Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Just Hear Those Sleighbells Jingling...

The word for today is awareness. In almost every section of the day, I experienced situations that caused me to reflect.

First, during my morning Zumba workout, I was talking to my instructor after class and I started to tell her about JuJu. You have to understand that my instructor has a special light within her and she brings a wonderful energy with her. No matter what is going on with her personally, she invokes a very positive tone. I know it is one of the reasons people love her classes. Her high energy level and her power to connect with others, has always reminded of my friend who brought JuJu Gear to Minnesota and set up the Eden Prairie store. Anyway, I told her about a fashion show we are having this coming Saturday at the JuJu store and invited her to come. Funny thing was she already knew all about JuJu and was friends with someone else who works at the store!  Awareness moment: The world we live in is so interconnected, much more than you can ever imagine.

On the way to swim practice tonight, I flipped on the Christmas song radio station. Yes, it is officially that time of year. I love Christmas songs and each year I have to fight the urge to turn them on after Halloween. This year, I challenged myself to wait until after Thanksgiving. Sure I might have hesitated a little on one, as I selected radio stations, but for the most part I met my goal. So yesterday, the song "Sleigh Ride" comes on and I proceed to explain to Bella that all the instruments in the song are supposed to mimic a sleigh being pulled by a horse without using words. Yes, I know there is a version with words, but I'm talking about the classic instrumental version. Anyway, I tell her the bells are ringing as the horse moves, and if you listen closely you can even hear the "clip clop" of the horses hooves. She told me she could hear the bells, but no hooves. I told her to listen really close. Just as I was about to move on, thinking that with her implants she was unable to hear all the different layers in the music, she said, "Oh yeah, Mom! I hear the horse walking!" Awareness moment: Sometimes it just takes longer than you might anticipate for something to occur. It doesn't mean that it won't happen. Be patient.

Tonight after swimming, as Bella was getting dressed, she was acting goofy and kind of crazy. I told her to hurry up, because I was tired and wanted to get home. Then she says to me, "I think this is the time that my concentrating medicine stops working." (She is on medicine for ADD). I was taken aback by her comment. It is never really a clear time of day when her Concerta wears off. We don't do school work late in the day, it is just usually swimming and then bed. But her self awareness of being able to feel the medicine wearing off, took me by surprise. She told me she feels more tired and foggy when it is wearing off. Awareness moment: All children (even the baby of the family) grow up and begin to become more aware of the inner workings of their bodies and minds. And that is a positive!

It was a really good day! By the end of it I felt so energized. Having days like this are important to remember on others where nothing seems to go right!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rising From the Ground Like a Skyscraper...

Two weekends ago, Bella participated in her first 2 day swim meet. It was a B/C meet sponsored by our team Foxjets, so Bella could attend, even though she doesn't have "C" times. The meet also had something else in it's favor, it was close. For all of you swimming parents out there, this is not new information, but boy do these meets start early. Warm ups were at 7:30am! Two days in a row! Now, we only live 15 minutes away, but there were people at the meeting coming from an hour away. Wow, that is some serious dedication to your child's swimming.

I was a little nervous about Bella's attendance since she had been suffering from a double ear infection and pink eye, only a few days before the meet. The signups for these meets is weeks prior to the event, so it is never easy to plan. Anyway, she seemed ok the night before the meet started, so we were set.

Bella raced only 1 event the first day which was the 50 breastroke. This was an event that she has only done once before and had DQ'd due to her kick. Due to her physical limitations, she has trouble flexing her right foot while doing the frog kick portion of the stroke. The bad news is that she DQ'd again at the meet, but the good news is that this time they DQ'd her on her arms being to far down, not her kick. Always look on the bright side...

The second day we had to be at the pool even earlier, because I had to volunteer for concessions. It was nice to see her talking with friends and being social throughout the meet. Yes, she was the girl walking around with the aquapac bag on her head for her implant, stuck with a magnet on her swim cap, but kids seem to be used to it now and accept Bella for who she is. I am glad Bella accepts it, too. I can only hope as she goes through her teen years, she stays strong and confident about her differences.

