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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

That Time of the Year

I think the biggest advantage of living near the equator would be avoiding the packing up and getting out seasonal clothing for nine children. Actually, I'm down to only doing it for seven, but it's still several days work. I predict what will fit next year and pack it up, then give the rest away. I then get out what I packed up the previous year and clean out and put away every drawer and every closet, one by one. At this point, I've only gotten through the youngest three children. This year, considering our new budget, I'm going to make a list of who actually needs what and try to stick to only buying those clothing items. I'm working on grasping that although a cute shirt might be a deal for $1, if that child already has 32 shirts, I need to spare myself the aggravation of dealing with a crowded shirt drawer!

Tori asked me several times this summer to get her cow-girl boots out of the basement. I have no recollection whatsoever of buying these boots. It was obviously a thrift store deal or I think I would have some memory of them. However, I found them and she is thrilled. My older girls groaned in disgust that she wants to wear them everyday with everything, but they did the same thing when they were four! She loves boots for some reason, check out how she is carrying around the black pair, since she can't wear them at the same time.

Julia has always been interested in clothes and changing them often. She is on her 4th shirt selection for the day, a nice red one, worn backwards, with a bright pink skirt and shoes. At one point this morning, she had on two shirts and a jacket all layered.
While the outfit is nice, I think the Hello Kitty chap-stick really makes the look. Who makes chap-stick like this for little girls?

Julia has turned into quite a handful the last few weeks. She is spending a good chunk of her day sitting on her bed until the LOUD screaming everytime someone looks at her funny subsides. We all need ear-plugs!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Plural Birthdays and Alei's Ankle

This last week we celebrated JD's and James' birthdays. JD's was actually at Wolf Lodge, every man's mid-40s birthday dream! James' was on Friday. We had cup-cakes with friends on Friday afternoon, but didn't have real cake until Saturday night. On top of that, I bought a big, bad food-coloring infested Costco cake, because sometimes as I mother of nine, I just don't have time! I considered pulling those big nasty balloons off the cake and throwing them in the garbage, but I didn't want there to be stories about "remember the time Mom...." float down through the years! So, here's the kids at bedtime when we had round two present hour.

My kids love Playmobile. I actually love them too as they play hours with their imaginations instead of anything with a screen.

Here's that big bad cake I referred to. I wish I had bought a smaller one (if Costco even sells a smaller one.)
My husband pointed out that I never updated about Alei's foot. Although they sent the x-rays to a radiologist for a second opinion, it doesn't appear to be broken. It's still way swollen and now black and blue as well. I found the big knot on the side of her ankle to be a bit alarming!

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Restful Vacation

Elijah normally only goes to sleep for me. If we put some water rides in the backyard, I'd be able to go places at bedtime and leave him with JD. Day one at Wolf Lodge, Elijah went to sleep in the wave pool. JD eventually carried him out and removed his life-jacket and he slept and slept.

After a while he wasn't the only one asleep.

Day two, Elijah went to sleep in the lazy river. JD then had to time his raft perfectly so they didn't hit the dumping buckets. It was funny how he held on even after falling asleep.
Julia made it the first day without a nap, but day two she crawled up on Aunt Deb and was out.

She slept a few hours in the stroller amidst the noise.

After all the napping, you might think we were up late, but not so. After the Golden Corral, the little people (and the husband) were out.

Good times!

Friday, September 25, 2009

On To Wolf Lodge

This was our 4th year going to homeschool week at Wolf Lodge. The family that we go with we actually met there the 1st year and we've gone back with them the last three years. Our cost more than doubled this year since Tori and Julia required wristbands which meant that we had to get two smaller rooms instead of one big one; unfortunately this years small room was the same price as last years big room. Bad economy I guess.

Tori was so much fun this year. Since she is four, no water slide was too big. Her little legs climbed thousands of stairs and she went with anyone who would take her. Here she and Mr. Rick are "landing" after her "Mr. Rick, Mr. Rick, want to take me on a big water slide?" request.

Here's Tori on her first trip across the lily-pads. She was so funny dangling from the rope and wobbling on the lily-pads.

