Monthly Archives: February 2014

Girl in need of a home

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For those who might be considering adoption I know of a girl in need of a home. She is typically well-behaved,¬†although will occasionally have a tantrum or two. She follows directions well and is generally compliant. She isn’t a beauty queen but is a hard worker and keeps her space neat. She enjoys reading and writing and camping. She doesn’t enjoy group sports or watching sports. She is a good sleeper and will willingly go to bed when told. She is not a picky eater and enjoys all types of food. She is generally calm and even-tempered but lately has been acting up. Oh, and I hope this won’t deter you, she is 36.

Anyone interested??

After the day I had yesterday I may be looking for a new home and thought I’d begin the search process. ūüôā

Wow, yesterday was a doozy. It was probably the toughest day we have had with the boys over the course of two years and both adoptions. (And those that read this blog regularly know that we have had some tough ones.) ¬†I don’t know if it was a full moon, something in the water, or the beginning of the¬† Zombie Apocalypse but let me just say a horde of Zombies doesn’t scare me at all after what I’ve seen. The day began with shouts and tears and ended in much the same manner. It was a dig deep, night will be coming soon and this day will be over, sort of day.

But now, here I sit, and it is the next morning. Everyone went to sleep. Nobody was beaten. Everyone is alive and well. The sun rose again and with the new day comes the hope that this day will be better than the last.

Some hard days can be salvaged. Sometimes with a change of pace, or scenery, or change of attitude that day can turn around. Some days, however, are just too hard, to sad, to far gone to be salvaged and that is when we must simply dig deep, hold on and pray for endurance. Sometimes success doesn’t look like the “clean house, happy children, emptied ‘to-do’ list day” that we think it should. Sometimes success is simply making it until bedtime and then committing to do it again tomorrow…to give it another try…to not give up on ourselves and the people we love.

As Thomas S. Monson said:

“Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.’

It is a new day, a chance to try harder, be kinder and more patient, to walk a little taller and do a little better than yesterday.

A new day holds great hope.

I know today will be a better day.

But…

¬†My ¬†boys aren’t up yet, so just in case¬†I’m wrong…

I know¬†this¬†¬†girl in need of a home¬†. ūüėČ

Eating Seagulls

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I have started taking parenting classes. I know what you are thinking… “After 5 kids it’s about time, woman!” These classes¬†were not my idea. These classes are a part of Ozzie’s trauma therapy appointments. At each weekly¬†appointment we are called into the doctor’s office together where I am given a parenting lesson, assigned homework for the week, and then sent back to the waiting room to wait while Ozzie has his therapy session. Each lesson is¬†intended to teach me new parenting skills that I perhaps lack and then apply them¬†to my parenting the following week. I have tried to be the cheerful, receptive, open-minded¬†student I should be but have done my share of internal eye rolling. Last week we had a lesson on the proper way to give a command. “You should never beg your child to obey you,” he counseled, “because then you have given them the authority in the relationship.” I sat sweetly, nodding my head as though this¬†was all very insightful when I really wanted to say, “No kidding!”

This past week’s lesson was on how to calm your child down when he is having a tantrum. Our assignment was to work for 30 minutes every day on relaxation techniques…deep breathing, muscle relaxation and visualization. We have been doing this every evening after family scripture study. The results haven’t been what the doctor was hoping for. My 3 teenagers are on the verge of sleep when we are done but the two little boys spend the majority of the time wiggling and giggling. You’ll be happy to know that I didn’t beg them once to obey. The doctor will be so proud. The second part of my parenting homework was to then use these relaxation techniques every time Ozzie started to tantrum. This went about as well as expected:

The other day a tantrum began as a result of Ozzie not wanting to take a bath. I picked him up, carried him to the room and began to apply the techniques we have been working on. He laid¬†on his bed kicking and crying while I sat with my back against the door and my eyes closed. In my best new age, yoga instructor voice I told him to take slow, deep breaths. His response was a fast paced pant. I then began our visualization….

“Imagine you are at the beach. In front of you stretches the ocean. The waves are calm and there are dolphins jumping in the distance.”

From the bed I hear Ozzie mutter, “I hate dolphins.”

I continued… “You are sitting on a beach chair with your toes in the sand.”

“I’ll break that beach chair!” Ozzie responded.

“There are children playing in the sand near your chair,” I continued.

“I’ll kick sand in their eyes!” he growled back at me.

“All you can hear,” I continued, determined to give this exercise a valiant effort, “are the seagulls overhead.”

“I’m gonna eat those seagulls!!” he yells from across the room.

