Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Whoops again...

I was not sure whether to laugh or cry today during homeschool. Another one of those "mild hearing loss" moments occurred again with Bella. I am wondering if I will have alot of these moments now that she is getting older and since I am working with her so much in a teaching capacity. Anyway, we were talking about the sounds of ea and how sometimes ea makes a short "e" sound and other times it makes a long "e" sound in words. Then we went over a list of ea words. After each word we also discussed its meaning if I thought she might not know what it was. One of the words was "death". I asked her what death meant. She paused for a moment, then she said, "I think that's when you can't hear with your ears." I said, "No honey, that's deaF, this word is "deaTH." Then she just looked at me smiling and said, "Well Mom, I guess that is just one of those words that sounds different to me." So poignant for a 7 year old. I am really understanding how much context helps her on a daily basis. I never realized how many words have similar sounds and when your hearing is not perfect you really rely on the meaning of the sentence around words to help you know which word is being said.

Keep Smiling

Well my mantra over the last few days has been "keep smiling". Sometimes, when life is giving you bad days and troubling times, smiling can do wonders to keep your spirits up.
Over the weekend, Erick left on Saturday to go to Australia. It didn't turn out as expected. He had a connecting flight in Atlanta and due to bad weather on the way there, his flight was delayed getting in and he missed his plane. Turns out you can't get to Australia on a Sunday, so he would have had to wait to leave on Monday and would have missed the meeting he was trying to attend in Australia. It was quite a fiasco, but we are glad he is here with us this week instead of traveling. KEEP SMILING.
On Saturday, Bella had a swim meet. She did the front crawl and the breaststoke. She picked the strokes. She had to swim two laps of the front crawl and one lap of the breaststroke. Her time for the front crawl was 1.20.49 and for the breaststroke it was 46.10. Her swimming has really improved this season and she is building up endurance. Harry came with me to the swim meet and I put him in charge of filming Bella's heats. Well, the front crawl got filmed, but when it came time for the breaststroke he was no where to be found. After the heat, I still couldn't find him so I helped get Bella showered and dressed. Finally, after Bella was ready, I found Harry outside playing with the flip Mino recorder, making videos of himself. To say I was unhappy would be an understatement. KEEP SMILING.
As a treat for Bella, we went to see "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" after the swim meet. It was a very cute movie with lots of fun images and opportunities to smile.
On Sunday, Harry got to play a football game on the stadium field of the brand new Chanhassen High School. It was very exciting. He actually played for the other team because they didn't have enough players. He had a fun opportunity to play running back during the game. The game went very long (not sure why) so after two hours of playing football, Harry was beat. Of course the day of football had just begun as we went home to watch the Vikings on TV. We had recorded it so we wouldn't miss a second. I didn't listen to the radio on the way home to avoid any score spoilers. The game was good, very up and down for the Vikings. Then towards the end we realized something. The game was going long and our recording was going to miss the last part of the game. KEEP SMILING. With just 1:04 of the game left, our recording ran out. On any given game this would be bad, but in Sunday's game, you know the one where the game winning historic Favre touchdown pass was thrown with 2 seconds left, it REALLY counted. So we were left to watch the great pass and catch on the updates. KEEP SMILING.
Oh, if you are having a bad day or just need a quick smile, watch the video below. Just click on the link. It is guaranteed to help you KEEP SMILING!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Something That Made Me Go Hmmm...

Sometimes I truly forget that Bella still has a mild hearing loss with her cochlear implants. Most of the time I go about the day and she always seems to hear me. In the car, up in her bedroom, even across the way when her brother and sister are playing guitar hero next to her. But then there are times when I am snapped back to the reality of her hearing loss. Today during homeschool I was saying something about the word "long." She responded in an appropriate way to the question and then she paused and said, "When you said long, it reminds me of Harry mowing the lawn." I stopped for a moment. Long and lawn? That seemed like an odd connection. I didn't really get it until I stopped and said the words slowly to myself. To her, long and lawn sound the same. Even when we stopped to say the words slowly, she didn't get the difference. It was not until I wrote the words down to show her what letters were in them, did she start to see the difference. Then we repeated the words in the following way, "That fruit roll up is really LONG." "Harry usually mows the LAWN." After saying the words I had her feel the "ng" sound vs. the "n" sound.
Well it was a learning moment for both of us. I continually learn how little things can be so much harder for her and what a trooper she is on a daily basis!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nothing Like a Good Stompin'

The Rowe's were on the move again this weekend with lots of activities! Saturday started with Becca attending the 1st of 4 Saturdays morning lacrosse clinics. She had played lacrosse this past Spring for the first time and she really liked it. There was no fall league so we found a few clinics she could attend to keep up her skills until next Spring.

