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.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Eve

 We are taking everyone to a friend's house for a New Years Eve party this evening, but my plan entails getting home and putting the kids in bed by 10:00 p.m. We've crammed in all kinds of things today though before the fun. JD started his day by taking himself and three children to Urgent Care for adoption labs. We were unable to get every one's PPD tests done yesterday because they would have needed to be read on Monday, and Monday is a holiday, so we had to drag everyone in for those this morning. After that, JD ripped out the carpet in our retreat area where we had mold growing. We thought it was because the door wasn't sealed properly, but it was actually due to the deck outside being so well built that it didn't drain water. So, after the carpet came out - 

 JD got to rip up all the boards to re-lay them with spaces between them. 

I spent all afternoon yesterday cleaning out the fridges, making a shopping list, cutting coupons, dragging three little people through the Commissary, carrying in all the groceries, cleaning out the pantry and putting them all away. 

Today, while Gabriel made chicken "wings,"

I made bread and fudge for the Sunday School teachers for tomorrow - 

And caramel pop-corn and a veggie tray for the New Year party tonight - 

Lastly, I am filling two crock-pots with Pizza-in-a-Pot for a lunch tomorrow for us and Luke's family. 

The little guys were entertained by Gabriel's friend, Alayna, who built Lego's with them. 



It was with great sadness we heard about the loss of our friend's son in China. Luke was only a couple of months away from joining his family and our church here in America. We have been running a snack bar after church for several months to help raise the funds for Luke to join us and  while we rejoice that he is in the presence of his maker, it is a loss for all of us. Please pray for his family here and his foster family in China.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Post Christmas and 21 Years

We had our third and final home study meeting yesterday up in D.C. On the way home, we stopped for an anniversary dinner one day early. Today we have been married 21 years!  It was a quick reminder where we've come in the last 21 years since we had to interrupt dinner for the kids to be gathered around the phone on speaker for a stern reminder of how they are supposed to behave when their big sister, Alei, is left in charge. 

At this point, we still have a few people that are scheduled for physicals tomorrow and a 10 hour Hague training to complete online. As soon as those are submitted, we will wait for our rough draft to be sent to us and the adoption agency, fine-tuned by the adoption agency and our home study can be notarized as official. JD's fingerprints were also returned for one being smudgy, but I wrote a note with the new set in hopes that the second try will not hold up the entire home study.

This is what I came home to yesterday - Elijah running around (and into things since he can't really see) and telling everyone that he is Obama. Never mind it's a mask of John McCain - close enough for a three year old! 

Elijah hid behind the couch and jumped out to scare Gabriel's friend when she arrived; it was pretty entertaining. Elijah used to be terrified of these masks, Gabriel has several, and we had to reassure Elijah that Gabriel wasn't bringing them home on the plane at Christmas time last year. A year changes a lot when you are small!

I'm ready to start my home organizational project;  I am starting with the office that is driving me crazy. This is supposedly JD's desk, but he never uses it and I constantly use it, so I'm going to make it more Momma friendly. JD always works from a lap-top on the couch or table; I appreciate the office door when I'm trying to hear the person on the other end of the phone line. 

 This is "my" desk. It is never more than a surface that junk gets piled on. I'm not sure what to do with it. I have a really cool cabinet down-stairs that I thought I might swap it with, but it doesn't clear the shadow box that I don't want to move. 

What's nuts is this is the room that I always close the door when people come over, but now I'm throwing it out there for everyone to see. It's ok as long as there's improvement soon, right?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Deliveries

JD received a call on the 23rd about several toys that were dropped off too late for the Toys For Tot pickup that occurred at his work. They wanted to know if we knew any families in need that we could bless with the extra toys. We instantly knew one, but was sure that we could find more by asking around. We brought the toys home and began making calls and dividing what would work for different families that we found out about. 

We began with a family whose father had been laid off and they are struggling to not lose their home. We decided to provide two gifts per child. We then covered a family with two children whose father is in serious condition in the hospital. Then we divided toys for a Mexican family that Debra knows and an immigrant family from Afghanistan. 

