope to remedy when my husband travels there.

Next Sunday, June 20th, my husband makes his second trip to Albania, nearly 16 years after his original trip with his father. I’m so excited that he’s able to return and refresh his memory of how important this humanitarian effort really is. I’d love to think that I’m dreading next week because I’m going to miss him so much (and I will miss him), but mostly I’m just wishing I could go with him. It’s one thing to be able to give financially, but completely something else to see the faces of the people whose lives are being changed. Let me stop before I cry.

I know there are lots of you out there whom I don’t know personally in this virtual meeting of minds, and if you would like to be a part of what we are doing in Albania, you can click here to give. One hundred percent goes directly to Albania (minus the 3% fee that our lovely American banks claim for credit card use), and all of it is tax deductible.

Dear Handsome Husband: I know you’ll fall in love with Albania all over again, but you must return to your wife. For sanity’s sake.

Postponing Life

I feel like I keep postponing everything in life for my surgery.

For the last entire year, I’ve been working with a government assistance program getting approval for funding my surgery to receive a Cochlear Implant. I’ve been approved yes, but my caseworker has yet to request the actual funds, nor has the surgery been scheduled. Heck, I doubt they’ve even looked at the calendar.

It’s frustrating because I want to just feel sorry for myself. My caseworker sitting at her desk (who is busy doing…..what?) doesn’t seem to understand that every day I don’t have my surgery, is another day that I can’t work. It’s another day I don’t hear my daughter or my son, and another day that my husband and I go through extremes to be able to adequately communicate with each other.

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This place is just breathtaking, isn’t it?

My husband and I will celebrate our 10 year anniversary on September 23rd of this year. Our plans for the past year have been to visit England. My husband isn’t much of a museum fanatic, and while we do plan on visiting a few, we want to have a big adventure to celebrate our milestone. We’re renting a car upon arrival (scary, I know), attempting the whole drive-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-road ordeal, and we’re really going to see England. Think road trip!

I’ve been so excited for so long, but I’m fairly certain now that the whole trip will be postponed.
*Big sigh*

Maybe I’m being a little selfish, but I want more than just a trip for us. I want us to be able to talk and laugh with each other with ease for the first time again in years. I want to be overwhelmed by not just all the beautiful sights, but the unending sounds too. I don’t want to have to work so hard to enjoy myself and understand the things going on around me. I want to just be able to relax and take it all in one moment at a time.

I know all I hear is Me, Me, Me. I guess it’s a conversation I’ll have to have with my husband whether we postpone or not. But I think I know what he’ll say.

Three years ago when my little boy was just a year old, I remember being in my large master bathroom, putting make-up on, getting dressed, about to go somewhere or another. My husband was standing at his sink, messing with his hair, and I was telling him I had made the decision that it was time for me to get hearing aids. I couldn’t hear my son laugh anymore, I couldn’t hear my newborn daughter cry, and it just broke my heart.

Being the quick-witted person he always is, my husband makes a jab saying, “What? You didn’t think about me?”

We both laughed, he made a few more quick jokes, but it hit me in the gut. Have you ever tripped and fallen to your bottom so hard that it knocks the wind from you? That’s kind of how I felt right then. My husband is a joker, always the life-of-the-party type of guy, and although he made light of the issue, I felt like it actually smacked me in the face. We had been married a full five five years before having my son and a six years before we had that short conversation, but I wonder in all those years if I had ever thought about the effects my loss of hearing had on not just myself, but on him too. How much could it affect a male ego, especially his, to live for making people laugh, only to have to say a comment three times before your wife understands it? Maybe I’m making a bigger issue of it than it actually is, but I remember that day in our bathroom as a turning point for me. I do what I can to be aware of how much this affects my family as a whole, how much it affects my marriage, and not just how it affects me.

But this beautiful place?

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I find that I want to share it with my husband in a time in our lives when communication with each other will be easier. I want us to talk and laugh and revisit those few care-free times at the beginning of our marriage when conversing with each other was easy.

I heard just the other day that a couple who had been married for forty years were separating and I just can’t imagine that. I think about my husband and I, all the momentous difficulties we’ve had, but I see how much we’ve both grown from it. Only I see that we’ve grown together and not apart. And that’s what I want this trip to celebrate. It’s not the ten years of still being married that matters. Anyone can survive numbers. It’s that we’re still enjoying each other after ten solid years. No matter what has hit us, we’re still together pushing through it.

So whether it’s October when we we’re planning to go, or next spring, England will still be around when we celebrate a new beginning to our togetherness. And I plan on understanding every word of it.