Friday, January 31, 2014

My New Favorite Deaf Celebrity

You aren't going to see a ton of deaf people in the media. So whenever I see someone on TV with hearing loss I'm instantly drawn to their story. Many of you know I watch Switched at Birth for one reason- the ASL. So when I was on the ABC family website and I saw that the character Emmit, played by Sean Berdy was the weekly crush I clicked to get the scoop. Normally I wouldn't care about some teenage pretty boy, but because Sean Berdy is deaf I was curious what type of hearing loss he has. Was he born deaf? Does he use ASL exclusively? Are his parents deaf? When did he begin acting? All I could do was laugh when I clicked on the link and it said "Sean Berdy is such a heart throb! He has gorgeous eyes, great hair, and a charming personality. That is why he is our new weekly crush!"

Silly me! I forgot their target audience is half my age and listening to One Direction. And here I was interested in this guy's story or anything that he might have to say.

Then last August my best friend mentioned one of the contestants on Project Runway had an interpreter and a cochlear implant.

Say no more! I immediately started following the show and when they highlighted him on the Lifetime website it actually did elaborate about his life story this time. So that was neat.

Fast forward to this year and I saw this Duracell commercial, which features Seahawk's player Derrick Coleman and talks about the struggles he had growing up deaf and playing football.

I couldn't hold the tears back when I watched it the first time. I say first time because I have watched it many times. It's very inspiring. On top of that he responded to a letter that a little girl wrote to him about how she looks up to him and how he has overcome similar challenges in his life. So from that point on I was rooting for the Seahawks, and that was before they were in the SuperBowl. Granted, Richard Sherman's cocky rant was enough to make me want to jump ship, but as far as I am concerned Coleman's humility, even in the midst of all the publicity he has gotten, is enough to make up for it. If you go to you can find the front page story with more details about Coleman's journey. If you go to his Facebook page you'll find his most recent status update that says FAITH in all caps followed by many exclamation marks and the scripture from Hebrews 11:1-3. On top of all of that, he gave a shout out to a boy that graduated from SJ's school a couple years ago and he even posted a link to help raise funding for him to get a special football helmet designed to work with the Cochlear Implant.

How cool to have a deaf role model playing in the Super Bowl. I'm not the biggest Football fan, but I'll be rooting for #40 on Sunday! And to Coleman, in his own words; No Excuses. Play Hard. Have FAITH!!! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Blizzard Bag

Today is the 8th snow day we've had this winter. Cold Day may be a better description considering half of the time schools are closed not even due to road conditions, but because of extreme cold. Having spent the past 15 years in Texas this is fairly new to me. I love a day off school as much as the next guy, but especially right after Christmas break I was a bit disappointed about the kids missing school because they were ready to get back into the swing of things (okay maybe that was just me), and I would rather not have to drag out the school year when they are chomping at the bit to have summer vacation. That's where the blizzard bags come in. Have you heard of this?

Public schools are obligated to have x amount of full school days a year. Some snow days are accounted for, but after a while if you miss too many days from snow then they end up tacking on extra days at the end of the year to make up for it. This is never fun. Not only because the teachers, parents, and of course students have been preparing for that glorious last day of school, but as far practical purposes the students aren't even going to be in the right mindset for learning and it more than likely just becomes a formality that wastes everyones time.

So last week when the kids were off school AGAIN I saw an email from the principal where the subject line was Blizzard Bag, my mind immediately went to Diary Queen. Then I opened up attachment to find that it had nothing to do with ice-cream, but was several worksheets that were to make up for the time lost through the snow day. Our school district allows for 5 "calamity days" and after that they have now approved up to 3 blizzard bag days where the students can do their work from home in order to count as a school day. I love this concept! I had Z do his work right away last time and today I already have it printed off and ready to go, but you do actually have 2 weeks to turn it in. The older students have online programs that they use. For the students that don't have computer access you can do it at the school on another date.

I guess we only have one more blizzard bag day left and then we are on our own, but every little bit helps. Here are a few of the times we've been out in the snow when it wasn't too cold and we weren't too sick.

The Cincinnati Nature center is beautiful and we got a membership for Christmas this year.

 I gave SJ a sled to pull and she insisted I put Ezie in the sled.

 This is at a nearby park that we frequent and the "slopes" are terrifying great! Some people were even snowboarding.

Three kids at the top of the hill

And here they are at the bottom. Ezie wasn't upset, but he never seemed amused. The other two LOVE sledding! 

