Saturday, June 28, 2014

Another new skill

I knew as soon as I got in the pool that today would be the day Kate learned to float on her back. I knew because when she decides to master something, she will do it over and over and over and over until she can do it. And today she would not do anything other than try to float on her back. I kept hearing, "AGAIN!", every time she would start to sink and I would catch her. And then she just got it!
Kate learned to back float from Lisa on Vimeo.

On another note: Lucy has not let her broken arm keep her from swimming or trying to float. She is not still enough, though, to have the patience for back floating as you can tell from the video.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Yet another glorious day!

I think we have hit our groove with this summer vacation thing. The keys are:

1. No absolute deadline to be on time anywhere.
2. A good mix of outdoor activity combined with food, water and clean bathrooms.
3. Knowing when everyone is about to hit the wall so you can either take a break or head for home.

Today was another repeat of yesterday for the most part. We did need to be at Len's office around lunchtime in order to sign and notarize our wills, living wills, etc. but otherwise the day was free. The girls and I caught the commuter train around 11 for the 15 minute ride into the city.
A couple of Len's coworkers and a notary watched us sign our paperwork, they did the same and soon enough it was time for lunch. A few more of Len's coworkers stopped by as we were eating much to the girls' delight and then it was time for him to get back to work. We decided to take the water taxi down to Chinatown since A. the water taxi pickup was just a block away and B. Kate has been asking for some workbooks to do over the summer break. She specifically wanted math and if it was in both Chinese and English that would be best. Not that she's particular or anything.

So off we went down the Chicago River for the 20 minute ride to Chinatown.

It was about a 5-10 minute walk from the river to the shops. We stopped for bubble tea since we were all thirsty.
Lychee fruit for the girls, mango for mama!
We then headed off to the bookstore to see what we could find. Once the shopkeeper heard Kate and Lucy counting in Chinese and I said a few things in Chinese as well, I think she thought we were more fluent than we were and she started speaking only in Chinese to us! I told her we were all learning so just knew a little. I told her what I was looking for and she recommended these workbooks for children.
It comes with a cd of songs that are in the book as well. The only thing that made them better were the stickers in the back. Sold! As we were leaving, the lady said "Thank you for coming in and hope to see you again" in Chinese and, without missing a beat, Kate responded to her (also in Chinese), "You're welcome. Bye!"

We got to the dock about 10 minutes early so the girls played around under the pagoda and on the rocks for a bit.

Back on the taxi we headed towards the city.
We decided to take the taxi up to Michigan Ave but we had to switch to a larger boat. Lucy was not thrilled with the louder horn.
The Boeing building.

The clouds were in and out all day, bringing at least a 5-10 degree drop in air temperature each time the clouds misted in from the lake and covered the buildings.

We got back in time to walk for a bit down the riverfront, wave at the tour boats and use the bathrooms back in Len's building while we waited for Len to get off work.

Back on the train!
 Kate showing off the 2 nickels she found.
We rounded out the evening with takeout Vietnamese food and cuddling on the couch before the bedtime routine. I'm beat and headed for the bath myself. These are the days that I wish I were 20 years younger...my feet hurt!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A glorious day

This was the kind of day that all moms dream about when they think about having children. Everyone wakes up happy, they eat breakfast without melting down about the food choices, they get dressed without changing even one outfit, the walk to the car is not fraught with who is walking faster, who will open the door first, who will have mama buckle them in first. And it continued thusly, no tantrums, no drama, no disparaging comments about what I packed for lunch or fixed for supper. No tears over who got into the tub first, what color floss sticks were available, which books were chosen by the other, what jammies to wear, who got mama first for kisses and songs. It has been heavenly.

