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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Julia Continued

When I re-read my yesterday Julia post, I just wanted to re-emphasize that I can't imagine my life without Julia and I would adopt her again in a heart-beat. I think adopted kids can really suffer from any behavior issues being labeled as "adoption-related" or "attachment-related." Quite frankly, I have seen issues in my biological children that I would quickly classify as adoption-related IF they were adopted. It is often an impossible task to correctly classify the root behavior challenges in children. I am beginning the paperwork to see a counselor that can perhaps refer us to someone for testing. I am still not completely convinced that her behavior is due to her beginning life, but hopefully we can receive some help either way.

I whole-heatedly agree with my commenting friend, Shi, that most people, even those from ideal family settings, could benefit from some counseling at some point, adopted or not.

I'll keep you posted.

On a fun note, I found the perfect t-shirt for Julia's birthday. It says, "we can't all be princesses, some people have to sit on the side-lines and wave at me." That really sums her up!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Before 8:00

Before 8:00, Elijah managed to get his diaper changed, find his keys and scale several objects in the house. Here, he was contemplating what to do with the light-bulb in the lamp.

Here, he turned around and smiled when he saw the camera; before that, he was making a few alterations to the settings on the printer.

Thankfully, he really doesn't scale the computer desk too often, the kitchen table is his regular domain. Here he is after putting on his boots to head out and do chores with the boys. As long as he has his boots, he isn't concerned about clothes.

On an even more exhausting note, I would love ANY input from adoptive Moms about my sweet Julia. Julia is the little girl they wrote about in the poem that says, "when she is good, she is very, very good - but when she's bad, she's horrid." (Something like that, anyway) Julia is a complete, loving sweet-heart, but she is so, so demanding! She whines and demands to be held several hours a day. I have thought for the last few years that she would out-grow it, but now I'm concerned that there is something actually wrong. When we hold her, it's not enough - she demands that certain people not sit by her, she hangs on our necks, she digs in our hair, etc. The attention she receives seldom seems to be enough and her demands are often so unreasonable that she isn't satisfied.

While I've tried "meeting" these demands, I've also tried not. When I insist that she sit by me during school (instead of on me, in my hair) she will scream. I have sat her on her bed before and she can scream for over an hour no problem. I've given up on naps, because they were commonly a two hour scream-a-thon that didn't result in any sleep at all. I can not just sit her in time-out when she is going, because her volume is piercing and she kicks at the furniture, etc.

While I don't think she exhibits common attachment disorder signs, I do think there is some connection to her early days of switching from a family, to an orphanage, then to our home. On another note, she never performs these sessions for JD; all he has to do is tell her to stop crying and she immidiately stops - but not so for me or my teens! There are days that seem to be an endless cycle of demands and other days flow smoothly, with little hold-me demands.

Any wisdom? Any ideas of where I should go to even know if there is something that I need to treat? Thanks!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Back on Track

Now that we are done working at the rental house, I am hoping that I can get life back on track at our house. We spent Friday finishing up details at the house and helping our friends that are moving in pack up their kitchen. As a HUGE blessing for us, we have other people that we know, and trust, lined up to move in once our friends move out in July. It will be so nice to have all this rental-turmoil behind us!

Here's my snap-shot of the last few days. Here's our barn kitties enjoying left-over carpet padding that was awaiting a trip to the garbage can.

Here's a perfect example of farm princess Julia. She has her ballerina outfit with mud boots, holding flowers while hanging out on a tractor attachment. The best of both worlds.

Elijah turned 20 months yesterday; time flies.

We need to take a walk everyday. Here we are heading to our walking road.

It's a blessing to have this area to walk, where seldom a car ever comes to meet my children and dogs all over the road.

I hope to be blogging more this week. I have a lot swirling in my head that hasn't had time to develop.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

School Computers

You may wonder how I have time to blog. Well, it's because I don't actually teach my children, our electronic devices do. I'm really just kidding, (but some days I wish they could completely take over and I could have a break.) I just happened to pull out my camera this morning to take a picture of Elijah and this is what I saw around me-

Tori and Julia each playing on a school computer -

Ben doing his new Math-U-See. See the guy on the DVD player? Well, he's a math teacher that doesn't get stressed, even when he has to repeat the same thing six times in a row. He is working out really well for Ben (and me.)

