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, February 27, 2014

Lunch, Books, T-shirts and Bracelets

This is Alyssa (r) and her friend Jordan. While Alyssa heads to Nepal and India this summer, Jordan is going to England and Ireland with the same mission organization. To help the girls raise funds, we have been running a snack/lunch bar each Sunday at the closing of church. It has been a lot of work (since we cook for an average of 60 each Sunday), but it has been a great supplement for the girl's fund-raising. 

We divvy up who cooks what on Saturday and then we set up the serving line on Sundays.

Honestly, I think we would keep going until the girls leave in June if we were able, but our church has several mission groups heading out this summer, so we have to close our shop the next week or two and hand it over to the Haiti fund-raising team.

Let's not forget the supportive siblings that eat and play their DSIs each Sunday!
Alyssa has also been running a very successful Amazon bookstore for over a year now, with all the proceeds going to her trip. It has been her #1 money maker for sure. She is adding to it almost daily and here is the link if you would like to view her current inventory -

Books for Missions 

She also has two other fundraisers going. One is these darling bracelets hand-made in the Philippines. They cost $2 with $1 going to support the families making them and the other $1 supporting Alyssa. If you interested in buying any, I will pay the postage - it will not come from Alyssa's profits. (You can email jenandkids@va.metrocast.net)


Here is her new fundraiser - these t-shirts. They are available in youth M, L, XL and adult S, M, L and XL. They are $15 (with $5 going to her as profit in the beginning, but the profit margin increases the more we sell!) I am going to offer the same deal to any blog readers that would like one - I will personally pay the shipping. 

I have to admit, I was less than super enthused last summer when Alyssa asked to go on the first mission trip and I found out the cost was $5,000. I told her it would be difficult to do fund-raising on top of our own adoptions. This year has been no different - other than this trip is $6,000 (three airline tickets!). She has worked very hard and she has currently raised half the money needed. 

Thank you for any support. Email me at jenandkids@va.metrocast.net if you would like to order the above items.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Valentine Circuit

 Since we have spent half the winter on snow break, the girls' Valentine parties were delayed until President's Day. Elijah attended the parties with me. The first party was in Tori's classroom. We were a bit early and Elijah and I were waiting in the hallway. When the classes got out, two boys headed straight for us and asked us a ton of questions. Here is part of our conversation:
Boy #1 - "Did you bring us candy?"
Boy #2 - "Whose Mom are you?"
I replied that I was Tori's mom. 
Boy #2 - "Then I'm trying to figure out how come you are white?
I replied that I adopted Tori."
Boy #1 - "My Dad threatens to put me in an orphanage when I'm bad.
I blessed him with the news that there really aren't orphanages in America."
Boy #1 - "I'm going to tell my Dad that!"
Boy #2 - "So, did you adopt Tori from England?"
I then gave a brief summary of Africa but they just stared at me baffled. Then we were saved by Tori finding us and leading us in.

Elijah waiting to enter
 Here is Tori with her sweet teacher; her son is also our swim coach. The cool thing is that she spent a few years living in Liberia as a child, as a daughter of a Marine guarding the embassy. 

Tori scored in the candy department. I remember just paper Valentines when I was a kid.
 Our second party was Selah's K class. Selah was pretty thrilled with the ice cream sundaes they had. Selah is blessed with the teacher that we adored when Julia had her in K.

Julia's party was the last scheduled one and I was pretty happy that there were fruit and veggie trays. It was perfect after two parties of sweets. Since we were ending the day in Julia's room, I asked her if she would like me to check her out and she could ride home with me. She told me that she would rather stay; she didn't want to miss the last five minutes!

Here's Julia with her teacher, who was Tori's teacher last year. 

After only homeschooling for 18 years, I can't say enough good about the teachers that my girls have had the last two years; they have been a blessing to our family.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Alyssa's Trip to India and Nepal

Friends and Family,
     Just so you know, this post is not by Jenny, it's by her daughter, Alyssa. 

