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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Resolution Simplified

This is the final day of 2014 and I must admit that I'm delighted to kiss this year goodbye. The year has held an inordinate amount of physical pain and emotional frustration, and I am happy to put it in the past. This calendar year did hold one outstanding highlight in Timmy's birth. I adore seeing his gummy smile each morning and watching him grow and learn. Timmy being healthy trumps all of the pain and anguish we encountered. 

While 2014 was a struggle, I am proud that we survived and emerged stronger and wiser.  I realized that true strength comes from admitting that I couldn't do it all alone and that I needed other people to pitch in and help.  Asking for assistance does not come easy for me, but I am getting better at reaching out when I am in need.  I am so grateful that I have a small army of family and friends willing to lend a hand. I know that everybody is not nearly as lucky, and I am thankful for the support in our lives.

Our little family has settled into a comfortable routine which keeps me both fulfilled and busy. I am fortunate to be able to do the lions share of my work at home, allowing us to keep Timmy out of daycare. When I do have to attend meetings or finish reports, I know that he is both safe and happy in the baby care room at Robby's school. I am juggling several jobs while trying to remain a stay-at-home Mom, but I know that the sleepless nights and stressful moments will pay off as Timmy and Robby grow. The memories that we are creating and the bond that is being forged will be worth every single not-so-easy-to-cover grey hair. 

Typically my New Year resolutions are fitness/ weight related. This year, instead of a smaller jean size, I am desperate to establish order and organization. My life is  busy and I am juggling so many tasks daily that I am finding that I need to try to simplify as much as possible.  From not being able to find my keys in the morning to frantically scouring the freezer for something to throw into the oven for dinner, these little life aggravations are wearing me out.

I know myself well enough to realize that trying to enact a sweeping lifestyle change is only setting me up for failure. Instead, today I am resolving to make two small changes. I am going to always put my car keys in the basket at the top of the stairs. I am also going to create a weekly menu so that I don't have to scramble to come up with something to serve for dinner. Hopefully I'll be successful with these baby steps, and I'll be able to add more changes next month.  Who knows, by this time next year I might be the most organized person on the block!





Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Educating the TSA- again

Driving to the airport on Sunday I tried to prepare myself for the chaos that was sure to ensue. I knew that we were entering the travel fray on one of the busiest days of the year, but like everybody else, I wanted to get home so that we could enjoy a few days before New Years. We were fully prepared to assume our positions as human sardines in the overcrowded terminal and plane. Although I wasn't looking forward to the next few hours, I was excited about going home.

Traveling without special needs would have been frustrating at best. Trying to navigate the airport (and especially security) with both a prosthesis and an infant on such a heavily traveled day was akin to Mission Impossible. After turning in the rental car, I took a deep breath and tried to prepare myself for the airport obstacles in my future.

It took us nearly ten minutes in line to unload our carry-on luggage onto the screening belt. Once all of the laptops, handheld electronic devices and baby formula had been removed and separated, I helped Scott fold the stroller and stuff it onto the belt. He took Timmy and Robby and walked through the screening area without a hitch. I knew that my prosthesis would trigger the alarm and prepared myself for the obligatory pat-down procedure.

After being separated from the line for additional screening, I was offered a seat and asked to remove my prosthesis. Oh boy, here we go again! When I politely refused, explaining that it was against their procedure to make such a request, a supervisor was called to speak with me. Again I was asked to remove my leg for screening. I reiterated my refusal, and she finally acquiesced after declaring that a "thorough" pat down would be necessary.

I declined the offer for a private screening and allowed the agent to feel my body in public. (I feel that it is important for my fellow travelers to see the procedures in action.) After copping more feels than I typically allowed on a third date, the agent declared me free to fly. As I was walking to meet my boys, the agent called me back so that she could screen the diaper bag.

Despite having already cleared the x-ray screening, the agent was insistent that the bag be hand
searched. Everything was taken out and strewn on the table. They held both of Timmy's full bottles of formula and indicated that liquids were not permitted through security.  (Thankfully Scott was able to capture Timmy's "Hey, that lady took my bottle" look.)

Again, I found myself in the position of educating the agents on their own procedures. Baby formula, breast milk and other dietary liquids are permitted through TSA security if they are declared. After another pow-wow, it was decided that the baby formula could fly as well.  It is a good thing I know the rules and regulations because, if I didn't, I would have had a hungry and cranky baby on my hands!

I don't mind being screened at the airport. I also understand that my prosthesis may require additional or different procedures. I resent having to educate the agents on their own procedures and protocols.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Bye Bye Holiday

This holiday season I was reminded about how much I despise traveling this time of year. Nothing can move me from jolly to bah humbug like having to pack up a suitcase and get on a plane. Even if I am only gone for two days, by the time I return home I find myself devoid of all Christmas spirit. 

We are finally home from visiting Scott's mother for a few days. I am now completely done with all things holiday related. I no longer want to look at the twinkle lights on the tree or the Christmas cookies on my counter. In all honesty, I found myself becoming frustrated when I saw homes adorned with holiday lights last night. I had to pause to remind myself that Christmas was only a few short days ago, even though right now it feels like a lifetime. I plan on spending the day purging my house of the holiday clutter while putting this season behind us. 

Please don't get me wrong--we had a wonderful Christmas holiday. Between our trips to Williamsburg and Pennsylvania, we have fully embraced the magic of the season.  I am completely out of magic and don't particularly want to invest the energy in mustering more. I am yearning for the normalcy of our pre-holiday routines. Right now, I just want Santa and all of his glitter laden friends to go back into their box under my stairs. 

Bring on 2015- I'm ready!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Buzz

Yesterday was wonderfully exhausting.  I was able to enjoy several cups of coffee before Scott and Robby woke up allowing me some quiet time with Timmy before the chaos ensued. At the time I was anxious for the festivities to begin. In retrospect I am glad that I was able to enjoy the calm before the unwrapping storm.

Robby and Timmy both loved their surprises from Santa. Timmy happily sat in his new wagon while his big brother unwrapped presents. I took him for a ride later in the morning and he giggled the entire time. Needless to say, I think I'm going to log hundreds of miles pulling the little red wagon through the neighborhood in the coming years.

Robby received an electric scooter from Santa this year. Although he was initially hesitant (he isn't much of a daredevil), he quickly learned how to ride. By the end of the day he was whizzing up and down the driveway like a pro.

I was excited to host Christmas dinner this year. Although it was only my Mom and sister (in addition to our little family), this was the first major holiday I have been allowed to host. I was nervous, but in the end it went well. I wanted to keep the menu simple but nice, so I served prime rib, baked potatoes and asparagus.

It wasn't until dinner was served that I learned that I had failed to reach the requisites for a "feast."  According to Robby, the absence of chicken downgraded our meal from feast to dinner. I did think quickly and pulled a bucket of left over fried chicken out of the fridge. My little Koopa seemed happy with the effort and reinstated "feast" status.

Although we didn't really do anything grand for the holiday, we were all exhausted by the time the sun set. I love holidays, but I feel like I need a vacation when they are over! Perhaps my Mom, in her infinite wisdom, was able to foresee my need to escape. She surprised me with a portable hot tub for Christmas! Since I can't seem to get to a spa, she brought the spa to me.  I can't wait to set it up and take it for a test soak.











Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!! 

I am writing this as Timmy and I eagerly await his big brother and Daddy, who are still fast asleep.  The Christmas tree looks beautiful with the lights reflecting off the gift wrap of the presents. I think everybody is going to be delighted with Santa's surprises- if they would only wake up!

I'll post photos after everything is unwrapped and the excitement settles down.  I just wanted to pop onto my blog this morning to wish everybody a wonderful Christmas. Thank you for following my journey through this wonderful and difficult year. May today bring nothing but happiness and joy. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Preparations Can Wait


Yesterday was rough. Timmy was on his third day of not feeling well, demanding near constant cuddling and holding. I can't blame him because I know that cradled in my arms was the only comfortable breathing position he could find. I enjoyed holding and loving on him, but after hours of sitting and holding him in the rocker, I began to fret about my looming (and unattended) holiday to-do list.

