Tag Archives: Pittsburgh

Skating under the Stars

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On Monday, following our road trip to Cleveland, Ohio to visit The Christmas Story house, we headed back towards home for a very full remainder of the day. Tyler had his dyslexia tutoring in Wexford at 3:15, after which we were headed downtown Pittsburgh for an evening outing with PA Cyber.

This cyber school outing was scheduled for after dark, from 5:00-7:00 pm. It was an ice skating event at the MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place.

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When I had signed us up two months prior, I thought it would be a fun Christmassy activity for us to enjoy the week before Christmas…

And I was right!

It was simply magical,

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Like a scene from a Hallmark movie.

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We checked in and Tyler, as a PA Cyber student, received a PA Cyber winter hat to keep him warm. It was so cute on him!

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The boys got their skates and prepared to get on the ice while I took my place outside the rink, happy to soak up the festive Christmas atmosphere and capture the magic with my camera.

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It was a perfect evening, chilly but not bitter. The city buildings surrounding the rink blocked what little wind their was, and reflected the twinkling lights of the large Christmas tree off their mirrored surface.

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The boys had a blast, skating along to the strains of the Christmas songs that filled the plaza.

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Halfway through the activity skaters were sent off the ice so that the Zamboni machine could clean things up. We used that time to enjoy the complimentary snacks and drinks that were laid out by PA Cyber staff for the families to enjoy.

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Another hour on the ice and it was time to head home. It was a fun-filled day, to say the least!

We arrived home physically worn out by the busyness of our day but hyped up on Christmas Spirit. It was just what I needed to jump start my Christmas enthusiasm for the tasks that awaited my attention in the upcoming days.

I can hardly believe Christmas is days away!

 

 

Zoo Adventures

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On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving the boys’ school break began at noon. While they spent the morning wrapping up school work for the week, I spent the morning baking and prepping for our Thanksgiving feast. At noon we all hit pause on the tasks at hand and packed lunches for our afternoon adventure.

Ozzie had be approved for a 24 hour home pass for Thanksgiving Day and the transport van was scheduled to drop him off in Pittsburgh at 5:00pm. Knowing we needed to trek down to Pittsburgh anyway, and since school wrapped up early, we decided to take advantage of free zoo days at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

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For one week a year (usually during Thanksgiving week) the Pittsburgh Zoo opens their gates to the public for free as an expression of gratitude to the people of Pittsburgh. With the cost of admission being $16.95 per adult, this is a great deal to take advantage of, especially for large families made up of primarily adults!

We arrived and found the zoo to be far less crowded than we expected. We could only assume that most people were at home preparing Thanksgiving dishes for the following day.

The weather was beautiful. It was classic November weather. The sun warmed our faces while the chill in the air nipped at our noses. The winds were just strong enough to make the fallen leaves dance at our feet.

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 We had three hours to wander the zoo before needing to pick up Ozzie so we headed out exploring the zoo and enjoying the animals.

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One of our favorite exhibits was the gorilla enclosure where a baby stole the show with her toddler-like antics.

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I could have sat and watched her play all day!

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We also really enjoyed the beaver den where a family of kits kept their parents busy with their non-stop movement. There is a reason we use the expression, “Busy as a beaver.” One of the kits went about diligently collecting leaves and piling them in the corner of the pond. Unfortunately the little beaver hadn’t figured out the importance of placing your leaf collection on land if you want them to remain where you placed them. He continued to re-chase the same leaves that kept floating away from his pile into the center of the pond.

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The otters (both sea and river varieties) are always a family favorite. They truly are the “puppies of the sea.” They were so social and animated as they interacted with the visitors watching them through the glass.

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When we meandered by the sea lions we discovered a training session in progress. We stopped to watch as three trainers worked with the three sea lions, putting them through their paces as they showed off their collection of tricks.

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The aquarium is always Tyler’s favorite stop at the zoo.

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Pittsburgh boasts an impressive aquarium for a landlocked location, and for Tyler, our resident fish lover, this always proves to be his favorite part of the zoo.

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Personally, I am a fan of the larger mammals. I love the elephants and big cats that call Pittsburgh Zoo, “home.”

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Located in the area of the zoo called Pier Town guests will find the seals, otters, and of course the polar bear!

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The polar bear is another one of our favorite animals to watch!

