Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On Becky's List of Things She HAD To Do in NYC...Go to The Today Show

Becky had a blast in New York City! 
She got to actually live her dream!

Becky and her new friends got up very early in the morning to prepare for the big show.  Even though she took a couple of light jackets & a sweater with her, Becky had to bundle up with blankets & other people's coats while she was at The Today Show.  She's used to the warmth of the desert and the dryness of the desert air.  New York City's humidity makes that cold go deep into her body!  
 When they first arrived at Rockefeller Center, there were only a few people they were able to get a good spot in order to see the hosts and anchors of The Today Show.  As more people showed up for the show, they came over to Becky and her friends to greet them.  Becky also makes lots of friends everywhere she goes.  All of the travelers with Hammer Travel had made signs the night before.  Becky's sign said "I Heart U Mom".   

Al Roker came out first and did a weather report. After the report, he came over and talked with Becky and her friends, shaking their hands. Later, more of the hosts and anchors came out and took the time to greet Becky including Matt Lauer and Ann Curry.  When asked who was cuter, Becky said, "Al Roker, he was neat".  Who was the funniest one?  "Matt Lauer".  Who was the nicest one? "Ann Curry".

After the show was over, Becky and some of the other Hammer Travel friends went to the Top of the Rock.  Becky had chosen that as one of the places she wanted to be sure to see.  She was simply blown away with how high she was. In her hometown of Las Cruces, NM the tallest building is 4 stories tall....she could not believe she was 70 stories in the air. Since there is a thick plexiglass wall around the edge of the building, Becky could see all the buildings in Manhattan and down to the street. "It was crazy".  

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Update: Becky's Exploring All Over Manhattan

Becky has been having such an amazing time in NYC! She went to Central Park yesterday and buzzed all around...really enjoying her freedom and independence!  Then she went to the Guggenheim Museum.

After she went to the Today Show this morning, she went to The Top of the Rock!

Tonight Becky and her travel group went to see Wicked and were trying to get autographs after the play was over....I'm looking forward to hearing all about it!

Update: Today Show

Becky got to meet Matt Lauer, Ann Curry and her favorite guy on the show: Al Roker.  They are now on their way to the Top of the Rock!

Tuesday & The Today Show

Becky and her new friends from her travel group and Hammer Travel are visiting The Today Show this morning.  They had to get to Rockefeller Center by 6:30 EST so I'm sure she was awake several hours earlier in order to get ready in time.  Knowing Becky, she was likely squealing as her Hammer Travel staff got her dressed and prepared for the day.
I got up to start watching The Today Show at 7am and was thrilled to see a glimpse of her as the camera panned across the crowd early in the first hour.  She was holding a sign and wearing a pink hat; but what made her easy to spot was her smile! I even heard her trademark squeal!  
Here's a pic of her sign.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pizza in NYC with FDNY on the side

Becky's brother, James Wilkinson, lives in NYC.  He and his girlfriend, Rachel invited Becky and the entire travel group from Hammer Travel to John's Pizzaria on Times Square.   Jim showed Becky how to eat pizza New York-style: folded and it ended up being the easiest and best way she's ever eaten pizza! Guess she's a natural-born New Yorker at heart?  Becky saw margaritas on the menu & yelled out, "I have my i.d.!" lol....she ended up drinking virgin.

Jim, Becky and the entire travel group were walking back to the hotel in the rain and noticed the local fire department had their doors open. They all went inside and were treated to having their pictures taken with the firemen and trucks.  Jim reported there was lots of flirting with firemen done by all the ladies of the group.

More to come tomorrow!  It's The Today Show early in the morning! Look for her behind Al Roker!

Becky Is Living Her Dream!!!!!

Becky flew to New York City yesterday...starting her adventure in independence in grand style! 
American Airlines staff were awesome and certainly went the extra mile as they upgraded her flight to first class.  She even got a window seat!

When Becky was a young girl, she had severe scoliosis of her spine. This caused her to sit slumped over to the side and limited her ability to view the world outside the car windows.  When she was 12, she had surgery to place rods in her spine. This was a very complex surgery and she had life-threatening complications during the procedure.  Afterwards, she had to lie flat on her back or on her tummy for six weeks.  Therapy that included stretching and weight bearing followed and was quite painful for her. But of course Becky never complained.
It was finally time to go for her first car ride during the follow up visit to the surgeon.  After going a few blocks down the road, I asked Becky if all the pain and struggle was worth it.  With her trademark huge smile, she squealed, "Yes! Now I can see out the windows!"

So, this week, Becky is looking through all kinds of windows, breaking through the "glass" and embracing the world she's longed to experience.
Thank you to all of you who have given so much of yourselves to help make this happen!

I will be updating the blog often....every time I hear from Becky as she is on her trip.  Pictures and longer stories of her experiences will follow after she gets back home on Friday.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Becky's in New York City!!!!!

I will post all about Becky's trip to New York City with frequent updates starting tomorrow. 

She landed at LaGuardia airport this evening and it's raining...but she's looking forward to meeting her new friends and going out for supper in Manhattan as they get to know each other.
All the details will have to wait though....this Mom is exhausted and has to rest!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Relief for Becky, Thank Goodness!

