Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Roundup

We've been out and about this summer!  As soon as I put up banners with Summer Activities, Elena's been asking about some of them each day.  So, in no particular order:

Run A Race
In June, there was the Summer Track Series where there was a kid's track races (with/without sibiling/adult participation), run by some local running gurus.  I had inquired before about training programs, but got a lukewarm response.  The tagline for these races was "runners of all abililites welcome"--which, I guess, meant kids that could run.  Well, Elena CAN run.  Needless to say, we weren't what they were expecting.  We showed up and registered.  Everyone would get a ribbon at the finish of each race.  My only request was that Elena and Vivian ran in different heats (I didn't want competition between siblings).  They ran by age.  That's no big deal--in all honesty, Elena would be last in almost any age range.  That is okay.  I just wanted to her to finish, and be proud of herself.

Viv's 100m dash!

Elena's 100m dash!

In the past, E has normally taken 5-6x as long as her peers.  Her 100m dash time is 3-4x, so that's a huge improvement!!

We also entered the parent/child 2x400.  I thought it was a 2x200 when I signed up for it, so I panicked at race time--we ended up doing a special race where Jason and I (paired with Vivian and E, respectively) did a 600/200 race, with the kids doing the second leg.  Needless to say Jason and I were the slowest adults at the meet.  But, I thought, that was a good example for the kids--we had a great time, no matter the place.  Having E and Viv do 200m vs. 400m was a good move--they ended up finishing just behind there peers, but they could still see them and were obviously in the same race.  Everyone got a ribbon, and the girls were very happy!  And a special thanks to the kids who came up to Elena after her race(s) and told her "hey, good race!".  Class acts, those kids!

Play in a Sprinkler
Elena has never been through a sprinkler until now.  The difficulty with water, no shoes, grass, and no handholds is enough of a problem--never mind the fact that we don't have a sprinkler.  Thanks to Pinterest--we decided to make one--and make an event of it.  Introducing...

The Kid Wash!

inaugural wash

E likes it!

everyone wants a turn through the wash (even parents)

After phase one, we broke out the slip n' slide!  Most of the kids liked it--it was hard for Elena to take a running start, so she had help.

big thanks to Antonio to keeping the slide smooth

Phase three was success!

Summer PT

Elena is learning more of the actual riding portion during hippotherapy--here is E's most recent development--posting!

At the end of her lesson, Viv normally gets a short ride.  This time, they got to ride tandem...what a sweet treat!

Viv is beside herself

smiling the whole time

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Clemyjontri Park

We planned on visiting my brother and some friends last weekend; since our rendezvous was late, we used the day to visit a new park.  Clemyjontri park is nestled in Fairfax, Virginia--and it is a gem of an accessible park!

We got there at about 2pm, which is normally Vivian's naptime.  It was warm, and there was no breeze.  The kids had been in the car for a few hours, and needed some exercise.

They have a huge carousel!

Elena's first stop at the playground

Viv and Dad riding

The climbing/play structures are wonderful.  Ramps galore, small steps, supportive swings, low-level bars, you name it--this park has it.

Walkin' around the vehicle section

going to the playground

Besides the carousel, Elena's favorite parts were exploring the jungle gyms, and using monkey bars that she could reach.

One type of monkey bar

Elena's favorite type of monkey bar


Big hopscotch outside the kid maze

tire swinging with a new friend


Elena was the only person I saw with an obvious physical disability for about an hour.  Then we saw a girl in a little purple power chair, on a "racing track" with some other kids.  She'd drive (fast, I might add) and the kids would race her in their "lanes".  Pretty adorable!

Everyone loved The Bus!

seriously, tons of kids piled on after this picture

"This is the AWESOMEST park EVER!"

Last carousel ride

Unfortunately, the heat got the best of us.  Elena used to totally wilt in the sun...she made a lot of progress with her outdoor endurance and heat tolerance last year, which was our first real year doing anything outside.  Still, without a breeze, the sun exposure was a bit much.  I figured she would last a little over an hour, which was just about right.  We'll definitely be back here--but we'll have to wait until the summer months are over, I guess.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I don't know where to start, it's been so busy lately!

 At Elena's last week of school, I got to visit!

E and her reading buddy, A

E has changed so much this year.  She is a great reader and very imaginative.  Her favorite class is PE (physical education).  Not only has she progressed wonderfully academically--physically she is much stronger, faster, and her stamina has really improved.  At the beginning of the school year, she required her push chair to make it through the school day.  By the end of this year, she only uses it on fire drills and maybe on a field trip!

E in the school's Japanese Garden

We are looking forward to summer playdates with her classmates, as well as E's online attempt at Edmodo (sort of like a school Facebook for kids).

