Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Where Did The Time Go?

I truly thought I would be able to get much more blogging done while in the States. No kids to distract me, no staff demands, no (less) meals to cook, steady internet, constant electricity.

So, why haven't I blogged? Well, I do have three kids here. The two girls have been getting me all caught up on their life since I last saw them a year ago. I'm worried their studies will suffer while I'm here because they keep coming into my room to chat instead of studying. 

I've been busy getting my son integrated into U.S living. So far we've applied for his U.S ID card, bought his GED book and met with the tutors at the college who will help him if he needs it even before he enrolls. He also has a Driving Manual and will be studying that in preparation for getting his learner's permit. 

Yesterday I came down with a cold so that has slowed me down a bit. My seatmate on the plane had a cold and did NOT use the 'elbow technique' so I was showered in his germs every time he coughed despite him covering his mouth. Yuck! I worked out both Monday and Tuesday morning including a yoga class on Tuesday morning which left me feeling pretty sore. Combined with the rundown feeling I had I was worried I was coming down with malaria. I think now that I just have a run of the mill cold (how boring!) and will be fine in a couple days.

I rested yesterday afternoon but I'm hoping to put in some solid work on the computer today--not necessarily blogging but reports, appointment scheduling, tax work, etc. And blah!

What is making me happy while I do all this work is being able to listen to the radio. I have I tunes on my computer but there is something about radio DJs that my player can't duplicate. My favorite stations in Houston: KSBJ 89.3--a Christian station, and Sunny 99.1--they play soft hits. What do you like to listen to? Do you listen to radio at all or are you an Ipod or other player fan?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sundays in My City--#3--London

I spent Thursday night exploring London on foot with my son, T.J and a friend. It was a really enjoyable experience. I'll have more photos and stories of our trip from Zambia through London to Houston tomorrow.

Buckingham Palace

T.J filming the experience for the kids back home

Attempting to recreate a picture his dad took in 1986

Big Ben

Trying to use a feature on my 'new' camera.

For more photos from around the world visit Mami at Sundays in My City 
Unknown Mami

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Prayer updates

Last week I asked for your prayers. Here is how they have been answered:

Baby Peter is completely better and back to his happy, bubbly self.
All our promotional materials were completed. The video is different than what we've done in the past but it is interesting and fun. Tom did a great job, as always.

I got a handle on all the paperwork--my desk has never looked better--and Tom was given all the tools he needs to be able to run the orphanage in my absence. I still have plenty of work to keep me busy over the next two months but we're in a good place organization-wise.

The antibiotics that Tom took seemed to do the trick for his male issue. He felt better enough that he decided not to travel down to the doctor. Big answer to prayer!

Our flight has been confirmed with British Airways. I've just checked in online and we've picked our seats.

We fly out tomorrow, spend the night in London, and then fly into Houston's International airport on Friday afternoon.

Thanks for your continued prayers for safe travel.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Things I'm Looking Forward To

As the days get closer and closer I'm getting really excited about my time in the States.

Here are some of the things I'm most looking forward to:

Seeing my girls again! I left them in the States exactly a year ago and since then they've grown and changed so much. It will be really fun getting to know them again as young women.

Visting my mom! I haven't seen my mom for over 4 years! Sure we talk on Skype chat regularly but it just isn't the same thing. I'm going to have 5 wonderful days with her in California. I'm hoping to also see my sister and her husband and TWO kids I've never met. In the plans also for the California trip--visiting an uncle I haven't seen since I was seven years old and cousins I've never met.

Going to church! Being able to sit in a church and sing praise and worship songs to the Lord and listen to a message and just set aside the cares of the world. Pure bliss! 

Eating out at restaurants! Taco Bell! Starbucks! Antonio's! and so many others! 

And on a related note: Tons of fresh vegetables! People think that because this is a tropical/temperate climate there is plenty of fresh produce but Zambians really aren't farmers. We're working on getting our garden going but it doesn't offer anywhere near the variety of markets in the States. I may just become a vegetarian while in the States. 
Wait, no! I want to eat steak too. Scratch that idea!

Seeing friends! I miss being able to sit and just chat with friends or pick up the phone and call someone when the mood strikes. For the next two months I'm going to be catching up with as many friends as I can. One exciting thing is that I'm going to meet a distant cousin who I've befriended on the web. Stephanie found me on Facebook and I got to know her through that and her blog. I'm really looking forward to meeting her.

Driving! Oh boy! I love driving so much. I miss it here because, one, until last August we didn't have a car, two, I don't drive stick shift so I haven't been able to drive this one at all, and third, the roads here just don't lend themselves to enjoyable driving. I'm going to be going on at least one road trip with my son to Louisiana and Alabama. On the way we're going to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans. I can't wait!

