Thursday, December 31, 2015

Best of Facebook: December 2015

12/1/2015: Click here to see post on FB:

Did you know Kid president was adopted? Shared an article: Kid President's Path to Awesome!

12/4/2015: Click here to see photo on FB:

I am DONE! 40+ hours of a novice sewing with no pattern, just winging it with some flannel fabric, thread and a machine and I do believe they turned out pretty good! Now just to sew big yellow elf shoe correction, I guess I am super close to done....

About a week ago my old boss asked if me and the kids could be on their float in the City's Winter Festival Parade held downtown tomorrow. Of course! Dressed as elves and reindeers? Absolutely! Could you make the costumes if we covered material? Sure, I said quickly sentencing myself to a week chained to my sewing machine, eating far too much chocolate icecream and beating my head against the wall.

Well, it wasn't that bad....and they are pretty cute! ;)

We have been selling at a craft fair all day. The kids worked hard for weeks on making things to sell. Ty made one necklace out of big plastic multi-colored beads and asked if he could sell it for $5. "Sure, buddy, you can try!" I said secretly skeptical. After he got his nerve up to ask a passerby, "I made this myself, would you buy it for $5?" he endured his first rejection. His very tender heart was broken almost to the point of tears. I was getting up to suggest he lower his asking price to $1 or 50 cents. But as I was getting up he calmed down and asked the next stranger who passed by. She kneeled down, "just because you made it all by yourself I would love to buy it from you for $5." Tyman was beaming, "Thank you! I am going to buy a Christmas gift for my mom!" Melt. My. Mama. Heart!

Our kids were asked if they could attend our city's annual winter festival parade dressed as elves and reindeers on the parks and rec parade float. Of course! For a week (like 50+ hours) I sewed elf and reindeer costumes! These memories will last forever!!!

During this busy shopping season don't forget to stop and hug someone!!! My tiny man with a huge heart asked if he could hug people. He wrote the sign himself and let me tell you the ladies are loving it! 

Brittney is enjoying herself while the parade is going!

This is my favorite photo from the parade on Saturday night! I was almost in tears walking behind the float, hearing the cheers from the crowd, and watching this little girl light up and rock to the music.

This little girl who was once cooped up in a hospital room but now she gets to experience life and live it to its fullest! This little girl who was once kept away from fun events due to her illnesses but now she is rocking out, not watching a parade but IN one! This little girl who was once hidden away in a medical foster home but now she is celebrated for her uniqueness and tremendous JOY she brings to everyone! Love you, my Britt Britt girl!

My hubby really, really, really LOVES me! Merry early Christmas to me!!!
Now my 2 teens are fighting over who gets my old Sony Cybershot camera....hmmm..

We get a lot of hate. Yep, us, I know! ;) Called "fundie" and "crazy" and some things worse. That is okay. One of the biggest thing we read on the sites that bad-mouth us is that they can't get over our creepy age gap to see any good in us. Because my hubby is just plain awesome and the greatly unsung hero of our family I am going to tell you the story of our age gap here.

My hubby did meet me when I was 14 but for three years I dated other young boys. The older college guys at work called me "jail bait" and often joked that I was only good for one thing. I had a pretty face but I was shy (I did go to public school, but my friends nicknamed me "mom" because I was always trying to keep people out of trouble). It was Brian that would bring me a lemon pie when I was crying in a booth after being made fun of again and encourage me that they don't know what they are saying. I don't believe it was to win any affections of mine, he was also dating 20-something year olds closer to his age. It wasn't creepy because he would do the same for a 80 year old woman or a 15 year old boy if he say them hurting. His goal in life is to see you smile. He has never been anything to anyone but the goofy, nice guy that purposes to make your day great. He was everyone's best friend. It wasn't just me. Brian eventually moved away and life went on. My new manager cared about only one person, himself, work wasn't fun anymore and the guys were still being guys. After getting out of a terrible relationship it was me who instigated a renewed friendship with Brian. I told him, "I need to find someone like you. Someone who is just plain kind." In my mind, though, I wanted Brian in the younger, hotter form. We both knew with me being 17 and him 28 that we were not compatible. Being long distance we purposed to ask each other 3 questions every day on AIM. Like where did your father work? or what is your favorite ice cream flavor? After a month we were running out of questions, we had asked almost 200 by that time. The more we found out about each other the more we looked forward to the next chat time. I remember distinctly standing in my kitchen doing the dishes when a thought the size of a brick hit me, "I don't need to find a guy like Brian. I need to allow myself to love Brian."

