Tag Archives: football

Friday Night Lights




It is fall in Western Pennsylvania and we find ourselves in the heart of football season. After years of avoiding organized sports with the older kids,  we dipped our big toe into the sports pond when Tyler joined our family at age 6. We tried to fight it but even at that age he had an affinity for sports of any kind, having been actively involved in soccer and football at his previous foster home, and we soon realized that for all of our survival that kid needed an energy outlet!

After a few months in our home we gave into the inevitable and signed him up for soccer, followed by football in the fall. It was a definite social shock stepping into the world of little league sports and all that comes with it.

The benefit of such an uncomfortable social shift, however, was a very tired little boy at the end of the day…a benefit that far outweighed the less appealing aspects of organized youth sports.

It was because of our naivety and lack of experience that we found ourselves at Blackhawk Lil’ Cougars football sign-ups that first year. We saw the signs around town advertising football sign-ups and so we arrived with required papers in hand (birth certificate, report card and proof of address) on the night advertised. He was registered and began playing, making quick friends with the other little brutes on his team. There was something endearing about watching 20 wild 6-year-old’s navigate the field as they learned the sport.

It wasn’t until we were fully entrenched in the world of the Cougars that we found out that we should have signed Tyler up under Beaver Fall’s league since we technically live in Beaver Falls school district. By the time we realized our mistake Tyler was firmly settled into this group of boys and we chose to request an exemption rather than move him. He has been playing with the Cougars ever since and loves his teammates and coaches.

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That was all well and good and then Tyler’s biological brother, Brandon, moved into our home. He, too, has both a love and affinity for sports and since he is currently required by the judge to attend our local public school it made it easy to simply sign him up for the high school football team.

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After a few years of not being able to live a “normal” teenager’s life, he is thrilled to be navigating halls between classes and donning football gear every day after school. Like Tyler, he has a natural gift for athletics and is loving being part of a team.

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So now we have two boys on the field each week, but they wear the colors of two different schools…

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Two rival schools.

Which had made life a bit crazier than usual.

Everyday Brandon has football practice immediately following school until 5:30 pm. We pick him up and then head to Tyler’s field for his daily practice from 6:00-8:00 pm.

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Friday nights are spent under the lights as we dress in our orange and black to watch Brandon play.


Then on Saturdays we put on our green and gold to cheer on Tyler.

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Some of these games are pleasant but others are miserable…


This one was particularly nasty as we battled high winds and heavy rains. We definitely earned some parenting points for our participation!


For the most part we have been able to navigate this arrangement,  but Friday presented its own unique challenge when both boys were committed to be on two different fields for Friday night’s game.

Brandon’s game was a home game on Geneva College’s field but Tyler was also invited to be on the field Friday night as part of Blackhawk’s community days. The high school invited all the little players and cheerleaders to the game to support the high school team. The boys were invited to sit along the sidelines and then step onto the field as the big boys entered the stadium, cheering them on.

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Tyler didn’t want to miss this special event so we began our night with the Blackhawk Cougars and then at halftime drove across town to watch the second half of the game at Beaver Falls to cheer on the Tigers.

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It has been fun watching Tyler and Brandon bond over football. And we are all thrilled to have someone living in the house who readily volunteers to toss the ball with Tyler, giving the rest of our throwing arms a break!

Tonight we go and watch another brother in uniform.

Sean, Tyler and Brandon’s middle biological brother, is playing for his school and both my boys are excited to go and watch one of his games and reconnect with a brother they haven’t seen in a few years.

It is definitely football season in Western PA!


Let’s Catch-Up


Tyler is doing amazing.

His growth and progress over the last few years is nothing short of miraculous. Those that were privy to the “inside story” of life with Tyler that first year can testify to his transformation. The explosions and aggressive tantrums are a thing of the past and many of the anxiety provoked “shut-downs” are gone, only rearing their ugly heads during highly emotional moments. The only two remaining times of struggle that we deal with regularly are bedtime and bath time. Knowing his history of trauma and how abuse played out in his biological home it is not surprising that these two places are fear-inducing and feel unsafe despite the safety now in place. There is a distinct difference in being safe and feeling safe, especially for kids who have survived trauma. It is easy for those who haven’t walked their path to dismiss their “illogical” fears as silly, knowing that they are safe, but “felt safety” can be elusive for kids whose early years were anything but safe. Once we wrapped our head around this truth we were better able to navigate these hard times of the day with more compassion and patience.

The bathroom is a scary place for Tyler. It was the location of great hurts as a small child and as a result he fears the same place I find to be a sanctuary. Bath time is always a struggle and I’ve learned the importance of keeping things light and addressing his very real fears in  non-demeaning and creative ways.