At that point, we still had more younger children gifts, so I contacted a few families that actually posted that they needed help on Craigslist. We were able to correspond and help a mom that has six children. It was a lot of fun and a good reminder, again, to my children that the world is filled with people that don't have the blessings that we so often take for granted. 

Due to my present deliveries, I was pretty behind where I would normally be by Christmas Eve. I was also getting sicker by the moment, so I ended up taking myself to the Urgent Care on Christmas Eve. I did do my pre-Christmas baking, but a lot of cleaning and other organizing went by the way-side. Of course, the kids did not care and it was a wonderful Christmas anyway. 

The fun of the day, for me, was smiling children - 

And my three year old playing songs for the family. 

I hope your day was filled with friends and family as well.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Things to Come

We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, 
but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
Fredrick Keoniq

I am planning a "more people, less stuff" campaign for next year. I am frustrated at the volume of stuff we own ( I normally go through this about twice a year,it's just hitting earlier than usual.) In 2012, we are really going to decrease our junk to make room for the new little person (or people) and the benefit is the stuff we can sell on Craigslist can be added to our adoption fund. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Every Year

I was really trying to cram in a lot of family Christmas fun this December, but still have a lot on the "not done" list. Since we are hoping and praying that we are in Ethiopia next December, (best case scenario,) I wanted to make sure we did all the extras this year. 

It's really hard to believe that this is the 6th Christmas that Tori has been home, and the 5th for Julia and Ben. Somedays it just seems that I was working through their paperwork. 

Today was the kids' Christmas party at JD's work, which is always exciting since it's the Santa viewing of the year. Elijah ran right up there and climbed on his lap. Although we don't "do" Santa, Elijah somehow heard that Santa comes down chimneys and wanted the details of how he pulls that off. He then told us that he really wants to try coming down a chimney also. 

The 12 and under crowd all get a present from Santa. Elijah got a package of little tractors - talk about sealing the deal on him liking the guy in the red suit. 

(I would have asked Santa for magic cough syrup - I have been coughing for a week straight and nothing works.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hair Priorities

 It's a few days before Christmas - my house needs a good cleaning, my laundry needs attention, I have shopping to do as well as baking, I have gifts to wrap, but...I did hair all afternoon. As my fellow adoptive Moms know, sometimes hair takes all priority. I'm hoping that at some point tomorrow, all nine of my kids will be home to re-take a Christmas picture, so I had to finish Christmas hair. I did Tori a few days ago and Julia was my today victim  project. 

Ignore the white - she isn't going grey, it's just the coconut oil that is soaking it.

All this hair bored Elijah to sleep and I'm off to try to accomplish more. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

No More Room

Take a moment to read this post from the missionaries that we support in Guatemala. They are a family with nine children who moved to work full time in the orphanage that two of their daughters were adopted from. It's so horrible that Guatemala shut down adoptions - I wish I could take this sibling group. I have far more room than the orphanage.


Friday, December 16, 2011

My LEAST Favorite

My very least favorite part of an adoption is all the medical requirements. I'm sure it wouldn't be that big of a deal if we weren't talking 11 people. Just for the home-study, we each get a physical that includes blood work, urinalysis, vision and hearing. They also evaluate immunization records, which is a bit of an issue for me since I decided that I'm picking and choosing what shots I consider worth compromising my children's immune system for. Then JD and I require several additional medical paperwork piles to be filled out by a doctor for the adoption agency. After reading them over, I'm thinking no doctor is going to want to fill them out and quite frankly, they don't see us often enough to actually know the answers to the questions. Yesterday, I called and scheduled 14 doctor appointments between now and the end of January. While I was at it, I called the dentist and booked 11 appointments there as well. I was thrilled because they are allowing me to bring my five youngest all in one morning in spite of their "three family members a day" normal rule. On a humorous note, I told the receptionist at the dentist that we've known for years about our current adoption. She asked, "how many are you bringing home this time?" I said, "it will probably be just one." She answered, "well, you are really cutting back this time!" 

Since I still have my normal on-going doctor appointments, I should see at least 30 doctor or dentist bills in the next six weeks - something to look forward to (to be read with sarcasm.) 

