Tag Archives: games

Happy Birthday, Tyler!


Last Wednesday marked the first day of the 2017/2018 school year for my kiddos, but it also was significant in that it was a certain little boy’s birthday!

There are traditions in our family that come with it being your birthday. One of which is a day off of school if your birthday falls on a school day. This year the first day of school happened to also be Tyler’s birthday so he got to begin the new school year a day later. Instead of doing school he chose to go to work with Dad.

The day began with us waking Tyler up early with the traditional cupcake and birthday song.

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He then prepared to go to work with Daddy. He had a date that day that he was looking forward to. Mimi Joy invited him out for a birthday lunch and a shopping trip to pick out his birthday gift. Since Toby is currently working at Joy’s house it all worked out perfectly. Tyler got his day with Dad and also his birthday date with Mimi… and I got 8 hours with just the big kids.

It really was a gift for me as well.

For the first time in a long time I didn’t have to actively parent. I was able to get some tasks done and prepare for the upcoming school year with no interruptions. The house was so still and silent with Molly and Rusty anxiously engaged in their studies and everyone else out of the house.

It gave me the opportunity to just be.

To hear myself think.

To be creative.

To hear the whisperings of the Spirit…

all of which have been a struggle amid the escalation that has become the new “normal” in our home.

For the first time in months I felt myself exhale. Tyler was having a wonderful birthday with Mimi Joy and Daddy, Ozzie was in a safe place, and I could just focus on the big kids and my own needs. It was a God-orchestrated respite…one that would prove to be all the more essential when hit with new trials in the days that followed.

While Tyler was away I was able to prepared for his celebration that evening. We were blessed that both girls would be able to be home for Tyler’s birthday. No one had work…a rare occurrence nowadays…so we were able to plan for a family celebration.

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Having just seen “The Emoji Movie,” Tyler requested an Emoji themed birthday celebration.

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Being an 11 year old boy with a love for inappropriately funny bathroom humor, we indulged him with poop emoji cupcakes.

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He was thrilled, so the lowering of all my parenting standards was worth it.

Tyler’s request for his birthday was that we all go to an arcade and play games together. This activity combines all the things Tyler loves most: games, competition, and time with family. We decided that since Toby was already working in Cranberry, we would meet up at Fun Fore All. I went online and found coupons for $5.00 of free tokens with the purchase of $10.00 and printed them out.

We met up with Toby and Tyler in Cranberry and had a fun evening of playing arcade games.

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Then we returned home for the birthday celebration.

The kids all had gifts they had purchased/recycled for Tyler. Each were excited with the gift they found and were eager to give their gift to Tyler.

Rusty gave Tyler some Minecraft figurines and a yoga ball:


Molly gave Tyler a “Just Dance” Wii game:


And Grace bought Tyler a game that she played at a recent Young Men/ Young Women activity called, “Lightning Reaction Reloaded.”

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In this game each player is racing other players to have the fastest reflexes. Four players each take hold of game handle and watch as the light in the middle of the game board blinks red, all while playing spooky music. When the light turns green you must press the button on your handle as fast as you can, trying not to be the last one to click your button. If you are the last player to click in then an electric current passes through your handle giving you a shock.

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It is one of those games that cause my blood pressure to rise as I am overcome with anxious anticipation while playing, but for Tyler it is everything he thrives with: competition, high stakes, elevated adrenaline, and quick reflexes.

The game was a hit!

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Tyler’s gift from Mom and Dad was the one item on his birthday wish list: light up shoes.

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He has been asking for light up shoes for a year and was thrilled when he received them for his birthday.


We ended our celebration with poop emoji cupcakes.

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Happy birthday, Tyler! We love you bunches!!

love emoji

Games, Games, and more Games with G.G!


There is someone we deeply love..

We call her G.G.

This past week we had the joy of being able to get all 10 of G.G.’s great grandchildren together for a very special reunion. This is the first time we have been able to coordinate schedules, since the addition of Charlie and Ozzie to our families, for a reunion with Grandma with all the great grandkids.

What a special day it was!

When we arrived Mimi and Pop Pop were picking up lunch, so we had some one on one time with G.G. We gathered the kids (before everyone scattered) to get a Great Grandma picture. What a joy it was to see G.G. with all her great grandkids. What a beautiful legacy!

