Archive for July, 2009

Jul 31 2009

Backyard vacations: Things to help you take perfect ‘getaway’ at home this summer By Angela Sionna from Examiner.com

Money’s tight all around but that doesn’t mean fun needs to be limited… just maybe changed up this summer.

Instead of taking a big vacation, bring the excitement to your house by taking a backyard vacation. It can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. You can do special themed meals and drinks as part of your “vacation package” if you want to.

At the heart of it you need three things to make you seem like you’re on vacation (besides time off from work): some place comfy to sit, something fun to watch or do, and lots of relaxation to make memories that the whole fam shares together.

Click Here to Read More…

202 responses so far

Jul 30 2009

Morgan’s quiet effort By Ruby Taylor-Newton

Remember when I told you about Morgan, who was trying to build a library in Fiji?

Morgan’s quiet effort

Morgan Horton is only 17. Someone said getting a smile out of him was like drawing water from a rock.

In group pictures, he’s spotted hardly smiling or shying away at the back.

But inside of this young Australian, a fire for Fiji burnt bright.

So bright, that the lad did something unthinkable early this year.

Every July, the middle school of Pacific Hills Christian School organise a mission trip to Fiji. And each time, they stay at the Coral Coast Christian Camp in Pacific Harbour.

For the last three years, their trip has included a three to four day stopover in Suva where the team of around 13 students get billeted with Suva families.

They live in homes with children around the same age group where the experience is meant to be a learning one for both parties.

In 2008, one such mission team visited Namara District School for the first time.

Morgan was part of this team

The locals showed their hospitality in the usual manner as with all visitors with cultural activities and sumptuous feasts.

Afterwards, when the villagers were asked if there was anything Pacific Hills could do for them, the recently retired head mistress of Namara school asked for one thing only books for their two libraries.

The visitors left.

Back in Suva, the team met for a de-briefing and the discussions centred on how the children of Namara had so little resources, yet still managed to be content and happy.

That was it the mission leader threw down the gauntlet and challenged the young team to make a difference and be better people .

All this time, Morgan sat quietly listening to the conversations taking place around him.

An idea was already brewing in the youth’s mind.

On the flight back to Australia, the last piece of the puzzle fell into place.

He could already see how it would not cost more than $10 for each person in Australia to put a book in an envelope and send it off to Namara District School.

He just needed to figure out how to get the message out to the masses.

Then he had it! Morgan came up with the brilliant idea of using Facebook a networking facility on the internet.

This was the final piece of the puzzle.

Very quickly, the youth set up an account on Facebook called “Books for Fiji”. On the page, he wrote an account of his trip to Namara and the idea he had that if each person reading this page would put a book in an envelope and send it, the Namara District School library could be filled with thousands of books.

The response was amazing. Books started coming in!

Lusi Madraiwiwi, co-ordinator Billeting, who was with the team and witnessed the whole project come to fruition, said in the first year of Morgan’s project, the Namara library had received close to 300 books.

“People who send these books write messages on the inside cover of the books to the children in the hope that they will enjoy the book as much as the sender did.

“The other big surprise is that a lot of the books are being sent to the school by the authors themselves who write similar messages or sign their names in the books.

“The books are being sent from around the world USA, UK, Australia and even as far as India,” Lusi said.

She mentioned that a school in England was clearing out their library and would do it through Books For Fiji.

“A lady working in a publishing firm in Australia read about Books For Fiji and sent a box of newly published books.

“The teacher from Namara responsible for looking after the library was overwhelmed when she said that before, they would have to wait for years for a book to reach them in Namara. Now they get the books as soon as they are published and even signed by the authors themselves!” says an amazed Lusi.

The other major thing that happened was that authors sent Morgan short stories and poetry and other articles and encouraged him to publish.

With the support and resources of an editor and the writers, Morgan was able to publish a book called ‘Books for Fiji – A Gift for the Children of Namara School.’

