Monday, December 22, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


This afternoon I was getting super stressed as I thought about all that I still had to do before flying out Friday morning.  Then, I made a really good choice.  I set aside my entire to-do list and baked chocolate chip cookies with the children.  I think we're all happier now!  :-D  The house smells fantastic, too!  :-)

This morning I took Rebekah and Thomas to the Pediatric Podiatrist for the removal of their plantar warts.  I'm glad we got that taken care of before the trip.  They were hurting them when they walked.  It really went much smoother than I had imagined.  I was happy when the doctor told me that they were really worried when I came in with 10 children but how they were all very pleasantly surprised at how good the children were being in the waiting room without me!  I had Benjamin with me, so it was Stephen, Sarah, Naomi Ruth, Rebekah, Hannah, Samuel, Miriam, and Susanna out there.

Today I finally gave up on the whole idea of getting up Christmas decorations.  This is my first year to miss that.  I'm mostly relieved, but a little bit sad.  Good thing that we're going to a place that has up Christmas decorations.  :-)  This has definitely NOT been a normal year and I'm overwhelmed even trying to just do the most basic of the basics.  I feel much better after giving myself permission to just let it go this year.

Love, Dawn

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Update on Benjamin's appointment

There are 3 parts to vision.  I'm sure this is really simplified, by the way.  Anyway, there are the eyes which take the picture, the electric signals that sends the picture to the brain, and the brain which receives the picture.  What we found out today is that Benjamin's eyes are anatomically/structurally great.  That's certainly a huge relief!  For right now they are saying he has Visual Maturation Delay.  Just like some children walk later than others or talk later than others, some children see later.  He can see a tiny bit at this point.  He was able to track the light.  I'm very happy about that.  He's scheduled to go in for another appointment on March 16th.  The hope is that his vision will be great by that point and they will basically check him over and say all is fine and we'll be done with that.  If that is not the case, they will need to do further testing to check if there is a problem with the electrical impulses or with the brain reception of the information.  Please keep us in your prayers that this is just a delay and he will be seeing great soon.  Thanks!

Love, Dawn


Thanks for that tip, Judy!

Today is the big day with Benjamin's Opthamology appointment.  I'm really nervous.  Please pray that it goes well.  Also, the area where the appointment is at is under a severe winter storm warning.  Please also pray that I don't have any trouble on the roads.  I will update with the results of the appointment when I am back home.

I got a lot done yesterday.  In the morning, we picked up our co-op order.  We are steadily storing food away in preparation for these very uncertain economic times.  Right now we've got enough food for about 4 months for all of us, although that would be quite heavy on the bean consumption.  I'd like for us to have a 6 month stock.  In the afternoon, I took all the children to our mechanic to look over the van in preparation for the trip.  Nothing like being with 10 young children in a tiny waiting room with 2 chairs and not much else for over an hour.  WHEW!!!  The mechanic told me I'm one brave mom.  I told him that driving to Texas and back without having the van looked over beforehand sounded worse than that waiting room experience.  Turns out that it just needs one small repair.  Thank God!  We'll get that done on Thursday.  Yesterday evening I headed down to the library and did an exchange of books and videos.  This week the children will be able to watch 2 different performances of The Nutcracker ballet.  We watch it every year at Christmas time and the tradition is well loved by the children.  It will be the first time for our Liberian children to see any ballet.  Unless someone is napping, we usually give our children free reign with our stereo.  I'm sure this year will be like past years where for weeks after watching the ballet, we'll have our Nutcracker CD cranked loud and children dancing to the music.  :-)

Love, Dawn

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Getting ready

Last night our church had a fund raiser for the youth group by offering babysitting there from 5-10pm.  Aaron and I dropped off all of the children except Benjamin around 6:30, enjoyed a dinner date at Applebee's and then headed to WalMart for shopping.  That worked well and they had a WONDERFUL time playing there.  In fact, when we got back at 9:40 they were upset that they didn't get to stay until 10pm.  :-D

Tomorrow is the big day, the Christmas play!  They had a 2 hour dress rehearsal today.  I took the opportunity to do some more shopping at WalMart after dropping off the oldest 7 for it.  Miriam is in the play, but they said that the sheep didn't need to come to today's practice.  Christmas presents for the children this year are aimed around the idea of providing entertainment in the van.  Driving 1000 miles over 2 days in a van with 10 young children is going to be quite the adventure.  Then we'll turn around less than a week later and do it again.  Woooooooo-hooooooo!  We've also decided that we're going to need to purchase one of those things that straps onto the top of the van that can hold luggage.  It's going to take 3 large suitcases to hold clothes for the 12 of us.  That can all go on top.  Inside the van we'll need entertainment, food, diaper supplies, etc.  