Harry kicked off the weekend with another football game. This time it was a loss to Eden Prairie. For those of you not from around here, Eden Prairie is like the 1985 Chicago Bears, EVERY YEAR! They rarely lose and the youth program is as good as the high school team. Ironic, since when I attended Eden Prairie high school, winning a football game would have signalled Armageddon. Anyway, the Orange Crush kept it tied until halftime, and then Eden Prairie scored 2 touchdowns in 5 minutes. The game was cut short by a back injury of one of Harry's teammates. Thankfully, he is o.k., but he did ride away in an ambulance to get checked out. His team is now 2-3 for those keeping score.

Bella started a new speech program on Saturday which I think will be helpful. The focus will be on getting a consistent "s" sound in sentences with lots of "s" sounds. Also, to work on not dropping the "s" sounds at the end of words. The speech pathologist did make an interesting point that some of the dropped "s" sounds came from improper breath use on Bella's part. I had never heard that before. Last, but not least, there will be an emphasis on increasing Bella's vocabulary and higher level language use such as inferences and idioms.

Today I was able to check off an item on my bucket list. Ever since I saw the old I Love Lucy where Ethel and Lucy did the grape stomping, I have wanted to do it too. Well today the whole family went to a local winery in Jordan, MN and did some wine stomping. It was fun and quite messy. There was music, wine tasting, and a caricature artist. I put the drawings at the bottom of the blog. Strangely enough we had a caricature done of the kids about 4 years ago and it turns out that it was done by the same person. Now that I have done grape stomping, I have to figure out how/when to go swim with the dolphins!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Week in Review

I'm not sure, but I think the economy is turning around. Why do I say that? Well, Erick has not traveled much at all for work over the last 6-8 months. Now...he is traveling almost every week. I don't know for sure if work travel is an official economic indicator, but I think it might be. Anyway, he was gone a few days last week to Boston and then he left to go back on Monday and will get back late tonight. In a week, he might be headed to Australia. In October he has trips scheduled to Dubai and Paris.

I have been busy keeping the household running. On Monday, Bella had her first Brownie meeting of the year. She was very excited since she bridged to Brownies at the last girl scout meeting last year. This year should be quite an adventure in Brownies as they will be going on outings as a group. As you can see from the picture, she was very proud in her new vest. Harry also had football practice on Monday night. Getting the kids to their various activities with Erick gone can be quite a challenge. With the help of friends and family, we get it done.

On Tuesday, Harry won his second football game of the season. I would say his team is on a roll, but I don't want to jinx it. The exciting part of the game was that Harry got to play center for the last part of the game. Apparently, his coaches were not happy by the usual center's performance so they asked on the sidelines if anyone else has ever played center. Harry saw this as his big chance and raised his hand. He later confided to me in the car that he had never actually played center before in a game only in practice last year. Well, his snaps looked good, so he might have the opportunity to play the position in future games.

Homeschooling is going well. I feel we are starting to get into a rhythm. I am meeting with an old high school friend that I haven't seen in years on Saturday night. She also homeschools so I can't wait to see what works for her!

Last night was the kick off of Wednesday night church activities. This year we have a lot of changes. Becca has decided to do choir this year before confirmation, Harry is doing bell choir before the 5th-6th youth group meets and Bella has a new choir for older kids that uses sheet music to follow along with. Bella said she likes using the sheet music because it is easier to read the words than to try and hear what the words are with everyone singing. I never thought about this before. I'm glad she is getting old enough to really understand and verbalize what things work to help her when she is missing things from not hearing.

Okay, ready for the bad mom story of the week? Here it is. I had written down that Harry's bell choir and Becca's choir both started at 5pm. I dropped them off at the church and instead of going in like a good mom on the first day and making sure the times were right and they got to where they needed to go, I saw it as a good time to make a quick trip over to Costco with Bella. I came back to church at 5:40pm and realized that I had sent Harry to the intermediate bell choir with middle schoolers. His was really supposed to start at 5:45pm. Well I apologized to the teacher, but she said it was fine and that Harry was very musical and did very well with the group. Oh well...

The weekend is gearing up to be a busy one with another football game, new speech for Bella, swimming, and a lacrosse clinic for Becca. Luckily, Erick will be back to help.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Football, Outlaws, and Rodeos...Oh My!

