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, May 26, 2017

Memorial Weekend


Happy Memorial Day weekend! 

We have reached the unofficial start to summer. Unfortunately the weather is not going to cooperate, so we won't be making the inaugural trip to our pool anytime soon. I'm a little bummed out, but I am consoling myself with the knowledge that there will be plenty of pool time in the coming months. 

Instead of lounging poolside, this weekend we will be inside hiding from the rain. I am hoping to spend some time getting ready for my trip to California next week. Somehow weeks of planning is necessary when I need to go away for a few days.  Next week is going to be extremely busy, so I'm going to take full advantage of our quiet time. 


Although we don't have any exciting plans for the weekend, I am wracking my brain to come up with an activity to fill Sunday. Scott is eagerly anticipating his "day of racing" and we be planted in front of the television from early morning (F1 race) through the afternoon (Indy 500) and late into the night (Coca Cola 600). He is nearly giddy with the prospect of watching 1,300 miles of auto racing throughout the day.  While I don't understand the appeal of watching cars circle for endless hours, I accept that he finds it exhilarating and wildly entertaining to watch. 

I learned many years ago to avoid all social interactions with him on racing day. My contribution to his special day will be keeping the kids occupied as much as possible. Of course, that's easier said than done.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Falling Snakes and Pig Pens

With a brief reprieve in our rainy and dreary weather, I decided to pack up Timmy and head to the farm. I knew that it was going to be muddy, but it turns out that the ginormous puddles were the least of my issues. While he had a blast, I could best sum up the trip as memorable. 

Our adventure began while driving on the meandering road through the countryside. It doesn't matter how many times I drive the route or what season it may be, the view is always spectacular. I'm in awe of the beauty of the picturesque farms and rolling hills. Timmy was amusing himself by pointing out the animals he saw in the pastures and making the corresponding sound.  His mooing was interrupted by a loud kerplunk on the windshield.
 
A large snake had fallen onto my windshield. I screamed. Then Timmy screamed because my reaction had scared him.  Soon we were both nearly hysterical as I was frantically driving with a dead snake on my windshield.  (I can't be positive but I'm fairly certain it was dead when it fell onto my car. I suspect a bird dropped its prey onto our SUV.)

Although we were physically unscathed by the unexpected guest dropping in on us, I have to admit that Timmy was not the only one to arrive at the farm with wet pants. I changed his diaper, tied a sweatshirt around my waist to hide the tell-tale wet spot on my shorts before we headed into the farm to play. As much as I tried, it's hard to muster confidence when you know that you had wet your pants because of a fallen snake. 

While we walked around to air out my shorts, Timmy happily jumped in the muddy puddles. He was wearing his rain boots, which were of little consequence. He splashed with such gusto that he was covered with muddy water from his chest down. He was soaked, but at least his socks were dry in his happy face boots. 

We were standing in the baby pig petting area when my Mom called.  While talking with her, I saw Timmy leap into what he anticipated to be a normal puddle. Only it wasn't a puddle. It was the pig trough. Instantly he was up to his chest in muck and smelly gunk. 

I managed to pull him out and corral him back to the car. Despite his vocal protests, I refused to carry my little mud puppy. I stripped him down (pulling old food scraps off his thighs and out of his boots) and put him in new diaper. We didn't have an extra shirt (poor planning on my part) but I did find a pair of his pants in the trunk of the car. Unfortunately they were only a 12 month size, so he ended up wearing rather snug capris.  I'm sure we were quite the sight in the parking lot!

After his escapade in the pig pen, we decided to head home. I used the last of my window washer fluid to remove the remnants of snake blood from my windshield, ditched his clothes (I didn't want the smell in my car) and put my mildly soiled sweatshirt in the trunk. This was definitely an adventure at the farm that won't be forgotten anytime soon.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Another Terror Attack.


I am so tired of waking up in the morning to news of yet another terror attack. My heart is breaking for those impacted in Manchester.  As I was watching photos of those still missing flashing on the television screen I couldn't help but think of my niece Tiffany. She will be 13 next week, the same age as many of the concert goers. I recognized her pre-teen enthusiasm, obviously feeling so mature and excited to be at a concert, in the faces of those girls still missing. Yet again, I am grieving for those whom I have never met and who live thousands of miles away.




Because of the frequency, I fear that I will become numb to the horrors unfolding. Out of this fear, I made an effort to fully absorb and to try to personalize each occurrence. I don't want to live in a world where terrorist acts are not felt.  Somehow it feels disrespectful to the maimed and the fallen to go about my daily life without outrage and grief.

I am not embarrassed to admit that I hugged my kids a little more yesterday, a trend that will continue for the coming days. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Stepping Carefully

Yesterday was dreary but that didn't deter Timmy from his mission. He seemed to wake up with the ultimate goal of becoming as dirty as possible, and I'm not surprised to declare that he was victorious. He jumped in every single mud puddle, conquered the wet mulch mountain and dug in the mud with glee. He was a happy, mud caked little boy by the time Scott came home from work. 

While Timmy relished playing outside in the damp yard, I wasn't nearly as excited. In an effort to keep my bum dry, I avoided sitting on my swing. After three hours and 12,000 steps I gave up and surrendered to the wet seat. Having a damp rear was better than dealing with an achy limb.

Walking in wet grass and on slick asphalt is something I try to avoid. After slipping and falling a few times on the wet grass in the past, I have come to respect the risks of maneuvering slick surfaces.  Whenever possible I seek as much traction as possible, but yesterday everything was slick. Timmy had a blast sliding and splashing while I spent my time dutifully following behind, meticulously stepping to avoid slipping.

I really don't like having to think so much when I walk. Although I spent 5+ hours playing outside, I felt the impact of my amputation with each movement. I hate being reminded that I live with a prosthesis. I hate feeling disabled. Yesterday I felt both, and it was exhausting physically and mentally.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Wonderful Birthday

I had a fantastic birthday. I am truly appreciative of everybody who took time out of their day to call, send an email or tweet, or left me a message on Facebook. I felt the love all day, and I was reminded that I have an awesome circle of friends and family. 

Scott surprised me on Friday by letting me sleep in and by setting up my new coffee pot. I am now the owner of the Coffee Ninja, and so far I'm definitely a fan. He sent me numerous texts throughout the day which made me feel both special and loved.

Robby was ecstatic to help me celebrate my birthday, singing to me first thing in the morning and doting on me throughout the day. He wrote me a wonderful little poem in school, and I cried when he read it to me. Lately most of the time he is a frustrating and snarky pre-teen, but every once in awhile I catch a glimpse of my sweet little Koopa.

Timmy was excited as well, but his emotions were purely reactionary. Not wanting to be left out of any excitement or fun, he happily danced, clapped and cheered whenever possible. He was particularly endearing during lunch with my Mom. I worried about how he would behave in the restaurant, but he could not have been better. If he keeps behaving well, we might be able to go back in public again on a regular basis. Talk about a birthday miracle!

If my birthday is any indication, 43 is going to be fabulous!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Happier Birthday!

Happy Birthday to me!

This year, instead of being frustrated by the number, I'm going to celebrate new beginnings. It sounds cliche, but the fact that I am getting older is inevitable. I'm tired of feeling sad about being middle age. Unlike other birthdays, this year I feel excited about the future. I believe that 43 is going to be my best year ever!

A few weeks ago I quit my job and accepted a new position. I had been building up to making the change for nearly a year, and the stars finally aligned for me to resign. Starting a new job is exciting, but it is also overwhelming. The past few weeks have been spent transitioning, and I now feel like I have my footing.

I am less stressed and considerably happier since resigning my previous job. The change has afforded me more time to devote to taking care of Timmy and projects related to Amp'd. My changing my job has been the best thing that I could have done for myself and for my family. I haven't felt this free in years.

