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.

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.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Conversation With Elijah

I licked my finger and wiped the remnants of chocolate off Elijah's mouth as we were heading out the door. He scrunched his face and said, "What was that?"
Me: It's my special cleaning agent.
Elijah: Was it from your lips?
Me: Yes.
Elijah: Oooohhh, I'm not doing that! You wear makeup!

Me: I'll make a note of that. (I guess my special cleaning agent is only for messy little girl faces!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I'm so thankful when God allows things to be simple in life; it seems so often that things can be so complicated. Since Alyssa lost Charlie, her beloved little dog, we have told her that we would get her another dog when she was ready. Alyssa and I  decided to wait for my friend's little Yorkie to have puppies, but it just started weighing on me that she shouldn't wait that long. I told her that we could look, which isn't always easy when you want a small dog that is child friendly, likes other dogs, gets along with cats, doesn't kill chickens AND preferably already house broken. I was remaining flexible on the house breaking thing and the price, but was hoping for neither to be too stressful. We contacted several dog rescues and the reality is that most will not adopt to families that have young children, a few that do still require a lot of paperwork, vet records for all other animals and a few home visits. While I could do all that, it sounded like a major head-ache. We emailed about many, many dogs on Craigslist and scanning back, we found one that had been listed a few weeks ago. I told Alyssa that I'm sure it would be taken, but email anyway. The lady called and told us that she still had the FREE, HOUSEBROKEN Pomeranian and although she had a lot of people inquire, none sat right with her and she just feels that Alyssa was the right one! So, as long as nothing happens, we will be making the trip  on Saturday to pick up Alyssa's new little buddy. She's a Pomeranian and already named Kylie, which is a name we all love. 

I'm really excited for Alyssa and anxious to meet Kylie. 

Monday, November 14, 2011


Gabriel  signed up for classes at the local community college today; he brings the grand total to three people in our house currently enrolled in college classes.

It's been really great having him home (and I'm not just saying that because he does children drop-off and pick-ups for me.) It's really nice that the little people get this extra time to get to know their big brother after he spent all last year in Colorado. 

These are the times I really feel the age span of my children - I did Hooked on Phonics today and then ran out the door to sign papers at the college. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Still Doing Soccer

 I thought yesterday was the final two soccer games of the season, but no, James and Ben had a make-up game this afternoon and have one more next Saturday. We generally do not participate in any Sunday sports, but this game was on our way home from church at just the right time, so we stopped for pizza, ate at the park and then attended their game. 

Elijah loves the playgrounds; he is really devastated when it's time to leave each and every time.

It was pretty chilly outside, but Julia kicked off her church flats to run wild in the mulch. 

Today's game wasn't as impressive as yesterday's when Ben scored nine goals, but we still enjoyed it. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Shots of Today

We are really enjoying the nice fall weather, so today I got my camera out to document it. First, however, I need to show one picture of Julia and Elijah with their severely over-due birthday cake. We lit five candles on one side and three on the other and they were quite happy.

Our table area has a transformation - the Amish benches that we ordered a few months ago came in. We have been through so many cheap chairs over the years that we thought these would last the years better. I already realize how much easier it will be to vacuum under the table because the vacuum fits under them. Moving 12 chairs out and back was always the worst part of vacuuming. 

These cheap NY mugs ($2.50 each) were the only souvenirs I bought my children when we went to NY city. I think it should be enough to take your children on a trip without having to buy them something from there; anyway, when I saw these, I knew it would help the winter go more smoothly. I was tired of making children hot chocolate and they would argue over which mug was theirs and that someone took a drink of theirs, (problems adults just don't seem to have.) So, everyone now has their own color mug and it's already decreased the hot chocolate confusion. 

Now out to the nice weather - we got this sturdy trike at the thrift store for $5; it is exactly like the ones that Elijah loved so much at the pumpkin farm. Two of the tires are not staying inflated, so I'm going to have to hunt them down, but I think he'll be able to ride it through the grass once he can reach the pedals well. 

