A life of love

A life of love
Everyone should have a Great Pyrenees

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Stone Silo Enterprises

 Okay, so we are trying to put all our endeavors in one place as we work to build multiple streams of income.  We want to use what we have and be good stewards of what we have, as well as to become completely debt free.  So, we have several things we are working on, and needed a place to put it together.  You probably have seen our diabetes log books, and I also recycle feed bags into really useful and strong tote bags, as well as we are working on several Amharic/English items!  So, we decided to do a facebook page for it, so it was easy for us to add things to!

Here ya go!
Stone Silo Enterprises

Check it out!

"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 26, 2012

As we all prepare for the holidays to continue...

I just wanted to quickly share with you a resource I found that I am really enjoying.

At this point in time, in this economy, with so much going on, we are all stretching every dollar as far as possible.  Well, there are actually some really good resources to help you.  I wanted to share one with you.

There are so many ideas and options on this site, that you really need to go explore on your own to find what you are most needing.  We have way modified our cleaning products, making our own laundry soap, and baby wipes and it seems like more and more each day.  That has made a huge dent in out budget, thankfully.  And it has inspired me to keep looking for more ways to be good stewards of what God has blessed us with.  Please feel free to share any ideas and resources you might have, as well as check out this one.  I have to admit, I put lots of things on my facebook page, most often so I have a way to find it again when I have time.

Well, on that note, and from the toddler excitement in the next room, I had better make this a hasty post.  Everyone is well, everyone is full from Thanksgiving and I even had my 25th class reunion which really was fun!  We are in full swing preparing for Christmas and I actually, for once, have a good chunk of my Christmas shopping done!  Not complete, but a good dent.  I am not a fan of shopping and dislike the stores, so tend to avoid it as much as possible.  Plus it is just a little complicated in our life right now.  Our van is still in the shop,  and with various kids in tow, it gets challenging!

God is good, life is good, we have only had less than half an inch of snow so far, and last week we even had a couple days in the 50's, so for Wisconsin, we have nothing to complain about!  LOL!

Enjoy life, live every minute and rest when you can!  Best wishes and hugs to 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

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"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

I thought I would leave my tagline as my intro today.

Life has been a whirlwind, and for oh, so many reasons.

Let's see, there are ten kids and two adults, four dogs, eleven horses, uncounted cats, twelve rabbits, sixteen ducks and uncounted chickens in our household.  Okay, so really, the horses, most cats, rabbits (except one), ducks and chickens all live outside.  But still.

Oh, yeah, and now, as of today, eight of our ten kids are teenagers, and the other two are toddlers!  Sometimes way too similar to imagine.  A toddler tantrum can look very much like a teen tantrum (though in all honesty and to my kids' credit, we have very few teen tantrums.  Now, toddler tantrums on the other hand....).  And our teens are transitioning all over the place.  At the moment, as of this second, three have paying jobs, one just literally, literally moved home from an internship (this mama heart is dancing for joy by the way!), and the four thirteen year olds - yes, I did say FOUR thirteen year olds - are keeping busy with basketball, Latin, babysitting, church plays, choir and whatever else comes up.  Yep, eight teenagers all at once.  Some days, the hormones and drama just rage.

I am getting good practice at letting the steam roll off of them and them calming down and realizing that the world will honestly not end because "so and so" is "mad" at you this second.  Because most of the drama blows over within the hour, though some can last longer.

And the toddlers are settling in quite well as typical toddlers, who are currently stretching our brain cells by repeating EVERYTHING we all say!  In fact, the story one of the bigger kids confessed to, was an accidental swearing (somewhat justified given what had happened that second), which was promptly imitated by a two year old, of course at the top of her lungs, at which point the elder realized their mistake and desperately tried to undo it - of course before Mom happened to hear her littlest one chanting a four letter word in glee!  Have to admit, the story literally had me rolling!

Ah, yes, and teens come up with the most interesting things - the toddlers were chasing several teens around the other night, pretending to be "zombies" - not quite what I had planned for this age.  On the other hand, to hear all the siblings laughing and squealing in glee and fun made it hard to be perturbed about.  There are some things you just have to let go of, I guess.  I think I see where all the changes come from - with your first, you are so protective, maybe too protective, and by the time you have several more, you realize that most of what you feared won't actually hurt them anyway, and isn't scarring anyway.  Some kids pretend to be bears, my littles pretend to be zombies. Not that they know what zombies are.  Oh, except a thirteen year old (who shall remain nameless) did tell them they were supposed to pretend to eat people.  Yeah, that wasn't planned on either.  I guess bears/zombies all eat people, right?  LOL!

Food Network 16-In. Electric Skillet (Google Affiliate Ad)

We have also decided that cooking in bulk and assembly line works quite well.  And teenagers are quite often quite willing to jump in and help if there is food involved.  Lately my kiddos have been cooking just about as much as I have, if not more.  Some days chasing the toddlers is more something that I have to do, and the big kids jump right in - for which I am very grateful - and they are very good!  (My poor husband had to put up with all my learning to cook when we first married.  He lost 20 pounds in the first six months.)  We have discovered that a large skilled works great for pancakes, french toast, injera, grilled cheese and on and on.  It has become a staple at our house!

The other day three of the kids got a hankering for tortillas. However, Mom was not headed to the store, and the cost is just too much anyway (a package disappears in the blink of an eye).  So, they looked up and found a recipe they liked and went to town.  I have to totally admit with pride that the tortillas were FABULOUS!!!!!

Jpc Equestrian Himalayan Horse Rock Salt Lick 2.2 Pound - 3304 (Google Affiliate Ad)

AND, to announce, my horsie kiddo moved home on Saturday!  We are still letting the dust settle somewhat, but it is so good to have her home!  She grew a lot, learned an immeasurable amount, and came back a much more mature young lady.  I am so glad to have her home.  It was quite the experience, but being away, and not being able to be home for visits was just too much for someone so young.  I am so proud of her for sticking it out for three months, and really making sure that this was what she wanted.  I cannot even begin to tell you all that she learned, but it is so nice to have her knowledge as we build our place here.  I missed my girl!  We are redesigning our nutritional program for our horses, and getting quite hands on with all of them.  I cannot tell you what her experience level is now!  Who would have thought anyone could learn so much in three months?  But, our family is all now under one roof again, and I am happy.  Plus, we found so many opportunities for her here in our area, so who knows where life will take her!

Well, I got my quiet moments to finally write - toddlers are now asleep.  I sit on the floor in their room while they fall asleep, and my laptop is my dearest friend then.  They love that I am present and with them, and I try to catch up on things!  I love to hear their gentle breathing, and yes, I can tell when they are finally really asleep, just by their breathing!  They are energy in motion in general and it is just phenomenal to see their personalities develop and see all their growth!  I am so blessed and I know it.  Maybe not in ways the world sees as blessings, but by what really counts.

Have a lovely Thanksgiving, I hope you enjoy the blessings of family and friends, or simple comforts as we reflect on what is truly important.  Love to you all!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Relaxation breathing through the election....

Whew.  I don't know about you, but we are ready to vote tomorrow and get this election over with!  Between all the robo calls - I have now talked to Pat Boone, Clint Eastwood and some other celebrity whose name escapes me at the moment, as well as all the regular people voices - the mailers, the radio ads, the TV ads, and all the discussion and hype, I am so ready for this to get over with.  The kids keep asking when the commercials will stop - tomorrow morning?  Nope, tomorrow will be worse.  But soon, we hope.

I know that this is all really important, and I know that many of us have quite strong opinions on which candidates we want to see come into office, and I know it has far reaching implications.  But, I also hope that we will all keep clear heads and know that God continues to be in control, no matter the outcome.  Ultimately, that is the platform I am most concerned with - God's.  He can use anything for his purposes.  Even candidates we don't want to see in office.  Whatever, whoever.

This year Alex will vote for the first time, the first of our kids to be of age to do so.  I am pretty sure I know how he is voting, but only because of what he has said to me.  Do I know who I want him to vote for?  Certainly.  Should I be telling him who to vote for?  NO.  Will I share with him my thoughts and reasons and research?  Absolutely.  But it is between him and God who he votes for.

And maybe that is really the attitude we need to all have as we walk into this.  We have all had our chances to talk about what we want people to hear, to try to persuade, to make our thoughts and beliefs known.  Tomorrow, let's just vote.  Peacefully, with gentle spirits in our hearts, but each do our part and vote.  Make our own preferences known, perform our civic duty, and our responsibilities of citizenship.  Just vote.  The hubbub of the campaign ultimately comes down to tomorrow and how each of us vote.  Not anymore who we try to influence, other than to encourage people to get out and make their wishes known.  Support our candidates and respect the offices we are voting for.

