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.

Friday, March 30, 2012


 Since I had to cancel the girls and my planned trip to Ikea last week, last night we took the seats out of the van and headed north. Our primary goals were furniture for Alyssa, who sold her antique furniture because she likes the modern look, and a wardrobe for Alei, who just has too many clothes! First thing, we headed to scratch and dent and there were two dressers that we all loved marked half price just because they were displays. We bought them, loaded them in the van and then headed back in. Alyssa was able to also get the vanity that matched the dresser marked down, then she chose a darker night-stand and bookcase. Moriah (who wasn't due anything this trip) lucked out and scored the second half-price dresser. Alei chose a white wardrobe to compliment her current black furniture. 

What surprised me was the girls getting to work this morning building their furniture! Now, I could handle the bookcase, but I wouldn't have attempted the vanity or wardrobe with all the drawer runners. They both did great. It took Alyssa most of the day, but she built all three pieces on her own. 

Alei was smart enough to recruit James for her wardrobe. James is quite gifted in the building department and we all rely on him more and more. It's funny how the human brain is wired because he has always been very interested in building things and now is proving to have absorbed a lot from all those hours he watched JD when he was smaller.

I also spent some time today rearranging some of the other furniture in an effort to make things more organized. Since Alyssa bought a new bookcase, she gave her old one to Alei, who gave her old one to the little girl's room, so I could take their old one and use it in the playroom; it all resulted in a much more organized playroom. Tomorrow, I am planning on moving on to the school room.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Selah's Story

The rhythm (or lack thereof) the last few weeks has made me shake my head a few times and wonder how I'm going to mesh this life with two new children. When JD and I had 13 quiet hours in the car driving to PA and back, one of our conversations ranged on our ages and the volume of small children we are going to have. In fact, at the moment, our youngest are 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7! We have sons that are five months apart and daughters that are 10; adoption has a way of making the impossible possible. While I know there are lots of older people adopting like us, the reality of our ages when our final batch are finishing high-school is hitting me, (it hit JD a long time ago and he has worked through it.) 

When we began our Ethiopian adoption, we asked for siblings and actually did our home study for up to three. We were told siblings were rare and were also told that Ethiopia discourages the adoption of two unrelated children, but makes special cases in the event of special needs. Before we were offered Bella, we had pretty much been scared away from the idea of adopting two unrelated children for the fear of having them on different court schedules that could require four, instead of two, trips to Ethiopia. When we saw God work so obviously in the referral of Bella, we both immediately thought that we needed to re-open the door to a second child. We told the adoption agency that we were open to a second of the same perimeter as the first. We were told that our second child would also have to be paper work ready (most aren't), MOWA (the governing body that handles adoptions in Ethiopia) would have to approve a second unrelated child and they would have to approve us for an 11th child since 10 is Ethiopia's recommended maximum number. There was also only a few weeks to locate a child to keep Isabella's court schedule. We agreed to let the agency look at the different orphanages that they are allowed to place from and all agreed that it would be God's hand if a second child actually was presented. About a month went by when I received a call from our agency that told me that another child had been located. She was in a different region and there were some additional costs to processing in different courts. There are also additional costs to adopting two unrelated children, since Embassy paperwork has to be doubled when they are not biological siblings. We agreed to look at the referral.

I don't know what happened to me at that point, but I realized that I had just landed in a whole new camp in this adoption. While I had a hope of maintaining our current life and just bringing Bella on board, it hit me that bringing two little girls home from different regions, different families, different challenges and possibly even different languages, there was not going to be a smooth and easy adjustment. I realized that we were going to have to make major changes to accommodate both of them, especially Selah who will be five and has been in the orphanage far longer. Although we adopted Ben and Julia in almost the same scenario, fear really set in. I had serious concerns about claiming any second child and at the same time, I couldn't fathom actually walking away from her little picture knowing that she may have never be adopted. I really struggled for two weeks. I talked to a friend and my sister who were both incredibly helpful in the reality of understanding that fear is never from God; and while that doesn't mean we were supposed to proceed, it did mean that I could start to evaluate the decision without taking the fear into account. I finally found peace when I realized that we were being called to lay aside our "normal" lives for the fall and only focus on what these two little girls will need. Once again, that means that my already-at-home children are also being called to give up their normal fall activities to sacrifice for their new sisters. Once I laid aside what I had planned for our family for the fall (including the new Classical Conversations that I was so excited to put them in,) bringing two little girls home looked much more exciting than fearful. 

