Monday, October 28, 2013

Helen Keller: How so Little We Know About Her




Recently, I saw a post going around on Facebook about Helen Keller, and her dog. It was a joke how she mistook her dog for a cat. People found it funny. I did not. Was I offended by people finding it funny? No. There had always been jokes about everything; race, religion, ability, values, and so on. It was just inevitable. However, what I found offensive was the fact that our history disparaged Helen Keller. It hurt to see such an amazing woman to become butt of a joke. It really bothered me for so many reasons. 

Our history books focused on a tiny slice of Helen Keller's life. We all knew her as a "Deaf-Blind" girl who was taught sign language by her teacher, Anne Sullivan, and it was a miracle that she learned sign language. She was shown as this fumbling idiot that suddenly learned how to communicate. Hallelujah! Here was this poor dumb girl that was able to learn. 

Growing up, I was always embarrassed by Helen Keller. I hated being associated to her. Never mind, I was not blind, yet we both shared a similar "disability", our deafness. I despised it when my teacher showed a movie about Helen Keller in our classroom. I literally sunk into my chair when my classmates laughed uproariously when the movie showed Helen Keller as a dirty little girl, who hated being bathed, and made strange startling noises. I hated being associated with that mentality. Hearing kids saw me at that level, and it promoted the belief that Deaf people were not smart at all. It was a miracle that we learned how to sign, and to be able to further our learning experience. I felt subhuman to hearing students in that classroom. I hated the fact that my teacher had this need to point out my deafness even more. My deafness was already obvious with an interpreter in the classroom. There was no need to further emphasize that. My teacher thought she was doing me a favor by trying to educate us about Deafness, and to make me feel "fit in" among my peers. 



It was an unfair perspective that I had based on my experience. I carried that with me for a long time. It was not until my graduate school years until I befriended Deaf-Blind people, and learned about their culture. I realized that I knew so little about Deaf-Blind. I was embarrassed by that lack of knowledge. With gaining friends, who were Deaf-Blind, and working with clients, who happened to be Deaf-Blind; I learned even more about Helen Keller, and I was ashamed of how I felt toward her. I was even more ashamed of how our curriculum, and textbooks mentioned so little about Helen Keller. This feeling was further emphasized by the reading I did of a book called Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Lowen. 

I knew so little about Helen Keller. The chances were that people also did not know much about her either. 

Helen Keller accomplished so much in her eighty-eight years of life. She learned how to communicate by signing, reading, and even speaking!  She learned how to speak by resting her fingertips on Anne Sullivan's lips, and throat to pick up on the vibrations. How amazing was that? Helen Keller didn't stop there. She became the first Deaf-Blind person to have a college degree. From there, she became a very outspoken Socialist, and a quite radical Leftist (for an example, she supported birth control)! Helen Keller became a member of Industrialist Worker of the World, and fought for rights of laborers. Oh no, she didn't stop there. She continued on to become one of the founders for American Civil Liberties Union, which was about lobbying pretty much, and campaigned for Women's Suffrage. She became an advocate for people of disabilities. Helen Keller was very passionate about people, and traveled to give presentations all over the country. She participated in many functions. In 1965, she became one of twenty women elected to the Hall of Fame for Women in Alabama. During all of this, Helen Keller managed to publish 12 books, and several articles. She received many awards, and recognition for her work.

Helen Keller died at age of 88. 

I tell you, Helen Keller is not a fumbling idiot, who made strange noises, and struggled to learn sign language as the history liked to portray her based on a tiny slice of her life. She is an amazing woman, who accomplished so much in her lifetime, and it is sad how our history choose to not paint her in this light. It is very sad. It is why I get so upset when I see Helen Keller becoming a butt of joke. I am not upset with the people, who have choose to post jokes about her, and I am rather upset with the lack of knowledge that we have about Helen Keller. 

If we really know Helen Keller, for who she was, then we would tread lightly before turning her into the butt of a joke. 




Friday, October 25, 2013

What We Are Up To These Days



The weather is starting to carry that bite of chill in its wind. Mr. Old Man Winter is on his way. It is not usual to have it become cold this early, however, it is a bit usual to have snow. We do not have snow on the ground just yet, but we definitely did get some flurries yesterday. I am grateful that we don't have snow on the ground. I am hoping that it will hold out until AFTER Halloween so we trick n treat without feeling like we are being frozen to our bones. I am eagerly looking forward to not one, but two trick treating trips. For someone who has a peanut allergy, this can be a bit scary with all candies being handed out, especially those candies with peanuts, but I am determined not to let Forrest's PA to prevent him from experiencing Halloween as much as other kids does. Forrest is still a bit too young to really enjoy candies. So he won't be eating candies, but Mommy will be. I am not sure if I should be chagrined about this admission or be overjoyed by all those free candies?

