Thursday, January 28, 2010

Special moments

There are times when something special will happen in life and we just have to stop and think, Wow. Is this for real? Am I dreaming?

Every time I look at the baby, a part of me asks those questions. It's been over two years since I've given birth to Jesse, and even still, sometimes when I look at him, I can't help but think....Wow. Thank you, God, for blessing me with him.

Now, being 2, Jesse DOES have his moments. He'll throw tantrums. Make horrible diaper messes. Sometimes he won't sleep. Sometimes he'll spit out his milk or throw his food. And sometimes he'll throw things.

But through ALL of those downsides, I wouldn't trade the privilege of having him in our lives for anything. He still means the world to all of us. He's still special.

And there are special moments we'll get to have with him, too. Those little moments when he'll do something only a baby would do.

Like today, for example. I was sitting at the table, reading the newspaper, when Jesse walked over to sit in the chair next to me. When I looked at him, he shrugged his shoulders. When I did the same thing, he threw his little head back with a big laugh. Then he shrugged again, I shrugged again, and more laughter came out of his mouth. He thought the whole act of shrugging shoulders was just hilarious.

And then there was the time I was pushing him in the baby swing at the park. He LOVED it. It was like it was just me and him, no troubles in the world, as I pushed him in the swing and he sat there so peacefully and so content.

And sometimes he'll climb into my lap and give me a kiss or a hug and, if I'm lucky, he'll lie against my chest, put his little head on my shoulder, and I could just hold him in my arms or rock him in a chair.

There are some things he will do that I could just spend hours watching. In the bathtub, he has these little cups and he'll take turns switching the water from cup to cup, just contentedly busying himself pouring the water back and forth. Sometimes he'll sit on the floor and play with his toy cars (he LOVES cars!). Or he'll hold a small mirror in his tiny hands and just stare at his reflection, moving the mirror really close as he examines that face he sees in it then really far away to get a full view.

I am beginning to think he understands his parents are deaf. Today, for example, he went to where his father sat at the desk, patted his arm to get his attention, then "signed" to him. At least, he TRIED to sign! It was cute to watch him. He has been doing that a lot, trying to sign to us. We have not used home signs with him, just regular ASL. But he uses signs that are not real signs, not even for home signs. He'll also flash the room light or stomp his foot to get our attention.

There is just so much about Jesse that I cherish, despite the fatigue and trying times. I am just so very, very grateful he is in our lives. He's an adorable baby (in MY opinion) and so smart and so sweet. Sometimes I think I'm going to wake up from this wonderful dream, and he won't be there. My heart sinks at that very thought. So many times Jennifer tells me how much she loves her brother (she even has a shirt that says "I love Baby J"!) and I'm glad she's extremely protective of him, even with us. She is a good big sister and he's lucky to have such a wonderful and protective sister.

Well, we are lucky to have him, too.

I cherish him every single day, and I cherish those special moments that he and I get to share even more.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Throwing caution at the wind

I keep saying how my parenting experiences with Jesse are so different than what I went through during Jennifer's early years. Today I was reminded of just how different.

Today, I wanted to take Jennifer out to PlayLand while I got pictures printed. Somehow, Jesse figured out we were getting ready to leave. He ran to get his shoes, held them up and happily said, "Bye bye!"

My heart sank as I frowned at him. "No, Jesse. No bye bye."

At this point, Jennifer suggested I take him with us. After all, at the age of 2, he was now old enough to go into PlayLand.

Of course, I perished the thought. I told her there was NO WAY I was leaving him in there. She reminded me of how it was so hard for me to leave him at the nursery at church the first time, and of how he was just fine when I picked him up again. I told her this was different. Don't ask me how, it just was!

All this time, I was comfortable with the decision to wait until he's 3 to take him to PlayLand. I mean, he's not even potty trained yet! But now this decision was being challenged.

Jennifer promised me she would look out for him, that she would take care of him. I just wasn't ready to leave an 8-year-old in charge of my baby. But at the same time, I told her it didn't matter. I didn't feel good about leaving him in the care of a stranger. With Jennifer, as a baby she was left with a parent or relative if I had to go somewhere. I don't have any family here in Eugene and not a friend who I trust enough to leave my children with (not anymore). The people who work at PlayLand are just wonderful but what if they couldn't handle a 2-year-old? He was still so small! And he has temper tantrums; were they ready to deal with that?

