Tag Archives: birthdays

Just by the Skin of our Teeth

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It is crazy how much life has changed in the last few weeks. So much is uncertain right now, including Molly’s mission plans. So much is up in the air. For this reason we are grateful we got so much visiting squeezed in over the last few weeks.

Originally, Molly was to be set apart as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this coming Friday…as in 4 days from now. Tickets were purchased for us to fly her out to Utah this Saturday, with plans to spend a few days together in Utah before dropping her off at the Missionary Training Center on April 1st.

Currently the plan is for her to be set apart as a missionary on March 31st with her period of missionary training to begin April 1st in the comfort of her own bedroom. Her MTC experience will be virtual, with her training taking place for 6 hours a day through a virtual classroom. She is scheduled to head to Utah on April 28th to begin her mission, but with things changing worldwide by the hour, we will see where things stand a month from now.

Despite a worldwide pandemic delaying her departure, we are grateful we planned on her leaving at the end of March, because she was able to see many friends and say her good-byes to many loved ones before we went into self-isolated lockdown. Our last few visits were cancelled due to closures that came down the pike over the last week. Our scheduled trip to the temple with Mimi Joy was delayed due to temples being closed. A final visit with Ozzie and G.G. were also delayed due to their facilities locking their doors to visitors. We are hopeful Molly will be able to squeeze those visits in before she leaves…

Whenever that may be.

Here are some of the final visits she was able to enjoy before the world got sick:

On the Sunday before our church canceled meetings and Sunday services, Molly was able to visit the Single’s Ward in Pittsburgh for a final time to say goodbye to friends there:

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On the following Friday Grace hosted a farewell party for Molly with all of Molly’s best buddies from co-op… those childhood friends who are her nearest and dearest soul sisters. They enjoyed an evening of good food, crafts, and time spent reminiscing and loving on each other before a 18 month separation.

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The next day Molly headed to Zach’s family’s house to visit Heather. Zach’s younger sister, Heather, is one of Molly’s best friends and she wanted to make sure they fit in a visit before she left for Utah.

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On Monday we met up with Aunt Beth at Eat n’ Park for breakfast and a catch-up. We all adore Aunt Beth and don’t see nearly enough of her. Molly wanted to make sure we could get together with Beth so she could say good-bye.

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And of course we had our last trip to the Homestead before we went into lockdown. While we were out there we celebrated Gracie’s March birthday and Molly’s April birthday with Mimi and PopPop.  Here are some additional photos of our time in Ohio eight days ago:

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It is crazy how much things have changed in a week!

We are still not sure what will happen over the next month or two with Miss Molly. We will be sure to keep you in the loop. Her uncertainty about upcoming plans is certainly being mirrored by the uncertainty we are all feeling as we navigate unchartered waters,

But we are grateful for the visits she was able to squeeze in before we all hunkered down.

Stay safe, friends!

 

Ozzie is 16…wait, what?!

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As hard as it is to believe, Ozzie is now 16 years old. It is hard to wrap my brain around that fact. In my mind he is forever that awkwardly skinny ten-year-old boy with the chipped front tooth and quick smile. It has been quite the journey for Ozzie to reach this milestone age…

A journey that has been anything but smooth or easy. He has fought hard to get to his today, overcoming a mountain of obstacles along the way…

And we have been part of that climb for the last six years.

I have always felt that one of the greatest gifts God gives us is the inability to see what is coming. He knows what is around the next corner and He graciously protects us from that knowledge until we are capable of facing it. It is a good thing He does. Just consider all of the amazing blessings we would willingly decline if presented with the journey we would have to take to earn those rewards. Instead, He shines the light just far enough ahead for us to feel comfortable taking the next step. Step by step He equips us for the next challenge by placing people in our life to teach us and strengthen us for the next challenge. He builds in us muscles of patience, strength, endurance, fortitude and faith as we tip-toe our way through life, walking just past the edge of where the light shines.

