Saturday, December 03, 2011

New Stages, New Photos

Although the blogging muse seems to be on vacation somewhere far out of reach, I wanted to share a few random photos taken over the past couple of weeks.  Don't really know why it seems so hard to write at the moment, but instead of forcing it I'll just wait until the muse returns and instead post these random photos along with a few thoughts.

November is over, and we are hopeful that December will find our life on the upswing.  November was hard...really, really hard on a lot of levels.  Here we are on the 3rd of December, and already the month feels more relaxed and filled with promise.  We just returned home this evening from a delightful small town performance of The Nutcracker, which neither Dominick nor I had ever seen before, let alone the kids.  It was refreshingly amateur with more than a hint of real talent hidden within.  A cast of 120 performers, all locals and the vast majority were children under 10 years there were plenty of missed cues and missteps.  It made it all the more touching as little ones danced their way across stage grinning from ear to ear in beautiful costumes.  The kids all enjoyed it very much, and each gabbed excitedly in the van afterward about what was their favorite character and costume.  Tomorrow we hope to take in the parade even in possible single digit weather.

Matthew has grown again, and so it was off for a late night visit to Walmart to purchase new pants and a winter coat.  We thought we had one put aside for him this year, the last of a large number purchased several years ago at a post-winter markdown sale, but he outpaced our growth expectations and so instead that one became Kenny's new winter jacket and it was off to the Men's Department to shop for Matt.  Still can't quite get used to that.  We must look like such goofs around town, as all the rest of the crew stood outside the dressing room waiting for Matthew to come out and model whatever pants he had taken in.  Everyone threw out their opinion until at least, we found a style we all liked on him.  It's a group buying experience.

We have entered a new phase in our life as a family, and it has taken me awhile to adjust.  We are no longer parents of young children, Josh is almost 9 years old, and the rest are all teens or nearing the teen years.  With that comes a greater awareness of the fact that our time together as a family is indeed limited, that one day we will look up and they will be off on their own, living their new adult lives.  Oh, I know we have a few years left, but those years will pass quickly, and I think the older you are as a parent, the more aware you are of that.  While that brings with it a sense of loss, as I miss the years of parenting younger children, there is a blossoming of new relationships as well, as the kids become more engaged in the larger world, and begin to practice skills taught them. 

Lately, along with this new tentative step toward adulthood, there is a tenderness being showed Dominick and I which is deeply rewarding and totally unexpected.  All the boys have taken to throwing an arm casually around my shoulder in a gently protective way, or opening the door for me as I get into the car.  Kenny has been very in tune to my feelings and offers a hug saying "You look like you need a little love right now!", and Matthew has been so solicitous in a million ways.  Josh is showing more confidence and has taken to tackling tasks that are considered by him to be "man's work", such as making a fire in the fireplace in the morning, or volunteering to take out the garbage or carry groceries.

Angela and Olesya are coming into their own in so many ways, and we are sharing in so much as the females in the family.  They are incredibly helpful around the house, handling many chores without complaint or being asked...and often saying "Mom, you go do what you want to do, we can handle this."  We all three find ourselves giggling together over things "our men" do, and I am thankful beyond words every single day that I have been blessed to parent girls as well as boys, something that at one point I never thought would have happened.  We certainly ended up with the perfect daughters for a Mom like me.  Tonight I lamented in the car on the drive home that I wished I was one of those Leave It To Beaver know the ones and in fact might be one yourself...who has a wonderful breakfast waiting every morning, actually uses a recipe when they cook and bakes from scratch, laying out a beautifully prepared meal on an equally beautifully set table.  Angela laughed and from the back of the van I hear her say "But Mom, who wants to be THAT kind of Mom?  Then you'd be in the kitchen all the time and have no time to teach or play with us!!  It's just food."  Yup, guess we ended up with the right daughters :-)

Well, so much for the gabbing, here are a few photos...

Olesya is gradually really coming into her own, as we encourage her to voice her opinions, see herself as just as intelligent as anyone else, and point out her many gifts.  This is the single most generous child I have ever encountered, who'd literally offer you just about anything she owns if she thought you needed it.  A born caretaker and nurturer, with the warmest heart...what a gem!!

We went to the beach a couple of times while in California, and although it was too cold to play in the water without a wet suit, they still enjoyed gathering sea shells and wave watching.

