Monday, August 31, 2009

State Fair Outing

Yesterday was our annual outing to the MN State Fair. I woke up wondering where the dog days of summer had gone. It was 49 degrees when I woke up and I wondered if I should bring a pair of mittens to the fair instead of sunblock. It actually warmed up nicely and hit 70 degrees for a high. Man, was it crowded at the fair this year! Everyone opting for the staycation took it at the fair on the same day.

We always go to the fair with my parents which makes it a fun family trip. Usually one of my brothers or sisters go, but this year it was just us. We started our food frenzy with our traditional first stop of footlong hotdogs. We proceeded to eat our way through french fries, cheese curds, chocolate milk shakes, and roasted corn. We also stopped for a bucket of Sweet Martha's cookies, of which I had a few and then proceeded to leave the rest of the bucket at a water game on the midway. Probably didn't need them anyway. New food items tried this year were "The Elvis sandwich (fried bread with peanut butter and bananas), Reuben pretzel ( rye pretzel stuffed with corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut), and a pronto pup. True a pronto pup (deep fried corn dog) isn't new to many familiar with the MN State Fair, but I had never tried one.

Favorite stops along the way at the fair were: the dairy barn where Harry and Bella both got to hand milk a cow, the miracle of birth exhibit where Bella got to pet a baby pig, duck, chick, and sheep, and the Lil' Hands Farm where you can pretend to be a farmer. You might think Harry is too old to enjoy the Lil' Hands Farm, but he is the one who demanded we go. Glad to see he knows how to remain young at heart!

Starting our fair excursion at 11am and ending around 9pm made for a long day, but a nice end to summer.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Play's the Thing....

The kids were a part of a play camp this past week. It is a great camp because everyone gets a part and they do it all in a week. Lines have to be memorized, dances and songs learned, all in a very fast paced manner. You have to be seven to be in the camp and Becca and Harry have been done it 5-6 times in the past. Of course, Bella wanted to be in the camp this time. I have to admit I was a little nervous for her. As I have mentioned before, sometimes remembering things without lots of repetition can be a big challenge for her. In the end, I decided it was what Bella wanted and she shouldn't held back from trying things just because it might be a little hard for her. Truth is, sometimes I think it is harder for me to watch her struggle than it is for her.

The play was Aladdin and the Magic Lamp. Harry and Becca were street vagabonds and Bella was a ribbon merchant. They all did great and Bella remembered her line (she had one all by herself) and the songs. I am so glad I let go of my fear for her. She is such a determined little girl! We were lucky that Erick's Dad and stepmother were able to schedule a visit at the same time as the play so they could see it too.

The pictures posted are from the play.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Monarch Mania

In our house it is a summer tradition to try and raise a few monarch butterflies. We've been doing this for about 4 years now. Over the years we've had eggs hatch into caterpillars and caterpillars turn into butterflies, but we've never been successful all the way through the cycle from egg to butterfly. Some died making cocoons, some died trying to come out of the cocoon, and some others died as caterpillars. This year we were sure we would complete the cycle. In early August we found monarch egg and we raised it. We were excited with each step. Successful caterpillar, successful cocoon, and then we waited. Two days ago, we could tell it was getting ready to emerge as a butterfly. Well yesterday morning, I came downstairs and saw the caterpillar/cocoon container knocked off of the refrigerator where we had been keeping it. Not a good sign! Harry and I start looking around for the butterfly because we could see it's empty cocoon shell still in the container. Then Harry screamed, "There it is on the floor." Uh-oh. Side note: our Bengal cat really loves to catch flying creatures. Whenever a fly or a moth gets inside the house, he amuses himself by catching them with his paws and eating them. I think you can see where this story is headed. Well sure enough it was on the floor with its wings still wet and looking pretty mangled. It was still alive so I brought it outside to a flower and hoped for the best. I didn't see it later so hopefully it flew away.

Today we did have another butterfly emerge, but this one we found as a caterpillar, not an egg. The video shows a bit of its beauty.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Trip to the Farm

Last Thursday, Harry, Bella, and I went on a trip to Gale Woods Farm with our church youth group. Gale Woods is a working farm. The older kids and the younger kids were split into two groups so I went with Bella. The day was super rainy and wet which was a bummer because a lot of the things to see were outside. It is days like this one that I wish Isabella's implants were completely waterproof. She was the only child with an umbrella and a raincoat, but hey, we have to be safe!