Remarkably, Alyssa is doing math the old-fashioned way, with a textbook and a notebook.

However, Elijah is playing "pink puter" as Julia calls it.

Alyssa was assigned the task of watching "Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang" by her music teacher. So, JD dusted the old VHS off and watched it with the kids. Since it is long, they only got 1/2 way through it on the first night. The next morning, Julia asked me if Daddy was going to finish "Shake-a Shake-a Boom Boom" with them that night.

Shake-a Shake-a Boom Boom put Elijah to sleep, notice he's still gripping the keys he carries all day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Gipper

"For many years now, you and I have been shushed like children and told there are no simple answers to the complex problems which are beyond our comprehension. Well, the truth is, there are simple answers, they just are not easy ones. The time has come for us to decide whether collectively we can afford everything and anything we think of simply because we think of it. The time has come to run a check to see if all the services government provides were in answer to demands or were just goodies dreamed up for our supposed betterment. The time has come to match outgo to income, instead of always doing it the other way around." - Ronald Reagan

Sunday, March 21, 2010

One Week

Well, it's been a whole week since we were blessed with the departure of our free-loading renters - therefore, it's been one full week of cleaning, and painting, and cleaning, and new carpet and CLEANING. We pretty much wrapped it up this afternoon; I just have to touch-up paint and JD needs to fix a basement water leak. After cleaning for a week, Alei told me that she appreciates our cleanliness level. (Trust me that her statement isn't due to my impeccable house-keeping, just the fact that we do house-keeping!) Here's Alei and her friend, Amanda; why only take nine children to clean a house when you can have 11?

Little Elijah fell asleep on the way over and took a long nap on the new carpet. He must like firmness, because he slept way longer than he usually does in his own bed.

Speaking of new carpet; it looks great with the newly painted room. Since I needed to use a flash for this picture, you'll just have to trust me that the camel color is a billion times better than the neon pink that was in this room! For the record, it took four coats to cover the pink - two of primer and two of the paint. I've never painted anything so difficult before. Due to this little incident, we will be adding a clause to our contract about having paint colors approved; of course, these renters didn't follow anything in the contract, so it probably wouldn't have prevented this disaster.

Here's my hard-working husband repairing screens, another casualty of the "illegal" dogs. So, this is where we lived before our big move to farm-life. Although I have fondness for this house and I'm still friends with several of the neighbors, I get kind of claustrophobic there with my kids running amok up and down the drive-way. See all the houses lining the streets? I'm really cut out for farm life, where kids can feed chickens in their pajamas on Sundays so they don't mess up their church clothes!

A departure shot - another pick-up load of stuff. Check out the farm plates - that's the life for me!

Our friends move in next weekend for a few months, then we are praying for good renters!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Spring is here -
Spring is here -

It's my favorite time of the year -

We are loving our wonderful weather and I love it when the kids can run and play for hours outside!

Happy spring.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Laundry and Such

Ever have a laundry day where your choices of clean attire are jeans with a small hole in the thigh or jeans with a huge hole in the knee?

I'm not sure what's happened, but it seems my laundry has recently doubled. I do load after load every day and the hampers never empty.

Here's Tori basking in the sun, with a few pieces of clean laundry.

I'm off to paint; school has definitely suffered this week.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Elijah has spent the last week carrying JD's keys around. Not just any key ring, but he's only interested in the few that house a blue tractor key! He wakes up asking for them in the morning and we generally pry them out of his little hand once he is asleep at night. I'm quite sure he holds them all day in hopes of getting a tractor ride once JD comes home from work.

Here he is this morning with his entire face in the wheat bucket; you can see a glimpse of the key in his hand.

What is amazing is that he hasn't put them down anywhere, not even when he's playing outside - until this morning! This morning we had to do a thorough yard search for Daddy's key ring. I sent Ben and James out twice to look and nothing turned up. So, I pulled out the "big guns;" a $2 reward for the first one who found them; then I started looking myself. In no time flat, Ben recalled that he had taken Elijah into the barn and sure enough, there the keys were found. Now Ben is $2 richer (and Tori and Julia are a quarter richer since Julia started crying that she didn't find them.)

I hid the keys and distracted Elijah with pop-pop, it's about the only food that he'll stop for.

