Sunday, March 27, 2011

If you build it, they will come!

Every year around this time I start thinking…what camps are the kids going to do this summer.  And we start looking and looking and while I could fill up both Betsie and Eli’s summer, there are not many choices for Anna Cate.  When she was in preschool things were so much easier, but now that she is in elementary school, many people do not want the responsibility of a child that requires “more” attention, even if she is going with Amy, who will give her everything she needs to feel just like any other little girl.

Last year, we did find one camp, vacation bible school, and while the girls had a fun time (I assume), I don’t think they truly enjoyed it, as when asked if they want to go back, there was not an answer, from both of them!

And while I try to “fill” their summers with camps, I have to keep asking myself, what is it that I want them to get out of their summer break.  The only thing I want my kids to have, is a fun summer filled with memories.  And they have the most fun when they are doing things that they love with their friends.

All I want is for Anna Cate to be just like any other nine year old girl and to have fun too!  I want her to be able to do as much as she can like her peers, even if some things have to be altered for her.  I want her to be able to participate not in a camp with other children, but a camp with her actual friends.  I want her to remember her summers of being filled with fun, not always work. 

So when I couldn’t find a camp that I thought would be the best fit for Anna Cate, I decided to start one in our neighborhood with the girls that she goes to school with every day.   And so….

Picture (Enhanced Metafile)                           
                     Where your friend is the girl next door
                          ‘Bella’, Italian for Friend                     
has been born! 
(Please forgive how the logo looks....couldn't get it right on is in pink and the tag line is below)

Camp Bella is an all girls mini day camp, for ages 6-10, which will be held during the summer for three sessions, two in July and one in August.

I sent out my first email to the girl’s friends who I would love to have as my campers last week and I was overwhelmed by the response!  Nine, out of the first ten, that I sent it to, have said yes!  And from word of mouth, I am finding out about other girls in our neighborhood who go to the same school that I did not know. 

It is a going to be a great summer!  I know my girls are going to have fun and that my campers will to.  I am most excited for Anna Cate that this has fallen into place like it has so she will get to experience summer with her friends, like the girl next door.  But more importantly, I am thrilled for the experience that all the girls will have and the true meaning of friendship that will come from this camp.  We all are unique and special in our own way and no matter how we were made; we all can be someone’s “bella”.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring is in the air!

I love the spring as it means summer is on the way!  But I do not like the allergies that come along with spring!  And I DO NOT like the cold weather that is coming this weekend.  What a tease we had last week!

Anna Cate loves the warm weather as she loves to be outside.  It doesn’t matter what she is doing; playing soccer, swimming, going for a walk, sitting on the porch listening to Jack Johnson, you name it, she just loves to be outside.  Spring is also a busy time for Anna Cate extracurricular wise….she will start hippotherapy on Tuesday (finally found a barn with both an indoor and outdoor ring), soccer starts this Saturday, and she swims on Fridays (luckily the pool is indoors until we switch to outdoors).  Seeing Anna Cate participate in all these sports makes her so happy and puts a huge smile on her face.  As it does mine and anyone who watches the joy that it brings to her!

Watching her grow year after year in these areas amazes me and makes me so proud of her.  She works so hard every day in school that sometimes I forget that while she is doing something fun and enjoying herself, it is also therapy/work.  Last year when she started soccer, she needed to be lead by someone holding her hand to dribble the ball down the field to score.  By the end of the season, she was dribbling BY HERSELF down to the goal!  This was not only thanks to the hard work of Anna Cate, but the repition of Will being her biggest fan out on the field!  Now when we play in the back yard, the child who ALWAYS wanted to go on the swings NOW wants to play soccer!!!!  And at school this new skill is HUGE!  She asks with her device if a child wants to play with her and then when they are playing she tells them to “kick it to me”!  And they have been “programmed” by Amy, not to kick the ball to Anna Cate unless she tells them with her “voice”!  It is so incredible to see her being able to PLAY with her peers!  And she LOVES it!  I can’t wait to see what soccer season is going to bring this year.  Go little Mia Hamm!

