Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Few Days at the Beach

Last month my family and I headed south for a vacation in Panama City Beach, Florida.  Unfortunately, our it was cut short due to rain and flooding, but we made the best of it while we were there.

We arrived late on a Sunday evening and Annabelle couldn't wait to get her toes in the sand.  She even found some seashells for Mima. 

Monday was absolutely beautiful.  After breakfast, we headed to the beach.  We had snowmen to build...I mean sand castles.....Annabelle has watched Frozen a few too many times the last couple of weeks and got a little confused.  ;-)

This year, I rented a power beach chair and it was fabulous!!  I wanted to be able to enjoy the beach with my daughter.  Annabelle was so excited about playing in the ocean and building sand castles.  She loved riding with me in my 'new beach chair'. 

Once on the beach, I couldn't wait to get out of that chair and play in the sand with my excited child.  Jeremy was able to transfer me to our beach blanket with no problems.  Annabelle squealed with delight as she filled her sand bucket up.  She brought me various sand toys so I could assist her in building project.  I love being on the ground at her level and watching her experience things for the first time. 

It wasn't long before she was ready to check the ocean out with her daddy.  I laid back on the blanket with my toes in the sand as they took off hand in hand. 

Annabelle giggled and shouted as the waves crashed over her.  As I watched my husband and child, I felt tears in my eyes because I wasn't able to be apart of that moment with her.  I couldn't be the strong hand that lifted her up as the waves came crashing in. 

I never let those tears fall because a moment later Annabelle came running to me on that blanket.  She was cold and wanted her mommy to help warm her up.  And of course I was there for her with open arms. 

There will always be things that I am unable to do with Annabelle.  I know that, I realize that, but it isn't always easy as those events unfold. I will always participate in as much as I physically can with Annabelle.  And when things arise that I can't physical participate in, she will always find me on the sidelines cheering her on.    

After several hours of beach fun, it was time for a nap.  We all had a wonderful time playing together on the beach.  Jeremy and I are so glad that Annabelle loves the beach. 

Tuesday was rainy, rainy and Annabelle was not happy about not getting to play in the sand.  It finally cleared up enough for her and Jeremy to take a quick stroll before dinner.  Even though it was misting rain, she still loved it!!

Wednesday was more rain and lots of flooding.  We were suppose to stay until Saturday but the weather was going to be terrible until then.  Annabelle just couldn't understand why we weren't playing in the sand and swimming in the ocean.  A red flag at the ocean means nothing to a two and a half year old. 

We ended up cutting our trip short and returning home late Wednesday night.  Several roads had flooded and we didn't want to risk being stuck.  Annabelle and I were sad to go but are looking forward to our next beach trip in June. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Kindness of Strangers Part One

It seems people always tend to focus on the things individuals with disabilities cannot do.

Yes, I must admit it is very obvious that most people in wheelchairs are unable to walk. But as I have seen time and again, there is so much more to life than the steps we take.

I strive to be as independent as possible everyday.  I also strive to share every experience I possibly can with my daughter. 

Most days I am able to successful do both of those things.  Some days I struggle with both of those things. 
Normally, if success is achieved in an area I am struggling with, it is in part due to the kindness of strangers. 
I encounter the kindness of strangers almost everyday, but in the last few days, several have gone above and beyond. 
On Saturday my husband and I took Annabelle to the Tennessee Rail Road Museum for a DAY OUT WITH THOMAS.  She LOVES Thomas so we knew this would be a fabulous day. 
A few months back I spoke with someone at the Tennessee Rail Road Museum about the accessibility for this event.  I was told that I would need to be in Car Two but I would probably have to transfer to the train seat as there was no where on the train to park my chair.  And there was a chance my chair would be too wide to even fit on the train for me to transfer from. 
Jeremy called and spoke with the Tennessee Rail Road Museum Friday evening before we went just to make sure we wouldn't have any issues.  He was told again that I would have to ride Car Two.  No problem.  We could make this work.
Once we arrived at the Tennessee Rail Road Museum everyone was so helpful.  The volunteers in the parking lot directed me to an upfront spot and even placed cones along the passenger side of my van so that I would not have to worry about anyone parking next to me and keeping me from being able to deploy my ramp. 
We quickly made our way to the boarding area in case there were any issues that needed to be worked out.  Jeremy and I explained our situation and relayed the info we were previously told.  All three men shock their heads and said Car Two will not work for you.  There is no where to park your chair and they didn't even think the doorway would be wide enough. 
In a split second, I started to get worked up.  This was going to be another activity that I had to watch Annabelle do with her Daddy from the sidelines. I know it is going to happen more frequently than I would like.  I was just very disappointed because we were lead to believe I could experience this with my daughter. 
Before I could get too worked up, Mr. Gordan had a solution and it was even better than Car Two.  He was going to push the train up so that I could ride on Car Five and stay in my wheelchair.  This was PERFECT!! 
I didn't really understand what it all meant until we got the depot.  You see when unloading the train, Car Two stops at the ramp and the rest of the cars unload using steps.  It was going to take some extra time but it was going to work....all thanks to the kindness of a stranger.  After everyone was unloaded, the train moved up to where Car Five was at the ramp.  Jeremy, Annabelle and I were able to board the train as a family.  Plus we got the train all to ourselves for a few minutes. 

I am sure the individuals at the Tennessee Rail Road Museum have no clue what a positive impression they have left on me.  Thanks to them being willing to think outside the box, I was able to be included in an entire day of fun with my family. 

The next time you see a stranger in need, I challenge you to help in anyway that you can.  It could be as simple as opening the door or as grand as thinking outside the box to help someone experience riding Thomas the Train with their child. 

You will never truly realize just how much these gestures of kindness mean to a stranger in need.