Today is the Tori and Julia appointments - they are looking forward to it just because I take them for Slurpees afterward. Elijah is very, very excited because Alei is taking him to the new Chipmunk movie - he has been waiting for a few months. I wish I was there to see his excitement at the whole experience.

Since it's almost Christmas and picture less posts are boring, here's a shot of the kids decorating gingerbread cookies. I am trying to still maintain the Christmas traditions while I work on my paperwork!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Picture Attempt

 I attempted a simple Christmas picture Sunday on the deck. The kids were all cooperative - it could have worked out well, but it didn't - JD is totally blurry and I'm half blurry. So, we are going to have to try that one more time. I may drag everyone into "town" for "real" pictures, but it sure sounds like a lot of work!

Here's Kylie and Toby in their festive Christmas wear with their owners. 

I feel like I'm buried in piles of paperwork. I have barely started the new pile of adoption paperwork, which needs my attention. I also am juggling my two college students at two different schools paperwork and my other children at two different co-ops paperwork on top of my normal financial paperwork. We are only doing minimal school from now until January so I'm hoping to catch up on the paper piles between now and then.  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bad Guys Update

Elijah is pretty impressed with police officers; he never calls them police men - they are always officers. Last night he tucked his police truck into my bed and lovingly covered it up at bed time. Several times a day, we hear, "put your hands up." Generally, once you put your hands up, he shoots you anyway. JD explained to him that the police don't shoot if the bad guy puts his hands up. This morning we were discussing it and I told him that the police hand-cuff them and take them to jail. Elijah confidently told me that the police take them to jail and them shoot them at the jail. Julia kicked in with five year old wisdom to say, "Elijah, they don't shoot them at the jail; they just make them pick up garbage along the roads." 

Friday, December 9, 2011

One Bite at a Time

If I had an assistant, she would also require an assistant to get done all the things that I need to do!  I am not sure why we keep beginning adoptions right before Christmas, but it definitely makes December even more challenging. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment today after we were fingerprinted, notarized a stack of paperwork, bought money orders and put it all together to send out for the criminal back-ground checks for my home-study. Once I walked in the door, my bubble was popped when the adoption agency called to let me know that I needed to review the 108 pages they just sent me and initial them. I was flabbergasted once I looked through the adoption agency requirements - I had no idea that the Hague could even come up with that many qualifications. One that jumped out at me is producing rabies certificates for all my pets; do cats that move into the barn without my permission and we can't touch get exemptions? I thought it was going to be tough to take the 11 of us for physicals and eye exams!

Here's our first round of papers leaving the local post office - 

How do you eat an elephant - one bite at a time.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sign and Today

I read a sign today that said something like... "God put me on this earth to accomplish several things. I'm so far behind that I'm never going to die." It struck me funny, (or maybe it was the silly little cartoon guy in the picture.) Anyway, today we headed up to D.C. for our 2nd home study meeting, then we headed the opposite direction to buy Alei's new (only to us) car. After we got home, we had a small birthday celebration for Gabriel. 

The funny moment of the day was when the social worker was trying to get all the current children straight. She was having an even tougher time since the three Liberian children have different names on their birth certificates than what we call them. During that confusion, she asked what perimeters we wanted for our Ethiopian home study.  Since this is our 3rd home study, we've learned a few things and the first is to not to limit yourself by too restrictive numbers or ages as there is no way around it. So, JD told her that three children six or under ought to be fine. She literally laid her head on the table and laughed for a few seconds, then came back up and said that would be fine. Just to make her feel better, I told her that the only way I was coming home with three was if they offered us triplets - that would just be too hard to turn down!

Tomorrow I have to get busy on the police clearances and criminal background checks. Later there is also a federal one. Gabriel and Alei both have to be done on all of them as well and Moriah gets to join for the third. It wouldn't be so bad other than we get to pay for four to five people on each instead of two! 