POOL!  POOL!  POOL!  This is what I hear from Anna Cate every Friday when I pick her up from school.  She would swim every day if we let her (and lucky for her in the summer she does!).  Since we have been doing aquatic therapy she has gone from drinking the pool water and just floating (so to speak), to now swimming “Anna Cate style” in her aqua jogger and will release her hands to use them to swim!  Getting her to “swim” like her peers on her stomach is the ultimate goal, even with the aqua jogger, and we are getting there!!!  This past Friday there was another child who was at the pool swimming and she and Anna Cate were the only two in the pool.  I did not talk to the mother, but I could tell from the child’s actions that she wanted to play with Anna Cate, but knew Anna Cate was different.  So what she did was start swimming on the side of Anna Cate across the pool with her up and back.  Something so little was HUGE for AC.  She loved having this interaction from a typical peer and it helped her swim!  I am always amazed at children and how they just “do” without question sometimes!  This little girl made me so proud that day!

I am very excited to see Anna Cate on a horse again on Tuesday as the last time she went to ride, she looked at the horse and said, “Go”!  She loves riding, especially when she gets to trot.  She loves for you to watch her when she goes trotting by.  For her the biggest challenge is not her posture on the horse, but holding onto the reins.  This girl has unbelievable upper body strength (wish my abs looked like hers!) and can ride around on a horse still wringing her hands!  Everyone caught onto this, so in order for the horse to “go”, she had to stop wringing and hold on….and she learned….slowly, but nonetheless, she got the idea.  It has been about 6 months since she was last on a horse, so I know there will be an adjustment phase; however, she is going to be so excited to get back on, that hopefully it will not last long.  And if it does, then it will be an easy mountain to climb!

There is nothing like seeing Anna Cate smile and hearing her laughter.  I will do whatever I have to, to make her happy even if it means driving her from one side of town to the other.  If she is happy, then I am happy!  

Friday, March 4, 2011

Recharging our batteries

We all need time....that is time with our significant other, time with our girlfriends and time for ourselves.  I need "me" time every day!  I am not going to lie.  Even if I have to hide in the pantry when the kids come home for 3 minutes or if I chose not to answer the phone when it rings at 11:30 because in 30 mins "my" time is up!  I need this to take a deep breath and move on.

I love my time with my girlfriends! Girls Night Out (GNO) is a must at least once, if not twice a month. This is when girls can be girls and vent and talk about what we need to, to make sure we are not crazy!  I think I would also count my "girlfriend" time, when I pick up the phone to call that one friend who I know would love a good story, or that friend to vent to, or that friend to ask for advice. I probably do this every other day. These friends are very important to me and I need to hear their voice often!  When I am having off days, these are the friends who give me the much needed laugh I need or the ones who understand me and my life.

There is also Girls Weekend Away, which usually happens once a year (or needs to happen once a year!).  We need to see our "girls" in person, talking over the phone, or emailing or sending messages via facebook is only good for so long!  Just like guys need their weekends away, we need our girls weekends too!

Every three-six months Will and I need to go away to get recharged to keep up with our daily lives.  Sometimes it is for long weekends and others only for one night.  Whatever the length of time, we need it! We love to go to tropical beaches, but when that trip isn't the chosen one, our second place we always love to visit is Charleston, SC.  Will and I just go back from a much needed long weekend away.

As I mentioned in my previous blogs, we have been sleep deprived (she is sleeping now....KNOCK ON WOOD) and thinking about tendon lengthening surgery for Anna Cate; but I did not write about Eli's tests for his large (and I mean this boy looks like he is pregnant!) stomach to see if he had Celiac (which thank God came back negative) and his x-ray of his stomach to come full circle to find that he is just like his father....full of ****!  What this kid produces every day, who would have thought!  And a visit to the allergist for him too, as he has been battling a 6 month runny nose, to find he has severe allergies to things in his environment with the worst being cats! Now all my kids have a confirmed allergy to them!  Eli's is the worst!   So cat dander from friends and family is extremely dangerous for him....allergy shots here we come!  