But in the end, let's all go to bed with gentle hearts, with the knowledge that our peaceful democratic process has yet again run its course.  Not all of us will be happy with the results.  But will anger, wailing and gnashing of teeth change anything - no.  If something needs to be changed, then let's work through the correct channels to do so, but otherwise, we need to rest in the vote.

And no, I don't think it is a perfect system, and I may be very unhappy with some results tomorrow - or very happy.  I don't know.  But in the end, I will tuck my kids into bed, start another load of laundry, pay some bills, maybe sip some tea or a glass of wine, and grab a book to snuggle down with as the results continue to come in.  In reality, in my day to day reality, many things won't change drastically no matter the outcome.  I wish they would.  I think over time things do.  But honestly, Wednesday morning I will still get up, get some breakfast going, herd toddlers and teens, feed my horses and other animals, and continue our life.  There are many things that we hope this election will improve, but it won't happen on Wednesday - though I would love it if the price of gas dropped through the floor!!  But really, change is a slow process, and we all have to just keep living.

I don't want to sound like I don't care, because I do, wildly.  I lean very hard in one direction.  But the sun will not change its direction based on the election, and God won't be surprised no matter what.  Remember, we are all citizens, in ONE nation, under God, indivisible.  We have the choice to keep it that way.

God bless and vote your heart.  But VOTE!!!!

"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 11, 2012

Going through the hard stuff - article

I submitted this article for publication in a small local magazine that has published several other articles of mine, and I really wanted to post it here.  Some days my topics for submission really fall from real life, from moments in time that are very meaningful - unlike tonight where I watched my toddlers attempt to (badly) sing along with the X Factor.  It was hysterical, but probably only to a besotted mama!  I thought I would put this out on my blog and see what you thought.  (Disclaimer:  Nothing horrible is going on, everyone is good, life is just life, and kids get to learn to deal with unpleasant situations.)

Going Through the Hard Stuff
By Christy Oswald

I honestly think, as a parent, one of the things I have struggled with the most over the years, is watching my children work through difficult situations. Whether it was the unkindness of a friend, the interactions of toddlers, the drama of preteens and teens, it really doesn't matter. We watch our children struggle with the harshness of life, and I find that it hurts ME a great deal.

It is very hard to not step in and react in those situations. I really WANT to. Honestly, I could arrange or fix the situation, take it out of my child's hands, and make SURE my kid simply did NOT have to deal with the ugliness of life.

And, that would be a colossal mistake.

I so want to protect my child, shield him/her from any hurt or discomfort, but honestly, they need to learn to deal with what is sometimes the unkind reality of life. Better that they learn to deal with it while I am close by to lend a listening ear, some advice or direction and certainly some love and support. Oh, but the agony of watching it happen and not just MAKING IT STOP!!!!!

So, I want to encourage you, one parent to another: be there for your child, support your child, but let them find their way through this maze. I always think of it as similar to how we support a young tree. That young sapling is supported by ground wires and all to help it through those winds of the first winter and year. As it strengthens, it is better able to support itself and stay strong, and so we can lessen the support it gets. Eventually, it is a strong tree, that needs no support to withstand the winds of life. Our children are the same way. We need to give support, without taking away their ability to work through and withstand the storms of life. And sometimes that means, loving them as they learn to deal with difficult people and difficult situations. But with each experience they will grow stronger and have more in their toolbag to use to deal with the challenges of life. If we were to always step in, to always just fix it, they would never develop that ability. And they need it. They need to learn to manage those things within the loving support of our family. It is a balancing act, and one that changes as our children age, and that is honestly different from child to child. Follow your gut, think of how you can help them learn to deal with difficult situations, because odds are, eventually, they will have difficult coworkers, bosses, relationships, neighbors, something will happen. They need the tools to be able to manage in these situations. You are aiming to give them the skills for life, not just to get through today.

But, oh, how hard it can be when we want to protect our child from all the hurts and discomforts of life. I get it, I really, really, really do. So, consider this a hug from me to you, as we walk our children through the process of growing up and becoming mature, responsible, caring adults!!!

Christy Oswald is a writer, an animal lover, and a mom to ten. At this point, she has a child in every age range, and some days has seen more than she would wish for. She has been known to sit on her hands and bit her tongue in order to not step in where she shouldn't, and allow her children to work through situations. She probably has the scars to prove it!

"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 2, 2012

Strength to you on a bad day - a message

I hope you will bear with me a little bit.  This is a message directed to one of my daughters, but may be pertinent or helpful to someone else.  It is entirely my thought, and I hope it sends some words of encouragement to someone.

First of all, we all have bad days.  I know that right now today feels like the worst ever.  You are in the thick of things, the emotions, the frustrations, the sadness and hurt.  Today, it feels horrible.  There is no minimizing your day and how you feel about it.  Some days it is just better to take the time to feel it, pull the blankets over your head and deal.  You can hide away some.

But, tomorrow, you need to get out from that hole and go on with life.  I am pretty sure you will feel better about it all tomorrow, or at least have a little bit of perspective on your side.  Honestly, it is amazing what some sleep and a little bit of time will do.  And, if it doesn't, keep going.  Jump right back into life and get going.  That alone will carry you along.

Odds are tomorrow will be a way better day.  Some days your bad day is the result of someone else's bad day.  You get kind of caught in the crossfire.  It happens.  It isn't fair, and it is really, really hard.  Try to extend some grace if you can.  At the very least, try to let it go.  Learn what you have to learn from today, but move forward.  Your life still awaits you.

Know always that you are loved unconditionally.  By your family and your Lord.  Go to your Bible.  Read and immerse yourself in grace and His love.  He will send some peace.  His Word is His love letter to you.  Try to put gentle words in your mouth, turn away from harsh responses (no matter how deserved) and do your best.  It is hard.  It is.  You know how I struggle some times with the same thing.  We are all human, just the way God made us.

I am telling you, from years of experience, that things will look better soon.  I cannot tell you when, but it will.  Most likely tomorrow will be a stellar day.  Seems like that is often the way it goes.  Try to view tomorrow with a fresh outlook.  Be positive.  Keep a servant's heart (I know it is hard at times, I know).  Let your actions show.  Be slow to anger, be slow to use your tongue.  I bite mine regularly some days.  And I am finding that it helps as later on I realize my reaction would have been based solely on emotion rather than reality.  Some days it is better to simply say nothing.

It is really hard when you know that things are unjust, but I firmly believe that these things will show in time.  You do your best, be humble and keep on keeping on.

Please know that I love you.  That God loves you.  That life will look better soon.  I promise.  Please read the Bible verse below, you know it is one of my favorites!!!!  He has YOUR best in mind, always.

"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, September 28, 2012

Scentsy party!!!! Christmas is coming!!!!

I am having an online Scentsy party - if you are local and get your order to me or my consultant then we can get you free shipping (but if you order online we cannot, just FYI).

I haven't had much experience with Scentsy prior to this but wow, it it great items, and smells LOVELY!!!!!

So, stock up for now, those glorious fall scents, and think about Christmas coming!  There are the most adorable little stuffed critters, wonderful warmers to go with the scents.  Imagine yummy smells throughout your house!

My party runs October 1 to October 14th.  Please go to this site to check it out:
https://barbaravolkema.scentsy.us/Scentsy/Buy?partyId=107703407.  That is my party.  It says "Oswald Van Party" - see, I told you we were going to pull out all the stops!  LOL!  My friend has started in Scentsy a few months ago and is doing amazing things with her business.  I am so glad to be able to be part of it.

So, take a look!  Have 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

Challenging seasons

God never promised that following Him would be easy.  In fact, He promised that it would NOT be.  In my mind I always knew it, in my heart I knew it.  I just have to admit that I hoped that there might be shorter stretches of hard.

There are so many parts of life that are hard, and everyone faces it.  We all do.  Health, family, relationships, jobs, the economy, aging, transitions, all of it and more. We all walk this road of human life.  This was a life we were never intended for.  God designed us for heaven, that is our home.  This here, well, this is our journey.

Journeys are hard, they are long, and plans never seem to go as we planned - at least most journeys I have been on.

God set us a journey.  He set our family a particular journey.