“Wow,” I thought to myself, “These parenting classes are amazing. I don’t know how I’ve parented the last 15 years without these tools.” When Ozzie was finally calm and the tantrum had passed¬†I then had to sit down and fill out paperwork for the doctor on what happened during the tantrum, what tools I used, how Ozzie responded, and what I could do better next time. I then get to share our results with the doctor at the next appointment before I receive my next parenting lesson…Yea!! ūüôā

Other happenings this week include:

1. A visit with Mimi Joy. On Monday we met at Eat n’ Park for dinner so that she could meet her new grandson. Ozzie was thrilled that she knew it was his birthday and bought him a gift. He was happy to receive a new Lego set. We had a wonderful time!

Dinner with Mimi Joy

Dinner with Mimi Joy

2. We had a furry visitor come and stay with us. Jemima, a pup we babysit every now and then, came for a two-week visit. The kids love when Jemima visits, especially Tyler.

Jemimah and Tyler

Jemima and Tyler

3. On Wednesday we had our Valentine party at co-op. We were late getting there due to an IEP¬†meeting I had in the morning for Ozzie at his school but luckily we made it to co-op before any of the Valentine fun began. There were two parties, one for the older kids and one for the younger kids. The older kids had lunch together and played games together like the candy ball game while the little kids decorated cookies and exchanged valentines. Tyler had Rusty’s help in creating his Lego box. Tyler was thrilled when his box¬†won the prize for the “reddest” box.

Tyler and his Lego Valentine box.

Tyler and his Lego Valentine box.

The big kid party.

The big kid party.

4.¬† On Thursday I drove Molly to our local hospital so that she could donate the baby hats she has been crocheting¬†for the maternity ward. Ozzie and Rusty tagged along. When we arrived at the maternity floor we were buzzed in through¬†the locked doors and we found our way to the nurses’ desk. They were generous with their praise and gratitude as Molly showed them the hats she had made. She was also tickled to find out that they were both named Molly. We rarely meet other “Mollys” so to meet two at once was a surprise. While we were standing there Ozzie asked if he could see a newborn baby. He told the nurse he had never seen one before. She explained that they didn’t have any right now but there were a few women in labor. Just then another nurse called out that one of the patients was about to deliver. As one of the nurse Mollys jumped up to assist Ozzie called after her, “Can we come and watch?” Needless to say we didn’t stick around, much to Ozzie’s disappointment.

Molly and her bag of baby hats to donate.

Molly and her bag of baby hats to donate.

5. On Saturday we were able to get Ozzie together with his sister, Zoey. We met at Burger King and I left the rest of the kids at home so that Ozzie and Zoey¬†could have some one on one time together without the other kids. Zoey¬†brought Ozzie a gift for his birthday. It was a bag filled with some homemade gifts she had made for him. Ozzie was so excited by the gifts but also by the fact that Zoey¬†had made them. The kids then had a chance to play while I got to know Zoey’s¬†new foster mom. She was wonderful and I can see that Zoey¬†is exactly where she needs to be. When we left it was with mixed feelings. I felt such peace knowing that Zoey¬†was thriving where she was at¬†but there was also a sadness watching Ozzie and Zoey say good-bye. We will be getting them together regularly but that doesn’t lessen the heartbreak that comes from a sibling separation.

Zoey and Ozzie

Zoey and Ozzie

6. This week we received a special package in the mail that contained some special handmade gifts…a beautiful table doily from my Aunt Jane as well as a wall hanging for Tyler from my grandma, G.G. G.G. has made a wall quilt for each of the kids for their rooms. Molly’s is an ice cream quilt, Gracie’s is a butterfly quilt, Rusty’s is a car quilt and Tyler’s is a fireman quilt. On the back of Tyler’s quilt¬†was a tag that had the date and “Welcome to the family.” He loves it and it now hangs next to his bed.

Tyler's quilt from G.G.

Tyler’s quilt from G.G.

7. This past week we did our annual wall marking. Every year on Valentine’s day we measure the kids on the wall of our hallway to see how much they have grown from the previous year. This year was Ozzie’s first mark on the wall. Last year was Tyler’s first mark so it was fun to see how much he has grown in the past year. Everyone had grown a few inches…everyone that is but poor Grace who is 5’2″ and holding. ūüôā

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8. And finally the last big event of the week was Miss Molly receiving her young women medallion. She has been working very hard this past year with the goal of accomplishing all the requirements before she turned 14. She did it with 6 weeks to spare. We are very proud of the young woman she has become. We love you, Miss Molly!!

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So there you go. The past seven days at Patchwork farm. Things have been busy but good busy. It is easy to get overwhelmed with the endless list of chores, appointments, lessons, and therapy sessions so we tackle¬†our days¬†in the same manner you would face the task of eating an elephant…one bite at a time.

