Yes, it is!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jackie's First Plane Trip

As I write this, Jackie and her dad will be arriving anytime at Tampa International Airport.  Jackie was so excited to be taking a plane ride to Florida to visit her grandparents.  It all started when Jackie kept begging to see her grandparents.  With our trip to California and Tim being out of town a lot this Summer, I never found the time to take Jackie to Florida to see the grandparents.  So, Tim offered to take Jackie down since he had a voucher from Southwest Airlines that will expire in October.  So Tim arranged to take an extra long Labor day weekend.  Then we made the reservations for this evening with the return trip on Labor Day.  Jackie was so excited.  I was excited for her.  Until this day arrived.  Then I became very nervous.  Nervous that something might go wrong with the plane, nervous that Jackie would freak out, worried that Jackie's ears would hurt on take-off and/or landing.  I'm having anxiety because I've never been apart from my baby girl this long.  The longest that I've spent away from her is 2 nights.  I'm also very anxious about Jackie's time with my parents.  I just have to hope that Jackie won't frustrate her mimi and poppy too much.  Jackie will spend 2-3 nights with them before she joins her dad at his mother's house. 
I picked up Jackie from school today at dismissal time and headed home to wait for Tim to get home.  Ben, seeing the suitcases, grabbed his little suitcase, too.  He grabbed a few cars and placed them inside the suitcase.  I guess that's all that matters when you're just 2 years old.  Pull-ups, clothing, and shoes are low on the totem pole. When Tim put his and Jackie's suitcases in the car, Ben insisted that his suitcase would go in the car, too. No way was he about to be left behind. We just went along with it.  Ben was so excited to be going on a trip.  A trip to nowhere, that is. 
We headed toward the airport.  The anxiety started to grow the closer we got to the airport.  It took everything in me to hold back the tears.  I don't know why I was so worried.  Gee, at least I'm not the one having to deal with Jackie meltdowns for the next 6 days.  Well, I know one reason I was worried and that is that I just know that despite the fact that I matched up outfits for Jackie, nobody is going to abide by that.  Mother (and Tim) is challenged when it comes to matching up colors and clothes.  But I just need to let it go for the next few days.  It isn't as if I'm going to see Jackie in person anyway even if she is mismatched.  And if Mother or Tim does allow Jackie to wear mismatched clothes, I can only hope that nobody down there will recognize her. 
Once we arrived at the airport, Tim got his and Jackie's suitcases out of the car trunk and then he closed the trunk.  Ben was nonplussed. He hissed.  He moaned.  We told him that he didn't need his suitcase because he was staying with mommy.  Oh no, he was not having it.  So, we grabbed his suitcase out of the trunk and away Ben went toward the terminal.  He was determined that he was going to go on this trip.  Again, we just went along with it.  And of course, several onlookers thought it was just the cutest thing to see this 2-year old pulling his own little blue & yellow ladybug suitcase.  In fact, Tim and I thought it was rather cute, too.  We went to the check-in counter so Tim could get his and Jackie's boarding passes.  While Tim was doing that, Ben proceeded to place his suitcase on the scale.  It weighed a grand total of 4 pounds.  The lady at the counter got such a kick out of Ben after I explained why his suitcase was so light.  After getting the boarding passes, we went to the USO to hang out for a bit before it was time to go through security.  At the USO, you have to check in your bags until you leave.  Ben was so funny.  He kept going over to make sure his suitcase was still there.  I knew I was in for a real struggle with him when it was time to say goodbye to daddy and Jackie.  By the time the kids finished up their little snack, it was time to get in the security line.  Ben eagerly grabbed his suitcase and followed his daddy to the security line.  After giving Jackie and Tim hugs and kisses, I told Ben it was time to go and he immediately went into meltdown mode.  He tried to get in the line with his daddy.  I had to pick him and even then he was not letting go of that dang suitcase.  Ben put up such a fight and of course, people were watching and some were even chuckling.  Ben could be heard throughout the entire terminal.  After a few minutes, I was able to calm Ben a little but he was still not a happy boy.  We finally got back to the car.  Almost the entire drive home, Ben's behavior made it very apparent that he was not happy with this current arrangement.  How dare daddy take sissy and not Ben?  How dare they go on a trip without Ben?  And even now, Ben's behavior is evidence that he may still be a tad angry that he was left behind. 
Hmm, after this week is over and everybody is back home, I may dare to go on a trip all by myself.  Anybody care to join me?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bedtime Wars

My kids used to be easy to put to bed at night.  Not so much anymore.  I don't know what has happened in recent months.  I must admit, though, that I was a little more lax during the summer months but I still made an effort to get the kids into bed at a somewhat decent time.  Now, the kids reach for any excuse they can think of. "I'm thirsty".  Sorry kiddo, nothing to drink after 7:00.  "I want a snack."  Sorry, but that word is banned in this household (see previous post).  "I'm hungry." Sorry, but you should have eaten all of your dinner, then you can have snack.  "Ben is still up."  Don't worry, he's going to bed, too.  Now I'm just waiting for the conveniently "forgotten" homework excuse.  But hopefully, I have still have some time before that happens. 
With Ben, we switched around his doorknob so that the lock is on the outside. I know, I know.  It's cruel.  But I unlock the door as soon as I know the he's asleep.  Otherwise, I will be spending most of my evening taking Ben back to bed every time he comes out of his room.  As many of you know, being virtually a single parent, I really count on my little bit of alone time in the evenings. Hence, the importance for my kids to stay in their respective rooms. 
Last night, Tim put Ben to bed while I dealt with Jackie and her meltdown.  It was already way past their bedtime.  But that was my fault.  Jackie had a full night of activity starting with choir practice, then Awana.  After Awana, there was a watermelon social.  Then I had to stop and get something to eat for Tim and Ben, and of course, Jackie wanted to eat, too.  So by the time everyone finished eating and I brushed everyone's teeth brushed and changed into sleep clothes, it was well after 9:00.  It was nearly 9:30 by the time Jackie fell asleep.  But Ben?  Well, lately, Tim has been leaving the doorknob unlocked hoping that Ben will just stay in bed.  Fat chance.  Last night, Tim left the doorknob unlocked and went into our room to fold his laundry and watch TV. I was in the living room when I looked up and there is Ben, peeking around the corner in the little hallway that leads to his room.  Then he nonchalantly walks out and pulls his little chair up to the TV and sits down to watch.  Oh no, little buddy.  This is my time.  MY TIME!  At this point, Tim went into the kitchen and noticed Ben.  So, he went and picked up Ben, chair and all, and carried him to his room.  Now, I figured Tim would put Ben into his bed and just leave the chair in room.  And that's precisely what I thought he did.  I could hear Ben crying, screaming, kicking the door, kicking the wall in his quest to be let out of jail.  The nice mommy in me wanted to go to Ben's aid but the mean mommy in me got a grip and decided that it was best to let Ben stay in his room.  Once things quiet down, I usually check on the kids.  But last night, I got caught up in other things then I dozed off on the couch.  When I woke up and went to the bathroom, I noticed a gleam of light coming from Ben's room.  Why is his light on?  It's past midnight already.  I opened Ben's door and found him sleeping.  Sleeping in the very chair that his daddy carried him into his room in.  And?  The door had been unlocked. Ben could very easily have let himself out of jail (bedroom) without all that kicking and screaming and crying. 
Since Jackie got to bed a little late last night, I was worried that she would be very difficult to rouse this morning.  But surprisingly, she was okay to wake up.  She ate her yogurt and got dressed.  Everything was fine.  That is, until I put her AFO on her foot.  Then the meltdown started.  She doesn't want anybody to see her AFO or wrist splints or glasses.  Everything is such a fight lately.  I didn't give in to her and off to the bus stop we went where  a couple of the parents remarked about Jackie's AFO.  They kept raving how pretty it was and how they love butterflies, too.  And how they wish they had an AFO.  You know, I really, REALLY appreciate when people try to make Jackie feel better about these needs that she has.  Hopefully, Jackie will start being receptive to it.  Mean mommy here just wants to do what is best for her children but these meltdowns make it difficult to not give in and just let them do whatever they want.
Oh, and about the hitting incidents from last week?  I thought about it over the weekend and decided that I really should email Jackie's teacher and explain what Jackie told me.  I reassured Mrs. G that I don't want to appear to be an overprotective or over-reactive parent.  I also offered to let her borrow a certain book that I own to read to the Kindergarten classes.  The book is titled Puppies For Sale.  It is about being different due to a disability.  It's just a cute, short story but for me, it's a very moving book.  I bought it years ago not knowing at the time that I would one day have a child with special needs, albeit mild. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Fun

Jackie had her second soccer game today.  Her game is not until 11:00.  One of Jackie's teammates, M, has a brother who plays at 9:00 and since we live just next door to where the games are held, I offered M's parents to let M come over to play with Jackie before our game starts.  Last week, M, sat through 2 hours of games in the heat and by the time our game started, M was not in the best of moods. Unfortunately, M ended up not playing in our game.  So, I talked to her mom and suggested that she just come to my house and play with Jackie until game time.  Jackie and M get along very well and they enjoyed playing together this morning.  We headed over to the field when it was our time to play.  I really enjoyed having M at our house and her parents were very appreciative.

