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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's Raining and Pouring

 The expression 'when it rains, it pours' doesn't even begin to do my current days justice right now. I have been so grateful for your encouraging comments. At least one of you said you were glad to hear the bad things and not just the good. We'll have weeks where I get to post happy stories like Denny walking, Grace coming to live with us, Peter kissing his daddy's image
But, other weeks it just seems like the difficult times just keep on a rolling. 

I'm on my way down to Lusaka and will most likely not be online much over the next few days. The reason for this will be made clear later.

Know though, that God is ever present and is a comfort in time of need.

I'll leave you with a post about Nicholas' death that was written by the precious nursing student who is currently volunteering with us: Hope Rising


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sundays in My City

A hole that seems too small.....



To hold a coffin that is way too tiny....


To be laid to rest.....


In a graveyard that is much too crowded.....
Our little baby is buried.....


Nicholas, you were loved and will be missed.

Unknown Mami

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I apologize that I haven't written for a couple days. It's been crazy 'round these parts. I've been wrapping up a construction project that we received a grant to be able to do. It's wonderful to make improvements to the orphanage. 

On top of that, I've been doing my regular work--trying to keep up with all the paperwork that a charity generates.

But, most seriously of all, I've been caring for our babies. Nicholas (6 months old) has been sick for nearly a week. It started with some tummy issues. I kept an eye on him and waited to see what would develop--to see if it was a 24 hour bug. The following day he had symptoms that were classic malaria so we treated him with the malaria medicine most recommended for tiny babies and pregnant mothers. I also switched him off milk for a day to give his stomach a rest and only gave him oral re-hydration (ORS) fluid. He didn't really improve. The next day we added some watery, salty baby cereal and while his diarrhea seemed to be curbed, his vomiting continued. 
His eyes have been sunken and he is quite listless. Thankfully, his skin has retained its elasticity so he wasn't badly dehydrated. The fluids were doing their job. 

When the vomiting didn't stop, I took him down to the clinic to see about putting in an IV so he could get fluids intravenously and give his stomach a break. I also wanted to get an injection for him to stop the vomiting.
I could write an entire post about the clinic experience, but let's leave it at the fact that they could not get an IV started, there was no 'doctor' on duty, and the clinic had no IV drugs to stop the vomiting. Eventually the nurse said she had medicine at home. She walked home, came back with the vial and gave Nicholas his shot.
We also decided to do another round of a different malaria medicine.

The medicine seemed to work. In the morning, Nicholas looked a bit better. We reintroduced milk slowly and kept giving him extra fluids. By the afternoon though, Nicholas had faded again. He was vomiting again, but funnily enough it was only when he had ORS fluids, not milk. I gave him some syrup to stop the vomiting and by the morning he was a bit better.

The thing with malaria is that you can feel so much better in the morning but the symptoms come crashing back at night. Friday afternoon Nicholas was 16 hours away from being done with malaria treatment but looked worse than ever. He was limp and listless.

All this time I had been looking after Grace and supervising Nicholas' treatments along with taking him to the clinic. I needed to be able to sleep (somewhat) at night and feeding a baby 2-3 times at night is easier than sitting up with a sick baby all night. We employ a night nanny so I was relying on her to look after Nicholas per my instructions and I would check on him many times during the day and night.
But now, with Nicholas looking so terrible I switched out babies. Since the clinic could not get an IV started, I decided to insert the IV fluids in via the rectum. I wanted to give Nicholas a break from having to work so hard on sucking his bottle. The fluids were in overnight but didn't really make much of a difference.

As of now, we are still unsure what is wrong. He should be over the malaria. He is eating well (although we're still giving him frequent, small amounts) but tires so easily. He also seems to be in pain. His breathing is elevated when awake as if something hurts terribly. He has received a powerful antibiotic injection and we're waiting to see if it makes a difference. His vomiting and diarrhea have stopped for which we are very grateful but we don't know what the underlying illness or infection is. 

Please pray for Nicholas' full recovery and that the antibiotics will work fast and furiously. I am incredibly grateful that Nicholas is not one of our HIV babies. At least he is fighting with everything in him. Thank you for praying!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm Not Tired....Really, I'm Not....

Grace has done so well in adjusting to life with us here at Kazembe Orphanage. Because she is younger than 3 months, I've been fairly flexible with her schedule while nudging her toward a 3 hour feeding plan. That is one of the big reasons I keep the littlest babies with me. I can use a bit of discretion to see if a baby needs to sleep a bit longer or eat earlier. Always moving to the goal of being on a schedule. 