Happily, we found a way to give Becky relief from her very painful wrist. She is getting more and more exicted about her upcoming trip to New York City every day.  Today we heard from the wonderful people at Hammer Travel as they updated us on the plans while she is in the Big Apple.
I can't talk about all the details yet, but I can assure you, it's going to be a very exciting, very rewarding experience for Miss Becky.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Another Stumble Along the Road

Becky has been having lots of pain in her right wrist.  After going to the orthopedist, we've discovered her scaphoid bone (one of the wrist bones) is displace and causing lots of discomfort. She is such a courageous, patient lady. Becky only complains about the pain in her wrist when it's really bad at the end of the day. Unfortunately, Tylenol isn't relieving the pain and she is unable to take anything stronger or even ibuprofen due to increased liver enzymes in the past.
One of Becky's heroes...Dean Palma, OTR...made her a wrist brace to help relieve some of her pain. Her doctor recommended some pain patches, but Medicaid will not pay for the medicine. Thanks alot, New Mexico budget cuts! 
The orthopedist recommended surgery to fuse her wrist so we have been playing the waiting game with all the different players involved in getting it scheduled.  "No, I haven't gotten a scheduled date yet...I need the referral first." "Yes, our office faxed their office the referral already". "No, we still haven't gotten the referral" "Yes, I'm sure we already faxed it." "Okay, we'll go ahead & make an appointment for the pre-surgery consultation but if we don't have the referral before the consultation, it will be cancelled"  "I just know we have faxed the referral!" 
Luckily, another one of Becky's heroes, her nurse Sarah is going to physically go watch the fax being sent for the surgery referral.  Her surgery will be done in Albuquerque at the UNM hospital...probably some time soon after she gets back from trip to New York City.
Becky was SO worried she would not be able to go to NYC, she is extremely happy to find out the trip is still on! (Her mom was worried too).
Happily, it is all working out.  And here we are in the middle of August....time for Becky to get her monthly visit from her mom!!!!!!  I'll get there on Friday & leave on Monday.  Get ready to party Becky! We have lots to do to get ready for the trip!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hot Summer Fun!!!

Becky and I had a beautiful long weekend!
Becky lives in the desert southwest so we're pretty used to it being hot, but this is ridiculous! We've had temperatures as high as 108 degrees.  But it's a DRY heat :)  Being in a wheelchair makes it more challenging to tolerate the heat for Becky. She can't really adjust her posture or position in her chair on her own. Thank goodness her chair tilts back so she can get some relief from sitting in the same position hours at a time. Can you imagine? What if you had to sit in a chair and never wiggle around, never adjust your legs, arch your back or even adjust how much weight you are putting on your behind?

On Friday, Becky was surprised and excited to have her sister, Corey, and her niece and nephew come from Santa Fe to visit with us. Of course in Becky's world, Friday has been Bowling Day. She meets several of her friends and they train for the Special Olympics bowling tournament. But this time, she had more competition from Miles and Maggie! It was their first time bowling. Grandma did her best to teach them the basics of how to bowl...including the "granny-style" of rolling the ball down the alley.  Maggie was far more interested in the ball return machine but Miles even got a couple of spares! Bowling was followed by going out to eat as a family and were very happy that Becky's roommate and her caregiver joined us as well. We love gathering around a table of food with lots of talking, laughing and the fun of wrangling children. Our family times are our favorite times. Back at the apartment, the kids put on a little performance of singing and dancing, trying their best to get lots of applause from their mom, grandma and auntie. 
Two-year-old Maggie is big enough now to climb up on the wheelchair and snuggle her auntie. Becky hugged her and kissed the top of Maggie's head...she was so happy! Miles is 6 and a half and likes to sit on Becky's lap as she drives the wheelchair. He tries to sneak in a little drive time himself too. Becky was in her hospital-type bed when everyone came to hang out with her. No problem, that just made for more adventures as the kids climbed into the bed and they all took turns going on "rides" moving the back and feet up and down. Corey and the children went back to Santa Fe late that afternoon. It sure did leave a large quiet space behind.

On Sunday, Becky and I had a nice indoor picnic since it was way too hot to be outdoors. The menu included fried chicken and wine coolers. Becky enjoys an adult drink once in a while and is only able to have them when I visit due to company policies of her caregiver staff. That keeps her safe and she doesn't mind since she views having a special drink as one of our special rituals between mother-daughter. So after lunch and a wine cooler, Becky was chillin' as she reclined in her chair. We had such a relaxed visit.  I can hardly wait for our next visit in August! 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

So Much Has Happened!

Since the last time Becky and I blogged, alot of things have happened.

Becky went to Albuquerque last month and competed in the Special Olympics state games.  She won gold medals in both of her wheelchair slalom races!!! She traveled to Albuquerque with a couple of her younger staff persons and spent two nights in a hotel, visiting with her friends and going out to eat at different restaurants. It's always a big treat for Becky and she loves trying new foods.  She's a very adventurous and curious young woman.  Of course, the best part of the trip was the big dance after the olympics were over.  The dance is held under a big tent with a deejay and competitors from across the state of New Mexico.  Becky loves to get there early as possible and has to be one of the last to leave!

Becky's cookbook was completed so she has been selling the cookbooks to her friends, staff & therapy professionals.  The cookbooks are selling for $10 and contain about 16 recipes donated by her care providers, family and friends.  Becky will use the money from the cookbooks for spending money when she goes to New York City.