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At 4:30pm we began moseying our way back to the front gate so we wouldn’t be late picking up Ozzie. We had a full Thanksgiving weekend ahead of us with many fun, family adventures planned,

But I can’t think of a better way to kick off our Thanksgiving holiday than a beautiful day at the zoo with three of my favorite guys!!

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A Boys’ day out with their Favorite “Mummy!”

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Last Friday the boys and I had the opportunity to enjoy a shortened day of school and meet up with other cyber-schooled families at Carnegie Science Center for a day of fun. The outing, which was put together by Tyler’s school, offered us access to all the permanent exhibits the museum offers, in addition to the new, visiting exhibit: Mummies of the World!

Rusty and Tyler have both spent countless hours at this amazing, hands-on, Pittsburgh museum. Over the years our family has been gifted with annual memberships to the science center and we have gone on multiple homeschooling fieldtrips to visit this Pittsburgh gem, which is why I was so surprised when Braden said he had never been there before.

It was only by seeing his initial reaction to his first impression of the lobby as we walked in, that I realized he was a first time visitor. I knew he was in for a treat. It is an amazing place!

The field trip was self guided, so after checking in and getting our name tags, we were set free to explore the four levels of exhibits at our own pace.

We began on level one at the exhibit: H2O!

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After adequately exploring the mysteries of all things water related we headed to the second floor. This level is split into two areas. One section is devoted to the science and history of robotics and outer space, with a lot of fun, hands on activities.

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The second half of this floor is dedicated to a huge train table complete with dozens of running trains, towns, iconic Pittsburgh sites, moving characters and enchanting scenes. This is my favorite exhibit at the science center and I couldn’t wait to share it with Braden. He was as enchanted as we were the first time we explored this miniature world.

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Then we headed to the third floor where we learned more about the science of the human body. Here the boys were able to try different experiments that explored why the body and brain function the way they do.

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After a quick stop at the fourth floor so Braden could experience the earthquake simulator, and so we could check our the Lego building area, we headed to the traveling exhibit that was the big pull for this field trip…

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Mummies of the World!

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This exhibit was fascinating. Photography wasn’t allowed inside the exhibit but below is information and photographs from this amazing exhibit as taken from the Carnegie Science Center website.

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“Explore 125 real mummies and related artifacts from across the globe in Mummies of the World: The Exhibition, on display at Carnegie Science Center’s PPG SCIENCE PAVILION™ now through April 19, 2020. Only in Pittsburgh for a limited time, this blockbuster exhibition provides a window into the lives of ancient people from every region of the world including Europe, South America, and Ancient Egypt, offering unprecedented insights into past cultures and civilizations.

 

See real mummies and discover their stories, including:

The Vac Mummies, a mummified family from Hungary believed to have died from tuberculosis, preserved in a small church until the remains of 265 mummies were discovered by a bricklayer during repair work in 1994.

Baron Von Holz, a German nobleman found tucked away in the family crypt of 14th century castle wearing his best boots after perishing in the castle while seeking refuge from the Thirty Years’ War.

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Animal mummies including a cat, a falcon, snow rabbit, lizard, weasel, and fish, some of which were deliberately preserved to accompany royals for eternity.

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MUMAB, the first authentic replication of the 2800-year-old Egyptian mummification process, took place in 1994 using the same tools and methods as described on ancient Egyptian papyrus.


Explore four galleries that delve into the many facets of mummification:

Natural Mummification Gallery – This gallery explores several environments in which bodies can preserve as a result of the natural environment. Human and animal mummies in this gallery include those from hot, dry environments in South America, a natural sand-salt environment in Egypt, an African desert, an alpine glacier, a German castle crypt with constant airflow and an acidic peat bog from the Netherlands.

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Artificial Mummification Gallery – This gallery presents mummies that have been prepared by humans for cultural reasons. The human and animal mummies in this gallery include an elaborately bandaged cat, two adults from Ancient Egypt and several shrunken heads from South America. Various artifacts associated with the preparation of the dead in Ancient Egypt will also be included, such as beautifully painted wooden sarcophagus, ushabtis and mummy beads.

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Experimental Mummification Gallery – This gallery centers around MUMAB, a body recently mummified following the techniques used by Ancient Egyptian embalmers, with detailed scientific documentation of the process. This gallery will include not only the mummy, but several of the tools used to prepare the body, all of which were replicated from original Egyptian embalming.

