Sunday, September 30, 2012

On the Brink of October

I hope your weekend has been quite wonderful. It has for us. The leaves are definitely changing colors. My favorite is the big oak trees with leaves that are in a rich marigold color. It's just so beautiful. I enjoy walking Forrest through the park, feeling leaves crunching under my shoes, and absorbing warm fall sunshine.

Forrest and I attended Stu's football game at Ripon College. Yes, the very same college that Stu and I met!  I took Forrest down a memory lane for our stroll. I pushed the stroller around the campus, told Forrest about my memories from my college days especially the ones with his daddy, and stopped at my favorite local coffee shop to pick up the flavor I always ordered back in the day: Chai tea. I enjoyed the quaint little town atmosphere, and looked forward to taking Forrest to Dickens of a Christmas this winter. Funny, when I went to Dickens of a Christmas event last year, I didn't know at that time I was pregnant, and later I learned that I was; it made sense why I was cranky that evening!

Ripon Chambers of Commerce 

Well, this year, it was going to be different, ha ha. Anyway, Forrest and I headed over to the football field. We saw some familiar faces at the game, and it was a pleasure to introduce Forrest to them! Stu was glad to see us there. I loved surprising Stu and seeing his face light up after he saw us there. Aside from that, Ripon Hawks won the game as well! After the game, Stu and I went out to eat at a local haunt with Forrest. Our little guy was a champ and slept through the whole dinner so we were able to have a really yummy dinner and a great conversation. This made me look forward to time when Forrest will be old enough to enjoy watching football games with Stu and me. A Packer or Ripon College game was definitely in our future!

I'm excited that tomorrow marks the first day of my favorite month: October! Good things always seem to happen in October. I'm looking forward to making pumpkin pies for our neighbor and friends, pumpkin seeds, carving pumpkins, visiting a pumpkin patch once again to pick up Jack O latern pumpkins, watching scary movies with Forrest on SyFy channel, dressing Forrest up in Halloween outfits, going Trick N Treat with our friend and her children, celebrating my favorite holiday; Halloween, and knowing that more holidays are due around the corner!

A special thing about October is that it means it will be 8 years since Stu and I have been together. I don't celebrate our dating anniversary anymore, but it is nice to recognize the day when we first got together. Time really flies, doesn't it? It really does not feel like it has been this long. I suppose that time really doesn't matter much when you are with someone you love. My love for Stu has definitely changed over the years. The puppy love that accompanies with the newness of a relationship is far, far gone. It has been replaced by love that is much deeper and meaningful. It is also great to be a part of a wonderful family and bridge our families together especially with our newest family member: Forrest.

It will be fun to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with Forrest. It is hard to believe that Forrest will be 4 months old in time for Christmas. It is a fun age because then we will start to see Forrest's personality a bit at time, and have him to be more active/alert for the holidays.

I thought this was pretty funny and adorable how Forrest has discovered
to blow spit into bubbles. Ever since the discovery; he has been blowing spit bubbles!

I want to share something because I have discovered a new site that I can't tear myself away from. It is Shutterfly. It is basically a site for a person to create a book from pictures. Of course, there are more things you can create through this site such as calendar, holiday cards, and many more. I created two books. The first book is made for Forrest about his birth story: The Day I was Born. It's a kid-friendly version and easy for a little kid to follow. The second book I've made is really for myself. It is a book filled with my blog posts from my pregnancy with Forrest: My Pregnancy With Forrest. I will share this with Forrest someday when he is older and have a longer attention span to be interested in reading it! I do plan on doing the same for my future pregnancies. 

I am also geeked because I have been reccomended to check out several different sites that are photo-based books and accessories. I spy a lot of projects coming up very soon to create adorable holiday gifts for our family members! 


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Layla's 5th Birthday

Today marks a year anniversary since we have adopted Layla. It is also her birthday. We do not know her true birth date or even her age. Her estimated age is five years old. She could be older. We can't be too sure even with her dental records, and trying to determine age based on her teeth is nearly impossible for that her dental health has been quite terrible. As for you readers who have just recently started following my blog; Stu jokingly calls Layla a hilly billy for that when we first adopted her, her dental health had been quite terrible, and had to be remedied. She does not have upper and lower teeth between her canine teeth. See the picture down below, isn't that crazy or what?

Anyway, it has been a year since Layla entered our lives. Given Layla's poor social upbringing in her background due to neglect, poor breeding, and abuse; Layla had a lot of baggage that required tremendous amount of patience. She had a mild resource guarding, and a serious food aggression. Layla bit, nipped, and growled at me when I tried to take her away from her food. She scarfed down food like there was no tomorrow. She was terrified of being walked on a leash. Layla's tail immediately tucked under her body when a stranger approached us. She slunked to the ground and had no confidence. Everything was a threat to Layla. She was even unsure of our cats! Layla did not understand boundaries or rules hence mild resource guarding behaviors over certain items.