I'm going to really enjoy clean things. When I shower in the morning in the States I know that it will last the whole day. My clothes can be worn and hung up again for next time. Even housecleaning is more fun in the States.

And last but most definitely not least: Going to the library and bookstores! Usually the first full day I'm in the States I rush to the library, renew my card and load up on things to read during my free time. I have at least four flights while in the States so I'll have plenty of time. I've been keeping a list of authors and books all year! Do you haven any must reads to recommend?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Upcoming Travels

When you read this I should be on a bus traveling down to Lusaka. Because it's a Monday we're on the slow bus. Most likely 16 hours of travel. 

This should put us in Lusaka very early Tuesday morning. We'll be staying with friends and will be running around taking care of business for two days. We need to pick up Bible study books for Tom's class, shop for groceries we can't find in our normal store, visit the pharmacy to pick up some medicines to restock our clinic and get all this stuff to the bus station on Wednesday afternoon so the bags can travel up to Kazembe.

I also have to do some boring business but we'll have a good time shopping for souvenirs after. Hear that? That's the sound of those who know me IRL laughing really hard. I hate shopping! But I will be picking up a little something for a future giveaway or two. That should be fun.

Thursday morning we're supposed to be flying out on British Airways. We're still waiting to hear about the strike.

Thursday evening we'll be exploring London and then getting back to the airport at midnight. I've booked a room at the airport. More about this later.

Friday afternoon we'll be landing in Houston, Texas!

Please keep T.J and I in your prayers as we travel this whole week.

P.S For the next two months I'll be fundraising in the U.S. I'll post later the specific places I'll be if you're interested in catching a presentation.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sundays in My City--#2

The theme of today's post is things I'm going to miss over the next two months as I travel.

The kids were surprised that I included the dogs in this photo essay but they are a part of this home too.

Full disclosure: I'm not really going to miss this little guy. He steals fruit and eggs from my kitchen.

I'll miss all the kids so much....

their happy faces...
their little dances that are hard to capture on camera....

 their sleeping forms. I'll miss it all.

I'll miss my handsome husband as he teaches his classes. 
His love for and gift for teaching really comes through and I find it very sexy.

I'll miss my big kids and all their teenage loveliness...
...their cooking up new recipes (this was Reese's Pieces)...

...their quest for knowledge...

..their excitement over new things (like mustache hairs).

I'll miss the skies over Africa. The stormy ones full of drama, the sunny ones that look like the background for the Simpsons, and the sunsets that help you believe in God.

You knew I couldn't leave this one out. I'll miss his kissable cheeks and the giggle that makes it all worthwhile!

Unknown Mami
Join others in showing off their cities at Sundays in My City.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Just a Little Peek at My Last Week

This has been a crazy busy week. Here are some of the things I've worked on to get the orphanage ready for my departure and myself ready for a fundraising tour and my son ready for the U.S.

  • I wrote out meal ideas for the kids and Tom to follow while I'm away. They gave me their input on what they thought they could do and then I typed out the recipes and put them in a folder with plastic sleeves.
  • The master shopping list has been updated and reviewed for accuracy--it now follows the aisles of the store exactly. This is so important because we can't just dash out to the store again if we forget something.
  • I inventoried each of my kids' closets. This meant having them try things on. Since they don't have walk in closets (actually, they don't have closets at all), we had to just do the thing in their room. My kids are extremely conservative and so hated the whole process. "Don't look, Mom!! Keep your head turned!!!" Good fun!
  • Because I can't take the kids to a store to try on clothes I have to take measurements, look at existing clothes that fit somewhat and then go online to sort out what size they might wear. When they were younger it was much more straightforward but now....I have no idea! Timothy is six foot and so I think the 33 inch length will be good for him but the waist is gonna be hard to do. 30 and 31 are both tight on him but 32 is such a jump from 30. I'm worried about bringing clothes home and him not being able to wear them. Jasmine is now in adult sizes but a child size 16 still fits her. According to her measurements she should be a four or six but then sizes vary so much store by store.....I think I may be able to take her sisters with me to check on sizes. She's taller than one and curvier than the other but we'll figure it out.
  • Tom and I have been working on our promo video. You know the feeling when you have a picture taken of you that you're not exactly fond of? Well, imagine that photo with added sound and movement and then imagine seeing it a gillion times as you edit and tweak and edit and tweak and then show it over and over and over again to crowds of people and have to stand up and speak afterward. Oh yeah. That is my life.
  • I'm actually feeling quite good about the video. It's an interesting look at the orphanage. The kids are adorable and Tom is doing a fantastic job, as always, on the editing.
  • We took our family portrait. I'll be sharing that with you a bit later on. Thank you for all your input on what to do about the emptier nest aspect. I'm happy with how we worked it out.
  • We had to update our promotional brochure as well. This meant searching for/taking new photos and doing research to make sure the statistics were all correct.
  • I'm also filing all my paperwork and making sure that things are where they are supposed to me. When Tom calls me in the States a few weeks from now looking for a piece of paper I can't tell him it's in the shorter left hand stack under the desk. 
  • All the schedules for the orphanage are being reworked and reprinted so that it is very clear who is supposed to be where at what time. I've printed up a calendar that says when to pay each bill and any other recurring appointments that come up.
  • In the midst of all this I've been decluttering and tidying as well. Mainly so I can find my things and pack them. LOL
The only thing that has slowed me down this week has been baby Peter. Last weekend he came down with malaria and has had a bad cough for a couple weeks. I had him with me all week and he slept in our room so I could keep an eye (ear, actually) on his breathing. He is a happy baby but has started being a bit more clingy and needy. I would have him playing on a blanket on the floor and if he began fussing I would try to distract him with a toy but as I walked up to him he would grin and lift his little arms. Who can resist that?? Needless to say, I spent a good portion of this week cuddling this little guy.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fab Friday Foto--Volume XV