Since we have 7 babies one year and below, we don't have the luxury of being too loosey-goosey with the feeding schedules. Unless they're sick, we need to feed them on a schedule so that no matter who is on duty, the way is clear.

I've been pleasantly surprised to see Grace settling in well to a schedule. She occasionally eats sooner than the 3 hour mark and every once in a while will wait 4 hours before being hungry (note: I never let her go longer than that during the day), but what never changes is that I noticed that exactly 1.5 hours after eating, Grace is ready to sleep. The normal plan is that she eats, burps, eats, does her business, gets a diaper change, cuddles, plays alone and then lets us know she's ready to sleep. I'll be working as she plays on a blanket nearby and when she begins fussing I can predict the time and I'll be correct within a few minutes.

The funny thing is, she is completely ready for the nap but doesn't like to give in to it. As soon as I cuddle her, she begins to thrash and cry. Not just whimpers, but full blown sobs and wails. At first I got upset and tried to make her happy. Nothing would work. Now I sit quietly and rock her just the tiniest bit and gently pat her diapered bottom from time to time. And it works.

Watch:

2:32 PM

2:34 PM

2:36 PM


2:40 PM

In less than ten minutes we have a perfectly peaceful baby girl. Such a good baby!

This post has brought to you by the makers of Adventures and the word Real


round button chicken



Exactly One Year Ago: Good Samaritan

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Things Weighing On My Mind

I had a couple incidents happen over teh last few days and they're getting to me. I'll just lay them out on the blogging table and you can feel free to jump in and give an opinion if you have one, or just say hey.

********
Sunday, I walked down to the village center with my kids because my oldest son here, Timmy, was going to Lusaka to meet a new volunteer at the airport. As we were leaving I took a sleeping Grace down to the nursery and left strict instructions that she was supposed to sleep and then be fed at noon. It was then 11:15.

The bus arrived much sooner than we expected so we got Timmy on his way and walked home. It was 12:15 when we got home. At 12:35 I went down to the nursery to check on the kids and saw Grace still asleep in her bed. I was surprised because she is good about eating, playing for an hour or so and then sleeping. So, for her to be asleep wasn't in the pattern. I asked one of the nannies, L., if she had been fed, and she gasped and said, "Oh, no. We forgot!" But she was only one of the nannies on duty and had been up in the dining room with some of the older babies, so we waited to ask the other nanny who was about to leave at the end of her shift and was changing.

C. entered the nursery and I asked if Grace had been fed. "Yes, I fed her at 12". I then asked if she had played at all after eating. "Yes, she played for 30 minutes and then I put her in her bed". Since it was just then 12:35, the timing didn't add up at all. 
I asked C. again and again if perhaps she was mistaken. No, she insisted that she had fed the baby on time. There was no way to ask Grace and so I let it go. 

Fifteen minutes later Grace woke up positively ravenous. She drank more than her usual amount, settling the issue once and for all. She had NOT been fed on time.

I was livid! Not that someone could lose track of time. It happens to all of us. But, that she would not pay attention to the fact that she had forgotten and just own up to it.

The other thing that concerned me is that perhaps she really couldn't remember. We deal with sick babies many times, and I need to know that those looking after them are paying attention to details.

This particular nanny has concerned me for a while. Her hands shake all the time and she is very thin. We had another nanny who worked here who had shaky hands as well. I thought she was nervous at first, but later she began having problems remembering things and we found out that she had cerebral meningits.--Most likely caused by HIV or AIDS. She had not wanted to face the stigma and so refused to go to a doctor. She was one of my favorite nannies. She died a few months ago.
When I see the same symptoms pooping up in C. it concerns me so much. Especially when as of last week, this lady had never had testing done to know her HIV status. She claims she's had it done now, but of course I can't ask her about it and she won't tell me the results.

I didn't really know what to do, but I have cut her hours back. She was already a part-time nanny so I'll just give her less work. I want to see if I can trust her and I want her to be healthy. It's tough.

*******
New topic:
One of our little girls, Queenie, has a very devoted father. He could not look after her because she was so small and he had to look for work. So, he brought her to us at the end of 2007. Every Saturday afternoon, during family visitation, he was here with one of his older daughters. 
Finally, he was offered a job but it required him to move to Lusaka (the capital) so he can no longer see Queenie on Family Day. He has been very diligent to call once a week to check on her. At first he would just ask if she was OK. Now that she is old enough, he speaks with her. We always have it on speaker phone so the nanny can listen in and help coach Queenie in how to speak on the phone.--At the beginning she would just nod every time he spoke. 

