About Me

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

Friday, December 17, 2010

Winter Wonderland

There is little that is more magical than the first snowfall of the year (unless, of course, you are forced to drive in it). But for a child, the first falling flakes are nothing sort of miraculous. Yesterday we had our first snowfall in Virginia, and Robby could not have been happier.

The pleas began with the first falling flakes. After checking the weather forecast and concluding that the snowfall would be measurable, I quickly drank my coffee and began the task of dressing Robby. About fifteen minutes later--after putting on his snow pants, boots, coat, gloves, hat and scarf--my little snow bug was ready to go.

It took me slightly less time to get dressed. I remembered that I needed to remove my leg before slipping on my snow pants only after I couldn't fit my prosthesis through the opening. After looking for nearly 10 minutes I finally found my swim leg in the back of Robby's ride-on firetruck. I could find only one boot, but I quickly realized that it wasn't a problem. I put the boot on my foot and a sneaker on my prosthetic. After all, I don't need to care about those toes getting cold!

With both of us bundled up, we headed outside. Robby immediately grabbed his shovel and took off through the yard. He was shoveling out Mr. Bill's walkway by the time I gingerly made my way up the slippery driveway. By the end of the winter last year I had become adept at walking in the snow. I think it is going to take a few days for me to regain my "snow legs."

Robby had a blast shoveling out Mr. Bill's walkway. After all, he loves little more than digging! He was ecstatic when Mr. Bill gave him money (unsolicited) for a job well done. He began jumping up and down cheering that he had been given "paper money." We continued up the street shoveling out all of our neighbors' walkways. After several hours Robby had a small ball of "paper money" stuffed into his coat pockets.

After shoveling out the neighbors and taking time to sled with some little friends, I finally managed to convince Robby to come home. He didn't seem cold, but I was freezing! Mr. Bill called him over to the door one last time as we walked home.

The two spoke, and then Robby went sprinting home. Scott met him at the door, stripped him out of his snow wardrobe and ushered him inside. By the time I took off my layers and switched legs, Robby was standing in the kitchen gulping down water.

At first I didn't think anything of his drinking. After all, we had been playing outside for nearly three hours. I stopped his chugging after his third glass and asked him what was wrong.

With an excited smile he told me a secret that Mr. Bill told him. "Momom, Mr. Bill told me that when I pee pee in the snow I can practice writing my letters. I need to drink a lot because Robby has a lot of letters. R O B B Y will take a lot of pee pee and I want to write it in the snow. That's a good idea!"

Hmm... So much for the pretty snow. It must be a boy thing!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Open Letter To Santa

Dear Santa Claus,

I have tried to be good this year. Sometimes I become frustrated and cry (and occasionally yell), but my pouting has been kept to a minimum. Although I am now 36 years old, I still believe in you!

I know that this time of year you are inundated with wish lists from around the world. Your sleigh is being loaded and space is probably at a minimum. This year, in lieu of presents, I would like to make a deal with you. In return for all the cookies you can eat, I would like to borrow your team of handy and talented elves for a few days. You see Santa, this year all I want for Christmas is for things around my house to be fixed.

Santa, you of all people know that I love to bake. Robby and I have spent numerous hours toiling in the kitchen, whipping up a variety of tasty concoctions. We always share what we create. Robby is particularly fond of giving cookies to Mr. Bill and the firemen at the firehouse.

It's a good thing that the firemen know us now, because if my oven doesn't get fixed soon I predict that they will be visiting us soon. In order to turn my oven on and off, I now have to slide the heavy appliance away from the wall, crawl behind it and plug it in. I dread having to change the temperature on the oven because I must again crawl behind it, unplug it and then plug it back into the outlet after waiting no fewer than 15 seconds.

I am not an acrobat, and the contortions I must assume to reach the plug are difficult with one leg. I worry about being electrocuted. I don't expect a new stove, but perhaps you could ask your elves to bring their tools to fix the broken control panel on my oven.

