Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Having no interpreter is an Inconvenience Especially in Life of a Deaf Mommy

Being Deaf does stir up some excitement in my life. Life is definitely not ordinary. A simple thing can become a big deal or dramatic in my life. Most of the time, I just have to roll with punches, and suck it up because things like this can be inevitable. Fortunately, I am pretty good at adapting, and plucking out tools out of my belt to quickly assess the situation before shit hits the fan. This is one of those moments when I am grateful for knowing how to write and read English well. It is also one of those moments where I feel injustice and oppression which infuriates me beyond words.

You see, my son, Forrest, had a skin condition. I was pretty sure he had Eczema. It was no big deal. I've had Psoriasis, albeit very mild case of it, all of my life, and I did anticipate some kind of skin issue to crop up with Forrest...and it did. It was no big deal. I used Aveedo Eczema therapy for babies, and it had been miraculous. Worked like a charm. However, due to Forrest's excessive drooling, he had developed red, cracked and bleeding sores on his neck. I wanted it to be looked at by our pediatrician, Dr. J, and treat it immediately to avoid an infection. I called Dr. J's office and learned that he was really booked for next few days in the week. The only opening he had was on the following day in the morning at 9 am. 

I debated briefly whether I should sign up for 9 am appointment or find other opening in next few days--if there was any or wait until next week. My guy was not feeling well. He was fussy, and crying quite often. He didn't want me to touch his neck. It was smelly. No way I was going to wait. What I resented in this very moment was that I HAD TO think about it. 

You see, as a Deaf mom, I demand to have a sign language interpreter to have a full access to communication for situations like this. I want to be able to fully understand, and obtain right information. Most doctors view Deafness as a medical condition rather than a cultural thing. It's just a part of their medical training, and a part of ignorance as well. Many doctors, in the past, expect me to be able to fully read lips without complications, wear some hearing aids, and be able to keep up with information. Many times, when I am faced without an interpreter; a doctor will just look at me with an expression of if not securing an interpreter was my problem...and talk without bothering to write down. I have asked them to write down the information for me. Nope. They continue to talk, and brush off my request. They don't have time to write. They feel I am an inconvenience to them because I chose not to speak, or attempt to read lips without asking for any clarification. Sure, try read lips and catch all fancy medical terms. Whatever.

Because of my experiences like this in the past, I often schedule my appointments in advance, between 48-72 hours, to secure an interpreter. Even so, I still show up to the appointments, wondering will I have an interpreter or not, and most of the time, I do have an interpreter. Sometimes, I don't. 

Anyway, my son was not feeling well. No way, I was going to wait 48-72 hours or next week to have him looked at. What if it gets worse? The receptionist on the phone put me on a hold while she called an interpreting agency. I fretted for a moment. She returned to me, and told me there was an interpreter. Great. Whew. Glad it worked out. 

I arrived the next morning with a fussy boy in my arms. Poor guy wanted to snuggle and browse his face into my neck. I savored that closeness for a minute, breathing in his fresh baby scent on top of his head, and approached the receptionist. I was running 5 minutes, okay. I tried to be on time. A long train caused me to be late. Oh well. That happened. I scanned the waiting room for a professional looking person. Nobody. I internally rolled my eyes. No interpreter? I asked the receptionist. She glared at me, and told me to go in immediately. I asked her where is an interpreter. She shrugged and shook her head. I glared at her, and said thanks. 

I entered the small patient room with a sweet nurse. I liked her. She had 3 boys. So she was very comfortable with handling Forrest. I began to write that I was sorry for not having an interpreter. Then it occurred to me. Why should I apologize? It was not my job to secure an interpreter. I did my part; I had requested for an interpreter, and it was the office's responsibility to obtain an interpreter. The nurse saw what I had began to scribble down on a piece of scrap paper. She smiled and replied, Oh that's quite alright. I bet you can't wait until Forrest gets a bit older and sign well so he can interpret for you?

I smiled graciously as possible and bit my tongue. I could have corrected her, but I didn't have time with a poor sick baby in my arms. 

Pet Peeve #1,570: Yes I do have many pet peeves. I do not find it appropriate to rely on a child to interpret for an adult conversation. Foreign speaking or Deaf parents have a right to get full access to communication, and should not rely on their children to interpret for them. It's the office's job to obtain, and pay for an interpreter. To assume that a family member should interpret for a Deaf or foreign speaking person is way, way flawed. I've had family members, bless their hearts, to try interpret for me in the past, and guess what? I hated it. 

Using family members are bad because they have A) withheld information maybe because they don't understand or feel you don't need to know, B) skipped out on information because the person is speaking way too fast, and they don't have sufficient language knowledge to fully interpret everything--face it, interpreting is A HARD JOB--even harder if this Deaf person is very heavily fluent in ASL and has limited understanding of English, C) face it, it's not cool to have a parent, or family member interpreting for you when you are 20-something and you are perfectly capable of handling it on your own, and D) it enables other people to view you as a lesser than an intelligent person. 

