Friday, December 17, 2010

Presents 'round the tree...

I received a gift yesterday.  It wasn't wrapped in fancy paper and it wasn't bought from an expensive store.  Yet, it was a gift none the less.  And one I really liked!

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


Snowmageddon! Blizzardpalooza!  Whatever you want to call it, the Rowe Family survived!  In simple terms, there was a good old fashioned snowstorm in MN this past Saturday that hearkened back to the times of Ma, Pa, and Laura Ingalls.  17.8 inches of snow fell between Friday and Saturday night and basically shut down the Twin Cities.  Plows were pulled off the road, travel was strongly discouraged, and even the heartiest of Minnesotans threw up their hands in defeat and stayed home.  Some of you might have seen that the Metrodome, home to the MN Vikings, even gave up.  The roof ripped in three places and poured all of the snow inside the stadium.  Good news?  Maybe now, there will be a new stadium!

Wish I had more pictures to share from the snowstorm, but the ones I took from inside didn't turn out for the most part.  The one picture I have is of the side of a parking ramp.  You can see the big pile of snow off the side and transport yourself here if you like snow and don't have any at your location.  Harry and Erick were outside shoveling for a long time with several breaks in between.  Luckily, some of our neighbors with snowblowers assisted and made the job much more manageable.  Without their help, I have a feeling we might still be digging out.

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


So it's that most wonderful time of the year "with the kids jingle belling" and "caroling out in the snow".  Call me a wimp, but with the temps only reaching the upper teens the last week or so, I won't be going out in the snow for any reason, especially carolling!

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'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

Just Call My Name and I'll be There...

Last Sunday we had Becca's confirmation.  For those of you counting back, yes it was indeed on Halloween (From the pictures, you can see Bella was Alice in Wonderland and Harry was Elvis).  Now, I found this a little odd myself, as I have heard most confirmations take place in the Spring.  Apparently, our church always does Confirmation on Reformation Sunday, which this year also happened to be Halloween.

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.

One week from now we will be making our annual pilgrimage to Wisconsin Dells to celebrate Thanksgiving with Erick's family and also enjoy some downtime at the Wilderness Resort Waterpark.  Erick just got back from spending the last 10 days in Australia and he has to travel again this week.  I am really looking forward to some downtime with the family...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Music of the Night...

Do I enjoy the spirit of Halloween?  Yes, I do.  Do I like to think it's fun to dress up and pretend to be someone else?  I believe it frees us from our own mundane lives to live as another person/object/creature for a day.  Do I believe that running scared and screaming like a baby in the dark is a good idea?  Although it provides for a bit of an adrenalin rush and an emotional release, I could live without it my entire life.  My sister, on the other hand, loves that kind of thing.  I remember having to bring her to one of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies when I was a senior in high school and hating every minute of it.  So what had she never had a chance to do?  Go to one of those scary hayride/mazes where people jump out at you around every corner.  So last Friday, my sister, her step-daughter, Becca, Harry, and I visited "The Trail of Terror."

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

Check it Out, Check it Out, Check it Out, Check it Out...

Today I saw a 3 legged golden retriever going for a walk at a nearby park.  He was walking with his owners who also had 2 other dogs.  You could tell it really enjoyed the walk.  Its tail and head were held high in the air as it trotted merrily along.  You could also tell it was a bigger challenge to walk for that dog in comparison to the other dogs.  It lagged behind a bit and due to the lack of a leg, it had an uneven gait that required more work out of the other legs and probably caused fatigue a little faster.  Still it was amazing to see how well the dog had adapted to its situation.

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.

One funny side note to this.  Harry says one way to tell that a song has been overplayed on the radio and is no longer at the peak of its popularity is by how many of the words Bella can sing along with.  Kind of sad, but it is true.  When "California Gurls" by Katy Perry first came out Bella would sing "California Girls are so maniacal" (real words are "California Girls we're undeniable") and lots of other things that weren't right.  Now, she knows almost all of the words, which is a shame because a lot of them are less than appropriate for an 8 year old.  Such is life with older siblings...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Here an IEP, There an IEP, Everywhere an IEP...

There are 4 days a year that I dread.  Not dislike, but really hate.  You know where the night before, your stomach starts to gurgle in anticipation of the following day.  In the morning you are grouchy, tense, and have difficulty getting along with others.  Others steer clear to avoid your wrath.  For me, those four days are my visits to the doctor, dentist, and Bella's annual IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting.