So even with having been sick only a few days before and the super early arrival time at the pool, Bella did GREAT in her events. On the 50 back she dropped 10.39 seconds and on the 50 free she dropped 7.39 seconds. The one downside at the meet is that even though she did well for HERSELF (which is how we always judge her times), we learned that at a B/C meet you only get ribbons if you are in the top 8 for your event. That was a bummer, but Bella took it in stride and realized that pride comes from the feeling you get inside, when you know you did really well, not from a ribbon.

The other good news! Even though she still doesn't have C times yet, her Coach is really happy with her effort and improved performance so now she gets to swim in the second lane of her group, which is known as Level 2 bronze.

Here is her swimming the 50 Backstroke. She is in the lane at the far left.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Some Serious JuJu...

This past weekend I did something I haven't done in several years. I went to work. I have been out of the workforce ever since I decided to homeschool.  A friend of mine moved to Montana about a year ago and became involved in a company called JuJu Gear. They make super cute skirts by repurposing old clothes (mostly t-shirts, but sweaters, and other cute fabric is used as well). Anyway, about two weeks ago she posted that there was an opportunity to open a flagship JuJu store in MN, about 15 minutes away from where I live.  About 25 women she knew responded on Facebook that they wanted to help out/work in the store and just like that the store was staffed.

I helped set up the store this past weekend and it looked like this.

One of the cute things the store has is a "build your own JuJu skirt" station for American Girl size dolls and teddy bears. Little girls can come in and pick out some material and we will create a one of a kind JuJu skirt for their doll or bear. Bella gave me permission to bring one of her teddy bears and an American Girl Doll to the store to use as models. Here they are in their new JuJu.

There are some great things about JuJu skirts. First, since they come from repurposed clothing, not one is like another. No one likes to show up somewhere wearing the same thing as someone else. Wearing a JuJu assures you never will. Also, we are saving landfills, one clothing item at a time. Oh, and they might just be the most comfortable clothing item around. They have elastic waists and the cotton t-shirts do not rub your skin. Finally, you can wear it any way you want. Wear it one day, then the next turn it around a little and it appears to be a brand new skirt!

As an employee, of course I had to buy some new JuJu skirts to wear to work. Here's my latest ones.
Front skirt 1

Back skirt 1

Front skirt 2

Back skirt 2

Front skirt 3

Back skirt 3

So if you live in or around Eden Prairie Center in Minnesota come check us out. Here's a picture of our super cute and lively staff. We can't wait for you to stop in and discover the world of JuJu.

And if you don't live close to Eden Prairie, MN, that's ok. There's a way you can become part of the JuJu experience. Visit www.jujugear.com. They have an online store and even better if you have some favorite tshirts lying around that might have a few holes, but you just can't let go of, well good news! JuJu gear can use those tshirts and make you a brand new customized JuJu skirt! So all those shirts from races you have run, or that drawer full of concert t-shirts can transform into what might just become your favorite piece of clothing EVER!

Hurry in! We are a seasonal store at this point. Only through the holidays. But good JuJu can lead to great things, so who knows...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Love is Patient...

This past weekend we attended my littlest brother's wedding. It was in Sioux Falls, which is about 4 hours away, so it felt like a mini vacation. It came with all the good and bad of a vacation; the packing, staying in a hotel, relaxation, the unpacking.

It was fun to have the whole family together, but I have to say I was unprepared for some of the feelings that I experienced during the trip. One thing to note is that I am quite a bit older than my brother. Okay, 12 years if you must know. Anyway, he and his bride asked me to read a brief passage at the wedding, along with one of my sisters. I have to say that as I participated in the wedding rehearsal and the actual wedding itself, I was mentally transported back in time. Seeing my baby brother, now an adult, getting married, was tougher than I had imagined. Images of him pushing away cereal as a baby while I tried to "airplane" it into his mouth or watching him sleep as a little toddler, sucking on his fingers with the label of his stuffed turtle, flooded my brain. I suppose it all stems from our nontraditional upbringing and the fact that at times I played the role of "Mom" to him, but it was something I didn't expect. I guess it can be a preview into the absolute mess I will be when my actual children get married.

