Monthly Archives: April 2014

This is the house that Rock built


Tuesday morning began early…4:00 am to be exact…as we prepared for our field trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. The field trip was being offered through Gracie’s cyber school and last month she asked if we could go. Although we attend many outings sponsored by the kids’ schools we have never gone one of Gracie’s school trips simply because most are on the eastern side of Pennsylvania where the school is located. When we saw that a trip was planned for western PA we decided to sign up.

The Rock and Roll hall of fame is about two hours from our house¬†(we sit on the PA/Ohio border) but due to the school’s policy of families not being allowed to drive themselves to outings we had to load up the car at 4:30 am and drive 1 1/2 hours east to catch a bus that would take us west, back past our home. ūüôā Although it was nonsensical I tried to look at it as an adventure for the kids. They were excited about riding on the bus. Rusty later told me that the bus ride was his favorite part of the field¬†trip¬†SO I guess that made up for the 3 extra hours of unnecessary driving. ūüôā

We arrive at the hotel.

We arrive at the hotel.

We arrived at the hotel where we were meeting up with Gracie’s teachers and other school families. At 6:00 am and we filed onto the bus. It was a¬†beautiful bus. It wasn’t¬†the “school bus” ride I expected. The seats reclined, there were cup holders for drinks as well as TV screens for watching movies. After loading the bus the teachers handed out bottles of water and breakfast bars for us to enjoy¬†while we watched a documentary that the teachers filmed on the history of Rock and Roll. The time flew as we watched the show and enjoyed our treats and before we knew it we were in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ready to go...

Ready to go…

As we rode through Cleveland, Ohio¬†Gracie pointed out the theatre we were at only a year ago to watch the R5 concert. It was then I was very grateful to be on a bus. I remember the nightmare of¬†trying to navigate¬†Cleveland. ūüôā

For the field trip everyone received t-shirts to wear with the school logo in honor of the two big end of the year field trips: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the west and Baltimore Aquarium out east.


After going over the schedule for the day we were set free to explore on our own.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

It was an amazing museum and even though it wasn’t a place I probably would have visited on my own, we had a lot of fun and learned a lot.


“Music to me is like breathing- I don’t get tired of breathing, I don’t get tired of music.” – Ray Charles




“Music is the soundtrack of your life” – Dick Clark


“To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable” – Ludwig Van Beethoven

Gracie's enjoyed practicing her piano pieces at the "play me" piano in the lobby.

Gracie enjoyed practicing her piano pieces at the “play me” piano in the lobby.


Molly's favorite song on the jukebox..."Good Golly Miss Molly." :)

Molly’s favorite song on the jukebox…”Good Golly Miss Molly.” ūüôā



“A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” – Leopold Stokowski


Gracie’s favorite part of the museum was the signature wall of Hall of Fame inductees. It was neat comparing the different artists’ signatures.


“Sometimes it is not the song that makes you emotional. It’s the people and things that come to mind when you hear it.”

It was a beautiful day of traveling down memory lane to the songs of my past as well as a creating new memories with my three oldest kids to enjoy in the future.


Silly Molly

Tennis Love


“LOVE means nothing in tennis but in life it is EVERYTHING!”

On Monday night we decided that for our family activity we would have a picnic dinner and head to the tennis courts for some fun. It was a beautiful day on Monday. The kids were off school and took advantage of the summer temperatures by putting on their swimsuits and laying out in the yard. When I peeked outside they looked like little tin soldiers lined up, belly down, on the sidewalk, soaking up the rays. We decided we wanted to do something outdoors for family night so Tyler suggested tennis. We don’t play tennis but a few months ago while shopping with my mom and sister I came across¬†six old wooden rackets at a consignment shop that were priced $1.00 each. They were so charming to look at I decided to buy them and use them for decoration in my front hallway. Since then Tyler has been asking when we are going to use them to play a game. I told him we couldn’t play without tennis balls so the¬†last time he was out shopping with Toby he decided to use his allowance money¬†to buy tennis balls. Now that we had all the needed equipment¬†we had no reason to delay the inevitable humiliation of a McCleery tennis match. I packed a picnic dinner, Tyler and Ozzie grabbed the rackets and balls, and we drove to the nearby park. We were pleasantly surprised to find the courts pretty empty. We picked our teams and began playing…with little regard for rules or regulations (At one point the kids had three balls in play at once) but what we lacked in talent or technique we more than made up for in enthusiasm!

