About Me

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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Travel Ban

After 8 hours on a train and over an hour in a taxicab, I am tired of traveling. I arrived back at my Mom's last night wiped out from sitting on moving vehicles all day. Although I wasn't physically active, I can consider the time well spent because of what I accomplished during the trip. I took full advantage of the Amtrak Wi-Fi and worked nonstop on my computer. 

My appointment went well and was relatively quick. I was able to catch an earlier train home, for which I was grateful. I wasn't looking forward to killing three hours at Penn Station. Sometimes I would relish the chance to browse and walk around the city for a few hours.  Yesterday was not one of those days. 

This morning I am packing up my boys and heading home. After I arrive, I officially declaring a boycott on all travel for the foreseeable future. Robby and Scott need some quiet time before the hustle and bustle of the school year resumes. I need time to decompress and prepare for the impending chaos. And Timmy has been needing some quality time with his trains.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

NYC

Greetings from an Amtrak train en route to New York City.  This is a short trip with my going there and back in the same day. Even though I'm feeling travel weary, I'm feeling excited about this brief getaway. 

I love New York City. The energy of the city is intoxicating. While I would be miserable living there, I love visiting for short periods of time. I can't wait to get off of the train and see the sights and hear the sounds of the city. 

Experiencing New York City isn't the only reason I'm feeling excited. In reality, I'm excited about being alone and without parental responsibilities for several hours on the train. The kids have been especially high maintenance since we came home from Florida. I don't know if they are having trouble settling into a home routine or are bored with summer and in need of structure, but my little cherubs are driving me crazy. 

Usually I am depressed when summer comes to an end, but this year I find myself eagerly checking off days on the calendar. Of course the boys are not nearly as ready to return to the school schedule as me so I have to temper my back-to-school enthusiasm. But if I am completely honest with myself, I have to admit that I feel a surge of gleeful anticipation when I see back-to-school ads on television. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

More Travel

Yesterday Scott drove to Ohio for his cousin's visitation and funeral. It was a seven hour drive but I'm sure if felt even longer because of the circumstances.  Last night he attended the visitation and this morning he will go to her funeral before turning around and heading back home. I wish that he could have stayed longer with his family, but Tuesday is his first official day back to work. Sadly, summer vacation is officially over for Scott.

A few hours after he left I packed up the boys and headed to Pennsylvania. I am going to NYC tomorrow for work and my Mom is going to watch the boys for me. Thankfully it is a short trip with me going there and back on the same day. I typically enjoy taking the train to the city, but with all of our recent travel I'm having trouble capturing my sense of adventure. Right now I just want to be home and return to normalcy.

Robby is delighted to be at their Nana's again. The Cousin Crew winding down their summer vacation, but they plan on enjoying their last few days together. Last night we played Truth or Dare, a truly enlightening experience for this Mom, before staying up to play poker while waiting for the meteor shower to arrive. 

I think all of the kids are in for a shock when the school schedule resumes in a few weeks.  

Friday, August 10, 2018

Slapped by Reality

Vacation is over and reality has slapped both Scott and me in the face. Almost as soon as we arrived home the bad news came at us like a tsunami wave. Both of us are feeling worn down and we have been home for less than one week.

Tragically, Scott's cousin passed away earlier this week. She leaves two school aged boys with whom she had a tight bond. The older boy is just a year older than Robby, and I cannot fathom the pain that her boys feeling. 

Shannon was a kind and sweet person who valiantly fought against cancer for nearly a decade. While her death was not a shock, it is just as tragic. There is a new void in the family, and we are all heartbroken with her passing.

I think all families go through seasons. There are years where the family welcomes new members through marriages and births. Those are happy years. 

I fear that we are in the midst of the season of loss, when the senior generation begins to pass away and younger members are tragically taken through illnesses or accident. Those are difficult and painful years as everybody learns to cope with a void in the family unit. The family is forever changed by the grief.

This will be his third family funeral in five months. Instead of happily unpacking from our trip and getting settled back into our routine, he is now packing to go to another funeral. All of the losses are wearing heavy on everybody, especially Scott.  

As I was helping Scott locate his funeral suit, I received a message that a cousin of my Dad's (and hence my cousin) was admitted to hospice. My brother, whom I love dearly, recently has relapsed and is again struggling with his addiction demons. I am feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and fear as I ponder the losses that may be on the horizon.  

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Fumes or Fire

Just a few days ago I was lounging by the pool in the Florida sunshine. I felt relaxed and was experiencing no anxiety. My goodness that didn't last long!

I wish that the vacation vibe could last all year, but I suppose then it wouldn't be special. Feeling relaxed reminded me that I need to do a better job taking care of myself. Like so many women in this country, and probably around the world, I tend to take care of everybody else first. Timmy, Robby, Scott and my professional demands always take priority. Somehow, I had managed to convince myself that my needs were more whim than necessary.

Feeling completely relaxed and stress-free, I realized that I need to put myself higher on the priority hierarchy. I am a better person when I feel strong and healthy. When I'm worn down, everybody is only benefiting from my fumes instead of from my full fire.  

Of course realizing that I need to prioritize myself and actually doing it are two completely separate things. A huge lifestyle large lifestyle change will only stress me out, completely defeating the purpose. Instead I have decided to introduce one small habit into my routine. If successful, I'll add another in a few weeks. Hopefully these incremental changes will add up over time.  

I've decided that I am going to start by reintroducing meditation into my life. I was in the habit of meditating each evening and I felt that the practice was helping me center. When the boys became ill with the flu I became too tired to meditate. Slowly I just lost track of the habit and my meditation app hasn't been opened in months.  

Here's to reclaiming part of vacation Peggy!

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

More Travel

Apparently Scott and I were the only two in the family who were feeling travel weary. Robby was chomping at the bit to go to see the Cousin Crew almost as soon as we arrived back in Virginia. I was hoping that he had forgotten that last night was National Night Out, and that a huge community Block Party was being held near my Mom, but I had no such luck. Strange, the kid can't remember to take his dishes to the sink but he never forgets an event or party.