Besides, interpreters are here for a reason. Never will I use Forrest as my personal interpreter. It's just really tacky. It's not his job to take care of me. It IS MY job to take care of him.

The nurse informed me that Dr. J was going to be in a minute. I nodded my head. A minute melted into 5 minutes....ten minutes....fifteen minutes...and finally thirty minutes later, he showed up. The whole time I was bouncing a crying and hungry baby. I was not sure if I can sit down and feed Forrest because hello, I had no interpreter to notify me if someone was at the door asking if we were presentable. How lovely. I decided to give Dr. J a benefit of doubt; maybe it was not because I had no interpreter, but because he was busy. That happened. 

Dr. J arrived. I was a bit nervous. What if he was one of those doctors that insisted on talking instead of writing? Fortunately, my anxiety faded away when he pulled out a paper and smiled then started scribbling as fast as he could. I mentally sighed to myself. Of course, he was in a big hurry due to his schedule. That meant no time for me to write down the questions I wanted to ask him. If there was an interpreter present, all this writing back and forth in time constraint would have summarized in 2 minutes conversation instead of five to ten minutes of writing. Thankfully, Dr. J was a good sport about the whole situation. I appreciated that--it made my life easier. 

Unfortunately, he didn't inform me what kind of OTC medicine I can use for Forrest during our mad scribbling conversation. Fortunately, I had plenty of help from mommies out there to help me find a right medicine for Forrest's neck. 

Now, if this is just for me at my personal appointment, then I would not have cared as much about not having an interpreter. I have tools to fall back on. I can write well. I can understand English well. I roll with punches without really worrying about it. 

But when it comes to my child...that's a different story. I will morph into a mama bear. I do feel I am entitled to have full access to communication without relying on my child to interpret for me. To have that expectation that my kid is going to grow up to be my interpreter is what pisses me off the most. Again, that's not his job to take care of me. It is my job to take care of him. 

Some people look at this and tell me that it is not a big deal. 

Yes it is a very big deal. And yes, you do have to be Deaf to understand. 

This does not mean that, if you are not Deaf or have some kind of hearing loss, you can't empathize or understand this to an extent because I know you can relate on that very basic level of dealing with hassles. I do thank you for your empathy and support. It means a lot to me. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Was Good To Us

It is funny. Pre-Baby; I was able to pack a few things, and take at least 1-2 bags with me when I traveled anywhere. Post-Baby......well, let the picture speak for itself: 

You see, I had to pack everything in case if Forrest needed something, and then on top of that, we also had to pack for Layla, our dog, since she always traveled with us. We had no need to board or leave Layla with a dog-sitter when we visited our family, both sides, and Layla was probably spoiled rotten because of this. 

Yep, that's the basset hound thing........

So...Forrest, the dog, and then us. After visiting our family; we had a tendency to accumulate a few more things to our already mounding pile of things. I mean, hello; we just took a brand-new Jumperoo sauce thing for Forrest from our aunt, Ro (thank you by the way). I was surprised we managed to fit everything in my Jeep Liberty SUV. 

If we are planning for baby #2, then we definitely will need a bigger vehicle if we are already packing like this for just one baby! 

Please tell me that I am NOT the only one this happens to! Crazy how packing can get significantly bigger when you have a kid or two. 

Over Thanksgiving break, Mom treated me to a haircut, and new style. It was really sweet of Mom to put it on her tab like this. I guess no matter how old you are, you'll always be your Mom's kid, and she will want to spoil you once in while. Ha ha. Thanks Mom. Because of this, I got a new bangs along with some light layering. I felt like a new woman! And this meant....more fun hair accessories to shop and buy or make, thanks to Pinterest, for myself..well, after the holidays. ;-) 

Aunt Ro and I went shopping the other day for a Jumperoo. I wanted that for Christmas since Forrest exhibited a lot of interest in standing and bouncing. Aunt Ro found one for an awesome deal--she found one for $70 at Target (gotta love that store) when it was $90 over at BRU (Baby R Us). Sweet. On top of this, we also found bunch of adorable outfits for Forrest. Pictured above was one of my favorite outfits for Forrest. Personally, I liked stripes, and anything that wasn't either monkey or jungle-based theme creatures. So sick of that, really--boys needed cute outfits as much as girls did, right! 

Forrest was able to hold his neck up for a long period of time which he proudly showed off over Thanksgiving vacation. He cooed, giggled, and burped as he sat on laps of our family members. We all were oohing and ahhing over his ability to sit up with very little assistance since he was able to hold his neck up by himself. He really liked the attention, and hammed it up at every chance he got! What a flirt that he was. 

Thanksgiving was really wonderful. We had a really yummy lunch with Mom and Aunt Ro and my siblings.  We watched Dog Show. Call me a geek, but I really liked watching that stuff! My personal favorite was seeing a large Standard Poodle all poofed up with her haircut. I would totally love to own a poodle just for the purpose of me grooming her/him in the design haircuts...but Stu says no. What a pooper. *winks* Aunt Ro even had a chance to Face-Time via Skype with Lauren and Joey. So they were able to participate a bit in the holiday with us, see us, and say hello. Isn't technology amazing? 