Our newly minted thirteen year old!  Now Kenny and Angela are twins for a few months and my virtual triplets of Matthew, Olesya and Kenny are down to two sets of twins with Angela and Kenny, and Matthew and Olesya.  I asked Kenny if he felt like a true teenager and he paused, then looked at me and with the utter honesty he is known for said, "No Mom, I feel more like I am 10 years old."...which is exactly where I would place hum developmentally.  Sometimes kids adopted at older ages close the gap, and sometimes they lag behind for years but continue to mature at their own pace.  Kenny is 13 in number only, and sometimes he is 50, but most of the time I'd place him as a solid 10 year old.  We laughed together as we talked about how lucky we are that being homeschooled, he can be whatever age he needs to be and not feel forced into pretending to be more mature than he really is.  For our family, that might be the single greatest blessing of homeschooling, having the opportunity for our children adopted at older ages to remain younger for however long they need to in order to feel whole before moving on.

Our other 13 year old!  She is turning into a lovely young lady...when she isn't busy being a little kid herself :-)  Hearing her giggle at Cosby Show reruns is about the cutest thing ever and quite contagious.
Something about her eyes gets me every single time, and has since that very first photo we received almost 7 years ago.

The Ronald Reagan Library was a mini-hit, the kids all really enjoyed it.  I printed off a quick study unit from the Library web site before we left, and it helped familiarize the kids with President Reagan before we visited the Library.  They all left saying they found it even more interesting than they expected.  I found it interesting that even though they were married 8 years, there was but a single photo of Mr. Reagan and Jane Wyman, and you had to really search for it to find it.  A subtle attempt to manipulate the Reagan legacy??

I thought this was quite apropos in light of the conversation I recently had with Kenny about hard work getting you further than intelligence.

Josh at the podium, attempting to read from a teleprompter and finding it harder than you'd think.  Why are there moments these days when I look at him and see this extraordinary adult waiting to sneak out?  He looks so mature here...

...but then here he looks so little!  Of course, there are a couple of gargantuan siblings these days :-)  The library has a retired Air Force One aircraft, and we went through it.  Not at all impressive once one has seen the National Geographic special on the newer version of Air Force One.  This one looks very dated inside, but it was interesting to see anyway.

An original piece of the Berlin Wall...poignant to touch a piece of history that directly affected the lives of these five children.  If President Reagan had not uttered those famous words "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!", would our family even exist?  Somehow, I think not. For that alone, I am filled with gratitude for the Reagan Presidency.  The kids are aware of this history as well, and we all felt something special as we visited this particular exhibit.

We have a family of John Wayne fans, and Dominick took the kids down to Hollywood for an afternoon while I remained behind and spent the day alone with my mom.  Joshie got a kick out of discovering that John Wayne's feet were almost as tiny as his, as he stands in John Wayne's boot prints.

I swear he doesn't look like he is only 12 years old these days!
Matthew kneeling at the star of one of his favorite's, Michael Jackson.

We are blessed in a million ways, something I try to continually remind myself of as it helps during months like November :-)  Here the kids are showing off little treasures from a surprise box of mystery trinkets.  A sweet friend from church sent them home to the kids, and it was quite special as they were items left to her by her own mother, who had traveled extensively throughout the world and collected them.  The kids all loved examining each little thing, trying to guess where they came from, exclaiming "Oooo...look at this!" as they unwrapped each new surprise.

The same friend has been passing on her Christian Science Monitor magazines so that I might enjoy them.  Little did I expect that the whole family would end up reading them!  Funny, but Matthew commented out of the blue one day recently that he enjoys reading their news articles because they present the news in an unbiased fashion, something I never expected he would have noticed.  I love how my secret strategy seems to work so well...instead of force feeding the kids something, I just leave stuff laying around and eventually they will be curious and pick it up, sometimes finding themselves hooked.  Works like a charm, every single time :-)  Shhh though, don't ever tell 'em!

Well, it is super late and time to get to bed.  Hoping tonight brings more than sugar plums dancing through my head, I could use a solid night's sleep!


Barbara said...


The kids are so grown. Please let me know if you ever return to the Reagan Library, my Dad was a docent there and close to the Reagans. He would be more that happy to get you a special tour upstairs of the private offices of the Reagan's, Mrs. Reagan still comes there periodically, and the special artifacts that are up there, it is the least we could do after all you did for my Mom's cabbage patch doll which still sits in my sister's house today.


Anonymous said...

The only consolation I can offer you for not having the children when they were little and for time passing so quickly now that they are growing older is that you and Dominick are THE most aware, conscious parents and are enjoying and noting each step of their growth.

Some of us remember bits and pieces, highs and lows but have trouble capturing the day to day without sitting down and thinking hard. You may wind up with more moments than most parents--not all that you want but all that you have.

Back to my own remembering,