In the beginning, JD adamantly only wanted two children. I thought that four would be perfect. Once we caught God's vision of putting orphans into families, our plan was multiplied by God. We are currently blessed with 12 children; five biological, six adopted and one more waiting in Ethiopia. Our first adoption was from the U.S., the next three were from Liberia, West Africa, and our last two were from Ethiopia. We are traveling back to Ethiopia this year to bring home our 12th child. We have found God's ways are higher than our ways and true joy is found in following His plan!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

James and the Animals

Today is James' 14th birthday - it's hard to believe. While he will get some more blog coverage when we host his party, I will say that he is very good with children and animals. (And he is our dead animal picker-upper - a very important role on a farm! When someone comes to the house and announces that there is a dead chicken, James just heads for the plastic bags.)

James is featured here with our new dog - a two year old collie, named Fiona. You may remember that I went the guard donkey route to avoid getting a 4th dog, but when JD returned the borrowed horse trailer to our friends that needed to re-home Fiona to a farm, he kind of fell for her. The irony hasn't escaped me that it was the day after I bought the donkey! I have fallen for her this week that we took her on "trial" as well; she is a really sweet dog that is excellent with the kids, the other dogs, the cats, the goats and even the chickens. She lived with sheep before us, so she takes her farm patrolling pretty seriously. 

She is very frightened of the camera (the only thing I have seen her afraid of...). I can't get a good picture, because she tucks her tail between her legs and slinks off when she sees it. So, I snapped this one before she awoke. 

While I'm chatting animals - remember the litter of the four feral kitties I rescued? I re-homed three that are all doing well. The 4th was so mean that I didn't even try. Elijah named him Sher Khan after the mean tiger on The Jungle Book. Once we released him in the barn (he actually turned out to be a her, but I refuse to change my habit of thinking she's a he), I was pretty sure no one would ever pet him again. Boy was I wrong, James continued to call him and pet him a few times a day and he tamed into a really sweet kitty. Then one day, he showed up in the screened in porch and hasn't left in a few weeks. He likes to be with the people. I guess I'm going to have to buy him some little igloo bed because he is NOT moving in the house come winter. 

He is served food with a view on the railing where the dogs can't snack on it. 

Lastly, I will tell my baby goat story. The long story in short form is that Leia was never even pregnant; she just got fat from her pregnancy diet that we started her on after the breeding. It was plenty disappointing, and rather embarrassing when so many people were waiting for the baby goats to make their appearance. The obvious thing to do would be to re-breed her, but my goat source moved to the mid-west. There doesn't appear to be any other Nigerian goat farms that breed to outside goats, so I don't have much choice but to purchase my own stud goat. I have not completely decided which goat I will purchase (their prices vary a lot on paperwork). Either goat I decide is just a baby now, but will grow into a stinky stud goat soon enough. I am purchasing from a farm in MO and the goat will make the trip to VA in about a week. His name is not yet decided since we have a split about continuing with the Star Wars theme amongst our goats. (Thank goodness we didn't have to name Fiona! We are still battling the donkey Jake vs. Chewy nonsense).

Lots of animal fun around here lately!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Birthday and Baby News

 So, the new pets are awaiting their post in order to bring much more important news! Yesterday, JD had a major birthday - one of those birthdays that change your decade. I won't say what it is, other than I am in my forties and he isn't anymore. He is blessed to look younger than his years and still doesn't have any grey hair.

 Today we got the exciting news that the grand-baby on the way is.... a sweet little boy. It's really the pattern of JD's family - a baby boy comes first followed by a few girls. We had taken a family tally of who thought what and Elijah was pretty impressed to be on the winning side and find out that it's a boy. He will enjoy having a boy added to the minority in the family. 

Now all we want is for the baby and his parents to move to the east coast!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bulk Food

 I have a lot I'd like to blog about, but little time to do so! We have a new pet that arrived yesterday and another on his way from Missouri next week - they will have to be their own blog entry.

I performed my fall ritual of making sure the pantry is cleaned out and all food is in Rubbermaids, so the mice won't try to move in for the winter. 

Can you believe one pantry can create this mess?
This doesn't look like one of those visually appealing pantries from the decorating blogs I like to read, but it is clean, organized and labeled!

We made an Amish run for hay yesterday. I actually bought horse feed (for the donkey), chicken feed and two kinds of hay but totally forgot the goat feed. I just can't remember everything no matter what. 