No, we aren't missionaries - some days I wish we were.  I would expect some of this in a foreign country and it would be easier to put into a mental box.  But, in some ways, we are missionaries.  We ALL are.  We walk through a fallen world.  We try to be salt and light, and at times are despised and ridiculed for it.  It is a part of our life.  I wouldn't trade our journey, but I think it is acceptable to say that there are times that we all must get weary.  It is not a shock be despised and misunderstood by some.  But those unkind words and all really hurt.  When you do your best and try your hardest and unkindness comes, it hurts.  You want to scream and rail and deny, but you know it is pointless.  It hurts.

This has been a season.  A season we expected in some ways.  You don't choose to adopt children and parent ten children without knowing that there will be tough seasons in the process.  You don't choose to try to raise the children in an honorable way, with good work ethics and values as well as faith, and not know that there are going to be difficult times (to say the least).  You don't choose to start over with toddlers and not know that there are going to be days of weariness as they transition to a new life as well as grow as toddlers should.  You don't choose to purposefully encourage your children to follow their interests and passions and that you will do what you can to help them explore it - and not know that it might take them beyond your borders more than you would like.  You don't make the decision to parent so God's bent and plan for your children can be fostered and not know that this will stretch you in ways you might never imagine.  You don't choose to be public and transparent about your faith and motivations without knowing that there will be naysayers who choose to step in.  You don't choose to take life one step at a time, in faith, not entirely knowing where it will lead without knowing that sooner or later someone will say that you are irresponsible. 

And this is a season that has been so hard on our family in so many ways. The toddlers are doing well, and are toddlers - they are very good at being two and three!  The transition is coming.  They are bonding well and all.  But it is exhausting.  I told our Sunday school directors at church (for years) that it was very difficult if not beyond overwhelming for parents of a special needs child to get to church to be ministered to so they could better go on the path God had given them.  I knew from the families I worked with over the years that the stress of doing it all was just too much, so church became one more thing that just was too much.  And now I am living it.  Knowing that the ordeal that it takes to get everything done so the little ones can be at church with us, it is just enough to put me over the edge.  I think I have made it to church once a month in the last four months.  If someone isn't throwing up on me, or tantruming or (add whatever you can imagine), then we might make it, but most days it doesn't work that way.  So, I am distant from our church family.  Thankfully we have a wonderful live broadcast of it, so I am still participating, while herding toddlers and cleaning up messes.  But sadly I missed my youngest middle daughter's debut as part of the choir, which did cause me to shed some tears.  I saw her face, but it wasn't the same.  And it isn't the same.  We are called to be part of the body of Christ, but for the first time in my life, I am not in a position to give.  I have never not done that, in one way or the other.  See, that is my love language - service.  So I serve.  And now I cannot.  I know that it is the season that God has placed us in, but it is hard.  I don't know how to do anything but serve.  I just cannot right now. 

There is so much activity, so many challenges, many good, some hard, some just irritating.  The growing pains of all the kids, the challenges, the strengths, the beauty.  It is overwhelming.  All they need to learn to be fully the adults of character we pray for for them, I worry about it constantly.  Raising so many to adulthood, watching so many so close and knowing that I so want to send them out strong and complete and well, and ....  Yeah, you get it.

And it is a season in the economy that is difficult for everyone.  No one is doing very well from what I can tell.  For us it has been one thing after another.  If it isn't one car it is another.  Unexpected expenses, and of course, everyone wants it NOW.  (Me too, by the way)  Some days I just don't even want to open the mail.  Medical bills, ugh.  The bills we are working to pay off totally, the entire thing.  Balancing the budget.  I know that everyone is in the same spot.  That is only sort of reassuring, because I want to reach out and help others, and I feel like I have so little to give.  On top of that, the van died the other day - well, dead enough that it needs a new engine.  Sigh.  How do you get a family our size around with one small car?  Thankfully Alex has his car, so can help, but with soccer, physical therapy appointments, stable work and other appointments, it is going to be a challenge.  I do think I will end up driving Steve into work so I have the car some days, but it is what it is.  A couple more weeks and soccer will be done.  But life continues!

So, we, like most families need to take assessment of our resources.  We need to do everything we can to get through.  To pay for repairs, to be good stewards, to continue to pay off what little we have.  It is what we all do in a tough economy.  God gave us our gifts, our skills and creativity.  How do we all face this challenge?  It isn't just our family.  How do we do it?

Well, here are some thoughts.  Look around the house - what can be sold off?  Every dime counts.  Every little bit.  Amazon is a great place to sell books that you have in the house (we have lots and lots by the way).  Ebay.  We used that to get Kiley to Illinois to her training stable - that and something else very painful, but it was the right thing.  And God has blessed it. And part of what we are doing is something that doesn't quite make sense.  I don't know, I just know that God was very clear about it.

We are giving stuff away. 

Nothing like the house or anything, but other things.  Some is very clearly paying it forward - blessing others with things we have been gifted with over the years - pack and plays and what not that we have outgrown (don't even BEGIN to ask me if we think God might ask us to expand the family again - at this point, we don't think so, we are very much full up, but IF He does, IF He calls us again, then He will also help us to provide, so holding onto things "because maybe" just doesn't work for us).  Someone can use them right now.  Right now.  Somewhere someone is need.  I cannot be holding on with tight fists.  In any area of life.

I am going through and we are selling what we can, because, well, a new engine for our van is not cheap.  And not in the budget.  We have lived out life without credit, but there are still things that get piled up.  We have much less debt than you hear about, and frankly, (LOL!) most of it was incurred with adoptions.  Whether we let it build up as we balanced to bring kids home, or the one small credit card we have (less than $3000 in case you were curious - see, transparent), or whatever, but it is there.  We have been working the Dave Ramsey plan for ages, and are at it even more intensely right now.  And then the van.  Ah, we must have been on to something!!!  LOL!

So, here is our plan.  We sell - ebay, Amazon, creativity (my bags are now at a local store!!!!), my writing, and any hours we can get at jobs - I am confined to only working weekends with the littles at home, but even that is hard.  Our goal is to have that intensity done by Christmas, but who knows.  I am putting together more of our diabetes log books and we are working on a coloring book set of kids and families - in Amharic and English!  I want to give you ideas, and some of them are just dumb - like recycling your aluminum cans (literally, every dollar counts), doing odd jobs as they come up, saving money on everything you can, bartering for things you need.  There is no dumb answer.  I am threatening to put a jar in our room that says "van engine"!!!

God has placed us all here in this time, in this country, in this economy.  I wish I could reach out and touch all of the folks who are struggling - I am so very sure that we are not the only ones!  I know the frustration, struggle and despair.

But, BUT, God has placed us all here, for such a time as this.

What are YOU here for?  What is YOUR role in this life?  What has God put in your hands?  One step at a time, one thing at a time, but do it.  BE who God has called you to be.  Know that His path is not always easy, not comfortable at times, but it is His path and it is blessed.  Take part in the bigger picture of life.  Be who God intended you to be.  Reach out and fight for your family.  I found this video below as I was searching YouTube for music for while I was writing this - and it so spoke to how I felt today.  So, you go and fight the good fight - whatever it is God has called you to!!!

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, September 24, 2012

More days...

I hope that no one thinks that I don't care, as you will have noticed that my writing has slowed down significantly this last six months or so!  But it is just that life is so very busy!  So busy living life that it is hard to write about it!

Fall is coming, here at the homestead, as much as we would rather that it wouldn't.  Horses and goats are getting fuzzier.  It seems early which may be a sign of an awful winter to come.  I hope not, but what can you do?  We have so much going on!  One horse is moving from the training stable because he is too young for training, and it lightens my load to have him right here at home.  Besides, he is my morning hug, and having him here will be so nice.  And cut down some of my running time!  And, I just got a call that Kiley's horse JT is wanted in IL, to be with her.  So there is a mad scramble underway to get him down to her.  At this point, it is for a month, but we are hoping that we can find a way for it to be longer.  We shall see what God has in mind!!!

That changes our routines as we have to care for the horses at the stable, as well as the horses here.  The horses here are just as sassy as ever and I always look forward to spending time with them.  My saddle horse had gone through a spell where he wasn't feeling so well, but he is clearly back to himself now, so I will be back to saddling him and doing some work here - and yes, with my helmet on (if you don't recall, I took a tumble a year and a half ago and got a concussion, I don't think I will ever live that down).