Anyway, when Forrest gets to be a bit older; things will be changed a bit to fit with our lifestyles, and it is not major changes. What I will basically do is let Forrest trick and treat for candies just like other kids. Upon arriving home, I will give him a different basket with safe candies, and DONATE what Forrest has collected while tricking and treating. The candies will be donated to hospitals to ill children, who have to miss out on the experience because they are sick, and to the military overseas. They are often homesick for home. Forrest having a peanut allergy is coming to our advantage because I want to instill that value in him to be kind, and considerate of others. Therefore, donating candies is a good way of teaching him this, and he will still get his safe candies. WIN!

Here's a quick preview of our "costumes".  Forrest should be snug, and warm in his lion costume. As for me, it'll be a bit trickier. Obviously, I can't just go out wearing my flannel shirt. I will be too cold. I'm thinking I'll nab Stu's flannel shirt, and wear it over my hoodie or coat. Thankfully, I have a license to be creative with my costume seeing I don't have a real costume to start with--just a few things to piece together for a whole look, and throw on some make-up! I can't wait to see the result, and sharing them with you guys!


With this cold weather coming around, Forrest has a flare-up on his cheeks once again, and I am diligently trying to figure out what the heck the cause is. He had it last year when he was first born, and I wrote it off as a baby thing. Now I know it's Eczema, and I am thinking it is probably from the dry air, from being cooped up inside, and the lack of sun. It is back to our skin regime of having lotion, and humidifying Forrest's bedroom with a vaporizer. It does help. All we really can do is manage it. It should be interesting what Dr. G has to say about that in January.

Last night, Turkey decided it was in a great fun to nab a piece of frozen pizza on the counter, and proceeded to eat half of it. It was pretty much my fault. I had a lapse in my judgment and left it sitting on the counter while the oven was heating up. Of course, Turkey was unable to resist the smell, and decided she had to have it. Therefore, she got it. 

She also paid a visit to a vet recently. We were terribly overdue for her shots, and she needed a physical exam. She passed with flying colors. She was estimated to be 8-year old, and 2 months old. I had no clue how they can pinpoint exact months in a dog's age, but whatever, I figured the vet knew what he was saying. Our vet was pretty nice. He checked her teeth, and determined that the cause was from chewing on the crate whereas our previous vet only could estimate what the cause was. Dr. M said he had seen those cases many times in the past, and was easy to pinpoint the same cause for Turkey. He also figured it was probably why Turkey never had been properly socialized in the first place because she spent her life inside a crate. It pretty much confirmed what we kind of knew all along about Turkey. Dr. M also suggested that Turkey needed a dental cleaning. $215 worth of dental cleaning for a dog. GULP. Who knew that dental cleaning would cost so much for a dog?! 

Nonetheless, she's a family. Hence, she will be getting her teeth cleaned. She needs them quite badly seeing that the health of her teeth is pretty bad--none of our fault, we do maintain her teeth, and she just need tartar off remaining of her teeth. 

Turkey, being Turkey, and picky; is very finicky with her food lately. She wants Forrest's food. Not hers. I think I have found something, after months of trying different dog food, that Turkey likes. It's grain-free Venison dog food. Finally. Let's hope it keeps her interest piqued! 


As for Stu, he has been working hard with wrapping up the football season, and I feel quite bad for him to have stand in the cold at the practices or during game days. So I leave warm dinner in the oven until he gets home, and warm up himself while eating supper. There is only 4 games left then the football season is over...unless if his team goes into play-offs. Then the football season will stretch on a bit longer. Teaching Cirrus school, a new curriculum/school program that is basically about kids being hand-on with projects, and teaching themselves with a guide from teachers, is also time-consuming along with teaching US Advanced Placement History class. On top of this, he is also in practicum for the last leg of grad school program that he is in. Busy guy!

Recently, I had a wonderful friend, G, over for a visit. We grew up together. So, we spent a lot of time strolling down the memory lane, and also spent a lot of time getting to know each other all over again. We haven't had that chance to really hang out in a very long time. It was nice to be able to catch up, and get my batteries recharged. There was just something about having your old friends over, and spending time with them. It did good for my soul. Time went too fast while we were having fun. The visit had to end. Then I was back to my daily grind.

