OUR PLANS MULTIPLIED
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
It was a blessing to spend some time getting to know the Twietmeyers and learning about HIV positive adoptions. The biggest challenge for these families is the stigma of the disease!
The Twietmeyer family is in the December 6th People magazine; it's the first time I've ever bought People and it was well worth my $3. I urge you to check it out.
Also, here's a YouTube link featuring the Twietmeyers, their children, and other families like them. Help spread the truth -
Monday, November 29, 2010
Fortunately, school doesn't require electricity. Tori finally has down her letters and most of the sounds. She got these wooden letters out this morning to "teach" Julia, but we used them for a few review activities.
Next we used sandpaper letter cards that my sister-in-law gave me before Gabriel even started Kindergarten; the only one missing is the J that Elijah tore up earlier this year.
Elijah had his heart set on wearing his bear jammies all day, so we just put sweats over them for our Sheetz run, then he took those sweats right back off when we got home.
Julia worked on her letters a bit also; at this point Tori is getting far more of my effort, but it would be nice if Julia could at least write her name.
I'm excited about my tomorrow post, so check back.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
This morning, I took advantage of the good weekend sales to hunt down some quilt fabric. This "tractor" fabric was the only one in Joanne's that wasn't John Deere tractors. Thankfully, the tractors are blue like Elijah's favorite "big, blue tractor!" If I have my way, I'm going to start cutting out the squares today. Elijah was so impressed that he wanted to carry the entire bolt of tractor fabric around the store.
I'll keep you posted on my little project.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Unfortunately, Wal-Mart decided to post most of their good deals starting at mid-night, so JD and my three older girls hit the road about 10:15 last night. They returned around 1:30 a.m. My alarm went off at 5:00a.m. and the girls and I hit about a dozen other stores - I didn't make them go after already shopping , but they wanted to. I did not buy one toy, but did get boy's jeans for $6, jammies for $5, a vacuum for $23, crock pots for $10, you get the idea. A lot of what we actually purchase on Black Friday aren't gifts, just house-hold items that we need (usually because someone broke it during the year) and we wait knowing that the item will be at least 1/2 price on Black Friday.
The girls and I returned around 1:00 p.m.; they went to bed and I fixed lunch. I have to say that the fun we have is also part of the draw. They look forward to it all year and we manage to have fun driving from store to store, hunting down our items and waiting in line to pay!
Yesterday JD fixed James' old, green gator. We bought James this for his 5th birthday a little over five years ago. Three years ago the battery died. Two years ago I bought a new battery but discovered that the liter of puppies dumped in my drive-way had chewed the wires under the hood. Yesterday, JD fixed it for the girls and Elijah. The battery was about dead by noon, but I took the kids out to finish it off.
The horn needs a battery, the windshield some super glue and the bungee cord is the only way to hold on the hood - it reminds me of the vehicle that Gabriel used to drive!
The flock of roaming guineas don't seem impressed!
There were some serious power struggles between Julia and Elijah for the wheel, but they did stop long enough for a picture.
After lunch, Julia showed me Gus. Apparently I missed Gus' earlier appearance in the pink tutu.
When Julia plunked him down, he just laid there in his blue doll dress. JD commented that he has completely given up in life, but he doesn't really seem to mind. I told Julia, "poor Gus, he's a boy." She said, "he is not a boy, he's a princess!"
Moriah will be pleased to know her cat was well cared for while she was Black Friday shopping and napping.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Elijah had quite the scare. There was a big man that really liked him. After the meal, I was standing out front letting Elijah play with the parking lot rocks. This man came up and grabbed Elijah, just playing with him. Elijah had a terrified look in his eyes, since he barely goes to people he knows, much less strangers. I took him back, telling the man that he's kind of shy. Once he was safe in my arms again, he smiled at the man, put his hand on his chest and said, "me kind of shy."
He isn't shy, however, when it comes to his sisters and their friends.
After the dinner, they had raffle gift certificates for different stores. They let James, Ben, Tori and Julia take turns drawing the winner.
This last picture is for Elijah's Aunt Marilyn. Elijah is wearing the ONLY thing I saved from Gabriel's baby days. This Steelers sweatshirt was an Aunt Marilyn gift to Gabriel his first year of life. It now fits Elijah perfectly. I wanted to be sure that Aunt Marilyn knew she really got her money's worth from this gift, since it's still around 19 years later. While I was taking the picture of Elijah in the sweat-shirt, he kindly demonstrated how he can do wheelies on his tractor.
