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, August 19, 2011

We Made it to Texas

Greetings from Austin, Texas! Or, as Robby has been saying since our plane landed, "Yee Haw! I'm in Texas." We haven't seen a real cowboy yet, but that certainly hasn't stopped him from looking.

Our trip was relatively uneventful. Considering that I had to interact with TSA at the Baltimore Airport, I consider "uneventful" to be a success! This time I encountered only moderate incompetence and the obvious under-training of the screeners.

This was the first time I was not offered a private screening. I didn't think much of it, as I always opt for a public patdown. (I believe that my fellow travelers should witness their security airport fees in action!) As my patdown commenced, I questioned the screener (in a polite and conversational tone, of course) about failing to offer me a private screening. I was informed that the private screening was only a "courtesy" offered to travelers when staff was available.

Hmm.. that's not what it says on the TSA website. I told her that she was mistaken, and then referred to the regulation providing for a private screening. After all, I had the information handy thanks to my self-designed TSA Disability Notification card!

I chose not to pursue the lapse in regulation with a supervisor because it was early and I hadn't consumed enough caffeine to ready me for battle. After two agents fumbled their way through the CastScope machine, I was cleared to fly. I felt a sigh of relief that no tears were shed and that I wasn't completely molested in the process of my screening!

Robby was a charming little cherub during our flight. He didn't whine, cry or complain about being bored. Much of the flight was spent visiting his newest discovery, the airplane bathroom. Apparently it is a magical little room because he took four trips during our flight!

When Robby wasn't in the bathroom himself, he spent a lot of time looking out his window- especially after another passenger used the restroom. He was utterly convinced that he was seeing toilet paper and "pee pee" flying through the air. I should have explained that the toilet didn't flush into the air, but it kept him both occupied and quiet so I decided not to burst his bubble.

Robby and his Candy Papaw spent the afternoon playing with cars and shopping for snacks. Apparently Robby is planning on consuming a lot of food during the next few days because he compiled a stock pile of cupcakes, ice cream and pop-tarts at the grocery store when he went shopping with my dad. In any case, it has been fun watching the two of them telling jokes and chatting!

Today we are going to Sea World, a trip that has Robby over the moon with excitement. He loves all things aquatic, especially dolphins, so it is going to be a fantastic day. Perhaps the only thing that could make it better would be temperatures below 110 degrees-- oh, and seeing a real cowboy!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Saddle Up--We're Flying To Austin

Yesterday, Scott and I worked all morning to get everything packed for our trip to Texas. We are only going to be away for five days, yet we somehow needed three large suitcases. Of course, I needed to bring both my swim leg and my running leg. Prosthetic legs take up a lot of room!

With our suitcases packed and our house sitters instructed to abstain from hosting a party (a request I hope will be remembered), we headed to Baltimore for the night. We decided to start our vacation a day early by staying in a hotel close to the airport. We were able to spend the afternoon swimming, will wake up minutes from the airport, and will avoid the rush hour traffic.

Early this morning we take off for Austin, Texas. My Dad has lived in Texas for about ten years, but this is our first visit. It seemed illogical to visit him when he was staying in our basement during the work week for the first eight years of his Texas residency. Since he became a full-time Texan, we've missed him. I've been looking forward to this reunion for months!

All summer Robby has been anticipating what he refers to as his "Texas Cowboy Adventure." He envisions large cacti plants, sandy terrain and streets lined with cowboys, gunslingers and horses. (I suspect that his Texan stereotypes stem from the cowboy episode of The Backyardigans that we have on the DVR.) I've tried to convince him that he may not see cowboys riding horses through the streets of Austin, but he simply tells me that I am wrong.

Even if Austin fails to meet the wild-west expectations of my little guy, I know that he won't be disappointed. His Candy Papaw (my Dad) has planned a lot of surprises including a trip to Sea World, a lot of time swimming, and possibly a visit to a Cowboy Dude Ranch. When we aren't sight-seeing, I'm sure Robby will be busy entertaining his Candy Papaw and Nana Phara (my Dad's wife).

Of course, before our Austin Adventure begins, we have to get there which means that I have to deal with TSA and their screening du jour this morning. Wish me luck-- Hopefully if I pass my screening (and hold my tongue) my next blog will be from Texas!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Robby Rotten Resurrected

It is safe to say that Robby had the time of his life at the Fair on Monday night. We didn't leave until an hour after his bedtime because he was having so much fun. Apparently the colorful lights were nothing short of magical!

