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, August 31, 2012

Missing Mind

My friend reminded me today of the saying on Pinterest, " My mind is missing, I think the kids stole it." That sums my last two days up well...if I had TV cameras following me, I'd have awesome ratings because people love to see casualty after casualty. I won't bore you with all the things, I'll just jump to the big one of the day; and it's OK, I expect you to laugh. I left this morning for 20 minutes to meet a friend and pick up chicken food she had bought me from the Amish. I came home to complete chaos, the most emergent was Tori having another nose bleed all over the front porch. While I tried to get it to stop, and even made a call to the nurse, I was also trying to sort out the grievances that were flying at me child after child who wanted to make sure their counterparts were dealt with justly. After all the blood, tattling and lecturing, I came in and took a few of my vitamins out of the containers and put them on the counter. Of course, I was interrupted and interrupted and interrupted until I was reminded that Magnum needed his medications, since he got neutered yesterday. I got his meds out, laid them on a different counter and told Ben to go and feed him.....You know where this is going, don't you? Sure enough, after several more interruptions, I took all three of Magnum's prescriptions instead of my vitamins. For whatever reason, it hit me the second I swallowed them and I had to call poison control. Turns out, I'm not going to die, she just told me that I may throw up due to the one but to drink a lot of liquids. I took that advice and downed two cups of water and then a big old Pepsi. Thankfully, I feel fine.

Good old Magnum, I had decided we were just going to live through all the naughty puppy behavior and he will turn into a really nice dog in about 18 months.

Then last night we discovered many "issues" like this - which isn't a real big deal since the chair is not valuable.

Here's the big deal...a really big deal; Magnum decided to snack on the new screens of the screened in porch. It looks like he is going to lose his porch privileges.

I'm looking forward to the school routine that will start next week, although I'm far from done with my "summer" work.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blood, Sweat, Barf and Glue

I have had one of those days that is complete frantic from the beginning. I had the alarm set for 7:00 to get Magnum to the vet to be neutered. I woke up at 6:50 and was attempting to get in the shower before anyone knew I was up. On my way, Julia came in to tell me that Tori's nose was bleeding. This was one of her worst - there was a trail of blood from her bed to the kitchen with an entire puddle in the hall. It took about 15 minutes to get it to stop, while I cautioned Julia and Elijah to "get away from the blood trail" 100 times. Once I got it stopped, I had to clean the floor (thank goodness for the new hardwood floor), clean the bedroom carpet and strip her sheets; I then had exactly 15 minutes to get four kids dressed, fed and out the door for the 30 mile trip to the vet. 

I skipped the shower (and the makeup...and the hairbrush) and piled the kids and dog in the car, complete with bananas to hold them off for breakfast. On the way, I remembered that I had to have cash, so I pulled into the Sheetz ATM. While I was in there, Magnum threw up all over the seat and James. We attempted to clean the seat with napkins and set off again. Once we got Magnum dropped off (late), we rushed home in order to have a full 20 minutes to get to the elementary school open house; we had not dressed appropriately, eaten or gotten the school supplies together that I was supposed to take. I woke up Alyssa to compile and label the school supplies while I took a two minute shower and threw on whatever clothes were abandoned on the edge of the bath-tub (yet clean). 

The news is that I am sending Tori  to school with Julia for this year. In my attempt to do what I think is actually in each child's best interest, balanced with the reality that I am going to spend the majority of my fall at doctors with the new girls, it did not seem wise to try to cram in Tori's schooling. I feel like Tori has really been academically slided in the shadow of James and Ben for the last few years. I keep the boys on track 95% of the time, because they really require it for peaceful living, but Tori is not very academically motivated, yet plays nice and quietly, so there is just too much of the time that I realize she is not reaching her potential. I made a huge attempt last year to prioritize her education and she still did not receive as much of my time as she needed to excel, so I'm being realistic that if she didn't get it last year, it's not going to happen this year. Depending on how well Selah and Bella adjust, this may be the only year Tori goes to school. If she does really well, and I can get her with the 3rd grade teacher that I know and love, she may go two years. I am really not open to leaving either of them beyond 3rd grade and hope to be exclusively homeschooling again in a few years. A tough reality for me is that no one can successfully home school children that are home when the mom/teacher is not and adopting special needs preschoolers from Africa isn't going to allow me the luxury of being home a lot this fall. 

