Golden Baby turned 28 this week, and his birthday was on the same weekday on which he was born.  I don't know how often that happens, given leap years, but it brought back a lot of memories.  Here he is in the shirt I gave him, which goes well with his ref uniform, and here are some other photos of the week.
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My sister organized a housewarming party for two women in our family who are not yet in their homes, but close.  The first was for her daughter in-law, who got not only a surprise batch of gifts (she thought we were meeting at Mom's house to get ready for the other party) but also a job!  She and my nephew are buying a house from my brother, who bought a house to restore and resell.  It is up the road from us about 1/2 mile.  My nephew's wife is from France  and just got a job teaching French at a local prep school, beginning in January.  Here she is receiving her gifts while my brother in-law and niece look on (my nephew is actually in France so he wasn't here for the party):
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The second surprise was for my brother's girlfriend.  This is our second brother, and after all the decades of living that he has done (ha-ha), he has probably at last found what we always wanted for him-a practical woman.  They bought a house that was once the Settlement House, then became my great uncle's house, and had been through all types of changes-a fire, a renovation, additions galore.  Anyway, they pretty much gutted it and started over.  It sits on the hill above my mother's house and looks out over the pond.  Here she is getting her gifts:
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Here is  Aidan, first at the party and then playing outside with his Craftsman tools.
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And we got in a lot of playtime this week.  Wednesday was a snow day.  RB came over for the day but when Pretty Baby came to get him, her driveway wasn't plowed, so both he and MB came back to play some more.  Then last night she had her Christmas party at work so they came back again.
 
 
I have a very early memory of being at my grandmother's house on Thanksgiving Day.  We were leaving to go home for Thanksgiving, so I don't know if that means that when I was small we would have two meals, or if we were just there getting or having pie.  My grandmother made both chocolate cream pie and mincemeat pie, so we might have been there to get a pie for my father-I'll have to ask older members of the family if we ever ate there. 

My grandparents were born in 1883, 1891, 1894 and 1897, so this grandmother was the only grandparent alive when I was born and she was 70 then.  She lived next door to us-I grew up in my great grandparents' farmhouse, called The Old Plantation-we could literally walk through the pasture to my grandmother's house.  Any time that I smell fresh baked bread, homemade soap, peonies, lilacs, or apple blossoms, I think of her.  Any time that I hear a rousing gospel song, I think of her.  When winter nights are filled with the smell of wood smoke, I think of her. 

She was a very tall woman, almost six feet tall, and at night when she got ready for bed she would take down her coronet of white hair and kneel beside her bed to say her prayers.  Her hair touched the floor.  She wore a flowered wrap-around apron, the kind that covered your top and bottom, and I loved her hugs.  She played the piano but could only remember a couple of hymns by heart.  Her television was only plugged in two or three times a year, when she knew that Billy Graham was going to be on. 

Her "settin" room was unused, and all socializing was done at the dining room table.  She kept aluminum cans, washed out, in a storage area beside her kitchen window seat, a window that was framed with the longest English ivy I ever saw.  We would take the cans out and stack them like bowling pins, then play bowling on the kitchen floor, which was a trick because there was a hump in the middle of the floor so you had to really get your roll down to hit the cans. 

She and I would spend hours together making scrapbooks and ornaments for missionaries and the children they cared for, and we made patchwork quilts and rag rugs.  Grammie had playing cards in the drawer-Crazy Eights and Go Fish, stuff like that-and coloring books and crayons with them.  Every week or so she made homemade doughnuts and we got to help.  Every week she made homemade bread and sent a pan of rolls over to my father.

I am so thankful for having had this woman in my life.  Her name was Ruth.  My little sister is named for her.

Now I hope to be as good a grandmother as my own grandmother was.
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Aidan's Thanksgiving Day decoration

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We all ate at separate houses, and then Pretty Baby brought over the pie.  She made blueberry for G and apple for the rest of us.  Her favorite is pumpkin.  My favorite is custard.  Pie is one of those things, isn't it, where everyone has a different favorite?  Pretty Baby is great at making pies! 

