Family life continues apace with the boys thirst for knowledge and new experiences seemingly insatiable, but to be honest we'd have it no other way. At a very simple level life revolves around eating, sleeping, school and riding their bikes and whilst this is not an inaccurate summary of life it's also far from the whole picture.
The excitement levels are currently building in the house with the imminent school holiday which starts later today and the World Cup which starts on Friday. We're taking both boys to the Portugal match on the 21st and they can't wait. In the midst of this we're trying to preserve a degree of normality (whatever that is). On the Hayden front, we should be enjoying the last few days of his time with us but one can never be sure what stage things are at with this social worker, see below for more.
Having learnt to ride their bikes the boys love spending more and more time racing around the house and against each other whilst invariably being chased by the dog as she barks her head off. Both Joel and Eli are getting into hockey and enjoy playing it at home too.
Our house is never quiet, in fact, at the moment we are positively the "neighbours from hell" with 3 boys and a mad dog!! Oh well, I think we're getting our own back for something! The amusing thing is never quite knowing what language we are going to speak!
Joel seems to mature by the day at the moment - even his teachers comment on it every time we get chatting! He is keen to choose his clothes now, particularly if we are going to church or he is going to youth club! He had his very first school concert this morning - playing a recorder solo and then a duet with one of his class mates. For this, his hair had to be waxed! He is also excited by every bit of academic progress he makes - being particularly gifted at reading and spelling (got his mother to thank for that!!). He was thrilled to come home with holiday work today - what a far cry from 9 months ago!! Physically he is now up to Paula's shoulders in height and he has a really excellent sense of humour. If he's not riding his bike or reading you will always find Joel creating something - usually a picture or a model!!
Dean was chatting with the principal a few days ago and was really heartened by her very positive comments about Joel, especially after his tough last couple of years which he hasn't really enjoyed. It really is a joy to see him flying at school with a teacher who brings the best out of him and whom he adores.
One of Joel's old teachers described the difference between Joel and Eli this way: "Joel considers the consequences of his actions, Eli just sees everything as a challenge." We love this about Eli as he explores his world, pushes the boundaries and generally lives life in the fast lane. He's a true 'rough & tumble' boy but he still loves his sneaky cuddles with Mummy. We love the fact that our boys are so different that they could never be compared to each other as they both have hugely different personalities and yet they are really tight as brothers.
Eli is really enjoying school and despite being the youngest in his class (though to look at him you'd never know it) he's doing well and really holding his own, so much so that the thought of having a day off school is like a day of punishment for him. Sadly Eli has to say goodbye to his teacher today as she goes to England to work so he'll take that quite hard as he really likes her. He's also grown quite close to Hayden and will be having to say goodbye to him soon too. Please pray for him as he adjusts to these losses in his life.
Things continue to be a bit strange with Hayden. That's not to say that he's strange, in fact he's a great kid who could do really well but that's dependent upon the adults in his life doing their best for him and so far he's been desperately let down. We're seriously frustrated with the social worker and the seemingly ineffective system that holds Hayden's life in its hands. More of that another time but please continue to pray for him as he really needs a long term stable placement, preferably an adoptive one, where he can fly.
Pray too that as he moves on our boys would adapt easily back to life without him, especially Eli who has grown quite close to Hayden.