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.
Overall, I was pleased to see improvements in the areas of following directions, story recall, and figurative language (i.e. idioms, inferences).  She still struggles with story recall after time has elapsed due to her short term memory issues.  Also, the next IEP is going to have a strong focus on strengthening her reading comprehension as that is a significant need at this point.  I am confident that it will get better if we all attack it together (meaning at home and school) because repetition is what works best for Bella.

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

I See the World from Both Sides Now...

This morning I was taking a shower.  As I looked around for soap, I reached for a favorite body wash that Erick always brings back from his many hotel travels.  It's by Bliss and up until today I was under the impression it was called "Soapy Soap."  Whenever I used it, it made me happy because I found the name funny and upbeat.  Today when I grabbed it, I noticed that it was actually called "Soapy Sap".  I was a little taken a back after seeing this.  Now understand that it was the same exact product; same smell, same color, everything that made it "it", but the fun name that I thought it had, was gone.  "Soapy Sap" reminds me more of a tree and as I looked closer, its green color and outdoor scent started to make more sense.  Having had this experience, I began to think about how perceptions shape our lives on a daily basis.

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

I Got No Expectations...

Well the title of this blog post is a dream, not a reality.  This week has been full of expectations; some exceeded, some met, and others left for another day.  

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..

Harry continues to exceed my expectations in school.  He hasn't had any big tests yet, but he remains focused and diligent about doing his homework, even with the added stress of football practices 4x a week.  This week, he has talked about how much he likes Latin and how he hopes to be tri-lingual some day (that Tri includes English, Latin, and Spanish).  I think he enjoys Eagle Ridge and he accepts the high academic expectations it sets for its students.  There have been a few times now that Harry has had late assignments.  It's not that he didn't do the work, it's more of an organizational issue.  One day he forgot it in his locker and showed it to the teacher later in the day.  One day he left the finished work at home.  Either way, the result is the same: half credit.  Tough lessons to learn, but they will be valuable to him later in life.

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

We're Going to Rock Around the Clock Tonight...

So I start this post with a friendly household cleaning tip. If you ever have nail polish spilled on a hardwood floor use Tresemme hairspray and a magic eraser for easy (or should I say easier) removal. Thank goodness for Google and its infinite wisdom! You might wonder what prompted me to share this tip. That would be the bright red nail polish that was knocked off my dresser by my cats, during the middle of the night, and greeted me at 5:45am when I woke up to start my day last Thursday. Anyway, you never know when such a tip might be helpful to you, so I pass it on my friends.

In addition to the nail polish fiasco, our household was buzzing with events this week.  On Saturday it was a crazy schedule where we went from one event to another.  First we attended "Rockin' the Ridge".  It was a fundraiser/carnival event at Harry's school Eagle Ridge.  There were lots of inflatables, games, food, and music.  There was a staff rock band and I could just see dreaming of a day he would be in his own band.  Harry had a great time.  He was a finalist in the pie eating competition.  If that surprises you, it really shouldn't.  Harry will pretty much do anything for fame, glory, or cash.  I am hoping that changes FAST!

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

Make New Friends, but Keep the Old...

So it is once again fall in MN. Time to enjoy the last bits of sun and warmth before the frozen tundra arrives. In homeschool, Bella and I are talking about which months fall into which seasons. When I teach, we talk about how every season is about 3 months because there are a total of 4 seasons over a period of 12 months. Her question to me, "If all the seasons are the same number of months, why does winter feel so much longer than summer?" My answer, "Because you live in MN, my dear."

To me Fall is all about friendship. It's about making new friends and also reestablishing friendships that might have been neglected over the busy summer months. Becca has been busy adjusting to her new high school. She has decided to join the debate team (okay, I may have had something to do with that) and she has made a friend on the team. A formal homecoming dance is rapidly approaching and Becca is working out the details of how she will attend her 1st debate tournament and make it to the dance on time. She has also been telling me about the limos, dinners, and other "homecoming accessories" that kids at school are talking about. Really 9th grade and already I am facing this? Wow...