Being a SAHM (stay at home mom) is a great thing. I really do love it. I love being able to stay at home with my kid, and not miss out on his first few years of his life. I love taking Forrest to story hour every Tuesday at 9 am, and exposing him to other babies. I like establishing my own schedule of errands, and having that freedom to shuffle things around as needed. At the same time, it can get a bit tedious, and lonely--imagine having a year old only as your company all day long. Do I imagine being a SAHM forever? Absolutely not. After I'm done with having children, and having our kids enter school, I'll be back to work, and make something out of myself. I don't want just to be known as a "stay-at mom" forever.


Tomorrow is going to be a special day. You see, Stu, and I will be together for 9 years! Holy batman! It doesn't feel like it has been this long for us? I do still remember when Stu asked me to be his girlfriend. Ah, young love. Stu is truly one of my best friends. He has seen me at my worst, and also at my best. For those who know me well, they know I have a tendency to have my head in the clouds, and it is comforting to have Stu to keep me grounded. He is my rock. It is cheesy, I know, but it is true. I've not only gained Stu, but also a wonderful family through him. I'm pretty lucky to have a great family on both sides, and also to have one of our own with Forrest. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Currently.......


LOVING:

electric blanket.
clydesdale horses.
forrest's footie pajamas.
a warm cup of coffee letting off a steam.
littered leaves in piles.
carved pumpkins.
pumpkin seeds.
a nip in the air. 
sweater hoodies.
moccasin slipper boots.
halloween movies.
ghost stories.
old friends.
late-night conversations.
knowing the holidays are just around the corner.

Instagram


READING:

storyteller by Jodi Picoult. it is definitely a great book.
admittedly, i am slightly behind on reading, but for a good reason!
i plan on catching up this week. 


WATCHING:

sons of anarchy. we are on season three, and it's keeping us on our toes!



THINKING ABOUT:

old friends, and how great they are.
about how glitchy my facebook page is being (grr).
the latest episode of SOA.
planning for the week.
painting my nails orange and black.
fall cleaning around the house.
having to clean out the stove--it's a mess.
picking up a few things from food store.
getting everybody signed up for secret santa exchange.
Christmas list for forrest. 
holiday traditions.



LOOKING FORWARD TO:

taking Forrest out trick n treating.
dressing up.
holidays.
giving home-made pumpkin pies to friends.
traditions.
staying warm.
snow. 
a lot of really good food. 
family time.
watching forrest enjoy the holidays.


MAKING ME HAPPY:

wrapping my hands around a warm cup of coffee.
baby hugs. 
old and new friends.
family.
house smelling like pumpkin pies.
bringing forrest into our bed for a few minutes in the morning.
that smell of book in my hand.
a candle releasing the aroma of fall.
just knowing that i am blessed. 




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Built-In Personal Interpreter

Patooties Photography

My VP (my phone; videophone) had been out of commission for a week and half. I had to go through a hassle of customer service in order to obtain a technican to come to my house to correct the issue I had with my VP. The technician, I'll call him R, was really nice. I really liked him. He was personable, warm, and put me at ease for having a stranger in my home. He spoke about his grandchildren, and inquired about Forrest. We talked about children learning sign language because of their Deaf parents. It was a good conversation. I enjoyed it. Then it came to a screeching halt. 

"It is nice to have CODA (children of Deaf Adults) that can sign fairly well because then you can rely on them to interpret for you anytime." He said.

Mentally, I went like this while I had a smile plastered on my face:

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Um. No. No. Nope.

I have always been a very firm believer that kids should remain kids. Parents are there to take care of them. Not them taking care of their parents. Just because I happen to "speak" a different language does not mean my child, especially that he is a bilingual, should automatically become my build-in interpreter.

I internally cringe when a parent rely on their CODA child to interpret what is happening at the doctor's office, in the public at a store, or relaying the information what other adult is attempting to tell Deaf parent. There is a likelihood that the kid will mistranslate, change words, or even completely drop what is being said. I am reminded by this Youtube video of a famous CODA brothers; one of them accompanied their Deaf parent to a customer service, and his Deaf parent was angry. The Deaf parent was all up in the air, signing furiously, and commenting less than kind things to the representative behind the desk. The kid knew exactly what his parent was saying, and simply said, "Oh, he is saying that you have a really nice tie".

It is a funny story. I do get a chuckle out of that. It is to show a glimpse in a hearing child's life with a Deaf parent. Trust me, CODAs have plenty of funny stories to share about their childhoods. I am sure that Forrest will end up having several by the time he is an adult.

However, my child is not my personal interpreter. And he will never be.

