About Me

My photo
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.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ninja Fail

I have been having really bad luck with electronic devices lately.  Last week I was forced to buy a new television when a toddler thrown projectile cracked the screen of our existing television.  I know that Timmy didn't mean to break the television, but the end result was the same regardless of his motivation. 

The morning after we hung our new television I began to experience issues with my Ninja Coffee pot. After coveting the Ninja Coffee for months, Scott bought me the elaborate pot for my birthday in May. I was delighted with all of the bells and whistles, and until recently it made a great cup of coffee.

Unfortunately, the bells and whistles only worked for a few months.  Despite running the clean cycle numerous times, including twice with the cleaner sold by the company, the pesky clean light remains illuminated. The light is annoying, especially considering the expense of the Ninja system, but it is now interfering with the performance of the machine. Each morning I never really know the amount I am going to see in the carafe. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  Playing roulette with my coffee is not advantageous!

I called the company a few days ago and discovered that the pricey pretty pot was not paired with helpful customer service. After checking the serial numbers and documenting the issues, the customer non-service representative agreed that the pot was under warranty. The company representative informed me that a lot of customers were experiencing issues with the clean light (a fact I already surmised after reading their Facebook page) and that they were prepared to offer me a remedy. For a mere $20 the company would mail me the replacement part necessary to repair the known issue with the machine. 

I was appalled that I was expected to pay $20 to cover "shipping and handling" for a repair piece for a machine under warranty.  After questioning the charge, I was automatically referred to the warranty agreement I "accepted when I purchased the machine."  I was insulted by the true lack of interest demonstrated by the company representatives and have vowed to never send them another cent.  I will not support a company that does not stand behind its products or its customers.

Last night I experienced a customer service exchange that was actually polite and helpful.  To my frustration, I went to turn on my new computer and discovered that it had malfunctioned.  Less than one month old, I was frustrated and immediately called Lenovo.  After answering a few questions, I was encouraged to return it to the store for an exchange.

I no longer had the receipt, but BJs Wholesale Club was able to look up the purchase and refunded my money without an issue.  After such a frustrating experience with Coffee Ninja to secure a simple replacement part, it was refreshing to interact with a company that values the customer service experience.  Because of this quick and courteous exchange, I will definitely be buying my next coffee pot (NOT a Coffee Ninja) at BJs!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New Liners

I decided to escalate my issue with my insurance adjuster by sending her a copy of yesterday's blog.  She never acknowledged receipt of the link, but I am happy to report that by mid afternoon my liners were finally approved. I can't definitely say that my blog influenced the approval, but it is certainly a strong causal relationship. Whatever the prompt, I'm happy that this battle is now over and I'm looking forward to receiving my new liners. My limb will be grateful when I finally throw away this tattered (and rather odoriferous) liner.  

My leg has been feeling "off" lately. I wouldn't say that I've been in pain, but rather I have been acutely aware of my prosthetic use. I'm optimistic that the new liners will help to correct the situation and I will return to normal.   

Robby's extra curricular schedule has kicked into overdrive.  Every day we are going to at least one, sometimes two, activities after I pick him up from school. Some days I feel like I am more of a taxi driver and waitress than anything else. I suppose this is typical of a parent of a tween.

Thankfully Timmy enjoys going on community trips, and has grown into a good little traveler. I've managed to locate all of the play areas in the vicinity of each of his brother's activities, which helps to stem his boredom and gives us a purpose while his brother is occupied with his class and/or lesson.   

With our growing calendar, trying to fit trips to Elliot (my prosthetist) would be overwhelming. Fingers crossed the new liners will fix my issues, because I really don't have time for major tweaks right now!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Keep Fighting

Living with a disability is exhausting. I'm not tired because I use a prosthesis, and I consider myself lucky not to battle constant phantom pain. Instead of physical causes, my fatigue stems from constantly being in a battle.  After more than a decade of fighting, I am becoming battle weary. I just wish that getting what I need to live a full life as an amputee wasn't so unnecessarily complicated.

Nearly a month ago I started the process for new liners. I visited my doctor and secured the proper prescription. I also made sure that the need was properly documented in my medical file. (In many ways I'm lucky because I know exactly how the notes need to read, and how the prescription should be worded.) The paperwork, along with my prosthetists notes and documentation, were submitted to my insurance adjuster.  Receipt of the request has been acknowledged in August, but I am still walking around on hole-riddled liners.  

Numerous calls to my adjuster have yielded only curtly worded justifications for the delay. At this time she is "evaluating" the request. The whole concept of "evaluating" my need for prosthetic liners baffles me. My amputee status is not going to change, and liners are considered standard for prosthetic use. The liners are off the shelf and are about as no-frills as you can get. I'm not asking for anything spectacular, out of the norm or groundbreaking. I'm just asking for the supplies I need to continue to live my ambulatory life.   

