Tag Archives: ASL

So, What’s New with You?


It is a question asked often enough, especially with the status of our life currently. Our family is more scattered than it used to be, with everyone moving in separate directions. Often activities posted on the blog only highlight the one or two children that were able to attend that event, so this posting is meant to catch everyone up on the comings and goings of everyone at Patchwork Farm.

Fall has arrived in Pennsylvania and for the last few weeks the leaves have been at the height of color. I feel so blessed to live in an area that experiences seasons and does so in such a showy way. Here are some photos Grace took one day on her drive down our road. It has been a beautiful fall!

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It seems Grace has been in the car more than in the house lately. She has taken the plunge face-first into adulthood and has discovered that it consists of a whole lot of running and very little sleep. Although it has been an adjustment, she has risen to the challenge beautifully and is loving life as a college student. Her days are filled with school, work, and fun activities through her church group. At school she had joined a few clubs including the World Cultures club and the ASL club and is secretary of the library club. As part of that office she was busy this week helping to lead a series of fun Halloween activities offered around campus, including trick or treating and pumpkin painting.

As a member of the Young Adult ward (the congregation of 18-30 year olds) in Pittsburgh she has had fun making new friends, participating in a religion class on Wednesday nights, church on Sunday, and social activities on the weekend.

Two weekends ago they had a temple trip to Washington D.C.,

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And last Friday, in honor of Halloween, the  young ladies had a Harry Potter party. Grace invited Olivia to come and said that the gal who was in charge of the event went all out in her attention to details. Everyone got to make their own wand, using objects like “dragon heartstring” and “unicorn hair.” There were cheat sheets describing the properties of the different choices you had in creating your wand so that each person could make a wand that was reflective of their personality.



There were also Harry Potter decorations,


And Harry Potter treats to snack on.


The girls had a lot of fun!

Molly and Rusty have grown closer as a result of Gracie’s absence. Still in the youth program at church and in the same cyber school for high school, Rusty and Molly are involved in all the same activities and have grown closer as a result. It was hard for Molly to be “left behind” by Grace, who is her best friend, but has found a renewed camaraderie with Rusty who was her best friend when they were little.

Here they are all decked out for a glow in the dark party:

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They also have enjoyed their time volunteering at Ready Yourself Youth Ranch a few mornings a week. It has worked out nicely. Due to the early hour that they volunteer, Grace is free to join them and drive them back and forth before she has to leave for school. They spend their mornings there mucking stalls, moving the horses in and out, feeding everyone and sometimes grooming. This week they learned to drive the tractor used for moving big bales of hay into the different paddocks.


Molly also has been active in a variety of school activities and clubs, including a new school club that she and Tatum have started this year. In an effort to stretch herself without Grace around, Molly decided to head up a school club with her friend Tatum. They are leading an American Sign Language club that will meet every other week. In this club they will be preparing bi-monthly lessons and activities to teach the club members the basics of ASL. Many don’t realize that although Grace is going to school to become an ASL interpreter, sign language is also a passion of Molly’s as well. I know she was a bit intimidated to put herself in a leadership position without Grace by her side but she pushed through her anxiety and has risen to the challenge beautifully. Tatum and Molly had their first club meeting on Monday and it was a smashing success!


My kids all enjoy getting mail and when their birthdays near they are all the more diligent about checking the mailbox. This week they were all thrilled to receive Halloween cards from Mimi and Pop Pop in the mailbox, and Rusty received a birthday gift from Aunt Krista and Uncle Travis. He was thrilled with his new graphic novel, funny stress-ball cat with bulging eyes, and DOG PILE puzzle game!

