About Me

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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Was A Very Good Year.

It seems that regardless of where I may be, I keep hearing people echo the same sentiment. They can't wait for 2013 to be over stating that it has been a horrible year and vowing that 2014 will be better. I've come to believe that I'm in the minority because 2013 has been fabulous!

This has been a year of great professional and personal growth. I have settled into jobs which I adore, and I am fortunate because everyday is different and leaves me with a great sense of personal satisfaction. I struggled for many years, especially after Robby was born, with a career path. Finally, after a lot of hard work and some luck, I feel like I am on the right track. The contentment I reap from my work has been liberating. 

2013 has allowed me to add more experiences to my work resume. I am honored to be a featured blogger for UNlimiters.com, a start up company which has great potential to help the entire disabled community. Every Friday I publish a blog post on their site discussing my life as an amputee and products which I have found helpful.This is a different style of writing which is both challenging and rewarding.

In August I was asked to become the official Mommy Ambassador for Hotspotshield.com, a VPN service. Hotspotshield was a natural fit for me because I spend an inordinate amount of time on the internet and my cyber security is paramount. I have thoroughly enjoyed both new roles and look forward to growing these relationships in the coming year. 

In the past twelve months I have been involved in some wonderful adventures. I have consulted for two major television shows, an opportunity which always leaves me awe struck due to my celebrity infatuations. I was part of a panel discussion for the Huffington Post Live and was interviewed on the Diane Rehm Show.  My "Strut Your Stuff" movement gained national attention and considerable momentum when it was adopted by the Amputee Coalition. I was featured in a CNN article which garnered the coveted spot on their home page.  I was interviewed by NBC News (yet to be aired) and was honored to speak at the Amputee Coalition National Conference. Pushing me completely out of my element, I was invited to travel to New York City where I participated in a music video (set to be released in February or March).

Although 2013 was a stellar year for me professionally, my personal life has certainly yielded the most profound change. This fall we were delighted (and admittedly terrified) to learn that I am expecting our second child. After trying and hoping for five years, the reality of the pregnancy certainly took awhile to sink in. With the baby now kicking up a storm, I find myself counting down the time until I meet our second little miracle in May. I am both anxious and excited about beginning what should be a wildly exciting and entertaining journey as a mother of two in 2014.

I am approaching the New Year with excitement and optimism about the future. I hope that next year I can reflect on 2014 with as much satisfaction and happiness as I felt when writing this blog.  Happy New Year, and I wish nothing but happiness, love, laughter and lots of cupcakes in the coming year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Nana's Party!

This past weekend was another busy one. We woke up early Saturday morning, packed our bags and headed to PA. In years past, this trip would have occurred on Christmas morning. However, this year we decided to stay home for the holiday. As luck would have it, my cousins were having a difficult time fitting my Mom's traditional holiday dinner into their Christmas day schedule as well. This was the first year that we have all gotten together on a date other than December 25th, but I foresee it becoming a tradition for the coming years. 

By the time we arrived at my Mom's, her house was already full.  Robby quickly abandoned his tablet and DS, opting instead to play with and chase his cousins. There is a unique sense of happiness that comes from hearing a chorus of children squealing and laughing. Suddenly the date on the calendar was inconsequential, and the festive holiday mood was recaptured for the afternoon.

True to form, my Mom prepared way too much food. All of the kids essentially ignored the dinner buffet table, instead visiting the cookie tower throughout the afternoon. In reality, the only time the little ones sat at the dining room table was when the cake was being served. The younger ones may not visit often, but they have come to know that Nana (the name all of the kids use for my Mom) always has cake and chocolate milk.

While the kids were busy chasing each other around the house firing their "fart guns," also courtesy of Nana, the adults were able to visit and catch up. Of course, sometimes talking was a bit difficult because of the inundation of electronic toot sounds and children laughing. Thankfully Nana opted to buy the regular guns and did not feel it was necessary to upgrade for the added scent option!

It is amazing how quickly the afternoon flew by. Before I realized it, the sun was down and the little friends were running on fumes (and sugar). By the time everybody packed up to go home and I helped my Mom clean and put away the food, I was beyond tired. Between watching the kids and helping with the food, I was on my feet for the majority of the day. I'm not too proud to admit that I was asleep before my 7 year old.

We woke up Sunday morning to miserable weather. The skies were grey and the rainfalls were heavy. Because of the anticipated traffic and the dismal weather conditions, we decided to pack up and head home a little early. In retrospect we made the right decision. Visibility and road conditions were horrible, making drive both difficult and stressful.

Despite the frustrating drive, we had a wonderful weekend. My family doesn't see each other with great frequency, but when we are together we always have fun. I typically hate change, but this new tradition might be the perfect fit for everybody's growing and changing family.

Friday, December 27, 2013

R & R

Lying in bed yesterday morning, I began to devise the lengthy post-holiday "to do" list. Tidying up the living room ranked among the top of the chores which needed to be done. I have never had a reputation for being a clean freak, but the clutter of the plastic toys, games and wooden blocks strewn from corner to corner was enough to drive me crazy.

After gathering my ambition to be productive, I put on my leg to begin what was sure to be another busy day. One step completely eradicated every plan that I had made. My leg was painful and swollen. I immediately knew that the clutter would have to be picked up by little hands because I was going to be directing the activities from the comfort of the couch!

I absolutely despise bad leg days. I suspect that the activities of the past few days coupled with the swelling issues from my pregnancy have combined to making walking awkward and painful. Knowing the cause is one thing; taking it easy to allow myself time to recover and heal is another issue entirely. I resent having a difficult time walking and hate when I have to tailor my activities because of my amputation.

We made one trip to the mall and I regretted the decision almost instantly. Instead of cleaning and tackling the growing list of chores, I spent much of the day sitting and watching Robby play. He seemed oblivious to my ambulation issues and was content spending the day playing with his new treasures. While I still do not understand the appeal of plastic army men, I have come to realize that the enjoyment apparently increases exponentially when the medieval knights are added to the battle.

After keeping my leg off for several hours, I slipped it back on so that I could help Robby crack open his "easy to open" geode discovery kit. Well, after 30 minutes of whacking the rock with our hammer we decided to seek professional help. We bundled up, grabbed our unbreakable geode rocks and headed to see Mr. Bill. 

Working together, it took the pair another 15 minutes to crack open the geode. The task involved a vice, chisel, screwdriver and a variety of mallets. Robby was delighted when the crystals were finally exposed. Although I can't be certain, I'm fairly sure I saw Mr. Bill cringe when Robby promised to return with the remaining 6 geodes!

The remainder of the day was relatively non-eventful. Robby occupied himself with his new toys, and I was able to unburden and rest my limb. Hopefully the day of rest and limb compression have done the trick because this weekend we have another Christmas party to attend and I don't have time for pain!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas!

I had every intention of posting an update on the blog yesterday. Obviously, I failed to consider the energy level of my excited seven year old when I wrote that promise. Robby woke up at 7:30, squealing the arrival of Santa Claus. Much to his chagrin, I insisted that I put on my leg before accompanying him to the Christmas tree to inspect his loot. If I followed his pleas, we would have saved time by hopping.