 In addition to my own insurance battle, I am actively lobbying against the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill. This bill would remove Essential Health Benefit mandates, leaving every amputee at risk for the return of lifetime maximums and unattainable prosthetic coverage. The bill would also allow insurers to financially penalize those with pre-existing conditions by charging more for less coverage. Those who are living with a pre-existing condition, which incidentally is approximately 75% of all individuals between 45-54 and 84% of those age 55-64.  

If you are interested in learning more about the implications of the Graham-Cassidy Bill on the limb loss community, I encourage you to check out this week's podcast on amp'd. Dave and I broke down the complicated legislation and provided template letters to send to your Senators. I'm tired of dealing with insurance and healthcare, but until the battles stop I won't quit.  The stakes, my mobility and prosthetic coverage for my friends, are worth the fight. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Throwing Clay

Friday evening Robby and I were able to cross another item off of our bucket list.  After years of talking about it and never quite getting around to making it happen, we finally took a pottery wheel class. (Thanks Groupon!) I had so much fun spending time learning a new activity with Robby.  

Despite having no experience with a pottery wheel, Robby was a natural. After watching the teacher, he was able to replicate the project, a bowl, with seemingly little effort. I was not nearly as adept with the clay, but I after some extra instruction (and a quick patch job from the teacher) I was able to create a quasi lopsided bowl.  In this family, Robby definitely has the artistic abilities.

On Saturday we packed up and headed to the parade and community street fair. Robby strutted down the route like a proud peacock, waving to everybody and enthusiastically demonstrating his Taekwondo skills. I cheered and followed him along the sidelines throughout the route so that we could walk back together. Towards the end of the route he was chosen to break a board, which was undoubtedly the highlight of the event. (He would like me to include the fact that he broke it on his first time, using an ax kick.)

After the parade we walked through the fair, visiting with the vendors and collecting bags of freebies and giveaways. By the time we reached the car I was loaded down like a pack mule with assorted branded junk. Robby had a great time unpacking all of our swag bags, carefully sorting everything in piles. He was smiling and unveiling each item like it was a trophy, but I couldn't help but think that the last thing I needed was more piles of crap on my kitchen table.  

All told it was a good weekend. I was able to take a much needed nap on Sunday, and I'm feeling stronger and more centered for the week ahead.  Hopefully it will be a good week.


Friday, September 15, 2017

LONG Week

Oh my goodness this week put me through the wringer. Between Timmy being ill, Scott being grumpy because of work issues and Robby starting a myriad of extracurricular activities, I feel like I have been run ragged. I'm so glad that the weekend is upon us, although I am ignoring the glaring reality that my schedule is not going to lessen over the next few days. For some reason I keep thinking that the weekend will allow me to rest, but when kids are involved that rarely becomes my reality. Instead, during my autumn weekends I find myself desperately trying to keep the kids entertained and quiet so Scott can enjoy his football games. (Side note, I have learned to hate football season!)

Robby has been invited to participate in a local parade tomorrow. He's excited to march with his Taekwondo friends, and I wouldn't want him to miss the opportunity. I'm dreading the parking lot obstacle course, fighting the crowds to secure a good vantage point and wrangling Timmy throughout the 3 hour event.  (We have to arrive 90 minutes before the parade begins.) I'm sure that Timmy will have a blast, but I'm setting the bar to survival for me.   

After the parade we are headed to a World War II weekend in Gettysburg.  Robby is looking forward to viewing the tanks and visiting with veterans and reenactors, and I'm sure that Timmy will enjoy seeing the machines and hanging out with his brother. Looking at military arsenals isn't exactly my favorite activity, but I know that the boys will love it. Sunday I have no real plans, so I'm hoping that I can sleep-in, catch up on some work and just relax. Hopefully the stars will align and my wish will be granted!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Perfect Pitch

Did you ever have a day where everything seemed to be working against you? From the moment I woke up to when I finally fell into bed at night, it felt as if just about everything was working against me. By mid afternoon I found myself fighting the urge to build and hide from the world in a pillow fort.  

Of course, had I built a pillow fort I probably would have fallen asleep.  Despite being sick, Timmy was up obscenely early. Looking at his little eyes through my tired haze at 4:30 AM, I knew that it was going to be a long day. He was restless the night before, and although he refused to heed my warnings to go back to sleep, I knew that he was going to become tired by mid morning. I also knew that he was going to fight a nap with all of his energies, which typically equates to cranky destruction.

Nothing I was offering could soothe him. He was sick enough to feel icky and grumpy but not ill enough to stay calm and rest. Instead of cuddling and watching cartoons he opted to try to outrun and out maneuver his misery. Unfortunately the more active he became the more miserable he felt, and the cycle continued to spiral throughout the day.  By lunchtime we were both close to tears.

