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, October 30, 2010

Need to Christmas Shop?

I only have a few minutes, as we have a boy's soccer game, girl's drama practice, boy's birthday party and a trip to Urgent Care for Moriah's ear infection; yes, one of those days we drive two cars to soccer and then divide and conquer....Anyway, if you are considering Christmas shopping this weekend, first look at Linny's blog -


She has links for people that are making and selling items to fund raise to bring their children home. Nothing like helping an orphan make it home at the same time you provide meaningful gifts for your loved ones!

I'll be shopping after my afternoon marathon around town!

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Few Spare Hours

So, yesterday after school and before my soccer and grocery run, I had a few hours with many things competing for my attention. There was definitely many rooms that could stand a good cleaning, there was plenty of laundry awaiting attention and both girls need their hair redone. I decided upon cleaning the mud room, since it was at the level of causing me to sigh deeply every time I walked through. I started packing up the sandals and flip-flops in order to make room for mud and snow boots, when I realized that I would have to repeat all the work when I moved the shelves to paint the room. So, I decided to go ahead and get it painted, after all, I was initially waiting until we got the washer and dryer moved down-stairs and that was months ago.

I chose a nice, neutral, hopefully-hide-the-dirt-a-bit taupe.
So, today, I had a few hours between school and a retirement party tonight, so the boy's bathroom, right off the mud room, got the same green as the kitchen.

Once I paint the master bedroom and bathroom, this winter, I can retire my painting ladder for a few years! I don't mind painting though, it's one of the few things I do that actually stays done for more than a day!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Great Flannel Hunter

Just as I discovered on December 23, 2007, that my modest wife did not fully and accurately recount the activities of that frightful Sunday morning, I have learned that her repost of her skunk tale, just a couple weeks ago, has again been told with somewhat less than all of the facts. Jen deserves far more credit than she attributes to herself. The post below was my innagural blog post, on that same December day, and I am adding it here for all to achieve the entire perspective. I hope that all who read appreciate my little local "Annie Oakley;" she is definitely famous at the Health Department here (maybe infamous). Anyway, I am very proud of her!

The Great Flannel Hunter

When Jen first called me at church, I had to temper my desire to laugh hilariously until I was sure that she wasn't going to get bit by the rabid skunk. Church is a great place to be at a time like this, but I chose not to march into the sanctuary to call everyone to prayer. However, since I was working the Toddler Nursery I realized I had a responsibility to let the head usher know the potential of me having to gather my family rapidly and run home to save the day. Of course, in recounting what I had learned of the situation from Jen, thus far, I was not tempered in telling the story and kept laughing long after he had returned to his many other duties. But I prayed softly and kept the faith that my family would be safe. In the interim between phone updates from Jen, I relived two flashbacks from my childhood.

The first, as my extended family can attest to this day, was this unquenchable courage that I had to hunt skunks, while I was growing up, when we were camping. I was convinced, and let my strategy be known to all, that if you could sneak up behind a skunk, grab him by the tail before he could lift it, that you would not get sprayed and could get rid of the pesty varmint. Although I'm sure I was told again and again that my idea had no merit and to not try it, I can remember many times that I snuck away from the campfire to go hunt the little Pepe Le Pews. I guess my saving grace was that I never ran across a rabid skunk as my Great Flannel Hunter wife did today.


This leads me to flashback number two, and more germane to the title and inspiration of my first blog. In 1973, I was nine years old and we were camping in Letchworth State Park, in New York State. This place was rife with raccoons and skunks and they had no compunction to enter the confines of our camp site and even to sneak into our family dining room tent. We were still camping in a Nimrod tent trailer that had survived the roaming bears of Yellowstone, the wild cats of Old Man's Cave, Ohio, as well as a variety of many other pesty camping buddies in a myriad of camping locations. This one evening, we awoke to the yelling of a man, very near our camp site, even sounding so close that he could be right outside of our camper. My "little sister" (in size not age) and I looked out of the screened flap windows to see a "Great White Hunter," who happened to be our dad in a white t-shirt and undershort briefs, chasing a raccoon with his golf club, who was attempting to open our cooler. My dad never truly bagged his game, either, as we both resigned our hunting passions to a more seasoned life of coexistence with natures camping predators.


How could we have known that his future daughter-in-law and my wife, would vindicate our failed attempts to protect our family, so many years before? Now, I've read my wife's blog and I think she has been rather modest regarding the skill that she exhibited during today's hunt. First of all, she has the tenacity like that of a barracuda, if it is reasonable to use a fish metaphor for a ground kill. Below is a map that depicts the path that my wife used on our land to stalk the skunk and to prevent him from escaping.

