A life of love

A life of love
Everyone should have a Great Pyrenees

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A dry winter on the farm!

I just wanted to check in and comment on life in general.

Whew, we made it through a great Christmas.  There is lots of activity with eight kids to celebrate with, and we were dreaming of our littles being home for next year's celebrations!  It was wonderful to have time with family and friends and kids.  We had a simple Christmas but it was so rich.  We are enjoying time together in this slightly quieter time before real life resumes next week - when all our usual activities resume - voice lessons, music lessons, church, and all the other stuff.  I pretty much decided that we would take a lighter school load this week and I am very glad we did!

Winter on the farm has been slow.  Only an inch of snow before Christmas and it is all gone now.  But at least the days will start getting longer!  We are looking forward to that, as with the reduced light and all, we are getting no eggs at all from our chickens.  We really miss those fresh eggs and look forward to when they resume in the next month or so!  We always have about two months where our free range chickens don't produce, but it is good for them to get a bit of a rest too, at least I think so.

In the spring we should have some baby goats too!  Some of our ladies are quite plump and so we are watching closely.  We did an inexact breeding schedule this year, so it will be a guessing game!  Baby goats are great fun, and we so miss the daily fresh milk!  I just have a hard time buying milk, knowing that it is older than I would like and who knows what the cows have gotten.  When we are in regular production at our house, our milk is drank fresh that day, or at the most from the day before.  And if the goats are making more than we drink up, well, then we make mozzarella cheese and ricotta cheese!!!  I MISS IT!!!

I am trying my hand at sourdough bread making though!  I am tempted to try making crackers too, but we shall have to see how much time there is in a day!  We love Amish friendship bread and the kids love to eat it up for breakfast!  We also got a quesadilla maker for a gift this Christmas, so we had better get going making tortillas!!!!  I have so many ideas in my head, but am trying to stick to one at a time!!  That is actually the hardest part!

We are also doing sewing around here.  I have the girls working on some simple projects to slowly build their skills - right now they are working on controlling speed and movement with the sewing machine with paper.  I was thinking a really good first project would be pillow cases.  They dislike skirts, so I doubt I could get them to make any of those, though they would be easy.  The next thing will be pajama pants, I think.  I am tempted to sew dresses for the little girls, but again, my eyes are always bigger than my time, so I am trying to limit myself a bit to just one thing at a time!

And of course, we are busy with the horses and all.  We are working with one of our young ponies to get her used to being handled and haltered and led.  It is less intimidating for my younger girls to start with a smaller horse, though Kiley is handling the big ones with no fear, no surprise there.  Her big guy (JT) is coming along really well.  Still growing and he is over 16 hands now!  But gentle as a puppy, though sometimes with as much energy.

I am looking forward to planning the garden for spring.  That activity usually gets me through the awful long days of winter.  Keeps me looking forward.

I have been speaking with other families who are waiting on their adopted children in Ethiopia - just like we are.  It is a hard spot to be in, we miss them so much, are waiting on all the changes we know they will bring to our lives, and there is nothing we can do but wait.  I am finding that I am a bit more patient this time around.  Maybe.  There is nothing I can do, except work to keep myself sane.  So, we are busy with home activities, remodeling, preparing, organizing and whatever else it takes to keep busy.  I am finding that this helps me the most.  I so want to be reading stories with Azeb and Kahsu, but I now that I will be one day.  Soon, this long winter of wait will be over.  We would love to hear that we need to go soon, but we just don't know.  One day the phone will ring, so in the meantime, I make the best of it.  I know that it is really hard for some, it is for me too, but I also have lots to do, so maybe that helps me.  Please keep our little girls in your prayers.  That God would keep them safe, and prepare their little hearts and minds for all the changes that are going to come for them.  That God would prepare us and help us to use this time to the best.

Happy New Year everyone!!!

"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, December 24, 2011

Christ is Born!!!!

I feel like I should say "well, sort of".  Yes, we are celebrating Christmas to commemorate Christ's birth.  I am so grateful overall.  Yes, we DO realize that he was actually born around Passover, which is around Easter time.  I get it.  Honestly, I get it even better than you might think.  Since we aren't totally sure of the actual birth date of several of our children (though we do believe that we are close, and the kids are very happy with what information we have and what dates they (and we) have settled on).  Honestly the celebration really doesn't matter what day it actually occurred.  How many times have we celebrated Christmas several times over the course of time, in order to celebrate with family and friends at convenient times.  It didn't really matter.

I am going to go out on a limb here, and I hope I am not scripturally widely off base here (but I will claim, that as being the mom to ten kids, running a small farm, homeschooling and all - well, I haven't researched it as well as I could have, as I am sure many academicians have - but, honestly, I don't think that He cares what day we pick to celebrate His birth.  Honestly, since we are more than two thousand years since His birth, I think He might forgive us for getting a bit mixed up about the actual day.  But I really don't see Christ caring.  I don't think He cares what day we tell Him we love Him.  I don't think He cares what day we do kindnesses in His name.  I think every day we should do kindnesses in His name!  As long as we are spending time trying to remember that He came, when He didn't have to, that He left His wonderful heaven, to live out our life here - dirty, painful, uncomfortable, and just plain messy.  I think of all the day in and day out things that we live through with human bodies, with an imperfect earth and with imperfect people - well, Christ came and lived it out just as we do.  He didn't have to.  Not to mention the Cross.  Just the daily things.  He didn't have to live it out.  I bet He got bellyaches, headaches, and all those human things.  He never had to do that.  And THEN He went to the Cross!

Anyway.  Tonight is Christmas Eve, as well as Aman's 16th birthday, and according to the paperwork I have, Azeb's 3rd birthday (while she is still far away in Ethiopia - I have been told not to dwell on that as I SO desperately want my littles home but am sitting at the feet of Jesus, learning patience, or at least complaining about it!).  Tonight we will set our simple Christmas presents under the tree, once the kids go to bed.  Nothing fancy, except one huge surprise that we were blessed with.  Before the kids are sent to bed, we will read the Christmas story from the book of Luke.  We will remind each other of what is important in life.  We will be thankful for our Lord and Savior, and our God who blessed us with His Son.  I don't know that I would have that strength - I am a bit of a "mama bear" as my husband says. 

God is good.  He has provided for all our needs.  We would always in our greed want more abundance - doesn't everyone, but we are learning thankfulness for a simple life.  I am so grateful for each and every one of my kids, for my devoted husband.  No woman is more blessed than I at this point.  I know gratitude and contentment (and I will be MUCH more content when Azeb and Kahsu are home!).  It is a long, hard lesson some days, but I imagine that Christ had to really wonder about all that He had left - imagine a soggy diaper!!!  Yuck!  That is WAY a human thing.

Anyway, God bless you all, be thankful for what you are blessed with, and remember that it isn't about "stuff".  It is about Christ, and family and love.  You know that I am preaching to myself too.  It would be great fun to shower my kids with all their desires, but that wouldn't be good for them, would it.  And so God is with us.  He blesses us in the RIGHT way.  WE cannot see that, but He does.  Merry Christmas 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, December 22, 2011

A very merry Christmas!

This will be a short post, as our eldest son just called to let us know that he is done working, and dearest hubby would really rather not set himself in his car again - he puts many hours in that car, and I certainly cannot blame him.

We are reminded very concretely this season that we are here to celebrate the season, and not with stuff.  In some ways, there won't be a lot of "stuff" under the tree, but honestly, there is very little we can think of that we would like.  We have a big surprise for the kids, and lots of little ones.  We are so blessed - the kids are healthy, and we are making huge memories that will hopefully last them a lifetime.  Our home smells lovely with cloves and oranges, yummy baking, and pine branches.  We will spend Christmas day with a table full of food and extended family here.  What joy.  I am looking forward to Christmas Eve reading from the Bible with the kids, candles going, gingerbread baking, and everyone together.  What more can we ask for?  Except that hopefully by next Christmas we will have all ten of our children home!

Please remember the widow, the orphan, the fatherless and those in need this season.  That is what Christmas is about.  I am so grateful that our children are no longer orphans.  They have parents, food in their bellies, a warm bed, a rich life, and lots of love.  And a hope and a future and knowledge of their Savior.  Life is good.

In the New Year we will be meeting with folks who can help us file the appropriate paperwork for Stepping Stones Adoption Ministry, and we are praying for God to direct it to those who need anything we can offer.  I am so glad He has led us to people who know how these things work - we had no idea!  God is good!

