Tag Archives: psat

A Monthly Update


ordinary life

Often in my focus to report on the “big” events of life I procure a pile of photographs documenting the smaller moments that add up to life here on Patchwork Farm. This blog is dedicated to that collection of captured moments. Here’s to the moments that make up our ordinary, extraordinary life!

Searching for Buried Treasure

Toby is a member of a local metal detecting club. The Beaver County Metal Detecting Club is comprised of 20+ men and women who gather monthly to compare notes and swap stories of their best treasure finds over the last month, as well as organize formal hunts a few times a year.


A few Saturdays ago was the annual fall hunt with the club…something Toby always looks forward to. The hunt keeps him out of the house all day as club members participate in a series of hunts, searching out buried treasure hidden by members of the club earlier in the day. Toby always returns home a bit sore from all the up and down movement that comes with an all day hunt, but with a smile on his face, eager to show off his haul.

Tyler is always first in line to help Daddy sort and count his loot.


Great Blessings

We would just like to thank you all for the outpouring of love and support you have shown our family and Ozzie during this hard season of life. We have felt the sustaining and strengthening power of many prayers and are happy to report Ozzie is doing better than we ever imagined. He is thriving. The results of the therapeutic support he is receiving is nothing short of miraculous and we are so proud of him and the hard work he is doing to heal. He will be starting EMDR therapy this week with a licensed EMDR therapist and I firmly believe this therapy, used with patients suffering from PTSD, will be the answer we have been seeking to unlock the memories of abuse at the hands of Ozzie’s birth mother and birth father, and open the door to begin healing from that trauma.

Family-Based Rocks!

Because Ozzie will be away for a few months, our Family-Based services are coming to a close. Family-Based is another layer of therapeutic support we implemented in hopes of helping Ozzie stabilize and heal at home. That was not God’s plan for Ozzie and our time working with Family-Based was short lived, but it served a purpose. I can now look back and see why God opened a door that closed so quickly after entering it. Our time with Lisa and Valerie was short but they provided support and resources that were key in helping our family heal…particularly in meeting the needs of the older kids who were dealing with their own trauma…trauma that comes as a result of adopting a child who had been abused and suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder. It was Valerie that introduced my older kids to the Ready Yourself Youth Ranch that they now volunteer at two mornings a week, helping with horses and learning the skills they need to become mentors at the ranch.


Last week was our last home visit from our Family-Based team. They brought cupcakes to celebrate and a craft project for the kids to do while they talked and helped the kids process the muddy mix of emotions everyone is struggling with since Ozzie left.

They painted river rocks together. In our area there is a fun movement taking place that involves painting rocks, tagging them with #beavercountyrocks, sealing them and then hiding them around the county. Once found you can follow the travels of your rocks on Facebook as seekers take photos of your rock, post it, and then hide it in a new location.

The kids had fun painting their river rocks to get into the #beavercountyrocks game.

The results were fun and creative!



Now, where to hide our rocks?!

Ukulele Adventures

For Molly’s birthday she received a ukulele from my parents. She has been toting it back and forth to co-op each week where her friend, Caleigh, has been giving her lessons. With all the toting back and forth Molly decided a case was in order. She found one online and used some of her hard earned money to purchase this charming panda themed case. Molly is thrilled!



Last Wednesday Molly and Rusty had their PSAT test. This test…preparation for next year’s SAT test, is just a sad testament to how old my babies are getting. I look at Rusty and Molly and can’t wrap my brain around the fact that we are creeping closer to college searches. Neither were particularly thrilled with taking the PSAT but were excited that they were able to test at our school’s new Pittsburgh location and see their Pittsburgh based teachers.

Tatum and Annaliese, two of Molly co-op friends, were also signed up for testing, so we volunteered to load up Big Bessie and take everyone down on Wednesday morning. Rather than have everyone drop off kids off at 6:30 in the morning, we just had the girls spend the night. It worked out well. They managed to take something they were all dreading and make it fun.

Earlier in the day Molly prepped the bus for their sleepover. She thought it would be fun to camp out in the bus, and I was thrilled to see the bus getting used after a summer of sitting dormant. Molly made the beds, carried out movies they could watch on the TV, and filled the fridge with snacks and drinks.

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I think the girls had fun,

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And everyone survived testing, although I think they would all say they are glad it is done and over with!

Rusty on the Road

Rusty is slowly and hesitantly embracing his role as a new driver. Being the third child I have taught to drive, I find it interesting how personalities shine forth in each child’s driving style. Rusty, who has always been extremely careful and conscientious, is a slow and steady driver. There is no speeding, law bending, or bone breaking moves with him behind the wheel.

Tyler must disagree, as he has taken to wearing safety gear when Rusty is behind the wheel. 🙂


I fear the day it is Tyler’s turn to get behind the wheel. I think I may have to borrow that helmet!!

My Mini-Me

Grace is now a red head and I think she plans to stay that way. After years of bemoaning the fact that I ended up with three blondies, I finally have a redhead… thanks to L’Oreal!