Last week one of the ladies told me that Queenie had asked her dad where her mom was and after being told she was dead, had asked if she was buried. I was surprised by this because she was not even two years old when she came here.

Her dad called again yesterday afternoon so during shower time I asked Queenie about the phone call. She told me something about her mom. I asked if she meant that her mom was buried and she said, "no, my mom is coming". I turned to her nanny with a big question mark on my face and she told me that Queenie's father is remarried and so he had introduced Queenie's 'new mom' to her over the phone and said they will be coming in July.

I was a bit upset by this news. Not that he is remarried. Good for him! But, I'm afraid that Queenie is going to be confused. The whole idea of the kids living with us is that they have no moms and so we are taking care of them. I'm not sure they are even old enough to grasp that concept yet. What is going to happen if dads have new moms but they still have to stay here. Queenie is not yet five years old. In a year or two I can see her understanding the whole thing more. I just want to avoid pain for all the kids.
I also don't know what he meant by 'coming in July'. If just for a visit, great. He signed away guardianship so I hope he remembers that. 

It's all so difficult. I'm not a psychologist. I'm just a mom who loves all her kids. 

********

This stuff is so hard. I just have to put one foot in front of the other and pray that we are doing the best job for all who cross our path. Pray with me, would you?

Monday, May 23, 2011

I'm Not the Only One Missing Someone

The other day, Peter came into our room for some mommy-time. I keep one of my favorite pictures of Tom next to my desk. Peter took it down and chattered about "Daddy and Monkey" for a while

Then I handed him Tom's little key chain Lego guy and he was very happy with that. He kept pointing to the hat and saying, "Daddy, Daddy" over and over again. 
 

Two years ago, when Tom was in the States, he visited a Lego store and found this little guy for his key chain. It's Indiana Jones and aside from the geeky shoulder bag, it is quite close to what Tom looks like.


The following year, I decided I needed my own mini-me. I don't have such a distinctive style but I settled on this female character from Prince of Persia.--Not because she was wearing a cape (obviously!)...but because her lovely brunette hair was braided so beautifully. 


So, the other afternoon, Peter was playing happily with his little Daddy Lego guy, when all of a sudden, he leaned down and kissed the little Lego man. I guess he misses Tom nearly as much as I do. Eleven days to go!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sundays in My City

I've been teaching Tom's Bible Class while he's been away. Normally he teaches on Saturday and Sunday afternoons but I chose to just do the one Sunday afternoon so I can have a more restful Saturday. Working from home can be challenging in that, if you're not careful, you'll work 24/7. We have to force ourselves to get the rest we need. Tom is better at it than I am. 

Anyway, to do something a little different, I made little cards with the names of the books of the Bible. I separated them according to New and Old Testaments and have been letting the students compete in trying to put the cards in order.



The team with the fastest time in organizing both Testaments gets a chocolate bar each, at the next class. This serves a few purposes. Only those who arrive at class within the 30 minute grace period get to take part in the game. Then, I only hand out the chocolate reward the following week.--If they don't show up, they forfeit their prize. This encourages attendance. Then, finally, they are all getting much better at knowing the books of the Bible. It's a win-win-win!



These past few months we've been teaching on the financial principles from the Bible. It causes us to challenge a lot of the cultural norms. It's been a very good class and I hope and pray it is making a real difference in our students' lives.

Unknown Mami
 
Thank you for stopping by this lovely Sunday. Click the button above to 'travel' the world.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I Cook for Handkerchiefs

Last weekend, Mary at Owlhaven, in doing a giveaway, asked what people first remembered cooking. 

I don't remember what the first thing I ever cooked was. I remember being really young and cooking with my grandma who had, of all things, wall to wall carpeting--including the kitchen. One time I was visiitng her and we were cooking something--probably a cake--when I dropped a raw egg on to the floor. Boy, was she angry!! 

But, the memory I wanted to share with you took place in India. We had just moved to a new city and while we looked for housing, all of us stayed in this hostel. It was one large room that all eight of us stayed in, and there was a large bathroom/dressing room. We used the dressing room to cook in. We didn't' have a whole lot to do and so, probably for this reason, my mom had me start doing a lot of the cooking. I was eleven years old. She asked me to make the menus and plan the meals. 

