Friday, December 17, 2010
Now I know it is often frowned upon to see your childrens' achievements as your own, but let's be honest...It's something everyone has done at some point in their lives. I mean really, that A on a big history test is theirs, but didn't we help them review the study guide? Or what about that big game winning touchdown. True, they caught the ball or ran, but who played catch with them outside and brought them to all those nightly practices? Sometimes the great achievement of a child is just what a parent needs after a stress filled day (or season) to improve their mood.
So about that gift...well it came from Bella. As you may have read in earlier posts, there are definite struggles Bella faces. There are good days and then there are really challenging days in the areas of academics, memory recall, and concentration. But yesterday? It was like everything came together for a 12 hour period. Everything we worked on in homeschool came easily, including things she had been struggling over for a long period (yeah, I'm talking to you 2 digit subtraction with regrouping). No constant reminders, independent working, incredible focus. It was amazing!
Later in the day we proceeded to swim team. She has been doing well, but she had continued to struggle with the freestyle stroke and side breathing. Kicking and balancing on one side while taking a breath was a hard feat. Note I said WAS hard. The gift continued with a perfect night of swimming. Side breath/balance mastered! Kicking on the kickboard without losing control of the kickboard...Nailed it!
The gift was like a recognition of all the hard work she puts in everyday. It was a glimpse of what she is truly capable of when she is going on all cylinders. It was a heaven sent reminder of how far she has come and a peek into her future potential.
It was a gift that I will treasure forever and will try really hard to hold on to, especially when there is a hard day.
Monday, December 13, 2010
So now the snow is over for the moment. Yet Mother Nature isn't done with her fun just yet. The temps for us have plunged into the -15 degree category (air temp) with windchills at -20 degrees. The high today will be 2 degrees, if you can call that a high. The sensation of breathing in and feeling the inside of your lungs start to freeze up a little is something that you never really get used to. Oh and CNN made a good point today...It's not even Winter yet.
This weekend I think we try to fit in a visit to Santa. I'm sure all but Bella will complain and say they are much too old for that nonsense. I am going to try and convince Harry and Becca that we need to join together forces, sit on Santa's lap and ask for some warm weather. Who knows? Maybe, just maybe we can get a day in the 30's. Which right now would feel like a tropical paradise!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
This time of year does bring some favorite kids moments. Almost every year one of the kids says something cute and funny that I swear I will never forget (and yet somehow I do). If only I had written down the funny comments...Oh well, it does seem like a good topic for a book. "Classic Christmas One Liners From Kids". Who knows, perhaps it already exists. Anyway here is the latest Rowe kid Christmas funny, brought to you by Bella.
Bella-(While listening to the holiday classic "Santa Baby" on the radio...) Mom, who sings this song?
Me- Oh I don't know honey, it's pretty old.
Bella- I'm pretty sure it's Santa's Mom because she keeps calling him honey and cutie.
Other than experiencing precious moments like the one detailed above, us Rowe's have started our whirlwind tour of the holidays. We spent Thanksgiving at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells and another cabin. The pictures below show that fun was had by all at the waterpark!
Due to Harry's birthday occurring December 2, it always feels like someone says "START!" the week of Thanksgiving and it is a mad dash through the month of December. This year Harry turned 12. Harry has always put a lot of thought into what he wants for his birthday. I guess when you have Christmas and your birthday in the same month, it feels like a lot of pressure to make sure you "get it right" because you have to wait a whole year to ask for something again. Anyway, Harry's request this year was for a drum set. Now those of you who know Harry or have read about him on here, know that he is very musical. He already plays the piano and guitar, and he said he wanted to teach himself the drums. Well, long story short, drum sets were out of the price range for a birthday gift, even a birthday/Christmas combined gift. So we went a different route. We entered the world of Snowboarding.
Now my reasoning for the Snowboard started off sound: There is a skiing/snowboard club at his school, he's always wanted to do it, snowboarding would be a good source of winter exercise, etc. What I didn't anticipate in my reasoning was the true cost. After the snowboard, boots, helmet, goggles, gloves, bags, and lessons, we were verging very close to the drum set cost. Oh well, it is good exercise and I don't have to listen to all the practicing, right?
