Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Best Part of "Fighting" is...

Hold onto your pants cause this post is going to be loooooooong! Had a really surprising dream last, I've been in a spectacular mood all day. Mishka's Mom Post left me feeling nostalgic and sad - my prayers are with her and her mom, how ironic that both of my parents checked in after yesterday's blog. My dad said, "I told you so a while back that capital letters means you're yelling!" (When have I ever listened to my dad?) And my mom, finally read the post where I say I've been neglecting my children, so she slammed hard with a "You are a blogging slut! Get off the computer and go spend some time with your suffering children who love you and need you..." (Can't say I've ever really listened to my mom, either.) So, here I go:

A. SlackinPenguin left me a power comment on yesterday's post that I wanted to's all about comprehension and openmindedness:

Hi Jodi,

I'm deaf, but I am also one who has declined the CI because I had already had a lifetime of using the hearing aid and I was comfortable with it.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that just like every other known group of people out there, the deaf community has its extremists. Islam has theirs who are bent on subjugating the world to Islam. The Christians have theirs who are bent on taking freedom away from women who want the option of abortion. Then the deaf community has theirs who are bent on making sure that every hearing parent out there follows their rules when it comes to raising deaf children.

When you're dealing with these extremists, always remember that the majority of the community from whence they came don't think and believe the same things the extremists are spouting. Rest assured that for every extremist you encounter, there are probably ten or more non-extremists. It doesn't seem that way because the extremists are the ones who make the most noise.

The one common theme amongst the extremists of the world is the use of propaganda heavily sprinkled with negative connotations in order to paint their opponents as being bad or evil. The Islamic extremists use words like "immorality" to paint the pro-freedom people as being evil. The Christian extremists use the word "murderers" to paint the pro-choice people as being evil. The deaf extremists use words like "fix" to paint the pro-choice people as being evil with intentions of destroying the deaf world.

I understand you're a parent of a deaf child and I understand that you've gone through a tough time making the best, informed decisions you could regarding your deaf child. I'm a parent too, though both my children are hearing, I can empathize with your situation as I've had to make tough decisions regarding my children too. I can tell from reading your blog that you're an intelligent and caring woman so I'm sure that you are a parent who wants nothing but the best for her child and I know you've gone to extreme lengths to be sure that you made an informed decision. I, for one, admire you for your strength and ability to stand up to the extremists and say "I made the choice for my child that I felt was best for my child". Good for you!

Bottom line? Yes, there are deaf people who support you. Yes, there are deaf people who believe you have the freedom to raise your children in a manner you feel is best. Yes, there are deaf people who will welcome you and your deaf children in the deaf world regardless of the choices you make.

You've got a supporter and a friend in me, a deaf man who chose not to use the CI, but knows that others may find the CI useful.

Chin up, smile, and be proud.

January 30, 2008 12:12 PM

Then, 194 comments later on Mishka's blog, John and K.L. started making love and the beautiful comments ended with this...

But give the parents of deaf children and CI kids some credit– they are not totally oblivious to a deaf child’s needs. They are confronting deafness in their own child and doing the best they know how. At least they have some understanding about deafness, if not directly themselves but thru their deaf child’s interaction with the world, that’s better than the majority of hearing people out there. Do we want them as our hearing allies or as our usual enemies? So, yes, reaction is something we need to consider when speaking with these parents.
(Anyone for a threesome??) I think Mishka can be damn proud of where her concerns led...

And then, there was comment number 148 by Sharon R.:
I, myself, don’t like Jodi at all. She is like a snake with two tongues
*Paotie...would you date a woman with two tongues?*

B.SEE THIS: A Girl Sent my Son a Text Message:) is part 2.
I took an hour off to escape from myself and go to the gym. LIVE, LIVE, LIVE (SCREAMING HERE) FOR PILATES! Pilates relaxes the brain and teaches you to breathe while working abs, butt, legs, arms, everything, it is a liberating experience and I swear I had no idea my body could even get itself in some of those positions. My class is hysterical, a mix of all ages and body types. There are three men who take the class and one of these men was a major topic of conversation at our New Year's Eve party this year. Do men in the USA still wear spandex shorts? Does this give you ANY clue of what I have to look at during every class??? I have never seen such a package in my life!! Highly distracting for a frustrated mother trying to lose some ass and free the mind. Anyway, there is a point to all this. When I turned my cell phone back on after my class, I heard the bling bling of a new message. I faaalip open the phone and there it is...message number 2 from Martina (tramp)for Jordan:
Hi, Jordan - I'm Marty. I can't come to school tomorrow because I still have a cough and Dad and Mom say that I have to stay home another day. I don't really agree with this but (she inserted two BIG smiles here). I hope to be back in school on Friday. Wait for me! (note the exclamation point) Your friend, Marty. PS. Now my mom has a fever, too.
Aha! She has now slyly gone from Martina to Marty...yeah, she's workin' my boy.
Jordan's reaction: shy grin..."Mom, you write her back!" Oh, no, my boy - this one's all yours...
Jordan's response:
Marty, I hope you get well soon, so we can see each other on Friday. Our teacher assigned us Math groups and we're in the same group, we missed you. Bye from Jordan (he added a smile with its tongue sticking out) Hope your mom feels better.

When I posted this on the Ci Circle (HAPPY TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!)one of the moms replied that I should get him his own cell phone...My response:
He has his own cell phone! *wink*

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

You "FIX" a Dog or a Car...not a Deaf Child

I think Mishka and I may have just had our first lovers' spat. I dig Mishka and her commitment to trying to figure something out in this whole mess of differing opinions, suffering souls, passionate voices, and a long, strong tradition of community loving. I don't care where she stands in regard to acceptance of the Cochlear Implant, it's all about awareness for me. As I've said before, I am here to share. Mishka, for a series of motives believed that I attacked her in this part of yesterday's blog:

Yes, I was pissed off, but not at Mishka, at the continued use of the word "FIX" by certain members of the Deaf community in conjunction with the cochlear implant implying that a parent sees a defect in his or her child and feels the need to fix it. My child is just perfect the way he is, sensitive, stubborn, annoying as hell, intelligent, hormonal, "hearing" and deaf. Actually, if I could "fix" something about him, the deafness would not be the first thing:) I would choose. Honestly, I don't think I would want to change anything about him, because every moment is a new discovery. His deafness is what makes him special, his ability to hear and communicate in a world where the majority of the people are hearing enables more people to learn about, celebrate and share in his life.

Comment left by me on Mishka's Blog at midnight my time, need I say how damned tired I am today...
I DID NOT realize that you took my words as an attack on you. First of all, when I put words in all caps it’s not to scream, it’s to make them bolder and emphasize a point I am trying to make. I have no reason to scream at anyone, especially you, you left the nicest congratulations message about the book the other day. What in my behavior towards you could have ever made you think I was screaming??? I cited your post there because it was relevant to the adopted parents aspect of the post and you had blogged about that AND reused the word Fixed that drives me crazy for all of the above reasons. What in my past blogging behavior would have ever caused you to think that I was personally attacking you? That post had nothing to do with you, it was about looking at the parents’ choice to give back their deaf baby and yes, the kicker here and the point of that comment I made was that this family gave back their deaf child, and the Deaf Community reacts as a collective. I chose to implant my son and the Deaf Community considers that I am trying to “fix” something that is broken…way too easy to vilify instead of comprehend. You were just another member to use the word…why did you take it so personally? Jodi

Hmmm. Why did Mishka take that comment so personally? I have been reading her blogs the past four weeks and she has been taking a lot of heat from all sides. Mishka, you will get no heat from me, I'm just sitting back and observing.

Words are powerful, we play with them and people on a daily basis...just check out Paotie - live for him. Be very careful with a word like "FIX," because the Deaf Community blew away the denotative significance of the word, and now it is all about the connotative meaning that I perceive as an unfounded accusation. I perceive this, as do other hearing you can see in the 140+ comments left on Mishka's blog. We are here and we are listening...are YOU?

I loved Paula's blog in response to all of this...thank you, Paula
I loved KP's comment left on Mishka's blog:

I would love to be able to immerse my son with other deaf people; however, I don’t live in an area where there are a lot of deaf people, the deaf community is over two hours away. I’m also afraid to reach out, because of some of the militant anti-CI deaf people. I am afraid they will call me a Nazi and tell me that I should hang for my choices with my son. I am afraid that they will make comments such as my son is a robot, has a hole in his head, a chip in his brain, can’t play sports, can’t get on a plane, can’t go swimming, in front of him and none of those things are true and would hurt him as well. I don’t want to willingly put myself and my son out there to be lashed at. I realize that not all deaf people think this way and will not act unkind to us, but it is the ones who will that deter me from even reaching out. I had someone berate me for choosing to implant my son, told me that I should send him to the residential deaf school two hours away. What? I can’t do that, God gave him to me, I want him with me. Is it selfish, yes it is. I want him to live with me, I want to talk to him about school everyday, help him with his homework, attend sport activities with him, I want to pray with him, read to him, play with him. I want to be with my son. I don’t want to send him away 5 days a week and see him on weekends and holidays. I want him to go to the same school as my daughter and his cousins. I want him to be able to go to our church’s youth activities. I want him to have the same opportunities as my daughter even though he is deaf; which is growing up with us, his family. I don’t want him to think that I was ashamed of his deafness and sent him away to live with the deaf. If the CI can make it possible for him to stay with me and it works for our family why can’t people embrace my decision for my child? Why can’t they accept it and say, “Well, that certainly isn’t what I would have chosen but I’m glad that it works for their family” and be kind and teach us about the deaf culture. If the anti-CI militants spout hate what’s going to make my son want to join the deaf community? Why can’t he be a bridge between the deaf and hearing? My son will most likely be ostracized by some hearing people as well because he is deaf and has an implant. They just won’t get it, he’s different and that will be enough for them to make fun of him.

As a mother; and any mother, deaf or hearing will know exactly what I’m talking about here, I can work up enough things to feel guilty over, to feel bad about, to make me feel like a bad mother. I don’t need someone pointing a finger at me and telling me how bad I am for just wanting to give my son the best opportunity to be with me and his family and enjoy the same opportunities as my hearing child. Every single person has been made fun of and kicked for one reason or another, people can be cruel, but that is all the more reason we should be kind and embrace one another. Because we all know how it feels and we all just want to be accepted for who we are.

