Tag Archives: adoption

Kalahari Adventures

Standard

IMG_1841 (2)

Following the Pennsylvania SWAN awards banquet on Wednesday night, we were invited to stay at Kalahari Resort for the next two days and make a family vacation out of the event.

IMG_1698 (2)IMG_1761 (2)

As if the award recognition wasn’t enough, we felt absolutely spoiled rotten by this special gift.

IMG_1858 (2)IMG_1869 (2)

Thursday and Friday were spent connecting as a family, playing as a family, laughing as a family, and enjoying a respite from life.

IMG_1802 (2)

The kids loved the abundance of water slides available at “America’s Largest Indoor Water Park.”

IMG_1780 (2)

Some of the slides were familiar, having ridden the sister slides at the Sandusky, Ohio Kalahari Resort,

IMG_1808 (2)IMG_1845 (2)IMG_1854 (2)

While other were unique to this particular park.

IMG_1821 (2)

When we weren’t off sliding, our family could be found enjoying the lazy river or the wave pool.

IMG_1817 (2)IMG_1815 (2)

Braden and Tyler were particularly fond of the basketball pool with its abundance of basketball hoops and balls.

IMG_1800 (2)

Many hours were spent in that pool bonding as biological brothers. The genetic connection is clearly evident in these two natural athletes who are more comfortable competing with a ball in hand than doing anything else.

IMG_1793 (2)

We also enjoyed the outdoor hot tub. The combination of warm water, cool breezes, summer sun, and gorgeous views brought home that vacation feel. It was lovely to sit and soak while visiting as a family, knowing I had nothing else to do for the next 12 hours.

IMG_1871 (2)

Our two lazy days also allowed for me to have time to sit and read a novel and allowed Toby a much deserved nap…two luxuries that have become a rare treat in our lives recently.

IMG_1824 (2)

 

It was a lovely luxury to let go of a month’s worth of worries and heartache and simply be present in the gift of today.

IMG_1875 (2)

It was a blessing to be still and simply breathe, soaking in the blessing of our mini vacation, and praising God for restarts and reconnection.

IMG_1879 (2)

IMG_1868 (2)

That is what this time away was for our family. Tucked away in the gorgeous greenery of the Pocono mountains, we found the peace that had been so hard to grab hold of for the last two months. Somehow stepping away from outside influences we were able to remember what this journey was all about.

IMG_1768 (2)

It was a breakthrough experience for our child who had been pushing hard against the connection that he has fearfully been fleeing from since Mother’s Day. I’m not sure what clicked internally but amid the splashing and sunshine and celebration of adoption with hundreds of other families much like ours, he found some peace…

At least for the moment.

IMG_1786 (2)

And that was the greatest gift of all.

Celebrating Permanency with SWAN

Standard

“It is with feelings of gratitude and humility that we stand up here tonight and accept this award. Many thanks to the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN). Permanency is a journey that requires the support of a village. We are so grateful for our village of support, particularly our caseworkers and dear friends, Lisa, Raquel, and our amazing Second-Chance family.

We are often asked by friends what skills or talents are needed to be a foster or adoptive family. That always makes us laugh, because nothing makes you more aware of your complete lack of skills and talents than foster care adoption. In reality it is a humbling journey of self-discovery as you realize how little you actually know. This walk is unique and as a result each approach must be unique. There is no tried and true method, no fail proof system. It is a lot of trial and error and trusting your gut.

But I think there are certain character traits that are seen consistently in families that have chosen to walk this road.

SWAN families tend to be “big picture” visionaries. They recognize that sometimes they must choose to close their eyes to the small irritations and unimportant annoyances for the sake of the more important stuff.

SWAN families are tenacious. Like a Pitbull on a bone, they will fight relentlessly for their kids, advocating at every turn to get them what they need and give them the life they deserve.

SWAN families are adaptable. While not always born with this trait, it is one quickly learned in the trenches. Raising children with individual trauma histories, personalized triggers, and unique needs, means being willing to make adaptations on the fly. They are pros at coming up with a solid “Plan B.”

 SWAN families laugh together. They soon discover that this road is not without struggle and many days will lead to a place where one must either cry or laugh. And while crying can be cathartic it does give one a terrible headache, so they laugh. They laugh at the absurdity found in the everyday wrestle of growing a family.

And finally, SWAN families love fearlessly. They choose to not guard their hearts or hold back when it comes to loving kids from hard places. They know that parental heartache is a risk of helping kids heal and learn to love again.

I would venture to guess that those same traits that are seen in the families who adopt foster children are the same traits seen in those workers who are fighting on behalf of those same children.

We are incredibly grateful for those of you who are on the front lines, listening to the hard stories, showing up day after day, climbing into the trenches to fight for every child’s right to go to sleep with a full belly, to be tucked into clean sheets and a warm blanket every night, to have a table to do homework at and parents who love them enough to nag them to do their homework.

We believe every child deserves to be safe… And every child deserves to feel safe.

We believe every child deserves to be loved… And every child deserves to feel worthy of love.

We believe every child deserves to know that they will wake up tomorrow…

And every child deserves to dream big dreams about their tomorrows.

These are basic human rights, but they are rights many children would not have if it weren’t for you child advocacy warriors who choose to keep showing up, day after day, fighting those hard fights and being a voice to those children who do not have a voice of their own.

So, whether you are here tonight because you are fighting the hard fight in Harrisburg, or here because you are fighting for the kids in your communities, or here tonight because you are a family fighting for the future of kids that live under your own roof…Thank you.

You are fighting for the greatest of all causes!

Like you, we believe every child deserves a family…

And every family deserves a child like the ones you have met tonight.”

IMG_1751 (2)

These were our words as stood in front of hundreds of other adoptive families, social workers, agencies and law makers at the 27th Annual Pennsylvania Permanency Conference this past Wednesday.

The entire experience was surreal and incredibly humbling, beginning with an unexpected call from Harrisburg, back in March, informing us that our family had been nominated and chosen as one of six families to be recognized as adoptive family of the year at SWAN’s annual conference. 

We later found out that it was Raquel, one of our AMAZING social workers that came into our life with the placement of Braden in our family, who wrote the state to nominate us.

We were beyond touched that she thought enough of our family to nominate us for such a special award. Later, when I had the opportunity to read the words she penned about our family on the application, I was moved to tears.

When the call came informing us of the award, we were invited to attend the permanency conference to receive it in person. They informed us that this year’s conference would be held in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania at the Kalahari Resort. They informed us that a suite would be paid for as part of the awards ceremony and our family was invited to stay and enjoy the indoor water park as part of the celebration.

