A life of love

A life of love
Everyone should have a Great Pyrenees

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!!

Okay, so Mr. Sarcasm, my dear husband's response when I said "I don't know that I have anything to say"  was "yeah, your blog posts are so brief and limited". 

So, I am going to do a quick holiday update!  We had a nice Christmas, visits with family and friends, fun with kids enjoying their presents, great Christmas services at church, and all the usual. 

Personally, I am kind of glad that it is done.  It just got overwhelming near the end this year.  Not that we didn't enjoy it, but I was exhausted by the end.  Maybe it is just me and the shorter days.

But, we are going to make a traditional Ethiopian meal on New Year's Day, which we are all greatly looking forward to!  Injera, doro wat, misir wat and whatever else we come up with!  I am so glad I have learned to cook some of this and that most of us love it (Kiley is going to have a Digorno pizza that day, according to her!).   

With Wisconsin weather, and animals to care for, we make the most of good weather days and this week has and will be above freezing, so we are hauling hay from the barn where it is stored - many trailer loads will make much lighter work in worse weather, which is the goal!  Our big push is New Year's Eve, so I think that New Year's Evening will involve movies and a simple relaxing night!  The kids' big party is to watch the ball drop and camp out in the living room.  Our bedroom is the next room, so hubby and I can go to bed and still supervise.  Aren't we boring????

We are working to become debt free while we continue to remodel our home - a 130 year old home certainly takes a lot of work!!!  I am finally ready to paint the first floor, we did the second floor (the kids' bedrooms when we moved in and got burned out).  AND I learned how to refinish our floors, so I am literally doing it a few square feet at ta time - now imagine that with the last six kittens we have left here!!!!  Maybe by the end of the summer we will have it done!!!

Our homestudy is all over the US, so hopefully at some point we will be able to be the family to a baby who needs us!  In the meantime, I am training horses, decluttering, organizing and just in general keeping busy!!! Not to mention all the usual of homeschooling and keeping up with our active family.  I am very grateful that we are between theater shows!!!  There will be tryouts in a couple weeks, but I am ignoring that at the moment.  I am hoping to get some more chapters of our book done in the near future, but living out life seems to get in the way of trying to explain it!!!  LOL!

Well, I am headed to shoo kids to bed before heading there myself.  I am hoping to take good advantage of the good weather tomorrow!!!!  (and very thankful for Kiley's dear friend who gave me insulated jean the other day - they are fleece lined and so amazingly warm, it is like being covered in a blanket!!!  And will make winter easier for me!!!  Thanks Gail!!!!!).
"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Winter sets in....

Here at the farm the days are very short.  I really hate these dark days and look forward to the lengthening days again.  The cold has set in and we had a blizzard on Saturday and Sunday.  Thankfully, the farm came out of it much better than last year's blizzard, with no major livestock losses.  A couple chickens that couldn't be found to put in the henhouse and one little rabbit, but all else was well, though not thrilled with the weather.  And now it is cold, with wind chills below zero.  Ugh.

But, at least we have power now, having lost power during the blizzard for nearly 24 hours.  Thankfully, our house is very well insulated (especially for an old farmhouse!) so the temperature only got down to 60 - which is what we set it back to at night.  And we still had gas for the stovetop, so that got us through.  We even melted snow for cooking water - with no electricity, our well couldn't pull more water up after it emptied the tank, so we didn't have water after a while.  When it got dark, we lit candles, and played a game from A Christmas Carol - "yes and no" - kind of like 20 Questions, and then charades.  For the most part, we didn't notice too much difference during the day, but it was a bit eerie to have no power at night and have no clue when we might get it back.  It made us really appreciate having it back on!!!!

We are getting ready for Christmas, continuing with decluttering and paring down.  I keep posting things on craigslist and trying to add to our adoption fund.  It is slow going this time of year as there are just so many expenses.  We are doing a pretty simple Christmas, but there is always something!  We have a very simple Christmas tree - with ten kittens in the house, we didn't put on any of our breakable ornaments as I just know that kittens will end up in the tree!!!!  It wasn't worth the stress of worrying about it or of trying to keep kittens out.  If the tree falls over, it is easy enough to put back up, and actually it looks quite nice!  Though it is surprising to see a kitten peering out from the branches!  The kids were telling ghost stories and one of the kittens reached out from inside the tree to swat Zeri as he sat on the floor in front of it!!!  Just imagine!  I giggle every time I think of it.  Does that make me a mean mom?

I wish I had news to report on the adoption front, but we are sitting quietly.  I struggle so hard with wanting to see things move forward and to consider adopting internationally again.  But, that doesn't seem to be where God has placed us at this point.

Well, we are preparing for the January arrival of the kids' show chickens.  They come as day old chicks in early January and we raise them in brooders until it is warm enough for them to go outside - which is generally April or so.  We are hoping to put them in a brooder in the new barn, but we are still working on that project.  Otherwise they will be in brooders in the basement again.  Ugh.  But, with a fieldstone basement, it isn't like putting them in a finished basement - our basement is primarily used for storage.  It is so much fun to see the chicks grow and see what breeds they are.  We always get a mixed batch, so we aren't able to identify them all as babies.  They grow really fast, so they are only cute and fuzzy for a little while before they start growing in their pin feathers, which makes them really, really ugly. 

So, that is our next big project in our calendar year.  Plays are done until January or so, which is kind of a relief.  It is nice to be at home at night most nights!  I am still writing, working on it as regularly as I can.  Kiley is working at a stable and that keeps her busy and actually quite happy in the doldrums of winter when it is difficult to ride her own horse.  Faith and Tsion are busy with artwork and redecorating their room.  Hopefully tonight I will finish their new clothes storage system and we can get that put up.  Aman is enjoying choir at church, Zeri and Alex helping with camera crew.  Ben and Solly enjoy football in the snow and generally keep busy puttering with things.  But life is a bit slower right now, for which I am very grateful.  Time to get caught up on some things, get some projects done, and just be.

I hope you can enjoy this time of year for its true purpose.  It is so easy to get caught up in all the "to do"s of the season.  I am terrible at that, but trying to stay focused on my family this year.  We will have Christmas dinner at our house, which actually does simplify things for us quite a bit.  How I will do it with all the dumb kittens, I am not sure, but at this point I am not quite ready to kick them all out to the barn, though honestly, I am close.  If you know anyone who wants a kitten, get in touch with me!!!!  LOL!!  They are sweet, but NO ONE needs this many cats!  Our cats are getting fixed as funds allow, so this won't happen again.  But the diversion in dark days isn't too bad either.

God bless!!!!
"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Life keeps moving!!!!

I don't know if I have much to share.  We are on the rollercoaster of the adoption world.

We are being presented to another family who is expecting a Down Syndrome little girl and is not able to parent her.  I am trying so hard not to get too excited.  We have been presented several times now, but if this comes together, the baby is expected late December/early January.  The agency that contacted us was thrilled with us as a prospective family for this child, and we are able to agree to what the birth family would like - which is to meet us/talk to us prior to the birth, and to have an open adoption.  I know that the agency is pleased, but what the birth family might think is unknown.

I am trying not to get too focused or think too much, but we so hope this might be our daughter.  Okay, Steve, being a guy isn't totally focused on this - generally he waits to commit himself emotionally until things are a go.  Probably a good thing, given the ups and downs and peaks and valleys.  I am not so good at that.

I am the one who could not keep any pregnancy a secret or any exciting event.  I try not to think too much about possibilities, but I am also the one who is "keeper of the schedule" such that it is.  If we are traveling several states away, or I and/or Steve are going to be gone, things must be arranged.  I am one of those people who likes to have things somewhat sorted out so I have a plan on how I might get it all managed.

So, we are trying to keep in mind that we are open at any time for a huge change in our lives.  We have decided to directly finish all our fundraising/funds collecting as soon as possible, in order to be ready any time we are needed.  Thankfully, once we turned it over to God, he has shown his hand.  Our prayers have always been that he would make his will very clear.  We prayed, responded to the call we got, agreed to be presented, and have asked God to show up if it is his will.  Well, ladies from a bible study I have been part of had an envelope for me, with funds to seed our progress in an adoption!  And they have let others know of the goal.  And a lady I have never met responded yet again.  I sent a total sum to our agency, that totaled what I had gotten in the envelope, added in a five dollar refund check, and in faith sent another $20.  This is one of those weeks that it is a reach.  But I sent it. And then the lady I have never met sent exactly what we needed to cover the extra.  I am stepping out in faith again and sending that total amount plus some tomorrow.  We are nickel and dime-ing it, but we are making forward progress.  It is a tiny drop in the bucket of what we could need by the end of December, but it is forward progress.  God has made his will very clear and direct.  Literally day to day.

So, we are open to what might happen.  If this one does not go through, we will have assembled funds and continue to assemble funds so we will have the amount in total as soon as possible, whenever God decides.