During our trip we got to see some giant pigs, a baby cow, some Great Pyrenees puppies, sheep, and chickens. The kids got to touch all of the animals and also learned a lot about their roles on the farm. I thought it was pretty funny that the farmer referred to the pretty indoor chickens as the "egg chickens" and the outdoor chickens as the "chicken nugget chickens." Also we didn't get to see the baby pigs because they were outside in another field. Probably eating a lot and getting ready to be "bacon pigs". Harry told me that with the older kids, the farmer explained a lot about the animals and their role to be meat for our meals. Glad I wasn't in that group. In the picture, Bella is holding a "chicken nugget chicken."

We also went into a garden where everything that had been planted was done by children during various field trips to the farm. The kids got to pick raspberries right off of the bushes, eat carrots out of the ground, and pick green beans to eat. They also tried basil and dill.

At the end of the trip, I stopped in the farm store and got some (very) fresh summer sausage from some poor unsuspecting animal, but it was good.

All in all it was a very fun day!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Birthday

Well this past weekend was full of birthdays celebrations and even a birth! Saturday, we attended my nephew's 5th birthday. It was Star Wars themed and very fun. After the party, Becca, Harry, and Bella went to spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Erick and I had date night in celebration of his 41st birthday which was Saturday. We saw, Inglorious Bastards, which was very funny! Saturday we celebrated Erick's birthday with the kids. His big present was a new watch, but he also got a new coffee cup that we had got at the PGA tournament. Harry didn't think that was enough so we had to get a t-shirt that looks like a Vikings Favre jersey. Harry said the t-shirt would be better than a jersey for him because he likes t-shirts.

The other big news of the weekend was that my sister gave birth to a baby girl on Friday morning. Her name is Paige Marine. She is very cute!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yearly Cochlear Implant Tune-up

On Wednesday, we made our yearly pilgrimage to Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Each year before school starts, Isabella goes in to make sure her implants are working well and to also have her speech evaluated and check for any issues. Becca didn't come, but Harry, Bella, and I try to make it a fun excursion. It is about two hours away so for the drive down, Bella got to watch the Hannah Montana Movie. With no headphone splitter to be found, Harry was told he could use the DVD player on the trip home and also during Bella's appointments at Mayo.

Well, Mom had not done a good job of planning the trip and waited until the early morning to print out directions. Granted I've gone there every year for the last 3 years, but I forget the details of how to get there. Running late as usual, we pull into Mayo Clinic from a different direction than usual due to the fact that I had typed the wrong address into mapquest. Our appointment now starts in 5 minutes and I am still looking for somewhere to park. Only place I can find is a parking ramp that has a 2 hour time limit. A 2 hour time limit for a parking ramp? Insane. So we get out, go to Bella's first appointment with audiology and I have to leave her there so I can go get the car and find a different ramp that will allow us to stay all day. STRESSFULL!!

So the results of the appointments. The audiologists were impressed, as always, with Isabella's ability to hear. With both of her implants together she scored:

CNC list 10 (word list)-96% on words and 98% on phonemes

AzBio List 24(has to repeat full sentences back)- 90% correct

She was the youngest to ever have been given the Sentence Test because it is very challenging and usually for older children and adults.

Right implant only:
LNT Hard List 2 (word list): 76% words 82% phonemes

Left implant only:
LNT Hard List 2: 68% words 84% phonemes

As you can see, the above scores are yet another testament to the importance of bilateral implants.

After the implant check we went to see the speech pathologist at Mayo who Isabella sees on a yearly basis. She told me after seeing Isabella that she was scoring low in areas that other kids with hearing loss score low. These main areas are idioms (knowing what "it's raining cats and dogs means) and inferences (The man's shoes are wet, why do you think they are wet?). She explained that her research is showing that even with kids implanted very early they miss some of these things that other hearing kids pick up much more naturally. She also said that the emphasis on early learning is all about basic language (teaching directions, basic vocab, etc) and the things leading to higher level language get missed. Now we are searching for where to help Isabella gain this higher language. I wish we lived closer to Mayo and could go there every few weeks, but that is just not possible. Hopefully the SLP will have good recommendations for someone to see locally.

Well the highlight for the day was a lunch visit to a Pannekoeken restaurant. Harry thought it was kind of weird that the servers yell "pannekoeken" when they deliver one to someone who ordered it. If you have never been there before, a pannekoeken is a dutch pancake. Isabella loved it and had to order one so they would yell when it came to her.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is Purple the New Green- Favre Saga

If you live in MN, you have probably spent some time in the last two days wondering which of the following statements is true: A) We have been blessed B) Armageddon is close. Of course if you are not a football fan, you might just be wondering "Who the heck is Brett Favre and why does he spell his name like that if it is pronounced Farve?" Just turn on the TV for a few minutes and there will be several opinions about the MN Vikings new starting quarterback. For me, I guess it means that I will now watch the MN Vikings with a renewed, but cautious interest. I mean if you saw the press conference last night with Mr. Favre, he seems to be a man with a mission, but his arm is quite questionable. A torn rotator cuff and he still got $12 million dollars? Seems a bit risky to say the least. Well for better or worse I will watch the Vikings games and just hope I don't end up with a weekly depression if things turn sour.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today...