Needless to say, everyone was very excited. The only damper on our anticipation of the day was the realization that Ozzie would not be allowed to join us for the ceremony. The facility he is currently receiving therapeutic care at didn’t feel he was ready for a trip off campus.

But Raquel video taped us receiving the award so that we could share the experience with him. This was, after all, an award for the whole family.

We arrived at Kalahari at 1:00. We had previously visited the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio, but this Kalahari was nearly double the size. The kids had a blast exploring the property and checking out the resort while we got checked in.

IMG_1701 (2)IMG_1713 (2)

IMG_1702 (2)IMG_1764 (2)

Then we headed to the suite that was booked on our behalf. The Statewide Adoption Network covered the cost of our first night’s stay, and then our adoption agency, “Second Chance Inc.- Kinship Care,” graciously asked if they could gift us with a second night’s stay. It was just that…a gift. An incredible gift of love for our family.

IMG_1667 (2)

The African theme carried into our bathroom with our hand towel folded as an elephant…so cute!

IMG_1665 (2)

The view from our suite’s back patio. It is so pretty here.

IMG_1839 (2)

Wednesday night was the banquet. As award winners, we were invited to join the other five families at a pre-banquet reception to mingle and get our photos taken with state representatives.

IMG_1728 (2)

All dolled up for the occasion, we snapped a few photos of our own before going in.

IMG_1716 (2)IMG_1719 (2)

Once there we enjoyed hors d’ oeuvres while waiting for dinner.

IMG_1722 (2)

Then we were escorted into the banquet hall where we joined 500+ other guests for a delicious meal.

IMG_1749 (2)

IMG_1746 (2)

At our table we were joined by Lisa, Braden’s social worker who fought so hard on his behalf and tracked down every lead in an effort to find his biological siblings. It was her relentless efforts that brought him to us and made him our son.

IMG_1733 (2)

We were also joined by Raquel, Braden’s pre-adoptive social worker, who has been nothing short of amazing in tracking down his past history and building for him a life book of his journey. As the one to nominate our family, she and her son joined us for this special honor.

IMG_1742 (2)

After dinner it was time for the award recipients to be recognized.

IMG_1740 (2)

How humbling it was to stand among such child advocacy warriors and have our meager efforts highlighted. One of the women who was also honored was a window who has been foster mom to over 250 children in her 30 years of fostering. At 76 she is in the process of adopting another teenage boy. It is astounding. I look at individuals like her and it lights a fire in me to do more. There are so many children who need a home and not nearly enough families willing to take a leap of faith. 

It was with great humility that we stood among those faith-filled giants who have made loving children their life’s work. 

So often this road of loving kids from hard places can tear you apart. It can be exhausting, devastating, and often thankless. You wonder if you small effort is making any difference at all, and it is not just the adoptive families that struggle under this weight of responsibility. It is everyone that is working for this cause. The agencies, the advocates, the CASA workers, the social workers…each and every one of them are choosing to climb into the trenches day after day, and fight the very hardest of fights, because no cause is more worthy of our time and effort than this one…

Giving every child who needs and wants a family, the chance to have a family.

IMG_1756 (2)

It was an amazing night for our family…

IMG_1830 (2)IMG_1831 (2)

Certainly one we will never forget!

IMG_1837 (2)

We were humbled to be recognized,

And honored to stand among so many with a similar heart for adoption. 

We feel incredibly blessed!

 

Road Block Ahead

Standard

road block

This week was a big one at Patchwork Farm!!

It was graduation week for Miss Molly and her nearest and dearest friends, and we had a few action packed days planned for the graduate.

On Wednesday it was secretly decided that we would drive out in shifts; with most of us leaving to head east on Thursday, and Toby and Molly leaving bright and early Friday morning due to work conflicts that prevented them from leaving on Thursday. I knew this trip was going to be especially challenging for Braden. I anticipated the combination of heightened emotions, family togetherness, Ozzie’s absence, and Molly preparing to go away to college, would set off insecurities deep inside that might prompt him to flee rather than have to face Molly’s graduation ceremony… as this has been his pattern recently. My solution to scaling that possible roadblock: throw him off by eliminating the anxiety brought on by anticipation, and simply show up at school a day early with bags packed and jump right on the turnpike, travelling at a speed that would discourage passengers from jumping.

This plan was divinely prompted and it worked out perfectly. By not anticipating a Thursday departure, we were able to avoid the self-destructive behaviors that present during anticipation of upcoming family connection experiences,

And the unpredictability and adventure of an impromptu road trip fed his need for chaos and risk, in a way that was healthy and parent-led.

This plan worked perfectly.

At noon I stopped by the high school to sign Braden out. He joined Grace, Molly and Tyler in the car with all our luggage, we jumped right onto the turnpike. 3 1/2 hours later we found ourselves in Harrisburg for our first overnight stay. The juggling of multiple schedules required us to travel in shifts. My most pressing requirement was to arrive at a location that offered Pathway gathering classes so I wouldn’t miss out on Thursday night gathering points for my college courses. As I looked up Pathway gatherings on the Eastern side of the state, I decided Hershey/Harrisburg area was our best shot. It was timed out perfectly, allowing us to arrive, check-in, settle the kids into the hotel room with dinner and a movie, before I left for class.

My plans were thwarted, however, when we pulled into the Radisson that was to be our home-away-from home for the night and found it surrounded by armed guards, swat teams, local police and military.

My first thought was, “Oh, Crap…They must of heard we were coming.”

My second thought was, “Or maybe someone was murdered.”

It turns out that neither was true. The reason behind the walking/talking fire power was that the Vice President of the United States was spending the night at our hotel for a GOP convention.

Mr. Mike Pence almost lost me 60 points in class credit this week when the armed guards refused to let us through the barricade to check into our hotel. Lucky for my family, I have grown bolder and more fearless in recent years, thanks to MANY opportunities to grow those assertiveness muscles…

Needless to say, after all I have lived through in the last few years, armed soldiers with intense scowls didn’t scare me in the least.

They were simply just another roadblock that needed to be scaled as we moved toward a bigger goal.

I have come to appreciate the roadblocks of life.

They stretch us in ways that the easy seasons of life don’t.

They grow muscles that can only be built through adversity.

They give us a healthier perspective on life.

And they gives us the opportunity to fight for those things and those people who deserve to be fought for, despite the lies that have argued otherwise.

The road blocks of life allow us to prove our diligence, our courage, our tenacity, and the depth of our conviction for the cause we are fighting for.

road blocks 2 - Copy

Road blocks allow our empty words to have a voice…

The powerful and resounding voice of ACTION.

