Monday, December 31, 2007

2008...BRING IT ON!

2007 will undoubtedly go down as the most AMAZING year of my life. I am like reborn. Most importantly, my family was healthy this year, kids included, and as we learn through the years, health is the MOST important factor in regulating our lives. Sofia is growing up to be an independent, vain princess with a wicked sense of humor, today she is 5 years old and is currently downstairs jamming her new pink Barbie guitar. Jordan has made a relatively smooth transition to Middle School and is finally learning to roll with whatever life throws you, no easy task given his ego-centric and sensitive character. This year rewarded him with new experiences like hitting a game winning triple in the bottom of the ninth, having a girl say yes to him when he asked her to the cinema (only then to never go - but he did receive a yes), signing RALLY CAPS books for children and adults like the star he is, winning CLASS REPRESENTATIVE in school and singing in the Duomo of Grosseto.
My dream in life has always been to write a book, without my dad's consistent encouragement, that would never have happened at this point in my life. The book was published on April 16th and ever since that day, incredible people and experiences have been coming in and out of my life. We've had national television and magazine exposure in Italy and local media coverage in Baltimore...people popped out of-I don't even know where- to give us a hand, really bizarre series of coincidences that lead me to believe that fate has a part in all we do and that I need to sit my ass down and start writing another one:) A couple of days ago, Val from Alabama :)emailed me that RALLY CAPS was officially in her Public Library and ready to be checked out by any kid interested. How powerful is that? A hearing child will meet a deaf child with a cochlear implant through literature...or even better, a deaf child with a cochlear implant will find himself on the shelf.
I've been so busy interacting with and trying to become involved with helping other people that I've neglected my own family(Mom, Step-father, Grammy, Niki, Julie), but after eight years of living in a tunnel with a very faint light up ahead that suddenly became brilliant after the cochlear implant came into our lives, I feel myself coming back to life and I'm keeping that for myself. I need to be selfish just a little longer to return to the person I was before I moved to Italy and threw a wall up that blocked any emotion with regard to the fact that my parents weren't seeing my kids grow up every single day and I was communicating with my own son in a language not my own. Jordan's deafness never scared me, I reacted on the offensive instead of the defensive by throwing myself into identifying HIS needs. That's what we do as parents - put our kids first, especially in a situation like that one. I can't count the number of times I heard these words, "When is he going to learn English?" as I was struggling to teach him how to say a three word sentence in Italian, that's a lot of pain to work through and the yahoo support groups are healing me, as is our book and every single person I have met in this period.
I feel truly fortunate to be loved by the man I met 19 years ago and to love. 2007 will remain one of the most important years of my life and I must say 2008 intrigues me, so...BRING IT ON!


Sunday, December 30, 2007


For ten and a half years I did not know that yahoo groups existed. The last nine months of reading and sending messages, exchanging information with other parents living my same experience at different points of the journey has made me a stronger and better mother. Yesterday, we went to Pisa for Jordan's second mapping of the NUCLEUS FREEDOM. We sat down at the table: the audiologist with her computer, Jordan next to her, Luca behind Jordan and I was seated across from the audiologist. After hooking his processor up to the computer, she began making adjustments, but she didn't ask specific questions and I started getting antsy. Do I open my big, fat mouth or stay silent and let her do her job? Well, I am just not a patient person and my kid's hearing was at stake, so of course my aggressive self took over and I began firing questions. Another important aspect is to know your kid, observe him and his behavior, obviously that was the main reason I started collaborating with the audiologist. We worked on adjusting the level of background noise, by concentrating on sounds in the room like the fan, "Jordan, is the fan loud or soft?" "Is my voice louder or softer than the fan?" "Can you hear your own voice?" "Is it louder or softer than my voice?" etc. Then, I asked her if she did the Ling Test? She said she didn't know what the Ling Test was, I thought maybe it was an American thing, so I asked her to repeat some consonants and vowel sounds. She began going through the consonants like this: "ABBA- AKKA-ADDA-ALLA-ASSA" but when the consonant is attached to the vowel "A" it's easier for Jordan to distinguish as opposed to when the consonant is alone or attached to the "ee" sound. So, I started in an I'm-really-not-trying-to-do-your-job way, more like an I'm-a-proud-member-of-the-Pediatric-Cochlear-Implant-Circle-and-I'm-informed kind of way to do some Ling testing that you can see here with Nicole: To watch video either double click to go to youtube or deactivate music on the upper righthand side of the page


At the conclusion of the mapping I asked the audiologist if she had made a lot of significant changes in respect to the old one, and her response was, "Yes." We also made certain that the volume feature was adjustable for those "extra-loud" school days. The FREEDOM PROCESSOR allows for four maps. P1 is his base map, P2 uses the AUTOSENSITIVITY PROGRAM, P3 ADRO and P4 is the base map on a higher level. She allowed me to download the new maps on my husbands computer key-drive (whatever you call that thing) that he obsessively carries with him, thank God! I like having copies of Jordan's maps just in case.
We said our goodbyes and headed for the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Given that the hospital is a three minute walk from the Tower and I spent a lot of time there breathing during Jordan's surgery, I kind of always have to visit Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracles Square- highly appropriate) every time we go for an audiological visit. Jordan got a foot long hot dog, had the man cut it in half because he only wanted mayonnaise on half of the dog and nothing on the other half and a can of peach tea. I watched all of the Japanese tourists-not many Americans-doing the typical Leaning Tower of Pisa pose where they contort their bodies and arms to make it look like they're holding up the Tower from falling, one of the most hysterical things ever seen and consistently reproduced!

I've become so Italian:)

Friday, December 28, 2007


This blog must be jammed with kids. I'm in a funky mood right now, my husband downloaded some MC Hammer on my ipod...what was he thinking? Anyway, I have to tell everyone about how funny these little Italian kidlings are that I teach at the pre-school - one day I'll talk about the middle school and high school kids, but they're a whole different breed. Well, there is this one group of four year olds that I've been teaching for two years and in this class two puppy love couples have couple, Andrea and Giulia must be soulmates because I have never seen any couple as in love as these two niblets. They hold each others hands, hug each other and have deep conversations during my English lesson only taking time out from each other to Hokey Pokey, and I just sit there watching them and laughing to myself. I swear the last lesson they kissed each other on the lips, so of course I jumped up and was like, "Whoa, no hanky panky on my shift!" Shocking. In that same class there is another couple, Ginevra and Filippo who hold hands and hug during English class. I promise all I do is sing, dance, use flashcards and stuffed animals! WELL, during the last lesson Giulia(the girl from couple number 1) was absent and Filippo (the boy from couple number 2) was absent as well. So, loverboy Andrea (Andrew)started making the moves on Ginevra...when he tried to hold her hand, she shot him a look like "BURN AND DIE SCUM" and said, "I have a boyfriend and you are not him!" I was on the floor, lost it totally, geeze they start early in this country! I'm so naive.
Just thought I'd jam-pack this blog with some amazing cochlear kids, my four year olds inspire me every day...(TO DEACTIVATE THE MUSIC CLICK ON THE STOP BUTTON IN THE UPPER RIGHTHAND CORNER)


Gage is very dramatic about the weather. Our power was out for 18hrs. We read and told ghost stories. They had a ball.



