A break through in malnutrition solutions!!

April 28, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Posted in Uganda | Leave a comment
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Doctors Without Boarders has an amazing new solution to help turn back the tide of malnutrition in the lives of suffering children.

Again, since both of our boys suffered through the ills of malnutrition early in their lives, this story really captured me.

Click on the image below for a stunning way to meaningfully help hungry kids.

plumpy nut

plumpy nut

Learn more about Doctor’s Without Boarders and consider making a donation to support this effort.

World Malaria Day

April 25, 2009 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Uganda | Leave a comment
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Kampala billboard

Kampala billboard for mosquito nets (click)

Today, April 25th marks World Malaria Day.    Since our boys are from a part of the world where malaria claims the lives of many children, our senses are heightened about this disease.    Not only that, Philip and Zachary have BOTH had malaria.

The truth about malaria is that it is very common in about half the world, can be deadly for those with weakened immune systems, and it is rampant in some areas of the world (Uganda being one of them).

From the Tropical Disease Research website (Tropical Disease & Research) ~

“Malaria is a leading cause of child mortality in Africa, claiming a life nearly every 30 seconds. Children are at the highest risk for severe malarial illness and death during the first five years of life while their immune systems are developing.”

Check it out and see how you can be involved in moving towards a solution and the eradication of this disease!

Tweet for Malaria

Provide mosquito nets

Swim for malaria

Philip!

April 24, 2009 at 2:18 pm | Posted in family | 1 Comment
Philipo

Philipo

Last week I wrote a little bit about Zach… this week it’s Philip’s turn.  The notes in red are thoughts I have in terms of Philip and adoption / development.

  • Philip is very much a team player and wants to be part of the action and part of the solution most of the time.   (That’s such good news in that he is not choosing to be a loner or choosing to cause trouble, rather he wants to contribute positively.)
  • Philip is gentle most of the time and is affectionate, even apart from prompting. (This is really reassuring to me as it relates to bonding)
  • Philip is imaginative and can amuse himself with a toy, pretending that he’s flying or that he’s an animal.  He’s also really good with puzzles, small motor toys and toys that require logic.  (That’s reassuring as it relates to age appropriate learning abilites.)
  • Philip loves structure and a schedule he can depend on.   It’s important to him to have things happen in an expected way, so we try to create that environment for him to give him a day he can feel safe in.   (Sometimes kids who have lived in an unstable life really need consistency to breed security and internal comfort.)
  • Philip loves going in the car – anywhere.   It doesn’t really matter as long as we’re in the ‘motorcar’!   (and I love that as we are turning onto our street, he recognizes it and says ‘We home!”)
  • Philip has great language skills when he’s relaxed and having fun.   Not so great when he’s upset.   His favorite upset exclamation is “eet-a Zachary” which loosely translated means , “Zachary stole my toy / hit me / is looking at me / is standing in the basket / has a runny nose / is eating a ladybug / etc.”       Hard to decipher sometimes.   (I’m thinking this is probably typical three year old stuff!)
  • Philip loves being outside.   Now that it’s warm, he wants to be outside as much as possible.   He’s very cautious of new things and afraid of the slides, but will do them with some help.    We’re still working on helping him develop courage in many areas.  (like we’ve mentioned in other posts, fear is still strong in him)
  • Philip still wakes up almost every night at least once – sometimes more ~ crying, half asleep and usually saying, “eet-a blanket”.   Go figure.   (Lots of kids have trouble sleeping, but this is one thing that makes me wonder what’s going on in his little restless mind, late in the night when he’s not as aware as during the day?   Dreams?   Memories?   Those fears that push to the front?)
  • Philip loves Veggie Tales (only 2 of them actually) and if we’re not careful, would watch it over and over and over and over all day long.
  • Philip has a great smile and great eyes, as you can see in the picture!  [And a great laugh  ~ which you can’t see in the picture.]