I'm assuming that, somewhere in your army of toy builders, you have an elf that is good with drywall. I have several holes in my ceiling that need to be patched. I know that you are busy this time of year, so I can paint the ceiling myself after they are repaired. Please Santa, the cold air is rushing through the holes despite the plastic barrier I put in place.

Santa, I try to keep the house clean but it is difficult. None of my cleaning tools seem to be functioning properly. My vacuum constantly becomes clogged and I have to hold the cord over my shoulder for it to turn on. My carpet cleaner is held together with duct tape, and Robby broke the handle on my broom. My back hurts from stooping over to sweep the floor with my pint sized broom!

The light switch needs to be pushed down and to the left in order for the light to stay off in the hallway. We can't reach the light bulbs in the kitchen ceiling so the room is becoming darker with each one that burns out. My built in microwave oven has been converted into a breadbox because it hasn't worked in nearly two years! If you have an electrician elf and one who is comfortable on a ladder, you might want to bring them along.

Right now it feels like everything is either broken or falling apart around me, and I am feeling overwhelmed. Santa, I would be grateful if you would talk with your elves about coming to help me. This is the chance for your elves to emerge from behind the scenes into the limelight!

Thank you, Santa!
Love, Peggy

P.S. I would offer to pick up any materials you need, but my car battery is unreliable, forcing me to drive with a battery charger in the trunk.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My cousin sent this to me. I thought it was cute...

Passing Judgment

Yesterday morning I decided that I needed to reinstate the Christmas spirit in my house. I checked the kitchen for ingredients, went through my cookbooks and made a list. I got Robby bundled up and we headed to the grocery store. It wasn't hard to convince Robby to come along because he knew that we were going to be spending the afternoon baking cookies!

It has become so cold that it is painful to be outside. The wind was whipping around, causing the cold air to push straight through the thickest layers. Pulling into the grocery store parking lot, I didn't even need to consider my options. I instinctively pulled into a handicapped parking space.

I have had a handicapped parking placard for several years. Although I don't always utilize the spaces, I do consider myself entitled. I have a disability that affects my mobility and, at times, the convenience of the spaces is helpful. Yesterday was bone chilling cold and I wanted to minimize my time outside.

It is not unusual for me to receive glares of disapproval from my fellow shoppers. At times I thoroughly enjoy watching the "parking police," as I have come to call them, stare at me as I pull out my handicapped placard. It is almost as if I can see their mind turning as "guess the disability" scenarios run through their minds.

As soon as I disembark my car and my prosthetic is visible, I receive the knowing nod of approval as they quickly look away. When my leg is covered, I often receive judgmental stares as I walk into the store. I have, on occasion, turned and pulled up my pant leg to show the judgmental parking police my disability.

Yesterday I was too cold to appease the spectators. I pulled into the space, grabbed Robby and raced into the store. It wasn't until after we were inside and shopping that I realized that I had been watched. Pushing the cart through an aisle, I "overheard" an elderly couple talking about people abusing their parent's handicapped tags. I knew that their comments were directed at me.

Trying to revitalize my sense of Christmas spirit, I held my tongue. I even stopped to adjust my prosthetic, which was fitting fine, to provide proof of my disability. The sight of them scurrying away as soon as I removed my leg was fun to witness!

I encountered a similar situation flying home from Columbus on Monday. We were flying on Southwest which does not assign seats to passengers. Basically a long line forms as herds of anxious passengers vie for a good seat. Because I have a disability I am afforded the benefit of "pre-board" status enabling me to board before others.

As we handed the attendant our pre-board access card, Scott and I both felt the disdain from the gaggle of not so jolly passengers waiting to board. I was wearing jeans so my prosthetic was not visible. Scott remarked that the other passengers are probably wondering why we get to go first and that they probably angry. I think he was right. I began to limp as an attempt to demonstrate my disability.

