Thursday, August 04, 2011

A Smattering Sort of Update

My mom complained that I am not updating the blog often enough, so I am writing this one just for her, even though we just had a 2 hour conversation on the phone last night! (Hi Mom!)

Beginning tomorrow I personally am on a whirlwind with various members of our family.  No, I did not plan it this way and no, I don't necessarily like to be this much "on the run".  But when Shriner's calls and wants to schedule, you say "yes" or you might be another 4-6 months before you can get in.  So, I leave tomorrow to drive to Colorado Springs to pick Matt up from camp, return on Saturday night, church on Sunday, leave with Kenny on Tuesday for Shriner's Chicago for his next surgery which is on Thursday, return Sunday, get in the car Monday with all the kids and drive to Salt Lake City Shriner's for Matthew's next check up on Tuesday, spend the night, and return on Tuesday evening.  Then...and only then...will I finally be home for a bit.  Well, two weeks, then I head to Denver overnight for a Conference Ministry meeting.

In between I have a few other things on my plate to work on :-)  Yes, your prayers for my ability to keep up the next 2 weeks would be greatly appreciated.

Kenny is going in for a lip revision, as I mentioned earlier.  He has a great attitude going into this surgery, as this is all his choice, and we are hoping that his scarring will be reduced.  As he told me awhile ago "Mommy, if it makes even one less person in ten not stare at me or ask questions, it'll be worth it to me."  It will actually look worse before it looks better, as the insult from this new surgery will cause it to be inflamed, but in time and with healing they said it is likely it will look a little better.  I have not yet decided what I am going to take with me to read, or work on to occupy my time, but surely I will find something to haul along.  I will be again staying in his room with him while there, and when not we will be enjoying time with our dear friends in Chicago.  It always gives these trips a little lift to know we will be enveloped in the love of their home.

Matthew's situation is a little different, and we don't know what to expect.  The orthotic inserts definitely helped significantly at first, but not so much now and it is easy to see the turning in of his left foot again.  He is also mentioning hip pain as well, so with this follow up we will see what else we can learn and what they might be able to suggest.  It might just be new orthotics, which we are hoping for.

Sunny can dance like this for 2 or  3 minutes at a time!
We had a scary evening yesterday when Sunny turned up missing, having gotten out sometime in the morning dash for us to leave and coming home 8 hours later to a Sunny-less house.  Oh my goodness, the panic was palpable and Olesya totally lost it.  We drove up and down the main road...the one where I won't let the kids ride their bikes because people drive 50-60 mph on it.  We called to her, and all the while we knew it was no use.  She was loooooong gone.  All the kids were upset, but Sunny is 100% Olesya's baby, and it showed.  They all had to go to work with Dominick that evening, as they had an unfinished job of pulling weeds around his shop that the landlord is going to pay them for, and Olesya got in the van, tears streaming down her face, hugging a picture frame with Sunny's photo in it.  I told her I would continue to look and that I'd make posters to put up, and we'd check the shelter tomorrow.  About 30 minutes later I got a call that someone a couple miles away had her, and luckily tragedy was averted.

When kids have already suffered the kinds of losses that ours have, these situations can be more tense than for others.  So much is at stake...they finally feel safe, they have gained a little footing, and they let go and finally form attachments.  Olesya is deeply attached to this dog, and losing her would be a huge setback for her I think.  She sleeps with her every night, carries her everywhere, is the main one to make sure she has food and water.  Her natural mommy instincts are full blown with Sunny.  I am just glad we didn't have to deal with this sort of loss last night.  And Sunny obviously was very happy to have us back as she flipped out when I went to get her and she saw me.

We were supposed to be hitting the books yesterday, and instead hit the pavement and got some great deals at JCPenney. You know, the only way we can afford to clothe our brood is to "bulk buy" when on sale, and we maximize our savings to the best of our ability.  When we see polo shirts on sale for the boys, and they are high enough quality and cheap enough, we stock up.  Sure, we get sick of seeing them in the same shirts for 2 or 3 sizes, but it is worth it!  We bought about 15 polo shirts yesterday for the boys, most to put away for the next couple of sizes, and got them with all our discounts and sale prices for about $3.50 a shirt.  Regular price?  $17.99 each.  All in all, we saved over $750 and spent $430...and got 44 items including 7 or 8 pairs of jeans for the girls and 2 pairs of shoes for the boys too.  I know $430 sounds like a lot of money to some, but for 5 kids to get that much clothing that was a huge, huge savings.

