Thursday, November 21, 2013

"We Just Love Aiden"

This is how most parent-teacher conferences begin for me.

"We just love Aiden."

"Aiden is the sweetest boy."

"He gives the biggest hugs."

I have come to dread parent-teacher conferences. With Aiden's early developmental set backs with speech, followed by concerns about his space perception and attention span - leading to the discovery of his Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) being linked to his inner-ears, affecting balance, hearing and attention span. This is just always a tough thing. Sitting with his teachers, who see him often and know him well, and hearing that he's not quite where he needs to be, or something new is wrong. It's exhausting being that parent.

This year, things went a little differently.

After explaining to me how much they love Aiden, they began telling me about how much Aiden loves his Mommy. I find it difficult to be sharing this without tearing up a little, because that day, I really needed nothing more than to hear that, and it warms my heart to be able to share it with everyone else. Aiden talks about his Mommy, all day, every day at school. About painting and cooking and bowling and reading the Wizard of Oz and about what a terrible singer his Mommy is.

As per the usual, we went through his evaluation task by task. He can pick out all numbers 1-25 from random order and organize them. He has a mastery of writing his upper case letters and can pick them all out at random from memory. He writes his name, beautifully if you ask me. Aiden understands past tense, present tense, all of his verbs and adjectives agree with his nouns and subjects and proper nouns.

While his teachers are very aware of his *slight* obsession with the littler girl in the next class, they are in total agreement that he is a happy kid, with a positive outlook and a bright social demeanor. He especially loves to sing the peaches song to his teachers...

We sing this song while we cook at home and often while we eat - as it turns out, I do this terribly, he has only been sparing my feelings. 

After he drew and then cut out all of his shapes for his evaluation, he asked his teachers for more because they were too easy. One of my personal favorite tid-bits - after naming the colors for his teachers, they asked which is his favorite...the rainbow.

As far as his attention span goes - the diet is helping drastically. He has trouble following multiple directions at once but he is paying attention and he wants to learn, like a regular four year old boy.

Helping the banker count the money.

Helping Mommy organize promo stuff.

Waiting patiently while his ball rolls all the way to the end.

Happy kiddo.

The very next week in class, Aiden received an award for following all of the teachers' directions, right away. It was a noisy award and it gave Mommy a couple head aches, but for a good cause. 

The next day after that, he received another award. This one was a certificate which now hangs on our refrigerator. Aiden had his teachers in tears when he calmed and comforted a classmate who was upset.

My heart beams. For those of you who have read The Help, Aibileen nurtures the love and self esteem in Mae Mobley who is somewhat neglected by her own mother. Every night, and when on occasion Aiden claims that something is "all my fault," we tell each other, "Aiden is kind. Aiden is smart. Aiden is important."

When I heard what Aiden had done for one of his friends at school, I could almost imagine him telling his friend, "You are smart, you are kind, you are important."

It's easy for me to get so busy trying to take care of Aiden that I forget how much he does to take care of me - he feeds my soul with his silliness and he heals my heart with his love. So, I have started doing all sorts of things to help fill in the tiny places in his day where he might not know I am thinking about him with reminders of that.

I started off pretty rough.

But I have definitely gotten the hang of it!

No matter how crazy things get for the holidays, it's most important that Aiden knows I am thankful to have him and that there is no greater joy in my life than to see him turning into a boy that I respect and admire and love. From his waxed poetic vocabulary about boogers to the tiny little fuzzies between his toes that his stinky socks leave behind.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Just Keep Swimming!

Remember when I said I wanted to spend more time hanging out with Aiden than writing about him, we're there. And we are so busy that it seems nearly impossible to squeeze OutNumbered in anymore, but I am still trying.

So lets play catch up.

Aiden's school did a coupon book fundraiser. Typically, I tell the school (under my breath and no where near the school itself) to 'eff off' when they ask for additional money from me. This time around though, I didn't turn my nose up at it because we all know I am a sucker for a book (of any kind clearly...maybe it's time to get some help??). In all seriousness, there was some stuff in it that was kinda cool and I felt we could definitely get our money back from it so I got one and offered it to a couple other people. The more that people showed interest, the more I thought, "Hey! Aiden should be selling these, not me!"

So I made him cold-call everyone to offer them a book, and I sold a few at work. Not thinking much of it, we turned his orders in and handed out the books. A couple days later, there was a school wide email naming Aiden as the top coupon book salesman with a prize gift card to Tony's (our newest obsession).

