Yes, it is!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Carrington's Courage; an Update

For those who have read my post about Carrington read here.
This update brought happy tears.  This little girl is so precious and so beautiful. This angel is a fighter for sure.

Click here to get the backstory. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Humor Week

This has been the week for humor.  It all started when Jackie made me the sweetest card saying that she loved me... but not everyday.  Then the next day, she told me that she was sorry she made the card.  Of course, I know she isn't.
One of my friends laughs at me all the time.  For some reason, she thinks that I'm funny.  Even when I'm being serious.  Just a random thought there.  I still like her, though. 
On Wednesday, I went back to the doctor for a consult.  Some of my friends may remember that I went to this doctor to see about getting a breast reduction.  Tricare did approve part of the surgery.  So, I thought, perhaps if I lose some weight, that would increase the likelihood that Tricare would cover the surgery in full.  I did not anticipate losing any weight on top.  In the past when I lost weight, I did not get smaller.  And I ended up getting larger after I had each of my children.  So, I've lost weight and toned up.  And surprisingly, I lost on top, too.  But, I still have discomfort around the neck and shoulders.  When I saw the doctor, she did not seem too pleased about my weight loss.  In fact, she asked me if I could put some weight back on because she was pretty sure that Tricare would not cover the surgery now.  I looked at her incredulously and then started to laugh.  I wasn't sure that she was serious at first.  But the expression on her face told me otherwise.  Well, the answer is NO, I will not put the weight back on.  I worked hard to get to where I am at now and I'm not looking back.
It snowed on Friday.  During the first week of Spring.  Yeah, nice trick Mother Nature. 
Friday afternoon, as I was stripping Jackie's bed to change her sheets, I found this:
It startled me for a moment before I realized it was fake.  I don't know who put it between the sheets.  Both of my children are pranksters. 
I was planning to work out this morning but I ended up sleeping a little later and I didn't have time to get the kids and myself ready to be at the class on time.  It's a good thing, too. Because Ben vomited a half hour after he awoke.  Projectile vomiting.  And what's funny is that there was no indication.  None.  He walked past me and as he did so, he just suddenly let loose.  As he was walking.  All over my bedroom carpet.  I guess his Ovaltine didn't settle well.  So off to the bath we went.  Then I had to suffer the task of cleaning up the horrid mess.  The day just went downhill from there.  Since my upright carpet cleaner doesn't work well anymore and my neighbor wasn't home for me to borrow his, I had to wait for Tim to get home from his fun morning so that I could go to the BX to find another carpet cleaner.
Right before I set out on my venture in search of a new carpet cleaner, it started to snow.  BIG snowflakes.  Fast and furious.  What the heck?! This is the first week of spring and my pretty lilies are already blooming.  Well, they aren't now.  Mother Nature is a little confused right now.   



After I got home from buying another carpet cleaner, Tim suggested that he wanted homemade chicken noodle soup for dinner.  So, off to Dierberg's I went to buy the missing ingredients.  I also bought a flavored, carbonated water which promptly exploded on me.  All over me.  My jeans, my feet, my white sweater.  And it was cold outside.  And I had to brush the snow off my back windshield.  With wet jeans and wet sweater.  And to make matters worse, the snow was driving so hard that it was even blowing inside of my sweater and against my skin.  Now I was really cold.
I had planned one more stop at St. Louis Bread but that plan was derailed.  I drove home and as I came into the house from the garage, Tim had to do a double take. I was walking bow-legged and I had red stuff all down the front of me.  Good thing he didn't laugh.  Because he would still be hurting.  So I changed into sweat pants and headed back out to the Bread Co.  Can't have soup without bread here. 
The dogs are another issue.  Tim seems to think that we should continue to provide comfortable beds for the dogs.  I disagree.  These pictures will tell you why I disagree:

Dumb dogs.  See that big pile of fluff? Just when I thought the beds had no more fluff in them, the dogs still managed to pull a good amount out of one of the beds.  See the chew holes?  The top picture shows the bottom of one of the beds.  I cannot tell you how much money we've spent on dog beds.  But I refuse to pay more than $5/bed any longer.  Perhaps I should wrap them in duct tape next time.  Oh never mind, they will find a way to destroy that, too.  I do have one of those dog cots but it's in the basement.  Want to know why it's in the basement?  It seems the dogs are determined to destroy that, too, as indicated by the chew marks.  Plus the kids seem to enjoy using the dog cot for their own pleasure and that just... well, it just skeeves me out.  The dogs aren't even allowed to sleep on the human beds.  We have looked for indestructible dog beds but after researching, we found this: 
This is a $200 ToughChew Indestructible Dog Bed by Orvis. They do offer a replacement if your dog “rips” it. This is our 3rd…they stopped sending replacements and gave us our money back!!
http://www.shitmypetsruined.com/2010/07/29/weimeraner-vs-bed/.  Um, no.  Not doing that, either. 
Here's to a better tomorrow (and week).  And no more snow until next Winter.  Oh, and by the way, the soup turned out really good.  I used an Amish-made noodle this time.

Saving Kirill

 Another special needs child needs our prayers.  Kirill currently lives in Europe.  His new parents were denied finalized adoption by the judge over there because Kirill was not "socially adaptable", whatever that means.  Kirill has Down Syndrome.  His parents were heartbroken over the judge's decision but they have not given up.  They are determined to bring Kirill home for good.  You must take a look at his parents' blog.  Kirill is precious, he is so cute, and most of all, he is so loved by his parents and brother.  Please keep this family in your prayers.  The link is below.
http://oureyesopened.blogspot.com/2011/03/kirills-story.html

Friday, March 25, 2011

Puppies For Sale

This is the title of a book written by Dan Clark, a contributing author for Chicken Soup For the Soul books.  It is a very short story, a book that may be enjoyed by all ages.  I bought this book years ago, before I thought I would ever have children or get married.  I really don't know why I bought.  Perhaps it was the cute title and cover.  Or perhaps it was because it reminded me of how I was bullied as a child.  When I bought the book, I never, ever imagined that I would have a child who would have a disability.  The first time I read this book to my precious daughter, I nearly could not finish for the tears flowing down. 
Since I'm unsure of the rules about coping a story in a blog, I will just provide a synopsis of the story.  This is in honor of Cerebral Palsy Awareness month.