True to tradition, I think that Santa went overboard again this year. Robby faced a towering pile of presents in front of the tree. Undeterred and up for the task, he tackled the looming mountain of gifts with a dedication only exhibited by the young. Within 15 minutes everything was unwrapped and the living room was covered in sheets of torn Angry Birds wrapping paper. Only after everything was revealed did he pause to inspect his haul.

We spent the morning assembling the toys and trying to create a semblance of order out of the chaos that became my living room.  Robby happily played with each toy after the batteries were installed and all the loose parts were clicked into place. It turns out that the process worked well by allowing him ample time to play with each toy before a new one was ready. After nearly two hours, all of his toys were beeping, firing and flying around.

It is hard to say which toys are Robby's favorites, but I would have to say he has a strong affinity for the two remote controlled helicopters and the fart gun (courtesy of Nana of course). We spent hours in the driveway as he practiced flying and landing the helicopters. After numerous crashes, he finally became a quasi-competent pilot. Thankfully the helicopters are deemed "indestructible," although we are sure to put that claim to the test!

It was so nice of my Mom to make the 5 hour (round-trip) drive to visit us on Christmas. Robby loved showing her his toys! Unfortunately she visited before the living room had recovered from the morning destruction; she was literally walking over plastic army men, tanks, Nerf bullets and wrapping paper during the entire visit. I tried to explain that the house does not usually look that bad, but judging from the toy clutter catastrophe I realize that my claim was difficult to believe. 

We spent the entire day playing with all of the toys. Although Scott and I were delighted that Robby did not watch TV, ask for the computer or his XBox the entire day, we were both exhausted from the constant activity. I really don't know where Robby found the energy to keep going, but he never took a moment to rest. I wish I had his energy reserves because I was struggling to keep up!





Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!!

I will definitely return later today to post pictures and a recap of our morning. In the meantime, enjoy Robby's rendition as the Wise Man (Robby referred to the role as the "really smart dude with the gold") in last night's Christmas play.









Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Not a Creature Was Stirring...


Candy Cane Cookies

A few days ago, Scott and I were watching an episode on the Food Channel which featured various Christmas cookies. During the program, Scott casually remarked that he really missed his mom's candy cane cookies. My little elf ears immediately perked up as I started planning a cookie surprise.

His mom sent me the recipe for the cookies several years ago, and I knew that this was a surprise I could pull off. In preparation, Monday I searched through my cookbook to find the recipe. Unfortunately, I couldn't find it. Apparently it was someplace "safe." I began to dig through my combination Tupperware/ cookbook cabinet determined to locate the missing card. Nearly two hours later the cabinet was clean and organized, I had two bulging trash bags of plastic containers and lids without mates and the recipe in hand. I felt a surge of adrenaline having completed a looming task (cleaning out the disorganized cabinet) while locating the coveted cookie recipe.

Knowing that Scott would be delighted, I envisioned his reaction as I carefully measured and mixed the dough. I ended up phoning his mom for technical advice, wanting to make sure that I didn't deviate from her recipe. The dough preparation was the easy part; the work of the candy cane cookie lies with the rolling and shaping. After the first dozen were formed, I was both bored and frustrated. Between the sticky dough and the fragile shapes, the surprise was quickly becoming a chore!

After nearly 90 minutes, all four dozen cookies were rolled and formed onto the cookie sheets. After they were baked, I waited exactly 60 seconds before removing the delicate cookies and gently coating them in powdered sugar. Needless to say, this step is easier said than done. The cookies were still hot and extremely fragile. I broke more than I care to admit, but thankfully the evidence was quickly disposed of (courtesy of Robby and his friend Rowan.)

Finally, the laborious cookie enterprise was complete. I was excited to surprise Scott with his favorite nostalgic treat. I arranged several cookies on a Christmas plate and triumphantly delivered them waiting anxiously for his reaction.

"Oh, nice" was his response. Nice? Those blasted cookies took hours to create and they certainly warranted more than a "nice." Undeterred, I insisted that he try one. After all, perhaps he didn't know that they were his mom's recipe. Surely one bite would bring him to his Epicurean knees.

After taking a bite, he smiled and said, "They are pretty good, thanks." Annoyed, I informed him that they were made from his mom's recipe which I had followed precisely. "I know. They taste pretty good." He then put the cookie on the plate and continued watching TV. So much for the over-the-top reaction I anticipated.

It's difficult when so much work and effort yields an unappreciated reaction. I'm trying not to take it personally, and I know full well that Scott's reactions to surprises are often tempered. Regardless, I am hereby retiring my elf baking hat for the season. After all, I now have a container full of "nice" candy cane cookies which should be more than adequate for the remainder of the season. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Party Wrap-up

Friday was Robby's last day of school before Christmas vacation. To say he was excited would certainly be an understatement. He woke up at 5:00, eager to go to his school party and to perform his songs that his class has been practicing. The fact that his Nana was going to be in the audience simply added a layer of enthusiasm and excitement.

I've come to realize that the last day before Christmas vacation and the last day of school for the year are the only two times that Robby (and Scott for that matter) don't complain about going. The typical routine of, "I don't want to go to school today. Please Momom, let me stay home" was suspended for this momentous occasion. Instead of moaning and groaning, Robby was watching the clock tick all morning because he actually wanted to go to school. What a nice change!

After dropping him off, I ran a few quick errands in preparation for the "super big holiday crafting and game party" I was hosting for his classmates. I knew that Robby was not alone in his excitement when all of his friends cheered when I entered the classroom. I was definitely the hero, not because I brought craft supplies but because I was toting a Chic-Fil-A chicken nugget platter.

We spent the rest of the morning and afternoon working on holiday crafts and playing reindeer games. Squeals of laughter, all originating from his classroom, were echoing down the hallway of the school. I love seeing Robby and his friends so happy!

Robby was delighted that his Nana arrived a little early for the concert allowing her time to visit the party. He was an attentive host, making sure that she was comfortable and had a good view of the activities. I later learned that he pushed two chairs together, making sure that they were touching in case his Nana needed more room. (For the record, my Mom only requires one chair. I think Robby was worried because the chairs are child-sized.) He immediately put dibs on the cozy rocker (set up in the foyer for the concert) so that his Nana would have the best seat in the house for the performance. He justified his request by reminding the Principal that his Nana has two new "inside knees." Always thoughtful, he added that she would give up the rocker if somebody came who doesn't have any knees. 

I was grateful when the kids needed to line up for the concert because I was utterly exhausted from my role as party host. I sat in the chair next to my Mom (perched in the rocker) and prepared to be entertained. It turns out that Robby only remembered one of the three songs being sung, but he sang it loudly and enthusiastically. Perhaps the brevity was tad anti-climactic for my Mom, who drove a total of 6 hours to watch the performance, but I know Robby was proud that she came to watch him.

