Tag Archives: Young Women

Hold on Tight!

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(Beware: Photo Dump!)

Life has been crazier than normal this last week as preparations for camp come to a head, while corresponding with basketball camp for Tyler and house preparations for a visit from CYS on Friday to clear us for overnight visits with Tyler’s biological brother, Brandon. I feel as though I have been moving at a clip comparable to a bullet train, holding onto my seat for dear life.

Next week the girls and I are off to camp for the week and I am looking forward to the slower pace, the quiet and the peace I always find at Girl’s Camp. But until Tuesday arrives we will keep on keeping on. Here is a look at some of the moments that have filled our days this week…

1.We always know when summer has arrived because the dining room begins filling up with camp supplies. In the weeks leading up to Girls Camp, stacks begin appearing on the table as I think of things to pack or finish projects that will be part of my 7th year girls’ experience at camp. There are camp store piles, craft supply piles, post office supply piles, pillow treats and free time activity supplies and we haven’t even begun packing our own personal gear for this week away.

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2. In the midst of preparations for our CYS home inspection and girls camp preparations, I found myself on the run every afternoon this week, taking Tyler down to Monaca for a summer basketball camp at Central Valley High School. One of Tyler’s buddies from church is a CV student and extended an invitation to join him at camp for the week. I was surprised and delighted when Tyler showed interest because it is really a testament to how far we have come in the last year with his anxiety struggles. The fact he agreed and even looked forward to joining a large group of boys he didn’t know, to learn a sport he isn’t familiar with, made me sing songs of praise for the healing Tyler has found this past year.

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The week was a success. Tyler learned that he really enjoys basketball and more importantly, he learned that he can stretch himself and do things that are scary and hard.

3. Grace has now been enjoying life as a Subway sandwich artist for almost two months. When she was hired the manager made it clear she wanted to hire Molly as well but had to wait until a few of their current employees left for school, freeing up spots for new hires. Well, last week Molly got the call she was hoping for and was told they were ready to begin training. This past week she began her new job with three evenings of training at our local Subway. Molly was thrilled to discover that for her first day of work at this new job she would get to train with Grace. We now how two sandwich artists in the house.

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4. Speaking of Miss Molly…I don’t know if you have heard, but our sweet Molly is headed abroad in a couple weeks. She is preparing for an adventure to Costa Rica.

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About 6 months ago Molly approached me. In some research she was doing about colleges and the Peace Corps, she stumbled across and opportunity offered  to teens. The program is Global Leadership Adventures and offers teens opportunities to travel to locations around the world and serve in remarkable ways. Molly felt called to look into the GLA further and began prayerfully exploring their different programs. She has often expressed a desire to serve in the Peace Corps when she is older and thought this would be an awesome way to try the experience on a smaller scale.

For months she researched the various service programs and the various countries available, knowing that she wanted to serve in an area with a focus on environmental protection and animal conservation. She finally decided on Costa Rica where she will spend 10 days working with the Sea Turtle conservation program. Once she received personal confirmation that this is where God was calling her to serve she began saving all her paychecks to pay for this GLA experience.

She is now just two weeks away from stepping onto a plane by herself and leaving the country for the first time…EEK!

She is over-the-moon excited and we are all thrilled to see her chasing her dreams in such a bold and brave way. She is one who is destined to change the world.

5. Tuesday night was Tyler’s last baseball game of the regular season. Tyler was very excited for this particular game because rather than taking place at the normal time slot of 6:00-8:00 pm, he was playing a late game from 8:00-10:00 pm. This meant he got to play ball under the lights. He was very excited, expressing that playing under the lights makes him feel like a professional baseball player.

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Mimi Joy was able to meet us at the ball field and we enjoyed watching Tyler team take the win. What started as a dark sky in the distance, eventually became a rain shower over our heads, but we didn’t let that dampen our fun.

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After the game we took Mimi Joy out for ice cream at Berry’s, ending a fun night in a sweet way!

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6. This week we also managed to fit in an afternoon of bowling with friends. A few months ago we has a school-planned field trip to Sim’s Bowling Lanes. It was a fun day with two other families from co-op, but because of miscommunication between the school and the bowling alley we were overcharged for the event. The result was a certificate for us to return another day for two hours of free bowling.

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Last Wednesday we met up with the McCready family and the Caylor family to use our bowling certificate. The girls were both working at Subway that day but the boys and I enjoyed meeting up with friends, visiting, and engaging in a little friendly competition at the bowling alley.

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7.  This week also entailed a trip to the orthodontist. Tyler has had his braces on for 6 weeks now and was due to go in to have his wire changed and things checked and tightened. I scheduled Ozzie for the same time to be evaluated for braces. While in Harborcreek he was seen by an orthodontist in Erie who recommended braces. We opted to put that recommendation on the back burner until he returned home so that he could be seen by someone closer. So, while Tyler was having his gear tightened and checked, Ozzie was seen by Dr. Spokane who agreed that Ozzie does in fact need braces as well…

So now we wait and see if his insurance agrees. We could have two “brace faces” in a few weeks.

