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, June 25, 2017

Alyssa's Graduation and Birthday

Alyssa was technically finished with high school last year early, but she had her official graduation along with her 18th birthday this year. We had a celebration for both. Here are a few shots of our day.

Hunter liked the balloon strings!
The cake says Happy Birthday and Graduation Alyssa
A friend smoked pulled pork for our main dish; here was the cold food table.

I made a simple wall of Alyssa pictures through the years.


Alyssa had two friends come down from NY for her party - she met Raven on a mission trip to Africa and has visited her family in the Virgin Islands, where they live part of the year, twice.

The beginning group gathering -

JD and Moriah
The goats came out to hang with the kids and eat weeds for a bit.

Fiona enjoyed the attention
These are my friend's girls from Liberia; they got a picture with my Ethiopians because they were all wearing butterfly shirts.

Alyssa with Caleb, who was a neighbor when we lived in "the neighborhood" back from Alyssa's age of 3-6!

We got Alyssa a hand-made cedar chest -

It was a wonderful day.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sharks 2017

Another swim season has arrived - I have lost count but we are roughly at 14 years of swimming (with two years "vacation" at different points). Swimming really is my favorite sport, as all kids compete in the same meet on the same night at the same pool; it also makes it fun that we have a family reputation for being fast. 

This was James' only meet this year as he is heading to the Bible College in CA on Saturday for their summer program. 

The kids seem to excel at the goofy pictures -

Last year at the end of the year award ceremony, the Sharks created an award for Tori called "The Beast Award". She is absolutely amazing to watch and we will really have to consider if she wants to transition to year around competition at some point. Last night, Elijah proved that he is going to give Tori a run for her beast award as he and his relay team beat the all time Shark record by 9 seconds. This is Sharks 52nd year and the 20th year with our fabulous head couch. 

Here's Elijah on the far left and his relay team -



Saturday, June 17, 2017


JD has traveled a lot the last few months, so one thing I have done is order to simplify life is order trash pick up. We haven't had it the whole 12 years we have lived here, so it's quite the novelty. We leave the cans at the end of the driveway because the driveway is too long to pull them back and forth, but it's working. 

Last Saturday, I loaded the youngest six kids and we did a long Amish run. We hit the Amish feed store, the Amish grocery store, the Amish flee market, the local farmer's market and then hunted down the grass fed beef Amish source. The only stop I should have skipped was the flee market, as the massive requests to buy ducks, bunnies and pigs were a bit overwhelming. I think they hoped they stood a chance since JD wasn't with us. 

On the way home, I even stopped at the Commissary. Tori and James let the kids play on the playground across the street for the beginning of my shopping adventure. Bella found two painted rocks - do you have that going on in your area? It's been fun for the kids. We have painted several this week.

Today? Not near as fun. I forced everyone into the heat this morning to help plant pumpkins and weed the garden. This big area that is in the back is tilled and we planted pumpkin seeds - I have no idea how well they will do as I really don't know how decent the soil is in spite of me dumping all our this year poo mountain in it. We also weeded the raised beds. It was a long, hot two hours but looks so much better! 

I am taking the kids to the pool as a reward -


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sorry Blog-land

Sometimes I am so delinquent on the blog, for no good reason other than busyness, because there is always something going on to blog about. The latest is that Geema and Grandpa came to visit for a week. JD's sister and brother-in-law also came one day. While both were most enjoyable, I just didn't take many pictures. 

Here is my one official farewell picture with the youngest three kids as we headed to our first day of swim team, which started the day they were leaving. 

Here's another quick one I snapped because it so reminded me of my childhood. My Dad was a safety officer for the Navy at one point and I feel it seeped into our daily lives; like he sold my moped and wouldn't let me ride horses. Anyway, here he is conducting a safely brief with the bike riders before hitting the road. Apparently he is a force to be reckoned with on a bike, because the one ride that was just Grandpa and James really wore James out. 

 I had Selah at the doctor for testing on Friday - I feel like she has some symptoms that concern me that a tick borne illness could be at play, so we are awaiting blood work. She is feeling better today and I have hope that she will be able to attend CC camp with us the next three days. 



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Renaissance Fair

(It took some effort for me to spell Renaissance correctly, but I think I got it.)

 After studying this time period in school year last year, when I saw the BOGO Groupon deal for a semi-local Renaissance fair, I bought tickets a few months back. Fortunately, Friday I checked the dates to find out they were expiring in two days; so while we didn't miss it, JD did because he was on the men's retreat at church. (It takes an extra push for me to do these events without him!)

I hadn't been to a Renaissance event since high school, and it definitely draws an interesting crowd, but the kids had a blast. 

It was small, but plenty to do for the majority of a day.

It was humorous to see the kids pick their crimes -

The three youngest girls and I attended a doll making workshop and left with handmade rag dolls that are super cute. We sent James, Tori and Elijah to "Medieval Kenieval" while we were there.

Tori was kind enough to wait for and take some picture of Elijah with the reckless daredevil; Elijah was pretty impressed with how they turned out.

I took about five pictures on the way out and this is the best I got. Selah looked exactly like this in each one, because she told me "it was funny". I decline to agree. With this many kids, I need at least an attempt of a smile!


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Theater Week

Thursday we traveled with our CC group to the play "Beauty and the Beast" in Richmond. It was done by a professional group that regularly perform there and was really, really good.

Yesterday, we went on a long one day road trip to Sight and Sound theater in Lancaster, PA to see the production of Jonah. It was unbelievable! 
We had never been before but I see now why people make the trip. There are only two Sight and Sounds in the country - one in Missouri and this one in PA. It is far more than you think of when you use the word play; as the theater uses three sides, and the host of actors and animals often occupy the aisles. While the timing wasn't the best for us, we were offered reduced tickets and took advantage of it.

I can't recommend it enough! Jonah is playing this year and Jesus will be the new production next year. I hope we can return!


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Patio - Part Two

My patio secret is Sankrete Patio Sand. James dug out all the weeds and the dirt between the stones that grew prolific weeds. He then spread the sand between the stones and blew the excess off the top. Once it was as close to perfect as we strive for, he wet the whole patio. After 24 hours, it turns to a concrete product that won't let weeds grow.

We are currently in the "don't walk on it for 24 hours" stage, so we have it elaborately blocked off. I'm just thrilled to mark off "weed the patio" from my chore list!


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Exciting Product

 James has spent a few days working with a landscaper and he told me about a product that eliminates weeds between stone. Since I have spent hours weeding the patio (which is as annoying as it sounds), I was all ears. 

When I stopped at a local garden center, I asked them and they showed me to the product. Maybe I'm the only one who has never heard of it, but you put it between the stones, water it and let it harden into a concrete filler. 

I offered James the job and he cleaned the patio well today. He had to dig out and blow the sand and dirt that was between the stones. Within the next few days we will put in the "super special patio sand" and then it can't be walked on for 24 hours which will be challenging!

See how all the weeds grew in the cracks?

They are gone today - 

While James did that, JD worked on the never-ending wiring job in the garage and the kids and I planted 5 of the 7 garden beds. We pulled out 4 full wagon loads of weeds.

Before I started the garden, I laid three bags of grass seed. While I was waiting on the promised rain, I had to keep running the chickens off of every time I saw them.