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.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's Poppy Dip

I was recently introduced to a wonderful website of a lady named Sallee who makes little girl dresses as a fund raiser for her third adoption to Ethiopia. The dresses are adorable and you get to pick your fabric, then choose the dress style. Here's the coordinating ones I ordered for Tori and Julia. I initially was going to save them as their Easter dresses, but I don't think we can wait, so I'm going to buy them some leggings to wear under them for the winter. (Then I can order again for Easter!)

Julia still likes to wear a dress most days and she would be thrilled with an entire ward-robe of Poppy Dips!

Julia also performed some basic comfort and durability tests on her new dress and it passed with flying colors!

So, check with http://itspoppydip.blogspot.com/ when you want an adorable dress for your little girl and help fund an adoption at the same time.

(The little Poppy Dip model is Sallee's daughter from Ethiopia. She's cute enough to convince you to adopt a little Ethiopian just to wear the dresses!)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Parenting Both Ends of the Spectrum

This stage of parenting is sometimes a bit overwhelming. It's the first time, in 18 years of parenting, that we are parents of a young "adult" at the same time as a baby and about every stage in between. Gabriel is turning 18 in just a few short days and he just bought his first car! We are proud of his final selection because it is not a sports car, but a conservative, won't-raise-your-insurance-rates sedan. Although the car is 10 years old, it has only had one owner and only has 31,000 miles on it. Here's a shot of James helping Gabriel wash it yesterday.

Gabriel spent most of yesterday cleaning it to perfection. He even had JD give him a waxing lesson and then put his new found talent to work. Funny how he had no interest in waxing the Explorer that he's been driving the last year!

At the other end of the parenting spectrum is Elijah. He loves his family, but isn't big on strangers; especially old, bearded strangers in red suits! I didn't expect him to care for Santa, but his scream could be heard down the mall! Santa is obviously accustomed to crying babies as he just smiled.

I scooped him right back up after JD snapped the picture and he immediately stopped crying but kept his eye on that bearded man! He certainly didn't trust turning his back on him.

While we do not "do" Santa Clause in the manner that we allow our children to believe that he delivers presents, we do enjoy a trip to see him each year. I believe it's about the same as seeing the dressed up characters at the theme park to my children.

I won't take the space to display every one's Santa picture, although we did take them. I'll just show this shot that I took after being in Bath and Body Works a bit too long with my older girls.
The happiness on their faces is that we get to leave the mall! You would think that JD's smile would be the biggest of them all!

We were planning on eating pizza at the mall, but it was such a beautiful day that we picked up pizza and took it to a park instead. It was a nice treat for everyone.

Alyssa -

Alei and Elijah- Our baby boy just turned 16 mos. a few days ago.
It's hard to believe now, but one day he'll buy his own car just like his brother!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Post Thanksgiving

We had a fun Thanksgiving Day. We extended our new Amish table with two leaves to fit everyone around. Julia announced "Happy Misgiving" to everyone several times and Ben said that we should have this for dinner every night!

At clean up time, Elijah jumped in to help. After not eating at the meal, he decided to try the mashed potato serving spoon and found it to his liking.

He then thought it may taste even better if he dipped his slipper in it.

On top of good food, we are all thankful for the love of family.

My clan went Black Friday shopping at 3:00; then we are heading for breakfast at Aunt Deb's house. She may be regretting hosting a Black Friday breakfast about now since she got up at 2:00 a.m. to stand in line at Best Buy for a new lap-top!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


We, as most families, are busy getting ready for Thanksgiving. We are having dinner here with some family and friends. JD hurt his back and hasn't even been able to go to work all week, so the kids are stepping up and helping with the cooking this year.

The only way that I don't have Julia and Elijah's help is if I let them watch TV. Elijah is quite fond of Baby Einstein. In fact, he climbs in the rocking chair and points at the TV several times a day. I usually whisk him away and distract him, but sometimes I put on the only old VHS we have of Baby Einstein. It is baby animals, which he is thrilled with. He doesn't ever want to watch it alone, he likes a big kid to sit and discuss each animal's sound with him. Here's Alyssa, with baby Keyla, that kindly volunteered for the job yesterday. Keyla was pretty impressed with Baby Einstein as well.

