Monthly Archives: October 2013

“Won’t you be my neighbor?”

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My Mr. Rogers :)

My Mr. Rogers 🙂

It has been said that Mr. Rogers often carried around a note in his pocket that was given to him by a friend of his who was a social worker. The note read, ” Frankly there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.” He carried these words with him as a reminder of that truth and his life was a reflection of that philosophy.

Mr. Rogers was my childhood friend. Every day during “arsenic hour,” as my mother called it…that fragile hour before dinner when everyone was hungry and tired and emotional..my mom would place us in the care of Mr. Rogers while she went to get dinner on the table. She walked away knowing that we were in good hands and for a half an hour we learned the most important of life lessons..

1.We learned the key to success:

“There are 3 ways to ultimate success. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind.”

2. We learned what it meant to be a hero:

“Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me.”

3. We learned the value of play:

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. When we treat children’s play as seriously as it deserves we are helping them to feel the joy that’s to be found in the creative spirit.”

4. We learned the power of words:

“Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person…One kind word has a wonderful way of turning into many.”

5. We learned that it takes a neighborhood:

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It is easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

6. We learned that we are important:

“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”

7. We learned that love is a choice:

“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”

8. But the main lessons we learned as we sat and watched him change his shoes were…We had value, we were loved, and  we were okay just the way we were:

“I am just so proud of all of you who have grown up with us, and I know how tough it is some days to look with hope and confidence on the months and years ahead. But I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger..I like you just the way you are.”

What a profound lesson. I think the greatest lesson I have learned during this adoption journey is the importance of loving people (particularly children) where they are rather than trying to make them into more “loveable” children.

A few days ago I had an unexpected email from the therapist of Tyler’s brother. Of the 5 biological siblings this brother is the only one that has not been adopted. He is the oldest and the one that carries the most scars from the abuse. He is in a foster home but has been labeled “unadoptable” by the system. His wounds are deep, he is an older child, and the workers feel that finding an adoptive home for him would be difficult so they have decided to leave him in his current foster home until he exits the system. I received an email from his therapist because when asked what he wanted for his birthday next week he replied that all he wanted was to see his siblings again. This email put into motion the efforts to get these biological siblings together for a visit after many of them having no contact for years. We are hoping to get everyone together in a couple of weeks at our home. I know it is going to be a special day for everyone involved. As I have reached out to the other adoptive families, these past few days, the stories they have to share are similar. The behaviors we have all dealt with, the fears our kids have battled and the wounds that have slowly healed are all too similar. These kids survived horrible circumstances and have all struggled with trusting the love offered to them. They didn’t know the security of unconditional love as young children and have had to be taught those same lessons that we often take for granted..that we have value…we are loved…we are ok just the way we are.

It is a lesson that so many need to hear. Your value has nothing to do with what you have, how you look, the life you’ve lived or the talents you possess. Like Mr. Rogers would say, “You have value because of who you are.”

“It’s you I like.

It’s not the things you wear,

it’s not the way you do your hair.

It’s you I like…”

Mr. Rogers has been on my mind the past few days because of our Trunk or Treat activity this weekend at church. Trunk or Treat is a chance for the kids to trick or treat in a safe and fun environment. Families from church decorate the back of their vehicles in different themes and the kids trick or treat to the different cars. We decided to make our trunk into the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Toby dressed as Mr. Rogers and the girls handed out treats with the puppets.  It was a cold, windy night but that didn’t deter many. The turn out was great and the kids all had fun.

Mr. Rogers and the Neighborhood of Make Believe.

Mr. Rogers and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

Handing out treats..

Handing out treats..

My trunk or treaters!

My trunk or treaters!

The girls behind the curtain!

The girls behind the curtain!

Perhaps we all need to ponder on the wisdom of Mr. Rogers more often. The world would probably be a much nicer place..

“Let’s make the most of this beautiful day.

Since we’re together we might as well say:

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

Won’t you be my neighbor..” 🙂

“Not all those who wander are lost”

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J.R.R. Tolkien once said, “Not all those who wander are lost.” No place is this more true than in a corn maze.  Those who know me know that I have a special love for corn mazes.  I don’t know what it is but there is something magical about wandering through the high corn on uncharted paths that makes me feel like Alice on a Wonderland adventure.  It is like stumbling into a secret world and becoming 10 years old again…I get absolutely giddy.  This weekend Molly’s school sponsored an outing at a corn maze that I just couldn’t resist  taking the family to.  We had just finished a busy week as Gracie pushed to get all the work she needed for the first quarter done by 4:00pm Friday so an evening at a corn maze seemed like a fun way to celebrate  a great first quarter of school.