Alex has a new job - working for the NEW Zoo, just outside of Green Bay, and while it is a bit of a hike for him to get to work, it is a great job and he loves it.  Nice to see him happy and productive.  His senior year is becoming quite busy!

Zeri is still in PT, but we should be nearing the end - he is totally off of crutches and back to most of his normal things - but no impact and regular breaks.  He even went back to work for short bits, but there is still a lot that he cannot do.  It will come, but the healing goes well.

We are doing lots of reorganizing and deep cleaning and just generally passing on the blessings!  It is too easy to find that you held onto something because you might need it, when someone needed it today!  And we are finding that the blessing comes back to us too.  Just today, Kiley told me that she is coming home the first weekend of October, but she is also going to a homecoming that weekend.  Yikes - so I get her home on a Friday night and she is then needing the full dress and all for Saturday night!  Yikes!  Hooray for social media!  Threw the dilemna out into cyberspace, and we now have a selection of borrowed dresses for her to choose from for her day.  She doesn't really want one to keep - as she puts it "I'm not going to be likely to wear it again", but to be all girlie and fun (and not horse related) will be huge for her.  I can find a way to manage shoes and accessories on a short time frame!  What a hug from God!

We are approaching winter with hopes for spring and progress.  Around here there is always something that needs doing, some progress that can be made.  Each year it is a different project, and it all adds up.  So, there is some daydreaming going on.  God has his plans, mine are only wisps in the wind.  I throw them out there, but His plans will prevail.

Enjoy fall!!!!

"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, September 14, 2012

Whew, what a ride! God loves roller coasters!

We are approaching our eldest's 18th birthday, and I have very mixed feelings.  I am so very proud of this young man, all the things he is working on with character and for his future.  And even though I know in my mind that he is really a man now, it is hard to face.  He has been taller than me for quite some time (not a great feat if you know me face to face, as I am only five foot five) but in my heart he will always be that tow-headed baby who first made me a mama.

And there are so many other things going on!

Kiley is a Young Rider at a huge Dressage barn (think the horse things you saw in the Olympics - yep, that is what she is training to do and be).  It is the most amazing opportunity, one we did not seek out, one we weren't even aware existed.  We never dreamed that our oldest daughter would be living four hours away, managing all her cares and all (she is well capable and has been for quite some time), and that we would all be thriving.  I will admit to many days spent fighting tears - she has been my constant companion her entire life (she was the original child who still have the umbilical cord fully attached) , but to hear of her joy, her progress, her growth, and to be part of it, even from sort of afar, it is so amazing.  She has been there four weeks now, and we think she may be able to come home for a few days in a couple weeks.  Thank goodness for the internet and phones!  I don't know how my mom did it when I left home!!!!  Also, thank goodness Kiley has always been our driven child, advanced in her schooling, and able to direct her own path and studies.  This is a full internship, academically and all, and she is doing well.  But still, to this mama's heart it is hard.  Great, but hard.  Not what I had planned quite so soon.  But the joy in her voice makes it all worth it.

Zeri is healing from his fracture really well, he is now totally off of crutches, although he really has to limit how much standing and walking (and certainly impact) he gets.  He continues with physical therapy, but is healing well and should make a full recovery.  God is good!!!

Ben and Solly are loving middle school soccer (and I am grateful that Alex's car is fixed so he can help me with some of the running!!), and learning to manage their time more independently.  Good growth times.

Faith and Tsion are both blossoming in different ways.  It is so nice to see the sisterly closeness they have, and at times their need to be independent from each other - the four that are almost the same age (Ben, Solly, Tsion and Faith) revel at times in the uniqueness of their situation - how many other families have four kids in the same grade and nearly the same age???  LOL!

Aman is our entertainer - some days, and apparently has been teaching Azeb some of his dance moves, as she is sometimes very happy to demonstrate to everyone's great delight!

Speaking of Azeb - she had her first visit to the Down Syndrome Clinic at Children's Hospital in Milwaukee.  Steve and I realized that we have made at least 35 visits there in the last nine years as that is also where Kiley and Aman receive their diabetes follow up appointments.  There was a heart murmur noted that will be fully assessed with a sedated EKG - probably the only way to get any kind of ready on our active little whirlwind.  Bloodwork was taken for testing for other things that she might be more prone to, but no real concerns were noted.  We are blessed that the doctor there has an adult child with Downs and has also adopted two children internationally at young ages, so is very familiar with the myriad of issues we deal with.  And his assistant also has an adult child with DS!  It was a very helpful visit - for me this is a journey beyond being the professional treating a child with DS and now being the parent (but you never quite shut off the professional portion - so says my hubby who tells me that Azeb receives constant speech therapy - and he is right!).

Kahsu is spunky, and still the diva.  She is now up to 19 pounds, has outgrown one size of shoes, but is still our little peanut.  She delights in being a two year old in every sense of the word and then seeing how far she can wrapper her big siblings around her little finger!  Whew, some days!

Steve and I are finding that we are beginning to get our feet back under us again.  This is a common part of the transition when you adopt a child - everything changes, and for quite a while you are just getting through each day.  Not in a bad way, though sometimes that is the case also.  And then one day, you realize that some things are easier and feel more normal.  Or rather feel more like a "new" normal.  It is a time when we have to make sure we always have each other's back and keep supporting each other.  It is about giving 200%, because that is what is needed.  Some days you are in the eye of the hurricane and some days you are in the midst of the wind.  But you can never, ever, even for a moment look away from your partner - you need each other, you must watch for each other's needs.  Because what the family needs is so intense, and no one really quite understands.  And so you put on the face that everyone expects, and just get on with what needs to be done.  We have found that very few can relate, and sometimes it can be very lonely and isolating.  But we also know that it will smooth over, it will come around, and the intensity will subside.  The new normal will get worked into the tapestry.

So, here is to weaving the tapestry!  It is a picture only God could create and I just pray we each do the parts we are called to 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

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Update on the busy homestead!

I am trying to figure out how to put the last few weeks in perspective.  So much has happened, God has so much in the works!

The babies are settling in well - and challenging every boundary we give them, which is normal for where they are in life and in the adoption transition.  They are growing, bonding, learning and developing.  I am forever amazed at the gifts God gives young children.  The resiliency, the ability to learn rapidly, all of it.  Challenging to parent at times, but wonderful to see!

On another note, we are seeing a lot going on at home.

Last week Tuesday, Zeri got hurt in soccer, the last game of the season.  First fifteen minutes of the game - so glad I didn't just have Alex drop the boys off at soccer, and went to the entire game myself.  To make a long story short, Zeri and I took an ambulance ride, while our dear, wonderful small town neighbors, and my crew of kids made sure everyone was just fine and got safely home after the soccer game.  Zeri broke his tibia, not the fibula (the small bone in his lower leg), just the bigger bone.  Quite a lot of pain, and thankfully no head injury, though this mama saw her boy flip right over the goalie from afar (I was on the playground with the toddlers, watching the game).  He had surgery the next day to put a rod in the broken bone and is expected to make a wonderfully good recovery and return to sports.  It was quite a test of our family and all that we have raised our kids for - they banded together, took care of each other, some dropped plans and returned to the family unit to care for everyone while Steve and I took care of Zeri.  We got so many compliments on how well our kids did, even in the uncertainty and worry of the moment.  I am very proud of them!  And there are many advantages to being in small community - so many wonderful people stepped up to make sure that the kids were okay, even while they were handling things well, it was so wonderful to know that they had so many helping hands at their resources in a moment of pure crisis.  I am so thankful and cannot thank everyone enough.

We are also preparing for one child to leave on a wonderful endeavor, though earlier than we would have planned.  Kiley has been asked to be a Young Rider for a huge, wildly competitive Dressage (Equestrian) program near Chicago.  It is a huge honor, a huge opportunity, and a great stretch for our very close family.  She will be living four hours away, in a great family setting, in a setting that trains international and potential Olympian Equestrian riders.  She will learn so much.  We are just stunned.  She is anxious to go, terrified, coping with the concept and all of that.  It is basically an apprenticeship.  She will learn so much.  We are blessed that she has a great support system, including a sponsor, and will be in great hands.  We had planned on this at a later date, but she is well able to do this.  It is a great stretch, but we know that God has His hands on her, and has a plan for her that we cannot envision.  KYB Equestrians is wonderful and has really proven to be the right choice.  She will work hard, but learn so much.  As sad as I may be at moments, I know that God has His loving hands on her, and will lay her path straight as we continue to support her life and growth.  We spent several days down there, and to say that it felt similar to our home in attitude, support and training, would be an understatement.  We are thrilled and shaken at the same time.  Prayer appreciated as we enter this new phase in life!

