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, July 28, 2012

Double Birthday

Honestly, I think it's a great idea for large families to have two kid's birthdays on the same day. Since Julia and Elijah are close in age, we can make both of them quite happy with the same celebration. Although we are having the official birthday cook-out tomorrow, we had plenty of birthday fun yesterday also. Aunt Deb came the night before to be here for birthday morning. 

I hosted a non-birthday Norwex party, but kids came with their moms to play and we concluded with awesome cup-cakes that Alei's friend made them. Elijah's were Despicable Me and they were the hit of the day.

Julia's were very pretty, girly flowers.

I had to take Moriah to a Dr, appointment in the late afternoon, so we had the idea of getting Chinese food for dinner. I have never, ever gotten take-out Chinese for our entire family, so I picked a spot and headed in for negotiations on some large platters.  

Let's just say that the two men there did not speak English much better than I speak Mandarin. It was a comical game of charades, writing prices and counting with my fingers. A lady in line told me that there is usually a woman who speaks English, but she must have been out sick that day. Honestly, when they told me "sit, sit," I really had no idea what we were eating for dinner; I only knew I was paying $60 for it. It was one of those times that I could barely keep it together and finally lost it when I realized Moriah kept turning around to laugh. Once I started laughing, the cook started laughing also and we all three stood there laughing while the "cashier" kept rambling at me in Chinese, with large hand motions. I had no idea what he was trying to communicate to me. 

In the end, it was quite a lot of food for the money and we all enjoyed the unusual birthday dinner. Dinner was followed by presents and although it was getting to be bed-time, they were thrilled beyond measure. 

We got Julia a Leap-Pad; I'm excited about it for her.

Elijah got a new wagon; we are thinking it will be fun for him, Selah and Bella to pull each other and stuff around the yard.

We concluded with a round of Happy Birthday and one candle. We are going to have real cake and the correct number of candles at the cook out tomorrow night. (It may be an exaggeration to call Elijah's dinosaur cake "real cake"; it is my last attempt at cake decorating unless I take a class or something - it's an embarrassing mess of a cake.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lazy Days?

These are supposed to be the lazy days of summer, but my days are anything but that. We have a busy weekend planned to follow my "much more than average" stressful week. JD was up in PA with his Mom, who was in the hospital, the early part of this week, while I played the role of Mom and Dad. My dual role, coupled with our summer colds and coughs, my strained back (remember my storage room clean out?) and a few bad attitudes have created a pretty long week. 

Tomorrow is Julia and Elijah's birthdays! I have a large group coming to my house Friday and Sunday for different events and we are heading out of town for the day on Saturday. There is much cleaning to be done today, but first I had to can a few rounds of tomatoes. 

Our "salsa weekend" this year is going to be salsa Monday and Tuesday, because life has been to busy to devote a weekend to salsa. I'm going it alone, however, since salsa is JD's primary love language. 

Those orange tomatoes are Golden Boys and are delicious; they are, however, giving my tomato sauce a much more orange than red appearance. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Hair Post - LOCS

I actually finally finished Julia's locs on Saturday. I spent about 1.5 hours a day on them for around 20 days straight. Her locs are tiny micro-braids - there are somewhere around 500-600 of them! The idea of locs is that they are permanent and will stay indefinitely. In her case, they are so small that it really just looks like free hair. 

When the locs are wet, they are down to her shoulder in some places; when they are dry, they really shrink up.

We are going to be able to just style her hair with head-bands or bows or put it in pig-tails or bigger braids, much like you would curly, white hair.

Wendy is whipping up some little bands with flowers on them that will be so cute when we pull back just the fronts of her hair.

When I asked her to turn to the side, she did, then as soon as the camera snapped, she flipped to the other side like a mug shot. Poor kid, she has logged way too many hours of hair time in her six young years.

I'm so thankful to be done! Tori is ready for a new do (and no, I'm not locing her hair - it's a different kind of hair and I don't think it would work well.)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

How Do I Tell You This, Girls?

 Here are some pictures of the day that I sat Selah and Bella down in Ethiopia and broke it to them that they were not going to be the only two children. I say this jokingly because I can not speak their language, nor do they have any concept of parents, siblings or family. They understood we were "mommy" and "daddy", but after over two years in the orphanage, neither of them can have any understanding of what that really means. I'm sure they don't understand brother or sister either, but we went over the family picture several times showing them their "heits" and "wendems".

I went over the kids' names many times and they would proudly show me "mommy" and "daddy" in the picture.  

(The only reason they sat still for so long was the suckers!)

Here's my sweet baby #11 - that means she will have a ton of doting brothers and sisters. That is not going to be a bad place to be! 

