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, September 26, 2014

Heat Wave?

A few weeks ago I realized that my hair is beginning to fall out. Yesterday I realized that hairs are beginning to sprout, at an astonishing rate--but from the bottom of my chin. Let me assure you, sudden onset menopause is not for the faint of heart.

In addition to my confused hair follicles, I've discovered the unexpected and totally unwelcome hot flashes. I can be perfectly comfortable and suddenly everything changes. The tell-tale sign of my neck warming is the only warning I have before I am encompassed by an invisible heat wave. A few days ago I sought refuge from my self-contained heatwave by standing in front of the open freezer door.  Since I knew that Robby was occupied watching Master Chef with Scott, I decided to expedite the cooling process by lifting my nightgown over my head.

Unfortunately, my cool down session happened to coincide with a commercial break in the television show the boys were watching. The freezer was running, drowning out the footsteps coming down the hallway towards the kitchen. Before I knew it, I saw Robby out of my peripheral vision. As soon as we made eye contact he turned 180 degrees and ran towards the bedroom.

In that moment, Robby became a modern (and slightly dysfunctional) embodiment of Paul Revere. Trotting down the hallway he called out "Dad, whatever you do, don't go into the kitchen. Dad, did you hear me? I wouldn't go into the kitchen if I were you. Mom has her boobs in the freezer."

Being only 8, Robby failed to anticipate that his warning of "boobs in the freezer" becomes an invitation to inquiry when heard by an adult.  Scott met Robby's stride as he took off towards the kitchen, hoping to catch a glimpse after hearing the warning.  In the meantime Robby kept shrieking his warning to stay clear of the kitchen.  I think I may have traumatized him while providing Scott with the fodder for jokes for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


I didn't need Robby's teachers to tell me that he has been working hard in school. The fact that he comes home each afternoon exhausted is all the confirmation I need. My little scholar has dedicated himself to his academic work with an intensity and dedication that I haven't seen in years past. I suspect the fact that his best friend is in his class is the impetus for his motivation.

Each afternoon when I pick him up his teachers give me a brief report on the day's activities. The debriefing is mainly because I manage their Facebook page, but it has proven invaluable as I try to pry the information out of Robby. I'm so tired of hearing "nothing" or "stuff" when I ask him what he did in school. At least now I have conversation starters, and my questions can be directed towards what I know he learned that day. 

When I picked him up yesterday I was chatting with the teacher while Robby was playing in the entrance way. Hamlet was in his car seat, set towards the corner of the room. His teacher was in the middle of telling me how well Robby was behaving and how hard he was working on his reading when I caught something out of the corner of my eye.

Without breaking eye contact with his teacher, I emphatically said, "Robby, stop twerking your baby brother right now." I thought that his teacher was going to spit her coffee across the room as she tried to keep from laughing! So much for my well-behaved, hard working student. Robby Rotten arrived in the form of a Miley Cyrus style stripper, theatrically gyrating (with his hands clasped behind his head) over his infant brother looking up from his carrier. 

I was mortified by Robby's demonstration but was relieved that he obeyed. He must have sensed the purpose in my demand because lately his listening to a request the first time is a rarity.  As he unstraddled the carseat he loudly, albeit innocently, asked, "Momom, is twerking the same moves that are used when making a baby?" Taken aback but wanting to end the exchange, I quickly said yes before trying to usher him out of the school. By this time his teacher's face was turning red from trying to contain her laughter.

"Oh, I didn't know that. I won't twerk my brother anymore because I sure don't want to have a baby with him.  That would be awkward."  At this point his teacher lost the battle with decorum and started to roar with laughter.  There is really  no graceful way to end that type of exchange, so I just said goodbye and grabbed the baby carrier.  In retrospect, I doubt that his teacher heard my departing words over her giggles.  Definitely not my proudest Momom moment!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Putting Off the Dance

To my relief we received the best possible news about our car. Although the repairs required are both extensive and costly, the malfunction which caused us to lose power was covered by a recent Toyota recall.  All repair expenses are covered in full, leaving us to pay only the tow and rental out of pocket. I felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders when I heard the news!