We are still busy, busy at the rental house. I'm preparing to paint the ugliest pink room you've ever seen and carpet installers are beginning to work tomorrow. The carpets smell like dogs since they had two huge blood-fang dogs that they were never allowed to have. (For the record, we do allow pets, but they are supposed to be approved and they are supposed to pay a pet deposit for carpet cleaning.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Weekend "Fun" at the Rental

We spent the weekend at our rental house, clearing and cleaning. I'm not sure what to think when people leave their garbage under the deck and in the edge of the woods. We did clean lots and lots of yuckyness, but thankfully they didn't damage the house, which was a legitimate concern! The kids were helpful and Elijah had a blast. Here he is playing peek-a-boo with the camera.

The girls ran and played while the bigger kids helped work.

Here's the little crew on Sub lunch break. Everyone, except Tori, loves subs, so Tori had a nasty hot-dog.

Other than the cleaning, my only accomplishment for the weekend was doing Julia's hair. Here she is asleep at the counter, poor girl.

We still have a few more hours of cleaning, then a hideous pink room to paint, then carpets to clean; then we have friends moving in for a few months while they build a house. It will be a refreshing change to have someone actually pay rent!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Think Happy Thoughts

My last two blogs certainly can not be tagged "cheery" or "happy." Unfortunately, they were/are the reality of the writing moment. I am not even going to launch into a dog-blog, because then I'd have three downers in a row. Instead, I'm choosing to focus on happy thoughts.

Here's a few from my last few days.

Doing "school" with Julia, Elijah and a large inflatable duck -

The big "cheeses" that Julia and Elijah produce at the sight of a camera -

The excitement of the little kids at getting to go on Daddy's dump-run. It's kind of ridiculous to install three car-seats for them to make the three mile trip, but it's worth the excitement they show. (Yes, Tori had just had her hair taken out; I just hoped that they wouldn't run into anyone we know since I was too unmotivated to get her a hat. Elijah is also toting Julia's tooth-brush along for the ride.)

Lastly, my little man with his trucks. He has a security tractor now that he takes everywhere with him, fortunately, it's a bit smaller than this truck.

Have a happy weekend. I'm going to finish up some things at home tomorrow as I'm sure we are going to be putting some long hours in at our rental house starting on Sunday. I'm assuming that evicted people don't clean too well.

Landlord Woes

My daughter, Alei, said to me a few months ago, "you know how in the movies, the mean land-lords throw the poor people out of the houses; it's sure not like that here." It's so true. Our night-mare renters moved in last June. It was the only time they have paid their rent in full and on time. Since then, in spite of two incomes, they have purchased vehicles, financed an elaborate Christmas and repeatedly eaten out - but they don't pay rent! We formally evicted him in court several months ago, but allowed them to stay on the agreement that they pay a certain amount every other Friday. Not once have they followed through. We continued to allow them to stay based on the promise that they would sell a vehicle that was given to them by family to use for back rent and that they would give us their income tax. They have ignored the deadline for both of those for two full weeks.

They refuse to answer the phone if we call; they generally ignore text messages as well. They told JD off in a text a few days ago because his text arrived while they were out to dinner! In the "tell off" he also stated that he wasn't "ready" to give us the car or tax money. So, we had no choice but to file the 72 hour notice to vacate the premise. Amazingly, they are now calling and texting asking for more time. It's crazy, wouldn't you think that if you choose to not pay your rent and break all your promises and had already been formally evicted, you would at least start packing?

I could go on and on about the lies, etc, but this is the nuts and bolts. I am FLOORED that there are 40 year old men roaming the earth with such lack of character. It motivates me all the more to instill honesty and integrity into my children!

So, now we have a house to clean; I've been kind of wishing that we sold it a few years ago when the market was good!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

One of Those Days

Ever have one of those days that if your life was your job, you'd resign? Yesterday I certainly would have just to preserve my health and sanity. It started as an ordinary day, but a few children decided to really try my love and patience throughout the day. JD had a day trip out of town, so I made two trips to the court house in reference to our still-not-paying-and-very-dishonest renter. The clerk of the court was none to helpful, resulting in me potentially missing a dead-line and just standing there wanting to cry.