I love the look of terror on Molly's face :)

I love the look of terror on Molly’s face ūüôā

Cool moves...

Cool socks…cool moves…

"Here it comes, Daddy!"

“Here it comes, Daddy!”

Go Rusty!

Go Rusty!

Why use one racket when you can use two?

Why use one racket when you can use two?


Such elegance... such grace!

Such elegance… such grace…Uh, I mean Molly ūüėČ

"Where did that ball go??"

“Where did that ball go??”

"Houston, we have a problem.."

“Houston, we have a problem..”


Here you go...future ATP champions :)

Here you go…future ATP champions ūüôā

It was a fun evening. We laughed a lot and everyone went home tired. It was a night full of “love” and time well spent.

“In family relationships love is really spelled T*I*M*E” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Justice or Mercy?

Happy Easter from some "bunny" special!!

Happy Easter from some “bunny” special!!

Those¬†who have been walking this adoption journey with us know that part of Ozzie’s trauma therapy involves parenting classes for me in addition to therapy for him. Those who follow this blog know how incredibly beneficial those classes have been for me as a mother. *sigh*¬† At my last parenting class we addressed another parenting lesson: “The proper way to discipline.” I am not sure what Ozzie has been telling his therapist (I am not privy to that information) but it must have sparked some concern on his part because we had an impromptu lesson following Ozzie’s session.

We sat down in his office and he expressed his concern that perhaps I was being too hard on Ozzie or expecting too much and that he wanted me to try a new method of discipline. He explained to me that it is most effective in cases like Ozzie’s to just focus on one behavior at a time. ¬†He told me that I was to pick the behavior that was most destructive or caused the most problems and only focus on that behavior for the time being. He told me that I was to close my eyes to all other behaviors and only discipline the behavior we are currently working on. “So,” he went on, “Let’s say you are having a problem with Ozzie stealing. You are going to come up with a plan of rewards and consequences to address that behavior. If other behaviors crop up during this time like talking back or lying I want you to just ignore them for the time being and once Ozzie has had success in this area we will then move onto the next behavior.”

My first thought after being given this instruction was the¬† cartoon image of Ozzie throwing¬†food across the dinner table¬†as Toby and I look on with a speech bubble above our head that reads, ” This month’s focus is ‘lying’ I guess we will address¬†THIS in May.” I had never heard of anyone parenting like this before and couldn’t imagine how a parent is to cover all the basics in 18 short¬†years if the basics can only be addressed one at a¬†time. Ozzie is 10…there is NO way I can fit it all in with only 8 years to go if I’m only tackling one behavior every couple of months. I can only figure this brilliant plan was developed by someone who has never been around children, much less tried¬†raising one. I smiled my sweet “therapy appointment smile”, nodding as the doctor told me to pick one behavior and give it a try. I thought about my assignment as I drove home, wondering what one behavior I would choose to address if I could only pick one. It was like a game of ” If you were trapped on a deserted¬†island and could only¬†bring 3 things with you, what would you pick?!” Perhaps I am just too stubborn or stuck in my ways to give this new-fangled parenting¬†strategy a¬†try but to my untrained eye it seems a bit questionable. ūüôā

While I found very little merit in the doctor’s game¬†plan it did get me thinking about his observation that perhaps I am too tough on Ozzie or that I expect too much. It made me reflect and got me thinking about the balance we seek as parents between Justice and Mercy. I am a “Justice” girl by nature. I like my world cut and dry, black and white. I like to¬†be able to clearly label things in life and put them in the “good” box or the “bad” box. I like predictability and knowing that certain actions bring about certain consequences. I find security in Justice because it is sure. I am a first-born child, a rule minder, and for me the answer is easy… if you do _________ than ________ will happen. I have discovered, as a parent, that justice is important. Rules are needed, behaviors come as a result of expectations and¬† with rules and clear consequences come security and trust on the part of a child. Children need clear boundaries. Those boundaries make children feel safe, loved and secure. Justice is an important lesson for children to learn…but so is Mercy. Mercy is a harder virtue for me.