Then with one day left before we can relax, Anna Cate wakes up in the middle of the night with the stomach bug!  Really????  It was going to be my catch up and pack day on Wednesday!!!!  I guess that is what I get for waiting to the last minute!

Then VACATION day came......and as soon as we are in the car driving South we automatically feel relaxed knowing that for the next 3 days we don't have to worry about anyone else but ourselves!

When we go out for date night or away on vacation, we try really hard to make sure all the conversations are non-kid related!  This is really hard to do at first, but then you find all sorts of things to talk about.  I always find that I "think" I have told Will a story, when in fact I haven't and then can't believe how long it has taken me to tell him something, as there are many days that go by where we feel like we are two ships sailing in the night.  It was so nice to sleep in till 7:30 (my body can not sleep past this FANTASTIC hour, but it is better than the 5:30AM daily alarm at home!), and go out for a long walk holding hands and just taking in all the things we take for granted daily as we are living such a fast pace life.  The beautiful color of the sky, the birds, the outstanding weather, the sound of the water, Will's smile, laugh and kiss.

And then there are the sounds of things like the trash truck going by that reminded us of Eli as he is addicted to trash trucks, or the sound of dogs playing in a doggy park that reminded us of Anna Cate as she loves dogs (or as she says "puppy") or the sound of a popular song that is on the radio that Betsie sings all the time; which then makes us think of the kids while we are away from them.  Hearing these sounds that reminded us of our children, often got us laughing as we would always think of one funny story about each one.

Being away was a time for us to spend much needed time together when daily our alone time is usually only an hour or so depending on how much work Wally has to do that evening or if it is a bad night for Anna Cate  We enjoy not having a "schedule" when on vacation as we feel we live on a schedule at home.  We just go and do!  We love Charleston for this very reason as we never get back into our car until it is time to go home (unless we drive over to Sullivan's Island).  And it is a VERY good thing we do everything by foot, as we also eat our way through Charleston!  This place has some of the best restaurants ever!  If you ever get a chance to visit, make sure that you go to Amen Street, and order their calamari....I am telling you it is the best we have ever had!!!  Over our entire stay, we ordered it 5 times!  It was the perfect "thing" when we wanted a little something to eat!

Sometimes we like to go away by ourselves and other time we like to meet up with friends who we haven't seen in a while and who support us every day!  This trip we meet up with our great friends Anne and Scott from Charlotte (or from Iowa, depending on the day, right Anne!)  They have been friends of ours since Katie was 6 months old, so they have been there for us from the beginning!  It is always fun to meet friends on our long weekends away, as within our couples trip there is alway time for much needed "girl/guy" time too!  Will is great about the "shopping" when it is just the two of us, but quickly gives up the obligation when there is another person for me to go with!  This I think was the FIRST time I went away and truly wanted to relax and not shop (besides trying to find something for the kids).  I must have been EXHAUSTED as this is so unlike me!  And it is also fun for Will to have "guy" time even when we are on vacation together.  They need to talk to "guy" talk, just as much as we need to talk "girl" talk.  Anne and Scott, we had a blast!  Thanks for all the laughs!

Recharging our batteries is essential for us to keep giving it our 100% every day.  We are very lucky and extremely thankful that Mimi and Poppy were able to come stay with the kids so we could have some much needed R and R.  But not only is it important for us to regain some energy, it is also equally if not more important for Wally and I to have time together without the kids to remember behind three wonderful and exhausting children, there is husband and wife who need attention too!

Will, I thank you for a much needed long weekend away to relax and spend time with the love of my life! I love you!

P.S. When is the next trip?