I Will Never Show My Kids 13 Reasons Why

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I watched 13 Reasons Why the day it launched on Netflix.

I had no idea what I was getting into. I started watching because it was spring break here and my schedule was freed up a little. I immediately text my best friend after the first episode.

 

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I normally wouldn’t watch stuff like this. I have a very low threshold for shows that have any form of sexual assault at all! I am vehemently opposed to this type of entertainment. As a self-proclaimed prude, I have no excuse or idea why I got roped into this show. 

My exact words to my friend that day were “It’s like a murder mystery with a twist” because that is how it started. Innocent enough. Each episode after that got darker with more and more vulgar language, evil malicious intent, violence, and dishonesty. A few of the episodes had warnings at the beginning and so I stopped… briefly, but then I was just too curious to see how the show ended.

So then when those horrific scenes happened I tried to fast forward (or whatever you call it in these modern times), but then I would miss important voice over information. So I would just wince and close my eyes and quite frankly I would cry.

 

Netflix offers a bonus feature that includes interviews with directors and actors from the show called “Beyond the Reasons”. It’s obvious that their intentions for filming the way they did were to raise awareness and start some dialogue about these very serious issues. They said things like:

“we weren’t shying away from the ugliness”

“[that scene] was one of the most difficult to film. We didn’t look away from the sexual assaults in the show because to do otherwise is to minimize what those characters go through.”

“The goal was to try and represent everything as authentically and as truthful as possible”

“We had a number of people ask us along the way why we had Hannah kill herself in the way we did and why we showed it. We worked very hard not to be gratuitous, but we did want it to be painful to watch because we wanted it to be very clear that there is nothing in any way worthwhile about suicide.”

Okay, hold it right there. “We did want it to be painful to watch”. I didn’t actually see all of it because I chose to look away. The problem, in my opinion, is that there is a thing called desensitization and it is very real. The more you see something the more you are okay with it. It becomes less painful. That shock factor that the show gained is now the starting point for every other show to be more cutting edge; to be MORE authentic and truthful. Where do we draw the line?

Not to mention that while these kinds of graphic depictions are detestable and painful to many of us, the same images are only fuel for those with mental health problems.

I have said it before “When a story line includes a young child being molested that horrendous act can be implied without it having to be reenacted and displayed for all to see on the big screen and the same respect should be shown to women when it comes to rape”.

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 I’ll end with this excerpt from an email that I got from my child’s school yesterday. The subject line was “Message from Superintendent on Netflix Series” 

 

… our students’ safety and well being are a top priority. We are concerned about the negative impact of a new Netflix series called 13 Reasons Why based on the book by Jay Asher. It tells the fictional story of a high school student who dies by suicide and leaves behind recordings to the people whom she blames for her dissatisfaction with life. There have been concerns about the series from suicide prevention experts about the potential risks posed by the sensationalized treatment of youth suicide.

Experts, including the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health and JED Foundation, do not recommend that vulnerable youth watch this series. While many teens and young adults are resilient and capable of differentiating between a TV drama and real life, engaging in thoughtful conversations with them about the show is vital.

There were plenty of helpful links, tips, and phone numbers included in the email as well. I appreciate the school taking a stand and addressing the issue.

In conclusion, I thought the show was a very accurate portrayal of high school and agree that we don’t need to turn a blind eye to these issues. On the other hand, I don’t think that more graphic, more realistic visual details equal more effective. My kids are too young for the show anyway, but if they weren’t I would say no. This is not the tool I would use to teach with. I’m siding with the superintendent on this one.

By | May 3rd, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Ugly House Problems

We recently purchased our second real life fixer upper. We literally found the worst house in the best neighborhood to turn into our dream home. Now all we have to do is to tear down some walls (which will inevitably be load bearing), add a fresh coat of paint, discover and/or install shiplap, put in a custom island, and call up HGTV to let them know we are ready to fill in for Chip and Joanna.

That’s the TV way. That’s the American way. But it’s not reality. Not for most people.

I am not serious about those design plans for the record. If you watch Fixer Upper you know that first paragraph is pretty much quoting the show verbatim.

I am a huge Fixer Upper fan by the way, but I also I love this blog post by Mary Carver called “Why I Don’t Want Watch Fixer Upper” . In it Mary talks about how Fixer Upper and similar HGTV programs and home renovation shows appeal to the part of her that is so unsatisfied with what she has. There is nothing wrong with these shows, but if it’s causing you to covet or be discontent why would you want to feed that? I can certainly relate.

