I spend 90% of my time dressed in the stereotypical stay at home mom attire, which consists of yoga pants, sports bras, tank tops, hoodies and sneakers.
I have a terrible farmer's tan and the humidity that we have had this summer makes my hair look like a frizzy mop. I have even contemplated **gulp** getting five inches hacked off and working the "mom do", something I said I'd NEVER do!!
I also have several extra pounds from what would have been baby #2 to lose and that never helps. Before I got pregnant, I had lost all of my pregnancy #1 weight and then some and was feeling terrific and working out a lot. The daily walks continued, but there's nothing like an emotional set back to keep you from going to the gym and burning some real calories.
My lack of interest in looking my best has a lot to do with feeling down and therefore only being able to muster the bare minimum when it comes to getting dressed in the morning.
I'm not a slob. I do shower everyday (it may be 8:00 at night before it happens, but it does happen), but I feel unattractive and unmotivated.
I have a closet full of beautiful, functional clothes and love to dress up, but ease and comfort is where it's at these days.
The make-up made me feel better and made me realize that I need to make more of an effort not look like such a train wreck, if for no one else but myself.
The best is yet to be.
This post was written for the word game, Word Up, Yo! hosted by Natalie (Mommy of a Monster), Kristin (Taming Insanity) and Liz (a belle, a bean and a chicago dog).
I think today at the John Tracy Clinic was the shortest Friday of all, because it just flew by. It was wise for me not to wear any makeup, because the tears flowed freely. We enjoyed our last circle time with our kids, had a few closing remarks from the wonderful people who organized our adventure, then had a support group meeting with the entire group, where we were given the opportunity to say our closing remarks. We then went to a lovely closing ceremony where we all got certificates and some closing remarks. We picked up our kids, headed to the big tree, and had one last photo taken. Then we said our farewells.
We all expressed open door policies to everyone in the group, so there might be some future reunions in various parts of the world. But if not, we will all stay in touch through facebook or e-mail or some other media. One thing's for sure though, we will never forget the friendships we've forged over the last 3 weeks. Living together in the same apartment building and spending valuable time on the lawn in the evenings brought our lives together for these 3 weeks with one common theme - to help our d/hh kiddos reach their fullest potential, and make sure that we are the most informed part of that equation. We especially cherished those evenings on the lawn when our kids could just be kids without any explanations or funny looks and we could talk about anything we wanted, including hearing loss.
We've said our goodbyes, expressed our immense gratitude and now we are packing and cleaning up while Lucas takes a nap. We are off to a hotel for the weekend, and we fly back on Sunday. It feels strange to leave our home-away-from-home and go to a hotel. We feel happy and empowered to take on the world and spread what we've learned. As the tip of the day said today:
<<gavin west – month eighteen>>
all of which sound exactly the same.
in a coffee filter
served on top of luc’s desk.
in that order.
and i love all eighteen months old of him.
#1 The fasteners on shopping carts and restaurant high chairs that are suppose to securely keep your tot strapped in, but half the time are broken! FLIP OFF!
#2 Junk mail and spam deserve a big HUGE FLIP OFF! How do "they" get my address anyway?! The paper kind is not only annoying, it destroys trees and clogs our landfills and the electronic kind is just plain annoying.
I once spent over an hour calling every single catalog company that you can think of asking to be removed from their mailing list and do you know that only ONE company asked me why. Pottery Barn. God bless 'em. It took two months, but eventually we stopped getting all catalogs... we still get tons of other junk mail that drives me insane.
As far as the e-mail kind, sure, it's easy enough to hit the delete button or take the time to "unsubscribe", but I'd really just rather have an 'In Box' full of mail I actually want to read, rather than a bunch of crap I don't.
#3 People that use 'honey', 'sweetie', 'baby', 'dear' (THE WORST OF THE BUNCH!!) and other terms of endearment WHEN THEY DON'T EVEN KNOW ME! Arrrgggg... so annoying! Please FLIP OFF, love.
#4 Predictive text can FLIP OFF! I realize it is a setting that I can control, but it's so frustrating when your phone turns 'so' into 'do' and 'seacliff' into 'deadlier and won't let me use (type) 'hell'.