Our goal is to be totally ready for the trip by Thursday evening.  Friday morning I'm flying down to Florida with Benjamin.  My Grandma is 88 and is dying of cancer.  I'm going down to tell her good-bye.  That will be hard, but I am so glad I am able to go.  A friend blessed me with the plane ticket.  Thomas, Sarah, Naomi Ruth, Rebekah, and Hannah have all seen her this year while visiting my parents in Florida.  She'll get to meet Benjamin this trip and I look forward to getting pictures of the two of them together.  Our last trip down there as a family was when Susanna was a baby.  She won't get to meet Stephen or Samuel, unfortunately.  Anyway, I'll fly down Friday morning and will return Sunday afternoon.  Then Monday morning we're on the road to Texas!

Samuel was shocked to discover yesterday at lunch that we all have the last name Hall.  He thought that was his name because he came from Liberia.  :-D  We went around and all said our full names for him and by the time we got to him, he was so flustered that he couldn't remember his own name.  :-D  Speaking of lunch, feeding our family is quite the endeavor.  I have found that generally to make sure there's enough food, it works best to make the recipe to where it says it serves 16.  Between 5 normal hungry children, 3 children making up for lost time after starvation, and Thomas (11) already moving into the bottomless pit stage, they eat enormous amounts of food.  Just recently I was thinking about how when Aaron and I first got married, I used to like to make recipes that served 8 and then would carefully divide them into 4 portions and freeze 3 of them so we'd have meals ready to go in our freezer.  I would have had a hard time imagining at that time that 14 years later, that same amount which seemed like so much food at the time, would be half of one meal.  :-D  Good thing I like bulk cooking!  Now I couldn't serve even one meal if I didn't.  ;-)

Love, Dawn

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm glad that so many of you enjoyed the photos!  :-)

This week the children have been learning about one of the sadder aspects of country living.  Something has been successfully attacking our chickens and we've gone from 13 to 10 in the last few days.  The one found dead this morning was named Golden Nugget and was like Thomas' baby.  We'd had her since she was a gangly bigger chick and he dearly loved her.  Yes, I know we're talking about a chicken, but children can bond to about any kind of animal.  Anyway, he loved carrying her around in his arms, sitting at the picnic table holding her and petting her, and even bringing her into our enclosed porch to sit on the wicker couch and love on her.  She adored him, too.  He went out this morning to feed them and gather eggs and found her body ripped in two right inside the chicken coop.  :-(  He came in all shaken up and has been sad since then.  

We're in the midst of a bunch of doctor appointments right now.  Last week we had Naomi Ruth, Susanna, and Benjamin's well child check-ups.  Miriam had hers this past Tuesday.  She's now 41lb (69%) and 44 inches (90%).  Everything looked good with her.  One question our doctor asked me took me a little off guard, though.  She asked, "How is everything going with her autism?"  I told her at first that I wasn't sure how to answer that and then thought a bit more and finally said, "About how you'd expect with autism."  That seemed to satisfy her.  I'm not sure what she was looking for.  Today I brought Thomas (87lb) and Rebekah (50lb) in for their appointments.  Just out of curiosity, I had Hannah weighed, too.  She and Rebekah have been the same weight or super close since they were tiny.  Hannah also weighed 50lb.  :-D  Anyway, this was for plantar warts.  I'd tried all kinds of natural remedies and over the counter stuff, too.  Well, she checked them out and said that they were out of her league.  We're now seeing a podiatrist next Wednesday to remove them.  Lovely!  At least the feet should be healed and in good shape for Christmas vacation.  We are heading out on the road for Texas on Dec. 22nd.

Last night the children had another practice for their Christmas play.  The big performance is this coming Sunday.  Hannah has now become one of the African dancers and she's just thrilled about it.  :-D  This evening, I'll be dropping Sarah and Hannah off at the church to practice the African dance routine and then heading with Benjamin to a Christmas party with my Bible study group.  Aaron will pick them up when it is over.

Here at home, they've been busy creating and practicing their own Christmas play.  Sarah is Mary, Samuel is Joseph, and Benjamin is Baby Jesus.  Thomas and Stephen are the wise men and Susanna is the wise woman.  :-D  Hannah is a shepherd, Miriam is an angel, Naomi Ruth is the inn keeper and Rebekah is the inn keeper's daughter.  We have enough children for our own production.  :-D  Once they are ready for the big production, I'll take photos of them and share here.

I view life skills as a very important part of our homeschooling.  This week I've been teaching Thomas (11) and Naomi Ruth (10) how to make bread from scratch.  They both think its really neat and we're all enjoying the fruit of their labor!  Naomi Ruth has even learned now how to grind up the wheat using our electric mill.  Talk about yummy and healthy!!!

