January 31, 2009 at 10:17 pm | Posted in adoption process, family | 3 Comments
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(Lisa here)

Everything has been ‘on hold’ today since both little guys have fevers.    Zach wants to be held constantly.   His breathing is “raspy” (that’s a medical term for ‘scares a mom to death’)  Philip’s nose is a faucet.   Neither has an appetite.    There’s nothing on my agenda except taking care of them anyway, but I’m sorry it has to be this sort of taking care of.

I’m not sure what the etiquette on this is, but here’s my confession:

Before they were here with us, I wondered, “Will I feel the same about them as I do my other kids?”   “Will it be forced or will it come natural?”     Today as I’m pouring more juice or rocking a whimpering baby or taking a temperature again or measuring milliliters of acetaminophen, I’m relieved to recognize that my heart is truly and naturally captured in a maternal way.   No faking it or forcing it.   I find myself nuzzling them and comforting them and fretting over them in ways that are familiar and that provide a sort of internal maternal measuring stick for me.     Before, I wondered if I’d be genuine at this.    I wondered if I could ‘do it’ — not the tasks but the heart.   Now, there’s no doubt:   I’m not babysitting and hoping that some mother stuff will eventually kick in.    It’s here.

As a friend recently pointed out, you can’t just pick a kid up off the playground and love them.   It has to be from God.   And so it is.  Another gift from God ~ Protective, sweet, authentic mother love.

If you would, pray that they get well soon.

Pictures are of a few days ago when they were feeling perkier.

Zach and Daddy

Zach and Daddy

Philip and Daddy

Philip and Daddy

a return to the classics

January 27, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Posted in adoption resources | 2 Comments

There are countless benefits to having little children……… again.     One of the unexpected ones is that I get to enjoy ‘little kid music’ all over again.    How many thousands of times did we listen to the Sandy Patti’s “Friendship Company” cassette in our Dodge caravan on the way to the soccer game while the kids were strapped in licking Dairy Queen??

While I do love that collection, the oldie that I’m enjoying most recently is Steve Green’s ‘Hide’em in Your Heart’.     I had forgotten how simple the tunes are and that they are a great way to get scripture into young minds (and older ones too).

Lord knows, I need to hear ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you’ and ‘Keep your tongue from evil’   these days!   Philip and Zachary spend a little bit of time each day listening to this disc during their ‘room time’ while I walk on the treadmill.      I highly recommend it if you want to get back to basics and travel down Memory Lane all at the same time.     This particular version includes the cd and the dvd of the original production.   (Warning for the dvd:  Contains pure 1990’s fashions.  Luckily, your kids are too young to realized that you actually dressed like that back then.)

Brotherly love

January 25, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Posted in family | 1 Comment
fun times

fun times

Sometimes these two laugh and giggle and chase each other around the house.   I only wish I had some audio to include with this happy picture!

laundry basket or motorcar?  You decide!

laundry basket or motorcar? You decide!

The boys discovered the laundry basket the other day and it’s given them tons of fun.   Ruth has graciously shoved them all over the vinyl flooring, while they shriek and giggle.    Even after she tires, they just sit there loving every minute of being in the basket.


January 25, 2009 at 7:50 am | Posted in devotional, family | Leave a comment
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Months ago, in the middle of Kampala we faced a medical emergency with Kelsey.     You can read the story here.      Tonight, in the middle of Lakeville, we faced the re-run.

We don’t know what Kels is allergic to, but whatever it is – it’s not kidding around.     What starts as mild uneasiness and nausea becomes hives, swelling, and labored breathing within just a few minutes.

I remembered the last attack clearly and knew we needed to work quickly tonight.     All the way to the hospital I prayed for Kelsey’s air passages….. for the Spirit to comfort and calm her as she focused on breathing……for the staff on duty…for green lights on the way, even!

When we walked into reception at the ER, a pediatric nurse ‘happened’ to be standing right there.    When Nurse Jeremy saw Kelsey’s swollen eyes, her chest covered in pink  hives and heard her rasping breaths, he said – “Follow me, we’re getting started now!”  Jeremy was fantastic and he got Kelsey the help she needed within minutes.

