Wednesday, December 30, 2009

With Love, From Tuscany: Happy New Year!!!

 

This was Sofia Madyson 7 years ago. Today she learned how to ride a bike and knocked out an old woman who should have been watching where she was going. Seven years ago I was in agony screaming for her to come out (no epidurals in this town), and when she finally, finally did- I watched fireworks from my hospital room together with three other new moms and their babies. I held my baby girl in my arms and wished for her to be strong, intelligent, honest, hard-working, affectionate and hearing.

At that time, Jordan was angry, frustrated and never hugged or kissed anyone. I wanted Sofia to take that pressure off of him so that the family would have someone capable of showing the love to them that they so desperately wanted to receive from Jordan.

Sofia's job in life was to give love, I never told her that, but she does just that every single day of her life. And now...so does Jordan.

2009 was an explosive year. I predict the atomic bomb here in 2010.
My New Year's Resolutions are:

In constant evolution.

Thank you so much for the love and support you have given me all throughout 2009, I'll probably need twice as much in 2010.

*Smile*

 

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Sunflower


No one prepares us to be parents, you can babysit your life away, change 5000 diapers and be the teacher of the year- but when you hold your own child for the first time, the world changes. When you become a wife and a mother within four months time, you try so hard to satisfy both new elements that you get lost. No one prepares you to be a wife, especially when you are the child of divorced parents.

So, you stumble along trying to do the best you can, because all you feel is love and sleep-deprivation. Then, slam, just when you see the light and have it all just about balanced, your road is chosen for you and you follow it. The road takes over and dictates and dominates until it swallows you completely.

You hug curves, drop your stomach at the dips, do 200 mph in a 25 mph zone or 25mph on the highway- it's all about the road. Until one day you find traintracks along the road, so you stop. And in that one moment, that one fleeting moment, you spy a teeny, tiny sunflower by the side of the road and you are dying to get out of that car that you have been sitting in - always in the driver's seat- not to pick the flower...just to smell it.

So I did.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Snowflakes and Frozen Hot Chocolate


Jordan: Mom, your cheeks look fat.
Me: (shoving chocolate-covered fruitcake in my mouth) Really?

Well, this holiday season I learned a lot. I learned that I'm okay. I learned that I must be a nerd, because I played chess for the first time in 38 years and I LOVED IT!!! Jordan still hasn't beaten me yet, but it's coming. And Sofia, almost 7 year old Sofia understands chess. That completely floored me. I have nerd kids. I'll learn to accept that as long as I can keep playing chess.

Is there anything more pathetic than watching sappy love stories on Christmas- the kind that talk about that unrealistic fall-in-love destiny shit that makes you get all tingly inside? Well, there we were watching that feel-good stuff about to pass out from having eaten too much... when in the end- girl found boy who was licking snowflakes. Okay, I admit it, I smiled-I'm such a sucker.

Tonight I had dinner with my girlfriend who told me something her grandfather continuously tells her, "Una donna non deve essere bella, deve essere furba." "A woman doesn't have to be beautiful, she has to be intelligent in a sly way." I think it's a survival of the fittest tactic that one learns only after smashing one's face against the wall only so many times.

But if you employ that tactic, can you still truly live the frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity and do you have to keep your tongue in your mouth at the sight of a snowflake?

I will sacrifice my face for a snowflake any day.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jingle Balls


1. Today I got reamed out by a family member.

1a. I unleashed my own tongue.


2. I sent a text message to the wrong person (something like this, but more red-light district): "He really likes you"- it was meant for my girlfriend and I sent it to my guyfriend.

2a. I haven't laughed so hard in such a long time.


3. I received three emails that made my day.

3a. I hope that I made at least one person's day.


4. My kids are home for the holidays.

4a. It's 11,17 pm. here- Jordan's chatting on the computer and Sofia's playing Nintendo DS- I can't make them go to bed, they are so damn cute laying in my bed without having to stress about school, dreaming of Santa Claus and freedom.


5. I have this one friend from college who made my life hell in the most hilarious way possible. She left me a comment on fb, and I started laughing out loud.

5a. Sofia asked me about her and I explained that I hung her grandma underpants on the walls of the AEPhi house. Sofia smiled.


6. Sofia asked me if I would be working on the computer on Sunday. I said yes. She said, "I'll never get to use it."

6a. While helping Sofia take off her four shirts, because she decided she needed to be her own fashion consultant after school, she threw a hissy fit. I had to use my "Don't mess with your mamma" voice and I said, "Sofia, you are such a lunatic!" She replied, "Mommy, you are a spoiled brat. I'm gonna kick your ass."

6b. Ok. I may call my child a spoiled brat, but I have NEVER told her I'm going to kick her ass. I cannot figure out where she heard that, probably my mom.


7. I'm going to Christmas lunch with Luca's family, because:

7a. Sofia's teachers told me they would never have known we were going through a separation, she's extremely normal, happy and hard-working. (I'm not convinced, but there's only one Sofia and she's in a class of 13, so it must be her they're talking about)

7b. Jordan brought home an interim report that for the first time shows dramatic improvement in every subject (except English *smile*) because Luca's been working really, really hard with him.

7c. A comment was made that my kids wouldn't care if I were there or not, because they were only interested in the Christmas presents anyway.


Luca and I did not raise our kids to be only interested in presents, and I certainly did not decide to celebrate Christmas with his family despite the fact that I am Jewish every single year I've lived in this country for the presents. And I will not be sending my kids who are in the middle of a fairly mature separation to Christmas lunch without their mother.


Families come in many shapes and sizes. I don't love a family for thirteen years and suddenly stop. And my kids don't go to Christmas lunch for thirteen years with their mother, father and everyone they love surrounding them to suddenly look up and find their mother missing at the table. Not on my shift.


8. Twelve years ago, at my most desperate moment in finding out about Jordan's Deafness in Italian, when I was searching for a lifeline in English...I found the John Tracy Clinic. They helped me by email through Jordan's temper tantrums. I began attempting to write during that period, for the first time in my life. I sent something I wrote to Judy Blume. By miracle, she wrote me back and said, "Your writing reflects that you obviously know children. Concentrate on that and keep working on it." She sent me light during my darkest hour.

8a. My hope is that the past three years have taught me something about what it means to be a woman...not just any kind of woman- a Mother-Woman.


First, I struggled within my own head to figure it all out. Then, I reflected...deeply. Now, I know exactly who I am-

an American flag swimming naked in a sea of Nutella.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Balls


Sofia's running around giving orders, Jordan just gave me a kiss on the cheek and told me I should change my style because my face is full of glitter. I itched my eyes and it kind of got everywhere. Perhaps, I'll try the boob scarf...click here for other innovative and stylish suggestions.


I'm bored out of my mind and have no idea what to do with it or myself. It's the pre-Christmas vacation-let it get here- and then be gone- limbo. I would flat out like to pick up and leave, escape, run. Oh God, my kids are arguing about the fact that Sofia is a blabbermouth.
Sofia said, "Jordan, Be quiet and don't tell lies!"
Jordan said, "Sofia, when Mamma and I talk in front of you about grown up things, shut your mouth and don't blab it to the world!"
Jordan just walked up to me and said, "Sofia just called me stupid."

