Monthly Archives: December 2008

What day is it?!

The days are all blending together right now.  Christmas has passed and the candle business is closed for another week; Paige is off school until January 5.  There’s nothing to really define the days – I can’t even use our favorite TV shows as a guide because everything’s in re-runs right now.  Crazy!

Festive
Christmas was absolutely fantastic this year.  I think everyone was really happy with what they got, and I didn’t feel like I spent insane amounts of money.  There were still piles of gifts but most of that was due to crafty use of coupon codes, sales and reward point redemptions.

I had plenty of time this year to shop, wrap gifts, bake and just enjoy the holiday season.  Perhaps I baked a little too much.  🙂  But the combination of free time and snowstorm after snowstorm just made me feel like making cookies!  We had a very white Christmas here, complete with a big snowstorm on Christmas Eve.  It’s kind of hard to believe now, because yesterday it was in the 60’s and rained all day long, melting all of our snow.  Today it’s back to regular Illinois winter weather though, so I’m sure we’ll get snow again soon.

Eric was here for four days over Christmas so we got to catch up with him, and it was just fantastic to have the whole family together under one roof for a few days.  We even got to play Phase 10 on Christmas Eve night.

It was a little weird thinking back to last year, when I still had my hearing.  I had no idea last Christmas that I would go completely deaf just a few months later.  Now this Christmas rolls around and I’m actually hearing better than I did last year.  It really boggles the mind.

Unruly
My hair is looking a little crazy this winter.  In the summer it was pretty easy to just pull it back into a little mini ponytail…it looked neat, kept my hair off my neck and didn’t require any major styling.  In the winter, though, I never pull my hair back because it’s too cold.

I have naturally curly hair and usually my routine is just to spritz it with water or styling spray, flip my head upside down and use a diffuser on the blow dryer while I scrunch my curls…it just rejuvenates the curls that get smashed down when I’m sleeping, and re-fluffs my hair.

I used to just do this with my hearing aids on, but I can’t with the CIs because they would fall off if I flipped my head upside down.  Plus, the magnets and cord get in the way of the actual fluffing and scrunching.  Lately I find myself just half-heartedly running my fingers through my hair, trying to fluff it up with the CIs on.  If we’re just hanging around the house, I’m too lazy to take both CIs off, style my hair and put them back on.  I’m walking around with a perpetual case of bedhead!

Noted
Yesterday I bought a new calendar for 2009 and today I took some time to write in all the events.  I use our current calendar and go month by month, looking at the current calendar and writing down the birthdays, etc. on the new calendar.  It’s the only way to make sure I don’t forget anything.  In the course of doing this, I always kind of relive the past year.  When I flipped to April 2008, there was the doctor appointment with Dr. Battista on April 16 (the day I officially found out I was deaf).  It’s hard to believe it was less than a year ago.

I marked the one year anniversary of my CI surgery (July 22) and the one year anniversary of my CI activation (August 20).  These two dates will be memorialized on my calendars from here on out, along with birthdays, anniversaries and RIPs for beloved family members and pets.  It’s just really strange to think that a year ago at this time, I didn’t really even know what a cochlear implant was!

Incomprehensible
Last week, Dave and I had to pay a visit to the bank that holds our business checking account.  I noticed a check (with a check number that was nowhere near the ones in our checkbook) had cleared, and it was obviously fraudulent.  Apparently it was done over the phone (obviously not something we did, since we would never use the phone) and issued to some kind of subscription place.  To make a long story short, we had to file a fraud claim and close the checking account, since apparently someone had gotten hold of our routing and account numbers.

This is annoying enough, especially since it’s for our business where our merchant account deposits go – this means all kinds of notifications and switching of information once we get the new account set up.  But that annoyance was nothing compared with trying to understand the bank employees.

Every person who helped us had an accent.  The first man, who Dave later told me was a manager, had an Indian accent so heavy we just couldn’t understand anything he said.  He got a woman to help him, and she had a Spanish accent.  She was easier for me to understand, though, except when she started talking really quickly.  Dave explained that we were both deaf but of course, that really doesn’t help as far as the accents go…no matter how slowly or loudly they spoke, the accent was still there.