The soccer game this morning went much better than last week but we are still a bit disorganized.  I blame part of that on the fact that the other assistant coach is not much of a team player right now.  I'm pretty much ready to throw in the towel.  I try to follow the format that would like us to follow but the other coach just wants to do things his way.  It's funny how he will just sort of stand to the side while I try to coach the children while following the weekly format.  That is, until about 15 minutes pass and then he jumps in and says, "no no no, this is how we're going to do it."  Plus, being my own daughter's coach has not been the best experience.  I think Jackie would respond so much better to somebody else.  However, she did try hard at the game this morning although I can tell that she gets a little scared out there on the field when the other players converge on her when she has the ball.  But all in all, our team did very well this morning for 5-year olds.

After the game, Ben went with his dad to run errands while I took Jackie with me to go for lunch and shopping.  After finishing lunch, Jackie and I found a few good bargains at JCPenney.  We also went to check out a new store called Crazy 8.  It's an okay store and they had some cute things.  I bought Jackie 2 pairs of cute socks.  Jackie is really starting to act older and more sassy.  I bought a pair of shoes at one of the shoe stores.  I let Jackie pick out this roll of candy there at the counter.  While I was paying, Jackie kept trying to reach for more of the candy and other stuff and just nonchalantly placing with my other intended purchases.  The cashiers got a kick out of Jackie and they both started chuckling.  That embarrassed Jackie and she tried to hide behind me.  After we left, Jackie told me that she didn't like that those ladies laughed at her.  Of course, they really weren't laughing at her, they were just laughing about how cute she was. 

We made our way to Dillard's where they were having a fantastic sale.  I've been looking for another sports bra.  Since losing weight, I have also lost inches on top but unfortunately, I have difficulty finding my size in bras.  I am now down to a 32 and letters.  I'm not naming the letters but just suffice it to say that I am a rare size, more rare than previously.  I did find a very nice sports bra that I liked but it was just too loose around.  I tried another new type on but it just did not fit right.  Plus, I thought it was weird that it had an underwire. I just don't like the idea of underwire for a sports bra.  I had no luck finding a sports bra in my size. But I have a Jackie funny to share.  As I was putting the bras back on the rack, Jackie came up to me and held out this pretty pink bra and said "Mommy, I need this."  I couldn't help but laugh out loud.  She was so serious, too.  Poor thing can't wait to wear a bra like her mommy.  That sort of reminds me of a story from last year.  I first should say that I'm quite busty but I was even more so last year.  It was around May of last year when Jackie walked in on me while I was changing clothes in my bedroom.  I was just getting my bra on when Jackie pointed up at my bosom and said, "Mommy, when I get bigger, I'm going to go to the store so I can get bigger ones of those so I can feed my baby."  I just about fell to the floor in laughter.  She was just so serious. Hopefully, Jackie will not get anywhere near as large as I have gotten.  But unfortunately, between me and her paternal grandmother, there is a good chance that will happen.  I am NOT happy that I have the largest breasts in my entire family.  I have no clue where I got those dang genes from.  My only guess is it came from my paternal side of the family of which I know nothing about because Mother still refuses to divulge any information.

So, today has been a great day.  Jackie is going to spend the night tonight with her friend, B, who lives just 3 doors down from us.  She is so excited.  I need to go get her bathed and fed so that I can get her out the door as soon as they call.

Friday, August 27, 2010


I hate myself.  I hate just about everything about me.  I remember a couple of times having to do a questionnaire asking what I liked about myself.  That was always a difficult assignment.  About the only things that I could think of was that I liked the color of my eyes and that I was a good listener and very loyal friend to the few friends that I trusted.  The negative things about myself far outweight the positive, that is for certain.  I think my struggle with my poor self-esteem is going to be a life-long thing.  
Today (actually, this entire week) is just another one of those days that continues to go downhill.  I made Jackie cry again this morning because she didn't want to wear her AFO.  She has not been consistent with wearing it and she must get back into the routine lest her foot start turning inward again.  And with the latest incident at school involving Jackie, I thought that maybe the other kids would have a little more compassion for Jackie and not hit her.  See, a couple of days ago, Jackie was in line to go to the lunch room.  A little girl behind Jackie hit Jackie because Jackie was walking too slow.  Jackie cannot help her slower gait due to her limp.  That made my blood boil for just a moment.  Then yesterday, Jackie encountered a similar incident at recess.  I am SO worried about Jackie being bullied.  I was severely bullied during my school years, including by a handful of my teachers who took on the same attitude as the students.  I mean, even at the church I attended at the time, I was the most unimportant kid there.  I was the most unpopular, ugliest kid at the school.  I didn't dress good enough, I wore coke-bottle thick glasses, I was extremely skinny, I was teased for my name, I was teased because of my parents' son.  You name, I was bullied about it.  Needless to say, my self-esteem really suffered because not only was I bullied outside of home , but my home environment was not much better with the abuse taking place there.  So, now that Jackie is in school and is starting to experience crap from other kids already, it brings back terrible memories and I'm just not sure what to do.  I don't want to appear like a hovering parent but I also do NOT want my child to endure what I had to endure. 
So, there is part of the reason for my self-loathing.  You know, I've never had a desire to be a popular person but I do desire respect and to have a nice circle of friends with whom I can just be myself.  But all too often, I put on a facade because I don't want anybody to know the "real" me.   I often feel inadequate next to other people.  I'm not worthy enough, I'm not pretty enough, I'm not skinny enough, I don't dress as nicely.  And now my shaken faith in a god has put even more distance between me and others.  Thankfully, I do have a handful of really, really good friends who have stuck by me through the years and make me feel like an important part of their lives.  And they know who they are. 
Another frustrating thing is that are a lot of people who don't think I'm so swift and they treat me as such.  It is very frustrating and I must admit that I have made myself appear to be not-so-swift.  But if I really was a dumb person, I wouldn't have finished high school, I wouldn't have won a scholarship to finish my BA, I wouldn't made it 15 years at my last job, I wouldn't be able to manage my household with a husband AND kids AND dogs AND bills.  I don't want to sound conceited but I'm actually quite intelligent.  At least, according to past test scores.  But I must admit that I could probably improve that situation if I wore the hearing aids.  Hearing aids that would help me hear better.  Hearing aids that would enable me to better hear what conversation is really about so that I can respond appropriately in those situations.  I have a habit of trying to piece together conversations to figure out what is going on.  I learned to do that because people would get annoyed if I had to ask somebody to repeat something so that I can hear.  The last thing I want to do is annoy others.  Unless, of course, I'm playing around.  
There is so much more that I could write about that has led to this post but to make a very long story short, I will just suffice it to say that it really is an amazing thing I am here alive, married, and have my beautiful children.  My children, who make life worth living, even as difficult as it is at times to deal with them.  I have struggled for many years with depression and anxiety/panic disorder.  For several years, I even struggled with suicidal ideation.  Thankfully, the latter is no longer an issue as I have my beautiful family to care for.  So no worries there.  However, the anxiety & panic disorder has been extremely bothersome lately.  And I just don't understand why.
I really do believe that regular exercise can help increase the positive outlook for those who struggle with depression.  I've seen it for myself. However, the anxiety & panic disorder has been extremely bothersome lately.  And I just don't understand why.  I've been exercising on a very regular basis, at least 5-6 times a week.  I attend several zumba classes, I run, I've been working with a personal trainer. I've lost some weight and I'm getting my body back into shape.  Physically, I'm feeling so much better.  But why do I still struggle with the self-esteem issue?  Yeah, I do feel better about myself and I KNOW there is an obvious difference physically.  But, I still am not good enough.  And I probably never will be so I really should start working on coming to terms with this. 
The idea for this post today was brought on by the unfortunate fact that I have offended somebody again today and I didn't even know it until the damage was done.  It's interesting that people feel they can play around with me and expect me to be a good sport, which I am most of the time, but when I play around, people are just plain offended.  I'm just going to start keeping my dumb-ass mouth shut.  And when I leave my home, perhaps I should consider some clear duct tape to help keep my mouth shut lest I risk offending somebody again. 
I guess I better decide what my next step is going to be.  Should I continue the personal training?  Should I continue zumba?  Should I continue trying to get myself back into good physical shape?  Or should I just go back to being a somewhat hermit and stay cozy in my own little world?  It was a huge step for me to even join to Y where there was the potential to meet a bunch of new friends.  Making new friends makes me a little nervous.  It's just so much more comfortable to stay in my own little cocoon.  I wonder if there is rehab for people like me.  I could sure use it because as comfortable as it is to just be in my own little world, I certainly don't want my children to live such a life.  It would make me so happy if my children become well-liked, respected, and not socially inept. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jackie, the Star Student