Coolspring Corn Maze

Coolspring Corn Maze

 The corn maze we went to was located in Mercer county and was about an hour drive for us. The kids and I had visited this corn maze last year but Toby had never been there before. The drive there took us through beautiful farmland colored with fall leaves. Along the way we passed many Amish families in buggies. We were all dressed extra warmly because the temperature had dropped and it was only getting colder as the evening went on. When we arrived and stepped out of the car it was a fall feast for the senses…there were beautiful fall decorations to look at, the sound of children laughing and calling to each other, and the air was filled with the smell of hot apple cider and pumpkin donuts.

Miss Molly

Miss Molly

The theme for this year’s corn maze was “The American Cowboy.”  The maze was cut out in the shape of a rodeo rider.

An aerial view of the cornmaze.

An aerial view of the corn maze.

The kids decided that they wanted to enjoy some of the extra activities that the farm offered while the sun was still shining and then do the maze after it got a bit darker. They had never done a nighttime maze before and were looking forward to navigating the paths using only the flashlights they brought. There were very few people there. I think the cold weather probably scared a lot of customers off, so we didn’t have to battle any crowds. The kids headed first to the hay barn to climb and play tag on the stacks of hay bales. Toby and I had fun watching them play and visiting uninterrupted. 🙂

Playing on the hay.

Playing on the hay.

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We then headed to the pedal tractors where the boys did a few laps around the track.

"Go Speed Racer!"

“Go Speed Racer!”

Toby then took them over to the pumpkin cannon where he let each of them try their hand at pumpkin blasting.  The field was set up with wooden zombies.  If you hit the wooden zombie in the bullseye with a pumpkin you won a T-shirt.  None of the kids hit the bullseye (Rusty was the closest) but they all had fun trying!

Tyl.er and Toby with the pumpkin cannon

Tyler and Toby with the pumpkin cannon

Molly shooting pumpkins.

Molly shooting pumpkins.

The next stop was the hayride which we decided to pass on.  We thought it was too cold to sit still for a half an hour on the back of a wagon, so after a quick visit to the bathrooms we headed into the corn maze.  Tyler wanted to lead the way and since we had no time limits or planned destination we let him.  We wandered for about 30 minutes, following his lead, as he consulted his map with the flashlight.  Finally, in exasperation, he threw up his hands and said, “I can’t read this thing!” Holding up his map we realized that he had been “following” the crossword puzzle on the back of the map rather than the map of the corn maze.  Rusty decided to take over as point man. 🙂

Tyler in the lead...

Tyler in the lead…

Those who wander..

Those who wander..

As part of the corn maze experience there were posts located around the corn maze with historical facts about cowboys and the Wild West.  The goal was to find all these posts using your map and fill in the answers to the crossword puzzle on the back.  The kids had a lot of fun with this and we got a little history time logged as well. 😉  After about an hour of wandering through the corn we came to the exit which dropped us off at a life-size board game. It was very cool. Using paving stones they had created a Chutes and Ladders sort of game.  Using a spinner the kids moved around the game as human game pieces. Molly won the game.

Finding clues...

Finding clues…

A life size game!

A life size game!

Sisters!

Sisters!

When we were all done playing we walked back up to the hay barn so that the kids could play for a bit longer before we left for home.  Toby stopped at the concession stand and bought everyone a homemade pumpkin donut to enjoy  before we left.  They were delicious!  A sweet ending to an “a-MAZE-ing” evening. 🙂

YUM!

YUM!

Trick or Treat for Seniors

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Velma and Scooby

Velma and Scooby

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. Rusty was the only one that didn’t need to change into a costume because his young men group had made a rocket which they were going to man in street clothes.  The young women made a castle and were dressing as princesses so after the girls put on their gowns I helped them curl their hair and do their make-up. Tyler was going to stand in a box of Scooby Snacks so he dressed as Scooby Doo and I dressed up as Velma. We finished dressing up and loading the boxes in the car and were off. Toby had to meet us there because he had an appointment for a MRI to see what was going on with his foot.

