Toddler Woes

On Friday morning we went to another babies home.  I was excited to go because I had heard about this ministry for a while.  It is a place that Sara served when she first came to Uganda and a ministry site that most of Rafiki’s volunteers go to at some point while they are in Africa.  It is a baby home for babies who have been orphaned and abandoned.  Many of the babies here are adopted.  It makes me so sad to think about babies being abandoned – they are completely helpless and don’t stand a chance without places like Sanyu to take them in and care fo rthem.

The sad reality though is like many ministries in Uganda, it is understaffed and underfunded.  They do the best with the resources they have, and life there is better than the lfe these babies would have otherwise.  But it was still really hard to be there.

After failing at hanging up laundry because the lines were all completely full, Allie, Bianca, and I went to the toddler room.  This might have been the most stressful hour of my life.  I have no idea if there were 30, 50, or 1527 toddlers in this tiny room.  But it felt like way too many kids  Since this babies home is just a temporary home for these children, I’m guessing that it is hard to establish routine with the kids since there isn’t a constitent group.

Toddlers are tough.  I remember how I struggled to maintain order in the toddler room at the King CDC during college.  My teaching licensure starts at age 3, but I was still required to work in the toddler room and teach lessons in there  I couldn’t control 8 inne city toddlers in Minnesota with several people there to assist me.  I don’t know how anyone could control dozens of toddlers who were abandoned so young here in Uganda.  There was so much hitting and biting and climbing on top of each other and fighting over adults and peeing everywhere.  At one point, the corner of a board book nailed me in the head, thanks to a toddler who was ticked at me for not reserving my lap for him when he wandered away.  I felt like I was surrounded by chaos and even though Allie and I did our best to maintain some order with the children surrounding us, we felt helpless to help the room at large.

I was so thankful when it was lunch time and I could escape the toddler mayhem to give bottles to babies.

Let’s pray for the staff and children here.  I’m so glad that there are people who are passionate about helping toddlers – even when the work is hard and the numbers are against you.  Even though I had a tough day, I’m so glad this ministry exists and am grateful for the many people who come to Uganda to volunteer there.

(we couldn’t take pictures there, so let’s end this post with some Rafiki Kid Cuteness)

Jessica and I heading to church with Cocus and Esther

Carol gives Taylor a new weed every week after church. Like a good auntie, Taylor presses them in her Bible.

yes, we live off of Princess Avenue

seriously – how stinking cute is Esther. I love her.

 

 

 

Baby Watoto

Watoto Church, which we attend here in Kampala, runs several Children’s Villages in Uganda.  We went on a tour of a couple of them on Saturday and it was amazing.  There was so much to see and we learned so much about the incredible work that they are doing, that I think I will be dividing our tour into two separate posts.  Even then I’m not sure I can do it justice.  But bear with me.

Today I’m going to tell you about the Babies Homes.

The first one we visited was called Bulrushes, and it is here in the city of Kampala.

the entrance to Bulrushes

It is in the city because the sick infants as well as the premies live here so that they can quickly get medical attention if needed.  The child to adult ratio is amazing.  There are two babies for every nanny.  The facility itself is just beautiful.  The exterior was so clean and beautifully landscaped.  The inside was also clean, well-maintained, and spacious.  It was also gorgeously painted.  We all want their decorator to come and paint our babies’ nurseries one day.  Or maybe just the walls of our homes.  We were delighted that we got to hold babies and even feed them while we were there.  Melvin, our tour guide had to drag us away.  We just wanted to stay there all day.  This facility was amazingly nice in Uganda, and we think it would be considered really nice in the United States as well.

I can bring this one home with me, right??

There was a cozy four season porch with babies napping and a verandah overlooking a small toddler playground area.  Just like the babies home we would visit in the afternoon, it had a calm, beautiful, and serene atmosphere.

At the end we learned that it is called Bulrushes because the first baby was  named Moses, and so Bulrushes is a reference to in Exodus 2, when Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses floating in a basket among the reeds (which are apparently sometimes called bulrushes) so that was pretty cool!

babies!

We visited a second babies home that was much further away from the city.  It is located at Suubi Children’s village, and it was also just gorgeous.  Unfortunately we arrived during nap time, so there was no baby holding for us here.  We got an in depth tour though, and were once again amazed at what we saw.

