Friday, December 31, 2010

2011

I'm having a hard time letting go of 2010. It was filled with a deeper kind of love than the former years. A mature kind of love that no matter how tired I was, no matter how much energy I had lost, managed to rise from some unknown well within. That kind of stuff can't be replenished with fuzzy, frizzy spumante or flirty words, but is equivalent to that extra bit of strength you find from God Knows Where when you're about to push out that baby.
My New Year's wish for all of you is that you always find that extra umph required to take on those moments that find you wondering exactly where you will ever find that strength necessary to overcome the latest, unexpected slam.
My New Year's resolution is to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth...

So Help Me God.

Bring on 2011:-) and may it be filled with
Health
Gnocchi in truffle sauce
Cuddles and snuggles
The Tooth Fairy
Mary Janes
Narrow Mountain Roads where a 3 point turn seems the impossible until you put your mind to maneuvering it
An inappropriate gift of a thong and lacey thigh-highs that you exchange for a pair of warm, wooly socks
A knife thrown that you catch with your teeth
Finding that something you're dying for... on sale.
The perfect song on the radio at the perfect moment
A pair of eyes that match yours

Faith

Happy Birthday Sofia Madyson:-)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Romeo and Juliet...Tales of a Trip to Verona

I survived Christmas. Barely. Now, I find myself in a hospital in Verona with my girlfriend, in a "for girls only" ward.
I'm still waiting for her to come out of the operating room. In the meantime, I went for lunch with my book. I was in deep when the owner of the restaurant sat down next to me and started talking to me about his life, travels and experience with drugs. He whipped out pictures of his trip around the world and proudly showed me his yacht...a canoe in the middle of some lake:-)...fantastic.

He told me I needed to be sweeter. I told him, I have no desire to be sweet.
He insisted and told me that I was locked up in a castle.
I told him, the key exists somewhere.
I had a coffee, paid and left.
Nice man, nice conversation.
Back to my book.
*Smile*

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Human Spirit...(Ain't Got Nothin' To Do With Christmas)

Maya Angelou said, "The main thing is to be in love with the search for truth."
Both telling the truth and hearing the truth can be as painful as swallowing the dreaded cough syrup. It can make you gag, vomit, spit up and hurl...but eventually, it has to go down.
And in the end...you heal.
Because when it comes straight down to it...truth = love.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The View from the Top of the Tree

I'd prefer the red one.
Yes, the gold bow is perfect.
Oh, that glittery stuff works for me.
That's too expensive.
Mom, I would like you to come to my grandmother's house for the holidays. I want to spend the holidays with the entire family together.
Excuse me, I was in line before you. But I'm not in a hurry, so you can go before me.
Damn it, that parking space was mine. Although, I don't really mind driving around another lap...love this song.
Wow, that is the perfect present at the right price.
She is not my favorite person. And she's treated me like shit the entire year. But, I'll get her a present anyway...something fattening.
He's cheating on his wife, but he's a really good father. Digital picture frame with family photos downloaded.
They are a beautiful couple, two children-boy and girl, the mom and dad each drive a BMW, both work, both cook, both do the laundry, both pay the bills. When they take their kids to the movies, they hold hands. When the mom reprimands her son, the dad nods his head. When the dad reprimands his daughter, the mom nods her head.
They like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. A trip to Disney World.

Wherever you are at this precise moment in time, love yourself. When you see Christmas decorations, love yourself. When you see couples holding hands and pushing baby strollers, love yourself. When you see a grandfather who looks exactly like the father you lost this past year, love yourself.
Find a place within yourself that glows, and become that light.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Smartie

My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. King, is my friend on facebook. When Jay, one of my elementary school friends commented on the last post, Mrs. King replied and this was the exchange:

Mrs. King:
Hi Jay- Did you happen to read Tuesday's Science Times section in the NYT this week? It was all about puzzles. I thought about you; you were great at solving them.

Jay:
Oh my G-d. As in, Mrs. King, my sixth-grade teacher? Sorry to say, don't actually get any newspaper; can't afford to bring more stuff into the house, as I hardly get to the mandatory things as it is :)

Mrs. King:
Yup! Your 6th grade teacher...I'm so glad you remembered!

ME:
How could he not remember!!??? He lived on smarties for the entire year.

The Smartie:  A packet of smarties was awarded to a classmate for winning a Spelling Bee or Math challenge every week on Friday.

I once beat Jay in a Spelling Bee. He won about 90% of all intelligence-related challenges. Fridays were torturous yet stimulating for me and that jar of Smarties tormented me for an entire year.

Then, during Science one day, a miracle occurred. We were reading an informative table filled with data- my basic nightmare because still now, I never understand graphs, tables and the like- when Mrs. King asked a question. She asked a question, answered it herself and said, "Right everyone!! Do you all agree?" My classmates all nodded their heads, but something did not seem right in what she was saying, I saw a different answer and shook my head. I definitely did not have the courage to contradict my teacher, mine was a spontaneous reaction.

Mrs. King looked at me and said, "Jodi, why did you shake your head?"

*Cold sweat*

She had to insist, until I whispered, "Because the year wasn't 1976, it was 1971."

*Silence*

Mrs. King beamed a smile, walked right over to that Smarties jar and handed me...A SMARTIE!!!!!

She turned to the class and said, "You need to learn to trust your own judgement. There will be people who you respect, who insist in knowing an answer.  But everyone can make mistakes. You need to trust yourselves and learn to use your voice."

Your basic life-changing moment.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Show and Tell

Tomorrow I leave for the last of the ten pediatric audiology courses. Ten courses, 500 pediatricians of Tuscany, all of whom are now aware of the process of an Early Hearing Detection Intervention Program. 500 pediatricians are responsible for 500,000 children.

There will be Italian regional representatives present at this course for training purposes so that they may use this experience and apply it to their regions to then train other pediatricians.

And in turn help to inform many more children and their families.

At the beginning of this project, I felt that I had to prove myself, as if being a mother wasn't a strong enough qualification to "teach" pediatricians about our journey.

Then, as the courses progressed and I grew, I realized that all I needed to do was to share my experiences and those of the incredible families I have met along the way.

I slammed, kicked and banged on the door. They opened it...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

LahDeeDah

Today, class outing to see Tangled with Sofia and her posse.

New job working on a European Community project on Educational/Environmental Sustainable Development.
I cut my hair and I cut my nails. New look, new life.

Last year at this time, I was desperate, stressed, aggressive and clawing. Now, bring on the holiday cheer.

I had a meeting with Jordan's teachers on Thursday. Aside from the fact that they were pleased with his performance and his dramatic high school entrance, a common comment was that he tends to make inappropriate comments at strange moments during lessons.