8.  This past Friday we continued with our plan to meet our Family Based therapy team away from the home to see if that lessens the anxiety Ozzie is feeling about family based therapy. This week we met at Brady’s Run park for some fishing fun. All the kids were able to attend, although only four of them fished. Molly chose to watch. Her tender heart struggles with the idea of a hook piercing the fish’s mouth and it suffering at her hands.

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The other kids, however, had no such qualms and jumped right into the task of prepping their lines, choosing their bait, and casting out with hopes of catching a big one.

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Tyler ended up being the only one who had any success, catching a couple blue gill, but everyone had fun soaking up the sun, connecting as a family, and enjoying the beautiful views on a perfect summer morning.

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From our Family Based therapy appointment we headed home to meet with Washington County’s CYS to have our home checked and get approval to be able to pick up Brandon without a social worker supervising our visits and have him be able to stay for overnight visits.

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After a crazy week of prepping for this inspection in the midst of A LOT of running it was good to close out this crazy week by passing our inspection and receiving approval to visit with Tyler’s biological brother without supervision.

Whew…

What a week!

 

 

 

 

 

Walking in Meekness

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With the new year comes New Beginnings, an annual program for the young women at church that rings in the new year with an introduction of the mutual theme, a welcome for the incoming 12-year-old girls and a chance to say farewell to our graduating seniors.

The theme for this year’s New Beginnings was built around this year’s mutual theme:

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The night focused on “Walking in the Meekness of Christ” with a fun shoe theme to drive the décor, activities, treats and message of the night.

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We arrived at 6:00, (30 minutes early) so that Molly could go over the program for the evening with her leaders. As Laurel Class President she conducted the meeting.

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It was odd not having Grace there with us, as every New Beginnings night for the last 7 years has been shared by my two girls, but we enjoyed our special time with just Molly.

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We arrived and the gym was all decked out and looking adorable.

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A few weeks ago, the girls tie-dyed tennis shoes to be used as the centerpieces for the evening…

Shoes which they then got to take home as a party favor at the end of the night.

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Molly made watermelon shoes that were charming!

The night began with a fun mixer activity entitled, “Guess Whose Shoes,” in which guests were asked to try to match the shoes that were brought in by the young women with their pictures on the wall.

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Later in the evening the answers were revealed when each young woman presented her shoe and explained why that shoe was reflective of her and her personality.

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The program began with Vicky, the current Young Women’s president, sharing a spiritual thought based on the comparison of our walk with Christ and the experience of running a marathon. She showed off her marathon medals and drew powerful analogies to our earthly journey.

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She was followed by a comical presentation by Lisa, the Young Women secretary and Linda, our Personal Progress leader, explaining the blessings of the Personal Progress Program.

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Then it was time for the introduction of the classes.

First were the Beehives, the 12/13-year-old girls, who were introduced by their teacher, Tori:

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Then came my Mia Maids, the 14/15-year-old girls:

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And then finally the Laurel Class (16-18-year-old girls) who were introduced by Mary, their class teacher.

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Next idem on the agenda was the introduction and welcome of our newest young woman. Ava will be turning 12 in two weeks and will be joining the young women then. She was welcomed into young women with a bouquet of rose buds, signifying the fact that she is at the beginning of her journey in young women…a closed bud just beginning to blossom in the gospel.

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Then we said farewell to Taylor, our only graduating senior. She, too, was given a bouquet of flowers but her yellow roses were fully opened, signifying that her time in Young Women’s is ending. She has blossomed over the last seven years and has grown into a beautiful young adult who is ready for the exciting next stage of her life.

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After a beautiful musical number by the young women we heard from our bishop and ended the evening with a dessert of high heel shoe cupcakes, baked and decorated by the talented Teresa Wright.

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It was a lovely night and a poignant reminder of the peace we can find in Christ when we walk in the meekness of His Spirit.

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New Beginnings

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Every year in the Young Women program at church there is an event called New Beginnings. This annual event is a dinner and program for the young women (12-18 year old girls) and their parents. Its purpose is to introduce the theme for the year, explain Personal Progress (the goal setting program that the young women participate in), say farewell to the graduating seniors, and welcome the 11 year old girls who will be turning 12 in the upcoming year.

For many years, as young women’s president, I was in charge of pulling together New Beginnings. It was always our biggest event of the year and inevitably with it came a certain amount of stress and sleepless nights as we worked to pull off this special event. This was my second year  attending simply as a mother to young women. It was SO nice to enjoy the event without any of the work usually associated with it. 🙂 The leaders did a wonderful job!

Each year there is typically a theme for New Beginnings… something that the girls pick to build the evening around. This is the jumping off point for decorations, invitations, and the spiritual message of the evening.

