Tag Archives: making do

Learning a bit about “Making do”


Life has thrust us into a simpler existence…

An existence that moves at a slower pace, promotes stillness and self-reflection. Life has transitioned away from the frantic pace of keeping up to a slow crawl that promotes mindfulness and presence. The tragedy that is unfolding around us has left mankind readjusting their pace and their trajectory, as we all get use to a new kind of “normal,” but crisis and chaos have the power to birth a better way of being.

One of the blessings I have seen born out of the challenges of today, is a new way of navigating life. No longer driven by speed and ease, we find ourselves navigating by new standards. Even in this short season of quarantine I see in myself a greater consciousness of how finite things are. It has changed the way I live, the choices we make, the care we give, and the things we value. Gone are the days when everything was expendable and replaceable. We are all now looking at our environment through eyes of cautious conservation, and old adages like this one, are becoming our guiding principle:

use it up

Haircuts at Home

After weeks of the boys getting shaggier and shaggier, and barber shops shut down around the state, we decided to take matters into our own hands. The impromptu front porch barber shop was born out of a request by Grace who asked if I could give her bangs. She was looking for a change and decided bangs were just the thing she needed to give her a lift.

When Braden heard that Grace was getting her hair cut, he quickly requested that he be added the list. Rusty also chimed in that he was in need of a haircut and Tyler, who had no interest in getting his hair cut, was added to the queue despite his protests.

We started with the boys. Toby ran the clippers and I worked with scissors.


Rusty’s cut was nice and easy, as he just wanted his hair buzzed.


Braden and Tyler chose to buzz the sides and keep the top long, with just some trimming to get those curls under control.


This was my first attempt at recreating the cuts they usually get at Great Clips, but I was quite proud of the finished results. Not bad for a pandemic haircut!


When the boys were all trimmed up and looking more like young men than cavemen, Grace took her place in the hot seat so I could give her the bangs she was requesting. She was tickled pink with the finished look:


Making Masks

Our dining room has slowly transformed into a greenhouse for the garden seedlings and a sewing center for making masks.

Last Friday Grace, Molly and I sat down to make plans for sewing masks, following  Governor Wolf’s announcement that all Pennsylvanian’s should be wearing masks when out in public. We spent time online researching different patterns and then went searching through the house for needed supplies. Our plan was to set up an assembly line in the dinning room and use the down time between General Conference sessions over the weekend to sew masks for family and to donate to others.

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I was in charge of the scissors and took on the task of cutting out the pieces for the masks.

Molly took her place at the ironing board, ironing and pinning the pieces I gave her before they were handed over to Gracie to be sewn together.

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Working together we were able to sew mask after mask while visiting and enjoying each other’s company.

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The finished results were modeled by these two (not so) eager models:

Prepping the Garden

Never has the necessity for garden felt as pressing for our family as it does this year. With so much uncertainty in the world the push to prep our garden, with the goal of growing fresh vegetables at home, has driven us to reassess our gardens. The last few summers have been so busy that our gardens have been sorely neglected.  Busyness certainly isn’t an issue at the moment so we have been focusing on getting our gardens ready for planting,

Part of that process includes some new raised beds.


This is a project Braden and Toby have been working on together.


As a result, Braden has been learning some new skills while also being a big help for Toby.


Making our own Fun

It has been a blessing to be forced to slow down and focus on the important rather than the urgent. Having the time to just be present with my family has been the greatest gift that has come out of this challenging time. Daily family walks, meals at the table with the entire family present, pockets of playfulness and unscheduled discovery have been great  gifts.

The other day, as we were working in the yard, the kids came across a pile of unopened geodes that we brought home from our Kentucky houseboat trip a few years ago. We lugged them home with plans to break them open at home but they ended up in a forgotten pile of rubble at the corner of the yard.

Once rediscovered, yardwork was put on hold, hammers were gathered and we enjoyed an impromptu science lesson on the front walk.


The kids took turns breaking open the geodes to discover the beauty hidden within very ordinary looking stones…


Enjoying the experience with childlike wonder.

Getting Ready for Bees

Toby has been kept busy with many a project around the house. Not only is he using this time at home to work his way down the list of repairs that have needed done, but he has also taken on some new projects as we focus on increased self-sustainability at Patchwork Farm.

One of those projects has been to build a second beehive.

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In May he will be picking up the bees he ordered from a local farmer, so for now he is getting their digs all set before they move in.

