Tag Archives: family traditions

Easter at Patchwork Farm- Part 1

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Once again we find ourselves celebrating another holiday in unique ways under a unique set of circumstances. It was hard not getting together with extended family and enjoying our typical traditions, but our circumstances didn’t take away from the holiness of the day. Perhaps it even added to it.

In the stillness of being home and having a quieter, more reflective Easter, we were able to focus on the glory of Easter Sunday. There, in the midst of the sacrifices we have found thrust upon us during this unusual and trying time, we were all the more appreciative of that great sacrifice made on our behalf.

He died so that we may live.

All Glory and Praise to our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus the Christ!

Easter preparations began on Friday with egg dying,

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And on Saturday, as family recipes were pulled out and food preparation began.

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Our meal wasn’t completely traditional, as our side dishes were chosen based on what we had in the freezer and pantry. I did, however have all the necessities on hand for the key components of an Easter dinner, so we didn’t have to make a trip to the store. A ham was pulled from the freezer. The dough was mixed for Mom’s homemade rolls. Pineapple dressing, sour cream potatoes and ambrosia salad were all prepared the day before, so as to make Sunday dinner a breeze.

On Saturday we also added a new recipe to the mix, one that is a favorite family tradition in Zach’s family: resurrection rolls!

I was first introduced to resurrection rolls when I served in primary with Sherrie and she would bring them in for the children every Easter. I loved the concept and message behind them, and they were delicious as well!

Zach’s one wish for our Easter celebration, since he wasn’t able to be with his family for Easter, was that we incorporate this beloved Tame tradition into our holiday celebration. On Saturday we gathered the family together and Zach taught us how to make resurrection rolls. It was a project everyone enjoyed!

First we laid down our dough.

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Next we topped it with a little butter and cinnamon/sugar.

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Then we placed a marshmallow in the center of the dough.

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Finally the dough was wrapped around the marshmallow and placed in a pan to bake.

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It was a fun baking project and an effective object lesson.

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The marshmallow represents the body of the Savior that was placed in the tomb. As the rolls bake, the marshmallows within melt, so that when you bite into the baked resurrection rolls, you will find the inside hollow…

Representing the empty tomb on Sunday morning.

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It was a joy getting to share in one of Zach’s Easter traditions.

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On Saturday Grace and I also decorated the dinning room for Easter dinner. Since our dining room is also currently serving as our greenhouse, we decided to embrace the mess and make it all part of the look.

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We went with a “Mr. McGregor’s Garden” theme for our Easter table, using decorations we found around the house.

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A month ago, when we had our girls’ weekend at the Homestead, my mom gave me Peter Rabbit plates and napkins as part of my Easter surprise. These paper products served as the jumping off point for our décor.

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A center piece was added,

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And my cabbage serving dishes were set out.

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Grace and I made place cards for each family member. I wrote out the names and Grace added the artwork.

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We were quite pleased with the finished look!

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After a full day of Easter preparations, we were ready to welcome in the Sabbath day.

As a special Easter treat, my parents had sent us a check to order take out one evening and gift me with a night off from cooking. We decided to use our Easter gift on Saturday night. After a full day in the kitchen preparing our Easter dinner, I was thrilled at the prospect of not having to make supper. We decided to use our Easter gift to buy wings.

The kids were all very excited. This was the first take-out meal we have had since the stay-at-home order was issued.

We ordered from Big Shot Bob’s House of Wings in Ellwood City. We ordered a variety of flavors and then Grace and Zach picked up our order on their way back from getting the mail from their apartment.

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We enjoyed a delicious dinner!

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It was such a fun treat, and such a generous Easter gift from my parents! Thank you Mom and Dad!!

When everyone was full, fat and sassy we headed to bed. Tomorrow was a big day!

Our Sabbath day began with Easter service, but rather than donning our Easter bonnets for Easter service at our local chapel, we got dolled up for church in the living room. Grace was in charge of our lesson this week and she spoke about the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ with the following analogy:

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She laid out eight candy bars on the table. Each was tagged with a different price. She then handed each of us a bag of pennies. Each bag contained a different amount of change. We were then told the rules of the game.

  1. We could only use the coins she gave us to purchase the candy.
  2. We couldn’t pool our money or borrow coins from one another.
  3. We couldn’t share our candy with anyone else.

We were then set free to do our shopping. As we dug into our bags of pennies we soon discovered that none of us had enough money to purchase any of the candy bars on the table. We all found ourselves short of the price that needed paid.