Past New Beginning these have included:

Alice in Wonderland, Olympics, Dr.Seuss, Embark, and Frozen.

Here’s a look back on some of those years:

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https://ktmccleery.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/dont-let-your-heart-be-frozen/

https://ktmccleery.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/embark/

This year the girls chose Inside Out.

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The leaders built the night around the idea of serving the Lord with hearts, hands and minds.

Gracie made the invitations for the event.

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The evening began with speakers touching on each of those areas, a wonderful presentation by Robyn on how to make the Personal Progress program personal, and the young women talking about some of their Personal Progress projects (which were displayed as center pieces on the tables.)

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Gracie and Molly’s display representing the projects they have been working on.

 

Then it was time to bid farewell to our graduating senior (even though she will continue to attend young women’s until she leaves for college.) Our only graduating senior this year was Stephanie. I adore Miss Stephanie and it makes me sad to see her go. I know Grace is going to miss her desperately next year!

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The night ended with cookies and lemonade.

It was a lovely evening!

Storybook Day with Gracie

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“The more that you read,

the more things you will know.

The more that you learn,

the more places you’ll go”  – Dr. Seuss

Today was a smashing success!

After much planning Gracie completed her National Honor Society service project requirement for her upcoming junior year. To keep her membership in the National Honor Society active she is required to log a required number of service hours each year, a required number of tutoring hours, and one large service project in which she displays the character attributes of service and of leadership as she leads her peers in the service project she has planned.

When pondering what to do for her big service project she considered many possibilities but decided that she wanted to do something that tied into her future career goal in the area of education. Grace has a passion for teaching, and a passion for books. As a child who struggled with learning to read before being diagnosed with Dyslexia, she knows the joy that comes from finally breaking through the wall of illiteracy and discovering the joy of reading.

She is now a book lover, and although she still struggles with Dyslexia she has learned how her brain learns. She hopes to take that personal experience into her future workplace as a special education teacher.

She is a firm believer in the quote by Frank Serafini:

“There is no such thing as a child who hates to read. There are only children who have not found the right book.”

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So when considering what to do for her National Honor Society project she decided to combine her love of children and children’s literature and plan a “Storybook Day.” She wanted to share with the children from church some of her favorite books!

Offering some of the other young women at church the opportunity to complete one of their personal progress 10 hour projects, she organized the girls into teams of two to plan a craft or activity that corresponded to a favorite children’s book. Two of her co-op buddies also came to help out for the day.

After putting out sign-up sheets at church she ended up with 13 kids at her Storybook Day, not as many as she had originally hoped for but what ended up being a perfect number.

On Friday Grace spent the day preparing for the activity. She went shopping for the food needed for lunch. She stopped at the Dollar Tree to buy treats for the goody bags that she was sending home with each child. The items in the goody bags corresponded with each of the books they were reading to the kids.

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She made name tags and a sign-in sheet.

She set up the stations for the different activities and decorated the chalkboard in honor of the activity.

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By the time the sun set she was ready for the day ahead. She even had time to paint her nails to match her story for lunch the next day:

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The other young women arrived by nine the next morning to help finish setting up and then the children began arriving at 9:30.

The kids played on the McDonald’s Play Place while the girls waited for all the kids to arrive. At 10:00 they began the day with their first book:

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The kids sat on a quilt in the yard to listen to the story and then did an apple or tree craft that tied into the story.

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The next story they listened to was:

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Following this story they made rainbow scales like the fish in the story by decorating clear plastic cups with Sharpie markers and melting them in the oven until they became a “fish scale.”

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The next story was:

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Molly helped plan the activity that followed this story. Using purple yarn she created a “Harold and the Purple Crayon” drawing around the yard. The kids each grabbed hold of a paperclip attached to the yarn that they pulled through the maze of twists and turns to reach the end.

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This story was followed by:

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This book ends with Curious George and his red balloon so it only made sense that the activity that followed included water balloons! The kids loved participating in the water balloon games which quickly evolved into an old-fashioned water balloon fight.

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Then it was time for lunch. Gracie took charge of this part of the day with great plans in mind. The book she planned for lunch was:

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Lunch was a plate of some of the foods featured in the book. To add to the authenticity she used a straw to cut caterpillar holes in the watermelon and strawberries. The swiss cheese came pre-poked. 🙂

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While the kids ate lunch Grace read the book.

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Lunch was followed by dessert, of course!

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For dessert the kids enjoyed chocolate chip cookies while listening to this book:

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At the end of the day the kids had about 30 minutes before parents were due to return so after packing everyone’s goody bags with their completed crafts the young women organized the kids into games. It was a perfect end to an already “booked” event.

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A lot of work went into this very special day and I think the whole family felt a bit of relief when it went off without a hitch and ended successfully. Grace was grateful to all the girls who came to help and for the many hands that made her load lighter.

After a long day it is now time to say goodnight…

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“Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.” – Goodnight Moon

We can do it!