Realizing that we had a dog with serious issues, I pushed Stu to go on the board to hire a trainer to help us to help Layla. After all, I agreed with a saying from Caesar's Dog Whisper television show that it was often the owners that needed to be rehabbed rather than their dogs. The first trainer we had really sucked. She basically told us that Layla had no hope and should have been put down instead of being adopted out. That really hurt, and we struggled whether Layla was in a right home with us for a few weeks. Finally, we decided not to let one terrible report to deter us from wanting to work with Layla. With some research and asking around, we found a different trainer, and sure enough, she gave us the plethora of training tips to work with Layla. She gave us a hope that Layla was not a lost cause. Slowly, but surely, we began to see an improvement with Layla's behavior and confidence. 

With our training and not giving up on Layla, I'm happy to say that a year later...Layla is a completely different dog. No longer does she growl, nip or attempt to bite when someone tries to take away her treats, and dog food. I am able to safely remove scrap out of Layla's mouth with my bare hand with a command and trade-off treat. Layla understands that she must sit and wait to be called to eat her breakfast and dinner. She is no longer afraid of strangers, but welcome them, and to make this even sappier...she must have their attention. To our pleasant surprise, Layla absolutely love kids, and gobbles up their attention as much as possible! She loves a good loving.

Missy and Layla likes to house-rough and chase each other around the house. Mr. Jinxy and Layla share a good sunning spot in the kitchen. We are able to have Layla on the sofa with an invitation from us. She knows she can't sit on the sofa at our guests' homes and is content to lay down on the floor. When Layla's undesirable behavior crops up, which is far and not often these days, we correct her behavior immediately and gently remind her of the rules we have for her.

It is amazing how far Layla has bloomed under our tender, loving and care in a year. She certainly has taken us on many adventures. Remember the Thanksgiving when she ate my wedding ring? Or when she stole a large chunk of baked Ham at our family function over Easter? She is certainly my little garbage disposal because she gobbles up whatever I drop on the floor while I'm cooking or baking. She also eats our cats' throw up messes. She even likes to sample cow's manure at our family's farm up north. Must be a Basset thing? Layla is very attentive and tender toward Forrest. I look forward to having Forrest grow up with Layla. 

Our family and friends remark to us almost constantly that Layla is our little miracle because they are amazed at Layla's transformation. Indeed, our fur face is not perfect, and she does have her bad days. Nonetheless, we wouldn't dream of trading her up for any other dog. She is utterly perfect for us. To celebrate Layla's first year of accomplishment, and her birthday/adoption day; I've baked her a very special dog birthday cake! She certainly did enjoy a piece of her cake! 

Happy birthday Fur Face. 


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How Well Can You Hear?

Google picture

More often than not, when I swivel my head to seek for the source of the sound or jump in a startle reflex upon hearing a loud crash; I receive plenty of curious looks and puzzlement from my hearing peer, and I am asked how well can you really hear? 

I try to come up with an answer that I can explain and still make sense. How do I explain to a hearing person about my reaction to hearing sounds? My description or idea of a sound differ vastly from a hearing person's perspective of what a sound is. How do I explain the level of my hearing loss? What sounds can I hear and what I cannot hear? 

I can hear Layla barking but I can't hear her growling out of the window at something. I can hear a loud crash from the kitchen, but I can't determine the direction of crash in the kitchen or what has fallen. I can hear Forrest scream his head off, but I can't hear him whimper. I can hear Stu whistling at me yet I can't hear his voice. If a television has been turned up all way on the volume then I can't hear it yet I can feel the vibration of TV blaring underneath my feet. At the music festival, I hear the bass throbbing, drums banging, guitar plucking blending into the sounds of chaos yet I can't hear the lead singer's voice. I can feel the music throbbing in or on my chest. I can hear the motorcycle rumbling nosily nearby me yet I can't hear it down a block away. 

Google picture
What I can hear is mostly sounds happening in the environment that I am in. I can't tell you what direction the sound is coming from or what is causing the sound. All I know is that a sound has occurred. I have to ask someone what the sound is and where it is coming from. Does this annoy me to be able to hear certain things that often startles me or not knowing where the sound is coming from? No. It doesn't. I'm quite used to this, and if I am really intent on wanting to know what the sound is then I'll ask. Otherwise, I ignore it.

Sometimes, I just don't hear what is going on. A good example how my Deafness can kick my butt: I turn on the water faucet to run hot water to thaw out a frozen meat for dinner, and walk away for a minute. I get distracted by my crying baby, barking dog, or something on Facebook then it hit me a few minutes later that the water is still running! Crap. Fortunately, I catch it in time before water overflows out of the sink onto the floor! The key here...just don't walk away and get distracted. Stay in the moment. Focus. Or at least turn off the water before I tend to something that I know will distract me. 