I finally told Jennifer, "I'm not ready to throw caution at the wind with you kids."

First she wanted to know what "caution" was. After I explained, she assured me things would be okay.

I finally gave in. "All right, but I'm going to stop by and check in on you two." And that's what I did, too, when he was in there. He was fine, really. He ran and played. I could see him laughing. He looked like he was having so much fun. He even sat at a bench with Jennifer and the caregiver as they all colored together. (I think she got tired of me asking "is he ok? is there any trouble?" She kept telling me he was fine.)

Later, after I got the pictures printed and bought dinner, I collected my children and was soooo relieved to have my baby back with me. Yes, I got through it and, yes, he really WAS fine. But it was so hard to be away from him during those 55 minutes. I wasn't able to tell if I'd be willing to do that again. Um, maybe next year.

Sure I'm willing to throw SOME caution to the wind, when it comes to my children. I do that every day I drop Jennifer off at school (and say a little prayer that she'll be okay and deal with missing her later on in the day). And I do that when I leave the kids with their dad.

I'll let them go sometimes. But just a little bit. And only for a short while.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Twitter can bring out the worst in people

I recently had to unfollow some people on Twitter. It's not because of harassment or a hundred thousand tweets they made every day (though one of them DID send out a heck of a lot of tweets every day, but that didn't bug me so much, really). No, the reason why I stopped following them is strictly for personal reasons.

Two of them, in particular, enthralled their followers with their ongoing soap opera of a romance. I thought the whole thing was funny, really. It just made me roll my eyes and chuckle. I even poked fun about it with one of them. Then one day, I started to wonder, what is the press saying about these two and their tweeting romance? They ARE celebrities, and I know that journalists use celebrity tweets for information. So what are they saying about these two?

I decided to do a Google search to find out. One article made my jaw drop. Some of the tweets by the female in this whole affair were pretty graphic, if not a little over the edge. What's worse is that she publicly acknowledged she was sleeping with a married man. (Shame! Shame! But then again, she IS an actress living in Hollywood. Hollywood has no shame.) As I read her tweets, some of which she later managed to delete (I thought you couldn't delete your tweets??), a thought struck me: I never knew she was such an s-word.

Wow. Seriously. I never realized their sexcapades were THAT obscene. And it was a huge turn-off how she kept tweeting about her sexual adventures with two men. TWO! (Ugh.)

I mean, show a little restraint, people. Good grief. I know there are nymphos in this world, but do they REALLY need to share that stuff on Twitter?

Well, I don't follow people just to read about their (disgusting) sex life. That stuff is NOT for public knowledge! Sex is something special and sacred to be shared between a couple, not something to tweet about. I really don't care for women who spread their legs for several men. I had already grown weary reading her tweets and this was the last straw. I unfollowed her, and I don't think I'll refollow her because now I know her wild side and I don't like what I'm seeing about her. Some people just can't control themselves or actually LOVE bragging about their sexual exploits. Well, I'm not interested.

And as for the other one, I unfollowed him, too. Now that I knew HIS wild side, I'll admit I lost all respect for him, mostly because EVERYBODY talks about what a "gentleman" he is but now it's obvious to me that a gentleman is something he is NOT! He'd rather bed a woman instead of making a commitment to her. And there ARE men like this, too. I was sad to see that he is one of them, but at least now I know the truth about him. I guess he has no qualms about sleeping with a woman he KNOWS is also sleeping with a married man. Let alone the three of them participating together. I guess nothing is sacred or special to him when it comes to that sort of relationship with a woman.

This whole thing reminded me of how celebrities and even famous authors were tweeting about things they shouldn't in the past, and how the press picked up on all of it. The press would catch something and, in the blink of an eye, it was all over the Twitterverse. One famous author, for example, ranted about a bad review she received for her book. After her public shame and ridicule, she was forced to delete her Twitter account.

People SHOULD be careful what they tweet about, because it WILL come back at them, especially if they are a celebrity. After I unfollowed this woman (who I will NOT call a lady), I went back to her page the next day to find her ranting about journalists who use Twitter as a source and telling them off and, oh, gee, "guess I should be careful what I tweet about."

Ya think???