Thursday, December 27, 2007


I'm about to get deep here, hold onto your pants...The Holiday season brings gifts, hustle-bustle chaos, exasperatingly nauseating lovey-dovey couples and serious depression. The holidays are a time to celebrate family, reminisce, review the past year and suffer for those who have lost loved ones and dreams. As we go through the motions of our daily lives, we don't have time to sit back and ponder our failures and successes nor do we take the time to tell our loved ones how much they really mean to us. The holidays give us a pause just long enough for it all to come crashing down on us...especially for the mom of a newly diagnosed deaf child. The relatives sitting around that table look at her and her baby with...PITY. THERE WAS NOTHING THAT PISSED ME OFF MORE THAN WHEN PEOPLE LOOKED AT MY CHILD AND SAID, "POOR LITTLE BOY, HOW DID HE BECOME DEAF - WAS HE BORN THAT WAY?"
A 26 year old mother of a child diagnosed with bilateral sensorineural deafness just posted the most desperate cry for help I have ever read on these groups. She is in serious difficulty financially and emotionally and is drowning. The most blinding aspect of her letter was how much she was in love with her son and didn't know how to help him because the system kept slamming doors in her face. She was denied three times by her insurance carrier for a cochlear implant. Here's your son's future just a four hour surgery away, but I'm sorry, he can't have the surgery. How does a mother deal with something so damn frustrating? How do you manage the overwhelming feeling of impotence in not being able to help your child no matter what you do, where you go, with everyone saying my least favorite word "NO, NO, NO, NO" in your face. How do you think she is passing her Christmas?
I wrote her a long letter and told her to begin signing. What an amazing opportunity to take control back, to feel like she is doing something productive in a time period
where she feels completely out of control. Take action. Give yourself and your son a method of communication that will then serve as a bridge to better communication when he receives the cochlear implant.
Jordan received his cochlear implant three years ago during this time. We were sitting in the hospital room in the SANTA CHIARA HOSPITAL in Pisa, watching the devastating Tsunami that hit Thailand during his ci surgery. We spent six days in the hospital and the most beautiful woman named Josephine shared the moment with us. She had had rhinoplasty and there we were Jodi, Jordan and Jo, the three JOs lined up in a row (something impossible in Italy, no one has a name with a J). They had given Jordan an iv for his antibiotic and the last bag was taking forever, so I had Jordan in my lap and JO jumped up on a chair to hold the bag in the air to make it drip faster because the line was ripping out of Jordan's arm and he was in pain. She stood and held that bag for thirty minutes, the longest bag of antibiotic ever, she was just an amazing person, a total stranger, and we managed to get through one of the most difficult periods of my life together.
After the cochlear implant surgery and Jordan's tragic mapping experience I went into a major depression. When I saw that Jordan could hear and repeat sentences two weeks after his activation and my speech therapist for the first time in our eight year journey, smiled, my walls crashed and so did I. I began having panic attacks while driving, didn't want to get out of bed, didn't want to leave the house and suffered. I went to my doctor to ask for help when I started fearing for my kids because I was after all the chauffer. He told me about a new wave medication for depression called ciprolex that had NO SIDE EFFECTS, I think that was the name, I can't remember and I said "bring it on." I said bring it on, but the idea of taking a drug terrified me. My life has not been as difficult as most, but it certainly hasn't been easy and I couldn't understand why at that moment when everything FINALLY was on the upswing, I was crashing. And yet, I did understand. No one needed me to be strong anymore, I could be weak and I was. I took the medication for one year and it saved me. It rendered me just numb enough to work through all of what had set me off.
Why do I love these yahoo groups so much? Because I have been where these new mothers are now and I understand their suffering, so maybe just maybe my experiences will help the next. This season brings so much suffering and pain but it also brings unexpected gifts from people we don't even know. Look around at all the people we love and who love us, really look at them and tell them how important they are to you. I guarantee that for one brief moment, all that is difficult, stressful and tragic will pass. I have music back in my life after I had gone a long time without it, and it sounds so good.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


UNBELIEVABLE!! First of all, I haven't blogged because I can't freaking open my email, my server is constantly is driving me CRAZY!!!!!! Okay, I'm calm, kind of, because Christmas here is like a 72 hour marathon of pasta al forno, chicken salad, crostini with sausage, mushrooms, fish stuff, eggs, salami, roast beef, fried polenta, french fries, potatoes, chicken broth and AMAZING tira mi su - my mil's specialty and WINE WINE WINE. I didn't eat that much this year, I'm watching my line:)But it is like a non-stop eatfest, you spend four hours at the table, sleep for two, and then plow in the car to go to visit friends where they shove more food down your throats. We went to my husband's cousin's podere, an amazing traditionally tuscan-styled farmhouse in the middle of the countryside, to die for beautiful, roaring fireplace and lots of family cheer. The game of the evening was PAN FORTE, a traditional Sienese Medieval Christmas something something that is a flat, round, rock hard disc of candied fruit, almonds, sugar, etc - I don't eat it and the people here throw it, literally, across a looooooong wooden table where the person who comes the closest to the end of the table without going off the table wins. It's kind of like the paper triangle football game that we played in Middle School during recess. Jordan rocked! I opted out after I sucked and spent my time in front of the fireplace listening to my NEW IPOD! WAHOOOOOO! I cannot believe I am finally home, exhausting three day marathon - and this is how it all started:

As I blogged in a previous post we were preparing to unmask Santa because Jordan is eleven and is the only one in Middle School who still believes - he's convinced- that Santa exists. Well, as my brother-in-law Alessandro prepared to dress up as Santa and left a couple of presents on the landing between floors of the condominium, I went outside to get some more packages to stuff "Santa's" bag. On my way outside, I saw a neighbor, a woman live-in who looks after an elderly woman, walk in the door to the condominium. We exchanged best wishes and she went on her way. I brought the extra packages inside, sat down and tried to calm down my hyper agitated can't-wait-for-Santa kids. As we're sitting there, I hear Alessandro, my father-in-law and my mil arguing because they couldn't find the packages they had left on the landing, they had disappeared. When they realized that none of the three had touched the presents, Ale went upstairs and knocked on this woman's door, who spent twenty-five minutes saying she had walked upstairs in the dark and hadn't seen any packages. Ale called me upstairs to identify the woman and when she saw me she suddenly changed her story to "Yes, I saw you as I walked in the condominium, walked upstairs in the dark, saw a couple of packages that I didn't touch and went in my house." Whoa! At that point her story had changed and Ale who is a police officer in Florence lost it totally! He screamed for ten minutes, threatening her and said he was going to call the police if she didn't whip out the presents...well, that must have convinced her because she hightailed her dishonest butt to her bedroom and SURPRISE SURPRISE PULLED OUT THE MISSING BAG OF PRESENTS!!!!! THIEF! GRINCH! CHRISTMAS WITCH! WOULD YOU WANT YOUR SICK MOTHER LOOKED AFTER BY A THIEF!!!
It took Ale twenty minutes to calm down and we were all in shock, times must be really bad if you have to steal a kid's Christmas presents!
After Santa came into the house, Jordan was flying out of his pants and Sofia...after one "HO HO HO!" said, "You're not Santa, you're Zio Ale!" (that's my girl!)(NOTE: don't think that the fact that Jordan couldn't hear Santa's voice has nothing to do with the fact that he believes in Santa)The kids opened their presents and my mil said, "Okay, Jordan, let's go unmask Santa!" I stayed with Sofia and this was the report back from the big event...
Apparently, when Jordan took off Santa's beard, the first thing he did was hug Ale with an ecstatic face, the second thing he did was say, "Zio, you're Santa Claus, but how is it possible that YOU give all the presents to all the children in the world!"
And...that's my boy!


Monday, December 24, 2007


Last night, the NUMBER ONE Italian television station RAI 1 had the opportunity to educate a country...and they blew it. A huge thank you goes out to my friend, Rosy, who called me at 9:21 pm to tell me that they were telling Jordan's story on the RAI. I thought maybe Jordan's interview of June 6th where he played the piano on National Television was being played again, but when I turned on the tv and saw the film, I realized that there was a film about a deaf child. I locked myself in a room, prepared to bawl my eyes out and began to watch. I could not believe that Italian television was approaching the argument of deafness on the 23rd of December, a time when families gather to watch nostalgic Christmas movies.
I quickly got into the film because the first scene I saw was when the mother is coming to terms with her child's deafness and cranks up the tv, screams his name at the top of her lungs, jams the stereo and finally slams a vase with all of her strength to get a reaction from her deaf child who plays contentedly never flinching. The mother then overdramatically throws herself on the sofa and begins bawling because she is coming to terms with the fact that her son will never hear.
The father suffers in his own way and tries to help pull the mother out of her world of agony but he just doesn't have what it takes to help her. Any mother reading this knows that we must create our own level of peace before accepting and reacting to our child's's a personal coming to terms moment and experience.
After this episode, the mom declares, "OKAY, let's go get the cochlear implant right now!" So they drive hours to the hospital, the dad goes to park the car and the mom finds herself in the hospital "waiting room" where she sits contemplating the surgery. A hospital bedroom door opens and we see a little girl with a lost look on her face and a bandage wrapped around her head. The mom makes it to the point where she meets with the surgeon, signs the consent form and hands her baby to the nurse to perform testing. She sees her child cry, stands up and says she wants to be with her baby throughout the testing.
The next scene has her in the hospital room, pondering the surgery, she stands up and escapes from the hospital, leaving her husband who had had a fender bender which had prohibited him from reaching her sooner in the hospital room.
The next interesting and responsible part of the film was a series of flashes of doctors' visits discussing the various approaches to deafness...sign language, hearing aids, cochlear implants, the child being tested, second-eighth opinions, during which time THE CHILD IS NOT HAVING ANY ACCESS TO SOUND. This portrays the agony of the mom, but not the immediate needs of the child. The final doctor they consulted was the strongest voice in the film. This doctor said that they should immediately fit the child for hearing aids for his profound hearing loss and if the child did not receive any benefit, the only other option was a cochlear implant if they wanted their child to have access to a hearing world. This doctor had a deaf nephew who currently attended the University and was "fighting off the women."
The mother decided she liked that doctor and was prepared to order hearing aids, when she received a MIRACULOUS telephone call from her friend who told her about an engineer who was busy working on the sixth generation of digital hearing aids. Then a love story begins and the deaf plot is lost. In the end they put on the miracle hearing aid, Alessandro turns to the sound of music and total joy ensues.
The ending of the film showed the boy at age eight scoring a soccer goal and the crowd going took all I had not to puke...yet it was important at the same time, very important because the deaf child was speaking and not signing...revolutionary for Italian fiction tv.


