Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Annie's All Stars

Quotes From the Kids:
Abegail on Election day: "What is President Obama going to do if he doesn't win?  Will he have to get a job, go work at McDonalds, 'I used to be President I don't know what happened?' do you want fries with that?"

Eman day after the election: Is Mitt Romney still rich?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Is It Monday?

Eman: Mommy is today Monday?
M: No, it's Thursday.
E: Is tomorrow Monday?
M: No, it's Friday
E: Then is is Monday?
M: No then Saturday?
E: Then Monday?!
M: No then Sunday.
E: And then Monday?
M: Yes then Monday.

E: Mommy is it Fall?
M: Yes.
E: And then Spring?
M: No then Winter.
E: Oh it's going to be cold.

Our former babysitter, Brian (the one who discovered the angel Myra Poppins) came over to give Eman some proper xbox competition.  Eman loved it and was so well behaved last night and this morning.  He said, "Mommy will you tell everyone what I good boy I was?"  I said, "Yes I'm going to broadcast it on the blog!"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Myra Poppins

We had just hired our 7th babysitter in two and a half years.  A man.  Even better a young man who had recently graduated from Lake Braddock High School after four years on the varsity soccer team.  Oh and he was African American.  Eman loved him!  Unfortunately for us he also coached a college basketball team and the practice times were changed.  So he called me one Saturday saying he could no longer work.
I texted Scott and said, "just one thing to do now, hope that Mary Poppins flies in with her umbrella and saves us all."
Scott texted back, (because of course we were at different soccer games) and said, "Ha, Ha, funny, but not really."
When I told the kids we had lost our sitter, Annie laughed.  "That's the fastest a sitter has quit, 2 weeks!"
Yes we were starting to look a little like Nanny McPhee where the kids in the movie tried to see how fast they could get a sitter to quit.  We had three sitters quit basically in the middle of their shifts out of frustration and four others who had jobs, college, or a host of other more important things come up.
But Brian would not leave us stranded, "I work with a woman, I think she will be perfect for you."
"Great, can she come meet with me Monday morning and start Monday night?"

In fact, Myra did agree to come meet me Monday morning.  I went into the meeting with the same enthusiasm I have for cleaning out the gutters.  Can you drive somewhat legally and get my kids to soccer somewhat on time? You're Hired!

But when Myra greeted me at the door, my attitude changed. "HI SUE!!" Myra said in a very cheerful, energetic voice.  Could Brian have sent me the black Mary Poppins??  Even better!
We chatted.  She had two grown sons, one with ADHD, "He asked a lot of questions growing up," she said.
"You are going to love Eman." I responded.
I asked her if she could start that night and in fact she could.  So, I started showing her around.  At the moment we had a fruit fly infestation from an old watermelon we had had sitting around three weeks earlier.  Translation: our home is so welcoming and fun not even flies want to leave.
I showed her the freezer and what she could cook for supper.  Frozen meals, pizza. Etc.
"hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm." said Myra, "My babies don't eat no frozen food."
Ok, I responded.  "I love to cook, I'll make them supper."
ok...I said.  I showed her a picture of each kid.  She looked at Abegail's hair.  "You want me to do her hair?" She asked.  "That would be amazing," I said.

So Myra started and after the first day and 'the best fried chicken ever,' the kids declared she was the best babysitter on the planet.   We are now in week three and Myra has almost gotten rid of all the fruit flies.  She also has helped with homework, done dishes, and asked politely if I would be offended if she cleaned the kids rooms and the sofa. "Yes I know it all smells like a soccer field." I said.  "Yes," she said laughing.
She's done both Eman and Abegail's hair.  Finally I admitted to her, "Thank you so much Myra, we were drowning."
"I know." said Myra.  "Don't you worry girl, I got your back."
Then Myra admitted to me, "You are an answer to my prayers, I just love those kids."

Who are you? I thought.  I mean I am the first to admit my kids are really tough.  I don't blame those sitters who quit on the spot one bit.  Did Myra really pray to God, "Please God give me some really hard kids who will take every ounce of strength I have and are always hungry."
And if she did pray that to God, then I have a suggestion.  Not that I'm trying to tell God how to do his job or anything, but maybe he should have an angel head up a Craig's list type of service in heaven.
Myra wants kids to take care of; ragged mother in Springfield in desperate need of someone who cares.
I think that would free up a lot of time if he didn't have to listen to those prayers and then he can go back to wars, poverty, disease, getting children to realize why they must go to church etc.

People have said to me, Myra is an answer to prayer.  I said, "I didn't even pray for her because I didn't know it was possible."

