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.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Twins and Paint

This is Alei's friend, Amanda, that lives out of state. She came home for Christmas and showed up at the Christmas Eve service wearing a matching dress to Alei's.

Alei and Alyssa came Christmas morning in their matching dino jammies - 

And I bought Selah and Bella (and Elijah and Nathan) matching Mickey and Minnie shirts for our Florida trip.

MMA is moving from our basement to the local home school co-op, so I am reclaiming our game room. Tori helped me tape and I have painted the walls and trim. James is putting fresh paint on the concrete floor. We are hoping to  bring home a new (new to us...) pool table next weekend.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Christmas Surprise times Two

The kids were not allowed to give Christmas requests this year as they were told all along that they were all getting the same two presents and they would work together for a large gift. Amazingly, in spite of a few slips, the secret was maintained all the way until Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve is the gift exchange where the kids give a gift to the person they drew. Moriah had Elijah and bestowed Steeler items on him.

I got the six youngest new stockings with their names on them - very exciting for me as I have planned on doing that for many years.

On Christmas morning, the kids got a suitcase and a Mickey or Minnie t-shirt, along with some group board games, because we are leaving in two weeks for DISNEY WORLD - 15 of us! Gabriel, Alayna and Nathan are flying from CO to meet us for the week as well.

This box had a paper chain with how many days until we leave and they didn't understand it, but Elijah looked at me and said, "thank you, Mom". He's such a sweet and thankful boy.

You know, in spite of the kids not getting toys and having so few presents to open, the atmosphere was just as fun and the girls spent the whole day playing with their suitcases and the small stuffed Minnies in their stockings. I found the lack of shopping to be rather restful and enjoyable; we are definitely reducing the quantity of presents per person from now on. 

Of course, the food was as delicious as ever and Julia received a whole second huge surprise when her sister, Erica in Canada, face-timed to tell her that she and her mom were coming for an entire week in March. They girls have never met and I am so excited for them both!


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Merry Christmas

A very Merry Christmas from the Virginia residing part of our family - we missed the "Coloradans" this year but we will see them in January!

James informed me that this is a smile, so in case you might think he looks miserable, he is happy and smiling :)

Christmas Eve service

My three little people - they make life fun!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas Prep

Christmas is coming, ready or not. My shopping was super easy this year. There is a large surprise coming and the children haven't a clue. Due to that, however, I told them that they were each getting two gifts and they couldn't put in any requests. It has been the best year every for me - I wrapped in a very short time a few afternoons ago. 

Alyssa has been the gingerbread baker the last several years, so she came yesterday before work and made them and today before work for decorating. It's nice to not have to do everything anymore. (I never clean up for photos, so the coats all over the chairs were drying after washing!)

we don't do hair for pictures either!

Aside from the gift, Alei and I are hitting the road on Saturday morning for a mission. Since rehoming Chewy the donkey, I have been shown several pictures like this - 

That is a local coyote (shot from a deer stand). Since they have been caught on the field camera behind my barn, and my goats are potential targets, I decided to get a livestock guard dog. 
This is my still-unnamed Great Pyrenees. She is currently living in the west part of the state, guarding chickens and alpacas. She was attacked as a small puppy by a pit bull, so has one non-functioning eye. She is also bullied by the other dogs that she lives with. So, I feel like I am saving her and she will in turn save my goats for me.  Speaking of goats, Leia is looking very pregnant and I think we will have at least January babies, so getting the dog here and settled now is the right move. 

So much for me not wanting to have a 4th dog on the vet circuit....

I'll have some new pictures and an update on Saturday.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

December Already

I signed up to provide a local needy family Thanksgiving meal ingredients - I was happy with my pretty basket.

The chickens have a pumpkin supply in the breezeway from fall - they love them.