I've written before how I loved playing house as a child but most of my play centered around keeping the house organized. I made lists and menus and plans on paper. By the time I had gotten my family in order, I would lose interest in it and move on to another imaginary family.

When I began making menus for my family I told my mom that it was much more interesting make pretend menus. In pretend menus you can cook anything you like. In real-life menus you have to be concerned with budgets and seasons and all those mundane details. It was a really good learning experience for me.

What I remember cooking the most at this time was a soy product (TVP) that had to be rehydrated when it was cooked. They were little dry chunks that look like dried out chicken nuggets. You cook them with hot liquid--often some sort of broth to give them flavor--and they get kinda spongy. They are inexpensive and nutritious. We use this a lot here in Zambia as a staple in our menu.  You can learn more about TVP here.

Anyway, back to my memories. I don't know if soy products were new to the Indian market or if this particular company was doing a promotion, but every little box of TVP came with a handkerchief. All six of us kids would take turns getting to keep the little handkerchief. We must have eaten a ton of this soy stuff because I remember that each of us had several handkerchiefs. 

Maintaining our collections was a big deal. We could let them get all wrinkly so we learned the best way to keep our handkerchiefs looking pristine was too get them wet and then plaster them to the mirror. As they dried, they would fall off, stiff as a board but so smooth and wrinkle free. Incidentally, we did this with stamps we collected too.

I don't know what else I cooked at that time, that memory has faded, but learning to cook so young set me on a path of enjoyment in the kitchen. I'm grateful my parents trusted me to play an important role in helping out my family.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Fragmented Friday

Mommy's Idea
Hosted by Mrs. 4444

I wrote yesterday about my tiny successes with exercise. It's all about the small steps. 

But now I find out that something I'm doing might be causing me to stay fat. The other night I was chatting online with my mom and another friend (two different conversations) while having a voice call via Skype with my kids and watching TV at the same time. I was in my element! I was loving every moment of it until my mom mentioned that she had just read an article on yahoo that said that multitasking could lead to weight gain. I. Can. Not. Be. Lieve. This! Now what will I ever do with my ADD self??

********
This reminds me of little ditty that is circulating the internet....

I finally figured out why I am fat! I should have figured it out sooner. It's the shampoo I use in the shower.
When I wash my hair the shampoo runs down my body. Printed very clearly on the shampoo label it reads, "FOR EXTRA VOLUME AND BODY."
I threw out the shampoo and I am going to start using Dawn dish soap. On its label reads, "DISSOLVES FAT THAT IS OTHERWISE DIFFICULT TO REMOVE."


I'm not sure of the veracity of this claim. I personally shower with shampoo that promises sleek and smooth results--I am most definitely neither of those things.

*********
Speaking of showers.....I know that all good housekeepers maintain that a shower curtain must be left drawn across the shower stall opening to ensure proper drying and discourage mold. I have a major problem with this. If I walk into a bathroom and I cannot immediately see into the shower, I freak out. This is not due to watching horror movies as a child. I've never even seen Psycho although obviously I'm savvy enough about pop culture to know it contains a shower scene.
No, my fear is much more down to earth, or more to the point things that crawl on and in the earth--bugs, spiders, snakes and frogs, for heaven's sake. 

********
Our shower is large and made out of stone. Tom has decorated it by putting artificial leaves all over the walls. It's like showering in a little jungle. One day, Tom and I were showering together (what?? it saves water!), and he all of a sudden told me to stay still and not move or turn around as he peered anxiously behind me. Of course I freaked out and turned around to see little tiny hands peeping out from behind a leaf. I lost it completely and once I stopped screaming I found out it was a little, pale green frog. Yep. Shower curtain stays open at all times. Good thing there's a drain outside the shower as well for all that spilled water.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sparking Away

I had done so well at the end of last year and even into the beginning of this, but once we went on our trip to the U.S, I lost steam in my workout engine. I had tons of excuses, work to catch up on, a husband leaving, rain, etc etc. but none of them were really valid. I just lost my momentum and consequently my mojo.

I did some yoga here and there but it wasn't until the beginning of this month that I really got back on track. For me the biggest help is SparkPeople.com. I've written about this website before and it really is an inspiration to me. 

