4th Birthday Photo Session

4th Birthday Photo Session

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Magical Mermaid

Recently, we bought a house.  When shopping for a house, we had one thing on our 'wish-list' for this house - and that was a pool.  In the south, it's hot much longer than between Memorial Day and Labor Day - so while the usual neighborhood pools are shutting down, we will still be able to utilize ours.  With this pool, came the 'must-do' that has been on our list for years -- teach Andi how to swim.  While she's had group lessons with an aide... which isolated her from the group, and one on one lessons at the neighborhood pool -- which often distracted her.  This time, we were insistent that she gets one on one swimming lessons in our own backyard, and we don't care what they cost.  (Actually, we do care, but... now we'd pay even more.)

Enter Gene.  Gene is an extremely special man.  He was in the Marines for 30+ years, and now teaches kids, especially special needs kids, how to swim.  It's his speciality, "to give them the magic."  He has this way of lighting up the room or backyard with his enthusiastic energy.  He captivates Andi with his stories, his encouragement, and his instruction.  This man is simply awesome, and Andi professed her love to him on the very first day.  She often does her excited clapping while listening to him speak.  She's concentrating, listening, and so excited to get going she simply can't sit still. 

The first lesson was really just an assessment.  Get to know Andi, let her get to know him, see where her skill set level is, and what her strengths and weaknesses are.  This collection of data enables  him to build her lesson plan, tailored to challenge her and turn her into a magical mermaid.

He comes 3 times a week, and that's mainly to guarantee that she will be a swimmer.  Andi really looks forward to her sessions, and they are definitely paying off.  Gene promises these lessons are going to strengthen her legs and her arms, considerably.  For a kid with low tone, and taking a break from physical therapy, gymnastics and ballet -- this is huge.  

Two weeks ago, Andi would not put her head in the water.  The only thing I've ever seen her do is blow bubbles in the water, and even that required encouragement.  During her assessment, her first "lesson" if you will, Gene had her putting her head under the water.  No joke.  I didn't put her ear plugs in though, as for that first lesson, I wanted her to really be able to hear him.  Boy, was that a mistake.  The water got trapped in her good ear, behind the ear tube keeping the ear open. She had to do wall stands (feet up on the wall, a supported handstand if you will), and shake her head to get the water to drain through the ear tube.  Apparently, she was rather uncomfortable until the water released from the ear.  I felt bad.  But now, she's wearing her ear plugs, and she's kicking butt on her lessons.  It seems she can actually hear him through the ear plugs too, which helps. I'm sure all the neighbors can hear too - but oh well.  The other day, he had her floating face-down in the pool while he counted 1-2-3-4... as she held her breathe.  It was totally amazing.  We couldn't believe it.  It makes me excited for each and every lesson so I can see what she's going to do next.  This is by far, the best money we've spent in a long, long time.  Even better than buying the house with the pool, is meeting "Gene, Gene the swimming lesson machine!"  *insert hearts of gratitude here!*

My assessment day ... first time putting my head underwater!

Practicing, by looking at the mat with all the ocean friends on it.  My favorite is the turtle.

Face down floating, looking at the mat with my turtle on the ground

We couldn't be more thrilled by the quick progress that Andi is making with her swimming lessons.  We also couldn't be more grateful to score this amazing instructor, Gene. I failed to mention that Gene also wears bilateral hearing aids and is fluent in sign language.  I mean, this guy is simply a gift. He promises, it won't be long until Andi is transformed into a magical mermaid.  The way things are going, I believe it.

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