AJ, Fruits

I’m Most Proud of You When You Fail.

Tonight I watched you stand out on that diving board, so tall and proud.  You have worked so hard for this all season, conquering all the fears you had of having all eyes on you as you dive.  I watched you take a deep breath and launch yourself backward, twisting in the air in a way I can’t even comprehend, and landing gracefully in the water.

You’re ultra-competitive.  There isn’t a sport in the world that you aren’t good at.  And even when we’re bowling, you turn it into a competition.  Not in a mean way, just in a way that makes it all a little more fun.    You’re the life of the party.  People love playing games with you.  You’re focused, and you’re fierce out there, no matter where there is.

You went to this dive meet today to win.  I knew that.  I waited for them to call your name, and then I rose from my chair in the upper deck to get a better view.  You dove four rounds, each time as you put your toes to the end of that white platform, I held my breath.  I didn’t exhale again until those scores were read.  “Okay, fives and sixes.  That’s good.  That’s solid.”  Then, I went back to my chair, burying my head until the next round.

When the preliminaries were done, I waited again as they called your name.  Then I went down to the deck to find you.  You were warming up again, another round, this one the finals.  I could see by the look on your face you were fiercely determined to rise in those ranks as well.  I bit my lip and returned to the observation deck.

You walked out onto that board, toes to the edge one more time.  I watched you bounce, arch backwards, and land flat on your back in the water.

No scores this time.

“Good try, AJ.”

You had failed the dive completely.  50% of your final score would now be zero.  There’s no way you would come in anything other than 16th now.

Last place in the finals that you had hoped to somehow earn a medal in.

I saw you as you got out of the water.  Shoulders slumped, but face stoic.  I wanted to run down to the deck and hug you, because I know that stoic face so well.  It hides pain.  But, your far more appropriate brother got to you first.  He clapped you on the back.

He must have said something comforting, but encouraging, all at once.  We’re not sure which one of you is older for absolute certain, but you are larger, you always have been.  In that moment though, you looked small next to him.  He was propping you up the way I dreamed of having a sibling do for me.  In a way they never did.  I saw you nod, take your towel, wipe your face and wait.

They called your name one more time.

This time the observation deck went silent.  Please, I pleaded.

Again, I inhaled sharply.

5. 5. 6. 6.5. 6.

You had done it.  You had been brave enough to walk back up there in front of everyone, after a colossal mistake, stand there proudly, and tried again.

I am more proud of you for that than for anything else.

I met you on the pool deck again.  You bit your lip hard.  I said all the things I could think of to make you feel better.  I told stories of my own failures.  I told you it was okay that, just with me, you could cry and that I wouldn’t think you were weak.  Ever.  Because, tonight, you are the bravest boy I know.

And so, you did just that.

You never would have done that two years ago.  You would have waited until I tucked you in the bed, turned the light off, and then you would have cried in the dark, all alone.  This time, you hugged me and cried into the front of my shirt, the way every boy does when their heart breaks over a perceived failure.

You’re not failing at all though, AJ.

You’re winning in all the best kinds of ways.

We dried your eyes, and when they called your name you took your place in the 16th space and took your ribbon with a smile and a polite ‘thank you.’

–FullPlateMom, who is most proud of her kids when they brush themselves off, but show her their tears and fears too.  We work so hard for that.

Bowen, Fruits

Bowen’s First Swim Meet!

Bowen has been working at one thing, very hard, all summer.  He wanted to swim one length of our pool.  If he could do this, he could swim in his first official swim meet.  Bowen has participated in competitions through the DAAA in the past, but he was dying to become part of our local swim club’s swim team this year.  So, we put him on Little Dolphins, the junior portion of our local swim team.

He worked so hard.  His body mechanics made it really hard for him to learn to swim.  His torso is average sized, his arms and legs are short, and his head is actually larger than average.  This makes for the need to compensate in the water in ways that don’t fit with how children are typically taught to swim.  His swim teachers let him compensate.  He does a modified frog kick and front crawl with a dog paddle to breathe.  It’s not as efficient as it could be, and we’re sure it’s not legal, but that’s what God made ‘freestyle’ for.

Bowen has been struggling lately.  He wants SO badly to be “normal.”  Oh, Bo.  We’re so far from normal.  SO far.  You’re one of eleven loud, raucous and conspicuous children.  We spend our days being stared at.  At any given moment someone in our house is naked (God willing, someone under the age of 5).  Someone is always dancing (hopefully NOT the naked one).  We now speak nearly completely with our hands.  And, we are usually a hot damn mess.

