Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lazy Sunday


Okay, not totally lazy (Brian is working on painting the house right now), but almost lazy. This morning we got up and went to our local Children's park less than a mile from our house. A University owns it, and uses it for agricultural classes - at least for the community. In the back away from the main drag is the children's garden set up like garden rooms. There is the 100 acre forest, the ladybug garden, the three bears, the butterfly garden, and Old MacDonald's farm. It is a great place to sit back and read while your kids safely run around exploring things. T-Rex like finding the pear and peach trees, the strawberry plants, etc. After they played a bit they all ran around playing hide and seek. Blondie came home covered in sand. Down below the garden is a big pond with a viewing deck and an open classroom. It is just a GREAT place to relax and discover a little bit of nature.



We walked down to the pond and saw dragonflies, spiders, a yellow jack nest (yikes), and small fish. The dogs had a ball too because they got out of the house.



A few people from a group I belong to were curious about how Blondie walks without her brace, so since my camera is now obviously working, here it is. She doesn't have too much of a limp, but still turns out her knee and drags her foot a bit. She walks much better with her brace on. She thought I was crazy asking her to walk toward the camera - I got a big "You are SO WEIRD" attitude. video

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Finally, balloon ride pictures



My sister came over this week to download the pictures of the hot air balloon ride T-Rex got to do for being #5 in the school for reading so many books. It was a thrilling day for her, and Brian got to go with her. You can see the smile on her face - sort of. I have to get in there and lighten it up, but she definitely looks like she enjoyed herself.


We have also begun to harvest tomatoes and cucumbers from our little garden, in addition to the beans. We picked some corn, but it didn't look very good. T-Rex remarked (about the cucumbers) that it was amazing we could grow something that tasted "store bought." I must say they are the BEST cucumbers I have ever tasted, and hopefully they will continue to grow.
A pretty slow week for us. I really like the pace of summer vacation.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Our Trip pt. 2 OR Where Ms. D completes her pilgrimage



So, after having a lovely morning with Jessie and her family we went to the Baltimore Aquarium- a MOST wonderful place to visit, VERY crowded on Saturdays, and a little pricey, but we had a BLAST. Blondie was fascinated by the sharks, and wandered around that level looking in all the windows of the tank. The others were quite tired, and there was some serious adolescent attitude from Big Al, but they sat there and sighed loudly while I walked around with Blondie. Cheesie thought the starfish looked like Patrick on SpongeBob.



We returned to grandma's that night, and enjoyed an evening with the extended family. This is my Dad's family, so it's nice to touch base as we all come to grips with our loss.








On Sunday we went back on the Metro (Cheesie was SO thrilled) and rode into DC to the Foggy Bottom stop (Big Al still giggles about that name). Cheesie wanted to prove to us that she could stand up without help and hold on without falling. She really just loves that train.





We ended up at George Washington University and walked down to the main drag where we vaguely knew the Einstein memorial was located. After I marched the children briskly down the hill we started hearing them complain just as I crossed the street and found THIS:


and then we walked through the grounds and saw THIS:


but you don't really understand how big it is until I show you THIS:





This thing was gigantic. I always thought it was just a regular sized statue sitting on some steps. What was funny was how many other math geeks,.... I mean math enthusiasts were like me and showing up to take pictures. So along with my shirts purchased on Friday, I now have my own photos to make into a poster for my classroom(Yes, I climbed on him too to take the picture - I'm just not dumb enough to post it here). Pilgrimage complete. Go in peace.












Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Back from our trip

I know I haven't posted in awhile, but we went on a trip to the Northern Virginia/DC/Baltimore area. My mom, sister (and her friend Ashley) and the kids and I all had a different reason for going. My sister started it because she and Ashley were going to an audition in D.C. Mom wanted to go too, because Dad's "place" in Arlington is now complete with grass and a headstone, so she wanted to go back to the cemetary to visit. I wanted to be with her when she went, but I also thought about taking a side trip to Baltimore to meet Jessie and her family.


So sit back and relax.... this is a long blog.