Harry is busy adjusting to his new school and also making new friends. He seems happy at his new school and is slowly adjusting to his crazy schedule of 2 hours of homework and football 4 times a week. Luckily the football season only lasts another 4 weeks. He has been playing running back in a few football games which is exciting. Last night, his team came up against Eden Prairie and lost 21-0. Erick said Eden Prairie had "men" on their team, or "boys" that were 6 feet tall and about 180 lbs. He also has a game on Saturday so we are hoping for a better outcome.

Bella is also adapting to her schedule of school and swim team. On her swim team, she has the option of going 5 nights a week and that is what we have been doing to help build up her endurance. She has a friend at swimming who she really enjoys seeing everyday. Yesterday she complained of her arms being sore. I asked if she wanted to stay home, but she said "no" and I gave her some Motrin. Bad Mom? Maybe. Lots of days, my sole mission is to maintain peace and avoid angry outbursts. At school, Bella has met a new friend whose name is Isabella. She is from Ecuador. Bella thinks it's fun that they have the same name and that was really the common element that cemented the friendship. Isabella is travelling back to Ecuador for the next few weeks, so I hope they can reconnect after that.

Last weekend the Rowe Family attended the yearly Cochlear Implant picnic for the University of MN. Bella really looks forward to seeing the other kids with implants. It's amazing how fast kids make friends! As you can see from the picture, it was a beautiful day and all the kids had fun playing at the playground. Becca, Harry, and Bella all played together at the park and it was amazing! There was no fighting or yelling for an extended period of time. Erick and I just sat back and enjoyed the peace.

In my spare time (insert laughter here), I have also been trying to connect with friends, old and new. I have met a few parents from Harry's new school that seem really nice. I'd like to find some connections at Becca's school as a way to "stay in the loop." It's hard not knowing the ins and outs of the school, and it is just SO BIG!

As some of you know, I'm a bit of a TV addict so Fall also brings me comfort with new seasons of my favorite shows. It may be kind of lame, but at the end of the day, I'm ready to spend some time vegging out with those "friends"...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

All We Need is a Little Patience...

So today I decided to run to the grocery store during my 3 hours of free time between homeschool and afternoon activities. I was also trying to fit in a workout class so I was on a tight schedule. At the checkout line I found myself behind a customer who had a very complicated order and had divided their complicated order into 3 separate transactions. Of course I didn't realize this fact until after I had unloaded my whole cart of groceries onto the conveyor. My first reaction was one of fury, anger and self pity. How could I be so unlucky as to run into the one lane with problems? I only have a little bit of time and this is what I get? Then, I stopped myself. What good was my negativity going to do? Was it going to change the situation? No, all it was going to do was feed my anger and resentment of the person in front of me. So I stopped and took a new approach. Now, please understand this is not my usual format. I don't even know what prompted me to stop. Perhaps it all those Oprah episodes on being a better person that had infiltrated my subconscious. Who knows?

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

Breathe, Just Breathe...

Ahh..the first week of school. The unofficial end of summer and the start of what is shaping up to be a crazy schedule for the Rowe Family. With Erick on a business trip to Milan all week, it was up to me to ensure that everyone woke up, arrived at their schools safely, ate, finished their homework, and got to after school activities on time. Anyone who is, or who has every been a parent knows that list is much easier to write down than it is to actually perform. Especially during the first week where nerves and a lack of sleep are factors.

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

Move Over Bob Dylan...

So you'll never guess what Bella and I did today. Give up? Well, it involved a musical instrument and a parade. Bella and I went to a workshop about how to play the harmonica. We found out about it on one of our homeschooling list-serves. It was sponsored by Hohner, a company that makes harmonicas. The session was held at a hotel by the Mall of America where there was a regional harmonica convention going on. It was completely free, kids and adults each received a free harmonica and there were box lunches served. What a deal!

The session offered fun beginning lessons on how to make a train whistle sound with the harmonica, and also how to play a few easy songs including "Jingle Bells" and "Mary had a Little Lamb". Bella really enjoyed the fun atmosphere and she loved trying out new sounds on her harmonica. We were both surprised with how much energy it took to play the harmonica. After an hour of almost solid practicing, our lungs were tired. There was someone there who spoke about the health benefits of playing the harmonica and now I believe it!

Other highlights from the day included a man who had a skunk puppet who played the harmonica (one of Bella's favorite parts of the morning), learning about the different types and sizes of harmonicas (who knew there was more than one size?), and watching all the kids go around the hotel playing the train whistle (and other musical musings) on their brand new harmonicas.

