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, July 30, 2013

Beyond Birthdays

There is so much going on around here that I often think of topics that I want to blog about, but they seldom make it to the computer. 

Here are a few random things of importance to me.
My desk-top computer died. This computer is of utmost importance because it's where all our financial matters live. I have double screens so I can pull up the bank on one and enter the items on the other. Our financial upkeep is a bit more than most with all rental properties and all the children's medical bills, so I try to update the spread sheets every few days. 

JD has had to take a break from the flooring job and spend several days replacing parts and updating software -  

My temporary station has been the lap-top at the table; it just isn't the same!

I hit the thrift store on base for the first time all summer. The lady let me bag baby items for Ethiopia for $5 a bag. I got all this in one bag! I'm hoping to take it to the free day-care that we visited before on the edge of the Korah dump slum.

We have paid reduced land taxes for the last eight years for having 20 acres in trees. We have decided that we are tired of being tick-farmers and want to grow more. We are having "tree" people come in and clear the areas we want - they pay us for the lumber and we get it cleared for free. We are planning another pasture for meat cows and then some fields for growing hay to feed the cows. I think they start in about a month. It will look so different; it's land we have barely seen. There are some pretty rolling hills and a creek behind us. 

Poor Aunt Deb - her car died while it sat in our drive-way and had to be towed off for an expensive repair. We got it and our red Escape back last night from the repair shop. JD had to work from home on Monday just so Deb could take his car to work. 

We have had some nice cool evenings, so I got out the sparklers that I bought on the 4th of July. Some friends gave us some last year and a new tradition was born. I think I'm saving the rest for our weekend beach trip next month.

Here's a closing picture of Bella, just because she's a cutie.

Oh, I forgot my new guest room - I decided to stick with the guest room over an additional child bed-room and I got a great deal on furniture on Craigslist. I'll show it tomorrow.

Monday, July 29, 2013


Alyssa has been in Africa for over six weeks and this is the first picture I have seen of her up close; I think it may have been the message I sent asking if she was sure she was there, because I couldn't find her in the group photos. She spent the last week doing Muslim ministry. She is actually flying from S. Africa to Texas right now and then will be home late Thursday night from Texas. We are ready to welcome her home - while the summer has gone fast, it seems that she has been gone a long time.

Alyssa in the middle

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Double Birthday

July 27th is always a big deal at our house since it's both Julia and Elijah's birthday. I want to post the picture of Julia holding Elijah just hours after he was born on her second birthday, but my main computer died and JD is working on it. With all that's been going on, I took a break from hair (and JD from fixing the computer) and we took the kids to the movies to see Monsters University. It is way, way less expensive at the base theater, but still a rare treat to go to the movies. It was Selah and Bella's first trip, and as we were waiting in line, Selah said, "what is this place?" Bella slept through it, but everyone else enjoyed it. We are planning on going to see Despicable Me 2 in a few weeks, but I warned everyone today that we will not be repeating the whole popcorn and soda scenario of today. We could have had pizza for dinner instead of the popcorn - what a rip-off.

Heading out to the movies - the other kids went too, these were just the batch ready when I whipped out the camera and included the birthday duo.

We were ready to go with presents when we got home from the movies. Elijah dove right in.

Julia was a bit more refined - 

We had a dinner of pigs-in-the-blankets, curly fries and watermelon before we dove on the cup-cakes. I made Julia pretty girl ones and Elijah chocolate. He decided that he wanted them to be dirt cup-cakes at the last minute, so we stopped to get oreos and gummy worms to top the cup-cakes. The store didn't have gummy worms, so we made a dirt mountain and had gummy bears, which made the little Buddy happy.

Hard to believe that my baby boy is five! He woke up (in my bed) this morning, jumped up and looked down at this legs. He them said to himself, "huh, I thought I'd look bigger since I'm five. Then he laid back down.

Julia still loves all things girlie; I love that about her. Bella agrees, eveyday I get her dressed, she says, "hey, Mom, how about a skirt?"

They were enjoying the singing moment.

They laughed when half us sang Julia then Elijah in the song while others sang Elijah and Julia. 

Right on cue, the birthday candles were blown and the cupcakes inhaled. 


We are going to have more more birthday celebration with Aunt Deb, Alyssa and another family that shares a birthday in over a week when Alyssa is home! No one minds one more round of cake!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hair, Hair and More Hair

 I often have to schedule things with myself months in advance that most people may find amusing. I have planned for months to take out Julia's locs - they are just a disaster and personally, I wouldn't recommend them for kids so young. It is, however, a time consuming project much like putting them in last summer. I waited through the wedding and Gabriel and Alayna's moving to even begin. So, the last few days we have rented  DVDs from Redbox and worked for as many hours as we both could stand. 

It's honestly not as bad as I feared, but it's still going to take me several hours a day for the next few weeks. 

I don't know how TV-free homes do African hair!

Yesterday, I was agonizing what to do about Selah and Bella's hair since they also needed to be redone. I didn't want to break entirely from Julia's, so I had the big kids take it out in two shifts of every-other-corn-row so that I could re braid it quickly. Keeping the parts made it go quickly and while I can't do that every time, it worked well this time.

Moriah captured this very glamorous picture of me, along with the messy kitchen behind me. Keeping it real...

 There is so, so much I need to be doing in the house and garden, but I'm just focusing on Julia's hair for the next few days. I did pick the garden before dinner. We had brushetta with my home-grown tomatoes and basil, purple peas and cantaloupe. I love gardening WAY more than hair-dressing!