Then we headed over to Dad's. Boy, Jess, Dad's fiancee, and her sisters made a delicious feast of food! There must have been at least 3 different meat dishes (Turkey, Ham, & Pork Brisket). There was stuffing, potatoes, corn bread, veggies, and bunch of delicious side dishes. On top of this, there was at least 8-9 different pies! O-M-G. It was a perfect reverence to National Glutton Day. Big Props and thank you to Jess's family for creating amazing feast. We were more than stuffed when we left. 

It was really great to see Dad recovering from his knee surgery. His knee looked SO MUCH better since the swelling and bruising went away. I bet in no time flat, he was going to be up tap-dancing before he knew it. The company was wonderful at Dad's house especially the kids. 

Holidays just don't feel right without kids around for sure. 

Stu and I went shopping for each other. We agreed that we were going to just buy one gift each one of us since we both wanted big purchase items. 

He got me the gift I've been eyeing...a Nook HD! So excited about that!! I ultimately decided to go with Nook instead of Kindle Fire HD because I felt that Nook had a better focus on books. Kindle was more geared for everything especially all those games and Apps (Stu really loves his Kindle for this exact reason). I also liked how Nook had voice-based books for Forrest! Good for his speech and hearing development. Anyway....can't really wait to start using this! Even though I got this....I still planned on buying paperback books...can't give that up too. 

I got Stu a really nice Sony Camcorder. I was even more excited about his gift because I finally got something he secretly wanted, but would not admit, and something he was actually going to use for his classroom. Stu recently learned how to become more technology-orientated at a conference he attended, and he really wanted to be able to incorporate that learning into his classroom. Of course, he held out for the longest time by saying he did not want anything. Now, that man was notoriously hard to shop for because he was not really a materialistic type of person, and didn't see a real need for things. Oh, I loved and hated that about him! Ha Ha Ha. Finally, Stu admitted that he really wanted a camcorder, but did not feel right to ask for it since it came with hefty price tag.

Well, what that man did not know was that I did accumulate more than enough of moola from grooming on the side before I got pregnant, and wanted to use some of that money to get Stu something nice. Well, this was a chance for me to do exactly that. So I bought him a Sony HD camcorder. 

That reminds me...I have to go back to Target and purchase warranty for the camcorder.

The warranty and camcorders were all out due to Black Friday...fortunately, I managed to snag the VERY LAST one for Stu, but they did not have warranty cards. I was told to bring receipt with me to Target, when I returned home, and purchase a warranty protection coverage card there. Okay....a bit of hassle, but no big deal too. 

I'm quite excited for Stu to receive his gift because he will really like it. 

Well, Thanksgiving was good to us this year. 

Now, Christmas, bring it on! By the way, Hallmark Christmas movie channel has been playing non-stop since we got back! I plan on decking out our house this week during Forrest's naps. The only thing that is Christmassy around here is our little Charlie Brown 4-foot tree. It does not look like 4-foot to me, but that's what the box claims how tall the tree is....*shrugs* It's cute either way. 


Friday, November 23, 2012

Amen, Brother

Just checking in to say......

Hope Y'all thanksgiving was thankful and wonderful. 

The best thing about post-Thanksgiving? 


Amen, brother. 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

3 Months Old

Dear Forrest, 

You are 3 months old today. A lot has been accomplished in a month. You are beginning to hold your head up for an extended period of time, and standing on your shaky legs with help from Daddy. It is a game that you enjoy playing with Daddy. You would stretch and pump your legs furiously at Daddy's stomach until he secures your mid-trunk with his hands, then with help from Daddy you push up on your legs, and stand. Your whole body wobbles as you do this yet you smile and vocalize loudly. You can easily do this for good five to ten minutes until either you or Daddy gets tired of this game. You continue to practice tummy time, and you're able to lift your head higher and higher. You push on your little forearms and proudly expose your chest. You are able to grasp at things hanging above you especially your mama's hair. You grin and ahhh when you are able to pull your mama's hair. Your mama bears this just for you because it is so much fun to bring you joy. 

You are able to follow, with your eyes, your Mama and Daddy as they move around in your vision range field. You enjoy making sounds such as guttural ahhhing or ooohing like a bird, and squealing when you are upset.

You still haven't rolled over yet. It is okay. Your parents are not rushing you to achieve that milestone. When you are ready then you will roll over. 

You met your Aunt Lauren and Uncle Joey. You were absolutely a ham! You continued to be a great traveler in the car. No longer you need to stop halfway to be fed. You dozed during the 2-hour trip, and was happy with being fed when both you and Mama arrived at the destination.

 You are also a good shopper. You are content in your car seat or in the Moby Wrap while your Mama shops. You never make a peep. You enjoy looking around at your surroundings until you conk out. Rarely do you cry during the shopping trips. 