These days there is SO much emphasis on outward appearance, whether it’s our bodies, clothes, hair, or house. Have you seen the dumpy cars with bumper stickers like this?

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Or this?

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We make jokes, apologies, or disclaimers because we are all too aware that maybe our possessions don’t measure up. I want a sticker for my house that says “We are renovating”, because I want people to know that I can see how ugly my house is before they have the chance to think it. My brother came over for the first time on Easter and said “I think I saw a house exactly like this as the “before” on Property Brothers.” That pretty much sums it up. The main bathroom is red with black accents. One of my friends hit the nail on the head when she described it as gothic. The stair railing has painted grape accents that say 1994 Olive Garden and are a far cry from farm house chic. When I say we are renovating people think of an Extreme Home Makeover approach, but that’s not the direction we are heading.

This house was move in ready when we bought it. We don’t HAVE to fix much and the aesthetics are not something that are a priority right now.

Our old house was what I called the seven year flip.

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You can see the other pictures and read all the details, including how much we profited here.

I think seven years (not for paint, but for the WHOLE project) is a realistic marker and that means that our kids will be in or somewhat near the teenage years by the time it’s done. It is crazy to even think about, but hopefully they will be less likely to destroy everything at that age.

Anyway, this isn’t even what I was going to talk about today. I wanted to talk about the big blessing we received last week and instead I became a little squeamish and ashamed to even post pictures of my family room.

This family room is so perfectly amazing for us. It has its own bathroom and kitchenette area with a refrigerator and a microwave. We went from no microwave to two! From one bathroom to three! We never even had a family room or a working fire place before.

All of this is really exciting, but instead all I could think about was the tacky faux stone that looks like giraffe print. So I felt a need to give a disclaimer. 

The fact is it’s an awesome family room. We are blessed. The kids have a blast down there building forts and playing legos.

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The icing on the cake is that J’s boss was getting rid of his old flat screen and offered it to us. When we moved to Ohio 4 years ago we still had a box TV. Then my dad bought us this little flat screen which was awesome because we had a tiny apartment and it took up less space than the box. The small screen size worked out perfect when it’s on the floor level in close proximity to the couch, but when we moved into our house and had it up on the mantel in a large room it felt really small.

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So you can imagine how elated we were to receive a free 42 inch smart TV.  Isn’t that cool?

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Little by little we’ll be incorporating our own style, but in the mean time I’m not going to look like the miserable person in the “before” photo.

By | May 2nd, 2017|Uncategorized|14 Comments

Crunchy VS Soggy

I was listening to a podcast yesterday where a couple of moms were discussing how crunchy (meaning natural) they are. They joked that in some areas they started out super crunchy and then became soggy over time. It got me thinking about areas that I am most crunchy and how in other ways I am not following holistic natural living at all. So I came up with a list of 6 ways I don’t fit the hippie mom stereotype (soggy)and 6 areas where I definitely do (crunchy).

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SOGGY

  1. Conventional toiletries

I am extremely low maintenance so I don’t use a lot of beauty products. But I can assure you the shampoo, soap, and toothpaste that I use are pretty much whatever is on sale at the grocery store and are probably chock full of chemicals. One area of great distress for a lot of women that want to use natural products is finding a deodorant that is effective, but free from aluminum and parabens. Here is a secret of mine that I have never shared before. I rarely wear deodorant. I may have stinky breath or smelly farts, or a number of other disgusting things that plague me, but I haven’t bought deodorant in years because I don’t sweat much and unless it’s a really hot day where I am doing a long bike ride in a short sleeve shirt then I generally do not get stinky.

2. Conventional cleaning products

I use regular dish soap and multi-purpose cleaner’s that contain bleach. It’s not because I am so clean because I obviously I am not, but it’s cheap and convenient. In a different stage of life I will probably go the natural route.

3. Health food stores

Again the frugal me often beats out the green me. I can’t afford all organic food and supplements.

4. Vehicles

We have a minivan and an SUV. Could be worse on gas, but definitely could be better. This is another thing that I would put in the “maybe later” category, but we need to be able to haul a trailer and a gaggle of kids so there is no Prius in the near future for us. My parents have one though and I love it!

5. Circumcision

This is a really controversial topic on natural mother forums. There are people that consider you a child abuser for circumcising. After all, it isn’t natural.