You will notice a button on the left sidebar that is labeled "want to help?".  Any funds donated go directly to a special needs adoption.  Not to budget, not to toys, not to clothing, directly to an adoption fund.  If for some reason we are unable to adopt, all funds will be donated to a family who is in process to adopt.

On that note, we are seeing other families being called to adopt and are so blessed to be walking with them on this road.  It is very daunting for most, not only to consider parenting children they have never met, but to look at the funding needed.  Most families don't look at having that amount just hanging around.  So, the reality is that somehow, this money must be located or earned or whatever.  We are teaming up with families not only to lend our knowledge and experience, but to tangibly band together to help fund adoptions.  My dream is that we could make a system where we could fund a homestudy for a family, and when their child is home and they get their adoption tax credit the next tax year, that they would then put the money back so another homestudy could be funded for another family.  Once a homestudy is done, then the family can apply for grants and loans and what not.  But sometimes getting the homestudy done can seem like the first big stumbling block.  We shall see where this goes.  Right now we are hoping to work with several families to help them get going on the financial and paperwork end.  We shall see where God takes this!

I am also going to do a post shortly about adoptive parents and how we feel about our children and God's will.  It is a bit complex and I don't have a simple answer, so I hope you check back so I can explain more fully!  It has been on my mind a lot lately, and I hope I can put it in a way that makes sense.

There will be more fun posts, but thought I would let you in on the rollercoaster.  Winter is coming and we have more that we need to get done, but I don't know if that ever changes!  We still are hoping to get kittens to new homes (hint, hint), but things are settled down - or at least will be once our plays are done!

Kiley and I am in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and that opens this Thursday and runs through Sunday.  We have seven performances and so are very tied up with that.  Kiley makes an amazing Imogene and I cannot wait to hear what folks think about it.  (I am just one of the telephone ladies, the same one I was last year, but am having fun with it, and I think doing better.)

Alex and Zeri both have smaller parts in A Christmas Carol, that runs the first two weekends of December.  And Faith, Solomon and Tsion have parts in the church Christmas play.

(Hubby looks over and says "Good gracious, quite a long post."  But I never seem to do these in short blurbs.  Oh, well, I guess I ramble on!)
Goodnight!
"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

God certainly knows what he is doing!

I shared at the end of my last post how hard it is to be in the position to wait to be needed.  You know how sometimes you just beg God for a view from above to "get it"?  Well, today I got a bit of a view.

We had been presented to a birth family a while back - we have been presented to at least three that we know of in the last four months - and there were only two families presented.  It seemed like a good chance, right?  Well, I follow lots of blogs, and I recognized when I read one of the blogs, that they were obviously the other family and had been selected by the birth family (we knew the place, baby's sex, due date, diagnosis, etc).  I went through a bit of time trying so hard to not be jealous of them, praying that God would grant me the spirit of peace about it, that there were reasons, and this child was not the one who needed us.  But it was hard.  At times my arms ache more than I think I can tolerate, the helpless feeling totally overwhelms me and I just want to DO SOMETHING!!!!  But, I was able to follow their journey and see photos of the baby.  

Well, today I was checking in on their blog.  This baby is in the hospital several states from here, has been from birth and it looks like he will be for at least another month.  The parents are traveling back and forth, switching off with their crew at home and their son in the NICU.  Oh, my!  And we are even farther away!!!  We would do exactly the same thing, but the stress!!!  The needs of our kids, the financial stress of the travel and all, the entire situation.  

I literally felt like God was saying "This would be so very difficult on your family, this would be too much.  This child and situation is not for you.  I have a better plan that is better for all ten in your family."  The peace I got was finally the peace I had begged for.  This was not our plan or our walk.  The weight off my shoulders, the feelings of envy were totally gone.  I could see the big picture.  We were not chosen for God's good and divine reason, his plans for the best for us.  Not that we could not find a way to do what needed to be done, but it was not our walk (and I was so relieved).  I have prayed for that family, but now I pray for them with an entirely new outlook and heart.  I don't know how they do it.  I don't know how we could possibly do it.  We couldn't move all of us there, we have the farm, the kids need me here, on and on.  I know that God could create a way.  I KNOW that he would if he called us to it, but today, I am so grateful that he didn't.

I still have arms that ache and an empty crib, but I know that my dearest Lord knows what is best for us, for all of us, and won't let us rush into something that would be harmful or not his plan for our growth.  I am at peace with that. 

And still waiting for the phone to ring with "the CALL", but I am trusting that God has his plan for our family.  

So, we are redecorating (in a very simple and functional way), enjoying our youngest daughter's 11th birthday today - now we officially have four 11 year olds! - and trying to continue our fundraising, decluttering, visiting resale shops (to drop things off), and enjoying life.  We have had some little visitors and really learned a lot and solidified what we believe in about child rearing, and have enjoyed it.  I hope we have been a blessing to the little visitors and we sure were blessed.
"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rainy, lovely fall day!!!!

Today has been one of those inside days on the farm.  We actually haven't had too many of them, and after the off kilter way our week went, it was welcome.

Wednesday night, Steve's car died.  Or rather the repairs needed are too costly for the age and mileage of the vehicle, at least for the amount of driving he does for work.  The best option is likely a used, rebuilt engine to replace the one in there.  Ugh. And he puts on about 1000 miles a week.  Not a reliable option for the breadwinner in our family.

We worked really hard to stay calm, have faith and see what God allowed to pan out.

Easier said than done, obviously.

He was able to work from home for Thursday and Friday, which was a huge blessing as Friday was Ben's birthday.  We ended up looking at used cars at a dealership - hooked up by an adoptive dad who works there to a salesman who is himself adopted!  It is the same place we bought Steve's last car, which we definitely got our money's worth from.  And we had very few problems, nothing beyond what you might expect given the amount of work the car did!  So, it seemed reasonable to go back.  

We hate the thought of a car payment, but we know that it will be for a very limited time, likely just until March.  I would say that the only benefit we will see from the health care bill is the part about the adoption tax credit.  But, to know that we will only make a couple payments and then pay off the car really makes the thought much easier to handle.  

So, we now glance out in to our driveway and think that someone is here, until we realize that it is Steve's new car!  A 2009 Nissan Versa.  Nice little car, very low miles, great gas mileage, and new enough that we can rest easy knowing that he is not likely to have troubles getting to and from his job, which is very important to our family!

The kids are thrilled, love the "cool" car that Dad now drives.  I just refuse to think about how much it cost!  Ugh.  But it is priceless for Steve to get to work!  

So, yesterday, prior to picking up the "new" car, I took the kids to a ceramics shop.  We have been meaning to go for ages, the kids want to learn how and then have another item to show for 4H at the county fair.  But we have never gotten around to it, sadly.  So, I decided to make an appointment, put it on the calendar and get us there this year.  We need some new things to do during cold weather when we get cooped up a bit more.  

Anyway, we make up a class ourselves, so I called and explained that we wanted to learn it from the ground up, so we really knew all about the process and how things are done.  Not to mention that on freecycle last year we acquired ceramic molds (still am not sure how we can use those, but I intend to learn!) and some greenware for ceramics!  

Well, we had a blast!  The very nice lady there took us around, explained that we should select something simpler to start with, but she would help us find the right pieces as well as something we liked.  She showed us the difference between greenware and bisque, and then helped us choose pieces that weren't too difficult for our experience.  Then once all of us (eight kids and me) had picked a piece, she got out the tools and showed us how to clean the seams off, and get it well done.  We really had fun.  Now our items are being fired, and on Monday we get to go back and start the glazing processes.  We haven't learned too much about that yet, I know that there are many, many options.  Everyone is very excited to get that part going!  Faith has told me about ten times that she is so excited for Monday!

Well, with the rain, we pulled out the greenware that we had gotten from freecycle and I and various of the kids throughout the day have worked on that.  Our piano bench is still a bit dusty from our work, but will be all wiped down soon.  We completed a complete nativity set, plus extra pieces - a bunch of sheep - the kids thought a full herd was appropriate.  There was even an R2 D2, a couple cute mice, a couple smurfs (hee, hee!), a vase and a bunch of balls for Christmas ornaments.  Now we have an entire box carefully boxed up to come with us on Monday, where it will get fired so we can do the glazing another time.  The kids already have other items that they saw that they want to do, so it appears we have a new hobby going at our house!

It is nostalgic to me for several reasons.  My grandmother did lots of ceramics when I was growing up and I have pieces throughout my house that she did for me over the years.  She passed away more than a year ago, and I miss her.  I bet she is just giggling at watching her granddaughter and her great-grandkids enjoying the same hobby she loved for so long.  And I had done a little when I was in middle school (a billion years ago) and really loved.  So, it means a bit more to me, maybe.

And to follow up on our last post, thank you everyone who ordered for our fundraiser!  We raised $225 towards our fees at Bethany Christian Services for another adoption.  I love the pendants so much, and friends have showed me some that they bought and they are so happy with them!  That is such a great thing - a win for everyone all around.  

