Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Super Bowl

I remember reading an essay years ago by Steve, the star of the children's TV show "Blues Clues". He talked about the funny things related to being "fame-ish" - that is, famous with a small subset of people. In his case, toddlers and their mothers. He would walk around New York City like a normal person, nobody recognizing him, until some kid and his mother were seen staring awkwardly, not sure if that really was Steve. He claimed it was an interesting life.

This weekend, one of our friends became fame-ish! She was the interpreter for the Super Bowl halftime show. It was a big break for her career, and we were so excited for her, but honestly, weren't sure we wanted to watch the show because of the other performers - Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. They don't always...wear enough clothing... But, Sunday night came around and Marriner was out helping people with Lige. So Ellis and I decided to watch our friend. She was GREAT! It was so fun to watch her! I wish I could have said the same for the rest of the show - it was horrible. So much sex. So little clothing. I felt really ashamed for them.

The next day was full of discussion on the internet. Turns out I wasn't the only prude in the crowd. I was surprised at the defenses of the show. "What did you expect? If you didn't want to watch the sort of show they put on, you should have changed the channel." The thing is, we used to have standards for shows that were during times when families were watching.

Anyway, I won't write my imagined Washington Post opinion article about why trashy halftime shows are wrong here. Anyone who reads this blog agrees with me, anyway. But all that is to say I'm sorry I can't share the video of my talented friend. It's ridiculous to me that part of the Super Bowl was THAT offensive, but it really was just awful.

Oh yeah, and then there was that OTHER awful part of the Super Bowl...for some reason that I can not understand, the Super Bowl has an ASL interpreter during the national anthem, but they can't seem to figure out that if you don't show the ASL on camera, it doesn't do anyone any good. For the second year in a row, the interpreter has performed all by themselves with no audience except for a little 20 second spot. This year, Fox Sports said they would have a committed camera for the ASL interpreter. But I guess they forgot to tell the cameraman? Because halfway through the song, they moved away and showed us pictures of huge guys with their game faces on. Ugh, hardly what I wanted to see right then! :)

It's one thing to not have interpreters. It's another thing to claim to be deaf friendly, but then drop it mid-stream.

Anyway, I'm so over the NFL.

Monday, January 13, 2020

New year, new calling!

Well, friends, we've been in the branch just over two years, which means it's probably about time for me to get a new calling. (There's no rule on how long a calling should last. But mine usually are in the 2-3 year range, it seems.) And guess what - I DID get a new calling!


I got...the SAME calling again! Before, I was the 1st counselor in the Primary presidency. The president I was serving under was released, but the new president asked for me to be her 1st counselor, too. So I'm doing the same thing, but with new people.

Due to some circumstances, I had a guess that a new calling was coming a few weeks before it actually did, and it was a really interesting experience. Right now, I go to Sacrament meeting, then I go hang out with the kids. I teach them songs with simple signs and a big smile. They are really easy to understand - they always talk, then I tell them they have to sign, then they sign it. Not too hard to figure out what they're signing! Ha! Anyway, my life is pretty comfortable, and I don't have to worry too much about being mediocre at ASL. (Though I'm much better than I used to be!)

So as I thought about a new calling, I realized that every calling other than the one I had meant I would need to be better at ASL. That was pretty intimidating. But also exciting. It's like every time a new door opens in your life - it scares you and excites you. Add in that I have issues with feeling like I've abandoned people when I move on to something new...I was nervous.

I did start being more diligent about studying ASL. I have a New Year's resolution to watch 10 minutes of ASL every day. I can really tell the difference in my comprehension when I do that vs. when I slack off.

But in the end, my life didn't actually change much! (But I'm still keeping my resolution.)

I did do something pretty radical this year, though. Every year, I get all the songs we are going to learn for the year, gloss the signs (which means to write notes for yourself of which signs go in which order, so you can "read" the signs instead of watching them) from a video done by a "professional" and put them in my binder for singing time use. Well, this year, some of the really simple songs, I translated myself. I wouldn't do that for a big, important song - that should be done by a Deaf person just out of respect for their native speaking ability (you know, the same way companies in China should hire a stinkin' native English speaker to write their instruction manuals!!) But you know, if the song is, "When we're helping, we're happy and we sing as we go, for we love to help mother for we all love her so." I think I can come up with something decent for singing with kids. But in truth, here's how I translated them:

"Hey Lige, tell me how you would sign this song!"

