Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Two Little Gymnasts...

Our physical therapist, occupational therapist and speech therapist all recommended that we put the girls in gymnastics quite a few months ago.  At the time, I really didn't think they could handle the separation and we had a lot going on with appointments and therapies.  Plus, the available classes were during lunch and nap times.  We just weren't ready.  
One of the girls favorite friends, ML, signed up for gymnastics at the local Armory and loved it (and she does NOT like being away from her mama).  Another good friend gave the girls her old leotards (thanks, Caitlyn!).  The cost for classes is very reasonable compared to the copays of therapy.  The girls have started to cut back on their nap time.   Mama is needing a break from her little darlings.  The girls are at a point where it is time to stretch their comfort zone a little bit and give them some independence from Mama.  Soooooo, we went and watched one of ML's classes.  At the end, the girls were both chanting, "Weh deeee!  Weh deeee!" (ready) indicating they were ready to try and sign up.  C showed some apprehension and told me she was scared, but only after I signed them up for the trial class. 
 They were frightened the day of, but their desire to wear a leotard and be like ML overpowered their fears and they soldiered on to the mat, stone-faced and silent.  I wanted to cry.
I'd asked them to stick together and for FL to use her words and sounds and for C to help her if no one could understand.
(C is in light pink w Capri pants "Dees jus' wook sooo cute on me, Mama!" and FL is in the crushed velvet, multi-colored little leotard w no pants, per her instructions)

They looked over their shoulders every two seconds for reassurance every time the instructor asked them to do something.  I just kept smiling and signing "look" and "listen".  Between swimming, art, horses and other things, I've taught a lot of children.  Nothing prepares you for this side, does it?  Especially when your child thinks they might get hurt, you might be leaving them or giving them to someone else...  I know it sounds so melodramatic, but these are things we always have to consider.

FL told her instructor she wanted mama a few times during warm up and totally gave her the cold shoulder and refused to hold her hand.  This is actually good because I've taught them to let Sam and I to meet their needs and it shows some good attachment despite all of my mistakes!

And then they marched off to a little exercise room with a bar and rings.  There's a window to the room, but they can't see through it.  It was hard to watch them fight through their anxiety quietly while they sat and did the exercises.  At one point, FL got up, marched over to the instructor and said, "WANT MAMA.  BIG HUG."  They said, "Hey, how about a teddy bear?" 
And just like that, I was replaced.  By a smelly, old teddy bear.   A teddy bear that she danced with all over the gym instead of sitting and waiting her turn...  A teddy bear that she plopped onto the balance beam despite the fact that he was in the way of others...  A teddy bear that wore her name tag on his face, neck, arms and legs alternately until it just wouldn't stick anymore.  Oh, Lin Lin.  I love that you are never afraid to be you, even if that means breaking the rules, not listening, embarrassing your sister and dancing like a loon with a smelly, old teddy bear on a balance beam. ; )

After their time in the room, they came out to the balance beams.  The balance beams are far, far, far, FAR away from the mamas.  It's all stratigically worked out this way, I'm sure.  But gosh it was far!  Too far to wave, smile or shout encouragement....  For a little perspective, the picture below is of C and FL on the balance beams.  Can't see them?!  That's because they are on the complete opposite side of the gym.  
Far, far, far away from the mamas.  
Far away.  
Did I mention they were far away from me?!

Ok, here's a picture I cropped so you can see.  

Now they are walking sideways.  They seemed to keep up just fine with the other children, even with C's weak side.  You gotta love that little belly poking out on FL!

They had a little obstacle course for them to hop, tumble and jump through.  They girls both did well.  The frog jumps onto the foam blocks where hard, but they both just about had it by the end.

They not only got exercise, but they had to listen, remember, follow instructions, wait and take turns.

And just like that, it was over!  Everyone got a little stamp on their foot (C called the stamps "footprints"!  Cute!) and was sent back to the mamas!  Yay!

I can see a little anxiousness and tiredness on one little face...  I had to stop the pictures for hugs and smiles, though.  There were happy shouts of, "I did it!" and some "miss mama"s, but I thought they did really well.   C was very anxious upon reflection.  FL said she thought she could be "big girl" and go without the bear, her dancing partner, next time. ; )

This girl is high on life and low on sleep!

I asked for a still picture with her mouth closed and this is what I got...

Does that leotard not crack you up?!  When I was little, I liked all things sparkly, flashy and embellished, just like this girl.  My sister was just like C.  Plain, simple clothes and a rule follower that listened to her teachers.  I was the "miss mama" type, though I don't think you would have caught me dancing with a teddy bear like no one was watching... ; ). I love my girls and all of their differences.

Though C has expressed excitement and anxiety about gymnastics alternately since the trial class, we are going forward.  I plan on getting there early when the class starts back up to walk the area with her.   She has also expressed needing to take a hug from mama with her during the class.  For those in the future with anxious littles like mine, I plan on drawing a heart with "M" for mama and "C" for Charlotte on her hand.  FL requested the same.  I've also given them little felt hearts to take with them other places, so I might cut some out for them to tuck in the neck of their leotards. 
We will see how it all works. Currently, the girls are playing gymnastics at home, bouncing, pulling up on everything and doing forward rolls every chance they get, so they seem happy about the class.  Though it is hard for all of us, it is time to start stretching our comfort zones a little bit.  This is all good stuff. : ).  I am looking forward to not being the person teaching and pushing my children in something new.  I am looking forward being the one on the sidelines praising, encouraging and cheering them on.  I am looking forward to welcoming them back into my arms with hugs and "you did it!"s and "I'm so proud of you for trying!" and all that other good stuff.  
I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Camping Week

It's Camping Week!  We did this last year and it was sooooo much fun we decided to do it again!  Who doesn't love a tent and a campfire right in the middle of their house?!   Ok... Don't answer that - we love it!
First, we set up camp, complete with a sleeping bag and some wonderful library books to read by the campfire.