Cleaning out the Deep Freezer

We have also been accomplishing many cleaning and organization tasks around the house. We have dedicated a couple hours each day to work on cleaning out and organizing those areas of the house that tend to be overlooked. We have been working on cleaning out and organizing the basement. As part of that project we have been cleaning out the deep freezer and getting rid of the food that has expired.

Harley, our pot belly pig has been the greatest benefactor of our efforts…


Although the dogs and cats have reaped the rewards as well!!


The other day Molly took a tub of expired cool whip out to Harley, making him the happiest pig to ever walk the earth!


You would have thought he had died and gone to heaven.


His grunts of joy and enthusiastic consumption of that sweet treat made us all smile with delight.


Oh, how we love our silly pig!


A New Chicken Yard

The chickens have also benefited from Toby’s increased time at home during this season of quarantine. We moved the new chicks into the old chicken coop and needed to rehome the older hens to a different area of the farm. We decided to use the frame of the old, torn trampoline, along with materials found around the farm, to build a new chicken house and chicken yard outside.


Once the area was set up and secure, Toby and Rusty moved the old chickens to their new digs, so as to make space for the 13 new chicks.

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It was an ingenious solution that made use of what we had on hand.

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It has been a great blessing to revert back to a place where ingenuity and creativity are needed. Out of daily needs (that can’t be met in traditional ways) come solutions that are even better than the “typical” and “easy” ways things were done before.

I appreciate the skills my kids are learning as a result of a situation beyond our control, and we all find ourselves exercising the muscles of thriftiness, problem solving, making do, gratitude, and contentment.

It is a step back towards a simpler way of living,

And that is the blessing that has been born of the tragedy that is unfolding around us.

God is good.

Always good.






Happy “Gotcha” Day!!


It is hard to believe it has only been a year since Braden officially and legally became our son.


On March 26th, 2019 we drove down to Washington County, where we were joined by many family and friends, to adopt our 17-year-old foster son, making him forever a part of our family.


It was a day filled with blessings and great joy as Tyler got to make his biological brother an official member of our clan.


Braden already had our hearts, and in every way was already our son, but this sealed the deal, granting Braden the security that we were sticking around forever.

It was one of the best days of our life.

Every year, as the anniversary of Tyler, Ozzie, and now Braden’s adoption day comes close, we make plans as to how we are going to celebrate that special day when they were “born” into our family. Much like each child’s birthday celebration, the celebrated child gets to pick a special meal and activity for us to do as a family. Past “gotcha day” celebrations have been as varied as our adopted children. One year Ozzie chose to visit car dealerships to “window shop” for cars for his “gotcha day.” Another year Tyler chose a family tennis tournament at our local park with ice cream to follow.

As we began discussions about how Braden wanted to celebrate his first “gotcha day,” he told us that he really wanted to go to a trampoline park, like the one we visited for Tyler’s 13th birthday. He loved the trampoline basketball court where he was able to get major air and slam dunk the ball repeatedly,  thanks to the high flying action offered by the trampoline.

He also requested sweet and sour chicken with rice and egg rolls for his “gotcha day” dinner.

A few weeks ago I was prompted to look ahead on our calendar to all the birthdays, holidays and celebrations that were up coming and shop for those meals and gifts ahead of time. A week later, as businesses began to shut down across the state and lock downs nationwide went into place, I was grateful I had followed that prompting to plan ahead, because we were able to have Braden’s “gotcha day” meal request without having to go to the store.

God is good!

Molly took on the task of creating a special dessert for Braden’s special day. She baked a cake and decorated it for the occasion.

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It turned out great and made the day feel even more celebratory!

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Braden’s hope of spending the evening of his “gotcha day” at Urban Air was smashed in light of the non-essential business shut down across the state of Pennsylvania. So, in typical McCleery fashion we came up with a Plan B!

Knowing that the main reason Braden wanted to go to Urban Air was for the trampoline basketball court, we recreated it to the best of our ability at home. Toby and Tyler dragged the basketball hoop over to the trampoline and we all headed outside for a showdown of skills.

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The kids played DUNK (similar to HORSE) and had to copy each other’s unique and BOUNCY shots in an effort to not be the first player to earn all four letters.

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It made for a fun and unforgettable evening.

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I think it is fair to say that Braden will never forget his first “gotcha day,”

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And as a result of plans being changed, everyone got to discover the joy that can be found in making do and embracing the Plan B’s that come with life!

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We ended the day with a hearty rendition of “Happy Gotcha Day to You!”

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We love you, Braden…

And are so glad you are forever ours!