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.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Seldom As I Plan

If there is one thing I can count on - it's that things don't go as I plan. I'm generally pretty good with it, because it's the reality of my day to day life. A big project that I've had on the my mental list since before Christmas is to gut and clean out our master closet. I wanted to paint it, but I talked myself out of that when I saw the reality of painting around the closet organizing system JD installed. I really think this is only the second good clean our closet has gotten since moving in 4.5 years ago.

fuzzy cell phone pictures - sorry

These are the last five of seven bags that are heading to the thrift store. I think JD could have competed for "most work shirts"; I don't know how they were all crammed in there because I got rid of 20 to 30 and his racks are still rather full. (His answer is..."you bought them all" - true, but only when you said, "I need more dress shirts.) From now on, none come in unless something leaves in it's place and I don't think anymore will be needed for several years.

Here's my after shot - so much better. You can't see the first set of drawers in the first picture, but they were stuffed with "who knows what", now they are organized. I'm going to find some little labels and with hanging tags for the drawers just because I like everything labeled.

My first major job interruption is little Tori. She was still sick yesterday and has only been to school one day in almost two weeks. I took her yesterday for blood work; the doctor thinks she may have mono. The results should be back in a day or two.

I was pretty excited that I had today with no medical appointments, (I did three separate medical appointments yesterday). My plan was to tackle the piles I have made all over the bedroom from the closet that need to be organized, like sewing, quilting and jewelry.  BUT, it is not to be since Ben blessed me with the news of a chicken crises.


If you need me this afternoon....I'll be in the chicken coop. It should, however, make for some good pictures for tomorrow's blog.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Urgent Care Update

I received a call from the office manager of the Urgent Care that I wrote about yesterday. She was a very nice lady who profusely apologized for the treatment that JD and the children received on Saturday. She confirmed that the staff did not adhere to policy when they challenged JD about the children actually being his; they should have simply checked with insurance to see that the children were listed as dependants. She told me that they were officially reprimended and would be terminated if any incident like this was repeated. I'm kind of nervous to go back in there, because I'm pretty sure they will remember our faces, but I'm pleased at how serious the staff took the situation. Hopefully, my kids won't get sick on a weekend for a while and other families that look like ours will benefit down the road...at least in our little county.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Twice in One Week

After parenting children born in Africa for over six years, I will say that we have had very, very few incidents where people have been negative about our family. This week hasn't been a great week in that area, however, with yesterday's incident far more maddening than my first story.

My first tale was at Wolf Lodge. We had two friends and my sister go and help us. One of my friends was paired with Julia and when I rounded the corner near the water slides, she was standing with Julia and a Life Guard. Julia, being the usual Julia, was screaming and howling about this tiny speck of a boo-boo on her knee. The Life Guard was attempting to put a band-aid on it while Julia thrashed and carried on. I walked up, examined it and reassured Julia that it was going to be fine. The Life Guard (who apparently assumed that my friend who does resemble Julia more than me was Julia's mom) glared at me, moved her entire body to block me and continued to give my friend instructions about Julia's injury. While I am generally quick on my feet (or mouth), I stood there, rather confused at her treatment of me until she walked off. Talking to my friend, we concluded afterwards that she must have assumed that I was a noisy by-stander. I wish I had mentioned to her that I was Julia's mother.

James and Julia

Yesterday's story was far more frustrating. After battling illness all week, JD packed up Ben, Tori and Bella for the Urgent Care close to our house that our family has been to on several occasions. JD walked in, signed them in and began filling out the paperwork because these particular children had never been seen at this particular branch of Urgent Care. The receptionist interrupted JD to ask if he was the children's father; he assured her that he was. She then inquired about insurance and he gave her the information. After a bit, she came back to tell him that they wouldn't be able to treat the children unless he had adoption decrees to prove they were his kids. Now, let's be honest, if he had darker skin or all three children had lighter skin, they would never ask for an adoption decree. Furthermore, Tori has been home over six years and Ben five - who is carrying around adoption decrees at that point? JD politely told her that she did not need to see adoption decrees, but she could look at his insurance to see that the children all had his name and were listed as his dependants. At this point, the receptionist brought out a nurse, who also argued that they couldn't treat the children until they saw adoption decrees. While they stood their ground, JD asked them if they would require this if his face matched the children's better or if they were, say, Asian instead of African? ( I would have loved to ask if they were going to collect birth certificates or adoption decrees for the other children in the waiting room!) Both ladies were rather uncomfortable and fumbled for words while he told them he would have to go elsewhere, because he wasn't carrying adoption decrees and would not be producing them since their request was out of line. Only as he was leaving, did they bring out the actual on-staff doctor who was most unimpressed with their request or treatment of our family. After his profuse apologies, the nurse commented that she guessed they needed some training for these situations. You think?