With the colder weather (and sitting through more play practices) I am working on more knitting projects - some for Christmas if I can get them figured out, and finishing up the granny square afghan that I started when we were expecting our little guy last spring.  I still cannot take down the crib we put up for him, and still have his photo in the crib in a really nice frame that says "family".  Some days it seems surreal, and some days it just is something that has happened.  I find myself wondering what he might be doing now had he lived.  He would have been about seven months old now.  I just cannot imagine.

And now it is just hard to wait to be needed again.  But, I have decided to finish up the blanket, and see what God wants to do with it.  If it will wrap around a baby of ours, or if it will wrap around some other baby.  I am sure that God will make it clear.  
"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, October 15, 2010

Today is the DAY!!!!

Today is our Etsy fundraiser for our special needs adoption!!!

What we are finding is that we have to have the entire funds put away for when the call comes, as often these babies are placed at birth when it is found that they have special needs.  We got an email today about a baby born earlier this week, but would need to be on a plane TODAY!!!  Um, yep, this isn't our baby. 

So, our funds go to first our adoption agency, when their bill is done, then it goes into a fund at the bank to wait for THE CALL so we can be ready on literally a moment's notice. 

Oswald Adoption Fundraiser

You MUST note in the notes section at the checkout that this is for the Oswald Adoption, and it MUST be a purchase of a necklace (or more than one????).  We receive $5 for each necklace sold today only.  Please consider shopping for Christmas.  Her prices on necklaces are $10.75, so they are really affordable and are just beautiful!  Please feel free to pass this on to anyone who may be interested in this!  Whether for shopping or adoption or whatever!!!!

Thanks so much, praying for provision!
Christy


"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A farming post....

Did you ever run into one of those days where you really wanted to do more than you were able to?

This time I don't mean adoption - we are still working on that, in fact, I have another Etsy fundraiser sale going on Friday, I will post a link if you want to do your Christmas shopping!  Sara's Treasure Box sells the most beautiful jewelry and it is really inexpensive.  We benefit from sales of necklaces on Friday, October 15th, if Oswald Adoption Fundraiser is listed in the notes section.  Her necklaces generally run $10.75 and $5 will go towards our special needs adoption!  So, it is really affordable, I have ordered several (for other people's adoption fundraisers) that I have stashed away for Christmas presents!  Here is the address: 

http://www.etsy.com/shop/sarahstreasurebox

So, go shopping on Friday, October 15th and mention the Oswald family!  You will love Sarah's stuff, and support her efforts to help special needs children get to loving homes!

Anyway, today I have two sick kiddos, so we are at home.  I am not sure if I will be able to get the other kids to church or not, given hubby is working far away and has a late meeting.  Oh, well.  God must have known that we needed a day of gathering ourselves.

Of course that means that Kiley (one of the sick ones) is snuggled down in my bed, surfing craigslist. 

Sigh.

Given the economy, there are so many horses for sale, many at what is typically considered fabulous prices (if not free or nearly so!).  And, in the last two months we have bought two that way (oh, yeah, kids joined together to save two yearling arab fillies that needed a new home), and then were involved in a huge rescue effort to get five abused animals out of a bad situation.  So, there are three donkeys, a mule and some sort of small draft gelding added to our herd - to bring it to a grand total of : SEVENTEEN!!!!!!

Yeah, seventeen.

More than we planned, more than certainly we need, but they needed a place. 

We are working on training and gentling them and it is rewarding for everyone. 

So, if we were independently wealthy, had a big barn and an unending supply of hay, we could be really busy!  All the "green" horses are up for sale now as people tighten their belts.  I totally get it, you have to face priorities.  If the market ever turns around, whoever has gotten these animals trained to good saddle horses could make a mint (that always appeals to my husband's thoughts).  But, we aren't.  Thank goodness!!!!

So, we are out loving on animals and teaching them that we are trustworthy!  To watch an animal that large gentle and begin to trust you reminds you of how important trust is, how easily it is lost, and how hard it is to win back.  In human relationships that is just as important.  If we can trust someone, we can do anything. 

Kiley's now three year old mule Polly is a good example of that.  Polly came to us as a six month old filly.  She was skittish at first, but then became just like a large puppy dog, and grew and grew.  She is now fifteen hands high, and built big - her daddy was a Mammoth Jack, her mama a Haflinger mare.  So, Polly is a big girl as you would expect.  But she thinks she is a big snuggly thing.  Kiley has gotten her trust so completely that in one day she was able to introduce her to a saddle blanket, a saddle, a girth and stirrups, and get her all saddled up with the girth tightened with nary a flick of her huge ears.  And then the next day, she put a bridle on her for the first time!  Complete with a bit!  And went on to mount and take a few steps on this huge animal that had never carried anything on her back!  That is trust.  And it was rewarded and not disappointed. 

That is the way it should work in all areas, shouldn't it.

Which does make it a little odd when we butcher our chickens.  Hmmmm....  

But we are really humane about it anyway. 

Okay, so I am still in a bit of a quandry about that one, but they are really there for food, right?

Okay, so that is my struggle as a city-girl turned farmer.....  LOL.  I think.

But, boy, they taste really good, and they enjoy their free ranging lives while they live it!  Doing what chickens are meant to do - chasing bugs, each other, eating, enjoying dust baths and sunshine. 

So, now I have rationalized myself back into it.  Plus the practicalities of our health and my children's always hungry bellies!  LOL! 

Isn't life funny?

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I hate cancer!

Today, the world lost a great man of faith - Clint Hungerford.  Most people in the world will never know his name, but I remember him.  I haven't seen him since I was 13 - and I am WAY older than that now.  But he lived out his life in faith, raised his family as best he could, and left memories in my mind of a steadfast faith.

I know that my Dad met him at the gates of heaven today to welcome him home.  Those two were such great friends, raising kids at the same time, in the same church, helping to build onto it - that is the kind of memories I have from before my sixth year of life.  We moved away but never lost touch, and I saw Clint again after my dad's death.  And our families have kept in touch one way or the other since.

So, here is my rant!  Cancer stinks - the lung cancer (and no, he didn't smoke) may not have taken him, but the toll on him from the treatment did.  Another family is grieving, a wonderful man taken from this world too soon.  But, we all have hope - and the knowledge that we do not grieve in vain - we will see our loved ones again.  We can be thankful and secure that Clint (as my dad) were steadfast in their salvation in Christ, whatever their human failings.  For in Christ, we can rest secure in our hope and our love.  Christ loves us, no matter our flaws, and though we try to be perfect, Christ loves us as the striving people we are.  I am so very far from perfect, but I know that Christ accepts me as I am, and for him, I will forever strive to do better.  Thank you Lord, for welcoming home a dear friend today.  I am rejoicing that his pain is over, that his body is healed, healthy and disease and pain free.  I am rejoicing that he is finally where he was created to be, home with God.  I am grief stricken for his family who now is going to live without this wonderful man.  God will hold them up, and we will keep praying for them. 

So, for all the small heroes out there - know that you are not forgotten - you may think your life is normal and small, but it has far reaching consequences, including a person you knew as a child, who still remembers you as a great man of faith. 

Clint, I want to tell you that your life showed Christ's love.  That I saw it, even as a child, in the little things you did.  I remember, and you might think that I might not. 

The Hungerford family (and all the married names of Clint's daughters - I don't know them all) our prayers are with you, I am shedding tears with you, nothing compared to the tears you are shedding.  You will be in our prayers and thoughts for quite some time.  You stood alongside our family when my dad died and have always been there for us.  We can and do understand what you are going through.  Cancer is a terrible thing - it took first my dad and now Clint.  But both are home in heaven with our Lord - there is no greater joy.  We will be praying for you all!  Hugs and love,
Christy

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Storefront open!!!!!!!

http://www.amazon.com/shops/AHWYV3O7YI3RA

This is my Amazon storefront and it is open now!!!! 

We are getting pretty aggressive about our store as we are fundraising/working to raise fees to adopt a special needs infant from the US.  There is a situation we are working on now, and honestly, the issue is funds rather than anything else.  Literally, every other thing is in place! 

So, if you are interested in books, please check out our storefront and order anything that interests you!!!  I try to keep our prices reasonable and generally they are lower than all the other prices out there!  (We are all book addicts so we have a huge inventory and are looking to find books new homes as well!!!!)

I will share more as this journey progresses, but at this point, if God wills, we could be traveling to another, warmer state near the Christmas holidays to bring home our baby girl, if God puts it all in place.  All I can do is my part, which is taking things a step at a time! 

If you have any other suggestions for fundraising, please let me know and I will gladly pursue them!

On a different note, life is good!!!!  We actually are enjoying the fall weather and have been so blessed with weather and fun!  I am so grateful to be working from home, my kids are so wonderful and we have so much learning going on!!!  And renovations to our classroom and home!!!  Whoo-hoo!  Thank goodness it is all things that we can do ourselves!  Everyone is learning new skills and the work times are filled with laughter and lots of neat conversation!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, August 30, 2010

Today

Today was our first day of trying to build back a routine.

