Being Bob Ross

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Wednesday began busy with the fun of our co-op’s Halloween party and ended on the same busy note with “Trick or Treating for Seniors.”

Every year around Halloween our church participates in a special service project…”trick or treat for seniors.” In essence we create a trick or treating experience for the patients at a local nursing home.  We do this by “building” a Halloween village in the recreation hall of the nursing home. Preparation for this evening begins weeks before the actual event as organizations and families from church begin brainstorming to come up with ideas for their “house.” We then drive to a local furniture store where we pick up a pile of large cardboard boxes which are left in the gym closet for people to come and collect for their Halloween creations. It is then a few day or a few weeks (depending on the box) of cutting, taping, and painting to create the Halloween boxes. As you will see in the pictures, some people go all out with their creations! On the evening of the activity families arrive early to begin setting up their boxes. At 7:00 the actual trick or treating begins as volunteers wheel the patients around our village and we hand out treats like candy, crackers, cookies and applesauce. The senior citizens enjoy seeing the boxes and the children handing out treats. At the end of the evening the nursing home thanks us with the treat of cookies and juice. It is a really neat event and a lot of fun for everyone involved.

When we arrived home from co-op we had just a little bit of time before we had to head over to the nursing home so we began getting ready after we put away our backpacks and lunch boxes.

Dinner was quickly prepared. It was Gracie’s dinner night so she started dinner, Chicken Italiano, while I put the finishing touches on costumes.

This was the first year that all of the kids were manning boxes created by their youth groups. Gracie and Molly were handing out treats with the Young Women. Rusty was running a box with the Young Men and Ozzie and Tyler were with the cub scouts so Toby and I were on our own. We decided to do a couple costume.

Both of us tapped into our early childhood memories of PBS programing and decided to be Bob Ross and his happy little tree.

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The girls dressed as Native American Indians to hand out treats at their Teepee.

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sda

The cub scouts made a tombstone that read, “Here lies ‘The Guy.'”

They thought they were very funny. :)

My cubs.

My cubs.

The young men made an outhouse, complete with a toilet inside, that served as the treat bucket. One patient found it particularly funny when the boys reached in the toilet and pulled out a treat.

The Young Men's box.

The Young Men’s box.

Laughing hard :)

Laughing hard :)

All the boxes were very creative. Here is a look at some of the other “village” houses.

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The Nelson Ninjas!

The Nelson Ninjas!

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This activity is one of those annual traditions that I look forward to with a mix of emotions. It is a labor intensive service project that always leaves us wondering whether it is worth all the effort. But then we show up, spend a fun night with all of our friends from church, and see the joy it brings the residents  and we are reminded why we keep coming back.

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Bob Ross making friends :)

“As we lose ourselves in the service of others we discover our own lives and our own happiness.” – Uchtdorf

Co-op Halloween Fun!

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Wednesday was our home school co-op’s Halloween party. The kids were up early to get all dolled up in their Halloween costumes before we had to leave to drop Ozzie off at school.

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The cast from “Up.” Young Carl, young Ellie, Kevin and Dug.

The usual schedule was altered to allow time for our party at the end of the day. Rotating through 45 minute blocks, the kids did their history, science, art and music classes with their classmates before we met in the basement of the church for lunch, games and trick or treating.

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Lunch was a pot luck smorgasbord of yummy dishes like spider bites (cookies), ogre fingers (hot dogs), cheesy slugs (mac and cheese) and monster vomit (fruit salad).

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Following lunch we split the kids in groups of 6-7 kids to rotate through a series of Halloween games that were run by the moms.

The "Eww gross" touchy feely box was a hit with the little kids.

The “Eww gross” touchy feely box was a hit with the little kids.

The kids racing to pick up marshmallows with chopsticks.

The kids raced to pick up marshmallows with chopsticks.

In the elephant walk game the kids had to knock over a set of bottles using only their "trunks." This was a fun game to watch!

In the elephant walk game the kids had to knock over a set of bottles using only their “trunks.” This was a fun game to watch!