So in all of that, if you want to say “fix” then by all means go ahead. But I do not agree, if my son’s hearing was “fixed” he would be able to hear with no processors or AVT. He would have come out of the surgery and said, “Hey mom, I can hear and I love you too.” But he didn’t. I had to wait until he got his assistive listening device, the processor and coil. Now I’m enjoying watching him get caught up in speech and language, hearing him come up with new words, being able to tell me hurt and hot, but by no means has his hearing been “fixed”.

Melissa rocked and wrote:

As a hearing parent of two children with bilateral CIs, I don’t think it’s the word so much as the phrase. I didn’t fix my children. The hair cells in their cochlea were missing and/or damaged, and so I gave them a prosthesis for them. In that sense, I “fixed” their hearing, although, as Jodi said, the CI alone didn’t do it. It took A-V therapy as well. My younger daughter had knock knees. She had surgery to correct them. We certainly fixed her knees. I guess I just don’t have a big objection to the words “fix” and “improve” as long as they are applied correctly. I love my children and wouldn’t change who they are as people at all, but if there is something wrong with them physically in the future that can be fixed or improved, we’ll fix it. Saying that in no way implies that I want to fix my children, which has a much more all encompassing meaning to me.

BTW, if one person in the Deaf community re-thinks using the word "FIX" when referring to a mother's choice to implant her child, this blog will have served its purpose.

PS. Hot news of the day...I was reading "BROWN BEAR" to my preschool beasts when the little ding of a text message sounded amidst the miraculous silence. I flipped open my cell phone and saw the words "THE END"...yeah, that was my friend and translator Rosy telling me that she had just completed the Italian translation of RALLY CAPS. Flying!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Oh my gosh, I'm sitting here in a pair of tights, a sweater and a turtleneck - have got to get in the shower...Jordan will kill me when he reads these one day, but for now...what he doesn't know...I was working on the computer about two hours ago when my cell phone blinged - text message. I went to see who it was and dropped the phone when I saw it was for Jordan. The kids' parents in the class have my cell as a contact number, so this chick was sending me a message for Jordan. This is what the little message said:
For Jordan from Marty (Marty is Martina):
How are you? I've had a high fever for the past three days, but today I'm better. If all goes well, I'll be back in school on Thursday. Say hi to your mom. See you soon. Your friend, Martina.

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! Yeah, she wants him. How sweet is that? My little boy just got his first text message from a girl. This girl is adorable! She plays the guitar, too, and she really rocks. Actually, I think the only thing hotter than a guy who plays the guitar, is a girl who plays the guitar...I do not play the guitar. She is one of the girls who sits next to him in class and always helps him copy homework. She even called one day to make sure he had copied the French homework because she had forgotten to copy it and was WORRIED about him. He had copied it, but how nice was that?
Jordan wanted me to lay down with him before he went to sleep, and the first thing he said was, "Hahaha. Martina sent me a message, my first message from a girl." (dying, so adorable)Now the only problem is that he has a heart with the letter "S" for Sara shaved above his ear. I told him he'd have to change the "S" to an "M". He said, "No way!"

His response to Martina's message:
Dear Martina,
Thank you for sending me a message. A really scary thing happened at school today! Come back soon! See you Thursday, Jordan.

I was like, Jordan, what scary thing happened at school? He said, "Nothing! Just made it up to mess with her." My son has a

Did the Lynched Parents Receive Adequate Support?

I'm sitting here listening to my relax mix on my iPod, so I'm especially sensitive for this good morning wake up call having to do with the parents who gave their adopted child back because she was deaf and not a candidate for the cochlear implant. I read about this on listen-up, as well, and must admit I've been kind of chewing around about it for days. I refuse to see the parents' decision to return the child to the adoption agency as a defect in regard to the child, rather as a failure on the part of the parents and the system. Not all men and women are created alike, not all have that inner strength to overcome obstacles that challenge us on a daily basis.
I remember the first two years of Jordan's life when he woke up six times a night every single night and I had to do the pace back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. I consider myself a pretty rational person (in general)but there were times when I lost it and for a second could imagine and almost understand how some people abuse their children. I mean I'm an educated, intelligent person who got pregnant before getting married and CHOSE to have my baby. What about all of those teenagers who get pregnant because it's in-style, how the hell do they deal with a baby who doesn't sleep at night?
If you are IGNORANT, INSECURE, SMALL IN THE HEAD, how do you deal with raising a Deaf child in a language that is not your own? The answer could be one of many, but one question I do have is were there adequate psychological support systems to help this couple? Did they have access to information, classes, home support and the Deaf community during this process?
I choose not to see this situation as a rejection of the child who they wanted to "FIX" but an admission of personal limitations, impotence, frustration, insecurity, shallowness and weakness...and choose to believe that they were doing this in the best interest of the deaf child whose needs they realized they were not strong enough people to adequately meet...although are a deaf child's needs really so different than a hearing child's needs?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Jordan's First Middle School Report Card:)

I've been wanting to blog about this report card for the past five days but between one thing and another, I keep putting it off. However, the school called me and wants the report card back - they keep them in their personal files, and I have no time to make a photocopy- so, here it goes:

The Italian grading system corresponds to the American one as follows:
Ottimo - super A (impossible to achieve, rarely given)
Distinto - A (very difficult to achieve, generally given the last semester upon merit)
Buono - B (consistent work above average, given when earned)
Sufficiente - C (average, acceptable work, oftentimes given during the first marking period even when the child deserves a Buono because the teachers want to motivate the child to achieve at a higher level...this is a double standard because so many times they give this grade to students who deserve the higher grade - so instead of motivating them to achieve at a higher level, it crushes the student morally.)

Before I begin to share Jordan's grades, I need to say that the Italian grading system flat out sucks and is entirely subjective. I will explain this after the report card. I will also say that despite my experience reviewing report cards of other students and disagreeing with their grades, I 100% agree with the grades Jordan received...this goes a long way in explaining how well his teachers recognize his abilities.

Italian: Sufficiente (average)
English: Buono (B - it's a damn good thing:))
French: Buono (B - told y'all the French teacher wants me, the only thing I can do in French is kiss)
History: Sufficiente (average- nightmare subject)
Geography: Buono (B - thank God for Luca, I can't even find my ass)
Math: Sufficiente (average - that will improve, it's the only subject where Jordan is totally independent - love that teacher)
Science: Sufficiente (average - same teacher, will improve)
Technology: Sufficiente (average)
Music: Sufficiente (average)
Guitar class: Buono (B - this is the one on one lesson he has once a week at school)
Art and Imagery: Sufficiente (average - his teacher told me he had very rudimentary art skills - definitely gets that from me:))
Physical Education: Buono (B)
Language Lab (Jordan does not take the curricular Catholic Religion class, this is an alternative hour of study) Buono (B)
All went well in the behavior department with good grades in participation, interpersonal communication skills and work ethic.

The comments were as follows:
The student behaves in a lively but correct manner and demonstrates consistency in his work methods although he often needs some guided assistance. He actively participates in class discussions, but sometimes, not always in an orderly manner. He is learning to organize his own work but is not always able to confidently adjust to certain problematic situations, nevertheless the student has achieved a consistent level of achievement in the class environment.

I am really satisfied with the report card. It shows me that Jordan is in an environment where he is understood and assisted. He is mainstreamed in a class of 27students and has a support teacher with him for only 9 hours a week. She divides the majority of those nine hours between Geography, History and Italian with two hours a week for Math and Science. He sits in the front center of the classroom with two intelligent girls next to him...intelligent and sensitive.

As I said before the Italian grading system sucks because I find it to be extremely subjective. The majority of the exams are oral exams - interrogations, literally. This fact is both beneficial and difficult for Jordan...beneficial because oral exams require him to study, order his thoughts and express them in a logical manner -no easy task for a deaf child...difficult - precisely for this reason as well as the stress of public speaking in front of the class. The power of determining the grade rests with the teacher. What if she doesn't like the student? What if she's PMS or on the rag and hates the world? Way too subjective. I can count on my hand the number of objective tests - multiple choice- exams Jordan has had in the past six years. The system needs to be re-evaluated...I'm sure the Italian government will put that on their list of things to do.
Interrupting post...I am sitting here with Maria Vittoria Cerboni aka Mavi who just crushed me in Scrabble with a record breaking 156 point word (two triple word boxes) - Have got. Shocked. Mavi says hello to all!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

POST NUMBER 100: Those Crazy Italians

Crazy Italian number one: my son. He spent the afternoon and evening with the mil and went to the hairdresser. If y'all remember last time, he took the liberty of asking the barber to shave another ci on his right side of his head, he went virtually bilateral. Well, this time he decided to shave a heart with the letter "S" in the middle of it..."S" for Sara, the girl he's in love with in his middle school class who wants to be his good friend forever...there is nothing worse than hearing that line: You are and will always be my special friend. Life is hard when you wear your heart on your sleeve, and I am so sure that it is about to get REALLY hard for Jordan tomorrow morning at school when his class sees what he did. Aren't blatant declarations of love so beautiful...and painful? Maybe I'll shove a hat in his schoolbag just in case he gets cold feet. Although isn't it better to have lived and loved than never to have loved at all? One other thing...Sofia got all pissed off when she thought the "S" was for her and Jordan set her straight.

And on that note, I just got back from one wedding I don't think I'll ever forget. There is nothing worse than Italian weddings, because the wedding generally consists in a five hour sit-down chow down, and I am not one to be able to sit still that long, not only that, but I am just NOT hungry. The morning started off peachy. I got dressed in a very short black velvet skirt, a black vest with white pinstripes (love vests), a white button-down translucent shirt, a black beaded double strand necklace and a pair of playfully aggressive leopard high-heeled mary-jane-like shoes with a black patent leather strap and a little red bow. I was lookin' cute, the only problem was that I NEVER wear heels. We stopped at the MOST machine to get out some money on our way to the wedding, and I swear I got out of the car, tripped and almost went flying. These adorable shoes have a funky clippy closure that unhooked, luckily, and I mean really luckily, I have been doing Pilates for a year and a half so I managed to catch myself without breaking an ankle. Phew.
Have I mentioned that this morning was like 32° here and cloudy? Well, there I was, half naked and freezing my butt off, waiting outside for the bride to show up who was of course late. By the time she got there I could no longer feel my toes. Then, they got married in a civil ceremony and to get to the top, I had to walk up a RAMP. A flat freaking ramp in these high heel shoes. Somehow I managed to get up there with some help, only to find myself in an unheated room - this country drives me crazy.
Thank God the ceremony was quick and painless and miraculously I was able to get back down the ramp without injury, only to have to stand outside another forty minutes for pictures and other stuff. Oh, btw, when the bride and groom came outside, Italian tradition dictates that the guests must throw rice at them. So, we all had rice in our hands and some confetti, as well. This must have been a special group because not only did we throw rice and confetti, but the groom's friends threw banana peels and chunks of grass at them too. That alone should have prepared me for what was to come.

