Tag Archives: parenting

Happy 4th of July!

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On the Friday following our culinary trip to Germany, we found ourselves planning our second “international” dinner. The date (July 3rd) lent itself to an American themed meal. We celebrated the anniversary of our nation’s independence with a bonfire and BBQ.

To get into the spirit of the dinner, I spent the morning watching my all time favorite musical, 1776.

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This was followed by a viewing of Hamilton on Disney+ with Gracie as we prepared dinner.

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Zach was working late that night, so we just had Grace over for our 4th of July celebration.

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It was an easy themed dinner, as I just had to cook those well-loved and familiar foods from an all-American cook-out. Dinner consisted of hamburgers on the grill, potato chips and dip, macaroni salad, ambrosia salad, fruit pizza and cold soda. After last week’s menu, Tyler was in heaven with this more familiar fare.

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It was a beautiful evening to gather outside!

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Earlier in the week Toby made a fireworks run to load us up for our own personal firework show at Patchwork Farm. Like any man shopping for explosives, he went a little crazy, coming home with two boxes full of dangerous fun.

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The kids were thrilled!

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They couldn’t wait for the sun to go down so the real fun could begin!

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Our own, home-grown, fireworks show did not disappoint. Toby had purchased a wide variety of fountains, roman candles, high-in-the-sky boomers, and bottle rockets to keep our show going for hours.

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Rusty was our primary pyrotechnic guy, as he had the highest OSHA rating and was the most likely of the boys to run away from the burning fuse after lighting it.

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Gracie served as the DJ for our fireworks show, making sure we had a steady playlist of Lee Greenwood, Toby Keith, and Home Free, serving as the soundtrack of our evening.

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It was a wonderful night celebrating the land that I love with the people I love even more!

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Dinner in Deutschland

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As part of our “Friday Fun-day,” we have continued on with our quarantine tradition of themed dinners.

Every Friday Grace comes over to take advantage of our speedier internet to teach her online ASL classes. She began teacher American Sign Language classes to children online when we were on lockdown, and the daycare was closed, as a way to bring in some income. She receives $30.00/student for a six-week class and is currently teaching four classes a week, back to back on Fridays. She has loved it, and we have loved having her hang out at the house every Friday!

We have correlated our themed dinners with her Friday visits so that she can join us for our culinary adventures. Zach joins us when his work schedule allows it.

We decided for our themed dinners over the summer months we would focus on international cuisine and do some traveling through our palate.

We kicked off our Friday Fun-day dinners with a trip to Germany. Having lived in Kitzingen, Germany as a little girl, this was a themed dinner I was excited to execute!

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Kitzingen, Germany: My home across the sea from first through third grade.

In preparation for our German dinner, I made a run to Five Below to pick up Kinder Eggs (the lame USA-approved safe ones, not the cool, “risky” ones I enjoyed as a child) and a variety of Haribo gummies.

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These would serve as our dessert for this dinner.

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When Grace was done teaching her online classes she helped me decorate the dinning room. It is amazing what can be done with pretzels and hot glue.

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We crafted the dining room into a German eatery!

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Then it was time to begin dinner. Our menu for the evening consisted of soft pretzels and mustard, homemade German potato salad, grilled brats, and bottles of “beer”…root beer, that is!

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The highlight of the meal was the Konigsberger Klopse. It was delicious! I’ve included the recipe below if you’d like to try it yourself.

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We dined to sounds of German Pub music, eliciting the comment from Rusty, “It almost feels like we are at Epcot.”

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It was definitely a Friday Fun-day!

 

Konigsberger Klopse (German Meatballs in Creamy Caper Sauce)

Meatballs

2 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1 14 cups fine plain breadcrumbs

12 cup milk

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

1 lemon (zest of)

1 lemon, juice of

3 tablespoons capers, chopped 

14 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon salt

12 teaspoon ground black pepper

Flour for rolling

 

Broth

1 (32 ounce) box chicken stock or (32 ounce) box vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

14 cup cider vinegar 

2 tablespoons capers (I used A LOT more!)