After some sweet talk and then some straight talk, we were waved through and allowed to check in. I settled the kids in and left them with their faces pressed to the window in hopes of catching a glimpse of someone important, while I raced off to class. I arrived and was only 15 minutes late…a sure miracle given the obstacles we faced.

Everyone did exceptionally well in my absence despite disappointment that no one of note strolled by their hotel window.

On Friday we met up with Toby and Molly at the Home 2 Suites in Downingtown, PA, that would serve as home base for the weekend.

The first big event: Molly’s senior prom!

Stay tuned for pictures of all our gussied up girls!

Hanging on for Dear Life!

Standard

And then in the midst of it all, life keeps rolling on…

A never-slowing train, speeding down the track.

As we hold on tightly, trying to enjoy the scenic vistas as they fly past.

Rusty now makes child #4 in the “gainfully employed club” at Patchwork Farm. He has joined Braden as an ice cream scooper at Handel’s and is loving the experience. The increased cash flow, coupled by the free sweet treats, has made this a dream job for our gentle giant.

IMG_1086

With 4 children employed, and Ozzie currently residing at a residential facility, we have found ourselves left with only Tyler home a lot of the time. It is so weird to look around and have only one child lounging in the living room, instead of six. The experience has given us an sneak peek into life in the future when Tyler will be the last child at home. I think he is feeling a bit lost in it all, but I keep telling him we just need to hang in there for a few more years and once we can kick everyone out we will be able to have some awesome adventures with the extra disposable income that will result from a decreased family food budget! 😉

Ozzie has been transferred from the acute facility where he was being stabilized to the long-term facility where he will be for the next 6-12 months for more intensive, in-patient trauma therapy. We feel incredibly blessed to be able to get him admitted to the same RTF where he was so successful prior. Located in Erie, Harborcreek Youth Services provided an amazing blend of physical, emotional and spiritual care that allowed Ozzie to safely face the traumas of his past that are so destructive to his current relationships and result in poor choices and dangerous behaviors.

The sheer quantity and variety of therapeutic work that can be offered in a week-long period (family therapy, trauma therapy, EMDR therapy, group sessions, anger management, art therapy, animal therapy, trauma releasing yoga and music therapy) gives Ozzie a highly submersible experience that yields amazing results for him.

We hate that he has to be sent away to get the help he needs, but we are so grateful for the loving care he receives from amazing staff who act as interim parents in our absence, supporting Ozzie as he focuses on his own healing journey.

Gracie just finished out another semester of school and one of the art electives she chose to take this past semester was a pottery class. Beginning with basic pinch pots and working up to creating pieces on the wheel, Grace had the opportunity to design, create, paint and fire a variety of pottery pieces. This week she brought home her finished creations. Some of her finished pieces include:

A large flower vase that she made as a gift for her Momma:

IMG_1292 (2) - Copy

A model of our school bus turned RV:

IMG_1278 (2) - Copy

A wall vase to hang on the wall of her room and fill with fresh flowers:

IMG_1289 (2) - Copy

And a set of mugs that she creatively designed with a pocket to hold the used tea bag when making a cup of tea:

IMG_1286 (2) - Copy

This is just a sampling of the completed projects she brought home. She loved the class and we loved being the benefactors of her talent and generosity!

IMG_1279 (2) - Copy

With the conclusion of May comes many end of the year/graduation celebrations for Miss Molly. The first acknowledgement that this was really happening and that our little girls were all grown up occurred at our end of the year co-op picnic. We joined with other co-op families to celebrate another successful year of teaching our children at home. As part of our picnic, Miss Lana brought a celebratory cake for our four graduating seniors.

IMG_1166 (2)

I still can’t wrap my brain around the fact that four women stand before me where four little girls with mismatched socks once stood.

IMG_1170 (2)

Four sweet girls! Caleigh’s curlers are in preparation for that night’s performance of “Little Women” at Mohawk High School.

On the heels of one graduation celebration came another. On Sunday we celebrated Molly’s graduation from seminary, a scripture study course offered to the high school students of our church. For the last four years she has chosen to add an additional 60 minutes of work to her weekday schedule to study the teachings of Christ and apply those teachings to her life as a disciple of Christ. We are so glad she chose to participate, as we have seen first hand the great growth that happens when our children are actively pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ through daily prayer and scripture study.

IMG_1234 (2) - CopyIMG_1238 (3) - Copy

As part of the graduation ceremony, we heard from a few of the graduating seniors and then enjoyed a beautiful musical number as Hailey and Heather sang “Be Still my Soul” while Molly interpreted the song through American Sign Language.

IMG_1269 (2) - CopyIMG_1231 (2)

Following the ceremony there was a reception in the cultural hall where guests could enjoy desserts while strolling around, reading the graduation posters, and signing their well wishes to all the graduating seniors.

IMG_1246 (2) - CopyIMG_1263 (2) - Copy

So proud of you, Miss Molly!

IMG_1272 (2) - Copy

Another celebration of Molly’s upcoming graduation from high school came in the form of a senior trip. Molly and Tatum were invited by Irvin and his family to stay at their home in Gettysburg for two days.

IMG_1224 (2)

After years of friendship, Irvin wanted to have the girls come and visit his home town and meet his parents. The family set up their pottery studio/store as a B & B for the girls, spoiling them rotten with homemade meals, story telling, chocolates on their pillows, site seeing around Gettysburg and even gifted them with one of their handcrafted mugs as a parting gift of hospitality.

received_2054192154882231received_297797501102943

On Friday, the girls joined Irvin for a trip to Knoebels, the amusement park that was chosen as the site for this year’s senior day. There they met up with other 21st Century seniors and teachers for a day of riding rides and having fun…

received_333888120611419received_842098952842328received_1807967899305927

Ending the day with ice cream.

received_457636034998345

It was a fun adventure for Molly and Tatum to share before they get pulled into the vortex of college life…

And it was all made possible thanks to the kindness and hospitality of the Young family.

It is an exciting time for Miss Molly and we couldn’t be happier for our walking ray of sunshine!

So very weary…

Standard

 

“I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.”
Sylvia Plath

weary3

I find myself craving the solitude of my bed.

I am so very weary.

That down-to-the-bone weariness that finds tears hovering just behind the eyes and feelings of intense hopelessness fighting hard to push down those remaining crumbs of hope.