Mt two princesses

My two princesses

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When we arrived we began the process of constructing the castle which was in multiple parts so that it would fit in the back of the car. It was fun seeing everyone’s creations as people arrived to set up their boxes. Here are some of the creative boxes people came up with…

A ballerina in a jewelry box.

A ballerina in a jewelry box.

A Dr. Who box :)

A Dr. Who box 🙂

 

A construction site

A construction site

 

A Sponge Bob box

A Sponge Bob box

 

Daughters of a King...love these girls :)

Daughters of a King…love these girls 🙂

 

A SUPER family!

A SUPER family!

 

Gracie and the Hulk!

Gracie and the Hulk!

 

The seniors trick or treating

The seniors trick or treating

 

The girls handing out candy :)

“The need of others are ever present and each of us can do something to help someone.  Unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives.” – Thomas S. Monson

The Blessing of Friends

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This weekend was one of those weekends where everything hit at once. Somehow we managed to fit a mass of fun into a mere 48 hours and now that the weekend is done I feel like I need another weekend to recover from this past weekend! 🙂

Preparations for our fun-filled weekend began on Wednesday with date night. It was Tyler’s week to go grocery shopping and out to dinner with me while the other kids stayed home. I usually try to time date nights so that when we have a holiday or party coming up I take one of the girls grocery shopping. They can handle the longer shopping night better than the boys and are a better help when it comes to helping me party plan and shop. This time, however, it worked out that it was Tyler’s week. I was a bit nervous of how he was going to hold up since in addition to our weekly grocery shopping I had shopping to do for Rusty’s birthday party, Halloween shopping, shopping for Sunday dinner company and supplies  needed for a youth fireside at our house on Sunday night. I knew it was going to take twice as long as a “typical” date night and was worried Tyler would start to melt down before we hit the frozen food aisle, but to my surprise and pleasure he was a champ! Not only did he hold up but he was a huge help as we picked out treats for Rusty’s party. As we waited in line to check out he visited with me and helped me unload the cart. Once again I was amazed at how far he has come and how much he has matured in the last year.

After shopping we went to dinner. Tyler chose Wendy’s for his date night. It was an extra fun date night. They were giving out balloons to all the kids so Tyler picked a green one. He ordered a kid’s meal for dinner and was pleased to find out he got the toy he was hoping for…the Donkey drinking straw and ears. As we were leaving someone gave him a coupon for a free frosty. He couldn’t have been happier!

Tyler as Donkey.

Tyler as Donkey.

On Friday Rusty had his birthday sleepover. The theme for his party was Minecraft, a popular computer game with the boys. He was inviting friends over and they were all bringing their laptops so that they could spend the evening playing together in the virtual world.  When we allow the kids to have a birthday party with friends, which isn’t every year only milestone birthdays, we give them a budget for their party. They can use it however they wish. The girls typically will use their budgets for a craft, decorations or party favors. When I asked Rusty what he wanted to get for his party he chose to keep decorations to a minimum, the idea of a craft or games were vetoed, and instead all his budget went to food..typical boy. 🙂  He decided that he wanted a variety of snacks with a Minecraft theme. He went online and printed off pictures of items found in the game and then found snacks to match the tags. He had a lot of fun with it.

Minecraft snacks..

Minecraft snacks..

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Rusty asked Gracie to make the cake which she happily agreed to. She wanted it to look like a Minecraft world which is composed of squares and straight edges so she used Rice Krispy treats to make a hillside and then added some of Rusty’s snack items to the cake as well. The end result was perfect. Rusty was thrilled.

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At 6:00 the boys began to arrive and the girls were picked up for their night away at their best friends’ home. Toby brought home pizza for dinner and then Rusty opened his gifts. The gifts were all so thoughtful and perfect choices for Rusty. One of the gifts was a Minecraft theme. His friends bought him a Steve head and filled a box with drinks and snacks they had labeled with Minecraft terms like “potion of fire resistance” and “potion of instant health.” It was so creative!

Steve!

Steve!

