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.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Raised Beds and a Birthday

I am rather sick and tired of being sick and tired, so I'm heading to the doctor today. I'm OK during the day, but I cough horribly all night long. Last night, I slept for two hours and sat on the couch coughing the rest of the night. However, life still going on.

JD built our first raised garden bed. We used left-over supplies from our house-building adventure. We are building two beds this year, then have plans for five more over the next few years. Eventually we may fence in the garden area as well.

We filled the beds with top soil, ash from bon-fires, some used chicken bedding and five bags of soil conditioner. I hope this all works out, we are far from garden experts!

Little Julia worked so hard cutting the bags open with her little red safety scissors. I love to have the little guys working along side us outside. When my Mom gardened, I was never involved (nor did I want to be) but I want my kids to enjoy our time together and gain some knowledge from all our projects outside.
Yesterday was Alei's 16th birthday, but I can't post pictures of our little celebration until they are Alei-approved. We are 48 hours from big party and I have so much to do! First, I need some strong anti-biotics!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Julia at Home and On the Go

We had to head out first thing this morning to pick up Alei's dress at David's Bridal. It's taken eight kids to get me there, but I don't think it's worth the fight to get Julia in complete matching clothes. This is what she came out in. I was OK with the mis-matched pink sweater and dress, but the red high-tops weren't the best. I told her that she could wear it however. When Alei saw her attire, she persuaded her to wear brown sandals instead.

When we got home, I made bread, cinnamon rolls and cookies. I gave Julia a bit of flour and she and Tori played happily for at least a half an hour.

Julia has the most hilarious conversations with whatever she is playing with. When I walked by, she said, "I am the Mom. I know everything! I told James and Ben to listen to everything I say. If they don't like it, they can go sit on their beds." (See the need-to-control I've mentioned before?)
Here's one of Tori's looks; she's very animated! She is also sporting a hideous wrist sweat-band that one of the boys blessed her with.

This whole situation took a nose-dive south when I left the kitchen to put Elijah to sleep and James joined the game. He added some oil to the mess and then Julia headed for the eggs. Lets just say, James was in trouble and the girls were booted from the kitchen.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I think I'm over-stimulated at the moment. With so much to do, I seem to be doing less. Of course, my spring cold isn't helping my head work correctly. I need to consult the list I made, as I don't remember what I should be doing right now; I am fairly sure, however, that it isn't blogging.

More tomorrow........

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Next Two Weeks

We spent the weekend busy as usual. While I sat in the light rain at a soccer game, JD started installing energy-efficient foil in the attic. While that job stretches over as many cool mornings as he can find, we also laid out the lines for our raised garden beds. We are building two this year, then planning on adding five more over the next few years.

We are still in limbo with Gabriel's immediate-future plans. An opportunity has presented itself that he may delay his entry into the military a year for. Other than that, I have only a week to decide if our family is going to do summer swim team this summer; we generally swim every summer, but feel we may wish to focus on other things this summer.

Looming this next two weeks are two big events that I also need to focus on. Alei turns 16 on Thursday and we are hosting a big 18/16 combo birthday party for her and Gabriel on Sunday. Whenever you have loads of youth, you need loads of food! So, we are preparing a bon-fire, volley-ball court, the game-room and lots of food. I'm so hoping it doesn't rain as it so often seems to whenever I'm brave enough to plan a large number out-side event.

Once we pull off Sunday's party, we are heading on a big trip the next Friday. My niece is getting married and Alei is in the wedding. We decided to combine the wedding with a long, long over-due family vacation, so we rented a house near the beach in Charleston, S.C. for the week.

I really need to get organized, because while writing this I realized that Alei's dress is in and we need to go pick it up.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Surprises Continue....

Thursday was my real birthday; as a surprise, Deb came for dinner and JD created my favorite angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream. I thought the birthday fun was over, but I was just informed that Debra is on her way to stay with the kids while we go to Olive Garden FOR REAL.

I have been overly birthday blessed this year; I guess 40 isn't so bad!

Here's my completely unrelated Elijah pictures from swing-set painting day; I purposely chose a shirt the same color as the paint we were using so it wouldn't show.

Happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Book(s) Review

How about a quick review of what I'm reading? I just finished this book and really enjoyed it. I bought it on a whim while I was ordering some books for my children, but it was really interesting. Of course, I love reading about Africa! It's written by a lady who lives in South Africa and struggles to relate to the S. African black population beyond being the foreign white woman. It raises some serious issues of being able to relate to Africans when their perception (which is generally true) is that white people don't go hungry. She tells the stories of several people in the book, all true and all interesting.

I am only about a quarter of the way into Sacred Parenting. It is very good and concentrates only on what parents are called to "receive" by parenting. There's no "fix the kid" theories, only "change the perspective of the parents" ideas.