It makes me feel successful to find such bargains, and like I am pulling my own weight. Since I am not earning any income, I take it on as my responsibility to save us where we can, so that we are not squandering what Dominick works so hard to earn.  We are very fortunate that both of us view money and how to use it from the same perspective, so when we feel it is worth it to spend more on something, there is no squabbling, and I can take advantage of sales and stock up without feeling worried about coming home and telling him.  It helps a lot because when either of us is out and can't reach the other, we can jump on something and not lose out on a deal without fear the other will feel it was a waste. 

I just had to stop this blog post to accept a package from UPS...oh, is Matthew going to be excited when he comes home from camp!!!  His Civil Air Patrol BDU's are here, along with his dress uniform shoes and belt.  I have never seen Matt this excited about anything before.  He came from his last meeting and finally had been approved to order his uniform, and was almost dancing a jig as he asked me if we could pllleeeeeeaaasssseee order it tonight so that it would come as fast as possible.  It was midnight before I got the order finished, as we had to get out tape measures, guess at sizes, etc.  He snuggled up next to me and "oooohed and ahhhed " over everything online. 

You know what I love most?  Matt is not here, and all the kids rushed to the dining room table to see his uniforms as I opened the box up, and every single one of them said "Matt is going to look so handsome!" and Angela said "I am going to be so proud of him!".  They were almost as excited as Matthew will be.  They are so dear to one another, which is about the biggest blessing parents could ever ask for.  Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I witness the love they have for one another, and how kind they are with each other.  Instead of competition, there is encouragement and support.  It is awesome to watch between them.  Here is a sneak peak of what Matt will come home to:

So there I am, holding up my son's shiny new size 10 dress shoes and combat boots, looking at a name tag with "LaJoy" on it, and realizing that I might very well be holding my son's future in my hands.  You'd have to know Matthew to realize that for him, this is not just some club or activity he is joining...this is the first step in the pursuit of his dreams.  Will he ultimately join the military or become a pilot or aeronautics engineer?  Who knows, but those of us who know and love him certainly wouldn't put any bets against it happening.  He has many directions he could go in his life as he has a lot of gifts, as do each of the kids, and I hope that joining Civil Air Patrol will help him enjoy his passion and figure out his life's path.  Funny, but I had someone younger tell me just the other day that they remember seeing Matthew dressed up at Halloween as a pilot...seen right here:  He said that even back then in 2007 it felt like Matthew fit a little too nicely into that military role.  Here we are, 4 years later (can it go by THAT fast??) and now he will be wearing the uniform for "real", or at least as real as it can get at this age.

And as I think of this, I am filled with a little excitement as well, because we get to be by each of the kids' sides as they discover who and what they are meant to be in this much fun will the next few years be!!  Watching them explore and discover, try new things and try on new persona's, while surely it will be a little heart wrenching as we see them step out further into the world it also will be glorious to behold the wonderful adults they will become.

Angela and Kenny are signed up for volleyball, which for Kenny is more about challenging himself to stop being afraid of things being thrown at him that it is a desire to pursue "jock-dom".  He was not going to do it, but on the last day when we had the parents meeting told me "Mommy, I think I want to try it.  I made a commitment this year to learn not to be afraid of a ball coming at me, and this would help me a lot. Can I play too?"  What a kid!  So we talked about how he would likely not get to play much at all, but he would practice and get to play a little in the games...would this hurt his feelings?  Also, I pointed out that often the more important player on the team is NOT the best player, but the best encourager who kept up a good attitude and lifted the teams' spirits if they were not doing well, and he certainly would be gifted at doing that.  He said he didn't care about being good at all or even playing that much, but this would help him work on something that was scary for him, and would also help him make new friends.  To say that I am proud of him is an understatement, and it didn't take a cool uniform to garner that pride either :-)