Step by step we move forward, uncertain of our progress until one day we look back and are blown away by how far we have traveled.

It is journey of faithful discipleship that often involves two steps back for every one step forward. It is a journey of faith that is accompanied by tears and tantrums, as we ask God, “Why?” There is a reason that discipleship is referred to as a “walk.” There is nothing passive about Christ’s invitation to “Come, Follow Me.”  It is an invitation to move intentionally. We must make a choice daily to put one foot in front of the other. To not plant ourselves in the middle of the Road to Damascus, but rather to continue shuffling forward even through the weariness of the walk.

This journey of opening our hearts to the hurting has been a deliberate choice and an intentional walk. This does not mean it has always been smooth. Most days are more hard than easy, but most days are also more joyful than jarring.

How grateful I am that when God placed me on this staircase He only showed me the first few steps. I am afraid that had He revealed the entire staircase looming ahead, I would have be paralyzed by the enormity of the climb. He knew that, so He lovingly revealed just enough for me to step forward in faith. He knew the view from the top was a view I wouldn’t want to miss. And he knew that the invitation to climb would be transformative in my own personal growth.

Here we are years later, still climbing, still wheezing from the effort, but enjoying a vista that only can be seen with the effort of a steep climb.

This weekend was one of those moments when I took a break from the climb to simply soak up the view and appreciate the gift that this journey gives. This weekend we celebrated our son. We gave thanks for this monumental birthday and God’s hand in getting him here. We celebrated the healing and the hope and the dreams we have for his tomorrows. Our son is 16-years-old and he got to celebrate the anniversary of his birth into the world surrounded by family that loves him.

Ozzie’s birthday plans had to be adjusted slightly from our original plans. Concerned for his ability to navigate the emotions of the weekend effectively, his therapist felt a day pass, rather than a weekend pass, was a better fit for his big day. Ozzie was disappointed  as he was hoping to attend the International Auto Show in Pittsburgh, but this momma had something even better in the works. I wasn’t going to allow that news to ruin my boy’s 16th birthday, so plans were made to make our Plan B better than his Plan A.

Ozzie’s newest obsession is model trains. I say “obsession” with great love, because Ozzie is a kid that doesn’t pursue any interest or hobby casually. He is an “all in” sort of kid, and his love of model railroads is no different. It is a newly developed hobby but he is already an “expert!” He has researched this hobby extensively, checked out library books, subscribed to model railroader magazine and spoke extensively with model railroad enthusiasts. After spending hours researching the different model options, and sketching out possible designs, he is ready to start building.

His vision is to fill our basement with raised tables and miles of track, a dream we explained we would approach slowly and deliberately after he asked Toby to pick up 30 sheets of plywood from Home Depot so that he can begin building.

Instead, the first purchase we decided on was some track and a few cars, and we decided that would be his birthday gift from us. Rather than shop for his birthday gift online, we decided to make part of his gift the experience of shopping for his gift, and he got to do that at a model train convention that was being held in New York.

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When looking for something fun to do in Erie last weekend, my research led me to information about a huge model railroad convention being held an hour away in western New York. We couldn’t wait to surprise Ozzie with the news of his birthday plans. I knew he was going to be over-the-moon excited…

And he didn’t disappoint!

Molly, Rusty, Tyler and I headed north on his big day to celebrate the big 1-6 with Oz. Braden wasn’t in a place emotionally that he could handle the visit so Toby stayed home with him while the rest of us ventured north. We picked up Ozzie, surprised him with his traditional birthday cupcake and birthday song in the parking lot and then started driving. When we arrived at our chosen destination Ozzie was still puzzled as to our plans.

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That is, until we walked in and he saw what was inside the convention center. Stretching before him were booth after booth of model railroad displays.

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Some were advertising local clubs, others were selling their wares, but all offered what Ozzie was looking for: information!

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He spent three hours canvasing the place, asking questions, and lovingly fondling the miniature trains…

Examining them with his eye for detail and carrying on a running narrative of each item’s history and details.