Thursday we drove up and bunked in at Grandma's house. On Friday we went to Arlington Cemetary to see Dad's burial place. It is very surreal that our Dad is gone because he was such a "larger than life" kind of guy. He was defined by his service to our country, as well as his role in our family. My mom once said that his death is sort of like when we moved as kids - he would go to the new post first, and then we would close up the house and come at the end of the school year. All I know is that each of us misses him each and everyday, and while I may not cry about it everyday, I definitely feel the emptiness.



After Arlington we went on the Metro to eat lunch, and discovered Cheesie's passion for the DC metro. Truly. She wanted to ride it from one end of DC to the other, so we began to ride it at every possibility.

We rode the metro up to Chinatown. Unfortunately it was more like "Chinablock of restaurants." We were hoping for more, but looked in a couple of shops. I then realized that we were close to the National Academy of Sciences where Einstein worked, and being a math and science teacher, I needed to make a pilgrimage to the Einstein memorial. So after dragging my kids to the building, and making purchases from the gift shop, I asked the lady at the desk where the statue was located. I was STUNNED when she said it was at the OTHER building. The other building being an incredibly long walk for small children and not being very near a metro for Cheesie, I decided to satisfy myself with a t-shirt, sweatshirt, and mug.

Saturday we drove in to Baltimore to see Jessie and her family. This family is just going through the surgery process, and SOMEHOW has the time to set up a hemi foundation too (I salute you). Jessie is 6 and just finished Kindergarten too. They are incredibly energetic and seem to be coping well. I hope it helped them to see Blondie running around acting like her goofy self, but what surprised me the most was how much it actually helped me. Looking at this little girl who was past the hard part (in my opinion the seizures and the surgery are the hard part) took me right back to the moments where Blondie was getting better, but she looked SO far from normal. To look at my healthy girl now made me realize how far she had come, and how thankful we are for her to still be here with us. She shows us new things everyday and we are so proud of her. Hang in there Jessie!!! We know you can come just as far as Blondie.

Y'all get out your checkbooks and creditcards, and go buy something, or make a donation at http://www.prayforjessie.org/ . This family is giving out a scholarship in the fall to kids like Blondie to go to college.


I'll blog some more tomorrow about the trip because I DO manage to complete my math teacher pilgrimage and I'm sure you all want to read about THAT.



Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day


I was watching a morning news type show - Today, or Good Morning America, or something like that... and they did a story on parenting situations where the Dad actually did half of the parenting, and household chores in addition to working fulltime (like the wife). I must admit, I didn't know this was newsworthy, because my husband has pretty much always done this. He truly participates in just about everything. He does dishes, bathes children, goes to soccer practices, chauffers when he isn't working, etc. This year we were truly excited when his company allowed him to work from home. This meant that I didn't have to drag all of the girls around to every other girl's activity. There is nothing more patience testing than sitting in a therapy waiting room with 3 girls who know they still have to go to dance, or horses. When Blondie was sick, and later when my father was dying, Brian managed everything at home because he knew I needed to be somewhere else and focused on something else - this was in addition to spending a week at the hospital with Blondie, and sitting with my Mom on my Dad's final days. We've faced many challenges (all of our kids have hospital experiences), but we've known each other since high school. He has always been there, and we have always worked difficult situations through together.
I know that things are taken care of even if I'm not around - their clothing may not match with him in charge, but he definitely is involved.


So Happy Father's Day Brian. I love you dearly.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Swimming





Everyday (Monday through Friday) the girls all take swim lessons. First up are Big Al and T-Rex. Today they were practicing starts for a meet tonight so I only have a couple of pictures of them. On Monday nights there are less competitive meets, and on Thursdays there are timed meets. My kids prefer the Monday meets, which honestly works for me because I haul kids all school year, and even though Blondie has therapy on Tuesdays and Thursdays I like to take a small break from being the chauffer.






After the big girls swim we have about 45 minutes before the little girls' lesson, so we bring snacks, set up a blanket and take a break for a few minutes. At 11:00 the little girls jump in the pool. Today, however, there was a LOT of complaining, from Cheesie. Then she got in the pool. It looked like this:




She is still learning to put her face in the water, and decided in the last two days that she will no longer jump in, so she gets dropped in fairly unceremoniously. When she puts her face in she takes a deep breath and then puts her face in with her mouth open. She can't quite seem to get the coordination of the whole thing.