We'll stay inside today because it's 1 degrees… degree… it's one out? I don't even know how to say it. Anyway, it's just too cold. Whew.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

That Emotional Time of Year

Just giving you a heads up, this season (the whole big chunk of time between February and May) can be a little emotional for me. I am certain it won't always be like this, but as I get ready for SJ's 4th birthday it brings up a lot of memories from the last two years. SJ was not diagnosed with hearing loss on her 2nd birthday, but it was at her 2 year well child visit that they referred us to an ENT to have her hearing checked and it progressed from there. So I will probably be writing about some of my feelings here on my blog. I worry that hashing through all of this all over again may not be the most popular topic on the internet. The bad news is I don't make a dime off of this blog, the good news is I guess that means I can write about whatever I want. Journals, essays, and poetry are how I work through things. I've used this approach to cope with life's struggles from as early as I could make any sense with a pencil. I would write to express myself. It hasn't changed in 25 years except I type now.

SJ was officially diagnosed with profound hearing loss exactly 2 months after her birthday,

This was taken at the Doctor's office the day she was diagnosed. 

 but if you round down we had two years of not knowing she was deaf and now it's about two years that we have known. So if you look at it that way we are coming up on a major milestone. I'm becoming more acquainted with the life of a special needs mom, and less familiar with life as I knew it before. I remember being shocked to know that SJ was deaf. I was confused and overwhelmed about the language, the surgeries, the IEPs, and everything else that it has taken me two years to almost have the hang of. I am so grateful to have some of the most challenging decisions behind us, but as I approach this significant date it comes with some reluctance. There is still a little part of that shock that resurfaces, the part that says "did that really happen?"
Most days I don't think about any of this, at all. So what if my daughter has a magnet inside her head and her "ears" have flashing lights on them, whatever.

 I have become totally comfortable with all of this, but the thing that I long for is having her caught up developmentally. They estimate that she will be at the deaf school and continuing special therapy until 2nd grade. So about 4 more years. No one can predict for sure what tomorrow will hold. I should know that by now, but either way I can't waste the next 4 years wanting them to be over! So I have learned to have our own mold as a family. We communicate a little differently than other families and our lifestyle and schedule looks different than what I ever imagined, but that doesn't mean we can't embrace it. It's like being engaged. Sure, you would like to be married, that's why you are engaged, but being engaged is such a celebratory season of it's own. There are the parties, showers, photos, saying yes to the dress, and special time with loved ones. I wasn't engaged for very long. Less than 3 months actually. Maybe that's why I have such a hard time with this analogy. Seriously though, we have some major breakthroughs on the horizon and a lot to look forward to. How much crying that entails is hard to say, but there will be lots of smiling too.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Tales of the Teeth

When Z looses teeth it's a production. I don't mean that he is dramatic about it, but it's never as simple as- Tooth falls out. Goes under pillow. Tooth fairy comes. The end.

 It all began on Christmas eve of 2012. I have it documented here on Messy Mom. He lost his first tooth Christmas eve, which I am sure made the tooth fairy excited because that meant she could carpool with Santa. Much to our surprise when Z woke up Christmas morning there were two teeth missing. I panicked thinking he swallowed it, but he informed us that he stuck it under his pillow in the middle of the night. We were lucky enough to be able to sneak the tooth out from underneath his pillow and replace it with an additional dollar while he was explaining the whole story, but it was a close one.

The next significant lost tooth happened in June last year. It was after church and the kids were running around like wild maniacs, the way they always do when church lets out. Suddenly Z freaks out and announced that he lost his tooth. He literally lost it. I once again was worried that he swallowed it. Although, I don't know why that is such a concern of mine. If he did swallow it he obviously hadn't choked. Fortunately a friend of ours spotted the little lost tooth and we were able to save it for the tooth fairy that evening.

It was cute to see him missing that front tooth. He seemed like such a big boy. Then several months went by and he was still sporting that hillbilly look. Month after month his tooth did not come in.

He had swim lessons, the first day of school, his 6th birthday, his first school photo, Halloween, everything over the coarse of the next 6 months took place without that front tooth! Why was the other front tooth so far behind? Was it going to fall out the moment the first one grew in? I began to wonder.

Eventually in November he lost the other front tooth.

It was just in time for him to sing the classic "all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth" and that's what he got.

They both grew in together right at Christmas time which leads me to believe the first one came out a little prematurely. There is a backstory that I hadn't mentioned. There is always a backstory.