This is NOT something I am passionate about by the way, so by all means don’t circumcise your boys, but here is why we chose to. As Christians, we do not feel it’s something that is part of your salvation, but it is a symbolic part of our religion’s history. It’s been a part of my husband and my own families culture for generations and I know it’s an awkward topic, but it has never been a setback or something anyone has resented so we never felt led to change it. The history of male circumcision is really fascinating and it’s neat that in Genisis 17:12 Abraham is instructed to perform the procedure on the 8th day which is when vitamin K levels are naturally high in infants. This allows blood to coagulate and makes the procedure safer. These days they just give boys a shot of vitamin K, but it’s Pretty cool that God gave these instructions thousands of years before medicinal research would discover this truth.

We actually had a Mohel with our first son’s circumcision. It wasn’t a bris, and we aren’t Jewish, but it was still special. There was no medication involved and we were right there. It wasn’t gruesome at all and he seemed comfortable the entire day. Similar situation with our 2nd son except the midwife performed the procedure.

6. Essential Oils

This is another one for the category of “maybe later”, but we are on a really tight budget right now.

Crunchy

1. Home Birth

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I’ve had a variety of births- home, birth center, hospital, car. They were all natural though and it’s something that I really loved and wouldn’t change. You have to be pretty dadgum crunchy to consider home birth and I did it with great excitement and anticipation.

My home was hands down my favorite place to give birth. I was born at home too, so in this case the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I know it’s definitely not for everybody and if I had any unusual or high-risk birth situations I wouldn’t have been a candidate, but if it’s something you ever wondered about it’s worth researching!

2. Cloth Diapering

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Cloth diapering is close to home birth as far as being for the highly committed crunchy momma. The routine is not for the faint-hearted. I cloth diapered all four kids, except I only did with Ezie at the very beginning because then we lived in an apartment without a washer and dryer.  We recently got a front load washer and it’s trickier to get them clean. I thought about quitting, but decided to go 6 more months which will be close to when Elle will probably be out of diapers. In 6 months I will save about 120 more dollars and then can sell the diapers.

3. Breastfeeding

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Often times my frugal side goes hand in hand with my crunchy side. Such is the case with breastfeeding. There are lots of reasons to breastfeed, but I am embarrassed to admit my favorite is the fact that between all four kids I have saved roughly $6,800 by never buying formula. I know not everyone can breastfeed, but it’s been a nice experience for me and I generally wean at 2 years old. Notice I am using a cover in the photo. That gives me crunchy point deductions because a true hippie momma would nurse openly. I am not offended by it whatsoever, but unless I am at home I personally feel much more comfortable covered up!

4. Composting

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My husband and I love composting and recycling. We actually moved our compost pile with us when we moved to the new house. I geek out about composting. I also just realized I am babywearing while composting. That’s crunchy bonus points!

5. Co-sleeping

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Co-sleeping is something I definitely did not plan on with my first baby, but it happened and I had a co-sleeper next to the bed at the time. From then I preferred it and have kept each of my babies in bed with me or near me. Some of them never even used a crib and went straight to the bed. Some people love it, some people hate it, but with nightly feedings I do believe it saved my sanity on many occasions. So far each of my children have gradually tapered off waking up and crawling into our bed. In the scheme of life this little bit of extra snuggles is just a blip on the radar.

6. Delayed Vaccines

You might be a crunchy mom if you get banned from your pediatrician’s office. Yeah, they called before Elle’s 6 month appointment and told me not to come in because she hadn’t been vaccinated yet. For the record, all of my children had the DTaP by the time the next baby came and they are all caught up on vaccines before starting school, but I guess my schedule wasn’t aggressive enough for that doctor. It’s not an easy thing to decide to take a firm stance on, but I have done a lot of research including reading books, reviewing the CDC guidelines, talking to doctors and parents. So despite the irritating claims, I did not get my information from some blog quoting Jenny McCarthy. Really people!? Anyway, our new pediatrician and local health department have been wonderful.

It’s a fun little comparison. Out of the two catagories I find I identify more with the crunchy lifestyle than the conventional one. But there is no one box that any of us can fit perfectly into. I am just content being me.

By | April 24th, 2017|Uncategorized|3 Comments

Our New House

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Our new street is perfect for walks, scooters, and bike rides.

Talk about a month in the making. Sheeeesh. This has been one of the most difficult transitions we’ve ever made. But it’s worth it. As the dust settles we can see what an enormous blessing it is to be in a house with a fantastic yard, wonderful neighbors, and a lot more space for our family to grow up in.

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It’s actually a pretty miraculous story how we ended up finding the house. I asked someone from SJ’s school for a realtor referral and she recommended Carole Huhn. I contacted Carole right away and the first thing she did was set up a meeting with a loan officer. So we met with Ginger Vining and within no time we were preapproved. A week later we scheduled our first meeting to go look at houses. Carole sent me some listings and told me to pick 3 or 4 that we wanted to look at. J and I were really picky and to be honest we weren’t too keen on any of the choices. That’s okay Carole told us. Just pick some that are nearby and we’ll consider it a meet and greet. We’ll walk through and you can tell me what you do and don’t like about the houses.

