Tag Archives: cub scouts

We’ve reached the Finish Line!


It is that time of year again…

Pinewood Derby time!

And for those who may not be acquainted with my feelings about the annual Cub Scout Pinewood Derby races, here is a little reminder from a previous year:


But this year was not nearly the burden or the challenge, thanks to the troop’s leaders’ decision to use the weekly meetings in January for the boys to design, cut out, sand and paint their cars at church.

Ahh, what a sweet blessing to have the burden lifted from individual families…a blessing  which saved us from a repeat of our 2015 Pinewood Derby failure. 🙂

This year was different than past years, not only in the creation and construction process, but also different in that this year it was held on a Saturday morning rather than a Wednesday night, and in the increased crowd size. Our growing troop size resulted in the biggest turn-out for many years, as family and friends showed up to support all the boys who were racing. It was a wonderful thing to see!


When we arrived Rusty and Ozzie lay claim to a stretch of seats for the family, while Toby took Tyler up to have his car checked in, weighed, and measured.


The girls were asked to step in and help as judges, which they graciously agreed to, helping to record the race times, figure out the place winners, and fill in the certificates.


Tyler had some stiff competition in the aesthetics department, as all the boys took a lot of pride in their designs and put a lot of effort into creating a super cool car!


Tyler designed his red racer to look like a sock. Can’t see it? Neither could I until he upended it and showed it to me from the side. Well, what do you know, a red sock. 🙂 Peach was a last minute addition the day of the race, as Tyler felt something should be sticking out of the top of the sock.


The boys were judged in two categories of cars: how they looked and how they raced, with all the boys receiving a certificate based on the appearance of their car.

The other awards given were medals based on how the kids placed. It was stiff completion. All the boys did great and it was fun to see them huddled at the end of the track cheering and shouting.


When it was time for the race times to be averaged and the awards to be handed out the boys were called up by level. Tyler is a Webelos and was called up with the other Webelo in our scout troop. He was thrilled to receive a gold medal after placing 1st.


The fun morning ended with snacks. Tyler raced to the back to nab one of the racecar cupcakes we brought before all the cars were gone.


Another year down.

After dozens of Pinewood Derby races between cub scouts and AWANAS I am pleased to say this was our final race (unless God has plans unbeknownst to us) 😉

It was the easiest year yet, and wildly successful for our gold-place finisher.  Tyler finished strong!

Way to go, champ!

And way to go Dad!

29 Pinewood Derby cars later and you’ve finally reached the finish line!

Someone buy that man a drink! 😉


A Cub Scout Christmas



A few months ago I was called to be one of the leaders over Tyler’s cub scout troop. Since there are four of us this means that our turn to run the cub scout meetings and be in charge of planning the activity only rolls around once a month. On our “off weeks” we assist the leader in charge with crowd control.

Because of the small number of boys in the bear, wolf and webelos troop we combine them into one group, adjusting the planned activities and lessons to meet the requirements found in each of the different cub scout books.

This past week was my turn to be in charge and I lucked out with the easy assignment of planning a Christmas activity for the cubs.

Being Tyler’s mom has made me quite familiar with the interests of 8-10 year old boys and  I’ve learned the key to any successful Cub Scout activity is FOOD and RUNNING.

The first requirement was met through our first planned activity. I had baked Christmas cookies for the scouts to decorate. Each boy had four cookies to decorate, two to eat there and two to take home.

This activity was built around a lesson on the “ingredients” that go into making a happy family. Using The Family: A Proclamation to the World as our “recipe” we talked about why a recipe is needed in cooking and what happens when we leave out certain ingredients. Then we likened it to leaving out key “ingredients” when trying to create a successful and happy family…ingredients like respect, work, compassion, prayer, and family fun.

Then it was time to decorate cookies.


It was funny watching their individual personalities shine forth with some being very thoughtful and precise in their decorating, while others hurried through the task, eager to eat and play. The one trait seen in all the cub scouts was a “if a little is good, a lot is better” approach to icing and sprinkles.


I felt a tad guilty sending them home to the poor mothers that would have to tuck their sugar strung boys into bed.

The second part of our evening was “Minute to Win It” games. Knowing Tyler, I knew fast paced, competitive, silly games would be a hit with the scouts and I was right.

It was as much fun for the leaders to watch as it was for the scouts to compete.