By the time I got home after the party, I was in a zombie-like state of exhaustion. It turns out that I was not alone in my fatigue. Robby curled up next to me on the couch to watch Elf and we were both sound asleep by 7:30. Occasionally, his rising before dawn has its benefits-especially when he falls asleep early!

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Few Moments Can Change a Lifetime

Wednesday morning I walked into my favorite flower store hoping to say hello to a friend and purchase bouquets for Robby's teachers. Instead of feeling the festive rush that often occurs when I'm "elfing," I learned news that struck me to my core. Upon hearing the news, I found myself standing in the middle of the store, paralyzed by grief and with tears streaming down my cheeks. 

I had to read the sign at the register twice before I could fully comprehend the message. Daphne, the owner of the store, had passed away on Tuesday. Although it is always sad when somebody passes away, especially this time of year, this death hit me unexpectedly hard.

Daphne was the only amputee who reached out to me before my amputation. I will never forget the phone conversation that we had and the advice that she imparted. Although she wasn't the support system that I desperately needed largely due to her own physical struggles, the knowledge and time that she gave me during our brief chat meant the world to me.

Not even sure of what to say, I remember answering the phone and choking up with tears after she introduced herself. Composed, she simply said, "It's scary, but it will be okay." At that moment in time, that is precisely what I needed to hear.

I revisited our conversation numerous times during my recovery. It is amazing how much wisdom she managed to fit into a few minutes! Daphne warned me that despite feeling prepared, I was going to grieve my foot at unexpected times. She was right. She told me that the surgery was going to "hurt like hell" but that I would recover and the pain would eventually fade.  She was right. She warned me that I would experience body image issues and that sex and intimacy would be awkward and difficult for awhile. Again, she was right. She promised that I would eventually feel normal again and that I would "get my groove back." Thankfully, she was right!

Perhaps more than her words, Daphne's legacy for me was her demonstrating the profound impact of reaching out and helping somebody. While she was not able to be a consistent support system, she did provide me with a glimpse into the benefits of peer support. The fact that another amputee took time out of her day to talk to me, a scared novice, meant the world to me.

I have never forgotten the kindness that she showed, and I will always remember how much I appreciated her advice and experiences during those unsure times. When I read that Daphne had passed away, it felt like I was emotionally transported back to that tumultuous and frightening time in my life. I relived and felt all of the fears and worries that I experienced nearly 11 years ago. For a few moments on Wednesday, I was again that scared young woman who was petrified of living a future without her foot.

It has taken me several days to process Daphne's passing and my profound reaction to the news. After numerous phone calls with my mom trying to talk through my feelings, I have come to the conclusion that Daphne impacted me far more than I realized. It was because of her reaching out to me that I now feel compelled to help other amputees and their families.

There is no doubt in my mind that my adjustment to limb loss would have been easier if I had a peer support system. I have never resented that she could not be that support system for me, but I have realized that her kindness demonstrated by reaching out to me during a time of need planted the seed for this blog and for all of my outreach efforts. Daphne epitomized the potential of peer support, and for that lesson I will always be grateful. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Busy Party Elf

Tomorrow is Robby and Scott's last school day for 2013. To the delight of both boys, they will be able to enjoy 16 days at home before returning to school.  While I will be glad to have them home, I am withholding judgement about the length of their vacation. After all, having them home all day always equates to more dishes, food preparation, need fulfillment and overall messes for me to fix.

Robby's excitement about Santa visiting next week has been tempered by the anticipation of his classroom party and performance. His class has been practicing their song for the past month, and he is eager to finally take the stage. Much to his delight, Scott and his Nana (my Mom) are going to be able to come to his little performance. He is over-the-moon to have his own cheering section!

Before Robby's concert I am hosting the class Christmas party. I have bags overflowing with crafts, games and special surprises. Robby has become accustomed to my planning his class parties, but even I am impressed by everything that I have planned for him and his little friends.We will make ornaments, paint snow scenes, play a variety of reindeer games and even have our own snowman dance party. I anticipate being exhausted by the time his concert begins. 

The Halloween and Thanksgiving parties in his class have certainly set high expectations for his classmates. Although we had a great time with each celebration, the kids have no idea what fun I have in store for them tomorrow. For the past few days I have been inundated by prying questions as his friends try to figure out the party secrets. I just love seeing the excitement in their eyes every time they ask. They don't know what we are going to do, but they do know that it is going to be a lot of fun. After this much planning and prep work, I venture to say that I am probably as excited as the kids for the party!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Magic Lotion

To say that yesterday was hectic would surely be an understatement. I woke up early, tired from a restless night of trying to calm my worries and anxieties about the day's activities. I had a camera crew coming to my home to film an interview for a possible national story. Needless to say, every insecurity and minuscule details suddenly became paramount.

Thinking ahead, I had scheduled for a cleaning service to come on Monday. I wasn't expecting a miracle, but I was hopeful that they could make my home presentable. Not wanting to disturb the countless Christmas decorations strewn everywhere, the crew certainly had their work cut out for them! With the cleaning off my worry list, I was able to focus on more pressing issues, such as what I was supposed to wear.

There is no denying it; I am now wearing maternity clothes. Although I avoided the switch, as soon as I felt the soft elastic around my belly, I knew I had made the right decision. The clothes are certainly not the most fashionable, but most of the time I tend towards comfort over style. 

Of course, this time I wanted to achieve both style and comfort, a quest akin to chasing windmills when you are relegated to a maternity wardrobe. Finally giving up, I settled for a pretty teal sweater and my black maternity pants. Understated and certainly not trendy, but classic and presentable. By the time the crew pulled into my driveway I was dressed, my make-up was applied (twice) and my hair was styled (to the best of my limited abilities).

Robby, recognizing that I was nervous, decided to give me my Christmas gift early. He was insistent that I open it despite my reminders that Christmas is a week away. After unwrapping the tube of lotion, he proclaimed that I needed it because it was magic lotion which would give me "super powers" for the interview. Applying the lotion failed to result in my becoming a super hero, but the (extremely) sweet aroma reminded me of Robby. Maybe his confidence in me was the booster that I needed.

All things considered, I was pleased with the interview. I didn't stammer, and I am fairly sure that I spoke cohesive thoughts with minimal "umms and yeahs." (My former speech teacher would be impressed.) I don't know if my portion of the story will make the cut or if it will make the cutting room floor. Either way, I know that I invested my best effort in the project. Considering the topic for the story, highlighting people who have made a difference utilizing blogs and social media, I am honored to have been courted for an interview. I'll keep you posted with details as they arise. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Crafts

We are in full-blown Christmas mode. Tinsel, paper-chain garland and decorations are strewn everywhere, provided it is 4 feet and below. Robby and his friend Rowan have invested hours happily decorating for the season. I think their artistic vision is charming and haven't changed a thing. (Okay, I did remove the ornaments that were hanging on every light switch so that the lights could be turned off.) Martha Stewart would certain not approve of our decor, but I probably wouldn't feel comfortable in her home anyway!