We find ourselves in another season of transitions as Ozzie returns to Harborcreek for intensive inpatient therapy for the next 9-12 months, Molly’s graduation nears (only four more days), Gracie prepares to be married in five months, we brace for two more graduating seniors next year, all while Braden derails and I desperately try to successfully finish my first year of college. It is all so much and I find myself moving through my days in a state of numb detachment, dealing with the next pressing crisis while trying to mime some appearance of normalcy on the outside, as I crumble within.

I find myself battling feelings of resentment over the stolen minutes, of these last months I have with my girls before they leave, that are spent chasing Braden as he runs away, shuts down, or destroys property in a fit of rage. I understand where it is coming from. I see beyond his anger and defiance and know that all this change has made his already uncertain world seem all the more shaky. Reacting from a place of fear, he is making decisions that will push us away before we can push him away or leave him. Cerebrally I get it, but fighting on behalf of a 17-year-old who is defiantly determined to sabotage this second chance he has been given has be worn down, discouraged and empty…completely and totally empty.

As a result I once again find myself isolating from others, both in a physical sense as well as a virtual one. Perhaps this comes from an uncertainty as to what and how much to share…always trying to walk that delicate line between being real in our journey while still respecting the privacy of my family. Or perhaps it’s because I feel so lost in the darkness that I struggle to find the light that I want to share with you. Sometimes, though, I think it comes down to just being weary. A weariness so soul deep that even a Rip Van Winkle sleep couldn’t bring the rest I crave.

The weariness comes from the lack of respite. I’m sure many of you can relate. You might not be dealing with the same trauma but perhaps your circumstances bring a similar weariness.  It is a weariness that comes from always having to be “on.” The opportunity to escape, even mentally, is not there. Our home at the moment is like an active minefield. We are tiptoeing through our days, trying to tread gently for fear of setting someone off and then having to attend to the casualties and destruction.

Last week we had a therapy appointment with Tina. I went in first to update her before I brought the first child in. She asked me how I was and the floodgates opened. After weeks of isolating myself from the world I finally had someone safe to talk to. I told her I was tired…so very tired. I laughed with bitterness at the irony of my situation. In my desire to save children from a life of horrendous abuse I find myself in my own abusive situation.

I am, in essence, the one being hurt in an abusive relationship that I can’t walk away from. If it was my husband doing and saying these things I would have walked away a long time ago, but these are children. My children. My boys who are dealing with hurts bigger and scarier than anything you and I could conjure up in our scariest nightmare. I have the privilege of being both of their security as well as the walking representation of the figures they love and hate the most: their birth parents. And so I get to be on the receiving end of all the hurt they would like to inflict on the parents they don’t have access to.

And it sucks…big time!

I get to be the emotional punching bag for hard feelings.

I get it. Mentally, logically, I understand the reasoning and the motivation behind the behavior. As dysfunctional as it may seem, this is actually as sign that we are moving in the right direction. The honeymoon period is officially over which means there is a heightened level of trust.

But even with that knowledge I find myself feeling beaten down by the personal nature of the attacks, as I try to figure out how to navigate this relationship with a 17-year-old that screams he doesn’t want to live here, while internally battling fears that he won’t be able to keep living here.

I know there is a lesson to be found in the midst of this, but the weariness that has become a constant companion leaves my brain foggy. I suspect this is another lesson in surrender…

It seems to be a reoccurring lesson in my life.

The reality is, I am in a season on life where my level of control over the choices, safety, and futures of my children is minimal, and it scares the heck out of me. I can’t slow down the clock and the days seem to be rushing past faster than I can grab hold of. I think my weariness is probably rooted in grief as I mourn the death of what was, what could have been, and what will never be.

I don’t share this to darken your joy or weigh down your spirit, but to speak to that soul who is reading this with tears in their eyes, saying…”me, too.”

If you, in whatever circumstance you find yourself in, are thinking, “there is nothing left within me. I am bone dry,” perhaps you will find solace in this prayer Heavenly Father led me to today when I was desperately searching for a sliver of light in the suffocating darkness that chokes me…

weary2

It is time to rest, weary heart…

Be still, and hold up your cup.

 

Fighting for the GREATEST Cause

Standard

29f4b86d4ad3b9037747d8bb95a8562d

We find ourselves in the trenches once more.

I share the quote above because it powerfully puts into words the reality of our journey and petitions for the prayers we stand in need of.

Adoption is a war, but not the war it appears to be through the eyes of those on the outside looking in. To the casual observer it would seem that we were fighting a losing battle against our kids from hard places. The defiance, rebellion, and dangerous manifestations of anger that burst forth in the form of running away, physically assaulting siblings, property destruction, chronic lying, suicidal ideation, manipulation, and relationship sabotage smack of “us verses them.” If someone would step into our home in the midst of one of our daily battles, the screams of, “I hate you! You are not my mom!” coupled with flying projectiles would definitely lead you to believe the warfare playing out is familial, but that is simply not the case. Our war is not with our children. It is a battle we are fighting side by side with our children, against the trauma of their past. Though they do not always see it that way.

The reality of adopting kids with a trauma history is that as a family you are choosing to open your door and invite inside a battle of epic proportion. You are choosing to fight for the soul of a child and Satan doesn’t fight fair. By choosing to adopt children that the world has seen fit to abandon and give up on, you are agreeing to walk into the fire and expose your home, your children, your marriage, your friendships and your extended family to a whole new level of spiritual warfare.

And I’m here to say that we can’t do it alone.

We need our prayer warriors to surround us with an armor of fortification because our ragtag battalion is growing weary and our wounds are extensive.

Sometimes I look on my family, especially on the heels of one of those intense and destructive battles, and I see in them the faces of the famous Howard Pyle painting, “The Nation Makers.” This iconic piece of artwork is a powerful depiction of the War for Independence. It depicts a line of soldiers in tattered clothing and bandages marching forward through a field of grass and wild flowers. They push forward with a purpose and a drive that trump all obstacles. Bloodied and bruised, they do not hesitate.

nationmakers

And bloodied and bruised my family pushes forward, fighting for a cause even greater than independence. We are fighting for salvation; reclaiming a soul from the brink of destruction.

54b53c8204fa6bcab31f954c7131fd49

But that doesn’t always mean that soul wants to be saved. Satan’s greatest weapon in his spiritual warfare arsenal is to whisper into the vulnerable ears of my sons that they are not worthy of our love or God’s love. With those lies, he plants seeds of hopelessness that leads to behaviors only seen in those who have nothing left to lose.

I could draw a vivid picture of our life through my words but it wouldn’t even begin to sufficiently illustrate our reality, and even if my words didn’t fail me, you would have a hard time accepting that it is truth. Our “normal” has reached a new level of dysfunction.

