Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Subtle Shifts

This post is sponsored by Top50. Thanks for supporting sponsors here on TLM and please keep in mind that all opinions are my own. On my final countdown to 40 I have been doing a series of posts focused on health and fitness. This is not about weight loss or achieving a "bikini body." After spending a year and a half with debilitating back pain and recently returning to pain-free living I have a new found love for my body and feel grateful for all it allows me to do. I had a goal to do 10 pull-ups by my 40th birthday. Thanks for following along! You can see my related posts here: 10 tips for Working Out at HomeFavorite Work Out Songs, Protein + Pull-Ups, and How to do a Pull-Up when you're Almost 40

Even though I'm not big on New Year's Resolutions, over the years I've definitely gotten caught up in the idea. Sometimes I do just the one word goal, sometimes I just think in my mind what I want to happen in the upcoming year, but without fail I always think about something in terms of my body and what I want it to look like. I feel the guilt-induced drive to work out more and eat less with the constant desire to be skinnier than I am, no matter my current weight. I'm not proud of that, but it is the result of some life-long body shaming programming that will most likely always linger. 

However, this past January 1st I had a moment of awareness. This little tap of enlightenment knocking at my brain that said, Hey, do you realize that for the first time--maybe ever--you didn't think about your body and how to make it work out harder, better? There was no internal berating of my psyche that if I only did A, B and C I might finally look (and then feel) like X, Y and Z.

Here's the thing: I work out. I work out almost every day. 

So perhaps you're thinking, I'm sorry that wasn't enlightenment crazy lady. It's just that you already work out obsessively. That's called denial.  
While it's true that I probably work out more consistently than I ever have before, it's the why that's important here. The why's in life are always important. 

I'm working out not as a punishment for what I ate or what I look like, but because I geuninely want to. My body craves a good workout as much as it craves a good bowl of ice cream. I work out because I appreciate my body. I like how working out makes me feel. I like being stronger. I'm working out at my pace. I do whatever my body wants to do that day. Some days I want to challenge myself and do something really hard so I do it. Other days I want to take it easy, so I do that instead.  And on the days I don't feel like doing anything at all, I don't. 

I cannot stand here and promise you that there is absolutely no desire for my body to look physically different. I definitely still fight that. I probably always will. But there is a difference mentally. It may be a subtle shift, but it's there. And it is enough. 
Small and subtle shifts in areas of health can have a big impact. This past year my goal was to do 10  pull-ups by my 40th birthday. Really, I just wanted to be stronger. I approached this goal from a very common sense point of view. I didn't read any books, I didn't follow a specific fitness routine or diet, I just decided to increase my strength training and protein, and decrease my sugar intake. Along the way I discovered that I like moving and applying stress to my body and watching it respond. If you're looking to make some small and sublte shifts in terms of fitness here are some tips:

1. Do what you feel like doing that day.
When it comes to working out I have finally given myself permission to do whatever I feel like doing that day. If I want something more mellow I do yoga, or I go on a walk. If I feel like challenging myself I do a harder work out video like Jillian Michaels or circuit training or weightlifting. I like working out, I like seeing if my body can do hard things. But I don't like feeling forced to do it or like I have to do it to be acceptable to myself or anyone else. So letting myself choose how and what kind of movement I want to feel each day--or if I even want to do it at all--makes a big difference. Also, I focus on gratitude for my body. 

2. Find ways to cut excess sugar out of your diet.
One of the reasons I was so excited to work with Trop50 juice beverage is that we don't often buy juice around here because of the excess sugar. Not just as it relates to waistlines, but my husband is a dentist and he sees way too many people who drink way too much sugar. The great thing about Trop50 is that it tastes great with 50% less calories and sugar. Each glass provides 100% of your vitamin C and it's also a good source of potassium and NO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS. Which is super important to me that when cutting sugar, fake sugar isn't added in. And it tastes really great! We all love it. In general being mindful of our sugar intake is becoming increasingly more important. 

