Wednesday, October 31, 2012

In Honor Of Halloween....

I'm sharing one of my older posts with you, my dear readers. Enjoy!! Just click on the link and read.

Have a great Halloween. Stay safe. 



Monday, October 29, 2012

Deaf Mama's Mustering

Forrest did not want to show off his costume.....

A bit overdue for It's The Deaf Thing Post, am I? I apologize. I've been really busy lately with visiting my sister and her boyfriend along with my family, and my little boy waking me up at ungodly hours. Ha ha, fortunately, Forrest has gotten back into his regular schedule with nursing, and thankfully, this mama is able to get her mental energy back!

Today's post is a mixture of both about my culture and motherhood. It is always so nice to be able to write about a topic covering both since it's equally important to me.

During my pregnancy, people often asked me if I worried about my son's hearing, whether I wanted him to be Deaf like me, and what kind of worries I had for Forrest. In Deaf culture, it was often considered to be a great blessing to have a Deaf child because it was an opportunity to pass down our culture down to our future Deaf generations. However, to Hearing people; they struggled with this concept because Deafness was not a culture, but a disability. As for me, I wanted my son to not to be born Deaf. It was not that Stu and I were not going to love him if he did turn out to be Deaf. In a way, if he was born Deaf then he was lucky to have a Deaf mama to prepare him with adaptive survival coping skills to deal with the hearing world.  Anyway, I didn't want Forrest to experience a difficult life like as I had, and he was going to have to fight harder in the world that was not that quite understanding and accepting of Deaf people. That was my fear for him.

When Forrest was born, he passed his newborn hearing test, and I was relieved. Then I had a new worry. I worried that he was going to grow up feeling ashamed that he has a Deaf mama, and to be teased for that by his peers. I did not want that for him. I admitted this concern to Stu, and he smiled at me then said, honey, that probably will happen even if you are not Deaf. All kids get picked on at some point over something. Even so, if Forrest does get picked on for having a Deaf mom then we will sit down and talk to him. In a way, he is lucky to have you in his life to enable him to teach others about tolerance, respect ,and love for people of diversity. 

I realized that Stu was right, and that made me feel better. This was going to bring me an opportunity to teach Forrest about diversity.

Because Forrest is hearing, he will be known as CODA in the Deaf community, and CODA means Child Of a Deaf Adult. People, who are CODA, are not Deaf yet they are valuable asset to the Deaf world especially if they are very proactive with sign language and Deaf culture. CODA folks act like a bridge between Deaf and Hearing worlds because in a way, they have the best of both worlds. Forrest will have many opportunities to learn about Deaf culture and use his knowledge to educate others who are not Deaf. Even if Forrest isn't a proactive part of the Deaf world (as an interpreter, teacher for the Deaf, etc), he still has a choice to spread this knowledge that he will learn from me, and use it to make the world more tolerant place.

Because of this, I knew that I wanted to incorporate something from my language for my son's nursery room because it was very important to me as a Deaf person. I ended up coming up with a great idea. I decided I wanted to have photographs of me finger-spelling Forrest's name, and hang them in individual frames from a tree branch. Of course, I wanted a woodland theme after Forrest. I asked Dad if he was willing to take pictures for me, and he gladly did it for me! I thought it was cool that I had Forrest's grandpa to take pictures of Forrest's name.


Nursery room with Forrest's name 

I am very pleased with how my idea has turned out. This is a good start to expose Forrest to my language. I am always signing to Forrest. I read books to him in sign language. I talk to him. I enjoy how Forrest lights up when I talk to him. His eyes follow my hands rather attentively. He shakes his hands in response to my signing. I know he does not understand what I am saying yet his brain is mapping every sign I make. I look forward to the day when he finally signs back. Hopefully something along the line of Mama. :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

International Day: Be Kind to a Pit Bull

I was greeted by a compact tank-like creature with large pink tongue, panting heavily, and trying to jump on my legs. An audible sniffing and snorting noises came out of this dog's flattened snout. With a heavy baby in my arms, I reached gingerly on top of the hardened skull and patted with my fingertips. The dog's heavy underbite grinned at me. The so-not little Bull Dog, Boston, soaked in my attention. She grew even more excited when she realized I had a little human in my arms. I hoisted my son even higher in my arms to prevent her from getting too excited while sniffing his presence. Her entire flank shook with barely contained excitement.

During all this commotion, other dog sat on his hunches, and looked regal. His heavy-brows showed intelligent brown eyes. His tail thumped softly as I approached him. He remained still as I stroked along the ridge on top of his skull. He closed his eyes for a moment and grunted as he stood up to his full sized height. Realizing that there was a small baby in my arms, he pressed his snout against my baby and took a deep sniff. Then he opened his mouth....and gave Forrest a big slobbering lick then stayed some distance away, unlike Boston who was desperately trying to jump on me,  to allow some space for me to walk downstairs to the den room where my siblings were all hanging out. 

The entire time I was visiting, Ajax calmly sniffed at Forrest and gave him slobbering kisses. He was fascinated by this little two-months old baby, and wanted to spend time near him. Ajax obediently sat when both Alex and Alex (my brother and his fiancee) commanded him to. Unlike his companion, Boston, he did not beg or drool at the sight of food. The noises from the guys playing Halo or Madden 13 did not cause Ajax to go into crazy excitement. He laid on the floor with his snout resting on his forelegs.

Do I trust Ajax and Boston around my baby with an adult supervision? Absolutely. And the funny thing is, it is....

Totally opposite of how Media loves to paint Ajax. 

You see, Ajax is a Pit Bull.

Alex, my brother's fiancee, asked me if I was interested in writing a post on my blog about Pit Bulls since today was International Awareness Day called Be Kind to Pit Bulls. This day was founded by an advocacy group called Pit Bulls Against Misinformation. Of course, I jumped at this for two reasons. First, I loved the idea of educating people--this was why I had started writing about It's the Deaf Thing posts to reduce stigma, misinformation, fears, ignorance, and encourage curiosity among people who are not Deaf. Secondly, I have always been a HUGE animal lover especially of those breeds that were considered to be less than appealing to many. 

I am lucky to be able to grow up with "bully" or those breeds that are deemed to be dangerous. My brother and I grew up with Rottweilers, German Shepards, Chow Chow, Pit Bulls, Doberman, & many more. Because of this, I was able to see through distorted image and lies that Media often like to portray on those dogs, and see the truth about them. 

When I was working as a pet groomer, those breeds came in and I was often asked to work with them; I gladly accepted, and enjoyed them. Never have I been bitten, nipped, or growled at by those particular breeds.

However, I was bitten, nipped, growled at, and scratched by....a Schipperke, Chihuahua, Cairn Terrier, Yorkie, & those "ankle-biters" breeds. They were the most aggressive dogs I have ever worked with. Ironically, they were considered to be gentle and lapdogs by many. How wrong was that idea. Those dogs developed Napoleon's Complex and because of this, they became possessive of their surroundings and owners. 

