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!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What we now know about language development

Having a child with hearing loss has taught me so much about language development than I ever thought I would care to know. It not only has helped us understand what Riley is going through with her therapy, but given us the tools to help Emerson develop language and reach her milestones as well. While I am in no way an professional in this field, I can tell you some of the things we have learned along the way.

1. Language is more than talking: There are so many different forms of language: spoken, sign, bilingual, non verbal, conversation and many more I'm sure I'm not aware of. On average, kids have to hear a word 500 times before they will start develop that word in their language. Language is also about having a conversation. When you ask a question, most of the time your voice goes up; Your tone of your voice determines how someone would respond. All of these things are taught at a very young age. Emerson is starting to babble and I talk right with her; she will start and I will jump right in. I make it a conscious effort to talk adult talk and not baby talk; it teaches her about taking turns in conversations.

 If I were to give you one tip on language development it is this: whatever language you choose teach your child, it will be their first language. If its sign language, that's great, but remember it could be difficult to teach them English language after that. Their brain will think sign language (or Spanish or French) is their first language and it could be difficult to develop later (could be).

2. Talk: Any talk again. In fact you will talk so much that you can't stand your own voice anymore. If I'm making mac and cheese,  my conversation could go like this: Mommy's making macaroni and cheese, stir the water, pour in the milk; milk is white. Shake the cheese, cheese is yellow. cheese is yummy. Smell the cheese, we love cheese. Pour the macaroni in cheese in the sink. Pour it in the pan...etc. I think you get the drift. Describing is all we do and it has helped so much. Sometimes we focus on the nouns in our language (truck, mom, dad, baby) that we forget the verbs, adjectives, and propositions that go into a complete sentence.

3. Hearing vs. Listening: This should actually be number one because it is the most important to us in our therapy. Hearing and language actually come from the brain, not the ear; the ear is a way to the brain so that is what we mainly focus on. I know riley can hear, the audiograms tell us so, but is she listening? I have to give her commands, like "throw the paper in the trash can", without cues of what she should be done. No pointing. If she can throw the paper in the trash can then she is listening. She understands what she should be doing. When we are in a crowded environments or she is babbling on and upset, we stop and I tell her to listen. She will put her finger to her ear and we listen. If she stops and takes herself out of the environment and concentrates on listening, she can calm down and hear what we are asking.

4. Receptive understanding comes first: This pigtails off the last one. If she can understand what the difference between milk and water, or if she wants to wear shorts or a dress, spoken language won't be far behind. We have to give her time to understand things before she can say them. A couple weeks ago we couldn't understand why she wasn't saying "mommy or daddy" but goes on and on about Emmy and the kids at daycare all day. We figured out that we don't say "mommy and daddy" as much as we talk about everyone else. I wont say "daddy hand me the spoon" or "daddy how was your day", in our everyday language so she isn't getting that. We can't assume she knows things that we aren't providing her with.

5. Repeat them instead of correcting them: Riley doesn't have language where a lot of people can understand her yet. So when she says something, I try to correct her by repeating. Ex: If Riley says "dada" or "Emmyson", I will say, "Yes that is daddy" (not dada), or "Emerson" so she can hear the correct way to say it. If I keep talking how she is, then she won't know the correct words for things. Sorry, no nicknames for toys here:)

6. Patience: Language development takes time. A child's first word is something that she can say, in context, without imitation. Emerson saying "dada" when she's crawling around the floor is not in context. If she drops her food and says "uh oh", then that's a word (or language). Riley has about 75 words now!! These are words that she can say without me saying it first. If I hold up an apple and she can say "apple" or some sort of approximation, then that goes on our auditory index as a word.

While we are no where near where we want to be, everyday I see new developments in Riley. I see how she understands so much more and is starting to put two or three word phrases together. She understands how to listen, and use her brain to make decisions based on hearing, not visual.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

To my best friend on her wedding day

Dear Katie,

Wow! I can't believe this day is finally here. The day that you get to become one with the guy of your dreams. The guy I chose to become yours, the guy that makes you a better person. Your wedding day. This day means so much to me and I can't believe I'm here to celebrate every moment with you. The road that it took for you to finally find happiness is one long journey that only the few understand.

