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, May 29, 2013

Baby Goats

I love goats; I have always loved goats. I remember thinking as a kid that I would have goats as an adult. I had them several years ago and milked them for Tori and Julia when they first came home from Liberia. I ended up giving them up when their milk dried up because we didn't have adequate pasture; since I let them free range much of they day, they were continually using the porch as their potty, stealing groceries from the car,  standing on visitor's vehicles and other bad behaviors.  They went to a good home with fencing.

Since we have a nice, big pasture fence now, we bought two little Nigerian dwarfs -

They are only three weeks old, so will be bottle fed for another five weeks. It is so much fun to feed them and I have plenty of volunteers for the job!

The kids are running and playing with the kids -

And after a lively discussion, they have names -

Friday, May 24, 2013


On the way home from Florida, I texted a friend and told her that I didn't think that I had a very busy week and could get together one day. Once I got home and actually combined my calender at home with the calender on my phone, it couldn't have been further from reality. Now that it's Friday, it is the first morning I have been home all week (only because the girls and I skipped "muffins for mom" that was scheduled before school). This afternoon I have to take Julia to the doctor, which means I have spent all four consecutive afternoons at either a doctor or therapy appointment. My only sanity saver at this point is that I didn't put the kids in soccer, or I would be juggling soccer practices every evening on top of the crazy homework, dinner and bath routine we already have.

We have only about three weeks until Alyssa leaves for her six week mission trip to Africa. She still has about $900 to raise, so we are working hard to fund-raise as well as prepare the items she needs for travel. We did a homeschool book sale yesterday, are scheduled for a Y yard sale next Saturday and need to figure out a way to sell the rest of her items at the large homeschool convention in Richmond the beginning of June. After we get her settled and off to Africa, there is only about three more weeks until Gabriel and Alayna's wedding; needless to say, that involves some work. In between those major events, we have a Liberian reunion, some out of town guests and some intensive therapy scheduled.

I really need a clone of myself - one of me to be at home and one of me to run to all the appointments. At this point, I'd send the clone to the appointments!

We got some cool new educational toys at the used home school sale yesterday.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

We're Home

We had such a wonderful visit with Gabriel (and Alayna) in Florida; I'm very thankful I went in spite of it being a bit tough on the new girls. I remember being exactly at the six months point with Tori when I had to leave her to return to Liberia for Ben and Julia. I felt so bad, but literally had no choice. This trip was optional, so I felt more guilty leaving; but after Gabriel got orders to San Diego, I really felt it was the right thing to prioritize him.

Selah did OK once she was told to knock off the crying. She has a tendency to cry if Bella cries, until you tell her she's too big to keep crying and then she turns it off. Bella on the other hand is a bit of a basket case; she did decent during the day, but turned on the wailing at night. She was pulling things I've never had with her - like getting out of her bed after bed-time and refusing to take her medicine. In the words of one of my daughters, "she acted like a real brat, Mom". Thankfully, she doesn't pull that with me and we will work on listening to others. I guess it should have been a clue when the Sunday school teacher told me that when she asked Bella to do something, Bella would just say no.

Today was back to the grind - cooking, laundry, a trip to the elementary school and four kids to the doctor. I found this little guy at the end of the driveway to show Selah and Bella.

Selah has no fear of anything and is thrilled with everything. It makes little things fun.

When we let him go on the edge of the woods, I had to break it to Selah that she couldn't kiss him good-bye. I assured her there would be other turtles this spring.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Parting picture

Pensacola Lighthouse

Yesterday we also visited the Pensacola lighthouse; Elijah was very excited to climb it. Upon arrival, we found out it was an open staircase all the way up (Alayna and I stayed on the ground due to our dislike of heights), you were not allowed to wear open back shoes (crazy Alyssa climbed in with bare feet), and Elijah was just short of the height requirement. They let him climb as long as it was agreed that he couldn't be carried at any point. There was no one word of complaint from the little guy!

