Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pests and Pestilences

Poor little Joseph is sick again. About two weeks ago he contracted a cough. He also began getting fevers. We treated him for malaria--the smart thing to do when a small child has a fever--but he didn't improve. I hesitated to give him any antibiotics because after his hospitalization (and the huge amount of medication that was dumped into his system) his body has been all out of whack. He had a terrible fungal diaper rash and thrush as well.
The medical officer that came out to make a house call agreed. He wanted us to be cautious about giving more medicines.

I used natural remedies: garlic milk and Vicks (baby version for the chest and back and the real version on the bottom of his feet), and once even a dribble of whisky. He looked healthy enough but he couldn't kick the fever and his cough sounded ugly. Finally we took him to the clinic where they prescribed 5 days of penicillin injections. This means taking him to the clinic three times a day. 

Every morning at 6 AM, every afternoon at 2 PM, and every evening at 8 PM, Tom and I climb into the car and drive the 1 Km. (half mile) down to the clinic. The clinic person is rarely there on time so I will call them up or go to their house to remind them that it is time for injections. I'm not the only one there. To keep things simple, the clinic schedules all injections to take place at the same time. This is good for them, perhaps somewhat good for us since we know the nurse is supposed to be there at a certain time, but also not so good because it means a bunch of sick people loaded with germs and little regard for personal space have all gathered in one small area.

Usually I try to wait outside so there is some fresh air helping to blow away icky bacteria. Standing outside is better for Joseph in another way too. He recognizes the treatment room now. As soon as we enter the room, his little face scrunches up and he begins to fuss. He knows what's coming next.

So, the other evening, I arrived at the clinic and there was already some delay because the clinic had run out of syringes and the medical officer was hustling from room to room trying to locate some. It was dark and drizzly. I stood under the eaves of the clinic so as to avoid the worst of the rain, with a blanket thrown over Joseph's head to keep him dry. The treatment room was filled with people and even more were crowded around the doorway along with me.

I had been standing there about five or ten minutes when something landed on my neck. Something soft and rubbery. I pushed it off immediately and willed my heart to keep beating. My first thought was that it might have been a gecko. Every once in a while a gecko will fall from the ceiling when either through love or war, they get too frisky and lose their footing. 

Gecko picture taken by Tom.
You can see more of his African Creature photos by clicking here and looking at the photo gallery

I fumbled with my BlackBerry to find the flashlight app to see what it was that had hit me, and more importantly where it had gone next.

Then I spotted it. Crawling up the wall in its unique hoppity, creepy way. A bat!

This is not the same bat. This is one that was photographed about a year ago on our front porch. I was so shaken this past evening after my close call that I couldn't get my camera working in time.

All the ladies standing in and around the clinic found my adventure quite entertaining. At least I did some good that night.

It has now been 24 hours so I'm reasonably certain I'm not going to grow fangs. My good friend in Belgium asked that if I do begin to sparkle to please eat the goats and not the children. With the adorable specimens we have around that may be a challenge.

Almost Exactly One Year Ago: Life, or Something Like It

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Adventures in Shopping

So, earlier this month Tom took off for the bush with some friends of ours. He was invited to be part of a preaching/teaching team that went so far in the Zambian bush they were nearly in Angola. Take a look at the map below, keeping in mind that Zambia is about the size of Texas. (International readers, I apologize that that doesn't really work as a frame of reference for you.--Texas is our second largest state.) The story of his trip will be coming soon.

Because he was gone for ten days this meant we skipped two shopping days. By the time we were able to make it to Mansa it had been over two weeks since we had shopped. Old Mother Hubbard's cupboards were BARE.

Tom only got home on Saturday morning so our first opportunity to shop was on Monday. Not wanting to have to get back on the road on Friday again just to get back on schedule, we decided to buy two weeks worth of food.

