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Celebrate!

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Last week was a full week. After arriving home from our trip to the UP of Michigan our week quickly filled up with appointments (orthodontist for Grace and shots for Molly), football practice, school preparations, Tyler’s 7th birthday and preparing for our open house adoption celebration on Saturday. It truly was a whirlwind sort of week.
We decided that for our open house we wanted to have an ice cream sundae bar so on Wednesday, after Gracie’s orthodontist appointment, we took advantage of a gift card we had to Yumberries, a frozen yogurt place, to “steal” topping ideas for our sundae bar. It’s a fun place. Along the wall there are a variety of frozen yogurt flavors and toppings for you to use to create your own delicious dish. It was a yummy treat and it also sparked our creativity for topping shopping later that evening.

Yumberries!

Yumberries!

Wednesday night after taking Rusty to taekwondo we stopped at Aldis to buy tubs of ice cream for the party. It was quite the endeavour to try to figure out how many tubs of ice cream to purchase for 200 guests. We ended up buying 13 tubs of ice cream which we later found out was a bit excessive but on the up side we will be able to enjoy ice cream for months to come. As we were leaving we had a few people stop and ask us if they could follow us home 🙂

Shopping for ice cream!

Shopping for ice cream!

Thursday was spent preparing for the party..cleaning the house, mowing the yard, etc. Thursday was also the day the house painting was completed and the McDonald’s Play Place was done. It was finished just in time and after laying mulch underneath it was ready for the party.

Our new McDonald's Play Place that Toby won at an auction.

Our new McDonald’s Play Place that Toby won at an auction.

Friday we celebrated Tyler’s 7th birthday and his first official birthday as a McCleery. As is our tradition we woke him early, before Toby left for work, with a cupcake and the family singing “Happy Birthday.” He woke with a smile and enjoyed his breakfast cupcake.

Good morning birthday boy!

Good morning birthday boy!

We spent the day finishing the last of the party preparations with the promise that we would celebrate Tyler’s birthday as soon as Daddy arrived home. When Toby came home we had Tyler’s birthday dinner and then let him open his gifts before we went out to the movies for his birthday treat. It was fun to see what each of the kids came up with for Tyler’s gifts. The effort and creativity they put into coming up with special gifts for him touched my heart. Rusty planned a treasure hunt for Tyler which lead to his gift. Tyler enjoyed following the clues and really loved the gift at the end which was a gift bag of some of Rusty’s toys that Tyler had admired in the past. After opening the gift he jumped up and gave Russ a big hug and told him that he was the best brother ever. Rusty was really touched by that. Molly gave Tyler an “imagination kit” that she made. Tyler loves to play “imagination” with Molly. Molly comes up with a story line and the three youngest will play for hours. Molly’s “imagination kit” included a magic wand that she made, a jar of fairy dust (glitter), invisibility bands (bracelets), Power up  chews that bring you back to life when you die (gum), etc. It was very clever and Tyler couldn’t wait to play. Grace bought Tyler a Webkinz and then made a house to go with it. Toby and I bought Tyler some action figures after seeing how much he loved playing with Nate’s while we were on vacation.

Gracie's gift to Tyler.

Gracie’s gift to Tyler.

It was wonderful to be able to celebrate a very special boy on his very special day!

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The next day was our adoption open house. The morning was spent putting up signs at the end of the road, setting up tables and chairs, decorating and running to the store for balloons and last-minute items. At noon Toby and Tyler left for his first football game. When we scheduled the party we didn’t realize we would have a scheduling conflict with football so as a result Tyler was an hour late for his own party. It worked out well though..he won his game and I think it was less overwhelming walking into a party that was already going on than to be in the spotlight as everyone arrived.

All ready for the fun to begin!

All ready for the fun to begin!

My big helpers!

My big helpers!

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Soon friends and family began to arrive. We couldn’t have asked for better weather or better company. We were blessed to have family there as well as friends from all areas of our lives..high school friends, church friends, home school friends, etc. It was a joyous day!

When people arrived we asked them to sign our "guest book." Here are the names of some of the special people who have walked this adoption road with us and joined us to celebrate.

When people arrived we asked them to sign our “guest book.” Here are the names of some of the special people who have walked this adoption road with us and joined us to celebrate.

We had the fire going for smores..

We had the fire going for smores..

..and games for the kids.

..and games for the kids.