Or in our family…

Eating the seagulls one tantrum at a time. ūüôā

Guess who is turning 10?! (Part 2)

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When I woke early this morning I found myself facing the same choice I have had to make each morning this week…wake up and finish part 2 of this blog or curl up and sleep for 45 more minutes. I found myself hitting the snooze button once again. This week has been a tiring one due to a lot of extra meetings and more running than usual. We had a few trips into Pittsburgh, a co-op Valentine party, an IEP¬†meeting, and two social worker visits on top of our usual obligations. As a result I have found myself fantasizing about my bed more often and choosing sleep over the other things I could be doing in the early morning hours. It is always a quandary, however, when the alarm goes off at 5:30. I know the blessing of those early morning hours, those moments of quiet and solitude before the rest of the family wakes. I know that my day ALWAYS goes more smoothly if I center myself and have that quiet time before the wild rumpus begins and yet even with that knowledge I have found myself hitting the snooze button all week-long. *sigh* So, now that Ozzie is on the bus and the kids are eating breakfast, I am determined to finish this blog entry. ūüôā

Ozzie turned 10 on Sunday. When he was with us over Christmas break he told me that his only wish was that he would be able to spend his birthday at our house. On Sunday morning he excitedly exclaimed, “My wish came true!” As is our tradition, we snuck into Ozzie’s room early Sunday morning to wake him up with the family singing “Happy Birthday” and a cupcake with a candle to blow out. He was thrilled and loved being able to have cupcake for his birthday breakfast.

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After church we let Ozzie open his gifts while lunch was cooking. Each of the kids used their own money to buy Ozzie a gift so he had quite a pile to open. We start with the youngest giving their gift first and end with Mom and Dad’s gift. Tyler bought Ozzie a gumball pack with a matchbox car on top. Rusty bought him Lego stickers, Lego candies and a Lego car that he made him. Molly bought him a matchbox car carrier and Gracie bought him a Monster Truck. Ozzie was very happy with all his toys and kept asking, “Are these all for me?” He was very grateful but he did have to be reminded a few times not to ask the giver where they bought his gift and how much they spent. ūüôā

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From Toby and I Ozzie received a membership to Minecraft, an online game that Rusty and Tyler play together. After lunch Rusty helped Ozzie set up his account. We had a quiet day. The kids played and we watched. My heart overflowed with gratitude.

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It is such a funny thing when I consider that¬†just a ¬†few months ago we had no idea God was bringing this little boy into our lives and yet so quickly my heart is¬† full of love for him. That¬†is not to say it is always easy. We have our fair share of hard moments, tough days, and meltdowns (his and mine) and yet there is no doubt he is my child, my son to raise. As I look back on the last decade of my life I can now see the path that God has been laying all along to bring Ozzie to Toby and I.¬† Like Tyler, this path of adoption was part of God’s plan from the beginning of time. He was meant to be my son, meant to be part of our forever family. There was a time in my life I struggled with anger towards God for closing the door to future pregnancies through a diagnosis of Myasthenia¬† Gravis, but I know now that he had to close that door for me to understand and embrace¬†the calling he would lay on my heart…on our hearts…in the future. I had to let go of my plans so that God could show me the greatness of His plans. I had to surrender. I had to let go of the white knuckle grip I had on my own desires and¬†turn¬†my hands over¬†so that He could place His good gifts on my open palms. These two little boys who have entered our lives are treasures…treasures that we would not have been blessed with had things gone “my way.” I quote the words of¬†Nia¬†Vardalos with some licence:

“If the standard route for creating a family had worked for me, I wouldn’t have met Ozzie. I needed to know him. I needed to be his mother. His is, in every way, my son.”

It is often through our greatest heartbreak that we find our most divine calling…that calling that God whispered on our hearts long ago…

“Before you were born, when God knit you together in your mother’s womb, He reached down and took your tiny heart in His hand and breathed on it in such a way to inscribe on it your calling-¬†the reason for which you were being sent into the world to love and be loved and to be God’s love in the flesh to everyone you meet. Since that day, amid all the noise and distractions, your heart with every beat has kept whispering¬†that calling. Sometimes it is hard to hear it. You have to listen closely. There are other voices, too, that you have collected over the years- voices of guilt and fear and shame and negativity. They say, “You can’t do that” and “You ought to do this” and “What will people say?”¬† But they all come from your head not your heart, and they never whisper, they shout, forever trying to drown out the one true thing you need to hear. Don’t listen to the bad voices. Listen to your heart. Follow your calling. If there is any art to living I believe it is that.” – Sharon Randall

As I tucked my 10-year-old treasure into bed on Sunday night I whispered a silent prayer of thanks for the blessings of long days, noisy kids, temper tantrums, dirty dishes, and unanswered prayers. For it is in the hardest, loneliest, most tiring moments of life that we hear the whisperings of God and remember our calling.