So in addition to the memories of the past at the wedding, new memories were made as well. Perhaps you've heard of the Korean rap singer, Psy and his breakout hit, "Gangnam Style"? Well, at the wedding I thought it would be fun to dance to it since we have been doing it at Zumba. It kind of became a one woman show, with people standing around watching me, rather than participating. At the end, my brother and his new wife participated too, with me as the leader. I felt a little like a street performer, without the added benefit of collecting cash after my act. Oh well, chalk it up to something I will remember for a long time.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What Goes Around, Comes Back Around...

It feels a bit surreal to be writing a blog entry. Once again, I have lapsed and been involved in daily life.   August kind of flew by for us. There was girl scout camp for Bella, illness that overtook members of our family for a week or two, my civic duty as a jury candidate, and the State Fair.
Harry- 8th grade
Bella- 5th grade
Becca- 11th grade

Now we start back on a routine, just as I was getting used to the lazy days of summer. Harry started back to school last week, which was nice, as it gave a slight glimpse into our Fall schedule, without involving the whole family. There are always kinks to be worked out at the beginning of the year. Perhaps it is missed school supplies, a necessary change in schedule, or the ever popular "this is what time I have to wake up" adjustment. It always takes a good 2-3 weeks to feel fully back in the swing of things.

This year I am still homeschooling Bella for part of the day. The plan is for her to go all day next year and assimilate in the special ed program mixed with regular lessons in the classroom. I do feel an extra pressure to "get her ready" and teach her a lot this school year, so she can be her most successful next year. In addition to the added pressure, her Montessori school has flip flopped their day for academics. In the past, they did a 3 hour study period in the morning, now it will be in the afternoon, after lunch. So Bella will go to school in the morning and come home after lunch for homeschool time. Not sure how this will go. I anticipate a lot of tired afternoons, but the plan is to do some work before she goes to school in the morning to combat this problem.

Since returning to the school routine, we have already experienced a few memorable moments. Last Thursday, Harry got in the car with some bad news. He had thrown his retainers away after lunch in a paper lunch bag. Just another reason why using paper bags is bad for the environment. To clarify, he does have a reusable lunch bag that he did not have that day because he forgot his lunch at home and I had to drive it to school. Some background knowledge for you; a set of retainers retail for about $300.00. Don't ask me why, because I am pretty sure I could construct a new set from some Shrinky Dink material (reference for kids of the 70's and 80's) and a piece of metal from a spiral notebook. Harry did offer to pay for it with his caddy money, but as I drove home from the bus stop with him, I was no where near admitting defeat. I explained to him that we would be going back to school to search for the missing retainers. He started to complain immediately, telling me that he had looked for 45 minutes in the dumpster after he realized they were missing. I have to say, I was not discouraged by his claim of having already searched without luck. There have been many times I have asked him to find something in his room, been told it was not there, and then walked up myself and saw the item in plain view. Some things I was discouraged by: the temperature was 95 degrees outside, lunch had been over for 4 hours, and I have a sensitive gag reflex.

The whole way to the school, I was criticized for my decision to return. We were let back into the school by the teacher that, funny enough, had monitored Harry's search the first time around. She said she totally understood my wanting to come back to search again, and freely admitted that she herself had been a part of "dumpster diving" missions of her own for her kids' lost retainers. So out to the dumpster we went, equipped with a chair and some disposable gloves. I wish I could accurately describe for you the smell that greeted us. All I can say is imagine the worst thing possible and add 300%. My motivation to find the retainers rapidly began to disappear about 2 minutes into the first bag of garbage I began to sort through, (gag reflex fully engaged) and $300 sounded like a super bargain. Then just as I was going to admit defeat (about 7 minutes in) it was like a choir of angels began to sing and from a place in the dumpster, a small halo of light. There was a brown bag with writing on it. I grabbed it quickly and nearly doubled over in delight as I read the name "Harry Rowe" in my own rushed handwriting. Mission not yet complete, I opened up the bag that was wet and torn, and prayed for one more miracle, that the retainers had not fallen out. I literally began to shout with joy as I spied the two pieces of plastic at the bottom of the bag!

