Tag Archives: college

Counting Our Blessings

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This Thanksgiving was untraditional in a lot of ways. As a family we are navigating some uniquely stressful and triggering challenges that we are unable to share with others for the time being. This Thanksgiving was reflective of that. We were not in a position that traveling to visit family was an option. The fact that Molly was unable to come home for the holiday, Grace was now a married woman, and Ozzie was only being given a 24 hour home pass meant that Thanksgiving would be different this year.

Rather than mourn the loss of what couldn’t be, or focus on the struggles of this season, we chose to embrace the weekend in an untraditional way, with new traditions this year.

Our holiday weekend began when we picked up Ozzie on Wednesday night. Because he would only be home for one night, we decided to make the most of his time at home and fit in as much fun as possible. We began with a trip to the movies.

Ozzie’s “gotcha day” falls on November 22nd. This is the anniversary of his adoption day, and like the other two boys, we celebrate “gotcha days” by allowing the adoptee to pick an activity that allows us to celebrate this special day in our family’s story. Ozzie was not at home this year on his “gotcha day” so we delayed his celebration a week and celebrated Wednesday night with a trip to the movies.

We went to see Ford vs Ferrari. 

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This movie has been on Ozzie’s wish list ever since seeing the ads for it. Anyone who knows Oz knows that he is obsessed with all things car and NASCAR related, so this movie was right up his alley! Needless to say, he was thrilled when he found out the plans for the evening. I knew Ozzie would love the movie but was surprised how much the rest of us enjoyed it. It was an amazing movie!

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Ozzie declared it the best movie he had ever seen.

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The following morning we woke up and began Thanksgiving preparations. Zach picked up Braden and Tyler for some Turkey Bowl football fun with the guys from church. Toby headed out for a morning of metal detecting at our local park, and Ozzie and Rusty stayed behind with me to help bake while we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This year we weren’t eating Thanksgiving dinner with family or at home. Instead we were joining forces with Gracie’s in-laws and others for a Thanksgiving celebration at church. This ended up being a great blessing. The complete diversion from our traditional celebration made the situation bearable and even blessed. The food was wonderful (There was so much of it!) and the company even better! We were so busy feasting, fellowshipping and playing board games that I never captured a photo of the festivities…

A sure sign everyone was enjoying themselves.

At the end of the meal Toby and I made the five-hour, round trip trek to return Ozzie to his RTF and ourselves back home to bed.

Molly was also experiencing a different sort of Thanksgiving. Since a plane trip home for a long weekend wasn’t realistic, she was invited to spend Thanksgiving with a roommate’s family. Katrina is one of Molly’s eight roommates and her “bestie” out in Idaho. She invited Molly to join her family in Utah for Thanksgiving and Molly gratefully accepted. We were glad that Molly had someplace to spend the holiday and we were so thankful to Katrina’s family for being Molly’s holiday parents in our absence.

Molly had a wonderful Thanksgiving and sent us photos of her adventures in Utah, including:

A Thanksgiving 5K run,

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Baking pies with Katrina,

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A snowy trip to the temple,

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A BYU basketball game,

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And lots of fun, family/friend time!

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It was tough having Molly away for Thanksgiving but good preparation for the next adventure that is in store for Miss Molly. She has prayerfully decided to take a sabbatical from school and serve a mission for the Lord that will take her far from home for 18 months. She sent us this screen shot of her completed application and now we wait and see where the Lord will send our sweet girl.

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Oh, there is so much happening in and to our family and I find myself reeling a bit from the whiplash of so many changes occurring at once. I have to remind myself to keep on breathing and trusting God’s hand and plan in our life story.

We may not know how this chapter will end but we know how our story will end…

He had already penned the final paragraph,

and with God as the divine author, it promises to be a perfect ending.

 

 

 

BYU-I Good-byes

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After a week-long trek across the United States, the day had finally arrived. It was time to get Molly settled into her new home and take our leave. We couldn’t delay the inevitable any longer!

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We woke on Friday morning with the mix of emotions evident on each and every face. As we prepared for the day ahead of us I tried to keep things light and focus on the fun and adventure of this new experience, but my efforts were overshadowed by palpable anxiety and the weight of grief. As hard as this day would be for Rusty, Molly and I, it was nothing to the overwhelming feelings of loss Braden was battling.

