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.

Friday, December 30, 2016

2017

Well, another year is coming to a close and I'm sorting through my typical melancholy and reflective feelings. I am looking forward to 2017 despite accepting the only thing that ever changes at the stroke of midnight is a calendar. Alas, media outlets everywhere are reminding me to reflect upon the past twelve months so I feel like I must oblige by participating in the mandated self-review. 

During the past 12 months I have loved watching Robby continue to grow and stretch his wings as he flirts with becoming a teenager. Timmy has kept me hopping, making sure that everyday is an adventure. He continues to wake up each morning with a smile and is, without a doubt, the happiest toddler I have ever known. (It is a good thing that he wakes up with a smile because my little early bird still wakes up before the sun.)

This past year has brought a unique mixture of experiences, opportunities and struggles. I never would have predicted the roller coaster of 2016. I can't say that I'm happy with the way that everything panned out, but I do know that I am entering 2017 secure in the knowledge that I have been true to myself. I am developing my voice, and I hope to continue this trend in the coming year.

Here is to a fabulous 2017, abundant with joy and laughter and lean on heartache and disappointment.  

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Reaching Out

Things with my brother have taken a disturbing turn. We learned that he was assaulted and injured on Christmas night. The assailant(s) punched him in the eye, smashing the lens from his eyeglasses into his eyeball. We have been told that the sight in that eye may have been lost, but since it hasn't yet been confirmed I am holding out hope that the news is incorrect.

My Mom decided that it was time to travel to Austin to see if she can help right his course. While she packed and got everything in order at her house, I spent the morning booking her tickets, rental car and hotel room. She then drove to my house and I took her to the airport to catch the late afternoon flight. We are hoping that two full business days will be enough time to help my brother secure a new ID and to locate some resources that might be able to help him.

I'm a nervous wreck, but I know that everything is out of my hands and control. I am hoping that my Mom can reach him and make an impact. I'm anxious about his vision as well as his physical and emotional health. My Mom is an exceedingly strong woman, but I know that watching her son spiral out of control is taking a toll on her. Addicts, including my brother, don't realize that everybody suffers from the consequences of their choices.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Addiction is a B*tch

I would be lying if I didn't acknowledge that my normally festive demeanor has been tempered this holiday season. I enjoyed baking cookies with the boys, wrapping presents and engaging in all of our other seasonal activities. Yet despite the smiles, laughter, and colorful sugars, my heart has been hurting. I miss my brother.

My brother has been living in Austin for the past five years. I saw him two years ago when I was helping to care for my Dad, and our reunion was bittersweet. I miss him so much, yet the man that I was hugging had little resemblance to the brother I knew and loved.  Drug addiction is a horrible scourge, slowly killing the person in the most agonizing and torturous ways. 

Whenever I think about my brother my memories inevitably drift back to a family day trip that we took to Philadelphia. I remember being in the back seat of our light blue Chevy station wagon, driving through the city and absorbing the sights and sounds of the city. At a stoplight my dad directed our attention to somebody who was disheveled, disoriented and filthy who was living on the streets.  "Take a look at that person. There is a new drug going around called Crack. One puff and that is where you will end up. It is killing people quickly. Don't ever try it kids, remember that person and know that somewhere they made the choice to try drugs just one time. One time is all it will take." 

I remember this lecture so vividly because it made such a strong impression on me. Coming from a safe suburban neighborhood, simply seeing a homeless individual was shocking. Having my Dad so poignantly tie drug to the visual made a lasting impact. That moment sparked my lifetime fear of elicit drug use. 

For whatever reason, the lecture did not hold the same weight with my brother. His foray into the abyss of drug use started young. Since his late teens he has been raging against a cyclone of addiction. His years are marked by stints in various rehabilitation centers, months of sobriety and the return to the chemical demons that taunt him.

The need to consume drugs will propel an individual to live a hellish existence. While I was waking up Christmas morning with my two boys excited to see what Santa left, my brother was wandering the streets. He has become the symbol that my Dad etched in my mind so many years ago. I miss my brother dearly. Although he is still alive, the person that I know and love has been gone for awhile. I hope and pray that he will right his path, seek sobriety and come back to us.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep hugging my boys while I tell them funny stories of the Uncle they don't know.  A few days ago I sat down Robby and explained to him what happened to my brother. Robby is now ten years old, and while he is still my baby boy I know that the next few years he will be faced with temptations. I want him to know what doing drugs does not only to the individual, but to everybody who loves them. He watched me cry as I explained how his Uncle is struggling because of his addiction. He has seen me worried, fretting and anxious about my brother's safety. Maybe witnessing the real-life impact of loving a drug seeker will be the reminder that he needs to avoid the dreaded "just one time."

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Drone Practice

A benefit of not hosting company on Christmas day is that I get to see my family throughout the holiday season. Today is Christmas Part 2 in our house because my Mom, sister, niece and nephews are coming to visit. Since we didn't see them on Christmas we will be celebrating today, but the gathering is low pressure because it is no longer an official holiday. In other words, I don't have to scrub my house to make it holiday perfect, I only need to make sure that Robby (and Scott's) underwear are off the bathroom floor before they arrive. 

I know that Robby is eager to showcase his Christmas loot, especially his prized drone. He has been practicing in our yard but between the trees and the zipline, I worried that there were too many obstacles for a novice pilot. Seeking open spaces, yesterday we went to the park where he practiced flying until both batteries were completely depleted. As you can see from the video, he is having a great time and my reflexes are being strengthened in the process.

A video posted by Peggy Friedman Chenoweth (@amputeemommy) on

Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas

Merry (belated) Christmas! 

We had a wonderful, albeit quiet, Christmas day. We didn't travel and we didn't host company. This was the first year that we were alone as a singular family unit on Christmas Day. The boys seemed to relish the time to just play with their toys and relax at home without having to put on real pants to entertain company. I have to admit that despite the laughter and the commotion, I felt fleeting moments of loneliness. It was odd not spending the day with other friends and family members.

Timmy and I were up early but it took him over an hour to notice the pile of presents under the Christmas tree. Instead he was fascinated with the Nutcrackers that Robby set out to greet Santa around the fireplace. When he finally noticed the toys, his reaction was not what I expected. I envisioned having to coax the presents away from him until everybody else woke up. Instead he took off sprinting down the hallway and dove under his crib. The poor little guy was terrified that Santa had the audacity to sneak into the house when he was sleeping!

It took nearly 30 minutes and the promise of fruit until he finally inched his way out from under the crib. He didn't go near the presents until Robby woke up. Even then, it took watching Robby open gifts for Hamlet to garner the courage to open a package on his own.  Once the first piece of wrapping paper tore, all fear was gone and he was giddy with excitement.

Despite my concerns, Robby loved his presents this year. Among his favorites are a WWII helmet and ammo box, a virtual reality drone and a new set of headphones for the computer.  Timmy was delighted with his Little People airplanes and farmer set, but was particularly taken with the Thomas the Train engine. He spent the majority of the day on his knees, chasing after Thomas as he chugged through the living room and kitchen. 

Something tells me he won't hide under his crib next Christmas morning!









Friday, December 23, 2016

Swollen Toes.

