Thursday, December 27, 2012

I Got Yer Christmas Card Right Here

I had planned to post on Christmas Eve, but then we had a technology problem that included Brad running up a flight of stairs while holding our computer. No worries though, it took a few days but we are back in the game. I've got a pretty sweet setup now.

What these pictures cannot adequately capture is a faint, incessant beeping noise coming from the laptop. It's as though the computer is very concerned that its monitor is missing. Frankly, I'm worried, too. From where I'm sitting I can see a lot of caution warnings. Ah, well.

this is dedication, that I am willing to blog this way. this isn't even in my contract.

              The Christmas Card shot. Maybe next year I will send cards for real. Probably not. I only sent out birth announcements because my sister did it for me.                    

 I can't get this baby to smile for a picture. The second she sees the camera she makes this face. But I still love her oh man do I love this chubby, sweet, snuggly baby.

discount Christmas tree. That's why you wait til the last minute.
 This is my sister.
 And this is her baby. A brand-new, still wrinkly, baby. Evelyn makes Pia look like a behemoth.

 Christmas tree safety.
 Obligatory shot from the rear. It was always my mom's job to put on the star at the top, and it was my dad's job to take pictures of her behind and snicker quietly to himself. Of course, this was back in the day when you had to take your film to the store and get it developed and it took like, a year to come back. That was after it sat in the refrigerator for awhile first. Then my mom would flip through the Christmas pictures and pretend to be all annoyed at the butt-shots but we could tell that she secretly thought it was funny, too.

jammin' to some Christmas tunes

slammin' to some Christmas tunes

Hey Cheeks, way to help out!
We went to Midnight Mass. I know that sounds scary with 3 kids but I am not kidding. It's the best Mass of the year. Pia slept and snacked in the sling, Gianna sat limply in Brad's arms and dozed and The Dominator? The Dominator had his best Mass since last Christmas Eve. ZombieDom sat motionless in the pew, mesmerized by the Christmas decorations with a receiving blanket wrapped around him like a barber cape.    
    OMG Christmas am!!!

these poppers are the BEST. I recommend them for all ages. Thanks Aunt Monica and Uncle Richard

new boots!

Allright then. Merry Christmas, from our casa, to yours!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


 *asking for some prayers for our Pia baby....tomorrow morning, 6:30am EST is her CT scan. 4 hours of NPO for my constant snacker, plus the sedation, makes for a nervous mommy. Please pray it all goes smoothly and that our doctor gets all the information he needs to proceed. Thank you!*

Gianna lost her first tooth this past Friday. The losing of teeth is probably the most bizarre milestone of parenting. There's just something a bit off about storing bone fragments in a Ziplock baggie. What am I supposed to do with the tooth? What is my obligation here? Do I keep every.single. tooth? To what end?

I am not good at keepsakes; the best my kids can hope for is the Ziplock to be labeled with a Sharpie and shoved in my underwear drawer, where I'll stumble upon it now and again with a shudder because I really, really don't like teeth. Especially teeth no longer secured firmly to their gums.

I kinda want to throw the teeth away but oh, the heresy! Why do we do these things? Asks I, the burier of placentas under rose bushes. Maybe a little bit because I made those teeth and that placenta, they are flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone!

But mostly I think mothers have an urge to collect and commemorate, to remember and treasure because we sense that we are the storehouses of our children's memories. We alone see them in their quiet moments and loud ones, in secret and in public. We guard their stories carefully in order to dust them off and air them in the right moments. We can say to the newly-made big brother, "When you were a baby I held you so and I hummed this song and you smiled at me and I loved to look at you!" or to our nervous first-day-of-school child, "Your first time at the swimming pool you were a little bit scared but even so, you jumped right in and we said, "Look, that is what we call brave!"

We are the holders of the strange and the silly and serious and the sad and the joyful. We are here for it all, sharing in the struggles and triumphs. Our presence of mind says to our children, "I see you. I have great joy in you." We are the keepers of teeth.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

More Toddler Fashion

Posting two days in a row....somebody stop me!

Can he still be a toddler if he's going to turn 3 a month from yesterday?

 Ok, so we've got a classic here for you today.

Shirt: babyGap
PJ pants: Old Navy
Shoes: Oshkosh
The Piece de  Resistance (the undies): Carter's

I'm not sure what else to say about this outfit. I asked him how he felt about it and all he said was, "Sometimes boys wear their underwear on top." That is his latest reasoning for everything..."Boys don't take naps! Boys swallow their gum! Boys don't like shoes!" Whatever buddy.

