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.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Raised Beds

I had an online friend ask about our raised beds; specifically she asked why we used brick and what the purpose of the black cloth is that is shown in a previous picture.

The first year we moved here, I actually planted a garden in the ground. It was actually in the fenced area that we now turned into the chicken run. Our clay is so hard that in spite of mixing in good dirt, my vegetables were the perfect size for a Barbie's table. The next year we knew that the only way we were going to get anything to grow was raised beds.

The raised beds are actually retaining wall. Since we have so much work around here and hope to live here long term, JD did not want to use wood that was going to rot and have to be replaced in a few years. Conveniently, we had enough retaining wall material left from our walls in the back-yard that the first two planters did not cost us a dime.

Granted, this year we had to purchase enough to make three more, but I'm sold on the permanency of the stone. We have often had a running joke that JD likes to spend as much money as possible on every project, and I'm generally pointing out thrifty alternatives, but I think he was right with this project. These should last the long haul! Another benefit of retaining walls is that they have a little ledge that helps catch them from shifting like actual brick would.

As for the black cloth, it's soil cloth that was originally left over from some drive-way project when we moved in. Of course, we also ran out of the original roll of it this year, but it was only about $25 at Lowe's. The purpose of it is to keep weeds and grass from growing up through the bottom of the beds, but allow water to drain through it. Another reason we need it is to prevent dirt loss through the side gaps in the stones. JD just runs it length-wise before he fills in the dirt and then trims it along the top edge.

While the boys did the manly building, the girls and I planted several things. The most exciting were the big patio pots that my Mom bought. I'm sure they will double nicely as a trike and scooter bumper.

I can't remember what the plants are called at the moment, but aren't they beautiful? (And they were only $6 at Wal-Mart :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Outside Continued

 This is one of my birthday chicks from my friend, Wendy. We realize that chickens are probably an abnormal gift for the average Mom of today, but we both get pretty excited about different chicken breeds.

This picture required no explanation. For anyone that's getting grossed out, I do discourage chicken kissing.

These two trees are my little pear trees. In the end, we planted eight fruit trees and two pecan trees this spring. I need to get a truck load of mulch to put around them this weekend.

Our swimming pool is always a problem in the spring. We are never diligent about pumping out the rainwater on the cover and the tree frogs continually lay eggs in it. There have been many, many springs that we scoop tadpoles out and put them in two kiddy pools before we can open the pool.

Ben has been spending quite a bit of time with the basketball hoop. I'm not really too excited about adding winter basketball to our current spring and fall soccer schedule, but I may anyway.

 Little Ms. Julia learned to ride her bike this week. We don't do training wheels since we have no pavement. The kids have all done well just learning to ride a real bike. Now she is riding on gravel, grass and the road with her brothers and sisters. I know she fell off 100 times learning, but didn't cry once.

Here's one of my birthday pots from my Mom. I got one for each side of our wide steps. Now I need to figure out what I want to plant in them.  

We are expanding our raised garden beds from two to five this year. JD and the boys built one last week and there are two to go.

We are planning on adding another three next spring for a total of eight. I have planted most of the three that are completed. The last two are going to be watermelon and cantaloupe.

Elijah is getting bigger and braver; it's really amazing that he is going to be three this summer. He corrects us if we make the mistake of referring to him as a baby. Although he speaks very clearly, two words he can't say correctly are boy and girl. He says ber and ger. So we often hear, "no me is a ger, me is a big ber!"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


We have been spending quite a bit of time outside. I'm planning a more comprehensive "outside post" tomorrow, but here's a sample.

We've found some creatures to spend time with.

                                                     We've planted flowers and vegetables.

And we've come in dirty and tired.

Monday, April 25, 2011


 Grandpa, Gee-ma and eight of the nine grand-kids on Easter morning -

I love to buy my little princess' new dresses. Tori and Julia chose their own this year.

 We had a nice time with my parents and other friends (that are more like family).

Aunt Deb and her friend, Aaron. He is leaving in a week for Iraq.