We stopped in an unheated bar for an aperitivo of something alcoholic and some chips, olives and peanuts. I have never! Then, we got back into the car, blasted the heat on our feet and drove up the mountain to Arcidosso. I was jamming to my iPod off in la la land, so the forty-five minute drive passed quickly. The lunch was at Luca's Uncle's restaurant Al Solito Posto and man can they cook it up goooood!
The guests sat down and the wine started flowing along with the conversation. I had about two glasses of wine and was bombed and feelin' fine, especially because plates of pecorino cheese with five different types of jellies - one of them SPICY! hit the tables - loved the spicy one. After that it was a selection of typical Italian cold cuts: prosciutto and salami, different types of crostini with liver pate, artichokes and mushrooms. I do not like Italian cold cuts, but I love anything with vegetables. At a certain point I started to feel kind of dizzy (Sofia just entered the room wearing my leopard heels - note: she walks in them much better than I do:))too much wine, too little food. Thankfully, the "first plate" arrived - pici pasta with a spicy red sauce (arrabbiata-bona)that I downed in five flat.

Btw, there was a keyboard player hooked up to a karaoke screen as the entertainment...interesting. You know how when you sit and sit and sit and sip and eat and sit and sit and sip, you get really tired? Add VERY slow music on top of that...torture. Just as I got up to go outside and breathe, I heard YMCA come blasting on the karaoke machine, so I did a little half turn in my swooshy skirt only to see two men dressed as women come walking through the door next to the keyboardist. Hmmm, I thought, things are pickin' up. Well, one of the men was wearing a teased blonde wig, sunglasses and a trench coat; the other stallion had a mussed brunette wig with sunglasses and a trench coat on. They went right in front of the keyboardist and began dancing. All at once they unzipped their trenchcoats and were NAKED underneathe except one was wearing (Okay, I kid you not, not even I am creative enough to event this scene)a black thong with a tiger protruding from the crotch, and the other had on a pair of tighty-whities with a hose-like thing-a-ma-jig hanging down, that he was just not filling out! Thong boy turned around and BARED ALL to the delight of one seventy year old grandma who had hopped up on her chair to take a picture while shaking HER groove thing. My mouth was hanging open for the entire twelve minute dance that consisted in a lot of bumping, grinding and smacking. The groom was loving it, the bride was mortified. Yeah, I must admit I was shakin' my thing a little, after all it was YMCA - the ONLY American song they played the entire wedding. At a certain point, everyone raised their cloth napkins and began waving them in the air...where the hell am I????? loving it.
Okay, way too much excitement- I did ask my brother-in-law to send me a photo so I could post it, but he hasn't sent it and I still couldn't post it even if I tried- so you'll just have to use your imagination...which will never in a million years be enough to fully grasp the scene I witnessed. Back to the food. The next "first plate" was tortelli with meat sauce, then came salad, french fries (really good french fries even better than MCDs) roast beef with mushroom sauce, and fried lamb.
At this point, things had died down from the peep show, so one drunk guy got it going again with a little Salsa! I got myself right up and hopped in that dancing line train that wrapped itself around the restaurant and waved my little white napkin in the air. I have never!
So, here I am now, home, tired and still in my skirt. Who knows what tomorrow will bring in this crazy little place called Tuscany.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


God, I have been dying to blog this all day, but have been so frustratingly busy! I must have read this email 1000 times and still can't believe it! Why have I been so crazy the past week and a half? In September I sent a copy of RALLY CAPS to THE MAIN PUBLISHING COMPANY in Italy that concentrates on disability issues, rehabilitation, psychology, etc. I have been using ERICKSON's publications throughout Jordan's journey - beginning to now. I covered the package in motivational stickers that said, "EXCELLENT!" "NUMBER 1!" "GREAT JOB!" you know the positive reinforcement sticker chart stickers, said a prayer and sent SEPTEMBER! As those of you who follow this blog know, RALLY CAPS is being published here in Italy by the CASA EDITRICE INNOCENTI, amazing people who greeted me when I walked in the door and immediately said, "Sure, we'll publish your book! Actually, my daughter-in-law is deaf." Stuff like that just doesn't happen. You can't walk into a publishing company and suddenly they say, of course we'll publish your book.

Anyway, on January 15th I received a shocking email. ERICKSON said that they had read the book and decided that they would like to publish it. I stared at the email, stared, stared, stared. ERICKSON represented the opportunity to increase awareness of the cochlear implant on a NATIONAL LEVEL. Every year I receive a two hundred page catalog of their publications, sort through it and always find something relevant and intelligent. OUR BOOK in that catalog? This catalog is sent to Doctors, Audiologists, Surgeons, Teachers, Speech Therapists, Psychiatrists, Parents throughout Italy. They host educational conferences, informative workshops, send magazines, articles, THE WORLD! and here that was being placed right within my grasp, yet unattainable, because our book is already under contract with a publishing house that I love...and our family's story belongs to this territory. How do you let something like this go, when you know that you have a miraculous opportunity to increase awareness to the people who need it the most?

So, I wrote a letter to both parties explaining the situation. A week passes - I'm dying (NOTE: I did not tell my dad about this situation at all) ERICKSON replied by saying that they were happy for us, congratulated me and informed me that it was not their policy to intervene when there were other publishing companies already involved, but that they would look forward to working with me upon completion of another book...A TOTAL CLASS ACT! I died. I wrote them a letter saying exactly that, "I'm dying, but I understand and appreciate your professionalism. Actually, I have already begun the second book and I look forward to working with your AMAZING publishing company in the future. Thank you." (AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!)

That night, I went out to dinner with my friend Carla. Poor Carla, I was a wreck. After dinner I just did not want to go home, so I suggested we get a drink in the center at this place I had gone to with my friend Rachel(who I never have time to see:(). We went to this place and it was CLOSED! SEQUESTERED, actually. We decided to take a walk in the Corso and who did we find?????? Stefano! The editor of my publishing company. I locked my arm in his and took him on a little walk where we had a nice chat and he basically told me he would contact ERICKSON to see if they could come to an agreement and if not..."It was nice knowing me..." Glowing! Hope returns. Do people like this really exist? How is it possible that I always find such amazing people who GET IT! The smile returned to my face, I ran home and sent ERICKSON another letter...I WILL NOT SURRENDER! My publishing company will contact you in the attempt to reach an agreement...they understand how important it is to me...

Another week passes. I often go out to the court next to my house that has a wooden fence encircling it and a far-reaching view of the rolling, green TUSCAN HILLS. This week as I looked upon these hills from inside the fence, I saw infinity and endless opportunities. I should be satisfied with the Grosseto publishing house, a beautiful, generous group of people, ready and willing to help us...why isn't that enough for me? Why must I want more? I AM AMERICAN!!!!!!! AND I WANT THE AMERICAN DREAM EVEN IF THAT HAPPENS IN ITALY! I have been feeling so tested lately, kind of like my life is changing and am I sure I want to go there? Destiny is calling, can't mess with that bad boy.

Last night, I received a letter from ERICKSON (a gentleman named Daniele who can REALLY write!) stating the following:
Dear Jodi,
Our publishing company was contacted by the EDITORE INNOCENTI DI GROSSETO, but (paraphrasing here)the issues involved in breaking the contract, reformulating a contract, renegotiations and contact with Publish America are more complex than it may seem, and our Editor and Advisory Board does not deem it appropriate to get involved when there is another Publishing House already involved who is passionate about publishing your book, especially given the fact that the book is close to being published. (not just dying at this point, suffering and dying)Based on your agreement with your publishing house it is only correct that they publish your book, although we know that you have great faith in ERICKSON and in the opportunities our publishing company would provide in allowing for a greater diffusion across Italy, as well as the opportunity to deal with issues regarding DEAFNESS. (Freaking stick a knife in my heart and turn it)AND IT IS FOR THIS REASON THAT WE WILL BE VERY PLEASED TO RECEIVE A COPY OF RALLY CAPS. WE WILL WORK TOGETHER WITH YOU TO PROMOTE THE BOOK BY MEANS OF ARTICLES AND DISCUSSIONS IN OUR MANY MAGAZINES...

Someone pinch me... I have just been handed the best of both worlds. FLYING. DREAMING. I will not be alone in all of this, Jordan will be right next to me raising his voice to educate others...

Questa parte qui è per gli italiani che cercano di capire qualcosa da questo macello di blog. Il mio blog è stato messo sul un sito per i sordi dove c'e' lo scambio d'informazione relativo alla sordità specificamente tutti coloro che utilizzano il linguaggio dei segni, ma addesso si è aperto anchè un dialogo molto interessante in riguardo all'impianto cocleare. Ho visto questa pubblicità della Pepsi che andrà in onda durante il SUPERBOWL (football Americano) ed è straforte...guardate un pò:)La Casa Di Bob...

Friday, January 25, 2008

This One's for the LADIESSSSSSSSS with a Tribute to Karen Putz - Go Girl!

I have had the most bizarre day! I went to teach my pre-school class and they WERE OUT OF CONTROL! In fifteen years of teaching I have never not been able to control a class, today was the exception to the rule. I tried everything! I jumped, danced, sang, pulled out the Mr. Potato Head, hokey pokeyed, read a book until finally, I whipped out a coloring sheet and sat their insane 3,4,5 year old butts down. The country is going to hell! The President was forced to resign amidst fighting, fainting, cursing, immature senators. And then, there was my middle school group. The oldest, Simone, who is in his first year of high school, strutted in with his "motorino" (in Italy, 14 year olds can get a license to drive a motor scooter)helmet on his head thinking he was all that because he was DRIVING and free! I made him feel like he was all cute, so distracted. We were working on the present continuous and present simple forms of verbs used as the future tense...struggling to teach them something. I gave up when Matteo drew a funky looking face on a piece of paper, put it in front of his own face and started talking. I lost it...just one of those days. I gave up and we played "go fish" while I tried to translate the latest Britney Spears song for Gioia - also out of her mind. What is with today?
I'm sitting here typing at my friend Rhonda's house, because I've been out all day and don't have time to go home...the kidlings are sleeping at the mil's, hubby's out at football practice, so I'm thinking tonight might just be a night out with the ladies, I seriously need one of those.

