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!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Little of This and That

 I am quite weary of the cold; this has been the coldest Virginia winter I ever remember. We are supposed to get snow again tonight. Here are my ridiculous "farm" dogs. What is funny is neither of them have ever gotten on any furniture, but one day, Lincoln got a wild hair and climbed up in the left chair to sleep. Fiona apparently was envious because the minute he got down, she took the chair. When Lincoln came back, he just sat and stared at her sitting in the chair until JD went out and showed him that there was a second chair and he happily took it over. So now, they have "their" chairs; it's all cute until I recover them this spring with the new fabric I already bought and I won't want either of them on the chairs!

 When I got my "your library books are late" email, I threw our million library books in the car and deposited them in the drop box. When I came home, Elijah had found the empty basket had other uses. He was reading the one book that Tori had from her school library.

 I am pretty pleased with my chickens, they have been laying like crazy all freezing cold winter! We are getting as many as a dozen a day. Look at the size of this egg, the one on the left of it was small, but the green one on the right was large. 

My big weekend project was putting crochet braids in Julia's hair. They went pretty well and she is enjoying her long hair. This picture was when she returned from gymnastics so the back was in a pony tail. She also got reading glasses to help her eye tracking issues.

This weekend is Tori's hair weekend, but she wants nothing to do with long  hair!

blurry phone picture - hair down

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Big News - Nathan has arrived!

Announcing the arrival of our very sweet first grand-son - Nathan Gabriel!

 He was born in San Diego yesterday - February 18th.

He weighed 8'14" and is 21.5" long.

Mom, Dad and Nathan are all doing well after a long labor and an unanticipated c-section. We are so thankful that he and Alayna are healthy! 

Alayna and Gabriel just a few days before the birth

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Snow Much Fun

The kids are thoroughly enjoying their second snow day. It is actually warmer today and most of the kids have been out all day. The discovered a really nice sledding hill in the future cow pasture and have been sledding with the neighbor kids. I have to admit that I took the hill a few times myself; brings back good memories! 

Here's a few pictures before they drifted so far from the house - 

Elijah and James

A tunnel they dug

Tori - or Tori-bug as we call her, on the throne she made

Elijah sculpted a "love-seat" according to him

Bella - who we call "Bella Bella" way too often

Sweet Selah

Julia at the top of the far end of the tunnel
 Yesterday I decided to take advantage of all my appointments being cancelled and get caught up on putting large pictures in my large photo albums. I had NO IDEA how behind I was. Turns out the last time I actually put any in was before Elijah was born. I had many pictures still in frames from the move that I intended to hang on "the picture wall" that has never happened. I also had countless pictures in the large envelopes from The Picture People at the mall. What astounds me the most is how hard it was to date some of them! Between my three older girls and myself, we got them dated to at the least the correct season and year...(I think). 

The job that I thought would take half of yesterday has turned into a full two day job and I can't even finish until Amazon delivers my next two albums. 

All in all, it was over 100 pictures and has taken over the entire dining room until it is done. 

 I basically had left off Valentines Day 2008 -
That's Ben at 7 years old on the right

 I got up to fall of 2008 today when I ran out of albums and sticky corners -

Elijah 14 mos. on the left and Tori at 3.5 on the right
 Here's one pile of frames that I removed pictures from. I think I'm going to spray paint the ones I want all matching and donate the rest.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snow and More

 Personally, I can do without any of the winter white stuff, but I was happy for my kids when the forecast called for a nice, big snow. Since we got about a foot, everything was cancelled and they bundled up right after breakfast. My rule is when you come in, you are done for that day. The girls only lasted a bit over an hour, but the boys, including Elijah, are going strong.

 My blog has been calling me for about a week, but other demands have screamed louder. One of those was Selah and Bella's hair.

 Tori has a bottle biography for Black History month due tomorrow. She chose George Washington Carver and has to create him as a bottle, write an outline and a report. He isn't finished yet, but he is really cute.    