Becky has also been spending time online researching places she wants to visit during her trip to NYC including Central Park, the Empire State Building, and Broadway.  She has gotten to be an expert at communicating through Skype with me and the rest of her family.  It's been a godsend as a way to stay in touch. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Weekend at Becky's

Becky and I spent a wonderful weekend together again. 
On Thursday evening, I rode the bus from El Paso to Las Cruces which is a short trip of about 30 minutes. Way cheaper to go by bus at $3 rather than driving when gas is so very expensive.  Becky & her caregivers picked me up at a little cafe near the bus stop and we went to her apartment.  Becky and her roommate, Melissa, have made their apartment so nice and homey.  Melissa has 2 parrots that make just enough noise to let you know they are alive. Becky loves the birds too.  So Thursday night was all about catching up on gossip and figuring out what was on the agenda for Friday. Becky and Melissa have become very close and are like sisters.
Becky's house has been designated an "awake" house by her residential care company. That means the staff does chores around the house while the girls sleep i.e. laundry, mopping, cleaning, etc.  That also means that I no longer sleep on Becky's sofa when I crash at her place.  So, I took come cushions off the sofa & made myself a bed on her floor. She was happy because it felt like a slumber party. also felt like my rear end was destined to be on the floor between the cushions. Luckily, one of her staff brought over an air mattress for me on Friday night. 
Friday, Becky went to Sunland Park, NM to the casino with her friends from Dayhab. She was very very excited and determined to win some $$$. And she didn't do to badly. She took $20 and came home with $5....better than I usually do at the casino. 
My agenda on Friday was an appointment with my rheumatologist who has an office .6 miles away from Becky's apartment. I walked the .6 miles...downhill...and was so pleased with myself. Lupus has been rearing it's ugly head lately and I've been taking physical activities very slowly.  I got good news from the new or additional drugs!  WooHoo!
My good friend, Lesley Maguire, took me to the local printing company and we got Becky's Dream Cookbook set up and ready for printing.  It should be ready for her to start selling next week!
Lesley had such a brilliant idea when she came up with the cookbook project.  Thank you so much, Lesley! Becky will use the money from the cookbook for her spending money when she goes to NYC! 
Becky had her regularly scheduled bowling practice for Special Olympics on Friday night and wow, did she do great!  One strike after another!  She made the highest score on her team with a 278.
Saturday I woke up in the middle of a full blown Lupus attack so I stayed in while Becky went grocery shopping & then on her date with Robbie.  Seems that walking .6 miles was too much to ask of my body this time.  So instead of spending Mother's Day with Becky, I had to go back to El Paso where I could take my meds and crawl into bed for a couple of days.  
Becky is so empathic and caring. She called to make sure I was doing better, to see if she could help somehow. She is a stunning example of how people who have many challenges in life are often the ones to extend their helping hand first.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Becky's Going for Her 1st Independent Adventure into the World!

Well, it's happening!

 Becky is going to NYC with the help of Hammer Travel from Oct. 2 - Oct. 6, 2011.  She'll be touring the city with a group of new friends that have various disabilities and several very capable, well trained staff members from Hammer Travel. 
Becky's dream is coming true due to the help of several key people and many other new friends. The donations all began with my nephew, Becky's first cousin, Matthew Roessler. He donated money after reading Becky's blog and got us all excited about the possibilities that we could actually make this adventure happen.  My first cousin, Scott Robison, was very creative & playful in his generous and surprising donations. And the brother of Becky's godfather who passed away years ago, donated to her efforts. One of my very good friends from Field Kindley High School, Lynn Bastian Morrow, made a large donation and encouraged my other friends on Facebook to do the same.  
Becky's brother, James Wilkinson and her sister, Corey Taylor gave large amounts to help their sister in her efforts to be independent....they have never let her down and have always lifted her up!
My heart was moved deeply when a very special friend of mine who also has a chronic illness, Brenda Jones, made a large donation. Her donation was just one of many made by people who have chronic illnesses such as Lupus, Fibromyalgia and MS. It moved us greatly that people with health problems of their own were often the mostly likely to help Becky.  

Then a very special person surprised us all. Rory Albanese, executive producer and writer of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart contacted me and asked for more information about Becky. He then donated the remainder of the amount needed for Becky's New York City trip.  His generosity simply overwhelmed us. Becky has been watching the Daily Show and clips of Mr. Albanese's comedy online every since!  

We are extremely thankful for these people and the many others who have helped us financially, encouraged us with their own efforts, and those who have pledged to continue helping Becky.  Becky is planning on completing her cookbook project and selling the cookbooks so that she'll have spending money when she hits Manhattan!  

Monday, May 2, 2011

Becky's Dream Closer to Coming True

We're so proud of Becky! And the good news is: We made the down payment on her NYC trip this morning! Woo Hoo!

Thank you so much to all the friends, new friends, and family who helped us reach this part of her journey.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

When She Was Small

Becky has an older brother, James, and an older sister, Corey. They have always loved her dearly and admired her determination in life.  I found this picture of them taken when Becky was about 2 years old. She was out of her casts and able to crawl by pulling her body forward with her right arm. Much of Becky's day was spent playing on the floor where she had much more mobility and freedom. Her brother & sister brought her toys and played with her, "chased" her and wrestled with her.  She loved pretending she was a ninja and a Power Puff Girl.  Corey & James started out letting Becky win the games, but as she grew stronger, Becky held her own and had a powerful "karate chop".
I guess she was always a superhero kind of girl!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Connecting with her World

Becky has been having a wonderful time getting her new apartment all organized for her electronic gadgets. Every evening, Becky plays on her computer. she uses a large mouse that is adjusted to her touch. She also has a modified keyboard that is color coded and has larger keys to make things easier for her. Becky helps with writing this blog, monitors it, goes on her Facebook and chats with her friends & family. Becky's sister, Corey, got her set up with a reading program on her computer to improve her reading skills.
 Becky loves listening to music on her computer too. She is very skilled at getting on YouTube and cueing up her favorite singers.  Becky's favorite music to find online includes Elvis Presley, Billy Ray Cyrus and Miley Cyrus. Of course, she's also a humongous Justin Bieber fan! We try to go to concerts pretty often both in Las Cruces and in nearby El Paso. She swooned over Ricky Martin, 'N Sync, and Kenny Chesney.  More recently, Becky rocked out to Kelly Clarkson when she was in Las Cruces.
Becky's tastes in music have always been very eclectic and ranged from Spanish music to country music to rock and roll. She also enjoys listening to gospel music once in a while.  For her birthday, Becky received a CD audiobook of Twilight so that she can read along as she listens to her favorite story. (She's Team Jacob).