 

Sauce

1 lemon, zest of

1 lemon, juice of

1 cup good quality sour cream (full fat to prevent curdling)

14 cup snipped fresh parsley, for garnish

  1. In a large saucepan heat broth ingredients (stock, bay leaf, cider vinegar, and  capers) to a simmer over medium heat.

  2. Meanwhile, combine meatball ingredients, mix well.

  3. Form meat mixture into golf-ball sized balls (note: mixture will be a bit sticky and delicate to work with, but this is normal, and the result will be a moist and tender meatball!). Roll them in flour, and carefully place into hot broth; simmer each batch for 15 minutes, but do not boil. (Tip: do not crowd meatballs. Only simmer about 10-12 meatballs at a time). Note that the broth will thicken as you add the flour covered meatballs, which will make a nice sauce.

  4. Carefully remove meatballs from the hot broth with a slotted spoon, and keep them warm in a covered bowl stored in the oven while making the sauce. Discard bay leaf.

To Make Cream Sauce:

  1. To hot broth stir in the sauce ingredients and heat through, but do not boil.

  2. Add the cooked meatballs to the heated sauce, stir gently and warm through.

It takes a real man to be a Dad!

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Today is the day we celebrate fathers.

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It is the day we honor the men in our life who love unconditionally, who provide selflessly, and who step up and give all for the children they love.

I have been blessed with exceptional men in my life who have shown me what a real man is and how a real man acts. From my grandfathers, to my father-in-law, to the man who raised me, I have been blessed with the best.

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I have learned from their examples, been bolstered by their encouragement, and watched as their values were manifested in the way they lived their lives.

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Each of them showed what they value most by the daily choices they made, making clear that God and family come first.

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I was raised by a great man which is why I sought a great man to be my eternal companion and the father to my children. I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t carry the burden of breaking an unhealthy or dysfunctional relationship cycle. Because of how my father loved my mother, I knew what I was suppose to expect from a relationship. I don’t take this for granted. I know this was a great blessing that so many are denied.

But I have also witnessed in my life the great power of a good man to be a “cycle breaker.” I see it in my own home. I see the power for change that can come when a good man loves a child to the degree that a child begins seeing themselves as loveable.

When it comes to good men, I have been blessed with the best. Today we celebrate our 23rd anniversary and Father’s Day. On the day we married I thought I couldn’t love him more than I did in that moment, but that love was nothing compared to how I feel today.

That love was sweet but untested. It lacked the depth that comes when you move beyond a feeling to a choice. Love grows deeper with each trial and test. Conviction, connection, and commitment come from those hard seasons of life when you choose to stay rather than run. Deep abiding love comes when you see your spouse making the right choice, even when it is a hard choice. It grows as you watch him say “yes” when others would say “no.” Each selfless sacrifice for the good of another added another layer of depth to the love I already felt.

And then he became a father, and my love grew 100 fold as I watched him love, care and provide for our children. I watched as he set aside his own dreams for the sake of his little family.I watched him man-up, go against the agenda of the world, and choose to do right.

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I watched as he loved our children with all he had and watched as he gave them the world.

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And then he gave even more when he opened his heart and home to our sons whose own biological fathers failed them. He took on a responsibility that wasn’t his because of who he is…

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It isn’t easy being a “cycle breaker.” It requires a level of selfless love and unwavering commitment, but he not only took in children abandoned by the world, he made them his in every way. He provides, he forgives, he accepts, he gives, and gives some more so that his boys might know their worth. He loves them as they should have been loved since birth, even when the love, respect, and care he gives isn’t reciprocated. He knows that being a father isn’t about what you get back. Fatherly love isn’t a feeling…it is a choice, and he keeps showing up and loving his kids…

Which is one of the many reasons I love him!

