Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Princess Oinkers

A farmer friend called and said, "You want a hog?"  Um, YEAH!  Who doesn't want a hog!?!

We don't have anything in which to transport a hog, but no worries.  I called my friend Laurel.  She always knows what to do.

A trailer, a cage, some straps and a few hours later and we were on the road to pick up this beauty!

Meet Princess Oinkers, the newest addition to Team Robinson's little farm. Of course, we had to hook up this homemade livestock trailer to our big ole van to go pick her up.  Everybody wanted in on this homecoming!  Princess Oinkers made quite an impression on the passersby during her ride home.  People kept honking at us and waving, and everyone at the gas station in Pine Mountain stopped by our pump to say hello.

In true Robinson farming fashion, we experienced a fencing malfunction promptly upon arriving home, so Princess Oinkers had to hang out in the cage and have a little snack while we figured things out.  

In no time at all....or six hours later, however you want to look at it....the meanest hog I've ever met was settled into her enclosure and tearing up the place.  A few days later we happened to be out by the enclosure watching her thrash around and wondering what might be wrong with her, when our wondering turned to amazement.  Princess Oinkers had piglets!!  Now we know why she's been so mean. By the way, a hog AND piglets are so much cooler than just a hog.  The kids were over-the-moon excited to have seen the deliver - until Princess Oinkers started eating the babies.  Now they're split into two camps, those that are traumatized and those that think it was an epic day!

The kids named the two surviving piglets Bacon and Pork Chop.  These aren't exactly pigs of the pet variety.  They're thinking ahead, which is good.  Aren't they....um, adorable?

Here's to hoping that hogs are easy to raise! 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

High on a hill is a lonely goatherd

All the blogs about being a goatherd make it sound so grand.  That's not really true.  They don't really make it sound grand, but I really did think it would be grand anyway.  My rock star farming friend, Laurel, makes it seem pretty grand.  Maybe she's putting something in my tea when she welcomes me to her table for an afternoon chat. Hmmmm.....

About a month ago we took this little farm of ours up a notch.  We had to if we wanted to call ourselves farmers.  The crops died again.  The pep talk we gave ourselves during planting just wasn't enough. So we're not good with things that grow up from the ground.  That's okay.  Maybe we're just supposed to raise livestock.  I'm proud to say that we've kept all the chickens, and now the ducks, alive for quite some time.

So we got some livestock. (I love how if you look close you can see the tiller parked next to a garden bed  in the backyard. Ha!  Makes me laugh every time I look at this picture.)

Meet the livestock!  This is Brutus and his ladies.

They're beautiful Oberhasli dairy goats, and they joined Team Robinson in early August.  They are the reason that I haven't blogged in forever - they and the 12 kids that now live here. Holy Goatherd, Batman!  Dairy goats are a lot of work!!

Notice in the photo above that the goats are on the back steps, trotting up to the porch like they're part of the family.  Well, we've been having a little fencing problem, which apparently isn't uncommon for farmers raising livestock of the goat variety.  We would know this if we weren't city folk.  We're learning.  We are learning. And we're fencing.  Every.Single.Day.We.Are.Fencing.

"Goats are out" has become the most common phrase heard in our house.  We come home from church and "goats are out."  We get up in the morning and "goats are out." We pull on our boots to head to the barn to feed them and "goats are out."  We keep fencing and they keep getting out.  We may not be the sharpest tacks in the goat shed but I think today we finally figured this thing out.  Only time will tell.

In addition to the challenges of fencing, being a goatherd can be lonely, too, especially when the family fails to get as excited about caring for livestock as they should.  When that happens, I take to yodeling on social media to a) heckle Dean publicly, and b) entertain myself and....let's see....4 other people with witty quips using lines from my favorite musical. No other musical has both goats and lots of kids!

Looking beyond the joys of fencing, we are discovering that milking isn't all that grand, and you can't skip it if you just don't feel like doing it that day. In the beginning I was so eager, excited even, to add milking to my daily routine.  I was so excited I even let someone take my picture looking seriously not fancy and milking into a feed bucket. Yep, we're that good at this milking business!

Now, a couple of weeks later, we've come a long way with this milking thing.  We've got the proper setup and we're not milking into a feed bucket any longer.  We've also learned that milking is not very exciting.  Morning and night, there's milking to be done. I will say God's using milking to do a work in me.  It's hard to keep on being fancy when you're milking goats. I've stooped to letting people take pictures of me in camo pajama pants now.  Not so fancy! The coffee keeps me sane and the cell phone lets me complain about my situation to anyone who will read my texts from the pasture.

