Sunday, February 28, 2010


My friend Sonia, her daughter Federica, Sofia and I were hanging out in Jordan's room reviewing her multiplication tables. Sofia's innate ability for manipulating people and situations in her favor never ceases to amaze me, really. When she wants something, she has this tongue that psychologically attempts to destroy her prey, and she finds the solution to the problem. Multiplication tables are a bit different, either you know the solution...or you don't.

Problem number 1: Sofia would like to have a friend come over to play and my response is no.
- "Mommy, can I call Chiara?"
- "Jordan has a friend over and I don't."
- "I finished all my homework."
- "Don't you love your daughter?"
- "You had a friend come over today, Mommy."
- "If I have a friend over then you can do your work in peace."

Ok, Sofia, call Chiara.

Problem number 2: 4x7=?

- 27?
- "I give up!"

I look at my daughter. She stares back at me waiting for me to give her the answer.
She continues staring.
She begins squirming.
I say, "Today I worked, mowed the lawn, cleaned the house, ran four loads of laundry, had friends over for both you and Jordan and go to battle every single day because I must be able to shop for cute clothes for you, and you have the nerve to say I GIVE UP!?"

So, she turns to Sonia, who had been talking to her daughter during this tirade, and asks, "Sonia, what's 4x7?"
Sonia replies, "28."

Sofia looks at me, smiles and smugly says,"I'm sorry Mommy, the answer's 28."

She is my daughter.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Stereo-Typically Deaf

A facebook group with a main interest in disability posted a video in Italian- one of those feel-good videos where everyone regardless of disability or non-disability lives in peace, harmony and love and you get that gushy, mushy feeling inside...only no, I had a little bit of a problem with one of the lines.

You see, they portrayed people in wheelchairs, blind and yes, Deaf. To represent the Deaf they showed a picture of the alphabet in sign language with the following written on top: "And my voice is barely heard"

No no no no no no no

We live in the year 2010. Deaf individuals speak and I can assure you that their voices are not "Barely able to be heard".

Why are stereotypes of Deafness still represented by the sign language alphabet??????? Perhaps because that is how the media portrays Deafness? Is that really an appropriate image for a video portraying Deafness? What would be the perfect image or sentence that would cover it all?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's a Tuscan Thing

Sometimes I seriously look around and wonder where the hell am I and what the hell am I doing here? I dropped Sofia at school nine minutes late this morning, but I still have my car injury collar on, so I can do anything and be forgiven. Then, I went to the bar for a cappuccino and croissant with marmelade with my girlfriend breakfast club and swiped the newspaper from the "boy" (six seventy year olds without teeth) breakfast club...with finesse.

We huddled over the paper, read the horoscope- I'm deep like that, and jumped when some woman dropped her glass that shattered all over the floor. Nothing new. However, when we walked outside to sit and talk a little more on the bench..there was this horrifying smell...


Someone was awake and cooking stew or something oniony at 8ofreakingclockinthemorning. I sat there digesting my sweet cappuccino to the stench of old woman cooking. THAT IS SO WRONG! I then tried to imagine any American I know cooking at 8 o'clock on a Wednesday morning...


To make matters worse, I got in my car to head to my insurance company's office and as I passed a Tuscan field, I glanced to the right and saw an OLD WOMAN wearing a doo-rag bonnet lookin' thing, a skirt and an apron picking something from the ground. There was something about the skirt and apron combo that screamed ITALIAN. The American version would have been coveralls and a cool bandana with an iPod clearly visible.


Monday, February 22, 2010

The Fence

I went through a period where I would sit Indian-style on a bench in our court watching my kids play and there's this wooden fence that separates our court from the Tuscan hills- when they first built that fence, I thought it was the most beautiful fence.

I would gaze over those Tuscan hills, and I had this overwhelming urge to smash that fence.

Strangely, six months passed and one of the wooden logs in the three-tier fence fell down. I saw a minor break in the fence and took a deep breath. Those hills seemed closer.