Yesterday afternoon I packed up the boys and drove back to PA. (Scott stayed home to mow our jungle-looking yard and to keep the kitties company.) I wasn't terribly keen on undertaking more travel, but the squeals of laughter throughout my Mom's house made the effort worthwhile. I love watching the bonds within the Cousin Crew, and I will do whatever I can to make sure that they are reunited whenever possible. 

Today we are heading to drive Go-Carts and to try to win some prizes at the arcade. A nearby town is hosting a small community carnival, so we will probably go there to snag some french fries and to play Bingo tonight. We might as well try to squeeze in a few more Summer 2018 memories before school starts back.


Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Back Home

After a long morning navigating through the airport and trying to keep Hamlet entertained on the plane, we finally arrived home. We had a great two weeks away but I know that everybody was happy to be home. Perhaps our kitties were happiest to have us back in VA. Both met us at the top of the stairs and have been cuddly at every opportunity. Our cat sitter did a great job, but I think Charlie and Kitty Kitty missed the activity of the boys throughout the day.

Robby is still recovering from his wonky internship schedule. For a week he worked throughout the night and into the wee hours of the morning. He is struggling to fall asleep at a normal time and is constantly tired (cranky). For the sake of everybody in his sleep deprived path, I hope his schedule normalizes soon!

Timmy was the only one who was not happy to be home. Instead of being excited to return to his house and toys, he became mad that he wasn't at the beach. (He was also tired from being woken at 4 so that we could catch our flight.) All night long he looked at me and said, "No home, more beach." Sorry kiddo, vacations can't last forever.

Today is our first full day back to reality, which for me means tackling the laundry and cleaning up around the house. It is shaping up to be another dreary day. After two weeks of sunshine and warm temperatures, I had almost forgotten how yucky our summer weather has been in Virginia. Hopefully the rain will stay along long enough to allow Scott to mow the grass. Our yard is beginning to look like a jungle.

By the time I get caught up from this vacation I will be in desperate need of another!




Monday, August 06, 2018

Headed Home

On Friday night I was able to redeem myself by participating in the Turtle Trek with Robby. Last summer I didn't feel physically strong enough to join Robby on the trek so I offered my spot to Scott. Although I know it was the right decision for me at the time, I have used my bailing as motivation to become more active and healthier. After a year of work, I finally had my redemption.  

Not only was I was able to hit the beach to watch the turtles hatching, but I was led through the experience by Robby. I know that I'm biased, but he did a fantastic time. I am in awe of the confidence that he demonstrated on the beach, leading me through the nests and explaining everything that I was seeing. He helped to pick up the little hatchlings when they went towards the city instead of the ocean. It was wonderful to witness my son in his element.  

On Saturday we picked him up from his Internship. He was physically exhausted but radiated excitement when recounting his experiences. The highlights were learning to handle the turtles, excavating a nest after it hatched and witnessing two turtles nest on the beach. He created memories for many lifetimes during the past week, and I'm sure that more stories will come out as the days go by.  

Robby and Scott went on one final fishing trip on Saturday night while I stayed in the room with Timmy. As soon as Hamlet fell asleep I began the dreaded chore of packing up to go home. We had such a great time away that it is hard to return to reality.  Alas, all good things must come to an end. Today we are heading to the airport in the wee hours of the morning to return home. We had a wonderful vacation, but I think we will all be happy to be home.










Friday, August 03, 2018

Turtle Trek Redo.

Last summer our family vacation was planned around an opportunity to watch baby sea turtles hatch on the beach. I had planned on going on the Turtle Trek with Robby, but at the last minute I changed my mind and sent Scott instead. I didn't feel like I was physically strong enough to walk several miles on the beach. I feared slowing down the group, and perhaps more importantly, I worried about embarrassing Robby.  

This summer we have again planned our vacation around Robby's love of turtles. He has spent the last week at his Sea Turtle Internship, having the experience of a lifetime. Scott, Timmy and I have been at a nearby hotel, enjoying the pool and Florida in general. Tonight I am again signed up for a Turtle Trek. Unlike last year, I am not bailing this time.

Motivated by abandoning the trek last summer, I have worked all year to become physically stronger. I have lost a lot of weight and I am in better condition. It hasn't been easy, but I've always kept my goal in sight. I don't ever want to let Robby down again.

While I still have trouble walking on the sand, I have no doubt that I am physically capable to participate in the adventure. I've worked hard, and I'm ready. Tonight, I am going on the Turtle Trek!

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Growing Up

As the week is progressing, we are hearing from Robby with less frequency. During his first few days we received text messages every few hours, often to just say hello or to connect. Yesterday I received only one message, a happy face emoji. I know that this is a good sign because it means he is becoming adjusted and is feeling more comfortable being on his own.  But I would be lying if I didn't admit that I miss him.

Even though I'm not hearing from him as much, I know that he is having a fantastic time. He was trained to handle the baby sea turtles and was fortunate enough to pick up and redirect 41 little "turtlinies" to the ocean after they wandered towards the city. I didn't have to be there to know the excitement and happiness that must have been shining on his face as he carefully picked up each little hatchling. 

Tomorrow night I am scheduled to go on the Turtle Trek he is leading. I am looking forward to experiencing the sea turtle hatchings myself, but more importantly, I can't wait to see my little Koopa. I have missed him so much!

It is simply weird not having Robby with us. At the pool, or at the beach, his presence is missed. Even Timmy has begun to ask about his "brober." I am slowly accepting that Robby is growing up. I hate change! 

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Laid Back

We had a laid back vacation day where nothing of true consequence happened. Scott and I took Timmy to the beach and to the pool a few times, thoroughly delighting and ultimately exhausting my little water bug. He has an abundance of energy, but when he crashes, he goes down hard. He fell asleep early and slept soundly through the night.  

Timmy is sleeping better on vacation, probably due to the excitement and activity level. I'm getting spoiled by his sleeping until 8 in the morning. Typically up at 5, those extra three hours each morning have been a wonderful gift.  I'm trying to figure out a way to keep this good sleeping spree going beyond vacation, but short of putting in a wave pool,  I am not coming up with any ideas.  