I want people to know that while we are excited beyond measure, there is still an element of fear. I struggle with the reality of adding two more members to our often already chaotic life. I remember dealing with African parasites and all the other "just came to America" medical care that my Liberians required and I shake my head. But, God flung the door wide open for Selah. She was found in an orphanage towards the Somalian border where she has been waiting for a family for almost three years. Amazingly, she had the beginning stages of prepared paperwork and the adoption agency is planning on submitting their cases in court on the same day. MOWA pre-approved us adopting two unrelated children and also gave pre-approval that Gabriel doesn't count as a child these days since he is 20 and didn't live at home last year. I honestly prayed for God to slam any of these doors shut, if we weren't supposed to come home with two, but they all opened wide. Now, I'm very attached and can't picture heading to Ethiopia and not seeing Selah's little face standing next to Bella's. I haven't gotten word yet, but am hoping that she has been moved to the transition home with Bella and they at least getting to know each other a bit and be some comfort to each other while they wait.

I received a call from Homeland Security the other day verifying Moriah's birth date; the lady told me that my paper would be on the way shortly. This is the last piece of American paperwork that has to make it across the ocean. After that approval, we can be submitted to court and it's only about an eight week wait!

Here's the only part of Selah's picture I can show. Elijah looked at it and said, "we didn't know that she was going to have blue Crocs!" 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Home School Success

Elijah (3 1/2) - Do we live in Australia?
Julia (5 1/2) - No, Elijah, we live in Alaska!

Well, at least they have heard of places other than Virginia, right? That's a success, right?


Monday, March 26, 2012

To PA and Back

I have to sing the public praises of my sister since she altered her weekend plans to care for my tribe with no notice, while JD and I headed to PA to see his Mom and three of his sisters. We will know the next few weeks exactly what Grandma is facing medically. We had a wonderful weekend, it seemed much longer than our normal weekends since it was quality time without the demands of the children. 

As I was loading this picture on the blog, Elijah ran in and said, "that's Grandma - I haven't seen her in MONTHS."  He shook his little head and said, "she looks so beautiful!" So, Grandma, know you look beautiful and you have some fans down in Virginia that hope you can clear a week to come see them soon!

I didn't realize how close to the end of the month we are until my sister asked if we could take her to the airport next Saturday - she is Africa bound! Wish we were, but that will come. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What I've Been Doing

 The first picture will explain the reason I couldn't psychologically get the kid's spring clothes out of storage until I cleaned the storage room. Normally I sort and organize the clothes in this room and bring them to and from their bedrooms to keep the clothes mess contained in one spot, but that wasn't an option because the room was beyond a disaster. It took me about two days, but I restored order to the room, packed up the five youngest children's winter clothes and brought out their summer wardrobe. It's such a good feeling to have all their drawers neat and tidy and know exactly what I have to buy whom to get through the summer!

Before (I warned you it was bad) - 

After (could still use some work, but it's at a point I can handle) - 

Once I got to the point of pulling out bins that I needed to unload into drawers, I had the kids carry them out and "stack them on the couch." This was the pile that awaited me - nice, really nice!

 We received some bad news medically about JD's Mom last night, so we are heading to PA tomorrow. I'm so thankful I got the clothes done first. The kids are staying here with my sister, so maybe I'll have a little time to blog about things that require thought - like Selah's referral story.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Break and Organizing

 I decided to take spring break this week just so I can catch up around the house and get the kids' spring clothes out of storage.  I am trying to accomplish several indoor and outdoor tasks this week. Sunday, we weeded the front flower beds as I recovered from what I think was sun poisoning after painting on Saturday. Yesterday, I cleaned the office (I wouldn't even dare take a before picture.)  

This is as good as it gets for notoriously messy office. There is a big JD pile of papers that I'm opting to not show. 

Today we are moving on to the storage room - it's scary down there but we are anxious to swap winter for summer clothes. It's a major job even though I swap only for the youngest five (to be seven.)

I am really regretting the fact that I didn't save any clothes from Tori and Julia, but my philosophy has always been to only save clothes for actual kids that I have. Thank goodness for friends who are willing to share!

On a side note, I received a new picture of Selah yesterday with a sweet smile. I really think she can't be any bigger than Elijah although she is about 14 months older. I so wish I could post her and Bella's pictures!


Saturday, March 17, 2012


 I finished painting the bedroom yesterday, although it isn't all put back together completely. Today we painted the majority of the screened-in porch; we at least finished painting the area that needed to be done before screening. JD and Alyssa started painting at 9:00 a.m. and I helped once I came home from my home school meeting after lunch. 

Alyssa was the designated paint helper because she did it for payment toward a youth retreat that she went on. She did a good job!

We all celebrated with a pizza picnic on the porch; I'm so thankful for such a beautiful day!

Friday, March 16, 2012

My Little Buddy

 When we launched into our current adoption(s), we really thought we would come home with one little boy. Elijah is the only boy on the younger end of the kid spectrum and we thought it would be nice for him. We decided, though, not to ask for a boy or girl and just leave that to God. When Isabella surfaced, we fell instantly in love and I could not imagine her referral having been a boy. When we decided to open ourselves to a second child, we took the same path and did not specify a boy or girl again, and sure enough, we were blessed with another little girl. (I still need to blog the details of Selah's referral.)

