Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Orphanage (Africa Part #6)

I wish I could somehow portray visiting an orphanage in a third-world country, but ask anyone who's ever done it, and I'm sure they'll say it's far beyond words. 
I wish I could show you the face of every orphan. 
I wish I could tell every one of their stories. 
The older ones who have watched their siblings find families and have rejoiced for them,
who have begun to take on more chores at the orphanage,
who will probably leave the orphanage not having a family.
The youngest little one,
a precious little gift,
who will not even try to talk
and who hardly ever smiles.
The boys who pick on the younger ones,
the girls who leave others out.
The ones who pass their food over to the one who is most malnourished,
and go hungry themselves.
There is good and hurt and pain and joy and perseverance and hope.
And I guess what most impressed me was how very, very small the world of these orphans is until they are adopted.
A few small hallway-like rooms with bunks,
a medium-sized common room,
a small patio 
and a sloping yard.
That's pretty much it,

except for the view. And what a view!

The ones who are old enough are taught there, and the younger ones are loved as well as 40 children can be loved by 4 nannies.
And they wait. For a home, for a purpose, for a

It was good to see where our boys spent their time in between their Ugandan family and their American family. It was good to meet their friends. To have faces to put with names.
I am glad we visited the orphanage, and oh, I am so glad that we could leave the orphanage.
That may sound terrible, but I was glad to leave with our five children.
We pray that each of the children left behind finds a family
and we pray for the day, the heavenly day when orphanages are no longer necessary.

P.S. This orphanage is undergoing some pretty major updating and finishing and construction and is in desperate need of funds. If you or anyone you know might be interested, just let me know. I can give you much more info.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A "Normal" Day in Uganda (Africa Part #5)

An excerpt from Update Email #6:

Some of you have asked about daily life here at the guest house when we are not out and about. Well, the day begins with some small noises from Middle Boy as the sun is rising. We usually sit by him encouraging him to lay quietly until everyone else begins to stir at around 6:30. Then it's up and at 'em for the day. We get dressed, purify water and make Tang for breakfast. Mr. Fred makes breakfast-- boiled eggs and bread, bananas and bread, scrambled eggs or some combination of the above. We eat our breakfast in a common room with the other families who are here-- a total of 17 other kids and adults. 
After that I usually allow the kids to play for a bit and then we head down to our room for schooling. Here is where things get a bit nuts. All kids go to their beds in our guest room and I dole out books. I help the Youngest Girl with her work while the Oldest and Oldest Boy do something independently. Middle Boy usually looks at books or plays the kindle. The Youngest bounces from one person to another getting love and sharing laughs. After Youngest Girl is set with some phonics work she can do on her own, I do a math lesson with the big kids. While they are doing their math work, I go back to helping and reading with Youngest Girl. 
That might sound confusing and maybe even a bit impressive, but it's really only happened four of the days we've been here and not without a fair share of fit-throwing! We've fit in some history, grammar, science and art here and there throughout the days as well. After schooling, we leave daddy in the room to work a while in peace and head upstairs until lunch, also made by Fred. Lunches and dinners here consist of noodles, potatoes, rice, various meat in a beef sauce and/or some kind of fried meat. Occasionally we might have peas or beans (in that same beef sauce). 
Right after lunch the Youngest is usually fading and ready for a nap. I sing for a bit then put him down on his bed, read to the other kiddos and then rest a bit myself. Middle Boy is pretty good at entertaining himself again on his bed during that time. Sometimes I lay with him and read through some of the word books we have. He loves to copy us in speaking English. For the Youngest, English kind of just slips out, but we can really see Middle Boy working hard on his language acquisition.
After rest time it's play time for all the kids. They run around the house playing a made up version of hide and seek called "take him to jail" or play on the patio chasing each other and watching all the animals. We have cows, chickens, dogs, a cat, a pig, various birds and the occasional monkey that come around. The Oldest Boy sometimes practices his soccer footwork against the side of the building or passes the ball with some of the younger ones. Lately the plastic chairs in the common room have been a big play item, they get stacked for thrones, used for cars or just dragged around the tile floor to make an extremely loud sound! 

