Thursday, June 25, 2020

Fiona is NINE Months Old

Dear Fiona,



You are NINE months old. 

You have been on the outside for as long as you had been inside! As per tradition, Mama has to take a picture of you on the outside with her! It is kind of wild to think about that. This is becoming a broken record, but Mama just can't help to be in awe of HOW FAST time is going by. How is that possible?! There has been a time when you fit so neatly in the crook of her arm, and now you're a barrel of pure cuteness that envelopes her whole chest as she carries you. You are absolutely precious, and Mama can't help but feel so lucky to have you and your brothers. 


You are 17 pounds based on your previous wellness visit, although you may have gained another pound since. Mama notice that you have a tendency to gain a pound per month, and that makes it easy to keep track of your growth. You have chunky thighs, and a Buddha belly. It is what makes babies so squeezable and lovable! It is rather interesting to see how you and your siblings all differ as babies in term of body shape, and size. Of course, all of you are adorable! 

You are in size 4 for the diapers. Mama has finally figured out how to manage your chronic diaper rashes by switching to a different brand without latex present inside of it, and using overnight diapers also really have helped. It is possible that you have a sensitivity to latex. This doesn't surprise Mama at all, because she and Franklin both are sensitive to latex. 

You are nearly out of 9 months clothes, and entering 12 months clothes. Right now, 12 months set is a bit loose on you, yet the 9 months clothes are growing snug! Sometimes, it can be tricky when you are in between the sizes! Nonetheless, it has been so much fun buying you adorable outfits. Sometimes, Mama thinks that you have been saved for the last so Mama can afford to buy you all of clothes, and headbands! 



Your next wellness check will be on July 6th.  By then, Mama will get a better idea of how much you weigh, and how taller you've gotten since your last one! Mama enjoys seeing where you and your siblings fall on the growth curve. All of you are pretty similar with how you have been growing. Isn't genetics fun? You are due for two more vaccines, since Mama opted to migrate vaccine schedule for you, because 4-5 shots seem to be a lot at once, and she prefers you to have shots more spaced out with your pediatrician's okay. Nonetheless, you should be all caught up by your next wellness check. 

You love to babble, and vocalize. Forrest and Franklin are amused by your shouts. It is a good sign that you are able to vocalize, but you are most likely going down the direction of being delayed.  Mama and Daddy are in the process of enrolling you into birth to three program for speech. They've learned that it is better to tackle this while you are still young, and to help promote the growth of speech development. It can be a challenge to have a stay at home mom who is Deaf, and does not speak. This decision will help you to stay on the track in term of speech, and not to need as much intervention down the road. Thankfully, they know a lot of wonderful people ready to step in to assist you with what Mama can't. Hopefully, you will be eligible, and get in sooner instead of later. With the speech part down, you are still learning to sign, and communicate by signing. You look at Mama intensely when she reads to you, or when she is signing. You are able to sign MILK, and squeeze your hands when you are hungry. Mama has been teaching you a lot of basic signs, and she knows you will be able to pick them up in no time! 


With summer being in a full force, you have been introduced to a wading pool. Oh boy, you most certainly DO NOT like it when water is too cold. You have a strong preference for lukewarm water. It means Mama has to fill the pool in the early hours of morning, then let temperature warm up the water, and by the time when afternoon rolls around, the water is perfectly warm, and you tolerate it just enough to sit in it. If water is not allowed to warm up, then you want nothing to do with it. Fox loves splashing around in it with you. The older 2 are too old for the wading pool, and because of this, they have a giant trampoline with a mister system. It is just enough for them to remain cool on a hot day. 

You have a touch of stranger anxiety. Mama is not sure if your sudden shyness is because of CVID19 pandemic forcing everybody to socially distance themselves, meaning a lot of less human interaction, or because it is your personality. Mama remembers how shy she was growing up, and wonder if you will end up being the same, or if this is just a phase, and you will end up being an outgoing child. You have a strong preference to be by Mama when extended family members come around. Otherwise your little lips will quiver, and you burst in tears when your grandparents or extended family members try to take you from Mama. Your favorite people remains to be Forrest, and Mama. 


You recently started crawling! In the beginning, you scooch everywhere by dragging your bum across the floor, which was funny, and then one day, you suddenly went into a superman pose. Then you discovered you could stand on the fours, and began rocking back and forth. Everybody in the family noticed this, and kept urging you on. Gradually, you learned how to move forward, slowly but surely. Once you realized that this method brought you to your desired destination, you picked up your speed, and got further every time! 

So this begins the age of mobility! No longer you will be content with staying put in, and whatever allures your interest, you must go towards it. You don't like to be still. You pull yourself up to your knees against someone when you want their attention. You have not attempted to pull yourself up on the sofa, even though Mama has caught you several times doing this in your crib! You are nearly there with being able to sit up unassisted from laying down. You have got strong abs, that's for sure! 

You are still doing awesome with BLW. You are able to pick up food with your pincer grasp, and stuff whatever into your mouth. When you see your brothers snacking, you immediately try to pull yourself up against them to grab whatever they are eating. Mama often have to remind the boys not to give you food unless it's "Fee Safe". The boys are pretty good at knowing which food to give you. While Fox is still too young to distinguish the safety among food for you to consume, his stubbornness and unwillingness to share may have come in handy! Speaking about food, with harvest season just around the corner, Mama is excited to introduce you to all of delicious fresh fruits and vegetables. You've recently sampled freshly picked strawberries, and LOVE snacking on them! Mama plans on picking more strawberries for you and the kids soon. 