The rest of the evening was spent playing Minecraft. Rusty let Tyler join the big boys. Toby and I went to our bedroom to watch a movie. It was so funny listening to them in the livingroom. You would have though a full contact football game was taking place outside our bedroom door by the way they were all hooting and hollering. I peeked out and all the boys were sprawled around the livingroom playing together in their virtual world. It was so different than a girls’ sleepover! 🙂 Eventually we had to be the bad guys and tell Tyler it was time for bed. The deal Rusty made with Tyler was that he could be part of his party for the game time but he couldn’t sleep with them, so when it was starting to get late Toby went out to tell Tyler it was time for bed. He thought there might be a fight but was pleasantly surprised when Tyler hopped up and called out goodnight to the boys. Once again I am amazed at how he has grown. He climbed into bed and was asleep in minutes. Meanwhile the big boys went upstairs to continue their party and got very little sleep. 🙂

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This is what a boys' party looks like :)

This is what a boys’ party looks like 🙂

In the morning we woke the boys early to get everyone fed before 9:00am pickup. It was an earlier pick-up than usual because I was going to a scrapbooking event with friends and was dropping off some of the boys on the way. My day was spent scrapbooking with friends. It was wonderful and log overdue. I hadn’t scrapbooked since January and was behind. My goal for the day was to get Tyler’s scrapbook current. All my kids have multiple scrapbooks from their first year on but Tyler doesn’t. He didn’t come to us with any pictures of his life before us and I can tell it bothers him when the kids pull out their scrapbooks to look at. I have tried to be diligent about recording his life in this blog so that down the road he will have a recording of his first year with us but that doesn’t help now. The words on the screen aren’t a tangible recording of his life that he can flip through and look at so it was my goal to get his book caught up. I want him to at least have one book (for now) that he can pull off the shelf and flip through with pictures of him in it. It was a productive day and I was able to finish 90% of his book as well as have some much-needed girl time with friends.

At 5:00pm I packed up my supplies and left to pick up Gracie and her friend Olivia to take them to a church Halloween dance down in Cranberry. They were all ready when I arrived. Grace and Olivia dressed as butterflies and Gracie did the face painting on the two of them. They both looked beautiful!

Two beautiful butterflies!

Two beautiful butterflies!

Grace and Olivia

Grace and Olivia

 

Molly and her best buddy, Tatum. :)

Molly and her best buddy, Tatum. 🙂

 

They had a wonderful time at the dance. They danced their little feet off and at 10:00 we headed back north to drop off Olivia and pick up Molly.  We arrived home and finally crawled into bed for a much-needed sleep around midnight. A few hours later Molly woke up in a panic because she was having trouble catching her breath. She was wheezing and you could hear that her breathing was labored. She said she felt like her throat was tight. We put a bag of cold peas on her neck and took her outside on the porch to see if breathing the cold air helped. After sitting out in the cold for a while and debating whether to head to the ER she started to improve. We put her in our room to sleep so we could listen for labored breathing.

Sick Molly :(

Sick Molly 😦

In the morning we woke up and got ready for church. This was a big day for Rusty. He was graduating from Primary (the children’s program) and moving into Young Men’s. He had completed the Faith in God program and was going to receive his certificate so even though Molly was still feeling lousy we prepared for church. Mimi Joy was meeting us there so we didn’t want to be late. Molly and I stayed long enough to see Rusty receive his certificate and then we left the rest of the family at church and headed over to MedExpress. We found out that the swollen throat was due to Strept so it was a good thing we went in. We got Molly’s antibiotics and headed back to church. Molly stayed in the car and watched a movie in the parking lot because I didn’t want her spreading her germs around church. When church was done we headed home and Mimi Joy joined us for lunch. Poor Molly went to bed.

Rusty and Mimi Joy

Rusty and Mimi Joy

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Sunday evening we prepared for the last of our weekend guests. We were having the young men and women from our church over for a fireside devotional and smores. It was a wonderful evening and the turn out was great. It was a perfect way to end the weekend!

Fireside devotional

Fireside devotional

This weekend made me realize how incredibly grateful I am for the friends in my children’s lives. They are blessed with good kids for friends. I am grateful for the parents that raised such good kids. I am grateful that my children have made wise choices in the friendships they have developed. I am grateful for the leaders that plan fun, wholesome activities for my kids to take part in. I am grateful that in this world with so many negative influences my children have found a safe place to grow into the adults they are going to become.

They say you become like the 5 people you spend the most time with…I am grateful my children have chosen wisely.

