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, May 26, 2015

Weekend in NY with the Big Girls

 Alyssa was supposed to have a class trip to NYC with her Classical Conversation class; I quickly, and sacrificially, signed myself up as a chaperone. The trip ended up being cancelled because there weren't enough people willing to go. Since Alyssa and I were disappointed, I decided that we could do our own trip and take her sisters as well. I mistakenly thought we could probably do our own weekend with four for what I would have paid for just Alyssa and I, but everything is crazy expensive in NY. We booked a hotel through Groupon (still not affordable at all!) in uptown Manhattan and looked at travel options. Flying was out, so I asked JD what he thought about us just driving in. Thinking he would laugh at the idea, he shocked us all when he said he thought that would be fine. Driving in was fine, but parking in NYC is nothing to joke about. The $50 a day parking fee was the easiest part about parking. When we finally got  our car in the garage, we didn't go back for it until we were leaving town.

We left at 4:00 a.m. on Friday morning at Alei's request that she drive the first two hours; I'm not a morning person and get elevated anxiety just thinking about getting up at 4! After a few lengthy stops, we arrived in NYC about noon. We left our luggage at the hotel and set out to find our first round of NY pizza and figure out the subway.

We ate pizza all three days at different NY pizza locations.
Day one we hit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour in the afternoon.

Moriah's friend, Esther, that lives there, met us for the day.

Moriah is so intently looking at her pictures that she is unaware of Alyssa and I having our own picture fun.
My three big girls on the ferry
Lady Liberty
 After the cruise up and down the Hudson river, we toured the new World Tower in the spot of the old World Trade Center. It's grand opening was only a few days away. It is huge and still stands much higher than the rest of NY's skyline; I'm not confident that I would have taken that approach. 

World Tower on right
 The spot that the second tower was is a large memorial to the victims that died in 9-11. It is a reflecting pool with an inverted waterfall that lights up at night. It has the names of the people that died carved around it. 

If you have read the book Harbinger (I highly recommend it), I was super interested in visiting the chapel that George Washington dedicated our country to God in. It remained standing in 9-11 in spite of being right by the World Trade Center.

That night we hit China Town and Little Italy.

Saturday I didn't carry my good camera, so everything is cell phone pictures. We started the day with a good walk across Central Park to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art; it was a bit over 30 minute walk or a 60 minute subway ride because the subway has to go all the way around. Moriah opted to shop with Esther, but Alei, Alyssa and I loved it.

This is the temple of Dundar; it is actual Egyptian ruins that Egypt presented as a gift to the U.S. after we gave them 17 MILLION to help save it from flooding!

We all enjoy art, but I'm just going to show the one traveling Van Gogh that got the big sign out front. The cell phone picture really doesn't do it justice.

In the afternoon, we dressed for Broadway and hit Times Square until time for Momma Mia. I had never been to a Broadway production, so now I understand the difference. It was phenomenal.

In our quest to sample more NY pizza, we found what we thought was the best yet. They had ONE table outside which we somehow scored. When we were wrapping up and gave it to a family that just arrived, they were thrilled. It's tough to feed kids standing on a crowded sidewalk.

Those are cream sodas with the pizza!

This pizza place happened to be next door to the church of Scient*logy. When we wouldn't let Alyssa go talk to them, she asked if she could go talk to the protestors across the street. They let her join in for a bit. They were most entertaining; it was like having a show with dinner.

Our final day in NY consisted of mostly shopping in Times Square before we wandered around with our luggage looking for the parking garage and then detouring around Manhattan since several blocks were closed off for some festival. I'll close with two of my girls; the picture doesn't show the N and Y covered in glitter - (they didn't buy them, it was more a making fun of them deal.) 

 I could totally do that again -

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Surprise Surprise

 This is probably my most demanding week of the spring. I am in Classical Conversation training all day Monday-Wednesday about an hour away from our home; the morning is parent training and the afternoon is tutor training. My five younger home-schoolers are in "camp" there while I grow my brain. On Friday, the older girls and I leave for NYC at 4 a.m. for a "senior trip". 

So, this morning right after packing lunch for eight and getting into my "leave the house" clothes, Ben came running in to announce that Leia had babies - twins. We ran out in great excitement; I really didn't think she was due until next month. She had a baby boy and girl. The boy is a large little bruiser but the little girl is pretty small and hasn't nursed too well. I missed my morning training to take goat temps and promp her to nurse with milk on my finger.

She still isn't doing as well as the boy, but I think she is stable. I really hope she is nursing before I go to bed tonight or I'm going to have to spend half my night in the barn and I will be pretty tired tomorrow in class.

baby boy in front
Baby girl on left
We also had 10 chicks hatch in the incubator on Sunday. Since the baby guineas are hogging the outside baby cage, the new babies are living in the kitchen. They are getting plenty of attention!

