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, December 27, 2016

The Days

My days have been pretty stressful lately, and I don't sleep very well. The second I wake up in the night, my mind is racing about situations that I don't think are healthy. One day, when things are more stable, I may be able to blog about some of it; but for now, I just spend my days half doing the task at hand and the other half praying and problem solving. My mom has always made me feel better by stating that intelligent people are harder on themselves, because they think about all the options and angles before making decisions. Believe me, I have created more angles than mathematicians know exist at this point.

Sometimes, the ability to laugh is the greatest gift. Way back, when Alei was new on Facebook, I posted on her wall the saying, "Alei, just be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn, then be a unicorn." The people at work asked her what that was supposed to mean. (If loses it's humor if you have to explain it.) One time, Alei bought me a mug that had that same saying on it.

Since then, there have been many unicorn gifts exchanged between us. I originally really hated unicorns since my first room-mate in college arrived with her porcelain unicorn collection. In time, they have grown on me... a bit. This Christmas was a banner unicorn year - Alei bought me these super classy, rainbow unicorn slippers that I will wear with pride. And, I found her that unicorn sweat-shirt in her favorite light teal color.

I hope that supplies a bit of humor to your day, but in case it doesn't, let me leave you with a conversation I had earlier today at the library with my "chief arguer" child. We walked in and while everyone else went to collect books, he (there is a clue) sat down at a computer. I told him to go find books, we didn't come to use the computer. He has a HUGE habit of arguing so quickly that he doesn't evaluate the foolishness that spills out. He said, "there are no good books here and I've read most of the them anyway!" All that pops in my head at a time like that is a saying that has a semi-bad word in it; not really a cuss word, but too close for use in our house, (unless you are a semi-adult and bucking authority, but that's a different kid and a different conversation). I toned my thoughts down to my traditional, "do you hear yourself? That is one of the dumbest arguments yet. We are in the LIBRARY, (where again I have to refrain from not adding the semi-bad word as a adjective before library.)"

So, there you have it; my second attempt at some humor for you.



Sunday, December 25, 2016


Merry Christmas from our home to yours -



Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve

 I feel like I've been living in the kitchen. My sister has made pear bread and pumpkin bread daily to take to the Afghan immigrants she visits.

The kids and I attempted Christmas sugar cookies yesterday, but they did not roll out nearly as well as normal. I ended up having to take over most of the operation.

The kids were freed up to begin their gingerbread houses; we did teams of one older and one younger child per team.

I'm really amazed how well they all turned out!

The big kids worked nicely with the little guys and there wasn't any conflict; which is often not the case.

James and Elijah's underway -

Tori and Selah's -

The giant behind the house -

We are eating Christmas dinner earlier than usual tomorrow, so we did all our salads and desserts today; we also make Amish soup for tonight after our church Christmas Eve service. It's pretty impressive how helpful the children are in the kitchen now; Elijah chopped all the carrots and Julia the potatoes.

After church tonight, we will finish our Advent reading and hang our last ornament on our Jesse tree.

Then we will tuck the little darlings into bed, hopefully before they fall asleep on the couches.

Selah and Hunter

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Advent Season

This is what I chose for our Advent reading this year. We have a Jesse tree and hang the corresponding ornament to the chapter we read each night.

Don't take the following two pictures too seriously, Ann Voskamp; it wasn't the story that put them to sleep, it was the fact that today was our last big day at CC before Christmas, and the feasting and games wore them out.

looks comfortable, huh?

Tomorrow is the beginning of my catch up phase. I have a list a mile long, but school will only be about half it's normal load until the new year.



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Field Trip and Hair

Once upon a time, I was part of an all-natural website for African hair care. The reality is that I can't just keep doing this endless braiding of four heads of hair; I am probably getting carpel tunnel! Tori is getting old enough to handle her own hair, given the right tools; and I took seriously when my friend told me that straightening her girls' hair had revolutionized her life. Anything that is a hair revolution at this point? Count me in!  We booked Tori in her kitchen and Tori and I hung out for a few hours (like five...).

Here is her hair chemically straightened, yet not flat ironed.

I like it; this is what it will return to when we wash it.