 

Christmas in the woods

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Molly, Grace and Rusty

Molly, Grace and Rusty

This weekend finally felt like fall. The leaves are starting to change and the weather has been beautiful. On Saturday we decided to take advantage of the perfect October day and meet my parents at Shaker Woods for their October event, Christmas in the Woods. Christmas in the Woods is in essence a “craft fair” and yet so much better than a “craft fair.” It takes place in a patch of forest in Eastern Ohio and is a step back in time. Inside Shaker Woods sits small shacks, each holding a vendor with homemade goods. The atmosphere of Shaker Woods is what really gives it charm. As you walk along the wooded paths you can smell apple cider brewing and kettle corn popping. As you shop you can hear the music of a dulcimer playing or a quartet singing Christmas carols. It is a magical place. We hadn’t been for a few years so this weekend we decided to meet my parents there to do some Christmas shopping and so we could do a “child exchange.” It was just the big kids and I. Toby and Tyler went to his mother’s house to work on some projects. We didn’t think a craft fair would be Tyler’s thing. 🙂 We shopped for a few hours. I didn’t buy anything but Mom got a nice start on her Christmas shopping. When we were ready to leave we walked back to my car to get Rusty’s suitcase because he was spending the weekend at the Homestead!

The kids at Christmas in the Woods.

The kids at Christmas in the Woods.

Rusty had a great time with Mimi and Pop pop. I think he enjoyed being an only child! They did all of his favorite things. They went out to dinner, we to see the movie, Gravity, went shopping at a used bookstore and played a marathon game of Risk. It was a special weekend for Rusty. I think all kids enjoy getting to be the “only child” every now and then. Knowing this my Mom made a comment to Russ that they would have to have the girls next. Rusty agreed but then said, “But not Tyler…at least not until he’s tame.” 🙂 I will continue working on “taming” Tyler so that he too can have a special weekend at Mimi and Pop pop’s house. 😉

Pop pop and the kiddos..

Pop pop and the kiddos..

On Monday we drove out to Ohio to pick up Rusty and spend the day at the Homestead. The perfect weather continued and made for a pleasant drive. When we arrived Rusty was eager to show me the lego set that he received from Mimi and Pop pop for his birthday. After enjoying hot dogs on the grill and a picnic lunch we spent the remainder of the day visiting and letting the kids play outside.  The big hit of the day was the millions of black walnuts scattered around the yard. Pop pop pulled out the dogs’ tennis ball thrower and showed Tyler how he could toss the nuts further with the ball thrower. This then turned into a game of Tyler tossing the walnuts while the other kids tried to catch them with buckets. Who says we don’t know how to have a good time?!

Tyler tossing walnuts.

Tyler tossing walnuts.

 

Rusty catching :)

Rusty catching 🙂

 

We didn’t stay too long because we had to be back by 6:oo to turn in Tyler’s football gear and it was a 2 1/2 hour drive home so by 3:30 we were back on the road headed to PA.

When we arrived home we had a visitor waiting by the door..

A beautiful praying mantis.

A beautiful praying mantis.

" Hello there! "

” Hello there! “

 

Beautifully Broken

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Yesterday morning Gracie and I took a walk. This wasn’t a fast paced, get your heart pumping for P.E. class walk. It was a slow down, open your eyes and see the world in a different way photography class walk. She was working on her assignment for the week and I went along with her because I found the assignment so compelling. It really spoke to my heart. Her teacher sent out this email:

“Many photographers take the easy road and shoot flowers, breathtaking landscapes, models, the ocean at sunset, castles, dewy meadows, children and ponies. It is the photographer with the more sensitive eye and creative sense who can find the beauty in something either mundane or downright ugly.  Examples might be the innards of a rusty, rotted barn, the ruins of a house with weeds growing from it, the haze of pollution over Beijing, or a wet mattress left on the curb.  These are the photographers that can focus, crop, adjust lighting or point of view to get delicacy and beauty where most people would find rubbish.” 

She was then told to go out into her neighborhood and find those things that would be considered an “eyesore” to others and photograph them in a way that shows their beauty. I thought it was a wonderful photography lesson as well as a poignant life lesson, so with cameras in hand we headed out to find things that were “beautifully broken.”

Here are some of the photos Gracie took of the “junk” around our property.

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A pile of old pallets.

“Imperfections are beautiful.”