Mama weighed you, and you surprised her by being in 13-14 pounds range already! 

Your mama is still exclusively breastfeeding you, and you sure love the boob milk! You no longer need to be fed every hour or so. You get hungry every 2-3 hours. Breastfeeding is much easier for both you and Mama. The only predicament she has with breastfeeding now is dealing with longer stretches of not feeding you at the night. Other than that, Mama is beginning to feel confident and pretty good about dealing with issues that may crop up with breastfeeding. Clogged ducts still occur sometime, but it's nowhere as bad as it used to be. So your mama can't complain, really. 

Daddy tells you all of the time how big and tough you are getting to be! Your parents are happy with how you are growing. You still spit up occasionally. There has been both good and bad days with you spitting up. Mama has discovered that spicy food upsets your stomach so she has been careful with eating spicy food these days. 

 You now have graduated to size 2 instead of one in diapers. Mama was able to tell that size one was getting too small for you due to your frequent blow-outs and peeing through the diapers. There was a day when your poop exploded onto your shirts. She ended up giving up putting you in clothes and kept you in the diapers while wrapped in a blanket. There was an adventure when you had a blow-out and your Mama had to improvise by giving you a bath with wipes. Thankfully, she had a change of clothes for you to wear! The crisis was quickly resolved, and you went to watch your daddy's last football game. Once Mama was able to use up all the diapers in size one, you started wearing size 2, and sure enough, the blow-outs stopped! 

You are still co-sleeping with your parents, and you're finally getting into a routine. On most of nights, you go to bed between 9-10 pm, then wake up at 1-2 am to be nursed, and go back to sleep until 4:30 am. There has been some nights when you do sleep from 10 until 4:30-5:00 am, but they are far and few in the between. You are ready to wake up between 6 to 6:30 am. You play on your playmat while your mom drinks coffee and catch up with Facebook for the day. After that, you eat and go on errands with your Mama. You nap 2-3 times a day. Two of those naps are short about an hour and the last nap tends to be 3 hours long which is nice because it gives Mama time to do her projects, blog, clean, and prep in advance for dinner. You stay awake for 4 hours afterward, and when Daddy gets home, that is your playtime with him. Daddy and Mama eats dinner after your nursing session. You get bathed on the third evening of every week. At 8 pm, things finally winds down, you cuddle with either Mama or Daddy, and nurse for last time before your bedtime. You are put down in your little bouncer with a music going on in the background. Lights are turned off so you get to rest and fall sleep. That's your regular schedule. 

Edited to add: You've been sleeping longer and longer for the past few nights, yay! Despite this, you still take a super long nap during the day along with 2 or 3 shorter naps.  

There was a hiccup in your routine a few weeks ago. Instead of waking at your regular intervals, you woke up 4-6 times to be fed, and did not want to snooze right away. You napped very briefly and fitfully during the days. Mama was not sure what was going on with you then suddenly; you swung back into your routine and continued with life as if nothing had happened. Mama banked it on your growth spurt! You definitely did feel heavier after that crazy period.

You get to be bathed every 3 days. In the beginning, Mama used to bath you every other day, and she  has noticed that it caused your skin to dry out. Your cradle cap got worse instead of better. You developed dry scaly patches on your body despite having lotions put on your little chub body quite often. Mama decided that every other day was not working out for you especially with winter coming on. She ended up giving you baths every 2 days, and it was much better for your skin. Your skin got soft once again, and the cradle cap improved. 

Edited to add: Your skin got better, yet in recent days; your skin started to be dry again. Boo. Your mama may have to call Dr. Johnson to have you looked at! 

You enjoy your baths for the most part. You coo and squeal. You prefer your water slightly warmer than lukewarm. If the water is too cool for you then you cry in protest. So Mama tries to remember this every time she draws a bath for you! She can't wait for you to start using grown-up tub and play with water toys! 

You are starting to put your hands into your mouth. Your mama isn't sure why you are finding this so much fun to suck on your hands and on your blankets. Nonetheless, it is pretty adorable when you do this! Your parents are looking at getting you some awesome gifts for Christmas. Matter of the fact, just the other day, Mama and Daddy talked about all the things they will play with you; log cabin, lego blocks, board games, and car race tracks. 

It has been so much fun to see your little personality starting to come out. We look forward to what Month 3 will bring to us!

Mama & Daddy

Thursday, November 15, 2012

It's Not About the Getting, But the Giving

I have to bring back some kind of security when it comes to leaving comments to my blog posts. For some reason, I have been getting a lot of anonymous scam comments that are being left to my posts, and it has been getting on my nerves. It is irritating to be spammed with ads instead of actual thoughtful comments yet at the same time, I really despite security code that you have to type in before you leave a comment. I can't even read the words and letters half of the time, and have to re-type the security password repeatedly before my comment gets published. I will have to think about either bringing back this terrible security access or approving comments before they are published. 