I read a quote that described Grace and Mercy like this:

“Grace is when you get the good things that you don’t deserve. Mercy is when you¬†are spared from the bad things you do deserve. God is generous with both.”

Mercy is hard for me. It isn’t as black and white as Justice¬†and the part of my personality that calls out for justice and fairness struggles with the freedom that Mercy offers. This Easter season I have been pondering my relationship with my Savior and the Mercy He offers me. I know what He has given, I know that He has removed the bonds of Justice in order to offer the freedom of Mercy and yet it seems so unfair and so unjust. I don’t deserve what He offers and yet He gives. He gives the gift of Mercy and now we are called to offer that same gift to others. Mercy when others offend. Mercy when others disappoint. Mercy when others hurt our hearts. Mercy when others fail us. Sometimes Justice is needed but so often Mercy is what is called for. Mercy for those we have yet to forgive. Mercy when our children make poor choices. Mercy when people fall short of our expectations. Mercy for ourselves when we fall short of our own expectations again and again. What a blessed gift Mercy is and yet it is often one of the hardest gifts to give. ¬†This Easter season it has been my prayer that my heart might be more open to the gift that has been offered me that I might tip the scales of Justice and offer Mercy to those who don’t deserve it because really¬†none of us deserve it…that is why it is called a gift.

This Easter was a blessed one filled with gifts of Grace and blessings of Mercy as we celebrated the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ozzie, still half asleep, as he looked through his Easter basket.

Ozzie, still half asleep, as he looked through his Easter basket.

The Easter egg hunt!

The Easter egg hunt!

Rusty... still searching.

Rusty… still searching.

All dressed up for church.

All dressed up for church.

My boys...

My boys…

My girls...

My girls…

Fun with cousins at Aunt Beth's house Easter afternoon.

Fun with cousins at Aunt Beth’s house Easter afternoon.

Waiting for the egg hunt...

Waiting for the egg hunt…



Tyler sees something...

Tyler sees something…

After the egg hunt the kids made up some fun of their own!

After the egg hunt the kids made up some fun of their own!

As I consider the gift of Mercy this Easter season I reflect on an incident that happened one evening soon after Ozzie moved in. It was a rough night with Ozzie and I finally lost it and told him “enough is enough!” He looked at me and started to cry. My heart broke as he said, ” I’m sorry but I’ve only been here a few weeks and I’m still learning.” All the anger and frustration leaked from my tensed shoulders in the form of a heart-broken¬†sigh. Once again I failed as I tried to find the balance between Justice and Mercy. As I tucked Ozzie into bed with an extra long embrace I felt the feelings of defeat and failure roll over me once again as I struggled with this thing they call mothering. Just when I was about to give in to defeat God whispered a reminder on His own, ” Remember, you have only been here a few weeks and you’re still learning.” ūüôā Perhaps that is what Mercy is all about, recognizing that we are¬†all “still ¬†learning” and cut each other and ourselves a little slack. ūüôā

“Surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don’t expect it and often feel they don’t deserve it.” – Jeffrey R. Holland

Earthworm Delight…Yum!


When you sign up for this gig they call motherhood there are challenges you anticipate. Without really knowing what you are getting into you can safely assume there will be some challenges. You acknowledge¬†that there will be sleepless nights, that potty training will be¬†tough and that the teenage years will test your patience. There are words you know will come out of your mouth…often. Words like, “Because I said so,” and ¬†“Leave your brother alone,” and ” I’m not going to tell you again.” Then there are those experiences and phrases uttered that you could in no way have ever seen coming.

As a new Mom with a day old baby I never anticipated the day when I would tell Rusty, “No swinging from the chandelier!”

¬†Or¬†say to¬†Molly, “No dipping baby Jesus in the toilet!”

As a Mom I’ve uttered a lot of phrases¬†that I never thought I would say as a mother. This Sunday I added to the list of the bizarre when I said to Ozzie, “We never, ever eat worms…Ever!”

The afternoon began beautifully. The weather was perfect for playing outside and Toby and I had one request, 30 minutes alone.  Sometimes I feel like I go days without conversing in a meaningful way with my husband. We crawl into bed every night so tired that the effort to talk exceeds the energy we have left for the day. So on Sunday we called on our two teenage girls to take the two little boys outside for 30 minutes so we could talk uninterrupted. All was going well until we heard a frantic knock on our bedroom door. I opened it to find Molly on the other side, completely worked up.

“I told him not to do it,” she said anxiously, “But he wouldn’t listen.”

“You told who not to do what?” we asked.

“Ozzie,” she replied. “He ate a worm!”

“He what??” we asked, certain there must be something lost in translation.

Molly then proceeded to explain. “Ozzie picked up an earthworm off the ground and said he was going to eat it. I told him not to but he just looked me in the eye, stuck the worm in his mouth and chewed it up!” She ended her story with a shudder.

We called Ozzie in, horrified by this news. When we asked him why he would do something like that he told us that he just wanted to know what worms tasted like. It was then I uttered one of those phrases I never expected to say as a mother…”We never, ever eat worms…Ever!”

I have found mothering to be the most humbling of experiences. Just when you think you have it together you¬†find yourself¬†scolding your 10-year-old for eating¬†worms.¬† ūüôā

In addition to unusual dietary changes around our home here are some of the activities that happened at Patchwork Farm this weekend.

On Friday Rusty had to see the oral surgeon to have two adult teeth pulled for braces. We took him to a new oral surgeon that was recommended by a friend and we were SO impressed. Rusty’s experience was¬†much better than Gracie’s was at our old oral surgeon’s office. They used laughing gas which made for an anxiety-free removal. Rusty came home on Friday afternoon. We¬†set him up on the couch with ice cream, mashed potatoes,¬†and¬†computer games to play while he rested.


¬†Saturday was a full day that began with Tyler’s first soccer game of the season. It was a perfect day for a game. Tyler’s team tied the other team in a very close, action packed game.



While Tyler played Ozzie sat in the grass playing with his trucks the entire time. It is so fun to see how different my two boys are. Tyler lives for sports and Ozzie could care less. ūüôā


After the game we drove the girls over to a community Easter party where they were hired to be the face painters… a job they love doing! In addition to face painting the community planners offered an Easter egg hunt, treats, balloon animals and a petting zoo. Our favorite animal at the petting zoo was a 6-month-old pot belly pig named Lilly. She was adorable and brought back memories of our pot belly pig, Harley, when he was that small.



In the evening Ozzie had a birthday party to attend. A boy in his class invited him to his birthday party at an indoor pool. Ozzie was so excited to be invited. “I’ve never been invited to a friend’s party before,” he said excitedly. He spent the week planning for it… what trunks to wear, what towel to take, and what gift to buy. He had a blast swimming with the boys in his class and I was so grateful¬†to the mom who invited Ozzie to join them. It was a fun night for Oz.


Saturday evening Ozzie, Tyler and I worked on a special project. We decided to send Easter gifts to their biological siblings. We wanted to do something fun and unique so we bought balls that we wrote “I hope you have a ‘ball’ this Easter” on and decorated with the boys’ drawings. We then addressed the balls and sent them just like they were through the mail with the shipping label placed right on the ball itself. I think it will be a fun surprise for their siblings to receive in the mail and a special way to let them know that Ozzie and Tyler love them and are thinking of them.

We hope you have a "ball" this Easter too! :)

We hope you have a “ball” this Easter too! ūüôā


A wish granted..


Ozzie has a wish. It is his “blow out the candle” wish, his “see a falling star” wish, his “toss a penny in the fountain” wish. If you ask him what he wants most in the world (other than a donkey to call his own) he will tell¬†you that¬†he wants to be adopted. He wants a forever home and¬†a family to call his own.

I didn’t fully realize the intensity of his desire until we were watching a show the other day that was talking about adoption. We were in the living room and the girls were watching the show, The¬†Little Couple, while Ozzie played on the floor. On the show the couple was sitting down to meet the director of an adoption agency about what they were hoping for in the adoption process. After expressing their desires the agency worker pulled a manila envelope from her bag and told the couple that she took a chance that they might be interested and brought the file of a child that needs adopted. It was at this point in the show I saw Ozzie perk up and start watching.