The teacher was quite amazed that we had found them! And it took less than 10 minutes! Truly, it was a meant to be moment. Was Harry excited? No, he said he could tell by looking at them that they had gotten warped from the heat in the dumpster and they would no longer fit. I will spare you the response I gave to him.

This week we have been challenged by 25 minute morning showers. When everyone now has to get ready in the morning, this does not work. I have decided to introduce a handy egg timer to fix this. Here's hoping.

I am sure next week will be easier...
Harry and Mom at the Fair

Baby animals at Fair

Ready, set, go!

Family fun!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

No Boundaries...

Comfort zones. We all have them and most of us try hard to stay inside. Staying with what we know is easy and comfortable. Going beyond? Well, that can be very unsettling. Three years ago, I made the decision to homeschool Bella for 1/2 days. Did I want to? Not really. I was unsure I would be able to meet her needs, but I understood that one on one teaching was the only way she would get the repetition she needed to retain key information. So I dove off my cliff of fear into the big sea of the unknown.

Two weeks ago I was attending my favorite Zumba class. In this class, the teacher invites people to come on stage if they want to dance. There are a number of people who attend on a weekly basis and know the dances really well. There are also people in the class that you just know took dance all the way through high-school and are super coordinated. Let me just assure you that I am NOT one of those people. Anyway, before I went to class, I made a decision. I was going to get on stage that day, if they played a certain song. Most weeks the song was played, so it was pretty certain I would be going up. It is not a super complicated song. In fact, it is probably one of the easiest, but there is a lot of butt shaking in it. Next thing you know, I am in the class, and then came the moment. I heard the song. Decision time. Did I go up? Yes, I dove off another cliff.

So what is the payoff for going outside your comfort zone? I think that is the scariest part. Sometimes there is no payoff, except for the satisfaction of knowing that you tried something new. That is a small payoff for a risk that might negatively impact your life for a long time or make you look like a fool.

10 years ago this August, my husband and I dove off a mountain. I daresay it was the Mt. Everest of comfort zones. We sat through an 8 hour surgery with our six month old child to have her bilaterally implanted with cochlear implants. She was the youngest in the world at the time, to have the procedure done.

And then there are the times you are rewarded greatly for taking a risk. A few weeks back, we were at Mayo Clinic for Bella's annual cochlear implant tune up. I asked them to do an audiogram on her since she has been learning about them with her Deaf/hard of hearing teacher at school. Usually they just do sentence testing on her and she performs extremely well, so they figure her audiogram is fine. Looking at her audiogram was amazing. Her scores were in the zone of "normal hearing" across the entire span of frequencies and decibels. For some frequencies, she scored above the line of normal hearing. Truly amazing.

We went on to see the speech pathologist we usually see on a yearly basis, while at Mayo. Last year we did not see her because Bella got a new updated version of her implants and there wasn't time to fit in both visits. I was nervous about hearing Bella's results. Last time we had discussed how as kids get older it becomes harder to gain ground in speech because vocabulary increases at a great rate and figurative language comes into to play. She came out of testing with great news! On the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP) Bella showed evidence of strong phonologic memory. This was in contrast to two years ago when she showed weakness in short term auditory memory.  In the Oral and Written Language Scales (OWLS) Bella made significant progress since our last visit. Last visit Bella was at the 16% for the Oral Expression portion of the test. This year she was at the 39%. In the Listening Comprehension part of the test she scored 47% last visit. This time she was at 58%. The big increases in these tests are significant because it is hard to gain ground in language when you are behind. As you gain more language so do others you are scored against. The hope is that you can just "stay your ground" and have your scores remain the same. To see significant growth is in one word "phenomenal".