I am thinking about making yet another transition, but have not made any official decision. For about a year now, I've been toying with an idea of creating my own URL website rather than using a host blogger to blog. The only catch is that I'll have to pay a small fee every year to keep up with the website. I'm the type of person who needs to research the options before making a decision. For those who have a personalized website URL, share your thoughts, please! 

I am quite excited because I'm done Christmas shopping for my side of family. My goal of the year to shop a month early has been accomplished. Let's see if I can keep this up in the future. I also have a really cute idea for Forrest's 4 months old pictures. I am planning on using a Santa hat on Forrest with a red necktie. That's all I will be saying for now! I don't want to reveal too much and spoil the surprise. It is hard to believe that Forrest is going to be 3 months week already! Stay posted for 3-months update post with some cute pictures yet to come! 

Currently, I'm playing a Christmas baby songs on a CD for Forrest. I may not be able to enjoy Christmas music, but I can't see why Forrest can't enjoy the music! He has been gummy-grinning and shaking at the music. Always count on some music to keep my guy happy. He's my little musician.

I'm so in Christmas mood. Traditionally, I always shy away from Christmas stuff until after Thanksgiving. I've always felt Thanksgiving got overshadowed by Christmas. Well, ever since Forrest was born; I find that I am really eager for Christmas to arrive, and to celebrate our traditions with him.
(Going totally to make something like this)
Growing up, I've always loved little traditions that we celebrated every December. I loved the little count-down until Christmas board. You know, those little flaps that you can slowly open and eat a piece of candy from inside. I really want to make DIY countdown calendar that we can use year after year for our kid(s). Seriously, it's one of my best memories while I was growing up. 

Every year, I loved it when Mom and Aunt Ro brought a bunch of boxes upstairs from the basement, and opened the boxes to reveal Christmas decorations. We easily spent about 2 hours decorating the house for the holiday. 

Then Mom, Alex, and I used to go up north with Steve (at that time, Mom's boyfriend and now our step-dad) and chopped down a bunch of pine trees to bring back home. It was so much fun getting up at 5 am, dressing up in long-johns and in the layers to stay warm, stopping at McDonald's for breakfast on the way during our 4-hour trip up north, and running around on a tree farm while our step-dad chopped down trees. Bringing back our personal Christmas tree home was the best part. Then my aunt had boxes of Christmas lights and ornaments ready for us to decorate. After decorating the tree, we all sat back in a soft glow from the lights and take in the pleasure of having this task being done after a long day. I loved the smell of the pine tree for that whole month. 

Our previous fake Christmas tree that Missy had destroyed completely
I really look forward to doing this with Forrest and seeing his little face lighten up at all the Christmas decorations. Until then, I must be content doing this by myself which is something I honestly do not mind because I just love interior decorating. I can't wait until we get a Christmas tree. This year, we are considering about buying a small fake plastic tree because of few reasons; A) we have cats and one of them have successfully destroyed every fake tree we had. The only thing that almost kept her off was a real pine tree, &  B) Unfortunately, we don't have enough space for a real tree this year seeing that we have tons of stuff laying around and our place is just too small. When we get a house; we definitely will start the tradition of getting a real pine tree! In the meanwhile, a small fake tree will do just fine for us. Forrest is still too young to justify buying a huge tree!

I plan on singing 12 days of Christmas with Forrest every day, but my song has a twist. It's not your traditional song. Just wait and see! You're in for a fun surprise. 

We are planning on taking Forrest to Dickens of Christmas in Ripon this year. I am absolutely excited about this. Someday, we can take him to the Botantical Gardens in Green Bay for Christmas lights (the very same place where we got married). It's about an hour drive up north, and at this time, Forrest is too young to appreciate the Gardens of Lights. Fortunately, we do have Christmas lights at our local zoo this year, and we are planning on attending that as well. 

I am ready to pull out our sockings and hang them on our shelves then fill them with small gifts on the night of December 5th. This is called St. Nick's which is Germanic tradition. On the morning of December 6th, the sockings will be filled, and to be enjoyed by little kids!! I am a bit weird, but we also got one for Layla, our dog! Ha ha. Anyway, this is so important to me to have Forrest experience St. Nick's. 

Other wonderful Christmas memory from my childhood; Mom and Aunt used to take us kids one night to drive through neighborhoods with Christmas lights and decorations, and we used to eat curly french fries  with our hot chocolate drinks from Hardee's.

Google; very pretty!!! 

This is something I really want Forrest to experience too! 

On alternating years when we visit my side of the family; I love Christmas Eve that are spent with Dad, because it somehow prolongs the festivities. Christmas never starts on December 25th for always starts on the 24th! I love it when we go over to Grandpa Jerry's to hang out, eat snacks, and chill then head over to Dad's for dinner and opening gifts. I love how Dad always have friends over and treat them like family. Sometimes, there's Christmas movie and music playing in the background. It's just so cozy and nice. 

Then there's also years that we spend Christmas with Stu's family. I hate calling them Stu's family because they are my family too! They are fun bunch of people. I love having people get together, eat yummy food, and open gifts. Funny thing is, I don't necessarily enjoy opening my own gifts, but to watch others open their gifts. The feeling in the air is so festive and lovely. I look forward creating more Christmas traditions with them. 

