We are on Spring Break here and after last week's trying times it is nice to report that we are not only on an even keel here, but seem to have moved to yet a new level. There is a more relaxed aura about everything, as if some steam was released and it allowed space for something new. Yesterday I spent a full hour in the car at soccer practice just visiting with both girls alone, talking about all kinds of things, mundane and not so mundane. I love how they are both so willing to open up and share about their life at the orphanage, as if they want me to know all about what it used to be like for them. I also can't begin to recount how many times each of them has referred to things I sent as gifts over the years, or sent to be shared with their friends. How much the small things meant, and believe me, nothing was of much value but was cherished and remembered...even down to the granola bars I threw in at the last minute. Angela has even taped to her wall a drawing of a rainbow Matthew made to put in her package when he was about 6 or so.
Whether my own reaction last week was a misstep or perhaps lead to deeper understanding, I will never know. It is not something I want to make a habit of but it might have been a necessary rude awakening of sorts. Angela is NOT tip toeing around me, nor is she bending over backwards to make sure I am happy. Instead, there just seems to be a new awareness and comfort level with touch. Don't get me wrong, I doubt she will ever be a touchy-feely-huggy kind of kid nor do I want her to be anything other than what she is, but there is a leaning in when speaking with me, there is far more direct eye contact with accompanying natural smiles, there is more laughter. Maybe it did her good to be put in a position to snuggle on my lap for awhile. It is hard to feel comfortable with physical affection if you have never had it and it feels weird. There almost has to be a conditioning to break the natural response. She still gives one armed distant hugs, but the day to day closeness is subtly different and nice to see.
I also think animals are a key to reaching both of them. What a love of all things animals they have! So I went to the library today and got some early readers featuring a dog named Biscuit and you would have thought Olesya had been given a million bucks by the way her face lit up! I think doing the 4H rabbit project will be good for our entire family.
In a not so unexpected move, Matthew decided he was not interested in an animal project, but instead wanted a general project to work on and in fact surprised me by choosing two. One is totally Matt, and is called "Geospatial" which revolves around GPS technology, mapping and location awareness. He has to do a binder as well as a display board and work through an interesting project curriculum.
The other project totally surprised me when he said he wanted to do Heritage Arts and make a rug! No idea what it will be or how we will pull this one off, but thankfully I have crafty, artsy friends to make up for my lack of skill...and I loved that he wanted to do something so far out of his own personal box.
Dominick and I had a full 2 hours alone this Sunday after our adopted Grandpa asked to take all the kids to the movies, which I felt showed quite a bit of courage! The kids all loved the movie and Dominick and I spent the time shopping for jeans and getting groceries, and yes it felt totally weird to do alone. Someone saw us and asked what it was like to be out with the kids and we said it was great, but that our kids were so easy to be with it really wasn't something we felt was "hard" to do even when dragging the entire crew along. But we did have a wonderful time alone, just visiting, planning, talking and trying on jeans. I hadn't realized it but Dominick reminded me it had been at least 5 years or more since he last purchased a pair of jeans...and they look it:-) Thankfully he wears uniform pants often so they do last longer but 5 years (and maybe even 7!!) is way too long.
Although it is spring break here, we have no plans to go anywhere preferring instead to hunker down and hang out. Matthew still has his CSAP testing to finish this week and Friday we may go to the mountains for a picnic to show the girls. Angela has said on many occasions that Colorado is "so beautiful" and she has yet to see anything REALLY beautiful so it is time to branch out! Having Josh and Kenny home has been fun, we have been playing some games like multiplication bingo and other math games with decks of cards, and all the kids are enjoying being together. I love the encouragement they offer each other, telling each other "good job!" and giving high fives around the table. What is harder is getting them to not tell each other the answers when I am trying to help one of them learn something...they want to help each other so much!
Next week starts a new mini-adventure for me as we are going to have one of our homeschooling friends come over one day a week and I will teach he and Matthew science and writing while his mom works with the girls on reading. We will have lunch together and it will be fun to work together. We will be working on the physics science kit we purchased for Matthew, which should be easy enough for me to work with, and a new writing curriculum that I hope works well for us called Writing Strands and it is written specifically for the homeschooling market. We will see how it works, I hope it is good. If not, the nice thing about homeschooling is you move on and try something else!
Olesya lost her first tooth with us yesterday and the Tooth Fairy visited. She is still puzzled over that one...can't wait to see what happens with the Easter Bunny!
I will try and post more photos and write something more meaningful soon. I am struggling to keep up with everything AND learn about 4H AND plan for school next year AND figure out when I am going to get my own homework done AND stay connected as best I can to everyone in between loads of laundry and filling the dishwasher 3 times a day. Give me a couple of days and I promise more will follow. But I wanted to share how we turned another corner, and to thank those who recognize this is a one-step-at-a-time process, where nothing is predictable, even my own reactions.
For those who felt some recent comments were too harsh, they were honest, and who knows...maybe extremely valid. When I am in the midst of this sort of tumult, I take it all with a grain of salt knowing my own inner self is quite raw and not going to see things for what they really are. I do my best every single day, and some days I am better than others. The fact is, so are the girls doing their best every single day. Creating a family this way is a messy business, isn't it?
The end result is so lovely.