This heightened level of warfare has led to us calling in reinforcements. After multiple trips to the emergency room in the last month, which has led to multiple acute stabilization programs, Ozzie’s doctor has deemed him unsafe to return home at present. She feels he in unsafe with himself and fears for the safety of the other children in the house. Once again we find ourselves in a place where to best love this child, we must surrender this child to God’s plan for him. That plan will involve intensive, inpatient treatment at a residential facility.

We are all heartbroken, hurting, and weary. My older kids are feeling beat up, both emotionally and physically, and Tyler and Braden have been significantly triggered by the events of the last months, setting us back a million miles in their therapeutic journeys.

We all want to curl up and cry.

This walk is so very hard, and I often count my blessings that I didn’t know how hard it would be prior to stepping into the fire, because I fear that I wouldn’t have had the courage to say yes to God’s call.

6ef66f1bdbe25d3a4aeb06b994ad3951

We are now trying to find some level of stabilization, both individually and as a family unit, for the injuries are severe after this latest round of battles. I look at my family and I am seeing the effect of living a life in crisis, and sympathize with the fact that everyone is trying to continue navigating “normal” life and everyday commitments while destruction and great loss play out behind closed doors.

In the past I have likened this way of living to pitching a tent on the battlefield. War rages on, and you can hear the whistle of bullets as they pass dangerously close, but you try to continue carving out a life amid the destruction.

Just last week, as Ozzie lay in an emergency room bed raging over the fact that I wrestled the handful of pills out of his mouth, thus preventing him from ending his life, I sat trying to submit my last college assignments for the week through my cell phone before the 1:00am deadline. It is crazy and absurd that this has become our “normal.”

I share this because without an understanding of the chaos that is driving our world, life may appear “fine” to the untrained eye, and it is because of this lack of awareness that expectations placed upon Toby and I and our children result in “final straw” moments of emotional collapse.

As a family we need more empathy and support and less judgement.

So, please be tender with my troops.

They have been fighting a war most of you will never have to experience. They are choosing to step on the battlefield day after day, to fight for the future of a child who has walked through hell and feels undeserving of anything more.

Please pray for us.

6c6bcda63a9a634d381339f07f223b0e

 

 

Easter Blessings

Standard

Easter weekend arrived on the heels of a hard week, proving to be anything but “typical” when a series of unexpected trauma triggers rewrote the script we planned for Easter Sunday.

It was with heavy hearts and weary spirits that we moved into the Easter weekend.

easter

It began with a not-so-Good Friday when we found ourselves at the emergency room with Ozzie in crisis.

An evaluation brought awareness that hospitalization was necessary. We arrived midafternoon and I spent the night sitting up in a chair while an open bed at a pediatric mental health hospital was sought out for Oz. Seven hours later a bed was secured and at 8:30am the ambulance arrived to transport him. The sun was already up when I dragged myself back to the parking lot for the heavy-hearted and painful drive home. I was physically exhausted from sitting up all night with Ozzie and emotionally weary from this long, lonely, rollercoaster ride we can’t seem to stop. After a few hours of sleep I rolled out of bed. Toby and I were both tapped dry but we had to rally. We couldn’t let the choices of one child steal the joy of the Easter holiday from the other children. Too many sacrifices have already made for the sake of the higher-needs children in the home and we weren’t going to allow the discouragement that weighed down our hearts, darken the joy of the day. So, Toby and I, exhausted and empty, headed out shopping for Easter baskets and egg coloring supplies. I found myself moving in a fog as I tried to figure out what to put into Easter baskets. I don’t know if it was bone-deep fatigue or the heaviness of grief over another unplanned detour in our family’s journey, but I felt like I couldn’t put together a complete thought, much less a creative plan.

It took us twice as long as it should have but Toby and I finally came up with a plan for Easter baskets and purchased the remaining ingredients needed for egg decorating and for the side dishes we were assigned to bring to Easter dinner.

We battled the crowds and the long lines associated with putting off holiday shopping until the day before, and eventually made it home.

In the hours that followed the eggs were hard boiled and colored, baskets were secretly assembled, Molly’s talk for Easter Sunday was printed out, Sunday clothes were washed and ironed, and soon it was time for bed. With everyone home and tucked into bed, and Ozzie safely cared for at Western Psych, I could finally sleep.

IMG_0665 (2)

We awoke at 4:00 am to the harsh ring of the alarm clock.

We crawled from bed to do our Easter duty, going through the motions of childhood traditions, allowing the kids to be kids for another year.

IMG_0636 (2)

While we don’t have any “bunny believers” left in our home, the “Easter Bunny” returned for another year. His arrival was especially critical this year, as we shared the joy of our Easter traditions with Braden who missed out on many of these special traditions as a child. He didn’t have a childhood filled with memories of colored eggs and Easter baskets, so we knew that it was important that his first Easter with us contain those beloved traditions. He needed an Easter basket. It was essential. He needed to be given a piece of our shared Easter memories, and needed the opportunity to be experience the joyful anticipation of being that 5-year-old little boy who exits his room in anticipation of baskets and brightly colored eggs hidden around the house. I know it sounds silly and indulgent given the crisis situation we were in. An Easter basket for a 17-year-old boy may not seem as urgent as other needs playing out in our home, but it was incredibly important, and I would even argue that it was essential.

IMG_0644 (2)

And the effects of our efforts…our display of tender love and parental care… were priceless.

IMG_0653 (2)

IMG_0658 (2)IMG_0656 (2)IMG_0659 (2)

The joy of Easter morning moved into the joy of Easter worship as we celebrated the reason for the day, giving thanks for the atoning sacrifice that is the source of our hope and our strength.

After church we headed to Aunt Beth’s house for Easter dinner with Toby’s side of the family.

IMG_0671 (2)

We were joined by Zach, Gracie’s boyfriend, who had Easter lunch with our family at 2:00 before Grace joined Zach at his family’s Easter dinner at 5:00.

IMG_0666 (2)

We enjoyed good food and fun times with family, celebrating all of our blessings, but especially the blessing a God’s love, Christ’s atonement, forgiveness, do-overs, love-driven endurance, unconditional love, and forever families.

IMG_0677 (3)

Sweet Cousins 

We are blessed.

IMG_0672 (2)

The darkest days and the most heartbreaking, hopeless Fridays are always followed by the renewing promise and hopeful gift of Easter morning.

easter2

God is good…

Always good.

 

Scrapbooking: Cheaper than a Therapist!