The mummy races were also very entertaining!

The mummy races were also very entertaining!

Gracie and Viola

Gracie and Viola

Halloween BINGO!

Halloween BINGO!

Donut eating races were fun and messy!

Donut eating races were fun and messy!

Gracie and Olivia got the giggles during the donut race. :)

Gracie and Olivia got the giggles during the donut race. :)

One of the favorite stations was the dark room filled with glow in the dark games.

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The day ended with trick or treating. The moms stationed themselves around the outside of the room and the kids walked mom to mom, collecting their treats.

Trick or Treating

Trick or Treating

My kids had a blast with all their friends. It was fun having some of our previous co-op friends come and join us as well. We finished packing up just in time to pick up Ozzie from school then it was dinner, costume changes, and off to Beaver Valley Rehab Unit for round two of a fun-filled day.

*Stay tuned for round two!*

Trunk or Treat

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On Saturday night we had the opportunity to open up our home for our church’s annual fall party and “trunk or treat.” Much of the day on Saturday was spent preparing for this fun activity. The kids were huge helps as we prepared the house and yard for company.

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The evening consisted of two parts. First, beginning at 5:30, was Trunk or Treat for the kids. Families that wanted to participate came early to set up and decorate their car for the trick or treaters that would be moving trunk to trunk. Since we had parked our cars away from the house to free up parking for visitors, Grace and Rusty set up a card table as their “trunk” to hand out candy on behalf of our family. In honor of their Halloween costumes this year they had an “UP” themed “trunk.”

Ellie and Carl

Ellie and Carl

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The turnout for “Trunk or Treat” was wonderful, due in a large part to the beautiful weather. We couldn’t have asked for better conditions. It was sunny and the temperature was ideal. Perfect for a fall party!

"Trunk or Treat"

“Trunk or Treat”

Grace handing out candy.

Grace handing out candy.

When Trunk or Treat was completed it was time for part 2 of the evening…dinner and games!

Everyone was asked to bring chili or soup to share. There was also bread and butter, hot dogs for the kids, the makings for s’mores and of course hot apple cider.

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This was Ozzie’s first Trunk or Treat and he loved it! He especially enjoyed the games…

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There was “Ewww Gross,” a grossly fun opportunity to feel “brains,” “eyeballs,” and “witch’s tongues,” among other things.

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The kids enjoyed “Needle in the Haystack,” where they had the chance to dig through a pile of hay in search of treats and treasures.

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“Bowling for Ghosts” is always a hit!

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The kids had the chance to earn jars of candy in the “Guess how Many” game.

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The big hit of night for Tyler and some of the other little boys was the “Touchdown” football toss.

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In addition to the games there was the “Draw you best monster face” activity at the chalkboard…

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Fun around the campfire…

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And, of course, hayrides!!

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It was a beautiful night spent with wonderful friends.

We are so blessed to have such a great church family!

The following day Harley enjoyed the leftover games from the party. His favorite??

Finding the candy left in the haystack ;)

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Cub Scout Motto

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Ozzie and Tyler- cub scouts and brothers.

Ozzie and Tyler- cub scouts and brothers.

Being a brother is hard. It is hard in the best of circumstances. Having to share is hard…share toys, share attention, share activities. I never fully understood the complexity of a brother/brother relationship until we adopted Tyler. You see, my brother only had sisters. Rusty only had sisters. The relationship between a brother and sister is an entirely different beast than the one that grows between two boys. There is a physicality that I am unfamiliar with and a bit uncomfortable with. The rolling and wrestling is something I never saw with my own brother or saw with Rusty and the girls. The intense competitiveness and love/hate relationship is all new to me as a parent two little boys. I am still learning to navigate these uncharted waters.

The relationship between brothers becomes even more complicated when you take two wounded souls, with their own stories, own pasts, own birth families and try to meld them together into a new adoptive family. The results are sometimes touching but often they are just explosive. Ozzie and Tyler are still learning how to be brothers and go from being best buddies to mortal enemies with a single look.

