You all know that I am not a trained writer, and I don't have the skills that other Mommy Bloggers have. I find that the blogs I enjoy reading most are funny, smart, irreverent even. I am not the slightest bit witty, either on screen or in person. I try to stick with a theme most days, but sometimes I just have nothing thematic to share and want to just write about a little of this and a little of that going on. I try to capture the highlights for our kids and record them here, and that doesn't always lend itself to interesting reading for anyone other than our family.
I also am fully aware that most people would rather read short little two to three paragraph bursts, rather than the novellas that sometimes erupt here. The fact is, sometimes I just have to take advantage of the time I do have to sit down and pump out the writing as I can, not concerning myself with method or content and just get it on the blog so it doesn't leave me and never get recorded. I figure that someday the kids will care less that it was perfect and more about the fact that I spoke of how tickled I was about some little thing they did or said, or that I managed to get a picture up of a minor event in their lives that otherwise might never be located someday other than in a disorganized and likely outdated hard drive. I don't always have time to proof or edit, and spelling errors are sadly more frequent than I'd like.
But the fact is, I have somehow managed through an incredibly challenging and busy time of my life to be faithful in recording our lives here. I haven't quit, I haven't cast it aside, and I am so glad I have, even if it IS quite imperfect.
Pondering this tonight, I am seeing how so often I have refused to do things, or chickened out because I wouldn't be perfect in someone's eyes, or perhaps more importantly, I wouldn't perform perfectly even in my own eyes. How have I limited my own life and what have I missed because something wouldn't be "good enough"? And, conversely, how has my life been enriched because I stepped out of my comfort zone and allowed something to be what it would be...and discovered something precious despite the imperfections? this impacts me in ministry far more than any other area of my life, for I focus way too much on my inadequacies instead of my gifts. Maybe I haven't figured those out well enough yet to overpower the weaknesses. We were laughing over the table just the other day about how crazy our family is, how others must think we are NUTS most of the time, and yet as we all sat there giggling and goofing around as loudly and obnoxiously as only a LaJoy can do, I thought to myself what a lovely, lovely gift it is to live in the midst of this imperfection...and how I wish that others had this sort of imperfection as well and could appreciate it. I wish I could figure out why I can move forward without fear sometimes, and others my anxiety is ramped up far more than it ever should be. Maybe with time and maturity I'll "get it" better.
So, on to another non-thematic, scatter brained arranged post! I was thinking how I tend to go through phases with each of the kids, photographing them. Sometimes it depends on what they are involved in, if anything, that I drag my camera around for. Others it is because I just happen to get more of one kid with a decent smile for a change, than I do of another. Joshie always tends to look so beautiful in certain light to me, Angela is far better in less stilted, unposed situations outdoors, Kenny...well, heck, his smile lights everything up just about all the time no matter where we are! Olesya is harder to photograph as we all tease her about her "grimace smile" she turns on whenever the camera is near! Hahaha! But when she relaxes and isn't as aware, I finally get beautiful ones of her. Matthew tends to clown for the camera ALL the time these days, and will cooperate only if he is interrupted after being pre-occupied so doesn't have time to plan giving a sibling the bunny ears or to roll his eyes and make goofy faces.
The past couple of days have allowed opportunity to get a couple good ones of Matthew for a change, so I took advantage of it.
Ahhh! No goofy smile...too engaged in building an engine model that Miss Lael dropped off as a pass on from her grandson. We all cracked up as Matt wasn't even able to take his coat off before opening the box and spreading pieces all over the table. I finally convinced him to take his winter gloves and coat off so he could settle in and work on it. He just loves this stuff so much!! By the end of the evening he had it completed, and he is so intense about it he simply can't stop what he is doing. He has been like that since he was a little guy, surprising us often with his ability at 6 or 7 years old to spend literally tens of hours on a Lego project until it was complete, and without any help at all. Remember this one?:
Not much has changed with this kid except for he would look quite odd sitting on our kitchen counter these days at his size! Not even the tie dye shirts have changed, for such a quiet, often somber, serious kid, he definitely has a little inner hippie :-)
Matt CAN be serious most of the time, but when he gets silly he is a total riot! Again, this photo tonight reminded me of another when he was so young, as he just hasn't changed all that much as Josh has. This same grin and those eyes look no different than they did here:
Looking back to find these photos, seeing who he is becoming, and for a brief moment I wished with all my heart I could share these with his birth family. Funny, that almost never hits me but it sure is right this moment. How I wish they could see him, know how wonderful he is and how I wish I could reassure them that all is well.
Then there was the Twenty Something Matt that appeared briefly tonight as he was presented with a very, very special hand-me-down...a dress coat from his mentor, Mr. Steve. Actually, Mr.Steve brought two coats over, but this one in particular was so meaningful because it was given to Steve upon his own high school graduation. That he would want Matt to have it was of great significance, that did not get missed by Matt. When he came home after Civil Air Patrol tonight, he put it back on and stayed in it for the remainder of the evening, snuggling into it and chatting with me at the kitchen counter.
How fast the years go by, how precious every single moment is, and how I am so blessed to be home with them and witness the little day to day things, have the time to encourage and correct them, and to simply "be" with my children. It is worth every single moment stressing over money that we will ever have. With the majority of our children, we have already missed far too much time with them, and I feel that every single day of my life. Knowing that we are doing all we can to make as much of the time we do have with them is extremely important to both Dominick and I.
