OUR PLANS MULTIPLIED

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, August 21, 2017

Salsa and Tomatoes

JD did much of the salsa work this year - he grocery shopped, and chopped while I did tomatoes.


I did about half salsa jars and half straight tomato sauce - I think we ended with something like 65 quart jars.
 


I did two or three rounds a day, each as a double batch that made 10-12 quarts. Once I was done with tomatoes, I canned the pears we had picked. I still have a pear tree to go.


 Doesn't seem like we should be nearing the end of the summer but we are. Tori began Challenge A last week and the other Classical Conversationers start next Tuesday. I am busy making lesson plans. I am hoping to put in a few fall crops but the weeds are totally out of control again already so we will see what I get done there!

Jenny
 









Sunday, August 13, 2017

Farm Life

Farm-life is a lot of work. While all the other moms worked out at the Y or sat on the bleachers this summer during swim-team practice, I dropped off kids, worked in the garden, dropped off more kids, took care of the animals....you get the idea. James was gone all summer, and Tori gone twice, so I often did double of my usual list.

These are the moments, however, that it all seems worth it! Tori and I harvested one pear tree that actually produced good pears. I still have another loaded tree and a third that is too young to produce well. My peach trees have some disease and my apple trees are a disaster, but I'm thankful for the pears!


The pears were much higher than Tori on the ladder, but shaking them worked well. I only got hit on the head once!
 



Tori and I picked them up very quickly when we shook the trees, since the goats discovered quickly that they like pears.



My new venture this summer was growing the entire middle layer of the backyard in pumpkins. The idea is to store them for winter treats for the animals, after canning our fair share. I'm getting nervous because the squash bugs have descended upon them, and I don't think there is a successful pumpkin farmer out there who doesn't spray their fields. I have used dust on the ground lately, which I hate to do, but I'm not sure it's enough.


There are many decent sized pumpkins growing in there and the guineas seem clueless so far. 
 



We left some eggs with several momma hens who wanted to sit on them. They have successfully hatched many, many chicks. These six little guys just hatched last night. Selah is also being mom to eight guinea babies and a chick baby that hatched in the incubator from an abandoned guinea nest.


I bought a chicken tractor that can move around the yard that Luna, Selah's bunny, and the momma-less baby chicks share during the day. We move them back to safer night cages, because of the fat fox that is stalking the chickens.


My tomato crop was pitiful this year, so I had to resort to buying these from a local farmer. Guess what I am doing today and tomorrow?

Jenny








Sunday, August 6, 2017

Good Swim Season


Years ago my cousin's husband referred to summer swim team as "swim cult"; while it may feel like it a bit, it is only two months of the year and the best sport for large families. I have a few, mainly one nine year old son, begging to do year-round swim but I just can't fit that into my life or budget right now. 

At finals, the little guys swim morning, the relays are in the middle and the older kids swim afternoons. 

We set up our tent in "Shark tent city" and prepared our seats for a long, hot day. I will say that yesterday was a high of 85, which is about 15 degrees cooler than any other finals I ever remember; it was so wonderful!

 


I write my kids event numbers on my hand so I don't lose the paper and not show up for an event. 
 

Here's Bella watching a sibling's event while waiting for her own.


Elijah and his relay team made it through all six meets and finals undefeated and will get the gold. Elijah somehow also managed to get the gold in back stroke in spite of never winning it before and stopping a bit short and then continuing. 
Elijah and Jayson
 Thankful for another good season. Now I have to turn my attention to being ready for school which starts in only a few weeks!

Jenny



 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Summer and Selah


 I have Selah scheduled with a pediatric neurologist at VCU, specializing in sleep disorders; thankfully after getting her paperwork from the local doctor, they moved us up from Sept. to August. For now, I am working to prevent further episodes by not driving her far at night! They have all started in the car and all have been at night, other than one. It's really a strange set of events and it will be nice to have some answers. 

