Monday, November 30, 2009

good things

on a day full of deadlines, still thankful for so many good things:
citrus season
oh oranges and clementines, i adore you!
my mom's lemon meringue pie
fall in the bay area
when little m signs bird & says "twt, twt"
fall colors, northern california style
playtime on the floor
long car rides with the one you love
(little m napping circa a year ago)
time to be still and reflect on this season
the sound of my mother playing piano
made even better when little m is sitting next to her, adding a few notes to the melody

Sunday, November 29, 2009

oh goodness.

dear blog,

i am scrambling to finish some freelance deadlines & working in every spare moment that i can find, so i will have to neglect you (at least until tomorrow). 

be kind today, and remember it is ok to hit the snooze button more than once on a monday morning just back from the holiday. (well, i think it's ok to hit the snooze button any day of the week...) unless you have a little munchkin, and it that case, snooze buttons no longer exist.

meanwhile, does anyone have specific suggestions for how to slow down, de-commercialize, and be intentional during this advent and christmas season? i don't want to get sucked in to all of the hub-bub and craziness...


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


i am so grateful.
this week is thanksgiving. 
this week also marks 8 months since my daughter's cochlear implants were turned on. 8 months since my daughter has had access to sound and she is learning to listen and talk. her language is exploding. suddenly she understands words i didn't even know she knew: sweater, trash can, balloon... just like any 19 month old, she says "no" quite adamantly if i ask her to do something that she doesn't feel like doing. this week for the first time she began putting multiple words together to form phrases. now all day long she is pointing at things and saying, "what is that?" ("was-sat?") today she said the word elephant while reading with her grandma. three syllables! (well, it sounded more like el-e-tant, but let's not split hairs)

it is literally a miracle.

my deaf daughter dances to music, says her own name, startles to loud sounds, signs bird and says 'tweet tweet' when she hears the birds in our front yard singing.

but this gift of sound hasn't happened in a vacuum.

every single day i am grateful for all of the people who have joined us on this journey so that little m can hear.

i am often in awe of the men and women who work in pediatric hearing loss; they are kind hearted, loyal and patient despite heavy case loads and long days.

we have had the gift of support from the earliest days.

i am grateful for my friend mary claire, who happens to be a teacher of the deaf, and who has been a support, invaluable source of information & guidance, a sounding board and an advocate from the very first hearing test that little m failed.

i am thankful for the individuals who we worked with at children's hospital oakland, who treated our tiny baby so well as she took countless tests, saw specialists & screamed her way through it all. we were so fragile. they were so very kind.

i am grateful for the audiologists who have embraced little m from her very first appointments & made it a joy to come see them, even when the appointment is 3 hours long. i can't tell you how many times over the past year and a half in audiology appointments i have had to nurse little m, change her diaper on the floor of the office, or swap out 50 different toys to keep her entertained. thank you for teaching us everything from how to wrangle hearing aids on a 3 month old to how to use wig tape to keep her implants on. i remember thinking that sarah, our audiologist, who dropped the bomb on us that little m was deaf, had the most awful job. i told her that later, and she said, "but i get to see what happens next. and these kids are incredible."

thank you sarah, annie, and jen.

i am grateful for little m's school for the deaf, jwposd.
i am grateful for the people we have worked with at oakland school district who have been flexible, understanding, and who fund my daughter's participation in this school.

i am grateful for her teacher, sally, and aide, matt, who are incredibly creative and who can keep up with 6 busy toddlers. matt and i are constantly in awe of what a good teacher sally is. 

i am grateful for karen, who teaches morning music with such fun and spunk; it is the highlight of my daughter's morning.

i am grateful for all of the staff at jwposd, who know each child by name, who work every day to teach deaf children to listen and talk, and who treat us like family. i never thought my baby would be in school so young, but it is truly a special place.
i am grateful for sharon, who has been little m's therapist at jwposd for the last year, and who loves her even on her difficult days. i can't tell you what a gift it is to know that the people who are working with your child want to be working with your child. i don't know what we would do without sharon. she is such a gentle, loving, genuine person, and somehow she can keep my daughter engaged for 40 minutes straight. she goes out of her way to be supportive and to guide us in being little m's primary 24-7 therapists. i learn so much from just watching her every week.

both sally and sharon act as if there is nowhere they would rather be than with you and your child, even though you know they each have a crazy long list of things to do.

