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, October 30, 2012

From Nazareth

We left Addis Ababa this morning and are in Nazareth through tomorrow and we have wi-fi! I'm sitting out by the pool freezing (yes, in Africa) to get it, but we are all excited. We had a truly remarkable day. We first went to the West Sands School. We were pretty excited to see that they have uniforms this year. We handed out spiral note-books, pencils, slim-jims and some books for the classrooms. The time at recess was spent just hugging on children that are desperate for adult attention. I am going to be able to share more pictures of the kids in the future. We were not able to feed the children the lunch we planned, due to a restriction about feeding kids only one day, but were very blessed to hear that there is a single sponsor who is going to fund the kids eating every day! That news alone brought tears to my eyes!

Our next awesome stop was a monkey haven at a resort. We bought bananas along the road and were able to feed the wild monkeys from our hands. I did slightly consider the rabies risk, but dismissed it because the whole experience was super cool!

The high-light of the day was our visit to Brooke's orphanage. We did not realize that she was never told that we were adopting her. She knew that she had adoption paperwork in the works, but was never told for sure that it was us. Since we assumed that she knew we were adopting her, we began our conversation without clarifying that information. At one point she started to cry; since our translator had taken a phone call, it was a little while before we found out that she was crying from the happiness of understanding that we were coming back for her. She was extremely excited about the gifts we brought her and profusely thanked us. We learned a lot more about her - all good things including being able to see pictures of her mom that passed away and her as a little girl. The adoption agency is allowing her to come back to the transition home with us tomorrow to say good-bye to Bella and have a bit more time with us. 

Brooke is in the red shirt, since we are not allowed to show her face before court.



Monday, October 29, 2012

Quick Update

This whole Blogger experience in Ethiopia is difficult, so excuse any craziness. I wanted to send a quick update because tomorrow we are heading to Nazareth to visit Brooke, distribute school supplies at the West Sands School and see wild monkeys. We are going to spend the night in Nazareth and come "home" mid-day Wednesday - which is Wednesday morning Eastern America time.
The biggest news is that there is hope of the court considering Brooke's adoption package without returning since we have previously met her and are here visiting her again.

One More Picture

Ok, I can't fix the name at the top...but here's a picture of my four girls in Ethiopia. As a side note, Selah's birthday is now October 3rd, so she just turned five and is 10 months older than Elijah. 

Embassy Day Picture

Trying for a Picture

We went to Embassy this morning and it all went smoothly. Selah and Bella looked very cute in their new dresses. Bella threw up all over Alei on the way home in the van; a crowd gathered as the driver attempted to clean them both up with a few rags. It was good entertainment for all! 

There is a small chance that we can appear in court this week to be pre-approved for Brooke. Please pray that we will have favor with the judge! 

I'm going to post the picture separately, so I won't lose this if the computer goes during my attempt.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

We Are Here

We arrived in Ethiopia early, early this morning. Our flight was smooth, all our luggage arrived and the girls were thrilled to see us. We stayed here all day with the girls and were also blessed to meet a little girl being adopted by friends and meet Brooke's closest friend who was just moved to the transition home. We have some fun things in the works for the week and I hope that the Internet will be gracious to allow us updates and an occasional picture.

Friday, October 26, 2012

We Are Off!

 This is the current state of my living room. I have successfully semi-packed about 175 pounds of notebooks, over 600 slim-jims, tons of back-packs, five quilts (for a girl's safe house), and rice and beans to feed 250 kids and their workers - I even have the disposable bowls packed. I have also managed to pack some cute clothes and fun toys for the girl's trip home.   We leave in exactly four hours, so I have to get back to work.

Just pray for smooth travels for us and a good week for my crew at home!

Next post from Ethiopia!



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Last Picture

You know, I was doing well yesterday until I went into Gabriel's room to put away a shirt and a sock that I found in the laundry room. He had the room totally clean and the bed stripped, then the sadness just hit me. He sent this picture tonight before he stepped off the plane to the beginning of his new life. I know every parent has to feel this, but it just seems so strange that he is a suddenly grown. We will be praying for him everyday and awaiting any news from him while he is at boot camp. (I'm thinking Alayna may hear from him first, but she'll be nice enough to let us know :)

Tomorrow is our last full day in the country - there is much to be done. TOO much!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gabriel's Departure

 As our family gets larger, more and more special events over-lap. Last night was Gabriel's last night at home and it was also Moriah's 15th birthday. Since Moriah had a party a few weeks ago, Gabriel had his girl-friend, Alayna, and his friend, Ham, for dinner. Gabriel's request was strombolis and cheese-cake and Moriah's was chicken pot pie and frosted sugar cookies, so we had both dinners and desserts. The benefit of all that cooking is that tonight can just be left-overs. 

Here's the teen pack at dinner - note how I didn't even have time to remove the mail from the table! (I'm packing for Ethiopia, you know...)

We gathered in the living room for presents - 

Moriah, now 15, with her little buddy - 

Alayna and Julia - 

Group shot...what cracked me up was what I noticed as I loaded this picture.

Look at Elijah kissing Alayna's cheek. He loves Alayna - (so does his brother!)

Gabriel and his phone, man, is he going to miss that when the Navy throws it into the "to be sent home" bin.

Ham taught the kids a bit of ball-room dancing. 

He decided Ben needed some culture; Ben was pretty horrified and Elijah said, "Ham is making Ben be a girl!"

Gabriel was supposed to leave this afternoon, but was informed last night that he had to report early this morning for a personality test that is given to all home-schoolers. I found it interesting that they don't phase that in a more politically correct way, but Gabriel has way more personality than any public-school graduate that I know, so we aren't worried. 