He does this with me, as well. I explained to them that for eight years he wore hearing aids and did not have access to spontaneous language. I explained that to learn a new vocabulary word he needed to have it repeated at least 100 times, that he could not do homework without speechreading and that all that changed for the better after the cochlear implant. I told them that he shoots comments in the middle of class to hear himself talk, to feel a part of the environment and to maintain some type of control over that environment. He is in a growth phase after dealing with three years of separation and starting a new school where he knew nobody...and feel free to add a healthy dose of adolescent testosterone considering he's in full blown puberty.
I then requested that they put a certain hot, blonde classmate next to him;-)

In any case, sending love from Tuscany, because this is a moment when I have a lot of love to give...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Invasion of Privacy

To the person from California who hacked into my personal email by means of my widget, enjoy yourself while you can. If you need assistance translating my emails from Italian to English, you know where to find me.
Jodi

Choked Up

 A fifteen year old  girl considering the cochlear implant asks a 60 year old grandfather who chose the cochlear implant because he wanted to hear his granddaughter:

-Hi Corrado, I don't know if you remember me, but I wanted to ask you this question: What was it like to hear the horse's hooves hitting the ground again?

-Hi Clelia, of course I remember you....................we share the same passion....the sound of the horse hitting the asphalt is deafening, but on the sand, it's soft......................................

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I Love the Smell of Coffee

The idea of starting a new book, of staring at that first blank page is oppressive.
Somehow, the short, blank blog page smiles at me when I come to put thoughts to air, and it heals.
But...I'm starting to get that write a book itch.
Rally Caps came at the conclusion of a life-phase, at the beginning of a deep breath called live again, directly related to Jordan's cochlear-implant inspired freedom.
I've just started to inhale after life-phase: separation. This inhale is totally independent of my children's well-being and is directly related to my own, personal hurricane-like need to break out of imaginary bars. Kind of like a self-created breathe freely sign. That I would like to share with anyone willing to listen.
It began on Sofa Bed Island.
Hit rock bottom on a can of soup a day.
Bounced up and down with each Dragon slayed and Lion tamed.
And hit the horizon when round 10 ended in a mutually agreed upon draw based on live, love and proceed.
So...now, if I could just put all of that down in words.

Words that would provoke a cathartic experience enabling the reader to actually see the eighty-five year old woman walking and struggling with the two three gallon jugs of laundry detergent...actually see her and gently relieve her of those heavy items for the remainder of the walk to her car;

or to hear the child - without tuning her out- whining in the backseat of the car because her shirt got caught in her seatbelt, so that she tragically couldn't reach her gameboy that had fallen on the floor;

or to actually, consciously feel that your son needs a hug, maybe just for the fact that your sensitive, independent son realizes that you need a hug, too.

Yesterday, Jordan and I went to eat a pizza together and then to see Harry Potter. Two and a half hours later, I couldn't resist, I HAD to go to the bathroom. Four and a half minutes later, I headed back to the theater to see everyone leaving. I peeked inside to find Jordan, but he had gone. I turned back around and he was pointing and laughing at me. He then proceeded to explain the last two minutes of HP. Something about a wand, a tomb and an explosion. And that it wasn't the official end, that we have to wait until July. He loved that I missed the end.
I kind of like the irony of sitting through a two and a half hour movie to miss seeing the end of the movie that was not the end.
Love that.
I already know how my book will end.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanks-Giving...

Families come in all types of colors, shapes and sizes. Through the bitching, whining, crying, complaining and misunderstanding....take a minute to really look at each other. Smile. And enjoy:-)
We had sushi and cranberry tea for Thanksgiving dinner:-)
Shop it up for meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And if you are with those loved ones who drive you up a wall.
Give
Thanks.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Man-Made

One year ago a mother contacted me and informed me that her son had the model of the first Clarion recall. Three times. Her son was implanted and explanted three times with the same recalled model.
So, when I read about the Voluntary Recall announced by Advanced Bionics, I placed the information on both the Italian blog and the American blog.

No one wins in this situation. I am thankful that Advanced Bionics takes their responsibilty to their ci recipients seriously and made the recall extremely public.

My first thought was to inform the families, so that they would be able to be pro-active in monitoring their children. I informed surgeons so that they could be pro-active in response to the needs of their patients. Then, I had a critical moment of self-doubt...
People have many reactions in moments of crisis.
A mother on the Italian forum wrote:

I'd like to introduce myself: I'm the mom of a little tigerette with a profound, bilateral hearing loss that appeared, cause unknown a year and a half ago. She wore hearing aids for six months and received a cochlear implant, model Advanced Bionics one week ago because we believed it to be the best model for her needs. We are anxiously awaiting activation and trying to handle this new situation considering the news...

Another mother immediately replied:

Hi and welcome!! My three and a half year old daughters each received a cochlear implant AB Harmony in June. The implants were activated in July and now when I ring the doorbell of my house, they open the door and greet me with an "Aaaaooo...mamma!" It takes time, but we are laying a solid foundation!! Good luck!!"

This mother who replied to the other mother had sent me an email 25 minutes earlier in panic over the news.

Yes, we have each selected a man-made device to offer more opportunities to our children, and this carries risks. Just as it is our choice to offer our children more opportunities, it is also our choice as to how to face eventual complications or even the mere threat of unforeseen complications.

The human spirit...the need to offer support to others...the human spirit...that too is man-made and extremely powerful.

Letter from Advanced Bionics re: Voluntary Recall

Advanced Bionics website - November 23, 2010

---------------**** Recall Notification****



Advanced Bionics HiRes 90K Cochlear Implant

Dear Cochlear Implant Recipient or Parent,
Our mission at Advanced Bionics is to improve the lives of the hearing
impaired, and the safety and well-being of our recipients is our first priority. Because we are committed to ensuring that our products are as safe as possible, we are voluntarily informing you that we have become aware of an issue with the HiRes 90K cochlear implant.

The issue can result in pain, overly loud sounds, and/or sudden shock sensation in the implanted ear while the implant is receiving power. Thus far, our investigation shows that of the more than 28,000 implanted HiRes 90K devices, only two explanted devices have been confirmed to have this issue. There are 9 other patients with similar symptoms which our investigations have not yet ruled out as related to this issue. For the two confirmed cases, there were no symptoms upon initial activation of device.

However, the patients experienced symptoms after 8-10 days of use. Both recipients were re-implanted with HiRes 90K devices and their clinicians report that they are progressing well.

We are conducting an extensive investigation of this issue using an
independent scientific research organization. Their current analysis suggests that, if present, the issue will first occur within 90 days of device use. However, the onset of symptoms may be delayed after initial activation, and they may continue to occur intermittently.

In the unlikely event that this symptom occurs, continued device use may lead to
damage to the inner ear and/or the auditory nerve. If you or your child experience
pain related to implant use, remove the external equipment immediately and contact your cochlear implant clinician to schedule an appointment. If the evaluation of your device identifies this problem, device replacement is advised.

It is important to note that it is not unusual for cochlear implant recipients to experience overly loud sounds. Most of these cases can be resolved with standard
troubleshooting, such as the replacement of external equipment. The vast majority of these cases are not signs of the issue described above and do not require explant of the device.

