Aidan at Beach

Aidan at Beach

Monday, April 29, 2013


In the morning, I usually check my phone for text and email messages when I first get up.  I don't respond to anything right away, but I usually do check.  Last Friday morning, I was tagged in a Facebook message about a picture.  The message asked if Aidan was one of the children in the picture.  The author of the message thought he was, but she wasn't sure.  I looked immediately because the author is the mom of a little boy from Krasnoyarsk.

It turned out that there were actually two pictures of a group of children.  And YES!!!  There was Aidan right in the middle!!!  In the first picture, he was in profile, but I couldn't miss his mop of red hair and his big chipmunk cheeks!  The second picture I could see his face and know that the children had just gotten up ...either in the morning or from a nap.  My baby boy looked fuzzy and tired like he wanted to sleep more.  Boy do I know that look on him!!!!


It turned out that I recognized several of the children, and know that they are now living with their forever families here in the USA. 

I couldn't stop looking at these pictures on Friday.  They are of a time, in between our trips, that I was not a part of my sons life.  I know nothing, really of this period in his life.  So, this was a gem to me.  I believe, based on when I know some of these children came home, that this picture was taken sometime between late February and no later than about the 10th of March 2008. 

I did show Aidan these pictures.  He recognized himself immediately and thought some of the children seemed familiar.  The only other thing he said was, "Did that room smell like baby poop?"  I was struck by that because it seemed like it was a recovered memory and was completely honest and immediate.  I said I didn't know because I never got to go in this room.  It really pointed out that I have no idea what he remembers of that time in his life. 

Aidan's obsession, hockey, has been continuing to consume a great deal of our time.  Last week, he had two practices for his Travel Team because we're getting ready for a tournament in Laurel, Maryland.  That tournament is four games between Friday and Sunday.  The boys have been divided into two teams and each team will only play 2 games.  We'll find out tomorrow night which two games Aidan will play.  From that, we will know if he will be able to play his House League game--there may be a conflict with the Travel Team.  For the House Team, I hope no conflict exists.  It could be a lot of games, but Aidan will love it.

His House League team lost for the first time on Saturday.  But, it was a game in which the boys played a really good game of hockey.  The score was back and forth the entire game.  I think Aidan played some of the best hockey I have ever seen him play.  I was very proud of him. 

He scored a lot and he passed a lot and he had a lot of assists.  He played defense several shifts and didn't shy away from stealing the puck back from the other team.  It was really great to watch.  At one point, I saw the coach of the other team, who also happens to be the head of the Hockey program at Ashburn, check out the back of Aidan's jersey to get his name and number when he came off the ice. . .hooboy.

Aidan is #29 and the Head of the Hockey Program is standing under the AWAY sign. 

Anyway, Aidan might be obsessed with hockey.  But, darn if that kid isn't really good at it!!!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Story of the Schmorl's

Lest you think we never go outside because we spend all of our time inside a hockey rink, I want to tell you the story of the Schmorl's. . .

A couple of months ago, a family moved into the house across the street.  It was immediately apparent that there were several kids over there, but they all appeared to be older.  But, then one day, we arrived home to see a little boy, about Aidan's age, playing by himself in the driveway out front.  So, we went over to introduce ourselves and to meet this little boy.

Zack is 7 and is in first grade!!!!  He is still at his old school, since there was only the fourth quarter left when they moved, but the boys will be in the same grade at the same school next year!!!!  Woo Hoo!!!  We FINALLY have a little boy right here for Aidan to play with. . .And play they have.  Nearly everyday, outside.  Basketball, baseball, football, and, oh yes, hockey.  Zack is very sporty and has been very agreeable about learning all of the finer points of hockey from Aidan.  And he has been really good about playing hockey nearly non-stop because it is Aidan's obsession. 

Fast forward to yesterday:

I had promised Aidan all week that he could stay up a little later than usual on Friday because he doesn't have to get up on Saturday.  I pinky promised that he could stay up until 9:30.  That is way way past his bedtime, but I knew he would sleep about 12 hours and be fine on Saturday (and he is).  So, it shouldn't have been a surprise to get a text from Pat about grilling out, having a fire in the chiminea, and oh by the way, do we have the stuff for Schmorl's???

Schmorl's????  I asked.  What is a Schmorl???

You know.  Marshmallow, chocolate, graham crackers. . .Schmorl please?

: )  LOL!!!!  Oh!!!  A S'more!!!! 

Yes!  That's it!  Stupid Siri. . .  : )

Siri doesn't understand Pat's southern accent.  It's hilarious and causes me to laugh all the time about her interpretations of what he has said. 

But, I digress. . .

So, after work, I went to the store and got all of the supplies for "Schmorl's" because we didn't have any and we had Zack, his older sister Kaitlyn and Zack's mom, Tiffany over after dinner to make them.  Totally fun for the boys and really a great way to get to know our new neighbors better. 

But, it also pointed out that we need to do something new about our Chiminea, which is succumbing to old age and falling apart. . .but that's another story and can be included in our yard renovations that will commence next month.