Love, Dawn

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I wanted to share some family pictures today. I have posted a bunch here, but am having trouble figuring out how to make my type where I want it to be. I'll just tell you who's who from the top row, left to right, on down. Enjoy!
1. Aaron with Susanna and Miram
2. Me with Benjamin in his sling
3. Samuel at COSI, the Children's Museum we love
4. Miriam at COSI
5. Susanna at COSI

6. Susanna with her big gorgeous grin
7. Me with Benjamin in the sling in his favorite position - facing Mommy
8. Rebekah, Susanna, Naomi Ruth, Hannah, and Miriam at COSI
9. Our home
10. Benjamin
11. Susanna with her new pillow she got for her birthday
12. Sarah, Rebekah, and Thomas on the carriage ride, celebrating Naomi Ruth's birthday
13. Samuel, Stephen, Sarah, Naomi Ruth, and Susanna at our Thanksgiving dinner
14. Samuel, Thomas, and Stephen - the two oldest are playing with the balloon swords from The Spaghetti Warehouse
15. Naomi Ruth and Sarah opening birthday presents together
16. Naomi Ruth and her birthday cake (no I didn't make that, bought it at Walmart)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Recovered & Christmas Play Rehearsal

I am very thankful to the Lord that we are all doing much better now and that Benjamin and Samuel both never caught the tummy bug.  Benjamin does still have the cold, but it has not dropped into his chest.  Please continue to pray that it does not.  

Church was really good yesterday morning.  I enjoyed hearing the old story of the angel coming to John the Baptist's father, telling him that he would have a son.  I always find it interesting to compare that story to when the angel told Mary she would have not just a son, but the Son of God.  Zacharias was a priest of God and was being told that something that he and his wife had prayed for years was going to happen.  Yet, he doubted the words of the angel.  Mary was a simple girl and was told that while still an unmarried virgin, she would give birth to the Son of God.  She believed.  I think that's a beautiful example of how we are to have the faith of a child.  If God says it is so, we need to believe Him.  That includes times in our lives when it appears that things are out of control, because God says He is always in control.  It also includes times in our lives when we say we can't do it, because God says we can do all things through Him.

In the afternoon, I got to our library and dropped off a big bin full of Thanksgiving resources and picked up a smaller pile of Christmas ones.  Many are still on reserve, so I hope to get those next week.  I'm hoping we can all watch "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" this evening.  That is SUCH a cute Christmas story.  Try to watch it if you haven't ever done so or read the book if you have the time.  :-)  The children had another practice of the Christmas play last night. It was their first time doing it up at the front of the church where it will be performed.  I enjoyed watching it.  I had Benjamin and Miriam with me.  It was Miriam's first time at a practice.  The Pre-K children are all sheep and they hadn't needed to come to the practices before.  She was excited as she got fitted for her sheep headband that came complete with sheep ears and lots of cotton balls to look like wool.  :-D  However, she told me repeatedly that she would NOT say "baaaaaaaa."  Alright, alright, Miriam.  Then, Ms. Vicki called all of the parents of PreK children to line up with them at the back of the church.  We were about to learn what her role entailed.  The next instruction was to all walk down the aisle saying "Baaaa" over and over.  I laughed and decided to not push it.  I didn't want to set Miriam off.  We walked down the aisle with all of the rest of the children saying it and Miriam saying she wouldn't say it.  :-D  When we got up to the front, we parents all kneeled behind our Pre-K children.  I guess Benjamin was the tiniest sheep, because he was in the sling right between me and Miriam.  lol  The children learned their sheep dance, which did include more of "baaaaa," but Miriam thought that was fine because now she was learning some action steps, too.  I think she'll do fine this Sunday when it is performed.  The sheep just needed that one rehearsal.  The other children have Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday rehearsals before the play.  Samuel was funny, too.  During the African dance, he has the role of beating the drum.  This was the first time that he brought our drum with him so that he could really do that part.  It is one of two that Aaron brought home from Liberia when we adopted our children.  It was handmade there.  This is the smaller of the two to make it easier for Samuel.  Well, having Samuel sit for that long with a drum between his knees was just too much for him.  First, he kept beating the drum at all different points during the practice.  Then, he got so antsy that he started playing with the drum in other ways.  He missed one whole song of standing up and singing, because he'd knocked the drum on its side and was using his feet to kick it back and forth.  Then, he started hopping back and forth between his seat and sitting on his drum.  Finally, he moved to sitting totally on the drum and bouncing up and down.  At this point, I was nursing Benjamin and had to send a friend up to the stage to tell him he couldn't do that or the drum would break.  He didn't hop onto the drum again, but did start picking it up by the ropes around its top and whacking it up and down.  It was just WAY too much of a temptation for the little guy!  I'm just glad it survived the rehearsal!  Ms. Vicki and I agreed after the practice that he would have the drum in front of him just for that one song and it would be tucked away the rest of the time.  ;-)

Well, Benjamin has finished his morning nursing time and I need to wake up the other children.  I am continuing to tweak the chorebusters thing.  I'm hoping that the changes that I've made so far will make this week go smoothly.  One big thing I did was color code which jobs are for morning, for afternoon, and for evening.  That should make it visually easier for me to keep track of how everyone's doing.  I also printed it off with little check boxes next to each chore so I can mark them off as completed.  It's tricky to keep track of how 9 little people are doing at getting their jobs done if you don't have a system in place, let alone how I'm doing at my own to do list!