Tori and George
  Today was supposed to conclude our third quarter at Classical Conversations. I am really impressed with the program and I do plan to return as a tutor again next year. We studied American artists this quarter and did an art piece representing each of the artist we learned about. Here is Bella re-creating a Georgia O'Keeffe flower painting. 

Here's my darling little class; I have two boys and six girls.

 In case having three of my own Kindergarteners and first-graders and teaching that age at CC each week weren't enough, JD and I teach them at church once a month as well!

I have to include this picture to show you the wool sweater that Elijah has taken a liking to. I forgot about it in the back of the closet, so it was almost too small before he wore it. He is making up for it by wearing it when he gets cold in the house, paired with an assortment of work-out pants.

Our great appliance rearrange is finally coming to a close. JD has one more dryer to stack and as long as it works as we hope, the old dryer will be sold to the gentleman who already took the broken washer. This is my little mud room off of the school room. It used to house our old black fridge and an Ikea shelf of kid's junk. JD put up high shelves for the kid stuff and moved our previous kitchen fridge in here along with a new, third washer and dryer. My shoulders have issues, so now I don't have to carry our clothes up and down the stairs and the kids can continue to use the two sets downstairs.

 Once the garage addition is built, this will be the path into the new shoe area and then on into the garage.


Friday, February 6, 2015

My Week

 I have solo parented this week and it has been L O N G. I have a particular daughter that does not handle her father being gone and immediately becomes contrary and argumentative. I haven't sat down at the computer all week, but I did count 10 drop offs and pick ups of children on Wednesday alone. Our evening activities are primarily Mondays and Wednesdays, but they add a lot to my schedule when JD is away. 

The beginning of the week brought Elijah's first lost top tooth. Selah's are loose also and I'd love it if they come out before his grows in; that would be a cute picture.

 It was an exciting Wednesday for Elijah because his MMA uniform came in. He is now working on earning his first belt.

Last weekend was an appliance nightmare of sorts. We have two washer and dryers and recently spent over $500 fixing one. The "fix" lasted only days and we have just lived without it because I haven't taken the time to find out which replacement will able to stack with the still working dryer. BUT, as Murphy dictates, the second washer went out at the end of last week. With 13 people living in the house and JD preparing to go out of town for the week, having at least one working washer became weekend priority number one. 

I decided to go the thrifty route and find a set on Craigslist. I found a set that was at a moving sale Saturday morning, but the lady told me that a few other people were on their way. Whipping out my Black Friday spirit, I threw a plan into action. JD, who was already in town, headed to the ATM and raced over to secure the appliances while James and I figured out how to hook up the trailer, still in my morning sweats, and raced off to haul them away. 

 Of course, just replacing the washer and dryer would have been too simple for my complicated life, so I inquired about the fridge that she also had advertised. It was an awesome price and we have needed to replace our third downstairs fridge. The fridge turned out to be exactly the same as the one in our kitchen, except her children had not broken the shelf and door that mine did, and the ice maker still worked. So, we installed it in the kitchen, moved the kitchen fridge to the mud room, then had moved the mud room fridge downstairs. So, instead of just moving one fridge, we had to unload, move and reload three fridges. JD also had to remove the doors on the latter two to get them in the areas they needed. 

JD also installed the one new washer and fixed the second. Since he had to fly out on Sunday, while we thankfully had two working washers, the extra appliances were left in various places. Tomorrow will resolve the broken washer parked by the pool table and the extra dryer next to the school table. 

With messes like this, I'm just focusing on being thankful to be an American and have food to feed my children and clothes that require washing!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Grocery Shopping

 I'm not sure that Moriah knew what she was getting into when she volunteered to go shopping with the youngest two and me. By frozen foods, we had two full carts-

 pictures are inferior phone photos
By the time we had it bagged, there were four carts -

Four people and four carts - in the Toyota Camry; may not have been my best planning. Thankfully, we had my favorite "bagger" (trivia for the non-military - the Commissary bags and loads your groceries) and she volunteered to take a picture before we attacked the challenge of fitting it all.