We’re never going to be normal.


But, we love you.  And, we’ll always be there cheering for you.

Bowen in the Clerk of Course

As you paddle your way down the pool.

Bowen swimming!

Even when it’s beastly hot outside.

Gigi in the heat

We’ll always be there.

If you have 90 seconds of your life to spare, you can hear the cheering for yourself right here.  We love our community pool.  If you are local to us, you won’t find a more inclusive setting for your kids to learn to swim.  They welcome, and protect, all children, and I mean ALL children.

You’ll have to excuse the videography, 12-year-old boys are easily distracted.

You’ll also notice that my photos are watermarked.  They’ve been ending up in odd places again, including in spaces on Twitter that promote hate of children with brown skin and physical differences.  These photos are my property.  I hate to get heavy handed about it, but my photos are marked now, and my photography business is incorporated.  So, if you steal these photos and post them anywhere without my permission, I will sue you.

Don’t mess with this mama’s babies.

I’m not going to stop speaking because you have a heart full of hate.  My family is going to continue living our lives.  We are proud of who we are.

–FullPlateMom, who can’t wait to see what Bowen does next.



Broken heart, Fruits, Tess

Our Own Physical Therapy

We are now one year past Tess’s big heart surgery.  So much joy in that!  She is still working hard to catch up on some of the milestones she missed because she was so sick for so long.  Tess is still behind in gross motor development.  She is 5 years old and her balance is still effected by being bedridden for so long.  Her body can’t do what other kids’s do without some major effort.  Her movements are jerky and uncoordinated.  She can’t come close to skipping.  We only just mastered galloping.

She doesn’t qualify for Physical Therapy anymore, not through school or our insurance.  She can function, yes, but we’re looking for more than that.  So, we had to do something else.

You’ve heard about Tess’s love of yoga (or ‘yuga’ as she called it for so long).  This has helped her immensely, and continues to help her.  In fact, her goal is to teach it to other kids.  I have a GREAT post about that coming up.

Tess also takes ballet.  Ballet of the Storybook variety.  It is SUCH a fun class, and so much of what is done overlaps with what yuga has to offer her.  They work on core strength and posture.  They work on control of movements, and, because the teacher is lovely, she works on breathing with the kids.


DSC_0257And at the end of every session there’s a recital.  This time the kids put on Sleeping Beauty for us!



DSC_0289It really couldn’t have been any more adorable.

–FullPlateMom, who loves to see her girls find their inner strength.


Bowen, Fruits, Tess

Two Pumpkins At The Patch

On Wednesday I was lucky enough to get to go and visit two separate pumpkin patches with these two little pumpkins. Prior to this, I wasn’t able to do these kinds of things very often.  I was usually the one at work.  Joe and I have traded off participating in these kinds of activities, so the kids always had someone.  I’m glad it gets to be me this time.

Pumpkin Patch-1

Pumpkin Patch-2

Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch-3

Pumpkin Patch-4–FullPlateMom, who is in the mood to carve a pumpkin or two.

Bowen, Fruits

His Turn.

All year long, this boy sits at soccer games, swim meets and dance recitals.  Today, it was his turn.

First up, track and field.  He was nervous as he stepped up to that 15 meter line.  Yes, 15 meters.  He’s 5 years old and has an 11 inch inseam, 15 meters is quite the race.

DAA 2015-4He had the largest cheering section in the land in the stands waiting for him to start.

DAA 2015-5He won.  He ran as hard as he could and then fell across the finish line.  He won though.  And, oh my gosh, the kids went WILD.  They were so excited to see him win something.

It was his turn.

After that, it was on to the discus (frisbee) throw, and then the shot-put (tennis ball) throw.

DAA 2015-3Then in the afternoon, it was time for swimming.  He was nervous here too.

DAA 2015-1He listened so carefully to the instructions.

DAA 2015-2And then, he was off like a rocket.  Joe swam along with him, and he is allowed to use a kick board.  He did GREAT.

DAA 2015We’re waiting for those results to come in, but it doesn’t really matter.

We were all there to cheer him on, in his moment.  He is so very proud.

DAA 2015-6–FullPlateMom, who is so very proud too.