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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Home Depot Stop

I mentioned that it took us 12 hours to make our seven hour trip home; much of that time was spent at Wal-Mart and Home Depot purchasing hurricane supplies. I'm convinced that there wasn't a D battery to purchase on the entire east coast; we tried three Wal-Marts in three states. The good news is that I now have what I need to make it through any additional 2011 hurricanes, (other than a working generator and D batteries.) 

 Here's Gabriel and Elijah at our extended pack-the-trailer stop at Home Depot. We stumbled across a patio table at almost 75% off and a few chairs at 50% off that we bought for our future deck and had to re-arrange the entire contents to cram in. At first Elijah wasn't impressed that his scooter was making an escape. 

Then Gabriel took him cruising on the smooth pavement; something we have zero of at our house.

Making the most of every part of the vacation. 

Monday, August 29, 2011


We are one of the fortunate few that actually has power after the hurricane. In fact, all three of our rental properties are out, but we only lost it for a few hours in the night. JD won't be going to work all week either; there is a major line that came down into the water and the power company has already announced that it won't be up all week since it's a special order item.

I feel very fortunate in light of the fact that we entered the storm without a generator to run our well, so, no power also means no water for us. When we got home from our vacation, our generator wouldn't start. While JD worked on it, he broke a part that has to be ordered. He actually went out and bought another generator that was supposed to come in the day the storm hit and it still isn't here. So, I'm very thankful.

I'm still on the go, yesterday we were gone all day for Deb's birthday party and today I'm heading to Richmond to pick Moriah up from a friend. Then I'm planning on staying home; I have school planning to do!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Before We Lose Power

 While our area of the country is still recovering from the earthquake, Hurricane Irene is heading towards us. Our planned  6-7 hour trip home yesterday took 12 hours since we had to stop for hurricane supplies on top of our planned stop at Hershey's Chocolate World. This morning has been a bit stressful getting ready, but I'm taking this moment to focus on the lake. The house we rented in NJ was straight across from a lake that we spent a few days swimming and boating at. 

My five youngest in their "lake shoes." They have worn them all summer, in and out of the water. 

 We had the use of two canoes and a kayak. I think it's the first time my little guys had been out in a boat.

 The swimming area had a diving board - 

A couple of platforms that you had to swim to - 

And most importantly sand, which the kids played in for hours.

And as a bonus, they had a small playground - 

My kids decided that they liked the lake even more than the beach. A good time was had by all. 

Now I'm returning to hurricane preparations. I'll be back when we have power.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

NYC - Round Two

We put in a very long second day in NY, with even more walking than the first. The kids did great; I really wish I knew how many miles we walked. We started by getting off the train at 9th street and walking to and  around Times Square, which is something like 50th street. After most of the day in that area, we walked a further 20 or so blocks to Central Park.

The kids enjoyed meeting the police on horse-back. 

We were also able to meet a few celebrities - 

 The kids got a free water bottle by being videoed for a kid's water campaign. 

 We visited several kid friendly locations. We spent way too long in Toys R Us, but they had such a great time. Elijah even got to meet Spiderman, which is something he actually requested on the drive up, (but I opted to not pay $20 for the picture that they take.) They also rode the ferris wheel  and visited with the huge robotic dinosaur. 

We took a stroll through Central Park at the end of the day. The tough part of the trip was our walk back, our "cheap, quick" dinner at McDonalds and our difficulty in finding the correct train (it was the New Jersey Path, not the regular Subway.) Both Elijah and Julia were asleep in the strollers much of the trip back, but we had to carry them, the strollers and all the bags on and off the trains. One of the trains was so packed that I couldn't even reach a pole to hold on, we were just holding on the kids and trying to not fall over. We left McDonalds at 9:00 p.m. and reached our van at almost mid-night; quite the adventure!

Today is supposed to be our last day at the lake, but it is really storming, so it may end up being an indoor day. We do have to clean the house and pack up for our journey home tomorrow.

Our biggest blessing is that we seem to not have suffered too much in the earthquake that hit very near our home (and Alei) while we are away. Alei was at work during the quake and it took several hours before we were able to reach her. Our home seems to not have any damage. We are due for a hurricane to hit this weekend also, so we are going to buying some supplies on our way home. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Guess Where We Are?

