Yes, it is!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On Being A Special Parent

Being the mom of 2 children, each with their own set of special needs, I often hear that God only gives those children to parents who are special.  I have to admit that I often cringe when I hear this because I am no more special than the parent with a "typical" child.  In fact, I often feel very ill-suited for the job of dealing with all my children's special needs.  I do NOT feel special.  I often feel drained, isolated, and just plain out-of-place around parents with "normal" children.  One of my friends shared the following article that hit the nail on the head for me. I almost feel as if the author took the words right out of mouth.  Please take the time to read and the next time you meet a parent with children who have special needs, remember what you learned from this article.  Click on the link HERE.

Having 2 children with their own set of special needs has had positive affects on me.  It has brought me out of my comfort zone.  I had to in order to be an advocate for my children to get them the care that they truly deserve.  It has also helped me to reach out to other parents who are also struggling with their childrens' needs.   I have become more passionate toward those who deal with disabilities.  I had a heart for those people before I had my own children but I now have a greater appreciation for what they deal with. 
When other people "pat me on my back" and tell me that I'm special because I have children with special needs, I know they mean well.  However, what they don't realize is that having children with special needs is draining not only on a family's finances, but it is a strain on family relationships, too.  Unfortunately, even though Jackie's disability is permanent,  she does not qualify for any type of assistance because our income is just a little too high to qualify.  I do hope that I can get some sore of assistance to help pay for Jackie's hearing aids.  In case you don't know, hearing aids cost thousands of dollars and our insurance does not have hearing aid coverage.  So, it will be a huge out of pocket expense for us if we don't get financial assistance for them.  With all of that being said, how does that make us more special than the "normal" parents who are able to preserve their savings for non-medical expenses?  What makes us more special than the "normal" parents who have more time and money to put their own children in so many various after-school activities?  

I am so thankful for my membership at the gym because it gives me the time to myself that I need after driving my children to their various therapy appointments (and whatever other specialty appointment) throughout the week.  I don't get out with friends often so the gym is my social outlet for the time being.  

Despite the difficulties involved with raising my children during their young years, I would not trade them for anything. I love them with my whole being.  I am thankful for their disabilities.  My children are perfect to me.  But reality is that it has been very difficult for so many reasons.  How does that make me more special than you?  

The next time you meet a parent with a child who has special needs, don't tell them how special they are.  All we need is just a listening ear or an encouraging word.  Or just a smile will do.  Don't be afraid to ask questions.  When others comment on my daughter's limp or the way she holds her arm, I have no problem explaining about my daughter's disability and how proud I am of her for accomplishing so many things.  In the end, you will be the one who is encouraged and inspired.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy 5th Birthday to Ben!

My sweet boy is now 5 years old.  Unbelievable!  It has been a crazy, wild journey with Ben these past 5 years.  My sweet little boy went from being the perfect, content baby to being a very adventurous, fun loving, VERY active boy.  He is cute, smart, and affectionate.   He gives the best hugs. 

I haven't updated about Ben's disorder in a long time so I will take this opportunity to do so briefly.  As difficult as these past few years have been, I wouldn't trade my little boy for anything.  He has come a long way with his speech during this past year.  After being able to say a few words before he turned a year old, by his first birthday, Ben quit saying words.  By age 18 months, he was seeing a speech therapist for the speech problem and he was also seeing an occupational therapist for the sensory processing issues.  It was a trying time for sure.  Just a year ago, he was an extremely frustrated little boy because as intelligent as he is, he struggled so much with his expressive verbal skills.  He had been diagnosed with severe Apraxia of Speech.  Ben showed his frustration by biting, hitting, and yelling.  Since age 3, Ben has been going to a preschool geared toward children with speech difficulties.  Thankfully, he is very well-behaved at school despite his high activity level at home.  Between the speech he receives at school and the private speech therapy, Ben has made tremendous improvement and is now talking in complete sentences.  He has blossomed and is more outgoing than before.  Thankfully, he is also less frustrated and no longer bites out of frustration.  We're still working on some other behavioral issues but he is much improved from just 6 months ago.  Ben is still unintelligible at times but with continued speech therapy, I have full confidence that he will completely conquer this disorder in the next couple of years.  

Despite the difficulties of the past few years, Ben has brought much joy and entertainment into our home.  He loves to ride his bike, he loves gymnastics, and best of all, he loves school.  He also likes to attend AWANAs.  Ben gets to start full-day Kindergarten next August (woohoo!) and he is already so excited about it.  He is looking forward to homework and being able to carry his own lunchbox to school.  I'm sure that will get old very quickly, though.  He is also looking forward to riding the big bus with his sister.  

It's so hard for me to believe that my baby is already 5 years old.  I'll never forget that day when Tim and I found ourselves in shock at the discovery that we were expecting another baby.  As unexpected as it was, we are very blessed to have Ben as our son.  He is the best son on earth.

Happy Birthday Ben!  We love you so much!


Friday, November 30, 2012

One More Thankfulness Post

 This post is dedicated to my friend, Kat.

Because my children started to wage war while I was writing my all-in-one thankfulness post, I left out another important thing that I'm thankful for.  I am thankful for my friend, Kat, who has dropped everything at a moments' notice without me even asking for help from her.  That is a sign of a true friend.  I don't often ask others for help and when I do ask for help , it is a difficult thing for me to do.  Two years ago, Kat showed how much of a friend she is by being there for me 2 years ago when my daughter had a very serious accident and was transported by ambulance to one hospital and then to a children's hospital in St. Louis when it became clear that Jackie's situation was beyond what the local ER doctors were able to deal with.  Jackie was hemorrhaging uncontrollably and I texted a handful of people to pray for her.  Kat took it upon herself to come and support me (and Tim) personally at the 2nd hospital, a half hour away, while the doctors worked on Jackie to stop the bleeding.  I was so afraid that I was going to lose my little girl.  It was already past 9 pm when Kat showed up at the hospital and she stayed with me for over 3 hours before going back home.  Because Kat works full-time on top of working on college classes and being a parent and wife, we don't get to see each other and spend time together very often.  When we do spend time together, I enjoy KS's company.  Unfortunately, Kat has orders to move to a new base in March and I will certainly miss her.  Speaking of which, I am thankful for her servant heart as she serves our country in the Air Force despite having faced several very serious medical adversities during her time in the service.  That includes a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment.  I am thankful that God has spared Kat's life and allowed us to become friends.  

Thank you for your service Kat!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My All In One Thankfulness Post

I'm late, I know, but life has a way of getting in the way sometimes.  So instead of doing a daily thankfulness post, and also to not be outdone by everyone else's thankfulness posts,  I have decided to make an all in one post list of 30 things that I'm thankful for.  Ready, enjoy!

1. I am thankful for my husband, even if he does call me mean.  And even if he intentionally annoys me.

2.  I am thankful for my healthy son,  severe speech disorder and sensory processing disorder and all. 

3.  I am thankful for my healthy daughter and I'm even thankful for her "disability." 

4.  I am thankful that despite the brain damage that my daughter suffered and doctors' subsequent early warnings about learning disabilities and despite her significant speech delay, she has not been affected cognitively.  She is a star student.  And I'm not going to apologize for that shameless brag.