We will notify you again as more information from our investigation becomes
available.

We sincerely regret any concern this notification may cause. Advanced
Bionics assures you that we will correct this issue and continue to improve our product reliability.
 
If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact an Advanced
Bionics representative at 877-577-4628 (telephone) Monday - Friday 5:00 a.m. - 7:00
p.m. PST

or www.advancedbionics.com (live chat) Monday - Friday 5:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
PST.

In order to assure the effectiveness of this communication, please complete
the enclosed acknowledgment form and return it to us at your earliest
convenience by using one of the following options:

E-mail: confirm@advancedbionics.com


Fax: 661-362-7621

Mail: Self-Addressed stamped envelope

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Voluntary Recall of Advanced Bionics HiRes90K Implant

Cliccate Qui

Press release, Sonova - November 23, 2010
23.11.2010


Advanced Bionics (AB), a global leader in developing advanced cochlear implant systems, announced today that it has notified the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) that it will voluntarily recall its HiRes 90K cochlear implant device worldwide. The device will be removed from the market as a precaution while the company works with the US Food & Drug Administration to address the issue.

This action is being taken in response to two instances thus far where the product experienced a rare malfunction requiring explantation. These recipients experienced severe pain, overly loud sounds and/or shocking sensations, at 8-10 days after initial activation of their device. AB is working closely with the FDA to identify the problem and institute changes to the product to ensure that the HiRes 90K has the highest quality for patients who use the device. This voluntary action is being taken as a precaution and the risk of adverse medical events is remote at present. A notification letter from the company to cochlear implant professionals and recipients is forthcoming...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Madonna (Mia)

She's finally asleep.

Sofia decided she wanted, needed, must have lasagna last night, so I went to the store and bought all of the pre-made ingredients. Obviously, I had her lay out the lasagna noodles and I did the rest. After her second helping, she commented, "Mommy, this lasagna is exquisite!"

This morning she decided she MUST have pancakes. I added water to Aunt Jemima and voilĂ , pancakes.

At about 5 o'clock she yawned and said, "I miss my Dad." She actually looked at me as she was dialing and said, "Ready Mommy? I'm going to use my sad voice."

Luca flew over with a box of chocolate.

I'm doomed.

*Smile*

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Sound of Music

Kim wrote: "Seems like you have become deeply philosophical in your Jack Benny year. 39. It's a great year. Life is good eternally, even in sadness. Sometimes that is when it's at its best-- looking back. Weird to say that I think, and some people will wonder what I mean but I think you know".

And Debbie wrote: "...Perspective really is everything. Sometimes when I have to do the things to Amelia that no mother should have to do to her child (suction her throat with a catheter that sometimes gags her and other times gives her hiccups for a long, long time or put in a new g-tube, or cauterize her g-tube site, or pushing her through physical challenges -- like crawling 10 feet -- while she cries and howls at me, etc), I cry. It's unfair that a child, who looks to her parents for safety, has to endure any of it..."

I did not work for twelve years aside from teaching some English lessons here and there after having worked since I was thirteen, so that I could give Jordan a voice. On the other hand, I worked like I had never before worked in my life staying home with Jordan.

And he is independent.

Ironically, at the moment in which he reached his independence, my dependence smacked me straight in the face.

I learned that respect began with me.

And it was thanks to my son and what he taught me through his battle for that independence that I have finally achieved my own.

So, to Debbie, I say that there is no other person in the world who offers such a level of safety and security to Amelia as you. And as you know, no other greater life teacher than Amelia for you.

And to Kim, I reply...It's a particular moment filled with particular thoughts about minute particulars. And somehow even throughout the difficulties, I feel particularly fine.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Angles

Today...
there was a story about an 11 year old boy who commited suicide;
my friend received word that she would be operated on for the second time in a month and a half the day after Christmas, I was sitting next to her when she received the phone call;
Luca called to tell me that the first audiologist who ever visited Jordan died of a brain tumor...

As we sat in the cafe, two teenagers were holding hands at the table across from us;
Jordan came home from school with more good grades and a smile;
Sofia has a friend over and they're playing fairy tale video games- the usual Snow White and Cinderella stuff;
I'm still smiling about the fb love from my birthday (thank you:-).

I am soaking in the rays...I don't need that big ball of sunshine every single day...one ray can do the job to push me through the day- I just have to have enough faith to find it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sushi for One

I'll be 39 in two days. Avoid the f word please.
I don't know why, but I'm having an attack of nostalgia, I miss my Pop and my family.
Could be because I'm totally alone in this wonderful Tuscany, but I don't think so. I'm learning to fill the void with myself, so that I can overflow for my kids.
I would want to talk to him about impermanence, about how people evolve and choose different paths than the ones they thought they would follow for always.
And I would want him to know that I have learned to take NO for an answer. I've never been a big believer in NO, but sometimes it is the only option.
I would tell him that when you spend money you do in fact diminish in wealth, but that when you give with heart, you become richer and richer to such a level that emptiness does not exist.
I am the luckiest.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Someday My Prince Will Come...Not Now.

I'll be 39 in less than a week, so I did my nails with glitter red tips to distract myself. I painted my bedroom wall red, found two night table lamps with hanging crystals and sheer black lampshades and threw a leopard patterned comforter on my bed. Very French bordello. I'm sure it's a phase.

I guess I needed to make my bedroom my own. I needed to create a sanctuary where I can read, and think in peace. I moved the tv from downstairs into Jordan's room and rendered my sanctuary off-limits to all smelly adolescents. This may mean that I never see Jordan again, but I'm willing to take that risk to re-claim my bedroom from the hoards of smellers that have been frequenting it for the past 13 years.

Yesterday, Sofia Madyson made a comment. She said, "Mom, Snow White would have been more intelligent and not eaten that apple if she hadn't been thinking about that dumb old Prince Charming!"

Absolutely NO Prince Charmings in my bedroom.

Now is the time to be intelligent.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sur-reality

Last Thursday I took the bus from Grosseto to Florence and the train from Florence to Bologna to speak at 4:00 pm at the Lions International Europe Forum.
I escaped from Grosseto to live another Italian town, share the work I love and learn from others' perspectives. The Lions Club is internationally active in providing assistance to families- and families needing hearing aids, for example, are often referred to programs sponsored by Lions Clubs by the American on-line support groups. It was an honor for me to speak at this Forum.
Here are some pix. The slides I posted, I chose because they reminded me of people who have commented this blog. (Kim, I often thought of you). Adult hearing screening was performed during the event.


Writing blogs and monitoring a forum provides you with a chance to help people who you may really touch, but never meet. This type of interaction is totally surreal, and I oftentimes feel totally disconnected and kind of hanging in the air. Because while you may read the heartfelt comments of a person and know that you make a difference, you can't physically reach out and touch them.