If you're wondering whether I hesitated to take him out in public thusly attired, you give me far too much credit. Toddler fashion only counts if other people see it; of course I let him wear this out of the house.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Story Time

When I was growing up in Alaska, we lived on about an acre of wooded property on the side of a mountain. Not super super high up, but enough to where we could stand on our deck and, after stealing my dad's ancient binoculars from their cracked leather case, spy on Dall Sheep picking their way across the opposing side of the Eagle River valley.

One winter, Christmas was approaching at a worrisome pace and we had yet to procure a tree. My little brother and sister and I were very worried over this; so we hatched a plan to save Christmas. We would cut down a tree ourselves. We just had to plan it out right. My mom worked 12 hour shifts at the hospital in Anchorage some weekends while my dad was in charge of us at the homefront.

My dad was a free-range parent before free-range parenting ever became a thing. He made sure we were fed our main meals and that we didn't come to fisticuffs too often, and otherwise watched Sunday afternoon football and left us to ourselves. This was our opportunity. We suited up to venture into the great Alaskan wilderness and made a stop in the garage to get an ax, a hand saw, and our plastic pink toboggan with the yellow rope handle. We were about 8, 6, and 4 years old. Yes. With an ax. And a saw.

The air was piercingly cold and clear and the snow-covered trees muffled our boots like a secret. I could smell the smoke from wood-burning stoves lingering in the softly drifting snow. We searched until we found the most perfect tree and began chopping and sawing it free. We became so sweaty that despite the cold we removed our coats and tossed them onto the snow. Finally, with a satisfying thud, the tree came down and we loaded it onto our sled. It was awfully heavy, and the weak winter sunlight was fading quickly, so we pulled with all our might.

We were so proud of ourselves! Our own tree! I can still see the flushed cheeks of my brother and sister, their smiles from ear to ear, my sister's brown hair escaping wildly from underneath her favorite purple fleece hat. We pulled the sled with the tree all the way up to the house and went inside to tell our dad the wonderful thing we had done.

He was less than pleased, and even more so when we showed him where we'd cut the tree down; just over the property line of our neighbor. "We have all these trees, and you couldn't cut down one of ours? You had to go next door?" he demanded. But then he laughed and added, "Your mother isn't going to like this," and we knew we were now conspirators. We knew he would help us put the tree in the tree stand and string it with lights.

Years later, I was leafing through some old photo albums when I came across a series of Christmas photos. The tree in the photos was the most sparse, bedraggled thing, and I teased my mom; "I hope you didn't pay too much for this tree!"

"Oh, we didn't. Don't you remember? That is the tree you guys cut down on your own..."

With our child's eyes, it had been the fullest, most fragrant tree in the history of Christmas. What is the moral of this story? Football and children don't mix? Childhood is magical? Ax and saw safety;  think of all the things that could have gone wrong!  I don't know really, mostly I just a little bit wish  I could one day send my  kids out with an ax and a saw and let them have an adventure, and later, a story to tell.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I cannot help you not be late. I have not figured out the virtue of punctuality whilst caring for and toting about small children. But what I can give to you this Advent season are these:

Ambiguous, Legitimate-Sounding, And Technically Not-Lies, Reasons For Being Late

1) There was an environmental spill in the area (There was poop....everywhere.....the kind that needed a bath tub and soap and a whole new set of clothes for all involved.)

2) We were experiencing a slight scheduling conflict (Every single child was asleep and the house was blessedly silent and there was no way I was going to wreck that situation until the very last minute possible, even to be on time. Sorry....kinda.)

3) I was involved in an intense project and lost track of time (I was just going to have a quick little nursing sesh with the bebe before hopping in the car but I got side-tracked by her sweet milky smell and her round cheeks and pudgy wrist chub and her big, beautiful eyes gazing up at me and before I knew it, 20 minutes had gone by.)

4) We had some car trouble (No one would get in their car seat with out the power of some WWF-style wrestling moves.)

5. We had an impromptu therapy appointment go over-time (The almost three year old was losing his mind over some perceived slight and could not be induced to put on shoes or underwear and the tantrum needed a strong and nurturing mothering touch and small exorcism to reach a satisfying denouement that included shoes, undies, and getting in a motor vehicle.)

6. There was...a situation..... (All hell was breaking lose and I'm not even sure how we're all still alive and smiling and HERE. We're here, isn't that the important thing?)

And then there's always the act-confident-don't-offer-any-excuses technique whereby your confidence tricks the people waiting for you into thinking you weren't really late at all and that you meant to arrive at the time you arrived and it was all part of your well-executed plans. I'm still perfecting that one.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

So I Was Thinking

I have about 5 blog posts at 3% completion and meanwhile this blog is looking more and more neglected. Blog stress is a powerful thing. So I thought, "How about I post a Youtube video I made awhile ago that instructs the viewer how to nurse their baby in a ring sling?" 