My daughter is an out of control nightmare. LOVE HER!
Every now and then, Jordan looks at her, points and starts cracking up. LOVE HIM!

Thank God for my kids. They tell it like it is.
The most beautiful thing about kids is that they absolutely can not be hypocrites.

If your ass is saggy:-)- they will TELL YOU!!
If you're in a pissy mood, they say, "I think you need to relax."
Sofia Madyson: "Mommy, why is that little girl black, did she get a lot of bruises?" (welcome to Italy)
Jordan, "Mamma, my teacher has the worst breath!"

As much as they embarrass you and they do mortally embarrass you- their cold, hard honesty sparks that flush that flies to your face and fires up your toes. THEY ARE REAL.

I can't decide whether or not to go to Christmas lunch with my ex-inlaws or stay home, curl up in bed and read a book.

Sometimes, this...

chanced.freeblog.hu
Just isn't worth this...


However, my main concern is this...


????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Soup IS Good Food...for the Soul


I'm always amazed when I see elementary school students coloring their pictures upside-down. As a child, it would have never occurred to me to turn the picture around and start from the bottom only to work my way up. Once, I found a drill, during the time I was a fifth grade teacher, that suggested having the kids lay down on the floor, tape the paper to the bottom of the desk, take off their shoes and color with their toes. LOVED THAT! My classroom smelled like stinky fifth grade toe-cheese, but they had the best time.

A friend of mine who has been through prostate cancer, losing his job, loan issues, and being left by his wife with two kids, has decided to sell his house to buy a smaller one and pay off bills to be able to L*I*V*E. (I love you)

Sometimes we're so stuck in a rutt that we forget we have the ability to be our own change. Sometimes, after struggling in that rutt, weighing all of the options, playing the victim or trying to save everyone else's world, we realize that if we save our own world...everything else will fall into place.

WE...TAKE...CONTROL.

And I assure all of you...sometimes there is more freedom in a 95 cent can of chicken noodle soup than in a 40 dollar lobster dinner.



Images c/o ugly-christmas-trees.com; oneyearbibleblog.com

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nutella

After watching this video posted on fb,

I was talking to my fourteen year old student about angels and reincarnation, and she told me two things.
1. She told me the story of her grandfather, an Italian soldier captured by the Nazis and taken to Auschwitz. Her grandfather was an outgoing man who could sew, cook and clean, so they put him to work instead of sending him to the gas chamber. He spent six months in Auschwitz until he was liberated. Her grandfather died on Aug. 18th at 6:00pm about five years ago. The year after he died, her family visited and took a tour of Auschwitz on August 18th. They completed their tour, headed for their car, entered and turned on the radio. To their surprise, her grandfather's favorite song was playing, she looked at the clock and it read 6:00pm.

2. Her aunt's husband died in a horrifying motorcycle crash. Her aunt met her new husband at the funeral and one year later at age 40 had a baby.

A couple of days ago "a good friend of mine" called to talk to me and the first thing he said was, "So, have you put the gas pipe in your mouth yet?"

Every single day we suffer tragedies, insults, being laid off, not getting the loan, not being able to make the loan payment, horrifying diagnoses, family problems, situations with our kids...

This is life.

Life is also snow, an unexpected email, a first lost tooth, finding a five dollar bill in the street, a chocolate lindor ball, a new job, a new crush, a touchdown in the clutch, the day after Christmas...because after 24 hours, I promise, it does arrive.

When we consciously choose to suffer, we choose life. When we suffer and it is not by choice, we learn to appreciate life and the people who come in and out of it at the most unexpected moments.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

X-Rated Homework Talk

 
Ok. So yesterday Jordan, Sofia and I were sitting at the kitchen table doing homework- and the teachers are just laying it on strong before the holidays *three weeks of holidays* in preparation to lay it on stronger for those three weeks of holidays, when to avoid working we started talking middle school girls. Sofia is lethal. She sits quietly, observes and listens. Jordan just had his infamous holiday concert in the Duomo, which went really well. Yes, my deaf jewish son sings in a school choir and a church. It's always an emotional experience here.

Until, we started talking girls.
I asked, "Jordan, do you still like so-and-so?"
His reaction was taking the palm of his hand and moving it from his neck to his knees.

*JORDAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!*
He said, "Eh, Mamma, that's the way it is." The girls in my class have boobs now, but she doesn't.

Sofia burst out laughing.
* SOFIA!!!!!!!!!!!!*

I am not ready for this. I am not ready to have boob discussions with my son who yesterday was that baby with hearing aids sitting in the high chair fighting with me to not do his speech therapy lessons.

Twelve years later he's still fighting with me about homework, but he's singing in a choir and talking about boobs.

Give me strength.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Treasure Chest


I am so tired right now that I have absolutely no business blogging. But, I just really wanted to write one thing.

When we're kids, we claw to become adults.

I sucked myself into my mom's gold lamè pants, laced-up the platform white-patent leather boots and applied some horrendous shade of fm red when I was about twelve years old...

Yet, when we're adults, we can't help longing to be kids.

I almost walked around Florence with a reindeer headband, but didn't because it was for Sofia.

That's the beauty of having children...we get to be the adult and a kid. The important thing is to balance it out.

The true miracle occurs when your kid has an adult moment right while you're in the middle of a child moment...makes for one helluva snowball fight.

Image c/o clipartof.com

Friday, December 11, 2009

Born Deaf for a Reason

 
One week after Jordan was diagnosed as being profoundly Deaf, I dreamt of him asking me for three pieces of pizza. I never doubted he would speak. I just never imagined that thirteen years later he would speak to the mother of a newly diagnosed Deaf child.

During the holiday pep talk I had with my friend the other day, she asked me the question, "Does Jordan really understand the type of work you do? I mean, does he realize that everything you try to accomplish through writing, blogging, and offering support is a direct result of him?" I told her that I've explained to him how much he has taught me and how much he has enriched my life, how much I love him and how many parents there are out there who know his story..but I also said I didn't think he really understood exactly the type of work I'm trying to do.

I took him to Pisa today to participate in a study on multi-modal integration- how the brain is able to process both visual and auditory messages per request of my ci surgeon. I asked the speech therapist to organize a meeting with a parent of a deaf baby because I was bringing Jordan.

I met with a mom and her absolutely adorable eighteen month old baby. She asked ME a million questions and Jordan answered all of them. I never opened my mouth. She said, "Was it really hard in elementary school, did your friends make fun of you because you wore hearing aids?" He said, "Yes, they made fun of me. It wasn't easy. But I always played sports like swimming, basketball and baseball. And I went right from pre-school to third grade." I was like "WHAT?" First of all, I said, "You never skipped first and second grade- you must have blocked them out- they weren't the easiest of years and you were a temper-tantrum throwing fighter who always got along with your friends except for a couple." He was a champion...and the mom was really, really happy to talk to him.

 

I sat back and observed my thirteen year old son talk about his life, the fact that he must choose a high school next year, his psp, mp3 and his crazy sister. He told this mom his life story. As we were getting off the train earlier, I said to him, "Jordan, it's possible you may have to speak to a mom when we get there, try not to be timid." He replied, "I'm only shy in front of women." ROTFL.