While I was working on dinner in the kitchen, as it turned out a meal which nobody ate, Timmy became frustrated and threw either a remote control or a train. I heard the impact and swooped him up and strapped him into his time-out chair. I made him sit alone while I finished in the kitchen.  If I had known the damage done by the projectile I probably would have been more severe in my punishment.  It wasn't until a few hours later did I realize that his missile had hit the television, cracking the screen.  With a single pitch the television was ruined. 

At this point I broke down and sobbed on the couch.  I manage to dry my tears in time to chauffeur Robby from school to his enrichment art class. While my Koopa Van Gogh was at work on a masterpiece Timmy and I went television shopping. After buying the cheapest television that met our requirements we drove around until it was time to pick up Robby. Timmy fell sound asleep, affording me the only quiet time I had all day. Unfortunately he only slept for a few minutes, but my goodness I needed that time!

The chaos continued well into the evening, until my little Hamlet finally surrendered to his exhaustion. He slept better last night, so I am optimistic for a better day. At this point, I'll be happy with survival without destruction of property.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Rash

Timmy's healthy (with no rashes) streak came to a screeching halt when my speckled little guy was knocked down for the count yesterday afternoon.  He has been feeling well for so long that I began to hope that he had outgrown the autoimmune issues.  Seeing his legs, torso and face covered with spots was a cruel reminder that my seemingly invincible little mischief maker is still weakened. He started the day strong and happy but finished by sleeping through the afternoon on the couch.

Today his rash is still visible although it is changing in appearance. I am going to call the doctor and document with photos, but I know the best thing I can do is keep him quiet at home. Hopefully a day of rest, plenty of fluids and medication will help fade the rash and fever.  It looks like a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Thomas the Train day is in my future.

I hate seeing my little guy sick!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Puppy Love

I don't know what makes a child gravitate towards a specific comfort item, but I do know that the love is specific and deep. Robby had Black Bear. He adored that raggety bear, carrying it around with him everywhere. He slept on Black Bear until he was well into Elementary school, at which point his beloved friend was retired to the bookcase and his assorted stuffed turtles filled the vacancy. 

Timmy adores his blue Puppy Blanket.  He spied Puppy in a bin of old blankets leftover from Robby's childhood.  When Timmy was one year old,  he latched onto the blue plush blanket (with a puppy head and paws sewn on) and they quickly became inseparable. Reminiscent of Linus with his blanket, Timmy always has Puppy within reach when we are inside. If Timmy had his druthers, Puppy would play outside and accompany him everywhere. However, I'm a mean Momom and stick fast to the "no Puppy outside" rule.  

Sneaking Puppy away from Timmy for occasional, yet much needed, runs through the washer has become a full blown stealth mission.  If he sees Puppy in the laundry basket he begins to fret and a meltdown is never far behind. I try to avoid washing Puppy, but yesterday he was pungent from a nighttime diaper failure and the run through the washer could not be delayed.  

As Timmy was busy watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and eating cheese balls, I sneaked Puppy into a box and managed to get him to the washing machine undetected.  After he was washed and while Timmy was busy playing with his trains, I put Puppy into the dryer. I felt pathetically relieved that I had escaped the Puppy needs a bath drama.

Unfortunately I wasn't in the clear. When I retrieved Puppy from the dryer, I was horrified to discover that he had become decapitated while tumbling. I began to panic, fearing Timmy's reaction to seeing his beloved companion in pieces. I grabbed a spool of thread, stuffed the blanket and head up my shirt and ran into the bathroom.  

As I was sitting on the toilet, frantically conducting reattachment surgery on a blanket, I felt like I had reached a whole new level of motherhood: A stage in which I lived in fear of my toddler seeing his comfort item in pieces. I was hoping that I would be able to repair Puppy to the point where the surgery was undetectable, not because I want to keep the blanket pristine but because I wanted to avoid the heartbreak that would ensue. I was working with the diligence of a college student drafting a final essay, concentrating and trying to beat the clock. Only this time the clock wasn't the due date but rather Timmy realizing that I was in the bathroom. In both situations, the stakes were high.

I'm happy to report that Puppy has been repaired and is currently back in the clutches of his not-so-gentle handler. I'm just hoping that his head stays attached until I can fix him properly with my sewing machine. Of course, that is going to take Scott's cooperation to get Timmy out of the house (and preferably the zip code).  He melts down when Puppy goes into the washer, I can't imagine the drama that would occur if he saw him put under the fast moving needle of my sewing machine.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cookie Tradition

Yesterday afternoon I called both boys into the kitchen and invited them to help me make cookies. While they are typically game to help (or to at least snitch the dough when they think I'm not looking), I really wanted them to work together to help bake this batch. I felt a surge of pride and love as I heard his brother take the lead with Timmy, explaining why it was important to follow the recipe "this time."  Instead of correcting him with a reminder that the recipe should always be followed when we bake, I decided to stay silent and let the conversation play out. 