Halfway through the third sappy Hallmark movie, I decided to embrace the chaos. My Mom and my sister are the only ones visiting for Christmas dinner. They are both well aware of my housekeeping priorities, so I didn't really need to spend an afternoon stashing the clutter to feign some sort of Martha Stewart lifestyle. Please don't get me wrong; my house is not dirty; It is just full. 

I fully intended to purge at least one bag of trash a day, but to be completely honest, the movement never took off. I became distracted and busy with family and work. I consoled myself after missing the first day by vowing to clean out two bags the next day. The promises have snowballed, and now I must be 20 bags in arrears. So much for good intentions!

I will start back with my cleaning resolution in the New Year. In the meantime, I am going to spend Christmas Eve baking cookies and playing with my kids. The clutter can wait because, in this moment, I would rather focus on getting ready for Santa's visit tonight!

On a side note, Robby has been invited to participate in a HuffPostLive Chat today at 1:30. He will be posing questions, on behalf of all children, to Christmas "experts." If you want to watch him (either live or archived) the webchat can be found here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sick Christmas

Well, it looks like little Timmy might be spending his first Christmas sick. He has developed a respiratory infection. His big gummy smile has been absent, replaced by labored breathing and episodes of croup at night. 

We have been pulling all of tips we've ever been offered when helping a child deal with respiratory issues. His room is thoroughly humidified. In fact, the air was so dense it assumed a jungle-like feel. Of course, the "sounds of the rainforest" playing on his noise machine did contribute to the ambiance! 

Worried about his breathing, I opted to sleep next to his crib. Well, didn't exactly sleep because his little baby snores and coughs kept me awake. Although rest was elusive, I did emerge from his room this morning with my pores thoroughly steamed open. (Hey, I'll take the positives where I can get them at this point.)

I already have a call in to his doctor. I am hoping that she can see him today, and that there is something that can be prescribed to help my little guy. All other holiday festivities are on hold. Right now, I just want him to be healthy and happy for Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Jolly Week

Merry Christmas week!

To say that our home is buzzing with anticipation and excitement would be an understatement. Robby is positively giddy with the prospect of Santa's big visit.  Timmy, although he has no idea what is about to happen, is following his big brother's lead and giggly and happy. 

This past weekend we continued with our holiday celebrations by Skyping with Santa Claus and driving through an incredibly detailed (and bright) light display. We assembled our Gingerbread House and train, and even found the time to bake a few dozen cookies.

I know that Robby's believing years are dwindling, so I am trying to absorb as much of his innocence as possible. I have a hunch that he was on the fence about Santa, but our visit to Christmastown sealed his belief for one more year. I am going to be sad when he realizes the myth, but at least I have another few years of creating magic with Timmy!  (And, as a bonus, he is young enough this year to not complain that I am dressing him in costumes.)




Friday, December 19, 2014

Favorite Things

Little Timmy is smack dab in the middle of my favorite stage of babyhood. He can sit independently and entertain himself for minutes on end allowing me time to go to the bathroom or get another cup of coffee without a companion. I know that when I put him in the center of the floor, he will still be there when I come back. 

I absolutely adore this stage, but I know that it is fleeting. Timmy is eager to start crawling; he is only lacking the coordination to move. It won't be long before he figures it out, and with this discovery everything changes. 

We are woefully unprepared for baby mobility! I have banned Robby from teaching Timmy how to crawl hoping to stave off the skill as long as possible. It is only a matter of time before Timmy happens upon the method, and then there will be no stopping him. I had planned on digging out the baby gates over Scott's Christmas break, but the glint in Timmy's eyes has motivated me to move up my timeline. This weekend will be spent baby-proofing the house which I suspect will not be an easy task. 

In the next few weeks everything is about to change. Timmy will be moving around and getting into everything within reach. I'm fairly confident I won't have to renew my gym membership because just keeping up with him will be a work-out. He has a look of mischief about him, and judging from the way he hops, I suspect he is a daredevil as well. This little baby is going to keep me on my toes!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Stupid Puffs

Yesterday afternoon was nothing short of magical. Timmy and I listened and danced to Christmas carols all day while baking cookies. (Okay, I did most of the dancing but since he was strapped to my chest, I will count him as a participant.) By the time Scott and Robby came home, the house was filled with delicious aromas and an abundance of holiday cheer.

Sitting around the dining room table eating dinner, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. Robby was happily munching on and praising the roasted chicken. Between bites, Scott was talking about plans for the holiday, and Timmy was in his high chair, playing with some Gerber puffs.

Instantly my tranquil moment shattered. Timmy began to cough, and within seconds he was gasping for air. He was drooling prolifically, and suddenly his coloring changed. He turned pink, then red, and then purple. He looked like a little plum! The revelation that he was choking was one of the scariest moments of my life.

Without thinking I scooped him out of his high chair, put his back against my chest and pushed upward on his stomach. At first nothing happened, so I did it again. I have never been so relieved to hear him cough! After a few more gasps for air and coughing, the remnants of a Gerber puff was deposited on my shoulder. 

He choked on the food product geared towards a child of both his age and development. The puff canister clearly states that the treat dissolves on contact with the tongue, and are perfect for babies who are new eaters and independent sitters. The stupid puff didn't dissolve, and the results could have been catastrophic.

Timmy had a rough evening after the puff was dislodged. At first he was incredibly lethargic to the point where he couldn't keep his eyes open. Then the vomiting began, forcing him to expel everything that had been in his little tummy. After the vomiting subsided and his hiccups quieted, he returned to being my happy little boy. (Incidentally it was Robby who garnered the first big gummy smile after the incident.)

My mind has been spinning since the incident. Scott and I are both blaming ourselves for providing him with the puffs. Although logically we know that we did nothing wrong (after all, Timmy met all of the criteria for the food), I suppose parents always feel guilty. In addition to the guilt, I have not been able to shake the earth-shattering sense of terror I felt as I watched him struggle to breath. The outcome could have been so different and that has me paralyzed with fear. 

I love my boys so much and will always try to keep them safe. Yesterday was an unwelcome reminder that life can change in an instant.  I am sure much of today will be spent watching Timmy like a hawk and contacting the Gerber company about their non-dissolving puffs!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Piano Man

Last week I received the program for Robby's Holiday Concert at school. I was shocked to read that he was slated to perform a piano recital during the festivities. I asked him why he didn't tell me, and he simply shrugged and said it was no big deal. A few minutes later he came back into the room and asked, "What, exactly is a piano recital anyway?"

I have no idea what he perceived he would be doing, but it certainly wasn't close to a recital. His ignorance about the term was definitely working for him. He was cool as a cucumber until he learned exactly what he would be doing. Needless to say, he quickly realized that playing alone in front of an audience was, indeed, a big deal.

Yesterday morning he was almost as nervous as me. Although he enjoys playing the piano and taking lessons, he is less than diligent about practicing daily. I am lucky if we hear him play a few times a week. Probably tired of hearing me hound him to practice,  three weeks ago he told me that he has no aspirations of becoming a "piano man." Instead, he explained his rationale for wanting to learn the instrument. "You see Momom, someday when I'm grown up and at a bar, I will be able to play the piano. Girls like guys that know how to play the piano."

Yikes! I was not ready for the conversation. I could have revealed that girls are only likely to be impressed if he could play something more than Row Row Row Your Boat and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but I didn't want to burst his bubble. What can I say, at least he was honest about his intentions behind learning.

So yesterday morning my little boy, who sporadically practices and only wants to learn because he wants to woo women, timidly sat behind the keyboard and played for the student body and their guests. His playing was methodical and deliberate, carefully making sure to accurately press the correct keys. He did a wonderful job! 