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I am so grateful for the gift of good men in my life. Their walking, talking, daily examples of a father’s love has helped me better understand my Heavenly Father’s love, as illustrated in the poignant video below:

Happy Father’s day, to all the good men in the world.

May we raise them.

May we respect them…

That they may they know their worth.

Week 1 of Summer Fun!

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Here is a peek into some of our themed fun this last week…

Make it Monday:

On Make it Monday, we decided to do a little tie-dying. This is a craft that all my kids can get into, as it involves a sufficient amount of mess to make it fun and you have a cool shirt to show for your efforts at the end of it!

On Monday afternoon we pulled out the supplies.

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After choosing a design, Rusty and Tyler went to work securing their shirts with rubber bands and picking their colors.

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The set we had on hand had a great mix of color choices!

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The boys picked their colors and began dying their shirts.

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We also picked up a pack of onesies so these two proud uncles could create a matching piece for their niece or nephew to be!

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While we worked we failed to take notice of the white bulldog under the table. Winnie happily sat in the shade, enjoying the cool drips from above. We had no idea she was down there until she emerged sporting some colorful new markings.

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She somehow gave herself two expressive, blue eyebrows and a generous sprinkle of freckles…

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None of which are coming off anytime soon!

Foodie Tuesday:

For our “Foodie Tuesday” fun, we decided to try out cake decorating. This is a hobby that both Grace and Molly have enjoyed playing around with, but one that the boys have yet to explore. I thought it would be a creative outlet that would appeal to my teenage boys since they get to eat their efforts in the end!

I baked 4 small cakes earlier in the day and let them cool in preparation of our cake decorating party.

 

Cake decorating supplies were pulled from the cabinet.

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When Toby got home from work we gathered in the dining room to decorate our cakes while dinner cooked.

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We chose which tips we wanted to use and began mixing our icing colors.

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It was fun to see everyone’s creativity emerge as they began putting icing to cake.

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The finished results were charming…and delicious!~

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Wet Wednesday:

Wet Wednesday was our slip-n-slide day!

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Tyler has been itching to slip and to slide since we played slip-n-slide kickball as a family a few weeks ago, so we pulled out the roll of plastic, the hose, and some dish soap and let him slip-and-slide to his heart’s delight!

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Take a Trip Thursday: 

For our first “Take a Trip Thursday” of the summer, we stayed close to home and headed over to Moraine lake for the day. Tyler’s friend, Jonathan, joined us. This was Tyler’s first time seeing anyone outside the immediate family since March. He has been itching to hang with friends, especially Jonathan, who he considers his best friend.

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We stopped at GetGo for picnic supplies,

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And enjoyed a day of fishing and swimming lakeside.

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It was a beautiful day to be outdoors!

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On the way home we made a stop at The Snowman for some cold treats.

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Family Fun Friday:

On Friday the boys and I decided to do something wild and fun. Tyler has been begging to dye his hair for years. After a hard few w at Patchwork Farm, I felt the need for some silliness and novelty trumped all else, so we headed to Walmart to pick out hair dye. It seemed to me if the boys were ever to sport purple or blue hair, now was the time. Currently we have no upcoming family photos, no huge life events, or any outside activities. We headed into Walmart donning our face masks. This was Tyler’s first time venturing into a store, which was part of why I said yes to his hair dye request. We have been worried about his increasing anxiety since lockdown began. We noticed that despite things slowly opening up around us, he has no desire to leave the house. His fear of Covid-19 is slowly becoming a more concerning hyper-focused phobia. Feeling that getting Tyler into a public space would allow us to”rip off the bandaid” and face his fears head-on before they became debilitating, was extra incentive to let him dye his hair a crazy color.

It worked. His desire to color his hair trumped his fear of being in public. I explained that he would have to enter Walmart so that he could pick the color he wants. We talked through his fears, came up with safety protocols to address his concerns and then bravely ventured in. It worked like a charm and I saw a visible lightening as he moved past the fear and dread associated with that first step back into society.