I have seen, among my Deaf friends with hearing children, several situations where adults have tried to talk directly to their children with a hope that they will interpret for their Deaf parents, and thankfully, my friends did not take that. They were able to bluntly tell the hearing person that it was not acceptable to use their children as their interpreter. If they had something to say then write on a piece of a paper, or wait for an interpreter to arrive, or find a way to communicate without using the child. I applauded them for that.

Sometimes, bless their heart, the kid will pipe up rather excitedly, and be like, "hey mama or daddy, he is trying to say--", and only to be interrupted by their Deaf parent with a reminder not to worry about what the hearing person has been saying all along. They will take care of that themselves. The kid learned that oh, okay I am not responsible for my parent, and go on their way of being a kid.

Those two situations are very common. It is not only found among Deaf people, but also of those foreign parents with children that can speak English. I am not here to judge the foreign parents. They have their own lives, therefore their own decisions with whatever they wish to do. However, when it comes to Deaf culture; Uh-uh, not cool. I find that I am tempted to strangle some Deaf parents for allowing their children to become their interpreters. Not so cool, I tell you. It prompts that belief among Hearing people that we Deaf people are helpless, and have no ability to be able to direct ourselves in a conversation with a hearing person through finding alternatives if a professional sign language interpreter is not present.

It also teaches our CODA children that they are the bridge between Deaf and Hearing worlds. They are blessed with a privilege of being in both worlds that many Hearing people are not automatically privileged to. Most hearing people have to work at it by becoming our ally, and prove their worth of our trust to become a member of the Deaf world. CODAs are already born into this. Lastly, it is a sign of disrespect to the Deaf parent when a hearing person ignores him/her then communicates through a little child to translate for his parent.

I am not the one to shy away from situations. I demand respect. For a person to ignore me entirely or hope that Forrest will interpret for me is just rude. It places a huge burden on my child to become my "provider". I don't tolerate that. I am his mother. Therefore, I take care of him. It is my job. It is NOT his job to take care of me. I find it selfish if I expect that from him.  I may be crucified for this, and I am okay with that. So yes, I find it selfish of certain Deaf parents to expect that from their children. It's a form of pure laziness. Oh, I don't feel like going through a hassle of trying to tell the hearing person that I need a piece of paper. I'll just ask my kid to interpret for me. Again, No. Not acceptable.

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It really does boil my blood when I see Deaf parents take advantage of their children like that. You are giving rest of us a bad name. You are causing an extra work for me to educate Hearing people NOT to do that. Thankyouverymuch! 

It also boils my blood when hearing people try to do that to our CODA children. You are preserving the belief that Deaf people are unable to stand their own. You are also being extremely disrespectful to us as people when you do this. Of course, I am not going to snap my fingers, sway my hip, and be like UH UH no. I'll be firm, and kind at the same time to explain why it is not cool. If you don't get it then sure, I'll go all that on you. My child is not someone you can mess around with, period. 

I'll take this as #3,057 on the list of pet peeves in the book of Ashley's Pet Peeves, and that is that. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Yes, My Choice Remains the Same

I have been wanting to write about a topic that may be controversial for some time now. I hesitate to write about it because I do not want to offend my readers or anyone else for what it matters. I understand that there are so many varying perspectives, beliefs, and feelings involved. I do not want any of my readers to take away from reading this, thinking what he/she believes in is wrong, or feel that they must defend themselves for believing in what they believe in. I want to stress that it is okay to believe in what you feel strongly about, and be vocal about it as long as you are courteous about it. At the same time, I am not the one to shy away especially when it comes to my beliefs. Being pregnant, and becoming a mother has reinforced my beliefs. For my child, I am working hard to stay up to par with politics because it will shape the course for my child's future. I want my child to become an informed citizen for the time when he is ready to vote. This means he will be exposed to our beliefs. 

A question that I have gotten, from time to time, from many people is whether my opinion has changed after having experienced pregnancy, labor/delivery, and raising my child. My answer remains the same. To some people, it comes to them as a surprise, and to some others, it does not. 


My answer is yes, I am still pro-choice.

Matter of fact, if having a baby changed my opinion then that would have meant I have never been pro-choice all along. I have always been the one that firmly believes in autonomy of women's right. Matter of fact, ever since I went through the whole process of being pregnant, giving birth, and raising my baby; this belief has grown even stronger, and I can't imagine taking away that choice from anyone else.

Matter of fact, the only thing that has been reinforced more strongly is that I would never do it personally. It is not something I can do for myself, and it is okay to feel this way while being supportive of the cause.