A store owner posted a sign that he had some puppies for sale.  A little boy came inside the store and asked how much the puppies were selling for.  The store owner stated no less than $50 for each puppy.  The little boy handed over all the change he had in his pocket.  The amount totaled $2.37.  Then the boy asked to look at the puppies.  The store owner whistled and suddenly the mother dog and her 5 puppies came running out.  The little boy noticed a puppy who lagged behind, limping.  He asked what was wrong with the puppy.  The store owner shared that the puppy had a missing hip socket and that he would always limp.  The little boy wanted to buy that puppy.   The store owner told the boy that he wouldn't want to buy the puppy.  But if the boy really wanted that puppy, then the store owner said that he would just give the puppy to the little boy.  The boy became angry and told the store owner that he did not want the puppy for free.  He informed the store owner that the puppy was worth just as much as the other puppies and that he would pay full price.  The boy would pay a monthly payment until the full balance of $50 was paid.  The store owner tried to argue with the boy that the boy really would not want the dog because the dog would never be able to run and jump like other dogs.  In front of the store owner, the little boy pulled up his pant-leg to reveal a disabled leg being supported by a brace.  And he told the store owner that since he couldn't run well himself, then the puppy needed somebody like himself (the little boy) who understands.
As the book flap states, this inspirational story delivers a vivid message of human understanding and unconditional love.  This book means more to me now than I ever dreamed it would when I bought it years before Jackie was even a thought.  Unfortunately, this book is now out of print.  And good luck finding it on Amazon.com.  This really is a book that should be included in every school library. Or even doctor's offices. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pray For Carrington

I have recently become a follower of a fellow blogger.  She is getting ready to adopt 3 special needs children from overseas.  In one of her latest posts, she included a link to another blog asking for prayer for this very special little girl.  You have to read her story.  It is truly a miracle that this little girl, Carrington, even survived the plane trip to the US with her new adoptive parents.  She is 3 years old and weighed what a very young infant would weigh. Her picture is heartbreaking.  I just cannot get the picture out of my mind.  It is that horrific.  She looked worse than a concentration camp victim.  But thankfully, she is starting to show signs of improvement. 
Carrington has Down Syndrome.  I've always had a heart for special needs people, especially those with Down Syndrome or craniofacial anomalies.  If my husband was on board to adopt, I would jump at the chance to adopt one of these children.  I know, I know, I already have enough on my plate.  But this is one issue that has been close to my heart for many years. 
Please pray for Carrington.
The link is here: http://carringtonscourage.blogspot.com.  Or you can just simply click on the button to the right.

I Need to Do This More Often

Last night as usual, I went to my Tuesday evening Zumba class.  Sometimes, I will take Jackie with me and she will go to the playcenter at the Y.  I usually do it to so that Tim wouldn't have to deal with 2 fighting children while I'm gone for an hour and a half.  He just doesn't deal with it as well as I do.  But last night, I left Jackie at home hoping that all would be well when I got back home.  Wrong!
As soon as I walked in the door, Tim greeted me at the door, very stressed out, and stated "I can't take her anymore."  What happened now?  I couldn't quite the entire story from him but I got the impression that Jackie was in one of her meltdown modes after her dad told her multiple times to help pick up toys.  (This is why I unplug the TV) I immediately went into Jackie's room where she was crying and where she was supposed to be getting ready for bed.  She still had on her school clothes.  I then checked on Ben and he was already sitting in bed with a book.  So, I went back to Jackie's room and sternly told her that she better have her bed clothes on before I finish taking the trash canister out to the curb for the next day pick-up.  I came back inside and by now, Jackie had her bed clothes on (a miracle as this feat can take her over an hour with her poky-ness) and she needed help buttoning up her top.  I then brushed her teeth myself and walked her back into her room.  I then sat on Jackie's bed next to her to talk to her for a moments, no yelling or stern talking, just casual talking.  I then affirmed to Jackie how much her dad and I love her and that we want only the best for her and that is why we expect her to obey us.  I told her that we want her to be somebody that people would enjoy being around.  That means first-time obedience and no meltdowns.  Then I prayed an earnest prayer with Jackie, even asking God to help Jackie be a more obedient little girl.  We prayed for her healing from CP and for protection at school the next day.  We also prayed for her behavior to get better, sassy-ness and all.  Jackie then asked me to pray that God will wake her up in the middle of the night to go potty.  (I'll get to that in a moment.)  That request warmed me because this is an issue that she has struggled with and she wants so badly to wake up EVERY morning with dry pants.  So, I prayed with Jackie about that, that her brain will get the message before her bladder works during the night when Jackie has to potty.  I then thanked God for my precious children, my miracles.  After we said amen, I just sat next to Jackie while I caressed her back and head for a few moments.  What a huge difference this made in Jackie's mood and it took just a few minutes.  It felt so good that I was able to help Jackie get into a "happy spirit" before I kissed and hugged her goodnight.  I have to share that this has not always been the case.  Tim and I sometimes will be so aggravated with Jackie at bedtime that we will just put her to bed without really reassuring her of our love for her.  I have realized over the last couple of months that Jackie so needs this reassurance.  But still, I didn't feel that I was very sincere with her because of my frustration with her at times. Jackie is a very strong-willed child and we get so frustrated with her.  But I have been getting better and last night was testament that this is what I need to strive to do EVERY night, frustration or not. 
Now to explain Jackie's personal prayer request.  Jackie is 6 years old but I still have to use protection on Jackie's bed and on her because Jackie still has a bed-wetting issue.  This is the first time that I am publicly writing about this as it has been a very difficult issue, not only for Jackie, but for me.  I felt like I was doing something wrong as a mother.  Why couldn't my 6-year old sleep through the night without wetting?  She does have dry mornings but the wet mornings outnumber the dry.  I have had her evaluated.  Jackie's neurologist said that Jackie is too young still to be very concerned about it now.  And she was evaluated by a physical therapist who specializes in the area of bed-wetting.  That therapist also was not very concerned about the night-time wetting because of Jackie's age.  Jackie does tend to sleep very heavily.  I have cut out fluids for Jackie from 7pm on.  I have used rewards.  I have even tried rousing her and carrying her to the toilet in the middle of the night in an effort to help Jackie achieve her goal of staying dry.  That is so difficult.  It was like carrying dead weight.  So, I just continue to provide pull-up pants for Jackie for night-time use. And I keep her mattress covered with a vinyl cover,  2 mattress pad covers and a chux pad.  I feel bad when Jackie wants to sleep over at a friend's house and I have to pack a pull-up for her.  I know she feels a little self-conscious about it but she has gotten used to it.  I have spoken to a few other moms in the past couple of years who have had daughters with the same issue and some of those girls didn't outgrow the bedwetting until they were 11-12 years old.  In fact, Tim's aunt, whom we visited last summer in California, shared that she was 12 years old before she finally quit wetting her bed.  So, it does make me feel better that I am not alone in this.  I sometimes can't help but wonder if Jackie's bedwetting problem is partly due to her CP.  The neurologist said it may or may not be.  At this age, he is very hesitant to do any testing right now.  So, we will just continue to keep Jackie's mattress protected and allow her to continue to wear pull-ups.  Maybe one day soon, God will answer Jackie's prayer. I sure hope so.  It is a little disconcerting when Jackie's 3-year old brother has more dry mornings than does Jackie.  So there you have it.  Another secret out of the bag. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I Love You But...

not everyday.  "I love you but- not everyday". 
This evening, Jackie presented me with a handmade card with those exact words.  Funny girl.  She even presented me her balloon flower bouquet with it. She then insisted that I display it on the refrigerator.  I told her that it would just be thrown away in a day and she gasped.  This child of mine.  I love her so.  


Friday, March 18, 2011

Anxiety

I make it no secret that I suffer from anxiety/panic disorder.  For some reason, ever since I've had children, my anxiety level is increased.  Over the years, I have learned how some of my attacks may be triggered.  Caffeine is one culprit.  I love sweet tea but unfortunately, none of the restaurants around here serve the decaffeinated variety.  So I will get the regular sweet tea when I am out but I try to limit my consumption. 
Yesterday, Ben and I enjoyed lunch at Chick Fil A with a group of ladies from church. I ordered a sweet tea with my order.  That was a mistake as by afternoon, I was starting to feel a little bit of anxiety.  Last night, I felt okay enough to go to Zumba.  Usually, the room is a little cool at the beginning of the class.  Last night, the room was already very warm before the class even started.  It took no time before the sweating began.  After about a half hour, I was starting to feel light-headed and a little queasy.  So I stood outside the room for a few moments.  After I re-entered the class, I could tell that my anxiety level was beginning to increase and the heat was not helping matters. Plus, the ear and jaw pain on my left side was starting to pick up again.  So I left.  On the drive home,  I started to panic and then I became worried about the pain as it has gotten worse in the last few days.  All I could think of was that I had a brain tumor which caused me to panic even more.  About halfway home, I called somebody to ask her to pray for me.  I was so scared.  I made it home and I got the kids into bed.  That helped to distract me a little bit from my panic state. 
After the I got the kids to bed, I sat on the couch to read.  The facial pain was still there so I decided that I was just going to have to call the doctor the next morning to see if I could be seen.  I started to feel a little more at ease as the evening wore on. 
I got up this morning and the facial pain was still there.  My anxiety level was slightly, too.  For the past several weeks, it would come in waves but not last long.  I had a routine dental appointment several weeks ago and everything was fine so I couldn't understand why my teeth were hurting, too.  I called Family Practice and was able to get an appointment this morning, thankfully.  Unfortunately, I couldn't see my regular doctor so I was assigned to be seen by another doctor.  (This is a military clinic) By the time I got to the doctor's office, the pain had increased.  Now this was the most amount of pain I had been experiencing since this started.  By the time I got called back to the exam room, I was near tears from the anxiety.  I was certain that my blood pressure would show it, too, but surprisingly, it was just 113/69.  That's still slightly higher than usual for me but at least it was below the 120/80.  The doctor asked me about all of my symptoms which I conveyed to him.  I was thinking that perhaps I just have an ear infection.  And while this doctor is talking to me and asking for information, I was thinking "let's cut to the chase and check my ear out, dang it!"  I couldn't understand why he just wouldn't grab the otoscope right away and check my ear.  After all, a lot of my symptoms were indicative of ear infection.  Finally, he checked my ear out.  But he started with the right side which showed my ear was fine.  Then he checked the left ear.  He took longer to look and I was getting a little concerned.  Does he see a tumor?  Finally, he said there was no infection but that it looked a little more opaque than my right ear.  Okay.  Then he checked my throat which was fine.  Finally, he palpated the area around my ear and around my jaw.  He kept asking if it was hurting whenever he applied pressure.  No pain upon pressure.  Then he explained that the lymph node on the left side was reactive.  Reactive?  What did he mean?  Reacting to a tumor?  No.  It was inflamed.  The doctor explained a few of the causes for an inflamed lymph node.  And since it started soon after I had my routine dental exam, the doctor explained that bacteria from the dental cleaning process could have traveled and caused the inflammation.  Okay, fine.  Maybe so.  But whatever the cause, I need relief and I need it now.  I was really hurting this morning.  And my anxiety was not helping matters.  I was still so worried about a tumor and I finally asked the doctor about that possibility.  He sort of chuckled but tried to put my mind at ease by explaining that I was not showing the stroke-like symptoms that would indicate a tumor.  I told this doctor about my anxiety and thankfully, he was so understanding about it and even suggested that if it continued, then I needed to make another appointment to address the issue so that he can treat it.  I have not taken medication for the anxiety for many years but lately, I have been considering it again.  I don't know why my anxiety level is so high right now.  I've been trying to do the christian thing by reading my Bible, praying, and cleaning up my language. 
The doctor prescribed prescription strength mucinex to try to dry up whatever fluid may be getting trapped by the inflamed lymph node.  He also gave me prescription strength naproxen.  The doctor initially suggested that I take sudafed.  I sort of chuckled at that and when he asked about it, I was honest and told him that it made me anxious to take it.  That stuff is speed for me and I do NOT make a good drug addict.  I don't like the feeling of having no control.  That was when I shared with the doctor about my anxiety disorder.  He then chuckled and stated that yes, sudafed wouldn't be good for people with anxiety.  He was so kind and I appreciated that.  So, I picked up my prescriptions and as soon as I got home, I took the pain medication.  I didn't expect that it would make me drowsy but I did fall asleep for a couple of hours.  I hope this pain goes away soon.  The doctor did tell me that since this has been going on for several weeks, then it may take another several weeks to completely clear up.  Oh Lord, I hope not.  I want it to be gone very soon.  It is so uncomfortable.  And the weird symptoms and the discomfort only increase my anxiety. 
I wish God would heal me of this anxiety disorder.  I've suffered from it for many years.  I remember my first big panic attack occurred when I was 18 years old.  I had never heard of them until then.  The intensity of the attacks seem to be worse now that I have children.  I wish I understood why that is the case.  I hate it and wish that I could just be a relaxed, laid back person.  I've been told many times that it's all in my head.  Well, it is literally.  It really is a physiological disorder.  I took a Neuroanatomy/physiology course in college and the textbook showed PET scan images of a patient in a normal state and that same patient in a panic state.  It's weird but I was excited to see that as it reassured me that I wasn't some crazy loon.  It was a real, physiological problem.  But I still hate it.  Unfortunately, I have been seeing occasional signs that my precious 6-year old daughter may be destined to suffer from the same disorder.  And I hate that.  I hate that I may have passed on a scary disorder to my daughter who has already gone through so much in her short life. 
It has only been in the last decade that I have been comfortable sharing about my panic and anxiety disorder.  I just want others who suffer from it to know that they are not alone.  As much as I pray to God and try to have faith that he can take it away, it just has not happened yet, for whatever reason.  Maybe it is because I am supposed to be a support to somebody else.  I know I am very appreciate to my friends who support me and help me get through these attacks when I experience them. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Will She Ever Learn?