Last Friday, he had his first lesson. It came in the middle of a good 'ol Minnesota snowstorm. Driving to the ski hill took 2 hours (should be a 25 minute drive). FYI, they don't cancel snowboard lessons due to a snowstorm...it's kind of what they live for. Well, I hate driving in the snow. The highway had about 8 lanes of traffic and the roads were not plowed. The good news is that I was gripping the steering wheel so tight for the drive, it was like getting an upper body workout.
Harry did great at his lesson and his instructor told me he was a "natural". He even got off of the bunny hill and went on a big hill the first night! He was pretty exhausted from the experience and both he and Bella fell asleep on the way home. Great for me, because the drive home was no better. Frozen snow on windshield wipers + snow falling at the rate of an inch an hour + roads still not plowed = Major headache and 1 hour 45 minute drive home.
But as the skiers/snowboarder instructors said on shuttle bus, "The snow is beautiful!"
Sunday, November 14, 2010
During the service there was lots of talk about relying on God and using him to help navigate your path through life. The Pastor spoke about how you just need to call on God and he will be there for you. Well, I wish a had a tiny speck of God's wisdom because what I am currently struggling with in the parenting department is not BEING there for my children, but HOW to be there for them...
As a parent, I really want the best for my kids. What is difficult is seeing them make mistakes that is going to impede their success. Then I begin to think, are they really making mistakes or are they just doing things differently than I would. This is where having a "Type A" personality and a bit of a control freak vibe has its downsides. It is easy for me to blur the lines of WHAT the kids need to do with HOW they need to do it. Example? OK. Let's take Harry's recent History test. I told him how it was a really important test because it was 50% of his grade. I explained that if I were him, I would start studying a few days prior to the test. Anyway, the night before the test came and he studied, but it got late and he fell asleep and didn't get a chance to study the map portion. Guess where he missed a lot of points? He still got a "B" on the test, but what if he had taken my advice and started studying earlier?
I have begun to discover what long lines of parents before me have already figured out. As your kids get older, it begins to be harder to figure out what they need and how to best support them. Gone are the days when a Princess or Elmo band-aid makes things "all better." Asking them what they need does not always produce results as most of the time they are either unaware or unwilling to put their needs into words. Even Bella at the tender age of 8 has begun to adopt a bit of an attitude when she is faced with things that she would rather avoid.
So I guess it is best to take the "put one foot in front of the other" approach. This is something new for me and let me tell you it is not easy. Lately our family has faced a lot of transition and not all of it has gone smoothly. New schools, new classes, and new expectations have produced lots of stress filled discussions. I am now beginning to see that there is no "quick fix" and that instead it will take a process to change the current battles. And my motto has been forced to change to "let it begin with me" although I am much more comfortable with the "you fix it" phrase.
Monday, November 1, 2010
First stop-the haunted hayride. Now, I have to admit that I quite enjoyed this part of the trip. The weather was beautiful for a late October night in MN. Low 50's and no wind. You could smell the leaves and the bonfire at the event. As we boarded the hayride, we planned to position ourselves as close to the middle as possible to avoid direct contact with any monsters or bloody creatures we might encounter. Unfortunately, we ended up sitting on the side of the hayride with our feet dangling off the sides, just waiting for some "freak of nature" to pop out of the dark and attack us. The good news was the hayride was pretty tame. Yes there were a few scares here and there, but for the most part it was low key. If you ask me, it appeared that a lot of the workers had not arrived for their shift yet. There were long stretches of the hayride with no scares or thrills. Perhaps as the night went on, the ride became scarier...