He may not aspire to be a professional musician, but I think my little lady's man is well on the road towards achieving his goal. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lights

In spite of the infant travel snafus, we had a wonderful time in Williamsburg, VA. Robby and his Daddy had a blast on the rides and, although Timmy was squirmy, I did enjoy the time spent strolling with my littlest guy. When he was awake, he loved looking at the people and taking in the sights.  After having dinner with Santa (solidifying Robby's belief for at least one more year), we knew it was time to head back to the hotel.  Timmy was fast asleep in his stroller, the temperature was starting to drop, and the crowds were increasing. On our way out of the park, we answered Robby's pleas and agreed to "just one more ride."

I'm so glad that we decided to stay. Seeing the long and meandering line for the sky ride, Robby asked that I accompany him on his final ride. Although I would like to think he wanted to spend time with me, in my heart I know he wanted to jump the line with my disability access band. Taking my hand, he led me up the exit so that we could avoid the wait.  Scott (and sleeping Timmy) sat next to a large snowman and waited for us to return.

Robby may have only wanted me on the ride because of my fast-pass access, but I am not going to complain. It turns out that we were able to forge a memory that I will always cherish. Thinking about those few minutes spent together in the sky ride still brings me to tears. (Of course, I'm also menopausal so that may be partially to blame.)

Drifting over the park we were able to fully absorb the illuminated beauty below. It is difficult to fathom four million lights, but seeing them from above certainly put the enormity into perspective. About three minutes into the ride Robby scooted closer to me and clasped my arm. I looked at my little Koopa and saw that tears were streaming down his pink cheeks.

"Momom, this is the most beautifullest thing I've ever seen. I mean look around, it is all so pretty. I think we are seeing what the streets of heaven must look like."

Wow! How do I respond to that? I decided to simply agree that it was indeed beautiful and soak up the precious moment with my son.

As the ride continued Robby oohed and ahhed over the lights below. About halfway through the ride he blurted out, "I am sad now. You know I'm a sensitive little Koopa." When I asked him why he was sad, he continued to explain. "Momom, next year I will be nine years old. And then I'll be ten. Before you know it, I'll be grown up and in college. I don't want to grow up. I want to stay your kid forever. I love you so much and I don't want to leave. That's why I'm sad  because I will never ever see this again when I am eight years old."

So, in addition to the appreciation of Christmas lights, I discovered that Robby also inherited my aversion to change. I promised him that he would be a kid for as long as he needed, and that he shouldn't worry. I think he must have believed me because he returned his attention to providing commentary on the lights below. 

Needless to say, by the time we disembarked from the ride we both had tear stained cheeks.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hotel With a Baby

Friday afternoon our little family packed up and embarked on a much-anticipated Christmas adventure. We went to Williamsburg, VA, for a fun-filled weekend of holiday themed activities. This trip was special because it was the first time that Timmy has traveled on vacation with us. Needless to say, he required his own suitcase to accommodate all of his baby gear!

Reflection can be frustrating! Looking back, perhaps spending two nights away from home, in a hotel, with a seven month old-- was not our best decision. My visions of being relaxed and happily taking in the Christmas lights were replaced by pre-dawn walks through the hotel lobby with a cantankerous baby. 

Little Timmy had a difficult time adjusting to a new crib, and he was quite vocal about his displeasure. He struggled to fall asleep, and when he did wake up, he was not able to self-soothe back to a comfortable slumber. Instead he was wide awake and quite displeased not to be in his familiar environment.  Each morning while Scott and Robby were sleeping, Timmy and I took refuge in the hotel lobby. I was so quick to remove Timmy from the room that I didn't take the time to change out of my pajamas. I'm sure that I was quite a sight in my pink snowman two-piece fleece pajamas sitting in the lobby while trying to drink enough coffee to make me feel alive. I was quite a surprise for the few people who happened to walk by us.

Despite the obstacles of traveling with an infant, everybody managed to have a good time. Okay, in all fairness Scott and Robby had the most fun as I was relegated to baby soother. The pair rode all the rides at Busch Gardens Christmastown while I strolled and walked with Timmy. I love my little baby, but he was certainly high maintenance!  (I did get to go on one special ride with Robby, which I will detail tomorrow.)

I shunned the naysayers who warned that Timmy was too young for hotel travel because I was confident that he would love looking at all of the lights at Christmastown. After all, the advertisements for the park touted four million lights decorating the grounds. Timmy's reaction to our Christmas tree only solidified my insistence that he join us on this adventure. 
 
Timmy probably would have thoroughly enjoyed the lighted spectacle. Unfortunately in a cruel sense of irony, Timmy had fallen fast asleep by the time the sun set and the lights were illuminated. After a day of fussing, he missed the illuminated wonderland.


Of course, he woke up as soon as we pulled into the hotel parking lot.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Lucky Pain

After six months, I am finally sporting a permanent socket. I had forgotten how comfortable carbon fiber is compared to the plastic check sockets I've been wearing. My limb slides easier when donning, and the smooth outside allows my pants to flow naturally without becoming snagged.

While I am celebrating the fact that I am again in a permanent leg, the adjustment is causing the predictable phantom pain issues. It doesn't seem to matter if a socket is cast out of the same mold; anytime I wear something new, I experience a brief "break in" period. I don't feel any discomfort while wearing the device, but the first few nights after getting a new leg are always ouchy.

Of course, the weather is probably not helping my phantom pain. The temperature is fluctuating wildly causing just about every joint in my body (and a few that are missing) to hurt. I've come to the conclusion that I despise growing old!

Since lamenting isn't going to help, I've dug my phantom pain remedies out of my bag of tricks. The massage pillow has been going at full blast, gently rubbing the soreness out of my non-existent ankle joint.  My leg is snug and warm around the heating pad. In addition to providing comfort, the warmth seems to minimize the feeling of my big toenail being twisted and pulled. And when all else fails, the Tylenol PM makes me so groggy that I no longer care about the discomfort. 

I know that in a day or two I will be fully adjusted to the new socket, and I can stow my phantom pain relief kit. I am so lucky that my issues with phantom pain are minor and fleeting as so many of my friends suffer with debilitating phantom pain. Far too often I take my limb health and mobility for granted. Moments like this, when I am feeling discomfort, I am trying to count my blessings. My pain can be relieved with a few simple tricks, and for that I am very lucky.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cutting Party

Yesterday morning was busy. I had a meeting scheduled for 10, so I needed to take Timmy to school as well. No matter how many times I tell myself that it is okay to leave him, I always feel guilty! My morning was made twice as chaotic as I tried to get both Robby and Timmy ready for the day.

Despite my efforts, we were running late. I pride myself on my punctuality, so being late for an appointment causes me a great deal of anxiety. On the plus side, I didn't have a lot of time to lament leaving Timmy because I was in such a rush.  After dropping Robby and Timmy at school, I hopped into rush hour traffic hoping to make my meeting on time.  Thankfully the traffic was flowing more quickly than usual, and I actually arrived 10 minutes early!

My meeting went well, and I soon found myself rushing again. Only this time I was hurrying to get to the school to pick up Timmy. While logically I knew that he was fine, seeing him sitting on his teacher's lap sporting a big old gummy grin eased all of my anxieties. I am so lucky that he is loved and cherished by the school staff. Witnessing the care that he receives when he is not with me makes leaving him easier.

Timmy must have had a good time, because he was sound asleep by the time we arrived home. I carefully carried him inside and transferred him to his crib, excited that I might have a few moments of solitude to decompress.  I had no sooner poured a cup of coffee that I received a phone call from Mr. Bill.  I immediately sensed that something was wrong because I knew that he was outside chopping wood. It isn't like him to take a break from work unless he needed something.

Unfortunately, my intuition was correct. With a shaky voice and a calm demeanor, he explained that he had fallen and needed assistance. He didn't think anything was broken, but he felt unstable. I grabbed my phone and took off running to his house.

