Welcome (Again)

The Catholic Channel

If you’re visiting my blog today for the first time, there’s a good chance you found it after listening to me on Seize the Day with Gus Lloyd on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel. I just finished up the interview and now I’d like to share a bit more background beyond what we were able to cover in a scant twenty minutes.

I talked about how I made my final decision to join the church. Here’s a more in-depth description of that decision appropriately titled “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.

I briefly mentioned how the Church is filled with the Holy Spirit, but also filled with flawed, sinful people. I wrote about that too in a post titled “Wonderful, Frustrating, Incarnate.

I mentioned the role my wife had in my conversion. A brief version of that story, titled “A garage sale treasure brought me to the Church” was featured in the Jan/Feb Issue of Catholic Digest, and the longer version, titled “Beautiful Whispers” is online at Why I’m Catholic.

Can you believe I forgot to mention my Sacred Heart Picture?

Also, I talked about my amazing daughter Anna. I write about her more than anyone or anything else. In fact, I’ve written enough to fill a book. It’s called A Smile for Anna, and I am currently exploring avenues to publication.

I hope these links I provided give you a better idea of who I am. Thank you for listening, and visiting and may God bless you.

P.S. I forgot how fast New Yorkers talk!

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Introducing “Elevate Dads”

Elevate Dads

Starting today, and continuing periodically, I will feature a Dad community here at Fatherhood Etc. I start with a site that recently invited me to contribute content. My first guest post went live this morning and in return I am featuring them here today. Here’s their description.

Elevate Dads exists to assist dads of all kinds in finding support and building unique relationships that encourage them to EMBRACE the role they’ve been given and INTENTIONALLY make a difference right where they are. We strive to INSPIRE and ELEVATE dads to be fully engaged in their everyday life and help them to be committed and compassionate parents. Join us in the movement. Contact us at info@elevatedad.com

They’ve only been up for about a month, but they already have several contributors and some great content. Check them out!

Tell Me About Apraxia, Part Four

Speaking of Apraxia - Cover

This Saturday, October 12, we will participate in our third annual Walk for Children with Apraxia of Speech. For the last three weeks, and concluding today, I am sharing information about this common childhood motor-speech delay along with personal stories of our experiences coping with Anna’s apraxia of speech. Today I post an excerpt of an interview I gave to Leslie Lindsay, author of Speaking of Apraxia: A Parents’ Guide to Apraxia of Speech, last February as part of her ongoing “Apraxia Monday” series. The interview is cross-posted at DavidOzab.com

I appreciate you reading this post and I ask you to share it with others. And if—after reading this post—you decide that you want to help kids with apraxia of speech, please support us. We’re Team Anna (just like every year) and I ask you to make a donation and help us reach our goal. Thank you.

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Why I Write

Three-year-old Anna at Hendricks Park, May 2009

Photo: Julia Ozab (2009)

I didn’t start out as a writer. I’ve been a musician for many years. I first picked up a guitar when I was sixteen. I played in bands through high school and college. I went to graduate school to study composition. I got a Ph.D. I had my music published, performed, and recorded. I taught music technology, recording, and multimedia classes for eight years. It was my path—my career.

And then, four-and-a-half years ago I started writing.

Why?

Because my daughter, who had just turned three, couldn’t be understood. I wrote to give her a voice because she didn’t have one yet, and I wanted to tell her story.

The story of a girl born with a cleft, who had surgery at four months old. A girl who had been through enough in her short life when we found out she had childhood apraxia of speech.

I became a writer for her. Sometimes, in the midst of all the work—the hundreds of thousands of words, the writing, rewriting, editing, and proofing—not to mention all the work that goes into a writing career—networking, promotion, querying, submitting, blogging, web page tweaking, etc—in the midst of all the business I forget why I’m doing this.

And then Lisa-Jo Baker hands me a prompt—”WRITE“—and it all floods back.

Why do I write?

