We are home with Amos, Daisy, Lee and Violet! Meanwhile we have jumped in again for one last very special girl. If you would like to help with that, you can make a non-tax-deductible donation HERE that we can access immediately. You can also make a tax-deductible donation HERE that we can use once we receive travel dates. Or by donating HERE you can help provide her and other children at her orphanage the care and nutrition they desperately need. See all of our current fundraisers HERE. We are thankful for any support you can offer!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

2 More!

If you've seen our fundraising page lately, you might have noticed something new. We wanted to wait until we had our homestudy draft to be sure we had four approvals. Now that we have that, we have some very exciting news. We are adding both Lee and Violet to our adoption! They each get their own post! Go check them out! Here is Lee's, and here is Violet's. We are so happy to add them to our adoption plans!


Now that we know how many kids we are planning to adopt and we can guess where we will be heading, we can make some cost estimates. Lee and Violet are both over 10 and eligible for the new $10,000 grants. That is hugely helpful and was a very unexpected surprise! These numbers are all estimates, but they give us a much better ballpark to shoot for.


Costs for Amos $20,000
Costs for Daisy in another region $15,000
Costs for Lee at the same orphanage $5000
Costs for Violet at the same orphanage $5000
Extra flights between trips $2500


That would bring our total to approximately $47,500. The two grants take off $20,000. That means our FSP needs to read $27,500. Right now we are at about $1500, but our account will soon read $3000, thanks to our amazing matching grant and everyone's support. We have quite a ways to go. We still have a few shirts for sale, and I can run another printing if we have enough interest. We are doing some local fundraisers in the meantime. As we post new fundraisers, feel free to share them far and wide!



There is a fourth child we are hoping to adopt. She is brilliant and beautiful. I have no idea how she has been waiting so long. She has only been listed as Violet for the last three and a half years, but she is almost 13 years old.

Her listing photo doesn't do her justice. That's so often the case, but especially for girls who have had their hair shaved off. Compare the photo she was listed with to this recent photo of her. If you didn't know it, you might not realize both of those photos are of the same beautiful child!

Violet used to live with some of our boys. They were excited to see her picture again! I first remember seeing her in a video of Theo, where she was taken on a walk with him and some visitors. She is very clever. She doesn't talk much, but she has really good receptive communication. And she is unbelievably gentle and sweet. She has even learned to walk since her profile was last updated! How has she waited so long?

The last time we adopted, we only adopted older boys. Those older boys have my heart! So many of them have waited for so long, and they are some of the last to be chosen. This time around, our daughters pointed out that they were already quite outnumbered. "Maybe a couple girls this time?" they suggested. They did have a point! And my husband and I had already talked about Daisy and Violet as girls we were thinking about adopting. The truth is, they have both waited just as long as the older boys. I keep saying I don't know how, because I don't. But I don't want any of our kids to wait any longer!

Violet's situation is a bit different than the other kids we are adopting. We don't think she is in the same immediate danger that Lee will be without medical care. She is not about to be transferred to foster care with no hope of a family like Daisy. She hasn't aged out like Amos. But she is still waiting, as she has been for a very long time. Our family is ready to welcome her with open arms. She doesn't know it yet, but she has sisters waiting for her. Brothers too! We are so glad and so thankful that she was laid on our hearts.

If you'd like to make a tax-deductible donation, you can go HERE.

Being Brave

Sometimes there are hard choices to make in adoption. There are no guarantees. Until you have your child home, you will have no idea if their condition is much better or much worse than their file states. That's the reality of adoption, particularly adoption in Eastern Europe.

If you've been following our story, you have probably noticed how fond I am of the child I have called V, now listed as Lee. He was next to Evan and we spent a lot of time with him. He has been transferred with other bedridden kids and I'm quite worried about him. You may or may not have guessed that we were hoping to add him to our adoption as well.

We received information about Lee's medical diagnoses recently. Among things we expected, his file also includes a very scary, fatal, degenerative brain condition. Wow. From seeing him during our last adoption, we had assumed he had cerebral palsy like our other boys. He very well might. But his file states that he is bedridden due to this other condition, a condition that almost no one survives more than 10 years past diagnosis. That's 10 years with good medical care, a luxury rarely afforded to orphans in Eastern Europe.

I am so thankful for my husband and that we are in agreement on so much. We sat down and talked about Lee. We don't think the listed diagnosis is correct. But we need to be prepared for the possibility that it is correct or at least close to the truth. So where does that leave us? If he did have a diagnosis that would only give him a few years left to live, what would we do?

I knew where I stood. The idea that his condition could be degenerative and fatal is a shocking contrast to the hope I had of him improving greatly with food and love and therapy. It is scary, but HE is not scary. We know him and we love him. I certainly couldn't imagine letting him die alone, possibly even sooner due to neglect. I knew my own heart and mind, but this is not the kind of decision I could make on my own.