 

Guess who is turning 10?! (Part 1)

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This weekend was an extra special one in our home because of a certain little boy turning 10. That’s right, Ozzie is now a double-digit kid. This was a big day for the rest of us as well because this was our first birthday celebration with Ozzie. “Firsts” become all the more precious when dealing with an older child adoption. I wasn’t there for the first 9 years of his life. I missed the first words, the first steps, the first day of Kindergarten…which is why I cherish the “firsts” that¬†I do get to experience. I am so grateful for this little boy God has brought into our lives and this weekend was a celebration of¬†that love.

My "littles"

My “littles”

Saturday was spent at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. The museum was offering free admission to families that had a Pittsburgh Zoo membership so we took advantage of that special blessing and headed to Pittsburgh for a day of fun.

The Children's Museum

It was a busy day at the museum. I think the combination of it being Saturday as well as¬†the offering of free admission¬†made for a large crowd, but we didn’t let that deter us from making the most of our day. It had been years since we had been there. When the three oldest kids were little we went quite often so they were eager to show the little boys, who had never been there, all the cool sights.

The ceiling og the art studio. The photographer in me couldn't resist this shot!

The ceiling of the art studio. The photographer in me couldn’t resist this shot!

The first stop was what my children affectionately call the “hamster maze.” This was a favorite exhibit of Rusty’s when he was little. Upon arriving¬†he found¬†that the passing years had caught up with him and he was now too big to enjoy it. The little boys enjoyed it, though, especially Tyler who didn’t want to leave.

The "Hamster Maze"

The “Hamster Maze”

The next stop was The Attic, a room that has a gravity room and focuses on a lot of optical illusions exhibits. It really was a playground for the senses. This was probably Ozzie’s favorite exhibit.

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The next stop was the garage. This was another favorite of my car loving boys. They had many fun activities for the kids to enjoy!

The garage

The garage

Ozzie building a bike wheel.

Ozzie building a bike wheel.

The little boys dreaming of their 16th birthdays. :)

The little boys dreaming of their 16th birthdays. ūüôā

It was then time to head upstairs to “Water Play.” When Molly was little this was her favorite spot in the museum and once we entered it was a struggle to get her to leave. This room¬†was basically an indoor pool minus the pool. It¬†was full of squirting fountains, buckets, water tables, pipes and sprinklers for the kids to enjoy. When you walk inside there¬†was a rack of plastic aprons that the kids could put on to keep dry but we found they did little to deter a full soaking of the boys. Tyler, especially, was soaked all the way through. If only I had brought some shampoo in my purse and we could have gotten his Saturday shower over with. ūüėČ

Water fun!

Water fun!

Ozzie having buckets of fun.

Ozzie having buckets of fun.

At the end of our time in Water Play we stopped at the driers where the girls attempted to dry off their little brothers a bit.

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Our final stop was the Studio…Gracie’s favorite spot! Here the kids were able to paint, play with clay, do prints and silk screening. The big kids loved this room. The little boys endured it. We finally decided to split up so that the older kids could take their time and Toby took the little boys back to the “hamster maze.”

Rusty silk screening.

Rusty silk screening.

¬†It was soon time to leave. The kids all agreed it was the perfect activity for Ozzie’s birthday and Ozzie was quick to ask when we would be returning. It was a perfect start to¬†our weekend celebration.

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PS- Happy Valentines Day!

You might be a redneck…

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As a child I had dreams and aspirations.¬†As a Kindergartener I aspired to one day¬†be employed¬†at the golden¬†mountains (McDonald’s). As I grew older my aspirations grew to include being a ballerina, a teacher,¬†or¬†perhaps president of the United States. Never once, however, did I say, “When I grow up I am going to be a redneck woman,” and yet here I find myself living a life that should land me a reality show contract. This week wasn’t the first time I stopped to ponder when exactly I had crossed the line from lady to redneck Momma…

I suppose it was a gradual transformation…

There was that little incident a few years back when the neighbors called to report that their police scanner was squawking about our herd of goats on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It was an adrenaline pumping moment as I raced down the hill on our go-cart hoping to beat the state troopers to the scene of the crime and get our goats off the highway before they caused a pile-up.

 Then there was that awful day when the pigs escaped and we had to herd them back home from New Galilee along the main drag. I sat in the car honking the horn as the kids, equipped with long sticks, tried to keep them on the center line of the road like some sort of small town holiday parade.

¬†We have also¬† been known to transport farm animals like llamas home from¬†auction in the back of our¬†station wagon which is no easy feat, let me tell you! Llamas don’t fold easily.