I have spent the past couple of weeks of school days realizing that I have witnessed some pretty amazing transformations over the past couple of years. What a privilege it is to watch children literally come alive! To see all of them blossom in ways they never would have under other circumstances, to struggle side by side with the girls as they went from knowing not a word of English to reading and writing fluently, and knowing I was instrumental in that monumental process is by far the single most rewarding thing I ever have or ever will do. But of course, it is the inner work that we can focus on every moment that is even more important and provides the opportunity for relationship in ways I never imagined we would have. Growing to understand Kenny's challenges far better and helping him become more confident and capable is also deeply gratifying.
But so too is the ordinary, normal old development of Matthew and Joshua. Though not nearly as dramatic, it is subtle and awe inspiring in its own way to see them pursue interests and have thoughtful conversations with them as well. Sometimes it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, and we have a few that make a lot of noise around here! Hahaha! However, watching them it is hard not to get excited when you see they have finally grasped a new or difficult concept, or are testing the waters with something more challenging.
There are the little things I spoke of earlier though, that I want to capture and preserve here. Our years long love letter to the kids speaks to our faith in them, our absolute commitment to each of them, and hopefully of our deep and abiding love for them. A life is so often transformed not by the big moments, but by the scaffolding created by the seemingly insignificant ones. Last night was one of those building moments, particularly for Angela who is developing into a young lady of keen sensitivity and understanding of the human psyche and condition, and is moved more day by day by injustice and a need to right the wrongs she learns about. Of all of our children, Angela is the biggest surprise in this area, as the child we first met and even brought home was one that had the potential to be the most predatory, the most self-centered, the most closed hearted.
We sat on the couch last night and snuggled together watching "Soundtrack for a Revolution", Kenny on my other side, Matt in the dark on the floor beneath me tucked in his bean bag chair and wrapped in a blankie. Angela was so incredibly touched by the stories shared by those involved in the Civil Rights Movement, by the suffering of African Americans who fought so hard for the simple right to vote and be treated equally. She commented with indignation throughout the documentary, in complete disbelief at the inhumane ways people were treated. The music interwoven throughout the film was pitch perfect in its ability to also express the emotions of the time. I sat beside her, answering her questions, explaining that which was not yet easily understood in English. She turned to me and said "Mom, if I were alive then, I would have marched with them!". This, from the girl who two years ago loudly pointed out the first black person she had ever seen in her entire life as we walked through the Frankfurt Airport.
Oh, we have a little activist inside this mini-woman! A few weeks ago, just before Christmas, I had shared with her the now famous video of Democratic Senate challenger from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren. Angela was transfixed with Elizabeth's message and said "Mom, she is totally right!" then asked if she could write her a letter. I was surprised at Angela's strong reaction and said I thought it would be a great idea, but that she shouldn't expect anything back but a form letter, as candidates are too busy to respond to every letter they receive because they get too many of them. I did tell her though that her desire to write was what America was all about, supporting people whose ideas strike a chord in us, and I encouraged her to go ahead and write. She immediately sat down and wrote a two page letter to Miss Warren, telling a little about herself and sharing how much she liked what Miss Warren had to say. She also asked her who her favorite president was. She decorated it with a flourish...a beautiful ivy border she drew herself, then she Googled Elizabeth's campaign address, and sent the letter.
On Christmas Eve, Angela received an early present...a personal letter from Elizabeth Warren herself!! It was not a form letter, and answered Angela's questions and was sweetly encouraging. the look on Angela's face when I showed her the envelope was priceless. She had to share the news...and show the letter...to virtually everyone we know. Here is her letter, if you'd like to read Elizabeth's response to Angela you can click on the photo and see it full size:
I tell you, this kid has a courage and inner strength to her that we are only beginning to see. I think that I might find myself side by side with her at a protest of some sort one day, with the child leading the parent to ever increasing boldness. Her sense of justice is astonishing, and she has a strong desire to find something to do in this world to make a difference. I have no doubt at all that eventually, she will discover what God is calling her to do...and we will all be amazed.
If you have made it to the bottom of this post, then congratulations! Again, I know it is not as polished as others who write, nor is the blog as cutesy or "Pro-Mommy-Blogger-ish". Sometimes though, when I stop and think about how unintentionally this place has served to be an open door to friends known and unknown, and how so many of you have watched our children grow and our family change in so many ways, I can't help but be bowled over sometimes. Thank you, for putting up with us and for being interested enough to return over and over again, despite the imperfection found and lack of professionalism found here. Although sometimes I, of course, write to you all rather than just for our family, thanks for recognizing that you are voyeurs, and that ultimately some of the more boring stuff here is really for them, for our own families are never boring to us, are they? Each of our own family histories will trigger emotions that are richer and fuller than anything else we will ever encounter. Your continued following of our family journey is actually quite touching, and I fail to say that very often. Despite the regular inclusion of writings that I know many of you have no interest in, you return again and again, and you cheer us on, offer encouragement and ideas, and simply join us virtually to the point that someday if we ever have the privilege of meeting in person, it is as if old friends have connected. Our virtual worlds can sometimes be as real as we allow them to be, and the power of that is represented here.