I am not being fooled by those rants. I seriously doubt someone hacked into her account and made all those tweets about her affairs with two men. And, anyway, her whole admission of how she should be more careful with what she tweets about is the dead giveaway that those particular tweets used by journalists did indeed come from her.

Now, I am not prudish, but I AM a Christian with certain principles. And while I KNOW there are people out there who have no problem with the fact that they sleep around or have no shame in admitting they commit adultery or even a sex crime, I have certain limitations in what kind of tweets I want to read about. I don't want any association with them. I'm not following people on Twitter to get my jollies from their adventures or to live vicariously through them. And if they think that tweeting about their sex life or about being someone with a questionable character, then they've really lost my interest in them altogether.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Here is wisdom

I went to the dentist today. I need to have THREE teeth pulled. Ugh. Two of them are wisdom teeth (I still have 3 wisdom teeth left) and the other one is some rogue tooth that has merged into one of the wisdom teeth that's going to be extracted. The dentist informed me that this is probably why I have been having so much pain in that area lately.

A tooth MERGED INTO one of my teeth? Seriously?? Yikes. The more I thought on that, the more it made my skin crawl. Yuck.

Well, I'll be glad to get rid of them. The dental surgery has been scheduled towards the end of the month. They did suggest the week before Valentine's Day, but with my big promotional plans for my book scheduled for Valentine's Day weekend, I told them I'd rather have it done long before then. I was tempted to start talking about my forthcoming book but decided to save all that chatter for the next time I'll be in there. Heh.

I had to take Jennifer with me since my appointment was shortly after her early release from school. She kinda freaked about having teeth pulled, even wisdom teeth. I tried to explain to her that everybody has to have their wisdom teeth pulled but that she doesn't have to worry about it until much, much later. She still got antsy about this prospect of having the teeth pulled. I kept answering her question of "does it hurt?" with no, it doesn't hurt at all. I was more weirded out by how the dentist had to practically climb up on the chair to pull the teeth out! He REALLY had to put some muscle into it! (Dentistry is not for the weakling. LOL) I explained that most of the discomfort comes after the surgery, when the Novocaine had me all woozy and out of it. But, no, it doesn't hurt to have the teeth pulled.

The medical assistant also talked with her about the procedure and answered her questions. The thing about Jennifer is that she can be a real chatterbox. Once she gets curious about something, she runs off a thousand questions. (She's like me with that! LOL Is it any surprise, then, that I have done newspaper reporting??) I was grateful the M.A. was so patient with her and didn't seem to mind answering her questions.

After the appointment, we went to Sweet Life for a treat. Then we hit the 7-11 and went home. At home, she once again started asking about wisdom teeth, and I kept once again assuring her that it doesn't hurt when the teeth are pulled. But I have a feeling that, when it's her turn, she'll have new questions about the whole process. Call it a hunch.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ladies, be safe and be smart

Today, I read an article in yesterday's newspaper that raised some concern. Yes, I read yesterday's newspaper today. Yesterday was uber busy and I had no time to read the paper. But, I digress.

In the news story, a woman in Eugene was threatened by a man with a knife after she'd gotten into her car. As I read this story, I noticed several safety mistakes that were made.

Number one, she was in a possibly vacant parking lot at 2:00 in the morning. Two, she noticed a suspicious man following her on her way to her car. Three, she went to her car anyway and got inside. Four, she didn't lock her door. The man opened it after she got in and threatened her with a knife, telling her to move over into the passenger's seat.

But the biggest red flag? She was alone.

We talk so much about staying safe, but I realize there are some women out there who think they will be fine. Or, that they are tough enough to handle a situation such as this, just because they have taken self-defense classes. Then there are some who think, "It won't happen to me."

We would all like to tell ourselves that something like THIS won't happen to us. Nobody will ever threaten us with a knife. We'll never be in danger. The world is filled with innocent, caring people.


Ladies, we MUST protect ourselves. It's like I tell my daughter, it's better to be safe than sorry.

And even if we look weak or like cowards for being safe, then that doesn't matter. At least we will be alive!

Fortunately, the woman did get away from this man. She ran back into the store and called 911. He was later found walking along a street and arrested. (Hm, he didn't steal her car. I don't think that was what he was after.)