3. Add extra protein
A protein shake after a hard work out, scrambled egg whites for brakfast and swapping out nuts and beef jerky instead of ice cream or cookies for a treat are some of the ways I've tried to add more protein. Eating lean meats and legumes wasn't ever a problem for me, so it was about finding ways to add a little more. Again, I'm not a nutritionist and I didn't want to completely eliminate all treats and snacks from my diet, I just wanted to try and do a little better. And I am. 

So the big question, can I do 10 pull-ups yet? 
No. My record is still 4 but I'm going to keep going.
I genuinely feel happy with the progress I've made.
And I'm genuinely happy, that I'm genuinely happy about that. 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Spotlight Revisted || Charlie + Ingrid

Hey guys, Miggy here. When I don't have a new spotlight for you I like to post one from the archives. (Although I do have some fabulous spotlights in the works so stay tuned.) This is one of those spotlights that has stayed with me over the years and I think you'll understand why. It was originally published in July of 2014.  You'll probably want to have some tissues handy. XO Migs

Hi there, my name is Trisha, I live in charming St. Paul, Minnesota. I’ve been happily married to Kent for 9 years now, and humorously parenting Ingrid and Charlie for almost six years. My children came into the world unexpectedly early, and my sweet Ingrid left this world unexpectedly early a little over a year ago. The gift of their challenging lives has pushed us to see that the greatest gift the world can give you is the life you didn’t expect.

Miggy: Hello Trisha. Thank you so much for participating in our spotlight today. I appreciate so much your willingness to share your beautiful family and story with us. You had twins born as micro-preemies, can you take us back to the day they were born? Was everything a complete surprise or was there some preparation for what you were about to experience? And what did you experience? Do you remember how you felt? Can you compare those first thoughts and feelings with how you feel now?

Trisha: I was teaching kindergarten at the time the kids were born. We had some issues getting pregnant, but after one round of IUI, we found ourselves preggers with twins. I had a totally boring and normal pregnancy, so when I went into labor during my students rest time at 24 weeks gestation, no one was more surprised than me. My husband met me at home and we drove 5 miles to the hospital, where the babies were delivered within the hour. I remember waking up from surgery and asking if I was still pregnant, I remember how pale and relieved Kent looked when he saw me, he was not allowed in the room during the c-section, which we later realized was because my health was very compromised. I had a placental abruption, more common earlier in pregnancy, but happens often in pregnancy in multiples. Ingrid and Charlie weighed just over a 1 pound each. I remember the first days well, but remember the rest of their 4 month stay in feelings; hope, desperation, fear, anger, calm, rage, contentment. I did not return to work, I lived at the hospital, kent would come everyday on his lunch break. I never counted the number of surgeries while in the NICU, but I know it was over 10. Nicu doctors say the babies will tell you what they are capable of; and every time one of the kids came back from surgery and kept trucking, we hopped on for the ride. Having micro-preemies forces you to face your child’s mortality in very concrete ways. Everything that happens those first months is life-saving, and then transitions to quality of life saving. I sat next to my 1 pound babies and thought about their funerals if they were not able to make it. It felt beyond sad, but shockingly normal in the NICU. When Ingrid passed last year it was a complete shock. In my heart I’ve always known that it was very possible that I would be faced with losing them, but I choose to think that I honor her by listening to her and respecting that she was ready to be done with what prematurity was asking of her body and spirit.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

40th Birthday Surprises

I hadn't planned on saying anything else about my 40th birthday, but I also hadn't planned on having the surprise of my life either.

If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen this video I posted late Thursday evening. The video shows my husband recording me and telling me to turn off the TV. I have no idea why until about 5 seconds later when 3 of my BFF's--who live far, far away--burst out into song while I flip out and scream off camera. These ladies came from Texas and Utah to surprise me on my 40th birthday and if you can't tell by the video I was a wee bit stunned and delighted.

This here is my crew, my squad, my tribe and my people. I only knew them for a year and a half in San Antonio before we moved away, but you could say we clicked. Individually and collectively, we click. And if the above photo is any sort of prediction for the future and we end up living out our old lady years sharing a condo in south Florida, eating pie at midnight and talking about the good old days, that's all right by me.

Let me tell you what's it's like having 3 of your best friends come out for a suprise birthday weekend. It is comfort food, but in friendship form. It is familiar and nourishing. It is laughing until you cry.  It is putting on a crazy red dress and a hilarious wig and belting out Dolly Parton within an hour of their arrival because these are the people who allow you to be you and girlfriend you've been holding it in for just a little too long.
It is staying up way too late every single night because you don't want to miss a thing. It is talking about any and everything and feeling the freedom of being honest yet kind, candid yet thoughtful and knowing what you say will be taken in the best way possible.

It is LOVE. And love is showing up.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Design*Sponge Feature

If you're visiting here from Design*Sponge for the first time welcome! The first thing you should proabably know is that Lamp is not my daughter's real name. Phew! right? You can read more about her under Lamp Links and more about our journey here. I would also like to direct you to my Special Needs Spotlight series and all the amazing families who have shared their stories here. Enjoy! 

So excited and honored to be featured over at Design*Sponge today showcasing our bathroom renovation. It's funny, but when I did the final bathroom reveal on my blog I didn't even talk about accessibility. As I was writing it up I didn't think of it until the very end and the post was already so long, so I just didn't worry about it.

But make no mistake, the bathroom was renovated with accessibility in mind for Lamp in nearly every decision. From where the faucets should be placed, to mirror type and height, and certainly with bigger decisions like having a zero entry shower, a wider wheelchair accessible doorway and a vanity that she could still sit on to wash her feet and brush her teeth. The great thing about making our bathroom accessible is that it doesn't take away any of the functionality for the rest of us. That's a win/win! And I love that an accessible bathroom doesn't have to look like an accessible bathroom. One of my biggest gripes with the accessibility world is the lack of good design. (Although as I mention in my piece, not every single aspect would be considered accessible for every wheelchair user...we did make it specific to our daughter and her needs.)
I'm so grateful to Design*Sponge for reaching out to me as it was a conscious decision on their part to be more inclusive of special needs families. Really, really love seeing the definition of equality and inclusion expanding to include all of us amazing and diverse special needs peeps. :)


Friday, January 06, 2017

This is 40

Photos taken by my oldest daughter this past October when we went apple picking. 




Balls... I feel like I'm supposed to say something profound and I'm not sure I have anything great to offer the world on this, the day of my 40th birthday. But if push comes to shove--and in this case shoving me over that great, big significant hill of a birthday--here's are some thoughts about this thing called life and what I've learned so far.

The older I get, the less I know.
Trippy. I would not have guessed this, but it feels the most true.

The life I've lead all feels very normal and typical to me, yet if I zoom out in my mind and see the world as a whole there is no such thing as normal or typical. My inner Feminist arrived without warning this year (late bloomer) and I have been rather preoccupied with what it means to be a woman in this world and what it means to be the mother of girls/future women. Growing up as a white woman in America in the 21st century is quite the earthly privilege. Even with all the imbalance, injustice, violence and  misogyny I can't deny that the good fortune of being a woman here and now. Which in no way means that we should just shut up and be grateful because "it could always be worse." I'm just saying... for the most part I live in very fortunate circumstances.

But as I've said this "normal" and "typical" feeling isn't that normal or typical. The more I learn about the world, the more I see different perspectives and a different ways of being, the less I am able to judge. Our lives, and even our beings, are these crazy tangles of inborn traits, circumstances, decisions, and luck (good and bad).

In short, my perspective is minuscule. My experience, just as tiny. But my compassion and desire to be less judgmental are bigger than ever. Because I don't know jack.

Life is usually not either/or, more often than not it's and/both.
One of the more uncomfortable aspects of life for me has been learning to try and hold two opposing views at the same time and acknowledge them both as true. It would be so much easier if everything was an either/or.

True or false.
Happy or sad.
Beautiful or ugly.
Good or bad.

But more often than not I see and experience true and false.
Happy and sad.
Beautiful and ugly.
Good and bad.

Even, Republican and Democrat.
Believer and doubter.
Conformer and rebel.

Be true
I don't always know if I'm doing the right thing, but I strive very hard to do the true thing. As in, being true to myself, my family, my kids, my God. I check in with my heart more often (and God--that's key) to see what my intentions are. If my intentions are good and I'm doing the best I can with the information I have, I move forward. Of course being true to yourself and having good intentions don't always justify actions (I think we all know this), but often these two things are the very best we have to offer, and therefore an excellent foundation from which to make important, even difficult decisions.

There are infinite ways to be good and to have a good life. 
When I was in undergrad at BYU working on my final show (fine art, painting major here) I remember doing this one painting that was not working at all. It was going really, really badly. So I took some turpentine to my canvas and erased what I had. It didn't come off entirely and small traces of that awful painting remained. But as I moved forward, the final painting came together quickly and easily. And the "remnants" from the awful painting were a critical part in making the painting work this time. In fact, the painting was only good in large part because of the remnants of the "awful painting." The mistakes were what made it work.

At that point in my life and in my religion, I had come to believe that mistakes were never a good thing. Sure God tolerated them, but isn't it always be best if we never make mistakes in the first place? No. I don't believe that anymore. I mean I definitely believe that with certain mistakes--you know, murder and stuff--but this idea that mistakes aren't part of the overall picture is wrong and even problematic. 

I remember learning in my art program how and when to spot problem areas in my work. But fixing them seemed to present an even bigger problem. "OK, I see where I went wrong, but how do I make it right?" And it seemed to me at that time that there were more way to go wrong than there were to go right. Which is how I viewed life as well... it seemed to me that there were a infinite ways to screw up in life (drugs, premarital sex, alcohol, lying, laziness) and only a very small, narrow road to being good: go to seminary, go to a church school, get married, have children, have a great marriage, raise good children in Gospel-centered home. I HAD to do all these things, in this order, to have a good life and to be a good person. 

In a sense, I thought there was more variety in "badness" than in "goodness." 

Oh how very wrong I was. There are infinite ways to go right in this world and there is infinite variety in goodness. This may sound like a crazy correlation, but just look at the millions of flowers, plants and animal species there are on the earth. I mean it's crazy how many ways there are to go RIGHT in this world. There is not one small way for your life to be good, happy, fulfilling, or right.

For my painting, it wasn't about choosing the right direction, because there were literally thousands of directions I could go that would have worked for this painting. Instead of sitting and fretting and wondering if what I was doing was "right" I just needed to make a decision and move forward with that decision and trust the process. Likewise, in life I often find myself hemming and hawing and wondering "Am I doing the right thing? What is the right decision?" But usually I find that there is no one right way, but rather I should move forward and trust that God can work with me--mistakes and all--to make it right. 

Well that's it. 
That's all I have to offer you after 40 years of this earthly sojourn. 

In the immortal words of Aaron Neville, 

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Top 5 Christmas Moments + Memories 2016

We're still in the middle of our holiday break over here and I'm loving every lazy minute of it! I thought I'd share a quick Christmas recap in the form of a top 5 list with pictures galore... because Top 5 lists are awesome. Everyone knows that. 

1. Creating and Making
If you're a maker the Holidays are your jam. From making presents to ornaments to cookies to wrapping paper to tablescapes and decor, to memories... the creating is endless during the holidays and I love it all. I try to do it in a stress free way though with low expectations because it's far too easy for me to slip into perfectionist mode where I get overwhelmed by just the idea of doing something that I talk myself out of it before it begins. For example, it had been years since we had decorated sugar cookies and I invited some friends come and decorate with us on a whim. Other than snowflakes I don't even have Christmas cookie cutters. But my friend did and everything turned great! I made the dough the night before, us moms rolled it out and baked them then everyone decorated. The stress comes from when I over think it and feel like I need to research for hours to find the perfect cookie and frosting/icing recipe or make a special trip to the store for special sprinkles, food dye or piping bags...we just used what we had on hand and everyone had a good time.

The wrapping paper was another spur-of-the-moment thing I did with Zuzu one morning... we laid out a sheet of kraft paper, grabbed some red and white paint and got to work. I will say one way to keep things low-stress is to have supplies on hand for making... a giant roll of kraft paper is always a good thing to have on hand. (Also, it wouldn't hurt to replenish my sprinkle/cookie supply for the next time I want to have a spur-of-the-moment cookie party.)
I'm still getting the hang of what I like my Christmas decor to look like as well. I love buying a bunch of eucalyptus, and garland and seeing what I come up with each year...this year I also did a quick winter mural on our grey accent wall. Guess what? You don't need "chalkboard" paint to use chalk on your wall... we're all suckers! Every year I get a little better at creating a cozy Christmas home and I love it so much. Afterall, the most important thing you make are the memories. 
(made these ornaments with the girls this year and totes forgot to post the tutorial... real life win, blogging fail.)

2. A Small Act of Service (no photos for this one)
At the beginning of December our family assembled kits for the homeless. Kits included a bottle of water, granola bar, chips, toothbrush, toothpaste, other snacks, hand warmers and a few other items I'm forgetting. We put one of each item into large zip lock baggies. One night it was just the girls and I and we drove around on the first really cold night here in town giving out kits to people we saw begging downtown. We had extra hand warmers and gave those out as well. After we made our Christmas cookies we drove around as a family, this time with small plates of cookies in addition to our homeless kits and once again handed them out.

These kind of things always feel a little sticky to me, especially writing about it. Service is great, but I know there is so much need on a year-round basis and a lot of people--like us--like to do "service projects" at Christmas time in an effort to show our kids the "true meaning of Christmas." And sometimes it feels like a teeny-tiny act of service where we give ourselves a giant pat on the back, call ourselves good and get on with life. Should I make an effort to do more service year round? Yes. And I do. Just not usually this kind of service.

Regardless I'm still glad we took the time to do this. Every single person we handed kits out to was grateful. We explained to the kids that we weren't doing anything life changing and handing out these kits didn't make us heros, but it was still a good thing to do. I hope the people we handed our cookies and hard warmers to felt lifted by the fact the a family was out there thinking of them and trying to brighten their day just a little--looking them in the eye, talking to them face-to-face and offering just a little something to help. I hope my girls felt not just gratitue for all that we have, but also a  stronger connection to humanity and our responsibility to look out for each other.  We've decided to try and keep these kits in our car throughout the year so we always have something on hand to give to others.

3. Zuzu's birthday and the Bouncy Castle
Since this litltle one's birthday is just 2 days before Christmas it's hard not to get it pulled into the festivities just a bit. It was such a sweet birthday--tender and achy for this mama watching her baby growing up, but so fun to celebrate our little caboose at the same time. She still has a fierce love for all things Mickey and loved her Mickey Cake, and her Mickey shoes. Now lets talk about that bouncy castle...
A couple days before her birthday I asked people on my Instagram stories about this bouncy castle I had purchased on sale at Target. I was super hesitant to get her something so BIG, but at the same time we try to spoil our kids on their birthday (a day that is all about them) as opposed to Christmas (a day that is not all about them... this is still a work in progress). I was really planning on taking it back, but so many people told me about how much they loved their bounce houses and what a great thing it has been and let me just say AMEN. Hallelujah. I freaking love this rainbow colored suburban monstrousity. Everyone loves this thing. We keep it in the unfinished basement and if you have the space for one of these bad boys I highly recommend it. We're just a little over a week in and it has already paid for itself in whine-free hours of active play. Yes, active indoor play. (It can be used outdoors as well.) This particular castle has a ball pit attached to the side (super small, but it works) and again the kids love it. No regrets on this baby and for once I can honestly say I'm glad I listened to the Internet. Thanks to everyone who chimed in.

4. Family Coziness and Togetherness Time
Zoo lights, Christmas tree shopping, fires in the fireplace, making stuff together, class parties and for the first time the girls watched It's a Wonderful Life with us. While they were a little bummed the movie was black and white, they really liked it which is a huge mom win. Holiday togetherness is a mixed bag of lazy, home body type stuff with outings and gatherings as well. A little bit of everything is my favorite. The biggest thing missing was snow. For our 3rd year in a row no white Christmas... it all feels a little more cozy when there's snow outside.

5. Christmas Eve + Christmas Morning
Is there anything better? I can't say we knocked it out of the park (we forgot to put cookies out the night before and told the kids "Look! Santa must have taken a bite!" and pointed to a random half-eaten cookie on the counter) but they don't really care. And I really don't care. Sitting around the table as a family eating a lovely meal by candlelight, waking up to a home full of presents and paper and squeals of delight, and living in the very heart of life and love and feeling it all right now.  That is the tender, meaty part of life and I'll suck the marrow out of that bone all day long.

Christmas 2016 was good, good stuff.
So much to be grateful for, but most of all my people.
And also the bouncy castle.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Back To the Future

As I sat watching Lamp and her new piano teacher sitting together at the piano during her first lesson, pecking out a simple mary-had-a-little-lamb melody, my head returned to an old, familiar thought pattern, "What are we doing? Are we crazy for starting Lamp on the piano? Is this really going to work?" That kind of doubt is a familiar place to be when you've lived your life as an able-bodied person who has always believed that you need certain things to accomplish certain tasks. You know like, hands to play the piano.

But this is not just about seeing my daughter's potential, it's a paradigm shift of larger proportions. It's Marty McFly and Doc Brown in Back to the Future. In the final scene of Back to the Future (the first one obvs) Marty says, "Hey doc, we better back up, we don't have enough road to get up to 88." It's not that Marty doesn't have faith in his good friend Doc Brown, it's just that in his experience this isn't going to work. He doesn't know what Doc knows yet. Marty has only been in the present and in the past. But Doc... Doc has been to the future. And the future that Doc knows is quite a bit different than the past Marty is familiar with. With the confidence of someone who knows what he's talking about Doc delivers his famous line,

"Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads."

I look around the piano teacher's home... two of her daughters had come out to watch Lamp's first lesson. In most situations this would have felt voyeuristic and I would have been annoyed at kids starting at "the kid with limb differences playing the piano." But not in this home. One daughter came out in her wheelchair (who also happens to have a very sassy, Lamp-like demeanor--I freaking love it) and the other daughter has significant limb differences as well. Both of these girls play instruments, just like their other sister with limb differences and just like both of their able-bodied brothers. If Lamp was going to learn to play the piano we were certainly in the right house, with the right piano teacher and I'll be damned if the Universe itself didn't arrange this little rendezvous.

Which begs the question... how did the Universe arrange this little rendezvous?

Over a year and a half ago we attended a fundraiser for the local non-proft May We Help. They are the blessed angles who built Lamp's smaller powerchair that she uses around our house all day, errry day. (The life-changer as we call it.) At the fundraiser a mother, we'll call her Mom A, spoke about her children with  disabilities, including limb differences, and how as a music major she wanted to help her children play instruments and with the assistance of May We Help, she has figured out a way to help her children problem solve their way to not just being proficient musicians, but good musicians.

See, ability and talent are often at the mercy of opportunity and tools. Years ago I used to spoon feed Lamp her cereal every morning. It wasn't a big deal, just something we did. One day her dad surprised us with a special spoon he had designed and made for Lamp. Within minutes she had figured out how to use the spoon and within one day she was eating on her own and never needed to be spoon fed again. It was an amazing and life-changing invention. I clearly remember being struck with the thought, "She had the ability all along... she just needed the right tool." Huh.

And so it was with Mom A and her disabled children... they just needed the right tools. With May We Help she was able to get them the right tools to be successful musicians. She partnered with another mother, who we'll call Mom B, who was also a musician and who also has disabled children to create a music camp for kids with disabilities to help them problem solve their way to musical success as well.

So I'm at this fundraiser listening to these moms and seeing their children talk about their instruments and of course I have to go meet them. As I wait in line to introduce myself to Mom B I start chatting with a couple of her daughters, just chatting and asking random questions. We eventually ask them where they live. We assume they live in a different city but then she says the name of our neighborhood.

Wait, what? Where do you live? You live in (insert name of our town and neighborhood)? Yep.

Of all the gin joints...
As it turns out, this family lives less than 5 minutes from our house. They are in our same school district. Apparently we have them to thank for the ramp in Lamp's elementary school as it was built just a few years prior for their daughter. Oh and Mom B? She teaches piano lessons. Yes the mom who helps run a music camp for disabled kids, who has a 3 disabled children herself who all play an instruments and yes the very same mom who lives not more than 5 minutes from us.

Lamp had already expressed interest in taking piano lessons. Her grandma had taught her some easy melodies that she could successfully play. But I was reluctant. Of course people with disabilities play instruments, I knew this. But how would I find a teacher who would be willing to work with her? And what if she couldn't do it very well and it was more defeating than empowering? And what if, what if, what if? 
Naturally the Universe heard all this "what if" nonsense and was like, Heavens to Betsy do I have to do EVERYTHING? And promptly placed us at this event together. There we had it, the right piano teacher for the right kid. We waited a year or so to actually jump into the lessons for logistical reasons, but had gone over to their house to hang out and meet everyone sometime last year. As we left their house on the first meeting PSP said to me, "Hey mom I saw a book at their house that we used to have."

Oh yeah? What book?

"It was a book about a little girl with one arm..."

This was a book I was given when Lamp was about 8 months old and we were making her first prosthetic. Our prosthetist at the time said, "Lamp reminds me of another little girl I see here in town. Her lower limbs are almost identical. She's adopted and her mom wrote a book about her... I thought you might enjoy reading it." And she handed me the book.

I quickly texted Mom B and said, "Did you write a book a while ago?"


"This is so crazy, but when Lamp was just 8 months old the prosthetist gave me a copy of your book! I can't believe this! What a crazy coincidence!"

And then the Universe did a palm-to-the-forehead slap and was like Coincidence? You think this was all coincidence? Amateurs!

Is Lamp going to be a concert pianist? Probably not. (Is your kid?) But I think she'll do well. She loves practicing everyday (so far) and has even made a 100 day practice chart like her big sister. Already her toe control is getting better.

Of course this goes beyond piano. Shortly before Thanksgiving Lamp entered a piece of writing to the PTA Reflections contest. A piece she wrote all by herself. She wrote it with her own feet and with her own words. When she finished she said, "Mom I could really win this!" Well she did. First place in writing. For her entire school. Her dad and I cried.

Historically the disabled have been seen mainly for their limitations, the things they can't do. Most of these limitations have not been self imposed, unfortunately they've been placed on them by society. We've institutionalized them, we've shunned them, we've exploited them, we've even killed them. Time and time and time again we underestimate them.

The tide is changing. Slowly. Ever so slowly. We can look back at the people who have helped shape our ideas of what disability means; Hellen Keller, Eunice Kennedy ShriverNick VujicicJessica Cox, and on and on. Where once we used to put people away in institutions, we are now sending them to institutions of higher learning. And where we once thought a physical disability meant a person couldn't achieve as much as an able-bodied person, we now see Paralympic athletes break regular Olympic records.

As an able-bodied person I still have my prejudices. I have to push through my hesitations that are so firmly rooted in our collective able-bodied thinking. But push-through I must because we can't live in the past. We've got to head straight for the future baby! We've also got to create and shape that future. A future that welcomes, invites, and listens. A future that says yes to opportunity, yes to problem solving and yes to expanding our idea of what it means to be a human in this world.

So as I stood there watching my daughter who was born without hands and her new piano teacher discussing different strategies, I pushed through that hesitation and those feelings of fear. I pushed through the past and what I used to think my daughter's life would look like to the present and the future and the opportunities that await.

And I thought to myself, "Hands? Where we're going we don't need hands."