"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, December 17, 2011

Christmas Day services or no Christmas Day services?

Agghhhh!  I got caught in a facebook debate today regarding Christmas Day and whether churches should have services because it is a Sunday.  Sigh.

Okay, Christmas Day happens to fall on a Sunday.  Yep, I get it.  I love our church, I firmly believe that attending a service with other believers is very important.  We volunteer many hours at our church and have for MANY years.  We continue to do so.  I will be withdrawing from teaching the three year olds when our little girls get home, more because they will need every second of my attention as we transition and I just cannot take any time off of that.  I LOVE teaching the three year olds!!!  They are so delightful, so joyful, so interesting, so lovely.  I will return to teaching them someday, when our littles don't need me as much.  Steve sings in church, weekly and will continue to do so until infinity, or his voice gives way.  Our boys serve in video ministry.  Alex serves in Latino worship band with his guitar.  The girls volunteer in the preschool.  We help out for special events, try to do whatever is needed.  No one expects or has ever asked for a thank you.  We get up at about 5AM on Sundays to get chores done on the farm before we get to church for 7:15 to 8AM (if we take two cars some of us can come later).  Then we are there until nearly 1PM.  And we love it.  We really do.  We tend to relax Sunday afternoons after a busy morning!

But, with Christmas falling on a Sunday, it was looking to be a challenge.  Can you imagine?  Christmas morning can wait, it surely can, but wow, it is a lot to ask of kids.  Adults, we can live with it.  Kids, agony, but they would and would be fine.  But when our Pastor announced that we would NOT be having a Christmas morning service, I have to admit that I was nearly grateful to tears.  Just the thought of getting up Christmas morning, throwing a pan of cinnamon rolls into the oven for my kids' hungry tummies, opening presents with their excited faces, in our pajamas, just sounded so wonderful.  Being able to sip coffee while watching them enjoy the things we so carefully thought out for them, not having to rush, or worry about getting fancied up, wow, it was beyond belief!!! 

See, for many years, especially with Steve singing, we have always been at church hours early, through all the services, helping in whatever way we can - we were there anyway at the very least.    We spent every Christmas, every Christmas Eve, every Sunday, every Easter, all of it, at church.  Sometimes that was hard, with kids and all.  The year Pastor Mark came on board and announced that for Christmas Eve he and his sons would be putting on the Christmas Eve service, it was the gift they were giving their musicians and singers and helpers.  We were shocked.  We had never, ever been able to be at home, with our own traditions or extended families.  Never in our married lives.  In our children's lives.  What a profound gift he gave us that year.  I literally sat in the pew and cried as it sunk in what that meant.  As much as we would have love to have attended, it was beyond amazing to celebrate it at home, with our kids, at our leisure.  It was so very special. 

So, this year, our wonderful church - Celebration Church in Green Bay - will NOT have a Christmas Day service.  It WILL have FABULOUS Christmas Eve services.  We all can pick up a DVD that they have available of a Christmas message and worship so we can do church at home, with our families. We WILL be doing that, and thankfully!

If you want to go to church, there are some who will be having services.  Please go!  Or attend Christmas Eve services instead.  We will celebrate our Lord's birth at our home.  I will listen to my kids' laughter, see their surprises, enjoy coffee with my husband and make a yummy breakfast for my kids.  Christ is all about families.  We live out our faith every single day, not just one day.  I hope that isn't taken as being selfish, but I am so happy that we can celebrate at home.  I think some folks are missing all that it takes to bring a great church service about.  I think they should volunteer also!  Come join in, serve others!  Our church literally takes at least 50 people there at 7AM to bring it all about.  That's a lot of families!  So, they were given the gift of the holiday at home, as a family from start to finish.  Personally, I don't think Christ begrudges me that joy!

So, Merry Christmas, no matter how you choose to spend it. However you do, it is all about the same thing!  Christ's miraculous birth and all that entails!  Thank you Jesus!!!!

"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

Christmas, adoption, concerts, and a skunk!

Hi all!
I have been terribly lax in keeping updated on the blog and am going to try to be better.  I never know if anyone reads it but my hubby, but it isn't really just about other people reading it, but it is a way for me to put our life in words, and keep in touch with anyone who wants to talk to us!  So, I hope this post sort of gets anyone caught up, and makes sense, because it has been busy as always!

Let's see, where to start?

I have been living in mental boxes in my mind, just to keep track of everything.  It was "play box", then "benefit box", and now we are in "Christmas box".

Play was great - see last post.  Benefit concert was last night - it was amazing!  Such great music!  Tons of fun silent auction items, great people, all of it was wonderful.  We were overwhelmed.  I was so glad we were able to share a little about our journey and our plans to help others move forward in adoption.  Stepping Stones Adoption Ministry is going to launch in 2012!!!!!  I will keep you posted as things come together.  Our hope is to be able to be a place where not only can we assist in the financial needs, but also support along the journey, post adoption, linking parents and families.  We have said all along that this cannot stop with our family.  We have a lot to learn, but have great mentors, so, we will pray for God's wisdom and guidance as we see how this grows!

Now to the Christmas box - final shopping this week, preparations for Christmas dinner at our house.  Christmas will be fairly simple in many ways, so much going on.  But we are most of all looking forward to spending time together with family and celebrating the reason for the season.  The tree is up and decorated, wrapping is commencing, and some surprises are planned.  Hooray!!!

One thing we are really working on is decluttering and paring down.  Whenever we have been to Ethiopia, we really realize how over the top we all live here.  We think we live pretty simply at our home, but we really feel that it is just too much, and so much can be better used.  So, we are clearing out whatever isn't used frequently and looking for what we can share and bless others with.  Quite often, we realize that we really need to depend on God for the future, not to try to stockpile for the future - whether it be clothing or collectibles or whatever.  We have been so blessed and have learned so many ways to frugally provide for needs, that to save up things isn't necessary.  Much better that things be used TODAY by people who need them TODAY!  The hardest part for me is my books.  I likely really, really don't need so many books.  But I love them and have so much that I want to read!  However the mountains on my dresser probably are a bit of overkill.  Hee, hee!

We are so blessed to have the privilege of watching our children grow and develop, and become the people God has called them to be.  They all have such interesting passions and interests and thoughts.  It is such an adventure seeing what God calls them to!  I would never have traveled some of these roads if it wasn't where God had called them.  What an adventure.

Oh, yeah, and the skunk.   I almost forgot that I promised to tell you about that.

Well, here is the funny farm story of the posting.  There always seems to be one, doesn't there?

Well, we have four dogs - yep, four.  Again, hadn't really planned on four, but they are a delight, most of the time.  Abby - our elderly white German shepherd, Ranger - our four year old black lab mix - finally calming down and not quite as hyper as he used to be, Boomer - Kiley's schnauzer/poodle mix - our first small dog ever and we can't figure out if he is a cat or a dog, and the newest addition, DeeDee - Faith's four month old English Cocker Spaniel/"something that looked like an australian shepherd mix - she is hysterical and adorable and just a pip.  Well, four dogs.

Our routine is that we let the dogs out together one last time just before bed.  Open the door, four dogs run out, run around for a couple minutes and do their business and come running back in when we open the door and call them in.  They everyone heads to bed.  Simple.  Practical.

Well, Tuesday night.  Steve is on his way home from practice for the benefit and picking up Alex from work.  It is nearly ten.  I am getting everyone ready for bed, and one of the boys shoos the dogs out for their final run.  Kids are picking up, I go to the porch door and call the dogs in.  They come running madly, as always, run right by me on the porch, as always, and right into the dining room - we always leave the door open and they rush right in and scatter to their respective resting places.  They come in, rush by me, into the dining room and living room and screaming erupts!  Then the smell hits me.  Oh, my goodness, skunk!!!!!  Screaming commences and all of us are yelling to get the dogs out of the HOUSE!!!!!!  Of course, the dogs are just their usual selves, wanting to greet us and do their usual routine.

Finally, all four are back outside.  The inside of the house reeks like skunk.  Really, really.  Ten o'clock at night.  Cold outside.  Dogs nailed by skunk.  Ugh.