They recently redid their front page design and I love it. It is so nice to look at the Start Page and see my progress:


I find that if I get on the website first thing in the morning--right after my workout, I'm more likely to stay on track all day.
It's not easy tracking my food here because we make things by hand and the ingredients don't have nutrition labels on them, but I do the best I can. Just by thinking about it I find I eat less--I pay more attention to portion control.
Watching my workout progress is very exciting too. Look at how many miles I've walked total (well, at least those I've logged)--nearly 138! My 2011 total is a bit low right now--just only around 15, but I will be remedying that.

Now that I've been walking 5K regularly (with a little break) I felt I was ready for the next step. I joined a five week 5K walk/run training group on SparkPeople. Each week I'll get an email telling me what to do for my 3 training sessions per week. 



To make it even more interesting, I've signed up for a virtual 5K. No, this does not mean I'll sit on my couch and pretend to run a race. What it means is that I have committed to walk/run a 5K race sometime in the second week of July. Everyone who has signed up for this same week is listed and I'll essentially be pitting my best time against them.


See all those people who have signed up so far? At the top I can filter out those who are not doing a 5K walk/run or any who are out of my age group. Or only list women. It's kinda fun. So far there is only one other participant doing a 5K walk/run but she's in a younger age group so even if she beats me I won't have to feel badly about it. LOL
As an aside, can I say that I'm not happy with my current age group. I'm happy with how old I am but I don't want to be lumped in with people who are nearly 10 years older than me. It makes me feel old.


One of the best things about SparkPeople is that you get points just for showing up. This morning I spun the little points wheel and got 10 points just for logging in. Plus I got 8 points for my yoga workout, 9 points for entering the food I ate at breakfast, and 3 points for reading a blog entry on SparkPeople. That's 30 points! And yes, the points are like the points on Drew Carey's Whose Line is It Anyway--totally meaningless. But they make me so happy!

If you're excited about this free website, you can sign up today. If you do, please use my name: Laiah73. I get 25 of those awesome points if you do.

What do you do to motivate yourself to a healthier lifestyle?

Exactly One Year Ago: Whirlwinds and Whirlpools







Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Boy Named Denny


Once upon a time there was a little boy named Denny. He was not a happy boy. Many days of hunger and malnourishment had left him swollen from head to toe. He hadn't even learned how to walk yet, though he was well past the normal age, for his legs were weak and spindly.


Before too long, after many meals and lots of love, Denny began to stand up and walk. He still required a lot of assistance. This was partly due to many many months of being carried and partly due to an insecurity.

His mama knew he could do it though, and fashioned a harness out of cloth so that those who looked after him could hook the cloth below his arms and he could see what it felt like to balance on his own and begin to move on his own power without the hand-holding. This went well for a time, but soon Denny got tired. He didn't want to walk on his own. He wanted to be held.



So, one day on the way to the lunch table, Denny had had enough. He plopped himself down on the floor and refused to walk another step. All efforts to encourage, to aid with the harness, were rebuffed. Denny was having none of it.


His mama was sympathetic to his feelings, being well acquainted with the sometimes sin/sometimes virtue of stubbornness. But she also held firm to the adage: he who does not work, does not eat. Denny needed to work for his supper by showing a little effort in the walking department.



Denny was not happy with this pronouncement and proceeded to let everyone in the vicinity know with loud cries and wails. Every few minutes the deal was explained to him again--walk on your own and you get to eat, and every few minutes he cried louder with rebellion. 
An hour passed and a very tired Denny was carried to his bed with the promise that he would have a chance to try again at snack time.

Sadly, snack time began in much the same way, but after another 30 minutes of crying, Denny's mama decided to meet him halfway. His highchair was moved 5 feet closer. He also gave in and consented to walk with the aid of a nanny's hand to his chair. There he ate his lunch and snack together. Not a completely satisfactory ending but an ending nonetheless.

But, what do you imagine happened at the very next meal?


A miracle! Denny got to his feet and walked straight to his chair without a bit of fuss. And every meal since then has had the same result. He is walking all over the place now. 

What a guy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Grace

Grace came to live with us last Wednesday. Her mom passed away in a mission hospital a couple hours away from here. According to the family there was 'something wrong with her stomach'. This is a common issue with taking in babies from the village. There really aren't accurate medical records, or even information given to the families, so we never know what we might be taking on.
The good news is that according to the family, Grace's mother was tested for HIV and did not have the virus. We will, of course, test Grace anyway to be sure.


