About Me

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

Friday, May 28, 2010

Our final photo yesterday. (Yes, they picked the blue dress.)

Homeward Bound

As soon as Robby wakes up this morning, we are going to become extremely busy. We are going to scoot downstairs for a quick breakfast, then return to our room to pack up. Today, we fly home!

I have had a wonderfully busy time in California. Yesterday was the day-long photo shoot. We arrived on set at 9, and continued shooting video and pictures until about 5. Robby was such a trooper. He had one "mini meltdown" at about 3:00. The fit didn't last long, but it was a doozy!

I can hardly blame him, though. He was awoken from a sound sleep to change his clothes so that he could be used as a prop. At this point he had been taking pictures for six hours with very little down time. He was tired of people being in his face and having to stand still and smile. Truth be told, so was I.

My day was not without incident. Yet again, my natural grace and poise became evident. I was trying to pull Robby's wagon down a steep incline on a wooden path. The soil out here is loose and dry, not compact and stiff like in Virginia. The incline was steep and the path was rutted. In retrospect, this was a recipe for disaster.

I fell down the hill on the first take. My feet kept slipping on the dirt, and I knew I was going down. I also knew that if I let go of the wagon, Robby was going to go on a wild ride through the woods. I instinctively fell in front of the wagon.

I shrugged off the fall out of embarrassment because I wanted to appear like a capable woman, but I had hurt my hand. Two fingers on my right hand are not bending well, and are purple and swollen. The knuckles are sore to touch.

Despite my tumble and sore fingers, this has been an experience of a lifetime. Although Robby is young, I am confident that he will maintain some memories of this trip. We are certainly going to have enough pictures to remind him!

I am sure I am going to write more about the photo shoot in the next day or two. Right now, I need to focus on flying home. I am optimistic that Robby will continue his string of good behavior, at least until we touch down in DC. If not, I will be writing from an airport terminal somewhere in Kansas after we get kicked off the plane. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wardrobe Malfunction

I'm writing this blog with Robby sleeping next to me in our hotel room. It has been a long but exhilarating afternoon and I'm so glad that my little guy can sleep soundly. He is peacefully sleeping while my head feels like it is spinning out of control. Hopefully I'll be able to fall asleep soon. Tomorrow is going to be even longer, and I need to look at least semi-refreshed.

After two fun filled California vacation days, Robby and I had to go to "work" today. We were scheduled to begin the video/ photo shoot this afternoon. After breakfast Robby was dumped into the bathtub where the syrup and dirt were scrubbed away. He was squeaky clean until he immediately devoured a blue cupcake. He then needed a second bath to remove the "smurf like" sugary layer on his face and hands.

With Robby's second bath complete, I set about beautifying myself. I primped all morning, trying to look absolutely perfect. I can honestly say that I didn't spend that much time getting ready for my wedding!

As the shoot time neared, I began to feel nervous, insecure, inadequate and ugly. I have no delusions about who I am. I am a lot of things and I have a lot of talents. Modeling is not one of them. I was beginning to think that the company made a mistake, and part of me worried that they would take one look at me and ask me to refund the expenses.

To my delight, the photographers and company representatives did not seem remorseful about their decision to hire Robby and me. We were ushered into the studio where Robby was allowed time just to play and to adjust to the new people. He helped assemble a red wagon while I went into the back for the video interview.

I am always nervous speaking, a fact that I am sure would come as a surprise to many of my friends. After a few minutes I began to feel more comfortable. I suppose my "teacher persona" started to emerge as my answers and explanations became more natural and fluid. In any case, everybody seemed pleased with the result.

Building from the success of the video shoot, Robby was ushered back to take some still photos. We changed into our outfits, stood in front of the cameras and smiled. Robby was a trooper. He said "cheeezzzeeee" with each picture, being careful to shine his biggest gapped tooth smile. He was charming, animated and photogenic. As he hammed it up for the camera, I began to feel my anxiety melt away.

The agenda for today actually finished early because of Robby's excellent behavior and the ease of the video shoot. We were invited to dinner. Again, I was doubtful that Robby would be able to maintain good behavior, but accepting the invitation was the proper thing so I decided to take a chance.

Robby's behavior was initially mediocre to poor. He was tired, hungry and antsy. We were in a fancy restaurant. He pleaded to go to IHOP. I was planning my graceful exit when I was thrown a lifeline.