A rusty trailor

A rusty trailer

“I am like stained glass..beautifully broken but filled with light.”

Moss growing on a pile of wood.

Moss growing on a pile of construction debris.

“I do not aim for faultlessness in my work after seeing the most charming piece of painted furniture I have ever set eyes on in the Doge’s Palace in Venice- a captivating decoupage cabinet built in the 18th century. None of its lines were straight or measured and the paper cut outs were not completely stuck down. It was dark in some places, faded in others, and worn in parts but in the sum of these inconsistencies was a certain sort of perfection.” – Annie Sloan

An old, broken chair.

An old, broken chair.

A pile of old soda cans.

A pile of old soda cans.

“The practice of giving thanks…this is what we practice in the presence of God. Stay present to His presence. It is always a practice of the eyes. We don’t have to change what we see. Only the way we see.” – Ann Voskamp

A discarded door in a pile of rubbish.

A discarded door in a pile of rubbish.

“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, and broken bread to give strength.” – Vance Havner

A bathtub.

A bathtub.

As we walked around the yard I was changed. The rubbish that I viewed as an “eyesore” became beautiful. What I was looking at didn’t change but the way I saw it did. We all have rubbish in our lives, imperfections that we feel need to be made perfect in order to be beautiful. The question then becomes, can we adjust the lighting, the focus, or the point of view so as to see the beauty where others may see rubbish.  Beauty can be found in the mess, in the chaos, in the imperfections of daily living if we would just SEE the beauty of brokenness.

“People often say ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and I say the most liberating thing about beauty is that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.”   -Salma Hayek

“Don’t tinkle in your neighbor’s yard”

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I sat down this morning to write and realized it has been almost a week since I posted anything. I’m not sure where the days have gone. There we were celebrating Rusty’s birthday and *poof* here we are a week later. 🙂

So…here is what you’ve missed..

Saturday was spent running in different directions. Tyler had football, Rusty had his hunter safety class, and Toby spent the day with his foot propped up after having some work done on it the day before. Toby has been having pain on the top of his foot for months. He finally decided to have it addressed after realizing that his line of work (he is in the construction business) necessitates the need to stand. He went in thinking they were going to drain a Ganglion cyst. After numbing the site with multiple shots of Novocaine the doctor proceeded to try to drain what they later described as a tumor-like mass. Unfortunately they weren’t able to “fix” it like Toby was hoping and instead sent him home in a lot more pain than he came in with. Next step is a MRI to figure out what the mass is and then possibly surgery. Needless to say Toby was frustrated by the news.

So while Toby was recovering on Saturday we faced the dilemma of having to be two places at once with the boys’ separate commitments. Luckily a dear friend came to the rescue and volunteered to take Rusty to the hunter safety class since her son was also attending. Rusty was thrilled to have a friend to go with. They were dropped off at 9:00 am and picked up at 5:00 pm. Rusty came home complaining of his head hurting from all that information but seemed to get a lot out of it. He was eager to show us the certificate, proof that he had passed the course. Now he can go hunting with Dad. 🙂

Tyler had his final game this past Saturday. It was extra exciting due to the fact that the two teams were so evenly matched. Tyler had a great game and many great tackles. The game kept us on the edge of our seat down to the last few minutes. Okay, here is where I admit my horrible, selfish, mothering flaws….As Tyler’s team began an amazing comeback in the second half, quickly gaining on the other team’s scoreboard points, I was secretly hoping they wouldn’t win. I know that is horrible but winning means another week of practice and games and NO LIFE! I’m so ready to have a life again outside of football. 🙂 The conclusion of the game couldn’t have been more perfect. The team did wonderfully, Tyler had his best game of the season, but they didn’t win so….football season is over! Woo Hoo…(This is me doing my happy dance.) It was a wonderful experience for Tyler and we saw a lot of growth in him over the last few months as a result, but I’m still relieved we are done. 🙂

Tyler's final walk off the field.

Tyler’s final walk off the field.

On Monday night we had family night. I had planned a lesson and game on “Keeping God’s Commandments.” As the lesson began we went around the room saying what we thought the most important commandment of all was and why. It was interesting to hear the kids’ opinions. We ended with Tyler and he, with great sincerity said, “Don’t tinkle in other people’s yards.” He was puzzled by our laughter and responded indignantly, “Well it isn’t nice..especially if you accidentally tinkle on their dog.”