The life-guard helped her claw herself out of the pool the first time. After that, she pulled the floating pad close enough to make the leap herself.
Alyssa and Ben both practiced enough to run across without the ropes assistance. We have some entertaining video of Ben running half way and falling, then scrambling back on as if he was being timed or something.
Elijah was really fun also. He played (and slept) well in the water park.

Elijah would only float in his life jacket without being held if he was holding the pool basketball. I guess it's thrill distracted him.

Julia wasn't a big fan of the water slides. She had a blast on the little slides and the kiddie pools however. I'm sure that will all change by next year.

Here's the best traditional leaving photo, where the most children are smiling. I can't ever get everyone to smile at the same time!
However, I love this picture just because little Elijah is hugging Tori as hard as he can.
Another year of fun family memories made.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bungee Jumping and Sibling Relationships

This is probably the only time that I can post pictures of Gabriel and not have him complain about it. Here he is being craned up, up into the air.

And here he is falling, falling down.

Then he bounced around and "flew" overhead for a while. It amazes me that he considers this fun! It's nice to know that I didn't transmit my fear of heights to my kids.

While we were waiting for Gabriel's adventure, I snapped these pictures of Tori and Elijah. She has always been so sweet to him and it's fun to watch them interact.

The younger years are simpler!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kings Dominion

As I down-loaded my trip pictures, I realized that I typically come home with about two pictures of my older kids and 102 of the younger ones, only because the little ones are hanging around with me while the older ones are off having big-kid fun. I did take a group shot of JD and all the kids right before Gabriel went bungee-jumping. We thought a group photo would be nice if we lost him in his crazy adventure! I'll show pictures of that tomorrow, although it was painful for me to watch. I'm not a heights fan!

Here's my well-photographed little guys. Tori and Julia were pretty excited about all the dressed-up characters, although we missed Dora which would have been the end all get all to Julia.
Tori was pretty impressed with this Sponge Bob hat, but since it was $15, I talked her into the $2 Sponge Bob cereal bowl instead. Cheaper and much more practical!

After Elijah refused to wear any hats or sun-glasses all summer, he decided on Kings Dominion day that he liked them both. So, he wore JD's hat much of the morning -

and Alei's sun-glasses for a while in the afternoon.

He couldn't figure out why we were all laughing. He has been so much fun his 14 months of life.

Tomorrow I will bless the world with pictures of my dare-devil son. Since he is only months away from turning 18, I didn't think it reasonable to forbid him to bungee-jump. (I wanted to, believe me.) Once I watched a few other stupid, I mean, brave people, I felt better about it and actually took pictures of him instead of my initial idea of hiding on the other side of the park.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Four Days of Fun Ending in a Bit of Crises

I'm typing this post slightly after midnight while JD is at the ER with Alei. We had a wonderful family trip this weekend and dear friends from out-of-town visit tonight when tragedy struck. The kids were playing out in the dark when Alei twisted her ankle in a hole. I didn't get too worked up until I saw her ankle, it was swollen excessively and had a huge lump on the side that almost screamed "this is serious." So, off she and JD went to the ER where I don't expect they will be home until early in the morning. The poor girl, it seems if an accident happens, it's quite often her!

I intended on blogging today about our wonderful time away, but I'll just save that for tomorrow and show a few preparation pictures. Although we were only going to be gone for three days, there is still a lot of planning and packing for 12 people! I did better than usual in the organizational area this time; we weren't missing any essentials and yet I didn't over pack as much as I used to. I tasked three year old Julia with packing the sodas into the cooler. Since soda ranks pretty high on her list of favorite things, she took her job quite seriously!

Here she wheeled the cooler over so the other kids would have the opportunity to admire her packing technique. It's always nice to have a posse of people available to congratulate you on your accomplishments.

I let the four oldest children fend for themselves in the clothes packing department, but packed for myself, JD, and the five youngest kids. So, it still took me two suitcases for 3 days! We also crammed in four last minute hair-cuts that needed to be done.