With the interior exuding Christmas spirit, Robby and I switched our attention to other traditions. Every year he loves decorating his Gingerbread house. I don't necessarily enjoy the process of mixing, cutting, baking and assembling the structure for him, but seeing the excitement in his eyes makes it worthwhile. For some reason, pre-made Gingerbread houses are too perfect and uniform for our home. Our cookie creation has lopsided walls and a bumpy roof, but I think those imperfections add character. At least, that is what I tell myself when I prop a variety of glasses, bowls and DVD cases against the walls to keep them in place while drying. 

After setting up Robby with a dozen bowls filled with colorful candy, novelty sprinkles and other edible decorations, I seized the opportunity to work on another festive craft. A friend of mine sent me a link for what Pinterest claimed to be an "simple, no-fail Christmas craft geared for children." I thought the result was clever, and considering that I am certainly not a child, I felt that I possessed the skill level required. I grabbed 20 candy canes, my glue gun and sat across from Robby to create my own festive masterpiece.

Within minutes of the glue gun turning on I remembered an important fact about myself. In my incapable hands, the glue gun becomes a weapon of self-destruction. I managed to drip hot glue on just about every pour of exposed skin. I am still trying to figure out how scalding hot glue ended up on my forehead and scalp!

The Christmas music in the background was drowned out by my not so festive cursing as I tried to deposit the glue onto the candy canes instead of my fingertips. After several reprimands from Robby, I finally just dropped a ten dollar bill into the cuss jar, hoping it was enough to cover the offenses. I tried to temper my words, but hot glue under my fingernails apparently brings out the sailor in me. 

My fingertips were sore and blistered by the time my "simple, no-fail" craft was complete. All the wreath needed was another candy cane heart to fill the void. Unfortunately it didn't fit. I have no idea how the Pinterest crafters were able to create a complete wreath, because mine simply wouldn't close. Obviously, I was incorrect in my assumption that I had the crafting talent of a child. 

Out of fear of using up my credit in the cuss jar, I decided to walk away from the project. My wreath may not be a complete circle, but I am trying to be optimistic. Instead of being a Pinterest failure, I crafted the opportunity to include a large bow for hanging. Somehow, this funny looking wreath looks perfect next to our candy covered crooked Gingerbread house.



 



Monday, December 16, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree...


Cutting down a Christmas tree has been a tradition in my family since I was young. I can remember going to a tree lot only a handful of times in my life. Bundling up in coats, hats and scarves and "braving" the frigid temperatures in search of the perfect evergreen is a highlight of our holiday celebrations! Of course, some years we were in short sleeve shirts and tromping through the mud, but the colder years are the quintessential memories I cherish most.

Preferably the tree is always cut from the same farm in Pennsylvania although we have been known to deviate from that location depending upon the circumstances. Although Scott grumbles each year about driving 2 hours for a tree, I know that he understands the sentimental value that the tree farm provides. Not necessarily an outdoors man, and certainly not somebody who enjoys schlepping through the woods and getting covered with tree sap and debris, even he has come to appreciate and enjoy the tradition.

This year, our family again piled into the car and headed to Pennsylvania. This year my Dad, who lives in Texas, was able to coincide a visit with a business trip in the area. To the delight of all of his his grandchildren, their beloved Candy Papaw was able to come to the Christmas tree farm. 

Robby was practically giddy at the prospect of being able to cut down a tree like a lumberjack. His Paul Bunyan fantasies were slightly tempered when he realized that he had to use a saw instead of an ax. After emphatically informing me that an ax would be a better tool for the job, he begrudgingly took a saw and hopped onto the hayride destined for the tree fields. 

After carefully evaluating his options, Robby chose a beautiful (and incredibly large) Christmas tree.  After measuring to make sure it would fit (we ended up clearing the ceiling by two inches), the boys began to cut it down. Robby, insistent that he did not need help because he is "becoming a man" finally allowed his Daddy a turn with the saw. Thankfully Scott took full advantage of the brief window and made a rather deep cut in the trunk. If he hadn't, I'm fairly sure that my little man would still be in the field hacking away at the tree!

As soon as we brought the looming evergreen into the house Robby wanted to commence decorating. Wanting a tree that exuded Christmas spirit and was bright enough for Santa to see from his sleigh, Robby begged for me to put on every light strand we own. Caught up in the festivities, I agreed. An hour later we stepped back and turned on the tree. 

My first thought after seeing the tree illuminated was "Holy Hell this is bright!" It turns out that 2,000 miniature LED lights can put off quite a bit of illumination. Mr. Bill actually called because he could see the tree shining brightly from his living room window! I went outside to evaluate the visibility of our tree to discover that the bottom portion of our driveway was illuminated with a beautiful montage of red, blue, green, yellow and purple.  Our living room looks like a 1970's nightclub from the road.

We definitely crossed the line from festive to full-blown tacky, but in Robby's eyes, it is nothing short of spectacular. He has no doubt that Santa will be able to see his tree. I'm pretty sure that the astronauts on the Space Station are also the recipients of our shining Christmas spirit! 




Friday, December 13, 2013

Emergency Cupcakes

Yesterday morning, after dropping off Robby at school and running a few errands (which unfortunately involved pumping gas in 17 degree temperatures), I came home and settled in front of the wood stove. I had my binders at the ready and was preparing to spend the remainder of the day finishing up some reports and working on a newsletter. All plans were put on hold when I received an unexpected phone call from Robby.

I always become nervous when the caller ID reads Robby's school. Anticipating news that he had become ill or learn that an unexpected visit from Robby Rotten needed to be addressed, I jumped for the phone as soon as I recognized the number. After all, the calls from school almost always herald bad news!

Robby's sweet and chipper voice was on the other end of the line, and I immediately knew that he was neither sick nor in trouble. Instead, he was calling to ask me for a favor.  He was concerned because a friend (who is in a different class but shares a recess) was celebrating a birthday and he did not have a treat to share with his class.  Robby asked me to bake some cupcakes and bring them to school for his friend. After all, when you are in elementary school, birthday cupcakes reign supreme!

After talking with him for a few minutes he handed the phone to the Principal. She explained that Robby was worried and wanted to help his friend. Hopeful that a phone call would allow him to refocus, they allowed him to call me. I inquired about his friend and learned that his mother was sick. Although she didn't verbalize the diagnosis, the conversation led me to believe that the mom was battling some form of cancer and that the family was overwhelmed. I began to preheat the oven before hanging up the phone. 
 
I knew that time was of the essence and I wanted the child to have the treats to share before everybody started to go home for the day. The frigid air which I cursed while pumping gas worked to my benefit when cooling the cupcakes. I whipped up and decorated two dozen birthday cupcakes in record time!

Covered in batter and icing, I managed to deliver the cupcakes before the second recess began. I gave them to the Principal because I did not want to draw undo attention to the situation. I knew that she would be able to quietly and discretely deliver them to the correct classroom. I did stop by and let Robby know that his request was filled and that his friend had treats to share. He threw his arms around me and whispered, "Thanks for having my back, Momom."