We arrived home after Rusty and Tyler picked their shades. Rusty chose silver hair color, hoping for something fun without it being too crazy.

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Tyler went with Cherry Red. His color gave me pause when the box warned that it should not be rinsed out in the sink or tub due to staining…but we bravely pushed on.

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First we colored, then we rinsed…and rinsed, and rinsed, and rinsed!

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Rusty’s change was minimal. I think he wished he had picked a more daring color after seeing how little the silver tinted his hair.

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Tyler’s was a bit bolder. He loved his finished look and I love that he faced his fears!

Fun all Week Long!

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This summer has set itself up to be different than summers past. Many of our usual activities won’t be happening due to the increased risk of certain pastimes, and the activities/vacations we had planned specifically for this summer have been canceled for the same reason. On top of that, the dynamic in the household has changed as we find ourselves down a few family members. Currently we only have two kids at home until Braden returns from his stay at his Pap’s house. Handel’s Ice Cream shop informed the boys last week that they won’t be reopening, so we also have two teenage boys out of work hustling to secure employment to help fund school in the fall.

In addition to hoping one of his job leads comes through, Rusty is taking summer classes through his college. Tyler, on the other hand, has a summer that is wide open. All of his out-of-the-house activities are currently cancelled or on hold, so his calendar is quite empty.

I think we have all been mourning the loss of what makes summer “summer,” and trying to figure out what this summer will look like at Patchwork Farm. There is a definite feeling of grief that has settled on our home as we mourn recent losses and navigate the emotions associated with those losses.

Although the challenges in our home might be unique to our situation, the feelings we are feeling are universal. I think many are feeling the emotional fatigue of the last few months and are craving what once was.

I recognize the “normal” that existed six months ago isn’t returning anytime soon, but as a family we need some semblance of a new “normal.” We need routine. We need something to look forward to. We need some fun…

So we came up with a plan.

Knowing that summer fun in the form of concerts, county fairs, vacations, and big family reunions were off the table this summer, we chose to focus on what we could do to make the summer fun, rather than focus on all that has been shut down for the sake of public safety.

We started by having a family pow wow one night at dinner and listing all the fun things we enjoyed doing during the summer months. After crossing off the things that aren’t safe or available in the midst of a pandemic, we found our list was still quite long. Then we added bucket list items…those things we have always wanted to do, learn, or try. Next we set aside our disappointment over canceled summer vacations, and made a list of local day trips we could enjoy instead. We compiled a list of places to see and things to do in Pennsylvania, with the plans to be tourists in our own “backyard.” Next we made a list of fun foods we wanted to bake and crafts we wanted to make. Once we had our master list it was time to organize our ideas…

Taking a page from Pinterest, we decided to organize all these fun ideas under daily themes:

Make it Monday: The day when we would try out a new art form or craft.

Foodie Tuesday: The day when we would try a new recipe.

Wet Wednesday: The day dedicated to wet and wild outdoor fun. (lake days, water balloon fights, slip n slide)

Take a Trip Thursday: The day we road-trip our way around Pennsylvania, exploring state parks and local sites.

Family Fun Friday: The day we would dedicate our evenings to themed dinners, game nights, or movie marathons.

Super Saturday: The day set aside for bigger, more extensive fun. With Toby at home, this day will be set aside for fishing trips, camping, drive-in movies or backyard Olympics.

Service Sunday: The day we would work on a service project as a family to bless others.

Once we decided on out themed days, we went to work sorting our master list into smaller lists for Monday-Sunday ideas that we can pick from each week. I think it will be a good way to make summer fun here at Patchwork farm.

Stay tuned for a peek into last week’s themed days!

 

A Covid-19 Graduation Celebration

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This has been the weirdest graduation year…EVER!

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And it is doubly disappointing, as we have 2 graduating seniors.

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Due to Covid-19, 21st Century Cyber Charter School, like so many high schools across the nation, have opted for an alternative graduation ceremony rather than risk the possible spread of sickness. I certainly agree with their call but it is disappointing for Rusty and Braden who imagined their graduation from high school would look very different from how it looks now.