Abegail's soccer team is wearing pink socks at their games all through the month of October for breast cancer awareness.
Eman wanted to know why they were wearing pink socks.  When I told him it set this conversation into motion:
E: Am I going to get breast cancer?
M: No honey, it's very rare for men to get it.
E: What about other types of cancer?
M: You aren't going to get cancer.
E: What if I do?
M: We will get you medicine and you will be fine. (ok so I don't know that for sure, but I'm all about lying if it could comfort him and more importantly get him to stop asking questions)
E: But the cancer comes in October, how do you know I won't get it?
M: Oh no honey, cancer can come anytime...I mean.. you aren't going to get cancer in October.   October is just the month they raise awareness about it.
E: What's awareness?
M: To let people know about it so they can raise money for research.
E: What's research?
M: Where they find medicines for it and let people know about it.
E: I thought you said they had medicines and I would be fine if I got it.
the conversation is still ongoing....

And finally It's me Big Bird:
Eman's dear and first friend Hector moved in August.  Last weekend was the first time the boys got together in two months.  So what would you talk about in the car ride? Well of course you'd catch up on politics.
Scott is driving the boys and they see a lot of Mitt Romney signs. Here is the conversation he is overhearing...
"Mitt Romney wants to get rid of PBS kids and Big Bird."
"Yea, Big Bird costs a lot of money."
"You see how big and yellow he is?  He eats a lot."  (Translation Big Bird uses a lot of food stamps)
"I love Big Bird."  "I know me too..."

"Well hey, he also wants to take away women's rights"
"Yea, so they can't vote.  They will have no rights, and boys will be able to beat up girls."

"Barack Obama he just wants to keep things the way they are.  He doesn't want to do anything."
"Yea he just wants to sit in the White House and do nothing."
"Well except he has to approve those messages."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

3rd Grade

We only have pictures of the third graders this year, no 6th grade evidence, and as you can see Eman wasn't into posing.  But they all got to school and got home. In the Richardson house we mark that in the success column.   Eman said he only was taken to the hall to be talked to once.  But he did say, "Mrs. Cantu is so nice.  She told us all about her family and you know her life long dream was to be a third grade teacher.  That's what she wanted to do her whole life and now she's doing it."
Eman has had quite the adjustment coming home from Holland.  It had me thinking was the 12 days of calm energy in the house even worth it for this much of an upheaval when he got home?  But hopefully school will help him get back on track. 

Eman is obsessed with death.  He asks tons of questions all the time and at the end is always the same one.  "Will you die?"  Its the same conversation whether it's with me or Scott.
Here's a taste:
E: Mommy what color is Poison?
M: It depends
E: Will you die?
M: It depends.
E: My heart hurts.  Will I die?
M: No
E: Will I get heart cancer?
M: I've never heard of heart cancer.
E: Will I die?
M: No.
E: What happens if your house rocks, will you die?
M: It depends how much it rocks.
E: If the walls fall in, will you die?
M: You could die.
E: Do airplanes have horns?
M: I don't know
E: Well what if they don't and they run into one another, will you die?
M: It depends.

But Eman did have a nice quote I'm happy to share:
M: Eman did you miss spongebob while you were in Holland?
E: I missed you more

Another Quote from Eman:
We were talking about when we got him and Abegail from Africa.
E: It would be weird to have a family with only white kids.
(isn't it great he thinks we are the norm)

And more wisdom from Eman:
M: Eman get ready, we're going to church
E:  Why do I have to go to church?
When I die I will be with God all the time, why do I have to go see him now?
M: So he can get to know you and you can know him.
E: He already knows me.  When I get to heaven I'll just say, "Hi I'm Eman."
M: Fine, then I'll just say, "Hi I'm Eman's Mom."
E: Okay!  You know he can hear you right now.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Soccer in Holland

E-man and the boys have been playing soccer nonstop since arriving in Holland. On Friday, the boys got their first taste of professional soccer in The Netherlands.

For those of you that don't know, The Netherlands is known for providing the best technical training in the world.  They are very disciplined, precise, and tactical in their preparations.  We in the US are overly concerned with speed, strength, and size.  We treat soccer like we treat basketball, baseball and (American) football.  The Dutch however, know that soccer is more like chess than like other sports.  And they train on technique and strategy.

So on Friday the boys traveled to Leeuwarden for their first match.  They played SC Cambuur...and they played what we consider to be U13's.  The Dutch call them D2's.  Basically it means they're the 11 and 12 year olds playing in the professional club.  Our boys were 9 and 10.  Needless to say we were completely over matched...and the 0-15 score (It was probably more than 15 but I stopped counting) demonstrated that fact.  The Cambuur boys dominated.

We learned our lessons that day...whatever lessons we could glean from such a butt-kicking...and went on to Hoorn for the Hollandia International Youth Tournament.  These boys were also 12 and 13...but only a few were professional clubs - others were top level amateur clubs.