I don’t know if it is the red hair or if the genetic connection has become more pronounced but I feel as though I now have a younger (and much cuter)  mini-me!


My Buddy

Tyler is now my buddy. With Ozzie away and the older kids engaged in school, social activities, and work, it feels as though it is often just Tyler and I hanging out. Between therapy and tutoring appointments 5 days a week, we spend a lot of time on the road together or at the table together doing school. After a decade of juggling the teaching of 3-5 children their lessons every day, it is bizarre to have hours to spend working with just one. The older kids are so independent now that they only come to me when they need clarification or help with a question, which frees me up to work with Tyler all day…

and I must admit I’ve loved.

We have had a lot of fun delving deeper into subjects that interest him, seeking out fun science experiments and art projects to enhance his online school lessons, and having the time for weekly trips to the library. Here are some of his recent projects:


The Monster Under the Bed

All of the one-on-one attention has been a blessing in other ways too. Tyler is struggling with monster sized fears, fears we are working to address in therapy. These fears are driven by the abuse he suffered as a small child and while he struggles to express the thoughts consuming him in his head I have been able to piece together the fact that they are trauma driven simply by where and when they are most prevalent. His PTSD seems to rear its ugly head after the sun goes down. Nighttime is scary time and his bedroom and the bathroom are the places he fears most. From his child profile I know that dark, closed places and the family bathroom are where most of the abuse took place, so it make sense that those are the places he fears most.

Miss Tina, our therapist, has been working with Tyler to help counteract the negative emotions connected to those locations with positive ones. We do this by making happy, light, funny memories in those locations. We play family board games on his bedroom floor, we have shaving cream battles in the bathroom….whatever we can think of to bring light and peace and laughter to a place that is dark and scary in Tyler’s mind.

One way we have done this is with the use of bathtub crayons in the shower. Bathtime is a nightmare with Tyler. He is terrified to shower or bathe. And knowing what was done to him in his birth family’s bathroom, I understand that. But we have to help him overcome that fear, so we bought some bath crayons, and enlisting the help of the other kids our shower wall has now become a message board for the kids. Tyler’s curiosity of what funny photos, messages and game boards have been drawn on the shower wall since his last bath has surpassed the fear of bathing (as long as we do daytime showers.) And I have LOVED reading the dialog back and forth. What an awesome way to battle a fear, encourage writing, and strengthen bonds between siblings, all in one swoop!


Healing bonds via Snail Mail

Strengthening bonds has been a focus in all our family’s relationships this past month. We have all felt the polarizing affects of RAD and trauma after the last 8 months of being in crisis mode. This ongoing, escalated state has a huge effect on relationships and the family dynamic. Now that everyone is stable we are trying to begin healing the damage. One way we are facilitating that healing is through weekly letters between Ozzie and the other kids. Every Sunday they write him a letter which are then mailed out through the week. Ozzie then can write back and the kids can begin reconnecting again.

This week we did something different. We each did a handprint on paper using paint. When our handprints had dried we flipped them over and everyone wrote something they love or admire about Ozzie, using the line, “A high five for…”


I then laminated our handprints and connected them with a metal ring as a special momento for Ozzie, allowing him to reach out and touch our hands whenever he feels lonely.



Well, there you go…

A small snapshot of our ordinary, extraordinary life.

God is good!


PSAT adventures


Yesterday Grace took her PSAT test.

She took it at her cyber school’s office in Downingtown, PA.

Although we could have signed her up to take the PSAT at a local school, much closer to home, we opted to have her test in an environment she is familiar with, with teachers she knows. Gracie, who we have found tests much better when her anxiety in lower, felt more comfortable testing in her school’s office rather than in a high school she has never been inside before with students and teachers she doesn’t know.

We also chose to test out east because they offered the accommodations she was granted by the college board for PSAT and SAT testing. She is receiving these accommodations because of the IEP she has for her diagnoses of Dyslexia.

Since we had to make the 5 hour trip to the other side of the state for testing we decided to make it a road trip for the whole crew (except Toby who needed to stay home for work.) My thought was that we could turn a high pressured trip for PSAT testing into a fun field trip and make the most of our travels.

Toby found a cheap hotel online and we headed out on Tuesday afternoon, following therapy for Ozzie.

The plan was to get to the hotel, swim in the indoor pool, get to bed early, and then while Grace tested the following day we would do school at the local library.

Things didn’t quite go as planned, and what was supposed to be a relaxing evening turned into a comedy of errors.

We arrived at the hotel and were pleasantly surprised to find it much nicer than we expected. It was a beautiful hotel and the sweet girl at the front desk informed me that she had upgraded our room to a suite, compliments of the hotel.

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We went upstairs to drop off our baggage and the kids were thrilled with our room. It was “huge” and “so fancy!” There is something so thrilling about staying in a hotel, especially if it is a rare treat, but this hotel exceeded even my expectations. There were two queen size beds and a pull out double couch. The girls claimed one bed, the little boys claimed the couch, I took the other bed, and Rusty chose to sleep on the cot we had brought with us.

