Higher and higher

deafness/hearing loss, family, Health, hearing, sports

Saturday we went to a local water park with some friends, and Riley impressed me (OK, and scared me a little) with her courage. She jumped off the high dive. My knees were quivering, but I didn’t want my anxiety to make her afraid, so I kept it to myself. (Her friend had already done it (and even off the first platform, and Riley decided she wanted to try.)

She climbed up the first time, got about halfway down the board, then turned around and backed down the ladder. The second time, she jumped into water – all 15 feet of it. And the third climb was also a success. She tried a fourth time but decided the board was too “wiggly” and came back down.

I was so proud of her for trying and then overcoming her fear. But, boy, my stomach was in a knot. πŸ™‚
Last night, I had an argument with myself. It went like this:

“What were you thinking, letting her do that?!”

“She is fine! Nothing happened, and she can swim now! Isn’t that great?”

“Yeah, but what if she’d slipped? What if she’d fallen?”

“She didn’t. She had fun, and she’s not a scaredy-cat like me. Stop.”

Finally, I just said a prayer, thanking God for keeping her safe and for her courage. And I was able to sleep. πŸ™‚

President Barack Obama sounds good

Alabama, family, Parenting, Pop Culture, writing

I blogged about our trip to see Obama when he was in Birmingham nearly a year ago. We had high hopes that day:

I’m glad we went, and I hope Riley will remember the day she danced and clapped and shouted and cheered for the person who could be the next president of the United States.

And today those hopes are on their way to being fulfilled. It wasn’t only about Obama becoming president; it’s about what he can and will do as president. It’s about what this country can become with him as president and the nation heading in the same direction, for the same purpose, to make this country the best it’s ever been.

Happy Inauguration Day! Now let’s get busy making changes in our own communities.

It’s Now or Never (Election 2008)

family, life, Pop Culture

I was about halfway up in the line; there were a good many more behind me.

Today is a beautiful day to change the world. Ryan went to vote before work, while I waited until about 10. It’s a gorgeous, clear, sunshiney day. The leaves on the trees behind the church are spectacular, and a nice breeze blows across the pavement just as everyone is starting to get a little too warm on this November day.

I put together a quick Obama ’08 playlist this morning because I knew I’d have to wait awhile to connect the arrows on my ballot. A few selections:

A Change is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke
Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
Express Yourself – NWA
Time for Love – Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights
Doo Wa Ditty – Zapp & Roger
You’ve Got It (The Right Stuff) – New Kids on the Block
Gotta Be Somebody – Nickelback
Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
Keep Marchin’ – Raphael Saadiq
Let It Be Me – Ray LaMontagne
I Believe – Elvis
Let’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye
So Whatcha Want – The Beastie Boys
King of Rock – Run DMC

Read about our experience at The Daily Dish and send him your story.

Flashback: Roll over (January 2002)

deafness/hearing loss, family, Parenting

Friday, Jan. 4, 2002
Riley rolled over from her tummy to her back. Earlier in the day she started really playing with her toys on her bouncy chair. She fussed, kicked and squealed at them.

Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2002
She was playing in her bouncy chair and I leaned over to talk to her. She reached out and grabbed by face and kept reaching to touch it. (How precious is this memory?)

Thursday, Jan. 10, 2002
She eats 5.5 oz every 3-4 hours and afterward she likes her paci as dessert; she will usually fall asleep. If she doesn’t, she likes to play in the bouncy and grab at her toys.

Friday, Jan. 18, 2002
Riley sees her hands and studies them. She watches as she moves them in front of her face, and she’s excited about it.

Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2002
Riley laughed out loud yesterday at Pansi.

Thursday, Jan. 31, 2002
I made her laugh out loud by making faces and talking to her. It was beautiful!

I love blogging about these little vignettes. They bring back such sweet memories, and I’m so glad I wrote them down as they happened. And kept the notebook!

Even though it brings back some sad memories, too, I’m getting so much enjoyment out of putting our journey into words and pictures. I’m remembering cute things Riley did as well as dumb stuff we did. But it’s all good, and it’s all led us to the place we are now, exactly where we’re supposed to be.