After Timmy's reaction of unabashed joy when he saw the pool on Wednesday, I was expecting a repeat performance yesterday morning. Per our plan, my Mom and Timmy arrived at the hotel room around 9 with donuts and a swim diaper (for the toddler not my Mom).  I took one look at my little guy and immediately knew that something was wrong. 

Hamlet was struggling to walk, keeping the weight on the balls of his feet instead of his toes.  I removed his little slipper socks to discover that his toes were both swollen and red. His rheumatoid issues were flaring up, and my little swim bug was in pain. 

I was hoping that the water would help soothe his symptoms, but he only lasted about 45 minutes in the pool before he wanted to leave.  Even when he was in the water his enthusiasm was tempered, and he never squealed and barely cracked a smile.  This latest flare up convinced me that we need to proceed with treatment in the coming months. I hate the treatment options, but I detest seeing him in pain more.  In 2017, we will be working to eradicate his autoimmune issue!

While Timmy and I watched cartoons in the hotel room the big kids splashed and played in the pool.  They all arrived about 10 minutes before check-out time, drenched but wearing broad smiles. All things considered, the Adventure was a success. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Winter Adventure

Greetings from our winter Aunt Peggy Adventure!

The kids were absolutely gobsmacked yesterday when they realized that they were not headed home but rather to a mysterious destination.  During the drive they frantically tried to guess our final destination, quickly exhausting all known options.  When I pulled into the Lodge they didn't know what to expect, but their little smiling faces glowed brighter than the Christmas decorations in the lobby.

As soon as we arrived my Mom showed up with Timmy, who was equally as excited.  When he saw his swim diapers he squealed with excitement and I couldn't change him fast enough.  I loved watching all of the kids, aged 12 to 2, skip and prance down the hallway towards the waterpark.

Timmy swam and played for three hours.  When we were done and he was thoroughly exhausted my mom came and picked him up for the night.  I understand he fell sound asleep about 5 minutes into the drive.

The big kids enjoyed the rest of the night exploring the hotel, revisiting the pool and taking advantage of the activities offered.  I had a bit of an issue during the evening swim, but today's post is a happy one so I will explain the incident at a later time.  Right now, I just want to be happy and enjoy being the World's Best Aunt/ Momom.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Vacation Begins

Happy Winter Vacation!

Yesterday was the last day of school for 2016.  Both Robby and Scott have off until January 3, and ]  they are both thrilled to be on vacation. I know that Timmy will thoroughly enjoy the chaos that comes from a full house.  My excitement for their school break is slightly tempered by the reality that their vacations almost always equate to more work for me, but I am still happy for the vacation.

Regardless of the extra dishes, laundry, interruptions and work disruptions that come from school holidays, I am going to make the most of having everybody home.  My priorities are going to shift over the next two weeks, and I'm going to grant myself some leniency when it comes to household chores. After all, I deserve to enjoy winter vacation as well!

Today I'm kicking the school holiday off with a quick get away adventure with Robby, my niece and my nephews.  We're going to a hotel near my Mom's that has a large indoor water park. Per Aunt Peggy Adventure protocols, nobody knows about the adventure I have planned.  In fact, only Robby and my niece know that an adventure is in the works. My nephews are completely oblivious to the surprise I am plotting.  I can't wait to surprise them this afternoon.

Let the Winter 2016 adventures begin! 


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Nutcracker Date

Last night was one that both Robby and I have been looking forward to for months.  He was excited about going to see the Nutcracker Ballet again. I continue to be shocked at how much Robby loves both the Nutcracker ballet and the music. Never did I imagine that my ten year old son would be excited about going to the ballet with his mom!

I enjoyed the ballet, but I was most excited about spending an evening out with my son.  I love him so much and I know that these opportunities will become increasingly rare as he grows.   Even though our motivations differed, we both had a fabulous evening.






Monday, December 19, 2016

Wrapping Tradition

Saturday night I engaged in one of my favorite holiday traditions.  After Timmy went to bed and Robby was occupied with the computer, I packed up the car and drove over to Mr. Bill's house.  He was waiting for me to arrive, with all of my supplies already laid out on his dining room table.  Sneaking over to his house to wrap all of the presents has transformed a dreaded chore into something I happily anticipate each year.

This time of year Mr. Bill transforms from a wonderful neighbor into an irreplaceable Christmas elf.  For weeks Scott and I have been leaving packages and bags on his doorstep. He not only stores them out of sight of peeping eyes, but everything that requires assembly is magically put together when I arrive to wrap. Not having to assemble any toys has been his standing gift to both Scott and me each year, and I have to tell you that it is one of the best presents ever!  Not only does it save me a lot of time and aggravation, but I am assured that the toys are assembled correctly and that all of the requisite pieces are used. 

While I set up to begin wrapping, Mr. Bill always goes into the living room and turns on his Greek music. The tapes are among his most cherished possessions because they were made by his father. Between the lively songs his Dad can be heard talking, which is probably one of the reasons that he treasures them so much. He only plays the tapes during our wrapping party, on his Dad's birthday and on his birthday. I feel honored to have become part of his tradition. 

With the Greek music blaring, Mr. Bill sits next to me with a cup of eggnog and regales me with tales from his childhood Christmases. He always tells me that I overdid my shopping and teases me for my poor wrapping abilities. Seeing the military memorabilia that I was wrapping for Robby must have triggered more memories because he even pulled out his photo albums and proudly shared photos from his paratrooper adventures.

While I was busy wrapping, Mr. Bill shared that he would like to find a machete similar to the one that he had when he was in the military. He claims that the modern versions available at stores are too flimsy and will not hold up as he chops down the brush in the woods. He never asks for anything, so I am now determined to fulfill this wish. Today I'm going to start calling Army surplus stores to see if I can track down the knife.  Wish me luck, because after 10 years of being a great neighbor, friend and surrogate grandfather, he certainly deserves a nice surprise!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Stubborn Twos

I can't believe next week is the last week before Christmas. My goodness I am behind this year. I've been keeping up with my baking duties, but I have definitely fallen behind on a few others. Shopping, cleaning, cooking, wrapping, sending cards and decorating to name a few.  Can you tell I'm feeling overwhelmed? 

Timmy has been less than helpful with our holiday preparations and the threat of Santa Claus leaving coal has no power this year. In reality, the promise of Santa not visiting is probably more motivation than deterrent. I'm looking forward to those wonderful years where I can keep him in line with the idle threat of a jolly all-knowing elf withholding toys due to misbehavior.  In the meantime, I'm pretty sure that his first full sentence will be "Timmy, get off of the counter/couch/desk/table and stop spitting water on the cat/tree/toy/wood pile/ Daddy's clothes."

I am trying my best to embrace every stage, but my goodness this particular one is driving me quickly to the brink of insanity. If I had a quarter each time I said "no" "don't do it" or "put it down" I would be able to hire a nanny. This child has a stubborn streak and is asserting all of his burgeoning two year old independence.  I'm hoping that we survive the terrible twos intact and that we can thoroughly enjoy the terrific threes in 2017.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hibernation Happiness

We are at the beginning of our first cold blast of the season. While we don't have snow (yet), the arctic air leaves little doubt that winter is upon us. Oddly, I find myself feeling increasingly festive as the temperatures continue to plunge.   Cuddling up by the fireplace with my boys and eating Christmas cookies in front of our brightly lit (albeit unadorned tree) has been helping my spirits rebound.