I want to reassure that I love my kids with all my heart.  They mean the world to me and I would give my life for them. But oh, this daughter of mine is something else. I have to admit that I am often more attentive toward my son than I am toward my daughter because Jackie tends to be whiny and a drama queen.  She is just high maintenance.  I've been trying to make some positive changes in my life recently and one of those changes is to be more attentive toward Jackie and decrease the yelling.  It's been difficult because Jackie is so high maintenance but for the most part, I had been doing much better.  And I was starting to see improvement with Jackie.  Until this week. 
It started Monday afternoon.  I picked Jackie up from school and I noticed that she was wearing her glasses.  She had been doing much better at wearing them at school and I always make an effort to let Jackie know how proud I am of her for doing so.  It was no different that day.  After Jackie got into the car, we headed to her piano lesson downtown.  I failed to notice that Jackie did not have the glasses on when we arrived at the piano lesson.  After Jackie's lesson, we headed to the gym for another hour.  It wasn't until after we left the gym that I realized that Jackie did not have her glasses.  So I asked her about it.  She stated that she didn't know where the glasses were.  Yeah, right. I can't tell you how many times I heard that excuse.  I warned Jackie again about the possible eye surgery if she didn't wear the glasses.  She then told me that they were in the car. Where?  In the inside door handle.  I looked there.  The glasses were not there.  I then proceeded to tear up the back seat looking for the glasses. I looked under the seats and even behind the booster seats.  No glasses.  I asked Jackie about the last time she had them on.  Jackie took them off after I picked her up and before we arrived at the piano lesson.  I feel terrible but I lost my temper in a bad way.  Jackie has already lost a couple of pairs of glasses and she has destroyed several other pairs.  That's a lot of money, people! I told Jackie that she better start praying that we can find them and then we took off toward the music studio.  It was dark by this time and still raining and cold.  We arrived at the studio parking lot and drove up to where I had parked earlier that day.  I immediately noticed something on the ground and got out of the car and ran to it.  Sure enough, the glasses.  Flattened!  Miraculously, the lenses were still intact and unscathed.  The frames were another story.  I continued my verbal rampage with Jackie and we headed directly to Walmart vision center to see if we could just replace the frames since the lenses were good.  Walmart has a great policy that replaces children's glasses for any type of damage.  Even those that have been run over by a vehicle.  Unfortunately, those cute Dora the Explorer frames were discontinued.  The Dora frames that Jackie begged me for and PROMISED to wear if she could get those Dora frames.  The optician helped us fit Jackie with some other frames but Jackie's face is so small that we could not find another frame to fit nicely.  We did finally settle on a new frame but Jackie wasn't too thrilled about it.  For the meantime thought, the optician straightened out the Dora frames as best as he could as a temporary fix.  By this time, I was still upset but I had calmed down some.  Unfortunately, by the time we got home and I got the kids ready for bed, Jackie was convinced that I didn't love her.  She told me she didn't like me.  I tried my best to reassure her that I love her very much but that I don't like it when she disobeys me.  She knows the rule about her eyeglasses.  While at home, they are to either go on top of her dresser or she is to hand them to me.  And if we're not at home, she is to hand them directly to me if she needs a break from the glasses.  I reminded Jackie, once again, of the rules.  The next morning, Tuesday, Jackie was still a little sore with me and it showed in her attitude as I helped her get ready and get to the bus stop.  Before she got on the bus, I gave Jackie a kiss and told her that I love her.  She didn't reciprocate.  Oh well, I tried.  Maybe she'll understand when she gets older. 
After Jackie got on the bus, I got Ben ready for school.  After I dropped him off, I headed to the gym to work out with the plan to get Jackie's other replacement glasses from Sam's Club afterward.  Now these particular glasses are a replacement pair for the ones that Jackie intentionally broke a few months ago.  I didn't realize that the warranty was still in place when I purchased the Dora pair at Walmart.  The guy at Walmart advised me about it. (Thank you, LaShawn!)  I was afraid they wouldn't be covered because they were intentionally destroyed.  But we went ahead and got the Dora glasses with the idea that the pair from Sam's Club will be a back-up pair.  Good thing.  Except that I've been trying for several weeks to get these dang glasses from there.  It just never works out. It's too busy with a zillion customers needing help from just 2 opticians.  And I have 2 boorish kids with me at the time.  There is no way I am waiting more than a half hour when I have the 2 boorish kids with me.  Or I get there and there is no optical employee around.  Or I get there and there is a customer who is commanding way too much time from the lone optical employee.  Ugh!  The latter happened to me on Tuesday late morning.  After waiting forever for the lone, stressed out employee trying to help an arrogant customer, I had to leave because it was time to pick up Ben from school.  And I didn't leave there happy.  And my language showed it.  I've only been trying to get these dang glasses for the past 6 weeks and now I desperately need them for Jackie.  After I picked up Ben, I called Sam's optical and told the employee that he will have to just send me the glasses and I wanted them shipped ASAP because I was fed up with wasting my time and energy at that place.  If they need adjusting, I will just take them somewhere else.  Sam's Club is NOT the place to purchase eyeglasses. 
When I picked up Jackie from school, she was still convinced that I didn't love her.  She asked me why I didn't love her the "mostest".  I asked her what she meant.  Apparently, she thinks that I love Ben way more than I love her.  Well, that's just not true.  I explained to her again how her disobedience upsets me, especially in regard with cooperating with medical interventions.  I want the best for her and she's just determined to do her own thing.  I tried to show her favor by taking her with me when I went to Zumba that night. 
Today, Wednesday, Jackie seemed to have a better attitude toward me.  It made me happy to send Jackie off to school with a better attitude.  It was a busy day with making a couple of business calls.  Ben had an evaluation with a private speech therapist in the afternoon. That went well.  I'll have to explain that in a separate post.  After Ben's evaluation, we headed back home to pick up Jackie (I allowed her to ride the bus home today) and head to her physical therapy appointment.  After we arrived there, I noticed a text message from a friend.  Before I shut the car off, I texted my friend back and then I pushed the button to start closing my sunroof.  As I was doing this, I heard a squeal.  For a moment, I thought it sounded like Jackie but it was coming from outside.  I looked up immediately and saw that Jackie had her head sticking out my sunroof.  I did not realize that she had gotten out of her booster already and had stood up on my center console and stuck her head out of the sunroof.  Now, Jackie and Ben know the rule that they are NOT to climb onto my console or to climb into the front seat from the back.  It gets things dirty and I just don't want them acting like animals in my car.  They know the rule and they've been really good about following that rule.  I released the sunroof button right away and pushed the button to open the roof.  Thankfully, Jackie didn't suffer any injury. She just bumped her lower lip when she tried to duck back down.  But, it shook both of us.  I reminded Jackie of the rule about standing on my console.  I really hope Jackie learned a lesson this time about obedience and will remember it forever.  The glasses? Well, I'm not too sure she will ever learn that lesson.  Perhaps I should garnish Jackie's tooth fairy money.  That might pay for a tiny screw.
Needless to say, the first part of this week has been a frustrating one.  And I feel like a terrible mom for losing it with Jackie and her glasses dilemma.  But I am determined that it will end on a positive note.  Now pray for me please!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Today's Sermon on Friendship

