Saturday, April 30, 2011

Year Winding Down

The school year is winding down for us, a bit earlier than we intended.  We have a little of this and that to complete before our trip, but it seems that we all have a bit of spring fever, including Mom!  We missed the track meet they had been preparing for, and I was a bit concerned last weekend when we learned of our nephew's death that the kids would be upset about it.  I should have known better, as when I explained that we had to quickly leave for Tucson and apologized that this meant they would miss their track meet, the only response I got from the gang was "That's OK Mom, we didn't care about the meet much anyway, we just did it to have fun!" and Kenny, with a big grin on his face, added to much laughter "None of us would have won anything anyway!"  I still feel badly though, especially since we had just had to cancel Angela's birthday party AND they missed out on Easter as well.  How fortunate we are to have children whose priorities are different, who never complain even when missing out on events that are very important to them.  During difficult times, such attitudes are more helpful than anything else ever could be.

Friday was spent resting, with all of us sleeping in late, then the kids were quite excited to head to the bank where we had all the coins counted that we have saved for about 3 years.  We have a special friend who contributed 2 years ago, and we have dropped every spare penny into the jar all this time specifically for a trip to Washington, DC.

It is hard to believe we are actually going to do this!!!  This is a dream I have had since before we ever even had children, that we might get to take a super special trip like this.  Of course, that long ago I never would have imagined traveling overseas as we have done.  What makes it even more fun at this stage is that the kids are developing dreams of their own for our family, and not just dreaming, but talking about how to make those dreams a reality. Their Big Plan is that we save for the next several years and all go to Europe for their high school graduations.  Matthew wants to go to Germany in the worst way to really see all of it, and Kenny and Angela have Royal Fever and want to see London.  They are all already planning on how they can work and pay their own airfare, and if they save that long they will have enough.  You know what?  I wouldn't put it past them all to do it!

I have been planning for about 2 months for our next school year, as we school year round and will begin in June when we return.  While much of what we do will simply be moving on with curriculum already in use, I have a few new things to throw into the mix.  The kids have all expressed that they love the projects and such that we do, and not being a very creative person it takes me a lot of work to come up with new ideas.  We have three that still have to study state history, so we will tackle that this year and will take some cool field trips.  Matt and Kenny are going to study mining while the other three cover our state.  For reading I have decided that we are going to spend the next year or two reading as many of the Newbery Award winners as we can, in an attempt as a family to read every single one of them.  Ambitious?  Yup!  I'll come up with smaller projects around the reading, and we might have a Book Review night and author study as well.  I won two auctions on Ebay for about 110 of them, and we spent time labeling the spines with colored tape so we know which of the books in our collection is the award winners and part of our project.  I loved it that the kids couldn't resist sitting down at lunch as we were working on them and had to start reading them:

I read recently somewhere that a home that has 500 books or more in it greatly increases the chances that a child will graduate college.  If that is true, then by golly we sure ought to have some college grads a few years from now.  We laughed today as we talked about that figure and said that if we include library books, quite literally we might be up to about 6,000 or 7,000 by now!  Kenny is turning into a reading machine, and I find myself saying the same things to him that my mom said to me "Can't you put that book down for just a little while?" My mom actually got called by the school when I was in 3rd or 4th grade and told that they had a little problem with me, as all I wanted to do at lunch time and recess was sit off by myself and read.  I guess it would have been preferable for me to chase and kiss the boys as most of the girls my age were doing :-)  Thankfully, my Mom thought there was no problem at all with me spending my spare time reading.

Tonight was the kids' annual art show at the end of their school year.  This is a big event and this year it was held at a local art gallery.  They all had artwork proudly displayed.  Due to our week prior we forgot it was this weekend and didn't get invitations handed out to anyone, so there was no one to really show off their work to.

Here are some of their works...


Angela really has quite an eye and a subtle artistic gift


This was my favorite of Matt's, a mosaic


I smiled when seeing this one, so very Olesya in style!


We all thought this was quite good for an 8 year old!


It is always fun to see the kids come home after class with their artwork.  They are learning about specific artists, styles, mediums, etc. and we are so lucky to have access to such a great art school here in our little town.  I loved all the pieces the kids' teacher selected to display, but it was this one that spoke to me deeply, as it did all of us the afternoon Kenny brought it home:

Without words, it says a lot about how Kenny feels about his lip, and we all better understand why he feels a need to have further surgery to refine it.  The day they all did their self-portraits, I loved our kids all the more when everyone agreed without prompting that Kenny's was the very best of all, that he captured his likeness better than anyone else did.  The way they all surrounded him with love and support that afternoon without any prompting from anyone to do so filled me with a profound sense of appreciation for the haven we all have living with one another.

Time to get to bed, we have a special baptism tomorrow for two special young ladies!


Dee said...

I am SO impressed with all the pictures by the kids. I studied art for years and I've seen a lot of kids' art. LaJoy art is clearly superior!! I truly mean that. They all have talent. What a blessing they can all take art with a great teacher!

Anonymous said...

Kudos for LaJoy Gallery of Joy. The pictures are masterpieces.

But this has been a masterpiece year for Academy LaJoy also, and the teacher/principal, Cindy LaJoy, has been selected as Teacher of the Year in my book.

Now for the joy of today.

Love all of you,

anne k said...

Heartfelt sympathy on the passing of your nephew. I was as usual moved to tears by your children's loving and incredibly mature attitudes at this sad time.
As for the art work, if all Lajoy kids are gifted (I agree with Dee. BTW, Dee, I read your blog too), I was truly mesmerized by Kenny's self portrait : the expression of the eyes, the soft colors, the scars. Again, half way across the world, this amazing kid truly stirs up some very deep emotions !
(I love reading about all the Lajoys, but there's something super special about Kenny)
With much affection,
Anne (from Bordeaux. Don't forget my beautiful country in you grand graduation tour !!)

Anonymous said...

I also agree that your kids' artwork is amazing! I have a degree in art education, though I never taught in the public schools. They truly all do have artistic talent.

Kenny's self portrait is both beautiful and touching. I wish it could be used somehow on literature for facial surgeries or some such. A friend here is involved with an organization called "About Face". Their son, now about 20yrs old, has had multiple surgeries to correst a mishapen jaw (bone missing at birth). He is an awesome young man, so kind, great sense of humor, loved by all. I wish Kenny's artwork could be used in some way to speak to people about facial differences...if he would want it to be. It speaks volumes.

And I too express my condolences at the very sad loss of your nephew.

Nancy in the Midwest

Trisha and Jim said...

Stunning art work, really really wonderful. I hope each child is proud of their accomplishments.

Anonymous said...

I'm not an art teacher or trained at all, but I've got to say: I'd hang your kids' stuff on the walls just to look at. They really are almost bizarrely talented.

I LOVE the Newbery winners idea. Keep track! Some of them are in the middle of great series--like Susan Cooper's The Grey King--don't want to read it until you've read the first three (some of my favorites!). Have fun.