Despite reassurances that Molly would only be gone until Christmas and then we would get her home for four months until she returned for her spring semester, he still struggled. For him, as illogical as it may seem, this was just another loss in a long line of losing people he loves. It has been his experience that once you open your heart to someone, they will leave you… either to drugs, death, prison, or by simply being pulled from your life by the very system that is there to protect and preserve. Even though this experience was nothing like the losses of his past, the emotions felt all too similar, thus triggering thoughts of previous losses that were all too final.

It was with much prayer, compassion, and tenderness that we moved into the day.

Our first stop of the day was Molly’s new home. Rather than stay in a more traditional apartment style dorm, she opted to rent a room in a cute bungalow just six minutes from campus center.

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She would be sharing this charming home with eight roommates, many of whom we met as we unloaded her gear from the car.

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The boys were a big help as we toted in all Molly’s clothes, books and decorations.

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Molly’s room is a single. For a slightly higher monthly payment Molly opted to pay to have the room to herself. She felt this would be the best for her first semester. This way she can enjoy the comradery of shared living spaces with her eight roommates, but also would have a private space to escape to when she needs to be alone.

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Her room was generously large…far bigger than it seemed in the photos…

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And we soon set to work unpacking her boxes and turning her room into a home, with pictures and personal touches.

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The end result was nothing short of charming!!

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She has a large closet, a dresser, an elevated bed with storage below, a bookcase, and a desk area for studying.

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It is so cute and homey.

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Our next stop was Walmart to stock her kitchen cabinets until she gets into a routine of weekly grocery shopping. We arrived at Walmart to find every parking spot filled with new students and their families. I am not exaggerating when I say it was like Black Friday inside, with aisles filled to capacity and every register manned by a frazzled looking clerk.

We loaded up her cart with student-friendly food and made our way to the other side of the store to pick up a plastic storage tote and a footstool for climbing into bed.

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Then we navigated our way to the front where an employee was guiding customers through a maze of caution tape to the next open line. I am not kidding when I say it was like Black Friday shopping!

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We made it out alive and headed back to her apartment where we unloaded her groceries into her assigned kitchen cabinets…

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Then we headed over to campus to take care of some student tasks.

Our first stop was to check her in at the “Get Connected” tent where she was assigned her student mentors that would guide her through the next two days of activities. Here she also received her welcome booklet that spelled out all the fun being offered over the weekend.

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Then we began working our way through the “to-do” list for new freshman, including getting her student ID and picking up her preordered books from the bookstore.

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Then we split ways for a few hours as she joined up with her mentoring team for some new student activities like a welcome from the university president, a campus tour, meeting with the heads of each department, etc.

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While Molly was busy with the other freshman, Braden, Rusty and I grabbed lunch, perused the University Bookstore, and took advantage of a college tour. One of the primary reasons the boys accompanied Molly and I on this road trip was so they could tour the school and see if they might be interested in attending BYU-I themselves.

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By the time we were done with our campus tour, Molly was done with her scheduled activities. We met up in the Student Commons to get in line for the parent/student luau.

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The plan was to take our leave after a fun luau dinner with Miss Molly. It was a popular event, with the line to get in wrapping all around the commons.

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When it was our turn to go through the buffet line we were blown away by the spread of delicious Hawaiian fare.

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We were then seated in the ballroom to enjoy our meal,

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While being entertained by Polynesian dancers who were AMAZING!!

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At the end of the luau Molly walked with us back to the car to say her good-byes. I thought I was doing a superb job of holding it together until Braden started to cry, a lifetime of past losses written on his face as he had to say good-bye to another person he loves…

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Not quite believing she will return home again.

Oh, how my heart ached as my kids’ faces were dampened with tears. As hard as it was to say good-bye, I couldn’t help but marvel at the great blessing evident in those tears. Those tears are evidence of loving attachment and connection between family members that were strangers just a year ago.

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This is what every adoptive parent prays for, especially when adopting a child with a history of trauma and previous displacements. You open your heart and home hoping one day they will feel safe enough to open their heart to the love you offer. It is a day by day journey toward connection and attachment, and moments like this (as heartbreaking as they are) tell me we are finding some measure of success.

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We took our leave, reminding ourselves that we will see Molly in a month for Gracie’s wedding, and headed back to our hotel room.

After a week’s worth of travel we were out of clean clothes, so I left the boys at the hotel to numb themselves in front of the TV, while I headed to the laundromat down the street.