I filled four carts with food and supplies. Even though I'd left my carefully crafted list at home, I managed to finish the whole thing in around 1 hour with the help of a couple phone calls to Jasmine. Before going through the check out lane, I went to the manager's office to pay our grocery bill for last month. 
Rather than paying cash each week we use a business card and pay our bill at the end of each month. Just as we finished counting out the pile of cash*, the power went off. Thankful I had remembered to slip my headlamp into my purse that morning, I turned it on and we waited in the dim light for power to be restored. 
About 15 minutes later the store decided to turn on their generator. We could now see, but there was still no progress on our bill being paid. We soon found out why. None of the computers in the store had come back up. Managers were rushing around trying to figure out the problem but they couldn't fix it. A whole hour went by before regular power came back on and the computers began to reboot.

* our largest Kwacha bill is only worth $10 so even $200 is a decent size stack--you can imagine the stack needed to pay for a month's worth of food for 30 people

Once the computers were on, the cashier slowly began scanning our purchases and we loaded them carefully into our reusable shopping bags.When packing our groceries into the bags, we have to be careful so they survive the bumpy ride home.

Finally, everything was scanned and packed. I handed the manager our business card so he could process our payment and then place the new purchase on the car. Trouble was--the card wouldn't work. He scanned it again and again before it finally went through. Breathing a sigh of relief, I turned to go. But no! That was for the bill. Now we had to pay for this purchase. Again he struggled to scan the card. Again and again he ran it through the machine until the computer responded and then spat out our receipt. and what a receipt it was!

Sandra was our shopping buddy that day
 When we finally exited the store and into the fresh air, we had been in the store for 4 hours!

Back in December when Tom and I went to Lusaka, we popped into the grocery store there for a few items that can't be found in Mansa. I had jotted them down in my planner.

This is my cart when I reached the check out stand. 

There seems to be more than five items in my cart. Does this ever happen to you?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions

I want to set up an FAQs page on this blog to help answer some of the very common questions people have about what we do here in Zambia, how we got here, what our mission is for and to the people of Zambia, etc.

A high school student wrote me saying that she wants to do a class presentation on our family. This gives me the perfect opportunity to compile some questions and post them in a series and eventually get them onto a page at the top of the blog. 

Please let me know if you have any questions to add to my list or if I can further clarify answers I give here.

Why Africa?

In the late 90's Africa was entering the news more and more. Story after story highlighted the problems the continent faced with warring tribes and factions, poverty and lack of development and worst of all, HIV and AIDS which were sweeping the continent leaving behind a trail of orphans. 

In 1996, I had been reading accounts of missionaries who were working in Africa and it sounded really interesting. After working in Mexico as missionaries for three years (our first three children were born during this time), we had been in Texas for 4 years. While we hadn't been idle and had always kept busy with many different mission projects, I thought there might be more out there for us to do still.

When I broached the subject with Tom, he brought up the very valid point that we had five small children (and another on the way) and was Africa really the right place to take such a large family?
I shelved the idea and carried on with the big job of raising my family, supporting my husband as he worked two jobs and learned a new craft. I was homeschooling my oldest three and nursing a newborn and taking care of two toddlers as well. Life was full and busy.

A year later, Tom took a job in a town across the state and went out there ahead of us for a month. When the kids and I moved out with him, I found that he had had a life-changing moment somewhere there. He told me he felt that God was calling us to be missionaries in Africa.

We've often talked about why God called us at different times and I feel that part of it was so that when we encountered trials and troubles there would always be a sense of teamwork and shared vision.--We had both been given the direction and purpose. We were in this together!

Tom and I are both from missionary families and had lived in four of the 7 continents. Adding Africa to that list would be an exciting new challenge.

Now we knew which part of world we were headed to. We only had to choose which of the 50+ nations would be our new home. And what we'd be doing, and how we'd support ourselves. And were we crazy to be even considering this at all? Details, details. 

Stay tuned for the next question next week.

Exactly One Year Ago: Travel Fun
Almost Exactly Two Years Ago: Henry

Sunday, January 22, 2012

SIMC--Noah's Ark was Full

Children's church started off with the usual action songs

The kids paid close attention as Tom started the story

Noah and his 'sons' built the ark

Not sure what was happening here.....
....but Beauty sure enjoyed it. Peter was not sure.
P.S. did you know Peter and Beauty are siblings?

Then it was time for the animals to board the ark.
First the lions.

Then the dogs.
Finally all the animals were loaded in the ark

After a long voyage, the animals hopped free
Henry (center) closed church with a prayer which included thanking Jesus for Jesus.

