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, December 31, 2010

New Picture - Behind the Scenes

I obviously posted my New Year picture, that we had taken today, at the top of the blog. It looks so simple, but family pictures are never truly simple. First, I re-did Tori's hair on Monday, then I re-did Julia's on Wednesday, (sadly, you can not really see how fresh and nice the corn-rows are in the back.) After all that, I had to give James a quick hair-cut this morning. Aside from all the hair, Alei and I made a mess from closet to closet to find coordinating clothing without purchasing anything. (In spite of their shirts being hidden, Alei and Alyssa had the perfect blue combination on the front.) The major challenge was Julia and Elijah at the session; both of them cried most of the way through. We were actually shocked that this one picture, the only one we bought, had both of them looking pleasant. Their pleasantness was short lived, however, and only caused by JD hitting me on the head with a plastic flower. It brought one moment of distraction and humor that the two of them actually stopped and smiled. Then Julia went back to her fat-lipped pouting and Elijah his whining and reaching for his Momma. Thankfully, that one moment was captured and I am a happy Momma!

This is the last nine kid picture until summer when Gabriel returns once again!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Big Anniversary

It's hard to believe, but today is JD and my 20th anniversary. Since I turned 40 earlier this year, I have officially been married half my life! That statistic won't hit for JD for a few more years. As my blog's name states, our plans have been multiplied by God! Twenty years ago, we didn't have a vision as big as God's and He has blessed our lives beyond our greatest hopes! While our children are our greatest blessing, thankfully we also enjoy each other's company and aren't scared of the idea of them growing up and leaving us home alone together, (although that is still way off.)

Our anniversary dinner is delayed until tomorrow night, as Alei had a friend here the last few days that had to be returned tonight. On top of that, I spent today re-doing Julia's hair, taking the three older girls for hair-cuts and getting a flu shot!

Tomorrow's agenda is looking more fun already.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I'll Try to Be Brief

It's taken me over two days to write this post, not because it's a work of art, but because my life can be busy and demanding. I thought that since I've hinted more than once about adding to our family, I would try to briefly summarize our future family plans. We've learned over the last few years, as our family has been grown by God, that He works mightily in behalf of our future children long before we identify them or bring them into our home. As much as I don't relish the thought of tons of adopting paperwork and the stress of the cost, Ethiopia has been planted in front of us at every turn. After the miraculous sale of our boat, which I tell about here, we knew that down the road, we would adopt from Ethiopia. After accepting that fact, although it looked rather unrealistic, we rested that there would be a time that we would know to move forward. I have to be honest, many times as I've struggled the last few years with children and their "special needs," I have thought that the last thing I needed was to start an adoption from a whole new country with children that would have a whole new range of needs. During those times, I've "rested" in the idea that I wouldn't always feel that way.

After attending the Orphan Summit in November, (which I personally consider the high-light of my year,) we both felt it was the time to actively work towards another international adoption. At this point, we know specifically what we think God is calling us to and are excited at the opportunity! There are a few things that we need to fall into place, but it appears that the Lord is working in our behalf. The biggest is closing on our home. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, the short story is that the market crashed in our area between our building loan and final loan, so we have been trapped with a ARM building loan for the last two years. While we haven't closed yet, we did get the appraisal we needed and it still looks like we should be able to close in January. Beyond that, we need to refinance a loan that moved our temporary home down the street to set it up as a rental. Finally, we need to pay off our current Liberian adoption loan, so that we can re-use it for Ethiopia. While it has taken us four years to fund our three Liberian adoptions, with the new adoption tax laws, we hope to be able to pay off an Ethiopian adoption in only a year. And for any wondering, I am a big Dave Ramsey fan, but I don't think it's irresponsible to have a low interest loan to adopt, especially when you know that tax time will refund the loan.

So, skipping forward, we hope to see the above financial things align by spring and then we plan on starting a new home-study. There are new challenges that we will face at that point, but since we know God is already working in behalf of the child(ren) that he knows will be ours, we trust they will also work out as we go forward in faith.