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Thursday was our monthly Relief Society activity at church for the ladies. The committee I work with planned a great night with a great theme.

Our theme was “We can do it!”

Based on the old WWII propaganda poster of Rosie the Riveter.

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Rosie the Riveter became the face of a new type of woman that arose out of a need, and became the symbol of empowerment to women everywhere. She represents the housewives and mothers of that era who stepped up and stepped out of the noble task of keeping house to meet a desperate need during that era. With the men of the workforce being called to the front lines of war there were jobs that needed filled, labors that needed accomplished for our country to continue running and for the needs of the war effort to be met.

Many, many women removed their aprons and put on a new hat (figuratively and literally) as they stepped onto factory lines and into places of business that had previously been a man’s world.

Women who had never worked outside the home were now building airplanes and then going home to still care for their families and fulfill all of those responsibilities at home

while they waited and prayed for their husbands across the sea.

When we began planning for this activity our goal was simple…

Remind the ladies that they can do hard things. Like Rosie the Riveter they are more capable than they might believe when it comes to certain daunting tasks like DIY home repairs or canning food. We planned a series of classes playing off the “We can do it” message.

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When the night arrived we decorated the gym at church with a 1940’s patriotic theme. We played off the idea of flags, canned goods, and aprons. It was a fun activity to decorate for!

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We began the night with a spiritual message.

Michele Pinter (a military wife) shared with us the spiritual spin on Rosie the Riveter and our “We can do it” theme for the night. She talked about how in life we often find ourselves on paths we never thought we’d be on, facing challenges we never expected to face. We get called to do hard things we never expected to have to do…

Whether facing a husband deployed, a child in the NICU, the death of a spouse, or loss of employment.

Like the women during WWII who were asked to step up and take on challenges they had never considered taking on before, we are sometimes called to move beyond what is known,

and expected,

and comfortable

for the sake of a bigger cause…God’s cause.

Like Rosie we move out of the security  of the “known”  and find ourselves stepping into the faith dependent “unknown.”

She reminded us to never lose sight of the source of that power that allows us to do hard things…

It is because of our Heavenly Father’s love that

“We can do it!”

It was then time to split for classes.

Our teacher for the DIY class got stuck at work so we had three classes:

1. Life Hacks: tricks and tips to make life easier.

2. Canning jams and jellies.

3. How to can meat.

Our teachers were wonderful and all their hard work and preparation made for a great evening.

The night ended with a delicious array of dishes made from home canned food.

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The ladies were able to visit and enjoy each others company while they participated in a fun challenge game:

Can you guess what is Canned?”

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On the tables were 25 different mason jars with home canned food inside. The ladies walked around, looked at each jar and wrote down their guesses on the answer sheet.

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We then revealed the answers with a prize for our winners. 3 ladies tied with 17 correct guesses.

It was a fun night with a fun group of ladies.

And it was an empowering night as we were reminded that we CAN do hard things.

Whether we are speaking of the temporal or the spiritual challenges of life,

when the Lord calls us to a task He will empower us to do that which He has called us to.

With God nothing is impossible.

Remember:

“We can do it!”

Embark!

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It was that time of year once again… time for New Beginnings! New Beginnings is a yearly ceremony for the young women at church. It is a chance to focus on their theme for the year, welcome the new 12-year-old girls who are coming into young women’s, and a chance to bid farewell to our graduating seniors.

It was so odd, after 4 years of planning New Beginnings, to show up on Sunday evening as a mother without any of the stress or worries that are typically associated with that day. 🙂

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In the past we have had fun with the theme for the evening. We have done a Dr. Seuss night, an Alice in Wonderland adventure, “You are a gem,” and last year’s theme was “Frozen.”

This year there was the nautical them of “Embark!” and the focus was on service.

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The girls were all asked to bring in objects that represent what they have been working on this year in their goal setting program, Personal Progress.

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Grace brought in her scriptures, that she has been working on reading daily, and a painting to represent a talent she has been working on developing.

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Molly brought in a loaf of bread to represent the bread she made and delivered to neighbors for a service project, as well as baby hats she crocheted to donate to our local hospital.

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The night was filled with a spiritual devotional, a musical number by the young women, a welcome to the 12-year-old girls and a farewell to our seniors.

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The night ended with snacks and treats.

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There was even a photo booth for the girls to play around with…

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As a gift for each girl there were charms with nautical themes for them to each take home. Grace chose an anchor and Molly chose a lighthouse. They were excited. They both collect charms for their charm bracelet so it was an extra special gift!

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It was a special night for the young women!

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More Camp Fun!!