Do not get me wrong. I'm not naive. There are some large breeds, Bully or not, that are an unfortunate byproduct of abuse, ignorance, poor breeding, and inappropriate handling which led them to be aggressive or have undesirable traits. With any dogs you see, you should be careful until you know the dog's temper and behavior. 

While working as a groomer, I learned the number one leading bite in United States was not caused by a Pit Bull. It was both Golden Retrievers and Labs. Believe it or not. Why, one may ask. 

You see, Golden Retrievers and Labs are often in high demand to be family pets because of their likable traits, and status of being family dogs; the irresponsible breeders end up interbreeding their dogs, and this leads to poor result. The dogs are born with poor temperaments, and do not carry healthy genes. Many families buy dogs that comes from backyard breeders, and this leads to unfortunate incidents. This is why you see so many Labs and Golden Retrievers in the shelters. They are no longer desired because of their poor social background, bad genes, and in some cases, aggression. They are as much victims as Pit Bulls are. 

French Bulldog; French Bulldog Association Site

When an incident do occur with Bully breeds, Media jumps all over on this and glorify the incident as in saying See, I told you. You better beware. They are dangerous. The term, "Bully", has become so distorted to the point of scaring people. People automatically think of Pits when Bully term is used. However, do you know that a Boxer, Boston Terrier, Bull Mastiff, French Bulldog, & English Bulldog are considered to be a part of Bully breeds? Yet they are excluded from the Bully breeds in general.

The stories of attacks by Labs and Golden Retrievers, the excluded dogs in the Bully breed category are not covered by the Media simply because they do not make a sensational story on the front newspaper page. 

However, the far and few attacks of Pit bulls on human beings are grubbed by the Media. Think of Michael Vick, the gangs that likes to use them for "scare tactics" and they practice poor breeding along with abuse that inevitably cause dogs to be socially unacceptable, &  irresponsible dog owners that did not know how to handle their dogs properly. What people do not see in the stories are that Pit bulls or any bully breeds that are rescued are often put down immediately regardless positive traits the rescuers see in these dogs. This is based on assumption that all dogs that are rescued are already dangerous and beyond of rehabilitation. This leads to banning in airports, transportation sites, apartments/housings, and public sites, to name a few. The laws have put in effect to reduce breeding the so called-aggressive breeds. 

This is why people have become so frightened of Bully breeds. 

It is understandable and healthy to have some fear of dogs especially if you do not know the dog's background. To have such fear and hatred of certain breeds, based on ignorance, is when it becomes very sad. The constant coverage by Media, bans put in place by airports and public continues to make it difficult for advocate groups to educate us about the truth of Bully breeds. 

Instead of being so afraid and rejecting Bully breeds based on face value; try talking with owners that have Bully dog, read positive stories about them (Oogy: The Dog a Family Only Can Love is a great book), attend festivals and events with dogs of all breeds, volunteer your time at a local animal shelter, and watch movies that are positively focused on bully breeds (Homeward Bound Disney Movie has a dog named Chance and he's an American Bulldog). You do not have to be a bully dog lover or even like them, but at least give them a credit and respect that they deserve.

Friday, October 26, 2012

What Have I learned From Those 8 Years? marks 8 years for us. It is hard to believe that I was only 19 when I met my future husband. Stu swears that he knew he wanted to marry me when he first laid his eyes on me. He claims that I lighted up the room with my aura of my smile. I always shake my head and roll my eyes with a smile when he says this to me while I secretly jumps up and down internally. Stu smiles and kisses on top of my head then proceeds to tell me how lucky he is to have me in his life. 

So....8 years

It doesn't really feel like it though. I believe it is because we have a really great friendship on top of our relationship. I can honestly tell you that Stu is one of my best friends. I think it is why we are able to get through our rough patches. I wouldn't want to give up on a best friend even if going gets hard. Fortunately, we have far more wonderful time than bad. It is funny because when I am trying to be mad, see the key word here: trying, and Stu looks at me with a smile on his face and says, try to say that again without smiling....and I fail to do so every time. I love that we are able to hold hands, and never find that old even after 8 years. 

As young as we were, when we first started dating; we were able to grow as individuals and as a couple. I transferred to Ripon College during my sophomore year, and met Stu there. It was your classic love story of a frat boy that met a sorority girl and fell in love...well, with a twist. You see, I am Deaf and do not speak. So, he totally learned ASL (American Sign Language) just for me. I knew he was a keeper when he signed to me, Will you go to my formal dance with me? I loved that we both came from drastically different backgrounds; Stu came from a farming family, and my family lived in a city. We weathered long-distance relationship for nearly 2 years when Stu did his stint with army ROTC training, and when I was attending a graduate school in Washington DC then interned in Minnesota. After I graduated from graduate school, it was just matter of time before we got married. Stu finally proposed to me on July 17th of 2009 right after I came home from my vacation in Hawaii. It was no brainer that I said absolutely yes. Two years later, we got married at Green Bay Botanical Gardens. A year later, we had our baby boy, Forrest.

So....what are our secrets to a long lasting relationship?

1) Never be too proud. We apologize when we are in the wrong, and accept our responsibility of causing hurt to one other. Forgive. Then move on.

2) Communicate. It's cliche, but true. Better have things to be said than kept in and stew until it cannot be contained anymore. Besides, more often than not, the solution is a quick fix.

3) Focus on strengths instead of weaknesses. We don't compare our relationship to others. Other relationships may seem perfect and awesome. The other couple may have more money, bigger house, more vacations, or nicer things, but like everybody else, they do have their share of problems. The other side is not always green. We count our blessings, and say I love you as often as we can.

4) We don't air our dirty laundry. Period. Never I would want to make Stu look bad just because of one silly argument. People have a tendency to focus on the bad if you air your dirty laundry constantly. Besides, it is disrespectful to one other.

5) Have fun. Really. Go out and go mini-golfing. Without your kids. Hang your hair loose. Play. Eat. Dine. Date. Watch a movie. Do whatever that tickles your fancy. Seriously. Try to do this once a month and it will do wonders for your relationship. It has for us. Most of the time, our "date" is watch our favorite TV shows and cuddle on the sofa while eating from a big bowl of popcorn while our son is sleeping for the night. It's free, and doesn't require any effort especially with a little baby on the board.

6) Do things together and apart. It is good to share same interests and want to do things together. But too much of togetherness can be suffocating. Go out with your girlfriends for margarita night or huddle with your guy friends in front of TV to watch football/baseball. It is healthy for both of us to spend some time apart, and makes our relationship stronger because it gives us a chance to miss each other, and remind us why we are together.