Thank you to Gigi of Kludgy Mom for this most refreshing, rejuvenating and really awesome meme.
Happy weekend, everyone!
The best is yet to be.
We started our day off with an appointment with audiology. We got some great results last time, and this time, she wanted to test Lucas's left ear with the hearing aid. Much to our surprise (and delight), Lucas got some measurable results while aided. He still doesn't hit the speech banana, which means that he can't hear any speech at all, but he's definitely getting some environmental sounds with it. He's still an excellent candidate for a 2nd cochlear implant, but it's very exciting to us that his hearing aid may be able to help a bit! When we get home, I'm going to make an appointment with our local audiologist to have a new earmold made. He's also been tolerating the aid pretty well. We will continue to encourage him to wear it at home.
In high school I excelled in English, history, art, music, PE and foreign language classes, but I was terrible at math and science.
In all honesty, if it weren't for the homework and all the extra credit problems and reports I completed, I don't think I would have even earned a diploma. I am not proud of this, I am just stating facts. I am proud to be very right brained.
Sitting in my seventh grade Algebra class, I would get dizzy staring at all the numbers on the chalkboard and when it came to formulas and word problems... forget it!
Tutors didn't help. The summer courses I took didn't help and neither did the knock down drag out fights I would have with my parents. They couldn't understand why I was getting A's and B's in the courses I actually enjoyed and practically failing the ones I didn't. It seemed pretty logical to me, but they were educators and thought my grades should be more "consistent". I consistently argued that I'd never need math in my life.
By the time I got to college, I took the minimum required math courses that I needed in order to graduate and that was that. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't go for a marketing degree because I couldn't handle all the math prerequisites and instead opted for a Bachelor of Arts in communications with an emphasis in public relations. I can still put together a marketing budget and successfully stick to it.
I like to think that I have a logical mind that is very black and white because I appreciate that in mathematics, there can only be one solution to a problem. I mean 2 + 2 can't equal 5, right? But numbers have always boggled my mind. I just don't have a head for them and I never have. I know just enough to get by and for everything else, there's a calculator.
I understand the value of math and why it is important to learn basic formulas, fractions and percentages, but I'm already starting to worry about helping Lucas with his math homework. Beyond middle school, we are definitely going to have problems (no pun intended). Thank goodness his dad is a very proud left brainer and will assist in this arena.
Numbers or not, the best is yet to be.
I'm a little behind with my posts, but I'm trying hard to catch up. Tuesday was one of my favorite days that we've had so far. Today during morning circle time, Lucas got to be the teacher's helper. I think it's his favorite time. He certainly enjoys the attention. We started the day with support group and a lively discussion about the film that we saw yesterday and the meaning of the word "deaf" to various families.
Then we were off to participate in a school age panel of two successfully mainstreamed boys and JTC grads. This was the highlight of my day. My tears flowed, and I again hung on their every word. What struck me most was the sense of normalcy that these boys have. These early years are so full of wonder, doubt and simply the unknown. The boys were articulate, smart, funny, and oh so normal. Don't take that word the wrong way. I just mean that their hearing loss is just a part of who they are, what they do, what they like. It no longer drives everything they do, like it seems to when they're young. The one boy even said (when introducing himself): "Basically I lead a normal life and I carry my own weight." One interesting tidbit of information I learned was that the one boy shared that he doesn't know how loud he's being when he talks, so sometimes he has a little cue with his mom (that he came up with) to tell him to turn it down a little bit. They talked about their experiences with FM systems - one likes using it, and one doesn't. It was also interesting to hear that when they listen, they have to try to concentrate on one voice so that other sounds don't become too distracting. I thoroughly enjoyed the panel.
We checked in on Lucas before our afternoon sessions started, and but 1 of the six kiddos decided to take a nap for the second day in a row. I hope it's not a foreshadowing of the rest of the week! The topics for the afternoon were US laws and deafness and the IEP, both of particular interest to us as we embark on our first IEP adventure in the next few months. We were given resources and websites to reference and even saw a role play of what not to do. We got to see examples of binders that parents put together about their children for the IEP meeting. My wheels are turning as we speak and I prepare for this next journey. We learned lots of acronyms, my favorite being PLOP, Present Level Of Performance. That is one of the reasons why we're here, to determine his PLOP, so that we can move forward with plans.
