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, February 27, 2012

Time Line and One More?

People keep asking about the time-line we have for getting Isabella home. There is a HUGE amount of variance based on the individual children's cases and the agency involved, but here is our rough idea based on everything going smoothly. 

JD and I have fingerprinting appointments for March 9th, but we thought until this morning that we had to wait about a month for an appointment for Gabriel and Alei (anyone over 18 in the home has to be done.) This morning, JD called and they are processing the "big kids" in hopes of us being able to take them that day as well. This is the last thing that we have on the U.S. side of the adoption until visas before traveling. In the meantime, our dossier is on step four or five of six stops before it heads to Ethiopia, separately than my immigration paperwork. 

After both of those items arrive in Ethiopia, we should be scheduled for our court date as soon as eight weeks. Court is the point we travel for the first time; so could be as early as the end of May (or months and months later, but we are focusing on best case scenerio.)

After we travel for a week, we come home without Bella and the wait between trips is about three months. There appears to be some that go as quickly as six weeks and some that drag on longer, but we are planning on three months. I imagine that that time will be the longest in the adoption waiting game. So, we are praying for all to go smoothly and for her to be home by the end of the summer.

As for the portion of my title "one more," you may remember that we did our home study for three children and really hoped to come home with two. Isabella was paperwork ready, so we would have to be matched with another child that also has the beginning of paperwork done in order to not delay her. At this point, the agency does not have any children within our range that have paperwork that has made it to America, but they are going to visit the orphanages on the Ethiopian side and see if there is one. Our range right now is that we asked for any girls to be under Julia's age and any boys to be under Elijah's age. We should know for sure if there is even a child to consider within a week or so. We know that this will be our only Ethiopian adoption, due to our ages and the Ethiopian recommendation that families have less than ten children when they begin, so it's two now or Bella will be the lone Ethiopian in our family.

(The good news is that we haven't aged or numbered out of Uganda or China yet.)

So, there's where we are in a nut-shell; we covet any prayers for Bella and our family during this time.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Although this is our 5th adoption, 4th international, we have never done a fund-raiser before. When we adopted from Liberia, we took out a $40,000 second mortgage; we paid on it for years, then re-financed it in with the house when rates lowered. We knew going into another adoption round that we had to do it differently. Thankfully, thanks to Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace, we actually have a surplus of money (snowball) every month that has gone to this adoption. (I think Dave would have recommended we pay off our house, but we feel called to do this adoption.) Since Ethiopia's cost has increased substantially due to making two trips and the reality that our adoption is flying along at top speed, we are still at the point that we need to raise money to supplement our "snow-ball."

I have a set up a simple coffee shop fundraiser online that is run by the coolest company - Just Love Coffee. While they are fair- trade coffee, insuring that the farmers are paid a fair and decent rate; the proceeds go to us and building wells around the world. The average price for a bag of coffee is $13 and we receive a check for $5, which is a much better rate than many fund-raisers. Would you please help support our adoption by purchasing coffee (that most people buy anyway) from our shop?

Thank you!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

We Finished

We managed to get a full day of school in and finish our downstairs project. It's amazing what I can accomplish on the days that I get to stay home. The boys now have lovely green carpet in their room. Granted it's not the color I would choose, but it's so nice to have carpet down on those concrete floors. 

James and Ben's room is right off the playroom, so it's just a continuation of the green we laid in there a few months ago. 

I also finished the linen closet; it will be nice to have another, but for now it's crammed in there. Alei told me that she read on Pinterest to put the sheet sets in the pillowcase and it worked nicely. When Alei mentioned it later, JD told us that is how it's done in the Navy. Who knew? All those years I was a Navy daughter and then a Navy wife, no one ever told me that trick. 

It sure is a lot more convenient to get a blanket now than digging down four rubber-maids. 

After cleaning, we still had a bit of time to bond with the hamsters - 

And admire Elijah's new shirt. 

My next down-stairs project is painting a wall and hanging all the pictures I have framed waiting. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Not Yet

 I wish I could post some finished pictures of my projects down-stairs, but I can't because I'm yet to get back to work down there. I have been focusing on a good week of school instead, although we did take time out this morning to clean the  hamster cage in an effort to keep the entire basement from smelling like hamster.

