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Demi


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Wednesday, March 19. 2014

Last night, I had the privilege to take my two daughters to a Demi Levato concert with Fifth Harmony and Little Mix as warm up bands and Collins Key as between band entertainment. Getting to this concert was full of surprises. L had seen Demi at the State Fair on her birthday 2 years ago and her message to fans was very powerful. She talked openly and honestly about eating disorders, mental health issues, addiction and self harm issues she had personally and encouraged fans to seek help and they to could overcome these struggles. She connects with fans through her music but also through her "talk time" in her concerts. L really sees her as a roll model. Late last year, L sent me ticket information for Demi's concert this week. I shared it with S and we decided to get 3 tickets and let L decide who she would take. We hadn't decided when we would give them to her but purchased the tickets. L kept hinting about the ticket sales and asked about purchasing tickets in a way that I could answer truthfully that I had not purchased any (luckily she didn't ask her dad the same question or she would have known much earlier). One morning a couple of weeks ago, we decided we better tell her about the tickets so she could choose who to take. When we told her, she was so excited and overwhelmed with emotion. She cried tears of joy. She decided to take her little sister but wanted to keep it a surprise. I met L at the dance studio (she takes the bus there from school some nights) and after A-girl's trio practice, L told her she wasn't going to her next dance class but to the concert. Poor A-girl looked like a deer in the head lights. She didn't think it was true at first and then when it set in she was in awe. The crowds, cheering and loud music seemed to captivate her and she looked overwhelmed most of the night! Demi had another wonderful message part way through her set and both my girls heard her inspirational, encouraging words. We came out of the concert to snow covered trees and roads and despite having had enough of this long cold winter, the girls found the beauty in it and found joy in the moment.

A Performance


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Tuesday, December 3. 2013

L has been attending a performing arts high school now for 2 months (they started a month late due to construction) and seems to be adjusting fairly well to the new routine and the demands of dancing 2.5 hours every school day in addition to studio dance 10 hours a week. Considering this is her first experience in a brick and mortar school (she has been home schooled and gone to an online school) since preschool, she has made the transition with relative ease. She is up before 6am, travels by car pool to the limited stop metro bus stop for a 7am pick up and then travels to school and arrives a few minutes before their 8:00 start. She makes it home between 4:30 and 5 depending on the bus route she has to take (the home route isn't as fast as the morning route). Tuesday and Thursday nights, she rides the bus from school to the dance studio and we pick her up at 9:45pm. Those are long days. She is really enjoying the experience and it seems to be a wonderful fit for her. She has had to sacrifice things to be able to attend (travels over 2 hours a day by bus when the neighborhood school is about 5 blocks away, cannot participate on the high school swim team or down hill ski team which she did last year as an underclassman and loved and of course sleep) but she is liking what she is doing and that is what truly matters.

We don't really get a glimpse into what she does in the dance classes at school but last night we had a rare opportunity to watch her perform with several students from her class at a Monday Live Arts program. The choreographer for her dance studies class was chosen to present his work and he chose to take her section of the class. I wasn't able to take photos and that was extremely painful for me! They took the piece they had worked on in class and then adapted it for those students who could participate in the Monday night performance and rehearsed it after school yesterday, traveled in rush hour traffic complicated by snow and then performed it later last evening. It was truly amazing. I had no idea what to expect but it was clean and polished and the dancers adapted to the small space and smaller group size with what appeared to be ease and grace. They looked really good together and I just couldn't help thinking how far my little girl has come from wearing a tutu and spinning through the living room or in her beginning classes at the park when she was 3 years old. It was also very different from her studio dance and the competition venue. This is a completely different style and presentation and I was truly amazed to see this group of dancers perform so well together.

Several times as they performed, I caught myself thinking, "Wow! These kids are only in 9th and 10th grade and they really look so mature. Well, apparently I was not the only one that felt that way. Today we received an email from their teacher "Hi Everybody, Just a note to say thank you for all of your hard work towards making last night's performance such a success! You guys nailed it. (name), the curator of the event, was floored by your masterful and nuanced approach to the work - way beyond your years. Peers and strangers alike were truly impressed by your intensity and focus. Bravo. It was a real joy working with all of you and look forward to working with some of you again during J-Term! Very truly yours,(teacher). We are very grateful that she had this unique oppoertinity.

My girl is definitely a dancer! I cannot wait to see where this high school journey takes her in the weeks, months and years to come.

This is why I have grey hair!