We didn't hear much from Robby yesterday, which I suppose is a good thing. He texted a few times and assured me that he is doing well and having fun. I was hoping for a phone call but it never materialized. Although I know it is both normal and a good sign, I miss him!

Today we are going to repeat our beach and pool adventures. Timmy seems delighted with both, so we don't feel the need to venture beyond the resort. It is kind of nice staying put and not always being on the go. I think I could get used to this vacation lifestyle!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Piratical Adventure and Koopa Reunion

Turtle Internship is in full swing, and from all accounts Robby is having a fantastic time. He is truly in his element, walking the beach each night trying to protect all of the turtles. On Sunday night he was even lucky enough to see two turtle mommas come to shore to lay eggs. He was so excited as he recounted the scene that he was difficult to understand.  

He is loving everything about his internship with one glaring exception. He is not happy sleeping at the rescue center. Each day he calls both Scott and me, asking to spend the night at the hotel. If he had a valid reason we would accommodate his request, but he is simply homesick. As hard as it is for me, I'm encouraging him to stay with the other interns. Staying at the center is part of the experience. This is his first time sleeping away from us, so he is having a difficult time adjusting. I'm hoping that by the end of the week he is completely comfortable.  

With Robby away with the turtles, Timmy has been basking in the attention of being the only child. Yesterday we went on the Pirate Adventure cruise. He loved getting geared up and fighting the other pirates with water cannons. His smile and gleeful waving at every boat we passed while on the cruise was contagious. 

Late last night Robby sent me a text that he was guarding a nearby next. I threw on my dress and ran out the door to greet him. It was great seeing my Koopa, even if the reunion was brief because he was working. I was able to watch him in action for a few minutes and was left in awe. He demonstrated a confidence and a poise that so far has been untapped.  I'm so incredibly proud of him!

I don't know what we are doing today, but I know that Hamlet will have fun. My little adventurer seems to have fun regardless of the activity or the setting. So far this has been a fantastic vacation.




Monday, July 30, 2018

Turtle Adventure has Begun!

The hotel room became eerily quiet on Saturday afternoon. Our whole family feels off center with Robby's absence. Even Timmy, who typically craves attention, has been more mellow and has been asking for his brother. We explain that he is at work with the turtles, but I'm not sure he fully understands. Although I know he is having a great time, I really miss my Koopa.  

Dropping off Robby was difficult. He was terrified and on the verge of tears throughout the morning. I know that he was excited, but the prospect of his first sleep away camp was also overwhelming. I did my best to remain upbeat and optimistic, even though I was struggling with letting him go.  Having my little boy grow up is hard!

He was stoic when we dropped him off, giving me a quick hug and fist bumping Scott before we left.   He put on a brave face, but I could still see the scared little boy in his eyes.   Even though I was both anxious and sad, I knew that as soon as the turtle work began, he would be in his element. If anybody was made for this internship opportunity, 7it is Robby. 

My anxiety evaporated a few hours later when he called me.  Scott was in the other room when he heard me say "Hey Robby" on the phone. Apparently the turtle nest outside our hotel was starting to hatch. Scott threw on his shoes and was out the door before I could tell Robby that his Daddy was on the way down to say hello. When I saw the selfie that they took, I knew that he was having the time of his life.  I don't think I've ever seen him, or Scott, so happy!  I already put dibs on the next opportunity to see Robby.  

With Robby safe (and happy) at his internship, we spent the day yesterday at the pool. The ocean was too rough for Timmy, but he had a blast splishing and splashing throughout the afternoon. Today we will spend the day in water, whether it be the ocean or the pool we have yet to determine. Either way, I know that we'll have fun!  

Hopefully another nest will hatch near the hotel so I can see my Koopa. I miss him!





Friday, July 27, 2018

Beach and Fishing

We had a fantastic first day of vacation. The boys loved alternating between the ocean and the pool while taking intermittent breaks for food. To my delight I was able to keep up with them and their beach loving activities.

To the chagrin of every male in the family, I scheduled a photographer to meet us at the beach in the morning. I have hundreds of photos of the boys, but few of us together. I thought that a family photo against beautiful backdrop of the ocean and beach would be a perfect way to commemorate this special vacation.

Oh my goodness, I completely missed the mark. I failed to factor how much the boys love the beach into the equation. Having them stand on the sand, without touching it, so that we could pose for photos was not taken kindly. Timmy became irate that he couldn't dig and Robby was cranky because he wanted to hop into the waves. Within two minutes of the photographer arriving Timmy was on the ground, throwing a fit and covering himself in the very sand I was trying to keep from him. I am not sure what kind of photos the photographer was able to capture, but I do know that Timmy is covered in sand in almost all of them. 

After the photo fiasco, the day went without a hitch. Timmy was exhausted by dinner, falling asleep in his plate of spaghetti. I cleaned him up and tucked him into bed before saying goodbye to Scott and Robby for the evening. The pair went out on a nighttime deep drift fishing trip.

From the few photos I received, before the boat even left the dock, the fishermen were having a fantastic time. I can't wait to hear all about it, and to learn if they caught any fish, when they finally wake up.  Photos to be added later!





Thursday, July 26, 2018

Sand and Surf

Oh my goodness, traveling with kids is stressful!  Between breaking up fights and trying to keep Timmy occupied and happy on the flight, by the time we finally arrived at our destination Scott and I were ready for a nap. Of course the kids wanted nothing to do with relaxing and were  ready to hit the surf. 

Playing in the ocean is not among my favorite activities. I don't like having critters swim by my legs, getting sand in my prosthesis and other sensitive regions and getting knocked off balance by waves. But being with the boys when they are squealing with delight is my favorite thing in the world, so we dropped our bags in our room, changed into our swim gear and headed to the beach.  

Frustrated by the sand that compacts into the front of my foot shell, last night I have broke down and removed it completely. I realize an that walking without a foot shell is not recommended (don't do it, it will void your warranty), but my swim leg is well past its prime and I am in need of a new one anyway. I don't want to spend the next 10 days battling sand in the plastic foot, so I decided to make it easier on myself by removing the issue entirely.  