These are the pencils that I replaced in the pencil cup today. Ben sees it as a challenge to use the smallest pencil possible until I confiscate it and throw it away, before it gets stuck in the electric pencil sharpener. There was also not one eraser in sight, although I did find several thrown in the bottom of the cup along with a plastic penguin. Pencils are one of those items that I took for granted growing up as an only child (until 11). My children regularly have conflict over pencils. They argue over who had the pencil first is, who used up the eraser and who left in on the ground when I want it picked it up. There is more pencil drama in our house than I could have ever dreamed of as a child. (I at least have arrived at the point of realizing that conflict is an unfortunate part of large family life; the first several years I seriously wondered what was wrong with my children.)

When we aren't doing school, we are making food. It's really remarkable how much food we go through! I am naturally a thrifty person, but I don't have time to shop multiple stores, so I mainly stick to the Commissary and Costco and we are spending a decent mortgage every month feeding our growing brood. I don't think it's going to get any better, so I'm just thankful that we are able to provide so well for so many. There's no starving kids at our house and that is really one of the biggest blessings that we take for granted in this country.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Linens, Carpet and Snow

Although we moved into our house 3 1/2 years ago, there are many things yet to be done. It's definitely a down-fall of being your own builder. We have a small towel cabinet in the master bath, but the two linen closets have been empty shells down-stairs until now. This has been my "linen closet" - you can imagine how convenient it has been!

JD finished the smaller of the two linen closets. This one is in the hall, the larger one is going to be in the bathroom.

We moved this old armoire in a few years ago when it was left by a renter. The doors were broken off, JD wood glued them back together and I unloaded my scrap-book stuff into it. I got to thinking that since the last serious scrap booking I did was before Tori came home over five years ago that I probably didn't have to keep my stuff that accessible, so the armoire is turning into a blanket cabinet. 

While I was working downstairs, Moriah started helping the boys clean out their shelves. I decided that if they were going to clean out, we might as well lay the carpet that's been waiting for their room. I then had them unload their room into the hall-way (in my way). JD was blessed with the job of trimming the carpet (which made him feel important). This isn't our long term carpet, just some freebie that we cut to room size and laid down without padding or installing. 

Much of both jobs is left for tonight, so I'll have to post completion pictures later. We had to take a break this morning to play in the only tiny snow of the year and we are still plugging along at school this afternoon. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Julia and Elijah

Elijah and Julia - 

Elijah - 3 1/2                                                                          

Julia - 5 1/2 

(Next picture trip - Tori, Ben and James)


Friday, February 17, 2012

Good Morning!

I'm only not naming this post "It's a Glamorous Life" because I've used that title before - it would totally fit! I pulled myself out of bed at 5:40 to meet my friend at the gym. By Friday I'm pretty exhausted and don't really feel like going, but I go anyway. I got dressed and headed to the kitchen for my customary water and banana. As I rounded the corner, I heard James and Ben's voices in the living room. As I was about to send them back to bed, I discovered that they were up because Ben felt sick and they decided the best place to wait out the vomit was on the living room couch, far from a bathroom and without a bowl.

Once I set Ben up on the school couch, next to the bathroom, he started throwing up. The wild thing was that in between he acted like a hyper little kid and was jumping around the couch instead of acting sick. I'm yet to figure that out since I usually feel very bad between vomiting rounds!

As I was texting my friend to cancel on her last minute, Julia showed up to announce that she had wet the bed. I put her in the bathtub and headed down-stairs with the bedding. I decided to be efficient once I realized that Elijah's little 4-wheeler battery needed charging and slid out the back door to grab it real quick. Of course, I locked myself out and had to run around to the front in the dirt to get back in. I was thrilled to discover that JD hadn't locked the front door since he assumed I was heading out right behind him this morning. I envisioned having to beat on the front door for a while before someone heard me. 

By noon, James and Tori had joined Ben in the sick line-up, but by dinner they changed their minds, ate and went back to running around. I was planning on taking the youngest three for pictures, but left Tori since she was possibly sick. I did get cute pictures of Julia and Elijah that I will scan and post tomorrow. 

To hold you over in the picture department, I present my stupid, stupid cat, Lucy, who decided to take a nap on the turkey platter that was cleaned and awaiting putting away. I have a squirt bottle and I know how to use it, but it barely slows her down. 

