Sunday, May 03, 2015

All Work and No Play Makes for a Boring Team LaJoy!

Last week was a semi-vacation break.  We have had a lot on our hearts and minds, and we all needed some time together to simply be a family...no work schedules, no worries (as much as possible), no school, no early rising.  Sometimes it is important to listen to that little voice that warns you that reconnecting is really necessary in any given moment in time, and that is what we did.  We listened, and we decided to just be present with one another.

That doesn't mean we didn't work on some smaller projects around the house, do a little yard work, etc. but we did take time to stay up late and watch movies, to sleep in late and ease our way into the day, and to hang out.  One day  we just went to a local park taking along bikes for some of the kids, and we went on a long walk:


Our city just added a new feature at our favorite park, and now the river is set up such that you can put kayaks and other floats in there, or easily walk down stone steps to fly fish.  They did a beautiful job of enhancing the park and this was our first glimpse of it.



Dominick and Matt are watching fly fisherman.



Josh, Kenny and the girls all brought bikes, while Matt's back can't handle that yet.




So much for being Big Kids! Haha!

Afterward, for a "big treat" to make the day special, we went to Burger King and had milk shakes.  Yup, we LaJoy's live life on the wild side, I tell you!  However, after walking and biking 3 or 4 miles, that icy cold shake hit the spot.

We live in a place that is admittedly less than exciting for most "city folk".  We have a bowling alley and a swimming pool, a movie theater and a Drive In, but that is truly about it.  If you need entertainment that is more arts and culture oriented, this is definitely not the place to be.  But the views...man, the views are incredible, and we have many parks to enjoy, rivers, mountains, and more.  
As the week went on, we did a few projects:


All the bikes needed maintenance, and Josh is doing a fine job repairing tires and brakes these days. 


Matthew saved us a fortune by repairing THREE laptops, including changing out keyboards, cleaning the components, and soldering in new plugs.  Yes, we are very lucky to have our own personal IT Guy, though Angela has also done her own repairs, changing out her own iPad screen!  I love how the kids are learning how to do such tasks, and are so willing to tackle them:



Yesterday, we decided it was time to take the new Christmas gift from Grandma out for her maiden voyage.  We went to a local park with a small lake, and spent the afternoon on the water and walking/biking the trails.  It was an eye opening experience in some ways for Dominick, as the kids needed instructions to be able to properly inflate and use the kayak.  Kenny was assisting, and perhaps for the first time Dominick really and truly saw in a concrete way how Kenny struggles.  It is not that he hasn't known, but that he hasn't experienced it in a learning environment in quite the same way I have, and often when he is teaching Kenny something, it is a hands on activity.  This time, he was reading aloud from an instruction book, and didn't realize how little Kenny was catching of the verbal instructions.  Auditory Processing Disorder can be debilitating, and it has been estimated that Kenny is only picking up on about 40% of what is said to him if it isn't accompanied by visuals or interactive discussion.  Wow, was that apparent yesterday!  He tries so hard, and comes across as so articulate and engaged, that people seldom realize just how handicapped this young man really is.  We are continuing to pursue getting help for him and an evaluation for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, as that appears to be the underlying problem.  I often look back though, and think how glad I am that we elected to homeschool, because of all the kids, Kenny has benefited the most from that decision.  We still have a long way to go, but he has made enormous progress and continues to do so.  

However, walking through the world as Kenny LaJoy is not easy.  He has the most amazingly positive attitude of anyone I know, but he endures a lot of frustration, and a lot of misunderstanding.  Having what is essentially a "broken brain" is very, very painful on so many levels.  As he matures, he is more self-aware, and that also makes it harder.  The good thing is that he CAN learn, but he sure has to be taught differently, and I continue to learn new approaches with each passing day.

Eventually, after multiple explanations, we got the "yellow submarine" kayak on the water:

Isn't she beautiful??  Thanks grandma!


Hurray!  Finally on the water!


Good exercise for Matt, who is starting to go a little stir crazy lately with the lack of much physical activity as his back heals.


Lessie didn't stay in the kayak long, she has a little fear of the water, but is working on it!


And Dominick is just like her and refuses to go in the water because he doesn't know how to swim...he jokes that he sinks well!! Haha!

