Author Archives: ktmccleery

Zoo Adventures

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On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving the boys’ school break began at noon. While they spent the morning wrapping up school work for the week, I spent the morning baking and prepping for our Thanksgiving feast. At noon we all hit pause on the tasks at hand and packed lunches for our afternoon adventure.

Ozzie had be approved for a 24 hour home pass for Thanksgiving Day and the transport van was scheduled to drop him off in Pittsburgh at 5:00pm. Knowing we needed to trek down to Pittsburgh anyway, and since school wrapped up early, we decided to take advantage of free zoo days at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

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For one week a year (usually during Thanksgiving week) the Pittsburgh Zoo opens their gates to the public for free as an expression of gratitude to the people of Pittsburgh. With the cost of admission being $16.95 per adult, this is a great deal to take advantage of, especially for large families made up of primarily adults!

We arrived and found the zoo to be far less crowded than we expected. We could only assume that most people were at home preparing Thanksgiving dishes for the following day.

The weather was beautiful. It was classic November weather. The sun warmed our faces while the chill in the air nipped at our noses. The winds were just strong enough to make the fallen leaves dance at our feet.

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 We had three hours to wander the zoo before needing to pick up Ozzie so we headed out exploring the zoo and enjoying the animals.

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One of our favorite exhibits was the gorilla enclosure where a baby stole the show with her toddler-like antics.

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I could have sat and watched her play all day!

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We also really enjoyed the beaver den where a family of kits kept their parents busy with their non-stop movement. There is a reason we use the expression, “Busy as a beaver.” One of the kits went about diligently collecting leaves and piling them in the corner of the pond. Unfortunately the little beaver hadn’t figured out the importance of placing your leaf collection on land if you want them to remain where you placed them. He continued to re-chase the same leaves that kept floating away from his pile into the center of the pond.

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The otters (both sea and river varieties) are always a family favorite. They truly are the “puppies of the sea.” They were so social and animated as they interacted with the visitors watching them through the glass.

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When we meandered by the sea lions we discovered a training session in progress. We stopped to watch as three trainers worked with the three sea lions, putting them through their paces as they showed off their collection of tricks.

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The aquarium is always Tyler’s favorite stop at the zoo.

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Pittsburgh boasts an impressive aquarium for a landlocked location, and for Tyler, our resident fish lover, this always proves to be his favorite part of the zoo.

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Personally, I am a fan of the larger mammals. I love the elephants and big cats that call Pittsburgh Zoo, “home.”

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Located in the area of the zoo called Pier Town guests will find the seals, otters, and of course the polar bear!

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The polar bear is another one of our favorite animals to watch!

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At 4:30pm we began moseying our way back to the front gate so we wouldn’t be late picking up Ozzie. We had a full Thanksgiving weekend ahead of us with many fun, family adventures planned,

But I can’t think of a better way to kick off our Thanksgiving holiday than a beautiful day at the zoo with three of my favorite guys!!

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Happy Little Hosts

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After spending the weekend with the “Hostess with the Mostest”….

(AKA: my mommy,)

we concluded our Christmas season kick-off with dinner with my other favorite hosts…

The newly married Tames!

Every Sunday Grace and Zach alternate family dinners between our home and Zach’s family’s home. This week Grace and Zach invited us to their apartment for Sunday dinner. It was a treat getting a night off from cooking and a delight watching Grace in her element as lady of the house.

As a natural little hostess she went all out creating a homey and inviting environment that welcomed us at once.

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We were greeted by the smell of dinner cooking and the music of Burl Ives playing on Gracie’s record player.

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The apartment was all decorated for Christmas.

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Days earlier Grace had stopped by our house to collect her ornaments for her tree. In our family we have a Christmas tradition of gifting our children with a Christmas ornament every Christmas that represents their life that year. Sometimes the ornament is reflective of a favorite movie or book. Sometimes it is reflective of a big life event or a special vacation we enjoyed as a family. The result of this family tradition is that when our children leave to make a home of their own they have 20+ ornaments to fill the branches of their own tree and those ornaments tell the story of their childhood.

