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.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Never a Dull Minute

 Thankfully this is the first week in four weeks that JD hasn't had to travel for work. It was good timing for him to be home, since Fed Ex gave us 10 minutes notice that they were delivering replacement solar panels for the ones that mysteriously burst on the roof. I don't think I blogged that day, but it rained down glass in the backyard like some kind of hideous plague. 

JD rushed to get home, get gas for the tractor and install the fork lift; but by that time, the Fed Ex driver had attempted to pull off the edge of the little road next to us and was thoroughly stuck. Alyssa and I were supposed to head "to town" but we are patiently waiting while the driver and JD "unstick" the truck. So far, they have been working on it for close to an hour. 

I'm wondering when "call a tow truck" will become the new plan.  

This is at least the third time we have had trucks stuck delivering things to our remote address. JD successfully helped all the others, but this guy pulled into a virtual swamp even before all the snow we have gotten.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Last Birthday of the Month

We concluded the January birthdays with Bella's 4th birthday yesterday. She was super, super excited! Once we all dig ourselves out of the snow, we will still do a little combo birthday party or activity for Tori and Bella. 


 Bella wanted to wear a dress for her birthday dinner and she was pretty thrilled with the pinkest cupcakes we could make. Amazing that she is four already.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Snow...and the Boys

Please go away snow! At this point the kids haven't gone to school in a week and every day they are home, we lose a vacation day later when we need them. It seems most of my snow days have been when JD is out of town and I go days with just me and the kids in the house. I've gotten some things done and tried several new recipes, but I'm done. 

Prepping the troops for more snow play!
I really enjoyed the weather just the other day when Alyssa took these pictures of the boys outside. Honestly, I am thankful for the cold weather that has motivated us to finish the basment, but I'm really looking forward to spring!

Here's some shots of the boys that Alyssa took -

Elijah - 5.5

James - 13

Ben - 12.5

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

MLK and Tori Day

 Tori got off from school for her 9th birthday this year since it fell on MLK day. It was a beautiful day before the snow hit, so we started the day off with her and I making home-made blue-berry muffins and smoothies.

After lunch I took the kids to the playground at the Y. While most kids have sidewalks and paved roads to play on and have to visit farms, mine live at the farm and we have to drive to play on pavement. The Y playground is perfect because there is rarely many people there and there are lots of sidewalks and empty pavement for scooter and rip-stick riding.

 Once evening came, we made Tori's requested dinner of strombolis and ice-cream cake. Aunt Deb came to join us and Tori got to open her presents. She had requested the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books...hope they are ok since I bought six!

 If you ever wonder where the big kids are...they are here. They just do this when I turn the camera on them -

Stinky girls
 Group action shot. (If Deb is in the house, Bella is hanging on her!)

The day after Tori's birthday was Alayna's and tomorrow is Bella's. It's a busy birthday week in our family!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Horse Time

 Years ago, my oldest four children took some riding lessons. It ended when Alei got thrown from a horse and suffered a serious back injury. Lately, Moriah has gotten back into riding and this weekend we got to have some fun at the stables and watch her ride. Her favorite horse's name is Dan; he is a sweetie.        

The kids all got a little time to learn about horses and pet Dan.

The weather was chilly but bearable and I love to let them run their energy out whenever possible. 
 We were a bit cold down by the water, but the view is gorgeous. Aunt Deb and Alyssa were at a youth retreat this weekend, but we had some nice moments with our oldest two daughters.       

Friday, January 17, 2014

Pack Them In

 We have a new Friday routine that is a bit more demanding than the rest of the school week. I moved Alyssa to a Classical Conversation group "in town"; we are able to get her there on time as long as we leave directly from the bus stop in the mornings. Normally I have to take the van to fit everyone in, but since JD was working from home today, I left James and Ben to start their school work. Since I don't drive the beast of the van unless I have to - I told the kids to get in the Ford Escape. While I knew we were short on seats (the bus stop is only at the end of our driveway), Alyssa was also going directly from school on a retreat and had a few bags. Since there is no buffer of time when the bus is coming and I definitely did NOT have time to repack in a different vehicle - I packed them in quickly and only took time for these pictures once we were at the bus stop. 

Front seat -  

Middle seat - complete with Bella's car seat jammed in to install.

 Hatch back - they thought it was a fun start to the day to sit on the Dr. Peppers and cat litter. I did remove them from the "trunk" before the bus rounded the corner.

blurry phone picture
By the way, I don't normally buy Dr. Pepper by the trunk load but I'm preparing for a party.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Black Ninja and His Sisters

I want to show you a very poor quality picture of one of the good photos I got taken this evening at the mall with the youngest five kiddos. 


My point in showing it is so you can visualize the children I had with me - four  little African daughters and one little home-grown  son. We had the nicest photographer, an African American who was from New York - he said one of his parents was from England and the other from Jamaica. Since I had an adoption t-shirt on, the first thing he asked when he walked over to us was if we adopted them all at the same time. I then told him that the four girls were three separate adoptions from two different countries. He was interested in a few details. Upon leading our group back to take pictures, he asked if I'd prefer the black or white back-ground. Elijah piped up right away and said, "let's go with white, it's more American." Since I knew he was referring to red, white and blue being America's colors, it really didn't dawn on me until later how badly that could have been taken. Only minutes later, Elijah said, "I'd rather have the black screen - I am more black that white." At that, the photographer lowered his camera, tried to not laugh and asked, "how's that?" Elijah immediately struck a karate pose and said, "because I'm a black ninja!" (He did wear a black ninja costume just this morning.) I have to say, not one time during the white and black comments, did Elijah ever consider any reference to skin color.

 I think we brightened the photographer's night a little - and we got some good New Year pictures!

Plugging On

 While I don't love winter, I am appreciating all we are getting done inside. Every year, the minute it turns warm, our focus is shifted outside and the inside projects sit until the severe heat of the summer or the next winter. I really think 2014 is our year to "finish" the house - there will always be projects, but at least the major building is looking hopeful. JD finished the front half of the game room and spent yesterday clearing and prepping the back for the ceiling. 

Here's a little project I finished up - streamlining the kid's DVDs and videos. This messy shelf (that is now Alyssa's Amazon bookstore shelf) was packed with the kid's DVDs and videos, in addition to the cabinet under the TV. 

I got rid of all the VHS tapes except the ones below. They are the Disney ones that we can't part with for now, as well as the Nest Entertainment history ones that are super expensive on DVD. I did replace the Nest Entertainment Bible ones last year when I found the whole set at a used home school sale for a good price.This is still about half of what was crammed in here.

As for the DVDs, we trashed the boxes and put them in envelopes with a portion of the cover and filed them by title. Two little boxes - I love efficiency. My next project is JD's collection; I'm thinking two whole cabinets are also going to fit in two boxes.

 I have had to break from all things fun and organizational for hair weekend. I did Julia's on Friday night and Saturday morning, Selah's Saturday afternoon and I am moving on to Tori's this Sunday afternoon.

I pay Ben to take out Tori's and I pay Tori or Julia to take out Selah and Bella's; but so far, no one can get through an entire Julia take out. 

Here's my bargain of the semester - Alei's math book. It is a published by Liberty book, therefore no used or rental copies available, and was $195. When it came yesterday, we found out it's paperback! I would think Liberty could use a text for Math 115 that didn't require them to print a special one. Thankfully, this is Alei's final class before she hits the 300 and 400 classes for her specific major.

 At the beginning of the week, I declared a family healthy diet. So we have been drinking a lot of spinach and berry smoothies. I make the first in the Vitamix and stage the next rounds in a bowl so I can mix, dump and repeat until everyone has one. My three little people don't like berries - crazy kids; I'm going to attempt some yogurt, banana and coconut oil combinations so see what they will enjoy.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I Don't Know...

 I'm not really sure how you Northern people do this weather....by Northern, I mean up in Michigan and Canada. This is terribly cold! Julia and I headed out to the barn right before dark to lock up the animals. I told her that this feels like Canada and she was horrified at the thought of anyone living with this as normal winter weather. I agree - I don't remember 5 degrees in Virginia EVER. I also don't remember everything shutting down due to cold when there is no ice or snow. 

Tonight Julia came out of the shower wearing the below short-sleeved purple night-gown. I told her that it was going to be too cold during the night and to put pants on under it. She came out with this warm and fashionable ensemble - even the socks have their own pattern. (Works for me!)

 I am so, so thankful that JD finished the wood stove project last winter! I had the boys load up the wood rack again before bed. I figured out that there's far less cold coming in if they just roll the wagon in instead of carrying loads from the door. The wood is messy, but it's a cozy messy.

JD wrapped up the front half of the ceiling in the game room. It required foil and insulation before the ceiling tiles. The back half will be faster since it's only tiles that aren't complete. The most difficult part of this process currently is shuffling the stuff.

I have two walls to paint, but we have to move large carpet rolls on pallets to get to the one. We are going to keep enough to carpet the last bedroom in the basement and the playroom and the rest of it is going to be sold.