Thanks to my Mom and help from a friend, yesterday I was able to orchestrate a wonderful Momom/son day. It has been a long time since Robby and I have done something special without bringing along other people. I loved having a special day with just him.
We began our adventures by visiting the Pennsylvania State Museum. A friend arranged for her husband, the head curator, to provide us with a private tour of the Native American artifacts. Robby was like a little sponge trying to absorb as much information as possible. He is studying Native Americans in school so this trip came at the most fortuitous time. He asked questions and offered insightful comments and observations about the artifacts he was viewing. Just as important as what he was learning, he behaved beautifully! It is always nice when you leave an experience feeling proud of your child's behavior.
We were supposed to visit an archaeological dig site, but unfortunately the plans did not work out. I saw the disappointment wash across Robby's face when I had to break the bad news. Determined to continue our fun day and not wanting it to end on a sour note, I quickly developed Plan B.
I drove right past the dig site and headed to a local cavern for a tour. Robby has been asking to experience caves, and I figured that a tourist trap would be considerably cheaper than trying to spelunking on our own. (I'm not exactly the most graceful and trying to maneuver the underground without the assistance of illumination and a trained guide would be a recipe for disaster.) Robby's frown almost instantly turned into a huge smile when he realized that his dream of cave exploration was about to be realized.
Again, I was impressed by both Robby's behavior and attentiveness to the guide. He knew more about stalagmites and stalactites than I realized. He actually knew more on the subject than I did! Although I wasn't delighted trying to navigate the uneven, wet surfaces in the dark, I knew that my being there was making Robby happy. This was a true test of my new prosthesis and my recovery. It wasn't easy, but I was able to finish the tour without falling. I consider that a success!
Robby missed school yesterday, but I know that the time away from the classroom was well spent. He learned a lot more about Native Americans and was able to ask the expert his questions. He is in the process of putting together a report and poster to present to his class about his experiences. I know that he is excited to share what he learned with his friends. I'm so glad that his teachers value the education potential of experiences and that I am able to go on these adventures with him.
Thursday, October 09, 2014
Yesterday morning, before dawn, I found myself in an unusual situation. It was one of those surreal, am I really doing this, moments. I never imagined that I would be standing in a parking lot of 7-11, in the dark, setting up a telescope with an excited little boy. But Robby loves science, and I want to support his interests, so when he begged to drive somewhere to catch a better look at the lunar eclipse, I couldn't say no.
I only wish I had the foresight to have changed out of my bright pink pajamas before piling into the car on our moon quest. And brushing my hair might have been a nice touch, but that didn't happen either. Standing in the middle of an extremely busy intersection, sporting my Scottie dog nightgown, polka dot pajama bottoms, and wild bed hair was not exactly part of the plan. Of course, my plan for viewing the eclipse from the comfort of our deck was squelched when we realized the moon was too low on the horizon to be viewed over the trees. Robby wanted a better view, and I knew that time was of the essence when dealing with an eclipse. I honestly didn't even think about what I was wearing.
Needless to say, I am sure that I provided fodder for conversation from the hundreds of people who saw us in the parking lot. Cars honked, people waved and passengers craned their heads to catch a better look. In that little corner of the world, I think it is safe to say that I received more views and interest than the anticipated "blood moon."
Robby, unfazed by our attire and situation, was completely focused on the eclipse. He was eager to share the event with anybody who was within ear shot, heralding drowsy drivers clutching freshly purchased cups of coffee and those who were filling their gas tanks to come and look through his telescope. I was surprised by how many strangers took him up on his offer.
I love Robby's enthusiasm for learning and experiencing life, and I hope that these are traits that never change. If fostering his interests means that I sometimes end up humiliated, I am willing to take the risk. Yesterday wasn't the first time I've been embarrassed in public, and I'm sure it won't be the last.
at 7:25 AM
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
A few weeks ago I was invited to participate in a PSA for the Amputee Coalition. While the timing wasn't ideal because school had just started and I was still feeling weak from the surgeries, I didn't hesitate to accept the invitation. If I am able, I will always do whatever I can to help benefit the community regardless of the inconvenience. Raising awareness about living with limb loss is imperative if we are going to effectively work towards reform and change.
Robby went to school late the morning of the video, but I would be lying if I said that he was upset about being tardy. He strutted into school later that morning with a video cameraman in tow, strutting like a conquering hero. When his friends peppered him with questions, he coyly smiled and said, "I'm just filming another video with my Momom." Needless to say, he certainly ended his first week of school on a high note!
Looking back, Robby has managed to create quite a little experience reel during his short life. He has participated in numerous awareness videos, prosthetic commercials and news interviews. His gap-toothed little grin has been seen worldwide through our print advertisements and videos. I love that I have professionally produced videos documenting various stages of his childhood. Reflecting on everything that we have been able to do together because of these videos, I am struck with an incredible sense of gratitude. We are so lucky to have been able to participate in these amazing activities together.
This video shoot was quite special for me because it was Timmy's debut. I wasn't sure how he would do in front of the camera, but he apparently takes after his brother when it comes to charming the lens. He could not have been better behaved or more adorable!
I was a little concerned about how Robby would manage sharing these experiences with his little brother, but my worrying was for naught. He excitedly helped me get Timmy ready for the filming by picking out his outfit and telling him what he should expect. I even walked in on Robby brushing Timmy's little nose with powder in preparation for his video debut. (Robby insists on powdering his nose before each video/ photo shoot, even when it is not necessary or requested.)
After a morning of filming and a few weeks for production, the video has finally been released. I am in segment number 2. Please excuse the messy kitchen, but I suppose it is a glimpse into real life in my house.
at 5:02 AM
Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Yesterday was Picture Day at Robby's school. Unlike last year, where I was forced to run to Kohl's in search of a suit, this time the students were allowed to wear the clothing of their choice (or what their parents told them to wear). Most kids want to wear their favorite shirt featuring a cartoon character, video game avatar, or SuperHero. Not my son. His request was specific and unusual. He wanted to wear a tuxedo.