The reactions I get from people upon them finding out that I have some ability to hear sounds varies. It depends on the age of the person. My favorite reactions that I get from is from kids. They come up with funny ways to understand my Deafness. I already typed a post about kids' reaction: Kids' reactions

Now the reactions I get from teenagers and adults are not quite as funny as kids'. They are often inquistive and ask me questions about the level of my hearing loss. While we are on the topic here, my type of Deafness is profoundly Deaf. It basically means your hearing loss is...well, profound, and is well below the average of what is considered to be a norm for hearing. Not many people understand that Deaf people aren't always completely Deaf (don't get me wrong, some really are).

Let me tell you what other group that relies heavily on their generational knowledge (which is often riddled with misconceptions and old ideas about Deafness)....senior citizens, and they come up with craziest ways to logically explain why I am able to hear certain things. 

An elderly man once said to me, "You aren't Deaf. You have selective hearing." 

A seventy-year old woman was watching TV when I came in for my volunteering stint at a nursing home. She found out about my Deafness, and I explained to her that I needed closed captioning for TV in order to understand what was going on and she replied, "What? You don't need captioning. Here, I'll turn up the volume. It does the trick for me."

My maternal grandma, bless her heart, used to tell people that I was faking my Deafness because I was able to hear certain noises. She was convinced that the doctors made a mistake by diagnosing me with being profoundly Deaf. As I grew older, when she said that to me; I just smile and laugh. 

Yep, old people really do say the darnest things sometime, don't they? 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mr. Forrest Gray is a Month Old!

As a sentimental and gushy mama that I am, I am bit teary that my little man is one month old today! It is an awesome milestone for sure. This guy continues to steal a piece of my heart every single day.

I had waited 9 long months to meet Forrest, and it finally happened. A month ago, I was being induced and I was about to become a mama very soon. A month ago, I was laboring and giving birth to bring a beautiful baby into the world. It was one of the best days of my life. The pain, tears, and sweat all were worth it. A month ago, I held a precious 7 pounds and 8 ounces baby boy in my arms. A month ago, I became a mama. Yes, it had been a wonderful month having Forrest in our lives. 

I'm starting to recognize small signs that Forrest does before he hits a major melt-down. For instance, while Forrest is still sleeping, his little rosebud lips will begin to instinctively suck, and I know it means he is starting to get hungry. So I wake him up for a feeding, and he remains a content baby! 

Forrest is now 9 and half pounds! I think he has gained since the last weight check-up because he feels like he is a ten-pounder at this moment!

My poor guy has Thrush. We are working diligently on getting rid of Thrush with the help from antibiotics prescribed by Forrest's doctor. Thrush will fade away in no time! 

Forrest has been hitting all developmental milestones for a month old baby; startle reflex, grasping, and staring at faces that are about 12 inches away from his face (babies at this age are extremely near-sighted).

Forrest absolutely loves his bouncer. It's his to go spot when he's gassy or cranky. The bouncing eases his upset tummy and also soothes him to sleep.

We have found a trick to put end to Forrest's wide eye adventure between 2-4/5 am. I nurse him until he's happy and content which can take up to 20-25 minutes including diaper change, swaddle him, and put him down in his bassinet then turn off TV. In the past, we have left TV on (we fell asleep with TV still on and have some light for when we have to get up to attend Forrest). It appears to have cut down Forrest's need to stay wide awake. Let's hope this keeps up!

Forrest have had a lot of his firsts lately. A first football game, a first trip to the pumpkin patch, and soon to come; a first long driving trip down to my hometown to visit my side of the family, and friends.  Then we will be taking Forrest up to the Farm to visit my other half of family!

His first vaccination set of shots is coming up, and I'm somewhat dreading it!

Forrest has been practicing his tummy time these days! He manages to keep his head up for a few seconds at time. What an accomplishment!

Having a son has been so much fun even though I've only been a mama for a month now. I'm already looking forward to the second month accomplishments!

Mr. Forrest, Layla the dog, and I are heading down to my hometown today which is about 2 hours (throw in an extra half hour since I may have to stop for nursing/feeding Forrest), and I am hoping that we can add a great traveler to Forrest's list of accomplishments!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Choice: To be Hearing or Deaf?

This was me at age of 6. Like many kids at this age, I had an innocent and  naive way of looking at the world. I thought nothing about me being Deaf, and my deafness certainly did not bother me. I thought it was a normal thing--to be Deaf. I didn't see myself as different from my peer. I did not know about injustice, discrimination, rejection, and becoming aware of my difference from others. Soon I was going to find out. 

