Our All-American 4th of July with Toyota

This post on Our All-American 4th of July with Toyota is sponsored by my awesome friends at Toyota. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

Our family is a funny one. Considering both Mathew and I work from home, many times we get so used to our day-to-day routine that we forget to celebrate smaller holidays until the day of and then we’re scrambling to find something to do. I’ve been really making it a point lately to plan things ahead of time for our holidays though so it’s not just another day for us. In the past, 4th of July has been a day where we maybe have a small BBQ at the house and then see fireworks at night. This year, we decided to go all out with our all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

I found out a few days before 4th of July that our town was having a little parade. I had no idea what to expect from it and asked Mathew if he would like for us to go. Surely enough, he was down for it! Toyota dropped off a beautiful 2018 Blue Streak colored Camry XSE with a Midnight Black metallic roof and rear spoiler for our family to enjoy. It was the perfect blue to complement the 4th of July and was super festive! We packed up the trunk with Addie’s massive stroller, our new Toyota lunchbox with LaCroix, 3 Dick’s Sporting Goods camping chairs, and filled the car with 2 car seats, Addie’s vent, her suction machine, 2 oxygen tanks, the 4 of us, and Addie’s awesome nurse. It was a little bit of a tight squeeze from the car seats and Addie’s equipment, but we were still excited! Any normal family would do fantastic in a car this size- it really is a great full size car! But as you all know, Addie requires someone in the back at all times, and that’s not always easy with 2 car seats in the back at the same time. I will say though, I was so pleased at how easy it was to move the kids’ car seats into the Camry XSE. It has the LATCH system so putting the car seats took less than a minute a piece. Had this mama grateful because it was hot out! Anyway, we put the panoramic glass roof with power moon roof down and headed to the 4th of July parade!

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

We had a blast at the 4th of July parade. My friend Meg so sweetly offered to let us park by her parent’s house, which is on the street that the parade follows. We had the perfect front row seat, were covered by big ash trees, and had the perfect view as the firetrucks, jeeps, and other people came by! My favorite memory from it all was when I was teaching Addie to wave to the people passing by, and she started doing it on her own! Everyone loved her and threw her lots of candy. Lawson enjoyed himself too and behaved so well for his very first 4th of July parade. I was so glad.

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota! Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota! Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota! Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

After the parade was over, we packed up all of our stuff and got ready to host an all-American 4th of July BBQ with family and a couple friends. Can I just say how awesome it was to have the back up camera and bird’s eye view camera on it?! Getting out of where we parked was a little tight, and it made it so much easier! I felt super fancy, haha. Toyota was amazing and also sent us $200 for decorations and groceries, and we got the works! On the menu were baby back ribs, charro beans, fresh grilled corn on the cob, zucchini, and an angel food cake trifle. I had the beans simmering most of the day and Mathew seasoned the ribs JUST right. Talk about yummy! We decked out the dining room and living room with fun, festive 4th of July decorations and were glad to have everyone over. The kids were happy, we had good company, and the food was delicious.

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota! Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

Because we’re a family with a new baby, we’re still pretty strict on bedtimes right now. We skipped out on 4th of July fireworks because we didn’t want to fight the crowds, Lawson finally has figured out that 7:45 is a reasonable time to start his bedtime, and Addie’s nurse comes at 8 pm. Still, with full bellies and warm hearts, we happily missed the fireworks to enjoy being at home together. I am so grateful that Toyota gave us this push to go out and have an incredible all-American 4th of July when we probably would’ve just phoned it in and just stayed at home and watched movies. Making memories with my family is something I cherish. I love memorizing how Mathew looks at the kids when they’re full of joy during holidays, the words people say when they compliment the delicious food we’ve made, and just how much happiness it brings me. I am so blessed to have these 3 in my life. Toyota- you’re the bomb for helping us make this happen. Truly.

Check out how The Vintage Modern Wife and her family had an all-American 4th of July with Toyota!