The sincere concern and empathy that Robby demonstrated for his friend warmed my heart. I am the first to admit that we have made our fair share of parenting mistakes. Robby is far from the perfect child, and at times his behavior and habits make me want to pull my hair out. But I am in awe of the intuitive sense of empathy that he has for others. We have done a lot wrong, but while I was baking the cupcakes I was acutely aware that we have also done something very right.



Thursday, December 12, 2013

Eggos

Yesterday I woke up uncomfortably early. I didn't wake for any purpose; I just simply couldn't sleep anymore. I am splitting the blame for this issue between stress, my ripening pituitary tumors and the pregnancy. Unfortunately, knowing the cause does little to quell my frustrations while I'm sitting in the living room at 4 AM.

The announcement for Robby's two-hour school delay came scrolling across the bottom of the tv screen around 4:30. I remember the excitement of school delays when I was his age. There was something special about mulling around in the morning in my pajamas and eating a special breakfast. The joy of missing two hours in the morning is only overshadowed by an entire snow day.

My desire to relive my school delay childhood memories combined with my need for a project compelled me to make Robby a special breakfast. At 5 AM I carefully (and quietly) mixed and kneaded the dough for homemade sticky buns. The breakfast treat takes several hours to prepare, but time was not an issue. After all, we had a two hour school delay!

By 7:45 the pastries were mixed, shaped and slid into the oven. It didn't take long for the comforting and appetizing odor to start wafting through the air. Wanting to make the breakfast a bit more balanced, I decided that I should fry some bacon.

If you have never smelled the wonderful aromas of sticky buns baking and bacon frying, you are missing out. If I could figure out a way to capture the heavenly odors, I would surely be a millionaire. Within a few minutes Robby was lured out of bed by the smells. He appeared in the kitchen wearing his army man footie pajamas and just rolled out of bed hair. He looked adorable as he stood by the oven, inquisitively sniffing the air. Without my offering an explanation, he smiled and said, "It's good to be a kid." 

I set up the TV tray with a warm sticky bun and bacon. After turning on Scooby Doo, I poured myself a fresh cup of tea (I'm trying to minimize coffee intake) and assumed my position in my rocking chair. I was fully expecting him to devour the special breakfast I had prepared.

After 30 minutes of watching the Mystery Gang solve another phantom inspired case, Robby had still not touched his sticky bun. I finally asked him how it was, hoping that my prompt would entice him to eat. After all, it took me a lot of time to make the treat and I wanted it to be enjoyed! 

"Well Momom, thank you for my breakfast. Don't be sad. But I really wanted to have a super yummy Cinnamon Toast Eggo waffle this morning." 

I plopped his Eggos into the toaster and handed them to him on a paper towel once they were warmed. He devoured both in record time, citing the smells in the house as making him hungry. Apparently he likes the smell of sticky buns in the morning but he doesn't necessarily want to eat them.  Obviously my son is not going to grow up to be a food critic! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Snow Days!

The past two days both boys have been off school because of snow and ice. I am not sure whose smile was wider when the news was announced that school was cancelled; both Robby and Scott seemed equally ecstatic about the snow day declaration. Robby was thrilled to have two days to frolic in the snow, build snowmen, go sledding and engage in "epic" snowball battles.  Scott was excited about the respite from his students!

This is the first year where I have not been asked to assume the role of Robby's snow buddy. I was happy to relinquish the cold responsibilities so that Robby could play with Rowan (our neighbor). To be honest, I was doubtful that my snow attire would fit over my growing baby bump. The fact that I could stay inside by the fire and that I didn't have to try to squeeze into various layers was a relief!

Instead of playmate, I was reassigned to resident baker, hot chocolate maker and clothing dryer. Every few hours the kids would come inside and peel off their drenched layers leaving me with a large wet pile of snow clothes by the front door. I'd throw them into the dryer before filling their snack and drink orders. By the time they were done eating, their snow clothes were dry and ready for another round in the frigid temperatures.  My hot chocolate maker, ovens and dryer all worked overtime over the past few days, but watching them play from the window made every effort worthwhile.

Other than some mild shocks at night, my phantom pain has been virtually non-existent through this winter event. Many times the limb pain which accompanies snowstorms can be unbearable. I was delighted to actually watch the flakes fly through the air without feeling the pain and discomfort which often accompanies the tranquil sight. 

Much to the chagrin of both boys, they will return to school today. Although I enjoyed having them home, I am ready for the house again to be quiet. It's hard for me to get a lot of work done when I'm constantly being asked to bake treats and dry mountains of wet clothes.

Today will be spent finishing up reports and paperwork. The snow has melted and the walkways are slick, so I am hesitant to venture out by myself if it isn't absolutely necessary. In year's past I would just slip on my Yak-Trax cleats, but the addition of the baby bump makes walking on the ice even more difficult. I'd rather stay inside by the fire and wait for Scott to come home before running errands. Right now, slipping and falling is the last thing I need!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Realigning Priorities

Sometimes the petty frustrations of life become overwhelming. I suppose it is easy to lose perspective of what is important, especially when you become so caught up in the day to day details of life. On Sunday I received news that instantly forced me to realign my priorities and allowed me put all of the petty worries into perspective. 

My cousin's husband passed away suddenly. I cannot comprehend the sense of terror that she must have felt when finding her husband unresponsive on the floor.  Within hours, he went from being alive and seemingly well to being declared brain dead and donating his organs so that others may live. Although I am not surprised by the family's decision to donate his organs, I remain in awe of the strength of his wife and daughter to think of others in the midst of their tragedy. Organ donation is an act which hits close to my heart. My step-brother was the recipient of donated lungs, a gift which considerably extended his life.

Although we have never been close, in all honesty I can only recall seeing my cousin and her husband four times in the past twenty years, I can't fathom the overwhelming grief that she and her daughter must be feeling. The fact that we are in the midst of the Christmas season must compound the sense of loss. Of course, there is never an ideal time to lose your soul mate.

Between snowball battles and cookie baking, my thoughts keep migrating back to my cousin. Her loss has demonstrated that life is so unpredictable and precious. In an instant everything can change.

I don't want to live life in fear of a tragedy, but I also don't want to become consumed by the petty and irrelevant issues that often arise. I'm simply tired of fretting over the inconsequential. In the scheme of life, those petty issues (and people) really don't matter.  Instead, I want to concentrate on the present and try to create memories and relationships that will help sustain me through life's turbulent changes.

Monday, December 09, 2013

First Snowfall

Yesterday morning Robby woke up to discover that the first snow of the season was falling. I wish I had a camera to capture the look of awe and excitement as he stood by the patio doors and watched the flakes fly through the air. Within a few hours, my little Koopa was bundled up and outside playing in the cold white fluff. 