It looks like Elijah is going to remain the lone boy at the bottom of the kid line - with four African sisters. He couldn't be any more excited; he often tells me that he can't wait for his "little" sisters to come home. Although we've explained that Selah is older than him, he is sure he can hold her and call her his little sister. I hope he is as thrilled with them in real life as he is planning to be!

He is such a joy to all of us. Here he is at breakfast yesterday morning. He got his Cat in the Hat costume on first thing. 

Here's last night at the end of a busy day of playing. 

Good thing he is OK with staying my baby boy. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Big Announcement in Poor Quality

We made about three attempts at videoing our big announcement. The one that came out the best was the one that the "filmatographer" didn't remember to hit play on the I-Pod. So, this is our runner-up performance; its major flaw is that the first two children spoke before it started recording so you have to read super quick to catch it. Most of the kids were also losing enthusiasm the more attempts we made, so we just went with it instead of shooting again.  So, get ready, pause the music at the bottom of the screen, hit the arrow and know that the first two signs say "We Are Getting."

If you prefer the print version - we accepted a second referral from Ethiopia. It is a 2nd little girl who will be five in May. Her name will be...

Selah Mercy Kalkidan

There will be more about the story of little Selah's referral, but for now we are rejoicing that we are adding two little princesses to our family this year!

News Still Coming...

Big news still coming tonight...


Monday, March 12, 2012

Other Things

 We have had plenty of other things going on other than playing - 

Julia lost her first top tooth (and she has perfected the biggest cheesiest smile in our family's history.)

We nursed our silky chicken back to health in a Rubbermaid in my bathroom. He never attempted to get out and seemed to enjoy the attention and snacks. 

JD and the kids installed an underground invisible fence for Kylie. It's between 1/2 and 1 acre and is already working like a charm on just the vibrate training mode. The shock is actually turned off and it only vibrated her once and she isn't crossing any little white flags. So much for the days we had to drop everything and chase Kylie down the road! 

The added bonus is that can get the German Shepherd puppy that we have wanted for years. Lincoln is zero watch dog, he won't even chase the deer away, so we want a dog that we feel will be a level of protection for the kids and our home. 

Lastly, I painted half the bedroom over the weekend. I need to get on to the other half and the retreat area, but it's enough to know that I think I like the colors. (It looks way more peach in the picture than it really is - it's more yellow-gold and that top and bottom color really do match.)

I think we will have a BIG announcement tomorrow in the adoption realm, so stop back by. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ben's Birthday

I wrote this blog yesterday, but for some reason Blogger wouldn't post it. So, I'm covering Ben's birthday one more time. There's a ton of other stuff going on that I'll sum up tomorrow - I wanted to give Ben turning 11 its own post. We have traditionally alternated a birthday plan of every other year a party and the other year a family activity. Sometimes that activity is as simple as ordering pizza, but this year Ben really wanted to go roller skating. Since I don't think some of the younger kids had ever been, it was a really fun idea for all of us. 

When I contacted the skating rink, I found out that Thursday is the least expensive night. So, JD came home from work a bit early and we did presents, dinner and cake and then headed out.

The rink had skating on one side and mats and trampolines on the other which was especially nice for Julia and Elijah who had a tough time skating. 

And a good time was had by all!

Monday, March 5, 2012


 So, while I am deliberately not talking about the BIG decision in life that we are making, here are a few insignificant events that I seemed to think were worth pulling the camera out for. 

It's been so warm (except today when it snowed,) that the boys and I built our outside table that we bought on clearance last summer for the screened in porch. 

I gave Elijah the job of putting the screw covers on and he worked hard to do it. 

Now we are able to eat and do school out on the porch. When the porch is finished, we are going to have two table out there so we can all actually sit down.  

The camper finally sold; it was a glorious sight to see it leave once and for all. We have sold a lot of stuff towards this adoption. It's a win/win - we clean things out and generate money!

 Finally, we have decided that it's time to sell the van. We have always wished we bought a 15 passenger instead of the 12, but it's really the gas that is prompting us to upgrade. Because we bought the V-10, so it could pull the boat that we no longer own, it gets much worse gas mileage than a V-8. We are going to put it up for sale and search for a "new" used van at the same time. We gave it what I hope was its last thorough cleaning. 

Today we spent the day in Richmond at the state legislature with a delegate that JD works with. It was a very enjoyable day. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Quiet (and Fearless)

I've been quiet because I'm thinking and praying. I wish I were fearless like my title, but that is far from the truth. Sometimes my life stops long enough that I stand there amazed (on a good side) yet totally overwhelmed (on the not-so-good side.) 

Here's a Francis Chan clip that is only five minutes long called Fearless that I highly recommend.