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This past week was spent in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, as the girls and I attended Young Women camp with our church. As illogical as it may sound, spending this past week with 100 teenage girls was just the break I needed from the drama of a certain 10-year-old boy at home. 🙂 Getting away and heading into the woods was the just the boost I needed to recharge my “batteries”, refocus on the bigger picture and spiritually refill my bucket so that I could go back home a better wife and momma. It was wonderful laughing with the girls and other leaders, and stepping away from the distractions of the world for a short time. Camp week was just as Kimberly Rinehart describes:

“Camping is more than just getting away.

It’s the clear blue sky, the song of a bird, the beckoning woods, the wide open spaces.

Camping is greeting the breath of dawn unhindered by the walls of city life and watching the sun set in ribbons of  color as it says “goodnight” to a perfect day.

Camping makes hearts grow lighter and food taste better.

It’s sharing songs around a campfire and gazing up in silence at a star-filled sky.

Camping is more than just getting away. It’s the thing we need to rekindle the spirit of a simpler time, refresh our hearts with nature’s beauty, and remind us that life doesn’t have to be so complicated after all.”

The theme this year was, “Come Unto Christ,” with COME serving as an acronym for the focus words: covenant, obey, minister and endure. Each day there were devotionals, scripture study and focus classes that revolved around the word of the day. As the girls studied, discussed and applied what they learned they gained a deeper understanding of what it means to covenant, obey, minister unto others, and endure to the end, as daughters of God.

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The girls at camp spent their days working as levels and their nights sleeping as levels with their 2 adult leaders. This year Molly was a 3rd year girl (It was her third year at camp) and Gracie was a 5th year girl, which meant she got to serve as a youth leader and help plan classes and devotionals for the 1st year girls she was assigned to. I was there as the leader over the 7th year girls. These are the 18-year-old girls that choose to come back to camp the summer between their senior year and the start of college. The activities that fill the girls’ days vary depending on the level and the certification that is needed for that level. Their days are spent going on hikes, swimming, canoeing, knot tying, building and cooking over fires, identifying constellations, animal tracks, plants, using a compass, etc.

Gracie canoeing.

Gracie canoeing.

In addition to certification activities and spiritual focus classes a large part of the girls’ days are spent serving and ministering to others. Around camp we have a way of acknowledging and rewarding kindness, hard work, selflessness, and Christ-like behaviors. The leaders and youth leaders carry around tokens that are handed out to the girls when they see girls being Christ-like in word and deed. The girls can then take the tokens they earn and spend them at our camp store that is managed and run by the 7th year girls. It is a fun way to encourage and acknowledge all the good choices and kindness we witness while at camp.

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One of the big service projects for the week happened on Wednesday when we weeded and mulched the beachfront area of the state park we were camping at. We spent 4 hours working and with the man power of 100+ girls we were able to spread 10 truckloads of mulch. The park was incredibly grateful for the 380 man hours of service we gave them and the girls were able to experience the blessings of working hard as a team as well as the satisfaction of a job well done! Go girls!!

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After a hot, sweaty morning working with mulch the girls enjoyed some beach time at the lake…

Beautiful girls!

Beautiful girls!

The 7th year girls also headed up additional fun, free-time activities for the girls. These were optional activities that were offered for those who wanted to participate. They were a chance to just have fun, be silly and enjoy girl time. Here are some of the relay games they offered…

The "post it note" race.

The “post it note” race.

The girls having "fat Santa" races with balloons and large sweat suits :)

The girls having “Fat Santa” races with balloons and large sweat suits 🙂

There is so much good that comes from Young Women camp for these girls: They are spiritually fed, they are able to escape the distractions and pressures of the world for a while, they are able to learn new skills, be silly with each other, serve others, become more Christ-like…but one of the greatest blessings that come from escaping into the woods for a week are the friendships that grow from that shared experience. Not only among the girls but among the leaders as well. What a joy it is to stand in the darkness of the camp commons and hear the giggles of girls, coming from the cabins, as they talk, laugh, share and bond with each other.

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Molly and Miss Rosie

Molly and Miss Rosie

 On Saturday we arrived home tired, stinky and sore. Physically I was drained, but emotionally and spiritually I was recharged and filled to capacity. Heading into the woods for  week with 100 teenage girls and leaders was just what I needed. 🙂 I am so grateful for the amazing, inspired leaders that made the “magic” happen. What a joy-filled week it was!!

Eating Seagulls

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I have started taking parenting classes. I know what you are thinking… “After 5 kids it’s about time, woman!” These classes were not my idea. These classes are a part of Ozzie’s trauma therapy appointments. At each weekly appointment we are called into the doctor’s office together where I am given a parenting lesson, assigned homework for the week, and then sent back to the waiting room to wait while Ozzie has his therapy session. Each lesson is intended to teach me new parenting skills that I perhaps lack and then apply them to my parenting the following week. I have tried to be the cheerful, receptive, open-minded student I should be but have done my share of internal eye rolling. Last week we had a lesson on the proper way to give a command. “You should never beg your child to obey you,” he counseled, “because then you have given them the authority in the relationship.” I sat sweetly, nodding my head as though this was all very insightful when I really wanted to say, “No kidding!”