To top off the rough day and my pounding head-ache, our dog bit a neighbor's puppy. Reagan is a devoted dog and great watch-dog, but she took it too far trying to protect our skate-boarding kids from the puppy. Apparently, she has done this once before (although they never told us) so we really have to do something with her. Since her entire life has been these 25 acres, there's not a simple solution of invisible fencing or something. She has proven herself an escape artist when we were forced to "confine" her due to her interaction with a rabid skunk. I need to post the skunk story sometime, it makes me smile just thinking about it.

Today I'm praying for wisdom with the renter, the dog and an over-all better day!

Here's an unrelated picture of Gabriel giving Elijah a ride around the yard. I'm hauling Elijah into the doctor to get his ears checked; I'm suspecting that his previous ear-infection didn't clear up as we didn't sleep much last night and he's quite whiny.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Storage, Birthday and Spring

Since I got so much response to my storage room post (just kidding, only my friend Wendy commented about her love language of diamonds), I thought I'd add on to the post. Last night we moved the video cabinets in the storage room. Why? Because I can't take the DVDs all over the floor even though small children are not supposed to be in them!

You wonder how moving the cabinets is going to keep the little guys out? Well, because my storage room now has a door - with a lock! It started with the idea of being able to store presents without concern, but it's turned into so much more. Now the DVDs are always picked up, the soda snipers can't attack AND the presents are snoop proof!

I guess this post could also be part of the faking it post series since I'm admitting that I'm housing present- snooping, soda-thieves!

If you are bored anytime in the near future, feel free to come and help insulate the basement. These are the piles that are holding up my shelves, part two; these insulation piles are 10 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide!

On a happier note, yesterday was Benjamin's 9th birthday. I had a scheduled luncheon with my sister and another friend that had been delayed several times, so I took Ben, James and Elijah with me and we met at Chick-Fil A. The boys had a great time eating BIG meals and playing on the play-ground. My nine year old boys play in there just as excited as the toddlers. We ran some errands and I tried to make it all Ben focused and fun. Each stop held a little surprise, even Cheez -Its and gum made the errand running seem fun to them.

We then came home for Ben's requested lasagna and ice-cream cake. Oh, and presents - glorious presents. Just look at the smile on his face when he opened his new heelies. He has worn his other pair almost daily since Christmas 2007!

He's quite a handsome boy if I do say so myself.

Look at the chaos that erupted as soon as present opening was complete.

I have to add to this already long post that I'm so thrilled that it's starting to feel like spring. I love, love the fact that day-light savings time is on the way and that the kids can play outside more.

Have a blessed day.

Monday, March 8, 2010

True Love

If you've never read the book, The Five Love Languages, I'd highly recommend it. It has the ability to transform marriages by teaching you how your spouse views love. I've always been a very practical person; if I need a toaster and it's my birthday, by all means get me a toaster. So, nothing says love to me quite like fixing one of the things that drive my crazy. Nothing has driven me crazier this last year than the storage room. We built a nice big storage room, but there has been no organization and things have been piled in the boxes they moved in. To make it 20 times worse, the kids routinely dig through the boxes and leave piles all over the floor. When I was complaining about it last week, JD made it the weekend project. We unloaded the room -

Then JD had to finish drilling the holes for the Geo-thermal that needs to be run in that area.

While I took Alei to David's Bridal to be fitted for a bridesmaid dress, JD kept the kids and built the shelves that we bought back at Christmas on clearance.

Yesterday, we re-organized and re-loaded the shelves. After never having good storage, this is a beautiful picture to me!

When we use up the insulation piles on the other side of the room, I get more shelves! Oh, happy day!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tori's Color Lessons

In our unit studies on geography, we have moved on to Africa. I pulled out a book on Liberia that I had bought a few years ago and never read. It is a children's story called, Will You Carry Me? Ben is familiar with the African way of carrying items balanced on people's heads, but this was news to Tori. She impressed us with her ability of carrying a book balanced on her head.

Then she moved on to two -

Three didn't work as well, but Alyssa joined her in the attempt at this point. Tori looked at Alyssa and exclaimed, "Alyssa, I didn't know peach people could do this too!"

Color Lesson #2:
I picked Tori up from her class at church on Wednesday night. When I asked her what she learned, she told me she learned about the Red Sea. She said the most interesting thing is that the Red Sea isn't red, it's blue; red is just it's name.