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.

Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31st

We headed to D.C. today for our first post-placement visit for our adoption agency. The big news is that Bella ate chicken at Chick Fil A - that is her first bite of meat since I've met her!

The other good news is that the girls like any occasion that involves wearing a tutu. 

This isn't my official New Years post....I will try for that one tomorrow. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Gabriel Update

If you remember, JD took these four teens on a road trip outside Chicago for Gabriel's boot camp graduation just days before Christmas. We feel very fortunate that Gabriel was able to come home for Christmas; the week was short, however, as he and JD left for Pensacola this morning. JD drove Gabriel's car, because he isn't allowed to drive it there, but is allowed to have it in only two short weeks. JD will fly home the day after tomorrow. Thankfully, my sister came for bedtime back-up tonight because it can be a bit tough for one!

"Ham", Alayna, Alei and Alyssa 
Instead of either of the Navy trips, I got this cool mug and a t-shirt that says "Navy Mom". I'm happy with that over hours and hours in the car - I'm the daughter of a pilot and have never liked road trips!

Here's a shot of our Christmas meal; Bella ate a tiny bit of dressing with her peanut butter bread... not bad for your first American Christmas meal I guess. 

Now we are on to our great room re-arrange. Originally it was just going to be a Gabriel and Alyssa room swap, now it is a four bed-room re-arrange with three of them getting painted. That, however, definitely deserves a post of its own!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our Watch

Please take a moment and read 

THIS! Let's not be too busy with what doesn't really matter that we neglect what really does!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

 Merry Christmas from our newest family members - 

As well as the "old" - 

As an additional blessing this Christmas, Gabriel graduated from Boot Camp and was able to come home for Christmas (and his belated birthday) - 

Merry Christmas from our family to yours - (may your day be as lively)!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Adoption Link Up

I have decided to participate in a link-up post that is being explained on Linny's blog here - 

A Place Called Simplicity

She is featuring some adoptive families that are bringing home one child. It sounds weird to  think that we are now focusing on just bringing only one home, but that is because my two recently adoptees just came home in November. When we decided that God was calling us to a special need child in Ethiopia, we had no idea that it would result with adding three Ethiopians to our family. 

1.   Tell us a bit about the child you are adopting - including this treasure's age and name  - 

We received word that our youngest adoptee's mom passed away only days before we traveled for court in June. Once we were in Ethiopia, we were met with the surprise that Bella had a 12 year old sister that was moved into the orphanage after her mother's death. She was now a 100% orphan without even one alive relative. We went and met Beruktawit and came home to pray about how to help her. Since her most obvious need was a family, we began her adoption in July while before we even brought Selah and Bella home. Since Ethiopia requires two trips, we returned in November to bring our little girls home and spent three days with "Brooke" as well. She is very anxious to join our family and we are praying that we are able to travel for her soon!

We are not allowed to show Brooke's face until she passes court, but here we are walking together. I'm in the blue and Brooke is in the red (taller one). Our daughters Alei (18) and Alyssa  (13) also traveled with us to meet Brooke. 

This picture was her and I the first time we met in June.

What we can show is Brooke's Ethiopian sisters that just came home in November. Selah is on the left and Bella (Brooke's biological sister) is on the right. 

2.  Is the child you are adopting considered "Special Needs"?  

While Brooke's only known special needs is her age, Selah and Bella were both special needs adoptions. Due to their special needs, Selah had been waiting three years for a family and Bella had been waiting since she was born!

3.  What country or geographic area are you adopting from?

Brooke is from Ethiopia, as are Selah and Bella.

4.   Have you adopted before?

Brooke will be our 7th adoption. Along with five biological children, we adopted a foster son in 2006, three children from Liberia, West Africa in 2007 and 2008, Selah and Bella in 2012 and Brooke will bring our total to 12 children with her homecoming in the new year. 

5.   How close to travel are you?

We are planning on a trip in the spring. 

6.   Do you attend church regularly?   If so, what type of church is it?

We attend Calvary Chapel in Fredericksburg, VA and are always there (unless someone is throwing up :)

7.    Do you tithe with each pay {at least the scriptural standard of 10%}?

We are regular tithers.

