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