¬†This¬†week, however,¬†I feel like I have¬†solidified my standing as “Redneck Momma of the Year” when I found myself straddling an ATV at the bus stop waiting¬†to take Ozzie home. All I needed to qualify for my own Honey Boo Boo reality show was a dead deer strapped to the back of my four-wheeler and a wardrobe change…curlers and a robe perhaps.

This all came about due to the unrelenting snow and cold weather we have had for the last six weeks. After taking the kids to the dentist on Tuesday morning we headed straight home. As we approached the driveway I put the car in four-wheel drive, hit the gas, and began climbing our steep drive. About halfway up we began to spin and came to rest sideways. Thinking that I would “unstick” it later I put it in park and we hiked home. That afternoon, as the time for Ozzie’s bus to arrive approached, I began the trek back to the car. As I climbed in I assumed I would easily be able to coast it back down the driveway only to find that the layer of ice under the snow made it impossible to get any traction. As the bus time drew nearer I began to panic. There was not enough time¬†for the long walk¬†from our house to the bus stop so I ran back to the house, grabbed the ATV and met Ozzie at the bus stop, redneck style, much to the shock of the bus driver and the delight of Mr. Ozzie.

Our ride to the bus stop...

Our ride to the bus stop…

The next day was our home school co-op, which we had to miss due to our vehicle dilemma. After making¬†contact with multiple tow companies who weren’t¬† willing to¬†even attempt to tow us out we realized we were stuck home for the day until we came up with a plan B. Wednesday morning was bitterly cold with temperatures below 0 and a windchill of -12. Knowing that we were going to have to four-wheel our way to the bus stop again I dressed Ozzie in double layers and brought a blanket to snuggle in. As we waited Ozzie began to get more and more upset as he got colder and colder. As tears began to fall I started shedding my layers and putting them on him. By the time the bus arrived Ozzie was warm and I was sitting on the ATV without a hat, gloves or coat which not only solidified my status as “Redneck Momma” but “Crazy Lady of bus route #1” as well.

Ozzie, all bundled up!

Ozzie, all bundled up!

The kids were devastated to miss co-op, especially after 4 weeks of cancellations due to flu and winter weather but the upside was that we were able to enjoy a day at home with nowhere to go and nobody visiting us. The driveway guaranteed we didn’t have any unexpected visitors. The day was spent doing “fun school”…science experiments, history, and art projects.

Grace had an online science class where they studied the components of a DNA strand by creating an edible DNA strand out of candy. She had a lot of fun with it!

Gracie's online science class.

Gracie’s online science class.

DNA...yum yum.

DNA…yum yum.

For art Rusty learned about artist Louise Nevelson and her style of sculpting called Assemblage. Like her style of art, Rusty had to create a sculptural wall using found objects around the house which he then spray painted a solid color to create unity in his piece. I think it turned out really cool!

Rusty's sculptural wall.

Rusty’s sculptural wall.

It was a good day…a much needed forced “staycation!” After a few more trips to and from the bus stop on my redneck minivan we were finally able to get the car down the driveway.

So, if you had plans to drive by our road at 8:05¬†in the morning¬†in hopes of catching a glimpse of that crazy Redneck Momma you’ve heard rumors about I am here to tell you she has gone back into hiding…

at least until the next snow storm. ūüôā

Birthday fun at the Homestead!

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Saturday we drove out to Ohio for a much-needed¬†day of fun¬†at the Homestead. Our reason for going, in addition to just needing some family time, was to celebrate some birthdays. Due to crazy winter weather and the unexpected¬†life change of adding another child to our brood, we hadn’t had the chance to celebrate my birthday (Dec. 27) or Mom’s birthday (Jan. 11). We now also have Ozzie’s birthday coming up on Feb.16 so we used our spontaneous get together as an excuse for a birthday bash. We arrived around 10:30 and left soon after to go see a movie together. The plan was to see the new Lego movie but when we arrived it was sold out. We went to see The Nut Job instead. It was a funny movie that all of¬†the kids enjoyed.¬† After the movie we stopped to pick up pizza for our birthday celebration at home.

The boysare ready for a party!

The boys are ready for a party!

The girls, ready to eat!

The girls, ready to eat!

After lunch we opened gifts. Ozzie was thrilled to receive a Lego set from Mimi and Pop pop. He was extra thrilled when he discovered it was a Lego Movie lego set.

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The remainder of the afternoon was spent doing what we love most at the Homestead…visiting, playing in the barn, enjoying the animals and¬†spending time together as¬†family.

Rusty playing in the barn.

Rusty playing in the barn.

Toby and the kids warming up by the fire.

Toby and the kids warming up by the fire.

Tyler feeding the trout that live in the spring room of my parents' 200 year old home.

Tyler feeding the trout that live in the spring room of my parents’ 200 year old home.