He was so excited when I told him and beaming from ear to ear, so thanks to any readers who bought a book! Also, you should know that when I asked Aiden what he wanted to buy from Tony's, he asked if he could buy pumpkins to share with his class!! *Insert image of mother beaming with pride* I made that. I did that. He's mine.

Aiden has also started swim lessons, privately with an old school mate of mine. And he loves it, he loves her - they get along swimmingly! Sorry, had to...

Sure, he swims a ton at the lake and at home, our pool is heated and open year round but he always uses his life jacket and refuses to jump in - mostly because of his Sensory Processing Disorder, getting his face wet and his ears under water is harder for him to handle. So the private lessons are hopefully to help him in an actual swim setting: going under water, in a pool, jumping in, submerging and getting re-orientated, etc.

He loved it! He got his ears wet, did laps, floated on his back, whole thing! And the best part is, it totally tuckered him out.

He is going to do at least two more weeks of lessons and then we will decide if he wants to keep going. I am sort of thinking Karate might be more enjoyable for the winter and then hopefully he will want to start back into swimming again in the spring.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ducks, Cooking, Art Camp

I have no thematic title for this one, sorry. Miscellaneous Aiden Adventures??


We constantly have a surplus of bread in our house - note, I keep it in the fridge so it's good past the expiration date (I assume?? Can anyone assure me of this??) - but eventually it just gets stale because more often than not, my taste buds want something fried and greasy and topped with cheese for lunch.

So when it goes stale, but not moldy, we take it to the duckies!!

Last time we did it, we got rained out! Luckily, we were at Clement Park which is home to the Jeffco Public Library so I decided to take Aiden in there and see if he wanted anything.

He wasn't much interested in the books, mostly I think he was overwhelmed. But he liked the magazine racks in the kid's section.

When it became clear he was never going to pick a book, I suggested a movie. Of course he wanted a Mummy movie!

As we were leaving, I spotted a new book from one of my favorite authors on the staff picks shelf and snapped it up - Aiden scolded me and said, "You don't need a book, you  have lots at home."

But the books at the library are FREE, some day he'll understand my habit.

Speaking of habits, Aiden has taken up cooking this summer!

He started out as a little kitchen helper measuring ingredients and stirring mixtures. He graduated to helping at the oven and stove (with lots of supervision and help of course).

Yesterday morning he made his own scrambled eggs from start to finish!!
Mommy is liking where this is headed!

Besides culinary skills, we have also been feeding Aiden's inner artist this summer. He went to an outer space themed art camp at the Denver Art Museum in July and absolutely loved it!

There were 20 kids total, and only 4 of them were boys, of course Don Juan was in heaven with the ladies...

Showing the girls a thing or two about coloring inside the lines...

He brought home space ships and aliens galore!

And my most favorite art piece...

That's right, my kid spells AND writes his name. Genius. Can not be denied, he's on his way to med school!

I kid, I kid - I'm just so happy to see him flourishing and growing. He loved art camp so much that I decided to send him for one more week before school started. Seeing him with new kids and bringing home all the projects and just really turning into such a well-rounded kid...priceless.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Learning New Things

Aiden is back to school! And in Pre-K - is this really  happening?!?

The little dude is getting so smart that I can hardly stand it! We tried to do a United States of America puzzle a couple nights ago, and it turned out that he didn't need me hardly at all. I think I showed him where 5 states  go.

While I was totally astonished, I was also relieved. At Back-To-School-Night, his new teacher was talking about geography and what they'd study so I thought, "Great! He's ahead of the curve!" Then she clarified that geography would include one new country a week. Holy smokes, this kid is growing up way too fast!

And socially, he is remarkably in tune with his feelings and peers. He saw his little girlfriend in the hallway before school started and I told her how much Aiden missed her this summer. Her mom replied that she talked about him non-stop all summer too! Unfortunately they are in different classes this year, but when she went into her own room Aiden was very attentive to what was happening.

He put his hands right on his hips and said, "Mommy, where is Christina going?" So I told him about how they would be in different classes this year and that they would still play together plenty. Immediately he asked, "Are there other boys in that class room?!" I giggled a bit and said, "Yes, there's lots of boys and girls in every class Aiden."

So we went in to his classroom and he started rough housing with one of his buddies. I started to leave and he came running to the door, I thought to give me one more hug, and dashed past me to the other class room. He poked his head in and back out then told me, "I was just checking on Christina."

We're going to learn lots this year, both of us.