Alex enters his senior year -enough said.  Yikes.  So much to prepare him for!  He is working his way to adulthood.  We are so proud of him and all the hard work he puts in.

Faith and DeeDee continue their dog training, having passed their obedience two class, ready for agility when it begins!  Amazing!  Proud of all the work they do!

Tsion is pursuing her interest in fashion and is preparing for some special classes that are in the process of being arranged.

Ben and Solomon are looking forward to middle school soccer - their last year.  What an energetic crew!

Aman is continuing his music studies, and being a great help to everyone!  We look forward to more art this year!!!

I am generally worn out by the end of the day, hence the less frequent postings.  But, my writing continues!  I just got word that another of my articles was purchased!  Hooray!  

"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, July 11, 2012

Everyday mission field

So, tonight I am writing to you from my littlest girls bedroom.  They are supposed to be settling down to sleep, and with all the newness in their lives as well as our own philosophy of parenting (more like attachment parenting than any other term I have heard) we sit with them, on the floor as they are in their beds, while they fall asleep.

Honestly, it is the same thing we did with our homegrown kiddos too.  Just feels better to us.  They know we are here, they are safe, and that it is time to sleep.  So, I sit on my laptop writing, or facebooking, or playing solitare, or even reading my Kindle (which I totally love, me, the non-gadget queen has now admitted that one of the best gifts my hubby ever gave me, except for my kids, and my ruby, is that Kindle.  I LOVE IT!!!).

Anyway, I don't sit still well, which you have noticed if you know me.  At least not while I still have some energy, and falling asleep on the hardwood floor, just doesn't seem like something I want to do!  So, I sit here and keep myself busy and remind the toddlers that it is time to go to sleep.

They do drop off, eventually.  Some days faster than others.  Today Kahsu did not take a good nap, so she is already asleep.  Azeb now has the upper respiratory thing we all had, and do is more restless, though a bit easier to manage as she has less energy!  I just gave her some oils to help her breathe better so I think she will rest well overall.  But she tends to toss and turn until she gives in to sleep.  She knows if she holds still for more than a minute she will be off to dreamland, and she just isn't ready to let go yet.  She certainly does live life to the fullest!!!

There are so many things on my mind tonight.  We are in such a stage of life.  We knew we would be, but the reality of living it out is always different than what you project.

Our eldest, Alex, is gone to Lifest, a Christian music festival - a couple cities away, until Sunday night.  The band he is in, Sanctify, is amazing and a great group of kids - in fact, can I just marry him off to their drummer, Ory, who I adore???  LOL!  Yeah, probably not, but it is a great group of kids.  The three guys and Ory.  Sanctify won the opportunity to be in the talent competition at Lifest - nine bands got to go, by popular vote, and this is huge around here.  We are so excited for him!  The opportunity this is, is unbelievable.  I cannot even put it into words.  I don't know what God is going to do with this, but I know amazing things are going to happen.  We shall see, but they are really moving forward in the music world.  Who knew when that five year old wanted to learn to play guitar, that this might be part of the result?  It is hard to imagine Alex being such an almost adult, and amazing opportunities opening up for him.  Isn't he still that tow headed toddler crawling all over?  Now the man is taller than me, has to bend down to hug me.  Yikes.

Zeri is talking about looking into the military, and will talk with recruiters from all the branches over the course of the summer.  He is just seventeen, and a junior this year, so has some time, but he is really looking into it.  I can see where it would be a great thing for him.  Scary and wonderful to talk about - yet another man-child who is taller than me.  They seem to keep doing that.  I cannot wait to see where life is going to take him!

Kiley just got the call that she has been accepted as a youth rider for a huge dressage barn in Illinois.  The woman who owns it, runs it, is one of her heroes.  We are just blown away.  She was nominated by her trainer, and accepted.  Right now we are trying to sort out how and when to get her down there and get things going.  Her diabetes adds challenges, but it is just one more thing we will problem solve for her so she can get where she wants to go in life.  This is huge.  As big as being accepted to college on full scholarship.  I cannot express it.  We are all stunned, excited, thrilled, scared and all that.  God has a plan for this child.  She works so hard, knows the value, and gets the most out of every experience.

Aman is working at his first job, at the same place Zeri works, and they work hard.  They work at a mink ranch down the road.  After seeing all the bites on my boys, even with all their protective gear, I no longer have any empathy for folks you don't like the use of fur.  Those animals are MEAN!!!!!  They both come home, stinking to high heaven, give me their work clothes, take intense showers and then are fit for human company.  I worked at the pickle factory for a while and this rivals that.  I remember working nights, and my mom would leave my bathrobe in the garage so I could change out there, leave my clothes out there and head for the showers.  This is just as bad.  Wow.  But the boys work hard, enjoy the results of hard work (and the paycheck) and the respect of their boss.  So it is all good. They really earn every penny!!!

I am glad that some of the kids are still a bit more low key.  Younger, more time at home, still checking life out.  Though now that they are twelve and thirteen, lots is going on for them too.  Ben and Solly are playing summer soccer and their team is undefeated. They help Kiley and I at the horse stable in order to earn their cellular phones.  So, four days a week they are cleaning stalls with us, hauling hay, sweeping up and what not.  They have learned a lot.  Solly is now taller than I am, and Ben is rapidly catching up - I can see him preparing for his growth spurt - he is just about ready to go straight up.  Zeri and Solly are about the same size now.  Alex is still taller, Aman is in the running with Zeri and Solly, and thankfully the girls have slowed for a bit.  Kiley is not quite as tall as me, and hasn't grown taller in the last six months. She is glad for that as she was afraid she was going to be nearly six feet like her aunt, but I think she is just about done.  Faith is ramping up her growing and may end up taller than me and her eldest sister, as she is only twelve.  Tsion is righ there with Faith but I have no idea where she is going height wise.  She certainly looks her age at thirteen and we are having a great time finding her fun and fashionable clothes that compliment her beauty.  I am glad that Faith, Tsion, Solly and Ben are still at home more often than not, and then change in dynamics is neat to see as they grow and their elder siblings are off on their own more.  Faith is our dog trainer (blue ribbons at fair with her dog, DeeDee), Tsion is our fashion girl, Ben is our funny boy, and Solly our gangly engergizer bunny.  I wonder what God has in store for them in the next few years?

Azeb and Kahsu are settling in well.  They are close in age, eleven months apart, closer than any toddlers we have ever had in our home, and the dynamics are interesting.  Right now they are competing for EVERYTHING! The favorite broom at the stable, every inch of Mommy's skin (seriously, who can touch more of Mommy at one time???), the favorite milk cup, and on and on.  And yet, then they turn and hug each other and tell each other "lub yu" while pretending to go "bye-bye".  It is exhausting and wonderful and maddening and great, and the best thing ever, and exhausting.....  I wouldn't change a thing except to add six more hours of uninterrupted sleep to every night.  I have to admit that when they nap, I sometimes do too, and it is down time for the other kids.  And yet to see my huge sons totally wrapped around their littlest sisters fingers, well, it is priceless. Tonight Zeri told us that he is total "toast" when Kahsu turns on her adorable smile -which she certainly does when she wants her way, or knows that she is just being over the top.  And Kiley is totally smitten with Azeb, which is amazing considering how crazy Azeb can make her.  And yet, when I am at the end of my rope, she is able to step in and love on her difficult little sister, in a very practical way.  God has a plan.

So, we are a family of twelve.  Ten children, parents very outnumbered.

I realized today as I was reading a great book on my Kindle - of course all I remember is that it is titled "Passport to Darkness" - and my Kindle is downstairs - remember, I am sitting in a dark room, getting my toddlers safely off to dreamland?  She talks about the calling to the mission field in SUDAN, yikes, of all places.  She is talking about taking that huge step, selling all they own, turning it all over to God.  She talked about walking that out, and for the first time in a long time, I could relate.  We have given up EVERYTHING for our mission.  Agree with us or not.  There were children who needed a family, God laid it out very clearly and we said "yes".

