OUR PLANS MULTIPLIED

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 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.

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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

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Our August So Far

 This August has been the best weather I have ever remembered - yesterday, the high was around 80. We are thoroughly enjoying our finished screened in porch and are able to eat out there most nights; when I took this picture, it was raining hard. I will find it a complete bummer to have to eat inside this winter.

  
When I went back and calculated the date I bred Leia, I realized that she is due Sept.  4th, not Oct 4th. She isn't very big and it's her first round, so I am assuming she will only have one to two kids. We are hoping for at least another female to keep.

  
JD is still working on the chicken mansion. It now has complete fencing around and I was able to clip the teen chicken's wings and keep them in. It now has two large "barn" doors - one to each side of the fence.


 I told a friend that I was interested in becoming a Classical Conversations (the home school program that I have Alyssa, Elijah and Bella in) tutor next school year when I also hope to pull my public schoolers out of school. Next thing I know, I am tutoring this fall! I was very behind on the training, so have taken many cram sessions. Between them and the fact that I sat in the kid's classes all last year, I feel pretty ready. I have spent hour upon hour getting my books and supplies ready to go. I have my class list and start this Tuesday. Elijah is super excited that I am his teacher and Bella is equally excited that she gets "her own" teacher. (It's so funny how different these kids are!)

Time line book I've had for 20 years
My plan (after my husband talked some sense into me) is still to leave the three schoolers in this last year. Tori really wants to go, but knows that 4th grade is her last year in school. Julia doesn't really want to go, but she really, really does so much better with a strict routine and I am seldom able to leave her home with our teen sitters due to her challenging behavior. We are trying intensive essential oils and biofeedback therapy this year and hoping to gain serious ground on some of her control issues. It's pretty tough for me to send Selah this year, because she could be in my class at CC and I'd really enjoy having her there. When she wanted to go to K so badly, we had a lot of competition between her and Elijah and it was valuable to split them up for school; that issue seems to have gone completely away. JD convinced me to leave her with the 1st grade teacher that we know and trust to ensure that she isn't going to require the reading therapy that Tori and Julia did. Once I pull her, I will lose access to it.  

It may not be super realistic, but I am going to try and have the three girls do the CC memory work along with the little guys to give them an edge when they start there next year. Tutoring will make CC more financially reasonable long term - they don't offer any large family discounts.

I made a traveling white board to take every Tuesday and use at home the rest of the week.
 Of course, I had to take a break from the books for back to school hair. I accomplished all four girls this week. Julia is the one that we went the extra mile with. I added yarn extensions to make it fuller and a bit longer.   

  
The problem with them is that it took me seven hours to put them in compared to the three that Tori's took. Tori was initially interested, but wanted me to do Julia's first before she committed. I was pretty thankful when she decided that she didn't want her hair that "long".

  
Here's our finished product. I am hoping the yarn and the end of swimming means that they will stay nice looking for longer than usual!




 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Green Beans and Tomatoes


 I planted one garden bed of green beans, and while it has produced abundantly, I jumped at the chance to go pick more to freeze for the winter. I took eight kids and nine ice-cream buckets and we headed to pick on our way to the water park. After our nine buckets were full, we had probably only picked 1/100th of what she wanted picked.


I headed to the van and found a new Costco bag that happened to be in the back; we all dumped our buckets and started over. Once our buckets were full a second time, we called it quits.


 I decided that a whole shelf of green beans in the freezer warranted the purchase of the Food Saver that I've had my eyes on for about three years. We delayed our arrival at the water park to stop at Costco to buy it. So you don't feel sorry for the children, they got a pizza lunch out of our stop. The excitement for me is that is was $20 off this month (which almost paid for our lunch).

  
We got to work that night cleaning, blanching and freezing the first several buckets. While we were working, my friend showed up who had finished picking the green beans but didn't want to deal with them.


 So, we added this many more -


 I did give plenty away, but we all worked hard to put them up over three days. Turns out that four and six year olds can cut green bean ends with small paring knifes. The first day was all fun, the next day Elijah complained that it was too boring - we compromised with 15 green beans.


Elijah learned to seal the ends of the empty bags and James took over sealing the full side. 

  
All the while we worked on green beans, my third round of salsa making tomatoes were turning red on the vine.

  
So, on Sunday, I finished green beans and added more jars to the salsa stash. 


Friday, August 15, 2014

BIG NEWS

Gabriel pulled in Guam yesterday on his Navy voyage and Alayna is in Tennessee, but the announcement was made in the online world ...


That our first grand-baby is due February 20th -