I mustn't ignore the pluses of being a goatherd.  Goat's milk everyday - SCORE!  Cheese - WIN!  Friendships that are deep and abiding - MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD!  I'm beyond thankful to my dear Laurel who keeps me in the know about everything between the hooves and the horns and from the milking stand to the table.

Gotta go!  Time to milk the goats!

Thursday, August 1, 2013


I went to visit a sweet friend today and came home with a gift of five ducks.  My friend Laurel is a REAL farmer, meaning she plants crops AND harvests them.  She's the real deal.  I'm fascinated by that.

Just a few weeks ago I wrote with renewed passion about how we weren't giving up and the crops were again going in the ground.  The seeds did go in the ground, so only time will tell.

No worries, though, the Piggly Wiggly still has frozen peas and Laurel believes in our farming potential - believes enough to entrust us with 5 ducks, which says a lot considering how the last duck raising attempt turned out!

I wasn't expecting such an amazing gift when I arrived at Laurel's house, so I was unprepared to transport them home.  Laurel offered that I carry the ducks home in a rabbit cage, and her son set about rounding up sweet things.  Within a mile of her house, I was hanging my head out the window of the van.  How on earth do 5 ducks make the likes of that smell in the span of time it takes to drive a mile?  I didn't think we'd make it home.  

When we arrived home, I drove right past the house and straight down to the pond.  My head was already hanging out the window, so I hollered for the kids that I had a surprise and to meet me down at the pond.  They were indeed surprised!  As they slid the van door opened, the overwhelming smell knocked a few of them off of their feet!

The foundations of a beautiful relationship were formed today on the banks of our little pond.  It happened so fast, and I was too busy snapping photos to remember to tell them about how these ducks are raised for meat. A real farmer would've already established this with the farmer children before bringing home edible farm additions.  Oops!

The kids played and named and showed the ducks the water.  They were surprised when the ducks wanted nothing to do with the water and spent more than an hour trying to convince the ducks that they would love the experience of swimming out onto our pond. I am not surprised that these ducks don't seem to like water.  That's just the way the farming goes around here.

Monday, July 29, 2013


3 years and 208 days ago, God gave us a vision that was a real game changer for Team Robinson.  So, we packed up the house and moved way out in the middle of nowhere to give our kids the great outdoors and live off the fat of the land.  Oh, to give our offspring the chance to breathe deeply the smell of fresh air and feel the sun's warm glow on their sweet faces.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to gaze upon the stars at night, unhindered by the smog and lights of the city?  Since we're going country, why don't we try our hand at farming?

We knew it would take time to adjust and that we might not be good at it at first, but we were determined to give it a go and see what happened.  We are hard-workers, not scared to put our hands to the plow or afraid to get a little dirty.  Well, three years and 208 days later, I  have determined that no matter how handsome my man looks while driving the tractor....


Two winters ago, when Dean brought the tractor around and plowed up the acre of land where my grandparents tended their garden, I had such high hopes.  Each night I nestled all snug in my bed while visions of cucumbers danced in my head.  I spent hours collecting homemade salsa recipes - in vain, it seems.  If my expectations were more realistic, I would've been more  prepared for the overwhelming disappointment I feel every time I dip my tortilla chip into commercially jarred picante sauce - mild, because we've got some newcomers 'round here that aren't quite up for the heat of hot yet.  Every time I pick up a bag of frozen peas at the Piggly Wiggly, I'm reminded of the fact that all of our crops died.  Actually, the only thing that we've managed to grow here is two stalks of corn, which by the way, grew by accident from the feed we were throwing out for the ducks.

Aren't we a sad, sad song?

It gets better...or worse....however you want to look at it.  Our failure in farming is not limited to just the crops.  We kill animals, too - and not like real farmers who do it on purpose.  We have learned a lot about what not to do with farm animals, that's for sure!  The first to go were the ducks.  We waited too long to put them out on the pond, and they kept waddling back up to the house.  I guess they got a hankering that fateful day for the sweet faucet water in the backyard and just didn't see Jethro coming.  Apparently, they also forgot they could fly.

The free-ranging chickens were the next species to experience casualties.  Two of them free-ranged a bit too far from home and couldn't outrun the dog next door.  Poor gals.  And then there was Brownie, poor Brownie the goldfish thief.  She just wouldn't stay out of our vehicles and eventually ran out of lives.  We had a funeral one Sunday afternoon for that hungry girl, which is crazy by the way.  The whole time I'm thinking, "What are we doing?  It's a chicken.  Aren't we going to eat the chickens anyway?"  Maybe we didn't explain this whole farming thing to the kids correctly?