Here's Elijah when I told him that he was going to have BARE feet in the picture; he immediately got excited and wanted me to show him the BEAR feet and asked if they had claws. When I tried to explain, he cried and requested that he wear the Pooh suit in the picture since Pooh is at least a bear even if he doesn't have claws. Turns out that the Pooh suit doesn't even have feet; this picture is Elijah analyzing if it is going to pass or he is going to engage in another round of crying for bear feet. (In the end, I distracted him with side-walk chalk.)


Some Saturdays I go to the gym, but tomorrow I am sleeping in as long as there is no vomit or urine to interrupt my plan. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Her Name

We signed, notarized and mailed our referral acceptance today. Addisalem is going to be Isabella Addisalem. Isabella is a root of Elizabeth and means God's Oath; it fits pretty perfectly for the child that we have waited three years for. According to my sister, who has language experience, we think Addis is flower and salem is peace; either way, I think it's a darling Ethiopian name and am keeping it. So, like many of our other children, she has a long name but we are going to use the nick-name Bella. 

(I also fixed my comment issues.  I had changed Blogger to my new email address, but had the comments still coming into my old address. So, if you haven't been able to get comments through in a while, feel free to try again.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's A Girl!

Our referral is here - our new child - #10 - she is a precious little girl! I am not allowed to show her picture until we pass court, but oh, how I wish I could! Her little smile is enough to melt the hardest of hearts. She just turned two a few days after Tori's birthday in January and her Ethiopian name is Addiselam. We will probably continue our adopting trend of giving her a first name and using her current name as her middle name. She is 18 months younger than Elijah. When I showed him her picture today, he said, "oh, I just wish she could come home right now." So do I baby boy; I could be on a plane in a matter of days if it were that easy! Alei cracked me up by saying, "I'm so glad she's cute; the rest of us are decent looking so it's nice to keep that trend." I have to say that I don't believe I have ever seen an Ethiopian that I didn't think was darling, but she really takes the cake.

We are so excited. I am amazed at the goodness of God and the road he has taken us on. The realization that he led us to know that we had a child in Ethiopia three years ago, but didn't give the green light until this November, shows how much he loves the orphan and the extent he will go to place them in a family. The orphan statistic is a huge number, but it's made up of sweet little faces like my new daughter, faces that deserve the love of a family! Our plan now if just to pray our paperwork through. We need to start with immigration; we need a fingerprint date and to get our homeland security paper out of the country. 

God is good and we are among the most blessed! (If you live local, I have a picture in my purse!)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Look Who We Found

The good news is that Alyssa found Chip Chip before the cats; she was just taking a leisurely stroll down the hall last night after being missing for over 24 hours. 

She was noticeably hungry and thirsty and crammed almost the whole food bowl into her cheeks. Later she ran on the wheel and it all came flying out of her cheeks; it made enough noise flipping around on the wheel that it woke up the boys.

In case you are wondering if I'm sticking to my threat to James that the hamster would no longer belong to him, yes I am. It is now Tori's hamster, but she is being kind enough to keep the name  James chose. James was warned on four different occasions in less than 24 hours to watch the ball and decided to not head the wisdom. I'm quite confident that we would have a repeat scenario in less than a week if it remained his pet. He is allowed to hold Tori's new hamster with permission. Ben will help Tori supervise hers when she gets it out also; Tori is pretty responsible but is just seven.  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Furniture, Camper and HAMSTERS

Although my adoption paperwork has gotten far more coverage, I have been plugging along in my effort to clean out, get rid of and make the house more organized. I have been selling lots of stuff on Craigslist, and buying a few pieces as well. Today I moved in the "new" dresser that I bought Julia. I paid a whopping $25 for the dresser and a matching night-stand. I took Julia's chest of drawers for the new child who is going to share a room with Elijah whether he or she is a boy or girl. 

Tori and Julia now have two beds and two dressers that were bought at four different times and none of them truly match. They are all generally the same color, other than Tori's green dresser and I think it all works fine. 