I got a bonus surprise when I got to the feed store because apples were in. For some reason, the Amish apples are sold at the feed store, not the Amish grocery store or Amish flee market - I don't get it but it's a well kept secret that I'm thankful to be in on. Other than bulk apples, we got 50 pound bags of wheat, flour and sugar. I even buy those huge cheese logs that Walmart slices off of - the Amish just sell the whole log for a fraction of the deli price. 

It sure got hot the last few days and needs to feel more like fall before I feel like cooking apples for hours or laying fall grass seed. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

To the Moon (or Ethiopia) -

 We have always liked the quote from the child's book that says "I love you to the moon and back down". (At the moment, I can't even remember what the book is.) While we say moon... in reality, I loved you two enough to go to Ethiopia and back.... twice.

I want to show you a highlight of Ethiopia - this is the major intersection downtown that we drove through several times each trip. (You won't regret the 1.5 minute watch!)


Thursday, September 11, 2014

School Days

 I generally have four students gathered in the school room and kitchen; Moriah and Alyssa work independently in their rooms or the family room downstairs. Planning and executing this year has been by far the most work I have ever put into a year, but I think I'm already seeing the fruit of my labor. 

This is Bella's second year at Classical Conversations, even though she is four. I would never have chosen to start a child this young, but since she is my youngest, she is along for the ride. Thankfully, she loves learning and is picking up so much it's amazing. We often refer to her as the Ethiopian blond (for being a bit dingy)but when it comes to learning, she is super smart!

Elijah doesn't always love doing his work, but he performs well under the pressure of no electronics for the day. 

 Today our pencil sharpener died (we generally go through one a year). James took it apart and fixed it, but unfortunately it died again later in the day. 

Other than school, more school and homework, we are waiting for Leia to have her babies. She is five days overdue today which is supposed to be as late as a goat can go. 

Everyone is waiting!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Busy but Happy

 Back in the spring a friend from our church home group suggested that we host a sit down dinner to benefit Alyssa and her friend, Jordan, towards the cost of their mission trips. While I tucked the idea away, by the time we wrapped up the other fund-raisers we were in the middle of, we really didn't have a need for another large fund-raiser. Since our groups plans a service project once a study, I suggested to use the dinner plan, but for the benefit of a gentleman in our church who is screened for a kidney transplant, but needs $10,000 sitting and waiting for the post-op medicines required for his body to work in harmony with a new kidney. 

Once our idea was born, the event became nicer and nicer. We had a separate  dinner and child care upstairs. Catering friends set a lovely appetizer table while people came and mingled.

 We were blessed with a decorator in our group that created a beautiful fall setting; the tables were gorgeous.

 We had a photographer take pictures of the event and I can't wait to see them - so I'll have to share again. Today, in the aftermath, I have washed eight loads of dishes and have barely started on the silverware. While the loads washed, I did take time to clean and organize the two upstairs fridges, but will have to reschedule freezer organizing time.

Awaiting the 9th load for the day!
 The temperature dropped which makes it much nicer to be outside with the animals. The donkey enjoys company and the organic carrots with greenery Alei bought him. He is really settling in nicely, I just have to figure out how to brush him without annoying him.

 We should have baby goats very soon - she is already two days overdue.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First Day/Second Day

 I did take first day school pictures yesterday and I actually tried to post them last night, but the internet kept coming and going with the storm. So, here's day one on day two -

Selah - 1st grade
Julia - 3rd grade
Tori - 4th grade
 They were all smiles heading off with their new lunch boxes, backpacks and tennis shoes. 

The really good news is that Tori and Julia's room is all ready for the new school year also - new paint, new bedding and clean drawers with new school clothes. Since it's in the 90s, I am delaying getting out the fall clothes, but the drawers are tidy and waiting. (It's the ONLY clean room in the house right now, but I'm hoping to make progress on that as well.)


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Who Needs Saturday Morning Cartoons?

 After months of looking, we found what we thought would be a nice addition to our little farm - a guard donkey. I'm not sure how much of a guard he will actually be since he seems to be very sweet to every animal - even the new kitten in the barn. The norm around here is to have guard dogs that sleep with the sheep or goats to protect them from coyotes (yes, we really do have coyotes!) Since the last thing we need is a 4th dog, we went the guard donkey route; supposedly he will attach to his goats and then protect them from predators.

