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.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Call From Africa

 Alyssa left exactly two weeks ago for Africa. Yesterday, I received the first call from her since she left the country. The connection was poor and she stated right up front that she only had 2 minutes to talk. Since I was driving on 95 with two kids, the first 15 seconds was spent with Julia whining, "I want to talk to Alyssa; I want a turn" and me frantically shaking my head no. I then pulled way off the road and got out of the car, only to discover that the trucks speeding by were actually louder than Julia. Thankfully, once I got back in the car, Julia was quiet. I was able to get that Alyssa has stayed healthy and is remembering to take her malaria medicine; she said that she didn't want to leave the kids in Zambia and there was an 11 year old girl, named Sarah, that she wanted to bring home. I reminded her that adoption isn't an option in Zambia. Not much more was said before the phone cut out. I'm hoping to hear from her when she is at the airport moving to South Africa.

The cats are hanging out higher these days to avoid Alayna's dog, Harley.
We are working hard at wedding projects. I can't believe how difficult is has been to find the little girl's flower girl dresses and shoes. We finally scored dresses yesterday, but are going to have to go with white sandals since white Mary Jane shoes seemed to have disappeared from all stores. Our "ring-bear" suits came in, but Macy's ordered the blue and yellow instead of the blue and purple, so now we have to go on a purple tie hunt.

Gabriel is on his way home, he spent last night in Atlanta and should arrive this afternoon. We have some excited kids!

I'm thinking the goats are supposed to be off their bottles, but they aren't happy with that idea.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gardens and Swimming

 I don't know why I didn't consider it before, but I spent the last few evenings laying down recycled soot fencing and mulch in my garden walkways. In years past, we mowed and weed-whacked through there until the cantaloupe and watermelon start growing in the walkways; then the grass would grow so high, I would literally lose the melons in the high grass. This year my beds are so full, because so many extra plants volunteered, that I realized I needed to get rid of the grass between the beds to keep it all under control. I think this is going to make it much easier. I am anxious to add more garden beds next year; I currently have four, but would like about eight to ten.

We did our first green bean picking. It was actually the first year I grew them and am amazed out how many beans those plants can grow. I picked five large bowls and left the smaller beans for another picking in about a week. The kids weren't too enthusiastic about snapping the ends until I announced that there would be no activities that involved a screen until all the beans were done. They really picked up speed once they realized that I wasn't going to take over the task. I blanched and froze most of them; I plan on canning a later picking.

Just for humors sake.... We had a swim meet tonight. It went incredibly late due to a thunderstorm that delayed us for about an hour. I brought the three youngest home once the storm hit, then returned for Tori and Julia at 9:30. When I found Julia, she told me that she didn't swim the back-stroke. Since she took first in it last week, I asked her why. She told me that she was scared. I asked her why she would be scared since she is very good at it. She said, "I had to pee really bad, and since we are not allowed to pee in the pool, I was scared that I couldn't hold it all the way to the other side of the pool."

I think if she had elaborated on her fear, the coaches would have allowed her a bathroom break before the event. I hope we don't end up losing by only a few points!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Amish Trip

When Elijah woke up this morning, I told him that I was heading to the Amish and asked if he would like to go. At first he said, "only if you are going to the swing-set maker". I told him that I wasn't, but I was going to the flee-market to get baby chicks. He said them, "I'll go! I only like to go if you go to the swing-set maker, buy candy or get baby chicks."  He then told me that he wanted his own baby chick and he will keep it in his cubby by the front door.  

Six kids and I headed out as early as we could this morning while JD remained home to work on the screened in porch ceiling. We purchased 20 new baby chicks. We bought the last couple of silkies and polish, then some Leghorns and cool black ones (that I can't remember the name of) that lay black eggs. Selah has been anxiously awaiting her own baby chick for the last few months.

Monkey see - monkey do; the big monkey should know the likelyhood of being pooped on, but they both lucked out this time.

When we took the babies out to put them in the baby cage, we saw nasty grubs in the chicken food that was given to us with the chickens last week. We started scooping them out and giving them to the chickens.

The chickens gobble them the minute they see them move. Check out that goofy looking white Polish chicken - isn't he a show stopper? He can barely see past the feathers in his eyes and walks like a drunk.

While we were in Amish country, we hit the farmers market. I'm thinking grilled zuchinni tonight.

Ben informed me that there were apples growing on the pear tree and nuts on the peach tree. Upon further investigation, they are actually pears and peaches - surprise!

baby pears

Elijah would like to show you his father's new toy. Yes, we bought a humongous back-hoe. The plan is that we clear a few acres and complete a few other projects; then we will sell it to recoop our money....(that's at least the plan JD sold me on).

Friday, June 21, 2013

Liberian Reunion

We have a special bond with the families that we were in Liberia with in 2006 and 2007; it's funny how really short the time was with them, how many years ago it was and how far away they live, YET it's just like family when we meet again. Something about Liberia....