Thankfully Mr. Bill is okay! He tripped over some branches while trying to clean up his yard, causing him to fall. His finger became lodged on the trigger of his chainsaw when he fell. The blade disengaged, but his finger is broken. All things considered, he is extremely lucky. The results of this tumble could have been catastrophic.

I worry so much about Mr. Bill. He is 76 years old and, although he is still fairly spry, he isn't as limber as he would like to believe. I have seen a decline in both his balance and strength during the past few years. The electric company cut down two large trees, one oak and one poplar.  They felled the trees in his yard, cut the trunks into 8 foot segments and left. Per policy, the homeowner is responsible for the rest of the clean-up.

Mr. Bill is fanatical about his yard. His pristine landscaping is the result of hours of toiling through the year. I knew that having the branches, debris and trunk lying throughout his backyard was going to drive him crazy. I also worried that the task of cleaning up might be too big for him. I'm afraid I was correct on both accounts.

Robby is excited to help his friend, but I fear this task is beyond the skills of an eight year old. I think it is time to organize a neighborhood tree clean-up party! He has done so much for everybody on our little street. I'm excited about the opportunity to finally give back to him.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Medicine Mishap

Yesterday morning I woke up with a slightly stuffy nose. Although I felt well, I worried that a cold might be making the first whispers of an introduction. Determined that I wasn't sick because we have too much holiday fun on tap for the coming days, I pushed the sniffles out of my thoughts and moved forward with my day.

By mid-afternoon, ignoring my congestion was no longer an option. What had begun as  slight annoyance, had slowly morphed into a full blown sinus headache as the day progressed.  I rummaged through my bathroom cabinets until I found the familiar little Sudafed pills.  I pushed two through the foil backing and popped them with a swig of coffee.

I continued working for a few minutes until a sense of foreboding began to envelop me. I went to the bathroom and looked at the box of Sudafed.  Unfortunately, it didn't say Sudafed; it said "Gentle Laxative for Women."

D'oh! How could I make such a stupid mistake. I quickly realized that there was no use beating myself up for taking the wrong medication.  According to the box, I would reap my own personal punishment in 12-16 hours.

Needless to say, it was a long night. Always trying to look on the positive side, I did have a plethora of "alone time" to page through the magazines I still hadn't gotten around to throwing away.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Penguin Plunge

Robby has always had a soft spot for animals. So often I've found him sobbing on the couch after viewing the heartbreaking Humane Society commercials that he now knows that he has to turn the channel when the plea begins. Most kids beg for candy or ice cream at the grocery store. My little guy begs to buy cat food so that he can put it in the donation box at the front of the store. He smiles for hours after he gives the homeless kitties a bag of food or treats. 

When I was driving home from my Mom's this weekend, I saw a billboard advertising the "Penguin Plunge." I was intrigued, especially when I saw that the proceeds benefited the Harrisburg Area Humane Society. That particular Humane Society will always have a special place in my heart because it is where I adopted my little Sophie. After 14 years of devoted companionship, I had to put her down in June. I still feel bangs of grief when I think about her, and I miss her dearly.

Robby also saw the billboard for the Penguin Plunge, and began to pepper me with questions I couldn't answer. I promised that we could go to the website to learn more. To be honest I assumed he would forget after the excitement of getting a Christmas tree and the two hour drive home. I was wrong, and after the tree was in the stand ,he brought me my computer and asked me to look up the event.

He was delighted to learn that he could participate. Somehow the idea of running into the river water on New Year's Day is appealing to him; obviously, my idea of fun differs from that of an eight year old boy! After a lengthy discussion warning  him of the responsibilities of accepting a fundraising challenge and the importance of following up on his promise to take the plunge, he remained undeterred.

"Momom, it will help homeless cats and dogs. I can be cold for a few minutes if that means that they eat." Listening to that logic, I knew I had to allow him to sign up for the event. 

Robby is officially signed up for the Penguin Plunge.  While sitting on the river bank at the beginning of January, rain, snow or sleet, isn't my ideal way to kick off the New Year, I will happily oblige. He has set a lofty goal of $250, but he is determined to meet it. I am so proud of his efforts. If you are inclined, please visit his fundraising page and help my little Koopa help the kitties.


Monday, December 08, 2014

Magical Tree

My Dad flies in from Texas every December to see his grandkids, and buying us our family Christmas tree has become his tradition.  All of the cousins stayed in a hotel Friday night, which in and of itself is an exciting event for everybody.  All of the kids had a blast Friday night exploring the hotel. They were especially tickled when they stumbled upon the free hot chocolate machine in the lobby!

Saturday afternoon it was cold and pouring down rain.  Not exactly the perfect day to buy a Christmas tree, but promises were made so we were undeterred. The adults did decide to modify the tradition a tinge given the weather.  Instead of schlepping into a muddy field, trying to contend with umbrellas as well as saws, we decided to visit a Christmas tree lot owned by a friend from high school. 

Robby and I picked a "ginormous" tree this year. Our 12 footer almost touches the peak of our vaulted ceiling and is absolutely stunning. Although it was difficult saying goodbye to my Dad, I was excited to drive home and set our treasure up in the living room.  (I tried to warn Scott that we needed a lot of room for the tree, but I don't think he adequately heeded my warning. He was shocked by the sheer mass of our tree.)

While Timmy was busy playing on the floor, I began working on the lights. With Scott on one side and me on the other, we managed to wrap all of the lights around our coniferous giant in under an hour.  We used every strand of lights we own and, after the tree was fully illuminated, he finally agreed to run to Lowes to pick up  another strand (or two) to fill in some dimmer areas. 

I stayed home with Timmy to fix dinner while he and Robby ran out to secure more lights.  The pair came home with a large wheel off 500 colorful LED lights. After nearly 15 years together, he has learned that I like my trees bright and colorful!  After we ate I finished stringing the lights on the tree and called everybody together for the big reveal.  Robby and Scott ooed and ahhed appropriately. Timmy was unimpressed by the large lit tree in front of him, instead occupying himself by trying to touch Charlie Cat's tail. 

Rocking Timmy to sleep in the living room that night with the Christmas tree shining happily in the corner, I felt content. Timmy must have felt the same because his sleepy eyes were heavy when I walked past the tree to take him to his bedroom. All of a sudden he squealed and began to giggle. Despite being lit all evening, he had just then noticed the sparkling Christmas tree!

Timmy quickly worked himself into an excited frenzy over the Christmas tree. Every time I carried him away from the tree he would crane his neck to keep it in view. I abandoned all hopes of putting him to bed, instead opting to put him in front of the tree so that he would giggle and smile. I really wish I had my camera close to capture his reaction. The pure delight was absolutely precious!

My little baby spent the next hour gazing at the tree in amazement. I don't know why he didn't notice it before, but perhaps his "discovering" it on his own added to his excitement. He ended up going to bed later than we anticipated because we couldn't pull him away from his tree. In fact, the only way we could finally calm him down was to unplug the lights. I felt bad about taking away the object of his fascination, but I knew it was the only way he would go to sleep.

I have a feeling that the next few Christmases will be magical again as Timmy discovers all of the illuminated and glittery wonders of the holiday season!


Friday, December 05, 2014

A Slight Detour

Last weekend I promised Robby and my niece Tiffany that I would take them to New York City this Friday (today) to see the tree at Rockefeller Center. They were so excited all week, grinning ear to ear and utilizing their very best behavior for fear of having the trip yanked away. We never anticipated that it would be the misbehavior of others that would thwart our Big Apple adventure.

Upon reflection, and after discussing the situation with family and friends, we decided that today is not the appropriate time to schlep some wide-eyed youngsters into the city. The protests, although peaceful at the moment, could change tone without notice. I really don't want to put my son and niece in their path should it become destructive. Although I knew that they would be disappointed, my need to keep them safe superseded their pleas.

