Cloud 9 With Chance of Bunnies

Tipped my head in Ladybug’s direction, talking to my wife. “She said earlier today, ‘when we move to our new house can we pleaaaaase have a compost?’”

The eavesdropping Ladybug jumped forward and launched into her reasons why she wants a compost, which is admittedly fantastic and shows she’s a better environmentalist than I am.

“Should we tell them about the rabbits?” my wife asked. I nodded.

So then Wifey started talking with the kids about what else is good for composts, like, say, rabbit poo. Then we told the kids we’re gonna have to get some rabbits. One apiece.

Their eyes popped out of their heads, and it looked kinda like this:

photo of kids, rabbits, cloudy sky

Kids with rabbits for eyes, how unscary is that?

I shouldn’t have been surprised then when they took off into the sky like a pair of rockets. Luckily I had a lasso handy, and managed to rope them in time. Not so luckily, they took me up into the sky. And me without a pilot’s uniform. What an injustice.

“Slow down!” I shouted. “It’s just rabbits we’re getting you!”

But Cricket chimed in right then, having missed the plural in my earlier description,saying, “You mean we each get one!? I get my OWN rabbit?”

“That’s right,” I replied, holding tightly onto the rope as they picked up speed and we zoomed across the sky, heading east. I saw California fall away quickly, then one state after another. Faster and faster we flew, with the kids madly grinning and pink fluffy cotton-tailed hearts left in our wake.

I get my OWN rabbit?

So we soared around the planet as the kids peppered me with countless questions about their future pets.

“Look, can we go home now?” I asked. The kids nodded in unison, satisfied and beginning to calm down enough to reduce speed. They pointed in the direction of home and dragged me across the sky.

Finally we crashed through the roof and I landed here on the couch. My hands are tired. Holding onto a rope while zooming across the sky explaining rabbits requires an abundance of energy.

I’ll let my kids go on dreaming up rabbit names and thinking up rabbit plans while I recuperate. A few months from now, we’ll make that all a reality. Hopefully next time I can stay grounded.

Unidentified Flying Orange

{An orange flying through space looking like a UFO}Went to Farmers’ market this morning, with the kiddos in tow. Got some leeks, Romaine, free range eggs -sadly, the white- and a trio of Greek delicacies including the necessary dolmas.

Out of nowhere, a large orange flew at my head, smacking me right in the middle of my forehead. Then it hovered in mid-air, spinning like some kind of micro-planet detached from its normal rotation.

The orange darted left, then right, then up, and then down. My eyes tired already, so I said, “What’s with you?”

The Greek vendors looked at me like I was crazy. But hey, I’m not an unidentified flying orange, I’m only seeing one.

The orange bounced through the air haphazardly over to a further table, with the three of us following after it. By this time, the kiddos had seen it as well and were entranced, jaws dropped and drool threatening to emerge. I think it was just that they wanted the orange, since the regular OJ guy had already shut his booth down.

The orange led us to the alien. His large head resembled a bulb of garlic. His eyes were as dark as what I’d imagine black holes would be, tinged with blues and greys along the circumference. Lovely, really.

He was reeling the orange in with some kind of laser-lined fishing pole. Got us, hook, laser line, and sinker.

“I knew it,” I said. “Farmers’ market has every sort. Even aliens.”

He nodded a sideways nod, which was a little odd, then spoke. I couldn’t make heads or tails or antennae out of whatever he said, being that I have no experience in lip-reading aliens.

“Deaf,” I said, pointing to my ears.

Thankfully, the alien got it right away and began to sign in ASL.

“Oranges. 6 for a dollar. P-L-U-T-O-N-I-A-N. Delicious!” he signed in flawless ASL. Actually, his ASL skills were far better than mine, I realized with some resentment.

So I bought the half dozen Plutonian oranges, forking over the buck and a word of advice: “Next time, don’t aim for the head.”

I think I’m going to go make some juice.

The Daddy Pooh

He squeezes the bear as if the act with bring it to life. It is older than he is, because it was my Winnie the Pooh once upon a time when I was still a child. There’s something special about having a stuffed bear that is older than you are.

I gave Winnie to Cricket gladly, last year, with one caveat: Take care of him.

He treats him like a treasure, exactly as I’d like. He holds my memories in his arms.

“Love your Pooh Bear?” I ask.

“My Daddy Pooh Bear,” he says, throwing me a smile.

Leaving childhood far behind is made so much easier by having the privilege of being there for his and his sister’s childhood. I am blessed with two children who know the value of a stuffed animal.

Status

Snapshot: Catch

He comes out of his room bearing two mitts, a pink ball, and hope written in his expression.

“Play catch with me?”

I am tired, mentally and physically, and I’ve just sat down on the couch to relax. But there is so much hope in those eyes and in that simple request. I am reminded of the countless times he asks me to play this game or that game or anything else, and how I often say, “not this time.”

“Sure,” I say, dragging myself outside.¬† Continue reading

Repeating A Grade Can Be Good News

A few months ago, my wife figured out that our adopted son started school a year earlier than he should have, placed into Kindergarten by his foster parents before he ever moved into our home. When we first brought him home, he was in 1st grade by then.