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Thursday, October 10. 2013

I printed off AJ's math unit test and told him to take it while I helped LJ with his science project. I had my back to AJ and he announced he was done and handed me his papers. Apparently he couldn't get off his chair to get a pencil but could find a pair of scissors. He did all math calculations for 8th grade algebra in his head (which is his norm) but he chose to record his answers with a pair of scissors and while at it decorated the pages. Luckily it gets submitted by computer. 11 year old boys are extremely interesting little beings.

LJ loses his first tooth!


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Monday, October 7. 2013

LJ's two front, lower bottom teeth have been wiggly. His permanent teeth are sitting in place behind them already, just waiting to be seen. His right one was especially wiggly and we were encouraging him to pull it out. He was playing with it with his tongue and it was just hanging there. He was very worried about losing it and wasn't ready for it to come out. Then in a rough housing playtime with his brother, he got bumped in his mouth and the teeth flew out of his mouth and onto the floor. Guess AJ didn't want to be the only one in the house to lose his first teeth accidentally.



When Loving them Just Isn't Enough


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Sunday, September 29. 2013

There are times in your parenting journey when despite all your love, you just can't make them feel better. Its so hard to watch them in pain and feeling miserable knowing that you have tried everything in your bag of tricks and then some. You have dragged them reluctantly to appointment after appointment, held them down for tests and procedures as they screamed and your heart broke into a million pieces because instead of protecting them in the way they want you to, you are holding them down and forcing them to endure pain as the medical personnel search for a vein for blood draws and IVs or do other tests and procedures. Having to miss the first day of school, spending hours in medical appointments and the ER, feeling awful and missing fun activities with family and friends and yet being full of life and energy at others. The frustration of not being able to figure out what triggers these episodes and the inconsistency of their nature. A few great days followed by one or two not so great, followed by a not so bad, mixed with more great and a few horrible painful episodes and pretty soon it all runs together. Following directions, enduring pain and never truly understanding what is happening. This is poor A-girl's reality, for now.

Last summer, she developed severe stomach pains. No other symptoms just severe stomach pains. After about a month of questions, altering diet and trying various medications the stomach aches ended without any recurrence until this summer. Almost to the week. Unfortunately this year, the symptoms are more severe are not responsive to the medications. There is no consistency and diet changes and restrictions are not having the same results as last year. After three months, A-girl is still doubling over in pain. Still pushing through pain with a smile on her face but its wearing on her. Her performance in school isn't as good as previously. She worries and is anxious about getting the stomach aches when we aren't at home. Her eyes are dull instead of having that shimmering. She is resourceful and has figured out ways to ease the pain and miss a bit of the activity instead of having to go home. There seem to be patterns and then when we think we have an idea, things change and it no longer seems to matter. Patience seems to be the biggest requirement, yet it is what is wearing thin. This coming week, in our search for knowledge and understanding, A-girl has to endure more procedures. The prep isn't fun and I am not looking forward to making her do things and putting her through this experience knowing we may be no closer to figuring things out and may need to continue this waiting game for many more weeks/months. Its moments like this that I so wish just loving her as much as I do was enough to make everything better.

The First Day of High School


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Thursday, September 26. 2013

L's much anticipated fist day of high school has arrived. Their school was under construction so started a month later than most school's in the area. As a result they will be running longer into the summer than the other schools and have a much leaner holiday schedule throughout the year.

It has been many years since she was in a traditional classroom after spending most of her elementary years being home schooled and her middle school years in an online school. She is not in a traditional school setting, however this format seems to be a great mix for her. She is attending a performing arts high school and spends the first two 80 minute periods each day dancing. She then has an early lunch and goes for three 80 minute academic classes. Because this is not our neighborhood school, L needs to be up bright and early to take a 40 minute bus ride to school. I think that transition has been hardest on me. I stay up much too late to be up and ready to start my day at 5:45 but I am adjusting. And so is L. She seemed to be a night owl but she loves the chance to dance everyday and has been committed to a successful transition that she has made it work.

She will have a lot of transitions and changes to get used to but is excited and enjoying the journey.

Orientation Night. What an information filled night. Building tours, photos, bus passes, informational meetings, and meeting some faculty.



The first morning of school. L gets picked up by the car pool about a half hour before sunrise. We drive once a week to the bus stop where the girls take a limited stop express rush hour bus.