Well, after a rough night last night and rough morning this morning, Jackie came home with a star student award.  While sitting on the sofa after school with Jackie, I asked Jackie to tell me about her day.  She shared how she and her friend, B, fell because they were running.  And Mrs. Gain had so no running.  That was lesson number one today.  Then she shared how another girl hit Jackie because Jackie was walking too slow to the lunch room.  Well, my blood pressure went up slightly but I made a mental note to talk to Mrs. Gain about this.  Jackie does walk slower than most of her peers because of her CP.  Jackie is weak on her left side which has caused a permanent limp.  I knew this day was coming but I didn't think it would be this early in Kindergarten.  Jackie said Mrs. Gain did not know about this hitting episode. 
When I asked Jackie what she learned today in class, she said that she learned about Star Student. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Tell me what you learned today.
Jackie:  I learned about star student.
Me: Yeah?  What about star student?
Jackie: Well, there were 3 star students today.
Me: Who were they?
Jackie: Me and 2 other people.  There were 2 yellow papers and 1 blue paper.  I got the blue paper.
Me: Who got the yellow papers?
Jackie: I don't know but they were brown.
Me: Brown?
Jackie: Yeah, like Tangela.
I couldn't help but chuckle.  Out of the mouth of babes for sure.  Tangela is Jackie's former babysitter and she is African American.  She was an awesome babysitter and Jackie still talks about her.  Oh, and by the way.  The star student here received her award for using excellent listener skills on the rug.  Way to go, Jackie!  What a great way to start the year off.  I hope to see many more Star Student awards in the coming year.

Kettle Bells, Anyone?

Funny, everytime I hear kettle bell, I think of a cow bell.  My personal training day today involved all kettle bell workout.  Oh my!  It was a challenge for sure.  I started off okay but after a few minutes of the various movements,  it became quite apparent how weak my upper body and especially my arms are.  Misti had me do 3 cycles of continuous 5-minute kettle bell routines.  And that was not all; she also had me do 20 push-ups with each cycle.  Twenty!  I can barely do 10 and those are the sissy ones.  See! That shows just how much work I need to do with arm strengthening.  I can do burpees with not problem, now, though.  Yay me!  Well after today's workout, I had enough energy to do a quick run on the track and it seemed so much easier today than it has been the last couple of weeks.  My breathing was better.  But my shin splints are still bothering me and my knee is hurting again.  If it weren't for those, I could have gone another couple of miles.  Perhaps I should do more kettle bells because the energy afterward was incredible.  I'm sure I'll be feeling the pain tomorrow, though.

Wanted: New Parents (or perhaps, New Kids?)

Okay, for the most part, things haven't been too bad around here during the time Tim has been out of town (nearly 2 weeks).  I have been busy with start of school for Jackie, working out, coaching Jackie's soccer team, taking kids to appointments, cleaning the rental, etc.  And through it all, the kids really have been troopers except for a bad half hour last weekend.  Things started to change last night.

It all started with soccer practice.  First of all, I nearly forgot about it and was planning to go to the Y to run before zumba.  I remembered just a couple of hours before practice was to begin so I quickly printed up this week's practice plan.  Upward sports is nice in that it has a weekly planning format that the coaches can follow.  It makes it much easier to coach.  That is, if the coaches follow the plan and work together.  Unfortunately, the other parent who is helping is not working together as a team. He doesn't care to follow the weekly plan.  And when I am on the field trying to get the kids to listen to me and explain what it is that we're going to do next, he just sort of sits by the sidelines.  Until that is, he decides that what I'm doing is not what we should do and we should do it this way and proceeds to take over. Actually, it would be absolutely fine with me if he took over completely because he seems to know more about the game than I do. And this isn't a task that I was all that excited about taking on.  Quite the contrary.   It's been years since I've played soccer.  Now Upward modifies some of their rules to make it a fun learning experience for the little people.  That's one reason why the organization has a weekly plan to follow.  So, last night after the other coach finally jumped in and took over, I just tossed aside the weekly plan and pretty much just watched and encouraged the kids.  I sort of would like to not coach Jackie's team anyway, because Jackie has a tendency to come to me and whine about things not going her way.  Ugh.  However, it made my evening when one of the players came over and hugged me.  She was and is just so precious. 

As soon as soccer practice was over, I took the kids home to the babysitter and headed out to zumba.  After coming home from zumba, the kids were still awake and Jackie started demanding a snack.  A snack?!  Gah! I'm sick of that word.  As soon as Jackie finishes breakfast, "can I have a snack?"  As soon as she finishes a snack, "can I have a snack?" As soon as she finishes lunch, dinner, ice cream, snack, whatever, it's just automatic, "can I have a snack?" Ugh, ugh, ugh.  I'm sick of it.  I should just buy all kinds of junk and just let the kids have free reign.  I try to make good choices for the kids but it's not good enough.  Anyway, when I reminded Jackie that she had a snack after dinner already and it was past time for bed, she immediately melted down.  Then the phone rang.  It's Tim.  Of course, he calls at the most inopportune time.  He could hear what was going on in the background so he asked to talk to Jackie.  I don't know what transpired between Tim and Jackie.  But because I just get so sick of the constant crying, whining, and screaming, I finally just gave in to Jackie and told her that since she wants to do things her way, have at it, including getting herself ready for and going to bed and getting ready for school the next morning.  Well, Jackie didn't like that, either, and she got even more angry and upset.  I was just frustrated and fed up.  Finally, I got a grip and got everyone changed and put to bed.  Poor Ben, bless his heart, he was actually very compliant after witnessing my wrath with his sister.  He stayed put in his bed and fell asleep. 

Unfortunately, Jackie would like a new mom.  She no longer likes me.  She wants to live somewhere else.   I can't win for losing.  I let her have her way, she melts down.  I don't let her have her way, she melts down.  I just cannot please her.  I yelled at her, I screamed at her, I just lost it verbally with her.  Jackie can be a very challenging and frustrating child.  But I love her none the less.  After I left her room, I calmed down enough to go back in and apologize. I really felt bad about the whole episode.  And poor thing, my heart went out to her.  I know I hurt her.  I felt like a terrible mom.  I just hoped that today would be a better day.

After getting Jackie up this morning, I told her to get the outfit on that we picked out the night before.  "No, I don't like that shirt, I don't want to wear that shirt."   Well, she's wearing it anyway.  In the past few weeks, I bought some really cute and pretty clothes (Jackie picked out some items) but Jackie wants to wear old and worn clothes.  No way.  I got her breakfast ready.  She wanted cereal and yogurt, as usual.  Jackie cried again.  Not enough cereal.  And not enough milk for the cereal.  Aghhhh!  I just cannot please this child.  I told her to eat what was there and I would give her more if she was still hungry.  Instead, she cried, she pouted, she stalled, etc. until it was time to go to the bus stop.  Jackie sobbed all the way to the bus stop because she doesn't like the clothes and she didn't eat breakfast.  Tough luck, kiddo, you had ample time to eat.  But I was kind enough to dump her yogurt into a cup and take it to the bus stop where she could eat it while waiting for the bus.  The bus arrived and Jackie was still crying when she got on the bus.  I'm just at a loss because the last thing I wanted to do was send her off on the bus when she was still in meltdown mode.  But then again, I was looking forward to not having to deal with it today.  

After I got Jackie off to school, I came back to the house and started a load of laundry.  I have a couple of hours before my personal training appointment.  After some time passed, I realized that Ben was really quiet.  Sure enough, I found him, in my bedroom, with the carton of ice-cream.  Chocolate ice-cream that he was just eating right out of the carton.  In my bedroom.  By the time I found him, he had a couple of chocolate spots on my bed, some spots on the carpet where he was sitting with the ice-cream, and his face and hands were a huge sticky mess.  On top of that, I discovered that Ben also had taken a bowl of rice-krispies (dry thankfully) and dumped some of it onto the living room carpet.  Thankfully, that was an easy job for the dogs (and vacuum cleaner) to take care of.  I immediately got Ben into the bath tub to wash all the mess off of him, then I cleaned up the mess in my bedroom.

I just feel so drained and I know it's going to take everything in me to make it to personal training.  And I feel like I deserve "evil mom of the year" award.  I can't help but think about how Jackie is feeling right now, sitting in her classroom, wondering if I love her.  But, I cannot let her manipulate and control me. I do not remember causing such anguish as a little girl.  But then, I was too scared to put up too much of a fight.  I knew I would suffer the wrath of not only Mother, but dad, too.  I would sum it up by saying that the fear of being beaten kept me in line.  Can't say that for their son, though.