Happy Saturday!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Keep On Keeping On

Aidan's schedule has been keeping me incredibly busy lately.  He has hockey practice twice a week every other week and then once a week every other week.  His House League games are every Saturday afternoon and he has swimming lessons on Saturday mornings.  So, we are pretty much on the go non-stop on Saturdays.  Even with a 1:50 game time, we don't get home until almost 4:00.  Aidan pretty much just plays outside after that, except during dinner time.  Of course, he plays hockey in the driveway.  The boy would play hockey 24 hours a day if he could.

This week was supposed to be a one practice week.  However, we found out on Saturday that the Travel Team will have another tournament, in addition to the Memorial Day weekend tournament in Philly.  This one will be local--Laurel, Maryland and will be the first weekend of May.  So, the coach has scheduled a second practice for Wednesday evening.  He wants to practice in actual positions.  Alright then.

The Travel jerseys have been ordered and we should be getting them soon.  One red one and one white.  Add two more jerseys to find home for in Aidan's dresser!  Sheesh!!  The number of jerseys and socks we have!

His House League team is undefeated and in first place!  Aidan had his rotation as goalie this past weekend and he stopped more pucks than anyone else!  I'm glad that stint is over, though.  Makes me nervous when he is goalie!

 He shoots!  He scores!  And then he comes over to his Mama to smile for the camera!!  : )

Aidan in net. . .blocking pucks with ease.  And being protected by one of his friends who is also on the Travel Team.

This weekend was the Flower and Garden Festival.  Aidan and I walked down for a couple of hours yesterday and walked around for a bit.  We saw several neat ideas for the yard and bought some herbs for my herb garden.  I did discover that Aidan absolutely can not stand Lavender.  I love it, but he made the most hilarious gagging noises when I had him smell some soap.  It was a total and complete boy reaction!  So funny.

My dad leaves tomorrow for his trip to China.  He is going on a guided tour around the country and will be over there for three weeks.  This is really not a place I would like to go, but I guess it's on his bucket list.  I just wish the tensions in that part o the world were a little calmer.  He doesn't seem to have a back up plan on how to get out of there if things go south with North Korea.  But, he is excited to see things like the Great Wall and the Yangzte River.  Ok then!

My mom is going in today for a biopsy.  Her cancer is back.  She had had some pre-cancer cells a couple of years ago and we thought they had all been removed.  Maybe so.  I don't know.  She went last month for a check up and this time has actual lesions.  I had thought it was in the same area as before, but she was describing some preparations she had to do that don't really add up to the same area.  So, I'm not really sure what's going on.  My sisters and I are very worried, though.  We really really wish she was still seeing the Oncologist in Chicago that she had had previously.  We trusted him.  All we can do is pray right now. 

Finally, Aidan's teacher has been so wonderful with him this year.  He is doing well in school and continues to progress with his reading.  She agreed to send his weekly Word Sort homework home on Fridays so we can start it on Sunday afternoons because of hockey practice.  I didn't want him getting behind.  This has been great!  We get  couple of days of his homework done on Sundays and the stress and tension is almost completely removed.  We still do daily reading and work on his Quarterly Sight Words each day, but those are quick.  The Word Sort homework is the time consuming part.  I just love his teacher.  We're going to miss her next year!

That's about it.  Not much else going on.  We just keep on keeping on!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

An American

5 years ago, we landed at Atlanta International Airport, got off the plane, claimed our luggage, and went on to Customs and Immigration.  Scan, stamp stamp, and we were home.  Except then we had to go to another area to have Aidan processed in. 

At this immigration desk, I handed over our passports, Aidan's Russian passport and the super secret sealed envelope.  The Immigration official looked at our passports, set them aside.  Then he opened Aidan's passport, reviewed closely the Immigration Visa stamped in there from the US Embassy in Moscow, scanned the passports and then set them all aside.  Then he opened the super secret sealed envelope.  Looked through all of the secret documents therin and . . .

stamp stamp

we were in!

Or I should say, Aidan was in! 

The official then looked at us and said, "Congratulations.  Welcome home."

That was it.

There were no balloons.  No confetti.  No marching band playing patriotic music.

You gotta understand.  After having been in Russia for a month, I needed something!  Hail to the Chief!  Or Yankee Doodle!  Come on here!!


Ah well.  But, we did get one over on those officials. 

There was a sign that said NO PHOTOGRAPHS. 

But, guess what???  They didn't know about the Lori Jerger offensive.

Lori Jerger, one of our travelling partners, very sweetly cajoled one of the younger officials into taking a photo of the six of us just after our children became citizens.

And here you have the newest American citizens on April 13, 2008!!!

Ellie Jerger and Aidan Harrison!!!!!  Oh, and Adam and Lori and Pat and Stacy are there too.

And then an older official started yelling at us. . .one picture is what we got.  Thank goodness it was okay!  : )

Five years!

Time sure does fly.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Little Tidbits of our Lives

The intensity of this Travel Hockey team is amazing. . .and a bit overwhelming.  I have to admit that I was pretty stunned to see how the practice stepped WAY up from the House League.  And Aidan, truth be known, has been feeling a bit intimidated. 

