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, January 31, 2012

Short Documentary

If you have about 13 minutes, watch this short documentary about children living with HIV. We met the little cutie at the beginning of the video at the Orphan Summit last November. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I haven't blogged all weekend, but neither have I done any laundry, any cleaning or any shopping. Other than throwing some spinach in the juicer, I have done mounds of adoption paper work! I am serious - mounds and mounds! Last Thursday, I had not started our dossier (the huge pile of paperwork for Ethiopia) and was preparing to get the I600 (Homeland security paperwork) in the mail, when I made a quick call to the adoption agency with a question. What the lady told me on the phone put us in to SUPER rush mode! I hope to be able to share more details this week!! In a little over 72 hours, we have Fed Ex'ed our I600 and scanned and emailed the great majority of the dossier to the adoption agency. We have one more training session online that wouldn't allow me to register over the weekend and one more book to finish. We are also waiting for several notarized letters from things like life insurance policies and original birth and marriage certificates to come in the mail. Other than that, we have pumped out the paperwork. 

In between the paperwork, we've discussed names - that's always fun even though I don't think I'm going to get to use the girl name I really want. I'm just too outnumbered (even Elijah has sided with everyone else.) It's OK, I always keep a few names in reserve.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Guess Who's Going To Africa

Gabriel and Alei each got a turn traveling to Liberia when we adopted in 2006 and 2007; this year is Alyssa's turn! Although Moriah is older, she has no interest in making the trip, so Alyssa has the awesome opportunity to accompany us on one of the trips this year. JD and I both have to make the first trip for court; we are not both required to go on the second trip. We may both go  or may not, based on child care arrangements at home and finances. We have decided that Alyssa will be going on whatever trip provides the most travel and experience opportunities; this means JD may make the second trip alone. (Hope not, I want to go both!) Alyssa has asked to go to Africa since she was a little girl, so we are very excited to take her!

(I can't say much yet, but we are possibly on the brink of exciting news on the adoption front....stay tuned.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Long Term Change

 This is day six of our 15 day juice program; today we are adding back in nuts and beans. It hasn't been too tough since we have eaten all the fruits and vegetables that we have wanted. I can't even begin to guess how many servings I've eaten a day. While we were intending to continue juicing all three meals, we are cutting back to once a day and just eating the other two meals of fruit and vegetables due to the cost and waste. (I wish Vitamix shipped their products faster, but they told me it wouldn't be here for several more days.)

I made a soup last night with the tomato base I canned back in the summer - we added onions, carrots, celery, cabbage, broccoli and red pepper. It was delicious and we all agreed that we would have enjoyed it even before juicing. 

I broke down and made the kids bread yesterday; the smell of it cooking is a bit tempting. I also made Moriah a gluten-free flat bread that she actually liked. We haven't found many gluten free bread products that actually taste good. 

My kids eat too much junk food, as evidenced by Tori's do-nut and hot chocolate. They are going to be blessed with a green (veggie) smoothie a day in the very near future. As others know, it's very expensive to feed a large family healthy.

This past week has really made us reflect on what changes we need to make for our family long term; we are going to push to try and make the majority of our diet plant based, rather than animal based. 

Monday, January 23, 2012


 JD, Alei and I are on day three of six eating only fruits and vegetables. We are juicing fruit at breakfast, juicing vegetables (and apples) at lunch and dinner and are eating tons of fruits and vegetables in between. Day seven through 15 we are going to add in nuts and beans - we are pretty excited about that! (Day 16, JD is eating steak on the grill and I am eating chicken on the grill....and chocolate chip cookies for dessert, but we won't focus on that!) 

It's going well overall. The first negative is that I still have to cook and feed the kids real food; the second negative is how expensive good fruit and vegetables cost. I bought a juicer, but am totally unhappy with how much it wastes. We are upgrading to a Vitamix that will grind the whole fruit with no waste. 

A perk of all these fruits and veggies is that Julia and Elijah are able to play help wash them. They tend to wash themselves and the floor also but they enjoy it. 

