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 supporting our 12th child in Ethiopia after her adoption could not pass court.
Gabriel and I took the kids to a big farm that we got season passes for this fall. Nathan had a blast; I took way more videos than pictures (and don't know how to put them on the blog...), but here are a few.
Nathan watched Elijah get buried in the corn box -
Most of our energy these days is on Nathan and our high-maintance baby goat, Storm. Nathan has taken pretty well to farm life. Day one he wasn't too sure about the donkey and goats, now he has warmed up and really enjoys the baby goat and baby chicks.
He also loves Grand-dad's blue tractor. I'm not sure he still will when it's running, but we will give it a try.
The good news is that he is dressing the part of farm boy in his new mud boots.
Nathan's dad is busy still being a big brother and trying to keep his siblings in line. Moriah has this annoying habit of pulling around the circle and parking right by the patio, which blocks the circle. Today she came home from work to change and leave again, so pulled up to her spot. In the meantime, Gabriel was taking James to science tutoring for me and headed out to see her car blocking the circle. He calmly announced that he heard Dad ask her to not park her car there, so he was going to move it to the end of the driveway to teach her a lesson. Well, our driveway is pretty long, in fact, where you see in that picture isn't half way. Off Gabriel drove and walked back. As soon as Gabriel made it in, Moriah appeared all dressed up and ready to head out. Gabriel told her she blocked the circle, and she calmly replied that it was only because she was leaving again. Gabriel, realizing that maybe the timing could be better, told her that he moved her car so he could get out, not mentioning where he took it or why. She said ok and walked out on the phone, in her fancy boots and big purse. Watching her through the window, I was crying laughing. She walked along looking right and left at the cars. She kept walking, looking at the cars across from the barn. She then just kept walking, turning the curve in the driveway. It was so unlike Moriah, who may be known for NOT remaining calm in frustrating circumstances. She never said a word about it. I agree with Gabriel, once or twice more and I think she will just park where we appointed her a designated spot.
Back to kids, let me you just say that this baby goat, Storm, that we got is the cutest thing, BUT has never taken a bottle. I force fed her for the first two days, then attempted to get either adult goat to nurse her. Neither would, until James thought to put her under Lady at milking time and Lady let her eat. Since Lady is really low on milk, we tried the same on Leia and Leia just laid down on her, repetitively. So, after almost a week, we have to feed her two difficult ways every day. First we drag Lady against her will to the milking stall and up on the stand; once up there, she lets the baby eat. Since that isn't really enough, we lead Leia up, and then have to sneak the baby in for some eating while we milk the other side. The crazy goat will lay down the minute she hears the baby's hooves on the stand, but let her eat as long as we are holding her just right, so she doesn't make noise.
It is a two to three person operation three to four times a day. Here I am milking on the right, while Alayna sneaks Storm in for some milk on the left. If she successfully drains one side, we quietly pass her around back to drink on the other side. Poor little Storm knows to drink quickly and quietly, so Leia won't lay down on her. The third person controls the food she is eating to motivate her to not lay down also.
The rest of the day, Baby Storm hangs out with Leia and Lady happily; they are nice to her, other than refusing to feed her. It's going to be a long month keeping her full of milk, but we will all get through it!
I need to get some pictures of her cute little face... tomorrow. Good night all.
I wish I was techno-savvy enough to post Moriah's video that shows Nathan emerging from the car. He came out smiling at the crowd of children yelling his name. He has such a sweet personality and appreciates the enthusiasm of the kid crowd at our house. Nathan has made the rounds of kids and animals over and over with such excitement.
In spite of just driving across country, Gabriel and Nathan accompanied us on a road trip to Richmond today hauling a large trailer. We picked up the hutch and bunny that were Selah's birthday surprise as well as new bottle feeding baby goat from Wendy.
There is really nothing like two large white vans, pulling trailers, a dozen-plus kids, a goat and a bunny in the shopping center parking lot to get people to slow down and look. A lady blocked the road and was walking towards us. (I was afraid she worked at Kay Jewelers we were in front of and was angry). We watched as she approached and said, "I want to pet the baby goat." She then preceded to ask if we knew if she could house break one. Unfortunately, the answer to that is a big NO. We all traipsed into Chick Fil A for lunch together afterwards.
Here's Wendy's circus I pulled up to. My pulling in just doubled the circus.
Here's Abby giving Selah the bunny. Selah has wanted her own pet for some time.
Here's where Gabriel came in super handy - loading and strapping down...and driving and parking. I did buy him a Chick Fil A meal, which I'm sure made it all worth it. He commented that growing up doesn't exclude you from chores, it just makes them much less frequent; true when you live on the other side of the country.
I will post some cute pictures of the baby goat, Storm, tomorrow. She was born in the VA Beach area during their big storm before the hurricane, so the name just fits.
Gabriel, Alayna and Nathan made it across country - they took six days to drive from San Diego to Virginia. Thankfully, Alayna's dad drove their second car. They will be here for almost three weeks until Gabriel has to head to FL for school and Alayna goes to PA to visit family. We are hoping to meet up a few times during the next six months they are on the east coast before their move to Denver, CO.
Nathan did very well for having been a baby who didn't like his car seat.
They did a stop at the Grand Canyon -
They also stopped in Durango, CO to see friends, and Memphis to see my parents. Geema sent some pictures.
I really love these pictures - it would be four generations if I were in them!
My phone is full so I tasked Moriah with taking the arrival photos. She got some really cute ones that haven't come through my email in spite of her trying twice. I'm going to post a couple of Alei shots, but we are going to try for round two tomorrow with Moriah's.
