Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Those kind of days

There are days when everything feels right. And then, there those kind of days. You know the ones I mean: The days that you find yourself questioning every decision you’ve made in the past week, or even year; the days where you feel tired, the kind of tired that makes you want to hibernate in your bed; the days where your current situation feels both overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. You’re not sure how that is even possible, but you feel it just the same.

You try to put your finger on the reason why you are having such an off day or string of days. Maybe you’ve been a bit under the weather, from all of the cold and flu stuff going around this time of year. Perhaps you and your spouse aren’t really connecting on any level that feels meaningful. If you’re a woman, it could just be that time of the month (in the words of Jori “that’s an absolute fact”). Maybe your kids are misbehaving, your coworkers have been extra irritating, or your friends haven’t seemed very friendly. Perhaps your prescription for “happy pills” has run out and you’re just trying to cope until you can get a refill.
It can be hard to figure out what the problem is because there are times where you could be dealing with all of the above and feel just fine. However, when you are having one of those days, it doesn’t take more than realizing there isn’t any more chocolate in the fridge to put you over the edge.

Lately, I’ve been having more of those days than I’d like. Once I find myself on the edge, it is so easy to just slide right into the pit and it gets harder and harder to get out. Being in the pit really stinks. When I’m down, I feel like I am ruining the lives of my children by having them in our current situation. I feel like I am totally incapable of being a houseparent and I wonder if I even want to be a houseparent. I start thinking that everything would be better if I could pack up and move to a small town, get my kids in a “normal” school, and drive a minivan again. On the flip side, I find myself thinking about returning to my old life and I worry about feeling lost, useless and that my family is going to be sucked into a life devoid of true meaning as we strive for the “American Dream”.

I know that turning to God when I’m having one of those days is the solution, but lately this has been easier said than done. I mean, we all know that “Jesus” is the answer to every question you are asked in church, Sunday School, Bible study or any other Christian circle you run in. Right? I know this, but for quite some time it’s been more of a head knowledge kind of knowing and not a deep in my heart knowing. I can still talk all the talk, but these past several months have been a season of doubt and struggle for me. Since moving into the chaos that is our new life, I’ve been too busy to deal with my issues, but recently I find that I have a bit of time to actually sit and think. While this is a really good and healthy thing, I wasn’t prepared for the stuff I was struggling with before we moved here to creep back into my life so suddenly.  I want to comfort myself by acknowledging that "this too shall pass", but I know that isn't necessarily true. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Random News of the Week

It is Thursday night, just after 8. Darin is on his way to Pretoria to pick up a new auntie, which will bring our total to three volunteers. We are really looking forward to the extra set of hands and hoping that we can make a bit more time for our smaller family unit during the week.

Speaking of our smaller family unit, we are all doing well. Darin has been really busy with filter stuff lately. I know I refer to it as “stuff”, but I’m not trying to downplay what he is doing. He just has so much going on that calling it “stuff” is just easier. All that to say that Darin is one busy guy. I think he thrives on so much activity, but personally, I prefer the weeks when he is more available for me and the (many) kids. Tyson and Jori seem to be finding their stride at school. They’ve been managing to get most of their homework finished at school before Darin picks them up, which helps all of us to have a better afternoon/evening. They are having a hard time settling down to sleep at night and that leads to a few more crabby moments in the morning and afternoon, so hopefully we can sort out what the problem is soon. I’m getting my cleaning mojo back again and have been tackling corners of our bedroom and different closets in the house. I just like to know that there is a place for everything and everything in its place. I think it has to do with wanting to feel totally in control of at least one area of my life…

After a few cooler, overcast days, the hot weather has come back. The sun here is just so intense. I got sunburned after standing outside and chatting to Chris for a few minutes in the garden. We’ve had the kiddie pools out for the little ones and they have a grand time splashing each other with water. Miss O is especially fond of sitting in the pool and throws quite a fit when it’s time to take her out. Poor girl. Tonight one of our little guys called Jori a “pee wee”, which is what they call their privates. Um, no. Kids are kids no matter what country you are in! Amo kept us awake throughout the night last night. It was as unpleasant as it sounds. We finally took her in our bed around 5 so she wouldn’t wake up the rest of the house with her screaming. We are hoping for a better night tonight for all of us.