For the logistics, we hope to adopt two children that are at or under Elijah's age. We are also planning on adopting siblings that are one or both special needs. I have been told that siblings are rare and that we can not count on that, but I'm praying that God will align the paperwork cycle to allow us the occasional set of twins or young siblings. The reason for this is that we know that we want at least two from Ethiopia and it is way, way more affordable to do two at the same time, rather than separately, as Ethiopia is now requiring two trips per adoption.

I can be stopped in my tracks with all the unknowns, if I focus on them. Although we've done this before, it is still an emotional and unnerving process. What drives me is knowing that the Lord has set aside a child(ren) for our family and once it's "my" child, there is nothing that I wouldn't do to bring him/her home to our family.

So hopefully, 2011 will bring a new adventure for our family and two new blessings to love.

Here's one of my 2007 African blessings on Christmas afternoon; all the excitement was too much for her.

Julia asked me, just today, "Mom, if I get a sister from Ethiopia, will she be brown or peach?"

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Merry Christmas - Christmas makes us even more aware of how truly blessed we are with our family, friends, home, food, and the ultimate gift of Jesus' arrival to earth.

Christmas is a wonderful time to have a big family! Hopefully, by Christmas next year, we'll be even a little bigger!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Enjoy the little things in life -

For one day you will look back -

And realize they were truly the big thing.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The 23rd

I bet you are reading this blog entry just because my title was so catchy that you couldn't wait to see what it was about. Well, it truly is about the 23rd (and the 22nd.) Yesterday morning we all attended Alyssa's violin concert, then last night we took the kids to a live nativity at a nearby church. Elijah was particularly enamored with the goats; it made me look forward to having goats again one day.

Now on to the 23rd -

This morning we dressed the kids in their Christmas attire to attend JD's work children's Christmas party. They get a turn to receive a gift from Santa, do some crafts and eat pizza. It's one of the Christmas traditions that they look forward to.

Here's "the little girls" before we left -

And "the boys" -

The kids are called up in random order for their gift. Julia was very first this year and Elijah looked shocked and yelled, "he talks" when he realized that Santa was talking to Julia. Oh, the miracle of Christmas when you are two...

Amazingly, Elijah actually sat on Santa's lap when it was his turn. Elijah hardly goes to anyone, so I would have never though that he would go near Santa, much less sit on his lap.

Ben was almost very last and patiently waited though an hour of names being called. He and Santa had a nice conversation about football though.

After the party, I took the older kids and did the final Christmas food shopping trip and random errand. Gabriel wanted to drive, so he dropped me off at the Post Office to buy stamps. When I came out, he was parked at the far, far end of the lot. As I hiked to the car, he, Alei, Moriah and Alyssa hung out the windows taking pictures of me with their phones like they were the Paparazzi. Oh, it's nice to have teens to keep you on your toes!

Here are a few other noteworthy 23rd happenings. Hunter, our cat, likes coffee. He patiently dipped and licked his paw in the mug for quite some time as we put groceries away. Thankfully, he only likes it cold, so your coffee is safe as long as it's hot.

When we picked up our P.O. Box mail today, Alei received this in the mail from "American Apparel." It is a huge red t-shirt with the neck and sleeves cut off. Neither of us ordered anything from the company, nor can we figure out why anyone would ever order such an item! American Apparel had it addressed to Alei and spent $5 on shipping - go figure. Merry Christmas Alei!

A final 23rd note is that Elijah has taken a liking to the story, "Baa Baa Black Sheep." The way the book is drawn has him convinced that Black Sheep is actually a cow, but that's not my point. This morning at breakfast, Tori and Julia were singing the nursery rhyme to him. They got to the point that says, "one for my master, one for the dame and one for the little girl that lives down the lane." They kept singing, "one for my master, one for my..." and couldn't figure out the word "dame." Tori hummed and thought and came up with, "one for my master and one for my pastor," and she and Julia sung several rounds, happy with solving the mystery of the nursery rhyme.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tis the Season for Lots of Sugar

To continue from yesterday...we did get Julia's hair finished. It involved LOTS of whining and crying AND I really didn't do a good job. It's all fuzzy and messy and already looks like it needs to be redone. All in all, a major hair disaster. I'm revisiting the idea of doing tiny braid locs in her hair since doing her hair is both a miserable experience for her and me! I'll be weighing that as an option after Christmas.