He came with the name Jake, but we are trying to limit the number of people names that animals are called to reserve some names for future grand-children; so we are going to try and transition it to Chewy. So for now, he is Chewy-Jake. (This is a proven method at our house, as we have done it for five African adoptees...)

 Chewy-Jake is six, just like Selah and Elijah.

 This is a whole new frontier for us - donkeys involve messy poop, hoof care and I think he may need a dental check-up from the glimpse I got feeding him a carrot. 

 I really just think the animals make for fun childhood memories and a good lesson in responsibility. 

Selah is a huge animal lover; so nice compared to the hysterical screaming that she did the first few months in America whenever she even laid eyes on any animal!

Obviously early morning pictures before anyone bothered to get dressed.

 Chewy-Jake and the goats have about a week to get accustomed to each other before Leia has her baby (or hopefully babies).

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Jenny Logic

Today was the public school's open house. We got to meet Tori's teacher as well as Julia's (that Tori had last year) and Selah's (that Julia had in first grade). I decided to surprise the girls with a celebratory Chinese lunch. Since I took the girl's school supplies in today, the last thing to get them ready for school is to clean out their drawers and closet and bring out the school clothes. Here's where the Jenny logic sets in....

The last time Tori and Julia's room got a good clean out was several months ago when I got in there. I just can't bear to bring in the fall clothes in the mess, so it has to be thoroughly cleaned out. Just thinking of cleaning it out made me remember that I have new twin comforters for the girls to replace their worn ones. The issue that arose then is that the walls are scuffed and worn and don't match the new comforters. So the end result is that i had to buy paint today and start painting their room SO THAT they would be ready for school on Tuesday.  (For some crazy reason, JD didn't understand how painting the walls got them ready for school....)

So, check back for some room shots and I'm off to move the bed and paint the other side of the room.

Add caption

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The School Year

Planning for this school year has been the most intensive I think I have ever done. Just saying that is kind of comical because my goal was to "keep it simple" so that I could drive Moriah and Alyssa all over the planet this last year that they are unable to drive themselves. Next year, they will both be driving and that will reward me with a lot less time on the road! (Can't wait!)

Moriah is back home homeschooling this 11th grade year. I have not even completely figured out her curriculum, but we have concluded that she could finish in less than two years if she wants to work hard.

Alyssa is still "in town" on Fridays at Classical Conversations. She is technically in 10th grade, but is interested in finishing earlier and counting her senior year as a year spent in Italy at Bible College. She would then return home and start  her college career. 

I intended on keeping James and Ben in Abeka Academy for the second year and had even ordered the complete curriculum when a really cool opportunity presented itself that I didn't want to pass up. They are now enrolled in a class that meets in a ladies home once a week (much like CC) and she will assign the work for those subjects. They then will return a second day of the week just for Science. This has the same classical education approach I am moving towards but at a more realistic level for my boys. They will do the literature and history but not the Latin, logic and debate that comes with CC. They and Alyssa are both also enrolled in some supplement classes at a co-op on Wednesdays. 

The school year is almost ready to start
I already wrote about how I wanted to rip Tori, Julia and Selah out of school this fall but JD talked some sense into me. They will remain in school this, hopefully, last year and we go to open house and meet the teachers on Thursday. Their first day is then next Tuesday.

Elijah and Bella remain at Classical Conversations close to our home - I hope that Tori, Julia and Selah will join us next year. We actually attended our first week today and I tutored my first class. All seemed to run pretty smoothly for day one and I am excited to see the class excel this year.  What really sold me on becoming a tutor (other than covering some of the expense of my children being enrolled) is my friend that told me that she really didn't understood the program and how to teach it to her own children until she became a tutor. I have completed the needed training and tutoring will force me to learn all the memory work and stay on track with my kids at home because you can't go and teach what you don't know!

The more I learn about Classical education, the more logical it seems to me. It is completely different than traditional learning and I used to think that it was a bit unrealistic. I now believe that kids are capable of learning in this manner and am anxious to see how my younger batch of kids do under this education model.

In summery, I have kids in five totally different school settings. It was a lot of teacher meetings, book lists, supply fees and binder organizational sessions. I think it's going to take a lot for me to keep up with the class I am teaching and all the work my kids will need help with; but I'm learning a lot these days - definitely more than I ever learned in my education classes in college!

My local CC crew heading out this morning