Monthly Archives: August 2017

A “Super” Saturday

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This was the theme of our adoption agency’s annual family picnic.

We adopted both our sons through Bethany Christian Service. Every year Bethany hosts a picnic for their families. Families who are waiting for a placement, birth mothers who have placed an infant, families who have opened their home to children through foster care, domestic infant adoption, international adoption or foster to adopt, all come together to celebrate the connecting thread that joins us all together: the blessing of adoption.

The picnic is held at Camp Kon-O-Kwee and always proves to be a lot of fun.

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This year the theme of the picnic was superheroes.

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It was a fitting theme given the fact that most of the world’s most famous super heroes were all adopted. This was highlighted with signs on all the tables talking about various superheroes and their connection to adoption.

What a wonderful way to celebrate a unique connection that all these children share!

The picnic began with lunch. Families were all asked to bring a side or a dessert to share, while Bethany  provided hamburgers and hot dogs from the grill, Chick-fil-a nuggets, and drinks. We opened with prayer and some words from our hosts and then lunch began…and it was delicious!

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Following lunch there were a variety of fun activities available for the families to enjoy.

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They had craft stations where the kids could get their face painted, paint superhero pictures, and make their own superhero mask.

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There were also activities offered at the camp for the Bethany families. One of the highlights for my kids each year is the “Trail of Courage” obstacle course…a fitting name for families embarking on the uncertain path of adoption.

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The kids loved climbing, leaping, crawling, and swinging their way through the various challenges this 1 mile trail held.

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The second highlight of the day was the canoeing and kayaking offered at Camp Kon-o-Kwee. This activity is always the favorite activity at Girls’ Camp every summer, so Grace and Molly were excited to get to go out on the water again.

Rusty and Tyler were equally excited.

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This was Tyler’s first time taking a kayak out on his own, but he handled his boat beautifully.

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The kids had a lot of fun exploring the river together.

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All too soon it was time to leave. Molly had work at 3:00 pm so we had to leave the picnic a couple hours early, but we had a lot of fun while we were there and were glad we made the effort to attend.

Life has been extra challenging lately and I didn’t know if I had it in me to attend this year, especially without Toby. I didn’t know if I had it in me to put on a happy face, and sing the praises of our adoption journey when we are all still so raw and hurting from the last few months, but I didn’t have to. You see, everyone that was there is traveling a similar road. Their challenges may be different and their adoption journey may not look the same as ours but we are all on a mission to help, heal, and love through the tough stuff. As a group we recognize that with the joyful moments of adoption come struggles. Adoption is born out of heartache so how can heartache not be part of the journey? But we recognize that commitment trumps emotions, and God’s power trumps any trial. We gather as adopted families not to celebrate our “happily ever after” but to celebrate the ongoing story of love, commitment, and the daily heroics of those who keep fighting for good over evil.

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Perhaps that is what a superhero really is. It isn’t about the cape, or the mask, or leaping tall buildings.

Perhaps it is simply waking each day with the determination to keep showing up,

to keep trying,

and to keep fighting for our child and for our families.

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Star Gazing

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Last Friday we enjoyed a fun get together at a friend’s home for some visiting, S’mores and star gazing. At co-op last year the third grade class studied constellations and made tentative plans to get together over the summer to do a little star gazing under the night sky. They graciously decided to open it up to our whole co-op group and it evolved from a science lesson into a full blown party as we gathered at the McCready’s for some long overdue “friend time.”

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It was a perfect night. The sky was clear enough that the kids could take advantage of the telescope brought by the Stone family to get an up-close view of the moon and the stars. It was just cool enough to make sitting around the bonfire cozy and enjoyable.

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The kids loved getting to run and play and catch up with their friends.

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It was especially a treat for Grace, Olivia, and Chessa who were able to get a good visit in before Chessa leaves to study abroad in England for a semester.

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One of the biggest hits of the evening were the critters. The kids loved loving on the goats, horse, dog and kittens that make their home on the farm.