We have been friends for over 20 years and I don't think you really understand what all that means to me. I never had sisters but you, Leslie and Jill took that role. You know my strengths, you know my weaknesses; you know what I fear and you know what makes me happy. You know when I'm in a bad situation and you know when I need a big hug. You have supported me through all my decisions good or bad, and you never judge a thing.

Take today slow. Your wedding day it will be one of your best moments of your life, however it goes fast. Enjoy it! As much as today is about the wedding, today is really about the marriage. Even though I've only been married for four years I can tell you that sometimes it is hard. You get things that are thrown at you that you don't plan for. You will fight (probably before the end of the week), and it's okay. remember to love each other even when you don't like each other. Remember to always put Jay first, even when you have four kids running around. Remember to communicate, and most important remember to compromise.

they say that some people come into your life for a reason. Well i say that some people STAY in your life for a reason. Even though everybody is spread out miles and miles away, the coo coos will live on because birds of a feather flock together. 

Love you!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Letter to my Second Child on her Birthday

Dear Emerson,

Its only fitting that your annual blog post be in second child fashion- late. Time goes by so fast and before I could blink twice, your first birthday was here, then it was gone. You're one. You eat real food and sleep like a big kid with a big blanket. You move around and want to be by your sister all the time and you love your daddy. So many things I've been noticing this week and thought "when did that happen", then life gets busy again and I lose track of time again.

I want to say I'm sorry. I'm sorry I don't know all your facts like how much you weight, height, what your favorite foods are or if you even have teeth. I didn't record each week I was pregnant with you, or make a monthly update for each milestone you hit. Heck, to be honest, I really don't know what month it is half the time. I'm sorry I didn't make you a birthday book or a video movie, or anything really, for your first year of life.

I'm sorry you get hand-me-downs and have to wear what Riley either didn't like or grew out too soon. I'm sorry that there might be grass stains on your shoes or sweet potatoes on your onesies. I'm sorry that you have to share most of your clothes, accessories and toys with your sister; they were hers once. There are so many things I did differently with you then Riley and I'm sorry I didn't do hours research on baby bottles, car seats, cribs and everything else needed to keep a baby alive. I'm sorry.

There is so many things I did differently with you than I did with your sister. Whenever you feel that second child syndrome feeling coming on, know this: you saved me. So many moms say that their children "save them" and now I understand what it means; I feel that way with you. Riley changed me, you saved me.

When Riley was born and I found out she was deaf, I was in shock. I was scared; I felt the most pain and fear I have ever felt in my entire life. I went the whole year very depressed and in a constant state of fear and always waiting for the next bad phone call. I was quiet, reserved, undetermined and wasn't sure what the future would hold. Then you were born.

You have given my those first mother moments that I didn't have with Riley. You smiled when I said your name, you laugh when you hear me laugh, you danced when you heard music; those are things that I didn't have in the first 12 months of Riley's life. All of a sudden I felt like things were going to be okay. I didn't have to spend all day worrying about Riley's therapy and what the next step was; I had another beautiful baby that needed me as much as Riley did.

So while there is so much I am sorry for, it is you that I am so thankful for. It is you that makes your sister smile every morning when she runs in your room to wake you up and It is you that makes this family of four complete (for now) and back on the right track.

Happy Birthday Emmy! We love you more then Starbuck's green tea, more then springtime, and way more then sports talk radio (from your dad).



Monday, January 26, 2015

Tough Little Boys...

So many times I watch Josh talk about his little girls, and he immediately lights up; the moment you realize they are the light in his eye, the loves of his life, his little girls.

People tell me all the time how Emmy or Riley is a "daddy's girl" and to be honest, it makes me giddy to hear those kind words! You see, I never imagined myself as a girl mom. NOPE, I was always going to be a boy mom, but God had other plans for me. Most of you that know me know that growing up I was always a daddy's girl, so naturally the fact that my babies are daddy's girls make me smile.

I secretly daydream of their wedding day when they are given away by their daddy; I will definitely have to hold him while he cry's like a baby. I listen to countless songs like " Tough Little Boys" and " Daddy's be Good to Your Daughters", and think about those days.

Josh is like a mom/dad, a moad if you want to call it. He is very hands on. Every SINGLE morning he gets up with the girls, feeds Emmy and gets their bag ready for the day. He goes to work, outside, with his hands, then picks them up from daycare. Every. Single. Day. He feeds Emmy dinner and also cleans up dinner. Every. Single. Day. He loves to do laundry and anyone that knows me knows my house is always clean because of him; basically he's the wife I never had!

