Sunday, June 13, 2010

This Mundane Life of Ours

The above original painting was created for our family by an orphan in Kazakhstan. Staas is a very talented young man, as this obviously shows, and we are currently looking for a place to hang it in our home. He is being mentored by Victoria Charbonneau over at her blog featured on the left side of my blog. The incredible incorporation of symbolism for our family makes this artwork that much more meaningful. Now we just have to find a place to feature it in our home! The kids all loved it and kept finding new things every time they looked at it.

The talent that is hidden without broken spirits of those who are invisible in their own society is heartbreaking. The struggle Staas will have entering adulthood and trying to manage a "real" life without the necessary underpinning of training in a family is beyond our comprehension. I ask for prayers for Staas as he is faced with the challenge of leaving the orphanage and being alone in the world. Thank goodness for people like Victoria who reach out to these kids and do what they can.

I find myself hesitating to blog these days because I feel we have nothing of interest to share with anyone. Settling into daily life which will no longer include the ups and downs of preparing for another adoption is a relief for me, but doesn't make for very interesting reading for any of you. But I remind myself often that this blog is for us, and recording the more mundane is as important as all that came before.

I also have discovered that writing for the blog serves a huge purpose for me, and that is it forces me to try and find the Spirit in the little things, it helps focus my attention on the presence of the Holy in what appears to the outsider to be insignificant. For truly, there is significance in all we do, if we do it with the right heart. And God speaks to us as we go about our daily lives in ways that we often don't take the time to tune in to.

But I know reading a blog about how a kid is doing in school or what books we happen to be reading has to be as entertaining as being forced to sit through a 1 hour slide show of your friend's or in-law's vacation pictures showing pasty white swim suit clad bodies in 25 poses on a sandy beach on some island somewhere.

I guess I say that all to acknowledge that I know we are boring these days, and I am sorry yet thrilled to have much of the drama behind us, at least for now. There is more subtle stuff going on, mainly for me internally, and that too makes for boring reading and will be worked out in time. With that being said, here is a peak of the remainder of our week:

As you can see from the photo above, the kids have taken the Summer 2010 Team LaJoy Book Challenge seriously! We now have our chain stretching halfway down our driveway and it is growing daily. I know I am a total, utter geek to admit this, but this gives me such a thrill! Maybe it is because I know that reading is the root of all learning, maybe it is because I have always found comfort in a good book, maybe it is getting a kick out of seeing all the kids grow. Whatever it is, my heart is warmed by watching them all grab a book before leaving the house for any lengthy car rides. I love being begged to have "just 15 more minutes to read" while in bed.

I have to admit that one of the sweetest things this past couple of weeks is watching Angela come alive with reading. We found the hook without realizing it. On her own she discovered our entire collection of the Little House series and asked if she could watch one. From that first episode, she has been totally hooked and has begged to watch it constantly. She has watched almost the entire first season and has talked and talked about each episode afterward. Over and over she has said to me "I love this Laura...she so funny! Good family, good movies.". This week on our library visit I searched and found a stack of beginning readers based on the higher level Little House books. These beautiful picture books had her squealing with delight when I found them and grabbed every single one of them off the shelf.

That was all it took...she now has read them all, some more than once, and was so happy to learn there were many more at a higher reading level. Now she has a purpose to her reading, and she wanted more books about pioneer times. Prior she was just grabbing a fistful of books off the shelf in the beginning reading section and throwing them in the basket, and with one exception being the Bearenstain Bears she hasn't shown any real interest other than she knows she has to read. Olesya was easy as her love of animals had her searching out books from day one, and she seems to be generally more curious about the world around her as she scopes out the pictures in the Eyewitness book series, etc. We tried the Junie B. Jones series which Angela did enjoy, but we found the dialogue to be too challenging as it was written in the language of a 6 year old with many things that didn't make sense. I think we will hit that eventually again once we have more understanding of the more obscure meanings in daily English language but for now we needed more story and less 6 year old dialogue.