You love playing with your feet. You're always picking your foot up, and trying to bite your toes. It's rather endearing! You're always bouncing up and down as well as leaning forward. More often than not, Mama has to grab you before you topple over! You enjoy stacking cups, and chewing on whatever falls onto your laps. More often than not, Mama has caught you chewing on Otis's rubber toys! Silly you. There's no clear division of what you can and can't chew among you and Otis. You two share everything. Mama suppose that it is good for your immunity system? After all, you're a fourth child! It is rather nice to have you and Otis grow up together, even though Otis may be growing up quicker than you are. Otis may be a pest sometimes, and has to be supervised around you and kids all of the time, because he doesn't always know that his puppy nips can hurt. Despite this, he is so gentle, and good with all of you. Sometimes, he doesn't realize his own size, and attempt to sit on you! What a goofy dog. On the other hand, Bea could care less about you crawling everywhere, and contently sleeps in the sunlight in the midst of chaos! 

You are on the verge of outgrowing your infant car seat carrier. It is a bit strange, because your older brothers outgrew their infant car seats by 5-6 months old. Not you. Of course, the pandemic may have played a role in this as well, because Mama hasn't been taking you out very much these days besides from outdoor activities, an occasional trip to a store while babywearing you, or walks around the neighborhood. Mama is currently looking at convertible car seats, and hoping to purchase one by end of the month. You're growing up too quickly! 


With the boys being at Camp Grandma for a week, you've been spending a lot of one on one time with Mama, and Mama is just soaking up this time with you. Perhaps in the future, this can become Mama-Daughter time while the older boys go on a week long trip in the summer? Or who knows, you might want to join them too. Who knows! 

Mama is excited to see what month 9 brings to you, Dear Fiona. You continue to be a joy, a dream come true, and cherished by all of us. 

Love,

Mama, Daddy, & the Boys



Thursday, June 18, 2020

Fox is THREE Years Old

DEAR FOX, 



You are THREE years old.

Oh, what a sweet, mischievous, wild, loving, hilarious, sensitive, sly, determined, thoughtful, a mixture of boldness and careful trepidation, expressive, and wonderful child that you are. Mama calls you her Wild, because that's what you are! You remind her so much of Max from Where the Wild Things Are by Jonze and Dave Eggers. You are now entering preschool stage in your life, leaving behind toddlerhood, and hurtling toward childhood...too quickly for Mama's liking if she must confess. 

Mama and Daddy often finds themselves accidentally thinking, or telling people that you are younger than you really are. Matter of fact, Mama had to correct herself the other day by telling herself that you were about to turn three...not two! It is partly due to parents' brain, and partly because it is hard to believe how fast time has gone by since you were born! It is hard to imagine that you once fit neatly in a crook of Mama's arm, and now you envelope Mama's whole body as she carries you upstairs to bed. Matter of fact, the other night when she checked on you, fast asleep, you remind her so much of a young child instead of a toddler. She even thinks she saw a bit of Franklin in you! 



You absolutely love being creative, and creating things. Mama may not be a fan of this, but you love playdough, and can spend at length of period mixing dough together to create rainbow swirls of mess! You love helping Mama with painting the frames, gluing pieces together, and picking out papers for her craft flowers. You attempt to help your older brothers, much to their dismay, to put lego blocks together. You laugh, and scream in delight when you splatter together a mud pie in our backyard. You squint your blond eyebrows together as you bite on your lip while you carefully color. You enjoy "writing", which consists of a lot of scribbles and marks. Mama often finds a lot of scrap papers laying around with those little scribbles! This always make Mama smile. There is something really sweet about your little scribbles! Sometimes, you even scribble in Mama's or Daddy's books! Those books often have to be rescued from your curious fingers, especially when you are holding a pencil in your other hand! 

Just like your older brothers, you are late at teething business! Your canine teeth finally came in after what felt like was forever. Mama was beginning to worry that you lacked canine teeth, despite your dentist assuring her that your canine teeth were visible via x-ray at your 2-year old check up. Your 2-year old molars also finally came in!! Thank the lord! The molars were pushing you (and Mama) to the brink of sanity. Fortunately with all of your teeth erupted, you didn't have to worry about teeth eruptions anytime soon...that is until your baby teeth fell out. 

You are still a great eater. You like eating a good variety of food, even though you have a strong liking for goldfish crackers, and chips! You have not met a food that you'd turn your nose up to. However, with you being a toddler, you do have your days where you'd eat everything in the sight, then none at all the next, or have a strong inclination for particular food. This is as to be expected when it comes to tiny humans like you! You prefer oranges when it comes to fruits, but you are willing to eat what is given to you...that is if you are in a good mood! 


You are a wonderful, and loving big brother to Fiona. You've adjusted so well to being a big brother with no trace of jealousy, or acting out. As long as you get to cuddle with Mama, then you are good. You enjoy staring at Fiona, and making sure she has her Nuk in. When she accidentally pops a nuk out while she's sleeping, then you quickly ram it back into her mouth. You mean it with a lot of love though! You splash water not so gently on Fiona while she is bathing with you, and proudly tell Mama that you are helping her. You love playing with Fiona's toys, and chewing on her chewing toys! Silly you, sweet Fox. You desperately want to be able to hold her just like how your older brothers are able to, but you are still a bit too young to be able to do this safely, and often need one of the parents to help. It is so sweet to see your relationship bloom with Fiona, and it is different from your relationships with your older brothers with her, because you and her are the youngest siblings. It means that you will be a part of her life longer while you two are growing up, because by the time Fiona is eight, then Forrest will be sixteen, and Franklin would be fourteen. So you are going to be the closest link with her in term of growing up together. Mama is hopeful to see your relationship to foster, and grow into a loving one. It will be a different dynamic from what Forrest and Franklin had growing up together. 