Every six months another wooden log somehow fell down from that one spot, and now there is this gaping hole in the fence. Unbelievable. Between the gaping hole and the hills, there is a huge field and I know there are snakes. Terrifies me.
Yet, I have this uncontrollable desire to get naked and break for the hills.


People ask me all the time if I'm planning on moving back to the States. No, I'm trapped in Tuscany. But, at the end of the day, trapped is a state of mind...and my mind is free.

Jordan plays soccer and hide-and-go-seek with his friends in that court, and Sofia Madyson rides her bike like a champ, round and round that court.
And I sit on the bench and breathe.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Unmatching Socks

Last night- I came home, threw on my pjs and a pair of socks- one purple and one grey- in bed by 8:30 pm. I am destroyed. It has been one of those steamrollin' weeks that knock you out and keep on rolling back and forth over your soul. I have finally found an equilibrium between work and kids, so the one night I have alone- I sleep:-)

I got a killer email from the Newborn Hearing Screening Congress, but I can't talk about that yet until it's finalized..just know that good things are on the way.

I have spent ninety-five percent of my blog complaining about being in limbo, but for the first time, I am enjoying the limbo mode, at least in regard to my personal life. I'm finding that separation is kind of like going through the death of a close loved one and there is a mourning period. Moments of sadness, despair, will I be able to pay the bills and is there life after separation strike at unwanted times, but my kids are so damn cute and full of life that I know something is working out okay.

I think I may almost be ready to be funny again, sexy is just not in the cards right now- especially with unmatching socks, but funny may be coming soon.

I was preparing for the ped courses on Valentine's Day with my fb page open and the chat popped up. It was a guy I went to elementary school with who told me he had done work in Early Intervention. He then told me that when we were in elementary school, he had a crush on me!!!! Me!!! I was like, really???? He said, yeah, an older woman!! Hahahahahaha. He then told me I was a triple threat.(???)I said, Um, what's a triple threat? He said, "Beautiful, smart and funny." I looked down at my sweatshirt, plaid pjs and black and blue unmatching socks and said, "Marry me." Hahahaha- okay, this sounds ridiculous for a thirty-eight year old woman to be vanting about a fb chat moment, but that chat, my friends, came at just the right moment:-)

Of course, that was about thirty years ago, but I consider him to be a very intelligent child-turned man.

Can you tell I've lost my mind this week???

Anyway, between cars, trains, powerpoints, hospitals and desperation, the fleeting moments that make you laugh out loud are to be appreciated.

Child moment:

Jordan: Sofia's calling Nonna
Mamma: Sofia can call Nonna
Jordan: Sofia called me idiot
Sofia: Jordan called me fat
Mamma: Go to bed.

My children are just so adorable. I bought Sofia new undershirts and socks because I can NEVER find a pair of matching socks in this house...apparently she stole the bag, took them to Luca's and hid them in the corner under her bed. Thank God they were found and will be re-delivered to this house, because tonight she is sleeping with one green sock and one fuscia sock- she is not too happy about that-I'm preparing her to become a woman just like her Mamma.

May God help her.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I'm still recovering.
Yesterday was a very long day, and I think I'm kind of still analyzing all of it in my exhausted brain.
First of all, the fact that the Tuscan Pediatricians committed to including the parental perspective in a two day course on newborn hearing screening is mindblowing to me and they gave me three hours- when does that happen in Italy? One course down...nine to go:-)
My session was after they had already had four hours of intense lessons and lunch- the lunch bomb is serious- who wants to sit through another four hours of lessons on a full stomach when you're in the land of food coma?

And yet, they did...they sat through it all and even smiled.

I need to say this- I have great respect for the work Italian pediatricians do..I've been collaborating with mine for two years now- hard to believe. They work from 8 in the morning until 8 at night and every now and then manage to stop to eat lunch, I think. Then, every other weekend there's a conference here or there- which isn't so bad, because the conferences are in really nice places- from what I can see looking from the outside in- but it's still a major commitment. And, the pediatricians here, make housecalls. They're constantly dealing with neurotic, anxious mothers who call at the first blink of a fever and literally go house to house when they aren't in their medical office. Exhausting.