I really believe that 43 is going to be the year I make my mark. I'm excited about so many things on the horizon, and I now have the time and energy to see them to fruition. Timmy and Robby are both doing well, and I love watching them both grow and learn daily. Right now, I'm in a pretty good place in my life, so I'm not going to ruin it by focusing on a number.  Happy 43rd Birthday to me- bring on the cupcakes!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Outrunning the Cops

The sudden heatwave was wreaking havoc on my limb yesterday, but it certainly did not seem to impact the boys. Despite my suggestions that it would be more comfortable to play inside, Robby pleaded to go to the park after school. Last week he bumped into a group of boys and had a great time playing. When we left, they invited him to return on Wednesday to play again. It turns out that he has been looking forward to reuniting with his new friends all week and was going to be devastated if I had refused.

So, despite the heat and my swollen leg, I drove to the park so Robby could meet up with his friends. Although I knew he was going to be disappointed, part of me was hoping that the heat was enough to keep his new playmates away. As soon as I drove up to the playground I saw the mini van, and I knew that I was destined for an afternoon of hot and sticky fun.

Robby jumped out of the car, grabbed his military hat and took off running. Timmy and I spent the next two hours playing at the park. Despite my efforts to convince him to play in the shade, he was set on climbing the structures and digging in the mulch. At one point the police drove past the playground on a routine patrol. The officer waved and I saw some other kiddos wave back. In response, he turned on his lights and sirens, a gesture that sent the kids into an excited frenzy.  All of the kids except for Timmy.

For some inexplicable reason, Timmy became panicked when he saw the lights and heard the siren. He looked at me, dropped his truck and exclaimed "Ut oh. Run!" He then took off at a full sprint in the opposite direction.  I have no idea why his instinct was to run away from a police siren, but his reaction was succinct and strong! After sprinting across two soccer fields I finally managed to convince Timmy that the police weren't chasing him and he agreed to return to the playground.

It turns out that Robby's new friends are part of a local homeschool group.  The boys (all age 10-12) meet every Wednesday for "unguided play." Robby was delighted to be invited into their circle. So, it looks like Wednesday afternoons at the park will be put onto our regular schedule.  Even though it was hot and uncomfortable, it was really nice to see Robby so happy. Now if I could just figure out why Timmy tried to outrun the fuzz...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Farm Fun

Yesterday was another gorgeous day. With the forecast calling for hot temperatures for the rest of the week, I wanted to make the most of the ideal weather. After dropping off Robby at school, Timmy and I headed to the farm for the afternoon.

Timmy began to squeal with joy as soon as we turned onto the little dirt road leading to "our farm." His excitement was contagious and brought smiles to everybody as we checked in to receive our wristbands. As soon as we were granted entrance, he took off running to the moon bounce. I followed behind, schlepping the bag filled with water, diapers and assorted cheese flavored snacks.

I have become a bit of a connoisseur of outdoor adventure areas for kids. The farm ranks towards the top for both kid friendly activities and accessibility. I love that I'm able to participate with the climbing, jumping, sliding and swinging. I especially appreciate that the steps leading to the hill slides are well defined, evenly spaced and tout handrails on both sides. Over the weekend we went to our local animal park, which also has hill slides. Unlike the farm, the slides can only be reached by walking up to the top of a steep hill. It definitely makes it easier to keep up with my three year old when I can follow behind on stairs rather than trying to traverse up a steep hill.

Timmy and I spent the afternoon playing, exploring and picking (more) strawberries. He had a great time, and I was able to keep up with him. All in all, I think we both had a great day. 

Unfortunately my leg is feeling ouchy today, and I noticed this morning that I have developed a small sore. I'm frustrated, but today we are going to try to take it easy. I know all too well how quickly a small sore can turn into a big problem.  I hate that my activities have to be curtailed because of my limb issues, but I'm trying to remain positive.  At least I was able to keep up with him at the farm!




Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Perfect Day

Yesterday we had perfect weather. It was in the mid 70's, and white puffy clouds were dancing against the bright blue sky. It was one of those days where I just felt energized and happy being outside.  I finished my work early and decided that what wasn't complete could wait until night time. I wanted to take full advantage of the happy day weather. 

Thankfully my little sidekick was more than willing to spend the day outside playing with me. He smiled and giggled all day, soaking up both the sun and my undivided attention. After a few hours of kicking the ball, pushing him up and down the road in his Cozy Coupe and exploring through the woods, I tired and ready for a break.  Timmy had other ideas and convinced me to keep playing outside with him.

All told, we spent almost seven hours playing in our yard. He must have been running on pure adrenaline because he showed no signs of slowing down, and I was dragging.  I finally managed to convince him to come inside when Scott came home from work. I'm pretty sure he would have protested in any other situation, but the lure of hanging out with his Daddy was simply too great for him to resist.

About an hour after we came inside, the fresh air and exercise caught up with Timmy. He was content to spend the rest of the evening snuggling Scott on the couch and watching Team Umizoomi. I was grateful for the quiet, not because he had been bad but because I was exhausted. It's been a long time since I've played that hard, and that long, outside. This Momom needs to whip into shape if I'm going to keep up with him this summer.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Happy Mother's Day


Happy (belated) Mother's Day!

Saturday the weather was miserable. With cold temperatures and constant rain, we were housebound for the day. Robby seemed content to spend the day playing a variety of computer games whereas Timmy was a tad higher maintenance. He is a little boy who thrives off physical activity. Being stuck inside leads to destruction, and Saturday was no exception. I spent the majority of the day either desperately trying to entertain him or cleaning up after him. Even though we didn't go anywhere, I was exhausted by the time he went to bed.

Sunday was Mother's Day, which meant that Scott had to get up with Timmy so that I could sleep. Of course the little cherub must have known it was his Daddy's turn to wake up with him because he slept until 7. How does that happen?  Every other day he is up at 5. The one day his Daddy gets up with him he miraculously sleeps in until a reasonable time.  I am beginning to think that his sleep patterns are deliberate!

When I finally meandered out to the living room Robby proudly presented me with a freshly brewed cup of coffee and a little planted marigold. He spent the day offering me hugs and spontaneous kisses. Timmy seemed unphased by Mother's Day, although he did try to wiggle into my hugs with Robby whenever possible.

The weather yesterday was gorgeous, so we packed up and headed to the Animal Park for the day. Both boys had a blast visiting their animal friends and playing on the slides and structures. Timmy is my little daredevil, showing no fear as he attempted to keep up with his brother. (Thankfully Robby is not terribly brave when it comes to physical feats, so Timmy was able to tag along without getting hurt or scared.) For a few hours yesterday afternoon, both boys played together without fighting or bickering. Talk about a Mother's Day miracle! 

I hope that everybody had a fantastic Mother's Day, filled with love and happiness.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Missed Opportunity

Last night, after dropping off Robby for a party I settled into the sofa and turned on the news. I caught the tail end of the broadcast, which was probably advantageous because the end is the portion that features happier stories. (It seems that the feel good stories are becoming shorter and more sparse, but perhaps that is a topic for another blog.) At the end of last night's broadcast I watched a  clip highlighting a young farmer who was receiving a prosthetic arm created by some high school students.

First of all, I must applaud the students' (and their teachers) efforts in designing a device to help their neighbor. My faith in humanity is always boosted whenever I hear of a community pulling together to help a friend in need.  The students took on a herculean task by designing and creating a 3-d printed functional below elbow prosthesis for their neighbor.  The story ended with the image of the recipient hugging his children for the first time while wearing his newly presented device.

I am sure that the story filled the goal of ending the newscast on a positive note. I felt conflicted by the reporting because I felt that yet another opportunity was missed.  Nowhere in the story was the reason the farmer was dependent upon high school students to create a prosthetic device for him perhaps because that side of reality isn't nearly as glitzy or feel good. Without knowing the specifics, it is safe to assume that he could not afford a new prosthetic device.

Don't get me wrong, I love that these students solved a problem for their neighbor.  But let's not forget the true issue. Too many people in this country are at the mercy of the goodwill of others in order to receive their medically prescribed prosthetic devices. Increasing numbers of amputees are being disabled by their financial situation more than by the limbs that they are missing. 

I feel like, yet again, an opportunity to bring this plight to the forefront was lost. Perhaps if the story were more than a soundbite, the true issue could have been presented. Of course, then it wouldn't be the light feel good story at the end of the news.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Awkward Revelations

It is always awkward when somebody whom I have known casually suddenly discovers that I'm an amputee. I don't actively hide my limb loss, but if I meet somebody during the winter when I'm wearing jeans, it doesn't usually come up during casual conversation.  When those casual encounters become regular, it feels oddly deceitful when I show up one day wearing shorts with my prosthesis in full view.