I can't wait for Forrest to be old enough to understand Christmas and be excited for it. I can't wait for his little pitter-patting feet at 5 am to wake us up and open the gifts. I look forward to making Christmas breakfast, and celebrating it with family. We will be sharing the story of Santa Claus. Some parents are really against this idea because it is a "lie". Well, I don't necessarily see this as a lie, but a way to incorporate a lesson about Santa Claus. It's for a whole other post that I will write in upcoming month! 


Lastly, I look forward to teaching Forrest about the gift of giving. Every year, I would really like to have him pick 2-3 toys that he no longer uses, and donate them to the needy and poor. When he's old enough, I hope to sign us up for a volunteering stint at a homeless shelter for a soup kitchen during the month of December. I believe it is very important for him and any future kids we may have to learn that we should not take things for granted, and to feel blessed with what we have AND to lend a helping hand to those who are less than fortunate. 

Christmas is not all about the "getting", but also the giving. 


Sunday, November 11, 2012

What Would Technology Look Like For Our Kids?


Back in July, when I was still pregnant; I took a walk with my husband and our dog, Layla, and we were talking about our child's pending arrival. Out of the blue, I said to my husband, "Hey do you know what is cool? One day, we will be able to tell Forrest that we lived before the internet was invented! Imagine all that stuff we will tell Forrest--how big of a tube our TV was, how big our computer monitor was, and all that!" Stu smiled and nodded his head. I continued to talk geek shop with him about technology growing smaller and smaller over the years. On top of this, what technology was going to look like when Forrest came to be our age one day? 

That conversation came up in my mind from time to time. It got me thinking about how things have changed and how great they are for Deaf people. 

Closed Caption Decoder Box

Old Caption Box Decoder

One day when I was about five or six years old; Mom came home with a box in her hands, and she walked up to the TV. She busied herself to install the strange looking box to our TV. I stood there, unsure what Mom was doing, and asked her. She told me to wait for it. I fidgeted for a few minutes. The characters on TV babbled as their mouths opened and closed, completely foreign to me, and I found myself losing interest. Mom finished pressing the buttons on the box and sat back. She told me to watch the TV screen. Suddenly, a black text with white words popped on the screen. Fascinated I cocked my eyebrow, and realized that it was relaying what the characters were saying on the TV! Mom smiled at me and nodded her head then said, now you can understand what is going on. I broke into a big smile. I was so excited to be able to watch TV and not have to ask my brother constantly what was going on during the TV show. 

Within a few years after we had our caption decoder box, we no longer needed a box to
have CC to show on the TV. 

By the time I turned 8 or 9 years old, my aunt and mom purchased a new TV that had a V-Chip inside to enable closed caption without needing a caption decoder box, and that made our lives easier. No longer did we need to replace our old CC box or install and have more wires in the mess. It was more accessible, neater, and quicker. All I had to do was press menu on the remote and turn CC on. When I went over to my hearing friends' house; it was easier for them too because all they had to was turn CC on through remote, and there was no need for a pesky CC decoder box. 


What you didn't think Deaf people had a way to talk on phone? 

I was in 4th grade when I got this new phone called TTY: Telecomunication Typewriter for the Deaf. It was awesome thing ever! I was able to call people through Relay Service. The only pitfall it came with was a huge lag time because I had to type what I wanted to say to the other person on the other line then that interpreter had to voice what I was typing to a hearing person. When a hearing person was talking, the interpreter had to type what he/she is saying and I was was able to read what he/she is saying. That process did take a while, and I was often hung up on because the hearing person was not sure if I was still "talking" or if I was done talking. Not really fun. I didn't really use this device much because of time lag, and I was not that interested in using TTY very often. 

I have the exact same phone!

It was not until I was in graduate school, around 23 years old, when I learned about videophones. It definitely made my life much easier! No more lag time. Thank goodness for that. All I had to was sign to the screen where the webcam was and the interpreter was able to translate what I had to say while I was signing to a hearing person on the other end of the phone line. Then the interpreter was able to sign at the same time while the hearing person was speaking to me. Loved it. It made the conversation smoother, and go faster. The hearing person appeared to be less frazzled by this method compared to using TTY. I didn't get hung up on as frequent as I did with TTY. Geez.

Then there's texting! Oh my gosh, that made my life even easier too. I loved being able to text and communicate with my family, my husband, and my friends.

The only thing I would really love to change is the drive through restaurants. I still can't even do that. It sucks to have to go in to order food instead of going up to the drive through by myself. It is really not the end of the world, but really, it would make my life easier as a mama. Maybe one day they will come up with a Deaf-Friendly access to order food for the drive through???

Can you imagine what the world will be like for our kids one day especially with everything getting smaller and thinner?!

I know most of you, my readers, are hearing, but what are there that you love and do not love about technology? 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How Has My Political Views Changed Since Becoming a Mom?

