Saturday, August 24, 2013
Tonight as I got Ben's shower ready, Ben started to disrobe. When he pulled his underwear off, he asked me what was on his genitals. I looked and my first thought was that he must have somehow gotten a lot of dirt into his underwear. I looked a little closer and realized that it was actually the lint from the black underwear he was wearing. They were new and had been washed but I guess it's going to take a few washings before the black lint will quit adhering to the skin.
After I finished telling Ben how he needed to make sure and wash all around his genitals to get the lint off, Ben looked at me and asked what the circles were. I looked down and he was feeling his little scrotal sac. Oh boy, he's only 5 years old and I'm not quite sure how to explain all these things to him at this age. I was pretty sure "boy parts" wouldn't really suffice this time. I mean, he can't visibly see the difference between boy and girl internal anatomy. So, I told him to go ask his dad. While he did that, I went back into the kitchen to get Jackie her ice-cream. My bedroom is nearby and I could hear Ben asking his daddy what the circles were for and Tim's response was "I don't know." Heheh. It took everything in me not to burst out laughing. As Ben went back to the bathroom to shower, he informed me there were 2 circles in there. I couldn't help but chuckle inside. But seriously, I really don't know to explain male anatomy at his age level. My standard answer "boy parts" is just not going to suffice much longer.
In case you wondered about the title, click HERE.
On Saturdays, as I'm cleaning around the house, we have what I call music appreciation day. In other words, the TV is off. OFF! For awhile, my children balked at that idea but now they're so used to it, if I'm trying to get a lot of stuff done, Ben will say "listen to music". Ben has also been known to say "listen to music" if he can sense that I'm stressed or upset about something. He cracks me up about that.
So last weekend was no exception. I like a variety of music, as long as I can understand it. No head-banging stuff or rap. I put in a few CDs in the player and started doing stuff around the house. A couple of the CDs were Francesca Battistelli, one was a Carpenter's cd, and another was an Adele cd. Jackie loves Adele and she seems to enjoy some of the other music we listen to around here. On this day, Francesca's CDs ended up being the first ones to play before Adele's cd began. By the 2nd song on Adele's cd, Jackie asked if it was christian music. No, I replied. Jackie looked at me and in a serious but somewhat shy tone, she informed me that she wanted to listen to christian music only. What?! I was taken aback by this. I asked her if I should switch out the Adele cd and she said yes. Seriously! So, I replaced the remaining CDs with some other christian music. And Jackie was happy as she began to sing along to the lyrics. Jackie memorizes lyrics very easily, too.
So, it's been christian music only for Jackie which is actually okay. Including the radio station in the van. At least I don't have to screen the lyrics now. In fact, Ben loves that radio station's signature tune and will sing along with it (Joy FM), all 3 seconds of it. And he always asks me to repeat it as if I really can. But seriously, this was just another reminder that Jackie is really becoming her own person and starting to make her own decisions about life choices. She makes me proud.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
I recently learned of a sweet pug that needed a new home and I offered to foster it until the pug rescue organization can pick him up. Before I picked up the little guy (who will only be referred to as Old Man to save him from embarrassment), the former owner told me Old Man is 10-11 years old, that he was neutered, he was not microchipped, and that he has pedigree papers. He has a good temperament and was very affectionate.
Yesterday was the day that I went to pick Old Man up from the former owner's mom's house (did you get that?), where he had been living for the past few months. Immediately, I noticed something. I made a comment about Old Man not being neutered and the owner's mom said, "yes, he's neutered", to which I replied "No. He's not." She seemed very surprised and then she asked me how I can tell. I just pointed to the offending body part and the lady said "Ooohhh. Well, what do they do? Cut them off?" Well, essentially, yes. I couldn't help but chuckle about this. Her reply back was that she's never had boy dogs, just always girl dogs. Hmm, she had just finished telling me that her husband had recently adopted a Shih Tzu that was already neutered when they got him. in case you didn't know, there is a very obvious difference between an intact male dog and a neutered male dog.