I’ve been trying to change up our supper time menu per my husband’s request. I’ve been told I can’t make spaghetti bolognaise, tuna casserole or ham spaghetti bake any time in the near future. We were eating those meals a couple times a month, so taking them out of the rotation has left quite a few gaps. I’m trying to cook lighter and steer clear of casseroles for a while.

Overall, things are going well. There are days, sometimes a small string of days where I find myself thinking “If I could return to my old life, I would do it in a heartbeat”, but most days I feel certain that this is where we are meant to be and that God has been at work and is continuing to work in our lives and in the lives of those around us. For the time being, this is our new normal and while there are some parts of it that are wildly different from our old life, we find ourselves facing the same challenges as our friends and family. Trying to balance work and family, teaching our children what is right, being open to what God asks us to do each day, telling children that we don’t call each other “pee wee’s”, you know, as you do.

Thanks for sharing in what we do and praying for us as we do it!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Random news

This morning I almost swallowed a fly. I took a gulp of coffee, felt something other than liquid in my mouth, and spit the whole lot back into the mug. When I dumped it into the sink, out came a drowned fly. I don’t know how long it was in my coffee. Maybe it flew into the grounds and drowned when I poured the water in, or maybe it had only just landed on my cup and I somehow swallowed it (ew). Not the best way to start out a morning, but not the worst way either.

Sunday afternoon, a 2 year old girl was placed with us. This little one has cerebral palsy and her mom is having her temporarily placed in our care so that she can finish her schooling, get a job, and provide a better life for her daughter. She is also caring for her 3 siblings (10-16 years old) and just has a lot on her plate. I think it is such a courageous and brave thing for her to hand her child over to strangers (us!) so that she can take care of the things she needs to do right now. We hope that she will visit often and keep in regular contact with us so that she remains close to her little one.

Sunday night we slept with little Amo in our room. Thankfully she only woke up twice; at one with a dirty diaper and again around 5, just because she wanted to scream for a bit. She eats well, is content to be on her own, and sleeps well. She does not like to be bathed, does not communicate and screeches when upset. Her face looks like she is 2, but her body is so small and fragile!

We went out for pizza with our kids on Friday night. It was a nice outing, other than the bees that kept attacking our Mountain Dew. Tyson was the most bothered by these pests and I tried to maintain some motherly sympathy while also yelling at him to sit down and quit jumping up and down like a lunatic. We watched the movie “Atlantis” (thanks Auntie Annelies!) when we came home. The night was especially relaxing for us because the TYB kids were in the capable hands of the aunties AND Uncle Lonnie and Auntie Debbie, who so graciously offered to come so we could have a night away.

On Monday afternoon we had a call from the kids’ school. Tyson had fallen off of a piece of playground equipment and had hit his head, scraped his leg and hurt his arm. This was about 45 minutes before school was over, so knowing that he was mostly ok, we left him until the normal school run. When he came home, he was dragging. We found an old sling from when he had dislocated his elbow back in Michigan and made his arm more comfortable. This morning he was still saying it hurt and he wanted to wear the sling to school. He can use the arm and bend it and move it all around, so I am pretty sure all will be ok in a few days, but he was just a bit shaken up.

On Monday night I went to a parent orientation meeting at the kids’ school. It just didn’t work for both Darin and I to go, especially with the new baby and Jori having her first experience with homework! Jori has Tyson’s teacher from last year, Miss DeClercq and Tyson’s teacher this year is Miss Lazenby. I was able to talk with Miss Lazenby quite a bit last night. I think she’ll be a good fit for Tyson. Jori might struggle having more structure this year, but I know she’ll be fine in a couple weeks. Please pray for them both, though, as the school scene is just a bit rough for them. Their differences stick out a lot in their school environment and I think they are both struggling more than we realized with being different and wanting to fit in. It’s also hard to get back in the routine of having homework and not being able to run and play all day. Growing up is hard work!