I listened and smiled as Robby intently and patiently explained the significance to his little brother. "A long time ago some bad people crashed planes into buildings. A lot of heroes died that day when they tried to save people because the buildings fell down on them. It was a really REALLY sad thing. The anniversary of that day is sad but Momom and me, and now you too, make cookies to take to the firehouse. We've been doing it since I was a baby.  And if you smile they let you sit in the trucks, so that's a nice trade."
 
Robby has turned into a snarky tween, but it is nice to see glimmers of my sweet little Koopa. I loved watching him interact with his little brother, helping to include him in our family tradition. While I doubt that Timmy understood the story Robby shared, I do know that he was delighted to be spending time with his big brother. It made my heart smile to see them working together and to know that Robby has grasped the significance of our cookie baking tradition.  

Friday, September 08, 2017

Emergency Prep

Scientists have become increasingly adept at predicting both the size and the scope of looming storms. While they are not always 100% on target, their collective forecasts should always be treated with respect and with caution. Hurricane Irma has virtually obliterated the Caribbean Islands (include where Scott and I were married) and the photos that are emerging are incomprehensibly devastating. 

With Texas cleaning up from Harvey, the wildfires ravaging the West and Midwest, and Irma holding Florida in her cross hairs, Dave and I wanted to provide some information about how to prepare for an emergency. Evacuating is always stressful, but the added complication of a mobility impairment can complicate the already difficult situation. 

Yesterday afternoon we recorded a special edition podcast dedicated to emergency preparation for the limb loss community. From how to protect your prosthesis from water damage to safeguarding your limb from infection, tried to cover the various scenarios that may be encountered both those forced to evacuate.  Please take a look at our checklist (www.ampdpod.com) and spend a few moments preparing for the worst case scenario.  

Stay safe and be prepared.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Dedication

A few days ago I received a package in the mail that both surprised and delighted me. Instead of the typical parcel of diapers from Amazon, this package was hand addressed and boasted foreign stamps in the corner. After setting Timmy up with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and a snack, I took my package into the only private place in my home.

Standing in the bathroom, I carefully opened the package and pulled out a paperback book. I opened the book to a flagged page and was gobsmacked. The book was beautifully dedicated to me!  I was left speechless and as giddy as a child on Christmas morning.  

Abby reached out to me last year when she was seeking information to develop a character for her book. I answered her questions, and we corresponded sporadically over the months. I was impressed with her questions and her dedication to portray limb loss in the correct light. The fact that she wanted to make sure that every detail was accurate and true is a testament to her professionalism.

I was happy to help her with the research because it is important that amputees are portrayed accurately across all media. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that she would dedicate her book to me. Her beautiful description has left me dumbfounded.  In my opinion I only answered a few questions and the honor feels misplaced, but I will humbly accept the accolades. 

I can't wait to read the book!  


Wednesday, September 06, 2017

First Day Recap

The first day of sixth grade is now in the books. No tears were shed this year, but that doesn't mean that the drive to school was void of complaining or moaning. Robby took full advantage of the drive time by vocalizing his displease with the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year.  By the time we arrived, all of my new school year blues had dissipated and I was ready for him to just get out of the car.

Although I didn't cry dropping him off, Timmy certainly had a strong reaction. He started to cry as we drove into the parking lot and had dissolved to full blown tears by the time his brother opened the door and said goodbye. No words could console my little heartbroken Hamlet. He loved having his brother home all summer and was devastated to see him leave. I tried to explain that we would pick him up in a few hours, but my efforts fell on deaf ears.  Thankfully a quick detour through the Chick Fil A drive thru helped to soothe some of his grief, and I was treated to a quiet car ride home.

After we arrived home I looked through the photos we took before leaving for school. I was struck by two startling realizations. First, Robby looked grown up. He no longer resembles the cute little elementary school boy, and he is growing into a handsome young man. Seeing him through this new lens is going to take time, but I can't deny that he is looking more like a teenager than a child. 

My second epiphany was far more painful to accept. I realized that I am slowly turning into a whale. I was enormous in the photos! I knew that I had gained some weight, but I didn't realize my size until I saw the photos. I spent the majority of the morning spiraling through a tornado of self-loathing and disgust. 

By mid afternoon I had decided my only option was to regain control. I popped Sweating to the Oldies into my DVD player and got to work. Timmy was more than happy to "help" me dance, and before I knew it, I was a sweaty mess and he was giggling with happiness and laughter. I was surprised by how out of shape I had become, but at least I made a move in the right direction. I know it isn't going to be easy, but with my little dancer by my side, I know I can sweat those extra pounds off!



Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Sixth Grade!

Today is the first day of school for my not-so-little sixth grader. I am having a hard time grasping that my little Koopa is no longer in elementary school. My goodness time is going too quickly.