Overall, Grace's health is fine. She has a touch of colic, which we've been treating with homeopathic chamomile,  and her tear ducts seem to be blocked causing her eyes to water almost constantly. Otherwise, she is a pretty good baby.


As is our policy, when tiny babies come to stay with us, we take them into our home (rather than placing them directly into the nursery) so we can observe them more closely and allow them to bond with me. I can work to get them on a good schedule before sending them fulltime to the nursery. Grace has been spending her nights in the nursery so I can get my rest. We already pay someone to be on duty at that time--no sense in two of us missing our sleep.

Now, with Grace there is a bit of a mystery. We've had mysteries surrounding orphaned children before. There have been mysteries as to what caused the death of their parent(s), or whether the child was even an orphan. Another common mystery we encounter is how old the child or baby really is.


With one of our other little boys, we were told by his grandmother that he was 2 years old but he behaved much older. He even, on one of the rare outings to town, offered to show the nannies the way to his home. Some of our staff members insist that he is older than we were told because they were neighbors with his family and know when he was born. 
You might wonder what would lead a grandmother to lie about the age of her grandchild. Well, we only take in children that are 2 years and younger. If he was actually 3 years old we might not have accepted him. With both his parents dead, his grandmother was most likely desperate. 
Because he has HIV, he is very small...more like a 4 year old than a 6 year old. For this reason, we have stuck with his grandmother's version which makes him 5 years old. No reason to give even more of a complex.

Anyway, back to Grace:


When I asked her grandparents what Grace's birthday was, they first said March 15 and then amended it to April 15. Since she looked, to me, older than 3 weeks old, I asked my translator to ask the family how old she was--thinking that they might find that easier than remembering a date. They went round and round a bit and then the translator turned to me and said, "She'll be one month on May 15". So, I didn't really get a satisfactory answer.

To me, she is more like a seven week old baby (8 weeks as of yesterday). She can hold her head up fairly well. When I place her on her tummy, she lifts her head a couple inches off the blanket and turns her head from side to side. She also tracks items with her eyes. Look at the photo up above, where she is sitting on my lap, she was following every movement of the camera. She also smiles a lot.

Unfortunately, Grace has no teeth to check her age by--and she's not a horse anyway. So, there goes that option.....


We may never solve this mystery, and in a year or even less, a difference of 4 weeks in this baby's age will be nothing at all. But for now, it's a little puzzling. 

With the information you've been given, how would you solve this mystery? How old do you think Grace is?
 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sundays in My City--Just Dance!

“Life may not be the party that we hoped for…
But while we’re here, we should dance.”

- Author Unknown 




Last week, instead of holding our regular staff training meeting, I invited the ladies to take part in a Just Dance tournament. I paired them up as they walked into the room so there wouldn't be any calls of foul play.
They all laughed a lot and had so much fun. 


Beatrice was our winner. The above photo was the only one I could find just now.  (My photos are in a mess right now). We were short one nanny for even teams so I was paired with one of them. I do NOT have photos of that!
After two rounds of dancing we talked briefly about competition and improving on your own score or performance and how that makes the entire group better. 
There can be a feeling in African culture about not wanting to outdo anyone or make yourself look better, and while on the one hand that kind of attitude can promote unity, it can hinder development because no one wants to do better and look like they're just trying to be proud, or as we saw in the recent riots people can even be attacked for being prosperous.
I want to encourage the ladies to each be the best they can be while still working as a team. I'll have to tell you later about our next project which is promoting better work standards and a team effort.
And in the meantime, as we learn how to work together for a better Zambia, we'll dance!




Unknown Mami

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Come See What's New

There are all sorts of new things happening around here.

Today I took a deep breath and decided to change my comments on the blog. I'm now the proud owner of the Disqus commenting system. What does this mean for you? It should be easier for you to log in because you can sign in with your own Disqus account, a Facebook or Twitter account or just as a guest.

Then, when you comment, I'll be able to reply to you--right on the blog (and via email if you add your email address) so we can have a better conversation and everyone can see answers to common questions.

I'm really excited about that!

Then, bolstered by my Disqus success and with the encouragement of my friend, Tina, I did something I have been putting off for months and months. I changed my header!! No longer will I squirm with embarrassment at the sight of my little picture sitting all by itself off to the side.

Now I have a real header. Of course, it's not perfect. I understand that. Remember, my graphics guy is away. He's promised to help when he gets back. But, it's much better! Right? 
If you are reading this in an email or reader, you'll have to click on the title of this post to be directed to my blog.