It is fairly embarrassing and kind of awkward. Since people love watching other people do awkward/embarrassing things, I figured even if you don't care a whit about nursing a baby in a ring sling, it could be slightly entertaining. All kidding aside, nursing a baby in a ring sling is a skill that I might die without. If you watch this and feel sad because it looks hard, remember I have been perfecting this skill for five years. The first time I tried to accomplish this feat it was a hot mess.

What is so great about this video? Could be it that Brad helpfully points at my just-birthed-a-baby-butt when I bend over to pick up Pia? Could it be the sounds of our older children shouting from their beds for the entirety of the video when they are supposed to be sleeping? Could it be my use of air quotes? Could it be that the decorations from Pia's Baptism party are still hanging in the window? Or the fact that every time I say the word "sling" I sound decidedly Kentucky? Or maybe it's the near-constant smirk on my face as I try not to laugh? I'll let you decide. And while you're at it, any suggestions for a better default hair situation?

Friday, November 16, 2012

7 Quick Takes

1. We got a new pilot hat for our Pia Baby to keep her hearing aids in place. Does a lot for her cheeks, yes?

2. Speaking of the Pia Baby, we gave her a sign name finally. Giving sign names stresses me out because I am worried whenever we meet other Deaf people they are thinking, "What lame sign names!" Except the Doms; I didn't give him his sign name, G did that when he was born, so his is a legit-bestowed-from-a-Deaf-person sign name.

3. Anyways. Pia's sign name is SWEET P. So, you sign SWEET, and then the letter P.

4. It's happening. For my Thanksgiving contribution I am going to make apple pie with lard in the crust. Then when people say, "This pie is amazing, how did you manage it?" I will say, "A tub of lard." Last year my efforts were thwarted by morning sickness and I could not stand the smell of the lard, but this year it's game on.

5. I just finished reading the first of Sigrid Undset's trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter. It was v. v. good, and also made me realize that life back in the day was super dangerous. Lots of fires and oxes running loose trampling people and no ER's or antibiotics. I have such a cushy life.

6. Here's what I have decided. You need 3 months to recover from childbirth and be able to rest enough and cuddle enough with your baby. THEN, you need 3 months to get back into real life. So 6 months total before you should expect to even begin to have things together. Analysis: I have 2 more months to get my s*** together. Excellent!

7. Lastly, most importantly. Please, please pray for my older brother, Tom. He has terminal cancer, and has gone home with hospice care. Probably one or two more weeks at the most left for his earthly life. Please pray for his wife and three children, for peace for them, for peace and comfort for him. I thank you for your prayers.

More Quick Takes here and have a great weekend! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Check It

I made this baby (mostly)

Then I made this hat

Then we finished finishing our basement (so. much. painting)
I cannot figure out why YouTube is against me. Link for video here

I just want to state for the record that the color is not green, nor is it teal, as Brad would have you believe. TURQUOISE. Specifically, Valspar's Day at the Jeweler. I am still excited that I thought to cut the main color with white to use inside the built-in area. Pinterest has made me a better person for sure.

And here is the link to the magazine article they paid me monies for writing.  I'm in the Holiday Issue; Real Women, Real Life feature. Go read it and count it as a full blog post for today. Gracias.

Friday, November 2, 2012

7 Quick Takes: All Hallow's Eve; A Reduction

1. Number of frog costumes purchased for 70% off at Jo-Ann Fabrics the day of: 1. I got the costume up to Dominic's knees before he declared, "This is too silly!"

 2. He did end up wearing it, and Brad took them around the street in a wagon, Oregon Trail style. It was rainy and gross and cold so Pia and I took one for the team and passed out the Tootsie Roll pops from the fort.

3. I went ALL out and bought this stuff to make pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies.

They turned out rather nicely, yes?
ohhhhhhhh you bake them?
 4. Number of children who requested extra candy "for their brother/sister/cousin": 5

5. Number of children inadvertently exposed to breastfeeding: 25

6. Most popular costume: variation on zombie....zombies wearing jerseys, zombie cheerleaders, zombie regular children, zombie pirates, zombie zombies

 7. Number of children who oooooh'ed and awwwwww'd and "cute baby!!!'ed" my Pia Baby: all of them. No joke. I think we got about 100 trick-or-treaters (boo. I wanted more. I love passing out candy...I think it stems from a childhood of living pretty much on the side of a mountain in Alaska and we got approximately zero trick-or-treaters. But I digress) and they all commented adoringly on the baby. Even the rowdy group of 9th grade boys fell down in adoration. Lesson/meaning of Halloween: kids like babies.
awake! smiling! happy halloween!
 Have a fab weekend! More Quick Takes: Conversion Diary

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


  I want the kids to do things for themselves. I really, really do. If they don't learn to put socks on by themselves they'll end up living in my basement, making messes and never running the vacuum. I can imagine how dramatically different our mornings will be when they make their own lunches and breakfasts and can clean up without making the "clean" version look worse than the original dirty that was already there.