He was not shy.

That was the first incredible moment of the day...Jordan helping a mom and a younger baby.

The second amazing moment was hanging out with Michele, an older Deaf man, someone for Jordan to identify with. Loved that. Jordan once again told his life story and they talked high school, cis (they both said that when they put on the ci first thing in the morning it's like electric shock to the system-silence to sound-and that it takes ten minutes to handle the world...they also compared stories of people staring at their cis to the point where they say, "Do you want me to explain to you what's on my ear?") and women. Michele's mom and I were the moms watching our "kids" and loving it.

 

His mom gave me an angel charm for my cell phone that I will NEVER take off.

 

Jordan is a special child and I am so blessed to be his mother. He shares himself with others, and even at 13 years old he is conscious that he has overcome difficulties...that he still encounters frustrations on a daily basis...but most importantly...he talks about all of that with others.

I have a hearing Deaf child who listens to what others silently request of him.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Christmas Country

 
The day of the twentieth reunion, I spoke to Debbie, excited to finally be able to see her. While we were talking, she made the comment that I sound like a pissed off cheerleader when I write and that I allude to the actual situation without really telling it like it is...which is true. I consciously try to explain the situation without explaining the situation. Baring the soul is not always the best means to an end, but maybe sometimes it's necessary. I've told it like it is regarding Jordan's experience, but not regarding the rest. For today, one time only, I am baring it all, because I know I can't possibly be the only one living this complicated situation.

I am a newly-separated Jewish woman living in Christmas-Land, where hypocrisy rules.

Until I got married, I never had a Christmas tree, Christmas lunch, dinner, day after lunch and dinner...that then stretches into New Year's Eve, and in Italy we're REALLY LUCKY that the holiday lasts until January 6th when the Befana flies in on her broom to give more presents. I have begun the countdown to the end...-27 days.

People are already running around bitching..."The kids are going to be home for three weeks, what a pain!"..."I have so much Christmas shopping to do and no money!" ..."The lines are so long and the prices are so high!"

I find myself wondering, hmm, how am I going to deal with this Christmas and my in-laws, obviously I have no other family here, so it's just me and them.

I spoke to my friend about this issue and she told me to reflect. I've been reflecting on the hypocrisy of Christmas instead of the beauty...the kids.

I love that my kids are home for the holidays and that we can snuggle up together. I adore that they have time to play.

The adults have so much bs to manage on a daily basis that magic has left their lives. And there is certainly a fine balance to making the Christmas holiday magical and not a period of spoiling your kids.

I have always appreciated Christmas as a time to spend with family for my kids to establish traditions that they will live as happy memories as they grow. They don't know that so and so is dying of cancer, that their aunt or uncle is in the middle of a divorce and can't stand his or her parents who don't support her, nor that grandma and grandpa just took out a second mortgage to pay for Christmas lunch and presents. They don't care. They want to look around the table and see the faces they love.

I choose to view this holiday season through the eyes of my kids and not through the hypocrisy of adults...that is why this holiday may quite possibly reveal the true meaning of giving.

image c/o vosizneias.com

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Time for a Change: Paula's New Journey Starts Now


I met Paula on the listserves and have loved her ever since. Her long arm reaches out to families in need and stretches overseas at least a couple of times a month to smack me back into shape. Her encouraging words, style, way of asserting herself and holding her ground have inspired me and cracked me up. Everything she does has a purpose, meaning and spirit...rare qualities in a person. She also blushes at sexual references and makes a damn good cupcake!

After so many years of standing by her daughter's side, her daughter has become little miss independent, which perhaps has caused Paula to want to do something for herself for the first time in her life. So, she is taking everything her life experiences have taught her and investing in Paula- love that!

Paula's Bittersweet Fond Farewell to Hearing Exchange...

It has been quite a while since you've heard from me via a newsletter or in a HearingExchange blog post. It is a bittersweet time for me as I am writing to tell you that after nearly 10 years of serving thousands of people with hearing loss and their families, I am "closing up" the HearingExchange blog and community.

When I first started HearingExchange, I was a part-time single parent with hearing loss, living in St. Louis so my then 4 year old daughter could attend the Moog Center for Deaf Education. She had been late diagnosed with her own rapidly progressive hearing loss and had both expressive and receptive language delays as a result. After trying out a local oral deaf program, I researched many others and decided to take a big chance and move across the country for what I hoped would be a better program. It was to be the biggest risk I ever took, but also had the greatest payoff beyond my dreams.

For three years my husband flew back and forth weekly between St. Louis and New York, where he worked. To fill the void of quiet evenings alone, and with young toddlers tucked into bed, I sat down to create a website and newsletter, aptly named HearingExchange. My first article, "5 Things to Teach Your Deaf or Hard of Hearing Child" became my all time most widely requested article. In fact, I'm proud to say that all of my articles were very well received and many were written as a direct result of emails I received asking for advice. Many of them can be found online here.

Today, my daughter is an incredibly well-adjusted 8th grader, just weeks away from her 14th birthday. She excels both academically and socially and has been mainstreamed in public school since 1st grade. Making the difficult, but temporary, move from New York to St. Louis afforded her the wonderful opportunity to catch up quickly in language, develop her self-confidence and blossom into the amazing young woman she has become. As she said at her bat mitzvah last year, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!" St. Louis and all that we gained there has left an indelible mark on our lives.

It has given me great pleasure to offer you advice, resources, chats, message board forums, free tips articles for syndication and specially selected hearing loss products and publications for all these years. I also loved speaking all over the country to groups and organizations about hearing loss, cochlear implants and raising a deaf child. But now, it is time for a change.

I am getting ready to launch a new business, Just A Bite Desserts, which will require a lot of my time and attention for product development, launching and marketing. I am very excited about this project as it combines my love of both food and entrepreneurship. Please feel free to check out the new blog and follow me on Twitter. There is a fan page on Facebook as well which you can join here.

Thank you so much for your loyal following and for allowing me to serve you through HearingExchange. It truly has been a wonderful endeavor for me and I hope that you found HearingExchange a valuable resource.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year,

Paula

Paula Rosenthal, J.D. - Publisher & Speaker
HearingExchange
Helping People Deal with Hearing Loss since 2000
www.HearingExchange.com


*PS. Thank you*

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Music in Our Lives


The twenty year high school reunion was like a starting point for me. It was a moment where I looked my past in so many eyes and became aware of my present...and it is time to move forward.

WE had no music in our lives for so many years of hearing aids.
The cochlear implant changed that and gave us a new beginning.

Jordan is currently preparing a guitar piece for his winter recital and has requested an iPod for Hanukkah/Christmas, need I say more?

My hope is that parents of newly diagnosed deaf children will find this blog, see the musical notes and realize that their child will not miss out on music. And that it is only by living and taking risks, that we may truly appreciate the lyrics.