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It was fun to walk around the Tame’s tree and see Gracie’s childhood hanging on the branches. Grace and Zach have decided to carry on this family tradition in their own family and have begun recording their own life story through Christmas ornaments with the addition of a beautiful nativity ornament from their honeymoon to Mexico.

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Soon after arriving, dinner was ready. Grace and Zach prepared a yummy pasta dinner, complete with garlic bread and brownies for dessert.

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After dinner we enjoyed playing board games as a family. It was so much fun sitting around the Christmas tree, listening to the sounds of Christmas on the record player while laughing our way through round after round of Apples to Apples.

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Then Zach introduced us to The Oregon Trail card game. Like the computer game that was a staple of our middle school computer class, the goal was to make it to the end without dying of a snake bite or dysentery! It was a lot of fun and a total blast from the past for Toby and I.

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It was a fun evening with the new Mr. and Mrs. Tame in their charming little home.

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What joy it brought me to see my daughter happy and thriving in her new role as a happy little homemaker and “hostess with the mostest”…

It makes my heart glad!

Christmas Magic in Wooster

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It was like something from a Christmas card or a Hallmark movie. The streets were lit with Christmas lights as hundreds of neighbors and friends came out to celebrate the start of the Christmas season with Christmas cookies and holiday festivities in downtown Wooster.

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A few weeks prior to the event my parents invited Grace and I to come to the Homestead for the weekend. As an adult I find myself managing many roles and wearing many hats so the invitation to come and simply be a daughter was a gift and a blessed reprieve from life.

We were invited to visit on the fourth Friday of the month so as to enjoy Wooster’s light up night. Grace and I were unprepared for the delight we would find as we joined Mimi and Pop Pop for a stroll down Main Street.

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The first thing that we noticed upon our arrival downtown was the sheer number of residents that had come out for the event. The weather worked to the city’s advantage with comfortable temperatures and zero precipitation or wind marring the festivities, making it ideal for a nighttime stroll.

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The roads downtown were closed off to traffic allowing pedestrians to roam freely through the streets, enjoying the various Christmas displays in the shop windows.

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Many of the stores went all out, even creating live displays to draw visitors to their store fronts.

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Each store beckoned visitors in with the promise of hot cocoa and cookies while they did a little Christmas shopping.

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The entire event felt like a scene from The Christmas Story, and we felt as though we had stepped back in time to a decade when downtowns were vibrant and families strolled Main St. every December, soaking up the Christmas magic of holiday window displays.

Along the busy streets we also enjoyed the magic of live reindeer,

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Roaming characters,

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Live music, and horse drawn carriage rides.

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It was a magical night with Grace and my parents…

A perfect kick-off for the Christmas season.

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Thank you, Mom and Dad!

A Boys’ day out with their Favorite “Mummy!”

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Last Friday the boys and I had the opportunity to enjoy a shortened day of school and meet up with other cyber-schooled families at Carnegie Science Center for a day of fun. The outing, which was put together by Tyler’s school, offered us access to all the permanent exhibits the museum offers, in addition to the new, visiting exhibit: Mummies of the World!

Rusty and Tyler have both spent countless hours at this amazing, hands-on, Pittsburgh museum. Over the years our family has been gifted with annual memberships to the science center and we have gone on multiple homeschooling fieldtrips to visit this Pittsburgh gem, which is why I was so surprised when Braden said he had never been there before.

It was only by seeing his initial reaction to his first impression of the lobby as we walked in, that I realized he was a first time visitor. I knew he was in for a treat. It is an amazing place!

The field trip was self guided, so after checking in and getting our name tags, we were set free to explore the four levels of exhibits at our own pace.

We began on level one at the exhibit: H2O!

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After adequately exploring the mysteries of all things water related we headed to the second floor. This level is split into two areas. One section is devoted to the science and history of robotics and outer space, with a lot of fun, hands on activities.

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The second half of this floor is dedicated to a huge train table complete with dozens of running trains, towns, iconic Pittsburgh sites, moving characters and enchanting scenes. This is my favorite exhibit at the science center and I couldn’t wait to share it with Braden. He was as enchanted as we were the first time we explored this miniature world.