Jen sent me this video a week ago...thank you so much!
Jen wrote:

This is Cormac 3 1/2 months post activation. For those who don't know, Cormac was born profoundly deaf in both ears. He recieved bilateral Cochlear Implants on 6/21/07at 14 months old. He was activated on 7/23/07 and 7/24/07. In this video I am covering my mouth so he can't read my lips. As of December, Cormac understands about 200 words. He has also started talking. He is one smart little cookie! (by the way, he said "ookie" yesterday for the first time!)

I took this video a while ago but did not post it becasue I was not keeping up the blog. Cormac understands around 200 words at last count. He knows the entire alphabet (which he can also sign a lot of ) and he knows his numbers 1-5 and signs those as well. He is already starting to talk. He has a few words but my favorite is Mom. Not too shabby for a 20 month old who has only been hearing for not even 4 months!

Each day the gap is getting smaller and smaller between him and Ciaran and Colin.


Sunday, December 23, 2007


OKAY! I AM BACK! I had planned on posting last night, but got sidetracked by one of those bizarre chance meetings that are a gift from God. Yesterday was my last day of lessons before the holiday break, I finished at five, then had to run to the town center for some last minute shopping, when hubbie phoned. He said the kids were sleeping at his mom's and where did I want to eat. WAHOOOOOO! I ran home, threw on a skirt and some black and silver sparkly legwarmers, it's cold as a mother here, but a woman must flash some leg every now and then and we headed to our favorite pizzeria BIG PIZZA. After this loooooooong week, I needed a glass of wine, so we ordered a bottle and I drank 3/4 of it. Considering I hadn't really had time to eat all day, I was BOMBED and feeling damn good! As we were finishing our dinner, I saw a red head flash by and heard AMERICAN ENGLISH COME OUT OF HER MOUTH! I rarely do this, but since I was kind of in la la land, I flagged her down and said, "Excuse me, were you speaking English? Are you American? Do you live here?" I shot off a rapid series of questions, she walked straight up to me and started talking to me. She said her name was RACHEL (my life is filled with amazing Rachels)and that she had been living in Porto Ercole - 25 minutes from me- for a year.
Then, I told her I was from Pikesville and she said she used to be married to a guy from Pikesville and had lived on Charles Street and...we looked at each other - time stopped- and we both knew: JEWISH!!! I hugged her, partially because I was drunk but mostly because I had found a kindred soul under the most bizarre of circumstances. We talked nonstop, our husbands put up with us for like two hours. She is actually living in Italy with a German passport that she was given as the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, that was a heavy moment when she gave me that information. We have a lot in common: our favorite store is Target, we love guacamole and Chili's nachos and we are Americans living in Tuscany.
She is married to the nicest guy named Paolo who adores her and who is so similar to my own husband - they both have this issue with buying new clothes and hoarding them, perhaps they like looking at the tags!? and re-wearing the same clothes every day. What is with the men in this country? They will wear the same shirt and pants every single day for a week and the motivation? I'm just at work, why dirty good clothes? HELLO!!! DO YOU NOT SMELL AT WORK? I got my own husband out of this habit, immediately, wearing the same shirt two days in a row is grounds for divorce, in my book. Rachel has done the same with her husband.
Anyway, we had a GREAT!!!! night out last night and I found a new friend!

Friday, December 21, 2007


Kind of in a holiday funk today, trying to pull out of it. The holidays are like that, up one minute, down the next and then right back up. Everyone is supposed to be full of holiday cheer and jingle their bells cause Santa Claus is coming to town, but it just doesn't always go down like that, maybe I'm pms, dunno. In any case, if you, too, are in a nostalgic mood and in need of a big, fat cry, I mean a real quality tear-streaming tearjam, go check out Josh Swiller's blog from Dec. 17th. I'm going to post the youtube video he posted on his blog because he's talking on the telephone and the video does a good job showing how frustrating it can be to almost but not quite hear everything with a cochlear implant...and he has a magical telephone reunion going on there.
To deactivate the music (love this song, reminds me of THE VOUS at College Park (it's bad pms when I'm reminiscing about college:)))click on the stop button on the top right-hand corner of the blog...

Be baaaaaaaaaaaack tomorrow...special thanks to Val, Gage and Brook for the magical video they sent me, sure am glad Val has a digital camera gotta make a thousand videos fetish - go girl!
Another highlight of the morning was waking up to find out that there is a new member of the Pediatric Ci Circle thanks to the PARENTS TO PARENTS: COCHLEAR IMPLANTS FOR KIDS BROCHURE CREATED BY THE GROUP TOGETHER WITH THE GIFT OF HEARING FOUNDATION...extremely satisfying knowing that the brochure created by the group reached a mom in need...lotta love going out to all of you...Jodi

Thursday, December 20, 2007


First of all, I would like to thank all members of the yahoo support groups Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle, Listen-UP and Learn2Hear for their comments and love in response to our announcement about RALLY CAPS being published in Italian, they were GREATLY appreciated!
Now, everyone knows that I love Rachel Chaikof, because she is just the primary example of where I want my son to be at age 20: in college, independent, eloquent, confident and of course...a world traveler. When I was 20, I road-tripped to Key West for Spring Break with my best friend Julie. We drove 24 hours, slept nine in a room and shared the floor with some ugly cockroaches...but THAT is what being young and drunk at Spring Break is all about. I want my son to experience crazy stuff like this, but will it be possible for him to travel and handle problems that may potentially arise? Get a load of Rachel's trip to France...(as told by her mom Melissa (see her comment on the Supermoms post):

Here's a story that is a real testament to how necessary the ability to hear
and speak are to be truly independent in the hearing world. As I had
written before, Rachel was in France. She was volunteering with an
organization called Volunteers for Peace.
The organization is affiliated
with UNESCO and recommended by the Princeton Review, and so it looked pretty
good. According to their write-up, she was supposed to be working with
kids, with people with disabilities, helping out in the fields on the farm,
etc. Unfortunately, it turned out that the woman who ran the farm was very
nasty. She was constantly yelling at the volunteers but especially Rachel
as she apparently does not like Americans. In addition, rather than
activities to help promote peace, she had the girls doing nothing but
cooking and cleaning the house. Rachel tried to speak to her about the
situation as she was the only one who spoke French and could communicate
with the woman, but the woman only got nastier. *There were two other volunteers with her for the week, both from Korea. The Koreans spoke English but not French. The leader spoke French but not English. So, my deaf daughter, whom the experts told me 20 years ago would probably never speak English well, acted as the translator between the leader and the Korean girls since she's fluent in both languages.*

NOTE: Rachel didn't start studying French until the second semester of her 9th grade year. Her high school was on a semester system, which enabled her
after taking French every semester to study through French 5 followed by a
full year of AP French her senior year and a semester of French in college.
Plus, she went on two exchange programs to France and then spent 3 weeks
there with her French friends last summer as well and has maintained email
and written communication in French with a couple of French pen pals since
9th grade as well.

...Rachel had spent $250 of her own money plus her frequent flyer mileage and
my parents' to get there, and so she wanted to try to salvage some of the
trip. Therefore, she opted to leave the farm and make her way to Bayonne,
France, where she has some very close friends and which is at the opposite
end of the country from where she was in the middle of rural France outside
of Marseilles. She got a ride to the bus stop in the little town near where
she was. She knew that she needed to get to the train station in Marseilles
but didn't know anything more than that. In French, she asked two high
school students at the bus stop how to get there. They were very nice and
sat on the bus with her, showing her where to get off and telling her which
bus to transfer to. When she got off the second bus, she asked the bus
driver in French how to get to the train station.
He told her how to get
there. She walked a few blocks to the train station and asked in French at
the station how to get to Bayonne. This entailed taking two trains for a
total of 7 hours, transferring in Bordeaux. Throughout all of this, she was
in constant touch with me and with her friends in Bayonne via cell phone.
cannot imagine what she would have done had she not been able to communicate
as well as she can. She certainly would have been stuck at the farm for the
full 2 and a half weeks. Also, being able to speak to her throughout this
ordeal certainly kept me from being one basketcase of a totally anxious mom.
All's well that ends well as she's back home tonight safe and sound, having
enjoyed the last part of her trip much more than the first. Oh, one more
thing - If anyone knows of any great organizations that run volunteer
programs in Europe for college students, we'd love to hear about them
because she will be there again this summer and has about three weeks to
fill before starting her semester abroad in France in September, and she's
certainly not going through Volunteers for Peace again!


Remember Rachel??