When we got home, Robby helped me fix a new water home for Carny, the goldfish prize that he won. Obviously I was not anticipating bringing a fish into the family because the aquarium was stowed in the back of the garage, under a pile of Christmas ornaments. It wasn't until 11:00 that Robby and Carny fish were tucked into their respective beds for the night.

Hoping that the Fair was as exhausting for him as it was for me, I was optimistic about Robby sleeping in on Tuesday. My dreams were dashed when he came into our bedroom at 6:00 AM, chatting about his fishy and the rides from the night before. He snuggled into bed, requested a cartoon and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

I didn't realize that those early minutes of my day would be the calmest. I wish I had taken more time to savor the peace and tranquility, perhaps by sipping rather than gulping my coffee. Sometime during the three episodes of Scooby-Doo that were playing on the TV, Robby Rotten emerged.

It wasn't difficult to predict the visit of Robby Rotten. After all, my little guy had a huge night on Monday, full of wonder and excitement. He went to bed well past his normal time, and woke up uncomfortably early. Fatigue is always an invitation for Robby Rotten to wreak havoc.

Robby was grumpy, defiant and just plain miserable all day. Nothing seemed to fill his never ending pit of "I want" demands. He refused to eat yet complained constantly about being hungry. He didn't want to get dressed and became inconsolable when I told him that he could not go into his tree house naked. He threw himself down during temper tantrums so frequently that Scott and I actually considered putting rugs on the hardwood floor to protect his little knees.

Yesterday was not a good day for the grumpies. We are going to Texas later this week, and we had a full To Do list to tackle. In spite of his mood, and against my better judgment, we were going to have to venture into public with Robby Rotten.

Our day began with a haircut. I took him to Cartoon Cuts because the presence of a television playing an animated classic seemed to numb the trauma in the past. Despite requesting SpongeBob, Robby never watched the cartoon. Instead he closed his eyes and began screaming, "Help me, Momom," before the scissors were even picked up. I was charged extra because he was dubbed a "wiggly kid," a description I thought was generous considering his behavior!

After receiving what turned out to be another crooked haircut, we went to Target to buy new big boy underwear. Robby wanted cowboy underwear because he was going to Texas, so I was delighted to find Toy Story 3 underwear featuring Woody the Cowboy. Unfortunately, the underwear also featured Buzz Lightyear, which did for some reason caused tears to flow. Thinking fast, I pointed out that Buzz is on the bum. For some reason, that halted the potential underwear breakdown.

Last night Robby tried to hide my leg in the dishwasher because he didn't like what I making for dinner. He cried because I wouldn't let him take a bath with his clothes on. I was going to point out to him that a few hours earlier he was throwing a fit because he didn't want to wear those same clothes, but I didn't think he would appreciate the irony.

We had a fantastic day on Monday. Yesterday I spent most of the day saying"No," ignoring crocodile tears, refusing demands and walking around a five year old pounding the floor in the time out corner. By the end of the day I was silently cursing the Fair for making him so tired and grumpy.

Robby wasn't talking to me when I tucked him into bed at night. He was mad at me because I apparently sat on his invisible fish. I'm hoping that Robby Rotten left overnight. If not, I'm fairly confident that I'm going to run away from home!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


The past week has been both difficult and exhausting. As much as I've tried to keep everything in perspective, the stress has been getting the better of both me and my moods. Tired of letting my anxiety have a clutch on my emotions, yesterday I declared "Chenoweth Family Fun" day.

It wasn't difficult to decide what to do because the county fair is running this week. We haven't been to the fair since Robby was two, and, to make the event more enticing, I found a coupon for free ride wrist bands! We grabbed some water, lathered on the sunscreen and headed to the fairgrounds.

Robby's excitement was contagious. By the time we pulled into the parking lot, the three of us were singing and laughing about the adventures that lay ahead. Robby practically flew out of his booster seat when he saw the Ferris wheel, and we could barely keep up with him as he ran to the ticket booth.

After getting our wrist bands, we took off to conquer the fair rides. Robby wanted to go on the swings first. I have such fond memories of riding the swings when I was a little girl. I remember feeling like I was weightless and fluttering through the air, so I was eager to share this experience with my little buddy.

The swings, I learned, are not nearly as much fun after age 30. Robby was screaming "whee" and giggled the entire ride. I kept my eyes closed and tried to concentrate on breathing in an attempt to refrain from vomiting. Scott brought me my leg at the end of the ride and had to help me out of the ride because I was so dizzy. Robby, in the meantime, had already looped around and was in line for another turn.

Scott and I took turns in what we dubbed "ride purgatory" for the rest of the night. We tried to allow enough time to recover before the other parent took a turn on a ride. I realized it takes me a lot longer to recover than it did when I was younger!