Nathan and Aunt Alei
Nathan appreciates all the kids to play with.
He is also good with some quiet cookie time on the porch. We sure do love this little guy! More tomorrow - we are going on an adventure and Nathan is going to join us!
We have celebrated James and Selah's birthday the last two weeks; Moriah's is quickly approaching. They are both still having parities, so there is a chance that I will get more exciting pictures. James turned 16. Crazy!
Contrary to how the photo looks, James did blow out the candles.
Selah turned 8 (after being 7 for a full two years). That's another story for another day and only made possible by the lack of records that Africa is notorious for. She is still getting a birthday surprise on Friday when we make a trip to Richmond, as long as the hurricane stays away from us, but enjoyed her other presents and cake on her birthday.
We got season passes to a large farm in the area and went for the first time today with friends. They all had a great time!
Missing Julia in this shot.
They rode petal cars and ran through the corn maze. They pet baby animals and slid down huge slides. We are going to have to go on a weekend day so that they can do the zip-line which is a new addition this year.
We had a even more exciting event happen tonight, but none of the forwarded pictures made it to my email, so I am going to have to blog about it tomorrow!
We had a great day at the Virginia State Fair on Friday; it was homeschool day so we got discounted admission. The day was hot; and I'm pretty sure after two years of dehydration, that I am going to remember to pack tons of water next year, (since they charge $3 a bottle, but you are allowed to take your own in!)
Initially the kids were disappointed that the alligator wrestler and karate demonstration teams weren't present, but there were several new, cool things in their place.
This little guy is a friend's son that has only been home from China since spring; he is a favorite among all my kids! He has such a sweet personality.
We did some snake holding, (well, not me, but the crazy kids that wanted to).
Elijah and I both are hoping to see a local bear in the wild. Not long ago, there was one sitting in front of city hall where Alei lives. I was getting ready to load the kids and head over, but the police roped off the roads and waited for him to go back into the woods. JD saw one years ago crossing a road between here and VA Beach. We just keep our eyes open, but we probably need to extend our search up north into the mountains a bit!
We got to do some cow milking; turns out there isn't any difference between cow and goat milking. My kids that milk goats daily looked like pros! Kind of funny that we waited in line to milk.
The boys checked out the new tractors; still looks the same as the one we bought 12 years ago.
We hit the pig races; always a good time and this year they allowed us some pig greeting time afterwards.
We enjoyed a wild west show. I was feeling badly for the bad guys wearing those coats - it was hot out!
Selah and Bella got a shot with an acrobatic family.
In case you are wondering who we leave in charge of the farm when we are gone - that would be Fiona, the guard collie! You can tell that she is taking her duty very seriously. (And she is quite aware that she isn't welcome on the new porch couch!)
I started the morning by cleaning and moving the goat milking station to the paved stall; I'm excited about animals not being in there except at milking time so that it will stay cleaner. JD is doing taxes (no judgment here, yes, they are still 2015 taxes on an extension), but he wanted a break and to do something outside in the nice weather, so started extending our parking spaces along the circle that we recently cleared. Since we are having weekly MMA at our house (and the reality that a few, like three!, of us have hit one vehicle into another in our very own driveway), we knew that more practical parking had to be added.
So, JD started scraping and removing top soil. Nathan "Face Timed" us and I let him watch Granddad a bit; he has the cutest expression when he is amazed and intently watching. He will be here in a few weeks to ride the tractor with Grandad! After a bit, JD decided that he and Elijah needed to make the voyage for gas about 1.5 miles away. Shortly after they left, as I am covered in cobwebs in the barn, I receive the SOS call that they ran out of gas with the tractor.
I load gas cans and drive down the road to find this -
It's good to have fun while you are broken down on the side of the road.
We went and filled the gas cans and I deposited them back off at the tractor. I then headed to recycling because that is about the only place I could go and not insult people with by barn cleaning attire.
Once I got back home, and was back at work, I received the second call that there must be something wrong beyond gas because it broke down again on the way home from the gas station. This time was about 50 feet from the turn to our road and still in the major highway. James found tow ropes and we towed the beast of a tractor home.
That didn't slow JD down much, he as a backup tractor and went right back to work.
Today I got my first peek at the baby guineas that hatched last week and are following the flock around. While the guineas and I are still not on the best of terms, it is so cute to see 7-8 fluffy babies following the momma around.
Here's another thing that is such a blessing this time of year - the garden. I usually end of completely neglecting it once school starts, but every week I go out and there is still so much to pick. I did weed some today and want to plant one or two fall crops, we will see, I say that every year....
The parking is about done; we are going to have crush and run dumped. See how it extends beyond the circle?
Should really help since the circle can remain clear!
Remember the goat I brought home from the beach? Well, she is a fence jumper, which is why she was given to me. I was sadly mistaken when I thought she would jump out of my fence; she jumps in and out all day long. For now it isn't much of an issue, because Fiona, the collie, flushes her back towards the barn when she starts to head toward the house and eat the plants there that I don't want eaten. I also assume she won't jump out when she has a baby, because she will want to remain with it. Today, she took up fence walking, just strolling along the 1/2" fence like the cats so.
Crazy goat -
So, this makes me super happy - GRASS! I have literally planted grass seed every fall for about 10 years and this particular seed this year has actually grown! It is even choking out the weeds that were prominent here; I'd say it's maybe 50/50 now. It also seeds itself while still quite low, which is like free seeding at this point. I sure wish we had been told about it years ago, it was a freebie tip from some county worker that had to keep coming out to make sure we weren't infringing on a dried up spring deep in the woods when we cleared the land for the garage.