Monday, June 28, 2010

House and Home

We bought our current house for two reasons. It had great square footage and it had good woods. The good woods part was a specific request from our three boys. Our last house was in a beautiful valley in Utah, bordered by mountain peaks. Although we were surrounded by the illusion of trees, bright green patches covering the mountainside in the distance, there were no trees of any significant size to be found in our little valley.

Our house and each of its hundreds of neighboring houses had a token little sprout, usually centered in the landscaping, giving height to the surrounding bushes and flowers. But for boys, who dream of climbing thick branches and building tree forts, it was a wasteland of dessert.

So when we arrived in New York our boys were in awe. So many trees, in all directions. So many branches to climb and forests to explore. Their only criteria for a new home was that it be surrounded by good woods. The kind you can hike through and explore. The kind you can escape to when life’s stress and mom’s rules become too much to handle.

After losing two other houses to bidding wars and bad inspections we finally found this one. It had decent square footage for the money, something we had been struggling to find. And it had woods. Five acres of great woods. It didn’t matter to the boys that the house itself needed a whole lot of TLC.

So our first year in New York proved to be a jumble of finding new doctors, figuring out new DMV rules, getting four kids settled in three different schools, and on top of all that, a non-stop renovation project. We tore out walls and ripped up carpet. We steamed off room after room of wallpaper and painted every single wall in the house. Four layers of linoleum, a history lesson in floor coverings, was removed from half the downstairs and many dusty hours later our ‘new’ wood floors were sanded and stained.

With the help of four strong kids we gutted the kitchen to the studs and built it back up again. One weekend we drove to the IKEA store in Boston and loaded up a kitchen full of cabinets to create our new cooking space. Side by side on the newly sanded wood floors, the kids and I pored over directions and figured out how to assemble those same cabinets.

More than any other house we’ve lived in, this one has the most of our literal blood, sweat and tears in it. It is very true that death, divorce and house renovation are the three biggest stresses in life. We’ve lived through two of the three and have battle scars to prove it.

This weekend I was telling my mother-in-law that Jeff has dreams of someday building our retirement home in the woods behind our house, then selling the house we live in now. I know it would take a miracle, or the lottery, for that to happen, so I don’t dwell on the idea often, but I have thought through a few aspects of it.

I love the idea of a house tucked in the woods. I love the idea of new construction, where you know what every light switch is for and you don’t have random extra pipes in your plumbing system. It sounds very appealing to have a totally finished house, down to the last piece of trim and double paned window. But one aspect of this idea really bothers me.

In this scenario we would share a driveway with our old house. Every day, every single time I ran errands or headed to work, I would be forced to drive right past this old house, and know that someone else has set up their life in it. I’d have to see the flowers they chose for the flower beds and wouldn’t have a vote when they decided to tear down the old garage or build a new deck that wasn’t to my liking. This dwelling that has been molded into what our family wanted would no longer be mine. Our memories would be erased as a new family settled in. It would be hard to watch it unfold on a daily basis.

I know it’s happened in every house we’ve ever lived in. We’ve driven past our old houses when we’ve visited Missouri, New Hampshire and Washington D.C. The cars in the driveway are no longer ours and the landscaping has changed. As long as I only have to see them once or twice, I’m okay with that. It’s just a reminder that home is where the people you love happen to hang out. It’s never really a specific building.

Watching my youngest child navigate his toddler and preschool years in the midst of cross country moves has taught me a lot about stability and being grounded. He thought every family put all their belongings in boxes every year and lived in hotels for weeks at a time. All that mattered in his life was that every morning, when he woke up, whether it be in a sprawling house in Utah or a tiny hotel room at the Residence Inn, as long as the people he loved were smiling back at him, he was ‘home’.

I know we won’t live in this house forever. Some day it will be time to move on. As much as I’ve loved the other places we’ve lived, I’ve always been excited to see what was next. Every move opened up opportunities for new memories and new life experiences.

But somehow this house may be different. It’s the only house we’ve ever put so much work into, poured so much love into, and spread so much elbow grease into every cob webbed corner. Until the time comes to think about packing it all up and moving on, I continue to love this house. It’s where we make memories for today.

Even with all of its never ending repair projects, it feels deeply like home.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sam's Spot

Although he loves his daddy dearly, there is no denying the excitement Sam feels when daddy is out of town and he becomes mama’s little boy again. When daddy is in town (which is most of the time) Sam loves doing all the things nine year old boys do with their male parent. They wrestle and play rock band. They watch Star Wars cartoons and tell fart jokes. All of the things that this mommy has no desire to do.

