Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Year's Resolution

Paul asked me the other day what my New Year's resolution was and could I tell it? As if it was a birthday wish, you know, and if you tell it won't come true. I giggled and said, "Yes you can tell it." My mind went through a flurry of New Year's resoultions from the past 12/24 years I have made (I'm guessing knowing myself I started at age 10) that were probably all the same or at least similar-get fit, lose 10 lbs, work out every day, eat healthy! Not this year. I will be 34 in a few months, and I have learned something oh so important- LIFE IS SHORT. All this was going through my mind, and I told Paul, "I know what it is. Have fun." Period. Nothing else. It's just that deep. As a wife I have been harder on myself than anyone possibly could, certainly given myself less credit than even a stranger would give me. As a mom all the things done right are clouded by all the things I didn't have time to do or times when I was completely stressed out and didn't even rank sub par that day. No more. How can we wives and moms love others when we don't give ourselves permission to love ourselves and have a little FUN.
The happiest times with my husband have been on vacations, on our bikes, on dates, laughing in our bed. Why? We were having fun. The same goes with my children. If I can put off something this year and replace it with fun I am going to do it. If I can take a chore or work and make it fun I know I will be able to tolerate it. Same with exercise. So that's it. I know this could be the best year ever if I can achieve this resolution-Have fun. I am tempted to not even get on a scale this year to measure my success or failure or any other assessment of self. Because that brings stress and disappointment. My assessment for 2013 will be this-How much do I smile? How often do I laugh? I envision a lot more basketball playing with my kids, more football throwing, game playing, trips to park,zoo, museums, walking around town with girlfriends, GNOs, dancing, yoga, bike riding, listening to music, reaching out to help people, cooking for my family, dessert, staying up late to talk. I have a feeling everything else will fall right into place or I won't even care because I am busy living life to the fullest and having fun.
Questions we women should eliminate from our brains-Does this make me look fat? Do you like this outfit? Will I have time? Will they be disppointed? What does he/she think of me? Does he or she like me? Will I look silly? Can I fit this in my schedule? Rule of fun-festivals, music, food, festivities, movies, favorites, floats (all kinds) books, magazines, feeling good, feeling pretty, fancy, friends, being friendly,scenic walks, hiking in the forest, feeling a cool breeze, frolicking, football, sports, fitness, family, journaling, accepting yourself...

Saturday, December 15, 2012


"Teacher" becomes a part of you.

It's not a job or role.

It's you.

Get two teachers together no matter if they are strangers to one another and they can talk for hours. They know. They know the dedication, the patience, the management it takes but most of all the love. This is what is breaking my heart about this tragedy in Connecticut. Not the hate and evil but the love. The love that those students have for each other as peers and friends and classmates. The love they have and trust for their teachers they see everyday all day. The love they have for their parents and siblings and the parents' love for them.

What breaks my heart is that someone was hurting so bad that he had to take all of that love and turn it to sorrow. So much talk about drills, guns, safety. I don't have any answers. I have spent the last two days trying not to think of my own class of children and not break down in tears. I've unintentionally found my mind wandering to all the "safe places" in our building-places with no windows and a lock on the door-the custodian closet, the faculty bathrooms, the computer closet, the kitchen in the cafeteria, the gym closet. Then I shake out of it and pray I will never face a moment as those teachers and staff did where they had to get to those safe places.

This morning as I hugged my own kindergartener I just cried thinking of his smallness. His innocence. How afraid those children and adults were. When I read the heroic stories of teachers, the principal, and custodian that saved lives, hid children, and then faced death, I know every teacher I have ever met would have done the same. No matter what their evaluation said or how long they have taught that's what we are trained to do-love and protect these children while they are entrusted to us. Head counts, blowing our whistle at recess if they get rough, practicing drills.

I will probably never react again to criticism of "the school system" or evaluations or the teaching profession because I know what every other teacher knows. We love these children and we would give it all to protect them. I know every teacher grieves today thinking of what happened. I would love nothing more than to enjoy my sweet children and husband today and call my loved ones who are far from me and try to get this story out of my head. I will be praying for this community each day for a very long time. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, office workers, the students in the entire school. So many were affected so many hurt in so many ways.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Growing on Me

It took me 3 years to fall in love with Chattanooga.