Ozzie and his best friend, George.

Ozzie and his best friend, George.

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Tyler enjoying a quiet moment with Miss Rosie.

Tyler enjoying a quiet moment with Miss Rosie.

Buster whispering sweet nothings in Toby's ear. :)

Buster whispering sweet nothings in Toby’s ear. ūüôā

Playing in the snow...Taekwondo style.

Playing in the snow…Taekwondo style.

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It was a beautiful day at the farm and a blessed day with family!

A grain of sand

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This last week has left me weary. I have found myself dreaming of running away or better yet everyone else in my family running away so that I could climb into bed, pull the covers over my head and sleep. It isn’t physical exhaustion that drives my sleep fantasies but mental and emotional exhaustion. I am weary with worry…worries about my Mom and Dad, worries about my children and the adjustments they are struggling with, worries about the young women I work with at church, worries about Ozzie and the struggles he faces as he confronts¬†the demons of his past and works to open his heart and learn to trust us. I am tired but I didn’t realize how tired I was until a friend called the other day asking if I would make cookies and I broke down in tears. A very innocent request was the proverbial straw and I broke.¬† Robert Service had it right when he said:

“It isn’t the mountain that wears you out, it is the grain of sand in your shoe.”

It isn’t one big thing that is wearing me out, it is all the little things…the appointments, the social worker inspections, the reading lessons, the dog mess on the carpet, the homeschooling, the adoption paperwork, ¬†the goats escaping, the trips into Pittsburgh for doctor’s appointments, the calls that need made, the worries about loved ones, the bickering and nagging and parenting that is continuous at this phase of adoption and adjustment.

My shoes are full of sand.

So, what do we do when we struggle to move forward, when the weight of the sand in our shoes exceeds our physical ability?

We do what God has called us to do. We hand each grain of sand to him…one at a time. Great blessings come from our hardest days, weeks and years. I have found that often it isn’t until I get to the end of myself…the end of my capacity…the end of my strength…¬†that I fully surrender to Him. That is where I was ¬†yesterday. I had no more to give…no more patience, no more affirming words, no more optimism or hope. I was tapped dry. I was an empty well. No more water…just sand…so I called out to the one who could quench my thirst, who could give me hope, who speaks affirming words and fill me with patience. I prayed. I prayed for the next minute, then the next ten minutes. I remembered…I remembered¬†the blessing of dependence on Him. I remembered the days of my past…those hardest of hard days that were only survived through minute to minute prayer.¬†I remembered¬†the holiness of those days and ¬†I prayed.

¬†And then God answered…

This adoption journey has been so different from¬†our walk with Tyler. So different that I feel like most of what I learned with our first adoption process has to be thrown out and we are starting back at square one. The process of him joining our family has been very different than the first time around, his trauma¬†and foster journey is very different that Tyler’s, and his demons are different. Although both have experienced abuse, multiple foster placements and the loss of siblings, Ozzie was older when he went through it all and his scars are closer to the surface. His scars also present themselves very differently than Tyler’s did. Ozzie also comes to us with a diagnosis of Asperger’s¬†¬†Syndrome so I find myself sometimes struggling as I parent certain behaviors and have to figure out, “Is this defiance, the Asperger’s, or the abuse that I¬† am seeing?” It can be hard knowing when affirmation and understanding¬†are needed and when correction is called for.¬† This is where that dependence of a loving Heavenly Father comes in. He loves Ozzie. He knows Ozzie. He knows what Ozzie needs and through prayer I can also¬†know what Ozzie needs.

One of the biggest struggles we have faced with Ozzie is an obsessive protectiveness over his toys. He will flip out if any of the kids look at or touch his things. Knowing that some of that reaction comes from the fact that he is a child who has lost most of what he has had in his life…his home, his parents, he sister, his possessions…I have given him the space and “permission” to guard his items, hoping that as he learns to trust us some of that guard will fall. The problem I found, though, was that although Ozzie expected his toys to be off-limits he expected everyone else to share their toys willingly. After a few incidents of him taking things without asking we told him that if he was going to take the other kids’ things without permission that he would have to allow the kids to play with his toys. This declaration was tested the next day when he snuck into Gracie’s room and took a guitar part from her room to look at. When caught, Gracie told him that she would have let him see it if he had asked but that he can’t take things from her room without asking. His reply was, “But I wanted to see it!” We brought them both down to the living room¬† where I had them sit and I told Gracie that she could go pick something from Ozzie’s room that she wants to look at. Gracie went into his room and came back out with a matchbox car which she gamely observed and examined for the sake of making a point¬† while Ozzie flipped out and screamed his protests. After 2 or 3 minutes Gracie put it back but Ozzie’s tantrum went on for 30 more minutes. Later that evening Ozzie told me that he has never been good at sharing and that he couldn’t do it. I told him that we all have things that are hard for us to do. I told him that we would pray about it and work on it together. He didn’t think “practicing sharing” was a good plan. ūüôā

The struggle of sharing...