You have a such gentle soul. You love sitting nicely, and patting your pets. You do it so softly, and sweetly. Your empathy is out of the world. You sign "scared" when you see something scary on television, and grimace at Mama. When someone gets hurt, you point at them, and sign OW OW, and look so sad. When you witness joy and happiness, you can't help but to bounce with joy too! You love being cuddled, especially with Mama, at the night. You hold on to her braided hair, and rub the edge on your face. You blow kisses every time you are tucked at the night, and ask for a hug. Sometimes twice in a row! You happily sit with one of your older brothers to watch TV, and munch on the popcorn. You get so excited when you see your grandparents on Facetime, or Marco Polo. You cuddle, and stroke your stuffed animals as if they're your baby. You love piling up your bed with Mama's cardigans, the more, and the better it is! You laugh when Daddy blow raspberries on your neck. You love wrestling with Daddy, and brothers. You proudly take your shirt off, roar, and run head on at someone while roughhousing! It is quite funny. 

As sweet natured person as you can be, you also do have your wild side! Sometimes you make your older brothers, or parents want to send you to the zoo! You take a thrill of being chased with a forbidden item in your hand, screaming in glee, and using your lightning quick moves to elude capture of an exasperated pursuer. You laugh in a maniacal crackle as you stand on top of the dining table with your arms reaching out to the ceiling lamp, and if it is possible, then you'd be swinging from it! You grab a second bag of chips, which is not allowed after having one bag per day, and squeeze into a cupboard to hide, and eat. You stick your head under a pillow to suck on your thumb after Daddy tells you not to suck. You babble loudly as you read from Forrest's pokemon book, then dart in a flash when Forrest realizes you have his book! When told NO, you crumble onto the ground, scream as loudly as possible, and hit your head on the floor. Mama and Daddy have considered purchasing you a biking helmet just to protect your precious nugget! Your lower lip quiver as you pout when you realize you are not getting what you want. You stand on top of a changing table, and balance delicately as if you are a surfer riding a tumultuous wave! You pull the curtain cord  just to see the curtain roll up just to hear it squeal as the curtain quickly roll onto the rod. You scold your older brothers when they are in trouble; showing off the most stern expression with a finger wagging in their faces, and a hand on your hip, and making a perfect teacher position. It is quite hilarious. 

     

You switched to a toddler bed at age two and half, because you started climbing out of the crib! Mama and Daddy couldn't believe it at first! They thought that surely either Forrest or Franklin must have taken you out of the crib, and unleashed you. Forrest and Franklin both insisted it were not them, and with time, Mama caught you climbing out of the crib like a monkey!! Your crib mattress was already at the lowest bracket, and you were approaching three; this meant your weight and height restriction were already met, and it was just a matter of time. You struggled with the transition in the beginning. You missed the comfort of bars around you, and the newfound freedom felt strange. With nothing else changed, and your favorite blankets (and Mama's cardigans), you realized that a bed wasn't bad after all! Although, there has been nights, when Mama checked on you after nursing Fiona, where Mama has to softly return you back to bed, because you ended up sleeping on the floor from either falling out, or on your own accordance. 

Your EI (early intervention) speech had come to an end in an unconventional way, because of a pandemic. As you started your transition out from EI into school system for speech therapy, CVID19 occurred, and in home visits were no longer allowed. Kim had to think of a creative way of continuing speech! She facetimed you once a week to work on speech, and tried to keep it short as possible, because your attention span was too short without in person play based therapy. It was the best that Kim could do, and Mama and Daddy were grateful for her to be able to try with you, because speech therapy was too important to be discontinued. Because of the EI program was based on birth to 3, and you turning 3 soon; Karla, the director, worked with Mama and Daddy, Erin (the school speech therapist), a school psychologist, and Kim to facilitate the transition process. It was decided that come this fall, you were going to work with Erin to continue speech. Mama and Daddy had no doubt that you would catch up, and be able to get up to the par among your peers in term of speech by the time you turn 4. 

Having said this, your speech is still imperfect, and that is okay! You are still working on learning how to speak. You often babble, and speak in gibberish. There is a time in your life where you would not respond vocally to anyone while they are talking to you. So for you to respond, albeit gibberish for most of it, to someone is a huge progress! Mama finds it rather endearing how you stick your tongue out while you are speaking. You have the most fantastic facial expressions while talking nonsense. Daddy and Mama often wonder what you are thinking as you speak "Fox-ism". Based on your older brothers, there will be time when your thoughts will come with clarity, and privy anyone around you to your world! 


In fall, it is planned that you will go to St. James three times a week, and it will help greatly with socialization and speech. Mama can't believe it is that time though. It feels like that you're a tiny baby yesterday, and now you're a bouncing three year old! Just like Mama had mentioned, you will be also going to Hillcrest for speech once a week for 60 minutes. This plan may change this come fall. Mama is hoping that everything will be cleared in time for all kids to return to school, because she would hate for you to miss out on 3K experience that your older brothers had. It is important to Mama and Daddy that you and your brothers have your formal education to be continued. 

Of course, this all greatly depends on how bad the pandemic will be this fall. You see, we have been experiencing a historical event in regard to CVID19 virus, and it is throwing all of us in a lurch. 