I regularly remind myself that the goal is a somewhat clean and better smelling 11-year-old and the means for reaching that goal can be unorthodox. Thus began our most recent tub trick…

To increase Tyler’s feelings of safety we allow him to bath with swim trunks on. He leaves the door open and asks us to sit nearby and talk to him the whole time he is in the bathroom. Sometimes extra coaxing is needed to get him in the water so tub toys, shaving cream, soap crayons, and most recently glow sticks are my greatest tools…

Whatever it takes to achieve “felt safety” while removing some of the grime off my stinky 11-year-old!


The need for regular bathing has increased this month with the start of the football season. After a two year hiatus, Tyler is back on the field and loving it!

I don’t care so much about the sport itself but care deeply about my little player and the fact he finally feels safe and settled enough to play again. I know he missed it and it broke my heart to see him avoiding something he loved simply because the fear was too much to manage.

I think having Brandon around has helped. Somehow having the same big brother present who acted as protector when he was a toddler, has increased his feelings of security. The fact Brandon also plays football has also added to the appeal.

So, now our lives are consumed with football. Each evening is spent at the ballfield watching Tyler and his team practice. There is something peaceful about this ritual. Perhaps because it gives me the excuse to just sit and be still, allowing time to reflect and soak up the last of summer.

The other night I was treated to a spectacular show of sun rays and clouds. The clouds were so pretty that they didn’t look real.


Saturday was Tyler’s first game. He was thrilled to have Brandon there with the family.


The boys were crushed by an incredible opposing team but Tyler was pleased by how well he played personally.


I just enjoyed sitting on the sidelines in such perfect weather. Football season is finicky and each week brings uncertainty in what weather the boys will be facing. It falls at a time of year when a game can bring 90 degree temperatures and intense sun, a heavy downfall of rain, or freezing, blizzard-like conditions. It really is a “luck of the draw” situation. This week we lucked out and couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather to kick off the season!


I addition to football taking over the month of August, we are trying to wrap up a few more items on the summer bucket list before school begin in two weeks.  One of those projects is a service project Molly is working on. She is putting together chemotherapy care kits do donate to a local cancer center.

After posting information about her project and a list of items she is collecting for the care kits during the month of August, the donations began pouring in at an incredible speed. She has been absolutely overwhelmed by the show of generosity and love. Her initial goal was to be able at assemble at least 10 care kits for patients undergoing the arduous battle of fighting for life, but the generosity of so many (church members, co-op friends, family members, and others) has left her room overflowing with donations and her heart overflowing with gratitude at the selfless love shown by so many…

Thank you ALL for helping Molly be a blessing to others!


Last weekend Ozzie and I enjoyed a fun one-on-one date under the stars.

The Perseid Meteor Showers peaked over the weekend, driving Ozzie and I outside with a blanket to lie under the stars and watch this heavenly display. With everyone else in the family occupied, we had the yard to ourselves and were able to take advantage of some fun one-on-one conversation without sibling interruption.


Ozzie also brought the telescope outside that he received for his 14th birthday and we had fun using an app on my phone to locate various celestial bodies and then find them within the lens of his telescope.

It was a perfect night for star gazing. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the new moon darkened the sky so that the stars, planets, and meteor shower were showcased beautifully!

With the coming of the school year comes the enrollment process as we work to get Brandon settled into school. Because he is still a foster child he will have to attend our local high school for the time being. Following adoption he will be able to choose whether he continues there or would like to switch to cyber schooling like the rest of the family.

Tyler is also undergoing some school changes as we move him from one cyber school to another. The rest of the family attend 21st Century Cyber Charter School and we adore that school but fear the intensity and challenge of their incredible curriculum would be too much for Tyler just yet. We are still working to get him reading at grade level through 4x a week dyslexia tutoring. So, we explored other schooling options and finally decided on PA Cyber, at the glowing recommendation of a friend. We feel like it will be a good transition school from his current school until he is ready to transfer to 21st Century Cyber Charter School down the road.



And they’re off!


After watching her sister and  brother head out on adventures in June and July, Grace’s planned summer trip with her best friend has finally arrived.


Grace and Olivia headed out this week for a week of fun in Dallas, Texas where they will be spending the week with Olivia’s Aunt Peggy and Uncle Steven.


We can’t wait to hear about their adventures!


I Love a Parade!



With the closing of July comes the start of football season. After a two year hiatus Tyler has asked to play again. While personally not a huge fan of football season and all it entails, I am thrilled to hear Tyler express a desire to play again. I attribute this change of heart to a positive experience with baseball season and major breakthroughs in facing some personal anxieties with Miss Tina in trauma therapy.

With daily football practice beginning in just a week’s time I am cherishing my last week of freedom before our lives revolve around lil cougars football until November.

The first toe in the pond occurred last Wednesday when Tyler met up with his teammates to ride on the football float in Chippewa’s annual fireman’s parade.

