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.

Sunday, January 31, 2016


I  successfully found my way from the airport to the subway, and then into the general station for the hop on/hop off bus tour. The tour was rather disappointing as they gave random facts, but most of the tour time was in silence. They also ignored the Jewish ghetto wall and museum that I was most interested in. It was still more interesting than sitting in the airport however, so I'm happy I did it. 

I would go broke living in the land of water closets! They are $1 for each potty stop and always required carrying my suitcase down a flight of stairs. Where I bought lunch, I thought I might get a break, but it was still a flight of stairs and fifty cents. (I guess technically, that's a bit of a break!) I'm back at the airport to begin the all night flight to Ethiopia; I'm tired. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Oh, No, No, No

The night before last, as I was preparing for my early morning trip to DC, Alei made a surprise visit home. I heard her voice from the kitchen as she came through the living room. When she rounded the corner, however, all I could say was, "no, no, no - I leave for Ethiopia this weekend!" Alei, holding a beagle, quickly assured me that she was going to take care of this stray. This doggie showed up at a friends neighbor's house and had been living in a kennel in the backyard for six weeks while they unsuccessfully tried to find her previous family. Alei felt so sorry for her that she volunteered to take her.

Elijah photo bombed my picture, then looked at it and said, "uh, lets' try that again without the glasses"
 Alei gave her a bath, borrowed a kennel, and took the pitiful,  nervous dog home. Alei isn't going to keep her, as beagles need a fenced yard and a more available owner, but she will be a nice pet for someone as she appears to be  house broken. Alei, being a softy, let her sleep next to her bed, rather than in the kennel. 

I tried to name her Gladys but Alei didn't love it; it's better if we don't name her anyway!


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Back to the Barnyard and On to DC

One thing is for sure - I will be better prepared for animal provisions before the next snow storm! In previous years, when the water froze, we just hauled it frequently from the house. That so doesn't work for a cow that appears to drink 30-50 gallons a day. Secondly, this was the first year we decided to do the round bales of hay in the field. That was all great until it snowed two feed and even if we could have dug the hay out, it was frozen. Thankfully, we had a back up bale in the horse trailer, but it was not fun ripping off large chunks of it frozen each day to feed the animals. Once the feed store opened, I went and bought two compressed bales for the tune of $17 each. Since the animals eat one a day, I desperately need to have an emergency supply in the barn from the Amish for $7-$8 a bale. 

I am typing this blog while I wait for my passport in DC. I was not super excited when they cancelled my Monday appointment due to the storm.  Since it was last Thursday when they cancelled, I asked if I could come that day or Friday before the storm hit. They told me that there were no walk-ins and they couldn't get me in until today. They also reassured me that flying out 48 hours later wasn't a problem. They told me to be here by 10 for my 1:30 appointment. Being an over-achiever, I arrived at 8:30 and was about 50th in line. Their first announcement was that they were on a three hour delay and weren't opening until 11. Their second appointment was their staff had "on optional work day" so they may not be able to open at all, unless staff decided to come that day. It didn't sound very encouraging. Much to my dismay also, they were organizing by appointment people and walk-ins. I would have waked in a full two weeks ago if they had told me that I could! 

Once they opened, it was rather chaotic. At first they said they would only see people flying out today or tomorrow. The clamor from the crowd added anyone with an appointment. Well, that's logical since the appointment should work for something. Once they opened, I made the cut for having an appointment and waited through about four lines. There were plenty of workers by 11 so I'm assuming they are paid by the hour instead of salary. 

Once mine was processed, she asked me if I could return tomorrow to
pick it up. I told her that I lived two hours away and needed to just wait today. She went off to her supervisor and returned to tell me that her supervisor would only approve that if I lived over 100 miles away. I started to tell her that it was close, but I have a lot of children and my husband was out of town. She looked at her computer screen and announced, "oh you live 131 miles away, we are good." I don't think it's that far but I'm not one to argue. I'm now waiting until their early closing hour of 3:00 and I should be able to pick up my passport shortly before closing. I am hoping nothing goes wrong in the final processing! I'm the meantime, Starbucks didn't have any tables available, so I'm sitting in a nearby hotel lobby that I parked in the garage underneath. I guess I don't look homeless, since no one has questioned my sitting here. I am quite  tired, however, but I guess if I took a nap, then I may looks slightly homeless. I wish I liked coffee. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Blizzard Time

 I was one of the crazy people out driving as the DC blizzard rolled in. I did buy water, etc, but I was also just trying to pack in a therapy run and errands before I leave for Ethiopia. I do not know how to explain Walmart, but I stood in the longest return line ever; I am not sure how the snow affected returns, but it was worse than after Christmas.