Because he's got a talent. :)

Let's see...what else is going on in my ASL world? Oh, cute kids saying the prayer in Primary! Martha prayed last week, and the leaders were struggling to keep our laughs inside. If Martha prayed in English the way she prays in ASL right now, she would sound like a drill sergeant. It's like praying in karate chops. And then she couldn't think of anything to say in the middle. So she just stood there, with her eyes closed for a looonnnggg time. Finally, she peeked one eye open and looked around for help. BWAHAHA!!! It was so stinkin' adorable. This week, another kid her age prayed. He has a deaf dad, so his sign language is more mature, but I noticed that he can't sign Jesus Christ right, either. I tell ya, that's the hardest sign for kids to get. Especially the Christ part. Somehow, they just can't copy that motion! Despite working with Jane on getting it right for a year, she still starts her "C" on any of the corners of her torso square *except* the right one. Sometimes she'll cross her lap like a seatbelt. Sometimes she'll go straight down one side or the other. Sometimes she'll cross like a sash, but the opposite side. So it made me feel better to see a 4-yr old with a deaf parent still struggling with that one. Now I know it's legit hard :)

Monday, December 16, 2019

Silent Night

We have a guess writer today! Marriner wrote about our amazing kids, and I want to share what he wrote:

Saturday night was one of those really special experiences as a parent. The branch youth's December activity was to interpret the big choir concert up at the Temple visitor center and invite all of the branch to come. So the songs were divided out among the youth, and then as a little bit of an afterthought, we added Lillian as well.

It was really, really awesome to watch the kids do the interpretations. I had not realized that there were not already existing interpretations on YouTube. So, the kids really had just done everything by themselves. They had come up with the interpretation, they wrote out a gloss [an unofficial written notation of the signs you'll use - ASL has no written language], and they signed the songs! It was really, truly impressive for me to see how good they are getting. You'll have to watch the videos, but a few points of note. Lige did a really good job sort of getting into the music. You can imagine how hard it is to sort of dance with the music to express it. Especially when you're the only one up there doing it. But, Lige managed to do that and have a very nice balance of emoting the song. Ellis did a really good job of signing some pretty advanced songs. I was very impressed by her interpretations and then also her ability to to to think on the fly. There was one point where she and Lige were working together, and someone missed their line, or the choir saying it a little bit differently than the recording, or something happened. And Lige sort of took the line and went ahead and signed that and Ellis just figured it right out and followed up and everything worked together very smoothly. If she had not told me later that that is what happened I never would have noticed anything. It was pretty cool. She will also have to tell you sometime her really truly hilarious idea for how they should have signed the Gloria song. That song is all in Latin anyway and it's mostly just repeating a couple of words. They say Gloria, Gloria, Gloria, over and over and over again. And then they switch, and they say amen, amen, amen, amen,... You get the point. [It wasn't actually quite that bad, but almost. It was John Rutter's Gloria.]

And speaking of languages, Lillian had a funny thing for one of her songs, too. She had learned the song in English. But then, when the choir started, they started in French! well, Lillian did not miss a beat. She just went ahead and signed what she knew went along with the tune at that point, and it turned out beautifully.

(Back to Christine) So, our kids are musical interpreters now. The thing that impresses me the most is how pretty their translations were. They all flowed so artistically and musically. It was better than I would have done myself. And they got up and performed them in front of several hundred people! With smiles!

Here's what I really loved about this activity: one thing we left behind when we joined the branch were some opportunities to develop performing talents. My kids don't really play the piano in church much any more.That was a big part of growing up for me, using the talents I'd developed for service, to help others feel the Holy Ghost in their lives. It's where I started to learn about service. Watching my kids practice and try their best to put their hearts into it, I saw them go through the same process of anxiety and frustration at parents who make you do your VERY BEST (not just "good enough"), then experience the great satisfaction of a job well done, knowing you helped someone else. It gives you so much confidence! It was so neat to see my kids go through that wonderful process!