All things considered it went fairly well.  Two kids did math and made good progress, we got some things reorganized and cleaned out, hauled goodies for our goats, got two kids to work, got one kid to soccer practice and even got going on watermelon rind pickles!  And one kid rode her pony.  And I even read a little!  We also watched a neat video on Martin Luther - "Martin, God loves you!".  I learned a lot and it gave us lots to talk about.  A very good start, laid back and non-stressful, and a very good step back onto our path!

Do you ever wish God would just send you a little view into what is going to come?  I am in place of just wanting a slight vision to see that everything will work out.  And by "everything" I actually have no idea exactly what I mean.

Finances, yes.

Remodeling, yes.

Childrearing, yes.

Professional life - yes, though I think that is basically done for now, just doing a little to supplement the income, but primarily being a professional mom.  (Love that job by the way!)

We are in a season of transition (aren't we always?) and I am just taking it a day at a time.  And perhaps that is the answer.  God provides enough for each day.  Maybe I have been trying to see too much.  Trying to have too many things laid out.  Maybe the everyday miracles are huge, but missed when we look too far ahead.

So, here is to a day of everyday miracles - clean laundry, loving kids (and squabbling kids - you always get both sooner or later), house cleaning one corner at a time, kittens rolling on the floor, the scent of a horse, kids learning new things, simple pleasures.  Thanks God, though could you turn the heat down a little?

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11



Trying to get our routine back - again!

Well, it has been an amazing bit of time on our homestead!

I have finished out the last contract for work - which means I should be down to a much lighter schedule, which is much needed by everyone!  The kids have been fabulous with helping out and pitching in, but it has been a long stretch.  I think we have totally paid for the new bathroom.  Whew.  As soon as that last paycheck comes in.  Yay!  It was a long, hard stretch and we were all showing the strain.

So, I feel like I have gone to heaven, thinking of being home most of the time now!

Tomorrow we start getting our regular routine back - starting schooling again for all eight, continuing working on our homestead, training horses, riding, and on and on.

I have promised my husband that I will do more writing now, and this is the beginning of my efforts to do so.  I am hoping to set aside an hour a day, one way or the other to write.  I have several things in the works, and will be working on those as well as blogging more.

So,  the big events are typical for this time of year in the Frozen Tundra - at least for those of us who try to somewhat farm.  We are preparing for winter.

Sigh.

We all know that it is coming.  It is inevitable.

It will be cold, it will be long, and at times it will be hard on us and the animals we care for.

So, each year, we prepare.

We do whatever we can to improve things, and each year it gets better.

This year there is a lot, but I guess every year there is.
This year, we are have a lot of things we are trying to get done.  Sigh.

The rabbits moved out of the old rabbitry in our old garage (loosely called that).  We built all new rabbit hutches with nesting boxes along one side of the house and moved the kids' rabbits over to that.  It is really nice.  I call it the 'rabbit taj mahal'.  The rabbits are very happy, to say the least.  And they will be wonderfully set for winter!

The garage is being converted into goat housing. Problem is that the 'garage' has slipped from some of the foundation and dropped into the the ground by about six inches at one entire end of the building.

Yep that is a problem.  All sorts of things kitty whampus.

Well, we read about how to restore old buildings, to renovate and make them strong again.  Books make sense, but I always worry.  You know, when you go to do a home renovation project, it always takes three times as long as you think it will, and costs at least double if not more.  So, lifting a garage and putting in new sill plates and supporting the foundation seems like quite a challenge, regardless of how relatively simple it sounds in a book!

Hah!

For once, the book was right, and even better, while it took a while to do it, it wasn't terrible to do!  The garage went up, the bent siding straightened, and we were able to dig out the foundation.  And get the building supported!  Imagine chains holding a building together, three car jacks lifting, and a lot of amazed looks!  It worked!

The best way then to hold it all together (outside of the chains on the outside of the building), is to then support the inside as it is all straight.  So, insulation goes in, plywood interior walls go up, and the building is held together firmly.

Amazing!

So, we are still putting up the insulation and interior sheeting (plywood), so the chains are still around the building, but it is all coming together!  Can we all say "whoo-hoo"?

With a three day weekend coming up, I expect we just might get it done....  And maybe even get some goat stalls assembled in there.

So, I will be calling an electrician to help us run electrical to the barn!!!!!  Because that is what it will be!  A real goat barn!!!!  With heat lamps, heated water buckets and all.  Ready for winter babies!

And on another topic - we had a great "gotcha day" for Tsion, Aman and Ben last week.  Nothing fancy, just a nice dinner out to celebrate.  And on Wednesday we will celebrate Zeri and Ben's third "gotcha day" with dinner at the Pizza Hut buffet - that is their request.  Sounds good to me!  I don't know if it is harder to believe that it has only been one year and three years, or that it has been one year and three years.  I cannot imagine life without a single one of our kids, and they are all doing so well overall.  We have the general struggles that all parents have, but really nothing unusual, and our kids know how much we love them, through the good times and the bad.  We are so blessed, and we know it.

I am in total denial that my first baby is going to be 16 very, very soon.  Ugh.  I was just remembering him as a baby the other night as I drove home with him.  This big, gangly boy, taller than me by several inches at least, turning into a man right before my eyes.  How does this happen?  Wow.

I remember my trip cross country, pregnant with him, a single mom, hoping I was going to be good for him, that I could do everything he needed, going home to be by family.  We needed more than just I could give him.  The moment I saw that positive pregnancy test, I knew that I had made the last mistake that I would do carelessly and that from then on, what I did was not about me, it was about that innocent child I carried.  He came first, before I ever saw his little face.  He turned my life around, away from selfishness, back to my faith and God, and into reality.  It was no longer a game.  And it turned into the best thing ever.

We were so very blessed.  God gave me the best husband ever, and he wasted no time in doing that.  I am so lucky.  God sure is something else!

Well, time to sleep! I will be cleaning and reorganizing and getting us back into our groove.

Oh, by the way, I took the first digger in a while - silly me.  The three year old mule that has only been sat on a couple times was out in the pasture.  Well, I decided to climb on.  Got on too fast, too hard, and she took off at a trot and me grabbing onto her mane to stay on bareback didn't help things any.  I wisely decided to disembark before her freaked out trot became a full fledged panicked gallop across the pasture.  By the way, she is tall.  The ground is hard, and I had my hands so tightly wound into her mane that in order to get my fingers free, I took a big hunk of her beautiful black mane with me.  Oh, well!  Thankfully, I didn't give myself anything more than an ache or two (mostly from my fingers) - oh and to make it worse - I lasted right in a fresh pile of manure!  Several acres of pasture, most of it very free of odoriferous material, and I landed right in a fresh pile, and managed to coat one whole leg.  It was very funny, once I convinced hubby and kids that I really was just fine.  So, I can scratch that off my list for the year!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11



Saturday, August 28, 2010

Please help bless this family!!!!!!

Please go to this blog post and see how God might move your heart!  An amazing family and true miracles happening!


http://forevernevernalways1.blogspot.com/2010/08/are-you-all-ready.html


"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pantry renovation!!!

So, I am working on figuring out this thing about putting photos on my blog.  We shall see if I can get it!  Bear with me please as I work on it!

We have lots of projects in the works - since Extreme Makeover Home Edition did not show up here, we are continuing getting our stuff done!  (Imagine that said very tongue in cheek!)

There are many, many outside projects going on, getting ready for winter, but there are also some inside.

Well this weekend the saw was working hot and heavy and while for a bit there wasn't a ton that I could do, all that wood was calling my name.  So, I went to work on "Extreme Makeover Pantry Edition"!!! 

We had gotten some wood from my folks that had been planed from trees cut down for the building of their new house when Alex was a baby.  And we had never quite designated what exactly it was for, but knew we would come up with something neat.  Well, this was the day!

The wood had bark on the edges and a very clean rustic look.  So, I made off with it, commandeered a tape measure and went to work. 

My pantry had never quite fit right, we always jammed so much stuff in it, and my huge cooking pots fit absolutely NOWHERE in our house.  But we use them constantly!  So, knowing what I wanted to use my pantry for, I designed my own.  Alex was primarily my helper (or better read that as the "one I grabbed to help me with this").  We got the measurements and went to work!  And what do you know, the first shelf worked beautifully and looked exactly like I dreamed.  I tried putting some things on it to determine where I wanted the next shelf down.  And we went on from there! 

I have never built shelves before and was very proud of myself.  Now you have to understand, they are very simple, boards on support frames basically, but they work great for what I needed and added SOOOOO much room to our pantry - and I left the perfect spot for my big pots, right no the floor, easily fit under the lowest shelf designed exactly for that purpose!!!!  Alex says that it was spooky - though I eyeballed how far down I wanted each shelf, he measured and each shelf is 11 inches below the other!!!