As usual, I'm going to bed too late considering that I get up before the sun these days, so I'll be back tomorrow with some Gabriel birthday shots.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Big News Announced

If you are a friend or family or have read my blog over time, you already know that we have felt a clear call to adopt from Ethiopia since June 2009. We feel that we have been given clear confirmation of it on a few occasions and I wrote about one such occasion HERE if you'd like to read it. After we attended the Orphan Summit last November, we came home enthused and ready to begin an adoption but had a serious hurdle of closing on the house we built and were already living it. Once we accomplished that in the spring, we prayed specifically for 30 days to know that it was the time we were supposed to proceed with Ethiopia. Not only did we not have any peace during that time, it was the same time frame that there were significant slow downs in Ethiopian adoptions and fear that the country might close entirely. Although we were disappointed, we knew that we were supposed to wait. 

About two weeks ago, a blog reader that is getting ready to travel to China for her two new children, sent me a link about a special little girl that is waiting for a family in China. This little girl is in desperate need of good medical care that she will not receive as an orphan in China. I sent the link to JD (who has remained stable the last few years waiting for the go ahead with Ethiopia while I've bounced all over the map and tried to convince him that we could go to Uganda or China while we waited for the clear sign to go to Ethiopia.) Anyway, I called the agency that this little girl is listed with, which also happens to be one of the agencies I talked to about Ethiopia before. I'm not sure why, but the China representative mentioned to me how stable and efficient their Ethiopia adoptions were running. She transferred me to the Ethiopia "department" and I then found out that Ethiopia recently lowered their age requirement to "no more than 40 years older than the child you are adopting." Well, that was concerning because I'm turning 42 in April and we definitely want to adopt younger than Elijah. 

It's funny looking back, but we both just knew that the time is now. We aren't looking at the scary statistics or the financial concerns, we are just stepping out in faith knowing that our sweet little #10 is very likely already sitting in a Northern Ethiopian orphanage waiting for us to find him or her. We are not requesting a boy or girl, only that he/she or they be younger than Elijah. We have been told that the time span is 13-15 months. We immediately hired our home study agency for a new home study and submitted the 18 page application to the adoption agency. Amazingly, the director herself called me Thursday and worked in our first home study meeting Friday. We will have our second this week on Gabriel's 20th birthday and will be scrambling to complete all the forms, fingerprinting, background checks and physicals as quickly as we can. 

So, if you think it's all harp playing around here, we have had some real struggles this week as well. The biggest being that the Toyota broke down again. It did about two weeks ago, we had it towed to the shop and they couldn't find the problem; this timing is quite a bit worse because we had TWO cars wrecked and totalled in the course of five days. The first accident is the fault of the driver so I'm allowing HIM to remain anonymous; the second was a deer accident that happened to my big kids as they were heading home from church last Sunday. So, we have three cars totalled or in the shop, one running van and a truck with farm plates to transport three people to work and all the other commitments we have. Friday, Gabriel had to get up early on his only day off to run the van transport service. He was kind enough to pick me up at the Y in his pajamas after taking Alei to work. 

I say all this to say that  life around here rarely runs smoothly and we know that this is going to be a challenge, but it is what really matters. We know specifically what special need we are going to adopt (that's another post for another day down the road.) We know that it isn't going to be easy, but saving a child is worth overcoming difficulties. If you have never seen the following video, I urge you to take the couple of minutes to watch it; it says what we are feeling better than any words I can muster! 



Friday, December 2, 2011

Big News on the Way

This has been a big week, well, maybe it's been the last two weeks. It has been filled with challenges as well, but the excitement is drowning out the frustration. Hopefully tonight I'll be able to post the BIG NEWS. 

Until then, have a blessed Friday.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

World Aids Day - The Truth

Take a few minutes to educate yourself about HIV and Aids - it will only take a few minutes and you'll learn more about the truth of HIV than almost anyone else you know, (plus the kids are cute!)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Food Issues

The last several months we have gone through some pretty extensive food allergy testing for Moriah. The verdict is that she is very allergic to eggs, gluten intolerant, casein intolerant and allergic to soy. (Gluten is all wheat products and casein is all dairy.) Since she is already a self appointed vegetarian, it is not leaving a ton of options.  We have ordered several gluten-free, vegan cookbooks and I am exploring the world of gluten-free foods on Amazon and at the grocery store Wegmans. After spending some major time (and major money) in Wegmans the other day, I am so thankful that they opened in our area. We don't have a Whole Foods or anything else, so I would have been driving a few hours away to find the selection that Wegmans offers; there were two complete aisles of gluten-free options. While it seems that it may be simpler to just cook the same for everyone, the gluten free items were two to five times higher than the regular items I buy, so it really isn't a reasonable option for our size family. 