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


My dad and I are international authors...hahahahahahaha! This year just may have been the most rewarding, inspiring, exciting and shocking year of my life. I have never felt more blessed...I used to watch the Oscars when the actors gave their tear-jerker speeches and would honestly flinch when they thanked God and got religious. I thought they were being a bit too melodramatic. After this experience with Jordan, I am now convinced that the people who thank God must be those who had a really hard road to follow before arriving at that Academy Awards Ceremony.
When Jordan was diagnosed as deaf and we began our journey, I used to pray every night before going to sleep. I would say, "God, I know that my son is deaf for a reason. He is healthy, strong, intelligent and beautiful, so I really don't see any need to be angry or resentful towards you, but I am asking you to give me strength to learn this language and to be the mother he needs me to be." As I've said before, I'm Jewish, but living in Italy, I'm surrounded by crucifixes, churches, etc. and don't think I haven't sounded a "Listen, Jesus, my husband's Catholic, so if you are involved in this as well, give me strength!" As I have said, I am blessed and faith has been a powerful ally in this process.
Along our Italian winding road, we have met incredible doctors, surgeons, audiologists, speech therapists and teachers, I WILL HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO THANK THEM IN THE ITALIAN VERSION OF RALLY CAPS. My dad pressured me for six long years, during which I was struggling with Jordan in hearing aids to teach him to communicate and become independent. My dad's famous words in every single conversation in those six years were "Write the book!" When I stopped, he would pick it up, when he picked it up, I became inspired. Two weeks after Jordan's cochlear implant activation, when he could hear his name and understand sentences with my mouth covered, I began to see a future for my child and we were able to finish RALLY CAPS.
RALLY CAPS is not a bestseller or a piece of fine literature, it is an inspirational book with a message: NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE. My son and other children like him deserve to be on the shelves of the local library. (GO TO YOUR LIBRARY AND ORDER THE BOOK!)That is my main goal in all of this, to give my son a voice and some representation. That voice will now not only be heard in ENGLISH but in ITALIAN, as well.
A special thank you goes to PUBLISH AMERICA, COCHLEAR ITALY (COCHLEAR AMERICA HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH RALLY CAPS)and Aura Nobolo for her commitment and assistance in providing funding for the translation that is being done by my good friend Rosy Alfinito. All of this has come about because my family and I believed that my child would succeed in his oral approach to deafness, that he would be able to learn to speak and communicate in a hearing world. My dad signs all the books "Dream it, Believe it, Work it, Achieve it..." Every now and then my dad gets profound:)...and I am only just getting started...

Monday, December 17, 2007


Yesterday afternoon, while I was sitting on the bed helping Sofia attach her Winx stickers to the sticker album, I overheard my mother-in-law having a conversation with Jordan...they were talking about sex. I heard bits and pieces and after the conversation Jordan came into the bedroom where I was sitting, walked over to me and gave me a hug. Then, he went over to his little play area and began playing with his toy soldiers.
My mil looked at me in amazement and said, "I don't know if what I just said was okay, but when Jordan told me he knew how a man and a woman make love because he read it in a book, I couldn't just leave it at that."
*In Italy there is no fourth grade "Health Class"(another HUGE mistake)*
This is what my mother-in-law said to Jordan: "Jordan, you know how sex works now, but you need to know that when a man and a woman have sex, they need to love each other and babies come from having sex. A man gives the woman a seed that pairs with a woman's egg and the combination produces a baby."
Jordan said, "Yeah but babies pop out after nine months."
MIL replied, "But the baby grows in the woman's uterus for those nine months."
Then she asked him if the kids at school talk about sex, and he said some kids do and some kids don't.
Keep in mind that Jordan still believes in Santa Claus, completely. ALL OF THE KIDS IN HIS CLASS KNOW THAT SANTA CLAUS DOES NOT EXIST. During this period my mil has been trying to tell him that Santa does not exist in the softest way possible by making a game out of it. You see, in my husband's family, while they are not very religious, they celebrate Christmas as a time to be with family. Luca's brother Alessandro dresses up as Santa every year, comes to our home and brings presents to all of the kids in our neighborhood. Even when Jordan received his cochlear implant three years ago on December 23rd, Santa arrived in his hospital room bearing gifts. Alessandro wears this white beard that covers his entire face, so that not even Jordan recognizes him (or wants to recognize him). There is also the tradition of the "BEFANA" in Italy, which is the night of January 5th when a witch flies into town carrying stockings filled with candy and toys for all children who have been good and coal, onions and garlic for those who have been bad. My mil dresses up every year as the BEFANA and Jordan realized that it was her last year...but he won't let go of Santa.
The game is as follows: when Santa arrives this year at our home, Jordan gets to unmask Santa before he leaves, obviously not in front of Sofia, because she is five.

I heard my mil say to Jordan, "Jordan if you know how a man and a woman make love, how can you still think that Santa exists?" Ouch, that was a very painful thing to overhear. However it is true, generally a child realizes that Santa isn't real before they discover sex. My child wants to still be a child, that's why he came in and hugged me after that heavy conversation, and I want to be the one to guide his growth into reality - no after-school special or tear-jerker of a movie here- he will be unmasking Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

On a lighter note, the SANTA CLAUS AWARD this year goes to PIETRINO, THE GAS MAN. Pietrino's was the only gas station that continued to pump gas during the strike because he rationed the gas to 5 euros a car. While all other gas stations filled the tanks to the max, finished their gas and closed shop, he continued pumping and working and satisfying all customers. Hats off to a hard and conscientious worker!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


The comments made by parents on the post, "Never Under-Estimate the Power of a Mom" deserve their own separate post. The purpose of the post was to help new mothers realize that there will come a time when they will regain control over their future despite the fact that they don't immediately have control over their child's hearing loss. I hope that parents will continue sharing their experiences to help the next parents view their new situation with different eyes.

Paula blogged:Recently, Jodi asked the group to tell her what we did before we became parents and what we currently do as we raise our kids. It’s a great exercise, because as any parent of a child with hearing loss can tell you, we often lose our identities and become consumed with researching hearing loss, education laws, cochlear implants, assistive technology, you name it. All this while we raise our children, build our marriages, run our households and try to lead relatively sane lives.

Here’s what I told her:

As for what I did prior to staying home and raising my kids…

I went to law school, married after my second year, then started a software development business with hubby rather than pursue the public interest law career I had planned. He wrote the software and I became a self-taught marketer and public relations maven. I loved it and was very proud when I was able to get our tiny company into big player media like The New York Times and PC Magazine, this after we spent thousands of wasted dollars on a “real” tech specific PR agency.

Then I had the first two of my three children and decided to stay at home. Ever restless, I started an online business, TaylorRose, which was one of the earliest online children’s boutiques. I didn’t realize it then, but I was truly at the forefront of Internet shops as Saks and Neimans weren’t even selling online yet! I loved it and was really getting the business rolling when Julie was diagnosed with her hearing loss.

When she turned 3 I made a sudden decision to relocate to St. Louis without my hubby (somebody had to work!) so that she could attend the Moog Center for Deaf Education there. Leaving two young toddlers with a sitter in St. Louis while I jetted to Chicago to buy for my online shop was too much for this guilt-ridden Jewish mother. I closed up shop and sat around for about a day. With the kids in bed by 7:30 and hubby in New York, I quit tv cold turkey and started writing instead. Truth be told, the women who run Moog were incredibly inspiring and I aspired to become more like them. They were making such a tremendous difference in the lives of children with hearing loss every day and I wanted to too. I really felt my own experiences growing up hearing impaired could help other people.

I started HearingExchange, wrote my first original article, 5 Things to Teach Your Deaf or Hard of Hearing Child, which is still my most widely requested reprint and it all snowballed from there. I’ve been writing and researching and re-vamping HearingExchange since 2000 and truly feel I have found my calling in life! It has brought about so many opportunities for me and for Julie. I feel so blessed! And there you have it, in a nutshell! LOL

I forgot to mention what some of those opportunities were:

Meeting and speaking to groups all around the country
Being in a video on cochlear implants distributed worldwide and playing at EPCOT
Being awarded an Oticon Focus on People Award for Advocacy
Meeting Heather Whitestone twice and having Julie interview her for a school project
Being widely published and linked throughout the Internet
Receiving emails and referrals from all over the world soliciting advice on hearing loss and parenting issues
These 16 years have been a journey of self-discovery. I truly feel that I have “found” myself and am doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Reflecting back on all that I’ve done has given me a renewed sense of accomplishment and a huge boost to my ego.(thanks, Paula)

Hetha said... Wow, what an inspirational post! I agree, moms are changing the world, plain and simple.

I'm glad you write about things that are posted on the circle, I'm a member but I don't read everything since I've wound up on so many groups. But I do subscribe to this blog with my reader, so if I miss important posts on the circle I can catch them here from you!

I am inspired by Rachel Coleman and have many times thought about going back to school (when life allows) to become a teacher of the deaf. I used to be a full time middle school teacher (language arts and computer science) before Ethan was born. He has so many needs though (beyond having implants and apraxia) that I don't know when I'll be able to go back to school/work.