Tyler met up with the team at the municipal building. With candy in hand he boarded the float eager to get to toss treats to the crowds of kids that lined the road. When picking his treat much thought was put into the selection. Given the temperatures of the day chocolate candies were out. I also vetoed lollipops and any candy with sharp points, knowing that with Tyler’s arm some unsuspecting spectator might lose an eye. We finally settled on fruit snacks. I figured they were soft enough that even with Tyler chucking them at 50 mph no one was likely to get hurt, and Tyler liked the idea that it was a treat the little kids (who weren’t old enough for hard candies) could eat.

We settled in at the end of the parade route having learned our lesson from past years when we found ourselves stuck behind a line of firetrucks trying to get to our son who was unloading a mile away at the other end of the parade route.

Molly had work that evening but Grace, Rusty and Ozzie all joined me at the parade to cheer on their little brother and collect pounds and pounds of flavored tootsie rolls.


It is always fun to be a spectator at this annual summer event. Ozzie loves the antique cars and the fire trucks that roll in from all the neighboring fire departments.


I love seeing all the local teams, dance troops, and bands that march/ride so proudly, waving at the crowds with the same enthusiasm as Miss America at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

We enjoyed watching the different floats pass and it wasn’t long before a trailer filled with little football players rolled by with Tyler perched in the center. By the time he reached us his box of fruit snacks was long empty and I could tell he was disappointed he didn’t have something to chuck at his brothers’ heads. He settled for waving.


The float turned the corner and the players disembarked. Tyler ran to join us to watch the remainder of the parade and collect his own pile of candy…

Although both Tyler and Ozzie discovered that very few treats that are traditionally tossed at parades are Dr. Spokane approved treats.

They picked through their piles pulling the lone lollipops and lifesavers from the pile and handed over the rest to Grace and Rusty.


It was a great kick-off for football season. Soon the craziness begins. Starting next week please address all correspondence to the local football field. That is the place we will be calling home for the next 3 months.


Easter with the Reals


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Easter weekend was a blessed one at Patchwork Farm. We had Ozzie home for five days and our time was filled to overflowing with General Conference, egg decorating, Easter with my side of the family and Easter with Toby’s side of the family. We were on the run all weekend but it was a weekend filled with Easter fun.

On Saturday morning we loaded up the van and headed 2 1/2 hours west to the Homestead where my sister and her family were visiting my parents for the weekend. Easter weekend always brings the emergence of my sister’s family who, as residents of Northern Michigan, tend to be snowed in from Thanksgiving until Easter. It is always a treat to get in some cousin time after months of not seeing each other.

We lucked out with decent weather for our Real family Easter. The rain had finally lifted after settling over Ohio and Pennsylvania for the last five days, and the temperatures, while nippy, were warm enough to allow us an outdoor dinner in the barn.

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We arrived and were greeted by five excited little ones whose energy and enthusiasm were matched by my own five. They all jumped immediately into the task of catching up and making the most of our one day reunion.

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My mom handed out Easter surprises to everyone. Kelly and I each got a cute duck and a vintage children’s book for our Easter gifts.

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We all sat and visited while we waited for my Dad to return with dinner. My parents decided that our limited time together was better spent enjoying family than being shut up in the kitchen cooking and doing dishes so they order our Easter dinner from Der Dutchman, one of the tastiest restaurants in Amish country.

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When Dad arrived home with a hot feast in the back of the car everyone pitched in to carry all the dishes into the barn and set up our Easter buffet. We enjoyed a scrumptious feast of ham, fried chicken, noodles, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade rolls, and four different types of pie including a Key Lime Pie that Toby declared was the best pie he had ever tasted.

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As we ate, we enjoyed a time of reconnection and visiting, with the little boys at one table, the big kids at another table, and the adults at the third table that was set up in the barn.

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After everyone had eaten their fill the adults headed outside to hide 100 Easter eggs. At this point the sky was beginning to darken and we didn’t want to get hit with rain before the kids had a chance to enjoy a egg hunt so we shuffled the schedule a bit.

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Ozzie and my Dad

Once all the eggs had been hidden around my parents yard we called for the kids and these are the heads that popped out from the barn…

Wrong kids!

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Finally the two legged kids came running with bags in hand.

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The three youngest were given a head start,

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and then the rest were set free to search.

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The result of their efforts was a bounteous feast of sugar.

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After the egg hunt we returned to the barn for our quarterly birthday celebration. Because of the infrequency of our opportunities to gather with extended family we will celebrate 3 or 4 months worth of birthdays while we are all together. This day we celebrated our February- May kids.

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After our birthday celebration we headed outside where Toby and Tom got a game of touch football going with the kids.

I was the official team photographer!!

