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, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

I may be wrong, but it seems that JD usually flies across country on Memorial Day, so it's just the kids and I. Gabriel convinced me to be brave and drag the seven youngest to the pool, since he was working there all day and there was going to be a moon-bounce. I decided that the pool sounded like more fun than what I had planned, which was cleaning out the freezers, so off we went.

I wish I had a video of Elijah in the moon-bounce; he loved it! We're going to have to settle for pictures of him on his new hand-me-down horse instead; he loves it too.

His hair has a fair amount of baby sun-screen in it in these pictures.

Ms. Dena re-did Tori's hair today also; I'll get some pictures of her after we add beads tomorrow.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pictures with Geema

I haven't had my camera out much this week, so I made sure that I intentionally took a picture of my Mom and her nine grand-kids on the eve of her departure. She is heading home tomorrow, while JD is heading out for a weeks business trip.

Then we moved that crew over to the 4-wheeler where Aunt Deb and her friend, Luke, were hanging out.

Want to see some behind the scene chaos? There's always plenty of that at group picture time.

It was a nice week with Geema. I just feel bad that she was here for the Reagan crises; she's a huge animal lover, so it was hard on her also.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Stress and a Good-bye

The day at the Attachment Center was incredibly draining to both JD and I. I'm not sure why, as we only sat around, played with her, and racked our brains to answer hundreds of questions (while being video-taped,) but it was much more exhausting than working in the yard all day. While I am super-optimistic in treating her while she is so young, the stress of parenting her (and my other super-high-demand child) is really draining me right now. Some nights I go to bed and think that I'm not sure how I'll get up and repeat the cycle again the next day. JD is traveling all next week and the word dread doesn't do justice to my anticipation of parenting alone all week.

We decided to not put the children in swim-team this summer; coupled with the fact that soccer just ended, I feel like I need to (and can) really focus on our "special needs" and improve them before we begin another school year.

Unfortunately, we were forced to make a hard, hard decision yesterday as well. We had to put our beloved dog, Reagan, to sleep. Reagan was a super, super protector of the children and our only real watch-dog. She once fought off two roaming pit-bulls when they attacked our baby goat. She daily guarded the chickens against the many foxes that wait for a free lunch opportunity. Most importantly, she hasn't left the children's sides the many hours that they have played outside. The problem is that in her quest to protect, she has gone to our neighbors that breed labs and attacked their dogs anytime our children have gone anywhere near their house. In her warped way, she sees their dogs as a threat to her kids. Because of this, we have spent months from even walking to our mail-box; but the reality is that we feel we are one slip-up from a law-suit because of her. While that was hard enough, Reagan has always suffered extreme fear of thunder-storms. She literally ate the door-ways, etc, of our old home during bad storms. Unfortunately, that took a turn for the worse during the storm the other night and she ate through the dryer vent and siding of the house. Knowing her pattern, once she started on this house, she would have done thousands of dollars damage in just one season of thunder storms. When we have tried letting her in during the storms, it presented a whole other range of issues. So, in light of procrastinating on the unavoidable, JD and Gabriel took her to the vet yesterday to be put to sleep. We then buried her next to our other long loved dog, Roosevelt.

I have no interest in replacing her at this point, but Lincoln does not measure up in the watch-dog department. He is very timid as we assume he was abused being he was dumped on our road. So, we will have to see how it goes without a true watch-dog.

Good-bye girl, you will be missed!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Attachment Center

So, today was our big day with Julia at the attachment center in Charlottesville, VA. JD and I left at 6:30 a.m. since we had to be there by 8:30. My sister got on the road with Julia and Elijah around 8:00 for Julia's appointment at 10:00. My sister then took Elijah to the Children's Museum for the two hours that we had to be with Julia. At noon we all broke for a one hour lunch, then my sister headed home with both little kids while JD and I had to stay for the afternoon as well. By the time we arrived home, it was a full 12 hour day and I only saw Elijah for a quick lunch. Thankfully, he did really well for my sister most of the day.

The surprising conclusion is that both doctors concluded that Julia does NOT have an attachment disorder; while this is good news, it doesn't mean she is in the clear. As Alei put it so well - "well, she has something!" So true, and the psychologists saw the something as well! So, they are going to be analyzing the videos, our paperwork, their notes and give us a recommendation. They already referred me to a few "attachment" psychologists, so they still think she will benefit from their care.

So, all in all, it's kind of a mystery to me, but it's a step in the right direction. Although I know there is still an obstacle in our path, it was a bit of relief to hear them rule out a true attachment disorder.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Strawberry Picking

I finished planting my raised bed garden last night. I was really running out of room for the plants I bought and will enjoy having two more beds built next year. I finished up by planting squash and zucchini in the back flower bed that I used for tomatoes last year. This gardening thing is really fun; I just hope they grow like I hope!

I am also pretty excited about our future cow pasture. Our spring grass is coming in; it's not thick yet, but it's green!