Keep up the great blogging Jodi!
December 13, 2007 10:34 AM

December 13, 2007 12:15 PM
leahlefler said...
I was planning on staying home before Nolan's loss was discovered, but when he was diagnosed it cemented my decision! I used to work for a small in-vitro diagnostics firm (biotech), first in product development and then specializing in failure investigations. I've never had a job as worthwhile as working with my kids, though! I'm off to go play some patty-cake with Nolan before Matthew wakes up!December 13, 2007 2:17 PM

Melissa said...
I not only gave up my job but completely changed careers. My bachelor’s and master’s degrees are in applied math, and I spent my first 8 years post grad school working as a systems analyst, returning part time after Rachel was born until she was 4. I took what was supposed to be a year off when Adam was born because that was also my husband’s last year of surgical training, and we moved to Atlanta supposedly just for a year of his fellowship. I saw during that year what a difference my being home made for Rachel's language. Plus, we had an incredible AV therapist here, and so we ended up staying in Atlanta, and I opted to be a stay-at-home mom for awhile. I volunteered as a board member, writer and editor at both the Auditory-Verbal Center in Atlanta and for Cochlear Implant Association, Inc., for many years. When Jessica was in kindergarten, and I was ready to return to work part-time, I decided that I didn’t want the math anymore. I wanted to do something that I felt was more valuable. So, for the past 5 years I’ve worked for Nonprofit Leadership doing fundraising and development for nonprofits – less money than applied math but definitely more rewarding in other ways. As a bunch of cicircle mothers said a couple of months ago, having a deaf child changes your life, but in some ways it’s for the better. Think of the people it’s brought into our lives.
December 13, 2007 3:03 PM

Anonymous said...
I quit my job the day my son's hearing loss was confirmed with his ABR. In addition to being a mom, I needed to become a hearing loss expert as well. I'm happy to say that a year later we were able to put him in a mainstream preschool. I'm continuing to be a full-time mommy while I make sure both of my kids are getting all the support they need to thrive.
December 13, 2007 6:29 PM

Denice from CA said...
Way cool post...too true, for sure...raising a special needs child changes your life forever...for us, adopting special needs kiddos...I see it as my personal evolution too. Several years ago we adopted Rachel...I felt so isolated, I would drive for hours to connect with other folks...just to get sign language instruction was fast forward 10+ years, times certainly have changed. The adoption folks still call us, but we say no...unless it is " a deaf little girl just for the weekend!" Lol...

It is amazing to me how my daughters have evolved to become caretakers each in their own style ... but with a competence that clearly sets them apart from their peers...this is a magical era we are living in...we, ladies...and gents too...are a part of history in the making...folks connecting and empowering each other across the world...doesn't get much better than this!

Long live the internet!
Denice from CA
December 14, 2007 11:10 AM

Drew's Mom ha detto...
Great post! I had no idea that so many Mom's like me have had ideas to make complete career changes - and have done it!

I would love to stay home with Drew, but that is not practicle (we are in need of health insurance, go figure!).

I have thought about becoming a cochlear implant mapping audi. Maybe that will happen some day...

December 14, 2007 3:23 PM

Karen said... I quit my job when my oldest was four months old. I went back to work full time for two months and realized I just didn't want to miss any more of his life. He was diagnosed two years later with a profound loss. Then I had two more hh kids. I worked part time as a sign instructor and various other jobs but it's been worth it.December 14, 2007 4:52 PM

December 14, 2007 5:13 PM

Lisa said...
It was so hard for me to go back to work after finding out about Brendan's hearing loss. Maternity leave seems so short and there was (and still is) so much for us to learn about hearing loss, therapy, etc.. What if he didn't do well and I hadn't tried everything. Luckily, I have an amazingly dedicated husband and family. Even more luckily, when I was just about to give up after 6 months back at work, another woman asked me if I would be interested in a job share (splitting a full time position in half). I know it's not an option for most people, but working 2 1/2 days a week has saved me. I'm able to spend time with Brendan and not give up all those years of training. Hopefully, with more women (and men) needing flexible options, job shares will become more common.
December 15, 2007 8:46 PM

Friday, December 14, 2007


As Italian tradition has it, we were eating dinner while watching the evening news when the report came on tv that the NY TIMES had posted a front page article blasting Italy. The journalists on tv sliced an open wound and each person interviewed carved the wound deeper, I swear we were wincing as we listened and ate. AND THAT ARTICLE IS 100% TRUTH!
Contrary to a former post, I don't just talk about sex with my friends, every now and then we get intellectual. I'm not exactly the intellectual type, more intuitive, but I'm going to try to explain some of this situation. The article stated:
“It’s a country that has lost a little of its will for the future,” said Walter Veltroni, the mayor of Rome and a possible future center-left prime minister. “There is more fear than hope.”
When the lire changed to the euro prices doubled but salaries did not. People are living on half of what they used to earn monthly and this has people traumatized and desperate. The government did not adequately regulate the introduction of the euro. People are terrified they will not make ends meet, so hell yes, there is fear. Regarding a future, I have never seen such a lack of ambition in a culture, this is the self-destructive force of Italy. The political parties are a joke, they spend so much time arguing and fighting for idealistic causes that the government can never pass a bill. I disregard the political segment of the evening news because after dealing with fighting and bickering preschoolers all day, the thought of watching grown men doing the same is just more than my tired mind can handle.
It's embarassing.
The USA, the land of golden opportunity, a place that guarantees the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness remains the Italian Dream because in the USA opportunities still exist. The saddest part of the article was this:
Doubt clouds the family itself: 70 percent of Italians between 20 and 30 still live at home, condemning the young to an extended and underproductive adolescence. Many of the brightest, like the poorest a century ago, leave Italy.
MEN, MEN, MEN are in their 30s and STILL LIVING WITH THEIR MOTHERS!!!! The high prices of housing, the nonexistent job market, the fact that their Mommies cook, clean and still wipe their asses are all factors. They are lacking ambition, they "work to live," they don't "live to work" like the Americans do...well, just take a look where that mentality has gotten them - smack on the front page of the NY Times. Mothers here are so busy cooking, cleaning the house and smoking cigarettes in their high heels in the local parks that they don't take the time to motivate their kids. A one bedroom, one bath condo costs 125,000 euro and interest rates are 6%. The average Italian salary is 800 euros a month, do the math. I HAVE NEVER SEEN AN "APARTMENTS FOR RENT" COMPLEX IN ITALY!
The public school structures are obscene, falling apart, dungy, depressing with CRUCIFIXES hanging in EVERY CLASSROOM...I'm Jewish, can I complain? A Muslem complained once and the entire country rebelled.
"Let Freedom Ring," "Work Ethic," "For the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave," these ideals are inculcated in our heads and hearts as Americans, we know that we will achieve what we want from life...Italians are insecure, unsure, lacking ambition and DIVIDED, perhaps because of World War II and the fight between Communists and Fascists that still today is waging.
The article mentioned one of my favorite Italians...
“Basta! Basta! Basta!” Beppe Grillo, a 59-year-old comic and blogger with swooping gray hair, howled in an interview. The word means “enough,” and he repeated it to make his point to Italy’s political class clear.
Beppe Grillo exposes fraud like he has done with Telecom the Italian telephone company that charged me 150 euros a month for phone calls to the USA that I now pay 5 euros for thanks to his speech about SKYPE.
On Sept. 8, he...called for a day of rage, to scream across Piazza Maggiore in Bologna an obscenity politely translated as “Take a hike!” (It was called, "Fuck Off Day" and 50,000 people were wearing t-shirts with that slogan)
A few thousand people were expected. But 50,000 jammed into the piazza, and 250,000 signed a petition for changes like term limits and the direct election of lawmakers. (Voters now cast their ballots for parties, which then choose who serves in Parliament, without the voters’ consent.)
The country is messed up, unbelievably beautiful with food to die for, but messed up.
The most tragically true part of all that this article stated,for me, was this:
Italy’s low-tech way of life may enthrall tourists, but Internet use and commerce here are among the lowest in Europe
The internet provides access to information, education, networking possibilities, world-wide interaction, MY YAHOO SUPPORT GROUPS! There are parents of deaf kids in Italy who do not have access to FUNDAMENTAL RESOURCES with the potential of helping their kids. The majority of Italians would not know where to look even if they had the opportunity, they are computer illiterate. I went to the Post Office today, finally mailed my Ci Circle packages because the PO closest to my house has had its computer broken for the past six days and had to explain to the worker how to "scroll down" to speed up the process.
This is a nation with a history of famous sculptors, painters, musicians, architects, engineers, etc. and there is a genetic predisposition for genius. They are just lacking the American mentality needed to motivate this energy. Perhaps the Italian politicians could hit a Friday Happy Hour and discuss all this over a plate of hot wings and a couple of Miller Lites.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I am exploding with unbelievable news today and I don't really know where to begin. First of all, I just read this on the CI CIRCLE:
From our Cochlear rep:

'Consumer Marketing has had the opportunity to work on some great national
television opportunities over the past year.
Our most recent one is an ongoing storyline on the soap opera 'All My Children'.
This week they are scheduled to air episodes that will feature the character of
Spike, a young boy, having implant surgery.
Please tune in to your local ABC affiliate to view these shows on Dec 12, 13 and
14 (see local listings for times).
As part of our partnership with AMC, we've consulted with the show on scripts,
as well as provided product and education to their staff.
Cochlear staff actually went to their studio in New York to help with correct
We are very excited to see these shows air to an audience of 2,926,000 people!
If you are unable to catch the daily soaps, we will be capturing the clips to
share with you.
We are currently working with show producers on other ideas of how we can
partner to spread education and awareness of CIs. "

Spreading Cochlear Implant Awareness by means of media serves to educate the masses so that a friend of a friend can pass the word on to a new mother who may not have otherwise known all of her options. One trend that I have begun noticing is that there is not too much diversity on these yahoo groups, which leads me to believe that not enough parents are being informed of their options or even the support that is available at Early Intervention levels, Pediatricians' or Audiologists' Offices.

The Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle decided to do something about making more information available by creating an International PARENT TO PARENT: COCHLEAR IMPLANTS FOR KIDS BROCHURE. This endeavor, lead by a very informed, educated and active parent, Lydia, together with the Gift of Hearing Foundation has come to fruition!!!! WAFREAKINGHOO!!! This brochure, thanks to the joint effort of 1400 parents who have provided the names of doctors, audiologists, surgeons, ci centers, speech therapists, early intervention programs, etc will be available all over the USA and other English-speaking countries.

Many times mothers of children with disabilities leave their careers, abandoning professions that they spent years of education trying to secure and achieve in order to dedicate their time to helping their children learn to speak using the cochlear implant or hearing aids. What a waste of a good woman...right? WRONG! These are the women who are paving the way for future children, who are sensitive and intelligent enough to recognize their kids' needs and work their asses off to make sure they are met. One of the women on the list this week went to fight the school to make sure her daughter's needs were identified and met...and she is winning. Every battle we win makes us stronger and the system stronger for the next child.

A couple of days ago I re-posted Hailey's video with the Santa Surprise, well Hailey's mom Selena just dropped a bomb on the Listen-Up group:

Once again a member of our family is starting a new journey in her life,
however this time it's not Hailey. It is however a journey that will greatly
affect Hailey.
I am glad to announce that I am now the newest student at Bethel College's
School of Arts and Sciences. I'll be working towards my B.A. in Sign Language
Interpretation. Of course after not being in school for almost 11 yrs now, I'm scared
wittless. However I feel blessed with an awesome support system(hint hint, momma
bear). Even though I know it won't always be easy, I'm confident that I will do
well. While I won't actually be able to start ASL classes till the fall(ASL 1 isn't
offered in the spring), Jan 16th will be my fist day of class. I'm going to work
at getting some of my General Studies out of the way.
Anyway, Just thought I'd share.

Education is an ongoing process and we learn from our children every single day. Selene is an inspiration for every mother out there who has deviated her path to fight for her child...POWER TO THE MOMMIES, LADIES!

Paula Rosenthal, J.D. is married and has three children. She, her husband and daughter are all hearing impaired. Her sons have normal hearing. A law school graduate, Paula is the publisher of, an online community for people with hearing loss, parents of deaf and hard of hearing children and professionals. She is also a writer and speaker on hearing loss and related issues. To contact her, send an email to READ HER 5 Tips to Help Your Deaf or Hard of Hearing Child Enjoy the Holidaysby Paula Rosenthal, J.D. I AM SURE YOU WILL FIND IT EXTREMELY USEFUL

Now, just to remind everyone why we are working so hard to create's the latest from Val, co-owner of the support group learn2hear and her daughter Brooke, one of our beloved Cochlear Kids!!!

LATE ENTRY: ANOTHER AMAZING WOMAN/MOTHER...CHECK OUT RACHEL'S BLOG OF SIGNING TIME:The Signing Time Foundation has partnered with Signs of Hope International to bring Signing Time to Ghana Africa.I

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Last night, just before the end of my last lesson, my husband decides to tell me that there is a GAS STRIKE in effect. The tractor trailer union declared a strike to negotiate the workers' contracts, so NO tractor trailers are running, which means NO FREAKIN' GAS!!! Thank goodness I had decided to fill some of my tank yesterday morning or I would have been in really bad shape! Luca said there were lines and lines of cars storming the gas stations to squeeze out the last litre of gas. This morning I stopped by Pietro's gas station. Keep in mind Pietro is the seventy-five year old man with the black fingernails who keeps his gas station open even on Sundays when it's illegal to do so, and I was figuring that if anyone had a hidden surplus of gas, it would be him. Well, I was right and I managed to top off my tank with FIVE EUROS OF GAS!!! I was RATIONED!!! WHAT THE HELL IS THIS PLACE???? So now I have to pray that my tank lasts until this strike ends, keeping in mind that once the strike ends, it will take two days to get the trucks back up and running...Just reflect for one moment what your life would be like without the gas to fill your car that TAKES YOU EVERYWHERE!!! Bring in the scrubs! ONLY IN ITALY!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007



Aside from an incredible email that I received from Sharon, Hailey's mom Selena just made my morning when I read her post on Listen-up so I had to share it with everyone who may happen upon this blog...

I just had to share with this group about Hailey's Surprise Phone call from
Santa. We were totally caught off guard. Here's the story.

My older sister and her husband traveled to Baltimore, MD to meet with a
company that is trying to hire him. Anyway, while there they decided to vist a
gentleman who grew up in their church, and who now attends Gallaudet. So they
hopped the train and met him in DC. While they were visiting with him my mother
called my sister via cell phone because she is watching their two younger boys
and had a question about one of the boys. I've been watching their oldest son.
While on the phone my mom asked if they had called C(my nephew) yet that day. My
sister said no and my mom told her that when you do, call this number and talk to
Hailey, she'll really enjoy it. So my mom gave my sister all the info she needed
to call Hailey on the VP (VIDEO PHONE). When my sister got off the phone the gentleman asked her what had taken so long, so she explained that my mom had given her the info to contact Hailey via the VP. Here's where it gets fun! The gentleman (his name is Tom btw) smiled and told my sister "Oh we have those, I use it all the time when I call home, do you want to come back to my place and call Hailey VP to VP? My sister was like yeah that would be really cool, she'd really enjoy that. So they all got in Tom's car and headed over to his place to make the call.

While talking in the car it came up that Tom has been volunteering his time dressing up like Santa and visting preschools in the area. I'm sure you can put two and two together.

Yesterday afternoon Hailey recived a VP to VP call directly from who other then, SANTA CLAUS! She's over the moon. "Santa Claus just like me mommy! Santa talk with
his hands!"
The best part is that my sister shared information with Tom about Hailey that only the family would know, so it was really personal.

Our family has gone through some really tough stuff the past few months and
when bad stuff happens around this time of the year it's hard to see the joy of
the season. My sister and I haven't always been on the best of terms, and for
her to take the time to do something so special for Hailey, means the world to
me. It's great that at a time of the year where we get so busy and forget the
true meaning of the season, that one little thing like this can change your
whole perspective. I don't think there is a thing in this world that I could do
to pay her back for what she gave to Hailey. She gave Hailey the one thing that
I haven't been able to when it comes to all the childhood Christmas experiances,
she gave her the chance to talk to Santa, her way, without an Interp!
Once again I'm reminded of just how great my family truly is, even if I don't
see it everyday. And I'm grateful to once again be able to enjoy the Christmas
Season. IF you do nothing else today, please, let your family know just how much
they mean to you.

Thanks for reading my long post. My tears of joy and I will go now.