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When he found out he had the $50.00 we were going to spend on his birthday gift to spend on the starting pieces of his set, he was ecstatic.  We then re-circled the convention center for the fourth time, this time with Ozzie viewing each display through the lens of a shopper with money to burn.

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The other kids were grateful that the convention also offer antique toys for sale, as it offered a break from all the train displays that held zero appeal for the other kids.  It was fun looking at toys from the 1940’s-1980’s. Memories rushed forth as we stumbled across iconic toys from my own childhood.

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Eventually Ozzie made his choices. He used his money to buy three train cars and a bundle of track. If I was really a good momma I’d be able to tell you what train cars he bought and what scale he decided on. But alas, I am not that good. All I know is that two train cars were blue and one was yellow. Next time you see Ozzie, be sure to ask him about his model railroad purchases and he will give you all the details!

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It was an unconventional birthday celebration (as Ozzie’s usually are) but it was a perfect 16th birthday celebration for Ozzie who declared this birthday celebration the “Best One Yet!”

Happy Birthday, Ozzie. We love you!

 

The Gift of Friends

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It is not easy being the new kid.

I know this from personal experience.

As the child of an Army officer, my first 18 years of life were spend relocating to a new school, new town, new state, (and even occasionally a new country) every few years. I know the feeling of anxiety that accompanies walking into a new school, uncertain of what this new chapter will hold, just praying for one kind face that will invite you to sit at their lunch table.

Being the “new kid” is never easy, but despite the initial anxiety that accompanied every move, I loved the Army lifestyle. It wasn’t until I had to move between 10th and 11th grade that I really struggled, for as hard as it is to be the “new kid” at work, at church, or in the neighborhood, nothing is quite so scary as walking into a new high school and trying to find your place in the teenage hierarchy.

As I have watched Brandon adjust to life with us, he astounds me with his cheerful acceptance of a very hard life transition.

For as challenging as every move was when I was a child, his is far more challenging. When I moved to a new state I at least had the security of family and the familiar possessions that created a consistent feeling of HOME, wherever we were transplanted.

He, on the other hand, moved in with little to nothing of his own, leaving behind the familiar and stepping into the role of “new kid,” at home, at church and in a new high school.

And he did so with no complaint, with abundant gratitude, and astounding grace.

He made the transition with no complaint about the challenges of starting over once again, but simply gratitude for the opportunity to start again…

In a new home with his brother.

He is no stranger to new beginnings or heartbreaking endings. After he was removed from his biological home at age 7 he was shuffled through 15-20 foster placements. Adoption at the age of 12 was followed by the death of his new adoptive mom and then the declining heath of his adoptive Dad that then led to multiple group home placements.

He is no stranger to the feelings of being the “new kid,” and yet he never complains about the challenges that have come with it,

But I know it isn’t easy.

I’ve been there.

Which makes me all the more grateful for the families and youth at church who have opened their hearts to our newest addition and made him feel as though he belongs and is wanted. Their kindness to my son touches my heart in a way they will never truly understand.

Last Saturday we had a birthday party for Brandon. He had expressed that he had never had a birthday party with friends before, so we made plans to invite all the youth from church over for a bonfire.

Brandon was so excited!

The day was spent preparing for the party as we cleaned up the yard, cut wood for the bonfire, and bought and prepared food.

Brandon’s plans for the evening included eating, hanging out around the fire, and playing night games for hours with his new friends.

At 7:00 the first car pulled in and many more followed. I was touched by the showing of youth who came out on a very cold night to play in the dark and make Brandon feel welcome and loved. I know it was a sacrifice for many who had other things they could have been doing in the warmth of their homes,

but their sacrifice makes it all the more meaningful.

They wrapped Brandon in the warmth of their friendship, making him feel special rather than like another “new kid” who will eventually leave again.

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They demonstrated Christ-like love and it touched my heart.