I always feel horrible when I can’t understand accents – I mean, I’m sure if I spoke their native tongue I would do it with a heavy accent as well!  It’s just so frustrating because this was an important issue, and it was exhausting trying to understand what was happening.

When we left, I still wasn’t really sure what was going on.  As far as I can tell, we’ve filed some kind of police complaint for fraud and closed the account.  It will take 30 days for them to investigate the claim and if it’s found in our favor, we’ll get the money back from this fake check that was presented.  In the meantime, our merchant account deposits will still go into the closed account, but no payments will go out.  We can’t open a new account until we have $100 and then…I don’t know, I think the money from the old account goes into the new one.  Or something.

We have to go back tomorrow to open the new account and I am dreading it with every fiber of my being.  It’s so frustrating trying to figure out what’s being said, and the only way for it to be foolproof is for these people to write down everything they are saying.  Of course, that’s too much to ask so instead I just try to catch a few words and piece together everything else.

I’m never sure if the difficulty I have with accents is due to my hearing loss or if it’s like this for everyone, deaf or not.

Obsession
Finally…Facebook!  Oh my gosh.  Now that I have all this free time, I have become officially obsessed with Facebook.  I resisted for years, not sure what it was really for or what I would do with a Facebook account.  I’m not an extremely social person (I have zero friends in real life that I get together with on a regular basis) so I didn’t even think I’d find people to be “friends” with.

My online social life is more robust than I realized because once I started using Facebook, people from all corners of the internet popped up.  Friends from cochlear implant groups, old pen pals, friends from parenting groups that I’ve known for years…I’d say the only people who haven’t really ‘found’ me have been people from high school, because I don’t have my maiden name in my profile.

Once I found friends, then I started using applications.  Now I’m tending to virtual plants, sea gardens, fluff friends and a farm.  I’m fighting vampires, the mob, the mafia and fashionistas.  I’m taking surveys and posting little buttons (aka ‘flair’) on a bulletin board, joining groups for specific interests and posting status updates on my current mood or activities.

Instead of having to set aside time for a long email, I can catch up with whole groups of friends at a glance just by looking at the news feed on my Facebook page.

So if you’re on Facebook, look me up…join my mob…and be sure to check out this blog on my Facebook blog network!

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Decisive

You know what I really like about cochlear implants versus my hearing aids?  When the battery dies, that is IT.  There’s no wishy-washy period where it sounds like things aren’t as clear but…am I imagining it?  Maybe I’m just getting a cold or something (which used to affect my hearing).  With the hearing aid batteries, it seemed like things would get kind of ‘soft’ and I didn’t always have a battery tester handy to check.  Eventually I’d get aggravated enough to change batteries, which sometimes helped and sometimes I just couldn’t tell.  Did I waste a perfectly good battery by throwing it away and putting in a new one?

With the CIs, I never notice a period of sound getting fuzzy or softer or whatever.  As far as I can tell, when my rechargeable batteries are losing power, it doesn’t affect how my CIs perform.  But when they are out of power, BAM.  The CI just turns off completely.  It’s very decisive and “Okay, go put a new battery in now…no question about it.”  I love it!

Silly Season

We call the period between October and December “Silly Season” … it’s a term coined on one of the candlemaking email lists I belong to, and it refers to being extra busy at this time of year because that’s when candle orders usually go through the roof.  (To be honest, I’m actually not sure where the term originated but that’s where I first heard it.)  And right now, it’s Silly Season and that’s the main reason I haven’t been writing very much.

Silly Season this year hasn’t been as Silly as in the past.  I mean, we’re talking MAJORLY less Silly!  But it still keeps us busy enough, with all the added things we’re doing at this time of the year…like shopping, Christmas decorating, writing Christmas cards, etc.  It’s really obvious how bad the economy is though, when we compare sales from past years to this year’s sales.  Normally I wouldn’t even have time to write this entry, because we’d be working on candles til midnight every day of the week.  Usually at this time of year I can’t even find time to make dinner – we end up ordering out 4 or 5 nights a week.  Even carving time out for a shower is a struggle!

