In the beginning, JD adamantly only wanted two children. I thought that four would be perfect. Once we caught God's vision of putting orphans into families, our plan was multiplied by God. We are currently blessed with 12 children; five biological, six adopted and one more waiting in Ethiopia. Our first adoption was from the U.S., the next three were from Liberia, West Africa, and our last two were from Ethiopia. We are supporting our 12th child in Ethiopia after her adoption could not pass court.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


We had friends come today from out of town. I really should take pictures of all the kids, but we start talking and playing and I don't think about it. I did grab the camera, however, when Alei and I let Baby Levi try the cantaloupe. He really liked it and sucked every bit of juice he could get out of it.

When his momma and I headed outside, he had to resort to his toes. He's such a good natured little guy!

Baby Levi's momma is Ms. Wendy that lives three hours away, but we meet pretty often. I thought about all the swapping we have done over the eight years since I've moved away from her neck of the woods. We seriously have swapped dogs, cats, goats, chickens, plants and children on our visits! (While the plants and animals have been permanent trades, the kids have only been loaners.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Keeping Up

My summer just does not have the relaxed feel to it that one hopes for in a summer! The problem is that since we are doing swim team and school all summer, I feel like I'm in Groundhog Day repeating the swim and school cycle day in and day out. I guess the regular school year cycle fluctuated more since we had co-op some days, soccer others; this is swim, school, swim, school. I'm just hoping to finish school by the end of July and have a few weeks off in August. We just found out that Classical Conversations, the new homeschool co-op in our area that I'm sending Alyssa to, starts the middle of August even before our scheduled vacation. That makes me look forward to next summer already!

My computer decided that it can't stay on; it just powers itself down as soon as you boot it up. This is a problem since so much of my life is on there. I guess it's going to have to go to the computer doctor, but it makes me want to be more diligent to save my pictures elsewhere also, so I never lose them in a future computer crises. Pictures of my kids has to rank as my greatest "possession"

So you won't be bored reading a picture less post, I present to you - chicken feeding hour. Check out those stupid guineas that fly in for feeding time. They are supposed to be munching on ticks outside.

On the note of chickens, everything we give Elijah to eat he says, "yum, tastes like chicken." So even brownies get the response of, "yum, tastes like chicken."

Saturday, June 25, 2011

They Made It

 The beauty of cell phones is that we knew within minutes the time that Gabriel and Alei were going to arrive. Moriah took the camera out to capture those minutes.

Then for the first time in over nine months, we saw "Red" roll down the driveway. Poor Red was packed to the roof, but safely got Gabriel and Alei home from their adventures.

There was great anticipation when Alei produced presents for everyone from Uganda. While I didn't take pictures of the cool treasures she brought home, Moriah did snap this picture of her jewelry gift pile. She visited a place called Hope House where ladies that are ex-prostitutes get to live and make jewelry to support themselves and their children. Alei definitely contributed to their sales for the day she was there!

The rough part of the evening was that Julia got pretty sick. At dinner, she was shivering and not wanting to eat. By bed time, her temperature was strangely under normal, she was lethargic and her heart was racing. JD spent most of the night in the ER with her, but the only thing they found was an ear infection. The EKG was normal, (as was the one that she had when she first came home from Liberia and the Dr. heard an irregular heart-beat.)

Here's the sleeping princess with her darling Uganda doll that Alei brought her.

 When I questioned Julia today about her ears, she said, "I was going to tell you that they hurt, I just kept forgetting." Never a dull moment.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Big Kids

My big kids are on their way home; third day of driving from Colorado! While Alei has only been gone a month, it has seemed so much longer since she went to Uganda and back and Gabriel hasn't been home since Christmas! I've been running like crazy in the medical department - James got bit by a poisonous spider and Tori had a tick for a few days, plus  I'm pursuing some new avenues in our on-going children challenges.