Standard

scrapbooking1

Easter week was one of those muddied, happy/sad weeks where joyful, celebratory moments roll in on the heels of heartbreak and vice versa, leaving us all with emotional whiplash. These are the very hardest weeks for me to navigate as my desire for a life of black and white living meld into a perpetually grey existence. Gone are the days that can clearly be labeled a success or a failure. Instead we find ourselves riding the rollercoaster of trauma-affected parenting that take us on a ride filled with breathtaking views at the top followed by stomach-flipping drops to the bottom. This up and down thrill ride doesn’t occur over the course of a month, or even a week, but often in the space of mere minutes.

And to say that sort of frequent change in altitude (and attitude) is draining, would be the understatement of the year!

As I type this I can clearly picture the faces of family and friends who are nodding their assent to my depiction, as they, too, are on a similar roller coaster that never slows down and never allows riders to disembark. What got you on the ride might be circumstances far different than mine, but if you are “crisis living” and navigating life currently in survival mode, I know you get what I’m saying.

This week was one of those happy/sad weeks filled with many happy/sad hours of emotional whiplash as I celebrated joyful highs and heartbreaking lows,

And it all started with a girls’ week away.

This past week I joined four of my nearest and dearest friends at JB’s Retreat for a few days of cropping.

Every year I run away from home for a few days. This annual escape began over a decade ago when my big kids were little tykes. This annual getaway began when a friend who sold Creative Memories started organizing a scrapbooking getaway for her customers at a local Bible college. For 2 1/2 days, and for minimal cost, we would be blessed with the opportunity to spread out our paper and pictures (with no fear of little fingers touching), work uninterrupted (without having to break for diaper changes or meal preparations), and just scrap without interruption. It was a lovely and always a very productive reprieve from responsibility. It became something I look forward to each year. I was able to enjoy a mini vacation for a few days, but could do so without feeling any guilt because while I was away, I was using my time to bless my family by recording our family’s history

I love to scrapbook. I find it to be a delightful melding of photography, storytelling, and creative expression…3 things that bring me great joy. Scrapbooking has been an important creative outlet for me over the years (although less so now that I have the blog that meets some of that need.) I also have an inner drive and passionate desire to record my family’s story. Since I was a young girl, I have been a journal writer. Through scrapbooking I have been able to combine the need to record our life’s journey with my love of photography. Unfortunately, being a wife and Momma doesn’t allow me as much time as I’d like or need to stay on top of keeping everyone’s scrapbooks current. This is another reason why these annual scrapbooking weekends have become such a blessing. Over the course of a few days I can scrap a year’s worth of memories.

My conviction about the importance of having a recording of our stories and capturing the moments of our lives through photographs has only increased since we entered the world of adoption. I see how the lack of personal history in the form of scrapbooks or pictures hurt my boys, making me all the more determined that their current story be recorded and recorded well.

scrapbooking2

This annual scrapbook weekend also serves the added purpose of being a time of rest and renewal. I am able to step away from the busyness of life that consumes my days and focus on self-care, stillness, laughter, and creativity…all balms to my soul. And I can do it without feeling that nagging momma guilt, because my time away is gifting my family with something special and important.

Over time that weekend retreat evolved as some friends moved on and new friends were gained. It went from being Becky’s planned excursion at a bible college to something a group of us co-op moms picked up when that era ended.

For the last few years we have gone away scrapbooking for 3-4 days. The first few years were spent at Scraphappy, a charming little house rented out to scrapbooking groups like ours, but a few years ago when we went to book it, we discovered it had closed without notice. There was a moment of panic, as all of us really live for this creative retreat, but then we rallied and began searching for an alternative location.

That is when we stumbled across Red Door Retreat.  This getaway was located near Sandusky, Ohio. It was a beautiful place, and it worked for that year, but the drive and the set-up of the house wasn’t ideal so we kept searching.

Two years ago, we tried a new place, one that Lana and Tauni discovered. It is called JB’s Retreat and its affordable price, beautiful views, and close proximity to home made it practically perfect!

IMG_0584 (2)

I left Tuesday morning with a van full of papers, photos, gifts, stickers, and enough food to feed a small nation. Typically, I ride with Lana and Tauni, but this year I drove separately. This was because we had some extra guests this year, and in the end, it was a blessing I had driven separately because in my absence things imploded at home, requiring me to take my leave a day early.

Our extra guests were three teenage girls.

Three of us scrapbooking veterans have daughters graduating this year.

IMG_0563 (2)IMG_0601 (2)IMG_0605 (2)

And these three graduates also happen to be best friends, just like their mommas, so we decided to open our getaway to our graduating girls when they volunteered to be our kitchen staff for the week.

IMG_0559 (3)

It sounded like a great deal to us, as we wouldn’t have to break from our creative pursuits to cook meals,

IMG_0564 (2)

And the girls were excited to get a mini vacation with much free time to play, interrupted only by their responsibilities at meal times.

Their presence was a blessing. It was fun to have that special bonding time with the girls and they truly did bless us by taking on the responsibility of cooking and clean-up.

When they weren’t in the kitchen cooking the girls spent their time doing school work, watching movies, enjoying the farm animals that call J.B’s Retreat home,

IMG_0570 (2)IMG_0582 (2)

Participating in a fun sewing project with Miss Wendy,

IMG_0589 (2)IMG_0598 (2)

And pampering themselves with the thank you gifts they received from the moms.

They soon discovered why our annual scrapbooking retreat is the highlight of my year…

Between the gifts of love exchanged between friends,

IMG_0557 (2)

The late-night hours filled with belly-aching laughter,

IMG_0628 (2)

The opportunity to emotionally recharge through good conversation, yummy food, and restful sleep,

IMG_0554 (2)

All while getting to indulge in creative pursuits…

IMG_0551 (2) - Copy

Who could ask for anything more?!

This year my creative project was to scrapbook our February vacation to Disney World and Universal Studios, and I did pretty well, getting 124 scrapbook pages finished before a late-night call on Wednesday evening that resulted in an abrupt end to my vacation.

This trip really clarified the emotional state of my hurting children. It soon became clear how dependent they are (in their current state) on my help to co-regulate them when they are struggling.

I ended up leaving Molly at the retreat, in the loving arms of my friends that are like “Aunties” to my kids, and they wrapped Molly up in their loving care while I went home to deal with the crisis at home. It was a good call. Molly was able to enjoy some extra, much-needed respite, and I was able to help Toby diffuse things at home. The next 24 hours were filled with huge safety issues that resulted in a trip to the emergency room and hospitalization for Ozzie after a series of dangerous behaviors that climaxed with a failed suicide attempt.

