Sunday, April 2, 2017

First track meet of high school

Maria participated in her first high school track meet on Friday.  Her coaches wanted her to start with one race and build on that.  So, she did her 100m.   Last year we spent a lot of time with GLASA in Chicago getting training.  Friday, I picked Ella up and we drove about an hour away to the meet.  It was cold, but thankfully not too windy and no rain!  Ella was excited to see Maria race (she is really Maria's biggest fan).
We sat on the cold metal bleachers and watched Maria warm up on the other side of the track.  Ella was beside me cheering "Go Maria, Go!"  Even from where I was, I could tell her form wasn't correct.  Since her coaches don't have a lot of experience with wheelchair racers, I ended up on the end of the track helping her get into the correct position.  The upper classmen (with a boot on her foot) thanked me for the little training I did with her.  Since Maria was in a better position, Ella and I went out to watch her race.  She did great.  A really decent time for her (I'm thinking weightlifting for PE has helped build her arms up more).  She did amazing at keeping all 3 wheels in the lane with one of the back wheels just touching the inside of the white line.  Her time was 10 seconds faster than she has done in practice.
She was quite proud of herself too.  And I think she is more motivated to go faster......I'm trying to help her and give her motivation.  We will be having track meets twice weekly through April.....hopefully I will have the time and energy to update everyone on her progress.  The goal is for her to get as close to 20 seconds as possible on the 100m.....although it might take all of high school to get there (hopefully not).

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A year

I can't believe it has been a year since I did a blog post.  Life got busy.  Life got hard.....really hard.  Since last March:
Maria has been home 4 years (it will be 5 years in June)
Maria finished middle school
Maria got her permit to drive
We made many trips to Chicago for track events
Maria got to race against other wheelchair users (a first, although not easy situation)
Maria went to wheelchair basketball camp and loved it (I cried leaving her there)
We visited our friends in Ohio and Maria reunited with more friends from her orphanage
We went to see a drive in movie (Finding Dory)
Ella is potty trained (except at night)
Ella has been home one year
Ella turned 4!
Maria started high school!
Ella started a new daycare/preschool
Maria ended up in the hospital and missed homecoming (thankfully no surgeries)
Ella had to stay with my friends and now is in love with my friend's husband
My mom moved into her new duplex with my grandparents next door
Ella went trick or treating as a minion and loved it
My mom, brother and I got to be with my dad when he passed away on Election Day
Organizing a funeral isn't fun at all
Being excutor of an estate isn't fun either
Surprise sweet 16 birthday party for Maria
Maria began basketball with her school team (practice at least)
We celebrated Christmas with was hard without my dad
I got in a car accident and totaled my car (not fun at all)
Got a new used car 
Maria started track
Maria had her driver's evaluation and got to drive (planning on drivers ed this summer)
Looking for a bigger house 
Ella is learning so much at daycare/preschool
We went on spring break in St. Louis
That has pretty much been our year.....lots has happened that I have forgotten I'm sure.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Busy month for us!
Maria got her driver's permit!  She and I have an agreement that she will take driver's education prior to graduating from high school. She is rather nervous about driving and getting into an accident.  Which I'm glad she is concerned verses thinking it won't happen to her.  One of my plans this summer is to look into what kind of hand controls will be the best for her and to slowly get her behind the wheel and start some car basics.  

We also are gearing up for track season which starts next week!  Personally I'm not ready for the track meets, but I'm excited to see how Maria does this year.  I have a feeling Ella will get a kick out of watching Maria too.

The other weekend we ended up meeting up with some friends a few hours away for the weekend.  They were in the state for a robotics competition and we took advantage of spending time together.  At one point I was in charge of 5 kids.  We ended up having fun and playing in the pool at the hotel.  This was the first time Ella has really gotten to spend time with these friends.  She was very hesitant at first and did a lot of crying when they first approached her.  Fairly quickly she warmed up to them, especially their almost 8 yr old son who requested hugs and kisses from her all weekend.  He said she was his "angel from candy heaven" and a "marshmallow with caramel on it".  She also likes their older daughter who is 13.  We spent the last night avoiding the rather loud crazy wedding party in the hall, while the kids turned off all the lights and had a major glow stick party of their own.  I'm not sure who had more fun, but Ella was right in the thick of it yelling whenever someone opened the bathroom door.  They all had lots and lots of fun.  

We are finishing up spring break too.  A pretty quiet weekend at home.  We did a have a full day with specialist.  The good news is Maria doesn't need to see Ortho or neuro surgery for 1-2 years!  Ortho was happy with how Ella was doing, but also said she will need a new AFO soon because when hers was made, it was harder to keep her foot in the neutral position.  She also gets to wear her AFO to bed at far she isn't objecting much to this.  I did get to talk with neuro about her shunt some and I hope she will be able to use the same neuro surgeon that Maria has had.  