The day Z lost his tooth at the church the kids were playing around with a child harness. You know, the kind that looks like a little animal back pack with a tail. Or some people compare it to a leash. I don't necessarily like to think of it like that, but it doesn't help when SJ has Z parading around in public on all fours while she walks him. She was very serious about this. These photos were taken on the day Z lost his tooth.

Apparently at the time of the incident she was wearing the back pack and he was pulling on the handle with his teeth. One swift jerk from her and out flew the tooth. He bled a little, but he didn't seem that upset, so I guess it helped that it was a baby tooth that would have come out anyway. Although, maybe it would have waited a few months if it didn't have the extra encouragement.

A while later he lost another tooth, like LOST lost, again. He probably did swallow it, I don't know. I felt bad for him though, so I left a note from the tooth fairy stating that she heard he had lost a tooth and gave him a dollar anyway. So Z responded with a note of his own along with returning the money. I guess his conscience couldn't handle the weight of accepting a gift when he had nothing to give? I dunno. He's one of kind that kid. Here is the letter.

I'll translate it for you

 "Dear The Tooth Fairy,
You are cool and I loved that card that you sent me. And I love you. The End. Yours." 

I like how he tried to copy the cursive signature I left on the original note. So cute.

And here is his drawing

Those are all of Z's tooth stories, at least for now. I guess he's not quite half way done, but I am expecting the rest to be a little less eventful.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Are These Two Brothers?

From the moment Ezie was born he reminded me of his big brother Z. He was a little smaller and he has his own personality no doubt, but I couldn't help but have flash backs of my life 5 years before. As he grew, he changed, and his eyes were so blue and everyone thought he looked like J. So I thought, Hmm, I guess he won't look like his brother after all. That stage didn't last though. For the past 5 months J and I can't help but be amazed at how much Ezie reminds us of Z at that age! So I got out the photo albums yesterday, and I apologize because the first two photos of Z are just a picture of a picture taken on my phone, so they aren't the best quality. 

Z at one week and Ezie at two weeks.

Z and Ezie on their birthdays

Z at 15 months and Ezie a couple days ago (15 months)

Now, I understand all babies look alike to a degree. I also realize you can take pictures of someone making the same face angled the exact way and find similarities, that is NOT what I did here. These are  just pics that I pulled together and was SHOCKED when I put them side by side. I could show you dozens more. Seriously! These brothers have their own unique ways about them and they are not identical, but still, I just can't get over the resemblance. Ezie eyes are totally a different color than Z. Also, Z had a lazy eye. The above photo of him is one of the last ones where he doesn't have glasses. So even though glasses don't change the structure of your face they do change the way you appear. From this point on the side by side photos will be a little easier to distinguish whose who for that reason if nothing else. 

Maybe they'll change more and look nothing alike. Or maybe when they are grown Z will have contacts and  people will get them confused all the time. Only time will tell. Either way they are both adorable. I love my boys! 

May 2013. Z- 5 years old, Ezie- 7 months.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Visit From The Cold And Aunt Flo

In case the title doesn't already indicate, this post will have a tad bit TMI. Believe it or not there are a handful of gents that read messy mom and I would hate for them to not get a fair warning.

First off, after our holiday trip to Texas we were welcomed back with some dangerously cold weather that kept the schools shut down two days in a row.

 Having surprise days off is always a treat so I hate to whine about it, but the bitter sub zero days are nothing like the fluffy white snow days where you can play outside. So we went from being trapped in a car on our way to Ohio to being trapped in the apartment.  

It wasn't so bad. J had made a big pot of chili and being in the apartment felt spacious after being together in the car for 24 hours. The trouble hit when after two years of no period (thank you pregnancy and breast feeding) I started my cycle. Of all the times, it was the morning that the inclement weather hit. When the dangerous weather was predicted we got food, we got diapers, we made sure we had plenty of toilet paper. What didn't we have? Pads. So first thing that Monday morning I had to send J out into the freezing, windy, icy warfare for one thing and one thing only (but lots of it)! He did have to phone a friend call me from the feminine hygiene aisle while he stared blankly at the endless boxes of pink, but he managed to stock me up. Man of year I tell ya, Man of the year.

So back at the camp J and I were discussing the actual temperature verses the "feels like" temperature. 

You know what I am talking about. On the news or your weather app, or whatever, it will say the temperature outside is 45 degrees, but feels like 32. Or this one is called "real feel" (which I had never heard before).