Monday, April 25, 2011

"I'm Still Your Baby, Mom"

Becky knows exactly how to melt my heart.
I called her last Thursday to talk with Becky about our Easter plans. After making arrangements for us to go out for dinner, Becky asked me what I was bringing her for a surprise. Even though I suspected what she meant, I pretended to not have a clue. "What kind of surprise?"  
She gave out a huge sigh and explained to me that I needed to bring her an Easter know, a chocolate bunny. I've bought Becky a chocolate Easter bunny every year of her life. Her older brother and sister finally told me they no longer needed chocolate bunnies every Easter a few years back. I guess we all grow up for a while...then we all yearn for the years we got our chocolate bunnies again!
Anyway, I told Becky that she was an adult now...too old for a chocolate bunny. That's when she reminded me:
"I'm still your baby, Mom. I always will be."  Ah, how true. No matter how old my children get, I always have the desire to keep a part of their baby-ness in my heart.
Needless to say, I had to rush to the store.  I got the very last chocolate bunny that still had intact ears. On Easter Sunday, I arrived at Becky's house with the chocolate bunny wrapped in colorful foil. She closed her eyes as I hid it in her room. It took her nearly 30 minutes to find it and when she did, she smiled as if she were about 5 years old again. And even better?...I smiled as if she were 5 years old again too!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bowling, Becky Style!

Becky and I had a wonderful weekend together!
On Friday night, I met Becky at the Sun Lanes bowling alley where she and her Special Olympics bowling team practice every Friday. She is always so proud to show me her latest tricks and skills! Becky bowled a score of 183...which is about 100 points more than I've ever bowled. Becky uses an adaptive ramp when she bowls. She places the bowling ball on the ramp, points it down the alley at the pins she wants to knock down and then pushes the ball down the ramp.  It takes lots of strength, coordination and a better sense of visual perception than I possess!
 Between her turns to bowl, Becky races from one place to another in her electric wheelchair. She goes to catch up on the gossip with one friend, gives another friend a big hug, then goes to give encouragement to yet another friend. She has such a full, happy life. Becky has one friend in particular, Sophia, who just loves helping her. Sophia helps lug the ramp on/off the alley-way. And she finds great pride in allowing Becky to use her personal bowling ball.  It's purple...Becky's favorite color. They both just glow as big smiles spread across their faces when they lift the purple bowling ball onto the ramp.  Then Sophia happily backs away and cheers Becky on as yet another set of pins falls.  Of course, since they are young ladies, there is lots of screaming, high-pitched squealing and giggling. 
After bowling, Becky has the tradition of going out for supper. We always tease her that she is never tired and last night was no exception. She was in the mood to play so after a trip to McDonald's she went home and played on her Wii for hours! No wonder she slept in late the next morning!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Becky's Working for Her 1st Independent Adventure into the World!

Becky has been very busy working on her next fundraising project. She is collecting favorite recipes from her therapists, her caregivers, her friends and family. A wonderful family friend and physical therapist, Leslie Maguire is donating copying and binding services to help create the cookbook. Becky's sister, Corey is providing the composition and illustrations...she is SO creative!

The cookbook will be sold by Becky (and her troop of fundraiser volunteers) to help her raise enough money to go on her first independent adventure...going to New York City!!!!!
She gets more excited with every day that passes! 

***A wonderful benefit of this blog has been that Becky is speaking much more. She used to be pretty quiet during telephone conversations.  Talking with Becky in person used to be alot more challenging because it seemed to be just so much work and effort for her. NOW, Becky talks...ALOT! She is highly motivated to tell us all about her activities during the day and all about her social nightlife. Becky can hardly wait to check out her blog each evening and catch up on her Facebook posts.  She calls me every evening so we can discuss what she wants posted and how to tell her story. ***

So I have to thank you for reading the blog and giving her encouragement. This blog has been passed on and shared by many people, some even in the public arena. Oprah, David Spade & Michael McKean have read her blog.  In fact, when Michael McKean tweeted about Beckys Dream, the blog got over 250 views in a few minutes! We are very grateful to all who spread the word about spreads not only her also spreads her spirit!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blue Ribbon Becky!