Sometimes surreal relationships are more powerful than reality. Has to do with the power of the mind, creativity and imagination. Empathy is a powerful connection, powerful enough to create international networks via computer. Powerful enough to transmit enough strength to motivate a person to make a decision that a family member you can reach out and touch was not able to inspire.

In Bologna, I shook hands, kissed cheeks, ate tagliata di Angus, and drank Morellino di Scansano with real people in front of me, real conversations, real interaction. I need a little of that every now and then.

Next stop Rome - International Cochlear Implant Congress with the participation of Parent Associations and many parents from the Italian Forum that I will finally meet face to face.
*Smile*

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Snowcaps and Raisinets

"Sometimes living out your dreams ain't as easy as it seems. You want to fly around the world in a beautiful balloon".

Dreams are important, moments are even more important.
I just finished making caramel apples with Sofia and thought about my Mom and how much she LOVES caramel apples.

Rocky was on tv last week. I watched it with Jordan and Sofia, who fell asleep. But Jordan lasted until the end when Rocky beat the Russians. Your typical USA moment. I saw every single Rocky movie with my Dad and Niki.

USA moments are a collection of sensations that begins with the Pledge of Allegiance, continues with fireworks on the Fourth of July and permeates throughout our culture in such a way that these sensations form our collective spine.

WE are not Generation X...we are Generation Rocky.

Give us an obstacle to overcome and we will find the angle to make it work.

Sometimes you need to live another culture, another mentality to appreciate what it means to belong to your own. Sometimes you need to experience the insecurity of teenage years, free your mind at the University, work for a demanding boss, blow bubbles in Mommy and Me classes and give your child a voice before you find you. Sometimes the transformation comes about in the process of raising your child's voice.

Family moments..I'm learning that families come in many shapes and sizes, and that mine wasn't/isn't so bad.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Politically (In)Correct?

Two people left comments on the last post in reference to the term "Hearing Impaired".

1. Hearing impaired community...huh? One thing I know is that my deaf child is not "impaired" at all. I wish people would start to realize how offending that term is. Deaf or hard of hearing is way more politically correct.

2. There is a groundswell against the words "hearing impaired" that has been building for some time. It's both irrelevant (hearing) and demeaning (impaired), and gives no sense of the capabilities of deaf/hoh people.

I have been away from the states for thirteen years, and Deaf for me is "Sordo". Period.
When I left I remember that, "This program has been closed-captioned for the hearing impaired" was still being used.

Has that changed?
What is politically (in)correct?
I need an education.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How Do You Sign "Sad"?

Hey Jodi,


I'm sending you this link because of your involvement in the hearing impaired community.


This is a crazy story. The author of the book lived in my community. She had twin sons that were turning 9. A Jewish family that belonged to my congregation.


On the morning of their sons' 9th birthday party the father, Neil Jacobson methodically shot and killed the boys in their beds and their mother.


He was too cowardly to shoot himself.


The story is horrific. It happened last January. Frankie & her sister Sherry co-wrote this book that went into publication about a week before she was shot.


I was thinking about you when the book first came out, given your past experience as an author of a children's book also dealing with helping young children cope with impairments.


Perhaps you can spread the word about the book to those who may be interested. The proceeds will go to Franki's sister. So sad that Franki never got to experience the success of selling her book.


Her asshole husband is awaiting trial in a Palm Beach County prison.


If you google his name you can read all about him.

Marcie

I then went to the page she linked and found this message from the author:


I just published "GREEN BEANS BIRTHDAY PARTY"


Go to Amazon.com and type in Green Bean's Birthday Party to view the format, cover, and back cover.


We combine American Sign Language, rhyming and reading in this book. The key signing words are highlighted by two adorable characters, Signing Sammy and Signing Suzie who wear "Magic Signing Gloves" to demonstrate how to sign. This book has an engaging story and colorful illustrations that will capture the attention of a child and encourage communication. Within our research there is no other book similar to ours. We have a new and innovative approach to teach children 8 months to 4 years old communication skills through a signing storybook.


This is an educational as well as an entertaining book. More parents are teaching their kids sign language since it decreases tantrums and frustration, and increases IQ scores, vocabulary, communication, and self- confidence.


This book was published December 2009 and is currently sold on Amazon.com.


This is the first of a series of signing storybooks by Sign Along With Me.


Hope you love it!!


Frankaleana Beana








Monday, October 18, 2010

Paranoid?

Amidst all the other chaos, last Thursday I was asked to work as an interpreter for a meeting between various wine, cheese and other Tuscan delights producers and the Italian Trade Commission. Nothing exciting ever happens where I live *Smile*- we import. So, there I was translating from English into Italian as these Tuscan producers had the opportunity to market their goods into Private Label merchandise.

I think they were overwhelmed, because of the twenty producers, only about five actually tried to push their products.

In any case, I met a couple of fascinating people- I absorbed.

One thing kind of disturbed me..a Sr. Marketing Promotion Officer named Patrick had my opposite life. Born in Bari (Italy), he's been living in the USA for 43 years. It took me a while to digest this number. Mine is currently 13, but the idea of living in Italy for 43 years is flat out terrifying. He, like me, tries to make the most of his two worlds and he can, because his job gives him the opportunity to travel to Italy at least five times a year. I'm usually struggling for that one trip back.

Nice experience that left me ko for about three days:-)

Then, something else occurred. I received an email from the mother of a three year old deaf child with a cochlear implant who said she would like to help me by sending material to an Italian Congressman interested in helping us pass the screening. My first reaction, obviously, was your basic ear-splitting scream. Then, I went to sleep.

When I woke up, I began having doubts. My mom always tells me to be careful what I do and say on internet. She warns me that there are psychos out there, etc. Yes, we are in the international public eye and I try to not think about that to work on promoting the cause, helping others and offering resources.

*But*

Sometimes that twinge appears. In Italy, there is a huge neverending battle between the FIADDA (oral approach) and the ENS (Deaf Community, culture, identity, etc.) over officially recognizing Sign Language as the official Deaf language. The language in the bill has been modified to not recognize it as the language of the Deaf, but as a language in and of itself...however, the battle wages onward and both associations are obsessed with this tit for tat situation.

I stay out.

The thing that worries me about this email, and I hope I'm wrong because for the past three years, no matter how much we've bickered and debated, I have never had a negative experience with anyone....the thing that worries me is that the mother asked me twice to forward her my materials and any medical materials we've created. I can't forward her that information.

Maybe I'm paranoid. I hope I'm paranoid.

The deeper I go in this situation...the more doubts seem to arise. I have always worked alone on these projects aside from the GPOD women-UK, USA, Australia, parents from the Ci Circle, my pediatrician and CI Surgeon and Ferdi.

I think I need to keep it that way...but a Congressman...now that would be an important addition.

I'd just like to add that Amazing Amelia's mom and dad were just in an article in People's Celebrity Babies. They are a beautiful family and Debbie writes an incredible blog. Check it out!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From Helen Keller to Jordan

On my train ride to teaching the parental support part of pediatric course number 8, a grandma sat across from me. She had smiling eyes.