I have read several other blogs that mention that they have children that require gluten-free. I am really wondering if they went through the testing (insurance wouldn't pay for it since it isn't a proven test) or they just discovered that their children improved when they did a trial try? 

Moriah made her first gluten free pizza today that also had cheese-free cheese (go figure!) and I made regular pizza. I also whipped up cinnamon rolls, bread and cookies which are all items Moriah didn't eat even before the new food plan. 

If anyone has any gluten-free wisdom for me, I would love to hear it! This is just one more thing to add to my already full plate. 

Friday, November 25, 2011


I am so thankful for friends that are like family, especially since we have spent the majority of our marriage not living near either of our families. 

We are exceedingly blessed and feel it most when our home is full of talking and laughter. 

Black Friday is an event at our house and this year was more strenuous than ever since many stores opened at midnight. JD and the four older kids headed out last night about 9:30 and got home at 3:00. The three girls and I headed back out at 4 a.m. for the early morning shift. We don't just do Christmas shopping - we usually wait for house hold items that we need every year also. Black Friday is the best time to buy everything from kitchen items to socks and underwear! It was really nice this year since it was exceptionally warm, however now that it is afternoon,  JD and I are starting to feel the 2.5 and 3.5 hours of sleep we got. 

Now I need to do a make up session at the Y tomorrow morning to make a dent in the good food I ate. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011


We tend to forget that
HAPPINESS doesn't come
as a result of getting something
we don't have, but rather of
recognizing and appreciating
what we DO HAVE.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lots of Stuff

There's actually a lot going on - some exciting and some frustrating, but I don't feel like I can launch into any of those stories yet; so I'm just here to say Happy Thanksgiving. We are going to have about 25 at dinner tomorrow and are pretty excited about our friends coming. JD loves any occasion to put in as many leaves in the table as he can; he left only a narrow walkway between the table and the living room furniture. If you are wondering, we can seat 20 at the table at this length, so there will still be kids at the kitchen table. 

We found out what our sweet Kylie's big fault is - she took off when given the opportunity. Alyssa and I deliberately took her out without a leash and she ran into the woods. I ended up finding her half way down the driveway and she wasn't interested in being caught for a while. I was chasing her up and down the road with no phone to call back-up. She may find herself sporting one of those fashionable collars that shock her when she crosses the line rather than her new tu-tu.

Alyssa was afraid that Toby was jealous about Kylie's girly things, so Alyssa let him wear a bow for a while. He isn't the most secure animal on the planet, so I'm not sure our laughing was good for his self esteem. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kylie Fox

 Alyssa and I hit the road yesterday to pick up her new dog, Kylie. The road trip took even longer than anticipated because our faithful Prius, Blue, broke down the last 30 minutes of the trip. I am still so thankful that it didn't happen two hours away from home. My cell phone was also dying the last hour of the trip and I'm very thankful that it didn't die before I was able to call for help sitting on the side of the road in the cold dark! All in all, it was a great day and Kylie was well worth the trip! She has been in three homes in two years and we feel blessed to have found such a sweet and out-going dog that needed an owner as much as the 12 year old owner needed her. 

When Elijah saw the first picture of her on Craigslist, he said, "that's not a dog - it's a big daddy fox," so her name is now Kylie Fox. She is a pure bred Pomeranian, but does look just like a fox.

She has a great personality and pranced in the house, licked up  the kid's faces, wagged her tail at the other dogs and seemed pleased to meet the cats. That is exactly what we needed!

This has all given Julia and Elijah a fun new game. They have played Alyssa and Kylie all morning. (I promise Elijah is in there on his own free will!)

Have a blessed Sunday.