Saturday was the Big Day for Becky. She participated in the southern New Mexico regional Special Olympics held in Anthony, New Mexico.
It was such a perfect day for the games! Nice and sunny, but not too hot, we had one of the bluest skies I'd ever seen. Anthony, New Mexico is a very small town half-way between Las Cruces, NM and El Paso, TX. The high school where the games were held is out in the country surrounded by farms & ranches with horses & llamas on one side and fields of grapes & a winery on the other side. Flocks of ducks flew over the football field as I sat on the bleachers waiting for Becky's arrival.  It was quite the picture of the calm before the storm of happy chaos.
Special Olympic athletes are a very happy, raucous bunch of people and their families and caregivers, coaches and organizers are easily infected with that same joy and uninhibited celebration. Nearly everyone has a big smile on their face and you hear laughing, squealing, and excited yelling in every direction. As I arrived, the walking race was going on.  "Go! Faster!....Don't Run! Slow Down!....Go!" On the track, were about a dozen athletes wearing their team tee-shirts, walking as fast as they could...some of them almost breaking into a jog. As they got closer to the finish line, two of them were neck and neck. They finished the race in a tie and hugged each other in pure joy of having finished.
Becky arrived with her caregiver and was already squealing in excitement. She put on the bright turquoise tee-shirt like it was made of gold. She traded her sun hat for her "racing hat" and was ready! We found the staging area & she got acquainted with her competition...a lovely young lady named Lindsey. There are not many people in wheelchairs at the games. There were only 3 in motorized wheelchairs and 1 in a manual chair. One of the motorized wheelchair athletes competed alone in a timed race.
Becky's events were the 25 yard and 50 yard slaloms. She and Lindsey had to spin their chairs around once then take their chairs side to side, maneuvering cones set in their way, completing the slalom was another spin at the end. Becky was SO fast that I was fearful she would tip her chair! She had her chair on high speed and whipped around the cones like a crazy woman! When she was done, she had a very satisfied grin on her face. That grin got even bigger when I told her she scared me.
We made our way to the awards tent and her friends all greeted her with cheers and hugs. Her name was announced and ROTC officers pinned blue ribbons on her shirt. Becky was beaming. She had won first place in both events.
Her boyfriend, Robbie, and several of her other friends showed up to congratulate her & lots of laughing, squealing, and hugging went on. What joy, what pure unadulterated happiness and celebration they expressed! It's contagious and I'm glad I caught it.
Becky will go to Albuquerque with her friends, coaches and caregivers in May for the state Special Olympics. They will be held at the University of New Mexico football stadium. She will be a part of the opening and closing ceremonies, cheer for her friends during their events, complete her own events and then the best part....the Big Dance after the closing ceremonies. I never fail to shed many tears at the ceremonies. But the dance is particularly touching. It always makes me wish we could all enjoy life, enjoy each other, that much!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

She's Cooking Up Something Fun!

Becky LOVES being in the kitchen. She likes being there alone, quiet and sneaky as she opens drawers and snoops, discovering what treasures have been stashed inside.  She's done that since she was a very little girl.  In fact, one of her wonderful, creative doctors recommended that to help Becky's cognitive and fine motor development, we should take drawers and put them on the floor, dump them out and have her put all the stuff back into the drawer.  It was one of Becky's favorite things to do as I cooked or did other household chores.  To make it even more fun, we'd pretend that she had gotten in trouble for making such a mess on the floor and she had to pick it up.  Her brother enjoyed that part of it. Becky would break out in a big grin and happily pick up her "mess".  She used to maneuver her wheelchair up beside a drawer to snoop inside.  But now, in her new wheelchair accessible kitchen, she can wheel right up under the cabinet and pull the drawer out over her lap.  She's in heaven!

Becky also likes to cook. One of her annual goals is to cook more for herself. But, of course, this requires quite a bit of assistance. Her caregivers help her prepare the meals, but encourage Becky to do as much as she can. For instance, her caregiver Claudia held Becky's right arm as Becky sliced through cucumbers with a sharp knife. To be honest, I'm glad I didn't have to witness that as I am afraid of my kids cutting themselves...yes, even my adult kids.  Becky likes to stir pots, set tables, serve food and clear the dirty dishes now that she has full access to the stove, counters & sink.  But, like her mom, her favorite kitchen task is baking. I wonder if that's because we love brownies so much?

Becky's next big project is gathering recipes from her friends, family & caregivers in her life and compiling them into a cookbook. Not only will this give her a wonderful resource for the food she will help prepare, but it will be used as a fundraiser for her trip to New York City!  A very special friend of the family came up with the idea and is donating the copying and binding costs.  Becky is the primary force behind the creation of the cookbook and is very excited about seeing it become a reality.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wheelchair Dancing

Relationships are challenging for most people. Imagine being a young person with special needs; talk about having to work at a relationship!  If you were a young lady with limited mobility, who used a wheelchair and needed help to get in/out of it, how would you go dancing with a date? How would you give a goodnight hug or kiss? If you were a young man who needed someone with him to drive, to manage money, to keep him safe, how would you plan a date? And, how would a special needs couple get any privacy when there are always caregivers with them?  These are just a few of the issues "special couples" have when they date.

Becky has been in a relationship with Robbie for almost two years. Robbie is an attentive, thoughtful young man who is simply nuts about Becky.  He has his devoted mother to provide him with supervision, guidance, assistance with more challenging tasks and who drives him around town. Robbie is quite physically active and loves to swim, bowl and go dancing with Becky.
Tuesdays are usually karaoke nights for Becky and Robbie. They attend the karaoke even put on by the local ARC, where they sing, dance and socialize with their many friends. If you ever get a chance to go to a dance where there are people with special needs, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity.  It warms the heart and could very well make a person shed a few tears to watch the pure joy and love of life that is expressed as they dance.  Robbie has learned to dance with Becky by holding onto her right hand as he sways and twirls. Becky loves to dance and given the extra space needed, will move her wheelchair in time with the music.  Otherwise, she moves her arm side to side and bobs her head in rhythm. Keep on dancing, Becky!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mondays With Becky

When I think about my social life, I think about going out for dinner once in a while, an occasional night listening to live music at a local bar, taking my grandkids to McDonald's for breakfast and meeting my friends for a cold drink.
Becky's social life is much more interesting than mine and it's certainly much busier than mine!
Becky and her friends see each other nearly day as they meet up around town. Most of Becky's friends participate in day hab (day habilitation).  Day hab provides a service that helps Becky and her friends live a richer life by being active in the community. They take her on outings at the parks, shopping, to museums, bowling and many other places. It also provides a comfortable, attractive place for them to meet for lunch, rest breaks and is a respite for cooling off...or warming up.
Becky is starting a reading group at her day hab center, Angelcare. She loves to read, especially her Twilight series of books. Becky chooses the title they will read together and then they take turns reading and discussing the story.
She enjoys attending a "girl's" group at Angelcare where they get their hair fixed, nails painted and experiment with makeup.  Becky likes feeling all prettied up, but what she really likes is the chisme, or gossip, that happens there!