So, there I was - teaching a three hour course on all of our lives. Instead of beginning the course by speaking English like I did at the Congress, because there were some repeat attendees who had already experienced that show, I started with my favorite quote:

When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of its red leaves, you will not see all the others. When the eye is not set on one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there.
(Takuan Soto)
...written in English. I made them repeat it twice, asked them if they understood the English, then said- "NEVERMIND"

and I went on to the next slide.

After two more slides I displayed the quote again, and made them repeat it aloud two more times. They weren't very enthusiastic, so I jumped up and down and was a cheerleader for a bit. They didn't quite get the meaning, so I said, "NEVERMIND"

I talked through two more slides on the role of parents in the process and projected the quote again, this time with a picture of a tree, a red leaf and an eye. I asked them to repeat it again.
I asked them if that helped...associating a visual image with a message they could not understand.
They said, "Yes."
I said, "Good and NEVERMIND!"

Two more slides and the quote. I had them repeat it. They did, they were tired and frustrated.

I explained to them that for Jordan to understand and learn a word to the point that it became part of his vocabulary, I had to repeat that word at least a hundred times. That every day, Deaf individuals are told "Nevermind".

Then I showed them the quote in Italian. I explained to them that a parent dealing with a diagnosis of profound deafness only sees one red leaf, and that red leaf can be a symbol of guilt, desperation and impotence.

She does not see that tree with all of the possibilities.

I then presented them with the possibilities...


I gave them your children:

I started with a letter written by an Italian mom who complained that her pediatrician did not listen to her concerns, she took the matter into her own hands and went directly to an Audiologist who diagnosed her child with a profound hearing loss in fifteen days time. Her pediatrician then assisted them by attending the exams and researching the cochlear implant..he then became much more attentive when performing routine audiological assessments on all of his new patients.
I introduced them to:
Rachel Chaikof by showing them a video of her speaking French;
Aiden, who ten months post activation ci can understand and say the parts of his face (adorable);
Christian who steals m-n-ms during his AV Therapy with his mom and is a stinker
Hailey...Hailey's mom sent me a video two years ago, where first she talks to Hailey without her hearing aids and you can really see how difficult it is and how frustrated Hailey gets when she can't hear..then, her mom gives her her hearing aids and we see her sign, speak and smile;
I read them another Jordan's mom's letter about her son's meningitis and how the cochlear implant improved his life and added Rachel's speech- K.L.'s daughter, who became deaf as a result of meningitis and who learned sign and speech together;
Val's kids and my kids were shown to say that it does not matter whether your kids are both deaf or not...the important thing is that they have a brother or sister to love and be loved by them;
Lotte Sofi...whose parents are creative and involved and who educate at an international level;
I read Christina's post about when she found out Lily was negative for the Connexin 26 gene;
I showed two ci activation videos- one where a child smiles and another where she cries- reactions to hearing for the first time;
And I told them our story and why it is so important to listen to parents, to provide the correct information and resources and that there are many approaches to deafness...

I showed them this video...

The important thing is to respect the family, realize that each family makes choices that are most appropriate based on the needs of that family and that a collaboration between pediatricians and parents is extremely effective.

I wore a black dress, pin-striped pantyhose and shiny black boots...
Felt like a rockin' nun!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day...

I don't think my mom remembers this, but I do. As a single mom, she was always working, talking on the phone for business and busy doing what she needed to do. I was just being a child, following the weekly routine of two nights a week at my dad's, weekends at my grandparents' and the other nights at homebase. One Valentine's Day morning I awoke and hobbled into the kitchen for breakfast. On the kitchen table, to my surprise, I found the most adorable red, little bunny- mouse thing with a heart on it's stomach that said "Be Mine"!

I still remember that moment to this day, and at that moment I truly felt loved.