My husband, my amazing and incredible husband, the most loving husband and father I could envision, he was right there with me. He said that it would break his own heart, but it would be worth it for Lee to have a family instead of spending his remaining time trapped in that bed and that room.

That is what we decided. We researched what Lee will need if that diagnosis is correct and then added that diagnosis to our home study. I am praying with all of my heart that it is a mistake. The odds are good that a doctor who barely examined him jotted down an inaccurate term, or used the wrong code, or didn't even care. We will do our best and we will do the most that we can for him. Regardless of medical condition, no child should live or die in one of those terrible rooms, least of all a child we want to call our son.

Now that our homestudy is just about finished and we know how many children we are approved for, we are ready and eager to add Lee to our adoption. He will be a much-loved son, whatever his fate may be.

If you'd like to make a tax-deductible donation, you can go HERE.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Special Thank You

Adoption is amazing. It brings families together. It brings people together. It is very hard work, but it shows you all the good that is out there in the world.

I recently received a very special card from someone who has followed our story. It was such an encouragement, and our boys appreciated it too. This adoption process has had some bumps and delays. The reminder that there are people out there praying for our kids and our adoptions was such an amazing gift. Thank you.

There were three names of older boys that this person mentioned. I'd love it if everyone who reads this could go look at these kids and pray for them, donate to the older child grant, and share their profiles. There are a few kids listed with the same name, and I don't know for sure which child with that name, but if we share, and pray, and donate for all of them I think that will cover it!

Go check out Leonard, Tanner and Jordan!

$250 today?

UPDATE: We did it! We met our $1500 matching grant! You are all amazing! Thank you so much!

Guys, can we knock out our matching grant today? About $250 to go! Our FSP needs to read $1500.  Shirts are $20! We still have Superman Was Adopted and Ukraine Heart shirts! Email me at to buy a shirt!


Superman Youth:
Small 2 blue, 2 red, 1 sapphire
Medium 1 sapphire, 1 blue
XL 1 red, 1 sapphire

Superman Adult:
Large 1 red

Ukraine Heart Youth:
Small 5
XL 1

Ukraine Heart Adult:
Small 2
Medium 2
Large 3
XL 1

Monday, May 16, 2016

How Do You Feed Them All?

"How do you feed them all? It must cost a fortune!"

Wow, we hear this a lot! We hear it from strangers when we are all out together. We hear it when we are checking out at our weekly shopping trip. We hear it from our own families too!

We have a few things in our favor. We have the benefit of an economy of scale. I can cook in big batches. We never need to worry if we will finish a larger size before it spoils. In fact, because my husband works in the restaurant industry, we have access to restaurant supply stores where we can purchase items at close to cost. Some of these are open to the general public also! It is great to be able to buy food by the case at wholesale prices. There is a lower cost of living here also, although we have been lucky enough to find good shopping options everywhere we have lived. My kids are generally not picky. Certainly nothing I did to cause that, but it helps that they are adventurous eaters who don't have sensory issues limiting their diet. We do have a few intolerances, but I am accustomed to working around them. I also try hard to make sure our diet is pretty healthy, but it's not perfect. We eat tons of fruits and vegetables, good proteins and fats, and a variety of healthy grains and carbs. We eat occasional convenience food too.

Green beans? My favorite!

We aim to spend about $50-75 a week on fruits and vegetables, $50 a week on meat, and $100 on everything else. Sometimes it comes in higher, sometimes lower. We spend probably $150 a month on toilet paper and diapers and wipes and bed mats.

Avocados and melons by the case, plus sour cream and cottage cheese, instant breakfast mix, and dishwasher detergent. We were without a dishwasher when ours broke after we moved in. I am very, very thankful to have one again!

We get a few things at Sams. Pancake mix for my husband's world famous pancake breakfasts, popcorn for movie nights, cans of pork and beans to go with hot dogs or hamburgers, nacho cheese to make up for our otherwise healthy diet, sour cream, instant breakfast mix (Our doctor recommended we mix this with milk or add it to meals to increase calories for Evan when he first came home, and we still use it occasionally.), Miralax, diapers (in practically every size), toilet paper and dishwasher detergent.

Case of sweet potatoes, case of chicken breasts, ground turkey in those tubes, diapers, toilet paper in the back, and a case of chef boyardee raviolis for emergencies. (Emergencies like I really don't want to cook tonight. Ahem.)

Aldi has good prices on produce, canned goods, and our occasional chips and snack foods. I like their chex mix, but you can guess how often I can finish a bag without sharing! Sometimes I call that "the large family diet." All those keen little ears hear the rustle of chip bags, so I end up eating a reasonable portion instead of the whole bag! We buy some canned vegetables by the flat, like creamed corn, frenched beans and spinach. We buy instant potatoes and applesauce to mix in foods for Evan, to thicken them or thin them depending on what he needs. We buy cheese, yogurt, milk, lactose free milk, and almond milk.