She kept staring at me as I was going over my powerpoints, so we began conversing. She asked me what I did. Hmmm just happened to have the newspaper article in my purse; I whipped it out, smiled and handed it to her proudly. She nodded as she read the article and said, "Ohhh, you have a deaf son." I said yes. She looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Oh my, I just saw that amazing film on tv a week ago, you know, the one, what's it called?"

I had no idea.

She snapped her fingers and said, "Anne the Miracle Worker! So, your son signs, it was such a beautiful film."

Helen Keller.

I loved reading about Helen Keller as a 10 year old child. Her story fascinated and touched me.

I said, "No, my son doesn't sign."

She replied, "Oh, I see."

I turned my computer towards her and pressed play on the video of Jordan thanking the pediatricians. Her eyes filled with tears.

I advocate to educate. No better place than the trains of Italy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Article...NYT-Italianized=Corriere della Sera

Ok. Here it is.
I woke up at 6 am and called my friend Francesca who's up at 5 to open the coffee bar two blocks from my house. She sells newspapers. She was busy. She called me back fifteen minutes later and read me the article in the Italian National Newspaper equivalent of the New York Times. I couldn't go back to sleep. I jumped out of bed, threw my coat over my pjs- the Paul Frank variety with monkeys all over the pants, threw on a pair of boots and walked the two blocks.
I sat myself right down -newspaper in hand- amidst the early Sunday morning risers- hunters, wild boar hunters. With my back to them all, I drank my cappuccino, read and started screaming. I vaguely overheard my friend telling the hunters not to worry that I wasn't crazy.
Here it is: Article by Ruggiero Corcella in Corriere della Sera

Hearing: Families and Medical Professionals request the screening for all

Only 6 out of 10 newborns have access to the test that will indicate a potential hearing loss
Early diagnosis is fundamental

"Newborn Hearing Screening must be performed in every single birthing hospital in Italy". Jodi Cutler Del Dottore explains it clearly. Cutler, a dynamic (he actually wrote dynamic) American from Baltimore who has been living in Tuscany for 13 years, is the representative of a parent movement and the creator of a blog (daigenitoriaigenitori.blogspot.com) and forum on facebook with a large following. Her son Jordan suffers from profound bilateral sensorineural deafness since birth, which he has overcome thanks to a timely diagnosis and a cochlear implant which he received in Italy. Jodi, like the majority of  families with deaf children, is fighting to ensure that newborn hearing screening becomes mandatory throughout Italy.

The reason? The earlier the diagnosis, the sooner the treatment and habilitation may begin. In such a way, the percentage of success in the general development and language of the child increases.
At an international level the general consensus agrees regarding the necessity of universal newborn hearing screening programs, that it should not be limited to children at risk, and that it should be performed within three to four months of age. Even in Italy, the numbers confirm the need. "1-2 children per thousand are born with a hearing loss- says Roberto Albera, director of Audiology at the Molinette Hospital of Torino- Each year 200 children are born with a form of profound deafness." Despite the approximately 100 thousand children with hearing loss in our country, the diagnosis of deafness still occurs extremely late- between 22 and 28 months.

The data collected by the Institute of Social Affairs of Rome reveals that only 6 children of 10 immediately undergo the screening. "When we began our data collection in 2003, only 3 out of 10 underwent the screening- says Luciano Bubbico, Otorino of the Department of Biomedical Sciences  of the Ias- but there still remains a strong discrepancy between the hospitals of the North, where the screening is diffused, those of Central Italy with many problems, and those of the South that are practically non-practicing."

At the end of 2010, remaining deaf, or treating the deafness and offering the possibility of access to language still depends on geographical factors. The Italian Pediatric Federation has understood this and in collaboration with the Italian Audiology Society and Parent Associations, has created its own Audiology Network. "Our goal is to inform and educate our colleagues- explains Giovanni Lenzi, Pediatric Chair of the Project- so that they incorporate the screening and have the tools to be able to evaluate the auditory development stages of the children".

In general, a clear picture is missing that mandates the initial screening, an entire network of second level coverage, regional Centers of reference and a National registry."In a civilized country, it is essential- emphasizes Alessandro Martini, audiologist of the University of Padova. -It is also necessary in order to understand if in the various regions more important epidemiological factors exist which may enable us to intervene at the level of prevention." Many adopt the National guidelines for the screening, which are present in the "Essential Levels of Assistance", frozen for over a year for problems of finanical coverage. To un-block the guidelines, we hope they will surpass the Essential Levels of Assistance to directly pass the Screening into the new National Healthcare Plan 2010-2012 that is currently being discussed.

Screening yes, but not screening alone: The ENS (equivalent of NAD, and I have no idea how they entered this article) also complains about the lack of information for the families regarding all of the didactic and rehabilitative possibilities for a deaf child.


And there you have it...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tick Tick Tick...

I think I'm having a moment. I believe it's called self-doubt. It ain't pretty.
Maybe because everything is pretty.
Jordan and Sofia are growing and both are involved in activities. Jordan's swimming and now studying piano. Sofia's about to start theatre. It was interesting in the pool yesterday. At a certain point, Jordan was swimming a lap like a missile, but his form wasn't the best. His swim instructor tried to get his attention, but between goggles and deafness, it was impossible. His swim instructor also happens to be his support teacher in the classroom (wink); after struggling and failing to get him to look at her, she turned to look at me, hands thrown in the air in desperation.
I couldn't exactly tell her that I usually throw something at him to get his attention in the pool or in the sea, probably not very politically correct, so I just smiled and nodded.

So, um, well, I think this article is maybe supposed to come out in this major Italian national paper tomorrow and I have absolutely no idea what the journalist wrote. Extremely unsettling feeling. So, I invited about seven kids over all day today to distract myself from thinking, wondering, etc. But it's not working.

It's times like these that I reflect about what we've actually done over the past fourteen years of Jordan's life. And how much more I could potentially do.

I've spent a great deal of the past three years a hysterical, fighting, battling, aggressive, emotional woman trying to reach an objective. I could come closer to reaching that objective if the article is powerful. How do you not have Newborn Hearing Screening as a mandatory part of National Healthcare in the year 2010, when Italy offers all services necessary to help families with a deaf child? It makes no sense.

No matter how many doctors I've met and educated, I'm still that mother sitting in front of my audiologist trying to understand that she was telling me my son was deaf in a language not my own.

I am still that mother.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I Do

When I began writing this blog, I wrote and wrote for the comments. Because the comments for me were validating, communicative, interactive and I felt desperately alone in a Tuscan tunnel. Then, time passed and the situation evolved- I wrote for myself- I had this overwhelming need for self-expression. Now, I write to share, because the most bizarre series of events continues to occur. I write because maybe there is another mom who can benefit from the mistakes I've made, who can realize that it's okay to make mistakes because life and most of all, our kids, are extremely forgiving.

