Posts Tagged ‘Alzheimer’s Association’

Work + Play = Magic

We successfully made my work trip into a family excursion! Nervously, I left my boys to fend for themselves for a day and a half while I traveled with my coworkers. Steven sent me text messages while I was in breakout sessions for the Alzheimer’s Association Leadership Summit conference throughout the day, giving me updates about their airport experience.

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I was super bummed not to be able to witness his first airplane experience, but Steven caught the whole takeoff on video.

He’s the best.

My coworkers and I were at Epcot during the time they arrived. I don’t remember a thing about this park when I was last there at age 5. The place is amazing, and it’s spectacular to walk around at night. Our group ended up in “Italy” for some of the best Italian food I’ve ever had. Perhaps because that’s Disney magic, or maybe because it was just that good.

I was greeted by the guys in our hotel room, Wes excitedly telling me about his plane, train (shuttle) and bus rides over the last few hours – I mean, seriously, a little boy’s dream! We somehow slept that night and woke up to another beautiful, cloudless day in Orlando.

The pool at the Marriott World Center is breathtaking. I was able to join them outside in between my conference sessions, watching Wes wreck havoc on his knees and feet from playing so hard in the splash area. I loved knowing that my family was just a few yards away, even though my sessions were fun and encouraging. Basically I was on Cloud 9.


While the rest of my coworkers hung out that evening, Steven needed to get away from the hotel and his babysitting duty. We headed to Downtown Disney (soon-to-be Disney Springs) for the LEGO store and street music and entertainment. I had gone for dinner there a few nights before, so I had scoped out areas that I thought Wes would enjoy.

IMG_8360 - EditedHe was busy building a car to race when I met up with long-time mentor, teacher and friend, Lisa Meharry. She has been living in Orlando for several years, and it’s been just about that long since I had seen her last. Lisa taught me how to read music and eventually how to play the clarinet. She helped me navigate some of the rough patches of adolescence and into college transition. She’s been a prayer warrior for me and many of my peers, and I know it’s because of the example she and two other women demonstrated during my “who am I?” phase of life that I have come out ahead. It was so refreshing to see her again.

The following morning was the day we had been waiting for…Magic Kingdom!

Wes woke up very excited, but not really knowing what to expect. Packing everything we could think of, we set off and took a taxi into the park. Hey, did you know that you can instead be dropped off at the Polynesian Resort and take the monorail, free of charge, directly into Magic Kingdom? It avoids the $17 gate fee as well as parking.

We walked right into a Main Street performance to the Muppet Movie’s “Life’s A Happy Song,” got Wes’ 1st visit button at City Hall and THEN


MARY POPPINS stooped down and talked to him in a British accent for, like, 3 minutes. He was super shy, and I was super starstruck. It was great.

He ooh and ahhed at Cinderella’s castle and was quickly ready to move on. We headed directly to Fantasyland and hopped onto It’s A Small World instantly – no line. His expressions were priceless. He was amazed at the boat and the building and the characters and everything happening all at once.

We had FastPasses for Peter Pan’s Flight and Winnie the Pooh and saw/rode a few other things before the day turned into a chore. Partly because he was tired from the day before, partly because lunch plans weren’t until 2:30, Wes was done with Disney within the next hour. I’d say we had a solid, good 3 hours, but it wasn’t really what I had anticipated.

I did try to enter the day with low expectations, but going to Disney World with two homebodies who prefer the quiet comforts of home over swarming crowds, coupled with bouts of “hangriness” (even my packed crackers, fruit snacks and granola bars weren’t good enough) made the day a little bland.

Not to say we didn’t have any fun. After venturing around Adventureland and Frontierland, we showed up for our reservation at the Crystal Palace for a late buffet lunch with Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet. I’m pretty sure I melted when I saw Wes’ eyes sparkle at the first sight of Tigger, his current favorite-of-all-characters.


I mean, look at that face! Unfortunately, Tigger was busy hugging the other side of the restaurant, but we were able to converse with the other guys until we finally stalked him on our way out the door.

To see all of our photos from Magic Kingdom and beyond, click here.

By this point, we resigned ourselves to leaving the park well before any fun night parades; he just wouldn’t make it. And we probably couldn’t, either, with all the handling of cranky-kid and all. Before we left, however, we made sure to pay Mickey Mouse a visit, and it was perhaps the best part of the day.

