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.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


My hair has been colored and sundresses have been purchased. A base tan (albeit weak) has been achieved. I managed to shed those pesky 10 pounds, leaving me hungry and a tad grumpy, but feeling more confident and attractive.

California, here we come! Of course, before we could go and enjoy our West Coast adventure, there was one more small detail to tackle. I had to pack.

Here is my packing list for our California trip. Who would have thought that a toddler and a Mommy would need so much stuff? I also discovered that my prosthetic legs take up a lot of room in the suitcase necessitating the use of another large bag.


We are now packed, with the exception of Black Bear who will be grabbed tomorrow morning. (He is needed tonight.) I also found Robby's "leash" so that I can maintain control over him at the airport and Disneyland. He will not be happy being tethered, and I am anticipating a vocal exchange. I will win!

Wish me luck flying alone. Maneuvering through security with a prosthetic and Robby could be tricky. Thankfully our flight is early (7:00 am) so we should avoid crowds. At least, that is my plan. I have learned that each security gate approaches an amputee differently, so I never quite know what to expect.

Traveling to California resulted in a windfall of new toys and games for Robby. He will (hopefully) be entertained with his new Leapster 2 and assorted games (thank you Nana), his travel Memory game, his new Hidden Pictures books, Colorforms and Aquadoodle. If the toys fail to entertain him, we spent a fortune on various snacks and treats. Yes, I fully intend to bribe him.

Hopefully the next time I post we'll be in California, enjoying the sun and the pool. I continue to be worried about traveling alone with Robby and about the experience in general. I am also excited and ready to embrace this adventure. After all, worse case scenario we get kicked off the plane somewhere in Kansas, and I have to rent a car and drive to California. Believe me, I will let you know if that happens. Until then, I continue to be optimistic. California or Bust!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Getting Ready

I am starting to become nervous about my upcoming California adventure. While I'm flattered by the invitation, I must admit to being apprehensive about participating in an actual photo shoot. It is a good thing that Robby will be with me. I'm hoping that some of his cuteness rubs off!

Scott, sensing my trepidation, scheduled and surprised me with an appointment to get my hair colored. I was touched and appreciative of this thoughtful gesture. Despite my monthly attempts at coloring my hair, the shade always washes out to a dull terracotta. I certainly didn't want to go to California with orange hair. I definitely needed professional intervention.

I knew as soon as I walked into the salon that I was going to be out of my element. The stylists who work there consider themselves to be elite artists. The sparsely decorated environment is supposed to be "chic and hip," but as I was sitting there I couldn't help but think that it looked barren and boring.

Regardless of how I tried to hold my head high, I couldn't help but feel out of place. To make matters worse, I immediately felt that the ladies around me viewed me as an "outsider" and that I was somehow beneath them. I tried to say hello to the woman next to me only to be shushed by the shampoo girl. Apparently talking in this salon is frowned upon.

After what seemed like an eternity, my "colorist" finally approached me. "Hi Peggy. I'm Monica. My goodness, I can see that you are treating yourself to some nice color today. (She haphazardly tosses some of my hair.) This must be quite special." I was insulted her snooty tone and demeaning inferences. How dare she insinuate that I color my own hair, even though I do, and that I do not pamper myself, even though I don't!

I realized in this moment that I wasn't going to fit in with this clientele. I decided to stop trying to be sophisticated and to just start being Peggy. I spotted a bowl of Hershey Kisses on the table and grabbed a handful as I made my way to the coloring "suite."

Monica, with the help of a color "designer" worked to foil and paint my hair. It is a vulnerable feeling when your hair is in foil and your head smells from the chemicals. I felt ugly. They made no attempt to learn about me or to make small talk. Instead they spoke with the lady in the chair next to me who had just returned from a trip to Spain.

I learned all about her travels and the exotic food that she enjoyed. I felt like I should interject into the conversation. After all, although I am by no means a world traveler, I do have a few stamps on my passport. I listened diligently searching for the opportune moment to speak. I should have waited longer. Before I realized it, I heard the statement, "They have great chili dogs in Ohio" come out of my mouth. That ended the conversation.

After my hair was foiled I was ushered into another waiting area, this one more sparsely decorated than the previous one. I was happily munching on my chocolate kisses and sipping coffee when I decided that I may not fit in but that I was paying for the service and I was going to enjoy the experience. I grabbed another handful of chocolate.