I know that they felt deflated because I felt just as disappointed that our great adventure was postponed. I had wonderful visions of peeking into the store windows, running through the revolving doors like Buddy the Elf, and watching the cousins ice skate in a quintessential holiday moment. The fact that my vision had been marred by protests was starting to drain my festive spirit. 

I decided to try to salvage the weekend and quickly began to brainstorm other options. A quick internet search led me to the perfect Plan B. Today we're heading to the Baltimore Aquarium where they happen to be kicking off their Christmas season. We'll see the aquatic life (Robby tends to run past the fish in his zeal to get to the turtle tanks) and participate in a few animal encounters. That is certainly enough to satisfy my little animal lover. 

But of course I have more surprises up my sleeve. Right before lunch, we will see an IMAX presentation of the Polar Express (I'm assuming a modified version of the movie since it is only 45 minutes) which, according to the internet, will end by elves passing out cookies and hot chocolate to the audience members. We will then be ushered out of the auditorium into Santa's lounge where we will enjoy more cookies and time alone with the Jolly one.  I know that the kids will be absolutely over-the-moon with this surprise.

After our allotted 25 minutes with Santa expires, I'm going to treat the pair to lunch at the Cheesecake Factory (Robby's very favorite restaurant).  I read that a pop-up holiday market has been set up along the water which I think they will enjoy exploring. According to the website, many of the stores have elaborate window displays for the holidays.

I realize that it is Baltimore and not New York City, but I think that the cousins will have a great time.  My goal was to create a wonderfully festive and fun experience. Hopefully this will fit the bill!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Cold

Little Timmy is fighting his first cold, and it is safe to say that he is not handling the blow gracefully. Despite trying every Mom trick I could muster, yesterday I could do nothing to soothe my little guy. He was cranky from the moment he woke up until he finally fell asleep (after screaming in my arms for an hour.)

I feel horrible for not being able to adequately comfort my baby. I also feel guilty for becoming annoyed with his grumpy demeanor. Logically I know that he is only seven months old, but I swear at times it felt like he was deliberately being difficult. 

I spent much of yesterday holding him, walking with him and rocking him. He spent the majority of his day wiping his nose into my shoulder, spitting his food all over me, and screaming in my ear while pulling my hair.  The exchanges were most definitely unbalanced. Of course, there is no such thing as reciprocity when it comes to parenthood.

By the time Scott came home from work I was beyond frazzled. Unfortunately Timmy didn't want his Daddy, voicing his displeasure of being handed over by screaming with more gusto. He might have been feeling yucky, but his cold certainly did nothing to impair his volume output. For a little baby he can certainly be loud!

Perhaps sensing the neediness of his baby brother and not wanting to be overshadowed, Robby was extremely high maintenance last night. I love my little Koopa dearly, but he definitely tested my patience. He wasn't ill-behaved, he just required constant attention. I found myself hiding in the bathroom just so I could have a moment without a snotty nosed screaming baby and a chatty, seemingly nonsensical eight year old.  I'm definitely not getting mother of the year for yesterday's maternal showing!

I'm hoping that today is a better day and that my little guy is feeling better. I miss his gummy little smiles and squeals of happiness. I'm tired of being used as a giant kleenex and punching bag. I am fairly certain I am suffering the most with his cold.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Flash Mob!

Yesterday turned out to be one of those days I will never forget. The weather was abysmal, dreary with the moist cold that cuts through clothing and attacks the bones. Typically I would curl up in front of the wood stove and work all afternoon, but I had plans with my little Koopa. We were going to the Air and Space Museum.

A few days ago I received an email announcing a holiday flash mob at the museum. Witnessing a flash mob has been on my bucket list since I discovered the concept on YouTube several years ago. I vowed that, should the opportunity ever arise, I would jump on board.  I was initially a little hesitant about Robby missing school, but since the performance was scheduled at the museum, I took it as a sign from the cosmos that we should definitely attend. After all, museums are educational, right? 

Monday afternoon Robby revealed his plans to his friends who immediately asked if they could go. What was going to be a small little family excursion turned into an impromptu field trip. After clearing the trip through their parents and the school, we were all set for our big adventure. Needless to say, everybody was all smiles Tuesday morning.

I had forgotten how much Robby loves the Air and Space museum. He seemed to remember everything he learned from our previous visit, excitedly offering the tour to his friends. (It's strange, he can remember types of planes and engines, yet always seems to forget to put his socks and dirty underwear in the hamper.) 

While Robby was explaining the "Nazi planes" to his friends, I started to chat with some Air Force wives casually standing nearby. After a few minutes of mild chit chat they let me know the best places to stand to view the performance. On their cue I ushered the boys to our prime location and waited for the performance to start.

Wow! It was simply amazing. I got chills watching them perform and tears started to stream down my cheeks towards the end of the performance. It was absolutely beautiful. Robby and his friends seemed just as impressed, yet not nearly as emotionally moved as I. Timmy even enjoyed the show, saving his crying for the drive home.

I am so glad that I pulled Robby from class for this experience. He was able to visit the museum and witness something that few people ever experience. (And so did I!) I understand that the Air Force Band will be producing their own video, but here was my view of the action.  Timmy enjoyed the performance, you can hear him cooing along with the bells at the beginning of the show.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

25 Trash Bags of Christmas


Saturday afternoon I arrived back home in VA, driving an SUV stuffed with shopping bags.  Scott and I had a great time with our traditional Black Friday shopping spree. One might think we enjoyed it a little too much when looking at the sheer mass of our loot. (In our defense, the packaging for baby toys is considerably larger than the plastic or plush trinket inside!) Schlepping everything inside the house, it became abundantly clear: we have too much stuff.

Surveying the tables, counter tops and book shelves in my living room and kitchen quickly revealed the issue.  While we are not outlandish consumers, we do tend hold onto things far past their prime. We certainly aren't hoarders, but neither Scott nor I (and now Robby) are particularly good at purging "collections."

Our kitchen counter tops, spacious and beautiful, are concealed beneath the mountains of papers. Most are paper copies of bills we pay and receive electronically. We have another three stacks of catalogs, carefully separated into piles determined by my enjoyment of the publication. I don't know why I save them. Despite my intentions of running a hot bath, pouring a mug of hot chocolate to sip while leisurely paging through them during a long hot soak, I know it will never happen.  I'm lucky if I can rummage through one or two in the bathroom. 

The desks in our dining room have been converted into a real life Jenga board with items teetering on the brink of collapse. Expired snack sized bags of Cheetos that were never eaten because I no sooner found them in bulk, that Robby declared himself to be more of a "Pringles" man are scattered helter-skelter. I have several half used cans of powdered baby formula in assorted brands and sizes that cannot be donated because they have been opened. I have held onto them in case we need to switch brands again. 

And the art supplies--don't even get me started!  I have shoe boxes full of unwrapped and broken crayons, kept because someday we might melt them into molds. Scraps of paper holding Robby's doodles (primarily happy faces) are everywhere. Markers without lids, lids without markers, and old glue sticks have filled at least four mason jars.  (There are probably more jars but I haven't yet attacked the pile of construction paper in the corner. 

We bought new towels on Black Friday because the last time I acquired new towels was when I graduated from high school in 1992. I tried to put them away in our linen closet to be met by an avalanche of linens. Pushing my shoulder against the door to keep it from opening because of the force of the pile, I realized we needed to change. Christmas is right around the corner which is going to add to the clutter.

I have decided that every day from now until Christmas, I will throw out at least one bag of trash or donate a bagful to charity. Slowly we'll make a dent in our clutter. I'm hoping that, in this case, slow and steady will clean the house! 

Monday, December 01, 2014

Addiction

Today is my brother's birthday and this morning I find myself missing him dearly. He is celebrating his birthday in Texas where he is in the midst of a personal war with addiction. Although I haven't seen him years, we used to be close. I have scores of precious childhood memories shared with him. Then addictive substances entered into his life, and the brother that I knew growing up vanished, leaving a monster in his wake.