We had our annual Liberian reunion yesterday - we hope to be able to plan ahead better next year and have more friends there. 

 Here are Julia and her friend, Gabriel, back in 2007 in Liberia, when they were both about one year old.

Here they were yesterday at the age of seven - Gabriel didn't even try to put his hand is Julia's mouth this year!

This is Julia with her biological cousin, Benetta. The day in Liberia that we met all the families was very overwhelming and neither of our families got exactly what parents were siblings, but we are just sticking with the fact that we were told they were cousins. This is the first time they have seen each other, since babies, and they had a great time together.

It's really cool to hang out with families that are "made in America with Liberian parts" just like ours.

We don't currently have families that we see on a regular basis with little Ethiopians; I'm going to have to work on that!

When it's my turn to host, it will have to be an African reunion, not just Liberian or Ethiopian!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Just as I predicted, once I got Alyssa ready for Africa, the wedding would take my "extra" time. Things are moving along nicely, considering we only had a few months for wedding planning. I am hoping to find a dress for myself this weekend, as well as Selah and Bella's flower girl dresses and Elijah's ring-bearer suit. That will be another major accomplishment off the list!

In between wedding planning and swim team, we hang out with the goats in the field and the plants in the garden -
Hans and Elijah engrossed in conversation.

We had Kenny return to put wire under the fence corners to help keep the goats in and Alayna's dog out. The kids were happy to hang out with him for a few hours.

We were recently blessed with seven chickens from a family at church; so far, they aren't laying, but I hope they will after the shock of their move subsides. We have not had one available Saturday morning to head over to the Amish for baby chicks all spring. I think we can pull it off this week! I desperately need wheat from the Amish grocery as well, so it will be a full morning hitting the "flee market" and grocery store.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Photo Back-up

JD looks a little tired; it may because we were up to midnight after home-group booking Gabriel and Alayna's honey-moon trip and then he had to get up at 4:00 for the airport with Alyssa. This picture was taken at 4:30 a.m.

Moriah went to the airport with JD. Here is our last shot of her before she boarded the plane for Texas. We have already gotten a call that she has arrived safe and sound. Now she is undergoing intensive training before the team leaves for Africa.

If you read my previous blog, you will understand when I am showing this picture of Gabriel (right) and Troy (middle) before he boarded the plane for Montana this morning.

I am a thankful, thankful Momma and I spent the morning celebrating my cleaning the food stall of the barn, bottle feeding the baby goats, lice dusting new chickens that we got yesterday, clipping chicken wings and mowing a bit of grass.

Tonight, we are taking the kids to a play, so that will be fun!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Two Planes on Saturday

As I have mentioned before, my almost 14 year old daughter, Alyssa, leaves for her mission trip to Africa on Saturday. I have had many ask how I feel about letting my daughter head to Africa alone. Well, thankfully, she isn't truly alone - she is going with Global Expeditions, which is the mission branch of Teen Mania. They are highly organized and have well trained leaders. Her leaders to Zambia have led around 25 trips; so, while the trip costs more than some, we know that she is in good hands. While I know there's going to be some crying on Saturday, I am happy to see her goals be so close to my own!

Alyssa and friend, Jordan

There is going to be a second plane in the air that day that also has our attention. While Gabriel has been in Florida, he has befriended a young man that grew up in foster care. He is currently being processed out of the Navy and literally has no family to return to. The moment Gabriel told me about him, I felt the burden of making sure he had someone in the world that would help him navigate through his early adult years. Since he is younger than my two oldest children, it sickened me to imagine them in his shoes. This young man has attended church with Gabriel during his time in Florida, but Gabriel has warned us that he doesn't always make the wisest decisions. We decided when we went to Florida to meet him; he was very pleasant, respectful and a likable guy. We have spent the last few months researching options for him that could be back-up plans while he pursued a job in the oil fields of Texas. Just a few days ago, he found out that the Texas opportunity was not a possibility, and our unconfirmed back-up plans became an urgent need. Without something coming through, he would be handed a bus ticket to return to the city he was raised and exit the  bus with no family, little money and no plans. While we considered ourselves as an option, we went back to the best opportunity that we had imagined for him which was with my farming family in Montana. They are able to model Christianity as well as show an example of a family that loves and supports each other. They always have work to do, as well as available, affordable housing and extra vehicles. After only two days, they have agreed to let this young man come and "join" the family - ironically, he already conveniently shares my maiden name! Yesterday, they rented a little one-bedroom house in town for him and yesterday JD and I bought him a one-way ticket for Big Sky country. I am just overwhelmed with gratitude in watching God reach out to him through way of Gabriel; my prayer for him is that he is able to understand how much the Lord of the universe loves him to arrange all this just for him. 