My feeling about being pro-choice remains very strongly for several reasons.

In high school, I did a research paper on abortion, and it was a very tough topic. The reason I picked it was because I wanted to understand why I supported this, whether it were for the right reasons, and why it was such a strong topic for many. Through my research, I read a lot of heartbreaking stories that women were forced into it, or women that had made a choice to go through it without really understanding the ramifications of making that choice. Only very few women were able to openly discuss that they made a choice that they were comfortable with, and did not regret doing so. I saw very graphic pictures of how the procedure was performed. I saw even more graphic, grisly pictures of black-market abortion procedures, or those who took abortions into their own hand. That part took me a long time to process what I saw, and read because they were very disturbing, for lack of a better term, especially for someone like me, who was "vanilla", to this type of stuff. 

I learned about different types of abortion, and where they took place. I took it even further by looking into what type of specialization, certifications, and licenses the doctors needed in order to perform abortions. I interviewed some women, that had gone through the procedure, for a medical reason to save their lives, and those women, who had willing go through the procedure, that ended up being okay with their decision. I explored even deeper, and obtained information about men's view because I was really curious. After all, they had helped to make that baby, right? Interestingly enough, I found that men were completely hands-off or very hand-on on this topic. To make this even complicated, religion, and politics became intertwined with being pro-choice, and pro-life. I appreciated reading all perspectives to help me understand what I believed in.

I took this whole learning experience to further reinforce why I was a pro-choice. I did not want to be the one to become the vote to take away a woman's right to make a choice. I did not want to imagine that woman go through unsanitary procedure with a doctor that was not licensed, or experienced, and have her life to be lost because of unsanitary practices. I saw a film called, Baby It's you, by Anne Makepeace. It was about a couple that battled infertility, and wanted to conceive a baby through IVF that had failed. The reason why it had failed was because Anne had undergone abortion procedure when she was in college. Unfortunately, she went to a practice that was performed by an unlicensed doctor that had no idea what he was doing. I felt very sad for Anne. If she had gone to a practice with a licensed doctor with sterilized equipment, and environment then the outcome may have been different? If we had asked our government to take away the clinics, that happened to be sanitary, and practiced by doctors that were licensed/specialized, then we were essentially setting women up for a death sentence or a lifetime of infertility. 

I am not saying that even with a doctor that is licensed to do this procedure will prevent a woman from facing the same issue down the road. There are still risks associated with this. At the same time, with those risks in the place would be minimized with a licensed doctor. Would you rather take away that practice, knowing that there will still be many women yet to come that will want to make this choice, to go into black market, and set them up for inevitable dangers? Or would you rather preserve something that is already in the place that will protect them by undergoing this procedure? Making abortions illegal will not stop abortions, period. It is something to think about.

Because of this, the idea of completely banning this made me very uncomfortable. 

Religion, and politics are inevitably caught up in this topic. There is no way of going around this without running into religion, and politics. Some people will argue that religion forbids this because it is a life that someone is taking away. Some people will argue that the higher power in their religion has given a free will to people to make decisions for themselves. Some people will argue that it is better to give up a child for adoption. Some people will argue for abstinence instead of safe sex.  Politicians will claim that they know what is the best for our people, and try to create laws in the place to either prevent or allow the act to continue. There is no one right answer.

A pregnancy is very sacred time. It is also a very tumultuous time. I can't imagine having someone to go through that period of time if that person is not ready to undergo the pregnancy for many reasons that we are not privileged to know. I am not the one to scream abortion as the first choice, or to have it to be used as a "birth control". Matter of fact, I'd be the one to tell you to look into counseling to help you to make a sound decision, and with clarity while getting a support from a therapist to figure out what you want instead of what others are trying to tell you what to do. I won't be the one to tell you to look into keeping the baby, looking into adoption, or terminating your pregnancy. It is not my decision to make for you. I do feel that if you want to become sexually active, then you have to understand that there may be consequences, and you will have to live with whatever choice you make for yourself. If you feel you can live with that choice that you want to make for yourself, then I am the one to tell you go for it. I am not here to preach or judge.

I firmly believe in free will. I believe that there are stories behind their choices that we do not know fully about. Therefore, who are we to judge them? 



Monday, October 7, 2013

Why I Am Looking Forward To Being 30 In A Few Years

I'm feeling rather philosophical this morning over my cup of coffee as Forrest is quietly playing in his play area, and the dog is soaking up the sun rays as she lays on the floor. Stu, my husband, will be turning 29 this month. Then it will be my turn. Several people have asked me how I feel about spending the last part of the decade of being twenty. Some others have joked about me turning 30 soon especially so my brother, Alex (very funny, my friend, because you are up next). Truthfully, turning 30 soon does not phase me. Matter of fact, I am quite glad about being almost done with my twenties. 

