Monthly Archives: January 2014

Grace is no longer “Brace Face”

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It has been a long road…about a year longer than expected due to some stubborn 12 year molars that waited until Grace was 15 to make their appearance but the day has finally come…

Grace is no longer Miss Brace Face.

Wednesday night Miss Grace was dealing with mixed emotions as she prepared for bed. As excited as she was to have the braces off she was feeling a bit sad and scared. It wasn’t the process of having them removed that upset her, or fears that she wouldn’t like the result.. she just felt like she was saying goodbye to a part of herself. They were such a big part of her look for so long that she just couldn’t imagine not seeing them when she looked into the mirror.

I understood what she was saying. The day before she had her braces put on I felt the same way. I didn’t want her to lose her “Gracie” look and I was afraid that by altering her smile we would lose the look God gave to her. It sounds so silly but I could understand what she was saying. Her is Miss Gracie’s initial intake photos at Dr. G’s office.

Gracie's intake photos at Dr. Gulland's office. She looks so little.

Gracie’s intake photos at Dr. Gulland’s office. She looks so little.

The next morning Grace woke up more excited and less unsure. We dropped off Ozzie at school and headed to the orthodontist. There was time for a quick “before photo” before Grace was called back.  We waited in the waiting room for 1 1/2 hours as Gracie had her braces removed and was fitted for a retainer. I was called back to meet with Dr. G and go over instructions and follow-up care. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the end result of three years of work. What a beautiful smile! After we received the information we needed we headed back into the waiting room where Molly had a gift to give Grace that she bought a few weeks ago. Knowing how much Grace has missed chewing gum Molly bought her a pack of her favorite flavor.

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After her appointment we made one more stop before we had to drive home for piano lessons. When I asked Gracie what foods she missed most while having braces she said, “corn ON the cob, salt water taffy and caramels.” Since we are in the wrong season for good corn on the cob we stopped at the candy store for a bag of caramels. Gracie ate one as soon as we got back to the car and declared it the best thing she has ever eaten.

Caramels!

Caramels!

After piano lessons we left to pick up Ozzie and head to Rusty’s Taekwondo lessons. Molly and Tyler stayed home for some special one on one time. After getting Rusty settled I drove Gracie and Ozzie to Great Clips to get hair cuts. Gracie decided that she was going to grow her hair out while she had braces and then get it cut, for a dramatic new look, on the day her braces came off.  She was growing it out so that she could donate it to Locks of Love, a charity that takes donated hair and makes wigs for children undergoing chemotherapy. The donated hair must be at least ten inches long. Gracie was nervous that her hair wouldn’t be long enough to donate but it was plenty long.

Gracie's hair bound with rubberbands and ready to be cut.

Gracie’s hair bound with rubber bands and ready to be cut.

The end result was adorable!

Grace with her hair donation.

Grace with her hair donation.

When we arrived home she was eager to show Toby. He thought she looked pretty but wasn’t thrilled about how grown up she looked…spoken like a real dad. 🙂

For school Grace had to submit a photo for the yearbook. The deadline was yesterday but she wanted to wait until her braces were off and her hair was cut so at 8:30 at night we were doing a photo session so that she could submit her yearbook picture before the 9:00pm deadline.

Here is the result… Gracie’s 9th grade yearbook picture.

My Gracie...beautiful inside and out.

My Gracie…beautiful inside and out.

It is hard, but so worth it.

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“Adoption is a commitment you enter into blindly, but it is no different from adding a child by birth.  It is essential that adopting parents are committed to making it work, committed to parenting this child for the rest of their lives, and committed to parenting through the tough stuff.” – Brooke Randolph

People keep asking how things are going with our newest addition. Things are good. Things are better than expected but that is not to say that it hasn’t been challenging. We are in the adjustment phase of this new journey and everyone is feeling the growing pains. It is much like bringing a baby home…We’re more tired than typical, a bit overwhelmed, the kids are all trying to figure out their place in this new family unit, all while Toby and I work to bond with our new son. What is different from the addition of a baby is that this child comes with his own fears, insecurities, habits and past that we have to navigate as we work to bond as a family. I had forgotten how tiring the first few months with Tyler were as we went through the process of establishing relationships, teaching boundaries and building trust.  It requires a lot of active parenting and in that sense is much like parenting a toddler…or should I say toddlers…since the supervision required is for Tyler and Ozzie.