We're truckin' along on all our promo materials. 

One of the necessary things was getting all the kids together for a photo. 

Top row (L-R): John, Chola, Queenie, Peter, Elias
Middle row (L-R): Henry, Moriah, Jennifer, Nathan, Sandra
Bottom row (L-R): Janet, Ernest, Theresa, Beauty

See the little guy in the middle row sticking out his tongue?
That is Nathan. He tends to scowl during photos. 
This was one of the few good ones. 
In the rest of them his eyebrows were nearly perfect v's.

Which expression do you love?
There are so many to choose from.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Outdated Judgment

One of the nice things about leaving the village and visiting the 'real world' is getting to wear nice clothes (heels even!) and having the time to put more effort into my appearance.
The day after we arrived in Ndola I was dressed up and ready for the dentist. Troy looked at me and asked why I was wearing mascara.

I want to look pretty.

You do know you are married, right, Mom?

The next day when I put my makeup on, Troy talked to me again:

I don’t know why you wear that stuff.

What’s the problem?

Well, guys will see you.

And, what’s the problem with that?

They might flirt with you.

And then?

Well, you might flirt back.

Yep, my son after eight years in Africa has traveled way back to the beginning of the last century where putting color on the face was considered equal to prostitution. Poor deluded little child!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Prayers Needed

** Baby Peter has malaria and a bad cough. He's on all the right medicines but malaria is still pretty scary in little ones. Please pray he recovers quickly and that we can keep his fever down at night.

I want my goofy guy back.

** We are working hard on all our promotional materials for my upcoming trip. It's all going well but is not without it's challenges as we deal with the normal Africa life--yesterday we had more than a dozen power cuts. This makes it hard when you're trying to do computer work.

** I'm still trying to get all my paperwork organized so that things can run smoothly while I'm away for the next two months. I'm never quite on top of things as it is and this hectic time has not made it easy. 

** Tom is dealing with an issue in his 'male' area. You never want to let your mind go to the worst case scenario but it can be hard sometimes. He's on antibiotics now and we'll see a doctor when we go down to Lusaka for the flight out to the States.

**British Airways is on strike and of course, that is what I'm booked on with T.J. Please pray that they resolve their issues so that our trip is not delayed or messed up in any way. 

            Thanks for praying along with us on all of these things.

Tomorrow: How Africa makes makes us (some of us, anyway) really old fashioned.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sundays in My City--The Ndola Edition

Unknown Mami

I've decided to take part in this fun world tour on some Sundays. I'll still be writing about our kids one at a time on Sundays as well so I'll try to alternate. I found Mami through SITS and she invited me to link up to her Sundays in My City posts.
It is fun to take a virtual world tour each weekend.
My pictures are from last weekend when I was in Ndola. A couple that I've known for years were throwing a goodbye party for their oldest son. They invited dozens of families and I was able to catch up with many old and dear friends who I hadn't seen for years.

This family has been working really hard to start a farm and have been such good examples of believing God's promise for your life and not giving up at the first difficulty or the hundredth in their case. 

When we first moved up here to build the orphanage and encountered so many obstacles, remembering this sweet couple and their unerring faith helped to keep me going.

Anyway, on to the photos:

I loved this entry way. I would like to copy the design for our property

My friend is going to be opening a restaurant to help supplement their farm income--she's a great cook. This will be the dining room.
It was a gorgeous day for sitting outside and having a barbeque or braii as they call it here.
Getting a chance to chat with friends old and new was exquisite!

I was so proud of Troy (he's on the far left--you can just see his head peeping out) for being bold enough to hang out with the big boys and make his own new friends.
I have to say too that the young man who was leaving home for the first time and for whom the party was being thrown was the perfect host. (He's the one in the hat) He greeted each guest individually and made sure that everyone was having a good time and was included. He was a big reason why Troy felt comfortable to be with the older boys. It really showed that he had been raised by good parents.