Robby isn't delighted with our returning to the school schedule, but I think he will be happy to be reunited with his friends. I know that he has been bored the past few weeks, and some academic stimulation will be a welcome distraction. Of course, he will never admit it and spent the weekend lamenting the conclusion of summer.  

Although his grade has changed, Robby will be staying in the same school for another year. We debated about sending him to the public school this year but ultimately decided that it would be better for him to keep him where he has been attending. Next year we will probably transition, but for now we are comfortable with the decision and looking forward to another year of academic adventures.   

Monday, September 04, 2017

Labor Day Lamenting

If you have been reading my blog over the years, you already know that I despise Labor Day. Even as a child, I found the notion of celebrating the end of summer nonsensical. Why would anybody want to celebrate the end of carefree and fun summer days? The advent of school, and the return of homework and after school activities do not warrant a party!  

The past few weeks have been hectic with work travel and new school year preparations. I'm happy to spend a low key Labor Day at home, picking up around the house and not doing anything terribly taxing. The front yard is a mess with plastic toys, water hoses and the assorted remnants of summertime fun. Today I'd like to get the yard cleaned up, but I'm not terribly optimistic that any of us will gather the motivation to actually do it. I'm just too tired to nag, and I could use a day off. The toys will undoubtedly be there tomorrow, and maybe then I can convince Timmy to help me.

It is hard to believe that Robby is starting 6th grade tomorrow. He is excited about seeing his friends but is quick to point out that he is not looking forward to going back to class. I'm sure he will be fine when he gets back into the swing of our school year routine. This week will be rough, but soon we'll all be back on track. I do think that Timmy is going to miss his brother and the excitement of having everybody at home. I'm pretty sure he is going to be high maintenance this week, demanding constant attention and entertainment until everybody returns home.  Hopefully it won't take long for him to adjust to just hanging out with boring old Momom each day. I know I'm not nearly as funny or entertaining as his brother, but I will do my best to fill the void.

Because our grill broke, we will probably break with tradition by forgoing the obligatory barbecue and instead eat spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. I am not completely anti-tradition though; we will go out for ice cream for lunch.  Happy Labor Day, regardless of how you decide to celebrate.

Friday, September 01, 2017

HOME

After an eventful few days in San Francisco, it was especially nice to come home!  I arrived home in the early evening, affording me a little bit of time to play with Timmy before he went to bed. I'm looking forward to spending the day with them, playing at the farm and just having fun.  After being away for four days I'm feeling the need for some dedicated kid time.

I'll post some pics this evening.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Cab #405

Yesterday morning I experienced an issue which left me baffled, angry and confused for the remainder of the day.  To be honest I'm still confused by the incident but I'm slowly coming to terms with the knowledge that I may never understand the irrational and ignorant behavior that was exhibited.  By now I should know that it is fruitless to try to reap logic out of ignorance!

After grabbing a latte and bagel (my traveling treats), I asked the Desk Clerk at the hotel to call me a cab so I could head to the office.  After the cab was confirmed I headed outside and chatted with the valet while waiting. A few minutes later cab #405 pulled up, and I headed towards the vehicle.

As I moved to open the door, the driver opened his door and started to run around the car, shouting towards me. It took me a few seconds for his words to register, but they were ringing clear for everybody in the vicinity to witness. "I'm not taking someone like you.  I'm not taking someone like you."

I'm sure I went wide-eyed like a deer as he was screaming. Thinking that perhaps he was expecting a different fare, I explained that the hotel had called the cab for me. He stormed past both me and the valet and into the lobby, where he continued to direct his rant to the Desk Clerks.

He furiously yelled "I'm not taking someone like her.  I'm not taking someone like her." The Desk Clerks looked shocked as they tried to confirm that she had called the cab for me. He slammed his hand on the desk, stormed out of the lobby and sped away in his cab.  I was left in the hotel lobby, confused, embarrassed and late for work.

The Desk Clerks were apologetic as they contacted another company to secure me a cab. I assured them that his behavior was not a reflection of her and thanked her for her time. I managed to maintain my composure, but inside I felt like curling into a corner to cry.  While it is true that the driver's outburst was not a reflection of her, it was most definitely a response to me.

It is a horribly deflating feeling to have somebody find you so revolting that they would rather cause a public scene than to let you into their vehicle. I was dressed modestly and was well-groomed. At this point I can only assume that his reaction was caused by my amputation, but it is hard for me to accept that this level of discrimination and blatant ignorance exists in 2017. I have spent the past 24 hours desperately trying to figure out another variable.

Because the behavior was so irrational I decided to pursue the issue. It turns out that the Desk Clerks were aligned and had already contacted the Taxi Commission to report the incident. I understand that the Taxi Commission became more interest when the hotel representatives offered tapes of the exchange.  Apparently they have cameras both outside and inside the lobby, and the footage confirms our accounts of the incident.