But honestly, there are times when the words, "I want to do it myself!" terrify me. When Dominic says, "I want to cut the chicken with a knife! By MYSELLLLLLLLF!" That's scary.

And then there are the times when "doing self" is simply exasperating. We're already late so waiting for a kindergartener to painstakingly squeeze the perfect amount of toothpaste on her Firefly toothbrush (blue! not the red one!) is akin to agony. I know she should be encouraged to take care of her own oral hygiene, but we're LATE. 

Everyone with older kids keeps saying it's critical to do chores side-by-side so your progeny learns responsibility and the value of pitching in. Ok. Fine. But when I am scrubbing the toilet with the toilet brush and Dominic comes in and declares, "Oohhhhh!!! I wanna do it!!!" I'd rather be doomed to be his cleaning woman forever than to watch him brandish that sopping, toilet-grime covered brush.

When I think about Gianna, semi-grown-up, driving herself places....I kinda want to hit up Brad's Advair.

There has to be some happy medium between not letting your 16 year old ride their bike a couple blocks to the library and letting the same kid circumnavigate the globe in a sailboat

To be honest, I want to believe I lean more to the sailboat side of things. After all, for most of history teenagers have been treated as adults. Alexander the Great was 16 when he first led an army; Cleopatra was 18 when she became the queen of Egypt. Teens used to get married and have babies and work and not be on TeenMom. It was life, and in many parts of the world, that is still how it goes down. But their childhood! I know. I know. We have quite a luxury in this country, to basically extend childhood well into our early 20's. But I wonder sometimes what good that has done.

Others have written more profoundly and well-researched opinions about the importance of those in their teens years being given meaningful work, all I can say is that they are on to something. I want to raise my children so that when they enter their teen years they are ready for adulthood. How to do that in this culture, I don't exactly know.

Motherhood is such a paradox. My job is to form them and guide them into little mensches which means allowing them to goof up and get dirty and maybe a little hurt but every fiber of my being wants to keep them close and bubble-wrapped. It's almost super-natural, to help them grow up but not too quick, cuddle them but not coddle them, protect them but not make them soft.

I can see how behind the fears there is the good. Allowing our littles to venture out when they are ready sends a message that we are confident in them. That while we worry we are also assured that they can navigate this wild and interesting world. I was so nervous when I took my little two-and-a-half year old Gianna to school for the first time. She was so little, it was never our plan for things to happen that way. But now I see that because we pushed through the fears to what we knew would be best for her, she has the confidence that she can do anything a hearing person can do.

  Maybe sometimes we have to embrace what is scary so we can get to the good stuff.

Friday, October 19, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Fits and Starts

1. My baby is 3 months old as of yesterday. Boo. Newborns are the best. If you sit on the couch reading all day, you look lazy. If you take the same exact scenario, but add a sweet, velvety sleeping baby in your arms, you look legit.

2. Our basement is nearly finished which means I am thisclose to taking every.last.toy and throwing it down the stairs, and slamming the door. Glory will be mine.

3. The flood is coming. Watch out.

4. I heard this wonderful thing on NPR's Talk of the Nation about a company called TaskRabbit. Basically, you go on there and say, "I need someone to help me clean out this embarrassingly dirty closet." And the people who are employed by TaskRabbit bid for the job. You can also like, make people bring you a burrito and stuff. I love everything about this. Apparently it's also nice for people with special skills to find extra work within their specialty.

5. So of course I got to thinking...what are my special skills? I could soothe someone's crying baby while they make dinner. I am good at that. Also building block towers with toddlers and I don't even get angry when they get smashed.

6. I feel like I was doing really well handling regular life with a newborn but then I remember that I still have to do stuff like laundry or that I have been holding Gianna's homework folder hostage for a week when I organized it to an out-of-the-way place. Other things being neglected: showers, grocery shopping, mopping the floor, this blog.

7. I had big plans for the $20 I made writing that magazine article, but I keep forgetting to cash the check. I was going to go pay off my library fines so I can show my face there again now that I am getting perilously close to being out of reading material except now I think maybe I'll just go to H&M instead. My friends have books I haven't read yet, so I should be fine.

For more Quick Takes: Conversion Diary and have a good weekend!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lower Standards, Greater Heights

One time after Dominic was born I was at daily Mass with him and Gianna and this very sweet, very put-together mom smiled at me and said, "Oh, two kids is hard." She had one four year old in tow, but before I could feel all judged she added, "It's so much easier now with four."

What the? I was thinking she was either delusional or a big, fat liar because 10 weeks in to my second kid I was still trying to figure out how in the world I ever thought I could handle more than two children. She must have sensed my confusion because she explained, "Well, the older ones get older, and they can help a little, and they play together, and you become more relaxed, and it's fine."

I was still slightly suspicious, but I'm an optimist by nature so I was happy to buy into her happy little folktale.

As I sit now, parked on the couch with my third baby while Brad and Dominic are dropping Gianna off at school, I'm thinking that this seasoned mom of four was right in at least one thing: standards have definitely been lowered around here

until you've eaten sprinkles off the floor, you haven't lived
does anybody feed these children?
very safe
But I am totally okay with that.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Career Choices

I feel like I could really do something with my life. Especially if I had the power to be any.thing.I.want.

I'd like to be the coach of winning sports team. Preferably something intense, like hockey or basketball. I'd like to be the kind of coach who fires off lots of pithy life lessons and whose mannerisms are full of bizarre quirks. I'd want my athletes to tell crazy stories about me long after they stopped being my athletes.

I'd like to be the wife of a diplomatic attaché to a foreign embassy. Think of it; lots of fancy parties, no serious responsibilities. And probably a nanny? I would need a nanny.

I'd like to be a nosetackle on an NFL football team. Ohmygosh permission to be huge and take people out all day long. I could do that.

I'd like to be a guest star on a Law & Order episode. Particularly if I can lose it on the witness stand. Or maybe cause lots of disruptions from the gallery. Definitely need to be in some sort of interrogation scene, too. 

I'd like to be a book critic. I would sit in Starbucks all day, just me, a paperback, some technology (a smart phone?) and some self-importance. And a latte.

Good thing I'm a stay at home madre. I frequently have the opportunity to rattle of some life lessons whilst making crazy memories the kids can relate long after I'm gone. When I'm pregnant, I get to be huge and any violent behavior can be neatly chalked up to hormones. I drink coffee all day long so I can be there when my kids need me to watch them (over the top of my over-due library book) "do gymnastics" on their play set in the backyard. Children provide lots of reasons to have parties (birthdays, Baptisms, etc) though they also bring responsibilities of a serious sort. Maybe I am fulfilling my deepest desires after all, and I don't really need a nanny. Okay, maybe I'd still like the nanny.

Friday, September 28, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Oh Yeah

1. As a result of Gianna and Pia's story going mini-viral (thanks Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary!) I was asked to write a real article for a real magazine. Then, they sent me monies. 20 of them, in cheque form.

2. When I flaunted my wages in front of Brad and told him I probably needed my own top-of-the-line laptop and a business suit from Ann Taylor he said, "Well. You're a top earner now."

3. I'm going to try not to let my fame and fortune go to my head. You know what they say, "Mo' money, mo' problems." 

4. Work out videos are really, really lame. That is why I've been religiously working out to the 30 Day Shred with Jillian Michaels. I am pleased with the results thus far, but my main problem is that I've been using two cans of Trader Joe's Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes (with organic green chiles) as my weights and they are slated for use in tonight's dinner. Do I actually go purchase real weights or get creative? Currently my pantry contains a single can of green olives, so I need to move beyond food products.

5. Dominic insists that Pia is a boy. I'm not doing much to dissuade him because arguing with an almost-three-year-old is the worst. Plus, it's kinda funny.

6. I saw the best thing while grocery shopping at Kroger the other day. In the produce section there was a Muslim woman wearing a hijab and talking on a smart phone. But wait, there's more. She was talking on it hands-free and it's not because she had some sort of Bluetooth deal going on. No, she had her phone TUCKED INTO the side of her hijab. It was awesome.

7. Lastly, I leave you with this

Have a v. nice weekend and check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Way It's All Going To Go Down

 Allow me to introduce you to my friend, the Familiar Sounds Audiogram. This is a good illustration about how loud and soft life can be, and is also helpful for explaining the benefits of hearing aids versus cochlear implants.

The first thing you'll notice about the audiogram is that pinkish blotch near the top. This is commonly referred to as the "speech banana." In order to hear and reproduce speech, an individual must be able to hear within both this decible and frequency level. In order to over-simplify, decibles can be thought of as how loud or soft a sound is, and frequency is  how high or low a sound is.