Timmy and I have been baking cookies every day and I am delighted to report that he is turning into quite an adept helper. While he still lacks the culinary skills his brother possessed at the same age, Timmy has a flare for adorning the cookies with lots of colorful sugar that I appreciate. Of course whenever he thinks I'm not looking I see him shaking the bottle into his mouth as well, but I never said he was perfect. If nothing else, he keeps me on my toes.

I am fully aware that our excitement for the frigid air and baking season will be short lived. In a few weeks I will probably be lamenting for warm days by the pool and the feel of the sun on my shoulders. But right now, being holed up under blankets enjoying the hibernation with my family feels perfect. Maybe I just needed permission to hide for awhile in order to regain my festive perspective.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Faking It

The past few days I have been in "fake it til you're festive" mode. Usually bursting with holiday spirit, I'm just not feeling overwhelmingly jolly this year. I suspect that waiting for test results for Timmy's autoimmune issues is beginning to wear on my spirits. I jump every time the phone rings, anxious for the doctor to call with information. I find myself looking at the calendar with more annoyance that doctors offices will be closed than with joy that the holidays are upon us. Living in diagnosis limbo is draining!
 
I am also fairly certain that Robby no longer believes in Santa Claus. The fact that he now refers to him with air quotes was a strong indicator, but he is such a sweet kid that he will probably never verbalize his discovery. I fully anticipate his playing along indefinitely for fear of hurting my feelings. Knowing that he no longer fully believes in the magic of Santa saddens me because it is another hallmark of growing up.

Timmy is too young to appreciate Santa. Right now he grabs me with a death clutch and buries his face whenever he hears jingle bells and "ho ho ho-ing." I think that next year he'll fully embrace the magic, but this year he will probably have nightmares thinking about the scary man in red slithering down the chimney in the middle of the night. 

Decorations this year are kept to a minimum, partly because I just haven't been motivated to schlep up the boxes and put them out but also because I know that many of my treasures would be ruined by my little toddler tornado. Right now, everything is safer packed away in boxes in the garage. We have our short chubby tree, brightly adorned with 1500 little lights but no ornaments. Since nobody in the house has noticed the undecorated tree,  I'm not going to the effort of digging through the boxes for our unbreakable ornaments. This year we are having a minimalist Christmas, and this year I'm embracing that it is enough.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Mall Meltdown

Whenever possible, we have avoided taking Timmy into crowded situations. He is at an age where we cannot control his vocal outbursts, and his two year old stubborn mentality lends itself to tantrums when his mischief efforts are stymied. Out of respect for the general public, Scott and I have been careful about where and when we venture.

This past weekend, in an attempt to soak up some holiday spirit without actually having to do any work ourselves, we packed up and headed to the mall. I knew that Timmy would enjoy the lights, music and excitement of holiday shopping. We also hoped that browsing through the stores might provide some elf inspiration for Robby. (He is at such a difficult age, too old for toys but too young for clothes and other electronics.)

With Timmy happily wearing his harness (i.e. leash backpack) he happily hopped along through the mall corridors. (I was relieved that he refrained from barking, which is his frequent mode of communication when wearing his puppy backpack harness.)  We were proud of Timmy's admirable behavior as we walked and window shopped. Scott and I even began to plan other family community outings with our well-behaved little Hamlet.

I was delighted when Robby took the bait and ushered his Daddy into the hobby shop. While Scott was gathering elf intel, Timmy and I meandered through the mall and ended up in front of the escalators. Hamlet was absolutely mesmerized by the moving stairs, nervously clutching my finger as he tentatively took a stop onto the platform. After the first ride all nerves were erased by my little escalator riding thrill seeker. 

We spent the next forty minutes going up and down the same escalators. He never tired and his smile seemed to grow with each ride. After Scott and Robby emerged from the store Timmy insisted that they go for a few rides as well.  Robby obliged, but after three more rounds we decided it was time to move on. Timmy disagreed with our decision.

Our happy little cheerful escalator surfer morphed into an angry red faced tyrant in the middle of the mall. He threw himself down, refusing to move by wrapping his arms around the kiosk signs. After a brief attempt at coaxing him to leave, we pulled his leash in order to break his grasp. We quickly decided it was time to just remove ourselves from the situation. Scott managed to carry our planking little toddler, who was wailing at the top of his lungs, through the mall and into the car. Robby and I followed, dutifully apologizing to everybody who glanced at the scene our little cherub was creating. 

After we strapped him into his car seat and escaped the scene of the meltdown, Scott declared that he was not returning to another mall or escalator with Timmy for a year.  With a self-imposed restaurant ban still in effect for several months, our opportunities for community socializing are becoming scant.

Monday, December 12, 2016

NY One Limb Per Life Update

One of the battles the limb loss community fought in the past few years was centered in New York state. With the passing and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, amputees in New York who were reliant upon the exchange for medical insurance were dumbfounded to discover that policies were limited to one prosthetic device per limb per lifetime. As archaic as it appears, amputees were being systematically denied replacement prosthetic devices because of this unrealistic lifetime cap.  ;

Using the momentum from the successful LCD repeal, the community set its sights on the state of New York. Petitions were started and heavy lobbying began in DC and in Albany.  After the dedicated efforts of a handful of individuals, the insurance commission announced that all policies going forward would include provisions for repair and replacement of prosthetic devices. While it wasn't a complete victory, this band-aid compromise provided a satisfactory compromise for the limb loss community.  ;

It has been nearly a year since the "repair and replacement" provision was set to be enacted. Where does the One Limb Per Lifetime movement stand now?  In this episode of Amp'd, Dave and I reviewed the history of the New York insurance exchange and examined the state of prosthetic care for residents in New York.


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Friday, December 09, 2016

Cotillion Dance

To my shock and dismay, Robby actually enjoys his Cotillion classes. I envisioned having to pry him away from his computer, wrangle him into his suit and forcibly contain him in the car before each class. It turns out that he has the dates marked on his calendar and it is something that he eagerly anticipates each month. I've never been so happy to be so wrong about my child!

Yesterday was Robby's holiday Cotillion dance, an event that he has been looking forward to since September. He was fidgety and nervous all day, worrying about stepping on a girls feet and spilling punch on her white gloves. I knew that he was going to be fine, but Momom reassurances hold little weight these days. By the time he was ready to go, he was so jittery that I would have sworn he had consumed a pot of coffee. 

When I saw him in his suit I was taken aback. My little Koopa looked so mature and grown up. I was excited about his experiencing his first dance, but saddened that my little buddy was all grown up and doing things on his own. I know that is the goal of parenting, but it is still painful when it happens.  While I wanted to coax him back into footy pajamas, curl up on the couch and watch Snoopy Christmas, I gave him a kiss goodbye and encouraged him to be nice and have fun. 