We then ran out for dinner. By this time it was after 7:00pm. So much for our plans for an early evening. 😉


We decided to pick up a couple pizzas and bring them back to the hotel and have a picnic in our room,

so as to allow more swimming time.

We got back to the hotel, ate a quick dinner, and changed into swim suits. Ozzie informed me that he had left his suit in the van. It was while I was walking him down to retrieve it that I realized we had a problem…

My keys were gone.

Thus began the 3 hour search for the missing keys.

We went back upstairs and tore the room apart. Everyone agreed that the keys had definitely been carried in, so we spent the next 30 minutes looking in every crack, crevice, cabinet, and coat pocket…to no avail. At this point we were losing swimming time. There was only 45 minutes left until the pool closed so I took the kids down to the pool to get in some swimming while I searched the hotel and grounds for dropped keys.



I checked with the front desk and retraced my steps 10 times while the kids swam.

(Well, everyone except Ozzie whose suit was still locked in the van.)

At 10:00pm I grabbed the kids from the pool and they began helping with the hunt…

First a quick stop at the fire pit outside to warm up and enjoy a moment of peace before the great search continued.

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We moved as a group out to the van, peaking inside the windows to see if the keys were anywhere inside. We saw nothing. We were out of ideas. We had said so many prayers, looked in every logical and not so logical place… nothing.

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 I was worried about Gracie’s test the next morning. I wanted her to do well and didn’t want her tired, so we headed back up to our room to get out of wet suits, put on PJs, and get little boys tucked in bed. Once everyone was under the covers and quietly watching a cartoon in bed, I continued the search.

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At this point I was out of ideas so I called Toby, hoping he would have a suggestion of some place I could look that I hadn’t thought of yet. At this point I was fried, mentally and physically. I was worn out from the five-hour drive and the three-hour key hunt. I had no idea how we would get home without those keys, but more importantly, how was I going to get Grace to her test the next morning at 8:30?! Toby “talked me off the edge” as he so often does. He told me that worst case scenario I could take Grace (by taxi) to her test in the morning, leave the boys with the big kids in the hotel room, come back to the hotel, and wait for him to drive out the spare set of keys. He said he could be there by noon.

What a good man I am married to!

I told him my last idea was to call AAA and see if the keys had dropped on the van floor, out of sight.

So at 11:30pm I gave AAA a call from the parking lot.

Oh, how I love AAA. After many, many years of them coming to my rescue, I am convinced that white knights don’t ride majestic chargers, but rather drive white AAA tow trucks.


In a matter of minutes my “hero” arrived.

He jimmied my lock and the door popped open…

there lay my keys.

I could have cried with relief.

At 11:45pm I rode the elevator back upstairs for the 11th and final time of the night to find all my kiddos asleep.

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It was with a heart full of gratitude I climbed into a soft bed and fell asleep.

The next morning the challenges continued. Everyone was up and dressed by 7:30 am so we had time to check out, grab a bite to eat and get Gracie to her school building by 8:30am. All was going well until I went to use our Marriott gift card. It is a gift card that was given to us years ago and we finally had the opportunity to use it. I took it down to the front desk to have them take the charges off the debit card we booked the room with and use the gift card instead. It should have been an easy request but it turns out that the hotel chain changed their gift card company last year so the machine no longer reads older gift cards. This required the front desk clerk to call in the old gift card number to get a new gift card number that her computer would accept. All of this would have been no big deal if we didn’t need to get Grace to testing but 25 minutes later the front desk clerk was still on hold. I finally couldn’t wait any longer. So we hopped in the car, took Grace to her test, drove back to the hotel to finish checking out, and then back to the school.

We had 5 hours to kill so we decided to set up at the library next door so everyone could get their school work done for the day. Before we walked in, however, we made a stop at the park right behind the library so a certain little boy could run off some energy before being asked to sit still and quiet in the library for 5 hours. 🙂

It was a beautiful fall day. The playground was very neat in that it was a handicap accessible playground filled with equipment that could be enjoyed by all children, those with and without disabilities.

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Tyler especially enjoyed all the squirrels that were scampering about. I really have never given much thought to how few squirrels we have around our home until I saw what an exciting novelty they were for Tyler,

and Ozzie then asked, “Are those chipmunks?” 🙂

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The morning was spent doing school with the other four kids while Grace completed her PSAT test.



She reported that it was easier than she expected- always a good sign!

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After her testing Molly and Rusty joined her inside. They wanted to take advantage of being out east and see if they could tour the building that their teachers teach from each day. They were also hoping to meet some of their teachers face to face. One of Rusty’s teachers volunteered to give them a tour. They had fun seeing what was on the other side of the computer screen they work at each day. 🙂

Next stop: Hershey’s Chocolate World!

Life is nothing, if not a Grand Adventure!