Walking again


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Friday, September 20. 2013

A couple of months ago, I had to stop walking. I had been walking 3-5 miles or more a day with the dog. S and I would go out each evening, re-connect after busy days and it was a great way to get some fitness time in as well. My foot/feet had started bugging me more than the arthritis I have in both feet. This was agonizing. A trip to the doctor ended up in a referral to a specialist and the removal of all "extra walking" Sitting still is not my forte but in the hopes of quickly getting back to my regular routine, I did it. The specialist diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis and tendonitis in addition to the arthritis. She recommended a boot and cortisone shots but our insurance is so poor that we had to try a different route of physio and ultra sound. After several weeks and little change, I am in the boot. Its frustrating as I had not realized how much a part of my routine walking had become. I was in a lot better shape 8 weeks ago than I am now and that is the biggest frustration. Yesterday S. left for 11 days of work and fun so by necessity, I am walking the dog. While it isn't our usual 3-5 miles (more like 5 blocks) it has been great to get back out there. Its been a long 2 months. The best part is my walking buddy. Now I just need to have the inflammation go down enough to get back to my regular activities without the boot.

Its all fun and games til somebody gets a stick in the eye


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Tuesday, September 17. 2013

Last night was a pretty typical Monday night at our house. Three of the kids had soccer games or practice all at the same time. S and LJ came over to watch the second half of A-girls game after LJ's game had finished. He watched for a bit and then went off playing with the many other siblings that were there watching.

The kids and I were having a late dinner while S worked (he has been working many long hours the past two weeks on a project and tends to work his regular job and then come home and spend an hour or so at soccer and then work on this project til the week hours of the morning). All of a sudden A-girl announced, "Oh Gross!!! Look at (LJ's) eye!!!"

They all proceeded to comment on how red, gross and disgusting it looked. It did look red but you would have thought he had suffered a severe eye injury with parts hanging out the way they were carrying on. I just assumed it was from the dust on the infield of the ball diamond that we were standing in to watch the girls play. The noise level increased and poor LJ was looking like he had had enough.

I stated "Come on guys. Its not like he got a stick in the eye. Its likely just dust. Let's settle down and finish up."

Very slowly LJ's eyes looked up and quietly he said "I did get hit in the eye with a stick." WHAT?!?!

He explained that he was playing with a little girl that is in the same soccer league as he is and she accidentally hit him with the stick. He was totally unemotional and didn't seem the least upset by it. When I asked why he didn't tell me sooner, he said he didn't want to get her into trouble (just a little bit earlier a little boy had hit another boy which created some drama and in true LJ fashion, he wasn't having any part of it).

I asked him if it hurt much and he told me, "No. Only when I blink!" To me that would be in the much category, however not for LJ.

It is still red today but isn't bothering him at all. Who would have thought that when I made that comment, it would have actually been the truth. Its not like we were in the woods and sticks were plentiful!

Back to School


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Monday, August 26. 2013

This morning signaled the beginning of yet another school year. L is now in first grade and A-girl in fourth. The big changes are with AJ who is now in Middle School (6th) and L is heading off to High School although her school doesn't start til later in September due to construction. Where did all that time go? It seems like only yesterday she was starting Kindergarten!

Looking forward to a great year of learning!


Winter Part 2


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Thursday, April 18. 2013

This has definitely been an odd winter in terms of weather. It looked as though Spring were coming and then we got several days of snow and colder temperatures. It felt like we were having a second winter.

Tonight as I took Jo out for our evening walk, we were pelted in the face with snow, almost knocked over by blustery winds and trudged through about 6 inches of snow. Jo absolutely loves this kind of weather. He loves to play in the snow. As he runs from side to side jumping in the snow and burying his snout, it is clear to see he loves the snow and is definitely a winter dog. It makes us laugh when we think how he joined our family as a rescue dog from Texas! He was meant to be here.

I also love this kind of weather, however I love it in January, not April. It was absolutely beautiful tonight as the light glistened off the snow and snow gathered on trees and fences but I am ready for the spring flowers and the green grass. I am ready to move on. I am ready for soccer tournaments and gardening not having tournaments cancelled due to "winter field conditions" and a garden under 6 inches of snow.





Spring?


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Monday, April 15. 2013

I remember on this day over the years there have been many types of weather. I remember enjoying picnics at the beach. Bike rides around the lake and even one picnic at the Rose Garden that we had to hurry home as the tornado sirens were waling and we ended up having our picnic in the bathroom in the basement. This year, spring seems to be taking its time coming. We have had snow several of the past few days but there are promises of warmer weather and melting snow. It certainly is a different year.