5.  I am thankful for the Tricare health coverage that has covered all of my children's various therapy sessions and specialty doctor appointments.  

6.  I am thankful that God gave us another month to thoroughly enjoy our dog, Lucy, after her diagnosis of liver/spleen cancer.  We weren't even given 2 weeks after the diagnosis but with the help of prednisone, we were given extra time to enjoy our sweet girl.

7.  I am thankful for my closest friends in Florida because they are the ones who have stuck with me through thick and thin.  They are the epitome of true friendship even though they still know very little about me.  I miss them so much.

8.  I am thankful for the ability to be a stay-at-home mom for the first several years of my children's' lives so that I wouldn't miss out on their many early milestones.  As much as I would have liked to have worked full-time, my children have too many needs for me to take on such.

9.  I am thankful that even though my husband and I had a very difficult time in our marriage during the first few months of this year, I have learned to communicate with him better and am continuing to work  on it.  I am determined that our children will be raised in an intact home.

10.  I am thankful that my children, as much as they fight, are actually quite close and I foresee them continuing to be close.  It is my goal that my children will not experience fractured relationships with family members such as I've experienced.

11.  I am thankful for Jackie's physical therapist, Julie, with whom I've become quite close to.  How can I not be close to her?  She's been treating Jackie since Jackie was 9 months old.  Julie has been a huge source of encouragement and support for me since almost the very beginning of Jackie's life.

12.  I am so thankful that my children seem to have tender hearts and have compassion for others. Jackie especially has a tender heart and is very sensitive toward others who are suffering. 

13.  I am thankful for the gift of writing, although years ago, I never pictured myself being a writer.  I have had several opportunities to write guest posts/articles.  

14.  I am thankful for the opportunity to be a substitute teacher as it enables me to be flexible for my children's many appointments.  

15.  Speaking of being a substitute teacher, I am thankful that I am well-liked and that the teachers find me trustworthy enough to call me back to substitute when the need arises.  And I'm thankful that the kids always seem to like me even when I have to be firm with them.  

16.  Speaking of being a substitute teacher, I am thankful for teachers who leave very detailed and easy to read lesson plans for me.  It makes the job so much easier.  Being a substitute teacher is no longer the glorified babysitting job that it was when I was in school. 

17.  I am thankful for Zumba classes.  Even though it is difficult for me to develop close relationships, I have developed a small handful of sort of close relationships with other Zumba lovers.  For those friends, I am so thankful as they make me look forward to Zumba even more.  I miss them when they are not there and they miss me if I'm not there.  I can be myself around them and they still like me for me.   I hope those friends know who they are. 

18.  I am thankful for one certain person in particular who reached out to me and befriended me about a year ago. I mean, I'm nobody important and this other person (and her husband) is an important person.  It is nice to know somebody who really cares about me and my family enough to write me a note of encouragement.  And to invite my entire family, high maintenance kids included, to their house to enjoy after Thanksgiving meal and play games. 

19.  I am thankful for another friend in particular who texts me or sends me a message to thank me for a particular post or just to encourage me about something that I've written.  I rarely ever see her in person but hopefully she knows who she is. Just in case, though, her initials are PFP.

20.  Another friend whom I'm thankful for is somebody who can relate to me and my anxiety/panic disorder.  I've called her on more than one occasion to just talk to help me through an episode.  She's been there so she understands the fear.

21.  I am thankful for rekindled friendships via Facebook within these past couple of years.  Actually, before some of those people found me, I didn't have the fondest memories of many of them and didn't consider them friends. At. All. But I'm thankful that through the use of social media, I have received apologies and because of it, I have found healing and developed "new" friendships.  Those people know who they are, too. 

22.  I am thankful that my family and I will not live in Illinois forever.  Or is this wishful thinking?

23.  This may be odd because even though our neighbors on our east are our enemies and their 5 dogs are very noisy and wake us up too early sometimes, I am thankful for them because it could be worse.  Right?  

24.  I am thankful for my good health.  Even though this past year has been fraught with setbacks such as feet injuries, back injury, vacations, and an illness, I am still in relatively good health.  And I am especially grateful for the ability to walk.  

25.  I am thankful McDonald's sweet tea.  However, I am going to kick the habit once again very soon.

26.  I am thankful for my other dog, Dugan, as neurotic as he is.  He's a good little watchdog.  And he's an awesome frisbee dog, too.

27.  I am thankful for Magic Eraser.  Too bad I didn't invent that stuff.  I would be a millionaire.  That stuff is great.

28.  I am thankful for the people that I have heard from through my writing.  It's encouraging to hear from others who say they have been encouraged by a certain post that I wrote.  

29.  I am thankful that I am on number 29 because to think of 30 things that I'm thankful for before my children started to wage war, was starting to get a little tough.  So thankful that I love my kids unconditionally.

30.  One more thing that I am currently thankful for is an approval by Tricare for a medical procedure that I will be having in 2 weeks.  I'm looking forward to being more comfortable in more than one way.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hold Them Close

I was reminded again today of just how precious life is, especially in regard to our children.  I just found out that a friend tragically lost her son to an accident.  This is the second son she has buried in 3 years.  Her oldest son was 19 when he died in an auto accident 3 years ago.  Almost exactly 3 years after burying that son, her younger son, age 21, died.  Her daughter, and now only child, is 2 1/2 months younger than my daughter.  I just cannot imagine the pain my friend is experiencing.  She and her husband have a strong faith and that is what is getting them through this difficult time.

I can't help but shudder at the thought of losing one of my own children.  In fact, we very nearly came close to losing Ben nearly 3 years ago when Tim's aunt nearly ran him over.  I'm so thankful that my son is alive and well.  That memory is seared into my memory.  

 Hold your children close and make sure they know that they are loved.  Life is so precious and we don't know what our future holds.  I'm still reeling from the news about my friend.  It's situations such as this that makes me wonder about God.  How can he take 2 children (and good children at that) from their mother in such a short amount of time? 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Jackie's Piano Recital

I'm so proud of Jackie.  She has accomplished so much more than I ever dreamed.  Some things will never be easy for Jackie, such as playing the piano, because her left hand is still quite weak and she doesn't have much control with it.  Jackie will never be a world class pianist based on world standards but...  she is a world class daughter to me.