I also want to add, if you’re a family of 1-4, I highly suggest looking at the 2018 Toyota Camry XSE. It had so many family-centric features that I loved like the LATCH, 10 airbags, the amazing rear view and birds eye cameras, seats that could be cleaned easily, a blind spot monitor so you can be a more prepared driver with the kids in the car, and of course bluetooth phone and voice command so you can drive more safely. Not only that, but holy freaking fuel economy! I not only drove the car around on the 4th but I had it for 12 days! In those 12 days I went all OVER the place and I only used up 3/4 of the tank of gas. I kept telling everyone how surprised I was that I never had to fill it up.

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July and made many memories with your families. Tell me, what’s your favorite thing to do on 4th of July? And how awesome is this Toyota Camry XSE?

To the Mom Unsure How to Approach My Special Needs Daughter…

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen yesterday about the unfortunate event that occurred to our family. We were asked to participate in an interview for a woman filming various non-profits around town so we could help represent a local organization geared towards children with special needs. If you’ve ever seen us out and about, you know that it’s not an easy feat.

Not sure how to approach someone with a special needs child or are you looking to educate your children on those with special needs? Check out this letter, "To the Mom Unsure How to Approach My Special Needs Daughter..." and get a glimpse of what to say from a special needs mom, herself.

Mathew had a prior engagement and I asked my mother-in-law if she would come with us for the interview. What you may not know about Addie is that it takes 2 people to drive her places because of her trach and ventilator. One person has to drive and the other needs to stay in the back in case she needs to be suctioned, she cries (because of her bronchomalacia she can quickly turn purple and lose oxygen when getting overly upset), her trach becomes dislodged, or her ventilator circuit pops off. Not only that, but we have to pack many things just to get out of the house. A bottle of oxygen, a spare bottle of oxygen, her ventilator, ventilator charger, pulse oximeter, ambubag, extra ventilator circuit, extra suction catheter, 2 extra trachs (1 her current size and 1 of a smaller size), a suction machine, and of course the usual diapers, wipes, and snacks. Being pregnant has also made things harder because Addie is heavy and I lose my breath a lot easier because I have less room inside to breathe. All that to say- if we go somewhere, it’s because we really want to be there or need to be there because it’s so much work.

When we arrived at the location for the interview to be filmed, I took Addie and all her gear out. It easily takes 5 minutes to get her in her stroller just so we can get to wherever we need because we have to load up her and all of her equipment. The woman who was interviewing us brought her children to the shoot (which I totally understand, because #momlife) but her children were constantly staring at Addie. I brushed it off because children are curious and I tried to not let it bother me. That was until one of the children made not one, but TWO ugly comments about Addie’s appearance. Again, I understand it happens and children don’t generally have tact nor do they know how to react to a child with special needs. But, I was entirely taken aback when the woman never said anything to her child such as, “Honey, we don’t say ugly things to people.” She never even apologized to me or said, “Oh I’m so sorry. My children have never been around someone with special needs. I apologize for what he said.” Nothing. I was so offended that I asked if I could interview first because I needed to leave soon (which was true), and quickly did the interview.

As soon as I got into the car with Addie and had all her stuff unloaded, I lost it. I got into the car and just bawled. I bawled because I couldn’t believe the mother did nothing to acknowledge her child’s comments towards Addie, especially because we had gone through so much effort to be there on a particularly busy day. My mother in law happened to be there and drove back to the location and talked to the woman about how hurt we were, and as she did, I made this video on Instagram stories:

I had SO many of you guys comment and tell me you would be more conscious about talking to your children about those with special needs. Many of you also said you realized you needed to take action and talk to your children, but didn’t know how. Some also asked what exactly you should say in a public situation, and so many more of you asked me to blog about this to help bring awareness. So…here I am. Now let me mention- I’m no expert. I’m learning as I go along this journey, so if you’re a special needs mom and you have input on how you personally would do things, I’d love to read in the comments.