Elena went from being a Daisy to a Brownie!

Bridging to Brownies

 Last Day of School! 

a little chalk surprise when E got off the bus!

Summer to-do list!

Let's Do This!!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Girl Like You

I had the opportunity to finally connect with a family that lives a few hours away.  Josephine and Gabe are the parents of three lovely children; their eldest, Avery, has cerebral palsy and is a year younger than Elena.  Josephine contacted me through this blog (contact info on the side panel) and we've been emailing off and on.  She was one of the first to join the Holiday Card Exchange last year, and we have their family picture on E's buddy board in her room.  

Avery recently started seeing our Feldenkrais practitioner, Keith.  They had an appointment earlier this week and she suggested a playdate for the kids.  ABSOLUTELY!!

It was a gorgeous day, so I suggested we meet at playground close by.  This playground has a water splash park and climbing structures and swings--I've mentioned it here and here.  
Elena had met Avery before, briefly, at Keith's.  She was very excited to see her again!

E and Avery
It was everything I ever wanted.  A chance for Elena to play with a girl who understands her life.  They immediately started talking, chatting their way to the park.  They looked at each other's equipment, and talked about their walkers/crutches/wheelchairs, with no "weirdness", or judgement...I dare say they were excited to talk about those things with each other.  And other things, of course.  

Walkers in the park
Viv is cold and excited
The similarities don't end there--Avery is the eldest sibling in her family also, and her eldest brother is Vivian's age.  I felt they subconsciously also had a common bond; a sister that moves differently than they do, and all the peripherals that come with that. 

Viv and Brogan
And to top it off, E and Avery weren't the only two kids with CP at that park.  Another girl (quite young) that we had met at Kluge was also there, crawling around the sprayground enjoying herself.  It warmed my heart.

When the sprayground got chilly, the kids moved into the sunny part of the park.  


E had thrown her crutches by a bench, up the hill (even though I told her to "park" them nicely).  We were summoned by one of E's classmates, L, who recognized E's crutches and was running all over the park looking for her.  There was lots of squealing--pretty adorable, actually.  After it got too hot in the sun, time to cool off...

Beach Walker 2.0, back in action

Vivian on the water attack

E retreats as L readies her water cup

After another visit to the sprayground, the kids started getting hungry.  We all opted to go to our favorite pizza place.

Tired and hungry

Avery used her manual wheelchair, and we all sat outside.  The adults actually got to sit by ourselves for a little while (!), where we freely chatted about diagnoses, surgeries, therapy, and all sorts of other things--including Josephine's initial reluctance to Avery's chair (kind of where I am right now), which I found very helpful.  And on the subject of wheelchairs:  while we were eating, two women came to the restaurant--one in a power chair, and another in a manual one.  Avery and Elena immediately started chatting them up--it was one of those moments in time that I want to keep forever.  To me, it felt like the veil of disability vanished.  No wondering stares, no pity, no insecurities, no reservations.  Pretty amazing.


*I wrote this on the eve of E's birthday, but now it's out of order b/c Blogger had a facelift since my first draft.*

April 30th, 2012

Dear Elena,

Today you are Seven years old.  I can't believe how much you have changed!  Your features are more grown-up, you are a fantastic reader, and the best big sister EVER.  

Notice Anything Different?

New Ears

New Smile

You chose "Under the Sea" as the theme for your birthday party.  It started off with a collaborative painting, with potato stamps and paint colors that you helped mix!

The Masterpiece

We started with "Goldfish Says"--a version of Simon Says. Then I showed a little movie of life under the sea, and everyone yelled out animals they recognized.  I also showed some examples of ocean camouflage, including an amazing octopus!  After that everyone enjoyed some pizza, and then we started our featured game...Sardines!

Sardines is a game of hind-and-find.  The Sardine hides, and everyone tries individually to find them--silently and independently.  When someone finds the Sardine, they hide with them, until everyone is packed in the hiding place.  We played it throughout the house.  This is a big deal this year because you can navigate the whole house by yourself--we are so very proud of you!  Everyone loved the game!  After that we enjoyed mini Ocean Blue cupcakes.

Elena, you are still the hardest working kid I know.  You apply yourself in school, you are hard-working in therapy (even though you get frustrated with yourself), you are courteous at home (most of the time--you are seven, after all).  You constantly amaze us with your progress, your humor, your writings, and your stories.  We love you always, in all ways.  You asked us for something special as a birthday gift.  Daddy and I know you are ready for this responsibility.


Happy Birthday Doodle!

Mommy, Daddy, and Vivian