Saturday, June 30, 2012

Happy Birthday, J-Mav!

Dear J-Mav -

Nine! Really?! How is that possible?!? I mean, I KNOW how it's possible, but it just doesn't seem possible. I feel like it was just yesterday that we were bringing you home from the hospital and hanging out with the neighbors a couple days later at the 4th of July block party. You were so long and gangly... a half inch longer than your brother was a birth; your brother, who at 14 is already taller than I am. What does that mean for your height five years from now? I fear I will soon be a midget in my own home. Sigh.

This has been another year of big things and change for you. As mentioned above, you grew a lot! I suspect when you have your well-check, you will have gained about ten pounds and grown about 4 or 5 inches. We'll see. Which reminds me, I need to schedule your well check!

You finished 3rd grade with flying colors. Academically, you had almost all Os on your report card all year. And you got Pass/Advanced on both your Social Studies (521 out of 600) and Science (600 out of 600) SOLs. The "Work Habits" section of the report card was another story. But there was improvement toward the end of year. Areas that still need work for next year are:
  • Exhibits Self Control
  • Complies with Established Rules
  • Listens to and Follows Directions
  • Uses Time Constructively
However, I will say that all but "Exhibits Self Control" improved to Satisfactory for the second half of the year. That coincides with when you officially diagnosed with and started taking medication for ADHD, so we were happy to see that the medication has helped settle your brain and make better choices. We waited and observed for awhile... we being Dad and me, as well as your doctor. Your doctor felt that you were borderline for diagnosis and that maturity might be a factor. While that's likely still the case (you are one of the youngest in your class... the Class of 2021), we and the doctor thought it was time to do an official evaluation after you were struggling with those work habits at the beginning of school. The medication HAS made a difference in your self control.

You continue to have a large group of friends and you seem to be popular at school. Sometimes I don't always know that this is a good thing as I think sometimes your popularity stems from your love of making people laugh and getting a reaction. But you are a super smart and funny little guy, so I can see why people are drawn to you. Friendships with certain people ebb and flow, but you consistently remain tight with your buddy JE. At this point, you are more like brothers than just friends. :)

Athletically, you have had a break-out year with hockey.  You tried out for and made the Mite Silver team last season and had a great year. You also played on a Mite House team, coached by Dad. You had fun with both... especially traveling to a tournament in Hershey with the Mite Silver. During the season, you committed to improving your skating and we signed you up for a weekly skating lesson. You rarely complained about getting up at 4:45am once a week and going for a skating lesson before school. And ya know what? Your hard work and dedication paid off. You made the Spring Development "A" team, and you were named to the Squirt Blue 2003 team for next season... the only player to be named who didn't play on the Mite Blue team last year. That's a huge accomplishment, and one that you can be proud of.

You also played "up" to AA baseball this spring. You had a good season with the Rattlers, and had a nice group of teammates. Your team had little success during the regular season, but pulled it together for the playoff game and made it into the championship game. You lost the championship game, but how great to end up with a runner-up trophy! I don't know if you will continue with baseball after this season; you seemed a little wishy-washy about it. I think, compared to hockey, it's kind of boring for you. At one point you told me that you "hated baseball because you just stand around waiting for something to happen." So we'll see. It's totally up to you.

You are a little mouthy with a little more attitude than I'd like at times, but you are also my sweet cuddler. You are always ready with a hug, and it's not hard to coax a smile out of you when you are being poopy. You love being home and doing things with your family. More often than not, you'd rather eat pasta at home than go out to dinner. And you love playing games. Any games will do. And puzzles. And, wow, are you a smart little cookie. So observant, too.

So happy birthday, J-Mav... enjoy your last year in single digits! I can't wait to see what this year brings!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Keeper Boy's Hawaiian Adventure - Day 7

Day 7 - 6/26/12

We talked to Keeper Boy on FaceTime last night for a little while. It was quite an adventure with Spidey and CJ reaching for the iPod and such. We got disconnected a few times during the conversation. :)

But Keeper Boy looks good. He says he's wearing his retainer, showering, taking his meds, and keeping his room picked up. Jenrie concurred. ;-P He's watched the kids a few times already while Jenrie has run out to the commissary, and he keeps them entertained while she makes dinner. He's also serving as an able partner for Uncle Hooter to play X-box games that he normally has no one to play with. ;-P

Hubby's uncle, aunt, and two of their grandchildren are currently in Hawaii and Keeper Boy is going to go hang with them for the next couple of days, I guess. The grandchildren are around Keeper Boy's age. They are going to do the Remembrance Tour at Pearl Harbor tomorrow morning and then do all the war monuments and memorials that we did last summer when we were there. He is going to stay with them at their condo tomorrow night.