The most stressful part about this storm is that DC has delayed my emergency passport appointment from Monday all the way until Thursday. My plane ticket out is Saturday, so I am prepared to sit there until it is handed to me over being mailed. I'm sure it's going to be a long day; I just hope that I am successful!

The cold is rather challending with the animals. We do not have freeze-proof water options so we currently haul lots of water from the house each day. Our other plan is to build a cow shelter in the field, but since that hasn't happened, I have to bring Mooster in the barn at night. That means I have been locking Chewy the donkey and four goats in one stall and Mooster and Vinny, the stud goat, in the other stall. Today we cleared out the food/milking stall and relocated the goats to it. So Chewy and Mooster have their own stalls and the goats are together in the third. It seems like it will be a much more workable arrangement. The highlight to the animals is the night time feed when I give them grain and a large pine tree. I can not even tell you how thankful I am that we are surrounded by 100 acres of pine trees, because the animals love them and they are natural de-wormers. Mooster will actually pass on the grain to start on the tree and that is saying a lot since she acts crazy when the grain comes out.

 The downside of keeping about 14 roosters to roam and eat bugs is that they all moved into the barn since the cold hit. One has taken up residence on the pressure washer handle every night, another in Elijah's motorized jeep seat and several around the wheel barrow sides. At least they are quiet, while the guineas come squawking in and out at ear-shattering decibels. I have started feeding them all chicken feed and corn in the evenings as well, so they just run around your feet while you are trying to tend to the "real" animals.

I remember well how nice the barn was a dozen years ago before I had animals to stink it up, but I am really thankful that they have such nice accommodations for days like this. Much like the children, they don't show gratitude, but I would worry about them in lesser conditions.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Blog Book and Boys

For several years I have planned on printing this blog into books for the kids to look back and read like a scrap book. Unfortunately, I also have an older blog out in blog land (on Xanga) that I can not figure out how to do anything with since the book companies do not service them. While I contemplate some solution for that, I printed the first one from Our Plans Multiplied. I hoped to do the entire year of 2010 in one book, but the max pages only got me through nine months. I am planning on ordering a book from time to time when they have a good sale. The kids have enjoyed looking at it, although there are posts about the struggles of raising some of them that concern me to have them read. (This post will be one of them.)

Here is what has stuck with me after flipping through and reading different posts - February 02, 2010 - "Discouraged in the Land of Parenting Little Boys." I don't want to quote the whole thing but it listed the frustrations of living with James and Ben for one week. It consisted of Ben pulling the fire alarm at the Y, resulting in 250 people being evacuated (150 from the swim team). It went on to the tales of stolen food, including sandwich bags packed with rice, that resulted in one boy getting sick and the other just making a mess on the carpet. The concluding story was James leading and LOSING his little sisters in the woods and Ben swinging a large shovel and gashing James' eye brow open. Ben then came in and started school like nothing happened while James came back to the door with his face covered in blood requiring medical attention.

Since this was almost exactly six years ago, when the boys were 8 and 9, you would think we could look back and laugh; but honestly, things aren't much different. Day after day we are still dealing with impulsive actions carried out with little regard to the consequences. Stolen food would be a daily issue if I didn't have a locked storage room for the high theft items. At the age of 14 and 15, the boys require supervision. We do not leave them home alone, nor would ever put them in charge of a younger sibling. There are a variety of reasons they suffer from the challenges they face, all related to the traumatic beginnings  - one in foster care in VA and the other in the Bush of Liberia. Unfortunately, I could frequently write a new blog post and title it - "Discouraged in the Land of Parenting Big Boys." And if I am going to be perfectly honest,  it is more concerning and more discouraging to me six years later that we are still here.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." - Galatians 6:9

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Yikes! and Why I am Still in America