It wasn’t the week-long retreat I had hoped for, but I’m grateful for the hours of respite I was able to grab hold of while I could. It was a gift to step out of the storm for a few days, rest, be encouraged by dear friends, focus on some long-overdue self-care, all while enjoying some bonding time with Molly.

It wasn’t a perfect week. I probably wouldn’t even call it a “good” week (there was too much heartache mixed in),  but there were blessings to be found, and those blessings were a gift!

Here’s to recording the moments of our lives…

The good, the bad, and the ugly!

Running the Race

Standard

grit2

It is funny how we tend to hyper-focus on the finish lines of life.

Every met goal is perceived as an ending, when in reality each ending is merely a check-point on the marathon we call life.

This is especially true when we are running a particularly hard leg of the race, like the one we have been running these last few months.

The road leading up to adoption day was full of potholes, pitfalls and roadblocks…far more than we shared with anyone who was cheering us on from the sidelines. It was a wearisome run and by the last mile we were crawling toward the finish line.

You see, in my hopelessly naïve head I thought we just had to make it to adoption day. (You’d think we’d know better!)  Knowing most of the struggles with my three youngest were rooted in fears and anxiety about the adoption failing before it was finalized, I (coming from an untraumatized mindset) thought that the finalization of the adoption would bring feelings of security and felt safety. Exhausted and digging deep for that final push of energy needed to make it to (and through) adoption day, I thought that once we made it to Tuesday I could rest my weary self and enjoy the reward of a race well run.

What I discovered, however, was that as we finalized the adoption, and we prepared to break through the finish line ribbon to the cheers of celebration, the finish line wasn’t where I expected it to be. And I could have cried. Much like a runner who had paced themselves so as to ration out their energy down to the last mile, only to discover they had miscalculated and the finish line was actually five miles further down the road, we arrived home on Tuesday night to find that someone had up and moved the finish line ribbon and we had to keep running.

And we were all tapped dry.

There was nothing left in Toby and I.

I was weary to the point of tears when everything and everyone combusted in an explosion of hard emotions.

It was at that moment that I realized that despite the raw sores on my feet, the lack of tread left on my shoes, and the bone-deep weariness that consumed me, my race was not done. In fact, despite thinking I had reached the finish line, I had actually just begun the real race.

It is those moments in life that test our mettle.

Are we going to quit or will we choose to tap deep and keep running?

The days following our adoption hearing brought emotional “fall-out” as everyone dealt with the crash that follows highly emotional experiences. Tears came more quickly, anger was harder to manage, anxiety left family members doing whatever it took to survive the week, while others who couldn’t manage the heightened anxiety simply ran away.

They ran to prevent others from running first.

They packed their bags and walked out the door before they could be hurt by the actions of others…after all, that is what happened in the past.

I thought adoption day would bring feelings of security, but for a child whose joy following  his first adoption was stolen from him shortly thereafter by the destructive nature of cancer, nothing in this world feels safe or secure.

And if the threat of losing what you want most weighs heavy enough on your soul, you run. And that is what Braden did, and Tyler did, and Ozzie did…multiple times that week.

So, I did the only thing I could do…I followed.

IMG_20190328_084300

It took nine miles and 2 1/2 hours of walking before he believed I wasn’t going to leave him or give up on him.

 I followed to show that we NEVER give up on family,

And to show them that if they chose to run, I would follow them…Always.

Much of my week was spent following runaways in my car as I drove at a snail’s pace behind them, with my hazard lights blinking to warn other drivers of their presence.

I followed for hours and hours and hours…

Testifying to them through my actions that we will never give up on them.

And by following them, I proved my love through my unwillingness to let them flee when family love gets uncomfortable or scary,

Because it will.

Being part of a family is the most blessed gift Heavenly Father has given us on earth, but that doesn’t mean it is always easy, or fun, or comfortable.

Being part of a family means that you choose to keep showing up, keep supporting, keep communicating, keep loving, and keep running the hard race…even when ever fiber of your being wants to quit.

Love is a choice. If it were a feeling it would be as intangible as a giggle or as untouchable as a rainbow, but true love…love built through dirty hands and broken nails and sheer grit…

Well, that is the type of love you can trust.

That is the type of love you build a life on.

That is the type of love our Father in Heaven shows us.

Life is not a sprint, and adoption is REALLY not a sprint. It is a long race, made up of lots of short stretches. Some are scenic, some are hard, and some will do everything short of breaking you,

But the choice to keep running is one we will all have to make time and time again in our lives.

When I find myself getting weary or wanting to quit, or discouraged by the finish line that never seems to manifest over the next horizon, I think of this story and draw strength from its message:

“During the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, John Stephen Akhwari placed last in the marathon, yet major sports magazines named him as one of two “top international Olympians” that year. While losing the race, Mr. Akhwari won the admiration of untold thousands because he embodied the spirit of a true Olympian as he finished despite setbacks.

Track and field athletes that year faced a common challenge when they arrived in Mexico City: its altitude. At 7,350 feet, it was the highest elevation at which any Summer Olympics had been held. From Mbulu, Tanzania, where the altitude is -3.85 feet, Mr. Akhwari suffered leg cramps early in the race. Yet he continued to run.

He collided with another runner and fell, dislocating and badly cutting a knee and injuring a shoulder. He got up and he continued to run.

By sunset, most of his 56 fellow competitors had finished the race. Wounded and in pain, he continued to run. Most spectators had left the arena where the marathon’s finish line was located.

Those who remained noticed lights flashing on a vehicle escorting a lone runner and cheered as the Tanzanian hobbled along the track in his own victory lap to cross the finish line more than an hour after the winner.

It’s doubted that anyone present realized they were witnessing a great moment in the history of the Olympics. Many journalists and people posting on various media have told the story of Mr. Akhwari’s personal victory. In a New York Times article upon the death of Bud Greenspan in 2010 is this account:

“Mr. Greenspan, an eight-time Emmy Award winner, often distilled his view of the Olympics into an incident from the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. He was shooting the marathon, which was won by an Ethiopian, Mamo Wolde.

“But what mesmerized him was John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania. … When Mr. Greenspan asked him why he continued to the end, Mr. Akhwari was incredulous at such a question. ‘My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race,’ Mr. Greenspan often recalled him saying. ‘My country sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race’”

Robert D. Hales spoke of John Akhwari’s determination to finish his race: “He knew who he was—an athlete representing the country of Tanzania. He knew his purpose—to finish the race. He knew that he had to endure to the finish, so that he could honorably return home to Tanzania. Our mission in life is much the same. We were not sent by Father in Heaven just to be born. We were sent to endure and return to Him with honor.