Hear now. And always.

cochlear implant, deafness/hearing loss, family, hearing

I hope Cochlear’s tagline fits my daughter, Riley. She has bilateral cochlear implants – the first in October 2003, the second in April 2007. She was diagnosed with severe to profound, bilateral sensorineural hearing loss at 18 months, which is a long way of saying she could hear virtually nothing because of damage to the cochlea in each ear.

Today she is 6 and is excelling in kindergarten. She plays soccer and softball, loves to dance, sing and swim, and except for her brightly colored ear accessories, she’s a normal little girl.

This blog will tell about our journey from silence to sound. And since I’m starting five years into the process, “flashbacks” will appear as I dig through old journals, photo albums and videotapes.

The work is hard, but the frustration and fear are all worth it when I hear Riley’s sweet voice saying, “I love you, Mommy.”

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Alabama, family, life

A couple of weekends ago, my friend and I went out to eat for our annual birthday celebration; mine is Feb. 23, hers March 6. We reminisced about high school and old friends we hadn’t seen in awhile, including Robin. For an instant, her phone number popped into my head and I thought, “I should call her.”

Later that week I read this verse during my nightly Bible reading Wednesday night.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalm 116:15 (NIV)

And I stopped and thought, “That’s kind of weird.” Then I read it again, and thought, “OK, I get it now. That means His child is now with Him in heaven.”

Thursday morning my dad called to talk to Ryan about some golf range balls, and I heard Ryan say, “You’re kidding me. Oh, no.” I wondered what that meant in a conversation about old golf balls.

“Tiff, I’ve got some bad news.” My heart started beating faster.

“Robin died.” What? What do you mean? I felt numb, and I couldn’t move. It just didn’t seem real.

He put his arm around me and the tears started. My dad couldn’t tell me that one of my best friends in high school died, so he asked Ryan to. I’m so glad he was there when I found out.

We’ve been friends since kindergarten, and even though we’d go long periods without seeing each other, when we did bump into each other when I’d visit my hometown, the friendship was always there. Robin was sweet, smart, pretty and a good person – homecoming queen, a cheerleader, Miss Hazlewood.

Thursday night’s Bible reading was titled “It’s Later Than You Think.”

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (NIV)

Kind of hard to do, but as I thought about it, I gave thanks that I knew Robin as long as I did. The gist of the devotion: “Our greatest fear is running out of time.” We’re constantly rushing to get things done, and we tend to forget the important things: friends, family, rejoicing, being thankful.

Monday’s homegoing celebration was sad and touching. Her family barely held up; her fiancΓ© shared about his love for Robin – “She made me feel like a man again” – and it was heartbreaking. After lots of struggles, she was finally happy. And it was over. You know what verse the preacher chose to highlight?

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalm 116:15 (NIV)

If a friend’s phone number pops into your head, call her. If you have thoughts about someone you haven’t seen in awhile, get in touch. It could be God’s way of preparing you for something. Maybe they need a friend; maybe it’ll be the last time you talk to them.

The Hazlewood High School Class of 1990 lost another friend; Michael T. died about seven years ago. Robin leaves behind three young daughters; Riley could’ve been great friends with the two youngest if I’d done more than think about getting in touch. I should’ve called her, spent time with her and her girls, shared mom experiences.

It’s too late to do these things with Robin now, but I hope my regrets inspire me to keep in touch with other friends, do more fun things with my family and be grateful for the blessings I do have.

I’ll never see Robin on this earth again, but I will see her again. I take comfort in that. Show your love whenever you get the chance.

http://media.imeem.com/m/Oz5RytCydO/aus=false/

Love to y’all!

Hail to the Chief

Alabama, family, Pop Culture


President Clinton at Huntsville High
Originally uploaded by Tiff1723

Listening to Bill. He’s down and to her right, the circle of white light is his head, and it looks like he’s holding a square of white light.

It was cool to hear a former president speak; and I got some decent pictures, which, of course, I’ll have to upload later. Bill touted Hillary’s experience, talked about health care, the mortgage crisis and education. What he said sounded a lot like what Obama said. They have many of the same ideas, just different ways of implementing them.