I'm going to bed anxious to show some of the Kings Dominion pictures tomorrow, but praying that Alei's foot will be a quick recovery. The way it was distorted appeared very alarming and I hope that it's not broken! More news in the morning. I'm still up at 1:00 a.m. because Julia obviously had a longer nap that she needed and won't go to sleep. While I was dozing off by her bed, I spent time wondering how old Tori and Julia are going to have to be before they aren't frightened by bed-time. A good gauge may be that Ben still won't go down to his room alone at night. At my house, the fear of the dark issue falls along Liberian lines, which is strange since the common Liberian never has electricity.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Flashback Friday - Two Years Ago

We are heading on our mini-vacation tomorrow morning. We are going to King's Dominion tomorrow then on to a large indoor water park for Sunday and Monday. This is our 4th year going to homeschool week at Wolf Lodge and it's always a blast. I went back looking for pictures of Tori the 1st year we went since she had only been home in America a few weeks. They were on a different computer, but I found pictures from 2007 when Ben and Julia were new Americans. Look how little my baby girls were. Julia was 14 months, exactly how old Elijah is this trip.

I'm excited to see Elijah play this year - Julia enjoyed it at one!

Here we were as a "little" family of 10, with my sister coming, we are now a family of 12.

It's fun to see Tori and Julia grow and learn, but part of me is sad that I don't really have "baby girls" anymore! Look at Julia chugging her morning orange juice bottle, boy, was it tough to get that bottle away from her!

I'll be back on Tues. with lots of pictures. Then I can post them in 2011 and carry on about how I miss Elijah being little......:)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What Would I Do?

I don't know what I'd do with all my "free time" if I didn't homeschool. Somehow I'm still short on time in the summer months when we aren't doing school, but once I start the school year every fall, I then wonder what I did with all those hours I used to have. (Maybe some of them were spent blogging about things other than school!)

Can you tell that we are doing geography this year with all the globes floating around?

The really, really good news is that I'm getting it all done. What seemed impossible before I began is actually doable. The house may not always be clean and the laundry pile may get high, but the school work is being finished each day! There is only one exception with one child in one subject - JD gets to do that subject with that child each evening until that child's attitude improves and I can stand to do an hour of math with her everyday!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Groundhog Weekend

I feel like this weekend was a re-run of last weekend. JD ended up making two trips to a friend's house for trees and a trip to the Amish saw-mill. Although we were done with the wood trips, we were blessed with free big trees to make posts out of, so about three more trips and our fencing stash should be done. Speaking of Amish, my tomato plants I bought from them are still going strong. It's amazing how many tomatoes I've gotten off three plants. I'll be buying my vegetable plants from them again next year.

I am half way through Julia's braids. The Zulu knots lasted a few more days than I expected, but we needed a hair-do that will get us through next weekend. I really want to get better at corn-rowing. Here's Julia having a hair break.

It really isn't Julia that requires so many hair breaks. It's this little guy. He isn't impressed with his Mom focusing so long on someone that isn't him!

JD and I spent quite a bit of time today on the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace budget. We have definitely increased our expenses drastically the last few years with our international adoptions and our new house. So, after putting all our expenses on paper today, it turns out the kids are way expensive! I obviously already knew this as it seems every cent we have goes to one of them for something, but it seems so much worse now that it's on paper. Another big expense in my life is all these animals. Mind you, I rarely intentionally go and get them, but I find them around town and lately they get dumped in my driveway. We really don't even do vets anymore; I get everything rabies shots and spayed or neutered at the low cost clinic, but I still feed them all and put FRONTLINE on all of them! I still have two kittens from the dumped litter to get fixed this fall! Here's Kaden enjoying Elijah's attention. You know he's a good kitty to put up with Elijah's "petting."

The good news is that next weekend won't be a re-run; we are going on our annual "back-to-school" mini-vacation. I am really praying that my neck improves a ton this week!

On a P.S. happy note - I found my missing teacher's manual! I offered a $5 reward, but found it myself. It was on the piano shelf, folded open, blending in with the piano books. I'm just thrilled to be back on track for school tomorrow.