I had an interesting conversation with a teacher this morning as the mad preschoolers calmly colored. She is in a crisis because her son has accused her of doing too much for him as a child, basically he's blaming her for his failed marriage. His wife left him and he is playing the victim. He claims that the fact that she was always cooking, cleaning, teaching him to be a good boy - do well in school, never put your hands on another child, feel sorry for the "bad kid" in the class, share, etc - made him a dependent wuss. Meet the majority of Italian men. While the strategy of teaching your child to always be well-mannered, polite, to share, to help the next, to do unto others as you would have done unto you works in the good old USofA, it is BULLSHIT here in Italy.

Here it's survival of the fittest, meaning that if you take the soccer ball to the park and share it, you ain't coming home with it. (I interrupt this blog to give you Susie's opinion - another American who just popped into Rhonda's - loving this-)
"It's not true that they can't be polite, well-mannered, etc. but they do need to be able to assert themselves and stand up for their rights (a permanent marker is necessary - meaning write the kids names on every single thing they own- or lose it)"
This is my parenthesis - Susie is a single Mamma with three GIRLS! I have a BOY! So what does that mean? That means that I have gone from passive, let it roll off your shoulder to punch the delinquent child in the stomach. I never thought I would advocate violence, but if that is what it takes...Rhonda has just interjected with this pearl: "Don't hit first...but hit back...harder!" (dying-she has THREE boys)

Okay, maintain the calm. Jordan is in middle school. There is no reasoning with middle school hormones or delinquency. This is a passionate and very physical group of people, not a lot of intellectual reasoning regarding right and wrong in this age group. So what am I to do? Shit - so much for ladies' night out - Rhonda can't get a sitter, looks like I'm home alone:( Continuing...Jordan once had an incident at the beach where a younger and smaller kid was picking on him. Being the well-educated American child that he is, he was afraid of the kid because the fact that he was smaller prohibited him from "fighting back," so he became more and more frustrated with this kid and more and more the victim. UNACCEPTABLE! We role-played. I was the little bully and Jordan was Jordan. Luca showed Jordan how to get right in front of the kid's face, scream, "I'm gonna make you eat sand if you don't stop breaking my balls!" - put him in a choke hold and drag his face to the sand. My American side was screaming, "NO! NO! VIOLENCE NO!" My newfound don't-mess-with-my-deaf-kid side let my son scream at me, put me in a chokehold and shove my face to the ground. Hmmm. Teaching my son to be aggressive and violent, Mom would not be happy. Welcome to my world. Needless to say, Jordan used this role-playing the next day at the beach and that child NEVER messed with him again. Balls, balls, balls.

The point of this is that that teacher is re-thinking how she raised her kid and suffering. The first thing I viewed this morning - and the only thing- didn't make me vomit, but it did upset me -on was The Ugly Truth of CIs - (really appreciated the captioning) How do you think the parents of that man feel today? What a painful story. We as parents make choices in how we raise our kids...we do what WE think is best for them at the time and suffer the consequences later. I guess it depends on how well we listen to our kids as to how much suffering we will ultimately be doing, parenting is just no easy job - and to think we beg for it!

Wahoooooo! Ladies' night is back on and there is one FINE WOMAN who I will be toasting to tonight - Karen are THE WOMAN! DEMAND FREE SHAKES!! This song's for you...


Gonna win it no limit, strong women we are.
Gotta win it no limit, strong women we are.
Gonna win it no limit, strong women we are.
Gotta win it no limit, strong women we are.

Where them girls at. (Girls at).
That like to be in charge.
When the heat get too hot, they just keep turnin’ it up.
Never let ‘em see see, that you sweat, gotta go hard.
Where those winning women thats really willin to take it off!
Where them girls at. (Girls at).
That like to be in charge.
When the heat gets too hot, just keep turnin’ it up.
Never let ‘em see see, that you sweat, gotta go hard.
Where those winning women thats really willin to take it off!

Verse One
Uh-uh-uh-uh huh.
When you see both of us on catwalk representing our culture.
Uh-uh-uh-uh huh.
Well the time and day has changed, where the women wear the pants without changing the last name.
Uh-uh-uh-uh huh.
Where the word diva, diva, mean viva, viva, we run las vegas.
Uh-uh-uh-uh huh.
And then the stock exchange, bang, Than we got claim to the change.

All, all, all a girl want, wants.
All a girl need, needs.
Its just all those, simple things like to be cared for.
Just to have him, be there for.
All that matters, it’s those sweet things.
That’s all a girl really wants.
[Winning Women lyrics on]

Where them girls at. (Girls at).
That like to be in charge.
When the heat get too hot, they just keep turnin’ it up.
Never let ‘em see see, that you sweat, gotta go hard.
Where those winning women thats really willin to take it off!
Where them girls at. (Girls at).
That like to be in charge.
When the heat gets too hot, just keep turnin’ it up.
Never let ‘em see see, that you sweat, gotta go hard.
Where those winning women thats really willin to take it off!

Verse Two
Uh-uh-uh-uh huh.
We are too confident, me and her talk to Phil, never happen again.
Uh-uh-uh-uh huh.
We don’t wait, we get paid, for a trait holiday, we sip lemonade.
Uh-uh-uh-uh huh.
Instead of doing what he wants, we do what we want, buying homes in Geneva.
Uh-uh-uh-uh huh.
Like when the sound baby glance, rings, and that means more than things.

All, all, all a girl want, wants.
All a girl need, needs.
Its just of those, simple things like to be cared for.
Just to have him, be there for.
All that matters, it’s those sweet things.
That’s all a girl really wants.

Chorus x2
Where them girls at. (Girls at).
That like to be in charge.
When the heat get too hot, they just keep turnin’ it up.
Never let ‘em see see, that you sweat, gotta go hard.
Where those winning women thats really willin to take it off!
Where them girls at. (Girls at).
That like to be in charge.
When the heat gets too hot, just keep turnin’ it up.
Never let ‘em see see, that you sweat, gotta go hard.
Where those winning women thats really willin to take it off!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Response to Amy Cohen Effron - Why I dig

Little late posting today, been out all day, overall a depressing day, but I am not one to dwell...I had a very informative talk with my friend Lorenzo who revealed some best kept secrets that would prohibit this blog from being posted on, so I will remain silent:). It's important to have a good guy friend and he is proof that men and women can be friends...any opinions on that one!?

This was Amy Cohen Effron's comment on my Guilt-ridden blog, she asked some good questions that I would like to respond to...

Hi Jodi,

Awww... puberty, hormones or typical pre-teen stuff. Sometimes when kids have a meltdown, it means that this specific incident is really significant to Jordan's perspective. He probably was very frustrated trying to stand by himself, and resolve conflicts. That is when he may benefit getting new skills - called pro-social skills to cope any kind of conficts. Jordan is not a child anymore, and he is frustrated for not able to express himself - especially advocate himself in noisy classroom, dealing with teasing, etc...

These times, I personally went through and it really left a very lasting impression of me. I lashed out my parents, but I just don't know how to ask to 'teach' me to deal with these idiocy out there. I remembered how I felt left alone when my parents becomes busy with their schedule. I do not want to burden them, but at the same time I need them the most.

Jodi - don't feel guilty, and please see as a wonderful opportunity for you to give guidance to Jordan!

Also, I have a question that I'd really want to ask...

What exactly does DeafRead have that makes you so engrossed? What clicked you? What would it be like if you had never stumbled into DeafRead?

I am at awe by witnessing you how you became enlightened and showing so much respect to the Deaf/ASL community, and yet sharing your stories without offending us?

You have "hot damn" high emotional intelligence!

Amy Cohen Efron

Amy, thank you again for your comment. Now, to the business of answering your questions. One of the first posts I ever posted on was the one about the premonitions. I was not surprised to find out my child was deaf. I have always been very sensitive to deaf individuals, and I have always felt guilty for not being able to communicate using ASL. I tried four years of college to sign up for an ASL class, unsuccessfully, due to schedule conflicts. My main reason for wanting to learn was that I worked my way through college in fast food restaurants, cocktail waitressing (we're talking backless tuxedo shirt, bow tie and high heels! Pat and Mike's Rockville, Md and 94th Aerosquadron College Park, MD)and waitressing (Bohager's Bar and Grill - Baltimore, Md)and I always felt so BAD that I had to use a pen and paper to communicate. I don't know, I've always been attracted to the deaf population, and when Jordan was diagnosed, I did not in any way feel sorry for him or feel the need to change him in any way.
The stories I read on reflect my own situation here in Italy in so many ways, and I can relate to the frustrations, anger, sense of being misunderstood and underestimated and the strong need for a place to belong where one is accepted and comprehended...the need to advocate for a language that directly reflects a collective experience. There is NO superficiality on, no one talks about how big their house is, what kind of car they drive or how much money they make...who really gives a shit anyway about this info? Feelings are what count and intelligent, sensitive opinions. I can't get enough of feelings and passion...this is what I have found on All of that and acceptance of my story, people who want to hear what I have to say. I need to talk, share, explain and feel accepted in this moment...writing this blog is a cathartic experience because I can finally express myself and be understood.
I don't care if people disagree with my choices. I don't care if people criticize my parenting skills, I am the first to do so. I am proud of my child in all that he does, successes and failures. There is nothing more powerful than a failure to teach us the road to take in the future and to make us humble. Humility is a powerful trait coupled with strength.
The most powerful aspect of and the one commonality I have found in all posts is honesty. I get off on honesty...whether or not your opinions reflect my own, I respect an honest voice with a name attached to it. readers are ready to listen and hear about the cochlear implant, acceptance of the device is not an issue for me. Acceptance of the child or adult who wears the device is fundamental.
A highly detrimental aspect of is that people continuously use pseudonyms to hide their true identities for fear of backlash. My one goal in opening and creating more dialogue would be to help establish a safe environment to provide these people with enough encouragement to come out as themselves, free to speak out as who they really are without fear.
What a horrible element to have on a place as monumental as to indicate your true identity. This needs to be worked on asap.