We agreed to this and left the house that Saturday with zero expectations of finding a house. As it turns out, Carole learned ahead of time that one of the houses we were scheduled to see had mold in it. When Carole found out about the mold she threw in this other house at the last minute to look at instead. The house was in the back of a quiet neighborhood with lots of trees. As we walked through we immediately fell in love with the place. J wanted to put in an offer. I was shocked. We weren’t planning on buying anything this soon. This was only the second house we had seen. J was even pickier and more hesitant than I was, so I trusted his judgement. Since this house was fresh on the market we knew that if we wanted to have a chance at living there we would need to act fast.

There were a lot of negotiations back and forth between us and the seller. It was intense, but in the end we got the house for the price we wanted and we even scored an FHA loan with a good interest rate along with grant money from OHFA. It was an amazing deal.

I’m highlighting all of the highs, but we closed a month ago and believe me there have been some rock bottom lows in the midst of all of this. Buying a house is no cake walk. I do want to give a big shout out though to our realtor Carole Huhn with Comey and Shepherd and our loan officer Ginger Vining with Park National Bank. They went above and beyond to get us a good deal and would not stop until we were 100% satisfied. We took some hits in this process, but they kept fighting for us and we are extremely grateful to have had them in our corner. If you live in the Cincinnati area and are looking to buy or sell a house these are the ladies you need on your team. I will always be grateful for their guidance.

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Our family with Carole and the neighbors dog Walter who is already like one of our own.

We aren’t quite settled yet, but we are getting there. On Sunday we had our first Easter in the house.

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Read my hard boiled eggs secrets here.

 

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The fresh cut lilacs are from the tree in our front yard.

It was a lot of fun. My entire family came out and for most of them it was the first time to see our house.

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It was also Elle’s first Easter egg hunt.

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It was a wonderful gathering with beautiful weather.

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Fun for all ages.

img_9425 I really needed it.

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After 5 moves in 5 years I am so very excited, relieved, and honored to announce that we are finally in a home of our own. And it feels good to be home.

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By | April 19th, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Inspiring Moms 001: Suzanne Sorenson



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Today I am so very excited to be launching a new series called Inspiring Moms. The reason I chose that name was because in this context it fits perfectly as a verb and an adjective. I really want this to be a community of mothers that come from all kinds of diverse walks of life to inspire one another.

For our first inspiring mom I was able to interview Suzanne Sorenson from Waxahachie Texas.

I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Suzanne in person, but we connected online at the end of 2015. They had just lost their home in a tornado the day after Christmas. This would be a difficult tragedy for any family, but especially for the Sorensons whose son has Smith–Magenis Syndrome (SMS).

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I recently had the chance to talk with Suzanne and ask her about her experience both as a tornado survivor and as a mother of a son with a rare disability. Here is part of our conversation.

Messy Mom: Can you take us back to the beginning of your motherhood journey and how it all began?

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Suzanne: My husband Seth and I have been married for 16 years. We were married 3 years before starting a family.  I have a type A personality so I had a very specific plan and timeline for how our life would go and the pregnancy was right on schedule. I did all the research and preparations while I was pregnant and it was all perfect… until Colton was born prematurely.

The Doctors immediately knew something was wrong. They figured Colton had a syndrome of some kind, but genetically the tests came back normal. Although Colton had medical complications they felt like he would eventually grow out of them and be fine. But that first year there were many milestones that he was not reaching. On top of the developmental delays, he had constant ear infections and trouble eating and sleeping. Still, the experts attributed all of this to the tubes in his ears.

I didn’t even know the severity of his insomnia until I had my daughter Tanner when Colton was two. It was the midnight feedings that allowed me to discover that Colton seemed to never sleep. So I called the pediatrician to talk about all of my concerns and it was then that Colton began early intervention services.

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By the time Colton was four my mother’s intuition was telling me that clearly something was up. I started demanding answers. Finally they decided to do more genetic testing. This time the testing was more thorough and it revealed the deletion of Chromosome 17. That’s when Colton was diagnosed with Smith-Magenis Syndrome and I was so relieved, not that he had a syndrome, but to have a name. Now we could have a plan. We could do something about it. The next hurdle was finding out where he was at on the spectrum because it varies so much.

