Aidan at Beach

Aidan at Beach

Friday, November 22, 2013

Remembrance

Everywhere in the news, on the radio and even on peoples lips, people will be talking about what happened 50 years ago today: the assassination of President Kennedy.  Some will talk about where they were when they heard the news, although this is becoming less because, well, it was 50 years ago. 

I was around when this tragedy occurred (yes, I am 50) but I don't have any idea where I was.  I was just shy of 5 months old.  So, it could have been in my crib, in a playpen, or even in my moms arms.  I have bigger memories of when Bobby was killed. . .

So, I'm going to focus on something joyful.  Something wonderful.  Something so fantastic, it changed mine and Pat's lives forever!  And it still is an anniversary that coincides with this, otherwise tragic, date!!!

Six years ago today, Pat and I landed in Krasnoyarsk, Russia for the very first time.  We had been travelling for nearly 2 days, had maybe six hours of sleep, one cup of coffee (yikes!!), some horrible California Pizza (really!  In the middle of Siberia!!), and got all gussied up, went before the Ministry of Education and somehow, bleary eyed, got approval to go a meet a little baby boy in a baby home an hour drive away. . .and then we were taken there!

After donning the protective covers on our shoes, and sitting in a strange room in the middle of a small (nuclear) town of Sosnovoborsk, for what seemed like for.ev.er. a woman came in carrying a small boy.  Who took one look at me and burst into tears!!!  But I went over anyway and he was handed to me.  And my arms and heart felt like they had been filled and completed. 

I had fallen in love with Aidan when were first heard about him.  He melted my heart and took firm control of me when I saw pictures of him for the first time.  And he completed our little family so firmly (there was an audible click!) that I knew he was ours.

And it was that much more bittersweet when he was taken back out of my arms the next day and he said, "Paca Mama" and smiled a heartbreakingly lovely smile at me.  That moment is still etched in my heart and still fully indescribable.  My arms never felt so empty.

What I loved about him then:
I picked him up and he didn't know me from anyone and he would cry and cry. . .and yet lay his cheek against mine.  (he still does that!)

He warmed up quickly and began calling us Mama and Papa (the look on Pat's face when he heard Papa the first time is also indescribable!  Oh the joy!!)

His first English word was "Bubbles!"  He loved the bubbles we brought him.
Thanksgiving Day 2007
 
And today, I still love all those things.  But, I also love how he is so loving, caring and kind. . .



So incredibly goofy!!



He insists on wearing this hoody over another jacket because he doesn't want to cover up the Xtreme logo!!!  : )  Such pride. . .

And I love how smart he is!!
I went to his fall program the other day at school where he and the other children told us parents all about the Powhatans and made arrows and quivers.  So much fun knowledge!!!

And I love that there are toys all over the Rec Room, that the garage is a disaster, that I have loads and loads of laundry to do everyday and that my schedule is not my own!!  It is such a blessing being his mom. . .

And so, I leave you with this wonderful, joyful, and most incredible child who changed our lives forever on this day six years ago.  It was the. best. Thanksgiving. Day. ever.

God bless!



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Big Stuff!

Okay, this is not in order of importance. . .

Big Stuff #1:

The Porch!!!!  While not totally completed, the electrical is almost done and the fan needs to go up, it is basically done!!!  And here is what we have been doing on this. . .since July 24th when we wrote the first check to the Contractor. . .



First, the railing on the old deck was taken off and the roof was started.  It took a while because this was done in the hottest part of summer. . .August.  But it was solid and well done.  Our Contractor is meticulous to a fault.  There will not be any problems at all with this roof!!!  /The under framing of the old deck was kept as it was well done (yeah Pat!!) and already approved by the county.  Once the roof was completed, the old deck boards were taken up and the new, very expensive Trex boards were put down. . .
 


We have two open side porches, one about six feet by twenty feet and the other is about five feet by six feet.  Originally, the larger one was going to be the grilling porch but we changed our minds and are making the smaller one the grilling porch.  The smaller porch will also lead down to a patio of some kind--we can't decide between slate, brick or pour/stamped concrete.  That will be in the Spring, though.

We also decided on black cast iron posts in the railing, which contrasts nicely with the white exterior.  We also did black cast iron knobs on the two screen doors. . .

And now. . . .drumroll, please!!!brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!

The larger side porch with Victorian style door. . .Maggie has figured out how to open this one already. . .


 The smaller grilling porch with the other less ornate door. . .this one has a doggie door in it so the dogs can come and go as they please. . .
Working on the trim and finishing pieces. . .

