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, July 30, 2011

Adoption Quote

I kind of cringe when I hear people refer to "adopted" children; I don't like the ring to it that differs between adopted and biological children. In spite of Haiti's law (that only counts biological children and not previously adopted children,) once the child is yours, they count every bit as much! I read this quote this morning from Voddie Baucham that I loved -

Our children all came to our home in different ways, but the end result has been the same.  We do not have "adopted" children; we have children who happened to join our family through adoption (hence we say they 'were' adopted and never say the 'are' adopted).

On a different note, I just got an email that Aunt Deb flies home from Haiti tonight. Unfortunately, (for us anyway) she leaves for Peru tomorrow. We look forward to actually having her back in Virginia in two weeks.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Garden Discouraged

This has been a discouraging year gardening. First of all, the deer keep eating a substantial amount of my produce; after they initially ate several of the plants down to stubs. Other than that, my husband kindly installed soaker hoses for me so I wouldn't have to hand water, but I think I drowned my melons; well, at least allowed them to get a fungus from too much water. So, last count I had 20 some watermelons and 40 some cantaloupes growing, but the ones that do make it in the house are rather bland - not the good melons we grew last year!

Here's the ones I brought in today; the chickens get the deer sampled ones.

I'm was thinking garden fence next year; but first I am going to try yellow caution tape (that is widely used in PA) and my cousin's dangling  Ivory soap bar trick and see if either will work the rest of this year.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Birthday Times Two

Guess who's birthday it is?

 It's hard for me to believe, but my baby girl turned five and my baby boy three. I really hope that down the road, I'll have another little person that is yet to be three. I think two and three are the most fun ages ever! We considered going "into town" for a fun dinner, but instead decided to have birthday dinner at home and play with them.

The birthday menu consisted of chicken nuggets and curly fries, various melon and steak. (The steak was on sale today and I threw it in the menu to keep the men happy.) Since I very seldom buy chicken nuggets, it was an exciting dinner!

Opening presents was a bit like Christmas since they took turns; the mess reminded me of Christmas also. Elijah ripped off tiny pieces of paper and threw them on the floor one by one. Alyssa worked much of the evening putting together Elijah's work-bench and Julia's lego house. 

I didn't take a single picture of cake time because I was videoing. I am normally horrible about taking video of my kids, so I'll be happy down the road.

We probably are still going to have a little party with friends because Julia really wants to, but tonight was a nice evening of family time. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Suit

I posted this picture of Elijah in his new wedding suit on Facebook, but I had some requests to put it on the blog. Elijah is pretty impressed with his wedding suit and generally asks to wear it everyday; we still have to find a little white shirt and navy tie. Today was also Elijah's first dental cleaning; he sat on my lap, but totally cooperated.

The heat here has been quite unbearable - like 105, with a heat index of 120. When I got to last week's swim meet, JD looked like he had been swimming in his clothes and quickly "volunteered" to be the parent who "had" to leave early to take the youngest three home. The temperature is a bit better tonight, but it's still going to be a scorcher. I think I'm going to leave Elijah home with Alei, but the rest of us are going to brave it to the end. It is the last meet before finals!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A New Twist on the Same Old Story

There are many, many times that I hear, "no girls allowed" or "no boys allowed" when the kids are running their way into their bed-room. Generally it's legitimate because they are going to change, but sometimes it is just because they don't want to include someone of the opposite gender. So yesterday I heard a new version as the kids were racing up the stairs. First came Julia and Tori, followed close by James and Ben; obviously James did something that annoyed Julia because she announced, "only brown people can come in my room." We did stop and discuss that color was not an appropriate excluding factor, but only after Elijah emerged at the end of the chaos train and yelled, "I'm brown, Julia, can I come in?" I have to tell you, I started laughing pretty hard at Julia and Elijah; so did Ben, but James was just mad because he wasn't making the cut.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Elijah - The Ring Bear

Elijah has been granted the honor of being the ring bearer in JDs nephew's wedding next month. When we initially told him, he responded by saying, "me rather be a ring lion, but me will be the ring bear."

The funny thing is that he does have something for rings, he often asks to wear our rings. When we told him that he would get to carry the rings down the aisle on a little pillow, he told us that he would rather wear them on his fingers.

Today we bought some "wedding shoes" on our way home from DC. I wasn't positive that they would be what we needed, but he was really excited to come home and try on his "wedding shoes." The lady at the store told him that the ring bearer was the most important role in the wedding, he hardily agreed!

 We have been pushing this ring bearer thing for a while since he isn't naturally the most out-going almost-three year old on the planet. I have also told him that I'll buy him a new toy tractor after he walks down the aisle; today he said, "maybe you'll buy me a tractor and a new truck."
(Maybe, Elijah, maybe.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mothering Wisdom

Julia asked me, "please don't remember my Star Wars." You know you are the Mom when you understand completely! The translation is, "please don't forget my Starbursts."  We are off to a far-away swim-meet in the 100 degree heat, but the good news is that we have Starbursts!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gardens, Houses and Motocycles

I am reaping some good things from my garden, but not near as much as I hoped. It got off to a rather rough start when the deer ate down all the tomato plants one day, the cucumbers another and about 1/2 the cantaloupe a third. Now I have a watermelon crises - I have eight plants with about 25 watermelon; they looked great until one day last week, but now they are all wilted and water isn't perking them up. Any ideas anyone?

Our friendly deer still comes every day, but she respectfully is content eating clover and leaving the garden alone (it has scary tin-foil hanging in it to frighten her since JD shooting in the air from the front porch didn't work.)