When the kids were younger (we’ve had the candle business since 2001) I really felt wracked with guilt over being so busy during the holidays.  The first year we were in business, we were really caught off guard and it kind of ruined the holidays for me.  I was so stressed that I didn’t enjoy any aspect of decorating, shopping, wrapping gifts, and so on.  I just kept thinking of all the orders we had to get done and get shipped so they would arrive to our customers in time.  Ever since then, I’ve vowed to never let the business take over like that.  Life is too short and it’s just not worth it!

Part of the problem is the fact that we make all the candles as they are ordered.  We stock a LOT of fragrances and there’s no way to make all these candles and keep them in stock – we have no place to store them, for one, and who knows when somebody might want this style of candle in that fragrance…the candles could end up sitting around for a year or more.  We don’t have the money to invest in wax and fragrance for a candle that hasn’t been sold.  So we get the order, and the next day it goes down to our workshop and we get started on the candles.

Except during Silly Season.  Then we usually have a backlog and it might be two or three days before we actually get to the order.  When you add in up to a week for delivery, plus 3 to 5 days for processing (actually making the candles, packaging them and then packing the order up for shipping), it’s just not possible to get a handmade candle out to a customer a day or two after they order.

Now we make it as obvious as we can – if you want our candles, you have to order in advance.  Ever since that first horribly stressful year, we’ve instituted a cut-off date that gives us plenty of time to get candles made and then shipped in time for them to arrive for Christmas.  And a few days after that cut-off date (usually around the 10th or 11th of December), we close for the rest of the month.

It sounds crazy to do that, but really, once it gets past the 14th or so, there’s just no way for us to get a candle made and then shipped in time for Christmas.  And that’s my cut-off for turning into a stressed-out shrew, because it leaves me a little over a week to do all my last minute shopping, cookie baking and present wrapping.

So now we close early, and we take the time to catch our breath and reintroduce ourselves to the kids.  (Well, this year it’s just Paige since Eric isn’t here.)  Once I post that final notice on the website that we’re closed until the next year, we celebrate.  To assuage my guilt over being so busy during the holidays, we now have a Company Christmas Party, which is really basically just us spending time together all day and evening.  We pull out all kinds of board games and card games, we order a fancy meal and get decadent desserts, and we reconnect as a family.  I think it’s safe to say we all really look forward to that day!  🙂

So that’s where I’ve been, working (although not quite as feverishly in the past) and decorating.  I love the holidays and it brings me a lot of pleasure to look around at the decorations, smell the cookies baking, and see presents under the tree.

I got a little gift from Aetna last week…I do believe my whole insurance ordeal is now behind me.  It took quite a while to get the actual letter, but Dave had been in contact with the underwriter by phone, and she had assured him that everything was in order.  I just didn’t trust it until I had it in writing, you know?  Even then, I felt the letter was vague.  It just basically said they were paying my claims as stated in my contract, and they thanked me for my patience.  I read the letter, turned to Dave and said, “Um…I want a letter that says, ‘We’re sorry for scaring the shit out of you, and we ARE NOT CANCELLING YOUR INSURANCE.’  This is so vague, what does this mean?  Is it over or not?!”

Then he took the letter from my hands, patted me on the back, and said, “This is the best you’re gonna get.  It’s over.  You can find something new to worry about now.”

Sigh.  But anyway, I think it’s okay.  They were mainly looking for proof that I hadn’t lost my hearing before I switched to Aetna, since it looked so suspicious that I suddenly went deaf four months after getting new insurance that conveniently covers cochlear implants.  And they only raised my monthly premium by $25 (starting next month), which was another nice surprise….I kind of expected my premium to double, you know?!

It’s back to candles, folks.  One more week of madness here!!  🙂

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