When I go to a Congress, I become the Congress. I live, breathe and absorb the new information, the fascinating people and the passion they throw into their jobs. I don't stand still. I can't. After being in a tunnel for eleven years, and it wasn't a bad tunnel, it was where I needed to be at the time...bring on life.

Our session was a tremendous success. The room was jam-packed and despite the heavy audiological content, a majority of people remained until the end. Audiologists and neonatologists came from all over Italy, Anna Orato blew them away when she announced that she was deaf with a cochlear implant four minutes after she began her speech. I saw the participants in the room freeze. And I beamed.

After the session, I checked my email, the one time during the entire congress when my internet key worked...to find an email from a journalist of Corriere della Sera- major national Italian newspaper - asking me to contact him. I called him and he proceeded to tell me that he had already interviewed a Professor and my pediatrician for an article on the importance of Newborn Hearing Screening, that he had read my blog and wanted my permission to quote me on some things I had written.
*Ok*
Obviously, the newspaper went on strike so the article did not appear, but we're hoping it will be in Sunday's paper. He told me he would cite the blog and facebook forum. Can you even imagine????

Next, I met the Professor from Jerusalem responsible for the the Israeli-Italian Pediatric agreement. He happens to be the same man responsible for passing Newborn Hearing Screening into a national law in Israel. His daughter is a speech therapist.
*Smile*
After I managed by miracle to get an invitation to the President's dinner, in, um, the FOUR SEASONS HOTEL - a hotel transformed from a medieval convent- we dined in an outdoor private garden- he approached me again to discuss our Audiology Network. The following words actually came out of his mouth, "Would you be interested in presenting at the Pediatric Congress in Jerusalem in May?"
The world stopped.

I lightly touched his jacket with my index finger, hesitated a millisecond and replied, "Yes."
(Nothing is definite, of course, but the question made the table)
I sent him an email the day after the Congress ended.
He replied the next morning and asked me if he could refer our resources to the Israeli Minister of Health.
*Pinch me*

I was wined and dined and intellectually enriched. I attended pediatric sessions on bullying in the schools- where there was an excellent speaker who addressed the issue of homosexuality and bullying- and children's reactions to violence in the homes.

The quality of speakers and the passion with which they spoke opened my world.

Florence by night is something every person in the world should live, whether you stroll the streets with a gelato in hand or you're pushing the baby carriage, arm in arm with a loved one...
I lived it absorbed in Newborn Hearing Screening while sipping on Chianti and savoring a really thick bistecca alla Fiorentina.

All thanks to my son.

Amazing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Three Nights...Four Days in Florence!

1. Thong update: The mom called me and the night was a tremendous success. Not only that, but, she went to her employer determined and secure and got that part-time position! She told me they didn't even hesitate. She had that glow:-)
2. The Italian Pediatric Federation Congress is the next four days in Florence. We prepared a poster that I went to print yesterday to find that the printer I usually go to was closed permanently. I freaked. I jumped in my car and began driving around Grosseto wondering what I was going to do, when I noticed the van in front of me had "ART and GRAPHICS" smeared all over the place. There was a number. I dialed it and a woman answered who told me they did, in fact, print Congress posters. I now have the poster in hand and I am ready to go!
3. Our Audiology session is tomorrow and a deaf woman with a cochlear implant will be presenting a speech. I am so, so proud that she is one of the presenters. I had the opportunity to see one of her presentations in Rome and she is just amazing.
4. Me, myself, I and 1200 pediatricians in Florence.
5. Bring it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Thong Sermon

Yesterday I met with the Mom of a five year old deaf child. She was in crisis and her eyes were dead. After her son's diagnosis she continued working eight hour days, while her husband and mother-in-law watched her son. She had her baby when she was 25 years old.

Five years later she took a week off of work and spent time with her son. She told me, with tears in her eyes, that she saw him introverted, suffering and desperately in need of his Mommy. She told me that she had decided to request working half a day, but was terrified they would deny her request.

So, I'm sitting there staring at this mother who I am not lying put Nicole Kidman to shame, assertive character, obviously extremely competent in her job. But 100% insecure. And she suddenly realized that she wanted to be a mom.

I told her she could be a mother if she wanted to be a mother, and that if she wanted to work part time, she could do that too. I told her to work on her delivery if she was sure that was what she wanted to do.

Her marriage is in crisis. She comes home stressed, angry and exhausted. I told her she needed to decide what was best for her, because THAT is what will help her child the most. She could commit herself to work and be happy in her job, come home a happy mother and spend one entire hour of happiness with her child. When you are fulfilled, your child is serene. Or, she could decide to dedicate her afternoons to her child and set her job straight.

We constantly underestimate ourselves in moments of transition. The insecurities prevail. I tried to listen and to help.

Then we talked sex. I said I wish that someone would have told me how to manage to be a woman and a mother...but something always gets lost if we consciously do not concentrate on the job of being a woman. It's very difficult to make it all work. It's difficult to give up your job to dedicate yourself to the needs of your child. It's difficult to jump on your husband every night when you have desperation in your head.

I decided to challenge the statistics as I looked in the mirror-mom.

I gave her the "thong sermon" and told her to immediately call her mother-in-law to watch her kid so she and her husband could go out alone. Five minutes later her eyes were bright and she was on her way to the Italian Victoria's Secret.

My fingers are crossed that it works out for them...beautiful couple, beautiful son.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Mother May I


My kids are amazing.
My nails are done.

I have the Pediatric Congress- 3 nights in Florence!!!next week and I'm busy with preparations because we just added a poster presentation. There are bills to pay, mouths to feed, a house to clean, families to help and a million things to fix- all of the lights seem to be blowing out at once, but...
It's okay.
I've been thinking a lot about trees lately. The one thing I always love about going home is that my house is surrounded by woods, which means big, tall, sprawling trees. None of that where I live here in Italy, but at this moment life is a tree.
A man from the Italian forum sent me an email that clearly explained the difference between hearing aids and cochlear implants. He said that with hearing aids, when the word "Albero" (tree) was said, he only heard, "Ah-Eh-Oh" but with the cochlear implant he hears, "A-L-B-E-R-O". He is now trying to identify sound and transform it into comprehension.

I started teaching the Tuscan Pediatricians again and use my favorite quote: "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)

I find myself obsessed with leaves and branches right now and it has nothing to do with Fall.

*Smile*

The roots have been planted.
And now...I am sipping on a homemade nutella milkshake and watching the tree grow.

In the end, life is just a big, fat game of "Mother-May-I."

And I am the Mother.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mental Monday


I decided to feel sorry for myself today. I strongly believe that a dose of self-pity goes a long way every now and then...to helping you realize how much there is to be thankful for in the end.
I was sitting talking to my Australian friend, not having the best of mornings, when this woman walked out of the bar, straight up to me and said, "Wow, you are really beautiful."
I looked at her suspiciously.
She then proceeded with her interrogation:
"How old are you?"
"Are you married?"
"Have you got any kids?"
"Wow, you have beautiful teeth."
My friend escaped. I continued staring between firing back answers.
The woman then spent ten minutes talking about her teeth and her pending trip to the dentist, picking them, showing them to me and how much she spent on braces for her kids, and then...
Her bus arrived!
I sat on the bench alone and no longer felt sorry for myself.
I was too thankful that the bus had arrived.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Give it Up to the Universe...