It was a good, good day!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Today in Pensacola

We had an awesome day today in Pensacola with Gabriel; Alayna flew in the day before we arrived. Here are some pictures of our day in  no particular order because I can't seem to rearrange them on the Ipad.  Elijah wore his uniform until mid-afternoon when I demanded he change because of the heat.

This is a model of the ship Gabriel is going to - the largest in the world
This aviation museum in Pensacola is really incredible.

Gabriel's graduation ceremony - the reason for the trip.

I'm so thankful we were able to bring Alyssa and Elijah; they have had a great time!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Big Brother, Little Brother

I am standing in the dark of the hotel room on my phone constructing this post, while I wait for my fair turn in the bathroom. We had an excellent 15 hour trip down; we brought Alyssa (because she isn't home for Gabriel's home coming and wedding this summer) and Elijah (because he misses his brother so). I felt very good about the care-giver line-up that I left with the children at home but did receive bad news that Selah and Bella have spent most of the evening crying for me. This is the first time I have left them overnight in the six months they have been home! I really agonized about it and felt like it was the right thing to come to FL, especially in light of Gabriel's orders to the west coast where we will not see him regularly.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, let me show you Elijah with his biggest brother that he so misses.

And here's Elijah in his early birthday present from Gabriel - a matching Navy uniform with his name on it!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Want to Blog

I really want to blog, but I just haven't had the time! I leave for Gabriel's graduation tomorrow morning at 4:00 a.m. I hope to be able to post a few quick times from Florida in the next few days. Until then, have a blessed day!

Saturday, May 11, 2013


It says a lot about where a person is in life by what they take pictures of. When my friend and I stared at the new washer and said it was beautiful, you could tell that we have a lot of kids and do a lot of laundry. I am now the proud owner of two sets of operational washers and dryers. The new set is on the right and the fixed set is on the left. We stacked them both to allow room for a shelf (that JD is going to have to build because we can't find the right size to buy) that will allow me to stack the kids baskets with their clothes that are waiting for them to fold and put away. That's right, if you are over the age of six around here, you fold and put your own clothes away.

As evidenced by the picture, I am not the type of Mom who rushes to remove the clothes from the dryer before they wrinkle!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sleeping Babies

 JD had to work up in DC this week and stayed in a hotel there. Yesterday, I packed the three little guys up and spent the night up there with him. We took the little munchkins out to eat and walked around the mall. They were super excited to watch the hotel TV and sleep in the pull out bed. This was them at 6:00 this morning when they got the early wake up call so that we could eat breakfast with Daddy before he headed back to work. 

This afternoon when I put the girls down for their usual nap, I suggested to Elijah that he lay down and rest also, since he got up so early. He assured me that he wasn't tired, but I returned very shortly later to this.

Only a true Jedi can sleep clutching a light saber.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Tough Stuff

 It's been a while since I've done a "serious" post... and after today, I really should spend about three days breathing into a bag before I put anything in print. However, since the writing helps me, here I am.

I am parenting a few kids that came with baggage. I would say that I am dealing with significant challenges with four children at the moment. (To be completely fair, one of those is a biological child; so I know all too well that some of these things aren't adoption related.) On any given day, I am overwhelmed at just the thought of helping even one of them deal with the things that their young brains aren't capable of processing. The real frustration is when the child resists the help and the struggle becomes me and the child, rather than us and the problem. I have to continually remind myself that it isn't my job to "fix" them - I am just supposed to be faithful in parenting so that God can reach their hearts.

I thought I'd show some of the tools that we are currently using. I have been watching "When Love is Not Enough" DVDs while I fold laundry. It's taking me forever to get through them, but they offer practical understanding on why kids with trauma do things that they do.

JD and I are watching Shepherding a Child's Hearts at night while we rock the girls. While the information is so, so good, the delivery often puts us to sleep since it's late and we are sleep deprived anyway. If you have never read the book, I highly recommend it.

The Boy's Passage, Man's Journey is new and we haven't started it yet, but we are big Kirk Cameron fans. He is putting out some wonderful family materials these days.