The boys started the day losing 1-5 and 0-5.  Then something awesome happened...they were leading the 3rd game 1-0 at the half...but ended up losing 1-2.  They had their confidence however.  The next game was fantastic!!  They won 3-2 on a last minute corner kick from E-man to his buddy Teddy.  It was a beautiful play and I hope to have video to post at some point.

The final game was tough.  They were losing 0-2 at the half...but after watching our boys fight their way back playing inspired football...we tied them 2-2 and finished the day on that high note!  Because of the point system used in this tournament, our boys finished 7th of 12 teams.  According to one of the best soccer stars in the world (see next paragraph), the boys "really embarrassed a couple teams" that day.  A high compliment from this man.

One of the off-field highlights of the day was looking across the field and seeing Ruud Gullit watching our match!  Again for those of you that don't know Ruud Gullit (pron: "Rood Goo-lit"), he was voted the best soccer player in the world twice in the late 80's.  He's Dutch...and played at AC Milan and Chelsea (among others) and coached at Chelsea, Newcastle, and most recently LA Galaxy.  He's a legend in the soccer world and E-man squared off against his 11 y/o son.  He was nice enough to pose for a picture with the boys after the tournament.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Tour of AJAX Stadium

We've been able to do a little sightseeing on our Soccer Tour.  On Tuesday, the boys got a tour of Ajax Stadium in Amsterdam.  Ajax is one of the top professional clubs in the world.  The stadium was incredible and the boys really enjoyed seeing what is possible if they work hard enough.

We got to go down to the field level...but not onto the field itself.  They had brought in these artificial lights in order to help the grass grow.  The stadium has a retractable roof and as a result, the grass doesn't get quite enough sunlight.

The boys also got their picture taken down there on the field.  Then they were able to go down to the locker rooms, the press conference room, and into the players lounge.  Pretty swank!!

I think E-man had a pretty good time.  The stadium really was amazing.  The 50,000+ seat stadium offers a "visitors section" that is protected by bullet-proof glass, and has nets surrounding it so that items thrown from those seats don't hit the fans down below.  Their rivalries are no joke!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


AUGUST 13TH, 2012
Jet lag…schmet lag!! We slept an hour on the plane and arrived in Amsterdam at 7am local time! Then we were off to the hotel to check in, eat lunch, get in a good run, and then it was time for training at the local club, Voetbalvereniging Schagen – or VV Schagen for short.
E-man had a great first day of training. He put on quite the show. Teamed up against some bigger, stronger (debatable), 12-year-old kids from the local club, E-man did a nice job of creating space and getting his (far too powerful for a 9-year-old) shot off.

The U15′s will play tomorrow and E-Man’s U11′s will continue to train until their first match on Friday. Until then…”Hebben een goede avond!”
You can see more photos and updates from E-Man by going to his Facebook Fan Page at https://www.facebook.com/EmanSoccer.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Getting Ready for Holland

Eman and Scott leave for Holland a week from Sunday.  I'm hoping Scott will give us regular updates through the blog.  We want to thank everyone who helped make the trip possible!

I'm headed to Holland and you helped make my trip possible so I want to say:
We are traveling from August 12th to August 23rd and will get the opportunity to train with some of the best soccer players in the world. Our coach has been preparing us for our trip.
Thank you for helping me get there!

Quotes from ANNIE:
We have been watching a lot of Olympics.
A: There's a country named Hungary?
M: Yes
A: You know there's also a country called Turkey.
M: Yes
A: Maybe Hungary should eat Turkey
M: There's also a country named Chile.
A: Wow, Hungary could have Turkey and Chile.

Another quote from ANNIE:
A: You should get one of those gold medals for being a mom
M: That's such a nice thing to say.
A: Yea, they should have a mom competition in the Olympics than you could go.
M: Unfortunately if Eman and Abegail had a say I probably wouldn't make the team.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What's Been Going On.....

Here is an update from about mid June to mid July, in the midst of my excitement about Annie's first swim meet, I forgot to include her awesome All Star Tournament.  Her team did great and in the fourth and final game, Annie scored a goal!
They appropriately called themselves the Superstars!
We missed the MUAA reunion this year, the reunion with the other families whose have adopted kids from the AFAA house.  But we participated through skype and while we had a hard time with audio, everybody speaks the dance language of Justin Bieber
We did get a reunion with A and E's cousin Martu who came to visit us for 10 days.  
 What's the first thing you do with your cousin when you haven't seen them in two years?  You give your hair a relaxer together of course!
Martu traveled with us to Rochester, here are the beautiful girls
 Annie turned 8 at Grandma's.  This is her birthday dance.
 Eman played with the hose, no update needed
 Happy 4th of July!
 Grandpa Chuck runs a race with Mommy
 Annie is still enjoying the swim team.  As you can see she has graduated to wearing a cap and goggles.
 She has swam the 25 meter backstroke at every A meet. 
On Monday's she usually swims Freestyle and now has started swimming breaststroke, just two more weeks left.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Annie's First Swim Meet

Warm Up
Getting swimmers ready at the Clerk of Course
Waiting to Go
 25 meter Backstroke, time: :29.57!  Yay Annie!  Way to go!