Feeling pretty confident after the hayride, we went off to some of the "haunted trailers". I should have known my fairly calm demeanor was about to change as we encountered a man who appeared to be a "scarecrow with no face." Now that might not sound scary to you, but faces and eyes are my "scary triggers." At the age of 8, I watched the movie "Omega Man" with Charlton Heston and I have never been the same since. All the zombies in the movie had weird eyes with tiny pupils, since they don't go out in the light. The end of the "Thriller" video when Michael's eyes got weird? Hated it! To this day, I can't watch the Blue Men Group, with their strange blues faces and their unnatural blue eyes. In the picture above, Bella put on some scary eyes and even that freaked me out a little. Anyway, when we arrived at the first trailer it was called "Phobia Frights". From the outside, it was just a brown trailer, but inside? Let's just say I became a different person. It was like a maze inside the small building with people jumping out at you at every corner and not just jumping out. They FOLLOWED you as you tried to run away. It was terrifying! After the first scary turn, I walked behind Harry, using him as my human shield to protect me from the horrifying displays and characters. Healthy, right? Hey, I'm not proud of it. All those protective mothering instincts kind of flew out the window and I was all about personal survival. Harry was actually not that scared and proceeded to go into other trailers including the 3D circus and the Butcher house. I survived part of the 3D circus, but after being chased down one corridor by a bloody clown with a pretend knife, the 5 of us went out the closest door marked "exit", which evidently was not the correct way out. The scary clown actually tried to tell us she would take her mask off if we wanted to try it again. Nothing like feeling like a 2 year old who is frightened of Santa. I did not venture back in to that trailer, mask or no mask...
Taking a break from the scary portions of the event, we all decided to venture into the psychic tent. Now I am a sucker for a good psychic reading! I have had several readings during my life. It's not that I believe everything they say, but some of the stuff is spot on, so who knows? Becca and Harry have never had a reading so it seemed like as good of time as any. Becca was told she should stick closer to home to help people (she had talked about joining the peace corps after high school for a year) and Harry was told he was a bit of a math genius who was born too late. She said he could have invented "Facebook", but that if he works hard to study he will develop something on his own that will be fabulous. I was told that I should start a charter school for special needs children (that was with me not telling her about Bella and her issues!) Kind of freaky and not sure what to do with that. I'm going to keep it a day at a time at this point and not go there.
Final Stop-The trail of terror. We stood in line for 40 minutes to enter this thing and Harry made a good point to me. He said, "It's just like one of those trailers we just went in, but super-sized." Kid had a good point! I spent the rest of the time in line fretting about the experience. Someone in line asked if it was "scary". The worker said, "It depends what you think is scary." So true! Scary is very subjective and personal. What scares me (driving in confined parking ramps that spiral around) may not scare you at all. Still, I think most everyone found something to be frightened of at "the trail of terror." Once we got inside, we were greeted with spooky music and loud noises such as thunder. For the next 3/4 of a mile we battled more spooky clowns, black lit rooms with lots of blood splatter, and various other horrific scenes. At one point a miniature spooky clown started following Harry and every time he stopped to see if she was still behind him, she would shriek in his face. By the end, Harry was running away to escape her wrath.
Happy to say we all escaped unharmed (in case you were worried). The last unsettling element of the night was when we couldn't find our car. Becca and Harry kept saying they were sure the car had been stolen, as we walked up and down the aisles searching. After 20 minutes of looking, we found the car and were ecstatic to leave the monsters, ghosts, and clowns to scare someone else.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Adaptations are everywhere in life. We all have strengths and weaknesses and it is up to us to find out the best way to capitalize on those strengths while minimizing the areas that are harder. Recently Bella discovered one of her adaptations. She prefers music that has very repetitive, simple choruses so that she can understand the words and sing along. She told me this the other day in the car, yet not in those exact words. It was more like, "Mom, I really like this song (current will.i. am. song "Check it Out", hence the reason for the blog title) because it just keeps saying the same thing over and over in the middle." Lucky for her, most songs on the radio today follow this pattern. She really does love singing along in the car to popular songs on the radio. I thought is was fun to hear her start to discover things she likes because they suit her the best.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Yesterday was Bella's annual IEP meeting. Not only was it the IEP meeting, but it was her 3 year review where lots of tests are given over a months period to evaluate her progress and requalify her for the next 3 years of services. Even more fun. I don't care which child it is, I really dislike seeing all of their needs/problems written down in black and white. It is something that does not get easier over time. So every year I have the same goal for myself before the meeting. Don't be too emotional! In simple terms, that means don't have a breakdown and cry like a baby. Well, I can't say I was totally successful with the goal, but I almost made it all the way through and the tears were short lived. I guess I'm just a highly emotional person and the meetings are just too emotionally charged.