Seeing Scott's face after riding what I can only describe as a spin-around-backwards-while-moving-up-and-down ride, I knew that I had to step up and take my turn. Against my better judgment I followed Robby onto the Starship. I reasoned that there were rocket ships and happy astronauts on the spaceship shaped ride, so it couldn't be that bad!

Again, I was wrong. Once inside the happy looking space ship, we stood against the side of a padded wall. Within seconds the door closed, the music began to blare, and the walls started spinning. We were held in place by centrifugal forces. I could tell by his constant giggling that Robby thought this ride was the best!

Then, quite by surprise, the walls began to rise. Before I knew it, I was stuck to the side of a spinning wall with my head a few feet from the ceiling. I had no idea that the walls of this ride would move.

Had I known about the movement I would have been more diligent about my prosthetic placement. My body was raised when the wall moved, but my foot stayed in place. The heel of my prosthetic was wedged between the padding against the wall and the metal. The g-forces broke my suspension seal, and I was raised completely out of my prosthetic. I would have loved to see the looks on the faces of my fellow riders when I came out of my leg. Unfortunately the sheer terror I was experiencing caused me to keep my eyes closed tightly throughout the ride.

After the attendant helped me unwedge my prosthetic, I wobbled out of the Spaceship from Hell. I sat on the bench and put my head down. It took about five minutes for spinning to subside, but Robby remained oblivious to the effects of the g-forces, pausing just long enough to eat ice cream, french fries and a funnel cake--and, of course, to play games.

It turns out that my son has quite the knack for games on the Midway. He managed to pop four balloons with just three darts and won a plush turtle. He begged both his Daddy and me for the chance to win a fish. We finally conceded to let him try, fairly confident that he wouldn't succeed getting the ping pong ball into the small bowl.

I'd like to introduce the newest member of our family, Carny Fish. Robby won him with his first attempt. He threw the ping pong ball, which ricocheted off three bowls and the wall before bouncing into a fish bowl.

When we came home from the fair, we cleaned out the aquarium and introduced Carny to his new home. (Hopefully he will not meet the same fate as his finned predecessors.) Robby gave both Scott and me numerous hugs and kisses as we were tucking him into bed. He kept repeating that he had the "best night of his whole life." Hearing that almost made all the dizzying nausea worth it!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Stress Tipping

When I was little, one of my favorite board games was "Don't Tip the Waiter." A cardboard cut-out of a formally dressed waiter was balanced precariously on a stand. Each player had to put a plate of food (a cardboard circle) onto the platter until the weight tipped the waiter over, causing him to drop everything on his tray.

Last night, when I was having trouble sleeping, I found my mind wandering back to that childhood game. I am beginning to feel like the waiter, visualizing my stress and anxiety piling up on top of me. The game is not nearly as much fun in real life!

As much as developing a plan about dealing with my insurer has empowered me, my frustrations about this issue have reached a boiling point. I am on the verge of tears whenever I think about Elsie (my nickname for my workman's comp adjustor) and the turmoil that she is causing my family. I feel like I am being victimized simply because I want to maintain access to prosthetic care in the future.

With September approaching, my anxiety about Robby's enrollment in Kindergarten is increasing. I am excited about this new chapter in his life, but I would be lying if I didn't admit to being sad. Scott and I have decided to enroll Robby in a private Kindergarten program that offers half day classes. He will be in school for four hours a day and will have his afternoons to run around the yard and play at home.

Unlike the public school Kindergarten classes in our area, Robby's days will be filled with music, art, and creative play with other children. The school emphasizes parent involvement and expects the family to work with their child daily for one to two hours on academics. Robby will be provided with a packet of worksheets each week and Scott and I will teach him and help him to complete his work.

I realize that the school is unorthodox, but in many ways, so is our family. I felt a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders when we discovered the school. I know that it is the perfect fit and that Robby will thrive. Despite knowing that Robby will flourish, this change is causing me anxiety.

Another stressor is the response of friends and family about Robby's school. I am distraught over the amount of criticism that our family decision has garnered. To insinuate that Scott and I do not have Robby's academic best interest in mind is insulting. I know my child, and I know how he learns. His creativity, enthusiasm and love of learning would be squelched in a classroom of 34 other kids where art, music and movement were not included in the curriculum.

With Scott gearing up for a new school year, readying for a family trip to Texas later this week and the unanticipated need for four new tires, my stress levels are toxic. Lying in bed at night I feel like I'm going to buckle under the strain and worry. I am trying to be proactive and to deal with the issues that are within my control. I simply wish that I had control over more things. Sometimes being an adult is just really hard!