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, October 30, 2013

One Year Anniversary

 Today is the one year anniversary of landing in Ethiopia for Embassy to bring Selah and Bella home. Alei and Alyssa, 18 and 13, traveled with us to meet their new sisters for the first time. We landed late and slept a few hours before morning and heading out to the courtyard to get the girls. Selah, however, somehow knew something was going on and headed in to the living room to meet us. She was quite pleased to meet her sisters that she only recognized in pictures. 

After a few minutes with Selah, we headed out and found Bella. She ran as fast as her little legs could go to get to us when she saw us.

We discovered that first breakfast their love of peanut butter!

Since we had Brooke with us later that week, it is amazing to look back and realize that I had five of my daughters all together in Ethiopia that week. I never dreamed that Brooke wouldn't be home at this point!

This picture was the taken on the way to Embassy. Selah seemed very nervous and kind of shut down. We fed her the rolls that the nannies packed to help ease her nervousness. While we were all focused on Selah, Bella threw up all over Alei without any warning. I would like to say this was a one of a kind incident, but she has gotten car sick several times in America as well and thrown up with no warning.

Alei gathered a bit of a crowd as our driver attempted to clean the vomit off her skirt with a rag that was in the van. Good times! Ironically, I picked Julia up from school early today because her stomach hurt; she finally threw up this evening and is currently asleep on my couch with a big vomit bowl. October 29th 2012 - vomit in Ethiopia...Oct. 29, 2013 - vomit in America. Some people may have just had cake!

Here are some recent pictures of my happy, happy girls well settled into their lives in America. I have to say that my experience of adopting them together has been amazing. I really think the transition has been so much easier for them having a little friend, turned sister, along for the journey!

Friday, October 25, 2013

October October

It's been a tough week around here! I guess an obvious side-effect of a large family is lots of drama, but I'm considering putting up a sign in sheet and making the children request a week for their crisis like businesses do for vacation. I feel like I'm on round four for the week and I'm really only qualified for one!

In spite of the drama, life goes on. Several years ago when I was at probably the lowest point of my life, I had a wise friend tell me to "just do the next thing." While so simple, it was such good advice that I use at many times like this. When I feel like I'm in a fog, I just decide what the next thing is and focus only on that....and pray!

This week Moriah turned 16.  Alyssa took some birthday pictures of her outside.

Selah helped with the background by jumping over her several times.

She was more than happy, however, to break from long-jump practice to pose.

We had family birthday dinner and presents. She is having a party this weekend.

Some of my "do the next thing" involved making several batches of applesauce. Kind of amazing how few quart jars you really end up with from 80 pounds of apples.

Now that apples are done, we are moving on to pears. We were blessed to pick all these pears from a local tree. I am giving them two weeks to soften and then we are going to can them. Unfortunately, it's getting so cold at night that I'm going to have to make room for them to move inside to finish ripening.

The kids are super excited because we are heading to a local farm tonight with lots of attractions.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Finally Fall with a Touch of Christmas

After most of September being so hot, we are enjoying the fall feel of the last few weeks. While we have lived in this area for a decade, we attended the fall festival on the base for the first time. I don't know why we didn't go before, the kids had a blast and everyone came home with a free pumpkin. 

I think this was also Elijah's first pony ride, but definitely Selah and Bella's.

 Selah (and Julia) crack me up; I can be taking pictures in a dozen directions, but when I point to them, they are ready and smiling.

Julia and Elijah on their round.

There was a beautiful sun-set.

The kids also enjoyed the booths of games and crafts.

It has been a bit of a rough week around here, just more challenges than normal along the path of child rearing. Yesterday was a nice distraction when our big Christmas present arrived.

As some background, I asked JD the other day of what he thought about getting the kids a smaller ATV for Christmas since we now have so much cleared area that they could safely ride. I also requested that we get our current one fixed that has been sitting broken in the barn for three years. Ironically, he said that he had stopped and looked at one the day before. (Sometimes we are so on the same page...other times not as much.) Yesterday, he went to test drive it and bought it. Our conversation on the phone was when he was two miles from the house....I asked him where he was going to hide it until Christmas. He replied that it had a 30 day warranty, so we couldn't wait to run it. I then yelled to the kids inside and out that their Dad was coming up the drive-way with a Christmas present. I wish I had gotten my camera initially because there was much rejoicing. 

Moriah and Alyssa got a quick lesson and were off. James, Ben and Tori got a longer lesson and did very well driving in the field. The boys progressed to second gear but Tori has to remain in first for now. 

I also have to order several helmets.

Moriah took some pictures while I was off and riding.


Our second ATV went off to the repair shop as well, so by next weekend we should have two running.