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We also brought Tyler new “shocking” game to the party. The night air was punctured with squeals of surprise as unsuspecting players received an electric shock as a consequence for slow reflexes.

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It was a lovely evening…so nice to sit and catch up with friends and enjoy a pleasant summer night before autumn arrives.

Happy Birthday, Tyler!

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Last Wednesday marked the first day of the 2017/2018 school year for my kiddos, but it also was significant in that it was a certain little boy’s birthday!

There are traditions in our family that come with it being your birthday. One of which is a day off of school if your birthday falls on a school day. This year the first day of school happened to also be Tyler’s birthday so he got to begin the new school year a day later. Instead of doing school he chose to go to work with Dad.

The day began with us waking Tyler up early with the traditional cupcake and birthday song.

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He then prepared to go to work with Daddy. He had a date that day that he was looking forward to. Mimi Joy invited him out for a birthday lunch and a shopping trip to pick out his birthday gift. Since Toby is currently working at Joy’s house it all worked out perfectly. Tyler got his day with Dad and also his birthday date with Mimi… and I got 8 hours with just the big kids.

It really was a gift for me as well.

For the first time in a long time I didn’t have to actively parent. I was able to get some tasks done and prepare for the upcoming school year with no interruptions. The house was so still and silent with Molly and Rusty anxiously engaged in their studies and everyone else out of the house.

It gave me the opportunity to just be.

To hear myself think.

To be creative.

To hear the whisperings of the Spirit…

all of which have been a struggle amid the escalation that has become the new “normal” in our home.

For the first time in months I felt myself exhale. Tyler was having a wonderful birthday with Mimi Joy and Daddy, Ozzie was in a safe place, and I could just focus on the big kids and my own needs. It was a God-orchestrated respite…one that would prove to be all the more essential when hit with new trials in the days that followed.

While Tyler was away I was able to prepared for his celebration that evening. We were blessed that both girls would be able to be home for Tyler’s birthday. No one had work…a rare occurrence nowadays…so we were able to plan for a family celebration.

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Having just seen “The Emoji Movie,” Tyler requested an Emoji themed birthday celebration.

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Being an 11 year old boy with a love for inappropriately funny bathroom humor, we indulged him with poop emoji cupcakes.

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He was thrilled, so the lowering of all my parenting standards was worth it.

Tyler’s request for his birthday was that we all go to an arcade and play games together. This activity combines all the things Tyler loves most: games, competition, and time with family. We decided that since Toby was already working in Cranberry, we would meet up at Fun Fore All. I went online and found coupons for $5.00 of free tokens with the purchase of $10.00 and printed them out.

We met up with Toby and Tyler in Cranberry and had a fun evening of playing arcade games.

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Then we returned home for the birthday celebration.

The kids all had gifts they had purchased/recycled for Tyler. Each were excited with the gift they found and were eager to give their gift to Tyler.

Rusty gave Tyler some Minecraft figurines and a yoga ball:

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Molly gave Tyler a “Just Dance” Wii game:

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And Grace bought Tyler a game that she played at a recent Young Men/ Young Women activity called, “Lightning Reaction Reloaded.”

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In this game each player is racing other players to have the fastest reflexes. Four players each take hold of game handle and watch as the light in the middle of the game board blinks red, all while playing spooky music. When the light turns green you must press the button on your handle as fast as you can, trying not to be the last one to click your button. If you are the last player to click in then an electric current passes through your handle giving you a shock.

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It is one of those games that cause my blood pressure to rise as I am overcome with anxious anticipation while playing, but for Tyler it is everything he thrives with: competition, high stakes, elevated adrenaline, and quick reflexes.

The game was a hit!

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Tyler’s gift from Mom and Dad was the one item on his birthday wish list: light up shoes.

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He has been asking for light up shoes for a year and was thrilled when he received them for his birthday.

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We ended our celebration with poop emoji cupcakes.