If I may give you a word of advice here:  If there is a food shortage, and you get it in your mind to head toward our house for help, you'll get here and be hungry with the rest of us, folks.  You might want to revamp your backup plan.

Now that my sob sorry is all out there, I'm finished feeling sorry for Team Robinson.  It's time to look toward tomorrow.  God isn't finished with us yet.   All of this failure is for a purpose, and we trust Him.   Inspired anew and enamored with He who cast the vision, we're ready to try, try again.  We're no quitters!  We gave our little fieldhands a pep talk, cut down some pine trees that had grown up in the garden and got the tiller back out.  We're planting corn- on purpose this time - along with beans, squash, onions and pumpkins, for our fall garden.  I have a feeling it's going to take off and grow like never before.

After we get the seeds in the ground, the chickens are getting a new pen, and we're firing up the incubator for some new little chicks, maybe even some new ducks. No more free-ranging birds, but they'll have plenty of space to roam in their colossal pen.   Fencing is also going up for the herd of goats we're buying.  Yes, it's a herd.  Some people get a goat or two, but not us.  We go for the whole herd.  Go big or go home.  That's what they say, right?  (Please, Lord, bless our hands at goat keeping that the goats may live long, happy lives.)

It's going to be a busy week between all the working, farming and schooling that has to get done.  Dean says farming is a lifestyle and we'll get the hang of it.  Okie dokie, then.  I guess we'll see now, won't we?

We'd love it if you'd say some prayers for us this week.  We're going to need them.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013


We've spent a lot of time at home (or close to home) this summer "finding our new normal." So far we've not found it yet.  Ha!  It's being elusive! Some days are easier than others, but every day I'm humbled and thankful for the honor and privilege of loving the precious children God has given us.

I've struggled a bit with my attitude toward all of this rain!  There are 12 children under my roof, and when it rains all day, every day, I get a little stir crazy.  In between torrential rain and daily heavy lightening, we've walked every square inch of this property, enjoyed thousands of blackberries and tracked buckets of dirt into the house. The best thing about the weather is that the rain turned the main road to the backside of the property into a river.  We, of course, couldn't keep the kids out of it.  They have played for hours on end in Rio Robinson.  

As the river slowed, turned to puddles and then eventually dried up, Riley discovered a "family" of tadpoles flipping and flopping around in the mud. A rescue mission was quickly executed and the soon-to-be frogs are safely swimming around in the pond where the catfish might or might not snack on them.  Do catfish eat tadpoles?  

Around about the middle of June, the words "I'm bored" began to echo through the house, so I agreed to allow a little fun-boosting project.  As a result, in true superhero fashion, I saved countless teens from certain peril by halting the construction of an epic slip-n-slide designed by one Blake Robinson.  Before any of you way cool moms, dads and teens calls me a party pooper, please know that somebody would've certainly broken something if I hadn't stepped in....and that somebody would've probably been Dean.  

The way less epic slip-n-slide was still a lot of fun and has provided quite the entertainment around here.

Boredom threatened again around mid-July, but then I got this hare-brained idea (from my dear friend Stephanie) to take the kids out to eat some free food.  I almost bailed at the last minute, overwhelmed by the need for 13 head-to-toe cow costumes.  The tween girls sensed my weakness and wavering, though, and quickly sprung into action.  They jump on any opportunity to head to town!  A few hours later, we were all clad in black and white, with masks and tails in hand, and piled in the car for the 45 minute drive into town.  I'm so thankful we did, too.  We had a great time and dinner was delicious (and free to boot).  There was even a bonus:  Team Robinson won the best dressed herd contest at Chick-fil-a's Cow Appreciation Day!!  Thank you Chick-fil-a!!  

No summer is complete without a little heart-pounding adventure, right?  Nothing gets my heart pounding like creepy critters!  I've tried to keep an open mind about snakes, and I've even been nice to at least one.  I took a picture to demonstrate the fair treatment this little specimen received during a summertime science lesson with cousins.

Rattlesnakes, however, get another treatment altogether.  This little guy was spotted by my sweet Olivia who happened to look down while we were all trying to find the source of the odd buzzing we could hear.  
Can you spot the little critter?
I was certain I would find a hornet's nest hanging high above our heads.  (Heads up, folks - I'm probably not the best person to approach with your outdoorsy, hey-what's-that, questions.)  I'm so thankful Olivia spotted the snake before he struck her.  I know all might not agree with the swift justice applied, but I have a solid "no rattlesnake" rule in the backyard and violators will be dealt with swiftly.  Thank you, Blake!  