The auditory-brainstem response test (ABR) is only able to test sounds up to a certain decible level, usually around 90 to 100 dBs. This is why both Gianna and Pia's ABR's were blank, they MIGHT be able to hear very, very loud sounds (like an airplane or jackhammer if they were very close to those things) but we are not sure. The first step in seeing the full extent of the hearing loss is to use hearing aids and put the kids in a sound booth to do a behavioral test. Sounds are played and any responses to the sounds are rewarded with a visual cue.

For Gianna, and likely Pia as well, hearing aids did not show much benefit. I think I remember Gianna's aided audiogram said that she could hear somewhere in the 70-80 dB range. Not near enough sound to perceive and learn speech. When Pia is around 6 months old we will be able to put her in the sound booth and get a better idea of how much residual hearing she has, but the fact that her ABR was non-responive, it is highly unlikely hearing aids will allow her to speak and listen.

This brings me to the difference between a hearing aid and a cochlear implant, beyond the obvious difference that one is surgically implanted and the other is not. A hearing aid amplifies sound. A cochlear implant functions like a bionic ear.

So, sound enters through the external processor (worn behind the ear..."BTE") and is somehow converted to digital information. Don't ask me how because I have no clue. The sound jumps the magnet into the implant and travels down into the electrode array that is inserted into the cochlea. Normally, the hair cells in the cochlea stimulate the auditory nerve, but for Gianna, her hair cells do not work or are not present. With the implant, those electrodes act as hair cells to stimulate the auditory nerve, which then carries the information to the brain. A typical cochlea has thousands of hair cells; Gianna (and Pia eventually) will have 24 electrodes to stand in for those hair cells. This is why things like music sound very different to a cochlear implant recipient.

Following surgery and a recovery period of about two weeks, recipients have their devices activated for the first time. Then comes the work. There's speech therapy to help with speech production, aural rehabilitation (teaching the child what sound is and that it has meaning), auditory training to learn how to use the implants to listen, building auditory memory, and frequent visits to the audiologist for MAPings (the term for programming a cochlear implant to the specifications and needs of its user.) MAPs can be rough's voice sounded one way, but one tweak of the computer can make it sound another.

If you are still with me through all the explaining, here is the pay-off

I love that Gianna has outed all our recent TV due to the presence-of-a-newborn extravaganza we're currently working here. Anyways, the FDA requires a minimum of three months with hearing aids to show all other means have been attempted before proceeding with the invasive cochlear implant surgery. As mentioned, we will go at 6 months to get a new audiogram and begin documenting officially whether they are beneficial to Pia or not.

In the meantime we'll be back every few weeks to the audiologist to get new ear molds because Pia's ears will be growing so quickly. Additionally, I'm hoping some sound is getting to her in order to keep her auditory nerve nice and strong as well as keeping activation day from being extremely upsetting for her.

THE BIG FAT DISCLAIMER: I'm not an audiologist, otolaryngologist, speech pathologist, or speech therapist. I just have two Deaf kids. Each child has varying outcomes with cochlear implants due to factors such as health of the auditory nerve, shape of the cochlea, age of implantation, type of therapies received, and cognitive abilities.

It might seem like we know what we're doing, but we're mostly just making it up as we go along, cuz that's how we roll.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Round Two

Sweet sweet Pia got her hearing aids today. She was not impressed. I'm sure they feel very awkward in her tiny ears.

 Our audiologist gave us a thoughtful gift of a pilot cap, apparently all the rage with parents of little guys with hearing aids. These hats keep curious fingers from pulling out the hearing aids while keeping bald baby heads warm without causing that super-annoying feedback ringing noise.

I'm feeling like it needs....something....cute. I might dust off a crochet hook and make a little flower to add to it. In all my spare time of course.


cutest, tiniest, ear canals ever in evidence
I am very certain, and our audiologist agrees, that Pia cannot hear my voice with the hearing aids and probably not much of anything else, so we are slated for cochlear implant surgery next summer. That gives me a nice, long time to freak out about anesthesia risks, etc. Meanwhile we are signing to her and I love to see her eyes watching my hands and face so intently. This baby is such a gift.

Pumpkin spice lattes, cool fall days, sweaters, and some hearing aids with sparkly, purple ear molds: sign. me. up.

UPDATE: Tomorrow I will write a post explaining a little more in-depth about the cochlear implant process...I'll try not to make it boring while still being incredibly informational. Such suspense...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Operation Contain and Placate: Addendum

You have heard it said that thou shalt bring your small children to the grocery store to be a light to the world, but Amen Amen I say to you, don't. If it can be avoided. Just don't.