As Rusty’s senior shirt expresses, “Worst. Ending. Ever!”

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Gracie and Molly’s graduation from 21st Century Cyber Charter School looked quite different. For their ceremonies we traveled out east to Downingtown with friends, so that the girls could enjoy the festivities in person. We stayed at a hotel, they attended prom, and we enjoyed watching them walk across the stage with their high school friends.

Gracie’s graduation day:  https://ktmccleery.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/graduation-day/

Molly’s graduation day:  https://ktmccleery.wordpress.com/2019/06/10/mollys-graduation-day/

For Rusty and Braden there will be no trip, no prom, no graduation celebration with friends from school. All of our traditional graduation experiences are on hold, so I have spent the last month trying to come up with an idea of how we can celebrate their achievements and make them feel loved in a world where graduation parties are unsafe, restaurants are closed, and vacations are on hold.

This is what we came up with…

Memorial Day was our graduation celebration day for the boys. Their actual graduation ceremony will take place on June 11th on YouTube…the world we are living in is SO BIZARRE…but we wanted to celebrate the boys’ graduation from high school before Molly left for her mission on June 2nd, so Monday offered the perfect opportunity!

Our day was split into two parts. First we planned an outing for the morning, and then ended our celebration with a fun dinner at home. There was so little open on Memorial Day that it took some searching to find something we could do for their special day. We finally landed on Wagon Trails drive-thru animal safari.

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This was our first time visiting this local attraction, located 45 minutes away near Youngstown, Ohio. Wagon Trails Safari has been able to keep its doors open by making some adjustments to the experience they offer. Rather than having visitors board an open wagon and feed the roaming animals, they now have visitors remain in their car and drive through the park on their own. Guests are not allowed to feed the animals or get out of the car to walk through the petting zoo area of the safari, but the experience was still a lot of fun. It was nice to get out of the house, do something novel and unusual to celebrate the boys’ graduation, all while supporting a local business.

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We arrived, pulled up to a booth, and paid the admission fee. Our crew of eight were split into two cars so that everyone could have a window seat.

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Rusty and Tyler rode in Gracie and Zach’s car,

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And Molly and Braden rode with us.

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The animal park was split into enclosures where the animals freely roamed.

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Many species mingled with each other.

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Feeding troughs were placed near the road as to entice animals to hover close enough for guests to enjoy.

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It was a delight!

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Some of our favorite critters included the momma and baby pot belly pig,

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The herd of zebras,

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Goats, and elk, and deer…oh my!

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And of course, the bison.

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But the star of the safari were the ostriches!

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They did not recieve the social distancing memo!

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Standing as sentries along the road, they greeted each guest who approached, hoping that someone had treats stashed in their car. They were sorely disappointed and only let us pass once they realized we were contraband-free.

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These log-necked pick pockets were a delight!!

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It wasn’t the traditional senior celebration, but Wagon Trails offered us a great way to “make lemonade from lemons.”

Next Stop: home…for the second half of our graduation celebration!

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Since a graduation celebration with guests was an impossibility, and since restaurants are still “take-out” only, a meal out or a party with friends was impossible. Instead we celebrated at home with family.

The boys requested wings for their graduation celebration so after our animal safari Toby and I headed to Cranberry to pick up wings from Big Shot Bobs. We ordered a variety of flavors and when we returned home we had a veritable feast of meat!

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My big boys were in heaven!

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We gathered in the dining room to eat. It was already decorated for our celebration. The girls had helped me transition our dining room from the Disney décor leftover from our themed dinner night, to a graduation decorations for our two seniors.