Yesterday I declared a no swim team day just so I could try to catch up around the house; it definitely helped to have every one's cooperation. I still have plenty more to do but I'll post some homecoming pictures tomorrow. The little guys are so excited to have their big kids home!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Canning Analysis

JD located strawberries for $1 a pound last Sunday. He did what I've trained him to do and called me to discuss the potential of the good buy. We decided on 30 pounds to make jam. I really didn't know if I would financially come out ahead by canning it or not, but quickly figured it out after we were done. I made two double batches two days in a row - each double batch yields 10 pint jars, so we finished with 40 jars. With the cost of strawberries, sugar and pectin, I spent $51 on 40 jars! So, that's about half the price of what I pay for Smuckers at the store.

What really sold me on the deal was when I compared the ingredient list. Smuckers has high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup listed above sugar. Mine obviously has plenty of sugar, but no corn syrups!

The other nice part is I really enjoy canning. JD did the strawberry cutting and cleaning the first day with me, but James and Tori volunteered to do most of day two's prep work.

I also figured out that while it was about $1.28 a jar at $1 a pound, it really only goes up 37 cents a jar if the strawberries cost $1.50 a pound. I've bought several pounds at that price all year, and I think it's still well worth it at that price.

Now it will be interesting to see how many jars we actually go through a year. 40 jars of salsa is exactly what we need for a full year, but I don't know about jam. We may be making more next year!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pleasing Julia

 To say that Julia is super-demanding is generous. Thankfully, she is also super loving, super cute and super funny; otherwise, it would be difficult to take. There are about 100 situations a day that Julia is committed to controlling and doesn't let up until it's done her way. This morning, as we were rushing to eat breakfast and get out the door to swim team, she spied a "bug" up on the wall.  She insisted that it immediately be taken care of. James, who for some reason kindly puts up with her often unreasonable demands, got the fly swatter and mounted a bar stool to attempt to reach the "bug" on our high ceiling. Once he was up there, he declared that it wasn't a bug at all, but chocolate. This is one of those times that I ask the very stupid question, (yes, there are stupid questions.....I hear them all the time) "how did chocolate get all the way up there?" I heard the normal chorus of "I don't know" that often makes me wonder if anyone ever actually observes anything in our house.

In an attempt to get out the door, I replied with my traditional answer, "we will worry about that later, let's get in the van."

But what was Julia's new demand? She wanted a picture standing on the bar stool like James. So, we took one and doesn't her little attitude come shining through?

When we decided to adopt Julia, we actually said, "seven or eight, what difference does it make?" Believe me, friends, it makes a difference with Julia! She's never been quiet in the shadows and I don't think she ever will be. 

(She has asked me to help her trace a fairy ( I did) and make her dip ( I gave her plain tortilla chips - no dip) in the short time it took me to scratch out this post! That's my baby girl!) 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Big Day Times Three

Today was a big day all the way around. First of all, our sweet Alyssa turned 12. We celebrated by going to a play about Moses and then a pig fest dinner at Ci Ci's Pizza. Here's a shot of her with her friend (and two sisters.)

 Not only was it Alyssa's birthday, it was the FOUR year anniversary of Ben and Julia landing in America. Although we had been with them in Liberia for two weeks, June 18th was the day that they began their new lives here. We celebrated with.....a play and trip to Ci-Ci's, (how'd you guess?)

And last, but even more important, Alei landed safe and sound back in the USA from Uganda. I'm not going to claim that our trip to Ci Ci's was in her honor, since she is still in CO and won't be home home until next Thursday.

Here's a picture of her with the little girl that she so fell in love with - Beneta. Beneta is at an orphanage in the slums that doesn't even have a well; I desperately want to help them!

Want to see one of my favorite pictures of all times? Look at that smile - these kids need love so badly.

Sweet Beneta - I would kiss you too if I could!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Swim Team

Swim team has been going quite well; today was the first day that afternoon practice turned to morning practice, which is so much easier on my schedule.

Tori and Julia were checking for bugs before they got in -

Then somebody jumped in and splashed them -

Julia generally enters the pool with pizazz -

Just to prove that I actually have six swimmers this year, here's Moriah and Alyssa racing in back stroke -

And James and Ben exercising before swimming.