Scott volunteers at the Cotillion class (gentlemen volunteers were specifically requested) so he was able to accompany Robby to the dance. While he wasn't allowed inside the ballroom, he did manage to sneak a few photos. I was somewhat relieved to see that all of the boys and girls had the same deer caught in the headlights stunned look on their faces. On the verge of becoming a teen, in some ways he is still a little boy.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Best Cookies

I am constantly amazed by the differences between Robby and Timmy. When Robby was two he was a proud assistant baker in the kitchen, handily cracking eggs, unwrapping butter sticks and carefully sprinkling colored sugar on cookies. Despite numerous attempts at recreating my baking memories, Timmy has shown no interest in helping me in the kitchen. If given the opportunity, Hamlet would throw the eggs on the cat, sprinkle the sugar into his mouth and run around the house holding sticks of melting butter hostage. 

The learning tower, which Robby artfully utilized to help me in the kitchen, is frequently disassembled and stowed in the corner because Timmy uses it to climb onto the counters, to reach the water dispenser on the refrigerator or to play in the sink. Even though we have yet to be successful, I have not fully abandoned my baking ambitions. Yesterday afternoon I think I discovered a way to intrigue Timmy to participate rather than to just create chaos when we are in the kitchen.

When Robby came home from school yesterday he surprised me by asking if he could bake some cookies. I agreed, handed him the recipe book and watched him get to work. Timmy, seeing his brother at the counter, froze and watched intently. I sensed an opportunity to reintroduce the fun of baking cookies, so I pulled out the learning tower and set it up near Robby.  Timmy climbed up and intently watched everything his brother was doing, frantically trying to help with each step. Robby was a surprisingly patient teacher, allowing his little brother to help unwrap the butter and handle the eggs.

Typically much too busy to help, Timmy was attentive and patient. I think he was just so delighted to be spending time with Robby that he wasn't going to risk running Robby off by misbehaving. As I watched with my heart bursting with love, my boys worked together and whipped up what turned out to be the best cookies I have ever tasted.  I might just have a new baker in the house!


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Phantom Twisting

The relentless cold rain wreaked havoc on my phantom foot yesterday. If the rain hadn't been enough to keep us indoors (in reality it was all the motivation I needed), my twinging non-existent ankle would have kept me sidelined. I knew as soon as I woke up that the phantom pain was going to be an issue. As I have crept into my 40's I've realized that my limb is more accurate than the weather channel at forecasting changes in patterns.

I spent the majority of my day reminding myself that my ankle is not twisted. Physically I was not hurt because the foot was not there. Despite the lack of tissue and bones, my ankle felt like it had been newly twisted. I can only describe the sensation as painfully bizarre. 

Massage, heat and compression all failed to break the phantom twisting. I finally took some ibuprofen, donned my leg and prepared for a day of phantom leg discomfort. I hate bad leg days. Nothing makes me feel as disabled and sours my mood as quickly as hobbling around in pain.

Unable to stop the twisting, I was forced to resort to talking myself through the episode.  It is definitely an odd self-dialog that transpires as I remind myself that my foot is not really hurting because I don't have one. Out of fear of garnering even more glances than usual, I tried to keep my mumbling as quiet as possible when I was forced to venture in public. Thankfully Timmy decided to step up his game and distracted all of our fellow shoppers with his cheerful singing and giggles, masking any self-dialog that might have been audible. 

By mid afternoon the ibuprofen had taken affect, the twisting was starting to lessen, and when Scott came home from work, my leg was nearly normal. I am hoping for fewer pain days this winter.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Squawking

Apparently I was not the only one who was fighting against returning to reality. I think that Timmy has thoroughly enjoyed being the center of his Nana's undivided attention. While I'm sure she found him exhausting, I have no doubt he relished the role of entertainer. Back home in our normal environment, he seemed to go out of his way to find the limelight.

Unfortunately, Timmy doesn't yet seem to know the difference between "good attention" and "bad attention." From his two year old perspective, anytime he is receiving attention, he considers it to be a victory. The fact that he was able to fling an open cup, full of water, from the living room into the kitchen sink was simply a bonus compared to the reaction he received.  (On a side note, he does have a fantastic throwing arm. If he ever learns to harness his talents for good instead of mischief, I think we would be a force on the baseball field.)

I really need to work on tempering my reaction when he is naughty so that he doesn't find it so rewarding. I try to maintain my composure, but after he is found on the kitchen table trying to swing on the chandelier for the third time in an hour, I find myself squawking like an angry chicken. Of course my over-the-top reaction only serves to fuel his mischievous ambitions.

I realize that I am spiraling in the abyss of toddler misdirection. I know that I need to stop reinforcing his naughty behaviors because he is only seeking attention. I need to reinforce the positive while gently correcting those I want to modify. Of course, that task is easier said than done. Thank goodness I don't have any qualms about dyeing my hair, because this little guy is making me go grey quickly!

Monday, December 05, 2016

Whirlwind Rebound

Thursday night was simply surreal. The award reception was hosted in the penthouse of a NYC skyscraper, in close proximity to the Empire State Building. The view from the windows, looking down on the city lit up with Christmas lights, was breathtaking and awe inspiring. The reception, as well as the honor I received, will be held near as highlights of my professional and personal career. 

I was delighted that Scott was able to take off work to accompany me to the reception. With the exception of two funerals, this was the first time that we have traveled alone since Robby was born. It is hard to believe that it has been ten years since we've had a couples vacation!  Our trip was quick, but we crammed as much into our 24 hours away as possible. I really hope it isn't another ten years before we have another opportunity to escape together.

We have returned to reality after an amazing, albeit quick, New York City adventure. Now I'm looking at my short and chubby tree, which although cheerful isn't nearly as grand as the one in Rockefeller Center. I guess I'm going through a bout of post adventure malaise. Even though the time was short, the degree of adventure was great.

This is gearing up to be another busy week, but I'm having a difficult time rebounding from the trip. Of course the fact that I'm fighting a cold is not helping. Hopefully I'll be able to get in gear and back on track because the schedule isn't letting up anytime soon. 




Friday, December 02, 2016

NYC!

Good morning from New York City!

I have never been particularly apt at keeping secrets, but somehow I managed to keep the details of this trip under wraps until it was public knowledge.  Several weeks ago I was notified that I had been selected to receive the Henry Viscardi Achievement Award.  This international award recognizes individuals with disabilities who are making an impact in the community.  

Last night was made even more special because another honoree is my dear friend Dave.  Dave is my podcast and advocacy partner in crime.  Scott and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing the evening with Dave and his wife Cara.  






Thursday, December 01, 2016

Tom Price and the Future of Prosthetic Care and Policy

President-Elect Trump has made some important nominations administrative positions in the past few days. In terms of prosthetic care, the most relevant positions are Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services and Seema Verma for the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  These appointments have provided more clues as we try to predict the future of prosthetic care and policy in the new administration.

Yesterday Dave and I recorded another podcast where we dissected health care legislation previously proposed by Price. While we do not expect all of his proposals to be enacted, this legislation is a valuable indicator for his governing priorities as he assumes this important post in the Cabinet.

The podcast can be accessed on this blog, or downloaded through this link.  Enjoy!



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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Going For Gold

Last night was a big night in our house.  After months of practicing, Robby went for his Tae Kwon Do gold belt. To say that he was petrified would be an understatement. Despite hours of preparation, he was terrified when his time came for the exam.