The access door to under the porch. . .it has hinges and a lock!

Inside view of our view. . .



And now it's basically done!!  Just the outside light by the grilling porch, the ceiling fan and a couple of trim pieces by the stairs.  Oh and those pesky final inspections!! 

While this took a very long time, I absolutely love it.  It is beautiful and so much nicer than I ever expected.  They did a fantastic job!!! Next we'll be moving my lace cap hydrangeas to be around the back of the porch, mulching and then next spring the patio with built in fire pit.  Woot Woot!!

And what blog post would be complete without some mention of hockey???

Big Stuff #2:

Aidan's Travel Team had practice this morning. . .at 6 am. . . They worked, in separate groups by line, on Offensive Zone Box and breakouts!!  Aidan LOVED practice today!!!  : )

Have a great week!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Aidan the Smarty Pants and Other Trivial Trivia

Years ago, when we had only home a few months with Aidan, we began the process of thinking about his education.  He was only 2 1/2 when we started thinking about this, but really, in todays society, a lot of parents starts thinking abut this while the child is still in utero.  We didn't have that luxury.  But, we began as soon as we felt it was appropriate for him.

Our first year home, we had him in a home daycare.  I stayed home with him for two months to help with the adjustment and bonding--although in retrospect this was ongoing for a couple of years.  But once I went back to work, I didn't want to put him in a daycare center.  I wanted him in a home environment to help "de-institutionalize" him.  He needed the social aspect of daycare, but I wanted a home setting.  We were lucky to have a friend from church with an opening.  She did a wonderful job with him during that first year home--helping with potty training and was there for us during his little boy surgery (I was home with him for that, but it took a week to heal!) and during his very long bout with RSV.  She was fantastic. 

But, once he turned three, we realized he was going to need a daycare with preschool learning time.  We searched and searched.  Initially, we had thought it would be at our church 2 to 3 half days per week and that he would then stay with the friends home daycare.  But, then we started hearing about other kids from our church daycare needing tutors to catch up!!  We weren't sure what Aidan was going to need, but we thought he might have some learning issues because of his history.  So, we opted for a larger center.  But, again, we knew one of the teachers there personally and she was able to keep an eye on him for us (plus the added bonus that she ended up as his Pre-K teacher!!). 

Aidan started at Winwood at three years old and I really think it has paid off.  It was hard to pay that huge fee every week, but we did it and now his educational foundation is really solid. 

All that to tell you about his report card for the First Quarter of Second grade!!!  My baby is a smarty pants. . .  Loudoun County does E for exceeds guidelines, M for Meets and P for Progressing toward standards. 

In Reading, Aidan got 3 E's!!!  for develops and expands vocabulary, applies phonetic principles and Comprehends fiction.  The other three categories were M's! 

In Language Arts, he got an E for learns assigned spelling patterns and M's in all other categories.

In Math, he got 2 E's for Number and number sense, place value and fractions and in patterns and algebraic thinking (uh oh. . .good thing Pat is good in Math!) and M's in all other categories.

In Art an E!!  And all M's in Social Science, Science, Health, Music and PE. 

There is one other category that they grade: O for Outstanding, S for Satisfactory and N for Needs Improvement.  This is for Characteristics that Affect Learning.  I guess it's like a conduct grade.  Aidan got 2 O's- Works independently and Completes Homework.  All others were S's.

I was so proud of Aidan.  He worked very hard this first semester and is still excited by school.  I wrote his teacher about this and thanked her for keeping it fun enough to keep him excited. 
Way to go buddy!!!  Keep up the good work!!!!

In other news, Aidan's hockey is continuing although we still don't have the game schedule from the CBHL.  That is frustrating, but it will come.  We do know about two tournaments, one in Annapolis  right after Christmas and one in Philadelphia during Presidents day weekend.  The boys also get to play a scrimmage at Verizon Center right before Christmas and use the Capitals dressing room too!!  We will then stay and watch the Caps play. How exciting!!!

Pat's mom's birthday is Monday so were all going out tomorrow for a celebration at Blue Ridge Grill!!  Can't wait!

And we're preparing for Thanksgiving. . .and Christmas!!  I still have some food to shop for for Thanksgiving, but that will be completed this week.  Meanwhile, Advent starts the weekend after Thanksgiving, so I am shopping and preparing for Christmas as well.  Yikes this year is going fast!!!  I'm hoping to order my Christmas cards by that weekend after Thanksgiving. . .hopefully.