We chose to overlook the age gap then and I am so thankful now. This man is still the same. He is a people-pleaser (yet I have made him say "no" more often) and he has made me friendlier. He is my laugh at the end of a hard day and teddy bear arms always waiting for any moment I need an embrace. And I wouldn't trade his big, comfy warmth for rock hard abs anyday! I haven't ever heard a co-worker say anything but he is an awesome guy to work with, he can make anything fun. And if you are a customer at his store Brian is the guy that you love yet you don't know his name, but he knows yours. Oh, and Brian doesn't get frustrated, like ever. Which is a breath of fresh air for me who has a pretty short fuse (God is slowly making it longer). He is the man that EVERYDAY, yes EVERYDAY, calls from work just to say, "I love you," see how I am doing, and tell me he misses me. He is the man who every day 7 kids rush to the door with ear-blistering squeals, "DADDY IS HOME!"

God has helped us overcome so many other things, bigger than our age gap, in our life that are outside the boundaries of "societal norm" like adopting 5 kids at once, adopting kids that were outside our comfort zone, living with infertility, giving up our luxuries in life so we could flee from debt, live within our means and spend more time with our kids and now learning how to farm and raise our own produce and meat. One thing is for sure, I couldn't have been on this crazy ride, called life, without my bestie and partner in crime, even if he is ancient! ;)lol

My Brian, babe, you will always be young and spry to me!

Memory from 4 years ago today:

"I put some of the kid's gifts under the tree today and Yukehily (Mirabel age 8), wide-eyed, said "how do you wrap a gift?" I didn't have a quick response and paused, then little LulI put some of the kid's gifts under the tree today and Yukehily, wide-eyed, said "how do you wrap a gift?" I didn't have a quick response and paused, then little Lulu (Risa age 5) said "this is the first time we had wrapped presents!" There is so much I take for granted like giving or receiving a wrapped gift."

"As I reflect on the past month it was a blur, I rushed through it, the prep, the work, the sickness, to get past the trials it held. I missed all the great moments sprinkled in the trials. I RESOLVE that I will be content in my trials so that the joy intertwined can shine through! I looked at our children's gleaming faces as they decorated our tree. This wasn't just a Christmas tree this was their 1st Christmas tree."

Ah, I love FB memories! We had been parenting 4 hurting children for about 6 months. Another infant, Titus who is number 5, will arrive in a few days. The trials continued and still continue but I am so thankful God gave me the resolve to hold close to my heart the joy in the trials!

Christmas is a heard season for kids from hard places. It is not you, mama. Keep loving, keep being firm, keep your heart open to the joy intertwined in the hard and snatch it out, hold it close and tuck it away!!! As the joy increases the hard has to shrink to make room for it so purpose to be joyful this season since in Christ your joy is complete!

On our way to a dress-up birthday party!!! Happy 5th birthday to our friend Jubileeah Joy!

That time that you don't have enough gas to get home but you are also in a princess costume....LOL

Life is short, keep your tank full and feel pretty! :D

Yesterday we had such a sweet surprise. Brittney's Covenant Care team worked with another agency to adopt our family for Christmas and yesterday a van load of Christmas presents were lavished on our children. I have a ton of pictures of happy children going through their unexpected treasures but one moment topped it all. Risa's one request for Christmas was a saddle for her pony, Cherrio. I walked everyone into the room with their eyes closed and put them in front of the chair that held their unwrapped presents. Risa was so sweet and thankful for her new shoes and clothes and a teddy bear but as everyone settled they announced they had one more present, as Risa walked over we lifted a sheet covering a large stuffed horse with the most perfect saddle seated on it. "Oh! I might cry!" Risa gasped.

Today she got to ride her pony for the first time like a real cowgirl with a saddle and reins! Then she gave pony rides to her siblings and some friends. Too sweet!

This girl brings us so much joy! At church today she was prancing around giddy laughing hugging everybody. You may get a little drool on your shirt but no one can turn down a Brittney hug when she flashes this smile!!! :)

Thank the Lord we said YES to this little girl! (PS, her dress is #LulaRoe dress we got her for Christmas! Isn't it just gorgeous on her!?!)

We love making pens and animal houses from old recycled materials! Here are some of our creations.

Happy repurposing!!!

Posted by Shannon

Monday, November 30, 2015

Best of Facebook: November 2015

11/1/2015: Click here to see photo on FB

Feeling like a real farmer this morning getting kicked by a cow!
We bought a beautiful Jersey heifer, Willow, who is currently in milk. This is only her second day on our farm and although she is adjusting well and tolerating me milking her she is easily spooked, ornery and stubborn. Sure brings all those bible verses to life where the Lord compares His people Israel to a stubborn heifer! As time goes on I'll get the hang of it and she'll get used to me. And my little helpers sure loved watching mommy milk a cow "like Ms. Ingalls" lol. Praise the Lord for over 2 gallons of fresh milk this morning! :)

"Wow. What made you want to parent a special needs child!?!" Short answer is I didn't. I cried out to God begging Him to choose someone else more patient, more compassionate and more qualified.