The first two were changing schools and getting settled and meeting people.

The 3rd year is when I met my best friends. That's why I loved Chattanooga.

My friends.

Leaving Chattanooga was leaving them. Although after being gone for 2 years I am relieved to know I never left them. We still talk all the time-daily, weekly, and visit often in person. Leaving people I love was something I'd done before. I still remember the moving truck pulling away from Louisiana, and I remember driving away from my mom, sister, nephew, aunt, and uncle. I probably would have been even more devastated had I known I'd be away for so long. But now I guess I could say I am falling for Nashville. The culture, the city, and most of all the people.

I was looking for some party heels today and had tried on a few pair. I told the sales girl at Dillards I was going for sexy, but I really liked one pair that were red patent leather with a thicker heal. She said, "Well, these look like something a teacher would wear!" I fell over laughing and said, "That's the problem, I AM a teacher! And that's the kind of shoe I keep getting." I said, "If my girlfriends were here they would make me get the sexy shoe." She said, "Well, they're not, but I'm here and I'm not letting you buy this."

I said, "Really? I can't buy this red shoe?" She said, "No, it's just not sexy enough."

This is the exact reason I was made to live in the South. Number one-girlfriends are the zest of life. Number two- when they aren't out with you shopping, any old sales girl will pop in and take that role if needed. People are friendly. I love friendly. I guess Nashville has grown on me because of the new wonderful friends I have made. I have grown to like them so much. We've had girls nights out, girls night in, shopping expeditions, manis and pedis (a few times). We know which salons serve wine and which don't! I went to a baby shower today of a wonderful friend and I thought, I'm staying here (in Nashville). I will get to see that baby grow! I look forward to being able to help my friends the way they help me all the time.

I feel lucky of all the places I could have ended up....I ended up here with such a great group of friends! As I signed the receipt I thought to myself, I have taught for two years now I know 40 sets of parents and kids. People know me here now and my husband has operated on many people here. It just feels different when you live somewhere and you know you are leaving than when you live somewhere and the plan is to stay. Everything feels like more of an investment.

I can say it only took 2 years but Nashville has definetly grown on me.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cookie Day 2

Yesterday we got Cookie the elf and this morning already he has brought such fun and excitement. Why oh why didn't he come sooner? At precisely 5:30 in the morning I heard little 8 year old feet scurrying down the stairs. I yelled upstairs, "Go back to sleep and wait for your brother!" No it's not Christmas morning. Just the first night Cookie traveled to the North Pole and our first morning of his magic. After Mary came down a second time-this time with her brother, I heard of all people WARNER yell out, "NO! Don't touch him Mary, he'll lose his magic!" Turns out Cookie climbed the mini Christmas tree in the entrance and left a note-Enjoy your ride to school. Mary said, "hmmm......maybe he messed up the car!" I said, "he better not have!" The kids were eager to get on their way to school (that was a plus usually it takes forever to get everyone out the door-Thanks Cookie!) We got in the car and the kids' seats were switched. Warner's seat was on Mary's side. There was a note on the dash....Push play. Also there was a DVD case in the backseat. Even though the kids usually aren't allowed to watch movies before school because we listen to The Fish I made an exception. We watched An Elf's Story all the way to school and all the way back. I honestly thought I heard my keys jingle last night. I'm not making that up. I almost went and asked Paul to go see in the kitchen. Mary talked about Cookie all day today at school. The excitement of him moving again is unbearable. I am dieing to know where he will be in the morning.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Elf on the Shelf

I would say for the last 8 years I have heard of this "Elf on the Shelf".

I thought how high maintentance! Then all the mischief. They make messes?

What mom needs more messes around the holiday? I was thankful WE didn't have an elf.

No one really mentioned it so I figured we were safe.

I see pictures of the elf and all his hiding places secretly so glad I didn't have THAT on my mom plate too! But this year was a little different. Mary's teacher has had writing prompts about this elf. All her classmates talk about their elves....SO I pretend not to notice- Really? There's an elf? And he sits on a shelf? How boring! The past 2 days she has whined, "I want an elf."