Yes, Robby begged to wear a tuxedo for his school photo. I reminded him that he would be the only person in fancy clothes, but he was unswayed. He promised that he didn't care if he was teased for his attire, nor was he discouraged by the discomfort of wearing such an elaborate garment. He was insistent, and once I learned his reasoning I had to try to make it a reality.
Robby thoughtfully explained that he wanted to wear "fancy clothes" because someday he is going to be President of the United States. When he is President, he believes that people might look on Google for his school photo. He thinks that he should start looking important now, and in the eyes of an eight year old, important equates to a tuxedo.
We are fortunate that Robby's music teacher had a child sized tuxedo that she was willing to lend him for his photo. Although she promised to bring it to school, Robby was nervous and decided to cover his bases. In the morning he shunned the Minecraft shirt I suggested he wear in lieu of his suit. I must admit that he looked quite dapper and adorable strolling into his school clutching his turtle lunchbox while wearing his blue dress shirt, yellow tie, grey vest and jacket. The entire ensemble somehow paired beautifully with his beat up, dirty and scuffed cowboy boots.
His teacher remembered the tuxedo, a fact that he couldn't wait to tell me. He managed to convince his teacher to allow him to call me during the school day with the soul purpose of letting me know that he was wearing "fancy man clothes." I love that he has the confidence to wear something out of the norm without hesitation. I can't wait to see these school photos! If nothing else, he has added to family lore.
at 6:28 AM
Monday, October 06, 2014
Friday morning I scooped up Robby and his friend from school (with all of the necessary permissions) and took them on a wonderful autumnal adventure. To say that the pair was excited about their personal field trip would be an understatement. When I walked into the school, the friends were clutching their bagged lunches and pacing back and forth, anxiously waiting for the fun to begin.
Robby has been visiting agricultural themed fun zones since he was Timmy's age. Going to the petting zoo, pumpkin patch and farmed-centered play zones has been a normal part of his childhood. He was shocked to learn that this was his friend's first time at a farm. Robby regaled him with stories and possible features as we drove through the beautiful back roads en route to Great Country Farms. By the time I pulled into the parking lot they were so excited they nearly leaped out of the car before it had fully come to a stop.
Thankfully the friends were patient as I gathered up all of Timmy's belongings. The bottom of the stroller was filled with bottles, diapers, blankets, extra clothing and the boy's lunches. True to form, I ended up pushing the stroller with the overflowing basket on the bottom and the open seat on top, all because Timmy preferred that I wear him on my chest. (As a side note, 14 pounds added to my hips and bum does not seem nearly as heavy as 14 baby pounds strapped to my chest and torso.)
After the admission was paid, the boys took off towards the giant jumping pillow. Robby certainly didn't need, nor did he want, to play with me as he had in the past. I discovered the joys of simply watching him have fun with a friend. Watching and quietly eavesdropping on their conversations, I was able to see a completely different side of my little Koopa.
I witnessed his ability to work out disagreements without becoming angry. When his friend remarked that he had never seen a live goat and that the only goats he had ever seen were over a fire, I saw a perplexed look come across Robby's face. Confused, he asked "Why would you put a goat over a fire? That would cook him." Without missing a beat, his friend responded, "Well of course you cook him. You can't eat them raw."
Robby had never realized that some individuals eat goats and that they aren't simply adorable little farm pets. After debating the virtues of consuming goat, the friends amicably agreed never to discuss the topic again. Without pause, they were able to dismiss the great goat eating debate and continued playing at the farm. I think that a lot of adults could take their cue on conflict resolution!
We spent nearly 5 hours at the farm, and despite the drizzly weather and mud, everybody had a great time. Apparently a little rain makes everything at the farm more fun, including watching the piggy races more exciting. (But I must admit that I had a "this is my life" moment when I realized I was sitting in the bleachers, in the rain, waiting to watch and cheer little piglets run around a track.)
While Robby and his friend ran and played, Timmy and I quietly strolled around the farm. Hamlet was wide awake and utterly enthralled by everything he saw and smelled. He never fussed or cried, perhaps because I was wearing him the entire time. Regardless of my aching back, I was thankful that I have recovered to the point where I can walk around a farm with an infant strapped to my chest.
On the drive home I was privy to eavesdropping on another precious conversation- the great SuperHero debate. Again, I was surprised to learn that Robby could hold his own in the conversation. He is an admitted non-fan of SuperHeroes, shunning both their toys and branded clothing. Despite his aversion, he was able to defend Batman in the "who is better, Batman or Spiderman" debate. (I felt like I was thrust into an episode of The Big Bang Theory listening to this conversation.)
Robby's ignorance about SuperHeroes was evident on one occasion when he pointed out that Batman had cat ears allowing him to hear better than everybody else. His friend immediately corrected him by pointing out that they weren't cat ears, that they were bat ears. After all, his friend exclaimed, that is why they call him Batman;
Perhaps cuter than listening to the Great SuperHero debate was witnessing Robby's shock at learning that Batman was, indeed, part bat. "Woah, slow down. Are you saying that Batman is supposed to be a bat? Wow. You're blowing my mind. That's insane. My whole life, I thought that he had cat ears." I was proud of myself for containing my giggles.
After his friend was returned to his mother and my boys were both bathed and fed, I felt a great sense of satisfaction. I had managed to provide both of my children with a wonderful day. For a brief moment, I felt like another SuperHero should have been included in the car debate. After all, SuperMom may not have animal traits, but she certainly has her merits!
at 6:19 AM