I put a camper on Craigslist that has been a thorn in my side for quite some time. A few years back, when we had to evict our night-mare renter from our home, he left behind a "fixer-upper" (piece of junk) pop-up camper. Once we took a look at it, I did not want JD to even bring it home. He had grand plans of removing the camper portion and turning it into a trailer to haul our ATV (that now doesn't even run, but that doesn't apply to the story.) I agreed on the condition that he park it behind the barn where I or anyone I know doesn't have to look at it, because I knew it would take him 10 years to ever actually do anything with it.  Anyway, he parked it behind the barn and it was all fine until we had a friend who wanted to borrow our other junky trailer that lived behind the barn. The camper was in the way, so he pulled it out front and center and parked it right where it's the first thing you see when you come down the drive-way. To make matters worse, we had several trees fall behind the barn so JD could not put the dump camper back until he takes down all the trees. So, this camper has been right there in front of everything where I growl at it each and every time I come up and down the drive way. I finally decided to put it on Craigslist as a "fixer-upper" and I've had interest. We had a man come today that claims he is coming back for it. It'll be my favorite $300 I've ever made when it sells!

I mentioned in my last blog that I got James and Ben hamsters from Wendy's neighbor. I also mentioned that the boys should thank me because JD is never the parent who thinks these ideas are a good idea! My theory was that the four oldest all had a turn having a hamster and it obviously helped shape them into the caring and compassionate people that they are today, so we better let James and Ben have a turn. (It also helped that they and the cage were free!) JD reluctantly agreed to let them have them. I lectured the boys on hamster care, primarily WATCHING them if they are out of the cage in any capacity. I also thoroughly went into the fact that the plastic balls they came with can come open and you have to watch them in that as well! 

Well, James, dear James, put his hamster in the ball, forgot about him and played a game boy. Low and behold, when he came up for air, the ball had cracked open and the hamster is no where to be found. What really gets me is the turn in the story that he looked for him a while, came and ate dinner when called, said NOTHING and then went back downstairs to continue playing the game. Finally, Ben came and alerted us to the situation. At this point, the hamster is still missing; neither people nor cat have found him. We tried setting lettuce baits around the basement last night, but Alei's dog, Toby, kept eating it. Tomorrow, JD is going to try and buy a few super-size live mouse traps. It isn't looking good, but I have already told Tori that if we find him, she has a pet hamster. James will have to grow up and move out before he owns another rodent. 

I'll keep you posted on "Chip Chip" the hamster...and thankfully, JD has been kind enough to not give me a huge "I told you so."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Driving for Fun

 Yesterday, I hit the road again, but this trip was all about fun. After Baltimore and D.C. for medical appointments within one week, we hit Richmond to hang out with my friend, Wendy, and her crew of kids. We ate, and played, at Chick Fil A for a few hours and then drug all the kids through Lowe's so we could check out some painting ideas together. We always swap stuff in the parking lot and this trip was no exception. The highlight was Wendys neighbor's hand-me-down hamsters for James and Ben. (Happy early birthday boys, it's not always easy to convince your father to let us have pet rodents!)

(Julia and Esther)

When we were packing up from our four tables at Chick Fil A to leave, I took a quick glance around. There were about six senior citizen couples that were eating and just staring at us like we were the dinner show. It doesn't bother either of us and we just laughed when Ben got a refill and came back to announce that the worker wanted to know if we were a day care. Just when you think big families are becoming more common, I have an experience that shows me people really are baffled.

                                                         (Alyssa and Elizabeth)

                                                            (Levi and James)

After a few weeks of paperwork and notarizing, it was fun to have a fun day. As far as adoption news, the agency told me that they would have the information I've been waiting for on Sunday. I hope...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Schooling at the Dentist

 I buzzed through you youngest five children's teeth cleanings this morning. Julia and Elijah both did great, although I had to hold Elijah again for the cleaning. They also played well in the waiting room during their siblings appointments.  I really like our dentist; he is an unmarried Chinese man who is very good with kids and interested in our large family. He commented about Elijah being the baby; I told him that position was soon going to be filled by a new child. He then asked if we were closet millionaires. Man, I wish that were true - it would make this adoption so much easier! 

Tori was the only one with a cavity. Guess who just got demoted from the "I'm big enough to brush my own teeth" back into the "Mommy brushes your teeth at night" category?

I made the boys cram in as much school in the waiting room as we could, because Alyssa and I get to head back this afternoon for our cleaning. Then I get a whole month break before filling and sealant appointments!