A friend with whom I've worked several conferences showed up at the dinner, and she brought her two children. Robby had other little people to talk to and to play with. He was occupied and began to behave. Again, I was relieved and grateful. I wasn't forced to abandon dinner because of Robby Rotten.

Robby was sitting across from me, between his new friend and an executive with the company. All of a sudden, he taps the man's shoulder, asking him if he "pee peed too." Obviously the man was surprised, and responded that he did not urinate. Robby's pants, the seat and perhaps more mortifying the executive's pant leg were soaked. Apparently Robby wiggled out of his diaper and peed all over the company's executive. Robby experienced his own "wardrobe malfunction."

There is no graceful way of apologizing for your child after he pees on someone. Especially when that "someone" was responsible for inviting you to a photo shoot and for bringing us to California. Robby told him that he was "sorry he pee peed on your leg" many times, and then he continued to tell him that "pee pee" should go into the potty instead of on your leg.

Today has been a true roller coaster of emotions. I started excited, and then terrified. At one point I wanted to curl up into a ball and hide from the world. I then felt happy, exhilarated and successful. Then Robby peed on our host, pushing me back into the curling up like a ball phase.

Tomorrow morning I am going to get up early and buy better diapers. I am then going to primp and go to the full day photo shoot. Hopefully Robby will behave and will be photogenic and charming and I will feel pretty and successful. More importantly, I am hoping that he will not pee on anybody!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Yesterday was Day Three of "Mommy and Robby's California Adventure." He was exhausted after the day running through the aquarium and "swimming" in the shark tank, and I wasn't sure he would want to do anything except veg out and relax. I should have known that a toddler never wants to relax. First thing in the morning, after stretching and begging me to take him to the potty, he reminded me that we were going to the Disneyland amusement park.

He told everybody we saw that he was going to Disneyland. Robby and Miguel, the hotel chef, had a lengthy conversation about what rides were best and where he could meet Mickey Mouse. Robby secured a map from the front desk receptionist (although he was disappointed that his buddy Bob wasn't there) and he told the couple checking out of their room that he was going to see Mickey Mouse. He rolled down his window at stop lights to tell the other drivers that he was going to Disneyland, and he had a much too involved conversation with the toll booth lady on the subject of Pluto the Dog. Yes, my little boy was over the moon excited.

He was so excited that he began to cry when he saw Mickey Mouse's face made out of flowers at the gates to the theme park. He just broke down sobbing, telling me that he was so excited and happy today. I have to admit that I almost cried witnessing his reaction.

I did hours of research on the Internet before we left for California about Disneyland. One of the interesting facts that I learned was that children receive special recognition if they go to the park on their birthday. Okay, so Robby's birthday isn't actually until Sunday, but I figured we were close enough to celebrate. I put on his "I'm the Birthday Boy shirt" while I donned the "Mommy of the Birthday Boy" shirt in order to legitimize my claim. Robby was immediately bestowed a "Birthday button" with him name written on it. For the rest of the day, every park employee wished Robby a happy birthday, and he got preferential seating on the rides.

Much by mistake, I discovered that Disneyland offers preferential access to rides for disabled guests. Perhaps this is the case at all amusement parks and I have been unaware of this courtesy. I admit that I felt guilty using the special ride access allowing us to bypass the winding rope lines and the waiting. After all, I am fully able to walk and do not consider myself to be "disabled enough" to use the special access.

However, my guilt quickly waned as Robby and I were ushered past the snaking lines directly onto the next available seats. I was saved a lot of walking but, more importantly, I avoided the time spent just standing. Being an amputee, I find standing still more difficult and painful than walking. After several minutes my stump begins to ache and my prosthetic becomes uncomfortable. My exhaustion after amusement park adventures stems more from the time spent standing on my prosthetic versus the time spent ambulating.

Being an amputee, I have become accustomed to being uncomfortable and having to adapt. Every day I must compensate for my limb loss. If I am granted a courtesy that allows me to more fully enjoy an experience, I am going to accept it. The perks of being an amputee are few and far between, but amusement park ride access at Disneyland certainly ranks among the best!

Robby enjoyed most of the rides, but absolutely adored the "It's a Small World" ride. This slow moving boat ride meanders through a world of animated dolls. "It's a Small World" plays on a loop for the duration of the 11 to 14 minute ride (depending upon how it takes the passengers to disembark). Robby was enthralled each of the ten times we went on the ride. Yes, we went on the ride for a total of ten times, with each ride lasting at least 11 minutes, we spent a total of one hour and fifty minutes watching animated dolls belt out the catchy short little tune. I deserve a Mommy of the Year button!

