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, March 25, 2014

What I Do, What I Don't Do

 The biggest demand on my time at this point is cooking. Since JD, Alei and I are doing the Thin Healthy Mama Diet (which I was going to do a blog on but never have), we are making and baking all kinds of strange and creative food. I keep thinking that it will take less time once I am used to it, but it still seems to be a time drainer. Of course, I am also accommodating different food needs with the children, so it's kind of double work. This morning, I made traditional wheat bread, soaking grains for sprouted wheat bread and feeding sour dough bread starter using rye flour.

Since JD's foot surgery, I have attempted to keep some progress going in the basement. I painted the ceiling support parts white and touched up all the scuffed up painted walls on the left side of the back room. Now I am painting all the baseboards which JD will hopefully be able to hang soon.

 I tell you what I don't do well - LAUNDRY. I just find it a drag. Here was last night's laundry attempt. I separated Tori and Julia's clothes and told them to fold it and put it in their drawers. When I walked out to the kitchen, Julia had relocated her's to the dinner table - super convenient.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Celebrating Spring

 Elijah has been counting down the days until spring. I think he hoped that it would instantly be warm and sunny. It was a very nice day and 99% of the snow has melted the last few days (and we are ignoring the forecast for more next week). 

We decided to take the goats on a spring walk in our future cow field. The boys, dogs and goats were excited and ready.
Bella and Gus, the cat, took their time a bit more. The one edge of our property is "the old wagon trail". It literally was a wagon trail in the 1800's that connected the farms in the area. We have learned some really cool history about our land - we purchased it from an older man (who is our neighbor). His family several generations ago was given the land at the end of the Civil War when the farm owner freed his slaves. 

So, we cleared up to the wagon trail for pasture but the trail and the land along the other side of it will remain natural. Ben assured me that there was a place to cross the creek. Well, he was correct as long as you don't mind a 10 foot climb down the bank, a wade through or jump over the water, and another 10 foot climb back up the other side.
We wanted to continue so James jumped the water carrying Gus, the cat, first. It didn't seem to bother Gus at all, he just laid down on the other side and waited for the rest of us. 

After that the boys lugged the goats across - good thing they are dwarf goats and not Nubians.

Elijah and Bella were the last to be helped across.

We followed the creek along for a while and stopped to play. Somewhere in here, the dogs just headed home, but Gus and the goats stuck with us the whole time. 

I thought Hans and Leia were content watching the kids and eating an occasional leaf, but Hans decided to join in the fun and jump the creek to get to James' side.

He ended up stuck on a little ledge about a third of the way down. After a bit of coaxing, he climbed back up. Silly goat.

The walk home was a lot of balancing on trees; they were spread over the ground to prevent erosion. They sure don't allow for a peaceful walk.

Once I came in the house, here's where I found the little boy who didn't want to wear his mud boots. He told me that his feet were all muddy and he was soaking them. He climbs more than the goats!

 I hope you enjoyed your first day of spring!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Brooke and the No-Update Update

 It's been a long time since I have given a Brooke update. The reason for that is that I have nothing to tell. As many of you will remember, I flew to Ethiopia in September of last year to try and further Brooke's adoption case along. The logistical challenge lies in the reality that she doesn't have one living family member to sign her adoption papers -  (yes, I know that logically the kids that are 100% orphaned are the ones that need to be adopted, but the reality in Ethiopia is they are generally the children that are stuck in the system.) While we were in Ethiopia, we thought we had cleared a way for her case to progress to the first of three courts. Now that we are six months past that point, with no reports back of her case even entering the first court, I am beginning to lose hope. 

We are almost at the two year mark since Brooke's mom died and we asked the agency to begin her adoption process. We agonized and prayed about the decision because it's no small feat to adopt a 12 year old (who is also the same age as our two sons!) We really felt like it was the right thing to step out in faith and reunite Brooke with her biological sister, Bella. Since we have had time with her on three different trips to Ethiopia, we love her and want her to be our 12th child! As tough as an older child adoption is, I really feel like she would do well in our country and our family. 

I fall back on the reality, however, that we have prayed the entire time that God would place her in our family if it is His will. We will absolutely believe that God did not consider it in her, or our other children's, best interest if the adoption never takes place. We will not abandon Brooke in Ethiopia either - we will somehow make sure that she is taken care of. The best thing in all of this right now is that she is living day to day knowing that she is loved and wanted by all of us! That alone can make a huge difference for a child.

 West Sands did a wonderful service to these two placing them together in the guest home and allowing them to bond before we ever brought them home. They are the best of friends and as close as any two sisters could be.

Bella and Selah
 I would just love to see Brooke given the same opportunity with the seven sisters she would be coming home to!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Too Long

 I'm routinely amazed when I check my blog and realize that it's been a week since I've posted. When I consider this last week, however, I think that we crammed about two weeks into it and it just didn't leave time to record any of it. As a very brief recap, my sister had a friend fly in that stayed with us for the weekend. We also hosted a dinner party for Ben's 13th birthday with some dear friends who are preparing to move to the mission field in Guatemala. Beyond that, there are the usual school and doctor commitments. Today I took Selah to a pediatric optomologist in Richmond because she has cysts on the back of her eyeballs. JD is also preparing for surgery on his foot tomorrow. We then will get busy with our weekend routine of braiding hair and cooking for Alyssa's snack bar fund-raiser. On top of that, JD stained the first area of the basement floor, so I have to catch up by painting the walls.

Since my life has been a blur, I'm thankful that Alyssa has been using my camera. Here are a few of the many pictures that she took of the kids while they were playing outside on our one super warm almost-spring day we had this week. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March Snow

 There's not much excitement here; I am snow weary. We have missed Monday-Wednesday of school so far this week and three dental appointments. We have done lots of coloring and puzzles and a fair share of electronic brain-numbing time as well. It seems like it would have been a great opportunity to make progress on the basement, but there has been little of that. We are at the place of clearing floors to stain them, but it is a major deal with all the furniture, etc, that it down there. I'm trying to not make the area completely unlivable since we have a few rounds of company on the schedule. 

They colored  notes that Moriah wrote them.
 We decided the reasonable way to stain the floor was half at a time. Guess what side I'm starting on?

Now I need to stain shop. Anyone have any concrete staining wisdom to share?