Science and Medicine Gallery – This gallery explores the links between mummies, science and medicine. Aside from showing mummies prepared for medical purposes, this gallery will also include examples of the application of scientific and medical techniques for the analysis of mummies, and the important shift from autopsy to modern medical science to study mummies. The exhibits will include several anatomical mummies from the Burns Collection and church crypt mummies from Hungary (with discussion of the past and present scientific studies of tuberculosis).

It was a enjoyably educational day with three of my kiddos!

Young Love

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Well, we are officially two weeks out from the big day!

14 days until Zach and Gracie are married and we legally gain another son into the family.

It is all very exciting and the young couple is brimming with happiness.

A few weeks ago they had the opportunity to have this exciting season of their lives captured on film by an amazingly talented photographer…

Who just happens to also be a dear friend.

Holly needed an couple to do a engagement photo shoot with for her business and asked if Grace and Zach would be interested. They jumped at the chance to work with Holly and the results were nothing short of stunning.

She brilliantly captured their personalities and the sweet devotion of their love.

The result was magical:

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Only 14 more days until “I do!”

Land of the Free because of the Brave!

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Nothing brings the summer feels more than the 4th of July with its cookouts, swimming, and sparklers.

I love the 4th of July. It is one of my favorite holidays. My patriotic heart swells with delight at the sea of red, white and blue and the patriotic music that becomes the soundtrack to the day.

Typically our 4th of July involves a trip down to Pittsburgh to participate in the festivities leading up to an always amazing fireworks show. We love the celebratory air that accompanies the experience and there is no better fireworks show  in the area than the one put on by the city of Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately, this year we had to switch up our traditional 4th of July plans. My busy kids, with their  very full schedules, made our traditional trip to Pittsburgh for fireworks an impossibility, so we needed to come up with a plan B.

Since everyone was free the first half of the day so we decided to enjoy our family time in the morning before everyone headed in separate directions for the afternoon. We decided to head to Moraine Lake for a picnic.

It was a beautiful day. The sun was shinning. It was warm enough to make swimming a delight but not so hot as to make a picnic miserable.

Grace invited Zach to join us, bringing our numbers to seven, in the absence of Rusty, who was spending the week at Scout Camp.

We found that we were not the only ones who thought a day at the lake was a good idea. We found the lake hopping with visitors,

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And it was easy to see why…

It was a practically perfect day at the lake!

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We found a spot and settled in for a relaxing afternoon. Tyler and Braden headed straight for the water where they spent the next three hours tossing the football with other kids in the lake before breaking for lunch.

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Toby found a spot of shade where he enjoyed simply sitting and relaxing with a magazine…a rare and treasured treat for my love who works hard every day from dawn to dusk.

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Molly, who has also been working hard, juggling daily shifts as a waitress at Eat n Park, enjoyed the gift of rest as she lounged in the warmth of the sun, eventually succumbing to the sandman.

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In between the trips to the water, everyone enjoyed a picnic lunch and the company of family, while overlooking a stunning vista.

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By 4:00 pm the grey clouds began to roll in, warning of the impeding storm. We packed up our gear and headed home so everyone could get ready for their evening plans.

We did make a quick stop along the way, however, at The Snowman.

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Toby treated everyone to a snow cone, which was a perfect conclusion to an already perfect day.

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When we arrived home Molly prepared to join up with friends from church for an evening of board games and fireworks in their apartment parking lot.

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Grace and Zach headed downtown Pittsburgh to enjoy an epic fireworks show from the top of Mt. Washington,

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And Braden prepared for his work shift from 6:00-10:15. Because Braden would need picked up from work at the same time most firework shows were occurring, Toby, Tyler and I stayed home and enjoyed a movie night until it was time to get Braden.

It wasn’t our typical 4th of July celebration…

“Typical” is no longer our “normal” with kids growing up and making their own plans, but it was a wonderful day nonetheless.

How grateful I am for all this day offers us: a chance to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy, a chance to honor those who made those sacrifices possible, and the chance to do so with the people we love most.

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Trans-Siberian Orchestra

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Friday was a day for the memory books!

For Christmas the girls pooled their money to surprise Toby and I with tickets to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra on their winter tour.

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In October the girls heard about tickets going on sell for the Pittsburgh show while listening to the radio. Grace spent hours calling into the station, hoping to win tickets so she could surprise her Daddy, but when her efforts proved to be fruitless, she and Molly decided to buy us tickets for our Christmas gift.

