Welcome To The Playground

I’ve often been told I should write a book. Since I’m not a book reader I certainly don’t feel qualified to write a book. But…. I do love to write almost as much as I love to talk so this little blog will be a great place for me to share reminders with myself. Reminders of lessons I’ve learned as a result of my own imperfections, reflections of kindness that I need to cherish, moments of raw emotion that come with living life. More than anything I mostly want to reflect on those precious moments of Kindness, Grace and Acceptance. As I play on the playground of life I find myself in a constant state of needing to both give and receive Kindness. Grace and Acceptance. This blog is dedicated to me, that I might become a better playmate on the playground. My hope is that I will seek to accept imperfections in myself and others and humbly offer Kindness, Grace and Acceptance in the process. And If I don’t… please feel free to hang me upside down from the monkey bars until my face turns purple.

Let the fun begin!

dee

mouse

International Dwarfism Awreness Day….Dear Mr. President

An open letter to the President of the United States of America:

Today is International Dwarfism Awareness Day and last night I am learned that you have yet again made a personal attack on a person based on their stature. This is not the first time in the last year I have seen this happen. On coutless occasions you have mocked the stature of people. Mr. Trump, may I remind you that people choose their politics but they do not choose their stature.

Today, as part of Dwarfism Awareness Day, I will spend my day on the campus of my grandson’s middle school and use my voice to speak about the life of people with dwarfism. I will have people from the Little People community stand with me to help inspire 6-8th graders and their educators to be kind, respectful and inclusive. This, Mr. Trump, is a lesson you need to learn.

You need to learn about dwarfism, about acceptance, about the difficulties people with short stature face. Tomorrow I will stand tall on behalf of my grandson with dwarfism. This is a continuation of the advocay I do on a daily basis. I advocate daily because it’s needed. Because society still views short stature as an acceptable form of discrimination and you, Mr. Trump, fuel this discrimination. I advocate for Ayden’s future. I advocate for the future of all little people.

Today on International Dwarfism Awareness Day, I will use my voice to help drown yours out. I will attempt to offset the height bias you frequently display. Donald Trump, your words are harmful to far more than just those individuals your insults are directed at. You are showing the world that disrespecting a person based on thier stature is acceptable behavior. I am confident that in your arrogance, you will continue on with your disrespectul words. I want you to know that as long as you do, I will continue to act as a counterbalance to use my voice to speak kindness and accptance.

Happy International Dwarfism Awareness Day. Wear Green, Share Acceptance and Speak Kindness.

Deana Harris, American Citizen
#LoveALittle #TeamAyden #BeKind

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How To Save A Life ~ My Life Transformed By A Little Person

My life transformed by a little person….

What you are about to read is a topic I seldom speak of and yet it is a moment of profound growth and a memory I need to revisit more often as difficult as it might be….
There was a time when Ayden had a lengthy hospital stay. Nearly the entire duration of his stay he had a sweet roommate whom we will call Jake. Jake came into this world early as a result of domestic violence. His preemie body had been ravaged by infection that destroyed his intestines. The lV nourishment that kept him alive was slowly destroying his liver. He was patiently waiting for a liver and intestine transplant. Jake was accompanied by his momma a native of Louisiana who had made her way to Ft. Lewis with her husband (who was no longer in the picture due to his violence) and by his Meme who had come out to support her daughter and grandson. So for weeks on end Ayden’s room was filled with two sweet boys (only a couple months apart in age), two mommas, a DeeDee and a Meme. We all bonded and shared many long nights, great laughs and serious moments. After some time, Ayden mended and headed home but Jake stayed at Children’s waiting and waiting for his much needed transplant. Time went by and Ayden had a spell that caused him to have a return admit to the hospital. After a long evening in the ER we finally arrived to his room on the floor in the middle of the night. Ayden’s nurse that night had been assigned to him previously during the Ayden and Jake show and she knew of our bond. She promptly checked in with Jake’s momma and Meme to get authorization to share with us what was going on with Jake. We were informed that Jake’s condition had deteriorated rapidly and he was not expected to hang on much longer. We were stunned and heartbroken by this news. We settled in to get some sleep. In the morning the nurse came in to tell me that Meme had asked if I would come sit with her as they were going to take sweet Jake off his life support and she would like a hand to hold.