"God, some days are so hard already. Some days I feel so burdened. Why have you called me again to this road of adoption? Can't I back out and trust you will find a better parent for her? I don't feel qualified to parent a special needs child, Lord!"

God calmed my stormy spirit and suddenly one quiet thought passed through my mind.

"Have you forgotten that you know not what tomorrow may bring? Tomorrow one of your six healthy children could be involved in a life-threatening accident that could change their abilities and development forever. Tomorrow your womb may be opened to grow a child with severe disabilities. Tomorrow you could be the parent of a special needs child without an option to back out. You know what? You don't have to be qualified. For God is with you and He cares for the orphans. He will be your strength. He will lift your burdens. If you rely on Him alone He will give you rest. This child will not be a cause of burden for you but one of your biggest BLESSING!"

Five months we have parented a sweet and endearing little girl; one month in the hospital, four months in our home and two months as our beloved daughter! This little girl has shown us and brought more joy into our home than we had before she came. We have watched in awe as she has made a huge impact on everyone she comes in contact with. Everyday as I help her fulfill her every daily activity I thank God for this opportunity to love her. Brittney is so easy to love because she gives far more love than she could ever receive! Anybody could have loved Brittney, she is awesome, but I am so thankful God chose us to be the recipients of His great LOVE through her!

Operation Christmas Child shopping!

Today did not start out as a good day. I broke down into uncontrollable sobs as Brian came out to the stable to help me. Our poor cow got mastitis and is not feeling well. The past couple days have already been a fight to milk her and treat her infection (and no milk for us). But today as I was milking her painful udders our sweet dandy-cat jumped on her back and began kneading with her claws! Instantly I had a flailing 1000lb cow knocking into me and jumping over me. Thank God I was able to get out of the way unharmed but the terror of being trapped and trampled was enough to make my screams heard inside and as Brian came out I broke down in tears explaining what had happened.

This past week has been busy busy making crafts for upcoming craft fairs. We have barely kept up on chores, laundry and all the other mundane household-running stuff. So today we spent the day catching up on much needed farm and house chores. It feels like a never ending job which is why it is sometimes so easy to put off since it will only get messy or dirty again.

I had just opened the fridge to make lunch and thought, "goodness we haven't even bought a turkey yet to start the defrosting!" Sigh, add grocery shopping on our long to-do list. I was disrupted by a slamming door, "Mom someone is at our gate." As our unexpected visitor drove in we went out to greet her, she said she was here with a delivery. She said that one of our neighbors is a member of their church and felt so blessed by our kids that their church bought our family two turkeys and a box of goodies for Thanksgiving dinner! How unexpected!

As if that wasn't enough for God to show His great provision in our lives we got a 2nd unexpected visitor tonight dropping off a decorated tree, lights, and a box of Christmas treats for the kids!

After feeling like a failure this morning, ready to give up on this whole farming venture and thinking what a poorly organized mother I am, this was a beautiful and blessed end to the day. As if I could audibly hear, "I love you, you are doing fine," coming from heaven.

Busy isn't a strong enough word for how this season has felt. Don't get me wrong I am definitely thankful for a season of feeling busy compared to a dull alternative of sitting in a hospital. Yay for busy! With our season of craft fairs and holiday events as well as our normal family and farm stuff we have been holed up at home with non-stop projects. This season is no where near ending either. We have one week until we spend two full days at a Market Days (a local craft fair). As we were buying more beads to make more jewelry my old boss called and asked our family to be on the city's parade float in the annual Winter Festival parade.

I used to work with the city's Special Events office. I loved that job. I seriously got paid to make parade floats. It was just awesome. I loved it! Anyway, so I am now spending every waking moment staring at my sewing machine until I have my crew of seven turned into the cutest elves and reindeer you ever saw!

Oh, and did I tell you I have NO CLUE what I am doing. I don't have a pattern or any experience sewing. I am just winging it and re-doing a lot as I mess up then praying it turns out somewhat looking like I had hoped! I am quite pleased so far!

I'll be able to breath after Saturday. But then we will have a week to play catch up on all the stuff I am not getting done before we head to Orlando. We have four very full days that include a speaking opportunity, a gifted day at Universal Studios, a wedding, visits with friends and a fun reunion! Busy is better than dull! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!!

This is our morning spread. Usually from October 1st to December 1st quite a few colds have passed through our house, not to mention the ear infections, sinus infections and the flu! But this year I am so excited to announce that so far we have been sickness-free! I love when the weather begins to become cool and crisp but I also begin to dread the snotty noses, sore throats and coughs it brings with it. With my news feed being filled with mamas posting about their sick babies I wanted to share the secret to our success thus far.