Yesterday I experienced one of those uncomfortable reveals. I have come to know several other parents in the waiting gallery of Robby's Taekwondo class. I've seen many of these parents a few times a week for months, so I feel more acquainted than if we were strangers. However, I don't know them well enough to delve into any substantive topics of conversation. Typically we restrict our dialog to whatever is happening in class or the weather--nothing personal. The topic of amputees was never broached, and it felt forced to try to weave it into our superficial conversations. 

Because the weather was delightfully warm, I wore shorts while taking Robby to class. Acutely aware that my leg was showing for the first time, I felt odd walking into the studio wondering if the other parents would notice that I use a prosthesis. The looks of surprise let me know that they had not suspected that I was an amputee. I sat down and commented that the weather was beautiful. 

In a way I feel proud that I have been able to mask my limb loss for months. I have worked hard on my gait, and the fact that nobody suspected I was an amputee was affirmation that my efforts have paid off. On other hand, I'm not embarrassed or ashamed of being an amputee, so I didn't want to leave the impression that I was trying to hide something. In reality, my amputee status never came up during our casual exchanges. I will not be surprised if we have a new topic of conversation.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Fun Weather = Outside Play

Yesterday Timmy and I spent the majority of our day outside, playing in our yard and throwing sticks into the woods. He is at that delightful stage where he finds assisting with yard work fun. I love this stage, but I only wish the enthusiasm for picking up sticks would transfer to other tasks. For some reason cleaning up his trains isn't nearly as motivating as relocating sticks.

After spending the afternoon outside, I thought that Timmy might be tuckered out. I was wrong. As soon as we picked up Robby he began to squeal and point towards the park. So, after spending four hours in our front yard playing, we switched gears and spent another hour at the park. I really wish I had his energy!

Robby becomes frustrated with his little brother, but he does a really nice job playing with him when they go to the park. Timmy followed him like a shadow, happily tagging behind as Robby climbed, swung and slid. Whatever Robby did quickly became Timmy's goal to master. It's no wonder I have a little daredevil- he is just trying to keep up with his 11 year old hero.

Today the weather is supposed to be even nicer, so I think we'll head to the farm. The strawberry fields are open and I am hoping that Timmy finds as much joy picking berries as he did moving sticks. If he does, we will end up with buckets of berries in record time.

 I think I need to get as much work out of my little guy as possible before he realizes that picking up sticks isn't an exciting game but is, instead, a chore.


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Easier for Once?

I continue to be astounded by the differences between Timmy and Robby. They are both born from the same parents, live in the same home and have had similar experiences. In many ways that is where the similarities end.

Perhaps it is a case of having a selective memory, but I remember Robby as a relatively easy toddler. He was eager to please and never strayed too far from my side. Always cautious, he weighed the risks at a tender age and rarely pushed the limits. Although we had brief bouts with Robby Rotten, he was a content and quick to please child. 

Timmy, on the other hand, tests me daily. He is quick to sprint away at every opportunity. He has no fear and relishes climbing higher and sliding faster than I would prefer. The "big kid" rock walls at the playground are no match for his climbing abilities.  He is secure in his desires and wants and does not hesitate to voice his displeasure when he doesn't have his way. (That was a nice way of saying that he can throw Oscar worthy tantrums without much provocation.)

Yesterday Scott and I discovered yet another difference between the boys. Robby was a nightmare to potty-train. His deep seeded fear of using the potty resulted in chronic withholding. We were forced us to seek medical care from two separate doctors and it took nearly a year to get the issue under control. He wasn't completely toilet trained until he was 4.5, but it certainly wasn't due to a lack of effort on our part.

While shopping at Target I picked up a little potty chair for Timmy. After the experience with Robby, I wasn't expecting much from him. I was hoping to familiarize him with the concept so that we could begin to introduce using the potty this summer.  To my surprise (and delight), Timmy had other plans.  Almost as soon as I unpacked the potty chair he took off his diaper and correctly demonstrated its use. 

I began to cheer, and Timmy clapped happily. Then the little potty began to sing, which resulted in terrifying Timmy. (I didn't know that the toilet would talk when the little bowl detected moisture.) Timmy jumped off the potty and went streaking through the house, trying to get away from the singing toilet. 

We disconnected the sounds, but I don't know how long it will be before we can convince Timmy to sit on it again. Hopefully I didn't sabotage our potty training efforts with the singing chair. After the year long drama of potty training Robby, it would be a nice change for Timmy to be the "easier" child for once. 

Monday, May 08, 2017

Non Eventful Weekend

I had a fantastic weekend doing nothing of consequence.  On a whim the boys (minus Scott) and I packed up and headed to visit my Mom on Friday. We didn't do anything particularly exciting, but it was nice to just relax with my Mom for a few days.  Trips without plans or an agenda often end up being the best!

Sunday morning we said goodbye and headed home. I always hate leaving, but I wanted to get home with enough time to work on the laundry and go grocery shopping. I detest both chores, but I hate them even more when they are left for Monday. Almost as soon as I walked in the door I started tackling the Sunday to-do list, hoping to finish with enough time to resume relaxing before the work week began.

Scott accompanied me to the grocery store, which I always appreciate. With the extra set of hands and eyes, taking Timmy to the grocery store isn't nearly as angst ridden as it is when I am forced to manage him on my own. I am convinced that they have shrunk the width of the aisles because, unless I walk down the center of each aisle, seemingly everything is within his reach. When I'm by myself with him, I spend the majority of my time putting things back on the shelf that he has gleefully knocked down or prying boxes and bottles out of his excited little hands. Someday I'll be able to take him to the store without constantly testing my reflexes, but we are not there yet. My little guy certainly keeps me on my toes.


Friday, May 05, 2017

AHCA Action Alert

In terms of the future of prosthetic care, yesterday the limb loss community was dealt a detrimental blow.

The new version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which passed in the House yesterday by one vote, ended the Essential Health Benefits (EHB) as we know them today. Instead of being mandated in all policies, the decision to define EHBs is left to the states. With states having authority over the mandate, prosthetic care will become dependent as much upon geography as it does financial means.

Last night, after the legislation was passed by the House, I kissed my boys goodbye and drove into
DC. I met Dave, my podcast partner and friend, along with Peter and Ashlie (two highly respected and well-versed advocates in the limb loss community) to discuss the state of prosthetic care and limb loss in this country. Although the passage of the AHCA in its current form was heartbreaking, I felt uplifted being surrounded by such dedicated stewards for the limb loss community.

After driving through DC traffic (in the rain), I finally made it home around 10 pm. It isn't late for most, but considering that my little Hamlet has me up before the sun each morning, I was awake well past my bedtime. As soon as I arrived home I fired up my computer and Dave and I recorded a special edition podcast to break down the legislation and its impact on the limb loss community.

I encourage you to listen to this short podcast, read the show notes and become involved. The fight to maintain EHBs isn't over, and now we must switch our efforts to the Senate. Become involved, because this is everybody's fight.


Thursday, May 04, 2017

Thrown

Don't get me wrong, I am delighted that Robby enjoys Taekwondo. He has grown both emotionally and physically since he was enrolled. We have no doubt that the classes have been good for him and he loves going. In fact he enjoys the classes so much that he now goes three to four times per week.

While Robby is happily readying himself for class each night Scott and I can be found huddled in the kitchen, negotiating who will take him. Actually, it is more like bartering who doesn't  pull class duty that night. It isn't that I mind watching him in class, but  sitting in an uncomfortable straight chair in a foyer has lost its appeal.  Perhaps a more compelling  variable is the fact that when Robby is in class Timmy is in bed sleeping, meaning whomever pulls home duty gets an hour of solitude and control of the television remote. After chasing Hamlet all day, the allure of an hour of quiet feels like a vacation!