After everyone left I took a minute to sit by the fire and reflect on the day…My heart overflowed with gratitude for my blessings…for loving family, for dear, dear friends who came out to celebrate with us, for a summer full of special memories, for my husband and my children and for a monumental year. Last year at this time we were waiting for Tyler’s placement in our home. What a difference a year makes. Monday school begins and summer ends. What a beautiful way to bring summer to a close and enter the next season of our lives. God is good.

I love Mondays..really, I do!

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Cooking lesson with Gracie

Taking out the trash

I love Mondays..the day so many dread I look forward to. I love Mondays because they are the only day I don’t have to go somewhere!  As a result Mondays tend to be my most productive days. It is amazing how having to leave your home for an hour or two completely breaks up the momentum of the day.

The day began with morning chores followed by schoolwork. It was a very productive day and much was accomplished. After a break for lunch we worked until 3:00. Tyler had a tough school day. He just didn’t want anything to do with phonics so my solution was to do school in short 10 minute increments then send him outside to jump on the trampoline for 10 minutes. Winnie loved trampoline time. As Tyler jumped Winnie would try biting his feet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each of the older kids have a half an hour of “Tyler  time” in their school schedule where they are in charge of planning an educational game or activity to do with him. This is their time to bond with each other, to be the teacher instead of the student, and this also frees me up to work with one of the other kids without distraction.  Gracie uses her “Tyler time” to do a cooking lesson each day. Tyler loves it. They put on their aprons,wash their hand and then cook! It is fun for Tyler to learn some basic cooking skills but what he really loves is getting to sample his creations at the end. It works out well because cooking time comes about mid morning when he is ready for a snack and then it tides him over until lunch.  Today they used some of their Halloween candy and made graham cracker gingerbread houses. It was a hit!

Mondays are our weekly house cleaning day. When we finished school for the day everyone grabbed their cleaning supplies and began. We set our kitchen timer for an hour and started our respective chores. Rusty is in charge of feather dusting the house and wiping all the flat surfaces. Molly is my windex girl..she cleans all the windows (inside), mirrors, and kitchen/ bathroom counters. Gracie does the floors. She sweeps and mops all the hardwood floors in the house. Tyler does the toilets and takes out the trash. I am in charge of bathtubs, vacuuming, restocking toilet paper in the bathrooms, kitchen clean up and changing sheets. Between the five of us the house is pretty well maintained in that hour of hard work a week. It always amazes me how much we can accomplish if everyone pitches in and helps 🙂

Rusty’s one on one time.

After our weekly cleaning it was Rusty’s time. From the time the kids were little we assigned them days. This was originally established to prevent fighting. If it was your day you got the benefits and consequences of that. Some of the consequences might be if I needed someone to do an extra chore or run and get something for me it would be that person’s responsibility. The benefits might include being able to sit in the front seat or get the last ice cream sandwich in the freezer, etc. It was a wonderful way to stop the arguing over whose turn it was to do a chore or get a privilege.  As the kids grew older I desired to build my relationships with them individually but often found it hard to make time for that “one on one” attention so their day also came with the privilege of an hour of one on one time with me. At 4:00 everyday the child whose day it is gets my undivided attention while the others go into their room to play. What we do during this time is totally up to them..they get to pick. The girls often want to bake or work on a craft, Rusty will often want to build legos or play a game together and Tyler usually wants to do something outdoors or athletic. His days always stretch my abilities as he requests activities like bike riding or tree climbing.

Mondays are Rusty’s days so for his time he decided he wanted to copy Gracie’s cooking class and make a gingerbread house. We also used his time to work on some things for boy scouts. I love this time of getting to talk and bond with one child. It is one of my favorite times of the day.

After dinner we had family night. We wanted to talk to the kids (aka Tyler) about choices, consequences, and obedience in a  fun, non threatening way so we did a lesson on Jonah and the whale. After reading the story and discussing what we could learn from the story we went fishing! I printed out  paper fish with different choices on them and the kids went fishing off the loft into the “waters” below. When they would catch a fish we would read it and decide if it was a good fish (choice) worth keeping or a bad fish (choice) that we needed to throw back. We ended with a snack of whale crackers.

The kiddos fishing.

So was it an effective lesson?? Fast forward 20 minutes when Tyler opens a piece of candy after Toby has told him no. Tyler begins his melt down..

Toby: “you need to be obedient when I tell you to do something.”

Molly:  ” what did we learn from tonight’s lesson about Jonah?”

Rusty:”…watch out Tyler, here comes a whale”

Thanks Rusty 🙂

Oh “whale”..we tried..and we will keep on trying.