This was me as a Sophomore in high school. Like many other teenagers out there in the world, I wanted to be accepted, and to fit in. I had my share of struggle with my Deafness. Throw in some teenage angst, and typical teenager attitude along with my growing awareness of how different I was from others. At this age, I did not want to be Deaf. I did not like being Deaf. I was ashamed of this part of who I was.

This was me after graduate school. I definitely had made a huge leap from my angst self in high school to exploring what I was all about in college to learning about my Deaf identity during graduate school. I definitely had grown up a lot during my graduate school years. I learned so much about my values, my culture, people I befriended with, dealing with a long distance relationship with Stu while I was living in Washington DC and Minnesota, overcoming my challenges, and most importantly of all, embracing my Deaf identity. 

In my 27 years of life, I certainly have experienced life's challenges, and it has been a great journey so far. I've been asked this so many times throughout my life, and it is a really great question. If I ever have a chance then would I choose hearing or remain Deaf? 

My answer may be both surprising and typical to you. I would rather remain Deaf even if I have a chance to end up with a perfect hearing. I'd be able to hear my son, my husband, the sounds, music, and so many more. I would be able to speak. There won't be as much obstacles to overcome, and having to constantly educate people about my identity. Sure, life might be a bit easier if I am able to hear and speak. So why remain Deaf? 

The way I see it, I am Deaf for a reason, and my deafness is there to teach me life lessons. It is just not there to provide life challenges and lessons for me to learn from, but also for others to learn from as well. Once upon a time, I might have felt burdened by Deafness, and have caused me to go through some difficult times in my life yet at the same time, I feel that it had happened for a purpose. My life is not easy. It never has been. Then again, whose life is easy anyway? Every person I meet throughout the years, they all have stories, experiences, obstacles, something to get through, some unfinished business to complete, time to be served, something to be repented for, a debt to pay off, regrets to be replaced with things to be rejoiced, and lessons to learn from. Hearing or Deaf, never have I met a person who has said to me that his or her life has been so easy, so perfect, and there is absolutely nothing to be worried about. 

It may have taken me a long while to embrace my Deafness, to truly accept who I am, and love me for me. I certainly would not want to change who I am. If I do then my life would have been different. I would not have done things I experienced, met so many wonderful people, learned from my negative experiences and people who have hurt me, found my inner strength, gain an unique perspective of the world, fallen in love with a wonderful man and having our son, and most importantly of all, I won't be me.

As Albert Einstein had once said, "There are two ways to look at life. One is as though nothing is a miracle; the other is as though everything is." 

In a way, I believe that my Deafness has compelled me to look at my life as a miracle. If I do choose to become a hearing person then would I continue to view my life as a miracle? That's the bigger question that I don't want to find out. 


Monday, September 17, 2012

Forrest's Newborn Pictures

Here is what we all have been waiting for! Mr. Forrest Gray's newborn session pictures. To make this post short as possible and organized; I made a cute slideshow through Photobucket, and it's a great site to upload pictures for a slideshow. It's free by the way. The pictures shown in the slideshow are my personal favorites even though I absolutely LOVE all pictures that was taken during Forrest's session. 

**Family and close friends; if you see any picture(s) you like or want then please contact me, and I'll get you a printed copy!**

When I have my second kid someday, I'll know who to contact to take pictures for my little ones, and I recommend you to look into booking a session with Michelle if you are from the area! 

Once again, the pictures are taken by: Michelle
Her Facebook page is: Patooties Photography & Boutique.

Feel free to check out Michelle's work through the links provided above. 



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Russ Family These Days

Fall is finally gracing us with colorful greeting and bringing its unique autumn scent along with it. It is my favorite time of the year. What is there not to like about autumn? Pumpkin Spice Lattes, football games, warm clothes to be pulled out of our storage, autumn scented candles, falling leaves, pumpkins, Halloween festivities, corn candies, leaves changing its colors, the crispiness in the air, warm sun floating on cool breezes from the lake, and knowing that the holidays are just around the corner. 

One thing I absolutely love about where I live is the fact that we live only a few blocks away from a beautiful park nearby Lake Winnebago. The park has several trails throughout the boughs of ancient Oak trees, zoo, and along aside the lake shore. I enjoy walking there with Forrest dozing softly in his stroller during our daily walks. I muster about our future with Forrest; how I am looking forward to bringing him to a pumpkin patch, carving pumpkins together, and taking Forrest trick n treating. 