Philip has covered A LOT of ground in his short time as a Harding and is adjusting really, really well.    Still, I find myself looking at every behavior and every response and every quirk with a question in the back of my mind as to whether it has to do with ‘adoption issues’ or if it’s just little-kid stuff?     Adoption books in their attempt to cover it all,  can be scary references, telling you every weird thing that ever happened in an adoptive family.    So, sometimes I feel like I’m walking through the woods at night and am super aware of every little cracking twig or hooting owl.   My ‘hearing’ seems heightened with Philip and while I’m trying to really pay attention, I’m also trying to relax and enjoy the scenery!    The hard work of adoption has almost nothing to do with diapers, spaghettios, reading books to them or baby-proofing the home.   The hard work is helping them emotionally navigate their new reality in  a way that helps them develop a confidence in your love and your faithfulness.    It is surely the stuff that prayers are made of!

Real?

April 19, 2009 at 1:02 am | Posted in adoption issues | 4 Comments
real (rē′əl, rēl)  adj.  ~ existing or happening as or in fact; actual, true, etc.; not merely seeming, pretended, imagined, fictitious, nominal, or ostensible
brothers

brothers

For some reason, I’m getting an inordinate number of questions in public about my boys lately.    Feel free to imagine me climbing up on my soap box as I give you the most recent example:

I am NOT kidding when i tell you that the Target cashier quizzed me for my entire check out the other day – fully within ear shot of my two precious sons sitting in the cart, looking at her with their big brown eyes, soaking up every word.

  • “Do you know who their real mother is?”
  • “Do you know their real African names?”
  • “Are they really brothers?”

I was nice to her.   I even graciously (albeit carefully) answered her questions.   But, I was also internally dumb-struck and my ‘polite’ default setting went into overdrive as I struggled to be kind to her, but at the same time protect my boys from her invasiveness.

Since the word ‘REAL’ seemed very important to her, here are the REAL answers to her questions:

1) I am their real mother.

I understand she was asking a genetics question that had to do with which uterus they grew in.   But, while we honor the role that their birth mothers played in their existence and we thank God for His purposes in their stories – these boys are finally with their real mother.

2) Their real African names are Philip and Zachary.

These are the names they had in Africa long before we knew them.   They were named at Amani Baby Cottage when they arrived and there is no information regarding what they were called prior to that.    In many ways, the day they arrived at Amani was a new birth for each of them.   And sometimes, when God wants to do a new thing in someone’s life, He gives them a new name ~ just ask the apostle Paul or Father Abraham.   Philip and Zachary are the names they learned to respond to as young babies and are the names they will tell you if you ask them, “what is your name?”

3) They really are brothers.

That’s the beauty of adoption.     It creates family, where none was before.   Tague and I are not genetically related.   We have no common blood relatives.   We never have.   Yet, we are related.   It was a legal process that made us related to one another.    And in the same way, Philip and Zachary don’t share a genetic background, but a beautiful legal process has defined them as related.   They are brothers.  They are sons.   They are as related to each other (and to the rest of us) just as much as my husband and I are related to each other.

I was so glad to only have a a few dozen items in that check out line…. who knows what else she would’ve thought to ask had I been there longer!?

Mr. Zach

April 17, 2009 at 8:44 pm | Posted in family, humor | 3 Comments
Zach

Zach

If you were here during the day, this is a sample of what you might hear:

  • What’s in his mouth?!?
  • Did he spill his milk on his pants or is he ‘soaking through’?
  • Is that a choking hazard?
  • He was just here…….
  • Look at mommy’s eyes, Zach…..
  • eeewwwww….. don’t drink the bath water, buddy…….yucky… dirty….
  • Where’s the ora-gel?
  • “A told B, and B told C, I’ll meet you at the top of the Coconut Tree…”
  • Did he hit him or is that scratch there for some other reason?
  • How do I open this baby-proof cabinet again?
  • Be gentle ….. gentle!
  • Is that normal for a one year old?
  • thank you for sharing!
  • say, ‘juice, please
  • Why are his arms wet?!   Is the toilet lid up or down?!?!
  • Please turn on that  Veggie Tale again
  • Open wide!
  • Who wants raisins?
  • Zach!   Stop licking the window!
  • <singing>  “Clean up!  Clean up!  Everybody, everywhere!”
  • Don’t eat that!
  • “JUST GIVE IT TO HIM!”
  • Sshhhhhhh! ~ he’s sleeping
  • Please poke a bite in his mouth while you’re eating your dinner too
  • Who got the diaper bag?
  • Do you smell that?
  • You’re precious, sweet little man!

