Friday, July 8, 2016

Raising a Strong Willed Child...

As I put my oldest to bed after a long day; as she is screaming, fighting and banging her head on the wall the whole way up the stairs, I think about raising a strong willed child. My child. She has spunk. She wants what she wants and has passion in everything she does. She loves to take everything in and HAS to be perfect in everything she does, down to brushing her teeth. She lets me know when she doesn't like something and if she doesn't like what I say or do.

If I try to put Emerson in a shirt that used to be hers, she lets me know she's not having it. That is her shirt. If I put her to bed and don't put the My little Pony light on, in the right place, she lets me know about it. She's fierce.

She knows where things go, who everything belongs to and where she's going. She tells us where we can go on walks and if we want to go another way, she will let us know. She's determined. It makes everyone's life easier if we stick to the original plan. We do things in routine.

With everything that drives my bat $hit crazy with this girl, I love her fight. The things cry about some nights is the same thing that I will cherish about her when she's older. The day will come soon where she won't need me as an advocate because she will be her own advocate; for me and everyone else we know.

She's going to be a difference maker in everything she does. She cares about the people she meets and wants to meet everyone and everyone. She takes initiative in everyday things like bath, cleaning up, getting dressed and going to bed (sometimes). I can't keep up with her some days; she barely sits down.

But tonight was just like most nights that we have when she is overly tired and doesn't want to go to bed. I take her upstairs, take her implants off, tuck her in, put on the fan, turn on the pony night light and shut the door. With not two seconds I hear screaming. I walk in to her sitting up on her bed with her arms spread out, and she says "this much". Yes, baby girl, I love you THIS MUCH. Sorry, I forgot that tonight in our nightly routine.

How much do I love you...THISSSSSSS MUCH!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Why I'm Now a Selfie Mom

Let me start by saying I can't stand selfies. I'm not really sure where they even came from.
The students in my office take more selfies and send more snap chats then I have ever seen. It would take them less time to call the person they are trying to contact, talk for five minutes, then hang up. I will never get selfies, but from now on I'M A SELFIE MOM.

You see there are a couple things that weigh on my heart that make me suddenly want to take more selfies. One big reason is because of the my self image. You see, being a girl mom is tough. Well, not necessarily being a girl mom, it's being the same sex parent. I have a duty to raise my girls with a positive self image and I think that starts with my own. There is no faking it when it comes to your confidence and how others view you.

I absolutely can't stand pictures of myself. I can always find something wrong with me: I still have 50 pounds of baby weight, I hate my legs; I have invisiline and my teeth HURT. I literally can not smile half of the time! Sometimes I don't have makeup and guess what? I don't wash my hair everyday.

I've come to realize that two little, sweet girls don't care about what I look like, they just want to see their mom be proud of who she is. They absolutely love selfies and why should I take fun away from them because of how I "think" I look in a photo. If I take photos and are proud of my self image, the girls will see that and hopefully realize that they are as beautiful as I see them. Self image is real thing for girls and mine aren't any different.

They other reason I am now a selfie mom is because I want them to have lots of photos of me. There many be a day where I'm not here and I want to make sure they have a lot of pictures of me. Sometimes, well most times, it's just me and them; so why not take a selfie. They will have lots of pictures of us together when they get older. Living life for each day to me means capturing what we have right in front of us. It may not be a fancy picture; most times it is blurry or grainy but we still have that moment to put in a frame next to their bed.

I will be making a selfie book soon for each girl to have with some of blog posts that I can give them when they are in high school. I'll probably still not have lost the baby weight, not love myself in every photo or wash my hair everyday, but they will have memories of their mom to last forever.

I draw the line at selfies though- I am NOT joining Snap Chat.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Deaf vs. Hearing: Don't Judge me and I won't Judge You

Within the first 24 hours of Riley's life we found out she was deaf. Well, that's not 100% true. Riley failed her newborn hearing test twice and had to go to the ENT for more testing. If you have been following this blog, October 31, 2012 we found out for sure our baby couldn't hear. She was profoundly deaf in one ear and severe in the other.