In early March, many public buildings, schools, and businesses closed to curtail the curve of the virus's impact on the population. This meant your older brothers were suddenly home full time! You and your siblings, along with Mama and Daddy, had to practice social distancing, and stay at home for several months. At first, it was a month, then it became two months. Schools closed for the rest of the year! Food stores had to reduce their hours, because of stockpiling, and shortages. It was quite scary, and difficult to cope with. Mama and Daddy tried to keep things as normal as possible in home, and to provide some sense of security during a confusing time. Despite a lot of unknowns and fears, there had been wonderful instances of community coming together, and helping each other out. For instance, you kids had been receiving both breakfast and lunch meals from school to eat at home! This eased load off Mama's shoulders to have to shop for food, and making sure that you all had enough to eat. Mama and Daddy haven't been sharing much about outside news with you kids, because they feel that you all need some respite from being scared and worried. 



Easter was a strange one. This was a holiday that you as family always spent time with extended family (whether it's Daddy's or Mama's side), and it always had been that way for years. Suddenly, this year it was required that you all stay at home, and Mama had to be creative with making Easter dinner. Easter bunny came! It brought you all goodies, toys, and wonderful things. Grandma Bobbie even had Uncle Spencer drop off the bag of delicious cookies she made for you all. As sad as it was not to spend time with family, it was so good to bond and spend time together as a family of six. 

Nonetheless, this has been particularly hard on all of you kids, because you all are limited with how often you can go out, who to play with, and deal with being cooped up together nearly 24/7. It has not been easy at all. Mama and Daddy are working hard to make sure you all get individual space, and breaks from each other as well as to be able to go outside to play. With the weather finally warming up, it does help a lot to be able to go for frequent walks, discovering wildlife (frogs, turtles, oh my), being creative while playing with the neighbor kids, creating sidewalk art, and fishing. You are even helping Mama and Daddy with urban gardening! There may be uncertainty with what may unfold for the rest of the year with school, and speech therapy, but what is not uncertain is that we will always stick together, and make the best out of a bad situation. It is said that a vaccine will be found within 12-18 months, and this is only but a blip in time that we will look back to remember. Mama is hoping that you kids will remember more good than bad. 



You've had a bumpy start with potty training. You exhibited a lot of readiness, and interest. However, you struggle with the emotions of highs and lows. It has been difficult to proceed with the training with your meltdowns. Mama decided to take a step back to allow you process it, then try again. It is not until recent that you've decided to try again, because you notice that your older brothers use toilet. You are starting to realize that you get to eat delicious skittles when you go on toilet! Perhaps you will give it one more shot again? Nonetheless, potty training is something that will go with your cues, and your level of comfort, instead of Mama trying to force it on you when you are not ready. Mama is really hoping you'd be trained by the end of summer. It would be nice to cut down on the diaper bill! 

Once you are potty trained, Mama is hoping to start the next step to wean you off thumb sucking. You have a habit of sucking on your thumb when you are tired, and this may be challenging to try cut you off from this habit. Out of all 4 children, you are the only one who does this. It just means that you and Mama will be exploring a new territory together! It will be definitely interesting to see how this goes, seeing that your thumb is permanent, and not something that she can quickly take away. 

Something exciting had happened. Mama and Daddy welcomed a new family member, a Golden Doodle, Otis! It is in their hope that Otis would become a school therapy dog. If this does not pan out for Otis, then that is okay, because he will just end up being a very well behaved house pet! You are not always so crazy about Otis, because he has quite sharp puppy teeth that hurts when he nips you from playing so hard together. You don't like it when Otis tries to steal your snacks. Mama has been working hard with you to help you stay secure, and safe from unnecessary food stealing, and nipping! When Otis is calm, you quite love cuddling with him, and let him lick you! It will be awhile before Otis settles into adulthood. It is nice to have him grow up with you and Fiona! 


We are eager to see what year 3 will bring to you, and what you will learn from being in preschool. We are hopeful that one day you will start speaking a lot more, and signing what all of the things that goes through your mind! You will flourish so much with new friends, and have fun learning. You are a beautiful rainbow in our lives, and we are so lucky to have you in our lives. 

Love,
Mama, Daddy, Forrest, Franklin, & Fiona 

Monday, June 15, 2020

What Did You Say? #7

How Microsoft helps deaf people 'hear' | Windows Central

As a Deaf person, it is a bit difficult to acclimate to the changes that come with CVID19. The first one is clearly the masks. Let me begin by saying this, I am not anti-mask, and am in the favor of wearing one in the public. However, it does bring a set of challenges that a hearing person doesn't have to deal with. We rely so much on the face expressions, and lip movements to be taken into a context around ourselves. When a person's face is partially obscured, it can be difficult for us to interpret, and study their faces. Is he smiling behind the mask? Frowning? Is that a grimace? 

Several of my Deaf or Hard of Hearing friends lamented to me about the situations they ran in with wearing masks. Sometimes, a hearing person end up getting flustered, and keep talking even after being told that we CANNOT understand them. We try to tell them to write, or text on their phone, or even gesture as best as they can. It doesn't have to be perfect, and we are willing to work around that. Accommodating to others is not new for us. For many of us, we have been doing this all of our lives. It can be tiring at times, but given an extraordinary circumstance we are in, we are more than flexible to do this. Yet, we run into the same old problem of a hearing person continuing to speak after being told that we can't understand them. It is extremely frustrating. 

Nonetheless, even when we offer solutions; we often are faced with an obstacle of not being understood, or their unwillingness to communicate with us. For example; one of my Hard of Hearing friend complained how she repeatedly asked for a pen and paper only to be told that they refused to write out of fear of sharing germs. My friend left feeling dismayed, and confused about what had happened. She went to tell me that she did not know what needed to be told to her, and she was not sure how to obtain the needed information. 

Ever since CVID19 has broken out, our dependency on technology has grown, and while the benefits are great, there are also some challenges for us Deaf people. 