Blondie also swims in the 6 and unders. Today I have pictures of her and video - my video of Cheesie didn't look too great so I'll put that on when she can go by herself. She is still building her stamina for getting down the pool - which she could pretty much do last year, but we've only had about 4 lessons so far this summer. She is also working on her backstroke which she can float fairly well, but when she reaches the stroke she tends to flip over. Yesterday and today she started trying to use two hands to do a freestyle stroke, so I tried to catch that too. As they all get better I will be sure to post the videos.





video video

I'll try to post more tomorrow - I'm working on a class right now and my videos are not cooperating.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Jessie

I just heard today that Jessie Hall had a successful surgery. I remember that night so clearly because I was shocked to see how still Blondie's body was. She had been having seizures every 5 minutes or so and to see her still was so strange. I remember thinking that the hard part was over, and that each and every day she would be able to do something new. She still improves all the time. Today Blondie was working on first grade math in a workbook and working to improve her handwriting. She can walk, run, climb, read, and is working on her swimming. I know that Jessie's parents will be dedicated to her recovery, and perhaps we'll be able to connect with them next week when we go to see my grandparents in Northern Virginia.
video

video
I'm posting video from the sprinkler the other day of Blondie and T-Rex - just to give the page something to view. Today in the pool Blondie tried to use both arms to do the freestyle stroke (all by herself), but then her bottom would sink down. She swims okay underwater, but we are building back up her stamina at the moment. She also was able to float on her back, but when she tried to do the backstroke she would flip over. Swimming really builds her strength like nothing else. When we first put her in the pool two summers ago she couldn't even begin to move her left leg even though she had been walking for over a year. Cheesie continues to worry about jumping in and hasn't quite put it all together yet, but I know it will click for her soon. Big Al and T-Rex are swimming with the big kids and doing well. I will try to post pictures and video tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Therapy

Today was a regular therapy day for Blondie. I took video of her on the elliptical (working on the fluidity of her running) as well as running with her new brace on (I asked her to walk, but every time I asked that today she just took off running - she thought it was funny - booger). The limp is still evident, but I love how this brace picks up her toes so she doesn't drag them and trip over them. I also LOVE that she can wear regular tennis shoes with them.
video

videoIn other news tonight. Please keep Jessie Hall in your thoughts as you go through your day tomorrow. She will have surgery like Blondie's and I know her parents are worried. This family has set up a scholarship for kids like Blondie who go to college, and have worked hard to secure donations. They went public with their story, so you can read about them here: http://cbs13.com/health/Jessie.Hall.Rasmussens.2.728858.html and they have a blog here http://jessiekelley.blogspot.com/ if you would like to follow her story. Best of Luck Jessie - Blondie is pulling for you.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Girl Scout Trip

On Friday I took my junior girl scout troop (Big Al's) to Savannah to Kayak - unfortunately they dropped our reservation because they didn't send out their waivers - more unfortunately they didn't tell me until we were WELL on our way. Instead, the girls voted (they were SO FLEXIBLE) and we did a trolley ghost tour. We found out that the girl scout founder's house had a couple of stories to it. One was that when her mother died, a family member saw her father in the hallway waiting for her, and then a servant later reported how after the mom died he saw her and her ghostly husband come down the stairs together and out the front door. Another story was that a bunch of girl scouts were on tour and asked an older tour guide if the house was haunted. She was quite agitated by the question and told the girls there was no such thing as ghosts, and then POW the doors to the bookcases opened and hit her in the rump. It was great. We also went to the beach and played around - Big Al took a turn at being a "super model" (all 4 feet 7 inches and 62 pounds of her) and had great fun with her friends rolling in the surf.





