It seems difficult to fathom that a year has passed since we landed on American soil, new daughters in tow with 3 boys trailing along as well. How well I remember landing at this very moment, emotionally spent in ways I had yet to begin to understand. Angela as prickly as could be, barely daring to look at me, Olesya uncertain about it all as she tried to take cues from her sister but wanting to give in to the nurturing she sensed was right there within grasp.
The terror and relief I felt was real, the anxiety level was off the charts as I tried not to even think of what would come the next day. I'm going to do WHAT? Homeschool these girls who have not a lick of English, one of whom can barely tolerate looking me in the eyes. Oh, we had such a long way to go, and I knew how challenging the coming months would be. To say I was scared would be the grandest understatement I have ever made. To say I was utterly intimidated by this situation I had willingly gotten myself into would be quite accurate.
And so we began...day by day, hour by hour, dancing around one another as we gradually fell into routines. The first two months were as hard as I imagined them to be, we had a difficult emotional encounter, the light bulb went on for Angela as she recognized the potential for real love if she just would let go...and thank our loving God, she did.
Looking back, the rest seems easy. I laugh as I type that, for surely it hasn't been, but in contrast to what I know it could have been, it really was. Olesya and Angela are two young ladies with the most thoughtful, loving hearts I have ever met. They are wise, sweet, intelligent and FUNNY kids who indeed turned out to be the perfect fit that I spent years trying to fight feeling they would be. I should have known better than to to doubt my own gut instinct.
So how did we celebrate our Arrival in America Day? How was Valentine's Day spent in the LaJoy house? Well...let's just say that in true LaJoy fashion, it was less than the highlight of the year. We will never be mentioned in any major magazines for planning the best parties :-) Imagine this...heart shaped pizzas from Papa Murphy's, candle light, and sparkling grape juice served in champagne glasses. I gave each of the kids a card as well as Dominick, all of which came from an 8 pack of cards and were not hand selected because the 8 pack was cheaper. No candy hearts, as the kids had enough sweets from others this past week. Everyone had to offer a toast, and the values in our kids lives became apparent through their words as glasses clinked...Here's to living in a strong family, Here's to friends who love us, Here's to our church, Here's to the love we all share forever. Clink...clink...clink...as I was thanked profusely over and over again by the kids for their "special surprise Valentine's dinner", which totally had me laughing as candles must somehow manage to make anything magic.
I had hoped to plan something a little more for the family, but we are in the midst of a little unexpected crisis here. Joshie's night terrors were beginning to look like they were subsiding, after spending several nights sleeping in our room, but then Saturday night it got way worse, and he suffered through five different occurances of waking up...well...with night terrors you don't really wake up, but you know what I mean. Nothing he said makes any sense at all, and unlike in years past we can't figure out what is the root cause this time around. So Saturday I got very little sleep, and so did he.
Last night was awful, totally awful, and for another reason. Josh had complained on Saturday of his jaw hurting a little, and when asked he said for sure it was not a toothache, but was the back of his jaw. Guess what, it was a tooth after all, one we had filled at the dentist in CA but were told was close to needing a root canal. Josh sobbed all night long, finally succombing to sleep at 4:00 AM. Dominick made a late night run to Walmart to get a few supplies for him, but of course nothing really works all that well. So we got a couple of hours sleep late this morning, and then had to get up. We got into a dentist who determined that we can't avoid it, a root canal is in order, but he couldn't do it and after a few calls could only get us in tomorrow afternoon. So we face another pain filled night. It is infected badly, so he is in antibiotic and they wanted us to double dose him before tomorrow. He is asleep next to me right now, I think passed out from total exhaustion, and I hope he can get at least a little sleep tonight. This kid is totally shot, dark circles under the eyes, not even the Joshie we all know. He cried off and on all day long today and can't eat anything. I think if he had been sleeping decently up until now, he would be doing a little better with it, but he has very little emotional reserves at the moment as he is depleted from a lack of sleep the past few weeks along with the unnamed emotional battles he is fighting when he does fall asleep.
The kids have all been very sweet with Josh, and I had a big smile on my face when Matthew left the house this evening to go to TaeKwonDo and he bent over the couch where Josh was laying down and kissed him gently on the cheek telling him "I hope you feel better, Joshie! Love you!". I am hopeful that he is so tired he will remain asleep much of the night. I will admit to being about as tired as I recall being for a very long time. I laughed in the shower this morning as I realized that exactly one year ago I was awake all night long too, as we were traveling home from Kazakhstan with virtually no chance to sleep. Guess it was fitting that the same thing happened a year later, but I do hope we are not going to make it a faimily tradition.
So there's our holiday, Dominick forgot to get me a card, and we just laughed sayiug we were even since I forgot to get him one at Christmas. You know what I love best about my family...my husband...our relationship? It's that days like this are nice, but not what it is really all about and we all know it. It doesn't have to be perfect with gifts, roses and candy.
It's already perfect without it.
There is no need for us to take a day out of the year to express our appreciation for one another, because we make a habit of it every single day. I came home Sunday afternoon, tired as could be after being up with Joshie will Dominick slept, and after a long day's work he, Angela and Kenny cleaned the house for me...I walked into a spic and span clean abode! Not a thing for me to do but enjoy it. Matthew moved clothes from washer to dryer and then refilled the washer, followed by taking the clothes to their room and having everyone hang and fold them, without me saying a word. Kenny came up and hugged me, hanging on for so long a couple days ago...just because.
That's far better than one day a year. Every day is a day of love in our house, and that is far more important to me. Sure, it was special to get the card and keychain made for me by Angela, propped up in an envelope on my pillow with "My Secret Love" written on it. Olesya took her first paycheck from working and bought us a gift card for Chili's so we could have a date night together on her. The boys did all the clean up tonight after our candlelight dinner. Those are wonderful gestures, but it is the every day stuff that makes a happy family, not a one time hit, one day of the year. I am grateful we don't wait until February 14th to say "I love you!" or to show our love for one another.
Tomorrow will be a painful day for Joshua, but it can't be worse than what he has had the past 2 days. Maybe we will get sleep tonight, maybe not. Regardless, Valentine's Day has come and gone, but the love lingers on and on.