7) Support each other. This is why I encourage Stu to coach in the fall even though it means long hours without seeing Stu, a lot of weekends by myself with our son, and less quality time with Stu. It takes some sacrifice on my part seeing that fall is my favorite time of the year. Stu does the same for me by making sacrifices for me. This makes us feel supported and loved and safe.

That's what I learned from those eight years with Stu. Time really does fly while you are having fun.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

If You Really Knew Me....

I'm still pooped out. Forrest has been getting up between 4-5 am, and not wanting to sleep.  Oh my little sweet boy he is. :) Because of this, I'm still experiencing a total sap of brain juice to muster awesome posts. Fear not, I will resume back to my regular topic blogging by next week, I totally promise. Today's post is for you, my dear readers, to get know me a bit better!

You would know that I can savor hours and hours in the book store, just soaking in the smell of paperback books, and sipping a cup of coffee. Because of this, I feel like I am sort of cheating on my paperback books by considering to ask for a Nook tablet. Even so, I will always continue to purchase paperback books. I think a house isn't a really a house without books! Because of this philosophy of mine, Forrest already has a nice bounty of children books, and his little stack of books will continue to grow as he ages.

You would know that I am a big fan of horror movies. While I do love me some well-made horror and psychological thriller movies, I admit to enjoying some really poorly made B-movies..even better if it has poor special effects, weak story plot, and people behaving stupidly. There is something about crapistic horror movies that causes my toes to curl in glee. 

You would know that I am somewhat indecisive. When I find a product I really like, I have to research the crap out of it before purchasing it, and it can take me quite forever to make a decision to get it.

You would know that I am a geek. And pretty proud to be one. However, I can't decide if I am a Trekker or Star Wars fan because I love them both equally so. I also love graphic novels. They are underestimated big time, and people don't know what they are missing out on.

You would know that my friends call me a Fender Bender because I'm so klutzy.

You would know that I have an uncanny knack of liking things before they become well-liked. For example; I read Harry Potter in British version before it was a hit in US, and reading books (Walking Dead, to name one) before they got "famous" and turned into movies/TV shows.


You would know that I have an extraordinary empathy for animals. My mom has jokingly once said that she somewhat raised me wrong because the homeless and abused animals commercials hit me at home more so than the commercials for sick or homeless children. Not that I do not care for humans. Because I do. Animals, vulnerable adults, and children are what I feel the most need to protect. 

You would know that somehow becoming a mother has really calmed me down. People, including myself, thought I would be a very helicopter type of mother. And the opposite had happened. My son had converted me into mellow and laid-back type of person. 

You would know that I have a need to document everything that happens in my life. I suspect this is why I have 2 boxes full of journals from my life...and yes, I am still do keep a journal. This has led me into the world of blogging as well. 

You would know that my idea of escape is just soaking in a very hot tub with thick sheen of bubbles, a glass of wine, and a good romance book.

You would know that I absolutely love quotes. I collect quotes, and sayings just for an inspiration. I also love movie quotes.

You would know that I love photography. I believe it is because of Dad. I've been behind the camera lens for as long as I can remember. I wish I have half of his talent at photography. Nonetheless, because of him, I have developed an appreciation for photography and photographers.

 You would know that I am an awesome cooker and baker! Just ask anyone who have had my cooking. It's one of my passions, BTW--to cook and bake. I am always on a quest to find awesome recipes on Pinterest. 

You would know that I am a romantic and a frequent daydreamer. I dislike having to come back to reality. 
You would know that I am a huge planner. I love to plan, plan, and plan. I suspect it is because I love the feeling of anticipation than an actual event itself. This is why I'm thinking about venturing into wedding planner business....just a thought, though, and nothing serious yet! 

*Borrowing this phase from other blogger because I can totally relate to this* You would know that when I was a teenager and in my early twenties, I was not totally comfortable with kids. In fact, to some degree, it took becoming a mother to really get comfortable with kids. 

You would know that almost on a daily basis, I am told that I should become a writer, and that I am seriously toying with an idea to write a book. About what? I do not know yet. 

You would know that I am fiercely loyal to those who I love. If you cross someone I love then you're in the world of trouble. If you are the person I love then I'm always willing to give my shirt off my back. Even though I have a big heart, I am not a doormat, and will speak up if I must.

You would know that I've always known that I will have a boy first. Call it a premonition. And sure enough, I did end up having a boy. And by the way, this little boy of mine has totally captured my heart! 

Monday, October 22, 2012


I'm kind of brain dead. I don't have much motivation to write a thoughtful, well-written, and in-depth post right now. My little glowworm slept rather fitfully last night, and ended up wanting to stay awake at ungodly hour, 4 am. Whatever promoted my boy to be an extreme early-riser today remained unknown. I bounced my boy in my arms with my eyes closed. I resigned myself to the fact that my Forrest was just not like me in the sleep department (I love to sleep in...). Takes after his daddy, I think. Anyway, Forrest babbled and pulled at my hair strands. How could I be angry at him for wanting to stay awake especially with his toothless grins that reaches to his eyes. 

Because of me being brain-dead, today's post will be a light reading. :) 

Loving: Spending time with my sister, Lauren, and her boyfriend, Joey, who are visiting from Texas, hanging out with my family, catching up with my brothers and sister, being with my boy, football Sunday, snuggling under a thick blanket on a cold rainy day, Halloween movies on both AMC and ABC Family, corn and pumpkin candies, and a cup of hot coffee. 

Reading: Since I don't have Stu's kindle with me, I haven't been able to finish the book series I recently started called "In Death" by J.D. Robb; I have been re-reading Plain Truth by Jodi Piccolt, and it helps to pass time while I am nursing Forrest. 

Watching: The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, & American Horror Story. Funny how I have two gory shows and then throw in a sweet light show. Shows how my taste can be eclectic! I do enjoy Big Bang Theory, but I want to start watching it from Season 1.

Thinking About: How I am almost done with Christmas shopping for my family. Crazy, right? All I need to do is order the items, and find a few more gifts. My goal is to be done with my family by Thanksgiving. Then we can focus on Stu's family. Also, I'm thinking about having my hair styled after Halloween. I really need a make-over for my hair. 

Looking Forward To: The holidays. I absolutely love this time of the year. It's just something in the air. 

Making Me Happy: Blogging, writing, shopping, hanging out with our family, Forrest, Stu, Layla and our cats. 


Saturday, October 20, 2012

2 Months Old

Dear Forrest,

You are now 2 months old. I can't believe how fast time has flown by. Your mama and daddy are always telling each other how it seems that every day, when they wake up to see your little brown eyes staring from your bed, you seem to have grown a bit bigger and heavier overnight.