As I entered Jake’s room in the ICU I was stunned by the vast myriad of IV poles and lines. There were pumps and alarms everywhere. The room was somber as I quietly hugged Jake’s momma and Meme. There was not even a fraction of an inch between Meme and me as we sat together hand in hand and watched as each line, tube and monitor was methodically removed from sweet Jake. It was the first time in all the months we’d known him that he was free from the trappings of his illness. They wrapped Jake in a fuzzy blanket and handed him to his momma who rocked him and sang to him as he got his angel wings. Just after he met Jesus, I watched a tear fall from his momma’s face and land on his cheek. It was the most heart wrenching moment I have ever experienced in my life and yet, it was sweet and peaceful at the same time. Baby Jake passed away one week after his first birthday still waiting for a transplant.

My lesson because of Ayden… life is fragile and short and scary and sad. There are babies, kids, teens and adults in need of life saving transplants. Many, like Jake die waiting for a match. I am a registered organ donor. I don’t want to be buried with a single part that can help improve the quality of life for someone else. We can even be living donors. Liver, kidney, bone marrow can all be life saving while we are still alive.

My words of encouragement for you…. Please register to be an organ donor. Register to be bone marrow donor or cord blood donor. You could literally save a life. What if Jake was your child?

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Outside Our Comfort Zone ~ My Life Transformed by a Little Person

My life transformed by a little person…..
Our fist LPA national conference was in Seattle when Ayden was just barely a year old. I remember sitting in a chair in the foyer of the SeaTac Double Tree hotel watching Amy Roloff being inundated by people asking to take her picture and get her autograph. I observed her be kind and gracious as she honored the wishes of those who were making requests of her. At the time, the Little People Big World show was in the height of it’s glory and everyone knew of the Roloff family. As I continued to observe, there came a break in the line of people waiting to submit their requests. With Ayden in my arms I approached her, went down on my knee and introduced her to Ayden, the reason we were at the LPA event. I told her I did not want anything from her such as a picture or an autograph. All I wanted was to simply thank her. How on earth could I ever ask anything from her when she had given us so much already? And How do you thank someone who turned their life upside down to make yours easier? When we got Ayden’s diagnosis, we already had a glimpse of what his future would look like because the Roloffs gave us that view. When we shared with family, friends and curious strangers about Ayden’s condition, it was so easy to simply say, he has the same dwarfism as the mom and son on the LPBW tv show. The ease this brought us was priceless. At that time we were still learning how to share him with the world and the Roloff family made it so easy. What a beautiful gift they gave us. To this day, some of the best guidance I have ever received has been from Amy Roloff. She is a beautiful, Godly, gracious and kind woman who walked way out of her comfort zone and we are the benefactors.

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My lesson from Ayden…. It is when we step outside our comfort zone that we often create the greatest change and have the most impact. The greatest gifts we can give are, at times, the ones that have the highest level of sacrifice on our part. And often…. we may not even realize the impact we have made. We don’t all have the opportunity to be on television but there are so many opportunities to extend ourselves to benefit others if only we are willing. I am thankful for the opportunities I have had to speak, share, coach, mentor and be able to extend myself… especially when it isn’t easy.

My words of encouragement to you…. Be a voice, give of yourself, make a difference even if it’s uncomfortable. You may never know the life you might change.

Intent vs. Content ~ My Life Transformed by a Little Person

My Life Transformed By A Little Person….

There was a time when one of the employees of our company nearly walked off the job because of a comment I made. The employee was responsible for inventory management and there was a point in time when we had 7 switches missing from our parts inventory. Of course, that employee wasn’t blamed for the missing items but she takes great pride and ownership in her job and I’m sure she was troubled by the discrepancy. Just a short time later this same employee was experiencing some health issues that required a CT scan. Her ongoing health issue had been of concern to her and in retrospect I can only imagine her worry about the test she had just learned she needed to have. She sent me a text message letting me know she was going to be gone from the office longer than expected because she was being sent to have a CT scan. I admit that I am often at a loss for words when there is a time of worry, grief or loss. I use humor to try to lighten the mood because consoling is not my strong suit. With that being said, my response to the text was “maybe they’ll find the missing switches”. To this day I stand by the fact that I was trying to keep things light hearted but to her… I’m sure I was the epitome of rude and despite my intent, a huge apology was in order.