Along with autumn and an introduction into motherhood; Layla has been soaking up warm fall sun while snoring in her characteristically Basset way. Layla appears to have been adjusting well to having a newest addition in our home. I am not sure if she views Forrest as a new dog mate or our human friend since Forrest is so small yet. Layla eagerly sniffs and licks Forrest every time he is in his bouncer or in his car seat on the floor. Layla sits next to Forrest with a quiet contemplation while looking over him. When Missy ventures too close to Forrest, Layla chases her away, and returns to her guarding spot. She softly closes her eyes as Forrest is sleeping. At the smallest sound that Forrest makes, Layla opens her eyes and looks over him to make sure he is okay. If I am not anywhere in the proximity then Layla retrieves me to attend Forrest. She walks pretty well alongside the stroller, only stopping to sniff at the ground that appeals to her black nose, and continues to walk ahead with us. 

Layla is approaching her 5th birthday or at least it is by our best guess since we do not have her official birth date. Nonetheless, her adoption birthday is on 26th of September. Already I am planning on creating Layla a peanut butter dog cake to celebrate the day we adopted Layla. She will be in the world of surprise! I am looking forward to seeing her long tail wag in excitement as she picks up the scent of peanut butter dog cake slowly baking in the oven. 

Our cats also have been adjusting well especially Mr. Jinxy. From the very moment when I started showing in my pregnancy, Mr. Jinxy has been close to Forrest's side while purring, and dreaming dreams that only cats dream of. He appears to be fascinated by this tiny human being and often makes a point to be nearby us. On the other hand, Missy Girl is not so crazy about the baby taking my attention away from her. She has been in the hiding these days or sneaking into the baby crib to sleep there. I have been trying to remedy her naughty habit of sleeping in the baby crib with no success thus far. I try to give Missy attention and love that she wants instead of constantly scolding her for being in the crib, or chewing on our flowers. Missy has always been a free-willed cat with a strong personality, and most certainly; she is not going to change just because we have a baby. Aside from her mischief, Missy has been a fairly decent cat, and a wonderful pet. 

Stu has been busy with school starting up again, and getting back into the swing of teaching. With teaching, Stu also has been coaching for Ripon Football team. It will be his second year coaching. He absolutely loves what he is doing for that he often tells me every night how his day went. He will be starting his last semester of graduate school through Marian this upcoming spring, and we are excited about that. What a wonderful accomplishment and I couldn't be any prouder of him for being so dedicated to advancing his education. 

Despite his busy schedule, Stu is a very hand-on dad and works as a team with me to raise Forrest. For that, I am very grateful, and it causes me fall deeper in love with him. It is true when people say that once you have a baby with someone you love then your love for that person has changed into something much deeper and meaningful. 

As at this moment, I am content to be a stay at home mom to a wonderful little boy of mine, and I feel so cherished to be able to enjoy every little moment with Forrest. It will be hard for me to return to workforce when Forrest is old enough to be trusted in capable hands of someone else. Being a stay at home mom is certainly busier than I thought it would be. I'm constantly running around to do errands, keeping up with cleanliness in our house, taking care of our little critters, taking care of Forrest, and most importantly, taking care of myself. A happy mama is the one who takes a good care of self. I feel so blessed to have a constant stream of visitors--still, a nearly month later--of loved ones. 

Matter of fact, Forrest and I are going to Farmer's Market very soon with Grandma Tree, Grandma Marlene and the girl(s). It will be a wonderful time, and I am definitely looking forward to fall vegetables! Let's hope they do have green tomatoes. If not, then it's alright because we will be in a good company. 


Friday, September 14, 2012

What Is It Like Dating In The Hearing World?


Once upon a time, a long, long time before I met my husband (dang, I just made myself feel old); I dated plenty of hearing boys, and the fact that they were hearing did not bother me. The most common questions I got were: Why didn't you date Deaf guys? What was it like to date a hearing guy?

Why did I not date Deaf guys? First of all, I didn't have a chance to date a Deaf guy. I grew up in a mainstream hearing culture, and admittedly; back then I viewed my Deafness as something to be ashamed of and to be shed of. I was being young and I wanted to be accepted in the hearing world and by my hearing peers. Unfortunately, I carried some negative attitude toward Deaf culture and people. I felt Deaf guys were uneducated, and unable to really provide for themselves. Was that right way of looking at my culture and Deaf people especially guys? No. Thankfully, at least I definitely did change my attitude and views once I've accepted my Deafness and broke away from hearing world's perspective on Deafness. There were definitely a lot of intelligent, fun, and kind Deaf guys that I became friends with over the years (just like hearing guys, really).

If I had a chance to start all over again, and had a positive view about Deaf culture then would have I dated Deaf guys? Probably not. It was not because I would not want to, but rather how I had been brought up. Too many Deaf people, especially guys, often mistaken me to be a hearing person. That was something I did not really want to have to deal with on a frequent basis as a Deaf person. 

