Avalon's Army of Angels
October 31, 2009
End of Soccer...Trick or Treat 2!
Today was supposed to be Ambrosia's last soccer game.  Supposed to be is key here.  Once
again, weather thwarted them.  Last night, Steve, (owner of I-9 sports) sent out an email
because he was concerned about the weather.  There was significant chance of rain, so Steve
came up with a plan.  If it was raining and cold, the games would be canceled, and trophies
would be given out in the basement of the church where our fields are.  If it wasn't raining, we
would play our last game, then receive trophies.  As it turns out, the fields were very wet, it was
frigid outside, and it was raining intermittently.  Game off, basement option on.

Grace Brethren church played host to our soccer community this season.  They allowed us to
use the fields behind the church as well as keeping the church open for restroom facilities for
the kids.  At the last minute, they were kind enough to even allow us to use a recreation
lounge in the basement for our soccer awards.  I publicly salute their efforts and applaud their

The room we used was PERFECT for our needs.  One half of the room had small bistro type
tables, ping pong tables and couches.   The other half had a small stage and chairs set up
theater style.  The kids were able to interact and play together,enjoying their last day with
each other.  Then when it was award time, we parents not only had a organized, easy-to-see,
place to sit, the kids got to go up on a 'stage' to get their trophies.  I count this as a case of
'accidental perfection'.  Since we were in a church - I might even entertain 'divine intervention'
- but I'm not sure soccer trophies are on His radar.

Ambrosia spent the afternoon with her new friend, Jasmine.  Much to my delight, Jasmine's
family wanted our phone number as much as we wanted theirs.  Jasmine is a sweet, funny,
engaging little girl, and she and Ambrosia have been thick-as-thieves since soccer started.  
Ambrosia wants to keep in touch and have play dates, but I was worried Jasmine's family would
think we were crazy for asking.  Turns out, Jasmine wants to be friends too.  Yay!  

While Ambrosia and Jasmine played with the other kids, Nick and I said a lot of "Thank Yous"
to the coaching staff.  I can not possibly do justice to these wonderful people.  First of all, I-9
sports is absolutely what I would have dreamed of for our first sports encounter...if I would
have known what to hope for.  We couldn't have asked for a better program, better coaches,
better ideals.  Steve, who owns I-9, believes that kids should have fun.  They should learn,
grow, and ENJOY their sports.  No pressure, no negativity, no Ugly...ever.  The entire system
is designed to encourage the children, help build their confidence, and teach them good sport
skills.  Steve preaches that there will be enough years for them to pursue the almighty college
scholarship if they want to...at this age, they should just be having
FUN.    I admire and
appreciate his entire intent.

As for Ambrosia's direct coaches, I swear the Almighty himself planned out this one.  There
were only two teams in Ambrosia's age division.  Both were 'coached' by Phil, an
ex-professional soccer player.  Each team had their own two parent coaches also.  Not only
was Phil amazing, but our parent coaches were beyond excellent.

Phil was an astounding combination of humor and ability.  He is endlessly knowledgeable, but
in a very accessible way.  His used practice techniques and drills that were fun, but moved the
kids' skills forward shockingly quickly.  He has a quit wit and never let the kids get away with
anything.  He could gird them on to run faster, try harder, move over...all while making them
giggle, or shoot him an "Oh Phil!" eyeroll.  He was masterful with the kids.  Because Phil acted
as the referee during the games, he never quit teaching.  As he followed the action, he would
intermittently offer advice or suggest things to the kids mid-action.  He might lean in and tell
one child who to go cover, then tell another one how to get away from their defender.  He was
smooth as silk and as funny as they come.  Phil was beyond a doubt, an answer to a heartwish
I never knew I made.  He made Ambrosia's first sports experience fun, interesting, and
educational all at once.  No coach has ever been a more complete package.  Phil, you are
PERFECT - don't ever change a thing!!

Donald was the main coach for our team, the Kickin' Fireballs.  (kids named themselves)  
Donald's son, Gabriel, was a player.  While Phil came up with the drills and practice ideas,
Donald and Julius' mom (whose name is escaping me) helped run the drills.  At game time,
Donald stayed on the field with the kids, running with them, shouting encouragements and
directing traffic so to speak.  The other coach stayed on the side lines for water breaks, ball
retrieval, and general cheerleading support.  We adored both of our parent coaches.  They
were kind, involved, attentive, and all-around great people.  