Yesterday, my husband and son made the airport run to pick up my Mom while I met some church friends at the local berry farm. One friend has twins, so Moriah pretty much had a baby in her arms the whole time.

Elijah was impressed with the goats, it's sad that he doesn't remember our goats. I am looking forward to being able to have them again.

Elijah is my first kid who doesn't love berries. In fact, he won't eat cantaloupe or watermelon either. I don't know what I'm going to do with him! Here I handed him a perfect strawberry.

I then convinced him to try it. He took a big bite out of the side.

He spit it out, dug at his tongue and kept yelling "luck, luck," which is Elijah for "yuck, yuck."

This is stranger than my THREE children who like chocolate-chip cookies with NO chocolate chips!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Yesterday's Baby Chicks

Here's Julia with one of the baby chicks we bought yesterday at the Amish fleemarket.

We bought four Bantam Silkies -

and four Polish chicks, which we lovingly call Afro chicks due to the feathers they grow on their heads.

I have also ordered 30 baby Guineas to raise and release as tick eaters. Since our chicken house is divided into two areas, we've closed one off into a brooder area for all the babies. It's a lot nicer than cleaning out the cage that I cleaned over and over last year.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday Progress

I love weekends that allow us to accomplish projects around the house. First thing this morning, we thoroughly cleaned out our chicken coop and added the wonderful contents to our second raised garden bed.

I have three hens sitting on eggs. At first, I was going to remove them and throw the eggs away, because I am sure they have been sitting on them longer than 21 days and are not going to hatch. Once I removed them, however, I felt bad and decided to give them a little more time, so I cleaned out the boxes and gave each hen nine eggs back. I don't know if they are adding to them, but now I can count every few days to see. If they are laying more on the pile, I'm not sure how to know which ones are old and need to be removed!

Here's our indoor cat, Lucy, who all of a sudden got brave and headed out with us today. Cats are strange animals!

After our chicken and garden progress, we headed to the Amish market today. We bought the plants I needed for my garden bed, lots of produce and eight baby chicks - four silkies and four polish. Once I got home and got them settled, it was raining and I didn't take a picture of them, but I will tomorrow.
I did get a produce picture however! We had home-made, whole-grain blueberry waffles with
pineapple, cantaloupe and honey-dew. I had my heart set on watermelon but they were still $10 each; at that price, my heart can wait.
My little ones dug in and yes, Elijah occasionally still sits on the table.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tori's Tooth

After Tori's tooth has dangled for weeks, I finally pulled it this morning at breakfast. While I'm incredibly squeamish regarding medical injuries, pulling teeth doesn't phase me. It would be interesting to know how many teeth I've pulled since Tori is teeth-loser #7.
This is Tori's first lost tooth, although #2 is only about a week behind. We are always looking for clues to her actual age since she was born in the bush of Africa where they don't concern themselves with birth-certificates, birth-dates or calenders. According to the adoption agency, Tori would not be five until next month. Since that was obviously off, we did a bone-scan and moved her birthday up six months, which was still quite conservative; she may actually be six months older than that.

Having adopted kids older than babies, I'm thankful for all the firsts we do get to experience. While we never saw Tori's first smile or first steps, we can celebrate her first big tooth.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pretty Much Back to Real Life

I almost need a vacation from being on vacation. It's been a lot of work to return to normal; laundry, unpacking, de-sanding little girl braids, etc. My sweet friend donated lots of plants to me from her yard, so I spent Sunday afternoon and evening putting them all in. JD also started my second raised garden bed, which really needs to get planted soon!

Today is our first real, real day back to school. It was supposed to be yesterday, but I let Gabriel take the kids to McDonalds and bowling and they were gone so long that we only accomplished a half day.
Here's my snap-shots of the day. Moriah made frozen cookie-balls, with Elijah's help. He hardly eats real food, but sure is willing to put down the cookie dough and chocolate chips!
Here's Julia giving her doll a make-over. This is why I didn't buy her the Bitty twin dolls she wanted for her birthday last year.

Doesn't she look pretty with her entire face covered in lip-gloss?

On a sad note, please pray for these Samaritan's Purse workers that were kid-napped in the Sudan. Samaritan's Purse is the ministry started by Billy Graham's son, Franklin, that delivers the shoe-boxes to kids all over the world at Christmas. It's a ministry that I would love to work for overseas!

Samaritan’s Purse has been working in Darfur since 2004.
May 18, 2010

Three Staff Abducted in Sudan
Samaritan’s Purse president Franklin Graham asks for prayer for safety and a quick return -

Three Samaritan’s Purse employees were abducted in Sudan at approximately 5:30 p.m. local time May 18. The Samaritan’s Purse team, two Sudanese men and a 36-year-old American woman from California, was traveling in a two-vehicle convoy and stopped by a group of armed men 25 miles southwest of Nyala in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Samaritan’s Purse is working with U.S. and Sudanese government officials to secure the safe return of our staff.

“I have visited Darfur several times and it is one of the most difficult places in the world to work,” said Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse. "I’m asking for the prayers from people around the world for a quick resolution and the safe return of our Samaritan’s Purse staff."