Toby loves the music of the TSO and has always wanted to see them in concert after hearing tale of their amazing stage shows. The girls knew this and couldn’t wait to give us their gift.

As excited as I was to see the concert, I was even more excited by their offer to babysit, allowing us a much-needed date after a challenging year. It touched my heart to see the thought and effort that went into the surprise. In addition to purchasing their tickets they made sure to request off work and made plans for Molly to take Rusty and Brandon on a group date with girls from church, while Grace made plans to take care of Tyler and Ozzie. They also enjoyed a “date night” when Grace invited the young man she is dating to accompany her on her babysitting adventure.

On Friday Toby arrived home early so we could leave the house by 1:30 for the 3:00 show.

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On our way into Pittsburgh we hit a lot of unexpected traffic but still made it to the arena and into our seats just as the music began.

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It was an amazing concert!

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Boy, do they know how to put on a show!

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The music was amazing,

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And the corresponding light and laser show made it astounding.

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Here is a taste of what we enjoyed for 3 hours:

 

 

 

After the concert we enjoyed a dinner date and hours of uninterrupted adult conversation. It was lovely.

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Thank you, girls, for the incredible Christmas gift!

It truly was a gift of love.

 

A “Phipp’in” Good Time!

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Last week we headed south to Pittsburgh for a field trip to Phipps Conservatory. We hadn’t visited Phipps for probably a decade so it was fun to have an excuse to go back. Beautiful anytime a year, Phipps is especially stunning during the month of December when the halls are decked for Christmas.

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“A green oasis in the middle of Pittsburgh’s vibrant Oakland neighborhood, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has provided a world-class garden experience to its visitors since 1893. Explore the beauty and wonders of nature at Phipps, encompassing 15 acres including a 14-room glasshouse and 23 distinct gardens. Experience industry-leading sustainable architecture and green practices, stunning seasonal flower shows, exclusive commissioned exhibits, renowned orchid and bonsai collections and more. This historic landmark is just a few miles from downtown Pittsburgh in Schenley Park.”

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We arrived, checked in, and were given our schedule for the day. The first hour was to be spent exploring the green houses with a self-guided tour. The second hour was scheduled to be more formal with a presentation on the Flora of Cuba and corresponding activities.

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We began our self-guided tour in the atrium where beautiful Christmas trees lined the stone courtyard.

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Turning left we worked our way through the various rooms, enjoying the Christmas themes that blanked each area.

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The décor was stunning and the magic occurring within the glass of the greenhouse shone all the more brightly framed by the falling snow outside.

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Everyone had a favorite room.

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Following in the footsteps of his Grandpa Rich, Rusty loved the cactus room:

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Grace fell in love with this beautiful room paved in stone that is frequently rented out for weddings:

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Molly had a hard time choosing a favorite, enthralled by the natural beauty found in each themed greenhouse:

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As for Tyler…

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Well, let’s just say this outing was NOT his idea of a good time. As we moved from room to room he would slump with fatigue and whine, “We already saw these plants.”

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Poor kid just couldn’t work up any enthusiasm for room after room of foliage.

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Thank goodness for the pockets of child-friendly fun scattered among the acres of plants that allowed Tyler to fortify himself for all the walking and flower gazing that accompanied a field trip to Phipps Conservatory.

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The miniature railroad display and play grocery store were among his favorites.

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While he played “grocery store,” I enjoyed strolling through the room checking out all the Christmas sculptures created from flowers.

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For the second half of the field trip we joined other students and their families in one of the auditoriums for a presentation highlighting one of Phipps’s newest displays: “Tropical Forests of Cuba.”

We enjoyed a slide show introducing us to the habitats of Cuba, particularly the flora and fauna found in its tropical forests.

After an educational slide show we were taken to the Cuba room where the kids were set loose with scavenger hunt sheets and given 15 minutes to find the information missing from their sheets. The answers they found were then used to compete in a Cuba Jeopardy game.

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The kids paired off in groups of two, with Grace and Rusty competing against Molly and Tyler.

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This activity was more up Tyler’s alley and he loved the competitive nature of racing through the rain forest display in search of answers.

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After time expired, we walked back to the auditorium for the Jeopardy game where the kids had a chance to use their newly acquired knowledge of Cuba’s tropical forests to compete against the other students for bragging rights.