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All too soon it was time to leave. Our one day reunions never seem to stretch as far as we would like but boy did we fit A LOT of fun with family into our eight hours at the Homestead!

How blessed we are this Easter Season.

Blitz on the Bay


Tyler did not play football this year.


We spent the bulk of little league football season traveling around the country. As a result Tyler was not a Blackhawk Cougar during the 2016 season. That was definitely a downside of the trip for Tyler who lives and breathes football.

So you can imagine his thrill when midway through our journey west the coach texted Toby to invite Tyler to play in a special one time game in Erie called, “Blitz on the Bay.” This special  game was scheduled for November and would be played against the McDowell Trojans. Playing in the “Blitz on the Bay” would allow Tyler to join up with his teammates for this one time game..

In preparation for the big game the boys had eight practices in the two weeks leading up to the game. Tyler loved these evening practices with his coaches and friends and they provided a great outlet for some of the anxious energy that came with Toby leaving.

Tyler is a different child during sports seasons when he can release his hard emotions through strenuous physical exercise.

This special game had added appeal when Tyler found out that following the game the team and their families would be going to Splash Lagoon Indoor Waterpark as a group.

Toby was able to come home for the game and Tyler could not be more thrilled!


The day was a needed distraction at the end of a hard week.


Jerseys were ordered for each of the boys on the team. Tyler’s team, made of boys from the Blackhawk and Chippewa leagues, had special jerseys with their combined team initials: BCCI (Blackhawk Cougars/Chippewa Indians)



Tyler was also thrilled that this new jersey boasted his name on his back, unlike the typical game jerseys.


It was a perfect day for football. And while the weather was a bit chilly for those sitting in the stands, it was perfect for the kids running up and down the field.


It was fun to see Tyler play again.


He is in his element when he is on the field, and we see a different side of our son when he is playing.


Both teams were incredibly talented but in the end the Trojans were the stronger team, beating the BCCI team.


After the game we headed with the team to Splash Lagoon Indoor Waterpark.


We arrived at 4:00pm and the kids had 5 hours to play until closing. Tyler spent most of his time playing with his teammates in the ball pool. The ball pool is a large pool lined with basketball hoops and filled with small, floating basketballs.


Tyler opted to ride most of the waterslides once and then spend the rest of the evening playing water basketball with his friends.

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The older kids went off on their own and rode all the water slides Splash Lagoon had to offer.


In between riding the thrilling water slides they enjoyed soaking in the hot tub and floating in the lazy river.


Toby and I decided to save the extra admission fees and not swim. Instead we found a table in the corner that was within view of Tyler and enjoyed a “date night” and a little adult conversation before Toby had to drive back to Michigan for work.

The kids had a good time. It was nice to escape for the day and by the time we got home from our 90 minute drive from Erie, Tyler was fast asleep.

It was a good day.

A SUPER Saturday


Saturdays are always busy…especially in the fall!

It is the one day of the week we have Toby home to get things done around the house, run errands, accomplish farm chores or do something as a family.

Sundays are spent worshipping, resting and partaking in quiet activities at home.

Because Saturdays become the day to accomplish everything we need to do for the week, they fill up extra quickly…especially this time a year!

Saturdays are filled with football games, yard work (as we prepare for winter), putting up wood to burn through the winter months, and fun fall activities. October Saturdays are always busy, but some are EXTRA busy!

This past Saturday was one of those days.

It was a day so fully packed that I began the day by writing out a schedule of who needed to be where over the course of the day and posted it in the kitchen to guide the family through our crazier than normal day.

It was my hope we wouldn’t miss any important commitment or lose some child along the way. 🙂

Here are snap shots of our wonderfully busy, completely crazy, super fun, fall Saturday:

8:00- 9:00 am: Wake the troops. We had a busy day ahead of us so everyone was roused, fed, and sent to get their morning chores completed before the craziness began!

9:00- 11:00 am: Grace and Molly attended an art class being taught by a woman at church. In September she sent out an email advertising a free, four-week art class she was offering in the month of October. They were offered every Saturday morning through the month with each Saturday offering a different craft and corresponding art skill. Since my girls love art and because we live close enough to her home that it wouldn’t be a burden, they decided to sign up.

They have really enjoyed this weekly class. This week they were making sculptures with “found” items. They took corks and bobby pins for the materials they chose to build with.

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10:00-12:00: Ozzie and I drove to Cranberry to meet up with Ozzie’s biological sister, Zoey, so that they could have a much-needed date. They haven’t seen each other for a month and Ozzie was struggling with missing his sister, so we arranged to meet for breakfast.

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The kids had a great time enjoying the breakfast buffet at Eat n’ Park and catching up with each other. I am so grateful that Zoey was adopted by a woman who is so open to maintaining their relationship and who agrees with us on the importance of maintaining the biological relationship of these siblings. It is hard for them to live apart. I know that they were both placed where God would have them be, but being apart is hard for them, so we make every effort to keep their relationship a priority through regular visits.