So, I have a true story, about myself. Turns out that I need to come to terms with the reality that my 45 year old eyes can not see small print any longer. Before this story, my biggest concern was overdosing a child with cough medicine in the middle of the night, but now I realize that my lack of close eye-site is a bit more concerning.
My sister and I had (yes, HAD) tickets to travel to Ethiopia yesterday. The hardest thing I ever do is prepare my family for me to be gone for a week. Honestly, every trip, I swear that it will be my last. This trip required elaborate plans for the week that I was gone. I lined up child care for the days that JD could not be home during the day, I got a substitute and went over the week for the CC class I tutor on Tuesdays, I cancelled and rearranged doctor and therapy appointments. I shopped ahead, cleaned, caught up the laundry and prepared some frozen meals for JD. Finally, I drew him a weekly chart of where people needed to be when and what to thaw for dinner what day.
The last few days before leaving, I packed. I gathered my money belt and passport and was working on the cash that has to be carried to pay different people. I pulled out my sister's passport as well and told her to double check that it was the current one. I then told her that my passport expires this December so I would be getting a new one this year. Debra casually looked at it, started yelling, "No, Jen, No!" She was carrying on that it was expired and what were we going to do. I tried to calm her down and get her to realize that I had all year to renew it. She then realized that I couldn't see and what I read as 2016 was actually 2015. Yes, the night before our trip, I found out that my passport had expired only a few weeks before. After a frantic search that there is no way on God's green earth to get a one day passport on a Saturday, we realized that I could not get on the plane. (Need I mention that JD was finishing up the six hour drive to take Julia to a friend's house for the week?) 
I would not have blamed my sister for leaving me home the next day, but she instead spent HOURS on the phone with the airlines to reschedule our entire trip. She had a ticket with another airline to leave Ethiopia and travel to Asia, and she had to rearrange those as well.  You would think that in the end, this would have cost us several hundred dollars since the tickets were nonrefundable, but it really did not. I also have a walk in passport appointment in DC next Monday, and they assure me that I will be issued a new passport in the four days I will have until my second chance to leave the country.
In some aspects, things actually lined up smoother that the first time we made plans. JD gets home from one trip the day before I have to leave and then leaves again the morning after I get back, BUT the kids will have a home-based parent. The airline tickets decreased in price and the schedule there seems to work just as well if not better.
I am believing there is a reason that I did not see the date correctly, until too late to correct it, and the new dates are when we need to be overseas, rather than our previous ones. In the meantime, I can put an extra meal or two in the freezer for JD and pack a bit more organized!
The whole thing has been rather humbling and I may purchase a second pair of reading glasses so that I can actually find a pair when I come in contact with small print! The sad part of the story is that Alayna and Nathan did leave yesterday back to their home in San Diego. We already miss them!
So, new plan- I will be leaving for Ethiopia two weeks from today.
The beginning stages for suitcase rearranging.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Early Birthday Because Momma is Leaving the Country!

 We celebrated Tori's birthday a little early this year, because I am actually going to be in Ethiopia on her real birthday.  My sister and I am leaving next weekend to spend a week with Brooke at her orphanage. Due to how the schedule had to work, I am actually gone for both Tori and Bella's birthdays. So, we had a party for Tori yesterday and I am scheduling a combo. party for Bella and a few others when I get back home. JD will be in charge of pizza and presents on the real days, (which means I need to buy and wrap them this week!) 

We had a nice get together with dinner, cake and some s'more making around the campfire.

Happy 11th birthday Tori-bug!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Garage Update

 It's been a long time since I've shown the garage progress; it has been very slow the last few months. We are picking back up courtesy of another loan, (sigh). Here is the monstrosity from the front porch -

We have siders hired that worked one day before Christmas,but should be back full time in the next few days until it is done.

Here is the enclosed walkway from garage to house that the county required of us; if we had not, the garage apartment would have been considered a separate house.

I'm ok with how the outside is going to look, but I'm super excited about the inside practicality. The room on the upper level is going to be the shoe room, where all shoes will live in harmony and not come in the house. There will be ceiling to floor shelves and each person will have their own section.

These are the stairs going down from the shoe room to the "breezeway" below the garage. That is going to be the boot room, where all rain and mud boots live in harmony and don't come up the stairs!

 Here is the first stall of the garage where JD is, for the first time in 25 years of marriage, actually fixing a car in a garage. The Escape is rather a money pit, but it's also our only 4 wheel drive vehicle, the perfect animal feed and straw hatch-back, and Moriah's preferred drive to work, so we are once again dumping nearly two grand into it.

Second and third stalls of the garage, filled with siding and wood.

There will be a separate tool room in the back of the garage along with a bonus 1/2 bath.

Here is the stairwell to the upstairs apartment; it has a separate entrance from the back side of the garage.

going up -

The upstairs is one large open kitchen, dining area and living room.

The back is divided into two bedrooms and a bathroom. 

Here's the view from the sliding glass door and future deck - our unfinished cow pasture. One day...

Saturday, January 2, 2016

25 Years!

 December 29th was our 25th anniversary. Our trip a few months ago to Maine was in honor of our anniversary, but we are still going to do a short get away next month.

So, we did the second best thing on an anniversary - family bowling. Actually, it was Gabriel's idea since it was supposed to be his last night home for a while. His work schedule three hours away changed, however, and he came back the very next day.

Moriah's new side-kick's name in Chris

It was an enjoyable evening; Selah and Bella were out visiting an Afghan family that has little girls, so they missed this round. We will have to go again soon; it is very affordable on the base and we pretty much had the place to ourselves.