Alei is on a plane somewhere between Uganda and New Mexico; she was hoping to send a last update today, but it didn't work out. I'm anxious to hear all the details when she makes it all the way home - a week from now.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Beneta - Alei's 9th Update

I'll be honest, I'm having a tough time. No part of me wants to sit by the pool watching my kids swim while I know there are children sitting in parts of the world with no water, no food and no love. I feel like I'm capable of so much more (although there are plenty of times that I barely feel capable of handling the life I've already been blessed with.) I want to move Beneta and the other 65 kids out of the slums, into a home...into what all of our children completely take for granted every day!

Alei's Update-

Today I fell in love with a little girl.

Her name is Beneta and she is 4 years old.
She's the most beautiful girl I've ever seen, and I played with her for 5 hours.
She's in an orphanage called Oasis of Life which is located in the slums. There are 66 kids there, and they live in two tiny houses with no electricity. The girl's house has running water in the back, but the boys doesn't. The water is dirty and nasty and makes them sick, and it's all they have to drink. They cook their food in two dirty pots in the back.

Half of the team scrubbed and painted their walls today, and half played with the kids. I learned today that many orphanages use the small amount of money they have to keep the place reasonably clean instead of feeding the kids. I was disgusted, but they have to do that or they can shut the orphanages down for being unsanitary.

When I got there, I was instantly drawn to Beneta. Two hours in and I already loved the kid. She's gorgeous and gives me the biggest smiles. I know I spoiled her while I was there today, I fed her slim jims and grape soda, and gave her a cool squishy ball that we played with for hours. She doesn't really speak English, so I couldn't understand anything she said to me, but she understood me. At one point one of the ladies translated for me and she was asking me for drinking water. I instantly handed her my water bottle. She was super dehydrated and drank two of my water bottles in about 5 minutes. It was the best 3000 shillings I ever spent. I never in my life wanted to stay at a place so badly. Every time I thought about leaving her I about started crying. It amazed me how attached I got to her in 5 hours.

I asked the people there if she was adoptable and they didn't know. They said she didn't have any family and she had been there for 3 years. My heart broke thinking about her living in that place for the last 3 years. It was nasty and directly in the slums. This was the first time the team had visited this orphanage, and they said they never get visitors.

I told Beneta I had to leave and she got really upset. She got down and headed off to mope. A few minutes later I tried talking to her and she came back over to me and let me hold her and just stuck her thumb in her mouth. She didn't say much after that but I kissed her goodbye, told her I loved her and then headed out to the van. She waved bye to me from the door and my heart hurt so much. I didn't know what to do. I still don't know what to do. Pray for Beneta and all the kids at Oasis of Life.
Love, Alei

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Update #8

I finally received my Alei Update - I'll share with you -


So, I typed up a looong message last night, and then the Internet stopped working and it wouldn't send and then I accidentally deleted it. I was so disappointed because it took me a long time.

Yesterday we did more shopping, I get made fun of by everyone for how much stuff I buy. I guess it's kind of ridiculous, but I loove the stuff here. Haha. I did fit it all in my two suitcases, so that's good.

Last night we spent a long time at Sanyu. Daniella held down 4 feedings while we were there, we just feed her tiny amounts every 15 minutes. The intern hasn't started there yet, so she really relies on us to be fed every day. The mamas just feed it all to her quickly and she pukes it all up a minute later. Dwight gets really upset because he's slipped many of the mamas money to feed her the way he explains it, and they don't do it. They also just pick her up by one arm, and her head just flips back. It scares the heck out of me, and makes me cry. She has so much water in her brain, so she can't support her head at all. And she's so tiny I'm worried about them snapping her bones, or even paralyzing her if they injure her neck. She's so precious, and I hate the way she's treated.

I hold her and rub her head, and it makes her eyes roll back in her head. She also makes eye contact with me sometimes now. I just hold her and sing to her; she's so desperate for attention and love.

Today we didn't get to visit Sanyu at all. We left at 7:30 before the babies are up, and got back at 9, after they're asleep.

We spent half the day at Redeemer House, an orphanage in Jinja. I'm sitting at the reception area at the guest house, and Ronald, the guy behind the counter, tried to convince me that it was spelled Jinjja, but I googled it and he was tricking me.

