Saturday, February 01, 2014


There are days, and then there are days.  Yesterday was a precious, "Home Sweet Home" kind of day.  These are the days one recalls fondly when children are raised and the house is quiet as vacant rooms silently whisper in your ear.  My whispers will no doubt be filled with an eclectic mix of the sound of Lego's being stirred up, Indian dance music softly playing, giggles over which Bollywood star is the most handsome, and the swishing of imaginary swords being swung through the air.

We're living beneath a bit of a burden right now, there are moments when a heaviness settles over us as our future looms frighteningly unknown before us.  It is at moments like these when the Spirit carries you, when you hear things you might not have heard prior.  I was reminded in a sermon our Pastor gave recently that though paths may change, and we have choices to make, God keeps us safe.  Safe.  That word helped more than she might have known, as one tries to choke down a gradually building fear.  Knowing God "has our back" helps.  We were never promised "easy", but I'll take "hard" as long as it is "safe".  It somehow dramatically shifted how I felt.  Yesterday, all felt "Safe" and it was like a little gift packaged up just for me.

The sweetness of this day started out surprisingly soft, as 7:00 am finds kids gradually awakening on their own and getting themselves ready to face the day.  The rhythm of our days is nothing extraordinary, but it is ours, and it is good.  The physically harder days of dressing, bathing and cooking for young ones is behind us, and self-sufficiency is now the norm.  We quietly move around one another in the kitchen, a bowl of cereal poured here, an egg fried there, clinking of glasses and emptying of the dishwasher almost wordlessly performed by whoever is standing around waiting for food to be ready.

We gathered around the table for our Morning Meeting, during which we talked about our schedule for the next few days, joked about the afternoon's "entertainment" of dissection for "Science Friday", sort of a take off on NPR's tradition.  The warmth of the fire Kenny had created in the woodstove was already making its way to the dining area (As if we even have a formal dining area! Haha!) and the snow outside was falling in fluffy flakes that caused a sense of excitement and anticipation.  It's been a dry Colorado winter thus far, with weeks that were snowless, so this was a bit of a treat!  Eventually, Miss Mary came at her appointed time, and we all snuggled in for our reading time for the morning...Matt and I in my bedroom, tucked under blankets on the big bed, and the other kids with Mary...Sunny curled up on one lap, then another, then another.  Lively conversation was heard from both sides of the house, as literature was read aloud and discussed, debated and devoured.

Before we knew it, literature time was over.  Lunch was next, then on to the Main Event.  Some of you may have seen my "blow by blow" photos and sharing on Facebook, but Grandma didn't so I am sharing some photos below:

Josh is looking like he is ready to enjoy this!

Matt surprisingly got into the whole thing, even though biology is not really his favorite.

Olesya is preparing herself for tied back, gloves being donned.

And...of course...we had several Dead Fish conversations going back and forth between the boys.

Josh is carefully documenting information in his lab book...external observations about the fish.  Everyone was interested when they saw fish scales up close and examined them.  

Kenny is a little dubious about what comes next.

Deep in thought, Olesya is an excellent science student and really enjoys it!

Don't let that smile food you, Angela is now clearly headed on a different career path than nursing!  She got "slimed" a couple of times and cracked us all up with her squeals.

Next, it was the frog.  Everyone agreed that of all the dissections this year, the frog was the easiest to work with, and the coolest to dissect as everything was clearly visible:

Angela decided the frog wasn't nearly as "icky" as the fish, and she dug in!

Matt was efficient, and said it wasn't much different than following blueprints or diagrams.

The "Official Family Handler of All Things Dead" (It comes in handy when removing mice from traps, etc.!) spent the most time on this lesson, of course!

This might be one of my favorite photos of this time in our lives.  

Olesya was struggling and asked for help, and Matthew jumped up to come over and point out what she wasn't able to see.  He worked with her for about 10 minutes, pointing out all the parts she needed to see so she could clearly label them.  The spirit of cooperation and friendship among our kids is something quite rare in a world where siblings are supposed to hate one another right along with their parents, 
as portrayed in every Disney show these days.  

While they tease one another and occasionally have a "moment" where they are as flippant as any of the rest of us can be with one another, the overwhelming majority of the time this is what is exhibited...concern, acceptance, care for one another, and genuine affection.  How I hope this is so deeply embedded it lasts a lifetime, for if so, they will have something many are denied...siblings who are true friends.

As a mom, watching this spontaneous display of kindness was another gift handed to me yesterday afternoon, better than anything that could be wrapped with a big ribbon on top.

After frog guts and fish gills were properly disposed of, it was time for some snow play!!  Though we reside in the heart of ski country, we seldom have the kind of snow that is good for building and snowball fights, for it is usually too dry.  This snow, however, was quickly recognized to be perfect, wet snow, and everyone bundled up to go out and enjoy it.

The beginnings of the snowman head.

Angela, Josh and Kenny...Angela proved to be the expert as she made plenty of snowmen in Kazakhstan where they had "the right kind of snow...but not yellow snow! Hahaha!  Isn't that funny, Mom?"

Diehards...even while it is still snowing


This is intense group work!

Every snowman must be properly dressed.

When I told Angela she did a great job on the snowman, I loved how she instantly corrected me and said, "Oh, Joshua and I did it together, it wasn't just me."

Lessie...or "Olay" as the kids have taken to calling her!

Now that's thinkin'!  Grab the spray can when you have no coal or buttons!

The finished Cowboy Snowman Guard!  Someone is missing....hmmm...where could Matthew be?

Let's go check out the backyard.  I simply adore our backyard view in the winter, the neighbors' cows strolling in the field behind our property.  We have three acres which actually extends all the way back to that line of cows, there is another fenceline there they are walking beside.  The closer fenceline just divides our landscaped area from our back pasture area.  We all love the way the globe willow trees look in the winter, heavy with snow.

Ahhhh HAAA!  Here he is, shoveling off the patio and using the castoff snow to begin building a snow fort!

Goofing around, Team LaJoy style!

This one cracks me up, it reminds me of the Judge in Petropavlovsk asking about "mixing" Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Russian children in the same family.  Yea, it looks like that is a big problem.  Adults breed the attitude of hatred for one another, kids don't.

As we were continuing to play outside, Kenny came running to us waving something in the air.  "Mom, I found my wallet!!"  It had been in his snow pants all along, and he had counted it lost. Thrilled is a word too mild for what he felt, as it had been lost with $75 in it.

Here's my handsome, happy boy!

The Duo is plotting a little yard decorating, LaJoy Style.

Saw this photo and realized I have two men living with me now, and two gradually heading that way.  He took his jacket off because it was too hot.   Matt looks so mature here, it always catches me off guard when any of the kids have one of those "leaps" and changes a lot.

And here is what it is all about...

Little gifts all day long, that's what it felt like.  The day ended with a unique FB complement and revelation from our pastor about our kids and a moment she had with them which I had not known about which unveiled their character in a special way...another gift wrapped present.

Every time I find myself fearful, every time I find myself thinking we are in danger of sinking, something comes along to hold me up.  Last week was hard, the coming weeks might be harder, but through it all there is a thread of something that might be difficult to see clearly on those overwhelming days.

Yesterday was a reassuring day, one filled with all the goodness a family could ever ask for.  Today I woke up to a note from our 11 year old son, left for us in the wee hours of the morning as he was readying himself to go to work with his Daddy at 4:00 am.  His last thought as he left the house was of those tucked away in their beds:

It IS a good morning, it really is.
We are safe, and that is enough.

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