Monday, July 13, 2015

Overnight Weekend

Maddux is attending a 5-night overnight camp at Winshape this year which she is very excited about. As much as our family has enjoyed Winshape day and overnight camps though, they do come with a big price tag. We have been able to allow both kids to go for the last two years because each year we got a 50% discount for first timers. Next year, however, we are exploring other options for them. One of the camps we are interested in is North Georgia Christian Camp. Some of the girls that our kids have gotten to know well through church are on staff there, so it was a no-brainer to have Maddux test-drive it last weekend.
The camp is very bare-bones and affordable. Love. That. Maddux got to go swimming, kayaking, have a camp fire, sleep in a cabin...this camp has all of the things summer camp should contain. She said the counselor that slept in her cabin even had a guitar and played it until they fell asleep each night. And while she didn't use her own Bible much, she came back with some new worship songs and a new verse memorized.
Oh yeah, and of course Maddux had a great time, loved every second, and had no problems being away from us. (If you know her, you understand the 'of course'.) She started out on the top bunk, but moved to the bottom to help comfort a friend who was struggling a little each night. That's another bit of unshocking news to me. This girl loves large.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Away From Home

Eli went to Winshape overnight camp again this year. Last year he did the one-week (5 nights) camp, and he opted to not extend this year, which made me very happy. He and Drew both went the same week, just like last year. They were not in the same bunk, which wasn't a surprise, but they also were not in any of their track choices together. I think this may have made Eli nervous last year, but he was fine with it this time around.
When we dropped Eli off, he settled right in. What a difference a year makes! This year's camp was at a different location, so the boys stayed in dorms instead of cabins. Eli and three other boys shared a small room with bunkbeds, and they shared a bathroom space with four more boys. Their entire squad, Hydro, was on the same floor. This made for cool decorating in their squad colors. Their was also a carpet ball table on each floor for the boys to play in their downtime.
Throughout the five days he was away from us, Eli learned how to make a teepee fire, worshiped at sunset on a hill, learned a handful of new games involving a ball, met new friends, and had an overall awesome time again. He and his bunkmates won the Honor award for their squad because they kept their room the cleanest each day (What?!?!), and Eli was recognized for his squad in his sports track.
My favorite part about the day we went to pick Eli up was when we entered his hall and called his name, he turned around and he and Maddux ran to each other and hugged.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Therapy Update

The days and weeks pass so quickly now that I forget to keep everyone in the loop. This girl is still tackling everything head-on, though she is definitely 'two', and will remind you of that (loudly) when she sees fit.

Physical Therapy:
Ruby is still walking everywhere. She can now walk up and down our sloped driveway without assistance. She doesn't always fall, but balance on an uneven terrain is still a challenge. She is building up her endurance too; I challenge her to walk up the hill on our street at least once/week. We use a push-toy, even though it doesn't offer much stability, just to help her feel like she has a purpose in the walk. She's getting higher and higher up the hill every time before she runs out of steam.
Ruby is walking backwards all of the time too. I remember that was one of the things to keep looking ahead to, but Ruby decided to teach herself how to do it. She's also dancing. This mostly consists of her waving her hands and 'stomping' her feet, but it's cute as can be. She'll hear the music and immediately make eye contact with you and start shimmying.

Finally, Ruby is fearless and a climber. She will climb into or over anything she can. I have to imagine this is good for her, so I try to give her opportunities for it as much as possible.


Speech:
Ruby is making some real progress in this area. A while ago she mastered her "ooooh" sound, and then her "oooo" sound. Then she started giving us different faces, specifically mouth shapes. She will give me five faces: funny, sad, happy, scared and mad. These little exercises are great for speech!
Ruby is currently 'moo'ing like a cow and 'woo-woo'ing like a dog and 'oo-ooo'ing like a monkey. Her current words are:
  • yes (ess or yesh)
  • Hi
  • Bye-bye (bah bah)
  • mama
  • dada
  • Maddux ('icksss')
  • eat
  • more (still a little bit 'mohh', but there is more 'r' most of the time)
  • I love you (work in progress: 'eyeee lah oooo')
  • want ('oo-waah' - this only comes when I prompt her)
Ruby still sees three different speech therapists (in addition to PT every other week and Gigi's a few times each month): one weekly, one every other week and one every 4-6 weeks. She is a busy busy girl! It is paying off though… She now will repeat most things when I ask her to, to the best of her ability.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

ER x 2

So Ruby decided to visit the ER twice in less than two weeks. Not really bragging rights, if you ask me!