Ozzie and Tyler are the best of friends. They frequently let people know this when they are out in public but they haven’t quite figured out HOW to be best friends. They haven’t learned each others’ friendship language. As a result they are much like an old married couple with their nagging and bickering. The either desperately love each other or drive each other crazy. This is where that active parenting comes in. Much of my day is spent mediating, correcting and redirecting. They just haven’t learned how to play on their own yet without help. The older kids have been a great asset in this department, especially Rusty, because when they all play together the older kids serve as role models for appropriate play…take turns, inside voices, calm touch, etc. Although there have been days that seem to just be filled with tattling and bickering they are both each other’s greatest defenders. The other day Ozzie lost the privilege of playing with his matchbox cars because he wasn’t playing fairly. Tyler came to his defense and claimed it was all his (Tyler’s) fault. It wasn’t. I was watching the entire interaction. He told me that it would make Ozzie “so sad” to lose his cars and that he would be willing to do Ozzie’s time out and Ozzie should get to play with his cars. 🙂 Moments like that one give me great insight into how far Tyler has come. Bringing Ozzie into our home has really given Tyler an opportunity to step up. Often, when watching them interact, it feels as though Tyler is the older brother even though Ozzie is 2 years older. We are at the beginning of the adoption road with Ozzie and the last two weeks have helped me remember what that path was like with Tyler. It is all coming back to me…the tantrums, the tears over missing old homes, the fears that if they are bad they will be kicked out, the bad habits that must be addressed, the new rules that must be learned, the fear that another meal might not be coming and the balance that we must strive for as we parent this new child that needs so much of our time and energy while we try to continue to give the other kids the time and attention they need. Even in the midst of all that I would say that things are going better than expected.

The boys playing cars.

The boys playing cars.

In the midst of this big life change life marches on. There isn’t the luxury of putting school, church callings, appointments, etc. on hold while we bond with our newest addition. Here is some of what has been happening at Patchwork Farm..

Things have been cold…VERY cold. The result of negative temperatures, when you live on a farm, is a lot of extra chores. There are more feedings, laying fresh bedding, and refilling water when things get cold. It also means a lot of two-hour delays for Ozzie. He has been thrilled by all the two-hour delays but I am finding it frustrating because I still have to home school the others. We typically start school at 8:45 but on days where there is a delay we aren’t able to begin until 11:15.

We also have had the scheduling challenge of many appointments. Ozzie came with many already scheduled appointments down in Pittsburgh that I have had to keep but we have also had appointments for the other kids that were set up before we knew about Ozzie. The result… 7 separate appointments in one week. I feel like we are a “car schooling” family rather than a “home schooling” one. This should ease up after this week. I hope.

The three older kids have been keeping busy with school and activities. Gracie received her 2nd quarter report card and was thrilled to find out that she got straight A’s. The big kids also have a fun activity going on with their piano lessons. The three older kids take piano from a friend of ours. She is wonderful! She comes to the house to teach them and it has been something they have all enjoyed. In honor of the winter Olympics she has created a Winter Piano Olympic challenge for piano practice. They each received a folder with daily challenges, instructions on how the Piano Olympic games work and insight on how to earn a perfect 10. It has been a fun motivation for the kids as they compete with each other.

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On Saturday we got a nice amount of snow so Toby took the little boys outside for sled rides behind the ATV. They had a blast!

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Ozzie has started cub scouts. He is so excited. We picked up his uniform and book last week and this past week he has worked with Toby to build his car for the pinewood derby. Last night was his first meeting which also happened to be the race. He LOVED it.

Ozzie all ready for his first cub scout meeting,

Ozzie all ready for his first cub scout meeting

Ready to race!

Ready to race!

So excited!

So excited!

Ozzie was thrilled to place 4th and win a candy bar.

Ozzie was thrilled to place 4th and win a candy bar.

 

This week continues to be packed with activities. Tonight the older kids at church are having their own pinewood derby. Gracie, Molly and Rusty have spent the week working on their cars. Tomorrow is also a big day for Miss Grace…she gets her braces off!

As I was flipping through a book of quotes the other day I came across this gem by Scott Simon that sums up how I have been feeling…

“There are times when the adoption process is exhausting, and painful and makes you want to scream.