To the mom unsure how to approach my special needs daughter,

I see you. I see you and your children around town. I see your stares. I also see your curiosity. I see your wheels turning as you try to figure out in your mind if you should acknowledge us, quickly put your head down and walk away, or gaze away as fast as you see me noticing you. I see your child who is curious too and is trying to ask you questions. You’re frozen.

I want you to know something. I want you to acknowledge us. If I look your way and smile, I want you to smile back. And if I’m not smiling? Smile at me anyway because our family might be having a particularly rough day. I’m ok with you and your child having questions. I was once just a woman without a daughter that has special needs and I used to be curious too. I GET it.

 

If your child is curious, please don’t shush them. Have them ask you their question, and feel free to come up to me and ask it yourself if you feel like your child may not be tactful or kind. Please introduce yourselves and acknowledge my daughter…because SHE IS A PERSON. Plus, she loves when people come up to her and smile and want to get to know her. Please don’t act like my daughter isn’t there. It hurts my heart and it’s insensitive. Treat her as kind as any other 3 year old.

Curious about her trach? I’m cool with that. You can ask me, “Why does she have that tube?” I’m happy to tell you that Addie can’t breathe on her own and her trach and her ventilator help give her breaths. I’ve had many children ask me about it and I will say I appreciate their faces of concern when they realize she can’t breathe on her own. Their compassion does my heart so much good because I know there are still sweet people in this world that show concern and care for my sweet girl.

 

Wondering why she may not look like a typically developing child? My daughter has hydrocephalus and has epilepsy. She also has vision deficits and has a cochlear implant because she used to not be able to hear. You may ask me kindly, “Can you tell me more about your sweet girl?” or “Is it ok if I ask you about your daughter?” Chances are I’ll say yes. I’m happy to tell you more about Addie and the 10 months that she was hospitalized. How we almost lost her several times in the middle of the night. How my baby has gone through more surgeries than I can even count (because honestly, I’m done counting.) How we’ve made amazing friends in the medical field and how Addie has multiple therapies DAILY so she can be the strong girl she needs to be. How doctors told me Addie would not be able to do so many things, yet here she is, kicking ass and taking names (sorry- there’s no better way to say it.) How I quit my job as a teacher to be by her side for 18 hours a day in that hospital. How I would sleep by her bed in the NICU after surgeries even though we weren’t technically allowed. Maybe I won’t divulge ALL of that in one sitting or in the store, but I’ll tell you the Reader’s Digest version for sure.

 

Here’s what I’m not ok with though- I’m not ok with being ignored. I’m not ok with you not correcting your child if they say something rude. I’m not ok with you brushing off rude remarks as if they’re meaningless. I’m not ok with stares without a sweet smile quickly coming after.

Disabilities cover a wide range. Some are obvious like Addie who has a physical disability, or a child with a visual impairment. Other disabilities may be more “hidden” such as children who have learning disabilities or are on the autism spectrum. I want you to share with your child that no two people are the same and God made everyone special and unique. I want you to share that a disability defines no one. Just because my daughter or another child may have special needs, these kids are just like you and have feelings, likes/dislikes, strengths, and even challenges. I want you to share that children can be born with special needs or they can become disables from an accident or an illness, but they can’t “catch” it from my child. I want you to tell your child to be sweet and kind to my girl, and that she would love to be their friend. Your child should also know that children with special needs can do lots of things that they can! Addie plays soccer and is about to start cheerleading in the new year- how cool is that? She just may need help or adaptive equipment to help her, and that’s ok! I would also tell you, try to use clear, respectful language when talking about someone with special needs. “She has that tube because she can’t breathe on her own and needs help” is enough information for most children to get the concept of why Addie needs her trach. PLEASE make sure that you talk to your child about name calling or rude comments is NEVER acceptable and it hurts Addie’s feelings.