Final payoff? Last week I received Bella's MAP scores in the mail. You may have read in past blog posts that I dread getting her standardized test scores. Standardized tests are supposed to reflect problems in kids learning. Well, since I am already aware there are problems for Bella, showing them on paper is little help. When I saw the tests results in the mail, I left them for a day because I didn't want to deal with them right then. So imagine my amazement when I opened them and saw that in reading she went up 31percentage points and in language usage she went up 22 percentage points. The first results were from Fall '11. The final results were taken in May '12. Pretty good year, I'd say!

So the next time you think about pushing outside of your comfort zone, DO IT! Sure you might fail or look like a fool, but maybe, just maybe the results could be amazing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

For The First Time...

The first time you ever experience an event is special. A first concert, a first love, a first car. For Bella, a few weeks ago, she experienced the feeling of being "first". Her swim team runs practice swim meets every month or so to get the kids ready for true swim meets where the times count. Everything is pretty official. There are timers, the starts are just like competitive meets with the three whistles to signify, "Get ready, get set, go!" Unlike a true swim meet, there are no DQ's or officials looking to make sure each stroke is legal. It's more about getting the kids to understand what the environment of a real swim meet is like before they go to one and get all freaked out and they can't perform. Ultimately, there are a lot less swimmers than a traditional swim meet and the distance is shortened to 25 yards instead of 50, except for a 50 freestyle at the end. Okay, enough back story. So there was Bella, ready on the blocks to swim her breaststroke. She is working hard to be legal on this stroke. Due to muscle tightness in her right calf muscle, she has difficulty keeping her foot flexed during the entire frog kick. That is a requirement for being legal. Right now we are trying kinesio tape to see if that helps to help her get the feeling. Anyway, usually Bella is slow off the blocks (somewhat to do with her hearing loss), but on this day she was very good! Into the water she went and she went into a very solid breaststroke.  As she neared the end of the pool, it was evident that she was going to get first place. Everyone started to cheer, including the three coaches. It was something to behold. When Bella got to the end, she didn't realize that she had won. Becca was timing in her lane and even she was excited. Bella's eyes were about the size of dinner plates when one of the timers handed her the blue ribbon. So maybe it doesn't count officially...but it sure counted to Bella!

Below is a clip of her 25 fly. She also did really well in that race and got 2nd place!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Here We Go Again...

Hard to believe yesterday was the official first day of Summer. Sometimes I swear I blink and months go by. The end of the school year was a virtual blur. We had a wedding to attend, Erick and I got away for a very nice weekend without kids, and there were the usual end of school ceremonies and picnics to attend. Here are some pictures from the wedding.

Last week we kicked off the summer with a bang. Harry and Becca finished up their caddie training. They are both going to be caddying this summer at Hazeltine Golf Club. It is very near to our house so the kids can ride their bikes. Well, at least that was the plan. So far Mom has been the chauffeur. Harry has gotten out more than Becca to caddy due to Becca's busy summer schedule, but it is a great opportunity for both. It really looks like it will be a great job for them. The money is good, they get exercise and are outside for their shifts, and the more respectful they are, the more success they will have. Sounds like a win, win, right? I will have to get a picture of them in their uniforms and post soon.

While Harry was out caddying last week. Becca and Bella were at church camp together. Another activity Becca is doing this summer is being a camp counselor. She went last week and she also went a few days this week. It was Bella's first year at camp, so we thought it would be nice if Becca was up at the same time as her to assist in any questions/troubleshooting that might arise about her implants. It was a bit of a tough call to make. There were advantages and disadvantages to having them go up the same week. Advantage number 1 was I would only have one child at home. That was a nice change of pace. Although, I will admit it got a bit boring by the end. I guess my body has become accustomed to chaos and drama. Anyway, the week went off without a hitch. Bella loved camp, but came home pretty exhausted.
Bella enjoying summer

Next week we are headed to Wisconsin Dells for a week to spend with family. Hoping for nice weather and great times!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Leader of the Pack...