Thankfully, I also love my goats because the kids forgot to put them back in the fence when I called them for dinner; when I looked out, they were "picking" green beans for themselves. See those cute little goats feasting? 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Goofy Goats

 The mornings that we don't have swim team are reserved for working in the garden. While weI work, we let the goats out of their fence to play. We were all out a few hours this morning when we came in to get the kid's swimsuits on. Here is where the goats were waiting when we came back out.

Leia in the booster seat -

And Hans backed himself into the shoe cabinet - 

We find the goats so much fun; personally, I enjoy them more than the dogs and cats!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Big Kid Update - including Brooke

 Yesterday was a bit rough since it was Gabriel and Alayna's last day in Virginia. California is just so far away and three years is just so long. Here's a quick picture right before they walked out the door for the airport.

 JD and I with them -

 We had some sad little people. I wouldn't think that Selah would understand, but she understood enough to cry.

Gabriel and Alayna both rank right near the top with Elijah - I'm afraid it's going to be really hard on him!

We did get news that they landed last night and began the housing hunt today; it's not going to be easy with the size dog that Harley is.

We are also down to the end of the time Alyssa is away - she should be on her final week's work in South Africa. I have heard very little from her, but it's all been super positive.

Alyssa in Ethiopia last year
After a full year of waiting for progress with Brooke's adoption, they finally leveled with me that she isn't progressing. Although it's not good news, I appreciate someone finally explaining what the problem is. The issue is that there are two paths that allow a child to be cleared for adoption in Ethiopia. One is the child is abandoned and there are police reports indicating it; the police then are the responsible party as that child progresses through the court system. The second is that the child has a relative that relinquished them to the orphanage; that relative is then required to appear in a few court sessions and an embassy appointment authorizing them to be adopted. There are also approximately two million children like Brooke - children that are stuck because they don't have a living, or willing, relative to do their paperwork, nor were they abandoned. These children are often the ones who need adoption the worse, yet they are trapped in a system that won't allow it.

Study hut at Brooke's orphanage

The difference between Bella and Brooke is that their mom was alive to appear in local and regional court for Bella's adoption. Bella was then hung up in federal court because her mother was in a coma. The judge said that she had to wake to sign the final order, or pass away and the death certificate could be used. We held on to Bella's referral (we were asked if we wanted to swap for a child without a glitch) and it was only the matter of a month or so that her Mom passed away and the judge finalized the adoption with the submission of her death certificate. At this point, Brooke still lived with her mother and only entered the orphanage after her mom's death. Now we are back at the beginning and the local and regional court will not accept the Mom's death certificate in place of a signature and there is not a single living relative to sign for her. Her packet has been in the the local court system for a full year!

coffee at the orphanage
So, we are in a bit of a difficult position. We are not going to progress like a normal adoption, but neither can we walk away from her knowing that we are her only hope for a family. Bella is her only living relative and her future in Ethiopia would be to age out of the orphanage at 15 and be on her own with no means of support.

I asked the adoption agency what they recommended that we try. They are going to check to see if she is able to represent herself in court in place of a relative, because at her age of 13, she obviously is old enough to verify that her mother passed away and that she has no other family. Our other attempt is to petition MOWA (Ministry of Women and Children) to give her an orphan packet based on the fact that we already have her biological sister.

The plan is that I will be making a trip to Ethiopia in the next few months to see what door may be opened and to just reassure her that we aren't giving up on bringing her home This adoption is going to require extra prayer!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Movers and Chickens

 Today has been on the calender for months as moving day. This last week, everything of Alayna's has been moved to our house, so that the military can move it all to San Diego. This is the Alayna pile that has accumulated in the playroom - yeah, nobody has been playing in there!

This is a packer finishing up Gabriel's room. So, now I will officially have a bare room. I told Gabriel that it was going to be my new Yoga studio; he looked at me funny since I overall dislike anything Yoga due to my balancing challenges. Eventually, someone upstairs is going to have to move downstairs, so that Elijah can separate from Selah and Bella. I was informed that we would not pass our home study update for Brooke with him in the room with them.The problem is that I don't really have anyone upstairs that I want living downstairs at this point; so for now, it's a guest room - without a bed.

From years of moving as military child, I know that packers and movers have to be closely supervised. Today, that's Gabriel's job. I'm not sure what James and Tori are doing, because I just now noticed that they were in my picture after I told them all to stay upstairs!

Of course, on top of the chaos, I got an early morning call from the Post Office that my baby guineas had arrived. I decided that I may have to give up growing melons, but that's better than anyone getting Lyme disease from all the ticks we have. 

These will grow up to be a fierce tick-fighting flock - I got 30 because I learned before that they don't allow outsiders to join their flock once they grow up.

Selah and Bella were pretty impressed with them. They are cute now, but they grow up ugly.

Our chickens that we bought from the Amish are now "teenagers" - they are free in their side of the coop, but still not big enough to go out in the fence without squeezing through.

The Momma hens are the other side are doing an amazing job of laying over a dozen eggs a day; I haven't had to buy any eggs in months and we eat a lot of eggs!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Herd Adventure

We participated in the Chick Fil A dress like a cow day event yesterday and had our $63 dinner for free. Our total this year was actually less than the last few years since we were missing several big kids.

It's funny how thrilling these events are to Selah and Bella when they really aren't sure where we are going or what we are going to do. I guess that's what faith like a child really means.

And while we headed to "town", Gabriel and Alayna made it all the way to the southern most point in America - Key West.