I'm doing this because my chiropractor convinced me that it would help with inflammation in my neck, but I'm sure hoping for some lost pounds as well.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Birthday Bowl

To celebrate Tori's 7th birthday, we took the crew birthday bowling. 

It is relatively affordable on the Navy base and the kids have been wanting to go for at least a year. It was way easier than I anticipated; everyone got the game and took their turn (even Elijah). It was really fun for everyone. 

Once we came home, Aunt Deb joined us for pizza and birthday dirt cake. 

Happy Birthday Tori; it's hard to believe you are seven already! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Basement Progress

 JD and I spent an afternoon and evening cleaning and organizing the basement open areas. This is the back room "future game room" that is still the construction zone of the house, but at least it's more organized and the air hockey table is available again. 

This is the big closet that is in the back of the room. It was full, but now I have an empty shelf. 

Of course, organizing usually makes a bigger mess to start with. Here was the pool table area while we were working. 

 Thankfully, here it is now - Eventually, the pool table will move to the game room and this will be a seating area around the wood burning stove. 

Here's the Lazy Boy sectional we bought on Craigslist; we are really thrilled with it. 

My plan to keep one of the couches in the room isn't going to work because it's blocking the future door. Eventually I will trade it for  a love seat or chair so we can maximize seating. Hard to believe, but we really don't all fit on the sectional!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Moving On

Since JD was out of town, I spent last night thoroughly cleaning out the kitchen cabinets. I also got rid of the items I don't really use to make room for the new items that were sitting on the counter homeless. While there are other areas of the house that were in worse shape, the kitchen is our center gathering place and it's so nice to open tidy cabinets instead of things falling out when you open them. 

                (half eaten apple courtesy of Elijah - he put it there to "save" it.)

I am amazed by those people that have completely clear kitchen counters; I think that would be so nice since I wipe them down at least three times a day. I really tried to not keep anything out that wasn't used several times a day and there is still plenty sitting out. I need to embrace the "lived in" look that describes our home so well. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Stuff and Things

The kids in our area are off school today for Martin Luther King Day, but I decided we needed to work to make up for the unplanned days I was away from home last week. I have felt fine since my ER trip, but I have a dozy of a bruise on my arm from the nurse attempting to put an IV in. It's rather shocking that she graduated from nursing school with her technique that resulted in no IV, a huge bruise and blood all over the floor. She told me that occasionally her rooms look like an ax murder scene! I didn't complain though, because she brought me a sandwich in the afternoon after I hadn't eaten all day. 

JD and I attended his work Holiday party this last weekend; it's really nice that they always do it after the Christmas party rush. We stopped for a quick photo and Elijah ran in to show off his tie. 

We also had a family over last night that wanted to discuss adoption options. That is literally one of our favorite things to do and the kids had a great time playing. 

So, I'm planning a nice boring (not that I'm sure that word ever accurately describes our life) week that is caring for the kids, doing Julia's hair  - 

Schooling - 

And playing - 

I'm also anxious to start my de-cluttering and organizing effort. I am going start working in the kitchen tonight but am really anxious to get downstairs in the unfinished family room. We bought a big leather sectional on Craiglslist yesterday so it'll be fun to make some progress in that room. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Twists and Turns

After spending last week dealing with a virus that swept through the house, this week was supposed to be "heavy school." Yesterday, I spent the afternoon at the college with Gabriel dropping and adding a class due to a mistake I made. We then had to make a trip out to a college bookstore (ours is closed due to earthquake damage) an hour away to swap books.

Today I got up early and went to a weight lifting class. I came home, ate my Greek yogurt and took my vitamins. I was heading for the shower when Gabriel asked if I would make him some eggs. I started cooking eggs and had a sudden and excruciating pain in my chest. I laid on the couch for about 10 minutes before having Moriah call JD at work. I then lasted about another 10 minutes before I asked Gabriel to start driving me to the hospital. The pain so was so bad that I couldn't breathe. After a day at the hospital, they have ruled out a heart attack (I'm way too young for that in my opinion) and I have to do some other testing. I think it has something to do with an infection and the cough that I have had for about a month, but I am going to have to humor the doctors and my husband and do the heart stress workups. (Just what I was hoping for right after finishing the 11 physicals that just went out in this morning's mail!)  