Life lessons occur on a daily basis. Sometimes they sneak up and surprise us. Last Friday, Bella's swim coach handed her a plaque. It had been awarded at the season end swim banquet that we had been unable to attend. It was the leadership award for her last swim level. Her current coach said, "Coach Brenda's exact words were, "She's the best listener, even though she can't hear half the time in the water!"

Receiving the leadership award was such a great lesson to Bella. Does she have the fastest times? Can she swim the most lengths? No, but as he coaches have said in the past, she is always willing to work really hard and give it her all. Life isn't always about doing the best. As I have often told Bella, a strong work ethic often trumps final results. At some point everyone encounters a time/event where success is not easily achieved. For those without a strong work ethic, it is more difficult to power through the tough times. Having things always come easily is not always a blessing.

Bella was so proud of her plaque. She wanted Erick to hang it up right away with the rest of her swim ribbons.

I hope it is the first of many hard earned successes for her!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Too Close For Comfort...

A few weeks ago, I attended my first Twin's game at the new Target field. Well, I say "new", but this is the third season it's been open. New to me, anyway, right? The experience, and several other things that have been going on lately, got me thinking about how things don't always turn out the way you expect.

Some of you may know that almost 2 1/2 years ago, I set out on a New Year's resolution to lose some weight. With a combination of self control and hard work, I was able to lose 30lbs. Last summer, my gym was giving out $50 that could be used on club services if you wrote a story about any weight loss success. I submitted my story and received the money, which I used for some swim lessons for Bella. At the end of March, I received a call from Lifetime asking if I wanted to be "member of the game" for an upcoming Twin's game. They explained that Lifetime is a sponsor of the Twin's and that each game they have a member come onto the field, show them on the jumbotron, then tell a brief summary of their Lifetime success story. My first thought was, "Oh, I better put down the jellybeans!" Not to say I haven't stayed in shape, for the most part. It's just that like everyone, I have certain downfalls. I am a sucker for jellybeans and any other kind of gummy candy. I have maintained a regular workout schedule, but in recent weeks, I may have missed some strength workouts. Everything I hadn't done or had done wrong popped into my mind. Being on the jumbotron and being heralded for being in "great shape" is a bit intimidating. And if the camera adds 10 lbs, I can only imagine how much a jumbotron adds. Still, it seemed like an exciting opportunity, so I agreed.

So here's my picture of how the Twin's game was supposed to go. The sky would be bright and sunny, there would be a warm breeze blowing, my family would be smiling and happy to support me, and everyone would be excited about the game. Not exactly. First of all, I only had 4 tickets so one of the kids was not going to come. Instead of fighting over who GOT to come, they fought over who HAD to come. Bella was out of the equation since she couldn't stay home by herself, so the battle came between Becca and Harry. Harry lost out to Becca, so let's just say he wasn't thrilled. When we got to the game, the kids were starving so we bought food right away. Then my big event happened in the pregame. I must say it was pretty cool going under the bowels of Target Field and then getting to go onto the actual field. I was amazed at how much went on before the game. There were two guys who went out with me who were going to try and catch pop flys for a charity event. Everything is timed to the minute. So here is me on the big screen.

I must say it was pretty unnerving. They have a big TV camera facing you, while they read a summary of your story. The whole thing took about  1 1/2 minutes, but it felt more like an hour. Staring into the camera made me feel very self conscious. At one point in my life I had wanted to be a news anchor, now I know I made the right choice not to pursue that field. Personally I would have been less nervous to give a speech at Target Field than stand there for the 1 minute. The weather for the game was rainy and cold. Thank goodness for the heaters at Target Field. My sister and her family happened to get tickets to the game too! My nephew also made it onto the jumbotron that night!

 A few innings into the game, Harry started to complain about frostbite (he's a little dramatic) and I was a little worried that Bella was going to get sick for her nature camp week long trip on Monday, so we left after the 4th inning. Wimps, yes, I know. My sister and her family (the children are quite a bit younger) stuck it out for almost the whole game. What can I say?

