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.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I'm at it Again

The last two days I have painted 1/2 of the school room. The prep work is long, due to the bookcases having to be unloaded and moved. We unloaded them right before Thanksgiving to fix broken shelves and didn't plan on doing it again so soon. The color I bought for the main part of the house is just a neutral tan with a slight tinge of the kitchen green in it, so it's hard to tell where where I've painted and not.

The plan for today was finishing. Instead, I was up a lot of the night with Elijah who was running a fever. The blessing is that he is fine today. JD ended up driving my sister and daughters to a bag sale at a consignment shop since it started snowing and we didn't feel good about sending them off on their own. Of course, there's no painting (or sleep) for me while all the big people are gone. So, I wait........and hope that they remember, and are thankful, for all the times that we drop everything for them.

Have a blessed weekend.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


It's hard to believe, but my little man was officially 1 1/2 yesterday. Since he and Julia are exactly two years apart, Julia turned 3 1/2. It's amazing how time flies!

I feel like I have so many things hanging, in real life and on the blog. We are still praying, and hoping, to close on the final loan of our house, in spite of the value dropping another $85,000. It was a really bad time to build, although we had no idea when we began.

We are also still struggling along with our renter. Although he has officially been evicted in court, we have allowed him to stay in the house under strict agreements. It has been a very trying and stressful situation for months; the by far most stressful part of the arrangement for me is how casually he views the situation.

Thankfully, all our frustrations in life are only that - frustrations. Everyone is healthy and happy (most of the time) so I'm very thankful for that!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Food for Thought

Normally, I just add articles by a link, but this is so good that I'm hoping everyone will take a few minutes to read it. I feel so helpless to help the people of Haiti. I've given some money; I'll take clothes and food to the local place that is trucking them to Haiti, but it just seems so small in the face of such a huge crises.

Here's an article that is written by Randy Bohlender. I don't know anything about him other than the little clip that accompanied this article. He raises some huge concerns that I didn't think of before reading it. Let me know what you think.

January 20,2010 by Randy Bohlender

I got a call from Senator Claire McCaskill’s office today. Allow me to say that while I probably don’t agree on a lot of issues with the Senator, her staff has been incredibly helpful and responsive. Double thumbs up to the Senator and her team on this.
They were getting ready to get on a conference call with the Department of Homeland Security to discuss a
recent memo from Secretary Janet Napolitano and wanted some clarification of what I was hoping to do in bringing in orphans, along with any questions I might have should they get a chance to ask them.
Uh, yes. Thank you. “Ask them what the plan is for orphans who were clearly orphaned before the earthquake but who were not yet assigned to US families…”.
Those are my mission right now. The kids who have US moms and dads batting for them will find their way out over the next few days….but many kids whose orphanages have been decimated will not get humanitarian parole.
Believe it or not, after the conference call, Senator McCaskill’s office called me back to let me know how it went. I told you they were helpful.
As it turns out, according to strict interpretation of the memo, there is the chance of humanitarian parole for those already in process with a family, but not for those who were not in process (which is to say ‘most of them’).
Early on, the government suggested this applied to 250 orphans with assigned parents, although they’ve already identified 600 sets of parents so estimates are being revised to reflect reality. No estimates so far on how many were without assigned parents and therefore not eligible for parole, but you can multiply the other number by….a lot.
“So what’s the plan for the children left behind?” I asked. I’m particularly concerned about these kids because the conditions they’re living in are atrocious.
One orphanage worker, Troy Livesay with
Heartline Ministries, twittered today: “Our clinic turned into a hospital, and our sewing room into a surgical ward,and an arm was amputated with a reciprocating saw.”
What about those orphans left behind in that atmosphere? It turns out the US is a little skittish about just coming in and taking charge (not sure when we developed this neurosis) and so we are hoping that Unicef or some other international organization will come in and set up a ‘Safe Haven’ for those children.
At this point, I’m sitting in my office balancing Piper in my lap, trying to keep her from mashing down on my keyboard. ”A safe haven? What’s that?”
“It’s a camp.” The senate staffer tells me.
I grow a little sick. I went to camp as a little kid and didn’t really like it. I wondered what this camp was going to be like. “A big camp for all the orphans? Where will that be?”
“In Haiti.”
That’s it. At this point, that’s our federal response to the Haitian orphan crisis. A big camp in a country that was poor and chaotic before the living snot got shaken out of it a week ago, after which it really went to pot. Enjoy camp, kids.
But wait! Aren’t children getting out? I see it on CNN!
Yes, I know you’re reading about groups getting out, but those are groups who already have parents waiting for them. We are getting our own out and putting the rest in camps. That’s not humanitarian. That’s taking care of ourselves. And for those left behind, can we just go ahead and paint a big target on Haiti and declare “Sex Traffickers Apply Here”?
Nicollette Grams had a horrifying piece in today’s The Atlantic, where she wrote:
“In Haiti’s unstable post-quake atmosphere, at least one industry is poised to flourish. For those who buy and sell children for sex and cheap labor, Haiti is ripe with opportunity.”
THE ATLANTIC :: 1.19.09
Here’s the scoop.
I am not proposing we fly in with a C130 and scoop up every child in Haiti. I am saying that in cases like one specific orphanage that I’m in discussion with – where the fifty children escaped with their lives when their orphanage ‘fell down’ (their words), and only fourteen of those kids are eligible for humanitarian parole under current regulations, that I want those other thirty six children here in Kansas City where we will care for them in a safe, secure location until such time as the US Government figures out what the heck to do with them or the Haitian people rebuild their world.
I’m not asking for wholesale adoption. I’m not asking to place them in an over burdened state foster care system. I’m asking for the church to step up and make a way for these kids that satisfies state requirements, honors Haitian sovereignty and keeps a door open for their return to Haiti in due time.
I know, I know, it’s never been done before. Probably not true, but it’s never been done by us before – so that’s suddenly the measuring stick of what we do or do not do?
The secular media is ringing the warning bell. If we don’t take them in, the traffickers will. Are you okay with that?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hair Tales Today