I have to say if you have never read Crazy Love by Francis Chan or Radical by David Platt, pick one of them up. It just shows how we need to be willing to lay aside convenience and comforts to reach out to others. True joy is never found in collecting stuff in this life, it's about impacting others eternally. If we as Christians will all do our small part, we could radically alter life on our planet! I'm excited to see what God has in store for this one, young man!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Growing, Growing

The garden, grass and baby goats are growing before our eyes. This is the first year I have planted green beans. One large package of seeds from the hardware store has yielded this bed -  three rows, each 20 feet long.

The other plants are growing well also, although I planted several of them later than I hoped to. I have some volunteer corn and tomatoes that I left where they wanted to grow.

The dog is Harley, Alayna's dog.

I am very thankful that the grass in the field is growing. We are planning on a dairy cow next spring.

Speaking of growing, Alyssa leaves for her mission trip to Zambia and South Africa this Saturday. She is actually heading to Texas first for training and then boards a plane, bound for Africa with her team, next week on her 14th birthday. We had her friend over the other night for an early birthday and farewell dinner. While it brings tears to my eyes, I am so proud of how hard she has worked to have the opportunity to serve the orphans this summer!

Cheesecake was her requested birhtday cake.

Today is Moriah, Tori and Julia's last full day of school. We are still going strong with James and Ben's classes, however, since they had a few weeks off to help build the fence. We've had a lot of rainy days that has allowed for indoor fun, like creating large play-dough nests of birds.

Selah and James
When it isn't raining, we enjoy our time outside. Unfortunately, the ticks have been exceptionally bad this year - too the point I may have to consider giving up growing melons so that we can have a flock of guinea hens to roam and eat the ticks. This morning, Elijah headed into the bathroom and I heard him yell, "seriously? are you kidding me?" He then hung his head out the door and yelled, "Mom, I have a tick on my BUTT." He was not impressed! (We have discouraged the use of the word butt, but it hasn't worked so well the last several years with several teens in the house).

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Book Sale

 Alyssa and I decided to sell our books at the large home school convention in Richmond this weekend. Alyssa's are the remainder that were donated for her mission trip (that is barely a week away) and mine are home school curriculum that I have decided is not worth saving for years in the event that I may use it. The tough part was that each book had to be listed individually online and then have two book tags taped on. Alyssa was smart and printed each set of tags after each box of books and kept them together.  Not me...I just listed them all and printed them all and then had to match them all.

 I ended up spreading mine all over the place last night after the kids were in bed. The big kids and I then worked for several hours to match them all up. We didn't dare do to bed and leave them for the little munchkins in the morning!

We did Alyssa's books today, but it was much smoother box by box. In the end, Alyssa and I EACH had about 10 banker boxes full of books. The Escape is loaded and Aunt Deb is taking them tomorrow when she heads up to work at a missions table. I am then trying to decide if I'm going to go on Friday or Saturday to shop.

I think we have decided to try Abeka online streaming for James and Ben next year; it would be nice to make enough to pay that bill.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013


We have two major events approaching. The first is that Alyssa leaves for her Africa trip in only 13 days. She will fly to Texas for training with Global Expeditions and then heads to Zambia on her 14th birthday. She is serving in Zambia for three weeks and then South Africa for another three weeks. The amazing thing is that she is fully funded! She has raised over $5,700; we are proud of her determination.

The next is Gabriel and Alayna's wedding on July 7th. Alayna actually just arrived from Memphis last night and is staying with us until the wedding (remember, Gabriel does not live here - he's in Florida). We have a lot of work to do in the wedding department.

Other than that, we have 100 smaller things going on. JD is working on finishing up the screened in porch floor. Last week he lowered a huge beam off the deck. At one point when it started to slip, he grabbed on to it and a huge "splinter" went into his hand. He headed to Urgent Care and after sitting an hour, they sent him to the ER. After sitting there a few hours, they referred him to a hand surgeon the next day. Once he saw the hand surgeon, they had him scheduled for surgery. Once the "splinter" was out, we saw why - it was over an inch long and pretty thick. 

Swim team started last week for the year, but we only made it to one of the four practices due to scheduling conflicts. Alyssa is practicing only these first few weeks, but we have added Selah as a swimmer this year, bringing our official swimming total to seven.

We are really enjoying the baby goats. They get a bottle at 8:00, 2:00 and 8:00 again, so two of the three feedings are generally with children in pajamas.

When we removed the double-wide trailer that we lived in while we built our current house, we were left with these cement footers. We decided to make them into a goat mountain and these little guys love it.

Other than the goat mountain, the kids enjoy the picnic table.

When time allows, I'm working in the garden. I was hoping to weed the last bed and plant the last tomatoes tonight, but it's raining. Since JD is heading out of town some this week,  we hope to open our little pool when he gets back next weekend. Never a dull minute, never!