Adopting, as I have said before, is so often a game of detective. These kids come to you, especially if they are a bit older, with experiences, triggers, and memories that you aren’t part of. Over the past year my bonding experience with Tyler could be likened to an excavation site. It is a slow process of stripping down the layers and as you do so you come across these jewels of information and experiences that have made your child who he is today. I would love to know the story behind Tyler’s insistence that God’s greatest commandment is “Never tinkle in your neighbor’s yard” because knowing Tyler I bet it is a really good story!

Roses from my love

Roses from my love

On Tuesday night Toby surprised me with roses..just because. Not only did he surprise me but he brought home a single red rose for Grace and Molly as well. “For my favorite girls,” he said. It was such an unexpected treat and such a sweet expression of his love. Not too long ago Molly said to me, “I think Heavenly Father must be a lot like Daddy.” She went on to explain that Toby always has time to listen to her, and is always doing kind things for her, and always makes her feel so special. “Heavenly Father just reminds me a lot of Daddy.” I thought here appraisal was insightful. How blessed she is..we all are..to have a man in our lives who is such a reflection of heavenly love. I am grateful to be married to a godly man who helps our children better understand God’s love for them by the love he shows them. I am so blessed.

A rose from Daddy.

A rose from Daddy.

Wednesday was our co-op day. The kids woke with an extra bounce in their step. Wednesday is everyone’s favorite day of the week. They love getting to spend the day with their friends. I teach Tyler’s science class and this week Rusty came in and joined us as we learned about molecules. Rusty was a great teacher’s helper as we learned about how molecules move in solids, liquids and gasses. Rusty had them stand up with him and we had a molecule dance party as they went from slow dancing “solid” music to fast paced, crazy “gas” music. We even pulled out the “molecule mittens” so the boys could better visualize the movement of molecules in the different states of matter. It was a fun lesson made extra fun by Rusty’s help. Thanks Russ!

Doing the molecule dance..

Doing the molecule dance..

Molecule mittens!

Molecule mittens!

Gracie also had an extra fun science class yesterday. She had an online class to attend in which they were learning about cells. In preparation for this interactive class Gracie received a box in the mail from her teacher. When she opened the box she discovered it was full of yummy treats..crackers, rice cakes, frosting, candy, etc. On Wednesday they took all of these yummy teats and learned the parts of cells by making eatable models out of the treats in the box. What a fun idea!

Gracie in her online Biology class.

Gracie in her online Biology class with her friend, Olivia.

The finished project!

The finished project!

Last night was Tyler’s night to make dinner. It was also Rusty’s date night/ shopping night. Before I left I was going to help Tyler get dinner going but when I asked him what he had planned he told me it was a secret. Wednesday’s are always Tyler’s night to cook and rather than make a crock pot meal like the kids do he usually chooses a “kid friendly” recipe that he can make with a little assistance. His usual choices include pancakes, eggs, chicken nuggets and fries, etc. When Toby arrived home I told him dinner hadn’t been started because Tyler didn’t tell me what he was making… “It’s a secret.” After I left Toby asked Tyler what he was making and Tyler leaned in close so the other children wouldn’t hear him and whispered, “hotdogs.” “OK, where are the hot dogs?” Toby asked, expecting Tyler to say that they were in the fridge downstairs. “At the store,” Tyler replied. Toby then had to explain that he had to pick something that was already in the house. They ended up eating Raman Noodles (Tyler’s pick.) 🙂 Meanwhile Rusty and I had dinner at Wendy’s. With the $10.00  Rusty had to buy dinner for the two of us he decided that he wanted to buy dinner off the dollar menu thus leaving just enough to get an icecream cone at Handle’s when we were done shopping. On our way home we stopped and bought an icecream for Rusty and a pumpkin milkshake for me. ( I brought one home for Toby as well.)

Date night

Date night

When we arrived home I put our shakes in the freezer for us to enjoys after unpacking groceries, evening devotionals, and tuck-ins. Just when I thought my day was done and I was off the clock Tyler came running in to tell me “one last thing”, hitting the milkshake cup and sending it flying. Orange icecream splattered in every direction. It was like the world was moving in slow motion as I watched icecream hit the wall, and the floor, and the furniture. Tyler’s hands went up to his mouth as he watched wide-eyed. After re-tucking in Tyler and scrubbing orange goop off of EVERYTHING with Toby’s help, it was time for bed…

“Goodnight pillow, goodnight wall, tomorrow morning I’ll scrub you all..”