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Even though it took four-and-a-half years for Colton’s diagnosis I think that was the biggest blessing. Had I known right away that he had this it would have defined him and I would have held him back. I would have let it consume me early on. Instead I got to love him, and know him, and bond with who he is and not the label placed on him. By the time I learned of the diagnosis I was already connected with my little boy so I had no reason to worry.

Messy Mom: So what is Smith-Magenis Syndrome?

It’s a very rare genetic disorder. It affects 1 in 25,000 people and potentially more because it is believed to be severely undiagnosed. It affects many parts of the body including speech, behavior, sleep cycles, and emotions. Colton feeds off of emotions both positive and negative and his responses can be extreme. He has angry outbursts that can be damaging to himself. He’ll hit, spit, throw things, followed by sitting on the floor crying saying “I am so sorry”.

 

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Messy Mom: So can you tell me about what happened December 26, 2015?

Suzanne: Of course it was the day after Christmas, we went to the grocery store and had big plans to hang out and watch movies and the kids could play with all of their new Christmas presents. I remember it was really warm that day. It was 85 degrees, but a cold front was supposed to come in.

As we were getting ready to watch a movie our phones started blowing up with tornado warnings. We followed protocol, but at the same time we are Texans and do this all the time so it was no biggie. No one was freaking out. We got ready to put the kids in the safe area which was the bathtub with pillows and blankets. Seth was on the couch and argued that our usual safe area is not the most interior wall and suddenly decide we should switch it to the hallway. This was still all a really chill conversation by the way. So the kids were in the hall with their iPads and I was in the kitchen making sandwiches. We brought the dogs in and the electric began to flicker. So I went to be with the kids, but Seth was still watching the news.

The electric then went off again and that’s when we heard it! It sounded like a train! Seth ran into where the kids were and the kids had their hands over the heads while I covered them with my body and Seth laid over all of us. It was dark and you could hear glass breaking and furniture was blowing around. The scariest part was that you could feel the suction. All of the doors were sucked in and we literally felt like we were being lifted.

I prayed over and over PLEASE GOD PROTECT US. Then it was quiet and dark. We just had the light from the phones and iPads. No shoes. No supplies. Then Seth gets up and walks out and all I hear was him saying “Oh my gosh” over and over. He looks around outside and comes back and says “It’s all gone”.

Everyone in the neighborhood was outside at this point and you can hear them asking “Is everything okay?” “Do you have everyone?” “Do you have your babies?”  Some neighbor’s homes were completely level. For us the storm came through the back of the house and tore off that side, but our Christmas tree was still standing. But the shop, our boat, Seth’s tools, the travel trailers, everything in the back was gone and everyone else’s stuff ended up in our yard. Seth is a contractor by trade so he immediately went into builder mode to help. Everyone was helping each other. It was incredible the way the community came together.

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Messy Mom: The way you and I first became connected was through postcards for Colton. I know a lot of my readers responded with sending postcards to your temporary PO box. What part did the postcards play in all of this?

Suzanne: Colton is obsessed with mail. He would check the mail morning, noon, and night. After the tornado we moved into a rental home and the rental did not have mailboxes. So he really missed his routine of checking the mail. It was a tough time. We had to lease everything down to the sheets. Nothing was our own. No family photos or anything familiar and that was especially tough for Colton. So my sister in law started the idea of sending Colton post cards to cheer him up during this difficult season and it really took off. He got mail from Australia, Europe, England, Germany and other places. It was incredible.

Messy Mom: What advice do you have for what others can do to help in a situation like that? Maybe some of our readers have a friend or relative whose home was destroyed. What is the best response?

Suzanne: Don’t ask “What do you need me to do?” We heard “What can we do?” over and over and over? I know people meant well, but I didn’t have answers! It was all so overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do. So instead of asking. Just do it. Designate someone in charge that is family or a close friend, but is not directly impacted by the disaster and they can be the ones to delegate.

Messy Mom: Lastly, because you have so much wisdom I just want to glean as much as I possibly can, what would you say to a mother who just learned that her baby has SMS or a similar developmental disorder?

Suzanne: God doesn’t make mistakes. No matter how overwhelmed you feel and how bombarded you feel remember that God does not make mistakes. The heartache is a tangible feeling though and it’s not a disappointment, but just fear. The hardest thing is the guilt and you have to give yourself a break. You will have bad days and it doesn’t mean you are being a bad mom it means you are having a bad day.  Do not lose sight that you are the perfect match for that baby and that baby is the perfect match for you.

Messy Mom: I think that is excellent advice that could apply to any mother. I really appreciate your time because I know you are busy. This talk has blessed me and I believe your insight will be a blessing to many others. Thank you Suzanne.