Today will be spent alternating between the beach and the pool. Hopefully I'll be able to unwind and decompress. Unfortunately my stress levels are still high (a reality that is also stressing me out). 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Vacation Time

Our bags are packed and we're ready to go to Florida. 

To say that my boys are excited is an understatement.  Timmy is delighted by the promise of going on an airplane and playing on the beach. Robby is chomping at the bit to hop into the ocean and he is counting the hours until his Sea Turtle Internship begins. Scott and I are already tired from trying to wrangle and contain both of them.

Yesterday morning I woke up early to finish some projects before packing for the trip. In between conference calls and finalizing a report I pulled clothes and organized piles for everybody. I was quasi-impressed with my multitasking!

Despite my detailed lists, it took me forever to get everybody packed. Halfway through we realized that we were going to need to break down and pay to check another bag. We tried to fit everything into one checked bag and our backpacks, but we were just inviting both injury and frustrations. As much as I despise checked bag fees, paying now is a better option than struggling for the day.  

This morning we will head to the airport and fly to Fort Lauderdale. I can't wait to see my boys playing in the sun and surf. Wish us luck as we maneuver through the airports today!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Damp in VA

All free moments, which are few and far between, have been dedicated to basement restoration. We have determined that the water came from the bottom slab instead of through the patio door. The room used to be a garage and the previous owners threw down some carpet, nailed up some wood paneling and created a bedroom. When we get large amounts of rain, the water leaks through the slap and into the carpet.  

We've had fans blowing constantly and the carpet is nearly dry, which is a good thing. Heavy rains are forecast for the next few days, which is a bad thing. I'm hoping that the slap doesn't become wet again, but at this point it is anybody's guess.  If it does leak, there really isn't anything we can do about it because we will be out of town. Soon it will be the problem of our dedicated house sitter (aka my sister). 

Today we are heading to Baltimore in preparation of our early morning flight to Florida.  While I'm looking forward to our vacation, the stress from the basement flooding has definitely hampered my enthusiasm. I feel overwhelmed and frazzled, but hopefully I'll be able to put those feelings to the side as soon as I feel the Florida sunshine.  

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Great Flood II

Saturday the boys and I packed up and we headed back home. The weather did not cooperate with our driving plans, and the skies opened up almost as soon as we got onto the highway. Driving home through torrential downpours was miserable and made our trip considerably longer than normal. 

I thought that the weather impact was limited to the drive home. The rain continued to fall throughout the evening, causing our creek to rise higher than we have ever seen. Our typical leaks sprung in our roof, and Scott and I spent the evening emptying buckets of water and laying down towels. 

When I woke up on Sunday I was relieved that the rain had finally stopped falling. According to the news, we received nearly 7 inches in about 5 hours. Yikes! No wonder the creek was high and our walls were wet. Trying to focus on happier days, I went downstairs to retrieve our suitcases so that we could begin to pack for Sea Turtle Internship.  

One step onto the carpet in our basement and I knew we had an issue. The carpets were waterlogged, and everything on the ground was soaked. We have been in this house for 13 years, but this is only the second time this has happened. From what we figure, the rain was falling at such a clip that the water wasn't able to flow away from the house fast enough. Instead it pooled in front of the sliding glass door, eventually leaking into the house.  

I spent Sunday trying to extract as much water from the carpet as possible. After I was satisfied that I couldn't get anymore out, I turned on the fans and dehumidifier. I then set out to sort and trash everything that had been impacted by the flood. Now our trashcan is full, and we have some overflow bags in the garage. 

The floor is still damp but it is improving. At some point we will need to address the cause of the flood and the holes in our roof. Sigh. Sometimes being an adult stinks!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Dutch Wonderland

With Robby occupied with his cousins at the Science Center, Scott and I decided to take full advantage of our alone time with Hamlet. After much contemplation, we packed him up and drove to a neighboring amusement park. He squealed when we drove into the parking lot and he spied a roller coaster behind the castle walls.

Dutch Wonderland specializes in smaller rides, perfect for younger children. Because the majority of the rides are smaller (and slower), the park is never as crowded as other amusement parks. The pair never waited more than one cycle to hop onto a ride, and many times they were able to just stay seated and ride again.  

Timmy and Scott rode over 20 rides before my little guy finally konked out from exhaustion.  He had an absolute blast, but it is difficult to tell who had more fun. Scott was smiling just as broadly as Timmy!

My role at Dutch Wonderland was that of photographer, map reader and bag holder. Because of the short lines, I wasn't forced to use my accessibility pass. Yesterday was my favorite way to enjoy amusement parks, as a spectator from a bench. 











Thursday, July 19, 2018

Hershey Park

Yesterday Scott and I packed up all the kiddos and headed to Hershey Park for the afternoon. Initially the prospect of taking everybody to an amusement park felt daunting. However, my niece and nephews have season passes and the park has become their summer stomping grounds. With more than a dozen trips logged, the cousins were able to become tour guides for their novice Crew member. 

As soon as we entered the gates I handed Robby his water bottle and $20 for food. With a quick wave goodbye, my little Koopa was gone. Tethered only by our cell phones, he and his cousins tackled the park independently. They Crew dutifully checked in hourly with a call or text, but other than that they were left to enjoy the park parent-free.

With Robby off with his cousins, Timmy had our full attention. He gleefully road the smaller amusements, with his smile shining brightly and his squeals of giggles resonating over the ride music.  He absolutely loves amusement parks!

Early in our trip, when it became clear that the lines were going to be an issue, I finally relented and requested the Accessibility Access Pass. The pass allows me to "Fast Track" all of the rides, essentially bypassing the snaking lines.  I took two motion sickness pills, pulled out the pass and headed to the special line.  

I love spending time with my family, but I don't enjoy amusement parks. The rides make me nothing but sick, and I find the crowds (and prices) overwhelming. Being able to bypass the long lines is a perk that helps to make the experience tolerable. Time spent standing still is minimized, keeping socket discomfort at bay. I also don't have to deal with whiny and squirmy kids, which is another bonus added!




Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Gulp Gulp

The swelling in my leg has reduced, but phantom pain returned with a vengeance last night. I'm not sure why the sudden onset, but the pain last night was relentless and strong. As I laid in bed I tried to remind myself that my limb was not being hurt, and that the pain was simply nerve endings misfiring. My internal dialog did little to relieve the sensation of my limb being stung by yellow jackets, nor did it quiet the incessant kicking that ensued. 

My phantom pain tends to increase when I'm dehydrated. Despite my good intentions, I have not been vigilant about remaining hydrated. I've been busy and self-care has taken a back seat to work, family obligations and summer ambitions.  I need to do a better job!

Last night's pain was my body yelling at me for my poor liquid intake. It is easier to drink water during the day than it is to suffer through the night. After the difficult pregnancy and the ensuing prolapse,  my bladder control stinks. I have decided that I would rather visit the bathroom frequently instead of being stung by phantom wasps through the night. 


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Resuming Normal

With the sun shining bright against blue skies, yesterday was exactly what I needed to regroup and relax. The cool pool water immediately started to help relieve the swelling in my legs, the unfortunate side effect from Sunday's travel. After a few hours of splashing and playing with the boys my legs had returned to their normal size and I began to feel calmer and happier.  

Unfortunately we won't be able to go to the pool today. The skies are already darkened and thunderstorms are on the horizon. I'm glad that we took ample advantage of the opportunity yesterday because the forecast in this area is not favorable for the next few days. Although the weather will be yucky, my flowering shrubs and our pumpkin plants will appreciate the rain. 

Robby has been asking to visit his cousins, so we are going to head up to my Mom's for a few days when there is a break in the storms. I know that the Cousin Crew will be happy to be reunited for the week. It has been awhile since they have been together and with turtle camp starting next weekend, the opportunities for them to be together soon will become scarce. 

I don't have any great adventures planned (yet), but I am sure I will come up with something!


Monday, July 16, 2018

Home

Although I never made it beyond the hotel walls, I had a great time at conference. I loved reuniting with my friends. We only see each other once a year, but our connections are strong. Social media, with all of its flaws and frustrations, is a wonderful conduit for connections.  

Traveling home was both long and tiring. Between delays and flight cancellations, my reunion with the boys was delayed until late evening. I was so grateful to finally walk off the last plane. Sitting for hours, cramped into the center seat, caused my limb to swell and my back to ache. By the time I was able to finally stretch out and walk my leg was as puffy as a giant marshmallow.  

I took a water pill as soon as I arrived home in an attempt to expel the extra fluid.  No good idea ever goes without a consequence. My leg is returning to its normal size, but I was up all night going to the bathroom. Between the jet lag, conference fatigue and the interrupted sleep, I'm dragging this morning. 

Despite being tired and puffy, I'm delighted to be home. While I had a great time visiting with my friends, I missed my family. At my core, I'm a homebody!


Friday, July 13, 2018

Day 1

Greetings from conference!

Working conference is always an exhilarating and exhausting experience. I am in constant motion, but every time I turn a corner I run into another friend. I love seeing so many familiar and wonderful faces. After attending for almost a decade, I feel like conference is a class reunion.

Setting up the booth was frustrating, primarily because it was my first time with the task. I've worked dozens of industry conferences, but I have never been in charge of booth construction. Thankfully I had some strong friends who were generous with both their time and their efforts to help me out. After trial-and-error attempts, we finally erected a standing structure for the booth backdrop.  (Hopefully I will remember how it is constructed so that next time it will be easier.) 

After the booth was constructed I spent the afternoon in meetings and talking with friends. I didn't make it back to my room until 10, which felt like 1 AM because of the time change. (This early rising Mom was up well past her bedtime.)

Today is a full day in the exhibit hall. If you are at conference, please stop by booth #310 (LIM Innovations) and say hello!  

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Travel Weary

I spent the majority of my day yesterday either at an airport or sitting on a plane. After nearly 10 hours of traveling, I finally arrived at the conference hotel. I have numerous friends who travel frequently for work. I do not possess that mentality. By the time the final plane landed I was chomping at the bit to get off of the plane.  Much respect to the travel warriors out there, because I certainly do not have the right mentality for that job!

Today will be busy with conference prep. I'm going to be busy, which is good because I won't have much time to miss my family. It will be wonderful to be reunited with my amputee friends, and engage in the conversations that can only occur when we are all together.  

Have a great day!  If you are at conference, stop by the LIM booth to say hello and a selfie!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Cow Day!

Our family loves a freebie.  Yesterday was Cow Appreciation Day at Chick Fil-A, a fun event that has become not only a family tradition but also a mission of gluttony. Whereas many families might put on a few spots to claim some free nuggets at their local restaurant for a special lunch treat, ours keeps cow costumes at the ready and carefully plans our route to be sure we visit every participating establishment within a 25 mile radius. 

We added Cow Appreciation Day to our summer traditions a few years ago, and during that time we have honed our skills.  I bought family cow costumes through the WISH app a few years ago. With each costume coming in at a mere $7, the investment has paid off in fold. (Timmy wore a homemade outfit because they didn't have costumes in his size.  Next year he will be completely match the herd.) 

In 95 degree weather we donned our heavy cow costumes, put a cooler in the back of the SUV and began our quest for free chicken. I loved seeing all of the smiles from onlookers as they noticed a car full of cows driving past them in the middle of July. After nearly two hours we had our cooler stocked with chicken and we had visited each of the five restaurants in our area. 

At least I know that the boys will eat while I'm in Tucson!


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Summer Vibes

I've been working and moving nonstop, yet it seems that my to-do list is only growing. Talk about spinning your wheels! I'm at the point where I'm going to stop writing everything down because I am finding it frustrating instead of helpful. 

In addition to trying to get everything organized and ready for conference, we have entered the portion of the summer where I want to pull my hair out and bang my head into the brick fireplace. I love Scott and Robby dearly, but having them home full time is wearing me out. 

Every time I turn around there they are, asking questions or making a mess. The extra dishes, extra bodies and extra smells are beginning to fray on my last nerve. I know that they are relishing every moment of vacation, but I find myself looking to August with longing.
I know I'm not the only mom who feels this way, right?