Great Flanel Hunter Trail

Although Jen doesn't put any stock in the old hunter adage "one shot - one kill," one cannot challenge the overall effectiveness of her efforts, when you consider the end means versus the means to an end. I am proud of her! I have been waiting patiently for her to allow Gabriel and me to begin hunting so that our family could be eating leaner, more healthy meat, and now that the starting gate has opened who knows where it will lead? Also, I've looked forward to lining our family room wall with the taxidermy prize of our hunting efforts, but I could never have foretold that the first showcase would be the one that is pictured below.


The race has begun! To the victor comes the spoils. May the best spouse win!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All Boy

Elijah may wear Julia's purple plastic shoes on occasion, but he's really all boy! There's nothing he'd rather do than work outside with his Dad; of course, riding the tractor is the ultimate. Here he is explaining to Julia that the back of the truck filled with rocks is his domain.

He wakes up in the morning asking for a tractor ride. Thankfully, he understands that I don't know how to drive the tractor, so he has to wait for his Dad. Once JD makes it home, the topic comes up many times! Elijah now asks, "Dad, please ride the big blue tractor ONE MORE TIME," or "Dad, please ride the tractor FOR JUST A MINUTE."

It's been so fun to have a little boy again!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bye-Bye Exploder

I try to not attach to material things, but I tend to be overly sentimental. I never value things based on their worth, but more based on their memories. We recently passed on our Explorer, nicknamed the Exploder, but it was rather hard for me. First of all, we bought that bad boy way back in 1997, when I was pregnant with Moriah. It has been the one vehicle that we've had for years and was also the vehicle that we used to teach Gabriel to drive. Since we bought Alei the grey car, way in the background of the picture, we really didn't need the Explorer anymore, but we knew a family that did. So, I set my sentimentalism aside and handed the keys over.

Here's the kids cleaning it out before we delivered it; I hope it continues to run as well for them as it has for us all these years.

People, not things, are what really matter.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Teenager #3 - Moriah's Birthday

It's been a whirlwind weekend, primarily due to Moriah's 13th birthday. Instead of a party, she wanted to go shopping at the outlet mall on the outskirts of D.C. with a few friends. So Friday night, I loaded the van with seven girls to go out to dinner and shopping. We had a great time, and I got some sweet deals, but I was exhausted by the time they were lowering the bars on the store fronts.

Saturday morning, JD made his famous "potato throw-down" and I hauled 12 children to the boys' soccer game only to discover that we weren't blessed with the revised schedule and arrived an hour late at the end of the game. It turned out to be a fun and productive day, nevertheless, and we managed to check a few more things off my mental "to-do-outside-before-winter" list.

Sweet little Tori bought Moriah assorted candy for her birthday.

We enjoyed our normal loud present opening session.

Remember Moriah's early birthday gift, Gus? He's been with us a week today and starting to play with the little dogs, which is entertaining.

My sister officially committed to staying with my children for the Mid-Atlantic Orphan Summit the beginning of November, so we booked ourselves for the conference and a hotel. I am so excited!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gabriel Update

It's so nice to see Gabriel on occasion, over on Linny's blog -


I'm so thankful that he is doing so well, although Elijah has studied the pictures and is concerned about Brother's boo-boo on his arm. Somehow, Gabriel has severe tendinitis and is wearing a restrictive arm-cast for a few weeks. If that doesn't work, the next option is cortisone shots.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fun Fact

Here's a fun fact about my life. I really think there have only been about 10 mornings over the last 18 1/2 years that I have taken a shower without someone yelling something at me through the door. The average is two people a shower; this morning I had three separate people yelling three separate times about a dead chicken. Once I made it out of the bathroom, dressed, I asked them, "what one earth do you think I'm going to do about the dead chicken while I'm in the shower - don't you think it could have waited while I finished my shower, (I mean where's a dead chicken going to get off to while I take a seven minute shower!) One of them said, "well, we just thought you'd want to know."

I'll miss these days when they all get big enough to go 10 minutes without talking to me - I'm sure I will.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kitties and Kids