8.  This week, did you participate in any way with the day of Praise, Prayer by giving praise on the link and then posting your request?

I did not participate with the day of Praise this week; since I have two new pre-schoolers, I haven't been on the computer as much and often miss things.

9.  Have you read the entire Deadbeat Dad series?  {Yes or No}  Please read it in full, so you can better understand the heart of God for stewarding the money He has graciously gifted us with. 

I did read the entire Deadbeat Dad series and whole-heartily. I think often that people hope that God will provide for orphans or their adoptions without requiring them to alter their comfort level, while in reality, God asks us to sacrifice to be able to adopt. Brooke is our 6th international adoption and the journey hasn't always been comfortable.

10. How did you hear about this Link up we are having? 

I read about this Link directly on Linny's blog before it was too late and I'm so thrilled about it!

11.  Is there anything, briefly, that you would like to share with our orphan-lovin', God-honorin', Jesus worshippin' bloggy friends reading this?

The main  thing I would like to tell people is that we are not doing what we are doing because we think we are great parents or have anything figured out. We are only adopting because we love the orphan and know that it touches the heart of God. It is only by His grace that we are able to do what we do and even on the worst day, we are confident that we are better than no family at all!

Finally, understanding that each gift received through this "Response Time" has been entrusted generously for our use from our loving Father, we promise, in the unlikely event that we would be unable to or decide not to adopt the children we are advocating for, we promise to return all of the money gifted to us as a result of this link to International Voice of the Orphan so they can, at their discretion, give to other families currently adopting.      

{Please place your initials on the line.} 
Yes, I will submit____JSF__             No, I am unable to submit to this ________

Thank you for this opportunity!

Jenny and JD

Thursday, December 20, 2012


 I am here to confess that much of my overall attitude is dependent upon the tidiness of my house. I realize that it's not that I really care if the house is that clean as it is a general feeling of being in control of my life. When I wake up to a some what tidy house, I feel much more optimistic about the day; if I walk out to piles on the kitchen counters, I feel overwhelmed before the day even begins. So, since confession is good for the soul and I've been cleaning all day ...I feel really good right now!

As for some pictures, look how cute Selah's hair is down and wild - 

And look at these awesome pyramids that Ben built today; I was pretty impressed with them  (and him).

JD and the four traveling teens arrived in the Chicago area about two hours ahead of the snow storm. Tomorrow morning is Gabriel's graduation and they will all be back home in only two days!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Keeping My Head Above Water

 I am struggling to keep my head above water as we approach Christmas. JD traveled to three states last week, including Hawaii. Tomorrow he and my big kids head for Gabriel's boot camp graduation in the Chicago area. Next week, he is driving to Florida with Gabriel to report to his first school. With the holiday demands, our current children struggles, and JD's travel schedule, I am way behind lots of things I need to be doing! However, I have decided to still make sure we do the fun Christmas things since it's Selah and Bella's first Christmas home.

Alyssa is plugging on with her Zambia and South Africa fund-raising campaign. I told her from the beginning that she would have to carry the weight of it and she has far exceeded what I thought a 13 year old was capable of. We had a do-nut sale Sunday after church with a few of her sweet friends helping her.

Selah and Bella were good advertisement! We also have the fund-raising prepaid do-nut certificates that can be sent anywhere in the country if you want to purchase donuts through her. They are $7 and allow you to get a dozen do-nuts at any Krispie Kreme anytime. She would be thrilled to mail them to anyone that would like to purchase any. We could get them to you before Christmas if done quickly enough.

Yesterday Alyssa accompanied me to the Richmond Children's Hospital for a follow up for Selah and Bella. They had a Christmas celebration and allowed the little girls to choose a handmade doll from a wagon. Selah insisted that she wanted the little, white boy with blue eyes while Bella chose a brown girl. The tags on them are from a group of ladies at a church that made them and donated them in the name of a loved one - Jack and Ava in our case. 
The tag also said to look at the baby's heart to remind them of who loves them the most. On the chest "Jesus loves you" is embroidered. They are so sweet, I am going to send the church a thank you with this picture in it. I think it will make the ladies who took the time to make the dolls so happy to see where two of them went. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Hay Ride

 I took the children on a Christmas hay ride at a local park in the county. Selah took the Christmas carol singing very seriously - she kept her eyes on the page and made sure to flip to the next page when everyone else did.