Some of the games included:

Christmas Cookie Face: in which the boys, using only the muscles of their face had to move the cookie from their forehead down to and into their mouth.


Candy Cane Pick-up: in which the boys had to hook and move candy canes from one plate to another using only a candy cane held between their two front teeth.


Rudolph Nose: in which the boys split into two teams and raced, relay style, to a plate of pom poms where they had to pick up a pom pom using only their noses coated in Vaseline, and return back to their team without it falling off.


Peppermint Tower: in which the boys had to build a tower of peppermints on a lollipop  being held between their two front teeth.

Christmas Wreath: in which the boys took turns tossing marshmallows through a Christmas wreath. The team with the most goals won that round.


It was a fun evening with some special scouts.

Merry Christmas!

Whew…what a week!


Last week was a crazy week, jam-packed with work on the bus, packing up the trailer for Michigan, and working to prepare the house and yard for a picnic on Saturday. Sprinkled among our week of chores was a lot of fun. Here is a look at all that happened last week!


On Monday I took Grace on her very first college tour. I still can’t wrap my brain around the fact that I am at the parenting stage of life that requires college visits. I still feel like a college student myself! But here we are. This year is Gracie’s senior year so this summer we have planned a few college campus tours.

Grace is planning on going to school to get a degree in Special Education with a possible secondary degree or minor in American Sign Language. One of the schools on her list of possible schools is Kent State, located 1 1/2  hours away in Ohio.

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We scheduled a college tour and took Olivia, Gracie’s best friend, along with us.

When we arrived we were taken by golf cart to the orientation building where we joined many other potential students and their parents for a 30 minute presentation. The orientation presentation gave us an overview of Kent State. They touched on everything from the history, the offered majors, the clubs and activities, the area, and the cost. The girls also each received a welcome pack and a Kent State backpack.

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Once the orientation was complete the crowd was broken into small tour groups and assigned a college student to walk them around campus on a 90 minute tour.


It was a very pretty campus and a great first tour as we enter this new world of college placements. On the tour we were able to see different classrooms, the student union building, the library and food services around campus. It was nice for the girls to have access to a current Kent State student that they could question about life on campus.

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They even had the opportunity to see sample dorm rooms and get a feel for how campus living would be.

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It was a great experience and it made me excited for the girls and the adventure that awaits them in another year as they leave high school and follow God’s leading for their lives.


Tuesday was spent doing this all day!

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Tyler headed off to cub scout camp for the first time. This was a day camp that ran from 8:30 am- 4:00 pm Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week. It was with a bit of anxiety I sent him off on his own for the day (without a parent or sibling) for the first time ever. I wasn’t sure how he would do and how the leaders would handle any struggles that might arise, so I did A LOT of praying in the days leading up to day camp…

And you know what?

He did great!

He did more than great. He had a FABULOUS time!

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He loved spending the days with his scout friends and had fun with the leaders. He came home each evening eager to tell me about everything he did and learned that day. It was wonderful!

The theme for cub scout camp was Safari Adventures. Each day the boys moved from station to station around camp where they did crafts, played games, learned skills, shot bow and arrows and had target practice with BB guns.

On Friday they even had a mobile zoo come and teach the kids about all sorts of cool animals that they brought with them. Tyler was able to meet and learn about everything from an armadillo to a baby monkey.

On Friday evening the families of the cub scouts were invited back to camp for an evening fireside program where the different troops performed for the families.

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A BIG thanks to all who made the week such a positive experience for the boys. This Momma’s heart is full of gratitude!


On Thursday evening the girls and I had the opportunity to join the women and teenage girls from church for a night of bowling.

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One of the families at church owns a bowling alley and graciously opened it up to all of us for a fun ladies night out. Everyone brought an appetizer or snack to share and we enjoyed a night of food, fun, and fellowship!


On Friday Gracie had big plans with Olivia. Friday was Olivia’s 18th birthday and Grace made plans to take her out for a spa day to celebrate. Olivia knew she was spending the day with Grace but didn’t know what the plans were until she arrived and  Grace gave her a pair of flip flops she had decorated with balloons and a note telling her to:

“Put on your birthday shoes. We are off to get pedicures!”

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Grace took Olivia to the spa and Molly and Rusty went home with Miss Lana to spend the day with Tatum and Lucas. They needed to get in a play date with their best buddies before they left for Michigan.

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The little boys stayed home and helped Toby and I get the house ready for a picnic the following day.