I have to share this especially because it's Yom Kippur, at least it was, here in Italy all have broken fast. Months ago I wrote about how the Italian Pediatric Federation had reached an agreement with the Israeli Ambulatory Pediatric Associations and how I would like to go to the 2011 Congress in Jerusalem with our audiology network project in hand.

I don't know whether or not that will happen, but I am willing it to happen and currently working on the project proposal.

However a funny thing happened.

I contacted my Rabbi in Siena while I was in the States and asked him if he knew of anyone in Jerusalem who could give me information on Newborn Hearing Screening. He contacted his friend and sent me an email with a contact name.

On Rosh Hashana I sent an email to this person who has not yet responded talking about my interest in gathering any information possible regarding the role of the pediatrician and current situation in newborn hearing screening.

I just started working on the project, so to prepare I fished out the original Italian email sent about the agreement and noticed the name of a gentleman quoted...the man responsible for establishing the agreement.

Yes, this is the same professor I sent the email to a week ago.

L'Chaim.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Shameless

Today, during his second day of high school, Jordan asked his Italian teacher if she could organize his class in a circle to introduce themselves. He told me that he spoke for twenty minutes as his class sat in silence. Apparently he had this tremendous need to explain himself and his deafness to his class.
His first day at school, he observed.
His second day of school, he spoke.

People ask me all the time, "How's the book? Have you made any money?"

I guess those are logical questions, but the writing of Rally Caps never involved dreams of riches or success, it was a cathartic experience for me and a way to do something with and for my dad.
Every time people ask me that question, I am taken aback and mumble some kind of response like, "The purpose of the book was never to sell it..and it has led me on a path filled with wonder."

More than a path, it has been a wave of consecutive coincidences that have given birth to the possibility of helping others.

I teach pediatricians, I speak before audiologists, ENTs, speech therapists, other parents and I have never once whipped out my book to say, "Hey, wanna buy it?"
The people who need it the most find it.
I'm kind of shy about the book, which is strange. My dad is promoting, doing, struggling to make it a film.

And me? Nothing. I took an American survey and transformed it into a National Pediatric Audiology Network. If I need to find a sponsor for the Italian Pediatric Audiology Network to promote Newborn Hearing Screening in Italy, I will go for your throat.

Book-related success to me was receiving comments from parents and feedback from children. It was seeing the book translated in Italian, so that Jordan could actually read it, and having the opportunity to thank all of the doctors and people involved in helping us. I even received a letter from Graeme Clark.

However, lately, I've been thinking about the book. If I lived in the USA, I would literally go school to school to speak to Principals and classes and request that they place the book in their library. It deserves to be there.

Now, after three years, I'm starting to wish for the book to become a film.

I am so proud that Jordan has a voice and that he uses it.

Wouldn't life be grand if your kid walked into a classroom and instead of hearing, "What's that thing on your head?"...
They were welcomed with, "I know what that is...it's a Cochlear Implant and it helps you hear."

(Dad...get moving, please)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

'Bout Damn Time: Josh Swiller Appears

 

Two nights ago as I was sitting here typing, I heard Jordan talking to his x-box live computer-online-yes,-I-can-hear-with-my-headphones-and-play, and he said, "Hey! Don't call me Deaf! I am Deaf! And if you call me Deaf, that's an insult, because you mean it as an insult."

Whoa!

I ran into the room and asked who he was talking to and he said, "Go back to the computer, Mamma, it's under control."

Sometimes, Jordan surprises me.

Today was his first day of high school. This was our conversation in the car on the way to school:

Jordan: MOM, WHY DON'T YOU CLEAN THE CAR IT'S A MESS WHY DON'T YOU GIVE THE DOG AWAY SHE SMELLS YOU'RE NOT A NORMAL MOTHER MY GRANDMOTHER'S HOUSE IS CLEANER THAN YOURS I WANT TO GO FOR MY MOTOR-SCOOTER LICENSE EVERYONE HAS A MOTORBIKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Me: DID YOU PUT ON YOUR DEODORANT AND BRUSH YOUR TEETH MY CAR IS A MESS BECAUSE YOU LEAVE YOUR STUFF EVERYWHERE HOW CAN I KEEP A HOUSE CLEAN WHEN THERE ARE FOUR OF YOUR SMELLY FRIENDS IN IT AT ALL TIMES YOU WILL NEVER GET A MOTORBIKE!!!!!!!!!!

When we finally reached his school, I got out of the car, we started walking towards his school, we kind of touched shoulders and he held my hand.

I said, "Jordan, let go of my hand. NOW!"
He looked at me perplexed.
I said, "Jordan, do you want to walk into high school holding your mommy's hand?"

He looked at me, started laughing, and dropped my hand.

He then walked into his brand new classroom alone.

CLICK IT: "I THINK I HEAR YOU..." by Josh Swiller

"But for millions of deaf people, their most intimate relationship is with their hearing loss. More than family, it’s always there, a teacher, a guide, and a friend."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Unilateral Hearing Loss, Tinnitus and...a Cochlear Implant?

I asked a question during the conference I attended this past weekend, because a gentleman on the Italian forum asked whether or not the Cochlear Implant provoked tinnitus or could worsen tinnitus. My surgeon responded that in 70% of the cases, the tinnitus improved, and that there are ongoing trials where adults with really bad tinnitus and unilateral hearing loss are receiving cochlear implants to relieve the tinnitus.

I found that fascinating so I began to surf.
The only article touching on this that I almost found is available here.
It mentions the idea, but the site was not available, so I haven't read the article.
Debbi just sent me this article, bless her...click here.Just throwing it out there because it's the first time I've ever heard of cochlear implants being okayed in unilateral hearing loss.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Apples and Honey


In the past week, I've been in contact with a variety of people of a variety of ages with a variety of lifestyles...one thing in common- Deaf.
One father is traveling throughout Italy to try to find the best care for his 17 month old daughter- you should see the pictures of the two of them together. He lost another child to leukemia. And now he is determined to help his other child.

I chatted with a fifty-five year old man who is having his surgery tomorrow, who needed encouragement before going in for the cochlear implant surgery, so that he could "hear his granddaughter call him when she needed him" and so that he could "hear the wind again" when riding his beloved horse.

A fourteen year old girl popped up on the Italian forum, terrified of her upcoming surgery, needing encouragement. When I saw the date of her birthday and the year 1996, the year Jordan was born...I got the lump in my throat so I began emailing her. She wrote to me today, "Mrs. Jodi Michelle, everything went fine and I'm home and recovering." I told her I was so happy for her, she was a girl with balls and if she ever called me "Mrs." again, I'd smack her upside the head.