The past three years have brought about significant change in our family, and while change may be terrifying, sometimes it is necessary. Every single day we deal with our insecurities, and it is only when we look them in the eye and make them our strengths do we truly appreciate the journey.

image c/o dreamstime.com

Friday, December 4, 2009

Spilt Milk


During oppressive periods of our lives, negative casualities directly affect our moods, our behavior and our level of stress. During limbo periods, concentrated negative events seem to conspire to wipe us out, yet the human spirit is resilient, so we battle and claw. It's kind of a cyclical thing, until we overcome so many glitches and blows to the point where we learn to know ourselves and how we react in extreme situations.

For example:
Sofia Madyson decides she wants something to drink.

Sofia: "MOMMMMMMMYYYYYYYY! I want a glass of orange juice NOW!!!"
Mommy: "Sofia, number one- that is just not the way to ask for something. Ask me nicely and properly, please."
Sofia Madyson: "Mommy, could I please have a glass of orange juice?"
Mommy: "Of course you may, my adorable child, you know where the refrigerator and the glasses are...please feel free to walk yourself downstairs and pour yourself a delicious glass of orange juice."
Sofia: "No, Mommy, you do it."
Mommy: "No, Sofia, you are the one who's thirsty, you do it."
Sofia: *Screaming temper tantrum- feet kicking, arms flailing*
Mommy: *Patient and waiting with kleenex in hand*
Sofia Madyson: (Sniffling) "Mommy, look at my nose."
Mommy: (Wipes nose and waits)
Sofia Madyson: (Looks at me, lowers eyes and walks downstairs where I hear the fridge opening and Sofia Madyson pouring herself a glass of orange juice. Obviously, the next tragedy occurs) "Mommmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyy, I spilled the orange juice!"
Mommy: (Walking calmly downstairs thinking, why didn't I just pour the damn orange juice??) "Don't worry Sofia, I'm proud of you for getting your own glass of oj, next time just be more careful while pouring."

Jordan: (From upstairs) "Mamma, could I please have a glass of Coke!"
Mommy: "Get your butt downstairs and pour it yourself, I am not your slave- Mamma!
Jordan: (Walking downstairs) "Calm yourself, Mamma, here I am."

And there he was, pouring himself a glass of Coke without spilling a drop.

Life teaches us lessons every day; people teach us lessons every day. We must have the will to learn and the courage to clean up the spills...until we pour that glass of oj without spilling a drop, shedding a tear or hurling something at our computer screen.

Image c/o realestatewebmasters.com

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My (Business) Date


*Smile*
Ok. So, I had this huge meeting in Rome yesterday and I had to wake up at 7,30 am, which was 1,30 am. USA time and I'm still on USA time. I took the train to Rome and did some work on the computer which thankfully worked on and off during the train ride. I have been corresponding with the gentleman I was to meet for the past three months and was looking forward to meeting him to discuss the Newborn Hearing Screening project.

He called me while I was on the train and said he was waiting at the end of the platform and to look for a man in a checked sportcoat carrying a brown leather bag. There he was, my sixty-something man who I hoped would make my life. I gave him the old European double kiss greeting and we were on our way. We took a taxi to a bistro where we proceeded to discuss my project, I whipped out my computer and showed him all of the necessary information. Our bigger meeting was scheduled for four o'clock, but he had requested to meet me for lunch beforehand, and all of this started at 12:00pm. We talked newborn hearing screening for two hours and then sat down to a lovely lunch.

*At this point it was 8:00 am USA time and my brain stopped functioning*

He ordered wine, so after about two glasses and a delicious lunch, he suggested we go for a walk to a cafe for dessert. I said, "Perfect!" Off we went, me, exhausted and wearing heels that were killing my feet-I never wear heels. We walked for about thirty minutes and just when I thought I was going to absolutely lay down in the middle of the street, we found an outdoor cafe.

I didn't know what to do, I was going to collapse. So, I looked him straight in the eyes and said, "Have you ever lost your head for someone?" I almost gave him a heartattack. We were there to talk business, but I figure, my role is that of a mother, so I can do these things. His eyes lit up and he started telling me about someone from his past. This woman told him how important it was to "appreciate the moment." (I would love to go into details, but I can't)

Well, there we were appreciating the moment. A beautiful sunny day in Rome eating an ice-cream truffle floating in coffee and talking about his past, which was rather interesting. I mean seriously, I come into contact with fascinating people who travel the world and who meet other fascinating people, why shouldn't I pry?

Um, the meeting didn't exactly go as I'd hoped, but I have faith. I kind of yelled at him when he left me at the train station and he said he liked that I was a passionate woman.

*Thanks*

I passed out on the train.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Independent Child


Once upon a time, I was a neurotic mother. When Jordan was born, I tried unsuccessfully to breastfeed, so unsuccessfully- that he probably starved his first month of life. The breastfeeding nazis slammed me by saying, "YOU MUST BREASTFEED OR YOUR BABY WILL NOT GET IMPORTANT VITAMINS AND MINERALS THAT WILL SAVE HIS LIFE IN THE FUTURE!!!" I had no breastmilk. Jordan would attach his miniscule hand to my hair, scream and cry...and I would pump, syringe feed, pump, syringe feed until I could feel my nipples no more. Yet...I had nothing. One night I had four of my power breastfeeding friends with perfect breastfeeding boobs at my house to cheer me on in my most horrifying moment of desperation. All it did was make me feel frustrated and inadequate.

Then, I tried formula and Jordan never stopped drinking. He would wake up at least six times a night for a bottle, and I was right there with him, the baby-starving, milkless mommy. We became attached. He cried, I ran. I never left him once.

We moved to Italy, found out he was deaf and I became a stay-at-home recluse when I wasn't out strolling him around and teaching him to speak. We never got babysitters because I was the only one who could understand his silent needs, the only one to alleviate his unspoken screaming frustrations.

He became our world and our life, literally.

We were the model couple for what not to do. Jordan slept in our bed for six years until I managed to transfer him to his bed and only by laying with him would he fall asleep. I was convinced he was terrified of the dark because he couldn't hear. He could only fall asleep twirling my hair.

Year by year, experience by experience he grew and we separated. Sofia's arrival and her independent nature made an enormous difference in our lives, because Jordan was no longer the center of our world- it was shared by two beautiful lives.

They have grown and are growing into two independent, self-assured children who no longer need to have their mommy by their side 24-7.

But maybe it wasn't just Jordan's needs...maybe it was my obsession in being the perfect mommy who never left her child. Perhaps, I needed to feel needed and never realized it. As much as Jordan needed to become independent and grow...so did I. So as we both let go of each other slowly...we both grew slowly to the point that I left my kids with their dad for nine whole days.

I talked to them by phone every day, and every single phone conversation I could tell that they were happy and having a great time even without their mommy. What a beautiful thing.

When I came back with bags of presents, they were happy to see me for about ten minutes and then they resumed their daily routines.

Strangely enough...I have well-adjusted kids and I am adjusting well.

Life is good.

Image c/o babble.com

Monday, November 30, 2009

Twenty Years Later...

 

Twenty years after storming the graduation hall to the tune of Rob Base's "Joy and Pain," we gathered in a room in which I had passed many a crazy night, yet that night I did not drink...I absorbed. Twenty years later there was a lot, a lot less hair:-)but a lot more heart. People have lived marriages, births, betrayals, divorces, heartbreak and loss. Yet, there were smilin' faces that night. Genuine smiling faces, not phony shit. And I liked that...