On Saturday we went to the girl scout headquarters and watched the ridiculous movie that Juliette Gordon Low had written to advertise girl scouts. It had Margaret the amazing girl scout who could do ANYTHING - at one point saving the telegraph dude who was robbed and then sending a telegraph for help - and then later redoing the house of a soldier in the war. Lots of giggles watching that one. The girls then voted to go over to the birthplace and take the tour. Thankfully we managed to get in. The young tour guide we had was SPECTACULAR - although the older women running the place are very difficult to deal with - lots of lecturing about things. We saw the bookcases in the library that they had heard about during the ghost tour, and found it fascinating that they actually keep them open all the time because they keep opening by themselves anyway. I loved how they allowed us to walk into the rooms - the girls looked at the books Ms. Low read, and were able to walk up to paintings and look at them closely etc. They also asked fabulous questions about which were original pieces and which were just period pieces- didn't know they knew about those things. Juliette Gordon Low was amazing, a phenomenal artist, but I bet during her time period she was VERY eccentric, and bossy.

Here we are in front of the Headquarters:


And Daisy Low welded these gates herself - I think the light makes them look quite ghostly - not
one other picture turned out like this:


OOOOHHHH scary..... I'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with the big trees and the sunlight coming through them.....

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Summertime

It is so UNBELIEVABLY HOT here. Apparently we are hot even for the South. The girls dragged around the house until about 5:30 when the breeze started, so we turned on the sprinklers - even Maggie the puppy got into the fun.






Swimteam started today, so I'll be sure I post pictures of Blondie swimming, and Cheesie starting her first year. Big Al and T-Rex are pros, but everyone was happy to get in the pool today.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Catching up

What a BUSY few days.

Friday - Beautiful day! T-Rex started the day going up in a hot air balloon. She was a top reader in her school, so Brian went up in the balloon with her. She was very excited, but as a mom I was more than nervous. I don't want my kids to ever be afraid of trying something thrilling, but a small basket suspended under fire, and fabric which could plummet to the earth doesn't quite make me feel safe. It was my last day of school, so I couldn't go, but Brian took pictures from the balloon, and my sister took pictures from the ground (none of which have either been developed, or emailed to me). I made Brian promise to call the moment both of them had their feet on the ground, which he did. Thankfully.
It was a half day for me, so I was able to go and help Cheesie celebrate her last day of daycare (11 years of daycare payments are now officially behind us - YAY). Margie and Michelle are fantastic women who were willing to take in Blondie about 8 months after her surgery. They treated her like every other kid, and taught both of our younger girls respect and manners. Cheesie was a little sad because she won't see her friends much any more, but she is so focused on going to kindergarten she CAN'T STAND IT!




After grabbing Cheesie we drove like mad over to Blondie's kindergarten singing performance. It is a nice tradition, and after singing they give you a portfolio of their work for the year - a WONDERFUL thing to have from your child. There were endless songs about friendship, but she was very proud of herself. What stood out to me was how small she was compared to everyone else, and also how adept she is at figuring out how to do things like everyone else. She had figured out tricks to do the hand movements everyone else was doing (although I did breathe a sigh of relief that she was not in the class using sign language through a whole song - that wouldn't really work).

Saturday - Another busy day - BALLET RECITAL. Unfortunately we do not have photos of each of the girls' dances (they announced that they would ask you to leave if they saw you take a picture). We did take a few pictures of Blondie's class rehearsal of Pretty Woman, but T-Rex and Cheesie's were missed. I do have professional pictures though and will send those to grandparents soon. Blondie and Cheesie were in a performance from 9:30 to 11:15, and then T-Rex had 2 dances in the 11:30- 1:15 show. Then there were two more performances of the older kids, but 4 hours of a lot of little girls in costume was quite....um....fulfilling. Of course our kids were amazing.












Last night was 5th grade graduation for Big Al. I've never been very big on graduations - I think we should stick to high school and college- but I was proud of her none the less. She won several awards: Presidential Award for Education Excellence, All A's in 5th grade, Governor's Writing Award Class Winner, and Honor Roll. It was quite long (8 classes of kids), and our other kids were troopers. Unfortunately Brian couldn't get the camera to focus while she was walking through line, but here is a picture of her, and one with the principal. Big Al will go to a magnet middle school next year for high end kids, and she is very much looking forward to it -although she will greatly miss seeing her best friend everyday.


Today was the last day of school, so we begin the lazy days of summer. I hope to be spending a lot of them just like this: