Monthly Archives: January 2015

Backseat Banter


We home school…


But sometimes, due to a series of appointments, our day consists of more “car school” than home school. Yesterday was one of those days. We had four appointments scheduled, but due to their proximity to each other (nowhere near each other) those four appointments took the majority of the day.

The night before our busy day I had all the kids pack school bags full of work to keep them busy. Grace and Rusty had especially full workloads with their school’s semester ending next week.

Thursday morning began with a 5:45 am wake up call. The kids had animal chores to do before we left. They had a new appreciation for hard-core farmers who are up before the sun, as they did their farm chores in the dark with temps hovering at 1 degree.

 Our first appointment was at 7:30 am so we had to leave the house by 6:30 am.

Our first two appointments were for Rusty and Grace with Dr. G, their orthodontist. I was grateful that they had back to back appointments and that we didn’t have to hang around all day. It was Gracie’s official last appointment. She had a final retainer check and is now done with orthodontics for good. Yea! She was a bit sad about this chapter of her life closing. She loves Dr. G and his staff. She cashed in her final “chuck bucks” and picked her finals prizes.As we waited on Rusty I looked over to see Ozzie fast asleep in the chair. I guess the pre- 6:30 wake up was just too much for him. 🙂

We were done at the office by 9:30 and drove an hour south to drop off the big kids to do school at home before we ran to our other appointments ranging from 1 to 2 hours away in a variety of directions.

As much as I hate “running” sort of days, I am grateful for them. I am grateful for doctors and dentists who keep us well. I grateful for the post-adoption support sessions and the therapist who works with my boys. I am grateful for the safe weather we had to travel in and a car with a working heater. I am grateful for time spent with my children, flexible schedules, GPS, and forgiving Pittsburgh drivers. But on “car schooling” days the thing I am probably most grateful for is “Backseat Banter.”
Backseat Banter is one of those parenting perks they don’t tell you about prior to having kids, but it is the best. I love listening in as my kids converse in a conversation that doesn’t involve me. Listening in always makes me smile and often makes me laugh. This was the stream of conversation yesterday…

Tyler: “Konnichiwa, Ozzie.”
Ozzie: “Konnichiwa, Tyler.”
Tyler: “Do you even know what you are even saying?”
Ozzie: “Yes!”
Tyler: “Prove it. What does it mean?”
Ozzie: “It is Japanese for ‘fried chicken in a pan'”
At this point I watched Tyler in the rearview mirror as he rolled his eyes in exasperation.
Tyler: “No! It is Spanish for ‘hello'”
Their argument was cut short when the song, “I can’t fight this feeling anymore,” came on the radio.
Ozzie: “Oooo…this is my jam!”
Tyler: “I love this song!”
Ozzie: “This is going to be the love song at my wedding.”
Tyler nodded approvingly: “Good choice. Ok, now you sing and I’ll dance.”

And so there we were, traveling through Pittsburgh city traffic, while my two adoption blessings sang an enthusiastic, off-key rendition of Ozzie’s jam while Tyler accompanied him with some impressive interpretive dance moves.

I love backseat banter, don’t you?! 🙂
And being a mom is pretty cool too…

Look up!


“True happiness comes only by making others happy.” – David O McKay

This Monday marked the return of books and tests after a wonderful two-week break. It also marked the beginning of having Ozzie home. Ozzie is no longer attending our local public school. He is now home with the rest of the crew being schooled at home. It was with a lot of prayer that we made this call. We knew the change would be hard for him and for the family as a whole. In a lot of ways it would have been easier to not “rock the boat” and make such a big change in the middle of the school year, but we knew this step was God’s answer to many prayers we have been sending heavenward. We know that having him home with us is the solution to a lot of “heart issues” we have been working on as a family.

It was time for him to come home.

Ozzie's first day of school

Ozzie’s first day of school

But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t with a bit of apprehension.

Step one was to figure out how to rearrange the schedule to allow for time to teach one more. We use the scheduling program, Managers of Their Homes, and have had our daily schedule set since September. As I looked at an already filled day with the other four children I wondered how I would fit in schooling for one more. But like I have witnessed in the past, if God calls you to it He will help you through it. I prayed over the schedule and watched as God performed a miracle. Like the story of the loaves and fishes I saw my time and energy and abilities multiplied to meet the needs of my son. I thought there was no way I could fit anything else in my day but my Father in Heaven showed me the blessings of tithing my time to Him. When we give him our time, when we obey His promptings, He will multiply our offering.

Our daily schedule

Our daily schedule

Our first few days of school have gone beautifully. Ozzie is an eager student and any concerns he had over being homeschooled have be alleviated. He LOVES it. And I am so grateful that is one battle I don’t have to fight. The added blessing of having him home during the day is that we have been able to foster growth in the area of sibling relationships by have blocks of time set aside during the day for one on one time with each other. Ozzie and Tyler have a block of playtime scheduled where they have to play together without the assistance of an older sibling. Even though this sounds like no big deal, it is huge for them. They are still struggling in their relationship with each other. As two little boys that have such insecurities about their place in the family they battle for my attention, my love, and the position of being “top dog.”

This week they have been playing cooperatively with their new train set. I am so pleased by the growth I’m seeing in their relationship as brothers and as friends.

Train time!

Train time!

The Christmas decorations are all finally down and put away. As sad as it is to see Christmas disappear for another year there is also a sense of relief that comes from getting back into a routine. The tree was taken down and carried out to the farm-yard for the goats to enjoy. They always enjoy their after Christmas treat of the Christmas tree and I love that after blessing our home with beauty it can then be a blessing to the animals.



On Monday we had Family Night. The focus of our lesson was on service. We spoke to the kids about service resolutions for the new year and how we can be a blessing to others in 2015. We used the World War II story of The Candy Bomber to teach our lesson and illustrate our point. We showed the following video:

and then had our own “candy drop.”