Suubi Baby Home

The nanny to baby ratio was a little bit higher here, since these babies don’t have pressing health concerns, but it was still a really good ratio.  There are typical children here and children with special needs.  Children can live at the Baby Home until they are around 2 years old.  They are then transitioned into living at a Children’s Village.  I thought it was really cool though that they have a time period in between the two homes where they are transitioned into not having a nanny by their side all the time and learn to be a little bit more independent.

a group in the UK donated this room to the home. incredible

Another really cool thing is that the vision of the ministry as a whole is to raise of leaders for the next generation.  One girl who recently graduated college and actually just got married is a great example of this.  As you can imagine, formula for so so so many babies is really expensive.  This girl did research on a solution to this, and learned that goat’s milk is similar to breast milk, and she created a plan for the village to have a goat farm and in this way provide milk for the babies.  She presented it to the leadership of the Watoto Children’s villages, and they decided to put it into practice.  They now have a goat farm, and since the babies have started drinking goat milk, not only have costs gone down, but less babies are getting sick.

Goat farm at Suubi Village

check out the view!

 

diaper wall!

Baby Jordan!

Seven years ago I got hired as a kindergarten teacher.  I started on the Friday Labor Day weekend.  Talk about a stressful beginning.  Then a few weeks later, with enrollment still going crazy, we added an 8th section of kindergarten at our school.  That is when I met Jill.    (If I thought starting the weekend before school started was stressful, it was nothing compared to being hired a couple weeks into the school year!)  She is probably one of the main factors I survived my first year teaching.  We have worked together for the past seven years.  We’ve been pink slipped together, taught summer school together, and along with our friend Beth, we went got our masters degrees together.  Jill is a fabulous teacher, a great coworker and a wonderful friend.  I was so incredibly excited to find out she would be having a baby this spring – and last week I was thrilled to finally meet little Jordan.

Jill, here are a few pictures of Jordan!  I’ll send you the rest soon 🙂

Welcome Sweet Baby Girl!

I was so excited to have the opportunity to take pictures of this sweet little girl.  Andi was born to my friend Becky and her husband Adam just over two weeks ago.  She may be two and a half weeks old, but she is still just a petite little peanut, not even really fitting into newborn clothes yet.

She was quite convinced she wanted to stay awake for her photoshoot, but after some sweet talking (ok, after eating, a diaper change, and some rocking) she was an adorable little sleeper for the rest of our time.

Forgive us the fact that we kept her laying the same and just switched out the color headband 🙂  We were trying to encourage her to continue her nap, so we didn’t want to move her around too much… But I think her pictures turned out adorably!

Playing Photographer. a favorite game.

This past weekend was so great for so many reasons.  Two of the reasons are that on Saturday and Sunday I got to play photographer for a family that I love and for a sweet little newborn baby who is the son of two of my best friends from high school.

Perhaps someday I will share with you some pictures of the family I photographed, so that you can say, “Wow, Laura!  I really like these pictures a lot!  Will you take pictures of my family?”  to which I will reply, “Yes!”  But that won’t happen for a while, because I don’t want to give away their family Christmas cards.  I will tell you that spending the afternoon with them made my heart so happy, as did seeing their beautiful family pictures!  They are a huge blessing to me.

So without further ado, I would like to share with you a preview of the pics I took of this sweet little baby boy.  I love him.  He is precious and tiny.  You will love him too.  Steph and Jonathan, here are some of my favorite pictures from Sunday.  I will bring you by a complete CD with the rest of the pics soon!

and last, but not least, my favorite one of the day.

Welcome Jeremiah!  We are so glad that you are here!

Welcome Baby J!

My good friends Steph and Jonathan just had their first child – a handsome little baby boy.  I’m so excited for them as they set out on this new adventure in life called parenting.

I have known Steph and Jonathan for over ten years.  We all went to high school together, and Steph and I went to Bethel together as well.  We became friends in biology and English class, bonding over both the fact that my church “stole” her church’s youth pastor, and that we both wrote essays about wanting to teach kindergarten, listing virtually the same reasons as each other.  Clearly we were meant to be friends.  We have spent time studying God’s word together, laughing together, and having great conversations about life.  And going on many ridiculous adventures.  I’m scared to know how many cumulative hours we have spent on the phone together.  She is one of the sweetest and most encouraging people I know and is going to be SUCH a great mom.  Little Jeremiah is a lucky boy.