Last night on a family walk to the park, Aiden was asking about "the heart." He kept saying, "tell me about the heart." So I covered the basics. It's a muscle, it pumps your blood all over your body to keep everything working and because of the different chambers that hold and push out blood, it makes that, "Lub-Dub" sound that you hear at the doctor's office with the stethoscope.

He seemed fairly satisfied by this response and let it go at that. But I kept thinking about it. I should have said more, there's important pieces I forgot. All evening I was bothered by this. Even after I put him to bed. Luckily for me, he didn't go to sleep right away (shocker!) -  he sat up for a while saying, "I'm not tired, I don't want to sleep."

So I climbed into the tent with him and asked if I could snuggle. While we snuggled, I whispered, "Mommy has to tell you something."

"What?!? What is it? What's wrong?"

So I proceeded cautiously.

"When you asked Mommy about the heart tonight, I didn't tell you everything. I forgot the most important parts!"

He was worried of course and started inquiring about "the blood" and "the muscles" and I told him that all that is very important, but there's an even more important thing that your heart does for you.

I told him, "Your heart is where you keep your love. All the people that you know, some that you haven't met yet and even some of the ones you might not see again - they're all safe and sound in your heart. And your heart does something even better than keeping them all safe, it tells you the truth no matter what."

I remember being told when I was little, that if your heart has wings you will never be lost.

So I told Aiden, "No matter what happens, this year, this week, your entire life, always follow your heart."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Summer Break Part II

Alright, where did we leave off???

Oh yeah, it was Father's Day and Aiden was having ice cream.

Like I mentioned, sugar has been nixed at home - but this doesn't stop his Grandpa's sweet tooth one bit. Aiden and Randalicious go for a treat after school at least two days a week and probably more, recently.

If you have ever heard me talk about why I work so much, you have most assuredly heard the rant about the cost of Legos. And the set-up of the stupid Lego store which is such that you have to pass all the cool packages of current pop-culture trend related play sets in order to get to the cheap(er-mildly...) Legos in the back. Ugh...I digress.

Anyway, my point is. Aiden likes Legos, they are expensive, so is practically everything else - new shoes for rough and tumble boys, bigger clothes for growth-spurt-prone kids, etc.

So Aiden gets a little extra time with Randalicious while I work odd promotions, in odd places. Most recently, I found myself in the middle of no where North Platte, NE - whose claim to fame is Buffalo Bill, and that's about it. While walking around the "museum" (it was really a giant gift shop with a Buffalo Bill statue) trying to find a souvenir for the Bubba, I spotted a bag full of plastic horses and wagons and thought - Perfect! It'll do...

Aiden was so happy just to hear that he got something that he didn't care what it was...


And then we opened it up...the world's most offensive toy.

At least most of the red colored pieces are cowboys right??

He loves it, of course... but mostly only plays with the wagons and boats now, though it didn't take him long at all to figure out Cowboys & Indians.

Aiden has been getting a lot of play time with new kids this summer too! Stand by for the "Art Camp Blog" - anyway, he went to his second cousin Sebastian's birthday last month. The two of them are almost exactly 6 months apart - Aiden being older - but the closeness in age definitely shows! 

Sebastian's party was pirate themed, right up Aiden's alley, and it was all sorts of running around crazy - thank God my kid isn't the only one who wants to do only this, all day, everyday.

Waiting to hit the pinata...

Takin a swing...

Playing in the bouncy castle with the boys

Showing off his pirate sword!

Hope everyone is having at least half as much fun as this kid is this summer!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Break 2013 Part I

Holy cow! Does anybody else feel like the summer is just flying by? It simply isn't fair. I haven't had hardly enough time to play with Aiden in the pool and even less time to write about him! I have so many funny stories and updates and pictures, but my OCD self will not let me tell them out of order.

So from the beginning of Summer Break 2013

We've been trying to get out and do at least one special thing every weekend together. Like a movie, a museum trip, a picnic, etc. We started by mini golfing....

This was Aiden's first time mini golfing, and he requested that Uncle Nik and Sam come with us. And naturally, when he cheated THE WHOLE TIME, it didn't bother anyone...

He was really captivated by all the props and statues - but we are going to have to work on his golf etiquette since he just kinda wandered to and from which ever holes he wanted.

We got to do a little hiking up Coal Creek Canyon to see the "Tree House"

Stopping along the way to look at the art in the woods and picking up sticks.

Then chasing Mommy with the sticks.

Aiden also made sure that Mommy wore lots

and lots....

and lots of sunscreen. 