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Following dinner we presented the boys with their graduation gifts. Typically our gift to the graduate is a trip or a personalized experience. As a family we definitely enjoy “doing” more than “having.” Unfortunately,  we are living in an uncertain world where so much is closed and travel plans must be written in pencil, so I racked my brain to come up with an alternative gift for the graduates. We didn’t want to just give them something or throw money at them. We wanted them to have something to look forward to…an experience that could be enjoyed. We decided to gift them each with a subscription box, personalized to their particular interests.

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We thought it was the best plan. It was doable, even with all that is going on in the world, and it would give them something to look forward to each month. Who doesn’t like getting a package in the mail?!

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With so many subscription boxes to pick from it was tough to chose. For Rusty we decided on a Disney World themed box in which he will receive a variety of theme park gifts and goodies each month. For Braden we subscribed to Loot Crate. His monthly package will include a mix of gaming gear. It was one of those “different but equal” gifts we strive for as parents when our children reach milestones simultaneously. I wanted them to feel equally loved while feeling loved in a way unique to their personalities and interests.

They were both thrilled!

Next Thursday the boys will graduate from 21st Century Cyber Charter school.

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Their ceremony will be a YouTube Live event, and rather than walking across a stage, these photos of them wearing their cap and gowns will be flashed across the screen.

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It may not be the ending they envisioned but it will be a notable beginning to an exciting future. Congratulations, boys! You did it!

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Disney Magic!

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The winds of change are coming to Patchwork Farm. As our state slowly moves from red to yellow, normalcy (under strict mitigation) is returning. This week work at the daycare resumes for Grace. Graduation is a week away for Rusty and Braden. Molly will be leaving us in seven days to head to Salt Lake City to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the next 16 months. Grace and Zach spent the weekend moving back to their little apartment, after living at Patchwork Farm for the last 9 weeks during quarantine. With all these changes coming down the pike, we have been working hard to create pockets of fun and memory-making opportunities before everyone scatters.

One way we have done this is through themed dinner nights. Gracie had the idea of having a Disney dinner night, an idea that our Disney-loving family jumped at!

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This was probably our most extensive themed dinner yet. This Disney-loving family had lots of ideas, and our inability to edit ourselves meant we incorporated

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM!

This themed dinner took a day’s worth of effort as we spent all of last Wednesday shopping for groceries, decorating, cooking, and creating.

Our efforts began in the dining room as we transformed the space into a tribute to all things Disney, incorporating many decorations from Rusty’s room!

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Then we started cooking. Our meal was a hodgepodge of Disney-themed dishes.

Grace took on the task of creating corresponding food tags for each of our side dishes. Using water colors, she captured the Disney film represented by each dish.

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While she painted, Rusty and Molly helped me cook.

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Some of our culinary nods to classic Disney films included:

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Our main dish was Toy Story’s Pizza Planet Pizza. We made the pizza dough ahead of time. When Toby and Zach arrived home from work everyone was sent to their rooms to dress for dinner. Everyone was instructed that they were to arrive at dinner Disney-bounding as a character from a Disney movie or ride.

Many of our outfits paid tribute to Toy Story…

With Molly representing Woody:

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Tyler dressed as a Pizza Planet delivery boy:

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And Toby and I as Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head:

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Rusty came to dinner Disney-bounding as Brer Fox from Splash Mountain:

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Others came to dinner dressed not as a particular character, but instead sporting Disney gear.

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Then it was time to make our personal pizzas. Everyone got a ball of homemade pizza dough that Grace had mixed ahead of time, and plenty of toppings to pick from. The kids enjoyed getting to create their own culinary masterpiece.

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As the pizzas baked everyone headed into the dining room to check out the other goodies,

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Including character cupcakes for each family member.

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When the pizzas were done baking everyone dished up and headed to the dining room where we enjoyed a delicious dinner paired with Disney music and Disney movie trivia.

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We REALLY loved “The Grey Stuff!” Here is the recipe we used if you’d like to try it yourself…YUM!

grey stuff

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of cold whole milk
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package of instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 15 chocolate cookie sandwiches (Oreos)
  • Food processor
  • 1 (8 ounce) container whipped topping, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons instant chocolate pudding mix
  • Edible sugar pearls
  • Directions

    1. Pour milk into a large mixing bowl. Add instant vanilla pudding mix and whisk for 2 minutes until smooth and slightly thickened. Place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, until firm.