What was it like to date hearing guys? I was, what you would call a serial dater, and did not really like to commit myself to one person in a relationship. I figured that I was still pretty young--the best advice I have ever gotten for dating was to go on a date with different guys and have fun. When I had the experience of dating different guys out of my system then I would have known when it was a good time to settle down, and who to fall in love with.

It was definitely challenging to date hearing guys and it left me with a lot of amusing stories to share. My favorite story to share is the most common one. More often than not, I've had a hearing guy leaned in to me to talk, because of habit or environmental noises going on, and I gently reminded him by smiling and shrugging my shoulders while pointing at my ear. The hearing guy ended up feeling somewhat foolish, which was not my intention at all, and we had a good laugh over his brief lapse of memory of me being Deaf. Habits die hard. 

I enjoyed teaching basic signs, fingerspelling in my language, and writing back and forth on paper during my dates. The guys I went on dates with definitely did not know sign language, but that did not stop us from having fun. One thing for sure was that I never had nothing to say. There was always an icebreaker or something to talk about which was mostly about my Deafness. Me being Deaf also provided some amusing and creative ways with how guys tried to communicate with me. I had to give them some mad props for coming up with crazy ways to talk with me. 

With every few nice hearing guys I've gone on dates with, I've also had my share of pretty idiotic guys that left me with lessons to learn from. I've been told that I would have been an ideal girlfriend if it was not for my Deafness. Ouch. What I had learned from that is that I did not need an approval from a man to boost my self-esteem. There were some more experiences that I look back and roll my eyes at, even though at that very moment in my life, I was pretty upset. Ah, the youth in the dating life. 

Fortunately, all that was quickly washed away when I met my future husband, Stuart, when I transferred to a different college during my Sophomore year. I knew Stu was the real deal when he learned my language without my knowing and surprised me one day by signing to me. It was a sure fast sign that he had accepted me for who I was. I knew I was going to marry him right there. 

I'm happy to say that almost 8 years later, we are still going strong and we have a little boy to show for it. ;-)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Renovating My Blog

I am in the midst of planning to change the background for my blog. I am somewhat tired with the appearance of my blog. After all, I have had this background for over a year now. I feel it is time for a change. With a baby in the tow; I may not have it done within a day or two, and all I am asking from you, my dear readers, to bear with the transition for a bit! 

I will still resume blogging posts while renovating my blog. 


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

3 Weeks Old

It is hard to believe that Forrest will be a month old next week! It is mind-boggling how much Forrest has grown in past few weeks. He is becoming more alert and awake for longer periods of time. No longer he is dozing throughout the entire day, and waking up only for his feedings. Forrest smiles, whether it is gas or actual smile, and it's just so cute. His facial expressions make me giggle. Forrest definitely hates having his diapers changed--he wails on top of his lungs, whoo his mama sure can hear him, and kick his little chub legs in the air! Sometimes, he will pee at an insane length across the room or up at the ceiling...who knew that a little stream of pee can go that far?! Forrest also dislikes having baths. He also screams when I do that. After the bath is done; he's as happy as a little baby can be and grins as in saying, goodness I'm glad that is over. 

Unfortunately, his sleeping cycle is still confused. Forrest likes to party between 3 am to 5 am and not sleep. So Stu and I are officially in Up All Night Club. I am planning on brushing up my reading of The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep: Simplest Sleeping Solutions For Kids from Birth to 5 Years by Harvey Karp, MD. That way, we can start incorporating good sleeping habit for Forrest. I'm not really expecting much at this point since Forrest is still a newborn...or is he considered an infant/baby now? I'm waiting for Forrest to hit 2-3 months mark, that's when babies are supposed to sleep through the night, before we transition him to sleeping in his own room in his crib. Scary thought for me! Right now, I am comforted with having Forrest sleeping in his little bassinet in our bedroom. It is also easier that way to nurse Forrest that way instead of having to get up and walk to other room to feed him. Each parents are different with how they want to handle this situation; there is no right and wrong way, and for us, it is right for us to keep Forrest nearby in the meanwhile! 

Forrest is a big hat wearer. He likes to sport hats! It makes his Mama pretty happy because she absolutely loves getting him hand-made hats! 

Time? What time? Literally, it just flies by!! My days blur in together. 
Sometime I forget what day it is. All I can say say is that thank goodness for a
calendar otherwise I'd have lost track of time. 

Warm food? What's that, really? Either I gobble food down pretty fast if I want it to be warm or eat cold food in between Forrest's resting periods. 

Breastfeeding is a challenging experience for both of us. In between his latest cluster feeding due to a growth spurt and not latching on well, I can't say how much we have cried from this just because we both are frustrated. It is difficult having Forrest to go from being a champ feeder to struggling to stay latched on.
Fortunately, I have a great support system from online mama groups and breastfeeding groups and a lactation consultation through the hospital where I gave birth to Forrest, and I am happy to say that we are starting to be back on the right track!