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The day at the Homestead was filled with Fun, Fun, and more FUN, as we celebrated some birthdays, had a picnic lunch, and played many games.

The morning began with some impromptu yard games as the kids waited for Mimi and Pop Pop to return. They had foot races, three-legged races, enjoyed the rope swing, and played in the sandbox with the babies.

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Rusty and Nate, do I see some cheating going on?

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After a while Lydia pulled out her recent purchase: Ban Boozled, which the kids thoroughly enjoyed playing!

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Bean Boozled is game of risk which involved tasting different jelly beans, not knowing what flavor you might get. Each color of jelly bean could be one of two flavors: a tasty treat or a really nasty flavor!

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You spin the game spinner and pick the jelly bean that matches the color the spinner lands on. Some of the kids lucked out and got to enjoy a tasty jelly bean flavor…

Some did not!

Here is what it looks like when you bite down on a skunk spray, booger, or a moldy cheese jelly bean:

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Miss Lydia was so kind to share her game, although I’m not sure the kids felt the same way!

Noah eating a baby wipes flavored jelly bean.

Noah eating a baby wipes flavored jelly bean.

Ozzie NOT enjoying a moldy cheese flavored jelly bean...UGH!

Ozzie NOT enjoying a moldy cheese flavored jelly bean…UGH!

I think this was an example of a time when it was more fun to be a spectator to a game of chance than a participant!  😉

For lunch we enjoyed a picnic outside. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The sun was shining but the temperature was just cool enough to make it comfortable.

After lunch we had our birthday celebrations for our three August birthday kids. Tyler, Lydia, and Noah all celebrate their birthdays this week so we had a combined birthday party for them.

They took turns opening their gifts.

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From Mimi and Pop Pop Tyler received a zombie action figure that, as he shoots it, body parts fall off. The goal is to bring down the zombie before it reaches you. They couldn’t have picked a better gift for a nine-year-old boy!

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Pop Pop showing Tyler how it's done!

Pop Pop showing Tyler how it’s done!

Then it was time for cake:

Tyler and Lydia: The Bobbsey Twins :) They are cousins through adoption, with no shared genetics, and yet they look like twins...Crazy!

Tyler and Lydia: The Bobbsey Twins 🙂 They are cousins through adoption, with no shared genetics, and yet they look like twins…Crazy!

After lunch and cake they kids went out into the yard to have fun with the rocket balloons G.G. brought for them. Other than a few tears by the little ones over multiple popped balloons, the rocket balloons were a huge hit!



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In the afternoon we pulled out the supplies for our “Minute to Win It” game. I had volunteered to plan a group game and decided that since it had been a while since we had a “Minute to Win It” battle, it was time…

Time for some friendly, SILLY, family competition. We split the family into two teams with Sammy and Nate being the team captains. They chose their teams a member at a time, with Nate choosing most of the kids and Sammy choosing mostly adults. We had eight different challenges planned. For each challenge the teams picked one of their players to compete. Here are a look at some of the silly battles that ensued:

Sammy having to transfer cotton balls from one bowl to another using the dab of Vasaline on his nose.

Sammy having to transfer cotton balls from one bowl to another using the dab of Vaseline on his nose.

Mummy Wrap!

Mummy Wrap!

Unicorn challenge in which Grace and Kelly had to stack cookies 7 high on their forehead without letting them fall.

Unicorn challenge in which Grace and Kelly had to stack cookies 7 high on their forehead without letting them fall.

The M&M challenge was a hit. Tyler was a pro at moving those M&Ms one at a time, from one bowl to the other, using only lung power and a straw.

The M&M challenge was a hit. Tyler was a pro at moving those M&Ms one at a time, from one bowl to the other, using only lung power and a straw.

My favorite challenge of the day was elephant walk in which Dad and Lydia put on their trunks (pantyhose with weights at the end) and had to knock over a line of water bottles.

My favorite challenge of the day was elephant walk in which Dad and Lydia put on their trunks (pantyhose with weights at the end) and had to knock over a line of water bottles.


