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!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

4th of July

 Happy 4th of July! We have spent the day working around the house and are preparing to head to a cook out and fireworks; the problem is that it is raining cats and dogs. I am writing (in my head) a post on all my organizing and furniture swapping around the house. I am also writing (in my head) a post about my garden and my first tiny batch of canning. Finally, I am writing (in my head) a blog post about the kids and swim team. Maybe I will get at least one of these out of my head and onto the computer in the next few days.

But for now, Alyssa sent this picture today of her overlooking the ruins of Machu Picchu. She also included the text, "I'm about to try guinea pig and alpaca! Machu Picchu was amazing." I later received the photo of the fried guinea pig that somehow still resembled a guinea pig; it made me throw up a bit in my mouth.

My brave, brave Alyssa - check out those awesome ruins in the background!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer, Summer

 We have finally began our home addition; we are adding on a shoe room off the mud room that leads to the garage and a two bedroom apartment over the garage. The original plan was Alei was going to rent it, but she is on the track to buy herself a starter home, so we are building it for future unknown need. The cost of building, however, is a small mortgage, so a renter (that we would enjoy living in our driveway!) will need to be in the plans. We just know that we will have different children at different times that will appreciate an affordable rental option. (They aren't living there rent-free; they can do that in the main house!)

Anyway, the well for the apartment went in a few weeks ago. The excavator comes next week. After the concrete is poured, the Amish are coming to frame and roof it.


Since I am home from Brain camp, I have so much to do to plan for our "summer school" and to get ready for fall. Tori is joining CC and our homeschool this fall, so Julia is the only one that is questionable about homeschooling. She seems to have far less struggles at school than she does at home, but our brain  schedule is going to be pretty demanding and I feel like she will not benefit as well as she could if she is not home. Plus honestly, to structure our whole family around the school schedule is exhausting when the majority homeschool.

I have instituted our first step in summer organization - new chore charts. It was time to shift the chores down as the younger children are capable of more. Since I get weary of asking people things, I print a morning, evening and weekend list for each day and the children highlight the item once it's done. I then can tell with a glance who has not done what is assigned to them.


Here's some shots of summer school that is short and takes place after swim team most day.



Here is Selah today when she ran by me wildly upstairs for the third time. I told her to choose a book and sit on the couch. She refused to open the book, but sat pouting and glaring at me until she feel over asleep. So many stubborn, stubborn children at times. Who won that round? She never opened the book but the running stopped? I'm not sure.


For some reason, Blogger won't let me enlarge the pictures or move my name to the right.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

We are Back

 JD and I are back from brain camp. We left Monday morning and spent the afternoon in downtown Philadelphia. Brain camp started bright and early Tuesday morning. The days were supposed to be 8:30-7:30 with a semi-working lunch, but they often did not end until 8:30-9:00.

Duck tour of Philly
Brain camp is my term for the training at Family Hope Center. It is a unique place in that they assess and treat children for a multitude of issues in one setting, so that the team of doctors and therapists can access and discuss on all levels. If you have lived a life like mine, it gets weary to go to multiple doctors and therapists that tell you different things or give you a diagnosis with little help in what to do with it. Family Hope Center helps you diagnosis any issue in the brain from trauma or injury and then form a therapy plan for you to help them. The parent is then the primary therapist. I have not decided if I am going to return with any specific children for the two day testing, or if I have enough to work through the obvious issues, but the three days of information is going to radically change the way we attempt to improve our children's lives.

certificate time
Julia stayed with a family from church while we were gone but my father and sister successfully held down the fort at home and even pulled off a swim meet. Once I got home last night, I knew my garden was desperate (in a good way) for some attention. The plants are growing everywhere and things need to be weeded and staked as well as mulch put down to outline the garden and help with weeds. While that was on my mental planner for the day, it has rained all day, so we defaulted to rearranging beds for Tori. I had purchased her one from a friend that was waiting in the basement for time; so we have spent most of the day moving furniture and making it all work.

First I told her to unload her dresser and shelves and move all the stuff out of the way; she choose the bathroom as out of the way.

good thing there is a bathroom just across the hall!

Now we are shuffling to make it all work - I still need to do this same process with James and Ben's room, but it will be worse since I will need to paint. We are going to move the boys out of bunk beds and into captain beds with drawers under the beds. It's always amazing to me how working on one room can destroy the entire house.

Heading back to work.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

They are Off!

 My big girls are off on their summer adventures. Moriah left last week and is currently in San Diego with Gabriel, Alayna and baby Nathan. On Saturday, Gabriel will drive her to the Bible College where she will spend the next five weeks. The last week there will be spent on a mission trip down in Mexico. I'm so hoping that this time away is really good for her!

phone pic - Moriah and Nathan at the beach


even worse phone pic - Moriah, Nathan and Gabriel
Alyssa's picture quality far outweighs the phone picture quality of Moriah's, as it was taken by a real photographer, with real film, in a real camera, in the real paradise of St. Thomas. Alyssa, in real life,  left just yesterday for Texas. Today, for the third year in a row, she spent her birthday on a plane heading overseas to rough it for children in a third world country. While she turned just 16 today, she has accomplished so much and we are proud of the sacrifices she makes to do what she has done. She will land in Peru in the next few hours and will spend three weeks there before heading to Panama (where she will sleep in a hammock) for the next three weeks.