I knew parenthood would not be easy but gee, if there is a god, then why did he present me with 2 very strong-willed children?  Jackie was strong-willed from the beginning. But Ben, he was such an easy baby and very easy to bond with.  Now he is just... well... a cute little MONSTER.  I'm certain part of his strong-will is a result of his frustration with his speech delay.  I'm really hoping that once his speech really takes off, he will be my sweet, compliant little boy again.

So often, I feel like a single parent due to taking on most of the responsibilities surrounding the kids and home.  But, these past couple of weeks have given me a greater appreciation, especially with the start of school and the addition of other activities for the kids on top of everything else that they have going on.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Jackie Got Off to a Great Start This Week, NOT!

But all is well now.
Jackie was up bright and early this morning because she is just so excited to go to school.  So, after she ate breakfast and got dressed, we made our way to the bus stop so Jackie could ride the bus to school.  I swear, that's the highlight of Jackie's day.
After Jackie got on the bus, I went back to the house to get Ben fed and changed.  Then he and I just hung out for awhile before I planned to run a few errands.  Then the phone rang and I could see that it was Jackie's school.  Oh no! Was she sick already?!  So I immediately picked up the phone and the nurse immediately reassured me that Jackie was okay but that she had an accident.  An accident?  The nurse explained that Jackie had the type of accident that was going to require a bath.  Oh boy, what a way to start the week Jackie.  So, Ben and I went to pick up Jackie where she was waiting in the office.  At first, I thought that maybe it wasn't as bad as the nurse made it seem because I didn't smell anything and I didn't see anything on her clothes.  But, just in case, I brought a towel to put on her car seat and placed her there for the ride home.
My heart melted a bit when Jackie commented that she didn't want to tell me what happened because she thought I was going to be "really MAD at me."  Poor thing probably didn't tell her teacher, either, for fear that Mrs. Gain would also be mad.  So instead, she tried her best to sit until it started to irritate her.
But after I got home and got Jackie bathed, Jackie asked to go back to school because they were having sausage pizza for lunch and she wanted to eat lunch there.  Sausage pizza?  Really?  Gross! But I readily agreed as it would be so much easier to run errands with just one kid in tow.  And she wasn't running a fever or acting ill.   So back to school she went where the secretary reassured me that this type of thing happens all the time.  For Jackie, it was one of 2 things because she is very much potty trained and never has bowel accidents.  She was either very nervous today or it was due to her constipation/bladder issue.  I think it was the latter.  So now I'll have to email Jackie's teacher to explain how important it is for Jackie to have frequent restroom trips and to allow her to keep a water bottle close by.  Part of her constipation issue is due to not drinking enough water.
After dropping Jackie off at school, Ben and I ran a couple of errands.  Ben is so much easier to deal with when his sister is not around.  Unfortunately, that is just fact.  One of our errands included a side trip to Walmart for a handful of items. Ben was being a little too helpful by putting extra items in the cart and when I put the items back, Ben balked and started to act out.  So, I promised him a donut from the bakery if he behaved.  We went to pick out his donut and he understood that he was not allowed to have it until we got home, provided that he was good throughout the store.  And he did a great job.  He walked right next to the cart the entire time until he decided he wanted to ride.  I paid for our stuff and headed home where Ben scarfed down his hard-earned donut.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Jackie's First Soccer Game

Jackie participated in her first soccer game today.  She did a good job even despite the whining at times that nobody will let her kick the ball.  Hopefully, she will understand the game better soon.  

Friday, August 20, 2010

Leave My Sweet Tea ALONE!

I hate it when a certain little person in this household sneakily sucks down my McD's sweet iced tea.  Tonight was no exception.

So my day started off great.  I got Jackie up for school, got her fed, she got dressed, and I got her out the door to catch the bus.  Jackie was in a good mood and wanted to walk to the bus stop early.  After Jackie got on the bus, Ben and I walked back to the house where we hung out until it was time to leave for the Y for my appointment with the personal trainer.

Just as I arrived for the appointment,  I ran into the mother of one of Jackie's former classmates from Zion Lutheran preschool.  I have not seen Beth since May and she immediately commented on how great I was looking.  I shared with her what I had been doing with personal training and zumba.  Then I walked a few laps with the neighbor, C, to warm up before my training session.  C has been inspired by the positive physical changes in me so I invited her to watch my session for a few minutes.

Misti, the trainer, had me do a few new things today.  We worked on legs and some back/chest exercises.  Of course, Misti, had me start with the standard dreaded burpees (15).  Side lunges (20 each side) and squat/step jump/squat, and running followed the burpees.  I had to do three cycles.  Then we moved on to working on the back/chest exercises.  I was still sore from last Monday's session but it was a great session and I left there feeling very confident that I was doing the right thing for myself.  Until now, there had been moments where I felt like giving up because it does get hard and it gets painful at times.  But the encouragement that I've received along with the kind compliments have made this all worthwhile.  So guess what?  Since I have just one more session left with Misti, I went all out and signed up for another 30 session.  Thirty!  With Misti! That's 2 1/2 times as many sessions than what I am just now finishing up. We won't discuss costs, though.  Just know that it's nowhere near the amount that Tim's hobbies, including his newly purchased Giant bike, cost.  I am determined and  I am going to continue to work my body back into shape and hopefully back into my pre-pregnancy, better yet, pre-marriage clothing size.  Now if only I can find a way to get beyond these shin splints.

After Jackie arrived home from school, I went back to the Y for Zumba.  That was another great workout today.  After getting back home, I took the kids to get them something to eat.  Jackie chose McDonald's.  I know, not the most healthy, but it's Friday, Tim's not home, and I didn't feel like cooking.  So off to McDonald's where I also ordered a sweet iced tea. For myself.  Being the southern girl that I am, I love my sweet iced tea.  No unsweet for me.  And being that we now live in the good old Midwest, very few places around here sell real, brewed sweet tea.  McDonald's is one of the few places here where I can buy a real BREWED SWEET iced tea.   Okay, so I ordered everything to go and once we got home, I got the kids set at the table with their respective meals.  Jackie had ordered a cheeseburger and apple dippers.  And Jackie knows that in order to get an after dinner snack, she must eat all of her dinner.  While the kids ate, I sipped my tea and I got the dogs fed in their separate eating stations.  I warned Jackie that if she left the table, she must put her food on the counter away from the edge lest Lucy, the mutt, help herself to it on the table.  I went to the family room to tend to a few things. I checked on the kids and by this time, Jackie had eaten half of her cheeseburger.  She asked for a snack and I reminded her of the rule about finishing dinner first.  Then a few moments later, Jackie appeared next to me on the couch.  I asked her if she put her cheeseburger on the counter.  She got up and looked into the eating nook and out of the corner of my eye, I could see that Jackie had a slightly worried look.  She stepped further into the eating nook and then came back and told me that she finished her dinner.  Yeah, right.  I knew immediately what happened.  The dog helped herself to it.  So I told Jackie that because she 1) disobeyed by not placing her uneaten food on the counter before leaving the table, 2) she didn't finish her dinner before leaving the table, and 3) she lied to me, she was not going to get her snack. Jackie immediately collapsed into a meltdown.  Oh no, I'm not giving in.  Yes, I know she's tired from a very long day at school but she was not going to get away with disobeying and with lying to me.  And Lucy, the dog?  Well, she joined Dugan in jail.

I told Jackie to get ready for bed but since she was not willing to cooperate, I had to assist her in getting dressed.  While doing so, Jackie swung around and slapped me.  Intentionally.  And it hurt.  Tired or not, this little girl was not getting away with this one.    So, I smacked her bare bum, put her clothes on, brushed her teeth, and put her in bed.  Oh, and somewhere in the midst of her meltdown, Jackie told me that she hated me. I said a quick prayer with her, quickly hugged her, got up, turned the light out, and told her that I love her even if she hated me.  Whew!  I need my sweet tea.  NOW!  Where is it?  Oh, it's in the kitchen.  Where I put it in a safe place.  Or so I thought.

I went to the kitchen to go get my much needed sweet tea fix.  I picked it up.  Hmm, it felt very light.  I take a sip, or at least, I tried to take a sip.  Nothing was coming out.  I took the lid off.  Dang it!  That little creep boy sucked down my tea while I was tending to his sister.  And I had it out of his reach because this little creep boy is infamous for sneaking anything sweet, including my sweet tea that is off limits to everybody.  I DON'T share my sweet iced tea.  I was mad.  I wanted my tea.  NOW!  Okay, do I get the cantankerous little girl and the creep little boy into the car to get another sweet tea.  Oh , how tempting.  But oh, I was ready for a break from these kids.  The break won.  So, I high-tailed it to Ben's room where he was playing by this time, with his belly full of MY sweet iced tea.  I grabbed him up and got a clean pull-up on him, brushed his teeth and put him to bed.  I didn't even put pajamas on him.  I just left his t-shirt on.  I was mad.  I shut the door and locked it.  He cried, I fumed. He cried some more, I fumed some more.  I wanted my tea.  And I wanted it even more because the little creep boy stole my tea.  Because NOBODY messes with my sweet iced tea.  The entire half-hour episode nearly brought me over the edge after such a great day.  All because of my beloved McD's sweet iced tea.  Perhaps I need rehab.