So, with  no further ado, here is my new pantry!!!  I think it is beautiful, but then I am biased!
Hey, I think the photo worked!!!!!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, August 13, 2010

The sock monster

I don't know if you experience this at your house, but I just cannot believe that we are the only ones who deal with socks magically disappearing, never to find a mate again.

It seems that we spend a great deal of laundry time (or at least post laundry time) with our sock basket trying to match up all the socks.  When we are folding laundry, clean socks get tossed into the sock basket (basically because no one wants to do socks).  And somehow, then getting pairs to members of the family seems to be a hopeless task.

At least once a week (I hope) I dump out the basket, and start sorting.  It is a huge pile (since there are ten of us).  So I sort it into long and short socks and colored socks.  From there it is broken down into other distinctions to help narrow down the possibilities.  And I still end up using most of the living room floor to spread things out so I can see all the socks so I can find the mates.  Needless to say this is a process, and to make it endurable, I put on something I like to watch/listen to, like History Detectives or Naked Archeologist or something like that.  I actually consider it bribery, to myself.

And then after socks are matched up, then you have to match them with the owner.  Yet another circus.

So many of the kids wear the same sizes and similar socks.  And take mine too!

Not a fine tuned system but limping along.

It used to be that we put dots on the toe of each sock to designate the owner - one dot for the oldest child, two for the next and on down. 

Yeah, well, putting eight dots on a sock is ridiculous.  And time consuming.  And ridiculous.

We stopped that after we had more than five children.  It worked with five, but even five dots got cumbersome.

And now sock sorting/obtaining is just a pain in the patotie (is that really a word?).

The newest plan was to get all new socks for each member of the family - a different style for each person.

Yeah, but there are ten of us. 

That's a lot of distinctive styles to find and then remember who has which one.

Ugh.  And costly.

Well, I found socks on sale today.  And today was payday. 

So, I talked to each kid, got a vote on the kind of sock he/she likes,  and got the best deal I could.  Even on sale, that is a pricey trip!

Well, when I got home, we matched up each kid with their chosen socks, and then put their initials on each sock that belongs to them. 

Now, the hope is that this will make matching a lot easier and accurate, as well as everyone needed new socks anyway.

I will let you know how it goes.  Though I do forsee my kids having to explain why there are letters on their socks.  I hope they come up with something more creative than "Mom is trying to beat the sock monster"!

LOL!  Just another interesting day to day challenge of raising a large family.

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Crazy Love Challenge!!!

A very nice reader of my blog recommended that I visit "A Place Called Simplicity" and take a look at their Crazy Love challenge, that it might be something for us.

I have followed this blog for a while, but actually am way behind on following blogs.  It is summer on the farm and very busy as always!  I keep thinking that one season is busier than another, but in reality they are just different kinds of busy!  Summer is planting and tending and harvesting, soccer and fair, work and building.  And warm weather fun in there too!  Fall is preparing for winter, storing up produce, hay and making sure our buildings for people and houses are ready for winter, as well as fall soccer season, plays beginning again, and all the usual (including school, but we aim to do that year round).  Winter is projects inside - that is the time to strip and redo the floors - but the hard work of caring for animals and ourselves in cold weather, making sure that the animals do well in the harder season, lots of school and inside projects.  Spring is baby animals, mud, preparing for planting and planting, lots of building and reorganizing as we transition back to outside spaces. 

It is all different kinds of busy.

So, anyway, I haven't been really active on following blogs because I tend to not sit down too much!!  LOL!

But this wonderful reader had seen what another blogger was doing to challenge folks to support adoption!
A Place Called Simplicity: Crazy Love Challenge

Honestly there is so much we all can do, by just doing a little to support adoption, whether we are adopting, thinking about it, wanting to help families who do, are impacted by adoption or have a heart for orphans. 

I hate to post a need, but that is part of the request from the blogger.

We are in the midst of a hopeful adoption.  Our homestudy is done and we are awaiting a very special referral.  It is our heart that so many families want to adopt babies, healthy babies.  We have a huge heart for special needs children, and after all the years of God working on us, taking us places we never thought we would go in our lives, He has brought us to a place where we know that we can offer so much to a child with special needs.  And with the support system of a large loving family, we have the resources to lay out a lifelong support for a child who will have lifelong challenges. 

We have turned it back over to God - years ago we had said "yes we could do 'this', but not 'that'", and now we have come to realize that that "that" is exactly what we are to do, and to do with joy.  How God arranges that, I am forever in awe.  But it is a road we so want to walk.

So, here we are, waiting.  We have been told that for a domestic special needs adoption, we will need around $7000 all total, maybe a bit more with attorney fees.  Our homestudy is done, but if the phone rings, we need to have those funds available.  We have seen God provide every step of the way in each adoption.  We can provide all the care, all the day to day, cover all those expenses, but the fees we don't have right now. 

So, I sell on Amazon, on craigslist, and wherever I can.  We are working on downsizing as much as we can, there is so much that we don't use on a regular basis - you just never think about it.  In other words, we are being fiscally responsible!  In the last two weeks, I have saved $88 at the grocery store using coupons on double coupon day - a great friend has been teaching me this!  I still take extra hours, but am very looking forward to that being done soon.  I sock away every little bit! 

I know that God continues to provide.  The money we need now is such a small fraction compared to what we raised for our other children, it almost seems irrelevant, except it isn't.

So, anyway, go to the link, see her challenge.  Pray for families and children.  If there is any little bit you can do, know that it helps and really adds up!  Remember the loaves and the fishes!  I have seen God take our "little" and make it so much more!

We choose to live simply, raise our kids, work hard and love everyone we can!  Anyway, go to A Place Called Simplicity and browse her blog - it is wonderful.

And, for those of you who wonder what I look like, I will post a photo.  There are very few that I actually like, so you are unlikely to see too many, but I will give it a try here!  Steve took portraits of everyone one day this spring after a guitar recital and they turned out really nice!

Want to see some more?  I will try to get them on here tomorrow!!!!!

God bless you all, and get some sleep!  I am headed to bed!!!


"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Gideon and the fleece.

I don't know if you are familiar with the story of Gideon and the fleeces in the book of Judges in the Bible.  But basically, Gideon was a chicken of a man whom God called to be a "mighty warrior".  Needless to say, Gideon was a bit skeptical.  (I am totally paraphrasing by the way, any errors are entirely mine.)

Well, Gideon prayed to God and said "If this is from you, then the sheep fleece that I put out on the ground will not be covered with dew in the morning though all around it will be."  And so it was.  And then he put out a fleece again, saying "God, if this is from you, then the fleece will be wet with dew in the morning, and all around it will be dry.".  Again, I may have my paraphrasing wrong, but it is basically the same.  I am tired, I know I have the gist of it right, and it is too late and there is too much to tell you to go look it up.

Basically, Gideon challenged God to show that the message that Gideon got was of God, not of Gideon's own imagination.

So, today, I have spent a lot of time driving in order to work.  We live in WI and I today worked in MI.  So I spent lots of time on the road - hence lots of time to think and to listen to tapes and music and what not. 

I was listening to a great series by Joyce Meyer.  Included in there was about hearing from God.

In the last few weeks, it has become apparent that although it makes perfect sense in the world's economy for me to work outside the home, that it makes no sense for our family and is actually costing us more than we are gaining.  Again, makes no sense in the world's economy - stands to reason that working outside the home should help us - right? 

Today, while listening to lots of teachings, I "threw out the fleece".  I know that we are not to challenge God, but once again, we are considering stepping outside of what makes sense to "the world".  And it is scary! 

So, I told God (as I was driving) that I really needed to hear from Him.  That He needed to provide for our family, to lay the way if we are to adopt this baby that the birthmom is considering us for.  In the world's economy, it makes no sense.  We would need about $7000 in about six to eight weeks.  Needless to say, we don't have it, are still paying off the bathroom and half of beef, and hay.  And my job is coming to an end after nine months at the end of this month. 

So, in the world's economy, we should be up a creek without a paddle.

And in God's economy, this is nothing.

I am trying not to stress as I really like to be in control (big surprise there!).  And I want to be self sufficient, to do it all myself.

But my kids need me at home, to guide them as they are teenagers and approaching, and we really have so much to offer!!!! 

Well, to try to cut to the chase:
I threw out the fleece, asking God directly to send some provision, what we need, not only on a daily basis, but for these huge things.

I have a hard time with this, because I don't want to "challenge" God or "put him to the test", but I also know that I REALLY want to know that I am hearing Him and not imagining things.

So, I threw out the fleece in my prayers today.

At 9:45 PM the phone rang at our house.  That is unusual.

Thankfully, it wasn't bad news.

It was a neighbor we have never met before, though we know his place because we drive by his house regularly and "he has the beagles".  Everything we all remember seems to be centered around animals!

Well, he was at a graduation party (or had one, I was never really clear on that), and they had LOTS of booyah left over. 

The fellow that we pick gourds for in the fall mentioned us to him.  Again, not really sure how this all happened.  How they were all together, or how our name came up - or even how he got our number!!!

