Spring Break Love

There’s so much to say, but alas, Spring Break is almost over and I want the words to be just right. So, for now,  12 pictures = 12,000 words.

There’s so much to say, but alas, Spring Break is almost over and I want the words to be just right. So, for now,  12 pictures = 12,000 words.


Hey! You Climbed a Rock Wall!

When we went to Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, we spent a day at Carnegie Science Center and they have this awesome place next door called Highmark SportsWorks.  This place was made for Ian; he loves sports and he’s super competitive.

But what I want to write about is the unexpected lesson from my daughter.

My sweet, quiet, artsy MJ.

She’s always been the laid-back, low-key kid (except for three months of colic) and she balances Ian’s over-the-top enthusiasm well.

At times, you can see the excitement in her eyes, but typically, she is a quiet observer. She remembers details and images and has a knack for drawing, photography and writing.  She doesn’t talk much in class, but is a great student. She loves being in band and she loves her friends and family.

She is very much like me when I was younger.

But she is her own person too.

And she is also the girl who, unintentionally, has been in the background the past few months.  She has handled Ian’s diagnosis well and is always aware of his blood sugar and the rules. She knows about carb counting and she has a quietly protective (although she would never admit this).

Well, as we made our way through the exhibits, we come upon a rock wall. You know, the giant plastic rock attraction at sporting goods stores, Myrtle Beach, and amusement parks. Where you shell out extra money, maybe sign some sort of disclaimer, get strapped up in a harness and climb to the top to ring a bell.  And everyone stands around and watches you.

Yeah, one of those.

And MJ says, “Mom, can we do that?”

I chuckle, “WHAT?!?! Are you serious?”

Ian shoots down the idea quickly.”No way….I’m not doing that. I’m too little I bet.”  (He’s competitive, yes, but he has his limits.)

“Pleeeeeease mom. Let’s do it!”

And then I hear someone who sounds like me, but surely is not me, say, “Ok. Here, Ian, hold my phone. You can take pics of us when we get to the top.”

I look left. I look right.  I shake my head and although I make no sound, I hear myself yelling:

“Excuse me…what did you just say? We’re climbing a rock wall? MJ is climbing a rock wall? I’m climbing a rock wall?

Woah-woah-woah…wait one second. I’m sorry. I don’t do rock walls. Actually, I don’t do heights. I don’t do danger either.  I don’t do crazy things in front of a live audience. 

And I don’t let my kids do rock walls.  Like they would want to anyway!”

The next thing I know, a young guy in his early 20s is helping us pick out the right size of climbing shoes from a rack. Oh hey, I don’t do germs either!

Woah, what’s this…a harness? Ok then….This is supposedly going to keep me from plunging to my death while my 10-year-old catches it all on my iPhone? Please don’t let him #instavideo this!

While we are being fit with our harnesses, I appear calm and cool on the outside….because I am following MJ’s lead. She is as quiet as always and wide-eyed. She looks so small.

You can see the look of total disbelief on my face.

You can see the look of total disbelief on my face.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” I ask her.

She volunteers to go first. Hmmm….I guess so!

Listening carefully to the rules.

Listening carefully to the rules like a good student.

“Wait!! Is this safe?” I ask the guy who is explaining the “rules” (How hard can the rules be? There is only one rule, right?…Don’t die!)

“Totally safe…when I’m on duty,” he says over his shoulder.

Haha real funny.

And there she goes.  MJ is climbing. She is climbing a rock wall and she just keeps reaching and stepping and reaching and stepping.  Hey look everyone, that’s my kid up there! 

17 1/2 feet up!

She reaches 17 and a half feet, tries her hardest to reach a little bit higher, but that’s all she’s got.  Her arms are not long enough (and she later told me her hands were getting sweaty.)

She looks down at the other worker, a young woman who provides moral support (and climbs up to save you if you freak out), and says she is ready to go back down.

Don’t let go!!

And then my daughter is pushing off the wall and dropping down through the air, suspended by a rope and she lands on two feet….with a smile.