I didn’t indulge in the luxury of being present in my own grief until that moment. I was far too invested in the well-being of my kids, making sure everyone was successfully navigating their own hard emotions. It wasn’t until I found myself alone that the reality of it all hit and the tears bubbled up.

For two hours I sat alone in a coin operated laundromat, finding solace in the isolation…

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Finally able to reflect on the last week…

And the last 19 years that led up to this day.

This is what we raise them for.

As parents we strive to first give them roots…deep, deep roots that will hold them upright through the most turbulent and trying seasons of life.

And then we strive to give them wings…wings strong, and nimble, and capable of flight, so that when they finally take that leap, out of the protective nest we built for them, we can enjoy the breath-stealing sight of watching them soar.

Soar, Miss Molly!

Your are a magnificent sight to behold!

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“I’m fine,” she told herself…

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I feel as though I’m suffering from an emotional hangover…

Too many feelings squeezed into too short a period of time,

With all of the residual manifestations connected to an excess of living.

I literally feel as though I am emotionally hungover, with many of the symptoms seen in alcohol induced hangovers.

I find myself weary, heavy, numb, foggy and teary as I try to continue navigating the responsibilities of day to day life while accepting that life as I have known it for 20 years, is changing…

And changing very soon!

The crazy thing about it all is that everything I am navigating through is exactly the things I have prayed so hard for. There is a part of me that wants to smack the tears off my own face and remind myself that this is all good stuff!

Feelings of gratitude and joy are the prevailing emotions, but closely tied to feelings of gratitude and joy, are feelings of uncertainty and loss…

And guilt.

Guilt that I am feeling anything but gratitude and joy in the midst of such blessings. Unlike the seasons we have had to endure that are filled with such darkness and danger, despair and loss, this season is blessedly positive, but I still find myself struggling.

Perhaps I am unaccustomed to things going so smoothly.

Perhaps I have forgotten how to navigate life outside the emotional bondage of crisis management.

Perhaps I feel as though I am losing some of my purpose or value.

Maybe it is simply the emotional push-back that is rooted in the fear of change.

Or maybe, just maybe, this weight of emotions is simply bone-deep fatigue, born from trying to fit in so many “lasts” before life changes for good.

I am not certain.

I only know that time seems to be racing past and I am desperately grasping for its tail, hoping to slow it down.

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I know that I am not alone in this place. Many other friends have expressed similar emotions, born from similar situations. I take strength from knowing that this muddy mix of emotions is normal, that I am not the only one trying to gracefully navigate them, and that millions of mothers before me have made it through this season to find joy and purpose in the next season of parenting.

So many changes are coming down the pike, not the least of which are:

  1. Gracie getting married! Only two months until her big day! The last few weeks have been spent entrenched in bridal shower planning, bachelorette party planning and wedding planning. Grace and Zach have also been on the hunt for an apartment. They will be staying in the area, as Grace still has a few semesters of school to finish before earning her degree in American Sign Language interpreting.

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 Well, they found one that they love and fits their budget. And we have the benefit of having them nearby for at least the next year…which is a HUGE blessing for our adopted sons who have been struggling with triggered feelings of losing another person they love.

Last Sunday we drove over to Ellwood City to check out Gracie and Zach’s soon-to-be newlywed digs.

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It is an upstairs, one bedroom apartment with a big kitchen and lots of light. It is perfect for them and so exciting. Grace can’t wait to start decorating!

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2. Molly is about ready to take flight! In less than three weeks she will be heading out to school. Rusty and Braden will be joining us as we take a weeklong road trip to Idaho to drop her off. Along the way we are going to revisit some of our favorite national parks from our bus trip three years ago, so Braden can experience some of these national treasures.

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Over the last month Molly has been making piles in preparation for college, getting together with friends, and finishing out her employment at Eat n’ Park. In fact, a few weeks ago she was asked by her employers to reconsider heading west for school. They wanted to offer her a management position. Her boss told her how impressed they have been with her since she began working for them in the spring and could see a great future for her with the company. She sweetly declined, knowing that BYU-Idaho is where she is being called to, but was honored and touched by the job offer.

3. Molly will not be the only college student this year. Grace and I will also be working towards our degrees, and Rusty is now unexpectedly joining the college ranks as a duel enrolled high school senior.

A few weeks ago we toured our local community college’s aviation program to find out more about their drone piloting program. This is a field that interests Rusty and so we added CCBC to our college tour list.