We became friends before the era of digital photography. So let's pretend this picture is from 1999 instead of 2005

Jonathan and I have been friends for years as well.  He and I had a photo competition taking engagement pictures for our friends Mike and Sara.  He taught me everything I know about playing MarioKart, and is a talented musician.  He loves Jesus, he loves his wife, and he loves his son.  He will be a terrific dad 🙂

Jonathan's Winning Photo

My winning photo

I visited Steph and Jonathan in the hospital after their baby boy was born, and it was so great to see them so full of love and joy for their new son.

It is crazy to think that our friendship has taken us from this: 

To this: 

To this:  

Isn't he a cutie!! I hope to be invited over to take more pictures someday soon (hint, hint)

I can’t wait to see what God has in store next for us all 🙂

On tutus and babies…

Baby girls and tutus – does it get much better than that?  My roommate and I were just discussing that it is really quite unfortunate that tutus are not generally accepted everyday-wear for adults.  Because how awesome would that be??

I’m not looking to start any fashion trends though, so I will focus my tutu efforts on appreciating the adorableness of this baby in particular.  I was delighted today that not only did I get to see her cute skirt, but I also got to take pictures of her!  Seriously people – can we get any cuter?  Thanks Sara, for letting me take pictures of your little girl.  Here are some of my favorites from this afternoon 🙂  Next time we’ll capture her smiles, but today’s pictures were pretty darn cute as well.  (Click here to be amazed at how much this little girl has grown in 4 months)

Here is my favorite black and white photo of the day:
And here are my favorite two photos overall: LOVE!

Baby Love

My amazing friends had a beautiful daughter last Saturday.  I was honored to visit them in the hospital the day she was born.  We were so excited to meet her!

As I don’t have any children of my own, I don’t really have any great parenting advice to pass on to them.  So I turned to the ones who obviously know best what a good mom or dad does: I asked the kindergartners.

Here is their sage advice:

Be nice and get some milk for her.

If the baby cries, she just has to carry the baby and give it a little walk and then you know kind of play with her a little bit.  Then she can play with her toys, like you know kids like to eat beads, but kids cannot eat beads, so they can just give the baby milk or formula.

If the baby is crying, you can go and give her some milk.

She should take care of her and love her and kiss her on the cheek.

Feed the baby every day.

You can be a good parent.  Take them outside to get fresh air.

Give them a bath.  My baby has a thing that you sit in, but my baby doesn’t use it anymore.  Like a baby tub.

The baby can be potty trained.

My mom took care of me and I know how to be a good mommy.  Take them for a walk and give them fresh diapers every day.

Change the diaper.

The way you can take care of your baby is give them toys to play or give them a smile or shake their tummy and then they will feel good and they will laugh and laugh and laugh and they will have a good times.  They can watch TV for a little while and then go to sleep and then wake up and have a fun time with her mom.

Feed the baby milk.

This is how you take off diapers on babies.  You just take it off and wipe them and then you change them and you get another diaper and you put it back on there.

You feed them with the bottles.

Take them outside for a walk and let them smell the fresh air.

Have a great time and just kind of do some stuff and sing them when they eat.  Baby juice, and baby food, and baby water.

When they are eating you can say “choo choo” in the mouth and they can open the mouth and eat it.

Thanks kids!  Here are my takeaways:  (Parents out there, listen up)

  • Change your baby’s diaper
  • Give your baby kisses
  • Feed your baby
  • Give your baby some fresh air
  • Don’t let your baby eat beads.

Follow those steps, and I’m sure you will be the best parents ever!

p.s.  Thanks for letting me take pictures of your sweet baby girl!  Love her 🙂

Starsheep, babies, and cupcakes.

This past weekend was the kind of weekend to write home about.  It was just that good.  It was filled with my favorite people and doing some amazing fun things.  Oh, how shall I even begin to recap?

Friday = Baking Day.

Steph and I threw a baby shower for our dear friend Sara on Saturday, so Friday was prep for that.  I’m fairly certain that Jesus knew I wouldn’t have time to accomplish everything I needed to and still sleep, so He arranged for my principal to allow us to work from home on Friday afternoon.

*Disclaimer: we did not have kids at school on Friday – the afternoon was already slotted for report card prep.