Often interpersonal communications and life circumstances are left up to individual interpretation. This is a discussion we often have with Ayden. We discuss how there are people who might use terminology that isn’t exactly PC, they may stumble over words or not ask questions in quite the right way. For those people we need to look at intent vs content. Often content that innocently comes from someone’s heart is easily misinterpreted as malice. When, in fact, the malice is actually manufactured in our own head.

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My lesson from Ayden….There are two sides to this content vs. intent lesson…

My own content…. It’s so important for me to stop and really evaluate what I say before I say it. It’s so important to look at all sides and then choose my words carefully. Especially me who clearly has a very small and often clogged filter that runs from my brain to my mouth. I need to ask myself how I might be perceived and proceed accordingly.

The intent of others….As I have lived the day in day out with Ayden I have learned so much and developed empathy on a profound level. But at the end of the day, I will never know what it’s like to be a little person. I have learned, from those who mentor me from the LPA community, that us average height people who love a little person are often more offended than the little person them self. Some days I just need to take a step back and remember that the world isn’t out to get Ayden. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. His community is supportive, his friends are kind, his school is gracious and his village is beyond amazing.

My words of encouragement for you…. Use kind words, play nice on the playground of life and freely tell me if my content overshadows my intent.

Cheering Them On! My Life Transformed By A Little Person

I was a cheerleading coach for 11 years. When Ayden joined our family he stirred my heart to create a special needs competition cheer team. With the help of some incredible young ladies from my senior team, the donation of gym time from a local gym and the trust of a wonderful group of parents, the Evergreen Shooting Stars Cheerleading team was born. I can honestly say that my time as the coach of this team was one of the most rewarding times of my life. When I began coaching this team I had no idea what I was about to learn.

My lesson from Ayden…. Never ever EVER underestimate the abilities of any special needs person. When I began coaching this team it became very apparent right away that I had done just that… underestimated. Within a very short period of time, I adjusted my coaching plan to coach this team exactly the same way I did the senior team. My goal was to find their strengths, develop their weakness, help them develop confidence and to respect their coaches and team mates. The growth that took place was on three levels… 

Me as a coach… I was empowered by the strength and determination of the kids. Just like any other cheerleader, I watched them take on challenges, overcome them and be ready to take on the next challenge. 

Our peer model volunteers… I watched a group of young ladies who arrived at the gym at 8:00 every Saturday morning to volunteer to peer model this team. I watched each of them exude with kindness, firmness, compassion, sincere love and respect. 

And the team… I watched them develop confidence, discipline and have great joy as they cheered on the stage in front of thousands of people. It was pure joy!

My words of encouragement for you…. Volunteer! Make time to extend yourself in some way to those who need you. I promise you will get far more than you give. If you can, create an opportunity. Three of these cheerleaders went on to cheer for their high school cheer teams because they had coaches with hearts that were willing to create opportunity. Ayden had the time of his life playing baseball because North Bothell Little League created an opportunity for him. And one of these team members was recently turned away from working at a local pet lodge because of their unwillingness to create opportunity for a young lady who is the most dedicated animal lover I know. It’s unfortunate that those pets will never have the opportunity to be cared for by such a passionate soul simply because of unwillingness.

I miss these kids all the time and am forever a better person because of the three years I got to spend with them.

Here’s a link to view a video of this incredible team performing.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fkonnie.drews%2Fvideos%2F10151807833757119%2F&show_text=0&width=560” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Evergreen Shooting Stars Cheer Performance Video

To Katie Koons, Jessica Elliott, Courtney Christie, Shelby Knisley, Keely Hajek, Marissa Rene Boswell, Kendra Vaughan, Kelsey Collison. Rebecca Nylin, Cassie Harris, Kayla Marie Nilson, Sydney Smith, Jenna Jackson, Alyssa Johnson, Allie Baker, and Alexis Constatine ….  You all have remained a shining star to me. Your heart and dedication was beyond measure. Thank you for the gift you gave of standing beside this team to help them create a memory.