It’s exciting to think of having a woman as president of the United States. In high school, I was all about “girls can do anything boys can do” if we have the same resources. The football team didn’t have to raise money for uniforms or trips by having car washes like the softball and volleyball teams did. We had 5 different coaches in 6 years; the football and basketball teams had the same ones. Everytime we’d get a good coach, the school board would not renew her contract for the next year. It sucked being a female athlete in high school as far as respect and resources, but we were pretty good anyway. And I love playing sports, and so far Riley does, too. (Another post for another time.)

However, I won’t base my vote on the fact that Hillary is a woman or that Obama is black. Either one would show that America has progressed from white men only. And I think that’s important. But what’s most important is what they’ll do to fix the mess we’re in in Iraq, make health care and college affordable, make our schools better, take good care of our veterans and repair our standing in the world.

We’ve got two more days to decide. No matter who you choose or which party you like, make sure you vote Tuesday!

Electricity

Alabama, family, Pop Culture, travel

The rally for Sen. Barack Obama Sunday was like a rock concert and revival all rolled into one; 11,000 people showed up to fill the arena. There were gospel singers, soul music blaring from speakers, folks holding up their cell phones to light up a darkened Bartow Arena on UAB’s campus. It was electric, energetic. It felt like we were part of something bigger than just Birmingham, bigger than Alabama, bigger than the South, big enough for America.

People clapped, cheered, raised their hands and shouted “Amen!” My mom, Riley and I clapped and sang, and if I didn’t clap when everyone else did, Riley made her displeasure known. “Mommy, clap!” πŸ™‚ She enjoyed it as much as we did, but she fell asleep about three-quarters through. Afterward she said, “Mommy, I saw Obama!”

I liked Obama’s style; the only time he used notes was for his thank-yous to start the speech. The rest of the time he just talked to us, like we mattered. A couple of quotes that stood out to me:

Hope is “reaching for what you know in your heart is possible.”

On education: “I can give you that $18 billion for education, but all the money in world won’t matter if parents don’t take responsibility for their child’s education.”

“We don’t want to play that old game, that game that has held us back. That game that says some of you got a black child in a bad school and a white child in a bad school and that’s two different situations. They’re the same situation, and we need to get black and white children working together with their parents to create good schools for every child. That’s what America’s about.”

On the justice system: “No more Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others.”

————————————–
From The Birmingham News” story by Charles J. Dean, News staff writer

Photo above is also from The Birmingham News

“We cannot wait to fix a broken health care system. We cannot wait to fix our schools. We cannot wait to bring an answer to global warming. We cannot wait to create new jobs with good benefits, and we cannot wait to bring this war in Iraq to a close and bring our troops home. The time for change is now.”

“There is nothing we cannot do if the American people decide it is time,” Obama told the cheering crowd at UAB’s Bartow Arena. “There is a moment in the life of every generation, if it is to make its mark on history, its spirit has to come through. This is our moment.”

“This is our time. And, if you’re willing to stand with us, and if you’re willing to march with me and organize with me and vote for me, I promise you we will not just win the nomination, we will win the general election, and you and I together will transform this country, and we will transform the world,” Obama said as the crowd filled the arena with shattering applause and shouts of, “Obama, Obama, Obama!”
————————————–

It was well worth the hour-and-a-half drive, the half-hour wait to get inside and the hour wait until it all got started. I’m glad we went, and I hope Riley will remember the day she danced and clapped and shouted and cheered for the person who could be the next president of the United States.

A Change Is Gonna Come

Alabama, family, Pop Culture

I’m going to hear Sen. Barack Obama speak Sunday; I’m taking Riley and my mom to experience it with me. When I first read that he was going to be so close to us, I got a tingly feeling and my heart skipped a beat, like this could be something big and I needed to be part of it. And I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t go. How many times will a presidential candidate hold a town hall meeting free to the public in Alabama?

Whether he wins or not, this is still a historic event. I’m excited about being part of the process and maybe helping change things for the better. And I want Riley to see that she can make a difference, too.

I’m still undecided about who to vote for Feb. 5, so this should help me make a decision.

When your time comes, GO VOTE!