Occasionally falling off the back -
But doing it over again.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Re-Post From June 14, 2009 -
Our second issue was the boat that we bought, and shouldn't have, several years ago. This isn't a little fishing boat, this is a big, big boat with beds and all. When we bought it, we had five children and fit in it; now we don't fit or have time for the beast. We have been trying to sell it for well over a year and it isn't the kind of thing that people are snatching up when it requires 100 gallons of gas (no exaggeration required) to even put in the water. We finally resorted to putting it on ebay and were willing to take a sizable loss just to be rid of the monthly payment that we've been making on it. So, week after week, the boat hasn't sold and I hit relist on my add; paying and praying for a miracle.
I now jump forward to Ethiopia. Over and over, I feel like we are supposed to do another adoption and Ethiopia keeps presenting itself. As much as I'd love to jump on that bandwagon, the reality of our home loan and current Liberian adoption loan is overwhelming. On top of the reality that we have two children ready to start college classes this year, the most unreasonable thing in the world that I could fathom was the idea to do another international adoption. The weight of feeling like I was supposed to research adoptions in Ethiopia, etc, was really present this last week while JD was away in San Diego. I stayed up late several nights reading. On Tuesday night I prayed before bed that I didn't want to continue looking into adoptions if we are not supposed to adopt again and it was all just me. I told the Lord that I needed a CLEAR sign from him if Ethiopia was in our future. I decided to lay out the fleece and prayed, "Lord, unless that boat sells from this eBay listing, I'm done looking into Ethiopia; I'm resuming my normal life." I believe at that point, there was only two or three days left on the listing. The very next day, JD called me from San Diego and told me that there was a guy who was interested in the boat and that they were emailing back and forth. I found that intriguing, but that's happened before. When JD and I drove up to the home school convention on Friday morning, he told me that they guy was pretty interested and might want to come up and see the boat on Sunday. I asked JD if he wanted to know my prayer at that point or wait; of course he wanted to hear, so I told him. I told him that my deal with the Lord was that it would sell from that listing, without relisting it. Well, the man came today. He and his wife and baby made a five hour drive from SC; they spent a bit of time here and negotiated a bit, but didn't leave today until he wrote us a check for the boat. The boat sold! The boat that we've advertised for 18 months sold the week that I asked the Lord for a clear sign!!!
So, we both firmly believe that Ethiopia is in our future. I still don't see how, but I have faith that God will make a way where there seems to be no way! I also believe that our home loan is going to work out without devastating us financially. We see this house as far more than just a home, but that's another post for another day. So, we are just sitting here today, amazed that God cares enough about us, our current children and our future child/children that He sold a boat to show us!
Now back to today - our house situation seems to be working out also. God is paving the way!
Monday, November 22, 2010
On a second happy note - I actually corn-rowed Tori's hair yesterday. I know it's not perfect by any one's standards, but it's the first time that I've corn-rowed well enough that I didn't immediately take it back out. I had to have her sit in a little chair next to the computer and watch You Tube corn rowing, pause it and copy it. I also had to recite the directions to myself out loud as I corn-rowed. I think it would have been easier to learn if I didn't already know how to french braid; it's kind of the opposite and my hands didn't want to relearn. Here's a shot; I expect it to improve over the next few months.
As a prayer request, the senior pastor at the church Gabriel is interning at slid his truck on black ice this morning on his way to meet with the interns. His truck appears to be totaled and he has been taken to the ER. Please pray for him, his name is Dwight and his fabulous wife writes at http://www.aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/. We also really need to pray for Gabriel's safety as he drives over 50 miles a day in the Colorado mountains covered in snow and ice!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Last year, no one got sick at all. I'm praying for a re-run of last year and contemplating a group flu shot run this week!
Elijah was quite disappointed that he didn't get to go to church. He didn't get to go because he will only go to his "class" if one of us accompanies him. So, either JD, I, Moriah or Alyssa end up being in the two year old class on a rotating basis. To ease his disappointment, he and I went on a donut run. We used to get a box of powdered donuts for everyone once a week when we went to the Commissary, but they quit carrying them completely; so now on occasion, we have to drive to Sheetz for a big, black do-do (long o sound.) Elijah really loves that chocolate, although I really think he's only had three in his life. This isn't a daily ritual or anything.
Now I'm beginning the long list I have for today. I re-did Julia's hair yesterday and plan on attempting corn-rows on Tori's today. I need to watch a refresher corn-row video on You Tube. Speaking of You Tube, JD almost has our Orphan Sunday talk down-loaded on You Tube, so I will put the link on here. I still haven't really listened to it because I can't get past my voice, but I'm choosing to believe that most people don't enjoy hearing their own voices and letting him post it anyway.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I found an alternative and had Elijah all excited - we went to see "big cow." Family night at Chick-Fil-A is buy one adult meal and get one free kid meal. Since Alei was at Bible study, we did buy four adult meals, get four kid meals free. They also had crafts and "big cow." It was just like our previous experience; the girls ran excitedly to big cow and Elijah gripped around my neck saying, "I'm scared of big cow, I'm scared." After the first cow round, he felt brave enough to wave at the cow.