The bulk of our day was spent on Navy Pier. We had gift certificates from Ms. Julie from Christmas for build-a-bear that I had been saving for a summer adventure. They get so many toys at Christmas and then their birthdays bookend the holiday on top of that so I was happy to have something to whip out as a surprise. They were thrilled that Ms. Julie had given them the cards (and actually remembered receiving them in December!) and Lucy already had an idea for which stuffed animal she wanted. She marched right in and picked out the purple flying unicorn and never looked back. Kate dithered about for about 5 minutes before finally settling on a pink kitty. Shocker.

Next up was picking out a heart for their animal and doing a little routine with it to give it magical powers.
Make a wish...
and stuff it in.
Fill it up.

 Happy girls.
After a snack we headed to the Children's Museum to run off some energy. Kate wanted to tackle the tall climbing...thingy. (not really sure what to call this...). I was skeptical as the last time she attempted to climb something similar it resulted in a complete and utter meltdown that lasted well into bedtime.
 Maybe because her sister was out of competition due to her broken arm she felt more confident. Either way, the results were decidedly opposite of that day in April. She needed a bit of instruction from the staff but she methodically and diligently found foot and handholds and made her way up more than one flight of stairs.

There wasn't a whole lot that Lucy could do at first as the places they've been in the Museum require two functional arms.
Oddly, the place we spent the most time was in the woodshop. Kate set about gluing the bejeezus out of everything while Lucy and I sawed (and sawed and sawed) blocks of wood held in a vise (you can just see the vise right behind Kate).

Lunch was followed by a ride on the carousel and the Ferris wheel before heading home.

Alas, it was a very foggy day in Chicago as you can see. Yes, that is the famed Chicago skyline completely engulfed in clouds.

As Kate said at supper tonight, "It was a wonderful day for the three (our last name) girls!"

Monday, June 23, 2014

Not exactly waterproof....

This weekend we put on a product "guaranteed" to keep Lucy's cast dry. It worked well on Saturday although the sock we put on underneath as advised, was a bit damp at the top near the seam.

That child swam with one arm weighed down with a cast and giant rubber condom. She never fails to amaze me with her determination and good humor.
Sunday we decided to hit the pool again since we had had success the day before.
The girls raced each other back and forth and Lucy was still faster.

At some point, I heard a small hissing sound and I noticed that her condom was not looking as it should. Of course she was completely submerged in the pool. It looked like the suction where it was supposed to be tight around her arm had lost its hold. We tried a few times to re-suction it but could never get it back to the original pressure. When we took it off her cast was totally soaked. We spent a good deal of time with the blowdryer but by this morning it was obvious that we needed another visit to the doctor.

We got in to see Sam, the guy who put on her pink cast last time. Lucy was happy to see him because, "He's funny mommy. He makes me laugh!"
 The cotton lining was soaked through and her skin looked waterlogged.
She held onto her arm as they did another xray to be sure it was still all aligned before and after applying WATERPROOF cast material! Hallelujah!
The same orthopaedist who set her arm in the emergency room was on call today and remembered us. She said this shouldn't set us back on the timeline for full removal of the cast. Whew! She did say though, that her arm probably will not look completely straight for up to a year. From the side it will look fine but looking straight down at it, her forearm will probably have a slight curve as the bones continue to grow. You can see the slight bump just below her wrist in the photo above.
Lucy got to choose yet another color and this time it was orange.
She had to keep her arm up while it set for 15 minutes. Kate held her free hand and kept an eye on the clock, informing us of EVERY.SINGLE.MINUTE as the secondhand ticked round.
Back home, it was time to christen the new cast.
So some things will be easier, namely all things having to do with water. Some things are harder as we absolutely have to get the cast wet every day and rinse water through it to keep her skin clean. Then it must dry for at least an hour before bedtime which means rearranging our nighttime routine. Still no sand and now no wood chips which knocks out a few more parks. We can only get it wet in the pool for 30 minutes at a time so that should be an interesting adventure getting them out of the pool after such a short time. The cast is much lighter and her fingers have more room to move which has made her a very happy girl indeed.

I'm ready for a non-exciting week. Or two. Please.


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