  A couple of years ago, I enrolled Jackie in piano lessons and I really liked her instructor.  Her instructor was very familiar with Jackie's "disability" and worked with her well.  However, as much as Jackie insisted that she wanted to take lessons, it was a struggle to get her to practice.  I finally discontinued the lessons because I didn't want to continue to waste my time and money.  This past summer, I found a studio closer to our house and after talking to the owner about Jackie's needs, I decided to enroll her in lessons again.  This time, Jackie has been more serious about practicing and learning the theory.  She was even able to memorize her recital piece within a week.  Yesterday, while listening to Jackie play her piece at recital practice, I was nearly moved to tears.  And this was just practice. I was just so proud of her.  If you really take notice in the practice video, you can see how Jackie has to work hard to get her left hand to work to play the proper notes.  She did fantastic.  She is my inspiration. (click on the image below to play)

 

Tonight was the real deal, the actual recital.  I have to admit that I was a bit worried that Jackie would freak out and back out of doing her piece on stage.  She does not like to have all attention on her.  However, Jackie once again fought back her fear and went up there and performed her piece.  I could tell that she was nervous but she played through it despite her mistakes.  I was so afraid that she would break down and start crying after her first mistake but she soldiered on.  I'm so proud of Jackie.  I was beaming.  I really wish that I would have gotten closer to get better video.  I don't know what the twirl at after her curtsy was about.  She just copied the other girls who did it.  It was still cute, though. (click on the image below to play)

 

I really enjoyed listening during the recital tonight.  I enjoy listening to all the different levels and the variety of music choices.  I must admit, though, there were moments that my heart grieved for my daughter.  At times, I felt jealous for her.  There was such extraordinary (and very young!) talent.  I'm talking about 11-year olds who played way better than some adult pianists I've ever heard.  I want that for Jackie. Before Jackie's diagnosis, I had dreams of her being able to play the piano, doing gymnastics, performing ballet.  The day that we received Jackie's diagnosis of cerebral palsy, I really thought all my dreams for her were gone.  That hasn't been the case, thankfully, but they have had to be adjusted some.  Jackie is not afraid to try things and for that I am so grateful.  She may never be a world class gymnast or dancer, or a world class pianist. She will never get to the level that some of those kids tonight were playing.  The reality is that she will always struggle in these areas.  I won't let her give up, though.  She will just have to work harder.  Working harder makes one stronger, right?  

 Hmm, a computer is on her Christmas list?  I'm pretty sure that won't happen this year thanks to too many recent medical bills.  Haha, she's been to Splash City just once and she's built just one bear.  She was definitely a brave little girl for her 2nd (and very painful) foot surgery.  It hurt my heart to see her in so much pain but being the fighter that she is, she didn't let that keep her from getting around, even with a 6-week long, full-leg 90 degree angle cast. Just another reason my heart swells with pride for my little girl.

Isn't she beautiful?  That's my daughter. I'm so thankful for her. She's such a gift, a perfect gift.


Cherished Moments

This afternoon has been so beautiful.  Here are some pictures to enjoy.

Lucy, after being on death's door nearly 3 weeks ago, is still with us.  Thanks to the effects of the prednisone, we were given a little more time to enjoy Lucy.  Lucy has again shown a decline during the past couple of days and her breathing has become more labored.  She will definitely be missed so much.  My only prayer now is that God will take her peacefully and quickly during her sleep.  I don't want to even think about it but I know the time is coming very soon that we will have to say goodbye to our beloved Lucy. 

The following little slideshow makes me smile.  After the kids ate a little lunch, they went outside to play.  When I went to check on them, this is what I saw through my front door.  I love it!





Thursday, November 15, 2012

Boxes Can Walk?

Well, according to this article, they can: click here.

If you can't figure it out,  then don't become an editor.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Out Of the Mouth of Babes... Again

Jackie attends a club at church called AWANA.  Over a year ago, she started to become good friends with a little boy at AWANA shortly before he moved away with his family.  Jackie was a little saddened by this but she got over it quickly.  I didn't realize how much of an impression this little boy left on Jackie's heart until tonight. 

When I went to pick up Jackie tonight, she was so excited to tell me that this little boy, C, who is not so little now (he's just a grade ahead of Jackie), had moved back.  However, her joy quickly turned to sorrow when I told her that C and his family had not moved back but were in town to visit their friends.  I told her that perhaps she can write an occasional note to C so they can keep in touch. (Actually, my ulterior motive is to marry Jackie off in 10 years to this fine young boy).  She liked that idea.  As Jackie and I headed down the hallway to leave the church, C was there, too, and the following conversation ensued:  I told C that he grew a lot in the year since they moved away.  Jackie: "Yeah, you don't even sound the same."  I said it's because he grew a lot and he's older now.  C:  Yeah, when you get older, you lose your little voice and then you get a grown-up voice."  I can't tell you the rest of the conversation because I was concentrating on stifling my laughter.  C was very serious when he explained the voice change.  Children are so innocently funny.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Don't Worry About Tomorrow

Matthew 6:34 essentially says not to worry or be anxious about tomorrow for today has enough trouble of it's own.  We need to worry about the moment, the here and now and not fret so much about what the future holds.  

Many years ago, when I was going through a extremely difficult time, a friend shared this verse with me and I clutched it close to me for years.  It's what got me through that dark time.  In the last several years, however, I've sort of put my faith to the wayside until recently.  I'm going to hold hold this verse close to me and try to not fret about what the future holds for me and my family.  This verse holds true for everyone; atheist/agnostic, protestant, muslim, Mormon, etc. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

And My Vote Is For...

I bet that got your attention!  I'm not telling who I'm voting for.  Actually, I am looking forward so much to all this being over.  Over! I'm over it all.  The attack ads, the lies, everything.  I've heard of broken friendships over differences of political opinion.  It has just gotten to be ridiculous.  And sad.  I've seen people treat others with utter disregard all because of different political opinions.  I've had to hide people from my Facebook timeline because if you don't believe their way, then you're less than human.  That was just one of the many reasons that I recently closed my Facebook for awhile.  Wednesday can't come soon enough!  Whoever is placed (yes, I said placed) into office tomorrow will still need our respect, regardless of whether or not we like the outcome.

So, I guess my "thankful" for today is for Women's Suffrage.  Without it, us women would not even have the right to cast our votes during election time.  I'm proud to say that I have exercised that right from the time I was first eligible to do so.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Birthday To My Beautiful 8-Year Old Daughter

My first born baby is 8 today.  I'm still shaking my head in disbelief at how quickly these last few years have flown by.  I feel phenomenally blessed to have my beautiful little girl as she is a true miracle in every way, from the moment she was conceived.  This little girl has proved so many people wrong in all her accomplishments in her short life already.  This little girl who was once labeled at school during her preschool years as "globally developmentally delayed" is now a star student, a very successful student who is now in a challenge class at school.  Words cannot express how proud I am of my little girl.  I will continue to shamelessly brag about her because Jackie is such a trooper.  Most people don't even realize the magnitude of what she has been through since before she was born. 

 Jackie is a survivor, a fighter, an inspiration, and most of all, she is a beautiful little girl who is going to go so far in life.  She has been talking about becoming a doctor and I have no doubt that Jackie is capable of doing so.  She is very intelligent and she's also quite talented.  She is creative and she's silly.  She has a very tender heart, too, and that makes me even more proud to be her mother.  My heart swells with such pride for her that sometimes I feel tears of joy try to escape my eyes.  Sometimes, I can't help but stare at my baby girl in awe of her beauty.  I just can't believe how God has blessed me with such a beautiful little girl.  Jackie is perfect no matter her little disability and it is my prayer that I can continue to convey that message to her.  I just want the best for her which is why I have had to become an advocate to make sure that Jackie gets the best care possible for all of her needs and I will continue to fight for this precious gift from God.  Hopefully one day after Jackie becomes a doctor, she will truly understand why I fought so tirelessly for her and perhaps she will pay it forward by doing the same for her patients. 

Words just cannot express how much I love my precious little girl.  Happy Birthday to the sweetest, smartest, and prettiest 8-year old on the planet!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup Made Easy

I try to feed my family healthy foods but sometimes, I just have to deviate from that.  I love chicken noodle soup and I have a very simple recipe to share.  And it's probably not the most healthy.  But it tastes so good. 

Tim likes rotisserie chicken and he will occasionally buy one from Sam's Club or Dierberg's.  I'm not much for keeping leftovers for more than a day so I try to find ways to use them up quickly.  We usually have leftover chicken when Tim buys the rotisserie ones.  I pull the remaining meat for use for the next day.  I usually use one of 2 recipes using this leftover chicken. 

 Last night, I made chicken noodle soup.  Take 4 envelopes of the Lipton cream of chicken dry soup mix and dump it into a large pot of water (around 6-8 cups).  I like to add fresh ground pepper, too.  Bring it to a boil.  Then add the chicken.  I also add sliced carrots and celery and bring back to a boil for a couple of minutes.  Then I add the noodles. My favorite noodles are the amish noodles and the Buitoni fettuccine noodles (in the refrigerated section).  If you use the Buitoni brand, make sure you cut the noodles in smaller pieces.    Cook for as long as the directions state minus a minute.  The reason for decreasing the cook time by a minute is because the noodles will continue to cook after you remove from the heat.  

If you cook it just right, the soup will have just a slight bit of creaminess to it.  Make sure you don't add too much water as this will dilute the soup mix too much and it will taste very bland.  I know, I did it once.  Or maybe twice.  But if that happens, no need to fear.  Just add a little bit of whatever broth or bouillon you might have.  I recommend the bouillon.  Once the soup is done, then just serve hot with whatever else you choose.

You can add variety to the soup by adding whatever other vegetables you would like.  However, I strongly discourage the use of okra.  My mother-in-law did this and although she thinks it's fine, I thought it was gross.  Gross, gross, GROSS!  Okra in any form is just plain disgusting.  Fried, boiled, steamed, in soups, no matter how it's cooked, okra will never receive a seal of approval from me. (And neither will Brussels sprouts, for that matter). So, don't ruin such a good soup with such a vile vegetable.  Well, some people call it a vegetable.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pained

Yesterday, Lucy still had energy and she ate voraciously, thanks to the prednisone.  The diagnosis as if it was a dream.  We were enjoying our old Lucy again and just loving on her.  Last night, Lucy seemed to eat her dinner just fine.  

As the evening wore on, however, Lucy seemed to slow down.  When I gave her her 2nd dose of prednisone inside a piece of bread, she took it gingerly, not like in previous days.  Within a couple of hours, Lucy seemed to be uncomfortable.  I finally got her to go outside late last night but after she came in, she just found laid back down and would hardly move.  Her ears were down close to her head and she hardly wagged her tail.  I prayed that if this was the night for her passing, that God would take her peacefully. Or perhaps the latest dose of prednisone had not yet taken affect.  I stayed up late keeping an eye on her.

This morning, Lucy wouldn't even budge from where she laid down last.  Tim picked her up to take her outside.  Lucy just laid down. Tim brought her in and laid her down on her pillow in our room.  She has not moved.  I'm heartbroken to say the least.  I don't want to think that it's time to let her go. 

I called the vet and the receptionist said that it didn't sound good.  I'm waiting for the actual doctor to call me back so we can talk. I probably won't even be able to talk.  My mind says it's time but my heart doesn't want to let her go, yet.  Please pray for us.  This is going to be a very difficult day.  Lucy was doing so well yesterday and just took a huge nosedive within hours last night.  This hurts.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Oh Absolutely Not!"

I can't help but wonder how quickly my daughter has become so mature with her language skills. She is one smart little girl.

Tonight as I was tucking Jackie into bed, I pulled up her blanket and lightly patted her on her chest and as I turned around to leave her room, she immediately commented that I touched her bra.  Bra?!  Haha.  Since Jackie will be 8 eight years old next week and she has been talking a lot lately about being a doctor, I seized upon the opportunity to teach her proper terminology.  So I explained to her that she doesn't have a bra; she has breasts.  Jackie then giggled and said "Well, your bra grows."  Gee, thanks kid.

  So I asked Jackie if she wanted her breasts to grow so she could wear a bra, too, and she immediately responded with "Oh, absolutely not!".  Absolutely?! I nearly rolled over with laughter.  However, that is a huge difference from 3 years ago when Jackie was 4 years old.  One morning, Jackie walked in on me as I was getting dressed.  She came over to me, pointed up to my chest and said, "I can't wait to get bigger so I can get bigger ones of those so I can feed my baby!"  I will never forget trying to stifle the laughter from that one.  She was very succinct about it.  Ah! Such precious memories.

Speaking of which, I received news today that our health insurance has approved breast reduction surgery for me. I'm a bit nervous about it but I know I will feel so much more comfortable if I have this surgery done.  I did pray that if this was the right thing for me to do, then the insurance would cover it.  I feel very comfortable with the doctor who will perform the surgery.  I am also looking forward to being able to buy bras at a regular store as opposed to a specialty bra store.  So pray that I will not be anxious about the surgery. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lucy

Looking at this picture, it's hard to believe that Lucy is really sick.  She looks so cute and alert.  The prednisone actually gave Lucy a little bit of an appetite today and a little bit of energy.  We are just going to enjoy and love her as much as possible during these last days or weeks.  In case you're wondering why her eye looks funny, that's the one she somehow punctured 2 1/2 years ago so she is now blind in that eye.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Update On Lucy

Recently, we noticed that our beloved little mutt, Lucy, seemed to be lethargic and she was not eating as well.  Last night, Tim took Lucy for a walk.  At the beginning, Lucy showed her usual enthusiasm with her dancing around and being vocal. Within minutes of walking, Lucy just laid down on the road and wouldn't get up.  Tim had to carry her back home.  I knew something had to be wrong, seriously wrong.

This morning, I called the vet and thankfully, there was an appointment available after I got Ben sent off to school.  The first thing the vet did was to check Lucy's gums.  They were very pale which indicated anemia.  Bloodwork and x-rays were then performed.  The first x-rays showed the spleen to be enlarged and there was also some fluid around it. The vet gave me a few possible scenarios.  First, an ultrasound would have to be performed to see what was actually going on around the spleen.  I left Lucy at the vet so further tests could be performed while I went to a substitute teaching job.  I called Tim at work and we agreed that we would have Lucy treated aggressively if there was a chance for survival. 

 Lucy really is a part of our family.  At age 7 years, she is still a relatively young dog.  The poor thing has been through so much during her lifetime.  We rescued her from a shelter when she was 10 months old.  She was such an incorrigible critter and I have to admit that I often wondered if we made a mistake adopting Lucy.  She was ALWAYS into trouble.  However, she was and still is awesome around children and other dogs.  She's quite entertaining, too.   Plus, we made a commitment to provide love and a forever home for Lucy.  I was not about to give up on her. As Lucy matured, she got into less trouble.  Well, that is if you left doors closed and garbage cans covered or out of reach.  You see, Lucy loves to eat paper towels and tissues.  Crazy!  Anyway, Lucy is quite the trooper.  About 2 1/2 years ago, she suffered an eye injury.  Initially, the vet thought that Lucy had a splinter in her eye.  Since Lucy wouldn't cooperate and kept wriggling around (think about it, would you like somebody poking around your eye?), the vet decided to give Lucy a sedative so she could get a better look at Lucy's eye.  It turned out that Lucy actually had somehow punctured her eye, and the aqueous humor (the fluid inside the eyeball) was oozing out.  Lucy was sent home with an E-collar around her head, an eye ointment, an antibiotic, and a painkiller.  It was quite the entertainment to watch Lucy maneuver around with that collar around her neck.  This past year, Lucy suffered another injury, this time to her CCL (ACL in humans).  After getting a couple of opinions, we opted to have Lucy's ligament surgically repaired.  The vet's office will never, EVER forget that ordeal as Lucy was bound and determined to destroy every bandage, even with the E-collar on.  Lucy even managed to destroy the original incision site, leaving a very bloody mess. Finally, by the 5th day the vet decided that perhaps a satellite dish-sized E-collar would work better to keep Lucy from reaching her leg.  In addition, they also placed a hard splint underneath the bandage after Lucy destroyed the first 5 bandages.   Lucy was also the most vocal one at the vet's which had much of the staff nearly rolling on the floor in laughter.  I figure that I spent more time in the vet's office within that 10 day period than I ever spent in the last 5 years combined.  Lucy has forever left an imprint on the vet's office staff.   I sang the Hallelujah chorus when Lucy was finally done with that ordeal. 

So, here we are today with a terminal diagnosis.  I was hoping for the better outcome that the vet suggested and we were prepared to handle the expense of it.   However, the news that we received this afternoon is not the news we were hoping for.  Instead, the vet told us that Lucy does indeed have cancer and it has spread.  Fluid is already surrounding her heart and lungs.  The liver was hardly visible which indicates that there is also some liver involvement beside the spleen.  Nothing can be done at this point in regard to a cure. The best advice the vet gave us was to bring Lucy home and monitor her comfort level.  We will give her prednisone to help keep Lucy comfortable and to try to control whatever pain Lucy may be experiencing.  We don't know how much time we will have with Lucy but the vet hinted that it won't be a long time.  At. All.  This is heartbreaking as Lucy really has become a beloved member of our family.  She has brought joy and entertainment into our otherwise boring lives.  We are going to just love on and spoil Lucy as much as we can during her last days.  Even if that means allowing her the special treat of laying on the furniture.  Please pray that we will know when it's time to truly say goodbye to her.  Actually, my prayer is that as Lucy's body starts to shut down more, that her passing will be quick and as pain-free as possible and even maybe she can pass on in her sleep.  I dread the idea of having to make the most painful decisions ever known to animal lovers.

Pray For Lucy!

Lucy is at the vet now going through additional tests.  Preliminary tests indicate possible cancer of the spleen.  She already has a little bit of internal bleeding which is probably the cause of her anemia (pale gums) and lethargy. 
Lucy is a wonderful little dog and has been a great addition to our family.  Please pray for good news and a good outcome.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hmmm...

 I'm not sure what to think of this.  I think I need to talk a certain, talented little girl.  She has become quite creative lately with her homework for writing sentences.  I shall set the record straight on this one.  

See number 5?  Good thing it's not a true/false question.  I have NEVER run out of gas.  Never. Ever.  Her daddy probably has, but not me.  I'm going to write a note to Jackie's teacher to save myself from embarrassment.

Number 7, not true. I don't keep a map in the car.  We have a GPS.  And for longer drives, I print off a copy of directions from Mapquest.  

And last but most importantly, number 8.  Where does this child come up with her ideas for sentences?  I can barely fit in my clothes?  Ha! I'm not quite sure if this is meant to be good or bad.  It could go either way, actually.  And I'm sure Jackie's teacher is quite certain to get a kick out of this one. Well, we'll be having a little chit-chat tomorrow after school.  Or perhaps I should just have Jackie change all those "moms" to "daddy's". 


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

You Know It's Time...

to kick the McDonald's sweet iced tea habit when the girl at the drive-through compliments your new hair style and asks if you colored it.  The bad thing is that I didn't even recognize the sweet cashier.  But she certainly recognized me.   I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad.

To set the record straight, I did NOT color my hair.  So many people are complimenting and asking if I had my hair colored.  I had new darker highlights applied and then I had my hair cut a bit shorter.  No coloring; highlights only.  

Okay, somebody please challenge me to steer away from McDonald's sweet iced tea. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

AAFA and Other Exciting News!

I received a confidence boost today. I passed my AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) exam!  I took the practical and written exam over a month ago and I finally got my results today in the mail.  Finally!  Ahh, that was the longest month in a long time. I am now officially certified as a group fitness instructor.  I got my Zumba basic license last year but I did not pursue classes yet as I wanted to wait until I got this AFAA certification.  This certification is not required to teach Zumba class but many fitness facilities require a group exercise certification.  I have to admit that I was slightly nervous that I did not do well on the test because it was a tough one, more difficult than I had anticipated.  I was not as prepared as I would like to have been having not studied very much because I have 2 high maintenance children who require my attention. There were 2 parts to the test; a 10-15 minute practical and then a 100 question written exam for which you have to pass by at least 80%.  So, thank. You. LORD!

The other exciting thing is that I am now officially licensed to teach Zumba Gold.  I took the training class yesterday and I left there very excited about teaching future classes to populations that I am passionate about; seniors, people with special needs, and those with mobility issues.  Zumba Gold is also great for beginners and those who just want a lower intensity class.  It will take me a little while, though, to get used to that pace.  I need to do that soon as I already have leads to start Zumba Gold classes.

As much as I love basic Zumba, I don't know if I will ever feel comfortable teaching that format.  I do get a little nervous in front of people until I get to know them or if I feel that they won't be judgmental.  I feel so much more at ease with older people as I feel that they are less apt to be judgmental.  Believe me when I say that there are a lot of Zumba snobs out there who wouldn't even bother coming to a basic class instructed by me.  So, I'll stick with teaching the Zumba Gold folks who are typically less judgmental when it comes to fitness and exercise. 

Nearly 3 years ago when I went to my very first Zumba class, I was hooked right away.  But, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would go this far to get my Zumba licenses and then my AFAA group exercise certificate.  I didn't think I was capable.  I don't have much confidence in myself until after I prove myself (and others, of course) wrong.  I am working on changing that.  I think by starting out teaching Zumba Gold to my preferred target population, this will help me to build my confidence enough to possibly substitute teach Basic Zumba classes.  I have a tendency to pursue things just to prove others wrong about me.  But this time, my goal for getting these licenses and certification was to prove to myself that I can do this.  And with God's help, I will do it.  Thank you to those friends who have encouraged me and cheered me on in my endeavors.  You know who you are. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"Dat My Dot"

Tonight, Ben asked me to help him dry off after he got out of the shower.  I don't mind doing this sometimes, especially if it's getting a bit close to bedtime and we're trying to hurry the process along.

So, tonight as I was drying Ben off, he made sure that I dried every square inch of him.  As I started to dry off the upper part of his leg near his groin area, I noticed a freckle.  At first, I thought it might be dirt so I tried to wipe it off.  When it didn't come off, I looked closer and said to myself that it was a freckle.  Ben immediately chimed in and said, "No, dat my dot."  The kid is always making me chuckle.  What makes it even funnier is the way he says it, succinct and sort of robotic-like.  So, the next time you see Ben, ask him about his dot.  He was very proud that I noticed it. 

I have to share another incident that brought laughter almost 2 weeks ago.  I had taken Ben to Target to buy some new workbooks for him to practice his letters and numbers.  As I was browsing through some of the workbooks in the book section, Ben stood a few feet away from me thumbing through some novel.  A nice older lady came around the corner and saw Ben and asked him if he was learning how to read.  Ben, with his usual succinct way of speaking, looked up at this lady and said in a sing-song way "Noooooo." And then succinctly, "I watch TV."  The lady looked over at me chuckling and said to Ben "Well, that's a good answer."  For the record, I do monitor Ben's TV habits and he is usually allowed to watch just 3 different channels.
  
I have not shared much about our difficulties with Ben's speech, sensory processing disorder, and behavioral issues.  He had severe verbal Apraxia of speech.  Right up until his 4th birthday last year, Ben was still unable to put sentences together.  He was just starting to put 2 words together.  Those first 4 years of Ben's life were extremely frustrating, not only for Ben but for us, because Ben is a very bright little boy and he knows what he was saying.  We were the ones with the problem He was extremely unintelligible.  Since this past Summer, Ben has made huge strides and you can actually have a conversation with him now.  He is still somewhat unintelligible to people who don't know him well.  But, to those who know Ben, so many people are so amazed at his progress just in the last few months.  He has come a long way.  He still has a long way to go but with continued therapy, Ben will continue to make great progress.  The biggest hurdle that we're facing now is the continued aggression and other behavioral issues.  We're looking forward to having this evaluated and I have faith that we will conquer this beast, too, no matter what diagnosis or outcome the doctor gives.  And no matter what, I still think my little boy is the cutest, most awesome little boy around.  And he's a smart one, too.


Who Would Like to Share Their Story About Bullying?

Okay, I feel better now after my rant.  Now on to more important topics.
I am open to having a few guest bloggers to share their bullying experiences on my blog.  Some readers may be aware that October is National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month.  So, if you have a story that you would like to share and how it affects you now, please email me.  You can find my email address if you click on my profile on the side. 

My Keeping It Real Rant

I recently deactivated my Facebook account for several reasons.  You can read about that in a previous blogspot.  During that time, I have done some self-reflecting and have realized that I have a tendency to try to live life the way others dictate that I should.  Well, guess what?  No longer will that be the case.
If I have an opinion about something and I am respectful about that and as long as I am not calling out names, then respect my opinion.  I respect others' opinions. I expect to be respected, too.
Since living in this area, I have met many wonderful people but have yet to truly connect with anybody who I can completely trust and with whom I can just be myself.  I've met a handful of people who I initially thought I could be that type of friend.  But sadly, that does not end up being the case.  It seems that I just cannot be myself with most people.  If you want to be my friend, then accept me as I am.  Don't try to change me.  If there is something that I have done that has offended you and you're not going to tell me, then don't expect an apology from me.  If I know that I have truly done something to legitimately offend somebody, then I have no problem apologizing.  Otherwise, if you can't accept me as I am, move on.
If I make a generalized comment about something that I don't agree with, don't immediately assume that I'm talking about you specifically.  Because more than likely, I am not talking about one specific person.  If you have an issue with that, then talk to me as a friend, don't make me feel as if I just committed the world's worse sin.  This can apply to anything going in our world, from young teenagers' behavior to adults bashing others for not agreeing with their political views.  Oh, I can get on my soapbox with that but I'll refrain for now.  The key issue is respect, respect for self and respect for others. 
If you are a friend of mine, then be a friend.  I refuse to be a second or third class friend.  Accept me as I am or move on.  No more playing 2nd fiddle here.  If I offer to do something for you and you accept, keep it.  I can't tell you how many times I've been asked (and at times I have offered) to do something for somebody only to be told "never mind", I'd rather go with her.  You should have asked that person in the first place.  I know I am not important to most people but still... treat me with respect and dignity.
I may not come across as the most friendly person, or the sharpest tack in the box or even as somebody who has talents.  But guess what?  I've been known to shock.  You think I look dumb?  And you think you do stuff that I won't notice because you think I'm dumb?  Well, think again. I'm quite a bit smarter than you give me credit for.  You think I'm not talented at anything?  Well, think again.  I may not look like a typical Zumba person.  But I can move it.  You think I can't windsurf?  Well, I can get up on that board and take off.  I may not be able to turn it around but I can do it.  You think I can't  jetski?  Well, guess what?  I've done that, too.  On a jet ski, not a sea-doo.  I have been involved in a handful of voice ensembles.  I have played an instrument in marching and symphonic band. I have a Real Estate license from another state where I used to live.  I have been guest writer on other blogs.  I am capable of so much more than you give me credit for. 
If you can't accept me for being the real me, then move on.  I will not live my life according others' wishes.  And show me a little respect and perhaps I'll show you a little more respect.  Rant over. 


Friday, October 12, 2012

This Is Why...

I am so determined to protect my children.  This is why I will be sure to monitor my children's computer, cell phone, any media/social networking activities.  This is also why I will not tolerate bullying from or toward my children.  (The video link to Amanda's story is attached at the end)

What this young girl went through is tragic.  I don't condone what she did, the incident that preceded the bullying. However, she did not deserve to be treated in such an inhumane manner.  She was a human who made a very foolish, very stupid mistake.  This is why preteens and teenagers need to be so very careful what they post on the internet and on their phones as nothing disappears forever.  You may delete something from your computer or phone but that image will forever remain somewhere in that device until that device is destroyed.  Any technical person can tell you that.  It is so important for parents/guardians to monitor such activities. 

This story is so sad and it brings tears to my eyes.  The torment she endured.  The pain she felt.  The rejection.  The deep feeling of loneliness.  There is nothing good about bullying.  However, I hope this young girl's story will resonate around the world to help spread the message that Bullying Can and Does Kill.  It kills the victim's spirits.  The light is extinguished eventually.  Then... life is extinguished if help doesn't arrive in time.   