Where does this "feels like" temp come from anyway? A quick search on google tells me it is

 “the temperature at the reference humidity level producing the same amount of discomfort as that experienced under the current ambient temperature and humidity”. 

Um, yeah right. You can get all scientific if you want, but I think I know what's going on here. It's the same way I got 7 hours of sleep, but because all 3 kids were in the bed it FEELS LIKE I only had 4. Or, I know I had a full breakfast, but I am a busy nursing mom, so when I pass by dunkin donuts it FEELS LIKE I am still hungry. I can just imagine the hard-nosed meteorologist that came up with this. He's sitting outside all bundled up in his winter coat and he mentions to his intern "Whew, it's got to be like 20 degrees out here!" The nerdy intern responds, "with all due respect sir it's actually only 37". "Yeah, well it FEELS like it's 20 and I am putting that in the forecast!". 

Whether it's sleep, hunger, or the forecast the "Feels Like" is almost never for the better. It's always something like 90 degrees, but FEELS LIKE 108.

 Very rarely do I think or READ that it's 95 degrees outside, but don't worry it feels like 80. Then again when I am on Pinterest and I'm short on time because I need to be cleaning it somehow FEELS LIKE I have all the time in the world. Speaking of which, I really need to get off the computer. This has been a fun discussion though. Stay warm friends. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Big Announcement

Okay, so first of all I am not pregnant. I am the guilty party that always assumes that someone is pregnant when they make a statement like "big announcement". And I'll admit, I am always a little disappointed when the announcement is anything other than having a baby. Now that I have gotten that out of the way let me explain what the less-cute, but still life-altering announcement is.

In the past 2 years that we've been mostly unemployed it's felt like the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the desert (I almost said dessert. 40 years of dessert wouldn't be so bad). In this season of uncertainty so many people have told J who he needs to become or what he needs to do. They are encouraging words, but it only makes it more confusing when there is so much conflicting advice. He is a talented musician, minister, carpenter, designer and more. The problem is he hasn't been able to find a way to make a steady income with any of it, despite everyone agreeing that he is amazing and should be able to rake in the dough just by looking at a job opportunity. Unfortunately that is not the case. As you all know we came to Ohio with our basic necessities and no plan other than to get SJ into a good school with a good audiologist.

Ohio has some wonderful programs for job placement. You can't get government assistance here without being a part of the workforce coalition, which is the way it should always be (but I'll try not to get too political here). When a professional advisor sat down to talk with J about our situation, he presented the opportunity for J to go back to school. He could get a grant to cover the cost of tuition, and they would look at his skill sets, entry level pay scale, and projected growth in each field to see what the best career choice would be.

It's been almost 15 years since J has been in school. Returning to school has always been something he has kept in the back of his mind, but you know how the back of the mind works. Stuff stays back there forever, unless something happens that is jarring enough to jostle everything inside of you. Which is our story. Everything came down to a mathematical statistic of what would be pretty close to guaranteeing us some stability in the next couple years. I know it's not as simple as it sounds, but after so many doors seemingly shut in his face, this is the open door that we've been praying for. I am sure you've already figured out what the big announcement is, but this semester J has started going to school full time. He's going to Cincinnati State majoring in Computer Science and Database Management.

This is a picture of the Library although most of those books are for school. 

 It will definitely be a challenge, but IT work is something that J is good at and enjoys doing.  I love seeing him inspired and motivated again. You can see life in his eyes knowing that there is a light at the end of this tunnel. I am so proud of him. It takes a lot of courage to go back to school at 37 years old. The "it's never too late" mentality shows the commitment and dedication that he has to succeed. It won't be easy and we will all have to make sacrifices, especially J, but it will be worth it. If you know Dave Ramsey's teaching, then you know what I mean when I say it will be a season of gazelle intensity.

Most of his classes are online and since our apartment is way to chaotic to concentrate J goes to school at Starbuck's.

We are still unsure about how it is all going to work, but I know that it will. Jeremiah 29:11 says God has plans for us to prosper and not be harmed, to have a future filled with hope.

This was his first day going to the actual campus since enrollment. Yay! 

So a big thank you to all have been praying for us, and please keep them coming as we embark upon yet another chapter in our journey.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Retro Kindergartener

Z's school has several different dress up days celebrating how long they have been in school. I love costumes and vintage clothes so I took the opportunity and ran with it. Or, at least as much as I could without spending any money. Actually, I did spend about $5 total because I bought a couple items from the thrift store. Seriously though, the bell bottoms were in a 50 cents bin. You can't beat that!