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Our daughter in-law and first daughter, above, with MB; our son in-law and first son, below with Aidan and RB
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The little cousins playing together.  MB is two months younger than BB, so he will end up a year behind him in school due to birthday cut-offs, and three years behind his brother even though they are just over two years apart.  It is such an arbitrary thing-when we were young they would have been in the same grade together.
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Today I got MB to myself for a while.  He is such a sweet baby, easy to love and easy to watch.  He smiles just like his mother when she was little, has a thick head of hair like her, but his eyes remind me of his aunt every time I see him.  Overall, he bears a strong resemblance to my three biological children. 

I am sure that when Aidan has children, I will be looking for features and expressions that remind me of him as well.

 
 
Aidan came home on Halloween night, 2008.

He had no idea what he was in for.  We could not have asked for anything more.

Here are the boys and Little Baby-dinosaurs, Avatar, Mickey Mouse, and goth.
 
 
So much to tell.

Yesterday was our final social worker visit.  We are hoping to have our homestudy updated by our current agency/social worker as well, but since they are phasing out the adoption program in our state, we have to wait and see if they will do this for us first (they will still do adoptions in the other states they service).

On Sunday Aidan said he was having a hard time eating because his tooth hurt.  He showed it to us, and he was wiggling it all over the place.  Yesterday it fell out and right now he is sleeping on a dollar bill just waiting to be added to his savings-he got a cute little wallet of his own on our family trip to Maine and loves using it.
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Let's see; what else?  Pretty Baby and her husband had their fourth wedding anniversary within the last week.  Golden Baby's wife had her birthday.  G had his birthday.  And MB had his birthday, turning one.  Enough, already?  Check out the centerpieces that my creative daughter made for the tables at her son's birthday party.
One of the pictures needs explaining.  That's the one of MB and his cousin BB.  BB isn't used to playing with other kids, so when I found them together on the step and saw MB trying to get his head at just the right angle, I knew a bite was coming and stopped them.  BB didn't understand.  As soon as I got MB to stop, he then offered his hand and then his index finger to MB, still not knowing that a bite was what MB wanted.  So he probably left the party wondering why his grandmother had a problem with that, since I stuck around until MB's biting impulse passed.
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We have a 70% chance of mixed precipitation forecast for tonight and again on Friday.  I hope that this is just Squaw Winter and not the real season coming on, but we have to prepare just in case.  So we did some fall clean-up today and G is going to use the grill tonight so that we can get one last gasp of fall in.

At school, our district has been granted permission by the state to pilot a "blizzard bag" program.  We have the largest geographic district in the state, so the weather can be completely different on one end of the district from the other-requiring a snow day for half but not the other, or requiring a snow day on half and an ice day on the other.  What it means for us is that three "snow days" will actually be school days where the kids and teachers work on-line or, in the event of no online access or multiple kids in one house needing the computer, kids work out of a "blizzard bag" which will hold lessons in hard copy.  We had a meeting scheduled for October 28 to firm up these plans, but it looks like we could need to fast-forward them.  And, of course, we will have more than three snow days total, but three can be used for this.  Ice-outs like last year, where two of our schools lost power for over a week, will be true snow days without blizzard bags in use.

Aidan's school will continue to have the traditional snow days if necessary.  He is going back to school tomorrow after a normal three day weekend (normal in the sense that he was awake and slept normal times, and ran no temperature).
 
 
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Aidan has been sick since last Monday.  That day he came home, climbed into his sleeping bag, and promptly fell asleep.  We figured he was tired after the family weekend.  But he did pretty much the same thing on Tuesday and Wednesday, then ran a fever Wednesday night.  So he stayed home from school on Thursday, still had a fever that night, stayed home Friday and went to the doctor.  The doctor said he could have mono; if not, he has a virus like it, and the treatment is the usual rest, fluids, Tylenol thing.  He is sleeping about 16-20 hours a day.  He also had a rash on his knuckles, but that has gone.  The fever has gone.  The fatigue has not.  He has had two normal days-Sunday and today-

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Our annual family retreat is one of those great times unless you are the planner and money collector-I was both-and get to listen to everyone complain ahead of time and for the next couple of years about what was wrong with the place.

However, here is what was good about it this year:
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Watching a hydroplane landing with my fifth brother

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On the riverboat cruise with my third brother, to the right, and with my sister's husband, above

 
 
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Here is Aidan making tracks for the gravel pit, above, and he and my sister's dog trying to scale the hill, below.
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Enjoying my sister's hospitality, above, and her daughter in-law (he just adores her), below.
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My eternally upbeat and energetic sister (13 months younger than me); my footprints in the sand.