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The greatest take-away from the activity was probably the awesome conversation Molly enjoyed with the presenter following the game. Waiting until the crowds had left, Molly approached the young lady who had been our teacher and asked about her educational background and the life experiences that led her to this career. After speaking with Molly about different environmental science programs and possible directions that can be pursued, Molly left wanting to look further into environmental education as a possible narrowed focus to her environmental science degree, thus marrying her passion for nature with her love for people.

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We ended our day with a picnic lunch.

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It was a lovely day spent in an even lovelier place!

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This Place is a ZOO!

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In honor of life at Patchwork Farm and the ZOO we lovingly call “everyday life” in the McCleery household, we decided to take a field trip over Thanksgiving break to the Pittsburgh Zoo.

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In the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving the Pittsburgh Zoo was offering free admission to all its visitors as a way of expressing gratitude to the people of Pittsburgh for their patronage.

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We decided to take advantage of this incredible deal and take the kids to the zoo for a day of free fun.

It was just what we all needed after a highly emotional holiday weekend.

The fact that all members of the family were able to visit made the day even more special.

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It was a cold and rainy day so we were one of only a few families visiting the zoo that day, despite the incredible deal of free admission. It was lovely to be able to meander along the paths without having to push through any crowds.

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Because of the chilly weather some of the animals were put away, but we enjoyed watching those whose thicker coats allowed them to stay outside and soak up the few rays of sun that were breaking through the clouds.

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Tyler, like the big cats, was unaffected by the cold as he enjoyed some time in the islands!

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We timed our visit just right and entered the elephant house just as bath time commenced. We took our place at the railing and watched with delight for a half an hour while this beautiful lady was scrubbed and shined.

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Many animals in the zoo were unaffected by the cold temperatures due to their inside habitats. We enjoyed visiting the monkey house because the hot humid interior temps allowed us to warm up a bit.

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As we moved from the monkeys to the aquarium Molly spotted a few exhibits that spoke to her tender heart. The first was a display of sculptures that an artist creates from snare traps, repurposing something destructive into something beautiful. The artist then donates the proceeds to help with the conservation effort.

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As we neared the aquarium Molly spotted another exhibit that spoke to her tender heart. This one was a sea turtle second chance facility where injured turtles are rehabilitated. After her summer trip to the Sea Turtle Initiative in Costa Rica she has a heart for these special animals.

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Then it was time for the PPG Aquarium. This was the busiest part of the Pittsburgh Zoo that day. It seemed everyone had the same plan for getting out of the cold rain and we found the crowds significantly denser within this building…

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But that didn’t affect our enjoyment of this beautiful aquarium in the least. The kids all enjoyed checking out the vast variety of fish, crustaceans, sea birds, and large marine predators that call Pittsburgh PPG Aquarium home.

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The sting ray tank was a family favorite as the kids jostled for a spot near the tank to pet these soaring skates as they flew by just below the surface of the water.

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From there we headed back into the cold to visit Brandon’s favorite zoo animal: the polar bear.

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Unfortunately he wasn’t out so we moved onto the sea otters who put on a delightful display of playful charm that kept us enthralled for 20 minutes. The kids laughed with delight at the silly antics of these personable critters.

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By the time we were done watching the sea otters it was time to start heading for the exit. Grace had work that afternoon and everyone was ready to warm up and dry off, so after a quick stop back at the tiger enclosure to get a photo of the tiger for Brandon (Go Beaver Falls Tigers!), we were gone.

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It was a wonderful day!

Thank you, Pittsburgh Zoo, for your generosity…

My “crazy zoo” had a delightful time visiting yours!

 

 

Here We Go Steelers…

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On the day following his actual birthday, Brandon received an unexpected birthday surprise. His placement social worker from “Second Chance” stopped by to wish him a Happy Birthday and gave him a card to open. Inside the birthday card were two tickets to Thursday night’s game.

His social worker is a huge sports fan and is a Steelers season ticket holder. She never misses a home game. Wanting to do something extra special for Brandon she handed over Thursday night’s tickets. Toby was Brandon’s “plus one.”

Thursday night arrived and Molly graciously offered to play “parent” while Grace and I were at our Thursday night classes and Toby and Brandon were at the game. Like a pro she transported Tyler to his dyslexia tutoring and Ozzie to his autism social skills class, allowing Toby the night off to go and make some special memories with his new addition.

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Toby and Brandon had a wonderful time. The weather was bitterly cold but that didn’t damper their enthusiasm.

