Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Good Negotiator or Manipulator? You Decide

Last Wednesday evening I was cooking chicken soup and thinking about how close I was to the end of a very full day. I was looking forward to settling into bed with a good book and a glass of something refreshing. 

Tom had left for Lusaka the day before and would be away for a couple nights. 

As I chopped and stirred in the kitchen, Peter stopped by for a chat. The following conversation took place:

Peter: Mom, do you ever sleep alone?

Me: Sometimes.

Peter: Does it make you sad to sleep alone?

Me: *knowing full where where he is going with this* Why do you ask?

Peter: Well, I just thought since Dad is gone, I could sleep with you.

I was glad I had my back to him as I stirred the pot of soup because I was cracking up.

Peter has been asking to sleep with me for a few weeks now, but I always tell him no because "Mommy and Daddy need their privacy". And after I explained the meaning of privacy Peter had seemed to accept my decision. 

I guess he understood better than I thought and had simply bided his time. But rather than just ask me outright, he made it sound like he'd be doing me a favor. 

What would you do? Would you give in to the psychology that Peter employed?

Of course I let him spend the night with me. Creative thinking should be rewarded when possible. And it was fun to spend extra time with him.

One Year Ago: A Crazy 35-Hour Day
Three Years Ago: Some Mother's Child
Four Years Ago: Honey, Honey (another humorous parenting story)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Putting Him First

Once again I'm linking up with Five Minute Friday. This week's prompt is First.

My Bible study for the past several/many months has been To Live is Christ by Beth Moore which is a study of the Apostle Paul.

I've enjoyed so many elements of this study and learned more than I thought possible after spending my entire life studying and teaching Bible stories. 

The last video lesson was from the book of Philippians and one section focused on the verse: 

Philippians 3:12
....I press on to make it [Christ's righteousness] my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.

Beth marveled how amazing it is that God chose her first, and me first, and you first. Before even the earth was created God chose me and He chose you to have a specific purpose in life. 

And in honor of this privilege of being chosen first by the Creator of the Universe, God wants us to put him first above all else. When we do that, amazingly it creates room for the things that are important to us because our priorities are first focused on making Him and others happy and that makes all other elements fall into place. 

We love Him because He first loved us. Amazing Love!

I hope you know how much He loves you. 

Exactly Three Years Ago: A New Experience
(Almost) Exactly Four Years Ago: Garden Glories
Exactly Five Years Ago: The Three Stooges
Almost Exactly Six Years Ago: Fab Friday Foto—Vol. IX

Thursday, January 7, 2016

When Education and Exercise Collide We All Win

Last year I picked up FitBits for Tom and I. I wanted to keep track of my steps and was eager for Tom to be able to track his sleep as well as his steps, of course.

I've already discussed within these pages how competitive I can be sometimes. Tom and I began competing with each other, but it's been hard for me to win. He is constantly moving--even when he talks on the phone he paces--and I often have to stay in one place to do my work.

However, it did get me moving more. Where in the past I would call a child to carry items hither, thither and yon, I now run those errands myself. Multiple trips needed? Even better! Our property is spread out. Say I want to start dinner but still have office work left? Those two tasks are in separate buildings. So I can get plenty of steps in just getting up from my desk to check on a simmering pot every 15 minutes or so.
However, I was still finding it difficult to get to my goal of 10,000 steps. 

I've now begun walking in the mornings. One side benefit is that I take our dog Chewy with me and also Johnny. Both child and dog have similar issues--plenty of energy that needs dispersing. Johnny gets to choose one child to accompany us each morning.

This week my sister started a FitBit challenge. It's called Workweek Challenge and is designed to see who can get the most steps in from Monday to Friday. My morning walks took on even greater importance.

This morning I woke up to sprinkly, rainy weather. "Guess I can't walk today," I mused. (and inside I grinned--I didn't really want to walk so early in the morning) By my regular walk time the rain had stopped, but I'd already made up my mind not to walk so I snuggled back into bed and did my Bible study. 

Forty-five minutes later I was beginning to worry. Now Mike will definitely beat me. And Steph and Kerri are neck and neck with me. I can't afford to miss a day!!

But now it was school time. I had to go to work. Whatever could I do?

First was Assembly. And then Devotions. And then Snack. 

But then!

I lined up all the first graders and we hit the road. We walked out the gate--in two straight lines (name that book!)--actually in just one straight line, and up the hill. 

As we walked I shouted out math problems and the kids answered. We reviewed the alphabet and phonics sounds. We talked about geography. We counted by ones, twos, fives and tens.

Then, at our turnaround point we discovered Sandra's dad making charcoal just off the road. The kids ran over and got a lesson on charcoal making. They got really excited about maybe even making some on their own.

We ended up having a 30 minute walk where the kids could learn in a different setting, and I got my daily walk in. Win! Win!