Anyway, we spent a long time there playing with the kids! It was awesome, there were 22 kids there and we ate with them and played games and painted their nails. We had a lot of fun, and you could tell it made them so happy.

After we left there we went to the Nile river! That was so beautiful, it would've been so cool to wade in it, but the current was way too strong. To make it just even better, Jesse proposed to Courtney there! they're two of my teammates, and it was so cute.

I got to head up to my room now, but I'll try to write tomorrow. Night, Alei

Monday, June 13, 2011

Keeping Busy and BOOK WINNER

In an effort to distract myself from checking my email every 20 minutes, because this is day three that I haven't heard from Alei in Uganda, I began my very late spring cleaning effort. I decided the logical place to begin was the kitchen. My most interesting find, so far, was one of Julia's church shoes and an Easter egg on a shelf in the pantry. Now the pantry is all spic and span and I've moved on to the cabinets, which is not so fun.

My cleaning effort has been intermingled with shoving sugar water down one of the baby guinea's throats - they have been tough to keep alive! They were fine yesterday, but the dip in the temperature in the night seemed to make them want to die (again.) So, every hour we drop sugar water down their throats until they drink on their own.

As for the book winner, Moriah was kind enough to make names and place them in a bowl for the book drawing. She also took pictures, but they were enough out of focus that I'm not making you view them. Tori drew the first name......


Then we asked Elijah to draw the second name; he grabbed one of the papers and popped it in his mouth. Once we had him spit it out and unrolled it, it was .....

Busy Mom of 10!

Please send me an email (jenandkids@verizon.net) with your address and your books will be on the way. Enjoy and thanks for commenting everyone.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Short Update #7 and Missing #8

I recieved this short update from Alei on Saturday -

Hi everyone,

I love it here, but at some points I'm just on the verge of crying. I've had strep, gone through a day of puking, I have like the worst cold I've had all year and my stomach won't stop cramping. It stinks. But the great news is Daniella held down 4 feedings tonight while I was there. Things are looking good for her, now we just have to find some way for her to get treatment. A diagnosis would probably be a good start. Please keep praying for her, she's so beautiful and it's so hard for me to see her like this.

Mom, I played with John and Cassam a lot tonight. They're doing really good for their first week out of the slums. When I met Cassam, I thought he was 1 1/2, maybe 2, but I found out he's 5. He's seriously malnourished, but he already likes to eat a lot, so that's good. I'm going to bed, tomorrow is our day off so we get to go to church and then shop and hang out. On Monday we're going to the Nile river! Night.
Love, Alei

I didn't receive an update from Alei at all today, which has me slightly worried. I just pray that it's due to bad internet and not her health. Please say a quick prayer for her and the others that are serving in Uganda.

Also, it's not too late to enter the book give away - just scroll back a few posts and leave a comment.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Toyota is giving away a car today to the worthy cause that gets the most votes. Please take a few minutes and vote for Project Hopeful. They will use the car to help take their adoption workshops to every state.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Alei's 6th Uganda Update

Besides the fact that I spent almost the whole day sleeping again, I had an awesome day. I slept for 31 hrs and only ate some toast, and today I ate some rice and then slept for another 6 hrs at the African hearts home while everyone else worked. No throwing up today, so that's great. And I've been on antibiotics for over 24 hrs, so now I'm not contagious and tomorrow I'll be able to go see Daniella! So the awesome news is that a lady whose been hanging around the baby home decided to commit to getting Daniella better. She's moving into Sanyu so that she can feed Daniella every hour! She'll also be getting up in the night to feed her. I think she said she'd be able to do commit to 3 weeks. I'm so excited! Dwight gave the mamas down there 300,000 shillings to pay someone to do it, and she came and offered not even knowing! God is soo good. She'll finally be able to get healthy enough to look into surgeries and treatments for her condition!