This whole shopping trip was $150! There are nearly 200 pounds of fresh and frozen vegetables, 50 pounds of rice, tons more stuff. And too funny, sometimes we call Barton "the silent assassin." He moves SO quietly. He snuck into the back of this photo and I didn't even notice it until later! 

We use a bakery outlet for bread and rolls. Their prices are great, the quality is good, and they always remember us when we stop by. I used to bake my own bread. Sometimes we still do for fun, but we just aren't in that season of life right now. So the bread store it is!

We shop at the restaurant store. What do we buy? Pasta and sauce are great here. We can buy a 20 lb box of high quality pasta for $13. We buy marinara sauce in cases of 6 #10 cans. Same for diced tomatoes, tomato purée, and so on. We buy tuna in cases of 5 lb cans. When we say we only use half a can for a meal, this is the can we mean! We buy sugar, flour, cornmeal, oatmeal, pinto beans and rice in 25-50 lb bags. $2 a pound is my cutoff for meat prices, but it gives us a lot of options. We can buy a few kinds of fish, ham and pork, smoked sausage, ground or whole turkey, and all kinds of chicken. Chicken quarters go as low as 30 cents a pound. We can buy 15 dozen eggs for $12. We buy fresh and frozen produce by the case. We have a huge chest freezer where we store everything. We also have a second fridge for fresh produce. Things like apples, potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions sit on a rack in our kitchen. We go through food pretty quickly, so we don't have too much spoilage.

50 pounds of carrots, 50 pounds of cabbage, 50 pounds of steel cut oats, and my ever present photography assistant!

We look at whatever is on sale that month. In March there was a sale on cabbage because restaurants were cooking St Patricks Day meals. Our kids ate 100 pounds of cabbage without batting an eye. Cabbage salad (like cole slaw), borscht, cabbage roll soup, a Thai recipe the kids like that is served with cabbage quarters, and on and on. We only made Irish cabbage and potatoes one time, come to think of it! To give an idea of the variety those sales give us, in the last couple weeks we have bought cases of avocados, green beans, snow peas, kale, leeks, okra, canteloupe, and more as special sale items.

Snow peas on sale = stir fries! Half of them disappeared out of the box before I could cook them though. I wonder where they went...

To make things easy, we have a few typical breakfasts and lunches that we cycle through. I make some amazing granola from rolled oats, quick oats with milk or maple syrup are fast to make for everyone, eggs and toast on the griddle are easy, and my husband makes stacks of pancakes on mornings he is home. Since we are usually homeschooling during the afternoon, lunches are mostly light and quick. We often do sandwiches with fruit and cheese for everyone, with a batch of sweet potatoes or pasta or other carbs to fill up the bottomless pit teenagers. Dinner could be anything, but there is always plenty of it! 

I use some less than gourmet shortcuts. I make our "tuna noodle casserole" in a pot on the stove with regular pasta, adding tuna, frozen peas and cream of mushroom soup when the pasta is done. Shhhh...don't tell my kids how it is usually cooked! I do a few crockpot recipes in a pot on the stove too. I mix frozen corn, black beans, rotel and cilantro to make huge batches of "salsa" for everyone to share. I've moved to mixing up and baking my granola in a turkey roasting pan instead of on flat cookie sheets. Most of the time cooking for our crew doesn't take too much longer than if we were cooking for fewer people. An oven full of chicken only takes a few more minutes to cook than a single pan. Cleaning everything up does take longer though! Once again, so glad to have that dishwasher!

Granola! That pan is HUGE. If I'm very lucky, there will be a little left! 

Right now Evan eats regular food with the rest of the family. He can eat things like rice in gravy just the way it is, but other foods need to be pureed. We bought a mini bullet blender when he first came home and it has served us well, but it is on its last legs. Daisy eats the same kind of food right now, and another child we are hoping to add to our adoption drinks from a bottle like Evan used to. I think we are planning to replace the mini bullet but also buy a large bar quality blender to be able to make bigger batches at a time. I thought that Evan's different meal needs would be a big issue when we adopted him. It took a long time to help him learn to eat new foods, but preparing his food and feeding him wasn't hard at all once we fell into a routine.

Our kids have some every day chores and some that rotate. It is important to me that our kids don't feel like they have to do the extra work resulting from the decisions my husband and I have made to have a large family. Our family dynamic is that everyone pitches in and helps. With so many hands to help, everyone does their own small job and it is done quickly. One of the rotating jobs is "kitchen helper." You might be able to guess that sometimes my helpers create more work for me! It is still fun for everyone to have their own turn to plan a few meals and help in the kitchen.

Theo was my assistant last time we made borscht! He was very excited. He loves helping!

I hope this gives an idea of how things work for us now! We can't wait to fit a few more plates at the table! And speaking of tables, we are also working on a new custom designed table that will be easier for the wheelchairs! So cool! I can't wait to share that with you guys too!