Welcome to our blog - Eleven B's in a Hive! Every day there is a whole lot of buzzing going on in the home (hive) of the Burgess family.
With 11 people (our 9 children, my husband and myself) it would bee hard not to!

In between cooking (a whole lot of cooking!), cleaning (a whole lot of cleaning!), we also home school and make soap!
Yup - soap! All natural, awesome for your body, goat's milk soap! We own the goats... and chickens... and some cats... and some rabbits...
and one peacock to top it all off!

This blog is about our family. About making soap. About triumphs and trials. About adoption. It's about life.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sibling Group Adoption: Toys/Activities in Country (and at home)

Planning and packing for China and then Colombia was FUN for me.  I thoroughly enjoy traveling!  One of the things that I was most concerned about was how to keep our children occupied since we would have so much down time.  Our adopted kids were 8 and younger, so this is geared towards their age range.

On the days that weren't filled with meetings we tried to stick to a loose schedule centered around mealtimes. In the mornings, before breakfast, we would simply be making beds, straightening up, getting dressed - that kind of thing.  After breakfast we would brush our teeth, and because it was still chilly where we were we would plan something to do inside.  After lunch we tried to get outside to play if it was nice.  We ALL had naps or quiet time.  After naps we would go outside again, watch a movie or do something inside.  After dinner we watched a movie, did something quiet inside or bathed the kids.  

Basically, I tried to categorize our time.  We had movie time, outdoor time, nap time, play dough time, book time, meal time, craft time, and so on.  It helped me and our kids to have a rudimentary schedule.  Don't feel bad about having movie time every single day with multiple movies!  I think it helps the kids to have that down time and I KNOW that we needed it - maybe more then them.

Here is a list of some of the things we brought that I am glad we did!

Play dough.  Personally, it drives me batty cleaning up dried play dough on the floor and table, but it certainly occupies a lot of time, and the children really enjoy it! When the play dough decreased enough to combine it into fewer containers the kids did all sorts of things with the empty ones - stacked them, filled them, played in the dirt with them.  

Crayons/coloring books.  For the older kids we did bring some washable markers.

Crafts.  We ordered from Oriental Trading Co.  The kids really liked doing all the crafts.  I didn't do one each day, but every few days when I was at my wits end and needed things to calm down some.  Good ones to do include ones where you can put their names on them or make a handprint. We hung them everywhere - in the kitchen, in the living room, by their beds.  They had beaded necklaces with a cross or an airplane that they enjoyed wearing.  Don't forget to bring the right glue, tape and scissors (kid scissors!) 

Paper.  Plain old blank paper.  We colored on it.  Folded it.  Cut it.  

Blow up toy/ball.  Easy to pack.  Easy to throw away.  

Movies - Bring a nice variety - Leap Frog videos are fun and educational.

A few small matchbox cars

A few very easy children's books - I translated these into Spanish and wrote how to pronounce the words right on each page.  The kids LOVED me struggling to read these to them in their language.  I think I did a pretty good job of it!  I would have enjoyed doing this for our Chinese adoption also, but I hadn't thought of it then.

We gave each of the children a backpack when we met them.  They had a box of animal crackers, a small toy like a car, and a stuffed animal to call their own.  They only came to us with the clothes on their backs and later we were given a small photo album of each of them.  

Back at the place where we were staying they had all the clothing we had brought for them.  They were beyond excited about them.  I felt really bad when the footy pajamas we brought did not fit our oldest, but they did all the others - or the tennis shoes!  We told him we had footy pj's back home for him, but he was still moody and upset about it any time the other boys wore theirs (we did have non-footy pj's also) - so a word of advice from me is save the footy pj's for home!  As for the shoes, he just had to wear the ones he came to us in until we got home.  They were pretty nice ones thankfully.

Our Colombians did NOT know how to share.  The five of them had been in 3 separate foster homes.  They only saw one another occasionally.  It was easiest all around if we kept "community toys" instead of individually owned toys.  Back home, they had another stuffed animal on their beds waiting for them, their beds with all the wonderful bedding and another small toy for each of them to call their own.  (Now, of course they have more things to call their own, but it is still very limited, and our focus is still on group play). They had other toys, but they were everyone's toys.  The toy kitchen, the puzzles, the cars, the legos...  all designed for imaginative play and group play.  

I hope some of this helps if you are in the process of adopting!


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Cough. Cough. Sniff. Cough.

I am confined to the couch.  The past three days I have had a horrible sore throat that morphed into a really bad cough (and more) last night.  I can tell I'm on the mend though, because I'm starting to get restless... and my thoughts are drifting to all that needs to get done.

So today, in between long naps, I will research some recipes that I will post on the side bar for future use.   Maybe one or two will draw your interest and your family will enjoy them too!

Stay warm and well!


P.S.  While I am snoozing on the couch, the 3 older kids TLC (Tyler, Laurel and Carissa) are taking care of the animals and chopping wood, Kevin is meeting with a client, and the 6 Littles are playing with the new used toys (K'Nex and Boggle Jr.) that we were just blessed with yesterday!  Perfect timing!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


I am REALLY looking forward to all that 2015 holds for our family.  We have traveled a very rough road the past couple of years, but it is smoothing out to quite a beautiful drive for the new year!