But… so does childbirth.”

There you go.

It is hard… but so worth it. 🙂

Toby and Ozzie

Toby and Ozzie

Ice skating at North Park

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This post is a bit late but last weekend the older kids attended a fun church sponsored activity. It is an annual event that the kids always enjoy but this year I think it was even more appreciated by my oldest children. It had been a busy and emotional few days with Ozzie’s move-in and I think they all needed a little down time away from two high energy little brothers. The kids were able to each invite one friend to join them so they picked their friends, the Hudaks. We left the house at 3:00 and arrived as the activity was starting at 4:00. This is one of the most popular events of the year for the youth at church and this year was especially well attended. The kids gathered together for an opening activity and “get to know you” games before they headed out onto the ice. It was a bitterly cold night but that didn’t deter many from braving the cold and lacing up skates. I was grateful I could watch from inside a warm building, leaving only for short periods of time outside to get some photos. The kids skated for a couple of hours and had a lot of fun. When the cold got to be too much they came back inside for dinner. Hotdogs and sides were served.  After dinner the kids played board games and caught up with friends. This activity is for youth 12 and older so this was Rusty’s first year attending and he enjoyed it as much as the girls always do. It was a wonderful night. On the way home I had the pleasure of being serenaded by the four girls as they sang along to the FROZEN soundtrack. It was an appropriate choice for the weather that night. 🙂

Here are some photos from our fun night of skating…

All ready to skate with the Hudaks!

All ready to skate with the Hudaks!

Rusty and his friend, Lucus.

Rusty and his friend, Lucus.

Molly, Tatum and Olivia

Molly, Tatum and Olivia

A view from above.

A view from above.

Miss Grace all bundled up and ready to brave the cold.

Miss Grace all bundled up and ready to brave the cold.

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This was a cool picture Gracie took out on the rink..Ahhh, the magic of Ice skating !

Ozzie’s first day at school

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The last few days have been busy ones filled with registration papers, book bag shopping and lunchbox packing. For the first time in 9 years I am the mom of a “traditional” public school student. Gracie attended a local school for kindergarten but then we took her out in 1st grade to teach her at home using a cyber school. It was a huge leap of faith at the time and I entered it with a fair amount of fear and reservations but it turned out to be one of the best parenting decisions we ever made. Molly and Rusty have only known being taught at home. Tyler came to us having attended a behavioral school for kindergarten but when he was placed with us we were told we could cyber school him as well…much to our surprise and delight. We weren’t sure what the judge would decide to do about Ozzie’s education. We suspected the court would require a traditional learning environment until his adoption was finalized and we were correct. So on Tuesday I began navigating the unfamiliar waters of enrolling a child in my local public school. The biggest challenge was tracking down all the paperwork required for enrollment and filling out papers about past history when I wasn’t part of that past history. Ozzie faced the enrollment of school with mixed emotions. He loved his old school and was devastated about having to leave the teacher and friends he loved behind but the thing he was most upset about was leaving his school orchestra where he played cello. Our local school doesn’t offer orchestra at this age. I knew he was also nervous about a new school and being the new kid. Growing up as an Army brat I could sympathize with his fears of moving into a new school. His anxiety was made worse by an accident that happened on Monday…

When Ozzie came to us the first time for a visit his two front teeth were broken. He had fallen over the handles of a scooter and chipped them at his foster home. His broken teeth were a source of teasing at school and something that he was insecure about. The second time he came to visit us he proudly showed off his newly bonded teeth that had been recently fixed. On Monday, as he was playing with the Ipad, he jerked the Ipad up as he played a game and hit himself in the mouth. Immediately he started to scream and cry as he felt his tooth and realized it was broken. He came running to me with his hand holding his mouth. “I broke my bonding,” he cried. “I can’t start my new school now. All the kids will make fun of me.” My heart broke for him. I knew it had been something he struggled with at his old school and now he was going to have to start at a new school with the same insecurities. I called his social worker, reported the accident, and was told it would probably take a couple of months to get him an appointment at the office where the work was done. There was nothing I could do except love on him and reassure him.

Ozzie playing with his construction vehicles in a pan of flour.

Ozzie playing with his construction vehicles in a pan of flour.

