Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday and Contest

Have you ever been taking a lot of digital pictures and get shots that were unexpected? That happened during the Orioles/Nationals game to Chip. He was taking pictures of Ronnie's favorite player, Number 44 Adam Dunn, and because of the momentary delay on the camera, got the picture below. It has been the source of endless paroxysms of roll-on-the-floor laughing. Just think how boring the world would be without teenage boys!

Now, here's the contest part. The person who comes up with the best caption for this picture will win a $25 Target gift card! Submit your captions via comments no later than next Wednesday. My raucous teenage sons and I will pick the winner!

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

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Baltimore - Day 1

When we set off for Baltimore last week, I was curious to see what our travel experience was going to be like. Though we have traveled with Ashley and her wheelchair in the past, Ashley is capable of walking short distances. If we couldn’t find a curb cut, it wasn’t a big deal – Ashley could just stand up, step down the curb and then get back in her chair. But with Ronnie, there is no standing – it’s the chair all the time.

The first area we visited was Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The boys had their hearts set on having lunch at ESPN Zone, so you can imagine the disappointment when we arrived and discovered the restaurant was no longer there. We settled for Hard Rock Café.

The Hard Rock Café had little to offer a deaf teenager, but I think Ronnie was quite happy when he realized I was going to let him order an ice cream sundae for lunch! We finished lunch – I took the requisite tourist picture – and we headed out to the Inner Harbor.

The line at the aquarium was much too long to wait in considering the temperature was pushing 100 degrees, so we explored some shops and watched some high school dancers in the plaza. Locating the handicapped entrances to the buildings was a bit of a challenge, but once inside, we were always able to find an elevator.

We were even able to find Ronnie a pair of Converse shoes to use as pool shoes. Since he has no feeling in his legs, it’s very important to protect his feet when he swims. Otherwise they could get all scraped and cut without him even knowing it.

After lunch and a little exploring, we headed to our hotel to check in. It was a lovely Hilton right in the heart of Baltimore. It was contemporary and quite impressive, and the rooms that Chip had booked for us overlooked Camden Yards. But the most important thing about the rooms? The delicious air conditioning!!

After getting settled into the room, Corey and Ronnie decided to check out the pool. Imagine my surprise when I saw the lift at the end of the pool. Although we didn’t need it, I was impressed that the hotel folks had been aware and considerate enough to realize the need.

Here are a few pictures from the swimming experience:

After a good dinner in what we thought was a restaurant but what turned out to be more of a bar, we settled into the hotel rooms to await the start of the Baltimore Orioles/Washington Nationals baseball game. While we couldn’t see the whole field, we were able to watch the game simultaneously on TV.

I think the boys had a great time in their own room, and everyone was looking forward to actually going to the game the next day. More later…..

Monday, June 28, 2010

Long Weekend of Fun

The boys and I took a mini-vacation this past weekend. We left early Friday morning, and returned Sunday afternoon. In between those times were baseball, swimming, driving, eating, and lots and lots of fun.

I plan on making most of my posts this week about the trip. Since this was the first time traveling with Ronnie, we had quite a few interesting experiences. I will share what worked and what didn't work. But most importantly, I have some great photos to share.

Here is the first of those. Friday night, we stayed in a hotel overlooking Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team. My son, Chip, was so very generous in getting both baseball tickets and great lodging for our trip. The hotel rooms in Baltimore couldn't have had a better view.

After the Orioles/Washington Nationals game Friday night, there was a fireworks show. Ronnie was able to 'hear' the fireworks by pressing the palms of his hands to the hotel room window!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Technology Tidbits

Because I believe the appropriate application of technology could hold a key piece of the future’s puzzle for our children with significant disabilities, I love to peruse technology websites. Probably also contributing to that interest is the fact that I am a computer engineer, but the things that catch my eye always are products that could benefit people with disabilities.

Here are a few interesting things I have found over the last couple of weeks.

For the red/green color blind, traffic signals pose a significant problem. Sometimes, however, the simplest solutions are the best. Check out the Uni-light which uses different shapes rather than different colors for traffic lights.

While the technology below is not new, its application is. Police officers and the Deaf have always faced a large communication gap. Now, using video phone technology, some police departments are working to reduce that gap.