So today, Ben was laying on the floor nearby where Old Man was walking around. Ben then sat up and told me that Old Man pooped. Of course, I immediately mentally prepared myself for a clean-up. I asked Ben where Old Man pooped. Ben then got up, looked at Old Man's behind, and then pointed. Gah! The dog is not neutered. I then told Ben that it wasn't poop. Of course, Ben being the curious little boy that he is, asked what it was. For a moment, I was left groping for word to explain what it was when the words finally came, "those are boy parts." Boy parts?!! Thank God for another distraction before I was forced to answer that last exclamation question. And poor Old Man, his scrotum has been a source of amusement 2 days in a row.
My kids have been on a roll again. They come up with the craziest and funniest questions and comments. And sometimes, there just are no words. For example, this:
Jackie was in the midst of a meltdown at the dinner table. At one point, Ben went to the bathroom and when he came back to the table, this is what we saw. While we found good humor in this, it only made Jackie more angry. As one of my friends said, Ben will make a good husband one day. Heheh.
One day, Ben said he wanted to marry me. Just a couple of hours later, he hated me. And then he told me I was cute.
Jackie woke up one morning recently and said that she wanted to live in a family that wasn't weird. For some reason, that just struck me as funny. Apparently, we're a weird family because I held a family meeting to go over expectations within the household. I did offer to adopt her out to a family that wasn't so weird but she wasn't too crazy about that idea.
Recently, I was reminded of the randomness of the questions that come from my children. One day, while I was driving, Jackie just out of the blue asked if we were made of meat. Hmm. I sometimes can't help but wonder what possesses my children to ask the strangest questions.
Now here's a heartwarming conversation between my children recently. They were looking at my wedding dress when Ben asked when Tim and I are going to get married. Here is the rest of the conversation:
Jackie: They're already married, Ben.
Ben: Oh, when will they get married again?
Jackie: They're never going to get married again. The only time people get married again is when the husband dies or when the wife dies.
Ben: Oh, when will they get married again?
Jackie: They're never going to get married again. The only time people get married again is when the husband dies or when the wife dies.
I've never really talked about the ideal of marriage with either of the kids. The topic just hasn't come up but this conversation reminded me that Jackie is coming into her own person with her own thoughts and ideas and most of them are right on. She makes me so proud.
Today, Ben got a lesson on male dog anatomy. That story is coming next.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
I don't think I'm a very outgoing person. In fact, I too often feel anxiety when I'm in larger groups of people. I actually do much better, socially speaking, with just a couple of people. However, I have several people in my life who consider me to be a friendly, outgoing person. I'm quite the contrary. As much as I try to give good first impressions, I fail more often than not. I just get so anxious. There really are very few people with whom I feel that I can just let go and be myself. By nature, I just am not an extrovert and today I read a blog post that proved that to be true.
The following article fits me almost perfectly. The only thing that really stood out to not apply is the one that says introverts often marry extroverts. I most definitely did not marry an extrovert. He is actually quite the opposite.
Here is the proof: 23 Signs You're Secretly An Introvert
So, my dear friends, just know that I really do like you and I'm not intentionally trying to be standoffish or stuck-up. I really do enjoy being around my friends. I just wish anxiety wasn't part of it.
All summer long, Ben was so excited about starting Kindergarten. About 3 weeks ago, Ben started to show some anxiety about school starting. Every time somebody would ask him if he was excited about school, Ben would suddenly become quiet and look a little forlorn. On registration day, pictures are taken to put in the students' files. Ben was very resistant about this and started to whine about going to school. This actually took me by surprise because all summer long, he seemed excited and asked questions about what he was going to do in school.
Open house was last week. Ben seemed to enjoy meeting his new teacher and seeing where his desk is. On the way home, we asked Ben if he was excited about school now. He told us to stop talking about because he just didn't want to talk about.
School started yesterday (Monday). Ben was a little nervous but he didn't cry. His little friend from down the street was also starting Kindergarten and they got on the bus together. Happily, they were also allowed to sit together on the bus. There were also no tears from me. I'd been looking forward to this day.
I picked up the kids at the end of the school day and I could tell they were both a bit tired, especially Ben. But he was in a good mood and had a great first day of school. He was so happy to see his best buddy from his Early Childhood class this past year. He was excited that he and K were able to play together at recess.