This past week’s lesson was on how to calm your child down when he is having a tantrum. Our assignment was to work for 30 minutes every day on relaxation techniques…deep breathing, muscle relaxation and visualization. We have been doing this every evening after family scripture study. The results haven’t been what the doctor was hoping for. My 3 teenagers are on the verge of sleep when we are done but the two little boys spend the majority of the time wiggling and giggling. You’ll be happy to know that I didn’t beg them once to obey. The doctor will be so proud. The second part of my parenting homework was to then use these relaxation techniques every time Ozzie started to tantrum. This went about as well as expected:

The other day a tantrum began as a result of Ozzie not wanting to take a bath. I picked him up, carried him to the room and began to apply the techniques we have been working on. He laid on his bed kicking and crying while I sat with my back against the door and my eyes closed. In my best new age, yoga instructor voice I told him to take slow, deep breaths. His response was a fast paced pant. I then began our visualization….

“Imagine you are at the beach. In front of you stretches the ocean. The waves are calm and there are dolphins jumping in the distance.”

From the bed I hear Ozzie mutter, “I hate dolphins.”

I continued… “You are sitting on a beach chair with your toes in the sand.”

“I’ll break that beach chair!” Ozzie responded.

“There are children playing in the sand near your chair,” I continued.

“I’ll kick sand in their eyes!” he growled back at me.

“All you can hear,” I continued, determined to give this exercise a valiant effort, “are the seagulls overhead.”

“I’m gonna eat those seagulls!!” he yells from across the room.

“Wow,” I thought to myself, “These parenting classes are amazing. I don’t know how I’ve parented the last 15 years without these tools.” When Ozzie was finally calm and the tantrum had passed I then had to sit down and fill out paperwork for the doctor on what happened during the tantrum, what tools I used, how Ozzie responded, and what I could do better next time. I then get to share our results with the doctor at the next appointment before I receive my next parenting lesson…Yea!! 🙂

Other happenings this week include:

1. A visit with Mimi Joy. On Monday we met at Eat n’ Park for dinner so that she could meet her new grandson. Ozzie was thrilled that she knew it was his birthday and bought him a gift. He was happy to receive a new Lego set. We had a wonderful time!

Dinner with Mimi Joy

Dinner with Mimi Joy

2. We had a furry visitor come and stay with us. Jemima, a pup we babysit every now and then, came for a two-week visit. The kids love when Jemima visits, especially Tyler.

Jemimah and Tyler

Jemima and Tyler

3. On Wednesday we had our Valentine party at co-op. We were late getting there due to an IEP meeting I had in the morning for Ozzie at his school but luckily we made it to co-op before any of the Valentine fun began. There were two parties, one for the older kids and one for the younger kids. The older kids had lunch together and played games together like the candy ball game while the little kids decorated cookies and exchanged valentines. Tyler had Rusty’s help in creating his Lego box. Tyler was thrilled when his box won the prize for the “reddest” box.

Tyler and his Lego Valentine box.

Tyler and his Lego Valentine box.

The big kid party.

The big kid party.

4.  On Thursday I drove Molly to our local hospital so that she could donate the baby hats she has been crocheting for the maternity ward. Ozzie and Rusty tagged along. When we arrived at the maternity floor we were buzzed in through the locked doors and we found our way to the nurses’ desk. They were generous with their praise and gratitude as Molly showed them the hats she had made. She was also tickled to find out that they were both named Molly. We rarely meet other “Mollys” so to meet two at once was a surprise. While we were standing there Ozzie asked if he could see a newborn baby. He told the nurse he had never seen one before. She explained that they didn’t have any right now but there were a few women in labor. Just then another nurse called out that one of the patients was about to deliver. As one of the nurse Mollys jumped up to assist Ozzie called after her, “Can we come and watch?” Needless to say we didn’t stick around, much to Ozzie’s disappointment.

Molly and her bag of baby hats to donate.

Molly and her bag of baby hats to donate.

5. On Saturday we were able to get Ozzie together with his sister, Zoey. We met at Burger King and I left the rest of the kids at home so that Ozzie and Zoey could have some one on one time together without the other kids. Zoey brought Ozzie a gift for his birthday. It was a bag filled with some homemade gifts she had made for him. Ozzie was so excited by the gifts but also by the fact that Zoey had made them. The kids then had a chance to play while I got to know Zoey’s new foster mom. She was wonderful and I can see that Zoey is exactly where she needs to be. When we left it was with mixed feelings. I felt such peace knowing that Zoey was thriving where she was at but there was also a sadness watching Ozzie and Zoey say good-bye. We will be getting them together regularly but that doesn’t lessen the heartbreak that comes from a sibling separation.