I did a special post last year while I was raising money for my mission trip to Zambia and South Africa. I'd like to do the same this year, not just to raise financial support, but prayer support as well. I wouldn't have made it this far without prayer and I'm very thankful for it. 
     While I was gone last summer, I experienced something so extraordinary words cannot describe how it changed me. You really never know how much God loves us until you see the miracles that millions overlook everyday. Or how much we CAN love, when we're loving not only on our behalf, but God's. I came back with a new favorite phrase "Love as if your love is unlimited, and you'll find that it is." I still remind myself of that fact daily. This world is in need of a lot more love, which is what I hope to do this summer in Nepal and India. I want to love on the curious children, the struggling adults, the so-called "dirty" lepers, the millions who have never heard Jesus' name and the "tainted" sex-trafficked girls. Please help support me in my quest to do so. 
      On my mission trip last summer, I knew God was calling me to go to India and Nepal. I really didn't want to though; I wanted to go back to Africa; Africa is so dear to my family, and seems so familiar to me. It's funny how God works, he wanted something completely different for me. Something so much more perfect in his mind. When I  agreed to go, I knew I had made the right choice. I already felt my love and joy for the countries grow, and I know now what he has planned for me this summer is going to be unlike anything I've ever seen. I know that God is going to use me to impact Nepal and India for the better. In Nepal, I'll have the opportunity to put everything I have with me on my back, and hike off the trail, up into a village that has never had the privilege of hearing Jesus' name. I'll be able to share with them the gospel that they've never heard before, and they'll be able to hear a story that will change their lives forever. Also in Nepal, I'll be going to rehabilitation centers and telling girls who feel as if their worth has been stripped from them, that there is someone who thinks of them as clean and whole. During my trip, I'll be able to share with hundreds of orphans that there is a heavenly father who loves them. I'm excited to tell people who are scared, that there is a God who can take away all of our fears. I'll be a part of a drama in both countries, that reassures people of God's love for them. Lastly, in India, I'll be going out of the cities into leper colonies. Places so filthy that it is not safe to live there. These people are told that they're unclean and unloved even by family members. I have the opportunity to share that what people say about them does not matter because there is a God who believes in them, who loves them. I'll have many chances this summer to share my faith, my God, and my testimony. Please help me get there. I'm supposed to leave June 18th, my 15th birthday; I consider it the best birthday present ever! At this point, I need approximately $4,000 more dollars. Will you help support the cause God has called me to do? Every $300 donated within the next week, Global Expeditions - the organization I am partnering with, will donate $100 extra to help get me to Asia. So, now is the best time to donate more than ever. No amount is too small, every dollar helps! You can donate online at globalexpeditions.com/donate using my missionary ID 2683113. Otherwise, I can provide the address to send a check to or a donation can be sent directly to me. I'd be so appreciative for anything given, prayers or donations. Thank you so much! 
God bless,

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Organizing like a Crazy Woman

I tell you what I think is awesome - a weekend that I don't have to do hair (because I did it on snow days), so I could actually accomplish some much needed organizing around the house. Saturday morning I finished the basement book shelves - yes, we have even more books in the basement! I also filled another Rubbermaid for Alyssa to sell in her Amazon store; I'm fairly sure my books breed at night. This only leaves the school room shelves to touch up and I can declare the bookshelves super organized!
After lunch, I announced to Tori that the next project was a good deep clean of her and Julia's room. Bless their heart, they had "cleaned" it themselves just the day before. Honestly, this is the first time is about six months that I had helped clean, but every now and then it just needs a Momma's touch to get it really clean.

Tori ready for action

Tori's quote was, "what's wrong with it?" Well, Victoria, this was your dresser -

and this was Julia's -

We moved a second shelf out of storage and I did what has worked pretty well in the boy's room - a shelf for each of them. The idea is that you keep your junk, I mean stuff on your shelf and keep it neat. When it overflows to other surfaces, we purge. (For the record, it's worked great for Ben, but James needs the Momma's touch on his shelves and his dresser!)

 After we were done, Tori's dresser was much improved and you can see Julia's super cleared dresser in the mirror.

 Today I moved on to the three little guys' room. It's hopefully not going to be much longer that Elijah is sharing a room with Selah and Bella, but it is working for now. I moved the organizing rack out of storage for Selah and Bella's stuff and Elijah has two rolling drawers under the bunk bed.We also relocated a boat load of Rescue Heroes to the play room; I think they will be very happy residing next to Barbie and her dream house.

Bed sheets were in the wash
My next room is the play room, which is going to require rearranging some storage options, while JD continues making progress in the basement finishing.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


 A few nights back, JD and I tucked the kids into bed and were watching the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye when the electricity went out. 

Selah often doesn't make it through family prayer time
Elijah pushes himself to stay awake for his turn to pray and then is out
 As some background, we have lived in this location for nine years and the electricity has only gone out twice (for more than a few hours.) There is many, many times that my friends that live in my old neighborhood don't have power for days and we are only out for a few hours. The risk, however, is that when we lose power, we lose water since we have a well. There have been several hurricanes that we have filled clean garbage cans for animal water and have been very prepared. Most of the time, if it storming, we fill our bathtubs so that we will have toilet flushing water. (Any time in Africa will help you learn to flush a toilet with the least water possible.)

Well, this snowfall we filled two tubs and didn't do much else. I didn't even run out for water or milk - the shelves are always cleaned off at the stores anyway and the most we are ever really snowed in is about two days!

The lights went out really at the beginning of the snow. By morning, we had about another foot of snow on top of the few inches that was already on the ground. We lit a few safe candles and sent the older kids to bed with flashlights. Since we are blessed with a wood stove that we keep going anytime it's very cold, we loaded it with wood and retired. Although the blower is electric, when we woke it was only one degree colder in the house than normal with the heat running.    

Since the power was still out in the morning, JD dug a path from the well to the house so we could plug in the little generator and have water, BUT the generator wouldn't start. That makes it TWO for TWO that it didn't work when the power went out. Now mind you, it works in between times, like when Kenny used it for power tools building the fence. We then evaluated how pitifully unprepared we were to provide water for our large family and half an ark of animals with none stored other than two bathtubs. I was having flashbacks of the stories I have heard of the power staying out for a week or two during ice storms. 