Even after the cow left and we convinced him that it was safe to go to the playground, he hung on Ben's neck, looking wildly around in case the cow was trying to sneak up on him.
You would feel bad for him, but the next morning the first thing he asked me was if we could go see "big cow!"
As a separate funny, when I put Elijah in the bath last night against his will, he started crying, "too hot, too hot." I told him that it wasn't hot. He then started crying, "too cold, too cold." I told him that it wasn't cold. His final try was "too wet, too wet." I didn't have a response for that.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
In the afternoon, we had a few families over that also have children from Liberia. It was nice for the kids (and us) to fellowship with other families that look just like us. I often don't take the time to get pictures when events are at my house, but I did take a few (with really bad lighting) as we were awaiting the hay ride.
My boys with new friends -
Aunt Deb with Elijah and Tori -
I think next year we will expand our November get together to all friends that have adopted; which has the potential of being a really large event!
Friday, November 12, 2010
Here's a few girl group pictures that I was happy with.
Tori and Julia, also referred to as "the little girls - "
Alyssa, Alei and Moriah, who are now "the big girls - "
I totally intended on taking a group shot of the boys, but that never happened. It took me about 100 shots of Elijah before I even got one you could see his face; he was constant motion.
Here's some of the behind the scene shots.
We have a exciting weekend planned, including a Liberian reunion on Sunday!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Gus has actually been really good therapy for Julia. She has been far less clingy and whiny since her days have been consumed with caring for him! Poor Moriah is rarely given a chance to hold him without protest.
If our lives ever get boring with the nine kids, (yeah, right!) we have animals to keep us entertained. This is Lucy enjoying her new counter-top drinking bowl that the kids won at the Harvest Festival. So far one of the three fish have passed away, but it was from natural causes and didn't have anything to do with a cat.
We had a new house appraisal today to try and finally close our house construction loan. If you are behind on our house drama, the short story is that housing in this area dropped so severely that the value dropped significantly in the time between taking out our building loan and needing to close on our final loan. Since the bank that holds our building loan doesn't do permanent 30-year loans, and no bank wants to loan us for more than the house is currently worth, we have been stuck with an ARM building loan. We are now hoping that the value has increased enough to just close! Our last appraisal gave us NO credit for the expensive, green Geo-thermal system that we installed, so if we can just get compensation for that we should be able to wrap this project up! Praying!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
So, as I was making my way to the van, Ben brings me a grocery bag from last Thursday's shopping that was sitting in the very back seat. Never mind that I asked him AND James to check the back seat for bags and they both assured me that they got them all carried in. So, guess what was in the bag that has ridden in the van all weekend with the kids? - eggs and bread. Well, it was obvious that it had been stepped on a few times; the bread was flat and the eggs were oozing through the carton and the bag. I mumbled under my breath, set the bag on the ground and told them to get in the van, and leave the egg seat vacant.
I had to leave Julia and Elijah home with Alei for the ten minute trip, so that my friend's boys could ride home in their car-seats; so once I made it home, I was met by Alei at the front door who told me, "Elijah knocked over the entire Amish cabinet and broke pickle jars all over the carpet." Sure enough, four pickle jars and two jam jars to be exact!
It took me an hour exactly to clean the eggs, pickle and jam; but I kept thinking, "this is my life and it's stupid to be frustrated by it." I mean, I knew this was part of raising nine little people, so why be annoyed by it? So, that's my new motto - I can be excited when things go smoothly, but I won't expect it, nor disappointed when it doesn't happen.
It took me too long to figure out that it was a good idea to park them in front of the TV to keep them out of the glass shards. We choose Backyardigans and as you can see, they weren't couch potatoes!
I meant to take a picture of the pickle mess, but got side-tracked with keeping kids out of the glass, too bad - it was an impressive sight!
Monday, November 8, 2010
So, while my sister was handling my real life, JD and I were being blessed in unimaginable ways. We had the opportunity to hear the most amazing people tell the most amazing stories. We learned about non-profit micro-financing from a Harvard business graduate. We learned about the statistics of Ukrainian orphans from a CDC PhD that has personally adopted eight Ukrainian orphans. We met the wonderful ladies that run 147 Million Orphans that support Katie from Amazima. We learned about the Christian Orphan Alliance that bands together people and churches, across any denominational lines, to actually make a difference in the world. We were blessed with the opportunity to learn from Project Hopeful about the HIV adoption world. Tom Davis who has written the books Fields of the Fatherless and Red Letters: Living the Life that Bleeds spoke as did Russell Moore who wrote Adopted for Life. We listened to a Chinese man that grew up on the streets and now runs homes and schools for Chinese street children. In the beginning, the government would only let his children live in a room connected to the public toilets, now they are so successful that the model is moving to Central America to help street children there. I honestly feel so blessed that we are able to connect with these people to work towards being the hands and feet of Jesus in this desperate world be live.