Now I must point out certain items from that news story that are big safety mistakes:

Going out at night alone. I know that some of us can't avoid being out at night, even at such an hour as 2 a.m. But, for God's sake, if you are a woman who is out and about at night, don't be out and about by yourself! If you can't have someone with you, stay in a public place where there is ample lighting. In the woman's case, she should have asked a store employee to walk out to her car with her. Also, if you DO have to be alone, have your cell phone with you and pepper spray. Bonus points if you have a black belt in karate.

Not thinking twice about anyone suspicious. We get bad vibes from people for a reason. That's our way of picking up on the signal that something's not right. If you don't feel safe around someone or notice someone acting suspiciously around you, DO NOT put yourself in danger. In the woman's case, she should have turned around and walked, or ran, back into the store, not gone to her car where he could get to her without any witnesses.

Not locking the car door. Out of habit, I always lock my car doors after I get in the car. This guy just opened the woman's car door and threatened her. Maybe she didn't have time to lock her door after getting in, maybe not. The story didn't have that information. But, yes, definitely lock your car doors.

On a side note, I have also read that you should keep the key ring around your finger. That way, if you have to punch someone, it'll have an added sting.

I am glad the woman got away from this man and called 911 in the store. That was the smart thing to do. But if she had exercised some other smart safety measures, then she might have avoided such a confrontation altogether.

Always be safe, never be sorry. Even if it means swallowing your pride and not acting so tough or "macho," it's important to exercise safety precautions. It's not worth it to look like you can defend yourself just fine if it means you might lose your life.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Making the most important meal of the day most important

This morning, I was 10 minutes late dropping Jennifer off at school. As I was telling her goodbye and reminding her to eat some breakfast when she got to class, she informed me that if the children are done eating breakfast when she got to class, her teacher would not allow her to eat breakfast.

I was alarmed! Her teacher was denying her food? This was so wrong!

I reminded Jennifer to tell her teacher that her mother said she must have breakfast, and I assured her I would straighten this out.

Soon after I got home, I set to work typing out a lengthy e-mail to both her teacher and the school principal. I was fuming over this but I kept the e-mail civil. I apologized for getting Jennifer to school late on some mornings, noting that her tardiness was NOT her fault and that she should not be "punished" for being late by being denied breakfast, and explaining that, in addition to getting Jennifer up and ready to go to school in the mornings, I am also getting my toddler son's diaper changed and getting him ready to go with us. Because my husband works late and doesn't usually get to bed until 4 or 5 a.m., I don't feel secure leaving the baby with him after only 2-3 1/2 hours of sleep while I drop Jennifer off at school. The schedule is crazy; the baby might sleep or he might wake up in time for us all to be ready on time. (I have been thinking of just waking him up when I get Jen up, though I'd hate to disturb his sleep.)
Anyway, I was fuming over this whole thing. I was just...outraged! I couldn't believe they were making her go hungry until lunch time. What in the world!

I was chatting with someone as I typed my e-mail and I told her about this. She commented on certain legal matters concerning food laws at elementary schools and advised me to check out Oregon laws relating to this before I sent the e-mail.

Well, all I can say is, it's a good thing I used e-mail to communicate my concerns about this. If I was speaking to them in person, I might've ended up screaming at them.

After I sent the e-mail, I thought I would feel better, but I didn't. I was just reeling over the whole thing. Even when I homeschooled Jennifer, I made sure she ate breakfast first! AAH!

When the teacher responded to my e-mail, she had something different to say. She noted that the school DOES recognize the importance of children eating breakfast (part of the reason why they offer it free to all of the children, regardless of family income), and that the latecomers to class are allowed, even advised, to walk to the cafeteria to get some breakfast. She did note how there was one time Jennifer did not do this when she had suggested this, and I started to think maybe we had mixed signals here. Maybe Jennifer said she didn't want to go get breakfast, changed her mind later, and was told it was too late.

She also let me know that the children are provided with a snack at around 2 hours after arriving at school, which is also 2 hours and 20 minutes before lunch.

I had to reflect on this. I was relieved to hear that they make it a priority that the children receive adequate nourishment and food during the school day. I remembered one day, when Jennifer was late for kindergarten, she was told she missed breakfast and she wasn't able to eat anything. I suppose maybe they changed that policy since then. And, if so, I'm glad for it. Once again, this school comes out as a winner in taking care of their students!