You are getting so big! You're starting to smile. Even Dr. Johnson, your doctor, confirmed this by saying you're already smiling socially, and able to respond to your parents' smiles. You love it when your parents babble, blow raspberries, and laugh. You smile and squint your eyes in response to their chatters. When your mama sign to your Daddy, you gaze at her intensely and furrow your eyebrows. You're definitely a thinker. Your parents can see you thinking all of the time as you absorb the world into your sight. 

You are 11 pounds and 10 ounces. You are tall and big for your age range. It is something that your mama have always known since the day she felt your feet in her ribs for the first time! So this is nothing new to your parents. Your daddy boasts that you will be a great football player one day given your big size for your age. Don't worry, Forrest, if football is something you don't want to do then we are okay with it as long as you are happy. 

While what I have to say next, this is not to discredit other mamas that have opt not to breastfeed their babies because other ways  to feed babies are as equally challenging, and tiring task. Because of that, I give a mad props to ALL mamas out there.

People jokingly say that your mama is a great feeder, and how she gives you plenty of nutrients that you need for your little growing body! While the compliment is kind, your mama sure does wish she feels that way everyday! Breastfeeding has been a very hard journey for both of us, and it is paying off by you gaining weight. That is all what counts. 

You handled the shots like a pro. It was harder on your mama than it was on you! You received 4 shots and a shot of red syrup medicine. You slept the day away. However, the next day; you were not feeling like yourself and needed to be near your mama. Thank goodness for Moby Wrap. It helped your mama to get things accomplished and to have you near her heart. You nearly slept away the whole day inside the wrap!  You and your mama liked Moby Wrap so much that she started putting you in it everyday for a physical contact. It was supposed to help you develop a better ability to calm yourself down, gain self-confidence, trust of people, become independent quicker, and it was also beneficial for parents as well by helping them to ward away depression, stress, and improve understanding how to communicate with infants through body cues.

For a week after your shots, you were quite fussy, and a hard time staying asleep. You wanted to snack and eat constantly. Your parents were pretty sure that you were going through a growth spurt... again, already, little man? Nonetheless, you were able to get through this colicky-fussy phase and resumed to be your happy old self once again.

Next time, your parents will be prepared with recently-learned tricks up their sleeves to soothe you when you enter your fussy phase. Pediacare, check. Gripe water, check. Gas tablets, check. Swaddle blankets, check. White noise music box, check. Batteries, check. Sanity and frequent breaks in place, check. There, your parents are prepared. 

You continue to practice Tummy Time. You are able to hold your head up for a minute at time! You've always been a very independent baby (taking after your mama, already, aren't you). Two weeks in from being born, you push your legs against people's bellies, and wanting to try hold your head up by yourself. Boy, you sure have a strong pair of legs! You don't like having to stay still and not do things by yourself. Hence, you try so hard to hold your head up and get frustrated when you get tired from holding your head up. Your mama was told by Dr. Johnson that you should be able to roll over this month! Even if you don't roll over this month then that's okay and just take your time, little man. Your parents have faith that you will get it done when you are good and ready to go! 

You are starting to sleep through the night. The first night you slept through the night, we nearly jumped out of our pajamas from sheer excitement for having slept that long with you! This is an exciting change that your parents gladly welcome from you. Even so, sleeping schedule is still sporadic at its best. Some nights, you sleep anywhere from 4-5 hours. On some other nights, you wake up twice to be fed. Even on the nights when you wake up twice, you no longer stay awake for an hour or more, and go back to sleep fairly quick after being fed. This is very much appreciated by your parents. Keep this up, little man!

Your parents are thinking about taking a plunge by putting you in the crib in your own bedroom! Because of this, your mama is hoping to purchase an extra-tall baby/pet gate to prevent the cat, from trying to sneak into your room for a snuggle time with you, soon. You are simply getting too big for your bassinet already, and your parents can't keep on having you sleep in your bouncer forever. Hopefully, once the pet gate is here, and you'll be able to transition easily to your crib.

Your Mama is quite excited about having you to experience the holidays coming up... Halloween just around the corner, Thanksgiving, and Christmas! On top of all this, you will get to meet Aunt Lauren and Uncle Joey for the first time!

We are excited to see what you have to bring for month 2. We love you so much, and can't believe that time is flying so quickly since the day you were born.

Mama & Daddy

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Take THAT, Martha Stewart

"Hey Ash" Stu signed.
"Can you bake Monster Cookies for people at work for my birthday?" Stu asked.
"Sure." I said. 

It has been years since I last baked Monster Cookies. The last time I made them was probably back in when I was still in college. Ever since, life happened, and I never got around to baking that particular batch. Because of this, I lost the recipe. No big deal. This was when Internet came in to save the day. I scoured online for a recipe and found one almost immediately. I bathed Forrest, knowing it was going to knock him out for an hour or so, and put him in his bouncer with his warm fuzzy crocheted blanket. I was off to making cookies. It immediately relaxed me as I busied myself with preparing the dough. After using my faithful red Kitchen Aide mixer, I looked at the dough, and wondered to myself if that was supposed how it was to be. I remembered it being thicker, full of oats, and less...crumbly? 

I shrugged, deciding to give this a chance, and see whether baking the dough was going to help it to shape into pretty little cookies. After baking, I saw that the cookies did not turn out the way I had anticipated them to. It was flat. For a moment, I puzzled over the fact why they were so flat, and re-read the recipe. I had done everything right from A to Z. What was wrong? Was it my gas stove? I took a bite of a very flat monster cookie. While it tasted just fine, I was not satisfied..not at all, and went online once again. I found a different recipe, and discovered a difference right away.

The culprit of a missing ingredient?


Ugh. I impulsively stuck my tongue out at the computer, and sighed. As immature as it was, I wished the lady was actually right front of me I can tell her, rather sarcastically, how amazing her recipe was. Right. Simultaneously,  I kicked my own butt for losing my family recipe for monster cookies. I tossed a hard piece of a flat cookie into a bin, and sighed once again...kind of dramatic, really. Being a perfectionist that I am, I was unable to send off this crappy batch of cookies to Stu's work. No way; no ifs, no ands or no buts. I know...that meant making my life harder.

I could have sent the cookies like that with Stu. I am sure people will choke it down for Stu's sake and lie through their teeth how lovely of a baker I am. I mean, who would lie to a man on his birthday? 

But no....I had to fix this sorry excuse of cookies. 

I can see myself being that mom that spends wee hours into the morning sewing a costume, while popping Adderall pills as a stimulant to stay awake (kidding about popping the pills, but I will probably be chugging down strongest coffee known to man), for her son some day. 

Yep, I totally stole that idea from Desperate Housewives

I disdainfully looked at the flat cookies and put it away. Once again, I gathered all the ingredients...including flour....and....

I chucked the remaining batter into the trash while shaking my head at my own stubbornness and perfectionistic tendency to make the whole thing right.  By the way, the batter did taste bland. What? I had to sample some--I was very good for my whole pregnancy and did not sample batter! Anyway, off it the TRASH. Good riddance and good bye.  