Zoey and Ozzie

Zoey and Ozzie

6. This week we received a special package in the mail that contained some special handmade gifts…a beautiful table doily from my Aunt Jane as well as a wall hanging for Tyler from my grandma, G.G. G.G. has made a wall quilt for each of the kids for their rooms. Molly’s is an ice cream quilt, Gracie’s is a butterfly quilt, Rusty’s is a car quilt and Tyler’s is a fireman quilt. On the back of Tyler’s quilt was a tag that had the date and “Welcome to the family.” He loves it and it now hangs next to his bed.

Tyler's quilt from G.G.

Tyler’s quilt from G.G.

7. This past week we did our annual wall marking. Every year on Valentine’s day we measure the kids on the wall of our hallway to see how much they have grown from the previous year. This year was Ozzie’s first mark on the wall. Last year was Tyler’s first mark so it was fun to see how much he has grown in the past year. Everyone had grown a few inches…everyone that is but poor Grace who is 5’2″ and holding. 🙂

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8. And finally the last big event of the week was Miss Molly receiving her young women medallion. She has been working very hard this past year with the goal of accomplishing all the requirements before she turned 14. She did it with 6 weeks to spare. We are very proud of the young woman she has become. We love you, Miss Molly!!

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So there you go. The past seven days at Patchwork farm. Things have been busy but good busy. It is easy to get overwhelmed with the endless list of chores, appointments, lessons, and therapy sessions so we tackle our days in the same manner you would face the task of eating an elephant…one bite at a time.

Or in our family…

Eating the seagulls one tantrum at a time. 🙂

Hi ho Hi ho..It’s off to camp we go!

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We left for camp around noon on Monday. Toby helped us pack the car the night before so all we had to do was hop in and drive. We had a two-hour drive to get to the Laurel Hill Campground we were staying but along the way we had to make a few stops for gas, lunch, and a couple last-minute items that I forgot to purchase earlier in the week. Our car was filled to capacity with sleeping bags, items for the camp store, pillow treats, suitcases and craft supplies..

Our very full car!

Our very full car!

When we arrived we were able to get all of our gear unloaded before the rain hit. On Monday night the camp is filled with leaders, youth leaders and the daughters of the leaders who have to be there Monday night. Monday night is a prep/set up night so our evening was spent unloading supplies, moving cots to the appropriate cabins and preparing for the following day when all the campers would arrive. After we were done helping with camp chores the girls and I decorated our cabin. The before picture..

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After set up and decorating..

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Tuesday morning we woke and had a few hours of preparation before the other campers arrived at 1:00 pm. This gave me a chance to work with my 7th year girls. This is my third year being the 7th year leader and I love it! The camping program only goes to level 6 so the 7th year program was developed so senior girls could come back and serve in leadership as a junior camp director. Their responsibilities include: running our camp store, planning and making appreciation gifts for all of the wonderful staff that works so hard to make camp a success, as well as other tasks set before them. These are the wonderful 7th years I had this year..

The JCDs ready to check campers in!

The JCDs ready to check campers in!

Tuesday morning was spent preparing the camp store. The JCDs are in charge of the set up and running of the camp store and it is a big hit with the campers. We begin with a meeting months before camp to decide what we want to stock the store with. I then take the shopping list to the dollar store and purchase as much product I can for $125.00. Tuesday morning we then empty the bins and it is like Christmas as the girls check out all the supplies and then go about he task of organizing and pricing the inventory. Our camp store isn’t a typical store though… we don’t accept money. Our store is run on a token system. The leaders and youth leaders at camp are all given tokens to carry around in their pockets and when they spot a kindness or good dead happening they are able to show appreciation for that kind deed by handing out a token. The girls can then bring their tokens to the store and shop. It is a lot of fun fo everyone involved!

Our camp store.

Our camp store.

This year we had some new faces at camp..one being Mimi Joy! The girls were thrilled to find out that she was coming to camp to serve as a chaperone for Cranberry’s cabin and had fun seeing her as they popped in and out of activities all week long.

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One of the highlights of camp, in my humble opinion, is the camp food. 🙂 It is lovely to have an entire week off from cooking, clean-up and dishes! Our kitchen staff is wonderful and the meals are delicious. Here the girls eagerly await their favorite part of dinner..the homemade bread!

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Wednesday was our service project day. As a thank you for the wonderful facility we are able to use we participate in a service project each year to thank the park. The rangers let us know what they need us to do and we do it. Usually we are given the task of weeding and mulching the gardens by the beach but this year they asked our group to rake and clean up the fallen sticks at our camp. The older girls were given the task of working with the rangers and some volunteer staff to clean up an area that had flooded and lay down fresh mulch. As we were leaving the ranger expressed his gratitude for the service our group offers the park each year. He commented on how hardworking our girls were but then gave an even greater compliment when he said, ” We are so impressed by how hard your girls work, but what really impresses us is that your girls are always so happy while they work.” Isn’t that what it is all about..service with a smile! 🙂

After working hard the girls were treated to “walking tacos” for lunch and a few hours of beach time to play and relax!