And finally, we were remiss in replacing the remaining batteries that needed to be replaced in our smoke detectors.  Bad us!! (it's been done now)  So, one started beeping every few minutes the other morning.  Pat was typically not around when things like this happen but the dogs made sure I was aware.  In fact, Maggie became glued to my side.  I couldn't figure out which one was beeping so I went on to take my shower.  Maggie sat outside the bathroom door growling at me but she was gone by the time I finished.  In fact, I wasn't sure where she ended up.  I didn't hear the smoke detector anymore either.  But, I eventually found Mags. . .in bed with Aidan!!!  I don't know how she got up there without waking him up, but she did!

And then she glared at me when we left as if to say, Aren't you going to do something about that thing that's beeping????  Such a funny dog!!!

Today, we have no hockey.  That's right!!  So, Aidan and I are going to rake leaves and winterize the yard.  Finally!!!  And tomorrow, I will have pictures of the porch!!!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

No One Likes a Puck Hog. . .

That's what you hear.  All the time.  At the Ice House.

And yet, there are times when being a Puck Hog is not a bad thing!!

Aidan is currently on two teams.  He has to be on a House League Team in order to play on his Travel Select Team.  The Select Team is a precursor to the big travel team he hopes to make next year.  It's kind of like the All Star team:  the 28 best players of the House League out of 144 kids make the two Travel Select Teams (LA 1 and LA 2--Aidan is an LA 1).

The 28 are really good, too.  At least 10 of them were on the same Travel team last Spring, of which 8 (a couple will move up to the next age group division)  will likely be on the same team this coming Spring and will (hopefully) make the big Travel Team next June (for the 2014-15 season). 

But, I digress. . .

Aidan's House League team can be good.  But they can also be really really bad.  And they have been really really bad lately. 

They spend their practices working on passing (good) but not on foot skills (not so good!).  Several of the kids on the team look like they just started skating--even after a 8 weeks!!--not long before the season started.  They have gotten better, though.  But, it's hard to work on passing skills when the boys don't really know positioning or how to get there. 

Last week was a major wake up call for Aidan.  He spent most of his House League game just standing around waiting.  No one was passing to him and he came off the ice sooo frustrated!!!  I have never seen him so frustrated!!  In fact, the mood carried into the next day.  So not like him when it comes to hockey!

So, I talked to Coach Troy, his coach he takes lessons from on Monday morning.  He said Aidan should be scoring 10 goals a game.  I said last Sunday he had scored 0.  He said, Aidan should get the puck and go and score.  I made a face. . .he responded by saying, parents may not like it, but that's what Aidan should be doing. 

Okay then.

I told Aidan what Coach Troy said and I have to tell you. . .the relief was not just visible but palpable.

And it paid off, too!!  He scored 9 this morning.  And his team won 24-2!  : )  Chatterbox and super happy and excited since!!

And he's doing great with his Selects Travel team, too!  He is making some great plays, scoring and being a good team mate. 

Aidan's team scored right after this. . .that's my boy digging for the puck and then he passed it to the boy (they are in white) in front of the goal who then shot it into the goal and scored!!!!  (Ashburn LA1 Selects v. Frederick--final score 20-1)

My kiddo during the game watching and being prepared.  (Ashburn LA1 Selects v. Reston--final score 22-2)
 
 
And now, in a couple of minutes, we'll be off to the Ice House again (fourth time this weekend) so Aidan's team can play the Big Travel Team for an Exhibition game. . .  : /  Hopefully, the boys will keep this in perspective. . .
 
 
Have a great week!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hallowe'en And All Saints

Halloween was really a blast this year.  Per Aidan's instructions, we began our planning for the big day back in July.  Seriously.  We pored over every catalog and site for the perfect costume.  He picked his out of the same catalog where last years costume came from. . .at the end of July!  I gave him until the end of August to make a final decision (change his mind) but it was THE costume of all costumes!  So, I ordered it.  And it came.  And it was gruesome looking.  It was. . .

A Pirate Ship Ghost!

You'll see pictures below.  Suffice it to say, his cutey pie face was covered in a gruesome mask. . .for a little bit. . .and the pants didn't quite want to stay up, so I had to safety pin them to his shirt.  But he was happy.  And that's what counts. 

We spent September decorating the house with fall decorations--no jack-o-lanterns until October, please!  And then added more scary things in October.  We bought our FOUR, yes FOUR pumpkins at Harris Teeters--we never made it to Pumpkinville this year and Aidan never even asked to go!!--for $5.00 a piece--way cheaper than Pumpkinville!--AND had a volunteer pumpkin to carve from the garden!

