Wednesday, August 14, 2013

COLD at the County Fair

County fair time in Western Kansas--one of the staples of summer.  One that my children look forward to every year and start planning for their fair entries long in advance and look forward to the carnival for weeks.  Fair time includes time to see livestock up close and eat tons of "fair" food like funnel cakes.  Not exactly the healthiest in the world,  but fun once in a while anyway.  Typically, the fair involves surviving unbearable heat which you just survive for the fun of the fair.  It is late July/early August in Western Kansas.  It is supposed to be over 100 degrees.  Right???  Not this year.  This year was down-right chilly.  I was in a long sleeves when I had to be outside or just managed some internal shivers.  As you can see from the pics, others were in jackets.  Who would have believed that was the proper attire for the fair?  I was told some were looking for hot chocolate.  Of course, no vendors planned that for Western Kansas in July or August.  :)

My first county fair stop was the Norton County Fair.  I had the privilege to announce the winner of the Youth Division of the Norton Idol (check upcoming post for more details).  I was chilly, but just glad the forecast rain managed to hold off at least until the Idol was over.  The next night, after a  thrown together reunion dinner with my classmates, I was out at the fair again.  I only talked to a few people since I didn't stay long because it just kept getting colder and colder.  But, I did get to have some great conversations and even got to talk about my service dog to a Nortonite looking for a dog for his son.  What great opportunities I am having this year.  :)
Talking about my service dog at the Norton County Fair
Next stop was the Trego County Fair.  I was excited to have a table in the Commercial Building with my Ms. Wheelchair displays set up.  I got to talk to tons of people throughout the week and loved sharing about this program.  I was especially excited that there is now a bar in the wheelchair accessible stall in the restroom at the Commercial Building.  Without that, I would never have been able to spend hours at the fair each day sharing about Ms. Wheelchair Kansas.  I even had the opportunity to travel around the fair and pass out my business card.  Hopefully, I made some connections that will result in appearances.  :)

The Trego County Fair Parade was something I looked forward to all week.  My creative husband had a float design all worked out and one of my sponsors, W. W. Drilling, let us borrow a trailer.  Eric worked hard on float design and painting the backdrop of the float to match the parade theme:  "103 Years of Cheers, Steers, and Volunteers."  The weather has been cold and rainy so there was no putting the float together until the very last minute.   And, there was bad news.  We woke up to rain and drizzle.  So, that meant last minute changes and nixing the streamers.  I didn't really want tie dyed pink and blue from dripping streamers.  :)  I'm just thankful it wasn't raining hard while the parade was happening and that we could return unopened packages of streamers later.  My family all rode the float or pick-up with me and proudly donned their Ms. Wheelchair America t-shirts.  I'm so lucky to have such support.  The kids threw out every last piece of candy in our supply.  Good thing Grandpa was at the fair collecting candy for them.  :)

Thanksgiving for today:
Finding lost items before the trash man comes
Stitch removal
Ready for school
Cleaned out storage room
Themed t-shirts
Focus on the Family

"Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you."
                      Eileen Caddy

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Giving Back

When asked about the best event from Ms. Wheelchair America, I always mention these two--the MWA Princess Tea and our visit to TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehab Hospital.  I love the title of Ms. Wheelchair Kansas and I had a great week in Houston at Ms. Wheelchair America with all the other state titleholders.  This is not about the glitz and glam of a beauty pageant.  This is about advocacy and education.  This title comes with an awesome responsibility to "advocate, educate, and empower."  And, I believe it comes with an awesome responsibility to give back.  I was so thrilled we had the opportunity to do just that.  

After an amazing day at the museum, starting the process of forming connections and getting to know each other, we returned to the hotel for an awesome opportunity--the chance to attend the MWA Princess Tea hosted by Little Miss Wheelchair Texas and a chance to sign autographs for the princesses at the tea.  What an amazing group of girls.  After getting a chance to talk to them and learn their stories and see their beautiful smiles, I wish I had an autograph book for them to sign.  :)  They are all princesses and will light up the world someday.  It will be fun to say, "I knew them before  . . ."  Maybe there is a future Ms. Wheelchair America in that bunch.  

The other "giving back" event was an optional trip to TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehab hospital on the morning of the crowning ceremony.  It was an adventure to get all the wheelchairs and companions loaded onto wheelchair accessible vans and transported from the hotel to the hospital, but it was worth every second.  And, the hospital bus drivers did an amazing job.  The rehab facility works with patients with spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.  We all got to introduce ourselves and take a few questions (there weren't many).  The best part was just getting to talk to the patients and even play a little bit of balloon volleyball.  :)  I learned something about myself.  I am much better in small group setting where I can have conversations with people instead of standing before people speaking to a large group.  I prefer one on one connections.  I am especially happy that I had a chance to talk to a woman who was a couple of weeks new to the wheelchair world.  We got to talk about what helped with my transition and I got to emphasize the importance of faith, family, and friends.  What a blessing to be able to give back.  This is the best part of being a state titleholder.