I will choose to continue running the race God has put before me. Not because it is easy, and certainly not because it is always fun,

But because I was not sent here to start the race. My Father sent me here to finish the race.

I will run and run and run this race for love…

Love of my child, love for my family, and because of the infinite love shown to me by my Father in Heaven, who has promised that while this journey may not be easy, it is eternally worth ever step.

Dont+quit

PS- This week’s stretch of road has proven to be smoother.

God is good…Always good!

 

 

Extra, Extra…Read all about it!

Standard

In the excitement of BIG, life changing events here at Patchwork Farm, I have been less diligent in recording the daily living moments that are the molecules that make up our life. In an attempt to remedy this I downloaded all the miscellaneous photos captured on my camera and phone.

Here is the latest and greatest news at Patchwork Farm:

Tyler continues to receive extra reading help as he works to address the struggles associated with his diagnoses of Dyslexia. Currently he is receiving extra reading tutoring two times a week at the Children’s Dyslexia Center of Western Pennsylvania in New Castle, and Barton tutoring every Monday in Wexford. I have been amazed at his progress now that we are using a program created to address the way a dyslexic brain learns. With the help of Miss Jan, his Barton tutor, he just passed level 4 in the Barton program. We are so proud of his efforts and are thrilled to be seeing the fruits of his efforts!

IMG_20190308_061938

Ozzie is now 15. I’m not sure how that is possible, but he insists that it is true. Because his birthday occurred while we were on our trip, and because there wasn’t a spare inch of room in the car to pack the birthday gifts that arrived in the mail from extended family, he enjoyed birthday celebration #2 when we arrived home. He was spoiled rotten by family that love him and know him so well. He couldn’t have been more thrilled with his surprises!

IMG_9270 (3) - Copy
IMG_9272 (2) - Copy

Rusty received the exciting news, upon returning home from vacation, that his application for National Honor Society had been received, considered and approved for membership. He is very excited and we are excited for him. We will be traveling out to Downingtown (on the eastern side of the state) in a few weeks for his induction ceremony. This news is made all the more special by the fact that 21st Century’s NHS president is his own sister. Just as Molly was able to be inducted into National Honor Society by Grace, who was serving as the president of NHS at that time, Rusty will be welcomed into this academic society by Molly who is serving as president this year.

IMG_8950 (2)

This has been an exciting year for Miss Molly who finds herself in the home stretch of her high school journey. This has been a great year for Molly, who has kept busy juggling the multitude of activities and responsibilities associated with senior year. She continues to work part time at Subway with Grace, co-runs the school’s American Sign Language club, participates in debate club and the school’s literary magazine, and is president of NHS. She does this while continuing with her commitment to Ready Yourself Youth Ranch where she volunteers two mornings a week with Grace and Rusty, as well as participating in church activities and early morning seminary.

This year has definitely given her a taste of adulthood and the juggling act that accompanies the privileges of all that freedom. We are happy to say she is balancing it all with great grace.

IMG_8864 (2)

This year has been one of great introspection and exploration as Molly has visited and applied to many colleges and prayed about where Heavenly Father would have her go upon the completion of high school. A decision has been made and we will devote our next blog post to that exciting news!

IMG_8943 (3)

Grace has served as a great example to Molly, as well as Brandon and Rusty (who will be entering their senior year) on how to navigate the transition into adulthood. She is very happy and we are happy for her, despite the fact we only see her in passing. Grace’s schedule is packed to the max with her American Sign Language classes, part time work, church activities and callings, as well as being a rock of stability for our family.

Currently in her ASL classes she is learning protactile interpreting. This form of sign language is used to interpret for individuals who are both deaf and blind. It utilizes a variety of methods to communicate a message and the surrounding atmosphere to a deaf client who is visually impaired.  The methods taught vary, based on the specific needs of the clients. To put this teaching into practice, Gracie’s professor had each of the students bring in an old pair of sunglasses that were altered to mimic different forms and degrees of blindness. The students donned those altered glasses to practice protactile interpreting. This is one of Gracie’s favorite forms of interpreting and she had really enjoyed strengthening this skill. It is neat to see her so engaged and loving this program.

IMG_9269 (2)

In addition to being so happy with her educational pursuits, much of the reason behind her beautiful smile has to do with this young man:

received_1153649528139717

Grace and Zach have known each other for more than a decade, having grown up together at church and having spent much time with the Zach’s sisters who are besties with my girls. It wasn’t until recently that they saw each other through fresh eyes. It didn’t take more than a few dates before they knew they wanted to see more of each other and they have been wearing these sunshiny smiles ever since. We couldn’t be happier. It is always a blessing to see your children happy, and all the more blessed when they find happiness with someone so kind.

received_2093745197383591received_315384469333671

This Saturday we celebrate the happiness Grace so freely shares with the world as we reflect back on the last two decades and celebrate Gracie’s 21st birthday!

I have no idea where the time has gone but what a joyful journey it has been!

Last Saturday we got a jump on her birthday celebration when Zach joined our family (minus Molly who was working that night) for an escape room adventure. In December a deal popped up on Toby’s Groupon feed for an out-of-this-world deal on an escape room in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. He jumped on the deal while it was offered, knowing we would be able to use it for an upcoming birthday celebration. The plan was to make reservations for Grace’s actual birthday, which falls on a Saturday this year, but when we went to book it we discovered it expired the weekend before. Being experts at “Plan B” adventures, we quickly adjusted schedules and headed there last Friday with Zach, to celebrate part 1 of Gracie’s birthday…a week early.

The hours leading up to our escape room date were fraught with high emotions and angsts, and I wasn’t sure if our whole crew was going to make it to the adventure. The heightened anxiety associated with fears that Braden’s adoption day won’t come to fruition have left everyone on edge and extra sensitive. Blow-ups and melt-downs are a regular occurrence and an expected reaction to the anticipation associated with adoption day. Having done this twice before, we are well familiar with the heightened emotions and extreme challenges that accompany the news of an upcoming adoption, so we brace ourselves for the storm. We’ve learned the best strategy is to tighten our life vests, pull the sails taut, and ride the waves till we see land.

We managed to get everyone to the activity, and by the end of the escape room challenge everyone was in a better place emotionally.

It was fun having Zach join our crazy crew as we tried to unlock the mysteries of the space ship we were trapped in, and make our way back to Earth in the 60 minute time frame.

We escaped with time to spare and had a “blast!”  *hee hee*

20190301_200255

So, there you go. Consider yourself up to date and “in the know” with all the news to be told at Patchwork Farm.