It was a fun day for Bella, since she doesn't really have a musical instrument that she plays yet. Sometimes I think she feels left out when her brother and sister perform their piano pieces on the piano for visiting friends and relatives. I am hoping someday we will find a musical instrument that is a good fit for her. Today, was one step on that journey...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

Today Bella had her yearly check up at Mayo Clinic for her implants. It's always a bit of an event since it is two hours away. This year we were up bright and early and had to leave by 9:30am. It's never as easy as just driving there and parking. There's always construction, a super busy parking ramp, or something to impede our timely arrival. This year we found out that they had moved the cochlear implant facility to a new building so we had to hurry and find it before our appointment. Always something..

Once we arrived at our appointment the fun began. Our first appointment was for mapping and programming Bella's implants. It went well and the implants were in working order. We had just replaced both of her controllers this summer (thank goodness for that extended warranty) due to wear issues, so the audiologist commented on how brand new they looked. Moving onto testing, Bella once again demonstrated the advantages of early implantation by her outstanding scores. Here they are:
CNC Monosyllabic Words List 5 in quiet 96% words correct 97% phonemes correct
AZBio Sentences List 4 in quiet 96% words correct.
The Mayo staff commented that Bella is performing at the ceiling of speech perception measures. Bella was also asked to participate in two studies that Mayo is conducting regarding hearing in noise. It was similar to studies that she has been in at Madison. I don't have the results yet and will update when I do.
The only change made to her implant program was combining ADRO and ASC together. This was done after Mayo's research that it helps users hear better in loud environments. Bella says her voice a little strange, but I think she will get used to it. I am anxious to see if it helps in loud restaurants.
After her implant programming we went to lunch at Pannekoeken restaurant which was Bella's favorite stop last year and she wanted to return. She loves when they yell "Pannekoeken" when they bring your order.
After lunch, Bella had her speech-language examination. She had the OWLS test (Oral and Written Language Scales) and the Test of Narrative Language (TNL).
On the OWLS she scored at the 47th percentile age equivalent of 8 years 5 months on the listening comprehension portion. On the oral expression section she scored in the 16th percentile age equivalent 6 years 11 months. Both of these are about the same as last year which indicate progress at the rate of maturation.
On the TNL she scored poor on the Narrative Comprehension due to her short term memory issues. We continue to battle reading comprehension due to her memory problems, but she is improving. Last year she was not given this test because her speech evaluator said she would not be able to complete it. The upside to the TNL test was on the oral narration section Bella scored in the average range. So Bella may have trouble remembering stories when read to her, but she is very good at making up her own!
Overall it was a good visit and set us up to have a good year...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The More Things Change...

With only three weeks left before the kick off to a new school year, I find myself stuck between two quotes. The first is a part of everyday language, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." I have been finding myself feeling a little bit of deja vu in a lot of my daily activities lately. I mean how can you not fill out those registration/emergency forms for school or head to the store for school supplies and not ask yourself, "Didn't I just do this?" Sure a year has gone by. Perhaps some of the items on the school list have changed, but really for the most part, it's a lot of the same ol' stuff.

Heading into my second year of 1/2 day homeschooling has given me a bit of the jitters. I can tell myself that things went well last year and that Bella seemed to benefit from the personal attention and repetition, but this is a brand new year. 3rd grade feels different than 2nd grade. There are higher level concepts and more ideas to grasp. Am I ready for that? I looked ahead to what the lesson plan was for social studies and saw Bella would be learning about the Vikings this year. When I told her that, her response was classic, "That's easy, Mom. I already know about Brett Favre." Should be an interesting school year...

With Harry and Becca, I am in a bit of a panic about their new schools. I have to be honest. I was more than slightly nauseous when I charted out the days off in my planner from all three schools. Being in 3 different school districts this year is going to be complicated. I have kind of resigned myself to the fact that there will likely be a day that I will either bring someone to school when it's not in session or perhaps they might be late because it is a day that I thought they were off.