I was approached by Monica, who checked the processing of my hair. She then knelt down and in a hushed tone asked if I wanted her to do something about my eyebrows. I immediately felt self-conscious and my eye lids became heavy under the weight of my apparently overgrown brows. I agreed to be waxed.

It wasn't until the hot wax was ripped off my brow that I realized that perhaps there was nothing obtrusive about my eyebrows. Perhaps Monica was just trying to play off my insecurities in order to bill for more services. The salon had a snobby air, but it was certainly not busy.

I knew, as the fabric swatch was being pulled off my face, that I was being played. In the same whispered tone, Monica asked if I would like her to "address my mustache." I told her that was fine, but to leave my beard alone. She made no more suggestions concerning my grooming.

I left the salon with beautifully colored and highlighted hair, waxed eye brows and a hairless upper lip. I also left with a handful of Hershey Kisses and two packs of peanut butter crackers tucked into my purse. I am pleased with the outcome of my hair although I admit that I would be hesitant to return to the salon. I have come to the conclusion that I am simply not an "elitist" person. However, my freshly dyed hair has boosted my self-confidence as I prepare for our big California adventure.

Robby and I leave for California on Sunday morning. To say that I'm nervous would be an understatement. I worry about the flight, in particular Robby's behavior. I worry about how Robby will react to staying in a hotel. I am hoping that Robby Rotten stays in Virginia and that the thrill of a new adventure will temper his demon wings.

I am nervous about meeting the expectations of the photographers. I am a Mom; I am not a model. I am hoping that they keep that in mind when I am being photographed.

Despite being scared silly, I am excited. I am going to make every effort to absorb the experience. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I want to soak in every moment. I will post a blog on Sunday after we land. Fingers crossed that I will be writing from our hotel room and not from an airport terminal where Robby Rotten was removed from the plane.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pretty Like a What?

Before I lost weight, I used to hate clothes shopping. I easily became frustrated with both the size that I needed and the style of the "fat clothes" from which I was forced to pick. Let's face it, nothing cute comes in a size 18 -20.

I am now a size 12, and shopping is easier and more fun. I typically don't have problems finding an outfit, and I am able to choose from more contemporary styles. Shopping no longer stresses me, unless of course I'm searching for one very specific item. When that is the case, Murphy's Law always rears its head and I often spend hours frantically looking for something that should be relatively easy to locate.

I was asked to bring some sundresses to the California photo shoot. "No problem," I thought to myself. It's the middle of May, so locating a sundress should be easy. I'd been in the mall a few weeks earlier and saw some adorable dresses. I was actually pleased that the photographer requested a sundress. I find it easier to camouflage my ample hips and plump bum in a well designed dress.

I drove up to my Mom's for the day, left Robby Rotten with her and hit the mall. I was optimistic as I drove, envisioning that the most difficult aspect was going to be narrowing down my choices. I was feeling pretty and perhaps a tad cocky.

I sauntered through the first store, confident in my dress shopping abilities and proud of my figure. And then I reached the dress racks. There were not nearly as many dresses as I had seen just weeks earlier. The dresses that remained were too small and those that might fit were unsightly. Strike one.

Undeterred, I walked through the mall and looked in every clothing store. If I had needed booty shorts or metallic mini-skirts, I would have been in the perfect place. I found a number of sequined left-over prom dresses, some swim suit covers and a crocheted dress that could be personalized with "fancy" undergarments. I did not find a single sundress. Strike two.

Baseball has three strikes before the batter is out. Thankfully shopping is not like baseball. I drove to two other department stores across town, providing strikes three and four. I was discouraged, tired and hungry. I drove back to my Mom's to eat dinner and formulate a new plan.

My Mom and I came up with a strategic plan of attack. After dinner we set out to the outlet mall. I was not terribly optimistic, but she remained upbeat and confident in our dress finding abilities. Robby happily sung to himself in the back seat, occasionally reminding me that he will help me find a "pretty pretty dress."

We parked in front of the Liz Claiborne outlet and I grabbed my purse from the back seat. I was about to unbuckle Robby from his booster seat when I glanced in the window. I saw "my dress" in the window. I took off running through the parking lot, leaving my Mom to unbuckle and gather up my child. I had to have that dress!

