Monday, March 2, 2015

Ever-Changing, Ever-Growing

First day!!

     Our little girl had her first day of fifth grade today.  The changes are happening so fast around here, I need to stop and process.....and write things down before I forget in the midst of the whirlwind.  Proverbs 16:9 defines my life time and again....."We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps."  I"ll never doubt that God called us to homeschool our kids, but I also do not doubt that for some, it may have been only for a season.  I never would have been purposeful in doing preschool with the boys, or prepared to start kindergarten with Caleb this year....and I certainly would have been much too overwhelmed to homeschool an eleven year old who spoke a different language than me and did not have much of the foundation needed in other areas, had we not felt the push to at least consider home schooling a few years ago.  And I can't imagine not having done so.

      We have been so blessed with the experiences we've shared together, and these first (almost) six months with Keira have been instrumental in getting to where we are now.  But the foundation has been laid.....the security and attachment....time to learn what it is to be family....time to push the limits and test our love....time to give and receive love that was missing for so long.....sure it'll never make up for all the lost years, but it's there.  It took time, though less than I expected, and we'll never be "done".....but it seems that almost overnight our little girl has begun to grow up.  The things that would have petrified her just a few short months ago, she is now requesting.  Changing bedrooms to the one a bit farther from ours.....the grown up room.....the one she'd never move into.  Growing out her bangs.....wanting to look more grown up.  Really growing into her role as big sister, lowering the expectations for little brothers and realizing the need for each child to be treated differently.....loved the same, but parented differently.  The frequent arguments and competition amongst them almost non-existent these days.  Understanding at a new level.  And then.....maybe the biggest surprise.....wanting to go to public school.  We could sense that she had begun to feel more secure....and in the midst of that, we could also sense some restlessness.....that something was missing for her, and I knew.

      Though I'd never want to speak for her, it seems that friendships were maybe the only positive aspect of living one's entire life in an institution.  And even then, there were struggles, but these friends were really family.  And for one who loves so strongly and has so much compassion for others, her closest friends were everything to her.  They are truly the reason she is here today.....the reason that she was willing to risk so much, go against what so many were telling her, and to boldly say yes to our family.  Because she trusted them above all others.  But in doing so, she struggles with that deep loss......the loss of those friendships that were her world.  And as she has begun to adjust and feel secure here in her new life, I think the wounds of that loss have resurfaced.  And she wonders if she'll have those close relationships again.....with others her age.....  We were at a play area over vacation and she met a boy....a bit younger, but seemingly close in age to her.....she had been a bit mopey that morning, but when she began to play and they ran around together, she came alive.  It's not that we keep her isolated and she has no friends, because she has made a few very sweet friends, and try out best to be involved in several activities throughout the week.  But I can't imagine having been around other kids 24/7 my entire life.....literally every second of the day and night....and then to spend most of my days with two toddlers.  They play wonderfully together and they all truly adore each other.....but she needs more.  When she first mentioned hesitantly about school, I wasn't sure she was serious.  But the more we talked, the more I realized that this is what she needs.  At least for now.  She is beside herself with excitement.  I know it will be good, for all of us really.....but it's still hard to let go.  Ultimately, I'm excited for her......and I'm excited to see how she impacts those around her, because I know she will.    

         I felt nervous this morning...I think more than she did.  It felt so surreal.  As we walked in amongst the other children, she eagerly took my hand....hugged and kissed me goodbye once inside, and walked to her classroom.  As I drove away, it was a replay of leaving Levi on his first day this year.....the tears came, seemingly out of nowhere, and wouldn't stop.  Love is crazy....I love these kids so much....I know she'll do great....I do believe it's where she needs to be....but boy is it a little empty around here today without her.  And the little worries...who will she sit with at lunch?  Will the other kids laugh if she says something wrong?  I know she'll be fine....but maybe I feel even more protective for a kiddo who didn't have someone looking out for her for so many years.....and here is where I'm reminded of where my trust needs to lie.

          And in the end....she had a great day!  So excited to share everything with was a special time for us as the boys napped and she spilled out everything about her day....sweet kids wanting to help her, caring teachers and so many new experiences.  I'm so happy for her!

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School time....really not sure where they learn these things!!

    With two in school, my mornings will be spent with my favorite four year old.  One on one attention is rare around here, but at this age, Caleb lovvesss his mommy so it really couldn't be a better time to treasure this opportunity.  In the midst of a meltdown a little while back, he declared that he wanted to lock he and I in his room...FOREVER.  I know it will be nice for us to do more little kid stuff again.....go back to MOPS and make story time a priority.  We'll keep up with kindergarten but in a freer way.

     It's really crazy how much this boy has grown and matured in the past few months.....I guess that's what happens when you have a big sister to look up to.  He has tried so hard to be her do whatever she does and keep up with her.  He has seemingly learned as much Russian as me, just hearing us speak it the first couple of months (and I've been trying to learn for what seems like forever!)....and he's...four.  He'll do the whole accent and everything.....and when it's just the two of them...he and at gymnastics.....he'll often explain things to her in our broken Russian/English way.  Her own little translator/helper.  He's learned so much about having to share and take think first and ask someone else what they'd prefer, before just pushing for his own way.  He'll stop and make a card for his sister or brother when they're not feeling well....because he's seen someone else do it time and again.

     There has been a lot of change for this boy in the past few years....good changes that have only helped to teach him valuable lessons and shape him into the sweet, confident, smart boy he is.  But in many ways, I think this time is needed.  He has no lack of love in his life, and certainly gets plenty of attention and opportunity.....but the focus for quite a while was on his little brother....early intervention coming 2-3 times a week (and always so sweetly incorporating him too, but still he was not the focus).....and then weeks away while we traveled....and a big sister, finally home, who required a lot of our time and attention....and I know I've said "just a second" and "yup, in a little bit" maybe too many times.  It's normal, I's good for the world not to revolve around me, I know.  But now it's his time...even for just a couple hours every morning....and I think it will be precious time together.  

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Real guitar on hold to play the Barbie guitar....always a character!

        And then there's Levi.....oh this boy!  One who is SO lovable and kisses to each child on the bus as he gets off....and then such a crazy man the next moment!  He sure has given us a run for our money!!  But oh what a blessing to watch each of these very different children learn and grow.  And this boy is surely learning and growing this year.  We keep hearing ourselves say "he's so big!!" as he surprises us more and more.  If I said he wasn't a bystander anymore before...I really mean it now.  He 100% wants to keep up with the big kids....though he still has his own distinct interests.  The words are coming more and more and it's so fun to watch as he eagerly tries to copy us and use the words he's learning.  Currently everything is "ew" and "yuck"'s either that or a resounding "MINE"!

       For almost two years we've had the same bedtime routine....reading a book and rocking him as we sing "Jesus Loves Me."  Recently he started wanting to peruse the bookshelf to pick different books each time and now he has started to request "star!!" (twinkle twinkle little star) and will say several of the words, while doing some motions with the song.  It sounds so simple, but for how long we've been working on these things, it's really incredible to be seeing this progress.  And to watch him coming into his own with so many preferences.....he's really found his voice, in more ways than one!

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          The days are sometimes slow, but boy do the months fly by, and with that have come so many constant changes that remind me to keep stopping and enjoying each moment.  I am so thankful for these precious gifts God has blessed us with and for the plan He had for our family!


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