What do you do now?  Ugh.  Tomato juice right?  Yep, in the pantry.  Is there enough for all four dogs?  I doubt it.  Hmm, they can't stay outside all night.  It is too cold.  Our dogs never stay outside at night.  Drat.  Vinegar is a great stench reducer, right?  So, we grab a large stock pot, put in tomato juice and vinegar and take it outside.  Corral a dog, hold it still, wash it in the mixture, then rinse with buckets of warm water the kids are hauling from the house.  One dog at a time, every towel in the house.  Get one descented and rinsed and somewhat toweled off and allow it back in the house.  Then move on to the next dog.  Started with big dogs, moved down the line to small dogs.  It is COLD outside!  We are finishing the last dog when Steve and Alex pull in.  According to them, they got a quarter mile away and began to smell the skunk smell.  It was very strong down near the end of the driveway (here envision them hoping that this means that a skunk was hit my a car near our property).  When they pull in, they see kids in the yard, holding a dog in all the chaos.  And it rapidly sinks in what all these things mean!  Yikes!

We lit every candle in the house and it actually did help significantly with the smell.  Wow.  What a nightmare!  LOL!  At least we all decided to laugh through it all.  It was humorous if you looked at it in the right way.  Especially now, rather than then.

Sadly, there is no demise of a skunk to report.  Likely they scared it off that day, and we are pretty sure that Ranger was the one that got directly nailed as he stunk the worst and needed two washings.  Abby must have been next to him, because it was just worst on one side of her, and the little dogs only ran through the mist or something as they didn't smell as badly as the others!  I am hoping that they scared it off so it won't come back.  We shall have to see.  I am going to make sure we have a huge amount of a recipe to get rid of skunk smell.  It is likely that this will occur again.  Sigh.  We will have to make an adventure of it, won't we???  LOL!

Merry Christmas to anyone who reads this.  Love your family, enjoy your time together.  This season is not about stuff, it is about Christ's birth, family time and celebrating all that we are blessed with.  Be a secret Santa to someone!  I was reading about the layaway payoffs that have been in the news - what fun to do that!  Take the moment to reach out and bless someone, even a little.  It makes a huge difference!  Be Christ's hands!!!!!  Merry Christmas!!!

"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, December 4, 2011

Talk about being out of my comfort zone!!!

And now for something totally different - wasn't that what the Monty Python show used to start with?  Wow, am I aging myself by stating that?  Anyway, for something totally different.

If you have read my blog for any amount of time, generally it is about kids, homesteading, adoption, and faith.  Well, I am working outside my comfort zone so I thought I would try to share that!

I am in a play.  It isn't the first time, actually, it is the third, but the other two times, it was the same play (The Best Christmas Pageant Ever) that is done each year by Evergreen Productions in Green Bay, WI.  And both times several of my kids have been in it, so you know I was added in because of them.  Well, I tried out for Fruitcakes along with one of my children.  That is the adult stage for Evergreen Productions' Christmas show - they do one each year - one for the adult stage and one for the children's stage.

I got a part.  Just me.  No one else in the family.

Which means that I didn't get a part because someone else did!  Wow.  Mind blowing.  SO not what I usually do!  I tried out on a whim.  I have NEVER been on stage before the last couple years - and my part was really small in Best.  That was just fine with me.  This time, my part is more extensive and certainly more flamboyant!  Wow.

After I got over my shock, our life took off - I had play rehearsal, Solly and Tsion had play rehearsal for Best, and then, well, we took a trip to Ethiopia.  Yeah, nothing really going on, right?

Honestly, Steve and the kids are the ones with the theater interests and drive, not me.  But it does look like fun.

Tonight was our second show.  It was amazing.  Both nights we had great audiences (that means audiences that get into the show, and laugh and clap so you know they like it), and both nights we got standing ovations!!!!!  I am so proud that I only forgot one line in two performances, and covered for the one I did forget!  Tonight, I didn't forget a thing!  And it was fun!  I have to admit, I did become more expressive as the audience seemed to respond.

Anyway, this is so not me.  So not what I usually do, but wow, is it fun!!!  Three days ago I was convinced I would never do theater again, I would go back to being the theater mom, shuttling my kids back and forth and helping backstage.  Tonight I see why people put all that work and effort into it.  It is worth it.  Way fun!  I don't even really know how to explain it, but as great fun!

So, for the next week, I am "Betty Jane", and much more interesting than I usually am.

The only down side, is that I come home so wired after our shows, that I am still awake at 12:30 AM.  The upside is that I will then be writing!  LOL!

This is a good way to pass the time while we wait on our little girls.  I was so worried that I would miss them so terribly after coming back that I would temporarily be a basket case, but Fruitcakes has kept me very busy!  I am still knitting things for our benefit during the show though!  December 16th is going to be a great concert!!!!!

Anyway, I am going to try to settle down as we get up early for church!  This all takes a lot of energy!

"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 22, 2011

Praises to God! We are twelve!!!!

This will be a quick post.  I am exhausted and emotionally wrung out.

But we have good news, finally.

A and K have passed court, it is final!  We are the parents to ten children!

It is a long story, and truly another example of God's miracles in tough situations.  I have nothing but the highest praises for our agency and the wonderful people who went to bat on our girls behalf.  I have never cried so much.

We passed.  A and K are Oswalds!  We will see them one more time before our plane leaves tonight.  What a Thanksgiving it will be at home with eight out of ten of our kids!  Hopefully we will all celebrate Easter under one roof!  I will think about that later.  For now, I am grateful for God's blessings and the commitment of IAG.

"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, November 21, 2011

What God knits together....

I wanted to start this blog post by thanking our agency so much for all the loving care they give all the kids, for all their efforts, for how much they truly CARE about each and every one of these kids.  It is wonderful, simply wonderful.  I know as much as I will be so sad to leave my girls behind until they are cleared to travel, they are well loved and cared for.  I can rest in that and knowing that they are just fine while they are here.  There are so few words to express what it means to me.  I highly recommend our agency.  Message me if you would like to know who we work with!

And onto what everyone REALLY cares about - the girls and our trip!

They are fabulous!!!!!!  Of course I am totally biased.  We are head over heels in love with them and really enjoying getting to know them.  We had prepped ourselves that they might be older than we had thought, but now after being with them, they aren't, at least we don't think so.  I think at court tomorrow someone will give us birth dates, but who knows?  We have been told that court will be a simple task, actually sounds similar to our re-adoption court hearing in the states.  I am looking forward to getting it done.  I am nervous, for no good reason, except that it is so IMPORTANT!  I know it will all be fine.  We are planning to go see the girls again tomorrow before we fly out late at night.  It will be so hard to leave!

A is hysterical, energetic, talkative (of course we have no idea what she is saying!), playful, interactive and a total ham.  Loves being the center of attention and making people laugh.  Not in a pesky way, but fun.  If you laugh with her, she will peal out the biggest sweetest belly laugh you have ever seen.  Just a hoot!  And loves picture books - not the cartoon kind, but the photo kind.  She goes through our photo books we brought for them, over and over, "reading" aloud all the way through.  Today she wanted to be held by us and came for hugs and to sit on our laps.  Yesterday she was too busy to sit down.  When we went to leave, she ran to us and grabbed our legs just wailing.  I was sobbing at that point.

K is very quiet - we have only heard her voice when she is laughing at her sister or crying.  Other than that she is quiet, sits on our laps, takes it all in.  The biggest eyes you have ever seen.  Today she played with a toy while sitting in my lap - which was huge - it gave me a better idea of her development.  She has napped in my arms once each day, and you know I was eating that up!!!  She is just tiny.  Lots of the much younger babies are bigger than she is - I thin there will be a growth spurt at some point.  But she was a bit of a picky eater at times, so that could be part of it too.  She wouldn't let the nannies feed her lunch today, but when I tried, she would eat if I fed her.  Yeah, you know I ate that up too!

So anyway, I had better share the computer.  Facebook has been such a blessing as we can chat with the kids at home, if we can all be up at the same time.  Certainly makes me feel better.

God bless you all!  God has accomplished such miracles, it is just amazing to see.  I cannot fathom it, even as I see it.  We are so blessed and so grateful!  Please continue prayers for the kids and helpers at home, and for us as we go to court and travel, and for our little ones as we all wait for their clearance to travel!

"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 20, 2011

Writing from Addis Abeba, Ethiopia!!!!!!

We are here!!!!  We got in last night, got out of the airport about midnight or some such time, and safely arrived at our wonderful guest house.