As he sat up taller and began focusing on the screen he said, “I wonder if it is me?!”

On the show the woman then began pulling out a photo of the child as she told them, “It is a little boy..”

At this point Ozzie was literally shaking with anticipation. “It could be me! I hope it’s me!” he said¬†as he wrung his hands in anticipation of the reveal.

At this point I don’t know who¬†was more excited, the little couple on TV or Ozzie.

The adoption worker continued, “”And he is from…”

Ozzie leaned closer to the TV.

“China,” the worker finished. “

“Oh Man!!” Ozzie shouted out with all the disappointment of someone who missed winning the lottery by one number.

When Ozzie was placed in our home he was placed here as a pre-adoptive placement which means he is a foster child that will be adopted but because of previous failed pre-adoptive placements he was told that this was just a foster home and we were just his foster parents. Those that are in charge of Ozzie’s case didn’t want him disappointed again and they weren’t sure we would “stick” so we were told that we couldn’t tell him that we were adopting him. This put us in a tough position because we already knew he was ours, the people in our life knew we were adopting Ozzie, the only one who didn’t know was the one person who most needed to know…Ozzie.

The result of that secret was a lot of uncertainty on the part of Ozzie who was falling in love with this new home and new family but lived in fear that it would be snatched away. He longed for the security of knowing that this would be his forever home and yet we weren’t allowed to give that to him. He would ask us daily if we would adopt him and when we couldn’t give him a definitive¬†yes (due to judges orders..Grrr) he would try to bargain. “If I promise to always keep my room clean will you adopt me? If I never fight with Tyler again will you adopt me?” It broke my heart to not be able to just scoop him up in my arms and say, “You are already ours. You will always be ours.”

Tuesday we had a court hearing for Ozzie. It was scheduled for 9:00 am at the City County building downtown Pittsburgh. Everyone was a little nervous going into it due to stories we had heard about this particular judge and past court hearings. Ozzie went with one wish and one agenda…to convince the judge to let him be adopted by us. When our case was finally called we went into the courtroom where Ozzie, his sister, and the lawyer sat in front of the¬†judge while Toby and I, along with the other foster mom, sat behind. The judge listened as the social workers testified. During their testimony Ozzie was scolded by the judge for talking. He wasn’t talking to anyone he was actually mumbling but because of the microphone placed in front of him all you could hear over the testimony of the workers was Ozzie’s eager plea, “Please let me get adopted, please let me get adopted.” A little boy’s wish whispered with eager longing.

A lot happened during that hearing…both good and bad… but the blessing that came from that intense 45 minutes was a wish granted. The judge told Ozzie that we would be adopting him. He told him it wouldn’t happen for many months but that didn’t matter to Ozzie. He was just overjoyed that his wish came true. As we were walking out he told us, ” You are my favorite parents I ever had. I was hoping you would adopt me and now my wish came true!” As we walked back to the car he eagerly informed anyone who walked within earshot that he was going to be adopted. As we drove home the reality of what that meant for his life hit him as he started listing the blessings, “This means I never have to move again, and I never have to pack my stuff up, and my room will be my room forever…”

As I listened to him speak the effect on me was profound. Oh, the blessings I take for granted. Things like knowing where I will be sleeping tomorrow and where I will be living next year are blessings I rarely take notice of much less give thanks for. I was humbled as I listened to Ozzie bubble over with joy.

When we arrived home Ozzie hopped out of the car, eager to share his good news with the other kids. He raced to be the first inside. As he burst through the door with his hands held high in victory stance he shouted, ” Guess who is getting a new brother??”

” You are!!”

“Aren’t we all lucky?!”

Lucky…Blessed…whatever you want to call it,¬†a wish came true today.


Happy Birthday dear Molly


Molly is now 14! On Monday we celebrated her birthday. “14” is a big birthday in our house (for the girls) because it is the birthday that they are allowed to start wearing make-up. This monumental birthday, especially coming on the heals of Gracie driving, is¬†making me all to aware of how quickly the years are passing.¬† This is a ‘even” birthday year for our family. Once Tyler has his birthday we will have a 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16-year-old in the house. ūüôā

Molly’s birthday began the way all the birthday¬†mornings¬†begin in our family…we woke her up by¬†singing “Happy Birthday” and¬† bringing her a¬†cake with a candle to blow out. The kids get to choose what they want their morning slice of birthday cake to be and then they get to¬†enjoy it for breakfast. Molly choose cheesecake. Molly also requested that she get to open her gifts before Toby left for work, which we did.