I will never forget the day I had to take Fiona to her pediatrician appointment, and this happened very early on in the outbreak of CVID19. I had no interpreter present. I was fortunate to know our pediatrician very well, and she was comfortable with my Deafness. Trust me, I had my share of doctors that DID NOT know what to do without an interpreter present, and it was such a hassle. Anyway, I was given an opportunity to use VRI (Video Relay Interpreting) to communicate with the nurse, and the doctor. Oh boy. Oh boy. The VRI was terrible. The connectivity kept going out, and freezing. The interpreter had a hard time understanding our pediatrician, because she wore a face shield mask with a mask underneath. The mic couldn't pick up her voice (she was already very soft spoken to begin with), and her words came through muffled. I probably got 5 minutes worth of interpreting from VRI during the entire 45 minutes appointment. Honestly, that appointment could have been shortened by 20 minutes if I had a live interpreter, or even working VRI. It frustrated me so much. Fortunately, like I said, our pediatrician was pretty familiar with us, and just took over writing. We were able to conclude the appointment on a better note. 

I hated not having a working technology. This was something that a hearing parent didn't have to worry about. They didn't have to go to their own kid's doctor appointment, and think, Gee will I be able to communicate with the doctor? Or will they have to think, Will I have an interpreter present? What if they're Deaf and blind? Then VRI will be useless pretty  much, especially if the interpreter has a wrong shirt color against their skin tone. 

When my oldest had a google hangout class, I struggle with the volume button, and trying to get it to work. So my kid could talk with his classmates, and teacher! I was tinkering, and trying to figure out why the microphone was not working. It definitely presented a challenge for me, because I could not hear! I had to rely on my oldest to tell me whether it was working, or not. It frustrated me that something so simple had to be complicated. We ran into the same issue with zoom, and I felt terrible not to be able to remedy the problem immediately. A sad kid was hard to deal with! 

I have a several Deaf friends, who were required to meet their coworkers via Zoom or Google Hangout meet, only to run into the challenge of not having an interpreter to participate. So they were left not knowing what happened during the meet. As my friend lamented, I was told to just sit there and look pretty. I felt terrible for her, and had no solace of words to offer. It was those little things that hearing coworkers took for granted. However, on the flip side, I did have a Deaf friend who admitted that he loved that the playing field was all of the sudden leveled among his hearing coworkers, because they all ran into technology problems of not being able to hear, or speak clearly, or dealing with constant freezes. He smiled, and laughingly said, Boy how the tables have turned. 

While I am unable to have an interpreter to join us for zoom meets for my kid's speech therapy, my other Deaf friend is able to get an interpreter for her work meetings, and it goes to show that it vastly varies for us Deaf people. I hate the idea not being able to participate in meetings that has something with my child, and disgruntledly give up the reins to my hearing husband. There is definitely a room in an improvement. All I can say is that I thank gods that I am still able to ask for most of information via email. I do wonder about those Deaf parents, who have only 4th grade reading comprehension level, get by with emails. 

My husband and I have discussed this already. With a new policy in the place for hospitals as a safeguard against CVID19 spread, only one parent can be with the child. If one of our child falls ill, or is struck with an emergency that requires an emergency room visit, then my husband will be the one to go. I am not necessarily a fan of this, because as a mother, I want to be there with my child. I want to be able to sit by my kid's side, and get information right there. The hard reality is that I most likely will not be getting a live interpreter, and VRI is touchy at the best (even if our local hospital provides one). I will be lacking information needed. I most likely will be talked down to, because so many medical professors tend to equate my hearing loss with my intelligence, and assuming that I must not be intelligent enough to understand what is happening. I have so many odds stacked up against me already, and I do not need those to affect my child's medical care. This is again something so many hearing parents don't have to consider. 

So yes, we do get benefits during CVID19 pandemic with technology being widely used, yet it also can be harmful for us. We just ask for an extra understanding, and patience during this crazy strange time. 






Wednesday, June 10, 2020

A New Normal? #6





What life is like now with the dust settling? A lot of initial fear has dwindled somewhat. I admit that I no longer fear going out like I have in the beginning. I am still not necessarily that thrilled to go out in the public with the virus still ongoing. Most of this reservation comes from wanting to protect my kids, and knowing that there are still so many folks that aren't really complying to wearing masks, or even social distancing themselves. It is a hit and miss when I go out; one day, there's a sea of people not wearing masks, and milling among each other (which makes my anxiety go up a bit more), then the next, I see the crowd respectfully giving each other space and wearing masks. I kind of have to mentally prepare myself before I go anywhere, and after I secure someone to watch our kids if Stu has to work. I am still not comfortable bringing our kids out in the public, even though Stu has taken Forrest with him to Tractor and Supply for a quick shopping errand. 

I do still have a box by the door for our shoes to be put in after we go out. I feel a bit better with summer being here (finally), because I don't have to worry about our coats, or winter gear picking up germs. I admit that I have not really wiped down plastic bags from food shopping, and have not had a problem since. I make sure that our countertop are wiped down after I put away the food. I still do disinfect door handles, light switches, and anything we may touch on a weekly basis. 

My view about this has changed; I am no longer afraid, and I am approaching this more from a mindset of prevention. It drains a lot out of me if I am constantly anxious, and afraid. I have to reframe my thinking from that to knowing that I am doing everything right to prevent us from falling ill. I do still find myself faced with some challenges when it comes to allowing our kids to visit, and where? I have to assess the weight of risk vs. benefit. 