Meet Leon Guster -
Although Elijah is holding "Gus" in the picture, he is actually Moriah's early birthday present. Gus is a special kitty, since he gets to live in the house and sleep with Moriah. Moriah's last indoor cat was a rescued feral kitty several years ago. Angel was gorgeous and spent the entire month of December sleeping in the Christmas tree. Although she lived in the house a full year, she chose the life of a wild cat and currently sleeps in a wood pile that we need to burn. We see her streak in and out of the barn for food, but won't let anyone near her. It seems you can't really take the feral out of a cat, so Gus came from friends and was born in a house!
The humorous (now, not Sunday) Gus story I have involves Julia. We surprised Moriah after church on Sunday by taking her to their house and letting her choose the kitten she wanted. After stopping for kitten supplies, we brought Gus home and everyone competed to hold him. After a bit, I took the little guys out with me to help spread grass seed and straw. After a while, Tori came in to get a drink and left the front door open. Seizing the opportunity, Julia came outside and announced that Tori let Gus out and he ran in the woods. I started the woods searching party, but also sent Alei and Moriah to search the house as it seemed unlikely that he would actually tear across the yard into the woods (since he was born in a house!) Moriah was near tears as came out to announce that they couldn't find him in the house. While the kids and I were searching, JD was questioning Julia, since she has a habit of doing unpredictable things and not necessarily answering questions honestly. She stuck with her story, UNTIL Alei found Gus locked in her closet. Then the truth came rolling out...It turns out that Julia decided that if she hid him, and told us that he was in the woods, she could keep him for herself and not have to share him. She actually planned to just keep him in the closet, no food, water or cat-box. It seemed like a good plan for a four year old.
Julia instead got dinner, a bath and an early bedtime. As of today, she is allowed to hold Gus again. Never a dull moment with her!
We hope that Gus turns out as cool as our favorite cat, Hunter. Hunter spends a lot of time outside with the kids and dogs, but makes the rounds in the evening to see who'd like to hold and pet him.

Sometimes it's a challenge to see the book I'm trying to read.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Alpaca Trip

Due to my over-loaded brain, I realized yesterday that I scheduled an Alei doctor appointment and an alpaca field trip both for 10:00 this morning. Thankfully, JD moved his Monday meetings to Tuesday, so he was able to take Alei for me. The really great news is that Alei has been free of back pain since she got cortisone shots about a month ago.

The youngest six kids and I headed to the alpaca farm. They had different stations with different activities, but the kids still worked in a little running and playing time. Julia can run and run; seriously, she runs by the big kids when they ride their bikes and doesn't struggle much to keep up.
Elijah heard alpaca farm and thought "back-pack" farm. He's been asking for a back-pack for at least a month now and thought we were going to pick one out on a farm for him. Wouldn't you know that the thrift store had two darling little girl back-packs and not one fit for a boy. (They are hiding in the closet until I find one for him, so he won't have a jealousy issue.) Anyway, the alpacas were exciting enough to distract him from the lack of back-packs.
There was one sweet baby alpaca that enjoyed the children's attention.
There were also alpaca items to purchase. Elijah, as many of you know by now, has a bit of a fetish for gloves. Check these bad-boys out, made from alpaca fiber, with pictures of alpacas! He was one happy boy and only took them off to eat dinner. They are super soft, but I'm quite sure they aren't designed for the wear and tear he has already inflicted on them just today.
Tonight he told me that he wanted to go back to "paca" farm and buy two brown ones. He always points out that we need to buy two.

The kids got to work with some of the fiber. It made me wish I knew how to knit, until I thought of all the other things I'd love to do if I had more time.

Last, but never least, Elijah got to sit (and stand) on the tractor. It's amazing how a tractor is always a thrill!

Aside from the alpaca farm and school, I actually managed to re-do Tori's hair and finish the summer/winter clothes change-over. Now I'm going to work on a list of who actually needs what to survive the winter. I think I'm taking several girls shopping at the outlet mall this weekend in honor of Moriah's 13th birthday, so I can work on my list!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

True Religion

There's enough information crammed into this few minute video that I could think all day (and blog all night.) The statistics at the end are mind-boggling. Remember to pause the music at the bottom of the page first.

True Religion from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Don't worry, the below picture isn't blood and gore - it's gum. Five pieces of gum in James' hair to be exact! Yesterday morning I had a line-up of things that needed to be done for me to get out the door at a certain time, but this is an example of why I need to stay flexible. I could tell something was wrong from the way Ben walked through the kitchen. Then came James, with the look! He turned around to show me. Not only did he require a hair-cut, but the only new pair of pajamas I bought him (that matched Ben and Elijah) went in the garbage. James has a track record of getting himself in real trouble lately when he's supposed to be going to sleep. This round, he put the five-piece-already-been-chewed-wad in his room while he brushed his teeth and we prayed, just so he could chew it again in bed. He told me, (as I was goo-gone-ing his neck,) "now I know why you always tell me that I have to throw away my gum at bed-time." I really had hoped that he had learned that from this same incident we had about a year ago, but sometimes these things take two or three rounds.

We should be avoiding this again for a while, as James is officially grounded from gum for quite some time.

The funny thing is that James didn't say a word when I whipped my camera out right before the scissors. I need to dig up the pictures from a few years back when he cut all his hair off in the front and back, but left the sides long and I didn't notice it until we were at piano lessons. That was entertaining!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Catch- Up Thursday

I have been so behind on house-hold chores all week, but there is hope since we are rained out of soccer tonight! I'm actually making progress, I may even get to those piles of winter clothes in the storage room that are waiting to be swapped for the summer clothes still in the drawers. We made a quick trip to the base thrift store this morning on our way to grocery shopping in the pouring rain; always fun with five kids in tow. I often get good deals on kid clothes and shoes there and today was no exception.