I feel somewhat vindicated by the knowledge that this driver will be held accountable for his outburst, but I continue to struggle with the incident. How could the prospect of driving me be so vile that he reacted so strongly?  Why did my prosthesis (if that was indeed the lightening rod for his rage) bother him to the point of refusing service? Why was I not good enough to get into his cab?

My self-esteem took a hit from his outrageous and ignorant fool, but I'll rebound. I already feel stronger with the knowledge that he has been reported. I will never truly understand prejudice because I don't relate to the thought pattern.  Instead of arguing and getting into a screaming match I stayed calm, held my head high and took the incident to a higher authority.  I'm proud of my response and I'm working to let go of the negative emotions that have been stirred by the incident.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

High School Reunion (abbreviated)

Last night I had the opportunity to reunite with a childhood friend.  Vince and I met in Nursery School and he was a fixture in my school life through elementary, middle and high school. It's odd to reflect and realize that I saw him every school day through my formative years. What is stranger is the reality that I haven't seen him since our high school graduation 25 years ago.  On a side note, how did 25 years pass since I was in high school?  Yikes!

Vince and I did what most middle-aged high school friends end up doing when they are reunited- we hit the bar and went out to eat. It turns out that relaxing with an old friend, catching up and reminiscing was just what I needed. My stress level evaporated as we chatted and I credit him as much as the cocktails. 

It's amazing how lives can take such drastic turns, but childhood memories keep those formative bonds lit. It was fun thinking back and recalling our elementary school memories. My goodness it feels like I grew up in a different world!

After my brief escape from adulthood, today I'm returning to the office for another day of meetings. Timmy has settled down for my Mom, which has been a huge relief. Hopefully the trend will continue today and he will be charming and happy until I return tomorrow. Fingers crossed!



Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Throwing

I'm not sure if it was the jet lag, missing my kids or feeling uncomfortable in a foreign environment, but yesterday was not my best day.  By the time the work day was over I just wanted to go back to my hotel and crawl into bed. I quickly fell asleep, and I'm feeling better (and stronger) today.

I've spoken with my Mom several times and realized that my worries were becoming a reality.  Robby was behaving, but Timmy was starting to frazzle her. He has developed a propensity for throwing objects, especially at his brother, when he wants attention. Of course, he wants attention at every moment and he resumes throwing as soon as his decided playmate moves onto a different activity.

We were at our wits end at home to tackle the throwing issue, and I know my Mom is experiencing the same frustrations. Time out and the removal of toys has no impact on his behavior.  I'm open to suggestions because we have emptied our bag of tricks.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Travel Woes

Kudos to all of the road warrior Moms. I honestly don't know how parents manage to maintain their sanity while traveling frequently for work.  Preparing for this week long trip was angst ridden as I tried to make everything okay for everybody else. In fact, so I spent so much energy preparing the kids that I didn't remember to pack until five minutes before we were scheduled to leave the house. Thankfully I'm a low-maintenance person and I was able to gather everything I needed quickly.

Not only is preparing to leave frustrating, but I found the travel absolutely exhausting. I was fine for the first five hours on the flight, but the last hour became extremely uncomfortable (hovering on painful). My legs began to cramp, my fingers swelled and I started to feel flush. By the time the plane finally landed I was ready to bolt off of the plane and run into the cool air.

Today will be busy with meetings. Wish me luck!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Travel Worries

Sunday I'm packing up and flying to San Francisco for a few days. I wish that I could allow myself to feel excited about the trip. Instead I am worried and fretting over leaving the boys and scrambling to get everything covered in my absence. If it wasn't for my Mom, I'm not sure what I would do!  

With Scott back at work, my Mom has (again) stepped in to fill a childcare void.  The boys are going to spend a few days in Pennsylvania while I'm away for work. With Robby's cousins back in school, he may be bored during the day. He has thoroughly enjoyed spending his summer days playing with his cousins and I know that he'll miss them while they are at school. 

In order to save my Mom from having to deal with a bored tween, I've given Robby permission to spend the time on the computer playing video games with his friends. While not the ideal way to spend a few days, he will be occupied and happy. Given the circumstances I think that extended computer time is probably the best option.

Timmy will be considerably higher maintenance. He has been clingy lately and is not going to be happy being left, I worry about how he is going to react to my absence. I'm really hoping that having his brother there will help to soothe his anxiety but I'm not terribly optimistic. 

Ultimately Timmy will be fine and won't remember my leaving, but I worry about him being difficult for my Mom.  Being responsible for a cantankerous toddler is not easy. I've been trying to pack little surprises to distract and entertain Timmy long enough to give my Mom a break.  Robby and I have had long talks about helping his Nana and playing with Timmy during my absence. He is a good kid and I know that he'll log off the computer to help.  