I am very happy with the teachers that my children were assigned to this year, especially Ben. His teacher is very nurturing and patient with kids who have such severe speech disorders. I had prayed about Ben's future teacher and my prayers were answered. This is going to be a great year of learning for Ben.
Jackie is worried that third grade is going to be hard. We reminded her that she said the same thing about starting 2nd grade and she ended up having a great year. Then she started talking about how nervous she was about when she starts 4th grade next year. And she hadn't even started school, yet. Ah, the girl is just too much like me. She worries too much about the very distant future already. I know she's going to do great, though.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
So, Tim has a case of ADD (attention deficit disorder). Seriously. I can't tell you how many times I have found something for him when it was right in front of him the entire time. Like they said, if it had been a snake, it would have bitten him. Most of the time, I admit, this disorder has caused some issues in our relationship but I have had fun with it sometimes. Like the time Tim looked all over for his sledgehammer. He was quite agitated when he finally asked me if I had seen his sledgehammer. I was pretty sure I had seen it so I started walking out to the garage, with Tim following right behind. I went right to the space where I had last seen it, and there it was. I pointed to it and asked Tim if that was what he was looking for. It was suddenly very silent as Tim picked it up and gingerly walked out the side door of the garage to the backyard. Not even a thank you. That darn ADD.
So, last night, after spending 5 hours at the emergency room with a friend, I came home to see this:
I was slightly amused and just left it there.
This morning, I was rudely awakened by a certain person, asking me if I had seen his reading glasses. I said no . And then I rolled back over. He started to grumble about how he's going to have to get yet another pair.
Well, Tim got another pair of readers. The other ones are still sitting on the pineapple. And I'm not telling. Darn ADD.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Jackie needs hearing aids. We've actually known for a few years. We're not exactly sure about the cause of Jackie's hearing loss. It's very possible that it's related to her disability as vision and hearing issues seem to be a common problem among children who have periventricular leukomalacia (PVL). That's a mouthful, isn't it. What this means is that the white matter around the ventricles is dead. The most common cause of PVL is a stroke, either pre-natal or post-natal. I don't think we'll ever know the exact cause in Jackie's case.
During Jackie's very early years in the Early Intervention program, she was monitored in many different areas, including her hearing. She never seemed to be able to pass the hearing screenings and was eventually evaluated which showed a possible hearing loss. Jackie had an ABR (auditory brainstem response) performed at age 2 1/2. Due to her age and of course, being a toddler, she had to be sedated for this procedure. I was really hoping for answers that day but unfortunately, tests came back inconclusive, although showing some signs of hearing loss. It appears that Jackie experienced a rare phenomenon involving interference within her body whenever the technician tried to test above a certain frequency on Jackie's left ear. She continued to be monitored and again we were told that she more than likely needed hearing aids.
A few months after Jackie's third birthday, I noticed something weird going on with her eyes. It continued to get worse and then I realized that she was crossing her eyes as well. Her doctor screened her eyes with some sort of machine and was able to immediately detect that Jackie indeed had something going on with her vision. We were referred to a children's ophthalmologist who diagnosed Jackie with 2 different issues. One of those diagnosis was strabismus (crossing eyes). Jackie needed eyeglasses with a strong prescription for her left eye and a plain non-prescription lens for the right eye. At first, Jackie was compliant with wearing her glasses but because she had such a tiny nose with hardly any bridge, we had difficulty finding frames that would stay on her. After several months, Jackie became non-compliant with the glasses. I can't tell you how many pairs we went through, either because Jackie would damage them or lose them (purposely). I can actually laugh now about the many different ways that she came up with to make her glasses "disappear". There were many times they were stepped on because she would purposely leave them in somebody's path. One time, right after getting another new pair because the previous ones were broken (guess by whom), I noticed that Jackie's brand new pair wasn't on her face. When I asked Jackie about it, she denied, at first, that she knew where they were at. She finally received a threat, whereupon nonchalantly got up from where she was playing, sauntered into the kitchen area, reached under the table, and voila! She had hidden those things in a crevice underneath the tabletop. I would NEVER have thought to look there. I remember being angry but wanting to laugh at the same time at Jackie's cleverness. The non-compliance (and frustrations from me and Tim) continued for a few years. There was NO WAY that we were going to pay thousands for hearing aids when Jackie wouldn't even comply with her glasses. We tried patching with an over-the-eye patch, patching eye drops, rewards, discipline. Even the threat of eye surgery didn't scare Jackie into wearing her glasses. It was either her way or no way when it came to that. Of course, her left eye vision continued to get worse. I was so afraid that she would go blind in that eye. Then finally... finally! Jackie realized that she couldn't see out of her left eye and it was even starting to affect how she could see out of her right eye. Suddenly, Jackie was wearing her glasses nearly every day after she started 2nd grade. Finally, a breakthrough! She is so used to wearing her glasses now that she thinks she looks weird without them. And, thankfully, Jackie's latest vision appointment showed that there was a slight improvement in her affected eye which means that surgery is no longer a threat at this time.