There was a small window of time when I was in shock. I didn't understand how this happened. I didn't know what to do or where to even begin. Josh and I were in complete and utter sadness. Once that initial shock wore off, we got to work.

Cochlear implants were never even a "should we" discussion. We found out that our deaf daughter would have access to sound and could have the opportunity to develop spoken language; that was really all we needed to know. I don't think there was once where we wondered if we were making the right decision. We still don't have any regrets.

With Nyle DiMarco (Dancing with the Stars) coming into the picture and being a deaf celebrity with a huge advocacy for ASL, the war on deaf vs. hearing continues. I have seen so many articles on social media about the Deaf community and their view of cochlear implants. I don't judge any parents for not getting their children cochlear implants so why do they judge me? There hasn't been one time where I think of DiMarco and wonder why he never got CI's. I am amazed by his ability to sense sound through his body movements and appreciate the work he has put into making his life successful. However, we put in work too.

I something think learn ASL would have been easier than the therapy we do with Riley. We choose AVT ( Auditory Verbal Therapy) which concentrates on auditory (listening) and verbal (spoken language) to learn to listen and speak. Every morning I do a Ling check with her; if you're a parent of a hearing child you probably don't even know what that is. We talk, ALOT in our house. We wait. We wait for Riley to produce sound to tell me what she wants or need. She can't point, she can't wine, she must use her words at all times. She gets frustrated.  Usually about one time a day we have a breakdown of communication and someone ends up in a tantrum; sometimes that person is me.

Riley is coming up on her 3 year hearing birthday and still behind. We continue to advocate for her with the school systems and community resources. Riley is deaf (period). Some of the deaf culture doesn't think of being deaf as a disability, but more as an identity. Below is the definition of disability.

Disability is the consequence of an impairment that may be physical, cognitive, intellectual, mental, sensory, developmental, or some combination of these that results in restrictions on an individual's ability to participate in what is considered "normal" in their everyday society.

Based on this definition, do you think deafness is a disability? Hearing loss is classified as the #1 birth defect in America. I don't want to cause any problems with the war on deaf vs. hearing, but being born deaf is considered a disability in American society. 1% of Americans can use ASL and ASL is the sixth spoken language in America. More people know Spanish and German than ASL. Currently Riley is stuck between a deaf community and a hearing couture. She doesn't hear like we hear. Listening doesn't come easy for her. When Riley doesn't have her CI's on, she can't hear anything. Nothing.

I don't really care what your language of choice is. I don't wonder what went through your mind on making decisions. We chose not to use sign language with Riley. If you ask me one month, the next month it's going to be the same. One day, Riley might want to learn sign language and I am fine with that. If she is up to her language goals and has a good grasp on spoken language, the world is her oyster. She can do anything she wants!  That's what parents do.

My job is to make decisions for her now, as her parent. Parenting is not easy and sometime you have to make decisions that society doesn't always agree with. I felt (and still feel) like I wanted to do whatever I could to give her all the opportunity in the world. If she was born without sight, I would research any technology to make it easier on her. If she was born without limbs, I would research and get any medical enhancements I could to make her life easier. I'm a mom; that's what we do. You consider your values and beliefs (whether spiritual or religious) and make a sound decision that is best for YOUR family. I don't judge you for your decisions so don't judge me for mine.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

25 Things May Not Know About Your Mommy....

 Here goes nothing....

  1. My favorite color is red.
  2. I like to listen to music in the car REALLY loud. You probably already know this though.
  3. I don't wear shorts. Even to bed.
  4. I don't use a flat sheet on our bed because I absolutely hate making the bed. I see no point.
  5. I have never mowed grass.
  6. I eat peanut butter every day. Every single day.
  7. I love wine. You will soon find out.
  8. I have very thick skin but care deeply what people think.
  9. I regret not playing sports in high school.
  10. It took me five years to complete my undergrad.
  11. I love fruit- especially watermelon.
  12. I try to drink two gallons of water a day.
  13. I can't stand flowers. If you want to win my heart use chocolate. I will always fold for chocolate.
  14. Garth Brooks was my first concert.
  15. I need eight hours of sleep to function properly.
  16. I can't do math. I hope one of you are really good at math in high school because you won't find me much help. I got you when it comes to English.
  17. My favorite meal is breakfast. I never skip breakfast. Ever.
  18. I love wearing heels. I know, weird.
  19. I had my gallbladder taken out in grad school.
  20. I have no directional sense. Please never use words like east when telling me how to get somewhere
  21. I love a good gel manicure.
  22. Sharks are my worse fear.
  23. I love the first glass of milk. Every time I buy milk I like to drink the first glass right away.
  24. I have never broken a bone.
  25. My favorite movie is Legally Blonde.
Some of these things you will soon find out; others, like my obsession with cheese and my fear of the ocean will be things that you will soon love about me!