To give a voice to my daughter, to all kids without voices, and to all the voiceless.

I’m not sure what that means in terms of what I will write next. But it gives me something to think about, and to write about. Out of that idea, I will see what comes next.

And that is a good thing.

Five Minute Friday

Telling Anna’s Story

Anna at the 2011 Walk for Children with Apraxia of Speech, Salem, OR

Anna at the 2011 Apraxia Walk in Salem (Photo: Kathleen Harris).

This post was featured on the Apraxia-KIDS blog on October 13, 2011. I am re-posting it here today (with a few small edits)  for Apraxia Awareness Day.

I didn’t plan on becoming a writer, but I have a story to tell. The story of a little girl who knew what she wanted to say but couldn’t make the words come out right. It’s a story (all apraxia parents) know and share.

It’s the story of a girl in search of her voice. Her name is Anna, and she has childhood apraxia of speech.

It took us a while to realize there was something wrong, but about the time she turned two we started to suspect it. I remember one day in particular. My wife Julia and I had taken Anna to our local Gymboree studio for open gym when a little voice caught our ears.

“Help please, mommy.”

We turned to see a small boy struggling to climb up the ladder behind Anna. His mom leaned down and gave him a boost.

“Thank you,” he said as he climbed the rest of the way up the play structure set in the center of the multi-colored classroom.

“He’s a beautiful little boy,” Julia said.

“Thank you,” his mom replied.

“How old is he?”

“Eighteen months.”

The words hit as hard as if the play structure had collapsed on top of us. Eighteen months old and his speech was clear and fluent. Anna was seven months older and we couldn’t understand her.

That’s when we knew there was something wrong, but we didn’t know what it was yet.

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We Are All Stories

The Boyhood of Raleigh

The Boyhood of Raleigh by Sir John Everett Millais, oil on canvas, 1870.

Everyone is filled with stories because everyone is a collection of stories. Most people won’t become writers, but among family and friends these stories will live on long after those who have told them are gone.

Writers or not, we all have stories.

My Mom told a lot of stories. She grew up poor in South London during the depression, lived through the blitz, got bombed out of her family’s flat, and joined the British Army the day before Hitler shot himself. All by the age of eighteen. She had many more adventures in a life that took her from Malta to San Diego after she met and married my Dad. And she always wanted to write them down, but she never did.

This is one of my greatest regrets. I should have encouraged her more while she was here and while she still had her memories. She’s gone now, and while I remember a lot of her stories, I’ll never get to hear them again and or give them directly to Anna. No typewritten pages, no recordings. Just my memory and my Dad’s.

I still plan to write them down as best as I can someday. I want Anna to know what it was like for her Grandma Dolly to live through a war. It will be a novel, since I’ll have to fill in too many details to make it non-fiction. It will be something to give to her, but it could have been more.

My Dad has a lot of stories too. We’ve been recording these—turning on the video camera as he’s talking and getting them on tape. One I always remembered, and liked enough to include in A Smile for Anna, was this one which I told in his words.

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“Underdog!” and Other Fun Games

Acorn Park

The Park (Photo: Thomas Price via foursquare.com)

Seeing the clear blue sky outside my window today, I think I’ll take Anna to the park after school. It’s great having a public park across the street. We’ve lived here for four years now, and it’s still one of my favorite things about this neighborhood.

I wrote about our early park trips—back when Anna was just three—and some of the other ways we kept busy that first summer after we moved, in Chapter 38 of A Smile for Anna.

Anna loved the playground—the slides, the swings, the seesaw, and the merry-go-round—but most of all she loved having kids to play with. She’d been a bit sheltered up until then. That wasn’t our plan; it just worked out that way. I took her to the mall play area, and she always found a friend to play with, but the kids were always different, and they lived all over town.

Now we had a neighborhood park with neighborhood kids. Most of them were her age, but she soon latched on to one older girl who became a surrogate big sister.

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