Had I never found deafread (thanks to Abbie's Blog), I would be spending a helluva lot more time providing support for new parents and creating more cochlear implant awareness projects together with the moms on the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle - a HIGHLY motivated group of intelligent women who only care about the well-being of their children. I would not be neglecting the listen-up support group, although some of my comments are highly inappropriate:))))! Gotta shake up these frustrated moms every now and then! And...I would be writing my second book that I have the story for from beginning to end, but no time to write...some things are more important in this moment.
BTW...being offensive is totally against my nature (unless someone messes with my kids)...I'm a lover.
Any more questions??:)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

RE:Do Hearing Students really know about Deaf culture and ASL??

I have about twenty minutes before I have to run to Pilates, my salvation, but I saw this blog and must respond to this (even though I have no idea what she said, because I don't understand captionless ASL)because the title is so significant. We are constantly educating the hearing community regarding deafness, because Jordan is both deaf and a part of the hearing community. The most significant aspect of the cochlear implant is that it enables deaf children to be effectively mainstreamed. Therefore, many hearing children raised with my son have had a firsthand experience of what it means for Jordan to be deaf.

As I've said before, we went from temper tantrums to communication. His classmates lived this transition with him every single day of school, holidays, parties and life. During pre-school, Jordan NEVER sang in the end of the year programs, he would scream, fuss and run to sit in my lap to watch his friends sing - learning the lyrics to five songs was way too much for him. The first year he sang in a small presentation was when he was in second grade. I was so emotional about the experience that I went off to the side to cry in peace, when suddenly, I see my friend Francesca walking towards me, tears streaming down her face. She said, "Jodi, Jordan is singing! Can you even believe how much progress he has made?" WE sat there for another ten minutes crying in silence. I'm so not trying to be dramatic with all of this, I'm trying to say that when you move through the world making others a part of your life, struggles and successes, people open their minds and learn.

When Jordan received his cochlear implant, I went to school with photos to explain to his third grade class what would be happening to important it was for them to be supportive of him during a time when he would have only one hearing aid until his activation. I told these eight year olds how grateful I was that they were such good friends to my son, that they helped him understand the teachers' directions, made sure he copied the homework correctly and overall looked out for him despite many of his frustrations. A mother called me later that night to ask me about the cochlear implant because her son had told her about that talk and how proud I was of him for being a good friend. His class gave him so much love and support after his operation. They were quieter, attentive about the site of the operation and extremely helpful. Communication leads to education. They knew Jordan was deaf. When he had hearing aids, they made sure to speak in front of him so he could speech read. Don't think for a minute that after his cochlear implant, every single one of those kids did not note a dramatic transformation in my son.

Every summer we go to the beach on a daily basis. Jordan does not wear his ci on the beach, he puts it on when he plays cards, but he is totally deaf on the beach. ALL OF HIS FRIENDS know to speak to him so that he can speech read, otherwise, he will not be able to understand them. Sometimes, while I'm playing beach volleyball, I'll hear one of his friends screaming to another kid, "HE CAN'T HEAR YOU, HE'S DEAF, HE NEEDS TO SEE YOUR MOUTH WHEN YOU TALK TO HIM!" The hearing children know that my son is deaf...he is educating them.

When people in this town think DEAF, they associate that with my son...our experience. Do they know about ASL (LIS)? Yes, because twice a day, there is an interpreter for the news programs. Do hearing students in this town know about Deaf culture and ASL (LIS)? No, they do not, they only know my son who is deaf, who wears a cochlear implant, who speaks Italian and English.

Jordan's Tirade - In Direct...Confessions of a Guilt-Ridden Mamma

Yeah, the last post managed to get a "hot damn" out of Paula...rofl! There are so many things I'd like to talk about today, I need to limit myself - not too good at that:) One thing about teaching at pre-schools in the morning is that I don't really need to use my brain. Actually, I find that I finish lessons and have no idea what I sang, I'm so busy processing what I read on other things. Every now and then the kids pull me back to reality with the funny things they do. This morning was no different with the usual "Jodi, can you blow my nose?" (and let me tell you, it is not normal mucous, it's the thick, green stuff that screams, "Mom, I'M SICK - LEAVE ME AT HOME!") "Jodi, look, my tooth is loose!" God, if there is anything that grosses me out, it's wiggling teeth...they know, and they torture me. I'm over it.

Oh, today is not good, Jordan just walked in the door really pissed off. There's this one kid on the bus that really annoys him. We went through five years of Elementary School with them bickering, hanging out and playing playstation, fighting, playing soccer together, wait, This is the tirade in direct:

"I can't stand this family, you lose all of my art assignments! You never put my stuff away. (Note: that's not totally true, I just threw some unidentifiable object that smelled like dead rat in the trash - I didn't have the courage to take the cover off to investigate further...and there are tumbleweed rolling through my house as I type) I'm not going to school anymore, I can't stand this terrible school! Martina annoyed me, she kept tickling me during Math, then when we were copying homework in our diaries, I didn't catch the page number because the class was too noisy and she wouldn't tell me the page numbers...Now, he's calming down - "Mamma, will you promise that you'll buy me some doughnuts and that really good pizza that you get me?... Now, I'm angry with Luciano because he broke my helicopter. You never help me with things. And then, you are like a druggie because you are always on the and iPod... And Francesca is on my nerves. I asked, "Why?" (adding fuel to the fire)..."Because Francesca is annoying, she tells secrets and Cecilia annoys me because she tickles my throat." Oh, now he's really letting me have it..."you didn't come and hug me goodnight last night, you're always on the computer!" Note: I did take him to BIG PIZZA last night just him and me (starting to feel guilty for neglecting my child:() Thank God my mom doesn't read this blog, a. she would call me a slut and b. she would go off on me for neglecting my children.
Ah, the explosion before the calm. He's got his plate of pasta with ricotta cheese and he's turned on the television to wind down his schizofrenic self. This is the first outburst in a looong time. I know it is so tiring for him to go through a long school day in a loud classroom. We're working on getting the fm system, but he just upgraded to the FREEDOM processor with a loaner. We're processing the paperwork to get him his own processor. Based on what I've learned from other parents, I was told that the fm system with his old processor, the Esprit 3G, created static issues, so I decided to wait until he tried the FREEDOM, as it is supposed to work better and has a direct attachment feature that the Esprit 3G does not have. He loves the FREEDOM and refused to go back to the Esprit 3G once he heard the sound of the FREEDOM. He hears more background noise, but at the last mapping, we managed to lower the background noise so that there is a big difference.
While I am sad he had a rough day, and some of the things he says are painful, I appreciate every frustration he is able to express to me. When he had his hearing aids, his frustrations took the form of throwing things, kicking chairs, turning red and crying. Now, he uses his voice...he still turns red, but he communicates his feelings. Um...I think I need to stop writing and go hug my son...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hot and Bothered:) (definitely not for kids)

This is just another one of those days that I am out of my mind...patience. Between Mark's comment (will be purchasing his books:)) on my blog last night and Mike McConnell's blog (go-tees are hot) that I read for my 7:30 wake up call, I have been ruminating all day. It didn't help that my friend left the vibrating ring in my mailbox this morning...but I'll get to that later. First of all, there is just nothing sexier than a man who can write and express himself...totally down with that, especially when he is liberal despite personal convictions. (Good thing I live oceans away:))
I think based on studies that I remember hearing on the radio last year, Italian (Think Catholic capital of the world) women have more sex, by far, than American women - obviously each case is a case in and of itself. However this statistic has remained in my head for some reason.
I wonder what the statistic could possibly be regarding the amount of sex a mom of a deaf child following the oral/a-v approach might be...those would have to be some llloooooooow numbers. I mean how turned on can a woman possibly be when she's thinking about how to bring that "s" sound on, while eager hubby is going for that thang. Women don't always approach sex physically, at least until we really realize what a great stress-relief it can be - we're more about the mental stimulation. So important to communicate this to the partner, but they don't always get it, because they are all about physical.
This was my sex life during the hearing aid years - once, twice a week, max. Get it over with so I can relax for the next six days. How effin sad and pathetic is that, but when you are fighting for the life of your child, with the child 24/7 and he's sleeping in your bed until he's 5 or six, what the hell can a woman do?
And then came the cochlear implant. After the initial shock of the operation wore off and I started to return to being a woman, I brought sexy back, hard. Now, life is satisfying, but it took a while to get here. The choices we make for our children, lives and families all have consequences in every aspect of who we are as women. We don't just breathe, we feel.
Now, about that vibrating ring. Highly recommended. A friend of ours is the owner of the cafe where I just got picked up again, this time by a sixty year old, so they are getting younger:)(fyi: dropped 25 pounds since last summer and I'm in the University mentality after having spent the past ten years in high school again - get the analogy- so I'm feeling good again after so many years of being so closed)anyway, the owner knows me so he decided to recommend a new product...the vibrating ring - just use your imagination - don't know you all well enough to go there. This ring has become the joke of Istia as I have recommended it to everyone, including Jordan's 58 year old very Catholic teacher. That was kind of because she insisted on knowing what we were talking about at a class function and it would have been really rude not to tell her...well, she asked for it. And...Italian women ARE famous for having a lot of sex. New Year's Eve was hysterical because my friend's husband made the announcement that he BUSTED the ring...he is now quite famous around town.