So............... I think to myself. She is growing up so fast. She's nearly a preteen. This childhood won't last long. So after going all over town by the 4th store I locate some elves on shelves.... I avoided this moment for so long for a very good reason. I am not that kind of mom. I wake up at the last minute. I don't get up an hour before my children. They usually wake ME up. They get up at 6:30 on Saturdays...I forget things occasionally. I work and have a part time dr husband! I knew this elf culture takes more than I have to give!

But then again...the ever closing childhood thought looms. I even convince myself when I am no longer working maybe in a couple of years I would have plenty of time for an elf! Yah! and Mary will only be......11. That's not too old for an elf right? Well, time is short and kids don't stay kids forever... and I caved. So meet Cookie. Our new elf on the Shelf! ps. I had every intention of him appearing like magic at the front door in his box and everyone would be surprised and filled with wonder. I even pulled up and checked in the windows to make sure the coast was clear. Well, as me and Cookie were coming inside Mary busted us and knew right away what it was. See? THIS is why I have avoided this Elf moment. Hour 1 FAIL! Oh well. Maybe there will still be wonder and all that despite me!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Not a Good Day

Que Sera, Sera When I was just a little girl I asked my mother, what will I be Will I be pretty, will I be rich Here's what she said to me. Que Sera, Sera, Whatever will be, will be The future's not ours, to see Que Sera, Sera What will be, will be. When I was young, I fell in love I asked my sweetheart what lies ahead Will we have rainbows, day after day Here's what my sweetheart said. Que Sera, Sera, Whatever will be, will be The future's not ours, to see Que Sera, Sera What will be, will be. Now I have children of my own They ask their mother, what will I be Will I be handsome, will I be rich I tell them tenderly. Que Sera, Sera, Whatever will be, will be The future's not ours, to see Que Sera, Sera What will be, will be.
Thank You Doris Day
If only I could look like this when feeling like this

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hearing Test

Today we went to have Warner's hearing checked. His hearing teacher and Kindergarten teacher have noticed he doesn't always appear to be hearing them, and he was well over due for his yearly check. I have sat through many hearing tests. Many. I don't even know if Mary ever had one until the mandatory one in school, but Warner's thankfully started the day after he was born.

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) is the newborn screening test and because it is TN state law I was able to work with him from literally day 1 of his life and prepare for early intervention. With every hearing test I can't help but to back track in my mind the worry of my newborn being taken away for routine tests but not returning in routine time. I was worried. It was his feeding time past time actually. Paul was gone home to pick up Mary to bring her to meet her baby brother.

I called frantically to tell Paul Warner had been gone a long time and they said he wasn't passing the newborn hearing test. Everyone in that hospital said not to worry probably fluid. Even the pediatrician told me that after his 2 week check up. He said it was very rare for a child to be born with hearing loss and my pregnancy had zero complications. But I had to wait 4 whole weeks to have another more specific test run the Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR). Turns out Paul wasn't at this one either.

I'm not complaining, but this is my life. He was in the hospital but not in the room (as he was when I found out Mary was a girl-in the hospital but not in the room thanks to med school). He was on call that day in his gen surgery residency. All these monitors were stickied all to Warner's head chest and body to monitor his brain response to sounds. Paul did come in briefly and then had to leave. That was the test that told us Warner was moderately to severely hearing impaired.

I can't even describe what was going on in my head, my body only 4 weeks after his birth, my heart. The poster on the door said if your child can't hear he can't speak. I left that office pretty much a wreck. I had to pick up Mary age 3 at the time and sweet and cute as can be from the daycare. I found out also that my in laws were at my house waiting in my driveway and that my husband wouldn't be home that night. When I walked in the door to the day care the director said I looked as if I didn't get the news I wanted to hear. I took a minute at the daycare to go into Darlene Nichol's office and cry. It was not a good day. Not a good day to be alone with guests when I just wanted to be alone. To sort out the information digest it for at least 24 hours before having to announce it to anyone or explain it. The newborn test was a yes or no hearing test. It didn't tell the extent or type of loss.

We hadn't really told anyone for a few weeks to be sure after the second test. I can't say I was comforted that night or even shown any empathy as a new mom receiving this kind of news. But that is in the past. Then we tested about every month. We did the Tympanometry: Tympanograms which we also did today. They also do a bone conduction test which today they did it too (it bypasses the inner ear and conducts sound through the bone) His hearing was normal with this test.