Even though I had full confidence in his success, I have to admit that I was nervous watching him on the mat. He looked so scared and timid. I wanted to run out and hug him, but I knew that he needed to go solo.

After a shaky start, he calmed down and nailed the exam. We now have a proud gold belt in our household. Robby was beaming all night, proudly calling everybody he thought might care on our drive home.  I don't think that his Tae Kwon Do classes have improved his self-defense skills, but I must say that it has done wonders for his confidence.



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Itchies

I have been fortunate when it comes to tolerating various materials against my limb. I don't react to much and have not had to deal with chronic rashes like many of my friends. Unfortunately I'm worried that my streak of good fortunate might be coming to an end. 

Yesterday my leg became increasingly itchy throughout the day. It began in the morning with an occasional itch. By the time I left to pick up Robby I felt like I was scratching at my thigh like a junk yard dog attacking fleas. It wasn't my entire leg (thank goodness because I might have scratched myself bloody if it were) but rather just the rim where my liner ends and grasps onto my thigh. 

When I took the time to remove my leg and liner I discovered a thin line of red bumps circling my thigh. Many of the bumps were blistered and others were scabbing over because I scratched them open. I don't know why, after more than a decade of being an amputee, I have developed a reaction to my liner. I'm hoping that this is an isolated anomaly and isn't heralding a new skin sensitivity.

I guess this is just another reminder of the fragility of my mobility. One component malfunction, or a skin breakdown, can sideline me. Thankfully the outbreak seems to be contained to a relatively thin line. I was generous with the hydrocortizone cream last night and I'm hoping that I won't have any more issues. Fingers crossed that the itchies stay away today!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Christmas Tree Farm

Well, our week of Thanksgiving family fun has drawn to a close. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with my Mom, and I know that Robby loved playing with all of his cousins. Unfortunately all good things must end, and Saturday we packed up and headed home. I always feel a little blue when Thanksgiving week ends, but I know that I'll be back in our routine and in the festive mood in a day or two.

Yesterday, in an attempt to infuse our home with holiday spirit, we headed out in search of our Christmas tree.  Before we left I proclaimed that we were going to select and cut down the perfect tree, and that we weren't going to stop looking until we found one high enough to touch our 12 foot ceiling in the living room. My priorities quickly shifted from height to fullness when I learned that the Christmas tree farm priced the trees at $10 a foot, meaning that my original target would have cost at least $120. We collectively embraced the notion that a short and wide tree would be just as festive as one which is grand and tall.

We we scoured the farm for our newly defined perfect tree, short and fat. We finally stumbled upon our selection after walking and comparing evergreen trees for almost an hour. Scott was quick to point out that the tree Robby and I finally chose was the first one he pointed out, directly next to the path where we started our quest. Always a good sport, his frustrations with my indecision waned quickly as he and Robby set out to cut down our stocky, plus sized tree. 

After setting up the tree and stringing the lights, it is hard to tell who is enthralled more: Timmy or the cats. Both spent an excessive amount of time lying underneath the boughs, staring at the colorful lights. Both batted at the branches and seemed amused by reflection of the lights in the window. Both cats already tried to climb the tree, and I suspect that Timmy's climbing ambition was cut short by his bedtime.

It has become quite clear that we are going to need to gate off our tree again this year.  Between the cats and our toddler, our stocky evergreen doesn't stand a chance. At this point I'm wishing that we hadn't chosen one quite so wide because I'm not sure we have enough gates to create a complete barrier. If we don't, our husky little tree won't stand a chance of witnessing Santa's arrival. 

**Speaking of Santa, if you are shopping on Amazon this holiday season, please consider using the link on the side of this blog.  Your shopping experience will be the same, but this blog will earn a small commission for each sale. All monies are used to further advocacy and outreach efforts.







Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from the Chenoweth Family!!

Yesterday, in an effort to provide my Mom with some much needed quiet time we packed up the kids and headed to Chocolate World for a few hours.  The older cousins were excited to make their own candy bar, while Timmy was content to people watch from his stroller. 

After my niece and nephews left to go to their dad's for the holiday we all got to work around the house.  Robby and Nana tackled the stuffing (per tradition) while Scott and I worked to get the house cleaned up and ready for company.  We stopped when Snoopy Thanksgiving started to play on the TV, but we finish up this morning.

I hope everybody has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 






Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! 

Scott arrived early evening yesterday and the boys couldn't have been happier.  Timmy seemed especially delighted with his arrival, running around in circles while squealing. Scott probably received so many hugs from Timmy that we all lost count, and we were sure that Hamlet's little arms were tired. 

Today it is all hands on deck as we hustle around to clean and cook in preparation for tomorrow.  Of course, in a house with five kids in the house it feels like we are trying to bail water out of the Titanic with a ladle.  Right now my Mom's living room floor looks like the toy aisle in Walmart after a Black Friday rush.

If you are traveling today, please be safe. If you are with family and friends already, enjoy your time. If you are lonely, feel free to contact me. I'll be happy to chat anytime!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Mommy Shamers

As a Mom I am constantly second guessing myself. I try to appear confident in front of my kids mainly because they feed off of insecurities. If Robby senses that I am hedging on a decision, he will do his best to nudge me in the direction of his choice. If I stand firm, even if inside I am teetering, he tends to accept his fate with more grace.

I've discovered that the majority of parents suffer from the same insecurities. We worry about whether or not our decisions, actions and choices will help or hinder our kids. Since deep down we are all uncertain to some degree; there is no need to judge each other. 

Over the weekend I had a classic "mommy shaming" encounter. I posted a photo of Timmy raiding the candy bowl. I know I'm biased, but his mischievous smile was particularly adorable and I thought that my friends and family on social media would enjoy seeing him. Within minutes of posting, the mommy shamer struck opting to ignore my son in the photo and instead commenting on the baby bottle in the background.

I chose not to engage the judgemental comment because I knew that it would only lead to hurt feelings and damaged relationships. Although I didn't respond, my family quickly came to my defense by calling out the mommy shamer. The thread exploded, and I ended up deleting the photo. Quickly after deleting my photo I read a post from the shamer, publicly blasting my parenting. Her thread quickly gained momentum and I was flabbergasted as strangers jumped aboard the shaming train. I was referred to as a "lazy breeder," and a "downright incompetent parent." All of these vile accusations were thrown simply because of a bottle in the background of a photo. 

The blasting of me was hurtful, but when I read my Hamlet being ridiculed as a "grunter," I almost imploded. Judging my parenting is discouraging and disappointing; passing that judgement onto my toddler is utterly repugnant and unacceptable. 

I don't understand the mommy shamers of the world. Being a parent is hard under the best circumstances. Dealing with opinionated shamers only throws more obstacles in our path. I don't agree with all of the decisions I see my friends making for their families, but I respect their choices for their families. I would never feel obliged to interject my personal opinions into their lives, and I certainly don't judge people for how they are raising their children. I wish others would offer the same courtesy. A little more support and a lot less shame would benefit everybody.

Monday, November 21, 2016

My Favorite Week

This is one of my favorite weeks of the year!  I have always loved Thanksgiving. The gathering of family and friends (around obscene amounts of food) with no expectation or pressure of providing gifts is uplifting and wonderful.  Per our tradition, I am already up at my Mom's house to help her get ready and to enjoy a full week of quality time with her.