We finished the day with a meeting with his SLT. We figured out that Lucas will work better if he's in a room with no distractions and has a snack to munch on. So, this session went much better.
Tonight we decided to head to Santa Monica again. We didn't hit the beach, but walked along the promenade and out to the pier. He enjoyed some of the little rides. We got to watch the sunset too.
Like the post's title says, today was a pretty intense (but good) day. Lucas barely even blinked when we left, and he's not even attached to his blanket anymore. So EXCITING! The first session today was on behavior management for children with hearing loss, which I listened to very intently. Lucas is at that ripe old age of 2 1/2, where he starts to have his own ideas about the way things should be, so I was looking for some tips. The first tip I gained was prevention, prevention, prevention. If you can prevent the behavior by identifying triggers, adapting the environment, and rewarding good behavior as opposed to always focusing on negative behavior, it can cut down on behavioral issues. The second tip I got was to maintain realistic expectations based on a child's developmental level and needs. Expecting Lucas to sit still for 15 minutes while in circle time is not a realistic expectation, for example. We also learned 8 steps to effectively managing time out, and especially that it should not be seen as punishment per se, but rather as a chance for a child to calm down and self-regulate after performing an unwanted behavior. We made two experience books, one on positive behaviors and one on negative behavior for our children. This session was most beneficial to me!!
After a short break (and a little bit of spying on our kids), we gathered again for a session on expressive language. Since Lucas is doing so well with his expressive language, this lecture was particularly interesting to us. We got lots of ideas about how to encourage further, more sophisticated expansion of expressive language, such as always expanding what you say and adding new phrases, and exposing children to a variety of language environments.
We finished the day watching a documentary called Sound and Fury. We watched it during lunch, and then watched the follow-up to it, which was very helpful. I would go as far as to say that this film is an important part of every family's journey to a cochlear implant. Nate and I saw the film shortly after Lucas was implanted, and there are a few scenes that left a lasting impression. I think it's so important, because it portrays many different perspectives regarding the CI. It portrays deaf parents of deaf children, deaf parents of hearing children, and hearing parents of deaf children. The original film kind of leaves you hanging, but after seeing the follow-up, the story comes full circle. I recommend it if you haven't seen it. Although it is 10 years old, it still provides valuable perspective.
Someone in the group shared a quote today that she read somewhere that had inspired her - "dare to have the conversations with your hearing impaired child that you would have with your hearing child." It was kind of a reminder to continue to dream big.
We spent time with the other families out on the lawn tonight. Our days with them are winding down.
- You have snacks in the form of Puffs, yogurt bites, Cheerios and teething biscuits in your car, purse, diaper bag, strollers and for some strange reason bedside table.
- There's no taking time off for sickness or sadness, motherhood is a full time job (but admittedly, the benefits are pretty great too).
- You swear you are going to gather up and donate every last little toy in your house if you stub your toe on one of them one. more. time.
- You know you have lost several socks, bottle caps, toys and burp cloths from the stroller without even realizing it.
- As much as you love reading to your child, you don't how many more times you can look for Spot, flip through every color of the rainbow or find out how many monkeys end up jumping off the bed.
- You see parents in a whole new light and have a lot more respect, admiration and love for them...especially your own.
The best is yet to be.
My favorite walks are the ones outside. I love our funky neighborhood, being so close to the beach and the fresh air and change of scenery seems to soothe us both.
Here are some random pictures of things in our neighbor that make our walks interesting, fun and worth every step.
The best is yet to be.
Touchstone Blogger and Bay area rock climber, James Lucas has been climbing for more than a decade. Beginning his climbing career as a self proclaimed "punter", James quickly progressed to a dirtbag rock jock when he moved from New England to Yosemite Valley. He's constantly on the road rock climbing and recently made an ascent of his first big wall free climb- the Westie Face of the Leaning Tower (5.13 A0). Oakland Manager Lyn Verinsky made a poignant observation, stating, "James would have sent his route months earlier if he had taken my advice about apple fritters being the best pre-send food. Instead he had to use hard work and tenacity." He took a moment from his "hard work" shamelessly self promoting and being a rock climbing "Spray lord" to talk to the Touchstone Blog.