Conference is going to be busy and is certainly not a vacation, but I am hopeful that the time away and the change of scenery will help to reset my summer vibes. I want to feel laid back and relaxed instead of frazzled and stressed. This Momom most definitely needs a break, or a maid.  

Monday, July 09, 2018

Yard Work (Stinks)

With a break in the oppressive weather, we were able to mix up our summer routine a bit. The temperatures were warm but pleasant, and Saturday was the perfect day to play outside.  After debating our options, I settled on going to the farm. Timmy thoroughly enjoyed playing on the structures and riding the Cow Train, which he hopped onto at every opportunity. Robby decided to go Geocaching with his friend. Although I missed having him with us, I suspect he had more fun on his own adventure.

Yesterday I knew that we needed to take advantage of the favorable temperatures by tackling our yard. In full disclosure, I abhor yard work. If I could afford to hire a landscaper to keep our yard presentable, I would do it in a heartbeat.  Alas, a landscaper is out of budget so we are forced to tackle the jobs ourselves.  

Some people love pruning, weeding and perfecting their outdoor oasis. I don't relate to those people. While they are busy fertilizing the grass and artfully planting flowers, I'm struggling to simply keep our yard presentable.  Even with those low standards, we are barely achieving our goal. 

Scott took aim with the weed wacker while I stomped down rogue thorn bushes. Even though it is not my favorite task, I am the natural choice for this job. I step into the bushes with my prosthetic and trample down the thorny little invaders without feeling a scratch.   I am amazed with how quickly the thorn vines spread and swallow up everything in their path. Thankfully the vines don't stand a chance against my stomping abilities, and I am happy to report that our yard is again clear of the prickly little intruders. 

While I was busy stomping and Scott was weed whacking, Robby busied himself by blowing the leaves off our deck and off the trampoline. Timmy pushed his bubble mower around the yard, making sure to cover as much square footage as possible. After a few hours we were done with our dreaded yard work morning, allowing us to spend the rest of the day playing at the pool.  

Friday, July 06, 2018

Getting Ready

In many ways this weekend feels like the calm before an approaching storm. Next week will be both busy and hectic because I'll be packing and heading to Tucson. I am excited to attend and work at the national amputee conference, but preparing to travel is always an exercise in frustration. I am amazed at the amount of preparation required for me to leave the house for just a few days! 

This is Scott's first time alone with both Robby and Timmy for an extended period of time. (Usually when I have traveled it has been during the school year and my Mom takes Hamlet.) I know that Scott is especially nervous about trying to balance everything on his own. I assume that I am going to spend the weekend cooking meals and setting him up for success as much as possible.   

I remember how much Scott and Robby cherished their trip to Tucson a few years ago. If it had been feasible, I would have loved to have them embark on another father/ son southwest adventure. Being back at their special hotel without them is going to be bittersweet. 

Even though I am going to miss my family, I'm looking forward to being reunited with my amputee friends. Conference is one of the rare occasions where I am not unique or an oddity. Instead, I am merely just another amputee in a sea of others. It is empowering to feel "normal," even if it is only for a few days.  

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Laid Back

As anticipated, yesterday was an extremely laid back holiday. We had toyed with the idea of going to the pool for a few hours in the afternoon, but Scott and Timmy ended up taking long naps. It has been a long time since Timmy has taken a nap, so I took the opportunity to get some work done.  It was strange having the house so quiet in the middle of the afternoon, but I was grateful for the ability to concentrate without interruption.  

Robby, my little entrepreneur, decided to take advantage of the holiday traffic through our neighborhood by setting up a lemonade and cookie stand at the entrance to our development. He and his friend Rowan worked their business throughout the afternoon and each pocketed a nice little profit for their efforts. Spurred by their success, the pair are already planning other money making adventures for the summer and fall traffic.  

Having a holiday in the middle of a work week feels anti-climactic and odd. Maybe it is because we didn't do anything celebratory, but it was hard to distinguish that yesterday was anything special. With the exception of the constant bangs and flashes of fireworks through the sky all night, I might have forgotten it was the Fourth of July.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Happy Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July!

With no real plans, this year we are having a laid back holiday. We will probably go to the pool for a few hours and throw some burgers on the grill for dinner. I'm sure that Robby and his friends will ride through the neighborhood this evening in search of neighbors blowing up fireworks. Other than that, we aren't doing a whole lot.  To be honest, not doing anything feels perfect right now!

Yesterday ended up being more emotional than I anticipated. I was fine until Scott surprised me by taking me to one of my favorite restaurants for dinner. It was also my Dad's favorite restaurant, and we have never been there without him.  Walking into the restaurant, filled with so many memories of my Dad, brought a wave of grief I wasn't anticipating.  

I was okay through dinner, but I broke down after I tucked Timmy into bed. I guess every once in awhile I still need a good cry.  I'm pretty sure I was crying more over my Dad than my leg, but by the time I went to bed my emotions were all jumbled. I was a mess! 

Needless to say, I'm glad that my Ampuversary is over.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Happy Ampuversary

The Fourth of July might be tomorrow, but today I'm celebrating my personal Independence Day. Fifteen years ago this morning I embarked on a journey that changed my life. In many ways it feels like a different lifetime, yet at the same time I remember the emotions as if it were yesterday.

I think about that day fifteen years ago and the fear, grief and confusion that I felt on that morning envelopes me. I feel sad, but probably not for the reasons that people expect. I no longer spend my Ampuversary mourning the loss of my limb. 

Instead of mourning, this morning I feel sad as I reflect upon the memories. I was so scared that morning fifteen years ago. Feeling lost, all I could do was to remind myself to keep breathing. I couldn't speak without crying, yet I knew in my heart that I needed to sacrifice my broken limb for a chance at a better life. I wish that I hadn't been as petrified, but I don't think I could have done anything to prevent my primal emotional response. 

It feels surreal that fifteen years have passed since that petrifying morning. I wish I could go back in time to reassure myself that I was going to be okay. (Of course, I probably wouldn't have believed myself!) 

So much has changed in the fifteen years since becoming an amputee. I hoped for a better life, yet reality has exceeded any hopes and wishes made so many years ago. I have a fantastic life.