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Thanksgiving for today:
Alarm Clock
Finding money in pocket before jeans went in washing machine
Finalizing school list
School lunch ideas

"Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation."
                                       Brian Tracy

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Princess Without Her Puppy

In honor of International Assistance Dog Week, I thought I would write a post about my sweet dog and his Ms. Wheelchair America experience.  He got to have a working vacation while I was in Houston. The day before I headed out, we took AJ to KSDS where he would spend the week and a half I was gone with his trainer at the training facility where he lived before I took him home with me.  He was not a bit happy about being left and it broke my heart to hear him whine, but I consoled myself with the fact that he would be fine.

That night was horrible for me and I just had to convince myself that when I wasn't in my home, staring at his stuff, I would miss him less.  Well, that was just not true.  We went on our trip and had a couple of days before MWA started.  It really felt like part of me was missing.  

Then, Ms. Wheelchair America began.  Did I miss him less?  NO.  I thought about him all the time, especially when I would see the judge with his dog.  But, do I think I made the right choice leaving him on vacation?  YES!  Our days were so packed full, there was barely enough time to take care of my own personal needs.  I can't imagine taking him down to the main floor and finding a place in downtown Houston for him to take care of his bathroom needs.  Not to mention, there wasn't time or place to let him run and play.  And, I just don't think it would have been very fair to make him work such long days for a week.

So, yes I missed him, but yes, I am sure this was the right decision.  I know he was loved and played with and fed and watered on time.  I'm sure he had a great time even if he did come home with a hoarse bark.  :)  I am also sure that we are well bonded and I missed him terribly.  He is truly my partner and know I fully appreciate just how much this partnership means to me.  We are a team and work best when we are together.  :)  

Thanksgiving for today:
Working technology
Wellness Center
Clean table
Finished project

"Blessed are those who can give without remembering and receive without forgetting."

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Beginning of Relationships

Fun Day arrives.  The day I think we're supposed to spend getting to know each other and just relax and have a good time.  Well, it worked.  We had a great time and not only got to see some amazing things at the museum, but also got to know some amazing women (and amazing companions).  I don't know if it had the same effect for everyone, but I left knowing I had just begun a relationship with an amazing group of women and hoping that relationship would carry on past this week in Texas.  My Ms. Wheelchair sisterhood had just increased exponentially.  Now, no matter where I travel, I have sisters who understand me and I can look them up and know I'll have a great time!

I'm sure we were quite a sight travelling through downtown Houston.  I'm positive we got more than one second look,.  I just hope that led to asking questions and learning more about Ms. Wheelchair America.  :)

 It was time for our group photo.  What a task to arrange all of us and have us looking at the camera at the same time and then add companions and ask the same.  Then, finally add all volunteers and extra family members.  I'm positive we got some second looks all over again,.  :)

The museum is amazing.  I don't have pics from all the exhibits.  Some didn't photograph well, I didn't really want to share my plethera of photos, and some were just downright creepy.  If you want to see mummies, you will have to visit the museum yourselves.  I did see a ton of stuff and learn even more with our handy scavenger hunt provided by our MWA hosts.  :)
Did you know this is the only full Triceratops fossil in the U.S. or was it
the world?  I don't remember.

Wouldn't be a trip to a Texas museum without seeing the ancestor
of the armadillo.  

This was probably my favorite part of the museum.  Getting to touch bugs is always an interesting adventure, but the butterfly habitat took my breath away.  I could have spent all day reading a book and sitting still in that room, letting the butterflies fly all around and occassionally come to rest on my shirt or my lap.  It was an amazing place for coversations with some of these amazing women.  I'm just sorry we waited until last to check it out.  We had to head back to the hotel much earlier than I would have liked.

Find Carrie and Stacy Greenwood

All in all it was a great day.  The kids enjoyed it so much, they had to take Grandpa back when he arrived in Houston.

Thanksgiving for Today:
No need for alarm clocks
Completing school enrollment tasks
Watching excitement about school increase
Cough drops
Dukes of Hazard

"Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life."
                                Christiane Northrup

Friday, August 2, 2013

A View of Each State Board

Here are all our state displays. Which state do you want to go visit?  Not every state had a board, but here are the ones that did.


Washington D.C.
She couldn't be with us because she was in the hospital.
We missed her and wish her well.








North Carolina

New Jersey













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