After everyone left, and we were carrying in the food and trash, Brandon stopped us in the kitchen to give Toby and I a hug.

“Thank you for my party,” he said.

“I love you.”

There in the kitchen of our home our newest addition spoke those precious words for the first time, not by automatic response, nor out of obligation, but from his heart with sincerity and conviction.

And that ended up being the greatest gift of the night.

Celebrating Birthdays at the Homestead

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Saturday wasn’t the first time my parents met our newest addition. It was actually Brandon’s second time visiting their home. The first visit occurred a month and a half ago, following our visit to the University of Akron. At the time I just had Rusty, Molly and Brandon with me and thought that the dynamics of only three (calm) kids would help lessen the anxiety and awkwardness of the initial meeting.

That meeting went beautifully and by the time we left it felt as though Brandon had always been a member of the family.

This time we had the entire family with us when we drove out for Brandon’s second visit to my parent’s home, affectionately referred to as “The Homestead.”

This visit was in conjunction with Rusty’s birthday weekend with my folks.

For each of the kids’ birthdays my parents invite them out for a weekend of fun and frivolity. The weekend is spent doing all their favorite things with their grandparents and my kids love getting the opportunity to be an only child for a few days.

Last Friday I drove out to Ohio to drop off Rusty for his birthday weekend, and on Sunday we all returned to pick him up and celebrate our family’s fall birthdays with Mimi and Pop Pop. Our drive coincided with General Conference, so thanks to the benefits of modern technology we were able to listen to the leaders of our church speak and council us (via Toby’s phone) while we made the 2 hour scenic drive to Wooster, Ohio and back home again.

Because we aren’t able to see my parents as often as we were able to when life was less crazy and when they lived closer, we tend to clump our birthday celebrations by season, celebrating all of our winter, spring, summer and fall birthday together in one shared party at my parent’s farm.

This gathering was a chance to celebrate Tyler, Rusty, and Brandon’s birthdays.

When we arrived we found the Homestead decorated for autumn.

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We headed for the barn where we took advantage of a beautiful day to eat and celebrate in the barn, before cold temperatures and snow drive us into the house for the winter months.

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Our celebration began with a picnic lunch,

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And after lunch the boys were allowed to open their gifts from Mimi and Pop Pop.

You could see that Brandon was touched to be included and remembered with Rusty and Tyler.

My parents did and amazing job at picking gifts perfect for each boy. Rusty received a Lego set, Tyler received an inflatable football practice dummy and new football, and Brandon received a Spikeball set…

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Which we had fun trying out.

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It was a wonderful, relaxing afternoon. We played board games, tossed the ball, visited with the farm animals and became better aquatinted as a family.

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It was a practically perfect day on the farm!

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Molly Turns 17!

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Molly is 17!

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We woke to snow on her birthday!

 

Early spring is a busy time at Patchwork Farm as we celebrate three birthdays in a row with Ozzie, Grace, and Molly’s birthdays each falling a month apart.

This birthday began as all birthdays do here at Patchwork Farm with an early morning wake-up serenade and cake for breakfast.

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This year was a bit different, however, due to an unusually packed Friday. Grace was on the schedule to work, Toby was at work, and I had committed myself to a two day simulcast conference…something I was struggling to remain committed to after Ozzie woke up itching for a fight.

Holidays are hard for Ozzie. Birthdays, in particular, are hard for Ozzie. Through therapy we have discovered that the motive behind the sabotage that often occurs on other’s birthdays are result of hard feelings he has about memories of his birthdays in his birth home. They were not nice and he struggles with feelings of anger and resentment towards the parents that stole his childhood from him. When he sees another one of our children being celebrated and loved he feels threatened and fears that by them receiving, he is losing out. What he deals with is not unique for kids from a trauma background, but it does make holidays and birthdays hard. I struggle to find the balance in addressing his trauma triggers while still protecting the birthday child from Ozzie’s efforts to sabotage and derail their special day.