I  haven't written about my brother in the past, telling myself that it was out of a quest to reserve his privacy. It is only recently that I realized that my silence was stemmed in shame. He should have known better; he should have been stronger; we should have intervened sooner.  In some situations, hindsight only increases the pain. Letting go and letting him battle his demons has changed everybody in our family.

I have come to accept that I need to let him fight his battle and hope that someday he will return to my life. I will always keep my arms open but my heart guarded. The pain of watching him slip into relapse is torturous. I will never give up hope because in this situation, that is really my only option.

I turned 40 and realized that I no longer have a need to hide behind social conventions. So many are living through similar battles in our families, yet we are mute on the issue. In my situation the silence stemmed from embarrassment. I'm not embarrassed by my brother. I have seen him journey through hell as he fought to become and remain sober.  I realized that the embarrassment rose from the desire to convey a mythical vision of family life.

Our family is not perfect. We are a group of flawed individuals who are trying to muddle our way through life.  We are most certainly not the Cunningham's (from Happy Days, my standard of familial perfection as a child.) I'm tired of trying to conceal our dysfunction. Hiding in shame and embarrassment is only perpetuating the isolation that those who love an addict suffer. 

My brother is fighting addiction, and I still I love him dearly. Sometimes I am so angry at him I want to pull my hair out. At other times my heart breaks when I reflect on the potential that is lost.  Through all the tears shed and sleepless nights, I will always hope that this time he will find his way to recovery. I doubt he'll have a birthday cake this year, so I'll make his birthday wish on his behalf. May this year be the one in which he recovers. 



Friday, November 28, 2014

Shopping!

My goodness yesterday was busy. It felt like I was in constant motion from the moment I woke up until I finally fell into bed at night. It's a good thing that my leg has fully recovered, allowing me to be mobile and help my Mom host everybody for Thanksgiving!

Scott and I began the day with an early morning trip to Kmart. We made the trip despite the fact that we didn't really need anything, mainly because it is tradition. Being alone is a rare luxury, and we decided to take full advantage of the opportunity by going out for breakfast. I think the last time we had breakfast without kids was last Thanksgiving. 

As soon as we arrived back at my Mom's we began working to get everything together. Tables needed to be set, chairs needed to be arranged and side dishes needed to be prepared. Luckily we had lots of eager little helpers!

After the visitors arrived the day became a blur. Thankfully I had lots of adults anxious to hold and love on Timmy, freeing me up to help in the kitchen. By the time everybody left my little baby was exhausted from entertaining all of his older cousins.

Yesterday was busy but wonderful. Although I was in constant motion, I wouldn't have had it any other way.  After the difficult summer, I'm so grateful that I'm in a position to be able to help my Mom.

Now we're off to brave the Black Friday sales.  Hopefully I'm not pressing my luck by joining the hoards of bargain hunters this morning.  Wish us luck!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is one of my favorite days of the year. Although I love Christmas, there is something magical about Thanksgiving. The smells of the turkey roasting in the kitchen mingling with the laughter from my cousins laughing in the living room makes me feel happy and loved.

This year, looking at Timmy and Robby together, I realize that counting my blessings would be impossible. I have so much to be thankful for and I wouldn't be able to name them all without bringing myself to the point of exhaustion.  I am so incredibly lucky.

Timmy is my little miracle. He was conceived against all odds, and although he was born early he is now thriving. Being his Momom is one of the greatest blessings in my life.

Robby has grown into an amazing big brother. Although he has had some growing pains as he adjusted to the new role, he has made me so proud. I love and adore him beyond description.

Scott is a wonderful husband and father. He is strong where I am weak and we have come to compliment each other. This has been a difficult year, but he has stood by my side and supported me throughout all of the struggles, surgeries and pain.  

My Mom is simply amazing. She exudes unconditional love and grace. I don't have the words to express how much her love and support have meant to me. She is my role model and my biggest cheerleader. If I can be half the mother she is I know I will be doing right by my boys. 

Today my heart is overflowing today with gratitude. The year has not been easy, but this Thanksgiving I am celebrating being a Mom to two. I have an amazing support system of family and friends. I have no doubt that I would have been lost had I not had them. 

Happy Thanksgiving!





Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Student Talks

Yesterday morning Robby, Timmy and I packed up and headed to school. Of course this time it was different because we weren't going to Robby's school. We were planning on spending the morning at the school of my niece and nephews where I had been invited by their teachers to share my story.

I absolutely love talking with school children about living with an amputation, prosthetics, and disabilities in general. This time my talks were more personal because of three proud little faces in the audience. The excitement that was radiating on the faces of my nephews and niece made my heart smile. 

While I was talking with the classes, Robby thoroughly enjoyed looking around the classrooms of his cousins. I was proud (and relieved) that he remembered his manners and did not blurt out anything inappropriate.  (His cousins attend a religious private school where Robby's descriptive language would certainly be discouraged.) Thankfully my stern reminders about demonstrating only his best behavior were heeded.

Because my Mom had an appointment and wasn't able to watch Timmy in the morning I brought him along. Taking him into public for long periods of time is a bit of a crap shoot.  Most of the time he is pleasant and happy, but when he becomes tired or hungry, all bets are off. The stars aligned yesterday, and Timmy remained cooing and giggly for most of my visits. He definitely charmed the students and staff with his broad gummy smiles!

I love that my nephews and niece view my amputation and prosthetic use as a badge of honor.  For them, having a one-legged Aunt is the norm. But they are also old enough to realize that their experience is unique. Not everybody has an Aunt who can remove her leg, and in their eyes that makes me special and brag worthy. I'm glad that they see my "disability" as an asset.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reunion

Saturday afternoon I left both boys with my Mom and drove to the campus of my Alma Mater, Kutztown University. It has been nearly five years since I have visited the campus, and this was the first time I have ever attended a University reunion. I'm not typically a fan of reunions, but the fact that my friends were attending was enough motivation to make the trip.

As I was driving to the reunion, my mind began to fill with memories. My years at Kutztown were so special, but it is only recently that I have come to realize how those experiences have shaped me into the person who I am today. From the silly to the mundane, everything came rushing back. All of a sudden I became homesick for those nights in the dorm, sitting around in our sweatpants eating pizza and giggling with my friends.

Although I'm at a happy place in my life, I don't have the friend connections that I had during those college years. Visiting with friends usually involves a lot of planning and driving, and unfortunately it doesn't happen nearly enough. I didn't realize it at the time, but there was something very special about being able to simply walk across a hallway to talk with a friend. 

By the time I was driving onto campus, I was overwhelmed with emotions that are difficult to decipher. I was happy to be back, yet it was surreal and uncomfortable to feel like a visitor at the place which used to be so comfortable. Somehow time has flown by, and those carefree years are gone. I became sad with the realization that I have become one of the middle-aged alumni visitors who I used to see walking around campus. 

Thankfully my mini midlife crisis was thwarted as soon as I saw my friends. Although I felt like a visitor on campus, it was as if time has stood still when talking with my friends. We haven't seen each other in years, but somehow our conversation flowed so naturally, it was as if we saw each other every day.

I was looking forward to seeing my friends, but it wasn't until I was with them that I realized how much I needed to reconnect. They know a side of me that often becomes overshadowed and lost in my roles as mom, wife, and employee. For a few hours I was able to just be me, without the responsibilities and baggage of being a full-fledged adult.

I've come to the conclusion that being an adult is overrated.  Although I don't feel like campus is home anymore, it is nice to know that I will always be comfortable with my friends. Perhaps someday we will all live in the same retirement home. We can be hell-raisers with walkers.




Monday, November 24, 2014

Turkey Cake




Friday morning was more hectic than normal. Between trying to get packed up for a week at my Mom's and gathering everything needed for Robby's Thanksgiving Feast at school, my patience and energy reserves were both at critically low levels. To add an extra layer of complication to the activity, Robby woke up before the sun with the realization that it was also his best friend's birthday. 