Alei and her sweet friend, Jordan.

Someday we'll have a deck out back, but for now the front steps can be quite the gathering place.

We put off the annual egg hunt until it was getting dark. This year I assigned each child a color to look for, which seemed to work better than years past when I made them count the eggs.

Elijah didn't require an explanation of what was going on. He immidiately took off in search of orange eggs.

I hope you all had a blessed day!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Birthday Pictures

Last night, JD made reservations for our family, including Grandpa, "Geema" and Aunt Deb, at a local Mexican restaurant. It is rather nice that Julia and Elijah are old enough now to sit while we wait for food. Poor Julia actually fell asleep on Deb, but woke up when her long-awaited chicken arrived. I took a picture of Deb with my parents, but it wasn't the most flattering of two of the three of them, so I'll try again tomorrow at Easter picture time. (That said, this isn't the most flattering picture of JD and I either, but I'm accustomed to embarrassing myself and JD doesn't embarrass.)

Normally we are quite the attention getter, but there was a birthday group behind us that was far louder than we were, so it was nice to not have to be concerned with the noise level coming from our table.

Sweet Tori - She has no problem keeping up with her big brothers these days. She went on a bike expedition with Grandpa and the boys and did 4-6 miles with no problem.

Alyssa and Moriah - Moriah told us during dinner, "this place is good, but I'd be just as happy with Taco Bell." That is the reason we eat a lot of Chick Fil A!

Well, another birthday has come and gone. Today I'm getting ready for Easter Sunday tomorrow.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!:)

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Moriah (Jenny's 3rd oldest!)  I was writing my mom's blog today, because if you didn't know it, it's her BIRTHDAY!!! And, I wanted her to know that she's very special to us all, and that I thank her for being there all the times I need her and all the times of trouble! She has a great heart for adoption and is compassionate for those who are hurting! The others and I love her dearly:-) SO, I just wanted to say "Happy Birthday Mom, may the years coming ahead be better then the years before! We love you!:)"


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fun To Come

Tomorrow I'm making the voyage to Richmond to meet Wendy and get Alyssa back. Then we are heading over to the airport to pick up my parents for a week visit. The last two days have been focused on catching up on some cleaning and laundry. I'm not really enjoying it that much, so I took an extended break today while the kids were at art class and Alei and I headed for Chinese food with the three little guys.

I'm looking forward to the out-side work that I need to do; it seems like so much more fun than the inside work. JD tilled a berry patch over a week ago -

Wendy brought me four blackberry bushes and I bought four raspberry bushes marked down at Wal-Mart.

Another excitement in the works is baby chicks; Wendy got me a few specialty chicks at the feed store that will be coming home tomorrow with Alyssa. We even bought them a new chick house that JD is currently putting together. There was no way that the delapidated rabbit house were've been using was going to make it another year; it's begging to be put in the burn pile. (I realize the chick house is up-side-down in this picture, but with a neck like mine, you don't flip boxes for pictures :)

Back to work - the carpets don't vacuum themselves.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Truth Is Still Truth

JD and I are preparing to share on adoption at a friend's church tomorrow night. Several times I've thought how it's such a bad time for me to be encouraging to others that are considering embarking on this journey, just because I'm facing such challenges at this point. To be honest, only some of my challenges are adoption related, but adoption involves parenting and I'm finding parenting to be a big challenge at this moment. Of course, this is all just emotion and I firmly believe that adoption is a calling that doesn't sway based on emotion. (Knowing something and engaging that knowledge are two different things however!)

We all know plenty of divorced people, but does anyone ever feel the need to warn newly engaged couples that they may not want to advance due to the threat of divorce? We certainly all also know some biological children that have caused their parents serious grief. Do we ever warn young couples that they should consider not having children due to the possibility that they may turn out to be criminals? Somehow, while the previous examples seem ridiculous, many people feel the need to share every adoptive failure story that they've seen and heard over the years with anyone who is considering adopting. I assure you, the majority of adoptive parents are more than aware of the risks involved, but choose to advance in spite of their fear, because it's a direct calling in Scripture to care for the widows and orphans. There are many, many people that willingly adopt children that they know will bring more sorrow than joy. This is a hard reality for me, but brings me right back around to the truth I know of adoption versus the emotion I'm dealing with now.