This is why I was so worried when I committed to spend 8 hours of Molly’s birthday outside the home and leave Ozzie home with the other children. It was only the prompting of the Holy Spirit and hope that through this conference we would get much needed help and direction with the crisis at home, that I left the house for the day.

But, even with many prayers prayed, I hedged my bets with a special deposit in Molly’s love tank before I left for the day in hopes that even if things derailed in my absence the day would not be a complete washout.

My solution: an early morning breakfast with Molly before I left and before her school day began. I took her to Eat n’ Park for the breakfast buffet, where we enjoyed a very special hour of waffles, bacon, and one-on-one time before our day began.

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The conference was life changing and I recognized God’s hand in leading me there as soon as the first speaker began talking (more on that in the next blog.) Meanwhile everyone survived at home.

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That evening we enjoyed a family dinner. Molly requested spaghetti pizza, salad and garlic bread.

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We also has “fancy “soda, which then evolved into a concert of epic proportions when the empty soda bottles were turned into musical instruments.

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Gracie got home from work at 9:00 and we celebrated Molly’s birthday as a family with cake and gifts.

Everyone had put much thought into their gifts for Molly. As is tradition, the gifts were given from youngest to oldest. Tyler gave Molly three new lipsticks that he picked out himself.

Ozzie bought her a Bambi pillow.

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He was thrilled that she was thrilled.

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Rusty bought Molly the Disney movie, The Princess and the Frog.

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Grace was excited to give Molly the gift she had been working on for quite a while. She decided she wanted to paint Molly a painting that was reflective of Molly. She decided to combine this with their shared love of American Sign Language and paint her the sign of a word that describes Molly, and then finger spell her name at the bottom. Gracie’s biggest struggle with this project was to decide which adjective best describes Molly. She came to me with a list, hoping for help deciding. In the end she chose the word, “Special.”

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The gift was received with as much love as it was given.

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Molly was touched to tears.

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Our gift was also a hit, although much less sentimental and a lot more practical. For Molly’s 17th birthday she received her first cell phone. In our family we have the rule that ownership of a cell phone comes only with a need for a cell phone. Which means: a driver’s license or a job. Molly now meets the prerequisites which means she is now the owner of her first cell phone. She was very excited.

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The next day we enjoyed the birthday activity that couldn’t happen on her actual birthday due to our crazy schedules that day. We surprised her with tickets for the family to go see “Shrek: The Musical” at Lincoln Park, a performing arts high school near us.

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It was so much fun. The caliber of talent was exceptional. The costumes, backdrops, and use of puppetry were unreal. It was hard to believe that we were watching high school students. Molly loved it!

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Even the little boys enjoyed themselves. There were just enough 10-year-old boy jokes sprinkled in to make a play enjoyable for them as well.

Happy birthday, Miss Molly. I hope you had a good day!

 

 

Molly is the big 1-5 !

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“Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday, dear Molly. Happy Birthday to you!”

This is how we began our day… waking Miss Molly with song and cake. She is now 15.

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This year I struggled with what to get her. Rather than a gift, I really wanted to give her an experience…

but I wasn’t sure what that experience should be. Then it came to me.

What better gift, for the sweet girl who is always loving and serving and caring for others, than a day of pampering!

The theme for the day was “Spa Day for Molly.”

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Before she woke we decorated the dining room. She wanted a full length mirror for her bedroom so that became the table runner and we topped it with a Caboodle full of pampering treats:

Scrubs, lotions, nail polish, fun teen magazine, chocolates, etc.

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Our gift was a hit, and so was the day.

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We told her that the day was about her. She had the day off from all responsibilities and would be pampered. It was fun loving on and spoiling this special girl who is always loving on and spoiling everyone else.

Pedicure time!

Pedicure time!

And facials :)

And facials 🙂

In the evening we met up with Mimi Joy for dinner at Molly’s dinner choice location:

Chick-fil-A.