In the book’s Introduction, Morgan writes:

“This project was inspired by the people of Fiji. My actions are in result of their openness and hospitality towards me in my visits over the last two years.

“Everything I have done or tried to do is in honour of their kindness.

“I would have to say the children of Namara are what inspired me the most. The power to change lives for the better isn’t in the government or the leaders, it is in every individual person and child.”

To the children and teachers of Namara, with a new 232-page book published in their honour, filled with stories, poems, pictures, recipes, people, plays, imagination, articles, ideas and photos, 17-year-old Morgan is truly a champion.

Reprinted from http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=126099

Contact information for Morgan:  booksforfiji@hotmamil.com

42 responses so far

Jul 29 2009

CONTEST: Please Help us Rename our Heirloom Binky Bracelet from Templeton’s Silver

Playtex Corporation ordered us to drop the “Binky” from our signature product,the Heirloom Binky Bracelet. So, we need a new product name and fast! We thought that there was no better person to name our product than our own customers.

There will be one Grand Prize Winner. The winner will receive an extra large basket stuffed with Infant to Mommy Products from clients of the PR and Marketing Firm Baby swags, which places “Mompreneur” creations in swag bags for celebrities. Baby Swags owner, Phyllis Pometta, stepped in immediately to help when she learned of our business crisis. We’ve been overwhelmed with the generosity of our peers, and their willingness to help another mom owned small business in need. Along with Baby Swags, contact information, you can view all of the wonderful companies and their fabulous products on our Blog post “Grand Prize Basket.”

Contest Rules and Guidelines can be found at http://templetonsilver.com/category/contest-rename-our-product/.

(Please note that we cannot use any word that even sounds like the word “binky” in our new name.)

Thank you for taking the time to participate in our contest, and Good Luck! Don’t forget to check out all of the wonderful companies that helped make this all happen:  Cedar Valley Publishing is one of many companies who have donated prizes, in our case, we’ve donated our award winning books Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten! & Let’s Get Ready for First Grade!

Please, go enter to WIN!!! 
http://templetonsilver.com/category/contest-rename-our-product/

12 responses so far

Jul 28 2009

“Babysitting SugarPaw”

Author VS Grenier, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Stories for Children Magazine, celebrates her debut picture book about the importance of telling the truth and getting to know others.

sugarpaw

Grenier’s “Babysitting SugarPaw” is about a little bear who hopes to get rid of his babysitter, Bonnie Whiskers, by getting her into trouble after making changes to his rules chart. As this loving story unfolds, SugarPaw learns about honesty and friendship. Babysitting SugarPaw, with its child-centered plot on getting to know others, is the perfect book for little ones scared of being left alone with a babysitter for the first time. This book will delight three-to-eight-year-old readers, especially those who like to create mischief.

When asked what inspired Grenier to write this particular story, she said, “I really enjoyed writing Babysitting SugarPaw based off some of the antics I pulled as a child with my babysitters. I feel children will love the mischief SugarPaw creates and parents will appreciate the subtle ways Bonnie Whiskers teaches how to be honest and a good friend.

“I love writing children’s books! I finish one and then get another idea from my own childhood or from my kids. It takes all my talent to create a book, run Stories for Children Magazine, and raise my children, too. But, I love it! It is such a surprising turn in the road to finally see one of my books in print. I hope to bring many more to children and share with them my love of the World of Ink.”

About the book:
Babysitting SugarPaw
Written By VS Grenier
Illustrated by Kevin Collier
ISBN: 978-1935268062
Publisher: Halo Publishing International
Date of publication: July 1, 2009
Pages: 32
S.R.P.: $13.95

About the author:
VS Grenier is an Award-winning author and Editor-in-Chief of Stories for Children Magazine (http://storiesforchildrenmagazine.org). She learned how to hone her writing skills at the Institute of Children’s Literature, and her works include: the Best of Stories for Children Magazine Volume 1 anthology and over 30 short stories, articles, and crafts for children along with newsletter articles for writers.