In reality, I can't control Timmy's reaction when I am gone. I can arm my Mom with supplies to help, and I can prep Robby for his responsibilities. Who knows, maybe he'll be fine and surprise everybody! It could happen, right?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ouchie Foot

I spent the majority of yesterday hobbling around, desperately trying to get everything done while silently (okay, maybe not so silently) cursing the water park. With my biological foot covered with large and painful blisters from the burning sidewalks, my prosthesis has become my "good" foot. Each step was a painful reminder of an adventure gone horribly wrong.  I have no desire to ever visit the water park again, but if I am convinced to take the kids I will definitely invest in a pair of water shoes. 

Timmy seemed to sense my being on the injured reserve list because he took full advantage of my sluggish reaction time. I am barely able to keep up with him when I'm healthy. With my foot injured, he can quickly slip past me to wreak more havoc.  Thankfully Robby is still home because I needed his assistance on more than one occasion.  Hopefully someday Timmy will recognize an injury and feel empathy instead of sensing an opportunity. 

As the day wore on, my misery was increasing. I felt badly because I dumped a lot on Scott when he came home from work. I know how hard it is to resume the teaching schedule, and I try to keep family responsibilities light for the first few weeks after summer vacation ends. But yesterday I simply couldn't walk anymore by the time he came home from work, and I needed his help.  He took one look at my face, and then my bloodied and swollen foot, and knew that I had reached my threshold.  

I'm hoping that my foot is feeling a little better today because my to-do list isn't getting any shorter. I'm leaving for San Francisco on Sunday, and I have a lot I need to do to get ready. I don't have time to be injured-  Stupid stupid water park!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Burning Hot

This August has been unseasonably cool. Between the dipping temperatures and the seemingly constant rainstorms, we haven't been to the pool since we returned from our Florida adventure. Finally the weather turned in our favor yesterday with hot and dry air. I decided that we should spend one of the final days of summer vacation at the water park to enjoy what is perhaps the last outdoor swim of the year.

Robby (and Timmy by default) were excited about going to the water park because I've been promising a trip all year. In order to save my sanity and to ensure that Robby had fun, I allowed him to invite a friend on our adventure. I knew that he would probably enjoy breaking away from Mom to hang out with a buddy, but my reasoning went beyond his preferences. Robby and Timmy have a rather large age gap. While I know it won't always be an issue, right now there is a huge difference between the abilities and activities of a three year old compared to an 11 year old.  Allowing Robby to invite a friend freed me up to take care of Timmy, who requires contact supervision in a crowded water park.

By early afternoon I was splashing in the toddler lagoon with Timmy while Robby and Janna were sliding and splashing in the deep pools.  The pair didn't even say goodbye after I paid the admission. Instead of making plans to meet up, they piled their towels and clothes in my arms and took off towards the corkscrew slides. I figured that they would know where to find me when they were hungry, which would be the only time I would see them until it was time to leave. 

I pushed all of our stuff into an overpriced locker and took off with Timmy to the Toddler Lagoon. I was halfway to the pool when I realized that the ground was painfully hot.  Timmy, who was walking in the tiny sliver of shade, wasn't bothered by the heat but my goodness it was hurting me. By the time I arrived at the pool I could already tell that I was developing heat blisters on my foot, and each step against the rough concrete pool floor only intensified my discomfort. 

After two hours I couldn't take the foot pain anymore and corralled Timmy to the Lazy River. There we floated for another hour, providing my foot with some much needed relief.  As predicted, Robby and Janna found me when they wanted money for ice cream. I felt like a fire walker as we made our way back to the locker! 

By the time I finally sat down and put on my shoe I realized that my foot was now completely covered with a series of blisters. I told the kids that it was time to go and I hobbled out to the car. I'm not sure why the asphalt was so hot yesterday, but the pool needs to do something to keep it cooler for their patrons. I'm definitely going to be feeling the impact of our pool adventure for several days.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipse Fever

Like the majority of people in this country, yesterday we were swept up with Eclipse Fever. Robby has been counting down to the eclipse for several weeks and the excitement reached a fever pitch over the weekend. We decided that the best way to view the eclipse was to experience it with friends, so Sunday night I made some calls and arranged an impromptu party at the park. Most of his friends were overjoyed by the invitation, especially when I mentioned that we were going to share our viewing glasses, because those paper glasses turned into the hottest item of the year.  I'm so glad that I bought them in June so I didn't have to scramble to try to scrounge a pair!

Yesterday morning Robby and I made five pinhole viewers out of cake mix boxes. We then decided it would be fun to put the mixes to good use, so we whipped up a few batches of moon pies. (Okay, technically they were whoopie pies but we wanted to keep with the theme and nobody complained about the liberty we took with the name.) About an hour before the eclipse was set to begin we headed to pick up a tray of chicken nuggets and set up the viewing party at the park.