So last night my fellow classmates of Eden Prairie Class of '89 gathered together to reminisce. Due to my previous commitment with the PGA tournament I was unable to attend. Today on Facebook, I was bombarded with pictures of faces I remember from 20 years ago. Having only attended Eden Prairie for the second half of my junior year and my senior year, there were lots of people I only knew at an acquaintance level. Still it was fun to see the pictures. For the friends I did know well during my junior and senior year, I am glad to see that they look great and are having happy lives. Thinking I graduated 20 years ago does bring back a flood of emotions. Especially with a 13 year old daughter. To think she will graduate in 5 years is scary! I moved around a lot as a child/teen which made it difficult to establish long histories with friends. I am glad my kids haven't had to move around like I did (although they often tell me they wish they did). Perhaps someday when they go to reunions they will have lots of memories to look back on together!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More PGA Talk

So yesterday, I was outside my house with my camera trying to take pictures of the Goodyear blimp, when who should drive up next door? Angel Cabrera winner of the 2009 Masters. I have been trying to confirm that he was staying at our neighbor's house during the PGA tournament and now I have! Well, me being the dork that I am, asked his driver as he walked around if I could get a picture of Mr. Cabrera with my kids. Harry and Bella were excited and I think the picture turned out pretty cute! Angel Cabrera was very nice.

Today I volunteered at the PGA tournament for the Chaska Football Association. Our concessions stand was on the 15 hole. I worked from 6am-1pm. The first couple of hours were really quiet because all the golfers started today at the first hole and the crowds didn't show up until about 11:30am. From 11:30-1pm it was non stop! Instead of having kegs, each beer had to be individually poured into plastic cups. Thankfully, that wasn't my job, but I handled the registers and all of the lovely parts of customer service that go with that. For the most part, the customers were polite and well mannered, but there were some interesting encounters. Someone, upset with the fact that we couldn't give cups of ice so they could "split" their soda, said they would not be back next year. Considering Hazeltine is being torn down next season in preparation for the 2016 Ryder Cup, that shouldn't be a problem.

After my shift I was able to watch the tournament. I got to see Tiger Woods on the 3rd hole, 8th hole and the 9th hole. He truly is an amazing player and it was so fun to see the crowds of people following him around. It is hard to get a true idea on TV of how many cameras are constantly around him. I can't imagine how much pressure that must add to every one of his shots.

Tomorrow Becca and Harry will get to go to the PGA with a teacher from school.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Strange World of Homeopathy

As a parent of a special needs child, I am often willing to go outside of my comfort zone to seek out possibilities that will help my child. With that in mind, I have explored homeopathy over the last month and what it might be able to do to help Isabella. For those of you unaware of what homeopathy is, here is a brief definition: Homeopathy is a system of medicine that uses highly diluted doses from the plant, mineral and animal kingdoms to stimulate natural defenses in the body. Homeopathic remedies are based on the theory that "like cures like," and uses remedies that cause symptoms of a certain illness in one who is healthy in order to stimulate the body's natural defenses to heal those same symptoms in one who is ill. Sounds strange, I know! A little like voodoo. I started to explore homeopathy after reading the great successes it claims for children with autism. I felt that if it could help Isabella with her memory or learning issues at all, it was worth checking out. We gave her a first dose the second week of July and I really did see an improvement in attention and focus. Her ability to remember experiences and repeat them back seems to have improved a little also. It is a work in progress and I have not had any complete "A ha" moments, but I have seen enough improvements to keep going. Also, in Europe homeopathy is quite common and most medical doctors practice homeopathy to help their patients rather than relying on only drugs. I will keep everyone updated on this!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

PGA Mania

Okay, so the little town of Chaska has turned into a very difficult town to drive in and around. The PGA is here this week. Our neighborhood has people walking through it with their passes on their way to the tournament. More kids with lemonade stands than you can believe. Probably pretty profitable. Every restaurant in town is vying for a piece of the action with PGA specials. At the drycleaner yesterday, I saw someone had a car that had signs all around it offering it as a shuttle. Glad to see capitalism is alive and kicking! Oh and everybody around is going crazy to catch a glimpse of Tiger. I work at a concessions stand at the PGA on Saturday so I will get to join in on the craziness myself. Can't post any pictures though. No cameras, no cellphones allowed.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Here in Minnesota we are just getting temperatures that resemble summer and now it is already time for Fall sports to start! Harry started football last night and will be part of the orange team this year. He has played for the last three years and really enjoys it. That is when he's not complaining about getting his gear on, how heavy it is, or that he doesn't want to wake up for Saturday morning practice. His coaches seem very nice this year. They are laid back, but knowledgeable about the sport. I am all about discipline and consequences, but hearing grown men scream at elementary school boys unnerves me. Luckily, it doesn't appear that we will have that problem this year.