My plan for the boys is to weigh how long I am going to be at each appointment and how far I have to drive appointment by appointment to determine if they stay or go. It may be worth taking them on the highway trips so that we can listen to CDs and do drill work; other than that, there is a lot of school work they can actually do without me being present and I can go over with them when I get home. Beyond them, I have Moriah and Alyssa as home school students, although Alyssa receives a lot at Classical Conversations and Moriah is attending Algebra and Honors English at the public high-school, still listed as a homeschooler. 

I feel good about my decisions for this year, especially in light of my feelings that I wrote about HERE when I first sent Julia to school last year. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shopping Room

 I am driving the largest reasonable family vehicle on the market. The problem is my 15 passenger van has zero cargo room, unless you take the back seat out; and with my family size, I have to have the back seat in at all times. The shopping room answer thus far was been to move the booster kids to the back and pack the front seat or two with groceries. I don't move Elijah because it's too difficult to buckle his car seat in way back there. My new issue will be Selah and Bella will both have Elijah type car seats and there won't be near as much packing room around them all, (and they step on the food getting in and out.)

Yesterday I took only half my children on my Walmart and Commissary run. Here's the front seat  packed at the Commissary.

Seat #2 packed at Walmart - there are also bags on the floor. 

Seat #3 and 4 - Tori's seat was packed also and let me tell you, it's not exactly convenient to load and unload from the back, back seat. We had the little back cargo area filled by only two cat food bags and the stroller. I now understand why Michelle Duggar takes her vacation trailer grocery shopping. It would be much easier than packing around the kids in the van and having them step on the bread. I'm only about a month away from leaving the kids at home or shopping that way. I'm pretty sure the base police will make me pull over, open the trailer and make me answer lots of questions for security purposes before they will even let me on the base - that will be rather embarrassing. 

How do other big families do this? I'm thinking most must leave the little guys at home, but mine love to go and yesterday they were all so good for a full three hours of food shopping! (No, that isn't always the case!)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mountain Scare

I never updated the blog to let you all know that I headed to PA with my husband, because his mother was admitted to the hospital and not doing very well. We packed and headed out of town in only about an hour on Saturday. Thankfully, Aunt Deb was back in town and already babysitting for a marriage conference we were attending at our church when we got the call to come. We headed home, threw some things in a suitcase and set out on the six hour drive to PA. All was well on the trip up, and Grandma is doing much better after strong IV antibiotics. Thankfully, they even pinpointed the root of the infection and have a plan to prevent it in the future; her immune system is still weak due to Chemo drugs. 

Our crises happened on our trip home in the mountains of West Virginia. We had on and off rain on the trip north and south and took the mountain drive to avoid the DC belt-way, as well as enjoy the pretty view. We were coming through a pass in West Virginia; it was a narrow two-lane highway, complete with a drop on my right (as a passenger) and a mountain on the left. It had been raining, but had recently stopped and the roads were still wet. Although we weren't speeding or didn't swerve, one minute we were just driving and the next minute the car was spinning. While it was all over probably in a few minutes, it seemed like an eternity and many things logged in my brain. I realized the second spin that the car was picking up speed and heading in the oncoming lane towards the mountain. I was actually praying to hit the mountain because it seemed like such a better scenario than going over the guard-rail on the cliff side of the mountain. In that few moments of complete out of control spinning, I really didn't think we were going to come out of it alive and my only thought was despair at leaving the children parent less. I remember thinking that this must be what happens that causes the little crosses you see along the roads where people die. The spinning ended when the front tire hit the small ditch about a foot from the rocks of the mountain and just stopped; I braced for the air-bag to hit me in the face and it didn't even go off. Within seconds, I realized there was a car coming straight for my door, but it swerved and went around. Before another car even came, JD got the car out of the ditch, across the street and down a bit to where there was pull-over room. We just sat there and then I sobbed; we both really didn't think we were going to live, much less walk away uninjured. We are feeling incredibly blessed today!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Julia, Clothes and More

Yesterday, I loaded the six "younger" kids at home and headed to the Chick Fil A that is half way between Wendy's and my house. The goal was to retrieve Julia, who had been there since Saturday, and pick up clothes that Wendy is donating to Selah and Bella from Esther's collection.

Elijah was so happy to see his friend Esther - 

Julia, who is Julia, was happy to see us but also pouted that it was time for her adventure to end and come home. She refused to join her friends in this picture.