I really think Bella was thinking something along the lines of "I can't believe the crazy things Americans do." She was trying to figure out if bumping through the woods in the cold behind a truck was supposed to be fun.

She totally was not thrilled with the whole hot chocolate around the fire idea either.

After a while, she was willing to get out of my arms, but she kept her eyes on the fire just in case it jumped it's cage.

So many firsts in their little lives. Before bed, we gather the family in the living room and pray and read a Bible story. Tonight when the kids were done taking turns praying, Selah said, (in English) "Daddy, Dear Jesus me." She was so pleased to have a turn praying. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bananas, Books and Bed

 We seem to have dual case of Ethiopian stubborness. Selah has always been a bit stubborn, if anything, it has progressively gotten better. Ms. Bella, however, has just decided that she likes some things on her terms. Since she literally only eats cereal (for breakfast) and whole grain bread (for lunch and dinner), there is not a lot of wiggle room in the food negotiation department. The stunt of the last few days is that she comes to the table and asks for a banana or bread, then refuses to even take one bite of it the minute I give it to her. Now mind you, if I offered her a cookie in place of her request, she would wolf it down. So, after a few rounds of this, I decided that when she asks for something, I would give her a very small amount, but I would then make her eat it. So, yesterday's breakfast banana request was our first rough round. She asked for a banana, I gave her half (next time will only be a fourth). She then refused to eat it. I told her to stay in the chair until she ate it. She sat for over 30 minutes. She got down twice and I plopped her right back up and told her to eat the banana. She then took a bite but held it in her mouth and started crying. 

I carried her over to the time out bench and told her to stop crying. She cried and spit the banana all over her sweater and bench. 

Both she and Selah don't want to get up when they know that they are returning to the same scenario. She refused to come back to the table. After several rounds of that, I laid her in bed. After only a few minutes of laying in bed crying, she agreed to come back to the table and ate the banana. 

We had only one small round of crying about bread yesterday and cereal this morning before she ate them - maybe 10 minutes instead of yesterday's hour. Progress.... 

I made a deal with Alyssa that if she would do the work of selling all the school books that I have piled up in the storage room, half the profit could go towards her mission trip. She brought them all up, made a store on Amazon and listed probably 100 books. Five sold last night. It's a win/ win for me as well - money towards next year's curriculum and clearing off the shelves.

The good news is that even when JD is out of town, I have a little buddy that sleeps with me. It's a king sized bed, but sleeping side ways still takes up more than his fair share.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Out on the Town

JD had to go out of town, so I asked my sister if she wanted to accompany the "littles" and I to the mall to see Santa (that my kids know is just a man dressed up, but it hasn't curbed their enthusiasm) and to a Christmas light show. Since my sister is the very best sister in the world, she met me at the mall entrance where I had unloaded the new kid hauling wagon. This wagon is the best because it fits in the tiny back of my van where no stroller fits PLUS it holds three pre-schoolers!

We got some entertaining pictures on Santa's lap. I actually figured out how to scan them, but I can't make them any larger. This one has a nice smile on everyone but Elijah and Selah  - he has a "get me out of here" look (that I found entertaining) and Selah rarely smiles for pictures, she seems to consider them serious in nature.
After that Santa, we had a round of Elijah being Santa.

Most of the kids were cooperative.

My three youngest girls - Bella, Julia and Selah

Debs took this picture of the kids and I checking out our Santa photos. When I look at this picture, I just wonder when I started looking so much like my mother.

The mall has this cool pirate ship that we had to admire. Check out Selah's face as she tries to force Julia off "her" step.

Now check out Julia's reaction to Selah's treatment....oh, the fun of sibling rivalry!

We played long enough that we had to RUN to the light show behind the mall. Here's a picture of Elijah accurately displaying some by standers' reaction to our parade traipsing through the mall.

Once the lights and music started, Selah climbed out of the wagon and danced the whole show through. I wish I had it on video.