I spent the entire season being grateful for Donald's expertise and kindness, but today's
ceremony demonstrated how lucky we were to have had him.  The coaches presented the
trophies to their own teams.  They were given the opportunity to sipeak before they called up
the children, and to handle trophy dispersion any way they wished.  Donald spoke lovingly
about his team and the season.  He heaped praise on the entire team, and told them how
much fun he'd had, and how proud he was of all their hard work and accomplishments.  As he
called up each child he spoke about them personally.  He had honestly taken each of them to
heart.  He remembered tiny details and outlined their growth over the season.  He had funny
anecdotes about each of the players and always, always, ALWAYS...words of praise and
warmth.  No child was shortchanged, he gave each of them their time in the sun.  Donald, you
were TERRIFIC and we were blessed beyond words to have entered the soccer world with you.

Once all the trophies were handed out, we were pretty much done.  We said several more
thank yous and exchanged numbers with a few people, then we headed out to get ready for
Trick or Treat the Sequel!  Hee hee hee...

Rather than go straight to Annette's, we had to head home.  Our home health nurse had
called last night with concerns about the way the script was written for Avalon's PICC care, vs
how we were instructed to do it - so we were expecting a phone call from the weekend
coverage nurse.  The conflict was that we were only given supplies to heparinize the PICC
every day, no saline to flush before the hep-lock.  The weekend coverage home health nurse
happened to be the one we had when Avalon had her PICC as a toddler.  We were kind of
excited about her possibly having to come over. As it turns out, we didn't get that lucky.  Since
we don't push any meds through the PICC, protocol says we don't need to flush it.  We merely
need to heparinize it daily to keep it viable.  Rats, we would have enjoyed seeing Stephanie.  
She had left a voicemail explaining the specifics while we were at soccer.  Turns out, she was
bummed she didn't have reason to come visit too.  

Grammo and Pappo had come to soccer to cheer for the last game.  Unfortunately, they
arrived on time for the game, which normally starts after 30-40 minutes of practice.  They
would have been good if we were actually playing, but sadly arrived just a few minutes after
Ambrosia got her trophy.  So, they came back to the house for a while to get in good kiddo
hugs before the insanity of Trick or Treat.

Not too long after G and P left, little Man passed out.  Hallelujah!  He'd been a bit cranky (I'm
being kind, he was a huge turd) so the nap was a slam dunk for us.  We called Nett and told
her that we'd be a bit late, because we didn't want to disturb the slumbering giant.  Having met
both sleepy Anam and well-rested Anam...she quickly opted to change dinner plans in lieu of
hosting the second option at her house.  Sleepy Anam is a picklehead.  

Anam's nap went on long enough, we ended up racing the clock to get to Annette's before
Trick or Treat.  We pulled up with a mere 2 or 3 minutes to spare!  With my munchkins all
chomping at the bit, we unloaded, organized our posse, and headed out faster than you can

Our original attack formation included Grammo, Daddy, Mommy, Aunt Nettie, Callie (Nett's
dog) and the three little ones, Ambrosia, Avalon, and Anam.  (Aurora missed all the fun
because she was at a school dance with her friends.)  We left Pappo and Uncle Darby behind
to get the fire started (in the portable fire pit) and to pass out candy.  Man oh man, my sister's
house was a slam dunk for any kids who made it there.  Nick and I took candy (I don't think you
should receive, if you don't pass out), Nett and Darb had candy, and mom and dad brought
their candy since they chose to come here and be with the kids.  It was a threefer!   

As in years past, and in sharp contrast to our own neighborhood, the entire Trick or Treat
evening was GLORIOUS!  Nearly everyone was sitting outside to pass out the candy.  Heck,
most people were even in the driveway, to save the little people from having to go all the way
to the door.  Several houses had firepits like we did.  Best of all, there were several houses
that were Halloween Wonderlands!  They had giant blow up figurines, glowing skeletons
emerging from the ground, light up bats and spiders that moved...spectacular!  In our pathetic
subdivision, our greatly-scaled-down display of a few light-up pumpkins, eyeball lights, and
Halloween music made us 'The Halloween House'.  In my sister's platt...we'd be labeled
'slackers' and barely worth stopping to see!  I've never been so tickled to be hideously

From beginning to end, the night was fun.  The kids marveled at intricately carved pumpkins,
lots of decorations, and oodles of SMILES.  Can you imagine?  People who smile as they pass
out candy.  People who are friendly, excited to see kids, and oh...
in the spirit.  Going house to
house was joyful, with no pushing, no shoving, no feeling battered, belittled or beleaguered.  
Yay Lantern Chase!  

Anam and Callie lasted for most of an hour.  Callie 'Hug or Treated' enjoying lots of little kid
pats and strokes.  Anam did his very best
Trick or Treat! , Tank you! , Happy Hayow-ween!!!s
tonight.  He's such a hoot.  He decided all on his own to start telling people "Happy
Hayow-ween" on Thursday night.  We were thrilled when he continued his friendly little
greeting tonight.  Anam was enthralled with everything Halloween.  He thinks the idea of
getting candy in a bag is fantastic.  Funny enough, he loves to GIVE candy away as much as
he likes being the receiver.  He loves the decorations, the costumes, the whole sha-bang.  The
only low point of this evening was someone with one of those stupid candy dishes with a
grabbing hand.  They insisted on holding it down to him, and before I could get there to stop
him, Anam reached in.  As the hand grabbed him, he shrieked and ran away crying.  Ha
ha...they succeeded in terrifying what had been a very happy toddler.  Oh boy, I hope they felt

Anam wanted to quit it all right then.  He's  very soft-hearted and scares easily.  Unfortunately,
he also has a long memory.  Anam had enjoyed Trick or Treat so much I didn't want his last
memory of it to be fearful.  We tend to focus on the last part of anything we experience, and
this time, it would have been rotten.  So big, bad mommy made Anam try a few more houses,
until he wished someone
Happy Hayow-ween again, then I knew he was OK.  Once Anam was
officially pooped out, he, Callie, Daddy, and Grammo headed back to Nett and Darb's.  The
rest of the fun was left to the 'big girls'.  

The very best decorated houses were long after Anam was back at the house helping to pass
out (and eat!) candy.  While he would have loved the blow up things, I'm kind of glad he
missed the houses.  After his incident of terror with the skeleton hand, he wouldn't have been
terribly fond of the myriad of dancing and glowing skeletons we came across.  

The only other down side to the night was the amount of attention people paid to Avalon's
wheelchair.  She has LED lights on the wheels, which glow spectacularly on dark suburban
streets.  While people did often mention Ambrosia's light up treat bag, the fact is comments
ran 20 to 1 for Avalon to Ambrosia.  It had happened at home too, its understandable, but
hard to take as a big sissy.  I explained to Ambrosia that people focus on and comment on kids
in chairs because they think they're being extra nice to the 'special' child.  While its far
preferable to the idiots that run her over, make us off-road to get around them, shove past
her, or nearly make her fall out of the chair...it's still hard on a bigger sissy.  

Ambrosia and I had lengthy chats about it.  I assured her she was the scariest, grossest
vampire queen there was.  I didn't have to lie either!  I did a good job with her 'pale/dead'
makeup (hey - who knew a college stage makeup class wouid ever pay off?).  Long after Trick
or Treat was over and Ambrosia was back in street clothes, she freaked me out every time I
looked at her!  As a cancer mom who is used to watching for cues of poor counts/illness, my
looked-like-she-didn't-have-an-ounce-of-hemoglobin, purple-eyed daughter freaked my stuff
every time I caught a glimpse of her.  Every time I flinched, she cackled.  Rotten little heathen,
she relished my squeamishness.  

For next year, Ambrosia and I are planning to make sure her costume is 10 times brighter than
Avalon's chair.  We know people will still comment on the chair, but we plan on making
Ambrosia so spectacularly bright, they won't be able to ignore her!  Sometimes, pro-active
head-it-off-at-the-pass parenting can trump retro-active apologizing.  Ambrosia is happy with
plans for next year, and, I hope, not too scarred by this year's events.  

Once Trick or Treat was over, we all headed inside to celebrate Grammo's birthday.  My mom
is a Halloween baby, so I'm one of the few people who can call their mother a 'witch' and get
away with it!  (she actually encourages it!)  We had Mexican night, baked apples and a fun
witchy cake my dad surprised her with.  I think Grammo had a good night, even though our
family had to delay giving her birthday presents.  Our gifts were on a 'theme' - and it wasn't fair
to leave out Aurora.  Hopefully, she'll like them enough tomorrow to forgive us!  

All in all, this was one spectacular day.  Hugs from new friends, a trophy, lots of praise, Trick or
Treating in grand style...and a Halloween birthday.  Who could ask for more?