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Then we headed to the third floor where we learned more about the science of the human body. Here the boys were able to try different experiments that explored why the body and brain function the way they do.

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After a quick stop at the fourth floor so Braden could experience the earthquake simulator, and so we could check our the Lego building area, we headed to the traveling exhibit that was the big pull for this field trip…

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Mummies of the World!

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This exhibit was fascinating. Photography wasn’t allowed inside the exhibit but below is information and photographs from this amazing exhibit as taken from the Carnegie Science Center website.

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“Explore 125 real mummies and related artifacts from across the globe in Mummies of the World: The Exhibition, on display at Carnegie Science Center’s PPG SCIENCE PAVILION™ now through April 19, 2020. Only in Pittsburgh for a limited time, this blockbuster exhibition provides a window into the lives of ancient people from every region of the world including Europe, South America, and Ancient Egypt, offering unprecedented insights into past cultures and civilizations.

 

See real mummies and discover their stories, including:

The Vac Mummies, a mummified family from Hungary believed to have died from tuberculosis, preserved in a small church until the remains of 265 mummies were discovered by a bricklayer during repair work in 1994.

Baron Von Holz, a German nobleman found tucked away in the family crypt of 14th century castle wearing his best boots after perishing in the castle while seeking refuge from the Thirty Years’ War.

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Animal mummies including a cat, a falcon, snow rabbit, lizard, weasel, and fish, some of which were deliberately preserved to accompany royals for eternity.

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MUMAB, the first authentic replication of the 2800-year-old Egyptian mummification process, took place in 1994 using the same tools and methods as described on ancient Egyptian papyrus.


Explore four galleries that delve into the many facets of mummification:

Natural Mummification Gallery – This gallery explores several environments in which bodies can preserve as a result of the natural environment. Human and animal mummies in this gallery include those from hot, dry environments in South America, a natural sand-salt environment in Egypt, an African desert, an alpine glacier, a German castle crypt with constant airflow and an acidic peat bog from the Netherlands.

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Artificial Mummification Gallery – This gallery presents mummies that have been prepared by humans for cultural reasons. The human and animal mummies in this gallery include an elaborately bandaged cat, two adults from Ancient Egypt and several shrunken heads from South America. Various artifacts associated with the preparation of the dead in Ancient Egypt will also be included, such as beautifully painted wooden sarcophagus, ushabtis and mummy beads.

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Experimental Mummification Gallery – This gallery centers around MUMAB, a body recently mummified following the techniques used by Ancient Egyptian embalmers, with detailed scientific documentation of the process. This gallery will include not only the mummy, but several of the tools used to prepare the body, all of which were replicated from original Egyptian embalming.

Science and Medicine Gallery – This gallery explores the links between mummies, science and medicine. Aside from showing mummies prepared for medical purposes, this gallery will also include examples of the application of scientific and medical techniques for the analysis of mummies, and the important shift from autopsy to modern medical science to study mummies. The exhibits will include several anatomical mummies from the Burns Collection and church crypt mummies from Hungary (with discussion of the past and present scientific studies of tuberculosis).

It was a enjoyably educational day with three of my kiddos!

So Many Reasons to be Thankful!

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This time of year I find myself reflecting on all that I have to be grateful for. With the Thanksgiving holiday comes acknowledgement of all those blessings that we perhaps overlook or take for granted when our focus is not on thanksgiving and counting our blessings. It is perhaps a sad reality that it takes a nudge from Hallmark to get us thinking about all we take for granted. But I am grateful for a reminder to ponder on all the blessings God has bestowed upon our family.

One of those blessings is the opportunity we have had to teach our children at home for the last 14 years.