JD paid big bucks to have the dossier arrive this morning and they just informed me that it isn't there yet; I sure hope it gets there this afternoon or Fed Ex and I are going to be negotiating a partial refund. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Big Day - Bigger Day Coming Soon

 Today is a BIG, BIG day at our house and I don't even have a picture to prove it. JD and Moriah are at Fed Ex. this moment shipping our dossier overnight to the adoption agency. It is the end of my paperwork trail until time to travel - the end of ongoing medicals, background checks, endless training and notarizing until the cows come home. My last trip to the notary today to "tie" up the last few details was at least 10 more documents. The notary has pages and pages with our last name. Normally, the dossier makes six stops in America before it goes to Ethiopia, then hits the waiting pile to be matched with a child. In our case, we may already have a "soft" referral; hopefully, we will have an update on that Friday. 

Because I didn't get a picture of the packet heading out the door, here's my dossier file. I know this paper work frontward and backwards now; only a few months ago I read through the original 82 pages and felt like crying. By the grace of God, it's on my "big accomplishment of the last few months" list. 

Here's my rarely seen oldest son writing a paper (and eating the little guys gold-fish.) He never looked up and noticed that I started taking pictures of him. We'll see if he reads this post.

We are the first generations of man that actually expected to find happiness here on earth, and our search for it has caused such unhappiness. Peggy Noonan

Monday, February 6, 2012

Travel Clinic

We put in a long day at Bethesda Hospital today with the travel clinic. It's really a nice service to have such one-stop shopping for all our international travel needs. They look up the country you are traveling to and update immunizations and give you any needed medications. JD and I left with three new shots while poor Alyssa got four. We also were blessed with malaria meds and some other emergency medications. 

I am really ready for a break from all things medical, but it is not to be. We have a doctor appointment tomorrow, another Thursday and seven dentist appointments on Wednesday in between!

Friday, February 3, 2012

On the Road

Tori and I made our semi-annual pilgrimage to John's Hopkins hospital today so that they could tell us that she and her liver are still doing great. Today the Doctor said that her results are in the best 1% that she has ever seen.  It is actually always a pleasure to catch up with the doctor and nurses that cared for us four years ago when we did the treatment for Tori's liver damage; it's just a long day because of the drive. 

On Monday, a group of us are hitting the road for Bethesda's travel clinic. We have to get Alyssa started with any shot series that she needs to travel to Ethiopia, as well as the horrible Yellow Fever shot. Poor girl, that is one shot that you don't forget that you got for at least a week! Bethesda is really good about giving us antibiotics and any other emergency medicines that we could possible need while we are traveling.   

In the between time that I'm actually not traveling from hospital to hospital, we have really been enjoying the crazy February weather. It isn't every Feb. that the kids can eat on the deck with bare feet. 

Julia has blossomed into a great Kylie babysitter since Kylie has to be monitored all the time. Kylie really loves Julia, but on occasion seems to give me a look that silently looks like "rescue me." 

Elijah loves the song "Days of Elijah" that plays on my play list. He often sits near the computer and wants to listen to it. Yesterday he got his guitar to play along.

My favorite is at the end when the song says, "there's no God like Jehovah." Elijah sings "there's no God like a Joba" over and over. We desperately need to capture it on video before he learns to pronounce it!

It's so often the little things in life that bring the most pleasure. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Waiting and Working

I got word from the adoption agency yesterday that we are going to be waiting until next week (at best) to find out the information we are so anxious to hear. It is concerning a referral, so we are obviously excited beyond words. If you know anything about Ethiopian adoption, it is very early in the process for us to even have any hope of a referral, but that it due to the special need that we are willing to take. Hopefully, we'll know some details that we can share next week. (The bad news about Ethiopia is that I'm not allowed to put any pictures of our future child online until we have been to Ethiopia for court and the child is legally ours.)

While we wait for information, I am trying to play catch up around the house and cram in as much learning as possible. 

Another thing that is requiring some time and energy is our new pup, Kylie. She is as sweet as can be and great with the kids, but she has never quit running away the second the opportunity presents itself. JD and I spent several hours Saturday trying to install an invisible fence for her, but there are too many dead spots in our yard due to the cement basement walls and the huge mounds of dirt that are in the side yard. We finally gave up and are going to have to put in an underground wire version this spring. One more thing on the spring to-do list!

The second issue with her is that she decided after being spayed that she isn't house broken anymore. We have ruled out an infection issue and the vet says it's just behavioral. She will not go in Alyssa's room but feels free to use the rest of the house. This means she is either directly being held or is in her puppy play-pen in the kitchen. It's been really frustrating and I'm not sure what else to try to break her. 

Have a blessed Wednesday.