What was your recent ascent of the Wesite Face, the free variation to Yosemite Valley's Leaning West Face of the Leaning Tower like?
Well, first of all- I'd like to say that I'm kind of a big deal. If you don't know who I am then you should. I recently wrote one of the Dirtbag Diaries about being Yosemite's Next Top Idol. I'm pretty much the greatest thing to ever happen to climbing. But enough about me let's talk about you. What do you think about me?
Uhh...I think you avoided the question. How did you prepare for the route?
I am not naturally gifted in the least. My tenacity makes up for my lack of talent. I spent a couple months bouldering in Bishop, sport climbed in Sonora, and then tried the route a bunch. When I couldn't send, I took a short break, hung out in Berkeley and tried really really hard to redpoint the green 12c at Ironworks. One of the banes of my existence is my inability to climb well in the gym. I went back to Toulmne Meadows, did some hard sport climbing, then headed to the Leaning Tower. The crux for me was having enough power endurance on the 5.13 pitch. The lead cave at Ironworks really helped. I'm hoping to free El Capitan soon.
How did you get your Valley nicknames?
I have two. The first one, "Peaches" was given to me by my friend Brian "Coiler" Kay. It's after James and the Giant Peach. The second one, "Big Fall James", was due to taking a 100 foot fall in Joshua Tree while free soloing on Intersection Rock. I fall a lot. I prefer "Peaches"- makes for better pies.
You spend most of your time traveling and rock climbing. Do you have some sort of dream career along those lines?
Absolutely! I want to be on the cover of Martha Stewart's Home Living. I spend a lot of time baking pies. I just made a cherry pie for the staff over at Ironworks and I'm planning on making a pie for Lyn Verinsky, the manager at Oakland. On rest days, I really really like making pie. Either the Martha Stewart thing or I would be really into winning the lottery. Then I could buy a really nice RV and park it below some rocks for a little bit and move it when I wanted. It'd be way more baller than my station wagon.
Check out more of James' writing, published and unpublished work, on his blog- Life of A Walking Monkey
We haven't been outside nearly as much as I thought we would this season and haven't done any of the other things I had planned in mind.
So far there has only been one trip to the beach and just a handful of visits to the park. The BBQs have been minimal and trips to the pool have only been for swim lessons. There haven't been any baseball games, sundresses, Popsicles, rides on beach cruisers, strolls on the beach, boat rides, sunburns (which I'm actually grateful for) or lemonade.
The weather had a lot to to with it. It's been unseasonably overcast, rainy and even chilly this summer in San Diego and while I'd rather be cold than hot any day, it's just not summer without the sun...
...or a Dave Matthews Band concert!! 25 days until we are sitting at Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre listening to my favorite band on the planet. I really do hope that it starts feeling like summer for me before August 20. I really need to get my act together or I'm going to regret it!
The best is yet to be.
baby three will be here soon.
well… not soon enough in the pregnant count down.
but if i look at the calendar with a get-things-done perspective:
i’m running out of time.
30 weeks pregnant with lucas jude: full, decked out nursery
30 weeks pregnant with gavin west: clothes washed in dreft, carseat on order
baby three has a small drawer in my dresser filled with a few special treasures.
i’m anxious to make him a little nest.
my mom says: he’s going to be a wanderer -he’ll have an adventurous heart.
and all of the things i’ve found for him so far have this sweet earthy feel to them.
i love him so much already.
baby three is going to have a little spot in our bedroom.
and i’ve been imagining his sweet space.
i’ve got a little list:
1. this print above his bassinet called – the proud one
2. a cozy crocheted snuggle blankie
3. mr. small - robot pillow
4. i + love + you wooden teether
5. reggae man – bob tee
6. the portland baby booties
7. the argington “bam” bassinet
8. a dachshund
9. a travelling bus suit – to satisfy his wanderlust for a bit
now all this boy needs is a name.