Finally, here are four of the five books recommended to me to aid with my current Julia issues. I have only begun Parenting the Hurt Child and Beyond Logic.

Parenting the Hurt Child is beginning so basic that I don't feel I've read far enough to really gain any insight yet, but I'm encouraged that it's coming. I really like it's summary on why therapy doesn't work unless the therapist is attachment-trained.

Beyond Logic is interesting; I feel it's going to be more practical with older children, so I'm kind of reading it more from a James and Ben view than a Julia view. I am not sure what to think about his theory that children are only driven by love and fear; where does one mesh emotions like jealousy? It seems too simplistic, but I'm keeping an open mind.

Anyone read any of these books that would like to comment?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Outside Update

I was reminded in some book that I was reading why I wanted to raise my children on a farm; there are so many opportunities for learning and work. Although my children may not always agree, I think the chores are so good for them! I also think that the fun out-weighs the work, for the children anyway. Here's Elijah helping catch Silkie-rooster to get his wings clipped.

Once we caught him, Elijah gave him a big kiss.

I love this picture since it captures James kissing Elijah. With Gabriel being the only boy for over a decade, it's amazing that I ended up with three more boys!

JD and I painted our quite worn benches on Sunday afternoon.
The boys were really wanting to help, so I spent Monday afternoon painting the swing-set with them. Eventually, Moriah and Alyssa were helping too. It's not the most professional job, but it's protected from the summer sun and the boys got a lesson in painting. While we were talking and painting, we were laughing about Tom Sawyer conning his friends into painting the fence.
(JD wants a little sign hung on it that he had nothing to do with the paint job.)

James and Ben put several "globs" (scientific word) of tad-pole eggs into last years baby duck pool; they are now nice, big tad-poles.

Lastly, we are taking vroom-vroom (Elijah word) rides every day. The excitement never diminishes!

We bought supplies to build my raised garden - hopefully it will be this week-end's project.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My BIG Surprise

My husband and oldest daughter coordinated a very-surprise party for my BIG 40 birthday. As I posted yesterday, JD and I went out for an afternoon of shopping and we were supposedly heading to Olive Garden for dinner. We took Elijah shopping and were planning on dropping him off at my sister's house while we ate. When I called Deb to let her know that we were on our way, she told me that she had stopped at the church to catch up on a few things and could I bring him there instead so they could go walking. Since she and Elijah often go walking on Wednesday nights, I certainly didn't think a thing about it. While I had been shopping all afternoon, Debs, the kids and a few friends were setting up fellowship hall with a Mexican theme.

There was even a fully-staffed non-alcoholic margarita bar.

Thankfully, my one daughter captured pictures of the crowd waiting to yell, "Surprise!" Elijah fell asleep in his car seat, so I ran up to the door to make sure it wasn't locked while JD lugged in Elijah's whole car seat.

When I pulled the door open, it honestly took a few minutes for it all to register. I was so shocked! People said I looked scared to death. I just remember thinking, "oh, no, Elijah is going to wake up." Then I saw Julia and thought, "how did she get here?" Then, it registered that people were yelling, "surprise and happy birthday." I felt like crying when I saw my friend that we met in Liberia's face. They have 10 children and drove two hours to be there. That was the best!

JD gave a brief speech on the history of why he chose the Mexican theme; it was because we met when he "crashed" my 20th birthday party at a Mexican restaurant. He came accompanying another guest, but we didn't get into all that!

We had yummy, yummy Mexican food, catered from our favorite Mexican restaurant and home-made by friends.

Gabriel had two friends that worked hard all night making margaritas for everyone.

It was so fun to eat and visit with everyone. Its amazing how much fun the kids had also playing and beating each other with baloons.

Elijah slept for about an hour in the party noise leaned against the wall in his car seat! What a good present for his Mommy.

Unfortunately, we forgot to take a picture of my "over the hill" cake. The second cake was a happy sun and flowers.

My kids remembered that I said a few years ago that I wanted my own pinata. So, we had a Mommy pinata. Only about three Mommas hit it until Debra knocked the donkey's head completely off. Too bad JD spent the money stocking it with good Mommy chocolates, because the kids dove in and I'm quite sure that very few Mommys even got a piece.

After hours of party fun, we had a bit of clean up work. Many hands make light work however.

Even the kids chipped in. Here's Tori and Elijah vacuuming their little hearts out, even though it was hours past bed-time.

This really was my best birthday ever. I've never had a surprise party before, in fact, I haven't had a party since that one at the Mexican restaurant 20 years ago. I felt very loved that my family and friends would put that much work into making me feel special!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wow, the Week

Wow, the week is gone. I've done the teaching, cooking and cleaning, but the blog has been neglected. We had dear friends come yesterday for the day and this morning was Moriah's first soccer game of the season. Now JD and I are heading out for a shopping date and dinner at Olive Garden. Technically, it's our anniversary dinner out (from December!) We've been out for several other dinners, but the Olive Garden has been post-poned a few times, so we are off......