I entered the store and immediately found my size. And then I found another dress that was cute. By the time my Mom and Robby came into the store I was clutching three dresses and grabbing for another.

Robby came back to the dressing room with me. Unlike me, he enjoys being in a room surrounded by mirrors! I, on the other hand, often attempt to dress without peeking so that I don't have to see my rear jiggle as I wiggle into the clothes.

I slipped into the first dress, stepped out of the dressing room and modeled for my Mom and Robby. My Mom thought the dress was the perfect fit. Robby, animated and excited, jumped and clapped his hands. He proudly proclaimed that I looked "like a beautiful whale."

I've never before thought that being called a whale would be a good thing. I am not sure how Robby came up with that compliment, but I know that he meant to be nice. So, I bought the dress and two others. When I wear the dress for the photos, I know that I will be smiling and that I will feel pretty. After all, I'm a beautiful whale in that dress!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bringing on Middle Age

Well, as of today I am officially 36. Wow, that is hard for me to wrap my head around. I realize that 36 is not old, but I am certainly no longer young. Much to my chagrin I am, by all accounts, officially middle aged. I am not happy about this!

The strange thing is that I don't feel middle aged. In many ways I am stronger now than I was in my twenties. I am able to ride by bike 40 miles at a time. I can keep up and run with the toddlers on the playground where I have noticed parents half my age are sitting. I am training for my first running race. I am in the best shape of my life.

My age comes shining through when it comes to my knowledge of contemporary entertainment. I don't understand The Hills, nor do I particularly care to try. I no longer know half of the actors who appear on talk shows, and I don't comprehend the lyrics to most songs.

I can name all of the characters on The Backyardigans. I can also sing the theme songs to most Nick Jr. shows. But I don't know what Little Bow-Wow does, or if there is a Bow-Wow Senior, but I have seen him appear on the Today Show. I had to Google Lady Gaga so that I could understand a reference on Facebook.

Physically I feel young. From the social entertainment perspective, I am old. No, I'm not watching The Lawrence Welk show, but I do love The Waltons. I suppose, by modern standards, John Boy Walton is one step away from the bubbles and big band orchestra of my grandfather's generation.

Today is my birthday. It is a day for me to celebrate my accomplishments and to reformulate my dreams and goals. I am strong, happy and celebrity inept. I am hoping to increase my strength in the coming year, but I have little hope of identifying the celebrities in People Magazine.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You Never Know...

I have discovered that I hate running. It feels unnatural to be running for no reason. Sometimes I find myself imagining that I am being chased by a charging lion. In my life scenario, running has a purpose.

I feel self-conscious when I run. My movements are not refined and graceful like experienced runners, and I know that I look awkward and ridiculous. I blame my middle school softball coach for my running anxiety. He asked my Mom if I was "deformed" when he saw me run. Apparently I was lacking grace back then, too.

I was an unsightly and uncoordinated runner before my amputation. Now that I am relying upon a prosthetic, the visual has become worse. My only saving grace is that the eyes of spectators are naturally drawn to my prosthetic leg, and they are probably so surprised by seeing an amputee run that they are unaware of my style.

Despite feeling like an unsightly running fool, I have taken my training seriously. Every evening after the dinner dishes have been cleaned, I change into my cute running outfit, swap out my leg and go for a jog. I always take my cell phone but I try to leave my vanity at home. I try to remind myself that I am running for a cause, and I give myself credit for trying something which is both physically and emotionally difficult.

I traverse the same route. I am becoming familiar with various landmarks which I use to mark my progress. I can't help but lament the fact that, if I had a completely comfortable socket, my goal would be easier to attain. At this point, after numerous visits to the prosthetist, I am beginning to think that my prosthetic issues are par for the course for the amputee runner. I am not sure that further adjustments will help so perhaps I need to build up my tolerance with my running leg.

I was jogging past a house in the neighborhood when an elderly man came running out his front door. I wanted to keep moving, but I knew that he wanted to talk. I am glad that I stopped.

He told me that he has been watching me run past his house every day. He explained that his wife had a stroke six months ago and has been depressed because walking is difficult. When he told her that an amputee was running everyday, she apparently perked up. He told me that now, every evening after they finish their dinner, she sits in her front window and waits for me to run by. She is starting to participate more in her therapy and seems happier and more motivated.