Okay, there is a point to all of this, although I am dragging it out...Italian television, magazines, billboards etc. all portray an image of a supersexy, chesty, pouting woman. What's a mother to do, to combat this image of a woman? It's impossible, so when we drive by these billboards and my eleven year old son who is finding his hormones says, "Hey Ma,Oh what beautiful boobs!" What the hell do I say? I explain that it is not proper to say such things in respect to women. It is offensive. Then, right after dinner a very popular television show - and no wonder it's so popular- comes on and the first thing they say is, "Ecco le VELINE!" (pictured above) Two super-stacked, beautiful, young, long-legged hotties dressed in hoochy-cutters and classy bras - this right after dinner. I must admit, their dancing skills are exceptional - PUKE! Now when your husband sees all of this on a satisfied full stomach (rare in my house because I am the WORST cook) where do you think his mind is going, despite the fact that his comment is, "Oh please, I could be their father!" (con cazzo - you'll just have to translate that yourselves)
And my hormonal son, "Oh, look at them!"
Gotta watch out for kids nowadays, because just when you think they are sound asleep, they give you a serious wake up call. Jordan and I had a conversation last year before he went to sleep and I asked, "Jordan, what do you dream about when you dream?" His response, "Zio Papperone, Ilaria e le poccie!" Translation: Uncle Scrooge - the billionaire from the Mickey Mouse/Donald Duck comics, Ilaria - the girl he was in love with for 5 years of Elementary School, and Boobs."
My sweet, sensitive deaf child ain't so asleep.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Humble Pie

Hi Everyone. Today's blog will not mention the cochlear implant (except for just now) because I'm going to take the humble road in this post. is kind of acting like God watching over his children in this moment, waiting to see what will happen. A lot of bloggers/vloggers are pissed off and hurt at this moment...rightfully so. I left a comment of this nature on one of the blogs, I'm so out of my mind in this period that I can't remember which one, but it went something like this: If members of the Deaf community stormed the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle with aggressive views, defensive attitudes and contrary thinking, I would be overwhelmed and saddened that our trust, raw feelings and beliefs were being violated. The Circle is a community of parents who share diverse ideas and methods of communication to help their kids grow and become complete human beings. Moi said, "I want to cry. I really do. It's painful for me to go to DeafRead now for so many reasons." She wrote such an eloquent and thought-provoking post (and said I had a good sense of humor:))and I understand where she's coming from, because is a place for the Deaf community. As I have said before, I am here to share. Other hearing parents are becoming more and more involved because they NEED a dialogue with the Deaf community. While my son is very successful, there is a part of his personality that is so supersensitive that a person who has not lived his Deaf experience, I am afraid will never truly understand him. This sensitivity is why I came and why I intend to stay...I have found this type of emotion in so many blogs. It's not about telling anyone what to do, it's about listening and learning. Human nature often causes us to defend our most difficult choices to look for some type of affirmation. Realize this and give some affirmation instead of being insulted or pushing away people who have sought you out when they could have stood their ground elsewhere. Lotta hurting people out there, time to start healing, moving on and growing. It won't happen overnight, but I am not going away unless throws me off...and as far as I am concerned, we are all created equally in God's eyes.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

First Child DEAF...Do You Have the Second Child?

Hell, yeah.

Thank you so much to everyone for your honest comments and for sharing heart-wrenchingly personal experiences here. This post is dedicated to Sofia Madyson, my hearing 5 year old drama queen of a curly-haired, independent daughter. She could never have known what awaited her when she was born into this f'in crazy family:).

A couple of days ago I was sitting outside of the Bar Stiacciole (bar is not pub, it's cafè) waiting for my friend to talk. A seventy year old man walks out of the bar looks at me, keeps walking, then suddenly turns around and walks back towards me. He looks me in the eyes, and says, "Buongiorno!" (Good morning!)I look him square in the eyes and reply, "Buongiorno!" (thinking...what the hell does this old man want?)Then, he smiles and says, "Le belle donne vanno sempre salutate." (One must always say hello to a beautiful woman.)I'm like, bring it on old man! So, I shyly smile and said, "You have a great day." He turns on his heels and goes about his life. You just never know how you can make a person's life with one nice word.
As I glowed and started thinking, hell yeah, I am ALL that, Sonia arrived and sat down. Her daughter Federica is in the same class as Sofia (her son is Jordan's best friend) and she proceeded to tell me the following: "Jodi, Sofia told Federica that she has a cochlear implant because she is deaf." News flash: my hearing daughter is now deaf. She then told me that Federica really thinks that Sofia is deaf because whenever she tries to talk to Sofia, Sofia says, "Eh, Eh, I can't hear you, what did you say?" Sonia knows I've been so busy with the book and blogging and that my world is revolving around the whole deafness issue right now. She also knows that I have my iPod in my ears 24/7 and that I am so totally in my own head. She was basically laughing at me.
What she didn't know was that the other day, Sofia walked upstairs and asked me to fix her cochlear implant (processor)because it was falling out of her ear. She handed me this pink Barbie behind the ear telephone attachment toy thingie to put back around her ear. She said, "Mom, I'm deaf." I said, "Sofia, do you know what deaf means?" She said, "It means I need a ci to hear." I said, "No,Jordan's ci helps him to hear, but without his ci, he can't hear sounds...his ears don't work like yours. For example in the morning when he wakes up and you both go and watch tv, you always go to get Jordan his processor because you know he needs that to hear the television." She looked at me and said, "Is he blind, too?"

Choosing to have another child when your first child is born deaf is exactly that, a choice. When you love your child unconditionally, the choice in the whole process vanishes and you just get down to business to create that new baby. Driving in my car with Jordan in his carseat, I always felt that there was a body missing in that other passenger seat. That empty seat missing another child, my daughter - hearing or deaf, was screaming to be occupied. When we finally got pregnant, I called my mother-in-law to tell her the incredible news...the first words out of her mouth, "God, I feel so sorry for Jordan. I don't know why you've gone and done this, but Jordan has too many needs for you to dedicate yourself to another child." Shit was that hard going down. As idealistic as this may sound, I firmly believe that "love conquers all." Had Sofia been born deaf, I would have loved her just like I loved my son and in respect to taking something away from Jordan, what greater gift in the world to give him than another person in his world to love him unconditionally. When I was pregnant, I prayed, not for a hearing daughter, for an affectionate, loving, intelligent and compassionate child. That is what God gave me and she happens to be hearing.
The fact that she is hearing is so strange. I was so used to raising Jordan in Italian that I would say certain things to Sofia in Italian instead of English. I had to relearn how to speak English to a bizarre. Jordan received his ci when Sofia was two, so her English was at a point where Jordan's ability to hear with the CI has enabled him to follow along in learning spontaneous English with Sofia. The whole thing is just so overwhelming to watch and live. The other day the tv accidentally turned off and I was looking for the flicker, Jordan picked up the flicker and said, "Oh, it's my fault, Mom." IN ENGLISH! I have been "Mamma" for eleven years, now I'm suddenly "Mom" and "Mommy" (when he wants something - conniving brat)I have never taught him how to say "It's my fault" so I said, "Jordan, how do you know how to say that?" He said, "I hear you say it all the time." Floored.
Magical sibling moment...Jordan reading a bedtime story to Sofia.
I am so blessed.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Through the Eyes of a Hearing Mom of a Deaf Baby

I really wasn't planning on blogging today, I think I need a rest after yesterday's activities, that and a very long,cold shower:) But, I visited a woman's blog, a hearing parent of a newly diagnosed deaf baby who currently wears hearing aids. I am giving you this glimpse of what we process in our minds before choosing the cochlear implant to help you understand that we are not trying to take away our child's deaf identity, we are just trying to help him/her have other identities, possibilities and opportunities. Parents are reaching out to the Deaf community, we need to be made to feel welcome.Take it away, Christina...

So, this blog is for everyone who thinks that I have "IT" together. On the outside, I totally do. Thank you notes are written, the house is pseudo-clean, I volunteer, and I put Cheerios in Waterford. I wouldn't call all this having "IT" together. I would just categorize all of that as ways I deal with not having "IT" together at all! It's like that MTV True Life show...except instead of True Life: I'm a Beauty Queen or True Life: Engaged and Underage (MY FAVORITE!!) my show would be called:

TRUE LIFE: I'm a Mom of a Deaf Baby Who Has No Idea What the Heck She is Doing

I was talking to my good friend on the phone yesterday. Our husbands were childhood friends, and I am lucky enough to call her my friend. We're both Mommys (she has 3 with one on the way...I call her my "Guru"), and we both are OBSESSIVE when it comes to scrapbooking. We were chatting about our journey with Christian, and she said "You and Chuck have had to make so many difficult choices in Christian's first year. We really admire you".

After we shared some laughs about our kids and families, we said our good-byes, and I got to thinking....we have had to make difficult choices, and I wonder everyday if I am doing the best thing for my kid.

I am having an INCREDIBLY hard time trying to figure out how and where my kid will fit into the "Deaf Community". I will be the first to admit that I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THE DEAF COMMUNITY. I've been lurking on many DC websites, trying to learn more about my son's culture. I'm learning that there is alot of debate about being "Deaf Enough", especially when it comes to CIs and whether a family choses to use ASL in the home. I'm terrified of my kid getting rejected should we chose to get a CI. Sure, our plan right now is to mainstream him into our public schools. But what if he wants to go to a Deaf School? Will he be able to relate to the kids there? Will he be "Deaf Enough"?

Our family game plan has always included ASL. To me, it's a part of who Christian is. And that's just me. But, our family game plan has always included the hope for him to be oral and use spoken English as his first language. I've always seen this as a way for him to have a piece of both of his worlds. ..or is it? In all honesty, I am completely freaked out that the choices I am making today will impact his adult identity too. I would give anything to walk in Christian's shoes. Everyday I wish that I was Deaf so I could understand where he is coming from. It, for lack of a better word, SUCKS that I haven't got a clue about his community or his language. I'm the one who is supposed to be TEACHING him.

I know that you don't have to be a hearing Mom to a Deaf baby to have these freak out moments. And don't get me wrong, I just don't freak out over him being Deaf. I freak out over making sure I raise a strong, yet sensitive man. I freak out because I wish I would've paid more attention in gym class when we talked about the rules of soccer and football(I was a figure skater. If it didn't have sequins or glitter, I wasn't interested).

