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, March 09, 2012

Bickering Over the Table..

I am so glad that this is Friday. The excitement and obligations of the past week have caught up with me. I'm exhausted and, to my chagrin, I admit that I am sick. My white flag is officially waving!

Yesterday I was hoping to be able to relax, but I knew that the chances of that happening were slim. I was scheduled to give a video deposition in reference to an auto accident I reported over three years ago. Despite telling all parties involved that I did not witness the incident and that I simply saw the wreckage and called for help, my testimony was requested.

I was not pleased when I received my subpoena, so I called the lead attorney to voice my displeasure. In a firm and quasi-annoyed tone, I informed him that carving out two full days to testify in a case where my testimony has no value is absurd. I had a young child, I worked, and I had responsibilities. He was unswayed until I told him that I am scheduled to be out of town during the trial and that my testimony would have to be postponed until April.

In lieu of spending two days in a courthouse waiting for my time to speak and rather than delaying the trial, they opted to bring the courtroom to me. In a rather unorthodox move, I hosted a court stenographer, videographer, two attorneys, and one police officer yesterday afternoon. After dropping Robby off at school, I spent the morning cleaning my house, readying for the mobile court to arrive.

The videographer was waiting in my driveway when I came home from school with Robby. The afternoon was spent listening to lawyers bickering as they sat around my dining room table. The experience simply felt odd, and my feelings about lawyers were reaffirmed.

By the time the sun set, my head was pounding and I was running a fever. My throat hurts and I'm exhausted. I was hoping that I would wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Unfortunately I don't think that is the case, and I suspect that antibiotics are in order. I think I caught Robby's strep throat

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The Big Day!

Yesterday I woke up early. I sat in the living room enjoying the dark quiet of the early morning while sipping on coffee. Despite my fears about being portrayed poorly on camera and somehow failing my amputee peers, I tried to relax and enjoy the moment. After all, this was an extraordinary opportunity and I wanted to be completely in the moment and soak up every detail.

Robby woke up sometime during my third cup of coffee. I made him an Eggo, gave him a cup of milk and turned on Scooby Doo. He was content eating breakfast with the Mystery Gang, and I needed time to get ready.

I washed, dried and carefully styled my hair. My face was scrubbed, polished and meticulously painted to provide a "natural" look. Looking in the mirror, I have to admit that I was pleased with the reflection. Although I'm no model, I cleaned up pretty darn good!

Feeling upbeat, I started to get dressed in my first layer of Lycra undergarments. I put on the tummy band first, followed by the "trimming shorts" and finally struggled into the bust-less halter top (which promised to slim the back, sides and waist while enhancing the chest). By the time I was squeezed into all of my body slimmers I had worked myself into a full sweat and was exhausted by the aerobic contortions required to push everything into place. Lesson learned- I should have put on the Lycra before styling my hair and applying my make-up!

With my hair restyled and make-up reapplied, we set out for our big adventure. I was grateful that Ms. Dominique, Robby's former teacher, was available to help me for the day . Robby was shocked when we drove up to her house and she walked out the front door. "I didn't know Ms. Dominique lives in a house. I thought she lived at school!" Within seconds he was chatting non-stop with his favorite teacher.

The photo and video shoot went seamlessly. I wore a total of four outfits, and we shot video in several locations. The director seemed particularly thrilled with a piece of video that shows Robby and me racing up a grass hill. If that clip is used in the commercial, you will see that Robby indeed cheated and had a significant head start!

The interview portion, which always makes me nervous, seemed to flow naturally. They quickly stopped asking me questions and opted to allow me to speak from my heart. I don't remember everything that I said, but I do remember saying, "I'm a mother, a wife, a writer, a teacher, a friend and a sister. I am also an amputee. I define myself by what I have accomplished and the person that I have become, not by my missing limb."

I guess we'll have to wait for the clips to be edited before I know how I did, but I think it went well. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Nervous Preparations...

One of my favorite movies is Castaway. The plot of "man vs. himself" intrigues me and, although I have never been stranded on a deserted island, I find that I can relate to the isolation and the survival mentality. In my opinion, one of the best scenes in the movie involves Tom Hanks talking about hope for a better day by saying something like, "You never know what the tide is going to bring in that day."

Lately, I've been feeling that same optimism every time I open my email. Although my inbox is typically jammed with offers for cheap flowers, credit card applications and assorted male enhancement products (I still don't know how I got on that list), every once in awhile I receive a message that turns my reality upside down- at least momentarily. I suppose I'm an eternal optimist who is always up for a new adventure. Last Friday I received one message that left me speechless!