Late this afternoon, Becky has an appointment with her ophthalmologist. Most people do not realize that glaucoma is a common and serious condition that goes along with cerebral palsy.  Becky has glaucoma in both eyes that is being reated with medicated eye drops and close monitoring.

So, that is a typical Monday with, friends and doctors!

UPDATE: Becky's eye appointment went well! No changes in her eye pressures!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Make A Difference

You can Make A Difference in the life of a young lady. That alone is a beautiful concept.
You can Make A Difference in the life of a young lady who has dealt with many challenges that would be entirely too daunting for many people. Now THAT is how you create blessings and good karma for yourself and those around you!

Becky has been the most courageous and positive thinking person I've ever imagined. She has obviously thrived and become a very independent woman despite having cerebral palsy and arthrogryposis, resulting in multiple surgeries, bracing, serial casting, and endless therapy.
But she also has overcome abusive situations, loss of family members who meant so much to her and has built a life with a vibrant social life and a large circle of friends.  Becky's brother & sister are extremely close to her as she has been a source of courage, determination and optimism.
That's why we are working to help Make A Difference in her quality of life!

Friday, April 8, 2011

NYC EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Becky's trip to New York City is going to be quite an adventure! She is going with a small group of people with special needs.  No mama, none of her daily caregivers, no boyfriend.  She said she wanted to be on her own as much as possible...independent!  Families who have a special needs person in their lives will understand why this makes me so very proud; and makes me tear up with gratitude every time we get a step closer to making it happen!

Last night, I went to Las Cruces to visit with Becky.  We talked about the people who have been visiting this blog.  I want to share Becky's reactions with the kind, generous people who have donated to help Becky in her efforts to go to New York City.  
I read the blog entries to Becky and then got on Facebook to read to her some of the responses to the blog, the auction and phone calls I've received.  She was soooooo excited!  Now, if you know Becky, you know the volume and pitch of her squeals of excitement.  If you are just getting to know Becky through this blog, let me try to describe it.
When Becky is happy, she lets loose with a high pitched squeal. It sort of sounds like a noon whistle at a factory...or some kind of exotic bird in the jungles of the Amazon.
It is the sound of pure, unadulterated, uninhibited joy.  
We are always blessed and filled with our own joy when we hear it!  

I let Becky know that because of the generosity of people who care about her, people who respect her character & determination, we have raised $900 of the $3000 she will need in order to achieve her dream trip.  Again, she squealed! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Crazy eBay Auction

I had put a few of my drawings on eBay in order to raise money for Becky's trip.  Some kind soul bid on the drawings early in the week-long auction and then sent me the following message:

I see this picture is only at $.99 right now. Is there a reason its not as high as the other 3 you have listed? Maybe someone spilled grapejuice on it or perhaps its on less expensive paper? Is there any reason I don't have to pay more...I need to! You may contact me....or my agent....expediently please. That means...don't hold up the butter, Chickee!
I was sort of surprised at the message because well, because he sounded like he was kind of a nut. So I sent him a message:
it's a different price because i didn't know it would be more successful to put a reasonable amount like $10 on it or to start low & hope for the best. So you are benefitting from my experiment! I'm trying to raise money for my daughter who has cerebral palsy so she can fulfill her dream of going to NYC. please check out her blog at 
His reply:
Fair enough Babycakes! As long as theres no grapejuice on it! Do you think I will get it for $.99 or am I the only art connosewer on ebay? Connosewer...that means I'm a pro...Sweetcheeks!
Now I was certain he was a nut!  My next message:
Geez, maybe I should look! I'd hate to find out there was grapejuice on it and i lied to you. And I hope you DON'T get it for 99cents!!!!! I hope it goes all the way up to about $99 and you''re the amazing connosewer who knows great art and buys it! And how did you know that I have sweet cheeks?
His reply the next morning:
Good morning Sunshine! Still at $.99! Can you get a friend to run it up a tad. I got $10 on it! While you're at it run up that one with the pretty woman lookin at her hands! But don't go over $xx.00 though cause thats my limit. I got $11 on the other 2 but I'll go increase my limit to $20 each if you ain't so grouchy at me! Let me know, Okay Puddin? I'm gonna go put xx on the 2 with the little girls right now and you go run that one with pretty face up to $9 and see if I'm a lyin...Then you take your pretty little finger and poke that there bid button on the one with the pretty woman lookin at her hands and run it up to around $xx BUT DON'T GO OVER less you wanna buy it! I hope you don't think I'm pullin your leg. I want them there pretty pictures cuz they remind me of someone I love and enjoy havin fun with. Its only a hunnert dollars total I can spend but if it helps you get that little girl to NYC that would make me very happy.Now go bid, bid, bid Snook'ems!  Oh, and I want them signed by the ARTISTE! and make sure you keep the grapefruit juice away from them!
Ok, then I was certain he was a nut that I must know.  I could tell from the info on the website that he was from Oklahoma.  My reply:
morning! Sad to say, I don't have anybody to run up the amounts. But if you feel like you'd like to donate more $ for my fundraising for my daughter, you can do so on the blog I created for her. it's at:
I sure enjoy reading your messages. It's so cool to find someone who gets such a charge out of life! 
His reply:
Can't you get a facebook friend to do it? I see, I mean I guess you have facebook don't you? If they outbid me I'll send you the $xxx.00 I was gonna spend and then another $xx.00 cause I can be a little overbearing and some people say rude and chovenistical (whatever) I don't think so but thats what they say! And if I don't get out bid then I'll send ya something for being a good sport, okay sugar tush?
Sugar tush! Finally, the auction ended and I could see who had purchased the drawings.