Helping the Deaf and Police Officers Communicate

I’ve written before about the hazards of very quiet electric cars to the blind. Well, it seems those cars are about to get a little louder to protect blind pedestrians. While this change is not being embraced by everyone, those of us who are either blind or have a blind family member, welcome the change.

A noisy car is not going to help the Deaf pedestrian though. Here is a story about a Deaf man who was struck by a car. Is there technology that can help with this issue, or is it just a problem of the person not paying attention to traffic? I’m not sure of the answer to that question….

What about you? Have you run across any interested technology recently?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday

You know Summer has arrived when your wheelchair ramp is used for drying towels and swimsuits....

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

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How To Speak Deaf

Since Ronnie joined our family, we have had lots of situations, mostly medical, in which an interpreter is present. It's always interesting to notice the reactions of the hearing people in the group, especially people who are there to relay and solicit information from Ronnie. What I have learned is that a lot of people don't quite understand how to have a conversation with a Deaf person and that person's interpreter.

So here are some tips that I found at Deaf News Today for communicating with people who are Deaf or hearing-impaired. If any of you have other tips, I would love to hear them.

  • Make sure you have eye contact with the person before speaking

  • If there is an interpreter, speak to and look at the deaf person not the interpreter

  • Face the person to whom you are speaking (that helps with lip-reading)

  • Stand in good lighting and avoid standing so that light is on the face of the Hearing-impaired person

  • Avoid background noise whenever possible

  • Move your mouth to articulate but don’t exaggerate

  • Speak a little louder and slower than normal but don’t shout or drag

  • Keep your hands away from your face and particularly your mouth

  • Use lots of facial expressions and body movements

  • If something is unclear, rather than just repeating the same thing, rephrase thoughts in shorter and simple sentences

Monday, June 21, 2010

Love My Smile

When my family is out in the community, I know we can be quite the spectacle sometimes. The two in wheelchairs often race through the store aisles - Chip plays 'reckless driving' with Ashley while she giggles loudly - Ronnie burps loudly and we all pause for just a second and then burst out laughing - we put funny hats or clothes on one another - in short, we have a blast while getting our errands accomplished.

During an outing this past Saturday, we were heading to Target. Just as we pulled into the parking lot and began unloading all our paraphenalia, a van and a car loaded with adult group home residents and their 'staff' also pulled in. The residents were happy and excited, some skipping, some laughing, some chatting loudly about what they wanted to buy. The staff, however, did not appear the least bit happy.

The staff began shouting orders to the residents, "quiet down!", "get over here", "go in the bathroom right now", and "get away from the water fountain." It didn't take long for the smiles and eye twinkles to disappear from the residents. They fell into line and continued to follow whatever orders they were given.

This observation is typical of what has always bothered my about groups homes and the staff hired to support the residents. It's a job to the staff, and a job that many don't seem to like or enjoy. And their lack of enjoyment with their jobs has a direct effect on the folks they are hired to support.

It saddens me that people have their joy tamped down. Joy is often difficult for group home residents, or others with disabilities, to find. Let's do everything we can to support people when they are happy and joyful...even if it's a job.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Very Good Year

Yesterday was my birthday, and my family and friends made me feel very special.

Chip and Ronnie made me dinner - yummy honey mustard grilled chicken, a large salad with veggies fresh from our garden, and blueberry muffins with huge, juicy blueberries.

There were cupcakes from my favorite little cupcake shop - delicious flavors like Mai Tai, Pina Colada, Key Lime, and Lemon Coconut.

And there was a basket of my favorite things from Amy and the kids - my special lotion from Bath and Body Works, a handmade trivet, tickets to Eclipse, a new book, a lovely scarf, and of course, chocolate. And both Amy and my ex-husband sent flowers!

Quite the celebration, don't you think?!

When I went to bed last night, I began to reflect on my past year, and realized that is was a very good year, indeed.

No one was hospitalized.

My oldest son graduated with honors from high school and completed his first year of college with a 4.0 grade point average.

My sweet Ashley started high school, and despite all my worries, things went very, very well.

Jessica moved into an adult group home, one more step towards realizing her dreams for her future.

We had a wonderful 'unplugged' family vacation at a cabin in the woods last Christmas.

I survived layoffs and furloughs at work.

We lived through yet another bathroom renovation and also had a wheelchair ramp built.

My old van finally died and we got a lovely family sedan...just to realize a few short months later that we really needed a van again....because...

My newest son joined the family!!!

And the list goes on and one. Yes, a very, very good year...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Walking and Wheelies

Ronnie is working so hard in physical therapy! He has set a goal for himself to be able to walk into court in October for his adoption finalization. He recently got his long-awaited orthotics, and although his therapist wants him fitted for orthotics for his upper legs and hips, he is already starting to practice his walking. And, he is doing great! He loves standing tall. He slipped up last night during therapy and said another reason he wants to walk is so he can dance!

Walking will be very hard work for him, so a wheelchair will still be a constant in his life. His therapist is also working on making him more comfortable in his chair. She is showing him how to get his chair up and down curbs when there is no curb cut. And she is teaching him how to control his chair more by letting him practice 'wheelies' in it.

He's still a little uncomfortable with the sensation of balancing on the wheels, but the therapist has assured him that it is like learning to ride a bike - once he gets the skill down, he will never forget it. Ronnie wants a sports chair so he can play basketball in a wheelchair league and that is one more reason the therapist wants him to learn more control of his chair.

I think he is really enjoying both the walking and the hotdogging in his chair. They are both one more step towards more independence for him, and that is something he longs to have.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday

These babies are growing up in my garden, but soon, very soon, they will be packing their bags and moving into my salad bowl!

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Eating Out of Trashcans is not a Life

This is the last week of school for my children, and all of them have firmed up their summer plans…..except Corey, that is.

Ashley will be attending summer school for most of the summer. Classes only last half of the day, and every Friday is a day off. She has really enjoyed summer school in past years, and is looking forward to making yet another tie-dyed tee-shirt this summer!

Ronnie will be receiving some homebound school services twice a week for about an hour. It’s not enough to cramp his fun but is enough to ensure his skills with visual phonics remain on target. In late July, Ronnie will be having some major surgery, so his last month of the summer will be spent recovering from that.

Chip will be Ronnie’s personal care aide. He has already planned several activities to keep Ronnie busy and away from the video games!

And then there’s Corey. Corey is a less than mediocre student, and will be passing 11th grade by the skin of his teeth. His teachers and I don’t feel summer school is warranted because if he wasn’t motivated during the school year, trying to find that motivation over the summer is a lost cause.

So, several months ago, I began sharing information and phone numbers with him about summer jobs. He never followed up on anything. I pushed a bit, and asked if he had applied at Toys R Us (they had a help wanted sign posted). He applied but then told me the only thing they would offer is a job stocking shelves in the warehouse. Apparently such work is below him, and he declined.

Then I printed information out about volunteer opportunities, re-emphasizing to him that he had to work or volunteer, and if he didn’t I would make sure his summer was not a pleasant one. He is almost 18 years old. Sitting home all summer and playing video games is NOT an option. He hasn’t, to my knowledge, inquired about any of the volunteer opportunities.

So where does that leave Corey? Corey will be assigned lots and lots of jobs around the house – jobs he will not enjoy doing, but jobs that will keep him from melding with the TV. There is a shed to be cleaned out – lots and lots of ground to be dug up for a rose garden – an attic to clean out – a deck to waterproof – weeds to pull – kitchen cabinets to sand and refinish – and the list goes on and on.

Needless to say, I am not happy about this. Corey has decided his future rests with the military, and nothing between now and enlistment matters. I’m worried that the military is not really going to be an option (if he doesn’t graduate, for instance), or that even if he gets in, he won’t stay in. He would then have few if any job skills, and one of my biggest fears would be realized – he would end up back on the streets where he spent the first 12 years of his life.

Some of my friends say I am too hard on him. My response is, “I love him, and just want his life to be more than dirty alleys and food from trash cans.”

Monday, June 14, 2010

Glowing Golf

It was another hot, sweltering Sunday afternoon. I really can't imagine what it will be like when August gets here. Fortunately, our city has a lot of indoor entertainment for days when you go outside and it seems your skin is melting. Today we went to Glow Golf!

Glow Golf was a perfect choice for everyone. The boys loved playing minature golf in the dark and seeing which articles of their clothing would glow. Ashley loved all the glowing lights - it was quite a sensory experience for her. Everyone got glow bracelets when we started, and Ronnie loved putting them all together into a necklace.

To make it even better, Glow Golf's admission price is lowered if anyone in your party has a disability. Instead of $8 per person for 3 games of 18 hole minigolf, the price was $6. The only other place I have ever been to that reduces or waives admission prices for people with disabilities is the Norfolk, Virginia Zoo.

The surprise winner of the day was Ronnie! Besides two hole-in-ones on the course, he was the only person who got his ball in at the "Prize Hole' at the end of the course, which scored him free admission anytime within the next 60 days. He was so proud of himself, and even wanted to watch golf on TV when he got home.

He just might have his sights set on being the next Tiger Woods (without the sex addiction, of course!)!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Don't Mess With The Girl

Boy orange ball! Boy orange ball!!! BOY ORANGE BALL!

Yesterday in school, Ashley and a classmate were playing a marble chase game. Apparently the classmate, not understanding that orange is a sacred color to Ashley, and orange on a ball is the highest order of the Holy Spirit, decided to take the orange marble and leave the game.

Ashley – the child my school district told me many years ago would never be able to communicate – the child they said would always need an advocate because she would be incapable of advocating for herself – the child they claimed would always be in her own little world due to her deafblindness – WENT TO A TEACHER AND TATTLED ON HER CLASSMATE!

School district, can you hear her now???

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Who's Really Wearing the Cranky Pants?

Although it rarely happens now, not too long ago the only reports that came home from school about Ashley were ‘bad news’ reports. Most of the time, they spoke of her negative behaviors. She was described as being in a bad mood all day – being uncooperative, and one of my all time favorites, non-compliant. (I wrote a long time ago about that compliance thing…).

But the child I would see at home was completely different. She was pleasant, smiled and laughed a lot, played with her siblings, and was just a joy to be around.

So why were things so very different between school and home?

What I figured out a long time ago about Ashley was that her feelings and actions took their cue from the feelings and actions of people, especially adults, around her. I’m sure this is true about most children with significant special needs, but I feel it is even more honed in Ashley because of her dual sensory impairment (deafblindness).

Ashley can read my moods and feelings extremely well. She was able to when she was very young, and she continues today with that skill. She’s not using visual cues to pick up on my moods and feelings – she can’t see me smile or frown or cry. She can’t hear a change in the tone of my voice – angry versus sad versus happy. But somehow she knows.

She knows when there is ‘drama’ in the house. She knows when I am feeling rushed or impatient, and when I am relaxed and happy, she is relaxed and happy. When she senses that I am sad or down in the dumps, she will snuggle or put her face just inches from mine and smile her biggest smile.

Somehow she knows.

So, could those school reports of negative behaviors and bad moods be more a description of the adults in her environment at school than a true reflection of what she was feeling?

Maybe, just maybe, Ashley is not the one who needed the functional behavior assessment and behavior intervention plan!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday

Yes, you're soft and cute...yes, you were very patiently sitting there while I took your picture...Yes, you make all the kids go 'awwww'. But if you get in my vegetable garden, you and I are going to rumble...

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

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Reality of the Time

I’ve recently been addicted to a cable TV show called Mad Men. It’s new season will start mid-Summer, so I have been making my way through all the previous seasons on Blu-ray. Here’s what the Mad Men website has to say about the show:

Set in 1960s New York, the sexy, stylized and provocative AMC drama Mad Men follows the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising, an ego-driven world where key players make an art of the sell. The latest season of the show takes place in 1963.

The Premise: The series revolves around the conflicted world of Don Draper (Hamm), the biggest ad man (and ladies man) in the business, and his colleagues at the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency. As Don makes the plays in the boardroom and the bedroom, he struggles to stay a step ahead of the rapidly changing times and the young executives nipping at his heels. The series also depicts authentically the roles of men and women in this era while exploring the true human nature beneath the guise of 1960s traditional family values.

It was that part about “1960’s traditional family values” that first interested me. Think Leave it to Beaver or Ozzie and Harriet…what I didn’t see in the show, however, was anyone with a disability. And I very clearly remember that about the late 60’s when I was growing up.

There was never a student with a disability in any of my classes at school. I never saw people with disabilities in the community or in church. Where I did see two young men with disabilities was in the home of one of my parent’s friends.

Mr. Lamden was a pharmacist and his wife was a stay-at-home wife and mother. Their two sons, both teens at the time, and both with severe cerebral palsy, lived one neighborhood over from us. While I would sometimes see Mr. Lamden at the drugstore, I never saw Mrs. Lamden or her two sons unless we visited their home.

I so clearly remember how excited the boys were to have young visitors like my brother and me. Their smiles would explode as soon as we walked into the room, and though they couldn’t speak, the sounds they made were obviously (at least to me) happy sounds. We entertained each other just by existing in the same room together, and I could read the disappointment on their faces when it was time for my family to leave.

I remember wondering, even though I was young, why the boys didn’t go to school – why their parents didn’t take them to the park or the beach. I wondered what they did to pass the day, and if they were happy and content with their lives. I imagined that they wanted more but didn’t know how to tell their parents.

I believe that those two Lamden sons were the reason my heart for advocacy was born. Even though my world is now filled with people of all abilities, I long to know what ever happened to the Lamden boys, and I so wish I could tell them ‘Thank you’.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Just Who Are Dave and Buster?

One of my absolute least favorite places in the world is Chuckie Cheese. I did my parental duty when my children were younger and did take them there, but I never left without a pounding heachache and super over-stimulated children. I can't begin to tell you how happy I was when they got too old to go there.

Then along comes Dave and Busters. Friends told me it was like Chuckie Cheese for adults. If they were trying to sell me on the place, that certainly wasn't the way to do it.

But, it was a sweltering, hot morning and I wasn't in the mood for chores. So, I loaded up the kids and headed to Dave and Busters. We had decided to have lunch first and then hit the flashing lights and ticket-spewing machines.

The menu was pretty impressive, but I still wasn't convinced that the food wouldn't taste like the frozen pizzas at Chuckie Cheese. And our waitress didn't seem the least bit happy to (1) be working that day, and (2) have my 'unique' family at one of her tables. She was grumpy and refused to give me a kids menu for Ashley even after I explained that Ashley was still mastering the fine art of eating by mouth. And, she almost rolled her eyes when I asked for a cup with a top on it.

When our food arrived, the manager did also. He said he was checking on how things were. I told him that the food looked wonderful, but that I had my doubts that Ashley would eat the macaroni and cheese, because, God forbid, it had bacon in it. He told me if it didn't work to just let him know and they would do something else for her. Okay....things were looking up.

As we made our way through lunch (Ashley ate the soup that I had secreted away in my purse), the grumpy waitress got a little friendlier. She talked about her kids, refilled our drinks, and helped box our leftovers.

After lunch, it was time to hit the arcade. Arcade may not be the right word, but I don't know another word that fits. It truly is like Chuckie Cheese for older kids and adults. There was even a bar and the beer was flowing by noon. I'm not sure I would want to take my children there in the evening, but morning seemed fine and other parents had their children there also.

The kids LOVED it, including Ashley. The flashing, colorful lights kept her amused for over an hour. We eventually ran out of 'credits' (tokens in Chuckie Cheese speak), and headed home.

My expectations for the trip were not high, and the start to lunch wasn't great. But all in all, it was an enjoyable couple of hours, and the kids are already asking when we can go back!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hot Fun In The Summertime

Do you worry about your children regressing or losing skills over the summer? Do you hear the words, "I'm bored!" more than you would like? If so, I found a whole list of resources the other day to both keep my kids on track and keep them busy. Please feel free to add to the list if you like:

Check out Reading Rockets' May 2010 newsletter on the subject.

Adventures in summer learning.
From Reading Rockets.

More about summer learning. Don't let your kids forget all they've learned this year! Discover how to stop the summer brain drain and make learning a fun part of your everyday routine.

Activities to keep kids with disabilities busy this summer.

Family fun.

Accessing summer fun. From Disabilities Unlimited.

Summer Fun 2010.
The guide from the Federation for Children with Special Needs.

Going to Washington, DC?
Check out the accessibility of the Smithsonian's 16 museums.

Express the self through art.
Get your child involved in VSA (formerly Very Special Arts), an international nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a society where people with disabilities (including physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities) can learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts.

Find the adaptative sports equipment your child needs.
Let Disabled Sports USA connect you with the many devices and equipment that enable individuals with a range of disabilities to participate in sports such as fishing, cycling, and golf.

Getting physical.
Lots of great ideas and resources at the National Center for Physical Activity and Disability.

Check out the goings-on at national parks and federal recreation centers.

Gardening and other hobbies for those with disabilities.

Keys to a meltdown-free vacation.

All about accessible travel.
Tips, checklists and other resources for travelers with disabilities and their families.

AbleData's Travel Information Center.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Teaching Through The Years

As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I began to think of all the things I have tried to teach my children over the years. I also realized that I have taken several different approaches to that teaching.

When my children were very young, direct instruction worked best (“Here honey, this is how you tie your shoes.”, “Hold your fork this way and it will be easier to pick the food up.”).

When they got a little older, I believe I started teaching more by example. (“Mommy is going to volunteer at the Food Bank today.”, “Sit tight while I take this extra plate of food to our neighbor who is not feeling well.”).

Finally as teenagers, I am letting my children learn through failure, mistakes and consequences. (“You’ve chosen to not do your homework all semester, so you can’t go on the field trip.”, “Do you think you should have checked the pockets of your jeans before washing them because I don’t think you can get the pink out of your underwear now?”).

I am very proud of the many things my children have learned, and last night I started listing some of those things.

My oldest son, Chip, is an extremely compassionate, humble person. And, he knows how to plant and tend a garden. I’ve always believed that a person who can grow their own food will never go hungry.

Jessica has learned to control the angry feelings that overtake her sometimes. She understands that if she does lose control, she will not like the consequences, and that other people will not want to be around her. Also, despite all the doctors telling her she would never be toilet trained, at age 11 she did master that skill. So there, doctors!

Corey still has a lot to learn, but I think it is finally starting to click with him that if he chooses to not do his homework and study, he may fail in school. And when you fail in school, your plans for after graduation will be put on hold. One thing he has learned is to appreciate many different kinds of food. When he first joined my family almost 6 years ago, he didn’t want to eat much of anything other than junk food. Now, he will eat anything and everything that is put in front of him. Leftovers are a distant memory in my house.

Ashley has learned to stand up for herself, an extremely important quality for a person with a disability. She has also learned the value of charm and that a smile can bring many more rewards than a frown. She has exceeded and continues to exceed all the limits doctors placed on her as an infant. They were oh so wrong, and she works to prove that every single day.

Ronnie is still adjusting and learning how things work in our family. He is currently working on requesting and not demanding, thanking and not expecting. He has one of the sweetest hearts of any child I ever known, and now with the excellent role model he has in Chip, I predict great things for him. He needs to work a little more on self-sufficiency, but he seems very open to that, especially if he thinks it will get him the attention of a certain young lady in his class!!

So what skills make you and your children the proudest?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday

Although it's still early, I predict this will be a good growing year for my garden. I was so surprised to look out my kitchen window yesterday and see blossoms on my squash plants!

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

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Just Stop It

We spent a lot of time out in the community during our four day holiday. The weather was beautiful, and we were all in the mood for Summer. During one of our outings, we visited our local produce market. It's a little bigger than a farmer's market, but nowhere near the size of a grocery store, and the fruits and vegetables are always the freshest in town.

While we were there picking up our blueberries, strawberries, oranges, apples, limes and corn, we really irritated a lot of people. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, we seem to annoy a lot of people because we are slow at times.

I understand that we move through places like a choo-choo train, two wheelchairs lined up, and everyone else in a single file also. I do that purposely so we don't block any aisles. But people still get annoyed, and the thing that I don't understand is why I feel the need to say I'm sorry to those impatient people.

Whenever I see "the look", I say "I'm sorry", and try even harder to minimize the space we all occupy. Why do I do that??? Why do I apologize just for existing, but that's what I feel like I am doing. If I hadn't already gone out of my way to be as considerate as possible, the "I'm sorry" might be an appropriate response, but I do go out of my way, even to the point of trying to pick times that fewer people are in the placed we need to go.

So, while we annoy people frequently, I am now annoying myself more. Neither I nor my children have anything to apologize for, and I need to remember that.