 Join more bloggers from around the world:

Unknown Mami

Exactly Two Years Ago: Fab Friday Foto--one of my favorites

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Review: The Odds by Stewart O'Nan

The Odds by Stewart O'Nan is the fiction story of a couple who have to come to the end of their ropes both in their marriage and their finances. They head to Niagra Falls and a honeymoon suite, not as a way to rekindle their love life, but to try to beat the system in the casino and find a way to survive bankruptcy.

I found this a hard read--not a long read since it only took me a day or two--but it was painful. I could see reflections of me and my marriage in the characters. Not to say that my marriage is in trouble, but any relationship has to be carefully tended to make sure it thrives instead of stagnating and the author captured perfectly the inertia that can infiltrate a marriage.--the habits that seem small at the beginning, but slowly erode the ties that bind.

There weren't many plot turns and twists, and I found the casino part mildly interesting but a little hard to follow. 

Then, the ending caught me off guard. It wasn't what I was expecting.

Would I recommend this book? Probably not completely, but I didn't hate it either. 

I received a digital galley from Penguin Group, U.S.A for reviewing. My opinions, as always, are my own.
I am not an Amazon affiliate.

Exactly Two years Ago: Say What?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cooking the Old Fashioned Way

So, rembember last year when the electric company threatened that we would have no power for 20 days during the day? and then we had it anyway? Well, they've done it again! Only this time it was a promise, and they followed through. 

The crazy thing is that they are doing this work during rainy season when we lose power frequently anyway due to storms and rainy conditions. So, we are not only losing power when a storm hits, or when there isn't enough power to go around. Now, we lose it three days a week. I did a guest post yesterday about one of the blessings we can draw from this experience. Go ahead and read it if you didn't get a chance yet. 

A brazier

Things got a bit worse though last week when we ran out of gas for our stove. Add to this that the bakery that supplies our bread is dependent on the same power source as we are. We were faced with rationing the bread in case we couldn't get some for a while.

Our solar ovens also haven't worked well during the rains. We'll be glad to get back to using them in a few months, but for now they're packed away.

The evening we ran out of gas I decided on a nice, one-pot lentil dish for dinner. When your 'stove' is a pile of coals in a flimsy metal dish, you want to limit your pots.

I prepped all the ingredients in the kitchen before carrying them out to the porch on a tray. I felt all fancy as I laid out my mise en place. (And, yes I had to Google how to spell that.)

Waiting for the coals to be just right is probably the hardest part because putting a large pot on top too soon could put out the fire and stop the heat. The holes in the side of the brazier do help to keep oxygen flowing somewhat. Once I put the pot on top I just had to keep stirring from time to time to prevent burning. If the coals seemed to be cooling, I would remove the pot and taking the brazier by its handle I would swing it from side to side like an altar boy with incense--only harder and faster--to shake off the ashes and add oxygen to the fire.

Then we spent the evening waiting and relaxing. I didn't get any pictures of the finished product because it was quite late and dark before we ate. And, as delicious as the lentils (with rice) were, they weren't exactly photogenic. 

God has been good to us during this time of energy (all types) shortages. He's been giving me a clear mind during working hours so I'm actually getting a fair amount of work done. Thanks for all the prayers and kind words you've been sending my way. You make me smile!

Exactly Two Years Ago: You Just Never Know --if you ever struggle with your bank read this.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Learning How to Pause Life for a Moment

JDaniel4sMom has a nice weekly feature about slowing down and learning to pause life for a moment. She invites other bloggers to guest post. I was supposed to share a post ages ago, but somehow life never slowed down long enough for me to get to it. How's that for irony?
So, I'm happy to finally be guest posting there today.  Please go and have a read.

Those of you with small children should look around her blog. She has really nice ideas for preschool activities. There are even a few giveaways to enter--just don't win, 'cause I'm trying to. ;)

If you have clicked over here from JDaniel4sMom's blog, welcome! Thank you for visiting my corner of the world. Be sure to come back tomorrow and I'll share photos of how we cook when there is no stove available.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Africa's Next Top Model?