I maybe didn't recognize three people, the rest looked enough like they did in high school to elicit a "Wow" and an "Oh MY GOD!"

I made small-talk the entire night, but it was quality small-talk. I will say that the girls were way hotter than the guys, we know our products. Some people have never changed from the peppy, spunky, flirty, sit-on-your-lap type, while very few others had a silent, self-assured look about them that spoke a clear message of business success and worldliness. Strange, yet true.

I saw my junior prom date and met his wife- an adorable couple. He asked me why I straightened my hair and said he preferred girls with curly hair..hahahaha.

I saw an ex-really good friend who I haven't spoken to for many years after a falling out. I would have stayed and talked to her for hours, asked her about her children and family, but when she saw me, she "Over-hello'd" me and scared the shit out of me by how phony that hello was...I kissed her on the cheek and wished her well.

As far as I lived that reunion, and I'm glad I went, I was genuinely happy to see faces from the past, faces I've reconnected with via facebook and whose lives still touch me.

Someone came up to me and said, "I can't believe this person did not say hi to me, is it possible that people haven't changed after 20 years??"

I said, "Are you sure she recognized you??" He wasn't sure.

What I didn't say is that, maybe, just maybe, those same old high school insecurities re-surfaced in the face of a once-popular smokin' hot girl *smile*.

Another person talked to a friend of ours about how she was having problems making her boyfriend commit. We discussed how people are always looking for more, something "better" and they are never happy with what they have. I met her boyfriend. Slime-city...SHE deserves more. Sometimes love is so blind..blinded by our own self-doubts and not really believing WE deserve better.

Sometimes we choose a path and we are convinced that is the 100% absolute right path for us to the point that we insist in making it the right path. We fight with all we are because it truly seems to be the right direction, because the idea of taking another path is so completely scary that we cannot fathom stepping off that smoothly-paved road. One day, something knocks us off that path and we find our feet walking another one, a little rougher, but maybe..the right one in the end.

The most bizarre event of the evening was that the guy who took me to school every day of High School told me about his life for at least twenty minutes straight..I swear he did not say one word for four years while driving me to school. People evolve. LOL..adorable.

Then, I noticed one girl being helped to the bathroom because she drank too much and two 38 year old girls dancing together and they did get down...just like they did 20 years ago- LOVED THAT!

We all deal with shit every single day, yet some people really have to dig excessive loads and they always manage to find the daisy peeping out of that mound - while others focus and dwell on the color, texture and odor of it. My friend Debbie was born with a daisy halo, because as difficult and challenging as her life may be, she always finds the meaning behind her journey.

And that night, she looked just like she did twenty years ago, not like when I saw her during the summer, but just like in high school- when the only worries we had were whether or not our crush was going to say hi to us in the hall during breaks or if we'd pass our SATs and get into the college of our choice.

*This American Mom is back in Tuscany...but I definitely enjoyed the ride*

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mac The Knife

 
I was talking to a special person yesterday who gave me a sacred glimpse into a new perspective on life. This wise person hit me with a little Yankees trivia, and we all know I love a baseball analogy..."The 1998 Yankees are widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest teams in baseball history, compiling a then-AL record 114 regular season wins against just 48 losses and then sweeping the San Diego Padres in the 1998 World Series. Their 125 combined regular and postseason wins is an MLB single season record."

125 wins...crazy. Only 50 losses in an entire season. It's as impossible as it can get to win every single game in any given season.

My season officially started nine days ago, and I have just had nine perfect days.

Heading back to Tuscany tomorrow...
Kids!!!!! Mamma's comin' home!!!!
*Smile*

\

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Carpe Diem

 
For many people today will be extremely painful. Whether you find yourself alone, a missing place at that table or surrounded by family members who do not understand you, today may be a painful place to be. I never realized just how hurtful holidays can be until I spent three days last Christmas, and Christmas is an acquired tradition for me...separated..walking around looking at smiling families carrying Christmas purchases under the glowing, happy Christmas lights.

I don't know if this happens to anyone else, but there are certain stores that when I walk inside, send me directly to the bathroom. (Nordstrom's Rack and TJ MAXX are two of those infamous ones)If I could avoid that crisis sweating situation by going directly to the bathroom, I would, but ya just have to wait til it hits you or the precautionary measures are futile.

Sitting around the Thanksgiving table may provoke some type of unexpected depressing rush that you cannot avoid by prepping yourself, as hard as you may try. For my friends who are parents of deaf children, your family members may stress you out by asking you "Why does she talk like that?" or even worse, "Why isn't she talking yet?" If you are deaf, the table conversation may be more than you can handle and the whole event may just be plain tiring and frustrating. This past year, I have been surrounded by shit and stepped in it, but I just shake it off, wipe it off and move on. I have learned to appreciate moments.

During my lowest moments I receive emails from people I don't even know telling me about difficult situations and encouraging me to write. Thank you so much to all of you.

I have been given the gift of Thanksgiving this year. I celebrated Thanksgiving when I walked into the home yesterday to see my Gram. She looked up from her wheelchair and screamed, "JODI!!!" No dementia yesterday. She was in rare form and even applied lipstick. Hilarious....haven't laughed so hard in a long time.

Tonight I will be with my parents at a restaurant with many missing places at that table. I will hold my mom's hand and tell her that I love her as I shove turkey down my throat.

Thirteen years without Thanksgiving is such a long time. Thank you to the people who have supported me, loved me and told me continuously to look forward. I give the same advice to those reading who find themselves in a Thanksgiving Day rutt. Look forward because it is only 24 hours long. Do not dwell on the empty placesetting, fill it with something that made you smile. Put on some lipstick and if you are not the lipstick type, gel up your hair.

And if things are really, really bad...run to your nearest Starbuck's and order up a Pumpkin Spice Latte heavy on the whip, cause that, my friends, is Thanksgiving in a cup.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fairy Dust: Sprinkle With Care


I had this vicious dream about a year ago. I was standing on the beach with my back to the sea and I saw three tornadoes from a distance approaching rapidly. The first tornado veered off into the sea, the second tornado passed me by and the third and biggest came directly at me. It stopped in front of me and a face appeared in the middle of the tornado. It stared directly into my eyes and I awoke..breathing heavily.

There are situations in life over which we have no control. As adults we have the power to make decisions even when others seemingly control our destiny- we can control how we act, feel and respond in these situations based on how we have lived other traumatic events.

Sofia is in the staring the tornado in the face phase, but she has no prior traumatic experiences from which to draw strength.

Once upon a time...I was Sofia.

Sofia: MOMMY I HAVE A STOMACHACHE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Me: (hugging Sofia) Sofia, you know, last night I had a dream and an angel came to talk to me. She told me you were having bad dreams and seeing monsters and she was very worried about you, because she loves you. She gave me something magical to give to you.

Sofia: What Mommy?

Me: (hiding hand clenched in a fist) She gave me a fistful of magical fairy dust, she put it right in the palm of my hand.

Sofia: Mommy, come on, there's no such thing as fairydust.

Me: Well, now, I sure am sorry you feel that way, because the angel told me it's only for very imaginative, intelligent little girls who love Lady Gaga.

Sofia: Go on.

Me: Magical fairydust can only be seen in dreams because the colors are so bright and glittery that a human eye would go blind if it were visible not in dreams. It's a kind of powerful stuff that you can only see when you close your eyes and try to imagine being close enough to touch a rainbow.

Sofia: (staring at my fist) So, what does it do?

Me: The angel told me that everytime you have a bad dream or feel so sad that your stomach starts to hurt, you need to take a fistful of fairydust, throw it at the monster or rub it on your tummy and millions of sparkling butterflies will appear before your eyes.

Sofia: (Smiling)

Me: I was instructed to put the dust in the palm of your hand, you have to squeeze it tightly and then we put it over your heart together, only then will it work in case of monsters.

We performed the ritual and Sofia smiled.

Sofia: Mommy, it works, my stomachache is gone!

 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Old


I spoke before speech therapists and child psychiatrists at the two day Cochlear Implant Conference in Pisa, Friday and Saturday, and my favorite line- in honor of Naomi- was "A mom should be allowed to be a Mom and an ice-cream cone...an ice-cream cone!" - Not just teaching moments 24-exhausting-7.

Whenever I have to speak, I get extremely nervous and have this emotional shake thing take over. So, when I stand before the group- and for some reason speaking before 50 is much more intimidating than 500-maybe because they can see my wrinkles and visible shakes better than when there's a huge crowd...I shake more. I tried to hold hands with myself. It kind of worked. Anyway, I made my points, and gave resources for them to take back to the parents.

My speech therapist, Iris was there and there we were in the same room, listening to the same Professors and Doctors delivering information on arguments like Cochlear Implant Surgical Techniques, Mapping a Cochlear Implant, The Cochlear Implant and Multi-Disability, etc. At one point, I swear I laughed out loud. People turned and stared. I just kept thinking how twelve years ago, I walked into my speech therapist's office, didn't know a word of Italian and literally broke down crying hysterically trying to explain that fact to her as I handed over Jordan.

Fast forward twelve years later and there we were at the same conference and I could understand everything. Insane. I thanked her during my speech and admitted I was the worst mother at creating those damn teaching books and gathering material necessary for her speech therapy lessons...but somehow we made it work together. We ate together during the "Working Lunch" and at one point another speech therapist walked over to us. She said, "Jodi, you know, first of all you did a great job. Second of all, you look like a teenager. I saw you and Jordan just before the cochlear implant surgery and you were another person than the woman standing in front of me now. Really, you look ten years younger."

My jaw dropped.

A compliment made woman to woman may be held as an undeniable truth. There's absolutely no risk that they want to take you to bed, so you have no choice other than to accept it as fact. And so I did.

Forget about youth cream, get your kid a cochlear implant.

*Smile*

And I will admit, lately I've been getting the urge to cube.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Silver Spoon


I have five minutes literally to throw out this post, but if I don't do it now, I'll forget and it's important to me to say what I am about to say.

Work Ethic

One of my favorite former students who is now a twenty year old Italian University student just posted this on facebook:
"How many people wanted to become a star, how many people have ended up at McDonalds flipping Big Macs or frying up donuts? I am so thankful for my lucky star..."

I responded to his post and now I will respond here.

I come from divorced parents and I have been very independent since an early age. I started babysitting when I was thirteen, worked in fast food during high school while playing three sports each year. I worked as a cocktail waitress in college and after college I worked three jobs to pay for more courses towards a Masters in Education..which I never completed because I got pregnant, married and moved here.

I spent four years at the Univ. of Md. College Park.

I can assure everyone reading this blog post that what my experience working in fast food taught me...no course at the University EVER did. Dealing with unhappy, dissatisfied, grumpy people on a daily basis who send back food, complain because the coffee isn't hot enough, who want the damn cream cheese on the side of the bagel teaches you interpersonal, diplomatic skills in a way that taking notes in Psych 101 will NEVER do. Handling money, counting change and maintaining a perfect cash drawer teaches you RESPONSIBILITY and ethics in a way that Calc 220 will NEVER do.

And dealing with assholes who try to pat your butt as you're serving beer without smacking them upside the head, gives you confidence and grace in how you move through your life.

So at this very moment, I would like to applaud the people working in fast food who take extreme pride in their job and who smile at miserable people while working double shifts to pay their bills...on time.

I pity the silver spoon.

*Finished*

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Oxygen, Please


Yesterday I stopped breathing at least five times..and managed to recover. Support comes at the most unexpected times from the most unexpected places. I asked for help, resources...and I received it all - in two days. Miraculous and beautiful.

I have had the extreme pleasure and fortune to have been working with five exceptional women passionately involved in parental support in Deafness. Five intelligent women who have been around the block gazillions of times before I even learned to crawl in this environment. I have complained about how frustratingly slow Italy is in responding to requests and how difficult the process has been- note: they have ALWAYS come through in the end- but I've had to sweat so many times. I posed the simple question to the ladies: Has anyone got any material regarding pediatric courses in Newborn Hearing Screening and Deafness? Pauline Walker from the UK gave me the name and an email address of Gwen Carr and she responded in two hours of my request from her cell phone on vacation to tell me she would be returning on Monday and would get back to me on Tuesday. She replied to me again on MONDAY!!!!

*Humble and grateful me*

Leeanne Seaver of Hands & Voices sent an appeal to her contacts (you should have only seen the email she sent) and I received replies two days later from Christine Yoshinaga-Itano, Mary Pat Moeller and Cheryl Johnson. Note: I stopped breathing after every single one of their emails filled with excellent resources and ideas, aside from the fact that they are all leading researchers in the field who I cite when giving presentations. I may have well received emails from Angelina Jolie and George Clooney- SAME EFFECT!

*USA USA USA*

We had a SKYPE conference call with the GPOD women last night, my first one ever and it took me at least three minutes to figure it out: UK, USA, Italy, Australia on the horn. We discussed the survey and while I can't go into the details right now because we are still collecting data, I will say that we have results from over 28 countries worldwide...thank you so much for completing the survey.

I honestly still ask myself how the hell I am a part of all of this and the remarkable thing is that it just keeps getting bigger...all because of our book- the starting point that catapulted me into an arena that has expanded my mind and has given me the opportunity of providing resources to others that were so lacking during our experience with Jordan.

Sharon, one of my guardian angels/devil's advocate:-) who I met through this blog left a comment that I still have not answered. She asked me if I discuss sign language as an option when I meet with these families. My honest response is no, I don't. Not because I don't believe in sign language, but because to propose sign to a family whose child has just been diagnosed as being deaf, I would need to have resources. I had contacted the President of the NAD equivalent- ENS and never received a reply. I certainly can't invent things myself, especially in Italian. While working with these families I listen and offer support based on our experience, many times it's just one phone call where I reassure them. Then, they take it from there and do their own research. I am not adequately armed to arm them.