This is Alyssa with her beautiful friend, Elizabeth, and baby Levi - 

We always have "business" to attend to in the parking lot. We usually have at least one person ask if we are a day-care. I always wonder who runs a day-care with several teenagers during school hours, but I just answer that we are just two families meeting. (I really enjoy the astonished looks we get, and Wendy likes to throw in that only six are hers.)

"Have no fear, Wendy is here" is the reality of my little girls clothing situation. Since I have given away all of Tori and Julia's clothes as they have outgrown them, I had nothing for Selah and Bella. It is such a blessing that Esther is also wearing a size 3 and Wendy is willing to share them. Wait until my live models come home to show you how cute little girl clothes can be! Alyssa folded and put them all in their dressers last night. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Love, Love, Love This Age

I love the age Elijah is; he can be exhausting, but he's such good entertainment! Here's a glimpse...

Yesterday we walked in the kitchen to see Elijah like this - 

When I asked him what he was doing, he told me that Kylie wanted his do-nut, so he was keeping it safe. 
Later in the day, Elijah was wearing his dinosaur suit and making mischief of one kind and another (remember Max in Where the Wild Things Are?)

He told me to snap a picture of his creation.

 Unfortunately, even a little dinosaur gets tired.

And even when we wake him up after two hours, he falls back asleep.

Today, Elijah told me that he was adopting a baby (note his pregnant belly), which proves the whole pregnancy/adoption thing isn't completely clear in his mind. 

He then whipped it out of his shirt and told me that he loved his new baby. 

He has also transformed into a dinosaur again, but now he is a fire-fighting dinosaur that can squirt water with his tail.

Unfortunately, he "broke" his leg fighting the fire and required a "cast". 

Now he is off at his friend's birthday party with Gabriel and it is rather quiet here. (He helped Moriah draw the card.)

The entertainment is only going to triple with Selah and Bella!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Road Trip Baby Shower

The girls and I hit the road yesterday for my dear friend, Wendy's baby shower. I took the van, all five girls and we headed about two hours away for the shower, and then on another hour to pick up a surprise at Wendy's house. I was proud of my girl's creation...Moriah, Alyssa and I went shopping for the items and then the girls all made Wendy this diaper cake. 

Can you see the new baby's name on the cake?

Here's a shot of the guest of honor opening lots of cute, girly gifts. 

Here's Wendy's daughter, Esther, with Tori under the table. 

Here's a shot of the host. She is a very special woman that we went to church with years ago. In fact, she was also Gabriel and Alei's preschool teacher. I would like to find the picture of Alei with her on her first day of preschool at three.

This is the surprise that we made the extra trip down to Wendy's house for - any guesses?

Since it was a girl event, we had to brave the lurking spiders and load it ourselves.

I love this picture of Wendy, Rachel (and Ruth.) They may live three hours away, but we will see them again on Wednesday since Julia is at their house until then. (In fact, she may want to meet earlier.)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rearranging Chickens

 Several times a year we have to rearrange our chickens. We have a wonderful Amish chicken coop that has two large sides that go into separated fenced yards. We also have a third section that is for chicken feed and a chick brooder cage. Chickens have a habit of not being accepting of other chickens that they don't know or are different sizes, so we always separate new chickens or smaller chickens. This morning, this momma that has been hoarding as many chicken eggs as she could gather (most of them not hers), hatched her first baby. We went out to move all the adult chickens to the other side, so her baby won't get picked on.

This Americana rooster was hatched from our spring eggs. Although he wouldn't look at the camera, he is huge and isn't he gorgeous? The good news is that he is currently a nice rooster - they aren't always!

While we were out, we also moved the brooder babies out into the coop. We closed the outside door on their side because they could still fit through the fence, but it gives them the chance to start pecking in the mulch.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Preparing for School

 I spent yesterday ordering school curriculum and cleaning out the school room. (Pardon Elijah's lack of pants.)

I cleaned and organized every basket and shelf. (This was definitely a during picture.)

I figured out some new uses for some old items and am still loving my label maker.

I am trying to incorporate preschool work room and supplies, since we will be schooling with three little people this year. I am also hoping that Selah and Bella don't share Elijah's love of standing on things. In the below picture, he was being "Super Why" and flying onto the couch.

Today, the clean room attracted the gymnasts.