At the spa the girls enjoyed an hour long foot massage, pampering and pedicure.

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After their pampering time Grace took Olivia out for a fun lunch at Shogun Hibachi Grill. It was a dinner and a show as the food was prepared in front of them. They even sang to Olivia when they discovered it was her birthday.

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Happy 18th birthday, Olivia!


On Saturday we hosted a summer picnic for our Blessings Through Adoption support group. This local support group that meets once a month provides the opportunity to fellowship with other adoptive families as well as learn from a vast array of speakers that come to share their knowledge with the group at the monthly meetings.

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Some of the Blessings Through Adoption families


This past Saturday was the summer picnic where families could come together for some social fun. We spent the days leading up to the picnic getting ready for the picnic.


Filling water balloons.

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Gracie decorating the outdoor chalkboard with a welcome sign.


It was a VERY hot day so the kids kept cool with a sprinkler and water balloons.

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The adults made themselves comfortable in the shade where we enjoyed hot dogs, hamburgers and salads.

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For dessert the kids roasted marshmallows and feasted on s’mores.

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Saturday was also Tyler’s “Gotcha Day!”


It was 3 years ago that we sat before a judge and committed to be his forever family. It was fitting that out Blessings Through Adoption picnic fell on Tyler’s “Gotcha Day” because it is through the blessing of adoption that he joined our family.

For the boys’ “Gotcha days” we celebrate by letting them choose an activity for us to enjoy as a family.

Tyler couldn’t decide between going swimming and going to see a movie, so we did both. After a HOT picnic outside the thought of a cool swim appealed to all of us so after our last guest left we grabbed swim suits, towels and our swimming pass and headed to Ellwood City Pool.

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That evening we packed up blankets and lawn chairs and drove to Dependable Drive-In to see the most recent Ice Age movie and Secret Life of Pets. We had a Groupon for four free admissions, a large drink and a large popcorn, so the cost for our fun evening was minimal.

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It was a beautiful evening. As the sun set the temperatures lowered with it. It was wonderful to have that special time as a family before Toby, Molly and Rusty had to leave for Michigan. It was such a wonderful feeling of relief and satisfaction to look back on our crazy week, and see all that was accomplished, knowing the bus was complete and all the big commitments of summer were over. Now we can relax and enjoy some lazier summer days before we begin preparing for our big trip.

Life is good!

Blue and Gold and GREEN



This past Friday was the Blue and Gold banquet for Tyler’s cub scout troop at church. Tyler is the last cub scout in our family. Rusty and Ozzie are both now in Boy Scouts, but Blue and Gold is a Cub Scout celebration for the entire family, not just the cubs, and my big boys were excited when they heard the theme.

I remember vividly our first Blue and Gold dinner when Rusty was just eight years old. It was a dinosaur theme and really set the bar high for our expectations of what a Blue and Gold banquets looks like. That was Rusty’s first and favorite Blue and Gold dinner.

 It  has been fun to see the different themes the boys have chosen over the years for their Blue and Gold dinner. We have had a camping theme, Legos, and Harry Potter……… (Hands down my favorite one of all! I mean, what is better than ‘Pin the nose on Voldemort’?!)

The theme changes year to year but the night plays out the same. The Blue and Gold banquet is a birthday celebration of the cub scouting program. Families are invited, a dinner is served, there are usually games and skits by the scouts, and awards are handed out.

This year the boys chose the theme of Minecraft, a very popular online game that is a HUGE hit with my three boys, so popular in fact, that it was the theme of Rusty’s  12th birthday party.

The link to Rusty’s 12th birthday post:


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Rusty brought his Minecraft gear to the Blue and Gold banquet.

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Q peeking in “Steve’s eye.” I see you in there, Rusty!


On Wednesday the cubs worked on decorations for Blue and Gold. They made centerpieces and placemats.

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On Thursday night Tyler and I went grocery shopping for Blue and Gold. Each family was asked to bring a side dish and dessert. Tyler decided that he wanted to just bring a bunch of Minecraft snacks instead.

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Friday night arrived and everyone had fun.

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The turnout was great! It is so nice to have so many cubs now, compared to when Rusty was a cub scout.

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The night began with Minecraft games and activities like “pin the tail on the pig” and “knock down the creepers.”