Next year Robby will be switching schools, and his schedule will probably drastically alter our week of Thanksgiving and family fun. In reality, this may be the last year that we are able to escape for the entire week. It saddens me when I think that our tradition may be coming to an end, so I am going to do what I do best and just ignore the inevitable and concentrate on the present. 

Happy Thanksgiving Week!!


Friday, November 18, 2016

Ready to Hibernate

It's the middle of November and so far we have been lucky with mild temperatures. This weekend our luck is supposed to change as more seasonal temperatures are expected to roll into the area. The dropping thermometer means it is time to pull out the flannel sheets and light up the wood stove. I know I will feel differently in February, but right now I'm excited about the colder weather.

In addition to digging out sweaters and cuddly pajamas, it is time to organize my tube sock collection. When it is frigid outside, I can be found by the fireplace with a slipper on my foot and a tube sock on my limb. If I don't keep my limb covered, it becomes cold to the point of being painful. Keeping it covered with a large tube sock helps, but when it is extremely cold I have to pull out the hand warmers.

I now buy hand warmers by the case and use them liberally during the winter. I found that throwing one in the bottom of my socket will keep my limb warm and cozy throughout the day. At night I'll activate another hand warmer and put it between two layers of socks on my limb. It is important to note that I never put the hand warmer directly on my skin. Instead, my limb is always buffered by either my liner or a tube sock.

Yesterday Amazon delivered another case of hand warmers, so I am officially ready for winter. Bring on the snow days, the crisp air and the cold and quiet nights. I'm ready to hibernate for awhile.

**Incidentally, if you plan on shopping on Amazon, please consider using the link on the sidebar of this blog. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

My New Foot


I have been waiting to write about my new foot until I was able to put it through its paces. I've been an amputee long enough to recognize that I always love a new foot for the first day or two. It is after it is worn consistently that I really develop a feel (and an appreciation or aversion) to the device. I wanted to make sure that my first impression was lasting before I took to my blog.

After wearing my new Pro-Flex with Pivot foot for a few weeks, I continue to be impressed by the device. I am as excited about walking with this foot today as I was three weeks ago when I took my first steps with it. From the smooth roll-over to the swing pick up of the toe, this is by far the most normal feeling foot that I have ever worn.

Keeping up with Timmy is not an easy feat. My little Hamlet is adventurous, quick and into everything. I am constantly running after him, pulling him off of obstacles and physically redirecting him to other (usually safer) activity choices. I was struggling to keep up with him while wearing my other foot. While it was fine for walking and some activity, I never felt confident chasing after him on uneven terrain. I feel much more comfortable knowing that I can run after him, maneuver through environmental obstacles and turn quickly when necessary. As soon as he learns how to talk I'm sure that Timmy will be voicing his displeasure to Ossur for making a foot that allows his Mom to catch him. 

I wore my Pro-Flex when I was taking the Taekwondo class with Robby. I was able not only to keep up with the class but I also managed to impress my not-easily-impressed ten year old.  Lately he is quick to criticize just about everything I do, but even he gave me kudos for completing the class without slacking.

I have always leaned towards function over fashion, but the fact that my new foot comes with a black spectra sock is like the icing rose on a cupcake. (The spectra sock is the sock between the carbon fiber foot and the plastic foot shell.) The black just looks sleeker, it blends in with the ankle components and doesn't show dirt. (Trust me, Timmy and I get into a lot of dirt!)

The wonderful thing about prosthetics is the variety on the market. What works for one individual may not feel comfortable or natural for another. It is all about choices and options. For me, I'm delighted with my Pro-Flex and I feel like a kid at Christmas with a new toy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Museum Mayhem.

Sigh.  Yesterday was not my best. I woke up optimistic and excited about chaperoning Robby's class field trip.  I went to bed feeling like a deflated failure. The hours between I contended with a tantrum prone, sleep deprived, overstimulated, angry two year old.  If I had known that I was going to be waging war with my toddler I would have worn more battle worthy clothing to the museum. Wearing uncomfortable pants and a scratchy (yet unstained) shirt only added to my frustrations.

Robby loves going to the Air and Space Museum and was eager to share his favorite exhibits with his classmates. I had planned on meandering through the complex with Timmy while Robby was engaged with the class tour. Unfortunately, Timmy had plans of his own and was determined and undeterred.

While I thought that Timmy would enjoy looking at the planes, he was hell bent on boarding them. Whenever possible he tried to crawl over or wiggle under the barricades. He viewed the barriers as obstacles which only added to the challenge of reaching his final destination. I spent the first twenty minutes of our museum experience prying his tight little fingers off of the metal dividers as he frantically tried to penetrate the blockade.

Many of the planes at the museum have endured through air combat and flying through treacherous conditions. Fearful that they would meet their demise at the hands of my naughty little Timmy, I decided to take him away from the exhibits.  He disagreed with that decision and opted instead to participate in a one person protest. He lay prone on the museum floor and screamed.

I tried to pick him up only to be countered by a toddler plank maneuver. I managed to carry my stiff, red faced little tyrant to an isolated corner of the museum where he continued his protest. It took him awhile, but he finally realized that his efforts were not going to be rewarded. He stopped screaming but continued to resist my efforts to keep him from crossing the barriers. 

In retrospect, I think that Timmy's desire to interact with the displays was based on experience.  He has been to several "you touch" museums in the recent months. After being encouraged to physically interact with the exhibits at other museums, it must have been quite frustrating to have his efforts thwarted.  Unfortunately attempts at engaging in a logical explanation with a two-year-old is fruitless, so we are going to avoid traditional museums for the time being. I'm sure that our fellow museum loving patrons will thank us for staying home.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Taekwondo Class

This week is "bring a family member to class" week at Robby's Taekwondo studio. I wasn't terribly thrilled with the idea of abandoning my perch in the spectator row, but Robby seemed excited and and determined that I participate. Last night I dug my work out clothes out of the bottom of my dresser drawer, smoothed out the wrinkles and went to Taekwondo with my ten-year-old.

I love that the fact that I'm an amputee never crossed Robby's mind as a potential excuse for my not participating. Parents were invited so he assumed that I would and that I could participate. He was more concerned with my ability to keep up with the class because of my age, an accusation I interpreted as a gauntlet. Pain and fatigue be damned, I was not going to be out performed by my child. 

I can't say that I enjoyed class, but I know that Robby seemed to love the novelty of my being there. While I was concentrating on staying erect, Robby was giggling and encouraging me to continue. The forms and exercises are certainly more labor intensive than they look from the comfort of the spectator seats. I was prepared for the class to be tiring, but I was caught off guard by the difficulty level.  After actively participating, I have a whole new appreciation for the skills that Robby is mastering.

My moves were clumsy and my punches were off-center and weak, but I never gave up and I kept moving.  At the end of class, Robby congratulated me and told me that I made him proud.  I guess this old woman still has a trick or two up her sleeve.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Water Park Fun

After an emotionally wrought election week, we were delighted to pack our bags and head out of town for a few days. This time we headed into the mountains to check out what has been named one of the top ten water parks in America.  Robby was delighted with our getaway and, although Timmy was too young to realize that where we were going, he seemed to feed off the excitement as we packed to leave. 