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She enjoyed her chicken dinner and then Mimi treated all the kiddos to ice cream cones.

Ice cream and kisses from Mimi Joy.

Ice cream and kisses from Mimi Joy.

We then headed to the movies to watch “Home.”

Well, some of us did. Ozzie was having a rough time. He struggles with holidays and birthdays and the closeness and bonding they bring. Rather than let him sabotage Molly’s special day with his tantrum I just drove him home and put him to bed while the rest of the family stayed for the movie. Luckily we had planned for that possibility and drove two cars there.

When everyone was back home and the little boys we in bed we ended the day with Molly’s birthday treat. Rather than a traditional birthday cake she requested cotton candy for her birthday dessert.

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Last year Toby bought me a cotton candy machine for my birthday. We had yet to try it out so Molly’s birthday provided a perfect excuse to pull it out and give it a try.

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It was very neat! To make the cotton candy you can either use traditional flossing sugar or you can use hard candy. We chose to use Jolly Ranchers. You place two pieces of candy in the center of the machine and it heats up and spins it into cotton candy.

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So cool!!

It was a perfect way to end Molly’s special day.

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My sweet girl is now 15. What a joy she has been to our family.

Earlier in the day we did a birthday interview for her scrapbook. here are some fun facts about Miss Molly that you may not know:

Favorite color: Peach.

Favorite book: The Maze Runner Series.

Favorite thing to do when she has an hour to herself: surfing Pinterest.

Fears include spiders and the dark but greatest fear: being alone.

Talents include: talking to people and writing stories.

The one talent she wishes she had: be a confident public speaker.

Favorite food: spaghetti pizza.

Favorite dessert: frozen yogurt or cotton candy.

Favorite childhood memory: going to “camp McKeesport” for swimming and egg salad sandwiches.

#1 played song on her iPod: “One step closer” by Shane Harper.

Favorite smell: vanilla or the smell of morning dew on the lawn.

If she could go on vacation anywhere in the world: Africa.

Her favorite chore: cleaning her bedroom.

Her least favorite chore: cleaning out the fridge.

What she dreams of doing when she grows up: write a book, get married and have children, work with the elderly, have lots of animals (especially goats), ride an elephant, and learn to play guitar.

The last movie that made her laugh: Big Hero 6

The last movie that made her cry: Christmas shoes.

Favorite quote: “Work for the cause, not for applause. Live to express, not to impress. Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just to make your absence felt.” -Unknown

Happy birthday, sweet girl, we love you bunches!

Ozzie turns 11!

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All I have to do, to measure the amount of “struggle” in my week, is to look back on the number of blog postings for the week. In the midst of those really hard “adoption road” days I find myself shying away from the computer, uncertain of what to write, how much to share, and how honest to be. I notice that it has been over a week since I last posted and I can reflect back and see why. Although I strive to be real and honest about the peaks and valleys of this adoption road I also try to end, even the really REAL posts, with a note of hope. When I struggle with finding the hope, I struggle with sharing the story.

Perhaps in the future I will be in a place where I can openly share the very hard crisis moments we had this week, but for now I will simply focus on the blessings that have come in the last few days…

This weekend we had the opportunity to celebrate Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and Ozzie’s 11th birthday. These holidays, in combination with bitterly cold temperatures, kept us hunkered down for a few days.

Saturday (Valentine’s Day) was spent helping the kids make Valentine’s Day boxes for co-op, filling out Valentine’s Day cards, and catching up on things around the house. Toby and I ended up postponing our Valentine celebration and our gift exchange until Tuesday when we had a sitter for Ozzie.

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On a side note:

Tuesday was the first tween adoption support meeting for Ozzie. Our social worker suggested it might be a helpful resource and shared the information with us. Once a month our adoption agency has a dinner and group meeting for adopted tweens 12 and under. The eat a meal together, play games that help with social skills, and have discussions about topics pertinent to them. For the parents of the adopted child that means 2 hours to go out to dinner with your spouse, connect, and talk uninterrupted. This was our Valentine’s dinner night.