Love, Dawn

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My turn to be sick

Well, my body held out as long as it could, but I guess one can only hold so many children as they throw up, change so many diareah diapers, mop up so much vomit off the floor with paper towels, and wash so much contaminated laundry before catching the virus.  I have been SO sick.  I'm doing a little better today, but still incredibly dehydrated.  My milk supply has gone way down as a result and Benjamin spent a huge amount of last  night crying.  That made me so sad.  I ate a piece of toast and an egg for breakfast, my first food since Thursday.  I'm going to see if it can stay put in my stomach.  I usually wait until I feel hunger before eating again, but feel like I need to try to get nutrients in so my body can make milk for him.  Until my milk started running low last night, I think that Benjamin thought we were having a dream day.  I might have been sick as a dog, but his perspective was that I was spending the entire day laying in bed with him snuggling him and nursing him.  He was the absolute happiest little guy!  That brought me some joy in the midst of everything.  He has now caught the cold that has also been going around our house and last night started coughing.  Please pray that it doesn't go into his chest.  He's just 9.5 weeks old!  Aaron stayed home again yesterday.  He was still sick himself, but in a lot better shape than me.  He did the best he could managing everything and then came up for a 4 hour nap in the afternoon.  Last night he was finally hungry and ate a full meal.  I think that's a good sign!  I'm drinking Recharge and trying to get myself hydrated again.  I did decide that this is the perfect opportunity to get off of two addictive substances, since I just did a 40 hour fast.  I'm getting off of caffeine and sugar.  Might as well get some good out of being so sick!

Kel, you left a comment about the children eating bones.  They crack them open and suck the marrow out of the bones first.  Then they start chewing the rest of the bone and they look like they have a piece of taffy in their mouth or something.  They chew and they chew and they chew and they chew.  Finally, when they've gotten every bit out of it, they spit out something about the size of a dime.  That's all that's left of the bone and I guess it's the part you aren't supposed to eat.  To make myself feel a little better about the safety of it all, though, I like for them to wait until I've used the bones to make stock.  After the bones have cooked in the liquid for 24 or more hours (I usually cook it 24-36 hours) they are incredibly soft and are safe for anyone to eat.  At that point, they just take bites, chew them up, and swallow them.  

Thomas and Stephen are going to a Tween Christmas Party up at our church today.  I think they'll have a lot of fun at that.  I'm really happy with our church and am so glad that we found it!

Thursday night I took Sarah to the church for a special practice for the Christmas play for the African dancers.  She had a great time at that.  The Christmas play, by the way, is on missionary children around the world this time.  That's how African dancers fit into a Christmas play.  ;-)  Anyway, Benjamin was sound asleep in his car seat, so I decided to just drop her off and then I drove to Starbucks and got one of their yummy hot caramel apple ciders.  I remembered those from last year and was thrilled to see they have them again this year.  I drove back to the church parking lot and enjoyed getting to drink that while waiting on Sarah's practice to finish.  I even had the chance to call one of my very best friends on the phone.  That was such a blessing!  It's incredibly hard for me to find any time at all to talk on the phone at home.

Love, Dawn

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I'm testing out how to post photos, something I hope to do a lot more soon.  It looks like this worked.  These are 5 of my sweet children.  In the back row, you see Sarah (10), Hannah (6), and Stephen (11).  In the front row are Samuel (6) and Miriam (4).

Love, Dawn

Round 3

Alrighty, we're in Round 3 of this nasty stomach virus now.  Rebekah was the one who got it first.  At that point, we just thought that she'd eaten something that disagreed with her or something like that.  We didn't realize it was a virus.  Well then Round 2 was when Thomas, Stephen, Naomi Ruth, Hannah, and Susanna got it.  Yesterday we got hit with Round 3.  Miriam and Aaron got sick during the day and Susanna got hit a second time, this time starting in the middle of the night.  I am so ready for us to be done with this.  Please pray that nobody else catches it!

Aaron is upstairs sleeping now.  I've got all of the children gathered in the family room watching Anne of Green Gables.  We love this movie, but haven't watched it in a long time, probably because it's so long.  Seems just right for a day like this.  

Tonight there is another practice for the Christmas play.  I'm hoping that I can take the healthy children up for it.  If ANYONE gets new symptoms today, though, I'm not going to take anyone.  Last thing I want to do is spread this to others in the church.