Facing the stress and the unknown circumstances of this upcoming school year has led me to rely heavily on a second quote. It has become a mantra of sorts for me. It is simply, "That which we manifest is before us." It comes from one of my favorite books that I have ever read, "The Art of Racing in the Rain." If you haven't read it, I highly recommend you check it out. It is written from a dog's point of view and it has so many touching moments. Anyway, I find the quote comforting when I feel like I am drowning in the chaos and uncertainty of what this coming school year holds. It's really no different from what I'm sure you've heard a million times before in different ways...the power of positive thinking, the Secret, and many others. Perhaps it touched me because it came from a dog or at least the author's idea of how a dog would think. It is simple, yet extremely powerful. Sure there will be difficult times this year, but I need to remember that if I expect the best, things will go much better. If you expect the worst, well you know how that goes...
Now regarding the Minnesota Vikings upcoming season, I suppose I should pick the second quote to focus on, rather than the first. Well, I guess Bella and I will cover that together this fall during homeschool...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In...

Okay, I'm going to be honest from the start here. I didn't exactly see three ships, it was only two and they weren't exactly sailing, because they were anchored, but they could have been. It isn't exactly the perfect title to this post, but it will have to do!

Last weekend we had a Rowe family outing. It was kind of a rarity to have all of us home at the same time and I like to capitalize on those days. We loaded up the car and headed to Hudson, Wisconsin where replicas of Christopher Columbus' famous ships, The Nina and the Pinta were docked for tours. I thought it would give the kids a hands on history lesson that would stick with them longer than reading a paragraph out of a book.

The ships weren't exactly to scale (one was slightly larger, one slightly smaller), but it did give you the idea of how hard the journeys must have been sailing the Atlantic back in the 15th century. The replicas were created in Brazil using exactly the same method that created the original ships. If any of you have seen the movie "1492" (which I haven't), the replicas we saw of the Nina and the Pinta were used in the filming of that show. The ships are like traveling museums and go all over to allow people to learn more about Columbus and his journeys. You can check out the website to find out more information of if the ships will be visiting your town. They are also looking for crew members. Harry was ready to sign up until we had to break it to him that he had to be 18 to make the voyage. You might see his unhappy face in the picture. Now you know why he is upset.

Right next to where the boats were anchored, there was a brunch river cruise boat that looked more sea worthy than the Nina and the Pinta. As a sidenote, there was a coffin on board each of the ships in case someone was not able to complete the journey. I have a feeling they got used quite a bit!

In addition to our visit to the ships, spending the day in Hudson was very enjoyable! I had never been there and the town was oozing with charm. It appeared that there were a lot of buildings that had their original structures. The only negative part of the day was the super high humidity and high temps.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Day is Done, Gone the Sun...

The end of this week definitely came with an exclamation point! Bella and I were a part of Twilight girl scout camp Monday-Thursday. It runs each day from 1:30pm-8pm and I have been volunteering as a unit lead for Bella's group for the last 3 years. The theme this year was "Cruise Around the World" with stops in LA, Hawaii, Cabo San Lucas, and Anchorage. The weather played its part well for the camp as it was about 90 degrees and high humidity each day, but cooled down to around 80 degrees for our last stop in Alaska. Fitting...

Our unit this year was nicknamed, Octopus. They were a great group of girls! I was the only unit lead (adult leader), but I had 4 very helpful caddies (Cadettes and senior girl scouts) to help me out. Our group had 12 girls all going into 3rd grade. It was nice for Bella to see some diversity in our troop this year. One little girl had hearing aids and another girl had two braces on her legs to prevent toe walking. I know that Bella often feels like she is the only one that is different and has extra equipment, so it is nice when she encounters other kids with some level of differences too.

The week was filled with lots of learning. Each day has its own craft, sport/dance, snack, and special interest topic.

In LA, the girls learned about photography, played volleyball, made a beach bag and ate candy sushi.

In Hawaii, it was all about the Hula, volcanoes, Hawaiian pizza, and painting orchids.

In our stop to Cabo, we learned some self defense, drank smoothies, relaxed with yoga and made a memory book to house pictures from our week at camp.

Finally in Alaska we tried our hand at slingshots (the older campers used BB guns), cooked with a dutch oven, carved soap, and heard about gold prospectors.

Each day we also had plenty of time for dinner, swimming and learning girl scout camp songs. Bella brought the song book home with her and I have been lucky enough to continue hearing all of the songs. I'm not sure how to break it to her that after camp all the songs should be put away until next year to make them extra special, kind of like Xmas songs. Well at least that's what I'm going to say to her after my Advil supply runs out!

