Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Second Big Snow and SKIING!

Happy February everyone!

We have had a busy month.  Lots of school work, Valentine-making, and crazy winter weather.  LOTS of snow--and snow days off school!

This snow was perfect for making snowmen!

Three snowmen, actually

Elena was moving pretty well in the snow.  We left her crutches inside, and she walked around with a hand, or by herself (which was pretty impressive, as we got around 16 inches of snow in total).

E got to go on a fancy ride!

Knee Deep

We even let the girls stay up late one go night sledding at the neighbor's house!  This was a big deal.  School was cancelled for the next day.  Even when our girls can stay up late, they don't stay up too late past bedtime--E really needs her rest or she is a complete grouch.  Neither girl sleeps in late very well.  Anyway, the night sledding was beyond great--Elena would get up from her sled and walk back up the neighbor's steep driveway BY HERSELF for the next run.  It was AWESOME.

The snow couldn't have come at a better time.  We had planned a skiing day for the following weekend!  We set up a ski day with Therapeutic Adventures.  Elena hadn't been skiing for two years--and then, Vivian was too small.  This time, all of us got out there.

Elena started off four-track; skis on her feet, and skis on forearm crutches.  She had a facilitator, Jake, who was very patient.  Besides the four-track, Elena had a chest harness (to grab for leverage) and a "trombone", a sizeable metal apparatus that prevents skis from crossing (worn at the toe tips).

Four-Track; crutch skis are flipped up here

Last time E skied four-track, she was between a facilitator's legs, basically being held up.  This time, she was on her own, with a facilitator at the ready to support her via the chest harness.

It was a disaster.

There were two large inhibitory factors; one, Elena's left-side weight bearing meant she rode the right ski edge; and two, the trombone kept getting buried in the snow, causing her skis to get caught and turn around (as a unit, since they were bolted together by the trombone).  It took thirty minutes for E to get down the hill.  She had a full-on meltdown.  Jake handled it as well as he could--this experience was new for everyone, and no one expected it to start off so poorly!  Vivian and I tried to help as best as we could.  We left the crutch skis on the hill, and Jake supported her down the hill between his skis.  Halfway down he also took off the trombone.   I hugged Elena, took off her skis, and took her inside to regroup.

E calmed down quickly.  I told her that this was a work in progress--and sometimes things don't work out the first time.  We ate an early lunch, and then I talked to Jake.

I asked that E get less support--she tends to lean into any support she's given.  Since she needed to really push through her legs, I told him to support them the least.  I also gave him a few voice cues, and we all decided E would use a pole--I had been using one with Vivian, and it was working quite well.  I didn't think it would be successful with E and just one other person--but with a helper on each side, maybe.

E had a positive attitude when we went out the second time.

Pole Skier!

Second time's the charm!  E was fantastic!  Jake and Avery (pictured above) helped E ski down four times in a row (two was the most she had previously ever done sequentially)!  She had no other help besides the pole (no trombone, no tether, just the pole).  She did wear her harness, and they did use it when she got tired (after the fourth run).  We went inside for our second break!

Viv and I are the upright twosome here

Someone likes it!
After our second break, we tried to go out again, one last time.  By then, the sun had gone down and it was noticeably colder, especially on the lift.  It was also much more crowded, so there was a long wait time standing in line.  Elena made it halfway down the hill and said she was done.  She got a carry down the slopes and we started to head home.  Vivian was done too.

Overall, this was a great experience.  Elena's progress was HUGE.  I don't think she realized how much less support she got this time than she got two years ago.  And if all we need is another skier and a pole?  WE COULD GO ANY TIME WE WANTED.  We wouldn't necessarily need adaptive ski staff.  We LOVE Therapeutic Adventures--they are wonderful with our family, and are so patient, kind, and positive.  I just didn't imagine a ski trip without them.  But now, I actually can.  Isn't that GREAT?!

Huge thanks to the Therapeutic Adventure Team--Mark, Avery, Sean, and especially Jake.  Their patience and encouragement is astounding!  

Eye Checkup and First Big Snow!

Well, I'm playing catchup from last month.  January was rough.  I blame it on third-grade tempers and spasticity, which doesn't always mean the best of things.  Still, we had some highlights...

We went for an eye checkup at her opthalmologist.  E still has two eyes that don't like to work together.  That's all good--I'm happy as long as things don't seem to get terribly worse.  One of her eyes are farsighted, and has changed a bit.  The other might have too, but in general, Elena's eyes are holding status quo.  She gets a small change in prescription.  

The big news during this trip was we were due for our first big snow.  We've had some snow this season, but either it didn't stick, or it was a slushy mess.  I didn't want to miss this I packed EVERYTHING.  Snow gear, sleds, gloves, hats--and kept them in the car.  We were ready.  

We ended up at her appointment super early so as to not get snowed out--and then we got home in time to have lunch and get outside in the awesome SNOW!!!

Ready to go!

The snow was cold and dry, so great for sledding but not for making a snowman.

Angel girls

We wen sledding right outside Grandma and Grandpa's house, but that wasn't we drove a short way to a popular sledding hill.  The girls had a BLAST!  (no pics/video--it was cold and pretty labor intensive for grown-ups).  We stayed an extra day before heading home.  Before we left, E and Viv helped wipe off our car and Viv helped Grandpa shovel the driveway.

Grandpa's little helper

Thanks Grandma and Grandpa for letting us stay with you before, during, and after the storm.  Your hospitality and snow help were wonderful!