Of course, what you really want is videos:
Rutter's Gloria (Lige and Ellis)
Pat-a-pan/He is born (Lillian - the one she took on at the last minute when someone was sick, and they busted out singing in French instead of English...She really rocked it!)
Angels we have heard on high (Lillian, who got great compliments on her beautiful "Gloria" - she thinks you'd enjoy seeing what came right before: don't curl your papers!)

All the interpreters before the concert started

Lige looking happy. Really :)

Ellis signing "Excelsis"

Lillian signing "Gloria"

In further Christmas music joy, on Sunday, I was playing prelude and came to Silent Night. Jane sits next to me on the bench, and she started singing and signing along. I didn't know she'd been paying attention to the signs! I tried to find some way to discreetly poke Marriner, sitting just 5 feet away, without distracting Jane, but it didn't work, and nobody else got to see it. I even looked to see if by any chance she was on camera ;) But even if she was, she was behind me, so nobody would have seen her anyway. But it was adorable. Later at a baptism, we sang Silent Night again, and some of the other branch members got to see her sign along. But Marriner still missed it. She was sitting on his lap ;) Oh, and a funny story from the Nursery teacher (who is hearing). "[The other girl in Nursery} wanted to sing "Let it Go" in singing time today. And guess what - both she and Jane know ALL the words!" I don't think the Nursery teacher was expecting that song to last very long. Wrong! They really do know all. the. words.

Monday, November 25, 2019


The sermon today was on gratitude. Sister F. told a fabulous story about a man who woke up and found himself wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper - his life was a gift! Next to him was his gift-wrapped wife - he'd been given a wife! In walked his two kids (in wrapping paper, of course), then he saw his gift-wrapped light switch, faucet (clean water!) and oh - a shower! With hot water! And look, he got a briefcase - he had a job! And a car! And even good food! So many wonderful Christmas presents!

This story went really well in ASL, and I have to say, Sister F is a wonderful story teller. We've been encouraging our kids to pay attention in Sacrament meeting, and this one really caught the eyes of at least the older kids. I felt real gratitude for that!

Friday night, Lige's bike was stolen. He'd lost his bike helmet, so he left his bike locked up at the school, and we forgot to go pick it up. When we went the next day, we found the broken lock on the ground. It was so depressing. We've had at least 10 bikes stolen in the 10 years we live here. And this was a nice bike, which was Lige's primary mode of transportation. I was feeling angry and frustrated. And then Marriner said something that just changed my whole perspective. "Well, our son had his bike stolen, but at least our son wasn't out stealing bikes."

I thought of some mom out there whose son was out who-knows-where (well, I know where - at the high school, with a hammer, thinking he was so clever for breaking the lock on that bike) and how all her hopes and dreams for him seem to be going down the drain as he makes worse and worse decisions. I guess having a bike stolen isn't that bad.

And as I thought about it more, I realized that actually, we've had a lot of blessings to help replace all these bikes that have been stolen. We've hardly ever paid for our kids' bikes - most of them are given to us, or Marriner gets a bike someone is throwing out that he can repair. So I can't really complain.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Praise be to God for his bountiful blessings to all of us.

Sunday, November 17, 2019


A friend in the branch told me about taking her kids to their local hearing ward so they could get to know some of the members that live close to them. "My kids hated it," she said. "There was so much noise and distraction."

Knowing ASL changes the way you deal with noise. I've noticed this in our family Before we knew ASL, if we were in a crowded, noisy room, we would yell to communicate. Now, that just seems like a horrible way to communicate! Why would we want more noise in the room?

I recently went to eat lunch with Lillian at school for her birthday. Since our middle school is so far away, and middle schoolers are usually too cool to eat with their parents, I hadn't been to lunch at that school before. I should have remembered that the noise in the lunchroom spurred my oldest son to do a science fair project investigating the health of noise levels at various school environments. (Answer: the lunchroom wasn't great, but school dances were actually at unhealthy levels after 1 hr. Interestingly, none of the administrators who saw this project suggested changing anything. But I digress...) I was shocked at how loud the room was. For some reason, they think that 180 kids trying to talk in the same room isn't enough, and they play music, too. I 100% don't get it. I literally could not hear the person right next to me. So of course, I'm trying to say hi to Lillian's friends and get to know them. And try as I might, I couldn't bring myself to yell to be heard. All I could do was pull out my hands and try to communicate with them. I'm sure all these girls just think we're the weirdest family ever. But once you know sign language, you lose your taste for shouting.