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With seven people in our family the kids have learned the importance of marking things that you don’t want taken. This is particularly true for leftovers in the fridge or the last few cookies in a package. It is not unusual to open our fridge and see Tupperware containers labeled with names and threats of “Do not eat, or else!” much like a dorm fridge. Tyler however took this paranoia to a whole new level recently when I found this piece of leftover 2×4 on the porch. He clearly thought it was a prime piece of wood and feared someone else snatching it, so he did what we do in situations like that:

He labeled it, clearly marking it as his. 🙂

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We have had many inquiring about Ozzie. My heart is full of joy to report he is doing awesome. Under this higher level of therapeutic care he is delving into the trauma and abuse of his past and working through the hard emotions he finds himself drowning under thanks to EMDR therapy. While there we have seen a huge shift in his behaviors. He won star student of the month for October, has joined the choir, and has passed the certification program that allows him to ride the school’s dirt bikes.

For Halloween the facility holds a huge fall festival for the boys. Because it isn’t possible to allow them to go trick or treating, they plan a fall party for the kids instead. On Halloween they were dismissed from school early and enjoyed an afternoon of games, activities, treats, and fun food to celebrate the holiday. Knowing Ozzie was going to miss getting to trick or treat with the family I sent him a glow in the dark skeleton t-shirt to wear to his Halloween party and make Halloween hands stuffed with candy for him to hand out to all the boys in his unit.

We found out this week that Ozzie  has earned a pass home for the Thanksgiving holiday, something that isn’t normally allowed this early in treatment, because of his exceptional effort and good behaviors. This has truly been God-driven placement with miraculous results. Thank you for all the prayers!


So there you go…a short recap of “What’s New?” with us.

What is new with you?


What a Weekend!!


What a full weekend we had. It was packed to the gills with projects, places to go, and things to do. It was a crazy weekend, but a productive weekend…and boy did we all sleep well Sunday night!

Here is a peek into all the craziness we crammed into a 48-hour period…

Saturday began at 7:00 am. Rusty had a bike ride scheduled with the other young men from church. They planned to meet up at 7:45 and would be gone most of the morning. The plan was to conclude their excursion at the comic book store where an annual basement blowout was being held, offering thousands of comics for only $1.oo/each.

Rusty “rolled” back home around noon, tired and happy, eager to show off his comic book finds.


The big task of the day was canning. A friend from church found a great deal on apples that we couldn’t pass up. We bought two bushels and the plan was to spend the day turning our bushels of apples into applesauce and apple pie filling. When these plans were made I thought I’d have a whole crew of helpers in the kitchen with me for the day, but soon other opportunities began to trump canning, leaving me in the kitchen with a revolving door of helpers coming and going through the day.


My first helper of the day was Tyler. He had a few hours until he needed to leave the house and eagerly jumped on the task of coring and peeling apples for applesauce.


At 10:00 am he had to leave with Toby and the girls jumped into his place as second and third in command.


Tyler and Toby were off to Pittsburgh for some unexpected fun. The previous night, while out with friends, we were offered two free tickets to a Pitt football game at Heinz field. It was decided that Toby would take Tyler. Tyler is by far the biggest football fan in the family and we knew he could use some Daddy/son time after the unsettling week he had had seeing Ozzie leave.

It was just what they both needed. They were able to escape for a few hours and enjoy some mindless fun and male bonding over football and popcorn, and they had a perfect day for it. The weather was beautiful!


At 11:00 am I lost Grace and Molly as canning helpers when they left for an event at Gracie’s school. As part of Gracie’s American Sign Language classes, she must attend a certain number of deaf events each semester. This is something Grace looks forward to and on this particular Saturday her ASL club was hosting a tie-dye activity at the school. Grace decided to invite Molly along. Molly has struggled a bit with the life changes that have occurred in our home lately. The absence of Ozzie and seeing less of Grace due to Gracie’s busy school and work schedule, has left her feeling a bit lost. Noticing this, Grace invited Molly out for a sister date. They made plans to attend the tie-dye activity and then go to Rita’s for an Italian ice after the event was over.

