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Saturday, April 28, 2012

as easy as riding a bike

I was beginning to worry that Ella might get her driver's license before she mastered the art of two wheels. I knew that her lack of riding ability was only due to the amount of effort she wished to put forth (none), rather than her not being ready.

A few weeks ago she asked us to take the training wheels off her bike and we practiced a few times with us holding the seat and running behind her. It was frustrating for her to not just be able to go out and do it and the idea of the multitude of practice was a major mental set back. She didn't want to ride with the training wheels and she couldn't ride without them. So for the last many weeks, throughout this beautiful spring, she has just abstained from the bike altogether.

And then last week Skyler learned how to ride on two wheels and motivation flamed anew.

We bought the back saving parent bar (yes our parents managed without this tool but we have chiropractic bills to pay) and Ella suited up.  With a new attitude and some hearty sunshine, I had a feeling today would be the day.  Sandi donned her sneakers and I sat poised for electronic documentation.


Pretty nifty, huh?

Maya decided she needed to do some tricks to garnish some of the spotlight.

"Look at me! No hands!"

"Check it out Momma! My bum isn't touching.  See my bum not touch?  It's just like in your gym class!" (Spin class, which she watched the end of today.)

Eventually, she felt compelled to take a turn on two wheels too.  The entire time she was yelling to Sandi, "Don't let go of me! Don't let go of me!" for a total of something like 20 times.

There is much sage advice floating around about striving toward a goal. First off, it helps if you smile a bunch.

And while it is true that hard work toward a far away goal makes one long for the old days when the old milestone was enough, you must not dwell here too long.
At some point you have to reassess why you're working so hard and if it is all worth it.  Many people have to lie down to make such determinations.
But, alas, with a good support system and some old fashioned boot strap pulling, you get back on the horse/bike and practice, practice, practice. 

(I am ashamed to see that my running form still includes a flexed foot and straight leg even in Danskos.  No wonder I can't run more than 4 miles without pain.)
Some comic relief doesn't hurt either when you need to remember to take a long awaited goal in stride.

Then, before you know it, you are on your way...

and the training wheels are off, the bar is no longer needed...

and you can ride free.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Portland trip on video (or seeing Maya's craziness for yourself)

If you choose to watch the entire 6 minute, 2 song video Sandi made you will be rewarded with some pretty funny moments at the end.  Plus, you can see the degree to which Sandi will go to help her oldest child and hear Maya's story about finding a snake.  I'm just saying.  It's up to you, though.

April in Portland

I am going to post the video Sandi made of our super fun weekend and a lot of these pictures are in the video. But I also wanted to do a separate post with pics in part because each year I have the blog printed in book form and I want the pics to be in the book.  Plus, not everyone will have the stamina for the video since it is 6 minutes long (but a worthwhile 6 minutes!).

Our trip to Portland was everything we could have asked for, minus some interference with airway issues (Maya) resulting in lost sleep and an on and off case of the grumpies (again, Maya).

We stopped at the bank on our way out of town and allowed the girls to take $40 each out of their never-before-touched savings accounts to spend as they wished.  After enjoying the sunshine at a beautiful park, Ella begged to hit the mall to spend her cash.  To Build-A-Bear they went.  Via school bus.

We went to Silly's Restaurant for supper Friday night and I had to most amazing tofu, veggie, brown rice dish that left me literally aglow.  Maya was right at home being Silly at Silly's.  It was like she had returned to the Mother Ship.

We had planned to have the girls stay overnight with my sister the first night so Sandi and I could have a night away alone but after Maya's ER scare, we decided we couldn't leave her in a house with a cat since the allergy so significantly affects her airway.  We knew we had made the right decision when she was sniffling and coughing the whole way to Portland.  Sure enough, she needed a nebulizer treatment by evening and we spent most of the overnight in and out of the shower steam and Vick's rubdowns.  There was a moment when she was getting scared as her cough got tight and barky and I had a flashback to my role as medic/ambulance driver.  

At least she was happy showing off her nebulizer (the Panda) when it was still fun, before evening had turned to night.  It is always the wee hours that challenge a struggling airway most.