Homeschooling wasn’t a lifestyle choice we sought out. Rather, it was one that landed in our lap unexpectedly. Gracie attended a traditional “brick and mortar” public school for Kindergarten. It was a wonderful experience and we had no reason to seek out a different educational path for her (or the children that followed) and yet during the summer between her kindergarten and first grade year we began feeling prompted to look into homeschooling. This heavenly nudge scared me to death. I didn’t know the first thing about homeschooling, I had no idea where to start, and I knew everyone we love would think we were crazy, but the more I pushed off the notion of moving our child back home for school, the more God pushed back…

So, I began to research our options.

I soon discovered that the resources and support for this educational path were abundant. There were so many options and so many paths within the path of educating children at home. We finally decided to take the leap of faith. The thought that calmed my nerves was that it was only 1st grade. Surely I couldn’t mess Grace up too badly over the course of one year…It was only 1st grade.

The journey that began with such anxiety and uncertainty soon became the source of much joy and endless blessings for our children and our family as a whole. We decided to take the path of cyber schooling, choosing a cyber school that first year that would allow me to do most of the hands-on teaching but allowed for the teacher-support and accountability that made me feel more secure in this new role.

As our first year came to a close I knew that this was the right model of education for our family. We fell in love with the school-at-home lifestyle and all that it offered us as a family. A year that began with feelings of insecurity and uncertainty ended with feelings of gratitude and a sense of accomplishment. We had done it and done it well.

When we felt the nudge to begin walking this unfamiliar path we had no idea the “why” behind the prompting. We didn’t have any idea of the challenges the next few years would hold, or how this educational path would benefit our family as we navigated those challenges, until we found ourselves in the midst of them…

Challenges like Grace and Molly’s reading struggles due to Dyslexia, Rusty’s challenges with Selective Mutism, and our adoptive sons’ needs for therapeutic support and opportunity for family attachment made the home school environment ideal for meeting their unique, individual needs.

There is no way we could have anticipated those challenges when our children were small but Heavenly Father could and He set us up for success as a family by placing us on the exact path we needed to be on to support our children in their own individual journeys.

Over the last 14 years we have spent countless hours reading novels while snuggling on the couch, performing countless science experiments at the kitchen counter, working our way through endless math worksheets that got progressively harder with each passing year, traveling around the state to learn first hand about the world around us through countless field trips, and making lifelong friends through our co-op and cyber schools. We have been blessed with thousands of extra hours to parent, teach, and train our children at home while most of their peers were spending their days with teachers and school staff, a blessing that has allowed us to facilitate growth that would have been especially challenging had we traveled a more traditional path.

This pattern of education is not the right fit for every child or every family, but I am so grateful we were nudged (or shoved) onto this less traveled path, because it has made all the difference.

This year Braden was our 6th child to venture down this road. Last year he opted to attend our local public school but during the summer he came to us asking if he could be cyber schooled for his senior year. It has been a great fit for him and he is thriving. So much of that success is due to the phenomenal cyber school that has been an incredible blessing to our family for the last six years. Braden has joined Rusty at 21st Century Cyber Charter School for 12th grade. This is the same cyber school that did such a phenomenal job of preparing Grace and Molly for success in college. As I consider the blessings that have accompanied this educational journey, 21st Century is at the top of that list…

So, it was fitting that during this month of gratitude, we were able to join staff and other 21CCCS families at the Murrysville location for a Thanksgiving dinner.

The outing was split into two parts. First came the preparation. Then came the feast. The students arrived at the school building two hours prior to the scheduled feast to cook the Thanksgiving meal for their families.

We dropped off Braden and Rusty and they, along with other students, began preparing our meal.

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When we arrived two hours later the yummy smells permeated the halls.

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When Tyler, Toby and I walked in we found the students and staff enjoying a Thanksgiving trivia game.

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We joined in using our phones to compete against other players in the room.

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Then it was time to eat!

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The students had all done a great job of preparing a mouth-watering feast,

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Complete with pies for dessert. Rusty and Braden made the Oreo crème pies for the meal.

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It was a wonderful celebration of all that we have to be thankful for.

And for this momma, our school-at-home journey and 21st Century Cyber Charter School are found at the top of that list!

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We are blessed!

 

Another McCleery on the Road!