Miriam has speech therapy this afternoon, but I will need to cancel that.  I know she's still contagious and she's feeling pretty lousy, too.  She hardly touched breakfast.  Usually I make the children finish their food, but I am not pushing anything at this point.  If someone says their tummy doesn't feel good or they don't want anymore I tell them that's fine and snatch away their plates or bowls before they change their minds.  lol

The appointment here with the man from the school district went well yesterday, although it was very long.  Susanna's transition meeting should take place next week.  Samuel still needs his spech evaluation and then his meeting to qualify for services should be somewhere after Susanna's and before Christmas.

Love, Dawn

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Sometimes I get really frustrated by Samuel's lack of common sense/logic within his thinking skills.  Yet, Aaron and I have talked about how that is kind of like getting frustrated with a bunny because it won't bark.  If he can't do something, what's the point in being frustrated about it?  Anyway, here are two examples from yesterday.  First, his bedroom especially reeked.  As he soaks through 3 pull-ups, his pjs, and his bedding most nights, it always smells really strong in the morning, but this time it was even worse.  Turns out he'd shoved the previous night's bedding under the bed instead of taking it to the laundry room.  What was his answer when asked why?  So it could dry under there.  I explained that it would be dry and STINKY, but if he took it to the laundry room like he was supposed to, I could make it dry and CLEAN.  Later in the afternoon, he saw that in the living room someone had used the foam blocks we have to create a really big intricate castle across a big section of the floor.  He kicked it hard twice, destroying most of it.  Stephen flew at him enraged and I had to take care of both issues.  I got Samuel to apologize and for Stephen to sit down on the couch to cool down and then took Samuel to a separate room to ask him why he had done that.  He had wanted to know whose it was.  Ah!  Next time just ask, Samuel!  Life is certainly never dull around here.  I picked up 2 books from the library on helping a child who is mentally retarded/brain injured.  I'm hoping to find some things in there to help Samuel.  Someone from the school district will be over later this afternoon to hopefully get his evaluation finished.  I'm so glad that I've got the 2 teenage girls that help out once a week coming over this morning.  When the man from the school district comes, I am supposed to have a quiet peaceful atmosphere in my home.  That would NOT be an accurate description of what it would be like if I was involved in the evaluation and the other children were left to entertain themselves!

The trip to Sam's Club went well.  I took Naomi Ruth and Benjamin with me.  She has always been such a fabulous helper with the little ones since she was tiny.  I can remember her at 3 years old sitting in the rocking chair with baby Hannah in her arms, gently rocking her and singing to her.  :-)  In the store, I carried Benjamin against my body in my Maya Wrap slings.  It is one of 4 slings that I have and love.  Benjamin is such a happy little guy when he is all cozy and warm right against my chest.  The shopping time took a LOT longer than I had anticipated.  Naomi Ruth wanted to stop and see SO many things.  In addition to their regular stuff, they had a lot of Christmas shopping things available.  By the time we got back out to our van, I had to explain to her that dawdling to that extent when I keep telling her to hurry up and come on is disobedience.  She shared how she loves the special one-on-one time with me and liked looking at the things in the store.  I told her I like those things, too, but if she wants to come with me more often instead of less often, she needs to be able to move faster.  She agreed to be much quicker in the future.  We did have to make one other stop, this time at Meijer's.  Can you believe that Sam's Club was completely out of bagged cat food?  That was a first in my shopping there over the years.  I'd also wanted to buy plastic wrap and they only had containers with 3000 feet of it.  I don't use THAT much plastic wrap!  So, true to her word, we were able to get in an out of Meijer's quickly.  Oh we also got Samuel new socks while we were there.  He's had a foot growth spurt and suddenly has toes popping out of all of his socks.  That's not good any time of the year, but especially when it's COLD!  His feet will be much more comfy now.  :-)

A friend and I are trying out a new site for chores.  It's called  I am pretty excited about it.  I only got a few of the chores entered into it last night and will continue on that today.  I'll let you know what I think of it after I give it a whirl.  If any of you have ever tried it, please leave a comment giving your opinion of it.  And by the way, anybody else is free to leave comments, too.  It's fun to get comments.  :-D

Well, I'd better hop into the day.  Bye until tomorrow!  Ooh an exciting update here!  I just found out that Samuel stayed totally dry last night!  That's the very first time since he got here!  Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Samuel!  :-D