Both girls had a wonderful time. The ASL club had a good turn out and everyone enjoyed getting messy. The club supplied socks for everyone to tie-dye, but participants could bring other items to tie-dye as well. Grace and Molly each brought a pillowcase to color. It was a fun activity for them to share. Molly enjoyed getting to know some of Gracie’s college friends, and enjoyed getting to use some of her ASL skills.


At noon Rusty returned home, thanks to a kind young men’s leader who dropped him off on our doorstop, and then Rusty jumped into the fray of apple canning. At this point I was onto apple pie filling and Rusty helped me peel, core, and slice apples for the pie filling. He was a great help and my efficiency increased significantly with another set of hands in the kitchen.


We also made a large batch of oven dried cinnamon apple slices to enjoy as snacks. As the slices slowly dried in the warm ovens the entire house took on the delicious smell of autumn.


Around this same time Toby was heading back out of Pittsburgh to pick up the girls (after they dropped off Mimi Joy’s car that she graciously lent them for the day) and head up north for Tyler’s equine therapy.

He had another wonderful session on his horse, Smokey, and he enjoyed sharing his experience with Toby and the girls. He is a natural on the horse and we are finding the lessons to be hugely therapeutic.


After lessons Toby and the kids made a quick stop at Baldingers Candy Shop for some sweet treats.


It was now 3:00 pm and things were winding down in the kitchen. The apple slices were dried and the canning was complete. My legs ached and I was covered in dried, sticky, apple juice…but what a satisfying feeling it was to gaze upon the fruits of our labors!


It also happened to be General Conference weekend, a twice annual event in our church where we have the opportunity to hear from leadership in the form of a worldwide broadcast. It is a special weekend comprised of 4 two-hour sessions that we can watch from the comfort of our own home and receive counsel, guidance and uplifting messages from inspired speakers. We try to make it an extra special experience with a fun breakfast, activities, and booklets to help the kids take notes and stay engaged.

On Sunday morning, Rusty volunteered to be in charge of breakfast. He stumbled across a recipe online that he wanted to try. It was peanut butter and jelly French toast…and it was delicious!


While Rusty cooked breakfast, everyone else sat down to write a letter to Ozzie. This will become a regular Sunday task. My plan is to help facilitate connection between the kids through pen pal letters. There is healing that needs to occur and written letters seem a good way to foster a renewed connection in a safe and non-threatening way. The stack of letters will then be mailed one at a time through the week, creating a steady influx of mail for Ozzie, hopefully making him feel of our love and letting him know he is not forgotten.


For General Conference, I printed out our traditional bingo game and filled a bowl with our “prizes,” as well as created note taking doodle packets for the kids to use as they watched.


It was wonderful to spend that time as a family and receive inspired guidance and direction.


Sunday afternoon we also had a visit with Ozzie. It couldn’t have gone any better. He is doing beautifully and this Momma’s heart overflowed with gratitude to see him so at peace. It was a joy to get that time with him to catch up and reconnect.

Sunday night we enjoyed a game night for our Family Night activity. Friends from co-op, who also are avid board gamers, lent us an escape room game they purchased. We love these sorts of games and this one was no exception. We had a blast racing the clock and working as a team to solve the puzzles needed to win the game.


We were successful!

It truly was a non-stop, crazy weekend…

Filled to the brim with busyness…

Filled to the brim with blessings!

Gracie has Decided!



Oh, how my heart has pinched for Grace as she has worked through the process of making her first big life decision… the first of many that will follow.

It was also a test of restraint for Toby and I as we made an effort to really step back and let Gracie work through the decision making process on her own, with little input from us.

She had a hard decision to make as she pondered and prayed over the six acceptance letters she received. She wanted to make sure her goals were in align with God’s plan for her and she spent much time praying over her choices.

The decision was further complicated by the two focuses she feels called to: American Sign Language interpreting and special education. While these two focuses don’t seem too disconnected, she soon found the opposite to be true.

The more she researched these two areas she feels called to, the more she realized there was no simple, easy path to get there. These two majors simply didn’t overlap in any easy, efficient way which meant she would have to pursue this two degrees separately.