The next day we had an appointment to tour the school. Ozzie woke up excited. When it was time to leave we left the other kids at home in the care of Gracie. We drove to his new elementary school. It is a small country school about 5 minutes away. I think I was more nervous than he was. Unsure of how we were going to successfully navigate this public school world I wished that I could keep him home with the others. When we arrived we were greeted by name and the guidance counselor came into the office to give us a tour. As we walked around the school Ozzie was welcomed by the staff and the kids. He was impressed by the library, the music and art room and the playground. He kept saying that this was the “coolest school ever.” “It is like a mansion!” he kept exclaiming. The guidance counselor found his enthusiasm endearing. Our final stop was at his classroom where he met his teacher and classmates. He was shown where he would sit and where the cubby was to hang his coat.

The school is small. There are 300 students in grades K-5th. I was impressed. I think it will be a nice fit for Mr. Ozzie. As we were leaving the secretary told Ozzie that she looked forward to seeing him the next day.

Ozzie replied, ” I like your school a lot but I think I’ll wait until Thursday to start. I’d like to sleep in one more day.” 🙂

After touring the school we stopped at the store to pick out a backpack since he didn’t come with one. He wanted a one shoulder bag and we found one. We also picked up stuff to pack for his lunch.

Touring the school.

Touring the school.

The next day Ozzie did begin school but due to a 2 hour delay for cold temperatures it was a shorter day and he was able to sleep in. He was able to play in the morning and then we dressed him for school. As we were preparing to walk out the door he stopped me..”Mom you need to take my picture. It is my first day of school!” We took pictures and then I dropped him off, praying that this school would be kind to him and a blessing to our family. I came home and had a full day doing school with the other kids as I watched the clock creep closer to 3:30. When it was time, I drove over to the school and went in to drop off additional paperwork that they needed. The secretary asked if I wanted to have Ozzie paged to the office rather than wait in the pick up line. While I was waiting for him the guidance counselor walked in and asked how Ozzie’s first day was. I told her that he was excited when I dropped him off but we will see if he still feels the same way after a day of school. At that moment Ozzie burst through the office door.

“Mommy!” he yelled, ” This was the best day of my life!” 🙂

First day of school pictures.

First day of school pictures.

As we drove home he told me why school was so great.

“Only 1 kid made fun of me today,” he told me with great satisfaction.

Not nearly as pleased with this news as he was I asked, “What did he say?”

“He called me a name,” he informed me, “but I can’t tell you what he said because it will just upset you.”

A minute later Ozzie spoke up again, ” If you really want to know what he said I will tell you. It was very hurtful.”

I listened, expecting the very worse and already feeling the “Mama bear” feelings rising up in me.

“I was standing by the door and a boy came up to me and then he called me..”

Ozzie took a deep breath…

“A tomato.”

I tried hard not to smile as Ozzie shared his hurt.

“Why did he call you a tomato?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied with a sigh, “Maybe because I was wearing a red coat.

So… other than that one traumatic moment school was a hit. The teacher was nice. He made a friend (but he doesn’t know his name), and the schoolwork was easy.

My heart feels lighter and I’m grateful for the little blessings in this little man’s life!

The first 24 hours

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It has now been close to 24 hours since our newest family member has moved in. Yesterday went very well and Ozzie is now settled in. Last year when I began blogging about Tyler’s adoption he had already been a part of our family for a month when I began this blog so I didn’t share about his move in day. I thought I’d give you a look into the process of bringing a child into your home and what is involved. Here is an inside look on the last 24 hours…

Wednesday night at our home was spent “nesting.” Having had only a days notice of his arrival left us scrambling to prepare our home and Rusty’s room for Ozzie’s arrival. The biggest chore was organizing and clearing space in Rusty’s drawers and shelves for Ozzie’s things. While we were preparing things at our end Ozzie was getting the news he was moving at his end. The social workers went over to talk to Ozzie and Zoey on Wednesday night. The visit was an emotional one with many tears as Zoey was told that Ozzie was going to be moving in with us but she wasn’t. There were tears as Ozzie found out that he would be leaving his school, his friends and his sister. There was also great excitement on Ozzie’s part about moving in with us. At this point Ozzie is not being told that we are adopting him. This is the judge’s decision not ours. The judge is nervous that this may not work out after many failed placements. He doesn’t want Ozzie disappointed again so Ozzie has been told this is a foster placement with the possibility of adoption. Ozzie will be told at the next court hearing that we are adopting him. It all seems so silly to me because in my heart he is already ours but I suppose the judge is more cautious due to all the failed placements he has seen over the years. The process of adopting is not a fast one anyway but this process could take even longer than typical with Ozzie’s actual adoption about 6-9 months away.