And now, on to the biggest new thing of all!

Well, not really big, but it's big news......

Let me introduce to you:

Grace!


I'll tell you all about her on Monday. It's gonna be interesting. Now, head on over to comments and leave me a nice one on my spiffy new system.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Keeping Married Love Alive

This post is rated PG-13. 

Tom and I last year after I returned from the States

 Tom and I have been a team for a long time. Either God gave us the perfect gifts and abilities to balance each other out or we developed those abilities to fill a vacuum or a mixture of both. 

When we're apart for these months every year, it can be challenging to not only keep up with our work on either side of the Atlantic, but also to keep our love alive.

On the work side: Tom is great  with graphics, photography and layout. When writing our update letters over the years, it has always been his responsibility to choose photos and art, layout our pages and make everything visually perfect. He does a wonderful job. It falls to me to do the words and text because.....let's face it....I love to talk. :)

One year, (and this was ages ago) Tom was in the States and I was holding down the fort, much like right now, only this was before Skype and twitter and Facebook and all this delightful technology. It came time to put out our monthly newsletter, so Tom did the layout and put in all the pictures and text boxes and then emailed it to me. I was supposed to then add the text and mail it out. 

On the keeping love alive part: In many of those text boxes scattered around the pages, were racy little messages to me. Tom had been quite creative in letting me know exactly how he felt about me and what he was looking forward to upon his return. 

I giggled, changed the text to match the pictures and update our family in friends about our adventures in Africa, saved a copy and mailed it out.

A few years (and annual separations) went by and nothing more was thought of that little document. Nothing, that is, until a fellow missionary here in Zambia asked us for advice on newsletter writing and Tom sent him a few examples from our archives. Almost immediately, this very nice man wrote us back saying, "I'm fairly sure you didn't mean to include one of those files". and he named the file. We opened it up and sure enough, Tom had sent the draft copy, that one with all the very adult, very racy, meant-for-my-eyes only, notes. Oops!

Now with Skype, Facebook, Twitter and all the rest, our communication is hardly hampered at all. We get to discuss things nearly every day and in great detail. It's such a blessing.

Occasionally though, we'll be in the middle of an 'adult' conversation and one of our children (on either side of the Atlantic) will walk in to the room and peek at our computers and all of a sudden our chat window has to look like this:
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Keeping married love alive is such an adventure!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Little Helpers

Thanks to a grant, we've been doing some improvements in our washing and staff kitchen areas. After finally completing the floor in our wash room, the next project was to build a dishwashing table. Our kitchen has a very small sink and it was constantly overflowing with dishes from the many, many meals served each day here. This made cooking a bit tricky when it came time to drain noodles or potatoes or wash vegetables.

Now with a separate dishwashing station in our wash room which is situated just off both the kitchen and dining room, the dishes can be washed without tying up the kitchen.
Another benefit is that the kids can now start helping with dishwashing. Before we didn't let them help because the kitchen is such a dangerous place.


Here you can see the whole table. 


The first child uses a spatula to remove food scraps from the plates and bowls. These scraps can be used to feed the ducks, a pig (if we ever get one), or our compost pile.
Please ignore the cement spattered wall. That is on the list to be done.


The next child rinses the bowls, plates and silverware in plain water. This ensures that any leftover bits of food are removed.


The next bucket has soapy water so the dishes can finally be washed properly. This is also the first stop for dirty cups so they don't end up covered in food bits and grease.


After the dishes are washed, they are placed in the last bucket which contains rinsing water. If many children are sick, we'll add a bit of bleach to this water.
A nanny stands at the end of this washing line job to make sure the dishes have gotten clean; otherwise she places them back into the wash bucket.

The kids love helping out with dishes and we have to rotate them otherwise they fight over whose turn it is.

While four of the older kids are busily washing dishes, the others are in the dining room cleaning that area. 


One wipes the table....


Another straightens the chairs.....


And some of the girls fold the cloth napkins for the next meal.

All of this is repeated five times a day.

This is the perfect age to get the kids started on chores when they are enthusiastic about helping out. By the time they realise that chores are a bore, it will be second nature. It's all in the master plan! *Cackling maniacally*


Want to know how you can become part of the plan of raising up leaders for Zambia?
#1 Click on this link or the donate button at the top of the blog page. 
#2 Choose to give a one time gift or monthly support--let us know in the memo section or an email what you'd like to do.
#3 Know you've made a difference in a child's life.
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