With all of Jackie's other appointments, I had gotten behind on her follow-up appointments with the otolaryngologist and audiologist. We were finally able to get her caught up several months ago. At that appointment, the need for hearing aids was very clear. Jackie has a mild (right ear) and moderate (left ear) hearing loss. Now that Jackie has been wearing her glasses faithfully and with the fact that she would be entering 3rd grade within months, we agreed that we seriously needed to consider the hearing aids now. However, with the looming government sequester, we put the hearing aids on hold. At first, Jackie was cool about that because she really wasn't sure about wearing yet another thing that would draw attention to her. Over this past summer, it has become clear to us the need for these hearing aids as Jackie started to tell us that she wanted and would wear the hearing aids so that she could hear better.
You know the saying, "when it rains, it pours"? Well, we've had a few pressing needs come up all at once, it seems. Not only does Jackie need hearing aids, we're going to have to take her to the orthodontist sooner than later now as she has a tooth that has erupted in the wrong place and it's become very difficult for her to brush that area. The tooth is very high up and causing her that gingival area to become very sensitive. We all know how expensive orthodontia is. As if that's not enough, our washer and dryer are on the edge of dying. And I need an device that will help with my sleep apnea. That particular device also is not covered by insurance. So yeah, the needs are pouring in and I'm trying not to stress over it. As responsible as we are with our finances, all these expenses, in addition to all the various therapy appointments my children go to, are taking a toll on us, especially with the income drop during the furloughs. And now our TV is getting ready to die, too. (I actually hope that thing dies soon as I would so LOVE to get rid of TV and cable). My family is too addicted to it and I can live without it.
So back to the hearing aids. We have medical coverage but unfortunately, hearing aids are not covered at all on our policy (Tricare retired). They cost a few thousand dollars initially. And the costs will continue to add up over the years because as Jackie grows, she will need to have the molds replaced to fit her growing ear structures. It is not cheap for a child to have hearing aids. I have been made aware that there are organizations that will help provide for hearing aids but they involve donated, used aids. Lions Club is one such organization. If it was me who needed a new set (yes, I have hearing aids, too), I would go for that. I'm hesitant to do that for Jackie because I want to make sure that the hearing aids that she gets fit her appropriately and will stay on.
With this government sequester causing Tim's income to take a dive, I was looking forward to picking up more substitute teaching jobs after school starts back up and use that income to pay for the hearing aids. This past week, Jackie told me that she wanted to do a lemonade stand to help make money for the aids. Jackie was inspired by a neighbor's lemonade stand and she wanted to do the same thing. At first, I felt like she shouldn't be the one working for this need but then I realized that it would be a fun thing for her and a learning experience on top of that. I advertised the lemonade stand on Facebook for Jackie. We set it up this past Saturday morning and I was very pleased and almost wanted to cry at the show of support for Jackie. Thank you to all my friends (and strangers) who donated above and beyond what Jackie was asking for the items on her lemonade stand. Her friend who helped with the lemonade stand also donated a bunch of very nice clothes to sell in a yard sale. When I told Jackie how much she brought in that day, she had the biggest smile. That made me so happy for her. A couple of people have said that they are sending money to help pay for the hearing aids. The next day at church, Jackie was hugely blessed by somebody. Even though the card was signed "a friend", I have a suspicion who it is. I was dumbfounded and nearly in tears. We've never been blessed like that. I'm actually having a difficult time accepting such a large amount by one person. I mean, we're not poor but we do have more than the average amount of medical bills. We're not rich, either. However, this past week of blessings (including non-financial) have left me feeling rich. I feel so blessed that people care so much about Jackie and they want to make sure that my special girl has her needs met sooner than later.