All the activities were very well thought out. Each year our Twilight camp wins a lot of awards for its creativity and I'm sure this year will be no different...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Well it's Over Now, Go on and Take a Bow...

With Harry off at church camp, I thought I would be free of the "will he, won't he" talk of Brett Favre's impending future/retirement from the Minnesota Vikings. How wrong I was. Rumors swirled everywhere today that he would be retiring for the 3rd time from the NFL. Brett must have really felt upstaged by LeBron James a few weeks ago and began to plot on how he could divert the media attention back to him. Most Minnesotans' feelings can be summed up today with one of two popular sayings. You are either in the the "Third times a charm" camp or the "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, I don't think so..." Okay so the second saying might not be exactly as you have heard it before, but it sure fits! That camp appears to be in the majority at this point.

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

Say a Little Prayer For Me...

Ahh...Summer in Minnesota. There are certain things you can always count on: corn on the cob, thunderstorms, high humidity, mosquitoes and vacation bible school!

This week our church celebrated Baobab Blast. Becca and Harry joined a new program called LIT which stood for Leaders in Training. They helped in different areas including songs, games and working in a classroom. Becca worked with Kindergartners and Harry worked with 4 year olds. Harry loved that the kids bonded to him. He is really good with small children (minus his sister) and will make a great babysitter some day. He just has to find that balance of playing with the kids and watching out for their safety.

Bella enjoyed her 2nd grade class for bible school and all of the activities and crafts they did. She did take issue with the fact that they called her class "2nd grade" when clearly she was a third grader now. They based the classes on the grade you had just finished. She reported to me that several of her classmates were also unhappy with the "2nd grade" title.

I helped out with snacks and registration this year. I have done several different areas over the years including drama, classroom teacher, and storytelling. Next year I will help with the mystery bus as Bella will be old enough to go on it. The mystery is like the pinnacle for vacation bible school. Kids that have completed 3rd and 4th grade go on a bus all day to different "surprise" activities (only the parents know where they are headed) to learn about bible lessons. Can't wait!

What would the week be without some sort of crisis? Yesterday, I received a call about 1pm saying that Harry had hit his head at vacation bible school and it was bleeding badly. When I arrived, the bleeding was under control, but his hair was soaked in blood. He had been playing on the floor during lunch and had somehow banged his head on the base of the couch in the youth room. Needless to say, the "play" was probably beyond the scope of what was allowed. Off we went to the urgent care. The Dr. at urgent care was very nice. He told Harry everything he was going to do before he did it so he knew what to expect. He even gave Harry the option of staples or stitches for his cut. The cut was not very deep, but about 1 inch long. I guess on the scalp they have to use stitches to close up the wound because it won't close on its own very well and with the oil in the scalp, the wound would likely become infected. Anyway, Harry opted for the stitches instead of the staples and he wanted to go back to vacation bible school to finish up the day. I suspect it was to show off his stitches...

Up next week: Girl Scout Camp!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Smells Like Teen Spirit...

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.

For those of you who might be unaware of what a corpse flower is (as I was up until 2 days ago), it is a rare plant that originates in Sumatra. Gustavus Adolphus College got some seeds for the plant back in 1993 and planted them. The plant (nicknamed Perry) first flowered in 2007 and was over 5 feet tall. This time it stood over 6 feet 8 inches tall. Truly reminded me of Seymore from "Little Shop of Horrors."
Perry's flower opened on Thursday night and on Friday the smell was described like "a decaying corpse" (hence the name corpse flower). By Saturday the docents at the college said it smelled like an outhouse or a very dirty porta-potty. When we visited on Sunday it smelled like somebody really needed to take out the garbage. It was plenty strong for me! I really don't think I would have done well smelling the scent on the prior days.
The third picture shows where they cut a piece of Perry to show the male flowers inside and the pollen. Corpse flowers are pollinated by flies and sweat bees that enjoy its pungent odor.
We were told that Como Conservatory might have a corpse flower bloom in the next year or two. I'm not sure if we'll go or not. It might be a nice "one and done" experience...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Riding Solo...

Bella's big summer vacation did not end with the cabin this year. She was lucky enough to go back to Chicago and spend some time with her Aunts, Uncles, Grandma, and cousin! She had a great time visiting Sears Tower, riding the L, and walking around Navy Pier. She even managed to fit in a shopping trip to Macy's. You can see her sundress purchase in the picture. That girl loves to shop! On the way back to Minnesota she rode the Amtrak train with her Grandmother!