But if you have to, let's talk shall we? I have written to you previously about how to have a (mostly) successful and pain free trip to the grocery store. Additionally, I have instructed you in ways to look crazy when at the grocery store. And now, I shall add a few thoughts on taking THREE small children to the grocery store. Alone.

You could try to be well-rested and well-fed but chances are, if you are desperate enough to bring three small people to the store, neither the latter nor the former is likely. So, here is my new trick. Kid Clif bars all around. Stuff the wrappers into your wallet so you won't lose them or forget to pay for these already-consumed goods. It doesn't look weird or suspicious at all......promise.

You still need to park near the shopping carts. You'll still be strapping a kid in there (the 'runner' of your group.) Strap the newborn to your person, inform the walking child they must keep their hand on the cart unless told otherwise, and away you go.

No longer will you wait in line at the deli. You must keep moving. Instead, use the little deli-station computer and order your meat the moment you walk in the door. Do the rest of the shopping and score the meat at the end. 

You still get the free cookie. Except now you must also get the free balloons. No one will be actually IN the floral department to mete out such rewards, so you'll have to trudge to the customer service counter, at which point they will page someone on the loudspeaker, and that someone will come to the floral department expecting you to spend some legitimate money. Instead you will feel like the lamest person alive when all you do is request 2 free balloons.

Do you have a child who dependably releases the balloon almost immediately upon receiving this most-coveted prize? Tie the balloon on to the shopping cart in such a fashion that it will take you 7 minutes and a lot of almost-swearing to un-tie it once you get yourself, children, and groceries out to the parking lot. No worries though. You are MacGuyver-like in your skills, and you will use your keys to slice free the balloon. Problem solved.

You can still engage the help of your mobile youngsters, but when they break open a bag of baby carrots because they missed the cart completely when tossing it is time to leave.

Are you frightened? Don't be. They can sense your fear. You can do this. If all else fails, take this little exchange to heart:
"Excuse me," said a woman who looked like the last person to be amused by my little brood.
"Oh, I am so sorry," Saith I. "I didn't realize was blocking the produce bags."
 "You're fine. Anyone who is brave enough to bring three small children to the grocery store can stand wherever they want."

It might become my new mantra.

Friday, September 7, 2012

7 Quick Takes

1. Thank you for all the love and support and prayers showered on us yesterday. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am. People keep saying we clearly know what we are doing....I'm glad I have you all fooled :)

2. For those who visited here yesterday and would like to learn more about our experience with hearing loss thus far, here are a series of posts I wrote regarding our journey with Gianna:
Is She Deaf?
In the Beginning, There was Silence 
Two Years of Sound
The Beginning of Charity

3. I kinda wish all those links could count as a separate take....I guess I could make that call, since I'm the boss here. Hm.

4. When it's 100 degrees outside and I make a casual comment such as, "It's hot out here." Dominic's response is always a vehement, "It's NOT!" 

5. Due to the above mentioned negativity, some extreme reverse psycology is needed to enlist any sort of cooperation from him. The problem is that I am slightly tired all the time and definitely still in the postpartum haze and rarely succeed in the cooperation department and always succeed in confusing myself. 'Did I want him in the car right now or not? What are we doing right now? Am I serving ice cream for dinner or not?'

6. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new pair of running shoes. Oh. man. I went with the Ultramarine/Mulberry color....don't they look FAST?

7. Currently, our "next steps" include taking impressions for the hearing aid molds (happening Tuesday) and meeting with our ENT to discuss....I dunno. ENT stuff. That's next Friday. Mostly, I am excited to get G from school and boogie over to the Chik-fil-A for an early dinner with my crew and some energy-sapping time in the play area before I bring the whole show to the doctor. You might wonder, are we bigots for eating Chik-fil-A, or do we just know a good milkshake when we see one?? You decide 2012.

Have a fab weekend...check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary. Adios!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Deaf Like Me

I took sweet Pia for her obligatory Auditory Brain-stem Response test yesterday morning.

Before the test, I had an inkling of how it might turn out....I'd been thinking, off and on, since the morning she was born, "I don't know if she hears me."

It was the way she didn't seem to smile at me or coo at me, or respond to my voice coupled with a dull anxiety that "something is not quite right." The same things I felt about Gianna, and opposite of my experience with Dominic.

I wasn't that shocked, then, when the audioligist said, "I'm sorry to tell you....she's not responding." It's funny, what goes through your head in a moment like that.
I thought I only had one more year of driving to Loveland everyday.
How will I tell Brad? He didn't suspect at all...I should have prepared him better.
Dangit. Probably not getting a Suburban...gas mileage is a biotch.
I can't wait to tell Gianna. She is going to be so excited.