What a full Saturday! We started with a football game in the morning where Harry's team, the Orange Crush, won its first game of the season. They now stand at 1-2 with many more wins to come (hopefully). It was then off to Bella's swimming where she again looked very good in the water. Her teacher introduced the side breath for the front crawl which appears it will take a while to achieve.

Then it was off to the Defeated Jesse James days in Northfield, MN. Harry, Becca, Bella, my Mom and I went, but we left Erick home to rest and get some alone time. The Jesse James days celebrates the heroics of town residents on the day of Sept. 7, 1876, when Frank and Jesse James, along with their gang of outlaws, tried to rob the 1st national bank in Northfield. Instead of a successful robbery, two of their gang were killed and the others were captured. Only Frank and Jesse James got away, but their level of successful bank robberies was never the same after the day in Northfield.

We watched a reenactment of the event in front of the real 1st National Bank, which has been restored, but still stands where it did that day. They used real guns that shot blanks and Bella kept saying how loud it all was. She enjoyed it despite of the loud gunshots.

After the reenactment we went to the Jesse James Days Rodeo. I myself had never been to a rodeo. The kids had gone before with my Mom to a few at the State Fair. It was very interesting. Lots of music (Kid Rock was a favorite) and excitement. Of course we had to add our own excitement to the night! Right before the rodeo started, Becca tapped me and said, "Mom I think I am allergic to something!" I looked at her cheek and it was bright red with white hives. Just a few minutes prior to this, the picture from above was taken, where a horse brushed his nose against her cheek. Becca's been around horses many times before so I know she's not allergic to them, but someone said they spray them with fly spray and I think that's what caused the reaction. For the first half of the rodeo, she said her face felt like it was on fire and being poked with needles. Then it seemed to settle down.

During the rodeo I was surprised by something called Mutten Busters. Apparently kids sign up before the rodeo starts to ride sheep like a bucking bronco and see how long they can stay on. To me, it didn't appear very safe. The kids were small, about 5-8 years old, and those sheep threw them off hard. Then the kids had to quickly scramble off of the ground to avoid being stepped on by the sheep. Harry, of course, stood up immediately after it was over and said, "Next time, I'm signing up for that!" Hmm... what's the phrase I'm looking for...Oh yeah! Over my dead body!!!!

The rodeo went very long. It started at 8pm and didn't end until shortly after 10pm. Around 9pm, the announcer said that the first 10 kids with cowboy boots to climb over the fence and get in the arena were going to participate in a contest. Well, of course Bella had her red cowboy boots on so I quickly brought her to the fence and over she went. She ran to the middle of the arena with the rodeo clown with the other kids. The contest was to take off your cowboy boots, run back end of the arena and back again and then find your boots (which they had all mixed up) and put them on first. Bella didn't win, but she sure had fun!!!

We didn't get back home until after midnight. We were all were exhausted. Today, we are hoping for a Vikings win and a day of recovery.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Back To School

Big week... Tuesday was back to school. Becca (8th grade) and Harry (5th grade) returned to World Learner School which is a Montessori charter school in Chaska. We decided that Bella (2nd grade) needed more repetition to fully cement important concepts in her mind. And so... Rowe Academy was born. Yes, I am going to homeschool for Bella for 1/2 of the day and then she will go to World Learner in the afternoon. I have to say that last Sunday and Monday I was having a bit of a panic attack. The following thoughts (and more) were running rampant in my mind: What are you thinking? You can't teach! Have you lost your mind? Do you really want to be responsible for educating a child? Well, I have to say that so far the days have gone quite well. I have my teacher's planner (so official) and all of the books I chose over the summer as our curriculum. I am also using an online computer program called Time4learning for language, science, and social studies. I'm sure I will learn and evolve a lot over the year from this experience.

Harry had an interesting first week at school. He is working to become more organized and thoughtful in his work. Last year, he had some issues with getting behind and not turning in his follow-on to lessons. After many discussions this summer about the importance of establishing daily/weekly priorities in school work, Harry appears to be committed and focussed.