Being an amputee is only one adjective that is used to define who I am. I have two wonderful kids who call my Momom. I never would have been able to be the mother they deserve when I was struggling to salvage my foot. I have a new career, and I am involved in an amazing community of peers. I am extremely blessed, and that is what I am choosing to celebrate today.  Happy Ampuversary to me!

Monday, July 02, 2018

Settling into Summer

It certainly took awhile, but it feels like summer has finally arrived. The temperatures have been hot and the sun has been shining bright, allowing us to escape to the pool each afternoon. Both boys are little water bugs and could stay splishing and splashing all day. I love our lazy summer afternoons!

Ten years ago, the idea of going to the pool would leave me angst ridden. As I'm growing older I'm adopting more of an "I don't give a damn" attitude. Several years ago it occurred to me that not one person is judging my jiggly bum and dimpled thighs when I walk by. In fact, not only are they not judging my flaws, I venture to say that they don't even notice. When I walk around the pool deck, eyes never seem to move beyond my prosthesis. I could walk around completely naked and I don't think anybody would notice.

I've decided to embrace the distraction instead of being frustrated by it. Because nobody is looking beyond my leg, I feel comfortable being myself without feeling insecure about my shape. I'm now able to play with the kids and have a great time without the constant worry that used to plague my swimsuit reveal. Talk about feeling empowered! I suppose this is an unlikely benefit of being an amputee woman.

This morning I was up early, knocking out some work before the sun comes up. The forecast is predicting more hot temperatures, so I'll be heading to the pool for a few hours this afternoon. I could get used to this summertime routine!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Swimming and Geocaching

Yesterday we had planned to return to Virginia, but Robby asked to extend our stay so he could go to the pool with his cousins.  The temperatures were hot and the sun was blazing. Lacking any real reason to return home immediately, I decided that staying and swimming would be a good use of our day.  

Robby, Timmy and Tiffany all had a blast splashing and playing in the pool. After a few hours we returned back to my Mom's, where we dried off and ate dinner. When Timmy was sleeping for the night we sneaked out and went Geocaching at a local park. We topped off our Geocaching with a trip to the ice cream shop.

Driving back to my Mom's we noticed the bright yellow full moon. I encouraged my nephew to pull out his telescope so we could all take a better look. At first he said that he couldn't find it, but finally admitted that he didn't know how to use it. With a "don't worry, I've got this" attitude, Robby grabbed the telescope and set it up like a seasoned pro.  We ended up setting up the telescope in the middle of the street (thankfully there is little to no traffic that time of night) and Robby helped JR learn how to use it. 

I'm relieved that it is finally Friday. With near constant travel, I'll be glad when things finally slow down for awhile. Although we all had fun in Ohio, the stress of trying to keep the boys tame while around others is simply exhausting.  Today the boys and I are headed home. I have to admit I'm looking forward to kicking my leg off, curling up on my couch in my jammies and sipping on a glass (or two) of wine.  



Thursday, June 28, 2018

TSA "Screening"

My recent airline travel has confirmed my belief that TSA is in desperate need of continued training. None of the agents I encountered knew how to handle my prosthetic. I know how the screening is supposed to unfold and I become frustrated when I seem to know protocol more than the employees!

The "security" screening on our outbound trip consisted of the agent asking me what other people do, followed by a quick "I think you're fine honey. Have a good day." I wasn't swabbed, nor was I patted down. It doesn't exactly instill confidence, does it?

On the return trip, the agent only did a visible inspection. Although, in all fairness, using the term "inspection" may be deceiving. In reality she looked at my prosthesis, said "I see you have one of those prosthetic legs. I think I have to swab your hands."  After my hands (but not my prosthetic) were swabbed, I received a kind "Go ahead dear." It is frustrating that the TSA screening experience continues to be piecemeal and inconsistent.

After a long evening of travel, we arrived safely at my Mom's house. Today we will make the final of our trip as we return to VA. The boys and I have been away now for two weeks and I think we are all anxious to go home.

Traveling with Timmy went as well as anticipated. He was high maintenance but behaved, which is really all that matters. We lucked out by discovering a playground at the airport, allowing him a much needed energy outlet before being confined in a seat. If you ask me, every airport would benefit from not only continued disability training for their TSA agents but also by offering a small playground.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Last Day in Ohio

Yesterday we packed up the boys (and Grandma) and headed to a local amusement park. The weather was overcast and muggy, but the boys were excited for an adventure. Although the weather was overcast and muggy.  Eventually the skies opened and we were treated to the much anticipated thunderstorm. We were bummed to get rained out of our Ohio adventure, but at least the boys were able to ride without interruption for two hours. 

Today we are packing up and heading home. Well, at least back to Pennsylvania. We fly into Philadelphia tonight and will drive to my Mom's for the night. Tomorrow we will (finally) return to Virginia. Robby, Timmy and I haven't been home for two weeks. Although we have had a lot of fun, it is time to go home.





Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Day 3

Hello from Ohio (again).  

Yesterday was laid back.  Scott and the kids ran errands with his Mom while I stayed back to work. I know that his Mom appreciated the alone time with the boys and I truly appreciated the quiet opportunity to focus on my computer. 

Today we are going to a small amusement park in the area. I know that Robby and Timmy will thoroughly enjoy running and playing. Both have some penned up energy that needs a constructive outlet. They have been well-behaved so far, but neither of us want to risk what might come from the boys being idle for too long.  


Monday, June 25, 2018

Picnic

Greetings from Ohio. 

Saturday morning we woke up before dawn and headed to the airport to catch a 6 AM flight to Ohio so we could attend Scott's family reunion. Traveling with a tween and a toddler is stressful under the best circumstances. With everybody sleep deprived, nervous and cranky, the trip was anything but relaxing!

The picnic went well. Robby thoroughly enjoyed speaking with his Great Uncle Grover, who was a POW from WWII. My little history buff sat next to him for hours, asking questions and absorbing all of the information he could glean. He even recorded some of the conversation so he could have it for future reference. I was impressed by Robby's questions and proud of his thoughtful behavior during the interaction.