We spent eight hours at Disneyland, and we had a great time. We met Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Pluto, and Goofy. We played on Donald Duck's boat and ate ice cream with Clarabelle the Cow. After so much fun and excitement, we were both worn out by the time we returned to our hotel.

Robby fell asleep quickly and slept soundly throughout the night. I struggled trying to go to sleep. Every time I laid my head down, I kept hearing the "It's a Small World" song. I literally thought I was out of my mind. It sounded so real it scared me. I tossed and turned trying to push the tune out of my mind but I was not successful. I went to the bathroom and still heard the song in my head. I checked my email and heard the tune. Finally I was too tired to fight sleep and surrendered to my "It's a Small World" dreams.

I woke up this morning, feeling quasi-refreshed but happy that the song is no longer looping in my head. Robby and I got dressed for breakfast and I picked up his clothes from the night before. Underneath his "I'm the Birthday Boy" shirt I discovered my sanity.

I found the little music snow globe we bought at Disneyland. I didn't realize that Robby had been playing with it the night before. The switch on the bottom was moved to the on position, but the toy was silent. Apparently the battery had worn out from playing "It's a Small World" all night long!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Touch, Don't Swim!

Yesterday morning, Robby and I ventured downstairs for breakfast still uncommitted to any activity for the day. He immediately introduced himself to the chef, Miguel, as well as the receptionists Bob and Marsha. After eating breakfast, Robby and his new friends raided the brochure rack and came up with several viable activities for the day. After reviewing the options, Robby was adamant. He wanted to go to the aquarium.

I agreed, and we set off to the Aquarium of the Pacific. One look at Robby's face let me know that he made the correct choice. He was elated and ran towards the first fish display. He was absolutely mesmerized by the colors and the movements of the various fish. Just when I thought that the experience couldn't have been better, we made our way to the outdoor exhibits.

Wow! This aquarium has a touch-and-feel tank full of sharks and sting rays. At first I was hesitant to let Robby participate. Then I saw the look on his face and knew that my protests would be useless. Obviously the sharks and sting rays were benign and wouldn't cause him any harm. Still, it made this Mommy's heart skip watching her little boy willingly dip his hand into a shark exhibit.

We alternated between the shark/ stink ray tank and the starfish touch-and-feel exhibits for the next four hours. We did take one run through the bird house where he was excited to feed nectar to brightly colored parrots. Occasionally we paused to watch the sea lions play, but there was no keeping him from the touch tanks.

When I was dressing for the aquarium in the morning, I opted to wear my activity leg in lieu of my Proprio foot. I reasoned that, should the aquarium be a disappointment, we could always walk along the beach and look for shells. In retrospect, I think that this decision was more the result of my mother's intuition. My Proprio is not meant to be submerged and, as it turns out, I needed to get wet today.

Just as I was relaxing with Robby around the shark exhibit, he fell in. I saw him fall, but there was nothing I could do to stop him. He was on his belly, reaching to touch the bat like black sting ray. He overreached, sending him into the exhibit. He was sitting in the bottom of a shallow pool with sharks and sting rays swimming around him, looking surprised.

I went into "Super Mommy" mode to step over the shallow pool wall and grab my little boy. He was smiling ear to ear. I was shaking like a leaf. If I had been in my Proprio ankle, the computer components would have been ruined. Thank goodness for intuition!

The incident did not keep Robby away from the touch exhibits. He walked around with wet clothes until he dried. I had a squishy wet foot for the rest of the day. (At least I only had to contend with one wet foot!) I did see one other drenched child during our aquarium visit, so I know that this must happen frequently.

After he dried off, I managed to convince Robby to go back inside to visit the other exhibits. He saw a man in a scuba suit swimming with the tropical fish and told me that he was going to do that someday when he was "big like Daddy." I suppose falling into the fish tank may just be his first fish swimming adventure.

Despite getting wet and "swimming with the sharkies" Robby had a fantastic day. As I was tucking him into bed, he told me that it was "the best day in the whole wide world." I have to agree. Of course, tomorrow may be even better. Tomorrow we go to Disneyland!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Our First Night

So far the California trip has exceeded my relatively low expectations. I was planning on Robby Rotten running amok, but that has not been the case. Robby has been both well behaved and flexible. I could not be more pleased.

I envisioned the airplane ride being the most taxing part of our journey to California. I was mistaken. It turns out that I felt the most anxiety with my experience with the rental car. By this point, Robby was exhausted and was not keen on being strapped into another seat for even more traveling.