I will do a longer post later, as I don't want to take too much advantage of the internet usage here.  But, we are fine, even finally got some sleep and leave soon to go see our little girls.  I am so excited I am just in constant wiggle motion.  Steve is anxious.  It is just hard.  Hard to believe that we are here, that it is all really happening, worrying/thinking about our kids and home and all the changes in our lives!

Ethiopia is a beautiful place, a place of such contrasts and it is so unique.  As soon as we stepped off the plane, I recognized the smell of Ethiopia - a wonderful mix that you just don't get in the US.  It is forever seared in my memory.  How can I feel so much like I belong to both places?  Because my kids do, that is why.  We are so blessed to be here.

Our guest house with IAG is wonderful!  The staff has been so very kind, I just cannot say enough good things.

I will try to post as I can and add more, but I know that I will be processing so much.  It is hard to even put it all in words.  I still find I cannot explain so much from my last trip!

So, prayers for our little girls, for our kiddos at home and our wonderful friends and family who are helping keep the home front together.  Thank you so much for sharing this journey with us.  I am humbled if you even read this.  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

Friday, November 18, 2011

'Twas the night before travel....

Tomorrow, we leave for Ethiopia.

We are so excited and so terrified and so in awe.  God has brought about so many miracles to bring this all about.  We see His hand daily.  We covered yet another hurdle just yesterday morning.  God is so good.  I have reached a point where I no longer find it hard to believe that anything is impossible, even when He has put this weak vessel to His work.  I so hope I do it well. 

I know I am not perfect, I make more mistakes than I can even fathom.  But I hope my heart shows through and my attempts are remembered more than my failures.  God didn't ask us to be perfect, thankfully.  He asked us to just do what He asked.  I hope I am saying this in a way that makes sense, as I am so tired I really feel like I cannot see straight.  I just wanted to express myself before we leave.

It takes a lot of faith to leave your eight precious children behind, even for a few days.  This is not something we do.  But, we know they are in loving and capable hands and God is their eternal protector. 

I keep thinking that I should stay up and keep puttering.  Organizing my room, making sure each step I want done is done.  But it is time to rest for a few hours before we leave. 

So, know that we would appreciate any prayers as we travel across the globe, and for our children safely at home.  In just two days or so we will meet our little ones for the first time, and then on the 22nd, we will go to court to adopt them.  The hardest part of the trip will then be leaving them as we go home until their visas are ready.  As Aman so succinctly put it "it must feel like your heart is in two parts, one on each side of the world:.  Yes, it absolutely does.

Thanks to everyone.

On a more homey note, life is good on the farm.  We are preparing for winter - I have more projects that I want to do once this journey is over.  And Kiley's fabulous trainer has volunteered to make Thanksgiving dinner for us (as Steve and I get back in the evening of the night before).  She is thrilled to be cooking and we are so wonderfully blessed and thankful.  We had been thinking we would just do pizza and hang out with our kiddos (and maybe some friends).  To have a traditional holiday meal prepared for us was beyond belief!!! 

I hope you all have a blessed turkey day and thank God for all your blessings.  I suspect that we will come home from our journey realizing all we have to be thankful for!  Nothing like a trip to Ethiopia to shock you back into really thinking about what we "need" and what is just a frivolous "want". 

"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
"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, November 9, 2011

Do the Next Thing

We are preparing for our trip!  So much to do!  So much to prepare at home and for leaving!  I tend to be the Mom who wants to have it generally planned out so I feel comfortable and in control when I am not here!  Can't do that from the other side of the world, but I am trying to make sure there are meals ready, schedules prepared, helpers available, and generally that all our ducks are in a row times eight kids.  
I was on a blog (sherigraham.com) and found this this morning.  It seemed very appropriate for where we are, and I think I will have to print it out and frame it for my wall.
Elisabeth Elliot often quoted this poem (I am not sure if she wrote it or not).
                Do The Next Thing 
“At an old English parsonage down by the sea,
  there came in the twilight a message to me.
  Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven
  that, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.
  And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
  like a low inspiration, ‘Do the next thing.’
Many a questioning, many a fear,
  many a doubt hath its quieting here.
  Moment by moment, let down from heaven,
  time, opportunity, guidance are given.
  Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
  trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.
Do it immediately, do it with prayer,
  do it reliantly, casting all care.
  Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,
  who placed it before thee with earnest command.
  Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
  leave all resultings, do the next thing.
Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
  working or suffering be thy demeanor,
  in His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
  the light of His countenance, be thy psalm.
  Do the next thing.”

"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, November 3, 2011

AND.... Here we go!!!!

After all the uncertainty, it looks like we are set!  We have clearance to go to Ethiopia for our November 22nd court date!!!!!!

Whew, it is only just now settling in.  I am really nesting big time, lots to get done.  To prepare for all the needs of the kids at home while we are gone, to arrange for an adult to stay with our kiddos here on the farm while we are out of the country, to think about what to bring, to organize myself.  I don't deal well with what I can't control or with sitting still for long, so a very long plane ride is going to be a challenge for me.  I am already beginning to think about ways to keep myself sane as we travel.  Literally, my head is spinning.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this all unfolds.  But, we are going.  We really are going to see our babies!  I cannot even put it into words right now.  We will have this worked out in the next couple days for sure!

It is hard at times, because for various of our kids the thought of Mom and Dad being gone is unsettling at the least.

I know Kiley and Aman can figure out their food doses and all for their diabetes, but Kiley has NEVER had anyone but Mom or Dad do a pump site change for her - and that is about six years.  She will need one while we are gone.  I have a couple options, but it has to be someone who is comfortable doing that - it is a shot you are giving my kid - and someone that Kiley is comfortable having do it - she is a teenage girl and her pump site needs to go on her backside as the child has such little body fat - needless to say, we need to find someone she feels comfortable and confident with.  Sigh.  I have a couple options and will be calling them in the next couple days to see if we can work it out.  Otherwise I am going to call our Medtronic MiniMed sales rep (Kevin) and see if he knows someone who can help us - like the nurse who came and did Kiley's training and first pump site years ago. 
That is one of the worries that we have to prepare for. 

Make sure the kids have all their prescriptions filled. 

Make sure the pantry is stocked. 

Make sure there are suggested menus on hand. 

Make sure everyone knows where all their various stuff is. 

Make sure we have things arranged for Solomon and Tsion to get to their play performances that happen while we are gone - we will miss their last few shows but I will at least get to see it!!!!

My list will just keep getting longer and I will likely be a nervous wreck before we get going!  That is par for the course.  As Aman put it, "It must be like having your heart in two parts, on opposite sides of the world".  Yep, that is about it.  I will worry about my kids at home, and miss them terribly, and get acqauinted with my newest family additions at the same time.  And when I am home I will worry about the two that we had to leave behind for a while, and love on the eight at home.  The best night is the first night that we finally have EVERYONE under the same roof.  The sheer realization that they are all together where I can care for them - that is heaven.

So, we prepare for this adventure. 

And for the continuance of life.  Packing up summer clothes, cleaning out drawers, making sure all the cold weather clothes are out and handy, reminding kids to dress appropriately!!!  Lugging out things that need to be used for animals for winter.  Decluttering - I can't be the only one who is constantly doing that, am I?  Schooling the kids is a never ending activity - day and night there is learning going on! 

But, tonight, I am tired.  I am looking forward to "the great eight" getting to bed, so I can crawl in and snuggle down and feel all my muscles relax.  I clean stall several days a week, and that has really helped my waistline and health and strength, but I am tired!

Tomorrow is another day.  Hugs to 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

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What a ride!

This has been the most amazing couple months for us, so hard to even begin to explain.

We are in such a season as a family, with all the ups and downs, joys and terrors that entails.

We are parenting four amazing teenagers and four amazing pre-teens.  Yes, this is a challenging stage of life, for our children and ourselves - and complicated by our long and unpredictable wait for our dear little ones.  We honestly feel like sometimes we don't know from moment to moment what is going to be happening in the next month.

God has surely provided.  He continues to provide, even as people doubt.  We see it daily with our own eyes.  How do you explain it?  God is in control.  Why we are having to deal with the IRS this long when that is one of the ways we envisioned finishing up paying for this adoption, is a question we cannot answer.  And yet we see God providing for each need of this adoption.  We are so blessed by our church family - who are truly embracing what it means to be family - and family to these little ones.  I had ended an email to someone by saying "a mama will do anything for her babies, even her babies she hasn't met yet".  And the response was "yes, these are our babies too!  We are the hands and feet and God has called us to the least of these, to orphans and widows."  She told me that we put into action what she read.