I was invited to participate in a Public Service campaign to promote Limb Loss Awareness Month. I was floored and humbled that I was asked to represent all amputees in such a public venue! When I learned that the ad will be playing on a loop on the Jumbotron in New York City's Time Square for the month of April, my enthusiasm quickly morphed into terror. After all, they don't make a Spanx strong enough to make my bum look good on that enormous billboard.

Saturday I went to the salon to get my hair colored, highlighted and cut. I am my toughest critic, but I must admit that I like the results. I think the new do resembles that of a "hip trendy Mom" instead of the drained and exhausted woman who doesn't have the time nor the energy to care about investing in a beauty routine. It's amazing what a few bottles of hair dye, an afternoon away from my husband and child, a glass of wine (or two) and a massage can do towards rejuvenation!

Sunday I spent four hours shopping with my Mom trying to find "the perfect" outfit. Together we scoured the outlet mall, determined to find the "trendy Mom" outfit that would accentuate my attributes and minimize my bum. We were unsuccessful, but managed to have a good time in our attempt.

Monday, Robby and I headed to the mall to continue the quest for the perfect outfit. My 5 year old stylist walked into the first store and immediately walked to a mannequin who was dressed in my ideal outfit- a bust flattering sweater shirt in a shade of blue that makes my eyes pop and a flattering knee length black skirt that minimizes my bottom. I was delighted to pay only $45 for the ensemble before taking him to celebrate with a scoop of Play D'oh ice cream.

Leaving the ice cream store I passed an eyebrow threading kiosk. I've seen this on television and, although I have never had it done, I quickly decided to give it a try. After all, I want to look as attractive as possible.

I took my seat in the salon chair, leaned back and prepared to become beautiful. The "eye brow designer" took a piece of thread and proceeded to pluck and shape my brows. I instantly knew that whoever thought that pulling eyebrow hair strand by strand by using string must have been a sadist. My brows were swollen, bleeding and well shaped by the end of the torture...err.. I mean threading. A few dabs of witch hazel, two Tylenol and ice compresses finally took away the inflammation and blood droplets, revealing my beautifully, albeit slightly over arched, shaped brows.

With my wardrobe picked, my hair coiffed and my facial hair removed and styled, all that was left to do yesterday was to relax and prepare for the adventure of the photo shoot. Unfortunately resting has never been a strong point of mine. I decided that, if my smile was going to be streaming to millions of people, I needed it to be brightened. I drove to Wal-Mart and carefully chose a teeth whitening kit promising to "whiten teeth three shades in an hour."

The box failed to mention the stinging and burning sensation that would be felt for the entire time the pre-filled trays were in my mouth. To my delight, my teeth were indeed whiter and brighter after 60 minutes. To my horror, so were my gums! I looked like a surprised zombie with a white teeth and gums, streaked hair and over arched eyebrows.

A quick Google search revealed that teeth whitening kits often bleach the gums as well. Thankfully the tissue returned to a healthy pink after a few hours, but not before I lost all composure. I still can't feel the tip of my tongue or drink cold liquids, but I don't need either of those skills tomorrow so I'll fret about those side effects later.

This morning Robby and I will drive for our photo and video shoot. I'm excited about this wonderful opportunity. I want to stand tall and show everybody that we are confident, happy, normal people who contribute to society despite missing a limb. I have certainly gone to a considerable lengths in my attempt to look casual, and I am going to do my best to represent our community in a positive light. Wish me luck because this is important and I want to make you all proud!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Ice Skating

Robby has been begging to take ice skating lessons since last winter when he first discovered that it was a possibility. Although classes are offered to students as young as three, Scott and I both agreed that he should be five to participate. When I received notification that classes were forming, we didn't hesitate to sign him up.

Yesterday was Robby's inaugural ice skating lesson. He was chomping at the bit all day to "get on that ice and skate." I knew that his class was scheduled for 6:30 in the evening, so I set the timer on the microwave for 5:45 to allow for extra time because I wanted to be early (to make a good impression) and to secure his rental skates.

Knowing that we were going to be taking a lot of pictures to capture his first skating experience, I put a lot of thought into Robby's outfit. He was adorable in his little grey pants, which I carefully chose because the fabric was thin enough to breath and would provide him with a lot of movement while he was skating. He chose his favorite blue and white t-shirt because, according to him, it was lucky and would keep him from falling. At 5:45 the timer went off, we grabbed the camera and headed to the skating rink.

The skate complex was crowded when we arrived at 6:10. Scott was tasked with putting on the skates while I tried to figure out where his class would be meeting. An employee simply pointed to the center of the ice, where 6 little kids were marching in place on their skates. That's when I realized that his class started at 6:00, not 6:30. We were late. So much for first impressions.

We hurriedly pushed Robby's feet into the skates. We ended up putting them on the wrong feet and had to start over. An attendant had to come and help us lace the skates because neither Scott nor myself could figure it out. We were embarrassed and felt inadequate.

It was only after Robby was ushered into his class that Scott and I realized that we were cold. I don't understand how we didn't expect that an ice skating complex would be cold. All of the other kids were dressed in snow pants, hats, gloves and heavy coats. They had helmets. The class description didn't say anything about needing a helmet! Scott quickly ran out to the car to retrieve Robby's spring jacket- the only coat we had with us. Instead of a helmet he had the hood of his coat.

As for the pants that I carefully chose? The thin, breathable fabric simply acted as a conduit between the ice and Robby's bum. He began to shiver every time he was instructed to sit down on the ice. His little rear was soaked by the time the class ended.

Between being late, putting the skates on the wrong feet, and dressing him for a spring afternoon in the park instead of skating on ice, I have accepted that I not going to be getting the "Mother of the Year" award. My first impression with his skating instructors is that of a ditz instead of a confident woman. I hate appearing incompetent!

In spite of my mistakes, Robby had a great time. He was proud that he didn't fall, and when he got into the car, proclaimed that "ice is slippery". He then proceeded to ask for a blanket and for the car heat to be cranked up because he was freezing. The poor little guy shivered until we put him in a warm bath.

Next Monday he will be dressed warmly, will be on time, and his skates will be put on the correct feet. I have an uphill battle to prove that I am not a flake, but I'm up to the challenge! Lesson learned-- ice skating rinks are cold.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Kindergarten Drama

Friday was Dr. Seuss's birthday. I am always eager for an opportunity to celebrate, so typical to my overzealous style I threw myself into everything Seussical. Donning a touring Cat in the Hat style hat and carrying bags of eggs, bacon, and multicolored cream filled cake balls, I entered Robby's classroom ready for an hour of lunchtime fun. One look at the faces of the Kindergartners was my first clue that something was amiss.

It turns out that Robby's beloved Kindergarten teacher was no longer working at the school. She left suddenly on Wednesday without saying goodbye to her students or the parents. Obviously a serious personnel issue must have transpired! Robby learned of Miss Dominique's departure when he overheard two teaching assistance gossiping during recess. When I saw him at lunchtime, he wrapped his arms around me and began to sob. He was devastated!

When I asked who I thought was the substitute but who is apparently the new teacher about Miss Dominique leaving, she simply said, "There will be a note announcing it in his cubby at the end of the day. I'm the teacher now." No introduction, no explanations and no attempt at shielding the class from the information. I was not impressed.

I served the green eggs and ham and promptly excused myself from the classroom. I retreated to my car, where I began to cry. I don't know the reasons for his teacher leaving, but Miss Dominique will always hold a special place. She was Robby's first teacher and lovingly helped guide both of us through the difficult transition to school. It broke my heart that we couldn't say goodbye or even say thank you for everything she did for us.

After gathering my composure I returned to the classroom to continue our Seussical celebration. Robby and his friends were easily distracted with primary colored cake balls and happy face cupcakes. Despite the bad news, we had a fun party.

Per our routine, we stopped by Mr. Bill's house on the way home from school With a quivering lip and trying to hold back tears, Robby tried to explain Miss Dominique's departure to Mr. Bill. By this time I had passed grief and had entered a much more functional stage of acceptance- rage.

I was furious about the way the teacher change was handled by the administration. Robby should not have learned of his teacher's departure by overhearing gossip; we should have been able to talk with him about the situation before school. After all, the letter hurriedly stuffed into his cubby that afternoon was dated February 29th! It should not have taken two days for this information to reach the parents and students.

At Mr. Bill's urging, I drove back to the school to voice my concerns. I was hesitant because I don't want to gain a reputation as an intrusive parent. However, this situation had me concerned, and I knew that if I didn't address the issues, I would have continued to stew and simmer throughout the weekend.

I spoke with school director about obvious disconnect in disseminating this important information. I reassured her that I did not want to know the details surrounding the departure, but my gripe stemmed from my not being informed of a change in teacher. I simply asked that, should this situation occur in the future, they please email me or call me so that I can tell Robby myself before he overhears gossiping teachers. I was assured that the new teacher was qualified. I replied by agreeing that she probably was, but reminded the director that none of the parents even knew the new teacher's name not to mention her qualifications!

Robby becomes emotional when he talks about Miss Dominique leaving, but I have been trying to remain upbeat and excited about his getting to know a brand new teacher. We made a goodbye card for Dominique as well as a welcome to the class card for the new teacher (whose name I still don't know). I hope that this transition is smooth for everybody involved.