Eman's team wins 4x4 BRYC tournament

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hi My Name is Eman

Eman and Scott are headed to Holland in August.  His soccer coach played there professionally and he is taking the entire team to show them how the Europeans train and what it takes to be a professional soccer player.
The team can fund raise to offset some of the cost.  I have been avoiding this as much as possible.  I just didn't know how Eman would do selling to strangers and explaining discount cards that give you deals at local businesses for an entire year.  But with the deadline for the final payment fast approaching, I knew I had to get on it.
So today Eman and I headed to Wal Mart to do our selling.  On the way he asked questions that did not bode well for the experience, "Will there be toys there?'  "Will there be food?"  "Whats a card?"  "What is fundraising?"  I did a poor job of explaining and said the other mom who we were scheduled with would do a better job of telling him what he needed to do.  So I arrived like any parent would have at this point, with low expectations.
Eman was not shy.  He had no problem going up to strange people and he was very strong in his first line, "Hi my name is Eman."
We did do a little coaching, especially after one of the first people said to him, "I don't have any money."  And Eman replied, "what are you a hobo?" 
Uh, not how you get money out of people Eman, your response to everyone is Thank You!
One man asked if Eman knew where Holland was.  "No," he replied as if that would not affect the man's ability to purchase a card.  The man gave a nice donation. Map of Netherlands
After two hours Eman, was extremely tired.  He did not want to approach another person and when he did, the pitch was fast, mumbled and sometimes mixed things up like, "We are saving money for Holland,"  or "We are selling money for Holland."

But overall Eman was amazing, and raised more than a hundred dollars for his trip.  So maybe if the soccer thing doesn't work out, he can be a salesman.  Now to do this just 6 more times!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

I heart Eman

There are good teachers, there are great teachers, and then there are teachers who are so effective they can change a child, a family, and the outcome of a student.  Eman has brought us in contact with some of the most gifted teachers on the planet.

Last year, we were so impressed with Mrs. Gross, we changed our opinion on cloning and asked the principal if she could please put a copy of Mrs. Gross in the 2nd grade.  They did something better.  They gave Eman something rare in Elementary School, the coveted male teacher.  Don't we all remember Mr. Suzuki (sigh, Hi Tori's Mom, I miss you).

When I first met Mr. McGuire I was convinced Eman could take him out with a kick of the soccer ball.
Some of you may remember me going to open house when he matter of factly told the parents, this was a great class, they were going to have a great year, and we all had great kids.
That's when I politely raised my hand and asked if Eman had actually been attending?
Mr. McGuire is the author of all the happy notes.  There isn't anything bad, it's just how good is it.
His behavior charts that he sends home every week range from average, to good, to excellent.
(by the way for the first time Eman worked his way up to excellent this past week!)

Ms Shariff, Eman's new Special Ed teacher this year is equally as gifted.  Every time I see her she says, "he's doing well, don't worry, take care of yourself." in her middle eastern accent.  Where do they find these people?

So naturally when I was thinking of end of the year gifts, I was wanting to buy them each a new car.  That didn't really fit in our budget, so I asked Eman, "What do you want to get for Ms. Shariff and Mr. McGuire?"
He immediately responded, "I want to get them a t-shirt that says I heart Eman."
I said, "hmm, interesting, do you know that they heart you?"
He says, "yup," without a shred of doubt in his voice.
"How do you know?" I asked.
"Because I work hard in Ms Shariff's class and I have good self control in Mr. McGuire's class.  Haven't you been getting all the happy notes?" he asked stunned that I wouldn't already know all this.
"Yes, I have.  OK you're probably right.  Do you want your picture on the shirt too?" I said sarcastically.
"Yes, that's a great idea Mommy!"
"Then Mr. McGuire can wear it running," I say still thinking we aren't getting anywhere deciding this gift.

But then I talked to Scott, the out of the box parent.
"Hey if that's what he wants to give them.  We should let him.  He thought of it.  We should totally support how he wants to thank them."
OK, I'm slowly being convinced, they will get a good laugh, and they definitely won't get two of the same.  So after a lot of searching this is what I came up with:

Ms. Shariff will get something similar in a coffee mug. I wonder what Annie and Abegail want to get their teachers?

Mr. McGuire at field day