This dynamic woman developed and continues to grow Stories for Children Magazine freelances as a children’s author and editor for Halo Publishing along with running her own editorial/critique service. She has placed in the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Poll in several categories for the past two years:

  • One of the Top Ten Editors of 2007.
  • Won 2nd place in Best Nonfiction of 2007 for her article, “Yes, Virginia, There IS a Santa Claus.”
  • Won 7th place in Best Nonfiction of 2008 for her article, “Dinosaur Tracks in My Backyard.”
  • Won 15th place in Best Mainstream Fiction for her story, “SugarPaw and the Babysitter.”
  • California girl at heart, she currently lives in Utah with her husband, their two children, the family’s big fat cat Speed Bump, and miniature schnauzer Taz.

To learn more about VS Grenier and Babysitting SugarPaw visit http://vsgrenier.com/BabysittingSugarPaw
Learn more about Stories for Children Magazine at: http://storiesforchildrenmagazine.org.

124 responses so far

Jul 24 2009

The Baby Dipper Review

What I love about the Baby Dipper, is that it you can use it with only one hand.  The girls and I couldn’t wait to give this as a baby shower gift to our favorite teacher, who is pregnant with her second child.  Colton, her toddler, is a ball of constant motion and she is going to so need the Baby Dipper to feed the baby with one hand and keep him in check with the other hand.  Seriously, he was the little boy who was rushed to the hospital for asthma and the next day, while I was on the phone with his mom, in the basement getting his bases, a bat and a ball and thought he could just set up the bases in the living room and start playing some ball.  Mom caught him before the first pitch made it through the living room picture window!!!

babydipper

Oh yes, the Baby Dipper will certainly come in handy for moms who need an extra hand!!! I wish we would have had one for those days when the kids wanted to feed themselves.  The design makes it hard to spill and easy to use for little hands!!!   Brilliant!!!

Review by Stacey Kannenberg
“Ready to Learn Mom”

146 responses so far

Jul 23 2009

How to Win Friends and Influence People from Guest Blogger Patricia Witkin

Dale Carnegie knew what he was talking about. Here’s why networking is a must-have skill and how you can master it.

how to win friends and influence people  
 

Text by Patricia Witkin

 

Even the most capable businesswomen rely on the contributions of trusted associates to reach their goals. People do business with people they know and like. Angela Ford, founder and CEO of TAG Worldwide, a Chicago-based firm focused on sustainable property management, puts it simply: “Networking is about making friends.”

Before you grab a stack of business cards and rush out the door, it’s important to understand what networking is not. When Ford was starting out in her career, she believed-like many neophytes-that networking meant “telling you all about what I’m doing. But that’s one-sided and not at all what it’s about.”

Networking isn’t the same as promoting yourself and your business. It’s not even about meeting new people and learning what you can do for each other. It’s primarily about listening to the people you meet and figuring out what they want to accomplish-and how you can help them.

“If I’m a short person, and your goal is to get something off a shelf, you might think I can’t help,” Ford explains. “But if I’m strong, I can lift you up. Or maybe I can introduce you to my tall brother. If I can help you get it, we’ve got a bond.” And from those bonds, relationships build.

Bonita Jones, who recently retired after nearly 30 years with the Federal Reserve Bank and is a board member of the American Bankers Association, agrees. “Integrity is the foundation of all networking efforts,” she says. “If you have that, people will always come to you.”

Want to become a world-class networker? Here are 12 techniques to mastering this all-important art.

Be Prepared

When you’re living and breathing your business every day, you certainly know how to talk about it, right? Maybe, but maybe not. You need to develop a concise, one-sentence elevator pitch-maybe even several versions tailored to different audiences. “It should be your slogan,” says Ford. “If you don’t know what you’re trying to do, I can’t help you.”