After the deed was done, several of the kids insisted on holding the snake (not me) and having their picture made with the snake (not me).  Comedian Brooklyn innocently smiled  for her picture.

Then promptly scared the bejabbers out of everyone by hollering and wiggling the gross thing at me.  Of course, I screamed and about wet my pants.  She's unrepentant.

We've got a little more fun to pack in before Fall pokes its head into this corner of the world.  Hopefully, we'll make it all the way to first frost without any more snake adventures!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Squeezed into the incredible excitement surrounding the adoption of Wyatt and Jubilee is one more little miracle I haven't gotten around to sharing yet.  Everything God does is big, though, and He deserves the glory for this special event, as well.

This story begins way back in 2008.  I graduated from UGA that Spring with a Master of Social Work.  At the time, we were smack in the middle of Riley's adoption and licensure was back-burnered until a more peaceful season could ebb its way onto Team Robinson's scene.  Y'all know that Riley is anything but peaceful and that season of our lives just hasn't ever ebbed in, so in March 2012, I filled out the licensure application, sent it on in and waited to hear something from the board.  

In April they sent me a little notice in the mail that my application was pending the results of my LMSW exam.  The words of my colleagues and professors quickly came to mind, "Take it right away, so it's fresh in your head."  Well, I didn't.  And in April 2012, it wasn't fresh in my head, so I did what I always do in situations where something isn't fresh in my head.  I put it off...all the way until April 2013.  I thought about that exam many times across and between those two Aprils.  I even signed up and paid for the exam, but between kids and work and adoption, I just didn't get around to studying for it.

I think in my mind I had already decided to just forget the whole licensure thing and reapply when things got a little quieter.  On Monday, two days before we left for China, the idea of forgetting it just didn't seem to sit well with me anymore.  I called the testing center to see if there was an opening, and there was - the next morning at 8:00, the day before we were scheduled to leave for China.  I booked the test and grabbed the study guide and vowed to study all night long and never procrastinate again.  (The pages of "The Procrastination Workbook" are floating around in my mind right now.  It is, after all, mid-June and I've finally gotten around to writing this!)

Tuesday morning arrived and I drove down to Macon, hoping and praying to pass the exam.  I prayed God would open the deep recesses of my brain and pour out the contents, and He did.  My tears of gratitude must not have looked happy because the moderator consoled me as I left and said I could always try again. I tried to explain to her how this was not possible, that God had performed a miracle, but I think I might have just scared her and made her think I was crazy.  The adrenaline from that moment was amazing!

Glory to God, I passed the exam!  Notification of my licensure arrived as we were halfway to China. I remember feeling like I wouldn't know what to do with one more piece of good news.  God's blessings are bountiful indeed!  

As far as the license goes, I have no idea what I will do with it.  I might just be a licensed wife and mother with 9 children who loves the Lord and caring for orphans though a ministry called Lifeline.  I think I'll back-burner any more excitement until a more peaceful season ebbs it's way onto Team Robinson's scene! 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Rolling through the milestones

When Jubilee was placed into our arms one month ago today, we really didn't know what to expect in regards to her development.  Some children are very delayed, while others are right on target.  

Baby girl was 14 months and a few days old, but she seemed to act more like an 8 months old.  We took her back to the hotel and tried to put her down to see what she could do.  She wouldn't have anything to do with that!

Our little princess was traumatized, and it was three days before we could even try to put her down on the floor again. On day three Jubilee showed us that she could indeed sit up, and on day five she crawled - painfully slow, but crawl she did!

In the three weeks we've been home, she's been flying through the milestones.  First it was crawling and then a few days later she was pulling up onto her knees.  Next, she was pulling herself to standing on anything and everything stationary.  Just like most babies when they first pull to standing, she couldn't figure out how to get down and fell a few times before learning to sit softly.  Now that's old hat to her, too!  She's gone from only drinking bottles of milk and eating rice cereal to chowing down on whatever the rest of Team Robinson is eating.  Today, my little princess pulled herself up on a booster seat sitting on the floor and it scooted slowly forward.  Her tiny feet followed and within minutes it was a new mode of transportation.  Now she's cruising around the furniture in the family room.

SLOW DOWN, ALREADY! It's going by too fast!!

Thank you, Lord, for this precious little girl!