By | April 10th, 2017|Uncategorized|6 Comments

Checking In

I was recently contacted by Jamie of MediumSizedFamily.com to give a little snippet of advice for her blog. The question was What tips would you have for people with large families? So I was able to contribute a little insight from my perspective and that post went live today. You’ll have to read the whole piece to see all the advice from myself and several other bloggers who have a medium to large sized family. It’s a pretty great list of resources.

If you do scroll through the post over there you’ll see that Jamie mentions that I am crazy busy with raising kids and moving. She speaks the truth. I know crazy and busy can be so cliche these days, but that sums it up for me right now. It is where I am at my friends and it is why it’s been so quiet around here.

The truth is, the whole process of moving has been rough. I am just barely keeping my nose above water. I thought last month was going to be one of the best months of my life. A milestone that I pictured myself doing a heartfelt post about, or maybe even a Facebook live video from our brand new home! We’ve been renting and living with family for the past 5 years and this was the moment we had worked so hard to get to. The pinnacle of this latest chapter where we are home owners yet again and we finally have the key to a house where we can put down some roots and raise our children in. Cutting to the chase here, we did get the house. Yay.

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There is a reason there is no exclamation mark after that “yay” though. If you know me or my writing style, I am painfully liberal with my exclamation marks. I type through emails like I am marching through a parade and my exclamation marks are the candy. I toss them out all over the place. But this last move was no parade and no place for exclamation marks. The weeks leading up to and proceeding that milestone have been brutal. It’s just been one thing after another. I took the first three hits pretty well, but after that it was affecting me deeply and I reached a breaking point.

I kind of beat myself up for not being able to just roll with the punches, but then someone told me that moving is one of the top ten most stressful life events. I am sure it’s not that way for everybody every time, but apparently it happens often enough and that helps me to feel somewhat justified for my extreme levels of anxiety. Sorry to be so vague and melodramatic, but trust me, you don’t want a list of all the hurdles we’ve faced this past month. Then again, once I get to the other side of all this I might be inclined to share. We’ll see.

So that’s why I haven’t blogged, emailed, tweeted, or any other social media, or even real life interactions for the past couple weeks. I just don’t have it in me, but this moment at the computer right now is a step. It’s proof that I will recover and life will find it’s rhythm again and I am really looking forward to it.

By | April 3rd, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Where My Writing Journey Began

One month ago we were contacted by Cincinnati Children’s hospital about being on the news. The segment would be about a research study that SJ was a part of.

I was thrilled to be a part of the story. Actually, let me rephrase that. I was thrilled for SJ to be a part. I was a hot mess that did not do my hair or makeup. The other kids had sticky faces and mix matched clothes. Elle had no shoes, and we probably looked homeless. Since I was under the impression that SJ would be the only one involved she was all I had time to worry about that morning. You can imagine my surprise when they wanted to interview me and have all the kids on camera. Ugh.

So anyway we were on the news and got to raise awareness about this advanced technology.

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Here is a link to the clip:

http://local12.com/health/health-updates/giving-children-a-voice

And for any parents in the Cincinnati area that think their hearing impaired children might qualify and benefit from this Language Intervention Study here some more information.

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Shortly after the program taping I was contacted by Cincinnati Children’s to do a blog post about the Touch Chat software and our experience with the program. This opportunity made me absolutely ecstatic.

I know it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it’s special to me. As many of you know I had a little brother that passed away. He had Leukemia and received all of his treatment at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

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For years that Hospital was my home away from home. I spent a decent portion of my childhood there. We celebrated birthdays and holidays at Cincinnati Children’s hospital. We were on a first name basis with the staff and they were always so loving and supportive. They even had a therapist that I called “The Play Lady”. I never saw it as therapy. In fact, I didn’t realize that’s what it was until I was older.

The Play Lady at Cincinnati Children’s was the one who encouraged me to write. I was in 2nd grade and was just starting to discover my writing voice. I had a journal that my Aunt Beth and Uncle Leon (who are both writers by the way) got me for Christmas and I would find great relief in being able to express my feelings as I filled the pages.

When my brother passed away The Play Lady encouraged my older brothers and I to write a book and illustrate it. It was called “Remembering the Good Times and the Bad” and it was held together by three silver binder rings. It wasn’t anything fancy, but there were multiple copies made and they even had one in our school’s library. To me I had written a real book. Even though I was only a little girl, in some ways I knew then that I could use my words to help others walking through similar difficulties. It was was a big part of how I coped.