In the meeting we went over all of the tests given to Bella over the past month. Most were given to her by her Deaf/Hard of Hearing teacher, some by her speech teacher, and the other was the standardized MAP test which everyone in grades 3-12 take 2x a year. The good news was that the leader of the IEP meeting gave me the full report to read through on Monday, so I wouldn't be caught off guard by any of the results. That was so helpful (Thanks Deana!) and allowed me to think through questions and comments before the meeting. The last time Bella had this big battery of tests for her IEP was in Kindergarten and you can imagine how much has changed since then.
Here's a quick overview of the test results for anyone who's interested:
- CELF test (Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals)- Her scores in Receptive Language were above average and for Expressive language they were average
- CASL test (Comprehensive Assessment of Spoken Language)-This test measures knowledge/use of words, grammar, and awareness of the appropriateness of language in specific situations. Bella was in the average range when compared to same-aged peers.
- Academic testing reflected needs in the areas of math and reading comprehension. No big surprises there.
Erick wasn't able to make it to the meeting, but he had his own stressful day. He spilled coffee on his work computer (and thought he had to buy a new one because it stopped working) and he left his car lights on at Target while taking a work call and burned out the battery.
What made the day better for both of us? Harry got his 1st touchdown ever in his football game. And it was the game winning touchdown at that. He was playing running back and took the ball 40 yards for the touchdown. Yeah Harry!!!!
Here's to a new day...
Sunday, October 17, 2010
One perception a lot of people have is that Minnesota is part of the arctic tundra. While this is definitely the case some parts of the year, lately we've actually been enjoying a beautiful fall. The leaves have changed color and most of them have fallen off, yet the temperatures remain mild. Last weekend the kids and I went to an apple orchard with my sister and her family. The temps were in the 80's and we were HOT! There are some things that are better with cooler weather and visiting the apple orchard is one of them. I'm not going to complain. I'd be happy if this weather was year round.
Another perception that has changed this week, is that Becca's transition to High School would be easy and stress free. You might have read a few weeks ago, that we all went out to dinner to celebrate the school year going well. Welcome to week 5. It appears that the Montessori background that Becca has been raised with for the past 8 years is producing some stumbling blocks in the "traditional school" environment. There is a bit of a "laissez faire" approach in a Montessori education in which teachers use a hands off approach and let the children develop on their own. For the most part it produces great results where kids become free thinkers and come up with their own ideas. What Becca is struggling with right now is balancing her own ideas with what her teachers are asking her to do. Put simply, when the teacher tells you that these 50 items will be checked in your science notebook the following day, they are serious. Pulling out side notes that are not in your notebook will produce a loss of points. Not checking your math homework because you are certain you did it correctly will result in low scores on tests. What Montessori taught Becca is invaluable; how to think outside the box. Now we need to help Becca learn the opposite; thinking inside the box and following teacher's instructions to the letter will produce good grades. It's tough to change the way someone views as the right way to tackle assignments (especially when that someone is very strong willed), but if we don't help Becca alter her perceptions of how to do homework, the next 4 years will be a nightmare.
It's hard to change your perceptions. Don't believe me? Just ask all the Minnesota Vikings fans that are trying to come to terms that the current Vikings football team is a shell of its 2009 self. And the return of Randy Moss is not the answer...
Thursday, October 7, 2010
First off, Becca had her first debate tournament. It was a very hectic morning since it was also the day for Minnetonka's homecoming dance. Things have changed since I was in school. There was no bus to take her to Roseville High School, only me. Long drive to make by 8am in the morning. Since this was her first experience with debate, she wasn't sure what to expect. Later she told me, kids were using laptops during their debates to both deliver their arguments as well as get evidence. My, how times have changed. Unfortunately, she lost all 4 of her rounds that day, but only by 1 point. Next week, she can reevaluate her delivery and hopefully be more prepared for the other teams' arguments. What is that phrase that Oprah always uses? "When you know better, you do better." I will be judging other schools at this week's tournament so it should be interesting.