They are both vying for dominance. Ozzie is older therefore feels he has earned his place as alpha dog. Tyler, who has been part of our family longer, feels like he has earned his spot as top dog. The battle continues, the war wages, and I hold my breath, uncomfortable with the display, and yet recognizing that this is all part of bonding as brothers.

Wednesday was a big night for the boys. Tyler joined cub scouts. This will be the first extracurricular activity they have shared as brothers. I could tell Ozzie was struggling with mixed emotions…resentment over sharing this part of his life with Tyler as well as excitement at the thought of being able to be big brother and show Tyler the ropes.

Tyler was also feeling mixed emotions on Wednesday night. He was excited to have his first cubs meeting ( he was ready hours before it was time to go, dressed in his new uniform with his cub book in hand) but also nervous about what to expect.

As we drove to the meeting Tyler expressed, in a rare display of vulnerability, his nervousness. Ozzie, eager to play big brother and Tyler allowing him to step up as big brother, promised to walk him to the meeting and show him what to do. My heart melted as I listened to Ozzie reassure Tyler. Well, you can just imagine the hurt that then followed when upon arriving at church Ozzie jumped from the car and raced toward the building without backward glance. Tyler was visibly hurt and shouted at Ozzie, with venom in his voice, “Ozzie, I guess you don’t care about the cub scout motto!”

I thought for a moment, racking my brain, trying to remember the cub scout motto that Tyler and I had been studying and tried to figure out what Tyler was implying.

“Be Prepared?”…hmmm…no that was Rusty’s Boy Scout motto.

Oh yeah, “Do Your Best.” That was it.

I was trying to figure out what message Tyler was trying to convey when he yelled to Ozzie, “Remember the cub scout motto!” because as far as I could tell Ozzie was “doing his best,”

to get away from Tyler, that is. :)

I looked at Tyler and asked what he meant. I didn’t have to wait long for clarification. As Ozzie ran into the church Tyler shouted the motto (as he remembered it) at Ozzie’s retreating back,

“Cub scouts never leave anyone behind!”

I think he was thinking of the Soldier’s Creed but I didn’t have the heart to correct him. :)

As I ponder this hard road of adoption perhaps the values called forth in the Soldier’s Creed aren’t too far off the mark.

Perhaps, as a family,  we need to embrace some of these values in the battles we face every day,

as we fight for these little boys’ hearts and unity as a new family…

“I am a warrior and a member of a team.”

“I always place the mission first.”

“I will never accept defeat.”

“I will never quit.”

and of course, the most important promise of all,

“I will never leave a fallen comrade.”

We are a family

and

“Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten”  :)

The full gamut of emotions

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There are months that hold the entire range of human emotions. It is like a rollercoaster ride through the ups of victory and the falls of defeat. Sometimes you have weeks that put you through the same wave of emotions and once in a while, every now and then, it happens in a day.

24 hours of the highest highs and the lowest lows.

Joy, fear, eagerness, heartbreak, satisfaction, disappointment, elation and defeat…all in one short day.

Thursday was one of those days. By bedtime I felt all wrung out by the gamut of emotions  felt that day.

First there was heartbreak:

We got the call, following Ozzie’s court hearing, that the judge changed his mind about Ozzie’s adoption day. November 22nd simply wouldn’t work for him. The celebration that Ozzie was anticipating for his adoption on National Adoption day…the photographer, the cake, the balloon animals were being stolen from him because it wasn’t a good day for his judge.

“We will fit in it some other time,” he said. “What’s a few more weeks when Ozzie’s waited this long?”

What is one more month? One more week? One more day?

Well, to a kid who has been counting the days until he has a forever family a few more weeks is everything.

*Sigh*

That is how the day began (but it is not how it ended!)

Then there was anxiety:

Thursday was our big preparation day for the church activity that was being held at our home on Saturday. I fought feelings of being completely overwhelmed when I looked at the “to-do” list I was facing. Luckily the big kids had the day off  school and were huge helps. It actually ended up being a really fun craft/project day with the kids, as everyone pitched in and helped get ready for the party.