 I am also faced with the reality that JD travels and this could have been one of the times he was snowed out of town instead of home. So, if you look back to the snow picture, you can see a whole house generator that is sitting in the field. It's been there for 5.5 years right next to where our temporary house stood that has long been moved. Moving and installing that generator just bumped WAY UP the priority list - way up! Not having water and risking losing hundreds of dollars of meat isn't going to work for me anymore, especially when we already own the generator. 

By the way, our power came back on by noon before we had to start melting snow for water and fretting over the freezers going bad. I'm very thankful! Next time we will be more prepared...as long as next time isn't too soon!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snowed In

 We are snowed in again. It's much better this time since JD is snowed in with us instead of out of town. We haven't progressed much more on the basement, but the challenge seems to be what to do with the stuff - insulation that we will need for the storage room, carpet we will need when we carpet Alei's room, etc. It's a constant juggling scene.

JD did get the doors on the big closet in the back. There is only one more door that needs to be hung and then they will need door knobs. Just putting these on cleared one of the walls that I need to paint.

Last weekend JD was able to finally hang the pot rack that we bought back in November. It sat on our bedroom floor while one of the hooks was on back order for two months. Finally we tracked one down on Ebay. I like the look of the pot rack, but the main purpose was to free up more cabinet space. It's a big kitchen, but we still find ourselves having a hard time with all the supplies. Cooking for massive numbers require massive pots and pans. 

My Mom bought me the two enormous pots on the top of the rack that I love, but they previously only fit in the pantry on my wheat and rice buckets. It's so nice to not have to move them every time I need wheat, rice or anything from the lowest shelf.

While JD has been doing the tough man jobs, I am still organizing all the bookshelves. Alyssa is running an Amazon store (that we will post about soon) to fund her mission trip, so I am making donations to that as well. This is my pile that moved from upstairs to downstairs and is awaiting shelf room.

 In the midst of all the house projects, there is always hair. I have braided three of the four girls this week; Bella is scheduled for tomorrow morning. Elijah got his desperately needed haircut and Ben is hoping for his turn in the next few days.

 Beyond hair and laundry, I spend a lot of time cooking. Even more so the last few weeks since JD, Alei and I are on a new diet. Actually, it's more than a diet, it's going to become more a lifestyle. It will earn it's own post one of these days, but just know that we aren't short on salad supplies around here.

I love the following two pictures. Elijah was helping Bella with her puzzle on the iPad -   

And James is reading the third book in the Eragon series with Lincoln's company. 

Depending on where you are, I hope you are staying warm.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


 I assure you that it's not the lack of activity that has kept me from blogging this week. Sometimes I just prioritize blogging over laundry and cleaning and other times I quickly run out of blogging time. This school year has been our smoothest yet, mainly thanks to A Beka online academy that has spent hours teaching James and Ben instead of all the teaching being me. While I still help and check work, it's been a fraction of the time I have committed previous years. I am thankful that we made the transition this year as Selah and Elijah were official added to the school aged children in the home.

In order to not allow things to get too easy (ha!), we recently moved Alyssa to a different Classical Conversations program. It's the same curriculum, just a larger group "in town". They had a formal last night that I had to  got to buy her a dress for. Elijah happened to also be dressed up at picture time because we walked in the door from a wedding just in time for JD to take Alyssa to the formal.  

The formal was the first time that she left the house for in a week because she got very sick the previous Friday and was diagnosed with pneumonia. Being the tough girl that she is, she didn't complain about her fever until that Sunday morning when it was over 104! After a few days of very high fevers, we found out that pneumonia was to blame instead the assumed flu. I took this picture to show you who will gather if you dare to nap on a couch at our house.

 Alyssa and her friend (and their parents!) are cooking and running a snack/lunch bar at church every Sunday this month to raise money for their mission trips. Alyssa is again going with Global Expeditions on a six week trip this summer and again has to raise almost $6,000. She is going to spend three weeks in India and three in Nepal working with previous sex-trafficked little girls and lepers living in leper colonies. It should be an life changing trip. 

Today's menu at church was baked potatoes with chili and cheese as a topping. Here were the first round of cleaned and wrapped potatoes waiting to be cooked. It took four ovens to cook them all.

Now you can see why I'm busy - Alyssa is only one-tenth of the child population in the house and I didn't even cover her recent chiropractic and orthodontic needs. 

Busy or not, we are thankful for her and her drive to go to the mission field!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Can't Do Everything

 I got two bookcases cleaned out today - I have about three more to go. Here's the worst one's before shot -

And the after -

The next thing on my list was laundry. I did NOT get that done. Well, technically I did several loads, I just haven't folded any of them. (I am definitely not one of those fold when the dryer goes off people - in fact, I turn the buzzers off.) 

It'll still be there tomorrow - it's just going to have to move to the floor so we can sleep!