He was barely literate at the time. Struggling to read even basic picture books. A year and a half has passed since then, and he is doing fantastic. Yet he still felt bad about himself. He was comparing himself to the other kids in the grade he was in. Last year in 1st grade and this year in 2nd, he’s compared himself. No matter how much we try to get him to not compare, he does it. Continue reading

Aside

The Goblin Road available for purchase

jessecover2I have decided, after a lot of thought, to make The Goblin Road available for purchase again through Createspace.com and Amazon. Perhaps one day, I’ll find a more permanent home for this novel. It’s my first (ahem, complete) novel, so it has a cozy little nook in my brain. Ouch.

If you want a paperback, because paperbacks are just so good to hold, order it HERE.

If you want a kindle version, you can get that on Amazon. Saves trees, but less cool.

If you want an autographed version, well, e-mail me. I may be willing to drag myself over to the post office. Because, you know, I like you people. Well, most of you. The ones that buy my book.

Meanwhile, I will go back to working on the sequel, one sentence at a time.

 

Snapshot: The Tea Maker

Cricket’s got into the habit lately of begging me to be able to make me a cup of tea. So I relented. You know, because I care. I don’t want his childhood memories to be of being deprived of the privilege of making Daddy a cup of tea. Totally unselfish.

He drags a stepping stool over to the cupboard and selects the Daddy cup. Fills it halfway with water, because any more than that will lead to puddles. He drags the stool to the other side of the kitchen and pulls out the box of assorted teas. He’s not ready for the tins of Joy’s Teaspoon loose leaf, but I will remedy that, because I don’t want to hold him back. He sniffs a packet of Twinnings Irish Breakfast and, satisfied with the scent, puts it on the counter. Continue reading

ASL Students Fully Engaging

At just about every deaf social event I go to, there are ASL students. I am one of many deaf community members that really welcome ASL students to our events. I wanted to write this post as an encouraging one for these students.

I see most of you sitting on the sidelines. Perhaps it is shyness, perhaps it is fear. Probably it’s that and more, that keep you lurking on the edges of the tables and in the corners, away from the deaf community you came to interact with.

Your coming to the events are a fantastic step. I have a few suggestions for taking this a little bit further. If you truly want to be able to have a deep conversation unlimited by your skills, then taking such steps will get you there faster. While the speed at which you learn ASL is not the most important aspect, if you find your progress slow, then you’re more likely to give it up.

I don’t want you to be one of the countless people that tell me, “oh I forgot everything I learned.”

Here’s my recommendations:

1) Don’t sit with each other. Sit with deaf signers. Immerse yourself in the environment. Your fellow ASL students, while great for giving social support, can be a hindrance. When I see ASL students sitting together, I see chatting with voices and little to no sign language. That’s not the best way to build on your skills.

2) Be willing to ask questions of deaf attendees. If you get an attitude from the ones that don’t want to spend time talking to beginning ASL students, then either persevere or find someone kinder.

3) Share information about yourself. Your interests, your passions, your dreams. We can be as curious about you as you are about us.

4) Take notes of new signs that you learn and practice them at home. Come back next time with a larger vocabulary.

5) Avoid using your voice, if it’s not needed. Especially with each other.

6) Don’t pretend to understand something. If I ask a question, and you don’t understand, then tell me that. I’ll gladly repeat it.

7) Show up more often. Going to one event once in a while just to satisfy your requirement for ASL class is not going to be as beneficial as grabbing every opportunity you have to attend these deaf events and grow in your ASL skills.

8) Find a buddy to practice with outside of these events. Bring your buddy with you. Compare notes after.

9) Don’t stay in the same seat all night. Move around and meet a variety of deaf attendees. We don’t all sign the same.

10) Ask for help. If you feel like a wallflower and you want someone to help by introducing you, for example, then ask someone. Some of us would be glad to give you a few quick introductions, and then you can take it from there.

11) Make deaf friends. Include these deaf friends in your other socials. If you’re having a board game night, for example, you can invite a deaf friend to join. You could teach your hearing friends basic signs that they can use in the game. In this way, you’re being inclusive, and you are connecting with the deaf community on a deeper level.

You started taking ASL for a reason. Maybe it’s just for fun, or maybe you want to know ASL for a career choice. Either way, if you’re going to learn the language, then you’re going to want to use it with the people that are fluent.

We’re glad you’re taking ASL. We want everyone to know ASL, at least in America. We don’t want you to forget what you learned or give up after a semester or two because you don’t have anyone to practice with. We especially don’t want you to finish 4 years of ASL to become a good signer, only to gradually forget most of it over the next decade because of a perceived lack of opportunity to practice. The opportunities are there, you only need to take them.

Holographic Interpreters and Google CC Glasses

The title says it: the two inventions that need to happen right away for the deaf community.

We really just want to understand what is being said around us. Imagine, if someone who uses American Sign Language as his primary mode of communication was able to press a button on a smart phone or a smart watch or a smart toothpick, and a holographic interpreter popped into existence?