Another thing that you'll be happy to know, Mom, is that while I was sleeping at the African hearts home, two little boys came in and woke me up. I played with them for a while, and only later found out they are the two boys from the slums! The little one, who I call John because I can't understand his real name, is the one who got trampled, and now he's totally fine and healthy! A girl from The Ugandan water project who has been living here for a few months brought them in last week. I thought they were maybe both around 2 years old, and turns out one is 3 and one is 5. But they're both doing great, and they play together so well.

So I'm turning in for the night, tomorrow is the 2nd day of VBS and I'm looking forward to actually being there. Night! Alei

(there is a blog post about the two little boys at www.aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/2011/05/who-cares.html  if anyone is interested in hearing the little boys story.)

If you are tired of picture less posts, here's a few shots of Moriah and Julia.

Weird, but I think they look alike!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Who Is My Neighbor? (and Alei's 5th Uganda Update)

I will start with Alei's short 5th update -

I'm willing to do whatever I need to to get help for Daniella. We can raise the money.

Jan ( one of the team members whose a nurse) put me on antibiotics today. My throat aches and I spent the day throwing up. I went back to bed at 8 this morning and just got up. It's 6:40 pm now. I missed visiting the boys home today, which is really disappointing. I'm the third team member whose gotten sick. And we all had to stay back at the guest house today. I feel a lot better after sleeping though. I haven't eaten in almost 24 hours, so I'm getting kind of hungry. Savannah is gonna go see if they'll make me toast. Love, Alei

What hits me in Alei's last few emails is that they are filled with concern for Daniella and the other suffering people that she has been in contact with. My concern for her was growing stronger and stronger this morning as I guessed that she had strep throat and I didn't know if there would be any antibiotics available to treat her. I am so thankful that she is now on them and can start recovering. It makes me painfully consider all the Moms that live there day in and day out and watch their children suffer and are powerless to help them.

As for Daniella, she is just one of a thousand suffering children in Uganda at the moment, but she is the one that Alei was drawn to. She is the one that may not have lived even a few more days waiting for someone to consider that her life was worth saving. We have no idea at this point what her diagnosis is completely, nor the damage that has been inflicted upon her. I am not going to try and put you through the line of prayer and logic that I have traveled the last few days; I'm just going to "bless" you with my conclusion - Daniella is our neighbor according to the Bible! Do you remember the Good Samaritan that stopped and showed mercy to the beaten Jewish man on the side of the road? Jesus referred to him as that man's neighbor and said, "Now, go and do the same." I have to do the same for six pound Daniella, and thankfully there seems to be others that are willing to stand up and be her long distance neighbor!

 (There is also significance with Alei and the name Daniella - I'll share that some time down the road as well.)

Alei's Uganda Updates - #2-4

If you haven't read Alei's first Uganda update, scroll down a bit first and then come back to these. I'm posting these together because they are quite a bit shorter. I'm anxious for you all to "meet" baby Daniella because I'm praying that we will all witness a miracle in her little life.

Update #2 -
Hey! I'm extremely exhausted, so I'm typing up a short message before going to bed. I've been getting up at 6:30 in the morning so I can spend time with Daniella before we head off for the day. Today we went to the building site for the boys home. We worked in the sun for 6 hrs. Well, half of us did. The half of the team traveling through chicago had a cancelled flight and didn't get in till this afternoon. We tossed bricks, cut down grass with machetes, and built walls. I'm exhausted! I was so happy to head to sanyu afterward to see Daniella. We were there for an hour and a half, and I spent the whole time with her. I spent a good half hour just feeding her. Just drops of milk at a time, and she kept it all down!! Praise God. I've been praying for her soo much and even today she seems better. She wasn't constantly turning her head restlessly, although she still won't look at me. Dwight said that her mother had intentionally been starving her to try and kill her. The evil in this world amazes me. Please pray for her. I don't want to leave her like this. 

Update #3-
Day 3 was great! We worked at the building site again, so we're all so exhausted and worn out. But we have a few days planned without any hard labor, so we'll get to rest. I spent over 10 hours in the direct sun today and yesterday, and I've managed to protect myself besides a little burn on the back of my neck. I'm sooo excited for tomorrow. We're heading to the market area where we get to shop and where the other half of the team gets to exchange their money. After shopping we get to go to a pizza place for lunch. Then the girls will be heading to Hope House, which is the home where the ex prostitute woman live. They make jewelry and headbands to keep themselves off the streets. We get to spend time with them and hear their stories. So excited for that! Tomorrow night we'll be going to the slums for our first day of working with the feeding program!