Love Mom

Thursday, May 5, 2016

If I'm not here when you read this....

To My Girls,

I don't think a day goes by that I don't hear on the radio, news or social media that a mom was taken from her children in the blink of an eye; or maybe even over time. I like to think I will be around forever, like immortal, but what if I'm not?

If I'm still around by the time you read this blog, probably around 16 or so, you will either hate my guts because I wouldn't let you spend the night at a boy girl sleepover, or we are like best friends. I like to think I will be around for both of these situations but If I'm not, I wanted to give you some advice for your future. I'm not the best at everything. I don't know everything there is about success, marriage, children and careers, but I know enough to keep give you a little piece of your mom that you will have forever. Here goes:

  1. Character is who you are when know one is looking. Character is something you want and need in your life. Character makes you succeed.
  2. Ask lots of questions. Never EVER assume anything. Asking questions will get your answers quicker and will make any process shorter.
  3. Take care of your teeth. Like forever. Always brush, floss, or whatever your dentist wants you to do. Do it. You will thank me later.
  4. Friendship is so important. To have good friends, you must be a good friend. Being a good friend means putting someone else before you in certain situations. Caring about other people enough to not be envious, to be supportive even when you don't want to and having someone to talk to in the silent if you had to. Your friends will be there throughout your whole life- they are great at holding your hair also.
  5. Plans will get broken; live with it. Don't be so inflexible that you can't function without everything being planned out. I had my whole college, getting married, having a kid thing planed out and none of it turned out how I thought. Move on.
  6. Forgive. Forgiving is more about you than the other person. I always say "time heals, give time time". Forgive for you, not for the other person.
  7. Choose a career that makes you happy. I absolutely love working in higher education and it shows. You won't love everyday but you will spend most of your time working when you are an adult; make it enjoyable.
  8. Negativity is contagious. so it positivity. Be positive. Happiness is really a choose. Plain and simple.
  9. Be free. You live in America and that is a privilege. You can be anything you want to be and do anything you want in this country. Exercise your right to vote; freedom wasn't free.
  10. It's okay if you are different than everyone else. Don't feel like you have to fit in with everyone and do things that you know go against your values. Different is beautiful.
  11. Stay close to you sister. Having a sibling is such a gift. Stay close to each other because in the end, you will always have each other to lean on.
  12. Your education is important. This doesn't mean you have to take the same road as me, or your father. It just means to read up on things, educate yourself. Keep growing and gave the urge to be a better person.
  13. Love you more. I know that sounds totally selfish but it is probably the most important one on this list. No matter how much you love your husband, your partner, your kids or anything; love you more. You can't let yourself go and always put people ahead of you. You will soon loose yourself and then others will loose you soon after. Trust me.
  14. Drink lots of water. What you put in your body matters. Enough said.
  15. No matter what the situation: Get up, dress up, and show up. I heard this quote from a good friend when I worked at Ball State and it has gotten me through the toughest of situations. Don't let the situation take over your life. Take a day if you need, but the next day; GET UP, DRESS UP, AND SHOW UP.
There are so many things I could put on this list, but for time sake and typing, know this: God put you in our family because you belong there. He made you who you are because he loves you. There are no accidents, no coincidences. Everything is supposed to happen the way it does. Always remember that.

Love- mom

Monday, May 2, 2016

To Emerson- On her Second Birthday

Dear Emerson Marie,

It's crazy to think that two years have gone by already. Just yesterday we were in the hospital loving on my little baby- now you're toddler. The last two years you have brought so much joy to our lives; I'm so happy the God chose me to be your mom.