The other day as we sorted through donated clothes, we came across the most adorable outfit for a baby girl. It was a sundress, with matching hat and diaper cover. Adorned with red, white and blue stars and stripes, it would be perfect for the Fourth of July, if that were actually a holiday over here.

Anyway, we couldn't wait to dress Naomi up in the teeny-tiny dress. Still slightly big for her, we put it on anyway. And then, of course it was time for a Photo Shoot!

She looked so beautiful with the backdrop of the green grass. The sun hat covered up her bald head and made her just a bit cuter.

Then, as I stood her up to take another shot, the excitement of playing Baby Super Model proved too much and she was visited by the Ghost of Milk Past. 

Even with regurgitated milk on her face, she's adorable. Don't you agree?

Exactly One Year Ago: Randomness in my City on Sunday

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Honey, Honey

My daughter recently sent this photo from Secret to Humor is Surprise* to my son. It brought back some funny memories.

You see, when my kids were little, they were a little squeamish about eating the spots on the banana that have gotten a bit over-ripe. Being a really good (and really smart) mom, I told them they were honey spots and, since all children love honey--who wouldn't after watching an episode or thirty dozen of Winnie the Pooh?--they ate those bananas right up. 

This little white lie meant I could buy the cheaper bananas and even leave them sitting on the counter for awhile without worrying about them getting too squishy. The squishier, the more honey**! I couldn't lose!

I don't remember how old my kids were when they finally discovered the truth about bananas but they were old enough to shoot me looks of pure disappointment at the fact that their beloved mother had deceived them. Bananas are not really a source of honey. 

More importantly, they learned that moms don't always tell the truth. It was a dark day in the Morrow household. Some of them may still hold a grudge--I'm pretty sure T.J does. 

For my part though, I have no regrets. I would do it again in a heartbeat. And that's one of the things that makes me a great mom!

Have you ever deceived your kids for their own good?

*While this page on Facebook has some truly funny stuff, much of it is inappropriate or as they say on the Interwebs, Not Suitable for Work. Read at your own peril.

**Have no fear, my children were never in any danger of bodily harm. A bubbling banana was thrown away--all others were fair game for snacks or baking.

 Exactly Two Years Ago: Invited to a Ball

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Look Back at 2011

So, I got this update all ready to send you over the weekend, and was ready to hit publish on Monday when our internet went down--yes, again!! Anyway, here is the look back at the good, the inspirational, the bad, and the adventure! Enjoy!
After ringing in the New Year with the kids, I was reminded that I was indeed in Africa when not even a week into January, I was stuck down with malaria again. We found out what may be the kids' least favorite video. We prepared for our first ever family trip to the States since 2002. We had a sixteen hour bus ride, a 10 hour flight to London, some time for sightseeing there, before another 10 hour flight to Houston and our reunion with the rest of our family. We had a lovely time in Texas and Alabama, at a church conference and then visiting with relatives and friends

I started February off with a reminder to please, Give the Gift of Life. After a couple weeks of much needed Family Fun, we headed back to Zambia and the Real World. I was so happy to be back with my babies though whether I was watching them play with toys or water. Reality hit hard at the end of the month, and we called out for help.

In March, a new baby joined our home--though not the kind you'd expect--and a harrowing experience left me wondering if I was fit to look after anyone or thing at all. Then, while still waiting to see if Joshua would be able to join our household, a much needier child came to our door. We had to take him in! Tom's fascination with snakes continued--coming much too close for comfort at one point. Snakes aren't the only thing Tom and I differ about--I shared our travel differences here. I battled with the Boogey Man, but since I'm still here to tell the story, I won! and that was in big part to having all of you by my side. I like-a you! The kids of the orphanage, like Peter and Nathan also kept my spirits up. When Tom left for a trip to the U.S, I counted my blessings instead of crying.

The very last day of March, we took in three new babies, I introduced them here, so the month of April was off to a rip-roaring start. My days carried on in a 'normal' way, looked for the benefits of my temporary life of solitude, and complained good-naturedly when things bugged me. I wrote about my weekly shopping adventures. Then we got word of a big challenge we would need to face, which later led me to reflect on God's Sense of Humor. We did a photo shoot with the kids, which with 21 kids, you can be sure led to bloopers. The merriment continued with a Happy Easter celebration. Life took a tragic turn around us, but we kept our eyes on Him, even when precious Joshua went Home to Heaven.

