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Showing posts from September, 2011

Ethan's South Africa trip update

We mentioned some things in our prayer letter, but let me take a moment to update the rest of you on Ethan's follow up with the endocrinologist. As background info, our kids are all small, but they've all stayed true to their growth patterns. They usually hover between the 3rd-20th percentiles. No problem. Except suddenly, Ethan almost completely stopped growing between Dec 2008 and now, making him fall from the 20th to well below the 3rd. We were seen by a pediatric endocrinologist in July of last year, and it was determined that his Growth Hormone (GH) levels were normal, so we waited and prayed.

Despite reassuring growth between last July and November, Ethan's growth velocity (cm/month)for the year as whole was slow enough to have him drop further off the growth chart. After much discussion, the endocrinologist finally convinced me that it's time to start GH treatment. I was really resistant, because it's such a big step. It's expensive, we have to travel to …

The benefit of the doubt

A good friend has impacted our lives forever. We won’t mention any names (Luke Safford!!!) but he introduced my husband to bird-watching. Things will never be the same. Case in point? He’s now documented 150+ species since he started 2 months ago. Granted, this is Malawi, one of the best bird-watching places in the region. But still, I assure you 150 species represents many an hour spent with binoculars out in the fields, or hunched over the “Birds of Sub-Saharan Africa” book which I bought him in a moment of weakness! To his credit, he usually takes at least 1 kid out with him. He’s bound and determined to turn them into bird-watchers too, though it’s yet to take.

But this is all just in introduction. See, the real story is that we took a volunteer team to Zambia last month so that they could safari in the game park there. We camped (in tents) at a wonderful site, despite a friend questioning the wisdom of camping near a game preserve in Africa (something about lions and leopards, I…

Back to routine

The kids are back in school and we’ve all adjusted pretty well. Ethan adores his new teacher, and she has been very sweet and patient with his distractibility. So far so good for grade 1! Now that doesn’t mean homework is any easier—how can a child take over an hour to write out 8 spelling words????

Anya is in grade 4, and it’s been a harder adjustment. I’m not sure why—her teacher is great and she’s with most of her friends again. Her first day of class she came home dancing because the teacher doesn’t assign homework, they just have to finish what they didn’t finish in class. Despite her joy, I had a sense of impending doom. And I was right…she has homework every day, because she never finishes anything during class! When I tried to talk to her about it, she said with pure disgust, “I know mom—it’s teaching me ‘responsibility!’” (insert teeny-bopper attitude here). She has projects to work on over weeks, and she waits until the night before. She has tests to study for, and she can…

Ponderings of an American far from home

Our summer full of volunteers is over now, and we're slowing getting back into 'normal' routine. The first couple meals I cooked for just our family seemed ridiculously small, but we've adjusted. But seeing all our friends and visiting with so many Americans has made me realize I've forgotten some things. Nothing major, just small stuff that made me realize I've been away for kind of a long time.
1. Americans smell really good! Our volunteers were tough-cookies, with no prissiness in any of them. Yet even these down-to-earth ladies who were willing and able to walk for miles in dirt and sit on mud hut floors and eat goodness-knows-what in the villages would come in from showering and smell like heaven! It made me realize that smells are very culture-bound. Now, I realized the minute I stepped off the plane that body odor is most definitely viewed differently by different cultures! But, for example, the dish soap we can get is scented..."smells ammonia fres…