I insisted that he take this picture with the girls straight out of bed before they left for school.

Then we had another before I took Alyssa to school. Moriah was already gone and none of us thought to wake Alei until afterwards, (she would have refused to be photographed straight out of bed anyway.)

Hard to believe that he is really out on his own. It's just kind of sinking in...(JD took me out to lunch).

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Color Run

 Obviously with our trip to Ethiopia in only a few days, we have a ton to do, but Alei and I did take a moment to come up with a theme for our running group at the Color Run - COWS. My mother scored on a swell assortment of cow t-shirts at an estate sale and I had more than enough cow shirts for our running party. My shirt also had a fine view of the cows udders on the back, which I thought would be appreciated by all the people forced to run behind me. I realize this is a horrible picture, but Alei and I  were really cracking ourselves up late the night before the run.

 There were 6,000 people at the 5K and we were in one of the last heats, due to the fact that we didn't see the long line of port-a-potties and waited in the Subway bathroom line for a full 30 minutes when the race was due to begin.

This is just proof that we had fun - 

The Finish Line - I did run the majority of the race.

I want to do another 5k soon, but I'm pretty sure most of them aren't going to be as fun as this one.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Final Weekend

 This is our last weekend before we leave for Ethiopia, so we are trying to accomplish an assortment of odd jobs. Yesterday, while we enjoyed our visit with Jason (nephew and cousin), we also chopped the last of the apple making applesauce. All together we canned 75 pounds and it amounted to about 26 quarts. James and Ben were awesome help chopping this year!

The smell of baking apples is one of my favorite.

While we were at it, we whipped up a batch of cookies and some loaves of bread.

So, I get so mad at myself when I forget to get the pictures that really matter - like Jason's face! Here he is with the child herd setting out on a hike to the beaver dam that is now all dried up. It was a large, thriving beaver dam when we moved in about eight years ago.

Elijah was pretty excited to be included on the big kid adventure. He suggested to Jason that they call it the beaver jam instead of the beaver dam.

Tomorrow Alei and I are running The Color Run 5K in Washington DC. Before you are even remotely impressed, please know that neither of us have ever run three miles in our life! I have run two miles a few times now, so I'm hoping to push myself through it. It will be an adventure either way. There are six of us going that are all running, so I don't know how we will even get any pictures; which is a shame because the idea of The Color Run is that they throw colors on you as you run. (Who comes up with this stuff...and who pays to participate?)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Getting Ready

 I have every day before we leave for Ethiopia, next Friday, chalked full. Most of it is just life related, more than Africa related, but it is a rather demanding schedule. Strangely, I am home alone this morning because JD took all the boys to a museum that they have been wanting to visit before Gabriel's departure and Alyssa went to another museum the opposite direction with her Classical Conversations class. To spice things up, JD's nephew is coming into town tonight and my brother is arriving at my sister's tomorrow and our house on Sunday. Beyond that, Monday is Moriah's birthday and Gabriel's LAST night at home. He leaves for Boot Camp on Tuesday!! Other than all that, traveling for an adoption absolutely requires me to deep clean the house before I leave; I have always taken that nesting idea very seriously. Yesterday, my friend's daughter came and helped for the day and we got the majority of the basement done. Today I am moving upstairs and trying to conquer most of it. In reality, the cleaning isn't going to be nearly as deep as I hoped, but it will be to a level that I can cope with.

JD is busy building the chimney that is for the wood stove in the basement. We may actually be able to use it this year, although the stone looks like a big job! He has to complete the chimney coming through the porch before the flooring and ceiling of the porch can be completed. We also have a friend's son finishing the barn painting that we did about five years ago and never completed. 

JD brought home two little love-seats for our future seating area around the wood stove that I had to work into the down-stairs yesterday. Someday the pool table will move to the game-room, but I'm afraid that that may still be a few years away. 

In addition to my cleaning, organizing and packing, I still have about 65 pounds of apples that have to be turned into applesauce. I have only done one double session resulting in eight quart jars. I also have to tighten Julia's locs, which is probably a good four hour job.

It is all good and I am so excited that we are barely a week away from bringing our little girls home. We have gotten approval to make the trip out to see Brooke also, so that is extra exciting. It will be so fun to see Brooke's reaction to meeting two of her three big sisters!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bread and Turkeys

I went away for the weekend to a woman's retreat that my husband set up and insisted I go. I really wanted to, but hadn't signed up since our travel dates were so up in the air. I also would not have gone if I had known how soon we leave, but it was all set up the day before I got Ethiopia travel dates...so I am assuming that was God wanting me to go. I am so, so thankful I went; the message was just what I needed to hear. JD went into super-mode setting it all up for me and handling the details of Moriah's birthday party on Saturday and Alyssa's donut sale on Sunday. Since I don't know all the girls that Moriah invited to the cook-out party, I assume some of their moms have to think I'm quit the loser not being at my own daughter's party, but my sister graciously was here to play the mother role. 

Alyssa's Sunday donut sale afforded Elijah the opportunity of acquiring this fabulous free hat. He has worn it all day. This morning he told the bus driver that he was a chef and going to bake her something. Since our wheat came in Friday, we made home-made bread together.

Elijah was anxious to start the bread but we had to make the bus run, pick up Saturday's mail, eat breakfast and get dressed. 

He wanted to do every step. Of course, he is good at dumping ingredients, but he did very well rolling out the bread dough!

He was slightly alarmed when it was rolling off the counter.

I showed him how to roll them into loaves; I did one and he did the other three. 

They turned out perfect.

While we were baking, Ben called that there were wild turkeys in the backyard. Sure enough, there were about 20. This picture is bad quality, but I was afraid to open the screen or I would scare them away.