Friday, May 29, 2009

She Did It

At approximately noon today, Hilary will have officially completed high school. Not unexpected, and certainly not a big deal for the average kid. However, Hilary isn't your average kid. Hilary was born deaf. Unaided, she hears nothing. Hilary has been attending school since she was 3 years old and her academic "career" has taken her to Phoenix Day School for the Deaf, Central Institute for the Deaf, Moog Center for Deaf Education, St. Joseph's Institute for the Deaf, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic School and finally, our public high school down the street.

Hilary introduced me to the world of special needs, special ed, speech therapy, occupational therapy, early intervention, IEPs, sign language, total communication, oral communication, hearing aids, and cochlear implants, to name a few. More importantly, through Hilary I learned that, as a parent, I would make whatever sacrifices were necessary and do whatever it took to give her the best I could. The best chance at hearing, the best chance at communication and the best chance at learning to successfully function in a world where the majority of people hear and talk. Fifteen years ago, I never would have imagined that in giving Hilary the best I could, she would lead us to a City where we would need to be for Jack. Life has a funny way of working out like it should.

Without a doubt, Hilary's happiest years were in St. Louis where she spent 6 1/2 years attending school with her deaf peers. Our move back home to Arizona was necessitated by many factors, but I will always carry a little guilt for taking Hilary away from the place she was happiest. Yet, Hilary never complained. She just went along with it, did her best and got through junior high and high school completely on her own, without any intervention or support services. (not because she wasn't entitled to services, but because she didn't need them.) I'm extremely proud of what Hilary has accomplished and, while I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit that there have been many times that Hilary has frustrated me beyond belief, she really has done remarkably well given the challenges she has faced. At the end of the day, Hilary likes who Hilary is and that's all that really matters. That is success. Granted, she still needs to find a way to support herself and move out of my house someday!

Hilary has many extraordinary talents. She is an amazing story teller (writer), artist and animator. Hilary has dreams of being a cartoonist and/or animator. Just recently (and rather late in the process, I might add), Hilary applied to Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. RIT has both a large deaf population and degrees in film and animation and illustration. It's the perfect place for Hilary. Hopefully, she'll be accepted this year. If not, Hilary will begin her journey down the road of Plan B (and C, and D, and . . . ) I'm confident that however things work out .... they'll work out.

Well, enough rambling and without further ado ... here is a montage chronicling the last 18 years of Hilary's life. Ironically, I chose the songs because of what they say, yet Hilary won't be able to understand the words when she listens to/watches the video. (I'll give her the written words to the songs so she knows what they say, but it's not the same. Then again, it's all she knows).

I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

He Sleeps

Is there anything more precious than a sleeping child?

He sleeps!

I have a lot on my mind these days. Lots to share, but no time to put my thoughts into words. I really hope to do more "thoughtful" writing after I get past the next two weeks. Hilary's high school graduation is Saturday. I put together a video (shocking, I know) to give to her. Hilary always gets very emotional when she watches videos of herself from the past. Times were happier . . . in the past. Her high school years have been tough. But, after she finishes finals on Friday, she will have officially made it through.

I will share the video with you on Friday.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I'm home and happy to be here! I missed Jack, but I sure enjoyed those five days of no suctioning. You don't realize how much of your time it consumes until you leave it for a few days and then come back to it. Everyone managed to survive in my absence (with some advanced planning on my part), which is always a good thing.

New Jersey was a lot of fun. We stayed in a house on the Jersey shore and did a lot of eating, drinking, walking and talking. I think it's fair to say I feel somewhat rested. I did find it very weird that in NJ you have to pay to go on the beaches during the summer season. Being an Arizona girl, I've spent many a summer on the free beaches in California, so I find the concept a bit odd. But, my NJ friends tell me they have cleaner beaches than California. (not sure I agree, but ... whatever!)

When I got home, awaiting me was Volume I of my blog that I "slurped" into a book using I started this project at least a year ago and I just now finished the first volume that covers July 2006-December 2007. Getting the blog entries transferred was easy (and automatic), but I wanted to include all the comments - so, I had to cut and paste them all into the book. I think it looks great and I did it primarily as a back-up to my blog in the event I should ever lose it. Volume I is 400 pages! I now need to get Volume II (2008) done. For those of you who blog, I highly recommend saving it in book format using I'm really happy with the way it turned out. Here's the book cover (you design it yourself):

Wishing you all a very relaxing Memorial Day and thank you to all those who serve in the armed forces and who have given their lives for the safety of our country!

Friday, May 22, 2009


This is all you'll see of me on the beach :-)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Graduation Day

Here are some pictures from Graduation Day at Rutgers. It was a beautiful day!

(Bridget, Mary and Kelsey)

Waiting for the graduates to arrive

The Graduate

The plan for the rest of the week is to sleep in, read, walk along the beach and just try and enjoy having nothing to do - not an easy thing for me to do.

Thanks for checking in!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Edge

This, my friends, is what will push a mother on the edge ... OVER!