While Robby was busy talking I was running after Timmy, who was his typical bundle of energy. He alternated between jumping on the trampoline, petting the bunnies and the admiring the chicken coup. By the time the afternoon was over we were both filthy, sweaty and tired.  

Today I will have the boys to myself while Scott runs errands with his mom and sister. After the commotion of the past few days, I'm looking forward to some quiet time. While I take the opportunity to knock out some work, I think Timmy will be content to play with his trains and watch cartoons while Robby will occupy himself playing video games. I'm sure that they will be ready to go by the time Scott comes home from his excursions.  

Friday, June 22, 2018

Jubilee Day

Yesterday afternoon I decided to pack up the Cousin Crew and surprise them with a visit to a local street fair.  The organizers of the "Jubilee" tout it to be the longest running (and largest) one day street fair on the East coast and, since it was a beautiful day, I thought we would check it out.  The kids love grabbing free giveaways and with over 300 vendors signed on for the event, I figured that they would have a blast filling their bags with swag. 

Donning their tie dyed Cousin Crew shirts, the kids grabbed some empty bags and piled into the car. We arrived relatively early in the afternoon, which allowed us to park relatively close to the fair. As we walked towards the roped off streets we were hit with the wafting aromas of roasting meat, popcorn, french fries and cotton candy. (In other words, the smells of summer.)

The kids went to work searching for loot as soon as we walked into the fair. We methodically went up one side and down another, spinning every wheel and playing every Plinko game. They picked up extra bags when their original one was stuffed. By the time we were done we had walked 17,000 steps and each tween had accumulated four bags of swag.  

We had a great time at the Jubilee- with one glaring exception. One vendor, who was advertising hosting foreign exchange students (how ironic) both insulted and mocked Robby's speech impairment. When we first encountered her, she commented on Robby's unique "accent." This is not an unusual response to hearing him for the first time. It is something that Robby and I have both become accustomed to handling. I quickly informed her that he does not have an accent but is working hard to overcome his speech issues. 

Usually telling people about the speech issue quells the conversation. Not with this lady. She proceeded to parrot back Robby's words, mimicking his impairment and laughing. Robby was mortified. I was irate. The other cousins were frustrated and angry for him.

We proceeded through the Jubilee, but eventually I decided I needed to do something. Robby (and the Cousin Crew) needed to see me stick up for him. I walked back to the tent and politely confronted the vendor on her response. In a calm tone (for which I deserve credit because I wanted to go ballistic) I let her know that she both insulted and embarrassed my son when she mimicked his speech patterns. She was informed about his impairment, and the fact that he was working hard to correct it, yet she chose to engage in mocking behavior.  

She apologized, but I suspect it was more to close the conversation so I didn't make a scene in her tent. I left, satisfied that I stuck up for my child but frustrated that we live in a world where I had to confront an adult for making fun of him.  

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Be Prepared

Relying upon manufactured devices, which occasionally breakdown, is one of the most frustrating aspects of living as an amputee. When my prosthesis works perfectly, living as an amputee is my norm. I put my leg on in the morning and I really don't think about it throughout the day. When my prosthesis fails, being an amputee jumps to the forefront of all thoughts.

At the beginning of this month, while at the World War II weekend with Robby, my liner developed a significant tear along the back of my leg. Because my limb wasn't protected by the silicone, each step was painful as my skin became increasingly raw from the rubbing. By the end of the first day I was hobbling around both in pain and with a horrific gait. 

I refused to slow down because I knew how much Robby adored the event, but I was definitely struggling to keep up with him. When packing for the event I failed to put an extra liner in the suitcase, which was a rookie mistake. (I have been an amputee long enough to appreciate that component failures always happen at the most inopportune moments.) Thankfully Scott was coming to the event the next day and was able to bring a new liner to me but I was silently cursing myself for not bringing it with me.

While at the beach with the kids I lost the top of my suction valve. I have no idea when or where I lost it, I only realized it was missing when I couldn't maintain suction in my leg. Thankfully I had my repair kit with me and I was able to replace it quickly. I would have struggled to walk safely had I not been able to pop in a new valve.

Prosthetic failures frustrate me because I am reminded of the vulnerability of my mobility. One tiny tear, or if one small piece of plastic can derail my plans for the day. Thankfully both of my recent issues were easy to remedy, but that isn't always the case. After what happened at the World War II weekend, I won't make the mistake of traveling without my repair kit again!  


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Although we didn't do anything grand, the Cousin Crew had a great time yesterday.  We had planned on visiting the pool, but (per recent trends) the weather failed to cooperate. The threat of thunderstorms kept us close to home and indoors most of the day.

The clouds broke for a brief period in the afternoon, allowing us to play outside. I pulled out some white t-shirts and the color filled water balloons. After splashing themselves with dye, we introduced another variable by showering them with color run chalk. Soon everybody was running through the yard, squealing and laughing while surrounded by clouds of colorful chalk plumes.

It was fun to see everybody, including my mom and my sister, get into the colorful spirit. My sister was colored with chalk and my Mom had a great time dousing the kids when they ran by her.  Timmy was ecstatic to be participating with the big kids and, since he is by far the smallest, seemed to be the most colorful. 

After the chalk packets were gone I had everybody run through the sprinkler to clean off. In the evening we went outside and tie-dyed our white shirts before spending the rest of the time playing games. 





Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Quick Trip

Although Scott is technically on summer vacation, his school system has required mandatory overtime for three days this summer. Receiving compensation for the overtime is some solace for delaying the start of his vacation, but I know he would rather be home than sitting in a school cafeteria for eight hours a day.  Because he isn't going to be home until late afternoon, the boys and I packed up and headed to my Mom's. The Cousin Crew is delighted to be reunited.

We don't have any great plans, but that doesn't seem to have impacted their fun. Last night they stayed up late playing Truth or Dare. Squeals of laughter and commotion filled the house into the wee hours of the morning. I just love hearing them all so happy!

Today I think we are going to an Escape Room in the afternoon. (The kids have been dropping not so subtle hints about a new one that opened in town.) Weather permitting, we are going to go GeoCaching at the local park. It should be fun for all!