I don't know about that, and I have a hard time when someone tries to make us out to be saints. 

We aren't.  We are an ordinary family, with some extraordinary things going on.  But it is all as it should be.  God orchestrates.  I have no explanation for why he has called us.  Why we are on this journey.  We never planned it. 

But I am so eternally grateful.

I rejoiced in making tacos with my family tonight, a huge amount.  I rejoiced in making yet another batch of apple related canning things to use the bounty of what we have.  I rejoiced in seeing teens and preteens see bits of life coming together.  Everyone has their own road, and each one of our children does.  We try to very deliberately plan for each of our kids, to give them the opportunities they need in life to be who God designed them to be.  I rejoiced in my teens helping volunteering for a community event. 

Life isn't easy.  People in their stress strike out and sometimes you happen to be in their way as they do.  They are dealing with their own hurts and concerns.  It hurts. 

But I know that God has a plan.  I know that at the moment, I see some of it.  There are days where we see through the shadows, and there are days we see through the sunshine.  Lately it seems our life fluctuates from moment to moment. 

We are waiting on two priceless little girls.  I have children at home who are very nervous about the unknown of when we will be gone, what our timeline might be for our little girls coming home.  I have two kids (like me) who like to plan it out moment by moment.  But that is not where we are living right now.  I could stress about that, or I could rest in what I see, which is that we are nearing the light at the end of the tunnel.  I know that I may not have all our fees in hand as of yet, but that they are coming.  I wish I knew the exact date - that would really be wonderful.  But I have seen that God is never late.  Somehow often not early, but never late.  When Reece's Rainbow joined with us, we so thought that they would be helping a lot more than they have been able to, but God has his own plan for that.  There are so many kids in need.  I hope and pray they all find homes.  My job is to get mine home.  I took my two youngest daughters shopping today for the material they wanted to make blankies for their baby sisters.  I know what they will be doing yet this next week.  It was an amazing thing to see their hearts as they chose patterns for little ones they haven't met yet. 

I know that folks realistically question how this will get done.  I get it.  We have several different options at this point.  Several.  It will get done.  With or without help.  We are so close.  I never expected to be this close at this date (well, a while back I did, but there have been so many delays). 

I look forward to very quietly saying "I told you so" to a few people.  I have seen it five times.  I would be a fool if I didn't say I know it is coming.

Our next expenses:  $3500 to $4000 for our court trip
$8800 for our final adoption agency fees

$6000 (or maybe a bit less) for our final trip when we bring the girls home.

That includes everything - embassy fees of about $800, $400 for our in country stay, $400 or more for donations to nannies and care centers,

I know that I will be a stay at home mom once this is done, but in the meantime, I have been blessed to be able to work.  And now I am able to pick up long days when my husband is home and not be gone when he isn't.  And to make the same amount or more.  God is so good.  I know also how I will add to our income once the little ones are home.  I love to see what we have put away by canning, harvesting and all that.  I have reached a point where I really don't feel the need to explain to anyone anymore.  I know in my own head.  I know where we are at.  I know our plans.

Adoption is expensive.  Life is expensive.  And it is priceless.   Each one of our children is priceless.  God could care less.  It is just paper to Him.  I agree.  I have seen it all come.  Yes, we welcome anyone who wants to join with us.  We would be foolish if we didn't.  But we do have a plan, one way or the other.  Folks don't seem to think we do at times, but sometimes we just don't plan to share.  It is personal. 

God is all about loving people.  God is all about each one of us.  God loves us as we are, and will meet us where we are.  Please go meet Him.  Look at the people around you.  God loves them.  He is in them, He created them.  What would He have you do?

"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, October 27, 2011

Calling all prayer warriors!!!!!!

Quick update after yesterday!

Miracles may very well be in motion!!!  I cannot share too much, it is all changing too fast!

But, but, we MAY be able to make our court date!

We don't know yet if things will work out, but it looks like it is a possibility - which if you read my post yesterday, then you know that is a huge change!

SO, the prayer requests are: for this process and what seems to be maybe moving.  For the funds we would need to travel - our tax return is delayed - yet again - like for so many adoptive parents.  We were so hoping that these funds would be available for this trip.  And they won't be.  God has his plans, I know he does and they are for our good, but we need to buy plane tickets (if this all works) relatively soon, not to mention the agency fees (though they may be gracious knowing the return is coming).  And my job situation is changing.  In a good way for us.  I won't be needed on as regular a basis but will instead have the opportunity for a long, financially productive day regularly, when Steve can be home with the kids.  This is much more practical than what we are dealing with now, and still provides some income while keeping our family functioning the way we want it to.  It is actually an improvement.  For a few hours it looked worse, and then as the situation clarified, it is exactly what we need, should I choose to take it.  Because I know that I won't be doing what I have been doing.  I cannot with my family's needs and certainly not with the little ones home.

So, if you could just pray with us.  And keep our growing kids in your prayers as they journey toward adulthood.  There are lots of lessons everyone is learning and we just keep trying to be their support and safe foundation.  It is all good, nothing horrible, just learning to deal with unpleasant coworkers, think out situations thoroughly, grow in faith, all of that.  Like I said, the journey.  That is our focus. 

Thank you so very much!  I so so so covet your prayers and you have all been so encouraging.  Honestly, often comments come right when I need that exact thought.  You have been God's ministering voices!  You have no idea when I actually get to read your comments, or how badly I may need it at that exact moment.  We are running a marathon, and sometimes we get weary.  Not giving up, just discouraged.  Kind words are a sweet balm.

"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 26, 2011

Can I share my heart today?

You know how some days you feel like you just aren't ready to share your heart, and then there are other days where you just HAVE to get it out as it is tearing you up inside?  Yep, this is one of those days.

I don't want this to sound like a whiny post, because we just attended the funeral of a wonderful man of faith, who was just a year older than my husband, and suddenly was gone from this earth.  We aren't facing that.  We are together, healthy, growing and life is good.  It is always challenging - raising kids is, and there are times where you just face those hard spots, and you take them one step at a time, one action at a time, and you work it through.  That is life.  To see the growth, the life, it's all good.

Today I am very sad though.  We have a court date in Ethiopia.  Yay!


We don't have a form we need from Immigration as of yet.

Somehow we got submitted to court without it.

But we have to have it for court, and at this point it is unlikely that we can get it processed in time.

There is NO DOUBT, we WILL get it, just not in time for the November 22nd court date.  At least, not terribly likely.

We have been working with Immigration to do everything possible to make this happen.  But it is a government agency, and there are certain timelines that are tough to change.  Things have to be processed.  I get it.

I am impressed to say that I have been able to talk to a wonderful Immigration officer who has been very helpful and done everything she can do, and given me lots of information so I could do everything that we could do, but it looks like we don't meet the criteria for "expedited" processing.  And I get that too.  Our children in Ethiopia are not in danger of dying.  It really isn't likely to threaten their lives that this will put them longer out from getting home.  It isn't.  It honestly isn't.  I tried to make their medical case as honest as I could, sent the documentation that I do have, but they will be okay overall. 

Which is a blessing.

We have done all that we can do at this point.  I have kept our agency up to speed every time I have talked to Immigration and we have all done all that we can. 

The final tiny possibility of hope is that we MIGHT be able to be fingerprinted early.  At this point we have been granted a fingerprinting appointment for November 21st.  (Day before our court date in Ethiopia, and the information would still need to be processed to get us the form we need.)  We can TRY to get the Homeland Security people in Milwaukee to fingerprint us early, but only after we get the written information on our fingerprinting apoointment, and that is still in the mail.  I don't know of anyone who has had any luck showing up at the Milwaukee office and getting fingerprinted early.  I only know of one person who HASN'T, which means I only know of one person who has TRIED.  IF we were to be fingerprinted within the next week, I suppose it MIGHT be POSSIBLE for us to have the form back in our hands by November 14th, which is the date we are told we MUST have it by. 

Doesn't exactly look hopeful.

All I know to do, is to do every single thing possible.  And that is what we will do.  I guess.  Likely I will get hubby to schedule a work day in Milwaukee (he does several a week) and I will ride along and bring things to do.  And PRAY.  And if it doesn't work, it doesn't.  But I will bring photos of our little girls and appeal to everyone that will listen to me.  Kindly.  But honestly and from a mama's heart.