Long story short – we’re home now and Kelsey’s breathing is normal.

I should be sleeping, but I right now I’m pretty amazed at a few things.

1) I’m blown away at how fast and efficiently Kelsey was seen and treated.  They took this very seriously.

Ever gone to the ER?   ‘Nuf said.   But tonight the path was wide open for her and the staff was even waiting at the reception desk for her.    The cocktail of drugs improved her symptoms within two minutes.    Kels is now the owner of an epi-pen and we’ll follow up with an allergist soon to get a better grip on this situation.    Jeremy also walked us through what to do if there’s a ‘next time’ and it includes 911 and paramedics.     Yikes!

2) The episode in May is now put into perspective through the lens of American medical professionals.

The attack in May was worse than this one.  Her breathing was frighteningly difficult  but it took longer to get help and, while the care seemed fine at the time,  it was significantly LESS care than she got tonight.     Amazingly, Kelsey DID improve and we went along on our trip,  hardly giving it a second thought.

Looking back, I believe what sustained Kels in Africa was the prayers of friends.   In the lobby of our hotel, our friend Thompson stood over our gulping daughter, quietly praying for her.     By the time we arrived at the clinic, she was more able to breathe.     We knew it was God’s favor that had intervened for Kelsey, but I didn’t realize the scope of that situation until tonight when i saw the effects of drugs on her body.    I saw the concern in the face of a skilled nurse.   I heard the instructions of how and when to administer an epi-pen.   These symptoms weren’t going to simply melt away on their own.

The drugs were great.   God’s provision for Kesley tonight was obvious.  But what I didn’t know back in May was that Thompson’s prayer was just as powerful and just as life-saving as that cocktail was tonight.

It’s been a re-run of a nasty allergic reaction and a re-run of God’s divine mercy towards our girl.   Second-time favor is just as sweet at the first time around and I’m and little wiser now and doubly grateful.

things to wallow in

January 19, 2009 at 10:46 pm | Posted in adoption process, family | 3 Comments
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Some days this job is harder than I signed up for.    Really.   It’s exhausting.   It requires insight and patience and self-control beyond what I have developed.    I can get a little lost in all the ‘adjustment’ we’re going through.     So, on occasion I’ve gone so far as to wallow in self-pity.    (It’s ugly, trust me, but true.)

But tonight there’s a whole new thing that I’m dwelling on.

Today was hard.     Philip has a very hard time with disappointment, so if Zachary takes his toy it causes an emotional meltdown.    If he is asked to finish his banana and he’s full, he wails.     If I close the bathroom door for ninety seconds of privacy, he is devastated.     Most of my day is spent dealing with this singular issue.   Comforting him and helping him better understand when tears are appropriate vs. when words are appropriate is all-consuming.    By dinner tonight, I was  practically wailing and definitely wallowing!

But a couple of things happened this evening that have blown some wind into my sails.

At dinner, Tague said, ‘Let’s pray’.   But before he could start, Philip put his little hands together and surprised us all by leading the prayer!    It was completely unsolicited and in the “baby home” style where the pray-er prays a line and everyone else repeats that line in unison.

There’s was a short intro, followed by the prayer, going like this:

Philip:   “Hands together”    Family repeats: “Hands Together”
Philip:  “Eyes closed”      Family repeats:  “Eyes Closed”
Philip:   “Dear Jesus……”    Family repeats:    “Dear Jesus……”
Philip:   “Thank you for our food”…… Family repeats:   “Thank you for our food”……..
Philip:   “Thank you for our family”…….Family repeats:   “Thank you for our family”……
Philip:    “Thank you for our house”…….Family repeats:    ‘Thank you for our house”…..
Philip:    “Amen”      Family repeats: “Amen”

We were just blown away.   We’d just witnessed a really beautiful moment where our cautious and shy son felt confident and comfortable in the family and led us all in his own little prayer.

And, if that weren’t enough……..