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11:00- 5:00: The girls joined three of their friends (Olivia, Tatum, and Chessa) for a fun day in Pittsburgh. Olivia’s favorite author was in Pittsburgh for a book signing so Olivia’s father graciously volunteered to drive the girls into the city to meet Maggie Stiefvater at CMU.


Their first stop was lunch:

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It was a fun treat eating lunch in downtown Pittsburgh.

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Then it was on to the author meet and greet.

It began with the “lecture” part of the meeting where the author spent an hour talking to and entertaining her fans, and then a 30 minute Q and A session. The girls all expressed their delight in how entertaining, engaging, and warm she was.

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Then they had the opportunity to have their books signed…

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How fun!

I love that they were so awestruck to meet a favorite author as opposed to being goo goo over a pop star. 🙂

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On the way home they stopped at Pittsburgh Popcorn where Olivia treated all the girls to a bag of flavored popcorn. Grace picked frankenberry flavor and Molly chose kettle corn. Both said it was the best popcorn they have ever had.

11:30- 12:30: Rusty had some time home alone between the time Toby had to take Tyler to his football game (he has to arrive 90 minutes before the start of the game) and the time Ozzie and I arrived home. He used that time to start playing with the stop-motion Minecraft kit that he received from the Caylors for his birthday. When I arrived home he was eager to show me the “movie” he created using stop-motion magic.

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12:00- 1:00 pm: Ozzie helped me do our weekly grocery shopping, followed by a quick stop at Goodwill and  Party City to get some missing pieces for everyone’s Halloween costumes.

1:30 – 4:00pm: Tyler’s team continued their winning streak. Tyler’s football team is now in the play-offs after an undefeated season. Tyler’s coach warned them that the team they were playing this weekend was very good. Tyler was excited to play.

The game began at 2:00 pm.

For the playoff games (in October) the boys are wearing  pink socks in honor of breast cancer awareness month.

Tyler is #20

Tyler is #20

The game began with Tyler’s kick off. Of all the positions Tyler plays on the team being the kicker is his favorite role. He loves it and is really good at it.

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It was a very cold game. Temperatures hovered in the low 40’s. I was glad we brought blankets to the field. Rusty also brought his birthday gift from the Kirks. Just prior to us leaving for the game he discovered a package in the mail from my sister. He opened it up and was excited to see that he received the newest Guinness World Record  book. He decided to take it to the game. He spent more time reading than watching his brother play. 😉

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It was a good game…a really exciting game. But even with this more equally matched play-off team (they played Hopewell) this was the final score:

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They won another game so Tyler’s team will be playing again next week.

( I don’t know whether to cheer or cry)  😉


4:00- 6:00 pm: Finally we were home long enough to get some things scratched off the “to do” list. The early evening was spent getting some yard work done in preparation for the big fall party being held at our home next Saturday. While Toby and the boys worked outside, I worked inside to fill our freezer with some more freezer meals. For this round of “once a  month cooking” I browned 10 pounds of hamburger meat for 10 “freezer to crock-pot meals.” After browning the meat the rest was just assembly. All the meals were assembled in gallon freezer bags so that they would stack nicely in the freezer, taking up as little space as possible.

We made two batches of each of the following dishes:

Homemade spaghetti sauce,


Taco soup,

Sloppy Joes,

and Beef Hash.

It is such a good feeling to tuck some more meals away to be pulled out on cold falls days and dumped into the crock-pot to simmer all day.

Fix it and Forget it!

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While the boys were busy weeding, mowing, and tidying up outside, they discovered that our second batch of baby chicks were hatching. They investigated after seeing a broken egg sitting outside the mommy chicken’s “nest.”

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When Toby lifted her we found out that, sure enough, 4 of her eggs had hatched and she was still working on hatching the last three.

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It is so fun having all these babies around. The moms are doing a beautiful job of keeping all their babies tucked away under the warmth of their feathers…

Which is a blessing because this weekend ended up being a chilly one!


First snow of the season and it’s only October!

5:00-6:00 pm: The girls returned back and began preparing for a church dance. (Chessa went home with Woody since she had a commitment at home) The teens all got ready for the Halloween/ Black light dance. They decided not to wear costumes but rather embrace the fact there would be black lights and dressed accordingly.

This was Rusty’s first dance EVER. He dressed quickly in his neon colors, painting his face with glow in the dark paints and spraying his hair white so it would glow with the black lights.

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Then he waited for the girls. He struggled to understand why they took so much longer to get ready. 🙂

When everyone was dolled up we headed to Cranberry.