Mary has a girlfriend spending the night tonight because they have to be at school extra early tomorrow for an AP test. For fear Mary's room would cause her friend to run from the house screaming, I snuck into Mary's room while she and her friend are watching Grey's Anatomy, hoping to at least clear a path to Mary's bed. The above picture is the number of empty, half-empty, barely empty and full water bottles I found scattered throughout Mary's room. This kind of stuff just drives me insane! (albeit a short trip.)

Mary really pushes the envelope when it comes to me trying to "keep the little things little".


In other news, there's lots going on the next few weeks. Mary and I are headed to New Jersey next week for my niece's graduation from Rutgers. My sister rented a beach house on the Jersey shore, so we'll be hanging out there for a few days. A lot of scheduling was involved in getting additional nursing hours arranged and in making sure that Hilary and Eric have a way to and from school. (without me at home, Mark's ability to leave the house is severely restricted). Thankfully, we have wonderful nurses who are working extra and odd shifts to make sure Jack is taken care of. If all the planets and stars align just right and God has mercy on me ... everything will work out and everyone will be taken care of in my absence. I worry so much about Jack when I'm away from him. But, I have to get away on occasion or I'd lose what little of my mind I have left.

The following weekend is Hilary's high school graduation - which is why she's not coming to NJ with us. She can't afford to miss finals and they won't let her take them early.

The weekend after Hilary's graduation is my parent's 50th wedding anniversary celebration. I'm putting together a video for the event and while I promised myself I would not stay up into the wee hours of the morning working on it, my first night working on it ... I was up past midnight. The pictures I'm using are all old and have to be scanned in and cleaned up as best as possible with Photoshop. It's remarkable that I'm even working on the video at all considering my mother was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer two years ago and was not even supposed to be alive today. It will be a very emotional event, I'm sure. I'm really looking forward to having all my sibs in town. The last time we were all together was two years ago last Christmas. Fun times!

Other than that, there's not much going on here at the Schrooten Ranch. :-)


Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Love This Kid Too!

Oh, and I love my other two kids too. I just didn't happen to get a picture with them this weekend.

Have a grand week everyone!

Happy Mother's Day

I've shared this piece the last two Mother's Days. I love it and I think it says it all . . . perfectly. So, once again, I wish all mothers a very Happy Mother's Day and to my sorority sisters, an extra special, very happy Mother's Day.


Thoughts of a Mom
By Maureen K. Higgins

Many of you I have never even met face to face, but I've searched you out every day. I've looked for you on the Internet, on playgrounds and in grocery stores. I've become an expert at identifying you. You are well-worn. You are stronger than you ever wanted to be. Your words ring experience, experience you culled with your very heart and soul. You are compassionate beyond the expectations of this world.

You are my "sisters." Yes, you and I, my friend, are sisters in a sorority. A very elite sorority. We are special. Just like any other sorority, we were chosen to be members. Some of us were invited to join immediately, some not for months or even years. Some of us even tried to refuse membership, but to no avail. We were initiated in neurologist's offices and NICU units, in obstetrician's offices, in emergency rooms, and during ultrasounds. We were initiated with somber telephone calls, consultations, evaluations, blood tests, x-rays, MRI films, and heart surgeries.

All of us have one thing in common. One day things were fine. We were pregnant, or we had just given birth, or we were nursing our newborn, or we were playing with our toddler. Yes, one minute everything was fine. Then, whether it happened in an instant, as it often does, or over the course of a few weeks or months, our entire lives changed. Something wasn't quite right. Then we found ourselves mothers of children with special needs.

We are united, we sisters, regardless of the diversity of our children's special needs. Some of our children undergo chemotherapy. Some need respirators and ventilators. Some are unable to talk, some are unable to walk. Some eat through feeding tubes. Some live in a different world. We do not discriminate against those mothers whose children's needs are not as "special" as our child's. We have mutual respect and empathy for all the women who walk in our shoes.

We are knowledgeable. We have educated ourselves with whatever materials we could find. We know "the" specialists in the field. We know "the" neurologists, "the" hospitals, "the" wonder drugs, "the" treatments. We know "the" tests that need to be done, we know "the" degenerative and progressive diseases and we hold our breath while our children are tested for them. Without formal education, we could become board certified in neurology, endocrinology, and psychiatry.

We have taken on our insurance companies and school boards to get what our children need to survive, and to flourish. We have prevailed upon the State to include augmentative communication devices in special education classes and mainstream schools for our children with cerebral palsy. We have labored to prove to insurance companies the medical necessity of gait trainers and other adaptive equipment for our children with spinal cord defects. We have sued municipalities to have our children properly classified so they could receive education and evaluation commensurate with their diagnosis.

We have learned to deal with the rest of the world, even if that means walking away from it. We have tolerated scorn in supermarkets during "tantrums" and gritted our teeth while discipline was advocated by the person behind us in line. We have tolerated inane suggestions and home remedies from well-meaning strangers.