But he was calling us to see if we would accept booyah for our family, and that he ran charters for fishing on Lake Michigan, and would like to take us out fishing!!!!

WE HAVE NEVER MET THIS MAN BEFORE!!!!!

So, at about 10:30 PM a wonderful gentleman named Paul pulled up with EIGHT GALLONS of wonderful booyah, and a container of baked beans and a container of a pasta salad.

Literally, as he pulled up, Steve and I were working on menus for the week!!!  I try to lay things out so it is in order for the week and good use of our resources! 

I was so numb as we thanked him over and over and visited with him.  Paul was truly an angel, a messenger of God when we needed some encouragement.  I am totally numb still, in awe and wondering what God has in store for us yet?????  I am so thankful for wonderful food to feed our growing crew!  What a huge blessing, but generally, what a HUGE hug from God!!!!

And honestly, the thought of taking the kids fishing on Lake Michigan is something we never dreamed of being able to afford to do, though it was one of those things on the "bucket list"!!!!!

I have spent most of the last hour or so generally trying NOT to cry, and trying not to be frightened of what else God might do!!!  Talk about our kids seeing God's hand in their lives!!!

I wrote a thank you note that we will drop by Paul's house (mailbox) as we go by tomorrow morning on our way to church - don't want to get him up that early!!!  I know that he has no way of knowing where we were at in our lives today, but what a direct message from God his actions were!!! 

I want to encourage you, if you feel God calling to you, no matter how little sense it may seem to make to you, please respond - you never know what your actions may mean to someone else, what message you are taking to someone else.  God may use you in ways you can never imagine, and the ripples you may never see, but they are there. 

Thank you God, for delivering meals to my family, for showing us how you care for our littlest needs, as well as our largest!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, August 1, 2010

This is what 'Family' means...


We got a lot of flack for taking this photo at the tournament today, but what I want you to know is that on the ground is Ben.  And surrounding him are Faith, the first to her slightly older brother, and Tsion and Solomon who came from far sides of the field.  What you have to understand is that in soccer, at least here, the rules are that when a player is down, all the other players "take a knee" - so they kneel or sit down, not to move until the referees call a kind of "all clear".

Well, the four youngest kids are on the same team.  They were playing in a tournament and made it to the championship game!!!!  So, Tsion, Solomon, Ben and Faith were all on the field, playing (often one or the other is sitting out for a quarter - they try to rest the kids if they can).  Well, Ben went down.  Usually he just bounces right up!  He went down and did not get up.

I try very hard not to embarrass my kids by running out on the filed - but I was caught calling Ben "Benny-boo" which is my pet name for him that I generally just use in my head, certainly NOT in public - poor child!  I did not go out.

I stayed my ground but held my breath.

Faith was a forward with Ben and ran right to him as soon as she saw him down - alerted the referee so she called a stop in play.  Faithie knelt by him and was checking him over as the coaches ran over.

Well, someone said something to me - another mom who knows us and knows Ben - that we have never seen him NOT get up right away.   I looked to her, and when I turned around, what you see in the photos is what I saw.

All of Ben's siblings who are on the team gathered around him.

You have to understand that according to league rules they all should have been sitting on their butts wherever their positions were, which was all over the field.

Certainly, not anywhere near their down brother.

And yet, here were all our our "littles", taking care of their brother, who was hurt.

Enough to make a mom and dad cry.

Another mom saw Steve taking the pictures - he already was, but I told him also to make sure and capture that.

She was horrified that he was taking pictures of a kid down.

He WASN'T taking pictures of a kid down.  He was taking pictures of the love of siblings that has transcended birth origins, time, continents, and languages.  He was taking a picture of family love, no matter what.  He was taking a picture of siblings who may not look alike, who may not have always been siblings, but whom God has knit together.  Siblings who care more for each other than any rule in a stupid game.  Caring more for each other than any game.

Remember, Ben and Tsion came to America, to our family two weeks less than a year ago - to the day.  They came as kids who had only met each other a couple times before joining our family.   Faith is the child who suddenly had more siblings very close in age to her - a total of three more to be exact.  Our "littles" are all within six to eight months of age of each other, and spend about half the year with all four the same age.  These kids came from many life experiences, many things, many tragedies, and lots of things.  And now they are brothers and sisters.

And when the chips were down, that is what mattered - they are siblings and they love each other and look out for each other.

That photo is not a photo of a child hurt, it is a photo of  love, of family.  It is a photo of what is really important.

It is the photo and sight that made me cry on the field.  Less than a year ago, two of these kids weren't even here.  And look at them caring for each other, regardless of rules.

I will take it.  Any day, any time.

By the way, Ben was checked over on the field, helped up, and the coaches began to escort him off the field. 

Well, after walking a short way, he insisted on staying in.  Tough kid.

They lost the championship game by one point, but in my book, they won.  I certainly won.  Thanking God for our kids and God's hand in knitting our family together.

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Large Families are never boring!!

If you see a group of kids, referring to Mom or Dad, and likely busily talking to each other or parents, you are likely looking at a large family.

At times, large families are mistaken for: schools, day cares, clubs, music groups, etc.

But, large families generally are: fairly well organized (they have to be to survive), display team spirit (again, things go much more smoothly when they work together), and entertaining! Think about it, with a large group of personalities and interests, there is bound to be something quite interesting whether in dynamics of relationships, of interest topics, of activities, and just in general diversity! Quite often there is less bickering - for one thing, to keep sanity a parent cannot listen to it all day, but also, there is always someone else to play with if someone is being unpleasant! And, having several siblings not putting up with bad behavior generally has a significant impact on another child! As well as there are always other helping hands and someone who is looking out for you.

And there must be a sense of humor! How else would you handle the stares, the weird comments, the shocked looks when you purchase groceries, take all the kids somewhere, or tell someone how many children you have! It never stops. Somehow what used to be the majority has now become the minority and actually the rare. But it is out there. Honestly the largest challenges, in my mind, of raising a brood, is: handling others' reactions, budgeting creatively, juggling schedules and commitments, prioritizing, menu planning for sanity, and creating a home atmosphere that makes life run smoothly. On the other hand, the benefits are: many hugs, much love, watching amazing children develop into amazing people, laughter, and a constant reminder of what is most important to me.

I can tell you that we are so blessed by each member of our family, even when they are challenging us to stretch, grow, discipline, etc. It isn't always sunny, but generally more sunny than cloudy!


"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, July 25, 2010

And yet another silly post!

Well, we are home from fair! Many pretty ribbons earned by the kids! Lots of dirty, muddy laundry in process! Tired parents, tired kids, animals all happy to be home.

And now, my angora rabbit (that got a top blue) has a respiratory something that seems to have just come on. Sigh. Not too bad, I don't think but I need to catch it fast. So, after facebooking friends who may have some ideas, I have been out in my pjs, searching for plantain, dandelions and then making an organic respiratory tea! For the RABBIT!!!!!! I cannot decide if I feel heroic or silly. On the other hand, she is very happily munching what I gave her, and hopefully sipping on the tea I made for her.

I am simply trying to decide if this means I am a very good pet owner/breeder, or just silly! Tomorrow hopefully will run her by a breeder friend for his opinion as well. Thank goodness we live out here, with no visible neighbors, or this could be really embarrassing!!!! LOL!

Maybe I am just over tired to find this so funny!

I think on that note, I had better head to bed! Hugs to everyone - if I can ever figure out how to post photos, I sure will!!!! Fair was wonderful as always - eight exhausted kids upstairs! Tired parents down here! All very happy to be home, but wow, you should see my laundry room! And that is after four loads of laundry done!!!! Ugh!


"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kewaunee paper!!!!!

Okay, I have to stop laughing enough to write this post!

We got a call from the local paper. It seems that our family has more entries in the county fair (4H) than any other family in the county.

Really, do the math. Eight kids in 4H. Lots of projects. Times eight. Lots!

LOL!

Well, they do a preview of the fair the week before fair opens and wanted a picture to showcase the fair. Sure, why not? And a reporter too? Why not?

We really expected a photo and a very short comment while they discussed the fair.

Well, this is what came out in yesterday's paper! Enjoy!!! I was stunned - they did a great job - except misspelling Zeri's name. Oh, well, close, only off by one letter!

Oswald Children Ready for County Fair

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Birthdays again?????

Hi all!
I am copying an email I sent out to friends and family because I am trying to reach as many people as I can!

Hi all,
For any who aren't aware, Steve's birthday is today and mine is tomorrow! Isn't that nuts???

Well, we are so blessed with our lovely family, and the greatest joy we have is our children. Some of you know that we had been asked to adopt a baby that was going to be born with Down Syndrome, but he passed away before birth. Samuel Christie Oswald was a miracle in our hearts, stretching us to consider what we had never been able to consider before.

With a completed homestudy and a home and family prepared for an infant, we took some time to collect our selves, grieve and decide what we were to do next. We have decided to allow God to guide this again, and we are open to a referral of a baby in the US, particularly a baby to be born with special needs that we feel able to handle. Especially Down Syndrome, although we are open to other needs.