As I have said in the first birthday letter, you are the best gift that I your father and I could have given our family. The way Riley loves you and protects you makes my heart melt. The sister bond you both share was inevitable from the start.

Sometimes I look at you and wonder how this sweet, dimple faced, bright smiled girl is my daughter. You have a way of lighting up the room when you walk in. You have an innocence about you that makes even the greyest of days go away. You love life.

Sleeping and eating are still your favorite. You will run a mile for food if you had to. You don't love vegetables but you make up in gold fish what you lack in veggies. You love your Eeyore; you won't go anywhere without him. He is your best friend (besides your sister).

Since you have turned two, you have started climbing out of your crib, you have your own objections to things and want what you want. You love to go on the potty (with your diaper on) because that's what your big sister does.

I can't really think of many things you don't like because you are such a easy going, happy kid. I never have to use the same tough love that I use on Riley with you; you feel horrible when you do something wrong. It melts my heart to see you cry.

You are a total daddy's girl but love to hang with mommy when she is putting on her make up and doing her hair. I hope our bond continues to grow as you get older; I know that you will be my girly girl that loves dance, tutus, dress up and more. I can't wait for the days we go shopping and you talk about all your friends and boy troubles.

Our lives have changed over the past two years: We moved to Ohio, your uncle Corey got married to aunt Cassidy and now you are going to have a baby cousin Braxton. Life goes fast and  sometimes you get lost in the mix of Riley's therapy and mom's crazy schedule but always remember Baby girl, you are the light in our family that shined and made us whole. I will forever remember the feeling you gave me during your first year of life that no one could ever replace.

I love you to the moon and back. I love you more then Netflix; more then bananas and peanut butter and more then Panera coffee.

Love, Mom

Sunday, July 19, 2015

What Would You Do if you Weren't Afraid?

Working in higher education, I often have the opportunity to ask high school and new college students "what do you want to be when you grow up"? Sometimes it makes me think about when I was growing up and what my ultimate goal was going to be. I know for certain higher education administration wasn't one of those goals, and to be honest, it wasn't even a glimpse in my mind when I started college.

I started Kent State University as a business student with a hope to someday take over the world with my management tactics (or something businesslike); until I got my first on campus job at the Rec Center as an intramural referee. For the next couple years and I learned how to referee a good volleyball game, follow a good checklist, and make sure people were safe when at the rec center. My goals of business then slowly diminished and I found something I loved; something that I had a passion for- campus recreation.

My career in campus recreation and higher education has taken me down so many different paths that I didn't see coming. I've learned so much about campus rec, advising, admissions, student life, career services and student development working in different areas of the college. I've worked at universities that are in rural areas and the communities are surrounded by it; I've worked in a an urban setting where it's mostly commuter and traffic makes your morning commute interesting; I've also worked at the two year college where recruitment and retention mean all the different to the services we provide.

I just got finished reading the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (the CEO of Facebook), and it  related women moving up the ladder more like a jungle gym then a ladder. So many times we think we have to keep moving in one direction, but on a jungle gym there are many ways to move up and become successful. We focus on one goal; one priority and think we have to keep moving in that direction or we will loose everything we've worked for. Or is it because we're scared.

What if we stopped asking "what if" and started asking ourselves "what next"? What is my next step? What can I learn next? Where do I go from here? We tend to focus on staying in one place because that's what we know and where we are comfortable.

I remember when I had Riley and Emerson feeling guilty even thinking "what's next". Why did I have to keep going and going when I was starting a family? That question is asks by a lot of mothers and it holds women back because of the fear they have to choose between our family and our success. We don't have to choose. I can have a successful career, and be the best mom I can be. We make sacrifices and we learn how to prioritize better than we ever have, but we make it work.

This year brings me new opportunities and new challenges. I will continue to learn and grow for ALL of my experience and continue to strive for excellence in student development and higher education. What would I do if I wasn't scared? I would accept a new position in Ohio and hit the road with Josh, myself and our two beautiful girls. Buckeye nation here we come!