Pray for Daniella. She threw up both of the bottles I fed her today, and I think she's running a fever. Also, a little girl named Esther had a stroke while we were at sanyu today. So keep her in your prayers.

Update #4-
Today has been a looong long day. I feel like I'm getting sick, my throat hurts so much and my head aches. Tomorrows a working day so pray for that. I'm gonna skip ahead in the day and tell about Daniella first. She definitely has water in her brain, her head is way too big for body, and she previously wasn't focusing with her eyes. She has focused on me a few times when I'm talking to her and kissing her. It's been really hard because I'm not allowed to hold her. I can't risk her getting sick at all, because she could die from it. Today they gave her an iv. I Almost cried when I saw it taped to her hand. She's finally going to be able to get the fluids she needs. The poor girl has been so dehydrated and sick, and unable to keep anything down. There was the nurse who takes care of the sick babies there tonight. She spent a lot of time with Daniella, thank God, because I haven't been able to hold her all day. Daniella drank her milk and didn't throw it up. I was so happy but so sad because I could see her stomach bulging from the milk in there. Mom, I can't send you a picture because we're not allowed to photograph the kids. I might be able to get permission from the Administrator. Her eyes are really sunken in, and Emma is researching it and thinks there's a possibility she might have hydro cephalic, totally don't know how to spell that. Also referred to as water on the brain. 50-60% of kids who are not treated die from this. Idk, might be lots of money, but maybe we can look into fundraising for it? I've officially fallen in love with this girl. She's the most precious thing I've ever seen. I just can't imagine anything happening to her.

On a happier note, today we went to the Hope house and met all the woman who were prostitutes and are now making Jewelry to support themselves and their kids. It was incredible and they were beautiful woman who were so thankful that we were there. I bought a lot of jewelry from them. Actually, I've officially bought too much stuff here. After that we went to the slums to feed the street boys, we played soccer with them and tried to paint their faces, but they really just ended up painting our whole bodies. After playing for a while, Jesse, a guy from our team gave a little devotion and then we started handing out food. I wanted to cry when we handed out our last bowl and there were still kids there begging for food. Just to think that they didn't get to eat that day, because we didn't have enough food. It was really hard. I also almost cried when a little boy I played with a lot came over and handed me a ring he made out of beads and told me, "dis is for you" in his cute little accent. It was so sweet. I'm loving Uganda, and it's gonna be hard to leave it. Gotta go to bed, it's late and I have to be up at 6.
Love, Alei

Emma, Linny's daughter, has also done a post on baby Daniella if you would like to read it -

Alei's First Uganda Update

I realize some of you have already read Alei's Uganda updates, but I'm going to post them here so everyone can catch up with what she is doing in Uganda and be introduced to baby Daniella - I will have more to say about Daniella in a later post.

Uganda Update #1-(which is the only long one)

Hey Everyone!

I'm in Uganda! It's Sunday night, we got here late Saturday night. I'm currently sitting in the guest house lobby with my friend Taylor typing with a really old keyboard and really slow Internet.

This morning some of the team members got up extra early to go to the Sanyu baby home before we had to head out for church. It was really cool. There are currently 48 babies staying there, ranging from like 2 months to 3. A little boy named Watson instantly came up to me and I spent a lot of time holding him (standing up, because if I tried to sit down he yelled, "Sand up!").

We were there for about an hour before we had to run back to the guest house to get changed for church. As I was running out the door to get away from a screaming Watson who wasn't far behind me, (I wasn't being mean, they tell us to do that) I saw a baby off in a crib in the corner. She's the only one who they hadn't gotten out all morning, and I hadn't noticed her until then. She looked really quiet and malnourished. I made a mental note to hunt her down when we came back that night. After church, touring a school, exchanging money, and eating at the mall we headed back. We went the bathroom, grabbed water and started the short walk to the baby home.