Monday, December 10, 2007


Jordan and I have a lot in common aside from the fact that he's my boy. We both reside in Tweenersville. He will always live in the land between the hearing and the deaf and I now find myself between Italy and the USA. He isn't totally hearing nor totally deaf and after living in Grosseto for eleven years, I can't call myself totally American or completely Italian. When I go back to Baltimore there are things that drive me crazy and the same goes for living here; since I'm an optimist by nature, I try to concentrate on and live the best parts of both worlds.
Grosseto is the perfect place to raise a child like Jordan. The crime rate is almost non-existent, my kids play in the street outside my house until way past dark and I feel safe letting them do so. The public school system works well enough so I don't have to worry about which private school to send him to or in which neighborhood to live. There is NO competition between parents about who does what at what level or what achievement test their kids excelled in or "Oh, really that's what he scored, I'm sure he'll do better next time." I have been able to raise Jordan at his own speed and revel in his successes without that competition pressure beating down on me.
It also helped that I didn't give a shit what people thought of me as I screamed and repeated words, vocabulary, lessons, teaching moments and disciplined my child through the streets of Grosseto in broken Italian as people stared at me. Our language issues isolated both of us and we worked through them together, somehow managing to create our own communication mechanism. We understand each other telepathically. His favorite expression is, "you're not a normal Mamma!"
Normal is so boring...what is "normal?" I can tell you what is not "normal." When my mother-in-law and Luca's cousins came in for our wedding, I took them out for a manicure and a lunch with just the "girls." We went to Donna's,only now I can appreciate the irony because "donna" in Italian means "woman" in English. They looked at me and told me that was the first time they had ever "eaten out" for lunch, much less just with "the girls!" I remember thinking, "What the hell am I getting myself into?"
Living here is completely different than life in the States. There are no "girls' lunches out," instead I eat every lunch with my son or family at home and I feel my family on another level. Coming from a divorced family, we rarely had "family meals" and I used to love eating dinner at my friend Susan's house because her mom was an unbelievable cook and ALWAYS had family meals. I guess that inner child in me longed to feel part of a united family in all aspects. Jay, my blast from the past sent me an email two weeks ago and this is what he wrote:
Is there anything in the world that compares to marriage and parenthood? When it comes down to it, don't you and I each really have it all?
My first thought was, "What an amazing guy he has become!" My second thought was, "He is seriously whipped!":) And my third thought was- when my romantic side took over my evil other half, keeping in mind that I saw ENCHANTED for the first time yesterday and have the major hots for Patrick Dempsey along with the other desperate housewives of Italy- do we really ever completely appreciate all that we have while we have it? Can I really "have it all" when half of my family is in the USA? Will Jordan ever really have it all in TWEENERSVILLE? We're both working on it.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Cochlear implants give our children the opportunity to express themselves and communicate effectively in mainstream society. I had never seen such a blow-me-away example as when Glen and Gabrielle posted Max's video on the Ci Circle. When I asked Glen, Max's dad, for permission to post the remarkable video of his son speaking, he requested that I post it in link form as opposed to directly blogging the youtube video. Max's video is on the League for the Hard of Hearing homepage along with a letter from his parents:

Dear Friends of the League,
Four years ago, at the age of fourteen months, our son Max was diagnosed as profoundly deaf. We were devastated when we realized that Max had never heard us sing him a lullaby or even tell him we loved him. We didn’t know if he would ever be able to talk or go to school—we were afraid what the future would bring.
Thankfully, we found the League for the Hard of Hearing, and our world took a
dramatic turn for the better. From the minute we walked in the door at the League, we
knew we were in the right place. The League offered the emotional support we so desperately needed as well as the critical information to guide Max’s future. Max received hearing aids and began speech therapy at the League and received a cochlear implant shortly thereafter.
Today, at age 5, his speech is beautiful and he is thriving in a mainstream Kindergarten classroom. It’s clear his future will have no limits. Last year, our younger son, Rex, was also born deaf. This time around, thanks to the League,
we were able to envision Rex’s future with confidence. We could look to his big brother Max and know that with the League’s help, Rex would learn how to talk and to listen. Rex began services at the League when he was only five weeks old, and now, at 20 months, his speech and language are right where they should be!
For almost 100 years, the League has been a leader in providing the finest, most
comprehensive services not only to children, but also to adults with hearing loss, regardless of their ability to pay. If you or a loved one has a hearing loss, you too can turn to the League for help.

The following are the two locations listed on the website:
League for the Hard of Hearing
50 Broadway, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Phone: 917-305-7700 (Voice)
917-305-7999 (TTY)
917-305-7888 (Fax)

League for the Hard of Hearing - Florida
2800 W. Oakland Park Blvd, Suite 306
Oakland Park, FL 33311
Phone: 954-731-7200 (Voice)
954-731-7208 (TTY)
954-485-6336 (Fax)

There was also an excellent interview done at the League for the Hard of Hearing that had to do with the storyline being run on All My Children:
In the News
The League on Television
All My Children star Alicia Minshew plays the role of Kendall, a mother who recently discovered that her baby on the show, Spike, became deaf after a car accident. Alicia visited the League for the Hard of Hearing to observe children with hearing loss in therapy and talk to parents about their experiences. Alicia also spent time learning about cochlear implants, the impact of hearing loss on communication and what it is like to live with a hearing loss. The League applauds Alicia and All My Children for their commitment addressing such an important issue on the show. At this time, not all website videos are captioned. All My Children has, however, made the transcript of this video pod cast available. Click here for a transcript of Alicia's Video Pod Cast.
Click here to view the podcast. To find video, scroll down on the page to the daytime videos and click on the first one there that is labeled Episode 27. As soon as you do that, scroll back up to the top of the page and you'll see the video playing.

I love that Glen asked me to post the link and not the video directly, because I know what it means to have the need to thank the people who have played a fundamental role in helping your child find his please visit the League for the Hard of Hearing website...there is a lot going on there and it all looks good!

Friday, December 7, 2007


We had a special guest appearance by Jim (who describes himself as a beer-guzzling, couch potato) this week on the Pediatric Cochlear Implant's amazing what a shot of testosterone can do to a support group made up of predominantly women undoubtedly in a period of their lives where they're "Bringin' Sexy Back!" I swear some of the generally calm, wise and stoic support moms were GIDDY! And I finally gathered the courage to approach the topic of "SEX" on the group where in the eight months that I have been a proud member, never once has the word been uttered, except in reference to gender. I mean do you ever go out with your girlfriends and not talk about sex, kids, the latest town gossip, what you're cooking for dinner and sex? (Note:not sure if this is an Italian housewife thing, but the majority of the conversations women have while waiting to pick up their kids from school is about what they have ALREADY PREPARED for lunch!!! This alone should have been an indication for me to pack my bags and run to the closest airport, unfortunately, I didn't know Italian well enough in the beginning to understand that life here revolves around the pasta sauce of the day. Here I am and here I will stay.)(Note #2: The majority of people wash their clothes in a washing machine and then hang them dry...I told my husband I wasn't comin' unless there was a dishwasher and a dryer in the house!)
I'm totally digressing! The point of all this was supposed to be Jim's post. His was a reply to what I wrote in the last blog about what Jordan's Math teacher said to me about backing off. Jim wrote...

Jodi - you can say whatever you want (this was in reference to the word SEX). What are we going to do to you - visit you in freakin' Tuscany to complain??? (Wait -what a great idea...!)

The most important thing, though, is the "letting go" comment. That's the
thing that parents, regardless of a child's disability, constantly struggle
with. Testosterone-poisoned partners usually have a different level of
tolerance than the other one... I don't want to go into a huge monologue, so
I won't, but kids need to have the freedom to fail (make mistakes), as well
as the opportunity to problem-solve. It's a hard juggling act to separate
what's needed at school, for example, and what's the best, in the long run,
for the child.

Mom-speak: "Driveway is icy. Kid, stay in the car, I'm going to go get some
salt and tell Daddy to carry you in so you won't fall and hurt yourself."
Dad-speak: "Driveway is icy. Be careful. Don't fall and break your ass."
Kid-speak: "Oh, can I ice-skate? Will you hold my hand so I won't
break my ass?"

True report from yesterday. SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) gave me hell,
but we skated safely to the door. Probably something in between the extremes
is the best answer!

(At work most every day, college students come in to see academic advisers
with their parents, who make all the course decisions for the students.
Wassup wit dat?? I expect my son to be able to make decisions and to deal
with his deafness from a position of strength - himself - when he's grown.)



Gotta love a man who calls his wife SWMBO! Then, just now, he added another touch of genius in his own poetic way:

As a dad, the best I can hope to do is to give my son a bat and a pair of
balls, point him at the plate, and get the hell out of his way so he can
take his cuts.

We all know I'm a baseball fan!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Daily Grind...

I have to share this to give you an idea of what teaching English in Italy is like...Yesterday, I had a lesson with a fourteen year old in his first year of a high school specializing in languages, and this kid speaks pretty good English. We were working on the verb "to have to" and I must have said something like "Tell me some things you have to do each day." His response..."I have to wash my thing." What he meant to say was, "I have to brush my teeth," but the verb combination and the difficulty Italians have with saying the word "teeth" created this response and I swear twenty minutes later the tears were still streaming, I couldn't breathe.
I hear a different one every day because I teach kids of all ages and even have a Colonel who comes for conversation. The Colonel is interesting, because he is always asking me technical questions on grammar and despite having graduated with a degree in English Language and Literature and having received a teaching certificate to teach 5th-12th grades, I don't know the answers to his questions! I just know that's how to say it, not how to explain it. Basically, in addition to learning Italian, I'm also getting an education on the English Language Rules of Grammar..the ironies of life.