I started following the new recipe step by step. I was lost in my cause when I suddenly heard a loud screech coming from behind of me. Startled, I dropped a plastic measuring cup filled with flour all over myself. Holy batman, settle my heart. I turned to Forrest. He was jerking around his little fists in the air, angry, and hungry.


Yep, my little boy needed me. I had no time to change my flour covered shirt and resigned to such state. I stopped in midst of making the new batter, and left the mess on the floor. I fed and changed Forrest then returned to the kitchen with him in his bouncer. I silently apologized to him for being a crappy mom of the day. Forrest snuggled once again in his little bouncer and gave off a big burp before falling asleep. If it was not for the screwed-up recipe that I attempted to bake then I would be playing with my son by now. But no.

Then I turned to discover my little fur face was busily licking off the table with remaining flour and crumbs from my previous flattened cookies. Busted! I screamed at Layla. She turned her snout to my direction and grunted as she plopped her hinds on the floor, not caring that she was caught, and drooled in anticipation as I cleaned up after her mess. 

40 minutes later, the mess was cleaned up, and I finished the new batch. I nodded my head. I was finally satisfied. This was what I had remembered what the dough was supposed to look like. 

I diligently worked on scooping cookie dough onto the cookie sheets and turned around to put the cookies into the oven. I nearly tripped over 50 pounds rug mat that was salivating heavily by the stove. Thankfully a broken ankle was not in my cards today. I shooed Layla away. She budged only an inch. I pretended to pick up a piece of dough and threw it across the room. Layla gave me a bored stare. She wasn't buying my bluff. She knew I was faking it. Darn it,  dog, mooooooooooooooove will you?! 

Okay I did not say aw darn it. I used a different D word. Nonetheless, Layla yawned, showing off her long pink tongue and toothless gums, and stretched her oblong body. She watched my every step with an anticipation and hope that something was going to fall on the floor. One would think stuffing herself with flour would fill Layla up.....yeah right. I shot a glaring look at the dog. Once again, Layla yawned and settled onto her stomach on the floor. That dog really didn't care if I had shot her death stares. Her stomach ruled her mind. Never mind that she was fed twice a day with top brand dog food, and 1-2 treats for bathroom breaks. Her starving act may work on others, but not me.The oven beeped every 15 minutes and I removed the cookies and put them on cooling rack. Layla salivated  and shook her flank with excitement. I shook my head at her and said, so not for you, dog. 

Now, as a Basset Hound owner; you cannot trust a Basset ALONE with cooling cookies. I spent the whole morning guarding MY cookies. Bet Martha Stewart didn't have to do that with Paw-Paw (a Chow Chow). I bet you even more money that Martha didn't have to deal with Paw Paw drooling over her feet, and trying to hurry everything up before a baby wakes up. I chuckled at this thought and grinned to myself.

By nearly 2 pm, the whole ordeal had come to an end. I put away all cooled cookies into a bin, cleaned up the counters, washed the dishes--yeah, we live in the middle ages and do not own a dishwasher--and swept the kitchen floor of whatever remaining crumbs that were not picked by Layla's vacuuming mouth.

I plopped on the sofa, kicked up my sore feet, and held Forrest close to my chest. I blew the air out of my mouth and silently thanked the gods up above for not throwing me with a burning down stove or something equally insane. Stu will have to really kiss my feet tonight and thank me profusely for going through hell to bake him perfectly delish cookies. At least I was going to treat myself to watching American Horror Story on Fox after a long hot shower tonight. 

Martha Stewart entered my mind again, and I thought....Well take THAT, Martha, try to do all that with a baby and a constantly hungry dog. 


Monday, October 15, 2012

Stuck Between Two Worlds: Hard Of Hearing
Last night I watched a really fascinating documentary about four Deaf folks dealing with assorted issues such as job obstacles, Deaf issues, Not being Deaf enough, and oh so many more. Out of four Deaf people that the crew followed; TL, a woman pictured in lower right corner above, struck me the most on a personal level because I was able to relate her very much so. The only difference between her and I was that she was hard of hearing and me Deaf. 

She struggled with trying to fit in the Deaf world, not being Deaf enough, and not being a native signer. Her signing was very clear that she was not a fluent signer and that she learned to speak first then learned to sign later. Her mannerisms leaned to being more hearing than Deaf-like. That I understood and related completely. 

During the filming, TL lamented about categories and labels that our society had put on ourselves. She did not understand why there had to be an emphasis on being Deaf enough. Sure, she was able to speak clearly, was trying to pursue her career as a singer, and have some hearing, however, she still viewed herself as Deaf.   TL did not like the concept of being "boxed" for Deaf people--there was a box for hearing people, a box for HH people, and a box for Deaf people. Instead, she stated that a spectrum was a better concept to explain the Deaf culture. 

In Deaf culture, we get to meet people from all different paths of life; some have more profound hearing loss compared to others, some can speak well and some can't or choose not to, some are heavily ASL singers and some aren't, some can lip read better than others, some have hearing aids like Cochlear Implants, hearing aids and some others forego wearing them, and ... you see the point here. To put everybody in Deaf culture into neat little categories does not work. It causes a lot of animosity in both Deaf and Hearing worlds.  

It made me think about my HH friends and mainstreamed Deaf people. Mainstreamed Deaf people have a slightly advantage over HH people. Mainstreamed Deaf have a tendency to be accepted by Native Deaf folks quicker while HH people have to try prove themselves a bit harder to be completely accepted. 

Some hard-core Deaf folks look at HH people and reject them. Their reasoning? Well, HH people don't get it. HH people can talk and hear with help of their hearing aids. They secure jobs quicker. They don't have any problem communicating with hearing people. Some of them don't sign well or fluently. They seem too hearing. Because of all this, they can't understand Deaf issues. They don't experience obstacles and pain that us Deaf people go through. 

To a degree, I can understand that despite me being on the "not deaf enough" spectrum. Being able to speak and hear does have its advantage. A person who can speak and hear tends to get things done quicker compared to those who can't. Sure, my HH friends do seem to have things easier than I do. See, the key word here is "seem". Then I remind myself.....

 To a greater degree, I think it's also just bull. Let me tell you why.

I look at some of my close friends, who happen to be HH, and see their frustrations as well. Hearing people automatically assume that since they have hearing aids and can speak well then they should not experience any obstacle with communication. Well, guess what? Hearing aids isn't perfect. Some information do still get lost in the translation. Sometimes, words get misunderstood or misspoken. Then whose fault is it? Of course, my HH friends are at fault because they don't try hard enough to understand or speak clearly, right? 

The attitude in itself from some Deaf people and hearing people can be exhausting for HH people.

The label alone of being HH can affect them. Some Deaf people look at the label and automatically say, no you are not Deaf enough, sorry. Then the hearing folks look at this label and say, have a hearing problem and you are not really one of us either. 