On top of Thanksgiving cooking and cleaning, it was hair week again. I re-did only 1/2 of Julia's and Dena did all of Tori's. Here's little Tori yesterday heading to the grocery store with me; she has always loved hats and looks pretty cute in them.

I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Busy Making Books

I am always feeling bad that my oldest four children have scrapbooks filled with pictures of them and my younger crowd doesn't have a single one. In fact, I haven't done one scrapbook page since I brought Ben and Julia home. Since Snapfish sent out a 50% off photo books coupon, I got the crazy idea of whipping up the kids a book of themselves for Christmas. Needless to say, these things always take more time than I hope, but I've worked the last few days and ordered one for Tori and one for Julia. Here's the cover of Tori's; it covers her from arriving in America, fall of 2006, until Christmas 2007. This picture was taken September 2007.

Julia's didn't cover as much time, as I got my good camera about this time and there were more pictures that I couldn't resist using. Her book covers her arrival in America, summer of 2007, through the same Christmas 2007. Here's the cover picture of Julia also taken September 2007.

I think the girls will be thrilled to have their own books, now I only have to hope that they run another special before Christmas that can motivate me to whip up a book for Ben and James!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Flashback Friday - Benjamin

This Flashback Friday post is the story about the day that we met Benjamin in Liberia.

When we traveled to Liberia in August of 2006, we didn't know any details about Victoria's biological family. When we were taken to meet her mother, she brought along 5 year old Ben and we were told about their two older sisters. I remember how badly I felt that I didn't have anything with me to give to him; we dug around in the diaper bag and only came up with a few packs of smarties. He sat quietly for the entire meeting, stared at us and ate those smarties. When he left with his family, we asked the social worker more questions. He revealed that Ben was already cleared for adoption, but not admitted to the orphanage due to lack of room. I remember standing in the hot sun and trying not to cry. Once we came back to America, we prayed about Ben's adoption for over two months before beginning the process all over again. It was JD in the end who really pushed for the adoption, which was the opposite of our first two adoptions. I rested in the fact that he really felt it was the Lord's will, although I found adopting a six year old out of the Bush of Africa a bit scary. We returned for Ben in June of 2007, along with Julia, but that's another story for another day.

Here I am with Ben and Tori at our surprise first meeting. I had no idea he would end up being my son!

One time Ben told me that before us he had only seen white people once on the beach. I asked him, "did you ever think you would end up living in America with white people?" He laughed and said, "no, I never thought that!" Life is full of surprises!

It's the Best of Times, It's the Worst of Laundry Times

If you are wondering where I've been, I'm buried in house-hold chores. After my main washer and dryer were out of commission for almost a week, JD hooked up our new boxed pair in the future laundry room. The room isn't ready for a permenant placement, so they'll have to be unhooked and moved again, but it enabled us to get back to laundry. I can't wait for the day that I have both pairs running smoothly!

Due to the forced laundry break, we were buried pretty high in dirty clothes. This is about 1/3 of the mountain that is now washed and awaiting folding. As you can see, I've never been one of those fold-as-it-comes-out people; I'm a mound and fold all at once kind of Mom. The washer part box and all the laundry doubled as fun for Julia and Elijah; here's Julia playing "I'm gonna get you" with Elijah.

In between laundry mountains, I've been on a few rounds of grocery shopping. I like to stock up on turkeys at the Thanksgiving sale time. I'm up to six turkeys and two hams in the freezer. That should get me through until next Thanksgiving's sales.

Lastly, I've painted the sun-room again. When it was Tori and Julia's princess room, it had to be pink. Now I painted it a camel color. I'm actually quite unhappy with the color now that it's done; I think it's kind of peachy-camel. It's going to end up being Elijah's room whenever he moves out of our room, so I didn't want it girly. For now, it's just going to be the sun-room and a guest room when needed.

