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.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Homeschooling the Tribe

Tomorrow will conclude our first official week of school for the year. Legally, I am homeschooling nine children, but only the youngest seven require my every living, breathing second of energy and attention. Since this is my 18th or 19th year of homeschooling, I literally have tried about every approach of homeschooling and have found that my absolute favorite for such a group is Classical Conversations. I enrolled Alyssa in 7th grade, the first year it came to our county. Three years ago I enrolled Elijah, and he, Bella and I attended every week to test the waters of the whole classical approach, while the three girls attended public school and the boys continued in our tradition homeschooling method. Last year, I trained to become a tutor.

This year, I enrolled Alyssa and the younger five; the boys are continuing at the other co-op. I have worked all summer to prepare for this year - both for the class I tutor in the community and to have everything lined up for all my kids at home.

We have four segments to our homeschool day at this point:
1. Our group CC time which introduces and reviews the memory information for the week in seven areas.
2. An online ancient history class through Veritas Press that we do in groups of two to three.
3. Essentials Grammar and IEW writing for James, Ben and Tori with Julia sitting in to absorb what she is able.
4. Lastly, our individual work which encompasses math, grammar or phonics, editing and reading.

To keep it real -
I was unable to take one of those cute first day of school pictures on the front porch this year because I had one child crying in the closet for the first hour of school.

Day two we attended our first CC day. Everyone was smiling and wearing matching clothes, but I forgot to take a picture of it.

Day three we were working away and I walked by the camera and snapped just a few pictures; they are a true snapshot of normal homeschooling.

This was group CC time where everyone is together.
They are all completely attentive and following along at least half the time.

This is a realistic shot of Selah - she isn't a quiet child. Tori is.

Elijah showed up at group time with this look; he didn't take it well when I told him that it was going to be a karate-free zone. Although he never stops moving, his little brain is soaking the memory work up.

My biggest challenge is to keep people learning when I'm not home. I have minimized the time away to as little as possible, but it is still a chunk every week. Tomorrow is the first this week that the group has to do without me for several hours. We will see...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Momma Guinea with 8 babies tucked safely underneath
I am pretty sure this picture isn't going to win any photography contests, but it is representative of a few hours of work this afternoon. Ben came in this morning to tell me that one of the momma guineas that had been sitting on a nest of eggs in the woods emerged with several babies following her. Since we lost all the babies last year from predators, we planned on catching any mommas and babies this year and keeping them safely in the chicken coop. To make matters worse (or actually helpful), she had a string tangled around her feet that was causing her to limp. Her flying abilities are on the level of an eagle however, and anytime we tried to catch her, she would fly into a tree or the barn roof. Since we had her running, we started gathering babies which was very challenging since they were tiny and roaming in the very high grass and weeds behind the barn (that have now made the "to be weed-whacked list"). Once we collected all eight babies and couldn't hear anymore, we went back to catching the momma. She stopped roaming with the flock and started hiding from us; once we would find her, she would fly off and hide again. After about two hours of this nonsense, James snagged her with a large net after Bella alerted him that she was hiding in the barn stall.
We moved her in with the babies, cut all the string off her feet and watched as she gathered the babies under her wing. Lots of work but a happy ending!

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Rest of CA and Heading Home

 The last day we were in San Diego, we went to visit Gabriel's new ship - the George Washington. The GW has been stationed in Japan for the last eight years and is back in San Diego preparing to make the trip around South America to Norfolk for refueling and updating. Gabriel will be making the trip starting in a few weeks.

This picture was an attempt at showing how long the passageways are; I think it only shows about 25% however.

This is as close as we were allowed to Gabriel's workspace; I love how all the signs are also in Japanese.

 This is Gabriel's previous ship, the Ronald Reagan. It is right across the pier at this point. It's amazing how different it is visiting ships now than when JD was stationed on them before the Cole bombing. There are metal barriors out in the water around the ships that would stop small boats from being able to approach. They also have guards on the flight deck at all times with machine guns. We even went through metal detectors to board the GW.

It really is phenomenal how America launches and lands planes on flight decks; the only other counties with that technology is the ones that we have shared it with.

Elijah driving on the bridge -

I came home to progress on the garage. Today there is much more - roofing and windows are going in.

Monday, August 17, 2015

2009 and 2015

This is a picture of Elijah and my first trip to San Diego in 2009, and then again this trip, in front of what I thought was the same fountain at Balboa Park. Turns out they were different fountains in the same garden -

Elijah 9 months old 

Elijah - 7 years old 
Time flies and I think we both look older!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Last Few Days

Thursday night we took Alyssa to Old Town and ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant. The area is the original San Diego old town and is built up into shops and restaurants, and is really enjoyable once you can make it through the frustration of finding parking - in our case for two cars since we are one person over fitting into one!