While it is challenging to be a first-time mom to a newborn baby, it is certainly a lot fun to be a mom, and I've caught myself many times smiling at this thought. 

It is also challenging for Stu to be a first time Dad with him being so gone for many hours to teach and coach. Despite his crazy fall schedule, Stu is a natural Dad and loves to spend time with Forrest. It warms my heart to see him holding, kissing, and talking to Forrest when he is home. I feel pretty lucky to have a great Dad to help me out throughout the night with diaper changes and burping! 

Forrest is already becoming a true Wisconsinite boy and being a hardcore Green Bay Packers fan!

Forrest and I enjoy our daily morning walks and enjoying the beautiful autumn weather. Layla has been a great dog and is able to walk well with my stroller.

Layla alerts me, if I am in other room, and Forrest is crying. It is pretty cute how she comes up to me and circles then runs to the other room where Forrest is. She jumps up on her front paws and looks over Forrest until I am there to pick up Forrest and console him. She is a good guardian.

Every single day, Forrest grows a bit bigger and my heart soars at the sight of him. When I think I don't have any more love to give, I discover that there is no limit to how much I love this little guy of mine, and I feel so lucky to be his mama.

A quick sneak peek to Forrest's professional picture session! I am so in love with the pictures and truly cannot wait to see more. It is somewhat hard to just get few sneak preview of pictures one at time!! :-) So I am eagerly looking forward to getting a master CD with pictures on it!

The pictures were taken by Michelle.
Here's her site: Patooties Photography & Boutique.
Facebook page: Patooties Photography and Boutique.

Feel free to check out her work via the links I've posted above! If you are from the area then I strongly recommend you to look into booking a session with Michelle.

Have a lovely week and remember to enjoy small things!


Friday, September 7, 2012

Deaf Mom Issues

Deaf and being a Mom: How (do) I handle it? 
Being a Deaf mom is not as difficult as I thought it would be. I am able to take care of my son with help from technology and my husband, Stu. It is certainly a learning curve for anyone, Deaf or not, to be a parent! I absolutely love having a vibrating monitor by Graco to alert me during the night or nap-time when Forrest is up and needs to be fed. It is not difficult to burp Forrest after his feeding because I can feel his little body when he's burping. I know when he's eating by the feel of his jaws moving and little gulping motion that he makes while feeding. 

The most common thing I get all of the time is whether Forrest is Deaf or hearing impaired. My answer is no. Forrest has passed his hearing test, and is not Deaf. Does this bother me? No. If he does end up having some kind of hearing impairment then again, it won't bother me. 

People ask me this: How will you ever communicate with him? What an excellent question this is.  

How does Spanish parents communicate with their children? In their own language at home, of course, and encouraging their kids to speak English outside their home. This is exactly what we are doing with Forrest. He will be bilingual. He will know both ASL at home and spoken English. I am already signing to Forrest. He is still too young to comprehend or pick up language right now, however, it is already establishing in his mind that a language is being communicated. 

The next questions or rather statements that are being made by people is what bugs me as a Deaf mom. The statement is: Well, you should consider Cochlear Implant or some form of hearing aids to hear your son or You should speak to your son so he can pick up English or sounds. 

First of all, I do not need any kind of hearing aids or cochlear implant, not that I have personal anything against it, and it is just that it is not necessary for my lifestyle. To even suggest that I should have some form of auditory aid to have a relationship with my son is offensive. How does this teach my son that diversity or being different is acceptable? I do not want to convey a message to Forrest that my deafness is something to be fixed or rather be ashamed about. While I do miss out on sweet sounds that Forrest may make as a baby,  him uttering his first spoken words, and what his voice may sound like, I have already accepted that, and am okay with missing out on this. I do not feel a pang of sadness about this loss mainly because I have never heard a sound to begin with. Therefore, there is no reason for anyone to feel sorry for something I never had to begin with.

I would imagine it might be very different if I DID have some hearing then lost it or if I already had hearing aids as a part of my lifestyle from the very start then I might would have wanted to hear Forrest.

Secondly, I don't see a need to learn to speak to convey English language or even sounds to my son. To put this delicately as possible, most Deaf people do not have clear speech, and their hearing children often have speech impediment as a result. I am cognizant enough to know that my speech is obviously unclear and unintelligible. Does this embarrass me? No. It's the truth. I have accepted that. Therefore, why on the earth would I want to hinder my son's speech development when there's my husband, who is hearing and has clear speech, to communicate spoken English to him. Stuart talks to Forrest daily about his day or read a story to him. This is how Forrest will pick up on the sounds and speech development.