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Happy birthday, Tyler! We love you bunches!!

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God will Heal what is Broken

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We went straight from the solar eclipse party to the Emergency Room. Since Ozzie’s arrival home from DAS a week ago he has been escalated and unable to regulate. In his heightened state we have been playing Russian Roulette with everyone’s safety, trying to manage the depression and aggression, in hopes of keeping him home where he belongs. Unfortunately his unwillingness to use any coping skills to self regulate has put everyone at risk.

Emotions were already running high. Everyone’s nerves were frayed. And Ozzie was just escalating more as we travelled home from the party. In anger he unbuckled and tried to jump out of the van as we flew down the highway. When he wasn’t allowed to harm/kill himself he took his anger out on the other people in the van. It quickly became apparent that no one was safe, especially Ozzie. A call to the crisis team quickly confirmed my suspicion that we were in for another long night at the ER for a psych evaluation.

Rusty was left home with Tyler who was in shut down mode after the escalation in the car. Grace was at her first college class and Molly was at work. It is in moments like these that I wish there were multiples of me so that I could meet everyone’s needs, but instead we triage, focusing on the child most at risk…most in need. Which was Ozzie.

The next eight hours were spent getting Ozzie evaluated and admitted to a children’s mental health facility where he will spend the next 7 days as we work with his treatment team to decide what long term care we need to explore. Ozzie has been spiraling downward for the last 8 months. My heart is breaking and my soul is weary. We are fighting like mad for Ozzie, wanting only health, happiness, and healing for our son. Unfortunately the demons of his past are fighting just as hard. We are at war with Ozzie’s past. The trauma and abuse he suffered as a small boy at the hands of his biological parents will not loosen their grip on my boy. He is haunted by the memories, the fears, and the injustice of what happened and he can’t seem to break free despite all the therapeutic tools we have armed him with.

He is broken.

He is crying out for help.

He is losing hope and giving in to the darkness that whispers within.

He is a child in crisis and we are all feeling hopeless and helpless.

We are not sure what the next few weeks or months will bring but we do recognize that it is time to consider more intensive therapy. Despite all we are doing daily between family based therapy, trauma/RAD therapy, and medication management, Ozzie needs more.

We are fighting for his life.

And we are not going to give up on our son.

God’s light will permeate the darkness of Ozzie’s past and we will help him see that he is worth fighting for.

Please pray for our family as we search for the help Ozzie needs. We are a family in crisis and need some prayer warriors on the battlefield with us as we battle Satan’s attempts to destroy our son and our family.

Thank you for loving us and supporting us as we journey through this dark season.

And thank you for loving our son.

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Solar Eclipse 2017

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The last time I witnessed a partial solar eclipse was in elementary school. I remember sitting on the black top outside the cafeteria with 100 other cross-legged students staring into our cardboard boxes. It was a big deal. The hype leading up to it was focused primarily on the rarity of such an event and the great danger of glancing upward without our cardboard shield to keep us safe. Our teacher made it very clear that our eye balls would melt into puddles of goo and run down our cheeks if we dared look into the face of God.

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The hype leading up to this solar eclipse, decades later, was 100 times greater, due in large part to the inclusion of the entire nation in this natural phenomenon, but also because we are a nation of people more connected and better informed by the information super highway.

When we first heard hype of this upcoming event we threw around the idea of traveling 8 hours south to the path of totality. Here in Pittsburgh we were in line to witness 80% coverage of the sun as the moon crossed its path, but the opportunity to experience 100% coverage for those few minutes when the sun would be covered by the moon, and day would turn to night, was so tempting.

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Unfortunately, despite our efforts to make it work there were just too many conflicts (like work schedules and Gracie’s first day of college classes) that made it unfeasible. Later we received witness of God’s hand in those obstacles when events occurred that made us grateful we were close to home.) I was placated by the knowledge that we can have a do-over in 7 years when our area of the country will experience another solar eclipse, with the path of totality only 1 ½ hours away from where we live.

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All was not lost, however. There was an awesome Plan B in the works when Tyler (and family) were invited to his friend, Tiernan’s, solar eclipse themed birthday party. It was an awesome way to celebrate Tiernan and enjoy the eclipse with friends.

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The Stone family went all out in embracing the eclipse theme.

I love a good party theme!

There were eclipse themed snacks like Sun Chips. Eclipse themed drinks like Sunny D and Capri Sun. Even the treat bags were themed.

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The eclipse lasted for a couple hours but peaked with its maximum coverage at 2:35 pm. In the time leading up to 2:35 the kids enjoyed all the fun to be had at their home.

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There were animals to love,

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A pool to cool off in,

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And lots of kids to play with.

We didn’t see Tyler almost the entire party, as he and all the other little boys were involved in an epic Nerf gun battle.

The other kids enjoyed playing and spending time with their co-op friends.

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As the peak of the eclipse neared the kids were all called over and everyone put on their solar shades and got into position for the show.

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And what a show it was.

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What an amazing site!

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My 39-year-old self had much greater appreciation for what I was witnessing then my 9-year-old self did when I was watching it with a cardboard box on my head.

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It was so cool, not only in that moment but also in the aftermath, as friends from one side of the country to the other all began sharing their photos of the event. The uplifting posts and beautiful reflections on this awe-inspiring event that were posted on social media in the days following the eclipse were a welcome diversion from the ugliness of this past year.

Our celebration concluded with pizza and cupcakes.

Even the cupcakes (made by the talented Olivia Hudak) were reflective of the party theme with sun cupcakes and moon cupcakes to pick from.

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It was an awe-inspiring event and an “out of this world” birthday party!

School is back in Session

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What a summer it has been!

As I look back on my own blogs…the recordings of all that transpired over the last 3 months… I am shocked at all the living that happened in such a short time. Our summer was filled to the brim with graduation, girls’ camp, multiple Boy Scout camps, Trek, tutoring, a wedding, and a whole lot of travel.

It has been a summer of extremes with many high highs and some hard low lows. But it has been a summer full of blessings as we have worked to get services in place for both little boys, all while making time to create some fun memories amid the chaos.

Now we are on the cusp of school beginning again. You can tell it has been a well lived summer by everyone’s acceptance and even eager anticipation of the return of school and schedules. We had a lot of fun playing this summer but we are all ready for routine.

This school year promises to be unlike any in the past as we adjust to Grace starting college and our schedule being filled with even more services and support than last year. This is a blessing. I am grateful for the access and availability of good programs to help meet my boys’ needs, but I’m still not sure how it is all going to mesh together. There will be an absurd amount of moving parts in this year’s schedule. Tyler will have two different reading tutoring sessions twice a week, both an hour away which means we will be gone from 3:30- 7:30 every Tuesday and Thursday. Both boys will continue with trauma therapy every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 10:30-12:30. In addition Ozzie is now also receiving extra therapeutic support in the form of family based therapy in which two therapist come out to the house three days a week. Add to all of that occupational therapy for Tyler, co-op on Wednesdays, church activities, piano lessons, equine therapy for the two boys, and the girls’ work schedules (Grace has now picked up another job of babysitting three days a week from 5:30 am- 8:00 am) and I’m not sure how it will all come together.  I am trusting that the gracious God who delivered these services and support to our family will also align the moving parts into a seamless schedule.

Sunday night was family night. Now that Grace has a Monday night class and Molly will be working regularly on Monday nights, we have moved family night to Sunday evenings…a time that is reserved for family. This week rather than a typical lesson, we had our annual back to school dinner.

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While everyone was laying down for Sunday naps I snuck into the dinning room to decorate the table for our dinner and lesson. I had fun tapping into my creative juices and making the table look festive with a back-to-school theme.

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For dinner I prepared our traditional Sunday meal of spaghetti with meat sauce and Caesar salad.