I know that all parents have difficult choices to make. And I know that there are a million and one families who would give anything to ONLY have to deal with the choices that I make everyday. I try to keep that in perspective. I try to make it a point to thank God everyday for my miracle baby. I also try to take a step back, and know that I'm doing the best I can. But, it's hard. I guess that's why they call Motherhood the toughest job on earth.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Seducing the Deaf Community

This one is for A Deaf Pundit...
Call me crazy, but I just have to write what I'm going to write...bear with me. I'm thinking I'm going for an analogy here. This situation is kind of like two married people who sense a strong attraction. The Deaf individual is married to ASL and the Deaf Community. The hearing parent who opts for the cochlear implant is torn between having knowingly "cut her child's skull open" not for the purpose of removing a child "suffering" from deafness, but to provide that child with the possibility of another identity - a hearing identity because "Hearing is not perfection or a normality, it is just the majority" - and this hearing identity offers a helluva lot of opportunities. Consider me the aggressive one trying to make love to the Deaf community...I'm flirting, being honest and listening to its soul. Some people get this and are attracted to what I am offering, others just don't feel me, but the ones who feel me...are still interested in where I'm going to take them. There is passion on both sides. I have something you want...a deaf child. You have something I want, a rich community that stimulates me because I perceive a depth in this community, a sensitive and protective soul that I know is a part of my son, a fundamental part of my non-robotic, feeling son. Yet, while the temptation is strong (because I'm highly provocative - and hot-just got my hair done) there is resistance because the Deaf community has a history of self-love, it is loyal to its own, speaks a language of its own and is afraid to take that step...afraid to cheat. When everything is perceived as perfect in your life: Why change? Why experiment? Why open yourself to the possibility of more pain and suffering? So, you start doing your best to push that person trying to love you away...far away. But the attraction persists. Because the other married person does not go away, she insists. In every relationship there is always someone who loves more than the other, especially when the motivating force in this love affair is a mother's unconditional love for her child.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Finding Acceptance on

Calling all radical Deaf Community members to start blasting me, sending me hate mail, telling me I'm anti-this-that-and-the-other! Just make sure you sign your name to the post, because ANONYMOUS comments just don't do it for me. Wait a second! No one has been hateful, disparaging or condescending, so what does that mean? The only vibes I've been getting are acceptance, love, passion, and THE NEED TO ASSERT A LOVE FOR ASL THAT IS A REFLECTION OF AN ENTIRE COMMUNITY. I know what it means to give up a language that is a reflection of your entire being. No one understands my sense of humor in this country, and I can assure you that everyone who knows me thinks I'm crazy.
Only when I spend thirty minutes with my Texan friend Rhonda, do I really feel understood...we speak our own common language. I kind of have truck-driver-like tendencies and in those thirty minutes, I let it all rip! Not only that, but we come from similar backgrounds, we psychologically connect. When we hang up the phone, we say "luv ya!" like I did in high school, college and before getting married and leaving all of my friends and their daily lives.
I have this middle school group of three that kills me. They listen to 50 Cent, so you can imagine the language they throw at me during our lessons. Every other word out of their mouths is "F-this," and "F-that." Once they screamed the "N****r* word -that they learned thanks to 50 Cent and asked me what it meant. How do you explain an entire history of National shame that rests behind one word to a group of twelve year olds? I feel all the negative power behind that word, that they will never be able to perceive... A couple of lessons ago, I taught them, "Talk to the Hand!" (keep in mind, I left the USA during the Rikki Lake years...omg) The other lesson, I was reviewing the present perfect tense of verbs and one of the boys told the other that he was an idiot, so this guy threw up his hand and responded, "Talk My Hand!" I don't even know how he remembered that -Oh gosh, I was on the floor. Then, I corrected him, and he said, "If I write the word "stupid" on my hand and throw it up again, wouldn't it be even more effective?" I thought that was kind of an interesting take on the whole thing. Anyway, there is a point here, although I think I've lost it...Oh yeah, languages, cultures behind the language, emotions and cultures behind the languages...and so on...
I did not let the Italian language barrier stop me from adapting this lifestyle to meet my needs and enrich me. A language barrier is a strong obstacle to overcome because there are so many subtleties in a language as rich as Italian. There is a history behind that language and emotions attached to every word. Luckily, I find myself in Tuscany where their mouths are as foul as mine:) and I have had the opportunity to meet exceptional people, diverse and accepting of my family.

Not being able to adequately express myself in the beginning was very frustrating to me, especially given the fact that my son had urgent needs that needed to be met. I rolled up my sleeves and dove into the language to learn it as quickly as possible. My family could not communicate with my son, because they did not take it upon themselves to learn Italian (although my Mom and stepfather did attend a course for four weeks that they eventually abandoned)- they formed their own communication system of broken English, choppy Italian and gestures.

Do I know ASL? No. Do I need ASL to function in my everyday life? No. Would learning ASL enrich my life? Without a doubt and the fact that it is directly associated to deafness makes it all the more appetizing to me given the fact that my son is deaf...that's why I'm here. Although Jordan doesn't sign, he is deaf. Although I must speak Italian every day, all day, I am American - English is my native language. I understand how a common language can represent a culture, but it should not represent a barrier that limits that culture from growing.

As an aside, I finally had a morning free, so I spent it getting highlights and coloring my hair. I was sitting in the hairdresser's when my cell phone rang. It was Jordan. "Mamma, please come and pick me up from school. I don't feel well." Well, I had the color on my hair and was hardly in a position to leave, so I asked, "What's wrong?" He said, " I don't want to talk about it over the phone, just come and get me." "Jordan," I said, "unless you are vomitting or have a high fever, I can not come and get you. What is the problem?" His voice then got really small, sad and pathetic and I'm thinking, oh shit, what is the problem..."Mom, they had the class representative elections again and I didn't win. MY HEART IS CRYING." Drama. Feeling rejected...another heart-wrenching mom moment where you have to let him suffer to help him grow. "Jordan," I explained, "you were already elected class representative for four months, it's someone else's turn. This doesn't mean that your classmates don't love you, it just means that someone else has to have a turn." How do you talk to a crying heart by phone? I told him to pass me the phone to the custodian who understood what was happening and reassured me that she would let him stay there a little bit to help him pull himself together. The good news: my son can talk on a cell phone to me and cry his heart out sincerely. The bad news: I am a Mamma, hear me suffer. The best news: when I came home from my hair appointment (lookin' hot)I found Jordan calmly eating lunch with Luca, and now he's on his way to his guitar lesson...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mishka - Please "FIX" this...

This was A Deaf Pundit's comment (posted with a photo) on my MACK ATTACK? blog:
Please know that Aidan Mack does not represent all of us Deaf. There are many of us who disagree with what she says and her methods.
We just want to see a balance in the debate of CIs. All we hear is the positive side of CIs, and we know that it is not always successful.
I respect each parent's decision when it comes to their children. If the parent wants a CI for their child, then great. As long the parent is given the full picture on CIs. That doesn't happen often enough, sadly.
So,I do see a need for unbiased, impartial information to be presented. By no means is that any fault of the parents here, and I don't understand the anger at the parents, personally.
I'm sorry you and other parents were attacked. (I haven't felt attacked yet) You guys do NOT deserve that at all.

And this was ANONYMOUS'comment:

No one in the blog makes a conflict. It's you (note:the "you" would be little, old me) who makes
a conflict. Then you're the one
who is hypocritic and dishonest,

If you were honest, you'd have deleted Deaf Pundit's ugly,
character-assassinating post.

Thank you.


Please note...I come in peace. I am here to SHARE our experience and to LEARN from yours. I am here to create a dialogue with the Deaf Community who based on the majority of comments (that I will reply to and so appreciate receiving, but my life is total chaos right now, the fifty free minutes I have today are being dedicated to this blog) received on this blog is ready to LISTEN. Do cochlear implants work for everyone? Hell, no, but they work for my son. Why isn't he important enough to make the Deaf Community begin accepting that approaches to DEAFNESS are in constant evolution?
When Jordan wore hearing aids, he was ego-centric, angry, "deaf"iant, needy, frustrated and totally incapable of showing affection. So, yes, I can understand why people are wary based on a history of this...and I can understand why many who grew up with the oral approach would have then turned to the Deaf Community. When my son finally activated the ci, he changed completely. He smiles, laughs, dances, plays music, and is constantly searching for affection...he's a lover.
Mishka, the Deaf Community knows you and how you feel - that you will provide an unbiased approach in your search for ci stories. As I already posted on your blog, there is no one case that will give the Deaf Community what it is looking for, but the more cases you provide, the more people will understand that we are not going away. Something needs to be done to "fix" the divide, so for now, I will continue giving, giving, giving, sharing and building bridges.

This comment left by Mark blew me away and I would like to sincerely thank him for having taken the time to listen to what I am saying...
Hi everyone,

I wanted to respond sooner but my schedule would not allow it. However I still wish to point out that a few people used the word “projection” in response to my original comment. I can understand how someone could arrive at this conclusion, especially after I shared my own personal experience and also considering how they don’t fully know my background.

First of all, let me assure you that I was not projecting. My concerns, rather, are more along the lines of what Karen said (the Karen from A Deaf Mom Shares Her World, not Karen Mayes). Amy Cohen-Efron also made some good points that echo my sentiments.

I’ve worked with several CI children and most of them, as far as I can tell, morphed from “deaf” to “hard of hearing” from a functional standpoint. That’s where Karen and Amy’s concerns come into play.

Also, I personally know several deaf people who have a CI. Two of them had bad experiences (including one guy who had to go right back into the operating room after something went horribly wrong). On the plus side, there’s another person who had a fantastic experience with the CI. She loves it and has no problem conversing with her hearing relatives, either in person or on the phone. For this person it does indeed seem like a medical miracle.

However, the great majority of the people I know who have a cochlear implant fall somewhere in between. And that brings us back to my original concern. The “in-betweeners” have their own issues of which most of the world is unaware.

As for my own background: I consider myself culturally Deaf. I have my own ideals that match the ideals of most people in the culturally Deaf world but I don’t force them on anyone - not even my own kids. I believe that the individual comes first before the ideal.

FYI, my oldest son is in the category of kids most likely to succeed from a CI. I let him know this. I let him know of ALL the options he has, even the ones I wouldn’t want for myself. He has a right to know. Someday I’ll have to publish his response. Absolutely floored me. I stand by my earlier assertion that kids are smarter than adults.

Anyway, back to my background: even though I’m culturally Deaf, I’m also the guy who, in the book Anything But Silent, wrote that it was time for the Deaf world to welcome the CI deaf. This was published in 2004 but it was an event in 1998 that made me change my thinking (in 1997 and the years before, I may have been guilty of projection. If you want me to explain how my perspective changed, I would be glad to do so in a separate post in my own blog.)

In another one of my books, an anthology titled On the Fence: The Hidden World of the Hard of Hearing, there are about 5 CI stories. Again, I do not allow my personal ideals to stand in the way when I encounter stories from people who have done differently than I would have done. I may have my own beliefs but these writers do have a powerful story to tell and they have every right to do so. I hate to toot my own horn but I wanted to mention all of this so that in the future, when I share my pro-ASL perspective or any concerns about the CI, no one will write it off as “projection.”