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Thursday morning was spent trying to get some schoolwork done before Ozzie’s arrival at noon. Molly took some time to decorate the chalkboard outside with a welcome sign for Ozzie. While we were eagerly waiting at our end Ozzie was having a busy morning at his end. The social worker picked up Ozzie in the morning. She took him first to his school so he could pick up his things as well as say goodbye to his teacher and friends. She then drove him to the hospital to get his placement physical before he came to our house. We got a call at 11:30am that they were on their way. I called Toby, who was at work, and let him know that he needed to head home. We both had to be at home when Ozzie arrived to sign paperwork.

Ozzie pulled in a little after noon. He came running in the house and yelled, “I’m going to live with you now and maybe someday you can adopt me! I’m so happy. It was always my dream that I’d live with you forever!”

He then ran back outside to check out the welcome sign. I watched from the window as he added the word “Home” between “Welcome” and “Ozzie.”

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We carried in his boxes of clothes and toys as he carried in a plate of cupcakes that he made for us. They each had a “O” made from icing on top. “Do you know what the O stands for?” Ozzie asked, “It stands for Ozzie, because I’m your new kid!”

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The kids ran off to play while Toby and I sat down with the two social workers to fill out a tall stack of paperwork. The process of going over all the rules and regulations took about an hour and the realization that we were stepping back into the system hit me. I forgot all the red tape, rules, visits and paperwork that comes with having a pre-adoptive placement.

Jody Dyer had it right when she said,

“Everything about the adoption process is hard except for loving the child.”

After we were done with the paperwork the social workers said goodbye to Ozzie and left. We headed into Rusty/Ozzie’s room and began the laborious task of taking inventory all of Ozzie’s clothing and belongings (Paperwork required by the county) and putting them away. Molly, my little organizer, jumped into this task and enthusiastically helped me get Ozzie settled.

Molly organizing and taking inventory.

Molly organizing and taking inventory.

The rest of the evening was spent getting Ozzie settled. As we prepared for bed I could see that he was struggling a bit. He was stalling as we prepared for bed and as I went in to tuck him in I could see he wanted to talk.

“Are you ok, Ozzie? I asked.

“I guess,” he answered. “I just feel mixed up. I am starting a new life and am really happy but I also feel sad and miss my old home.”

We sat and talked for a while. I told him it was ok to feel happy and sad at the same time…that is was ok to be excited about the future but also sad about leaving certain things behind.  I learned, when we went through the adoption process with Tyler, that there is a grieving process that must take place before the future can be embraced. Tyler mourned the loss of his old family and old home for months before he could fully embrace the blessings of a new home.  It is hard though, as a mom, to watch as your children struggle. You want to protect them and shield them from heartbreak,  especially these little ones who have already experienced so much heartbreak in their short lives, but I learned with Tyler that there is no way to skirt around the pain.

The only way past it is through it.

I know this is only the beginning of many months of struggle and tears. I know that it will get harder before it gets easier. I know the growing pains will be felt by all members of the family as everyone adjusts to this new family unit. But I also know it is worth every bit of heartache and struggle and that God has an amazing way of taking the brokenness and making it whole.

Adoption isn’t easy but it is worth it.

We’ve made it through the first 24 hours… now we only have forever to go. 🙂

We are adopting…again!

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We are adopting…again!