Also the PGA mania has begun! We live in a neighborhood that borders Hazeltine Golf Course where the 2009 PGA will be played, so there is lots of excitement. Next door, there is a golfer renting our neighbors' house for the week. I am told it is Angel Cabrera winner of the 2009 Masters. I have not seen him with my own eyes yet, so I can't confirm. Pretty exciting though!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The picture with this post is the drawing that Bella did today at a birthday party. It was an art studio and they used paint, crayons, and salt to create the picture. The guitar is made out of clay. I thought it was pretty cute! She wants me to hang it up in her room.

Poor Erick has been in the basement all day cleaning it. Having an unfinished basement is so hard to keep clean because we rarely go down there. It's basically a dumping ground and then I shut the door. Out of sight, out of mind. Now when the workmen come to fix stuff in the basement, I won't have to fear for their safety and wonder if they are going to report me to some agency.

Harry, Becca and I went to see the musical "Little Shop of Horrors" at Chaska Valley Family Theater. It is a local community theater that Harry and Becca have done plays at in the past. Even Bella did a play there when she was only four. It was kind of a nightmare with Bella because some of the shows went until 10pm and I was constantly worried that she would trip and fall into the orchestra pit during her scene. It was the musical "Camelot" and Bella and Harry were frogs from the enchanted forest. Becca was an enchanted mushroom. The picture above to the left is from the show.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Today was a bump in the road. Isabella has been struggling over the last few months with her left ear and fluid. She had a tube in it, but it became infected so her ENT, Dr. Rimmel removed it back in February. Since then we have been monitoring fluid that was still sitting behind her eardrum. Today we did a CT and it still showed fluid so she will have a new tube put in Sept. 8. I was really hoping the fluid had gone away, but no such luck! Sept 8 is the earliest we could get in and also the first day of school which is not ideal. Bella was excited to get a kit that has real examples of the Dr. gloves, surgical mask, anesthesia mask and gauze they will use for the surgery. Harry and Bella are playing Dr. right now as we speak.

On the happier side of news in the family, Harrison has been asked to do a second audition for a movie that is filming in Iowa starting in Sept. What day in September you ask? Well of course it is Sept. 8. At this point we will just hope he does well at the audition and work out any potential conflicts if and when we need to worry.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Girl Scout Camp

This week I have been at Twilight Girl Scout camp with Bella as one of her unit leaders. Harry gets to go too, into the sibling area. This year the theme has been Elemental Twilight camp and we have been focusing each day around the elements of Water, Air, Fire, Earth. It is all outside and there is A LOT of walking involved! I forget how tired I get and really wonder how the young girls do it. Comparing Isabella to how she did last year is kind of fun. Last year she had alot more trouble keeping up with the group with all the walking, but this year she is doing much better! Harry gets to do all of the same activities in sibling care. Yesterday he did geocaching and I think he is hooked. We really need to try this as a family some weekend! If you have never tried it (or don't know what it is) you should visit to find out more info. Basically it is like doing a treasure hunt with a gps system. The "caches" are hidden all around. There are lots all over the US and I even think around the world!

Becca has been babysitting this week for her cousin who is 1 1/2. It's a long day from 7:15am-6:00pm. Today she was really tired. Perhaps this will make her more sympathetic in the end to me, but in the interim it is making her crabby. This weekend we will all need some serious rest from our busy week!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Endeavor

Okay, so I've wanted to start a blog for awhile now. I'm not sure of the topics or content at this point, but figure it will focus alot on the kids and their many adventures! The main characters will be Erick, a distinguished business man who is also an excellent father and husband. Me, Tonia, a mother of 3, who is on a continuing mission to find that perfect balance between family and self. Rebecca, eldest daughter of the Rowe household who has a good heart and a very strong personality. Harrison, only son of the Rowe household who at the tender age of 10 is torn between a future career in acting or his lofty ambitions of becoming a theoretical physicist. Last, but not least there is Isabella. At just 7 1/2, Bella has had more life experiences that some adults. She was born perfectly healthy, but at just 7 weeks she developed bacterial meningitis that left her profoundly deaf. She has had bilateral cochlear implants since she was 6 1/2 months old, making her the youngest bilateral recipient in the world. The meningitis also created some learning gaps for Bella which we work to improve. All in all just a typical family of 5!