Someone shoved a baby girl in my arms right when I got there, and I sat down with her for awhile. I didn't notice through the sweat that she was totally peed through. Sorry mom, your green skirt got peed on and barfed on tonight.

One of the caretakers took her from me and I started looking for the little girl in the crib. I headed back to where she was and sure enough, she was the only baby not sleeping that was in a crib. Her name is Daniella.

When I looked at her, I instantly started crying. Her head was rolled back and her eyes were aimlessly searching the ceiling. Her cheeks were so sunken in and her neck was so skinny it was heartbreaking. I pulled the blanket back and saw her body. She looked like a skeleton. I have never in all my life seen someone so skinny. A doctor from Holland that was there pulled her out. She's ten months old and she can't hold her head up, her head literally just flopped back. A few minutes later the doctor left and I pulled her out. She couldn't focus on me and I couldn't stop crying. One of my team members Savannah came in with another baby and she saw her and instantly started crying. We both stood there for a while, I had no idea what to do. When the mothers came out to feed the babies,

I asked if I could feed Daniella. They handed me a bottle and I settled back to feed her, she started chugging the bottle and I pulled it out to try to get her to take it slow. A minute later she started gagging and started vomiting it all up. Not spit up, actual vomit. I didn't know what to do, I kind of just sat there and then started to clean her up. One of the mothers apologized and took her from me and told me I could go rinse my skirt off. I came back out and they had just stuck her back in the crib. Taylor pulled her out and a while later they brought a bottle of water to give her, so she wouldn't get dehydrated. Taylor gave it to her, and a few minutes later she was full on vomiting again. At this point I was in tears and had to head outside to calm myself down. I don't think one of us girls looked at her without crying. I left after holding her for a while longer, because we had dinner with the director of the baby home.

The director, Barbara, told me that she's been there 3 weeks. She's ten months old, weighs 6 pds, and has water in her brain. That's why it's so big and she can't hold it up. There's no doubt that a baby like that in the states would be in the ICU, and yet she's laying in a crib by herself. I can't even describe to you how heartbreaking it is, I've never in my life seen something like that. Tomorrow morning I'll be heading to the baby home to feed and dress her. I just wonder how many times she's just thrown up her food and they've just stuck her in the crib. When I first saw her, I thought she was dead. Please pray for Daniella. I know who I'll be spending my next two weeks with.

 Lord, break my heart with what breaks yours.

Love, Alei

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Missing Teeth and Book Give-Away

I finally remembered to take a few pictures of Tori's missing top teeth; she lost them both in the same day. I happen to think that missing top teeth is the cutest look at this age! (Funny how that no longer applies when the person is like...40.)

Now that we have opened our little pool, my kids are swimming twice a day - once here and once at swim team. It's really taking a toll on my Liberian's skin. They are starting to turn white and that's not the best look on them. (maybe that's what happened to Michael Jackson...did he have a pool?)

Switching topics, I have never spent any energy trying to gather a blog following.  I'm not being critical of people that do, but I have just written for my family and friends and not worried about who or who isn't reading. I do want to say that I have some really sweet friends who have become friends or stayed friends through reading this blog. One of those friends, that I lived by several years ago, sent me a nice surprise in the mail - four copies of the book  There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Green that I raved about on this blog. If you haven't read it, you should. It's a true story about a lady in Ethiopia that saved many orphans. Since I now personally own several copies of this book, I'd like to offer one to a person that comments on this post. Just leave any comment and I'll submit you for a drawing next Monday for a copy of this book. It's perfect summer reading!

If there's a flooding of comments, which has happened about twice ever, I may be generous enough to send out two copies of the book. Thank you sweet friend in Norfolk!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Operation Tadpole

Tadpoles seem to be a large part of pool opening day each year. Before anyone really grosses out, just understand that the tadpoles are not actually in the swimming pool, just swimming in the rain water that collects on the cover. The problem every year is what to do with 1,000 swimming tadpoles. My husband's manly, and somewhat calloused idea, is to dump them on the ground and let them die, but that has never flown too well with the children and I. Generally we bucket load after load of them out and put them in the old duckling swimming pools under the nearby shade tree. This year JD hosed the cover, flushing the tadpoles into a small pump that pumped the tadpoles and water directly into the baby pools.