Tyler and Ozzie

Tyler and Ozzie

 I have struggled the last two weeks with what to post so I have posted nothing. Sorry about that. So much was happening in our lives and God was working overtime. I didn’t know what to share, how much to share, or when to share, so I have postponed blogging anything until we received confirmation of what God was doing in our lives. I am now sitting here in the middle of the night overwhelmed with emotions and humbled by God’s goodness. I am unsure of where to begin our story because although the journey has been a short one (only a month), as well as an unexpected one, it has been a miraculous one. Tomorrow we become parents to Ozzie, a precious 9-year-old boy. Ozzie entered our lives 6 weeks ago when we stepped in to do an emergency respite weekend for a foster family that was struggling with Ozzie and his sister. We then had them every weekend in December and over Christmas break as the courts scrambled to find placements for them after the foster family gave their 30 day notice. We were approached about adopting them after a few visits. We were told it could be both or just one of them. The courts were trying to determine the best case scenario for these two precious children. Due to the concerns the doctors and therapists brought up the judge decided it was best to place them in separate homes. Although I struggled with mixed feelings about the court’s decision I know in my heart this is part of God’s plan. It was with a lot of prayer and discussion as a family that we embraced the path God was taking us down. Two months ago we had no idea we would be adopting a 9-year-old little boy or that the process would move so quickly but as I reflect back on the last few months I now clearly see God’s hand as the path unfolded. The reunion we planned for Tyler’s siblings in the fall was the catalyst and led to a series of “coincidences” and “God moments” that brought Ozzie to us. I am humbled as I reflect on the path God has led us down and the way He brought about this miracle. I am once again reminded that He has a plan for my life that far exceeds the plans I make for myself. I have seen Him in the details of this journey…in the little things.

We received the call 24 hours ago informing us that we have been chosen to be Ozzie’s forever family. The kids are all thrilled, especially Tyler who has developed a special bond with Ozzie. They have a similar past and share similar scars that has led to a special connection. Ozzie moves in Thursday. This evening was spent “nesting” as we cleaned Rusty’s room, washed the sheets on Ozzie’s bunk and cleared off half the shelves in Rusty’s room in preparation for the personal items Ozzie will bring with him tomorrow. I feel as though I haven’t had adequate time to celebrate and anticipate this “pregnancy.” It is like finding out you are pregnant at nine months and giving birth the next day. It that sense this adoption journey began very differently than Tyler’s adoption journey did. I would love to have a few more days to “nest”…to organize, decorate, and make purchases but it is not going to happen that way. We are jumping in full speed as we get him settled in and registered for school in the next two days so that he can begin school next week.

The next few days are going to be crazy busy but what a wonderful thing to be busy with. 🙂

There is so much I want to share about our journey so far, about this special boy and our excitement about his life joining with ours but it will have to wait. I am having a boy tomorrow and this Momma has a lot to do before his 1:00pm delivery! 🙂

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“Adoption…not a second choice or a fallback option, but wholly believing you are seeking to bring home the very child God created with you and your family in mind,  fully equipping you to be the very parent He created you to be.”

Happy New Year!

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We were invited to a friend’s home for New Years Eve so on Tuesday afternoon I told the kids that everyone needed to lay down to rest so that they would be able to stay up until midnight. Ozzie and Zoey were extra excited because they had never been to a New Years Eve party before, never stayed up until midnight, and never seen the ball drop on TV. As they “napped” I prepared some dips and snacks we were taking to the party. When Toby arrived home from work he changed and we headed out. We arrived at the party at 7:00 and had appetizers for dinner. As the kids played the moms prepared the activities we had planned for the night.

Dance party!

Dance party!

We came up with fun games and activities for the kids to do through the night as we counted down to midnight. We placed the activities in balloons with the time they were to be popped drawn on the front.

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At 8:00 pm the kids popped their first balloon and discovered that they were playing the hot potato candy bar game. We had filled a bag with candy bars that had tags attached with instructions. As the music played the bag was passed and when the music stopped whoever was holding the bag pulled out a candy bar and had to give it to a person who matched the description on the tag. For example, on the York candy bar it said, “Give me to the person in the room most likely to live in New York City as an adult.” The game ended when everyone had a candy bar.

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Candy bar game.

Candy bar game.

At 9:00 the next balloon was popped. It was the marshmallow building challenge. Each of the kids were given a paper plate with marshmallows and toothpicks. The challenge was to see who could build the tallest tower. It was fun to see how the different kids approached the challenge. The Lego builders in the group seemed to have the advantage with this activity.

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Lucus and Rusty...our building champs.

Lucus and Rusty…our building champs.

At 10:00 the next balloon was popped and the activity was the candy ball game. Earlier in the day Grace and Molly helped me prepare for this activity by making the candy ball. You create it by wrapping wrapped pieces of candy in Saran wrap and tape, winding and wrapping until you get a basketball sized candy ball. The game is played by sitting in a circle and taking turns rolling dice. If you roll a double you get to start unrolling the candy ball while the dice keep getting passed around the circle. You get to keep unrolling and collecting the candy that falls out until someone else gets a double and then they start unrolling where you left off. It is a fast paced, high intensity game of luck.