Ozzie had a great time and did really well. Toby and I enjoyed the 2 hour break. It was wonderful to be able to celebrate US, recommit to each other, laugh and cry about the struggles, and remember why we are doing this. We will definitely continue doing this!

On Saturday we also did our yearly measuring. Every Valentine’s day the kids get measured and their heights are marked on the hallway wall. We have made this a holiday tradition simply so I have a greater likelihood of remembering to do it annually. The kids all look forward to this tradition and are always eager to see how they “measure up” to their siblings and their previous marks on the wall. This year was Ozzie’s second mark and Tyler’s third. It was fun to see the growth.

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Rusty won for biggest growth spurt.

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Poor Grace…not so much. She was just happy to see her line move slightly upward. Now it is simply a waiting game to see if Grace or Ozzie will end up being the shortest family member in the end. 🙂

Monday was President’s Day, which meant the day off of school. It was also Ozzie’s 11th birthday. The day began with our family tradition of waking Ozzie with a cupcake and the family singing “Happy Birthday.” He was thrilled to get to eat a cupcake for breakfast.

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The day was a quiet, stay at home day. It was wonderful to have a “recharge our batteries” sort of day after a few hard days.

When Toby arrived home we had Ozzie’s favorite meal for dinner: tacos!

He asked that we rent a movie and have family movie night so we rented the movie “Planes: Fire and Rescue” to watch. It was so nice snuggling on the couch with my whole family at home: warm and safe.

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After the movie we moved back into the dining room for cake and ice cream. Earlier in the day Tyler helped me bake a homemade chocolate cake for Ozzie. We used the recipe my mom used when we were kids. Watching Tyler lick the chocolate beaters brought back such “sweet” memories. 🙂

Tyler helped me buy ingredients earlier in the week. One request Tyler had was to buy trick candles that relight themselves after being blown out. Tyler was all giggly as we laid the cake before Ozzie. He couldn’t hold back his laughter as Ozzie watched, puzzled, at the candles that kept lighting and relighting.

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Eventually it took a team of candle blowers to put out the fire. 🙂

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After cake and ice cream we opened gifts. Ozzie enjoyed the fun mix of thoughtful gifts that his siblings bought/made him. His gift from Toby and I were some Lego sets.

We kept Ozzie’s birthday small and intimate this year. I see the struggle we are in at the moment and know that the chaos of a big party or celebration would only be detrimental at this point. Our little family party was a perfect way to celebrate our son without overwhelming him emotionally.

Happy 11th birthday, Ozzie. We love you.

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Happy birthday,Toby!

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We had a weekend of celebrations! Friday was our 16 year anniversary and Sunday was Toby’s birthday. I had a lot to be grateful for this weekend as I celebrated this wonderful man who God has brought into my life and blessed me with! When I asked Toby what he wanted for his birthday he told me that what he wanted most was a day at home where we didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything. Things have been busy this past year with appointments, inspections and social worker visits so I could understand Toby’s desire for a quiet day. After church we can home and presented him with his birthday gift..”A lazy day kit.” We bought a popcorn bucket and filled it with 2 movies, his favorite snacks and drinks and the remote for the TV and told him to enjoy! It was a wonderful day. We all put on our PJs and snuggled on the coach while watching the new OZ movie and then The Hobbit. We enjoyed them both. For his birthday cake Toby requested angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream. It was a wonderfully relaxing day and just what we needed as we head into a busy week.

This week is our big planning week before we head off on two back to back trips. Next week the girls and I will be going to girls camp together. We have gone the last 3 or 4 years and it is the highlight of our summer. It is a special time to get away from the noise and craziness of life and enjoy the peace and beauty of nature and  some girl time together. I am going as a counselor for the 18 year-old-girls as well as serving as one of the chaperones for the girls I work with at church so this is a busy planning week for me. I have been busy planning crafts, packing our supplies, making pillow treats for my girls and shopping for the items sold at the camp store that is run by my 7th year girls.