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The kids sat down at the table and as we ate we played a school themed trivia game to test everyone’s recall after a hiatus away from school. The game is geared more to Tyler’s age group, allowing him and Ozzie an equal shot of answering the questions as the big kids.

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After dinner we cleared away plates to prepare for the lesson part of the evening. Every year as part of our back-to-school dinner Toby and I prayerfully select a quote or a scripture to build our focus around for the upcoming school year. This year we chose the following quote by Gordon B. Hinckley:

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As we shared it with the kids we talked about the truth of that quote. It isn’t the big, life-changing moments that build our life, but rather the simple and small choices we make daily.

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This led into my object lesson. We began by having everyone share something they felt they did successfully the previous school year and then share an area they would like to improve in this upcoming school year. We asked them to envision what they would like this school year to look like and then discussed what small, simple, daily decisions they needed to make to achieve that larger vision.

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Each one of the kids were given 3 Legos and asked what three goals they wanted to set for themselves that would be the building blocks for their structure of success. They wrote their goals on the Lego bricks and now will be able to use them as a visual reminder of the daily choices they are striving for this school year.

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We then completed the same exercise with a tower of 5 bricks, which will serve as the family’s goals for the year. We asked the kids what building blocks were most important for a happy, healthy home life and they came up with these 5 areas of focus. This tower of goals will sit on the window ledge in the kitchen and serve as a reminder of the choices we need to be making daily.

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Then it was time for everyone’s back to school goody bags.

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This year I went school shopping on my own and put together pencil pockets full of back to school supplies that were reflective of each child. Everyone was thrilled with their new supplies.

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Is there anything better than new pencils and empty notebooks?!

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The night ended with lemon meringue pie, Toby’s choice for the family night treat, and back to school blessings.

This year we will have a college freshman:

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A 11th grader:

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A 10th grader:

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A 7th grader:

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and a 5th grader:

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Here’s to a happy, healthy, productive, sane school year!

Let the learning begin!

Let’s go to the movies

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We always begin the summer with a bucket list of ideas that we’d like to do over the summer months. There is thrilling anticipation at the thought of 3 empty months ahead of us and the possibilities of how to fill those months seem endless. The summer holiday always begins with a family meeting in which we make a list of how we would like to fill those summer months. There are some activities that remain on the list year after year…activities that have become summer traditions. One of those activities is going to see a drive-in movie.

While drive-in theatres seem to be more and more obsolete with each passing year we are blessed to have a few within an hour’s drive from our home. The one we frequent most often is Dependable Drive-in, located in Moon Township near the Pittsburgh airport.

There is something so iconically summertime about a drive-in movie. It isn’t just about the movie. It is also about the ambiance…the lawn chairs, the smell of funnel cakes, the blinking of fireflies and the festive atmosphere of watching a movie under the stars.

We have been so busy globetrotting the summer away that we haven’t had time for some of the local activities we indulge in every summer. Monday night offered the rare phenomenon of nobody working the evening shift at Philly Pretzel Factory  so we made a date for the drive-in.

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The “glasses brigade!” Everyone packed their glasses to better see the screen.

The following morning Rusty was having his wisdom teeth removed so it also afforded him the opportunity for some snack food indulgences that he would not be able to partake in after his surgery.

We picked up Little Caesar pizzas on our way down to Pittsburgh and had a picnic dinner at the drive-in.

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In addition to the fun atmosphere found at the drive-in we also are big fans of the price. For the same cost of a traditional movie guests get two movies, back to back.

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We were there to see Nut Job 2 and The Emoji Movie.

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We waited for the sky to darken enough for the first movie to begin and while we waited we were treated to a spectacular sunset.

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It was beautiful!

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Soon the movie screen came to life. The show began with the national anthem, one of my favorite parts of the experience. It is so neat to see everyone rise up from their blankets and lawn chairs and join voices as we sing our national anthem.