We had a great afternoon visiting with friends and meeting new ones. I was delighted with the number of families who went to the park with their glasses and box viewers, excited about watching this astronomical wonder. Robby and his friend took off through the park, inviting everybody who looked remotely interested to look through the glasses and to join our party. By the time the eclipse reached peak (about 85%) the pavilion was packed with family gazers, all excited and happy. 

I'm so glad that we decided to throw a party at the park. The eclipse was definitely more fun to watch with a crowd of people! I also have to note that it was nice leaving politics behind for a few hours and focusing my mental energy on something entirely different. Unfortunately eclipse goodwill was slashed last night by a Presidential news conference, so today we will be back bickering reality.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Choo Choo Dreaming

Over the weekend Scott and I decided that it was time to transition Timmy out of the crib and into a toddler bed. He is still relatively small in stature, allowing him to fit comfortably within his crib. However, he is now over 3 and we recognize that he is now old enough to say goodbye to the crib. He is getting too adventurous to be contained within the confines of his baby crib. 

As soon as we made the decision to pack up the crib I started to scour Craigslist and yard sale sites. I knew exactly what type of bed I wanted to get him, and luck was on my side. I located the exact bed in my area for a fraction of what it would cost brand new in the store.  I was delighted, immediately committed to buy it and hopped into the car to pick it up. 

Timmy was absolutely gobsmacked with his new Thomas the Train bed. He squealed and giggled when we began to put it together, and spent the majority of the afternoon climbing on it while singing "choo choo." With as much as he was enjoying playing on it, we knew that he was going to love sleeping on it.  


We were wrong.

Apparently Thomas is a lot of fun during the day but it wasn't nearly as comforting at night as his crib. We spent hours carrying him back to his room and trying to convince him to sleep. It wasn't until Robby crawled into the bed to demonstrate how comfy and wonderful it was that Timmy finally agreed to join him. After a few more nighttime escapes, he finally fell asleep on Scott.  He was carried carefully and deposited into his new train bed for the night, with the hopes that he wouldn't wake up excited or frightened in the middle of the night.


Our best intentions of delighting Timmy with train filled dreams completely backfired. He woke up every two hours, casually walking out of his room and looking to start his day. I spent the night scooping him back up and reminding him that it was nighttime. He might have become too old and adventurous for his crib, but there was certainly something to say with him being confined.  Hopefully he adjusts better tonight, because I'm exhausted!



 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Our Last Summer Adventure



A few days ago, a friend posted a link to a new tree house adventure center in the area. Intrigued, I clicked on the link to learn more. It didn’t take long before I knew that we were going to be headed to Tree House World before the Summer of Awesome 2017 came to an end.  Yesterday morning I piled the kids into the car (including Timmy) and we drove to play in the trees.

The big kids tended to stick together on the more complex activities while I played with Timmy, who was particularly excited by the tree house train. Whoever decided to design a tree house shaped like a multi-car train certainly knows toddlers. My little guy was in heaven playing on the train among the branches.  I loved hearing the squeals of laughter from the big kids echoing through the tree branches as we played on the choo choo tree.

After some cajoling, the big kids finally gathered the courage to attempt the tree climbing activity.  After they were all properly harnessed and passed the obligatory safety instruction, each took their turn conquering the climb. My niece quickly made her way to the top, marking her success by ringing the bell perched on the last branch.  Robby and my nephew each made it a few feet before they succumbed to their nerves. Even though they didn’t reach the top I’m proud of them all for overcoming their fears by trying something new.    

We have had some wonderful adventures over the past few weeks, but I must say that Tree House World was a fantastic way to end the summer.  Everybody, including Timmy, had a fantastic time running through the elevated structures, sliding, swinging and bouncing through the woods.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Adventures Ending

Originally I had planned to take the kids to Hershey Park, but we switched our plans to accommodate their pleas to go to the outdoor adventure playground. The crew decided that they would prefer to spend the day climbing and traversing instead of spinning and twirling. I didn't really care where we went as long as everybody was together and having fun.

Timmy was happy to join everybody on our adventure. When the big kids scattered towards the larger features he and I headed into the woods to tackle the toddler area. I worried that he would want to try to keep up with his brother and cousins, but instead he was content to scale the pint-sized obstacles with me.

Everybody had fun but we only ended up staying for about an hour due to the heat. We went for ice cream, came home to cool off and headed to an arcade in the evening. Again everybody went to bed exhausted and smiling, so I consider it another successful day.

Today is our last Aunt Peggy adventure of the summer. Tomorrow the boys and I will head home to get ready for school and his cousins begin school next week. We are all saddened that our summer is ending and that our reunions will again be sporadic. Hopefully our adventure memories will keep everybody smiling through the school year!