As time marched on we moved across the country living in various states until I finally settled down in Dallas Texas where I met and married my husband. I never thought I would have a reason to be in Cincinnati Children’s hospital ever again. That was until I moved back more than twenty years later and had a special needs daughter. Now Cincinnati Children’s is a big part of my life again, thankfully for different reasons this time.

So when I was contacted to write a blog post for Cincinnati Children’s it was more than just writing a simple post about “Utilizing Technology to Aid in Speech Development“. It’s a chance to maybe help other parents whose children are struggling with speech, and in some ways I feel like my 2nd grade self would be proud to see that I never quit writing. It’s a full circle story where my love for the written word found it’s way back to the place where it began. That’s why this little piece means so much to me.

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Here is link if you want to check it out.

Utilizing Technology to Aid in Speech Development

 

By | March 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Meet Isabella

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For SJ’s birthday this year I thought it would be really special if she got an American Girl doll and and then we could take the doll to the American Girl Doll Hospital for hearing aids. The problem is I knew we couldn’t afford an American Girl doll right now. Normally I would just buy second hand, but even then I couldn’t find one anywhere near my price range. You can hardly touch them for under $75.

So I had this wild idea to post an ISO on some yard sale sites on Facebook.

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And the response was INCREDIBLE. Strangers were sharing my post and contacting friends and offering dolls left and right. I could hardly keep up with the outpouring of generosity!  I had one lady send me a private message saying that she was deaf in one ear and really wanted to give a doll to my daughter. She said that she would let me choose one from the three that she owns STILL IN THE BOX! I tried to refuse her offer telling her it was too generous. How could I accept such a personal and valuable gift from someone I don’t even know? She told me it was what she wanted to do and the doll needed to be played with. In almost no time at all I met up with her and gave her a huge hug while expressing my deepest gratitude.

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Then the doll waited  and waited quietly in my closet until the big day final came. The gift bag was so big we had to move it from the table to the floor so that our little birthday girl could reach inside. As SJ pulled out the doll she instantly fell in love with her new friend.

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I explained how her name is Isabelle and that she is going to get hearing aids. SJ calls her Isabella because she told me there is a girl named Isabella at her school who has cochlear implants.

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It’s only day three of having Isabella and SJ has hardly let her leave her side. Sometimes I mistakenly call her a doll and SJ will correct me saying “She is not a baby. She is not a doll. She is Isabella.”

It’s been really sweet to watch and later this week SJ and Isabella will take a trip with Mémé (my mom) to go to the American Girl Doll store at The Mall of America.

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The original idea of having hearing aids put in on the spot fizzled out when I learned that it doesn’t work that way. You have to ship the doll to the AG hospital which is not located in the store and then they will ship her back. That’s okay though, we still plan to do that and the outcome will be the same.

On top of all that I am wanting to start a non-profit for special needs girls that have hearing aids, or a wheel chair, arm crutches, a service dog etc. to be able to get a doll that they can relate to. All of these disability accessories that I have mentioned are offered through American Girl. Just think of all the dolls that need a new loving home that could be donated to girls that would otherwise never be able to have a doll that shared their uniqueness.

There is still so much that would have to happen to set up a doll sharing program for special needs girls, but I just can’t shake the idea so I do believe that it is something the Lord placed in my lap.

I want to give a special thanks to the two women that donated dolls already and for the many others that were willing to. These days “feel good stories” are hard to come by in this divisive political climate, but I am encouraged to know that there are still so many people out there whose hearts are overflowing with kindness. This whole experience has been such a blessing and I am encouraged to never stop paying it forward.

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By | March 6th, 2017|Hearing Loss, Special Needs|8 Comments

A Weary Update

I’ve been blogging for over nine years and I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve gone a week without doing a blog post. This is one of those weeks where it’s a struggle for me to type any words. So this is going to be brief, but I’ve got some BIG personal updates that I’ve been anxious to spill the beans about.