“Now you go! It’s fun!” she says.

And what do I do?

I am sure you can guess.

I climbed a rock wall.

I had to.

I made it 15 and a half feet and I then I looked down and then I wanted to be done.  So I pushed off the wall (although the cheerleader girl came up to save me)  and landed the same way MJ did…with two feet firmly on the ground and a smile on my face.

As we were taking off our harnesses and grungy shoes and gathering our belongings, I could hear only two things:

The first: Hey! You climbed a rock wall!

The second: “Next time we will go even higher, right Mom?”


“Well from now on I’m going to be
The kind of woman I’d want my daughter to be, oh
I’m gonna love myself more than anyone else
Believe in me, even if someone can’t see
A stronger woman in me”                                 ~ Jewel

On the Road Again

All summer, I have been feeling a lot of pressure to “take a vacation” like we do every year.

The last few years I have taken the kids either by myself, or with my parents, to the beach or Orlando. Last year was tops in their book. My boyfriend and I took all four kids to Myrtle Beach. It was the best vacation.

How do I top that when 1) my boyfriend and I are no longer together and 2) I am so apprehensive about traveling right now with Ian?

Considering we basically discovered Ian had diabetes while traveling over Christmas vacation, I just associated a whole lot of bad with traveling any distance.

And now I had to think about supplies and food and drinks and emergencies solo.  It was just too overwhelming and created a lot of anxiety for me.

I have done short little jaunts to Cleveland with my parents. We’ve been to the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame, an Indians game, and a Cavs game since Ian’s diagnosis.

But to take a trip, just me and the kids….

I wanted to do it. I really, really did. And at least half a dozen times, I would sit down with my laptop and look up possible destinations. (Only those within driving distance, it will be a long time until I want to fly again.)

I’d go as far as the button to confirm a hotel reservation and I’d chicken out.  I’d scrap the whole plan.

In fact, the first week of summer I did this very thing and ended up picking them up at their dad’s an hour later with a different plan when they immediately asked, “What are we gonna do this week? Are we going anywhere?”

I shared our itinerary in one big breath and with as much enthusiasm as I could, “Well, right now we are going grocery shopping and you can pick out some snacks! Tonight we will go to the park and play putt-putt!  Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain, so I thought we’d go to a movie. Wednesday and Thursday we can go to the lake (and you can take friends). Friday we are having a bonfire at Pa’s house! And Saturday…we are going to my cousin Kendyl’s graduation party.”

Well, my pitch worked.

Ian exclaims, “Yes!!!! This is the best week EV-ER!”

Ah, thank you, God, for letting my children love the little things in life.

The week ended up costing me under $30. (We didn’t go to the movie; I think we settled on the library instead.)

Honestly, we could have probably repeated that week five more times this summer and they’d have been ok with that.

But something kept pushing me to do more. Go further. Get away. The little voice in my head wouldn’t stop. “You can do this. You need to do this. Start small. Baby steps.”

So…on Saturday I said the words out loud to MJ…”Maybe we should go to Pittsburgh tomorrow? Go to IKEA? I don’t know. We could even stay overnight at a hotel…with a pool?”

I had her at “pool.”  Her eyes lit up.

Step 1 to being held accountable: Say something out loud in front of your teenage daughter.

From there, the wheels were set in motion.

As Ian played Wii in the other room, we talked about what time we could leave. What we could do. What we needed to pack.  We looked at hotels. I didn’t go as far as hitting the button to confirm a hotel reservation but I was knee-deep in the promise of a road trip.


Taken by Ian on my iPhone on the way out of town.

We may have only been gone one night, and only went an hour and a half away, but this may have been one of the best and most memorable of all our vacations.

In fact, it was so special and eventful, I am reserving 3 more blog posts about specific parts of the trip.

But I will tell you this: For me, this trip was huge. It showed me that I can do it.

I can plan, pack, drive, and survive a road trip with these two.

I am on the road again.