The struggle of sharing…

The next day we had another opportunity to help Ozzie work on sharing when he needed a Lego out of Tyler’s toy box and went to get it without asking.¬†When I told him he had to ask first his behavior began to escalate as he tensed and¬†shouted, “But I need it!” I took him into his room and tried to calm him down with some of the relaxation techniques that his doctor had been working with him on. I told him that if he wanted to use Tyler’s Legos¬†he would have to let Tyler borrow something of his. Ozzie began to tantrum. I told him that if he didn’t want to share that was fine but he couldn’t use Tyler’s Legos. He kept insisting that Tyler should have to share but that he can’t share because his toys are special. We sat and talked. I told him that I understood that sharing was hard for him. I understood that he was scared. I¬†knew that this was an opportunity to build trust so I told him we were going to try sharing and I would help him. We began by saying a prayer together. We prayed that his toy would be safe in Tyler’s hands and that he wouldn’t feel anxious and that he would get the chance to see how good sharing can feel. We prayed that we¬†would be able to¬†follow Jesus’ example, the one who shared ALL, and be courageous. I then let him pick the toy he would share. I told him that we would set the timer for ten minutes and that I would stay by his toy the entire time and make sure it was safe. When Ozzie was calm I then went into the living room to prepare Tyler on how to receive Ozzie’s toy and how he was expected to behave with it. It was then time for the exchange. Ozzie came out of¬†his room with trepidation. Ozzie’s little body was pulsating with anxiety as he handed over his car and headed into Tyler’s room to pick out the Legos. Tyler handled it with such kindness and when the time was over he took Ozzie his car and thanked him. As I was sitting on the floor talking to Ozzie about his success and how he was feeling Tyler returned with his favorite car that he brought with him from his old home and handed it to Ozzie and said that he wanted Ozzie to play with it.

“You are sharing your favorite car with me?” Ozzie asked in disbelief.

“Yep, you can play with it since you let me play with your car,” Tyler replied.

With excitement Ozzie jumped up. “Then I want you to play with one of my cars!” Ozzie shouted.

Ozzie grabbed a car off his shelf and handed it to Tyler.

“Look, Mom,” Ozzie shouted with pride, “We are sharing!”

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I know it seems like such a trivial thing.

So they shared a car…

But this was a victory,

A praiseworthy moment,

A grain of sand removed from my shoe,

An answered prayer from a God who cares.

Our greatest challenges are rarely mountains. The greatest challenges we face are the grains of sand in our shoes.

Likewise the victories¬†are rarely¬†“news worthy”¬†or monumental instead they are the little miracles. They are the small steps forward. They are the “I did a little better today than I did yesterday” moments. They are the “I will choose to get out of bed today” choices.

They are the reminders that God hears, that He cares, and that we don’t have to do it alone…ever!

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“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise” -Andy Stanley

A little of this, a little of that..

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Last Tuesday the young men and young women at church had a pinewood derby competition. The leaders took advantage of the cub scouts having the track up and decided to let the youth compete the day after the scouts. Toby has now had years of cutting pinewood derby cars out for the kids and this year he had 4 cars to help with. This year was a bit different, however. Since this pinewood derby had no connection with scouts the kids had license to do whatever they wanted. There were no restrictions on the design or the weight of the cars which allowed for a lot of creativity.

Molly's cheese car.

Molly’s cheese car.

Rusty's lego car.

Rusty’s lego car.

Gracie's "Harry Potter" Bus.

Gracie’s “Harry Potter” Bus.

The kids had a lot of fun. The whole family went and the little boys enjoyed watching the race. Ozzie was even able to participate when the young men’s leader needed someone to run his car while he scored the races. Ozzie, having just experienced his pinewood derby race the night before, was thrilled to be asked!

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We have had a lot of wintry¬†weather¬†this week. The storm that hit us on Tuesday night dropped 6 inches of snow and covered everything in ice. The result was a snow day for Ozzie and Toby. Unfortunately the other kids still had school. “That is the downside of cyber school,” I told them, “There are no snow days…¬†BUT when the other kids are stuck in a classroom in June we will be at the pool.” I was proven wrong the next day, however, when Gracie’s cyber school was cancelled for weather due to an ice storm in the east affecting the school’s server.¬†For the first time in¬†10 years of cyber schooling¬†Gracie had a¬†snow day!

Winnie out enjoying the snow.

Winnie out enjoying the snow.