So, today having gotten the final word that we won't get a chance at expedited processing and knowing our chances dwindle with every passing day, well, today I want to curl up and cry.

But, laundry has to be done, work has to be done, applesauce has to be made, there are lovely kids to care for, animald to care for and life goes on.  But, let me tell you, I will be packing the care packages I had hoped to take to my little girls and sending them with a family that is going soon, so I can think of my little ones with their packages and maybe understanding that someone loves them and is coming.

But today I am sad that it won't be soon that we get to meet them, and that I honestly have no idea how far back this could put us.  My worst fear is that we won't get another court date for six months or more.  My prayer is that we could get a December date.  That is impossible.

So, today, I am going to do the only things I know how to do.  I am going to care for the wonderful children who are here.  I am going to sort all their summer things out of their drawers and pack them away so no one tries to wear flip flops in December.  I am going to plan menus.  I am going to write.  I am going to pray.  And I will keep doing all that needs to be done.  The simple things in life keep us moving.  Kids and animals like to eat, kids keep growing, floors need washing, on and on it goes.  That keeps us from letting our disappointments wear us to nothing.  We just keep going.

There are some very cool things in the works regarding beginning an adoption ministry, and I will try to keep you posted.  I know NOTHING about any of how to do it, I just know that it is needed, families are needed, homes are needed.  I have no idea how to start it - but I know someone who does!!!!!

"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, October 25, 2011

Priceless Giveway!.

I had the opportunity to read a book by Tom Davis, Priceless: A Novel on the Edge of the World (www.SheIsPriceless.com).  It was fabulous and is his second novel.  Tom Davis is "the president and CEO of Children's HopeChest, a global ministry that empowers individuals, churches and businesses to care for orphans in Africa, Russia, India, Latin America, and Eastern Europe (http://www.hopechest.org/).  He has authored four books, including the first in this series, Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World.  Tom and his wife, Emily, live in Colorado with their seven children, two of whom they adopted from Russia."  Actually, I have read both of the books, as well as one of his nonfiction books.  I highly, highly recommend all of his books.  Priceless is set in Russia and opened my eyes to things I had only heard of in rumor.  He does a fabulous job of linking faith and life and true issues of concern.  I have to admit, I read this book in probably less than two days, which is a bit of a feat around here, even though I am a fast and avid reader.  Life is just very active and generally I only read at night after everyone heads to bed or if I am sick.  I think I read while Steve drove, I read long after my bedtime, every second I could.  It was that good.

So, here is the deal!  I was blessed by Children's HopeChest with a SIGNED COPY of Priceless: A Novel on the Edge of the World.  It is exclusively for a giveaway from my blog.  I would love to bless someone with this very special item.  The book itself and the message is truly powerful, as well as well written and riveting in and of itself, but hand signed by the author is very cool in general.

I would like to give it away to someone who follows or happens to read my blog.  So, the deal is simple, basically because I really want things easy to figure out and I haven't done this before.  Post a comment on my blog, and I will put everyone who does in a drawing for the book.  I will close this on Sunday, because that is God's day (had to pick a day somehow, right?).  I will email the winner and get your address to send you the book.  Pretty simple!

Please check out Tom Davis and the amazing word he does!  He has a wonderful blog:    www.CThomasDavis.com.

So, on Sunday, I will get in touch with the winner and send the book out to you on Monday!!!!  I cannot wait to see who will get it!  What fun!

"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, October 3, 2011



We are needing to be in Ethiopia on November 22nd, 2011!!!!  This will be our court date for our two little girls!!!!  Steve and I will both be going, and an "as yet unnamed family member" will be staying with our great eight at home on the farm.  This will probably be about as close as Steve and I will ever get for an exotic honeymoon!  LOL!  What a crazy trip!

We don't yet know when exactly we will be leaving, that is all up in the air yet, though we are in touch with our travel agency - Susan Parr Travel does the most amazing adoption travel work you have ever seen!  I am so excited and so scared at the same time!

After court, Steve and I will fly back home, as of course we are needed there.  We are hoping that all goes smoothly and we are able to travel two to four months after passing court to bring our littlest girls home to their siblings.  So far, that is all we know.

If you could please pray for the following needs as we enter the final leg of this journey:

* we need to pay the final fees to the adoption agency, a total of around $8800
* we need to purchase airline tickets, we are unsure of the total as of yet, probably $3000 to $5000
* there will be fees of $808 payable to the Embassy I believe for processing of the next form for immigration.

We are awaiting our paychecks this week to send in the current immigration form needed.  Sigh.  They are coming, but they just aren't here yet.  It is a season of being wildly careful and trying to balance things that are way beyond our budget.  Those are the realities of adoption.  I hope some day we can fund someone's adoption!  What a blessing it would be to know of someone in the situation we are in now, and to just supply the need, on behalf of the children who need a family.  I would just love it!!!!

So, that is our good news!!!  Progress! 

And on another note, life is up to its usual adventures!  Alex was the Dad in the play Bridge to Terebithia with Evergreen Productions  this last week.  He was awesome in a very delicate role and his maturity really shone through.  Zeri was recruited from being a stagehand to being the school custodian for the show, and even had a costume.  He had so much fun!  Faith was the bunny who introduces the show and was just adorable.  We were the official "dog handlers" as there was a real dog in the show - he made it way easy as he is the most laid back dog ever.  As usual, the whole family was involved and it was great fun.

So much fun that several of the kids were at tryouts tonight for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever with Evergreen.  As much as I hate to imagine any more running, the show is so great, the folks are so great, and the kids learn so much and grow so much, I just cannot turn it down!  I WON'T be in it this year (I was a telephone lady the last two years) because likely Steve and I will be en route to Ethiopia for the last show!

Tomorrow Faith and Tsion start singing lessons with a great lady.  They are so excited.  I cannot wait to see this new adventure.

Faith has gotten a puppy, all her own.  Dee-Dee is absolutely adorable and totally knows that she is Faith's puppy, needing to sleep on something that Faith wore if she isn't home.  It has been a time of really getting a glimpse into parenthood with a new baby, complete with sleepless nights.  Two weeks later, Dee-Dee is starting to sleep through the night, for which poor Faith is grateful (Mom and Dad took the puppy in their room one night so she could get some rest!).  I will post photos as soon as I can.  She is an English Cocker Spaniel/"something that looked like an Austrailian Shepherd mix" puppy.  Golden and with those curly little cocker ears.  White paws and a white stripe on her chest.  Not like we needed "something else going on", but it sure is fun.  (Our elderly german shepherd has been showing her age and doing more and more poorly.  We are hoping that she will improve, but it doesn't look likely.)  Faith and Zeri and Tsion are signed up for dog project in 4H and will take the dogs to dog training starting in January, so I am hopeful that all will learn some more manners.  Faith has read every dog training/raising/care book that we have been able to find, just devouring it, and then telling me all about what it told her to do to teach her puppy.  She takes her responsibilities seriously!  

Ben still is busy with soccer.  Solly had a bit of an adventure and so is not playing right now, but has gained a great deal of wisdom.  Let's just leave it at that.

Alex and Zeri are finishing up driver's ed, and I have to admit that I am GREATLY looking forward to having more drivers in the family - and we have acquired my dad's pickup truck as he has moved up to a fancy SUV - which he and Mom greatly deserve!!!!!  And we are grateful for a third vehicle that soon will be able to help with some of the running!!!!

I am trying to write more often, but have to admit that I am a bit sheepish about it.  I AM a published author a few times over, in a local magazine, but the thought of people actually reading what I write is still amazing.  I would love to write the story of our family's growth and adventures, but that is going to take some time!

Well, I have to admit, I am trying to learn to slow down some, as we prepare for this next phase of our lives.  The one thing I love about winter is that it grounds us at home a bit more, in theory anyway!

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, September 21, 2011

A not so fun day on the farm – funny now though!

Last night we were in the pantry, planning out meals for the rest of the week, when Kiley let out a squeal. Turns out she was looking eye to eye with a mouse! Little brown eyes and a wiggly nose, sitting right on a pantry shelf! Ewww!!!!