We were so blessed yesterday that the wait for Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island was only about 20 minutes. A few years ago, when JD and I went, it was over four hours!

On the ferry - 

On the island - 

Ellis Island - 

 After the two island tour, we were all hungry and tired! I brought tons of snacks on the trip, but packed ZERO for our day in NYC, (I just can't remember everything.) 

 We decided to walk to the closest NY pizza. We stopped very briefly for a street gymnastic show and they grabbed Ben as one of the "volunteers." My only complaint was their occasional crude humor between the cool gymnastic stunts. 

Day two of NYC is tomorrow, we are planning on mainly hitting the Times Square area.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wedding Day

                                                  Getting our little ring bear dressed - 
Ready to roll - 

After the wedding, we all enjoyed the beautiful gardens -

Elijah with Emily, the flower girl, after they ran around the gardens and were all sweaty - 

Here's the video Gabriel took; Gabriel didn't have the best angle from his seat. I don't think Jason and Vickie were wanting two ring bearers (one in his mid-40s), but that is what they got. And they are so sweet, that they just smiled! (I also look like a goof-ball, but that's what happens when you are the mother of a some-times uncooperative three year old!) After previewing the video, Elijah is quite pleased with his performance, however. 

If you want to hear the video remember to pause the music at the bottom of the page.

Day One High-light - Jelly Fish

Day one of our trip went very smoothly. We hit the road only slightly late, stopped at Target for three boy dinner outfits, had no significant traffic all the way through NJ, checked into our house, ironed clothes and made it to the rehearsal dinner by 5:00.

The dinner was a 10 course sea-food event at the brides family's restaurant, Noodle Chu. It was a dream come true for the sea lovers of the family and a eye-opening experience for some of us that haven't experienced a wide variety of sea food. In fact, I assumed the first course was noodles. I ate one bite and it was tasty, then I heard JD saying, "don't tell them, don't tell them." Upon further inquiry, I found out that the noodles were actually jelly fish. At that point, psychologically, I could not continue. 

I didn't think to whip our my camera until course six or seven when this fish (on the right) came out. Elijah was pretty excited to eat fish, which is funny because he isn't normally the adventurous type; he ate several bites before he announced that he doesn't really like fish.

Another adventure was that several of the children mastered chop-sticks; not Elijah, but a few of the older ones.

I'm quite sure Ben ate his weight in seafood. He ate several servings of several of the courses. There were times it wasn't even enjoyable to watch, like when he dug the meat of the lobster out from around the brain. I don't think there was anything he didn't love until raw oysters at the wedding reception. He tried one and gave the other two to Grandma!

I'm going to work on wedding pictures and download a picture of Elijah being the "ring bear." To give you a hint, our joke is, "would the real ring bear please walk forward."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

One More Ring Bear Story

Most people know that Elijah is anticipating his role as "ring bear" in Saturday's wedding up North. He has told us a few times that "he is going to scratch the flower girl while he is being a bear, because that's what bears do." I told him that the flower girl is going to be his new friend and he needs to be very nice to her. He quickly changed his tune and said, "can we keep her Mom? Can we bring her home from the wedding and keep her?"

Here he is demonstrating how to put out a fire with the cool fire-man set he got for sitting so nicely for a hair-cut yesterday. That was his first "real" hair-cut from the "hair-cut store" instead of his momma on the kitchen counter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Getting Ready

The really good news is that Aunt Deb is home! Gabriel had to make an airport run at 3:00 a.m. and find her at the airport without calling her since she had her phone stolen in Peru, but we are all so happy to have her home. She is home just in time to house-sit (with Alei) while we go on our trip to NJ and NY.

There has been a lot of hair attention the last few days. On Monday, I spent several hours corn-rowing Tori's hair. I usually do them twice as big, but I wanted it to stay neat for the whole trip, so I went smaller.

Check out Tori's big front teeth that are on the way in.

On Tuesday, it was Julia hair day. I spent a few hours taking it out and couldn't stand it anymore, so called in back-up. Her hair looks darling (thanks to local talent I know) and I'll show it off in pictures the next few days.