The kids had fun giving Molly her gifts. The two little boys gave her new yarn¬†to make baby hats for babies¬†in¬†the hospital. Rusty and Grace pooled their money to put together a “First dance survival kit.” Now that Molly is 14 she is allowed to go to church dances. Their survival kit was a cute purse filled with a mini mirror, lip gloss, lotion, gum, and other things. From Toby and I Molly received make-up and from my parents Molly received a gift card to Rainbow clothing store which she had the chance to spend later that day.


On a child’s birthday day I give them the day off school and the other kids usually surprise the birthday child by doing all their morning chores, which Russ and Grace did, so Molly had the morning free. While I did school with the others Molly experimented with her new make-up. After lunch Molly’s birthday celebration officially began. For her birthday she wanted to get a “make-over,” a new 14 year-old look. ūüôā She had been saving her money for months to buy some new clothes as well as searching the internet for a new hair style. She invited Grace to join her and we headed out while Rusty stayed home and¬†watched Tyler.

Our first stop was the beauty parlor where she had her hair cut. Molly before…


Molly after…


Next stop was Rainbow clothing store where she had a blast trying on outfits with Grace, her style consultant. She told us that she was looking for a whole new look. Gracie asked her what she wanted her “new look” to¬†like and Molly replied, “pink and sparkly.” Grace then asked her how that was any different¬†than her old look to which Molly revised her answer to, “pink, sparkly and fourteenish.” ūüôā


At 3:30 I gave Molly the 10 minute warning so that we could be to the bus stop in time to pick up Ozzie. She made her final choices, paid for everything, and we left. Her calculations couldn’t have been any closer. After using her gift card from Mimi and Pop Pop and the money she had saved she walked out the door with 10 pennies in her pocket. Now that is impressive shopping skills!

In the evening Molly made a request to go to a new restaurant for her birthday dinner…Hotheads. It is a burrito¬†restaurant next to Yumberries, our favorite frozen yogurt store. Hotheads is like a Mexican Subway restaurant. You pick your meal and then walk down the line “dressing” it as you go. When Ozzie got in line he requested a burrito¬†and for the meat he asked for spicy steak even after we warned him not to. Knowing it was probably too hot for him I walked with him down the remainder of the line vetoing¬†the jalapeno¬†peppers he requested¬†and the super hot sauce he wanted to top it with. It was a good thing I did because he was only able to eat 1/3 of the burrito as it was due to the heat.


While we were there the kids had fun watching the TVs that hung on the wall. I had to take this picture because it is classic Tyler and Ozzie. Ozzie is watching the weather channel while Tyler watched a ballgame. They were both thrilled that their favorite channels were on.


After dinner we walked next door for frozen yogurt. Molly frozen yogurt instead of a traditional birthday cake, although she did end up getting birthday cake flavored frozen yogurt. It was a sweet ending to a special day.


“Happy birthday, dear Molly. Happy Birthday to You!!”


Driving Miss Gracie


Saturday was one of those monumental parenting moments as I took my oldest child for her driving permit test. How can my baby be old enough to drive? How can I be old enough to have a child driving?! Where have the years gone?

Before we could go to the driver’s license center we had to go to MedExpress to get the physical part of her form filled out. We were in and out fairly quickly and she was given the “all clear” by the doctor.


We then headed over to the driver’s license center so that she could take her written test. Although Grace had been studying for the last two months and doing practice tests online she was still nervous as she waited for her number to be called.