So in between entering grades, I made mini muffins (baking tip #1 – know how many a recipe makes.  This may prevent you from making 24 giant mini muffins instead of 36 actual mini muffins)

I also baked Oreo Cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes.  I was excited to use my new adorable spatula and decorating dots from Jill and my decorating book from the sibs. 

And I made use my own brilliance.  They were a hit!  Here are some photos of the epic success.  (Please humor me while I celebrate when this happens, because not all of my baking turns out brilliantly). 

Saturday = Crazy Busy Day O’ Fun

In the morning we had Sara’s baby shower.  It was so fun to celebrate with her, and also amazing to see friends I hadn’t seen in years.  I loved catching up with everyone so much!   My students were also excited to hear about the baby shower, and promptly requested a field trip to the hospital to visit my friend and her baby when the baby is born.  Don’t worry Sar – I asked, and none of them have a bus, so they accepted the crushing of their dreams with the answer of “no” to their field trip wish.

Then Saturday night, my church had a film fest – it was incredibly fun.  People could form a team and then were given a two week window to make their 3-6 minute films.  Everyone was a assigned a genre, a mandatory prop: a hula hoop and a mandatory line: It’s like drinking from a firehose.

After the premiere of all the films, awards were given.  It is the one time of year our church dresses up.  Personally, I made good use of my bridesmaid’s dress from my brother’s wedding.  It was the right choice.

I must say I love attending church with so many ridiculous and creative people.  A lot of groups, including my roommate and some other friends of mine made really funny movies.  I think if you search 707 Film Fest on the internets (specifically youtube) you should find some of them posted for your enjoyment

This by far my favorite: (before watching it, you should know that The City is an online platform for churches – similar to facebook, yet quite different – and that is where we sign up for events and get info on what is happening at the church etc)  (You should also know that you don’t need to be familiar with The City to enjoy)  (You should also know that this will not leave your head for weeks)  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  But you should still watch it.

You should also know that afterwards I was able to meet several members of the band.  It was a real honor.  I got my starsheep poster autographed and have it hanging in my room.  

Which brings us to Sunday.  The day of rest.  Thank goodness!

The Tunnel vs. The Museum

Sometimes it is the little things in life that count.  Actually, I take that back.  More often than not, it is the little things in life that count.  My kindergartners reminded me of that this week as we went on a field trip to the children’s museum.

My kids arrived at school that morning practically jumping out of their skin.  It was their first field trip, and many of them had never been to the Children’s Museum before.  I wish I could adequately describe the way they couldn’t handle sitting down in their seats and doing their work, but basically were prancing around the room excitedly chattering.

They did have a great time at the museum, but their excitement over playing was NOTHING compared to the excitement in the air when we drove through the Lowry Hill Tunnel.

This led me to think of some of the little things that have brought me joy this week.

#1 – I got my new computer battery this week.  After months of my computer shutting down if I breathed funny while using it, I finally have a computer battery that can hold a charge.  As you can imagine, it is a great feeling to be able to flinch while I use the computer.

#2 – Cookie Dough Dip. My sister and I made this on Saturday night and ate it with Nilla Wafers while we watched Inception.  Even though she lives approximately 17 hours (read 40 min) away, it was fun to go hang out with her and eat tasty snacks.

#3 – Holding a baby as he falls asleep.  I was able to babysit for an adorable 3 yr old and 6 mo old this weekend.  I don’t have a lot of babies in my life, so it was fun to be able to play with the kids, and then rock the baby to sleep.  So precious.  Love it.

#4 – Days off of work. On MLK day, a bunch of my friends and I went to lunch.  Then I was able to spend the afternoon visiting with another friend of mine – which is always terrific, and as an added bonus, I got to hang out with her kids  – who happen to be some of my favorite kids.

#5 – Free things. Shutterfly wants to thank me for being such a good friend, so they have sent me a free photobook.  I think I will use it to make a month by month book of 2010.  I will probably highlight each month’s photos on here.  So that is something to look forward to.

#6 – Blogs. I have discovered a couple of really great missionary blogs in the past few weeks. I have loved reading their stories and the ways God is working in other places in the world.  Check out Katie’s story: http://kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com/ I think that I spent an entire weekend reading her story chronologically from start to finish.  I would highly recommend it to you.  But be warned, it will be difficult to walk away once you start.