Well, I was still fuming even after the kids were in bed.  I started cleaning like a mad woman.  Well, I was a mad woman.  Literally. And I texted my friend, Lisa, who was planning to come over with a bottle of wine for us to share after the kids were in bed.  I was going to ask her to pick me up another McD's sweet iced tea.  She had just left the movie theater with her son and his friends and she was dead-beat tired. She is a teacher and school started this past week. I totally understood how tired she was and gave her a pass to stay home and get some sleep.  She let me vent about the events during that bad half-hour.  I just love my friend, Lisa, to pieces.  By the time we ended our conversation, I was a happier camper.

Sometime after talking to Lisa, I went to check on Ben who had been screaming, yelling, and kicking the walls and door in his quest to be let out of jail.  Here is how I found him:
Sometime during my episode with the kids, I must have offered my kids on Facebook to any takers.  With the dogs included.  Well, I would have had plenty of takers.  Until the potential adopters noticed the blurb about the McD's sweet tea thief.  Darn, Ben! You're already causing problems outside the household.  Nobody wants a McD's sweet tea thief around.  See, they'd rather have a dog who steals cheeseburgers.

Now, I do love my kids, I really do. And as difficult as it is oftentimes, I do feel so very fortunate to have the privilege of being their mom. 
Just. Leave. My. Tea. Alone!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Jackie's First Full Day of School

Jackie's first full day of school was today.  She was so excited about riding the school bus this morning.  She was so cute.  Since our stop is the first one on the route, Jackie had her choice of seats.  As soon as she got on the bus, she and her new friend sat in the very first row and both of the girls looked out and started blowing kisses, Jackie to me, and her new friend to her dad.  They looked so happy and giggly.  It tickled me for some reason.  As challenging as she is, I just love my little girl so much. 
Soon after I got Jackie on the bus, Ben's occupational therapist arrived followed by his speech therapist an hour later.  As soon as Ben's therapies were done, we stopped by Jackie's school to pay her fees.  From there we went to the mall where I wanted to treat Ben to Chick-Fil-A. I parked outside the Macy's store.  I had no intention of shopping there, though, until I saw that they had a fantastic sale going on.  I ended up paying just $73 for $352 worth of clothing for Ben and Jackie.  I also got $31 worth of items for just $7.  I was so excited about the savings.  Jackie and Ben are pretty much set for this Fall/Winter's clothing and even some for next Spring/Summer.  On top of that, a couple of weeks ago, Jackie go a huge bag full of clothing from her good friend, A.  A wears nothing but Gymboree, so Jackie got some very nice outfits that I can't wait for her to wear.  
After doing that little it of shopping, I finally got Ben his meal from Chick-fil-A and he promptly at all of his chicken nuggets and some fries.  He was a hungry boy today. 
Jackie's bus did not arrive home today until nearly 4:00.  This was a long day for her.  School starts at 8:30 and gets out at 3:00.  Now, we live just @ 5 minutes from the school but it took nearly an hour for her to get home.  There a couple of reasons for that.  One reason is that the buses take the middle school kids home first (they also get out at 3:00), then the buses go over to the elementary school and take those kids home.  I don't understand why Whiteside schools don't stagger their schedules so that the elementary kids aren't stuck waiting in a gym for a half hour.  Perhaps one of the schools could start and end a half hour earlier than the other school.
The other reason the bus arrives late is because somebody in the state of Illinois decided that it was the right time to start repairing roads on the first day of school.  The construction is supposed to last through November and the entire stretch of Lebanon Avenue is being repaired.  I would like to know who made that asinine decision to start now.  Why couldn't it be done during the Summer when most kids are not in school and teachers are having to drive to school.  It is a huge mess now.  It was not like that the day before school started.  I want so much to just go ahead and pick Jackie up but I promised that I would let her ride the bus except for when she has an appointment or for any reason that requires us to be somewhere at a specific time that conflicts with bus schedules. 
Tomorrow is going to be another long day for Jackie.  It will take a few weeks for her to get adjusted to it.  I can tell that Ben misses having his sissy around but pretty soon, he will be busy playing with other kids as I return to substitute teaching in a few weeks.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jackie's First Day of Kindergarten

Today was Jackie's first day of Kindergarten.  She was so excited about school and about riding the bus.  She already told me that I will not be taking her to or picking her up from school.  Yeah, right, Missy.  Thankfully, the bus stop is just on the corner one house away from our house.  Ben tried to get onto the bus, too, and he had quite the attitude when I pulled him off the bus.  School was in session for just an hour and a half today so Ben and I picked up Jackie from school.  I let Jackie pick a place for a celebratory lunch to celebrate first day of Kindergarten.  Of course, she picked every parents' favorite nightmare place, Chuck E Cheese's.  But I'm going to stay positive even though I may come out of there frazzled.  Tomorrow is the official first full day of school.  My little girl is growing up all too quickly.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Life Struggles

You know, medical professionals often say that exercise greatly improves moods in those who struggle with depression and other disorders along that line.  I have recently found this to be true, in a sense.
I've had a lifelong struggle with depression and anxiety/panic disorder.  I've taken medications off and on over the years but I don't like the way those drugs make me feel.  Last year, I really struggled.  It was so cold this past Winter which made it difficult to go out and do anything with the kids.  I had gained and weighed more than I ever had other than pregnancy, possibly even more than pregnancy as I gained @20 pounds during pregnancy.  But this last year, I let myself go fitness-wise and weight-wise.  My already low self-esteem plummeted.  Jackie had major foot surgery which made it even more real that my daughter has a mild disability that will be with her for life.  A couple of weeks after the surgery, Jackie started wetting her pants.  Wetting her pants at school, in the car, at home, at church, at the store, everywhere.  I was frustrated with her and constantly yelled at her and begged her to tell me why she was doing this. This did not in any way, help my already fragile state of mind and I felt like a terrible mom.  Added to all that was the frustration with Ben's speech delay made more frustrating because Ben's receptive skills were out of this world but he could do nothing but grunt and use signs to get his needs met.  He had less than 5 clear words in his vocabulary.  I was at my wits' end with 2 kids with special needs. And nobody who I could really count on to provide me with a few hours respite from it all.  Tim was busy with a full-time load of classes for his MBA plus working full-time so the help from him was minimal at best.  During most of the Winter, I was also going to physical therapy twice a week for my shoulder and back. With everyone's needs, including mine, I rarely had a moment for myself.  I was too busy taking care of everybody else and neglecting myself.  And I was becoming resentful.  Even my best friend here was somewhat absent due to her going back to teaching full-time after several years hiatus and I have to admit that I was slightly jealous that she, at least, got a break from her own family's needs on a regular basis.  (Thankfully, we both realized how valuable our friendship is and we try to not let more than few days pass without talking to each other.) Needless to say, I was a mess and even though I tried to hide it, it was affecting nearly every aspect of my life. 
So, I finally got fed up with the way I was feeling, including how I felt about my weight.  Especially after a couple of comments from Tim that alluded to my weight gain. Until recent years, I was always the skinniest one in my family.  I was just blessed with a high metabolism.  But I'm older now and the pounds started packing on.  I joined the YMCA and immediately tried out a Zumba class.  I kept hearing about Zumba and I just had to check it out.  I was immediately hooked.  I started out going to one weekly class for a couple of weeks and gradually added on a couple more classes and now I go at least 4 times a week.  Plus, I have been working with a personal trainer.  And yes, I do feel better mentally although I still have the occasional panic attack.  Getting back into shape and losing a little bit of weight has boosted my self-esteem.  In additional to the exercise, I was able to take the kids to the play center at the Y while I took care of myself without worry for my kids.
I am SO glad that I joined the Y.  It really is a great place to meet people.  I have a tendency to stay to myself in new environments but there are many people there who are very friendly and welcoming.  I usually feel very inadequate around others and unworthy to be around.  But it didn't take me long to feel like I really belonged there.  We were all there (well, most of us) for one purpose and that was to get fit and lead healthier lifestyles. I have met some fantastic people there.  I really hit it off with one of the very first people I met at the Y. Our kids were the same age and we could relate because we both had at least one child who had some special needs.  She is a wonderful person and an awesome wife and mother.And her kids are hilarious.   Unfortunately, something happened (still not sure what) that put a rift in our friendship. Now we're still friends but I'm much more cautious around her because I do not want to say or do anything that could possibly offend.  I can't quite be myself around her because I value this person's friendship too much. I feel bad that as close in age as our kids are, we have not done much together but both of our families have been busy during the summer. 
I have also made some other friends at the Y.  More great friends.  Friends who have commented positively on the physical changes they've witnessed in me.  One of those friends is a great person except for one that makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable. And that would be the potty mouth.  But I value the friendship enough to try to ignore it.  Heck, even I let words fly but this person has a really potty mouth.  However, it makes me feel good that these new friends have noticed the positive changes. It's a shame, though, that until recently I had to hear such positive remarks when I wasn't even getting them from my own husband.  But bless his heart, he is finally noticing and letting me know it.   What I've been doing these last 6 months has been worth it after all.  And hopefully, Tim won't continue to worry that he's going to end up with an obese wife.
Now just having said all that about making new friends in new places and finally coming out of my shell again, I still struggle with where I truly belong.  Especially at church.  That deserves it's own post later.
I've always struggled with belonging.  I never truly belonged in any one group.  I was always the outcast.  I was the outcast because I had the coke-bottle thick glasses, because I was too skinny, because I was too ugly, because I didn't dress like everybody else due to Mother's refusal to buy me decent clothes, I always wore hand-me-downs (rarely new).  There were things but one of the worst was because of Kenny, my parents' son.  I have no relationship with him.  Again, a story that deserves it's own post when the time is right. Even as I became an adult, I was so socially inept that when people did try to get too close to me, I would do something to compromise those relationships.  It's only been in recent years that I have allowed myself to get close enough to others and develop close-knit relationships. But, I still struggle with being with groups of friends.  I often feel excluded from conversations or events.  I have a difficult time with those who monopolize conversations. It brings back old feelings of always being left out and being unworthy.  I try to avoid groups for another reason and that is because of my hearing loss.  Most people don't realize that I have a hearing loss but over the years, I have learned to compensate by piecing together pieces of conversation to figure out what is being said.  Unfortunately, I still misunderstand at times and respond contrary to what was just said.  Needless to say, many people don't think I'm too swift.  And it hurts to be treated as such.  So, oftentimes, in groups of people, I tend to hang back and just let everybody have their conversations around me.  This often leaves me feeling excluded and isolated.
A couple of situations this past week have brought up these old feelings again and it caused me to become somewhat reserved and slightly depressed.  But I am determined to get past this and to try to keep fostering these friendships.  And?  No matter what happens, I am even more determined to continue working on getting my body back in shape and keep it that way and live a healthier lifestyle. And I want to be a good example for my kids on living a healthy life.  Now if only my knee will quit bothering me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wanted: A boy play pal for my son