My Life Transformed By A Little Person

October is Dwarfism Awareness and Acceptance Month 

Historically I have shared facts and information about dwarfism during the month of October. Two years ago I decided to take a different approach to October, I did a series called “My Life Transformed by a Little Person”. It’s a soul rendering of how the addition of Ayden to our family has completely transformed my life for the better. It humbly and honestly shared mistakes I’ve made and lessons I’ve learned. I’m looking forward to re-sharing this series via my blog. So here we go!

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My journey began on Memorial Day 2006 when I visited the QFC grocery store in Canyon Park for the first time. We had moved into our new house over the weekend and it was time to stock the frig and cupboards of our new house on the hill. My shopping trip was nearly complete when I turned the corner and made my way into the cheese department. I instantly made contact with a cute “little” boy sitting in the cart being pushed by his mom. So clear in my memory is the look he gave me as he held up his little arms to show me the package of cheese he had clenched in his hands. Without saying a word, his eyes told me “look I have cheese!” I waved, winked and smiled at this little boy who instantly made his way into my heart. I went home from the store and immediately shared with my family the encounter I had with the adorable boy with dwarfism.

Fast forward less than 24 short hours where we sat with my daughter in the obstetrician’s office where we learned that the baby she was carrying would be born with dwarfism. Oddly, I wasn’t concerned about him being little but only that he would be healthy. Because, after all, just the day before my heart had been stolen by a little boy I didn’t even know.

I believe with all my heart that on that Memorial Day, it was divine intervention that led me to the cheese aisle. I was meant to be there at the very same moment my cheese loving friend was there. God used that kiddo to prepare my heart for the news we were about to receive.

That young man is now Ayden’s great friend and his family is a wonderful mentor to us.

I learned that day that if I had turned an eye or dismissed that child because he was different, I would have been robbed of a huge blessing in my life.

Ayden’s first lesson for me, before he ever even arrived on this earth was how important it is to stop and evaluate the way I respond to anyone of difference.

.Parents, as your children encounter someone of difference and they point or stare, please don’t scoop them up and run the opposite direction while telling them it’s not nice to point. Please encourage them to smile, say hello and ask a name. Respectful questions are welcomed and appreciated. We want you to understand and we are happy to educate.

My Birthday Wish

October is not only my birthday month but also Dwarfism Awareness and Acceptance month. I love that I share my birthday with Dwarfism month and since my birthday is the 2nd I always  get to kick off the month with my birthday wish. My Birthday Wish historically involves asking others to speak openly about dwarfism, to share information and to be an advocate. This year my message is very different. I’ll let my video speak for my heart…..

 Homeward Bound

August 23 came so quickly. Ten days had passed in the blink of an eye. It was hard to believe that it was time to pack up our 9 bags and complete the Good Sport Tour. As I began to pack, I tucked away mementos that we had gathered along the way. I had to sort the things we would carry on like irreplaceable autographed great big baseballs and collected pins and what we would risk checking in our luggage. As I gathered, sorted and collected all the precious trinkets of the memories we had made, it allowed me to revisit what had just taken place. I found myself once again crying. The emotion of all that had taken place came rushing like a flood. We had lived each day in such a day to day soak-it-all-in fashion that I had not taken the time to string all the events together. As I packed the events of each day into our bags the fragmented chapters of the Good Sport Tour became the complete story and what a story it was. The Good Sport Tour actually began in early May when cameraman Doug and producer Joan arrived at a drenched baseball field to help Eric Johnson beautifully tell the story of the Littlest Leaguer. In three short months this epic adventure unfolded to become the ride of a lifetime. Kind of like those 1995 Mariners that Ayden and I have talked about so many times. It was the perfect set of circumstances that created magic. And just like Joey Cora sat on the bench crying, I too was crying, not because it was over but because it happened.

With the help of wonderful hotel staff I was able to carefully weigh each bag and cram pack them with as much as possible leaving our arms free to carry on our precious treasures. Like a Volkswagen in an Ikea commerical, we made our way to the lobby with our 9 bags ready to head to the Newark airport to make our journey home.

Our uber driver was fun and entertaining. He took us the long way to the airport so we could get a nice view of the Statue of Liberty. He gave us some additional history lessons on the area and smoothly got us tucked into the airport.

As we boarded the airplane Ayden shared with the flight attendants about our trip which resulted in an invitation to the cockpit. Once again, kindness abounds.