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7:00-10:00pm: While Toby stayed home with the “littles” and worked on projects around the house, I drove the big kids to the dance. The decorations were amazing. The gym was decorated in glow-in-the-dark décor, complete with a graffiti wall they kids could write on with highlighters,

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 a “make your own glowing eye glasses/ mustache station,”

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and yummy appetizers.

The leaders went above and beyond to make a really cool night for the youth.


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Rusty’s first slow dance was with Tatum:

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Awww…Love it!

Everyone had a great time.

10:00-11:30pm: I delivered everyone home.

12:00am: Bed, sweet, bed…Oh how I love you!

“Hustle, Hit, Never Quit”


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Well, it is official. Football season has officially begun. After three weeks of nightly practices Tyler and his team, the Blackhawk Cougars, played their first game against the Rochester Rams. Their first game was Saturday, immediately following Gracie’s Storybook Day.

The start of football season always brings a mix of emotions as I attempt to temper that part of myself that abhors team sports while acknowledging the blessings I am seeing in Tyler’s life as a result of playing football.

I face game days with a knot of worry in the pit of my stomach while at the same time getting caught up in the air of excitement and camaraderie that is found in the bleachers of a football game.

Tyler is an athlete and during the months of August through November he lives and breathes football, and while I can’t relate to that sort of passion for sports, I respect his drive and his focus.

Tyler is such a contradiction. While at times his ADHD is so textbook with his inability to pay attention or sit still there are other times, like on the field, where he is intensely focused and driven. As he bends over the ball, waiting to hear his teammate call “hike,” he doesn’t move. There is no distraction. There is no wiggling. There is no messing around.

He is solely focused on the task at hand and job he has to do.

As a mother I delight in seeing this other side of Tyler.

This year his is playing a few positions of his team. (He is #20) He is the center for the offense,

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he plays safety for defense,

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and he is the kicker for the team. Being kicker is his favorite position.

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While I do enjoy watching him play football I find game time very stressful. I don’t realize how tense I am until the final buzzer sounds and the boys line up to shake hands with the opposing team. Then I breathe. Watching Tyler walk off the field is my favorite part of the game. 🙂



It was a great game made all the more exciting by the closely matched teams. Here is a peak into some of Tyler’s plays.

Tyler tackling:

Tyler kicking:

Their team ended up the victors with a winning touchdown by Dante:

Way to go, Cougars!

“Raindrops keep falling on my head”

"Raindrops keep falling on my head"

“Raindrops keep falling on my head”

We enjoyed another weekend packed full of friends, football, and rain…lots and lots of rain. On Friday Rusty was invited to spend the night with friends but before I could take him over we had to take the car in for an oil change. Knowing how long it typically takes the dealership to change our oil I told Rusty that he needed to pack before we left because we probably wouldn’t have time to come back to the house after the oil change. As we were preparing to leave I told Rusty to grab his stuff. He came out of the room carrying a pillow and a sleeping bag and his hand-held video game. When I asked where his bag was he answered, “What bag?”

“The bag with your PJs, change of clothes, toothbrush, toothpaste..” I answered.

He then went on to inform me that you don’t need any of those things for a boy sleepover. He told me that boys don’t wear PJs at a sleepover, they just sleep in their clothes and so there was then no need for a change of clothes for the next day either. “We just wear the same clothes the whole time,” he informed me. 🙂

When I told him he at least needed to grab his toothbrush he told me he didn’t need it because they were going to be eating all night and probably not sleeping.

I found it funny to see how different his packing job was from the girls when they are invited to a slumber party. They pack PJs, their cutest pair of course! They pack their toothbrush and paste, face wash, new clothes, nail polish, moisturizer, hair brushes and bands, pillows, stuffed animals, make-up, board games, CDs…you get the idea. When the girls pack for an over-nighter it looks like they are headed off to college. When Russ packs it looks like he is headed to the mailbox to get the mail. The difference is so funny.

On our way home from dropping Rusty off we stopped at the Dollar Store because Tyler wanted to pick up Rusty’s birthday gift without him around. As we were leaving I ran into a friend who had been on my mind all day. We had a great, albeit quick, visit in the parking lot before I had to get the SUV home to Toby for the evening.

Toby needed the SUV to tow the big trailer. He had ordered the hay we need for the animals this winter and it was ready to be picked up so he and Tyler went to get it. They were gone for a few hours so the girls and I had the house to ourselves Friday night. It was a fun girls’ evening. The girls recently discovered the TV series “Once Upon a Time” on Netflix and have been working their way through season one. Having no boys at home gave them the chance to watch a couple of episodes together.

When the boys arrived home Tyler (and Winnie) found a little friend on the porch. I love Tyler expression in this photo.

When the boys arrived home Tyler (and Winnie) found a little friend on the porch. I love Tyler expression in this photo.