A few people have asked if Jackie qualifies for any type of disability payment. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?), Jackie does not qualify for one cent. About a year ago, after learning that several kids in Ben's Early Childhood class were getting disability payments for having a speech disorder (not even nearly as severe as Ben's), that made me wonder if my children would qualify for anything. So, I filed an application at the local social security office. Within a week, we were informed that my children did not qualify at all. The only way my children would qualify is if we deplete every single fund within our family and have less than $3000 in liquid assets. That includes my children's accounts! Well, that's just not going to happen. I will work two or three jobs before I allow that to happen. I wasn't expecting much but I was hoping that we could get just a small amount of help to pay for expenses that aren't covered by insurance. For example, equine therapy (horseback) has been highly recommended for Jackie but we cannot afford that, and all the free programs are full. We will soon have to start buying 2 sets of shoes in different sizes because Jackie's left foot is 2 1/2 sizes smaller than her right one. Nordstrom's does allow people to buy a pair with 2 different sizes but again, it's not exactly cheap there. The expenses for Jackie will continue to increase as she grows but Lord willing, we will make sure her needs are met.
Some people asked if Jackie can be treated at Shriner's hospital. The answer is yes but not for hearing aids. I don't know of any Shriner's hospital that fit hearing aids. The Shriner's hospital in our area treats orthopedically and we do have an application for Jackie to be evaluated there. Jackie has had 2 foot surgeries and because she is also at higher risk of hip dysplasia due to her position in my womb and being female, I'm pretty sure she would qualify for care there. I just need to get all the paperwork together and have all of her doctors submit their records.
I also received a couple of suggestions about organizations to check into, one of which is Audient Alliance. I never heard of that organization before but I am going to fill out their online application. I really appreciate the questions and suggestions that everyone had. We also very thankful to those who blessed Jackie so much this past weekend. As Jackie has gotten older, I have become much more open about Jackie's "disability" and her future concerns so I really do appreciate when somebody asks me about her. I also want to make it very clear that despite the CP, Jackie is a straight A student, she absolutely loves karate (another blessing as this is provided for free), and she is talented artistically and musically. Within recent years, after some bullying incidents, I have taught Jackie to be open about her CP when people ask why her feet are different sizes, why she limps, or even why she has a "big band-aid" on her arm. The latter is actually kinesiotape and Jackie gets so irritated when people ask about it. I'm still working on her with that one. But she still makes me so proud.
I have to admit to feeling slightly depressed for a couple of weeks after I returned from Florida. But this past week, things started to look up for me.
First, I should say that it's amazing what an apology and forgiveness can do. For the past couple of years, I felt really awkward whenever I was around a particular person. This person was very outgoing and friendly to so many. However, we experienced a disconnect because of certain events that occurred around church. Frankly, I felt judged and I felt I could never be a good enough christian. My daughter had a really good relationship with this person and her daughter. I was actually good with it because they were always so sweet and kind to Jackie. However, I felt still felt very closed up whenever I was around this other person. I was just happy that people really cared for and loved my daughter. Still, I felt very inadequate next to this person, not only spiritually but physically and materially, too. Until lately, that is.