Take the Long View

Networking doesn’t often yield immediate results-although it can, with fortuitous timing and good luck. For the most part, though, you should approach networking as a long-term enterprise. It takes time to gain trust and nurture relationships. “You’re making deposits in the bank, building up capital so you can make a withdrawal when you need it,” says Jones.

Stop, Look, and Listen

As TAG’s Ford learned, networking is about listening. Make sure you’re giving others the opportunity to speak. Ask follow-up questions that show you’re interested. Shake hands, make eye contact, engage, and interact. Repeat names when you meet new people if that will help you remember them. Don’t turn the encounter into a sales pitch.

And have empathy, says Jones. You never know what common ground you might discover that will come back to be helpful later-for either of you. That’s another value you provide as an effective networker: You bring a fresh perspective and an objective viewpoint when you listen to other people and offer support and ideas that help them get where they want to go.

It’s Better to Give

“I’m always on the give,” says Ford. She’s gotten to know what her friends want to accomplish and vice versa. When she hears about an opportunity that might be appropriate for one of them, she networks on their behalf. Her core group tosses leads and contacts back and forth to each other all the time. “If you do it on the give first, there’s a decency that begets gratitude,” Ford says.

Don’t forget to maintain those contacts and leads. You don’t keep in touch with your friends only when you need a favor, right? The same holds true in professional networking, according to Jones. Even if nothing concrete has been established to necessitate further dialogue, she suggests you e-mail or call your new contact just to say hi and see how business is going. Suggest a lunch or coffee date, and then show you were listening by referencing your last conversation or by sharing links to relevant news articles.

Location, Location, Location

You’re a busy entrepreneur who can barely get away from the computer to grab lunch, but you need to fit networking into your routine. Put yourself where your industry’s leaders and influencers are-often conferences and affinity groups-to become a familiar face.

Eventually, you’ll need to get away from the convention center. Ford shares a story from her greener days when she was the affirmative action officer at a large property management firm. She expected to throw open the floodgates and find no shortage of minorities anxious to submit proposals. “I was still unpolished, so I’d stand up and say, ‘I don’t know you! My cell phone number is printed on my card; why haven’t you called?’ Then I realized that I’d never made the effort to go to their party or golf event.” She learned that, if you want to do business with someone, you have to be where they are.

Play the Part

Appearances count. Dress comfortably but appropriately for the occasion, so you’re not preoccupied by tight shoes or a revealing blouse. At cocktail parties, watch your alcohol intake and avoid messy, cumbersome plates of food that make it hard to mingle and chat. Remember to smile!

Just Like Mom Said

Women are natural networkers; we like to chat and meet new people. We also have a tendency to get into each other’s personal business. Networking resembles interviewing for a job more than making new friends. Frame comments in a positive way and avoid bad-mouthing other companies, people, or products. It’s natural to share personal information when you’re making small talk, but don’t gossip. Try to stick to neutral topics. Jones follows advice her mother gave her: Keep your business to yourself and be careful what you share. When in doubt, keep the personal stuff quiet.

“Don’t burn your bridges” is another time-honored mantra mothers have been passing down for generations. Avoid making empty promises or misrepresenting yourself in your quest to win new business contacts. You never know who this person knows or might meet later.

Don’t Be Shy!

Entering a room of strangers can be intimidating, especially if you’re an introvert. Jones shares more sage advice from her mom: Act as if you’ve got a million dollars in your pocket, hold your head up high, and act like you belong. It may help to arrive early, before people have formed closed groups.

Make yourself approachable. An event planner I know lives by the phrase “fake it til you make it.” In other words, act the part that you want to play.

If you’re supershy, Ford suggests bringing along a more outgoing friend or colleague to get the ball rolling-and then branch off and make your own way. But don’t arrive with an entourage and talk only to them.