Tyler named him Buster.

Tyler named him Buster.

Saturday morning we woke up to rain. The plans we had for yardwork quickly went out the window. We kept waiting to see if Tyler’s football game would be cancelled but despite the downpours it wasn’t. Earlier in the week we invited Mimi Joy out to watch Tyler play. It probably wasn’t the best week for it. The rain came down steadily during the game and the other team killed ours… but it was still fun.  Tyler was thrilled to have Mimi come out and watch him play.

Tyler playing in the puddles before the game began.

Tyler playing in the puddles before the game began.

The cheering section, led by Mimi Joy :)

The cheering section, led by Mimi Joy 🙂

Gracie, Molly and Rusty

Gracie, Molly and Rusty

After the game Toby headed to work, Mimi left to do her grocery shopping and the kids and I headed home to change into dry clothes. After a warm bath Tyler asked if he could have a cup of Raman noodles. I think the hot soup hit the spot. It served the purpose of warming him up and filling his belly.

After an afternoon of Saturday chores: bedroom cleaning, washing and ironing Sunday outfits, haircuts and nail trimming we had a quick dinner with the boys and then the girls and I headed out to a fun church youth activity.

It was a good weekend…a wet weekend but a good weekend. 🙂

Since Mimi Joy didn’t have the opportunity to see Tyler kick at Saturday’s game I thought I’d include a video from the previous week’s game when we were all a bit drier…

This video doesn’t exist

Labor Day Weekend


Well, it is official. I am now a mother of a high school student..and a 7th grader,  a 6th grader, and a 1st grader. I am still trying to wrap my brain around how it is even possible that Gracie is old enough for high school when it feels like only yesterday we were getting her ready for her first day of kindergarten. Time is a funny thing. I once heard mothering described as a collection of long days and short years.

My highschool student!

My highschool student!

This week for Gracie’s “one on one” time she asked if we could get out old family videos and watch her first Christmas together. We popped some popcorn, snuggled on the couch while the other kids played outside, and we watched Gracie’s first Christmas. I hadn’t looked at that video for 13 years and it was such a fun trip down memory lane. As we watched video of Christmas at Mimi and Pop pop’s old home we laughed at the changes in everyone’s looks, commented on the changes that took place in Mimi’s home over the years, reminisced over the pets in the video that are no longer with us, and, of course, oohed and awwwed over how cute Gracie was as a baby. It was a sweet journey down memory lane with my baby girl.

Last week was the start of school for both girls. The boys start school today. Now that we have the kids in 3 different cyber schools their calendars are all a bit different. I thought it would be an inconvenience to have them start school on different days but it actually worked out really well. I was able to get the girls settled in their new school routines and new schoolwork before we added the boys to the mix and the boys enjoyed their time together while the girls did schoolwork. They boys spent most of the week either in the pool or playing “pirates” on their giant pirate ship (The McDonald’s Play Place).


Both girls had a great first week. Molly’s classes are pretty similar to last year’s classes so it was Grace who I worked with most this week as she adjusted to a new school and high school classes. She is really enjoying it though. She likes the independence of working on her own, setting her own pace and working through the materials. She is especially enjoying her biology and digital photography classes.


On Saturday we attended our first “pee wee” football game as a family. Last week was Tyler’s first game but Toby was the only one to go because of the open house we had at our home that started at 2:00. Although Tyler’s team lost by a touchdown it was still a great game and a lot of fun to see him out on the field. He played hard and really enjoyed the experience.

The cheering section..

The cheering section..


The rest of our Labor Day weekend was spent getting projects done around the house and preparing for school starting on Tuesday. We spent a good portion of the weekend cutting down trees, cutting firewood and splitting logs to get enough firewood for winter. We heat our home with an outdoor wood furnace so it was imperative that we get our wood supply in order before November. We were able to get about half of our needed supply cut and stacked this weekend. A few more Saturdays and we will be set.

Cutting firewood

Cutting firewood

As I sit and type this the kids are still sleeping and the noise and chaos has yet to ensue. I can’t believe summer is over. Every year when May hits I am ready for school to be done. I am ready for less structure and routine, more lazy days and less schoolwork. As July turns to August I always feel a rush of anxiety about summer coming to a close as I look at all of the projects I planned to accomplish in the summer months that I haven’t gotten to yet. Then as August moves into September my heart changes again. I find myself ready to abandon the lazy, unstructured days of summer for more routine. I find myself excited for school and fall and more “normalcy” (if that is even a word.) 🙂 School begins today and I’m excited. I’m excited about co-op beginning again, about the weather cooling off, about fall leaves, sweaters and pumpkins. It was a wonderful summer..probably the best one ever…but I am now ready to let go of it and move on to the next season.