Later, Philip was running in circles and, as happens when you’re dizzy, he collided with the wall.    His head bounced off the wall and he started screaming and crying in pain.   Only this time – instead of the typical wailing and flailing, tears were squirting out his eyes and he was yelling   “Mommy!!!…….Mommy!!!!!!    Mommy!!!!!!”       This is a huge deal because he was calling for me to comfort to his pain.      He trusted me with his hurt.   His little arms were stretched out for me to hold him.       This never seemed like a big deal when I was parenting his older siblings.     But that’s because they had known me before they knew how to breathe.    My voice had always been familiar and safe.   My arms felt natural around them in good times and in bad.    But Philip has only known my voice and my arms for a few weeks of his little life.    But somehow – even though I’m tired and there are some days that I don’t do this so well, Philip believes that my voice and my arms are safe and he cried out for me tonight.   It only lasted less than a minute and then he was off and playing again…. but, I’m wallowing…. or maybe I’ll call it ‘basking’ …..in some really good stuff tonight!

100th post!

January 15, 2009 at 5:14 pm | Posted in adoption process | 4 Comments


Today’s post will mark our 100th entry in this blog.   (funny what your blog stats dashboard will tell you).     So I feel sort of extra responsible to write something …. well…. valuable.    Truth is, something’s been stirring around in me for a few days already and as I was tell some friend’s about it at lunch yesterday, I thought – “I’ve gotta share this!”

The cold, hard facts are that this adoption cost us over $28,000.  That’s a chunk of change!    That’s a nice car.   That’s a four season porch.   That’s a few semesters of college.  It was honestly a big obstacle to us even considering adoption for a while.  Sometimes it’s hard to manage our monthly budget, much less come up with a cool 28k in spare change.

But a good friend of ours told us at the beginning of this journey – ‘Don’t let the money stand in the way.   If you’re called to it, God will do it.”     That thought represented more faith than we really had.     I looked at our bills and I looked at all the kids’ tuition requirements and I looked at the truth that Tague will retire in just over 10 years and I thought that (financially) it was a ridiculous thing to do.   But we did feel called to it.   So – we jumped in the deep end and put our hope in God to throw out a financial life ring!

So – fast forward —

When the first orphanage fees were due – our garage sale covered that payment almost exactly for both boys.

When the second fees were due –  the dessert fundraiser party covered that.

When the visas and passports needed to be purchased, funds came in just before we needed to leave for Uganda.

When we needed to purchase airline tickets to get the boys home, friends donated miles to cover the expenses of our seats.

When we were told we needed to send an additional $400 to the orphanage still to finalize some expenses there, a check arrived in the mail that was $400 —  That day.

When the childcare fees were calculated, 2 checks arrived to cover those almost exactly.

Two days ago, I was opening the mail and there was a note in there from a childhood friend.   I don’t remember the last time i saw this friend…..15+ years ago, maybe?    She and her husband had felt led to be part of what God was doing in bringing our boys into our family and the sent a check to us that represented the very last part of the bill for the whole ball of wax!

It makes me laugh out loud and cry at the same time.

Hear this ….. we did not have the funds to do this.    GOD provided what we needed in the examples above and in others along the way.   Refund checks arrived.  We sold tons of stuff on Craig’s List.   We took spare gold jewelry to those gold people that give you cash on the spot.   We worked the stock market a little bit.    And God motivated you,  His people, to get in on the action.    And it happened.   $28,000 happened.

Are you thinking about adopting a child?   Does it just keep coming up in your mind?   Are you feeling called to do it?   GO FOR IT!!

Remember the Harding boys and have faith that God will give you what you need to bring your child home!!

Finally…. a Christmas card!

January 14, 2009 at 10:26 am | Posted in family | Leave a comment

Our Christmas cards finally hit the mail box today.   Maybe they’re more like ‘Martin Luther King Jr.” cards at this point, but anyway, they’re gone.

We couldn’t manage to print a bunch of letters, so we’ve posted our update letter here (see the Christmas Update tab above).   Enjoy!   And – Merry belated Christmas!