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A COLD night in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers played a great game and came out the victors over the Panthers in a 52-21 win.

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There were some familiar faces in the crowd 🙂

The guys wandered in after midnight, raving about the game and the experience.

What a special shared memory they made that night,

All thanks to a social worker who goes above and beyond the call of duty to bless the lives of the kids in her care.

One Step Closer to the Eagle

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It has been 9 years since Rusty first donned the blue and gold uniform of the Cub Scouts. Since then he has spent endless hours learning skills, earning merit badges, camping, hiking, building fires, attending Scout Camp, and participating in service projects, all with the end goal of earning his Eagle.

Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America. The designation “Eagle Scout” was founded over one hundred years ago. Only four percent of Boy Scouts are granted this rank after a lengthy review process. The requirements necessary to achieve this rank take years to fulfill.

And we are proud to say that Rusty is one step closer to joining the 4 % who have earned that rank.

One of the final steps in earning the rank of Eagle comes when the scout develops and executes a plan to lead a service project that will benefit  the community. This large project is the culmination of a lot of behind-the-scenes planning, prepping and presenting the planned project to gain approval for their proposed Eagle Scout project.

As Rusty considered possible projects he decided to approach the good people at Ready Yourself Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization that he and his sisters volunteer at two mornings a week to see if they had any possible work projects on their wish list that he and his scout troop could bless them with.

Our family was introduced to Ready Yourself Youth Ranch a year ago as a possible resource for the older kids as we navigated the challenging/explosive behaviors that Ozzie was presenting at the time. Our family based therapy team thought the ranch could be a place of refuge that the older kids could escape to on hard days and allow them to benefit from the therapeutic affects of serving and blessing others.

My kiddos fell in love with the ranch and since that day have committed themselves to waking up early two mornings a week and driving to the ranch to care for the horses from 7:00- 9:00 am. Their responsibilities include feeding/watering  the horses, moving them to the pastures, grooming horses, and mucking stalls.

It not the most glamorous work, but my kids love it. They have found a place of refuge and peace among the dusty stalls of Ready Yourself Youth Ranch…

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And they aren’t the only ones.

“Ready Yourselves Youth Ranch is a non-profit, Christian ministry that connects horses in need of rescue with children dealing with challenges and difficulties who need to learn about the hope and healing found in Jesus Christ. In 2010, the founders and directors, Micheline and Mathew Barkley desired to combine her broken childhood and his equestrian experience to rescue horses and mentor children facing conflicts and challenges of their own.  When God blessed them with fifty acres of land, in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, they gathered a dedicated group of volunteers and mentors to bring their faith, time and talents to make RYYR a place where God’s love and grace enables horses and children to trust and love again.

Ready Yourselves Youth Ranch is for children, ages 6 through 18, who are dealing with challenges and difficulties. We connect one child, one horse, and one mentor for ninety minutes of interactive experience, free of charge. Learning to care for and ride rescue horses, many who have come from environments of abuse or neglect, increases a child’s trust, faith and love. The overall aim of our session program is to love and encourage children which in turn will foster hope and joy.”

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When Rusty approached Micheline (the owner and visionary of the ranch) about projects on her wish list she quickly produced a list of possible projects Rusty could undertake for his Eagle Scout project. He decided that he would present the plan of constructing an outdoor riding arena for the ranch to the board to get approval. Once he received approval the dates were set for his Eagle Scout project.

The project took two Saturdays.

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The support of many made lighter work of what would have been a very arduous task!

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Dozens of fellow scouts, leaders, siblings, and friends from church answered the call and showed up ready to work.

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It was quite the undertaking but the arrival of many helpers was inspiring.

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Rusty couldn’t have done it without the generous support of so many helping hands.

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Here are photos of the many happy helpers and the project they tackled over the course of two Saturdays:

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In Rusty’s attempt to bless others, he too was blessed.

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We are so proud of this young man we call “son.”

A BIG “thank you” to all who have helped mold Rusty into the man he is today.

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He is who he is thanks in part to leaders (both current and past) who have taught Rusty scouting survival skills and basic life skills that will benefit him as a man. We are grateful for the wonderful troop of boys who have grown up with Rusty, and the many friends and families who have cheered Rusty on as he has blossomed from a silent and timid little boy into a confident and caring young man.

It truly does take a village to raise a son…or at least an incredible Boy Scout troop.

How thankful I am for troop 558!