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As we considered our options, we soon reached the conclusion that there was no way for us to pay the price needed to get our reward. It was then that Grace pointed out the fact that none of us had thought to ask her for the difference owed. She pulled out a bag of pennies and asked if anyone needed to borrow the difference, thus thrusting the reward within reach, despite our shortcomings.

She likened the lesson to the atonement of Jesus Christ. She drew the comparison between our own inability to gain eternal reward to our need for a Savior who can make up the difference between what we have to offer and the price that must be paid.

Like Gracie’s example, salvation can’t be bargained. The price is set and must be paid in full, and none on earth can pay the price by themselves. We all must call on Jesus Christ to make up the difference. He has paid the price for each of us, and because of His great sacrifice we all have the ability to enjoy a reward we don’t deserve.

She then shared the story of Handle’s Messiah to further illustrate her point, by sharing the following video:

It was a beautiful lesson and a perfect start to our Easter Sunday!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Easter at Patchwork Farm.

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!

 

 

The Hunt for the Perfect Tree

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Trees are Short, and trees are tall,

And some drop leaves to scuff in Fall.

Trees are fat, and trees are thin,

With windows where the sun looks in.

Trees are big, and trees are small,

But Christmas Trees are best of all!”

Ahhh… the hunt for the perfect tree…

It is my favorite family holiday activity.

There is something magical about bundling up and heading out into a grove of pine trees in search of “the perfect Christmas tree.”

Every year we cut our own tree. Yes, it is more work, and A LOT more mess and hassle then just setting up an artificial tree,

but we continue this tradition year after year

because nothing in the world beats the smell of a live tree and the memories made in the woods while cutting down your own tree.

For the past 6 years we have gone to a small, locally owned tree farm near our home. We have enjoyed many memories made walking the hills of McIntyre Tree Farm, but after a tough hunt last year we realized that we have exhausted the selection of 12-14 foot trees available at McIntyre’s so we knew we would have to look somewhere else this year.

For family night we loaded into the van to go “tree hunting.” This year we tried a new Christmas tree farm:

Pioneer Trails Tree Farm.

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It was a 45 minute drive but well worth it. We were so impressed with this tree farm, and had such a positive experience, we will definitely be back next year as a returning customer.

What really impressed me about Pioneer Trails was the efficient system they have developed for easy tree hunting.

Step 1:

When we arrived we were directed to the line of sample trees where we were able to see and touch the different tree varieties available for harvesting. It was so nice to have them all lined up side by side where we could easily compare the colors, smells, needles, and sturdiness of the different types of Christmas trees.

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Step 2:

Once we decided on the type of tree we were interested in (we chose a white spruce) then we had to decide how tall of a tree we’d like. (We knew we wanted a 12-14 footer.) Using a color coded map we identified the type and size of our perfect tree on the map and knew just where to begin our hunt.

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Step 3:

Then we caught a ride on the wagons that make their way around the tree farm, dropping families off in the area where their perfect tree was located.

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Step 4:

There we picked up our sled, saw, and the carpet square that was used to kneel on while cutting down our tree.

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Step 5:

Then the search began! This part of the process is always the most time consuming as seven people scatter, quickly finding the tree that would be “perfect” for our home. Unfortunately, usually everyone is standing by a different tree. Rather than take home 7 Christmas trees we then begin the laborious challenge of compromise as we debate the merits of each tree and the kids all try to sell the family on their tree. We then usually narrow the field down to 3 possibilities before the final vote.

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Step 6:

Then it is time to cut it down! Usually Toby brings his chainsaw and he cuts it down in one fatal swoop, but this year we used the hand saw provided and let the kids all take a turn. (It took MUCH longer.)

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Step 7:

After the tree was down we loaded it onto the sleigh and it was pulled to the wagon stop where we climbed on for ride back to the barn and the employees loaded our tree onto the flat bed wagon behind the passenger wagon.

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Step 8:

When we arrived back at the barn the tree was carried into the barn where workers placed it onto a vibrating machine that shook it to remove all the debris and loose needles. It was very neat!

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Step 9:

Then the tree was sent through the binding machine where it was wrapped in twine for easy transport home. My boys LOVED watching the machines work.

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Step 10:

The final step was to then settle the bill. (The least fun part of the experience. ) 😉

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The nice thing about this tree farm is that there is no having to figure out what you owe. It is a set price of $52.00 regardless of the type of tree you choose or how big of a tree you pick.

On the way home we stopped for eggnog milkshakes at McDonalds for our family night treat.

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