Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Dad

My dad passed away last Tuesday after a long battle with Alzheimer's and today we held services to celebrate his life. Yep, that's him, my mom and me when I was right about Ayden Jane's age. That's pretty much how I remember him from my childhood. He was the strong, silent type who loved and cared for his family, served his country, and laid a strong foundation for many things. The sort of man that this world needs more of: hard working, honest man with integrity and a desire to put others first. He had an iron will that I see in all his grand children, but especially in his kindred spirit, Ayden Jane.

Dad loved all his grandkids. He became much more talkative after he retired and most of what he had to say involved stories of his grandchildren. He was proud of them. He enjoyed them. I think his smile was bigger when he was with them.

 Ayden Jane came on the scene not too long before the Alzheimer's began to accelerate. The Marine, loving father, adoring grandfather and ultimate protector/provider saw the fighter in this little one. He delighted in her, I'm sure prayed for her and somehow bonded her to himself in a special way.

As the years passed, Ayden Jane grew stronger and fought off PWS as grandpa weaker and struggled more. She began to care for, worry about and pray for him. She enjoyed the last church service he was able to attend.

At the memorial service today, there was opportunity for family and friends to come and share. I told Ayden Jane that opportunity would be coming but did not speak with her about what she might say. She told me she has something to share but didn't want to tell me what. So when it was her turn, Noah helped her with the microphone ect. (and I held my breath because, well, who knows what Ayden Jane might say)  She proceeded to tell everyone that she enjoyed spending time with her wonderful, wonderful grandpa and said a few other things about how he remembered all of us, I couldn't quite hear. Then she proceeded to recite John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, He gave his one and only son that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life.

Yep, that sums up what Grandpa would want everyone to know.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Oh Summer

Today's activities were brought to you by summer. At 8:30 Ayden Jane and I went running. It was and easy run, but she rocked the pace. She is doing GREAT. The neighbor kids have joined her on her mission and even though they can't really keep up, all are having fun and Ayden Jane is very motivated by having them join in the fun.

After a bit of cleaning and summer assignments, we ventured off to the library. That sounds all mellow and calm, but when Ayden Jane and I go to the library, we bike there. It is a bit over 4 miles. Her friends wanted to come to so I grabbed a backpack filled it with 3 water bottles, pumped up a few tires, sent Ayden Jane back home for shoes (that's a recurring summer theme...) and off we went. 

It was truly an adventure. Ayden Jane can really go and she was our leader. I know, that sounds a bit frightening. She honestly did a great job though. She has learned how to slow down as she approaches driveways ect and of course, stops at true intersections. One of her friends was right on her heals and the other was lagging... a lot. So I took third slot, and kept my eye on the leaders and tried to be the link with the lagging one. I will be honest, there were a few tense moments as the leaders got a bit far ahead ect... But all in all they did great.

We got home in time for a late lunch and just before the thunderstorm came crashing down. The kids played inside until it was time for Ayden Jane to go to swim team. That's right. She followed up her morning run, bike ride to the library with swim team practice. Oh how she loves summer. The evening included playing with Noah, walking and washing the dogs and a rousing game of jenga with Dad. The grand finale was reading one of her hard earned library books before bed. 

Whew. Asleep around 9:30 but we all know she will be back up at 6:00 ready for action! But will I?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Soccer Camp

Ayden Jane has completed her first official full week of summer.

In summers past, Noah has coached soccer camp and a few of AJ's friends attended. Ayden Jane tried it once most summers but abandoned ship in about an hour.

This summer she started talking about soccer camp weeks before school was out. She was determined she was going for the whole week and was very excited. Day one came and I was not quite as optimistic, but figured it was worth a shot. Guess what, she stayed the whole day and could not wait to get back to it on Tuesday! On top of that, there was plenty of beach and pool time after soccer camp hours so the kid was going really, really hard.

I'm not saying the she was a super soccer player, or that she even played hard the whole time. She did, however, not get overwhelmed and had a great time. She was excited to go every morning.

Week two of summer will start up our running plan. Since we could not find a race to train for that timed out as we needed, I told Ayden Jane that if she completes the running plan then we could go do something fun of her choice. We will still run with Dr. Miller in November but this is to try to use the summer months to build strong legs and a some endurance.

Swim team also kicks in this week with 2 practices and the first meet of the summer on Thursday night. In some ways her swimming is really coming along, but in other ways (including speed) it's not really improved much. We shall see...

Sunday, June 5, 2016


I have no idea how it is June already. The end of the school year always seems to ramp up the level of busy and stress - good stress - but none the less stress. It's just a flurry of excitement and celebration.

We do have a lot to celebrate as far as school. Ayden Jane's last nine weeks was her best and she had all grades in the 90's. She was so proud of her honor roll certificate and the accomplishment. I can honestly say that this year, we took the hard line as far as grades for AJ. She got exactly what she earned, and she earned them without the need for academic support in the special needs classroom. She started the year still a bit behind the other students in a few areas, but finished the year right on par. Writing is a great example. She struggled with even the formation of the letters and spacing of writing at the beginning of the year. It was very hard to read and very hard for Ayden Jane to do. By the end of second grade her handwriting looked like a different child's handwriting. It comes fast as she is writing and spacing is much more natural to her.

I did not realize during the time, just how stressful the end of year is for her. I mean she loves it and all the May Fest and end of year parties and thank yous and homework free nights... but it is had her wound pretty tight.

Ayden Jane loves school so when she asked if she had to go the last 2 half days I said no. She had already completed her work, had her end of year party, awards ceremony... She was done. For the kid who has perfect attendance most every quarter, to ask to stay home really says something.

The last day we went to the beach and she played in the ocean for hours. Wore herself totally out, had a mini melt down and slept. And slept.

On Saturday, Noah took her to Ripleys Aquarium as a sort of end of year treat, although mostly because he just hasn't had a chance to hang out with her since he has been home. Mckenna went as well and the all had a great time. It was so freeing for me because they drove off and I knew I wouldn't get a call, she wouldn't come home with something else to do, I didn't need to worry about food, I wouldn't have to watch the time so I could pick her up... Noah had her.

So here is to the first official days of summer break. Lots of beach/ocean time, pool time, playing and sunshine. Ahhhhh.... just feel the relief.