Julia headed off to church today with her hair loose and beautiful. She has gorgeous, little spiral curls, but they knot up the minute she takes a nap or rolls around at all. Here she and Tori are modeling their new Poppy Dip dresses (http://www.itspoppydip.blogspot.com.)

Once we got home, I settled on a fast, easy, no-small-braids or beads style. Here's the twists I watched a YouTube video on. They were fast and easy and I think they are cute on her.

I'm hoping they last until next weekend with a bit of freshening, but that may be wishful thinking!

The good news is that I'm done for this weekend. It would have been far less time consuming to have painted another room of the house. I guess that's what I'll plan on for next weekend!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hair Horror

Ok, I learned a lesson the hard way. Supposedly, the smaller the braids or corn-rows, the longer they can remain in. So, I did Julia's hair is almost 80 little braids and left them in for a month. It was horrible to get out! Horrible! I'm embarrassed to admit that my cousin, who only has a Liberian son, came up with the idea of soaking the braids in oil to help get them out and that helped tremendously. (Why didn't I think of that?) I believe that we took over six hours to get that poor baby's braids out! I worked so long yesterday that my elbows ached so badly last night that I couldn't sleep.

Here's Alei doing a late shift; we were trying to accomplish a chunk of it while Julia slept last night.

The difference between Julia and Elijah is that Elijah had a long nap while Julia had no nap at all.

Alei doesn't wear her glasses too often, so Elijah was quite interested in checking them out.

He tried them on a few times; Julia slept through it all.

I did a lengthy shift this morning, in spite of my elbows, but we really saw the end when Alei and my sister pulled a double-duty hair shift this afternoon. I didn't want to work anywhere near the carpet the way we were dousing her with olive oil, so Moriah loaned Julia her portable DVD player. (I am hoping that it works again tomorrow after all the spilled tea evaporates out of it.)

When Julia got tired this afternoon, I got her blanket and pillow for her and the work continued.

Tomorrow Julia is going to church with wild and free hair, then we are going to attempt a fairly simple style that will last about a week. It will be quite a while before I do micro-braids again! In fact, I am planning on looking into locing her hair into permanent tiny braids. I know everyone has an opinion on the good and bad of locs, but continuing to spent this kind of time on Julia's hair is pretty difficult for me as a homeschooling mother of nine!

I wish I had taken a picture of Julia when we were done. I promised her that I would take her out for fried chicken when we finished - she about deserved Disney World with how well she did for so many hours. Anyway, she had her hair sticking up everywhere, a frilly, summer white dress, jacket and emerged with her red high-tops. It was beyond comical. I let her wear the dress, but convinced her to add church shoes instead of the high-tops, and Alei, Aunt Deb and I headed out with Julia for chicken! We had a good time.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Haiti and Orphan Future

I got all excited when I saw that the state on TN was making a list of home-study ready parents for orphans in Haiti. According to this article, I'm not sure there is any reason to do so. I'm thrilled that the in progress adoptees are being sent to their new homes immediately, but I grieve for all the ones that are left behind!


I put tiny, tiny braids in Julia's hair the last time I did it - I'm really regretting it now that I'm taking her hair out. We've been at it well over two hours and I'm maybe 1/6th of the way through it! It's going to be a long day tomorrow - for her and me! I'm hoping to do a new style on her that will match her flair for fashion!