It didn't bother me that, in the end, this was all a big misunderstanding. I am glad I was able to make my feelings about this kind of thing known to them, and that they understood the whole situation about why I've gotten Jennifer to school late on occasion and how I try very hard to ensure she gets to school on time. (The teacher definitely understood this, because she, too, has a small child. Only a parent can relate to these things!)

Nevertheless, the quest continues to figure out the best way to have both kids ready to go out the door on time so that I can get Jennifer to school on time. I am glad and extremely grateful that the school makes sure that even the late kids receive breakfast, but I will still try to make sure she gets to school on time so there are no disruptions.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Save the Earth! And maybe the sun, too

This evening, after reading a bedtime story to Jennifer, she asked me to read her another book. Despite being very tired and dealing with dental pain, I agreed, because I promised myself that the next time she asked me to read "just one more book," then I'd do it. So the book she asked me to read to her was a nonfiction book for a change, about stars. The book talked about the sun mostly, and how it was doomed to implode in about 4 1/2 billion years. It explained this process: About how the sun would run out of energy and use helium and this would cause the sun to expand before imploding. During this expansion, it would wipe out everything in its path, including Mercury, the moon, and Earth.

This is not exactly old news to a lot of us grown-ups, but it was news to my young child. And actually, the news shocked her. I assured her it would not happen for 4 1/2 billion more years from now. "We'll probably all be dead by then," I said, imagining a very vacant and lifeless earth. But just in case it is NOT vacant and lifeless, I also imagined the humans of that future scowling at us "lazy bums" of the past for not coming up with a solution for them to escape the sun's expansion. "You only had 4 1/2 billion years to figure out what we should do!"

Future humans aside, Jennifer, however, was concerned for the Earth itself. She wanted to know what would happen to it.

"It will get swallowed up," I answered. "The sun will burn it up as it moves past the Earth."

She was upset about this. Even though we're talking about billions of years from now, and even though she didn't have to worry about herself or her future children falling victim to the sun's expanding path of destruction, she felt genuine concern for our planet. She asked, "What will happen to the planets?"

I made a sad face, shook my head and waved "bye-bye."

"But can't we stop the sun from blowing up?" she asked.

"No, Jen, there's nothing we can do about it. It's science. It's just the way it is."

Then she suggested we "kill" the sun before it blew up.

I stifled a laugh and said, "We can't kill the sun! Everything will die!"

This did not make sense to her. "If we kill the sun before it blows up, everything will die. If we don't kill the sun, then everybody will die."

I explained that this was just the way it was and, once again, we had BILLIONS of years before the sun's demise was a priority for anyone. Still, I had to wonder about future generations. What IF there is still life on Earth 4 1/2 billion years from now? What if there's something worth saving, if not the Earth?

Well, I can only hope that today's young scientific thinkers will become tomorrow's scientific geniuses. There are scientists exploring the possibilities of living on other planets (though I hope those planets will be FAR AWAY from the sun in order to preserve the human race), scientists studying ways to change things with planets and stars, scientists trying to find some way to stop, or at least slow down, a ticking time bomb like giant stars ready to implode. Maybe today's young scientific thinkers will grow up and try to find the solutions to the scientific problems that this generation cannot.

The whole thing made me think of that scene in the movie The Knowing, where everything and everyone is destroyed in a fiery destruction. The entire human race, gone! A whole planet, gone!

Maybe by that point in the future, the humans (if there will be any left) will be forced to live in outer space, like they do on Star Trek. Maybe that's a solution. Live in outer space if we can't live on a planet.

Still, I was assured by her attempts to try to find a solution to this problem. Besides trying to "kill" the sun before it "blows up," Jennifer also theorized that maybe all of the water in our oceans will weaken the sun's fiery destruction of the planet. I decided to humor her and say that just might work. Hey, at least she's got her thinking cap on. There may yet be hope.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Another resolution: Take care of yourself!

My friend and fellow writer, Jenny Greenleaf, pointed out in a recent blog post that if you reverse today's date -- 01-02 -- then it's 2010 in reverse! Neat!