What both Deaf and Hearing people don't realize is that they have to work harder to continually remind themselves what this or that sounds like, how this or that should be pronounced or spoken, and sometimes hearing things give them headaches. For some of my friends, by the end of the day; they take their hearing aids off or turn their CI of, and their world suddenly goes quiet. This leads to an identity crisis. Well, am I hearing because I can speak and hear well for most part of time, but when I turn my hearing aids off then I can't hear at all or hear that well anymore then does this mean I'm Deaf? 

As one of my good friend, who is HH, had once said, "Where do I fit in? I don't know, honestly." 

Sure, many of my friends, who are HH, do feel more comfortable in the Deaf world. Many Deaf people are accepting and willing to embrace them. Unfortunately, when it comes down to issues of employment, and having easier access to the hearing world; HH people are reminded that they are not ... well... Deaf enough. And this is hard on them because all they want is to be accepted and not to be judged by their hearing status by both Deaf and Hearing folks...which is something everybody want, to be fit in, accepted, and loved for who they are, right? 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Love and Hate It: Breastfeeding

Beautiful Breastfeeding Blogspot
My journey with breastfeeding is proving to be one of the most difficult things I have done in my life. Please what is so hard about putting a boob into a baby's mouth, right?

At least that was what I thought during my pregnancy. I knew from the moment I got pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed my son. Hey, breast milk was free, no work involved in making milk, can feed the baby anywhere, better health benefits, and it seemed to be easy. 

When I gave birth to Forrest, after he had been checked out and cleared of any problems; he was placed on me for a skin-on-skin contact, and nursing. It came to me rather naturally and it was easy off the bat since Forrest latched on with no problem. My milk supply was great. I had more than enough to give to Forrest. I felt accomplished and pretty good about breastfeeding. I figured that it was going to be easy from from now on from that moment. 

It was pretty easy for Forrest and I until we hit our third week. Suddenly, Forrest was not latching on well. He kept popping his lips off my nipple, and cried constantly. A five-minute nursing sessions turned into an hour long sessions. My nipples grew sore and red. Forrest was not satisfied with what I gave him. I was about to pull hair out of my head and I cried constantly because I was so frustrated with not having a wonderful nursing relationship with my son anymore. I was torn between wanting to give up and resorting to formula and wanting to preserve until we got it solved. 

With the help from a lactation nurse and mommy groups I was a part of, I found a position that Forrest preferred. Whew, I thought, problem solved, and we can go back to having a wonderful nursing relationship once again. 

Unfortunately, that was not in my cards. 

As it turned out, Forrest and I had Thrush. While I was unhappy that my boy was suffering, I was also relieved because Thrush was obviously impacting my ability to feed Forrest, and it was probably why Forrest struggled to stay latched on. From what I understood, Thrush was painful and imagine trying to eat with a sore mouth. Doesn't sound lovely, eh? Forrest and I were put on an antibiotic for Thrush. I did everything to get prevent Thrush. I changed my pads frequently, bleached all of my nursing bras, used new towel for every shower, sterilized Forrest's pacifiers, sterilized the bottles in case if I wanted to pump, and gave him a new pacifier every day. 

Thankfully, Thrush went away. We were finally back on the schedule with nursing. I began to recognize the signs of cluster-feedings, as brought on by growth spurts, and felt like boobs on the legs for a good week. I put up with Forrest's fussy behavior and told myself that the end was near. 

I ended up having blocked ducts, not once...not twice...not three times, but four times! It was the most painful thing I had to endure. I did everything in my power to unclog the blocked ducts, and it did hurt during the process of unclogging them. I cried over this because I was so frustrated and tired of dealing with the pain. I was about to throw the towel in when I decided to contact a lactation consultation once again. I was told to pump the side that Forrest did not want to eat. That little mister did not want eat from both sides. He preferred to eat from one side at time. Okay. I started pumping from the unfed side for every nursing session. 

My only comfort from this entire experience was that Forrest continued to gain weight, had poopy and urine-filled diapers. I knew he was getting enough. 

Then my worry resurfaced when Forrest became 7 weeks old. I was not sure if Forrest was getting enough milk since I no longer had same issues as I did during the previous few weeks. Fortunately, I had a great support from mommy groups, and I was reassured that it was my body stabilizing to fit Forrest's needs.  I threw my worry away and decided I was only going to worry if Forrest does not poop/pee enough.

During this whole nearly 2-months ordeal of breastfeeding my son, I learned pretty quickly that the public did not really seem to support breastfeeding, and it became difficult to find places to nurse a wailing babe. I had to resort to feeding Forrest in the back of my jeep. If I really had no choice at all, then I just sat in the open, pushed past the initial discomfort of knowing that people were watching and probably secretly judging me, and fed my little raptor right there. I figured that well, the baby was hungry then might as well feed him, and it was about his growth. Nobody in their right mind would starve a baby regardless how he/she is being fed, right? It's just food, for heaven's sake, and babies gotta eat somehow.

I do love the feeling of being close with Forrest, and knowing that he is growing happy and fat from what I am giving to him. It makes me feel like a MOM. A quick reminder for those mamas who are not breastfeeding their babies; you are still a MOM, and you'll find that moment where you just say, Hey I am a mama and I feel good for doing this or that for my kid--it doesn't require you to breastfeed your baby to feel this way! 

While I am pushing ahead with this journey and staying determined to make it as long as we can, I can't say that I LOVE doing this, and it is so much fun for me. It is a pain in the butt, I won't lie. There are days when I long for a glass of wine or finding a cute shirt that I don't have to think second about whether it is going to be feasible while breastfeeding my son. At 2 am, I try not to fall asleep with Forrest at my bosom. There are moments when I wish I'm not just boobs on the legs! :)

Even so, I take this a day at time, and mentally pat myself on the back when Forrest and I made it to the next day. I can only hope that one day I will look back and say hey, I'm glad I did this for as long as I did. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Just Got Nominated.....

I am honored to be nominated for Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award! Thank you Ali, from Chasing Moonlights and Roses, for nominating me! Feel free to check out Ali's blog. She is a mama to a sweet baby girl, a wife to a wonderful man, and her blog posts, mostly focused on motherhood, are great read especially over a cup of coffee in the mornings! It is a really nice feeling to know that my blog has positively impacted my followers. Now I am off to nominate 7 bloggers that I admire and enjoy following/reading. I wish I can pick more than 7 though! 

The rules: 

1. Thank the blogger that gave you the award
2. Post 7 things about yourself
3. Pick 7 blogs to pass on the award and let them know

10 facts about this awesome blogger...ME!
(I can't just do 7 facts so 10 it is, ha ha)

1. I am Deaf. After almost twenty-eight years of soul-searching; I am happy to say that I finally feel pretty comfortable in my own skin especially with my Deaf identity. This is why I try to post a weekly topic regarding Deaf issues on my blog. Feel free to contact me if you have questions and I will write a post with an answer! 

