Before we moved to Alaska my boys loved to watch American Ninja Warrior.  It may not have been their favorite, but they made sure they didn’t miss an episode.

When we finally moved into our new Alaskan home, that got taken away.  For an abundance of reasons we broke ties with Direct TV. (For those of you wondering, it was not that their service was unavailable where we lived, we simply felt that we no longer wanted the service.)

It just so happened, that while Chase was deployed, NBC picked up the show.  (We did pick up some bunny ears to watch TV by.)  The kids and I needed bonding time.  Plus, being able to watch this much enjoyed show added some normal back into their lives.  We had a standing date to watch ANW every Monday night during the summer of 2012.

Being ninjas became the dream of all three children.  The house and yard became ninja warrior courses.  My kids were literally climbing the walls, and I embraced the enthusiasm.  I’m pretty sure that my parents would not have allowed footprints on the door frames and finger prints on the ceiling, but I decided I wasn’t my parents.  Frankly, the kids were so cute and happy doing things that impressed my socks off that I didn’t even want to stop them.

American Ninja Warrior was now fully ingrained in my family culture.

In 2014, I finally decided it was long past time to get my kids involved in some sort of sport.  Knowing the popularity of ANW, I was hoping to find a parkour gym or ninja gym.  Unfortunately, I could not find one at that time, so I enrolled the boys in the next best thing-karate.  In the summer of 2015 I heard rumors of a ninja gym opening in Eagle River.  However, I did not hear these rumors until I had signed a second 12-month contract with the boys’ dojo.

I had forgotten about those rumors when in 2016 my husband and I went to a hear a pro-life speaker in Anchorage.  At the event I could not miss the tall, muscular, bald guy in the audience with us.  This tall man recognized my husband and approached him.  Lee informed us that he was the owner of a parkour gym in Eagle River.  He encouraged the whole family to come by.

When our contract with the dojo ran out we took the family to Pacific Rim Athletics.  The kids were enthralled-bars everywhere, a large tumbling floor, climbing walls, a trampoline, a foam pit, ninja obstacles, and finally a warped wall.  It was what my ninjas had dreamed of and more.  The weird thing was that Lee kept saying the whole family should sign up and take classes.  Not just the kids, not even Chase and the kids, but me too.

Let’s take a second to talk about me at this time.  I had a waist that made people ask the question “When are you due?”  I had not exercised for real in months due to injury.  I felt like the last person someone would want hanging out in their gym.  But as much as I tried to let Lee know it was okay if he didn’t mean me, if he didn’t feel as if I should work out there too, he kept insisting that I would benefit from the gym and that it would be fun.

I decided to put this crazy guy to the test.  I signed up five out of the six of us.  Rory was left out, being too young to listen well in a potentially dangerous environment.  I completely understand their policy of not enrolling children under the age of six.

My first class was tumbling parkour.  I had done gymnastics in the past, so I was familiar with most of the tumbling moves, but with twenty or so years between classes I wasn’t so sure that my body would be up to it.  But I tried.  I did a forward roll.  It was more of a forward flop, and I think I began doing lunges after my first flop.  However, all the moves reminded me of what I used to do, and the fun I used to have.  I kept showing up,  I kept trying, and at some point I could begin to do these crazy things. I could cartwheel and hang from a bar.  I was hooked and determined to get better.  I developed goals for myself.  By January, I would be strong enough to hold a backbend and do a skin-the-cat on the rings.

Suddenly, the Army decided what it wanted to do with my husband and we would be in a new state by January.  I would have to say good-bye to this gym and all the classes I had begun to take.  When we left I was taking Parkour/tumbling, ninja strength, aerial/circus arts, and the Saturday morning conditioning class.  I was stronger than ever and having the time of my life.

Not only was I getting a lot from this gym, most of the family were involved; we were doing this together.  Chase tried all the adult classes his schedule would let him attend.   Xavier excelled at tumbling, ninja strength, and breakdancing/power moves.   Austin went to tumbling and ninja strength classes with other kids his age.  Both boys were able to move up to level two in all of their disciplines.  Clara was amazing at circus art; she was growing in strength, flexibility, and confidence.

Suddenly, all of that was gone for all of us.  We had to leave Alaska, and there was no gym to replace what we had, at least not within a reasonable driving distance and/or with a reasonable schedule for me to shuttle myself and the kids to.

But I now had dreams.  Dreams of what all six of us could do with the chance.  And I did not want to let those dreams go.