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Gabriel and the Military

The older my kids get, the less blog time they receive; generally they want it this way. Gabriel has been known to scrutinize any pictures of himself that I put on the blog rather harshly. (Should this blog post disappear at any time, assume that he caught wind of it and didn't approve it for whatever reason.)

Gabriel is a senior this year and has spent the year agonizing over what he wants to do with his life. Let me just say that I'd be happy to set his course for him, but it isn't what he is interested in. I just want him to do their college on-line or down the road at the local community college, but Gabriel has never been very academically motivated. He intends on completing college, but doesn't want to be a full-time student. Gabriel has also always wanted to be a police-man or in the military, so he has been actively looking into combining those passions. It seems in spite of Gabriel being 50% my DNA, he is 100% like his father and his quest for adventure is much higher than his quest for knowledge.

The short story is that Gabriel has been talking to every military recruiter. They all have different programs, different strengths and different educational opportunities. He is about 99.9% sure that he is going to join one of them, so it's just a matter of what route he feels called to go.

In my defense, I grew up as a military daughter. I married JD at his seven year mark in the Navy, and finished the 20 years as a Navy wife. It's a hard life in a lot of ways; it's not the first pick that I would probably choose for any of my children. I've pretty much always told Gabriel that he can only consider joining the military AFTER college. Well, that's not going any better than all those years I said, "I certainly won't marry anyone in the military!"

So, I'm praying for peace. I've prayed for signs. I'm praying for wisdom for Gabriel.

We did ask him to delay any final decisions until after the men's retreat that he and JD went on last weekend. Now it's come and gone and the final decision is getting closer. I'll keep you posted.

Here's a few unauthorized photos of Gabriel from last weekends retreat. Here he is doing something "fun" that I would consider torture!

Here he is in a friendly game of flag-football.

I know everyone must think this, but I keep thinking........... where has the last 18 years gone? How can I be old enough to have a child that may actually leave the nest? (sigh)

Monday, April 12, 2010


I finally got to talk to a real, live doctor at a major attachment center a few hours away today. They have only SIX international slots A YEAR - crazy, but the rest are reserved for foster-care adoptees. Anyway, after a while on the phone, the lady blessed me with the news that there is only one slot left open for THE YEAR, but she would take Julia's case to the board to be approved for it. Once we are approved, we go for a long day of evaluation, then begin weekly therapy closer to home.

It will be interesting to coordinate everything, but I really want to solve these issues we are having and move on to a healthier Julia.

Here's Julia on the phone telling my cousin about her hair getting done and the two fruit-snacks she received as a reward.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekend Re-Cap

There are two things that I don't do too well without - my husband and my camera. I didn't have either this weekend since JD, Gabriel and my camera headed to the mountains for a men's retreat. While I've missed them all, and not had any new pictures to post, we've had a good weekend. I skipped school (you can do that on occasion when you homeschool) to meet friends at Chick Fil A on Friday. It has been my foster-parents-turned-adoptive-Moms gathering hole for years now. The kids had fun and we Moms sip diet coke and talk for hours. It's pretty entertaining really, when you note our inventory of children. There are kids of every color, from three continents, parading out of the play-ground and calling Mom; we turn heads, but are generally too involved in our own conversations to really take note.

On Saturday, I hauled the kids to a farm where they played and the Moms had a Pampered Chef party. I finally ordered the pizza stones, courtesy of my Mom, that I've been coveting for years. I also gutted the boy's room and took Alei for a job interview. Boy, oh boy, I wish I had pictures of the treasures waiting for me in the boy's room. If I had even one picture of the garbage pile, it would have given you an indication. It turns out that James is the ultimate junk collector (and hider); the bulk of his toys are now residing in the locked storage room! He knows I won't approve, so he hides his garbage in places one would never look. He has also taken many short-cuts in the cleaning department by stuffing. I now know where the 40 missing socks have been the last few months!

Today we went to church as a party of 9 and returned as a party of 12; nothing like a few extra kids to liven up a Sunday afternoon. After picking up pizza, I'm making cookies - that should hold them all off until this evening. JD and Gabriel are rushing home as Gabriel has a mandatory Y life-guard meeting this evening. It will be nice to have everyone back where they belong, including my camera!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sad Story, on so many levels.