There is a cost.  It is huge.  We are working out refinancing our home, we are still repaying loans we took to bring out kids home, we are juggling so much, and still determined to make life happen as it should for each and every child that God has placed in our home.  We are NOT an  orphanage.  We are a FAMILY.  I have been wanting to talk to people who have said "yes".  Not about the saying "yes" part, but the daily living it out.  Some days, we feel alone and abandoned.  Really, who can relate to a family with TEN kids - very few.  We chose to add disabilities and challenges to our lives.  All God did was ask.  We said yes.  We aren't heroes, we aren't missionaries, we are just people living out the day to day of saying "yes" to God.  He didn't promise it would be easy, in fact, we were always very clear that He promised it would be hard.  And it is.  But it is beautiful.  Most times, some of the time, overall.  It is hard.

Foolishly, or not so foolishly, I had thought that I would be able to return to working on weekends to help make ends meet. That is NOT the case, given the girls needs.  That is okay, just a challenge.  Okay, right now a big challenge, but we have faith that God will see us through, and we keep doing each step that we can see.  I do see a private client, I am getting crafty, and boy am I getting good at feeding a family of twelve on about six hundred dollars a month!  We are creative, we juggle, we adjust.  It is what it is.  It is part of what God seems to have called us to.  Yes, some days I really, really want to hear that earth-shaking voice of God telling me that the Lottery is just around the corner or something, and yet the continual voice in my head keeps saying "write" and so I do.  I don't know how God is going to work it all out, but we do everything we can think of and more.  Someone mentioned to me today that we are on the mission field right where we live - every little thing to care for everyone, to love them, to be family - who knows what might have happened, and honestly, I cannot even go there in my mind as I look at my kids.

So, no, we aren't a recognized mission field, but maybe, just maybe, to God we are.  Maybe my mission field isn't washing the floor, but ministering day in and day out to the kids.  If these kids were still without families and in another country, would doing what I am doing with them be considered a mission field?  Yep.  So is it any different because they are now MY children?  Nope.

You have no idea how much I needed to realize that.  I love each and every one of my kids just as if they were birthed out of my own body and pain, and let me tell you, international adoption affected my own body and had enough pain of its own!!!  Some days I feel like I am just a mom, and odd mom, and no one can relate.  When we were striving so hard to bring the kids home, it was easier to explain.  Now it if feeding, clothing, teaching, nurturing, loving, and training up in the Lord.

We did say yes when God asked us.  We would not say no.  We have determined that, which is why, even though we cannot imagine adding to our family, we still won't say "never again".  See, we tried to do that after our third homegrown child was born, and we have come to see how time and growth changes that answer.  So, we won't say it.  Yes, we are tired and cannot imagine.  On the other hand, two of our kids are seventeen and em barking on their own lives in the next year or two, one the year after, and one two years after that.  And four two years after that.  Time changes many things.  So to try to see into the future, I just won't try to do again.

I do admit that I am one exhausted mama some days.  I am forty two - forty three on Saturday, and while I am very good at juggling things, I am not twenty five anymore.  On the other hand, I know that kids grow up, and need you in different ways, and that life can throw you amazing curves.  So, I am NOT going to try to put limits on God again.  Our family will be what He has ordained it to be.  It is our mission field in and of itself.  I need to view it as that some days, especially when I am "just the mom".  God called us, we said "yes", and we are here.  It is a mission, it is hard, it is beautiful, it is challenging, we are raising children for God.  And yes, I love them to death, even when they make me crazy!!!

"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, June 5, 2012

It's not just our Azeb who needed a home!

I don't know how many of you are intensely following this, but we were blessed to be able to take donations via Reece's Rainbow and to better know that organization in this last adoption.  God has truly moved in our lives, challenged us and led us to our two youngest daughters and the world of raising a child with recognized special needs (two of our kids have type 1 diabetes and we don't consider them special needs in that context - we talk about medical special needs, which is different).  Reece's Rainbow advocates for children with Down Syndrome (primarily) that are waiting for forever families - most of whom will never be adopted, and many of whom may likely perish in institutions never knowing the love of a family.  I am just overwhelmed to think of all the children who wait, who may never be tucked in at night, who many never have the opportunity to grow in love and nurturing.  Because it is true.  There are many children with special needs, with Down Syndrome particularly, who are unrecognized as valuable, as a life to be nurtured and loved.

We protest that thought.

Totally protest that.  I protest that any child grow up without a family to love them and support them.  That any child doesn't have all the love and support that every child deserves.

Reece's Rainbow is an amazing organization.  I am so blessed to have gotten to know them.  I simply cannot look at their waiting children lists.  In all honesty, it breaks my heart.  I have a half a second of wondering about trying again someday, and then am called back by the needs of my kids at home and know that right now it is not within our resources to bring another child into our family.  I refuse to dictate to God that we are done - honestly because each time we have done that, it has been almost like a challenge to God and soon we are expanding our family again.  I simply don't know what God will call us to.  I know that I feel that at the moment He knows that we are full.  That we are using everything we have for the kids He has lovingly placed into our homes.  We are blessed.  We are overwhelmed at some moments, bu through Christ all things are possible.  We know that our littlest ones need so much right now, that our teens need us actively with them in their rapidly expanding lives, that our tweens/almost teens need us too.  We are so fully blessed.  I know what we are called to today.  I do at the moment think our family may be complete, if God so dictates, we may add to it.  I simply cannot imagine it right now.  But on the other hand, before I wish it would happen, several children will fly the nest, become adults (oh, way too rapidly for their mama).  God has a plan.  I don't know what it will be in the future. God has already brought us so far that we never ever would have imagined.  I don't want to tell Him what our future should be (though the lottery would be lovely, if You are listening God!).  I need to take each step that He has laid out for me.

And I do think that for today, our role is to advocate for other children in need. For children like Azeb.  For children who were born with challenges that the world does not see as valuable.  They are.  Just as valuable as any other child.

So, I want to share this link with you: http://onestepclosertohome.blogspot.com/2012/06/racing-for-orphans-with-down-syndrome.html">Racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome - Ironman.  This amazing man is raising money to support the effort to get these kids into homes.  Reece's Rainbow assists with fundraising - the funds raised - listed on our sidebar - are for our post adoption work, thankfully that is the last bit we have left to go.  They have GRANTS for children on their list!!!!  If you are interested in adopting a child with Down Syndrome or another special need who is on their list, there are many grants, some are absolutely huge!!!!  What a huge blessing and help in the process.  Honestly, the finances of adoption are daunting.  We are still repaying loans that we got to bring our kids home.  We have paid off each one before starting another, and a sacrifice that we don't count, but it is still a challenge. We are making payments on what it took to bring our kids to a loving home.  So, these grants are huge to adopting families!!!  You can help bring a child to a family who is willing to love and raise them - possibly for an entire lifetime of care. What a huge gift.  Please, please go to this link.  Read it, learn more.  This wonderful athlete is working to raise awareness and funds for children with Down Syndrome in need of families!  What a creative way to bring awareness of the need to the world.  We each reach out in our own way, and reach those that might hear us.  We are facing a season in which we can raise awareness and hopefully help others adopt children who desperately need homes.  There are several kids on the website that just break my heart, each child speaks to a different family, to a different person - but all I can do right now is pray and raise awareness.  If that is our role now, we will gladly do that.

Please check out this website listed above and visit Reece's Rainbow.  Each life is of value.  Each child deserves love.

I look at Azeb - who can make us crazy as she tests every boundary, and then will scrunch up her little face and let loose with a belly laugh that will just challenge you to not laugh along with her - even when you should be scolding her!  I cannot imagine her little life not being of value.  As she trucks all over, following me, or running away (there is a 50/50 chance of either), exploring the dirt, chasing down a cat (that a few short weeks terrified her) so she can hug it, petting one of our dogs, or telling me a story in her own version of words, jargon and gestures - so clear at times that I totally understood it, well, how could she not be part of a family?  A family to care for her, to look out for her, to nurture her, to entice her to be all that she can be?  EVERY child deserves that!!!!

Okay, off my soapbox.  I need to go feed an orphaned kitten. And check on the chicks that hatched in the incubator in the last two days ( up to six now!), and keep watching the epic news reports of the recall election of our State of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.  And sleep because tomorrow I will take one kiddo to renew his temps (for driving), and then to our time at the stable, then schooling, then the usual!!!!

"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, June 3, 2012

What a life....

As I pack up one more time for the day to head to yet another event, I am blessed by our life.  Right now blessed into an intense desire for a nap.  Horse shows, soccer practices, home care, and all with toddlers in tow. 

I am dressing kids one more time, and heading out.  Can I sleep when I get home?  Oh, I dearly hope so.