Gabriel, Alyssa and Elijah 
On Friday we hit Coronado Beach. Elijah LOVED it and when we started packing up, requested to please stay just a few more hours. I took hundreds of awesome pictures before I realized the camera didn't have a memory card in it. (I have done this on several occasions and need to order a second so I can always have one in it!) The following are the few phone pictures we took once we realized none of the others actually existed. 

Alyssa and the beach baby

My CA boys

The beach wore Nathan out and he slept as we walked the streets of Coronado 

We ate at a grass fed hamburger place  - just took a picture here

Then we hit Moo time for ice cream 
After we found some shade to eat our ice cream in, we met two helicopter pilots that had just come from patrolling the San Diego coast line. When you are at the beach, you can generally see a ship out protecting the coast and at least one helicopter flying back and forth. The one pilot pulled off his pilot badge and gave it to Elijah. We are going to sew it on one of his jackets; it was the high light of the evening for him.

On Saturday we headed to Balboa park. I live in a pretty sheltered world compared to the displays there. There was a booth set up to convince people that there is no God, nor heaven or hell. They had big signs to go enjoy your life, which brought me to wondering why they needed to convince others of what they believe, when there wouldn't be any negatives of believing in the opposite, and why was that worth sitting in the heat over them "enjoying your life"? Beyond the atheists, there were Buddhists, Pro-Iran Deal gatherings, and Muslim booths. We enjoyed the shade and the Christians at the end of the long row. 

Elijah had some fun with face painting - 

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a shark 
Then we cooled off a bit in the fountain.

It was fun to show Alyssa some of the high lights of San Diego and JD and the kids all seem to be doing well at home. 

Awesome tree!

Friday, August 14, 2015

In Califorinia

This is Gabriel and Alayna's neighborhood; Elijah thinks the mountains in the distance are beautiful.

There are several nice parks spread through the neighborhood; Nathan is fond of the baby swings. 

It's been sweet for Elijah to have this time with his new little nephew - 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My Traveling Companions

I am off to California and I have a little traveling posse. This will be Alyssa and Elijah's first time meeting Nathan! Next post will be from sunny CA!

.(Once again my phone info is on my picture....whatever, it's the best I can do).

Saturday, August 8, 2015

This Week - Garage and More

 It was not a smooth and easy week around here. On top of my already packed schedule, JD had to go on travel the entire week, leaving me to be the building coordinator for the first week the Amish worked. Let's just say it was far from smooth. Plans needed explanations that I couldn't give, there were lots of questions I couldn't answer, tractors that needed gas and issues about what was for lunch arose. Although it wasn't their fault at all, it was like having a second batch of needy children constantly calling me.  

This picture was taken at the end of day one. The picture below was Kylie stealing the cookies that the Amish left on the wood pile.

Day two and three brought all the main walls.

Day four and five began the upstairs. Due to a miscalculation and the wrong (un-returnable) windows ordered, the upstairs is going to be 1.5 feet taller than we planned. The only concern there is that the addition is going to be a bit taller than the house. While I am concerned about how that will look, JD used his favorite phrase, "it is what it is" and the project moves forward.

On Friday, the breezeway that will connect the house and garage were started.

From here, there will be stairs that lead into the new shoe room off the mud room. The plan is that snow boots and mud boots will reside in shelves in the breezeway while "clean" shoes will live in the shoe room. I am hoping to mass evacuate the hundreds of shoes that currently live everywhere in the house!

Other than building this week, I had school meetings most of Thursday and Friday. The kids also had soccer camp every evening. Last night brought the conclusion of swim team with finals awards. I have to brag on Tori - she won two golds and three silvers at finals as well as was awarded "Most Valuable Player". She is a phenomenal swimmer and while our family has been blessed with several outstanding swimmers - Tori holds the record for final awards. When you swim finals, you are swimming against everyone on six teams, so she came in either first or second in everything she swam.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Mooster Comes Home

 We moved Mooster, the cow, home from the honeymoon pasture yesterday; the farmer's wife assured us that her time there was successful. I sure hope so since (for you non-farm types), milk cows don't produce milk until they produce a baby. She is very gentle; I wasn't sure what to expect since the few hours yesterday was the most time I have ever spent with a cow.

It seems that it would have been smart to have moved the picnic tables out of the area before we installed the electric fence, but no one thought of it, so now they are cow observation platforms.

Once we let the donkey and goats back out of the small goat fence into the pasture, they were eating along totally unaware of the cow on the other side of the fence for quite a while. Once they saw her, they all froze and stared. The goats stayed frozen and stared but Chewy, the donkey, kept turning and galloping about half way back to the barn before he would get his nerves up to come close again.

They did this for several hours. All the while, Mooster just stared at them.

James built Mooster's new hay feeder while Elijah and Selah played on it.

 In the next few days, I am going to move Vinny, the stud goat, in the fence with Mooster and then allow Leia and her babies to have the large pasture with the donkey. The time has also come to sell Teddy; he is sweet and I will make sure he gets a good home.