Monday, May 14, 2012

The Handicap Spot

There's an old saying in my family (the Millers) that nearly every situation in life can relate back to a Seinfeld episode, and this situation is no different...

Man, I love that show.

So, here's my little rant...please humor me for a few minutes.

For some reason, this past Saturday I decided to take the kids out to Target and the grocery store all by myself.  I must be crazy or something.

First of all, shopping in Minot has gotten nearly impossible on the weekends, so most of the time, I just go out during the week and only with Calvin.  Second, taking Natalie with me means that my hands are tied up with a wheelchair, and that means no cart and directing a stubborn two year old to walk beside me while I gather as many things as I can in my arms.

Like I said...I must have been crazy.

However, I was in a great mood, and everything went really well.  Well...almost everything.

Until Natalie came along, I don't think I had ever parked in a handicap spot, so I didn't really notice this stuff before.  Over the past four or so years that we've had our handicap tag, I've noticed some rather annoying violators.

There are three violators I've identified:

1.  The Drop-Offer:  Someone who drops off a passenger at the door, then sits in the car in a handicap spot until that person comes back out.
2.  The Un-Handicapped:  This may be someone who is using a handicap tag that belongs to someone else, or a person who had a tag for a particular reason (i.e., crutches) and no longer needs it, but still uses it.
3.  The Blatant Violator:  If you don't have a handicap tag, don't park in a handicap spot, because I guarantee I can report a violator faster than you can say, "one hundred dollar fine."

I make it a point to never park in a handicap spot unless Natalie is with me.  On this day, two of the three violators taking up spots, which then left all spots full at both Target and the grocery store.

A handicap spot isn't just the closest spot to the front door, it's a safe place for me to load and unload my handicapped daughter on the side of my van.  Instead of squeezing the wheelchair in between two vehicles, I have a designated area that keeps me from doing this task out in the driveway area of the parking lot.

Also, since it takes a lot longer to load and unload Natalie from the wheelchair and put that clunky wheelchair in the back of the van, these spots are ideal during the dead of winter.

Okay, there's my rant for the day.  Those violators were darn lucky I was in a good mood on Saturday!!  :)

Saturday, May 5, 2012


There are signs of life in Green Valley once again...
The trees are blooming, birds are singing, and hammers are pounding.  We live in a giant construction zone right now, and though it's loud at times, it's the sound of life in the valley.

While we were certainly blessed to be back in our home before Thanksgiving, I had to come to terms with the fact that not much would get done at our house for the next four to five months.  The basketball season starts in December, which has Perry out on the road reffing nearly every day of the week.  

So, over the course of those four months, I sat at home with the kids, staring at all of the unfinished projects and making a mental list that seemed to grow by the second.

It's time to start crossing those items off the list.

First up, a new fence between our house and the neighbor's house.  Ahhh...privacy.  It's a wonderful thing.  

Perry and our neighbor, Joe, built this!  

Pay no attention to the piles of garbage!
Prior to the flood, we had a horrible concrete patio in our back yard.  It was cracked and heaving and altogether...hideous.  

At first, we considered stamped concrete, but it didn't solve the problem of making the patio door handicap accessible for Natalie's wheelchair.  So, we moved on to Plan B...a deck.  Since there are approximately twenty contractors in our neighborhood at any given time, it's easy to find the skilled laborers required for such a project.  Thanks to our neighbors, the Duchscherers, for finding a great contractor to build their deck!  (We stole them!)  :)

The deck is done!

A handicap accessible sidewalk for Natalie leading to the deck

Cute little footprints in the sidewalk

The new seating area

Built in bench

The deck comes right up under the patio door...easy access for Nat!

Built-in planters

Lots of room for fun get togethers!
Have you ever read the children's book, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie"?  For those who haven't, it's about how one thing can lead to another.  If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk.  Well, if you give Melissa a new deck, she's going to ask for some new deck furniture.  Be prepared, husband.

Meanwhile, we're still dealing with a mud pit for a yard.  There's still much to do, but we needed to finish the construction projects first.  Landscaping will be a chore.  Unfortunately, all of our shrubs died in the flood.

All of the shrubs are dead, but the ash tree is ready to bloom! 
A few weeks before the flood, we planted two little trees in the back yard; a spring snow crab and a honeycrisp apple tree.

Spring snow crab on the left, Honeycrisp apple tree on the right
We couldn't believe it when we saw leaves appearing on our snow crab tree this year!  It was nearly covered in water for weeks last year.  What a resilient tree!

The green is coming back to Green Valley...slowly but surely.  It's going to be a much happier summer around here.