Thursday, July 25, 2013

Learning at the Library Part 4

Another opportunity to share my platform with another great group of preschoolers.  This time I got to do story time at the Hays Public Library 4 days in a row.  It was such a great experience and I love to read stories and dance with preschoolers.  Each morning started with songs--some with shaker eggs and/or actions.  I love it when the kiddos really follow the story time librarian leader and learn new songs.  They even had me doing the actions along with them.

Doing the Hokey Pokey

Wheels on the Bus

AJ Hiding under the table

I was told the kids would be different each day so I could read the same stories every day.  So, that's what I planned to do.  I would read Mama Zooms and Susan Laughs and then we would take a break to wiggle, dance, and sing a bit.  Then I would finish with The Secret of Saying Thanks and end with a time to ask any questions (they never really had any) and a time to pet AJ if he was willing.  He was willing each day except Tuesday--you can see him hiding under the table.  :)

There were no questions until I had the same kiddos more than once.  The second time around, they came prepared with tons of questions.  We could have spent the entire story time talking and never getting around to reading stories.  :)  But, read we did.  And, by Thursday, I even read Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site instead of The Secret of Saying Thanks since most of them had heard it before.  

I think the moral of the story is when you are reading to preschoolers, be full of energy and ready to wiggle and dance.  And, come back more than once for them to be ready to ask questions.

Thanksgiving for the day:
Pizza Challenge
Figuring out YouTube

"Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude."
A.A. Milne, 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Politics in a Small Town

Meeting Mayor Roy

I finally had the chance to meet the Mayor and attend a City Council Meeting.  The lift was broken when I first took a support letter and a letter about attending a meeting/meeting the mayor to the city office.  Fortunately, they were able to come outside so I could hand deliver my letter.  When I got around to deciding to attend a meeting, it was still broken.  So, I could not attend the meeting that day, but they would move the next meeting to an accessible location so I could attend.  Well, the lift was fixed before the meeting so it was able to be held in the city council meeting room.

I was excited to get to meet the mayor before the meeting and have the chance for a photo op.  I had the opportunity to share about Ms. Wheelchair Kansas, what my platform is all about, and what opportunities I will have this year.  I offered to be available to help them determine what changes need to be made for things to be wheelchair accessible.  We discussed the different entities and who is responsible for accessibility in what areas--city council, county commissioners, fair board, store owners, private homeowners, etc.  This is all still relatively new to me and I am figuring it out as I go along.  I would love WaKeeney to be known as an accessible town.  It's a good thing I gathered resources and met people at Ms. Wheelchair America who can help me figure that all out.  I can't wait for us to learn together and meet the needs of all.

After my presentation time, I stayed for the rest of the meeting and learned a bit about small town politics.  Even if the council members disagreed with each other, they remained polite for the most part.  :)  The new council members are spending their time researching all the council policies and by-laws.  I am thrilled to know that there are those who care about this small town and want to work hard and educate themselves to govern it correctly.   I found out they are currently building a new picnic area in the park.  They even came down to show me the catalog with the accessible picnic tables they had chosen.  Yes, Mayor Roy, my family will be using those.  :)

I will probably not make it to every meeting, but I plan to attend more in the future.  This town is important to me and I would love accessibility to be a consideration of all decisions.

Thankful thoughts for the day:
Sleep Number Bed
New bed sheets
Finding a long enough necklace chain
New friends

"Gratitude is something of which none of us can give too much.  For on the smiles, the thanks we give, our little gestures of appreciation, our neighbors build their philosophy of life."
                                                                             A. J. Cronin


I attended a City Council meeting again after returning from Ms. Wheelchair America.  We discussed the information I had gathered from MWA and what could/should be done in WaKeeney to make it more accessible.  We discussed curb cuts and the need for safe wheelchair access from downtown to both schools and the hospital.  There are current curb cuts along the route between downtown and the grade school.  The curb cuts stop on the way to the high school after you pass the library.  The area around the high school and football field is accessible, but there needs to be safe wheelchair access on the way to the high school.  There was some discussion about sidewalks missing or being impassible and maintenance being the property owner's responsibility.    There was some discussion about how someone is currently researching grant money for sidewalks and if that is available using the grant money to make the main streets to the high school and hospital accessible.  There was also some discussion about the possibility of adding a bike lane to some roads.  I don't know what the final decision will be or what is feasible in this town, but I will keep you updated.  I'm just thankful they were so polite and willing to cheerfully work with me on this issue.

I stayed again after me presentation, and can say some of the politeness went out the window.  There was no yelling, screaming, or name calling, but the room was pretty tense.  I can only hope the tension comes from the council members passion to govern this city correctly and do what is best for this town and its citizens.  I have every confidence that they will work out their differences and come to conclusions that are in the best interest of WaKeeney.

I will probably not make it to every meeting, but I do still plan to attend more in the future.  It will take more than a tense meeting to scare me away.  This town is important to me and I would love accessibility to be a consideration of all decisions.  (When you see the new street signs, pay attention to how much more visible they are to all and especially those with visual impairments)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Preparing For the Party

Besides the excitement of my Ms. Wheelchair Kansas appearances and presentations, my time since the crowning ceremony in March has also included a lot of preparation time for this next week.  The Ms. Wheelchair America competition is in Houston, TX.  I had a lot of paperwork to finish, travel arrangements to make, a Tri-Fold Board to complete, outfits to figure out, etc. 

Well, done or not, I am on my way.  :)  I think it is all done.  I have been packed for about a week, my family got all packed a couple of days ago.  We got to finish up shopping for Cowboy Day earlier this week.  We usually wait and buy the kiddos new boots before school starts, but this year we shopped about a month earlier.  I think Cowboy Day is the theme night the kiddos are most excited about.  Forget the excitement of speech night or the crowning ceremony, Cowboy Day is the most anticipated.  Even I got a hat--you'll have to wait for pictures.

My Tri-Fold display has been mostly done since before the Kansas Sampler Fest.  You  can check it out on that blog post.
 We did make a few last minute additions--again you'll just have to wait for pics.  I'm so thankful my husband helped me out with my display and getting my blog printed out so it will be available for all to see at Ms. Wheelchair America.  I'm pretty excited about all my display elements.  I can't wait for you all to see pics.

This was a crazy week getting everything done, but I think I managed it.  Everything is complete and packed.  I managed to get all my work done for this week and even some for when I am gone.  I had four story hour presentations as Ms. Wheelchair Kansas.  (stay tuned for the blog post about that.)  We had a big trip to take my service dog to spend the week at KSDS.  I miss him already.  I've been working on my speech and had it under the time limit last night.  :)  I even managed to squeeze in two x-ray visits this week for my daughter.  Don't worry.  All is well and nothing is broken.  :)  That would have certainly put a damper on their trip to the gulf.

So, now we're on our way and anticipating the fun and excitement and great things in store this week.  I'll keep you all updated, but it may be after I get home before you get to hear my take on things.  The great news is that no matter what happens next weekend, I will get to spend the rest of my time as Ms. Wheelchair focusing on my platform--either around the state as Ms. Wheelchair Kansas or around the nation as Ms. Wheelchair America.  Whatever will be will be.  We'll just have to wait and see what happens.


Thankful thoughts for today:
MWA Manicure
Packing Complete
Gorgeous, accessible hotel room
Wi-Fi in the hotel
Dried Pineapple

"Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation; you do not find it among gross people."--Samuel Johnson