Our older two's school has ended for the year. It is beyond odd to not have end of the year school activities. I love rituals. I love traditions. I love picking out gifts for the teachers, and end of the year reports as well as projects to go through. I love having our kids tell us about how their days went during the last week of school, because they tend to have a lot of fun parties, and activities. With school being done, and summer officially starting, I no longer feel that I must keep my kids strictly isolated at home. 

They do need to go out. They need to see family. They need to be able to feel sun on their faces. I can't always tuck them under my wings, and peck at those coming to us. It would be selfish of me to do this, especially after listening to the doctors about the risk of CVID19 being lowered during warmer months, and continue to do prevention steps as much as we can. I feel safe to bring the kids to parks to hike, and run around. I am okay with sending Forrest with Stu to do errand safely. I am okay with slowly reintroducing a friend back into our circle for a playdate. It is a constant calculation of risk versus reward. At the same time, we are not going on vacations, or traveling. We are not going to go out to a crowded lake to swim. We are not going to any places with so many people around. We are not going out to eat at restaurants, and continue to order out instead. When we do go out to do an outdoor activity, we will find a place that has fewer people, or none around.  I foresee a lot of hikes, playing on our trampoline, one on one playdates, visiting our parents safely, going for walks, fishing on a river nearby, and sticking to sparse places. 

We have chosen to do that, because CVID19 is very much so still present, and it appears to me that so many have forgotten that. People have become lax, and causal. I am not necessarily crazy about that. All I can really do is focus on ourselves, and try out best to do prevention care. I don't want to be way too relaxed, because I know it's still ongoing, and there is still an infection being spread, yet at the same time, I don't want to be overly anxious to the point that I can't enjoy anything. 

I am a bit sad that our boys will not be attending summer school this year. It is one more thing they have to miss out on. Even though, I suspect it's not that major of a loss for them! I don't feel it is necessary for them to be on the screen for virtual summer school, and that they are better off without. It is a small sacrifice. There is always next year to reevaluate, and decide. I am uncertain about what is going on for fall. We've decided that we will be sending our kids in person instead of enrolling them for an online program. I have some anxiety about this, and am working through that. I am hoping to hear more details from the school district at some point about how they will handle the outbreaks, and how to protect our kids. There is a lot of unknown yet about this part, and it is difficult for a planner like me, but we all have to go through this to get answers, right? I also find myself saying that I hope I am making the right decision by sending them to school in person. 

Life is not the same as it is pre-CVID19, and I do miss that life. I miss the ability to go out, and not have to worry. I miss not having to debate the choices, and wondering if it is the right one I've made. I long for the freedom of being able to travel, and enjoying our trips. I miss having dinners with our good friends. I want to be able to go to see rest of our family on the whim. I wonder about the holidays; will we be able to safely get together, and spend time with everybody? I don't know what we will do for the summer with so many cancellations.  It is hard. It drains me. I get depressed. I hate that. 

The other night, Stuart and I wondered when we will ever be back to that life again. 18 months from now? Or will it become our new normal, and never go away? Can we be optimistic about our future without CVID19? Or should we be prepared with the knowledge it will always come and go? We are not sure, and it is hard to be in the limbo. 

Friday, June 5, 2020

What About Our kids? #5



We are so busy thinking about the bigger picture, and rightfully so. We are worried about the outcome on our economy, jobs, politics, racial movement, masks, education, and ourselves. But what's about our kids? Have we ever sat down, and thought about the impact on our kids? I am not talking about their physical health, even though we should be worried about the newest trend appearing among children, and it is a complication as a result of contracting CVID19. It is a scary stuff! I am constantly worried about their physical health, and how they will stay healthy throughout this pandemic. I am guilty of that. 

My older two, aged 7 and 5, have gone through so much. 

One day, we are bustling through our morning routine of eating breakfast, getting dressed, brushing our teeth and combing our hair, packing up our assignments in the backpacks, making sure that cold lunches are provided for, and piling up in my faithful old red van to head to school. There, my 5 year old goes to 4K and my oldest goes to first grade. They play with their friends and classmates. They learn about the varied topics of the day. They view their teachers as their "parent" away from home. The oldest have lunch, recess, then continued his learning throughout the day. My 5 year old is picked up mid-morning, and comes home. Then we do our daily routine during the day until we pick up our oldest from school later that evening. 

Suddenly, all of this ended. 

At first, it is fun for my kids. They are given flexibility in their schedule to do packets from school at home, to go bed at later time, sleep in a bit more in the mornings, and they're getting more attention from us. My oldest has taken up reading Harry Potter series, and upon completing a book, we watch a movie! My second oldest has more time to do his art, build lego into amazing art, and to be with his older brother all of the time! They learn how to bake, and cook with me. We conduct wild experiments! Their favorite is creating lava lamp from the scratch, and the 100-year old egg! The older kids learn math by battling Pokemon cards. Our parents call the kids with excitement, and they love it. 

My younger two appreciated more time at home to be with me, to have longer naps, and to have to stick so closely to a strict schedule. I am sure that to our kids, we appeared to be relaxed, outgoing, and provided all of fun to them. In the truth, what they did not realize that we hide our worry behind our smiles, and we tried to compensate the loss of routine and normalcy by giving them more attention, to make it more vacation like during our mandated quarantine. 

As the weeks went on, my oldest started to pick up on things. He began to question. Why can't play with our neighbor friends? Why aren't we going to school? When can we see our grandparents? Why can't I see my friends? Why are you wearing a mask? Why do we have to put our shoes in a box by the door? What is Coronavirus? Why are you so sad? Why are you mad? Why is that person wearing gloves? I miss my friends. I miss my teacher. Are we going back to school? Where is my stuff at the school? Can we get that back? 