When I turned 18, I was apathetic about politics, and the candidates that ran for presidency. I figured no matter who I was going to vote for, the country was going to stay in the same direction, and it was not going to affect me. 

I was a freshman in a very conservative Lutheran college when my first real exposure to presidency race happened. It was fall of 2004. John Kerry ran against George W. Bush. Of course, it being a conservative college; everybody talked about how they were voting for George W. Bush, and how John Kerry was not an ideal candidate for our country. I rolled my eyes. I did not care. I was not going to exercise my right to vote. For as far as I cared, both Kerry and Bush sucked. This was based on absolutely NO research, no discussions, and no following the election coverage. I did not know whether I was a liberal or a conservative or even moderate. I did not know what I really believed in or what ticked me off or what I wanted to see to change in our country. 

I hated the ugliness that came with people voting for certain candidate. They trash-talked the opposing party. They put down the candidates. Fights erupted between friends and some went so far to deciding they were no longer friends. I thought to myself how petty all this was to let politics to get in a way of a friendship. Besides I was secure in my little world. I was just starting college, and experiencing my first taste of freedom.  I was in my own little bubble. Politics was not going to affect me. 

Of course, George W. Bush won. Big whoopie. I shrugged it off and waited for both excitement and disappointment to die down. It died down. I breathed a sigh of relief. The year went by and I decided that the school I was attending was just not for me. I felt suffocated because I was quirky and hippie compared to my much more conservative peers. I decided to transfer to a liberal arts school for the following semester. 

Over the years of George W. Bush being in office, I realized I did not like how he was running the country, and complained about it. Upon asking, I admitted that I did not vote because I did not see a point in doing so. Then someone said that I had no right to complain about how the country was being run because I did not exercise my right to vote. Therefore, I had no voice. If I really did not like how the country was being run then I should do my homework and make a sound decision then vote for the next election. I realized that what was said to me was right. I should not have complained if I had done absolutely nothing about it. 

In the next 4 years, I grew from my education, personal experiences, and exposure to issues that were ongoing in our country. I realized that I did not fit in with my conservative peers because I was not conservative with my beliefs. I felt it was important to be helping people to have an access to education, health especially women reproductive care, programs to get poor people get back on their feet, and equal human rights for everybody regardless their sexual orientation, race, ethnic, religion, disability, and age. They were very important to me especially as a Deaf young woman. 

My values continued to become more concrete when I started dating my husband and saw more of inner working that came with being a teacher. It really opened my eyes to how hard teachers and union workers had worked. I went into a mental health program and saw a high need for people, who were mentally ill and poor, to have access to treatments, medication and programs that they desperately needed. More and more of my dear friends came out, and I realized that they should experience what I had a privilege to experience all along--love without restrain, love without being punished for it, get married, and have same rights as we straight folks have. All this opened my eyes to my own family's work ethics, sexual orientation, and issues that they faced. 

I did my homework for the next election. I weighed both sides carefully, read news and followed the election coverage. I discussed and talked with both my conservative and liberal friends in order to understand more about both candidates. I already knew I wanted to vote for Democrat party, but I had to be sure of why I was voting for them. I did not want to vote blind or vote for certain candidate just because of his/her political background or that it was what everybody were doing, and I was following what they were doing. 

I ended up voting and felt good. I felt accomplished. If my candidate did not win then at least I spoke up for what I believed in. That was the most important part for have my voice heard. After election was done, I continued to remain vocal about my values and beliefs while respecting some others, who had opposing political values, because by doing so, I was also learning from them. One thing that did not change from my apathetic days was that I still dislike the ugliness that both sides portrayed, and how people harmed each other based on difference of their beliefs. To me, that was not democracy. It was oppression and rudeness right there.  

Then I became pregnant with my son. I realized that I wanted to teach my son how to vote wisely, and to do his homework before voting. I wanted him to develop that ability to stand his ground instead of blindly following what others were doing, to feel confident for who he wanted to vote for, and to be able to hear both sides without getting overly judgmental. I wanted him to be able to vote responsibly. Lastly, I wanted to leave the world a better place for Forrest. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Interpreting for Hurricane Sandy: Lydia Callis
There was a recent uproar about an interpreter, Lydia Callis, who had interpreted for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Mayor Bloomberg went on the news to discuss about the aftermath caused by Hurricane Sandy.  Hearing people were immediately fascinated by Lydia's facial expressions. 

Matter of fact, hearing people were so entertained that they had to make fun of Lydia's facial expressions and signing: Creative Phrases Conjured by Hearing People to Apply What Lydia Is Saying. Hell, even SNL (Saturday Night Live) made a spoof of the situation: SNL Spoof.

Many Deaf people, and some ASL interpreters were offended by this. How dare they (hearing people) make fun of our culture, and our language? If this was a Spanish interpreter speaking/enunciating certain words then I bet you that nobody will bat their eyelashes over this. How rude of them to be making fun of my profession. As an ASL interpreter, I am tired of this.

I do get it.