So, for our birthdays a great Etsy artist is doing a fundraiser for our adoption fees! She makes the most beautiful pendants and has a huge heart for special needs adoption. The pendants are very reasonably priced (most right about $10) and are just beautiful! I bought a couple before and will be buying more, stocking up for Christmas and birthdays, and just for fun!

If you would like to check it out, please go to the website below. Our adoption fund will receive $5 for each pendant sold, but you MUST put a note at the checkout in "notes to seller" that this is for the Oswald family adoption fundraiser. Then she knows who to credit. And it runs ONLY on Wednesday July 14th! Just one day!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/sarahstreasurebox

If for one reason or another God does not open the door for an infant to enter our home, or provides all fees in another way (we are constantly working that LOL!), then all funds raised will be donated to Reece's Rainbow - a great organization that advocates for children with Down Syndrome and other special needs to find forever homes and fundraisers to provide grants for specific children - almost all are from other countries and are in desperate need of homes. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for us to adopt from many of these countries due to the travel requirements (sometimes two trips of several weeks for one or both parents - not an option with our lovely kids).

So, if you cared to take a look, please do, the jewelry is GORGEOUS and quite affordable!!!! Like I said, I found her through another friend who is adopting a child with DS and was fundraising and I was so thrilled with the pendants I got - great quality and just gorgeous! I have a list of what I want for upcoming presents that I will be ordering tomorrow!!!! Also, feel free to check out our crazy blog below if you want to know what is going on with our crew. I don't update as often as I would like, but I sure try to!


Christy Oswald
Mom to the great eight
Wife to the greatest man in the world
http://mommyturtle.blogspot.com


PLEASE feel free to forward this to anyone who you think might be interested! I have tried to put together a list of everyone I could think of that I had contacts for, but of course I know I missed some or may have old information. So, please, send this on to anyone at all who may be interested in wonderful pendants!!!!


So, we are celebrating birthdays around here - first one and then the other - the kids delight in making cakes, though we keep insisting that we DON'T need TWO cakes in TWO days!!!!! But we had so much fun giving Dad his presents last night - he is gone most of today, his birthday, so we did the gifts last night and there was HUGE hilarity!!!! Simple small things, but thoughtful or just plain funny! It was great. We went to bed, after finally getting the last giggling child off to bed, saying "How could someone not want this?". LOL! Though honestly it was really late and of course we were exhausted, so that might be why it isn't for everyone.

A cat must have had her babies last night - she was as huge as a house last night and now is skinny, so the kittens are hidden around here somewhere - instead of (or maybe in addition to) a egg hunt, the kids are on a kitten hunt. And another hen hatched out chicks so at this point we think we have maybe 20 to 25 baby chickens to keep our flock growing!!! They are so cute and the mamas keep them close so it is hard to count them all! But we sure hear them peeping as they run around outside!!!!

We are doing some crazy haying around here - had our pasture that isn't fenced yet cut, but then it rained so it is too wet to bale, so we are going out there with pitchforks and wheelbarrows to get it to feed quickly to the animals. Wow, is there a LOT of hay in three acres!!!!!! How did they do this all the time years ago??? Not easy!

And fair is next week, so we are wildly getting ready! Whew - the most looked forward to week of the year, but the most exhausting! We need one more tent that we will pick up this weekend and then we are all set! LOL! The kids are so excited, the three newest are trying to imagine it all, and the other five just ramble on and on trying to explain it, but it is just too much! They will just have to wait and see!!!!!!

Hugs and love to everyone, hug your kids and family!!!!
Christy


"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, July 5, 2010

Great article in Christianity Today...

You know what a passion I have for adoption - obviously, with five our eight children adopted!

Well, I was referred to this article and it put it so well, I choose not to add too much!

Read this: Abba Changes Everything

Some of my favorite quotes:

Our churches ought to be showing the families therein how love and belonging transcend categories of the flesh. Instead, though, it seems God is using families who adopt to teach the church. In fact, perhaps we so often wonder whether adopted children can really be brothers and sisters because we so rarely see it displayed in our pews.

The demonic rulers of the age hate orphans because they hate babies—and have from Pharaoh to Moloch to Herod to the divorce culture to malaria to HIV/AIDS. They hate foster care and orphan advocacy because these actions are icons of the gospel's eternal reality.

This is why James—the brother of Jesus—tells us that caring for widows and orphans is the essence of "pure and undefiled" religion (1:27). And Jesus himself—adopted by the righteous Joseph—identifies himself with the "least of these my brothers" (Matt. 25:40). And he tells us that the first time we hear his voice in person, he will be asking if we did the same.

In saying that orphan care is missional, I do not mean that every Christian is called to adopt or foster a child. But every Christian is called to care for orphans. As with every aspect of Christ's mission, a diversity of gifts abounds. Some have room at their table and in their hearts for another stocking on the mantle by this coming Christmas. Others are gifted financially to help families who would like to adopt but cannot figure out how to make ends meet. Others can babysit while families with children make their court dates and complete home-study papers.

Still others can lead mission trips to rock and hug and sing to orphans who may never be adopted. Pastors can simply ask whether anyone in their congregation might be called to adopt or foster parent, or to empower someone who is. And all of us can pray—specifically and urgently—for orphans the world over.


The kingdom of God isn't quiet. Instead it's like my house these days, "like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men" (Mic. 2:12).

As we welcome orphans into our homes, we can show the orphaned universe what it means to belong to a God who welcomes the fatherless.

Like him, let's welcome children into our homes, our churches, and our lives, especially those we are not supposed to want.



I had to comment on the wonderful article - I hope it impacts someone.

Today we picked strawberries (I know, we were a bit late, but the berries were still good, though not as large as they might have been)! In less than an hour we picked 45 pounds of strawberries and as of now, 10:30 PM, we have the last of the berries processed in jam, and some even made into our first try at strawberry jam. And still a huge pot for the kids to eat - and they are disappearing rapidly!!!! LOL!

I think we surprised the folks at the strawberry patch - the kids working alongside us, getting so much done so fast (from 6:30 to 7:30PM), and then the kids so polite in general. They had to bring out their granddaughter to meet the kids - not sure what that was quite about, but it was interesting. I don't think I can count how many times they commented on how hard the kids worked, what good workers they were, and on and on in that mode. Our response was that "of course they are, they like strawberry jam!!!"

But, we will be back later this week for raspberries!!! I had better get more pectin! I will have to post pictures - it is amazing how quickly stuff gets done when we all pitch in!

We are working hard and praying for continued provision for working towards this possible adoption means. I don't know where God is taking it, but we have one more fee to pay and then the home study is sent out. And the rest is up to God if He so chooses. We have a fun jewelry sale coming up on my birthday - I will post about that again later. Other than that, I am just taking my hours, getting creative with selling things, Steve's artwork is going back on sale, and we are making cat toys for sale at the farmer's market, and we are putting lots on Amazon. So, we are working hard as always! LOL!

Hope you had a great Independence Day!
"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New update!!!

Okay guys, here it is! Life is rolling along as usual!

My birthday is coming up, and we are in the adoption mode again. After losing our dear Sammy, we decided to continue with what God had started, and we finished the homestudy. It is done! With the new bathroom, things are all set. Our homestudy has been sent to several agencies that deal with special needs adoption, and Bethany Christian Services has put us on their domestic list, especially for a special needs child. At this point, our worker is not aware of any other families that would consider adopting a special needs child. And to top it off, she is presenting our information to a 19 year old mom who just found out that her baby has Down Syndrome. I believe that they know the child is a girl (though who really cares???). The baby is due in September. So, family profiles are being presented to the birthmom next week! Deep breath!!! Ours is done and in our worker's hands.

I don't know what to tell you about what I feel at this point. We honestly had stepped away from all the anticipation and all once things were done, so to get the email about this baby was a shock. And a thrill.

I don't know that what will happen, what I want to happen.

Do I want to mother another infant? Yes!

Do I have concerns about Down Syndrome? No, we dealt with that before.

Have I put all my emotions on hold in the recent past? About this - yes.

I am excited to think that we might get the chance again! But we shall see. At least our information is out there. So, we are going about this in the "typical fashion".

In order to complete a domestic special needs adoption there are fees, though no where near what we paid for our international adoption. Whoo-hoo! To meet that need (or put on account for that need, to be only used for that or worst case to be donated for someone else's need), we are having a special fundraiser on my birthday - July 14th! I found an Etsy seller who supports adoption in her store and she helps families fundraise for their adoptions. She has the coolest necklaces! I just fell in love with her stuff and ordered two - one for a present and one for me. They were affordable - $10 each! And so cute! So, consider ordering and following the instructions below on July 14th! That day only! Please feel free to pass the information on to anyone who may be interested! I am stocking up on necklaces and things for Christmas and birthdays and what not. $5 of each sale goes directly to our adoption fees of a special needs child. If God intervenes and we cannot adopt a child within a reasonable time frame, we will donate the proceeds to Reece's Rainbow, an organization that helps children with Down Syndrome find forever families - they have grants on many of the kids on their site and really do a great work!