(on the phone with amy at let them hear, finding out m's surgery had been approved in february)
i am grateful for the let them hear foundation, and for amy henderson brown, the amazing lawyer at let them hear. when our insurance rejected my daughter's cochlear implant surgery, she advocated tirelessly for my daughter. she has far more energy & can talk way faster than i do! my daughter got her surgery when she did because of amy's persistence and efforts. she is amazing.
i am grateful for the surgeons who not only performed little m's surgery quickly and safely, but somehow they left almost no scar at all! i had so much confidence in dr. roberson that i was completely at peace throughout her whole surgery. i am also so thankful for their staff; every time we go to an appointment at california ear institute, the front desk makes us feel like our daughter is a rock star.
i am grateful for my husband matt
for so many reasons. 
i love that he goes to therapy and school with our daughter. i love that he does as much to teach her how to listen as i do. i love that he loves our daughter so well, and because we are two totally different people, he loves her in ways i could never begin to. i love that he sings to her, says, "i hear that" constantly, and follows through on all of the ways we are supposed to work with m on listening and talking. i am grateful for his steadfast support through the peaks and valleys of deafness.
i am grateful for family and friends that have supported us on this journey, even when they didn't know what to do or say. i am grateful for the way each of them has been walking alongside us, and caring for us as we learn how to be parents to a deaf daughter. thank you.

finally, i am thankful for the dear ones i have met through this forum, through my blog. some of you have become friends in "real life," and you are a gift to me. some of you write comments or shoot me emails, and i know i am not alone. some of you have deaf children or children with hearing loss, some of you don't. either way, i am thankful for this space and the support i have found here. thank you for making this a place for me to be real about the good and the hard.

this journey is not over; it has just begun, but it has been so much easier because of these individuals who have been with us along the way.

i am grateful.
thank you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

one year

wow. a lot happens in a year. 
a year ago today my dear friend amy had her sweet little baby judah
here we are,
nancy, amy and i, post baby.
these roommates (and by roommate i mean cram-together-and-get-ready-in-one-bathroom, crawl-into each-other's-beds-and-talk-about-boy traumas, laugh-and-cry-and-fight-together,be each-others-emergency-contacts-and-number-one-fans as opposed to pick-some-random-rent-payer-up-on-craigslist roommate.) are my very dear, with history, shared joy and sorrow friends. so roommate carries even more weight than to say my friend. to say my roommate is to say my sister, my family.

when we roommates all got pregnant 4 months apart 
matt rolled his eyes, 
shook his head, and said "you three can't do anything by yourselves." 
why would we want to do anything by ourselves when we can do it together? 
luckily having kids that are at the most 8 months apart 
also ensures that little m is guaranteed a prom date.

here we are, as of a year ago, all of us mommies.

happy birthday judah!
then i realized maybe i should include david, 
since he is the daddy, with his sweet brand new baby boy, circa november 23 2008.
yay for roommates, babies, birthdays and histories that intertwine!

Friday, November 20, 2009

somewhere out there

(somewhere out there from an american tail)

every thursday night matt and i hang out with a group of friends to share a meal (sometimes), and to talk about life, community, meaning, purpose, and ask some of the deeper questions that are easy to push down in the rush of day to day life. (of course, we also talk about mundane stuff too with a dash of celebrity trash thrown in.) 

last night, we held our annual pre-thanksgiving/immigration stories dinner. hmmm, you may say, what the crap is an immigration stories dinner?! since we randomly made it up a few years ago. it is pot luck style, and we divvy up the traditional thanksgiving meal between ourselves. (among other yummy items, nancy braved the turkey this year and i made my mom's amazingly delicious stuffing recipe. so. so. good.) as we eat, we share as much as we know of our individual family's story of coming to america. 

last night our stories ranged from the "longest on american soil" keith, who basically had relatives who came over with columbus on the nina, pinta and santa maria and never left (that might be a slight exxageration, but not by much...), to connie, whose parents were both born and raised in china before moving here forty years ago. 