Following the tournament, Becca had her first formal dance for Homecoming. How exciting, right? Well, if I am being truthful, the whole event was pretty overwhelming to me. You see, I have no experience with this particular part of high school. I'm not going to go into lots of gory details, but suffice it to say, I had a pretty dysfunctional childhood where high school dances were not part of the landscape. A few weeks ago, we shopped for a dress which was fun (anyone who knows me, knows that having an excuse to go shopping puts me in my "happy place"), but as the date grew closer, my anxiety about the whole thing started to grow. There was the dinner before hand, the friends I had never met, the accessories for the dress, her hair... All the details began to take on a life of their own. My sister was great, giving Becca shoes that looked great with the dress and getting her all excited about the event; a role I was having trouble playing. Thank goodness for Erick! He understood my anxiety (well, understood might be a strong word...more like accepted) and said he would drive her and meet the parents of the other kids. Of course everything went fine. Becca had lots of fun with her friends, but found the dance itself to be boring and a bit of a let down. She sure looked pretty in her dress! Having been through this whole dance thing once, will help me manage my expectations in the future. One can only hope..
Bella has had a tough week. I think the rigours of getting up early and having swimming 5x a week was taking a big toll. This week, I decided to drop her swimming to 4 days instead of 5, a schedule that I think will fit her better. It was the plan all along to adjust to 4 days at the end of October when Harry was done with football so we could go to church activities on Wednesdays. We just decided to make the switch earlier. Watching her in swimming is both rewarding and heartbreaking at the same time. When I am realistic about my expectations for her, I am much happier. She has made so much progress. She is able to get across the pool with much more ease now and her endurance seems to be building. Still, sometimes it is common to have unrealistic expectations for her. When there is a day (or two) where she struggles, I focus on the problems, rather than how far she has come. Then I shake the sanity back into my head and realize that I am lucky that she loves swimming so much because it helps her muscles so much and also remind myself that when she is out there with the other kids, she is working 3x harder than they are due to her inability to hear the directions/cues and also her physical issues. That's the funny thing about expectations. I think it is easy to have some met then continue to raise your expectations without a lot of thought about whether you should keep expecting more and more.
This week I am focusing on keeping my expectations in check. I am using this quote as a guide, "The best things in life are unexpected-because there were no expectations." Eli Khamarov
Thursday, September 30, 2010
After the carnival, it was off to Harry's football game. It was a home game against the BIG (I'm serious, their players are about twice the size of ours usually), bad Eden Prairie. One of my sisters (who lives in EP and is pictured above with me, Becca and one of her daughters) came to visit. The fun surprise? She brought my other sister, who recently moved to Seattle. It was fun catching up. She has also started blogging. Check out her blog. She always has a unique way of seeing things and she shares funny stories about her two adorable children. BTW, I stole the picture of Becca and me at the football game from her. Hope you don't mind, sis! The other pictures of Harry playing football are courtesy of my other sister.
As if a carnival and a football game in one day was just not enough adventure for the Rowe's, we continued our day with a dinner at Bennihana's. It was a dinner to celebrate the kids adjusting well to their new schools and surviving. Why so soon in the school year for a reward? Well, I'm sure most of you have heard that you should catch your children doing good and praise them for it, so that they don't always hear you complaining about what they do wrong. You never know how fast things can change and right now school is going well, so we decided to "catch" them now, before we may need to have another kind of discussion. Bennihana's is a fun restaurant where the Japanese chefs cook at your table and are filled with culinary tricks. It was a fun night, but when we got home at 9pm, all of us were exhasted!
Monday, September 20, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Whatever the reason for the change, I found myself wondering why I was in this position. Not in a negative way, more in a moment of curiosity, searching for a "greater meaning". With all that has happened in my life over the years, I have adapted an "everything happens for a reason" mentality. So why not this situation? I mean I have been super busy running around bringing kids to school, activities, and teaching Bella. Was this meant to be a break? Maybe a built in time for self reflection? A moment to breathe? I was locked in line with few choices. Ultimately I could have just left all the groceries and told someone I could no longer wait. It had already been 15 minutes waiting behind the man, and few people would have blamed me for this decision. The truth was I really didn't have to leave. Sure I was trying to make a class at the gym, but bottom line was that if I finished my checkout in the next 10 minutes, I would still make it in time for the class. So there I stood. Breathing in large, deep breaths to relax.