Samaritan’s Purse has provided $83.7 million in relief assistance to Sudan since 2001, including medical relief, clean water projects, food distributions, agricultural projects and the rebuilding of hundreds of churches destroyed in the country’s civil war.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Carolinas Border

There is a really nice rest-stop at the Welcome Center of North Carolina, bordering South Carolina, that hosted some fun, tame wild-life. There were at least 20 turtles that came out of the water in hopes of being fed some bread.

There was also a pair of Canadian geese that had four fuzzy, darling babies. Although the Momma would hiss a bit, they all ate of the kid's hands.

I'd love to have a pond like this!

Once I walked over to Elijah, he kindly informed me that he wasn't drowning - good news!

We are home and I have tons to do. I am going to try to get back to school tomorrow; it's going to be hard since it really feels like summer now that we've been on vacation!

Friday, May 14, 2010

All Good Things Must Come to an End....

We hit two beaches today. The first had no waves, but had some interesting sea-life. Here's a live starfish that Ben found.

This was a dead jelly-fish; the interesting thing was that the little crab (see him?) was eating it. Gross, yet fascinating.

After lunch, we headed back to the "real" beach. We managed to stay quite a while and not let anyone get sun-burnt.

This whole week Elijah has said "beach, water, I drown." We always say, "you don't drown, you swim." So, now he says, "beach, water, not drown" while he shakes his head. He loved his first beach experience.

Elijah adores Alyssa. We often call her Lyssie and Elijah pronounces it Tyssie. Today he wanted Tyssie to hold his hands; she managed to in spite of sitting in the seat behind him.

We are heading to a Chinese buffet tonight, then packing to head back to our real lives.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More Beach and Some WWII

So, today was supposed to be our last day in Charleston and we didn't make it to the beach. JD took the boys to a Navy-something-or-other-museum all morning, then I took the girls to the mall while Elijah napped. We were planning on heading to the beach then, but it was totally unrealistic that we could do the beach and clean everyone up in time to make dinner at JD's sister's home, so we didn't go. We did head down-town for a few hours, but the kids were sad and I was actually sad as well. JD called the lady that we are renting the home from to see if we could stay one more night, but the house was rented for tomorrow. I lobbied to hit the beach in the morning, then make the eight hour drive home; JD declined because he knew he'd be tired after soaking up all that sun. So, it looked like we were heading out in the morning, when the nice lady called us back to tell us the other family cancelled due to sickness; so we are here for one more night and we are hitting the beach first thing in the morning. Here's a few shots of yesterday's beach adventure.

Gabriel buried himself -

Boogie-boarding Alyssa heading in -

Now Ben is as puzzled as the rest of us as to why Liberians don't swim in the Atlantic on the coast of Africa. We sure did (it was the only way to cool off in the horrific heat) but they just gathered around to talk about the crazy Americans!

Turns out the something-or-other was World War II related. They toured a carrier and submarine as well as a mock base from the Vietnam War. The boys had a great time and hopefully they learned a little something as well!

James in a captain chair -

Check out the luxurious size of the bunks. It makes me feel bad for upgrading from a queen to a king bed!

The Wedding

The reason that we are on this trip to Charleston is because JD's beautiful niece, Sophia, got married on Mother's Day. We decided to stay the week and turn it into our vacation as well, but she's the real reason we are here!

The wedding was outside, on the river, on a perfect, perfect day. Alei was one of Sophia's bridesmaids. I about cried watching her walk in; time is going so fast these days that it won't seem like long until it's one of my girls walking down the aisle as the bride!

After the wedding, Elijah wanted to smell Alei's flowers.

And give Sophia a kiss.

Here's Alei at the reception. She wanted a picture to replace her big one on the "kid" wall at home.

And here's Alei loving on Elijah. He likes all his sisters constant kissing.

Alyssa caught the wedding bouquet; she was pleased with the catch and is drying the flowers for long-term keeping.

We wish you well, Sophia and Frankie!


Charleston is a lovely area. Yesterday we walked around Folly Beach. There is no swimming there due to strong currents, but the kids were able to wade. The girls got pretty wet and I was just sure that Julia was going to whine about it until she dried, but she surprised me and never brought it up!

There is a beautiful old light-house out in the water.

The kids also had fun collecting shells. James found a sand-dollar and Ben found a big conch shell.

After lunch, we headed to down-town Charleston. I always thought that "the slave market" was the place that slaves were sold long ago, but it turns out that it is only the spot that slaves sold items.

We crammed in as much sight-seeing as we could until naps were no longer ignorable.

The kids with new friend, Vickie.

This morning we hit the area by the river that used to be a Navy base. There was a play-ground that provided a nice spot for a picnic. It's amazing that kids can spend an hour spinning themselves around; I would throw up in about two minutes!

We had a great afternoon back at the beach. The weather was warmer so we all were able to swim longer. Those pictures (and the wedding) shortly.