I had a plan of making Christmas cookies today, but were blessed with tons of sweets from two of JD's sisters last night. We are having far more variety than I've ever made in my life!

And lo and behold, Aunt Cyndi whipped up a fresh gingerbread house for the kids. We had a debate about eating it, but honored Aunt Cyndi's wishes and let the kids eat it after lunch today. It was so cute!

Elijah choose a gingerbread man from the front.

The house is now just a bare shell. It makes me kind of sad, but the kids sure enjoyed themselves; I guess that's what it really is about. Thank you Aunt Bonnie and Aunt Cyndi!

We are still going to make and decorate cookies for our neighbors.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday, Monday....

Well, it's the final count-down until Christmas around here and JD and Alei have hit the interstate to bring Grandma here. They only have a "sixish" hour round trip today, but will have the full 12 hour trip next week to return her home. I have dedicated the day to the more exciting things in life - primarily Julia's hair. As you can see, we have successfully removed her previous style and she is ready for a wash and new style. Since I'm feeling more confident in my corn-rowing ability, I'm going to attempt a brand new style. I feel like an artist with a blank canvas; too bad my canvas squirms and whines!

My canvas, however, is such a natural dancer that I feel it would be a waste of God-given talent to withhold her from dance lessons any longer. I am going to look into ballet lessons for Tori and Julia after Christmas. While I'm going to start with ballet, it probably isn't Julia's natural tendency. Several times, while working on her hair, I have had the pleasure of watching Angelina Ballerina. In my favorite episode, Angelina is entering a dance competition and her competitor is a hip-hop dancing mouse. While the classical music plays, and Angelina dances, Julia sits very still. However, when the hip-hop music starts, for the opponent mouse, Julia is virtually incapable of sitting still - her hips keep perfect beat with the music while I hold on to her hair!

On a totally different note, sometimes I am so, so thankful I don't get my way in life! When we were designing this house, JD insisted in installing two dishwashers and two washers and dryers. Having recently returned from my two trips to Liberia, I balked that it was over the top and completely unnecessary. I obviously didn't fight long and hard, because I have double ovens, dishwashers, washers and dryers and I am so, so thankful!
Here's the dishes waiting their turn this morning is spite of both dishwashers being full. It's still crazy to me after growing up in a small family!

Have a blessed "Monday before Christmas."

Friday, December 17, 2010

After 4 Months....

After 4 months of being in Colorado, Gabriel flew home today for Christmas break. The kids made these "welcome home signs;" well actually, Moriah wrote the words and let the littler guys decorated them. By the time they were done, they were really barely readable. When we whipped them out at the airport, Alei laughed and said she had never seen such hideous signs. It was entertaining to watch the people walking by trying to make out what they said.

Elijah has been waiting for this moment for quite some time; he was nervous, excited and showed off for us while we waited.

I really didn't think Elijah would go to Gabriel right away, but he did without hesitation.

It's cool to see the bond between brothers despite 17 years of age and living 2,000 miles apart!

We are so thankful that Gabriel is healthy, happy and home!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tractors and Babble

I thought I would have wonderful "extra" time this week, since we took off school. Instead, it has been one of the most hectic weeks I've had in months. We have been dealing with Charlie, the chicken killer, and his new lot in life. Yesterday, we also had our two "afro" roosters die, after one lived in a box in the entry way for the day; thankfully Charlie had nothing to do with their untimely passing. Yesterday morning, I also woke to the news that James was throwing up; fortunately, he was back to normal by noon and no one else has followed suit.

Aside from crises moments, we have managed to cook and clean a bit. Yesterday the kids and I deep cleaned the playroom downstairs. The volume of stuff under the couches was so unbelievable that I didn't even dare to take a picture! I now know where all the missing socks were along with hundreds of toys and millions of barrettes.

This morning, I headed out in a mini blizzard to buy food for my family. I left all the children with Alei and was thankful I did as I drove slowly through the snow and maneuvered through the crowds at the Commissary. It was also somewhat relaxing to drive through the snow, listening to the radio instead of Julia!