Of course, you can't have camp without a campfire, so we made our own out of tp tubes and tissue paper.

We brought out our shakers from Music Week last Summer and sang some campfire songs.

C helped to name our camp, Camp Laundry, which is so appropriate because we use the drying rack for the tent and it is right by the laundry room!  We even made a sing out of sticks and other things collected froma nature walk.

Later in the week, we tried painting fire with marshmallows!

"Mama, I love you, but you have some crazy ideas..."

It was more about the process than the product...

And eating marshmallows, of course (NOT the ones with paint on them!).
We made a little handprint campfire craft to keep...  If I can find a handprint craft to go along with our themes, I am going to do it - their little hands are so sweet and are GROWING so fast!

Our week included a trip to Birmingham for an appointment, so we made the best of it by "hiking" on the trail like you would on a camping trip.  Most camping trips probably don't include a well-manicured public botanical garden, but you have to work with what you've got!

We concluded our week by making our own little campfire and roasting marshmallows.  First, we had to gather the wood.  Sam and the girls hiked around the farm to find just the right sticks (or logs!) for the fire.  
On a side note, FL could NOT walk our driveway last year ( it is about 1/4 mile long).  She would cry and fuss and just give out right there in the middle of it because she simply didn't have the muscle strength or stamina to walk that far.  It took about an hour if I wanted them to walk the whole thing there and back because we had to rest sooooo much.  So, we pulled them in this wagon (a gift from the Stinson family - thank you!) everywhere on the farm.  Since the horses had to be fed every afternoon, this wagon got a LOT of miles on it in those early months.  Now, a year later, they are pulling it everywhere on the farm, fully loaded, uphill, both ways! ; )  I don't take a lot of time to reflect on how much the girls have accomplished since they've been home, but they really have come so far - thanks for going down this little rabbit trail with me!  It's nice to look back and celebrate their progress!

While I was making dinner inside, Sam and the girls worked on the campfire outside! (Excuse the blurry phone pictures - I stopped what I was doing to come and quickly take pictures as the sun was going down)

After dinner, we at around the fire, roasted marshmallows, sang songs and just enjoyed ourselves.

It was a great way to end the week!

I'm thankful for my two precious little campers and the fun times we have together as a family!  I'm pretty sure we will have a camp week next year - maybe even doing the real thing!

Friendship Week

This week was all about friends and fun!  We have some fantastic friends near and far, so it was fun to celebrate.
C and FL "wrote" some postcards to some of our friends in our travel group that live far away.  I enjoyed listening to what the girls wanted to tell them and felt was important information!

A nice long walk to the mailbox to give our postcards a proper send off was in order.

Of course, some of our "friends" are not people, but the sweet animals we share our farm with.  Scout has always made a good playmate!

One of the girls' friends came over (and her mom happens to be a friend of mine from college!) and we worked together to make some custom wrapping paper with a baby pool, paint, a beach ball and paper.

They had to communicate and help each oer out to make the designs more colorful. (Use a heavier ball if you choose to do this activity).

Next, we made our own friendship cuff bracelets out of tp rolls!

A little paint, glitter and sequins can dress up anything!

One of my children was much more interested in mixing and experimenting with the paint...

They came out very cute and we were able to share them with lots of our friends.

The girls' friend even made them a special bracelet!  They were THRILLED, as this friend is a big kid!

The weather was SO warm, I let them put on their suits and clean the ball and pool for me. : )

We also made cards for a very special friend of mine.

Friends love each other, even in the hard times!

C and FL wore their BFF shirts this week to celebrate.

Because, wether they realize it or not, they are ech others' best friend for life. : )

Happy Friendship Week to all of our wonderful friends!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Charlotte's EEG

My sweet one had a big day today...

No, she's not joining the swim team....

We think she has had some "absence seizures."  So hard to tell with all that she has going on.

So, they strapped on this cap, injected the circles with gel and told a three year old to be quiet and to not move.  At all.   Kinda hard.
Unknown medical procedures are always a little scary for C, and understandably so.

But for this one she got to bring her Mama, sit in her lap, be rocked and watch TV.

She couldn't talk though - that was really hard for her.  She did fantastic behaviorally and we will hopefully know the results soon.

She's a brave girl and impressed the nurse so much that she got FOUR prizes!

Dolly got to try out the rainbow wires in the back of her head, too.  : ). Good ol' Dolly.  She's still the favorite when it comes to comfort.

I held her for the procedure, rocked her and we just sat quietly.  Early in the test the put out a light that flashed rapidly at five different times.  She seemed to glaze over, but it was hard to tell since she couldn't move or talk!
Her hair was a mess afterwards, but she was still cute when it was all said and done!

We went to look at the fountain to help her calm down.  I could tell that it really stressed her out.
Throwing a penny in did the trick!  All better!  But soooo tired.  Daylight Savings Time has us all messed up, even thought I started the shift a while back.

Join us in praying for our Pie-Pie.  God strengthen us, please, and help us to give her everything that she needs.  Give her peace and joy.  We love her so.