I know some people have seriously questioned our desire to adopt again. (I'm not judging them, since I'm one of them!) I know we have our hands full. I also know that I know that I know that we have a child out there that is supposed to be in our home. It really comes down to the truth of God's Word and being willing to step out in faith.

(picture taken by Moriah)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Total Randomness (Is That A Word?)

 I pulled my camera out today for the first time in several days. Here are a few pictures from the day. This is one of my new apple trees that has only been planted a few weeks; it was only sticks, but already has leaves and flowers.

Yesterday Lowe's had six packs of petunias for 50 cents, so I need to get planting. I think it's warm enough to start putting things in the ground, but I've been a bit short on time (understatement of the year.)

Last Sunday I clipped chicken wings, but there are still several roaming free and eating grass seed that I really intended to be grass instead of chicken feed.

We are plugging on with school; we've had too many days that spring fever has affected our progress.

And last, but never least, is hair. I hoped to get all of Julia's done today, but we stopped with just the take out. She was falling asleep at the counter, so tomorrow will be the wash and re-do. I'm saving my previous parts if you are wondering what the point of the purple bands are.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I can't remember if I've announced in blog-land yet that Alei is going to Uganda. She is going with the church in Colorado that Gabriel is interning at. I'm really excited (and jealous) that she is getting the opportunity to visit Eastern Africa. Uganda is truly a land of needs that surpass the average American's understanding. Linny at "A Place Called Simplicity" is actually in Uganda right now with a team. Alei will be traveling with a team that Linny's husband is leading in June.

If you have a moment, get some kleenex and read Linny's blog post yesterday - http://aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/2011/04/one-tiny-treasure.html and then today - http://aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/2011/04/weeping.html

Lord, break our hearts for what breaks yours!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Julia Good News and Tori Funnies

There are many situations around me right now that are serious and overwhelming; overall I have a lot less to say when I'm trying to process the real life swirling around me. I would like to note, however, that for whatever reason, Julia is having a really good week. She's only had one serious tantrum-crying session and that is because I made the 4th trip of the day to homeschool co-op leaving her in the care of Alei. The amazing thing is that she wasn't still wailing when I got home 10 minutes later. We are in the hold pattern for any new attachment testing while we try to obtain copies of the testing that we took her for last year. If you only saw the Julia of the last few days, you wouldn't even think she needs it. The only thing that I'm doing differently is really watching her food intake, trying to avoid preservatives, sugar, etc. I'm not going to assume that I have found the secret, but it'll be interesting to see if the trend continues as I continue the monitoring.

I started packing up Tori and Julia's winter clothes today to make room for the summer wear. Tori was helping me and I told her to put the corduroy pants in the rubber-maid container, but not the jeans. She asked, "What are the corduroy pants? The hairy ones?" A few days back when we were doing school, I handed Tori a pencil. Eventually the lead was wobbily and she told me, " I can't write with this pencil, it has a loose tooth." I love the things that they say and are thankful for the ones that I actually write down here, so they won't be lost forever!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Clothes Swap

It is so hot here today that I actually cranked on the AC to cool down the house before the kids go to bed. I made them suffer all day, because it just seems wrong to not have at least two weeks between the last heat run and the first AC run. Anyway, this morning I went down to the storage room and dug out a single pair of shorts for the three youngest children; then tonight after baths I headed down again to find them a pair of pajamas that weren't fleece or flannel. I think the time has come to pack up the winter clothes and bring out the summer.

Elijah's clothes are about 95% from my friend, Wendy. Wendy buys them for her son, Asher, then hands them off to Elijah, then they go back to her second son, Levi. This is an awesome arrangement for me, obviously, and we enjoy the clothes swap to get together. Here's Elijah with Baby Levi, who we met for the first time today. (They do live three hours away.)