(Like a good preacher, I have another comment after my lastly one...) In between my work, we've had our normal fun moments - like tea-party with real tea. I need to find Julia a plastic tea set as she broke at least 1/2 of Tori's this week.

Never a dull moment - never!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Water 4 Christmas

I missed blogging for water on November 13th, which was first gift day, but it's not too late. Consider taking $20 out of your Christmas fund and provide an African in poverty water for 20 years. Did you know that more Africans die from dirty water than war? Considering the volume of civil wars across Africa, that's horribly remarkable.

Check out water4christmas.com and know that every $20 gives another person clean water and every $20 goes completely to water.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Smothered With Love

Aunt Deb came over for the day. Since she moved out, she is quite the novelty when she comes to visit and is smothered with love. Here she is, sewing a repair with all kinds of help. She even had children taking turns pressing the sewing machine pedal for her. I repetitively heard, "slow down, press gently."
Julia is the real leech, she will hardly even get off her lap to sit next to her. At least Aunt Deb knows she's loved!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Adoption and Risk

Do you know how many times, before I adopted, people said to me things along the line of, "you don't know what you are going to get?" No, I didn't know what child I was going to end of with, but God did and He chose accordingly. This statement is really annoying along two lines. One is that people are assuming that other family's DNA is more flawed than their own. I don't know about you, but we have plenty of "issues" in our combined DNA that the statement, "you just don't know" certainly applies to a biological child as well. The second reason that I don't appreciate that comment is the simple fact that a child is worth a risk. To not provide an orphan with a chance because they are viewed as a risk goes against the very love and compassion that we are called to as Christians. Thankfully, people don't say that to me anymore after four adoptions. At some point, people consider you too far gone for their "helpful" advice and that's OK with me.

Here's a saying on risk that really hit me. I really like the line, "the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing." I don't think it's possible for most people, if anyone, to live the life they are called to without risk.

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.
Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Boy

Looking at Elijah, I've thought over and over that if every baby in the world was loved as much as my little guy, the world would be a better place. It breaks my heart that there are babies with no mommies, that there are babies who go to bed hungry, that there are moms that try to nurse their babies but don't make enough milk due to malnutrition. I wish every baby was loved as much as my baby boy; and no baby grew up to suffer from attachment problems later on.

It's been remarkable to watch Elijah at every stage of his little life. He is pushing 16 months and has really started to play. Today I had the boys bring up the animal tub that's been tucked away in their room. Elijah loves animals and it held his interest for quite some time.

He was really thrilled with the bears. After having the bears growl and bite, he bit one of them back.

He's also figured out that the camera is connected with saying cheese and smiling. Here he realized I had the camera.

The good thing about being child #9, is that there is usually someone to play with you. Today was no exception.

I think we can do one more. One more here means one less hungry, cold and lonely orphan somewhere in the world!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Some Days

Some days, little needs to be said when you have a camera. Here's a small sample -

Yes, that is my washing machine. It's only five years old, so we put money into parts. The bad news is that we are now up to $500 in parts, but the first parts couldn't be returned to call it quits and buy a new one. My washing machine does receive probably four times the use of a normal family considering our size and our setting.

This is Tori resting on the laundry pile that is awaiting our attention. The good news is that it's clean, done right before the washing machine died.

This is Julia after a piece of gum. Add gum to the growing list of things that Julia shouldn't have unsupervised!

Here's a positive note to end on. Elijah loves shoes; so much so that he often wears a pair on his feet and his hands. Any one's shoes are game for his hands, so today his top choice was a big pair of cow slippers.

The slippers doubled as a toy; he made them crawl around and say, "moo."