Last night I lost the negotiation (for the second time this week) and begrudgingly assumed my place in the foyer of the studio. Robby, although still recovering from his cold, was eager and excited for class. I wasn't feeling fantastic but I tried to appear upbeat.  I didn't want anybody, especially Robby, to know that I wasn't thrilled with being there.

It turns out that I thoroughly enjoyed being a spectator at last night's class. After weeks of practice, Robby finally mastered a difficult skill that has been eluding him. He also gained the confidence to allow the instructor to throw him to the ground. I probably shouldn't admit that part of me thoroughly enjoyed watching him thrown to the mat by the instructor. I knew he was safe of course, but part of me found it uncomfortably satisfying. 
 
For a kid who is terrified of being hurt, it took a great deal of courage for him to volunteer to be thrown upside down on a mat. I might have missed out on the quiet house, but I definitely made out in the deal. I suppose I'll have enough years of a quiet house when the boys grow up and move out. 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Emotional Overload

After a rough beginning of the week, things are starting to look up. The plague has lifted and, while we don't feel 100%, our routine is returning to normal.  Robby is back at school and Timmy is again content playing with his trains and blocks. My little Timmy becomes extraordinarily needy when he is sick. The fact that he is again allowing me out of his sight was the first indicator that he was feeling better.

In the past two weeks I have quit my job, accepted a new position and nursed everybody in the family back to health. I know that I should be walking on cloud 9, elated with these welcome changes. In reality, I am feeling overwhelmed and would prefer to hide and cry.

Of course, my emotions are probably fatigue induced. Not only does Timmy not let me out of his sight when he doesn't feel well, but he stops sleeping through the night. Getting up at 4 AM for three consecutive mornings has me running on fumes. So, I'm going to stop wallowing and start cleaning. . Whenever I feel like I need to regain control, I start with my house, and in this situation it could certainly benefit from a little attention.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Sick Ward

It feels like the cold plague has descended upon our house. Everybody is sick and feeling miserable. Robby was home from school yesterday with a fever and a nasty cough. Timmy has thoroughly claimed the bottom of two nightgowns and three shirts by mistaking them as a walking Kleenex. I am going to need to put the washer on heavy duty in order to wash those green boogies away. (Ick!)

I'm wasn't sick enough to call a Momom sick day (which basically means that I'm still able to get out of bed) but yesterday I felt miserable. I was exhausted from the moment I woke up. Of course, the fact that I was roused out of bed at 4 by a sick toddler probably contributed greatly to my fatigue. Timmy wasn't sick enough to be slowed down. Rather, he was at the dreaded place where he was frustrated that he didn't feel well but was strong enough to keep running on steam. In other words, he was a boogerie, miserable, frustrated mess. That's not a good combination for anybody, but the trifecta is particularly destructive with a toddler.

Robby spent the day alternating between resting in bed and playing computer games. I spent the day trying to corral a sick little tornado while attempting to avoid being used as a giant tissue. I wasn't successful with either objective. I'm hoping that today is a better, and healthier, day for everybody!

Monday, May 01, 2017

Springing into Summer

It's only the the first of May, but this past weekend felt like the middle of summer. On Saturday our temperatures soared to the mid-90's. After having the house heat running earlier in the week, the difference was remarkable. Between the bright sun against the blue skies and the hot temperature, we were all feeling a strong summer vibe.

If our pool had been open, I have no doubt that we would have thrown on our swimsuits and spent the day splishing and splashing. Unfortunately our pool won't open until Memorial Day, so we had to devise a hot weather plan. We headed to the store and picked up a new sprinkler toy and a 10 foot inflatable pool. 

Timmy was giddy with anticipation as the pool was being inflated. Despite the water being (bone chilling) cold, he showed no inhibitions about jumping in to play. After standing in the calf high water for about 20 minutes while he splashed around me, I finally garnered the courage to sit down in the pool with him.  Yikes the water was frigid, but I became comfortable after my legs began to numb from the cold. 

Playing with Timmy in our little pool reminded me of the times I spent with Robby doing the same thing. Both were eager for me to join the fun and neither was content for me just to watch from the comfort of my porch swing. For some reason, my kids are only happy when I am partly submerged in freezing water on a hot summer day.  Although it wasn't physically comfortable, being with him outside and playing made my heart happy.
 ;
Getting in and out of a small inflatable pool is difficult enough with one leg, but the experience becomes exponentially more difficult when my back and legs seize up from the cold water.  Thankfully the water has warmed up a bit for which my aging body is grateful. This week the hot temperatures are supposed to continue, so I imagine that we will be spending a considerable time playing in our little pool.

Friday, April 28, 2017

S. 794

I will always remember August 2015 as a time of both fear and exhilaration. Amputees across the country lived with the looming threat of detrimental changes to medicare which, if implemented, would have eradicated prosthetic care as we know it. I remember shaking as I learned about the LCD as I tried to imagine the state of prosthetic care if it was implemented. I also remember the excitement of rallying the community to help create a movement against it. 100,000 signatures were obtained in a mere 17 days, a feat yet to be repeated by another disability oriented petition.  Everybody from all walks of life and from all facets of the industry worked together to voice opposition to the LCD.

Ultimately the LCD was tabled and the issue was sent to a committee.  At this time the committee is still convened and purportedly working through the issues. Little information has been yielded since the committee was established, and the community continues to watch and wait. 

Recently, a bill was introduced in the Senate which would radically change the process Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) must go through before adopting a new LCD. S.794, also known as the Local Coverage Determination Clarification Act of 2017, would drastically reform the process for enacting a LCD in the future. From full disclosure of the proposal to requiring the committee to answer concerns raised by the public, this bill would bring transparency to every stage of the process, inviting input from the public at multiple stages in development. 

This bi-partisan bill would improve the LCD process, hopefully avoiding the turmoil caused during August of 2015.  We have created sample letters that can be sent to your Senators, urging them to support S.794.  More information about the bill, and about ways to become involved, can be found on our special alert podcast.  I hope that you will consider lending your support to this effort. In my opinion, transparency in government is always a good thing!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Vacation continued

Yesterday was laid back and relaxing. With no real work to do, I was left to entertain myself. I spent the morning deleting scores of photos and screenshots from my computer. Dave and I recorded a quick call to action podcast before packing up Timmy and heading out to meet my friend for lunch. It still feels odd not having any work responsibilities, but I am trying to make the most of this time because I know that I will again be busy when my new position starts.

Timmy was relatively well-behaved during lunch. With the exception of one escape attempt, he stayed seated and happily munched on his chicken and fries while I chatted with my friend. His behavior is far from stellar, but considering that he is newly three and remembering how he has behaved in the past, I can honestly say that he has come a long way. Although I still scan each restaurant to establish my quickest escape route in case of a meltdown, lately he has been trying to behave. 

Today I think Timmy and I will head to the farm. I know that he'll love playing on the structures, and bouncing on the jumping pillow. The first few days I struggled with my free time. But you know, I think I could get used to this "not working" lifestyle!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Looking Forward-

The past few days have been both liberating and emotionally exhausting. After 5.5 years working social media for an amputee organization, I submitted my resignation on Monday. Leaving something that has been both steady and comfortable is scary, but I am exhilarated about my next professional venture. (More to come when the news is officially released.)

In January I declared 2017 the year that I was going to believe in myself the same way that I believe in others. Leaving my job was an integral step to chasing my dreams and ambitions. Resigning from the position was not easy because I love my amputee community,  and I am passionate about the work that I was doing on their behalf. Every single day for the past 5.5 years I definitively knew that what I was doing was making a difference in somebody's life. I will always be proud of the community pages that I facilitated.

Although I provided two weeks notice, yesterday morning I discovered that I had been stripped of my admin credentials and email access. I was shocked because I had been a faithful and dedicated steward since I started so many years ago. I was hoping to transition out of the position and to professionally end my tenure. The organization opted to move in a different direction. I am frustrated with the lack of closure after so many dedicated years, but thankfully I have this blog to explain my quick departure.

Yesterday I found myself in a novel situation. I had absolutely nothing to do. After working for 1,964 days, I had a day off. At first I felt lost, but quickly decided that staying busy would be the best distraction from the quagmire of my emotions. I packed up Timmy and we headed to the bounce houses. Jumping for two hours with my little guy was the best distraction ever!