Tomorrow is my only day to pack and load the new vacation trailer, so I'll be plenty busy. Of course, I have some other last minute things to attend to, like cut James and Ben's hair, grocery shop, make "while I'm gone lists for Alei," re-schedule doctor appointments....uh, if I want to get it all done, I should start tomorrow's list tonight!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Baby Bambi

You know the deer that hangs out at my house every day? The one that is pretty tame and helps herself to my tomatoes on a daily basis? The other day we wondered if she had a spring baby. The very next day she decided to bring her baby to visit. Do you see the baby's head in the edge of the woods?

This picture was taken with no telephoto after we walked outside to see the baby closer, that's how comfortable she has become with us.

I've been super busy and pretty stressed. The deer's visit every day provides us all a moment that everyone becomes still and quiet and appreciates the nature around us. I think I'll feed her some corn this winter (and fence my garden next spring.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Don't Try This At Home

 While I have been cleaning out the office, the kids have been entertaining themselves in a number of ways. When I rounded the corner today into the kitchen, this is what Elijah was doing. I grabbed my camera and took the pictures quickly before I sternly reminded him that he wasn't allowed on the table, (especially standing on the colored pencil box....and hanging from the light fixture.)

If you caught my yesterday post, you may be more surprised at the clean table than the wild three year old.  :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Battle I Seldom Win

This is the HOT SPOT in our home - the place that everything lands when we come in the door. The big problem is that it is our dinner table as well, which adds an additional chore before dinner to clear it. 

This is spring cleaning week at my house and I am working on a solution for this problem... and other hot spots.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Swim Finals

We concluded the summer 2011 swim season today with finals. It was a long and hot summer, but I'm glad we did it. JD and Gabriel did the early morning shift, then I came with lunch, and shortly thereafter, JD took the youngest three home.


James on the stand -

Elijah with his buddy, Kole. Kole wasn't real excited about getting his picture taken, but Elijah kept asking me to take his picture with his friend.

Here's Ben going over his next race with his coach.


I ran into an old friend today that is also an adoptive Mom; she has about half biological and half adopted children like I do. She told me that they recently applied to adopt a sibling group of four. While the common reaction is "better you than me," my first reaction was jealousy. I really know it's not reasonable to add four more young children to our brood, but I love the idea of it! I was later analyzing my feelings and it all comes down to the idea that at the end of my life, I don't want to look back and wish I did more. I want to know that I pushed myself as hard as I could to really make a difference. I know there are a ton of ways to make a difference, but adoption seems to be the one that makes me jump up and yell, "me, me." I was yelling "me, me" on the inside as she was talking. It's nice to talk to people that understand as she went on to tell me that the state didn't plan on placing the children with them because of the number of kids they currently have in the home and how disappointed she was.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tomatoes, Jam and Nutrition

Here are the tomatoes that Wendy blessed me with when we met on Tuesday.  I really wanted to make salsa out of them, but realistically did not have time to cram that between swimming every morning and VBS every evening.

I did can them all yesterday (like a crazy woman.) Today I added them to the few jars that I did earlier from the tomatoes in my garden and put them down with my strawberry jam on my canning shelf in the storage room.  I don't know why I love canning so much, but I find it very satisfying!

Along the food lines, I had a long-awaited appointment with a holistic pediatrician last night. It took three months from my call to get an appointment. My appointment time was 6:00 p.m. and I wasn't called back until after 8:00. The office was supposed to close at 9:00, but none of us emerged until 10:15. There were seriously points of the "consultation" that I was so over-whelmed I wanted to cover my ears and tell her that I was leaving (and picking up Oreos and ice-cream on the way home.) Instead, I forced myself to keep it together and take notes for the sake of my children that I know have food related issues.

I am hoping to share a bit of our food  journey on the blog. We have started with some supplements and are going to do a pretty in-depth allergy testing and liver de-tox.

My biggest challenge in life right now is how many directions I feel pulled in. I have first time college students, a first time Classical Conversation student, new therapies and all this food navigation issue. Of course that's all on top of the normal home schooling and soccer schedule.  I often think if I had less to do, I could do it better, but I don't feel like I'm doing anything as well as I need to because I'm pulled in so many directions. I'm sure it's a common dilemma for mothers of large families, but it's making me want to scream!