The next day the girls thoroughly enjoyed the breakfast bar at the hotel and a long swim in the pool before we went out to enjoy the unexpected sunshine.

One of the happiest places in the world for our girls is the beach.  Just throwing rocks and looking for treasures.
Which was all well and good until Ella's very special bracelet went flying into the ocean with her rocks and Sandi had to go after it.  You will have to watch the video to see it.  (Sandi even slowed the video down so you can see the bracelet fling off.)
Building fairy houses on Mackworth Island:

Ella built a fairy castle:

Maya built a tavern.  She had a stash of acorns for the fairies to play with.

We so deserved this special time as a family- playing, loving, hugging, chasing, laughing, celebrating.  It has been a hard 9 months for all 4 of us and it felt so good to put our family back in the center of our world where it belongs.  Love, love, love all three of my girls.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

practice for summer vacation

Summer vacation at Camp Carver involves a lot of beach time, day trips, outside play time, overnights to camp and so, consequently, a ton of packing, lunch making and unpacking. Seriously, I pack more in the summer than I do during the school year.

This is school vacation week and it has felt like a primer for the near daily outings of summer- throwing in extra clothes, cold water for when everyone is tired and desperately thirsty, sunscreen, bug spray, snacks, crustless sandwiches and cut up fruit.  It has been sunny and warm (today it was 83 degrees!) and we have celebrated vacation week in style so far, including two trips in as many days to the beach and playground with people we love.

Day one: Camden to visit my mom and Michaela and Braeden who my mom had picked up for the day.  We were going to have them overnight but some scheduling/custody logistics made it impossible and it was so nice of my mom to get them so we could spend the day with them after all.

Grandma headed to the beach with her brood.

I swear all it takes to keep kids happy at the beach is a gallon size Ziploc for all their sea combing treasures.

Maya is an official sea glass hunter:

She gave Braeden (who is 9 months to day younger than her) explicit instructions:  "Don't look up there Braeden." (waving at the sky) "You've got to look down here." (pointing to the sand) "Keep you lookers right down here and you can find some sea glass too."

It is a tough distinction between sea glass and broken glass. Maya developed a risky test: if it doesn't cut your finger, you can keep it.
There is a large pile of limestone along the beach that the big girls discovered could be used like chalk.  Thus began a coloring of the rocks that looked akin to an ancient tribal ritual.

There are all sorts of things to see when you are on the coast in an area such as Camden.  For instance, right across the harbor you might see a dream house:

or a seagull in flight.

Then there is the realization that soon your niece will be as tall as you and you wish she would just stop growing damnit.
We had an incredibly fun day and it is fun for my mom to have all her grandkids in one place.  After the park we made our usual stop at Cedar Works to try out there amazing playsets just to see if we still liked them as much as last time.  We did.

Then day two was a trip to the coast with Ashley and her twins, Kayley and Kendall (Ella's new BFFs).  They recently moved here from Georgia and it was fun to show them some of our favorite places to go.  I have to say my favorite part of the day was realizing that they had brought their bathing suits to go to the beach in April in Maine.  I love them for that, I really do.
First thing they did when we gave them permission to take off their shoes was to stake out some real estate for their project.

They worked very hard, for close to an hour, carving out rivers and interconnected waterways.

Until they ended up with a big hole.
These girls are so cute I could eat them up.  It doesn't help that they call me "Miss Suzanne."  I am such a sucker for politeness plus I think it makes me feel a tad bit royal.  I'll admit it.

These girls have provided the perfect friendship scenario for our girls.  Since there are two of them, there is a twin for both Ella and Maya. There is no conflict, no territory disputes and no sisterly sparring.  It is heaven on Earth. 
Did I mention that they are cute as buttons?
While I remain concerned about global warming, I am thrilled to get a jump start on summer. I have never been to a park so early in the year that the bathrooms are still closed.  It felt like an inconvenient honor.  I'm sleeping with the windows open, ready to smell freshly cut grass and dreaming of vases of fragrant lilacs in the house.   Hello spring, I've been looking forward to seeing you.
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