I know the pain of rejection.  I know the pain of bullying.  I know the deep pain of loneliness.  I also know the feeling of wanting to die so badly.  This is why I'm so passionate about the topic of bullying.  I'm determined to do my part to bring awareness to it.  This is one reason I blog.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Concern For Youth

I recently made a comment on Twitter about how I'm disappointed in the not-so-pleasant language of our young people, especially those kids that I really care about.  I also stated how this makes me lose a little bit of respect for them. I'm talking about junior high and high school kids.  The language or the abbreviated versions has, in my opinion, gotten a little out of hand, especially now that kids of any age have access to their own cellphones, computers, and social media outlets.  I made no mention of any names.  It was a general statement made to no specific person. I am not a religious person and I have had a potty mouth myself.  However, I have been making a conscious effort to keep a clean mouth because I want to make a difference for my own kids.  I know my kids will be exposed in other areas and the worst place lately has been in our schools.  I'm always having discussions with my daughter about some of the slang that I feel is inappropriate at this age.  She picks most of it up from school, unfortunately.

I do feel that, as parents, we must monitor our kids' computer habits and cellphone habits, including language.  I'm pretty sure a lot of parents don't follow up on this, perhaps because everyone leads such busy lives and they just really trust their preteen/teen.  What I have learned though, is that sometimes even the kids that you least expect to have such potty mouths are the worst offenders.  The same for any other destructive behavior.  I want the best for my children just as all other parents do.  That's why when it comes time for my children to have social media privileges, I'm going to do my best to keep tabs on my children.  And I hope that I have the help of fellow parents who will report to me if they see anything questionable coming from my children.  I want my children to know that if they want their elders to respect them, then they need to show respectable behavior, including language.

I knew that when I made my comment, as general as it was, it might offend people.  However, I don't regret making my opinion known.  So, this comment I made on Twitter has now caused the possible friendship break-up of somebody that I had considered a very dear friend.  After not seeing this friend, except once maybe twice, since before school let out last Spring, I'm pretty sure that I'm no longer a friend.  I'm sad about that and for a few days this past weekend, it caused me a little distress because I had really considered this person to be one of my best friends here.   I'm fine now and if this person chooses to continue our friendship, that would great.  If not, I still don't regret my comment.  That comment was not directed at any one particular person.  It was directed at all young people, including those who I truly care about.

Now that being said, this really applies to all of us adults, too.  I remember reading a quote that really resonated with me.  "A person who curses is a sign of an unsophisticated person."  I am trying very hard to make positive changes so that I can be a positive influence for not only my own children but for others around me.  I want to command respect. I want to be looked up to by others as somebody who can be trusted by others.  I recently made the decision to close my Facebook account for several reasons.  Drama (and I'm sure I'm guilty), bad language (and sometimes bad photos, too), political bashing, etc.  Speaking of political bashing, it's a real shame that there are so many people who can't show respect to others who don't have the same views as themselves, youth or adult.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Encouragement

Recently, Tim and I decided to give one particular church another try.  We had attended this church during the last couple of years until I quit earlier this year.  Two different people occasionally emailed me to see how I was doing.  I really appreciated that.  These people made me feel good.  One of those ladies was very instrumental in getting me to go back.  She was not pushy and was always so encouraging.  

The reason I quit going was not because of the new pastor.  In fact, the pastor had nothing to do with my decision.  He reminded me so much of my utmost favorite pastor in Florida, the one who unfortunately died in a plane crash 4 years ago.  The reason I quit going was because I always struggled with finding my place there.  I never felt that I belonged there.  

So, we went back for another try several weeks ago.  Several people saw me and exclaimed, as if with excitement, "you're back!"  I don't mean to sound unappreciative but, where were these people if they missed me so?  I probably came across as rude when I stayed silent and tried to smile.  Oh, well.  I admit, I'm a hard one to know.  Thankfully, there are a couple of ladies who have expressed a sincere interest in getting to know me and for that, I am very thankful.  

I always felt this new pastor was a man of integrity, a man of strong faith and one who really cares about others and desires to become as involved as possible in every area of ministry at this church.  His wife is just as nice if not nicer than he is.  She is down to earth and real, as if her husband. Yesterday morning, it became very clear to me just how much he and his wife care about people. Yesterday's message was about encouragement.  He implored the congregation to be encouragers, especially if somebody has been on your heart.  Tim and I don't attend Sunday school classes; we just attend the main service.  Apparently, the pastor encouraged every person in each Sunday class to write a note of encouragement to someone (within or outside of church) and lay it on the altar sometime before, during, or after church.  I thought that was a neat idea.  This is a great way to remind us to get away from our own self-centeredness and encourage others. 

 I do like to encourage others but I have to admit that I oftentimes lack the confidence to be free with encouragement to others.  I need to work on that.  Most people are receptive to whatever encouragement I have offered in the past but there have been a couple of people who just seem to be easily offended.  Thankfully, those people are few.  A few nights ago, I commented on one of my Zumba friends' arms.  She has some nice arms and they especially show in Zumba.  I think D initially thought that I meant she had big arms because she commented that she needed to work on getting rid of the flab.  Flab?  I totally didn't see any flab.  I saw fit arms.  I immediately made sure that D knew what I meant by my comment and she was so appreciative.  Then we got on the subject of our body shapes.  Now D admittedly is gifted with a little more mass on her bottom half and she talked about how she would like to change it.  This friend, D, is in great shape and it shows by her stamina during Zumba and some of the other group exercise classes we've taken together.  I told D how I thought her body was perfectly fine and then I told her that body shape does not dictate how fit we are.  I recently took a full-day seminar/training class for a group exercise certification and one of the things that was discussed was weight v. fitness level.  I already knew that and I explained to D that although she may be perceived as having a larger bottom, she is more fit than a lot of skinny people half her age.  Just because somebody is considered to be overweight, it does not mean that they are not fit.  Quite the contrary.  Probably half of the skinny people are nowhere near as fit as a heavier person.  Skinny does NOT necessarily equal FIT.  Extra weight does NOT always equal UNFIT.  I told D that we are all unique with our own body shapes and it's up to us how we take care of our health and how fit we stay, extra weight or not.  I just love D because she is so real and allows me to be my real self.  I think she's beautiful just as she is.  So, as per yesterday's sermon topic, I will be writing a note of encouragement to D to let her know how beautiful and talented she is and how much of an encouragement that she has been to me. She is a strong Christian lady with a strong faith and I am so happy that I have her as a friend at the gym.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Jackie's Anxiety Attack

I feel like my daughter has inherited my anxious ways.  I've been seeing signs of anxiety in Jackie for a little while now but it was mostly in a few specific areas.  She especially gets anxious if we're in the vehicle and somebody unbuckles their seatbelt before the vehicle is parked.  I don't understand why Jackie freaks out but she automatically thinks we're going to get a ticket and go to jail.  I have tried to reassure Jackie that we, as her parents, will not be going to jail unless we blatantly break the law.  

Jackie also gets anxious if the dogs escape out the front door, even though the dogs won't go very far.  She doesn't seem to be very attached to the dogs so I don't understand the reason for her anxiety in this area.  

