Friday, September 09, 2011

Big Day!

So the LaJoy idea of a "Big Day" does not necessarily line up with other folks' idea of a "Big Day".  We can't help it, it just doesn't take much to amuse us all! Hahaha!  But yesterday WAS a big day for the kids, and the excitement in the air was palpable at the breakfast table.  This was Volleyball Day and Civil Air Patrol Day, where "firsts" were happening...the first game and the first day to wear the uniform.  It was also the first day of the new school year back at art class, and the first Home Ec. class for the girls being taught by another mom we met.

Yea....those weird homeschoolers NEVER socialize! Hahaha! 

So, we were off and running!  After putting in 4 hours of school, I dropped the kids off at art class where they met old and new friends.  We have found that this year, both in volleyball and art class, there are many more kids homeschooling this year including kids who are leaving the only local private Christian school (9 from one class there alone began homeschooling this year), and from the kids' old school.  Living in a rural area where options are limited, and where schools are, sadly, seriously underperforming means that the kids are leaving in droves.  Contrary to what others might think, it does not thrill me that our public schools are failing so badly that families feel they have no alternative but to turn to home education. 

While we are doing it for a variety of reaons that are not all academic, there are many who want nothing more than for their kids to graduate high school being able to read, right and calculate at a 12th grade level.  If you are lucky enough to have a child who is the perfect middle of the road kid, one who doesn't struggle or is not advanced, then your child's need might be met...although the 2011 state test scores reflected that 36% of our District's students were not proficient on state tests., and only 2% in the entire District scored in the advanced.  You are not going to tell me that within our entire school district, only 2% of the entire student body is capable of advanced work!!!  That would mean we have a population that is well below the norm.  Somehow, and I do not blame teachers here...but the system itself, we are failing to properly educate our children and bring their gifts to the forefront.  This is not good for our community, nor our nation as a whole, for we certainly are not the only county to have scores such as these. 

So we are finding new friends, discovering old ones who have joined the homeschooling community that we are still so new to, and having fun!  Kenny even has a girl on their volleyball team who was in his 4th grade class a couple years ago and whose mom quit teaching at that school this year to homeschool!

After art class, the girls went to their Home Ec class, and Angela was a little unenthusiastic at first but I had asked the mom and she said it wasn't going to be hard core, more a chance to teach a few skills and meet other girls.  Angela had met the mom's daughter at track and really liked her so that was how I enticed her :-)  Olesya, of course, was all for it in the first place.  I was pleasantly surprised when I picked the girls up and both of them went on and on about the girls they met, most of whom they had liked at track but hadn't had the opportunity to really socialize much with.  I didn't care at all about the Home Ec piece, and was simply looking for them to have the chance to have some female companionship, but they also really enjoyed the class itself!  This was terrific as I half expected Angela to quietly indicate she didn't like it at all, although she would never tell me "I won't do it."

Then it was rushing headlong over to the volleyball game, where we all had a lot of fun watching the kids.  They are playing with the Christian homeschoolers league, whose volleyball and basketball teams are top notch and known for being league champions for several years in a row.  Somehow, through sheer luck of living where we live, we have joined a group that is somewhat legendary, from what I gather.  All I know is their coaching is fabulous, their sportsmanship is something I have never witnessed before in kids' sports, and we are blessed to have the kids playing in such an environment.  While Kenny didn't get a ton of playing time, it was a fair amount considering his skill...and the coach's own son didn't get any more than he did!  Simply seeing Kenny go after the ball without fear was enough to have me ecstatic.  We hadn't been there watching for more than 5 minutes when Olesya turned to me and said she wished she had signed up after all.  I tried several times to get her to play, but she said she really didn't want to so I let it rest.  She had her first dance class this week and left not sure about it.  She is not a quitter, but she said that several of the kids in the small class were disrespectful of the teacher and not paying attention, and she is not sure if that will get better. She liked the dancing part, but was uncomfortable with the environment.  I think I will stay next time and see what I can discern.  I had so hoped she would find something that would be all her own.  Next year, though, I am sure we will have 3 playing volleyball, and depending upon what happens with Matt and his back, potentially four as I think he might be interested as well if we can get him healed.  Josh won't be able to play until he is in 5th grade.

Angela was another story, and you can easily see that she could eventually be a powerhouse at the sport.  That girl is just a natural athlete, through and through, and has control over her body.  What was nice to see, which we did not see in Kazakhstan, is that her attitude has changed 100% about sports.  She no longer has a "kill or be killed" mentality, but instead is out there having a blast, enjoying it, trying her best...but not taking it all too seriously.  She realizes now that she has gifts in many, many, academics, writing...and she does not define herself by sports alone.  She also was very gracious on the court, never hogging the ball but not letting anything get past her.  She had more confidence than many of these new younger players, and that made a difference too. 