The plane ride home was fairly uneventful other than the little boy who sat behind us that asked “WHY??” about 7,000 times during the flight. It was pretty funny and we have now made a permanent joke about it around our house.

Upon landing I learned that KOMO had done a segment in the sports section on the 6:00 news about Ayden’s award. Sadly we missed it.

It was nice to be home, sleep in our own beds and see our Lucy dog. But a day doesn’t pass that we don’t relive a moment or two or three or four. It was fun to come home and watch the remainder of the LLWS. We have watched it so many times in the past but we will never watch it the same again. Because now we know…. we know what it feels like, we know the excitement, we know the emotion, we know where they are and what they are doing. We’ve witnessed the sportsmanship, we’ve felt the camaraderie, we’ve shared in the experience. We were there, at the Little League World Series and Ayden was one of the 225 players (formerly known as 193 players. The night of the parade when I sat on the steps of Bullfrog Brewing with a heartbroken Ayden and we did the math of how many Little League players were there participating in the LLWS,  I calculated 16 teams with 12 players equaling 192 plus Ayden was 193. I was incorrect, there are 14 players on a team so the correct number should have been 225. But regardless of the actual number, Ayden was always one of them.)  

So we watched and we cheered for the remaining games of the LLWS. We cheered for our buddies from Connecticut who represented the New England states and after they were eliminated we cheered for Ayden’s other award ceremony high five team from Lufkin Texas representing the Southeast. This year it would be Japan who won.  In the end, anyone who set foot in the LLWS grounds was a winner. We could all take a lesson from what goes on in that magical place.

What an incredible journey the 2017 Good Sport Tour was. My head owns no words to describe the joy of my heart. Beyond blessed, extremely honored, grateful beyond measure.

I will wrap up with this…. when Ayden was being interviewed in the press room the first question they asked was how did you start playing baseball? Ayden’s answer was simple

“there’s this lady named Tracy Miller who told my grandma you should sign him up for baseball”.  And so he played……..
 

Thank you North Bothell Little League for creating opportunity! #BigorSmallplayball

 

Photo credit: Doug Pigsley
 

 

 

Good Morning America… Good Night New York

It was Tuesday Aug 22nd, 9 days into the ten day Good Sport Tour. It seemed like I had barely fallen asleep when the 4:45 alarm went off. I don’t know about you, but for me, I’m always a bit disoriented when I wake up in a hotel room. This is even more so when it’s on the tail end of an exhausting whirlwind trip. Our lazy morning routine was not to be had today. I showered and got myself ready. I let Mark and Ayden sleep as long as possible and then woke them to get ready for our big adventure. Much to my dismay, Mark’s back was still in bad shape and he decided to stay at the hotel to continue with his course of recovery. So Ayden got dressed in his North Bothell Little League duds and we caught our 5:30 Uber to 1500 Broadway, home of Good Morning America. We were only days past the Charlottesville chaos and the attacks on Barcelona and the night before Trump had addressed the nation so it was no surprise that the police presence at 6:00 am in Times Square was incredibly strong. I felt secure and uneasy all at the same time. Our uber driver dropped us off a block away from our destination and we walked amongst the heavy police presence to get to the guest entrance to Good Morning America.  When we arrived there was already a line up of people waiting to enter. Our VIP passes took us right in. Everyone was so kind. The big bruiser of a guy doing the security screening took a liking to Ayden and showed him how everything worked. They became quick buddies. When the time came we made our way upstairs where in no time at all we found ourselves sitting in the VIP section of Good Morning America. It was surreal. I watch the show most every morning and it was so fun to see the inner workings. The funny funny guy that warms up the audience introduced Ayden to everyone and shared about the honor he had been given. There was a thundering round of applause from the strangers who surrounded us. Warm up time was very entertaining and insightful. We were given coffee mugs that had no coffee and we did not get to keep them. But I’m sure they looked great on tv. It was interesting because I do not ever recall seeing those coffee mugs when I watch the show… I do now. They are empty!!  We sat in the audience and thoroughly enjoyed the show. Although we didn’t make an appearance on the show, it was a great adventure and something we will never forget.