God is at work, I never seem to have a clear view until we get closer, we just take one step at a time! Selfishly, after spending a great evening with my family, I so hope that we are to expand our family. I completely don't understand people who don't want to have the energy going on that we see - but then I have a different perspective! LOL! I have to, we have eight kids! If I didn't have a different perspective, I think I would have to lose my mind!!!! But what a joy this is, how could it ever end? More is always more love!

So, if you would like to be part of this, without having to put up with eight or more kids running around your property, doing laundry and cooking for all of them (you know this is tongue in cheek!!!!) please consider our special sale on July 14th! Please follow the links and the directions, send to whomever you know that might be interested, heck, send to everyone you know!!!! I know that it will benefit this kind woman who is donating her time and effort for children in need of homes, as well as our adoption efforts! If God were to intervene one way or the other and we didn't need the funds, we would get it to another family, to help with getting another child a forever home.

So, if you would like to be part of this, here is the information:
On that 1 day (July 14th) any PENDANT NECKLACE purchase made that the buyer leaves me a message in "Notes To Seller" that it is for your adoption fundraiser, I will donate $5 towards each purchase to your adoption fund. - From the seller.


So, go to: Oswald family adoption fundraiser and see what she has available! It is great, just for fun and beauty, and very affordable! I hope you enjoy it, and find some wonderful treasures! My family members and co-workers are likely to get items from Sarah's site!

Again, thanks for considering the need of these kids, and the need of families who hope to open their homes to children that might not otherwise have homes!!!! God bless you all!!!


"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Whew!!!!

You know how life sometimes just catches you off guard? Well, there is so much going on in our lives, sometimes it takes a bit to sit back and just take a look at it all.

I am currently scolding six kittens for interrupting my attempt at a blog post, as they scratch at our closed bedroom door! Does that explain our lives lately??

We have eight kittens in the house, three of whom are now ready for homes and three who will be in two weeks and two more about a month or so after that. They are wonderfully adorable and seem to totally decide that it is time to play when we head to bed. Six of the kittens are very mobile and literally everywhere, so they are these flying bundles of fur, rolling rapidly across the house, jumping out under from furniture and also climbing our legs (really hope you have long pants on when they try that!!). Two nights ago Steve and I had three bundles of fuzz on our bed with us, I was so afraid I was going to roll over and squish them!!!!

Want a kitten??? They are litter trained and raised with children!!!! LOL!

Life has been good, what with baby ducks, baby chickens, growing young goats, growing and active kids and life in general. We have a new bathroom that we dearly love, and have learned to refinish our own floors. It is a process, unfortunately one that is slow going because by the time we feel like we can do it, we are too tired to do it!!! (Generally that means about 11PM.) But we CAN do it!!!!

The four littlest kids are on the same soccer team (no vacations or sick days allowed for the Oswald family!!!) and they are so far undefeated. Which they only rarely rub into the oldest three, who are on another team, and have not won a single game, though thankfully they have tied two!!! Whew. We just got photos taken of all the kids' on their soccer teams so are looking forward to seeing those!!!

Summer is just flying by, as always. Each day is so full, and generally so fun! We sat up until 10:30 tonight just all of us talking and the kids giggling away. Everyone was a bit nervous because as the last soccer game ended (actually the first was canceled because after all the rain the field is a total swamp) the sky turned totally dark and lots of great, but abnormal colors (green and yellow are NOT normal!). I don't think we even got any rain, but we raced home and got the animals all tucked in safely. To listen to the kids laugh, it makes it all worthwhile and so wonderful. They have all gelled so totally, it is hard to believe that it has been less than a year - August 14th is the Gotcha day! Unreal. And Zeri and Solly will be at the three year mark September 1st! I just cannot believe that it has not been forever!!! Our God is surely the God of miracles, to put this family together.

So, I hope you are having a great summer. I am trying to keep up in general. If the rain will stop, I can finish weeding - again! The goats have only gotten into the garden once!

Love to everyone, enjoy the summer, I am going back to my ceiling fan and getting some sleep before tomorrow starts - as always, very early! God bless!


"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, June 21, 2010

Extreme home make over - Oswald style

We have so laughed so many times about not getting approved by EHM, though many folks seem appalled that we didn't get it. In all honesty, I have a certain smugness about this dismay that others have. It does make me feel good to know that others would consider us worth and really be in our corner for it.

But on the other hand, we seem to be experiencing "God's Extreme Home Makeover"!!!

Given the hopes to adopt (and the death of our dear Sammy) it has all resulted in a second bathroom in our house (with TWO extra sinks!)! And getting to know a great Christian contractor who also happens to be a neighbor! Amazingly, we have a second bathroom and it is more than we could ever have imagined. A full shower, a hardwood floor, a bathroom both inside the bathroom and outside, extra cabinets, and just beauty overall. We took part of our schoolroom and put the bathroom there, taking down an old unused chimney in the process. We actually GAINED room in our living room by the time we took out the old chimney - and our lovely contractor realized that built in pine bookshelves would look wonderful under the boxes they had to create for the plumbing through the living room! We gained two nearly floor to ceiling bookshelves, just gorgeous when simply polyurethaned! Thank you dear hubby for finishing that off! I cannot wait to get books on them, they will be our school bookshelves so they are handy! The kids love the bathroom (they don't have to go downstairs to go to the bathroom at night! LOL. They generally don't anyway!). But with soccer season, having two showers is a huge thing! And it is just beautiful. The down (or up) side of it is that we learned how simple it is to refinish our hardwood floors, that are really hardwood!!!! Steve bought me a random orbit sander to work on the floors with and a detail sander to finish working on the stairs (there should be a poem somewhere titled "When You Give a Mom a Sander..." - in other words, I keep finding places to use it!!!).

So, we now have a two bathroom house - two FULL bathrooms! And to top it off, my dearest dad (step-dad if you want to be precise, I generally don't) is stepping in and helping us with a barn!!!! We discovered that it was much less expensive to build a barn than we had thought - actually because what we want really isn't in height but in room for stalls! So it is a really long story, but a garage has led us to now having funds to work towards building a barn! Big enough for two box stalls for horses, cross ties for grooming, and a bunch of smaller stalls for goats! We are simply over the moon!!! We work alongside our contractor, so that helps us to afford it, and I still work to finish paying it off. I am so grateful that God has allowed us this to provide for our needs, but I sincerely do look forward to basing my life out of my home again. I would love to get some sort of income stream going more from our farm, but in the meantime, my profession has just about paid for our new bathroom, and by end of summer, we should be totally back on track with me being a stay at home mom again, though it appears that my private practice is returning! LOL! God has such a huge sense of humor!

So, by this time next year, I have no idea what God might have done! He seems to be having a ball working in things lately!

The kids are doing really well. Really, really well. As much as I would love another driver, we are in no rush to put a kid behind the wheel. Our theory is that if you cannot be responsible enough to pick up your laundry, that we really should think twice about putting you behind the wheel of a vehicle. And that is OK. Everyone is healthy beyond little colds, my back is doing quite well (I am so very grateful!!!), Steve is healthy and mobile, the kids are just amazing. We are so blessed. We might not be wealthy in the ways of the world (though we aren't doing too badly that way), but oh, we are so very rich!

Happy Father's Day to everyone!!!! God bless you all!


"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Baby Blankets

I have been praying lately for ways to pay things forward, to somehow do something for ministry, for others. It is really important to me, and as you know, orphans and adoption is huge on my heart.

I have met two other families out here who literally have just returned from Ethiopia, having adopted older children and one is going back in four weeks for her second adopted son (they passed court two months apart from each other). She just posted on facebook that in the southern part of Ethiopia there is a huge need for baby blankets as the hospitals and clinics want to be able to send a baby blanket home with each new mom, so they don't have enough in the clinic and to send home. The poverty is unimaginable in this country where we buy fancy cribs, huge wardrobes, and every gadget that can be conceived of, for our babies, much less that the hospital would need to give us something. These families don't even have a baby blanket for their newborns.

So, my friend would like to take baby blankets with her to this area (where both of her sons are from). I am going through what I have saved, what I just couldn't let go of, and even what I have saved for our hopes of another baby in our household - because really, if we were blessed with a baby, that baby would be showered with so many gifts from loving family and friends or we could go and purchase what would be so simple to get here! So, I am going to go through our things, and then hit our thrift stores to get more, and have put a request out on freecycle. I am hoping to be able to knit a couple quickly or get a couple quickly quilted up (my girls and I love to sew), but time is so tight, that I don't know if I could, but we will try!

So, if you are interested or know of someone who might be interested in helping with this project, please contact me! And, if you know of other needs like this, anywhere, please let me know. If we all mobilize, imagine the change we can be in the world!