Any good recipes out there?

January 12, 2009 at 2:31 pm | Posted in family | 7 Comments

OK, all you cooks….. I’m in need of some good, kid-friendly recipes!   I seem to have fallen into a rut of cooking the same old stuff for about… um…. 20 years now.     So I’m looking for a ‘fresh voice’ in the kitchen these days.    Here are the requirements:

1) easy to make

2) tastes good

There you go.     Anyone able to help out?    Just leave your recipe in the comment section and share with us all!

Since I’m asking for your help, I’ll include one of my favorites in a show of reciprocity.   I love cooking so this one requires a fair amount of chopping – insists on fresh herbs to make it really work and has a little ‘kick’ to it, which isn’t always kid-friendly.     So…. this recipe doesn’t even comply with my own stated guidelines but I love it and it makes a ton of food – Most of my crew (all but the youngest) love it.   

Happy Ratatouille!


Ratatouille with Sausage

5 garlic cloves (minced)
5 medium button mushrooms (quartered)
1-2 diced medium zucchini
5 sprigs Italian parsley (chopped)
4 sprigs basil (chopped)
1 smallish – medium onion (diced)
1 can drained tomatoes
¾ cup chicken stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 medium bell pepper (diced)
1 large egg plant (diced)
¾ pound of old-fashioned, hot sausage  (browned)

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the minced garlic and sauté until the garlic smell intensifies, about one minute.

Add the diced onion and continue to sauté until the turn translucent, about 4 more minutes.
Once the onions are translucent, add 1 Tbs. tomato paste.   (The tomato paste will be in a clump and will take a bit of stirring and pressing to get it to spread out and cover the onions and garlic.)

As you work at spreading the paste out and mixing it with the onions and garlic, the paste will cook and darken in color.   Once some of the paste starts to brown, it’s time to add the stock.  (1 minute?)

Pour in a ¾ cup chicken stock and stir until the broth begins to simmer.  Using your spatula or utensil, scrub the bottom on the pan to release any browned bits of garlic, onion or tomato paste.

Add the diced eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and mushrooms.  Stir to combine thoroughly and cook for 10-12 minutes (covered), stirring every couple minutes to promote even heating.

The eggplant will release a lot of liquid (slowly) into the pot and it’s in this liquid that you’ll want to simmer the other ingredients in.   To evenly cook all the ingredients, you’ll have to stir it to make sure the vegetables   The flavors mix amazingly well during this process.

The eggplant will mostly be falling apart at the point, but the zucchini, bell peppers, and mushrooms should be tender but not yet mushy.

Add the diced tomatoes and stir in.   After about a minute, the tomatoes will have heated through.   Turn the heat down to the lowest setting.

Stir in the chopped parsley and basil.  Add salt and pepper (to taste) and browned sausage.
Makes a lot — maybe enough for 8 adults.     I serve it over rice.

Book Review

January 11, 2009 at 6:41 pm | Posted in adoption resources | Leave a comment

Getting ready to bring a new child into your life is a gigantic process.  And we’ve needed all the help we can get.    A good friend recommended “The Connected Child” by Karyn Purvis and we’ve found it especially helpful.   Since it covers a broad range of issues related to adoption we will probably re-read it over the years as our children’s needs continue to evolve.      Topics include:  Attachment Skills / Children from other countries and cultures / Disarming the fear response /  Building bonds of affection / and much more.     It is a good resource for adoptive parents of any child regardless of their child’s age or background.   It offers practical skills and gives hope and we heartily recommend it!

click here to puchase

click to puchase

First trip to the Zoo and the Conservatory

January 9, 2009 at 8:08 pm | Posted in family | Leave a comment

What a great day yesterday when we took the boys to St. Paul’s Como Zoo and Conservatory.   It’s one of the Harding all-time favorite places in the city and we had a super afternoon.     Here are some highlights –

Zach at the fountain

Zach at the fountain

Philip in his zoo apron

Philip in his zoo apron

Philip in the hollow tree

Philip in the hollow tree

click for more pics!

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