Rest assured that, although I have left my position, I remain committed to the community. I am still going to be involved. I will still be facilitating peer networking and offering assistance whenever possible. I will still be advocating and pushing the issues that are impacting the community and I will still be blogging. Dave and I have a list of groundbreaking resources in development. I believe that this change will serve to amplify my efforts for the community.

My title and employer are changing but my passion and commitment remain the same.  My new position starts soon, and I am excited to share this new journey with all of you. I can't wait until I can reveal my news! (Secret keeping has never been my strong suit.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Birthday Recap

Although I know he will not remember, we tried to make Timmy's birthday as special as possible. He thoroughly enjoyed having me sing to him and requested it often. I obliged each time. Not only did I want to make him happy, but I also know that is a matter of time before he realizes that my singing voice is strong in enthusiasm but lacking in range and talent. 

We began the day with his favorite breakfast (Chick-fil-A) on our way to drop Robby off at school. Afterwards I took him to a new indoor playground which was readily enjoyed. He took off running without hesitation and climbed the rock wall without batting an eye. My little three year old is fearless!

When he was done running, climbing, sliding and jumping we headed to lunch at McDonalds. (Did I mention that birthdays don't have to be healthy in our house?) He nibbled on some nuggets and then slid and climbed some more in the play area. When he was a complete sweaty mess, we packed up and drove to Robby's school. 

Lacking any friends of his own, Robby's classmates were more than happy to fill the void on Timmy's birthday.  They graciously accepted Timmy into their classroom and celebrated his birthday with cupcakes and ice cream cups. I doubt there is anything Timmy loves more than spending time with Robby at his school. He lights up entertaining the "big kids" and relishes the attention.

The rest of the day and evening were spent playing at home, watching cartoons and enjoying his favorite dinner. He seemed to be particularly impressed with his train themed cake, although the fact that it was covered with mini Thomas the Train toys was probably the clincher.  By 6:30 he was exhausted and fell asleep on top of Puppy blanket on the living room floor.

I know he won't remember yesterday, but I will never forget how we spent his 3rd birthday.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Happy Birthday Timmy (aka Hamlet!)

Dear Timmy,

Happy 3rd Birthday to my sweet, endearing, funny, and mischievous little blue eyed boy.

I can't believe you are now three years old. It seems like just yesterday I was apprehensively cradling my tiny little preemie in my arms. Now you are a strong and fearless three year old. My goodness the years have passed quickly.

You have kept us on our toes since from the moment I discovered that I was pregnant with you. You are the definition of a miracle baby. We wanted you for so long and were on the verge of giving up when you announced your presence. Our little family feels complete because you are now here.

Hamlet, you are a silly little boy. Even when you are sick you are happy and smiling. The joy that you have for life is infectious and your giggle is one of the most intoxicating sounds. Everyday being your Momom is an adventure.

I love watching you grow and learn. Your enthusiasm for Thomas the Train, toy planes and little cars makes me smile. Watching you play I can see that you are both smart and clever. I have no doubt that your future is bright!

I hope that you have a wonderful birthday. I'm looking watching my little three year old continue to grow, learn and thrive. But please, don't grow up too fast!
Love,
Momom

Friday, April 21, 2017

Busy Busy Busy

The next few days are going to be busy, and looking at my schedule I just hope that I have the energy to keep up. Even though I'm feeling a tinged overwhelmed by my calendar, I am excited about the opportunities and adventures that the next few days will bring. I can hardly wait to see how the coming week unfolds!

Today I'm heading up to my Mom's to prepare for tomorrow's birthday celebration. I have ordered all of the food (thank goodness for the internet, it makes party planning so much easier!) Tomorrow afternoon Robby and I are going to clean her house for the party. It's funny. Robby laments and whines whenever I ask him to clean at home, but he is excited about going to cleaning his Nana's house for the party.

When my niece and nephews come home from school I'm going to surprise them by taking everybody to the Glow Party at Skyzone.  Robby loves playing with his cousins but he doesn't see them often.  On the rare occasions when they can get together I like to go into "SuperMom/ SuperAunt mode" by planning an adventure. 

Saturday morning Scott and I will pick up all of the food and finish the decorations for the party. I'm hoping that my Mom has a good time, can feel relaxed and enjoy everybody coming together to celebrate her. I know that she does not relish being the center of attention, but everybody deserves to be doted upon from time to time. 

Sunday we're going to come home so that we can get ready for Timmy's birthday on Monday. I can't believe that my little Hamlet is going to be three! My goodness the time has flown by so quickly, but I suppose that is the topic for another blog (probably on Monday.) 

Tuesday and Wednesday I will be in DC, lobbying Capitol Hill with the Amputee Coalition for the needs of the amputee community. I'm looking forward about speaking with staffers and legislators about the issues impacting my friends. Even though I'm excited about going to Capitol Hill, right now I'm just trying to focus on my Mom's party. Once I get that done, I can concentrate on making Timmy's day special. One day at a time and hopefully I'll be able to fly through the coming week unscathed and with success.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Happy Blog Anniversary!

Happy Birthday AmputeeMommy!! Eight years ago I tentatively ventured into the bloggersphere. I wish I could say that I had a plan when I started my blog, but in reality it couldn't be further from the truth. Out of boredom and loneliness I pulled out the laptop and decided to start writing. Yes, AmputeeMommy was born out of a whim and was not part of a grander scheme.

I never would have imagined that eight years later I would still be posting, and that AmputeeMommy would become such an important part of my life and my identity. It has taken several years, but I finally feel confident telling people that I am a blogger. Creating something viable, on my own, has forced me to grow in ways I never imagined. My blog contains my personal accounts, and I have revealed intimate details of my life to the world. Doing so has rendered me vulnerable at times while overall Making me stronger.

Oh my, how my "silly little blog" has grown. For the first few months the only readers were family. I remember how excited I was when somebody from MA was reading my posts (I later learned it was Mary Hulser). Now I host 500,000 unique visitors per month and continue to grow. I don't know where AmputeeMommy will lead and how it will change, but I am committed to sticking with my blog. The outlet has been a godsend. Personally, professionally and creatively I am better because I started to write.  I think I'll celebrate my blog anniversary with a cupcake!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is Mom's birthday. I won't reveal the number, but I will concede that she is celebrating a milestone age. I wish I could be there today to help her celebrate but with everybody returning to school and work, my traveling is not possible.

Instead I am going up to see her on Friday, so we will be able to celebrate her birthday through the weekend. I have planned a mini family party on Saturday. Per her request we are doing nothing fancy, but the house will be filled with love, laughter and lots of food. The internet has made long distance party planning a breeze, and I can hardly wait for everything to come together on Saturday.

Happy Birthday Mom. I wish I could find the words to convey how much you mean to me, but I know that I will always come up short. You are the strength and heart of the family. Your steadfast support and unlimited optimism have helped pull me through the toughest days of my life.

You were there when my foot was hurt. You were there through each of the 20+ surgeries. You were the one I asked for when I was waking up in recovery after my amputation. You are always there when I need you.

You were my supporter in school and my biggest cheerleader as I started my blog. I don't think I will ever be able to repay you for everything that you have done for me. Simply put, you are amazing.

My boys are so incredibly lucky to have you as their Nana. Robby loves calling you after each Taekwondo accomplishment. You are the first person he wants to call when he earns a good grade, or is recognized for good behavior. He tells me that you are always happy when he calls, and that you are always proud of him.

I love watching Timmy's face light up when he is playing with you. His giggles are among the sweetest sounds on earth, and you have a way of getting them out of him like nobody else. He is only two, but his love for his Nana is obvious.

I hope that you have a wonderful birthday. I love you, and we will see you in a few days.  Happy Birthday Mom!




Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Easter Wrap-Up

We had a relatively low-key Easter.  Robby and Timmy woke up to discover that the Easter Bunny had hopped through our house, leaving treats and scattering eggs through the yard. I'm confident that Robby does not believe the Easter Bunny facade, but he continues to play along with the ruse. At this point I'm not sure if he is doing it for me or for his little brother, but either way I'm happy that the magic remains intact for Timmy.