I remember being aware of people's reactions to me and Tori when she first came home. At this point, I sometimes catch people staring at us in public and my first reaction is "what is their deal?" I guess that's a good thing.  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

BIG News

Gabriel, our oldest son, who is now living in Florida and excelling at Navy life is officially engaged to Alayna. There isn't a date set yet, but we are looking at an exciting year - we will gain a new daughter, Brooke, and Alayna as a daughter in law. Congratulations Gabriel and Alayna!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Few More Pictures - Home Version

 I totally failed getting adequate pictures at Wolf Lodge. We were actually accompanied by two sisters from church and Aunt Deb, who helped keep little people from getting lost or drowning - I don't even have one picture to prove they were there. It was tough to have the camera around a bunch of wet kids and we weren't able to really watch it, so it spent most of the time in the room.

Here's my pictures of Bella and Selah's first water play experience. They had a blast. On the way, they asked if "water slides in America or Ethiopia?" As if we were all just driving to Ethiopia; they must not remember how long that flight home was.

 Julia is a crazy, pool loving girl. You can barely keep up with her and she rides everything!

Here was our pool side lunch where we were happy to find a tiny table with three chairs. It was crowded!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Wolf Lodge - Phone Version

We spent the last two days at Great Wolf Lodge. We really thought we were going to have to postpone our trip because Elijah had a horrible cough and fever the day before we were leaving, but he woke up fine that morning. I didn't pack the day before and JD was working the morning we left, so I had to throw things together rather quickly. While I hope we have better pictures on the camera, here's a few phone shots from today.

Selah had zero fear and was putting her face in the water by the end of he day. Elijah is very cautious and observes before he is willing to join. Bella is somewhere in between but spent hours "washing" her hair in the small fountains. The kids had a great time although it was slightly nerve wracking for me to keep up with three non-swimmers. Maybe I can get them swimming before next year's trip.

Friday, February 15, 2013

After Monday

I can't believe I haven't blogged since Monday, because this week had the potential of being slower. After spending Monday in Richmond with James, I was back at the hospital with the little girls for a followup appointment on Tuesday. While I like the doctor, they are ridiculously slow....like over an hour wait for one shot. I also have to park my car by valet and it takes them forever to bring it back. After I get through the parasite, etc, issues of coming from Africa, I will be transferring Selah and Bella to a closer doctor.  

To further annoy the parking attendants, I showed up this week in my big van. They just sighed when I rolled the window down, smiled and asked, "can you park this thing?" I had to take the van so I could pick up these boxes of books from Wendy. Wendy donated them to Alyssa to sell in her Amazon book-store to help fund her trip to Zambia and South Africa. (They are currently sitting in my dining room.)

The fun part of the trip was that Wendy and I hung out at our usual Chick Fil A for a while and my girls got to play with baby Ruthie.

On Wednesday, I loaded up all the kids and did major grocery shopping at two stores. $400 later I have all the food needed for my menu plan as well as other essentials, like cereal. By the way, I only buy cereal when it's a good deal - these boxes were $1.25 after coupons. 

 Today Alei didn't have to be at work until 3:00 and we have been looking for a time to head to Ikea. JD finished the girl's downstairs bathroom and we needed some items for it. When I looked at their web-site and saw that it was a free lunch weekend, we knew it was our day. Their lunch deal is several times a year -  you buy your lunch in the cafe, then when you get to the store register, as long as your total is over $100, they deduct your entire lunch bill. Our lunch for eight today was $77 and it was all taken off our bill when we left the store. My goal was to not spend much over the $100 that was required, but my Ikea wish list was a little longer than that.