In May, I held a party that no one showed up for, but the cake was amazing! My kids told stuff about me. I opened up about some of the struggles of parenting orphans. Tom was still in the States, but we kept love alive. Just because Tom was away, didn't mean the snake adventures ended. Life carried on, the nannies learned to dance, the kids learned a life skill, and a new baby graced our home. Denny continued to improve, though this came at a price. I shared some of my childhood kitchen memories. With Tom away, I took over his Bible class. The weight of looking after so many children was tough. Grace made me smile with her attempts at fighting off sleep. Meg came to volunteer for the summer and became a very dear friend as well. I was so glad for her presence when as the month came to a close some very sad events took place. A wonderfully sweet baby got sick out of the blue and then tragically passed away. Then, I got the worst news of my life.

June should have been a happy time for me, with Tom's return from the U.S, but instead it was spent preparing for and attending a funeral. Life in Africa still kept me guessing though as odd things were delivered to my gate. Coming home to the orphanage, after my time in New York, I found new residents--some human, some not.

Then before I knew it, July had arrived. Life continued at a Fever Pitch with new babies--some very sick--and a house full of volunteers. Life was good, but I didn't get to share much about it online because I fell off the cyber map when our internet was knocked out for three weeks.

At the beginning of August I tried to sum up an entire month in one post. That was crazy! I also eulogized a very special little girl. I traveled some more, including via bus where at one point I took on some drunken passengers. We welcomed a new group of volunteers to the orphanage. One of the projects they helped with made a bunch of little girls really happy. Johnny continue to challenge us. We celebrated the birthdays of four of the kids. When the last visitors of the season left, I was faced to acknowledge the pressures I'd been under. We learned how to harness the power of the sun to make something really important for the orphanage. Just when I thought life was easing up a bit, a new baby joined our home again. Two of our babies with eating issues, improved.

I was very excited in September to receive my first ever blog critique. As well as things were going with the children, I was still struggling with staffing issues. It helped to reflect on a project we'd done in August and how grateful the children were. Then, the creepie crawlies returned! I was not a happy camper. As the world remembered September 11, I shared where we were in the days that followed. I took a special trip to Lusaka with Jasmine to help her celebrate her 16th birthday. She was reunited with a special friend while there. September 20 was election day in Zambia. It was a bit scary, but everything turned out alright. We began holding Children's Church with the kids each Sunday, starting off with the story of Joseph first of all. We wound up the month by giving you an opportunity to help with a special project, and you came through amazingly!

October rolled around, all dry and dusty--though the rains were beginning to appear. Our family continued to fall in love with Joseph. I had been taking part in an online Bible study that was restoring my joy. I learned even more about joy by watching the children dance one morning. We began giving the kids an opportunity to take turns traveling with us to do the weekly shopping. Johnny was one of the first, and he did not disappoint. This is his story: Part one & part two. I loved seeing our children form into such a beautiful family! I was reminded again, I am just a manager of God's work. And, yet another baby joined our family and we decided to name her Naomi and she, before long had taken up permanent residence in our hearts. Shortly after this, Tom and I traveled to Mansa for an overnight stay to collect our new chickens. Our experience with the hotel and restaurant made for fun reading--knowing I would write about it made it less horrendous. We started a new form of gardening which should prove to be a big help in the long run. 

My first post of November was a costume contest from Halloween--which sadly, I did not win. A critter got into my office with destructive results. I reflected on our uncertain future. Babies, of all types were everywhere! I also reflected on the laws of the universe. Then, disaster struck again, quite literally. The full devastation took time to come in come in but God took care of us. Getting back on top of everything gave us a few crazy days.  But, in the midst of everything, my bedroom got a much needed makeover. We celebrated the birthdays of several of the kids with cupcakes they'd made themselves.I jumped right into Thanksgiving preparations that were wonderfully traditional but the very next day Tom was headed out on a very African adventure.The month ended with happy news about Naomi.