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Decorations and games completed.

Decorations and games completed.

Then there were feelings of celebration:

Gracie got back news that she had passed her two Keystone tests that she had taken earlier in the year. The Keystone exams are assessments that Pennsylvania requires for graduation. Last spring she had to take her Algebra and Biology Keystones. She felt a huge sense of relief that those two test are passed and now behind her for good!

There was gratitude:

I received a special surprise in the mailbox. My dear Mom and Dad sent a Halloween card with money to buy pizza for dinner on Halloween. Knowing how crazy Halloween can be my parents wanted to lighten our load and treat us to a fun dinner. That sweet card and surprise made my day and made me so grateful for such loving parents!

There was relief:

On Friday Ozzie had his tooth fixed. Ozzie has two bonded teeth in the front from when he flipped over scooter handlebars at a previous foster home. After chipping his front teeth twice before we had to go back in to have one of his teeth fixed again. Tis time, however, his dentist said he could do it in the office, thus saving us a trip down to Pittsburgh (Children’s hospital). I picked up Ozzie from school, drove him 10 minutes away and was in and out in 30 minutes. It was wonderful! The dentist did a great job and it was nice to find out that when it does break again (the dentist guarantees he will) we will be able to have it fixed so quick and easily.

Before:

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After:

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There was joy:

We spent time carving our pumpkins on Thursday night. There is such joy when we get to experience a “first” with our adoptive sons This was no exception. This is Ozzie’s first Halloween with us and his first time carving pumpkins with us. I love the family traditions that come with the holidays. Those silly  rituals like carving pumpkins and decorating eggs create family unity and are at the heart of  our sweetest family memories. It is fun to see  each child’s individual method of completing the task. I have some that are eager to get to the finish line and others that are seeking perfection in their carved creations. Those are the ons that could spend hours carving. The end results reflect their individual styles. :)

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Ellie wanted  in on the fun!

Ellie wanted in on the fun!

Rusty's completed pumpkin

Rusty’s completed pumpkin

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Ozzie's pumpkin

Ozzie’s pumpkin

Molly's pumpkin

Molly’s pumpkin

Gracie's pumpkin

Gracie’s pumpkin

This evening which began on such a happy note brought us to our next emotion…

Then there was sadness:

When we were done carving we gathered all the “pumpkin guts” and took them out to the animals. Molly’s goat Thor, who was his usually bouncy self only an hour earlier, was laying on the ground. We knew something was wrong when he didn’t  bounce to his feet to greet his momma, Molly. Within  minutes he was weezing. We called Toby, who was just minutes away, after traveling all day (more about that later) . Toby loaded him in the truck and raced him to the Vet’s office where he died 30 minutes later on the table. Needless to say, much of the joy we were feeling an hour earlier, dissipated and a sadness fell on our home. Molly weeped and the injustice of such a sad loss hurt all of our hearts.

Thor

Thor

Toby returned home and amid the grief we felt peace:

Daddy was home!  Toby had been gone two LONG days. On Wednesday morning he had flown down to Florida to pick up a truck he had purchased. He had officially outgrown his little truck and with the size of the jobs he is now doing he needed  greater hauling/towing capabilities. In typical Toby fashion he met a man who knew a man who had a truck for sale at an amazing price. The truck in a 2004 with low miles. It was being sold for a fraction of the price of similar trucks around here so he jumped at this deal and had been driving it back home for the last two days. We were relieved to have him home and the kids were eager to check out his big new truck. Ozzie and Tyler were especially impressed. I was just happy to have him home, safe and sound.

Toby's new truck

Toby’s new truck

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The night ended with celebration:

The day ended on a high note. After much disappointment from our morning call with the social worker we were thrilled to get a “good news”call in the evening from the foster/adoptive mom of Ozzie’s sister, Zoey. She too was to adopt on November 22nd and when she found out what the judge had said she spent the day working the phones. After pleading our case to all that would listen, to no avail, she decided to call our judge directly. Well, a miracle happened. The judge’s heart was softened and he consented to allow us to take part in the National Adoption Day celebration at the courthouse and adopt each of our kiddos on November 22nd.