The problem was that once the pools were filled,  there was still a lot of water to pump, so we ended up pumping it into a huge puddle and letting the kids spoon the tadpoles into buckets and dump them into the pools. It was sweet how focused and hard they worked scooping up the little guys.

I'm not going to lie to any other frog lovers out there, they didn't all make it, but we made a huge contribution to the overall future frog population around our house.

At one point, Julia realized that there were many stuck in the leaf net and pulled them out as well. Sometimes she works so well and hard that you'd think she is older than her four years - other times, not hard to believe she's four!

In the end, the pools were so full and so heavy that we couldn't slide them over to the trees. If it starts getting really hot again, I'm going to have to rig up some beautiful saw-horse/tarp display to provide them some shade.

We also have a hot-tub in the backyard (that needs work and we've never used) that is full of tad-poles. I'm not even going to go there, they can just stay!

In an effort to show what a caring and sensitive guy my husband is, he came up with an idea of how to pump and strain the tad-poles next year so that we won't lose as many. I may have to show him this post to remind him next year if he's in a hurry, but it was all his idea!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Caught Red Handed

Last weekend I woke up to four tomato plants that were completely eaten off. While I assumed it was a deer, I didn't do anything right away. The very next morning I woke up to the rest of my tomato plants each eaten down about a foot. That time we put up a few wooden stakes with flapping aluminum foil to scare any future deer away.

This morning as I walked by the back window, this is the sight I saw. Now mind you, it was after 9:00 and about five kids were already outside riding bikes and making noise. The deer didn't seemed even remotely concerned about the noise.

I watched the deer while she licked her lips and started to sink her teeth into my squash, then I went running for the front door. I'm definitely going to hang more aluminum foil strips, but I'm not feeling confident that it is going to be enough!

On top of deer. I'm battling squash bugs, nasty green worms on the cabbage and a bad case of cedar rust on my apple trees. I would have enjoyed gardening in the Garden of Eden more.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Back to the Pool

Here are the Julia proof pictures. She completed the first week of swimming with NO uncooperative moments at all. I'm rather baffled, but really thrilled. It will be fun to see her at swim meets since she is so excited to race.

Elijah wouldn't get in the first day in spite of it being 99 degrees, he did yesterday, however, when it was a mere 85. He also spent a fair amount of time trying to climb this pole.

Alyssa is Elijah's special buddy. She is so good to him and spends at least a few hours playing with him every day. He adores her. He is now telling us that Alyssa is his wife. (It's nice he sees that word as a compliment!)

Elijah has also caught on that there are two "son/suns" after JD called him son and he replied with, "no me is a sun in the sky." After JD explained it, he was pretty impressed with the idea of boys being sons. Now he frequently calls James and Ben "son." When they came off the soccer field, he told them, "good job, son, me proud of you."

Africa Bound

I still can't post pictures, nor have I had a second to search for the lap-top cord, and I'm less than 30 minutes from leaving for swim-team again. It's been a hectic day, I even had to cancel my lunch engagement just to keep my baby guineas alive, but that's another post for later.

Right now, I just wanted to link to Linny's blog that shows my sweet Alei heading to Uganda. I believe she is between Texas and New York right now.


I'll be back...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Quick Update

I've tried for three days to down-load pictures of Julia at swim-team.  I'm not sure if the problem is Blogger or my computer, but I'll have time one of these days to analyze the situation. Other than that, we are plugging on with school and then heading to swim team every afternoon. Julia has been wonderful; in fact, she hasn't had even one second of not paying attention or following instructions! She gets her suit on around noon and then asks every five minutes, "is it 3:30 yet? can we go now?"

Alei leaves CO for NM today, then will head towards Africa tomorrow. I found out today that she actually stops in Ethiopia before heading into Uganda; it just seems like I should be on that flight!

I'm going to try and return this evening to the blog. I really need an assistant that more techno-sauvy than I!