When her number was finally called we walked up to the desk, handed over the necessary paperwork and Grace was assigned a computer to do her written test. In a matter of minutes she reemerged from behind the sectioned off partition with a smile on her face.
“I passed!” she triumphantly declared.
We then had to wait for our name to be called again so that we could get her driving log and so that we could pay her fee for the privilege of driving in Pennsylvania.
We had a wonderful government employee helping us. (He was the only one there that seemed as though he enjoyed his job.) He congratulated Grace and told her that she just had one more stop to make and then she could head out on the road. He told her that we needed to head to Wal-Mart¬†next and head down two different aisles. We waited, confused, as to what we still needed¬†to pick up. I was mentally going over my already long list of PennDOT requirements…birth certificate, physical, social security card, check, application…what did we forget??
“You still need to pick up,” he continued, “Hair dye and Tums… Trust me,¬†¬†your mom is going to need it!” ūüėČ
He then went over the rules of driving with a permit and told Grace that she could drive anytime except between the hours of 4:00pm and 6:00pm. Gracie looked puzzled, having read her driving book from cover to cover, and never having come across that restriction.

“Ok,” she said, “But why?”
“Because, ” he answered with a twinkle in his eye, “That is when I am on the road¬†driving home!” ūüôā

When we were halfway home I pulled over and Gracie climbed in behind the wheel and drove the rest of the way home. We made it home in one piece and with smiles still in place (although my knuckles were white and cramped) and I finally understood the whole “Wal-Mart shopping” suggestion. I have a feeling I’m going to age quickly over the next six months!

So, there you go… Grace is celebrating, I am praying, and we are all warning you to

“Stay off the sidewalks! Grace is driving!” ūüėČ


Raise the Jolly Rancher!


On Wednesday we had the opportunity to join all the youth from church, ages 8-18, for “dollar days” at PNC Park. It was a perfect evening for a baseball game and the weather was ideal. Everyone was excited to go, even my non-sports-loving kids, who just enjoyed the atmosphere of¬†the Pirate’s game. We drove down to Pittsburgh, parked at a local garage, and joined the rest of our group outside the ballpark. As we approached the signs for the park and the Pirate flags waving,¬†Ozzie shouted, “Raise the Jolly Rancher!”

I think he meant “Jolly Roger.” ūüôā


Before the game Ozzie asked if we could stay for the¬†entire thing. He told me that he had never seen the end of a baseball game before because he always had to leave early to beat traffic. I promised him we would stay until the end. Little did I know¬†this game¬†would end up being the longest game¬†¬†in Pirate’s history and would end up lasting almost six hours. Needless to say I broke his heart and my promise.


Even with the large amount of tickets that were ordered for the group we were still ¬†a few short so the¬† boys (Toby, Ozzie and Tyler) were able to join a friend in his company’s private box to watch the game instead of sitting with the group. It was a special treat for the two little boys who had never watched a game from anywhere but the “cheap seats” before. ūüôā

Box seats at PNC park.

Box seats at PNC park.


The girls and Rusty joined me and the rest of the youth in a different part of the ballpark to watch the Pirates play the Cubs. We took advantage of the “dollar days” hotdogs and all enjoyed a ballpark frank… yum!


The girls enjoying the game.

The girls enjoying the game.

It was a great game complete with hotdog tosses, the wave, seventh inning stretch,¬†pierogi¬†races and a streaker. I don’t think the streaker was a planned part of the entertainment but he definitely added to the excitement of the evening. It happened during the¬†pierogi¬†race, a beloved Pirate game tradition, in which potato stuffed pasta mascots race around the perimeter of the ball field¬†while everyone cheers. While the¬†pierogi mascots ¬†were racing a spectator joined¬†in the fun by leaping over the outer wall, running across the ball field, leaving a trail of clothes in his wake, while security guards tried to apprehend him. He made it to the other side with only¬†shorts still on where he was caught by security.

Perogie races

Pierogi races

The streaker :)

The streaker ūüôā

The stadium was packed and the energy was high as we went into the 9th inning. At the end of the 9th we were tied so we stayed even longer. Then it went into the 10th inning. We finally left at 11:00pm at the end of  11th inning. Ozzie was, of course, devastated.

“I’ll never see the end of a baseball game,” he lamented as we were walking out.

It wasn’t until the following day when I found out that the game went 16 innings that I felt good about our decision to leave early. In the end it all worked out…¬†the Pirates won, we had a wonderful evening with friends, and we certainly got our dollar’s worth of entertainment…

what with $1.00 hotdogs, 11 innings of fun and a streaker to boot. What a night!

Beautiful PNC Park!

Beautiful PNC Park!