As cookies were being baked, decorated and cooled throughout the afternoon, I kept thinking about these two experiences. Is it human nature to pass judgment? When my disability isn't visible, it is often assumed that I am somehow being dishonest. I regret that I felt the need to prove my handicap, but at the time it just seemed easier. Hopefully this couple, along with my fellow passengers on the plane, will hesitate before doubting or judging another person using a handicapped "privileges."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mr. Bill

We are lucky to have Mr. Bill, an elderly gentleman who lives across the street, as a neighbor. He and Robby have become fast friends. Robby adores and idolizes his friend, eager to mimic everything that he sees. In many ways Mr. Bill has assumed the role of adopted Grandfather.

Mr. Bill allows Robby to help him with most of his outdoor projects. The pair spends hours painting fences, shoveling dirt out of the back of a pick up truck and laying sod. Bill is patient with his little assistant, offering encouragement and never becoming frustrated. Robby was delighted when he received a pair of work boots that matched Mr. Bill's. It turns out Bill was almost as excited as Robby!Robby loves baking his friend cookies and treats. He proudly presents Mr. Bill with various glitter laden art projects which are always displayed prominently throughout his home. In turn, Mr. Bill is trying to teach Robby Greek phrases and how to identify trees. Their interactions are a joy to watch.

In addition to nurturing Robby, Mr. Bill has become one of my biggest cheerleaders. He loves hearing about my adventures with Ossur. He was proud as could be when Robby and my photos were featured in the brochure and print campaign. When the National Geographic crew was at my home a few months ago, Mr. Bill sat in his yard and watched the entire interview, enthralled by the process and impressed with my role.

Robby and I are both lucky to have Mr. Bill as a neighbor and friend. I enjoy our conversations and the respite that visiting with him affords me. Robby is learning how to work with his hands, about nature and the Civil War. The lady down the street might keep trying to get Robby and me arrested with her delusional stories, but I have no doubt that Mr. Bill would bail us out.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Anxious Traveler

Greetings from cold and snowy Ohio! We arrived safely Friday afternoon after what I am pleased to report was an uneventful and easy TSA screening. I like to give credit where it is due. I was impressed that the agent in Baltimore was both professional and respectful, and I'm hoping that I have a similar screening today as I leave Columbus.

Of course, at this point I am hoping to be able to leave Ohio today. The roads are snow covered and icy, and we are experiencing high winds and low visibility. I'm clicking my heels, but I'm not confident that we'll be transported back to Virginia today.

Robby had a wonderful time visiting with several sets of cousins during this visit. We went into Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon to visit some local attractions. The little ones, Robby included, were mesmerized by a toy train exhibit. (The adults enthusiasm was dampened by the 40 minute wait in a crowded room which afforded us a 90 second gander at some trains.) Nevertheless, the kids were impressed and that was the goal.

I love watching Robby playing with his cousins. He doesn't visit with his young playmates often, but when they are together they immediately fall into a comfortable friendship. Robby has two cousins who are close to his age as well as two older (pre-teen) cousins. They all love, accept and make an effort to incorporate Robby into their family dynamic whenever we visit. Watching them interact and play together is one of the best parts of my Ohio visits.

Sunday was monopolized by Robby's first snowfall of the season. He was anxious to go outside and play before we could even change him out of his nighttime gear. We managed to convince him that he needed to eat his breakfast before heading into the snow. I've never seen him drink a cup of milk so fast!

Unfortunately, we didn't have enough snow to make a snowman, but from the looks of it this morning we could probably roll a snowman village! We will be heading to the airport in a few hours but I'm not overly optimistic of my chances of making it home today. Flights are already being delayed and canceled, but I am hoping that we will be spared the fate of a stranded holiday traveler.

In addition to being concerned that our flight will be canceled, I'm apprehensive about the Columbus airport TSA agents. I have not had positive experiences with these overzealous and unprofessional screeners in the past. I am anxious this morning, and I hate that feeling!

Here's hoping that today the stars will align so I will be cleared in a timely and appropriate manner and that my flight will leave Ohio on schedule. Hopefully my next blog will be published from cozy Virginia and not from the corner of an airport terminal that we have declared squatters rights for the night. Fingers crossed!