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Then the first movie began. It was The Nut Job 2, and while there were a few funny parts we found it to be less than stellar. The makers were definitely pushing it, trying to get a sequel out of an already played out storyline. We all were struggling to stay engaged through that one. Ozzie didn’t even make it through. He crawled into the van with his blanket and went to sleep.

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After a 15 minute intermission around 11:00 pm,  The Emoji Movie began. This was the one Tyler desperately wanted to see (and the movie the rest of us were dreading.) Boy, were we surprised when we found it far more entertaining than The Nut Job 2. It was a very clever and funny movie. I was shocked at how good it was. I did not see that coming.

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Our family night at the movies wrapped up around 12:30 am. When we got home it was straight to bed. Toby had work in the morning and Rusty had surgery scheduled. It was a late night but a fun one. I’m so glad the stars aligned and allowed us the opportunity for our annual summer night at the movies!

A little less WISE

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Summer is the season we tend to tackle projects that are harder to addresses during the busier school year. In addition to making time for trips and playing, summer also is filled with house projects, kid training, and appointments…things that are harder to fit in when our schedule is packed with school work and activities.

This summer we seemed to have even more medical appointments, as I hustled to knock out as many yearly appointments as I could to lighten my load once school began.

One of the appointments that was on my “to do” list was a trip to the Oral Surgeon to have Grace and Rusty’s wisdom teeth checked. After the investment we put into their smiles we didn’t want them to lose their pretty, straight smiles because of some rogue wisdom teeth that arrive uninvited.

Last month I set up an appointment at Dr. Ban’s office to have them checked and sure enough their wisdom teeth were all lined up and on the brink of making an appearance so we set up the appointment to get them removed before school started. Grace had three teeth that needed pulled and Rusty had all four.

Our initial plan was to have them get them out the same day and recover together but that plan fell through when we realized that Rusty was going to be out of town on a white water rafting adventure with his Boy Scout troop on the day Grace was scheduled to have her wisdom teeth removed, so we scheduled his surgery for a few days later. It worked out well. Grace had reign of the couch and control of the remote for four days and then handed the torch over to Rusty on day five for his recovery.

Gracie’s appointment was scheduled for Thursday morning. We woke and followed all the surgical instructions (no make-up, no nail polish, no food, no flip flops, etc.) and prepared to leave. Before we took off I gave Grace her recovery basket. I made one up for her and Rusty. They were filled with soft food and silly games and activities to keep them occupied during their time on the couch.

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The procedure was surprisingly quick and painless.

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Dr. Ban put Grace into a twilight sleep state which meant she was awake for the procedure but groggy. After the surgery she had no memory of the procedure and was out of it the entire trip home. She was very funny to listen to as she proceeded to chat away through the layers of gauze that filled her mouth. I found it interesting that she quickly reverted to sign language when we couldn’t understand what she was saying. Unfortunately I can’t sign so it didn’t help with our communication much. 🙂

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On the way home we passed a pet store which prompted her to make a convincing argument as to why we needed to stop and buy 4 dogs. Rusty and I enjoyed a good laugh at her expense. She was quite comical.

Grace ended up spending a few days on the couch.

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She slept most of the first day, had the worst pain on day 2, and then swelled up like a little chipmunk on day 3. By the time Rusty returned home he had missed most of Gracie’s recovery, so he was a bit in the dark as to what to expect at his surgery the following Tuesday.

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Rusty, too, had an early morning appointment. He woke feeling anxious so it was good we were getting it over with first thing rather than torturing him with anticipation all day long.

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We arrived and they took him straight back.

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30 minutes later they were loading him into the van for the drive home. It was funny to see how differently Rusty and Grace reacted to the anesthesia. As chatty as Grace was, Rusty was equally silent. Molly had tagged along to help transport Rusty and was secretly hoping for a show on the ride home but was sorely disappointed. The effect of laughing gas on Rusty was anticlimactic and he was silent as can be the entire trip home. Perhaps the medication affects patients by enhancing their natural tendencies…thus making Grace all the more chatty and Rusty all the more silent.