The frost killed off my pumpkin plants, but my broccoli is still growing nicely. See those little heads starting to grow? I'm definitely planting a lot more of it next fall because it's been so easy to grow and it's so easy to freeze. 

Elijah and I followed the guineas around for a while and tried to get a picture of the two babies that the momma guinea hatched herself. They are so cute running behind here everywhere, but they bolt when I try to get close enough for a picture. 

Here's a picture of Lincoln dog. He is posing in front of an eye-sore in the side yard that I think needs to come down. It was a "house" that Moriah and Alyssa built years ago, complete with plastic kitchen, but has been abandoned for the last few years.

I'm including this picture to demonstrate how Elijah climbs everything - and I mean everything! We did an ER run about a week ago to x-ray his foot to make sure it wasn't  broken after he fell off the front flower bed,  but it really hasn't slowed him down much. 

The kids have been playing soccer everyday. I think two goals would be a great group Christmas present. 

I hope that you are enjoying the fall as much as we are; soccer ends this weekend and I'm hoping it stays nice enough for a while to do some outside activities.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Craziness and My Pet Peeve of 2011

This weekend has to be the busiest of the year. We had our entire Bible study group and their families here on Friday night for a pot-luck and bon-fire. Today we are having a very, (very) late Julia and Elijah birthday party. In between those two events, my children had about six other events which kept me running like a crazy woman all day yesterday. By evening I was stressed and exhausted and announced that no one was adding anything to next weekend's schedule, which is currently just the last two soccer games of the year. 

Speaking of soccer, I don't know why this season has seemed so long and miserable, especially since Gabriel did all of the boy's practice runs for me and a few of the games, but it has. I did not sign anyone up for indoor winter soccer but am thinking that next year we may skip fall soccer altogether and just let everyone play indoor soccer since it's not interfering with our fall outside projects and it's played much closer to our house. Poor Tori wants to play so badly but I couldn't stand to even try to add it to our schedule this fall. 

So, here's my pet peeve of the year...and I think it's more than legitimate. In fact, it made me so annoyed that I am labeling it "this is what is wrong with Americans." Moriah played on a different league this fall that is an all girls league instead of our normal county league. So, I payed more to sign her up and drove farther to the games; it was worth it since we know and trust the coach and the practices were actually closer to our house. So, one of the moms on the team (don't know her) sent out an email that said that she was working on what gift we could all order to reward the girls for playing. What? Seriously? I pay, drive and provide snacks and now I'm supposed to buy my daughter a $37 monogrammed bag to reward her for playing soccer! (To make matters worse, I believe the mother sells for the company that she choose to have us all order our $37 EACH bag from so that she gets a % of it.) Well, guess what? I'm not doing it. I think Christmas is approaching and if Moriah is really dying for a $37 monogrammed bag, she'll have to put it on her list. Quite frankly, I think her father and I deserve the gift since we were the ones who sacrificed to allow her to play soccer like she desired. No wonder people think they can only afford two children; it's true with this mindset!  I'm scheduling my talk with Moriah about why she may be the only one who isn't presented a bag at the party (because we also have to throw them a party to thank them for playing soccer!) Get a grip people!

I'll end with a positive; the deck now has rails and no one fell off of it the few months it didn't. The wood needs to cure a few months before painting and putting on the screen, so it may be early spring when JD and I do that. 

There's one white rail up also - a few more days and it'll be child safe other than the small stair section.

I guess my next post will be party pictures!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dear Orphan

I read the following on two different blogs today and loved it, so I clicked over to read the 
author's blog and was thrilled to find that it was a lady that I took pictures for in Liberia. 
She was in process of adopting a 10 year old girl when we traveled so we took pictures 
and took measurements for her. She is a remarkable lady who has adopted several 
Down children from around the world. This sure makes me think! 