It was a day of many emotions. I look at Gianna now and see how happy she is, and how well she is doing, and I don't feel afraid. But then I remember how much work was involved to get here....the appointments and paper work and surgery and researching and worry. Some of that will be different this time, because we've already been in this place. But a lot will be new. I've never had an infant with hearing aids, I've never walked this journey from the beginning; Gianna was 14 months old when she was officially diagnosed with a profound hearing loss.

For the moment we are soaking it all in and dusting off our ASL. I feel very strongly that I want to communicate right now with Pia and I don't want to wait until we get amplification straightened out. When I picked G up from school I gave her the news and her face lit up. "Really?? REALLY??? Deaf like me??!! I will show her how to go to my school, will she get implants like me?"

Gianna was the person I wanted to share the news with the most; I knew the only reaction I would get from her would be unmitigated joy. She doesn't see herself as having a disability. Her Deafness is a fact to her in the same way she would say, "I am a girl. I am in kindergarten." It is not a negative. And it's with that spirit that I'd like to state, "Pia Catherine is a girl. She is 7 weeks old. She is Deaf."

This morning, Gianna was laying on my bed with Pia and Brad walked in to see Gianna with her magnets pulled off, signing happily. Brad asked her if she took her ears off on purpose and Gianna smiled shyly and explained," we can be the same."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Get This Look

You know those "life-style" blogs that show their readers how they have showered and gotten themselves dressed? Yeah well, congrats to them. Today I bring something better: toddler fashion.

I cannot express how much I love seeing another mother in the grocery store pushing a shopping cart with a little girl wearing what is clearly a Batman pajama shirt, hot pink tutu, and waving a fly swatter. I know what happened in that house. That kid said, "But mom, I am a Bat-ballerina-princess today and this is my wand!" And the mom said, "That's fantastic. Get in the car."

Because smart moms don't fight with small children about clothing. Small children will always find a way to win. I only object to clothing choices that are a) actually dangerous and b) not Mass-appropriate if that is where we are heading. The rest of life is fair game.

The nice thing is that most people, when they see you bring your daughter to the library wearing her tutu bathing suit, a cardigan, and green polka dot Baby Legs in early October, assume your kid dressed themselves. The problem is when your older children insist on choosing clothing for your newborn. If your newborn looks ridiculous, well, people are going to assume that was YOUR fault.

Anyhoo. I promised toddler fashion, and toddler fashion is what you'll get.
Protective Head Gear: doting grandparents
Oxford shirt: Children's Place
Undies: Disney for Target
Attitude: Himself

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Obligatory

First day back to school post where I post gratuitous photos of the child returning to school and confess what an emotional wreck I was, I can't believe how big she is, etc etc.

Fail, count 1: did not take a picture
Fail, count 2: did not get emotional.

I was up too late filling out those infernal returning-student forms (um and watching Antiques Roadshow....options are limited when you lack cable don't judge) and then we all sort of over-slept and I spent the morning alternatively encouraging everyone to step lively and worrying about the weird stiffness in the baby's neck.

BUT. We made it on time! It's a back-to-school miracle! Probably I'll stage a faux back-to-school picture later, after I drive 30 minutes into Kentucky to retrieve this item we found on Craigslist. Every boy needs a bike with some chrome.

We had a helluva summer....went to the beach, trudged around the zoo a few times in the ungodly heat, sun-bathed at the pool, and had a baby. Not too shabby.

UPDATED: pics.

purple nails for the 1st day...crucial

Monday, August 20, 2012

This is How We Baptize

This past Sunday (and by "past Sunday" I mean the 12th, not the I'm a bit behind...3 kids what can I say?) Pia got her soul nice and cleaned up. And then we partied as Catholics should with lots of cake, cookies, brownies, coffee, and sangria. It's not everyday your kid gets an indelible mark on their soul.

the dunk

the whole show (nice, Dom)

the doting

the pose

the babe

the gown (super old!! i was baptized in this thing, as was my mother....aaaand a whole lot of other people)

the joy
the fancy bakery cake

the spread

the decor

the lounge

the approval
the Brad classic
I made this cake (thanks Pinterest) and by make I mean I sat on the couch and nursed the baby while my sister made the cake and I annoyed the crap out of her in my attempts to micromanage the situation. I also went above and beyond by locating and purchasing the cutest pink, purple, and silver pearlized sprinkles. Best Mom award is a total lock.

I spent most of the party sipping on peach sangria, eating numerous baked goods, and relishing the smell of my freshly baptized babe's chrism-smeared forehead. It don't get no better.