Scott Robison you are a scoundrel! Babycakes!!!!! Sweet Cheeks!!!!! 
My cousin Scott is one of the kindest, most loving men I've known.  Thanks, cuz!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Special Olympics Prep

This is a picture of Becky winning the gold medal at the Special Olympics Bowling Tournament!

Going to the Special Olympics is often the highlight of the year for many of the participants as well as their families and the volunteers.  Becky began taking part in the games since she was around 8 years old.  The games provided her with a much-needed sense of independence.  Becky's first night away from me was when she went to the state games in Oklahoma City back in 1992.  She was so happy and so proud! 

Becky used to participate in the softball throw.  Even though the ball always landed just inches away, she squealed with joy and had huge smiles. Of course, her specialty has always been the wheelchair races.  She does sprints & 100 yard dashes but really enjoys the obstacle courses.

After the state games, the biggest event...the event everyone loves the most...happens.  The dance!  

I have to say that there is nothing more joyful in this world than watching the Special Olympic athletes dance.  There is none of the se-conscious awkwardness so common at most dances. They get out on the floor and boogie!  They enjoy the slow dances that allow them to pair up with a special friend. But if you are on the dancefloor when the DJ plays Love Shack or La Bamba, you had better run for cover because they simply cannot be happier or more enthusiastic dancers. 

We found out today that Becky's team is going to have to do some fundraising in order to go to Albuquerque for the state games.  That's really no problem; in fact, Becky LOVES doing fundraising for Special Olympics. It's another opportunity for her to be with her friends and it's a party atmosphere.  This year they are selling tickets for an enchilada dinner.   Because Becky has to be transported in her electric wheelchair, she has to take a big van on the trip to Albuquerque....which means lots more gas.  Plus, because of her physical needs, she has to take along two caregivers to help her get from her chair to bed and vice versa.  So Becky's expenses will be higher than the others as she will be responsible for providing the caregivers with a hotel room.  

Oh well, there are always obstacles that make life challenging, huh?  Guess we'll meet those obstacles like Becky does with everything else...with a huge smile.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Challenges of Being Limited By Your Body

I'm lying in bed with my laptop propped up on my knees...recovering from a very busy day of pushing my body's limits by having a garage sale.  I've been reflecting about how challenging it is to do fundraising projects when a person is limited physically.  It's given me a fresh perspective regarding my amazing daughter, Becky.

You see, I have Lupus; my body's immune system attacks itself and today it thinks it's winning. Lupus makes me have extreme fatigue...what i call "sick tired".  Like too tired to get up from a chair, but too tired to sit in a chair. It also gives me bad episodes of pain, especially when I do alot of walking, lifting boxes of junk at a garage sale.  
But it seems fairly wimpy for me to whine and complain too much.  I mean, if Becky never whines or can I?

Becky was born with cerebral palsy and arthrogryposis.  Arthrogryposis is a connective tissue disorder.  The simple way of explaining it: Becky's muscles were not attached to her bones in the right way and some muscles never even developed as a result.  When she was born, she had 2 dislocated hips which made it impossible to even put a diaper on her at first. Both her knees were unable to be bent and her kneecaps were behind her knees instead of in front. Both of her feet were clubbed with the bones of her feet being all jumbled up, going every which way. Several of her fingers had joints that were fused, unable to bend.  When she was born, she held her fingers in the sign language position of "I love you".  We took it as our first message that she was going to be a strong, loving girl with a determined spirit.  Well, she definitely proved we were right about that!

Becky has had surgeries on both hips, both knees, 2 surgeries on each foot, and surgery to put rods in her spine to correct severe scoliosis.  She wore casts on her legs for long months at a time and by the time she was 6 years old, she had been in casts for a total of half her life.  She endured being stretched after surgeries and would cry, but would then comfort me or the therapist stretching her afterwards.  Becky loved doing her exercises and had to be told to stop or she would exercise too hard & too long.  In one exercise, she would lie on the floor with a horizontal bar placed over her so that she could do "pull-ups".  She would work at it so hard, she had "white knuckles" from the exertion.  
She's always been a very stubborn and determined young lady.  When she had to use a manual wheelchair, she worked & worked at finding a way to make the chair go straight...because she could only use her right hand/arm to make it go. Naturally, it wanted to go in circles but Becky found that if she pushed it forward hard and then pulled it back a bit gently, she could go control which direction she went.  She's always wanted to go her own way, under her own power.

And she's never complained. Never whined. Always assumed that she could do pretty much anything she wanted to do...although she might have to do it in her own special way.  

So I'll take today to rest...I might take several days to rest. But I won't be whining or complaining. (much)  
I had to laugh last night. Becky called me and asked why I sounded sick.  I told her I was just very tired from the garage sale.  She was surprised!  She told me garage sales were easy to have and fun to work.  Compared to crawling the length of a house without using my Becky did...she's right.  Compared to being strapped in a standing frame and having to hold my body erect while also working out my Becky did...she's right.  

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Exhausted, But Happy

Well, the yard sale is over and it was a success!  We raised $176 for Becky's trip to NYC and got rid of alot of stuff we didn't need anymore.  

I am super exhausted so I'm going to take a loooooooong nap.  

Friday, April 1, 2011


We've been getting ready for another big yard sale. It's been a pretty constant pace of gathering and pricing and today will be all about getting it organized, scrounging up tables to put stuff on.  I'm certain that people with wads of money will be on my driveway waiting for the garage doors to open up!

I had a yard sale for Becky about a month ago and raised $250 to go toward her big trip.  We had several big ticket items which made it go faster.  That yard sale was at Becky's old house in Las Cruces, NM.  It couldn't have been timed better as she was moving to her newer, smaller apartment and needed to get rid of extra furniture, etc.