Stand Out

As women, we sometimes fear that assertiveness will be interpreted as pushiness. Don’t let that stop you. Let your passion show, and don’t be afraid to stand out. In the male-dominated construction industry, Ford knows that being the only black woman in the room will get her noticed-which is not a bad thing! “I play every advantage I’ve got,” she says. “If there are a hundred black people in the room, I’ve got to be the only one wearing green.” Whatever it takes, Ford will make you know her and like her. Business, she says, is like a courtship. You’ve got to get people interested in you and then give them reason to want to see more of you.

Be Organized and Strategic

Keep in mind that you can’t talk to everyone in the room. Aim for a manageable number of quality contacts. Find out in advance who’s attending, so you can use your time to target key influencers. If you’ve met someone before, you might contact him or her beforehand with a “hope to see you there” note.

Record notes on business cards about whom you met, what they do, what you talked about, next steps discussed-anything you might want to refer to in future interactions. Ford, though blessed with “almost total recall,” still jots down notes in the car afterward, then puts them in her Blackberry.

Connect in Cyberspace

Countless websites can connect you with colleagues, mentors, suppliers-whatever you need-without having to leave the office. The best-known social networking site is probably LinkedIn.com, which lets you search for individuals by industry, employer, location, and so on, and then send messages through the system to start a conversation. Yahoo! Group (groups.yahoo.com) can also put you in touch with people who share your business and personal interests. You’ll also find more specific sites such as Dogster.com, whose members span all ages, geographies, and work arrangements but who all share an obsession with their pets. Who knows if that fellow collie lover might also be a potential business contact?

Want to create your own online network? Services such as Ning.com put the power in your hands. If your niche lacks a devoted site, you can establish yourself as the ringleader by creating one.

One caveat: The virtual world should supplement your off-line networking activities, not replace them. You might make connections online, but try to meet your contacts in the flesh. Think ahead about visiting with your online friends when you travel to their cities. Or at least get on the phone for a “real” conversation.

Be Patient

It can take a year of crossing paths, recognizing each other at trade shows, and exchanging e-mails before you establish a solid bond with a new contact or see any real impact on your business. All the while, however, you’ll be meeting more new people, and doing it “on the give” to ensure that your long-term investments deliver returns.

Ford compares herself to Johnny Appleseed. “If you keep spreading this stuff around, you won’t starve. You’ll have orchards to pick from. But you’ve got to do the work. You’ve got to water it and harvest-but you definitely will eat.”

Patricia Witkin is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and consultant who has written extensively about the role of technology in business.

102 responses so far

Jul 22 2009

Contests for Entrepreneurs!

Published by under Uncategorized

Perfect Business is having a pitch contest for a chance to pitch to Sir Richard Branson: http://www.perfectbusiness.com/theperfectpitch/

perfectpitch

Win five business grants $50,000, $25,000 $15,000 or two $5,000 grants from Alibaba.com, just share your story in a short essay on why you should be the Newpreneur of the Year at:  http://www.inc.com/newpreneur/

inc

You can’t win if you don’t enter!  :-)

Smiles – Stacey

Stacey Kannenberg
“Ready To Learn Mom”

335 responses so far

Jul 21 2009

Who would care for your children? from Guest Blogger Laurie Giles

The recent death of Michael Jackson there has been great speculation about the future care and custody of his young children.  Many parents now wonder what would happen to their children in the event of their death. If a lesson can be drawn from this sad event, it is that parents must plan for the unexpected. 3 steps every parent must take are:

  1. Have a Will with a guardianship provision included. Decide who will step in and rear the children. Who will they live with? Be sure to choose someone with whom you share like values.
  2. Include a trust provision in your Will. Determine who will manage the financial and legal aspects of your children’s lives.
  3. Determine how children’s financial needs will be met. Purchase sufficient life insurance to allow for the continued financial upkeep.  Term life insurance policy premiums are generally low cost. Structure your investments in a manner which will allow for an ongoing income stream.

By taking these three steps your children’s future will be protected if the unexpected happens.