of course, by now we've heard each others stories a few times, but in each history there are little nuggets that we love to revisit- some tragic, others funny, others a riddle that we try to figure out. our friend peter wins the award for having the most twists, turns, and mysteries, but the reality is that each of our stories is a rich gift to share with each other. every single one of us (aside from native americans) has a story of coming to this country and being the foreigner. 

in our room of 7 people, we represented family members from sicily, sweden, egypt, sudan, russia, germany, england, scotland, indonesia, mexico, france, china, and japan. 

it is rare in our culture to sit down and talk to each other (and listen) about where we come from and the people who have come before us. (well, it isn't so unusual for my aunts fern emma and audrey, who are very impressive researchers, and i think could tell me my entire maternal geneology going back to adam and eve...or for my dad and uncle martin, who have literally gone to extreme lengths to find out about their ancestors like making my college roommates approach strangers in dobel, germany) 

inevitably our annual dinner leaves us with more questions, and the assignment to "go ask your dad this!" or "go interview your grandma about that!" 

it has become a way that as friends we are more connected to each other, and we know more about each other's extended families and roots. we discover how our parents met each other, or when our family stopped speaking german, or who fought in what wars and on what side.

plus it gives good conversation topics for thanksgiving whether you are with friends or family. it is the perfect opportunity to ask stories about your family or someone else's as you down another slice of pumpkin pie.

i'll leave you with two quick ones about my own:
  • so just maybe the town of dobel, germany raised the money to ship my ancestors to america because they caused that much trouble and were a huge strain on the local economy. ouch. it cost less to send my entire family to america then it did to let them stay around being slackers.
  • on my grandmother fern kimmel's side, we had relatives come over to the massachusetts bay colony.
how about you? any good tidbits on your family? 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

i just called to say...

(sidebar: this is how i know i am a mom. i post photos and pretend to write in little m's voice. 
i promise not to do it again, i just couldn't resist.)
hmm. who should i text?
or maybe my new cousin sadie?
i don't think she can text yet.
i'll just call her.
looks like it's going through...
want to hang out later? 
you can sleep and i'll try to hold you
or just play with all of your new baby stuff.

dinner, dancing & deafness

(ok, no dancing, except by little m in the on)

on saturday night matt, my mom, my friends amy & nancy, and i all snuggled into my car and headed to the annual benefit for little m's school. i didn't quite know what to expect, as it was our first year attending even though little m was going to the school last year too. (how amazing to think that she has now been in school since she was 6 months old!)

(my handsome husband and pretty mommy)

(my beautiful friends nancy & amy)

there was the usual benefit fare: 
a theme 
(in our case, "the love boat" even though there was no boat to be seen. in fact, we were quite landlocked, which especially when the promotional postcard has a big boat in the water on it seems a little misleading...but there was nautical stuff galore to make up for it), 
a silent auction, a live auction, people who you usually see in jeans dressed up in fancy clothes, some casino night action, thematic centerpieces on all of the tables, and so on.

(crowd shot,
the nautical centerpiece + 
sidenote, also the piece of chocolate cake, 
which was so so yummy 
{it kind of exceeded my low expectations})
our dear friend mary claire, who used to teach at little m's school, jean weingarten peninsula oral school for the deaf, was volunteering at the event, so we got to hang out with her for a few minutes while she wasn't working. 

after the food, and milling about the silent auction, the head of the school introduced the evening and a video about the school. the theme of her short speech & of the video was "a journey of hope." as she spoke, i found my eyes filling with tears- the kind that just come even if you will them not to. 

she talked about how when one normally goes on a journey it is something planned for and anticipated. the families at little m's school didn't plan to be on this journey. we didn't plan to be at a school for the deaf with a child who was born deaf, with hearing loss, or with a syndrome. 

and yet, her words rang true. the last year and a half has been a journey of hope for us. here i was surrounded by people who i never would have met otherwise: audiologists, teachers, therapists, surgeons, other families from the school. my heart just swelled in gratitude for these many individuals who have been a part of our journey- friends, professionals, professionals who have become friends.

as we watched the video, narrated by a graduate of the school who is profoundly deaf, in the 5th grade now, and who has bilateral cochlear implants, more tears came. half-way through the brief video was a clip of our little m at morning music, dancing and laughing. what a joy she is. what a gift we've been given. and what a journey we are on.