It's true.  My boy needs a boy play pal.  He has nothing but girl play pals.  Even at the babysitter's house this past year, all Ben had for playmates were girls.  Boys around Ben's age are in critical shortage right now.  And it shows as evidenced by Ben's love of all things pink, frilly, purple, and girly.  Please help me find a boy play pal for my boy.
Well, at least the headband he's wearing today is green and he's wearing it in a non-traditional way.     Now if only I can find him his own little BLUE mini soccer ball.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Update to Last Post

Okay, here is an update to last night's post about the character at Walmart.  The cashier was right, he is a he who apparently wants to be a she.  He goes by a stage name Dance of Life Dancer.  Original, huh?  Anyway, if you so desire to check it out, here is his website:

He could certainly use some help in the make-up and fashion departments.  And a little cosmetic surgery to tighten those jowls would help, too.   According to his my space page, he's just 29 years old.  (Of course, I don't believe that.  The jowls gave that away.)
Oh, and I should credit my cousin, Hollie, for finding his my space page. 

The Weird is Out at Walmart Tonight

Lately, I loathe Walmart.  I try to avoid going there, especially at night when the weirdness seems to prevail.  So tonight, I had to go to Walmart to get Jackie her soccer stuff and to try to get the school supplies that I've been trying to purchase.  I just cannot find the list of supplies for Jackie's school so tonight, I was so fed up that I just decided to get whatever I think will be on the list. 
As I walked into the store and grabbed a cart, I noticed this person in front of me who was dressed a little... hmm... oddly?  She (or so, I though it was she) had on this flowing back fairy like skirt with points on the bottom, a top with another shirt underneath, tights, and tennis shoes.  In addition, she (or he?) had on all this costume jewelry, a headband with a big bow, and had a blue powder (maybe eyeshadow?) coating all of the area around each eye.  S/He looked to be an older person.  So I grabbed a cart and took off to find everything I went there for.  Less than 5 minutes later, I encounter this individual again.  On the other side of the store!
Okay, so I grab the stuff I need and then I went to the frozen section to get something that Tim requested.  Then I headed to the checkout. As I'm checking out, I kept hearing a clicking noise and I turned to look behind me.  Lo and behold, there was the fairy lady.  Paying for her (his?) stuff.  I couldn't help but quietly tell the cashier that the weird really comes out at night and she nodded in agreement and said "uhhh huhhhh"  Then I just motioned toward the person behind me and the cashier just chuckled and held her head down for a moment before gathering her composure enough to give me my receipt.  Then the cashier told me that it was actually a man.  Are you kidding me?!  Oh, my.  The cashier couldn't help but chuckle at me and she kept "reassuring" me that yes, indeed, it was a man.  A man! In that fairy outfit. Apparently this person goes to that Walmart all the time, at night, and dresses oddly like that.  The cashier informed me that this person goes by the name Susan Stone and also has another alias referring to a dancer. 
Well, I guess that isn't as bad as what I witnessed over a year ago at the the other Walmart. I was shopping with both kids and was heading down a middele aisle to head toward the registers.  All of a sudden, this person comes out from a side aisle at full speed and only stopped with he reached his cart.  It was a funny scene until I noticed something a little off.  It was then that I noticed that this man was wearing a pink women's sweater and it was obvious that he was wearing a bra underneath.  A bra that looked as if it was stuffed with tissue paper.  It was definitely a rookie attempt at being a woman.  He also had on a  pair of jeans and a pair of women's short heel shoes.  But, he had a male hair cut with a slight mustache.  Another customer heading the opposite direction of me asked me at the same time as I asked her "did I just see correctly?" Then we each nodded in affirmation and went our own ways.  It was a strange sight.  I guess the man just couldn't decide which side he wanted to be on.  

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ben's Progress

Ben has been making great progress with his speech in these last couple of weeks.  He is becoming more clear and is able to form new sounds.  His latest is "bo" for boat, "moo" for moon, "muh ma" for my mom, " a du" for all done.  That is in addition to what he has already been saying.  His speech therapist was able to get Ben to say "shoe".  Ben usually pronounces shoe as "oosh".  I haven't been able to solicit the initial "sh" sound since Ben's therapist visited last.  He is back to saying "oosh".
I got the final evaluation report a week ago and after reading it, I can understand now why there is a slight concern for the DiGeorge syndrome.  But again, if Ben does test positive, I'm confident that it will be just a partial deletion.  One of the things mentioned in the report was his almond shaped eyes.  That is considered a soft sign.  I always thought that was just a feature on my maternal side.  And the hypernasality could indicate a possible submucous cleft palate.  As I mentioned before, there has been suspicion that I may have a submucous cleft palate.  I've always had a fistula on my palate which indicates the submucous cleft possibility. 
Somebody once asked why I and Tim would need to be tested for the DiGeorge gene if we aren't having more children.  Well the answer is simple.  If Ben tests positive, then it is important for us, as his parents, to be tested to determine if the syndrome is hereditary or just a fluke.
Despite Ben's struggles with speech, he is a very smart little boy.  People often remark how intelligent Ben seems to be and that makes me feel so much better about Ben's prognosis.  Ben's receptive skills have always measured somewhat ahead.  He understand multiple commands, he has excellent problem solving skills, he catches on to things very quickly.  Ben has always blown me away with his knowledge.  Ben even knows how to get more of what he wants.  For example, for potty training, I used skittles and M&Ms for rewards.  I still give Ben one of those for going potty just because.  Well, he learned how to earn more reward for less output.  He's such a little stinker.  He would sit on the potty and squeeze a tiny bit of urine out and then extend his hand for his reward.  Less than a minute later, the process is repeated.  Of course, after a couple of episodes like this, I figured what he was doing.
Now that we have gotten an initial definitive diagnosis, I am feeling less stress and have even been more open about Ben's speech issues.  It is nothing to be ashamed of nor does it have anything to do with Ben's intelligence.  Now if only I could just shut up those who keep insisting that Ben would talk if others would quit talking for him. That is so not the case.  Apraxia is a legitimate diagnosis.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Holiday World 2010