Dear Orphan,

I saw your picture today and heard about your plight. Your face is so beautiful and sad, 

and it tugs at my heart.

I hear you don't get enough to eat, and that there isn't always medicine if you get sick. 

You sleep in a room with many children, but you still feel alone.

You have never had anyone wish you a "Happy Birthday", give you a gift, or even sing 

you a lullaby goodnight.  No one has ever told you about Jesus or that He loves you.

I wish we could adopt you, but....

It is such a long way to travel, it would cost so much money, and it involves so much 

Our home isn't very big, and we already have children. Adding another child to our 

family would mean they would have to share a bedroom as well as our love and 
What if you have health issues or special needs that are not yet diagnosed?
You might have a hard time adjusting to a family after never knowing one, or have 

"issues" from years of neglect, malnutrition, mistreatment, or abuse.

I'm sorry, it just feels like too much of a risk and sacrifice.  Adoption doesn't really

 feel like our "calling".  Maybe there is another family....

Written by Amy B.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Eggies and Such

 I have been meeting a friend at the Y most weekday mornings at 6:00 a.m.; since I'm more of a night owl, I thought it would be rather painful, but it has been great overall. The frustrating thing is that Elijah has woken up at 7:15 like clockwork most of the summer, which is why my plan was to be home by 7:00, but now he has started getting up earlier before I get home and making the rounds to get his sisters up. I have really prayed that he would just sleep until 7:00 and this morning I came flying back into the house at 7:03 and he got up at 7:08! I then let Moriah and Alyssa sleep until 9:00 to make up for their earlier in the week 6:30 wake up calls. 

Today was so beautiful that I let the kids play outside this morning while I baked. I finally bought the ingredients for Ezekiel bread at a Mennonite grocery store on the way to the mountains and made it this morning. (I made it in a cake shape to try and fool the kids that it was a treat instead of bread.)

I also had several rotten bananas waiting in the fridge that got turned into banana bread. 

My kids love boiled eggs and I continually get frustrated that the shells often sticks to them when I boil them. While I've tried all sort of suggestions to prevent it, I read that it really comes down to how old the cheap eggs are before they hit the store. Anyway, I bought these "eggies" that you crack the eggs into and boil them. Lets just say, they don't get a great review from me. First of all, they have four parts each that you have to assemble and oil, then a few broke open in the boiling water.

Lastly, the eggs come out kind of half egg shaped. I only bought one set of six to try them out and I'm glad I didn't buy another few sets like I really would have needed to use this method. After two batches of eggies, I tried heavily salting the water with straight eggs. 

My baking break was fun, - too bad we didn't end up with any dinners from my time, so now I have to make dinner.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


 My blog is slightly neglected, as is my checkbook, laundry and cleaning. I have spent the majority of the last two days matching and submitting an  enormous pile of medical bills and their statements. We  have a supplemental insurance that often requires us to pay and then submit it to be reimbursed and we are severely behind on submitting them. After this round, I'm vowing to keep up with it better!

JD and I did go away for the weekend; I considered not going because I didn't want to leave Alyssa so shortly after losing Charlie, but she was fine with my sister. The kids all did well at home with Deb and JD and I really enjoyed the peaceful quiet. 

It started snowing right after we arrived at the cabin and by morning there was five to six inches on the ground. It was enough to keep us from hiking up the mountain, so we spent one afternoon in the historic part of Staunton, VA, which was full of history and very enjoyable. 

I am going to get back to work, but will leave you with a picture of my crew dressed for the harvest party we went to. Tori was supposed to be a cute clown, but the wig kind of made her a frightening clown. I think we'll purchase a new wig before anyone else plans on being a clown. I generally don't spend money on costumes, so it forces the kids to get creative. Tori's clown costume was made by my sister when she was six for a clown parade at her school and the Indian costume Moriah wore I made over 20 years ago for spirit week my freshman year of college!