He is getting to be so grown up, and often pretending he is the parent and I am the child. Fine by me...wonder when he'll start paying rent and doing laundry? A girl can dream :)

For Father's Day we had a really mellow BBQ at Randalicious' house - everyone ate way too much after promising to Aiden that we would all go to the park and play baseball on the REAL baseball field. So all of the food-comatose adults had to buck up and work it off.

Luckily, the rain gave us a reprieve and had us running for home after two quick innings in which only Aiden was up to bat.

He didn't seem to mind when we got home though because Aunt B & Uncle Dave brought more sugary goodness than he'd ever seen in his life to make ice cream sundaes with!

Since the start of summer though, Aiden's diet has really changed at home. I still allow him to have sugar at his grandparent's and other caregiver's houses. But at home we have pretty much nixed sugar and nitrates completely. Poor kid - his cookie jar is filled with granola. But, he is doing really well physically and behaviorally with the cut back on all that crap - so I can only feel a little bad that he doesn't have cookies and hot dogs at home hardly at all.

Since he's doing so much better, he is getting along great in summer camp and talks on and on and on about his guys friends these days. Christina (his little girlfriend) isn't in camp so he is just enjoying his little bromances. He even asks if he can have "So and So" or "Whatshisname" over to his house.

Such a sweet kid.

More Summer 2013 updates to follow.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Late Night Mommy Thoughts

Aiden and I are struggling. We have huge gaping swings between being the best of friends and the worst of enemies. We enjoy each other's company and we love having fun, but unfortunately it would seem that he has been getting away with certain behaviors and attitudes else where. Maybe because other caregivers feel bad for him or perhaps it is that he is simply charming but it is breeding terrible attitude patterns that I simply don't allow.

I remember when Aiden was learning to walk, talk, sleep, eat, etc. Every one of those things felt like the hardest thing in the world. And all I could do was be consistent and repetitive. I am doing the same thing now. I insist on "please" with everything he asks. I refuse to cave to the "need" for candy, sugar, snacks, etc. when he hasn't eaten dinner. I do not allow him to yell, throw, or hit me without the consequence of immediate time outs and loss of privileges. Remarkably, I am becoming more resilient to these issues and I remain resolved to see to it that he is a gracious, well mannered, generous, good kid - but holy crap.

How long does it take? I keep thinking that at any time it will all click for him. How easy it is to get what he wants when he is nice and says "please." Eventually he will realize that he never gets his way when he whines right!?!? RIGHT!?! At some point a light bulb will go off and he will just automatically help me without being asked, use nice words/use words not whining period, magically put one toy away before he gets a new one out...right?!?!

hopefully we'll get more stickers soon :/

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Another School Year Gone

Aiden has been enjoying Summer Break for a full week now, but he's been so busy that I haven't had a chance to share all the exciting progress and highlights from his school year...

That's a glimpse at his summer plans - like I said, just a little busy

When he finished up his actual school year at Abiding Hope, they sent home a file with some of his best work and accomplishments from the year, as well as a "yearbook" for him to keep.

 I can't believe how much he grew! He was barely over the "days of the week" in August, and in May be was to the top of the colors! And his hair is growing too! He insists he doesn't want it cut but we'll see how hot he gets this summer.

In his "portfolio" for the year, he had a self portrait from August. He knows at least that he has blonde hair and that McDonald's is his favorite food. Dinosaurs might be more of a learning interest now than a game but I had almost forgotten about how he liked to "play dinosaurs" so this was a really fun page to look at.

 They sent home a sample of "self-directed art" too. He might not be Picasso, but because he's Aiden, it has been deemed an instant classic in our house.

After Christmas time they asked what his favorite gift from Santa was...surprise, surprise we haven't forgotten about the Shake Shake Bridge!

They also inquired about his birthday party plans and the cutie-patootie continues to make my heart melt!!

One of his candid photos in the "yearbook."

His class picture. The teacher on the far left is his favorite - she had him last year too. In the front row, third from the left, dark hair and pink shirt is Christina. Aiden talks A LOT about this little girl...and in the front row, second from the right in a dark blue shirt is Anthony who Aiden says is his best friend ever. Mrs. Morrin on the far right, we are so utterly grateful for this woman. She really got things going for us in terms of OT for Aiden and learning development this year.

We celebrated the last day of school with a trip to the park and played for hours and hours! Racing, sliding, riding bikes, swinging and just getting into Summer-Mode in general.

I am so proud of how much this kiddo has grown this year. There have been some huge adjustments and major growing pains along the way, but we're doing so good - because we have each other.