Because it was a weekend, his friend from down the street was home. Rowan quickly came down and the pair played in the snow for hours. Most of the time I am out in the snow assuming the role of playmate. Because he had his friend, I was able to watch him make snow angels, sled and throw snowballs from the warmth and comfort of my living room.  Don't get me wrong, I love playing with Robby. But I certainly didn't miss slipping and sliding in the frigid cold!

While Robby and Rowan were playing, I spent the time baking treats to warm them up. After the first hour outside they came in to warm up by the fire. They stripped out of their multiple snow layers by the front door before warming themselves. After throwing the clothes in the dryer to prepare for the next snow round, I surprised the friends with warm peanut butter cookies and hot chocolate.

By the time they finished their treats and watched a Christmas cartoon, their snow clothes were dry. Scott and I worked in tandem to get them re-dressed to return to the winter wonderland. Again, they stayed outside for about an hour. They came back inside and their clothes were thrown into the dryer (again). This time while they were warming up they enjoyed meatball subs (and more hot chocolate).

This pattern repeated throughout the afternoon. By the time the sun was setting, the two had enjoyed seemingly gallons of hot chocolate, peanut butter cookies, meatball subs, pizza rolls, sugar cookies and brownies. Needless to say, Robby was exhausted but not terribly hungry when it was time for dinner!


Friday, December 06, 2013

Keeping it Classy...

I have been having trouble sleeping which has led to my functioning on fumes throughout the day. I feel like much of the time I have been living in a fog, distanced from deliberate thought processes and operating on autopilot. Unfortunately, sometimes autopilot fails. 

Yesterday morning after dropping off Robby at school, I went to the grocery store. I knew I had only a few items to pick up, but the fact that I am easily winded makes shopping more laborious and less fun. Regardless, I had to pick up some staples or I was going to have to serve Fruit Loops for dinner. I wanted to make the trip as quick as possible, so I stuck to my list and checked out quickly.

Carrying my two grocery bags, I fumbled with my keys to press the unlock button for my car. I heard the familiar "beep beep" of my car doors unlocking, and opened the door to the black SUV. I tossed the bags on the center console and sat down. Relieved to finally be able to sit down and relax, I was also anxious to release copious amounts of gas which I had been trying to hold in while in public. After letting out a toot which would have impressed Robby, I proceeded to close the door and get ready to drive home. I was clicking the seat belt when the smell came wafting up and became overwhelming. Obviously I have been living with males for too long because I found myself saying out loud, "Man it's a good thing I didn't let that rip in the store." 

I imagine my surprise when I heard a raspy voice say "I'm not so sure about that." I looked in the passenger seat and saw an elderly man, quietly sitting. Then I looked at the dashboard and realized that it was grey whereas mine is brown.  It took me several (extremely long) seconds to process my situation. Crap--I was in the wrong car!

Mortified that I had entered a strangers car and tooted noxious gas in his presence, I frantically began spewing apologies. I am sure that I was nonsensical, and I wanted to run away and hide. After offering numerous explanations and profound apologies for farting in the wrong car, I did the only thing I could think of to do.  I swung open the door and ran towards my sanctuary of my black SUV.

I couldn't move fast enough to escape my humiliation. At this point, all I wanted to do was go home. I turned on the car, took a deep breath and prepared to put the entire incident behind me. I looked up and saw the kind gentleman walking up, carrying my grocery bags. In my haste I had left my groceries in his car!  So much for my chances of a graceful exit.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Racing and Winded

The previous times my doctor's have increased my medication, I have always felt better. Within a day of the change, I was feeling more energized. I was hoping that I would have a similar reaction to the latest increase. Unfortunately, the opposite occurred.

Instead of feeling fantastic, the new medication has caused me to feel agitated and awkward. My heart has racing, making it uncomfortable for me to try to rest and nearly impossible for me to walk without becoming winded. I hate huffing and puffing simply by walking up the stairs! I'm exhausted, but my rapid heartbeat makes it nearly impossible for me to calm enough to sleep.  In many ways this is reminiscent of the side effects of the adrenaline shots I was given when I was stung by the tracker jackers last spring. 

I immediately hopped onto my Hotspot Shield VPN and researched the medication to discover that my side effects were both expected and normal. Although I was certain that I wouldn't receive contrary information, I broke down yesterday evening and called my doctor to report the symptoms. I was assured that everything I was experiencing was "normal" and that everything should settle down within a few days. I certainly hope that the doctor is correct because at this point I'd rather deal with the elevated thyroid level!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Frustrated and Done

Yesterday morning my doctor called. I wasn't surprised by the call, and to be honest, I knew what she was going to say before I even answered. As predicted, my thyroid levels continue to be elevated and they were going to increase my medication (for the third time.)

My thyroid issues started several years ago with my becoming extremely ill. Numerous tests finally yielded an answer, and although I wasn't happy with the diagnosis, I have come to accept it. Despite the elevated levels, my thyroid gland is healthy. I was diagnosed with cluster tumors on my pituitary gland which cause increased secretions from my thyroid.

Between the time that I was diagnosed and the appointment with the "specialists" at the University of Pittsburgh, the cluster tumors went dormant. I was told that surgery was not recommended because they were not "ripe" and the risk of trying to remove them outweighed the benefits. Since I was not eager to undergo neurological surgery, I didn't complain and took the diagnosis as good news.

I have learned (through first hand experience) that cluster tumors often "ripen" during periods of great hormonal shifts, especially pregnancy. My numbers are surprisingly high considering the dosage of medication I had been taken. This, along with my history, leads the team to believe that the clusters are perfectly plump and ready to be removed.

Although I won't undergo the imaging tests until after the baby is born, I have been informed that I should expect surgery approximately 8 weeks after delivery. Surgery near my brain is not something that I want to experience; the timing makes it especially unappealing.

I was looking forward to bonding and cuddling with the new baby. Now I have to anticipate and plan for my surgical recovery instead of simply adjusting to being a Mom of two. I know I'll work my way through this, but at this moment I am both frustrated and angry. I know that it resolves nothing to admit, but sometimes I just want to shake my fist and scream "This isn't fair!"

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Check the Chart!

I took one look at Robby yesterday morning, and I knew that he was sick. My little koopa was pale, had deep purple circles and was moving at a turtle's pace. His fever confirmed my suspicions, and I tucked him back into bed for the day.

Typically my schedule is flexible enough to allow me to stay home on days when he is sick. As luck would have it, yesterday I had my own doctor's appointment. The thought of paying the cancellation fee ($50) and rescheduling (which would probably take 3 weeks at a minimum was enough motivation for me to seek out a plan B. I couldn't bring Robby with me, so I picked up the phone and called reinforcements.

It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. In my case, it just takes a very dedicated and loving neighbor. Mr. Bill immediately agreed to watch Robby so that I could make my appointment.

Although I was relieved to be able to keep my appointment, I was not looking forward to going. I enjoy hearing the baby's heartbeat, but everything else about the appointment I find uncomfortable. I am being seen by a rather large practice and it is encouraged that I see each of their 7 doctors at least once before I deliver. This means I get to become up close and personal with seven people instead of forming a relationship with just one.