We have our own personal copies of Emily Perl Kingsley's "A Trip To Holland" and Erma Bombeck's "The Special Mother." We keep them by our bedside and read and reread them during our toughest hours.

We have coped with holidays. We have found ways to get our physically handicapped children to the neighbors' front doors on Halloween, and we have found ways to help our deaf children form the words, "trick or treat." We have accepted that our children with sensory dysfunction will never wear velvet or lace on Christmas. We have painted a canvas of lights and a blazing Yule log with our words for our blind children. We have pureed turkey on Thanksgiving. We have bought white chocolate bunnies for Easter. And all the while, we have tried to create a festive atmosphere for the rest of our family.

We've gotten up every morning since our journey began wondering how we'd make it through another day, and gone to bed every evening not sure how we did it.

We've mourned the fact that we never got to relax and sip red wine in Italy. We've mourned the fact that our trip to Holland has required much more baggage than we ever imagined when we first visited the travel agent. And we've mourned because we left for the airport without most of the things we needed for the trip.

But we, sisters, we keep the faith always. We never stop believing. Our love for our special children and our belief in all that they will achieve in life knows no bounds. We dream of them scoring touchdowns and extra points and home runs. We visualize them running sprints and marathons. We dream of them planting vegetable seeds, riding horses, and chopping down trees. We hear their angelic voices singing Christmas carols. We see their palettes smeared with watercolors, and their fingers flying over ivory keys in a concert hall. We are amazed at the grace of their pirouettes. We never, never stop believing in all they will accomplish as they pass through this world.

But in the meantime, my sisters, the most important thing we do, is hold tight to their little hands as together, we special mothers and our special children, reach for the stars.

Friday, May 08, 2009

I Love This Kid!

As promised, here are pictures from "Mommy Spa Day". Before you look at the pictures, I have to tell you that I got a new lens for my camera. It's been recommended by several semi-professional/ professional photographers if you want your picture to focus in on your subject and blur out the background. I think the pictures are much more "crisp" (a highly technical photography term). While I love the pictures, I'm not liking how "crisp" the wrinkles around my eyes look. Yikes! These pictures don't leave anything to the imagination. So, yes ... I'm old. Please be nice :)


Ready for action. Make-up bag in hand.

Hair and make-up station

Painting my toenails - with clear polish.
(I wasn't about to ruin my real pedicure!)

This is what the kids really wanted to be doing .... playing on the computer!

This is the best . . . Eric's "Mommy Facts". I appreciate the fact that I only weigh one pound. I especially like the answer to "What does she cook". Eric's answer: "Unknown". (is that a bad thing?)

The teacher put together a video of the kids each reading a few of their "Mommy Facts". Of all the facts Eric elects to recite on video for everyone to hear .... My mom is 48 years old. I'm at least ten years older than the next oldest mom in the room. Thanks Eric! I'm so glad everyone now knows that I'm practically old enough to be your grandma. (or maybe my wrinkles already gave it away?!) Regardless, I LOVE THIS KID! He makes me laugh and one can never get too much of that.


Have a great weekend and for all the moms, have a very, very happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

This Should be Fun

Eric brought this flyer home earlier this week:

Tomorrow is spa day in Eric's classroom. Now wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall watching Eric give me a pedicure? Giving me a hand and arm massage? Styling my hair and putting make-up on me? You've got to be kidding! I wish I could hand that fly on the wall my camera because this is going to be good.

I asked Eric if he wanted me to come to his school so he could give me a spa treatment. His response: "How much do I get paid". I told him this event is a gift for me because it's for Mother's Day. He thinks it's fine if "we both get something out of it". Ahhhh, it's nice to know he loves me!

I will have my camera with me and I'll report back tomorrow with pictures and, no doubt, a good story to share.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Short update

For those checking in, I survived my dental surgery on Monday (it was surgery for a dental implant). The dentist was wonderful and it was a much better and relatively painless experience this time around. I've got Vicodin on board to help with the post-surgery pain. It's good stuff but makes staying awake at work a bit of a challenge :)


Sunday, May 03, 2009


Another weekend comes to an end. It was a nice birthday weekend for me. I spent the majority of it running back and forth to Eric's chess tournament, but also fit in a couple of birthday dinners. I pretty much ate my way through the entire weekend. (so what else is new.)

Here are a few weekend pics ~

Mary loving her our new car. She likes to think it's her car, but it's only hers to drive. (although, we only got it because she can now drive!)

Eric with his medal from the chess tournament (he is in heaven that he got a medal, who cares that he only won 1 out of 7 games)

Wish me luck tomorrow morning ... I'll be at the oral surgeon's finishing up what I started last November, but have been putting off until now due to my horrible experience. I'm usually not a wuss when it comes to the dentist, but because of the last experience, I'm really not looking forward to tomorrow. I'm with a different oral surgeon and he's aware of how unhappy I was with the last guy (who is in the same practice), so hopefully .... things will go well. (Xanax may be in order tomorrow).

Hope you all have a better Monday than I'll be having :)