I have a new resolution to add to my list of resolutions for this year: Take better care of myself. When I resolved to get back onto the Michael Thurmond diet this year (which I have actually modified to suit my own dietary needs), I thought, Okay, a healthy diet and a resolve to work out should be enough for me.

But, actually, it's not.

Yes, eating a healthy diet is an important part of taking care of yourself. So is getting in that needed physical activity and exercise. But taking care of yourself also means maintenance.

Last night, as I lied in bed agonizing in pain, I started to feel a little anxiety over an upcoming reading for a new book I have coming out. I started to think, how in the world am I going to manage reading from my book in front of an audience if I'm experiencing this terrible dental pain, hip pain, foot pain and back pain? (Yes, I was experiencing ALL of those grievances last night. I had a lousy night!) Then a new thought struck me: This would not be so bad if I had taken better care of myself!

If I had gone to the doctor after I hurt my foot, I would not have the other foot which is aggravated from all the limping adding to my misery!

If I had gotten all of my wisdom teeth pulled, I wouldn't have this dental pain!

If I had gone to the doctor to find out what's wrong with my hip, I might not have the hip pain going on!

My point is, if I tended to my own physical grievances earlier and not neglected them, then they won't get worse. They will get better instead. And isn't that a nice thought? Getting better?

So that experience made me realize that I definitely should pay closer attention to when my body is telling me, "Houston, we have a problem."

I was raised to tough things out. Part of this philosophy is because I was in a family of 7 children and my parents couldn't always afford a trip to the ER or doctor. We had to tough things out a lot. We had to do without a lot, sometimes temporarily until we were publicly embarrassed (I won't go into THOSE details!). Heck, many times, we brushed our teeth with baking soda when we couldn't afford toothpaste! But now I have insurance. Now we're not struggling with money so much. I CAN afford to go to the ER or a doctor! So if something is wrong, that's the thing to do.

Taking care of yourself should be a priority and I know now just how important that priority should be. If something isn't right, make it right IMMEDIATELY. You never know when the time will come when things SHOULD be right, for some occasion or another.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year's resolutions

I know that a lot of people think that New Year's resolutions are bunk, but I am a firm believer in setting goals for myself for new things to try, learn, and new ways to grow. I may not be able to accomplish ALL of my New Year's resolutions, but at least they lay the foundation for what direction I want to take in the new year.

So yesterday, I sat down with the children and we all worked on our resolutions. Well, Jennifer and I did, anyway. Jesse just colored on paper, though at age 2 I'd imagine one resolution he could make for the new year would be to learn new words. Or new signs!

I divided my new year's resolutions into 3 categories: Money, personal growth, and family. (I did the same thing with my writing resolutions. Check them out here.)

For money, I wrote, "Fix my credit." I kept putting this off last year, but NOW is the time to get it done! Especially since we really, really, really want to have our own house. That won't happen if there's any bad credit between both partners. So at least by fixing my credit, I am taking a step towards making that dream a reality.

For personal growth, one resolution I have is "learn how to swim." This is ANOTHER personal goal I kept putting off. I'd always chicken out. THIS year, I will do it! I will learn how to swim. And so will the kids. Yay!

And, finally, for family, one resolution I have is "make sign language a bigger part of the family." We do use sign language, but not as often as we should. Using sign language more will help the kids remember the signs better. I have that whole "you live in a hearing world and can't use sign language" philosophy my parents hammered into my head after I became deaf. They were anti-sign language. None of that in MY house! We will embrace sign language and use it more often. One deaf person I know once commented how sign language "is such a beautiful language." I have to agree.

I read over Jen's resolutions and thought most of them were pretty good. One resolution I thought was cute was "have my picture taken with Jesse." Well, that happens often enough around here! She's crazy about her little brother. Another resolution she had was "read two books every two weeks." I approve.

Whether or not I meet all of my goals for 2010, at least I still have some idea of the changes I want to make. Change is definitely in the wind. I'm a little nervous, because it means stepping out of my comfort zone, but I know these changes must happen and in order to make that happen, there needs to be some stepping out of that zone! Nicolas Cage once commented that "anything worth doing is going to make you feel a little uncomfortable.' There are things I want to do in 2010 that will make me feel a little uncomfortable (like learning how to swim, but also changing my look and sticking to a workout routine), but I know they are things worth doing. Accomplishing those goals will move me, and even the children, forward to having a better life.