The day before Halloween was the day allotted to carving said pumpkins.  I arrived home to find Pat on the front lawn surrounded by the neighbor kids and our kid, too, gutting all kinds of pumpkins while the kids carved.  I got out of the car and had to smile.  It was like Pat was the Pumpkin Pied Piper with all those kids around him!  Really wish I'd gotten a picture of it.  What a fun evening listening to the kids chatter about all kinds of things while everyone worked on their pumpkins!

While chattering, it was revealed that another neighbor had asked Aidan and his friend Zach to be in the parade with him.  It was the Marines for Toys for Tots and Santa was going to be in that truck with them.  At first the boys really wanted to be in it.  But, after discussing it and realizing they would then miss the parade and huge potion of time allotted or Trick or Treating, they decided not to do it.  I was a little perturbed that this neighbor asked the children and not the parents.  They are 7 year old boys.  And I was especially perturbed when he got a little mad when the boys changed their minds.  Come on. . .

The result of carving!!
One of our pumpkins didn't make it through the carving process.  But that little greenish one is the volunteer from the garden.  Isn't that great????

My work even got into the act this year and we had a contest for decorating our office space and costumes.  We even had a special pizza and salad lunch on Halloween.  We did have to each pay for lunch as it was a fund raiser for Interfaith Relief and I have to say I am proud of the 20 of us!  The suggested donation was $10.00.  We raised $350.00!!  Which we turned into grocery store gift cards and took down to the Loudoun Interfaith Relief along with our200 pounds of box and canned goods!   We try to do this a few times a year and the people in need are not just hungry at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Anyhoo. . .

Here are some pictures from our office shindig:
The whole gang.  We had a skier, Willie Robertson, a couple of witches, scarecrows and a baseball player, and so on!

This is one of the ladies who answers the phone up front.  I came in and saw her in profile and just had to laugh all day! 

My office mate and I did a farm theme with crows and corn and she and I dressed up as scarecrows.  Hers was better, though!

And what are scarecrows without a farmer???  Another person dressed up as Old McDonald. . .like the Geico commercial!  Hilarious!

And then I came home and got Aidan dressed for his big night!  After a healthy diner of Mac and Cheese : ).  We headed up and got Aidan dressed.  While not super cold, it was a little chilly and there was rain forcast, so we had Aidan put on some sweat pants an a long sleeved Tshirt under the costume.  The costume itself was pretty flimsy, but it covered all of the under clothes.

And the big reveal. . . . . .




Pretty creepy, right???  And yes, he HAD to have this costume with the mask!!
















And here he is just BEFORE the parade started.. .about 10 minutes after the above pictures!!!
He put the mask back on for Trick or Treating. . .and that lasted about 2 houses!  Next year, NO mask!

The parade was fun as usual.  They kept all of the political mumbo jumbo to a minimum and put it all at the end of the parade, which was awesome.  And this year we had 4 High School bands in it!  It was a lot of fun.  Some of my favorites from the parade. . .
 

 And here is a Lawn Service. . .In addition to the Wicked Witch of the East, there was a Scarecrow and a Tin Man riding these lawn mowers.  It was great!














And we dumped out what Aidan got from the parade before he went off Trick or Treating. . .Look at this loot!!! 

We have so much candy now. . .  : /

And now Halloween is over for another year.  We're sad but we're ready to move on.  I even started my Thanksgiving Dinner menu yesterday!  : )  And other super secret lists are starting as well. . . .

Meanwhile, I also wanted to share a couple of pictures from Aidan's last football game.  I was really impressed that the boys no longer looked like bobble heads:

He really did work hard even while not liking it.  He ran a really great game on this last game and I couldn't help wondering why his coach didn't use him as a Runner Back all season instead of as a Blocker??  Ah well.  It's done now.  He got a nice trophy and a medal to go along with his growing collection!!

And I also have to share Aidan in his new Red Xtreme jersey.  He still hasn't gotten his whole uniform yet, but he was sooooo excited to get this part!!



And one final really goofy picture of Aidan ready for school but wearing these hilarious glasses he got as a prize due to the amount he sold for his school's fall fund raiser.  How cute is this???

So funny!!

And that's it!  Finally caught up on pictures and posts!!!

We have a long weekend this weekend due to the Quarter Break.  Aidan doesn't go back to school until Wednesday.  I'm off with him on Monday and then our neighbor will watch him Tuesday morning and Pat will be there Tuesday afternoon.  We only have our House game tomorrow. . .and Select practice and then a lesson on Monday morning.  But that's it!!  Nothing but family time today!!!  Woot Woot!!

Have a great weekend.  See you soon!