I hate car shopping, and I find it especially unsavory when I have to do it out of necessity rather than desire. I find the process of haggling distasteful, probably because I am really bad at it. I become nervously awkward whenever money enters a conversation. Typically I'm rather confident and verbose, but when money is involved I turn into a weak-spined shrinking violet.

It isn't that I am poor with money management. I just don't feel comfortable discussing figures, whether they relate to my being compensated or my paying for a service/ product. I am the person at bazaars who cheerfully overpays for the tourist knickknacks simply because I'm too meek to barter.  Fair salary offers and clear prices on tags, without the need or expectation to negotiate, is definitely part of my Utopia.  I am really working on that aspect of my personality because I know it results in my being undervalued and/or my overpaying.

My sister thinks that she is well-versed and gifted when it comes to car shopping.   She is wrong. Perhaps the only thing worse than being too shy to haggle is being overly arrogant in your bartering abilities.  The last time I went car shopping with her she presented her demands in a matter-of-fact manner. I knew that she was being unrealistic, but trusted when she claimed to know how to manage the "dealership dance."  When they presented what I thought was a reasonable counteroffer, she scoffed by saying "I guess we are done here" before storming out of the dealership. 

She claimed that they would call shortly and meet her demands.  They did call, but only because she had left her purse in the car that we test drove. She begged my Mom to drive back to the dealership to retrieve her purse.  So much for appearing competent and assertive!

I know that we will eventually need to shop for a new car, but thankfully that time is not now. In a few days our SUV will be parked in our garage, and life will return to normal.  Fingers crossed we'll be able to put off the dealership dance for another few years.  In the meantime, I'm going to make sure that Scott reads all of the recall notices he receives from the dealership!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Resonating Words

While I don't enjoy being in a spotlight, I am slowly becoming more comfortable speaking in public. Telling my story and relating to the audience is becoming easier, although each time the microphone is put into my hands I feel faint. I tend to go into autopilot mode, pretending that I'm talking to a friend and hoping that I make sense. 

Typical to my reaction, Saturday morning I woke up feeling nervous and queasy. I felt insecure about my ability to effectively communicate and doubted the choice to include me in the program. I always feel insecure before a speech, and tend to perseverate on the most minute details. Saturday morning my uncooperative hair became the focus of my obsession. 

In retrospect I should not have cared about my hair because the event was outside. It was a breezy day, so my carefully coiffed locks quickly became windblown and disheveled. The first stiff wind destroyed all of my efforts of the previous hour.  So much for trying!

The speech went well, although I can't recount what I said. I spoke from the heart and the reaction from the audience was favorable. Robby sat attentively throughout my speech, sporting a smile from ear to ear. He gave me a standing ovation at the end, which was perhaps the best affirmation I could have received. 

After the speech was complete, we stayed for lunch and the festivities. We were playing a carnival game when I was approached by somebody who had been in the audience. In a timid and shaky voice, she began to speak.

I knew what she was going to relay within seconds of hearing her first utterance. I've been in her shoes, and although the details are different, the fears are the same. The day before she had been told by her physicians that she would require a below-knee amputation.  She was terrified and looking for information and for hope that her life would be okay. I knew immediately how she was feeling because I was in the same situation 11 years ago.

We found a quiet spot and chatted for awhile. We ended the conversation with an exchange of contact information, a hug and a reassurance that she was going to be okay. I am so happy that I happened to be speaking at the event that she was attending and that my story resonated with her. In the end my hair didn't matter at all, and I left on cloud 9 knowing that I was able to help somebody in a small way. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Teachable Moments

This weekend was a whirlwind and, although it didn't turn out as expected, it definitely will become a strong family memory. I was invited to speak at an event in New Jersey and we decided it was best if Timmy did not accompany us on this trip. The time in the car was going to be lengthy, especially since we would be in the thick of Friday rush hour traffic. I knew that he would quickly melt down, and his crying would make everybody else just as miserable. I am lucky that my Mom was both willing and able to take Hamlet for the night, allowing us to travel to the event baby-free.

After meeting my Mom halfway to do the baby transfer, I drove directly to Robby's school to host his Pirate Party.  All of the little buccaneers had a great time! After the party Robby and I headed home to pack for our big New Jersey adventure.  The car was packed and we were ready to roll by the time Scott came home from work.

Unfortunately the timing for hitting Washington DC and Baltimore traffic was not advantageous for a smooth and quick trip. As predicted, we managed to hit rush hour in both heavily congested cities.  What should have been a three hour drive slowly turned into a tortured 4.5 hour trip. Despite the time in the car, Robby was a trooper and rarely complained. Scott, on the other hand, did not handle the delay nearly as gracefully.

After checking into the hotel and eating dinner, I was ready for bed. Scott and Robby stayed up late, watching a "man show" on the History network. I enjoyed a solid night of baby free sleep. What a luxury!

The speech on Saturday went well, and we all had a blast at the event. (I am sure I will write more about it in a future blog.) Before I knew it, we were loading into the car and getting ready to head to my Mom's to pick up Timmy. Thankfully the traffic was light and we were making good time. Going at a good clip on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Scott and we were talking about the fun day. Perhaps we jinxed ourselves?

Without notice, and while we were cruising 70 mph, the car suddenly lost power.  Our SUV would no longer accelerate. Vulnerable and drifting along the speeding road, we were lucky to be able to bring the car to the side of the turnpike. Scott parked the car while Robby and I sought safety from the hazard by climbing up the side of a hill. It was during this time that I witnessed how my husband and I have polar opposite reactions to a crisis.

Being stranded on the side of a road was a familiar experience as I was growing up. It seemed that our dilapidated cars were always breaking down on family road trips, or during everyday excursions. Each of those incidents were then and continue to be referred to as unexpected adventures. From breaking down on the side of the highway leaving Disneyworld to the broken fuel line in Key West, I don't remember the experiences being marred by panic or frustration.  I learned from a young age that things break down and that you have to roll with it.

I was surprised to learn that this was the first time Scott has ever been stranded on the side of a road. What was oddly familiar for me was completely foreign and terrifying for him. He met the incident with panic, frustration and anger. As Robby and I sat on a blanket and quietly watched the traffic fly past us, Scott angrily paced and lamented the power failure. He was miserable, whereas I was okay.

Taking his father's cue, Robby began to complain and quickly became upset. I recognized what was happening and decided that we were in the midst of a teachable moment. I put my arm around Robby and quietly (well, as quiet as I could talk and still be heard on the side of a busy highway) that bad things happen. We couldn't do anything about the car breaking down, but we could control how we reacted. We could be angry and miserable, but that wouldn't help the tow truck arrive faster or magically fix the car. Since the situation would not improve by being miserable, it was better to remain calm and optimistic. After all, feeling calm always trumps feeling panicked and upset. 

After Robby calmed down and opted to remain optimistic, we began to explore the situation to count our blessings. The sun was shining and the temperature was perfect for sitting outside. We drifted our car right next to an emergency call box. With the push of a button a tow truck was summoned. We were only 40 minutes from my Mom's house, and we were able to call her for a ride home. We didn't have Timmy with us, for he surely would have been scared on the side of the road.  Most importantly, we were all healthy and safe.  We easily could have been hurt, but we were able to stop the car safely and without incident. 

With one phone call, my sister immediately hopped into her car and headed out to rescue us. Unfortunately we were on the turnpike, which does not have closely spaced exits. She had to drive 25 miles past us in order to get to the nearest exit before she could turn around to head in our direction. By that time the tow truck had arrived, and we were all en route to the nearest service repair shop.  (We didn't end up at the repair shop I preferred, but at a tow rate of $4.50 a mile, I figured that the dealer closest to our location would be adequate to fix the car.) 

The car is in a repair shop in Pennsylvania, forcing us to rent a car for the week. I have no idea what happened with the vehicle, but I'm fairly certain the malfunction will be expensive. There is never a good time for a costly car repair, and the expense certainly has me feeling worried and stressed. Unfortunately Scott is still having trouble processing the incident, so I have to keep my own financial anxieties to myself.