Love, Dawn

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Well child checkups

We went to our family doctor this morning.  Naomi Ruth, Susanna, and Benjamin had well child check-ups.  Naomi Ruth is growing, but staying petite at 57.4 inches (10th %) and 52.5 lb (25th %).  Susanna has had huge growth this last year and is now exactly 37 inches and 37lb.  I thought that was pretty funny.  :-D  That puts her at 90th % for weight and 40th% for height.  Last year she was 15% for height and 50% for weight.  Benjamin is thriving on my breast milk.  He's now 11lb 14.2oz (50%) and 23.75 inches(75%).  Aaron and I have been concerned about his vision and our doctor agreed with us.  We are going to get him seen by a Pediatric Opthamologist.  Please pray that he's just delayed but will catch up fine.  Thank you to those few of you who have known and have been praying for him.  Other than that, they are all doing great.  While there, I checked to see when everyone else was last seen.  I've given up on having appointments with birthdays and just try to get each child in for a well-child checkup annually.  Miriam is now the only one who hasn't been seen in 2008, so I got her scheduled for next week.  Then in February, I coordinated other appointments around Benjamin's 4mo checkup.  Thomas, Rebekah, and Hannah will all be seen at that same time.  Our adopted children have been with us since March 11th of this year.  Once they've been here a full year, we're going to switch them over to our family doctor.  For now, they are seeing a pediatrician who is actually from Africa herself and therefore familiar with the medical issues associated with that area of the world.

I am looking forward to going to Sam's Club this evening.  I was going to go last night, but it was snowing and the temperature dropped below freezing, so we were concerned about the roads being slippery.  I like to go to Sam's Club at the beginning of each month.  On today's list I have things like toilet paper, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, kleenex, cat food, frozen fruit, and more.  It's a great place for our family!  

Yesterday the children were a funny mixture of the ones laying sprawled on the furniture because while their tummies were now fine, they had very low energy AND the ones bouncing off the walls because they hadn't gotten sick and needed to get their energy out!  Today everyone is back to their usual high energy.  In other words, they're all bouncing off the walls.  :-D  I'll see if I can get them bundled and out to the trampoline for a while to help with that before naptime rolls around.

I've been thinking about our cleaning jobs around here.  I think it's time to revamp all of the chore lists.  I'll post the new ones as soon as I've got them together.  A lot of people ask me how I do it all.  I don't!!!  Our children all get chores from as soon as they can do them.

Love, Dawn

Monday, December 1, 2008


Yesterday was really rough.  I'm hoping today goes WAY better.  I've got a lot of stinky laundry to get through today.  Good thing Monday is my main laundry day anyway!  I've taught most of the children to do their own laundry, so our system for who gets the machines is:
Monday -  me
Tuesday - Thomas (he washes his and Benjamin's)
Wednesday - Stephen (he washes his and Samuel's)
Thursday - Naomi Ruth and Sarah (they wash theirs and Miriam's)
Friday - me, with Rebekah and Hannah as my helpers, I'm trying to teach them how to do it
Saturday - me
The children sort, wash, dry, fold, hang, and put away all of their laundry on their days.  They also strip their beds, wash their sheets, and put on clean sheets.  It's a great system.  :-)  The only person struggling to keep up with their part right now is me.  That's just one of those aspects to having a newborn.  If we suddenly add in hours of me sitting down and nursing during the day, there are things that are going to have to slide for a while.  

The snow is coming down and looks just beautiful right now.  It's not sticking at all, just swirling through the air.  All of our children love snow, but the Liberians find it just absolutely amazing!  Liberia has a tropical climate.

My plan with homeschooling had been to finish up our Thanksgiving unit study by Thanksgiving and start our Christmas unit study today.  We didn't get as much done as I'd wanted to with our Thanksgiving one, though, so I've decided to extend it through this week.  Thomas and Naomi Ruth are really doing a LOT of independent reading as part of this unit study.  Aaron and I had talked about starting to give them an allowance and then we came up with a better idea.  We give them $1 for every 100 pages they do of independent reading related to our current homeschool unit study.  I went to the library and checked out a big bin of books related to Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims, and the Early Settlers. They've learned SO much through those books and are really loving them!  We will definitely keep that up!  We'll start our Christmas study next Monday.  Our Christmas study is an ongoing one that we do each year.  Each child has a Christmas notebook that they are steadily adding to.  It's a lot of fun.

For Susanna's birthday, we decided to go ahead and have her open her presents, but we are waiting on the cake and ice cream part.  We were able to gather everyone down to the family room last night.  We all sang "Happy Birthday" to her and then she sat in her little stuffed rocking chair and opened her presents one by one.  I'd taken the children to the thrift store a little over a week ago so that they could buy presents for her and they were so excited as she opened all of the presents, but especially the ones from them.  :-)  I like that they are learning the joy of giving!

