Best weekend in a long time

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Riley and I spent Memorial Day weekend at my parents’ and it was good for my soul. Friday night, Momma, Riley and I went to visit Granma at the nursing home. I showed her some of Riley’s dance pictures and we had a nice chat. She’s doing pretty well.

When we got back to Town Creek, Daddy built a fire in the portable fireplace and Riley roasted “smarshmallows.” Or burned them. We sat around the fire and listened to Daddy talk about camping out under the stars when he was growing up, and about him and Momma fishing down at the creek when they were a new couple.

We also laughed about our camping gear when we were growing up. We had a shell on top of Daddy’s pickup and he created a makeshift bunk bed in the bed of the truck. My little brother Michael and I slept on twin mattresses on top of a plywood board anchored above the truckbed, and Momma and Daddy slept underneath on a mattress in the bed of the truck. It worked. And we always had fun.

Saturday, I got up early and went for a walk around the neighborhood before everyone else awoke. Then we spent the day at Jordan’s pool, celebrating his high school graduation. We ate BBQ, baked beans, pasta salad, buffalo dip, broccoli salad, corn on the cob, squash, and O’Charley’s rolls. And we swam. And laughed. And enjoyed being together to celebrate Jordan.

That evening, Momma, Riley and I went shopping at Target. And we stopped by Georgia’s on the way home, where they were putting a new liner in their pool. They finished up around 9:30 and we went inside and watched “A Dolphin Tale” (Riley loved it) until nearly midnight. I love days like that … no drama, no stress, just enjoying the company.

Sunday, Riley and I threw the softball and played volleyball, Daddy vacuumed out my truck, and Momma taught me and Riley how to play Rook. Momma and I beat Daddy and Riley. That was a lot of fun.

On the way home, I stopped by to see my best pal Kristi at her mom’s house. Her daughter just turned 21, so Riley and I had to swing by and wish her happy birthday.

After getting home and unloading all off our stuff, Riley’s dad came and picked her up. My friend Kim came over and we hung out on the patio until midnight, laughing, downloading music, and talking over a couple of beers.

I love my family and friends. They love me for who I am and who I’m not and what I can still be. They’re the best.

 

 

AV therapy, softball, dance, Bama basketball

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Since Riley’s therapy was cut back to every other week, we’ve been focusing on getting her to think about graduating from auditory-verbal. She has two goals right now:

1. Look at the person who’s talking
and the person you’re talking to.
2. Talk in complete sentences.

She’s doing pretty well with those two objectives, but I still have to prompt her occasionally.

Our therapist completed vocabulary testing last week and to everyone’s surprise Riley scored at or above her chronological age! We think it’s the first time she has hit or surpassed her “real” age and not her hearing age. She is on the right path.

We are working on synonyms and antonyms, idioms, context clues and inferences – important things heading into fourth grade next year. Riley is also supposed to be making notes of words she doesn’t know when comes across them in her reading.

Report cards come home Thursday, so that will tell the tale. Her weekly grades are mostly A’s and B’s, with a smattering of C’s and a D here and there. No more F’s, though. The lower grades seem to come whenever new material is introduced, which is why preteaching is so important. And, obviously, I haven’t been doing enough of that lately.

Also, her class is reviewing for state testing in math right now. Third-graders take the SAT (I think that’s the name), and I’m anxious to see how she does. Geometry, fractions and decimals have all been part of the curriculum this year.

Dance class is getting busier … she’s taking only acrobatics this year, but costumes are coming soon and picture day is in two weeks. Riley is good at acro; she’s almost got the back walkover and a one-hand cartwheel is a piece of cake. Next year, I’ll probably let her go back to taking two or three classes because dance is something she excels at.

Softball is starting next week; several practices have been rained out, so her team this year (all new to her except for two) will be rough around the edges. I will brag a bit about Riley, though. She is one of the fastest and has one of the strongest arms on the team. Her throwing is much improved.

The divorce was final last month, and I’m selling the house. I’m glad it is over, and we can move forward.

Oh, and, Roll Tide! Basketball season was fun, but I think the Tide got hosed by being left out of the NCAA Tournament. Winning the NIT would be nice, though. Go, Bama!

Good progress

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Some good news about Riley and her auditory-verbal therapy … our therapist cut us back to every other week instead of every week! After seven years of weekly sessions (give or take holidays and illnesses), it’s nice that she’s made so much progress that we can go less often.

Her expressive vocabulary is better, her sentences are better and her conversation skills are better. I think a lot has to do with her social life, too. She plays softball and dances and has lots of friends who treat her like a “normal” kid. Her teachers and coaches expect the same out of her as they do other kids. She has accommodations at school, but she’s still expected to do everything.

