Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Day of Goodbyes

Today marked the day of departure for James' best friend Madiyar and his Mom Dee. They had come to visit for the w/e, arriving on Friday afternoon from Mass. James and Madiyar were friends together in their orphanage in Kazakhstan, and this reunion meant more to them than can easily be put into words. They had a wonderful time, and Dee and I got some much-needed free therapy in talking to each other about the ups and downs of surviving the adoption of older kids. It was validating and reassuring to feel that someone else was going through almost the same issues.

Shortly after they left for their drive back to the airport, I headed to the barn to secure the hay delivery that had come yesterday afternoon. But I stopped short when I got there and saw my beloved friend Jasper lying dead on the barn floor. Although there was no obvious cause of death, he was, after all, 25 years old. And after Flurry died, he lost something. The twinkle in his eye was no longer there.
But he had a quick and painless end to his long life. He was out in the field yesterday grazing in the sunshine and getting hugs and kisses from his family, and today he was gone. No long decline with multiple health problems, just living as a horse should up to the end.
I'd had him for 17 years and through that time he's gone from a fractious young thing that would take me on gallops with the wind blowing through our hair, to a more sedate older gentleman that had become quiet and trustworthy.
We've had a sad year surviving the loss of so many horses. One year ago, our sweet Midnight, 30 years old, had to be put down due to health issues. Then over the summer we found a new home for our sweet pony Sky, aged 19, who could no longer live on grassy fields because of foundering. Not more than a few months later, we had to put down old Flurry, aged 30+, who had a heart murmur, was blind, had horrible teeth making it difficult for her to get adequate nutrition, and was lame in two legs.
And now, finally, my friend Jasper, who went on his own terms.

Goodbye, Jasper. I'll remember you always .....

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Yesterday was a big day. January 9th marked the one year anniversary of when James and Julie arrived home. Unfortunately, Fred is away right now at a conference, so we didn't get to do much as a family, but we still honored this special day in small ways.

I cooked a requested breakfast of eggs, sausage and toast. We looked over photo albums of our days together in Kazakhstan. We talked about our respective memories of Jan 9th 2009. We made a cake and all sang Happy Anniversay to You! All meaning myself, our kids, and 5 of Patrick's friends who happened to be over.

Here are my blog posts from a year ago, starting with James and Julies' flight from Ust Kamenogorsk to Almaty, and ending with their first full day at our home.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Who would have ever thought that I, the Blogging Queen, could go over a month without so much as a nod to my blog?
Who would have ever thought that I could let two holidays pass without so much as a blip?

Who would have ever thought that I could get through the Christmas break with my six darlings home for 12 days with only a handful more grey hairs?

Well, it's all true.

I last posted at Thanksgiving. From the next day forward I was busy what seemed like every second of every day decorating inside and out, baking, shopping on-line and off-line, thinking of gifts for no less than 16 teachers, wrapping scores of presents (well over a hundred at last count), and assembling castles and doll houses. Attending Christmas parties and presentations, helping children make homemade Christmas presents for classroom gift exchanges - such a charming idea (sorry, is my sarcasm showing?), cooking dozens of Russian bliny for "culture day" for two classrooms, taking the kids out to shop for their "Stockings for Kids" and "Hat and Mitten Tree" at school, sending in fruit trays, creating and sending out our Christmas card and newsletter, getting our tree, taking the kids out to see the holiday lights, visiting with out-of-state friends and family .... and .... pant, pant, gasp. Someone please check my blood pressure.

Anyway, it was all worth it. The kids had a magical Christmas season, and believe it or not, I did too. I love the beauty of Christmas and can't get enough of it. In fact, though it's past New Year's, we still haven't taken down our tree and decorations. James says he wants to leave it all up till his friend Madiyar visits later this month and I just may do that.

Of course my "old kids" loved it like always. But our "new kids" were just beside themselves for weeks. They loved every aspect of it, from opening cards and Advent calendars to hiking through the cold to find our tree and of course opening gifts Christmas morning. As the icing on the cake (literally), we even had a white Christmas this year, with plenty of snow play and ice skating on our pond in the days before the big event.

We kept to our usual Christmas Eve traditions of driving out to see a holiday lights drive-thru display at the Herr's Factory, then home to set up the manger, put out cookies and milk and a loving note from the kids for Santa, and each opening one homemade gift. James and Bella got custom-covered body pillows, Patrick and Julie got homemade "snuggies", Rosie got a beautiful lighted display cabinet made by Fred to display a movie sheet for New Moon, and Daniel got a hand-carved and decorated walking stick for his nature hikes. Mom and Dad each got some beautifully made cards and loving poems. Then off to bed for the kids. It's been their tradition every year that they all sleep in one room on Christmas Eve. Wasn't sure if we'd be able to manage it this year, but somehow all six kids snuggled down for the night in Julie's room, snug as bugs in a rug. Of course, Fred and I (and my visiting sister Mary) were up a bit longer bringing gifts down to set up under the tree, but we were done by about 11:30, so not too shabby.

Still, 5am (our Minimal Acceptable Time) came pretty early as they all ran in to our room and jumped on our bed screaming Merry Christmas. We always make them wait at the top of the steps while we go down and turn on the Christmas lights, start the coffee and ready the video camera. We go s-l-o-w-l-y just to torture them, which is more fun than should be legal.

For the next several hours they emptied their stockings of treasures, ate candy, and took turns opening gifts. Santa brought Julie and Bella i-Pod Nanos, Patrick an i-Pod Touch, Rosie a laptop, James a stereo, and Daniel a castle for his knights. Fred and I supplied them with plenty of clothes, books, video games, movies, Barbies, and whatever else sucked the credit cards out of our wallets to last 'em for a while. The pile under the tree was nothing short of obnoxious. I know I should be ashamed of myself. But you know what? It's once a year. And really, the years between 4 and maybe 14 are the ones you just giddy about, so 10 years out of 80 or 90 I say let 'er rip, do it up big with no holds barred.

Over break we also went to the book store and the mall to let the kids spend some gift cards they received, went ice skating at an indoor rink, had some family friends over (more ice skating on the pond), and went to the movies a couple times. We rang in the new year quietly, seeing Avatar in the evening (phenomenal movie) and then stayed home with one friend over to help us make some noise and drink some sparkling cider.

Now here I sit, on the brink of our lives returning to some sense of normalcy as the kids return to school. We had fun. Lots of fun.

But I'll be glad to see that school bus motoring down the road toward our house tomorrow morning .....

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