Confessions of a cocooning mother

Team Robinson has cabin fever, and let me tell you why!  After an adoption it is recommended that a family cocoon at home for a good long while to help the new family jell.  It's always a plus for the new kiddos to be able to pick their parents out of a lineup before heading out into the great big world.  It's also a good idea to limit the number of visitors and avoid passing the younguns from one to another until their little heads have had time to make sense of this whole new world.

Bonding and attachment in adoption looks different for every child and family.  There's no one right way to do things and no one method that works the same for every family.  That being said, it is my experience (and it's backed up by lots of research and 7 adoptions) that staying home, keeping visitors to a minimum and taking time to focus on activities that facilitate bonding and attachment are effective ways to speed along a child's adjustment to the new family.

All that said, WE'RE GOING NUTS HERE!  (And we've even been cocooning cheaters)!    I'll get to the cheating later, but I must clarify that the babies are doing fabulously.  The kids are all getting along as well as kids get along.  We have a great routine and Team Robinson seems as happy as crickets in summertime.  We are just going nuts because it's summertime and my peeps wanna go places!

Y'all know the ministry that God worked through to bring our kiddos home is wonderful, right?  I'm not just saying that because I work with the Georgia team either.  Not only was our adoption experience wonderful with Lifeline, but they have in place a post-adoption team that prays for and with families and is there for us through this time.  They've spent countless hours researching, preparing training materials and providing families with tools and encouragement after an adoption.  The team is committed to stretching and growing to meet the needs of families that have answered the call to care for children through adoption.  We have been so appreciative of the love, wisdom and encouragement they've extended toward us as we prepared to travel and since we've returned home.  What we've learned about attachment and bonding over the past 10 years, through all of our adoptions and since I've joined the Lifeline team, have positively impacted Wyatt and Jubilee's transition into our family.  It was like a dream, really, and we are so thankful!

As much as we miss our church family, play days  with friends, adventures at the park, and the food that comes from shopping excursions, more than anything in the world we want our kiddos to know the love and security of a mother and a father and the joy that comes from finding their place in the family.  We want the hand of God to extend through us to our young ones, reaching them with healing and restoration, transforming them into sons and daughters.  This takes time, and we know the time spent will yield a fruitful reward in the months and years to come.

I hate to let my Lifeline team down, but it's time for the confessions.  I gotta be real, folks.  I don't want you out there thinking we have some special ticket to cocooning sanity.  Here goes.  I cheat.  There it is.  You now know.  I'm a cocooning cheater, and here's my story.

Confessions of a cocooning mother:

We've been to Don Chuchos TWICE.

It was the tacos, okay.  They were calling us.  Truthfully, Team Robinson can hardly go a week without eating Mexican food.  Thanks to Tekila's, we even got to have our weekly Mexican night while in China.  I tried to resist but it was just no use.  We gave in to the pressure and packed up the van and drove the 45 miles it took to get there on two occasions.  And we ate our tacos.  And we're not even sorry!

We had company THRICE.

I hadn't seen my mommy and daddy in weeks, okay!!  They had one of our children, y'all; they had to bring her back.  (They were also in on our first taco run to Don Chuchos, so it's partly their fault we cheated anyway).

My organizer extraordinaire came over to finish up a few things she was doing at our house while we were gone. She must've had some coaching, though, because she followed all the rules for visitors as if they were posted.  She didn't even try to hold a baby, and that had to be pretty hard because our babies are the cutest, cuddliest in the world!

It's tough to cocoon on Memorial Day....and we didn't!!  We were having cousin withdrawals so some cousins drove down to see us.  They brought with them a super fun slip and slide and the kids all had a great time playing in the yard.

We took a trip.

Last weekend we roadtripped to SC for a wedding, and I'm so glad we didn't miss it.  Dean's sister Christine and her husband George were joined together in holy matrimony in a service that glorified the Lord beautifully.  We are so happy for the precious couple!  We were further blessed by Team Rylands, who scooted over their stuff and their children and made room for Team Robinson.  They fed us, loved us, took us swimming and encouraged us on our journey SO much. The whole weekend was worth the guilt that I'm sure we'll feel coming on real soon.

That's it.  The whole story.  It's all out there.  So what are two cocooning cheaters to do now?  Well, it's like a healthy lifestyle.  You cheat and then you return to what you know is good for your family and your children, and you try, try again.  It's been three days since our last taco run.  I'm starting to feel the pull of the highway, the need for some fellowship, the faces of loved ones.  If y'all see me with my head hanging out the window and my hair blowing in the wind, just pray for us 'cause cabin fever is no joke!

 If you've been there, done that - help Team Robinson out with some ideas to get through this time.