Friday, June 17, 2011

Nothing is Going to Stop Us Now...

Success makes everyone feel good. The feeling is even more intense when the success has taken a great deal of time and effort to achieve. Today Bella had a BIG success! She rode her bike totally independently.

With Bella's balance and right sided weakness issues, we knew bike riding would be a struggle. It was about two years ago that I asked her physical therapist for a time estimate, which for those of you with special needs children, know is like asking for a promise no one can really make. I knew that bike riding was one of those "rights of passages" for kids. Ask anyone when they learned how to ride a bike and most will be able to give you an exact age. I have been the mother of a special needs child long enough to know that I shouldn't try to compete on a "typical" level, yet I still yearned for her to accomplish this within a somewhat similar time line. Bike riding becomes a part of life with kids. Schools go on bike trips, friends ride bikes to the park or the store. Riding with training wheels past a certain point sets you apart and puts you in a different category. There's nothing wrong with that category, but that is a lesson most young kids haven't learned yet and it can lead to some severe teasing.

So my wishful goal for Bella to be able to bike ride by herself? The end of third grade. Yep, that's the grade she just finished. That girl just keeps on amazing me...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Will Survive...

To quote the great Charles Dickens, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." And so describes the school year 2010-2011.  As I had predicted back in September, it was a time of transition and a huge learning curve for Becca and Harry as they entered new schools with greater expectations than they had faced in the past. I feel that as the year went on, they both began to "get the hang of it" and started to produce better academic results. They both enjoy being challenged, but learning how to accept the challenges took a bit longer than anticipated.

So now I have a sophomore, a 7th grader and a 4th grader. The sophomore is starting driver's ed (Lord help me!!!), the 7th grader is in Costa Rica for three weeks (with his grandparents) and the 4th grader is asking me why her life is sooo boring. Looks like it will be a long summer!

Truth be told, I really enjoy summer. At least for the first month. In MN the summers fly by as we fit in as many barbecues and pool outings as we can before the snow comes back. Don't laugh! It may sound funny to talk about snow in June, but in MN, it is nothing. Actually, the last bit of snow just melted in Minneapolis last week from all the huge snow piles this past winter. And that was with two days over 100 degrees. What a bizarre state I live in...

So what do two parents do to celebrate the end of the school year? Go out without the kids, of course! I mean seriously, I have 12 full weeks with those charming individuals. Mama needed a night out on the town as "prep time". And so Erick and I went out Saturday on a river paddle boat ride on the St. Croix after an afternoon spent in Stillwater.






 It was so amazing to get away. I know I am a better parent with a little time away for perspective (and adult sanity). We were going to just walk around and then grab a bite to eat but at the last minute we saw the paddle-boats and went to ask when they were leaving. We just made the dinner cruise and I think that because it was "spur of the moment" it was that much more fun. Seriously, we NEVER do anything that is unplanned. My father in law laughed when I told him that I use my GPS to calculate when I will arrive places so I know if I am on schedule. Sad, but true...

And so the summer rules have been set. Some of my decisions are not popular. Bella will continue her math program in an effort to finish 3rd grade math. Becca will be able to hang out with her friends, but not on the daily, every minute time schedule she would prefer. Her summer work will include assigned school books and SAT prep. Parenting is tough and sometime we do know what is best for them. There will also be plenty of fun including an upcoming trip to Chicago and one to the cabin. Better move quick before that lowly pile of snow comes back with lots of reinforcements...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Zero to Hero, Just Like That...

Things can change in the blink of an eye. A perfectly sunny, summer day can turn thunderous and deadly without warning. Our feelings can change that quickly, too. I mean look at the Almond Joy/Mounds bar ad campaign from the 80's and 90's. "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't." We, as humans, can be pretty fickle and they used that to their advantage, covering both ends of the spectrum.  And so describes this past week...

Let me start with the good part. Or should I say the part that makes ME feel good? Last Friday, I decided to do something fun with the older kids. I had been reading about Skyzone for the last few months. It is an indoor trampoline park. There's all kinds of activities held for older kids, so I didn't think it would be too young for a 12 and 15 year old. Bella was very disappointed because with her broken toe she obviously couldn't go. But I have to be honest, that was kind of part of the plan. Bella gets to do a lot of fun things and as the youngest she is always in on the fun of the older two. With Erick home for the day, I thought it would be perfect to have some time with Becca and Harry only.

So after school we are off to Skyzone. I even bought tickets online beforehand so there was no disappointment about getting there and having it sold out (which I have read is a common occurrence). I purchased a 60 minute jump package, because I didn't want to get the 30 minute and have them whining it wasn't enough. As they changed into their special "Skyzone shoes", that are required for jumping, I handed them their tickets and Becca said, "60 minutes? That seems like an awful long time." My first clue that everything might not go as planned.

Here's an brief overview of the Skyzone park. There are three big jumping arenas. Each has trampolines on the floor as well as the walls. This allows you to jump off the wall doing flips if you want. There are also balls that you can shoot into basketball hoops, if you choose. In another area, there are some trampolines that lead to a foam pit. It was all very clean and well kept. There is also a small concession stand for treats. One feature I really enjoyed is that parents can sit on benches that are right next to the jumping arenas. Overall a very fun place to bring your kids to burn off some energy. And now for the rest of the story...


So there is a big clock on the wall so kids know when their time is done. About 8 minutes into jumping, Becca began to point out every minute that ticked away. Seriously, she was done wanting to jump after 8 minutes! She started to complain that she was tired and it was really hard. Here is the video I took of her (after I told her there was no way she was done jumping)

video



Harry was a little more enthusiastic, but he too was done after about 20 minutes. He enjoyed the freedom of doing lots of flips, but at some points, I think he was more focused on me catching them on video than actually performing.

video
video




 Always the performer. I must say, I was pretty shocked. They were both out of breath and looked completely out of shape. As Becca sat down for yet another break, I took her sticker, put it on my shirt (yes highly against the rules, I'm sure) and jumped. Now as most of you know, I am neither 12 nor 15 nor even those ages combined. Still over the last year, I have been working out regularly and feel I have a pretty high cardio endurance level. And after 10 minutes, I was done. So my advice is to buy the 30 minute pass. If you buy the 60 minutes or more, be prepared for lots of breaks.

And that brings us to the change. From trying to be supermom to just being, well below par, at best. Yesterday after picking up Becca from school at 3pm, I dropped her off and told her I had to stop at Target to get a few groceries. I pick Harry up at the Target parking lot at 4pm, so I had a little over 1/2 hour to shop. When I got home, I started unloading the groceries. Bella came up to me, with my back facing her, and said this, "Mom, the bus driver dropped me off right in front of my house!" With those few words came the feeling. You know the feeling. When you feel deep down in the pit of your stomach  that something has gone terribly wrong. I turned around slowly and looked at my little daughter's face. Then my eyes continued downward to the crutches she was using. The realization set in. That extra 1/2 hour I had spent running to Target was the time I was supposed to pick up Bella from school, so she didn't have to endanger her life getting on and off the bus with her crutches and broken toe.

I shared my "bad Mom" moment with some other Moms and luckily I found them to be sympathetic rather than preparing to dial social services from their cell phones. I think it's just part of the Mom code: "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you are a nut", no matter how hard you try...