We decided that we wanted to be transparent with our oldest, and be honest in an age-appropriate manner. We explained to him that we had to stay at home to slow down the bad germs from making people so sick. It satisfied him. At the same time, the emotional toll did impact him. One day he was surprised by a wonderful video by his teacher, and it left him very distraught. He told me that he was both happy and so sad. He was so happy to see his teacher, but he was so sad not to see her in person anymore. As a mom, it wrenched my heart. How did I navigate through this? This was such an unique circumstance. Even I was struggling. Again, I decided to be transparent. I shed tears with my son, and agreed with him that I also felt both happiness as well as sadness. 

As the lockdown went on longer, I began to wonder the psychology impact on our kids, and wondered if long-term social distancing was healthy for them. Was it somewhat detrimental to their development to be isolated? To be constantly told that they can't interact with people? To distance themselves away from the society? 

As the lockdown lifted, I began to question the weight of risk and reward. Is it worth sending them to grandparents' house for a day? Can they go to a store with me? Would it be good for them to be around so many people, especially if they aren't socially distancing, or wearing masks? Is it really okay for my oldest to hear angry people insulting each other for whether wearing a mask or not, or to comply social distancing behavior? Is it really worth it for them to see all that just so I can grab milk? 

For this upcoming school year, should I send them to school with the pandemic still not being widely understood? I definitely do not want to them to lag in education, and I want them to see their friends again. But do I want them to come back with CVID19? Should I put them through an online school program? But I don't want to be the teacher! I have younger two to worry about as well. It is quite difficult to try teach children with varying education levels. I am so afraid of somehow messing up their education by not teaching this, or that. If the past 2.5 months has been an indicator of how well I teach, then I do not feel confident trying to teach during the whole school year. If I go down that path, then will I make my husband look bad to the community? After all, he's a middle school principal, and advocate for the students to safely return. I know if my kids are given a choice, then they will ask to go back go school! Should I be selfish and tell them no so I can further protect them, or should I just let them go back to school in person? At what cost? At what risk? Should I gamble it, and hope for the best? 

Since CVID19 is only beginning, and will be around for possibly a year, I have so many questions, but no answers. 

Monday, June 1, 2020

A Leaderless Country #4

History is rarely pretty. It is heavily littered by wars, famines, destruction, diseases, and deaths. It has stories of leaders, both good and bad, and recorded all of their doings that they did for their countries. It provided many powerful lessons that many have often been not learned from, and it is often why it cyclically repeats throughout the decades, and centuries. 

It is difficult not to make this post political. I am sure there will be people reading this, and saying hey Ashley, I don't agree with what you've said. That is okay. I respect that. I am not going to try convince you to think otherwise. If your feelings have been diminished for me by what I wrote, then remember that we are all different people, and I am still who I am all along. I like to think that I am a decent person, and I like to think the same about you. I can only hope that we will be able to hear each other out, and talk about this, or agree to disagree, then leave it at that. 

Source: Facebook

In my previous post, I wrote about our country being unique in the sense of being autonomous, and making our own free will choices. That ultimately influenced our decision in how we responded to being quarantined, and wearing masks.  This influence was also shaped by our political figures. 

I do not make it a secret with what I believe, and stand for. I can't say great things about our president. I do not hold any great thoughts, or feelings toward him and his administration. While I hold this sentiment, I also know that there are others who are lacking clarity with how we should lead through this pandemic. I am dismayed by the choices that have been made by some state governors. I shake my head at the ambiguity are constantly being reported by Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, and even worse, they caused a delay with standardized test for CVID19. We keep digging a deeper and deeper hole for ourselves. The rest of the world look at us with pity, and confusion as our rate of death surpassed 100,000.  

A protester carrying his rifle at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich., Thursday. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Source: protest

I was watching news, and reading Facebook posts by many about a protest, which consisted of armed people carrying rifles, that occurred on May first in Lansing, Michigan. They vehemently disagreed with their state governor, Whitmer, for extending stay at home order until May 15th. I understood that it was legal to carry rifles and guns into a state capitol, yet I found the whole act atrocious. Nonetheless, the armed men milled around, decked in vests, camouflage outfits, and clutched to their guns. All in the name of freedom, and disputing the lockdown order. 

Two weeks later, we faced other protest that was transpired by the death of George Floyd. He was murdered on a very public platform for the world to see by a racist officer. Minneapolis dissolved into a state of calamity when people chose to speak up against what had happened to Black, brown, and indigenous people. 

So, you may ask me: Geez, Ashley, I am not sure what is the point of sharing those two protests, because one is about CVID19 and other one is about racism that is not being addressed in our country. My point that I am attempting to make is the leadership we have been dealing with during the pandemic. This is too important to disregard, or dismiss. Here I leave you with an example: 



source: Twitter


The language used by our president to both protests are unacceptable. Period. Again, I understand that both protests stood for different things. I am trying to explain why I feel that we, as a country, is like a ship that is being manned by no one. We are steering aimlessly, and wildly through stormy seas. So many things are falling apart. There are confusion. There are no clarity. Within the span of 3 months, we surpassed 100,000 deaths. That is also unacceptable. Multiple times during the hearing speeches, President Trump has chosen to blame, deflect, and refused to accept any responsibility. He is too busy pointing fingers at other people, other organizations, and even his own administration. My friends, who are not Americans, ask me what is going on, and they do not quite understand how an exceptional country is no longer "exceptional". 

To tie the language use from my previous paragraph to an example; our lovely president has deemed CVID19 as "Chinese Virus", and it is rather cringeworthy. This is only but a spark for further division in our country. I believe that CVID19  is a Trojan horse carrying calamity within; it is a beacon shining upon what is wrong in our country, and bringing the ugliness to the light. While so many of us feel divided by a leaderless leader, I can only hope that we will still unite by standing up against what is wrong, and start repairing the damages to our country. 