Alyssa plans on being a medical missionary at this point and while I think most (including me) don't have what it takes, I think she does. She is one tough cookie! Happy Birthday Alyssa, although you won't see the internet for at least the next month.


Alyssa Grace

Friday, June 12, 2015

Lots of Books


Alyssa has run an Amazon bookstore for three years to fund her mission trips. We assume her trip to Peru and Panama this summer will be her last one in her high school years, so we are liquidating her bookstore at the homeschool convention in Richmond this weekend. I have also once again decided to minimize the stuff in my house, so I went through all the bookcases and cleaned out my books also.  In the end we both had about 350 entries. Each book had to be logged in on the computer, then we had to print two labels per book and tape them on each book. Finally, they had to be organized by grade and subject in boxes. Let's just say we had to start running a sweat shop around here.

Here are the little sweaters hard at work -




They actually did a really great job helping, but it did completely take over the house for a week. 


 Alei felt badly for us and did a box run to CVS.



The fun part was packing the car - yes, I did get over 30 boxes in the Escape with just enough room in the front seat for Ben and I. We had to drive them to Richmond on Thursday night and unload them. (I went to the massage therapist today...)


Now the fun part is that I get to go back to the convention tomorrow to buy more books. Seems crazy but that's what we homeschooling mommas do.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Last Weekend

 My delay in blogging this time was my stupid computer - it had a few things fail on it that caused it to be down a few days. While JD fixed those items, it still runs so slowely that I think it's virus may be deadly. I did, however, manage to download a few pictures from last weekend.

We hosted Alyssa's 16th birthday party on Saturday; I was so thankful for beautiful weather after a full week of rain.

People people everywhere - in the front, in the back, upstairs, downstairs. It was a really nice get together.




We had a cook out and a Sunday bar since Alyssa isn't a big fan of cake.


 The guest of honor feeding her friend; we like to provide full service at our parties!

Alyssa, Joy and Olivia

After getting close to 20 people to church on time the next morning and all the girls returned to their correct homes, we headed to a neighboring county to pick up our COW. Yes, we bought a cow.

The kids love playing with our friend's kids there.


Thankfully the resident boys know how to handle cows, because honestly, we know next to nothing. We are kind of the "jump into farming" sort of people.


Ours is the black one - the browns are her mom and brother


 We did not bring the cow home yet, we just bought her and then delivered her to a lovely pasture at another farm to spend some quality time with a bull. We may not know much, but we do know that a milk cow can not make milk until a calf is born. That blessed event should be in roughly nine months.

The site at the bull farm was so fast unfolding that I did not get my camera out. We backed right into the pasture and struggled to get the cow out. She shot right out of the trailer, but about 20 cows came rushing to meet the new cow. It was a little unnerving to see them all rushing towards us. We left the kids in the van for safety reasons, but Elijah cracked the window and said, "I'm definitely not getting out with those bulls - I have red Crocs on!" Wise boy.

I'd love to tell you that the girls were admiring our new cow in the horse trailer, but it was not so.


They were in horror of how much poop a cow can produce in an hour and a half. Cow's poop reputation obviously is true, ( I guess I know enough about cows to also know that their poop has a reputation.)


We had fun after trailer cleaning though; we got the goats out, played Frisbee and the kids swam in their clothes.

Fiona and Kylie the dogs feel the need to keep a close eye on the baby goats.

I attended Tori and Julia's end of the year parties this week. Julia did a presentation all about her and ate snacks with her friends. 


Tori had a 4th grade cook out that Bella attended with me. The last day of school is tomorrow and I am hoping to blog about my project the last few days.

Tori - end of 4th grade



Friday, June 5, 2015

Tori Took Some Pictures for Me

 Here are the babies -

Teddy
Lady
3 weeks old

Busy and Behind

I've regret how behind my blog has gotten from my real life. I haven't shown how adorable the baby goats are, that are now named Teddy and Lady. It was rough going with Lady for a bit; she didn't want to eat the first few days. I milked the mom and dropped it in her mouth with her showing zero interest. Then she figured it all out and joined Teddy on the food buffet. My initial plan was to separate them from their momma just at night, milk Leia in the morning and then give the babies one bottle. I thought that a bottle a day would help them bond with us. While it may, the babies love us and run to us, the momma is doing a good job feeding them and I'm super busy, so we are going with the mom solo feeding at this point. Maybe I will try my other plan next year, (because I always have this delusional idea that the next year won't be quite as busy as the one I am currently in!)

We may be moooving our new farm animal this weekend; I'll save that news for when I have pictures, (but I gave you a big hint).