Candy Drop

Candy Drop

It was a wonderful way to combine a great history lesson with a deeper character lesson.

The kids then filled out parachute papers of their personal “service” resolutions for the new year.


We ended with a treat of pudding. The twist, however, was that their spoons were 30 inches long. The dilemma was that they could not reach their own mouths with their spoon. It was a lesson in serving others and putting others before yourself. They discovered that although their spoons didn’t work for feeding themselves, they were a perfect length to feed the person across from them. They learned one of life’s greatest lessons: that in blessing others they too were blessed.






“The happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others.” – Gordon B. Hinckley

A MESSY beginning to 2015


January 1st we woke the kids up with something fun (and messy) in the works…

For Ozzie’s adoption day my parents gifted our family with a family membership to the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. Since Toby was home for the day and rarely gets to join us for weekday field trips we decided to use our membership card and have a family outing. I went online to look at the hours that the Carnegie Science Center was open  (or if it was even open,)and discovered that not only was it open but there was special event going on that day- MessFest!

This is what I read:

MessFest 2015

“Join in on a truly MESSY way to kick off the New Year with MessFest! It’s gigantic, it’s messy, and it’s a unique tradition unlike any other! Get slimy, yucky, ooey, and gooey as you learn about totally messy science! Experience globs of oobleck, pie-eating races, finger painting, slime, and more.

Warning: You WILL get messy!

• Get your hands on globs of oobleck and gooey slime
• Turn an egg into an “egg-stranaut”…then launch it into the air
• Play with your food during the pi-eating race
• Concoct some sidewalk chalk to take home
• Create a masterpiece with finger-paint
• Discover some explosive reactions”

Well, who could say no to that?! So we packed ourselves up and headed to Pittsburgh for some “out of this world”, messy family fun.

Outside the Carnegie Science Center.

Outside the Carnegie Science Center.

When we got inside and checked in with our membership card we were give “Mess Aprons” for the kids.

Ready for some messy fun!

Ready for some messy fun!

Making sidewalk chalk.

Making sidewalk chalk.


Explosive chemical reactions.

Explosive chemical reactions.

Making bubble art...

Making bubble art…

Bubble art.

Bubble art.

Finger painting fun!

Finger painting fun!

After a messy day of fun we drove back home to get cleaned up and ready for our second stop of the day…a bowling party!

Friends from church open their bowling alley to our ward family every New Year’s Day for a bowling party. Everyone brings snacks and refreshments and laces up their bowling shoes for a night of fun.





IMG_7432 (2)IMG_7421


A fun start to 2015!

The end of 2014…


After a few lazy post-Christmas days it was time for another celebration. This time we celebrated the birth of a new year. As I prepared to leave and spend the evening with dear friends, I had the chance to reflect on the passing year. What a year it was. It was filled with such blessings and happy memories but also it was a year of learning and growth for our family as a whole. It was a year that stretched us, and tried us, and also blessed us. Our family grew through adoption, there were miracles of healing, surgeries, family vacations, school struggles and triumphs. As I look back on the last 12 months I finally understand why I feel a bit worn down. We did 5 years of living in 1 year!

This was the night to celebrate our year. To reflect and ponder on the past and look with eagerness and hope toward the future. It was a time to give thanks, and count blessings, and celebrate with friends.

We were invited to the Hudak’s home. We have celebrated New Year’s Eve with them for the past few years and it always proves to be a fun time!

There was an abundance of appetizers and treats to feast on before those pesky resolutions kick in. 😉


The evening began with greetings and salutations. Food was served and the grown-ups enjoyed visiting while the kids ran off to entertain themselves. At 9:00 pm the fun began.


Last year we planned activities for the evening that were written out and placed in filled balloons. The kids would pop the balloons every 30 minutes to find out the next planned activity. They enjoyed it so much that they requested we do it again this year. So activities were planned and written out, balloons were blown up, and at 9:00 the first balloon was popped.


9:00 pm- We worked on a trivia sheet where we had to match each language’s “Happy New Year” to the country of origin. Yes it was a hard as it looks!


9:30 pm-  The next game was a “Minute to Win It” game in which we had to keep 3 balloons in the air for one minute. You wouldn’t think this would be hard but it was surprisingly challenging. Rusty came the closest at 56 seconds.

Gracie chasing a balloon...

Gracie chasing a balloon…


Molly giving chase as well... :)

Molly giving chase as well… 🙂

10:00 pm- The M & M game! This was a dice game that involved very long straws, a bowl of peanut butter M & Ms, and a whole lot of competitiveness.

The kids took turns rolling dice and trying to get a double. If you rolled a double then you got to use the straw and lung power to move M & Ms from the big bowl to your individual bowl. It was a game that combined luck and strategy.


Olivia's turn.

Olivia’s turn.

Rusty was our winner and he even (reluctantly) shared his winnings with his Dad.

Rusty was our winner and he even (reluctantly) shared his winnings with his Dad.

10:30- Heads Up!


Guess, Gracie!

“It’s kind of like a alligator…”

11:00 pm- Treat time! Woody made everyone homemade frozen Butterbeer. It was delicious!!

Here is the recipe they used:

In a blender mix…

1 quart of vanilla ice cream

1/4 c. butterscotch syrup

32 oz crème soda

1/2 c. ice

Top with whipped crème.



11:30 pm- The “Minute to win it” cup game.

Boys vs girls…

The girls won. 🙂

Rusty and Tyler working together.

Rusty and Tyler working together.

The winning move!

The winning move!

12:00 am- Time to watch the ball drop and toast in the New Year with sparkling grape juice.


5 minutes to go!

Happy New Year!


Welcome 2015!