Anyway, the moral of the story is to watch out for juicing and weight lifting. Ok, just kidding, the real lesson for me is to be flexible and not get frustrated when things don't go as planned. 

 I'm still hoping for a good school day tomorrow. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Juice Experiment

So, I bought a juicer. My chiropractor has convinced me that it would decrease the inflammation in my back if I did even a six day juice fast. Secondly, we watched "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" on Netflix (I'd highly recommend it) and wanted to try juicing on a lesser level than the guy in the documentary. 

I went for really healthy; I think we eat enough fruits that I wanted to focus on getting some really good green vegetables down everyone. I chose kale, spinach, carrots and apples; according to my chiropractor "if you throw an apple in any veggie mixture, it'll be good." That may be the case for a man who eats no chicken nuggets and cheesecake, but I wasn't thrilled with the taste. My children all dutifully tried a drink and said the same thing that I was thinking, "it isn't too bad." I can guarantee if I try to serve them a glass in the morning, they will politely decline (and I can't blame them.)

I'm going to have to go online and find some recipes that are perhaps a little less green. I may decide that it's an acquired taste and try a glass a day, but I'm not jumping on the idea of nothing but this for six days yet! (Our chicken is in the oven!)

Any juicers out there have any advice? I'd also like to know what to do with the pulp; it seems way too wasteful to not use it in some soup or something.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Real Women Take Their Daughters to the Dump

 I wanted to take advantage of the pretty weather today so I headed out to clean out the barn with a few helpers. I did everything but JD's shop, since I'm unable to identify most of the stuff in there. By the time I was finished, I had a very full load for the dump. I decided it made the most sense to just go ahead and take it. Since the boys were helping JD with the deck, I told Moriah and Alyssa that it was their lucky day and we loaded up. 

The three little guys never miss a dump run; I'm sure it has something to do with the sodas JD usually stops for. 

 At one point, Moriah, Alyssa and I just started laughing. For starters, I just look ridiculous driving the "truck with six wheels." I also have a terrible time backing up to the dump loading dock and had to have Moriah stand back there yelling directions. I had a horrible time removing the straps that JD had secured on; four trucks came and went next to us before we could unload. The dump guy made me unload the metal in a separate location, then I had recyclables (since I'm a good citizen) that had to be carted to recycling. Once we could start unloading the main load, Moriah threw something that flung a bunch of dirt in Alyssa's face and she was sputtering. Alyssa announced that she really wasn't cut out for this job; Moriah agreed that she wasn't either. 

Finally, we got it unloaded, stopped for sodas and headed home. 

The girls and I had fun but we aren't going to permanently take the weekly run from the boys!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


 January hasn't been the best yet; just when I thought we were in the clear with the virus, Alei woke up sick this morning. I'm really praying Gabriel, who has a two day college class this weekend and starts his semester this week, doesn't get it (or the string of Gabriel and Alei's friends that have been here)! At this point, we are down to only a few kids who haven't been sick and Elijah has already suffered a second round. 

(Elijah is asleep in this picture, and not sick, just the end of the day.)

I am having a little attitude about my animals at the moment. I am just a bit overwhelmed at all the two legged and four legged things that I live with that are refusing to comply with the rules. So, for now, Hunter is the only cat that I like. He's still a pain and gets on the table, but he's a really cool cat.

Today is gorgeous - upper 60s, so I'm blessed that the little guys have been able to play outside most of the day. I decided to pick the carrots that I planted at the end of the summer. They are really tiny - I don't know if they were supposed to be or not.

I was really surprised to find that the broccoli had grown again. I really thought my one big pick was all that I would get. It's amazing that it just grows and doesn't freeze, it's been below freezing  many times. (I'm new at this gardening thing, remember?)

I love my little gardening helpers, although I really need to buy more shovels; two shovels are just not enough for one momma and five helpers!

I could make due with this weather all month!