It didn't take Timmy long to embrace the joys of the Easter Egg hunt. He ran through the yard gleefully claiming any egg that was in his path. Unfortunately he failed to stop when he spied one, resulting in trampling more than a few. Two dozen colored hard boiled eggs were hidden through the yard. By the end of the morning 11 were smashed into the tread of Timmy's sandals. Oh well. We didn't succeed in making egg salad, but we were successful having fun.

My Mom and sister came down for Easter brunch. It was nice to see them and I'm happy to report that Timmy was fairly well-behaved at the restaurant. He only threw his silverware one time. Although my Mom is turning 70 this week, she still has catlike reflexes and was able to catch the knife flung in her direction in midair.  Robby enjoyed playing the role of waiter, raiding the buffet and bringing plates of treats to the table. 
 
Robby is growing up so quickly. When he brought me a plate of fruit he looked like his Daddy. Dressed in his new shirt and tie, along with the fedora for extra style, he no longer looked like my little buddy who had earned the nickname of Robby Rotten. Instead I saw a young man. When did that happen?

This morning our taxes are done and all of the Easter decorations are stowed. Spring break is almost over and the sun is shining. I won't say which of those brings me the most joy, but I will admit that the culmination has me feeling lighter and happier today. I enjoyed having Scott and Robby home, but after a week I was ready for the return of our routine. While I enjoy the company and Timmy certainly relished the commotion that comes from having a full house, it is considerably more work when everybody is home. More cooking, more dirty dishes and more interruptions cause me to wonder why everybody is getting a vacation except for me.
 

 
 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Old Friends= New Adventures

Friday afternoon I packed some clothes into my backpack and kissed all the boys (Scott included) before heading into DC for the night. Although nights away from my family are extremely rare, I try to make the most when the opportunity arises. This time I was meeting Tammy, my closest friend, in the city to prepare for the Tax March on Saturday. In order to avoid the chaos of trying to drive on the day of the protest, we opted to get a hotel room and a quick girlfriends getaway adventure.

I would say that I was sad driving away from my house, but that would be a lie. I did try to temper my jubilation from the boys as I said good-bye. I'm fairly sure that Scott saw me skipping to the car as I made my escape. I couldn't help but be happy to leave.  Hamlet has been extremely high maintenance, and I was in desperate need of a reprieve from the chaos. I was also looking forward to hanging out with my friend, an occasion which does not happen nearly enough. 

While Scott took care of the boys, I had a fantastic time in DC. Tammy and I walked through China Town before meandering through the National Portrait Gallery (she is an artist). Tammy is one of the few people with whom I can be completely silly. It doesn't matter that we are both now in our 40's. Whenever we are together we end up giggling and acting like young college students. We spent our time at the Gallery posing with the various statues and paintings. Our silly poses were definitely not something I would have done if I were in the company of any other adults. But with Tammy, I don't have to worry about being mature. We just have fun.

After the gallery closed we headed back to our room, ordered room service wine and began to work on our posters for the Tax March. After the slogans were conceived, she was in charge of creation and design. I tried to help by coloring in the words, but in reality she did the lions share of the work for the signs and our shirts. Saturday morning we woke up, grabbed breakfast and headed to the protest.

I found being surrounded by thousands of like minded individuals to be empowering. I drew strength from the numbers of people standing with us to demand that President Trump's tax returns be released. Of course, our signs and shirts were a big hit with our fellow protestors. A stream of people approached us to take photos which was fun and added an unique aspect to the experience.

After the rally and march we headed back to the hotel, said goodbye and drove away in separate directions. Although it was only 24 hours, I left feeling stronger, happier and more centered. It is amazing what a few hours with an old friend can do!










Friday, April 14, 2017

Make Mess Monster

Yesterday morning Scott and I were chatting on the couch while Timmy was sitting in his bean bag chair watching Team Umizoomi. All of a sudden my little Hamlet jumped up and threw Puppy Blanket across the room as he began sprinting and squealing with delight. It was as if we were reliving the chaos from Wednesday evening when he morphed into a little destructive tornado. Scott and I both struggled to wrangle and restrain him until he was calm.

During the commotion Robby emerged from his bedroom. He calmly sat on the couch and watched as we fought to keep Timmy from destroying the house. Without much fanfare, Robby flipped the television channel and Timmy calmed down. Robby looked at us, smiled and changed the situation with his observation.  "Momom, Timmy was running around the house like the Gizmo on Team Umizoomi. They were running through the mall making a mess, and that is what he was doing in the house."

Scott and I were flabbergasted with the correlation that Robby revealed. Yes! Every night when Timmy goes wild we had been watching his favorite episode of Team Umizoomi. The little robots in his favorite episode had their buttons flipped from "Make Clean" to "Make Mess" and were wreaking chaos everywhere. Timmy hasn't been trying to be naughty or destructive. Instead, he was mimicking the cartoon characters.  Talk about a light bulb moment!

Timmy was well-behaved for the rest of the day. He didn't meltdown, and he didn't turn into a destructive little demon. It turns out that he is just susceptible to cartoon peer pressure. Upon this realization, Scott immediately deleted the episode from our DVR. Hopefully the "Make Mess" monster has also been erased.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Toddler Tornado of Trouble

For the second time in as many weeks, last night I went to bed knowing that I had been defeated by a toddler. My sweet little Hamlet burned into a tornado of destruction in the blink of an eye. One moment he was happily playing with his toy kitchen, whipping up and proudly serving me delightful plastic concoctions. In the blink of an eye, and seemingly without cause, I saw the twinkle of mischief in his eye and he started sprinting through the house like a wrecking ball.

He ran with his arms extended so that he could sweep and knock over anything and everything in his path. Giggling, he seemed to be on a mission to cause as much destruction as possible before being caught.  When we finally snagged him (he can duck and turn quicker than the most seasoned boxer), my little terror showed no remorse. He only laughed in our faces as we sequestered him to his room.

Usually he hates to be confined to his bedroom. Last night he took his punishment as a challenge. He completely destroyed his bedroom within minutes, knocking over his bins and stacking his wipes only so he could knock them down as soon as I opened the door.

I was completely at the end of my rope. Not knowing what I could do that would make an impact, I did the only thing that came to mind. I took his beloved Puppy Blanket and threw him out the window. The look on Timmy's face as he watched his beloved companion flying through the air only to land on top of the SUV in the driveway was one of devastation. With one single act I managed to break the cyclone of toddler destruction.

Usually I would feel badly about doing something to cause emotional distress. This time I felt victorious instead of remorseful. I finally found my bargaining chip with Timmy. When he misbehaves, he will lose Puppy Blanket. Hopefully I won't have to take the blanket often because I really don't enjoy being a mean Momom. 
 
 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Guesstimate Mishap= Mulch Mountain

Scott and I are especially bad at judging measurements and amounts. When it comes to deciding how much grass seed we need, how many yards of mulch would be appropriate for our flowerbeds and how many cords of wood will be needed to get us through the winter, we can't figure it out and end up guessing. (Just a hint if you ever find yourself deciding how much wood you may need to get through the winter. A cord of wood is a lot! I know this because two winters ago we ordered three cords to be delivered. It's still stacked in the driveway.)

Yesterday we accepted an obscene amount of mulch, another order based upon nothing more than a due a guesstimate and a quest for free delivery. Apparently the landscape store's offer to deliver 10 square yards of mulch wasn't an arbitrary decision. They deliver 10 yards because it is a lot of mulch. How do I know this? Because it's piled next to the wood pile that continues to mock us by standing tall and never seeming to diminish.

Scott and Robby worked throughout the afternoon scooping, schlepping and spreading the mulch through our flowerbeds and around the house. Despite three of the four beds being completely coated with a four inch blanket of mulch, we barely made a dent on imposing shredded wood mountain. Looking at the pile from the house, I'm fairly certain that it will be years before we regain complete access to our driveway.