4-15-2002 by the lake.


Today.

Dreaming of Orange Bikes


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Thursday, April 4. 2013

LJ has a fascination with the color orange. He loves all things orange. Over the winter, the local bike shop about 2 blocks away had an orange bike in the window. LJ fell in love with this bike. He talked about it often and frequently requested to go by the shop to see if "his bike" was in the window. He wondered how much it cost, how long he would need to save his birthday money to be able to get the bike and when he would be able to ride it. It soon became clear that this was not a passing fad or interest but in fact something he believes he will own some day. Still months later he reminds me that his bike is at the bike shop waiting for him. I don't have the heart to tell him that we have never bought a new bike for any of the kids, that we have found awesome used bikes and that shiny new orange one will likely not find itself parked in our garage. It also doesn't cross his mind that he has never learned to ride a two wheeler yet due to some visual field complications due to his visual aura migraines. Perhaps this will be his year to learn to ride as he seems to be managing his migraines so much better. He also reminds me (in case I forgot) that he "has a fascination with orange." Tonight while I was out walking the dog, I walked by the shop. LJ's bike is still waiting for him. Keep dreaming buddy. Maybe someday your wish will come true.



Spring is coming!


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Thursday, April 4. 2013

Muddy rubber boots strewn in the porch. Doors left wide open. Helmets tossed on the couch. Bikes in the back yard. Pogo stick and scooters creating a maze in the porch. Several changes of dirty clothes from being outdoors. Clothes shopping because very little fits from last summer/fall. Allergies. Longer days. Quicker walks with the dog as the sidewalks are clear of snow and ice. Its coming. Now I just need my tulips and crocuses to bloom and it will be official. :-)


I think I am in trouble......


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Thursday, March 7. 2013

....when LJ is a teenager! He insisted he wanted a foot long sub today stating that the kids' meal one was just "too short!" We tried to convince him a 6 inch was great but he was insisting he needed a foot long. We decided to let him have one with the thought he would see how big it was, only eat half and could have the other half for dinner and the discussion of a foot long at future Subway outings would be over.

Well, our 6 year old was very excited, and proceeded to mow through his sandwich, the entire thing, in a very short amount of time finishing his before anyone else did. He also ate other foods/drinks with his sandwich. We were all shocked. We knew he could pack away the food but a foot long seems excessive. I can only imagine what he will pack away at meals as a teen. I am definitely in trouble!

Happy 11th Brithday AJ!!


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Sunday, February 17. 2013



AJ spent his 11th birthday at a day long State swim meet followed by a sleepover with some of his friends. Although his birthday wish, breaking the State record in the 50 back stroke and taking first place, didn't quite come true he had a great day. He had hoped to break the record and get a first place medal for his birthday present. If he could swim his personal best time he would break the record that has been undefeated since 1979. He did break the record but what are the chances of two boys breaking that record?? Likely very slim. but it happened. AJ swam a personal best, broke the state record and finished second. He also swam personal bests in his 50 freestyle and 50 fly and took second place in each of those races. Great day for celebrating.

After the meet, his friends came over and they had a fun filled evening, night and morning of eating, playing Wii, sledding and boot skating. Lots of hours of crazy boy energy and then a couple of hours after everyone left, AJ fell asleep (according to LJ while they were playing Lego).

AJ you are growing up so quickly. You are a hard working, determined and driven young man. Your sportsmanship is amazing. You are friendly to your "rival" and then offer congratulations when you place second. You are genuine, caring and sensitive. I love the way you think that I don't realize/won't be able to figure out that you are playing a game on your computer instead of doing your school/homework, the way you can negotiate (or at least try) and argue your way through most things, how you are such a rule follower (especially when the rules are in your favor), how gentle and patient you are with younger children, how you aren't afraid to admit that things bring a tear to your eye or make you want to cry and how you love to be outdoors. I love how creative you are, how you love to play the piano, and how you sing the songs you create and dance when you think no one is watching. It amazes me how you figure out math problems so quickly and how you "just know" things/answers that are hard for others to figure out and I an in awe of how your brain works and how you process all the information you know!

As I looked out onto the pool deck, I realized just how much you have grown. You are not a little boy lost in a sea of people. You are a young man walking confidently to your next adventure. Live life joyfully. Laugh often and love deeply. You are destined for great things my young man. I love you. Happy Birthday!!!



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