Last night I began reading aloud to Matthew from his new birthday book, the original Sherlock Holmes mysteries. As I read it I realized what a tremendous vocabulary was required to understand it, and I worried it might be too difficult for him. We are not a true "classics" family as many homeschoolers are, maybe because we need to get basic English down first! Hahaha! But I am SO GLAD our friend bought this for him, as it is awesome! I would read a paragraph or two, then stop and explain the new words or have him narrate back to me what he understood the story to be saying...and I'll be darned, he did great with it! There were many new words to him, or words that he vaguely understood what the meaning was but couldn't pinpoint it. But he LOVED the writing, and it is definitely the next level up for him... an appropriate stretch and since I have spent the past 4 months doing nothing but reading "baby" books it is super special to have something he and I can wade into together and share...and it is just ours alone. I love nothing more than reading to and with the kids, and I am glad they all love it as much. My hope has been that as we all grow in skill, read alouds will be a greater part of our life together. I know of the rare family here or there who reads aloud together every night until their kids are in their teens, and I hope we are one of those too as it will provide some special family moments together that we will all surely long remember.

The kids all decided to "Play Store" yesterday, which was spearheaded by Olesya! Maybe Kenny has a fellow entrepreneur in the family, in all honesty I am beginning to see it. Believe it or not, this girl LOVES cleaning cars and is begging to go work with Daddy sometime. She has gone out and cleaned my van out several times, vacuuming it and doing a fine job of it. She and Kenny were having long conversations about being in business together a couple of days ago doing something together. Who knows? We have noticed that both Olesya and Angela are drawing closer to Kenny these days. I think it took them a bit to adjust their expectations of their older or same age brother who really is their little brother in so many ways. As they have grown to know him better and understand where he is at developmentally, they have become even more protective and understanding with him, taking him for the 8-9 year old he really is in most ways.

So Josh and Olesya created a store then everyone else joined in. I was confused by the sign above the bed that read "Toys $200.00 & Pawn" as I knew neither of them knew what a Pawn Shop was. Alas, the English issues (and 2nd grader issues!) came into play and it turns out they were advertising that toys were for sale for $200 OR "8 Pounds"...not "& Pawn"...Hahahaha! That happens so often around our house I fail to document it, we are always laughing at English errors! Currently it is between Angela trying to pronounce one that most newbies to our area struggle with "Uncompaghre" which somehow turns into something like "uncomhungry". For Kenny it is impossible for him to say the word "experience" and he says "experiment" every single time.

Needless to say, my brain works overtime 24/7 trying to interpret. Today is one of those days when I looked at Dominick and said "Honestly, I am brain fried and need a break!".

Matthew selling the remainder of his Easter candy. This is why I never worry about the kids having candy stashed in their rooms after holidays. We have never once had a problem with them eating it all up too fast or sneaking it. They will all come out and ask me "Mom, can I have a little of my Halloween/Easter/Christmas treats?". Don't ask my why, we are polar opposites of health food nuts, they just don't crave it all that much. Josh in particular will turn down sweet treats all the time. I need some of his genes :-)

Love how they each put out a "tip" sign. It turned into more of a lemonade stand and we all drank far too much yesterday!

Unfortunately, we determined this morning that we have to reschedule Kenny's surgery for this week. He has a bit of a cold and is coughing some, sounding a little congested. Shriner's already called a couple weeks ago to make sure he was healthy and had not had anything in the past 30 days. We canceled reservations today and will speak with them Monday to reschedule. We are a bit bummed about it, as Kenny gets mentally ready for surgery and then to have to drop it is a little hard. But all in the right timing, so whatever works is fine with us.

I enjoyed a moment this week when I was officially crowned "Queen LaJoy" by our friend Lael, whose support has been so helpful these last few months. She totally cracks me up and her creativity knows no bounds. So with my Burger King crown on, and my flowered cape, I bid you all adieu for the least I can be a Queen in my own mind! Hahaha!


Anonymous said...

I love reading about your everyday happenings, because I love seeing how your kids are adjusting to all their changes. One of the most wonderful things I love about my kids is their relationships with each other, so I love reading about how supportive your kids are of each other.