Exactly Five Years Ago: Down for the Count
Exactly Six Years Ago: Christmas is for Kids

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Reason I Have To Win Kapya's Love Again

This month we've had a World Race team with us again. Last year was our first chance to work with AIM and the World Racers, and they are lots of fun to have here at Kazembe Orphanage.

It's great to have six extra pairs of hands around for those extra projects that never seem to get done. In anticipation of their arrival I jotted down ideas over the last few months of things that could get tackled. Things like inventory the storeroom, test the kids in their physical development, write up sentences for spelling words, etc. 

At the very top of the list was to get all our youngest kids medical records in order. Many times when we receive babies into the orphanage their health is not all that great and I hesitate to give them too many immunizations. I want them to receive them eventually, but I prefer for them to be on better immune-system footing.

This was the perfect time to get this taken care of. Two of the girls took all the kids' immunization cards, health notebooks and assorted papers and got them organized and listed in a spreadsheet.

We have immunization cards for the children which are issued by the government, and then we also have health logs in notebooks for them. The way clinics and hospitals work here is that when you visit them for the first time they ask you to purchase a notebook. This becomes your medical file. They write a number on the top and give you a scrap of cardboard with the same number. This is your ID for that notebook. Every time you visit that clinic or hospital you must bring the correct piece of cardboard so they can locate your 'file'. Trouble is that those books and/or scraps of cardboard are frequently misplaced and there is no running record. Or if you visit another hospital there is no way for doctors to know which treatment you've already had or what your medical history is.

My solution for this was to create my own notebook for each child and we take this with us wherever we go. So any tests run, doctors notes, etc. all go into the same notebook and travel with the child. It works so much better. (Unless I'm not there to supervise and a doctor from one clinic tears out the test results from another hospital. Grrr!)

Anyway, we discovered that several of the children and babies were missing immunizations and needed to get caught up. Fifteen children to be exact!

So a clinic day was organized and coordinated with our local rural health center. At the last moment Tom had to go somewhere else so we went down on foot. It's not a bad walk--about 15-20 minutes and the kids were very excited to go to the BOMA (town center). Little did they know what we had in store for them.....

I did try to explain ahead of time what would go on. "A doctor is going to put medicine in you to protect you from diseases." But they had no idea what that meant. I also promised them a treat when we were done.

Right after nap time we set out to walk to the clinic. The kids all chose partners. We made sure a grown up was in the front and out back and we were off!

When we arrived at the clinic I was happy to see that they were expecting us and we could get right down to business. I had a spreadsheet with the kids' names and the immunizations they needed and the doctor and I made a plan on which ones they'd get that day. We also decided to give HIV tests to some of the kids who had not yet been tested so we could have a definite answer. Not that we expected any of them to be positive, but it is a possibility here and one we definitely want to rule out.

Mary sat out in the waiting area with the kids (we gave them all Rescue Remedy to calm them down) and nannies, and two of the other volunteers came into the examining room with me and we began. 

 We started with the two oldest kids which may have been a mistake. Lizzy did alright. She just needed one shot and an HIV test, which is just a little prick on the finger--similar to a blood sugar test. Jack, however had recently had minor surgery and he knew exactly what needles feel like and he was having none of it! I made the mistake of saying the HIV test was simple and just like a malaria test (which the kids get frequently), but Jack misunderstood and fought tooth and nail not to get pricked. He kept shouting, "I don't want mah-yahr-eeya (malaria)." Ooops!

All the kids in the waiting room could hear Jack's screams and cries and their eyes grew larger and larger as they wondered what on earth was in store for them. Mary kept leading them in happy songs singing extra loud to dry to drown out Jack's cries. 

We continued to bring kids in one by one and for the most part they all did pretty well. Naomi (4) was the funniest. She walked in on her own power but just stood by the table with the largest eyes I've ever seen. No matter what I said I couldn't break her deer-in-the-headlights stare. Getting the shots was probably anti-climatic after what she was expecting. Poor girl!

Leah (3) was our absolute star! She didn't make a single sound despite getting two shots and the finger prick. 
Kapya and Humphrey (9 months) had to get two shots and they were not happy about it at all. I cuddled Kapya after to try to help calm her down and she responded by vomiting straight down the front of my shirt. She continued to cry whenever she saw me for a few days. I still don't know if she's completely forgiven me.  

Apparently Kapya loves Mary though!

The next day was pretty bad. Despite having given all the kids Tylenol, they still limped around the property and were mopey. At one point I saw Lizzy (5) leading Grace (4) up the hill to the dining room. They were both limping, but Lizzy was obviously taking care of Grace. They looked like two wounded warriors dragging home after a distant battle. 

Thankfully they are all better now and had recovered sufficiently to enjoy the birthday party a couple days later. That's an upcoming story. Stay tuned.....

And! The really good news?? No one tested positive for HIV!! A really wonderful thing!

Exactly Six Years Ago: Miscellaneous Musings Sometimes I forget all these adventures!
(Almost) Six Years Ago: Mayflies and..... (related to the above post and so relevant to this time of year)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Clean UP! Everybody! Everywhere!