Laurie Giles is a speaker, life coach and media personality specializing in helping women survive and flourish through life altering situations.  She is the author of the upcoming What Now? series which provides practical advice and guides women through various  challenges such as death, illness, estate planning, retirement and divorce.

18 responses so far

Jul 20 2009

Are you truly putting family first before your business? from Guest Author Traci Bisson

Many mom entrepreneurs struggle with this question daily. Of course we know family comes first, but it is not always easy to make sure your significant other and children know that.

I use to think my career came first. After I was married and before kids – that is what I told one friend. I still remember that day sitting on the beach with her…I can hear the words coming out of my mouth. It is painful to remember.

Ask any mom entrepreneur and they will tell you family comes first. And they will be sincere about it. Ask them if they are truly putting family first and most will say “no”.

It took me eight years to figure out how to put family first. It was a very hard learning experience, filled with arguments with my husband, comments from disappointed kids and concerns from relatives who never saw me.
I honestly thought I was putting family first. It wasn’t until April 2008 that officially I flipped the switch.

Here is how I make it work:

  • I moved my office back home and took my son out of daycare.
  • I no longer travel.
  • I am very particular about the clients I work with – I take the time to learn more about them as a person – will my “family first” motto fit with their beliefs?
  • I changed my work week to Monday – Thursday and spend Fridays with my youngest son who is not yet in school.
  • I changed the message on my voice mail to say that I will be returning calls between 10:00am – 2:30pm, Mon – Thurs so clients clearly know when I will be in touch with them and when I am out.
  • I told the occasional client who called me at home that it was not OK to do so anymore.
  • I thank clients when I have to switch their phone conference or meeting because my children have a sporting event or field trip.
  • I send weekly progress reports to clients about projects so they are clear about what has been accomplished on their account and if there are any unresolved issues.
  • I purchased a Blackberry so I can monitor client emergencies via email when I am away from my home office.
  • I only schedule evening phone conferences and Twitter parties after the kids are in bed.
  • If I say I am going to spend the day with my kids, I stick to my promise.
  • I clearly explain to my kids what my work and my play hours are.

This process has worked extremely well. I still have one client who tries to bend my “family first” motto. He waits and calls me on Friday and leaves an “urgent” message. He then leaves a message on my cell phone. I have been working with this for client many years so I know him very well. He is well aware I am off on Fridays. His call is promptly returned on Monday morning and he is fine. He is a family man so I would expect him to understand.

Your clients are extremely important, but NOT more important than family. By making sure clients know when you are available and when you will be in touch with them helps the transition from “work getting in the way” to “family first” a smoother one.

I would love to hear any additional tips or suggestions you have on how to truly put family first at http://themomentrepreneur.blogspot.com/2009/07/are-you-truly-putting-family-first.html.

13 responses so far

Jul 17 2009

Sam’s the Man! Guest Blog Post from Sue Mayer

I previously posted an inspirational message about Sam, who is truly love, in every sense of the word.  Here’s more information about Sam’s life journey:

To Simply Hear

Such a simple word with such profound ramifications. If you look it up in the dictionary you’ll read:

Hear:ˈhir
transitive verb 1: to perceive or apprehend by the ear 2: to gain knowledge of by hearing 3 a: to listen to with attention : HEED b: ATTEND <hear mass> 4 a: to give a legal hearing to b: to take testimony from <hear witnesses>intransitive verb 1: to have the capacity of apprehending sound 2 a: to gain information : LEARN b: to receive communication <haven’t heard from her lately>

And yet this was one of the most difficult areas of my journey with Sam. Sam was born with Down syndrome, in his first year he suffered a brain injury due to oxygen deprivation which manifested itself with weakness on his right side. He was diagnosed with dysphagia and Apraxia. These areas of diagnosis were pretty easy to get. However, the diagnosis of hearing loss was not so easy.

sam3

From early on my gut feel was that Sam could not hear well. When I questioned his ENT he immediately agreed to a hearing test however Sam did not cooperate with most of it but he did react to some sounds so they indicated that his hearing was in the normal range. For a while I let the subject drop but it still nagged at me. Sam learned to read and began to speak although much of his speech was cued from his reading but he rarely answered questions correctly and had a great deal of difficulty picking up on new words unless he read them first. I felt a great deal of his frustration stemmed from him not being able to hear well.