But something happens to my boy when daddy leaves town. He becomes my buddy and clings a bit more tightly to the things that make our relationship special. One of his favorites is getting to sleep in daddy’s spot. The minute he catches wind of a daddy departure, the first words out of his mouth are, “I call Dad’s spot!”

Only one of his siblings has a desire to fight him on this point. The other two are long past thinking it’s a treat to sleep in mom’s bed. In fact, it’s more like torture to share a bed when hotel nights require it. But my two youngest still feel the magic and on the rare occasions that the spot’s up for grabs, we either do endless rounds of rock, scissors, paper or just give up and all three of us pile in together.

This weekend Sam got lucky. Dad was leaving town and taking Isaac with him. There would be no battles about bedtime spots. The left side of that king sized bed was all his.

The travelers left early in the afternoon, then teen siblings went off to do what teens do, so Sam and I had the afternoon and evening all to ourselves. He played Legos for a bit while I finished some writing. Then we met on the couch to watch a movie together. He’d seen it before, when it first came out, but I’d never had the chance to watch the Disney movie, “Up”. It was a sweet story about what’s really important in life and making the people in your life feel special. Perfect for snuggle time on the couch on this Friday night.

I have to say, I’m craving and relishing in these rare intimate times with my quickly growing last child. He’s always been my cuddler and I have not fully come to grips with the fact he will grow up and out of my arms some day. Someday soon, actually. He’s four months away from turning ten and just a few years away from being as tall as I am. He joined our nest when our oldest was ten, our youngest almost five, so he’s always enjoyed that baby spot in our family.

But I’m beginning to see how even the baby eventually grows up, no matter how much I fight it.

On this same afternoon that Dad and brother left town I had a glimpse into the pulling away. Sam and I had gone to Target to get a birthday present for a friend. We used to run errands together every day, when he was a toddler and preschooler. I desperately miss those days. By force of habit I reached out to grab his hand as we walked up the parking lot toward the store. His hand met mine, then pulled away. I turned to him, and with a playful smile, said ”Awww Sam, you’re not gonna hold my hand? Are you afraid someone might see you?”

He sheepishly looked back at me and whispered his reply. “Wait till we get to the back aisles…” I clearly see that our hand holding days are over. But fortunately, my snuggling at home days are not.

So we decided to go to bed early last night. Just so Sam could truly soak in his special spot before the sandman arrived. I got out a book, he got out a book, and we read for almost an hour, side by side. Then he quietly closed his book, placed it on dad’s night stand, and scooched over to my side. With his body splayed out, taking up almost half the bed, he gently placed his head on my shoulder and let out a deep sigh. My boy was tired but not yet ready for sleep.

“Is this what dad does?” he asked. It was a question I’d heard three other times already. Instead of being a little boy, wanting to snuggle with his mom, he had decided he was acting in dad’s place that night, being the man of the family. As he straightened the covers and climbed into bed, he asked the same question - “Is this what dad does?” Then as he fluffed his pillows to get set up for reading, he asked the question again. Now, head perched on my shoulder, he was validating his actions, an excuse to get just a bit closer to mom.

“Yeah,” I assured him, “That’s exactly what dad does.”

Within minutes he was asleep. His head grew heavy on my shoulder and eventually dropped off as his body instinctively rolled over to get more comfortable. He settled into a deep sleep and seemed to be contentedly tucked into dreamland.

Then, just as I was reaching over to put my own book away and turn out the light, he rolled over. It was a move that a body makes with no forethought, just moving to where it wants most to be, with no reservations about judgments that might be made. His whole body came my way and folded into the crook of my arm. Just like so many nights when he was a toddler and fell asleep tucked up next to my body, before daddy carried him off to his big boy bed, he found the old familiar spot.

I wrapped my arm around him and pulled him closer. With my other hand I smoothed the sweaty hair across his forehead. A deep sigh escaped his lips and he settled in deeper, sinking back into my embrace.

Ahh, my sweet baby boy. How desperately you claw and fight to grow up and be a man, just like your big strong daddy. And how equally forceful I become, trying to pull you back to my arms. These moments will not last forever. I will cherish them, while you are asleep and so unaware of my nurturing. I will remember this moment for years to come.

But this you should understand, my last child - you’ll never really take daddy’s spot in my life. But don’t be sad, my precious boy. You don’t need daddy’s spot.

You’ll always, forever and always, have your own spot. Sam’s spot.

And that will always be a pretty great spot to be.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Be My Guest

I was honored to be asked to guest blog at a wonderful Mothering blog called Motherese today. You can find the essay I wrote for that blog at

And welcome to any newbies who have found this blog because of that one. Feel free to poke around here. We're happy to have you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Forever Friend

This outfit, a gift from Kelly, eighteen years ago.

When I was a child, my best friends were kids from church. We lived way out in the country, a half an hour from school, and there were very few sleep overs or after school friendship opportunities with the kids I knew from the classroom. Instead, I spent most of my after school hours at home with my siblings or at church, with my ‘church friends’.

Our family was so committed to church that I found myself there a lot. Twice on Sundays, every Wednesday night and sometimes other weeknights, if we were preparing for a special presentation. And that’s not counting the week long mission trips and vacation Bible school sessions each and every summer. Even today, 25 years away from childhood, I count a handful of my church friends as some of my favorite people on the planet.

So I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that I started my week by checking in with a friend in Kentucky, who I’ve known most of my life. She and I have been acquainted since we shared sippy cups in the church nursery together. We’ve traveled in beat up church buses, across many state lines, on youth mission trips. We were lucky enough to attend the same high school, so we caught glimpses of each other on our way to and from classes, although she was a year older and much cooler than I was. I have always been honored to be her friend.

I have two sisters, so you’d think I really didn’t need or deserve a third. But if I could sign a paper to make it happen, Kelly would be my third sister by the end of this day. She is valuable to me for many reasons, one of them being something she can offer that my own sisters cannot. Kelly had her first baby, a daughter, six years before I had mine.

Six years might not seem like a lot, but in a child’s development and life stage, it can bring many changes. One of my sisters has only sons, both much younger than my oldest. My other sister had a daughter just four months after I did. We can commiserate all day long, comparing stories about how these girls are going to drive us to drink, but when it comes to what’s next, she’s as clueless as I am.

This is where Kelly is very helpful.

I clearly remember a phone conversation I had with her many years ago. As I balanced my six month old on my hip I heard Kelly talking about going to the library with her daughter, Kim, and picking out new books to share at bedtime. I was in awe. We had baby board books all over our house, but I could hardly imagine being able to read a chapter book to my child, then discussing the story line as she grew sleepy. I remember asking Kelly, “So, what’s that LIKE?” All she could answer was, “Great!”

She was in the next stage of child rearing and I was just beginning to understand the concept of being a mom.

Through the years we’ve both moved quite a bit. Some years we only exchanged Christmas cards, some years we managed to connect on the phone. Then email arrived and the doors opened up more. I continued to quiz her about what life was like six years ahead. How do you respond to big kid problems? What exactly are the problems we’ll face when our kids become big kids? She always had an encouraging, thoughtful answer.

Now my first born is graduating from high school. I feel so far past potty training and training wheels yet so unfamiliar with these new life stages. It’s hard to process some days, especially as I still have three to continue to raise, once my grown up girl goes on with her life. The next few years will be a transition for our relationship as I slowly (and maybe painfully) learn how to be a mom to a young adult.

Fortunately, this thing called Facebook came along just when I needed it. Kelly and I are friends on Facebook, which means we can be in closer contact than ever before, despite the fact we live a thousand miles apart. Kelly knows all about this angst I’m feeling. She’s done it twice now. Both of her children, Kim and her younger brother, have walked across that big stage and accepted that little rolled up paper. Both have moved on to college.

It’s been a bumpy road sometimes. I’m in awe of how honest she’s been with me, about the good and the bad of having kids in college and the struggles of finding their own way. It’s helped brace me for the changes that are on my own horizon.

She’s as valuable to me as she ever has been, this childhood friend of mine. No parenting book or advice column could offer what she held up to me so graciously through the years, understanding and encouragement, tailored to fit my exact need. With her help I’ll get through this next step in life. And then we’ll move on to whatever comes after that. She’s proven herself pretty competent in paving the way for me so far.

I guess at this point I should be crossing my fingers, hoping and praying that she gets to plan a daughter’s wedding and hold her first grandchild just a few years before I do.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Understanding Tradition

It’s the usual end of school year stuff. Field days and class picnics. Permission slips constantly stacked on the kitchen table, waiting for a quick signature and a couple of bucks. This year it’s been crazier than usual. Graduation requirements and activities seem to dominate the calendar.

We’ve made it through one big event - Senior Prom. My girl had a blast and returned home safely so I’d have to say it was a huge success. She surrounded herself with great friends, wore a beautiful dress she already owned (boy, did I get off easily on that one) and spent the afternoon before the dance getting ready with a handful of pals.

Once the transformations were complete, the whole gang met up at a town park and the pack of moms took way too many pictures. “Let’s have you all turn this way…okay, not that way…okay, now just the girls…okay, now everyone over by the tree…”

Next on the schedule was the big walk through at the high school. This is a brand new concept to our family. I first heard about it when my daughter went to senior prom a few years ago with a boyfriend. “A walk through? What’s a walk through?” I kept asking my girl. We’ve lived in four states since we’ve had kids in school and I’d never heard of such a thing.

What everyone from this area knows is that a walk through is the chance for parents to come to the high school and watch every single couple walk across the auditorium stage in their fancy outfits. Parents play the paparazzi and take a zillion more pictures. When it’s all over, the kids climb into cars and drive across town for the real dance.

I was very confused by this tradition when my daughter attended with her boyfriend a few years ago and hadn’t come much closer to figuring it out now that it was her official prom. Then someone at work explained it in a different way and it made a lot more sense.

“It’s a chance to see all those kids, all those friends your kid has had since kindergarten, now all grown up. Some of them you haven’t seen since elementary school and it’s so fun to see how much they’ve matured in high school!”

Well, well, well. That made more sense.

If we’d lived here for the last twelve years, this would have been a very different experience. For me and for my daughter. But we haven’t. We moved here just as she was starting high school. I didn’t know most of those kids who were crossing the stage on prom night. I knew only the handful of kids I’ve slowly come to meet in the past four years. Most of them were at the town park and I’d already taken their pictures. The others are older and younger than my daughter, not seniors, and not involved in this night. It was suddenly very clear to me.

This is what happens when your life choices mean your children attend several schools in their educational careers. There are always new traditions to figure out and new friends to make. Our oldest three have experienced four different school systems, in four different states. Hopefully all three will finish out their school days by walking across the graduation stage at Columbia High School.

Sam is our only child who has a chance to have the full, one school system experience. He started his kindergarten year right down the road from this house, just weeks after we’d moved to New York. So far it has been fun watching him grow up and travel through the ranks at Genet Elementary.

Last week I was on the bleachers behind his school, waiting to see him run his race on field day. He practices for months to run this one event. When big brothers are doing laps for high school track practice, their little brother is in his own training mode, preparing for the closest thing he has to a track meet so far.

I found myself taking more than the usual two dozen pictures. I snapped some of his whole class, standing in a row, waiting their turn on the field. I took some of his classmates, receiving their ribbons and sitting on the sidelines cheering for their friends on the field. It was a conscious choice. Documenting these children, these kids he shares a classroom with each year, knowing that someday I might have a chance to see them all grown up.

There’s a good chance Sam will be in the East Greenbush School District for all twelve years of school. Before he up and moves back to Utah to go to college (he’s made all the plans already) he too will walk across the Columbia stage and receive a diploma. A few weeks before that, he’ll get all dressed up and go to prom. And you can bet I’ll be in that parent audience when walk throughs go down that night.

Because I’ll finally get it. I’ll have the faces of those tall grown up kids seared into my brain as sweet little seven and eight year olds. I’ll have field day pictures from 2008, and 2009, and 2010 to prove it. It will be another season of craziness, getting our last child through the graduation machine.

But it will be a totally different experience.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thirty Seconds

How long is thirty seconds? It can feel like a finger snap when you’re saying good bye to someone you love but rarely get to see. It’s a blip of time when you’re on a relaxing vacation, laying on a beach or cuddled in a comfy Adirondack chair with a good book. Or when you’re front row, center, at a live performance of your favorite band. Time seems to evaporate at an accelerated pace.

Thirty seconds is a very long time when a nurse is trying ‘just once more’ to find that mysterious vein so she can draw blood. It’s a gut wrenching amount of time when you’re across the room and watch your child fall into a coffee table with sharp edges. It’s an excruciating amount of time when labor pains are wracking your body and the next one will be over in ‘less than a minute’.

Thirty seconds can be a lot of things. It can reveal new maturity in a four year old who stands in line at preschool without wiggling for the first time. It can uncover hidden affection when a big brother takes the time to pause on the hiking trail, just long enough for little brother to catch up, so an intriguing nature find can be shared. And sometimes thirty seconds can reveal a lot about a person’s character.

I have this brother in law named Kurt, who loves to run. He ran track in high school, alongside his four brothers. He was rarely the fastest runner and was sometimes teased for his ‘gangly’ running gait. But he continued to run as he became an adult, and eventually became a very smooth runner.

He started eating all the right foods and invested in quality shoes. His efforts paid off. For the past decade he’s been committed to running 5Ks, sometimes alongside his runner wife, sometimes on his own. The two of them have a drawer full of race bibs, collected from dozens of races.

Then a couple of years ago he decided it was time to run a marathon. The goal would be to eventually run the Boston marathon. Not everyone gets to run in Boston, only those who qualify. So, unlike the rest of us, who would be happy just to finish a marathon, Kurt decided he would finish one with a time that would qualify him for the big one in Boston. He trained and trained, running the mountain trails near his house and putting in the miles on long lonely back roads.

The day finally came for his big race and he was ready. He ran his heart out. But after all was said and done, he missed his time. After running for over three hours, at a really steady, quick pace, Kurt missed the qualifying time by one minute. After running twenty six miles, sixty seconds stood between him and Boston.

But it’s not in Kurt’s nature to give up. He knew he could do it. He’d come within sixty seconds of doing it. He had to keep going. So he laced up those running shoes and he started over. Back to the mountain hills, back to the long country roads. His wife rode next to him on her bike, pushing him to go farther, faster. He was not ready to let his dream die.

So this past weekend we piled all four kids into the car and we drove up to Vermont. It was time for Kurt’s big race. It was time for him to qualify for the big one. We made signs and brought along our loudest cheering voices.

It was a gorgeous day. Overcast and cool, just right for running. The sun came out and by mid afternoon we all had pink cheeks. We split up into smaller groups and tried our best to catch Kurt along the race route as many times as possible. His wife clanged her cow bell and blasted his favorite music out of a small boom box every time she caught sight of him. We yelled and clapped and screamed out his name every time he passed by our spot next to the course.

After three long hours of racing back and forth to catch a glimpse of him, we went to wait by the home stretch. He had been on pace for his goal time at the 20 mile point. When he finally passed us it was impossible to tell if he’d made it. Our clocks were not coordinated with the race clock exactly, but we could tell it was going to be close.

He finished, looking strong and relieved and exhausted, all at the same time. As he sat next to us on some park side boulders and stretched his tired muscles, his wife ran over to the results table to await the final times. It seemed like she was gone forever.

And when she did return she greeted her worn out hubby with a long hug and a tender kiss, whispering something in his ear. “Three, sixteen, twenty-nine.”

Kurt had needed three hours, fifteen minutes and fifty nine seconds to make his qualifying time. He hadn’t missed it by sixty seconds this time. He’d missed it by thirty seconds. A half a minute. A flash of time to the rest of us but a lifetime to a runner who’s just pounded 26 miles into the pavement. It was heart breaking to hear. But our man Kurt handled it with grace, just as we knew he would.

Knowing he has more training ahead, more gut wrenching miles to lay down to get ready for the next one, because by golly, there will be a next one, this man who could have been downright angry, turned to give us his great broad smile. He ate a bagel, had a quick drink of water, and he moved on. This one’s over, time to plan the next one. Within minutes he was joyfully riding my son around on his back like a pony.

I learned a lot about thirty seconds this weekend. It can feel like a long time and it can feel like a flash of light. And sometimes, when the conditions are right, it can teach you a lot about a person’s character.

Those two round numbers can speak volumes about the true meaning of class.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer Leg Glitches

Summer’s on the horizon. It means the kids have blow-off-school fever. It means switching my dinner menus from warm soups and casseroles to cold sandwiches and anything that doesn’t use the stove. It also means different leg issues for those of us who get around with the help of some bionics.

It is a pleasure to finally wear shorts. It’s so much easier to fiddle with my leg, when I need adjustments, when I don’t have to pull down my pants to do it. Of course I get more looks as I walk by. I don’t mind. I have to accept the fact that most of the population has two flesh covered legs. When people notice I have a black metal ankle, they tend to do the classic double take. I do the same thing when I see other amputees. Curious minds want to figure it out.

My daughter and I were in Target the other day, contemplating which graduation plates to buy, when a little girl, about the age of five, came around the corner and suddenly noticed my leg. I say ‘suddenly’ because she did a full abrupt screeching stop as her eyes locked in on my hardware and instantly she squatted down to get a better view. Little kids seem to notice it the most, since their eye level hits most people at the knees to begin with.

She was about six feet away from us and I pretended not to see her. Parents sometimes get embarrassed at their child’s curiosity and I wanted this child to be able to look all she wanted before her mom caught on to her. She left momentarily but returned with her little brother in tow. She resumed her original squatting position, this time with her mini-me next to her, and all she said to him, as she quickly pointed, was “look…”

By then we had made our decision, filled our cart with plates and napkins adorned with caps and gowns, and we moved on to the next item on our list. Little girl and her brother went back to their mom (I assume) and probably spent the rest of their time in Target discussing the ins and outs of what they had seen. It’s all just a part of summer for me.

Another new issue I face involves my time at the gym. I don’t want to be too graphic here, but I want you to understand the difference between me and you, when it comes to sweating during a work-out. I bring a towel to wipe my face, when I am pedaling away on the stationary bike. But once my time is up, and it’s time to walk to the locker rooms, I have a slight problem.

In the course of all that pedaling, my stump has been sweating. It slowly fills up the rubber sock I wear between my hard leg shell and my skin. As I step off the bike, I step into a sock full of ‘water’. I literally squish with every step I take to the locker rooms. It’s like walking on a waterbed, but just on your left side. My limp is pronounced, and not from pain, as most people probably think. But because I am slurping with every forward step.
Once I get to the locker rooms and can take off that rubber sock, dump out its contents, and wipe down my leg, I am back to normal. The walk to the car is comfortable again. So if you see me at the gym, after my work out, and see how much I’m limping, don’t think I’m in pain. Just know I’m doing a radical leg- filled- with -sweat dance.

Warm weather also brings with it more outdoor activities. When free time rolls around we are always on the lookout for new places to explore. Two weekends ago we hiked an incredible trail that led to a waterfall. As long as the hills don’t get too steep, I do okay on these hikes. But sometimes I can be slow. I have to watch my feet when I hike. My foot does not respond to uneven terrain like a real foot does and I have to see what’s coming before I step out, to make any necessary adjustments. This slows me down but also makes me miss the scenery, if I’m not careful. So not only do I hike like a turtle, I stop a lot along the way, to just look around and take in the scenery.

Slow hiking can drive young, healthy teen sons crazy. They like to move forward, see what’s next. So a few years ago my oldest son christened himself my ‘accelerator’. He walks next to me and I grab his bent elbow, using him much like a walking stick. But better. He’s a walking stick with a motor. As he picks up his pace, it’s like having a motor pull me down the trail. It works great. His strong legs love the work out and I get an instant boost for my pace. With the stability of him on my right side, I can actually look around as we hike, and enjoy the view like everyone else.

It worked especially well last weekend. We were in Burlington Vermont, watching my brother in law run a marathon. If you’ve ever watched a marathon, you know that the runners aren’t the only ones getting exercise. You find a spot along the race course, then wait for him to come by. You yell and scream and hold up signs of encouragement. Then after he passes, you rush over to the next spot he might pass by and do it all again.

We saw our runner five times in the course of his race. Which meant we huffed it up and down streets and up and down hills. Sometimes we circled back and walked back to the same spots we’d just come from. In the end, it was a LOT of walking. But I did fine.

Between my recent work at the gym on the treadmills and my built in accelerator, we got to each spot in plenty of time. There was only one time, in the middle of the day, that I got a bit nervous. We headed down a LONG hill and I was fully aware that with every step I took down, we’d be climbing right back up once we saw our runner.

But my accelerator came through. He bent his arm at the elbow and stuck it out for me. I happily grabbed his bent forearm, and we were off. In a flash we were at the top of that big hill. I was amazed. No panting, no struggle. The only downside is that my handy dandy accelerator has plans to leave me for college in just over a year. Guess I’ll have to start training his brothers soon, in this art of acceleration.

I’ll end this before it gets too long. I just thought you might like a peek inside my world. I still love this leg that lets me do all I want to do in a day. But life with an artificial leg can have its own glitches. It’s all about adapting and moving forward.

Sometimes with a little help from a strong teenage son.