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.

Monday, December 28, 2015

NEW Year Pictures


Since I successfully posted the family picture on the header, I'm going to post a few more from our session. The awesome photographer took nearly 900 pictures and I came home with 100. We also got all new individual pictures to update the kids photos over the stairs for the first time in 3-4 years. It's a lot of work to coordinate and photograph 16 people, but it was worth it.

The little family in the big family -

The four big girls -

Mimi and Granddad with Nathan -

The boys -

Candid Moriah - 

Saturday, December 26, 2015


People often comment to me how much fun Christmas must be at our house. Here is a few shots of Christmas morning. It was very fun, and the noise and mess were what you would expect for that much fun. Actually, the mess is still very much there; I'm going to be working on that today on top of coordinating clothing for family pictures tomorrow.

 Merry first Christmas, Nathan. As expected, the boxes and paper were the most fun to him.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Jenny, JD, Aunt Deb, Gabriel, Alayna, Nathan, Alei, Moriah, Alyssa, James, Ben, Tori, Julia, Elijah, Selah and Bella

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

MiMi's Butterball

 Nathan turned 10 months old on Dec. 18th. He is such a sweet little guy and we are all so thrilled to have had these months with him.

We really can't think about him returning to the other side of the country; he loves the activity of all the children and the snuggles with MiMi and Granddad.

He's definitely captured the hearts of many in his time in Virginia. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Last Few Days

Last Thursday was the long awaited arrival of Gabriel on the USS George Washington, which pulled into Norfolk, VA. The plan was Alayna, Alei and JD were going to make the trip, while Nathan and I stayed at home and tried out a bottle which he had not had in months. The reality is that he eats everything and would not go hungry, just might not be happy taking a nap. That plan quickly fell apart when Alayna and I ended up in the ER most of the night with a baby with the croup. We made it home with the sick baby in time to wish JD and Alei well on their trip down. Gabriel was delivered home that afternoon and here is a quick picture taken right away. I felt badly for Gabriel arriving to a fussy baby that was so out of character for Nathan.

The lighting looks like Nathan has a red toupee, but it's some weird reflection from the Christmas lights.
Nathan was pretty miserable that day and the next, but was back to his happy self by Saturday. On Friday, we made Christmas cookies and went to our home group fellowship.

On Saturday, JD and Gabriel took most of the crew to Star Wars. Here is the picture I took before they were ready with the good light.

I have one child who chose to freeze over put on a jacket and shoes for the picture.

Here's the one that they posed for with the poor light; posing didn't seem to make a difference for Ben.

While they were all gone to Star Wars, I pulled out and organized Christmas presents while Alayna wrapped them. Nathan enjoyed all the mess.

At one point when Nathan was being a little too helpful, I gifted him with a home-made playpen. He was pretty impressed with it and wanted to go back in when Aunt Deb pulled him out.  

In between all the activity, Gabriel has played countless games of checkers with several children. My favorite was when I walked by a game between Selah and Bella and Selah jumped four checkers with no space between them side to side. She informed me that they were playing by "Bella's rules".

We are thankful to be all under the same roof this Christmas. (Nathan agrees as he applauds.) It is a very special Christmas as we reflect back to last year when Gabriel and Alayna were in CA and Nathan wasn't born yet!

Hunter, the cat, has no respect for my sister's cat allergies.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Three Years Home

 Over the stairs I have 11 frames with individual pictures of the kids. I got the brilliant idea to update them back in the spring with canvasses. I now realize that it really wasn't that great of an idea, because you can't just swap canvasses and put the older ones in a photo album, as is my current practice. Anyway, in the spring, I did a Gabriel and Alayna, an Alyssa and a Bella update picture. The other eight pictures are now old and not matching. Yesterday was beautiful, so I asked Moriah to just get a good picture of at least one child for me to update. She took Selah out, with Bella for good measure. (Sadly, I mailed the girl's three year updates to the adoption agency yesterday right before these pictures were taken and they are so much more current and cute!) 