As we sat and spoke with the Dean of the program, he encouraged Rusty to not wait until graduation, but rather enroll for the fall semester as part of the duel-enrollment program. After speaking with his cyber school, 21st Century Cyber Charter School, we learned that Rusty had the option of replacing his high school electives with college courses and receive both high school and college credit, thus getting a jump start on his college degree.

He is very excited and will be taking most of his classes at the local airfield where he will learn the skills to graduate with a drone piloting license. Toby and I were pleased to learn that the high demand for drone pilots, coupled with the minimal number of colleges offering this newly emerging degree, meant that 100% of their past students have graduated with job placement.

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4. Braden is also venturing into new territory. In June he expressed a desire to cyber school like the other kids for his senior year. He struggled with our local brick and mortar school and some of the negative influences that proved too much for him to manage. Since being home this summer he has felt the difference that separation has made on his emotions and his ability to make good choices. He is happier and more at peace. I’m hoping it is as good a fit for him as it has been my other kids.

In addition to cyber schooling, he and Rusty will be getting together with other teens from church each weekday morning at 6:00am for early morning seminary (a religion class that allows for studying the scriptures and discussing gospel topics with the other youth from church under the guidance of a teacher.) I think this will be beneficial to both boys and will meet some of Braden’s social needs as one of my extroverted children.

5. Tyler also continues cyber schooling, but through PA Cyber. And although I feel that PA Cyber falls short when compared to the education offered through 21st Century Cyber School, it has proven to be a great fit for Tyler. Last year was his best year ever and he took off under this model of cyber schooling. He is eager to get back in touch with teachers and peers whom he hasn’t talked to all summer. Tyler will be in 7th grade this year. How is that possible?!

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6. Ozzie continues to thrive in the residential treatment facility that he has been residing at for more intense therapeutic work. His success there is not surprising but rather an expected result of a structured, unattached environment. The goal we are working toward is for him to successfully transfer the skills he uses at the RTF to the home environment, thus making his presence in the home safe and stable. This isn’t an easy transition, as his diagnoses of Reactive Attachment Disorder makes the thing he most stands in need of (connection and attachment to family) the very thing he fears and fights against. It is heartbreaking in its presentation and heartbreaking to know that as devastating as this diagnoses is, it could have been easily avoided through loving maternal care as a young child. The transfer of skills we are working toward is accomplished by slowly introducing interactions with family members (and eventually visits home) to his treatment plan and then addressing the negative reactions to triggers  with his therapeutic team in the RTF upon returning back at the end of a visit.

This week he and I had our first off-grounds visit. I was allowed to take him to lunch for two hours. This initial off-grounds trip consisted of just the two of us spending time together. We will slowly be adding additional family members to upcoming visits as deemed safe by staff.

I let Ozzie pick the restaurant and he chose Quaker Steak and Lube, a well known wing place in this area.

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He chose it partly for the food but mainly for the décor. He loves walking around the restaurant and snapping pictures of all the cars and memorabilia with my phone.

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He did well and we had a good time.

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He got all dressed up for our date 🙂 

This week we will be taking Ozzie out again following his family therapy session. This time Molly will be joining me so she and Ozzie can have a visit before she leaves for Idaho. We are praying it is healing and positive.

And then there is this guy… working hard and making sure everyone stays in line. 🙂

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This is  BIG week for our family with many monumental events. We have an off-grounds visit with Ozzie on Wednesday, Tyler’s 13th birthday party on Thursday evening, Gracie’s bachelorette party Friday night, Gracie’s bridal shower on Saturday, all among everyday living. It promises to be a full and likely emotional week…

Wish this momma luck as I try to keep it together!

 

 

Graduation Day!

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As I joined my classmates for our final Thursday night gathering I found it hard to believe that this stretch of road has come to a close. For the last year my Thursday nights have been spent with this group of people as we have navigated our way through three semesters of schooling. I joined Pathway for the purpose of beginning my journey toward earning my Bachelor’s degree. I knew it was a smart decision and that by choosing this path I would be able to earn a degree in an affordable way that works for my family. I had no idea that this journey would end up being so much more than that.

This past year has been life changing for me as I have experienced exponential growth in a myriad of areas. Much of that growth I attribute to my Pathway experience. It wasn’t an easy journey, especially in the midst of an especially challenging year. Trying to consistently carve out the hours necessary each week to complete the readings and assignments required for the classes I was taking could be challenging, but I was always able to get the work done and I know that it was thanks to Heavenly Father’s hand in this experience. He is the one that called me to it and He is the one who walked me through it.

The prompting to sign up with the Pathway program through Brigham Young University-Idaho began early last summer. At the time we were on a path that seemed to be leading us to add another child to our home…and a 17-year-old boy at that. Anticipating and bracing myself for the challenges that would come with that life change, I was surprised when God started whispering that after 21 years of being a full time wife and momma, it was time to go back to school and get my degree in preparation for the future plans He has for my life. On paper it made no sense to begin this now, when life was so complicated and so full, but the more I questioned the timing the more the Spirit testified of its accuracy. I took a leap of faith and signed up for my first semester of school in two decades. My hope was that my years of homeschooling helped prepare me for this next big challenge and that teaching my children helped keep those concepts fresh that I would need for my own academic success.

In September of last year I showed up at my first Pathway Connect gathering with 15 other students from the Pittsburgh area. At that first gathering we were told that while strangers now, by the end of the year we would be more like family. I had no idea how true that would be. We gathered every Thursday evening for a year, learning together, sharing our lives, teaching one another, learning from each other’s example, laughing and sometimes crying our way through the challenges of the Pathway experience. And as a result of those Thursday nights I gained a second family  whom I’ve came to love dearly.

For this reason I found myself struggling  with a wide mix of emotions on Thursday night. It was our final Pathway Gathering and graduation night, and as much as I’m looking forward to a break from daily schoolwork, studying and assignments, I will miss seeing my Pathway family every Thursday night and the special spirit that accompanied this experience.

This Thursday’s gathering deviated from “typical,” as it was our graduation night. Because of this, we were encouraged to invite our families to come out and celebrate as we crossed the finish line of Pathway. I was blessed to have Toby, Tyler, Molly, Grace, and my soon-to-be son in law, Zach join me. (Rusty and Braden had to work)

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The turn out by all those who came out to celebrate this special occasion was touching.

The agenda for the night began with a shortened version of our usual classes. I was the lead teacher this week for our religion class and kicked off the night with a discussion about our final project for class.

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Then we had a 15 minute discussion to fulfill our Pathway Gathering requirement for English class, before moving on to our graduation ceremony.

We were each presented with our Pathway Connect certificate,

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And had the opportunity at the end to share some thoughts about our experience with Pathway.

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It was with tears in our eyes and conviction in our words that my classmates and I shared our testimonies of the divinely inspired and divinely developed Pathway program through Brigham Young University-Idaho.

The night ended with treats and a celebratory party with our friends and family.

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It was an amazing ride with amazing people. I am forever grateful God called me to walk this road at this time. It was life-changing and testimony building. I said “yes” to this path expecting to grow, expecting to learn, expecting to work towards my degree…

But never expected that the greatest change in my life would be the conversion that would occur within.

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This fall my educational journey will continue as I begin taking degree-specific classes online through BYU-Idaho (the same school Molly will be attending in person this fall). Onto the next phase of this exciting adventure!

Molly is college bound!

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In June Molly will join Grace as our second high school graduate from 21st Century Cyber Charter School, and with that exciting conclusion comes an even more exciting beginning.

The last two years have been spent exploring different post-high school possibilities. Molly has toured colleges both near and far, submitted applications, received acceptance letters, and prayed over those different options,

But we all knew where her heart was from the start.

Two years ago, when we loaded up our family for a two month long road trip around the country, we scheduled in a few college visits. We stopped to tour both Brigham Young University in Provo and Brigham Young University in Idaho. She wasn’t a fan of the Provo campus, but fell in love with the Rexburg, Idaho campus.

Since that time we have toured many other colleges closer to home. Some she liked more than others, but I saw she was comparing them all to BYU-Idaho and the special spirit and feelings of familiarity she enjoyed on that college tour.

We watched as she sought to find a college closer to home that felt as right as that one did, and while some came close, all played second fiddle to her experience in Rexburg.

The last month has been spent in reflection and prayer, as Molly has sought confirmation as to where God is calling her to go and grow.

This past week she received the confirmation she was seeking and has made a decision.

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Miss Molly is BYU-Idaho bound and will start her next adventure on September 16th!

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In the meantime we are going to soak up all that Molly-radiated sunshine while we have her home, and enjoy her excitement as she begins planning for her future.

Congratulations, Molly! We are so proud of you!

 

 

A Blessed Saturday

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Toby was home on Saturday so it turned into a project day. It was cool and rainy, giving us the perfect excuse to hunker down and work on some house projects.

Number one on the list was painting. Over the last few weeks Toby has been working to patch and sand the many holes made in the drywall over the last year as a result of little boys raging. The bulk of the damage was in Ozzie and Tyler’s room but we also has a few other spots through the house that needed patched. Toby was all done with repairs so everyone pitched in to repaint Tyler and Ozzie’s rooms and touch up the other spots.

Now given the instability of things around here lately, I do recognize the efforts may be futile, but for now the walls are beautifully pristine. 🙂

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While we were in painting mode we decided to tackle another project that has been sitting on the back burner for the last year. A while ago we were given an old set of school lockers that we thought would be cute in Tyler’s sports themed bedroom. They needed painted so they have been sitting in the basement waiting for some TLC. We finally got around to the task last Saturday. We let Tyler pick the colors he wanted to spray paint the lockers with the understanding that Mom and Dad had veto power. Tyler’s first pick was neon pink. When that was vetoed he chose red, green, and yellow for the doors and chalkboard paint for the sides so he can draw on the lockers.

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He loved helping prime the lockers. I think maybe he enjoyed it too much.

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He declared with glee, “I feel like one of those bad boys who color on buildings!”

Beware world: if you see the following image tagging the buildings and bridges of Pittsburgh then you will know Tyler has turned to a life of crime!

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In the afternoon we loaded everyone up for errands. Molly needed to be dropped of at work so we all tagged along.

Work is going well for the girls. They are thriving as Pretzel Factory workers. In fact they are doing so well that they received a personal call from the district owner who has noticed the girls’ work ethic and diligence and called to inform them that they will both be receiving a raise. She said that their store’s sales have increased significantly in the last quarter and she credits Grace and Molly’s work with the increase in the store’s profits. The girls were thrilled…not only for the pay raise but for the recognition.

After a trip to Home Depot and Walmart we headed over to Ellwood City. Rusty had heard news that the comic book store in Ellwood City was having a “Free Graphic Novel” day. Every customer who stopped in could pick from a selection of free graphic novels. Rusty loves graphic novels and asked if we could go check it out.

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We arrived and found a large selection of books to choose from. Rusty was in heaven. The kids searched through the pile of choices looking for the one they wanted. Toby and then previewed possible choices, making sure the content was age appropriate.

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There was something for everyone! Who knew my girl Janet Evanovich wrote graphic novels?!

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Everyone left with some new bedtime reading.

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When we returned home Toby gave the boys haircuts while Grace and I had her weekly one-on-one time. She chose to make fudge. She found a recipe for cookies & crème fudge on Pinterest, so that is what we made. The rainy weather made baking a perfect Saturday afternoon activity and the results of our labors were then enjoyed the next evening as our Family Night treat.

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We are all adjusting to the new normal of having Grace gone more than she is at home. Between two jobs and school she is a girl on the go, but is thriving and loving life. She has fully embraced her new status as college student and is loving her classes. In addition to school changes Grace has transitioned from being a young woman at church to a young adult. She no longer has early morning seminary or Wednesday night youth group. Now her Wednesday nights are spent at institute (church classes for college aged students.) This past Sunday was also her first Sunday attending church down in Pittsburgh at the young adult ward where the congregation is comprised of 18-30 year olds. It is a chance for her to get to know, socialize with, and worship with like minded peers… and also happens to be where Toby and I met 20 years ago. It was a bit surreal sending her off to our old stomping grounds for church. It feels like I was in her shoes just yesterday. How can we be old enough to have a daughter that age?!

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But I am also excited for her. That was such an exciting, sweet time of my life and I am thrilled she gets to embark on such a grand adventure. Week one was a huge success. Grace loved it. Now the rest of us just need to get adjust to being a family of 6 at church. It has been especially challenging for Molly, who has had to get used to not having her best friend/sister in Young Women’s with her.

This seems to be the season of change for our family…both good and hard.

We are still working to get Ozzie in a good place and appreciate all of the prayers said on his behalf. We have felt the sustaining power of the many prayers lifting us up these past few weeks and we are very grateful. When we have a better idea of where we are at and what needs to happen next we will share but until then, thank you for your prayers.

 

Gracie has Decided!

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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.

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We Love You, Gracie!