Once the show was over we made our way back to Times Square. I called Mark to check in and he was doing ok so we opted to hop on yet another tour bus. It was my intent to go toward the Statue of Liberty but we hopped the wrong bus and ended up in Harlem and Central Park. It was a nice tour but I think Ayden was a bit bored. Once our tour got us back to Times Square we were both super hungry for lunch. We found a fun little Italian place and grabbed some quick lunch, got Mark a take out to go and ubered our way back to the hotel.

Mark had barely moved since we left (mostly because he couldn’t) so he was happy to see us with nourishment. I got him fed, hydrated, medicated and ice packed. He was once again comfortable. We were just about to take a little siesta when the phone rang. It was Adam, the concierge from the lobby. Ayden had struck up conversation with him the day before while we were checking in. As we came and went from the hotel there was always a pit stop to say hi to Adam. Just like with so many Ayden meets, they stayed strangers for a split second and then they were buddies. Adam was calling because he had a delivery for us and wanted to know if it was a good time to bring it. It was perfect timing. Moments later the knock on our door produced Adam holding a bouquet of balloons tied to a box in one hand and a hand made card in the other. He told Ayden that the team at the front desk were so proud of Ayden they just had to do something to celebrate him. The sweet girl at the front desk was an artist so she made the baseball themed card that congratulated Ayden. More chit chat, a few high fives and just like that we had a very unexpected celebration. After Adam left, we opened the box to find two beautiful handmade cupcakes. I had seen those same cupcakes at the beautiful Chinese bakery the day before. Such an incredibly sweet gesture.

We nibbled on cupcakes that were almost too pretty to eat then laid down and rested for a while because we knew we were going to have a late night.

Ayden and I love to cook together. We love watching cooking television shows. One of our favorite celebrity chefs is Anne Burrell. Anne had a tv show for many years called Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. It’s my most favorite cooking show ever. I learned much from that show. Anne recently opened her first restaurant just across the bridge from us in Brooklyn. So sans Papa, Ayden and I once again hopped an uber and made our way to Phil and Anne’s Good Time Lounge. It’s a quaint little place that is packed with funk and flavor. We were the only people there as we arrived right when they opened. It didn’t take us long to decide what we were going to have. We started with Hogs in Hoodies…. yep… we had mini wiener wraps (and they were delicious I might add). Ayden had the grilled cheese and tomato soup and I had the grilled Korean short ribs with pickled veggies. It was as yummy as I dreamed Anne’s food would be. All my research taught me that Anne spends much time in her restaurant so I was sure hoping that we would have an Anne Burrell encounter. But that was not to be, she was taping that day. They did let me know she would be there at 4:00 the next day… the exact departure time of our plane back to Seattle.  So there would be no meeting Anne this trip.

After dinner was complete we ubered our way back to Times Square for Ayden to cash in on his birthday gift. We had 8th row center seats to see the Lion King on Broadway. We were sad to leave Papa behind and dropped off his ticket at the front counter hoping that they would be able to sell it to someone. We were happy to see a lovely lady sitting next to Ayden. She was ecstatic to be there so Mark’s backache was a blessing to her.

The lights dimmed and the familiar sound of the opening song of the Lion King began. The opening number was so majestic and it tickled all the senses. I found myself feeling a bit childlike in wide eyed wonder. The show was simply magnificent and the two and a half hours it occupied went by in an instant. We made our way out of the theater singing Hakuna Matata.

It was nearly 10:00 by the time we got out of the theater. We needed to find some dinner to take back to Mark. Ayden was pooped and he was not up for doing much walking so I whipped out my trusty Trip Advisor app to see what our nearby options were. Alas, just around the corner was Shake Shack. We had been to one in DC and again in King of Prussia. We knew the food was yummy and they had that delicious frozen custard we had grown to love. So we waited in the forever line, got our stash of yumminess and made our way out to the street to ping our uber. In the time we had stepped into the Shake Shack until the time we came out, the clouds had rolled in, the wind had kicked up, lightening was striking, thunder was rolling and the skies began to dump rain. Wind where we live generally equates to some sort of power outage so Ayden became immediate concerned that New York City was going to lose power. Our uber driver was a grandpa with 23 grand kids. He completely went into grandpa mode with Ayden. He explained about how they have under ground power that’s not effected by wind and reassured that there would be no power outage. And he got Ayden giggling about what silly things would happen if by chance there was a power outage. It was a long drenched trip back to the hotel. Papa was happy to see us and hear about the antics of the night. We nibbled on Shake Shack goodies and relived the night and then we snuggled in for our last sleep of our Good Sport Tour.