Maria also got to do some climbing this week.  She loves climbing and it is a place that is very accepting of others.  It isn't unusual for others who are climbing to come up and talk to Maria and her friend like equals.  In fact this time, Maria was waiting for the rigging to go up for the equipment she normally uses.  She was watching some climbers climb on the wall and asked if I thought she could do that.  I said I wasn't sure, but to ask the gal in charge if she could try.  Well, the said yes and made a path 7-8 feet high with lots of hand holds.  Maria had maybe two spots where she needed help, but was doing the rest of it herself (with breaks of course).  

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Track clinic

We did a whirlwind less than 24 hours in Chicago this weekend.  It was exhausting.....too many hours in the car for all of us.  We ended up getting to the Chicago suburbs around 9:30 Friday after a full day of school, work and daycare.  We went straight to bed and woke up at 7am.  Had breakfast at the hotel and checked out.  Then drove to Lake Forest for GLASA's track clinic.  One of the things about racing chairs is pushes and strokes.....something to learn on top of making sure you are positioned correctly.  I know Maria needs some help with positioning, which I think we have figured out this weekend.  Most wheelchair track athletes actually are positioned with their legs directly beneath them...Maria can't do this due to one of her legs only being able to bend as far as 90 degrees.  So she has to sit in the chair.  She was able to try out a roller, which was neat for me to see......Ella liked it too, however she got in trouble for pushing Maria's wheel while Maria was in the chair, which made Maria and the chair drift off the roller.  Thankfully I was right there to catch Maria and the chair.....Ella learned not to touch the wheels during workouts.  

We ended up finding out that for Maria to really be in the correct position she needs an additional strap for her back too.....but this is something that would be beneficial for other racers too.  

After getting done at the track clinic we went to the Bulgarian grocery store in Des Plaines to pick up some goodies.  The girls were thrilled with the treats.  Maria was excited that they also had Martenitsas for Baba Marta Day too.  

After that we stopped by a friend's home quickly to drop something off and then we're on the road again.  We finally got home around 8pm.  It was a long trip, but worth it.  On a happy note Ella did much better on the longer car ride than I expected!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Maria continues to do very well at school.  She is excited about archery and continues to make improvements.  She is also getting ready for the upcoming track season.  In fact this weekend we are going to a clinic to work on strokes and pushes....completely a wheelie thing.  Maria got to go skiing recently.  She did well with it and had a lot of fun getting to experience this sport again.  Maria has really grabbed onto sports and loves the accomplishments she gets from her experiences with them.  She continues to really favor climbing right now.  

It is hard to believe that in a few short months Maria will be done with middle school and moving onto high school.  She has been studying hard for her driver's permit test (which slightly scares me, but she also needs to do for herself).  It is so hard to believe she is the same quite girl I brought home close to 4 years ago.  She is growing into a lovely young lady.....I just hope and pray she continues to have the successes she has already seen.  I know how hard change can be for her and this mom does worry about the changes coming in the next few months and years.

New KAFO finally!
Skiing with the amazing LT as an instructor!
Balance is extremely important!
Archery competition.....almost done with the season!

Almost 6 months home

Friday will mark Ella being home for 6 months.  Wow, it has been a busy p, crazy 6 months.  Life with a toddler is more than I expected in some ways and not in other ways.  Ella is growing....she has grown to 33 inches tall and is now 22 pounds.  She loves to talk and exert her opinions and wants.  Usually these are in 2-3 word phrases.....sometimes she will use more words.  She loves daycare/preschool!  She is always happy and excited when I pick her up.  She is even starting to participate during circle time answering questions correctly!  She identifies her name and a few other letters.

One of the biggest things to me was when she started actually cuddling with her dolly at bed time!  When Ella first came home she would throw everything out of her bed.  She didn't want any comfort items or even a blanket.  Slowly she began requesting more item and now closely hugs her dolly to her while she is falling asleep.  It is quite cute to see.  We have struggled on and off with sleep.....Ella tends to scream and cry while in bed.  I have wondered if it was growing pains, muscle spasms, and nightmares......nothing really worked.  Due to the lack of sleep we made the change that Ella's bed is now set up in a different room of the house.  This is working better for all of us.  She is sleeping better and not waking up crying and we are getting the much needed sleep we need too.  

Ella continues to be very attached to the whole family!  She seeks out cuddling time with me.  Frequently requests Maria to pick her up and hold her.  Loves her time with grandma, seriously she is becoming quite the grandma's girl.  She also is learning how much fun her cousin Kru is.  She finds him to be very funny and he loves making her giggle.  And oh does she giggle!

Ella pretty much will eat anything.  She continues to love all soups and pastas.  Oh and if she asks for "mms" she is wanting M&Ms.  She is a good eater, but likes to eat slowly and I have learned I have to make her eat specific things (usually protein) first.  

I'm so proud of the changes and ways that Ella has come out of her shell.  I frequently get comments on how cute she is and how well behaved (so glad she knows when to behave).  We love Ella so much....even when she cries.

Our first family picture last year on trip one....Obviously Ella wasn't as sure about this whole family thing as we were.
Ella and her dolly
Playing at grandma's house
Hanging out while Maria was skiing
Frequently she requests that we brush her hair