This year I gave Sofi and Jordan glitter snow globes with a big red heart in the middle...and I hope that one day they'll remember that their mom thought of them on Valentine's Day...even after they, too, will have lived chocolate, roses, romantic dinners and poetry written with love.

Friday, February 12, 2010


So, I brake and wait to yield to the oncoming cars when WHAM! I get smashed from the rear. I sit in my car and think...AGAIN!!!!!!!!! This would be the third time in a year I've been hit in the sit still position. I see the culprit approach me and he starts yelling at me, "You started to move forward and then stopped!!!! There's no damage to your car. You moved!"
I stared at him. Sat there for another forty seconds and opened my door, my seatbelt was still on. I said, "First of all I was not moving, nor did I move. Second of all, YOU just smashed into my car, so change the tone of your voice. Considering you just whacked me, I need a second." I closed my car door and sat there another ten seconds as I gave him the slime look.
When I opened my door for the second time, his tone changed and he became more apologetic. (asshole) He asked me if I was okay, apologized for talking about my car first before asking me how I was and called his daughter to make it seem like he was a good guy. (asshole)
I decided not to call the police, pulled over to the side and he gave me his information. It took me another ten minutes to pull myself together.

I thought to myself, "Well, who should I call first?"

*No one*

I spent the morning in the emergency room, alone. As I was sitting in the room waiting to have my x-rays done, a ninety year old man lying in a hospital bed in the middle of the waiting room flagged down one of the technicians and whispered, "Excuse me, sir, please have patience with a ninety year old man, but I'm feeling kind of scared and I was wondering if you could please call my wife to stay here with me. I don't want to break down, but I don't feel well all of a sudden."

The technician (half-asshole) said, "Well, we don't usually allow this type of thing, but I'll go get your wife."

I was holding my breath.

The technician returned with this adorable elderly woman who looked fresh from the beauty parlor and you should have seen that man's eyes light up when he saw her...his saviour, his anchor, his wife.

I smiled through the flood.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thank You For Your Help...

Thank you for your emails and for sharing your kids with me. It is extremely humbling when parents send me videos and discuss personal moments with be shared with pediatricians to try to help the next family. Please keep sending. It's a series of ten encounters- fifty pediatricians each course.

Which brings me to my own family: Jordan and Sofia are doing well aside from the fact that Jordan has bronchitis. I've been busy trying to get it all done. I just lived a really ugly experience with an Italian agency that contacted me for a job interview. I'm always looking for new opportunities especially when they include travelling and meeting new people. I was contacted for a job interview with a woman. I arrived on time for the interview, however she was unable to be there due to an emergency, so I spoke to her associate. He was very nice and talked to me about a part-time job dealing with English-speaking clients by phone and email that wouldn't require much time in the office, just the morning or the afternoon- and that every now and then, I may be asked to travel to Dubai.

*Sounds good to me*

The woman I was supposed to have the interview with sent me a TEXT MESSAGE, did not call, sent me a text message to arrange an appointment for the next day. I said okay and added a smiley- not very professional of me, but after receiving a text message request for an interview, I felt free to be a little less professional.

I looked over their website and thought it was professionally done and interesting and...that it needed to be translated in English.

The next morning I arrived on time for the second interview and met this woman, who was a very good-looking woman with a firm handshake- can't stand weak handshakers. She sat behind the desk and started talking. I believe the first ten minutes of the interview we had major communication problems. She was discussing a job totally different from the one the other guy had proposed. First of all, she asked me if I was available to fly to Dubai on Tuesday- keep in mind I have the pediatric course on Monday- two and a half hours from where I live and I finish at 7 pm. Then, she insisted that if I went to Dubai, it would be the beginning of a relationship that would not require travelling and only light work interpreting or translating that I could easily do from home. Sounded perfect to me! Even though it had been proposed in a totally different manner.