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Ozzie celebrating!

I suppose we all have days like that. When the emotions of the day take you on a wild ride. I just feel so blessed that we were able to end our day on such a high note. Ozzie will be ours, officially, in 26 days!

God is good.

Always good.

What’s in a name?

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This past week was a full one. Here is just a little of what has been happening at Patchwork Farm:

Monday was a tough day. We are in the midst of testing and trying with certain children. Ozzie’s adoption is only a month away and I can feel Satan at work trying to create disharmony and doubt in an effort to tear apart what God has called us to do. The tension reached a climax on Monday so in an effort to break that tension and get everyone laughing again we played a game of “Headbands” while we ate dinner. The laughter helped lighten the mood and remind us why we are walking this path we are on.

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Dinner was followed by family night. For family night we decorated pumpkins. Grace, in honor of her Halloween costume, painted an UP themed pumpkin.

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On Tuesday Grace and I did a little autumn meandering in search of fall photo opportunities. Gracie is taking Photography II this semester and is always in search of photo opportunities for future class assignments.

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On Wednesday we had co-op. Grace has now graduated, in her driving lessons, to highway driving. I don’t know who was more nervous about her driving on highways, her or mom. :) But, she is doing really well!

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After co-op we had the New Castle bookmobile stop by. The bookmobile is now coming to our co-op every three weeks. We are loving this! So often our schedule doesn’t allow for a separate trip to the library so to have the library come to us is a treat!

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Inside the bookmobile. It is so cute! :)

Inside the bookmobile. It is so cute! :)

Saturday the girls had a church dance. They invited their friend, Olivia. It was a Halloween dance and the kids could dress in white, neon, or costume. The girls decided to combine the three and dressed in 1980’s garb. The effect was adorable! Their outfits looked extra cool under the black lights that were set up in the gym.

Aren't they cute?!

Aren’t they cute?!

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This week was also a big preparation week as we head into the final stretch of our adoption journey. This week was full of final “to do” tasks required for adoption like having our “intent to adopt” paperwork notarized, getting physicals completed, getting FBI fingerprinting done, and gathering references. This was also the week we sat down and talked to Ozzie’s about his new name.

With the legal process of adoption comes an opportunity for changing one’s name. Ozzie will of course take on our last name at his adoption day but we hadn’t discussed whether he wanted to make any changes to his first or last name. Each child is different. Although Tyler was eager to change his middle name at his adoption we weren’t sure if Ozzie would feel the same. When I asked him about it he eagerly expressed a desire to change his middle name as well. He has never been a fan of his middle name, Emlyn. So we decided to have a “naming night” like we did with Tyler.

For family night we sat the kids down and had a lesson on the value of a name. We talked about what is expected of us when we, as Christians, take on the name of Christ and what His name brings to mind. We then talked about taking on our father’s name and how a last name is a legacy that our fathers and grandfathers pass down to us and what responsibility comes with that surname.

It was an interesting discussion and one of mixed emotions as Ozzie faces leaving the surname he has always carried,  that is familiar, but also that ties him to a father who was abusive. It is a cleansing of sorts and yet a scary step into the future for a little boy who doesn’t like change.

When we talked to Tyler about changing his name he was completely enthusiastic. He eagerly suggested possibilities for his new middle name like: Football, Disney World, and Daddy. We helped him come up with better possibilities as a family when we had a “naming night.” We decided to do the same for Ozzie. Monday night we sat as a family with baby name books on the table and  notecards for each person. Everyone was told to find three names they thought would be good middle names for Ozzie. The were able to look up meanings and try different combinations. Ozzie made his list too.(His number one choice was: Awesome) :) When everyone was done we took turns reading our lists out loud and voting on the favorite name from each list. When then made a final list of the favorites and discussed each name and the meaning it carries. We all shared our opinions and then let Ozzie make his final decision.