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 This week I have begun working on our Christmas cards, and as I have been looking back on 2019 photos to use in our family Christmas card I am astounded at the amount of change our family has experienced over the course of 12 months. It kind of takes my breath away. It also validates the emotional exhaustion I find myself recovering from.

This year has been a big one for our family, both as an entire unit but also for individual members.

One of my kiddos who has experienced big life changes from this time last year is Braden. Over the course of 12 months he has experienced reunification with siblings, a new home/family, an adoption, his baptism, a name change, getting his first job, turning 18 years old, cyber schooling, and most recently joining a local basketball team and getting his driver’s license…

Yes, you read that right.

Braden is now navigating the roads independently at 70 mph.

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Watch out world!!

But in all seriousness we are excited for our son who really is a natural behind the wheel. (I only wish he didn’t realize how much of a natural he was!)

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He is excited by this new found freedom, and Toby and I are thrilled to have a second driver back in the home. He and Rusty are both in that sweet season of eagerness that’s seen in new drivers when the thrill of being on the road independently means that we always have someone who is eager to run to the store for milk or the post office for stamps.

I know this season doesn’t last forever so we will take full advantage of the novelty of new licenses while we can!

Braden was scheduled to take his road test on Wednesday at 9:00am. We arrived early so as to allow him 30 minutes of last minute practice at parallel parking before his test. Parallel parking has proven to be the Achilles heel for many of our family’s new drivers so the extra practice, right before testing, gave Braden the boost of confidence needed to pass with flying colors.

I watched from a window as he headed out with the testing instructor, first to the back lot for parallel parking, then onto the road for his road test. The minutes dragged by, which is always a good sign. (A quick return usually means a failure.)

When he did make it back he approached the building with a wide smile and a skip in his step. A thumbs up answered the question in my eye…He had passed!!

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Needless to say, he was excited to the point of giddiness. He now was the proud recipient of a driver’s license…

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Every young man’s ticket to freedom.

Well done, Braden!

We can’t wait to see where the road ahead takes you!

 

It went by in a FLASH!

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It is hard to believe it has been a little over a year since Braden moved in, and a mere seven months since he became our son. In so many ways it feels like he has been a part of our family forever and I can’t imagine life without him. It makes me sick to think of what could have been had we let fear, rather than faith, guide us in the decision to say “yes.”

Fear of what could go wrong hijacked our thoughts when we first received the call asking us if we would consider opening our home and hearts to a 17-year-old boy…Tyler’s biological brother. There were so many reasons to be nervous, so many unknowns, so many shared horror stories that we found ourselves paralyzed by the anxiety of the unknown. We didn’t realize it at the time but what should have scared us was the consideration of all that we would miss by saying “no.”

Luckily we were blessed with a social worker that didn’t accept our knee jerk reaction, driven by ignorance and fear, and instead supported us as we navigated our way through our questions and concerns.

She didn’t give up on us and neither did God, who had plans that were bigger than our own agenda and blueprint for our life. He heard our concerns and answered them with His truth, spoken with compassion and love…

Giving us the opportunity to be part of something so much bigger and better than ourselves.

That isn’t to say that the journey from a year ago to today was easy, smooth or without trials and triggers. It isn’t easy growing a family, and with the addition of another child comes growing pains. Adoption is hard but there is something humbling and divine  about getting to participate in something so heavenly orchestrated.

Our adoption journey with Braden has taught me to trust God’s plan and timing, even when it runs counter to our own plans for life.

When we said yes to adopting a 17-year-old boy I was overwhelmed by the task ahead of me and felt the pressure of time against me, wondering what difference we could make in Braden’s life with only a year of childhood left before he was legally an adult. I had experienced the long, arduous journey of attachment with both Tyler and Ozzie and knew how long and hard the road to attachment was. Could we make a difference in a year?  Would we even be able to scratch the surface of attachment after all the loss he has lived through and all the walls of protection he has had to build for self preservation?

Luckily, my Lord is bigger than my logic and He has proved time and time again that He is a God of miracles. He can move mountains, He can heal hearts. And he can grow families, regardless of the worldly obstacles that seem unmovable in reaching that goal.