James got right to work building when we got home. Elijah was actually pretty helpful with the little table.

This little table has been on my Ikea list since before the girls came home. It is going to spend time in the school room for puzzles and the play room for the play kitchen. It's cute to see how excited they are with it.

I broke my camera trying to get the above shot. The strap got caught on my desk and it banded hard enough to break the lens glass. I guess we will have a lot more "phone" shots while it is off at the repair shop.



Monday, February 11, 2013

Three Hours of Catch Up

Today was the second Monday in a row that I had three quiet hours to sit in the Children's Hospital cafe while the boys did testing. I'm thoroughly sick of the drive to Richmond (I go back tomorrow) but the quiet time to get things done was nice.

I started by cutting all the coupons that I had piled up since November; lots of them were already expiring.

Alei is forever complaining about how she wears out her work pants, so I sent her this flyer. As a fashion conscience teen, she was pretty excited. (It's good to take time for fun).

When James had his break, I had a snack too. (I know, I'm bad...)

Once James and I got back to work, I finished my new menu plan idea. I am making a winter menu that will consist of one month of meals that I will rotate for a few months until I create a spring menu. Eventually, I plan on having four menus, one for each season, that I will use three months in a row before switching.

I then created a master shopping list for the winter menu. I can then shop once and have what I need for the month of dinners. I hope this works, I have really not ever been too organized in the food preparation department.

I saved the worst for last...the dreaded medical bills. So many of them don't get automatically filed to our secondary insurance. I either have to call the billing company and ask them to refile or I have to pay it and file to be refunded. I also have had the fun of making sure everyone and his brother has the information on the new girls. It is amazing how I make sure I give the information at the appointment and the medical billing department can not retain the information. Anyway, now that I'm home, I am just down to a big pile that needs to be faxed in. It will be the first time that I am caught up since Selah and Bella have come home.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Saturday in a Nutshell

 Thursday was my original appointment for Julia with the "loc specialist". It was a bit of a disappointment since I took her out of school early and the lady did not show because she had left her phone at church and didn't remember the appointment. Since I liked her so much, I wanted to reschedule for the next week - but looking at my next week, I decided I had to cram it in late Friday afternoon. That made five days in a row for me to have major appointments away from home. Thankfully, she deep conditioned Julia's hair and got out about 80% of the tangles. I am going to start tightening the locs for 15 minutes every afternoon and hope that I can get through the other 20%, otherswise Julia will be back in short order. So much for locs being the easy option - it sure doesn't seem that way to me!

My Saturday was very simple. Corn-rows for Bella -

Corn-rows for Selah -

Corn-rows for Tori -

And then just for some exciting variety to my day, I cut Elijah's hair!

Can you imagine the free time I would have if I had adopted from China instead of Africa? Good thing I love the kids God gave me!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Selah and Brown Bear

I filmed this of Selah this evening to show her English after only three months in America. It is amazing how much language she has learned. While little Bella still tends to ramble on to me in Amarhic, Selah almost always thinks of English words to communicate. Their little brains are so remarkable!



Monday, February 4, 2013

If You Give A Mom A Morning

If you give a mom a morning that she didn't plan to have, it can play out much like If you Give a Mouse a Cookie..

I was completely ready for church when Julia started complaining of a stomach ache. I woke up  Alei, that still wasn't feeling well, to ask if I could leave Julia home with her. She agreed, but then Julia picked up the complaining and asked for a throw up bowl; I decided to not leave Alei with that to deal with, so I changed back into my pajama pants and wished JD well as he headed off to church with the eight well children.

I headed downstairs to my freshly cleaned storage room to get Julia a ginger ale, when I noticed that the bins of extra cereal didn't get put away. I found a spot for them next to the salad dressings on the shelf; which led me to think that I should check their expiration dates and shift any that were getting close to expiring to the upstairs pantry. Well, we obviously have done a poor job of rotating the dressings because many of them expired last February. I took them upstairs to Google "how expired to too expired" and found out that they are good for a full year past expiration dates. (It's going to be tough to consume six bottles before the end of the month!) After my salad dressing fiasco, I thought I better check the can cabinet and verify their dates. By the time I was done, I had the really old cans warming for "dog soup" and another pile that needed to be eaten right away.

