Tuesday, August 28, 2012

1st Grade Here I Come!!!


This little boy is starting first grade tomorrow!!   He has anxiety about it, but he will do well.   Today we met his teacher and found out that she has two adopted boys from Liberia...how awesome is that?   We have had a wonderful summer!   It has gone by fast.   All summer long I have been emphasizing to Bei ALL that he has accomplished!   You should see that little boy do cartwheels!  handstands!  he dives from the swim platform like a 13 year old kid, he sat on his two wheel bike for the first time this summer and immediately started riding without any assistance from me, and that little guy can hit a ball OUT OF THE PARK or in our world across the driveway!   Bei is not ready to be in any organized activities but I want him to realize all the things that he has accomplished on his own.   I am so proud of him!!!  Kai had summer school during the month of July which meant that Bei and I had what he termed as "mama time".    He and I spent several days at the zoo, mini golfing and swimming at the local lake!   We had some much needed time just the two of us.   Sad the summer is coming to a close but I have to admit that I am ready for some structure back into our routine. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ordinary Miracles

After John O'Connor asked to write on my blog I thought I would extend an invitation to my favorite blogger, Nancy from Ordinary Miracles.    I only read a hand full of blogs these days and Nancy's is always the first one that I check on a daily basis.   I like her blog because she is so authentic and really tells it how it is, the good, the bad and the ugly.  Plus her photography blows me away!  Anyway, I threw out several suggestions for her to write about and instead of picking "what is your favorite color of the rainbow and why?" (just kidding, of course)  in true authentic Nancy fashion she went for the meatiest of all my suggestions - How do other mom's regenerate themselves when they are feeling tired and run down?   I love her answer(s) to my question and hope you enjoy it too.
Liz wrote and asked,

How do you refresh yourself when you get in to a parenting slump? I am kind of in one now where I feel weary and beaten down a little and I don’t get a break. I always wonder how other moms refresh themselves.

Keeping it real, my knee jerk reaction to Liz's question is... You mean we can refresh ourselves? Who would've thunk? Sign me up! I want me some of that! Just tell me where they're selling it, 'cause I'm gonna buy bucket loads!

I am the epitome of weary and beaten down these days.

A break?

What's that all about?


Currently I am definitely feeling weary.

And tired.

Beaten down.

With no break in sight.

Which of course leads to...

Feeling cranky.

And snarky.

Overly sensitive.


Guilt ridden.

And generally not real fun to be around.

I am totally aware that I wouldn't even want to be in the same house as me right now.

But somebody has to do the important stuff like make the PB&Js and clean the pee off the seat so here I still am.

Settling back into reality and our busy lives after our summer stint at Little Cabin in the Woods, is always a tough transition for me. For various reasons, I'm not getting much sleep these days. Jude spilled $16 worth of trail mix on the floor. Sunny locked her keys in her car. One of the dogs jumped up on the counter and ate lunch. Patch started throwing up this morning... only after I thought he was trying to pull a fast one. Papa is out of town on business. The dust bunnies are taking over, not to mention the fingerprints. Miscellaneous other children who shall remain nameless are about to drive me over the edge. It has been no less than 251 degrees outside for months now, and my dishwasher hasn't worked in over 2 years!

But as much as I'd love to blame it on something, I'm the only one to blame.

Because I'm the only one who has the power to change my state of mind.

You know I'm writing this stuff down more for myself as anything else, right?

Long story short... I find myself tired, weary, and beaten down more often than I'd like to admit.

I used to think that perfect mamas didn't feel this way. And maybe I still do I mean. We're not suppose to admit how hard it is and that being a mama has the better of us. Mamas are suppose to be happy and loving all the time... right? We're suppose to be loving our job and so totally satisfiedXXXXXXx

But I'm old enough to realize that perfect mama doesn't exist, and we all find ourselves in a bad frame of mind occasionally.

But here's my light bulb moment that I've known all along, but only come to recently appreciate---It's all about what I do with our reaction to being tired and weary that matters.

After all, that's the stuff that I want to role model to my kids anyway. I've been preaching to my children for years now. We can't control your world, just our reaction to it.

So why shouldn't I take my own advice?

Truth be told, I don't think there is a quick fix for mama burn out. At least I've never found one. A weekend away or a massage is great, but I find that the thing that contributed to my burn out, which is almost always me anyway, is still right there when I get back. I think it's more a matter of how we mamas live our days and how we deal with that built-in stresses of being a mom. But Liz, I'm a linear kind of gal that loves me some practical suggestions! So rather than look for a quick fix that will likely lead me right back to where I started, it works better for me to have strategies in place all the time to help deal with the stresses of being a mama 24/7.