    2. Place chocolate sandwich cookies in food processor and pulse until pureed.

    3. Fold pureed cookies into pudding mix. Stir until fully mixed.

    4. Add whipped topping and instant chocolate pudding. Stir until fully mixed.

    5. Place in refrigerator and chill for one hour.

    6. Spoon grey stuff into piping bag fitted with desired tip. Pipe grey stuff into cups. Top with sugar pearls.

    7. Enjoy your very own grey stuff, because as Lumiere says, “It’s delicious!”

It was a “magical” night!

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Rusty and Braden’s Senior Photo Shoot

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Being the bizarre spring it has been, it isn’t surprising that tasks that I would normally be on top off have fallen to the wayside. One of those tasks being senior photos.

In past years, with my past seniors, we have coordinated our senior photos long before the final days of the senior school year, but in the midst of navigating a worldwide pandemic certain things have fallen to the wayside.

It wasn’t until I realized we needed to send out graduation announcements that I realized that we still needed to take some senior photos so that we could create the announcements.

This year we have two graduating seniors. Both Braden and Rusty will be graduating from 21st Century Cyber Charter School on June 11th. The school has opted for a virtual graduation. Rather than traveling to Downingtown, Pennsylvania, like we did for Grace and Molly’s graduation ceremonies, we will be watching Rusty and Braden graduate from high school in the comfort of our own living room. This brings mixed feelings as our excursion east to celebrate our kids’ academic achievements is always a highlight of the senior year, but the decision is a wise and prudent one.

The school, in an effort to celebrate their seniors from afar, sent yard signs to all the graduating seniors.

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For seniors across the world, the ending of their academic journey isn’t at all what they expected. We acknowledged this disappointment with some special gifts for our graduating seniors…

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Gifts they donned for their senior photo shoot.

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On two separate sunny spring days we took the boys out in the yard to capture some photos for their graduation announcements. Grace and Molly helped me out.

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I always find boy’s photo shoots to be more challenging than girls. They are less willing to get silly and it is more of a challenge catching their personalities on camera during a staged shoot. We found adding dogs to the mix helped capture their inner joy.

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It was a joy celebrating our two senior sons and we were able to get some great shots of our handsome sons, just in time to create their graduation announcements which will be sent out to all those family and friends that we won’t be able to celebrate with in person.

Rusty’s post-graduation plans include continuing at CCBC (where he was duel enrolled for his senior year) to pursue a degree in unmanned aerial vehicle piloting. He plans of becoming a drone pilot.

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Braden will be attending New Castle School of Trades in the fall as he pursues a degree in Automotive Technology.

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The future is bright for both our boys and we can’t wait to see what God has planned for them!

Spoiled Rotten on Mother’s Day

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My Mother’s Day was full of blessings, despite it being a bit untraditional. Like so many around the world, Mother’s Day was spent at home away from the mothers we love. This Mother’s Day we weren’t able to celebrate our own mothers in person so we opted instead to send a package of love through the mail with the promise of in person hugs and kisses as soon as it is safe to meet again.

I counted myself blessed to have so many of my own children living under my roof during this time of quarantine, as I was able to celebrate Mother’s Day with four of my six kiddos, plus a bonus son (Zach.) Ozzie is still being treated at the residential treatment facility where he has resided for the last 12 months, so he wasn’t with us for the weekend. His facility is still under strict lockdown and isn’t allowing any visits. Braden opted to leave for the weekend, finding Mother’s Day weekend too much to emotionally manage. Instead he went to David’s house (his first adopted father) for a weekend visit.

On Sunday I received the blessed and much appreciated gift of an extra few hours of sleep. After a challenging week it was wonderful to heal under the covers with a few extra winks of sleep.