His elementary school kicked it all off with 50's day which was on the 50th day of school. Of course there is the obvious Grease Lighting look with the white tshirt and leather jacket, but I did my research and this outfit is equally suitable.

It's kind of Richie Cunningham from Happy Days. 

Then we move into the 70's for the 70th day of school. Once again, I do realize they were expecting all the boys to come in tie dye (because that was the suggested attire), but after relentless online searches it looked like this ensemble could work.

This time the inspiration was more like Eric Foreman from that 70s show.

Then last week, after being bumped back several times due to snow, we celebrated the 80th day of school. That's right, the 80's. I am old enough to have a child dress like the decade that I am from. Weird. 

We went with Mario Brothers for this one because the game is from the 80's, and he needed a haircut anyway so I went all out and gave him a  mohawk. 

He looked adorable. The only problem was that everything that he said with the mohawk made him sound like a little punk. For example even though he might have said "I can't believe it's time for bed" It sounds more like a teenager voice "I can't believe you are making me go to bed MOM! That's totally lame. I have to fight for my right to party." Aside from that he looks cute. I have never shaved his head and I don't plan on it, so until it all grown back he will rock the hawk. 

We have one month left before the 4th and final dress up day. For the 100th day of school the students will dress like they are 100 years old! So instead of a blast from the past it's more like a portal into the future. I've got big plans for the little old man. Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Littlest Christmas Star

One of the greatest gifts I have received this Holiday season is being able to hear SJ talk. Last year she had ZERO words and this year when we walked into my parents house she saw the Christmas tree and said tree and star! she can say snowman (even if it's just snow, everything is called snowman). She says hot when we are warming up with a hot chocolate or at the fireplace. When she sees the jolly man in the red suit she says Santa- ho ho ho. She says help me when she wants us to open a new toy, and she says all done and sings a simple version of the clean up song after playing (not every time, but the point is she CAN).  The list goes on and I am so grateful and proud of her progress. She works hard and although we've hit some bumps in the road, I know better than to take any word for granted.

SJ had her first Christmas pageant this year. I bought her a special dress and a bow that jingled. She loved it and wanted to wear it around the house.


I tried to tell her, and sign to her, that she could wear it later, but she didn't understand. She cried. She grabbed the dress and screamed MINE! Then she signed Beautiful, beautiful. I felt so bad that I had to take it away and that we are no where near the place in our communication where she could understand "you have to save this dress for your winter program at school". I know that even a hearing three year old would more than likely still not comply,  but at least they would know why you were taking it away.

When the time came for her to wear the dress I curled her hair and my mom bought her new shoes. She was quite the Christmas princess as she stood on the stage that night.

 Her part was to say "I love you mommy, daddy, Z, baby Ezie". She didn't quite get all that out, but she signed daddy and said "ma ma daddy. Deemah. I love you mama" and the reason she said Deemah is because that is her classmates name and she saw Deemah's mom in the crowd.

The next day at the school's Christmas party Santa gave her a present.

 SJ unwrapped it to find a simple paper back book called "The Littlest Christmas Star".

I smiled and was happy for her, but when I read it aloud I realized it was so much more than just a story. It was about a boy that wanted to have a big part in his Christmas play at school, but all of the major roles were taken. His part was to dress up like the Bethlehem star and he only had one little line which was "follow me". At the end of book it talks about the bright light shining down on him. The crowd cheered, and he knew then, that even though he may have had a small part, he was a BIG star. I would say that book was more than just a gift from Santa to SJ, I think it was also a gift from my heavenly Father to me. Seeing SJ in the winter program could have been a reminder for me of how far behind she is compared to the other kids in her class. She can't speak as well as her friends and she couldn't quite muster out the words they had practiced for weeks, but still, that night as she stood up there and spoke into the microphone she was my shining star.

In SJ's fundraiser letter last year I said "please join us as we help SJ reach her fullest potential and shine on" and so many people came together to help make that happen. In fact, I have a dear friend that wanted to donate, but wasn't able to at the time. When I saw her over the holiday break she gave us a Christmas card with a generous amount inside to go toward SJ's school. What she didn't realize was that it was the EXACT amount that we owe on her tuition from last year. Isn't God good?  I am so glad SJ gets to go to this school and I'm thrilled to see and hear the progress she is making. I can't even imagine what she will be saying next Christmas. Shine on my little star. Shine on!