On the other hand, there is my language that I want to teach Forrest and have him learn it. Naturally, I sign to Forrest. I talk to him with my hands constantly. His eyes follow my hands. So I know he's watching even though he may not understand what I am saying right now. Stu and I sign to each other in front of Forrest. It is to incorporate the teaching that our home will be both ASL and spoken English oriented.

Again, all this points to bilingualism which promotes understanding of diversity. The lesson in this is to teach Forrest acceptance. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

2 Weeks Old!

My little man is 2 weeks old today. I am recovering nicely from birth and my body is returning back to normal. There is some parts that need to be worked off, and even so; I am pretty happy with how quickly my body is slimming down. I still have a weird vertical line on my belly. If it won't go away then I would honestly not care because it is worth having my son for. Baby Blues have not hit me that hard. I believe it is because I have a lot of support from my loving husband, Stu, when he is home. He certainly dotes on his son! It also helps to have a good number of visitors to keep me a company for first week and half to give me support. Of course, having Mom around certainly helped! 

Mom left on Friday morning. I admit that I was scared shitless! I worried that it was going to be a difficult adjustment to be on my own. How would I shower, clean dishes, clean up the house, walk Layla, feed the cats and Layla, and do errands? Would I go crazy being cooped up inside the house until Forrest gets his immunization shots? Here he was, my little boy, completely helpless and dependent on me to provide what he needed. I did not want to let him down or let myself down. Was I really cut out to be a mom? Fortunately, that fear did pass. 

At the same time, I was also thrilled. I wanted to have a routine established with Forrest and have our lives to finally begin as parents on our own. 

Taking care of Forrest is easier than I predicted! He still sleeps a lot. It is easy to put him in a small portable bassinet and put him in the same room as I am to clean dishes or do household chores or in the bathroom while I am showering. Breastfeeding Forrest is a lot of work, and it is worth the hard work. Forrest is now going through a growth spurt where he is a bit more fussy in the mornings and wanting to eat every hour and half. Sometime he fights me if he is too hungry and I have to calm him down first before feeding him. Once I get a hang of this, it does become easier, and it is still a learning curve for both of us. 

I find that I do miss being pregnant. I miss the fact that I could protect Forrest inside my belly, and feel him move around. I miss that bond that I only can have with my son, and not have to share him. Uh-oh, what a selfish mama that I am! My pregnancy has gone by way too fast yet I am thankful that I was able to enjoy and have a healthy pregnancy. I do miss dressing Forrest in newborn clothes. He outgrew them way too quickly (within a week). I shed a tear or two when I had to put away newborn clothes because Forrest no longer fit in them. Other than that, I feel pretty good about having my son out in the world, and raising him. The touch of Baby Blues is not too bad;  it actually puts a perspective for me to be thankful, feel blessed, and be happy for the whole beautiful experience of having Forrest grow up. 

Forrest went to see his doctor, Dr. Johnson, last week. He gained 11 ounces! He went from being 7 pounds and 4 oz (he lost some ounces once we left the hospital) to being 8 pounds and 1 ounce! 

I am pretty sure that he has gained more now he has been going through a growth spurt--he feels heavier and bigger. 
 Forrest isn't so crazy about the swinger. He doesn't like the swinging motion just yet. Perhaps when he's older? 

Fortunately, he does like the vibration and bouncing settings on his swinger. It soothes him. 

 Forrest certainly loves time with his daddy and the dog. 

We certainly grab every chance to nap while Forrest is sleeping! 

Forrest tends to go to bed between 10-11 pm and stay asleep until 1-2 am to be fed. 
Then he goes to sleep until 4-5 am and needs to be fed again. I tend stay up from a half hour 
to an hour to make sure that Forrest is full and burped. Stu is wonderful by getting up to 
do the diaper duty for me so I can get some rest! We make a good team. 

Even so, we look forward to the night when Forrest sleeps through the whole night! 
(Hopefully around Christmas or January at latest)

 Forrest had been Mr. Popular. A steady crowd of visitors stopped by to see Forrest! He certainly loved being lavished on, kissed, and cuddled by family members and friends. 

 Our pets have been great with Forrest. 

Our cats wouldn't care less. They prefer Forrest's crib over Forrest. We are 
trying to remedy that problem and keep the cats OUT for when we are
ready to transition Forrest to the crib. 

Layla is very protective over Forrest and she also is very curious of him. 
She likes to sniff, lick, and sit next to Forrest. We have to supervise her to make sure
she doesn't get too excited with her sniffing and licking. 

We are really glad and relieved about Layla's reaction toward Forrest. 

It has been an adventure having our little boy at home with us for past 2 weeks! I'm looking forward to other week of craziness!