Selah and Elijah are numbers 9 and 10 - it just isn't in yet who will be what number. Elijah is voting for Selah to be his little sister, like Bella. We will see...once the bone scan returns. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sometimes It Has to Get Worse

 Sometimes things just have to get worse to get better. When I started my storage room clean-out project, I decided that I wanted to move the shelves to allow for more Rubbermaid space. What I didn't realize is that my husband had the shelves bolted to the wall. Once I had unloaded them, I was determined to move them, so James and I worked until we had them dismantled and "remantled". The clean out took a full two days. 

Storage room mid-project -  

The view inside now - (I got three of these shelves from the local video store when they went out of business for only like $20 each.)

 The play-room during the project - 

The play-room now - (The playroom clean out stemmed from the storage room clean-a-thon and is thankfully just one more room finished.) 

JD was out of town for the two days I worked on this (otherwise I would have enlisted his help with the shelves). Once he came home, he suggested that we move the 3rd white shelf to the other side of the room and he could build a shelf that would hold about another dozen Rubber-maids. We will be revisiting that wonderful idea at some point.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

More Selah and Isabella Pictures

 I'm about to head out for six hours of oppressive heat at a swim meet, but wanted to post a few more pictures. This picture was as they were walking Selah and Bella towards us for the first time; it shows their personalities so clearly. Bella took off running, thrilled to meet her Mom and Dad for the first time. Selah was looking at us and processing it all, although it only took her a few minutes for her to start smiling and playing also. I often imagine how Julia or Elijah would react in this situation - I don't think there would be much smiling! (There are some huge differences in kids raised in orphanages!) This was also the first I was really sure Selah wasn't five - she is barely taller than 2 1/2 year old Bella and seems to about Elijah's age (of almost four).

This was lunch the first day. Selah had no problem eating her bowl of food (with her hands) but Bella didn't finish in the time the other kids did (there were two tables of six kids each in the eating room), so they showed up with a spoon and literally shoveled it in as fast as they could. You could tell Bella was accustomed to it as she just opened and swallowed as fast as she could. I'm just thankful they are being fed well!

After the first day, if we had the girls for meal time, they would just deliver their food to us and we would feed them. 

We spent as much time with them as we could, but there were so many trips away that they are never allowed to go on. It was so different from Liberia, because we hauled our adoptive children all over the country with us. Ethiopia only allows them to go to the embassy trip and then to the airport!

There will be more, but now I'm off to pack my cooler!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Isabella Truth Addisalem

Isabella means "pledged to God; God is my oath." Looking back, God was planting the idea of her in our mind before she was even born. He, obviously, has great plans for her. It has been a remarkable path to her and Selah and God has revealed Himself all along the way. We are so thankful to present our 11th child - 7th daughter - Isabella Truth Addisalem.

This is the first moment we met - 

She has to be the happiest, most easy-going two year old I have ever met. She was just happy with anything we did.

Cute, or what?

I can't wait to get her home!

This was our pre-approval picture for court.

And this wasn't staged...she just is that sweet.

Tomorrow I can show you the Selah and Bella pictures together.


 I had to make the 7 a.m. pool run to drop Moriah this morning that JD usually does. When I returned, this is what I found in my bed. I feel blessed to have such a sweet snuggle-bug that joins me in the early mornings (or late nights). I am blessed beyond most!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Waiting is Killing Me

I talked to the adoption agency - there is still no word in Isabella's MOWA letter. It is the final piece that we need for court to be complete. According to my recent guesstimation that really means nothing...it will be around two months after that piece of paper before we can hope to travel (give or take weeks or even months). It's so easy to say it's God's timing, etc, but sometimes I just feel like screaming from the roof; right now is one of those moments. So, if you feel led to pray for our adoption, pray for our MOWA (Ministry of Women and Children) letter to be processed. Then I can show you sweet, little Bella's face. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Finally Summer

 Friday was a big day around here, in spite of it getting no blog coverage. It was Ben's last day of math (thus the last official last day of the 2011-2012 school year). I know, it's way late, but better late than never, right? It was also Julia's last day of summer school, which was a wonderful program that was three hours a day for three weeks. My mind can switch to summer now, although I spent several hours today working on fall schooling plans. I need to call tomorrow and register Alei with her Liberty University online classes and I'm working on ordering Alyssa's books for her second year at Classical Conversations.

In the meantime, we had five baby chicks hatch the last two days. Here is Elijah analyzing the whole hatching process.

I started one more of my "adoption nesting" projects that I've been so anxious to work on. I ordered a dozen plastic shoe boxes, whipped out the the label maker and tackled the master bathroom cabinets. Imagine all this junk in here with only two boxes...yeah, I didn't take a before picture. It would have been too embarrassing. 

I think I'm going to start on the storage room tomorrow and I'm not taking a before picture of it either. A lot needs to leave that room to make it a comfortable storage space again. Oh, and hair...I have four more days of Julia hair.