The final list included:

Daniel- “God is my judge”

Alexander- “Defender of mankind”

Elliot- “The Lord is my God”

Jonah- “dove”

Tristen- “riot”

William- “determined protector”

Ozzie made his choice…

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In one month he will bear our name and be known as Oswald William…aka Ozzie awesome ;)

Living Treasures Animal Park

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After arriving home from our day on the train we had about an hour to get everyone fed, in costume and out the door for field trip #2. This field trip, also sponsored by Molly’s school, was a field trip to Living Treasures Animal Park. We were thrilled about this outing. It is a favorite place of ours and thanks to the family membership that my parents bought Tyler for his adoption gift, it was a free outing for us. Yea!

Although we have been to Living Treasures many times this experience was new to us because it was a nighttime viewing. The kids were told if they came in costume they would receive a goody bag so the kids got dressed in their Halloween costumes and we were ready to go!

Tyler, my little Power Ranger :)

Tyler, my little Power Ranger :)

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When we arrived we met up with many of our co-op friends…

Everyone dressed up, ready for a night of fun!

Everyone dressed up, ready for a night of fun!

The park had an entirely different feel at night. Torches had been lit along the pathways and visitors brought flashlights to better see the animals. It was fun to see the nocturnal animals up and active, although just about all the animals became active when they heard the feed we purchased falling into their dishes. :)

Exploring in the dark.

Exploring in the dark.

This big baby was a hit with everyone!

This big baby was a hit with everyone!

Ozzie loved hand feeding the animals...that is until he actually "hand fed" a horse. The horse bite made him a bit more hesitant to feed the critters. :)

Ozzie loved hand feeding the animals…that is until he actually “hand fed” a horse. The horse bite made him a bit more hesitant to feed the critters. :)

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Halfway through the park we stopped at the playground for the boys to play.

Halfway through the park we stopped at the playground for the boys to play.

Levi, the giraffe, was another favorite of the kids!

Levi, the giraffe, was another favorite of the kids!

The night ended in the petting area where the kids were able to hand feed and pet baby goats, baby camels, baby reindeer  and baby pigs.

Ozzie was a little excited...can you tell?

Ozzie was a little excited…can you tell?

It was fun experiencing Living Treasures in a new way. It was also really fun having Toby and Ozzie join us for one of our school field trips!

A wonderful time was had by all!

All aboard!

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Yesterday was another field trip day. This one consisted of two back to back field trips, sponsored by Molly’s school. The first field trip was a fall foliage ride aboard the OC&T railroad. This field trip was offered seven years ago when the kids were in 3rd grade, 1st grade and Kindergarten. When we saw it was being offered we jumped at the chance to enjoy the autumn beauty of western Pennsylvania by rail once again.

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The field trip was two hours away in Titusville, PA. We  got an early start and Toby went into work late so that he could drop Ozzie off at school. I would have loved to take Ozzie with us but because of missed school from our Disney vacation we just couldn’t pull him out of school for the day. It was a shame because this outing was right up Ozzie’s alley!

The drive to Titusville was beautiful. The leaves were in peak color and looked like something from a painting. Although the sky was dark and cloud covered, the leaves still shined bright in vivid hues of orange and red.

We arrived at the 1892 vintage freight station in Titusville around 10:00am. It was perfect timing for our 10:30 departure. We had time to greet friends, use the bathroom, and window shop at the gift shop before the conductor called, “All aboard!”

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Waiting for the train.

Waiting for the train.

The kids on the antique scale.

The kids on the antique scale.

We were seated two to a seat. The train was full of passengers and school students. We were asked to stay seated until the train was fully loaded and had left the station and then we were given permission to move around the train.

All seated and ready to go...

All seated and ready to go…

Once we were told that we were free to move about the train our first stop was the open car at the back of the train. It was a perfect day to ride outside in the open air and enjoy the scenery…

Walking from one car to another towards the back of the train.

Walking from one car to another towards the back of the train.