"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, May 21, 2012

A new adventure!!!

I am posting in the middle of the day!  What miracle has occurred that has allowed me to do that?  Well, let me share!!!

Number one child, Alex, got his driver's license today!!!  He passed his road test bright and early this morning, no real shock to us.  He has been driving for about a year now, and we are real sticklers about safety and he has been driving a ton with me.  He really is a good driver and I would have been shocked if he had not passed.  And he did!  He was very happy, you cannot wipe the smile off of his face today.

Well, Mondays are our very crazy day, but he offered to take siblings to their various music lessons and voice lessons so I could get the babies down for a nap in their own beds rather than their carseats.  And I got to get some more things done at home.  In fact the babies are just waking up right now!!!!  The kitchen is almost totally reorganized, the bathroom is cleaned and organized, the diabetes drawer inventoried and reorganized.  And I am just stunned at how relaxed I feel right now!!!!  Oh, my goodness!

I have to admit, I was NOT excited for this day to come, until I realized that I could have some help in moving this multitude around!  I was in no hurry to have a kiddo achieve this milestone.  I have mixed feelings.  I don't always want to face the thought of my kids growing up, but I also love, love love seeing them stretch their wings and fly!!!  It is a milestone.  A good one.  I cried over the weekend knowing this was coming (and yet another child had a birthday that made them what seems like a much bigger age).  And this morning to see the joy and look of accomplishment on my eldest son's face - priceless (as the commercial would say).  And then to have him offer to take the afternoon shift of getting everyone where they need to go on our busiest day of the week, so I could be with littles and at my favorite place - home, well, again - priceless.

It is always a balancing act, letting the safety strings out, letting them try out their wings with support and knowing when to be, well, more in there.  It is a monitoring act to make sure that all is well and as it seems, but at the same time allow them to fly as much as they are able, and to only be the guidance system when needed.  I am finding that parenting teens is wonderful, totally wonderful, but very complicated.  I knew it would be.  But it isn't terrible.  Yes, it has terrible moments, but they are only moments.  And the joy of seeing them start to successfully fly!  Wow.

So, today, I am writing, because I can.  As I am writing this, the littlest one just got up from nap and has climbed onto my lap for her wake up snuggles.

Yep, I remember totally why we have ten kids.  Because we love it with a passion.  We love them with a passion.  We love parenting with a passion.  We love God with a passion.  I can only imagine what it must be like for Him to watch us try to walk in His ways.  I compare it to parenting a lot.  I am sure He has wanted to (and HAS) turned me over His knee for disobedience or not following His directives.  But I hope I bring Him joy at times as I struggle to fly!!!!

"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, May 15, 2012

Can you tell we have toddlers and teens????

I know I am behind in updates, as you know, life is a whole new thing with our additions to the family.

Any time you add another person the mix of a family, everyone adjusts.  Well, with the addition of two toddlers, we are in full adjustment mode.  Not that this is a bad thing, but we are reworking our life into who we are now.  That is just what adoption is.  We are no longer the family we were before I left for Ethiopia to bring our daughters home.  That is good.  It is fine, it is just different.

I am trying to find our new normal, and we really are.  I am no longer working outside the home, even on weekends.  As it is, whenever I leave the house now without the littles, we have all sorts of separation anxiety.  Tonight I took Alex to a meeting at his work, and even though I had the littles prepared with snacks of popcorn (which is quite entertaining - food is still a big deal) so they would have an easier transition, but still, there was all sorts of weeping when Mom was gone.  I got home and the two were plastered to me until they crashed out for the night.  Hey, at least they are attaching!!!  So, life is good!

It was an amazing Mother's Day - we got up, Steve and most of the boys had left for church already (they have to be there for sound check early) and we were preparing to leave.  Kahsu was snuggly and felt a little warm, but then she had just gotten up.  Well, while we were snuggling, she threw up a little on my shoulder.  Yikes, that is weird.  Not like her, maybe she somehow triggered her gag reflex a little.  Hmm.  Gave hubby the text heads up that Kahsu had thrown up and we would see how things were going, but we were leaving soon. 

And then, well, she threw up, not only all over her, me, but also Azeb (I was standing up holding her and Azeb was below us, next to us on the floor).  Oh yeah, bullseye on all of us! 

Church was not going to happen.  So we snuggled and played quietly and Kahsu took a sweet little nap.

Happy Mother's Day - you have been vomited on yet again.  Yep, you are a mom!!!!  LOL!

It turned out to be a great blessing overall.  Time at home, all five girls, then the rest of the family joined us.  We had a delightful day. 

And I didn't get thrown up on again. 

Twice in one Mother's Day was certainly enough.

But hey, while the littles napped, we got some more ground turned in the garden and some more carrot seeds in!  My bean plants are coming up, spring is here!!!

I love being the mom to many, but I am tired many days.  I can keep going, but as it gets later, well, I head to bed earlier at night than I used to.

My teens are in the full swing of jobs, internships, volunteering and all sorts of other things.  We are still Mom and Dad by a long shot, but they are starting to branch out, which is good.

(I have to admit that I love the toddler hugs after a time of negotiating with teens!!!)  I can still pick them up and put them in time out!!!!  But honestly, while a child being a teenager can be challenging, it is well worth it and we have great relationships.

This all said from the mom who can no longer even see straight and needs to finish this post.

Did I tell you were are rehabilitating thirty some baby rabbits from our Wildlife Sanctuary?  Yep, let's just add that to the plate - but Kiley and Faith are very involved so some days (like today) I don't have to do much - they know what to do.  We have never had so many at one time - a new record for us!!!

Have a blessed night and days to come!  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

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The healing in Blind Hope

I was blessed to read Blind Hope by Kim Meeder just last week and really enjoyed it.  As you know, if you read this blog even once, we are huge animal lovers here and have several rescued animals that call our property home.  Or maybe we are simply suckers - we could accept that.  BUT, the joy and lessons these animals bring with them are priceless and they demonstrate over and over that every life is precious. 

Blind Hope is a great read for dog lovers especially, as well as those that love redemptive stories.  I don't want to spoil the story at all, but a rescued dog transforms a life, maybe more than one.  To see the healing a human and an animal can bring to each other is just amazing.

I have to admit, I read this book in just two days, I was insatiably drawn into it and just had to see the journey these two were on.  I highly recommend this book!!!!

I greatly enjoy being a part of Blogging for Books and am always amazed at the lovely choices that are offered that I might not be aware of otherwise.

A quick update on the family too!

Everyone is good!  We are loud, active and good!  Loving spring, working on the garden in fits and spurts (in between the rain in the last week or so), have eggs in the incubator and one has hatched already.  That lonely little chick is waiting for everyone else to hatch out so he has someone to play with!  Most of the other eggs are duck eggs, which hatch out five days later than chicken eggs, so they should be hatching in the next couple days.  We were thrilled that it actually worked!!!!  Unfortunately, the incubator stays in Mom and Dad's room, in order to keep it away from little hands, so we hear the peeping throughout.  I never knew that the chick could audibly peep before it hatched - in fact, that was how we knew it was going to hatch, I went to turn the eggs, and heard peeping!!!  Sure enough, next morning there was a wet, tired little chick!

We are in a big birthday season right now - Tsion has hers in April, then Kiley and Zeri in May and then Solomon in June.  So, if you ask me how old our kids are and I screw up my face a little and seem to ponder it carefully as I tell you, that is why!  It is great fun and keeps us on our toes to say the least.  The littles are not really sure what to make of birthdays, including the birthday candles - that kind of freaked them out a little.  But all is good when you get to eat.

Life is good, life is busy, kids are growing, babies are being born on the farm, it is spring.  Each year there is a new project on the farm.  Last year it was the goat barn.  This year it will be the horse shelters.  Each year, taken in small bites, we can make it better out here.  The renovations in the house are nearly completed, at least until we decide to refinish all the floors, but that is about it.  Thankfully.  Next we tackle the basement and really declutter.  It is so easy to safe things because you "might need them" and then you just don't.  After a while you look at it and really don't know why it is still there.  Well, we are working on changing that.  If we cannot use it in the next year or so, then someone else would be blessed to use it RIGHT NOW.  God has taken care of us, we don't need to hoard for the future.  We keep what is very useful, and pass on what others could use.  Besides it maximizes our space in our home - and with twelve of us, we can use every inch!!!!