Here are two of Selah's I like -

And two of the girls together. It's amazing that three years has past since they became sisters and joined our family. They have been an amazing addition!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

December Past-time

My word of the month is vomit; well, it feels that way anyway. Elijah started throwing up eight days ago, and I had it by the next morning. I quarantined us and thoroughly cleaned and no one else got sick; until poor Alayna flew home from Memphis last weekend still feeling sick from a virus circling there. Since Saturday, we have had five more down for the count. I have no confidence that it will end there is spite of my cleaning until my hands are raw. It is the worst virus I've encountered in years...and there are just so many of us for it to work through.
We did have a nice break last Sunday before the second round hit; we went to "Walk through Bethlehem" in Richmond. It was really awesome and I would highly recommend it to anyone with one near.
It is going to be a pretty exciting Christmas this year, since it's the first ever with all 11 children under the same roof. Gabriel arrives home from his South America deployment next Thursday and I know the time all together is just going to fly by. I am really planning on doing a better job of blogging during all the family fun time!  (I just have to make it through the vomit to the fun!)
Elijah and his friend with a Roman soldier

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Surrounding Thanksgiving

 I'll start by saying that we had a lovely Thanksgiving; Alyssa had a friend come from college a few hours away for the weekend, since we are much closer than her NY family. We also spent the evening with friends we are blessed to have in our lives.

There are just so many crazy events in our lives with all the kids and pets that we often cruise through things that I think may stop most "normal" people's day. The day before Thanksgiving, JD took our two indoor/outdoor cats to the vet. We suspected that Lucy was unhealthy and that one of them may have had ring-worm. After finding out that Lucy had a few medical issues and was approaching 10 years old, we elected to put her to sleep over the alternative treatment ideas. It was a bit too sudden, and the children really didn't have any preparation time. The next morning we buried her in our animal cemetery.

JD digs nice deep holes for animal burial sites
 The kids elected to fill in her grave by hand; it just helps us feel like we are respecting her life I think. I will buy a cement square that we paint the animal's name and dates on. 

JD helped finish; little Bella gave it all she had.

Since I only intended to do online Black Friday shopping, I announced that we could put our tree up on Friday. JD and the boys got it out of the box in the barn loft and brought it in to discover that Gus, our problem-barn-peeing cat, had peed on the tree. JD loaded it right back up and took it to the dump trailer. Moriah and I then headed into the crowd of shopping to snatch up a tree on half price special. It wasn't as good as 75% off after Christmas, but it was the best we could do. I decided on a 9 foot tree over the regular 7.5 foot of the past. We are going to donate our star to Alei for her new little tree and just get a big bow to put on the branch touching the ceiling.

The wise men followed the star, but Jesus was the gift to the world, so I think a bow will work nicely.

At least I like it better than our old tree since I was forced to buy one

Today we loaded the youngest seven in the van at 8:00 for a trip to pick up our newest surprise. More on that later.

Don't they look like 8 is too early to be on the road?
Hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving as well!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

This Week

 It's been a rather long week; JD was out of town and it seems the children's top priority was to argue. In all fairness, most of the arguing, tattling and complaining begins with the same young lady who is very grumpy when she wakes up. It seems, however, that it can be rather contagious and we can have hours of conflict before lunch. I am going to need a new plan for our mornings, as reminding her to be nice certainly isn't working.

There were several highlights this week and I realized how many of those often take place around the kitchen table. We have a dining room table that we stack the mail on, and then we still cram ourselves around the kitchen table to eat. We have a school table that we stack books on and the kids still compete to get a spot at the kitchen table.

The table highlights of the week was when I cleaned out the craft drawers and it inspired them all to paint. There were some talented creations that day -

Another day we dissected owl pellets. We did them at CC and I got to bring enough home that everyone could do another round. If you don't know what an owl pellet is, it is actually the regurgitated remains of whatever the owl ate and can not digest. It contains just the fur and bones and you can reconstruct the bones to identify what the owl ate - generally a mouse.

The biggest event of the week called us away from the table; it was James' drama presentation he has been practicing for all semester. He had a showing Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; the kids and I attended today. (It was very disappointing to me that JD was out of town for the presentation!) He played a kid that didn't get involved in pirate affairs and he did a great job at his part. I am incredibly thankful that Alyssa got her license in time to cart him back and forth to practices for me! She helped with hair and makeup this year, since she was in California when try outs were held! 

James in the middle