So, Liz, I know this isn't quite what you meant. Being a mom is tough work, and if there was a magic refresher pill, I'd be an addict by now. But this really is what I try to do and take into consideration when I'm feeling "weary and beaten down a little and I don’t get a break."

1) Pray. No matter how bad it gets, I know I'm not in this alone. God, who loves me more than I can imagine and has my back, is always my confidant, biggest cheerleader, and best advice giver. And He has already given me absolutely every single thing that I need to be the best mama, better than any other woman, to my children. If I can put my faith in this, (and that's easier said than done) the rest is gravy.

2) Do what you love. I love photography. Photography has the power to whisk me away to another world. When things are getting stressful, (and by stressful I mean that Boo is terrorizing the screeching younger children) I often pull out my camera simply because it makes me happy. Even better if I can include my children in what makes me happy. Sometimes we go on a "photo safari," or I use the occasion to take early (or late) birthday pics of one of the kiddos. Perhaps you love reading, knitting, writing, painting, craft projects, or geo-cashing. Do something you love when parenting is getting the best of you, and if you can get the children involved in it, then it's a win-win solution for all!

3) It's ok to hide. Sometimes I know when my mood is turning. But sometimes it's Papa that's the first to notice my beaten-down demeanor. Isn't it funny how often we moms don't even know how weary we're getting? When Papa notices this, he might suggest that I go get a pedicure, take a little nap, enjoy a bath, or just go away somewhere alone. No matter who notices it, 20-30 minutes alone with just my thoughts is an amazing refresher that can restore my perspective.

4) Change the scenery. Go grocery shopping. Run to the bank. Drop off those hand-me-downs. If you're anything like me, there's a list a mile long of errands that need to be run anyway. And while you're at it, put on the comedy station in the minivan to release those endorphin and change your mindset. A change of scenery can can kill two birds with one stone! There was a particularity difficult season in my life many years ago, when I would plead to run all errands anytime of day, just so I could get away in the car and listen to comedy radio. It didn't solve any problems, but during that season, it helped keep me sane.

5) Keep your marriage strong. Keeping a marriage healthy is work. In the 21 years Papa and I have been married it has definitely gone through different seasons with trials, smooth sailing, and everything in between. But all the while we work on it. We try to have "date night" at least once a week, even if it's just to the grocery store. We have become big fans of Applebee's (only a few minutes from our house) 2 for $20 on a weeknight after the younger children have gone to bed. A weekend away alone at least once per year is a priority. We have rules for fighting fair. And a strong marriage is pretty much a necessity for co-parenting.

6) Seek out your closest girlfriends. I have 3 women in my life I trust completely. They know my secrets. We have similar ideals and values, although age doesn't seem to matter. They know my faults and even my children's faults and still love all of us unconditionally. I work at these 3 relationships much like I work at keeping my marriage healthy. And when we get together, which we make sure happens regularly, we discuss the tough stuff as well as the celebrations. I can call any one of them up any time with any issue and often do. And they do the same with me. A sounding board that loves you and has your back, does a world of wonders.

7) Say your sorry, and keep your big "but" out of it. No matter what, there are those moments when I mess up big time. I yell. I say the wrong thing. I lose my temper. And countless other sins. You know the ones, the times you regret and can never take back. My children deserve to hear sorry on these occasions. So I suck it up and apologize, and be sure to do it without a big "but." None of "I'm sorry I yelled, but you know that you need to clean you room." 'Cause a real apologies don't have a but in it.

8) Get some sleep. One thing I know about myself is that if I'm not getting enough sleep, (which let's be honest, happens quite frequently with young children in the house!) I can be a bear. So a power nap (30 minutes max, or I just can't seem to wake up afterwards) when Mimi is napping helps so so much. I've long gotten over feeling guilty about sleeping midday. I try to go to bed early when I didn't sleep well the night before. A happy, well-rested mama is worth more than a load of folded laundry or clean dishes any day!

9) We've now come to the TMI portion of the blog... consider what time of the month it is. I know there are a few days each month that find me particularity... what's the technical word for it... whackadoodle emotionally sensitive. I know it's not this way for all women, but for me it definitely happens. During these days, I try to keep my head down. I try not to confront the big stuff. If there are any issues that need to be addressed, I differ the discussion a few days. There's nothing here that says to dismiss my feelings, but hormones can play a real role in a woman's state of mind so I might as well acknowledge and deal with it.

So there you have it.

Does it always work? Nope.

Do I always remember to do this? Not even close.

Do I still get tired and weary? Totally.