*Divine Providence*

I met with Dr. Elena Radutzky today, a fascinating woman, about an American Fulbright scholar coming to study in Italy. Dr. Radutzky is just an unbelievably phenomenal woman with a history of experience internationally, and at our meeting she started pulling out names and email addresses of people who are just the contacts I need to supply my missing information. I seriously find it incredible how the right people at the right time step in line in this entire process. The road has been paved and now I must walk it and plant as I go along for the next person who chooses this path. I don't feel like there's a choice, it just is.

*Thankful?*

I am the most grateful person in the world right now. Aside from the exceptional men I have had the privilege of working with, and I have been working with truly amazing ones, I will say this:

No passion exists like that of a woman. No level of empathy surpasses that demonstrated by a woman. And when you combine the love of many mothers with the passion of many women, you build Rome in a day.

 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hear the World Expedition

A mom from the CI Circle just posted this information that you may find useful:
Call of the Wild: Amazon Adventure 2010, Peru
Introducing Hear the World Expeditions

 

Phonak's Hear the World and Global Explorers have launched the first-ever Hear the World Expedition, an adventure journey of a lifetime scheduled for July 2010 for hearing-impaired students aged 17-22. During this unique trip into the Amazon, students will explore the incredible rainforest with field scientists, interact with a rich and diverse culture of people, participate in one of the most unique "outdoor classroom" settings in the world and build friendships with other students that can last a lifetime. Because we believe that this opportunity should be open to every student possible, we ask hearing health professionals to help identify and encourage those students who may be outstanding candidates for the trip (click here to read more). To nominate a student or begin the application process, please visit www.globalexplorers.org.

Application deadline is December 15, 2009.

Global Explorers is a nonprofit organization driven by passion for sharing the most educational and life-changing travel experiences available to students of all abilities and backgrounds. Their programs are driven by education and offer a comprehensive, responsible travel experience designed to genuinely enhance the lives of participants in the most meaningful way possible. They work with groups of middle school, high school and college-aged students and their educators from schools and
organizations of all types.

Hear the World is a global initiative by Phonak to raise awareness about the importance of hearing and the consequences of hearing loss - a problem that affects more than 16% of the world's population. The Initiative addresses the social and psychological effects of hearing loss, and provides information on prevention and solutions. Hear the World is committed to making people aware of how important it is to avoid hearing loss and how to take prompt steps to correct it.

A primary focus for Hear the World is to help create a world where hearing loss is no longer a handicap. Hear the World Expeditions is one great step toward making that vision a reality.

For more information on Hear the World, please visit www.hear-the-world.com.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Infamous 20 Year High School Reunion


I'm desperately trying to control myself, my excitement and my dying to come home because I'm not leaving for another twelve days, but it's fairly close to impossible to not bounce as I walk. I have taken a vow of self-control, and I'm starting to think it's rather boring. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!

First of all, I desperately need to leave the Tuscan scene, it's killing me. I don't desperately need to leave my kids, but there is no Thanksgiving break here, so I can't take them with me. I have not been home for Thanksgiving in thirteen years. I've been trying to imagine the scene, that's how the going back to Elementary School post came to mind, but it's painful. I spent my last Thanksgiving with my grandfather who is no longer with us and my grandmother who is with us but not entirely. I know that all these Thanksgiving memories will flood back and I will crave the kids' table that I so desperately wanted to leave behind to finally graduate to the adults' table. This year, I will volunteer to trade places with a child- just send me straight to the kids' table and let us chat psp and wii.

When I was in High School, I read the play "Our Town" in Mr. Gray's twelfth grade English class. I was in love with Mr. Gray. There is a scene in that play where Emily asks to go back to a moment in her life and her wish is granted. What she sees is herself going through the motions on one of her birthdays. She watches her mom and her dad and realizes how precious they were, yet that she never really absorbed them completely, fully. Reading that play gave me a new perspective on my loved ones, and I always really tried to concentrate on them, especially during holidays to remember how they smelled, how they smiled, how they breathed and above all how they laughed. But those intense try-to-remember-and-absorb-moments have faded.

There is no turkey in Tuscany, the ovens aren't big enough. Stuffing? Non-existent. My memories, feelings, culture are so totally different than what happens here, and I need to go home.

Today I spent the day alone, and I was fine. Speaking of culture, Sundays are spend the day at the mother-in-law's house and eat til you pass out. No longer an option. My kids ate til they passed out and were so happy- this is a fundamental part of their growing up culture. Now I find myself here in this place without family and it is not an easy situation. Yet, at the same time, it's okay. Life changes and we change with it, adapt and see the glass as half full.

I don't know exactly how to explain the feeling, but I have been so many different Jodis that I'm trying to figure out how the hell to come to peace with this one..the current one. The high school reunion thing has me somewhat in crisis. First of all, I don't know if I can go because my plane leaves the next day and the night before I leave is always critical spend the last moments with loved ones time. Second of all, thinking about my reunion makes me think about the high school Jodi and it terrifies me to think how much I've changed yet stayed the same. Twenty years is a long, very long time.

The good news is that I have no enemies from high school, so I come with a clear conscience. I've reunited with most people via facebook, so the surprises will be limited. I will say that I'm curious to see who comes, who's changed and who's stayed the same. But, I could live the rest of my life without attending the reunion and survive...it's just that there's this curiosity thing goin' on.

Anyway, I will say this. Twenty years later, I am satisfied with who I have become. And I consider myself extremely fortunate.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Going Back to Elementary School


I loved Elementary school. I had the most spectacular class and incredible memories of kickball tournaments, after-school rollerskating events to the tune of "Another One Bites the Dust", lunchroom "Truth or Dare" games and sleepovers at my girlfriends' houses (they had Ken and the Barbie convertible). Loved that school- Church Lane Elementary, the time spent there really saved my life in many ways.

About ten years ago, I drove past the school, stopped my car and walked inside. I saw the dreaded principal's office to my right and really expected to see the old principal. She was no longer there. I looked in front of me and everything looked so, so tiny. I walked into the Multi-Purpose Room on the left and my eye caught the infamous grate under the stage where I sang my first (and last) solo, "Bye Bye Birdie!" Right by that grate was where this really huge and intimidating fifth grade girl named Beth gave me an education regarding the most offensive swear words. I was horrified, yet fascinated...and I have never forgotten those words. Actually they are a fundamental part of my vocabulary to this very day.

After leaving the room, I took a walk down to my first grade classroom...OMG, everything was miniscule!!!! And EVERYTHING smelled the same including the bathroom where my best friend got her period for the first time. Nothing like getting your period in fifth grade to be the envy of all the other underdeveloped girls in the class.

Overall sensation: Nostalgia and Yes...I had outgrown Church Lane Elementary School.

Unbelievable character-forming memories...never to be relived- but always to be appreciated, truly appreciated.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Smokin'!

Hot off the press!!!
NHS 2010 - Beyond Newborn Hearing Screening: Infant and Childhood Hearing in Science and Clinical Practice
Villa Erba Congress Center, Cernobbio, Italy
June 8 10, 2010

(I'm hoping to be in a better hotel this time and not one with a plastic shower box in my room and a turkish toilet down the hall- not that it matters- I'm there!)