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Molly

Molly

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Grace

Grace

When everyone started to get chilled we headed back to our seats to enjoy our packed lunches. After lunch we decided to explore the front of the train. There was a gift shop the kids wanted to check out. A few of the kids brought money along and were eager to shop.

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While in the gift shop we discovered the post office. The OC&T railroad offers the only working railway post office in the United States. Well, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to send someone a postcard from the train. We decide Ozzie would get a kick out of getting a postcard from a train so we purchased a post card, wrote a note, and posted it. We can’t wait to see his face when he receives it!

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After two hours on the train we made a stop at the Rynd Farm station where we were able to get out and walk around for twenty minutes before we started back. Because the train runs on a one way track the engine disconnected, turned around and reattached to other end of the train to drive us back to the Titusville station. It was neat to watch the process.

Our stop at Rynd station.

Our stop at Rynd station.

The entire trip was four hours long. We had an additional four hours of travel getting there and back but we found the entire experience well worth the time invested. Tyler loved the train experience, especially the open car in the back, and the other kids loved revisiting this memorable place that they had enjoyed seven years prior.

At 2:30pm we stepped off the train and prepared for the long ride home with one last stop at the bathrooms. We came home tired after our long day but a nap simply wasn’t in the cards. We had to get ready for our second outing of the day, a nighttime romp at Living Treasures Animal Park! :)

A week of field trips

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This week is our week of field trips! We teach our children at home with the use of cyber charter schools. We have been schooling our children this way for the last 10 years and up until last year all the kids attended the same school. Last year we made some changes. In an effort to better meet the needs of each child we separated them into different schools that better fit each child. Grace and Rusty belong to one school, Molly to another and Tyler to a different one. Ozzie attends our local public school, at least for now. With three different schools comes many field trip opportunities. This week we had three separate field trips all hit in one week. Yesterday was a field trip with 21st Century Cyber School- Grace and Rusty’s school.

Since Grace and Rusty’s school is headquartered on the east side of the state just outside of Philadelphia most of the outing that are offered are too far to travel to, so when they come west we try to make an effort to attend. For my kids, whose interaction with teachers is primarily via the computer, the opportunity to meet teachers face to face is a treat. Yesterday Grace was able to meet her World Geography teacher:

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And Rusty was able to meet his home room teacher:

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Our field trip was to Simmons farm. A beautiful local farm located just south of Pittsburgh. It was about an hour drive for us to get there.

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When we arrived we were surprised to find that only two other families had signed up. The small number, however, made for a fun, intimate day with those who attended. The kids were able to really get to know their teachers and get a lot of undivided attention. :)

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The day began with a hayride out to the fields where we were allowed to all pick a pumpkin to take home:

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We were amazed by the large selection of HUGE pumpkins to pick from. The kids all went in search of the largest pumpkin they could find. When I stipulated that they must be able to carry their own pumpkin back to the car Tyler set down the large pumpkin he was carrying and exchanged it for something smaller. The big kids, however, picked the largest pumpkins they could find!

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The day was full of fun activities at the farm. There were slides, games, hay mazes and rock mazes…

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One of the biggest hits of the day, however, were the petal carts. The teachers decided it would be fun to race them. Round one was the teachers pushing the students…

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Round two: the students pushed the teachers. :)

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After lunch we headed, as a group, into the corn maze. Unlike our last corn maze, this corn maze did not come with a map. This led to a lot of aimless wandering before we found our way to the exit. :) Tyler loved it!

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The day ended with complementary apple cider and apples picked at the farm. They were both delicious and tasted like fall!

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It was a beautiful day at a beautiful farm.

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Thank you 21st Century Cyber School!

Today we have two more field trips lined up…This time with Molly’s school.

Tyler’s Baptism Day

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Saturday was a special day at Patchwork Farm. It was Tyler’s baptism day!

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It was a day of celebration as Tyler chose to follow Christ’s example and be baptized.