Riley’s teacher makes her use correct sentence structure even when she knows what Riley is trying to say. I do the same at home. Her coaches often ask her for clarification, too. Everyone is working together to get the best out of Riley, and it’s paying off.

Third-grade math is a bit of a struggle, but she’s catching on. Slowly. This carrying the one and taking away the one and multiplication is tough. She’ll get three or four problems right, then miss one or two. One thing I’ve done to help her is have her tell me how to solve the problem. We go column by column and she tells me what to do and what numbers to write. Then we check our work with the calculator. That works pretty well.

She has two projects to do over fall break: a book report and a multiplication model. She hasn’t picked her book yet, but she’s finished her model using candy to illustrate 2×9=18. That’s my girl! Anything hands-on she loves and will get cracking on it right away. She did the same with her “All About Me” poster at the beginning of school. Finished it the day it was assigned.

She makes my life beautiful.

Summer Breeze

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Summertime and the living is easy … mostly. Riley’s at day camp every day while Ryan and I work (this week she’s in Town Creek with my parents), we’ve been spending lost of time with friends, and we’ve spend lots of time at the softball field since she made all-stars. (We played two tournaments and didn’t do so hot, but the experience was so good for Riley’s confidence and her desire to win. But that’s another post.)

Anyway, these are the songs we’ve been listening to this summer–some old, some new. Riley enjoys most of them, but don’t worry, I keep the dirty words to myself. And I’m not including her HSM songs, because, really, when they’re playing year-round they don’t make the Summer Playlist.

Pardon Me–Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights

Baby, Baby–Justin Bieber

All I Do Is Win–DJ Khaled, et al

Baby Jane–Rod Stewart

Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight–Amos Lee

Not Afraid–Eminem

She’s a Bad Mama Jama–Carl Carlton

I Want A Love I Can See–The Temptations

Carryout–Timbaland, Justin Timberlake

The Ballad of Jayne–L.A. Guns

Your Love is My Drug–Ke$ha

Love Uncompromised–Jason Castro

We are the champions

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Riley’s team beat its nemesis of the last two years to win the tournament championship 8-4. Riley had two RBIs and scored once. Below, is the game in pictures, starting with me and my friend Melissa (our third baseman Kam’s mom) just before Ryan threw the first pitch.

Yeah, we know. We’re hot.

Riley is ready for some action.

Riley gets a hit …

That ended up as a “triple …”

And she scores!

“Would someone please hit it to me? I’m getting bored.”

Senators win! Yay!

Momma showing off her team spirit!

Gerald (Kam’s dad) and my daddy taking in the celebration

Riley and one of her best friends, Kam

Ryan and Riley & Gerald and Kam

Riley & Ryan, who pitched an awesome game

Random thoughts

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My fantastic friend This Belle Rocks awarded me with Gorgeous Blogger and Versatile Blogger awards. Sweet!

So in the spirit of following the rules, here are 7 random things about me:

1. I have a widow’s peak, so no blunt bangs for me.

2. Summer is my favorite season. I love hot weather.

3. When I was little I wanted to be a gymnast or a dancer.

4. I’m psyched that Riley loves both those things.

5. I have two crooked toes on my left foot.

6. I experience deja vu and a sort of ESP thing a lot. But I keep it quiet.

7. I’m addicted to Mountain Dew.

Tag! You’re it:

Val at Cochlear Kids

Nanette at Say it, don’t spray it

Mari at Mari’s Virtual Notebook

Football is for Girls

Meg at Exile on Main Street

I haven’t been around much lately because I’ve been busy with work, end-of-school activities, softball and dance recitals. I hope to get back to blogging more regularly. OK, that’s it. Gotta run!

Softball

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The first and third photos of Riley were taken by my friend Melissa; the middle one is mine with some effects done in Photoshop Mobile. We’re about to head to the field for a doubleheader. Go, Senators!

Right now, the girls are in second place, with four games to go. The tournament starts May 17, which is also one of Riley’s dress rehearsal days for dance. But that’s a whole different story.

No longer on duty

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Riley gets a hit and heads for first

After two years of being dugout mom for Riley’s softball team, I’m not this year. And it’s working out great! Riley is becoming more independent and taking more responsibility for herself.

I don’t have to worry about her getting her helmet or bat or glove or mask. Or getting her “skull wrap” on to keep her CI processors in place under her batting helmet. She does it all on her own. I can relax and watch the game instead of fussing to get her and the other girls ready to bat. Or hustle to get them back on the field for defense.

This year’s dugout/team mom is waaaay more organized than I am! She had the game schedule, snack duties, concession duties and picture day all set up before you could say “Go, Senators!” She’s doing a fantastic job.

The girls are 5-1, and they’ve been playing so well lately. Everyone’s hitting, and they’re making good, solid plays on defense. At times they have a tendency to throw the ball around, but that just comes from being 7- and 8-year-olds and getting a little too excited sometimes.