My pastor started a series on the Purpose of the Church. It's only been in the last week that I have really begun to enjoy and pay attention in church.  And even more so this week.  Today's sermon struck a chord in me and I couldn't help but wonder if the pastor's wife (who has been helping me get back on track) talked to her pastor husband about our conversations.  One of the topics that Mary Lynne and I have talked about is friendship in church. For some time, I have never felt very accepted by church people.  Yeah, they can be friendly but nobody went out of their way to be real friends with me and my family. It seemed everyone had their quota of friends and there was no more room for us.  It got to where if somebody did try to really get to know me, I became suspicious of their motivation.  I don't know why I got to that point.  I really, really missed my friends back home in Florida. They loved me for me and we had so much fun whenever we got together.
I remember soon after we moved here, I did make friends with another Samantha.  It helped that Jackie was a newborn and Sam loved my baby.  We became good friends until she moved away with her husband.  Sometime after Sam moved away, another person reached out to me and since then, Lisa and I have become the best of friends.  I had other friends but nobody that I really did anything with.  Others told me that we were just quiet.  Are quiet people not worthy of having friends? 
A little over a year ago, I joined the gym.  I didn't expect to make any friends there.  I joined to get back into shape and feel better about myself physically.  But I started to make some good friends.  I was liked and accepted.  I really began to feel at home at the gym.  We were all there for one purpose (well, most of us) and that was to get into and stay in shape.  And the encouragement from each other was a bonus.  I'm not the most outgoing person but at the gym, I felt like I was in my element and I started to become outgoing.  Since joining the gym, I have met some wonderful, nonjudgmental friends. I would rather be at the gym than at church. 
But these past weeks, I have made some changes. I've been trying to read the Bible again, trying to pray again.  I've been enjoying church and I'm trying to let my guard down some so that I can be a friend to others.  Today's sermon was so fitting.  It was perfect and I hope it struck a nerve with others at church, too.  Here is a sort of outline of today's sermon:
*The three F's of the church's purpose: Friendship, Fellowship, and Forgiveness.
    *Friendship with God and others. (A friend sticks closer than a brother. Prov 18:24 & John 15:13)
    *Fellowship - living in community together
         - this means sharing your life, sharing your needs, giving of yourself
    * Forgiveness - the pastor stated that this was probably the most difficult and for many of us, it is very
       difficult to forgive those who have hurt us deeply. We are to forgive now matter how wronged we feel.  I
       remember years ago hearing a different definition for forgiveness.  It went like this:  Forgiveness is giving
       up my right to hurt you for hurting me.
       Most of us know what the Bible says about forgiveness and how it talks about how God forgives us.  I
       have a difficult time trying to fathom how God can forgive me for some of the stuff I have done knowing
       all too well that at the time that I was very wrong.
I like what the pastor said about leaving room for friends.  He reminded us to leave room in our groups of friends for more friends.  And to keep the groups open.   Too bad many of us don't practice this.  I can speak from experience that this is one reason a lot of people don't like church. 
I also like the conclusion on the church notes and I can only hope that I and so many others take it to heart and practice it.  Here it is:  The church is many things.  It is a place of worship and spiritual growth.  It is a place of LOVE - you find it here, you give it away everywhere.  It is a safe place, ACCEPTING place, and a refuge.  And most important it is GOD'S place, and it is an HONOR to be a part of God's church.
Thank you Pastor Bryan Webb for today's sermon.  I thought you were speaking directly to me at certain times.  I can only hope others felt the same.
My apologies if this post seemed to make less sense than usual. Thanks to my children who were in constant need this time.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Good Changes?

Last week, I mentioned that there were going to be some changes here, mostly on my part.  And the change was long overdue.  I want to be a better mom and a better wife.  I want to be a better friend.  I just want to be a better person all around.  Even though the past year has been a good one for me with weight loss and getting into shape physically (which has brought about better self-esteem and less depression), I knew that I still needed a lot of work inside of me.  I have put on a facade of being tough, a rebel, someone who won't be tread upon, someone who refused to let too many people get too close to me.  I don't know why I let myself get to this point.  Well, actually, I do sort of understand why now. 
I got tired of people telling me I should take whatever was troubling me to Jesus.  I got tired of having Bible verses thrown at me.  I got tired of being preached at.  Nobody really seemed to care except that I just needed to have religion pushed in my face.  Even when I would express my doubts about god to these same people, the refrain was the same; "I'm praying for you", not "Do you want to talk? What makes you doubt god? "Is there anyway I can help you?"   Others would tell me to pray about it.  Huh?  How does one pray about something if s/he believes there is no God?  I truly was doubting the existence of God.  And people were just too busy to truly care.  This applies to so many others, not just me. I became very disillusioned with church and only went for the sake of my family.  I would skip at times but every time I did that, Jackie would come home upset that I didn't go to church with the rest of the family. So, I felt obligated to go to church but I did not enjoy it and would just sit through. 
During the past several months, I've doing a lot of reflecting and thinking about how I want to raise my children.  I want them, for the most part, to have a faith, unlike what I have.  I don't want my children to struggle with religion as I have for so many years. I want them to feel secure in their faith.  But how was I going to do that when I had my doubts?  Recently, I have written posts about my feelings on this subject, mostly as a way to just vent.  Blogging is very therapeutic for me and serves as a way for me to express my thoughts and feelings in a safe format.  I have more difficulty talking about these things in person.  Well, one of my posts brought a response from an unexpected source.  She seemed genuinely concerned and most of all, non-judgmental.  It was the pastor's wife!  The pastor's wife!  I've always had this perception that most of them were "untouchable."  And that they didn't have time to be friends with somebody like me.  Pastors wives were too busy helping with husband's ministries, taking care of the children, being beautified, and "fellowshipping" with their glamorous friends.  I've often found pastors' wives intimidating because I knew I could never measure up to them.  Over the past couple of weeks, I have gotten to know my pastor's wife, Mary Lynne, better and she is a wonderful person.  She is so down to earth and humble.  A regular person like me.  (Well, I'm not a regular person. I'm just a misfit)  She is somebody who took time out to reach out to me, spend time getting to know me, and pray for me.  All without the judgment, preaching, scripture throwing.  In the past couple of weeks, Mary Lynne has offered to help me with an individual bible study and to mentor me.  I feel so honored about this. And in the past week I have felt much more encouraged and more at peace with myself. 
This past week, I have yelled at the kids much less. I've had more patience with them.  My potty mouth is getting better.  My anxiety level has decreased (still get panic attacks, though).  I actually looked forward to going to church this past Sunday and I actually paid attention during the sermon. And if I had not had a hoarse voice, I would have even sang the songs at the beginning of church.  I've been trying to read the Bible although it is still difficult to concentrate on it.  I've been trying again to read Bible stories to my children and get back to praying with them at bedtime.  I even said a short prayer with Jackie this morning before I sent her off to school.  I hope I can keep this up because I feel like it has helped me to be more loving and patient with my kids. 
Now all that being said, I still feel a bit of a tug-of-war inside regarding faith.  I can't help but remember Mother Teresa's writings that were found after her death, writings which at times alluded to doubts about God. But still she persevered and continued to share God's love with the world.  Like her, I don't feel a presence of God but perhaps this sense of peace is the presence of God?  I don't know.  Whatever it is, I think I like this better than the facade that I've been putting on. 
Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.
— Mother Teresa to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I'm So Confused

I sometimes wonder why God entrusted me with a special needs child.  Actually, two special needs children. Ben has childhood verbal apraxia and Jackie has Cerebral Palsy.  There are so many decisions to be made.  And those decisions sometimes become difficult ones to make.  And they often leave me feeling torn. 
Today, Jackie had a follow up appointment with the orthopedic doctor.  She had an x-ray performed to make sure her clavicle is healing correctly.  As you may recall, this was the third clavicle fracture Jackie has suffered on her left side.  The news was good and the fracture healed nicely.  This particular doctor, Dr. Keeler, works in the same practice as Jackie's regular orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Dobbs.  Both doctors are wonderful.  Today, Dr. Keeler and I got on the topic of Jackie's CP.  When Jackie was in-utero, she never turned head down.  She stayed in the frank breech position up until my water broke and we ended up with a c-section.  I knew that because Jackie was in that position for so long, she would be at slight risk of hip displasia.  Due to Jackie's CP and slight risk of hip displasia, Dr. Dobbs took periodic x-rays of Jackie's hips.  Well, I recently read that girls who are breech tend to have a higher risk of hip displasia than boys who are were in breech position.  Dr. Keeler confirmed this was true.  She explained the reason for this was because girls have more elasticity in their joints than boys and as they get older and hormones come into play, the risk increases.  I learn something new all the time. So, this is just something that we will continue to monitor. 
Dr. Keeler then had Jackie walk down the hall so that she could observe Jackie's gait.  She took a good look at Jackie's left foot.  Jackie's left foot has always been a concern for me.  When Jackie was finally able to walk independently, she would walk tip toeing on her left foot.  After therapy did not improve that, Jackie was finally referred to the orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Dobbs.  Surgery to release the heel cord was recommended.  At age 23 months, Jackie underwent that procedure and had a hard cast for a month.  She healed very nicely and we saw an immediate improvement in Jackie's gait and she was able to place her left foot flat on the ground.  Jackie was fitted for an AFO brace after the surgery.  Jackie didn't mind wearing the AFO at all.  In fact, she got to where she would have a fit if we did not put it on her foot.  She was so compliant with it. 
Within a couple of years, we noticed that Jackie's left foot started to look deformed.  Her arch was really arching high and the foot was starting to curve outward.  Jackie was still wearing AFOs at the time but the foot continued to gradually become more deformed and even after adjusting the AFOs, Jackie would still complain of pain.  Dr. Dobbs eventually suggested surgery to correct the cavus (arch).  I wrestled with the decision to do the surgery.  I wondered if I should  wait until she is older. But by then, the foot would be more deformed.  So the surgery was performed in November of 2009.  It was a very painful surgery for Jackie and it hurt me deeply to see my little girl in so much pain.  I couldn't help but cry when I saw her in recovery crying out in pain.  We got through it though and Jackie had to have a full-leg cast at a 90 degree angle for 6 weeks to keep her from walking on the foot.  But Jackie was a trooper and she didn't let that cast keep her from having fun with her friends at preschool. 
Last Fall, Dr. Dobbs suggested that we may want to consider the next phase of the cavus correction.  I though, next phase?  I didn't know that this was a 2-phase surgery.  Apparently, the first surgery was the muscle/tendon surgery.  The second phase would be the bone correction which would help to lengthen the foot slightly. (Jackie's left foot is 2 sizes smaller than the right). So, we made the decision to have this surgery performed this past January or February.  Jackie is becoming much more aware that her left foot is a lot smaller and I was sort of looking forward to Jackie's foot being better able to fit into her shoes.  But, Jackie fractured her clavicle a few days after Christmas which ultimately delayed the planned foot surgery. 
Fast forward to today, Dr. Keeler really believes that the surgery is not necessary.  Really?  I wonder if the first one was necessary.  I want to think it was because Jackie's foot was really starting to become deformed.  Dr. Keeler believes that with more therapy and strengthening/stretching, Jackie's foot would become more stabilized.  Of course, there's nothing to do about the size discrepancy.  The doctor recommended several activities and exercises.  Hippotherapy, ball therapy, and swimming were a few options.  The doctor waffled between whether Jackie needs a new AFO or if she could benefit from an insert in the shoe.  The AFO would give Jackie better stability for her ankle and help her to lift up her foot when walking and running.  The insert just supports the foot/arch and helps to lift the foot when walking.  I think Jackie would be more compliant with the insert as it wouldn't be so obvious like the AFO.  Jackie has gotten to the age where she is more self-conscious and doesn't want to be different. 
Jackie has had an AFO since she was 2 years old.  Over the years, I have noticed that Jackie's left leg is skinnier than the right leg.  I just thought it was because her muscle tone was lower on the left side.  But today, the doctor suggested that the reason why some CP kids have skinnier limbs on the affected limbs is due to the AFO.  Hmm, I just don't know.  I still think the low tone has a lot to do with it.  And the reason why I think that is so is because Jackie's left wrist is skinnier than her left but she doesn't wear a splint on that hand full-time.  She just wears it a few hours a day.
Dr. Keeler suggested casting for Jackie's left hand. Serial casting had been previously recommended but we opted out of it, mostly because Jackie was already going through enough at the time.  The casting Dr.Keeler is recommending is not serial casting. Jackie would be fitted with a cast on her right (good) hand for a month. This would force Jackie to use her left hand more and build up the strength that she lacks.  Dr. Keeler suggested that we do the first cast before Summer starts.  And then do another one a few months later in the Fall.
I told Dr. Keeler that I recently enrolled Jackie for piano lessons.  I'm really nervous for Jackie because the fingers on the left hand are still very weak for her.  The fine motor skills are really lacking on that side.  It was very apparent to me yesterday at Jackie's first lesson that this is going to be a challenge for Jackie.  But I hope she doesn't give up.  Dr. Keeler totally agreed that piano lessons are a great activity.   Unfortunately, with the cast, it would be almost impossible for Jackie to do her piano lessons during this time. 
This appointment today was not at all what I expected.  I thought we were just doing a follow-up x-ray on Jackie's clavicle but I ended up leaving there really confused and unsure of what to do now.  I want nothing but the best for my little girl.  But oftentimes, I just don't know what is best for her.  I feel torn, almost to the point of tears.  Do I go back to Dr. Dobbs to get a better picture of what he thinks should be done?  Should I go with Dr. Keeler's recommendations? Perhaps I need to get another (3rd) opinion.  We consider Dr. Dobbs to be a wonderful doctor and we've heard nothing but good from other people as well.  Dr. Keeler seems really good, too.  I really appreciate her more conservative approach.  I do tend to try more conservative approaches first with most things.  But, I also don't want to compromise Jackie's recovery from CP.  I guess I have a little fear that if I back off from the more aggressive approach, then Jackie might regress. 
I wish I could afford all of the activities that have been recommended.  Hippotherapy is definitely out as it is very expensive and usually not covered by insurance.  I know Jackie would love hippotherapy.  I also need to get her back into gymnastics.  And swimming lessons would be good, too.  Oh, I just need to put Jackie to work to pay for it all.  Just kidding.  
It was so painful for me at Jackie's first piano lesson to see her struggle to even get her left-side fingers to move on the keyboard.  She used her entire body to help her move the fingers.  I wish I could trade places with Jackie.  It really hurts sometimes to see my little girl, who looks so "normal", struggle with the simplest things sometimes.  

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cavatappi With Chorizo and Black Beans

Here is another recipe.  I don't use the chorizo.  I make this into a vegetarian dish.  It's delicious either way.

3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 pound cured chorizo or other spicy hard sausage (I don't use)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinse (I use the entire can)
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound cavatappi (you can use elbow macaroni)
1/3 chopped fresh parsley

In a large frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat.  Add the onion and saute until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, oregano, and chili powder and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add the chorizo, tomato paste, and broth to the pan and stir.  Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until it slightly thickens, about 3 minutes.  Add the black beans, the lime juice, and the salt and remove the pan from the heat.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the cavatappi until just done, about 13 minutes.  Drain, toss with the sauce and parsley. 



Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Lies My Kids Believe

Is it bad that I lie to my kids sometimes? 
There were many times where I feel like I'm talking to a brick wall when I asked my children to pick up their toys and put them away.  Threats of throwing them away or giving them away didn't work.  Putting the toys in "time out" worked sometimes. One time, I actually started scooping up everything into a garbage bag.  My kids quickly went into action and grabbed the stuff that I had not yet reached.  Then they cried when they watched me take the garbage bag (full of toys they couldn't reach in time) outside.  Of course, I didn't really throw them away.  I just hid them outside.  But my children though I threw them away and of course, they were traumatized enough to take me seriously the next time I asked them to pick up toys.  Not much time passed before the kids forgot the lesson.  So, I resorted to the vacuum cleaner.  I told the kids that I was going to suck up all their toys with the vacuum.  I guess they didn't believe me because they just looked at me as if to dare me.  Well, I attached the nozzle tool onto the vacuum cleaner, turned it on, and started toward the first toy within my reach.  When the kids saw the nozzle pick up the toy as to suck it into the abyss, the kids sprang into action, and screaming, started to scramble to pick up their toys.  Of course, I was hysterically laughing inside. My kids actually believed it was possible that the vacuum cleaner would suck up all their toys.  Well, this ploy worked for awhile.  So now the toys get put away if I have to pick them up after the kids ignore me.  They don't seem to be too bothered by, either, anymore.  Until today.
This afternoon, I came home from church, prepared lunch for the kids, and while the kids were eating, I decided to vacuum.  I had asked the kids earlier why the cable remote was on the floor.  I thought they ignored me.  I had not yet picked up the remote when I started to vacuum.  But Jackie must have had a flashback to the days when the vacuum cleaner threatened to pick up toys because Jackie sprang into action and ran and picked up the remote and put it on the coffee table.
I can't tell you how many times I have caught my children jumping on their beds or my bed.  That is a huge peeve of mine and I let the kids have it when I catch them in the act.  Last night, Tim took over the family room TV and sent the kids to my room to watch TV.  As I came into my bedroom after unloading the dryer of clothes, I caught Jackie jumping on my bed.  Hmm, how am I going to get these kids to take me seriously.  Then suddenly, I thought of the camera.  I just set my camera on top of the armoire and told Jackie that the camera was going to take pictures of her jumping on my bed.  Voila! Jackie believed me and the jumping was exterminated.  Perhaps I should just set the other camera on top of the entertainment center to stop the kids from jumping on my couch.  The lies I tell my kids!  I'm bad, I know.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Time For Change

Yep! That's right, it's time for change.  For me, that is.  Stay tuned. 