After Darin and the kids left for school, Amo took a rest in our bed.  We think she either has gas or reflux or something else that is making her very uncomfortable. She goes from total relaxation to screaming and tightening her little body. Poor baby. She did wake up with a dirty diaper again last night, but otherwise slept great til after 6 this morning! Thank you Jesus!!!

It is now after 9, which means I need to get to bed! Amo is making little cooing noises and seems to be settling down for the night. We hope she sleeps as well as she did the last 2 nights! Tonight we also discovered that, while Amo doesn’t enjoy being bathed in the sink or having a sponge bath, she LOVES the tub! Her mom had told us that she hates water, but she was smiling and giggling and seemed perfectly content when we put her in the tub tonight.  In other news, Miss O held a cup and drank water from it all by herself! She used one hand, dribbled a bit on her shirt, but managed to get the cup tipped back enough to get most of the water in her mouth. This was HUGE for her and there was a lot of clapping and celebrating for her. Did I mention that she has also learned how to get off the sofa by herself? Well, she has. She scoots down til she’s on her back and then wiggles her body until her toes touch the floor. Then she has to steady herself for the long drop to get her bottom to the floor. It is fun to watch and she is so proud to get from point A to point B all by herself!

Week 2 of school is going well for all the kids. The two preschool boys are tired and it can be rough for them to fit back into the group when they get back home. The rest of the kids also seem a bit lost without their older buddies leading their play. We are getting into a new rhythm though and know that it will just take time for things to settle down a bit. Tyson and Jori both stayed after school to do homework today. Instead of picking them up first, Darin picks them up after going to the other 2 schools. This worked great for Tyson in November and I think it will be a blessing for our whole family in this new year as well.

Ok, that is really all for now. We appreciate all of your prayers for all of us! Keep praying.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A long overdue update, again.

It is Sunday, January 6. Darin and Tyson are at church and Jori and I are hanging out at home. Jori was sick yesterday, throwing up and just feeling pretty miserable. Thankfully she seems to be almost back to normal now and no one else seems to have been affected!

These last couple weeks have been busy ones.  On the 17th The Van Gilders came to hang out. They brought a huge plate of Christmas cookies, which were devoured by the following day. Tyson and Jori had fun swimming with their friends and Darin and I enjoyed having some more adults to hang out with. Then on the 19th the Warrens and their extended family came and decorated Christmas cookies with the kids. We also packed into 2 vehicles and headed out to Jubilee Mall with the older kids. While our family of 4 picked up some groceries, Uncle Lonnie, Auntie Debbie and the rest of the gang went and did a little Christmas shopping to pick up some presents for Mama Joye, Darin and myself. Then it was time to have some ice cream at KFC before we headed back to the house.

 December 22 was our 11th wedding anniversary. Early in the day we made Christmas cookies with some of the kids. It was a bit of a production, but the result was delicious. We had a wonderful evening planned at one of the local lodges, but Darin ended up getting a piece of steak lodged in his throat and our night was cut short. He’ll have to write more about that whole saga as it is too long to tell here. The next day we stayed home from church, but went out that afternoon to watch the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie and have supper with the Van Gilders, well all of us except for Darin had supper as he still had steak stuck in his throat. On the 24th, we finally managed to get the Christmas tree up. This gave the little ones only a couple days to try and pull the decorations off of the tree.