As a Deaf person, I often smile and restrain myself from physically choking a hearing person when they, intentionally being rude, made fun of signing. Or sometimes I'd smile and secretly laughing on the inside because frankly, they are making themselves a fool while mocking sign language. Do I get offended by this kind of behavior. Yes. On the other hand, I am so accustomed to this to the point that I don't throw a fit over it. Just by letting the person making fun of ASL (American Sign Language) is enough of a punishment for them because I know they are making a fool of himself/herself. So why add fuel to the fire? I tell my Deaf friends about an incident of someone making fun of ASL, then we laugh and poke fun at the hearing person. Most of the time, it's more of stupidity than malicious tendency that a hearing person has by making fun of ASL. 

When there's malicious tendencies are involved with making fun then sure, I will speak up and say something because that is crossing the line. This does not happen very often.

This blogger felt that the reaction to Lydia's interpreting was in a poor taste: Interpreters Aren't Funny. The blogger had a point. 

Interpreters are not meant to entertain or distract hearing people. Interpreters are there to act as our voice, and our ears. Our interpreters are there to relay information into ASL from a spoken English. They will use facial expressions and body language cues simply because it is how our language is structured. Just like your voice will have inflections to reflect what is felt in the moment...that's how facial expressions and body cues are like for us in our language. 

Therefore, this blogger doesn't understand what the big deal is all about. Why poke fun at our culture. Why poke fun at our language. Why do we have to blow it out of the context? 

Okay, I am with this blogger most of the time because A) Interpreters are there to do their jobs and B) Rule of the thumb: Only Deaf, HOH, Interpreters, SODA, & CODA people should make fun of Deaf people. If hearing people made fun of Deaf people, with no relations to the Deaf community, then it is often in a poor taste. 

At the same time........

To be honest, most of the time, I don't take this seriously. I admit, I do laugh and give hearing people A for being entertaining. I mean, who the hell thinks up of "yoda" for the sign "today". Creative. There is even jokes directed at Deaf people (Marlee Matlin on Seinfeld, Family Guy to name a few). I don't find that offensive. I mean, who really cares. It is just a joke. Don't take it so personal. 

Yeah I laughed at the pictures in Creative Phrases that Hearing People Came Up With post link I posted in the second paragaph. So sue me.

Then yesterday, Stu showed me the clip from SNL, that we DVR'ed, showing a clearly hearing person, pretending to be Lydia Callis and interpreting what "fake" Mayor Bloomberg was saying. I laughed. It was not "oh-you-are-being-dumb-so-I-am-laughing-at-you" laugh. It was funny. I liked the clip. I felt it was done in a good humor rather than being malicious toward Deaf culture. 

SNL Spoof

Hey, don't take life too seriously. Besides, it is in a good fun. Why not turn this into an advantage and educate people about Deaf Culture instead of criticizing them for finding this funny? I may be in the minority when it comes to an issue like this so don't assume that everybody feels the same way.

PS: If you are really curious then check out the video down below with Lydia interpreting for Bloomberg. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pulling Out All the Stops


Halloween is officially over. You know what that means to this Mama? 'Tis Christmas season! It's not quite time for me to start decorating for Christmas. It feels too early yet, however, what is not too early for me and preparing a lot of DIY (Do It Yourself) gifts. Hey, I want to enjoy Thanksgiving a bit before I pull out all Christmas decorations.

Before I go into Christmassy post, I did not do much for Halloween this year. I was (well, still am, but don't want to admit to this to myself because I despite being sick) sick. Forrest and I just watched horror movies all day long. I was thankful that Forrest was yet too young to go trick n treating because I was too pooped out to go anywhere. At the same time, I really looked forward to next year because by then Forrest was going to be old enough to be able to walk a little and go trick n treating....that caused me go into an early mode of planning for costume next year (perhaps a lion)! Christmassy post....

I have this knack of finding things, those I really want as gifts for people in our family, that are awesomely priced online. I combine coupons, promotion codes, and free shipping with my orders. I feel really awesome to get our Christmas shopping started so early this year. 

Every year in the past, I vowed to myself that I was going to get Christmas shopping started early....and failed to do so...every single year. I ended up running amok in the stores. and trying to deal with crazy crowds. I hated the crowd. I hated having to fight with my anxiety of dealing with so many people at once. It was close to hell to an introvert like me. Yet...I did last minute Christmas shopping year after year and subjected myself to torture. 

Well, not this year. Not with a baby in the tow. with an exception of a few items in the stores here and there. I can handle that. Hey, I'm not a total hermit! 

Matter of fact, yes, I have to horribly brag here, I got bunch of things on shutterfly that were originally priced at 70 dollars all way down to just...*drum rolls*...$30 dollars. Believe it or not. I continued to get things at awesome price.

On top of this, I got plenty of awesome DIY (Do It Yourself) projects for gifts. That made me so geeked up and wanting to get started on stuff!! All my thanks to Pinterest!

Speaking about DIY project....Forrest and I are off to do some today!