*Smile*

Enriching is an understatement for what helping people help themselves gives me.
In the end, I'm pretty selfish.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Inside Out....Outside In



I have spent the past three years on the inside trying to look out and now I find myself on the outside looking in. This may make no sense at all to you, but it does to me. And it's a good place to be.
So, I've been reading "The Secret" and there's a part where it says something like "If you don't fulfill yourself, you will have nothing to give to others." And this is so true. For eleven years, I stopped existing, there was just no time to discover myself, fulfill myself and shop for myself.
I threw myself into my kids- teaching Jordan to speak, ate nutella by the spoonful and shopped for Sofia Madyson because suddenly the world was pink.

I believe that one morning- I woke up, the cause for the sudden wake up is irrelevant, and felt empty. Jordan could speak, Sofia chose her own clothes and nutella wasn't working for me...so I had to self-discover. I discovered music, pilates and support groups. I discovered blogging, international associations, and other moms like me. It was like I woke up back in high school and had to go to the University (of life) again, only this time as a mom.

Only this time as a MOM.

I went to visit my friend in Florence this weekend and she took me to Flo- an outdoor nightclub-bar-disco thing. Meat market. Hilarious. I had the best time hanging out, talking, drinking and yes, I danced- pulled a leg muscle and had toe cramps the rest of the night, but I danced. At a certain point my friend started talking to a guy, who was a thirty year old stone worker. Adorable guy. He guessed that I was thirty-two years old (Saint that he was) and asked me what I did. I told him and said I had two kids. He could have been my child, not because of his age, but because between his life experiences and mine..oceans, oceans of oceans apart.

But it was okay. I saw myself from the outside and the places I lived as a crazy college girl flashed before my eyes on the inside. I just wouldn't want to go back. I don't feel like I never lived life, and I no longer feel empty. I feel like a woman who is so happy just to spend time with my kids, read a good book, hit the cube for some quality exercise every now and then, hang out with my girlfriends and guyfriends...and dive into my job.

Plans...I have plans.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mattia Hears for the First Time

After a ten month hearing aid trial period that did not produce results, two year old Mattia was awakened from his nap...by sound.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

From Women to Woman


My friend and I went to dinner tonight and hit the gelateria for a cold one. We walked towards the center and she asked me to sit down. There before us was a circular bench with a plant in the middle, half in the dark, half in the light. I sat on the brightest part of the bench and my friend said, "Hmm. You chose the light and not the dark. And that, my friend, is the type of person you are."
She was correct. And I consciously headed for the light, I actually felt a shiver of revulsion when I saw that dark side of the bench.

My friend is wise.

During my time in Baltimore we often visited my grandmother in the nursing home. She did not once recognize me, but she talked about Jodi who moved far away and left her there. She told me she loved Jodi. I told her Jodi loved her, too, that we were close friends and I would kiss her for her. Everytime Jordan or I would explain to her that I was Jodi, she would look me straight in the eyes and say, "YOU are not Jodi."

My grandmother is wise.

I haven't written because I have been emotionally blocked trying to, struggling to figure things out.

Diane is one of the moms I met through the Ci Circle. I have sent her many messages during the past two years and followed her son John's successes. We have so many things in common. She and her three kids came to visit us in Baltimore and we did pizza and bowling. We talked for about twenty minutes as our kids bowled. She went through a period of her life where she became a strong advocate, studied laws and became informed to help families of children with hearing loss. A strong advocate.
Maybe we, as mothers go through a cathartic moment where helping others enables us to understand our own personal journeys.

Diane is a wise woman.

I would like to reach that wise woman status.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back to Tuscany!

We're headed back to Tuscany after a calm, relaxing trip with family and friends...Jordan and Sofia can't wait to see their dad - and I can't wait to de-supersize myself and get back to work!(love this video)Thank you so much to everyone for making our trip home memorable...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Promised Land

 

We took the MARC train from Baltimore to Union Station and hopped the Gallaudet shuttle. The shuttle was Jordan's first introduction to ASL. He saw everyone on the shuttle signing, and there was silence.
He looked at me and said, "Does everyone talk like this?" He made some gesture.
I said, "Yes, but the signs are words and that's communication. They're deaf just like you."
We continued our conversation in Italian as everyone else signed.
We got off the bus and a nice Doctorate in Philosophy told me where we needed to go, which was just across the street here.

 

Paula Tucker had sent me an email a month ago asking me if we wanted to tour Gallaudet, and I said yes. She is absolutely the nicest woman and was extremely helpful and generous with her time. She also gave me the name of a person to contact in Israel and blew Jordan away with videophone technology (I thought of Karen Putz the entire time) and the double screen mega-MAC computer.

My first impression...silence. A university campus in silence. Not many campuses are rocking in the summer, and Gallaudet was in the middle of a summer program called Jumpstart, which provides an intensive ASL course for oral, av students attending as all courses are in ASL, but the silence was thought-provoking.

Everywhere we turned there were deaf empowerment pictures, posters, history, etc. Loved that!

 

We arranged everything very last minute with Paula, and Julia from the visitor's center was luckily and miraculously able to organize a tour for us. We had Patrick signing, Emily interpreting for me and me interpreting for Jordan.

 

At the end of the tour, after telling us about Gallaudet, Clerc, the coffin door and the Presidents' house filled with ghosts, Patrick asked me if I had any questions. I said, "I have a personal question, Jordan's going into high school, he's mainstreamed and kind of terrified. Any advice?"
Patrick said, "Totally normal, I was mainstreamed, too. He'll just need to work harder."

Work harder.
Gallaudet is filled with students who have always had to work harder and there's something about the campus that breathes a collective sigh of relief.

After four years, I finally met Sharon, who was the first person to interview my dad and me after the book was released. One of those internet friendships with all of everything called life shared over the years. Beautiful person who loves, loves teaching at Gallaudet.

 


Before going to bed, Jordan and I had a pow wow. He asked me if he was the only deaf person who could speak. I said absolutely not. I asked him if he realized that for the first time he was sitting in a classroom with all deaf students, instead of sitting in a classroom with hearing students his whole life and being the only deaf student. I think that question surprised him, because he had not realized that, but I could tell he kind of liked the idea. He said he liked hearing and speaking but that he had felt comfortable at Gallaudet.
Then he told me he'd like to learn sign language and to keep blogging because he would like to write a book about the life of a deaf child...him.
*Smile*

 

Something tells me that despite the fact Jordan's just entering high school, the official hunt for college has already begun...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jordan, Gallaudet and I...Tomorrow

*Smile*
Anything in particular we should see??
SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Palindrome

Sofia Madyson handed me a fortune cookie after a dinner at the Chinese Buffet and it read: "Water can not only sink a ship...but it can keep it afloat."
And my mom just showed me this video...

Blue Snowballs and Good Times

We are truly blessed...and having the BEST TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!