Just Had to Share This Again

A couple of days ago, I shared a very touching video on my Facebook page.  I just feel the need to share this with my blog readers.  It brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.  There are many parallels to this story and in a way, it is a story that just about every one of us can relate to in some way.  Shattered dreams are not necessarily thrown out the window; rather they are adjusted to each person's (and critter's) own uniqueness.
http://www.godvine.com/Dog-Changes-Lives-in-a-Way-No-One-Expected-274.html

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month

March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness month.  Cerebral Palsy awareness is an issue that is close to my heart.  My beautiful daughter struggles with this disorder.  In honor of Cerebral Palsy awareness, I hope to share some inspiring stories throughout this month.
I know I have talked often about my daughter and her diagnosis of CP.  I'm not going to apologize for continuing to talk about my daughter.  As I said above, this is something that is close to my heart, something that I am very passionate about.  Throughout my life, I've met many people with disabilities, including CP and I have had high regard for many of those people for the things that they have accomplished in their lives despite whatever limitations they may have.
One of those people who comes to mind is somebody who I met when I transferred to a different high school in North Carolina.  His name was Buddy Martin.  Buddy was affected throughout his entire body.  As a result, he had an profoundly awkward gait.  But he didn't let his disability prevent him from walking, however difficult it might have been.  Buddy wasn't about to let anything hold him back.  He excelled in academics and graduated at the top of the class.  Buddy went on to become a doctor and eventually he set up his own practice in Arizona. 
After I graduated high school, I did lose touch for a time with Buddy.  But I never forgot him because he just made that much of an impression on me.  He was highly intelligent, he was fun, he was outgoing, he was popular and had lots of friends.  He was also one of the few very kind people toward me.  Buddy was a rare gem.  He inspired so many people, probably more than he will ever know.  I know that he continued to touch and inspire so many people as a doctor.  Buddy was one of the first people I thought of when I got my daughter's diagnosis of CP.  Jackie was just an infant when she was diagnosed and at the time, I had no clue what her future would be like.  Would she run?  Would she even walk?  I would occasionally remember Buddy in high school and what he overcame and I had to remind myself that everything would be okay.  Several years ago, I shared Jackie's story with Buddy, knowing that he would be a huge source of encouragement.  He told me to call him anytime.  I was very appreciative of that.  Unfortunately, I received word on Valentine's Day that Buddy passed away in his sleep.  I was shocked.  Buddy just seemed... invincible. Despite his "disability".  He was just one of those people.  I am still saddened by his sudden passing.  He was still relatively young.  Buddy, thank you for being such an inspiration to so many people.  I'm sure you will be sorely missed by your beloved patients and friends as indicated by your Facebook page.
Back to my daughter, I am so proud of what she has accomplished.  Jackie is now in Kindergarten and excelling in school. She has many friends at school. I remember the first week of school did not start so grand for her.  Twice within the first full week of school, Jackie was bullied for being "too slow" in line.  The first time, Jackie told me that somebody hit her in the line going to lunch because she was moving too slow.  I was a little bothered by it, but I was hoping that it was an isolated incident and it wouldn't happen again.  Then a couple of days later, Jackie told me that somebody hit her on the playground because she was too slow on the ladder to the slide.  Okay, now I had to do something.  I was not about to sit back and allow my child to be a bully victim like I was as a kid.  But, I did not want to appear to be an over-reacting parent, either.  So, I took a day to think about what to do until I decided to just email the teacher.  I am so thankful that I took action because the teacher and the school social worker acted right away.  Jackie apparently had never told her teacher what had happened until the teacher and social worker talked to her.  Soon after, the social worker went into Jackie's classroom and talked to the kids about differences.  The visual aid that the social worker used had a positive effect on the students.  When Jackie's teacher relayed to me how the social worker told her story, it brought tears to my eyes.  I was so touched. Since then, Jackie has made good friends who look after her. 
I have to say that I am grateful that Jackie has been affected mildly by CP.  It could have been worse and I am reminded of that every time I have to take Jackie to the Children's Hospital for any appointment.  I give a lot of credit to an early diagnosis, Early Intervention, and all of the awesome therapists involved in Jackie's care.  I am also grateful for the wonderful doctors that Jackie sees on a regular basis.  Jackie has endured speech, occupational, and physical therapies since she was 9-months old.  She has also gone through numerous tests, including MRIs, ABR, x-rays, vision and hearing evaluations.  She has already had 2 foot surgeries with a third one that was planned to take place a couple of months ago. That was pushed back because Jackie fractured her clavicle for the third time.  In six years, Jackie has gone through so much but she is such a trooper.  And it has all been worth it to see how Jackie has progressed to the point that many people have no clue that Jackie has CP.  They may notice that Jackie limps but assume that she just hurt her foot or leg.  And I've had just a couple of people wonder why she is lazy with her left hand.  Those people felt terrible when I explained the "laziness." 
Some people have asked if there was something that caused Jackie's CP.  The truth is, we are not exactly certain why Jackie has CP.  She was just six weeks old but very fragile when she was dropped to the floor by a visiting relative.  Jackie had already been diagnosed with failure-to-thrive and weighed just 7 1/2 pounds at 6 weeks of age.  She had a rough start in life beginning with severe jaundice as a newborn.  After Jackie was dropped, Tim and I rushed Jackie to the base ER where she was diagnosed with a brain bleed.  She was then transported to St. Louis Children's Hospital where they confirmed the diagnosis.  It was a very frightening ordeal.  After spending the night at the hospital and being observed for the onset of seizures, we were allowed to take Jackie home.  At the follow-up appointment, instead of being seen by the actual physician, Jackie was seen by a physician's assistant who measured Jackie's head and asked me a couple of questions.  Then she said Jackie was okay.  As they say, hindsight is 20/20.  If I had known better, I would have asked for a follow-up x-ray because at 4 months of age, we noticed that Jackie was not moving her left arm.  Then by the following month, her regular pediatrician noticed a decreased movement in the left leg.  An MRI was ordered which revealed an area of brain damage where the original brain bleed was.  She has a PVL (peri-ventricular leukomalacia).  She was immediately referred to a neurologist who confirmed the diagnosis.  And he believed it was the result of being dropped.  But the pediatrician at that time suggested that it could have been a result of a stroke in utero.  Yes, unborn babies do suffer strokes.  I really don't know what to believe.  But the damage is in the same area where the bleed was.  I don't believe we will really ever know the true cause of Jackie's CP.  But it doesn't matter now.  I have been able to forgive (after some time) the person who dropped my daughter.  And although I thought my dreams for my daughter were thrown out the window after her diagnosis, that is no longer the case.  I have had to adjust some of my dreams but Jackie is achieving so much already.  She may never be a competitive gymnast but she enjoys it anyway.  She may never be a world class pianist or violinist, but she will be starting piano lessons next week and soon we will add violin.  Her left hand may give her trouble at times but I certainly hope she continues to be excited about music lessons.  Jackie has loved music from the very beginning of her life.  I'm excited for Jackie that she is finally going to start music lessons.  And I'm just so proud of my beautiful little girl for all that she has gone through and for what she has accomplished.  Now if only I didn't struggle with her extreme strong will and her big-time drama.  She is such a drama queen.  But I love her anyway.