Other than that, nothing new. He seemed totally comfortable there and the kids seemed completely comfortable with him. Spidey was hanging all over him, just like a little brother. :) Keeper Boy and Spidey are the same age spread at Hubby and Uncle Hooter, so I think it's been funny for Uncle Hooter to watch the interaction from the perspective of an adult.

Keeper Boy's Hawaiian Adventure: Day 6

Day 6 - 6/25/12

Hubby received this message from his brother (Uncle Hooter) yesterday...

The 'plan' was to call you guys or FaceTime yesterday, but [Keeper Boy] & I ended up at AlaMoana Mall for about three hours getting [JenRie] a new iPhone... [Keeper Boy] loves Jamba Juice which is nothing more than blended fruit in a cup.

He's doing really good ... helping [JenRie] out around the house and keeping the kids busy so she can get some stuff done during the day. We're starting a 'shower-a-day' regiment for him so he stays clean. I told him its always warm here so we're always sweaty and need to shower it's just the right thing to do. He's okay with that. He's wearing his retainer all the time and keeps good track of it when he's eating.

I don't know how [Spidey] will take [Keeper Boy] leaving when it comes time for him to head home! He missed [Keeper Boy] yesterday when we were at the mall for all of a few hours! Too funny.

We find it immensely amusing that Keeper Boy appears to like a drink that is nothing but fruit juice when he won't eat much in the way of fruit. But, hey... not complaining. :)

The "we're staring a 'shower-a-day' regiment" comment about killed us. We were laughing so hard. I'm not sure if he's not showering or if they are having to nag him about showering, or what. He was good about showering every morning throughout this school year... especially after he started dating his girlfriend. But, whatever they need to do... we're all about him showering every day. Ha ha.

I also got a text from Keeper Boy yesterday. They were driving around the base so that he could get an idea of where everything is. He's a little directionally challenged, so I'm not sure how much that will help, but it's a good idea nonetheless. He told me his retainers still hurt "a smidge," but that he's wearing them and that it's not too bad.

We are hoping to talk to him tonight on FaceTime...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Our Camping Adventure

So we (Hubby, J-Mav, and I) took the camper out for the first time over the weekend. We had a great time, but it was not without adventure.

First off, the camper has been set up in our driveway since just before Memorial Day because we had intended to camp that weekend. It didn't work out because we couldn't get a reservation anywhere within an hour of here, and we needed to be around for hockey games that weekend. So, in alarmingly redneck style, we just left it up in the driveway.

I got out of work a couple hours early on Friday, so I went home and loaded stuff into the trailer and truck so that we'd be pretty much ready to go by the time Hubby got home. Once we had everything in the camper, J-Mav and I put it down and closed it up. We did very well if I do say so myself! ;-P When Hubby got home, we loaded the cooler in the truck, he changed his clothes, and we hooked the truck up to the camper. We checked that all was good with the hook-up and that all the lights worked, and off we went. We had an hour to get to the campground (which was 20 minutes away) before the office closed. No worries.

As we left our subdivision, however, we went over a very uneven cross road and immediately had a much bigger problem than making it to the campground by 7:00! The truck swerved to the left and we heard a horrible noise. As Hubby tried to get us stopped, I looked in the side view mirror and realized the camper was no longer hooked to the truck. Yikes! We were now stopped in the left lane of [thankfully, recently widened] two lanes heading toward Fairfax Co. Parkway.