my tears turned to laughter when nancy and amy decided to bid in the live auction. let me remind you: we have no money. notice how we are in the back row? that's where they put the people who don't bid on anything. just saying.

i half expected nancy to accidentally end up with a $4000 weekend in napa. (it's for the kids!)
but luckily they were just instrumental in starting the bidding, 
and they escaped with bank accounts intact.
(and without inciting the wrath of their husbands for bidding on a personal chef or house in hawaii)

my awesome friend hannah, whose daughter viv is the cutest thing maybe ever besides little m, raised $750 by putting 6 months of her fabulous baking up on the auction block!

so thankful for each person at little m's school - 
for the other kids who little m learns from and plays with, for fellow parents, and for the staff who gives so much so that our children can learn to listen and talk.

and thankful that we have had dear ones on this journey with us.

Monday, November 16, 2009

who needs a sticker album...

...when you have a face?
someone has discovered the joy of stickers
and she likes to share

ps um, i look about twice my age in this picture. 
sleepy, wrinkly, puffy eyes after a late night (more on that in my next post)

Friday, November 13, 2009

happy friday!

i am still enthralled by these old family photos i've scanned, 
so here are a couple i am currently loving:
me, looking quite distraught, 
and wearing an interesting fashion statement, 
circa 5 years old
my mom, my brother jonathan & i, when my mom was pregnant with rebecca
i love this one.
my mom and i, on the car ferry to peaks island, maine.
and i love this one for about twenty reasons.

have a wonderful weekend!
i am going to snuggle my new niece some more,
have dinner with friends tonight
(and i think lemon bars are involved at some point),
go to the annual benefit for little m's school for the deaf
figure the rest out along the way.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


my beautiful new niece, sadie fern anderson. 
she is absolutely beautiful.
born at 12:44 am
november 12, 2009
7 lbs. 13 oz.

her middle name fern is a family name: 
grandmother fern eloyse (where i get my middle name eloyse) & aunt fern emma (who is a wonderful aunt, a devoted blog reader, and way too far away in michigan)
it took quite the journey to get her out into the world. a very long and frustrating labor which, as it usually goes, didn't go according to plan, but culminated in this amazing miracle of a human being! 

we did some waiting as mama rebecca labored hard into the night.
once it was all done,
we got to meet her!

i get to be an aunt!
dear rebecca, 
you are an amazingly strong mama already! 
you worked so hard to bring sadie into the world, 
and with such grace and humor (even when things were kind of crappy.) 
you are courageous and determined and loving, and you are just beginning this new adventure. blessings on you as you rest and snuggle and heal.
dear mark, it was incredible to watch you support rebecca in labor. 
you were kind and loving and a good listener and partner despite exhaustion.
what a gift you are to each other, and now what a gift you will be to your new daughter.

dear sadie, we love every inch of you. 
i can't wait to read you blueberries for sal and corduroy,
to take you to look at art, 
to make big old messes, 
to catch you being silly with little m, 
to bake cookies with you, 
to give you auntie advice, 
to tell you stories about your grandma and your mommy when she was a little girl, 
to give you hugs and snuggles from now until i am wrinkled and gray. 
we are so glad you are joining our growing family. 

grandma can't wait to have you come play at her house.
sleep well for your mama and daddy, they are very tired.
we are here to play with you when you come home!
love, aunt susannah
(p.s. little m may be a bit jealous at first- don't worry, she will get over it)

baby love

little m is currently quite enthralled with babies.
as in, cloth ones, plastic ones, and real-live breathing ones.
(which is a good thing because she became a cousin today 
with a brand new itty bitty baby! 
more on that later)
yesterday she was eating popcorn with her baby.
some for little m...
some for baby
a little more sharing.
 the popcorn goes towards baby's mouth and
then takes a quick turn and gets plopped into m's mouth. 
if only she shared her snacks so freely with real live humans.
checking in, with a little hug and snuggle
(wonder where she learned that?)

looks like she'll be a great cousin- 
as long as she doesn't try to feed rebecca and mark's newborn popcorn!