Pillow treat for camp.

Pillow treats for camp.

The day after we return from camp we are leaving to spend a week at the Jersey Shore with Toby’s cousin, Mark and his family. It should be a lot of fun and we are all looking forward to it. I am trying to start packing for that trip this week as well so that when we get back on Saturday from camp all I will need to do is wash our dirty camp clothes and repack them for our next adventure.

Some other news from Patchwork Farm:

Gracie used some of her babysitting money to order a guitar from Amazon. It came today!

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Last Thursday Rusty had testing for Taekwondo to see if he will advance to yellow belt. One of the tasks he had to accomplish was to break his first board. He did it! He was very excited and we will find out soon whether he advances to the next belt.

Rusty's first broken board!

Rusty’s first broken board!

Gracie had some exciting news from her orthodontist. Every year her orthodontist makes a calendar to hand out and he uses pictures that are submitted by his patients. They have to be “braces” themed and the top 12 designs make it in the calendar. Gracie was thrilled to find out she made the calendar again. She worked very hard on her design. She did a “Finding Nemo” design with Dory wearing braces. As a result of her winning she received a gift card to Yumberry frozen yogurt. Yum!

Gracie's calender entry..

Gracie’s calendar entry..

Tyler has learned his phone number! I have been trying to work with Tyler this summer on learning some skills that we never had time to focus on this past year like how to tie shoes, spelling his new last name, learning his phone number, etc. To learn his number I put the numbers of our phone number on index cards and mixed them up and he would have to arrange them in the right order. After playing this game for a few days he’s got it!

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The McDonald’s Play Place is going up! Last summer the McDonald’s near us was undergoing a complete renovation so they hired an auction house to do an online auction of everything in the restaurant. Toby found it online and over the course of a few days of bidding ended up winning the play place. We didn’t have a chance over the winter to put it up so it is beginning to go up now. The kids are very excited about its completion!

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We began a writing project with the kids last week. In an effort to work on composition skills and to make writing fun for my kiddos that don’t enjoy writing I have had them begin an “All about me” journal. We picked up new journals at the beginning of the summer and I created a list of questions that I printed out, cut into strips and placed in a jar. Each day the kids take turns pulling out a question and answering it in their journal. My rule is that they have to write at least as many sentences as the grade they are entering. For Molly that rule is unnecessary..she LOVES to write. Yesterday the question was: “List 5 things you look forward to doing when you are an adult.” It was fun to hear their responses..

Molly said:

“I will be able to eat whipped cream from a can, have any animal I want.. like a pet monkey, have my own phone, and take as long as I want shopping because nobody will be rushing me.” (Her poor husband.. 🙂 )

Grace said:

“”Being able to travel around the world, be an aunt (a fun aunt!), drive a car, and buy limeaid and drink it all by myself.”

Rusty said:

“Being able to stay up late, go to the grocery sore and buy whatever food I want, and go to Disney World.”

It was fun getting to hear what they thought being an adult was all about. 🙂

For Rusty's one on one time we had fun with a spirograph that someone passed down to us.

For Rusty’s one on one time we had fun with a spirograph that someone passed down to us.

 

In other news..We have begun preparing for Tyler’s adoption. We are only a month away! We have family coming into town to join us at the courthouse for the finalization of Tyler’s adoption so we have been trying to figure out what to do to celebrate. Tyler said he wants to have a party with a bonfire and he wants Simon and his other friends to be there. He also asked if his brother could come. He has a visit with his biological brother today so I know his brother has been on his mind a lot this week. I told him I would see what I could to about having his brother come but I’m not sure if the county would allow it. That was enough to satisfy Tyler. As he walked away he looked back at me and said with a smile, “I’m excited about being born, Momma.”

 Me too, Tyler..me too!