Love, Dawn

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Susanna's Birthday

Today is Susanna's 3rd birthday.  It's not cracking up to be quite the day we were hoping for.  The alarm went off at 7am and Aaron said his throat was killing him and he felt overall yucky and needed to stay home this morning.  I got up, showered, nursed Benjamin, and then went to wake up all of the children.  I went through the craziness of trying to get 10 little people ready for church.  As we were eating our breakfast of raw oat porridge (yummy), Hannah suddenly announced that her tummy didn't feel good.  I told her to go up and lay down with Daddy.  I kept getting the rest ready and we all headed off to church.  Thomas, Stephen, Sarah, Naomi Ruth, Rebekah, Samuel, and Miriam all went to their Sunday School classes while Susanna and Benjamin and I went to the nursery.  I nursed him during that time, hoping that he would be able to sleep through church in the sling that way.  Sunday School ended and I headed out to round up everyone and get them into church.  Thomas let me know that he was feeling sick to his stomach.  I made a quick decision and had him lay down across some chairs in one of the Sunday School rooms that was not in use, got a trashcan positioned next to him, and told him I'd check on him in about 15 minutes.  My hope, obviously, was that he would be feeling better by then.  I got everyone else settled and we were happily enjoying the first Sunday of Advent.  Then Stephen mentioned casually to me that he felt a little sick and while I was trying to ask if he meant his throat or tummy he suddenly convulsed and put his hand over his mouth.  I slammed my hand over his hand and got both of us out into the main aisle and to the closest trashcan as fast as I possibly could.  It's kind of a blur in my mind, but as soon as we hit the aisle I spotted the trashcan in the sound room in the back and made that our target.  I apologized to the people working back there as he threw up again and again and again into it and took the trashbag with us when he finally finished.  I got him to that room with Thomas, having them lay down with their heads towards each other and the trashcan carefully positioned for both of them and took the trashbag to the bathroom to dispose of.  Then I went back and rounded up all of the rest of the children, got Thomas and Stephen, and got everyone to the van.  I was thankful for some help from a sweet friend!  We drove home with Stephen vomiting into his trashcan as we went and Naomi Ruth telling me she was starting to feel sick to her stomach.  The day was shaping up just lovely.  I decided to postpone Susanna's party to a different day.  No need to have all of the children vomiting up cake and ice cream.  ;-)  We now have sick people upstairs and hopefully healthy people downstairs.  We'll see how the rest of the day goes!  

Yesterday was a MUCH better day, I'm happy to say.  Aaron and I were able to go on a real date!  That was a very special treat.  Usually our dates are when we put the children down to bed and then spend time downstairs together either watching a movie or playing games and talking.  We went to the Macaroni Grill.  That was yummy!  Their lunch prices are fantastic, too!  Then we headed over to a bookstore, one of our very favorite hang-outs.  That was SO nice!  Benjamin was a sweetheart the whole time, too.  While at the bookstore, I got a new spiral calendar for my purse for next year.  It's a Mary Engelbreit one with cute pictures on the left hand side and a week per page on the right hand side.  I already have a few things to put in there.  I was starting to scribble little notes on the last page of my 2008 one.  Okay, back to yesterday, we got home, and had dinner with the children.  I'd put half of the turkey carcass into the crockpot and made stock from it.  I made turkey, cabbage, and rice, using 8 cups of that yummy rich stock plus 4 cups of turkey.  I served that and then Stephen started asking for the turkey bones.  Liberians LOVE bones.  The other children started asking for them, too.  They've learned that when I make stock, there are always bones.  :-)  I went back to the kitchen and worked in the crockpot until I came back with a bowl of bones.  Not only do our Liberian children like them, but now they've hooked most of our birth children on them, too.  I haven't been able to get myself to even try them.  Yuck!  Susanna started crying out over and over, "I want a bone!  I want a bone!" and couldn't understand my explanation of how that really wouldn't be good for her throat.  She finally got over it when I gave her a big cup of green smoothie to enjoy instead.  She loves those!  Once dinner was done, we all loaded into the van and went down to a mall in Columbus.  It was time to do our special activity for Naomi Ruth's birthday.  Her birthday was last Sunday, but as we'd just celebrated Sarah's birthday on Saturday by going to COSI, we decided to postpone Naomi Ruth's activity until this weekend.  Anyway, one of the malls has horse carriage rides available this time of year.  What a treat!  This is a really ritzy mall and in a very rich area of Columbus.  To say that we felt out of place is an understatement.  I'm sure we made quite the sight as we walked through part of the mall between the parking garage and where they were offering the carriage rides.  Aaron was in front holding Susanna's hand.  Thomas, Stephen, Sarah, Naomi Ruth, Rebekah, and Hannah all walked in the middle between us and then I followed up in the rear with one hand holding Miriam's hand, one hand holding Samuel's hand, and Benjamin strapped to me in his sling.  :-)  Once we got there, we hardly had to wait at all.  We split up into 2 carriages.  The children LOVED the ride.  It was really special and all of the Christmas lights the mall has up were just beautiful.  After the ride, we bought some yummy fresh kettle popcorn and then headed back through the mall to our van.  It was a really nice day!