Here's Tori sitting right next to me working on her math.

She's sporting these cute little slippers we got today.

Julia scored a Tinkerbell costume for $2; $2 is the max I will pay for a costume, I'm not even kidding. They are just too much of a waste of money when I have 11 people to buy real clothes for. She was forced to wear it for hours with the new brown boots we bought because Elijah is equally fond of the purple plastic shoes that I bought Julia to go with it.

Julia has begged for these shoes for months and was thrilled to find them today, but look whose wearing them to "go bye-bye to work." Elijah tells me that he's going bye-bye work, kisses me and heads off to the next room on his favorite green tractor.

He apparently thinks the purple high-heels are a perfect shoe for a farmer. Oh, and he colored his toe-nails with an orange marker earlier in the day. The poor boy spends a lot of his day in the company of girls!

I'm quite sure that in a few years he isn't going to be happy with this post!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Skunk Repost

I'm reposting my "famous" skunk shooting incident from December 23, 2007 from a prior blog. What I don't note in the story is that I was pregnant with Elijah during the shooting session and that the incident later earned me the title of "Local Annie Oakley." (I couldn't be more proud; it's exactly as I want to be remembered in history!)

My New Skill - Skunk Hunting
It started like a normal Sunday morning; Ben started throwing up last night, so we were figuring out who was going to go and fulfill nursery duty and who was going to stay home and take care of Ben. (Someone throwing up has been our recent Sunday normal!) At first, I was going, but an errand arose that required JD after church, so it was decided that he and Moriah would do nursery duty and I would stay home with Ben and Julia. We were getting everyone ready for church when James came in from doing animal chores and we all noticed the distinct aroma of SKUNK. We looked outside only to see our two dogs darting in and out of the woods, obviously entertaining a skunk. I thought, great, we'll now have a skunk smelling dog to deal with later; but we continued with our church ready ritual.

JD left with the kids for church and I busied myself with the 20 things that needed to be done, not even considering the skunk, until I walked by the living room window to view our dog, Reagan, being chased by this skunk. Ben and I stood there and watched as Reagan ran circles to get away from the skunk and the skunk continued in hot pursuit. At one point, they took an entire lap around the barn and the skunk wasn't stopping. I went to the mud room door and called Reagan in; as she ran in, the skunk started spraying the house.

I went to the phone and called Animal Control, not open. I called the alternative number, they referred me to the Game Warden. The Game Warden told me that skunks are not an animal they take care of, but if it is aggressive, it may have rabies and needs to be shot before it bites an animal or person. I immediately call JD, but his phone is turned off because he's in the church nursery. I try to call our only neighbor, but am unable to locate his new cell number. I can't think of anyone to call that isn't at church on Sunday morning. Then the reality of the situation hits me; I am going to have to shoot the skunk myself! I have never shot anything other than a paper target fox THAT DIDN'T MOVE! I go to the gun safe and can't even remember the combination. During my struggle with the safe, JD calls me and he walks me through opening the safe. I take the gun and set out in my purple pajama pants and t-shirt, leaving sick Ben in charge of Julia.

I honestly figured that I was so slow in deciding what to do, that the skunk would have disappeared into the hundreds of acres of woods surrounding us. But, NO, he strolls out of the barn and looks like he'll be happy to chase me around the front yard. Now, you may think that I could just shoot him and the story is over, but that is definitely not the way it played out! First of all, the goats and other dog all came running from the backyard, where they literally had been standing in a little group behind the burn pile avoiding the skunk. I locked up the goats afraid that I'd accidentally shoot one of them in my way. I then walked down the driveway a bit, with the skunk following me, because I didn't want to shoot him right in front of Ben, who was plastered to the living room window watching the drama.

The other thing you need to understand is that I really love animals and the idea of shooting anything, even a rabid skunk, required me to keep talking myself into the fact that I had to do it - to protect my children and pets! Once down the driveway, I didn't want to be too close to the skunk, but I don't have good aim either, plus there were trees, fencing, etc, that made my aim more complicated. I shut my eyes and fired; I realized shutting my eyes wasn't going to work, because the skunk was unharmed. I aim and shoot FOUR more times, and the skunk decides he better head into the woods a bit, before I actually get lucky. I am now chasing the skunk through the woods. At one point, he turned and started chasing me; I turned, ran, slipped in the mud, my shoe came off, and I was standing bare foot in mud. I stuffed my shoe back on and and kept going. Our little hunting session in the woods ended when I was sure I lost him and headed back home via the driveway. I heard a car on the road at one point and considered waiting to see if it was someone that could actually aim a gun; but considering that I am wearing mud covered pajamas, I didn't think I looked credible enough to ask anyone for help. I returned home, after losing the skunk in the woods, and guess who was standing back in the front yard, right back where it all began?

I realize at this point that I need to be tough and just shoot the skunk at close range. I aim, fire and actually hit the skunk. But, he isn't dead, just hurt, and I can't stand the thought of leaving him suffering; so I run into the house to reload. This involves calling JD again to ask what bullets to use; at least at this point he is leaving his phone on for me. I told him that I shot it, but I need to shoot it again. He tells me that the gun has six bullets; I explain to him that I know, the 6th bullet was my first hit! I reload and head back out, the skunk is still alive. It took me four more shots to hit it again, since I couldn't stand the thought of getting too close

So, it is finished; well, it's still laying by the driveway waiting for JD to come home! It only took me 10 bullets and about 45 minutes to kill a skunk! I kept reminding myself on my hunt that this farm life was my idea, but sometimes I know that I'm in over my head! It would have been so simple if I had been the one who went to church!

Here's Reagan trying to get in the mud room while the skunk was after her.

So if you get tired of the smell of Christmas baking and are looking for something different; you are welcome to come over to the smell at our house - Christmas skunk! The game warden told me that vanilla extract is the best thing to remove skunk smell; does vanilla come in gallon bottles?

Simple Pleasures

So, I probably shouldn't have been so optimistic in the blog department for today, because I spent several hours scrubbing both my fridges and freezers clean. I was motivated because there were dead fruit-flies in them and I couldn't stand just wiping them out again. So, the laundry may be to the roof and there are a sampling of all five food groups on the kitchen floor, but the fridges are clean and I can stand to go grocery shopping tomorrow!

This is our bulk fridge - large quantities of milk, eggs and cheese normally reside with the summer melons.
Here's the kitchen fridge, no fruit-flies. As a bonus, I found the lasagna that I made the other night that I forgot about - easy dinner.

Okay, so we'll hope again for more exciting blog material later - I'm working on it, promise.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


We've been busy the last few days with all of life's demands and a few extra projects. Yesterday we spent most of the day outside laying top-soil, spreading grass-seed and strawing the bare patches. Although we worked several hours, we really only made a dent in what needs to be done.

It would be more pleasant working if it felt like fall, but it doesn't - it's in the upper 80's and I'm regretting that I packed up most of the summer clothes!

I've made countless trips to homeschool co-op today and now I'm off to soccer. I'm going to hope for a better blogging day tomorrow.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Parade Pictures

Here's the territory we staked out on the parade route. The parade was coming from the direction Elijah was pointing, so I'm not sure what captivated the interest in all the kids looking the other way.
Here was the high-light of the event according to Elijah - lots of fire trucks, with lights! He also loved the old cars, motorcycles and of course, the tractors.
This is the first time we've seen the Washington Redskins band. They were very good and Tori and Julia danced accordingly.
This was Elijah on the short drive home; later in the afternoon, when he woke up, he asked, "go to the parade again, PLEASE."

We are all excited that both sellers showed yesterday and both big items sold - bye, bye Visa. It's a relief to have completed our first year of life without any credit cards and now no balances either!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Big Day Tomorrow

Tonight was fun, I had friends, kitchen toys to try out and yummy snacks. One of my friends booked a party for February, so I'll get a chance to try out more fun stuff. I haven't decided what I'm buying yet, but I'm liking the host discounts!

Tomorrow is a big, big day around here. We are attending the local Fall Festival Parade. It is truly not an event that is blog worthy, but the kids have been counting the days down since they get candy. What I'm excited about is what we have scheduled after the parade - two people coming to buy two farm items that we bought a few years back and haven't used. As long as they both come, I think they will after several email interchanges including price negotiations, we will pay off our last credit card. While that in and of itself is exciting, this is even bigger considering we had a ton of home-building supplies on credit cards. Originally, they were supposed to roll into our loan at closing, but since we have had closing issues, we were stuck with the bills. We started Financial Peace last October and I would have never, ever thought that we could have pulled this off in a year! This isn't the end; we still have other bills, including our adoption loans, but it's the way "bad" debt gone!

Since I keep posting picture-less posts, I'll take some exciting parade pictures for tomorrow. Almost mid-night, good-night.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We Are Not Doing This Again Tomorrow!

Alei has had a rough month! After getting cortisone shots in her back a few weeks ago, (they are working, praise the Lord!) she had to get her wisdom teeth out this morning. We decided that I would take her, and JD could go into the office for a few hours and then come home and work a few more hours while the kids debated politics, read literature and played classical music on their instruments. Just kidding! We were hoping the that boys could at least pull off their phonics and math while JD worked on his computer while supervising the little guys playing.