Thankfully we had a gift card on hand, so we didn't have a meltdown on that front. However, Robby was insistent that he bring in a cake for his class to celebrate his friend's birthday. He was worried that his buddy wouldn't have a cake if we didn't bring one. Knowing that it meant a lot to my kind-hearted little Koopa, I grabbed a cake mix and we went to work. 

With his growing up, our time spent in the kitchen together is becoming more sparse.  He used to come running whenever I asked if he wanted to help bake cookies or a cake.  More often than naught now he just hollers back, "You have fun. Just save me some batter please." The fact that he wanted to help made me almost as happy as the gesture he was making for his friend. 

I didn't want to embarrass his friend if he did happen to bring a treat for the class, so we decided to think outside the box. With minimal guidance, I helped Robby ice the cake to look like a turkey. I figured if his friend did bring something we could easily include our cake with the Thanksgiving Feast. While Robby was finishing the feathers I made a small sign for the turkey to "hold" wishing a Happy Birthday to his friend.  If he did or did not bring a celebratory treat to share with his class, I felt confident that we had covered our bases with our Happy Birthday/ Thanksgiving turkey cake.

Robby was proud as a little peacock carrying his creation into school. The cake was stashed in the kitchen until after the Thanksgiving Feast. After his class had devoured the lunch I brought (notice I didn't say made), Robby pulled me to the side and informed me that his friend did not have a birthday cake. He winked, and I left to go to the kitchen. 

I honestly don't know who was more excited when I presented the Happy Birthday Turkey to his friend.  Robby was absolutely beaming with pride. His friend was thrilled to have a cake to celebrate his special day with his class.  The turkey cake was a hit with everybody and was definitely the highlight of the festivities.



Friday, November 21, 2014

Secret Shortcuts

This past week has been extraordinarily busy. In addition to my own work, I've been trying to get ready for a week away, which basically equates to a lot of laundry! The boys and I are heading to my Mom's this afternoon where we will be staying for the next week. Scott will join us when his school dismisses on Tuesday, allowing him a few precious bachelor days at home. 

I have one more looming responsibility before packing up the car and driving to PA. Robby's class is celebrating Thanksgiving today. In years past I have spent countless hours roasting a turkey, whipping up side dishes and baking treats only to have them devoured by pint sized eating machines. This year I just didn't have time to make a full Thanksgiving dinner early, so I have decided to go a different direction.

I called our grocery store and ordered their Thanksgiving In A Box meal. The class will still be able to delve into a whole turkey and all of the traditional side dishes, all for the bargain price of $29.99.  (The list price is $39.99 but I received a $10 discount because I need the meal today instead of next week.) I doubt I could make the meal cheaper, and even if I could the time savings is well worth the money.

Of course, employing logic has done nothing to quell the guilt that I am feeling. Isn't it silly that I manage to feel guilty because I am not preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, from scratch, for a group of other people's kids? They aren't going to care if the potatoes came out of a box; they will just be excited about the novelty of a Thanksgiving feast at lunchtime.

After thinking and fretting all day, I came to the realization that  I really don't care what his classmates think. I'm only trying to impress one little Koopa and I don't want him to blame the shortcut on his little brother.  Despite my fatigue, I knew I only had one option.

I poured all of the side dishes out of their deli packs and smashed them into my well-used Tupperware containers.  I opened the jar of gravy and poured it into a thermos. I removed the turkey from it's plastic shrink wrap and re-positioned it in my roasting pan. The rolls were pulled from the metal trap and not-so-gingerly put into a plastic Ziploc bag, making sure that they were slightly misshapen in the process.  I may know that the Thanksgiving Feast is store bought, but there is no reason to bring Robby in on my dirty little secret.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Forward

Yesterday I took another step (both literally and figuratively) towards total ambulation. I've been back in my prosthetic full time for several months but have remained in a series of test sockets. Between shrinking and nerve issues, I have been playing my own sadistic version of "leg roulette" every morning. I never knew if, when slipping my leg on and taking the first step, I would feel comfort or pain.  It has been frustrating at the very least!

The past few weeks I have been consistently comfortable in my leg. I shrunk considerably, causing me to bottom out in the socket. Despite not feeling pain, dropping down did cause me to become about 1/2 inch shorter on  my prosthetic side. The height difference rendered me with a noticeable limp which, although it wasn't painful, made me feel self-conscious. 

Getting a smaller socket crafted has been on my "to do" list for several weeks, but every time I had an appointment, something popped up. Between work, being sick and nursing Timmy through his tummy virus, I had to cancel several casting appointments. Since I wasn't in pain, I never made rescheduling a priority. 

This past weekend the height differential caught up with me. The all-to-familiar back twinges began to materialize, and I knew that I couldn't put it off any longer. I was casted for a new socket on Monday, and yesterday I picked it up. 

Wow! I thought I was doing well on my previous socket, but I feel so much more comfortable now. The snugger fit allows me to relax my calf muscle while walking, enabling me to go both faster and farther. Correcting the height has made a world of difference. I am no longer limping, and I'm able to walk with a correct gait. Finally, after nearly 5 months, I feel normal again!

I am kicking myself for not taking care of this relatively minor issue earlier, but I am delighted that the adjustments have now been made. I'm going to be in this socket through Thanksgiving and, if all continues to go well, my permanent socket will be made the following week. When I slip on my final socket, I will finally be able to put the horrific revision surgery behind me.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Priority Time

Yesterday was bone chilling cold. Although the temperatures were not nearly as low as they will certainly become in the next few months, the first true shot of winter is always painful. It was the first time we had to pull out the winter gear, cut the tags off the new coats and face the harsh reality: winter is upon us.

Robby bundled up in his brand new winter coat, still stiff from the not-yet-broken-in stuffing, and dashed to the car so that I could drive him to school.  He complained the entire time, but he was not upset with the plunging temperatures. He felt cheated that he had to wear his winter coat but there was no snow on the ground.  According to my Koopa, cold air without snow is no fun. 

I came home and immediately changed into my flannel jammy bottoms. I set Timmy and me up in front of the fireplace and stayed warm and toasty throughout the afternoon. To my delight Timmy even fell asleep and took a long nap in the Pack'n Play which was strategically positioned close to the warm fire.  I took full advantage of the rare quiet moment by sipping a hot cup of gingerbread coffee, raiding the vestiges of the Halloween candy, and shopping online for Christmas presents.

I could have used the time in a more productive manner, but after the stress of Monday, I just needed to relax and enjoy a few moments of solitude. I am working on forcing myself to take breaks simply to unwind and dream. Between working and taking care of the boys, my life has become so hectic that the days are flying by without my reaping much happiness or enjoyment.  I am a much better mom and a happier person and employee when I remember to take some time for myself.  I think I would benefit from carving out a small part of every day to make myself a priority. 



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tired

My goodness yesterday was a long day! Timmy woke up at 3:45 in the morning for a bottle. After feeding him it quickly became clear that he was a bundle of happy energy ready to tackle the day.  Although I wasn't terribly optimistic, I did put my giggling and cooing little baby back in his crib with strict instructions to go back to sleep until the sun comes up. He was rescued 20 minutes later by his Daddy, who was concerned that the cooing would morph into cries if he didn't intervene.  Scott handed me the now wiggling baby and went back to bed.

Hamlet and I camped out in the living room while the rest of the family slept. Luckily he was content playing on the floor and in his activity centers while I desperately tried to inhale enough coffee to bring me back to life. I've come to the conclusion that he is a morning person; he does not get this trait from me!

After playing for five hours, Timmy finally fell asleep. Unfortunately he crashed about 10 minutes before I had to put him in his car seat to take Robby to school. He was not amused being woken up, and voiced his displeasure with my action for the next 45 minutes. Robby almost ran into his school simply to get away from the screaming.