This past Monday and Tuesday, the kids and I enjoyed Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN.  It was sort of a last minute trip with our neighbor and her 2 girls, plus C's friend, MA.  I'm going to be sweet about C's friend and say that I hope she doesn't join us for anything like this again.  Having said that, though, MA was great with my kids, especially Ben who seemed to take a real liking to MA. 
Holiday World is a great family oriented amusement park and water park.  There is something there for everyone of any age in both parks.  There are so many nice things about Holiday World including free parking, affordable concessions, free fountain drinks and sunscreen all day, and the admission is somewhat affordable, especially considering that the admission price includes entry to both the water park and the amusement park.  Another nice thing is that the kid rides are throughout the park instead of in one specific location.  That way, the entire family can enjoy visiting around the park instead of having to hang out in one kid area with the little ones. 
We spent the majority of the first day at the amusement park with a short visit to the water park.  After leaving the park that evening, we headed to the hotel in Jasper where we reserved adjoining rooms.  We got checked in and got into our rooms.  Within five minutes of getting into the rooms, we received a phone call from the front desk that the occupants below us were complaining about the noise.  Oops.  It was hard to contain the 3 younger kids.  So we got them all into their swimsuits and took them down to the pool.
The next day, Tuesday, we spent have the day at the amusement park and half the day at the water park.  Jackie kept asking if she could go on some of the bigger water rides.  I kept putting her off and telling her that she was too little.  Jackie is quite observant.  While watching the people coming down on the tall racer slides, she kept excitedly pointing out all the other little kids coming down.  I knew Jackie was not going to give up until I showed her proof that she was too small.  So, off we went to the measuring station for the slides.  My heart sank when it showed that Jackie just barely made it for the height requirement.  I couldn't help but ask myself if there was a weight restriction, too.  I just did not want my little girl to go up there.  I was scared to think of what could happen to her.  I mean, you have to go down these slides on a mat, head first and on your belly.  And with Jackie's weak left side, I just was not too sure that she could hang onto the handles well.  Cindy offered to take Jackie up there with herself and her younger daughter, T.  I really wanted to cry.  My little girl is growing up and she's so brave.  I watched for Jackie to come down and when she finally did, my heart just burst with pride for my little girl.  The lifeguard gave me permission to go help Jackie bring her mat in as it was obvious she was struggling with it.  Later on, I took Jackie down one of the tube rides with me and she loved that one, too.  I think we have a budding ride enthusiast on our hands.  Except for the log flume.  She did not like that one. 
The water park closes an hour before the amusement park closes.  I took the kids to one of the kid sections so they could enjoy a few more rides.  Ben especially seemed to enjoy the little rides.  So much, that when the rides stopped promptly at 7:30, he kicked and screamed when I took him off that last ride.  Then he promptly sat himself down on the ground, crossed his arms, put a pouty face on, and waved "goodbye" to us.  Heheh. We were eventually able to convince Ben that it was time to go.  We spent one more night at the hotel before we headed home today.
I am so proud of my kids and C's kids.  They behaved so well during the entire trip and I truly enjoyed the time with them.  I just with my kids would have such good behavior at least half the time here at home. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sexual IQ Part Deux

Okay, so tonight I had a lot of things to take care of before I and the kids (along with our neighbor Cindy and her girls)  leave tomorrow morning for our trip to Holiday World.  One of those things that I needed to take care of was bills.  I am the one who takes care of the bills and I do most of them online.  So, I opened up our cell phone bill and noticed that it was about $20 more than normal again this month.  Last month, I figured that it was more than usual because I had gone over my texting limit.  So this month I take a closer look and discover that there was a monthly subscription added to our bill for $19.99 a month for purchasing ringtones.  Really?!  Ringtones for $20 a month?  You have got to be kidding me?  I know for a fact that I never purchased this.  Plus, it was being billed on Tim's cell phone number.  Now I need to explain something.  For one, Tim rarely uses his phone or even carries it with him.  And two, he has no clue how to do stuff, other than dial, on the cell phone.  So, I knew something was seriously wrong here.  Unless Tim, or even Ben, was playing around with the phone and accidentally ordered some sort of service, there was no way we would order something as dumb as that.
I called AT&T to inquire about this charge and the representative on the phone explained that it was actually being billed by a third party going by the name of Flycell.  Hmm,  Flycell?  I explained that I have no clue what this company is about and that I never ordered anything via any cell phone on our plan.  I also explained that I know for a fact that Tim did not place an order because he virtually has no cell phone skills.  The rep looked up when the order was placed and voila, it was placed on June 16, the very same day that my awesome husband placed a text to a strange number. That episode ended up with Tim receiving 2 texts in a row asking what his Sexual IQ was.  Although I was more than a bit annoyed by this, I also poked fun at it in the story I posted on this blog on June 16.  Go check it out, you might learn a lesson about... hmm... well,  I'll just be nice and leave it at that.
So anyway,  I then realized why we are receiving this charge.  Well, I continued to play dumb with the rep and he told me that he heard a rumor that sometimes the third parties who activate the phones (ie. Radio Shack, Walmart, etc) automatically bill for ringtone subscriptions.  Uh huh.  Okay, I didn't dare say a word.  The rep looked at our account and was able to credit us for those past 2 months that we were charged for this subscription.  And? He offered to put a stop feature on that cell phone to prevent any purchases of any type of media unless a PIN is used.  Of course, I told the rep I most definitely wanted that feature on that phone.  Wow, if only I had known about prior to June 16 and we could have avoided this mess before it even started.
Hmm, I was just wondering, is there really such a thing as Sexual IQ?  After all, there is Emotional IQ, Musical IQ, Social IQ; you-name-it, there's an IQ.  I wonder if there is a common sense IQ?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Runaway Baby, ADD Dad, and Funnel Cakes