Timmy may not have understood where we were heading, but he certainly reacted strongly when he saw the water park for the first time. He jumped up and down, clapped his hands and frantically started saying yes as he pointed to the park through the glass enclosure. We could hardly keep him still enough to slip on his life vest when we entered the park.

Robby loved the big slides, the faster the spins and larger the drops the better. Before Friday I have never been on a water slide that resembled a roller coaster. It turns out that it is entirely possible to become motion sick on a water slide. Of course the inertia twisting slides were Robby's favorite. (On another note, body cork screw slides are not advisable for women. I felt like I had given birth to a water balloon when I finally managed to climb out of the pool.)

Because Robby is only ten, he was supposed to be accompanied by an adult at all times. Of course somebody needed to be with Timmy, who is an ambitious yet inexperienced water bug. The boys have vastly different swimming and physical abilities, which meant that Scott and I needed to go into divide and conquer mode for the weekend.

I spent most of the time with Robby while Scott played with Timmy on the pint sized structures. We saw each other for passing through the sprinklers and slides in the water park, and in the evening before we collapsed from exhaustion.  Thankfully neither of us viewed our getaway as romantic, so we weren't disappointed.

This weekend was about being with the kids and just having fun. Scott and I were able to disconnect enough to forget about the stresses of our jobs which was liberating! Playing in the water, we entered a political void where we just splashed and laughed. Simply put, our weekend was fantastic and just what we needed to recover from the blows of the past few weeks.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A Video and a Podcast (and my Walking Day)

Happy Walking Day to me!



13 years ago I took my first prosthetic steps.  My journey has many milestones, including the day I was injured and the date of my amputation.  My Walking Day is the most joyful to remember, and the anniversary I choose to celebrate.  This is the anniversary of the date I reclaimed my life.

On another note, yesterday Dave and I spent an hour recording an important podcast. In our non-partisan recording, we systematically dissected the healthcare proposals of both President-elect Trump and the Republican Party.  Although we cannot definitively detail the future of prosthetic care, we were able to glean enough insights to make some solid predictions.

This is a long podcast (an hour) but we cover a lot of information. If you are curious about the potential impact of the new administration's policies on your prosthetic care, please listen and share. While Dave and I have our own personal opinions, we worked hard to produce an even-toned, non-partisan recording explaining the implications of the combined plans on prosthetic care.  I understand that everybody has reached political saturation, but I promise you this recording does not bash nor praise a political party or official. It simply conveys rather complex information in an easy to digest format.

Click here for the link to download the podcast.  If you would prefer to listen to the recording in this blog, you can simply press the play button below.  Enjoy!



powered by podcast garden

Thursday, November 10, 2016

It's Okay

I won't lie, yesterday was difficult. Today I am taking a deep breath and moving forward. In a way we are all living in our own version of reality, true to ourselves but probably strange and foreign to anybody else.  If I needed to try to explain or justify my feelings surrounding this election, then you wouldn't understand anyway and that is okay.

That's my point today; it's okay to disagree. It is okay to debate, tease and even gloat a little bit. If you want to sing "We are the Champions" at the top of your lungs because your candidate won the election then that is your prerogative.  But don't devalue the emotions and reactions from the other half of the population, the side that did not win the electoral college. This election was vicious and brought out the worst in our country. Unfortunately, it seems that the conclusion has not silenced the vicious rhetoric.

We all need to calm down, push the feelings to the side (yes, again I will rely upon avoidance) and move forward. Let's agree to talk with friends and family who understand our reaction to the election, whether it be on the side of victory or defeat. For the time being, I would like to see an end to the debate, the constant bickering and the fruitless attempts to change opinions. At this point, opinions are set and are not vulnerable to influence. Attempts to sway are only increasing the divide within our country. 

Later this morning I will be recording a podcast exploring the possible implications with prosthetic care as a result of the change in leadership. Of course we do not yet know definitely what will happen, but we will attempt to decipher the clues that have been given throughout the campaign. I hope that you will tune in and listen. Regardless of where you land on the political spectrum, information is power.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

In Our House- Love will ALWAYS Conquer Hate

I am not sure how I am going to explain the results of the election to Robby when he wakes up. He is old enough to comprehend the erratic and undignified antics of our President-elect throughout this election cycle. Robby knows that bullying, degrading and intimidating people is wrong, yet last night the poster child for these antics was elected to the highest office in our country.

From mimicking an individual with disabilities to the fear mongering of other ethnic and religious groups, we do not condone the behaviors that have been demonstrated. I can only hope that he will settle down and veil himself in the dignity of the office he is about to assume. At this time, I do not want my boys to use our President-elect as a role model.

I made this last night as the results started to filter in throughout the country. Each link features a different random act of kindness. Every day we will open a link and follow through with the challenge. We will little sparks of compassion and love throughout our community, hoping to ignite a fire of acceptance and inclusivity.

In our house, nobody will be excluded or mocked because of disability or accents.

In our house, we will never tolerate bullying.

In our house, we always pay our debts.

In our house, we welcome those who need a fresh start.

In our house, we never turn away somebody in need.

In our house, cultural diversity is celebrated and never feared.

In our house, we seek knowledge not sound bites.

In our house, we do not manipulate and scheme to avoid paying our share of taxes.

In our house, we aspire to be better than those whom we just elected.

In our house, we work to make a difference everyday because we know that real change always starts with grassroots.

In our house, love will always conquer hate.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Happy Election Day!

Happy Election Day!

This election cycle has been especially repugnant, and I'm delighted to see it finally come to a conclusion. A few weeks ago I reached my negativity saturation point, prompting me to become proactive. I started unfollowing everybody who posted vitriol memes, distasteful or nasty posts/ comments and blatant political lies. Regardless of party affiliation, if a post violated one of my parameters, the offender has been unfollowed. Since that time I have been forced to unfollow so many "friends" on Facebook that my wall is sparse with new updates.

After today, I'm looking forward to returning to a civil social discourse. Of course whoever wins today, 50% of the population will consider themselves the vindicated victors while the other 50% will begin expounding rhetoric blasting the President-elect. I just want to return to the world of simple status updates, sharing funny cat cartoons and swapping recipes. Much to my chagrin, I'm fairly certain that the social experience has been forever changed. 



Monday, November 07, 2016

Sentenced to Hard Labor

Robby Rotten came out in force over the weekend. Despite numerous warnings, stern lectures and forced reflection, he continued his snarky and disrespectful behaviors. I was left with no other options but to abandon our weekend plans, drive home and sentence him to hard labor outside.

Scott and I are in agreement that we need to act both swiftly and strongly to make an impression on our little pre-teen. He was most displeased when we repossessed his Xbox controllers and handed him a rake. He was sentenced to working outside until the sun set. After numerous pleas for mercy, each one becoming more desperate, he finally relented. Five hours later he came inside, tired but lacking the snarky arrogance that was previously oozing from each pore.