2044578-719078_20130624_001DID YOU KNOW THAT MICKEY MOUSE TALKS TO YOU?! Wes, a fan of Nintendo’s Kingdom Hearts, had really wanted to run into Sora and, disappointed, couldn’t find him in the park (duh). Steven suggested he ask Mickey Mouse about it when we saw him. Though he was too shy to ask, we still stumped Mickey on that question, and it led into a slightly awkward “hey, let’s instead pretend we’re trains!”


Mickey said the right word and captured Wes’ heart. It was a terrific way to end our day, though short, at Disney World.

We headed back to the hotel before the sun went down. Wes was just as excited, if not more, to swim in the massive pool as he was to do anything Disney. At first I was irritated, but later realized he was happy to spend time with us in a quieter place. We stuck our legs in the heated pool and warmed up by the outdoor fireplace before ordering Giordano’s pizza and watching a movie. Despite our change in plans, it was a good day, and we were all ready to head home.

Waking up at 7:30 the next morning – this morning, Steven saw that we could bump our flight from 7 p.m. to 10 a.m. and be home before the worst of the predicted weather hit. I agreed and we were in a taxi within 30 minutes. We’ve spent today in our own home and with our own stuff. We weren’t due to land in Indianapolis until late tonight, but instead, I’m lounging on the couch with the dogs. It feels good to be home.

mickeymouseHere are the lessons I learned: there’s not much magic in Disney World with a cranky, testy preschooler. Sometimes the hotel pool provides the magic. For all you prepare in advance, the attitudes of your party are not in your control. (Save your money and wait until your child is at least 4, unless he or she shares your love of Disney or is a big fan of Disney princesses.)

AND probably the best lesson learned: Who cares where you are? To quote Mary Poppins, “You FIND the fun…and SNAP!” It can be anywhere. The trip itself – the plane ride, the hotel stay, having the guys nearby during my conference – was indescribably wonderful. We had an amazing opportunity to be together in an otherwise unlikely situation, and we even had a little Disney fun on the side. It wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned, but it was a good trip and it is good to be home.

Posted: February 1st, 2015
Categories: Leah
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Lucky Number Seven


August 17, 2007. I typically don’t like odd numbers; they make me uncomfortable. I usually see things in pairs and group like items together when I browse a room. When it’s an odd number, though, it drives me nuts. Where is the missing “partner?”

When it was time to book our wedding date, we had a few snags in the plan. Gen Con, a gaming convention, coincided with our wedding weekend, and many hotels were booked way in advance. I also had a previously planned trip to London scheduled before we were engaged, so we wanted to make it work out as our honeymoon. Because of this, we ended up having to hold the wedding on a Friday night. I didn’t mind this so much, except that the date was the seventeenth. Of the 2000-seventh year. If we had gotten married in July, though, the seventh month, I wouldn’t have minded because that looks more pleasing to the eye. 7/17/2007 – OR even – 7/7/07! But, we were “stuck” with August 17.

I wasn’t going to be a bridezilla about it, and figured I would eventually glaze over the issue in my head. And I have.

In fact, seven is a pretty special number. For starters, it’s one of God’s favorite numbers, and it appears seventy-seven times seventy-seven times throughout the Bible. (I’m exaggerating, maybe.) All throughout grade school, I was “Leah 7,” meaning I was usually the seventh person down in alpha order in our class. We had to code all of our papers that way. Not to mention the number seven’s reputation for luckiness.

Now that we’re entering our seventh year of marriage, I’m excited to see what success and prosperity it might hold for us. Thankfully, it’s starting out on the right foot. I began my new position at Alzheimer’s Association this past week, and while it was plenty busy and all-encompassing, I feel very welcomed and supported by my new coworkers. Granted, I have felt a little homesick for my Joy’s House family, but I have allowed myself to feel this on purpose – I think it will help me in the long run. It will force me to stay connected to my friends and fellow volunteers and keep my mission focus in sight.