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We arrived home and Rusty took his place on the couch that Gracie vacated the day before.

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He too experienced the most pain on day 2 and the most swelling on day 3 but none of his symptoms seemed as extreme as Gracie’s. He bounced back easily and within a day seemed like his old self.

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Between Grace and Rusty they are down 7 wisdom teeth.

Are they any less wise?

Only time will tell!

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Catch a Falling Star

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Every August we are treated to a spectacular light show here at Patchwork Farm with the annual occurrence of the Perseid meteor shower.

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“The Perseid meteor shower, one of the brighter meteor showers of the year, occurs every year between July 17 and August 24. The shower tends to peak around August 9-13.

Made of tiny space debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle, the Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus. This is because the direction, or radiant, from which the shower seems to come in the sky lies in the same direction as the constellation Perseus, which can be found in the north-eastern part of the sky.

While the skies are lit up several times a year by other meteoroid showers, the Perseids are widely sought after by astronomers and stargazers. This is because, at its peak, one can see 60 to 100 meteors in an hour from a dark place.”

Saturday night was marked as the best night for viewing the meteor showers, with 80 meteors an hour expected that night, so we made plans to do a little star gazing.

We weren’t sure how clearly our view of the nighttime show would be given the fullness of the moon, but we went out before the moon made its appearance and were treated to a magical sight.

We headed out to the yard at 10:00 pm with air mattresses and blankets, ready to get comfortable as we waited for falling stars.

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It was a perfect night for star gazing.

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The sky was crystal clear without a cloud to be seen.

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The evening temperature was just cool enough to make you want to snuggle under a blanket without being too cold to enjoy the experience.

There under the darkened sky we lay still and waited.

It was so pleasant to just be.

It was so nice to be still and enjoy the company of family and fireflies.

Oh, what a show it was.

Streaks of light shot across the sky one after the other.

It was simply magical.

What a perfect summer evening.

Travis and Krista are hitched!

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(It has now been two weeks since our trip to Texas to witness the wedding of my brother to his beautiful bride, Krista. Here are photos of the special day.)

The wedding was magical.

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 There is no other word for it.

 It was so perfectly reflective of the bride, the groom, and the sweet love they share.

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Tucked away in the rolling greenery of Texas hill country, a little white chapel became the place where two lives were joined together.

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Surrounded by family and dear friends, the couple committed their lives to each other before God.

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The bride was stunning.

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The groom, happy and handsome.

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The family, ecstatically joyful for the new couple.

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The words spoken by the bride’s father were touching,

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And the smiles exchanges over the rings, endearing.

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Then there was the kiss…

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The first one as bride and groom.

My heart grew three sizes as I watched my brother walk hand and hand with his bride down the aisle.

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My joy for them was overwhelming.

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I’ve loved Travis my whole life,

But now I find myself filled with an equal love for his bride.

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She brings out the very best in Travis,

As he does her.

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A love so perfectly matched that it can only have been orchestrated by a loving God.

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What joy we all felt for the happy couple!

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The reception was held in the reception hall behind the church,

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Decorated with mementos of the bride, the mismatched centerpieces were nothing short of charming.

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The most beautiful décor, however, were the friends and family filling the seats around the tables.

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It was an intimate and lovely celebration of the bride and groom’s matrimony.

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There was accordion music,

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A beautiful musical number by the father of the bride,

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And dancing.

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The children enjoyed playing outside,

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While the adults mingled inside.

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The joining of two families was beautifully seamless, as though we have all been connected forever.

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Family came from far and wide to celebrate Travis and Krista.

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From our side alone we have family from Pittsburgh, Ohio, Michigan, Oregon, Utah, Florida, Boston, and Alaska.

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Then there was the traditional cutting of the wedding cake…

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The most beautiful wedding cake I have ever seen!!

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The day was holy.

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We are over the moon happy for Travis and Krista.

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Our hearts are full.

How blessed we are!