Today after school he will continue to serve his sentence, finishing our work outside. Once everything is done in the yard he can come inside, where he can begin vacuuming and cleaning the bathrooms. He really shouldn't complain. With all electronics banned for the week, in a way I am showing mercy by helping him fill his empty hours.

I really don't enjoy being a disciplinarian, but I accept the role because I don't want to raise a little hellion. I much prefer the role of fun Momom, always planning adventures and orchestrating special treats. Being the disciplinarian is not a role I relish, but I am committed to correcting his behavior. Hopefully coming down swiftly will leave a lasting impression.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Over Analyzing

Happy Friday!

After surviving the week which I have been dreading for months, I am delighted to reach Friday. I'm looking forward to a weekend of relaxing, sleeping (a mom can dream, right?) and re-centering my priorities. I know that I have a lot of decisions to make, but it is never advantageous to make a major life change while feeling stressed and exhausted.  I'm hoping to use the next few days to rebuild my own strength (emotionally and physically) so that I can figure out which path I want to pursue. 

I regret that I was in such a hurry to grow up. I look at Robby and Timmy's lives and wish I could turn back the clock to my own childhood.  I don't mean to devalue their own frustrations. While their feelings are real, the consequences of their actions have smaller ripples. When you become an adult with a family and children who depend upon you, it feels as if every decision creates a tidal wave that can either be surfed into the sunset or can wipe out your entire homestead.  Looking at my kids playing, it makes making even the smallest life change terrifying!


Thursday, November 03, 2016

Hamster Wheel

I was busy with work and meetings all day, yet it felt as if I accomplished nothing. I hate days where I feel like I'm running on a hamster wheel, wearing out in my efforts to go nowhere.  Because this is my blog and I feel comfortable complaining, I also have a sore throat. I am sure that my inability to comfortable swallow and eat is contributing to my downtrodden mood. 

While I had to go into the office for meetings, Timmy spent some time "at school."  He was most unhappy when he realized that I was going to be leaving him there. He ran to the door and peered out the window as I walked away.  I was reassured by the teacher that he quickly calmed down and began to play. However, the fact that he was still standing by the door with his face pressed against the same window when I arrived to pick him up three hours later casts some doubt on her story. Even if he wasn't happy, I know that he was safe.

Today I am hoping to finish at least one project on my list. I have taken bites out of everything, but I know that I will feel better when I can fully cross an item off of my list. If I'm feeling better as the day progresses, I might even go for two. Of course, that all depends upon how much work my curious little Hamlet will allow. Some days he is content to play with his cars and planes while other times he is nonstop energy. I never really know which Timmy I am going to greet in the morning.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Stranger Shaming

My social network is diverse and represents just about every political and religious viewpoint. I learned a long time ago that debates via social media are fruitless ventures that only serve to increase frustrations, hurt relationships and waste time. When I don't agree with a status message, viewpoint or political statement, I am more apt to just scroll past it rather than engage.  Yesterday I read a status on Facebook that bothered me to the point where I felt compelled to respond.

A high school friend posted an observation from Halloween in his neighborhood. The focus of his post was  a child who was being chauffeured from house to house to trick-or-treat.  He was flabbergasted that a child was being driven through the neighborhood and between houses rather than walking. Immediately the thread blew up with condemnation of the parents as being "lazy" and the child was dubbed "spoiled."  According to the comments, this situation exemplified all that is wrong with this country, with parents and with children today.

I tried to just log off and move on, but it kept nagging at me. I found the comments so judgmental that, for me, it bordered on offensive. Not one person stopped to question the reason why the child was being driven. Instead, they immediately jumped to the conclusion that the parents were lazy or that the child was spoiled. I decided to interject into the discussion in defense of the family.

While it is easy to cast blame and judgment, nobody really knew the situation of the family. Perhaps the child was ill or overcoming an illness. Perhaps there was a new baby who would have been too cold in a stroller. Perhaps the parents just finished working a double shift and they were too exhausted to walk through the neighborhood. Instead of having their child miss out on the event, they instead opted to drive him around.  Maybe, just maybe, one of the parents had a mobility issue which made walking difficult. Any of these situations, along with countless other scenarios, are all plausible reasons for the family opting to drive their little trick-or-treater through the neighborhood.

I felt the need to defend the family whom I do not know, because I immediately recognized that they could easily have been me or so many of my friends. There have been situations where walking has been painful and I have opted for a "short cut" so that Robby or Timmy could still participate in an activity. I have used my handicapped tag to park closer on those pesky bad leg days, and have felt the wrathful glare of onlookers. I hear the comments from other parents when I ask my 10 year old to help his brother up the slide because I needed to sit down for a minute.  Little do they know that my prosthesis is cutting into my leg and that I am walking with an open sore. I may not be as active as I would like, but I was enduring a lot of pain because I didn't want my kids to miss out. 

The thread I read enlightened me to the fact that I have probably been the subject of a similar online rant, with the judgment brigade quickly commenting on my "lazy parenting" and "spoiled children." These strangers did not know, nor did they care to learn, that I was doing the best I could given my less than ideal circumstances.  It saddens me that we live in a society where  casting judgment and shaming strangers has become the norm and, in an odd way, a new form of social entertainment.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Stranded

Yesterday Timmy and I were cruising on the highway during DC rush hour, trying to get to Robby's school on time. I wasn't speeding, but I was definitely going with the speed of traffic. All of a sudden my car started dinging, and I saw a warning light that said that the water temperature was high.  As soon as glanced at the temperature gauge and realized that the needle was close to the top I noticed smoke begin to billow out from under the hood. 

I don't know much about cars, but I knew enough to pull over to the side of the road. I put on my emergency flashers, turned off the engine and called Scott.  After talking me off of my panicked perch, I restarted the car. I was hoping to make it to the next exit (less than one mile away) where I knew I could safely park at the gas station.  My car had a different idea.  I drove about 400 feet and the dash started dinging and the smoke returned. 

Again I pulled over on the side of the highway. This time I turned off the engine completely and called Scott, requesting that he send for a tow truck. (My battery was running low and I worried about using any of the remaining power.) Sitting helplessly in my stranded car with my toddler while waiting for the tow truck was one of the most frightening experiences in recent memory.

Traffic was whizzing by at 70 mph and only becoming thicker. Although I was on the side of the road, the shoulder was narrow and uncomfortably close to the road. I had no barrier from the passing traffic and I felt like we were at the mercy of every driver who passed. If one had not been paying attention, it would have been easy to strike our sitting target.  (Incidentally, three marked police cars passed us in the adjoining lane as we were stranded on shoulder. For whatever reason, not one stopped to render assistance. I have to admit I was disappointed. )

Thankfully Scott was able to convince AAA that we were in a dangerous situation, and our tow was prioritized. Our anticipated 45 minute wait was reduced to only 15 minutes. With Timmy howling and the cars whipping by our window, each minute felt like an eternity. I was never so happy to see a tow truck in my life!

Timmy did not enjoy being stranded, but he thoroughly loved riding in the tow truck. He giggled and babbled the entire drive, squealing with delight as he bounced up and down in his car seat. I think I might have a budding truck lover on my hands. 

Hopefully the culprit of our car woes will be relatively easy (and cheap) to fix. Fingers crossed!  In the meantime, enjoy these photo snippets from our Halloween.