I will post more photos soon.   This one is of Kiley and her horse JT as they were doing a demonstration of half arabian halter horse for Horse A Rama last weekend.  We had one sunny, nice day, and then second one rained throughout.  But Kiley and JT did really well and all their hard work is paying off!

Next week is graduation (if they pass) for all three obedience class dogs (kennel club classes), so I hope to have photos of them too! 

Have a great rest of the 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

Saturday, May 5, 2012

You know you are....

You Know You're An Adoptive Parent When . . .

1. The fact that there are 143 million children without a parent to kiss them goodnight has made you lose sleep.

2. You realize DNA has nothing to do with love and family.

3. You can't watch Adoption Stories on TLC without sobbing.

4. The fact that, if 7% of Christians adopted 1 child there would be no orphans in the world, is convicting to you....

5. You spend free time surfing blogs about families who have experienced the blessing of adoption.

6. It drives you crazy when people ask you about adopted child's "real" parents.

7. You have ever been "pregnant" with your adoptive child longer than it takes an elephant to give birth. (2 years!)

8. You had no idea how you would afford to adopt but stepped out in faith anyway, knowing where God calls you He will provide.

9. You have ever taken an airplane ride half-way around the world with a child you just met.

10. You believe God's heart is for adoption.

11. You realize that welcoming a child into your heart and family is one of the most important legacies you could ever leave on this earth.

12. You know what the word "Dossier" means, and you can actually pronounce it!

13. You have welcomed a social worker into the most private parts of your life.

14. You shudder when people say your child is so lucky that you adopted them, knowing full well you are the blessed one to have him or her in your life.
I haven't posted much lately, well, basically because life is really busy with our new additions and life in general!   I will try to get better about it, but you know, life needs to be focused on our family. 
Today was Kiley's first day at Horse A Rama and she did her demo with her beloved horse JT.  He is so good and they have worked so hard!  It is the start of show season! 
 I was thinking about it, that for ALL of our kids, there are beloved people in their lives, people that touch them and take them places that we (as their parents) can't quite get them.  Today, I realized, and I actually have known for some time, that Kiley's special person is her trainer, Gail Rentmeester.  Gail first took Kiley as a working student, basically so Kiley could get more advanced lessons.  Well, it has been a year and a half, and those two are just really important to each other.  Gail has stretched Kiley beyond what I could as her parent, and helps to pave the way for more.  I can keep things moving, but not in the way that Gail can.  Together, they are dreaming great dreams.  And actively working towards them.  What more can a parent ask for than a person who loves your child, teaches your child, pours into your child, that which is beyond your reach?  I am so grateful for all that Kiley has had the opportunity for.  I will do my best to move it forward as much as I can.  But it is now in their hands!   Doesn't it look amazing?  She has done all the work, learned all that is needed (though there is always TONS and TONS more to learn), and has earned where she is.  I am so grateful for the lovely people that pour into our kiddos, that speak into their lives with their experience and interests and truly care about our kids.  It is amazing to see Gail and Kiley together, to see how they feed into each other, learn from each other, and their relationship as it has grown.  I can never thank Gail enough.

So, in other news, the band Alex is in, Sanctify, has made it into the talent contest at Lifest in Oshkosh, WI!!!  The middle of July they will be competing.  It was very, very exciting all the voting that went on that got them this opportunity.  They deserve it and have worked so hard also!!!!  You can find Sanctify on Facebook and hopefully they will be up and coming!  They have a few videos on YouTube too!  I have no idea how to link them or I would.  I guess that will be my task in the next few days - to learn how to do that!
Soccer season is about to start - a couple more weeks!  That will up our busyness!  But this year only four boys are signed up for it.  Alex is too busy between work and band, and the girls were simply not interested at all.  
Homeschool continues throughout the summer so that doesn't change for us at all.  We are having quite a good time with active learning.  Though that is harder to document!  LOL!  
And the Littles - Azeb and Kahsu.  They are doing lovely.  We have several new phrases that we use a lot and one is "no yelling" in Amharic.  They understand that really well.  Not that it is helpful all the time, but the yelling meter has showed some reduction in the dB meter.  When I look back, we can see how far they have come based simply on the reduction in tantrums!  I was once again realizing today how many words they have learned.  We certainly don't have a ton of unprompted English (less that fifteen words), but we do have lots that they do use and they understand a ton.  I am surprised day after day.  And they are growing!  Not just in stature and weight but in play skills and social skills.  And attachment - wonderful lovely attachment.  It is coming.  Some days the process of that is exhausting, but it is wonderful!  Kahsu is nearly 18 pounds now - from the 15.8 she was when she got home eight weeks ago.  Azeb also, but she was never underweight and is even heavier now, though obviously growing taller!!!  It is hard to put into words all the changes in their lives.  We are firmly in the land of diapers, naps and toddlerhood.  It is challenging and wonderful and amazing.  I cannot believe they have only been here for eight weeks, and then it seems like just yesterday I was aching to hold their little bodies in my arms and snuggle them!
 Well, and on that note, I have to get them changed and up to bed.  We are out of our routine due to the horse events, but in such a lovely day, who can complain???

"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, April 4, 2012

No, this isn't about.....

Nope, this is not about what happened to my hubby today.  Nope, it isn't.  Hee, hee.  Really, it isn't, because it isn't funny at all anyway.  Nope, so if you know what happened to him today, feel free to comment or not, but I for one am NOT tattling on him today.  (LOL!  That was just to really rib him, but no, I won't share.  Let's just say that he is just fine, thankfully, and tomorrow he will feel somewhat better.  Pride wounded, but other than that, he is well.  Bruised but well.  For that we are really, really grateful, as stuff can be replaced, but HE cannot be.)

So on to  a real blog post.

Spring is coming.  It is here.  Amazingly, early in Wisconsin.  I am just itching to do so much stuff.

I am looking into raising some meat chickens this summer and giving that a try.  Of course, honestly that means that Steve and the boys will do the butchering but I would do all else up to that.  I keep trying to figure it out.  I figure that we need two chickens to feed this crew for a meal.  And I would love to make chicken once a week or so.  Maybe one every other week.  For a year.  So, if I figure every other week, for nearly a year, that means 26 meals, two birds a meal.  Hmm.  More than 50 birds.  I don't know if I can manage that many at one time, or that I would ever consider asking my guys to butcher that many at one time.  That would be a really long, ugly job.  We only need to raise them eight to ten weeks before they are ready to butcher.  So we could get a couple batches in during the summer.  (I am SO done with having baby chicks in the house!!!!  Five years running and I really, really don't want any more in the house!!!!)  Hmm.  Hubby promised me he would put together a brooder and chick run for them.  Outside.  Yay!  I have looked at several hatcheries before, and we have ordered from a couple, but I really like Cackle Hatchery and they have great deals.  If I was crazy enough to order 100 at a time, I could get a huge deal, but that really sounds like suicide to me.  My hubby and boys may never speak to me again if I do that.  I can raise them, but um, yeah.  So, if I get up the courage, I will order some maybe yet this week!

I am also cleaning out my herb area of my garden - I have been cleaning out and seeing what is coming up.  The problem is, well, um, I didn't document what is where, and now I have forgotten.  Drat.  I can recognize the borage, but the rest is sort of a mystery right now.  I will pull out my books and get looking on that as soon as I find a moment.  Azeb and Kahsu were helping me, and let's just say, the plants barely survived!  I may bribe big kids to play with the littles on the swingset or trampoline while I try to garden!

Naptimes tend to be busy for getting stuff done - in theory I really want that to be my shower time, but that hasn't happened yet either!  Laundry, sewing, sorting, decluttering, and on and on.  I tend to be a bit distracted and want to get stuff done, but can only see what is right in front of me. Of course the big kids generally are also wanting to take that time for some more intense mom time too.  So, we could say that I am having difficulty getting in regular showers yet!  I so recall that when my other kiddos were newborns I rarely got one either.  That is what it feels like, times two!

We are working on getting our school schedule worked out with toddlers in tow.  I haven't done school with the kids this way in a very long time, since Faith was little and then when we had Emma.  We are slowly getting it worked out.  There are adjustments that we are all making, but it is coming.  The kids are doing lots and lots reading, and we are tying in their book report books to their lessons in one way or another.  We are using lots of living books and that is really turning out to be wonderful.  Quite the range of books with the age ranges and reading levels!

Well, I had better get going towards bedtime.  Mornings start early here.  I think I will try to hit the shower first.  That may be my only hope of getting one.  (I hate showering at night, I just 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