Monthly Archives March 2008

Dawson Middle School – Go Dragons!

    Posted in Schools    |    6 Comments

Jim and Chet McDoniel present at Dawson Middle SchoolThis morning, my dad and I were invited to speak at Dawson Middle School in Southlake, TX.  We have adapted our “All He Needs Presentation” for middle school students, and love getting to talk to a youthful audience.  We did this same presentation at Dawson last school year.  I must be honest…when I was asked to do this last year…I really had some concerns.  I mean, Jr. High was many years ago for me and even more for my dad.  How do you talk to seventh graders?

Well, let me tell you…when the seventh graders you are speaking to are “Dragons” at Dawson Middle School, you have nothing to worry about!  These students were among the most well-behaved kids I have ever been around.  They paid excellent attention and asked great questions!  My dad and I had a wonderful time speaking to them, and I hope that we were able to uplift and encourage with our presentation. 

Chet McDoniel speaks about being happy at Dawson Middle School in Southlake, TXI challenged the “Dragons” to a smile experiment.  Their mission, should they choose to accept it, is to intentionally smile all day tomorrow when someone makes eye contact with them.  I can’t wait to hear the results of how a few smiles can raise the spirits of a school!  If you are a “Dragon” that heard us this morning, please comment below on how the smile experiment goes tomorrow!

Jim and Chet McDoniel are available for school presentations like the one you read about above.  To request more information, please click on “Contact Information” at the top of the page.

What Works For Me

    Posted in Family/Parenting    |    6 Comments

In the form of a quick update:  Joni is doing just fine and recovering well.  Hannah had her first doctor’s appointment recently and she is doing great.  Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers.

I want to talk just for a moment about how I believe the world perceives people who are different. 

Telling family and friends that we were pregnant was very exciting.  People that knew us thought nothing of the fact that I would be “handicapped parent,” and family/friends were very supportive of our decision to have children.  In fact, we were told many times that we would make wonderful parents…that remains to be seen. 🙂

Still, though, many people who did not know us very well insisted that some adjustments be made so that I could cuddle with Hannah once she was born.  The folks giving this advice were well meaning, but I must say that their advice bothered me.  You see, for my whole life, people have tried to “fix” me.  From a very early age, doctors wanted to do all sorts of procedures and tests to make me “as normal as possible.”  While some did get a chance, they all failed.  Now, I will say that the therapists that worked with me at a young age did wonders for me.  But, the difference is that the therapists got me to use what I have to function in life, instead of trying to change me to look like everyone else.

I have learned in 28 years without arms that I AM as normal as possible…as long as I want to be.  I need no doctors’ procedures, no kind advice, and no prosthesis to make me look like everyone else.  In other words, “I’m Not Broken.”  I don’t mean this in a spiteful or resentful fashion, but rather, I want to inform the world that making me look like you may make you feel more comfortable, however, I couldn’t be more comfortable with who I am.  I don’t need to be changed to fit in.  My attitude in life is to go full-steam ahead and never desire to be who I’m not. 

Hannah McDoniel cuddling with her handicapped dad, Chet McDonielI will never have arms.  I will never look like everyone else.  I will never hold Hannah like everyone else.  But, for me, this is not a sad thing.  I just have to learn “what works for me” in each and every situation.  So, the picture on the right is of me “holding and cuddling” with Hannah.  No, she’s not against my chest, but then again, how else would I feel her without being able to touch her with my feet?  My feet are my hands.  So, the advice I was given was to make sure and buy a sling to put her in so that she could be up against my chest.  We bought one…and maybe we’ll use it.  But, inevitably, I’ll want her out of the sling and on my lap or on the floor so that I can bond with, play with, and touch my daughter.  It may not look like how you would bond with your child…it may not look like how my own wife bonds with Hannah…but it is what works for me!  Hannah, Joni and I will figure it out for each and every situation that comes our way…and we will great each challenge with a smile because that’s how we believe life should be lived.

Quick Update and Reschedule Notice

    Posted in General    |    2 Comments

As many of you know, my wife, Joni, has been in the hospital since last Tuesday night with a major infection and having had her gall bladder removed.  You can keep up with her progress here.  She is progressing well.  We are rescheduling the Dawson Middle School appearance when we know more about when we’ll get to leave the hospital.  Being away from our new baby has been very difficult, but she is in great hands with grandparents.  I’m sure we’ll be back to “normal” life in no time!

Hannah Jane McDoniel

    Posted in Family/Parenting    |    3 Comments

Hannah is here.  She was born on Thursday, March 6th at 11:35AM – weighing in at 8 lbs 5 oz – measuring 20 and a half inches.  I am overwhelmed with emotions and excitement…and a complete lack of sleep!  We are all home, now, and I’ll put more thoughts into words when I can.  I leave you with a couple of pictures as we start our journey!

Hannah McDoniel and Dad (Chet McDoniel)

Hannah McDoniel and Dad (Chet McDoniel)

Baby Will Be Here Soon

    Posted in Family/Parenting    |    Comments Off on Baby Will Be Here Soon

My wife and I just found out that our first baby will be arriving this Thursday.  We are so excited, and it seems that 9 months has flown by.  (Well…maybe not “flown by” for Joni…but for me it has!)  I plan to blog some about my adventures as a handicapped parent.  I believe I can give my new daughter a great life and that while their may be physical obstacles to overcome, nothing will prevent me from loving and caring for “Hannah.”  Life will soon be different…and I can’t wait.

Hannah's NurseryOne item I did want to mention is that Joni found a crib for Hannah that has a door at the short end which I can open by pressing two buttons.  The crib is advertised as a way to quickly and easily change the sheets, but for us it is a way that I can get Hannah out of her crib in case of an emergency…or whenever I need to do so.  The peace of mind that I have knowing that I can get her if needed is a welcome relief to a big concern I had.  You can find more about the crib here.  The picture to the left is of Hannah’s nursery.

When I post again, I’ll be a father.  Wow.