         
My twenties was a big jumbled mess of emotions, experiences, and a lot of confusion along with self-discovery. Really, reading that sentence may have led one to think that living the 20's meant a bad thing. It wasn't. It was a beautiful chaos of growing up from being an adolescent into an adult that I became today. I spent a lot of my early twenties partying, hanging out with my friends, and doing a lot of self-indulgent things. It was all about me, me, me, me, me, and me. I was invulnerable, apathetic, and um, emotionally immature. It was funny because I was very mature for my age, yet also, very immature about life. I didn't really care about anything outside my bubble like many other older teenagers were especially so during early years of college.

Then my bubble slowly changed as the years progressed through my first four years in college. I went to a college that I did not like during my freshman year, and had a tough time adjusting because I was not good with changes. I partied too much, and focused too little on academics. I became something of a social butterfly, which I was not during my high school years, and indulged too much in that. I also sort of went to that particular school because my friend went there, and I did not want to be the "only" Deaf person there. I ended up making a choice to leave that school, and transferred to another school before my sophomore year began. It ended up being a life-changing decision...and a good one because I met my future husband there. I also learned a balance of having a social life, and an academic life. 

After college was done, I decided I wanted to go to graduate school out of the state, and it was a big decision. I knew I needed to do it in order to find myself. I had to break away from my comfort zone. It ended up being the best two years of my life. It was very hard to be away from Stu, and to maintain a long-distance relationship. I had only seen him at least maybe four times in two years because it was not feasible to meet up whatever we had liked due to time, and expense. We even reached that point in our relationship where we had to question whether we were going into the same direction together, or if we needed to take different paths in our lives, and not to be together anymore. It was a pivotal point in our relationship, and we had to make an adult decision. Ultimately, we ended up staying together, and really grew as individuals as well as a couple. 

It was also hard to be away from my family. I grew very appreciative of them, and realized how important they were to me whereas, in the past, I somewhat took them for granted because I knew they were always going to be there. Then I moved out of the state, and they were no longer there physically. So yeah that changed how I see things in life. This was also reinforced by Sweet Mama's death. I had to fly home from school for two weeks. It was long coming, and very expected death. Nonetheless, it did not make it any easier. I had some wishes that were never fulfilled by her death, and it made me regret not spending more time with her especially so when she was dealing with such debating illness with Alzheimer. I took her for granted because she was around for so, so, so long, and in my mind, I almost figured she was always going to be around even if she no longer remembered me. Even with her death, I did not process it emotionally, because I was so busy with school, and dove into school. Anyway, being away, then Sweet Mama's death made me embrace my family much more. 

The concept of family also grew. My close friends became family even though they were not my blood relatives. They were always there for me, and that mattered a lot to me. Even friends that I had lost remained my family. My house was always open. Eating supper at the dining table without television going in the background became important. It was time for us to sit down, cherish our time together, and connect for a half hour in our otherwise busy lives. Materialistic things no longer mattered. Love, faith, and connection meant more because they lasted forever whereas materialistic things got lost, replaced, and rejected. We wanted our kid, and future kids to really instill this value as they become adult, and begin their own families. 


Post-college years were the most formative years for me to become an adult because I was thrushed into the real world situations. I went through some tough time emotionally. That really forced me to process my feelings that I had held in for so long. In a sense, it was when I really grew up. It literally took up all of my twenties to find my voice, to figure out who the hell I am, and to be really okay with who I was. Once I figured that out, kind of, I felt ready to become a parent, and we dove into the murky waters of parenthood. Becoming a parent reinforced everything. It became a glue to my beliefs, ethic, and moral values. It really concreted who I was. 

I was very glad that I waited until when I did to become a mom. I was able to process through my life, and do things I wanted to do. There was no regrets, unfulfilled promises, and wishful desires to complete what I needed to do before I settled down. Sure, I would have done some things differently, and made different choices. However, if I did that then I would not have reached to the place I did today. It would have been nice to have a kid earlier, have that luxury of time to space kids further apart if I wanted to without worrying about my age, and be done by end of my twenties. At the same time, it was not me. Time has changed; women are able to have babies later in their years due to education, and marrying at later age, and it did not make any difference. I had a baby when I was ready, and that was what it mattered to me. It was a mature decision to wait until I was ready emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and to resolve my baggage. 