I brought my GPS from home and even thought ahead and programed the hotel address. All I had to do was hit one button and we would be routed to our hotel. I thought of everything, except that the rental cars would be stored a multi-story parking where garage satellite reception was impossible.

My plan was to drive out of the parking garage, pull off at he first exit, and wait for the GPS to route me to the hotel. Needless to say, my plan backfired. I ended up driving on a large highway (I-5) with cars zooming past me in all directions while I was frantically searching for a place to pull over. I drove 10 miles before the GPS figured out where I was and politely requested that I "make a U-turn when possible." Finally, after driving around Orange County for nearly 45 minutes, I found our hotel which is "conveniently located 10 miles from the airport."

Robby is thrilled with the hotel and all of the amenities. He loves looking out the window, proclaiming proudly that he can "see the whole wide world." (We are on the third floor.) He is fascinated with the ice machine, insisting that we need more "tiny baby ice cubes" about every hour or so. Two people, with no beverages, simply don't need that much ice!

Scott, unfortunately, has not had an easy time since we left yesterday morning. Virginia experienced torrential rains all day which apparently caused a leak through a sky light in our bedroom. It will be a relatively easy fix; all we have to do caulk around the skylight on the roof.

Unfortunately, he cut another hole in the ceiling to let the area dry out forgetting that we don't know how to repair the holes once they have been cut. We are close to fashioning polka dot ceilings with all of the holes that now need to be fixed. Yes, I leave Virginia and within 24 hours the house is literally falling apart.

Rob and I are getting ready to go downstairs for breakfast. He is eager to try "California pancakes." After breakfast, I anticipate spending the day in the pool and perhaps going to the ocean this afternoon. Of course, you never know what adventures might befall us today!

** Just a quick note. I typically post a blog every morning, at about the same time. I will continue to write daily, perhaps more should our adventures become "blog worthy." However, I am not confident that I will be posting at the same time every day. Too many variables make it impossible for me to remain on a schedule while out here... Sorry for the inconvenience!**

Sunday, May 23, 2010

We Did It!

To quote Dora the Explorer, "We did it. We did it. We did it. Hooray!" Yes, Robby and I both survived the plane trip to California. Not to brag, but we didn't merely muddle through. Robby was a champion traveler. Robby Rotten was nowhere in sight, and he could not have been better behaved. I even received compliments from fellow passengers as we disembarked.

We had to get up extremely early this morning (4:00 am) in order to get to the airport with ample time to get through security. Robby was slow to wake up. I was slower. A little coffee and some not-so-subtle prompting from Scott got me in gear.

Thankfully, Scott was able to secure a pass to accompany us through security. One of my anxieties involved getting through the security screening while maintaining control of Robby. Because of my prosthetic, I always require the dreaded pat down along with the explosives testing. Depending upon the airport and the TSA screeners, I have also received x-rays along with requests to remove my prosthetic. I have learned that I can never anticipate what will happen when I go through security!

To my delight, my screening was quick and easy. I found it ironic that, out of all of our luggage that we were carrying on, Robby's Diego the Animal Rescuer backpack was pulled for a hand search. Typically my spare legs throw off the screeners. This morning, they were confused by the plastic dinosaurs and trains. They actually swabbed Black Bear for explosive residue.

Robby slept on the flight from Washington to Chicago. We had a layover in Chicago, and we were delayed. Robby Rotten showed signs of emerging but was quickly squelched when he got both pancakes and McNuggets from McDonalds. Yes, I am not too proud to resort to bribery when necessary!

The plane from Chicago to California was packed. The man next to us did not look happy when we took our seats next to him. I overheard him complaining to his wife about a "little brat" that is sitting next to him. I began to worry.

Robby spent about two hours eating from a jar of cupcake sprinkles. He ate each star individually, with the exception of the pink which for some reason he insisted on feeding me. He was quiet so I didn't complain.

We played with his Leapster 2, looked at books and snacked some more until snoozing again. I had to wake him when we landed. The cynic sitting next to me actually complimented Robby on his excellent behavior. I wonder if he told his wife that my little boy is not a brat?

In any case, it turns out that the experience with the rental car was the most stressful aspect of the trip, but we are now relaxing in the hotel room. Robby has eaten junk all day, so I am hesitant to put him back into a confined seat. Tonight might be the perfect opportunity to introduce him to the joys of room service. He can eat propped up in bed, watching cartoons. After all, he deserves a little spoiling today!