The car seat episode set the tone for the rest of the day. Timmy was exhausted yet fought sleeping at every turn. He was no longer happy playing with his toys or jumping in his Jumperoo. Instead, he demanded to be held and carried. I spent the majority of the afternoon standing at my kitchen counter trying to work with him strapped to my chest.

I was overjoyed when he finally fell asleep, hoping that he would take a long nap and wake up in a better mood. I glanced at the clock after unstrapping him and lying him in his little bed. I wanted to bang my head against the wall! It was 2:15, and I was going to have to wake him up in 30 minutes to go pick up Robby from school.  I wanted to cry, but opted to use the time being productive. I raided Robby's Halloween candy and drank another cup of coffee.





Monday, November 17, 2014

A Little Late

It is hard to believe that my little Timmy will be seven months old this week. He is now a solid 16 pounds and 22 inches long. He is growing and learning new things every single day. Despite starting out with colic, he is probably the happiest baby I have ever met. I swear it feels like he is smiling from the moment I pick him up in the morning until I put him into his crib at night. 

The past seven months have been busy and difficult. It turns out that incorporating Timmy into our family structure was the easiest hurdle we encountered. Between my postpartum infections, my leg re-amputation and the hysterectomy, I have spent the majority of his young life in crisis mode. Finally things are beginning to settle down, allowing us time to relax and simply enjoy being a family.

We were so busy after Timmy was born that I never found time to send out a proper birth announcement. I toyed with the idea of just forgoing the gesture, but to be honest every time I thought about not doing it I felt sad. Timmy is such an important part of our family and I felt that he deserved a birth announcement, even if we are fashionably late in our timing. 

I am fully aware that I am going to receive criticism from some naysayers about the delay of our announcements. Our intention is to simply share our good news and some adorable photos with family and friends. He is a wonderful little miracle and I want to celebrate him, even if I am extremely late with the notice.

I meant to get them out sooner but never quite found the time. Yesterday as the cold rain was falling outside, I decided to curl up in front of the fireplace and start addressing envelopes. The announcements are going in the mail today, and I couldn't be happier with how they turned out. 

I would also be remiss if I didn't extend a special thank you to Mary, who is a reader of this blog. Mary lovingly crafted the outfit that Timmy is wearing in his announcement. I received her beautiful gift when things were becoming difficult with the pregnancy. I immediately knew that the baby, whether it be a boy or girl, would wear the outfit in the birth announcement photos.  My dear friend, an extremely talented graphic designer, managed to perfectly capture my vision for his special announcement.  Thank you Tammy for the beautiful design!

If you would like to receive an announcement, please email (amputeemommy@verizon.net) me your address.  I am so happy with how they turned out. In my opinion they were definitely worth the wait!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Horrible Moans

I know that growing up and becoming curious about the opposite sex is a normal part of childhood. I wish I could keep Robby and Timmy in little bubbles, keeping them little and innocent forever. As much as I love watching Robby grow and learn, watching him change from my little boy into a "big kid" is something I'm not sure I am ready to accept.  Of course, my inability to accept the inevitable is not going to keep it from occurring. 

A few days ago when I picked up Robby from school he immediately asked me the age of his cousin Tiffany. I sensed an unusual urgency in his voice so instead of asking why he wanted to know, I simply told him that she was ten years old. He became extremely serious and began to recount the details of his day.

"Momom, Kenny (name changed to protect the little cherub) brought in a book he got at the library. It was a secret book so we had to put it inside a notebook in order to read it. Did you know that Tiffany is going to start developing horrible moans soon? You need to call Nana right now and warn her. If she hears horrible moans coming out of Tiffany's room, whatever she does, she needs to stay away. Horrible moans means that she is going to start growing boobies and getting hair on her girl penis area." 

It took me a few minutes to realize that Robby misheard his friend. Horrible moans were actually hormones. Although, to be completely honest, his interpretation is probably just as correct.

Somehow I managed to keep both a straight path on the road and on my face as he frantically made his case about "horrible moans." The book his friend brought in details puberty and changing bodies. Obviously the boys weren't interested in what was going to happen to them and skipped straight to the female change section.  I really don't think I'm prepared for this stage!

I'm happy that he felt comfortable enough to talk to me about his new knowledge. Although he was wrong on a few of the details, the fact that he initiated an open dialog on the topic is a good sign. I tried to put a mask on the overwhelming sense of discomfort I felt talking to my little Koopa about changing bodies. Thankfully, he didn't want details; he was more interested in passing along the warning to his Nana.

I am really not looking forward to more discussions on horrible moans.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Comet

Although I am not sure the source, I absolutely love Robby's enthusiasm for science. Given the opportunity, he would habitually pick watching the Science Channel and various educational documentaries over cartoons. Needless to say, yesterday's landing on the comet really sent my little guy into a tailspin.

We have had the comet landing marked on our calendar for weeks. Yesterday morning he woke up grinning from ear to ear, proudly exclaiming that today he was going to witness history. He was especially impressed with the fact that landing on a comet was something that has never been achieved, hence it was "rare."  (Have I mentioned that he is into anything dubbed "rare" at the moment.) Robby walked into his school like a trumpeter heralding the comet landing. I was relieved to learn that his teacher had already rearranged the lessons for the day so that Robby and his class could watch the event.

After dropping him off I drove home and began working.  My phone rang at 10:45 and although I looked at the caller ID out of habit, I knew it was Robby's school.  Somehow my little guy convinced his teacher to grant him a phone call so that he could remind me of the landing. I assured him that I was watching, listened to him yammer about the "super duper rare event" that was about to occur before telling him to go back to class.

I have to admit that I have never been into astronomy, but I found myself excited and squealing when contact was established and the landing was confirmed. The fact that a small vehicle could intersect with a moving comet, 4 billion miles away, is simply awe inspiring. I cannot even fathom the intellect required to tackle such an seemingly unattainable goal. The engineers' mothers must be so proud of their sons and daughters!

Within minutes of the landing my phone rang again. Robby's teacher was laughing on the other end of the receiver. She explained that Robby had worked the class into a near frenzy state as the expected landing time approached.  According to his teacher, Robby erupted with cheers and fist bumps when communication was established.  Within moments the rest of the students followed suit, participating in Robby's comet celebration.  (Note to self: make the teacher another batch of brownies. She deserves them!)

Robby was simply gleeful when his teacher handed him the phone. I had no doubt that he was genuinely excited about what has been accomplished. I'm so happy that science, engineering and math excite him. Who knows, perhaps someday he will be overseeing his own rocket exploration missions. 


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Vacation Day

Yesterday was nice but chaotic. I have come to rely upon my routine, and the disruption of having everybody at home on a Tuesday sent everything into a tailspin. I enjoy having a full house, but it certainly complicates things on my end.

After struggling against the constant interruptions, I finally surrendered to the fact that I wasn't going to get much work done. I shut off my computer and resolved myself to an early morning to catch up on my projects. In the meantime, I vowed to make the most of having everybody home. 

Before going to breakfast, Robby asked if he could post on my Facebook page. I allowed him access with the caveat that I would immediately delete anything inappropriate. The little guy worked for about 10 minutes until he deemed it perfect.  "Hi. This is Robby. Today is momoms walking day. Momom is a good mom. Walking with a prosthetic is rare. That makes her special. I am lucky since she is rare. We are going to eat at ihop. bye"  Needless to say, I allowed it to stay on my wall. 

I love that Robby is proud of me. He is at an age where he is beginning to appreciate my prosthetic use and the difficulties I have encountered. He is also in a phase where he is impressed by anything that he deems rare.  I am happy that, in this situation, I fit the bill!

My impromptu vacation day was wonderful. I was able to go for a long walk through the neighborhood with Robby and Timmy before going out for a nice dinner. I know that I'll have to work twice as hard today to catch up, but it will be worth it.  Sometimes, everybody needs to unplug- including this "rare" Momom.