Once in the evening we took a walk down the rough dirt road that the guest house is on. It seems rough to us, but one of our drivers said that it was much worse before the orphanage director had it smoothed--paying for it himself. The views all around are gorgeous and we can't wait to take a walk the other way--we've heard the views of Lake Victoria are even more stunning than what we can see from the common room.
After dinner we head downstairs for the bedtime routine: washing up, singing songs, praying and turning lights out. We use my phone to play "ocean sounds" to help lull the masses to sleep. The Hubby and I turn in soon after so we'll be ready to wake up with Middle Boy as the sun rises on a new day.
It may not seem as glamorous as Africa should be, but it is nice to have a routine for the days we are not out sight seeing or doing adoption related chores.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Entebbe Zoo (Africa, Part #4)

If you're headed to Uganda, I recommend a visit to the zoo in Entebbe. The first thing you need to know about the zoo, though, is that the monkeys run wild and free.
And they like little girls' suckers
(or any other food you might have on hand). 

See that skinny little boy in his daddy's arms? He's gained about ten pound since then. It's hard to believe he was that small just 12 weeks ago.




The kids were super mad (and still bitter about it) that I would not let them touch the Rhino. He was literally right up against this gate.

This is the "Elder Tree," the largest and oldest tree in the zoo.
The view of Lake Victoria from the zoo

Baboon--we'll get a closer and more personal look at this animal later, when one of them hops on our bus and steals our sandwiches right in front of our oldest son!


The Crested Crane (the Ugandan national bird), Buffalo, and wharthogs

another view of Lake Victoria from the zoo restaurant


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Boys' Room

(A little intermission from the trip to Africa)
When we thought we'd be adopting one baby, the plan was to use the baby/guest room for the baby, obviously. When God showed us our two little boys, the plan had to change. We decided to give the girls the guest room (pics to come) and put the two new boys in with the older boy. 
It's worked out great. The only tricky part is nap time, which I've finally figured out: if I put the littlest in my bedroom, the other two boys can have the boy room for resting and playing. 
As you can see below, we've finally taken the plunge and separated out the legos by color. I love these thin drawers from Target (see the bottom of all those plastic drawers). That's two sets of $12 drawers and a couple of Lego dividers, $7 for two. (Thanks for the Christmas gift cards for the kids, Aunt Beth!) The top two big drawers are matchbox cars and Hero Factory. Below that you have white legos, black/grey legos, red, orange-brown-yellow, green, blue and then tiny pieces in the dividers.
The beds have linens from Ikea (thanks, Granna for the great Christmas presents!)

and personalized pillows made by Granna

These little tables are the inexpensive and very useful LACK side tables. I need to find some cute way to link them together so they straight, but I really have enjoyed having them in the boys' room.
Under the tables we have large buckets for Duplo blocks, Matchbox village and train set.

The beds are a hand made bunk bed (thanks to the hubby's uncle for passing that one down!) and a loft bed put in by Granna for the oldest's birthday about three years back. The oldest boy is now in the loft and the two new boys in the bunk bed.
I especially love the little "under the loft" area. This is where the boys' clothes are--a little dressing room. And because Granna included shelves under the bed, it's a great little display area for the little boys' books and toys. The little bench (with storage inside) was made guessed it...Granna and stores our diapers.
We turned to Ikea again for clothes storage--The Expedit shelves are perfect for kids' clothes.

The lego creations, once built, either end up on the LACK tables or up in the oldest boy's loft--shelves at the end of his bed keep his creations close (and away from little hands).

So there you have it: three boys and all their toys in a little room. I'm happy with the way it turned out! How do you organize your little ones and their things?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Oh, the Beauty (Africa, Part 3)

I'll get around to the wheres and whys and hows later, but for now, just feast your eyes on the teeniest sliver of the beauty of the African skies!