Harry is also discovering things don't always turn out the way you hope or expect. A few weeks ago, he bought a new pair of sneakers. You might have read about how he had four pairs, but none of them seemed to be quite right. He used money he had earned from yard work to buy a new pair of Nikes. He got them from Nordstrom Rack and was happy for about a week. Then a little piece of netting broke on them. He now blames me for telling him to try and save money by getting them at Nordstrom Rack and says he has learned his lesson to never try and get a bargain in the future. Yes, because they were discounted is why the netting broke. Not because he is a very active boy who is very hard on his clothing. He is now asking for a new pair of shoes. Talk about not having things turn out the way you expect, that is almost the definition of parenthood.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Teacher, I Need You...

Teachers- individuals who are underpaid (in my humble opinion) and handle a large workload, often accompanied by complaints, criticisms, and stress. Not a true definition, but I believe true enough.

Bella's teacher at the World Learner School is so great! In an effort to get her some recognition for her outstanding service, I nominated her for a local contest. It is for "teacher of the year" at Let's Dish. If she wins she will get a free 8 meal session. Not much, but a little something she will enjoy and would make a hectic life slightly less hectic for a small period of time.

I would love it if you could vote! Vote often and help her win! Follow the link and pull down the menu to the Eden Prairie location.

Live Your Life...

It's been awhile since my last entry. No particular reason, just life. Sometimes, life gets in the way and we loose touch with certain things. That pretty much sums it up. I'll do my best to catch everyone up to date on the last month of Rowe activities and events.

We are heading into the final stretch of the 2011-2012 school year. 4th quarter. Everyone seems on track and focused. Ask me in a month and I'm sure it will be a different story. That last month of school can be  brutal. Weather is too nice, field trips get planned, and suddenly it is a struggle to pull the kids over the finish line of June 8th.

Last week was Spring Break, Becca's 16th birthday and Easter. Wow, nothing like packing everything into one week. Much to the kids' dismay, there was no exciting trip for Spring Break this year. I did happen to hear from them that EVERYONE, but them managed to get away, so there's that. Glad to hear people are pumping money into the economy, or rather the economies of Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe. Poor deprived Rowe children...

We did manage to visit the Science Museum during Spring Break and saw the Pirate exhibit, which I found to be very interesting. It was all about the Pirate ship, the Whydah, that sank off the coast of New England. I especially loved seeing the real gold and silver. Behind a glass case of course. I'm pretty sure that was for my safety, so I wouldn't be hauled off to jail for stealing.

On another day of break, Becca, Bella, and I went to explore Minnehaha Falls. I hadn't been there in years. Still just as beautiful.

We also visited a Ukranian Church in Minneapolis for Palm Sunday. They were having a "bazaar" after the Mass with perogies which our family adores and I refuse to try to make by hand. I managed to somehow read the time of the Mass incorrectly and we arrived at 9:30am and it had already started. Considering it went until 11:10am, I would say we were there for about all the kids could handle. My Grandmother on my Dad's size was Ukrainian and went to a Church just like the one we visited. Being in the church brought back lots of memories of her and the kids love learning about their "history".

On to the event of the year, Becca's 16th birthday. I am completely kidding, well sort of. I mean it was a very special event for our family, but get out of your mind any ideas of "Sweet Sixteen", the MTV show that ran a few years ago and showed lavish, over the top parties, where the kids drove away at the end in their new Mercedes or Range Rover. Our party featured the likes of steak, lobster, cheese, chocolate and a couple of fondue pots. We went for a night on the town to downtown Minneapolis to visit The Melting Pot. I had never been there before. 


And then it was Easter. The last day of Break, Becca's real birthday, and the official kick off to all things Spring.  We were a little late with our egg coloring this year, so here you see Bella and Harry painting eggs in their Easter best.

We spent the day at my sister's house. She planned an egg-cellent egg hunt (sorry, couldn't help myself).

And now you are caught up on our life. What's next? Lots! Stay tuned...