Friday, January 29, 2010

Caught My Eye

Here are a few news stories that caught my eye this week - each for a different reason.


As I have traveled the world of adoption over the years, I have learned of many children who suffer from Shaken Baby Syndrome. The outlook for most is not good. But this story highlights a young woman with drive and determination to rise above her past.

But even more inspiring than this young woman's story is a comment in the article from one of her 13 year old friends - "Don't judge her just because she is blind," Da'Jahnea said. "Don't underestimate people because they have disabilities."

Blind cheerleader teaches team invaluable lessons on perseverance


It seems that natural disasters are happening more and more often. This is a website created in Texas to alert people who are deaf, blind, and deafblind about emergency preparedness. It is an extraordinary example that other states and the Federal government should follow:

Accessible Emergency Information


Stephyn Duck decided to experience life as both deaf and blind. Duck, 20, a junior psychology major at Wofford College, decided to deprive himself of two of his senses as part of an interim project. He's hoping to gather data on whether his other senses will improve while he's unable to see and hear, but he's most interested in how he's treated.

Setting aside the fact that being deaf, blind or deafblind from birth is completely different than being one of those things after gaining many years of visual and auditory experiences, did this experiment really serve a valuable purpose?

I wrote a post in 2008 about the use of simulations, and something still makes me quite uncomfortable. So for me, the jury is still out on whether or not this was a positive experiment.

For Wofford student, not seeing is believing

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Am The Mother

If you are fresh out of college with a degree in education, social work, medicine or something similar, please do not pretend to understand my child’s needs better than I understand them.

If you have been a practicing professional for many years, and your practice has included children with special needs, I am interested in your advice and opinions. However, the ultimate decision on how to raise my child rests with me.

Just because you have a cousin who has a child with Autism, you do not know what is best for my child with Autism.

If you have raised no children of your own, don’t act like you know how to raise mine.

Unless you plan to support my child as an adult, you have no say in the choices my child and I make concerning his/her future.

It’s kind of you to try to understand the worry, the guilt, and the all consuming love I have for my child with significant special needs, but you really and truly cannot understand. Please do not judge me based on your limited understanding.

Just walk beside me – hold my hand when I need to feel someone’s touch – hug me when I am down – cry with me when I am overwhelmed with worry.

Don’t lecture – don’t judge – don’t pretend.

Rejoice with me in my child’s every accomplishment, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you.

Respect the choices and the decisions I make. Respect me. Respect my child.

I promise I will do no less for you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday

This is not a picture that I took, but it's a picture I hope to be able to take many, many times in the future.

I told you last week about a young man, pictured below, I hoped to adopt, and I wrote about the major obstacles we are facing in trying to pull off that adoption. Nothing is resolved, but we are moving towards resolution. So, things are looking a little more hopeful at the moment. In fact, I will meet Johnny next week, and that is something I would not do if I didn't have faith that things will work out.

Please keep your prayers and positive thoughts coming!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sight Unseen

How can you use a camera if you can't see? Over 30 blind and visually impaired adults from the UK, Mexico and China have been trained in sensory photography techniques to create and experience photos.

Check out this audio slideshow that explains the process and the beautiful results:

Sensory Photography

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Beautiful and Rare Bloom

It is so fascinating to watch my children grow and mature. I can almost see the adults they will soon become just by really observing and listening to them. Their personalities are solidifying – their likes and dislikes are gradually changing – they are forming opinions of their own and sticking to them regardless of peer influence. I know this may sound trite, but they are like beautiful and rare flowers just waiting to bloom.

Ashley especially has changed over the last couple of years. The physical changes are obvious – she longer has the look of a child. Rather, she has the high cheekbones and beautiful composed smile of a young adult. She has become more caring, more gentle with others and with herself. I watch her worry over things that a few years ago would have escaped even her notice. And for a child with deafblindness, all this is even more amazing.

She is more in tune with her world now. Gentle, soft touches to get her attention have replaced the stronger, more insistent physicality she required as a child. Even though her vision is limited to about 1-2 inches from her one good eye, she has turned into an insightful reader of faces and emotions. She can sense more easily the things that go on around her, including other people’s stress, fear, anger, or joy.

Perhaps that is one of the gifts of her deafblindness. I have always doubted the statement that if a person loses one sense (e.g. sight), the other senses compensate and get better. So I don’t think that is what is going on with Ashley. I believe she is just maturing into an exceptional person regardless of her disabilities.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Johnny Needs Us

I met with Social Services today about a young man I would like to have join our family. John (not his real name) is 15 years old, totally deaf and has spina bifida. He has a background that includes abuse and neglect, and he has not always had the sign language support that he needs.

Because we are a signing family, it seems to be a match made in heaven. Social Services believes our family would be a good placement. I believe it would be a good placement, and that we have a lot to offer John both now and for the future. But there are two large obstacles to making it a reality.

Obstacle one is that our bathroom is not set up to accommodate his wheelchair. Although we had a bathroom remodel done about a year and a half ago, and many accessibility features were put in place, those features were specifically designed to meet Ashley’s needs. Because the remodel was the result of a lawsuit against my state’s Medicaid office, we had to confine the changes to the specific features Ashley would need to practice and complete her ADLs (Activities of Daily Living). Wide doorways were not a part of that remodel.

So, the bathroom needs further tweaking, and some of the tweaking is pretty major construction. Social Services has tentatively agreed to fund those changes which is a good thing. If that tentative agreement becomes concrete, obstacle one will be removed.

The second, and even bigger, obstacle is that I need a wheelchair accessible vehicle, but I have a four door family sedan. When my older van was gasping its last breaths last summer, I held off as long as I could, hoping to find a child and know specifically what kind of vehicle I would need. But, when no child was identified at that time, I chose a vehicle based on cost and suiting the needs of my family at that time. So changing vehicles at this point in time is not an option for me.

Social Services has said they absolutely cannot provide a wheelchair van, and I understand that. But it’s a real shame that John may miss out on finding the perfect (OK , that’s my opinion) family. Social Services is going to explore finding a charitable organization that might be willing to donate a van, but I feel like that is a long shot.

Please keep John and our family in your thoughts and prayers, and let’s all hope for a positive outcome to this situation. I have a bedroom all ready for him, and my children and I have our hearts and arms open just waiting to welcome him home.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Easier Because of You

I’m a glass half full person, but that has not always been the case. I mentioned a while back on my blog that I used to be a police officer. For 5 years I worked in the worst areas of my city and witnessed things no one should see. One of the many things that broke my heart were the children that had been abused by their parents. But that was just one of the many horrors that I saw every week as an officer.

Living that day in and day out began to turn me into a very cynical person, and I really did not like the person I was becoming. It was that reason I decided police work was not for me. And ever since then I have made the commitment to myself to have a more positive outlook on life.

It’s not always easy. I am not a Pollyana/Stepford person who turns a blind eye to the suffering in the world, the negative situations that all of us face at times. Stories of child or elder abuse still disgust me – natural disasters and the effects they have on hundreds of thousands of people make me want to jump a plane to go help - news of the poor economy worries me greatly – and the increasing violence in the world scares me more than I can say.

But with maturity I have learned to balance the bad news with the good that exists in the world. And while I don’t ignore that which is negative, I have made a conscious decision to live and project a more positive life. To accomplish that, often I must distance myself from people who have chosen a more negative approach to life.

I continue to surround myself with other glass half full people, people whose approach to life mirrors mine. I had a difficult time finding people like that until I became the parent of a child with a disability.

With a very few exceptions, I have found that parents of children with disabilities approach life with smiles not frowns. These are people who have every right to be negative, but they too have chosen to walk a positive path. I don’t know why this seems to be true. Maybe we feel we need to be positive to balance all the negative comments and low expectations we fear our children will face. Or maybe we realize that we can’t navigate this world of disability alone and we choose community over isolation. Whatever the reason, I want you all to know that you lift me up – you provide the inspiration I need to continue when life gets difficult – you link your arms in mine when I stand on the cliff of despair.

So thank you Lynnette, Jane, Jackie, Bradford, Heike, Emily, Carl and Elaine. Thank you Mommy Dearest, Attila, Marla, Mama Edge, Corrie, and Azaera. Thank you Mike and Dawn, Terri, MMC and Terena. Thank you Queenbuv3, and thank you everyone that I missed.

You make being a glass half full person much much easier!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday

In these horrible economic times, let's really hope that school budgets are not cut drastically. If they are, I GUARANTEE we will see more things like this sign I saw in one of our local malls last weekend...

Be sure to visit 5 Minutes For Special Needs to see more Special Exposure Wednesday shots!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Finding My Voice

Growing up, I was labeled a shy child. As a young adult, I usually let everyone else do the talking, and I was always uncomfortable in social situations. When I moved into the business world, the thought of having to speak in front of a group of people could make me physically sick.

The fact that I am no longer like that I owe completely to Ashley.

I knew before I ever brought Ashley home that I would have to be her ‘voice’. I would have to learn to speak in front of groups of people, often hostile groups. I would have to learn to stand up to doctors and therapists and sometimes question their decisions. I would have to learn to seek out what she needed and then be bold in getting those things. I would have to become her lifetime advocate.

Unlike when I was forced to speak in front of a group of people in my business community, I had no time to think and worry about my speech. I had no time for the jitters to take hold. Rather, Ashley needed my voice, my advocacy, and hesitating would not get her what she needed.

I was immediately thrown into fighting my local hospital when they chose to treat her like a ‘Medicaid’ baby and deny her and me the same considerations someone with expensive insurance would receive.

Less than 6 months about bringing her home, I had to begin my battle with our school district, fighting from the time Ashley was two years old and continuing even today to get her the appropriate school services. That battle took me to speaking before the school board, arguing in IEP meetings, trying to mediate our disagreements, and finally to Federal Court several times.

I’ve fought our state’s Medicaid system to provide for Ashley’s unique needs – a personal care aide who knows sign language and needs to be paid for that skill; a bathroom that was accessible and conducive to developing her self-sufficiency; and ongoing medical supplies when they wished to place limits.

I’ve stood before our state’s General Assembly, and in front of them and a few hundred other people in attendance, have told Ashley’s story. I’ve learned to lobby for people with disabilities and how to fight when their rights are ignored or violated.

In short, knowing that I need to be Ashley’s voice has helped me find my own voice. I can’t say that the jitters are gone completely, but I can say that I am no longer labeled shy, and I can say that I believe I am making a difference both for Ashley and for others.

Monday, January 18, 2010

You Know Who You Are

I know you don’t understand the choices I make. You can’t imagine why I would want to get up at 4:30am each morning, make multiple breakfasts, get kids dressed, make beds, do one load of laundry, administer LOTS of meds, and get Ashley on the school bus…all before 7am.

You can’t put yourself in my place and feel the joy I do each morning when Ashley wakes up,smiles that dazzling smile of hers, and I know that I have just witnessed a miracle.

You don’t understand why I would second mortgage my house to fight my school district to make sure Ashley gets the education to which she is entitled.

The thought of three to four doctor visits each week makes you shake your head in disbelief.

The roll of your stomach whenever you think about having to change a G-tube convinces you that you could never do it.

I know you get tired of me complaining about places not being accessible, about businesses not having enough handicapped parking places, and the way that people stare whenever Ashley and I walk by.

You’ve asked me how I keep going each day when I am up 4 or more times each night with Ashley.

I see the confusion on your face when I get so angry whenever you say ‘poor Ashley’.

I know you could almost understand when I adopted Ashley, but I know you thought I was crazy when I adopted Jessica after that, and then Corey after that.

You were absolutely baffled as to why I felt like a failure when Jessica broke two of my ribs during one of her rages.

I know it frustrates you when I have to refuse a night out because I am too tired and/or I don’t have enough money.

And I know you think I have absolutely lost my mind because I want to adopt another child, a child with significant disabilities.

You are my co-workers, my neighbors, the staff at school. You are the people who think you know me, but really you don’t.

You are the people who won’t take the time to try and understand.

But fortunately, there are people who do understand. Mothers and fathers like me. People with disabilities who understand the value of life and applaud the people who have stood up for that value. You know who you are, and you really do understand. And I am so grateful that our paths have crossed.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Patrick Henry Hughes

Some of you may have seen this remarkable young man on Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I watched the show and fell in love with Patrick and his wonderful family. My brother shared this latest video featuring Patrick with me and now I want to share it with you. It's a great way to end the week on a positive note!

Happy long weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Growing Remarkable Children

American Idol started a new season last night, and apart from all the non-singers that the show highlights purely to make fun of was a young lady who was quite spectacular. And, I don’t mean that she was a great singer (although she was).

This young lady was 16 years old and was one of nine children. The child born after her was a son with Down Syndrome. The parents decided that they wanted their son to have a companion like himself, so they adopted another child with Down Syndrome. And then, they went on to adopt two more sons with Down Syndrome.

The family was indeed amazing, but their daughter had such a positive spirit, an old soul in a young body. The judges all noticed it, and commented. She bowled them over with both her singing and her grace. And all that reminded me of my son, Chip.

Chip, like the young lady, is an old soul – a remarkable person, it seems, from the time he was born. And growing up with his sister, Ashley, has refined that soul and turned him into a very special man.

What do you think – does growing up with a sibling that has a disability leave a lasting, positive influence on your children without disabilities?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday

It's magic, this couch of mine. No matter who lies down on it - no matter what time of day or night - no matter if you thought you were tired or not - after 15 minutes on this counch, you will be sound asleep. Maybe the fabric originated with a drug lord who infused it with sleepy drugs. Or maybe it is like the poppy field from the Wizard of Oz. Whatever the answer, this is one extremely comfortable couch!

Be sure to visit all the other Special Exposure Wednesday blogs at 5 Minutes For Special Needs! I know I will as soon as I can get myself up off this couch!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

They Came, They Talked - Did Anyone Listen?

Hundreds of people showed up, some as early as 4am on a morning where the temperature was only 13 degrees. At 8am, they started getting the numbers that would indicate the order in which they could share their stories. By noon, the start time of the hearing, even the term standing room only couldn’t describe the crowd.

Monday, January 11th, was the day that the Virginia General Assembly said they would listen to the concerns of those opposed to balancing the state’s budget by cutting services to people with disabilities. The hearing started promptly at noon, and based on the number of people scheduled to give three minute testimonies, the hearing was going to last well into the night. I got number 168, and just by doing the math, that meant around 8pm.

There were parents – and caregivers – and service providers – and doctors – and teachers – and preachers. Brothers, sisters, parents, and friends. There were people with disabilities – people in wheelchairs, people with braces supporting their bodies, people with white canes, and people who could only get three sentences out in their allotted three minute speaking time. All shared the same message – please do not make the lives of people whose lives are already difficult any worse.

They begged to keep respite hours. They cried as they talked of their family members who were aggressive. They voices became a whisper of worry when talking about what would happen to their most fragile of loves. They were defiant and proud and it was obvious that they were also uncomfortable having to beg to keep their lives afloat.

Did it make a difference? We won’t know for a couple of months, but given the dire straits of the budget situation, I don’t have much hope. I do hope that the assembly members listened and really heard the stories today. If a difference can’t be made immediately, maybe it can be made in the future.

And to a person, the most important statement everyone shared was – we do not need another institution….please divert those funds to the community supports that will keep people with disabilities with their friends and their families.

Please keep Virginia, its people with disabilities, their friends and families, and the General Assembly members who hold fate in their hands in your prayers.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Intrepid Spirit

Ashley amazes me in so many ways, but one thing that continually amazes me is how adaptable she is.

Imagine just for a moment what it would be like to be deaf and blind. And, to have been that way since birth. All the visual and auditory experiences we take for granted, she never experienced. Imagine how frightening life could be if you couldn’t see where you were going – if you couldn’t hear what people were saying or asking you – if everything you touched had a strange and different texture.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t even want to eat a food that looks different, or try on an article of clothing if it feels funny on my skin. That is what Ashley’s life is like every single day.

Yet, she always just goes with the flow. Go in the car and not know really where you are going? Sure, she would say. Walk through a shopping mall knowing there is a crowd of strange people around? Of course, she says. Sleep in a strange bed in a hotel room in a place that is completely alien? Why not, her excitement says.

I don’t think I could be so easy going if everything I had to do was a challenge. I believe I would be frightened to even take a step in a direction that was unknown. And I know that meeting new people that I couldn’t see or hear would cause me to shrink away.

But not Ashley. That must be why so many people don’t believe at first that she is deafblind. She doesn’t act like she is deafblind. At time, I don’t think she even believes she is deafblind. She is fearless, and even though that drives me crazy with worry sometimes, it is the reason she has advanced so much in life.

I’m so glad I was able to adopt her and provide an environment where she was comfortable enough to become the explorer she is. The alternative, had I not adopted her, was institutionalization. I don’t believe the Ashley I know and love would even exist had that happened.

'No limits' has always been my mantra for her. 'No limits' is her mantra for herself. She is amazing and wonderful and fearless. She is a strong young woman, and I am so very proud of her.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Balancing On The Backs of The Weakest

My home state, Virginia, has a rotten record of providing services to people with disabilities. Virginia is consistently ranked between 40th and 47th out of 50 (states) on services. So, I shouldn’t be surprised by the latest state budget recommendations. But I am. I didn’t think things could get a lot worse, but I was wrong.

I understand that state budgets have been hit hard during this economic downturn. I’m a state employee and I’ve seen the cutbacks, the extra jobs we all have to take on, and the layoffs. Virginia is required by its constitution to have a balanced budget, i.e. the state cannot act like the Federal government and just go deeper and deeper into debt. So as we approach this next budget cycle, the cuts which in the past have been deep, are going right to the bone. Unfortunately, the proposals will hit people with disabilities the hardest.

Here are some examples of the proposals:

  • Eliminate 200 Mental Retardation waiver slots

  • Reduce the number of hours allowed for respite care from 720 annually to 240 annually

  • Postpone mandated increases in annual waiver slots

  • Freeze enrollment in the 5 waivers

  • Reduce provider rates for waiver services by 5%

  • Reduce rates and prior authorization for intensive in-home services

  • Limit annual visits for physical, occupational and speech therapies.

Currently in Virginia, 5,115 individuals are waiting on the Mental Retardation Waiting List. Ashley has been waiting 5 years on the Developmental Disabilities list, and she is still in spot 329. The waiting lists will continue to grow and people who need services to become productive members of society will languish in sub-standard care. The providers, usually personal care aides, are already paid an extremely low rate. That is why families have a hard time finding and keeping good aides. And respite – let me tell you how I use my respite:

720 hours a year works out to about 13 hours a weekend, which is the way I have chosen to use mine. 2-3 hours each weekend is spent grocery shopping. Another hour is spent waiting at the pharmacy. Car maintenance consumes another 3 hours (the total for the year divided by the number of weekends). Home and yard maintenance takes another 2 hours. Then there are the errands for my other children – haircuts, school shopping tasks, clothes shopping, etc). Those will take another 2 hours. Then, because I am a state employee and our resources have been cut so drastically, I always have at least 50 hours of work to accomplish in a 40 hour work week. On the weekends, I use my respite time to do some of my work. – about another 2 hours. And, if there is anytime at all left, I treat myself to a few minutes at Starbucks.

I can make it work with 13 hours a weekend of respite. I absolutely cannot make it work if those hours are reduced to 5 for the weekend.

But here’s the icing on the cake. At the same time as this proposed dismantling of community-based supports, the current administration is continuing plans to rebuild a NEW, 75-bed, state-operated institution in Chesapeake, VA.

This all makes me sick to my stomach. Virginia's state motto is "Virginia is for Lovers." I would suggest we add "except for people with disabilities" to the end of that statement.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Loving the ZZZZZZ's

I’m almost afraid to write this post fearing that it may jinx the good thing that has been happening.


Now that may not sound like a big deal, but for those parents whose children have difficulty sleeping, you know why I am excited.

For 13 years – from the time I brought Ashley home at 2 years old – until now – and she will be 15 very soon, she has NEVER slept through the night. In fact, she was usually up more than she was asleep.

Four to six times a night was the average, but many nights were worse than that. A ‘good’ night, at least my definition of ‘good’, meant she was only up three times. I am a single parent - I have to work full time - and I have three other children. You can probably imagine the impact all this has had on me.

One of Ashley’s doctors told me it was like leading the life of a hospital intern. Never sleeping more than two hours at a stretch, interns just learn to function in such an environment, and the doctor said that’s what I was doing. I may have learned how to function, but I’m sure I wasn’t functioning well.

But for about two months now, Ashley has only been getting up once a night. Of course, if she is sick, all bets are off, but she has been well long enough now for my body to feel revitalized with all the sleep!

I’m feeling almost human again, and I’m sure that I have now blown it by sharing this with the world. Please, everyone, keep your fingers crossed that this is not just a phase but rather a new way of life!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday

One of the things I liked most about our recent trip to a cabin in the woods was the fireplace. This is not the best quality picture, but I love that I can see my kids in the reflection!

Be sure to check out all the other Special Exposure Wednesday shots at 5 Minutes For Special Needs!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Snakes Make Good Pets

I’ve always known that my son, Corey, lacks social skills. He joined my family when he was twelve years old, and I am sure that his traumatic earlier life as well as his Aspergers contributes to that lack. But it seems to be getting worse. Is that possible or typical for a person who is diagnosed with Aspergers?

Corey is now 17 years old. Although he comes home and talks about his friends at school, I know from other children there that he really doesn’t have any friends. I’m not sure he realizes that often the other students are making fun of him even as they pretend to be his friend for some bullying purpose or another.

No one ever telephones him. He never calls anyone. He is never invited to a party or other outings. Other kids don’t wave or say goodbye as he gets off the school bus each afternoon.

Even around the house and the family he seems to be withdrawing more and more the older he gets.

I’ve fought my school district to provide social skills training – they continue to refuse. I’ve sent Corey to a social skills support group, but after a few visits he doesn’t want to go anymore. If I make him, he will refuse to participate. My older son continues to model appropriate social skills, and goes out of his way to help Corey, but all Corey will do is copy everything Chip does – not because he ‘gets’ the social aspect but because he thinks it makes him ‘cool’ to be like Chip.

I’ve gotten Corey to volunteer during the summer so that he can be around other kids and other adults. He attends the deafblind support group meetings we have at our house and at other locations. But still I see no progress.

Sure, Corey will speak in a group of new people as if he is an expert on a particular subject. He even does so with such an air of confidence that it is almost believable until you realize that the subject on which he is speaking has not even been mentioned by the group he is around.

For example, a group of his high school peers might be talking about the latest movie they all saw. Corey will speak up loudly that snakes make good pets, and will go on to list the reasons why. You can see his peers glance back and forth at each other and soon move away from him.

So, is it typical that the lack of social skills becomes more obvious as a child gets older, or are the lack of skills even getting worse? This is a scary considering that in just over a year, Corey should be moving into the job market. How is he going to be able to get and hold down a job?

He can’t stay home forever, and I feel so bad that I don’t seem to be helping him.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Plugged Back In

We survived! Our ‘unplugged’ week at a cabin in the woods was wonderful. I just can’t remember the last time I felt so relaxed. I definitely recommend this type of vacation to everyone. Here is my list of the best and worst of an ‘unplugged’ vacation:

The Best:

  • Four inches of snow on the ground made it really feel like Christmas. Having a park ranger come by each morning to sprinkle ice melt on the wheelchair ramp made it even more special.

  • Going to bed whenever we wanted – getting up whenever we wanted – napping whenever we wanted – the perfect antidote to stress!

  • Hot cocoa and peach pancakes tasted even better without the blare of television or the radio.

  • The ranger recommended we keep the thermostat set on 70 degrees. That’s about eight degrees higher than my thermostat at home. It was so toasty and I didn’t have to worry about the heating bill.

  • Because the cabin was relatively small – three bedrooms and a large kitchen/great room – everyone stayed in the same room during the day. At home, the kids are spread all over the house and it feels like we just pass in the hallways some days. It was nice to just be together as a family for much of the day.

  • With the hectic lives we all live, often we forget to sit and just talk – at least that is true for my family. But for our week away, we talked, really talked.

  • Chip kept a roaring fire going in the stone fireplace each day. There's nothing better than being snuggled on the couch watching the fire.

  • There were no laundry facilities. That meant I didn’t have to do my usual two loads each day. That in itself was a wonderful vacation.

  • We went exploring the country-side one day. It was fun to visit areas of the state we have never seen.

  • The wildlife was abundant, especially the wild turkeys. I guess since they made it alive through Christmas, they were feeling a bit cocky!

  • The handicapped bathroom was incredible. There was a roll-in shower with a little seat. Ashley took extra long showers each night, just sitting under the water and playing with the sprayer.

The Worst:

  • Well…ummm…well…I absolutely can’t think of anything. Except maybe that there was no dishwasher. I had to wash dishes by hand, for God’s sake