And of course what “Minute to Win It” competition would be complete without “Cookie Face.” The kids had to place a cookie on their forehead, and using only their face muscles, they had to move the cookie to their mouth. This one was a hoot to watch!

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IMG_9513 (2)The day ended with chip and dip and visiting in the evening and by 7:30pm it was time to get on the road. What a perfect day with family. It was wonderful being all together and letting the kids make some special memories with their great grandma.

We loaded all 10 kids in the car for the 2 1/2 hour drive home, and rode off into the sunset. 🙂


What a blessing it was to be able to fit everyone in our new van: 2 adults and 10 kids. Love it!

Stay tuned for more cousin adventures!

All fun and games


“Learn together… pray together… work together… play together”

This is what we have adopted as our family mantra, and while not always successful, we strive to live our life by this pattern.

Saturday we had the opportunity to work on all four of these areas of our relationship as we had a “stay at home” Saturday…

a rare and wonderful treat!

The morning was spent catching up on chores, working on “fix up” projects around the house, and doing a little spring clean up in the yard. The sun was out and it was a beautiful day. No one wanted to be indoors, so much of our day was spent working on outdoor projects.

I did a little decorating and crafting. When I was out at my Mom’s house for girls’ weekend I picked up a few old board games at a thrift store for $1.00/each. I had something special planned for the scrabble board. 🙂



Another fun “game” decoration I found in Ohio.



Toby also had a “honey dew” list he was working on. One of his tasks for the day was to set up an air hockey table. Friends were getting rid of the air hockey table in their basement and we were thrilled when they offered us first dibs. Tyler was particularly thrilled when Toby came home with it. Saturday afternoon, with the help of the big kids, the table was maneuvered up the stairs to the playroom to be set up.


We promised the kids that we would have a family tournament later, after we were done working for the day.

For dinner we enjoyed our first bonfire of the year and roasted hot dogs. Grace went out with a friend for a belated birthday dinner so it was just the four youngest. It was a beautiful evening and it was so much fun being outside.

It was a beautiful spring day.

It was a beautiful spring day.

The kids coloring o the outdoor chalkboard.

The kids coloring on the outdoor chalkboard.

The sun just starting to set.

The sun just starting to set.

Tyler enjoying family time.

Tyler enjoying family time.

Time to roast hot dogs!

Time to roast hot dogs!


Winnie wants a bite!

Winnie wants a bite!

First s'more of the season.

First s’more of the season.

After dinner we moved up to the playroom for our tournament. We set up the chalkboard to keep score of who won each round.


We began with Rusty playing Molly.


Molly won!

Then Toby and I played each other.


Toby won…shocking, I know!

Then Tyler and Ozzie played against each other with Tyler winning the game.


For round two Tyler and Toby played…with Toby winning.

For the final round it was Toby vs Molly.


It was a very close game.

Molly was our final champion!


It was a fun way to end a productive Saturday at home.

Friendship Tag


“Be crazy. Be silly. Be weird. Be whatever.

Because life is too short to be anything but happy.”

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While at the Homestead the kids initiated a rousing game of Friendship Tag.

The rules are simple:

Everyone pairs off with another partner to begin.

They link arms.

The pairs stand in a circle.

The one who is “it” begins in the center of the circle with the first one to be chased.

The game begins.

The premise is simple…avoid being tagged.

You gain safety by being linked to another. When a person links with an already existing pair the person on the other side must jump off the link and run across the circle to link with another person,

all while they avoid being tagged.

The result is crazy, chaotic, laugh out loud fun!

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I don’t know when I’ve laughed so hard. How grateful I am to call this crazy group:

My family!

My cup overfloweth!

Everyday Moments


“Moments are the Molecules that make up Eternity.” -Neal A. Maxwell

Often my blog posts revolve around a trip, an experience, or an event. I find myself waiting until something “big enough” happens to justify a blog post when in reality the majority of our days are full of beautifully ordinary moments. Here is a compilation of some of our everyday moments…

The moments that make up our life.

Our bunnies have done it again. No matter how many lectures we give, or how much time we invest in separating the boy bunnies from the girl bunnies we continue to get baby bunnies. 🙂 Not that it is a bad thing. The kids like taking care of the babies and they like the money they can make at auction when they sell the grown babies. The dead of winter just isn’t the most ideal time to have new babies…but ideal or not, they are here!