Love, Dawn

Saturday, November 29, 2008

New Blog

I have been wanting to start a new family blog for some time now.  I've been using my daughter Susanna's caringbridge site ( as our family blog, but it wasn't intended to be that.  

For those who don't know me, my name's Dawn and I've been married to my best friend Aaron for 14 years.  Thus far, the Lord has blessed us with 10 children.  Thomas and Stephen are both 11.  Sarah and Naomi Ruth are both 10.  Rebekah is 8.  Hannah and Samuel are both 6.  Miriam is 4.  Susanna is 2.  Last but not least, Benjamin will turn 2 months tomorrow.  :-)  Stephen, Sarah, and Samuel joined our family via adoption from Liberia in March of this year.  I gave birth to the other seven.

Anyway, I wanted to have a place to share what our life is like with all of our little blessings.  Our last name is Hall, hence "lots of little Halls" as the blog name.  ;-)  Okay, enough of the introduction.  I'm going to hop right in now.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  My parents were able to come up from Florida to join us for it.  We are very blessed in that they are able to come up and see us so often.  As you can imagine, trying to take our family on big trips is quite an ordeal.  We are, however, hoping to go to Texas this Christmas.  That's where Aaron's family lives.  It's been 5 years since we've been able to go there.  Aaron is getting new tires put on the van up at Sears right now, in preparation for the trip.  Back to Thanksgiving, I made a mixture of traditional Thanskgiving cooked foods plus a variety of raw foods, too.  (Check out my other blog, for more info on raw foods.)  We did have a big pause in our Thanksgiving preparations while I worked on saving Naomi Ruth's bunny, Silky.  She'd gotten out of her cage and was in the yard wet and nearly frozen to death.  I held her on my lap and used a blow dryer set on warm while massaging her for about an hour.  She went from limp and lifeless to sitting up with bright eyes.  We let her stay in a box in the house for about another 24 hours and then she moved back out to her hutch, looking perky and healthy.  At our Thanksgiving meal, we went around and everyone was to say something that they were thankful for from this last year.  Answers varied from "that you're my Mommy and Daddy" from Samuel to giving thanks for our chickens from Thomas to Aaron and I being thankful for 4 new children this year.  Stephen absolutely refused to answer, though.  We thought that was both rude and strange.  After the meal in the kitchen, he told us that he's so thankful that we are his family now and then burst into tears.  He hadn't said it at the table for fear of bursting into tears out there.

I took Sarah and Naomi Ruth shopping yesterday for some new clothes.  In our family, the girls wear dresses/skirts only and theirs were getting too short.  We went to the Salvation Army thrift store and practically got them a whole new wardrobe.  We had a lot of fun together.  Of course Benjamin was with us, too.  He and I are practically inseparable.  We got plenty of skirts, jumpers, and dresses for them there and then went to Kohl's to get a few slips and tights.  They are all set now!  Oh, I also needed to get Sarah a couple of bras.  She's only just turned 10, but is already in puberty.  Apparently it is not that uncommon with girls adopted internationally.  On the way to the stores, I talked with both girls about their upcoming monthly cycles.  I think that talk went well.  I hadn't planned on having it with my girls at 10, but I don't know how soon Sarah will start.  Having discovered that Sarah is in puberty, Aaron and I were talking last night about how that explains a lot.  Nothing like a hormonal girl!  Who knows how much of her attitude is adoption transition and how much is hormones???  It doesn't excuse it, but it does help explain it a bit better.

Half of our children have special needs.  Just recently we've been doing an evaluation of Samuel through our local school district to determine where he's at cognitively and in other areas.  He came home from Liberia with lead poisoning and it appears that he has permanent brain damage from it.  We found out this week that he is testing well into the mentally retarded range.  That really saddened us, but I can't say that it shocked us.  As I mentioned above with Sarah, that explains a lot.  He's been an enormous challenge since arriving and has required an unbelievable amount of patience.  Just as an example, it took 5 months of me helping him everyday before he could figure out how to pull out his clothes in the morning.  He needs 1 pair of socks, 1 pair of underwear, 1 t-shirt, 1 hanging shirt, and 1 pair of pants.  He finally did master it, though.  Our hope and prayer is that as we fill with with good nutrition and lots of love that he will improve in all areas, including cognitive function.

I'm nursing Benjamin while I type this and Susanna is standing next to us kissing him on the head and singing her favorite lullaby to him.  "Hush my baby.  Don't cry my darling.  The lion sleeps tonight.  In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight."  :-)  She learned that song from one of our story CD's.  You can see it at  

Well Benjamin is finishing up nursing and the children are busy working on chores.  I better get breakfast out on the table.

Love, Dawn