Guess who is turning 12?!

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Baby Rusty :)

Baby Rusty 🙂

12 years ago today we were blessed with our third child. Rusty was delivered at 4:42 pm and weighed in at 8lbs 14oz. What a blessing these past 12 years have been!

Preparations for Rusty’s birthday began last week, on Friday, when Rusty was invited to a friend’s home for a sleepover. The other three kids decided to take advantage of Rusty’s absence and work on their homemade gifts for him. All of my kids love to give/make gifts for the people they care about and I love watching the enthusiasm and effort they put into their gift giving efforts. I am grateful that they have learned, at their young age, the joy of giving.

Molly decided she wanted to make Rusty a treat and finally settled on the idea of making homemade flavored popcorn after finding a recipe online. Using different flavored jello packets she made three different flavors of “caramel popcorn.” Knowing Rusty’s love of sweets I have no doubt this gift will be a huge hit! 🙂

Molly making orange flavored popcorn.

Molly making orange flavored popcorn.

The finished gift.

The finished gift.

Gracie decided to craft a gift for Rusty’s birthday. She decided to do something with a Minecraft theme. (The computer game that Rusty is into right now) She found a website online that showed how to make shoes that look like the creepers from the game. Using her babysitting money she bought white, fabric loafers and drew a grid on the shoes. She then used fabric markers to color them in. It took her a few hours but the finished result was impressive. 🙂

Gracie working on her gift for Rusty.

Gracie working on her gift for Rusty.

Gracie's finished gift.

Gracie’s finished gift.

Tyler used his allowance to buy Rusty’s gift at the Dollar Store a few weeks earlier. ( He bought him packaged cinnamon buns.) 🙂 When he saw the girls making gifts, however, he decided he wanted to make something for Rusty too. With Gracie’s help he pulled out legos and made a parking lot/road for Rusty’s lego cars.

The tricky part, once all the projects were completed, was then keeping it a secret until Thursday.

Tyler working on his gift for Rusty..

Tyler working on his gift for Rusty..

Thursday morning the celebration began! The tradition in our family is to wake the birthday kid up with singing and a piece of birthday cake. Because Toby had to leave early for work this early morning rendition of “Happy Birthday” took place at 6:00 am. Everyone decided to just stay up after that so our morning began earlier than typical. One of the perks of being the birthday kid is that if your birthday falls on a school day you get the day off school so while the other kids worked on schoolwork Rusty was able to enjoy a lazy play day.

"Happy Birthday to You!"

“Happy Birthday to You!”

Halfway through morning school Tyler came running to show me his tooth. He has been working at pulling out his loose tooth for days and was excited it finally came out. He thinks it is pretty cool that the Tooth Fairy will be visiting our home on Rusty’s birthday.

Tyler lost tooth #2!

Tyler lost tooth #2!

Rusty couldn’t wait for Dad to get home from work so that he could open his gifts and the celebration could begin! When Toby arrived home we let Russ open his gifts before we headed out for the evening. He was thrilled with the gifts from his siblings. His gift from us was a gun, his own hunting rifle/shotgun. This year is a big birthday, one that Rusty has been looking forward to since he was a little boy, because turning 12 means that he can now go hunting with Dad. This Saturday he will attend an all-day hunter safety course. He has been reading up on the test materials all week in preparation for his hunter safety class.

Rusty opening his orange safety vest...his other gift from Mom and Dad. :)

Rusty opening his orange safety vest…his other gift from Mom and Dad. 🙂

After opening gifts we headed off to dinner. Rusty’s restaurant pick for dinner was Fire Mountain (a homestyle food buffet.) It worked out well that his birthday fell on Thursday, Family Fun Night at Fire Mountain. On Thursday evenings kids eat for .99 so that combined with discount coupons we had for the adults we were able to enjoy dinner at Rusty’s favorite restaurant for a great price.

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After dinner we went to see a movie. Rusty wanted to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. At the end of the night Rusty declared it a perfect birthday. Happy birthday, Rusty. We couldn’t ask for a better son!

"Happy birthday, Rusty!"

“Happy birthday, Rusty!”