I went back to his ENT and he suggested we do an ABR hearing test. I was hoping this would finally confirm my gut feeling, however, we were told that the testing showed that his hearing was normal. My Mom and I even questioned the doctor asking if he didn’t have Down syndrome or his other issues would his hearing be in the normal range? Often times I have been told by medical professionals things such as “Sam’s muscle tone is good”…however they forget to add the statement for a child with Down syndrome.

Our Wisconsin Chapter of NACD opened and Bob Doman came to do the first set of evaluations. He watched Sam for quite some time and then said to me, “Sue, I don’t think he can hear well.” I wanted to hug him, I finally had someone who agreed with my gut feel about Sam. I now felt a renewed drive to get Sam the help he needed.

I went back to my ENT and again questioned Sam’s hearing. He checked for fluid in Sam’s ears and asked me about ear infections. The majority of Sam’s tympanograms were normal and he only had 2 ear infections since his birth. It was at this point that our relationship took a slight turn down the wrong path. I began to hear statements like, “Well, Sue you have to realize he has Down syndrome and Apraxia so that is why he is having difficulty understanding and speaking.” “We can do another hearing test but it probably won’t show anything.” “I think your gut feel is incorrect and stems from his other issues that are causing your concerns.” I just wanted to scream, “WHATEVER!!…you’re not listening to me…I want him to hear.”

I asked about a trial hearing aid but was told that it could possibly damage his hearing instead of helping him. I purchased a personal FM system to use with Sam but he didn’t like wearing the head set. I worked with Sam using a karaoke machine with some success with new words. I then started the Listening Program with the bone conduction head set. I had done the Listening Program previously but didn’t see the effect that other parents talked about.

The bone conduction system was different…Sam’s speech increased and we finally went up another level in his auditory processing. Now I was getting excited. I went back to his ENT to tell him what I was seeing but he was stuck in the old responses and didn’t feel this had to do with Sam’s hearing. I asked him about a trial bone conduction hearing aid and I was told that he wouldn’t even consider it until we made sure Sam’s issue wasn’t with fluid. I said, “Fine, let’s put tubes in and that will take care of any fluid”. The ENT said Sam’s tympanograms didn’t show enough fluid to warrant surgery. I was up against a wall and unfortunately Sam was the one who was suffering. I prayed and I started searching for a different ENT although in our area Children’s Hospital is the easiest to work with in regards to Title 19.

I went to a conference and heard Dr. Andrew Hotaling an ENT from Loyola University speak about children with Down syndrome. He seemed to get it and I decided to take Sam to see Dr. Hotaling and he agreed to have tubes put in. I wish I could say that when the tubes were in we saw a remarkable change in Sam…but we didn’t. Dr. Hotaling’s office attempted to do a hearing test with Sam but after the two hour drive down to the office and his normal appointment, Sam again decided not to cooperate.

We returned to Sam’s original ENT. Needless to say he was amazed that Sam had tubes and when I again asked about a bone conduction hearing aid he said “Fine, have him do another round of hearing tests but I don’t think it will do any good”.

On my way to meet with the audiologist I prayed. I told God that this has been a 3 year journey and if I am on the wrong path, please let this appointment decide it and I will move on. I met with the audiologist and explained Sam’s history. I also explained how we have not had much luck getting Sam to cooperate in the booth. I told her about my experiences with the bone conduction headphones and the difference in Sam that I had seen. We worked out a plan so that as soon as Sam came into the office he would go right to the booth, no waiting time. I also stayed in the booth with him to help keep him engaged in the task and to help alleviate his frustration.

