Again looking to the left you will see something new added. Yes, the boys will be blogging while we are traveling! In preparation for our trip I created a blog for Matthew awhile back and he tested it out by writing one blog post. I will be having him blog as part of his homeschool work while we are overseas. It is great writing and keyboarding practice for him. I also thought it might prove interesting for others to get to know him a bit better, and to view this experience through a child's eyes.
Well Friday in the car the other boys were asking about what work they would have to do while gone, we all talked about Matthew's blog and his homework, and Kenny and Josh both wanted to write one too! "Fantastic!" I said "I'll create one for each of you and you can write too!". Who am I to stand in the way of the development of literary talent??? HAHAHA!
So, we decided the best way to do it was have them each write in their journals, then I will type it onto their blogs for them as neither one has any real keyboarding skills at all. I can also clean it up in terms of figuring out what the mystery words are, capitalizing it and punctuating it correctly so you all can actually decipher what they are saying. But the rule is I will type only what they write, I will not change words unless I discuss it with them because it makes no sense (i.e. run on sentences, etc.) and then they have to correct it somehow themselves. So what you will be getting will be 100% authentic Matthew, Kenny and Joshua. Your guess is as good as mine as to what might appear there...it could be superhero stories, complaints about the food, and maybe we will find tucked in between the silliness and boy-ness a little piece of their hearts. At least I am hoping so, and if not it will still be good practice.
At the moment there is only one post written on Matthew's blog and the other two have not yet seen theirs and will be surprised when I show it to them. Their last day of school will be Tuesday, so I will have them work on some items in the coming week or so and let you know when something is up so you can check it out if you'd like.
I was asked a few times recently what we are going to do for school for the boys, being gone so long. For Matthew we are taking along his math and grammar work books, and that is it for the hardcore stuff. Matthew is taking 12 novels to read, in addition to the 4 "Diary of a Whimpy Kid" series that I bought all of them as a special treat for the trip. He will likely read them alone and then I will sit with Josh and Kenny as they read it and help them. The other 12 are largely historical biographies including one on Genghis Khan, Ben Franklin, a history of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, William the Conqueror, etc. I thought it was so sweet when we were making our piles of books and he rushed back into the bedroom and brought out "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and said "Mommy, we can't go without this one, it is tradition!" so it too got added to the pile.
We are going to have them do a lapbook study (sort of a notebook with cut out folding things that are used to write facts on) on The Symbols of Christmas and that will require me to get busy myself and copy and cut out all the necessary pieces and parts and create the blank books for them but I thought it would make it feel more Christmasy to have that kind of fun learning project to do.
Of course now they will all be writing. Kenny and Joshie will have a lot of homework from their teachers who are kindly pulling it together for them, which I know is a big hassle. It might be a tad less since they will be gone over the Christmas holiday, so that should help...at least with the true school work. I am sure Dominick and I can come up with some things for them to do and sneak in some learning.
In addition this trip will be educational in ways others might not imagine, as long as we put a little effort into it. We are already discussing latitude and longitude and how time zones work. We have always had a globe around so they all 3 can easily point out their countries on a map, as well as Germany and where we are, but we will be talking more about where we are flying over. They all can already sort of read the arrival and departure signs but we will go into that in depth with all these flights. Then there is the currency we will be using and the exchange rates which they all will be working with (and that reminds me that a couple of little calculators might be good to bring along as Tenge can get into quite large numbers versus US dollars!). We also will go to the museum in Petropavlovsk and learn more about the history of the area. They all have been to the National Museum in Almaty already. And simply being immersed in the Russian language for a month or more will be a great experience too.
But the most important lessons might not be able to be measured as they explore their new relationship with their sisters, learn what girls are all about, discover what life in an older children's orphanage is really like and how it contrasts with their own lives now. What will this bring up for Kenny? Will this trigger anything for Joshua? Will we find ourselves knee deep in attachment emotions once again? How will Matthew process all of this as once again he is relegated to younger status in our family? What will the interactions between everyone be like? Much to think about, much to be aware of as parents, many opportunities for discussion.
Every once in awhile, I step back and can more clearly see why so many people think we are nuts. As I think about all of this to write here, I too am asking myself the question!! Hahaha! But somehow, it all manages to work out and trusting that God is in the midst of it all, even when it is painful, uncomfortable or down right sad helps keep it in perspective.
I realized something today which had been bothering me a bit. Up until today I have been pretty matter of fact about it all. After getting the call, just as I had once thought, we simply got to work. No tears, no real elation, just the knowledge of how much still lies ahead of us and that we have a lot to accomplish before boarding the plane. But what WAS it I was feeling? And I realized suddenly what it was...relief, pure and simple. Relief that we have actually moved on to the next stage and won't be getting anymore phone calls saying "We need to redo more paperwork." or experiencing unavoidable delays that add months to the process. It is actually going to happen after all, and though it doesn't quite feel real yet, I do believe it finally and the relief is overwhelming itself. Almost as if there is no room for other emotions until I let that one sink in. The joy and excitement can and will come later. But I'll tell you, I'll take "relief" any day over doubt.
I think that until this week I had still been holding my breath (and actually still am a little), wondering if that cute pink and yellow room was going to have to be painted over.
So we will move through this final week and a half, our living room floor will eventually reappear as bags are packed and set aside, and our hearts continue to stretch and prepare for the adventure that lies ahead. We will all go through so much this holiday season!! And instead of holding an ornament with precious and treasured names on it, we will be holding the real thing in our arms.
Wait...hold on a minute...did a teensy weensy bit of excitement suddenly pop up??? Can you all even begin to imagine the first picture together??? The first moments when every single person in the room realizes this is forever? Can you hear the giggles and laughter as brothers and sisters are united for the first time...after the awkward first moments have passed and kid language begins which requires no common alphabet?
Can you imagine for just a moment 2 little girls who for the first time in their lives learn that when adult says "I promise", they mean it...and they will never give up on them?
Please pray for us guys, pray for all the changes and mystery and wonder we are about to be witness to, pray for our safety, for our transitions, for Dominick and I as parents to have an enormous amount of wisdom, insight and sensitivity as we enfold 2 more into Team LaJoy. You've gotten us this far, but the hardest part is about to begin. And yes, the most joyous part as well. But we never allow ourselves to forget that this is not a fairy tale, no matter how it might seem to be on the outside looking in. These are real children with histories that are terribly tragic and they have to be prepared to have their lives changed forever...nothing will ever be the same...not the food, the sounds, the smells, the language, the faces. The courage it takes is beyond our understanding. Have you ever walked away with a stranger for the rest of your life, knowing you will be powerless to reverse the decision if it doesn't work out?
Whatever happens, I vow to be honest with you here. If it is hard, I won't sugar coat it. If it is great, we will all celebrate. Likely it will have lots of highs and lows, and we will all go through them together. After all, I'll need your suggestions and support as we take this new step...you've been there through a lot already and helped us make it through.
So I sign off tonight and hope to get some sleep, which has not been easy to come by. The next couple of days are our personal deadline to have most everything done so we can enjoy our remaining time and cram in a little American Christmas Spirit before we leave. I'll keep you all posted!
And thanks for taking this journey with us, we may not know most of you but we love that you are here!