Home Schooling makes a come back!

April 15, 2009 at 11:51 am | Posted in family | 2 Comments
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A long time ago, I was a home school mom with a gaggle of home schooled kids.   I remember those days with great fondness as we lived every day with our children and enjoyed the rare privilege of having a position of great influence in their forming character.     We taught at home for a total of 11 years, and loved all the benefits of it (even in the times of burn-out, the benefits were clear).

In 2005 I went into the work force and home schooling came to a halt.   Ruth was only in first grade and during her entire early childhood she had seen her siblings having school around the kitchen island.   So when we packed her off to a traditional school wearing her cute little uniform, she understandably felt somewhat cheated.    Since then Ruth has continued to ask about when she could be home schooled.   Work made it impossible for me for a few years.   Then baby boys made it impossible for me in this past year.   But – God has brought me back home and since Ruth has faithfully lobbied for this almost 4 years, NOW is the time for us to enter the home schooling derby again, folks!

Ruth is thrilled.  And what better time to start this adventure than at the end of the year, with only 30 days left to go and with spring springing all around us?    It just begs for us to do math on the deck or have our literature time down by the pond!

The real joy for me is that Ruth really wants to be home.   She’s expressed a longing to be with her brothers more, especially since she’s the sibling that they will live with the longest.   She wants to ‘circle the wagons’ in her life and enjoy time with her family.   Gotta love that in a kid’s heart.

We eagerly start (all over again!) at nap time today!

(here’s a little home school humor to enjoy!)

Welcoming yet another family member

April 6, 2009 at 4:24 pm | Posted in family | Leave a comment
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Today is a milestone as we welcome another one into our family.   Don’t get too nervous…. I’m talking about “Cottontail” the Holland Lop rabbit.

Cottontail

Cottontail

Back in October, Ruthie’s guinea pig, Patches passed on.   So for months she’s been asking….. no, make that begging…… for a new pet.   I’ve consistently said, “No!”   Mostly because I have just recently gotten two new additions and the last thing I need is another creature in my life that poops!

But, as time has passed and we’ve all gotten deeper into the realities of what it really  means to have adopted two children into an already flowing (chaotic?) family, we’ve found that it’s sometimes harder than we counted on.     I’ll save those details for another post, but suffice it to say, we’ve had to give up things and we’ve had to realign and redirect and redefine.    That’s just part of the reality and the normal flow of making a giant life transition like adoption.     On top of all her particular changes, Ruth has continued to grieve Patches and has had a broken-heart.     So, together we decided that, while a new pet doesn’t replace Patches and doesn’t turn back the clock to reclaim the life we’d all grown accustomed to before the boys came, a bunny can be a source of joy and comfort.

Unbeknown to us, (but very known to God) a family we are acquaintances with at church, was looking for a new home for their rabbit.   With four small children, they didn’t feel like they were able to give their bunny all the affection and attention she needed and worried that she’d be sad if she didn’t get a new home where someone could afford the time to love her more often.    Our good friends, the Watters, played Match-makers and today we met this sweet little creature and immediately knew she was the one.

Ruth has been lobbying hard for a rabbit for a while  ~ but not just any rabbit.   There are pictures of Holland Lop rabbits all over her room and occasionally I’d find a well placed wikipedia report on lops on my kitchen desk or under my pillow.     All along, God was preparing the perfect situation with the perfect animal to bless Ruth’s heart.    He not only granted her heart’s desire for a new pet, but worked out the specific details – down to the breed! – to give her the greatest joy.

She said, “God knew that Cottontail’s heart was broken and that mine was broken too and He put us together to help each other mend.”   Indeed He did.   That’s just the sort of God He is.

new best friends

new best friends

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