Wednesday, September 2, 2015

goodbye summer, hello school

In this family...
We all have our "freak out" moments, me included. We are all learning and building trust with one another, me included.  We have had a busy summer, all of us finding our place in this uncommon family dynamic, me included.
I am trying to get use to the looks as I walk into a room with four kids, one scarcely 15 years younger than me. I am trying to get used to seeing people from the past and answering so many questions because they were unaware of the adoption. I am trying to get over the dirty looks I get when I walk into the grocery store with my oldest son and people think I am 'robbing the cradle' or the comment, "oh you started young." Seriously???
As for the kids, a sense of anxiety has begun to creep into this home. The safety of summer slowly sets as we flip our calendar page and the letters read SEPTEMBER...
There have been trials, and triumphs. There have been struggles, and sacrifices. But through it all there has been permanency.
Alex and Yana have spent the summer experiencing things they have never had an opportunity to do; Things as simple as a drive through car wash. Yana telling those blue soapy flying objects touching the car, to be "careful... careful" as they rub over the hood. Or, as I drive down to visit the San Diego Zoo with four kids in tow, and Alex asking me if there are any bears at this Zoo? I told him yes, there are polar bears.  
He looks at me with bright young eyes and said "WHITE?!?"  I shook my head yes, as a huge smile appeared on that 17 years olds face.

 Every Klimas kid had picked one thing to do this summer, giving everyone one special thing, one hobby to make them feel like an individual in this bustling bursting home.

Alex of course has been playing soccer on a competitive club team, and although soccer is something he has played for years with his friends in the orphanage, he has never been coached; Never had an adult mentor to help to push him and grow to be better. This growth has inched into other places, as he adjusts and attaches to his new big life in San Diego, with his family of 6. He has began to think about future goals, and for now wants to coach soccer.
Such a cool thing. Five months ago, this boys future was dim, but now he has future goals he has set for himself. Totally a blessing.

Yana was harder to find a  hobby for, as she would be content playing or skateboarding all day.  Yana you want to play soccer? No. Yana you wanna go for a run with me? No. Yana you want to play the ukulele with Elliot? No. Yana you want to do dance? No. You want to do gymnastics? No. Yana you want to be in a play? No. Yana you want to play volleyball? No. So, what do you want to do? 'Play with dogs.' We have signed her up for Petco training classes with our black lab Lady, since she is to young to volunteer at the Humane Society. She is enjoying it and it has given her so much confidence! (She now claims Lady as her dog, not the family dog.)

This summer, Lily has had swimming lesson with the amazing Mrs. Shreve and as that ended, soccer began. Yep. She is playing soccer, like her big brother. Alex comes to every practice and critiques her skills. "We need practice Lily, everyday." Although this is not her first season, it is the first one where she is actually wants to play instead of sitting on the sidelines eating snacks. She even has weekly practices. So big, I can't believe how much she has grown up in the last year.

Elliot...everyone says that teenagers are hard, but that is because four-year-old tantrums are a distant memory. Since I have children that range from 17 to 4, I can honestly tell you, the youngest is the hardest.
 She has spent a few seasons of soccer and gymnastics and ballet sitting on my lap crying. After so many tear-filled lessons, we have finally found something she can do while sitting on my lap. Miss Beth has patiently blessed us with teaching this little monkey to play the Ukulele. She is learning "you are my sunshine" right now, and it makes me beam when she asks me to sit down so she can climb on my lap to practice. Our special time.
School has started this week, and being home with mom has come to an abrupt halt.
We have decided to keep Yana in 7th grade one more year. Lily is in first. Elliot is pre-kindergartener and Alex is in eleventh grade.


And as my partner teacher and I excitedly decorated and prepared for the fast approaching school year... The Klimas kids shared in the happiness. Helping to hang chevron pattern borders around the perimeter of the burlap, hanging clean freshly sown seat covers over the chairs, and placing sharpen pencils into a table basket waiting to be used. 
And after helping mom (which they all call me now), smoothies at Costco as a much needed reward. 
Yesterday, Yana had her first homework assignment for her English class. Fill a brown paper bag with items from different categories. A Me-Bag. What is a hobby of yours? Favorite food? And how is your family special? were just some of the categories.
 As I sit there across from her at the kitchen table, and read the questions to her, "how is your family special"...she looks at me. I was thinking, this will be an easy answer for her, but her eye brows raised and her forehead wrinkled...I dunno, came from her lips.
She could not think of one thing different about our family than any other family. I guess we are not that uncommon after all, at least Yana doesn't think so.
There are moments of chaos, and moments of peace. This summer, we have had so many praiseworthy moments. These are the moments that outweigh the stress, that outweigh the hurt, and that outweigh the mistakes.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33


  1. She might be too young to volunteer at the humane society, but there are all sorts of small rescues that she could help. If you didn't mind having extra dogs around she could volunteer to foster dogs for a small rescue. I suspect Mission Viejo is a bit far for you (Orange County), but my vet's rescue, Compassionate Animal Rescue for Medical Aid (CARMA) put out a call about a week ago saying they needed fosters for some of their rescues:
    Beyond that, figure out which rescues do adoptions at your nearest PetSmart or Petco, they're usually smallish rescue groups, and they can usually use help either fostering, or helping staff weekend adoptions, etc.

  2. Animals can be so healing! That's wonderful!

  3. So glad to hear there are highs along with your lows! I am an Ohian where 4H is a really big deal. I am, however, a NJ transplant and our more urban 4-H groups have enormous dog clubs where the students learn agility, obedience, etc. with their dogs. It might be a great way for Yana to make some friends and have the dog along as a bridge. I nosed around and you might be in luck . . . I still think what you have done is so amazing. Have a great school year!!

  4. . .. . sorry, just a few other ideas for Yana . . .

    Nose around for a dog show in your area. Emailing the American Kennel Club would be my first try other than some google investigating. (If you can find a "bench" show, where the dogs are on display you could talk to breeders, groomers and handlers because they will all be in one spot. I think you have mentioned that she like Huskies, ) There are "junior handlers", youth that show dogs "professionally", and that might be something that interests her. The only reason I know this is my dad bred English Setters for a bit. It can be a interesting mix of people but there are load of "career" options. The Oakley family has a woman, their private handler, who drives around in an enormous Prevost motor home showing their English Setters for them. Like all careers, I guess it is where you land and what you make of it.

    I know our local Cabela's (again, not something I am sure the west coast has) hosts the competitions where the dogs jump into pools - something that would be different and fun seeing you have a lab that might be water-inclined. Southern California Dock Dogs has a Web site: Your entire famly might enjoy watching that. It is unreal!

  5. School is always a big shift! For my daughter, being back in an institution, surrounded by age mates was/is a huge trauma trigger. We homeschool now…which is not an easy path for this single teacher! But, we make it work.

    Wishing you a wonderful school year!

    And, so glad that you're life is just "common" now--at least in Yana's eyes.

  6. Hoping you're all settling in to the new school routine.