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!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Feeding Time

A lot of energy is put into feeding everybody, and every pet, everyday, around here, as you may imagine. Last Sunday, I made a trip to Richmond to pick up the 1/2 of a cow meat that I purchased with my friend, Wendy. As I was leaving from our meat exchange, I stopped for butter and cheese at the local Kroger. Walking in, I was stopped by the sign that said all pumpkins were $4. I don't know if that is more normal, but you can't get a large pumpkin for less than double that around here, so I picked up four. While I was at it, I got some large mums for the same price. I came home to decorate the front of our house, which is a lot more like a large construction zone lately than a home front. I planted the mums and spaced the pumpkins between them.

Within hours, there was a rooster eating the pumpkin and four more waiting in the wings. Obviously the black one is the head rooster because the others weren't even touching the other pumpkins.

The pumpkins are now living in the screened in porch. I do let the chickens eat them eventually, but I like to enjoy them first. See the roosters and the construction zone in front of the garage?

A few days later, Alayna and I, and the children, made a trip to the Amish for apples. I bought 100 pounds for applesauce. Ironically, they sell the apples at the feed store and not the grocery store. The kids got to see the Amish filling the chicken feed bags that we routinely buy.

We made a stop at the Amish farmer's market that they set up in front of the library. We enjoyed some homemade cinnamon rolls before we got back in the van to head to the grocery store to buy 100 pounds of wheat, (100 lbs. seem to be my going amount of everything to buy these days!) 

We bought a few "baby" pumpkins while we were there also; they are happily living with the momma pumpkins on the back porch.

I wish the Amish would sell 100 pound bags of Honey-Nut Cheerios! When they were on sale at Costco, I bought 20 large double boxes; we are down to the last two. It's amazing really.

Monday, September 21, 2015

No Time for Blogging or Fun!

 It's a bit distressing how I don't have time for an assortment of things I would like to do; blogging being one of them. It seems once we start school in the fall, nothing but school gets done. I am currently teaching on both Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so we are up and out of the house on both of those days. I currently have a multitude of therapy appointments on Friday, so it leaves only Monday and Thursday to cover the majority of the at home school work. We attend home school PE on both of those afternoons as long as we are as far as I like in our work.

Saturday morning puzzles
We do have some extra fun distractions right now. Nathan supports the Classical Conversations work because he likes all the music. It's pretty easy having a baby during school time since his momma takes him when he gets hungry or tired!

Nathan turned seven months old just a few days ago. He is sitting well and now we are going to turn our attention to crawling.

Our newest distraction began as a text from Alei that said, "I have a surprise for you."
I replied, "thank you," figuring that it was something wonderful from CVS.
She sent back a message that said, "you won't thank me once you get it."
At that, Alayna said, "it's alive."
I asked Alei, "canine or feline?"
She said, "feline."
Someone had dumped it by the CVS dumpster and Alei spent a few hours catching it from under the dumpster. She is super sweet and loves to be held. Compared to the feral litter of five I brought home last year, this is no big deal. In fact, she already found a good home for her.

 In the meantime, the kids are enjoying being the kitty's foster home.

I actually spent a bit of time outside this morning. We picked and watered our severely neglected garden as well as a few animal chores.

Next on the list is figuring out what to do about the flies on the cow. It is horrible and my greatest pet peeve; they drive her crazy! We have tried the fly spray, but she is scared of it and runs away. I have also put the fly tags on her and the donkey, but the goats chew them off and they don't seem to work that great anyway. Anyone out there have any advice?  

Ben, Mooster and  a salt lick

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


 I need to get the camera out more while Nathan is here. Today he helped me in the kitchen; he was pretty impressed with all the things around him. His favorite was anytime the food processor or mixer ran - he would freeze and stare at it.

 It's kind of a flash back to seven years ago when Elijah sat on the island and "helped".

Nathan is trying more baby food flavors; he likes most of them.

Here's the sweetest picture I've taken. Alyssa was holding him asleep on the couch, and I asked if she could take him into a bedroom so I could vacuum for company that was on the way. She said she'd just lay down with him for a minute to make sure he stayed asleep; they both got a good nap!

Saturday, September 5, 2015


Look who just boarded the plane on his connecting flight in TX to see his MiMi. Gabriel leaves Tuesday for his South America tour that will conclude around Christmas on the east coast, so Nathan and his momma got a head start east. They will take a trip to Memphis from here at Thanksgiving, but other than that, they will be in Virginia. I do plan on sharing Nathan with his other Grandmothers, but he will love the activity around here.  

Friday, August 28, 2015

Homeschooling the Tribe

Tomorrow will conclude our first official week of school for the year. Legally, I am homeschooling nine children, but only the youngest seven require my every living, breathing second of energy and attention. Since this is my 18th or 19th year of homeschooling, I literally have tried about every approach of homeschooling and have found that my absolute favorite for such a group is Classical Conversations. I enrolled Alyssa in 7th grade, the first year it came to our county. Three years ago I enrolled Elijah, and he, Bella and I attended every week to test the waters of the whole classical approach, while the three girls attended public school and the boys continued in our tradition homeschooling method. Last year, I trained to become a tutor.

This year, I enrolled Alyssa and the younger five; the boys are continuing at the other co-op. I have worked all summer to prepare for this year - both for the class I tutor in the community and to have everything lined up for all my kids at home.