The biggest change we have had, and the most needed one, is a more relaxed home.  We (kids to kids, kids to mom and dad, and mom and dad to kids) are attaching.  We are getting used to one another.  Our days are mostly relaxed with no major difficulties now, only minor corrections about every day sibling issues.  We are morphing into ONE whole family, instead of two or three separate ones living under one roof.
It is wonderful.

We have a bus - I lovingly call it The Great White Hive.  (It's white, and it holds all my B's - ha ha ha - that makes me the Queen B!).  It's not just a bus though.  It's a means for us to travel in one vehicle as a family of 11.  It's a means for me to take all 9 children out on my own, something I wasn't prepared for the first year and a half.  God, in all His goodness, kept us close to home till now so we could blend together - so our new children could learn how to be good siblings to one another.  So they could learn right from wrong and how to be friends.  I am extremely thankful.  I still can't believe we own it.

Homeschooling - we are making progress :) With two international adoptions in the past 4 years Carissa, Tyler and Laurel (16, 15, 13) got a touch behind in their "book" work, but now they are almost caught up and on track. We will have our first graduate out of the nine (Carissa) in 2016! On the flip side, they are light years ahead in their life skills (which is the priority in our home).  They can cook, clean, care for animals, care for 6 children who are 9 and younger, change diapers and more!  We are very proud of them.  The past few years have been major adjustments for them, and they are coming out of it as amazing young "adults".

David, Jaime and Lyric (9, 7, 7) are the oldest of our 6 "Littles". They are quickly learning to read and are spelling everything.  They have zoomed through their Primer level math and will be starting their 1st grade math in just a couple of weeks.  B.G., and Diego (6 and 5) will start their schooling in the fall, and we plan for Brayan (almost 4) to sit in on some of their schooling in the hopes that he will absorb much of it!

Business - Kevin's real estate business, Values Driven Realty, Inc., continues to grow.  I am excited to see all that it will become this year.  In 2014 he was able to help many clients either buy or sell their homes, and he has a great start to 2015!  (short plug - if you are looking to buy or sell your home any time soon - contact my husband!) :)

Global Soaps- wow!  Lots and lots of plans for 2015!  We are starting the year right by meeting with someone from SCORE (a national not for profit which offers free mentoring and small business help) next week.  With their help, we plan to build an online store this year as well as develop a wholesale side of the business (we are in 1 store right now!).  We have 11 goats now and plan to expand as the business grows and as we establish rotational grazing for them.  I am so excited!

So... what does 2015 look like to me?  It looks like a VERY busy, fun-filled year -
and I am looking forward to every single day.

May God bless you and your family in 2015,


Monday, September 8, 2014

Sibling Group Adoption: Jealousy

I never imagined that I would be the jealous one.  Honest.  As parents, we expect that our children occasionally will get jealous of one another.  One may color better than another.  One may run faster than another.  As adoptive parents, we expected the children already in our home, both our biological children and our adopted daughter, would be occasionally jealous of the new children - after all, in their young eyes they think of us as "their" parents and that it is "their" home.  I did not, however, ever imagine as a mom and as a wife that I would be the one who could be jealous.

It's true.  While in Colombia I remember wanting Kevin's (my husband) time so badly!  I would walk into the room, see one or more of the new children on his lap or around him and that ugly sin of jealousy just reeled inside of me!  I didn't like it.  I didn't want it, but it was there nevertheless.

I am happy to say that as time has gone by, I have adjusted.  Ever so slowly as I personally get used to having 9 children and as I grow more attached to the newest five, the ugly jealousy feelings have faded away.  Now, I happily send the children to their dad (mostly when I am preparing meals in the kitchen and have a lot of Littles underfoot)   :)

If you are in the process of adopting, know that this may unexpectedly happen to you as well.  If it is already happening, know that it will get better.  The jealousy will go away - And... it is perfectly normal.

In His name,


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sibling Group Adoption - What We (I) Didn't Expect

I have been wanting to write for some time now about a few of the things we experienced through our adoption of five children at one time.  It has been one year since we traveled to Colombia to adopt our 5 children, and one of the main reasons it has taken me so long to write this is that I don't want it to look like I am complaining.  My goal is to give a little bit more information to adoptive parents about what they may also experience.  Information about what the parent may feel that I didn't read about in any of the books or watch on any of the videos.  This is about the mom.  This is about the dad.  This is about the children that were already in the family when the new children were brought in.

There is a ton of information out there about the adoptive children, but this isn't about them.  It's about the feelings, frustrations, and the confusion that the rest of the family may well experience.  It's about knowing that "this too shall pass".  That it will get better.

I will title each post related to this as: Sibling Group Adoption: _________ and will fill in the blank with whatever topic I am writing about.  I pray that God's hand is in my writing - that what I write will help other moms and dads and their children to be just a little more prepared and to know... that it will get better.

In Christ,


Thursday, January 9, 2014


Well... that stinks!  I managed to get this far with setting up a new blog and now that I can actually write something - I don't know what to say!  Ha ha ha!  I'm sure I will come up with something soon.  I actually think my problem is that there is SO much to say, I just don't know what to start with first!  I'll figure it out soon and get back to you.  But for now - Welcome!

In Christ,