It has only been a year but this sweet boy has my heart. How grateful I am that God didn’t let fear drive our decision. I can’t imagine our life or our family without him…

This week we celebrated his 18th birthday!

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Braden’s birthday celebration was split between two days. This was due to a special request he had for his birthday. He wanted to visit a haunted house!

Knowing that most haunted houses would be shut down by the first weekend in November, we made plans to celebrate his birthday a week early so as to grant his birthday request. On the Saturday before his birthday we made plans to visit a haunted house as a family, but first we met up with Grace and Zach for dinner!

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Braden wanted wings for his birthday dinner so we met at a local wing joint that boasts 100 different wing flavors.

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Everyone ordered a dozen wings of their chosen flavor and then we enjoyed a buffet of tastes as we passed the different wing flavors around the table so everyone could try one of each flavor.

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It was a delicious pre-birthday dinner!

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When dinner was complete Grace and Zach opted to bow out rather than join us at Freddy’s Haunts.

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Braden was very excited to visit this haunted house.

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He had never been to a haunted house before and was excited to experience the thrill of fright as we navigated our way through the haunted halls of this local fear factory. We also happened to be visiting on their “black-out weekend” when an already spooky experience gets amped up by the absence of lights.

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Each group is given a single glow stick to guide them through the darkness.

Forming a human chain and holding tightly to the family member ahead of us, Braden led us through a maze of dark hallways as spooks jumped out and stalked us for the hour and a half it took us to find our way out.

It was a creepy as you might imagine…

And Braden loved it!

The following Wednesday…on Braden’s actual birthday…we celebrated his 18th birthday.

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His birthday theme was built around his favorite superhero: The Flash!

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Many of his gifts reflected this theme, including gifts from Mimi Joy,

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And his gift from Rusty:

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He loved the love put into his special day and the gifts that were so thoughtfully chosen by friends and family.

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His gift from Mom and Dad was the BMX bike he’s been wishing for.

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Happy birthday, son. We can hardly believe you are 18…

This year has gone by in a FLASH!

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How blessed we feel to call you our son!

 

Carving Pumpkins

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This past week, in preparation for Halloween, pumpkins were gathered and knives were sharpened for some gruesome and gross fun…

It was time to carve our jack o’ lanterns!

This is one of my favorite holiday traditions. Not because I love digging my hands into the cold, slimy guts of a pumpkin, but because it is a tradition that draws my heart to my own childhood memories and the memories of years past with my own children. Like so many of the holiday traditions that are repeated year after year, pumpkin carving serves as a connecting thread that ties us together as a family, builds shared memories, and draws us closer to each other.

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I am a huge believer in the importance of family traditions, whether speaking of holiday traditions or day to day traditions. I believe family traditions serve as a glue, connecting us to each other. I believe they are an essential element of family life, but they are even more important when trying to build connection with new family members. We have discovered through our journey of adoptions that shared family traditions can be a catalyst to bonding and building feelings of belonging.

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And they are fun!

They force us, as parents, to set aside the urgent tasks of the day for the important things…

Connecting with our children in a lighthearted, silly way.

So, on the Sunday before Halloween we carved lack o’ lanterns with the boys for our family night activity, and while we carved I used the following family home evening lesson from LDS Daily to liken the experience to a spiritual lesson.

One of the most recognized symbols of Halloween is a jack-o-lantern. People love to take pumpkins and make beautiful creations. Many years ago, people from Ireland brought the tradition of making jack-o-lanterns to America. It comes from the story of a man named Jack who roamed the earth after he died and needed a light to see.

But the Irish didn’t have pumpkins! They used turnips, potatoes, and other gourds to make their jack-o-lanterns. When Irish immigrants started coming to America, they discovered the pumpkin was easier to carve and much bigger.

Today, jack-o-lanterns are a part of the Halloween tradition. But did you know we can learn about Jesus Christ from the jack-o-lantern?

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 We are like this pumpkin. God picks us from the patch for a special purpose. He has brought us to Earth and to families where he helps us become clean. All the dirt is washed off of us.