Ozzie received exciting news this week when his teacher declared him “Star Student” of the week. The certificate came with a free meal to Ponderosa so on Monday night we went out as a family to eat. Ozzie was beaming with pride as he explained to the waitress that we were there because he was the star student. He¬†was also¬†quick to inform the other patrons, as he passed them to and from¬†the buffet, of his status. ūüôā
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Saturday was spent getting caught up on chores around the house. The boys spent the morning outside splitting wood. We have noticed that with temperatures being much colder than normal we have been going through wood for the outdoor wood burner much more quickly than is typical. The boys were able to get all the remaining logs in the pile split and ready to burn.

Splitting wood..

Splitting wood..

Twins!

Twins!

In the afternoon I drove Gracie to Perkins. She and her friend Olivia were surprising their friend Chessa with lunch. It was Chessa’s 16th birthday. Gracie and Olivia wanted to do something extra special and came up with the idea of surprising Chessa with lunch out…just the three of them. No adults allowed. This was their first time going out to a restaurant on their own so they were very excited. Gracie and Olivia arrived early with balloons, gifts and cupcakes. Chessa arrived a bit later with her Mom and was surprised to find Grace and Olivia waiting for her. They had a great time!

Happy birthday, Miss Chessa!

Waiting for Chessa..

Waiting for Chessa..

SURPRISE!!

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So there you are…a little of what has been happening this week at Patchwork Farm.

A call for prayers

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When I started this blog¬†1 1/2 years¬†ago it was to serve a single purpose. I started recording the day-to-day happenings of my life so that I could share our life with family that lived far away. Its purpose was to keep our family connected with the people we love. At the time Tyler had just moved in with us and so by blogging I was able to introduce him to loved ones that wouldn’t be able to meet him for a while and help them to feel like they knew him before they met him. Since that time our life has continued to change and the purpose of the blog has evolved. It has grown from simply being a journal entry for loved ones to read into something more profound..

It has become a way to connect with old friends from my past and extended family members I had never met.

It has served as a form of therapy as I typed out my fears and discouragements with tears falling in the middle of the night after a long or particularly hard day.

It has been a way to encourage others. As we faced the challenges of adoption, parenting, loss of a pet, etc. we were able to reach out and encourage others facing the same challenges. At the same time this blog has been an incredible encouragement to me as others have reached out in love and reminded me that I am not alone in my struggles and challenges.

It has been a way to connect with faceless people around the world who have become virtual neighbors to our family as we have invited strangers from around the world into our home.

Today this blog serves another purpose, a more profound purpose, as I reach out to all of you and ask for prayers.

¬†On Friday I received a call from my parents, whom you have all met through our blog visits to the Homestead, and was told the devastating¬†news that my dad had just been diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. It was unexpected. This Thursday he goes in for additional tests to determine¬†whether the cancer has spread. The results of Thursday’s test will largely determine the prognosis and treatment plan. I am reaching out to you, the family that reads this blog, old friends, acquaintances, readers from across the ocean that we have never met, and ask for your prayers.¬†We know the power of prayer and it is because of that testimony that we share this news with you and call on your prayers…

Prayers of wisdom for the doctors who will do the testing and the treating.

Prayers of peace for our family as we shoulder the burden of waiting for news.

Prayers of rest for my parents…rest for their racing minds and troubled hearts.

Prayers of healing.

Prayers for miracles.

Prayers for my Dad.

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¬†“The power of prayer has never been tried to its full capacity. If we want to see the mighty¬†wonders of divine¬†power and grace wrought in the place of weakness, failure and disappointment, let us answer God’s standing challenge, “Call unto me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not!” – J. Hudson Taylor

“I’m so happy I could BOUNCE”

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“Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb but how well you bounce.” -Tigger

Friday we had an unusual field trip with our cyber school… one that turned out to be a favorite with all the kids. We went to Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline park. When we arrived we had to sign waivers, the kids had to change into special shoes and then we sat through a short instructional session where the staff went over the¬†rules.

The kids were then set loose to… BOUNCE!

Sky Zone has different bouncing areas to enjoy…

There was the basketball court where the kids could get some impressive air as they shot the balls in. My boys were never such good basketball players.

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The open bounce area was a room full of trampoline squares on the floors and walls where the kids could bounce, flip and do tricks.

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The dodge ball area was similar to the open bounce area but with balls for playing dodge ball. Tyler and Ozzie really enjoyed this room.

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The final area was the Foam Zone. In this area the kids were able to bounce off a trampoline into a pit filled with foam blocks.

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All the kids LOVED this school outing. The little boys hated to leave when it was over. The end result of an afternoon at Sky Zone…satisfied, sore, sleepy kids.

Thank you Sky Zone. ūüôā