Ryan grooves a pitch to one of our hitters.

Riley makes the throw to first for the out.

Ryan is pitching this year, and he’s doing a good job. He’s learning where all the girls like to swing, and they are connecting. And crushing it.

Riley’s learned a lot about playing defense this year, and she’s getting comfortable in the outfield and at second base.

It’s a joy to see her having fun and learning and being physical. I hope her love of activity lasts a lifetime.

And my new job allows me to go to the games and hang out afterward, instead of rushing back to edit the newspaper. It’s awesome having a normal (well, relatively speaking) life now that I’m not working nights!

Playing ball when you’re deaf

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She's come a long way since she got her first glove in 2003.

Riley’s had two softball practices with another set for Saturday. She’s paying better attention this year, but we still need to figure out a better way to communicate than just yelling at her. It’s hard for anyone to hear a coach yelling from the dugout during a game and even harder when you’re hearing impaired. That’s one reason we’re considering an FM system … so she can hear easily whether she’s on the field, in the classroom or out in the backyard.

Another family offered to let Riley try out the system their children no longer use, so I think a phone call is in order. Of course, the system will have to be tweaked to complement Riley’s hearing and programs, but we should get started on this soon.

The first two practices were COLD – the poor girls were bundled up so tightly they could barely move! And you know how much it hurts when you swing the bat and don’t hit the ball solidly. Ouch!

She batted right-handed the first practice and did OK, but she switched back to being a lefty the second day and did even better. I’m going to let her decide how she’s most comfortable at the plate. Lefty or righty, it’s her choice.

The coach worked her out at second base and Riley did really well for her first time on the field since May. Several of the other girls played throughout the fall and are also playing on a travel team during the community season, too. They’re getting a lot more reps, but Riley will catch up.

I’m the dugout mom again – keeping the batting order; making sure helmets, batting gloves and bats are where they’re supposed to be; helping the catcher get dressed; bandaging any scrapes or strawberries; and yelling for mom or dad if I can’t help. Basically, several moms are tag-teaming to take care of everything from uniforms to snacks to picture day to concession duty.

Ryan might pitch, if he can work out his schedule so he can be there e

nough. It won’t be fair for him to start as the pitcher and have the girls get used to him then have to rotate someone else in.

We’re all ready for spring and softball and warm weather.

Fitness Fridays = Physical Fridays (Apolo Ohno still rocks)

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My brother and I are all smiles at the end of my first 5K. Riley was a big motivator at the end. Can I get back to that place?

I’ve got to start somewhere and right now that’s just doing some kind of physical activity each day.  With my surgeries, my dad’s emergency and long recovery, I never got on track with my fitness goals. So instead of making these grand plans to run/walk 5 times a week, etc., I’m going to just try to do something active every day.

This week I did laundry: loading, unloading and folding and putting away. Ryan usually does the laundry, but with the change in my schedule, I’m able to do more around the house. Last night, I danced (in high heels) as Harry Connick Jr. (more on that later) sang at the VBC Concert Hall. Tomorrow I’ll be at Riley’s softball practice, likely helping out by chasing down foul balls. Every little bit helps.

I’ve edited my big goals:

Do 10 real pushups
Wear my GAP boyfriend jeans (in my closet since 2007) smallest size Lane Bryant jeans
Do the Ribbon Run 5K in October Cotton Row 5K in May
Wear my cute workout tanks/shorts again
Get my calves back into my tall boots without spillage
Carry Riley to bed without giving myself a hernia
Fit into my Bama T-shirts this football by the end of softball season
Outrun 8- and 9-year-olds at softball practice next spring by the end of summer

So those are my big goals … today. They might change tomorrow or next week as I have more time to think about where I’m headed. I will also have to decide what steps I’ll take to meet these goals. Next week’s post will cover that.

The Olympics are winding down, and tonight we saw why Apolo Anton Ohno is one of the best short-track speedskaters in the world. He had to jump over one of two skaters who went down in the quarterfinals, and he avoided another spinout in the semifinals.

He won his eighth medal as he anchored the U.S. to a bronze in the team relay. He should’ve had nine, but a ticky-tack call by a Canadian judge disqualified him (he had the silver) in the 500-meter because he touched one of the Canadian skaters. However, a different Canadian skater put his hand on a Korean skater. Then the Korean skater touched that Canadian. But who was disqualified? Ohno, the skater who was in fourth place at the time. Judging is far too subjective in speedskating.

After that disappointing ruling, Ohno came back to skate an incredible race in the relay to pull the USA to the bronze after being fourth for most of the race. His heart and drive are incredible. There’s no quit in him. A good reminder as I start my fitness journey: If an obstacle slows you down, don’t quit. Make the leap and keep skating.