Sunday, 30 August 2009

In Case You Were Wondering

Adding another member to your family actually decreases your manpower instead of increasing it. I thought Tommy would help wrap dishes, pack boxes, and sweep up mountains of packing peanuts to help with the move. Instead he wanted to be held, play games, and identify and get into the most dangerous thing in any given room. He actually made the move harder and not easier! Can you believe it???

All that to say the move is "done" but not done. I am ashamed to say it was the most ill-conceived and poorly planned moved I have ever participated in. The crazy part is, 48 hours ago Jeff and I thought we had it all under control. We were sure we were on schedule. But sometime yesterday afternoon it hit me that we had way more left to do than we thought. Then at around eleven PM I realized I was not going to get any sleep. At three AM I decided I was going to sleep, because I was falling asleep sitting up while packing. I made Jeff do the same.

This morning we called in reinforcements, which helped, but did not get things under control. Suffice to say, by the time our help arrived we were only partially prepared, and man, it is hard to move when you are only semi-ready and you have a toddler.

God has given us some very patient friends. Hopefully they are still our friends after today.

The move is not entirely complete. Some of the furniture that we have been trying to give away is still here, as well as everything we needed to survive tonight/tomorrow, our clothes for the next few weeks, Tommy's "Life-box," our boxes for Leah, and the china that I never had a chance to properly pack. The apartment is still filthy (side note: we have been asked again if we will leaving early so the repairs can be done. Our answer was a resounding and entirely truthful: NO- unless they want to do all the cleaning).

I am both emotionally and physically exhausted. We have lived in this apartment our entire married life, so this was really our first home together. That is hard to leave. But we have suffered so much here. We lost Jeff's Dad, and then Leah. It feels appropriate to find a new home for our family- one separated from those events. I know the pain isn't over, but I'm ready for it to be bordered by new walls.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Baby Melanie

17 For I am about to create new heavens
          and a new earth;
     the former things shall not be remembered
          or come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
          in what I am creating;
     for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
          and its people as a delight.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
          and delight in my people;
     no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
          or the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it
          an infant that lives but a few days,
          or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
     for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
          and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
          they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
          they shall not plant and another eat;
     for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
          and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain,
          or bear children for calamity;
     for they shall be offspring blessed by the LORD -
          and their descendants as well.
24 Before they call I will answer,
          while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
          the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
          but the serpent - its food shall be dust!
     They shall not hurt or destroy
          on all my holy mountain,
                                          says the LORD.

Isaiah 65:17-25 (NRSV)

We have heavy hearts. Baby Melanie is in the arms of Jesus, and although we know that her pain has ended, we know too well the hard road her family and friends must now travel as they mourn the loss of her presence in their lives.

We have been neglectful in our updates. Melanie was able to come to the United States for an operation. This was actually facilitated by our adoption agency. They also started a "caring bridge" blog that tells the whole story that you can access here. I have been unable to read it, or really think about the situation, as it has been too overwhelmingly sad for me to handle in this already emotionally stressful time.

Melanie's operation was successful, but because her body had been wearing itself out compensating for the birth defect for so many months it did not have the strength to endure recovery.

Our hearts and prayers are with Patrick and Sarah, Melanie's parents, and Mark and Martha, her siblings.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


How many almost-PhD's does it take to set up a pack-n-play?

Answer: More than two, apparently.

Actually we do have it figured out. It just took us longer than we wanted it to take, because there are way too many extra parts.

I went to Target intending to look at the simple play yards, because Tommy is too big for a "newborn napper station" and all the bells and whistles most of the pricey pack-n-plays have. I saw some that looked serviceable, and I laughed at the one with a vibrating napper, changing table, diaper stacker, and nature sound machine. Seriously, it has five different nature sounds. Five. On a portable crib.

Then I turned the corner and found the clearance section, where the Cadillac of pack-n-plays with sound machines, etc, was half off in last year's color. Half-off the premium was cheaper than the lowest priced plain play yard.

Thus, we are the proud owners of a pack-n-play that has a million spare parts for all the accessories, and an instruction book consisting of pictures and arrows. We have just about a week to get it all figured out, as we have to leave our current apartment at the end of the month. Our new apartment won't be ready until at least the fifteenth, maybe the nineteenth, so we really need that pack-n-play. We will be staying with friends for part of the time, and at a hotel for a few days.

Tommy has a lot of fun helping mom and dad pack

We are concerned about how Tommy will handle all these transitions. If we had a choice we would not be making all these changes so quickly, but it was ultimately not up to us. Besides the craziness of trying to pack our apartment things are going well. Tommy has finished his parasite treatment. We are praying that it worked. We are cautiously optimistic as "things" have improved lately, but, that occurred last time he was treated as well, and the parasite ended up coming back. It would be really unpleasant to be dealing with the giardia while living at a hotel, or in someone else's home. Also, we are awaiting the results from a slew of tests. It took a few days (and far too many tries) to get enough blood to run the tests he needed, and to collect all of the samples. We should have moved into the lab.

Holding Tommy while he endured stick after stick and a do-over on his TB test (negative!) was miserable. I know that older kids fuss too, but at least you can explain to a four year old why they have to get tests and shots for school. Tommy has no ability to comprehend all the poking and prodding, and the look in his big brown eyes- "why are you letting these people do this to me?"- is terrible to endure, especially when our bonds are so new and fragile.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Naptime in Amsterdam

The first leg of our flight home was awful. I refuse to relive it by writing about it. Rest assured, Tommy was a dream during that flight- a real bright spot in the midst of an otherwise wretched experience (well, the food was still good).

We arrived in Amsterdam weary and worn. Tommy was still sleepy and having tummy issues, and Mom and I were exhausted and cranky. I remembered that on our flight out I had seen a play place for kids, and a baby lounge next to the airport art museum, so we decided to check that out. We were hoping for a place to change Tommy and maybe get cleaned up a bit, like a larger "family bathroom" type room. Boy, did we underestimate the Dutch.

The baby lounge had dim lighting and soft music. There were individual circular booths for each family containing a crib and two side seats, and enough room next to the crib to place your carry-ones, all surrounded by gauze curtains to provide privacy. When I looked up, I noticed that there was a projector beaming shapes onto the ceiling for the baby's entertainment.

To the side stood a counter with a microwave for warming milk, two changing stations with sanitizer and towels, and two large tub-shaped basins. When I first saw them, I thought, "sick, who would wash their baby in an airport bath-sink?" Then Tommy had an unpleasant and very drippy diaper, and I found out that the answer was: ME! I consoled myself with the thought that he had probably been in far more germy situations over the course of his life. After all, he has giardia from drinking water contaminated with animal poop, so what could he catch from a sink in the developed world (dry by the way, stainless steel, and very clean looking)?

After bath time and a change of pajamas, we put down blankets and put Tommy in the crib and Mom and I did our best to nap in the seats. Tommy just would not settle down. He wanted to be held, and kept fussing for it. Finally Mom opened her eyes and ordered me to get in the crib with him. The crib was a built-in with a solid bottom, so I obliged. I don't know if Tommy slept, but I had a great nap. I seem to recall that I might have stayed in the crib even after he woke up. I sure needed a nap.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Name Game

"We celebrate the addition of Thomas Anthony OwoNugisha..." reads our church bulletin this week. And the misspellings begin. Actually, they started in Uganda, where Tommy's name was misspelled on his town birth certificate as "Oklomugisha."

Jeff and I talked extensively about whether or not we would change the name of our adopted child, and, without knowing what it might be, decided that if the baby was named by a parent or other family member we would keep and use that name. However, if the baby was named by the orphanage we would consider keeping that name, but likely use it as a middle name and add a family name. We knew that if our child was named by an orphange he or she would have both an English and a Ugandan name, and that we would keep both.

When we received Tommy's file, he was presented to us as "Anthony Oklomugisha." We decided to keep both names, and add on my father's name, Thomas. We planned to call him Tommy, and hoped- beyond hope- that the orphanage had shortened Anthony to "Tony," as the difference between Tommy and Tony is small, especially when you factor in our accents.

Imagine our surprise when we asked the Sister what she called him, and she replied "Baby Jesus. Or just Jesus." That's Jesus with a J, not an H.

Hmmmmm. A far cry from Tony. Or Anthony. Or Owomugisha.

JESUS! She called him Jesus. I still can't get over it. It was just so ...unexpected.

We asked why and we received two very different answers. The first was that he came to the home as a newborn, and many of the babies come in when they are already a few weeks or months old, so the older children (in the three to five year range) were very excited about him and liked to sing him songs, and they got confused because the songs they sang to him were about Jesus, so they started to think he was Jesus.

The second explanation we did not fully understand, but it had something to do with sickness, a miracle, and salvation, and somehow from that his name became Jesus.

Either way he might develop a Messiah complex. He already suffers from confusion during praise songs.

Besides, I can't call my child Jesus. I just can't. And calling him "H"esus, would be a name change too. So, we called him "baby" for the first few weeks, interspersed with Tommy. When he began responding readily to Tommy, we started using it more than "baby."

Now he loves to play "where's Tommy?"

We decided to keep "Anthony" and "Owomugisha" even though Sister insisted that they never called him Anthony and they randomly picked the name off a calendar of Saints (I'm guessing they named him on April 19th the feast day of St. Pavoni, Anthony). He was Anthony to us first, and we like the meaning: "worthy of praise" or "flourishing."

We especially loved the meaning of his Ugandan name "Owomugisha." The full name means "He (the bearer of the name) is blessed." The shortened version, "Mugisha" means "blessing" or "blessed." We think it is appropriate.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Playing Catch-Up

I am officially behind on many things. The worst is the adoption journal. If I don't hurry up I may intentionally forget that last week. We also have no where to live as of August 31. And Tommy has yet to see a pediatrician here in the US (in my defense he went to The Surgery three times in Uganda AND we are waiting for our health insurance to kick in). Less problematic are the growing pile of dishes and laundry. Don't ask about the dissertation. Or how dirty the floor is.

All that is to explain the lack of updates on the blog. They will come. I have so many posts to write about our time in Uganda, and many more cute pictures to post of Tommy.

Tommy loves his crib.

He is a joy. He loves his crib and sleeps from 8 to 6ish. We still haven't set a nap schedule, but he has been going down when he gets cranky without many problems. He will eat almost anything, although not much is agreeing with his poor little intestines right now. He loves music, and has figured out how to open the stereo cabinet and turn up the volume. He has very eclectic taste, his current favorites being Keith Green and Rolling Thunder era Bob Dylan. Mum may go a little crazy with that last one.

First trip to the record store. Definitely not baby-proof.

I am overwhelmed and a bit culture-shocked. I still can't get over how delicious meat is here, or how nice it is to have clean water running from a tap and be able to drink it or brush my teeth with it without having to boil it or get it from a bottle. I feel like I have way too much stuff.

Also, I have survivor's guilt on Tommy's behalf. It is hard for me to watch Tommy playing with his glowing, musical, colorful toys and think that a month ago he had nothing. It is hard to watch him demand yet another banana only an hour after eating and realize that he has never had his need for nutrition met according to his timetables. I am so thankful that we have the opportunity to provide for him and meet his needs. What a blessing is is to share our lives with him.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Welcome Home

Monday, 3 August 2009

Coming Home

Have visa. Am coming.

I received those words via text message at 8:11 am CDT (4:11 pm in Uganda). Beautiful. There should now be plenty of time for them to make their scheduled flight which leaves in about six hours. Pray for safe and smooth travel.

They are coming home.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Visa Due Monday!

Tommy's visa paperwork was accepted yesterday morning without incident. The visa is expected at 4 pm (8 am Chicago) on Monday, and Amy, Tommy and Mary are scheduled to leave Uganda on Monday night!

Please pray:

- For a relaxing and enjoyable final weekend in Uganda (they are spending today at the Speke Resort)
- That the visa would arrive on time and that everyone can leave as planned

And now, some more photos: