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Mar 27, 2011

Sweet Joys

Tonight, after midnight, I got a text from upstairs.  Finnley kept saying to his mom, "My Ann, go see my Ann....."  She finally texted me to see if he could come see me.  Of course he could!  When his mom told him he could see me, he got so excited.  I went upstairs to get him, and he immediately hugged me and started snuggling.  Before I even sat down im my chair downstairs, yet still snuggling against me, he was out!  It's such sweet joy for me to have this little one in my life.  Everyone used to say, he has me wrapped around his little finger.  Once he got old enough to run, walk, and talk; it became clear that I have him wrapped around my little finger as well.  I obviously love it our little mutual admiration society! :)  The picture above is less than flattering of me, but I share it, after all, isn't that such a sweet little innocent face? :)

Mar 4, 2011

Can You Feel The Joy?

There's not a lot of words that are needed for this video. Just look at each face there and the joy they show. Here they are, the young and the old, living the miracle. At 2:43 into the film, you'll see me and my friends. Right after us, you see the engineer who designed my cochlear implant, followed by Dr. Graeme Clark who's dream of helping his deaf father lead him to creating the cochlear implant! This video brings back memories of the good times, as well as tears of joy and gratitude to my two heroes.

Cochlear Celebration

Ahhhh, Celebration....How do I love thee, let me count the ways! :)  Seriously though, Cochlear Celebrations are counted among the highlights of my life.  I'll give you a little mini taste of Cochlear Celebration.

The opening event of every even is the Opening Social on the first evening.  Here you have people from all over the country gathering together and getting to know each other.  You meet people for the first time (as my friends Diane and Debra are doing at this table), socialize and get to know a little about each other.  It's great fun to start to build connections to others who are living the miracle of sound.

 The opening session of every Cochlear Celebration I've attended is begun by Chris Smith, the CEO of Cochlear Celebration.  I do enjoy the chance to hear from those who lead this great company.

Here is Jim Patrick speaking in the opening session.  Jim is one of my three heroes from Australia.  The cochlear implant was created by Dr. Graeme Clark in Australia.  Jim was his first employee and the engineering genius who created this marvelous miraculous machine I wear behind my ears.  The last hero is Rod Saunders, who has passed away.  He is the first cochlear implantee who tested this device for Dr. Clark and Jim.  I love getting a chance to sit and chat with my hero Jim in both of the Celebrations I've attended.  He's truly a humble man for someone who has done such great things.

Here is a view of what we see when we first walk into the opening sessions.  For me, waiting for Chris to get up and officially open, looking at this view up front is positively electrifying and exciting!  Let the fun begin! :)

Here I am with two of my favorite men at Cochlear Celebration.  On my right is Mark , one of the upper level managers at Cochlear from Texas.  He was the person who trained me to be a volunteer some years ago (when they used to fly volunteers to Colorado for training).  He was also the first person to be implanted bilaterally.  To my left is David!  David has one of those spirits about him that he is genuinely loved by all.  He too works for Cochlear.  He works in their shipping department in Colorado.  It's always fun to me to order batteries, filters or other parts for my cochlear implant, and then see a little smiley face and a signature from David, saying "Hi" to me!  I always hope he's the one that sends me whatever parts I'm ordering.  David is also the kind of man that is loved by all.  The kids at that are at Cochlear are genuinely drawn to him.  He is known for giving the best hugs around.  All the employees at of Cochlear truly ROCK!

Cochlear tends to spend an evening having a special event of some sort for those that volunteer.  Here I am sitting between two Linda's at a special happy hour type of event for the volunteers.  Linda who traveled with me from Utah, is in the foreground, and then Linda Day, another awesome Cochlear employee, who is the Volunteer manager from California is sitting right next to me.  On the other side of the table are two volunteers from Washington. 

You can count on Cochlear Celebration to have a great keynote speaker at the opening session.  Here we were fortunate to hear from Tom Sullivan, a blind singer/actor/author.  He spoke and sang to us.  It was truly touching and reminded us of our own miracle as we listened to him tell us how truly jealous of us he was.  He would give anything in his life to be able to see his wife, just to be able to see.  And here we all are able to hear.  He was inspiring and touching.  At one point the lights dimmed and he asked us to close our eyes as he took us through a morning run with him.  Of course we all had our eyes open to read CART, but the lights were dim and we went on a morning run.  It was astounding to see the world through his ears.  Sounds became even more precious as we experienced it through him.

 During his talk, Tom made the statement that I quickly got my phone out and took a picture of before it disappeared from CART.  I realized the instant he said it, how truly profound it was.  If you can't read it, click on the picture and it will enlarge so you can.  It helped me realize how much I have to focus on the here and now, the joys and potential of the here, rather than dwell on the past.
There is always an evening at Disney or a local attraction.  Hollywood Studios was closed down early on Saturday night.  We ate dinner on the streets of Hollywood studio.  After dinner, we walked to where the giant Mickey Mouse hat was lit up.  We watched as fireworks erupted from it.  Then we were able to ride the roller coaster and the Tower of Terror as many times as we wanted.  On the "streets" of Hollywood, near these rides, there was music, a street dance and entertainment.  Truly and enjoyable evening just for us!
Before we know it, the closing session arrives.  Chris Smith CEO shows us the joy of our time here when he bounds onto the stage in a feather boa with Mickey Mouse hands! :)  After his speech, we get the opportunity to be introduced to and hear from this year's Graeme Clark Scholarship winners.  A friend of mine from Utah was awarded this scholarship three years ago.  I hope someday to see another young many from Utah up on the stage with a scholarship.  His name is Chance (a hint to his parents if they're reading this!) :)  After the scholarship winners speak, we all wait for THE ANNOUNCEMENT!  Where will the next Cochlear Celebration be.