As I look back on our journey with Grace from her 1st Christmas to her first day of highschool I realize that is what this journey is all about..looking back on yesterday’s season of life with fondness, enjoying the sweet memories of that season, but embracing the next season you are entering….because although summer has lazy days, fun at the beach, ice cream and lemonaid…Autumn has corn mazes, frost covered pumpkins and hot apple cider. Each season is part of our story and if we aren’t willing to turn the page we will never get to read the wonderful parts that are coming up…. Onto the next chapter!


Let’s go Bucs!


As I sat down to write this morning I realized that the last time I posted was the day after Tyler’s adoption. The night of Tyler’s adoption, as we sat together as a family for prayers and scripture study, we all went around the room and said one thing we were grateful to God for. Having just signed adoption papers most of our gratitudes were about Tyler’s adoption. When we got to Rusty he paused to think for a moment and then said, “I’m grateful that we will never have to clean our home again!” I think the constant visits and inspections by the social workers took its toll on Russ. 🙂 I told him that I’d give him the week off but eventually we would have to clean again for the sake of health and safety. 🙂  So..that is what we did. We took the week off from everything. I think the stress of always having to be “on” took its toll on all of us because this past week we all collapsed and did nothing productive at all including updating my blog so here is what has been happening at Patchwork Farm..

We have a new litter of baby bunnies. We discovered them when we returned home from the beach. They are now bouncing around and have their eyes open. The kids are thrilled…especially Gracie!


IMG_8579Tyler is now in football. I have been stretched by Tyler. I have found myself humbled time and time again as I have had to face all the “my child will NEVER” comments that I made when Gracie, Molly and Rusty were little. Tyler played football before he came to live with us and has asked us since the day he moved in if he could play again. In the spring we signed him up for soccer and the experience was more positive than I expected. The soccer coaches (a husband and wife team) were wonderful. The practice was once a week, they didn’t keep score, and it was all about learning skills and having fun. I assumed football would be the same, after all we are talking about a group of 6 year olds..right?  Wrong. We have entered another world. When we signed him up last Monday I had no idea we were signing our life away for the next few months. Football is nothing like soccer.. In soccer we practiced once a week..in football we practice five times a week.  In soccer practices lasted 45 minutes…in football they last 2 1/2 hours.  In soccer there was a lot of laughing and goofing off..in football there is a lot of grunting, yelling and no goofing off allowed. When we showed up to the first practiced the coach greeted the boys with this question, “What is the number one rule in football?” The boys shouted back suggestions of what they thought the number one rule might be. When nobody answered correctly the coach shouted, “No! The number one rule of football is: We are mean! We are tough! We are nasty!”IMG_8824 I watched in horror as my sweet little boy chanted this mantra with all the other 6 year olds. They followed this chant with growling and grunting. I looked at Toby, who was loving it, and whispered, ” How about we are kind! We are compassionate! We play fair!” Toby just rolled his eyes at me.  🙂

I will say that after a week of sitting on the sidelines, in a haze of testosterone, I am either becoming immune or resigned to my fate because I am less horrified now than I was a week ago. On the up side: Tyler loves it, he is sleeping better than ever before, and he really responds to the strict discipline of football. Toby thinks this will be the best thing in the world for Tyler..I’m reserving judgement for now. 🙂

IMG_8746On Monday we had the opportunity to attend a Pirates baseball game. Our adoption agency has activities a few times a year that they offer to adoptive families and families waiting for a placement.  One of these activities is a Pirates game. Last year when we were offered free tickets we took 6 because we thought Tyler might be scheduled for his first overnight visit then but it was moved to the following week so he wasn’t able to go. We were looking forward to going as a family this year but then life got in the way. Gracie had a slumber party and Toby and Tyler had football practice so it was just Molly, Rusty and I. Molly took her best friend, Tatum. It was a lot of fun.IMG_8745 PNC park was packed and the atmosphere was thrilling. This was Tatum’s first time there so it was fun to see her reactions to the hot dog gun, the pierogi races and the 7th inning stretch. We sat in a section reserved for adoptive families and it was neat seeing the dynamic of the various families. There were families that adopted sibling groups, international adoptions and infant adoptions. We ended up winning 9-2 against the St. Louis Cardinals. It was a great game and a fun night…Let’s go Bucs!

IMG_8810The following morning we met up with our friends from co-op for a mid-summer get together at the pool. It was nice seeing our home school friends that we haven’t seen all summer and catching up on each other’s lives. The kids had a blast playing and the moms enjoyed visiting without interruptions.


Tyler was especially glad to see his best friend, Simon. He has been wanting to see Simon all summer and has been asking for a play date for months. Now that his adoption is finalized he finally gets to do things like play dates and slumber parties with his buddy. This Saturday Simon is coming over for the day and Tyler can’t wait!