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Last Week

 I can't believe it's been a week since I last blogged; it seems like only a few days. Last weekend I went to our annual women's retreat and hoped to download some fun pictures, but I can't because they are all up-side-down and won't turn like normal pictures. There is hope of turning them once my husband comes home tomorrow. Speaking of my wonderful husband, that played mom and dad all weekend so I could go have a weekend away; he has traveled quite a bit lately for work. Overall, I'm thankful it has been this year, rather than last year when Selah and Bella first came home, but it's still a drag. Our evenings while JD is gone is all feeding, bathing and homework - it all gets done but it takes from about 4:00 until 8:00. 

spelling pre-test
I have an issue...(I bet you've never heard this one!) I seriously buy, sell and swap couches like they are bed sheets. I can not even begin to tell you how many Craigslist couches I have purchased (for excellent deals I must add) since we moved into this house five years ago. For the last several months, I have been on the hunt for a Lazy Boy leather loveseat for the living room TO ADD to our current couch and love-seat. The problem is that I found a set at such a good deal that neither JD or I wanted to break up the love seat from the couch, so we bought both. The problem is that I let JD swap the couch in the living room for the new one and now I am pretty sure that I prefer the old one. It happens to be waiting in the trailer to be driven around the house and put in its new home downstairs, but much to JD's dismay, it may need to swapped again. So many couches and so many decisions!

In between couch deliberations, I have started making applesauce. My hands ache from peeling and I'm only about 1/4th of the way through all the apples I bought. After the apples, I have a pear connection waiting. I'm really not sure I can pull it off since I'll be back to Tori and Julia hair weekends at that point.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Picture Day and Cleared Land

Today was the first round of picture days at school; back in my day we only had one picture day per year, but now there are fall and spring picture days. I generally don't buy the pictures, but the sudden switch to cooler weather prompted me to drag out the 16 Rubber maids that were required for this year's clothes switch. The new sweaters (packed from last year's clearance sales) prompted me to stand the girls out front for my own picture. So now, picture day has been officially noted this year. Tori and Bella both also have the same sweater that Julia and Selah are wearing, but I'm guessing Tori will only wear it for required pictures and maybe when none of her sisters are wearing it.

Elijah and Bella wanted to join the photo shoot. 
Elijah has a special relationship with the bus driver. She asks him about once a week if he is going to come to school with her and he tells her no way, then they wave to each other as the bus passes each way.

I wanted to take a few pictures of the cleared land but first Bella had to put her sweater on for the trip. I guess she felt cheated in the earlier pictures. Elijah has several new hoodies for the year, but he prefers freezing to wearing a jacket.

Here is the largest cleared area. It will be prettier cleaned but we are enjoying just being able to see the topography. I have lived here eight years and had no idea that these hills existed. I kind of assumed it was all as flat as the area around our house.

The kids enjoy any chance to run around in here.

After a walk through the woods, I had to face the reality of my day - clothes, clothes and more clothes. I successfully have about 13 of the bins unpacked, put away and repacked with summer clothes. I should be able to finish in half a day tomorrow. I have gotten much more efficient at it, because it used to take me twice as many days with half as many kids. (did you follow that?)
the toughest room - Tori and Julia's
 The dining room is covered in piles labeled where they need to be repacked or who they are being given to. I already have a large pile of boys clothes to pack for a specific ministy in Ethiopia.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Recipe Organization

 I enjoy reading blogs about how to organize everything but I've never seen my recipe organization system - although I'm sure it's out there somewhere. A few years ago, my sister and I bought these recipe three ring notebooks at Costco. They came with pretty papers and stickers and we got right to work "scrap-booking" our recipes. The system works wonderfully! I have condensed three shelves of recipe books into one and can find what I actually want to try and my favorites much easier.

Now I literally dismantle cookbooks. I pull out (or copy) what I want to try and put that into a "try" folder. 

If it proves to be good enough and easy enough to keep, I then add it to the section in the notebook that is logical. Remember those old-fashioned hand-written recipes that people used to share? I wanted to keep all those in the original handwriting, so I just photo-copy the back and glue them right in. If something comes from a magazine, I just cut it out and glue it in.  The key is that I never add anything until it's something that I know I will use long-term.

Some pages are boring and some are pretty, but it's all my favorites in two binders. (The second houses breads and desserts and my extra papers.)

There are a few (very few) recipe books I am keeping intact. For those few, I'm going to make a "don't forget I exist" list with page numbers and put it in the notebook as well. It's been fun adding to it and very practical.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Over Due

While I have been writing about our trip to Ethiopia, I have missed covering several events here. For one, I missed my mom's (who was actually here helping with the kids) birthday and JD's birthday while I was in Ethiopia. We then landed on James' 13th birthday and celebrated by going straight to CiCi's for dinner. He willingly waited until the next day for his cake and presents. Something about the jet lag made me forget to take many pictures, but I do have this one, which is just enough to prove he had a birthday.

Selah turned six on October 3rd. Since we had already celebrated an extra birthday in May, it seemed to roll around rather quickly. She was most impressed with the fuss made for her.

Yesterday, friends invited us to Chuck E Cheese for their birthday, so Selah and Bella got their first introduction to what Elijah calls "the big rat." They were thrilled with the whole evening.

Selah didnt' know this little boy but it didn't stop her from joining him on the ride.
Here is the actual birthday boy, Joshua, with Elijah. Joshua and his sister, Lily, are adopted from China. We appreciate all our friends that are also internationally adopted!

I am going to work on a outside post now that the loggers are done clearing almost 20 acres. While JD is very anxious to start cleaning up the clearing mess outside, he willingly finished the wood floor trim and stairs before moving his focus outdoors.

He ended up having to tear up and rebuild the existing stairs because the over-hang that had to be removed was glued down so well that it split the stair boards when it was being pulled up.

One more major project off the building list - I'm so thankful to have it done!