Telling J-Mav to stay in the truck (it was rush hour, afterall), Hubby and I got out to assess the damage. The trailer was wedged up under the hitch, but the safety chains were still attached. J-Mav had just asked what they were for when we were hooked the trailer up. Now he saw in action just what they were for. I moved the truck up a little bit, and then went back, and together Hubby and I were able to lift the tongue of the trailer up and put it back on the hitch. We re-attached it, yanked on it to make sure it was really attached, and then plugged the lights back in to make sure they still worked. Amazingly, they did. We pulled into a church parking lot and drove around a bit over a couple speed bumps to make sure it was really hitched properly and then got on our way once again, albeit a bit nervously.

We arrived with no further issues, and received our assigned spot. As Hubby backed the camper in, we realized we were going to get a storm sooner rather than later, so we got to work getting set up. I think we were set up within about 30 or 45 minutes... just before the rain started. With the rain came a welcome drop in the temperature. J-Mav and I took off to grab some subs, leaving Hubby to make beds and put food away in the trailer. He had everything organized by the time we got back, and the rain shower had blown through by then, as well.

By the time we were done eating, Hubby and J-Mav took a walk to the bathhouse (where J-Mav did not like the sign posted warning about copperhead snakes) and then J-Mav wen to bed and Hubby and I played Scrabble and made a list of things that we need to get before we go camping again (lights for the awning, more light bulbs, a hatchet, more blankets, extra pillows for propping up Hubby's arm when he lies on his side and my head if I'm congested...). Kdog was surprisingly calm, she laid on her blanket on the floor. I think having the fan on all weekend helped a lot. She probably couldn't hear every little noise, so she didn't bark and "woof" at every little thing.

We awoke [early] on Saturday to bright, hot sun... the way our site was, it was beating down on the picnic table/door side of the camper. One of the things we did was scope out other sites so that we can request a more shady site the next time we go there. We found one that we would love to have and it was empty all weekend. Hopefully it will be empty the next time we want to go there, as well.

Hubby and J-Mav went to the water park that is at this particular park. The plan was that they would go for a bit and then Hubby and I would switch off. However, when they came back for lunch, J-Mav didn't want to go back. That was fine because I had a pretty good headache going anyway. We decided, instead, to take walk/hike as this was a county park, there were also county trails to walk/bike on. We followed one and ended up, at the end of it, at the rink. Only we could take a hike and end up at the rink where the boys play hockey. They quick visit (we went in to get water and use the bathroom) meant that at least one of us had been at the rink every day for the past eight for one reason or another. But I digress...

When we got back to the site a couple hours later, I made macaroni salad for dinner while the guys built a fire so we could roast hot dogs and, later, s'mores. They did a great job, though J-Mav told Hubby every five minutes for a few hours that he thought the fire was going to go out. ;-) We ate dinner, and then one of J-Mav's hockey teammates (who lives within walking distance of where we were camping) came over with his mom for s'mores. We all visited for a couple hours before they left and J-Mav hit the sack again. I wasn't far behind as my headache had never gone away.

We actually got cold on Saturday night, and Hubby went and got the blanket that I keep in the truck! KDog was also more restless on Saturday night... lots of moving around and scratching and ear flapping. But we survived and slept a little longer on Sunday morning than we had on Saturday morning. But once we were up, we ate a quick breakfast and started packing up as the check-out time was 10am. Plus, J-Mav had a birthday part to go to at 12:30. Busy, busy.

We didn't have any trouble "breaking down" and I think it took about an hour. Maybe a little more. We made triple sure that we were securely hooked up before we took off, and headed home... our first camping adventure in the books. We are already planning our next weekend away in July...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Keeper Boy's Hawaiian Adventure: Day 3

Day 3 - 6/22/12

From Jenrie's Facebook page:

I figured out what's been missing in my life... a 14 year old that helps entertain the kids! I could get used to this!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Keeper Boy's Hawaiian Adventure: Day 1

I'll try to post any updates I get from Jenrie or Uncle Hooter here.

Day 1 - 6/20/12 - Arrival

Keeper Boy's flight landed a half hour early, and by the time he texted me to let me know he'd arrived, he was already at baggage claim and Uncle Hooter was still on his way to the airport. They connected via cell phone and made a plan... Keeper Boy got his luggage and met Uncle Hooter outside, where he was waiting in the car. He told me that he slept on the plane, watched some movies, had a cheeseburger for lunch, and ate most of the snacks I had put in his backpack... a package of beef jerky and an entire bag of goldfish. The only thing he didn't finish was the box of Nilla Wafers and a small bag of popcorn he'd gotten from the orthodontist when he got his braces off.