I am super excited about this! It is the "at home therapy" kit by the National Center of Biblical Parenting. Our church just hosted a conference by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller and it was the best parenting event I have ever attended. Scott also has adopted children, so it was so nice to hear someone that had that as a reference point. We came away with this kit that has 8 CDs and booklets to work through. I listened to CD number two yesterday and it was very powerful.

Here is the other pile of books we purchased at the same event. We are going to attend a Sunday night group using The Christian Parenting Handbook; the rest is in the "to be read" pile. The Family Time Activities my kids are going to love. It has hands on projects to accompany a Bible story. Some are along the lines of science experiments; I can see it making some valuable and fun family memories.

This picture was taken of Julia yesterday when I picked her up from school early so she could hang out with our visiting friends. She is doing so well in school, yet she told me today that she wants to stay home with me. I told her that she will in a year or so. That challenges me to work hard to get her past some of the difficulies she seems to have at home, but not at school.

Beyond all the parenting and therapy guides, I am also trying Essential Oils on my kids for their "troubled" areas. I will be quick to post when I see any results in any areas. I'm also going to check what they recommend for stressed Moms!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Manure and Washers

 This is our weekend that was slotted for manure, lime and grass seed to go down in the new field we just fenced. JD finished up hauling in six double-loads of aged horse manure this morning. The piles looked so big in the trailer and so small on the ground.

Pile number two and three - Now if you don't know anything about aged manure, it looks and smells just like dirt; you would have no idea that any poop was involved. Isn't God brilliant turning animal poop into a commodity that you can actually sell?

You know your ground covering is ugly when it's appearance is actually improved by just spreading manure. I am so praying that we grow actual grass! JD is spreading the good dirt from the fire and the manure. Then he is tilling the entire area tomorrow. I then will take over with the lime and grass-seeding since he heads out on travel.

 This was my view from the deck - you would have thought that some fairies landed in the backyard. I love it when they play sweet little games...even when they involve large amounts of fruit from the kitchen. (You can tell that fruit is the only thing they are allowed to get and eat without asking!)

My washer story is that we have two sets of washers and dryers. The first washer actually went out right before our second trip to Ethiopia. It has been a pain living with one, but we have been busy enough that we haven't prioritized fixing it. JD actually ordered the part that he thought it needed and put in in the other day and it still doesn't work. At that point, he decided it is too old to put more money into and we are going to need to replace it. It isn't as easy as it sounds though, because it's a stacking unit and we only want to replace the washer, so it has to fit.

So, yesterday my second washer went out. That wouldn't be so bad except that it's going to take days to get parts and JD leaves for travel on Monday. It also wouldn't be so bad if I had just sort of caught up on the laundry, but it was at a pretty bad level when this happened - like I was washing because I had no pants and Elijah had no underwear.

I actually went online and looked where the nearest laundrymat is - 30 miles away! Tomorrow after church, we are going hunting for a replacement that will stack on the current dryer. And I'm going to ensure we order the part for the second one. The washing machine and dish-washers are not things I take for granted!!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Beautiful Weather

 The weather has been absolutely perfect and I can hardly stand to be in the house. My laundry is a direct reflection of how much time I have spent outside the last few days.

Today I picked up 24 Snapdragon plants from a fundraiser at the girl's school that I had forgotten I had ordered; so Tori, Julia and I crammed them in the front flower bed when they got home from school. It should be a very full, pretty bed this summer as long as Lincoln doesn't lay in it as he has in years past.

After planting, the girls watered everything in the front for me.

I can't believe how big the plants have gotten around the front of the house; they were all little donated plants from my friend's house.

I think this is the first year that I am going to stop weeding between the patio stones. I think we will just start weed-eating it instead - the weeds are winning.

Beyond the front, I have weeded the raised garden beds and are ready to plant. JD also made the first aged horse manure run to till into the field to help us grow grass. He has a few more to do tomorrow and we plan on tilling and planting on Saturday.

Oh, and Kenny and the boys should finish chalking the fireplace and chimney tomorrow; then I'll show a "real" picture of it.