That's my girl.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tori is a Whole Hand

Little Tori turned five yesterday. It's been her dream for months to go to Chuck E. Cheese. We literally haven't set foot in the establishment since we took her for her third birthday, but it's all she's dreamed of for months. Chuck E. Cheese is one of those things that we did frequently when we only had two - four children, but it's definitely not cost effective for a family of 12 (including Aunt Deb.) Even with my new-found frugality skills, the night cost a small fortune. Oh well, a Liberian princess only turns five once (and it will be a long while before we return.)

It was Elijah's first time meeting Chuck E. JD has always referred to him as "the big rat." When the animated Chuck E. would light up and start singing, Elijah would point and yell, "rat." He was pretty impressed with "the big rat."

When the dressed up Chuck E. made his rounds, my girls were first for pictures. They love any dressed up thing. I really want to take them to Disney World while they are still little enough to be thrilled with dressed up princesses!

Of course, they loved the games. Julia liked virtual horse racing.

Elijah was impressed that Barney had eyes.

At the end, we pulled out the cake and presents. Tori wanted an all-pink strawberry cake, but chose a variety of primary candles. I'm not sure why I didn't pull the cake out of the box, guess I was slightly distracted by the fun chaos.

Check out Elijah waiting for cake cutting time.

Tori has wanted Heelies for a long time since her four older siblings have them. She isn't always the most graceful princess, so we weren't sure it was a good idea when she was three or four, but now.........the big five. So, Heelies she got. That smile says it all.

At the end of the evening, all the kids put together their earned tickets and donated them to Tori. She chose a fine assortment of cotton candy, other candy and plastic junk. The best choice had to be the 200 ticket, large plastic cock-roach looking bug that she carried around in her back pocket.

Happy, happy birthday Princess Victoria!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Easy and Fun

Here's a fun and easy way to help Haiti (and the Congo) - purchase a $10 raffle for a weekend at the beach in Florida. 100% of the money will help the desperate and you may win a vacation.

Good stuff! Details and the chip- in button -


Tuesday, January 19, 2010


All I can think about is Haiti and all the children. I can only hope that the government of Haiti is going to make adoptions easier, faster and less expensive as so many, many children are suffering and will continue to suffer otherwise. As of now, you can only adopt from Haiti if you have three or less biological children; adopted children don't count - explain the logic behind that law? Anyway, there are so many people that will open their hearts and homes if Haiti will allow it; I pray they do!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

One Room Down

The kitchen is done! It can be a bit stressful to paint with lots of little people around, but that's my reality - lots of work and lots of little people. JD is plugging away installing a water tank for the geo-thermal system down-stairs, then he'll be back to the obvious finishing work in the basement. We have been pushing to finish things for a spring appraisal in hopes of closing on our final mortgage, but prices around still seem to be in a decline so we are having a appraiser friend come Tuesday to give us an idea if we are better going for it now with unfinished things or waiting a bit to finish the basement.

So, in spite of my house woes, here's the kitchen. Ignore the big newspaper recycling pile and the burnt out light-bulbs, I didn't notice them until I looked at this picture.

This is Tori and Julia hair week, so no more painting until at least next weekend.

Friday, January 15, 2010

So I Don't Get Bored....

What should a mother of nine do when math is droning on and on and she doesn't think she can take it another moment?

She should start taping the kitchen for her weekend paint project, of course.

However, once she pulls out the oven and the fridge, a decent amount of cleaning behind them is required.

Once that is done, everyone is hungry for lunch. (Although math still goes on...)

Once bellies are full, Tori reminds me that I told her that she could play with the modeling clay THAT day.

There are, or course, countless interruptions, like pulling Elijah off the ladder over and over.

The good news is that after the math, and lunch, and the clay, and a hundred other things, Elijah took a nap and it was warm enough for the other kids to play outside, so I actually painted one side of the kitchen.

Even better, I love the color; it was the color that I was going for in the entry way and didn't achieve. Now I'm going to re-paint the entry way, but only after the school room, dining room, living room, hall and stairway.

Did I mention that I got a good deal on paint the other night? Good thing I like the color!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pool Ball

Elijah is a pool fanatic, not the swimming type of pool, but the pool table and pool ball kind. For months he has been slightly obsessed with the pool table, balls and the game itself. In fact, his first word combination was "good shot!" He has been saying it for months and considers it the ultimate compliment. The phrase has carried over to the point we compliment each other for a variety of activities during with the day with "good shot." When he's upstairs and hears the clang of the pool balls, he bolts for the stairs; he doesn't want to risk missing a good shot! Here's our little Buddy with the game.