I am so thankful to God for the wisdom of our wellness doctor who instead of selling us the flu shot (which he said has not proven effective) or preparing for us to "need" antibiotics he prescribed that we load up on vitamin C and D to keep our immune system army ready for battle. Taking just a multivitamin doesn't cut it. In most multivitamins the average dose of vitamin C is 40mg and our doctor recommended 1000mg/day. The average dose of vitamin D is 400iu and our doctor recommended 2000-10,000iu/day. Back in August he tested my vitamin D levels and even though I was taking a daily multivitamin I was severely vitamin D deficient.

Twice in the past two months a little one showed signs of a drippy nose starting or said their throat felt a little scratchy. That is when we whip out the Apple Cider Vinegar (the real stuff with the mother) and after 2-3 tablespoons throughout the day (mixed with warm water, honey and cinnamon) any and all signs of a cold coming on were gone! Quote from OrganicAuthority: "While it’s highly acidic, apple cider vinegar actually helps the body to keep pH levels balanced, which can help prevent colds and flu germs from getting cozy in your nose and chest. A properly alkalized body is unappealing to germs.
Most of us tend to run a bit more acidic, thanks to the standard American diet, so it’s no wonder we spend the winter months battling germs." (Google "flu season apple cider vinegar").

Praise God for getting this far without any cold symptoms and praying for at least two more sick free weeks since we are way too busy currently to be down for a minute!

Posted by Shannon

Monday, November 23, 2015

Free Bead Charm Patterns

With the holidays fast approaching we have been hard at work crafting. Each big kid picked something to hand make. Some picked something that they were good at and some picked something they wanted to learn. 

Sam is great at origami so he made tiny origami jewelry and Christmas tree ornaments. 

Mirabel made no-sew scarves out of recycled t-shirts, click here for scarf craft ideas

More pictures coming soon!

Anthony learned how to make duct tape wallets and other fun stuff out of duct tape. He was the one who made the most Christmas $$$ at our first craft fair! 

Then I taught all the kids the art of beading and jewelry making. They started with making a simple pony bead gecko (click here for easy gecko pattern). Once they got the hang of the concept they then made lots of different patterns from with glass seeds beads and 28g wire instead of pony beads and cord.

All the kids did an awesome job making jewelry. Even the boys, Anthony made the Jack Sparrow necklace and Sam made the gecko bracelet and panda earrings. Risa made the gecko and cow earrings and beaded all the necklaces that Mirabel and I made charms for. Mirabel and I made most of the charms for the earrings. Since some of the pony bead 2-D patterns were still a little too big even using tiny beads I tried to design my own 3-D patterns. I started with making miniture Disney Princesses. Since I think they turned out pretty cute I wanted to share the patterns I made for free here!

Snow White

Belle from Beauty and the Beast


Ariel from the Little Mermaid

Aurora from Sleeping Beauty


Elsa and Anna from Frozen

Merida from Brave

Pictures coming soon...


Pictures coming soon...

Tiana from Princess and the Frog

Pictures coming soon...

Rapunzel from Tangled

Pictures coming soon...

Jasmine from Aladdin

Pictures coming soon...

*BONUS* R2D2 and Yoda from Star Wars

Posted by Shannon

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Joy in the Chaos

a Fun Photo Shoot by Emily Garrison

I cannot say enough good things to convince you that Emily Garrison was an absolute dream to work with! She was creative, fun and, oh, so patient! Bathing, preparing and dressing seven children for a photo shoot is a quite the feat itself but then add seven favorite animals also and well you can only imagine the chaos that could ensue.... ;)

But Emily....she managed to turn our chaos into beauty. Here is the photo shoot in its entirety.

 Ah, we made it safe, on time, nobody's outfit got peed on during the drive and all the animals are cooperating relatively well...

A lovely day for a walk....or a parade! 

Geez...I love this man!

And this crew is my heart! We didn't create this family....we were just willing to be God's canvas! The heart of God.

Doesn't it just all look picture perfect? During the above photos Maggie somehow managed to step in every ant pile in the park while we walked to different photo spots. Each time a screaming panic ensued. Poor little lady! The sun was blaring, we were all getting frazzled and sweaty, at least two kids got stepped on by the horse and Mirabel got peed on by her goat....

 Life ain't always peachy but the chaos in this life doesn't ever have the right to steal our joy!

After a very full photo shoot our photographer surprised us with small whip cream pies. It was explained that we are to hold the pie....

taste the pie....

And smear some pie on the person closest to you's face.

But then free reign was given. Shove the pie, throw the pie, get messy....GO!

And as you can see Anthony was the primary target for such pie fighting goodness.

I just may be beginning to revel in my life of intense chaos yet even deeper joy!





Posted by Shannon
To God be the Glory