Do I make mistakes? Oh yea.

Is it easy? No way!

But do I try to do better? Absolutely.

Does it help to have a plan? For sure!

Am I still learning from my mistakes? Yep.

'Cause there really isn't a better alternative for my family and me.

I've told myself this mantra countless times, Do the best you can do with what you have at the time. And give the rest rest to God.

'Cause in the end, that's all we really have anyway.



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Life Time Friends

 Chloe and Bei are reunited again.   Chloe was adopted from the same orphanage as Bei.

 We feel fortunate that the J family is willing to drive the 7 hours north to spend a long weekend with us.

There were alot of smiles and laughter all weekend.

 Bei's cousin's even got into the action.

Frog hunting was one of the biggest sports of the weekend!
Within 30 minutes of the kids playing together, Bei crawled up on my lap and said "I wish I could live with them."   I bet he does!!!  Five kids to play with and two of the nicest people you could ever meet for parents.   Sorry kid...you are stuck with us!!   The kids really got along well and kept themselves very busy when we weren't on the water.   The week after the J's left, Bei told me this story with GREAT INDIGNATION at least twice a day until I pointed out the illogic in his argument.   "Mom, you know the little girl with the long hair??  Ya Bei, Minah?  Ya her...she wasn't nice to me when I was mean to her!!  OH REALLY?!?!  When I finally questioned him about why he was being mean to her, he walked away and hasn't mentioned it since.   Hopefully, he wasn't too mean to her, but if anybody can take care of herself, it is Minah...she is a spitfire.   Once again she made me laugh alot.   The J's blog is www.talesof2princesses.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

H2O Times

 Kai excited that he finally gets to wield the hose at his brother!

 Fortunately Bei is a BIG ham and really puts a show on for Kai

 If only Kai could reach Bei
 Regardless of how much water is really hitting Bei, it delights Kai...look at that clenched hand!

 How exactly are you doing that Big brother?

Let me give it the no hand try!

This little sweetie pie starts school next week already!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

IEP Lessons - Part 2

This is the second part to my IEP post titled "Equal Rights."   These are just some of the things that I have learned through my experience with our school district. 
1.        Understanding  Your Role as an Advocate

·         It is not only our duty and obligation, but also our honor and priviledge to be the voice for our children.   There may be some stressful times, pressure filled meetings but it is imperative that we fight for the education that our special children deserve.

·         We need to direct our children’s education.   The IEP team can provide their expertise but you are the ultimate decision maker regarding his/her education.

·         We have our children’s best interest in mind.   The rest of the IEP team has 40 other students on their mind. 

·         By researching the most current methodologies, theories and curriculums, you will gain a knowledge base about how children with your child’s special need learn.

·         Understand the basic premise behind special education, which is the fact that the school district has to service our children with their unique special need.   They are not allowed to lump him in a classroom because they don’t have the right services available.   It is our job to hold the school district accountable.

·         Observe any classroom placement prior to agreeing to it. 

·         Have high expectations for our children and their IEP goals.

·         Ask for a copy of our children’s school district file on an annual basis.

·         Asks lots of questions and follow up to make sure that all questions are answered.

2.       Be Prepared

·         Use the assessments and evaluations conducted by the school district to build your argument.  

·         Write out your expected outcomes or goal for the meeting.  

·         Put together your thoughts in written form so that you can stay organized during the meeting.  

·         One of the best tools is to write out the timeline of every important event conducted by the school district starting with the evaluation, up until the current meeting.  The timeline will provide a big picture in addition to getting your facts and dates together.    

·          If you feel that the meeting will be contentious practice verbally ahead of time, even trying to predict what the school districts rebuttal will be to your request.   

·         Determine your emotional state of mind prior to going into the meeting.   (At one of our meetings that we knew was going to be especially contentious we decided that we would not refute anything said to goad us into an emotional debate, we stayed with the facts and ignored emotional comments made by the school personnel).

·          Have a friend come in and take notes during the meeting due to the large amount of information being passed back and forth between the school and parents.  

·         Follow up with the meeting with an email recapping what you thought you heard in the meeting and the stated outcomes.

3.       Understand the Legal Process of the IEP

There is an entire legal process that the school district needs to follow to meet our children’s special educational needs.   We need to know and understand the IEP process and what the school district is required to do to conduct the IEP, including the legal time frames and the denial process if we request a service and it is denied by the school.   Additionally, we need to familiarize ourselves with the IEP terminology such as Prior Written Notice, direct and indirect services, etc.