1. We are getting a house!
I have alluded to this for a while, but we are just weeks away from sealing the deal. If everything goes through we will be moving into a home of our own by the end of the month!  There are a ton more details to that but I’m gonna hold off until we had the keys in hand.
2. My dad and brother were in a car wreck.
This past Wednesday I got that call that everyone dreads. My mom never calls me at night and I was in the middle of the bedtime battle with the kids so it wasn’t a  good time to talk, but I answered the phone because “What if?”.
Me: Hello?
Mom: Has anyone called you yet?
Me: (My heart was already racing because I knew this was bad) No what is going on?
Mom: Your dad and Jeremy were in a car accident? (and she breaks down in tears)
Me: (Freaking out and trying not to hyperventilate.) “Is every one okay? What happened? Are they fine!? Oh no!”
Mom: I don’t know everything yet, but it looks like they are going to be okay…
They had borrowed a truck because there was a huge storm in our area the night before and a tree went down at my brother’s place. The truck had been running completely fine until they approached a three way stop and the brakes went completely out. They were going 55 mph and Could. Not. Stop. They flew through the intersection and with no way of stopping the vehicle  they actually went over a creek Duke’s of Hazard style and landed in somebody’s yard. They were taken by ambulance to two different hospitals for different injuries. By the grace of God they are both out of the hospital now and doing alright, but my dad has severe back pain and my brother has a broken arm which he had to have surgery to have pins put in. We are all feeling so grateful that they are alive, but they are going to have a major recovery ahead of them so please keep them in your prayers.
3. I am beginning a new series called inspiring moms.
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I know I’ve mentioned it before, but things are really getting going with the Inspiring Mom series. I’ve already interviewed two moms. One of them you may have read about from when we did postcards for Colton (which was something I promoted on Facebook). Colton’s mom Suzanne is amazing. She is sharing with us her story of having a son diagnosed with a rare disability and also what it’s like to survive a tornado. I was so moved by her story and I know you will be too. She is a warrior mama! I also interviewed my favorite granny in the whole wide world. She 96 years old and still drives and lives on her own. And then I have another interview coming up Tuesday. So the ball is really rolling. I still want to hear from more moms though. Don’t hesitate to nominate somebody or talk to me about being featured as an Inspiring Mom! And be on the look out for the first installment here in the next couple of weeks.
So that’s the latest in a nutshell.
I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend. Be blessed!
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PS. It’s SJ’s 7th birthday! We’ve got some fun surprises in store.

By | March 3rd, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments

15 Months Old With Hearing Aids

Elle is now 15 months old and has had hearing aids for almost a month. Have you seen any of those viral videos of babies hearing for the first time with hearing aids or cochlear implants? They are always so sweet and touching. Elle was not hearing for the first time when she got her hearing aids, but she was hearing differently (and improved) so I had my video camera ready. Here is a screen shot from that video.

 

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She never cried. She just scowled. She gave her notorious stink eyes to everybody in the room. I should have known then that we were going to have a long road ahead of us.

SJ had hearing aids when she was two and they didn’t work for her at all because she had such profound hearing loss. She quickly progressed to cochlear implants. Elle’s hearing loss is not the same as SJ’s. They are both genetic and they both have the same parents, but Elle has mild hearing loss which she gets from me. She hears sounds and even speech, but she is missing out on some of the softer sounds like “s” “f” and “sh”. So the hearing aids help with picking up on the sounds that she is missing and making the ones she does hear more crisp and less muffled.

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That means that all of the girls in our family of six have hearing loss and we all have hearing devices.

 

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Elle and I have Phonak hearing aids and SJ has Cochlear Americas Cochlear Implant.

 

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Unfortunately they all three take DIFFERENT batteries. Go figure. Making sure we have batteries charged, changed, or in stock is just one of the many hurdles we face having children with hearing loss. It does get easier with time, but having a baby or a toddler with hearing aids takes a lot of work!

 

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Elle doesn’t seem to mind wearing them, but at the same time she does like to mess with them and rarely leaves them alone.

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After a week of struggling to keep them on we went to Hanna Andersson in the mall to get some pilot caps. These hats aren’t made specifically for hearing loss, but the pilot cap is perfect for keeping the hearing aids on while the child is still training.

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The problem is, Elle can still get the hearing aids off even when she wears the cap. So it may not be the ultimate solution, but it’s a significant help. She messes with the hearing aids a lot less, when she is wearing the pilot cap.


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We have had some VERY scary close calls with lost hearing aids in the past month. I think I am going to look like I am 90 years old by the time Elle is trained to wear them. That is how stressful it is. I compare it to having a child that has to wear socks every waking hour, and each sock costs a thousand dollars. Now if you are anything like me your baby kicks off or takes off their socks all the time and they inventibly get lost. It’s annoying when it’s $2 socks, but with hearing aids it’s ulcer worthy.

Time marches on though and I know that we will get through this. Elle still isn’t really talking much yet and is considered delayed at this point. I am sure all of this effort will be worth it in the long run.

As I type this Elle is napping in the other room so she is not wearing her hearing aids, but she did manage to loose one (with the cap on) before she went to bed so I guess I’ll go search the house. AGAIN. Wish me luck. toddler-with-pilot-cap

By | February 24th, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments