I decided to start blogging about Jordan from the moment I found out I was pregnant. Jordan was born with a little arm that didn't grow like most babies. Her left arm stopped just above the elbow. Now I'm committed to making sure Jordan gets everything out of life. We feel blessed to be the parents of a very special little girl.


Disney World Excitement

The kids had a chance to go to Disney World for two days this year... We woke up and got out of the door in South Florida at 5am so we could check in early at the All Star Music Resort and head over to visit Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. My parents came along for the wild ride as well. Our first day was kindly sponsored by a number of ABC O&O reporters who work in Toledo, so we were able to park hop for a day - that's why I was so intent on visiting two parks with the kids. They got a chance to visit a couple of very cool animal experiences - one a "hike" through an animal area (including having a chance to see many gorillas) and the other was a safari ride through the Animal Kingdom natural preserve. It was amazing to see the number of animals we saw in such a short amount of time.

After a bus ride over to the Hollywood Studios we stood in a very, very long line (110 minutes or so) to ride the Toy Story Mania 4D experience. It was so, so cool. Even the waiting line was exciting. We got the full Andy's Room experience as we waited. We also got to see June and Quincy from Little Einsteins. (Jordan loved that) We ran back to Animal Kingdom to enjoy dinner and play in the Dino-Rama area.

We took the kids and the grandparents back to the hotel and ran off to spend extra hours on our own in the Magic Kingdom. The holiday decorations on the castle are just plain beautiful. I don't remember it that way two years ago. Randy and I rode all of the rides we normally don't get to ride because of the kids. That was pretty fun.

The next day we had a quickie birthday present opening time for Jordan before running off to the Magic Kingdom. I presented Jordan with her 3 year old t-shirt that I won in the Type-A Mom's Back to School party back in September. Her t-shirt was from Tote And Tee - a very cool online store with very sweet shirts. Jordan looked beautiful and excited in her shirt. It certainly screamed: I'm a big girl. We added a necklace full of Disney pins and a crown to complete the "look" for the day. That is... before she went to her big birthday gift: A trip to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique to get princess hair. We learned a big lesson during this trip: You want to be in the Magic Kingdom the moment is opens in the morning. No one is there. We walked onto four rides before 9:30. It was amazing. We all enjoyed the Buzz Lightyear ride, the Monsters Incorporated Laugh Floor (which we saw the night before and I LOVE it.), It's a Small World and Peter Pan. The kids were in heaven.

The boys and girls split so Jordan could see Mickey and Minnie and the boys could get a Fast Pass for Splash Mountain. Mickey and Minnie were wonderful and took bunches of pictures with Jordan. The boys got us passes and we met up with a former student of mine and his wife. She broke her foot recently and that mishap taught us another lesson about Disney: You want to be injured but not too injured to enjoy Disney. A wheelchair gets you to the front of every ride along with the rest of the people you're visiting the park with. That access made it possible for Cameron to ride every roller coaster. They got to enjoy a pile of rides while Jordan got pretty. Walking around the park with a little white and pink poofball was really funny to watch. I can't tell you how many random people took pictures of Jordan and I giggled inside thinking about how many of those photographers are looking at their pictures now and just realizing the little girl who was dressed up only had one hand! That was another lesson we learned during this trip: If you dress your little girl up to a level that is just shocking and a bit over the top, people won't notice little differences like a missing arm. (hee hee)

The princess treatment wasn't over... We watched a holiday parade where Santa even noticed Jordan and wished her a happy birthday. We rode the Jungle Cruise and then took Jordan and the rest of the family to a Cinderella-themed dinner at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridan hotel. It was quite the experience... I documented that in a separate post. Anyway, the day exhausted Miss Jordan and after she passed out in my arms, I passed her over to my parents to take her back to the hotel room. Apparently that hand off didn't go as well as we had hoped. (Thanks Mom and Dad - sorry about that) While Jordan slept, her brother, dad and I rode Space Mountain and enjoyed the SpectroMagic parade.

It was so much fun and I think we packed in four days of fun into two long days. Randy and I were sore from the long walks and the hours I carried Jordan in my arms when she was tired (yes we had a stroller but sometimes Mommy's arms keep a three year old from falling apart).

Now that I've written so much, I'll now present a review of the view I collected during our adventure. I call it "2 Days of Disney in less than 10 minutes." It runs 7:30 and it was edited using Motionbox so the cuts are a little rough - no dissolves or pretty stuff. But it does show a very busy family in a very fun place!

A very princess 3rd birthday

Jordan had the ultimate princess experience for her birthday... Along with getting sweet and fun princess accessories (a crown and a wand) she also got to get her hair done at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Cinderella's castle in the Magic Kingdom. It's as girly as it gets. Little girls come in and can pick the style of hair they want. It's super cute and silly. To add to the silly, my mom bought Jordan the fluffiest, prettiest possible princess dress and Cinderella shoes for her birthday. The final result can be seen here:

If you can't see it here, visit this page.

I know. It's silly. But to add to the fun, Jordan got to have her birthday dinner at a character dinner with all of the main characters from Cinderella - including Prince Charming, Cinderella and the evil step-mother and step-sisters. Jordan ATE it up. The combination of a girly dinner event and the fluffy dress made her so happy. And to build on that happiness, Jordan fell for Prince Charming. She kicked off her "glass" slippers and the prince kindly put a shoe back on for her (picture can be seen in the scrapbook pages above). He even invited her to dance with him after he danced with Cinderella. She was smitten. You can alao see a little bit of that happiness by watching this moment from her birthday celebration at dinner (You'll also see this moment in the big Disney video compilation I'm working on):

Will I ever be able to match a birthday like this? Probably not, but I also don't expect this love of princesses to last forever. She got to absorb the pure fun of it all at a young age... You know, the age when it's still okay to be a princess without seeming stuck up! The experience is all she's talks about - especially "her castle" (you know, Cinderella's castle is now Jordan's castle) and the prince.


Christmas Day

How exciting can life get when Santa brings you the princess pajamas, pink camera and pink Crocs you asked for? Well... For Jordan it also meant a chance to go to Disney World for two days! The thrill of Santa was alive and well in my parents' house on Christmas morning. To make the day more beautiful, it was sunny and gorgeous out. So after the kids played with their new toys and took in all of the excitement in the house, we piled into our bathing suits and ran off to the beach. Seriously, how often can you say you played on the beach on Christmas Day? So very cool.

A Florida Christmas

We returned to South Florida for the first time in two years... Two years. That seems so wrong. But when it takes many days to drive and flying is so expensive... I understand why we had to wait. But man, let me tell you. It was a perfect time to be there. The temperature was perfect. We had one rainy day out of seven. We got to swim and enjoy the beach. The kids got to ride bikes a bit. And to top it all off... We got to spend some really great time with my parents and a little bit of time with my brother.

On Christmas Eve, we attended a service at my parents' church. The whole family was actually asked to come to the front and do the Advent candle lighting. Jordan joined me at the podium while I read the meaning of the Advent. At the end, I got her to wish the whole church a merry Christmas. It was sweet -- And it's always cool to sneak in a side of Jordan cuteness.

Gift opening is a big deal for both kids -- But I've always considered a three year old as the "perfect" age for the holiday. You can start explaining the real reason why we're celebrating and a three-year-old isn't greedy enough to be nutty and pig-headed during the gift opening process. It's a pure kind of excitement. I'm not sure if that theory is proven... Cameron has maintained a very sweet attitude - even if he's six and a half. Either way, the gifts are simpler when you're little... And man was every gift exciting to Jordan.

Some very cute things emerged during the holiday season. Jordan LOVES holiday music. She would break out into song when you least expect it. She would start dancing anywhere if she heard a song she liked. She would DEMAND you turn up the song if it wasn't loud enough for her liking. Music and the holidays are a happy mix for this little girl. The best moment was watching Jordan dance to Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." My mom, Randy and I just watched her boogie while she grooved - she had no idea we were watching. She was dancing for not reason except for the joy that song brings to her. It was such a wonderful and sweet moment.

Another wonderful thing about this trip - The weather was so nice that the television was rarely turned on. Jordan was focused on playing with dolls, bothering her brother and being outside. It was just relaxing and wonderful. Some of the gift highlights: Jordan got a new Leapster!! She recently started stealing her brother's and now she has her very own. It's very exciting.

And now... Some video. First, here's Jordan right before we opened presents on Christmas Eve:

Next, excitement over the present distribution process:

Disney Fun

I'm playing catch up with thousands of photos and pictures... I promise to tell many, many stories soon about Christmas and Jordan's third birthday. But first... A holiday greeting from us:
Playing with Disney pictures


Holiday preview

We made it to Florida! We also had a chance to celebrate an early Christmas with Jordan and Cameron's Poppy and Grandma (aka my in-laws)! They had a ball opening gifts. We also got to drive long distances with the kids in the van -- for the first time we had them sitting in different rows with two separate DVD players.

It changed EVERYTHING. Our drive was relatively peaceful... happy and enjoyable. I think we will travel this way from now on. It was too nice. No fighting and relatively few outburst from either kid.

I did figure out an additional way to help Jordan keep up with her toys without them all falling to her left side and she can't reach it. It's a soft tray that attaches with a belt behind her so it doesn't fall down. She was able to play with smaller toys and eat food without losing stuff. I highly recommend it!!

Today we enjoyed a little time in my parents' pool (it was freezing cold) and riding bikes. Jordan was exhausted but we did pull the bike arm out for a little while. Not long enough for her to be willing to let me leave and find a camera. She was exhausted by the end of the day and even fell asleep on the floor. Hopefully she'll get a good night's sleep so we can have a really fun day tomorrow!


She's really figuring things out

I caught Jordan working with her occupational therapist today before we ran off to attend the December graduation ceremony. It's incredible to see how she's able to encourage Jordan to use her prosthetic. The hard part - Jordan won't do a thing with it unless you remind her that it's there to help. We'll get there.

The hard part - we had a snow storm that delayed Jordan's IEP meeting. That's the meeting where the school district will tell us if they can or cannot support us in Jordan's needs for OT and PT. My guess is they're going to say no. But until I hear from them, I can't work with Jordan's current OT and PT folks until I know if I'll get any financial support from the school district, county or insurance company. So until then, I'm going to need to work with Jordan on my own. Hopefully I'll be able to encourage her as well as Linda (Jordan's OT). I'll keep my fingers crossed!

We're heading off on a big road trip - I hope to keep it going here on the blog if a moment is worth blogging about!! Happy holidays everyone!


"Santa? Please we go to Disney World?"

There's a wonderful website that let Jordan and Cameron record a message for Santa -- and then their message is emailed to me!

Here's what Jordan had to say:

Crazy adorable.


Stage Mommy Pride

Yeah... We had another big dance performance for Jordan. It isn't the Nutcracker (since we're at a new school now) but it was a great experience anyway. Jordan performed with a local dance studio with the youngest class they offer. She and a bunch of other two-year-olds did a great job. I was really worried about the performance for a couple of reasons: 1) She decided not to perform earlier in the day during a church choir performance. 2) Her ballet shoes weren't in her ballet bag for some reason. Luckily she moved into an excited performance mode once we got to the theater and one of her classmates had an extra pair for Jordan to borrow for the performance. (Sigh of relief)

We had so much fun at the show. To add to the experience, our friend Aurora came to watch and brought Jordan three roses. She let Cameron hand them to her and I wish I had the video camera running. Her jaw dropped in shock. Flowers!!! It was a really cool experience to see. The flowers are in her room to enjoy.

Speaking of enjoy. Here's a little edited version of Jordan's performance for you to enjoy:

If you can't see it, you can watch it here.


So much to catch up on.

Here is a picture of Jordan right before she walked into her new school yesterday. She was so excited. I had a new backpack to give her. She spent all morning wearing it and saying: "I'm ready to go to school!" Her first day in the classroom went pretty well. She played with all kinds of new friends and was so happy to tell me a few things about her day.

From what she had to say, she was happy with most kids but one made her sad. She doesn't know everyone's name yet, so when I asked her who made her sad, she just said "somebody." At this point I have a pretty good memory of names for about half of her class. To make it a little tricky, the classroom has many early education college students working with the kids - so that's another set of names I need to learn! With the semester ending soon, I'm guessing many of them are leaving so that's a little less pressure for me! Jordan's new classroom is a great place for her to learn while college students learn from her. It's a great environment and I'm excited that she's there. The teacher-student ratio is just crazy small because of the connection to the university. There's an observation booth to help researchers and instructors learn and teach. I could sneak in and see how things are going if I want to! The coolest part was ending my day yesterday by just walking over to Jordan's school and walking with her to my car in the campus parking garage. That little perk will be hard to let go of when I end my current fellowship and move back to work more often at the TV station.

Before Jordan officially started at her school, she visited a couple of times last week. On Thursday I went in with her and helped teach the kids about her difference so they weren't confused, scared or just under educated about why Jordan is just like them - just with one hand. I had the teacher read Harry, Willy and Carrothead. It's about how one friend had one hand, one friend had red hair and another friend kept making fun of the redhead. We talked about how the teacher needs glasses to see so that doesn't make her strange, she just needs those glasses to help - and that's exactly why Jordan uses a prosthetic arm (I encouraged the name "helper arm"). Jordan didn't wear her arm that day so I could pass it around for the kids to see. They were stunned and amazed. They had a lot of questions, but mostly to me and not her. One kid asked Jordan why she had one hand and she just said "I don't know." I encouraged her to say "That's just how I was born." Either way, Jordan was more excited about having one of her own books read in the class than the fuss kids were making about her difference. She seems completely not shocked, stunned or concerned about the kids asking questions. I made it clear to the kids that it's okay to ask questions, but it isn't okay to grab Jordan's helper arm or little arm without asking. I saw two kids ask Jordan to show her little arm while they were playing and Jordan was kind to show it off. Then they all moved on and played together. I was really happy to see the kids learn a lot and seem really okay with it. Only one little boy kept saying: "Ewwww. Gross!" The teacher said she'd make sure she talks to his moms to make sure they helped him better digest Jordan's difference. I also left behind a book called The Making of My Special Hand. It gets kind of specific on how a little girl had a myoelectric hand made for her. It shows all kinds of examples of hands and what it takes to get one made. The teacher thinks her more scientific kids will really enjoy that one.

On Jordan's last day at her old school, I got weepy. It's hard to walk away from somewhere you've spent so much time with. I'd have one or both kids in that school for the last five year. Five years. That's the longest I've lived anywhere in my life! Now I've lived here for five and a half years with not plans of moving away. It's a great feeling. But that long connection means it was much harder to leave. Of course, Jordan didn't seem to mind at all. She spent all day Friday telling everyone it was her last day of school. She wasn't sad, she was excited.

Over the weekend, we were VERY lucky to have a visit from my aunt and uncle. I love them both a ton and it's so great to have the kids have fun and play with them. They spent a lot of time playing board games - including Monopoly. I caught a really cool moment when Jordan was sitting on my Aunt Jan's lap trying to roll the dice with BOTH hands. It was so cute. It was also special to be able to have time that was quiet, calm and not as stressful as the last month or so has been with all of my travel and deadlines. It has clearly affected the kids - they're even more stubborn and having a tough time with the word "no." Traditional stuff after a lot of grandparent time. I'll get them back to normal just in time to get spoiled for the holidays. That's okay. It comes with the job of parent. As my mom said: Four steps forward, and one step back. Exhausting kids or not, it was awesome to simply hang out, play games and have fun with my aunt and uncle. Plus, I spent so much time cleaning my house, there is a less stressful feel to it. We'll see how long I can make that last!


Preparing for a new school

Jordan and I had her first transition time at her new school today... and for some reason, I wasn't prepared to help teach the class about Jordan's difference. I bought books a year ago. I've saved dozens of accounts from other parents what they did when they brought their child to a new school. But for some reason I didn't think I'd have to work on this presentation to little kids until elementary school. I guess it's just because I didn't really plan to move her to a new school -- the waiting list to get into her new preschool is very long. I didn't see us moving there. I'm thrilled but a little nervous. I want to make sure these kids learn about Jordan, talk about it and move on once they feel informed enough.

So tomorrow I'm taking Jordan to the school after dance class. I'm going to read a book called Harry, Willy and Carrothead. It shows kids how some people stare and say things because of a missing arm and others get it because of the color of their hair. I think we may also talk about how the main teacher in the classroom has glasses and that's how we consider Jordan's prosthetic. It's helpful! Glasses help you see. A prosthetic help you hold onto things and pick things up and even help you from falling! I hope it goes well.

The kids in the classroom were just noticing Jordan's difference - we wore the bouncy hand. Jordan let the small set of kids touch her arm and she didn't mind. But the greatest thing is the kids stopped asking questions when we told them that I'll be back tomorrow to tell them more about Jordan.