Honestly, I have to interject here. When you live in a house that is 130 or so years old, on rural property, mice are a fact of life. There is a reason we have a couple cats in the house, and we usually only see one or so a year. The cats take good care of that. But fall is arriving and they are looking to come into warmer quarters. Ugh. We are always looking for how they got into the house and sealing it up. But, it is a fact of life. One that I really could live without.

Well, we have five pantry shelves, in a house with eight kids and a lot of activity. So the shelves tend to evolve from the organized unit I want it to be, to a cluttered, things just put on a shelf, no matter what it is, kind of thing. We were in the disorganized phase. And now there is a mouse staring at us!

The mouse ran to the back of the shelf, hiding behind things, while Kiley jumped out of the pantry and the rest of us ran to see what was the cause of the excitement. Eww. Just eww. We rapidly moved glass items off said shelf and tried putting a cat on the shelf. We even just about put the cat on top of the mouse. Obviously Bravo was a little disconcerted by our reactions and suddenly being thrust onto a shelf in the pantry we generally shoo'd him out of! He didn't even notice it! And the mouse did the smart thing and beat a retreat to go behind canned goods! Then ran down to the shelf below.

We tried putting another cat in there, who also was so distracted by all the excitement that she never realized that she had a job to do! At that point, we decided that we would have to take over.

Imagine this. Our small pantry – was probably origionally a small coat closet, with nine of us crowded around it. All in search of one little mouse.

We made a chain, passing items from the shelves out to be put on the table and warily watching for the mouse. I kept a close eye on the spot where I had last seen it. Turns out mice can really flatten themselves against stuff. We eventually found it, it jumped all over, and there was lots of noise from all of us – not our most courageous moment, and the mouse made it to the floor. With three kids on guard to make sure it didn't get out of the pantry (imagine nightmares of waking up to it in another area of the house – I don't think I would have slept for dreams of it sitting on my nightstand looking at me) we continued to empty the pantry. Eventually the last hiding spot was removed and the mouse shot across the floor and lo and behold, right down a tiny hole in the corner by the baseboards. So now we knew how it got in! That was progress, and it was out of the house – at least, that is what I am going on, so please don't break my illusion!

Whew. What a mess we now had. Little mouse had been all over our shelves and left its calling card. Ugh. Out came disinfectant. We washed EVERYTHING in there. All the shelves, walls, cans, everything that had been in the pantry was washed down. We sealed the hole with spray foam so hopefully the mouse won't be back!

So, now my pantry is well organized, very clean and I know where every little thing is.

Not how I was planning on spending my evening, but I am sure the kids will never forget it. Ugh. Funny now, but not so much then. Welcome to fall in the country.

So, if you come and visit us, you will notice that there are a couple inside cats and at least ten barn cats. This is why. No mice allowed. Our kitties are generally good mousers and that is there job. I have to admit that this morning, we were heading out to get a load of hay and Zeri was cleaning out his old pigeon cages – one of the barn cats came streaking by with a big mouse in her mouth. And me, the animal lover, praised that kitty all over. Yay for good mousers!

"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, September 12, 2011

Bloggy ramblings!

Just wanted to update a little, and capture a few stray thoughts.

The girls and I are still in NY state.  We will be leaving tomorrow morning, right after taking the little girls to school for the day.  My brother got home yesterday and so we got to see him and spend time with him too.  It was great to see him, and hang out just chatting about things.  He has slides of my dad's, from when he was in the military and quite the world traveler.  He was able to show me some that he has on his computer, and it is looking at my dad when he was in his early 20's, just amazing.  Before my folks were married or had even met.  And boy, oh boy, can you see him in my brother!  Probably me too, but you really see it in Eric.  I only have a few photos of my dad as he was generally always the photographer.  I recall him at age 44, the age at which he passed away, and it is really neat to see him in younger years and wonder about his life.  Eric has said he will get me copies and I really look forward to it.  Heritage and family.  Very important.

We have had a good time with my nieces, trying to keep their world spinning as normally as possible.  I think it has gone pretty well.  We drove to Niagara Falls on Saturday - I was so proud that I got us there without getting lost - these roads around here are very winding and don't follow the grid patterns the farmland around our home does!  We had a good time, walked a lot, it was a gorgeous day!  All six of us girls got a necklace to commemorate our "girls time" and as a souvenir.  It was fun.  Talk about amazing looking at the power and majesty of the Falls.  Simply amazing.  We saw two wedding parties there for photos, and heard many languages all around us!  People from all over were there, doing exactly what we were doing - snapping photos, and being amazed.  We were tired by the end and glad to head home after just a couple hours.  A quick dinner and chores and we were ready for bed! 

Sunday my brother's in-laws picked him up at he airport for me (I was very glad for one less place to try to find in an unfamiliar city) and they all came out to his house.  We got everyone settled, had some lunch that my girls decided to cook up, and visited and saw the animals.  It was really nice.  Then we took off for the Lewiston Peach Festival!  Close by and sort of like a mini carnival or fair.  Yummy fresh peaches!!!  We had peach shortcake - it was HUGE!  I am so glad I decided to share with someone, as even just a half had me stuffed.  We saw lots of dishes at the stalls that were new to us, and some that I want to try - Italian Rice Balls!!!!  It smelled so very good, but I was still full from lunch, so didn't try them there.  And slovaki's or something similar to that.  I will have to look up the recipe and give it a try.  It all smelled so amazing, but I simply couldn't eat a thing!  Bummer!  The girls had fun on some rides and all five rode on the haunted house ride - some of the older girls even admitting that they shut their eyes!  But they were all smiling and laughing when they came off!

We have had fun, established a routine for ourselves, but homesickness is really starting to set in.  We are all ready to go home, to be home.  I do admit we will miss family here, and the riding arena (!!!!), but we miss our own family, our own routines, our own life.  The girls are even admitting to missing their brothers!!!!  LOL!  I am ready to sleep in my own bed - I never sleep well when I am away from Steve and this has been a long stretch for us.  Miss my guys, all of them.

So, tomorrow we will take the little girls to school - say our goodbyes, and start the trek home.  I figure we won't get home until maybe midnight, but I can easily live with that.  To wake up in our own beds!  To hear all my kiddos around me!  To hug my hubby!  Sounds like heaven to me!

I have been pondering about 9/11 also.  It was quite emotional for me yesterday morning and I just couldn't coherently blog about it.  I so vividly recall that day.  All of it, and all that came after.  We are so blessed to live where we do, to have the safety we have, the protection and freedoms we have.  It is through the sacrifices of our military, our firefighters, our police, and so many others, that we can HAVE our daily routines, and our simple lives.  I remember for months after 9/11 thanking all of these brave people and praying for them each time I was able to safely tuck my children into their calm beds, into their safe beds.  We can never forget.  We must always remember, and always protect ourselves.  We must value those who sacrifice so much for our safety and lives - not just the folks who are on the front lines, but their families at home who sacrifice also!  I fully intend to raise my children to know of that day, though they were so small when it happened.  We must never forget.  There is so much we must never forget.  I thank the Lord daily for His protection and love.  I pray for our leaders, our country, as we must.  And I try to raise my kids to be the kind of people we need in this world.  I hope, I so hope that we succeed. 

Love to you all from NY!

"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, September 6, 2011

Blogging from the road!

Hi all!
The girls and I traveled to NY state to take care of my nieces while their parents are both gone.  It was a situation of one of those things of "what are the odds of both of these trips needing to be exactly at the same time" kinds of things.  And of course, that is the way it fell.  Plus it is the first week of school for my nieces who are in elementary school.  So, help was needed and it made most sense for the girls and I to come out and help - horse experienced - since they also have a hobby farm with horses!  So, we drove out after Kiley finished her horse show Sunday afternoon.

That was a great experience by the way.  The horse show, not necessarily the drive, though that was no big deal either.  Kiley reall stretched herself and entered in 13 classes over two days - the most she has ever done.  I have been encouraging her to take advantage of all the classes she can, because this year our focus is getting the experience, not  really caring if she does very well, but just getting to know what showing is like and getting the experience under her belt.  Well, she and her trainer have also been working their butts off, and to see the progress Kiley has made since October is just amazing.  I missed the last show - had to work - so seeing this one, the last of the year was huge.  She did great.  Her focus has never been the ribbons or placing, but has viewed that as a bonus.  Lots of the folks she is competing against have been showing for longer than she has.  I love her attitude.  She was so excited in the past when she placed in one class at each show.  Well, this show, she scratched - decided not to do one class - it was so hectic, too close to another class, just too much.  She did twelve classes and got a ribbon in ten of the twelve!!!!  She got a couple thirds (the highest she has placed so far), a bunch of fourths and a couple fifths.  She was very happy with that, because for most classes there were quite a few riders.  It is a bit less of a thrill taking a fifth when there are only five riders!  LOL!  So, she was very happy.  It was a great experience and what an improvement in her skills!!!!  She is really becoming quite the fine rider and all her hard work shows. 