This means his hearing impairment has something to do with his middle ear which is conductive hearing loss not neurological. We did Conditioned Play Audiometry as he grew into a toddler. We got his hearing aids at age 6 months. It took 6 months of red tape to finally get them and I was so thankful because research said I had 6 months to get those aids on him before seeing delays. We did the Pure Tone Audiometry test with high and low beeps to test frequencies. We did Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA)which is like play, and he still does this today. I know that every tympanogram will remind me of his first when he sat in my lap and we found he had ear infection after ear infection until tubes thank God.

Every test I prayed, my family prayed, my friends. Every test was a little bit better and a little better. He went from only being to hear at 79-80 decibels which is a yell to 60db. The audiologists also thought at first his hearing loss was neurological which is not a good type of loss because it is nerve related and sound is distorted when made louder and can affect speech much more. Then the next test was around 50 db which is better. They assured me this may be a mistake. The geneticist even told me neurological hearing loss usually gets worse not better.

Good thing today we know for sure his loss is conductive not neurological. Today his test showed him hearing at 35 decibals without his hearing aids on both ears. The best results we have ever gotten. The audiologist was through the school system and was so nice and positive and reassuring. I wonder what the next test will show and the next. The audiologist commented that many children his age take speech and don't have hearing loss. She commented how much on target he is for his age. She mentioned how much early intervention he has had and how it shows. She said how lucky with his conductive loss the sound increase makes everything exactly as we hear it. I feel my prayers have been answered. And while I know I have not always received the support I needed or the comfort or the understanding you may give a new mom with a child that has been diagnosed with hearing loss I survived it all.

I did receive such support through TN Early intervention. Deidra Love was like family and came from 4 weeks old to 3 years old to our home and his daycare. His speech therapists and audiologists have taught me so much and been so comforting and forthcoming with good tips and information. Because of Deidra, I was his advocate, his mom, his knight in shining armor. She helped me to be that. And I can say that because I was there. It's his story and mine. And every test that I drag Mary to and go to just the 3 of us is part of our story. I get to tell Paul after every test that there was improvement. That there was no negative change. That he is more ontarget now than ever. 5 years of hearing tests. All kinds of hearing tests and every one will bring me back to this moment in this picture. Every test.

Monday, December 3, 2012

What Matters Most

Every Christmas I am guilty of thinking, Will my kids get enough? Will they be happy with the gifts I buy them this year? Are there things that I can't afford that they want?

I was looking at this old picture today and remembering just how much I loved doing this as a child. I would get bored and my Mawmaw would ask if I wanted to go outside. She would make herself a glass of sweet tea and grab some plastic bowls and butter dishes. We would head outside. As I look closer now I realize I had a baking sheet (the wooden board), a microwave (the cardboard box), and an oven (the cinder block). I notice all my rows of perfect dirt pies or cakes. Now I understand how peaceful this must have been for my grandmother to just sit and watch and drink her tea in peace and quiet. She was probably smoking a cigarette too knowing her.

Another past time I remember is her taking me fishing on Lake Bistineau and we would get bait at the bait shop and fish with cane poles. I don't know if I had an easy bake oven. I think I did but I don't remember it or playing with it. I know I had a toy stove at home in the backyard and I did play with it. But honestly I don't remember many store bought toys the way I remember this moment in this picture. I did have toys like my bicycle, my Nintendo in 5th grade, my barbie mansion and barbie pool, my baby dolls. But mostly I remember playing on the porch on our porch swing, dressing up my cat, swinging on the rope swings my dad made me in our magnolia trees not a huge expensive swing set. I remember climbing the trees, playing in the dirt.

I didn't really watch t.v at all thank goodness we didn't have cable or I wouldn't have such an appreciation for the outdoors and exercise by playing-running, biking, swimming. Sometimes the things that matter most can't be bought. There is no price. Sometimes NOT BUYING things is the ultimate gift because it forces children to make moments and use their imagination. I am going to try my best to remember that this year during the Christmas season.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Celebrate! It's the month Jesus was Born.

