Yes, it is!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Jackie Sang Her First Solo Today!

I am so very proud of Jackie.  I always knew she had a talent for singing even as a toddler.  She sang on key most of the time.  I used to sing to her all the time when she was a baby so perhaps that is how she knew how to stay on pitch. 

 Knowing how much she loves music but would more than likely struggle with playing an instrument due to the motor coordination required, I started early on to encourage her vocal talent.  I also encouraged her to be a part of the children's choir at church.  Jackie tends to be a little bit shy in front of crowds (she's too much like me) but she enjoyed being part of the choir.  

A couple of months, Jackie had the opportunity to audition for a solo.  When Jackie told me about it, I encouraged her to audition.  I admittedly was doubtful that Jackie would even be considered for several reasons, one of those being how shy and quiet Jackie can be.  As good as Jackie can sing, she sings very softly.  When Jackie told me that she got a solo part, I was surprised but so happy for her. 
As the time got closer, Jackie started to get anxious.  I encouraged Jackie and told her that I knew she could do it.  I have to admit that I was afraid that she would get so nervous and have stage fright.  Well, tonight, Jackie proved that she could do it.  I could tell by her face that she was so nervous but she nailed it.  It took everything in me to hold back tears of joy for her.  I was one proud mom.  I still tear up when I watch the video.  I am so, SO, proud of my baby girl.  She is such an inspiration to me.  And by the way, in case you don't know, she does have mild to moderate hearing loss in both of her ears but that didn't stop my baby from being gifted with such a beautiful, angelic voice.

I hope you enjoy this video.  You do not need a Facebook account to view this: Jackie's solo.

Friday, December 13, 2013

One Year Ago Today...

It's hard to believe that it's already been a year since I had my life-changing surgery.  Not only do I feel better physically, but it also helped to boost my self-esteem.  I don't feel like such a freak now, either.  My back and shoulder pain is much improved and I no longer feel like I'm suffocating from all that weight I carried around on my chest for so long. 

The surgery was something that I had long considered and when I finally decided to pursue it, it turned into a 3-year battle with three attempts through my insurance coverage.  The third attempt was the charm.  I think it also helped that this last surgeon really advocated for me and worked hard to get my insurance to cover the procedure.  He agreed that it was truly a medical necessity, especially considering my body size v. breast size.  I feel like I owe my life to Dr. Reid and I was very sad when he moved away from this area.  He is definitely a top-notch doctor with a great bedside manner, too.  I wasn't just a number to him. He treated me with nothing but kindness and compassion.  His nurse was the same way.  

It feels so good to be able to wear just one sport bra to work out, run, or do Zumba.  It's such a nice feeling to be able to pick out a cute bra off the rack for less than $20.  Gone are the days of having to pay $60+ for a bra at a specialty store.  My clothes fit so much better and I no longer feel the need to adjust my clothes constantly to try to hide myself.  I can breathe better.  I can see my belly now and it's bigger than I ever realized (those old ones were good for at least that!). The dents in my shoulders rarely hurt and they are no longer bright red.  My posture is improved, too.  Shoot, even before I left the hospital after my surgery, I felt so much lighter.

This past summer, I was finally able to enjoy taking my children to the beach without feeling like I needed to cover up my swimsuit with a shirt.  I didn't feel like people, men and women alike, were staring at me.  I felt "normal" for a change. 

I'll never understand why some women pay thousands of dollars to be so large-breasted.  It's not comfortable, at all.  But to each, her own. I remember as a young girl when my breasts started to grow (they were normal size back then), I dreaded it.  Even when I graduated high school, I was considered average bra size but I looked large because I was so thin, less than 100 pounds.  (Oh, to have those days back). Having children, unfortunately, caused me to develop macromastia. 
Before I went in for surgery, I told a few of my friends (who I knew would be supportive) so they could pray for me.  I am an anxious person and my anxiety level leading up to the surgery was a bit high.  I really believe that because of the prayers and support of those friends, my recovery went so well.  I had very little post-op pain after 48 hours passed.  I felt so good that I had to keep reminding myself to take care and not overdo it.  A huge thanks goes to my surgeon, Dr. Reid, as he took great care of me not only before the surgery, but during and afterward, too.  

Having the breast-reduction surgery truly has been life-changing and because of that, I am much more open about having had it done because I want to be an inspiration for others who are in need of or are considering having it done.  I read that this type of surgery has one of the highest satisfaction rates and I am a true believer in that. I am definitely one very satisfied patient. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Baby Is Six!

My sweet boy is 6 today.  These years have gone by so quickly.  I still remember like it was yesterday, how it felt when the nurse held my baby boy's face to my cheek.  I had a c-section so I was unable to hold my new baby right away. But I'll never forget how his skin was so soft against my cheek.  I still find myself snuggling my cheek to his sometimes just to remember that day of his birth.  Ah! The memories.  I never want to forget. 

Despite the challenges of raising a little boy who has a severe speech disorder and a sensory processing disorder, I love my Ben with all of my heart. He truly is a blessing to our family, an unexpected blessing.  He was our little surprise, completely unplanned.  I know I've written about this before but when we found out I was pregnant and nearly 8 weeks along already, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It just completely took us by surprise.  I mean, we were in shock, such shock that Tim had the nerve to ask how it happened.  Heheheh.  I was all set to start a new and different graduate program that summer and those plans went out the window immediately.  I have no regrets, though. 

Ben has grown so much this past year in many areas.  His speech has come so far.  Just 2 years ago, he had difficulty putting together 2 word sentences.  This past year has seen tremendous growth with his speech. What's better is that Ben's frustration level has greatly improved because he is much better understood by us.  He still has at least a couple more years of therapy, though, to get him to where he should be.  Despite the speech disability, Ben is a very smart little boy.  He has always scored higher on his receptive skills and he learns things very quickly. I'm thankful that Ben has not let his disability get in the way of learning.