We are preparing for Gabriel's homecoming tomorrow; hopefully the snow won't be an issue for the airlines. Since I won't have any Gabriel pictures until tomorrow; here's his littlest sibling waiting for his arrival.

Elijah still spends much of his day admiring tractors, real or play, in any book or magazine that shows them.

This is his new 50 cent tractor from my favorite base thrift store; he has spent most of the day with it. He is still also doing the "please let me wear my pajama" thing; I don't figure it matters on a snow day!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chicken Mystery and Update

Since I never updated about the little silkie chicken lost in the woods - we did find him. The next morning at 7:45, I dumped my boys in pajamas and coats down the road while I headed to the doctor with Tori. They successfully found him and carried him home. I posted the same day about something that keeps killing my Guinea hens. Unfortunately, I found out today that it is Alyssa's beloved dog, Charlie. So, Charlie just lost his farm freedom. He primarily lives in the house anyway, but now when he goes out, he has to be watched or put on a run.

Tori had eye surgery in Richmond this morning to remove the little skin tag from her eye-lid. She came through just fine and is home playing normally. JD also got a chance to visit the girl's father that I posted about asking for prayer for last night. She made it through the night, but still needs prayer.

Our Christmas fun project and clean out project has fizzled today - I'll try to get back on track tomorrow.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Glimpses of our Day

Today was such a refreshing change from our school routine. Aunt Deb spent the night last night and hung out for a while today. I dug into my bins for our Christmas paperback books. I keep children paperbacks in four canvass bins and rotate them; they were exceptionally excited to see all the "new" books and spent a lot of yesterday and today reading them. It made me realize that it had been way too long since I had swapped bins.

I made bread first thing this morning so that Deb could take a loaf to her Arabic professor; (doesn't everyone give their Arabic professor bread?) I have also been making small loaves for the widow down the road from time to time.

I didn't mention that it snow-flurried last night. You would have thought the sight would have been far more impressive by all the excited yelling at my house this morning, but it was enough that James, Ben, Tori and Julia played outside far longer than usual since it has gotten so cold.

Tori worked hard to make a tiny snowman like she had just seen in one of the books. He's sleeping out on the bench by the front door.

Moriah helped the kids make paper snowmen, since we didn't have enough real snow to make the real thing. They turned out quite cute.

I'm not sure what our project will be tomorrow - maybe the ornament kits that have been up in my closet for the last several years!

We just received an extremely urgent prayer request about a teen in our church - I'd ask you to say a prayer for Sarah. She is being rushed to a hospital in Richmond by ambulance since the weather is too bad for the medic helicopter.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Break

I decided last night that we were starting our Christmas break NOW instead of next weekend. It is the only way that I can see working the fun stuff into our Christmas schedule. My plan is to do one Christmas fun project each day next week as well as clean out one area of the house that is driving me crazy. My announcements are often met with some complaining, but this one only brought rejoicing.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Big Boy Bed

As I type, the crib is being dismantled and stuffed in the basement. I got rid of all the baby items as Elijah out-grew them, but I'm keeping the crib and high-chair (and hope to use them again.) We talked up the "big boy bed" enough that Elijah was excited to move into his toddler bed. I put the border on his quilt last night, then threw it into the wash so the the raw seams would fluff up.

JD had today off from work, so he kept all the little people this morning while the three big girls and I headed to the base thrift store and Commissary. Check out these three pictures that I got Elijah for $1 each; the tractor is a canvass and he is pretty impressed with it. In reality, the pictures are actually hanging straight; I did a poor job proving that with this photograph.

He isn't so impressed, however, with the quilt I labored over. He told me he likes white beds and threw everything off of it. While he was napping, on the couch, Tori re-made the bed nicely for him and he threw a bit of a tantrum when he saw it. He again ripped the blanket off and tossed it on the floor.
Turns out the bed is good for jumping as well.

That's my wild little man; he is so much fun. I've always enjoyed the two year old stage (seriously.)