I have a humorous tale that would have been picture worthy involving James and I on the chicken roof and ladder at 10:30 at night in the pretty heavy rain. Let's just leave it at the fact that the baby guineas are too stupid to walk up a one foot wood ramp to put themselves to bed, yet can fly 12 feet up and climb through the chicken mansion roof wire. I didn't dare leave them up all night since the first rainy night, three of them literally drowned right by the ramp. So, James retrieved them off the wire by climbing over the roof peak and bringing them to me one at a time, while I climbed up and down the ladder and dried them with a towel. In spite of all our precautions, we are already down to 21 baby guineas from the original 30 - the first few died from mysterious causes and two escaped are were eaten by an numerous wild animals.

Our today fun was Selah's 1st grade teacher invited Selah back to the end of the year party. Elijah and Bella and I accompanied her for the last 1.5 hours of the day. This is a teacher who goes over and beyond; I am thankful the time that Selah had her.

The beauty of living in a small area is that we now see her at the pool almost everyday since swim team has started.


Selah with Mrs. Parker

Tomorrow we are hosting Alyssa's 16th birthday party, then we are preparing to send Moriah and Alyssa off for the next seven weeks. Alyssa is going to Panama and Peru and Moriah is going to California and Mexico!


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Weekend in NY with the Big Girls

 Alyssa was supposed to have a class trip to NYC with her Classical Conversation class; I quickly, and sacrificially, signed myself up as a chaperone. The trip ended up being cancelled because there weren't enough people willing to go. Since Alyssa and I were disappointed, I decided that we could do our own trip and take her sisters as well. I mistakenly thought we could probably do our own weekend with four for what I would have paid for just Alyssa and I, but everything is crazy expensive in NY. We booked a hotel through Groupon (still not affordable at all!) in uptown Manhattan and looked at travel options. Flying was out, so I asked JD what he thought about us just driving in. Thinking he would laugh at the idea, he shocked us all when he said he thought that would be fine. Driving in was fine, but parking in NYC is nothing to joke about. The $50 a day parking fee was the easiest part about parking. When we finally got  our car in the garage, we didn't go back for it until we were leaving town.

We left at 4:00 a.m. on Friday morning at Alei's request that she drive the first two hours; I'm not a morning person and get elevated anxiety just thinking about getting up at 4! After a few lengthy stops, we arrived in NYC about noon. We left our luggage at the hotel and set out to find our first round of NY pizza and figure out the subway.


We ate pizza all three days at different NY pizza locations.
Day one we hit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour in the afternoon.


Moriah's friend, Esther, that lives there, met us for the day.

Moriah is so intently looking at her pictures that she is unaware of Alyssa and I having our own picture fun.
My three big girls on the ferry
Lady Liberty
 After the cruise up and down the Hudson river, we toured the new World Tower in the spot of the old World Trade Center. It's grand opening was only a few days away. It is huge and still stands much higher than the rest of NY's skyline; I'm not confident that I would have taken that approach. 

World Tower on right
 The spot that the second tower was is a large memorial to the victims that died in 9-11. It is a reflecting pool with an inverted waterfall that lights up at night. It has the names of the people that died carved around it. 


If you have read the book Harbinger (I highly recommend it), I was super interested in visiting the chapel that George Washington dedicated our country to God in. It remained standing in 9-11 in spite of being right by the World Trade Center.


That night we hit China Town and Little Italy.


Saturday I didn't carry my good camera, so everything is cell phone pictures. We started the day with a good walk across Central Park to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art; it was a bit over 30 minute walk or a 60 minute subway ride because the subway has to go all the way around. Moriah opted to shop with Esther, but Alei, Alyssa and I loved it.


This is the temple of Dundar; it is actual Egyptian ruins that Egypt presented as a gift to the U.S. after we gave them 17 MILLION to help save it from flooding!


We all enjoy art, but I'm just going to show the one traveling Van Gogh that got the big sign out front. The cell phone picture really doesn't do it justice.

 
In the afternoon, we dressed for Broadway and hit Times Square until time for Momma Mia. I had never been to a Broadway production, so now I understand the difference. It was phenomenal.

In our quest to sample more NY pizza, we found what we thought was the best yet. They had ONE table outside which we somehow scored. When we were wrapping up and gave it to a family that just arrived, they were thrilled. It's tough to feed kids standing on a crowded sidewalk.

Those are cream sodas with the pizza!

This pizza place happened to be next door to the church of Scient*logy. When we wouldn't let Alyssa go talk to them, she asked if she could go talk to the protestors across the street. They let her join in for a bit. They were most entertaining; it was like having a show with dinner.


Our final day in NY consisted of mostly shopping in Times Square before we wandered around with our luggage looking for the parking garage and then detouring around Manhattan since several blocks were closed off for some festival. I'll close with two of my girls; the picture doesn't show the N and Y covered in glitter - (they didn't buy them, it was more a making fun of them deal.) 


 I could totally do that again -