It was tight, but we did it; my motto is pack in the kids first, then the food around them. 

AND now, we can eat for the week! 


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Birthday Girls

Last week is a big birthday week in our family - within four days, we have Tori, Alayna and Bella's birthday. Tori turned 10 and Bella turned 5! I'm hoping that it's not obvious how blurry this picture is, because they were all that way for some crazy reason.  

We took Tori to CiCi's pizza on Sunday for her birthday lunch and then we ended up at Chick Fil A on Bella's birthday night, so it was a lot of eating and a lot of cake!

It would have been nice if we had closed the messy pantry door before we took Bella's birthday pictures, but we didn't think of that.

We took a new approach to birthday presents this week - we took the girls to Toy's R Us and let them choose their own gifts; that was a first just from the reality that we just had Christmas and they did not need anything. The kids all thought it was fun, however, and have requested the same treatment; I may or may not regret the trend setting.

Just for fun, check out my cool Starbucks mug from Singapore; I don't drink coffee but seem to have developed a Starbuck mug issue. Gabriel also sent the kids green KitKat's from Asia; they look really cool but didn't taste that great!

One more just for fun photo that is unrelated - this is our living room around 9:00 a.m. The kids all drag their blankets out with them in the morning and then the pets move in for their morning nap. If you really want to sit, we have a few more couches downstairs.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

10 Years - Part 4

I'm concluding my 10 year series with a quick recap of the house progress the last 6.5 years. When we moved in moments before Elijah was born, the basement was just a shell and several things upstairs were not completed. The boys were designated to have the downstairs bedrooms, but every child other than Moriah, has moved bedrooms at least once since we moved in. Moriah is currently waiting to move down to Alei's room once Alei moves to the garage apartment that we are getting ready to break ground on. 

This was the pile of dirt that we had from digging the basement -

 It took 35 truckloads to have it all removed, in spite of the kids really enjoying "the dirt mountain".

JD kept up his work pace to get the downstairs bedrooms done. The bathroom did not follow for about three years however.

The remainder of the basement was finished slowly over the next several years. We honestly just finished the major building of it last winter and are still finishing the final touches this winter. Everything takes longer and costs more than one can ever dream!

A major part of the work was installing the Geothermal lines in the ceiling. 

Gabriel helping back in the day of long hair
 Shorty after Elijah was born, Aunt Deb moved back from overseas and came for a visit. Since Julia was a very high needs two year old and Elijah wanted me to hold him constantly, Debs decided to delay getting a job in America and stay for a while. Thankfully, that while lasted a full year!

Debra and Elijah 2008
 I was thrilled, thrilled, thrilled that we were able to grow some grass in 2009; mowing grass seemed like a glorious chore!

The pool and playground were now located in our front yard, but continued to draw a crowd.

Other than just finishing, we have done some other major projects. We installed a wood burning stove and chimney that I LOVE.

We have also built raised garden beds, put in a pasture fence and JD finished the "chicken mansion" this summer - 

We finally broke down and paid an excellent carpenter to finish the screened in porch and build built in shelves in the TV room and a TV cabinet in the playroom.

the new TV that JD waited patiently for for 6 years
the old TV in a new built in corner cabinet in the playroom
 I am currently working on the playroom reorganize and redecorate. I ditched the Kelley green carpet, painted the floor and bought a new rug. I also added another Ikea cube shelf to further organize the toys. My next job is to work on hanging pictures in the entire basement. I'm going hang the children's art in the playroom.

The upstairs living room and school room are always a work in progress, but I'm pleased with how life in running in those rooms at the moment -

living room - yes, toys seem to end up everywhere
school room
 I still have painting to do; there's always painting. There will be lots more painting when we move the three bedrooms again once the garage is built.

 And now we are nearing ground breaking on our next building project - our garage and Alei's apartment. She has been buying things for her new home and lining her hallway with them; it's practically a fire hazard at this point.