The boys will continue to tackle the mountain today. I know that it won't be completely dispersed this week, but it will be nice to have everything mulched at the same time. When we're done, I might invite the neighbors to a fire pit party. It will be nice to sit and enjoy the freshly landscaped yard on a cool spring evening. I might even give out wheelbarrows of mulch as party favors!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The amp'd Amputee Bill of Rights


A few weeks ago Dave and I were approached with the challenge to create a Bill of Rights for the limb loss community. At first the task felt overwhelming, and my immediate instinct was to wait to tackle the project. Then a few hours passed, and I found my mind continually returning to the challenge. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I began to feel excited about being part of creating such a unique document.  My feeling unprepared and ill-equipped slowly started to fade as I embraced the possibility that I am capable.  By the time the day was over I was chomping at the bit to get started. 

Pondering what I consider to be a right for every member of the limb loss community turned out to be a fascinating exercise of self-evaluation and reflection. What do I believe, and for what am I willing to fight to maintain or achieve? I was forced to pare down large concepts into firm beliefs, chipping away at the details until I had a solid foundation. I learned a lot about myself and my allegiance with the amputee community through this experience.

The process was laborious and deliberate. Dave and I separately created our own ten rights, exchanging lists only after we were complete.  We then worked to merge and create a master list of 15 rights. We released the draft to the community and invited input and suggestions. Friday night he and I spent hours on the phone, pouring over the suggestions we received in an attempt to create a solid, all-encompassing document.  Throughout the process it was imperative that the Bill of Rights be a crowd-source created document, and we were delighted with the response from the community.

After countless hours of reflection, discussion, writing (and rewriting), planning and organizing, yesterday we released the final amp'd Amputee Bill of Rights. This document details the 15 solid principles that we believe every individual living with limb loss should be afforded. A project which initially rendered me overwhelmed has left me feeling empowered and strengthened. I have no doubt that I will be a better activist because of this challenge. I now know, without hesitation, what I believe to be a right of every individual within the limb loss community.



Monday, April 10, 2017

Vacation Week Begins- Let the Chores Assigning Commence!

Today marks the first official day of Spring Break 2017, or as Scott coined SB #23 (because this is his 23rd year teaching).  Unlike the past few years, it seems that the weather is going to cooperate with a forecast of bright skies and warm temperatures. It will be nice to be able to spend time outside, enjoying the sunshine while getting the yard readied for summer. At least, that is how I framed it when I broke the yard work news to the boys.

Of course, neither Scott nor Robby are particularly ecstatic about my slipping yard work into the plans. The pair have been looking forward to spending the week watching television, eating snacks in bed and playing computer games wearing nothing but their underwear.  Yesterday I ruined their underwear-only initiative by insisting that they put on pants so that we could all go outside for awhile.  After a lovely bike ride through the neighborhood with a happy Hamlet in tow, I ruined Robby and Scott's lazy day aspirations by requesting help picking up sticks.

It wasn't long before they realized that this Spring Break was not going to be a gluttonous electronic binging fest. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be elevated to public enemy number one when the 10 cubic yards of mulch is delivered on Tuesday. I'm not going to be a complete tyrant about working during vacation, but I am going to make sure that at least a chunk gets crossed off of our family to-do list!

Friday, April 07, 2017

Vacation!

Happy Spring Break! 

Yesterday was Robby's last official school day until after Easter. Picking him up from school he was giddy with excitement, vowing to enjoy eleven full days of fun, relaxation and "no learning whatsoever." My young lad is going to be disappointed when he realizes that I have some yard work projects in store for the coming week. However, I'm a nice Momom so I'll allow him to enjoy his revelry before bursting his bubble. 

Scott's vacation starts at the end of the school day today, and then we will all be together for the next week and a half. I know that Hamlet is going to be delighted to have his brother and Daddy home for an extended period of time.  While I doubt that he will be helpful with our yard work, I'm certain that he'll thoroughly enjoy being outside and in the middle of the action. Who knows, maybe we can channel his love of throwing things to help us clear sticks out of the yard. 

I know that by the middle of next week I'll be ready for my routine to resume, but I'm going to try to make the most of enjoying everybody being home. I'm bringing out the paper plates and stocking the freezer with assorted snacks in an attempt to minimize my "family vacation workload." Hopefully this time we will all be able to relax and enjoy the vacation.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

"Patching Up" the Green Belt

Yesterday my little karate Koopa earned his green belt. I am so proud of the effort that he has put towards this accomplishment. Physical feats do not come easy for him, mainly because of some equilibrium issues from his hearing problems, but what he lacks in natural skill he makes up for with grit and determination. He isn't the most graceful, but he never gives up!

What should have been a proud moment was marred at the end of last night's belt ceremony. I knew as soon as the instructors started bestowing special patches on select students that my kiddo was going to leave the mat with hurt feelings. The pride that he felt when his belt was tied around his waist evaporated when his name was not called to receive a patch. Instead of celebrating his accomplishment, he quietly asked me why his instructors don't like him.

If the patches are necessary, I suggest that the instructors consider doing it privately. Holding up select students on a higher pedestal during a ceremony meant to honor all who have earned their belts only serves to deflate those not chosen for special recognition. Perhaps privately handing a student a patch after a particularly good skill session would be more appropriate. I need to be clear on this point: I would feel the exact same way had Robby been selected to receive a patch.

I don't believe that his not receiving a patch was a purposeful slight. In fact, I think that the feelings of all of the students was not on the radar of the instructors. We live in a prize driven society, and the patches are simply an extension of that mentality. Instead of allowing kids to feel the pride from working hard to earn something, we now try to pad the experience by creating extra awards and recognition. Unfortunately, creating awards has the opposite effect by devaluing the accomplishment for each student who worked hard and earned the belt.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Storm Door

Although we have the best of intentions, Scott and I are not particularly adept at home repairs. Try as we might to remain calm and focused, our projects almost always end up with bloodshed, bruises and more cursing than one would hear on a pirate ship. Because we don't have a stellar track record, we tend to wait until something is completely broken or debilitated before embarking on the project.

Our front storm door had been hanging by two hinges for the past two years. We've had to physically lift the door up to put it back into place whenever it was opened. Because the door didn't close without our not-so-subtle fix, it had become a source of embarrassment whenever anybody came over. Despite not hanging properly, not closing completely and being rotted through the bottom, we procrastinated procuring a replacement because we dreaded the installation.

Over the weekend we finally had enough of our broken down front door and decided to tackle the project. With tools in hand, Scott set out to remove the old door which turned out to be easy because it was only secured with two hinges. Because the removal was so easy, Scott and I were optimistic that the new door would go up as easily.  After all, even the box boasted "easy to hang" written in large red letters.

The box is a liar. It took three hours, multiple attempts and more than one episode of colorful language to get the "easy to hang" door in place. At one point it was resting squarely on top of my prosthesis so that Scott could line it up properly. (A benefit of being an amputee I suppose; I was able to keep the door in position without feeling any pain or expending any effort.)

After an afternoon that was worth of our procrastination, the door is finally hung and fully operational. It looks and works great. Soon our bruises will heal and we will be able to look at it without scorn and resentment.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Shattered Glass

I think we missed the mark when we bestowed the nickname of Hamlet onto Timmy. In retrospect, we should have called him "Boo Boo" because my sweet little boy is constantly covered with bumps, scrapes, bruises and cut lips. He is my little carefree daredevil who lives to push the limits. In other words, he scares the heck out of me!

Yesterday morning I was cleaning up in the kitchen while Robby was on the computer and Timmy was in the playroom. Within moments, my typical morning turned into a panicked meltdown. Timmy walked into the kitchen and handed me a bucket, filled with broken glass and covered with blood.

I yelled for Robby to bring me a towel while I lifted Timmy onto the counter to rinse his hands. He wasn't crying from pain but was definitely fretting over the blood oozing from his hands. Once cleaned up, I counted ten small cuts over both hands. Thankfully none of them were deep lacerations requiring stitches, but my goodness they were covered with blood.

Hamlet handled the clean up like a seasoned champion. Robby was an awesome big brother, offering support and even calling his Daddy at work to provide a blow-by-blow account of the morning's events. It took awhile to get the crime scene cleaned up, but we were incredibly lucky that he wasn't severely cut.