Christmas day started bright and early. After the kids had breakfast it was time to open stockings, or rather Santa hats, and eat some treats. There’s nothing like a sugar high to start the day! Late in the morning, we gathered around the Christmas tree to listen to Darin reading the Christmas story. After that, the chaos began. Opening presents with 9 children (the baby was asleep) is a lot different than opening them with only 2 children. Thankfully there were aunties and other helpers around to give assistance. It was so fun to see the kids opening their gifts and being so thrilled to have a new yellow knit hat, or a shovel and pail or a new car to play with. Darin and I were thrilled with our gifts of Pepsi Max, chocolate, soap and all the other little goodies that the kids had picked out. After the present opening madness, the aunties took the kids out to play and we opened presents with Tyson and Jori in our room. They loved being part of the big group, but it was also special for them to have some special things from family to open up on their own. After a very sunny start to the day, the weather took a turn and we had lots of rain. This meant that we’d be eating supper inside instead of outside as planned. There was some rearranging of the playroom and heavy lifting of tables and soon the playroom was transformed into a lovely dining area. We fed all the little ones but one in our house and had them in bed by 6:30. We sat down to eat the big meal with the TYB family and various members of the Harding family and friends around 7. It was a lovely time of celebrating and just being together. We truly felt blessed to be included and made a part of the larger group.

Two days after Christmas, Auntie Gemma left. This led to a busy few days as Auntie Annelies was now on her own, which meant a lot more time watching children for me. Thankfully the older kids were around to help and Tyson and Jori had fun pitching in as well. After church on Sunday we did some back to school shopping with the kids. Part of me is really eager to get back into a routine and have a little more time to myself, but I am really going to miss having Tyson and Jori around! On New Year’s Eve the Van Gilder’s were back out. This time Darin, Tim and a coworker of Tim’s were getting together to tear apart our shower to try and fix a leak and give us a bit more water pressure. It was a cooler day, which meant the kids were not eager to swim. Thankfully the Wii kept them busy and we managed to avoid too many meltdowns. On New Year’s Day, Auntie Gabriele arrived from Germany. We were happy to have her come, but sad that she wasn’t feeling very well when she arrived (thankfully she is fully recovered now!). That night, I chipped my tooth on tuna noodle casserole. It left a very sharp edge, which was cutting up the side of my tongue.

Now we are up to Wednesday. Tim came back to help Darin work on the shower some more. I think they both were surprised that the project was taking so long, but that seems to be the way most projects go.  By the afternoon, I couldn’t handle my razor edged tooth, so Darin took a nail file and did a little dental work to ease my suffering. He is a man of many talents! My sweet friend Athena, Tim’s wife, had offered to have the kids spend the night at their place, so we quickly made a plan to have them go back with Tim that day and stay over until FRIDAY!! Wow. That is true friendship. On Wednesday and Thursday night, we had a phone call from Jori. She was feeling a bit homesick and sounded so little as we talked to her. It kind of broke my heart a bit, but also made me smile just to picture her on the other end of the phone. Even with our kids gone we kept busy, but it was the kind of busy where you don’t even know what's been accomplished at the end of the day. 

On Friday Darin headed out to the airport to pick up Auntie Nona from Holland. On the way back, he picked up Tyson and Jori. They arrived a little after noon and right behind them were Uncle Lonnie and Auntie Debbie and Auntie Debbie’s mom. It was wonderful to have them here as the extra hands gave me a chance to sit! They even got the kids suited up and in the little pools for a swim. They brought backpacks for DD and Koki, who will be starting preschool on Wednesday! Friday night, Jori was up and laying on our bathroom floor because it made her tummy feel better and on Saturday morning she threw up. Thankfully there were now three aunties around to keep an eye on the kids and I could spend most of the day with my girl. Tyson spent most of the day walking around with an iPod and headphones. We could hear him singing all around the house.

Now it is Sunday, just before lunch. Auntie Gabriele and Auntie Nona are both doing a wonderful job and Jori has perked up quite a bit since this morning and I have finally had a chance to sit down and write about our last couple weeks. As you can see, we keep busy around here! This week will be another busy one with the kids all heading to school on Wednesday and Auntie Annelies heading back to Holland on Thursday. Hopefully once we are back in a routine I’ll be able to carve out some time to sit down and keep you all posted on the current state of affairs here at Tshepo ya Bana.

*All of December’s pictures are up so remember to check them out here!

Build Them a Home Progress Report #3

Wow, wow, wow!!! We are only $50 away from reaching our goal!! Thank you to everyone who gave over the past week. The house is really taki...