There's a FB page named #whyIsign that shares people's videos of why they sign. Usually, reasons are something like, "Because I'm deaf" or "I have a deaf cousin" or "I meat a cute girl that was deaf". I think about my reasons why I sign:

  • Because I hate too much noise
  • Because my kids need to learn another language
  • Because I really love being able to talk when my mouth is full
#that'sthetruth #it'snotjustaboutthegoodreasons 

Friday, November 8, 2019

So close...

I had a funny conversation the other night that you might enjoy. We were chatting before a Primary presidency meeting. One mom moaned about her child leaving all his stuff all over the floor when he gets dressed in the morning.

"Sorry to tell you, but even my oldest still leaves his stuff on the floor when he gets dressed. I don't think it's going to get better," I wryly reply.

(Looks of surprise.)

"Lige still wears a pull-up?"

Oh, I'd missed that sign. Yeah, no Lige totally does NOT wear pull-ups any more. Nor does he leave pull-ups on the floor, because he knows that's nasty. And really, he doesn't leave his clothes all over that much, either. Just sometimes. Because, you know, the world might turn upside-down if a teenager was perfect. :)

And to their credit, none of the other ladies in the meeting laughed their heads off at me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

God moves in a mysterious way!

Today, I took Lillian to violin lessons in the morning, then went straight to Sam's school to help with the book fair. I got home about 12:30, and was surprised to be met by Ellis, whom I had presumed to be at school. Unfortunately, she'd missed her bus in the morning and didn't know where I was or how to get a hold of me, so she waited at home until I finally joined her. We were going to jump back in the car and run her down to school when we did some math. We realized that she'd only make it for 1 1/2 classes, and both of those classes were easy to catch up on at the moment. So we went inside and she got out her laptop to do her work, which had been posted online already.

In the hubbub of figuring out what had happened, I asked, "why didn't you call Dad?" Because, you know, even though one parent is sorta busy, he's still a parent. Turns out, the idea hadn't even crossed her mind. "But even if I'd thought of it, I don't know if he could have picked me up. He ran out the door this morning to go visit Ruth (name has been changed). She's in the hospital."

What?!? Ruth is one of Ellis's good friends, and her mom is one of my good friends! So I got on the phone and found out that yes, her friend is very sick and is going to be in the hospital for a while. Marriner suggested that she'd really like a visit, since she's mostly sitting around waiting for test results to come back now. So while we waited for Jane to wake up from her nap, we made some cookies, then we headed up to Children's National with Ellis and all the littles.

We got up there and found out that kids under 14 aren't supposed to be allowed in unless they're siblings. But a nice nurse let Ellis come in and hang out while the rest of us touched bases really quick then went to the waiting room. They had a fabulous waiting room, and my bag was packed well, so we had a good time hanging out. And we went down and got some dinner when we started to get squirrelly. Ellis brought some games and they just played for 2 1/2 hours. The nurse commented to me on what a good friend Ellis was to come and hang out with her.

That was when I realized that actually, this whole thing shouldn't have been possible. Usually Tuesdays are Lillian's orchestra night. The girls get home from school and I take off with Lillian. But orchestra was canceled tonight. Still, Ellis doesn't usually get off the bus until 5:00 or 5:30, which was way too late to drive an hour up to the hospital (it's 14 miles, incidentally...) and get people to bed on time. (Tuesday is also Marriner's church night, so he's not home to help out.) But today, Ellis missed the bus. And I wasn't home to give her a ride.

And we have to ask ourselves...did God actually make Ellis skip school today?

And...can I put that in the note to school explaining her absence? "Dear school, please excuse Ellis's absence due to the hand of God yesterday."

Well, maybe she won't get an excused absence....