The first visit was due to a small fall in the house. Ruby has always tried to be faster on her feet than her balance with allow for which means she needs to put her hands down to steady herself from time to time. (read: she falls, but catches herself with her hands instead of going all of the way down.) That's what happened while I was at a photo shoot one Saturday morning, but on the way down, her mouth hit the safety gate and her tooth sliced a deep gash in her upper lip. I walked in to Maddux hysterical on the floor, cleaning up a pool of blood and Eli trying to explain to Lehr exactly what happened.
Ruby stopped crying after a little mouth clean, but we still took her to the ER. Even though we knew that mouth injuries heal very fast, we didn't want to take the chance of something healing incorrectly and interfering with all of the hard work she's putting in at speech.

Lehr took both girls while Eli and I stayed home; since Ruby was not in need of comforting, we figured the less commotion at the hospital the better. In the end, Lehr paid for a very expensive Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Popsicle and got sent home.
Ruby's second visit happened just before the fireworks on Independence Day. We were loading up for an errand and Ruby got her pinky shut in the car door. It wasn't slammed and she recovered quickly, but the finger looked bent and swollen, so away we went again. They did an x-ray and examined her; clean bill of health again. The doctor was confident everything would return to normal quickly.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Maddux's Slumber Party

Each kid loves to think about and plan their birthday party. Even the day after their birthday(s), you will often find Eli and Maddux talking about what they want to do next year. Since Maddux turned 7, she's been talking about having a slumber party for #8.
I was not up to having a house full of girls overnight (no basement makes for a loud party house), but we discussed Maddux having two friends over to do pretty much whatever she wanted. (This could have included the pool, the movies, dinner out, etc.) Maddux chose to stay at home for the entirety of it though. She was very specific in what she wanted: Papa John's pizza, nail painting, a craft, and a movie. Maddux also asked about party bags; this is not something we've done for parties in the past, which Maddux and I discussed. So she decided to make her own goodie bags for them including a bracelet, a ring, some stickers, a shrinkadink animal and lego first initials, plus she decorated the bag. Love her DIY-self!
The girls arrived just after 4PM and all three were playing up in Maddux's room for about an hour. Then we did one of the crafts Maddux chose (ceramic piggy banks that they got to paint and decorate). The pizzas arrived and Eli was a waiter to the girls with pizza and fruit. Maddux offered sparkling water to her friends (she and Eli love love love it), but no one else seemed to share her affinity (which shocked Maddux).
After the pizza, we turned on a few Just Dance youtube videos and it turned into an all-out dance party for about an hour. We followed that with cake and ice cream and the girls changing into their PJ's while I put Ruby to bed. Maddux chose to watch Rio, which all of the girls seemed to like (and Eli...he watched too).
We put the girls to bed on Maddux's floor in a giant sleeping bag, group pile of pillows and blankets. We told the girls they could stay up making bracelets (another craft), talking and playing as long as they stayed quiet. It was just before 10PM at this point. About a dozen trips into Maddux's room to remind them to keep the volume down later, it was 12:45PM and I shut the lights out. That seemed to do the trick :)
The next morning we had pancakes and eggs and bacon (Maddux's choice, of course), and the girls danced some more. We finished up with manicures...each of the girls picked different colored patterns and got all gussied up.
 Maddux and Lehr drove her friends home at noon, because that's another thing Maddux loves to do (ride in the car with friends). 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The Individual Medley

The IM. It is both older kids' favorite event. The madness that is 25yds (or meters) each of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. Most kids we know kind of dread it, but my two crazies love it. Lehr got a short video of each of their last swim meet IM swims.
Notice that Maddux is not wearing goggles...it should come as no surprise to everyone that she has misplaced them yet again. She crushed most of her events that night; imagine if she'd had her gear with her!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Ruby's Birthday