I got this email from Jenrie last night:
The kids were thrilled to see Justin, we had dinner and everyone is watching a movie now. Peyton is cuddled up with her Justin! aww!
I just can't get over how deep his voice has gotten since last summer!
Tomorrow afternoon Josh's unit is doing a hike and family can join them so Justin is going along.
And so his big adventure begins!

And they're off...

Keeper Boy left yesterday for his five weeks in Hawaii. He made it safely, and met up with Uncle Hooter outside the airport. He got "home" to a house of excited cousins...and I'm sure he slept well last night after a 10-hour flight!

Friday, June 15, 2012

And they're off...

My parents, my aunt and uncle, and my cousin are off on yet another Alaskan adventure. They left on Wednesday and will be gone until 6/29. I got a call from Chicago when they were en route, and I've seen photos (from my cousin who is traveling with them) from their tour of Mt. Ranier yesterday, so I know they arrived in Seattle safely. They are boarding the cruise ship today.

Their travels this time will take them to Kodiak Island and Homer -- two places they've never been in all of their trips up there.

And they're off...

A little belated as she's already been there and back, but Gma G headed to Hawaii at the beginning of  the month -- her last trip there while Uncle Hooter, Jenrie, and the kids are living there. She loves Hawaii and she loves seeing the kids, but she HATES that trip! With good reason... something always happens either their or back, or both. This time, she got stuck in LA for six hours and it ended up taking her about 24 hours to get there. Oy!

But she got there. She had a great time. And she's safely home. No more trips to Hawaii for her.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

What I'm reading...

I've read several books since I last posted under this category...
  • The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) 
  • Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins)  
  • Mocking Jay (Suzanne Collins)  
  • Open Ice (Jack Falla)  
  • To Kill a Mocking Bird (Harper Lee)  
  • Uglies (Scott Westerfeld)  
  • Pretties (Scott Westerfeld)  
  • Specials (Scott Westerfeld) 
All but Open Ice have something in common... I read them because of Keeper Boy. I started the Hunger Games trilogy when the movie The Hunger Games came out in theaters. I knew Keeper Boy wanted to see it, but I wanted to read the book first. So I did. In like two days. Immediately followed by the second and third book of the trilogy. I think I read the whole thing in less than a week. Granted, it's written as young adult fiction, thus it's a quick read anyway, but still. I couldn't put it down! I finished that trilogy just before we took our spring break trip as I didn't want to take a physical book with me. (We were packing light.)

I downloaded Open Ice to my Kindle and read that while we were gone. It's a collection of essays about ice hockey. Some were funny; some were poignant; some were informational. All were good.

About a month ago, Keeper Boy's English class started reading To Kill a Mocking Bird. He finished the book long before he needed to have it done for class. In fact, the last chapters of the book aren't due to be read until this week! But once he was done and had finished the assignments for the book, I decided to read it. As an English major, I've long been somewhat embarrassed by the fact that I've never read Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. So I did. And it really was as good as everyone says it is. It's one I'll definitely go back and re-read again some day.

Once that was done, I was looking for a new book to read. I'm Still trying to get through Pride and Prejudice. It's been on my Kindle for MONTHS and I'm only 28% through the book. I just cannot get into it. At. All. I will finish it some day. I always finish books. But geez.

Late last week, I decided to peruse the "cloud" to see what books Keeper Boy has previously purchased and read that I could download to my Kindle. He has this thing for dystopian society literature, which I always said I didn't like. But I loved The Hunger Games, so I decided to take a chance on another trilogy he had read. And I found another trilogy that I couldn't put down. Over the weekend I read Scott Westerfeld's Uglies trilogy. The first book was definitely the strongest of the three, but I enjoyed them all. And I was thrilled to find out that he actually wrote a fourth book that takes place a few years after the third one ended. I will be downloading that very soon. Maybe even tonight!

He's got six or seven more books in "the cloud" that I didn't think I had any interest in... but now I'm not so sure. Perhaps I should give them a try!