Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Joshua!

Joshua Turns 7...Hurray!

Joshie's birthday is the day after Christmas. Well, the truth is that is the birthday assigned to him...we don't really know what his real birthdate was. We had the chance to change the birthdate when we adopted him, but elected not to. At moments we have wished we had, so his day would be separated from the hoopla of Christmas but now we all sort of look forward to the extended fun! We had a little celebration back home before we left so he could be with his buddy Zack, but we didn't want to let the day go by here without acknowleding it, so we took all the kids to the Turkistan, the place we first went with the girls that first week when it turned out to be such a struggle and Angela preferred to walk around alone and distant from all of us. She wanted to return to the "scene of the crime" (I say that jokingly) so that THIS time she could go ahead and be a kid and join in the fun. It was good to revisit it and have a different experience with happy memories to leave with.

The girls made Joshua a cute poster with a puppy drawing on it and all our names, and they even brought him a present...this stuffed Kitty Kat! They are really so sweet and at Christmas made everyone (including the Oborn's) each a little heart with drawings and our names on them. They also made us a beautiful Christmas card. On a visit prior we received a little key chain with "I Love You" on it. Of course, these little momentos mean the world to us and will long be treasured.

The kids all had fun climbing the blow up mountain and huge blow up slide. Unfortunately the little cars were not charged so they couldn't ride them. We began again the training that was reminiscent of our first weeks with Kenny as Olesya began asking us each for gum and candy, bouncing back and forth between Mommy and Daddy to see which one might give in. No means no in LaJoy Land, she'll get that eventually :-) The environment and circumstances make it hard though, as we are trying to mix up our visits with some trips out of the orphanage and apartment, and so they see us spending more money than we normally do for this kind of thing. But we have explained more than once that we are not a wealthy family and they will not get everything they want...a difficult thing to combat when we are 100% certain they are being told that very thing from their friends at the orphanage. But Angela seems to understand and I think Olesya does as well...but what the heck, she's a kid and gotta try, right? Hahaha!

We made a list today and will add to it tomorrow of the things we need to make clear to the girls, family rules such as "When Mommy says no, don't go to Daddy expecting a different answer." and "In our family we always say please, thank you and I am sorry.".

Finally got a natural front toothless smile from Joshua!

Here is the inside of the Turkistan, they are readying themselves for the huge New Years celebration which is when Ded Moroz (their version of Santa) and his niece come and distribute presents.

The walls inside the Turkistan, love the little guy in the car with the Kazakh flag (Jocelyne, I DID get a picture of it!)

Here is Ded Moroz and his neice. I found a tiny little porcelain doll of her today for less than $3 bucks. Thus far, that is our only souvenir purchase!

One of my nicest surprises when we arrived to adopt Joshua 5 years ago was how long and beautiful his eyelashes were. It was unexpected and today I still think he is the cutest little guy! It seems his role as baby of the family is safe, as the girls too treat him as if he is quite the sweet little brother...and he is.

Today we changed from every day visitation to every other day, so this was our first "off" day and since it was a tad bit warmer(I think about 5 below 0) we spent it with the Oborn's walking Constitution Avenue which is booming during the summer and quite a pleasant place to people watch. We passed by the old soviet style hotel I stayed in when I was here 2 1/2 years ago. It was long walks on Constitution Avenue and neighboring streets where I laid my heart out to God about the was very meaningful for me to return and as we stumbled upon a Catholic church service when we opened the door thinking the church would be empty, it offered me the perfect opportunity to sit in a pew in this simple little church, while listening to a single nun play a keyboard and sing in Russian "Oh Come All Ye Faithful". How appropriate for us that was, and Jocelyne and I both agreed upon leaving that we had just had our "real" Christmas.

Down the street we saw these police or military men in formation, perhaps prepping for the upcoming holiday festivities.

Here is an example of a single family dwelling here, although this one is in much better shape than most of them we see. The majority look as if they were built 100 years ago and almost ALL we see on our drive into town have sagging walls and leaning, cracked windows with smoke sputtering out of a small chimney. Most of them have these same blue shutters on them, most with peeling paint and often with a red soviet star on a ramshackle fence. There are a few newer homes scattered here and there especially out near the Regional Boarding School where the girls are that are made of brick and quite large, but the overwhelming majority of people live in the apartments which I have already shown photos of in previous posts. Our apartment is very unusual in its size, the one the Oborn's are in is teeny tiny with two bedrooms and a bathroom, and a kitchen that has to be the smallest I have ever seen. But it is clean and warm, and living here for even the shortest time you begin to be very thankful for things you might otherwise take for granted.

Our walk includes scenes like this, there were not very many out enjoying the afternoon today. The white on the side of the trees is a pesticide and ALL trees we have seen in every city in Kazakhstan we have visited have it. It blends in during the winter but during the summer when the background is not white it really stands out.

Everyone here wears black or brown (other than the orange vested work crew at the upper left), and I do mean EVERYONE. While you ocassionally see young girls in pink and light blue coats, the adults all wear dark colors. This makes our kiddos in their red jackets pretty easy to spot anywhere! Note the new warmer hats and scarves which they all loved and have helped a lot! I found a new warmer and longer scarf today as well and the coming week will prove it a wise with wind chill my personal Weatherman Dominick tells me it can get as low as almost 60 below 0!! Our jackets are keeping us quite toasty, but any exposed skin even today sure gets numb quickly. At these temperatures, our legs begin to start hurting and tingling from the cold in about 10 minutes outside, even when keeping moving.

Tomorrow we visit the girls here at the apartment, and we go over questions we might be asked in court with Irina. We are nervous and hope that at least this one stage of the adoption goes without a hitch. We are owed that, don't you think? Court is on Tuesday, we don't yet know what time but we do know that sadly the boys can't go. We might find a nice restaurant to go to so they can dress up and we can all celebrate somehow...the day ought to be marked with something appropriately special!
Dominick will book tickets for himself to go home as soon as we know the outcome of court, and will leave by the end of this week and return in 2-3 weeks to go to the Embassy appointment and help us all manage everything and get home. While I could probably manage it myself, I want to be able to focus on the girls and all their "firsts" as we leave their homeland...and we all say Good Bye for the last time (Yes, I do mean it!!!) to the place we have all come to know and love so much.

After court, assuming we have a happy verdict, we will post the first clear photos of the girls.

Hope you all have a Happy New Year week!


Anonymous said...

Ooooh yes, Joshie does have beautiful lashes. All of your boys have those beautiful exotic asian eyes and don't even need lashes to make them look irresistible.
More than that, their eyes are a window into their warm hearts. It's what's INSIDE that counts and you've nurtured them to have such wonderful "insides" which we admire the LaJoys for.

Kelly and Sne said...

Happy Birthday Joshua!

Sorry we've been out of touch but we are celebrating the holidays at the beach and without good internet connectivity. I'm so happy to see that things have turned around and are going well and that court is just around the corner! What a wonderful Christmas wish come true!

Jane said...

Hi Joshie,

Mr Steve and I were just talking about your birthday. Wow, 7 years old!

Looks like you had a wonderful celebration with your family. We miss you BUNCHES and wish you a belated very happy birthday. I'll bet you've really grown since you've been in Kaz! It will be great to see you again, soon!

Much love,
Mr Steve and Miss Jane

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Joshie! It must be different celebrating your birthday in Kaz! I bet you will never forget your 7th birthday! I love the pictures - you are one handsome dude! So happy you will be bringing your big sisters home! Miss you and love you lots! Miss Joan

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry we didn't write yesterday to wish a very Happy Birthday - our house has been flu central the past few days. We hope you had a wonderful day, and we are missing you so much. Zack is so excited that you will (hopefully) be coming home sooner than we had thought. He really misses you, and even thought about keeping his lost tooth to show it to you when you got home!!! Happy Birthday sweet Josh - we love you and miss you.

Paige said...

Joshua sure is a sweetie pie! I'm getting cold just reading this post...can't imagine what -60 degrees is like. Excited for you all! Good luck on Tuesday.

Hilary Marquis said...

Happy B-day Joshua!!! What a special place to spend your 7th birthday :) You're right about the eyelashes, that was the first thing that entered my mind when I saw the picture, then I read the comment! Stay warm.

Anonymous said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOSHUA!! It looks like you sure had a fun celebration!

All of the LaJoy children have beautiful eyes and lashes. Stay warm and healthy and wishes for a wonderful New Year.

You are a great family!

Kimberly said...

Happy Birthday Josua! Looks like you had a wonderful birthday!
I can't believe you have court in less than two days! Praying for smooth going! You are entitled to that and MUCH MUCH MORE
Love to you guys!

Anonymous said...

Will pray for you as I go to sleep tomorrow night, and any time I wake up during the night, for your court day to go smoothly.

It's wonderful to read about how you all are beginning your journey together as a family.

With much love and prayers of thankful praise,

Peggy in Virginia

Anonymous said...

Thank you for introducing us to the sights of your temporary home. Here it got up to 23 degrees today. Now I realize that was positively balmy. I won't say HB to Josh here. I'll say it to him on his blog, but I'm glad you are together enjoying the holy days, the days of birth and promise.

Love to all of you,