The ending of the story? I did make it to the gym on time. Patience is not my strong suit and slowing down and just "being" is outside of my comfort zone. So for 20 minutes I was forced to take a minute and "just be" even though it felt awkward and a little like having my hands and feet bound with ropes. Perhaps it was just what I needed at the time...
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Lessons learned this week:
1. Getting up at 5:45am is easier to do in theory.
2. Homework done in the car by a child can lead to needing a car wash later in the day when "said" child vomits out the window on the side of the car after getting carsick.
3. When a school says you will get 2 hours of homework a night, you will get 2 hours of homework a night.
4. Going to bed at 9pm isn't just for kids if you want to be able to survive and function well the next day.
5. No matter how many times you ask the question, "Are you ready to go," someone will inevitably have to run up the stairs at the last minute for something before you walk out the door.
One week of school down, WAY too many to go...
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Don't get me wrong, I have really enjoyed the Favre/Vikings era. It has come with heart pounding moments that make you clutch your chest in joy as well as sorrow. So the Vikings didn't go to the Superbowl which was a huge bummer, but without him they weren't really even playoff contenders. I guess that after watching the NFC championship game (that resembled the original Rocky movie more than a football game) my faith in Favre's abilities began to wane. I mean, he is 40 after all and the rest of the players are about 1/2 his age.
I really hope Harry has already heard the news up at camp. I don't want to be the one to tell him. I think he will take the news pretty hard.
Oh well, I guess we will wait for Favre's official announcement in the next few days... Then we can start counting the days until the buy week when he will come back in a media blaze of glory saving the Vikings from their 1-3 start and preparing to defeat his previous teammates on the Jets.
I guess we won't really know for awhile...
Friday, July 30, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
So with Erick out of town for 2 weeks, I faced another weekend of being home with the kids and wondering what to do with them. What better way to spend a Sunday than going to visit my old college and see a Corpse Flower? None that I could think of anyway.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
We leave for the cabin in two days and I am far from ready. I should be doing something right now, but it can wait a little longer.
Harry now has his braces. I've been trying to capture a picture, but he is not cooperating. I'll update when I have one ready. They've been on two days and the pain hasn't been terrible. I think his high level of adrenlin helped him through some of the discomfort. Seriously, I have never seen anyone so exicted to have metal brackets and colored rubber bands put on their teeth! Well, for the price, I'm glad his level of excitement is high!
Becca is back from her trip to Philmont for Venturing. I think she had a good time and met a lot of people, but she could have lived without the "hardcore camping" aspect of the trip. The holes for toilets and the constant dehydrated food were highlights she could have lived without. I don't blame her. I have never claimed to be a "camper". Sleeping on the ground in the great outdoors is not something I enjoy. Becca also had to use "bear bags" due to the bears in the area. They even saw one pretty close to their camp. I think the experience is something Becca will remember forever and she is proud that she completed it. It was a lot of hiking!
Looking forward to the upcoming week of peace and relaxation!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
This past weekend, Harry was in the play, Aladdin Jr. at our church. It has been a long time coming, as rehearsals started back in April. Last week, he was at the church from 9am-5pm every day putting on the finishing touches. It was a pretty exciting opportunity for Harry because he played Aladdin in the play. Below are some clips of him singing from the play.
Also this week, Harry got the "Justin Beiber" haircut. For those of you who don't have a clue what a "Justin Beiber" is, you can reference old pictures of Donny Osmond in the mid 70's. It's the same cut. I think all these teen stars just tell their hairdressers, "I would like the heartthrob hair, please." Anyway, he is pretty happy with it and I'm happy that he has been more interested in showering lately. I'm sure girls are not far behind...
Next week we will be going on our yearly family vacation with Erick's family up at a cabin in Brainerd. Lots of relaxing, lots of reading ( I plan on reading the girl with the dragon tattoo books), and lots of fun!
Also this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fWsXIPJn6Q