Western Colorado has been showing off this past week, with the most stunning blue skies and clouds.  Made for a really beautiful afternoon.


How these kids love their Daddy!  Every one of them adores this man, who has worked so hard for them, and does his best to spend as much time as possible with them, too.  Here we are, smack dab in the middle of the supposedly awful teen years, and we have been so blessed that these years have been just was wonderful, warm, and loving as the earlier years were.  We continue to wait for the other shoe to drop, as so many have told us "just wait...it gets worse."  So far, so good...and I can't think of five more interesting, thoughtful, sharp, kind young people to be around.  Well...I might be just a wee bit biased :-)


Even Sunny came along for the afternoon!  However, she stayed in Dry Dock...

As the kids occupied themselves on bikes and with the kayak and little blow up boat we also brought, Dominick and I went for a long walk around the lake, talking as we strolled, catching up, becoming almost re-acquainted with one another.  We spoke about the past 15 years of our lives and what a ride it has been, and where the next 15 might lead us.  After so many years of being exhausted by such incredibly long hours at work, it has been quite an adjustment for Dominick to be able to rise at a reasonable hour, and to be awake past 7:00 pm.  He has free time that he doesn't know what to do with, and of course great concern over the fact that he has the free time in the first place.  It is a huge adjustment, and we talked honestly and openly about the need for us to learn to be around one another more.  I have literally spent almost 29 years virtually alone every evening, and waking alone as well.  We were ships that passed as we snored at night.  In some ways, it might be a preview of what retirement might one day feel like (if we can ever retire!) and we each need to make figure out a new normal.  While wonderful, it doesn't mean it isn't odd at first.  I am so glad we have the sort of relationship where we can look at one another, admit such things, and laugh about it without either party being offended.   It allows for an honesty that helps us in so many ways!  No doubt, in time, a new routine will be settled into, and we will wonder how we ever lived any other way.  What will help is if we can feel somewhat secure in our future, as certainly that effects everything right now as well.

Today, after playing all day yesterday, we had an enormous project to work on...the dreaded Annual Garage Cleanup.  Those who know us or have read the blog might recall that THIS is usually the deal breaker, THIS is the thing that brings about our One Big Annual Argument every single year, always in early spring.  Don't get me wrong, he is a hot headed Italian, and I am a not-always-subdued German, so there are more small altercations throughout the year as our hard headedness gets in the way of good ol' common sense, but this Annual Garage Cleanup ALWAYS triggers it for me!! Haha!  I am a structured, organized Virgo who fits the usual descriptions to a "T", while Dominick is a typical Aquarian in that he is...uh...unpredictable and a bit less organized (a huge understatement! Haha!).  This year, though, I couldn't fault him, as everything that had to be moved out of the airport restaurant that couldn't be shed had to come home, so we had quite a mess to organize.  Dominick worked all day detailing cars and washing 18 wheelers, so the kids and I got our groove on, and kicked it into high gear cleaning, so he wouldn't have to face it...also...shhhh...it meant we could get rid of things while he wasn't there to say, "But I might use that someday!!", so we all hustled to take advantage of our window of opportunity!!:


Before the cleaning commenced


Sorting into piles...electrical...paint supplies (remember all the painting projects?  7 people painting means 7 rollers, etc.)


Ta da!!!  BEEEYOOOTIFUL!!
Seven hours of sorting, cleaning, tossing, and organizing times six people is 42 man hours of work
Team LaJoy strikes again!!

We look a little Cooler Happy there on the top shelf, don't we??
And yes, that IS 6 #10 cans of chili, thank you very much!  And 12 lbs of spaghetti, 8 lbs of penne pasta, and only 4 lbs of elbow macaroni.  It won't take long for that to disappear, sadly.

Tomorrow will be church, then home for a lazy afternoon.  Josh has discovered a new book series and has read 2 1/2 books over the past 7 days, each one over 400 pages long...I am betting he finishes book 3 tomorrow afternoon :-)  The girls will likely practice Russian, Kenny might watch a video, Matt will probably play Sim City and continue to build his metropolis, and Dominick and I just might take a nap...or read...or do as little as possible.  It will be a relaxing end to a week filled with not a whole lot that was very exciting, but was fulfilling in all sorts of ways.

A little work, a little play, a lot of love.  What else could anyway want?

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