He's the dad that is watching the Superbowl while dressed in a princess outfit because it makes the girls happy. He is silly; he loves to pretend play. He tells them they are beautiful every  morning and I think Riley is actually starting to secretly love it. She goes running for him every time she gets dressed in the morning. Makes me all mushy; I did the same thing.

The girls adore and love him. That makes my heart happy. I don't get jealous. I understand I'm the parent that is strict, I am the one that will constant push them and be honest. I'm okay with that.

While moms get all the love when it comes to raising kids, here's a shout out to all the dad's out there. I know a lot of girl dad's and it makes my sappy when I see a daughter and her daddy. To any dad's reading this: While the girls look to moms for beauty, cooking and fashion advice, you dad's have the hardest job of all: showing the girls how they should be treated by the way you love their mama. You are their first love.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Advice for New Moms

Being a mom is not what I thought it would be. Its the scariest, most terrifying, uncomfortable, and unbelievably rewarding thing I have ever done. Some days I sit back and admire my two daughters and how beautiful they are becoming; there are other days when I wave my red flag and hope someone comes in my door to let me know I'm on hidden video or something. Motherhood is full of unplanned, unpredictable, crazy moments, and for the type A personality...this could be challenging.

Good thing for my family and everyone that comes in contact with us that I am the complete opposite of type A. I think I'm actually type W or something. I adapt to change easy, I hate to clean and organize; nothing, I mean nothing, has a proper place and if I loose something, I will just buy another!

When you're a new mom everyone is giving you advice. You read blogs, facebook, try to plan your life according to other peoples experience. Stop now! Now that I look back on my first year of motherhood I laugh. The things I thought I wouldn't do, I do (like all the time).

1. Each baby (situation) is different. I've had so many moms give me advice on bottles, wipes, diapers, co sleeping, milestones...etc. Each baby is different and you have to adjust. I wasn't able to breastfeed because I didn't produce any milk. I cried. I felt the worst mom in the history of all moms but I had to adjust. I had to change my plan. My baby needed food and that was my main priority. Riley loved Tommy Tippie bottles, Em will only take Doctor Brown. Be flexible. If your baby doesn't like something, switch it. Just because your favorite cousin did things one way doesn't mean you have to do things the same. Do what's best for  you and your family.

2. Don't take things for granted: Being a mom is a huge change in your life. Well imagine being a new mom and getting news that something is terrible wrong, in the same day! One moment can change your life. That is the moment you realize that you have to work harder than you have ever worked, pray harder then your ever prayed, and sacrifice more than you have ever sacrificed. Being a mom will push you to your limits and each family will go through their own trails and hardships in their lifetime.  I know it's kind of cliché but life throws curveballs and sometimes that makes us better in the long run. Enjoy the moments.

3. If you don't want to be bothered, don't: Sometimes it's okay to not want company. So many people will want to come over, meet the baby and provide support. Which is fine but you are tired, like really tired. Sometimes you just want to be by yourself with your new love. That's okay. You aren't obligated to do anything you don't have to . This is your time, your memory.

4. Do you. Be you. Don't let motherhood consume you: You can still be a good mom and be the person you have always been. You can have fun, have girl nights out, look on pinterest for non baby things and drink wine. If you let motherhood consume you then you loose a part of yourself. I am totally guilty of this and can not judge. The first year of Riley's life I was consumed with her. I had to give her every opportunity, do countless hours of therapy and would stop at nothing to make sure she had everything she needed. I lost me. Take some time for embrace motherhood and who you are becoming as a mother, woman and wife, but don't loose the you, you love.

Being a first time mom is the greatest thing to most moms, but to me it was scary. Trying to keep a newborn fed, alive and happy was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. I didn't know anything about sleep training, baby food, or even milestones. I wasn't a mom that read up on everything, knew random statistic, or even realized that babies were supposed to do things by certain months.  I relied on advice to get me though.

It seems funny that I am now the one attempting to give advice when I actually don't know a thing about parenting. I parent day to day. I don't have a plan. I don't know what tomorrow will bring and I adapt to whatever that day may bring. Tomorrow is a new day and will certainly bring new challenges, but today is the day! Today is the day you are living and todays is the day to love your kids the best way you know how!