As my twenties draw to its end, I am grounded, and stable in where I am today whereas earlier in my twenties, it is very tumultuous, wild, and chaotic. I am content because my checklist has been all checked off. I am ready to have more kids, and teach pass on my knowledge of life. I want a family. I am happy--that deep rooted happiness from inside of your gut--and I don't feel lost. I know there is more yet to come. There is some things I want to accomplish, to separate myself from just being a mom, and not to lose myself completely into motherhood. I need to take care of myself in order to be a good mom for my kid or any of my future kids. I know it will happen whereas in the past, I'd be worried with the direction I'm taking, and where I will end up. All I know that is I will always have my family no matter where I go, and that is very comforting. 

So yes, my 30's is going to be much better because all that bullshit of finding who I am, confusion, instability, and not knowing where to go next is all done. I'm not naive to say that oh, there won't be challenges to go through, and there won't be some struggles. There will be. The point is, I'm comfortable with facing the challenges, and I am grounded to myself. I feel authentic of who I am, and I'm confident. My confidence is going to help me soar through all the challenges, decisions, fears, hopes, and get through unfinished business. That is life. 

Matter of fact, I am actually looking forward to turning 30. 

For a long time, ti seemed to me that life was about to begin--real life.
but there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. at last, it dawned on me that those obstacles were my life. this perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. happiness is the way. so treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one. happiness is a journey, not a destination....
-Souza 


Friday, October 4, 2013

Parenthood Isn't Always Easy, But It Is Worth It

October is finally here. My favorite month. It is a gateway to the upcoming holidays, and festivities! I have always considered October to be my lucky month because it appears that good things always happen in the month of October. I am so looking forward to the warm fuzziness that comes during this time of the year, and it also helps to make long winters (believe me, Wisconsin is notorious for long winters) more bearable. Forrest is also of age where he is finally comprehending the world, and actively participates with life. Because of this, I am eagerly looking forward to how he reacts to the holidays. 


The other day, Forrest, and I went to a local pumpkin stand. There was this older man that sold the pumpkin, mum flowers, and assorted squashes along with farmer's market products. He saw Forrest, and insisted on giving us a tiny pumpkin for free. Ever since, Forrest has been fixated on his tiny pumpkin, carries it everywhere with him, and babbles to it quite often. It made me smile every time to look at this pumpkin, and it served as a wonderful reminder that people are good. 

Forrest has been doing wonderful. He has learned to associate signs with things, animals, and food. His most latest sign is DOG. He constantly points at Layla, and signs dog. He also points at our cats, and sign dog. So I am trying to teach him that a cat is a CAT. He's such a smart little fellow. As for his allergies, we are no longer really phased by it, and we are no longer overwhelmed by his diagnosis. It is just not a big part of who he is. Peanut allergy is now a breeze to manage. 

It is funny, when I first learned about Forrest's peanut allergy, I was really worried, and scared by all stuff I read online especially by a particular mommy blogger, who has a child with a severe PA, and she was very much of an overprotective mother. Looking back, I decided I did not want to be like that. I wanted to expose Forrest to life situations so he can learn how to deal with them later on instead of ending up being lost because he was protected too much in his early years. It is not that I'm being flippant about his allergy. We are cautious, and do prepare every time when we go out. We educate people about his PA. At the same time, we are not going around by treating Forrest as if he is a bubble boy, and we must keep him encased in a giant bubble.  

The only house rule we have is that we are peanut-free household. We want Forrest to come home, and feel safe--not to worry about what he is eating, about contact rashes, and cross-containment. His siblings will not be exposed to peanuts in our house as well. To some people, they think it is as if we are punishing his siblings because of Forrest's peanut allergy, and I don't really get this approach of thinking. I try to not let other parents' comments bother me, and trust me, I have already gotten some ridiculously rude comments from other parents. The worst comment I have gotten so far was "Oh, I hope I will never have a child with a peanut allergy in my child's classroom because that's kind of pain to deal with."  SIIIIIIIIIIIIGH.

Of course, there is also positive things that has come out of this. I managed to convince our local food store to cover up their peanuts (the kind you see in roadhouse restaurants; you crack open the shells, toss the shell to the ground, and consume the peanuts inside). I did not have to worry about exposing Forrest to peanut dust, and tomatoes, that was right next to the peanuts, being cross-contaminated. People were truly understanding when you explain to them in a nice manner, and stand up to them in a way that they didn't feel put off or threatened. In a way, my Deafness helped me to learn how to be courteous while educating people. I suppose that was probably why this little soul has chosen me to be his mother.   