That said, I have one more issue/concern that I would like to share here. This topic was initiated by Jodi, a hearing parent whose child has a CI. And this parent shows all the willingness in the world to listen to the Deaf perspective. I greatly, greatly appreciate it because it is through this willingness (on both sides) that an effective dialogue can be maintained and perhaps somehow, a sense of community for ALL of us can be forged. We are all in this together.

My reason for bringing this up is that while we have a hearing CI parent being open-minded, it’s puzzling to see DEAF people in here consistently posting anti-deaf commentary on a consistent basis in their own blogs or in comments sections everywhere else. I understand a little bit of kvetching here and there (no community is perfect – we all have our flaws), but to see deaf constantly bashing other deaf in such a manner truly boggles the mind. I truly don’t understand because let me tell you, my years at Gallaudet University were a magical experience and I cherish the culturally Deaf world with all my heart. So if you’re a deaf person constantly critical of the Deaf world, I can’t help you. All I can say is look in the mirror and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to help yourself.

January 15, 2008 5:44 PM

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

RE: Rally Caps...My Dad and I are the Authors

Sharon Pajka-West, Ph.D. IN HER BLOG DEAF CHARACTERS IN ADOLESCENT LITERATURE reviewed the book and here is her interview dad and me:)

Interview with Jodi Cutler Del Dottore, author of RALLY CAPS (2007)
RALLY CAPS by Stephen J. Cutler and Jodi Cutler Del Dottore
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 88 pages
Publisher: PublishAmerica (April 16, 2007)

I have often been told that I need to include more "boy" books and "sports-related" books in my reading repertoire. Guilty as charged! When the author of Rally Caps contacted me to review her book, I thought, "Perfect... a book with boy main characters, centered around baseball, and that includes a deaf character!" What I didn't realize is how much I didn't know about baseball.... and boys. Thankfully I'm married to a man who is a boy at heart and who is able to give me basic baseball terminology definitions and other "boy" vocabulary such as bugjuice. Nevertheless, I made it through the book in one sitting.

RALLY CAPS is the story of Jordan, a ten-year-old who gets injured while trying out for Little League. When the doctor places him on the “disabled list” (i.e. no physical activity for six to eight weeks), Jordan mopes around spending much of his time playing PlayStation and watching the Cartoon Network. When he finally goes off to baseball summer camp he has to overcome his anxiety of another baseball injury and swimming with the possibility of meeting the lake monster who steals swimming trunks.

Jordan shows off his extensive vocabulary (using words such as 'formidable' to describe a pitcher) when be meets and befriends Luca, a deaf character who wears a cochlear implant and Luca’s sister Niki (who is known at camp as Nick but no spoilers here!!!). Jordan learns a great deal from Luca’s ‘nothing is impossible’ attitude, and his hero Cal Ripken Jr. Luca also teaches readers a bit about his home in Italy including such delicacies as Nutella, a hazelnut chocolate spread.

RALLY CAPS was released just in time for Cal Ripken Jr.'s historical induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Co-author Stephen Cutler traveled to Cooperstown for a book signing at Augurs Bookstore, next door to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum. The author was able to watch his hero, Cal Ripken Jr. being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Read my interview below with co-author Jodi Cutler Del Dottore (daughter of co-author Stephen Cutler) to learn about how they collaborated writing the book from the United States and Italy.

*****Interview with author Jodi Cutler Del Dottore-- Read below*******

SPW: From the back of the book and from your website, much of the book appears to be based on real events, not just fiction. I'm so curious if your father was actually like the character Jordan (a prankster at camp). AND while your son Jordan was your inspiration for the book, is he more like the character Jordan or the deaf character Luca?

JCDD: The book is a combination of real-life events and fiction. Yes, the character of Jordan is a mixture of what happened to my father (when he was 10) following a flying bat incident and the anxiety he experienced at camp that summer – and his idol Cal Ripken Jr. It also represents anxiety I went through after my son's cochlear implant surgery. Anxiety and panic attacks are becoming too common in children today, and I wanted these individuals to find support in a character able to overcome anxiety. The pranks were various jokes from my Dad’s camp experience and my own experience in day camp, living in a sorority house during college and April fool’s jokes my sister and I played on my mom and dad during our childhood. My dad added the camp setting (the actual camp he attended as a child for 12 summers) and traditional camp cheers. His baseball camp experience was an integral part in forming the person he is today, and believe it or not, he broke his nose and had surgery again during an Oriole game while diving for a foul ball hit by Eddie Murray! Niki and I were with him that time at Memorial Stadium. Quite a night that was!

My son JORDAN is more like the deaf character Luca but with some of the insecurities of Jordan. JORDAN is fearless, always has been, however has some of the insecurities that living with a disability brings, despite his significant progress made in overcoming language and social difficulties.

SPW: You've included several names of your family members in the book as characters. On your website I saw the picture of you with Niki. Is she a family member too?

JCDD: Niki is my sister and the character Nick represents not only the opportunity to depict a strong female character, but a window for the reader providing insight as to Luca's history and challenges he's faced in his oral approach to deafness. Like me, Niki is an athlete. There is no doubt she would have made that catch described in the book – she was that good!

SPW: Your family clearly has a passion for baseball. Can you explain what it was like to see your father after he met his hero for the first time?

JCDD: I'll let my dad answer this one! I will say that he has been my coach my entire life and has taught me everything I know about baseball. The history and drills and chats on the “CB Rock” were from my father’s vast knowledge of the game he loves. He attended 5 Fantasy Baseball Camps including two of Cal Ripken’s. He tells me that they all were unbelievable but the best memory is the 7 inning game he pitched and warming up with Cal on the sidelines. He met his other hero, Brooks Robinson, at the Oriole Fantasy Camp in 1996. Brooks labeled him “Mr. Scoop” because my father played first base and always scooped up the short throws from the infielders. My father will always have that “little boy” in him from his love of sports. Now he umpires softball down in Florida 4 nights a week. But what I got most out of my father’s love of the game was his role model, Cal Ripken and what he represented – playing through injury, criticism/media, and persevering through it all – and the importance Cal placed on family. Cal was the perfect inspiration for our book (along with the positive confident deaf child) of persevering through difficult times – the two represented a perfect compliment for our story.

SPW: Will you describe how your father and you collaborated on the book from two different countries?

JCDD: We began working on "the book" when he told me he was thinking of writing a short story for a baseball magazine based on his Travel Team Tryout accident and he wanted to incorporate Cal Ripken Jr. I told him that it could be the basis for a book if we incorporated his camp experience following his frightening flying bat incident and make it into a baseball camp story. He said go with that, so we began corresponding back and forth over a six year period. I added the character of Luca (based on my son). During this period, Jordan went from using hearing aids to our ultimate decision of cochlear implant surgery. The book took off after the results Jordan obtained from his cochlear implant. Whenever I lulled in writing, my father would add a piece and I would take it from there. It was a team effort! All correspondence was done by sending Word attachments to emails from Italy to Baltimore and then West Palm Beach where my father currently resides.

SPW: You've worked as an English teacher and a translator. Had you met any deaf children or adults prior to having a son who is deaf?

JCDD: I was 24 years old when Jordan was born. I had had no prior experience with working with deaf children nor had I ever even held a baby before him. I remember working at a fast food place in the mall when I was sixteen years old and a really good-looking guy my age walked up to the counter to order. He was wearing hearing aids. He said, "Hello" and placed his order. As soon as he left, my eyes started tearing up and I asked to take my break. I cried, sobbed for the entire thirty minute break, seeing that guy wearing hearing aids and talking majorly affected me and I could not understand why. I tried to take a sign language course each one of my four years of college and there was always a schedule conflict that prohibited me from taking the course.

SPW: Can you explain a bit about your family's decision for Jordan to get a cochlear implant?

JCDD: When my son was six months old, I showed his picture to a psychic and the first thing she said was, "Your son has music in his ears." This was the phrase I remembered most when I was given the news that my son was deaf and it helped me to perceive deafness in a different way. Jordan wore hearing aids for eight years and had speech therapy three times a week for every one of those years. When he was eight years old, he was doing well in school but he was suffering with his peers. In Tuscany we are famous for using bad words and while his peers were moving along in language even this type of language, he was falling further and further behind socially. I saw him suffering. I decided that if we had chosen the oral approach and the cochlear implant was an option- years earlier it hadn't been because he had quality gain from his hearing aids despite his profound deafness - then we should go ahead with the surgery to offer him every possibility to hear as well as possible. The cochlear implant would provide sound more similar to the way we hear as opposed to the hearing aids that were like "two bombs in his ears" as described by my audiologist. My husband and I made the decision together and three months after this decision, Jordan had his surgery in Pisa. The cochlear implant has changed our lives. My son's world literally opened before him, his emotions, his perspective on relationships, his schoolwork, and his self-esteem. He is proud of himself and is the first to describe the changes in him before and after the implant. A few months after the implant surgery, my father asked Jordan how much was his hearing had improved. Jordan responded “One-thousand percent.”

SPW: What advice would you give to young people who are reading your books for the first time?

JCDD: I would like every child reading this book to see themselves as I see my own son, as a strong, sensitive, extraordinary individual. We each have a quality or ability that makes us unique, whether it's in sports, art, music, dance, etc. Focus on what makes you special and you will find the strength with the support of the unconditional love family (Mom and Dad - as annoying as we may be) and your siblings (a sister in this case) - to persevere and overcome all difficulties and obstacles – and realize that nothing is impossible.

Baseball imitates life and life imitates baseball. In either case you go through a roll-a coaster of highs and lows, trials and tribulations, celebrations and setbacks, but with patience we get another chance to show our true colors – to overcome obstacles or difficult times. Hopefully, RALLY CAPS sends that message. And what better than a “Rally Cap” to be waved and to represent that little extra mojo late in the game to help spur your team to a come-from-behind victory.

SPW: Do you have plans for writing another book with these characters?

JCDD: The RALLY CAPS sequel is in the works, what my son doesn't know is that he will be writing a Note to the Reader! Hopefully, this one won't take another six years to write!

For more information about the book and to read an article written about Jordan in Volta Voices, visit