Wow. I wiped a tear from my eye after he told me his story. I was humbled and immediately felt unworthy of this praise.

I began running out of a sense of adventure. I wanted to prove to myself that I had the ability to complete a 5K. I wanted to test my abilities and my strength. I wanted to show that although I am an amputee, I am strong and capable. I never, in my wildest imagination, ever thought that I would be able to motivate a stranger merely by jogging past their house.

I am going to keep running out of the commitment I made to myself. It takes me a little longer now to get home. But I don't mind the extra time because I get to stop and chat with two new friends along my route.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dig Dig Digging

It has been brought to my attention that it is my turn to host the neighborhood picnic. Actually, I was gently informed that last year was our turn to host. This was a surprise to both Scott and me. We can only recall one picnic since we moved here 5 years ago, and nothing was spoken about a revolving event.

Nevertheless, in the effort to restore neighborhood unity and goodwill, I offered to host the picnic this summer. I spoke with several neighbors about possible dates and I have finally chosen a time when everybody should be home. I just needed to touch base with Sally, our immediate neighbor next door, to run dates by her.

A few days ago Robby and I were playing outside when Sally drove by. We waved, and she stopped her car to chat. After exchanging pleasantries, I immediately told her about my plan to host the neighborhood picnic. (Sally was quite vocal about her disappointment that Scott and I failed to live up to our responsibilities by foregoing a picnic last summer.) I thought that she would be pleased that I was fulfilling my obligation, instead she began to scowl.

Although I was surprised by her response, I am able to recall the conversation verbatim. "A picnic is a great idea. Yes, I think you are right and it might be your turn. You could, of course, have it here (my yard) but um, don't you think my yard is a tad more conducive to entertaining?"

I just stared, shocked at what I was hearing. She continued. "Of course, I understand that you want to be hostess. How about we have it in my yard, which is more suitable for company. You can, of course, provide all of the food and supplies. You can even put your name on the invitation as co-hostess."

I smiled, told her that Robby needed a bath, and quickly retreated inside. I was surprised that somebody would be so rude. The exchange has caused both Scott and I to analyze our yard.

We live on two acres in the woods. No, our yard is not immaculate. We have toys and a few overgrown weeds. We don't have a zen rock garden or a koi pond. I suppose that Sally's yard has been designed to entertain whereas ours is used for exploring and playing. In any case, I was insulted. I suppose a benefit of being insulted has been motivation to fix up our back yard.

I spent yesterday outside, weeding and trimming. I cut down ugly bushes and overhanging tree limbs. Actually, I think I went a little lopper happy. I cut the branches off of every bush and small plant. Finally, I gave up and proceeded to dig up every bush in our backyard. I reasoned that we have enough trees and that bushes simply aren't necessary!

One unexpected benefit of a prosthetic is the ease in trampling down branches and thorny bushes. As long as I remember to lead with my left leg (my prosthetic side) I never get cut! I also discovered that I can dislodge most root systems simply by repeatedly kicking the stump with my prosthetic. I can kick harder than most people because I don't have to worry about stubbing my toes. Landscaping with a prosthetic is a breeze!

I was on a roll pulling up bushes until I tried to move the dying rhododendron. I have hated this bush since we moved in. Half the leaves are dead, and it has failed to produce any flowers. Unfortunately, this bush was tall (at least 9 feet) and was quite established. I knew that I was going to need the shovel.

After about 20 minutes of digging, the overgrown eyesore was loosened. I knew that one more dig and the plant would be gone for good. I felt victorious as I pounded the shovel into the ground one last time. My victory at the imminent felling of an ugly eye sore quickly morphed into fright.

Apparently the previous owners of this house had a dog. To my horror I unearthed the remains of Fido, who was wearing a blue collar and had (at least some) tan fur. As soon as I processed what I dug up, I went running from the makeshift cemetery/ flower bed as quickly as I could, screeching like a little girl. I have come to the conclusion that home owners should be required to provide new occupants with a map of where various pet remains have been buried.

Scott had to move the rhododendron and has promised me that Fido will never again see the light of day. I have decided that I am never going to plant anything in that flower bed for fear of digging up another pet. If we ever do host the neighborhood picnic, I have decided to put the chairs for Sally's family near that flower bed. If she thinks our yard is unsuitable now, she would be distressed to know that she was eating in the midst of a pet cemetery!