I held my breath as we started the test. Sam was cooperating…I was thanking God…and in a very short period of time it became evident that there were certain sounds that Sam did not hear. We then tried a bone conduction band on Sam which took some time to get him to cooperate with, but when we repeated the test he did better. I waited until we came out of the booth and the audiologist finally said the words I had been waiting to hear, “Sam has a conductive hearing loss in both ears”. I hugged her, thanked God and finally felt at peace. Most people would not get excited when they find out that their child has a hearing loss but I had waited for so long for someone to finally confirm my suspicions…I was thrilled.

Sam received a demo bone conduction hearing aid. I was so excited to tell Ellen, Bob & Lori Riggs that Sam finally had a hearing aid. However, I was concerned on how I would get Sam to wear the hearing aid since he has a lot of sensory issues about his head. Ellen assured me that if he can hear he will wear it. The demo hearing aid came with a band and Sam quickly learned how to remove it and boomerang it across the room. I was discouraged but decided to continue working with him and ordered a baseball hat that the hearing aid could be connected to. When the hat came it was easier to keep the hearing aid on and he could adjust it himself…he wore it and he was happy.

The changes in Sam began at that point…I often asked Sam “Where did we go on the airplane”…Sam would say “High up, in the sky”. After receiving his hearing aid, I asked him again and he stopped, scratched his chin, and said “Hmmmm….Mexico”. When he answered correctly it brought tears to my eyes and I said to myself, it is in there, he does know…it’s not the Down syndrome or the brain injury…he just couldn’t hear. We saw more and more changes when he received his brand new Baha Divino Bone Conduction Hearing Aid. One morning as I was cleaning up the kitchen I dropped a plate…Sam came running in and said, “OH…..MY….GOD”. Knowing I had never fast flashed that phrase, I asked him where did you hear that? He told me “iCarly”, the Nickelodean show he was watching the previous evening. This was amazing because Sam didn’t usually pick up on auditory phrases.

Now it would be great if I could tell you that the hearing aid has him speaking clearly and always answering questions correctly…but I can’t. I have learned with Sam that there is no quick fix…but instead pieces of a very complex puzzle. The hearing aid is an answer to my prayers and is yet another piece of the puzzle to help Sam reach his full potential. We are still working on active listening, a trait none of the males in my home seem to have??? We are re-inputting words to help Sam hear them correctly and we are actively working on daily directions to allow Sam the experience of hearing and following instructions. Sam is learning turn taking, allowing him to stop and listen, think and then respond. We still have a long journey ahead of us but we are again moving forward and making progress in areas we seemed to have stalled on. Sam’s frustration during doctor appointments, haircuts, and dentist appointments has been reduced as we are now able to explain and talk him through these situations. He is becoming more confident in speaking to people outside the family and his vocabulary is again expanding now from words he has heard instead of words he has read.

My current favorite game is to pick a task…like making breakfast and having Sam talk me through it. Now with his hearing aid, I can ask him where the eggs are and he says, “In refrigerator”. I then get them and put them on the stove. He says “No, Mom..get a pan”. I then put the eggs uncracked into the pan, he says “No, Mom…open them” and so on. Previously we would not have been able to do this because he would have given up on conversing or would have found in too difficult to follow my lead.

When I started with NACD…I wanted one thing more than anything else. I wanted to be able to have a conversation with Sam. With the addition of the hearing aid I now feel closer to that goal and that we are finally on the right path. I still get very excited every time he takes his pointer finger next to his ear and says “Sound?” and I say, “What is that sound”, he listens and he answers me.

Going back to the definition of the word hear, I am so excited that Sam now has the opportunity to:

gain knowledge of by hearing, to listen to with attention, to gain information : LEARN

Life is good!!

Links to More NACD Articles on Hearing:

Hearing Tests: A Primer for Parents
Language Acquisition in Children With Down Syndrome

18 responses so far

Next »