To put it into perspective for you, kind reader, have you see the movie "The Mighty Ducks"?  Okay, so imagine the Hawks. . .skating in a circle with the sticks toward the center of the circle. . .or skating crossovers with every one perfectly evenly spaced and going at great speeds, but the same speed as each other.  Everyone is dressed the same and they are saying things.  Only, and thankfully, it's not "Win! Win! Win! Win!"  It's things like, "Put the puck in the Money Box!" or "Stay out of the Danger Zone!"  You'll have to ask Aidan what that all means.  I'm clueless.

There isn't anything at all malicious, like with the Hawks in "The Mighty Ducks" but the coach can be heard saying over and over again "This is Travel Hockey!  This is not the House League!"  Whew!  As if we hadn't figured that one out yet!

About half way through the last practice, just when I was feeling terrible for putting Aidan into this situation, something happened and his confidence level soared!!  He put the puck in the net "deking out the goalie, mama!!"  Okay then.  And then, during the practice scrimmage during the last 25 minutes, the coach kept stopping the play and asking players "Where's my Left Winger?" or "Where's my Defenseman?" and a little boy would skate across the ice from where he was to where he was supposed to be.  But, then, the coach would call out "Good Job!" to every boy who was in the right place. . .Aidan always was and I could see his shoulders lift a little higher with each "Good Job!"  And actually, the third time, the coach made a big point of saying Aidan was playing very very good and that he is awesome at staying where he is supposed to and being ready for the puck.  Big grin on my kiddos face after that one!  And big sigh of relief from his Mama. 

Maybe this will be okay afterall.

I'll try to get film at the next practice. . .if I can relax enough to film it, that is!  As you can see from this picture, I'm a bit nervous watching these practices.  Can you say blurry???

Meanwhile, I bought Aidan some new sneakers.  I need sunglasses when he wears them!  Even on cloudy days!

Aidan is doing some household chores now, too.  He has decided he wants to do the dishes and volunteers to do them most nights.  He is so insistent about it that he gets upset if I say I need to do them (good china days).  He is meticulous and spends a great deal of time organizing the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. 
Hilarious kiddo!!

And now that we have gone from snow and winter coats last week to everything is blooming and we're wearing shorts and flip flops because it is 90 degrees outside, Aidan has been spending more and more time outside.  Which means he is looking for new and more fun adventures. . .like riding his bike at break neck speeds and then falling off and getting the worst road rash I've seen since I was a kid!! 
I know he's a little boy, but this was his first experience with road rash.  It hurts me to look at it.  : (  He'll be fine.  In fact, he already is.  I guess I can't pad him up for everything. . .I guess that's why I like the hockey thing. . .pads all over his little body! 

And that's it.  Hope you have a great rest of the week.  Now get out there and enjoy this beautiful weather!!  Especially the Cherry Blossoms. . .which will be gone before you know it!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Forever a Family

Incredibly, it was five years ago today that we became a family of three. 

It was a very cold day in Krasnoyarsk.  There were some flurries and clouds scudding across the sky.  We went out to breakfast and stopped at the store for our daily rations on the way back to the hotel.  Except this time, we added baby food and some juices.  When we got back, we packed up our little room with it's two single beds and moved down the hall to a two room suite with a bigger bed and a crib.  We unpacked into our new home where we would bring our baby and then live for a few days.  It was nice to have more space and actually sit on a couch again to watch TV.  AND there was a separate desk area where we could set up the laptop.  Luxury. 

Late in the afternoon, we met up with our traveling partners, the Jergers, and waited in the lobby to be picked up by Yelena and Serge for our final drive to Sosnovoborsk.  We brought along clothes for the children and gifts for the workers at the Baby Home.  Aidan's outfit consisted of jeans, a thick shirt, socks, snow pants, jacket, boots, hat and gloves. 

When we arrived, the clothes were taken from us and we were taken on a tour of the rooms where our children had been living.  We were shown the play area (so this is the real play area!  Not the Music Room!) and Aidan's locker where his meager possessions were stored.  His possessions consisted of Tigger and a book with pictures of us in it.  That was it.  All we had brought him on Trip #1.

Then we were taken into the crib room.  30 cribs lined up in rows.  I was shown Aidan's crib and my heart just melted thinking about my baby boy laying in this place.  I was assured that he had not been left crying.  I try to believe that.

Then we were walked up the stairs and to the Music Room.  Down the hall and through the door and I saw my little man. 

 I could see immediately that he was confused and a bit bewildered.  I know he had absolutely no idea of what was going on.  So I went over to help him put on his coat and he backed up to me as he usually did to sit down. 
 Once we were ready, we headed outside and got a picture of the three of us and Galina, the Director at the Baby Home, by the door we always went in and out of.  Aidan was none too pleased. 
 And then we were off.  We left Sosnovoborsk for the last time, probably never to return.  And we headed off to Krasnoyarsk and to the rest of our lives together as a family of three.

And now we have this beautiful boy who is confident, smart, athletic and the most kind and loving creature.  Thanks be to God he has filled my arms and my heart with joy and love.