Here is her selfie with it all groomed nice and flat.
The next day we went on a fun field trip at the local state park to learn about beavers and fire building.

We got to make some s'mores once we built the fire.

The park is overlooking the Potomac River; I hope to camp there in the spring.

Elijah and Bella


Friday, November 18, 2016

Selah's Birthday

We finally hosted a Selah birthday party today; it was a big deal to her as she has never had her own birthday party with friends, that wasn't shared with a sibling. We had James' 16th birthday party a month ago, and it was way colder than today was! The kids were outside playing and eating in short sleeves.

Here are a few shots - we served hot dogs and chili, so chili dogs were most people's choice.

Selah chose a chocolate cake with bright blue frosting.

She got all kinds of exciting gifts, which again was a first for her to receive presents from anyone other than mom and dad.

It was a special day for her and I am so, so thankful for the beautiful weather God blessed us with.

Happy 8th Birthday, Selah - we are thankful you are in our family!


Friday, November 4, 2016

The 31st

I went to the harvest party dressed as a zoo-keeper, and JD as the zoo-keeper's wife; however, the picture is so bad that I am not going to post it. I did have a cute collection of animals, however. Elijah was a snake, Bella a fierce tiger and Selah a darling giraffe that she and Aunt Deb created together the weekend I was out of town.

Nathan was a baby shark. He has been referred to as a baby shark by our swim coach since he was born, because Gabriel and Alayna met on the Shark swim-team at the age of 12! There have been other sharks marry, but he's the first shark baby.

Tori was Waldo - 

James a mime -

And Julia a bike riding M&M.

 Moriah and Chris dressed up as M&Ms to go to another party the weekend before, but since Chris has school on Monday nights, Moriah turned into a watermelon to accompany Alei the pinapple, and Alayna the kiwi.

Here is their awkward fruit salad pose.
 Alyssa went to work, dressed as normal, other than the fine moustache.

You may think this shouldn't have taken days to post, but it did.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Away From Home and A Moment to Write

Last weekend, I went on our church annual women's retreat; it has always proven to be a great  time to refocus and reevaluate the path I have chosen for my life. To be honest, we bit off an enormous task to provide for and raise a dozen children. (In case that fact isn't overly obvious). While we knew it was big, it is significantly more difficult than we had thought or hoped. Many times, I review the clear vision God provided to show we were called to adopt Selah and Bella; I am thankful for the confirmation, or I might have wondered if we were over zealous and went far beyond God's will. Selah and Bella have also been the smoothest, easiest children to transition to our family which is such a blessing.

This fall has been the point which Brooke launched from the orphanage she calls home and became a University student. Coupled with the fact she is only 16 and speaks weak English, it adds a difficult layer of parenting which most people can not relate to. While we are not there for her day to day needs, we are still the only family which she has.

While it's rather obvious at this point from pictures, Ben is currently not living in our home. We found for the well being of our entire family, we needed to relocate him outside our home. This was a very difficult decision and only made after 15 months of very intensive therapy that did not seem to yield any positive results. He is living in a family, group home arrangement and attending public school. It has taken months for me to be able to tell people without cringing at hearing the words come out of my mouth. I have no idea what the future holds for Ben, but we hope this choice allows him to successfully complete high school with the extra help he requires.

The bottom line: the tough pill to swallow in this parenting journey is that my children, both adoptive and biological, have free will and have to come to terms with the person they want to be and who they want to live for. In a world which glorifies living with only yourself in mind, that line of 
thinking comes without effort. I have had to deal with the reality that we have invested a life savings in our adoptions and child raising and it was still what God called us to do even if the very people we are raising resent us for it. Of course, this is the fact of the matter, not the feelings which come naturally, as I feel I have spent the last two years in the worst stage of parenting for which my almost 25 years of parenting has experienced.

So, after being home for just two days, I headed to the Boston area to spend a few days with JD while he finished his fifth ship commissioning since last month. The commissioning isn't the highlight for me, it is just the time away where we can have a conversation without being interrupted. Yesterday, we explored the Paul Revere trail in Boston - here's his family home which he lived in with his wife and children when he risked his life to make the famous ride -