Friday, February 29, 2008

Where to start?

The BED...count 'em....10 PILLOWS!! A record!!

View from my hotel room

View of Bourbon Street from my room

Another view out of my room (towards the river)

Angie...riding the bull that I was too chicken (or was that drunk) to ride!

From the balcony where we had lunch on Monday...corner of Canal and Bourbon streets

The Oceana Grill
The Famous Door
My feet on the right...and Joe's on the left. :-)

Some our group dancing...

Unknown EHDI lady, Janet (who I presented with) and Leanne
Mark...the closing plenary and a small harem of women! LOL!

Jazz dog
I loved this sign..and the swining legs to the left of it.

I really struggled where to start this post. Should I start with the awards reception from last night or should I back track to New Orleans. New Orleans won.

I left Grand Rapids on Sunday morning. When I was waiting at the gate, I realized that one of our EHDI program people was on my flights. Pretty cool. We were 20 minutes late taking off and I was a bit worried as we only had 40 minutes between flights once we arrived in Memphis. Memphis airport is nothing to write home about. Typical aging gates. I did however make it to the plane on time. I sat next to the Chapter Champion from Indiana (Hi Betsy!) and we had a nice time talking and shared a cab to the hotel. When we arrived, the hotel was in the process of being emptied by hundreds of college students. Most rooms weren't ready. Lucky for me Betsy let me freshen up in her room (that was ready!) and I manage to find Janet and Stephanie for lunch and a nice walk around New Orleans. We went to Cafe De Monde for beignets and lattes. It was just beautiful outside. Sunny, nice little breeze...quite a change from the doom and gloom snow of MI. After our walk and shopping, we headed back to the hotel. Janet and Stephanie had meetings and I took a nap. I was soooo tired.

Janet and I met before her 2nd meeting to set up the Hands and Voices booth. I met a super coolio guy from IL named Joe. Joe is a CODA (children of deaf adults). He was really fun and we ended up hanging out on Monday night. He and I have totally different views on hearing loss (we agree on everything, but he has the perspective of Anna's future kids) and it was great to share stories. Sunday night was filled with dinner at a place called Coop's Place and I had a wonderful meal called Pasta Opelousas (Shrimp, tasso, boneless chicken, Creole green beans, & shiitake mushrooms sauteed in a garlicky alfredo base, lightened with wine. Tasso being like a ham.) Funny sidebar...Opelousas is a city where Cal-Chlor has a plant, like the one that Wayne works at. Was the reason I ordered that pasta!! ;-)

After Coop's we walked to The Famous Door for dancing. Dancing. Anyone who knows me in a previous life (aka before kids) knows that I love to dance. Used to spend every Friday night dancing at a place called Tiki. (Long story...but I met Wayne there and a few ex's too!) Anyways...The Famous Door had live bands jamming to classic 70's/80's tunes. Not really my style, but I enjoyed being with all the ladies none the less. After awhile it got too loud and John (who works for the CDC and the sweetest guy alive!) walked me back to the hotel. Once we got back we ran into Darryl who wanted to check out the place that had bull riding (you know, the mechanical kind) so John and I trek down the block there. Oh yeah...did I mention that I had 7 beers that night? LOL! I never ever drink. No I didn't ride the bull. But had a great time watching others. John escorted me back to my room around 2:00am (central time, which is 3am EST!). I had to be up by 7:00, so I was pooped.

The conference was amazing. I totally get to "geek out" with all the other parents and professionals. There's nothing like talking decibels, cochleas, genetics, grief, hearing aids, technology, and all that other good stuff with people who know what it means. (Right, Kate?!) I love all of that. Makes me feel like my family is more normal. I met some great parents and hope to keep in contact with them. Like I said, after spending time with other parents, you realize that you are not alone that we all struggle. One of the things that I mentioned to Janet was that I feel like when I'm at home, I have to wear my Super Mom cape when I'm secretly falling apart on the inside. She totally validated how I felt and that it's ok to have those days where things just fall apart. It's part of learning. Our presentation went well and we had lots of people in it. (That always worries me for some reason.) The guy that was the closing speaker, sat in! I was so honored. Mark was so cool and I'm glad I listened to his presentation.

Monday night was a little more...SOBER. LOL! I had one beer. We had another great dinner at a place called Oceana Grill. I had Jambalaya. Not as good as I remember my Aunt Norma's but still not a bad dinner. At least I was back in bed before midnight. :-)

Tuesday night was nice. COLD. But nice. Elizabeth, Chris, Sherry and I went for a walk and did a bit of shopping for our kids/friends. I got cold too quick and went back to the room. I was tired and needed to pack. I got home Wednesday without a hitch. Kids were glad to see me as was Wayne. I was happy to see them as well. Never know how much you miss someone until you're apart from them.

EHDI 2009 is in Dallas, TX. Anna is really excited. She's the poster child (in my opinion) as to how well the system can work. EHDI has a 1, 3, 6 timeline. Identify by 1 month, amplification by 3 months and early intervention by 6 months. We were pretty close to that. I look back and think I worried for nothing, but I believe that that worry pushed me into making sure that Anna got everything she needed. Everyday that she comes home from school with good grades or just has a good day with anything related to hearing or speech, I feel so LUCKY and GRATEFUL. Somewhere along the ways, people decided that we needed to test babies hearing. Had Anna not been tested at birth, we would have never known about her hearing until she was much older. That changes the whole game. Using her hearing aids are so much a part of her, that she doesn't see them as separate from her. It's like having blue eyes or brown hair. Anna is who she is and I can't imagine her any other way. She's continues to surprise me and challenge my views on what people that are hard of hearing can or can't do. I love her so very much.