After being gone for several weeks this summer, Jackie was happy to see her friends here again. She and the little girl mentioned above resumed their friendship and their bond seemed to grow stronger in an instant. Jackie was so giddy around her friend and they get along so well. Before I knew it, the girls were planning a playdate and/or sleepover. We started with the playdate. The mom emailed me to set up a time and day. Our sons are also close in age so Ben was able to be included in the playdate. I have to admit that I was feeling a little anxious because I wasn't really on speaking terms with the mom. When I arrived at the playdate location, I was actually relieved to see somebody else (I'll call her C) I knew and when she saw me, she invited me to sit with her. I obliged but I also kept an eye out for the other mom and the kids. She spotted me right away and quickly became friends with C, especially because they are both homeschooling moms. It ended up being pleasant conversation. After C left, I immediately felt anxiety coming on again because I really wasn't sure how this mom was truly feeling about me. I have to say that I was very pleased with myself that we were able to continue having pleasant conversation while our children enjoyed playing with each other. I left there feeling a bit renewed and encouraged. I emailed the mom later to thank her and let her know that my children really enjoyed the day. She emailed back saying the same. Eventually, she offered an apology and I knew it was sincere. It brought tears to my eyes. (I've become sentimental like that, lately). Of course, I accepted. I felt very encouraged. The next thing I know, the kids were planning their next thing, a sleep-over which came to fruition tonight. I am so happy and feel blessed that I and the other mom have been able to work on a friendship. I really hope and pray that it will continue.
In addition to that, I received encouraging texts from a friend (thanks Patti!), I was able to help out a friend who recently had spinal surgery (I really do enjoy helping others when I can), I registered the kids for school. Speaking of which, I was even more blessed to learn who my children's teachers are going to be and I am very, VERY happy with those assigned teachers. Ben will be getting speech therapy at school twice a week, too. I can't believe my baby is going to start Kindergarten and I am so blessed that it's full-day Kindergarten, too!
The biggest blessing we received this past week and weekend will be explained in the next blog post. Despite all the heavy load we've been carrying recently, I am feeling encouraged.
Monday, August 5, 2013
A while back, I wrote a blog post asking for my readers and friends to pray for a friend of mine who had just buried her second son in a matter of three years, almost to the day. The only thing she told me at the time was that it was an accident but unlike with her first son, it was not a vehicular accident. She also said that an investigation was ongoing. I didn't know any specific details and I didn't want to press my friend for more information as I knew that she was still struggling to even keep it together. I left there with a very heavy heart for her.
Fast forward to today, we were able to meet for lunch while our children played. She has a daughter, just 2 1/2 months younger than Jackie. When we first met, we were both pregnant with our daughters. We moved to this area around the same time and we kept running into each other at the OB clinic and at the commissary. We finally exchanged numbers, however we didn't see each other very much as she lived quite a distance away. Three years ago, she and her family were transferred to another base but they returned to this area a year ago. I didn't see my friend again until this past November, a few months after she and her family returned.
My friend was able to share a little more with me today without breaking down. I'm not sure how to explain what happened except to say that I really, REALLY hope that parents do a lot of research before they allow their teen to take Accutane. My friend did do her research but after her son became of age to sign consent for it (age 18 years), he did so in order to treat his acne. Even so, my friend's son never showed any of the side effects that this drug is commonly known for. I knew this young man and I knew that he was raised in a very loving environment. He was on the Dean's list at college, he was very close to his little sister, he enjoyed doing things with his family, and he was very well-liked by all of his friends. He was, by all accounts, a shining star to all those who knew him. He was also a Christian. I knew from the moment I met him nearly 9 years ago that he was a very special person. My heart aches for my friend.
Talking to my friend and assuring her what I believe about her son being in heaven (if heaven truly is real), I couldn't help but become a little angry at the memories of being preached at in years past that suicide is a sin and you're automatically doomed to hell. As somebody who has experienced such deep emotional pain to the point of wanting to die, I now know that a person in such a state is unable to think rationally or even think about how it will affect their loved ones. I'm talking about suicide, in case you didn't get it, yet. Thankfully, I personally don't struggle with such feelings now. But there are so many others out there. It makes me very sad every time I hear about somebody, somebody who has such a promising future, dying in this manner.
Going back to the accutane, I have heard too many tragic stories involving the use of this drug. One high profile case occurred while I was still living in Tampa. You might recall the teen who flew a small plane into a downtown Tampa highrise. That teen was on Accutane. There are numerous other tragic cases linked to Accutane. Personally, as a mom, and one who has struggled with depression and anxiety, I will never consent to having my children treated with Accutane. And especially so, because Jackie has been showing signs of an anxiety disorder.
I implore all of my friends and readers to please do heavy research before consenting to the use of Accutane.