This morning I had a meeting with Jordan's support teacher and his Math that woman! I almost passed out on the spot when she said these words to me, "You need to not help Jordan with his homework. He receives so much help at home that he's not asking questions in class or paying attention, because he knows that you will just help him at home if he doesn't understand something." Now this is a teacher who I will call PROFESSOR any day! Math is one of the subjects where he can do his homework alone because his areas of difficulty have more to do with subjects involving a large amount of vocabulary. We usually help him with the word problems, but the point she was making was far greater than just a homework issue. She was telling me to let him go and grow. According to her, Jordan was intelligent enough and at the appropriate level enough to make mistakes like the rest of the class, and she was ready to help him, help himself. Part of growing stronger and becoming independent is learning to recognize our own weaknesses and asking for help to resolve them. She believes in my son...what an amazing parent-teacher conference.
Then, on my way out of the school, I ran into the French teacher (he's like 60, bald, got yellowy teeth and dresses kind of like Mr. Rogers) who made some intense eye contact with me and said, "Oh, Bonjour Madame, I noticed that Jordan was very busy writing during the French test this morning." I smiled and said, "Oh, that's wonderful, let's hope for the best!" He smiled back at me, nodded his head and went on his way...he digs me. Let's hope so, because French is just not one of our stronger subjects...
Now, I just wanted to add this link to a beautiful video of the song
Waiting on the World to Change that Christina posted on her blog as did Mom to Toes, because I loved it as much as they did and thought I'd share it with anyone reading this blog. To deactivate the music, click the stop button on the right.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


I've decided I'm gonna go there...and if what I'm about to say does not apply to you as a woman, then just let it go in one ear and out the next...(pun intended). Brace yourselves...
I was raised on this little poem here:

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails
That's what little boys are made of !"
What are little girls made of?
"Sugar and spice and all things nice
That's what little girls are made of!"

What they don't tell you is that when you have a child with a disability, the little girl gets lost and you become unisex...a militant general ready to fight for your child, a teacher intent on making life one big, constant lesson, a slave of the home and the washing machine, and just becomes one more more demand to satisfy.
Our most intimate part becomes a traffic tunnel and what our husbands, oftentimes-because we all know they are from Mars- don't realize is that that lower region is connected to our minds and hearts. When all we have in our mind is the fact that our child needs to learn to say the "S" sound or the teacher called and he is disrupting the class, or he still hasn't learned to poop in the potty, and our hearts are broken because our kids are frustrated and unable to communicate...there just ain't a lot of koochy in the hoochie.
So, many times in our depression, we turn to sugar, perhaps to regain some of that "sugah," and we get fat and more depressed, because we are women and our moods are oftentimes a reflection of our weight.
This is where the true role of the husband comes into play. How many times do we yell at our husbands because they don't understand what our kids are trying to say; when they have no clue what they are working on in speech therapy and they let a teaching moment go by? How aggravating is it when they don't get that your child needs discipline and not a video game to keep him quiet? Yet, how wonderful is it when you are so tired, stressed out and frustrated after a long day of speech therapy lessons, cooking, cleaning and working, when your husband looks at you like the desirable woman he met twenty years ago, still sees you like he did when he first met you, gives you a long passionate kiss and says, "You look like you could use a massage, roll over?!"
FEMALE REACTION: SPICE...(to be continued)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


(pix on the way, still having server issues)
When Davey originally posted her concern to the Circle, one of the Moms posted her own experience:

Jen wrote: "After my son's second surgery he had some "bumps" like these but they were NOT the size of grapes. HOLY MOLY! His were the size of small extra small
peas... maybe the top of an eraser?

It turned out he has an allergy to the suters they use under the skin ... a month
after the surgery his body started to reject them. the infections were all at
the skin level thank goodness and did not spread into the head/ear where the
implant was.

DEFINITELY keep an eye on it ... maybe even take your child in and have the
doctor look at it to be sure it's nothing serious...

When I wrote Jen to ask her if it was okay that I post her response, once again for informational purposes, she replied:

"There is a distinct difference between a hypochondriac mom who rushes to the doctor or emergency room every time their child sneezes and a mom who KNOWS when there is something wrong."

Davey sent me three pix of Maya and since as you can see she is just adorable in all three, I've posted all of them. Davey also replied with the following update:

Hi again,
Maya was born 11/29/05. Maya failed her newborn hearing screening and was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss a week later. My husband and I decided to have her genetic testing done. She tested positive for connexin 26. She was implanted in her right ear in December of '06 with AB. Our insurance finally decided they would cover bilateral last May and we scheduled surgery for a week later. She was, and still is, the youngest bilateral patient that our clinic has done.
She has done wonderfully! She has had no other complications or problems. She is talking up a storm. If I had to guess I would say that she has well over 100 words in her vocabulary. We go twice a month to a pre-school focus group through our local ESD and we go twice a month to her audi for speech therapy.
When Maya was tested in the booth last month she tested a little over 20 decibles in both ears. She had just learned how to play the listening game (you know...hear a sound, drop something in a bucket) and was loving it! I think the results were pretty accurate.
This was the first, that we know of, ear infection that she has ever had. She is a very healthy, active kid who loves to smile and shine her beautiful blue eyes! She loves to play with puzzles and color. She also has some great dance moves.
We went back to the hospital today and they took the drain tube out from the inscision and said everything looked good. We just have to continue with the iv antibiotics for the next couple of weeks.
This was probably a lot more info than you wanted, but you know how easy it is to talk about your kid! :)
Thanks for showing interest and putting all of your wonderful information out there for others to learn from!

Once again, the road is rewarding, beautiful and emotional, but it is NEVER without bumps.

Monday, December 3, 2007


Today after reading a Mom's post on Ci Circle, I thought it would be important to share this situation with anyone reading this blog who is not a member of the yahoo group. I contacted the mom, who is in the middle of the crisis, yet appears calm and she said, "Yes, by all means go ahead and share the story! I want to help inform as many parents as possible." What a woman! Even in the midst of a dramatic event, her first thought is to help the next. I'm still waiting on a photo of her daughter, but as you'll see, she has her hands full right now...
Hi there everyone!
I was fixing my daughter's hair this morning and noticed that she
has a bump that is the size of a small grape at one of her incision
sites. It is like a large blister. It is squishy like a blister
too. The bump is not red, but the skin all around it is.
I called the surgeon's office and explained it to them. They told me
to just watch it and if it changes to let them know. The thing that
is strange to me is that she had surgery on this ear back in May.
That seems like a long time to go by and just now having something
happen to it. She does not regularly wear her BTE (behind the ear processor)
on this ear. She typically has the body worn processor. The only time she does have
the BTE on is when she is getting ready for bed.

Has anyone else ever had this experience? Any suggestions?
I have to brag a bit while I am at it!!! Today is my little girl's second
birthday. If you ask her how old she is she without skipping a beat
will say two and hold up two fingers. She counts to ten by herself.
Last night she was counting the number of balloons in a picture
(with her CI's off) and counted to ten on her own with no prompting.
I guess I still think this is pretty amazing for a deaf kiddo! :)



Hi there,
I wrote last week and mentioned that I noticed a bump at my
daughter's inscision site. This particular ci surgery was back in
May of this year. My daughter, showed no signs of fever,
discomfort, etc.

I called my surgeon's office and talked to the nurse and she had no
idea what to say. I was not impressed at all with the amount of help
given. She made me an appt. for the 14!!!

The next day (last Friday) I decided to have my local doc take a
look. He looked at it for about 5 seconds and asked for the
surgeon's name. He went and called immediately. He was back in less
than 5 min. and said that I shouldn't take time to go home I just
needed to head up to see my surgeon. I was frantic! How bad could it
be for me to rush to see my surgeon??? I called my husband and he
met me and we took off for the hour long ride. I don't think I
calmed down the whole way there.

My surgeon took one look and said that she had an absess and she
would need surgery that day. We immediately checked into the
hospital and they did surgery to drain the bump. The main concern
was the bacteria. They wanted to know what type it was and how far
it had spread.

Making my long story a little shorter, we just got home...two days
later. It turned out that the bacteria was nothing too harmful and
it didn't get to the implant. She has a tube where the bump was to
drain for the next couple of days. She also had a semi-permanent iv
put in and we have to put in antibiotics in once a day through this
iv tube. A nurse is coming in the morning to train me. The
infectious disease control lady told us that we would do an overkill
with the antibiotics just to be on the safe side.

The doctors thought that if we wouldn't have brought her in on
Friday she would have had a horrible temp and be extremely sick by
this time.

The doctor said that this was pretty rare. He did have one other
similar case about a month ago and before that it had been nine

The hospital is not a fun place to spend the weekend! It isn't cheap

We as parents know our children BETTER than the doctors, and yet oftentimes we are afraid to "bother" them with something that might not be considered valid in their eyes. I've been very lucky here in Italy to have found doctors and professionals who make me feel that it is okay to call if I feel nervous or concerned about any aspect of Jordan's implant. We trust these doctors with our kids, no easy task, yet we are afraid to disturb them...I hope this post will make another mother think twice before being worried about disturbing a physician.