January 31, 2012

Got Play??

This post took 8 months to complete and I am finally excited to say that the first Universally Accessible Playground in LCPS is about to be built!

I finished fundraising and just signed the contract.  I have spent the past 8 months writing grants, grants and more grants, meeting with politicos, fundraising, event planning, pounding the pavement, etc.  The generous support has been overwhelming.

Grants the Building Bridges Project has been awarded:

• $60,000 Anonymous Founder’s Grant
• $11,000 Himmelfarb Foundation
• $10,000 Bloomfield Foundation
• $5,000 Baker & Hostetler Fund
• $5,000 The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
• $4,000 Loudoun County Board of Supervisors
• $3,500 The Home Depot Foundation
• $2,000 Mosaic ATM Grant

• $1,500 CVS Caremark Foundation
• $1,000 Walmart Foundation
• $1,000 Middleburg Bank Grant
• $1,000 Northwest Federal Credit Union Foundation
• $500 INOVA Loudoun Hospital Grant
• $500 Reston Town Center Pediatrics Grant
• $300 Loudoun Education Foundation
$106,300 Total Grants

Donations from businesses and individual supporters outside the school: $5046
Donations from Families INSIDE the School$1641

Add to that our 3k Buddy Up and Go Fundraiser, "Got Shade" campaign within the school, some other fundraising initiatives, other donations and a PTA contribution and we got one super fun accessible playground that with donated services and materials totaled
over $180,000!

So come on out an join us at the Building Bridges Playground in April:) :)

I am exhausted, excited, and humbled.  I have learned so much in this experience. 

I have learned the power of a few supporting words and the power of a few negative ones. 

I have learned that comfort zones get you no where. 

I have learned there are so many out there that truly love these special children around us and feeling that has been such a boost to me personally in this journey. 

I have learned how healthy this has been for my 3 older children who have owned this initiative and they have been so proud to help make the world a better place for children with special needs -- for whom they personally advocate and champion every one that they have met. 

I have learned of the workings of the Spirit in my own life and the lives of others.  I have learned that God loves these special little ones and cares about every aspect of their lives - even something as superficial as play.  And He also cares about the ones that care for them.

I have learned that I can survive and possibly thrive in this journey.

I hope to learn that a trip to Bermuda can restore all that one has lost in learning the above.

Bermuda anyone?

January 08, 2012

What Goes Up. . .

. . . must come down.  But there is no guarantee that it will be able to get back up again.
I surprised the kids and checked them out of school to take them to a trampoline arena.  That put me right up them in super-mom status to them (unfortunately, that ranking didn't hold for long when I still force-fed them their broccoli at dinner).  Trampolines everywhere -- even off the walls, and an afternoon of killer fun for the kids - with an emphasis on killer.

The attendant first had us walk single file down the side supports to the center of the arena where he explained the rules.  I held Bridger's little body upright and together we followed the attendant - me and the 15 other under 4'2" kids.  I stood out just a little.  Then the attendant started bouncing around showing tricks that you could do.  Bridger had no idea what a trampoline was or what he was standing on.  So when the attendant started flipping around, Bridger started flipping out.  Full body. Full power of voice.  Flip out.  He was beyond excited.

We had a great time.  I held Bridger's little body and we bounced and bounced with the others.  By the end, Lance was lathered in a full sweat.  Sadie was all shades of purple.  Eva was exhausted.  Eliza was lost in the foam pit with the attendant doing search and rescue to bring her back to the surface.  Bridger was still flipping out.  I had years taken off my life (not the kind that makes you more youthful - but the kind that accelerates your time to the grave).

The entire week following, I couldn't get out of bed.  I couldn't bend over to tie my shoes, I couldn't raise my arms to put in my ponytail.  Each time I would sit on the floor to change one of my 17 daily diapers I could not get up again.

I hurt.  This journey hurts.  I have been seeing lots of doctors for a condition that is causing degeneration in my lower spine.  I learned last Friday that because of this my body has compensated for the back pain and I now have arthritis in my hip.  When the doctor told me, all that I kept thinking was that was a very geriatric thing to say.  Bridger is the equivalent weight of a large bag of mulch.  So consider yourself having to carry a fLoPpInG, ThRAshIng, WiGGliNg, bag of mulch every where you go.  That is the best analogy I can give it.  But, since I don't have a choice or a say in the matter, I just keep on hauling, lifting, bending, hoisting equipment here and there and hoping that people understand why I just am a little grumpy sometimes.  I hurt. 
It's all part of the job.  I job that I love and wouldn't trade for the world.  I just need another soak in my wonderful tub with my favorite Fudge Cake bubble bath and I can get through tomorrow.  maybe.  But I have sworn off trampolines forever.