2. I am married to a wonderful man, who is not Deaf, Stu, and we have been together for nearly 8 years! He does know sign language and I feel darned lucky to have him as my husband.

3. I am a proud mama of almost 2 months old son, Forrest. He is a joy and blessing in my life. He has definitely changed my perspective about life. 

4. English isn't my first language. Sign Language is. This is why you may find an occasional grammar mistake here and there even though I try my best to edit before publishing my posts! 

6. I ♥ exotic food: Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Seafood, and pretty much everything. I'm pretty adventurous with food! Can you tell? *winks* 

7.  I am a hopeless romantic. 

8. I LOVE zombies.

9. Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love feeling dried fallen leaves crunching under my feet. I love the crispy air with warm sunshine. I pull out my fall recipes. I think fall fashion is the best. It signals the beginning of holidays yet to come!

10. I dislike intentional ignorance, smells that are off-putting, procrastination, people who are habitually tardy, people who self-justify their bad actions, liars, certain food textures, and being stifled.

Found via Google
Now my favorite part....nominating folks' blogs! Feel free to check out their blogs, really, go ahead and check them out!

1. Enjoying the Small Things: This woman, Kelly Hampton, is a photographer and a wonderful mama to two beautiful little girls. Kelly's blog is beautifully written about her life, advocating and educating about Down's Syndrome, enjoying life as it is, and sharing sweet pictures on her posts. It's a perfect balance of everything! I've been hooked to her blog since day one when I discovered her. A great read!

2. The Art of Making a Baby: I absolutely love this blog! It is about motherhood, fashion, exercise, and what-have-you. She also has beautiful pictures of her little chub baby girl, and of life in general. I really appreciate her honesty, creativity, and free-spirited reading! 

3. A belly for Me & A Baby for You: This blog is being run by two bloggers; a surrogate mom named Tiffany, and an intended mom named Natalie. Tiffany is carrying twins for her sister-in-law, Natalie, and it is an amazing journey for them both. 

4. Surviving a Surprise Parenthood: I think this blog is really a funny read. The blogger has had a surprise pregnancy and ended up having a baby girl. I love her honesty, sarcasm, and bluntness about motherhood. It's not always rainbow and unicorns to be a mama! 

5. Little Baby Garvin: It's a stinking cute read! I found her through Pinterest (gotta love that site even though I'm rarely on it these days due to my little guy keeping me busy) and she was documenting her pregnancy. It is where I got my idea from! Anyway, this woman is a young mom of a sweet little girl, Harper, and she enjoys writing and posting pictures of Harper. Also, she talks a lot about motherhood and life. It's a cute read. You'll like it!

6. Pretty Little Mommy Things: This blogger, Michelle, is a mom of a little boy and just had a beautiful baby girl named Olivia. Michelle is a photographer so she uses a lot of pictures on her blog which I really like. She recently threw an angry bird birthday party for her son and it was so creative!!! Love it! 

7. A Pseudonym's Point of View:  The last, but not the least! L.A. Aiken is an awesome budding writer. She enjoys writing poetry and fashion. I love her deep thoughts, unique perspective, and willingness to write about raw emotions. Love it!

If I don't nominate your blog then do not fear because I definitely love and enjoy reading your blog! You're more likely to be next on the list to be nominated for future features! I'm always on the quest for finding awesome bloggers to follow! 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Why Do I Not Speak?

I was recently asked why I did not speak. I thought long and hard about this answer because the question threw me off guard. It was something I never really thought about even while blogging about Deaf issues. Not speaking just came naturally to me, and I figured it came naturally to others as well. I knew that many hearing people made an assumption that Deaf people did not speak. Therefore, this was where the idea of Deaf and Dumb came from. Dumb as in being mute, not dumb as in stupidity dumb. 

By the way, Deaf and Dumb concept is way outdated, and flawed. Not only it is outdated, it is also stereotypical because it encourages the idea that Deaf people are not intelligent since not many people understand the true meaning of dumb as in silent, mute, and soundless. So please do not use this in any context ever.

The assumption that Deaf people do not speak is also flawed. There are many Deaf people that does speak. Some can speak pretty well. Some do not speak well even though they try. Then there is a category that I fall in; choosing not to learn how to speak, forfeiting speech therapy, and using strictly ASL to communicate. 

For as long as I can remember, I never really expressed much interest in using my voice to make sounds, and to speak. Signing came to me very naturally. My whole family signed. It was normal and acceptable in my house to sign. It was not perceived as strange or wrong that everybody signed with me. My siblings grew up signing, and it was their second language.There was no pressure from my parents to encourage me speak. The only memory I have of my parents getting excited over me speaking was when I learned how to speak I love you. Even so, my parents still did not put a huge instance on me saying I love you, and never asked me to say it unless if I wanted to. 

However, with my siblings  it was a different story. I felt comfortable to be completely myself. To be unrestrained. To not feel conscious. I knew they were not going to judge me. There was no pressure. I screamed 'Ah' or 'hey' when I wanted attention from my brothers or sister (I refer my cousins as my brother/sister since I am very close to them). They did the same when they wanted my attention (and they still do sometime!).  They viewed this as a part of who I was and saw no differently about me. I was still Ashley. I was still their big sister. In no way, my voice or making sounds made me any less than who I was to them. 

Aside from my siblings, I never felt right to use my voice and to speak. I felt put on the spot and pressured to say a single word. I never understood why speaking was put on a high pedestal for Deaf people. I got rewarded for saying one or two words in my speech therapy sessions yet I was not rewarded for knowing hundreds and hundreds signs?  I hated the fact that I had to get pronunciations and inflections right especially if I was unable to hear them. I hated having my hand plastered on my throat, practicing letter shapes on my lips,  and putting my tongue in a right spot to say a single sound. My throat often got sore after attempting to make a weak single sound. I disliked bribery that my speech teacher gave to me in order to speak. I hated the most not being able to use my hands. More often than not, I've had my hands slapped or restrained. Signing was not allowed. Only speaking was. Mind you, that was back in early nineties. The laws have changed since. 

Along with my brief stint with speech therapy, I was teased by my peers for not sounding normal, and not understanding what was coming out of my mouth. I was reprimanded by my mom if I squealed, or made any sounds especially in the public. Now, don't blame my mom; she wanted me to be less of a target, and tried to teach me to avoid from being picked on. She only tried with what she knew. Nonetheless, I grew self-conscious of my own voice and any sounds I was making. 

As I grew older, I cringed when I heard Deaf people scream, squeal, squeak, or snort. I bit my tongue and resisted from telling them that they should not make sounds. After all, they often did that without any restraint or self-consciousness. In a way, I envied them for being confident and not caring if they sounded strange. They were okay with that. Only I was not okay with this. 