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At 11:00 it was time to pop the next balloon and the activity was a photo scavenger hunt. The kids were broken into two teams, boys vs girls, and given a list of things they needed to find and take a picture of. Here is one of the girls’ photos. They had to take a picture of a reflection.

11:00

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As the time drew closer to midnight we gathered in the living room to watch the ball drop. Everyone was excited but none more than Ozzie who was just shaking with excitement.

“10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1..Happy New Year!”

With that Ozzie ran over, threw his arms around my neck, hugged me and started to cry. “

“I don’t know why I cried,” he told me later, “I just felt so happy.”

Waiting for the ball to drop.

Waiting for the ball to drop.

At midnight the final balloon was popped. It was the traditional New Years Eve midnight activity of the Hudaks…run out into the snow barefoot!

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Brrrrrrr

Brrrrrrr

"How cold is it, Grace?"

“How cold is it, Grace?”

It was a wonderful party and a perfect was to end 2013 and welcome the new adventures of 2014.

Happy New Year!

Time-out!

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 Ozzie and Zoey have gone home. They were dropped off yesterday afternoon. Yesterday evening I was visiting with a friend and she asked me how their visit went. I found myself a bit tongue-tied as I struggled to give her an honest answer. I wasn’t sure what to say. I was so tired and the last two weeks have been such a blur that I honestly couldn’t recall all that had happened or figure out how I felt the visit went. I told her that I needed a good night sleep and then I’d be better able to answer her question. Now as I sit here this morning I am in a better place emotionally and physically to assess our last two weeks. Overall I would say the last two weeks went 100 times better than I anticipated. Overall the kids (ours and our visitors) handled the adjustment of new people better than expected. There were no major disasters, no accidents, nothing said or done that brought regrets. There were no trips to the ER, no calls to 911 (which one of the kiddos has been known to do before) and no house fires. I would say our two weeks were a success! That is not to say there wasn’t a massive amount of active parenting happening every day as I settle disputes, resolved conflicts and played mediator over a multitude of little arguments like whose turn it was to play with a toy. It wasn’t an easy 2 weeks but it was 2 weeks of a lot of growth and teaching opportunities. It was a chance to work some parenting muscles that I haven’t used in a while. 🙂

The biggest change I saw was the increase in the amount of time-outs given on a daily basis. Some of those time-outs were given as a consequence for behaviors…many were self-declared time-outs as the older kids (or a parent) in need of a break would lock themselves in the bathroom for extended amounts of time. A few days ago I had to give Tyler a timeout when he and Ozzie kept picking at each other. Before it escalated into an argument I sent them in separate directions. When Tyler didn’t want to listen he then received a true time-out as I placed him on the bench in my bathroom. Tyler wasn’t happy about having to “time-out” in my bathroom by himself and he let me know that. While he vented I went in search of Ozzie who had gone down to the basement and was playing by himself. When I  asked him if he was ok he said that he was ok and that he just needed some time alone. I think all that togetherness was wearing on everyone so Ozzie put himself in a “time-out.” Once I knew Ozzie was fine I headed back upstairs to let Tyler know his time-out was over. As I approached the bathroom the door quickly slammed shut. Tyler informed me that he was just going to stay in the time-out and to not come in. Knowing that Tyler would never volunteer for a time-out I told him to open the door…

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As I pushed the door open I saw the result of doing a time-out in my bathroom and I remembered why we typically use the fencepost. While I was checking on Ozzie Tyler had gotten into my make-up and had put on my mascara…or had at least tried. It was all over his face.  As I looked down I saw blood dripping from his ankle.  “What happened?” I asked him.  Slowly he revealed the razor that had been hidden behind his back. As I looked him over I discovered that while he sat, bored in my bathroom, he decided to try out my razor and shave his legs…and arms…with a dry razor.  The result was multiple nicks and hairless limbs. I guess I should be grateful he didn’t shave off his eyebrows.

This only happened once this week but it is reflective of the many mini adventures we had at our home over Christmas break.

Was it a good week?  Yes.

Was it a hard week?  Yes.

Was it a boring week?  Definitely not 🙂