We got up at our usual time on the morning of Ruby's birthday (a Sunday), but stayed at the house to celebrate and do gifts instead of going to the early service. We figured the later service attendance would allow for more family time before Ruby's afternoon nap.
The kids were SO excited to give her their gift: a water table. We spent almost a full hour playing with it on the deck before leaving for church. Ruby could not have been more thrilled with her gift, and Eli and Maddux had a blast playing with it too.
While we had a huge gathering for Ruby's first birthday, this mama is not one to pull something like that off more than once every few years. Add to that, an already busy schedule for the the weekend of Ruby's second birthday led us to keeping things very low-key. We went to the pool after her nap and brought cupcakes for anyone who wanted to sing to the birthday girl.
We had been practicing blowing with pursed lips for a while and she mastered the skill just in time for the candles. She sat pretty intrigued while everyone sang to her and then she blew her two candles out. I opted to hold the cupcake for her instead of letting her at it...I was fairly certain she'd wear more of it than she would consume.
Ruby had a blast at the pool, as she always does. She worked so hard in the both the baby and big pool though that she wore herself out. Fairly soon after we did cupcakes, she snuggled up to Kelly and all but passed out.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Speech

We are cruising through the preliminary lessons with our new speech therapist! While Ruby is not necessarily saying any more words, she is moving her mouth in new ways and giving a few new sounds. Her biggest 'new thing' is her 'ooo' and 'ohhh'. She gives a great pursed lip position and will even say long and short o's. We also taught her to blow, as if blowing out a candle, just in time for her birthday. One day while practicing that, she actually whistled!
Today Ruby worked on all of the vowel sounds and added a consonant to them (both before and after). Nonsense words, but these are all building blocks. The therapist was so impressed with Ruby and kept commenting on how much she takes in during the session.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Swim Season

Seriously our favorite season every year. Even though the kids never opt to participate in year-round swimming, for 6-8 weeks every summer, they go into a swimming frenzy, soaking up every lesson, every stroke clinic, and every second of their pool time, instructional and otherwise
Both kids are in their 'younger' year of their age brackets, meaning they should be doing just 'ok' (based on previous seasons). However, they are both crushing their previous times! Eli always gets a little serious, practicing little things to shave seconds off here and there, but now Maddux has gotten into the spirit of competition too and she really seems to care.
One thing that has helped them so far has been friendly competition with someone else on the team. Eli loves going head-to-head with Drew (his BFF, lest you forget). While they both have strengths in different strokes, they still push each other in every event they swim in. Eli finished in front of Drew by about a hair last week and he practically jumped out of the water after he found out. And Maddux and Maggie have swam together for years (Maggie is AMAZINGLY fast) but this year, Maddux is really trying to beat her.
So far, it's all friendly, and it's working. Between Monday night and Wednesday night last week, both Eli and Maddux shaved seconds off of each of their times, even though Wednesday's meet did not have diving blocks (meaning their times should have been a little slower).

Here are my two fish at the meet last week. Notice Maddux leaving the blocks late EVERY time. She said she couldn't hear the horn at all. (Note, she still crushed her times, even with her 1+ second delay each event.)

Monday, June 01, 2015

Freedom by Bike

We've been taking the kids mountain biking since before I was pregnant with Ruby, and both kids have always had an interest in riding around in the street. Recently though, Eli has noticed a few kids his age riding bigger bikes with gears. As he's navigated the trails, and the hills in our neighborhood for that matter, he's started to realize the reason for those gears. A few weeks ago he started talking seriously about saving up for a mountain bike with gears. A few extra chores put him over the amount he may need (combined with his savings) to buy a used bike. Because Lehr is an awesome dad, he combed the Craig's List ads and found a few that would work. After one fall through, Eli found a seller that would let him come test drive.

Eli is in LOVE with his new bike. As he's now able to ride through the neighborhood with more ease, he wants to explore more. Our rule has always been just our street, but Eli worked hard over the weekend to earn some trust (and put in plenty of practice on the new bike), so he had his boundary extended a bit. He's gone on a few bike rides through the neighborhood with his friend, Drew, and he's gone on several solo ventures too. Eli always brings his walkie talkie (with me at the other end) and his watch. When he leaves for his ride, and when he comes home, he is absolutely beaming with excitement and pride. I think he is so impressed with himself that he can bike that far (physically) and that he's grown up enough to do it on his own.
Maddux is also in the new-bike club. Drew fixed up and gave Maddux his old bike, which is the perfect size for her. (Sidenote: he told his mom he wanted to give it to her because she (Maddux) always gives other people things and tries to make them happy. Love. Him.) Maddux has not quite earned enough trust to leave our street, but she is still enjoying the new found abilities she has with her geared bike.