And the kids are loving them. 🙂


Hide and go seek has been the game of the month at our house. It is one of the few games Tyler and Ozzie can play well together with little fighting. I suspect it may be so successful due to the large amount of time the spend APART from each other while playing the game. One hides, one seeks…the amount of face to face time is minimal.

Tyler prides himself on being the best hider in the family…often to his own detriment. We have had more that one experience of seeking out a hiding Tyler, calling for help because he hid so well, in such a tight spot, that he found himself STUCK! I have been part of more than one search and rescue mission this past week.

Here he is getting into position…



This week Tyler lost another tooth. Loose teeth don’t last long at our house. As soon as it begins to wiggle the boys are on a mission to get it out. Tyler spent all day yanking and pulling in an effort to get it out and under his pillow before bed. His hard work paid off and he was eager to see what the tooth fairy would bring.

Bedtime came and Tyler decided to write a letter to Florence, our tooth fairy. He had questions he wanted answered  so he wrote a note and left it under the pillow with his tooth. As I tucked him in, he informed me that Florence would answer his questions with a pink pen. I asked how he knew that. He informed me that pink was our tooth fairy’s favorite color. Preparing him for the possibility of disappointment, I told him that maybe she just carried a blue or black pen. “No,” he responded, as he patted my hand reassuringly, “She uses only pink pens.”

(Any guess what I spent my evening doing?)

Well, what do you know…Tyler was right. She came, she wrote, and it was a pink pen! She also left him her usual dollar coin. 🙂


At the beginning of January, Grace and Molly came to me looking for ideas. They had decided that together they were going to set a personal goal of performing a service project for others each month in the New Year. We sat down and made a list of possible service projects. From there they narrowed down their list and made a plan for the year. They decided February’s service project would be free babysitting. They made these fliers to hand out at church on Sunday. They were thrilled to receive multiple calls this week from couples wanting to take advantage of their service.

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This past Thursday was date night. Every Thursday night is my grocery shopping night. A few years ago, in an effort to make grocery shopping something more enjoyable, Toby and I turned it into date night. We would grocery shop, run errands and then go out to dinner and enjoy one on one time without kiddos. When Tyler moved in we could no longer go out with Grace babysitting, so for a while I just shopped on my own, until God put an idea on my heart… Rather than waste that time performing the mundane task of grocery shopping  on my own I realized that time could be utilized for bonding one on one with the kids. Since then Thursday night has evolved into date night with the kids. Every five weeks they get to go grocery shopping with me. They are a big help and they enjoy the benefits of getting to pick the cereals, fruits, and snacks for the week. Afterward they get dinner out. They get to pick the restaurant. The only rule is that they must pick a place where we can both eat for a combined total of $10.00. Last week was Ozzie’s week and he chose to take advantage of Pizza Hut’s dinner box deal for $10.00. What a deal!

We have found Aldi (where we grocery shop) and most restaurants are dead on Thursday night. This was true for Pizza Hut. We were the only ones dining. Ozzie and I played a game as we waited. He could ask me anything about my childhood he wanted to know and then I would take a turn asking him about his past. It was a chance to let him open up about his past and share his memories in a non threatening way. It was also a special way to bond…

Hopefully we will eventually reach the point with the boys that Gracie can babysit and Toby and I can reclaim our date night. But for now this is a pretty good Plan B. 🙂


On Friday night Rusty and Toby  joined the boy scouts for a winter campout and fun winter activities with other scout troops in the area. The low temp  for the night was 4 degrees…Brrrrr!

But even with the cold temperatures Rusty had a great time!


The weekend is only half done. Tonight I sit at home with the two little boys, nursing my sore hip that I somehow threw out of whack, while Toby takes the big kids to an ice skating activity with church. Tomorrow is another full day with church and Super Bowl party with friends,

all while we brace for the possibility of 6-8 more inches of snow.

Some days it feels as though time is passing so quickly

as one moment rolls into the next…

but I am grateful for each moment, whether thrilling or mundane…

for these moments truly are what make up our Eternity.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home