 Whoo Hoo!  February 2013, I'll be there in San Diego, celebrating once again.  The minute this announcement popped up on the screen, I snapped a picture and texted and emailed it to a couple of friends on my PDA, telling them I want to see them there with us at the next one and to start saving!

Another Celebration ends, and my dreams for the next Celebration begin anew!  Cochlear Celebration 2013, here I come! :)

Florida Fun

Time has really flown by.  It is already almost two weeks since I got back from my trip to Florida.  I intended to start blogging again immediately after my return.  Instead, I hit the ground running, and I'm only just now pausing to reflect and post!  I decided the easiest way to talk about my Florida trip is to start by sharing pictures.  Alas, I discovered that on a scale of 1 to 10, I would probably rate at about a 3 in picking good pictures and opportunities to photograph.    Some pictures left me wondering why I took them in the first place.  Others I still enjoyed.!  Below are some of the pictures I enjoyed.

I spent the first three days of my trips visiting three of the parks.  I'm struggling to remember where I found this landscaping.  I believe it was Hollywood Studios, but I could be wrong.  Oh wait, I think it might have been Epcot.  One thing I know for sure?  It was in Florida! :)   I did take this picture as I liked the whimsy of the brooms, although Micky Mouse didn't quite fit into the theme being created by the broomsticks, in my opinion.

This is a tree in the Animal Park (Wild Animal Park?  I'm actually forgetting the exact name...some memory I have.  Like a steel trap, eh?)  I found this tree rather fascinating due to all the carving done along the tree trunk.  I have added another view, from another side of the tree further on down below.

It was quite a sight to see these trees and realize the sheer numbers of birds were in them.  I really need to get out a good bird book and figure out exactly what kind of bird they are.  While on the "African Safari" I heard the announcer talking about how these birds are native to the area.  However, I missed the name of them.  Of course I don't have a closeup, so I can ask  my readers if anyone knows.  Oh well.....a photographic wizard would've thought to get that one!   If you can't see the birds, click on the picture to get an enlarged view.

Here's a picture taken during the safari of my good friends Diane and Debra.  Or should I say Debra and Diane, since Debra is more in the foreground and Diane is in the background.  Sorry Diane, I know you should really be the star of the picture and be in the foreground!  (Yes, I do like to tease Diane on occasion).

When I saw this, I had to keep reminding myself that I was in Florida, not California.  I'd never been in Florida before, and I still have a hard time feeling that I've ever been to Florida.  Throughout the trip, both in climate, palm trees, and Disney World attractions, I was SURE I was in California!  

This plant landscaping from The Lady and The Tramp (if I have the title right) was quite cute.  So I snapped a little picture to share! :)

The funny thing about this picture, is I really wasn't sure who the "non-human" characters were!  The humans of course were my Utah friends that traveled to Florida for Cochlear Celebration with me.  You see me, Diane, Debra and Linda.  It wasn't until I got home and showed the picture to my little two year old that I knew for sure who I had posed with.  I was informed it was Pluto (not Goofy like I'd thought), and I was with Daffy Duck, not Scrooge Duck or some of the other Duck characters.  I think I flunk cartoons!  Of course what else would you expect from someone who grew up before captioning, and couldn't lipread cartoons?

Here we have my traveling companions posing with Mickey and Minnie Mouse.  I better go ask my 2 year old, Finn if it's Goofy or Pluto there.  He might know! :)

One thing I always wanted to do in Disneyland and never did, was ride the the riverboat.  I thoroughly enjoyed going for my first riverboat ride in Disney World.  Here's the top portion of the boat taken while on board.  OK, if I was a good sailor, I'd probably tell you this is the port or the bow or some such nautical term.  Sadly, I forget the difference between all the boat parts as soon as I hear them.  So, front portion of the riverboat works for me! :)

This was taken at Hollywood Studios.  Notice, in the background they have the unique Mickey Mouse water tower.  Then in the foreground they have the "landscaped" water tower.  I thought it was interesting!  Hence my choice of photographic subject.  (I'm still going through this internal dialogue in my head that's saying, OK your choice of material ranks you as a three on a scale of 1 to 10, and I catch myself defending taking the picture!)

In Hollywood Studios, I had the chance to engage myself fully in folly and grab a little Fred Astaire magic and dance in the rain.  Can you see my inner Fred spirit? :)

Here is a different attempt at taking a clear picture of the tree that fascinated me, which I showed several pictures above.  I realize a less tired blogger, might take the time to rearrange the order of photos so it's just below the other photo.  Enjoy scrolling way up above to find the other picture to compare it to! :)

Manna from heaven!  The only thing missing from this picture is the word Diet!  Being a diet coke addict, I had to take this picture! :)    

Probably one of the things I enjoyed amidst all the bustle of amusement parks, convention, friends and etc. was the still quiet morning breakfast outside by this lake at my hotel.  THAT was pleasure my friends!

After a pleasant and full week enjoying the 70 degree temperatures in Florida, I finally got on the airplane and flew back to winter.  Now, I just get to enjoy the memories!