We have had a blast at the local lake this year. It is a private lake in a close neighborhood that we own a rental home in and get to use the lake and pool. I bought two small paddle-boards the other day and the kids were good at them. We have friends that let us borrow their kayaks at any point also. It's been a blast for the kids!


Julia and Elijah have both been swimmer of the week this summer. Elijah is going into finals on Saturday with an undefeated relay team. Tori and Julia both had undefeated ones also, until the last meet when Tori was at camp and Julia had a relay partner confused what lane to line up in and miss the race. We will all be cheering for Elijah's team at finals!


A long and narrow 10 acres on the side of our property sold and the neighbors are building a house. Turns out that it is sitting right behind our garage.  I know it looks a ways back to the city readers, but I can already hear the construction workers talking and their music playing. I hope the retired couple moving in is understanding when our noise carries over there!


 Here's our potential excitement that has been years in coming - can you see it?
 

Jenny

Friday, July 28, 2017

Birthday Take 1 and A Bit About Selah


 We had take one of the Julia and Elijah shared birthday yesterday. Since JD was out of town, I met a friend and took the little guys to Sky Zone and Cici's Pizza. The new ninja course was built and the kids had blast; Elijah woke moaning about his shoulder muscles this morning!
 
Bella, Selah, Elijah and buddies since birth - Joshua
Moriah and Chris met us during their lunch break -


 Josh and Elijah sat in their own booth - it was cute when we saw them pray together before eating.

 
Please pray for Selah when you think about us. She has had five "episodes" in the last three weeks of falling asleep/passing out that she doesn't wake up from until ammonia smelling salts are used. There have been two rounds of seizure like tremors and breathing that have not been diagnosed. We have had three 911 calls, two ambulance rides in, and another high speed drive into the ER. At this point, I am working hard to prevent it by monitoring her from becoming over-tired or over-heated. We are scheduled at the pediatric neurologist at VCU in September. It's been a bit stressful!

Selah and Hunter

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hawaii!

Before I show the beautiful glory of Hawaii, let me just say that I recently read someone on Facebook saying that they needed to get off FB because their life is so dull compared to others. That stuck with me in a few ways, but the basic thought I had is that our lives are never dull, but rarely glamorous, because of the number of people we have relationships with even addition to our own children. Temporary dull is a coveted position that I rarely get, but long for, because that means we aren't in a string of frequent trials. While I try to balance my children's privacy, and also not paint a picture that is unrealistic, we have plenty of not-dull on a daily basis. Actually I'm typing this as Moriah is on the way to the ER with symptoms that are rather alarming. If you consider your life dull, get involved with teens, foster kids, homeless, anything that would allow you to throw your life in to something that would make a difference for others - serving people in need is rarely dull, nor is it glamorous.

My life is much like a railroad track with the absolute beauty of Hawaii on one track at the same time as some of the most difficult times on the other track. I have to learn to appreciate the beauty on the one side while not allowing the pain on the other track to engulf both tracks.. To leave, my sister and a friend juggled the kids at home, while two other friends split the time with Julia at their houses. I had a very difficult situation with a child shortly before leaving, and we lost one of our beloved dogs. To add to it all, Selah is going through some serious medical issues that landed me in the ER most of one night and my sister most of the first night I was away. To someone who said to me just today, "how do you go away without kids?"; my answer is, "we just have to!" I'm very lucky that I have a husband that insists I rest away from home when I never would be able to at home. I questioned getting on the plane even at the last minute and he basically demanded it. 

Our lives are as stressful as Hawaii is beautiful. Here's the pretty side of the track - 

We stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village -

Rainbow Tower from our window
Waikiki Beach




We went snorkeling at the North Shore - turtle cove and shark cove to be exact. I'm sparing you the picture of my knees from crawling across coral to move locations -



We ate at the famous shrimp trucks -


Here are the two pictures I came home with that had me in them - (I am protesting the look-at-me-selfie-crisis of our country). 

Recognize this background?



This is my new phone screen-saver -

Jenny

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.

Jenny