Having been completed weaned, we do notice that his dairy allergy is flaring up even more, and I am considering to switch him to soy milk based on our allergist's suggestion. He can handle dairy products in small doses, and does not seem to bother him much. It seems, in this case, that dairy is causing his eczema to flare up more than causing him to feel any internal discomfort such as gas, tummy pains, or pooping issues. We are confident that this is something he will eventually outgrow of since it is very mild. 

His dog allergy is also very mild. I make sure that Layla does not lick his face. I vacuum once a week. I don't let Layla or any of cats in his bedroom, and it is always gated off (always has been day one anyway). He is not allergic to cats or any other animals...just dogs. So it is a bit of puzzlement to us how he ever developed a dog allergy in the first place, but it is what it is. When it gets to be too much for him, he tends to drool...a lot because his throat itches. We are not getting rid of Layla, our Basset Hound, and she is in her forever home. Will we get another dog after Layla? Maybe. Maybe not. We have not decided; we do want a dog in our home, and have our kids grow up with animals. Perhaps, we will need to find a different breed that does not shed. I don't know yet. A part of me want to not get another dog, not because of Forrest's allergy, but because it is hard for me to give attention to a dog that he/she deserves during my kids' childhood years. Kids come first, you know? Maybe when kids are older, I will entertain the idea again, and have them help out instead of me taking care of everything at once. 

It's honestly not a big deal to manage Forrest's allergies. It has become a part of our lives. It is like as if it always has been part of our lives. It's not hard to adapt with. I don't really miss peanut butter or any peanut products. Matter of fact, I think sunflower butter, and nutella are better! Nothing has drastically changed. We will have Forrest retested before he starts school to see if his allergies are still present. I'm 99.9% sure that his peanut allergy will never go away, and rest of his allergies will either fade away, or become very mild/manageable. 


People have been asking us about Baby Number #2 now that Forrest is older. It is no secret that we do want a big family! I absolutely love being a mom. I have to make a confession; Motherhood is not all peaches and fuzzes. 

There has been days when it is really trying, and HARD. I wonder if I am doing anything right. Sometimes, I want to break down and cry because I feel like I am doing nothing right, or I am so exhausted from dealing with terrible ones (I am convinced terrible twos is a myth, and it starts immediately in toddler years).  I look at other mommy bloggers, and wonder how the hell they seem so poised, so held together, well dressed, hair in the place, no stained clothes, the house is sparkling clean or looking festive, and their kids have everything. It makes me wonder if I am really giving Forrest everything or if I am doing enough for him.

I don't go out my way to deck out the house for the holidays. I don't cut pineapple in heart-shaped finger food. I give Forrest hot dog with hummus and cut-up orange pieces instead of 5-course meal for lunch. I let him watch Sesame Street for an hour while I blog. I don't take amazing pictures of his every moment in his life. When Forrest throws a temper tantrum, sometimes--just sometimes--I want to fall on the floor and throw a tantrum with him! Sometimes, I feel helpless and have no idea what to do. Should I pick him up? Or will that be a bad reinforcement to do that? Should I ignore him until he's done? What the heck should I do? I have no instruction manual of parenthood telling me what I should do step to step! I have always been by the book kind of person. I take a great comfort in knowing what will happen next. Parenthood is not like that. It is an adventure for sure! I make a choice, and pray I don't mess up Forrest for life. 

I am just an ordinary mom, and sometimes, I look at those moms and feel sub-par to them. It is hard not to compare myself to them because they are so different. They have different lives than I do. Not everything is "green" on the other side. I try not to be so envious of other mom bloggers, and wish for things I don't have. Then I take a deep breath, and remember that even during hard days, there are moments that just melts my heart especially when Forrest lays his head on my chest, and I savor his baby hair against my cheek, and that is what keeps me going. 

Bad days are really a blip in years yet to come. I know I will look back, and cherish all good times. Matter of fact, Dad told me the other day, rather nostalgically, how it was a blink in his eye that we kids grew up. In one minute of his eye, I was walking up to him with arms outstretched, the next blink, he was walking with me down the aisle, and the next, I was giving him his newborn grandson to hold. This served me as a reminder to really enjoy every moment...even hard moments because one day, I will look back, and feel that little pang in my heart as I see Forrest as a grown man. 


I try. 

I'm convinced that anyone that says that being a parent is easy is either lying, or not a good parent to start with. Parenthood is not supposed to be easy, and even at that, it is worthwhile.