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Then it was time to eat. Fried chicken was served with a variety of side dishes. The cubs were allowed to fill their plates first so they could eat and get ready for their skits, which they performed while we ate.

They sang and performed some classic cub scout skits. Tyler opted to sit in the audience rather than be on stage. The boys did a GREAT job! It was VERY entertaining!


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Then it was time to hand out awards. Tyler and the other Bears were awarded three new belt loops that they have been working on as a pack.

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The night ended with yummy (and adorable) desserts.

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Another successful Blue and Gold banquet!

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Is it Tyler or is it Steve?!

Off to the Races


Saturday was the annual Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. It was a day eagerly anticipated by 3 little boys. As for Toby and I, well, I think by the time Saturday rolled around Toby and I were just excited that we were almost done with wooden cars for another year. 😉

On Friday we received a phone call from the Scout Master informing us that the Pinewood Derby was being moved from 10:00am to 3:00pm, due to the possibility of snow. Unfortunately this meant our friend, Derek, who had been building his car with us, wouldn’t be able to attend due to a previous commitment. I felt so bad.

But we took his car and raced it for him and brought home his trophy and ribbon to give him.

Our Saturday was filled with running and errands before the Pinewood Derby. Ozzie had an appointment, Toby had a repair to do on a home owner’s house, and I promised to take Grace, Molly, Rusty and Tyler to play Ultimate Frisbee at the park.

There is a group of adults, youth, and a sprinkling of kids that meet every Saturday at a local park to play Ultimate Frisbee. My teens were invited to join them months ago, attended, and had a blast. When there is a free Saturday they always ask if I can drive them to join up with the Green family’s Ultimate Frisbee game. Tyler and Rusty, in particular, have become enamored and quite adept at this fun team sport that is a unique combination of Frisbee throwing, and soccer-like teamwork used to move the Frisbee down the field to a goal.

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Since we had the Pinewood Derby to attend just minutes away from the field, it worked out that they could attend the game this week. Despite the winter chill they had a blast! ( I watched/worked on paperwork in the car.)

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Then it was onto the Pinewood Derby where we met up with Toby and Ozzie. Although Derek and Tyler were the only official cub scout cars in the race from our crew, Ozzie and Rusty also competed as siblings…just for the fun of it. Rusty resurrected one of the dozens of past derby cars lying around our home, while Ozzie created his own car. He decided to make “Big Bessie,” our full size family van.

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I was tickled that he was proud enough of our family vehicle that he decided to race a model of it rather than a sports car, but being the primary driver of “Big Bessie” I had some concern about how she might perform against other designs. 🙂 She is not exactly a speedy little thing. Because of this we were surprised at how well she did do in the heats. Certainly not a winning car, but she consistently held her own in the middle of the pack. 🙂 That’s my girl!

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The races began with work in the pits where Moms and Dads worked to reconnect wheels, add extra weights, and check in their children’s competing cars.

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Because of the decision to allow siblings to race there were many more cars racing than in previous years. It definitely made for a more exciting race.

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Tyler’s went for a sleeker design for his car, molding his after a Bugatti sports car. (“Whatever that is,” whispers the Momma behind her hand)

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Then it was time for the flag ceremony and the races began.

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The excitement in the air was palpable.

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Each car had the opportunity to race four times, using a different track, and competing with different racers each time.

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Their times were measured.

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During one round all three of my boys were competing against each other…”Go McCleerys!”

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When the races were finished everyone enjoyed snacks while the judges tallied the scores.

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Then it was time for awards. Ribbons were handed out for the different places in each age group: Bears, Wolves, Webelos, with the top racer from each of those races moving onto the next race (regionally.) I happy…err, I mean sad, to report that Tyler didn’t place first…but, hey, there is always next year…and the next year…and the next year…Yea!

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The siblings also received ribbons with Rusty placing 1st and Ozzie taking 3rd. Both were thrilled.

All the Cub Scouts received handmade trophies. These trophies are generously made each year by a man at church. He creates them using blocks of wood and cool matchbox cars that he attaches to the trophies. He then names the different trophies and awards them accordingly. The kids love it!

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Tyler won the “Michelangelo Award”

and Ozzie won “Realistic Warrior.”

It was a good day. We all left feeling pleased with how the McCleerys represented.

And now we will enjoy a 347 day respite before the fun begins again!

Little Wooden Cars and Great Big Headaches


It is THAT time of year again.