Now, granted, we have our squabbles now and then around here, but for the most part these last four get along most of the time and enjoy teasing each other or chatting about school and such.

Our older girls are all good friends and try to get together on their own (all out of the home now) when they can. One is in Ohio, and the older ones have paid airfare to go out to support her, too. It's just precious to me that they have their own relationships and encourage each other in their walks with God, as well as just having fun times together. Their relationships were one important reason we felt we could add four more over the course of nine years. The older gals often call and ask for one of the younger kids to ask about a ballgame, school, or whatever interests they have. Hubby and I are blessed to know they suppor, enjoy, and pray for each other.

I love reading about the support your kids give each other and how they are bonding as a family. Hope to keep "eavesdropping" on your daily lives for a long time!

And congrats to your kids on the length of their chain! Reading is indeed awesome. We used to do more reading as a family, when the older girls were young. Then came school sports and activities. By the time our younger four came, we were following the older girls' activities and now the younger ones are busy with such. I miss that and am reminded to carve out some time for it once again. One fun thing I did was keep a reading "journal" of what we read together. It was fun to look back and remember those books.

Sorry for Kenny to have to reschedule, as I know it takes courage to get ready for it in the first place.

Nancy in the Midwest

Christina said...

I giggle at the chain, thinking it is super cute... we are all reading here too... My Kevin (9yrs) is currently hooked on Dear America books that are historical fiction... he loved Winter of Red Snow about the winter at Valley Forge in the Rev. War, and we have been watching America, The Story of Us on the History channel... This has spurred lots of reading... My oldest (12) is into any chapter book with a car on the cover, currently one called Crash Course... he can't read enough as it means VIDEO GAME time for each book finished. My daughter (8) is reading the Magic Tree House books, and then the non-fiction companion books that go with... another great series b/c research shows the best way to grasp non-fiction is to pair it with fiction.... :)

Is Borders doing the same deal there as here? After you read 10 books, you can go get a FREE chapter book from Borders... just thought you'd like 5 free books to keep :)

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry that Kenny's surgery has to be rescheduled. Hugs to you--all of you--in abstentia.

Tell Matthew he has a customer for his Easter candy. I can't keep candy 24 hours. Wonder if instead of the candy, he could sell whatever it is that prevents him from devouring sugar?

My mind is swirling around Staas. What a beautiful, complex painting he has done. When does he age out? Is there a possibility of placing his art somewhere that it can be sold. I'll talk to you soon about an idea I just had.

One of the fondest mental images I have of my childhood is all of us sitting cuddled around Mom on the couch as she reads to us. One of the fondest memories I have of my own children's childhood is sitting with them on the couch reading with them and my husband covertly listening and pretending not to. It is one of the greatest gifts you are giving your children.

Curtsies to you, Queen LaJoy,

qmiller said...

Cindy: Mundane is hardly the work I would use to describe your kids, home, relationships, and adventurous undertakings! I do hope you'll keep up with blogging...somedays it is just the breath of fresh air and perspective that I need.
Had to laugh at the pawn misunderstanding ...reminds me that next week we are off to "carriage (heritage) camp"! : )

K. Pirkle said...

I love reading your blog. We are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. We have 3 daughters and we homeschool. This past year they were in K, 2nd and 3rd grades and we did the Prairie Primer. You can google it. I bought the minimum package and didn't even buy the whole Little House series. We just checked the book out of the library and kept renewing it until we were done. The girls loved it and I did too. We were at the library 1-2 times a week checking out books on whatever the Ingalls were doing at the time.
Also, something else my kids have enjoyed. When I read to them they have a pen and paper. They have to draw something about what I am reading. Even my 5 year old will divide her paper up in squares and draw 10 pictures while I read a chapter. We even get out the clay sometimes and they mold something out of the chapter. It is pretty neat to see how they interpret it. Thought you might not know about the Prairie Primer since you are new to homeschooling, but since your daughter likes them so well, it might be worth looking into.