So, once we had packed up all her things, we drove on to NY.  It was about ten and a half hours.  We stopped twice to nap and got here mid morning - it worked out really well.  I missed seeing my brother off, but had thought we might.  I will see him when he comes off, and so we have been learning the ropes and routines here before my SIL leaves tomorrow!  Great fun.  Five girls and me, no boys (as the girls keep reminding me!).  Several of us have little colds, but that is no biggie.  Keeping an eye on it and TLC works. 

I am so glad that we were able to do this for my brother's family.  It worked out just perfectly that we could and I am so glad to spend time with my nieces!  It is an adventure for us girls!  Lifelong memories for us all.  We did AM chores, had breakfast and the girls are playing tag and hide and go seek.  Having fun together.  Pretty soon we will head out and clean out the chicken coop, and then pack the girls backpacks for school tomorrow.  Kiley is planning on some riding so I am sure that we will get that done too.  They have a nice indoor ring here, and I am sure that we will take advantage of that while we are visiting.  Our main goal is keeping my nieces' routines and life as normal as possible.  I think we can manage that! 

We will start school at home the week after we get home.  It will be good to get that routine going too.  We decided to not even attempt until we got back from this adventure.  So, we won't take as many breaks as we sometimes do - shorter Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, but that is just fine.  Staying in our routines year round does really keep us more sane anyway.  And with not knowing when we are traveling to Ethiopia, the plan is to just keep it all together and get as much done as we can so we have flexibility in the future.  At least homeschooling allows this. 

As we were driving we were talking about the states we traveled through, the state capitols, what we could recall about each state and comparing how they are similar and different.  Not hugely educational, but it was also mostly at night!!! 

Well, life moves along, doesn't it?  I miss my guys at home and our routines there, but we will all be fine.  We can enjoy each moment and look forward to being together again!  I understand they re-fenced our front pasture that we had been having trouble with electrifying - the two baby horses would get out though thankfully the big ones didn't!  But this should keep everyone in while allowing all the big horses free access to grazing.  Yay!  All those projects that are on the "to do" list!  We keep whittling them down, but then we also think of new things, so it doesn't feel like the list is getting smaller.  So, I keep reminding myself of what it was like when we bought the place and how far we have come!  Each project really improves things.  It is a journey, that is important.  Living it together and spending time together. 

Hugs to everyone and thanks to my dear hubby holding down the home front so we can help my brother!  Love you Steve!!!  Love you boys!!!!  Enjoy your "guys week"!!!!

"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 24, 2011

Ordinary Hero!!!

Wow, news this am that we are in the TOP 10 to win the OH grant! 5 days left until the contest is over- please help us win! Please shop today and help us win that $500 grant! Thanks for being Ordinary Hero's for our adoption! Please shop this link today! Can 10 more people step out and shop today??? http://www.ordinaryherostore.org/
To make sure we get credit for the sale, when you are in the billing section, you simply click on the drop down box labeled "affiliate name" and you will find us in that list under Oswald, Steven and Christine.  This contest runs through Sunday and we have a chance to add that $500 grant to our total sales grant!  We are getting down to the wire in bringing our girls home.  Just one more agency fee ($9000), then plan tickets for two trips and funds for over there.  I am working like crazy, we are doing a rummage sale in mid September and just really getting lots done!  We will get there!  Babies, we are coming!!!  As soon as the governments will allow! 

"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, August 18, 2011

One of those days on the farm! LOL!

Well, it has been one of those days, in a humorous way.

The riding lawnmower - with the grass catchers on it that make our goats and horses very happy - has not been running well lately.  I did some research online and found that maybe it was the air filter - so the kids and I located that and cleaned that.  No better.

Then we decided to check the spark plug - well, that wasn't it either.  At least I know where it is now.

My time has been pretty tight lately, what with play practices for Alex, two different opportunities for me to work (and both buildings are busy, which is really unusual, but a huge blessing at this time), and getting Kiley to the stable for her training, and the usual dentist and doctor appointments and what not.  So, I hadn't done any further research.  The lawnmower sat sadly next to the goat pasture.  Sigh.  While the grass kept growing and growing.

And growing.  Can you tell that it is quite long in places?  I even let the mini pony out and a couple of the goats (the ones that don't tend to wander) to try to work on some of the grass.  Sigh.

So, beloved hubby came home from work today and fixed the lawnmower!  Yay!  We loved having him in the play, but oh, my goodness, did we miss him!  Anyway, he fixed the lawnmower!  Turns out that the fuel line was twisted and crimped.  I hadn't gotten around to looking at that yet - yeah, that was it!  Anyway, he got it fixed!   I got home from work and was so excited!  So, he took me over to the lawnmower to take a look and show me what he had addressed. 

And this is what we saw:

 Oh, look.  Greta, the Alpine dairy goat, out and running around out of the pen because she keeps getting picked on by the others.  Hmm...  Smelling suspiciously like gasoline.  The culprit has been found!

Hubby is now going to go the the hardware store on his way home - to get a metal gas line!

"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, August 16, 2011

So much, all at one time, and some times, so little...

It is mid August and things are at a sort of lull, at least as much of a lull as we ever get.  Soccer is done, at least until fall soccer begins - and then one of our kiddos will start football too!  Play (Phantom of the Opera) is done for hubby, but play (Bridge to Terebithia) has begun for Alex.  Kiley has found her perfect show horse, bought him and we are working with a trainer for both of them.  Thankfully, Kiley and I can work off his training and board, so it is all manageable.  Yes, that means I am mucking out stalls and all of that.  Amazing those things that parenting brings you to.  Would I love the lottery, so I could pay for it rather than working it off - absolutely!!!  But to see them together, to see what God has brought, yeah, I can muck out stalls a couple times per week!! And I get to learn how to drive a skid steer!  Not to even mention that five years ago I had no idea what a skid steer was!

We have been so blessed, I have the opportunity for many extra hours at my temp job - which is great, except that I am tired!  But it is helping us so very much, that it cannot be described.  God provides, generally, in my experience, by work!  LOL!  Thanks!!!  I love to be able to help!

We also suspect that we won't get a court date for our little girls until late November. Court closed yesterday and is closed until October third (in Ethiopia).  I am working so hard not to be frustrated, all the delays, all the costs, etc.  We are STILL waiting on our tax return!  Sending more paperwork in to the IRS.  I truly wish President Obama had not included it in Obamacare.  It would have made my life so much easier.  Oh, well, maybe we will get it in time for our travels!  In the meantime, I make no plans for it, just plan to work my butt off and get it paid off that way.  If it comes through - hooray!!!

I love summer in WI.  It has been so hot this summer, following a great deal of rain - I literally gave up on my garden.  I intend to feed the goats off of what is growing out there!  Today we pruned some trees, cut down some burdock bushes, and the goats loved them!  I hope to keep that going - it would be so much easier if the lawn tractor worked, but it seems to have developed a mysterious malady and isn't running right now.  Sigh.  I have been using clippers to get the worst of it done, thankfully, we live in the country.

We are watching our beloved Abby, our white German shepherd, decline over time.  We got her from the humane society in spring 2002, when she was nine months old - my reaction to 9/11.  She has been a great dog, but arthritis is setting in heavily for her, and today we realized that her hearing is going badly.  She no longer needs to be on a leash, she won't leave our property any longer, and she won't even try to jump on the couch.  We know her days are numbered.  We keep giving her glucosamine, but it hasn't seemed to help.  This will be a hard one, when we have to decide that she is suffering too much.  We all love her so much.

Well, I have to admit that I am tired, and that I know that leaving for the stable at 6AM is going to be quite early!  If I don't head to bed, I won't make it!  I know that this is a phase in our lives, and I try to live out every moment, but sometimes I am surely looking forward to a slower pace!  This is only temporary, I know this, but to be in the midst is tiring!!!

"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