Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I will celebrate.

I typed the title of this post and now all I can do is sing in my head...

I will celebrate
Sing unto the Lord
I will sing to Him a new song

That has nothing to do with this post. That's just a glimpse in to how this brain of mine works.



One morning, many many months ago, Matt and I woke up in a room with our new sons. Isaac (now going by his middle name of James) and John Terry (now just John) pretended to be asleep long after they actually woke up. I gave them some clothes to pick from and they quickly got dressed once this mamma left the room. They are no longer shy. at. all. John's 5T clothes were big. He came to us in 24 months clothes because he was so skinny. Then, there was Isaac James. The clothes he wore were ones I had bought and been given for Joel. Joel (7) was one of the two boys from the first sibling set we had been matched to. They fit James who had on paper just turned six. After seeing his muscle build and seeing his abilities combined with the way he carried himself, I guessed he was nine. Matt said seven or probably eight. Both of us knew that he was not six. (See our Uganda pictures here)

Fast forward to last week and the first dentist appointment in the good ol' US of A. Our dentist is great. His techs are great. Matt told them our desire to see if while they were looking at x-rays etc if they could please give us a better idea of age. John - 5 years old. Spot on. James - 9 by the x-rays or 10 by visual examination of molars. Not spot on... Off by 3 to 4 YEARS!

I just want to mention here that his age doesn't matter to us. We had been approved for children up to 10 years old because we were willing to go up to that age in a sibling group. We wanted to know for his sake.

When Matt got home from the dentist, I didn't react in the way I wish I would have.

"I'm 10!" James said as he grinned with excitement. All I could say was "wow." When I got the whole story of x-rays, molars, and the like, I was for sure I wanted him to be 9 and not 10. My reasons were both selfish and logical.

He doesn't behave like he is 10.
He is so short that people may not believe he is 10.
He is only doing 1st grade work and I don't know if I can help him to graduate with his peers if he is 10.
He'd switch classes at church.
I'm not ready for him to be 10.
He would drive before Emma!!

Speaking of Emma. She took it pretty hard that we might let him be ten years old. She has always been "second in command" and was concerned she would loose her position and responsibility in the family. After explaining that James would have to earn those things just like she did, she was okay. I was not. Thankfully, Matt, James, and I all ended up on the same page with this...

James is 9!!!

We celebrated and encouraged him that skipping a few years isn't such a bad thing.

6...7...8...9 Made with love by his siblings.

Waiting to blow out his first candle to celebrate his "I know how old I am" day!




We sang for his 9th and he was a bit embarrassed.

Grandma will help us find his face.

9 years old. James, we love you and can't believe how fast you went from six years old to nine years old!! :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The lines have been drawn.

I haven't blogged as much lately. Not for a lack of having something to say or share. Not because I'm too busy. Though, I have been busy with my crew, our car breaking down (twice), selling one of our business locations, with schooling, replacing a hard drive only to find out the optical drive isn't reading the recovery disk, a Tough Mudder, with parenting, a homeschool convention, a birthday party or four, and celebrating Father's Day. That's life.

And in between all those things, I have been encouraged and discouraged... full of joy and down... lonely in a room full of people and had my heart filled up with just a few people around.

I have so much I think you'd like to hear, but first I need to know where the line is. What line? The imaginary line made up by people (that may or may not exist) to tell me how much of my life I'm allowed to share.  The line that is the border between protecting my family and trusting that our story is not ours to keep and alone learn from.

I think of the Bible stories. What if the details had not been shared?

Adam and Eve were in the garden. They had to leave the garden.

A big flood was coming. God told Noah to build an ark. His family got in. When it was over, he saw a pretty rainbow.

Sampson was strong. Then, he was weak. Then, he was strong.

Jonah traveled by fish to Nineveh.

Joshua defeated Jericho. 

David was a king.

The details make the story! The mistakes. The heartaches. The joys. The triumphs. The sin. The shame. The promises. The glory. The gritty details that none of us would want shared with everyone for thousands of years after we died.

Okay. I have delayed enough. I say all that to say that I am going to share what I feel led to share. How you take it and what you think about how much I tell is beyond my control. Frankly, I'm not here to do what the world says to do... their imaginary lines won't hold me back. Not anymore.


It's been 7.5 months since the first time I hugged them. I loved them before that. Much like I loved all the others before I held them in my arms the first time. Since that day in November, I have been asked many times how we are doing and how the boys are doing and how all the kids are doing together. I typically answer "well" and I mean it. Well.

I look around and see struggles that others have endured or are enduring. My struggle is less so that means I'm doing well? I'm lifting and carrying two 50lb weights and that lady is carrying two 100lb weights. We both have our hands full. We both are struggling. Hers is a heavier load. For. Sure. But knowing that doesn't take the weight away from me. It is still hard. That's where I am right now. Struggling. I'm of good cheer. I know "it could be worse." I know that this is a season. But it's stinkin' hot during this season and I'm smiling with sweat stinging my eyes.