Thankfully, tomorrow's Friday!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Soccer and Issues with Questions

We are thankfully nearing the end of the soccer season. I'm quite thrilled to be done with the time commitment for now! Here's James and Ben playing before Ben's game -

So, part of the reason I decided to not send my difficult learners to school for a year was that I didn't want Ben to hear the other kids make comments about him being Liberian or having an accent or any other ugly thing that some kid would say some day. I just didn't think he was strong enough or established enough to deal with it yet. Well, we got it at soccer again the other day. We've played this other team twice now. The first time, Ben complained about a particular boy on the other team saying rude things to him. I played it down and hoped we wouldn't have to deal with him again. So Saturday, Gabriel took him to his soccer game and they were playing "mean boy's" team again. This time, after picking on Ben, the boy told him, "I don't like you because you are black." Well, this has brought the Momma bear out in me and I immediately wanted to speak to the boy's parents. I've waited a few days to calm down and now I think I'm going to call the other team coach and ask for the contact number for little #5! What do you guys think? Should I assume the parents are better than this and give them a chance to straighten out their son's thinking? I really feel like I at least owe that to Ben. The good news is that Gabriel took a ton of pictures during the game, so we have no doubt which number the bully is! (I'm not picturing him, however, that could be a scandal in our small county!)

Like most Liberian boys, Ben is a natural runner and soccer player. We only need to work on his agression; he doesn't like to take the ball if someone on the other team has it. It's a nice character trait, except in sports.

Any suggestions before I make the call?

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Cow Pasture and Chirpy

It finally dried out enough this weekend to till the future cow pasture. It's a lot of work to prepare the soil and grow grass, then we have to fence the 2 plus acres!

Looking the other direction -

Yesterday it was warm and beautiful, so I had the little guys outside taking turns on the 4-wheeler. Julia and Elijah don't really grasp the turn taking thing, so if it's not their turn, there's crying until the 4-wheeler is out of sight. While I didn't get any pictures of the rides, I did get a few afterwards. Elijah was loving on Lincoln, our dalmatian mutt, until he didn't know what to think. He is the nicest dog, but a bit insecure. The poor dog was obviously mistreated in his former home because he is scared of so many things. I acquired him a few years ago when he was dumped on our street.

While JD had Elijah on the 4-wheeler, Julia and I were walking around taking a few pictures. We saw that Chirpy, our resident rooster, was out of the fence and Julia was a little nervous. I assured her that she was fine since she was with me (and I honestly don't think Chirpy had been mean in months.) No sooner were the words out of my mouth, than Chirpy puffed up his neck, charged at Julia and attacked the back of her leg. I promptly kicked him off of her. When JD returned, he scooped him up, "spanked" him and tossed him back over the fence.
Poor little Julia cried and cried, more out of offense than pain. JD told her that if she wanted, we could eat Chirpy for dinner. This is kind of a joke, because we've never eaten any animal on our farm. Anyway, Julia cheered up immediately and was thrilled with the idea of eating Chirpy.

30 minutes later we were heading in for the night when Julia told me that she was hungry. I asked her what she would like for a snack. She very seriously replied, "Chirpy, remember Mom? Dad said I could eat Chirpy!" That idea doesn't bother this little Liberian in the least!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Beads, The Basment and Orphan Sunday

Thankfully, last week's hair event was a success and I don't have to do any hair this week! I cornrowed the front of Julia's for the first time and it isn't too bad. It's not like I'm ready to open a braiding salon in my free time, but I'm learning. I also put beads in Tori's hair after Ms. Dena worked her magic. Here's my beaded princesses.

Tori and Julia had two birthday parties on Saturday. The first one was a fancy tea-party. Thankfully, I got a deal on this year's Christmas dresses, so we broke them out. Here's Tori -

and Julia - The girls did well with the tea and china.

JD is back to Geo-thermal work in the basement. He finished the down-stairs last year, but has about three rooms left to install for the upstairs. In the meantime, we have regular forced air heating, it just costs a lot more to run than the Geothermal. Here's the beginning of the end. The grey tracks have to be drilled in, then the red hoses snap into the grooves, then the foil, insulation and ceiling can be installed. It's going to be a long project I'm afraid.
The good news is that Elijah is pretty capable on the stairs these days, so he makes his way down to "help." Here he is selecting a tool to help his Dad.

His glue choice was actually one of the safer options. The unfinished side of the basement isn't exactly child friendly.

Far more important than beads and basements is that today is official Orphan Sunday.