December started off with one of the most exciting events of my life. Then after a very busy week in Lusaka, we got home to find our internet was out--again! A week later I was back online. We got busy with Christmas preparations including a tree and Christmas cards. Santa Claus made a few appearances both in Mansa and Kazembe--boy, was that an adventure! Christmas week wasn't entirely the joyful time it could have been, with one very sad event, but also a small Christmas miracle. Despite everything, the kids were able to have a wonderful Christmas Day celebration.

All in all, it was a good year. There were some moments I wouldn't have chosen to pass through, but they have made me stronger and brought about God's plan in some way--even if I haven't seen all of it yet.

Now, let's see what 2012 has in store for us. Bring it on!

2010 Year in Review: Click here
Exactly One Year Ago (if this were published on time): The Three Stooges
Exactly Two Years Ago:  With a Little Help from Our Friends

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Garden Glories

I thought I'd share a few photos of our landscape gardening project this morning. Nothing like some greenery to start the year off right,  correct? 

Mary Mary quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells and cockle shells

And pretty maids all in a row.

I truly didn't mean to make everyone in the northern hemisphere jealous today. I merely wanted to share how I can just walk out of my kitchen, barefoot if I like, and clip fresh herbs and leaves straight out of my garden. It's delightful! Sorry if things are brown and bare and wintry where you are......Did you enjoy a White Christmas though? I'd say we've even.

I'm linking to Sundays in my City by Unknown Mami and Fresh Mommy by Tabitha

Unknown Mami

Exactly Two Years Ago: A Funny Witch Doctor Photo

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Shiny and Sparkly

Months and months ago (nearly two years ago, apparently) I saw a handy idea for jewelry storage. It was posted by Creative Junkie*. It was so long ago that I had to run a search for the original post. Not having access to a Michaels or Hobby Lobby or any crafty store, I made a few adjustments to the design.
(*Side note: This blogger is a provocative writer--I enjoyed the idea, I take no responsibility for the words attached to it)

A few months went by, and I finally got organized enough to start the project. I wanted to do it as a mother/daughter activity. Jasmine and I found some wood and got our handyman to cut two squares out. Then we covered the wood with a neutral fabric and added a strip of patterned fabric to the bottom half.

And that is where my creativity ended. I didn't get organized to finish the project. I had all the hardware I needed, but the wood was hard and my resolve was not, so the project stagnated.

A couple more months went by, and we 'found' the project during a room clean up. It was moved to Tom's workshop where it was promptly lost again.

A couple more months went by and Tom rediscovered the project and all its pieces. Joy! It was moved to his worktable.

Then, a few days ago, I was working at my computer when Tom walked in with the finished product. I was overjoyed! It's always a good day when something you set out to do is completed by a helpful elf (AKA loving husband). 

I immediately hung it on the wall and placed my jewelry in their proper places.

And here is the final display:

Isn't it beautiful? Tom said it looked much better than he imagined. "Like something wealthy!"

And that is a wonderful thing indeed!

Exactly Two Years Ago: I'll Be Home for Christmas--how technology has changed how we celebrate Christmas.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Other Side of Christmas Week--part two

For part one of this story, click here.

After the nurse carried Gladys away, I sat back on the bed stunned. I picked up my phone and sent a Blackberry chat message to Debbie. She cried with me and I was so grateful again for God sending her to me at just the right moment.
Then, I had to call Meg. Gladys was more her baby than mine. She didn't answer her phone--later she told me that she saw that the call was coming from me and didn't want to here the words--so I left a voice message and felt sick to my stomach after.

I wondered how the other ladies in the ward were viewing me. In the space of 3 hours, two moms had lost babies but the reactions were very different. I had very little outward show of grief. I shed tears but they were quiet and mostly unseen. The other mother had cried aloud and at length. I voiced this question to Debbie and she reminded me that "we do not grieve as those who have no hope". Very true.
Zambians are also very social people. Part of the outward grieving is to let their family and friends know that they are sad and in need of special comfort. The entire village will gather at the sound of the wailing and wail also to show camaraderie and community.