After meeting Levi, Elijah was impressed enough to tell me that he wants two babies - a brown baby and a white baby!

Since our friends were here today, I didn't give Elijah a nap. One other time he made it OK without a nap, but not today. Here he is at 7:00, without dinner. Sweet baby, he'll get a good long sleep tonight.

Alyssa got to go home with Wendy's family for about 10 days, so the gap between visits will be much shorter than usual.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Solar Saturday

Thankfully the rain gave us a break enough to get the solar panels on the roof. JD had all the tracking already installed, so it only took about an hour for friends to help get three panels up and bolted on the back slant of the roof.

These solar panels are strictly for hot water; they are going to power the solar hot water heater that has been installed and hopefully turn our instant demand hot water heater as a rainy day only option.
It makes me nervous to even watch men on the roof; I'm just not a fan of heights!

Since Elijah wasn't allowed to climb the big ladder as he hoped, he had to find another exciting, semi-risky activity. He was quite pleased with his idea.

I'm looking forward to a break in the cold and rain to get planting areas ready.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Prayer Needed

Please be in prayer for Dwight Saunders; his wife is Linny at http://www.aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/. Linny and her daughter are in Uganda serving the orphans as scheduled in spite of Dwight breaking his ankle, being on crutches, and having several children to care for at home. Earlier today he went to the hospital in severe pain and found out that he has two blood clots, resulting from the ankle injury. Gabriel is on his way to their house now and I should hear more tomorrow, but please keep this precious family in your prayers!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Post I Don't Want to Write

We've been very excited about adopting again for quite a while now, as you know if you are a long term reader. We have always thought that we would start an adoption right after we got through the closing on our house. Now that the closing has come and gone, we've really devoted the last month to praying for some specifics in our next adoption. The month ended yesterday and we both knew that we are not to go forward right now. I'm not sure why, but we are currently having some challenging times with two children. (Poor Julia gets the blog coverage because she's young enough that she can't read, but she is actually the easier of the two.) Challenging is kind of an understatement at times; desperate is probably a more accurate description of how I often feel trying to navigate these two through life. We have been seeking professional help, and in one case, probably will always have to.

We really don't know if these two are the reason the Lord is directing us to delay an adoption or not. The reality is that we are planning on adopting children that require at least specialized health care, but quite possibly they may have attachment issues as well. Unfortunately, in third world countries, the physically sick are not valued and often receive even less care than the "average orphan," so we have to be prepared.

My brain is rather exhausted in the adoption research department, but we have learned a lot in the last month and I think we have a bit more direction when we re-visit beginning another international adoption in the future. And I really hope that we feel led to move forward in the somewhat near future - we aren't getting any younger!

God just never seems to be in as big of hurry as me!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sunday and Trees

Whant (Aunt) Deb is Elijah's star of the hour right now. He was so impressed when she slid in the seat by us at church Sunday and even more excited when she came over for Sunday afternoon. This picture captures his slight smile when he's just deep down happy.

Things got even better when Elijah woke up from his nap to find out that his Dad had arrived home from his weekend away and we were all out planting the fruit trees that have been patiently sitting in the drive-way. It was a lot of work planting because we dug the holes very large. The dirt pile on the right is the clay infested, inferior soil that we are blessed with in abundance. The pile on the left is dirt mingled with ash from our burn pile that we used to enhance the area around the tree. (Please no one write me and tell me that ash is bad for fruit trees - it's too late and I think I read it in a book :) I love how enthusiastic the little kids are for group projects outside. I need to buy more shovels for times like this since Tori went off pouting the times she had to give hers to someone else to use.

Elijah got right in the action. He didn't want to give up his chips, so he held them in his mouth while he dug.

We planted four apple, two peach and two pecan trees. I think I'm going to go buy two pear for the last two pre-dug holes. Then I'm going to move on to a berry patch.