Total Eclipse of the Heart

We were slow getting out of Williamsport due to Mark’s back still hurting. We hit the road a couple hours later than we had hoped and I was behind the wheel so Mark could lay back and try to sooth his aches and pains. Our road trip began with us recapping each day of our trip with Ayden and asking him the stand out moments of each day. His perspective is interesting and his standouts were the typical moments. But his commentary was what I found enjoyable. He spoke deeply of the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He enjoyed his time at the Franklin Institute in Philly, especially the electronic analysis of his baseball pitch. As for Williamsport, it was all “Amazing”.

We weren’t very far into our three and half hour trip to New York City before both Mark and Ayden were sound asleep. So as I drove a stretch of highway I’ve never been on before, I sat in the quiet and had time with my own thoughts. Without warning I found myself once again with tears streaming down my face. My heart was so grateful for this life altering experience.

As we got closer to the big city, I began to watch the clock as we had the eclipse that would take place at 2:44 pm in New York. In my mind I began to process the timeline of when we would arrive and how much time we would have to get our rental car dropped off and to the hotel. Then my mind shifted and I got a bit panicky. I’m not a worry wart by any means but our world has created something uncomfortable in my soul. I wondered if there would be some sort of extreme event in New York at the time of the eclipse. Would terrorists think to use this moment to attack. Our eyes would be shifted to the sky and our attention elsewhere. Would that be a time to strike?? I woke Mark up and shared my fears with him and discussed my thoughts of holding off to enter the city until after the eclipse was complete. I wondered if I was foolishly over analyzing or being responsibly cautious. Mark felt I was over analyzing but we agreed that watching the eclipse from the rooftop of the hotel would be a safer option than being down on the street. I felt as though we had gone from one extreme to the other. We had come from the security and innocence of a small town and were heading straight into one of the largest cities in the world. With the plan in place Mark drifted back to sleep. I found myself being agitated over the fact that the evil of the world was creeping into this glorious trip. 

Mark and Ayden slept until we were making our way into Jersey City where we would drop off the rental car. I was not about to drive on the Jersey Turnpike without a navigator. So he helped guide me and I managed to get us to our destination with us and the car fully in tact (however there may have been a bit of profanity muttered in the process).
Our Uber driver picked us up and took us through the Holland tunnel to our hotel in lower Manhattan. Our hotel sat at the mouth of the Manhattan Bridge and was at the crossroads where Chinatown and Little Italy came together. Its a quaint little botique hotel that had a sophisticated yet trendy Asian flair, matching the community where it resides. We quickly dropped our bags in our room and headed (or in Mark’s case hobbled) straight to the rooftop to view the eclipse. The rooftop was like an oasis in the middle of the bustling city. The view was spectacular and we had a direct view of the sun. We were packed on the rooftop like sardines in a can but it made for a fun eclipse viewing experience. The eclipse was rather uneventful and once it was done we gingerly got Mark down to our room to lay down.

 

By this time it was after 3:00 and breakfast was many many hours ago. Ayden was anxious to try the Chinese Noodlehouse that was a few doors down. It was a tiny little place and it was packed with people. We took our seat in the corner and feasted on deliciousness. We got a to-go order for Papa at the hotel. Poor Papa stayed perched at the hotel while Ayden and I took on New York. We Ubered our way to Times Square and our made the M&M’s store our first stop. After that we grabbed a piece of NY pizza while we waited for our evening double decker bus tour of the city. I gave Ayden a lesson in how to eat NY pizza when in NY. And the guys making the pizza confirmed Ayden’s great technique.

Our hour and half tour of the city was spectacular. It was fun to see Ayden’s eyes light up as he saw the sights. Lady Liberty (as he called her) was majestic with her torch lit, Time Square was it’s typical self and the Empire State Building was ominous.  It was ironic that earlier in the day I was nervous to be in the heart of this city and in the moment if felt perfectly safe. There was a strong police presence everywhere we looked. After we got off the bus we wandered around a bit before we made our way back to the hotel. We had an early wake up the next morning. So back to the hotel for a shower, a Chinese bathrobe dryoff and a good night’s sleep.