Ben started Kindergarten this year and he absolutely loves it. I was a bit worried about how he would adjust to being in school for a full day but he has done fantastic.  He has, so far, received green marks on his folder every day.  He has also been a "star student" several times already for good deeds.  Just this week, he received another "star student" certificate because he picked up a piece of trash in the library and threw it away when everyone else just walked around it and ignored it.  It's a big deal to him to be a "star student."  

Ben has become a very sensitive little guy in this past year.  He does and says some of the cutest things and Tim and I can't help but laugh.  Ben gets so upset and has been known to run to his room, slam the door shut, and hide behind his bed.  He doesn't quite understand that we're not laughing at him but that we're laughing about his cute-ness.  Ben also is also sensitive toward those who are disabled in some way.  He really has a heart of compassion and that makes me so proud.

Ben is such a funny little boy, even when he's not trying to be funny.  I still laugh when I think about the time he left the dinner table while Jackie was in the middle of one of her meltdowns, and he came back to the table with his ears stuffed with tissue.   The past month, Ben has talked constantly about going to O'Charley's for his birthday dinner.  Finally, today came and he was excited about going to O'Charley's.  The waiter asked Ben what he wanted to eat and Ben said "I don't know."  Funny kid. 

It really has been quite an adventure these past 6 years, raising a boy.  Ben definitely keeps us on our toes.  He always has us laughing about something. He is also my very affectionate child.  He loves to snuggle and rub noses and cheeks with me.  I love it! He has also matured some.  Up until recently, Ben would freak out and cry if he had to go on stage at church for any reason such as children's choir or Awana award night.  He would be fine up until the moment he had to go on stage.  I've had to go "rescue" him more than once.  He made me so proud this past Sunday when he got up on the church stage with the children's choir and sang along. I was beaming because he did so well up there.  He's such a big boy now.

Ben has his own group of fans.  He is very well-liked, both at church and at school.  He seems to have no problem making friends.  Even the senior ladies at church have a thing for him.  During church, Ben has been known to make drawings as gifts for his older lady friends.  They're smitten with him. Even some of the teen girls gush over Ben.  He has lots of girlfriends, for sure. It makes me very happy that my baby boy is loved on and cared for by so many people. 

It is my prayer that Ben will continue to have his sensitive and compassionate heart.  He just makes me so proud when I see that part of him in action.  It helps me to know that I'm doing at least one thing right with him. 

Now, if only somebody would have warned me about all the "boy part" situations... there have been plenty of them recently and Daddy is no help with that.  I can't help but wonder who's going to give "the talk" when it's time. 

But, Happy Birthday to my boy!  We love you so very much and we are so happy that God unexpectedly blessed us with you.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Beautiful Night... In More Ways Than One

Wow, what a night!  I had the privilege of performing with the Masterworks Chorale tonight.  This is such a talented group of people and I am thoroughly enjoying being a part of the Chorale.  Tonight, our concert consisted of 2 parts.  The first part included a candlelight processional while we sang along with the children's choir.  Then we filed on stage where we continued to sing old and traditional Christmas carols.  The children's choir performed after us.  What a beautiful job they did.  I am now inspired to consider having Jackie audition for the children's choir.  (Jackie can sing beautifully).

After the children finished their portion of the concert, we had a short intermission before we finished out the concert with Handel's Messiah Pt.1 and the Hallelujah Chorus.  The orchestra did a fantastic job (hired professional musicians).  The soloists also performed beautifully. I just feel so honored to have been a part of this beautiful concert tonight.  

I think I have found my niche here. The chorale members make me feel so welcome and a part of the "family". They really seem to like me.  I am looking forward to getting to know my new chorale friends.  The director/conductor is also very kind and patient, and he has made sure that I have everything that I need to be successful in the Masterworks Chorale.

I was so excited to have a few friends come to the concert to support me.  I know at least a couple of them were praying for me because they know how nervous I can get.  And guess what?!  Their prayers worked!  I wasn't nearly as nervous as I thought I would be.  In fact, I hardly felt nervous, at all.  The thing that made me feel the most nervous was that I was in the front row on the end where I felt I would be more visible.  But I got over that quickly.  Of course, it did help to keep my focus on the conductor.  So, if those friends are reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming out on such a frigid and icy night to see us perform.  It means more to me than you will ever know.

The most beautiful thing that occurred tonight didn't even have to do with the concert.  But what happened there has given me a renewed hope.  See, a friend whom I haven't seen in nearly a year came to the concert.  There was a lot of hurt between us this past year and I had grieved over the distance that came between us. This precious friend came tonight to see me perform.   During intermission, I was able to quickly say hi to my friends and when I caught up with this other friend, we embraced and I didn't want to let her go.  It was so good to see her and hug her.  And my kids, especially Jackie, were all over her.  (There are certain friends of mine with whom Jackie has a special connection and this friend is one of them).  I never wanted to let this friend go because I had considered her to be my closest friend here.  We had good times together and I missed that this past year and a half.  I am so glad that God is working on us to repair our friendship.  I love this friend and even when we weren't talking, she was never far from my thoughts.  That must have been God's way of telling me that it wasn't completely over and that time would heal our hearts.  Seeing my friend tonight and the way we embraced made me realize that I truly was an important part of her life before we let hurt feelings fracture our friendship.  I'm looking forward to the next step to healing in our relationship.  My prayer is that God will continue to work in both of our hearts.  I especially pray that God will heal my friend's heart as she has been through so much pain this past year.

It really made my night to see this friend and to be able to hug her.  It made me so happy!  Thank you, Lord, for such a beautiful end to a most beautiful night (despite the frigid cold and snow/ice).