Each visit starts out the same way. I am always surprised when I see the shock, immediately followed by shame and embarrassment because of the visceral reaction, on the doctor's face when she realizes that I am an amputee. I understand that seeing a black prosthesis in the stirrup might not be a common sight, but the fact that each one responds so strongly is simply an indication that they haven't even glanced at my chart before walking into the room!  Every appointment I am forced to recount the not-so-sexy tale of how I lost my leg. I wish I could make it spicier, but I wouldn't want to provide any false information to the individuals who will be delivering the baby. 

After providing an abbreviated version of my leg story, the new doctor proceeded with my exam. I hope that this doctor is not the one on call when I deliver. The fact that she stopped the exam to answer her cell phone, and proceeded to maintain a personal conversation with her friend while I was spread eagle and exposed was not a confidence booster. I typically would have said something, but since there is a possibility that she may be responsible for my comfort during the birth process, I didn't want to do anything to agitate her. The doctors can't seem to remember that I'm an amputee, but with my luck they would remember me if I were confrontational.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Christmas Yoda


It turns out that our Black Friday shopping extravaganza was not nearly as grand as we had anticipated. Looking through the circulars, it became clear that there was little that we actually needed. We still went out, partly to keep the tradition, but we didn't have to hustle between stores like we have in years past. Despite the less-than-stellar haul, Scott and I had a great time.

Saturday was spent helping my mom put up her outdoor Christmas decorations. She has scaled back her decorating over the years, but since my sister and her 3 little ones moved in, she has more motivation to bling out the house, inside and out. She's right, Christmas is a lot more fun when there are children in the house! With the garlands hung and the 8 foot inflatable Grinch properly tethered, we were impressed with our results. Unfortunately she is lacking a Christmas wreath because I threw hers out. I took it out of the box to discover that at least 1,000 stink bugs had assumed residence in its faux branches. There is nothing festive about those bugs!

Robby alternated between helping us outside and playing inside (where it was warm.) My sister decided to surprise her Star Wars loving sons and bought a lighted Christmas Yoda. Unlike his cousins, Robby has never shown an interest in Star Wars. He had to ask my sister to explain the strange green creature. Unaware that he had no knowledge base when it came to the franchise, she simply said, "It's Christmas Yoda" and did not elaborate. 

Later that afternoon, Robby pulled me to the side and told me that he had a question. I could tell by the look on his face that he was being serious. I leaned down, and he whispered in my ear.  "Momom, why is Christmas Yoda holding his privates outside of his dress? And did you know that his privates were green and really big?"  I figured that he must have misinterpreted something, so I went into the living room to take another look.

Looking at Christmas Yoda again, I immediately saw him through Robby's eyes. What Robby inferred to be Yoda's "privates" was actually the light saber. Having no experience with Star Wars, Robby was totally unaware of the fictional weapon. I'm sure that my nephews will love Christmas Yoda. I will always smile when I see the decoration, but not because he is festive. After Robby's observations, I am fairly confident that I will always see "Perverted Yoda" instead.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Shopping Battle

As predicted, yesterday was a wonderful mixture of excitement and chaos. I thoroughly enjoyed spending the afternoon with cousins (whom I don't get to see enough) and gorging on good food and amazing desserts.  By the time the sun set, I was exhausted but I knew that another task was looming.

Planning for our Black Friday attack has become a honed skill. Working together, Scott and I painstakingly evaluated the sale options and devised our list. Compared to other years, our list is short this year. We plan on hitting only four stores, and fully expect to be done by breakfast. (This is a good thing because I'll definitely need a nap today!)

Wish us luck as we battle the crowds in our quest for the ultimate deal. Hopefully we'll be done with all our shopping by 10:00.  I must admit, this is the one day a year I fully enjoy and utilize my disabled handicapped parking tag.  Happy shopping!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving!

I have come to the conclusion that Thanksgiving ranks among my favorite holidays. For me, Thanksgiving is all about family. We don't see each other often enough, but we remain close despite the distance. Every time we get together we end up laughing, eating and goofing around. Thanksgiving is special because it lacks the stress from shopping and gift exchanges that often accompany other holidays.

Thankfully my phantom sensations have shifted from painful to uncomfortable, allowing me to walk with more ease. I remain acutely aware of each step, but I am no longer limited by the pain. Hopefully my leg will continue to improve and I will be back to my normal self by tomorrow morning. After all, tomorrow is the biggest shopping day of the year and I need to make sure I bring my A game!

I'm beginning to suspect that my phantom sensations may stem from more than the weather. Although I try conceal the bump by wearing Scott's sweatshirts, I am now beginning to show. I theorize that my leg is beginning to swell (along with every other appendage), causing the tissue to become squished inside the socket. I hope that this is not the case, although I know that it is an inevitable result of being a pregnant amputee. I suppose I should begin laying the insurance groundwork to secure a new socket, but I am dreading the battle which will ensue. I resent that I have to fight my insurance adjustor to receive such basic prosthetic care.

Today is not about complaining, so I'll put off fretting about the socket until next week. This morning I'll be helping my Mom finish cooking and ready the house for company. I know that once everybody arrives, it will become chaotic and loud. I am going to try to enjoy these quiet moments before the clamor begins.

After the meal has been eaten,  I will end up in the living room, surrounded by my cousins as we carefully plan our respective Black Friday shopping tactics. I'll go "old school," using the newspaper ads to help plan my retail attack. Scott will use more high tech tactics. He'll fire up my laptop, log onto my Hotspot VPN and fortify my information with product reviews and online price comparisons. Together, we'll get the best deal possible. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for taking time out of your holiday to read my blog. I am thankful to everybody who has supported me and cheered me on over the years. I will be forever grateful for the authentic and genuine friendships which have been formed because of this blog, and I know that I am a better person for getting to know many of my readers.  I hope that everybody has a wonderful Thanksgiving. May your day be filled with love, laughter, good food and cupcakes!



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Phantom Pain... UGH

The weatherman predicted the storm accurately, and yesterday morning I was greeted with sleet and freezing rain. As feared, Robby's school had a delayed opening. My hours of cooking and baking were going to go unappreciated by his class, but my neighbors certainly made out like bandits as they happily received trays of mashed potatoes, corn, and rolls.

I wasn't surprised by the winter storm. In fact, I predicted its severity with more certainty without needing to watch a single weather report. My leg was doing the jitterbug kick all night keeping me awake with the electric shocks that always herald a huge weather event. By the time I finally rolled out of bed, the phantom pain was so severe that I had trouble donning my prosthesis. I knew I was in for a long day!

Robby's class did not enjoy the scheduled Thanksgiving Feast, but they did enjoy the turkey craft projects I purchased. The last thing I wanted to do was to spend the day on my feet and walking. All I wanted to do was take off my leg and try to will the pain away. But I made a promise, and I didn't want to let Robby or his classmates down.  Besides, my little guy was proud as a peacock when his teacher announced that I would be taking over the class for the day. My leg was killing me, but seeing his happiness made the pain seem minimal compared to the payoff I was receiving.  