Alei's surgery went well, but she was pretty drugged and difficult to get to the car. I zipped right across the street to the CVS that I always use and waited and waited in line only to be told the computers were down and it would be at least an hours wait. I was a bit nervous leaving half-conscience Alei in the car. What if she came to and wandered into the road or something? So, I headed to Pharmacy #2, but no, they didn't have a tech working that day, so their wait would be at least an hour. So, we headed home to the horrible local pharmacy that I publicly complained about and they filled the prescriptions in 20 minutes. By this point, it had been three hours since Alei had been out of surgery and it was hurting pretty badly. Wouldn't it make more sense if they had given us these prescriptions before the surgery?

So, Alei is doing pretty well, considering. From the scene I walked into at 2:45, I could tell that my plan of telling Moriah and Alyssa to clean their rooms and bathrooms after school work wasn't the best idea, since JD had "real" work to accomplish while I was away! Elijah was still in his jammies and there was still breakfast cereals on the table. When I inquired about lunch, no on had any. There were two full dishwashers that needed to be unloaded and a sink waiting for one. There was a fine layer of stickiness of the table, I can't imagine from what.

I flew around all afternoon, just trying to recover the house that I had that morning. I still had to make a chicken food pick up, take the boys to soccer practice and shop for people food for a party and the weekend.

Now it's late and I have a busy day planned tomorrow, but I don't think I have to leave the house. I'm having a Pampered Chef Party here tomorrow night - won't that be fun? Friends, kitchen tools and good food; it sure beats the gauze and pills of today! Any readers that live near, you are invited.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Some of Us are Having Fun

I couldn't put off the fact that my little girls had no fall clothes in their drawers any longer; day after day, they ask me to go down to the storage room and find them some pants. So, today I finally swapped out their summer clothes for fall/winter clothes. As any mother of a large family can tell you, it's a lot of work! It has been far faster this year, thanks to my husband finishing the storage room; at least it's all organized and labeled well. Tori has about five new pairs of glitter jeans for this fall, in black, grey and a few shades of denim; they aren't even that cute, but they were $1.99 at The Children's Place so they are her winter staple! Julia has a bunch of clothes that Tori is constantly trying to claim, but they don't fit anymore!

Julia was really, really tough on Monday and Tuesday after I had left her for the weekend. I guess she feels she's punished me enough for leaving her because she has played nicely today. Here is the game they played for a long time while I sorted clothes (after I told them that if they dug in a rubber-maid container again, I'd ban them from their own room.) Elijah was their baby and they kept him in the bed by feeding him gold-fish crackers. I'm quite sure he was stuffed long before lunch time. I'm also not sure of the condition of the doll bed, but sometimes you just have to get a job done!

Next week I still have the middle boys and middle girls clothes to do. To tell you the truth, the girls are by far the hardest. They tend to have a big mound of clothes that they just can't wear for one petty reason or another. They usually stand there explaining how they have nothing to wear for the fall and I'm pointing at the big pile trying to remain calm. I guess that's why I do youngest to oldest, to work myself up in difficulty. It's nice that the little guys wear whatever I stick in their drawer!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Guess Where We Went and Other Happenings

We had a scheduled field-trip this morning to the Fire Station. I feel like I'm drowning in work at home right now, but didn't want to miss letting Elijah see these trucks up close and personal. We saw one at Wal-Mart a few weeks ago and he has been anxiously awaiting our trip "to the fire truck's house." He was too shy to get in the truck, but let Alyssa stand with him for a picture. See the book in Alyssa's hand? I brought her to help me and on the long hall-way into the fire station, she was walking and reading! I had to tell her to not read while we were there.
Currently Elijah is asleep with his new fire-hat, from the station, right next to him. I had to talk him into taking it off to lay down. He is also wearing red socks on his hands that we have to call gloves. Why? Because in an adult version of a tantrum last week, I packed up all the hats and gloves and put them in the storage room, due to the hours I was spending a day putting new ones on Elijah. He was constantly frustrated that his fingers didn't reach the end of the big kid gloves, whined and pulled them off, then he would bring me a new pair and we would repeat the entire scenario. Now he has made due with red socks and if anyone dares call them socks, he yells, "No, gloves!" Poor little guy, I think I may dig around and find him a little person pair, in spite of the fact that I find it difficult to get all the fingers in the correct spot several times a day!

After the fire-house, I was helping the girls clean their room. I came across these two dolls. It turns out that the boy has sharpie-shorts on from Alyssa years ago. She has always been super-modest and didn't appreciate the naked Ken look. The doll on the left has paint tape on her face, because Tori told me that Julia likes to play with her, but her face "freaks her out," so Tori covered her face so that they could both be happy. Julia then said, "I don't really like her anymore either," so she's in the thrift store bag now.

I'm fuming about something I read on another blog, but I will address it another day, (or not if I calm down and decide that I shouldn't.) In the meantime, we all have to head to "town" for a few appointments.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I'm Home

All day I've wanted to post, but I prioritized school and now I'm out of time. The problem is that I have so much swirling in my head that I'm not sure I can actually verbalize it yet. So much can happen in one weekend, both at home and away. My husband, somehow, did mine and his weekend work and still had time for deep reflection. I feel like we are at a cross-road in our lives, realizing the call that the Lord has placed on our lives. I think when we traveled to Liberia, a seed was planted that is just beginning to grow. Neither of us know what it will grow into, but as long as we are willing to grow and be pruned, the Lord can work with us. I hope we are allowed to catch a glimps at the upcoming Orphan Summit. Other than that, there are some exciting developments around here that I'm excited to share when the time comes!

Tomorrow is a crazy day, filled with appointments that logically should have been spread across three days, but I'm hoping for a chance to post a bit more.

Please take a few minutes and watch this clip from Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love. (You need to pause the music first at the bottom of the page.)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"Letter to Jen"

Jenny is on a weekend retreat with 80 other women from our church this weekend. I can't wait for her return to learn how God has moved in her life. With her gone there has been much Mr. Mom has had to do, but it has all gone well, so far. Not to take anything away from her, because she is definitely needed around here, but I think many are aware of the dynamic of how children act with only their Moms (which us husbands get to hear on the phone, or occassionally witness on video, as a result from a hidden camcorder), how children act when Mom and Dad are together with them, and how they act with just Dad. So, my morning started out early and very eventfully; I watched a movie at 6 AM. With so many movies titled “Letter to” something, and the impact of key movies in my life, it seemed fitting to title this blog “Letter to Jen.” This is a happy letter, so no worries.

"My Jen,
I’m sure that you remember the night we watched 'Snow Dogs,' at the base theater. As I was struggling to come to grips with all that God had placed on your heart and accepting that it was entirely the right thing to do, I sat there in this theater watching a Disney movie that most people would not view through a lens as an adoption story; however, God used that secular movie to pierce my heart and to not only accept that we were meant to adopt but that it was right to adopt black children. Sitting there, in tears, because Cuba Gooding’s character was adopted and I all of a sudden got it. God adopted us and we’re called to adopt, as well.

We had black and bi-racial children in our home as foster children, and I would have adopted any of them. But you were asking me to consciously, purposefully and prayerfully consider adopting children from Liberia, West Africa, and my mind got in the way. I let myself get wrapped around the axle and intellectualized the complications of raising black children in a white family and the impact it would have on their lives. Although I was not raised prejudiced against any ethnicity, I questioned whether we can ensure that they’ll be raised understanding their culture, who will they marry, will they be made fun of, will my biological children be made fun of, and on, and on, and on. This movie made me see clearly and God let me know it was the right thing to do.

When we went to Africa for Victoria, in 2006, I was all in it intellectually. In my mind, I knew it was the right thing to do. I listened to you about all of the statistics; even though at times you thought the words might not seep through they did penetrate. But, I did not have a heart attachment to the mission. I was hanging onto your shirt tail for the ride. Being there, experiencing the poverty, the hunger, gave me a connection to Liberia and Africa that I never imagined I would have. When we learned right there that Victoria had a brother, we both knew that we had to do something. It seemed right to take the leap to simply support him, make him eligible for adoption, and try to get him into the Orphanage, so that someone would adopt him. We did all that.

That wasn’t enough for me, he was little 'Tori’s' brother and he was too young to grow up in that war ravaged country, when we had the capacity to bring him home. God knew exactly what he was doing, he was peeling the layers of my stinky onion mind away one at a time, and because of the innate stubbornness I hold it has taken many years. I’m not even going into the layers that were peeled away to be open to a large family, accepting foster children in our home, adopting a foster child, fostering black children, etcetera, and etcetera. Simply put, if you had suggested siblings when we were going for Tori (and I knew that you were open to it) I am quite confident that I would have closed my mind to the whole thing. And the orphanage, they knew that Tori had a brother, but due to the health risk for the younger children there, they needed to get the young babies out fast, to save their own little lives. So they didn’t tell us about any siblings before we left, while we were there, not even when we were going to meet the birth mother. Had they done so, I am quite confident that I would have felt like I was being pushed into it and again likely closed my mind to the whole thing.