We have death because of sin. We have orphans because of death. We have two boys that we call sons because they were once orphans. I won't ever forget that. Pain and loss was a part of their lives before they entered our family. I'm not their only mother. My husband is not their only father. My children are not their only siblings. Virginia is not their only home. Our experiences with them are not their only memories. These facts are the things that race through my mind as they attempt to show love and attach or as they act out in disobedience and push away. These facts are what I try to use as a filter to how I react. I know I see them as I my own now... How? Because I don't treat them like I do your kids. I give much more grace and mercy to your kids. I'm not proud of that. It's just a fact.

I have questioned more and more lately not how I look at them, but how they look at me. I would love to say that I know they love me and like me and are happy to have me as their momma. I do see that side sometimes... and then that look in their eyes for me fades as they put up their wall again.

I made suntan lotion and one of the boys pushed it off the table on to the floor on purpose. When I asked him why, he wouldn't answer. I rambled off a bunch of possible reasons and asked my other son if I had done that to something he made how would he feel and he said, "I would think you don't like me." The boy who had done the offense then said to me, "I don't like you." Ouch. Is it how he feels or is it him repeating? Either way, it hit me and I responded the only way I knew how.

...I'm sorry you don't like mommy, BUT I'm going to love you and show you in every way I can...

and then I told him how I try to show him I love him

... I know you have people and places that you miss. I know you have stories that you haven't shared with me yet. I'm here to listen. I'm here to talk. ...

and then I didn't talk

I waited

I listened

and the son that I hadn't even been talking to began to share with me new stories and his true emotions

and then today he wouldn't look me in the eyes again

That's how we are doing. This family that God placed together is trying to follow our new house rules and we have hope because God is good all the time and All the time God is good.

Current House Rules:

Do Good.
Be honest.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Made at home!

Being a family of 8 is great, but it is also really expensive!

In our medium sized crew, we have at least three different skin types and four different hair types. That is a lot of "types" to buy for when we go to the store. I'm trying to make some products at home and begin to switch our family to more natural things all at the same time.

I plan to continue to post on this blog that started out just being about our adoption of two sweet Ugandan boys. Now the topics will include our adoption, transracial adoption, homeschooling, our backyard "farm",  the products we make at home and their recipes, and the craziness of life as we live it!

Some of you are still using our link to buy things from Amazon. Thank you! That money goes directly into our adoption account that is paying the almost $20,000 loan for our adoption. I have also set up an store as a place for you to easily find the products we use to make our homemade soaps, lotions, sunscreen, and more!!

Goat milk soap. Lotion bar. Sunscreen. Hair oil.

Check it out!! OUR STORE ... I think it has everything we used except our raw goat milk :)

We made the sunscreen today and I didn't take any pictures of the process. I will next time! I really needed to find something that didn't make me cringe every time I put it on my children. I found something, but I couldn't buy it and put food on the table. Seriously. Have you seen the price on the "safe" stuff??? Craziness.

Here is what we did instead after looking at more recipes for sunscreen than I would like to admit.

Disclaimer: I'm not a professional. This is what I made. I'll update you on whether this works!

Olive oil                           1 cup
Coconut oil                      3/4 cup
Vitamin E oil                   1 tablespoon
Shea butter                       1/4 cup (or a smidge more!)
Non-nano Zinc Oxide      4 tablespoons

1. Placed a stainless steal bowl on top of a pan of water. Turned heat to medium-high.


1. Place a jar in a pan of water. Turn heat to medium-high.

2. Put olive oil, coconut oil, and Vitamin E oil together in jar/bowl.

3. As it warmed, mixed well occasionally.

4. After 4-5 minutes, added shea butter and mixed vigorously until it was incorporated. I have a stick blender that I use for soaps and lotions only. If you don't, you should :) or you can make it in the jar and just put the top on and shake it. Take the top off when not shaking.

5. Put on a "mask." You don't want to breathe in the zinc oxide. I don't know why. All the other people say to do this. I pulled my shirt up over my nose and mouth and hoped for the best.

6. Measured out the zinc oxide and mixed it into the oils.

7. Poured it in to desired container.

8. Patted myself on the back. "You just saved a ton of money AND made a safe 25ish SPF sunscreen for your family!"

My mix is thin. I'm hoping once it cools to be able to put it in a quality spray bottle. Not sure that will work. It may clog. If you want it to be more of a cream, add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup beeswax to the beginning mix. I had it on hand, but chose not to go for a thicker sunscreen.

Let me know if you make it and how it works for you!

Remember, this is just something I threw together based on the basics of other recipes and the oils that work well with our skin at our house.

Have a blessed week!!!