Now for the interesting part of the week. Yesterday, Harry and a classmate decided they were interested in making contact with the Dalai Lama. At first they had considered writing him a letter, but after some thought, decided it would be quicker to call him. Now for those of you not familiar with Montessori, the overall theme is to follow the child. "No," is not a word that Montessori teachers like to use as they feel it limits a child's learning. Harry asked his teacher if he could call the Dalai Lama and his teacher said yes, but that she didn't know his number. So off to google goes Harry and the other boy. Amazingly enough, the Dalai Lama has his own website complete with a phone number. I haven't actually confirmed this, it is what Harry told me. Anyway, the phone number began with 911...you may be able to see where this story is going. Harry dials the number starting with 911 and is surprised when he is connected to 911 emergency. He tells the person that he has the wrong number and then hangs up. He calls again and you guessed it, the 911 operator answers again. This time the person asks to speak to Harry's teacher. I am not sure what the teacher said (I still have an email to ask for her recap of the whole situation), but I do know that the sheriff also came to the school during recess to get some additional information. Ah...the beauty of Montessori. Follow the child and you never know where the road will lead. Sometimes, I wish Harry would take the road more traveled, but that's not his nature.

Becca started her school year on a middle school retreat. Every year they use the first couple days of school to go on a retreat so the kids can form a bond that will hopefully carry over to the school. It seems like she had fun, but she had a run in with leeches in the lake and she has the broken capillaries in her hands to prove it.

I wonder what next week will bring...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

End of Summer

Okay, it might not be the official end of summer, but unofficially summer is just about over. School will start on Tuesday and fall activities have begun.
Yesterday, Bella started her fall session of swimming lessons. We decided to do private lessons again with the FABULOUS teacher, Miss Stephanie, at Foss Swim School. Bella has been taking lessons for almost a year now, but last session was the first time we did private. It is much easy to gear the class to Bella's strengths and needs in a private environment. Also, it is easier to have her come back to the end of the pool to get the next set of instructions since she can't swim with her implants. Miss Stephanie told us yesterday that one of her students went to swim with the Olympic team this summer and she was only 15! She thinks Bella could be a really good swimmer with the right guidance because as she says, "Bella has a swimmers body." I was a little nervous to go to swimming yesterday because I wasn't sure how Bella would do. We didn't take formal lessons during the summer and it has been so cold this summer that we haven't spent a lot of time swimming. Well, Bella got into the water and her kick was so even! You could have knocked me over with a feather! Her uneven kick is something that has always plagued Bella in the water. Due to her right sided weakness and difficulties with coordination, it has always been tough to kick both legs with the same force. Yesterday, she just did it! Perhaps it is due to the chiropractic adjustments and homeopathic remedy we are using. Who knows, but it was so great to see!
One thing I have noticed from the homeopathic remedy that we started with Bella is more attitude and anger. This is something that the homeopath warned me about when we first started. It is not all the time, but she definitely is not as compliant as she was before we started the remedy. I am told these "outbursts of anger" are her true personality and show that her brain is processing things the way it should now. Great, doesn't surprise me since my other two have this trait also.
Yesterday we also celebrated my brother's birthday. He is going to school in South Dakota right now so we don't get to him that often. It was a fun end to the day!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hospital Day

Today was Isabella's surgery date for a new ear tube in her left ear. It was originally set up for Sept. 8, but due to a cancellation, she was able to get in today. We were so excited because Sept. 8th is the first day of school and that would not have been the best day for surgery.

Bella has had surgeries in the past, (ear tubes, her cochlear implants) but nothing since she was about 2 1/2 so she didn't remember how it felt to go to the hospital or what to expect. She was so brave. On the way to the hospital, I asked if she was nervous and she said, "No, Mom. I'm fine, it's going to be quick!" That's what I have been telling her over the last few weeks, so glad to hear she had been listening.

Bella was fine while the nurses talked to her and she got the hospital pj's on. All the doctor's came in to see her and she smiled and laughed. As her bed got wheeled into the OR she started to look a bit panicked, but she remained brave. Who can blame her? All of the bright lights and the tools in the OR scare me too! She took 5 big breaths with the gas mask (covered in the Strawberry Skittles lipgloss she choose so that it smelled good) and it was off to dreamland.

The ear tube surgery was super quick. Whole time in surgery was 20 minutes. Then we had to wait around for the anesthesia to wear off. She was very low key for the first few hours we came home, but then she asked to do some homework. What can I say, she loves to learn! Definite highlights of the hospital experience were the two packs of cookies she ate in recovery along with the Sprite and the Hello Kitty balloon she got at the end.

We go back in 4 weeks to see her ENT, but he said the fluid behind the eardrum looked clear so hopefully the new tube is the fix we needed!

The pictures show her before and after surgery. The one cuddled up with the blankets is before and the other one is after her cookies and Sprite lunch. Before the surgery, Bella also stopped to say "hi" to Charlie Brown.