Thankfully, he can't reach the balls yet without assistance.

The game has now carried over to the little girls. They often play pool on the toy train table, with raquet balls and whatever works as a stick. Here they were yesterday, notice Tori's little fingers holding the pool cue just the way she has observed.

I have looked for a small pool table on Craigs list that they can actually play; I think I need to keep looking.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tori Toes and School Helpers

Warning: Poor focus picture ahead, but I wanted to remember Tori's story. On Sunday she wore her faithful off-white "hoses" for the obviously last time. When I put them on her, they were just worn in the toes, but when she came home and took her shoes off...........

Her eyes were huge, as only Tori can do, and she looked at me and said, "Look Mom, my feet grew so much while I was at church that my toes grew right out of my hoses." She was completely serious.
On a school note, we have serious pen and pencil issues at this house. It doesn't seem to matter how many new ones I put in the pencil cup, they all disappear! Yesterday, I pulled out another box of pencils and started sharpening. I was soon joined by my helpers; they did a pretty good job.
And my friend, Ms. Wendy, is right - Ticonderoga pencils are the best. They sharpen well and the erasers actually erase without leaving smudges. They are worth their high-pencil price tag, unless your children lose them at the rate that mine do.

Life is an open book, fill it with hope, love, dreams and memories.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Green Walls and Smart Buddy

So, my greenish entry way that I liked pretty well yesterday looked neon green last night in the artificial light. My kind husband did point out that the light cover is a shade of brown that distorts the light, but it's still not the color that I want to paint my entire upstairs. This is my second round of painting that I just haven't gotten the color that I hoped. So, I'm going to pick again and paint another area, then probably re-paint the entry area again at the end of my up-stairs paint-a-thon. At least it doesn't have dirty walls for now.

On a seperate subject, I refrain from writing that my children are cute or smart, as I know that everyone thinks that about their own children. I try harder to just tell their story as that is what I want to remember years from now. This is one of those times, however, that I am amazed at Elijah's little mind. He saw me once put the light cover back on and hours later, when he managed to get a screw-driver, he headed right over to it and concentrated to get the screw-driver in the actual screw. Of course, he was wearing Julia's mittens the whole time which only added to the humor of it. I'm amazed out how much they learn when you have no idea they are even paying attention.

I have to find this little guy some play tools. He cries for JD's tools, which is just like Gabriel at that age. Gabriel also wore red mittens the whole summer that he was two - amazing similarities!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I Did It

I painted the entry way and I actually think I like the color. I wanted to just paint it tan, but since the entire down-stairs is tan, my carpet is tan and my furniture is tan, I thought I should go with some color. So, it's still pretty neutral with a bit of green. Here's Julia proudly posing by the window that she taped up for me while I painted.

I've dreaded painting since we moved in, but here's the wall segment behind Julia that demonstrates why it must be done.

9 kids over 18 months put their hands on the wall a lot!

End of the Week

We got hit with snow again, this is pretty wild weather for Virginia! It was only a few inches, but I thought our Friday school would be filled with, "can we go out nows" but no one asked. The boys were exceptionally slow and spent over two hours on their one little Saxon math sheet. I guess, after a friend's encouragement yesterday, that I'm going to switch their math and see if they will do better with a more hands-on approach. Typically, 3rd grade math is the most time-consuming part of my day!

We finished our long week back to school after Christmas break as well as babysitting our bonus baby all five days. All in all, it went pretty well; getting back into it appears more difficult for me than my students. Here's Alyssa's study buddy. She set him up with Julia's pink "puter" to work while she did her math. He may be distracting but she handles it well.

I cut quite a bit of Elijah's hair and it makes him look so much older. He's still our baby boy though!

Today is paint day. The entire upstairs is only primered, not painted. It looks OK until someone touches the wall, then it doesn't clean. So at our house, that means certain walls are disgusting. So, I'm beginning the enormous task of painting the upstairs little by little. I just bought one gallon and am starting with just the entry way to make sure that I actually like the color I chose. It's taped and waiting for Elijah's nap-time.

Happy weekend.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Laundry Dress-Up

Do you notice anything different about this enormous laundry pile? (Other than it was supposed to be folded and put away last night?)

Good thing that the laundry stayed, because it provided a great morning game of dress-up.

My favorite was Tori in JD's jeans - too big was an understatement.

Then they started performing for all of us trying to do school. Since I couldn't even focus, you know James and Ben didn't even remember what subject they were on.

I had to relocate the boys to another, more quiet, room. I can't imagine life without my Liberian princesses!