Today started out okay.  I took Jackie to her first soccer practice.  I am also the coach of her team.  Now I never, ever thought I would be a coach.  When the director of this program (Upward) called me to ask if I could help out with coaching, I reluctantly said "yes."  What did I get myself into?  Eh, I'm just an assistant coach so it can't be all that bad, right? So, this week I received an updated roster of the players and I had to call and introduce myself and provide information. Okay, no problem, that's what an assistant is for, right?  Uh huh.  Right.  Well, last night I just happened to look at the top of the roster where the coaches names were listed.  I see Head Coach checked off and I see assistant coach.  Next to Head Coach?  I see my name.  MY NAME!  And I didn't notice this until last night. Okay now, when I got the call from J, I was asked if I could help.  Either I am really deaf or maybe I was in denial or maybe J just didn't bother to say HEAD coach to me. I reluctantly agree to HELP because nobody else could do it except one other parent who also agreed to help.  So, off I went, nervous as could be, to coach Jackie's team.  It wasn't too bad although I'm still not too thrilled about having all the pressure on me.  Thankfully, these are little kids who have not played previously so we will all learn together.  I played soccer as a youth and loved the game but it has been a very long time and I really don't remember all the rules.  Come to find out, though, Upward has slightly modified rules to take the pressure of winning away from the little kids.  Cool.
After practice, Jackie and I went over to the rental house where Tim was already hard at work working around the house.  After I got lunch for everybody, I tackled the upstairs.
After I ran a couple of errands, I went back to our home to start dinner preparation.  While doing so, Tim came in with Ben and said he was going to go ahead and take Ben into the shower with him.  Good, that was one less ordeal for me tonight.  While the boys showered, I continued working on dinner in the kitchen.  Tim stayed in the bedroom to watch TV until dinner was done and I thought Ben was with Tim.  Dinner was nearly done when Jackie started calling out for Ben and looking for him.  I asked Jackie if Ben might be in his room.  No was her reply.  So, I quickly looked in all the bedrooms and Ben was nowhere to be found.  I looked out the front door and there is the neighbor girl, Taylor, carrying Ben up to our door.  Taylor said that Ben was just sitting on her family's front porch.  Just sitting there all by himself until Taylor came outside and discovered Ben.  Ben somehow sneaked out the front door, in just his blue underwear, and walked over to the neighbor's house to just hang on their porch.  By himself.  I think I have scar tissue around my heart from the many times that Ben has caused my heart to stop with his antics.
After dinner, Tim wanted to take us to the Mascoutah Homecoming.  Apparently, Tim had promised Jackie earlier in the day that he would take her there.  Okay, so while I'm cleaning the kitchen, Tim starts to get Ben changed and into some street clothes.  After I finish the kitchen duties, I proceeded to gather the kids' shoes.  I looked in Ben's room and there he is, standing on his bed... in just a pull-up.  Hmm, I thought Tim got Ben into some clothes.  I noticed Ben's pull-up looked sort of... lopsided and lumpy in front?  On further inspection, I noticed that Tim had put the pull-up on in such a way that the waist band was used as one leg hole and a leg hole was used as a waistband.  I just had to roll my eyes.  Was it not obvious to Tim that something was wrong with this picture?  Then I put street clothes on Ben.  During the time while I corrected Ben's pull-up and clothed him, I asked Ben if he disrobed himself or did Daddy just leave him that way?  Of course, Tim was oblivious.  I just had to roll my eyes again.  This ADD stuff?  Is not so fun in a marriage.  So we get to the homecoming, which is actually a fair with all the carny rides and bad food and redneck music.  Not my cup of tea but eh, it was a family outing.  We let the kids ride a ride and Jackie and I shared an Italian ice.  Now, I appreciate Tim wanting to do something like this as a family outing but gee, his ADD issues need serious attention.  There are reasons why I don't enjoy doing this type of thing even as a family.  Soon after we got there, we were walking around when Tim suddenly smells BBQ.  He quickly said that he'll catch up with us and he disappeared. He didn't even give me a chance to say anything.  I was contending with Ben getting out of the stroller while trying to share the Italian ice with Jackie.  And Tim didn't have his phone with him.  Why does he even bother with having a cell phone?  I looked around to see where Tim might have gone and a few moments, I decided to head toward the ponies with the kids.  Jackie asked about riding the ponies but when I saw how much it cost for a ride that was probably less than a minute, I balked.  No way was I paying $4 per kid to ride on a little pony around a tiny circle.   Mean mommy, I know.  Then we head toward another area where there some antique tractors on display.  All of a sudden, there was the loud noise of a tractor engine starting and Ben tried to run away to hide.  Thankfully, I was able to keep him in my line of vision and I tried to reassure him.  Soon after that, the fabulous Tim showed up... sans BBQ.  But he did invest in a bag of Kettle Corn.  Right after he found us, Tim starts walking ahead of me... eating his kettle corn without a care in the world.  In the meantime, I am still trying to reassure Ben and I have Jackie whining in the stroller.  On top of that, the stroller was becoming more difficult to push because we were on crushed rock by this time.  This was just the first of many times that Tim would just walk off ahead of me and the kids. Both of the kids would then run and try to catch up with their dad while I tried hard to keep them in my line of vision.  This ADD stuff is starting to cause me a little more stress again.   Finally, Tim stopped long enough to buy tickets for each of the kids to ride one ride.  The kids enjoyed it and Ben sobbed when it was his time to get off the ride.  As we were leaving, Jackie started having a meltdown.  Over what?  We weren't quite sure.  She wasn't making sense.  But I have to say that Tim handled Jackie tonight very well.  I'm proud of him.
Now I need to list a few reasons why I don't care for these type of events:
1. I think the rides at these events are cheesy and they're too expensive.  I mean, gee, the cheapest ride for the kids was $2 per kid and the ride lasted for maybe a minute.  Maybe two.  But no more.  Some of the rides were $4 per kid, including that cutsie pony ride.
2. I don't like all the dust.  I know, that's no reason to keep the kids away from there.
3.  Smokers.  Ugh, I cannot tolerate that tobacco smell. At. All.  And I think those who cannot even put down a cigarette for 30 second in order to safely strap their kid into a ride, well, I just think they are very irresponsible and are risking serious injury to the kid.  I witness this lady putting her kid upon the same ride we put Ben on.  She strapped the kid in while at the same time holding that dang cigarette between her fingers.  The fingers on the very same hand that she was using to adjust the ride strap.  Now that?  The cigarette was less than an inch away from this kid's body.  Thank god I was never drawn to that garbage.
4.  I think fairs and such are huge rip-offs.  Not only are the rides expensive, but the food is, too.  And it's bad food.  No wonder there is such an epidemic of obesity.  I mean, deep-fried Twinkies, deep-fried candy bars, deep-fried dough, deep-fried onion, deep-fried everything.
5. Another reason fairs are such rip-offs?  Well, if you look around, one must realize that not everybody there is truly able to afford it.  If you think about, for the money spent on the food, the ride tickets, the cheesy crafts, well, one is better off visiting an amusement park where you pay an inclusive price for an entire day at the park.  In fact, some parks are now offering a meal plan in addition to entrance ticket.
I find it very sad that some of those people are forgoing paying their rent or their utility bill in order to enjoy an expensive night at a Podunk, redneck fair while dining on artery clogging food. Now I'm not referring to those who enjoy that occasional treat but it should be just that, an occasional treat.
Now having said that, I'm looking forward to indulging in a funnel cake at Holiday World in a couple of days.  But I'm limiting it to one, so no worries.  I've been working too hard to get into shape.  And I know portion control.  

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Let Me Call You Sweetheart"

I made another visit tonight to the MotoMart to get my crushed ice after working hard at Zumba.  As I parked the car, I noticed that the same cashier from last night was working again.  Hmm.  I needed my ice fix so I quickly dashed in and headed for the drink station for my ice.  When I went up to pay, I was sort of relieved to see a small line of customers. Oh, good.  Maybe that cashier won't make me blush tonight.  So I get up there to pay for my ice and he greeted me "sweetheart".  I just had to chuckle.  Now this... was getting kind of funny.  Then he sweetly told me that I need to bring my own cup because the ice is free that way.  Hot diggity, I love free stuff, even if it is just ice.  So, now my head is just a little swollen tonight. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Just Random Stuff Today

This morning, Jackie was having a ball playing fashion diva.  Only I hope that she truly does not aspire to be a fashion designer as you will see in the picture below.  She is such a silly girl.  Oh, how I love her.
In the afternoon, I had an appointment with the personal trainer.  I was ready to conquer that beast machine.  But alas, I was off the hook today.  I had an awesome workout today.  It was hard but I didn't feel like I was dying today.  It did make me wonder momentarily if the workout was just too easy.  But I did work hard.  Misti had me start out doing 3 sets of 15 burpees.  I hate those things with a passion but I actually was able to get through them without having to stop for a breather.  Now, that's not to say they were perfect because they certainly were not.  Then we moved on the the knee press, suitcase lunges, some kind of exercise that I think is the tuck, step, and another machine that I like.  I just can't remember the name of it.  After a couple of sets, we went downstairs where Misti had me do some other exercises.  Not too bad except for the one machine that cause me a headache, literally.  I think it was the leg curl.  I have to check on that one.  But it was a great session and I felt much more confident about what I got myself into.
Tonight I finally dragged my neighbor to Aqua Zumba.  Her daughter and daughter's friend also came and they had a great time.  I think Cindy enjoyed it more than she thought she would and she said she would go again.  It was an awesome workout.
After Aqua Zumba, I stopped at the Motomart to get a cup of the pellet ice that I really like.  When I walked in, the male cashier called out "hey beautiful".  Surely, I KNOW he's not talking about me because I'm just so not.  Plus, I was a mess after having done aqua zumba.  So, I looked around to see who this beautiful woman is that he was greeting.  The cashier pointed right at me and said "yeah, you!"  Whoa!  I have a ring on, did he not see that?  Oh my!  I just didn't know how to react so I just kind of smiled at him and headed straight to the ice machine.  Wow, a young guy called me beautiful.  Imagine that.  Hahaha.  Well, needless to say, my head is still a little swollen right now.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Tattooed, Bearded Lady

Well, maybe not bearded, but she did have purple in her hair.
After Jackie's physical therapy appointment this afternoon, I decided to take Jackie to the local cosmetology school to get her hair cut.  We got there and there was a 10-minute wait.  While waiting, I noticed one of the stylists had a lot of tattoos, pretty much covering her body, and from a distance, it looked like her lower lip was sort of deformed on the right side.  Deformities don't bother me but I don't care for heavy tattoos.  Being the prude that I am, I sat there hoping that this person would not be the next available stylist.
Well, just as my luck would have it, this live canvas was the next available stylist and came and called for Jackie.  When Jackie realized who was going to cut her hair, she tried to hide her face.  I think Jackie was a bit intimidated at first.  But I just followed Jackie and tried to act as if nothing was out of the ordinary in an effort to get Jackie to relax.  Upon closer inspection, I realized that this deformity that I mentioned above was not a deformity after all.  It was actually a metal hoop through her lower left lip with a metal stud right next to it.  I don't understand why it was just on one side.  It just looked really lopsided without a matching set on the right side.  Plus, she had a hoop going through her nose.  I don't even understand the purpose of all of that except to say "to each his/her own."
Now having said all that, I am not against tattoos or piercings.  I personally don't care for tattoos and I refuse to let Tim get a tattoo.  Any time he has brought it up, I threaten to get my hair dyed blond which usually brings an end to the discussion.  I really don't mind some piercings but I prefer ones that don't bring attention.  I have the typical pierced ears plus I have a piercing on the upper right ear.  I like my piercing and it doesn't draw attention.  I had also considered getting a tiny nose piercing, much like what the Indian women get.  I've always thought those were cute but small enough that it wouldn't draw attention.  I was all set to get it done but the morning that I was going to have it done, Jackie started crying on the way to school begging me to not get it done.  Jackie wasn't just crying, she was sobbing.  So I decided against the nose piercing.  So one of my friends suggested that I get the navel piercing but I just don't care for that kind of piercing.
I mentioned that I am not against piercings but there has to be a limit.  Plus, I don't care for those that draw attention.  So, rest assure, you'll never see me with a hoop in my eyelid/brow, lip, nose, neck, forehead, chest, and other unmentionable places.  Now that (unmentionable places), makes me shudder.