Looking at the canned veggies reminded me that there were also fresh veggies that really needed eating, so I cleaned out both fridges and was left with a second "needs to be eaten" pile.

Once I had my piles, I started cooking. The fresh veggies were turned into a veggie tray with dip (retired ranch) and a cabbage soup for the respectable adults. ( It's always nice to have something cooking that the kids are truly scared of; they look in, gasp, and ask "is that for us?" while they hold their breath waiting for an answer).

Since I had several cans of almost expired cream corn, I whipped up a big pot of Amish soup that everyone loves; the bonus was that it also used potatoes that needed eating.

In my pile was expiring canned apples, so they were turned into apple cobbler; but since it made such a small pan, I made some brownies to round out dessert.

Since the oven was on for brownies, I also whipped up some biscuits to go with our soup buffet.

Never mind the laundry and bills I was planning on working on. I had a happy family when they walked in to the good smells after church and I have a pantry (upstairs and down) with all the 2013 cans front and center. JD made a comment about me always staying home and my sister was happy because she likes about 30 servings of vegetables a day.

I could be a great home-maker if I could just stay home, but today I'm back in Richmond for Ben's three hours of learning disability testing. At least when I make it home, we have soup for lunch. I think next weekend I will clean out the freezers and create more meals from what I find that needs to be eaten. You really do save money if you are organized! ( I could also be more organized if I got to stay home all the time!)

My pantry is pretty organized these days due to the reality that anytime anything cardboard goes in, a mouse smells it from outside and moves in during the night to dig in. I currently have almost everything in see through Rubber maids and I have a pile that is awaiting more containers.

I have always been queen of the Rubber maids in the basement. These hold everything from Christmas decorations to the children's hand-me-downs. I've killed a few rolls of label maker tape on them also.

If you wondering about Julia, she decided after a pack of crackers, a ginger ale and a movie that she was fine. She then came and helped me cook. She does this to me pretty often; I'm not sure what to make of it really because she loves to go places, so I don't think she would completely fake when it means missing an event.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


 Other than an early morning soccer game, we all stayed home today. JD spent the day installing the ceiling in the downstairs bathroom and I cleaned out the storage room. It was amazing how out of control it had gotten just since putting the Christmas things away. At one point, JD had to unload a few shelves to get at the backside of the bathroom wall and that was the beginning of the snowball. We also ordered more shelves from Costco to hold more Rubbermaids; there is a noticeable increase in clothes storage containers now that I'm keeping Julia's clothes for Selah.

The kids played and helped -

 I didn't emerge from the basement until 6:30. Random children kept stopping by and asking if I had made dinner and what were we having.  (Turns out that we had an incredibly nutritious meal of chicken nuggets and onion rings once Ben discovered them digging through the freezer). Since I have some finish up work down there tomorrow, I went ahead and posted tomorrow's dinner plan to save the children from the hike down to ask me what we will be eating.

So far none of them have even read it, but I think it will be entertaining when they do.

Friday, February 1, 2013

No Time

I have had no blog time the last few days. I have done one hair appointment and three doctor appointments, however. The hair appointment was a loc specialist in "town". I have been regretting the locs I put in Julia's hair because the upkeep hasn't been as simple as I hoped. I didn't know what to expect with the stylist that I booked for a consultation, but she was as sweet as can be and she is going to charge me by the hour and see how much untangling and tightening she is able to do. What made me feel good is that she told me that Julia's locs are the best she has ever seen from a novice hairstylist
. She also told me that the going rate for sister locs like her's is $1500. (You read that right, I didn't add an extra zero!)

My doctor appointments were unplanned - two cases of bronchitis and a bad Bella hand burn from a hair straightener. it was my week off from the hike to Richmond, but I'm never free from doctors.

We are joining a new home group from church tonight that focuses on time and stress from a Biblical perspective...it could be just what he doctor ordered for me.

Since I don't like picture less posts, I'm going to see what's on my phone that I can attach.