 

Here’s what else I want you to know, especially if we’re already friends. Invite us over. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but boy, does our family love to be invited to things. Even if you “don’t think” we will be able to join you, it means the WORLD to us for you to have us over for dinner, board games, play dates, and birthday parties. Addie doesn’t go to school and is often forgotten because she isn’t around her peers much. She wants to have more friends, she just doesn’t have many opportunities. Thankfully, soccer and cheerleading have changed that, but we still find ourselves forgotten sometimes. Heck, invite yourselves over too! Mathew and I both work from home and we want you to come over! We love visitors and Addie always enjoys snuggling and playing with friends.

Love, Stephanie (aka Addie’s Mom)

 

There’s so much more I’ve surely missed, but I hope this is the start to some beautiful conversations between you and moms of special needs kiddos. If you know someone that has a child with special needs, reach out to them. Start a discussion and ask how you can learn to be more loving and accepting and how you can teach your children to be the same.

If you are interested in learning more about Addie and her story, make sure you add us on Instagram and Facebook for daily updates.

If you see a special needs mama in the store/at the zoo/ wherever, please be kind. Always be kind.

Achieving Financial Peace-of-Mind with a Disability Through ABLEnow

This post on Achieving Financial Peace of Mind with a Disability Through ABLEnow is sponsored through ABLEnow, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Have you heard about ABLEnow? If you have a loved one with a disability, definitely read this!

Having a child with a disability always has our family thinking ahead. We wonder about things 5, 10, even 20 years down the road, and while those things are blurry for our family, they’re still important things to think about. As a mom, I always think of the worst- “What will happen to Addie if…” and I go down that rabbit hole. One thing that we definitely have needed to do more research on is some type of saving for Addie for when she is older. If something ever happens to us, we want to be able to make sure she is cared for and loved, which is why it’s perfect timing that I have been able to recently learn about a program called ABLEnow.

For so long, people with disabilities and their families couldn’t save for their futures because they feared losing their public benefits. I can’t even imagine having to worry about that for Addie and I’m so thankful we don’t have to now. Because of Addie’s medical complexities, she gets benefits monthly for nursing care, medical supplies (her little tiny ventilator alone is $13,000!), multiple therapies (speech, physical, and occupational)- I am literally FLOORED that had this been even just a few years ago, Addie could’ve lost her benefits if we put money in a savings account for her because an individual with a disability needed to remain “poor” in order to keep their benefits. It’s sickening and insanely scary. Bless the advocates who worked hard to change this and came up with the federal ABLE Act and the new ABLEnow program. There are millions of individuals with disabilities and so many of their families depend on various public benefits like income, health care, food, and housing through SSI, SNAP, and Medicaid. Now, these millions of people don’t have to worry, and I’m so grateful.

Addie

For the first time in public policy, the ABLE Act recognized the significant costs that occur when you have a member of the family living with a disability. These costs can include accessible housing and transportation, personal assistance services, assistive technology, and health care that is not covered by insurance or Medicaid. Now these eligible individuals with disabilities and their families can save and invest in an affordable and tax-advantaged ABLEnow account without worrying if their eligibility for certain benefits like Medicaid and SSI will be taken away!

Addie

Here’s why I love this so much: ABLEnow is truly empowering those with disabilities to gain more independence and have a better quality of life through financial security. For our family it means being able to put money aside for Addie’s future and not worrying that her Medicaid will be taken away (because I certainly can’t afford a ventilator, nursing, oxygen, every circuit piece to her vent, suction machines, and so so much more). It’s so huge.

Addie

ABLEnow is administered by Virginia529, the country’s largest college savings plan, which now has an expanded mission to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. It is one of the country’s premier ABLE programs and open for national enrollment with accounts in all 50 states. You can go to the ABLEnow website to open and manage your ABLEnow account online.

Want to know more about ABLEnow and ABLE accounts? Check out the ABLEnow FAQS . What are your fears for the future regarding your loved ones with disabilities?