Molly with her other level 2 friends.

Molly with her other level 2 friends.

 

The rest of the week was filled with games..

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..morning scripture study in our cabin..

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..”Skit in a bag” night..

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..Wonderful classes and devotionals..

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..Crafts..check out Gracie’s tie-dyed T-shirt..

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..and fun with friends!

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Saturday morning was spent packing up, cleaning out the cabins, and doing final chores around camp. We climbed in the car feeling tired, hot, stinky and sore but immensely satisfied. We decided it was the best camp year yet! Now onto our next adventure!! Look out Jersey Shore, here we come!

Riding the waves

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Friday was our annual trip to the wave pool. Every year those working with the young women at church try to plan a day at the wave pool. It is an outing that all the girls look forward to. We go to the one at Settler’s Cabin. It is a nice wave pool that is also quite affordable at  $3.00/4.00 per person. We had planned to meet at church and carpool our way to the pool but as the morning wore on and the sky grew darker I debated whether to reschedule. I looked online at the weather report and saw that we had a 40% chance of showers. 40% may seem like a high probability of rain but living in western PA has made 40% chance of rain and gray skies a way of life so we decided to go ahead and try the wave pool.

My young women..love these girls!

My young women..love these girls!

We met to pick up girls and then headed to the pool. When we arrived we sat in the parking lot so everyone would have a chance to eat their sack lunches before we went in. (No outside food is allowed to brought in) As we sat in the parking lot eating and visiting we heard the first ominous rumble of thunder followed by someone on the loud-speaker informing us that due to thunder they would delay opening the gates for another 30 minutes. We waited and watched the dark cloud roll by followed by a patch of beautiful blue skies. 30 minutes later we were allowed to enter. The girls changed into their suits while I took my boys and those who were already changed down to the water’s edge. Everyone had a chance to do one round of playing in the waves before we heard another rumble and whistles were blown. We were told that everyone needed to gather their items and go sit under the roof of the snack bar area until the storm passed.

The wave pool..

The wave pool..

Tyler loved it!

Tyler loved it!

Their policy with thunder is that for every rumble heard we must wait 30 minutes to be allowed into the pool. Each time thunder is heard the clock restarts. As we sat waiting on the concrete ground you would hear a chorus of groans after each rumble of thunder. Soon that rumbling turned into a down pour of rain.

and the rain came down..

and the rain came down..

The sky went black and then the hail began. It was an impressive display by Mother Nature and I was waiting for a cow to fly by next but the sky lightened and the sun came out. After 90 minutes of waiting we were finally allowed back into the pool.

While waiting for the whistle that allowed us back into the pool Tyler took advantage of the sun and the puddles!

While waiting for the whistle that allowed us back into the pool Tyler took advantage of the sun and the puddles!

The kids all had a good time. They played in the waves and spent time jumping off the edge of the pool into the waves, buying time until the diving pool opened at 3:00.

One, two, three..jump!

One, two, three..jump!

At the diving pool there is no swimming. It is a deep pool surrounded on three sides by diving boards: 2 low boards, 2- 3 meter boards, and a pillar of concrete at one end with a 5, 7 and 10 meter diving platform. My older kids all wanted to  jump off the diving boards but I told Tyler that he could only watch. He is not as strong a swimmer as he feels he is and I didn’t feel confident in his ability to make it back to the side of the pool after jumping in. We sat and watched the kids and he kept asking to try it too. I finally relented after some of the girls offered to wait at the water’s edge in case he needed help. He climbed up on low dive and jumped. He resurfaced and dog-paddled his way back to the side of the pool. He climbed out and asked to go again. The next time it was his turn he walked to the edge of the board and then proceeded to do a flip into the water.

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I watched in horror and awe having had no inkling that he could or was planning to flip off the diving board. He climbed out of the pool to a chorus of cheers by the young women. He then asked to go off the high dive (3 meter) I said yes but then yelled to him, “No Flipping!”

You could tell he was nervous as he climbed up…

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He walked to the edge…

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And jumped!

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Luckily he was content with the high dive and didn’t want to try the diving platforms because I don’t know that I could have handled that!

After diving we had a little more time to play in the wave pool before we needed to get everybody home. Luckily Mother Nature’s timing was perfect. As I was trying to convince the boys to get out of the pool the whistles were blown because of lightning so it made for a perfect exit. We ended up having a few hours of beautiful weather between storms..typical Pittsburgh weather. It was a fun day and my kids all came home tired from swimming and riding waves.

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Rusty helping Tyler to the edge of the pool.

Rusty helping Tyler to the edge of the pool.

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Today the boys were up early to be dropped of at daycare because the girls and I are leaving for camp! We will be gone Monday-Saturday. Both boys are excited about daycare, having never been there before. They are going to the same place where we took the animals a few months ago. Hopefully they will enjoy it as much as Buttercup did. 🙂

See you in a week!