See Selah hanging in the cage catching herself a chick
 Let me tell you, having a collie is no joke when it comes spring clipping time. This was round two of shaving her. She looks so ridiculous that I didn't even take a picture; maybe in a few weeks. Now I know why the dog groomers charge so much!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Expanding the Garden

 JD built two more garden beds this weekend -

Bringing us up to a total of seven -

We had a pile of top soil and chicken poo waiting to fill it.

See that little boy riding in the back of the tractor? He has loved tractors since birth!
Now I can plant green beans and sugar snap peas. I am looking forward to a nice harvest and plenty of canning.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Always Something Going On

 I did not have any commitments on Wednesday or Friday morning this week, other than getting the girls off to school. On Thursday, however, the girls had to go to school, the boys to their Thursday class and I had a field trip to Richmond with the three little guys. In spite of having every minute of the morning filled, I got a call at 6:40 that my chicks were in at the Post Office and to come get them. Mind you, the chicks were supposed to ship late June, so they were a bit early. I had no choice but to leave the kids to get themselves ready while Julia and I made a post office run. My sister saved my field trip by taking the boys to class for me as well.

Our baby chicks are 30 White Pearl guinea babies. They will grown up and hopefully remain here to eat ticks like my previous guinea flock that has dwindled from 30 to 8 over the last few years.

They are cute now, but they will grow up ugly and obnoxious just like the current flock.

I took my camera on the field trip and got some excellent pictures of the kids on the Nina and Pinta replicas that are sailing around America; the problem is that my camera didn't have a memory card in it, so I never really took any pictures. Elijah was so disappointed that he wanted to go back. It was a cool field trip nevertheless.

When we came home, we realized we had to patch the chicken mansion opening that JD left for the pigeon that passed away several months ago. While he was never smart enough to come out of it, the roosters that are banned to the outside of the mansion have figured out how to cram themselves in.

Rather than add it to JD's already long to-do list, I let James just handle it on his own. He is quite the gifted carpenter for being 14.

He measured, cut and staple gunned the area closed. I just laughed later that night when three roosters were standing on it looking perplexed.

The current project on JD's to do list is two more garden beds. I filled the current five and we haven't added on for about three years. JD trimmed trees back and moved the trampoline to made room to add two more on the back.

An added bonus is all the tree tops are being eaten by the goats and donkey as a weekend buffet.

Since we had to pay a Home Depot delivery charge, we went ahead and ordered a pallet of rough pavers to build around the donkey trough. It will keep his hooves worn down, since he is too ill behaved for the farrier to work on his hooves. 

 While the guys build the beds, I, of course, have to pull in the two youngest bathing beauties and braid their hair. Honestly, I would much rather work in the garden.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Tiny, Small and a Bit Bigger

 My synonyms of the day is words for small - (do I spend too many hours with preschoolers to first graders?) Our first thing is the tiny turtle that Julia found on the driveway this morning. After everyone got to hold him, he went back to have a happy life in the woods.

Our next thing small is my favorite little thing of all - Nathan. Check out that darling smile. (I am going to be harassed by countless teenagers for posting this picture with the words at the top, but I can't figure out how to get rid of it and the smile is worth the harassment.)

Nathan - a bit over two months

Lastly, I have to tell you what my little boy (Elijah) said in Wal-Mart. We were rolling to the checkout with a cart of dog food, people food and children when Elijah said, "do you even have enough money for all of this?" and I replied with a goofy tone, "of course I do, I am loaded." Elijah scrunched his face and said, "do you mean loaded or bloated?"

It's nice to have some side humor while you are spending large amounts of money just to feed the children!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

May 1st

 I scrolled through past years' photos on or as close to May 1st as I downloaded photos and I thought it was funny that the theme was the same - the garden, baby chicks, and little helpers getting dirty. Then there are several sleeping, tired photos. I love spring!

I didn't remember, but we built our first two garden beds in 2010, so Julia was turning four.

Elijah turned two that summer -

Here is Tori and Julia in 2011 helping plant; they would have been almost five and 6.5.

This is 2012 when we planted my Mother's Day roses -

We also attempted strawberry plants in pallets that year, but the grass and weeds were too strong of a force.

Here is Tori and Julia in 2013, age 8 and almost 6, still planting and watering.

The baby chick pictures look pretty much the same year to year, but here is a batch in 2013.

Lastly, a photo of Elijah last year after a good day in the sun and a fresh bath. I need to get my camera out the next few days and capture Selah, Elijah and Bella in the garden; they are hard little workers!