This adoption story will do so, so much damage to the already fragile adoption industry! But just looking at the case itself, is so sad.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article 1264744/American-sends-adopted-Russian-boy-behavioural-problems.html

I refuse to believe that any mom spends the time and money investment into adopting an international child because she wants to fail. I believe this lady thought she was providing a home for a boy who would not otherwise to able to have one. I am sure that she suffered more in the few months that she had him than she ever dreamed a cute little blond boy could dish out. The sad really only begins there. Did she bring in professionals? Did she have a battery of attachment tests run on him? Did she give up life as she knew it to provide what this little boy needed to succeed in her home? Once she decided to not parent him; did she search for a loving family that would? I'm amazed at the gifting some have to raise the children that the masses are unable to handle - did she search for another family for him?

Those would all seem to be based on what was in the best interest of the boy; returning him with a note seems to be the worst option for a little seven year old boy. My heart breaks for him. A re-homing situation would hurt, but it would still have provided a family and a future for this little boy. It's so sad; and his face reflects that sadness.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rental Round Two

So, now that we have new renters in our "yellow" house, we thought we got some time to breathe easy in rental-ville, but not so.......Did I ever mention that we actually have three rentals? Well, rental number two had a flood; not a few inches of water flood, but a 4 foot deep basement flood that ruined everything! Thankfully, we have flood insurance, but it's still a sizeable deductible, doesn't cover everything and a big pain in the butt; never mind the items that our tenants have also lost! So, again, I'm not coming off as the land-lord poster child, but so be it.

Our tenants are actually coming for dinner tonight, so I have plenty to do! But I have made time for my favorite picture from the park a few days ago.

I love the contrast of how brown James' eyes are and how blue Elijah's are.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oh, Julia

There is no rhyme or reason to Julia's mood (that I can see.) Yesterday was one of the worst days she has ever had! I estimate that she averaged about six hours of crying for things that were totally unreasonable. I even took her to the much requested park while Moriah was at soccer practice; that worked for about 30 minutes then she started crying to go to Chick-Fil-A. By afternoon, I pursued more information on professional attachment testing. By evening, I ordered another three recommended books from Amazon. By bed-time, I was too exhausted to even cry!

Today, Julia woke up happy and healthy. She has not barked orders at her siblings and she hasn't hung on me whining at all! One of the sweetest things about Julia is the fact she apologizes about all kinds of things on her own. She has told me that she's sorry about spilling nailing polish last week, sorry that she pulled all her clothes out of her closet and sorry she screamed so much yesterday!

After analyzing her so much yesterday, I have concluded that she CAN NOT be over-tired or have junk food. Those definitely set us up for a lose-lose environment.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Snake

As the kids were hunting eggs, James found a tiny snake in the window well. I am NOT a snake lover, but neither am I scared to death of them. My snake-loving sister, however, immediately identified it as a "safe and friendly" and retrieved it for the snake-brave children to hold.

James has no fear! He has also been passed the torch of dead-animal retriever since Gabriel isn't home much of the time. If the cat brings a mouse, mole or dead bird, we get James. If a chicken dies, we call James. He's a tough little cookie, just handles it like a man.

So, James was first snake charmer -

Ben wants to be brave, especially if someone comments on how brave James is. Ben has come a long ways from running across the yard screaming, but it still was a challenge to touch it at first.

After a while, Ben worked himself up to wanting to hold the snake. He chickened out several times, but finally took the snake.

Look how proud of himself he is!

My only snake-admiring daughter is Alei; I don't know where she got it. (I guess from her Aunt?)

Alei's friend, Jordan, didn't have any qualms about him either.

Lastly, Deb's friend, Channy, held the snake - you'd have to spend a little time around her, but she is hilarious! Deb was counseling her to hold it over the mulch so it wouldn't get hurt if she freaked out and dropped it. Channy replied that she didn't want it hurt, she wanted it dead!

It was all fun and games until Ben did drop the snake, then snake-charming Aunt Deb headed into the woods to release it.

There will be other snakes. I just don't want them when Deb isn't here to identify them and catch them!


Thankfully Easter provided an opportunity to line everyone up outside and take a picture that didn't involve snow, so I replaced my winter header photo. Of course, I also took a few of the younger kids after the older ones bolted. Here's my little boys in plaid -

and my little girls in polka-dots. I will be so sad the day they announce that they don't want to coordinate anymore!

What would Easter be without a picture on a tractor? This was Elijah while he was waiting for his turn.

After church we had some friends over, I was so thankful that it was such a beautiful day! It allowed some more tractor time, lucky Aunt Deb.

Here's my girls with Aunt Deb's friend that has turned our friend as well.

For the first time in years, we had an outside Easter egg hunt. Moriah took this picture of Julia obviously snacking on something blue.

Then she was off to find more eggs............

I'm saving the snake pictures for tomorrow. That's right, we had an Easter snake visit. It wasn't as exciting as the egg hunt, but maybe a close second!