It is difficult to pinpoint one example where I am left with no assurance, and wondering what is happening to the rest of us. I could care less what our president stood for in term of a political party choice. I just want to see some kind of leadership. There are so much disputes about the virus. What to do? What is the right thing to do? It would be nice to have a leader of our country to say, hey I know it's a strange time, and honestly, we all don't know exactly what is happening, but I am here with you. I haven't seen that yet. Right now, we are all rats scattering across a sinking ship in hope of surviving the storm. 

This leaves me without confidence that CVID19 pandemic is being handled well for the rest of the year, or possibly beyond that if he is reelected. It only mounts my frustration regarding how everything is being appropriately handled by our own government. I can only hope, and pray that we will get through this somehow, but unfortunately, not without scars from so many unnecessary deaths. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

To Mask or Not to Mask: That's the Question #3


                                                     

It had always seemed so foreign to me to see people wearing masks. My most recent recollection of public requirement for masks as a precaution against disease outbreaks were found among Asian population. It made sense to me, because they had dealt with both SARS in 2002 and Bird Flu in 2006. I had always been an advocate of preventive care. It appeared to me that it was easier to stop things from happening. Why waste so much energy, and resources on cleaning up the mess? Therefore, the whole concept behind mask wearing in Eastern Asian countries struck me as a responsible thing to do. 

Having said that, it still felt foreign to me. We had never had dealt with serious respiratory outbreaks, or had I been so naive to think that we were immune to those? We had flu outbreaks every year, and we still carried on with our lives. The percentage of people lost to influenza every year was heartbreaking, and terrible, yet none of us wore masks to prevent the spread of flu. Some of us faithfully received flu shot. Some of us refused for plethora of reasons. As for us, we always opted for flu shot. When one of us succumbed to flu, we recovered without complication, and returned to our daily lives. Our immunity system were able to fight off influenza. Masks never became a commonplace in our country, unless you had a compromised immune system, and you had one for yourself. 

There has been so much controversy surrounding wearing the masks. 

When this first broke out, there was an outcry from the medical workers, because they lacked PPE gear as well as N95 masks. There were so many stories of nurses, doctors, and medical workers wearing the same mask for an entire shift. It was horrible! Our government's apathy, quickness to blame others, and refusal of accepting their responsibility was quite apparent. I got a feeling that many states were forced to fend for themselves. It was when I made a decision to sew cloth masks. Sure, it was not adequate, or the best protection for our healthcare workers. But it was something! I ended up sewing about 100 masks before finally running out of the supplies. To be honest, I was also becoming burnt out from making so many masks, and I didn't feel guilty for stopping, because there was so many amazing people coming together from all over place to donate their time to sew masks. 

It was how I spent most of March. It gave me a purpose. It made me feel like I was making a difference. I wanted to be a part of the solution instead of being a part of the problem. It also distracted me from all of the unease happening outside of my home, and kept my anxiety at the bay. In the beginning of April, there was talks of CDC recommending EVERYONE to wear masks with an exception of children under age 2, and for those folks with difficulty in breathing. I had no problem with that! I was on board. Sign me up! 

I understood that it was not to protect myself from getting the virus, but to protect others from getting infected from me if I was asymptomatic. It was a responsible, right thing to do. I understood that wearing cloth masks didn't completely stop the virus from being filtered through, and with that knowledge, I was still okay with wearing a mask, because it was better than alternative of not wearing one and blasting germs everywhere. I did not view this as a conformity, or the government dictating our freedom. It was an act of solidarity. Yet I saw so many protests in my state as well as other states about wearing masks in the public. 

Our country has always been run on autonomy. It is what makes us unique. Our free will to make our own decisions, and our own choices. We are not a country where we must rely, and survive by making decisions as a whole. When we are faced with a possibility of having our autonomy taken away, we freak out. Damn them all if my choices are being infringed. This is unconstitutional (never mind that mask wearing is not compulsory). Also, for some, wearing masks is a sign of vulnerability, or weakness. So we must be strong, and brave by not wearing the masks! We must not succumb to our fears! To me, this is a clear case of denial that we are in trouble. It does not help when we see our politicians not wearing masks. It does not help that there is no clarity, or education about wearing masks. Some people have complained that wearing masks are uncomfortable. It's hot! It's stuffy! I can't breath! The ear pieces are rubbing against my ears. It hurts! My glasses are always fogging up. I don't like it. 

The truth is, I believe that masks represent a loss of normalcy, because this is not normal pre-COVID19, and to lose our sense of normalcy is disorienting. The life before COVID19 is gone. It no longer exists. There is grief for that. For those who are not familiar with the stages of grief: Shock, Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression, and finally, Acceptance. I see stages unfolding in people. Shock is worn off for the most part. Now we are witnessing a lot of bargaining, and anger. 

It is disheartening to see people refusing to wear masks in the public. I try so hard not to judge their decision, and it is difficult to not to, because they are putting my loved ones at the risk. Are they that selfish? It also grates me at my nerves when I see people pulling a fast one by claiming that American Disability Act allows them not to wear a mask, because they claim to have a disability that prevents them from using one. I am Deaf, and I have always honestly relied on ADA to have a full access in the world that is not always so accommodating for my needs. For an abled body person to take an advantage of ADA meant for people like me boils my blood. Entitlement has never rested well with me. 

Sadly, the symbol of wearing masks has sadly become political when all along, it should have just been a sign of respect.