We have experienced a huge house blessing! We knew that our one rental was going empty the beginning of August. Our only serious inquirer decided that it wasn't the right location and didn't have enough storage, so we were empty handed. That very day, another renter arrived to pay the rent and told us that he was going to have to break his lease as he wasn't going to be able to afford it for the next year due to some other financial issues. I was cooking dinner that evening when it crossed my mind that we could offer our current renter the less expensive house. They came the next day, saw it and took it. We then re-contacted the original interested party; she came and saw the bigger house with more storage and took it. They both move by August 1st, we have no gap in tenants in either house and didn't have to spend any time or energy listing it or showing it. We also have confidence in both tenants since we know them both. As Elijah says, with his thumb up, "me appreciate it God."

On to a picture - here's Elijah on a friend's motorcycle. It wasn't running and that's the closest to riding a motorcycle that I ever want him to be; I consider them too dangerous!  The experience of sitting on it sure did make my almost three year old happy!

I really can't believe he's almost three!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Feeling Like the Duggars

You know you qualify as a big family when there is zero cargo room in your big van once you put your kids in. The last few trips, we were packed so tight that I think we appeared as refugees fleeing our home land. Whenever we would open the side doors at a rest stop, shoes, food and toys routinely rolled out. Well, no more - today we welcomed home the "vacation trailer." Now we will actually have somewhere to put luggage, boogie boards and a cooler, other than our laps, when we head on our trip next month.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Monkey Feet

"Look Mom, me made me monkey feet."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It Just Wouldn't Be Spring

 It just wouldn't seem like spring/summer at our house unless we had at least one puppy or kitten dumped in our drive-way. I'm sure this is due to the fact that we live at the end of the road where the animal control officer also lives and since it costs $5 to check an animal into the pound,  people just dump them instead. The problem is that they often wander down my driveway instead of his and then I don't call him, (yes, he would take them for me, but yuck, it's the pound!)  Two years ago, we had a litter of five kittens and a litter of four puppies dumped within a few weeks of each other. Last year, I was shocked when there were no new dumpees. This spring, we had a black cat move into the barn, but I assumed she came on her own free will. Now we have a new kitten that showed up about a week ago that I 'm sure was dumped. He is pretty nervous around people and today is the first time the kids were able to hold him. We were late to swim team once everyone passed him around.

The funny thing about this little guy is that he spends most of his time in the chicken fence with the chickens. He even naps on the ramp that the chickens walk in and out of the coop on.

Welcome to life in our barn kitty; you are cat #9 or 10, but the kids are friendly and the big cat food bowl is usually full!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chicken and Veggies

I knew Friday was "dress like a cow and get free chicken" day, but I found out last minute that Alyssa had to be at the church at 9:30.  I didn't want to make an extra trip "to town", so I only had 30 minutes to get everyone ready, drop by CVS to pick up the car-seats that Alei accidentally took to work, pick up two kids at the Y and head for Chick Fil A. The important thing is that the costumes qualified for a fun free lunch. Gabriel was such a good sport accompanying me in costume. We were only missing Alyssa who got to go to Kings Dominion for the day and Alei who was working.

Thankfully, we have friends who can throw on last minute cow costumes also.

Ben won the Oreo eating contest; look how happy he is before it even began.

Elijah got to see "Big Cow." He had been looking forward to that for months.

Other than chicken, we have been eating some yummy garden produce. Here's bruschetta made from home made bread, our tomatoes and basil.

I picked our first watermelon. It really needed about another week, but the kids ate it anyway.

I love these purple peas; they are just starting to come in as well.

Happy summer eating

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Swim Team

Hours of my summer are represented with these pictures from last night's swim meet. First up is Julia; she has quite the pleased look on her face as she is (hopefully) absorbing some last minute advice from her swim coach.

 The dive in -

Here's Tori booking it down the pool -

The boys both swam the A freestyle relay -

James preparing for take off  -

Ben -

Alyssa diving in -

I did take a few pictures of my oldest swimmer Moriah, but I didn't think she would approve any of them.

Part of the fun of swim team is the families and friends hanging out together in the heat. In case you don't do swim team, let me tell you...the meets are a lot of fun, but they are LONG. We generally have to be at the pool between 4:30-5:00 and last night's meet ended at 10:30. We arrived home at 11:30 and then we are supposed to be back at the pool early the next morning. 

For the record, we did not make it back to practice this morning!.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Adventures of Buzz

If you don't own a TV or ever go to the movies, you aren't missing much; but you would be missing Buzz Lightyear. We are pretty big Buzz and Woody fans around here. Today when I walked into the living room, Elijah was "flying" off the couch arm yelling "to infinity and beyond." When I told him that his flying was impressive, he replied, "thank you mom, actually I mean, thank you Jesse, my cow-girl." 

Buzz is no respecter of couches; he is able to fly off several couches in different room.

In the middle of the flight, he saw a book on the floor that interested him and he stopped to look at it.

After a while, Tori took pity on his wingless status and made him a pair of paper Buzz wings. He then had a whole new round of flying to try out the wings.

We have another swim meet tonight and I'm bringing my camera in spite of the drizzle. Julia came in first in her heat last week and I was so sad that I missed her excitement.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 3rd

Aunt Deb left bright and early this morning for a month in Haiti. When we pick her back up in a month, she will be here a whopping one day before she leaves for Peru for another couple of weeks.  Watching her last minute packing was quite entertaining, she can cram amazing amounts of items in a suitcase. Turns out that she will never be provided dinner and had to take a month of cereal for her dinners. She crammed those boxes on top of an already full suitcase.

Elijah is incredibly thrilled with the water guns I bought at the Dollar Tree. Last night JD put him to bed and about a half an hour later, he still had his finger on the trigger.

Have a happy 4th - we are doing the traditional hamburgers on the grill with friends and a trip to fire works.