I was really happy she had such a good time, but I am not going to lie, it was hard to have her gone. Perhaps it is because she is the "baby" of the family, perhaps it is because she adds so much to our family... I don't know, but it was tough without her. Due to Bella's extra equipment she has to travel with ( batteries, charger, dry and store machine for her implants) it is always a little more involved in sending her off. I certainly don't do it as much as I did with the other kids at her age. Yet I know it is very important for her to establish independence. Little trips like this are good for both of us!

Maybe in a year or two I will be ready to send her to camp...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oh, I wish I didn't have to go home...

Back from the cabin and in the midst of putting everything away! It was wonderful weather and lots of fun was had by all.

Here are the top highlights from the trip:

1) Watching Becca sneak up on Harry while he was swimming on a raft, humming the Pink Panther theme. I think she meant for it to be the Jaws theme...

2) Bella walking around a store for 20 minutes deciding what to buy with her money. After much thought, she bought a cat mood ring. She said, "Mom, you can use this in the morning before homeschool to see what kind of mood I'm in. It will tell you if I am tired, hungry, or full of energy!" I think she might think the ring has more power than it really does...

3) Erick became the kyacking king at the cabin. He challanged many family members to race him across the lake (understand that Agate is a small lake) and he won some of the time...

4) Harry swimming across the lake (I told you it was small) for the first time. The lake might be pretty small (maybe 3/4 of a mile across), but I'm pretty sure I couldn't do it and I am MUCH older than 11! Good job, Harry!

5) Becca and a short lived summer crush on a boy at the cabin. Gee, I can hardly wait for high school and all of the fun that will hold...

Already looking forward to next year's trip back to the cabin...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Vacation...Had to Get Away...

I am always amazed how much effort and time it takes getting ready for vacation. Packing, cleaning, organizing, the work goes up until the minute you leave. Even then I don't think it's really done, you just give up because you've run out of time. If you don't leave then, you'll miss your entire vacation because you were busy getting ready for it...

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

A Whole New World...

Wow, I can't believe it is almost 4th of July. The summer is almost 1/3 over and it has gone way too quick. Some of the problem is that the kids didn't get out of school until June 10th this year. That seemed super late. Also, most of June has been a rainy mess. I really hope that most of the rain is behind us. At least I hope it rains at night and is sunny during the days of July and August...

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:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Somewhere Over the Rainbow...

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the saying, "the calm before the storm." Well, that's kind of how this week went for the Rowe's. Sunday, we celebrated Father's Day by going to the Children's Museum. The museum was featuring the first licensed Wizard of Oz educational exhibit. It was cute and fun. Becca is really to old to enjoy the Children's museum on a "kid level" anymore, but she was great about playing with Bella. Harry, on the other hand, is at that in between stage. The anguish of being torn between kid and adolescent was seen on his face as he tried on the "ant costume" for his favorite activity, "the ant hole", and found that it was clearly too tight and small.

The rest of our week has been a bit like the Wizard of Oz in reverse, everything building to the big tornado and storm. Tuesday, Erick left for another trip out of town. Pulling single parent duty always complicates the delicate schedule balance of the Rowe household. My sister had to come to the rescue this week so Becca could attend Cirque Du Soleil Alegria. I had won tickets to the show for her birthday, back in March. With Erick's busy travel schedule, it is hard to have planned ticketed events. Luckily, my sister was able to bring Becca (so I could stay home with the other two) and they really enjoyed the show! Another event this week; Bella has been taking part in her new developmental swim team everyday at 5:15pm. Also, this week, Harry has been in a drama camp all week from 9am-5pm which culminates in his performance tonight as Aladdin in Aladdin Jr. You might have noticed the close times of 5pm and 5:15pm in the above activities. Yes, it has been a challenge all week to be on time for one or the other.

The big tornado? Well that can be described in one word: camp! Becca left today for a leadership camp for Venturing at a boyscout camp, Philmont, in New Mexico. It should be a really good experience, but there were some pitfalls in getting ready. After her bags were packed, badges put on her uniform (with superglue I might add), and paperwork filled out, she left this morning. She is going with her best friend's family and will also see Mt. Rushmore and Devils Tower along the way, with a stopover in Colorado as well.

I am ready for the mild summer breeze to return...