The season of short days, grey skies, cold temperatures and wooden cars…UGH!

The grey stratus clouds of Western Pennsylvania already cover the skies in a depressing blanket of BLAH, so I am trying not to add my own grey cloud to the mix, but I really hate Pinewood Derby time.


I didn’t always feel this way. Like so many young, fresh, enthusiastic mothers I was the idealistic cheerleader as we cut, sanded, painted, and weighted car #1, #2, #3, #4…

Somewhere around our 15th pinewood derby car the novelty died…died a ugly, ugly death.

 Our pinewood derby experiences began with annual AWANA races when the kids were little, then evolved into Cub Scout races. Throw in some misc. pinewood derby races for the teens and it is fair to say we are old hats at this.

The evidence of our past races litter the shelves of my children’s bedrooms and fill the toy box, always leaving me to wonder WHY ARE WE BUILDING ANOTHER CAR? Why not use one of the dozens we have around the house?

And then remember…

and I remind myself,

and I whisper the mantra…

“Because we can’t be THAT MOM.”

We must not steal from our “round two” littles the joy of the experience that was afforded to our “round one” kids.

It is a tap deep moment when I must forget my own jaded fatigue and put on my young, fresh, enthusiastic Momma face. (PS- I am not alone in this battle. When pinewood derby season comes around Toby would like to move to a communist country where scouting is banned) 🙂

But we do the dance we did with our older children. We sit patiently as they sketch, and re-sketch designs on their blocks of wood…sketches that Toby will have to redesign because they are impossible to make sense of. He will patiently find a car hidden within that block of wood and convince each boy that it was their design…and what a fabulous design it is!

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Then we will patiently watch as they begin sanding their car. It is a process that begins with enthusiasm but quickly loses appeal, leaving Toby and I to finish making the edges smooth.

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Then the painting begins. This is about the point in the process when my tongue begins to bleed from biting it so hard. I sit upon my creative hands and I fight the urge to take over as layer after layer of paint covers the car with the belief that “if a little paint is good, then a lot of paint is great!” The reds, and blues, and greens soon muddle together into a soupy brown that may or may not dry by the time the race rolls around in a week.

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Then it is the stickers, and the weights, and the graphite,

all added with hopes of increasing the speed of your son’s car in comparison to his other troop members.

It is a delicate dance. The goal is to make the car fast enough to leave your child feeling pleased with his performance, but not so fast as to win in his age group…

because winning means ANOTHER RACE!

With more scouts!

Thus making you lose another day of your life to the Pinewood Derby!

A day of your life you will never get back!

But that is between you and I. As far as my boys are concerned… I am a fresh, young, enthusiastic Momma and we are going all the way@!!

Monday we began the derby ritual with another kiddo in the mix. Tyler, Ozzie, and their friend, Derek, sketched, cut, sanded, and painted their cars with dreams of trophies dancing in their sweet little cub scout heads.

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Saturday is the big race…

Wish us luck!

And by luck I mean…

*wink wink*

Blue and Gold Banquet- “Everything was Awesome!”


Last night was my little cubs’ Blue and Gold banquet for cub scouts. The theme was Legos, and Friday afternoon was spent preparing.

The boys were all encouraged to bring an original Lego creation in to display as the center pieces for the party. After lunch the boys were set free from school work to go create. Rusty, always eager for a chance to build, joined them.

Ozzie's creation.

Ozzie’s creation.

Rusty's plane.

Rusty’s plane.

The girls joined me in the kitchen to whip up some Lego themed treats for dessert. Thanks to Pinterest we came      up with a few fun ideas.


Gracie began the task of making Lego men heads out of full-sized and mini marshmallows  dipped in yellow chocolate. Molly then finished them by adding the faces.


Once the boys were done building they joined us back in the kitchen to make Lego block treats.

Tyler working...

Tyler working…

Molly holding the finished blocks.

Molly holding the finished blocks.

It was soon time to leave. Grace and Molly volunteered to help with decorating so we arrived at church two hours early.  There was a group of “big sisters” who took on the task of decorating the gym at church for the Blue and Gold banquet. They did a fabulous job!

The decorating team.

The decorating team.

At 6:30 the fun began. The night started with dinner…a baked potato bar. The baked potatoes were provided and the families were all asked to bring toppings to share.


There was an impressive array of desserts as well!


As everyone enjoyed dinner there were Lego man coloring sheets at each table to keep the boys busy after they were done eating.

Our family looks like we color coordinated for BLUE and gold night but it was just a happy coincindence. ;)

Our family looks like we color coordinated for BLUE and gold night but it was just a happy coincidence.  😉

Coloring time...

Coloring time…

Following dinner there were games. The kids were split into 4 teams for a relay race. The race consisted of each team member picking a Lego piece, which they had to balance on their belly as they crab walked across the gym. When they reached the next person they would have to combine their Lego pieces before the next team member would crab walk back across the gym. The kids loved it and the shout and cheers were deafening. 🙂



There was also a fun “photo booth” set up where the boys could pose as their favorite “Lego Movie” characters.


Good cop and bad cop…aka Tyler and Oz.




The night ended with awards being handed out and a  final word from one of the leaders. He sat the boys down and asked them if they had seen “The Lego Movie.” The boys eagerly answered, “yes!” He talked to the boys about the story line and the search that takes place for “The Special.” He reminded the boys that the lesson learned in the end was that each character discovered they were “The Special,” they just needed to believe it. He reminded them of the talents they each possess that make them special, and unique,  and gives them individual worth. Like the characters in the movie, they only need to believe it.


It was a wonderful way to end the evening and a profound message for each of those little boys to hear. In a world that is often tearing down and belittling the worth of our sons it was good for them to be reminded of their infinite worth.  Each one is so special.

It was a great night. In fact,

“Everything was Awesome!”

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The Evolution of Parenting


There is a natural evolution that occurs as parents when you move from child #1 to child #5. As the parent to “precious child #1” you secretly judge those parents of multiple children who have lost that “new parent edge.”

(Admit it. You know you did!)

You would look at their poor neglected #3 child who eats Cheerios off the floor, and for whom there is not a photo to be found, and you would say to yourself,

“That will never be me.”

Famous last words, right?

I remember secretly pitying Child # 3…or 4…or 5 of my friends as I attentively tended my # 1. I was on my third scrapbook for Grace and she wasn’t a year old and poor “Suzy’s” only proof of existence was a blurred cell phone shot that her mom snapped as she crawled away (unsupervised, of course!)  😉

Then I was blessed with #2.

And God chuckled.

Then came #3

And God laughed.

And then we adopted # 4 and #5

And God clutched His sides and howled. He has been rolling on the floor ever since.

All those “I would nevers” that I once whispered in self-righteous judgment have been thrown back in my face.

I have been humbled.

I have become a child #5 Momma,

and no place is that more evident than on the sidelines of a Cub Scout pinewood derby.

Over the course of the last 10 years; between Awanas, cub scouts, and youth activities, we have assisted our children in the creating, shaping, and painting of 25 pinewood derby cars. As I reflect back on Gracie’s first few cars (I can reflect back because she is my first born and those photos are all beautifully scrapbooked) I see that parenting evolution that I swore would never happen.

I remember our first Pinewood derby race. Hours were put into researching the rules about design and weight. Toby and I went online to look for tricks and hints for building a winning car. Gracie weighed every design possibility and Toby patiently worked with her in his shop as she turned her block of wood into a car. Weights were added, wheels were treated, and we all waited for the night of the race with eager anticipation.

Fast forward 10 years…

To a very different season of our life.


(The kitchen at midnight, 19 hours prior to the pinewood derby race…that we had both forgotten about.)

Katie: “Oh crud, I totally forgot about the little boys’ race tomorrow night. What time can you be home?”

Toby: “I’ll have to meet you there. I’m working late”

Katie: “Then I need you to cut their cars out now so they can paint them tomorrow.”

Toby: (deep sigh) “Where are they?”

(This led to a 30 minutes search for the car kits.)

Katie: “What paints should I have them use tomorrow?”

Toby: “Just have them color them with Sharpies.”

Katie: (looking incredulous) “Really?”

It was at that moment I realized we had arrived. We were officially one of “those” parents. Poor child #4 and #5.

Katie: “What about grease for the wheels or weights for the cars?”

Toby: “Nah, just have them glue some quarters to the top of their cars.”

It was on that inspired thought that we shuffled off to bed.

The sun did come out the following day. The cars were finished in time (kinda.) The boys had a blast despite the poor paint jobs, the generic designs, and the poorly fastened quarters that continued to fly off the top of the cars each time they hit the cushion at the end of the track.

They didn’t win first (or second, or ….well never mind) but they had a lot of fun.

Maybe that is what this parenting gig is all about: allowing ourselves to find joy in the less than ideal situations that arise, and cutting ourselves a little slack when our thirty something selves no longer “measure up” to who we were as parents when there was just child #1.

Hopefully any resentment my boys might one day feel when they compare their pinewood derby photos to those of their older siblings will dissipate as they watch their own child #3 eat dirty Cheerios off the floor

and they will realize their Momma could have done worse…

At least there was some photo proof!

The "finished" cars. :)

The “finished” cars. 🙂





Tyler and Molly

Tyler and Molly

Rusty and Ozzie

Rusty and Ozzie



and we end with snacks...

and we end with snacks…

Cub Scout Motto

Ozzie and Tyler- cub scouts and brothers.

Ozzie and Tyler- cub scouts and brothers.

Being a brother is hard. It is hard in the best of circumstances. Having to share is hard…share toys, share attention, share activities. I never fully understood the complexity of a brother/brother relationship until we adopted Tyler. You see, my brother only had sisters. Rusty only had sisters. The relationship between a brother and sister is an entirely different beast than the one that grows between two boys. There is a physicality that I am unfamiliar with and a bit uncomfortable with. The rolling and wrestling is something I never saw with my own brother or saw with Rusty and the girls. The intense competitiveness and love/hate relationship is all new to me as a parent two little boys. I am still learning to navigate these uncharted waters.

The relationship between brothers becomes even more complicated when you take two wounded souls, with their own stories, own pasts, own birth families and try to meld them together into a new adoptive family. The results are sometimes touching but often they are just explosive. Ozzie and Tyler are still learning how to be brothers and go from being best buddies to mortal enemies with a single look.

They are both vying for dominance. Ozzie is older therefore feels he has earned his place as alpha dog. Tyler, who has been part of our family longer, feels like he has earned his spot as top dog. The battle continues, the war wages, and I hold my breath, uncomfortable with the display, and yet recognizing that this is all part of bonding as brothers.

Wednesday was a big night for the boys. Tyler joined cub scouts. This will be the first extracurricular activity they have shared as brothers. I could tell Ozzie was struggling with mixed emotions…resentment over sharing this part of his life with Tyler as well as excitement at the thought of being able to be big brother and show Tyler the ropes.

Tyler was also feeling mixed emotions on Wednesday night. He was excited to have his first cubs meeting ( he was ready hours before it was time to go, dressed in his new uniform with his cub book in hand) but also nervous about what to expect.

As we drove to the meeting Tyler expressed, in a rare display of vulnerability, his nervousness. Ozzie, eager to play big brother and Tyler allowing him to step up as big brother, promised to walk him to the meeting and show him what to do. My heart melted as I listened to Ozzie reassure Tyler. Well, you can just imagine the hurt that then followed when upon arriving at church Ozzie jumped from the car and raced toward the building without backward glance. Tyler was visibly hurt and shouted at Ozzie, with venom in his voice, “Ozzie, I guess you don’t care about the cub scout motto!”

I thought for a moment, racking my brain, trying to remember the cub scout motto that Tyler and I had been studying and tried to figure out what Tyler was implying.

“Be Prepared?”…hmmm…no that was Rusty’s Boy Scout motto.

Oh yeah, “Do Your Best.” That was it.

I was trying to figure out what message Tyler was trying to convey when he yelled to Ozzie, “Remember the cub scout motto!” because as far as I could tell Ozzie was “doing his best,”

to get away from Tyler, that is. 🙂

I looked at Tyler and asked what he meant. I didn’t have to wait long for clarification. As Ozzie ran into the church Tyler shouted the motto (as he remembered it) at Ozzie’s retreating back,

“Cub scouts never leave anyone behind!”

I think he was thinking of the Soldier’s Creed but I didn’t have the heart to correct him. 🙂

As I ponder this hard road of adoption perhaps the values called forth in the Soldier’s Creed aren’t too far off the mark.

Perhaps, as a family,  we need to embrace some of these values in the battles we face every day,

as we fight for these little boys’ hearts and unity as a new family…

“I am a warrior and a member of a team.”

“I always place the mission first.”

“I will never accept defeat.”

“I will never quit.”

and of course, the most important promise of all,

“I will never leave a fallen comrade.”

We are a family


“Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten”  🙂