This yard sale is being held in El Paso at my house.  My boyfriend recently moved out of town and donated several items to the sale and my oldest daughter has also put in a bunch of items.  We have enough to almost fill one side of a two-car garage.

This will be my last big fundraising effort that requires actual physical exertion! Since I have Lupus, physical activity is often very challenging for me.  I'm definitely feeling the effects of all the exercise I've gotten getting ready for the sale.  That's how I came up with the idea of using the internet to help me raise $ for Becky.  I can sit and be on the internet all day...or even lie in bed like I am right now!

Wish us luck!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Traveling In Style

The last time Becky went on a long trip was about 10 years ago or so.  We went to visit her grandparents in Oswego, Kansas...about 900+ miles from our home in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  We had a car with plenty of leg room for Becky and could lay the seat way back so she could lie down for most of the trip.
Going to Kansas wasn't bad at all.  She was pretty comfortable and very happy to be out on the road.  Becky has always enjoyed going for short road trips with her family. Of course, it was much easier when she was smaller and used a folding wheelchair.  The trip back from Kansas was much harder on Becky's body because her skin was just not able to tolerate sitting for so many hours at a time.  Even though we stopped and changed her position every few hours, even though we shifted her weight in the car seat every few minutes, Becky developed a pressure sore.  
Pressure sores are very very painful.  And what shows up as  pin-point sore on her skin is much much bigger under the surface.  Becky cried all the way from Amarillo, TX to Las Cruces, NM.  Poor girl was in so much pain and unable to find a position where she didn't hurt.
When we got home, we got her in bed and kept her off her back...but, it took weeks for her sore to heal. That was when we decided it was simply not possible for her family to take her on any more road trips.  
As time passed, Becky's mother developed Lupus and was no longer able to lift Becky in order to provide her personal care or get her in/out of a car/van.  Becky's family is very grateful to the staff of Lessons of Life who provide for her care and take Becky out and about in her community.

A few weeks ago, Angel Care of Las Cruces sent Becky's family an e-mail telling them about a company that specializes in taking people with special need on destination vacations.

Hammer Travel company will provide Becky with transportation on her trip to NYC.  She will fly to Minnesota and meet up with other disabled individuals who will be joining her on her trip. Then they will all fly to NYC.  While in NYC, the company will be responsible for all transportation, using the paratransit system, taxicabs, etc.   She'll be able to get out of her wheelchair and rest as much as she needs in order to stay healthy.  As her family, it puts our minds at rest knowing that she'll be able to enjoy a trip and not have to suffer any health consequences.  Because of all the help she'll receive, Becky will be able to take her electric wheelchair on her trip.  She'll be more comfortable and independent using her own chair.  
The Hammer Travel staff use a 1:4 ratio so Becky will get plenty of attention to her needs...and they have promised that if her needs are for more attention, they will make those arrangements too!

Of course, using the services of Hammer Travel is not cheap.  It will cost quite a bit of money for Becky to be able to go on vacation.  Becky is a very determined young lady and has said she will work for the money.  But her ability to do fundraising is pretty limited by her physical challenges.  So, her family is working with her...for make her dreams come true.   We sure could use your help, though!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Special Olympics

Becky is "in training" for Special Olympics again!  

Becky is going to be in the wheelchair races again this year.  The regional games are in Anthony, New Mexico April 16 and the state games in Albuquerque are the weekend of May 21. 

For now, Becky goes to the track two times a week and practices staying between the lines as she runs her wheelchair on high speed.  She loves being with her friends as they practice for their events.  Becky is the only person in a wheelchair at practice so she has to be very independent and highly motivated to keep at it.  But she never complains about anything.  She works through the bright sun, the heat and gets the job done!

Here are some pics of her at Special Olympics last year.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Today Show

When Becky was a little girl, she LOVED watching the Today Show.  While we were busy getting ready for school or work, Becky would watch the news.  She was a big fan of Katie Couric and Willard Scott. When Al Roker replaced Willard, she would talk about missing Willard, but eventually Al won her heart as well.  Becky's favorite part was watching the weather.

Becky watched intently as they discussed whether it would be rainy, sunny or if there would be any storm warnings that day.  Then as we went out the door to start our day, she would give me the weather update:  "Looks like:  sunny, warm" or "Looks like: rainy".

She would often tell me how she wanted to go to New York City so she could be with all the people standing outside in that weather, waiting to talk with Katie or Willard/Al.  She wanted to see the tall buildings, see how television shows were made, go shopping.

These days, Becky still enjoys watching the Today Show and has become just as attached to Meredith, Matt & Natalie.  I can just picture her in her chair, holding a sign saying hello to her friends at Angel Care, braving a cold, crisp morning with a huge grin on her face! Maybe she could even meet an actor or two!

Monday, March 28, 2011

What is Becky's Dream?

This blog is dedicated to helping my daughter, Becky, fulfill her dream of going to New York City for her first real vacation.  I will be posting information about what she is planning, how she is hoping to pay for the trip and of course, what adventures she has while in NYC.

Becky was born with Cerebral Palsy and Arthrogryposis.  As a result, she cannot move her legs and has full function of only one arm/hand.  Becky uses an electric wheelchair for her mobility.  This makes her have challenges and obstacles when she wants to do things other people take for granted.

Becky has always wanted to go to NYC to do the typical shopping, sight-seeing and Broadway experience that most young people want to have.  She especially wants to go to 30 Rockefeller to watch the Today Show.  More about that later!

Fortunately, we have located a company that specializes in providing personal care, transportation, and serve as assistants as they help her through every step of her dream vacation to NYC!   Of course, this is a very expensive service.  So I am actively working very hard to help Becky raise money for her trip.