We had a successful crafting and cupcake party. Although I do wish I had put more thought behind the finger painting activity. I'm fairly certain that I ended up wearing more paint than both the students and their turkeys! 

After the party, Robby and I headed up to my mom's. The drive was slow and made difficult by the slick roads and thick traffic. I was relieved to finally pull into her driveway, eager to finally relax and elevate my leg. Most of the times being an amputee is inconsequential in my daily life. Days when the phantom pain has decided to intervene, I really miss being bi-legged. 

Today I don't have any time for phantom pain, so I am hoping that it leaves. I'm going to be helping my Mom prep for Thanksgiving dinner and I don't want anything to interfere with our plans! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cooking Tornado

It is a good thing I rested over the weekend because yesterday was bustling. After I dropped Robby off at school, I headed straight to the grocery store. Armed with a list, I picked up the remaining supplies I needed to complete my culinary quest.

Although I'm going to be spending the holiday at my mom's, I spent yesterday prepping three Thanksgiving meals. My kitchen smelled insanely good, and it felt torturous that I wasn't going to be able to enjoy any of the food I was cooking. One meal was earmarked for Robby's class to consume during today's much anticipated Thanksgiving Feast . He graciously volunteered me for all food prep.  The other two meals are being delivered this afternoon to friends who are recovering from illnesses and are not able to cook. 

I spent the majority of the day on my feet, standing over the counter top and sink in my kitchen. By the time I pulled the final tray of cookies out of the oven, I was physically exhausted! Between the pregnancy, my thyroid issues and the recent bout with dehydration, my body is not accustomed to being in constant motion.  

After cooking all day, my kitchen looked like a disaster area. Butter wrappers stuck on the floor, egg shells on the counter tops and apparently potato bits flew from my mixer and stuck onto every wall. I never claimed to be a clean cook!

Before I knew it, it was time to pick up Robby from school. I briefly debated about whether or not I should change my clothes, but a look in the mirror confirmed the decision. I was covered with mashed potato and cookie dough splatter. I knew I could fix my attire, but I doubted I would be able to mask my exhaustion. I tried to conceal my limp as I hobbled into his classroom only to find myself berated with questions from his concerned classmates. Hoping to avoid a lengthy discussion, I blamed the pain on the impending weather and hurried Robby out of the room.

Of course, blaming the weather was not too far out of the realm of possibilities. Today we are expecting our first winter storm, coating the roads with ice and sleet during rush hour. There is a good possibility that Robby will not have school today, and that we will be schlepping all of the food up to my mom's for Thanksgiving. Even the best laid plans have to be flexible when Mother Nature is considered.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Rest and Hydration

This past weekend was not my best; I woke up Friday with an earache. By the time I picked up Robby from school, the dull pain in my ears had gravitated across my entire cranium. When I was finally finished with my evening student, my headache had turned into a full blown migraine. I was shaky, had chills and couldn't stop vomiting. I crawled into bed, surrendered Robby's care to Scott, and tried to escape the pain.

My sleep was fitful, but by the time I woke, my headache had subsided. Unfortunately I was experiencing cramping, a symptom I found quite worrisome. I broke down and called my doctor's office, fully expecting to be chastised for calling on a Saturday morning.

 I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised when the doctor finally called me back. She was kind and understanding. I can't say that she was terribly helpful, but at least she didn't make me feel dumb because I called. After recounting the past 24 hours, I was prescribed rest and hydration until the cramping stopped.

I spent the remainder of the weekend watching Christmas movies on the couch while drinking obscene amounts of water. Robby's friend, the neighbor down the street, came over to play each day, and the pair accepted the unspoken mission to keep me entertained. They performed Christmas songs, dance routines and little skits to keep me from becoming bored.

 By Sunday morning the cramping had subsided, allowing me to actually relax during my prescribed rest. I'm feeling much better now and, although I hesitate to admit it because I enjoyed the doting, I don't think I need to continue with the rest directive. I am going to pace myself, but there is a lot that needs to be done. After all, Thanksgiving is just a few days away!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Lost...

As soon as Scott got home on Wednesday, he changed his clothes and headed outside. Although we've tried to keep up with the leaves this year, the recent wind storms have brought on the foliage final assault. I knew that he wasn't looking forward to the chore, but we found some solace in the fact that this would be the last leaf removal for the season.

After working until dark, I finally heard the lawnmower pull into the garage. Scott came up the stairs a few minutes later.  My dirt averse husband was covered in dust, dirt and mulched leaves. We both agreed that he needed a shower before dinner.

I spent the evening reading with Robby, working on some paper work and tidying up the house. At about 7:30 Scott came into the living room, shaking and showing me his hand. It took me a few moments to register what he was showing me, but when I did, I understood his panic. Sometime during the day, he had lost his wedding ring.

With his quickly melting into a full-fledged meltdown, I tried to remain the voice of reason in the situation. I asked questions, trying to determine the last time he knew for sure that he was wearing the ring. He knew he had it at work because he was spinning it during a faculty meeting. I purposely ignored the fact that a cherished possession was relegated to a toy and opted instead to narrow down his activities starting with the faculty meeting.

I felt fairly confident that the ring was left at work and would be easily recovered in the morning. Scott was not as convinced, and began to frantically search the driveway and yard with the aid of a small flashlight. I went through his dirty clothes to make sure that it didn't slip off during his various wardrobe changes, and was happy when I realized that the shower drain had a protective covering  which would certainly keep the ring from washing away.  After searching for nearly two hours, we decided to delay our recovery efforts until he checked at work. 

When he called yesterday morning, I could tell by the tone of his voice that his ring was still missing. I offered Robby and Rowan (the little girl whom I watch each morning before school) $20 each if they found the ring. The speed with which they jumped off the couch and ran outside reminded me of the Roadrunner cartoon from when I was a child!  

Unfortunately my two little detectives were not successful in the ring hunt. After taking Rowan to the bus stop and dropping Robby off at school, I came home and searched the yard. I remain doubtful that the ring was lost while mowing because he was wearing gloves. The only time it could have been lost outside would have been if he took off the gloves to wipe or scratch his face. Assuming that he would only have done that when he stopped, I concentrated my search on the leaf dumping piles around the perimeter of our yard.  

I spent a total of three hours walking through the yard, searching with the metal detector. I discovered that using a metal detector while wearing a prosthesis is a tinge tricky. I had to make sure that the detector was always alternating from my prosthetic step. I dug through more leaf piles than I care to acknowledge before I realized that the detector was picking up my pylon and not the ring.  

I finally suspended the outdoor search, opting to retrace his steps inside. Despite crawling on the floor with a flashlight and searching every logical location, I never found the ring. I haven't given up on finding the ring, but I am at a loss as to where else we should look.

I'm hoping that the weather holds this weekend so that we can do another search of the yard. I'll keep looking around the house, but I'm no longer in frantic mode. Too many times missing items resurface as soon as we stop searching. I'm really hoping this is one of those times!