We have four segments to our homeschool day at this point:
1. Our group CC time which introduces and reviews the memory information for the week in seven areas.
2. An online ancient history class through Veritas Press that we do in groups of two to three.
3. Essentials Grammar and IEW writing for James, Ben and Tori with Julia sitting in to absorb what she is able.
4. Lastly, our individual work which encompasses math, grammar or phonics, editing and reading.

To keep it real -
I was unable to take one of those cute first day of school pictures on the front porch this year because I had one child crying in the closet for the first hour of school.

Day two we attended our first CC day. Everyone was smiling and wearing matching clothes, but I forgot to take a picture of it.

Day three we were working away and I walked by the camera and snapped just a few pictures; they are a true snapshot of normal homeschooling.

This was group CC time where everyone is together.
They are all completely attentive and following along at least half the time.

This is a realistic shot of Selah - she isn't a quiet child. Tori is.

Elijah showed up at group time with this look; he didn't take it well when I told him that it was going to be a karate-free zone. Although he never stops moving, his little brain is soaking the memory work up.

My biggest challenge is to keep people learning when I'm not home. I have minimized the time away to as little as possible, but it is still a chunk every week. Tomorrow is the first this week that the group has to do without me for several hours. We will see...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Momma Guinea with 8 babies tucked safely underneath
I am pretty sure this picture isn't going to win any photography contests, but it is representative of a few hours of work this afternoon. Ben came in this morning to tell me that one of the momma guineas that had been sitting on a nest of eggs in the woods emerged with several babies following her. Since we lost all the babies last year from predators, we planned on catching any mommas and babies this year and keeping them safely in the chicken coop. To make matters worse (or actually helpful), she had a string tangled around her feet that was causing her to limp. Her flying abilities are on the level of an eagle however, and anytime we tried to catch her, she would fly into a tree or the barn roof. Since we had her running, we started gathering babies which was very challenging since they were tiny and roaming in the very high grass and weeds behind the barn (that have now made the "to be weed-whacked list"). Once we collected all eight babies and couldn't hear anymore, we went back to catching the momma. She stopped roaming with the flock and started hiding from us; once we would find her, she would fly off and hide again. After about two hours of this nonsense, James snagged her with a large net after Bella alerted him that she was hiding in the barn stall.
We moved her in with the babies, cut all the string off her feet and watched as she gathered the babies under her wing. Lots of work but a happy ending!

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Rest of CA and Heading Home

 The last day we were in San Diego, we went to visit Gabriel's new ship - the George Washington. The GW has been stationed in Japan for the last eight years and is back in San Diego preparing to make the trip around South America to Norfolk for refueling and updating. Gabriel will be making the trip starting in a few weeks.

This picture was an attempt at showing how long the passageways are; I think it only shows about 25% however.

This is as close as we were allowed to Gabriel's workspace; I love how all the signs are also in Japanese.

 This is Gabriel's previous ship, the Ronald Reagan. It is right across the pier at this point. It's amazing how different it is visiting ships now than when JD was stationed on them before the Cole bombing. There are metal barriors out in the water around the ships that would stop small boats from being able to approach. They also have guards on the flight deck at all times with machine guns. We even went through metal detectors to board the GW.

It really is phenomenal how America launches and lands planes on flight decks; the only other counties with that technology is the ones that we have shared it with.

Elijah driving on the bridge -

I came home to progress on the garage. Today there is much more - roofing and windows are going in.

Monday, August 17, 2015

2009 and 2015

This is a picture of Elijah and my first trip to San Diego in 2009, and then again this trip, in front of what I thought was the same fountain at Balboa Park. Turns out they were different fountains in the same garden -

Elijah 9 months old 

Elijah - 7 years old 
Time flies and I think we both look older!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Last Few Days

Thursday night we took Alyssa to Old Town and ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant. The area is the original San Diego old town and is built up into shops and restaurants, and is really enjoyable once you can make it through the frustration of finding parking - in our case for two cars since we are one person over fitting into one!

Gabriel, Alyssa and Elijah 
On Friday we hit Coronado Beach. Elijah LOVED it and when we started packing up, requested to please stay just a few more hours. I took hundreds of awesome pictures before I realized the camera didn't have a memory card in it. (I have done this on several occasions and need to order a second so I can always have one in it!) The following are the few phone pictures we took once we realized none of the others actually existed. 

Alyssa and the beach baby

My CA boys

The beach wore Nathan out and he slept as we walked the streets of Coronado 

We ate at a grass fed hamburger place  - just took a picture here

Then we hit Moo time for ice cream 
After we found some shade to eat our ice cream in, we met two helicopter pilots that had just come from patrolling the San Diego coast line. When you are at the beach, you can generally see a ship out protecting the coast and at least one helicopter flying back and forth. The one pilot pulled off his pilot badge and gave it to Elijah. We are going to sew it on one of his jackets; it was the high light of the evening for him.

On Saturday we headed to Balboa park. I live in a pretty sheltered world compared to the displays there. There was a booth set up to convince people that there is no God, nor heaven or hell. They had big signs to go enjoy your life, which brought me to wondering why they needed to convince others of what they believe, when there wouldn't be any negatives of believing in the opposite, and why was that worth sitting in the heat over them "enjoying your life"? Beyond the atheists, there were Buddhists, Pro-Iran Deal gatherings, and Muslim booths. We enjoyed the shade and the Christians at the end of the long row. 

Elijah had some fun with face painting - 

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a shark 
Then we cooled off a bit in the fountain.

It was fun to show Alyssa some of the high lights of San Diego and JD and the kids all seem to be doing well at home. 

Awesome tree!