Advice to My Younger Self

I took a trip down memory lane tonight looking at old pics when Mary and Warner were just babies. That baby fine blonde hair and those sweet baby faces made me yearn to have them back even if just for a moment. Then I think about how stressed, afraid, and tired I was as a new mom. I look back and think I wish I knew then what I know now-that it will all be alright so I could have enjoyed it more, worried and cried less.

I wish I would have known that Warner was going to be speaking and reading and learning despite his hearing needs. That he would be such a jokester and a likeable kid so I could have given Mary more attention. But I think about Warner now age 5 and realize that is the age when I really remember my first memories when I was a child. And Mary is turning 9 my prime memory making time. Despite all the moves. We are here. We love Nashville. We will get to settle down and build our connections. And I can start now doing all the things I would have done then in hindsight. Enjoy it more. Speak more softly. Breathe them both in like oxygen. Keep an open mind especially that they will be who they want and need to be, not what I make them or want them to be. Trust in God's plan for their lives not mine. His is always bigger and better. I see myself 5 years ago and think wow, my skin looked so much younger! Less wrinkled! Or look how tiny I was. Even though I didn't think that then. It never was enough. Another tip I am giving myself.

It was enough, more than enough! It was great! And it is now too. Because in 5 years when I'm nearing 40 I'll be saying the same thing-wow, I looked good 5 years ago (now)! We need to appreciate our youth. Our lives then and now. We need to live in the now using the advice we would give our younger selves-enjoy it because it will zoom by, appreciate yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Invest in your spirit and your mind and body will be sure to follow. Don't do things you don't want to do. Say no when you need to WITHOUT GUILT! Do what is right for your family as often as needed and Never apologize or feel guilty for it. The last piece of advice I would give my younger self is that I can do a lot more than I think physically, mentally, and emotionally. In living my best life I find it is best to think-there is NO WRONG answer.

Whatever choices I choose to make may be different than others but it's not wrong. It's my choice and my path. Here's to living without guilt and without apologies for choosing our own lives!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

So Tennessee!

A student of mine who attended a music school gave me this shirt. Apparently Keith Urban had handed them out to the students himself. Being the sweetheart she is she got one for me, her teacher. This t-shirt is one of my favorites because it's gray (let's face it gray has to be the most comfy color for pjs), it's soft, stretchy cotton, and it is one of those t-shirts that is a perfect fit-not too big, not too tight. So when I find it today deep in the bottom drawer where it has been hiding for months I had a moment of delight. When I walked in the living room I went over and leaned into Paul (knowing he hates this shirt). I smiled and he got a mad look on his face. He said to me through gritted teeth, "You are not his property!" This just made me laugh to which he added, "If I even see that Keith Urban shirt in my preeeeesence (he unintentionally had a country drawl which made it even more funny) I will burn it!" I just fell on the couch laughing because in my head I was replaying the conversation and thinking- We are so Tennessee! Fighting over my Keith Urban shirt.

The Love of Children

There is nothing like the love of a little boy. The love of a daughter is a magical and wonderful thing but little boys love their mommy with a passion. On our weekend bike trip Paul is taking the bikes off the back of the car and Warner insists he is riding with his mommy. His bike attaches to one of ours and Mary is finally on her own bike. I was looking forward to riding my bike with no one attached because it is something to go up hills pulling a bike and child. So, I tell Warner that his daddy goes much faster than I do. And I say that his daddy is much stronger too hoping this will sway him to ride attached to his daddy's bike. He says, "But mommy I love YOU the most!" Paul laughed knowing there was no arguing with that. So he rode attached to mine! Later that night he was in trouble for calling his sister a name. I made him apologize to her. Then I said give her a hug. And a kiss. And tell her you love her more than the whole world. To which he stated, "But mom that's how much I love YOU!" After he said he loved her he turned around to me and said, "You know I love you more than anyone in the family." There is nothing like being loved by your son and daughter and husband. I pray nothing or no one ever tries to come between that. When you are loved you can get through anything. I can't wait until someone loves my son and daughter the way my husband loves me and I love him. Enough love to triple that love among our family of four. I will remember intently how important that immediate family is and will do whatever I can for my children to help them cultivate that in their own family one day.