We continued our conversation in a less-stressed manner, once she started to understand that the other person had explained a different type of job and that he had in no way, shape or form requested that I fly to Dubai in six days time. She mentioned that she wanted a woman and I asked why? She responded that they deal with male clients and that women have better interpersonal communication skills than men in certain types of situations, that she had to work closely with the interpreter and that the interpreter had to have a psychological read on the clients to grasp the subtleties- she said men did not have that ability. I agreed.

I liked her because she had obviously worked hard to reach the level of success she had obtained and she was obviously a woman with balls.

After the meeting I ran home to pick up Jordan to take him to the Doctor because he was up all night coughing the night before and Luca and my mother-in-law, who spent the weekend with him said that they were worried. While I was in the car, I started laughing.
He said, "Why are you laughing?"
I said, "Nothing."
He said, "Tell me!"
I said, "Well I might have the possibility of flying to another country for three days to work as an interpreter just because I speak English."
He said, "Why might?"
I said, "Because I don't know if I can leave you and Sofia for three days."
He said, "Why not, then I can finally stay with my dad for three days in a row."

I smiled. I was a little saddened by that comment, but I was happy that Jordan was happy to be able to spend three days with his dad. It was kind of like him giving me permission to go.

So, I sent Luca a request to watch the kids so I could seize this opportunity that most likely would not pass by again. He said he'd think about it. Three hours passed. He still had to think about it. I told him I had to know so I could give an answer. No response.

I called my mother-in-law and she said, "Absolutely, if you need me to be there for Jordan and Sofia, I'm there, especially if it's a job opportunity."

I cried.

I'm not going to Dubai, it fell through...but it was really nice to know that finally, without needing to fight, beg or plead, someone was there to help.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Three Hours with Pediatricians: Request for Resources

I was thankful for five minutes with seven hundred pediatricians. Tuscany has given me three own three hours to use as I choose to teach 500 pediatricians the parental perspective on newborn hearing screening and deafness. I have created a program of what I want to share, but since you've been with me throughout this entire two year long journey and we've debated, agreed, laughed and hung out-please send me resources. Send me studies, send me anything that has helped your child become the well-rounded, happy, functioning child he/she has become. If you have any youtube videos or websites that you think are important; if you want to send me pix of your kids with cis or hearing aids or signing that I can use on my slides, leave the link in the comments section or email me at I have until Wednesday to translate everything.

And I will give it to them...the pediatricians who took the questionnaire and realized they just did not have enough information and that they needed more...the pediatricians parents criticize for not having listened- I'll have 500 of them in my hands...for three hours.

God, I mean, I'm only a Mom.



Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Today Jordan spent thirty minutes memorizing a poem on the Holocaust for his Anthology class. It took him thirty minutes to memorize the poem. I have to repeat that because years ago it would have taken him thirty hours to memorize a word. Our kids grow and they progress and they eventually get where they need to just takes a lot of patience and guidance.

Next to the poem was an image of an emaciated Holocaust victim and the title of the poem was "If this is a man". Your basic nightmare of a poem requiring deep thought and in depth analysis of what it meant to live in the concentration camps and have your life decided by a "yes" or a "no".

We concentrated on memorizing and not analyzing, it's not exactly the perfect time to analyze Holocaust poetry here. So, Sofia was sitting on my right and Jordan was in front of me. Every time Jordan started to repeat the verses, Sofia asked a question. She is the instigator with the wicked smile. Jordan would freak out because he was struggling to get the words out, I let him struggle so if there was chaos in his class when he had to read, he would be able to get through it anyway.

Then, he reached the point where he could take it no longer. He began saying, "If This is a Man" by Primo Levi in this deep- I-might-become-a-man-soon kind of voice and my lower lip started twitching. Well, he saw it, got all pissed off and we both started hysterically laughing. So, he tried again: "If This is a Man......" Bwahahahahahahahahah- I spit out the juice and he fell on the floor.
Sofia looked at us like we were crazy then started laughing, just by looking at our faces.

The three of us laughed for a good twenty minutes, I can't remember the last time I saw my kids laugh like that- and it hurt...a lot.