The most distressing fact of the weekend is that there are already 10 million children in slavery, millions of little girls are in the sex slave industry. Did you know that human trafficking is almost surpassing drugs as the biggest illegal money maker? All it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing, and ladies and gentlemen, for the most part, the church of America has done nothing! We have the smarts, the prosperity and the ability to whip the orphan crisis into shape, but we spend more time on our own passions and luxuries.
I have been told by people that orphan concerns and adoption are just not their thing. If you follow the God of the Bible, the orphan cause needs to be your thing! Pastoring, music, etc, etc, etc, are callings and those called should obey, but Jesus says in James 1:27 that pure religion is caring for the widow and orphan. That verse goes on to talk about not allowing yourself to be polluted from the world. We, the American church, are polluted - which is exactly why Jesus says it is harder for the rich man to get into Heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. We have a choice to focus our time, energy and money on personal pleasures or to focus then on the things that God is passionate about. There are verses galore about the heart of God being bent to the widow and orphan.
If you aren't currently doing something to make a difference in the life of the orphan, I urge you to begin now. There are 100's of unbelievable things to sink your time and money into; if you don't know where to start, start by sponsoring an orphan. For about $1 a day, you can feed, clothe and educate a child living in desperate poverty.
I'll leave with Matthew 25: 31-40:
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. " Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you , or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, "I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, WHATEVER YOU DID FOR ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE BROTHERS OF MINE, YOU DID FOR ME."
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I went to the grocery store today for convenience foods, finished the week's school and caught up on laundry. She's more than capable, but I want her to be smiling when we come home so I'm making it as easy as possible.
My first concern is the fact that this is the first time JD and I have both left Elijah for the weekend; I'm sure he's going to do fine as he adores my sister and she'll let him sleep with her if he wakes up in the middle of the night.
My other concern is this little angel. She was doing so well until I left for the weekend about a month ago. Although she was fine while I was gone, she has made me pay ever since! For a kiddo that tested for no attachment problems, she sure has a hard time being left; but again, she adores my sister. (And we made a good-girl chart that allows her to earn a Sheetz sub if she doesn't scream or cry for no reason!)
If you are wondering where I'm going in spite of the trauma of leaving my little guys; we are heading to the Mid-Atlantic Orphan Summit in Hershey, PA. I am so, so excited about it; you are going to be blessed to hear all about it I'm sure.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I did pull out the parachute; I was rather amazed how 8-10 year olds enjoyed it along with the pre-schoolers.
Even the dogs were blessed with some picnic left-overs.
Monday, November 1, 2010
We had Julia as Tinkerbell, James at Batman (he's always Batman or Spiderman,) Tori as a princess, Ben at karate kid and Elijah as a monkey. The kids had a great time at the church harvest party and collected quite a candy stash that I may or may not have dipped into once or twice today.
This year there was something even more exciting than candy - prize gold-fish. When we got there and I heard the report of fish, I immediately informed my boys that they were not allowed to win a fish. After all, I have 9 kids, 7 cats, 3 dogs and dozens of chickens, I really don't need to be bothered with fish. Ben came to me once and told me that he didn't mean to win a fish, but did accidentally. I asked if there were any prizes at that game other than fish. The answer was no. I asked how many times he played the game. He told me four! We jumped the lecture that was swelling in my brain straight to, "Give away the fish." Unfortunately, I didn't hunt down my daughters to let them know my plan, so look at this...three daughters, three goldfish. They are sharing them, if you are feeling sorry for my sons at this point!
The real fun began on the drive home. Alei, Alyssa and I were each holding a little bowl, with saran wrap on it, when Alei exclaimed in the dark, "I don't think my fish is in the bowl, the saran wrap is loose." JD had to pull over and we had to dig around the floor of the van in the dark amidst jackets and shoes to locate the fish. We chucked him into one of the other bowls and he's as good as new. The bowl on the left side's rocks are still on the van floorboard! (Have I ever written a post explaining my I'd never even want a new vehicle? I guess it's self-explanatory now.)
As we were carrying in all the stuff, my crock pot also got dropped and chili spilled up the front porch. The good news is that I came in 2nd in the chili contest; next year I'm taking it! The bad news is that we've broken two crock pots this year and now I really need a third one!
I can't believe it's November already!