Last month we got a letter from the District Council informing us that there would be a city wide clean up day to prepare for the upcoming Independence Day celebration. They told us that a church would be assigned to clean the orphanage property and then the District Commissioner would come around to inspect the work done. 
For this reason we opted out of the activity (being used for a photo op for someone who didn't even do the work didn't appeal to us much), but decided that the kids should take part for community unity. 

Johnny (9) raking the leaves, dry grass,  and baby mangoes in the courtyard

Unfortunately we got confused about the dates, and ended up doing the clean up day a week later than the rest of the village, but the kids didn't know that, so it's all good.

We decided to make it into a game. School was canceled for the day and a special afternoon movie was promised as well as a Field Day the next day for the 2 oldest grades.

On the morning of the Clean Up Day, Mary and I made lists of possible jobs and figured out how much time each job would take. We divided the jobs into 30 minute increments and wrote the jobs on little slips of paper.

Elias (11) checking out his new job. He's concentrating, not complaining, I promise.
I put all the job slips into my popcorn bucket and the kids could pull out a job to do. They only had to work at that job for 30 minutes, but if their job supervisor saw them slacking off their time would be increased in 10 minute increments. When their 30 minute job was done they got the little slip signed by their supervisor and then delivered it to me and pulled a new job slip.

Sandra (8) helping check if markers work as we decluttered the classroom

The idea was that the first graders would pull two slips out and the second graders would pull out three. Once they'd turned all their slips in to me they were free! Work day would be done!

Jack and Ana (both 5) sweeping the corridor around the courtyard.

We wanted the Kindergarten class to take part too so they worked with their nanny to clean their own bedroom, classroom and the hallways in that area.

One of the jobs was to cut the grass in the laundry area with scissors. Moriah (7) patiently cut away. 

All the kids worked really well. We had a couple who had their time extended, but for the most part everyone dug in and got the job done. It was a really good day!

That afternoon they all got to pile into our living room and sit on the rug to watch Astro Boy.

I hope we can make Clean Up Day an annual event so our kids can grow up seeing the value of a solid day's work. 

Just Over Two Years Ago: A Little Hump Day Humor This made me chuckle yet again!

Nearly Four Years Ago: Baby Bonanza Celebrated the birthday of two of these a couple days ago, and I can't believe they were ever that small!

Nearly Five Years Ago: San Diego Has Nothing on Us

Friday, May 22, 2015

Rising and Falling


Today's word prompt is Rise. Immediately the following lyrics came to mind and I began to write:

I will rise on eagle's wings. Before my God fall on my knees, and rise.

Such an interesting juxtaposition of phrases. I'm going to rise, but in order to do that I must fall down.

 We've rehabilitated hawks a few times in Zambia and as they are learning to fly they fall a lot. But, before you know it they have gained wind beneath their wings, learned how to control it, and they are off. There is nothing we can do to help that process other than make sure their nest is high enough that they get a bit of help on their way down.

In the words of Woody: Falling with style

As my kids grow up it can be hard to watch them 'fall' out of the nest. They can get some good swoops in and fly short distances, but other times they hit the ground a little hard. 

As a parent the best thing I can do is model the rise and fall of life in a positive way and hope they take something away from my example. 

My six kids in various stages of flight celebrating Timothy's graduation

And when they swoop through the sky I cheer with all my might. When they hit the ground I kiss their bruised wings. And continue to nudge them back in the air again.

So this turned out differently than I thought it would when I started writing, but it's my heart on the page. Enjoy!

Exactly Four Years Ago: Sundays in My City
Almost Exactly Four Years Ago: I'm Not the Only One Missing Someone (and boy, am I missing him today....)

Friday, April 17, 2015

When Tomorrow Never Comes

Today's word prompt is Tomorrow

If I've learned anything these past few years and even more so in the past few weeks is that we are not guaranteed another tomorrow. 

As I write this I am on my way to Oregon. I'll be speaking and presentting to a few church groups, but I'm also going to visit with some dear friends who just had a baby (need to sniff a newborn's head) and so important for me, I'll also be visiting my Grandpa. 

Grandpa S. turned 100 this past December. I want to make sure that I have a time to sit and visit with him and find out more about his history. It's going to be a special visit.

As I packed for this trip yesterday I saw a Facebook status from my uncle. My Grandpa C.--my dad's father--passed away yesterday. I won't have another tomorrow with him. I didn't have very many yesterdays with him either. This makes me sad. 

Grandpa C. was 88 when he passed away. He served as a police officer in Detroit, was a successful business man in , and so much more that I don't even know because this life I live doesn't give me as many todays with those I love as I would like. 

When I sit down with Grandpa S. on Tuesday next week, I'm going to treasure every moment because while tomorrow isn't guaranteed, today is and today is what I'll make sure to make the most of.

This is my Grandpa S. two years ago, with my mom (on his right)
and my brother and 3 sisters.

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