The debate then became whether to pursue them simultaneously or back to back. Which led to her second obstacle of finding a school that offers strong programs in both fields.

Oh, how my heart ached for her as she ran into roadblock after roadblock in pursuit of finding the path that would lead to her dream. But I watched and was able to witness the manifestation of the spiritual growth and maturity that has occurred over the last few years as she accepted each roadblock as an answered prayed that that path was not the right one.

The answer to her prayers finally fell into place with our last college visit in the most unexpected place when we visited CCAC. This is not even our county’s community college but we decided to tour it after hearing about their ASL interpreting program. We were able to meet with staff and ASL majors that had completed the program and were working as certified interpreters, and it felt right.

Grace felt at peace for the first time in months. She knew it was where God was calling her to begin her higher education journey.

She will complete a one year ASL certification and two year ASL interpreting program and get her associates degree as an ASL interpreter while simultaneously knocking out all the basic credits she can put toward a bachelor’s degree. We will see where the Lord leads her in three years when she moves on to a four year school to complete her Bachelor’s degree in special education and/or ASL interpreting.

We are so happy for her and so proud of the prayerful way she leads her life in accordance with God’s great plan for her.

And we are so excited to see how the Lord will use her to touch the world.

asl love

We Love You, Gracie!

Our co-op’s got talent!


Wednesday marked the last day of co-op for the year. It is hard to believe our co-op year is over. It feels like just yesterday we were beginning another school year.

The end of co-op always brings a mix of emotions. There is that end of the year excitement that precedes the start of summer break, mixed with a bit of melancholy over the passing of another year. I find that (as a Momma) there is a sense of relief that the school season burdens are beginning to lighten and that another co-op year can be marked down as a success.

Every year we have a co-op talent show in which the kids have the opportunity to share with their peers their talents and interests. Typically this happens at our co-op Christmas party. This year we decided to put off our co-op talent show until the final day of co-op.

Talent show day had finally arrived!


After lunch we gathered everyone in the lunchroom to enjoy the vast amount of talent that exists in this little group. 🙂

Here is a peek at the talents we enjoyed!

Caleigh played “Till there was you” from The Music Man on piano.

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Tatum played “Rordino” by Jean Rameau and “Prelude #7 in B Minor” by Robert  Vandall on the piano.

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Tiernan played “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “O Come Little Children” on the violin.

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Annaliese played (and sang) “First Day” by Bright Eyes on her guitar.

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Olivia played “River Flows in You” on piano.

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Ozzie played “Russian Folk Song” and “Planetarium” on the piano.

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Joanna played “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music on piano.

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Elizabeth performed rabbit showmanship with her bunny, KitKat.

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Saga made us laugh with the jokes she prepared.

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Emily danced to “Let the Fire Fall.”

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Our favorite twins, Alec and Micah, entertained us with their annual comedy show.

And Grace performed “We’re Going to be Friends” in American Sign Language. Molly and Grace have been working hard the last month to learn the ASL signs to this charming little song. They recently had a new friend move into their young women’s group at church who communicates with sign language and they have been participating in a sign language class at church taught by her mother. The girls decided they wanted to learn a song in sign language to share with their new friend, Rachel.

They decided that after the time they put into learning it  they would also use it for their talent at the talent show. Unfortunately on the last day of co-op Molly woke with the flu so Grace had to perform it alone.

She did well even with the last minute loss of Molly.

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(When Molly felt better they recorded it to send to their friend, Rachel.)

To see the full version, as performed by Grace and Molly, click on the link below:

It was a perfect way to end a wonderful co-op year! We will get together again next week when many of us will go together on our annual trek to Kalahari Indoor Water Park. Then again the following week for our co-op’s end of the year picnic.

The school year countdown begins in full force as co-op comes to a close. Only five more weeks until we will all be chanting:

“No more pencils!

No more Books!

No more teacher’s dirty looks!”

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Last day of co-op group hug.

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