Tomorrow's Friday again? Where do the weeks keep going?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Quilt Update and Website (and a distant birthday)

JD took little Elijah to town with him to run errands while Alei attends Aunt Deb's girl small group. It has actually given me the time to finish piecing the quilt together that I'm making for Elijah's new "big boy" bed. My child #9 is the first child that I actually bought a toddler bed for, because he is going to continue sleeping in our bedroom for a while longer due to bedroom logistics. We have plenty of bedrooms, but none near our room (and who am I fooling anyway, he generally sleeps with us the latter part of the night.)

So, here's the quilt all quilted and pieced. I need to bind it, then trim and clip the in-between-the-square-seams so that they will get all soft and fluffy when I wash it.

Here's the website if anyone is interested in making the easiest quilt I've come across.


You shouldn't have to see the quilt again until it's finished on the bed.

A more important thing to note is that my oldest son turned 19 yesterday and spent his first birthday away from home! Thanks to the wonderful people in Durango, he had a wonderful birthday in spite of not being with his family. He does fly home next Friday for his Christmas break, so we are all looking forward to seeing him for the first time in four months. Whenever the kids ask Elijah what he wants for Christmas, he says, "Brother to come home." It will be fun to see Elijah's excitement when he walks off the plane. We are all heading into D.C. for the big event!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Just When I Was Going to Blog...

My story sounds like the traditional "the dog ate my home-work" story, but it's true...JD ran out the door to pick Moriah up at soccer practice and I was preparing to do a quilt update post, when the phone rang. JD was calling to let me know that the old woman (who's not been the coziest neighbor) called to tell JD that she had my white silkie chicken and was trying to keep her five dogs away from it. I yelled for James and Ben, grabbed JD's flannel shirt and ran out to the van. On the two minute trip down the dark, narrow road in my enormous van, JD called back to say that she couldn't hold on to silkie, but she put all her dogs in so that they wouldn't hurt the chicken.

Long story short, we came back for more appropriate winter gear and flashlights, but we couldn't find little silkie in the 100 acre woods. I'm hoping that he somehow survives the cold night, the foxes and raccoons, and her dogs in the morning long enough that we can find him in the day light. This is the hard part about country living - we've lost several cats and lots and lots of chickens.
Something is currently killing my guinea hens, one every few days. Whatever it is doesn't drag it off, like the foxes do, but kills it and eats only a portion and leaves the very unwelcome mess for us to come home to. So far, it's been only during the day when we are gone. I DON'T know what my wimpy dogs are doing while this is going on , but I'm back to thinking that we are going to have to get a "real" watch dog in the spring.

So, tomorrow I'll plan on my quilt update post; I still have to figure out how to border a quilt. I'm thinking that I'm going to keep going on my little sewing time over Chirstmas and whip out some twirl skirts for Julia! Oh, and Alyssa is going to start her own quilt for a very special somebody as soon as Grandma picks out squares from her suitcase of already-cut quilt squares and sends them to us.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Modern Day Slavery

Human trafficking recently surpassed drugs as the biggest illegal money maker. Unfortunately, there are many slaves working in plain sight right here is America. Here's a story of 20 West African girls that were brought to America for an education and were forced to work in New Jersey braid shops 7 days a week without pay for years.


So, so sad.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Quilt Verses Corn-rows

There was only one thing that I really wanted to do this weekend and that's work on Elijah's quilt. It's been so fun that I'm very anxious to get back to it. I started quilting the individual pieces after this picture was taken; this quilt is put together after quilting each individual square.

I haven't touched the quilt since Thursday, because since school ended yesterday, I have done nothing but hair - NOTHING! I took out Julia's hair, washed it, combed it out and then redid it. While Julia played in the bathtub yesterday, I took out part of Tori's and started re-cornrowing that part of it. I just finished Tori's this evening.

I'm pretty excited that I've finally mastered basic corn-rowing; I just wish that it made the whole hair experience faster - so far nothing seems to make it faster.

I cornrowed all of Tori's, in three different layers.

I also cornrowed the front of Julia's, but did box braids in the back. They are both happily covered in beads and you can hear them coming two rooms away.

I asked them to stand for a picture together and this is what I got -
I sure do love my little girls; one day they will appreciate hair-day! There will be no quilting tomorrow either as my house is begging to be cleaned.