Everyone dressed for church at home where we enjoyed some thoughtfully and lovingly planned talks about motherhood. It renewed my soul and left me feeling blessed and loved.

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After church, but before the Mother’s Day lunch the kids prepared, I was presented with my Mother’s Day gifts. Each gift was planned and prepared with thoughtfulness.

Each gift was so reflective of the giver.

As is the tradition in our home, we began with the youngest child.

Tyler (with Gracie’s help) bought me a few new candles for the house, saying, “I know you like it when the house doesn’t stink.” It made me smile and touched my heart that he gave thought to what brings me joy (like an un-stinky house!)

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From Rusty I received one of his world famous paintings. I love receiving artwork from Rusty and this Mother’s Day painting was one of his best yet!! There is nothing better than to receive homemade gifts of love from your children!

“Hakuna Matata!”

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Molly also shared her talents with me in the form of poetry. Molly writes beautiful poetry and her gift for me was a Mother’s Day poem she had penned, paired with a matching illustration of her poem. Both were incredibly beautiful and touching.

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Then it was Grace and Zach’s turn. Watching the struggles of the last week led Grace to gift me with a “hyacinth for my soul.” She knows the way I heal the hurts on broken days is through a bubble bath (Calgon, take me away!) so she and Zach gifted me with essential supplies for self care. It was so personal and so perfect!

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The remainder of the day was spent relaxing and being doted on by my family. I recieved a pedicure and manicure.

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Meals were prepared and then cleaned up by my children.

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 I even got a Sunday nap!

My cup overfloweth!

 

 

Easter at Patchwork Farm- Part 2

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After a beautiful Sabbath service in the comfort of our own living room, the remainder of Easter Sunday was spent enjoying good food, good company, and good fun at Patchwork Farm.

This year for Easter I decided to go in a different direction with my basket stuffing efforts. This decision was luckily made before the stay-at-home order went into place, or I may have struggled to put together baskets this year. Luckily I had Easter candy on hand to put together treat baskets for each family member and had preordered their Easter gifts-  Lego sets!

We thought it would be fun to have a Lego building day as a family, so each of the kids received a set that we thought would appeal to them. When we came up with this plan we didn’t know Grace and Zach would be living with us, so I did have to do some emergency, last-minute shopping  online so they would have an Easter surprise as well.

The baskets were ready and waiting when everyone woke up.

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After our Sabbath service we headed outside for our Easter egg hunt.

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Toby had taken the hunt outside this year. The beautiful weather, coupled with older kids who need more of a challenge than the living room can offer, led to an outdoor hunt.

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Toby hid the 36 eggs we had dyed the day before.

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It was so much fun being outside.

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Of all our “egg hunters” Ellie May was the clear winner.

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Her hound nose led her to all the eggs hidden low to the ground. When Ellie would start digging beneath the edge of a tree stump, the kids would have to race to try to grab the hidden egg before she swallowed it up.

Despite their efforts we did lose three eggs to our hound dog and one egg to the chickens who discovered a turquoise blue egg hidden in their hen house and ate it up before the kids found it.

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It was a fun hunt, and other than the eggs that were lost to animals, all eggs were found.

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While dinner was cooking, the kids began working on their Lego sets.

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Molly and Rusty each received a Harry Potter themed set.

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Rusty spent the day putting together Hagrid’s hut,

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And Molly worked on constructing the Beauxbaton carriage.

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 Tyler worked on his haunted graveyard,

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And Braden constructed the prison tower from his Walking Dead set.

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He was quite proud of his finished product!

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Zach receivedEaster a Speed Champion race set and Grace received the “Friend’s” set.

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She spent the afternoon working on her set.

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The finished product was so cool!!

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I loved the attention to detail.

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By late afternoon dinner was ready. Dishes were pulled from the oven and fridge.

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We enjoyed a meal of good food and even better company on this holiest of days.

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We have so much to be grateful for.

Happy Easter, friends!