It's from Thursday Sept 30-Sun Oct 3 and it does not disappoint!
It's truly fabulous.
We spent a good 4 hours there, and were planning to see a few other attractions in Griffith Park - Travel Town and the Griffith Observatory, but alas, our little Lucas fell asleep. We kind of knew it would happen, and were glad he did, because he was pretty grumpy by the time we left the zoo. So, instead we drove around the park and looked at these sites from a distance, and then headed to Hollywood. We did a little sightseeing by car while Lucas slept. It was the perfect combination.
We got pretty close to the Hollywood sign. The GPS came in very handy again. I typed in "Hollywood sign" and it took us to this random neighborhood. We kept going and couldn't see the sign any longer. Somehow the GPS knew the exact last spot where you can see the sign before it disappears out of sight because of the mountains. Pretty cool, I thought.
Today we slept in and then went to a picnic hosted by a generous donor of the John Tracy Clinic. There was an In-N-Out burger truck there, with made-to-order burgers. They even made grilled cheeses for people, like me, who don't eat burgers. It was really yummy. There was also an ice cream truck with about 20 different hand-dipped flavors, a clown magician, face painting, games and lots of fun! It was a lovely afternoon spent with all the families and staff at the clinic.
Lucas got his face painted to look like a kitty cat (his choice). He sat so still!
After the picnic, we went with a few other families back to the California Science Center. We think we might still go back another time, because there's even more to see! What a great little gem in JTC's backyard! We had hoped Lucas would fall asleep on our walk there, but instead he fell asleep on our way back, which made bedtime interesting.
But, here I am, and Lucas is asleep. He excitedly asked me if he was going to see his friends tomorrow. I'm just wondering what we're going to do next week when he wants to see them then too. We just won't think about that just yet.
We also got to see a video of Lucas and us working with his speech and language teacher. JTC has done a really great job of using our kids and our sessions with our SLTs to illustrate certain concepts that they are teaching us. They showed an example of an experience book that Ms. M. made for Lucas about locational prepositions, using his favorite stuffed bear, Knut to illustrate various locations. Nate and I were really nervous to see the video, because of how Lucas has been working for M. The presenter showed a segment of the video, where Lucas is completely off task, talking about leaving the room to dump the trash from the trash can into a trash truck (he saw one on the previous day behind his classroom), instead of talking about Knut sitting next to the trash can (as was in the book). Whereas Nate and I were a bit frustrated that Lucas would not stay focused on the book, she gave it a positive spin, showing how much more language the book led Lucas to use. It's always nice to have a different perspective.
We finished our short Friday with support group, where we were given the opportunity to write love letters to our kids. The idea was to write a letter to the older children in the sibling program, and those letters will be read aloud to the siblings next week. If you don't have a child in the sibling program (like us), then we wrote a letter to our children in the program. Nate and I both sealed ours up, and I will tuck them away in Lucas's baby book for a time when he is old enough to read them himself. I will be interested to read it myself again one day too.
After school, we had half a day to explore, but Lucas desperately needed a nap. So, he took a quick nap, then we headed to Exposition Park, which is within walking distant from our apartment, to visit the California Science Center. We were thoroughly impressed by this free museum. There's a rather new exhibit on the world's Ecosystems, and there is so much to do there for little ones like Lucas! One of the areas is a Kelp Forest, with a glass tunnel to walk through hosting kelp, sharks, eels and various fish. It was like a mini aquarium. Lucas thought it was pretty cool too.
We can't wait to go back next week, because we didn't have enough time to see it all. We made a trip to Yogurtland with one of the other families then and called it a night. We're really looking forward to next week, although we're a little sad that our time is winding down. Some topics that we're looking forward to are a school age panel of d/hh kiddos, U.S. laws and deafness, the IEP, and mainstream & inclusion. Stay tuned!!!
Both boys enjoyed getting down and dirty with the goats in the petting zoo.
Jackson really enjoyed watching the monkeys. Unfortunately, Lucas slept through this part of our visit.
Lucas made a hand print animal to document our fun day...