I wanted to hold out hope for Joseph, but as I looked at him, lying so very still on the stark hospital bed, I wasn't sure. We still didn't know what was attacking his body. He had shown some improvement after some fluids via IV, but once the drip stopped he looked wan and weak again. 
Despite a negative malaria test, the decision was made to start him on quinine injections. Quinine is sa lifesaving, but extremely harsh drug. It can have terrible side effects--one of which is deafness--and is usually reserved for emergency cases. I hated that we had to give that to tiny Joseph, but there was nothing I could do.
He was also started on a second, more powerful antibiotic. His little body was being bombarded and I just hoped that we would see improvement soon.

Later that morning we were moved to a private room. I was so thankful! The room was tiny, but the bed had linens on it, there was a sink in the corner--no running water, but I could bring water in and do dishes--and a couch which turned out to be useless since it had no seat to it. That was OK. Remember my packing list from yesterday's post? One of the things I packed was a folding camp chair. Lifesaver!

I have to say here how grateful I was (and am) for our friends. The hospital was an hour away from home, so impractical for Tom to come back once he'd dropped us off. But, our good friends, Sanjay and Jackie stay there in that town. Three times a day they brought meals. I was so grateful! There was really nowhere else to get food. Jackie was a star--not only bringing a sandwich, but bringing full cooked meals. She even remember napkins and everything! It made such a difference to have that break in my day when meals and some conversation walked through my door.

Meanwhile, Joseph was still quite sick. He was so uncomfortable and seemed to be in pain, but didn't want to be held much or touched. He just lay on his back tossing his head back and forth and whimpering softly. He had no energy to drink so every two hours I had to coax him to take some milk from the bottle and then slowly pour more into his mouth bit by bit. 

There would be times when his eyes would roll around and I couldn’t tell if he was just tired or was dropping into something worse. My nerves were totally shot after caring for Gladys and how that had ended. I searched Joseph’s face endlessly hoping to see a spark of improvement.
The hospital still hadn’t taken any blood to test. The stool sample I’d given them had been corrupted. So, after 3 days, we still had no idea what was wrong.
Then, miraculously, Joseph began to show interest in his food again. He still couldn’t drink much at a time, but he wanted to—and that means all the difference in the world. He also tolerated me holding him again. I was able to pour all my love into him with cuddles and kisses. He even gave me half a smile. Nectar for my soul!
After a third night on an IV drip, he was finally rehydrated. With regular feedings I was able to maintain his fluid levels. It was Christmas Eve and I was hopeful we could go home. With careful instructions on his medications still needed (they could all be given orally) I was confident I could finish is convalescence at home. I just wanted to be at home with my family!
Thankfully, the doctor agreed. I bundled Joseph up, gathered our many survival possessions and his all important medicines and climbed into a taxi for the hour long ride home. As a special gift from God, my taxi driver was playing Christmas music and I sang along and felt a bit of Christmas spirit entering my soul.
Coming home after time away and jumping back into a household is always a challenge. When you’re doing it on the eve of arguably the biggest holiday of the year, when you are completely sleep deprived, well, let’s just say it is a recipe for disaster.
My family had done a wonderful job in my absence, baking some of my favorite cookies and wrapping all the presents for the little kids.
Later that night, as we cleared up from dinner, Jasmine asked me why someone had put away all the cookies but left about six still on the tray. I thought that was weird too, and then it dawned on me—Buzz had struck again! That naughty, rascally dog had eaten a few dozen cookies right off the tray. No more cookies for Christmas Day! Unfortunately, that was the proverbial last straw for me. I began to weep. All the pressure and struggle of an entire week culminated in that moment. We had to have the special Christmas cookies! Or Christmas would be ruined! 

Tom very wisely bundled me off to bed with the sage advice that it would all be better in the morning. And, do you know? He was right. I got up every couple hours to feed Joseph (he was now crying for his food. Hallelujah!) but was still able to wake up early. I stuffed stockings, set out a special breakfast, and wrapped the few presents our family would receive, just in time for my big kids and hubby to wake up. Then, we were able to do our Children's Christmas Party. 

Day by day, Joseph improved. His trademark grins returned. One day he even giggled! He giggled! He was on his way back! Aside from his half shaved head (we really ought to do the other and create a baby Mr. T), you can't even tell he was sick. 

Thank you all for the encouraging comments you've been leaving me. I really appreciate your encouragement. Having a cyber community means the world to me!
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