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Once again I’m amazed at how far Tyler has come in the last two years and how he has grown emotionally and spiritually. When Tyler moved in with us, as a six-year-old little boy, he came with no religious background. He had never stepped foot into a church. He had never heard of Jesus or prayed to God. What an interesting journey it was introducing Tyler to his Heavenly Father and trying to explain abstract concepts to a six-year-old like who the Holy Ghost is and what faith is. For my older three who were raised with a spiritual foundation they simply couldn’t fathom not knowing Christ much less not knowing of Christ.

I remember the first meal we ate with Tyler. We sat and told him that before we eat we pray.

He asked, “What is praying?”

We explained that praying is talking to God.

“Who is that?” he asked.

Trying to explain such an abstract idea to a distracted little boy who was ready to dig into his pizza was a lesson in futility so we settled on explaining the behavior that was expected when we pray. (We knew getting to the heart of the matter would take time.) We explained that we show reverence by folding our hands, bowing our head and remaining still and quiet while the prayer is being said.

The expected behavior was demonstrated and Grace was asked to pray. Halfway through the prayer I opened one eye to peek at Tyler and my heart leapt into my throat as I saw him standing with arms outstretched, balancing his full glass of water on his head, while we prayed. As I opened my mouth to speak out I happened to catch a glimpse of Molly out of the corner of my eye, eyes wide with shock and mouth hanging open with horror at this little heathen’s behavior during prayer time. :) My sheltered children had quite the “real world” schooling from this little boy who came to us with colorful language and shocking behavior.

Church was another adventure as we fought with Tyler each week about going to church. On one of the more trying weeks he refused to put on his church clothes. His thought was, ‘If I don’t take off my PJs I won’t have to go.” He seriously underestimated our tenacity and ended up attending church in  flannel cartoon pajamas that week. It only took a few children asking him why he wore his pajamas to church to keep him from making that choice again. :)

As time passed we saw him growing spiritually. I  remember the first time he asked me to pray with him..the first time he prayed in faith. It was when we had a litter of bunnies living in the basement. We had new babies born recently only to find them missing one morning when we went down to feed them. After searching for an hour with no luck Tyler said, “We need to pray!” With an earnestness that only a little boy could possess he poured out his heart to his loving Heavenly Father asking Him to help us find the baby bunnies. Tyler looked up expecting the bunnies to be at his feet. With disappointment in his voice he looked at me and said, “It didn’t work.”

It was time for us to leave for co-op so I explained that sometimes it takes time for God to answer our prayers, but I could see the doubt in his eyes. Oh, how I prayed that day. I prayed like I had never prayed before that those little bunnies would be  found. As much as I cared about those silly little bunnies, it was Tyler I was praying for. I prayed that God would answer his prayer so that he could gain a testimony of prayer and truly feel God’s love and concern for a little boy’s broken heart.

We arrived home and Tyler ran for the basement, shouting over his shoulder, “I bet the bunnies are back!” I followed him, praying fervently. I heard a squeal of delight and a shout, “The baby bunnies are all here by the cage. God answered our prayer!”

As I walked down the stairs to indeed find the baby bunnies huddled by the cage door, trembling in fear at Tyler’s volume and enthusiasm, Tyler turned to me and said, “Now we need to tell God thank you!”

So, we prayed again.

Every spoken prayer, every answered prayer, every prayer prayed on his behalf has brought him to this day.

From a little broken boy who had never heard of Jesus Christ to a little boy who has covenanted to follow Christ…

Our God is still a God of miracles.

Tyler’s special day:

Tyler receiving his own scriptures.

Tyler receiving his own scriptures.

Mimi and Pop pop came out for Tyler's special day.

Mimi and Pop pop came out for Tyler’s special day.

Tyler was baptized by his Daddy. Mimi Joy came to celebrate with us.

Tyler was baptized by his Daddy. Mimi Joy came to celebrate with us.

Tyler and Molly

Tyler and Molly

Tyler and Grace

Tyler and Grace

Tyler and Rusty

Tyler and Rusty

Tyler and Ozzie

Tyler and Ozzie

The whole family :)

The whole family :)

God is good!