This is one of two ponds on the farm which are being used for raising bream. I wouldn't have wanted to swim with the fishes but the kids had no problem with it at all.

That's my 'City'. To see more pictures from around the world visit Sundays in My City and link up if you want to play along.

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Hips Don't Lie

Nearly two weeks ago I left for Ndola. It was an early Sunday morning when we set off—walking to the bus station. We had to leave before dawn since the bus was due to pass through the village at 4:30 AM. Since our car was not working well and Tom was worried about the road being muddy we left on foot.
If I were a cynical person I would have thought that Tom just didn't want to get up and drive that early, but let's give him the benefit of the doubt. To be fair as well, Tom had told me that I could ask our gardener to come help with the luggage but since that would have meant him getting up around 3 AM in order to walk up here in time, I really didn't want to do that. Tom explained later that because this culture is so helpful and by their rules an employer is a parent, the gardener would have been very happy to have the opportunity to assist me. He does understand this culture more than I, so perhaps he was right. 

But, I didn't follow his advice and therefore I was left to carry my own luggage. I had my ‘be prepared’ bag, my laptop in a case, and my small suitcase which did not feel small that morning,  let me tell you.

I had both shoulders occupied by the two bags and was then challenged with how to carry the suitcase. Those suckers are designed with wheels for a reason. Unfortunately, those little wheels don’t work as well when being pulled down a muddy dirt road at 4 AM. Go figure! Believe me, I tried. After discovering that pulling wasn’t going to work, I tried carrying it in one hand which completely threw off my balance. Shifting from hand to hand didn’t work either. I even tried carrying it on my head African-style but I think that’s a skill you have to learn at a young age.

Finally remembering the gift God gave me—namely my ample hips—I hoisted the suitcase up to my right hip, supported it with my right arm and held on to the handle with my left. That position actually worked. So did uttering some choice words—did you know that ‘research’ has shown that those that let certain words fly handle pain better? I still don't recommend it but I'm only human.--What can I say?

On the plus side the rest of the bus ride was pretty comfortable compared to the walk so that was nice.

And I learned that not only do my hips not lie, but they are very handy luggage carts as well.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Whole New World

Musing Mom commented after my last photo nearly a whole week ago (! Sorry about that!) wondering where my root canal was taking place and that it was giving her a whole different picture of Africa.

I traveled down to our old stomping grounds--Ndola. We loved Ndola because it was a small town that still had enough shops to keep you happy. It was originally built by the British for the miners but after the copper mines shut down it got quite run down--almost like a ghost town. Many towns in that area called the Copperbelt nearly emptied completely. Then the mines became very active again in 2006 and all the towns came to life and overflowed meaning that new buildings had to be put up to house everyone.

It is a different place since we moved out in 2006. There are several new restaurants, a new grocery store with another due to go up any time, entire new neighborhoods. It was a little slice of Heaven to be able to visit coffee shops and sit with friends chatting and sipping a cappuccino. Nearly every time I called a friend to see if they wanted to get together for a chat they asked if I had heard of a new coffee shop called Vanilla Bread. I went there four times and enjoyed every bit of it. I got to eat a steak wrap and it came with crispy french fries. Oh, Yum!

Of course the real reason I was there was less pleasant though. I've been putting off a root canal for nearly 3 years because it was going to mean me having to be away from the orphanage for 10 days. It took three treatments to complete the root canal but I still have to go back later for a crown. This will take two separate trips a month apart. I'm trying to feel bad but looking forward to visiting with friends in Ndola is exciting!

The dentist was really good and did a fair job I think. The pain was minimal. At one point as she was jabbing my nerves not long after the injection so I really wasn't numb yet I began to go into shock and she commented that I had a low threshold for pain. I nearly hit her, but otherwise it went fairly well. The second and third trips were much better because I was more aware of what was going on.
While we were at the dentist's I had them clean Troy's teeth as well. He was my traveling buddy for this trip.
Troy loved being in a 'big' city and especially enjoyed being able to see a friend he used to have playdates with when we lived here. He also made some new friends and had his first ever solo sleep over --2 nights in a row even. He really didn't want to come back home.

A highlight for Troy was getting to ride in an elevator. His first since we moved to Africa eight years ago! He was so excited and said that now all he needs to do is ride on an escalator and his life will be complete. Good to know! I know what I'm gonna try to get him for Christmas now!

Next time: I'll remind you that I do indeed still live in Africa.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fab Friday Foto--Volume XIV

Why hyphenation rules are important.

I've been out of town getting a root canal. Oh joy! Anyway, I'll be back online with you as soon as humanly possible. I miss you all!
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