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God can ask us to do hard things. Sometimes we are asked to go through trials or illnesses. We make mistakes and need to repent. God wants to change our hearts so we can be more like him. This is like when we cut off the top of the pumpkin and scoop out all the yucky pumpkin goo.

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 There are seeds inside the pumpkin. Inside of us, we have seeds of doubt, fear, or anger. God removes these seeds and instead turns them into seeds of faith, hope, and charity. This is like when we clean off all the seeds and cook them so they’re yummy.

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God wants us to have joy in this life and in the life to come. He helps us have a smiling face of peace.

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With the jack-o-lantern, we carve a smile and put a light inside. We have the light of Jesus Christ inside of us that can shine bright for everyone to see.”

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Happy Halloween from our house to yours!

Snap* Crackle* Pop!

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I love Halloween. I love the cool weather, the falling leaves, the smell of bonfires, the itch of wool sweaters. I especially love the opportunity to tap into the joy of creativity as we work to come up with the year’s costumes.

For the past few years we have come up with a group costume for Halloween. In past years we have gone as…

The toys from Toy Story:

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The Wizard of Oz gang:

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The emotional characters from Inside Out:

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And the beloved characters from Disney’s Peter Pan:

halloween

It is always a fun process brainstorming as we put our heads together to come up with the group costume for the year. In the past, the girls have spearheaded much of the efforts, so this year the boys had to step up their game and tap into their own creativity.

With smaller numbers this Halloween (being down Molly, Grace and Ozzie) we were looking for a group costume for either 3 or 5 people. Luckily there are many famous trios to pick from. We let our stomachs do the choosing and picked this iconic breakfast trio:

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Rusty dressed as Snap:

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Tyler dressed as Crackle:

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And Braden dressed as Pop:

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It was a blessedly simple set of costumes to pull together which was a blessing as Halloween zoomed up quickly… hot on the tail of the wedding reception.

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Saturday, October 26th was the Trunk or Treat at church, and our first opportunity to take our costumes for a test drive.

In addition to Snap, Crackle, and Pop, our room was also manned by a carton of milk and a spoon.

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The weather outside drove the trunk or treat festivities inside where families decorated classrooms rather than trunks for the trick or treaters roaming the halls.

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As a nod to our theme we handed out Rice Krispie treats.

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We has a wonderful turnout for trunk or treat with many kids dressed up for the event, eager to fill their buckets.

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It was a blast seeing all the costumes.

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Everyone went above and beyond. Some of our favorite costumes were group costumes.

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Dinner brought even more party goers as everyone gathered in the cultural hall for hot soups and yummy desserts.

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At the end of dinner prizes were awarded for best costumes and the boys were thrilled to be one of the winning groups.

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How grateful I am for fun memories made with these three…

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Snap * Crackle* Pop…Rice Krispies!

Grace and Zach’s Wedding Reception

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It is hard to believe it has been two weeks since Grace and Zach’s wedding reception. Since that day they have enjoyed an amazing honeymoon abroad while the rest of us spent time recovering from one heck of a party!

Slowly, the house is returning to normal, as each piece of furniture and each decoration finds its way back to its original spot. and we ease back into the routine of everyday life.

Molly has returned to school in Idaho. Grace and Zach, now home from their honeymoon, are enjoying the adventure of married life as they establish their own routines and traditions in their darling little apartment.

The reception was beautiful. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Grace’s vision of the night came to life in a way that made it feel as though we had invited our closest friends and family over for a holiday dinner. There was comfort food, familiar faces, music, laughter, dancing and displays of love that left all our hearts overflowing with gratitude over the blessings of their union.

We made the decision ahead of time to hire our dear friend, Holly (who is an amazing photographer) to capture the magic of the evening so that I wasn’t having to watch the events of the evening unfold from behind a camera lens…

And yesterday she sent us the edited photos, allowing us to relive what was an amazing night.

She perfectly captured the feel of the evening and the love that overflowed as we celebrated the nuptials of Mr. and Mrs. Tame.

Here is a look into that blessed night:

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The whole event made us dance with joy!