“Ready for interpretation?” asks the interpreter, who is entirely composed of light. Continue reading

Sibling Rivalry

My dear fellow parents,

Gladly, I will accept your two cents or more on any successful methods you’ve used in reducing sibling rivalry, at least the severity and frequency of it. As someone who once was not a parent, but still had ideas about parenting, I really do feel now that it makes a tremendous difference having kids and being able to implement all those ideas. What I thought back in those pre-parenting days would have worked, hasn’t always. Sometimes we come up with ideas that we wouldn’t have had until we had kids.

Share your wealth of experience, please. Continue reading

Deaf Driver

Apparently, as I was driving off on an errand, the postman was honking his horn at me to get me to stop for a large package. I obviously didn’t hear, being profoundly deaf, so he went to the door and my wife answered.

He mentioned his having uselessly honked and my obliviousness to the ruckus, so my wife said, “yeah, he’s completely Deaf!”

And then comes: “and THEY let him drive?!” Continue reading

The Conversation Book

The first time I met my son, he was 6 years old and walked into the room to meet us, his prospective parents. He said, “My day was yellow. I had a yellow day.”

It was my wife that told me this, in American Sign Language, because I couldn’t yet lip-read him, and he hadn’t begun to learn to sign. A yellow day meant he was at the color-coded level yellow at school, meaning only one warning for behavior. He didn’t know he was meeting prospective parents. He thought he was in trouble and we were there to scold him or something. Continue reading

Writing Stuff

My imagination has a short attention span. I’ve enjoyed having a powerful imagination throughout most of my life, but I definitely think that there’s flaws to it, and the biggest is that it doesn’t seem to last very long for any topic. This is why I get wrapped up in writing a lot about various things, going through phases, then stopping cold when my imagination seizes up and has nothing to give me. I would be mid-project as well, such as my ongoing sequel to The Goblin Road, and my brain would lock up. Continue reading

ASL For a Stick of Gum

I will not have a communication barrier present in my own house if it can be prevented.

I want the kind of parent-child relationship which includes deep conversations about life. I want to know what my kids think and feel without having to guess at what they’re saying. I want to know familiarize myself with their fears, their hopes, and their dreams. If I rely on lip-reading, I will miss so much of what is spoken. Although it is not always the case, a relationship without communication can be lacking in depth. Continue reading

Deaf Dad

Once, I was pulled over on the road for a burnt-out tail-light. Upon finding out that I was deaf, the police officer wanted to confiscate my driver license. “Deaf people can’t drive,” he said. Oh, but they can, and they can drive well. They can also drive poorly. Just like hearing people, we have all degrees of skill. Being deaf, though, we know to watch carefully for ambulances. We know, also, to watch for police officers who want to pull us over for burn-out tail-lights. Continue reading

Rye

In my kitchen, a clear cylindrical tupperware sits on the counter. Inside is a rising loaf of rye bread.

Though the wafting scent of yeast and rye is delicious to smell, I cannot predict how the bread will taste and feel. I have never attempted to make rye bread, perhaps intimidated by the idea. In the grocery store a few months ago, I spied the bag of rye flour sitting on a shelf in the midst of abundant choices. I thought, Why not?

Many times since then, I have glanced at that bag nestled in my own shelf in between the baking powder and a bag of cloyingly sweet coffee, which I have yet to toss in the trash. I thought, today is the day.

Why I procrastinated is not immediately clear, but I suspect fear of failure is the culprit. Not an intense fear, but a subtle and unimportant fear that prompts me to stick with familiar breads. I know how to whip up a savory loaf of white bread with cheese and jalapenos or even a challah, but when I depart from the comfortable territory of white flour, I am uncertain.

Bread is an art that I have not mastered. I am, after more than a decade of practice, still a novice. I have never successfully baked a loaf of bread that would be ideal for sandwiches; my bread cries out for butter and would be pleased with honey on top.

As I try to improve as a human being in various aspects of life, I also want to regularly attend to this art. The comfort zone is self-imposed limitation. How can I fly if I clip my wings?

Today I grabbed that bag off the shelf and opened it before doubt could muddle my thoughts. Within a few breaths, I had everything set out and began to mix my ingredients. Cricket, my little boy, climbed up onto the kitchen stool and hunkered over the counter. Staring at the yeast floating in its honeyed water, he asked “What is that?” once again as he usually does.

“It is yeast,” I replied.

It is a medium, I thought.

“Tiny creatures!” said Cricket.

When the yeast mixture had visibility started its process of fermenting the sugars from the honey in the water, I poured it in the rye flour and began to mix.

When I was kneading the dough, I thought about how tasty it might be, if it manifests into the bread I want. I also thought,¬†Even if it doesn’t work out, I tried.

For now I will sit and breathe in the already perfect rye-scented air, content for these moments before the loaf is done.

Fatherhood by Adoption

Soon, we will adopt our second child, a lovable and huggable little six-year-old boy, the one I’ve called Cricket here on my blog. I am awash with love for this boy and the daughter we adopted two and a half years ago.

Adoption has made it possible for me to become a Dad, a role that I find to be one of my greatest blessings in life. Only being a husband has equaled the deep and unyielding sense of fulfillment that being a dad has given me. In family, I am blessed. They are my riches. Continue reading