 


*Italy's finest in eye-candy to hold your attention*

The NHS 2010 will include Keynote addresses, free communications, massive
poster sessions, Workshops and a number of Satellite Events and Special
Sessions. To name a few:

- A series of linked workshops on the theme of delivering an effective
screening programme organised by the National Health Service Newborn
Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP) from UK;

- A Special Session on the state of implementation of Early Hearing
Detection and Intervention Programs (EHDI). National and Regional
representatives will report on the state-of-the-art from all around the
world;

- A Special Session on EHDI in Developing Countries Opportunities &
Challenges;

- The General Assembly of the EFAS (European Federation of Audiology
Societies) for National Representatives;

*AND....HEH HEM...*


- A Session entirely dedicated to family support, organized by the Global Coalition of Parents of Deaf/Hard of Hearing Children (GPOD);

WAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!


- Oticon Paediatric Symposium;

- Phonak Satellite Event (Richard Seewald among other guests).

The topics will cover all aspects related to early hearing intervention,
from comprehensive reviews on plasticity and re-organization of Central
Auditory System (Anu Sharma, Keynote Lecturer) to educational Workshops,
from improving methods and protocols to assess hearing in newborns and
infants to family issues, from strategies to improve the outcomes of EHDI
programs to new concepts in hearing aid fitting and advances in cochlear
implantation.
Join us in making this historic event another great success!

NHS2010 Secretariat

Remember:
Abstract submission: January 25, 2010
Notification of acceptance (oral or poster): March 8, 2010
Early registration and Hotel accommodation: April 12, 2010

www.nhs2010.org


For those of you who may have missed the news, *smile* there will be an entire session dedicated to parental support, where the GPOD members will present a paper on the famous survey completed by many of you, the amazing parents reading this blog post. If you still haven't completed the survey, click here. Note: this survey has been translated in Arabic, Chinese, French and Spanish (I would be the slacker who hasn't translated it into Italian). So, thank you for being a part of this exciting and revolutionary moment in time, when the parental voice is being incorporated in the NHS process.

Very special thanks to Professor Ferdinando Grandori who has encouraged and supported the GPOD mission:

Mission Statement: The GPOD promotes a communication-unbiased parent perspective to early identification and intervention systems, educational systems, and support services for families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing. GPOD is an international collaboration of parent groups dedicated to promoting improved systemic protocols and practices which encourage informed choice and the empowerment of families with children who are deaf or have hearing loss.

...since that very first meeting under the tree.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

2 Years Blogging -Goal for Year 3: Self-Control


It's been two years and I still haven't learned the art of self-control. I react without counting to three and whatever happens, happens. I can't go on like this, it's oftentimes counter-productive. Writing is the perfect way to get things off your chest, but sometimes some of that chest stuff needs to remain there. So, while I'd like to spit a lot of stuff right now, I can't. This creates double the amount of frustration. I need to say a lot, write a lot, and I can't, because at a certain point I need to learn self-control and how to manage issues without writing them in my blog- which is really what I've been doing for the past two years.

Two years ago I started writing this blog and never would I have ever imagined that I would have been able to keep it going this long. But writing throughout these past two years has been a cathartic experience and the opportunity for me to think through a lot of issues.

The surprising thing is that the issues continue to evolve, my kids keep growing and so do I. I've never really looked at myself as a function of myself, only as a function of my kids. In this two year time period I have both built and destroyed. Now I'm trying to deal with the repercussions of both.

I received a letter the other day in regard to work and by what was written in the letter, it was obvious that this person had no idea what I've been working on and at what level the past two years. He/She saw me speak as the passionate mom fighting for her cause...he/she didn't meet me as the coordinator of a project that I had to fight for every single time an issue was raised. He/She didn't see me arguing with doctors to make sure my ideas were heard and enacted. He/She wasn't in the room with me when I met with the President to present a project created together with American support, or how I made the president come around to my side of the table during the meeting.

How many roles can we assume in the course of the day? We've discussed this a thousand times. I can be the sweet mom who makes you live what I've lived for five minutes of your life, but the work I do does not stop there.

How do you make these people understand that?

*Sweetly*

And people wonder why I'm schizophrenic, this place is enough to drive you crazy.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Catch 22

 
Well, Halloween 2009 was a smashing success with Jordan bringing home "Mr. Halloween" for some wicked dance moves and Sofia Madyson racking in the candy after a Trick or Treat extravaganza in the center of Grosseto. I must say the Italians are improving and it was with great pleasure that we went from shop to shop hunting down candy. The only thing was that one shop gave unwrapped candy and I had to explain to Sofia that she couldn't have that and many shops hid the candy so that we weren't sure if they were giving it out or not. Never seen anything quite like it, but I'm not complaining, just making an observation.

The kidlings are growing and Jordan is becoming "Mr. I'd like to go out with my friends". Sofia, however is in kind of a difficult phase of "Mommy, come here!"

She's afraid of being alone...

If she's playing downstairs, she calls, "Mommy, I don't want to be alone, come down here!"

If she's upstairs, she calls, "Mommy, come upstairs, I don't want to be alone!"

The worst is when she has to go to the bathroom, "Mom--!" I draw the line there, the bathroom is alone time and must be taken care of...alone.

It's psychological dramas like these and how you handle them that scar our kids for life. How do you find the fine line between helping them to find their independence while reassuring them that they are not alone by being there when they need us?

It is fundamental that they can be alone without being afraid...fundamental because the more we grow up, the more we need to rely on ourselves, and we do often find ourselves alone at many different points in our lives.

It ain't easy.

But I am definitely taking advantage of the situation to snuggle her up.

Jordan-"I smell like a man" - "Leave me alone, I'm chatting" - "Hey Mamma, what do you think of the song I just downloaded" goes through moments of "Mamma, you're annoying" - "Mamma, can I have a hug?" And he doesn't realize that he's in a moment of growth.

Love watching my kids. Love it when Sofia gets angry and her eyes get all scrunchy. Love how Jordan tries to kiss up to me when he realizes he's exaggerated in trying to assert himself. But most of all, I really love how they realize when they've gone beyond their limits, limits that in some way or another Luca and I have been able to impose so that they know right from wrong.

And it is not always easy to keep track of right and wrong when there are emotions involved.

It's amazing how powerful kids are in imposing limits on adults...just like adults impose limits on kids.

L*O*V*E that.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!! Sticky Situation...



When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of its red leaves, you will not see all the others. When the eye is not set on one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there.

(Takuan Soto)



Wahoooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's Halloween!!!!!! Love, love, love Halloween!!!
Last year I craved candy corn, and fb friends took care of me to the point where if I NEVER see another piece of candy corn- I'll be just fine. (I'm still in debt for some chocolate for two Amys- I had the packages all ready to send but Sofia Madyson ruined that)
This year I craved caramel apples. Noooooooo caramel apples round these parts, so I asked the fb mammas for some help- and the recipes started pouring in. Love facebook!
And so does Sofia Madyson!



Here's the recipe:
Buy some caramels (I found something close enough here in Italy called- Mou)
Throw them in a saucepan with a piece of butter and half a cup of milk
Melt it all up
Dip apples with sticks.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!!!!!! So easy!!!!!



And fun...finally, something FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Halloween to All- Live it up and stash some candy away for us!