Her volleyball coach, whom she likes a lot, also coaches basketball.  I explained to her a little about Angela's past experience with her coach in Kazakhstan, and how Angela won't touch a basketball these days.  She said she would gently encourage her to join basketball when volleyball season is over.  I am hopeful that knowing the coach and a few of the kids might be the thing it takes to get her to say "yes".  I hate to think that the coach over there almost took Angela's prospective family life away from her and also her love of a game as well.  I don't want her having that sort of power over Angela.  We'll see.  Below are pictures from the game.  If it seems a little light on Kenny photos, it is because he wasn't in the action as much.  I am scoreboard keeper and Dominick is the official family photographer for the games.  We'll see if we can get more of Kenny at the next game.

And here we go!!!

Finally..having FUN with a sport!

Kenny, ready to rock!

At the net!

This kid isn't afraid of the ball anymore!

Matthew is fortunate to have Mr. Steve, who is retired from the Air Force and is the perfect mentor for a kid like Matt who wants nothing more than to be involved in aviation.  After the game, Steve took Matt to his house to help him get dressed properly (and his wife, Jane, hemmed Matt's pants to the specifications...for some reason Matthew didn't trust me to do it right! HAHAHA!!!), and then accompanied him to his Civil Air Patrol meeting.  They took photos of Matt, and then Dominick grabbed a couple when he came home while I was out being Bad Mommy and having a much needed Adult Night Out at the movies.  Although I wanted to be home to see Matt in uniform when returning from the meeting, I have few opportunities for adult interaction these days and try to take advantage of them when they come along. 

Matt looked, well, grown up already.  It is hard sometimes these days to remember he is only a 12 year old little boy.  He is so responsible and has grown so much over the past year that I have to remind myself there are still a lot of developmental milestones ahead of us.  Seeing him in uniform makes me wonder what his future will hold.  Whatever it is, I have no doubt he will succeed and find his way to an engaging career that challenges and fulfills him.  However, he will always be my little Matt-Matt, whose hand felt solid in mine even as a toddler, and whose relaxed and centered approach to life has always helped our family life remain calm even in the wildest of storms.  Here's our young man, one a mom and dad couldn't be prouder of"

So this doesn't exactly look like a 12 year old...

Grateful that God has provided someone to take the place of Grandpa Rock, my Dad, who was the single biggest aircraft nut I ever met.

Shiny dress shoes

Cadet Matthew Ryan LaJoy

You go Matt!!  Your futureis as bright and shiny as you are!
 You know, there is nothing...not a single career or personal accomplishment that can equal being a mom for me.  Oh, I am sure there are jobs I would enjoy and probably find rewarding, but nothing would hold a candle to the most important job I do every single day.  Nurturing, helping broken children to become whole, educating, hugging, laughing with and scolding...that is the sum total of each and every day for me.  It isn't exciting, glamorous or even notable.  But it IS important.

Watching Kenny out there yesterday, doing his best and overcoming fears, seeing Angela who has changed so much enjoying life with an openness and innocence that most her age don't have, watching Matt take the first step to pursuing dreams...and even seeing Olesya and Joshua as they sat on the sidelines cheering and photographing their siblings...that is my paycheck.  It is a bigger reward than I deserve, and it is all I need to feel successful in this world.  I used to think I'd need more. Funny, how in helping my children find their true selves, I somehow seem to have stumbled upon my own true self.  I no longer feel the need to validate myself with degrees or titles.  Mom is good enough.  And my legacy will be far greater than any plaque on a wall signaling accomplishment.

I guess it was a Big Day for me too!


Trisha said...

Wow, how tall is Angela!? She looks like she is all over that game and having a great time.

Matthew is such a strapping young man. It always strikes me how well beyond his years he seems.

Brenda said...

Hey there!
Tell Matthew that the "neighbors from the Math booth" think he is as handsome as he could be in that Civil Air Patrol uniform! Go get 'em, Matthew!

Anonymous said...

"If I could put time in a bottle...", an old song whose sentiment I can't remember, but I had that feeling looking at the pictures of Angela, Kenny, and Matthew growing older, stronger, wiser, more loving. Just arrest time, stop it here for a moment, for a minute, for long enough for me to savor it. You do that so well, savor the moments with your children.

But then I think of mine. If I had arrested time at one moment, then I would not have seen them grow into the fine man and woman they have become. I would not know my son-in-law and daughter-in-law. If I had arrested time for my grandson, he wouldn't be entering 2nd grade, wouldn't be learning to skate board, wouldn't be...

I want to pause and watch Matthew, Kenny, Angela, Olesya, Josh stay just as they are for a moment, for a minute, but then I wouldn't get to see them grow and stretch and choose as I have seen you do in the last few years.

I guess I wouldn't put time in a bottle. I'll be happy with your blog and pictures to capture a moment and then move on to the next.

Thanks for time in my bottle,