Wesley also began a new change this past week. He moved up to a 2’s class and has transitioned really well. I am proud of my little boy and how much he has broken out of his shell. He seems nearly ready for potty training, so expect some high/low posts on this subject in the near future…

Steven is my rock star entrepreneurial, risk-taking husband. He is on a fast track for success, and I love his overflowing confidence. It’s rubbing off of me, and he encourages me now more than ever. He’s proud of my accomplishments, and I know he has my back. We’ve both come a long way over these six years of marriage.


August 17, 2013

We celebrated with a quick dinner outing sans kid last night, then ventured to a used book store for gobbles of new-to-us-ness. Today, our actual anniversary, we spent our Saturday morning with a cranky child, and we made the most of it. A trip to the Children’s Museum for a couple hours (Wes now requests to see the “neighs,” meaning the horses on the carousel.), followed by a PotBelly sandwich lunch and a long nap at home was just what we needed. We’re getting much better at being flexible and just going with the flow of a 2-year-old’s mood swings.

Wes woke up slightly more cranky, if that’s possible, but Steven and I tag-teamed back and forth to get him in a better mood (outside is key) so that we could venture downtown for some Gen Con costume sightings and some frozen yogurt. Success.

I love Steven’s ability to be a wonderful husband, father and companion. He brings my stress levels down several notches with his silly and ridiculous ways. We continue to learn and grow together, especially as new(er) parents-in-crime. I feel pretty lucky, so I guess this is my year!

Posted: August 17th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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The Truffula Tree

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in an art therapy class designed for the employees of Joy’s House. We recently started an art therapy program with a licensed therapist, inviting caregivers and their loved ones to explore communication through art projects. In an effort to better understand the process and be able to answer questions about the program, our therapist offered a session for small groups of Joy’s House staff members.

The first task was to use whatever medium we wanted to create a representation of ourselves. I grabbed a few pipecleaners because, gosh, I hadn’t played with those in forever. Also grabbing some sheets of torn green and yellow paper, I started creating what ended up looking like a tree. It was wobbley and unstable, so I added a few more pipecleaners to the base of the tree, though I couldn’t find exactly the right matching color. In the end, my finished product resembled a Truffula Tree. You know, the kind found in The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.


My leaves ended up having two different colors – and after I sat back and looked at it, it seemed fitting. My tree was going through a seasonal change.

That morning, I had had a second interview with the Alzheimer’s Association and was pretty confident I would be offered a position the following week. Sounds great and wonderful, right? Sure, it was – it IS, but with all “seasons,” you do need to shed a layer in order to grow. In my case, shedding my skin – my comfort zone within my job at Joy’s House – would be tough.

It’s so much easier to leave a job that you’re not happy with. A job that you dread, or a boss that drives you crazy. Or maybe it’s just a blah environment. At Joy’s House, I don’t have any of those things. It’s a fitting name, really, because the definition of “joy” isn’t necessarily happiness-all-the-time-oh-life-is-grand. Joy is associated with contentedness and gladness. The people are joyful people. The families served, the volunteered involved and the dedicated staff – these people are my “peeps.” My family.

You know what, though? The reason these people are so great is because of the mission. Everyone is a team player and wants the best for the future and the community. When I reflect back to my Truffula Tree, I consider my own mission-driven personality to be my career “foundation,” with my roots running deep. Perhaps the branches of my tree are the ways in which I can serve, wherever life takes me.

On August 12, I will be “branching out” and will be the new Communications Director at the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Indiana. I am excited about the possibilities before me and thrilled to share my talents with such a strong and mission-driven organization. Their foundation is the same foundation I have rooted in – to equip caregivers with the best tools available in order to care for their loved ones. And, to educate the public on dementia and other diagnoses. The unfortunate truth is that my generation is not aware or prepared to take care of our future populations as they continue to age.

The people I’ve met – my new coworkers – are embracing, dedicated and all-around great. I really feel like I’ll fit in well. It’s taken me a minute to adjust and think of myself outside of Joy’s House, but I know my relationships there won’t ever change. Everyone in the know of my career shift has been nothing but supportive and exited for me. So naturally, I’m getting excited, too!

I’m learning to embrace change. It’s not my favorite part of life, but it can be exciting. Suddenly I’m reminded of one of Wesley’s favorite songs from a potty training DVD:

It’s different, and it’s wonderful
Change is good
Look at you grow!

(Look At You Grow, Potty Time, Two Little Hands Productions)

Posted: August 1st, 2013
Categories: Leah
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