Then the trek for Tori’s brother Ben began, in late 2006. You were only comfortable providing support, and while I agreed for a short while, God assured me that he was meant to be part of our family. I began to urge you for what you once did so for me, we needed to adopt. You had made a monster, so to speak, and I became more decisive about these questions than you for a season. Even when you raised the notion of adopting one of eight babies that came into the orphanage at Christmas, while we were in the early stages of processing our adoption for Ben, you were shocked when I was open to it from the very mention of it, from you. I remembered the statistic that you shared with me before of a 25% infant mortality rate in Liberia, and I knew that we had room for one more. As it turned out we saved our daughter from a near certain death from Malaria and we both knew what we were doing was right.

Next we realized that we were pregnant with Elijah, and I had to convince you that you were in that way. I can remember just being completely at peace with the notion that we were about to have another child. You were kind of shocked that I was so calm. We both just laughed at the realization that we were pregnant again, nine years after our last, with number nine. Having nine children is a far cry from the two that I thought I only wanted when we married. In Elijah I can see more than anyone else how much I’ve changed and want to grow closer to God, with you and our family. I type now with him asleep on my shoulder after partially waking up from a nap. He is such my little buddy. I don’t love him more or less than any of our other children, but I do love the experience more. So much has changed inside of me and I just love being with the little guy.

So, here we are, seemingly stalled again in sharing the same vision regarding what our family is called to do. Do we adopt more children? Do we become missionaries? Do we just maintain status quo because we have 'done enough?' God’s answer to your fleecing prayer to Him last August has convinced me that we are not to be content with the latter plan. There is no doubt in my mind that we are to do more. But I’ve let my mind get in the way, again. I am intellectualizing having more children at my age, achieving a comfort zone for our latter years, you getting your way in dragging me to Africa to live, which may avoid the former while sealing the fate for the latter. Once again I have caught myself trying to map out my own plans instead of letting God’s Will unfold in our family’s lives.

This brings me to the 'Last Flight Out,' a movie that I stumbled upon at my workplace break room. The DVD case had a camouflaged cover and the words 'Operation Bless Our Troops.' Seemed innocuous enough, I pray for our troops every night, the inside cover shows a picture depicting adventure, possibly even some gun fire, etcetera; a man’s movie. The producing enterprise is Billy Graham Ministries. I think it will be good. I grabbed it and set it on my desk over a week ago, and don’t even mention it to you, all innocently enough. I bring it home the day you leave for a weekend women’s retreat, not even planning on seeing it this weekend. I wanted to watch the next Burn Notice episode with our daughter, but she had her friend over, which wasn’t originally planned either, and they cast me aside to do fun teen things. So, I wake up Saturday morning, make my coffee, and sit in to watch this movie.

Just as 'Snow Dogs' gripped me to realize adopting children from Africa was the right thing to do, the 'Last Flight Out' made me realize that I am not really trusting in God for our future; I’m trying to make it out for ourselves myself. Maybe a thousand people could watch this movie and not get the message God has given me, just as I was the only person in a military base theater balling at 'Snow Dogs' (and I did not use to even well up easily back then), I clearly realized that I’m not trusting Him as a Christian should. I don’t know what He has in store for us, but I want it, whatever it is. I’m going to endeavor to not let my intellect get in the way. I want to watch this movie again with you, even risking that it may not impact you the way it has me, because I’m thankful that God again peeled another stinky onion layer away. I hope that we’re getting close to a good center.

I will probably never know who it was that placed this movie in the break room. They were likely just clearing out their desk, since the movie was made in 2004, and could have just as easily pitched it as placed it where they did. Again, in a most unsuspecting way, I am leveled by the unexpected impact of a specific movie at exactly the right time. This movie, the 'Last Flight Out,' has moved me to prayer. I prayed this morning that God would tear away everything in me that would just want to 'hold on.' I want to let go. I want to see Him work in our lives. I want to be a vessel to bless orphans. I want to personally make a difference in their lives, not just sending money in some clean and innocuous way that satisfies an urge to act but stifles it with the status quo. I want to make it public. I don’t know how long it will take, but He does. I don’t know what He will have us do, but He does. I don’t know what resources it will take but He does. I want to live in the center of His will. I need you to be with me, I can’t do it alone and I don’t want to.

Love, JD"

For the record, "Scrooged," with Bill Murry, changed my life in 1989, and led me back to Jesus. I am quite sure that most people just laughed at it (and as a Chrisitan, I am not now recommending this movie, as I remember it when I was in the world and cannot attest to its cleanness). Although Jenny hasn't really liked my movie watching addiction through the years, and I've gotten much better, some have made a real difference in my life.

And men, it is very difficult for us whom God has designed as providers and protectors of our families to entertain the thought that just maybe our wives might have a better vision for our family than we do. I challenge you, to listen to them. I would not be where I am today if not for Jen. I know it, she doesn't believe me, but it is true.