We have already finished CC for the semester; Tori has two more weeks. In science, we built our human bodies organ by organ on the last day. I try not to show the cute kids in my class, so this is primarily Selah alone. ( I learned some anatomy, because I noticed from this picture that Selah's pancreas needed fine tuning.)

I found a great home for Chewy, and Alei and I went out to visit him again this last weekend. He is a crazy donkey, however, and got insanely jealous when we paid attention to Leo, their nice donkey.

It really fell apart when Julia picked up a kitty that was following her, which caused Chewy to chase it across the field. He definitely has some challenging behaviors!

Every December, Tori and I make the pilgrimage to John's Hopkins Hospital where she received care when she first arrived in America. She has been followed by the same doctor that now flies in from San Diego for certain patients.

 I captured this picture of her in the waiting room; she said she was fixing it, but it looked like playing :)


Monday, November 20, 2017

Concerts (and Bread)

We surprised the crew with a trip to a major Christian concert outside of DC. It was Mandisa and Danny Gokey along with the lesser known, but good, Love and the Outcomes and Jasmine Murrey. Alei and Alyssa didn't come, but Moriah and Chris joined us. We really packed out a balcony row. 

The kids enjoyed it - it was the first big concert most of them had ever been to.

Elijah really wanted to meet Jasmine, but JD took him one direction to the bathroom during intermission and the girls and I went the other. We got to meet her and snap a picture.

I am so bummed out, but I forgot to take a picture of my kids in their own concert black and white attire yesterday, as they participated in a county choir in a historic church built back in the 1700's. It was beautiful and they looked darling, but we were rushing from our church pot-luck to it and I forgot to get a group shot. Here's the best I have and Bella was totally blocked by the conductor. 

And lastly, Alei and I have been on a strict no-carb eating plan and she isn't in favor of messing it up for Thanksgiving, so she made low-carb bread that we are aging and turning into low-carb stuffing. It should be interesting....at least the bread is. It tastes pretty good though.

Happy Thanksgiving if I don't make it back before then.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

This and That

I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving! Here's a few of our happenings. First of all, I would love to note that we are at such a blessed point in our lives with our home school community and new church plant. It is our 5th year at Classical Conversations and we have all grown and learned so much. This sweet favorite is a new "student" this year and Julia often totes her around. I was a bit shocked when Elijah walked over carrying her - I'm sure it's the first time he carried a baby. (He was given her by her momma) and he said, "boy, she is heavier than she looks!" 

I think the church plant will have to be it's own blog post.

 A recent family fun event is bowling with family friends. We do an adult, a teen and a younger lane and we all have a good time. The kids have improved, as have the adults.

So, I get the longevity award for bedroom furniture; the set I had before buying this new set, I got when I was 10! The headboard currently lives in my parents' attic and our current bed did not have one at all. This was a careful purchase that I have wanted for many years! This is the mostly finished bedroom -

I am keeping my other old furniture as guest room furniture. The mess made by moving out the old and in the new was remarkable. The TV cabinet, etc, that did reside in the bedroom no longer fits, so I still have a few remaining items in the school room awaiting a new home.

Here's our retreat mid-move - 

and the school room -

Like our lives aren't crazy enough, we had a horrible donkey incident. Chewy attacked and hurt our smallest goat, Alice. If Elijah and Selah had not arrived at the right time, he would have killed her. I don't understand what happened to provoke him to turn on the very animal he is paid (in grain and hay) to protect? I am not feeling very good about Chewy continuing his job at Jenny's Happy Farm. I have a friend with horses that is coming to visit him over time and we are going to relocate him to her farm or another unknown farm. I am not willing to sell him at auction or even to someone I don't know at least through someone else.

Alice has made a complete recovery and I am so thankful. She spent the first day sleeping on the dog bed in the kitchen. The vet wasn't confident that something wasn't broken as she didn't even attempt to stand that day. She is still weak but has rejoined the other goats in the barn and field.

Julia spent the whole day with her. Doing school -

and napping - look at that smile on Alice's face.