Another area Jackie seems to get anxious about concerns school.  She is a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to her grades and if she slips below a certain grade, it really upsets her.  We are not hard on Jackie about her grades because she does so well already.  However, we do discuss with her whenever we see a grade that reflects sloppiness or carelessness only because we know what she is capable of doing.  We do not yell at her about grades.  At. All. 

Yesterday, Jackie came home complaining of her chest area hurting.  She said that she had to hurry and eat her lunch because she had Glee Club practice.  In my opinion, the kids at her school don't get enough time to eat all of their lunches and Jackie is no exception.  In fact, Jackie tends to be a bit pokey.  Jackie takes her lunch most of the time so on those occasions when I packed more than enough, Jackie complains that I packed too much because she doesn't have enough time to eat. If I pack a little less in her lunchbox, then she complains that I don't pack enough. I can't win for losing.  She finally understood me when I told her to just eat what she can if I pack too much.  Going back to yesterday, Jackie had enough time to eat just one item in her lunch tote and she apparently ate it too quickly so she could get to her Glee practice.  We went to her physical therapy appointment and she did well without any complaint.  The evening was free of complaint, as well.

This morning, when Jackie woke up, she coughed a little bit and then started to cry and complain of her chest hurting.  I could tell that she was struggling for breath.  She was complaining of discomfort in the same area as yesterday.  Of course, I was immediately concerned.  She sat on my lap and as I put my arm around her to comfort her, I could feel Jackie's little heart racing.  Then Jackie started to say she was scared and asked if she was going to die.  She was clearly in distress but I then realized that Jackie was having a full-blown anxiety/panic attack.  I reassured Jackie that she wasn't going to die and that she could stay home with me until she settled down.  Jackie was determined to go to school and she finally settled down just in time to get onto the bus.  I told the bus driver to monitor Jackie and then I called the school to talk to the nurse.  I am proud to say that Jackie's school really cares about Jackie.  I explained to the nurse what had happened this morning and one of the suggestions that she made was to have Jackie eat a snack during the day outside of lunchtime so that she won't feel that she has to inhale her food during the very short lunch period.  I actually was going to talk to Jackie's teacher about this at our teacher conference.  

My heart ached for my baby girl as I know the fear and the pain of anxiety.  I couldn't help but worry about her during the day.  I feel like crying for her.  The nurse and the social worker assured me that they would monitor her and call me immediately if Jackie started to feel bad again.  I do hope that my precious baby girl does not continue to experience such scary episodes.  She will be 8 years old next month and she's much too young to have to deal with an anxiety and panic disorder.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

October Is National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month

How ironic that I just wrote a blog post last weekend on this very topic. I didn't know this month is Anti-Bullying month until today.  After I wrote about my daughter's situation, I read about a couple of other bullying incidents that ended up being very inspiring.  How appropriate.
In case you missed the story about my daughter's experience, here it is: http://www.thestewreport.blogspot.com/2012/09/bullying.html.
Here is the first of the 2 other stories.  I'm so glad that this girl did not give in to her bullies. She even thought about backing out up until the moment she walked out onto the field and I am so proud of her that she fought against her emotions.  Here is a link to her story.
Today, I read about a news reporter who received a scathing email about her weight being a poor example for young girls.  The email amounted to bullying.  I loved this reporter's response to the author of the email.  Here is a link to her story.  In my honest opinion, despite what the author of that scathing email wrote about her, this reporter is an inspiration.
Stay tuned for my own bullying story.  I've shared some of my past experiences but since this is awareness month, I'm going to share more of what I experienced and how it has affected my life.  I have no tolerance for bullies.  At. All.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bullying

Bullying is something that I don't tolerate.  At. All.  Especially when my children are involved, whether they are the victim or the perpetrator.  I've had several talks with Jackie about bullying, mostly because she became a victim of bullying early on.  

Being a parent, especially to children who have special needs, has brought me out of my comfort zone.  I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing.  I just hope that I don't embarrass my children too terribly.  I just want the best for my children.  And I don't want them to endure the pain of bullying that I experienced. 

So yesterday, as I always do, I looked through Jackie's take-home folder from school.  I noticed a note from one of Jackie's classmates.  When I asked Jackie about it, she told me that this girl always calls her slow.  I understand that Jackie can be slow-moving sometimes but why does she say that Jackie is nasty.  Jackie told me that Mrs. L (her teacher) made this girl write the note a couple of weeks ago.  And I'm just now finding out about it.  I am not a fan of note-writing and I'll explain in a moment.  Anyway, during my discussion with Jackie, she also informed me that this girl is not the worst one and that there is another student in her class who gives Jackie a hard time.  Apparently, he tries to get Jackie into trouble by telling the teacher that Jackie isn't doing her work or hasn't finished her work during class.  He calls her names, too.  He is not nice, at all, to Jackie.  From what I understand, both of these kids are troubled children who spend a lot of time in in-school suspension.  Why do they continue to bully my daughter?  Jackie seems to be easier target for them.  

So, the reason I am not a fan of writing apology notes is because I really feel that most of the time, it is not done sincerely. I do, however, think a face-to-face apology is fine (even if not done sincerely) because it forces the perpetrator to face their victim.  I also think taking privileges away (such as recess time or not being permitted to participate in any other fun activity with everyone else) is okay.  

I also feel that the parents of these children should be made aware of what their children are doing.  Perhaps their parents don't care but at least, they are being made aware that there is room for improvement for their children.  If the problem continues, then I feel that a meeting with all the involved parents should be arranged.  I don't appreciate that I didn't know what was going on with my daughter inside her classroom.  Apparently, this stuff has been going on for awhile since school started.  Jackie has another great teacher this year.  Mrs. L has been very good about communicating with me on other matters.  I will be emailing her to get her side of the story about this latest situation.  I realize that I won't be able to protect my daughter from every bully out there but I am determined to put a stop to these episodes as quickly as I can.  I am determined to do my part to put a stop to bullying altogether.  

When I saw the apology note, I couldn't help but be reminded of Jackie's first week of Kindergarten.  Twice within her first week of school, two different kids bullied my daughter.  Those kids not only verbally assaulted my daughter, they also physically assaulted her.  The reason?  Because she was too slow.  The first time, the kids were in line in the very long hallway to walk to the cafeteria.  The school is a very long building and the cafeteria was a very long walk from the classroom with a couple of short flights of stairs between.  The second time occurred on the playground during recess when Jackie wasn't moving quickly enough up the stairs to the slide.  After this 2nd incident, I emailed Jackie's teacher and thankfully, that teacher was on top of taking care of it, even to the point of bringing in the school's social worker to talk to the class about the differences some of us were born with.  I was very thankful for both the teacher and the social worker for taking me seriously and attending to the matter quickly.  After the social worker's presentation, one of Jackie's perpetrators went to Jackie and apologized on his own accord.  He was clearly touched by the social worker's presentation.  This was in Kindergarten!  

I do have to say that Jackie's teachers have shown a great deal of interest and have had compassion toward Jackie.  They have made her feel safe.  I hope this continues.  Because I don't want to homeschool my kids.  Homeschooling is great but it's just not for us right now.