I am really, really glad Angela expressed an interest in playing, as she still absolutely will not think about playing basketball thanks to her coach in Kazakhstan.  What damage that woman did to her!!!  I am quite angry about it, but realize that her decision not to play the one sport she truly loves is clearly an emotionally charged one, and her heart is more important than playing a game, regardless of her gifts.  We are hoping that playing volleyball will lead her into playing basketball if she makes friends and is exposed to a different sort of coaching.  The coaches in the Christian Homeschooling League are the same ones here who worked with the kids at track, and I was quite impressed with their kind and gentle leadership.  I plan on having a talk privately with whomever ends up coaching her and explain a little about her background and see if we can have another person working to encourage her gifts in athletics.
Olesya has decided she would like to try dance class, sort of the High School Musical dance type stuff, so I need to see what I can come up with for her.  We are going to have her go to camp by herself next year, yes, even though it would be the one year we could have all 4 older ones going to the same camp at the same time.  However, Olesya needs to blossom outside her siblings, she needs to become more independent and not worry about meeting the needs of others.  We want to encourage her to dig deeper and discover who she is, what she likes, and not think about deferring constantly to those she loves.  That kid would give you the very shirt off her back if she thought you even slightly wanted it!!  What a terrific and loving heart she has!  However, she needs to "become", and we have to do all we can to foster that in her, so giving her a chance to be on her own here and there more often is a good start.  Guess next year it is 3 different camps again :-)  Sometimes convenience doesn't usurp a child's needs. 

Then there is Joshie.  Hmmmm....they don't have pre-med classes for 8 year olds around here, no Dr. Clubs, and that is what he is talking firmly about at the moment.  Will it remain?  I have no idea, probably not, but I think something in the sciences or maths will be a given.  He really isn't squeamish about anything and loves to see the inner workings of living things, so who knows?  I highly doubt we will be lucky enough to have two kids who discover their life path this early on, that would be very unusual.  In the meantime, he will continue with TaeKwonDo where he is really doing well and has been at it since he was barely 5.  If he finds something he wants to try, we'll of course give it a go.  Actually, he is quite coordinated and if he had any interests in sports would probably be fairly decent at them.  But he is more a "book" guy than a "ball" guy, and we like it that way.

So there you go, another wordy, lengthy update.  I am going to try and post as I can to keep everyone informed about Kenny's surgery.  Since I will be on the fly for about 2 weeks, no promises but I'll do my best.  Thanks to all who will be praying for Kenny...and I hope for Matt's appointment too.  We need a good outcome there for him as well, as unlike Kenny he is often in a lot of pain. 

Here's to the last mad dash of summer!!!  Off we go!!!!


Anonymous said...

Phew! And you're planning to do this without Diet Coke. Don't feel too bad if you fall off the wagon.

Thanks for the update on the kids. It is both thrilling and poignant to watch them grow and "become". Years do go by so fast.

Great that Sunny is back.

Will miss you while you are criscrossing the country, but will pray for your safety and the health of Kenny, Matthew, and the rest of Team LaJoy.


SPM said...

Hi Cindy,

CAP is a great program - Matt is the type of kid who will thrive in it with the right senior member guidance. Our oldest (1 yr home from Uzbekistan) went to the squadron meeting tonight in his uniform for the first time after participating as a guest for a few months. His membership came thru right on time for him to be included in the orientation flight scheduled tomorrow morning. He'll have to get up & dressed in time to arrive at the airport by 0645 hrs for a flight in a Cessna Turbo 182.
I've been a member for around 12 years total & have worked very closely with the cadet program through the years. If you have any questions that I can answer, give me a shout.

Anne said...

I know exactly what you mean with the Olesya/Sunny situation.

Our dog Hank developed a cancerous tumor soon after we came home with our kids. Oscar was very attached to that dog (calls him his brother since he has sisters in the human realm). Anyway, we ended up finding a chemo therapy trial at the state university and paying for dog surgery to remove the tumor. Hank's still with us, but more importantly Oscar didn't have to deal with the loss of his dog so soon after attaching to him.