My hearing friends often became surprised when they heard me laugh. It was often the only sound that they heard coming out of my mouth. I often got compliments for having a cute laughter. Later I learned that it was because my laughter was genuine. If it was worth laughing about, then I laughed. If it was not worth laughing about then I did not laugh. I never developed a fake laugh or forced laugh because even that felt unnatural to me. My hearing friends liked the authenticity in my laughter. I was always very careful not to let any other sound slip. 

It was not until I met Stu when he started asking me why I felt so unsure about using my voice. For the first three years of our relationship, I did not utter a single sound besides from laughing, and making an exclaim of surprise when Stu startled me or an exclaim of pain when I stubbed my toe on the ground. He assured me that I had no reason to be uncomfortable around him to use my voice even though I did not speak. Still so, I still did not use my voice. 

It was not until I went to Gallaudet for graduate school and gained confidence about my Deaf identity. I realized that I had no reason to really care about what others thought of me. If I made someone feel uncomfortable then it was that person's problem not mine. I came back and Stu noticed that I was less conscious if a sound or two slipped out of my mouth. It was just no longer a big deal to me. 

Still to this day, I still feel no need to learn how to speak. Signing is my language. It is what feels natural to me. Speaking does not. I don't need to learn how to talk in order to be me. I do find ways to communicate such as writing on a piece of a paper or having a sign language interpreter to facilitate communication or use instant messenger to talk with my hearing friends. I don't need to talk to establish and maintain relationships. I am perfectly okay with not ever wanting to learn how to speak and use sign language instead. Along with this, I am also comfortable with supplying my signs with sounds, and no longer feel self-conscious about it. 

My hearing friends shrug it off and find this to be no big deal. They like it when I respond with using sounds to accompany my signs. They do not view me any differently and never have. So why start now? I wish I had known this all along. Some lessons are meant to be learned late when time is right, I suppose. 

I scream at my dog and cats when they drive me crazy. I grunt when I shrug my shoulders. I say hmmmm  to prompt while my friend is venting about a bad situation. I clear my throat when someone is in my way at a store. I laugh loudly at a funny commercial. I smack my lips when I am eating something delicious. I gasp when there is something dramatic going on. 

I am okay with making noises. I do not care what others think. I like eliciting a smile from my son when I blubber, blow raspberry, grunt or gasp. My son coos and widens his eyes while shaking his fists. He certainly does not care what I sound like. 

Stu jokingly once said to my family, "Geez, I used to want Ashley to feel comfortable to use her voice around me. Now she will never shut up." He winked at me with a smile on his face.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Lesson I Learned From Being a Mommy

Recently, I read this really wonderful article: Moms Being Photographed With Their Kids. It was a good reminder to have especially so early within my journey into Motherhood. 

Before having Forrest, I admit that I was somewhat superficial with how I had looked. It was not entirely about vanity. Because of my Deafness, the first impression that many people have of me was my appearance because I did not speak and use my voice to communicate. Therefore, my looks somewhat communicated what I was all about upon the first impression. Also, I had a standard of how people should dress and carry themselves. It was about self-respect and how you felt about yourself. I cringed when I saw a teenager boy walking with his pants half way hanging off his butt and exposing his boxers. Or when a woman, way past age-appropriate limit, wearing a short skirt and skin-hugging shirts.  

I liked to leave the house with make-up and my hair looking decent. I was not the type to spend hours in front of the mirror to touch up my make-up and hair. However, I did at least put on foundation or mascara before I left the house. During my pregnancy, this attitude had not changed. I loved wearing clothes that showed off my bump, and took advantage of my pregnancy glow. I tried on 2-3 different outfits before going out to determine which accented my bump the best. I worried about excessive weight gain, and stretch marks. I was very careful with keeping myself hydrated, not to itch, and plastered myself in lotions. I worked out, and gained accordingly exactly my doctor had asked from me. Post-pregnancy body image worried me. I was afraid it was going to be difficult to shed my pregnancy weight, and how my body was going to change. 

A part of this was contributed by my personality Type A. I was very much so perfectionist, organized, anal, and on top of everything. Appearance was among one of things that I worried and probably cared a bit too much about. People jokingly have said to me that I was probably going to end up as a helicopter mom once Forrest was born. 

After having Forrest, a switch was flipped off, and I no longer cared about how I had looked--not as in giving up taking care of my appearance, but in how I used to obsess over my appearance. I have caught myself on a few occasions leaving the house in my bum clothes, hair still messy and probably uncombed at times, and bare-skinned face. I spent the first six weeks bonding with my son instead of being overly worried about how my body had looked. Sure, I was not crazy about how I had looked, and it was a bit of adjustment. I took my focus off myself and on my son instead. 

People did take pictures of me during those first six weeks. I was still recovering from giving birth. I did not return to my pre-pregnancy body right away. I was not crazy about those pictures. Nonetheless, I reminded myself that I wanted to enjoy this time with my son, and just to take those pictures out of my mind. 

Looking back, I am glad that people did take pictures of us because I really do enjoy seeing the moments I had with Forrest. 

While my body has slimmed down pretty much, I see that I still have this weird dark vertical line on my belly that won't vanish away, and I am pretty sure that it is permanent. My stomach is no longer toned even though it is flat. My boobs have quadrupled in the size. Because of this, I can't fit in some of my pre-pregnancy shirts. I find that I lean toward wearing comfortable clothes over fashion. I am pretty sure that my hips have changed from a slight pelvis separation. I have Kim Kardashian butt. You know what? I don't care. 

My son is here. He smiles at me. His eyes focus on me when I am holding him. His sight follow me as I slowly depart out of his sight. His fingers gently grasps at my hair strands while I am nursing him. His chubby fingers curls on mine. He stops crying and coos when I hold him. He squints his eyes and grins when I blow raspberries on his Buddha belly. 

After reading this article, I realize that one day, Forrest will be asking to see the pictures from when he was an infant with his parents. He won't see me with my still-shrinking belly in those first few weeks. 

Over the years yet to come, Forrest won't see how tired I look without my make-up. He won't care that my hair is messy, or if I am wearing leading brand-name clothes. He certainly doesn't care about all this trivial stuff. All he will see is his mommy and his daddy. 

Forrest has definitely taught me that looks isn't everything. Love is. And this article has reinforced my belief. 

I used to kind of cringe at this picture because I looked so...well, tired, and frumpy! All I saw was my messed-up hair. My husband loved this picture so much that he uploaded almost same one to be his profile picture on Facebook. I had to bit my tongue from asking him to remove the picture and replace it with a nicer picture (meaning me with make up and combed hair with Forrest).

But now, I just smile and am thankful that someone did take a picture of me with Forrest on that first night.