4.        Know Our Children’s Rights Under the Disability Law

Under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), there are 4 basic rights granted to children with special educational needs.  Know these and understand how they are applied to the to the individual educational plan; 

·         Free Access to a Public Education (FAPE) – Under this right the school district has to provide free access to an appropriate public education.   The school district is not required to provide the best public education, it only has to be appropriate.  

·         Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) – Students have a right to be with non-disabled children.   For some of us the LRE is having our children with other children like them such as hearing impaired children.    This right also includes that disabled children also should have access to any general education curriculum that is afforded a non-disabled child.

·         Supplementary Aids and Services – Aids and services to help a disabled child obtain success in ac classroom.

·         Assessments – evaluation of your child with quantifiable measures.

A great website to learn your rights is called www. wrightslaw.com

5.        Don’t Be Afraid To Ask for Help

If you think that your child should be receiving services granted under the IDEA, contact an advocacy group.   Their responsibility is to;

·         Teach us our rights under the law.

·         Train us how to be advocates for our children

·         Increase our expectations for our children.

·         Support us at IEP meetings when necessary.

Friday, August 10, 2012


I wanted to call this post "Mother Knows Best", but Perplexed is much more fitting.  For the past year I believed that Kai's hearing was much better than what his Auditory Brain Stem Response (ABR) revealed.   Recently, he was tested in the auditory booth by the Audiologist and she turned to me in sheer wonder and said he is consistently responding to hearing in the mild range!!!!   When he tested in the booth at a much better hearing level I jumped for joy because finally a professional was seeing what I have thought for the past year.   My concern has been that his hearing aids are too loud and that has been the main reason why he continually has pulled out his hearing aids.   Today, we had another sedated ABR to get a better reading on his hearing.   Previously, his left ear began hearing at the 35 decibel range for certain frequencies, which is considered mild and his right ear began hearing at the 50 decibel range.   The response of the second sedated ABR is that the 35 decibel range in his left ear has now dropped to 50.   The fact that it has dropped 15 decibals totally caught me off guard.   I swear that little boy hears so much of what I have to say when he isn't aided.   However, one-third of children that  have hearing loss due to Connexin 26 have progressive hearing loss.   I pray that Kai's hearing loss doesn't continue to progress.   In the meantime, I will remain perplexed how this little boy who isn't suppose to hear my quiet voice can follow my instructions perfectly.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Guest Post - Hearing Loss

A blog reader, John O'Connor recently emailed me and asked if I would be interested in posting an article that he had written about hearing loss. This article really resonated with me because as a parent of a child with moderate to severe hearing loss, I am now aware of how precious and important hearing is to our daily lives. We as a society take our own hearing for granted, we assume it is always going to remain the same. Thank you John for sharing your article.

Hearing Loss and Your Health

One of the most widely overlooked aspects of a person’s health is their hearing. Every year, people have annual physicals, their vision checked and visit the dentist, but having one’s hearing checked is done very little in comparison. Hearing loss is commonly seen as being an issue that only affects senior citizens, although this is a huge misconception. In reality, anyone, from very young children to the elderly, can suffer hearing loss. According to NIH Senior Health, approximately 36 million American adults claim they have some hearing loss and that the problem is more common in men than in women.

Hearing loss can occur for a variety of reasons. While some instances are inherited genetically, many more are due to an exposure to noise. Referred to by the acronym NIHL, noise induced hearing loss is something that is completely preventable and typically affects individuals who have jobs that involve constant noise, such as construction workers, those who travel regularly by public transportation mode the subway and people who attend concerts or other loud events without protecting their hearing. A pair of earplugs that are made from wax, foam or even those that are made at an audiologist’s office that are specially molded to one’s ears are excellent for protecting hearing.

While they can only reduce noise by between 15 to 25 decibels, earplugs are effective.  Other health issues can come about as a result of hearing loss. The most common is tinnitus, which is essentially a high pitched ringing or hissing in the ears that is most noticeable when the person is in a quiet situation such as going to bed. Tinnitus cannot be cured and cases range from relatively mild to sometimes sever. 

When hearing loss is enough of a problem to affect an individual’s everyday life, it is a good idea to make an appointment with an audiologist and consider possible treatments such as getting a hearing aid. Today hearing aids are smaller than ever with the progression of technology so that they can be inserted into the ear without anyone even noticing. Getting a hearing aid when it is needed can help a person recapture some of the hearing they once had.

About the author: My name is John O'Connor, over the past few years I have become more and more interested in hearing loss. My father and grandfathers along with many other family members and friends are affected by hearing loss. I feel that there is a general lack of understanding around the issue and it is right to try and spread awareness where we can. My new blog can be found at bloggingwjohno.blogspot.com, check it out!