After he was cleaned up I looked at the blood covered glass pieces in the bucket he brought to me. I found a few other shards in the corner of the playroom. Apparently he had picked up a glass, broke it somehow and tried to clean up after himself. While I applaud his intent of cleaning up his messes, I really wish he would start with his trains or Legos instead of broken glass.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Intoxicating Taxes

I've been putting it off for months, but Saturday I knew that the clock was ticking. If I was going to get the taxes done and submitted in time, I needed to buckle down and get to work. After Timmy went to bed I sequestered myself in the living room, poured a (obscenely large) glass of wine and fired up my laptop. I fully anticipated a frustratingly long evening, and I was not disappointed. 

Little frustrates me more than dealing with numbers. I have not been gifted with a math talent, but thankfully in this computerized world, taxes require little more than answering some questions and plugging information into the forms when requested. Even though it wasn't particularly cerebrally challenging, I found the entire experience agonizingly frustrating.

It seemed that with each question I answered the ticker noting the amount we owed climbed. I was almost in tears after the first hour. Knowing that crying would do little to help with the situation, I poured myself another (large) glass of wine and tried to refocus.

By the time I was done with the income section of the website, my panic about the obscene tax bill morphed into resigned defeat. Instead of pouring myself another glass of wine I opted to just grab the entire bottle before moving onto entering the deductions. It turns out that we don't owe as much as I feared, which is definitely a good thing.  Of course, I need to go over them at least one more time, without the wine. I discovered that trying to figure out your taxes while drunk may not be the best approach when you are striving for accuracy. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Anxiety Mantra

My doctors tweaked my medicine last week. As he was walking out of the exam room, the doctor casually mentioned that I might feel some side effects as my body adjusts. He failed to mention that the medication change would throw my entire emotional equilibrium into a blender. Knowing the cause is organic and fleeting, I've been struggling to remain centered and happy.

Yesterday I woke up in the middle of a panic attack and, unfortunately my day failed to improve. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get into the groove of the day. I smiled, played with Timmy and cuddled with him on the couch throughout the day, but I still felt off somehow.

I honestly don't know how my fellow anxiety suffers cope with regular occurrences. I felt like I was walking on egg shells, waiting for an atomic bomb to drop all day long. Logically I knew that I was safe and that everything was fine, but knowing and feeling are sometimes different things.

To add insult to my already frustrating day, I dropped my cell phone and cracked the screen. I became angry knowing my anxiety jitters contributed to my phone clumsiness. At that point I just locked myself in the bathroom and cried.

Reminding myself that the medication adjustment is temporary has been both my mantra and my lifeline. I'm hoping that the adjustment is short. I am grateful that my anxiety days are not frequent, and I'm hoping that they will soon be behind me.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Red Wagon Adventures

With the weather improving and spring fully in bloom, we've been able to spend more time outside. Timmy is delighted playing on his swing set, looking at bugs and exploring the woods. I've tried to keep him out of the stream (with less than stellar results). Odd, Hamlet hates bathtubs but gravitates towards any other form of water.  Maybe if I threw a few sticks and small frogs in the tub he would hop in without squawking like a pig being taken to slaughter.
There is no doubt that being outside makes both of us happier people. Over the past few days I've logged miles pulling him up and down the street in his little red wagon. We've seen squirrels, bird nests and of course, Mr. Bill.

There is no doubt he was most excited about seeing Mr. Bill. I love watching the bond form between the two of them. It is different than what he has forged with Robby, but no less strong and just as needed. Both of their faces light up when they see each other. I'm reminded again how very lucky we are to have him in our lives. 

With all of miles I've spent pulling Timmy in his wagon, I haven't been worried about adding extra exercise to my routine. It turns out that pulling toddler and toy filled wagon around the neighborhood is a complete full body workout.  Maybe I could rent him out and start the next fitness trend?  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

ABCMouse Mom

Yesterday was rainy and dreary, forcing us to stay inside most of the time. After my whimsically decorated and artfully laid out playroom was utterly destroyed, a task that hurricane Timmy managed to complete in mere minutes, my little destroyer moved his attention upstairs. Desperate to keep further destruction at bay, I logged onto the computer.
Timmy, like most little kids, is fascinated with computers. He was more than willing to cuddle up next to me to play on his favorite website. While I'm not sure he fully understands all of the educational games on ABCMouse, he does enjoy watching the computer chickens cluck around the farm. At that point in time, I was just happy that he was still and quiet for awhile. If it took computerized cluckers to achieve that zen moment, I was more than happy to boot up the laptop for him. 

Before I became a Mom I had a lot of opinions concerning the use of computer games and television with children. I was judgemental and quick to lay blame on lazy parenting. Then I experienced my first rainy day with a toddler and my perspective completely changed. I have become the "lazy Mom" I had previously scorned and so ignorantly judged.

Oh, irony will never cease to amaze me!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Defining My Rights

A few weeks ago Dave (my podcast partner and friend) and I were approached with an interesting challenge: to develop an Amputee Bill of Rights. At first the task felt overwhelming, but we decided that the process would be fascinating. Without conferring with each other, we each developed ten core principles that we believed every amputee deserved to expect. Only after we each completed our list did we share our ideas and thoughts.
This exercise forced me to reflect upon what I really valued and believed. What do I want for the limb loss community? What do I expect as a right versus something that might be negotiable? In the end I carefully chose those principles for which I would fight and advocate.

This exercise was cathartic as I was forced to become retrospective. While I was evaluating every aspect of my life, questioning what was a true entitlement, I uncovered clarity. I now have a concrete list that will become my springboard for future work.

As expected, Dave and I had several core principles that were nearly identical. About half of our principles were vastly different and unique to our life experiences and perspective. Dave focused more on insurance and access to devices whereas I tended towards addressing issues that were more personal in nature.
After much back and forth, we managed to merge both lists into one document. Our Bill of Rights is still in its infancy and we are seeking input from the community. What would you add to the list, or what would you take away? I would love and appreciate feedback.

Monday, March 27, 2017

On Trend

Being trendy has never been one of my hallmark traits. My fashion leans towards the comfortable, my taste in music is narrowly defined and I don't understand (nor do I particularly care about) references to reality show stars or the majority of television dramas. I wouldn't go so far to say that I exist in a vacuum, but I am definitely not one to change because of the latest issue of Vogue or because of a new celebrity trend.

Although I tend to be stagnant against cultural trends, I try to stay contemporary with political issues. This is especially true when an issue may impact the limb loss community. Last Thursday, as it became clear that Essential Health Benefits were in jeopardy with the revised AHCA, I had two distinct thoughts.  At first I was horrified with the prospect of the community suffering such a significant blow to quality prosthetic care. Almost simultaneously, I felt an unexpected sense of vindication because something that I had been warning might become a battle had quickly materialized. For once, I was actually ahead of the curve!

Of course, having Essential Health Benefits in peril was not a prediction I wanted to see realized. Friday was tense as I waited anxiously awaiting for tidbits of news. When it was confirmed that the entire bill was pulled, I nearly cried from relief.

At this time prosthetics will continue to receive EHB status. I'm delighted, but I am realize that the fight will continue. With so much at stake, I really wish I hadn't been on trend with this issue.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Two Years

I'm waking up this morning feeling sad, but I knew going to bed that today was going to be difficult.  It has now been two years since my Dad died, but sometimes I feel the loss so profoundly that the grief feels fresh and new. It is hard to believe that it has been two years since I've heard his voice. I wish I could pick up the phone and call him, to seek his advice or just to tell him about the kids. It hurts when I realize that his phone number now rings to somebody else, and that I won't be able to talk with him again. 

Today, whenever I feel sad I'm going to redirect the grief into doting and spoiling my kids. We're going to play some extra games, make some cookies and just spend time having fun. I don't think it will be hard to convince Robby to curl up on the couch with me tonight to watch Karate Kid (again.)  I know that my Dad would prefer today be spent doting and spoiling the children (his grandchildren) instead of dissolving into an emotional mass and crying.

I'm going to try to get all of my crying out of the way now so that I can be at least quasi-productive today. If I can stay busy enough, hopefully the anniversary will pass quickly.  I don't know what else to say, except that I miss my Dad.