Current Child Count

  • HOGAR DE AMOR I: 11 babies
  • HOGAR DE AMOR II: 6 boys
  • HOGAR DE AMOR III: 8 girls

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

can we say luxury??

Last year I was in Texas in July and quite possibly my FAVORITE purchase of the trip was a diaper bag from Wal-Mart.

So cheap and SO HANDY when you are constantly out with 1-3 babies/toddlers, or {many} more.

Remember this picture from a long ago post? Girl Twin E famously climbing IN TO aforementioned diaper bag at a restaurant while her brother slept peacefully. At least it kept her distracted for exactly 1.7 minutes! Multi-use, indeed.

Now with the volunteers and staff taking the kids out even more than me, they are wanting a diaper bag as well....or maybe not something that screams "I'm a mommy" but is just more practical than your purse, where that milk bottle WILL spill or leak before your day is done, and it WILL wet important papers.

So this week I checked out a few links I had saved, of "mother of multiples" recommended bags. WHOAH NELLY!! It's a whole new world! Unfortunately, stuff you never knew you needed until you heard of it. Now I'm not saying that I even understand what all of this means, much less do I want or need it, but what a dizzying array of features and options...

ultra lightweight changing pad (no foam)...oh, was SO concerned about the weight of a changing pad!!
machine washable
Crumb Drains (hm...)
magazine pocket
anti-microbial lining ....let me tell ya, you really don't need this in the US, you need it at the ends of the earth where hand-washing has yet to catch on and diseases that have died out here still thrive there
Mommy pockets (for lipstick. oh, of course.)
Pacifier pockets
key fob
Rhinestone studded zipper pulls
Lots and lots and LOTS of pockets!!!
Picture pockets
Light colored lining (explanation: to avoid the “dark hole” affect when you’re digging around for something. Clever!)
Wet/dry bag for messes
Diaper beds with “memory” foam so that there are no uncomfortable “pressure spots” for baby (???)
Stroller straps
Insulated diaper pockets (and diapers need to be insulated why?)
Premium shoulder padding on straps
No slip grip on straps
Stroller clips
And the “zippered pocket that works on the inside of the bag or out”. Huh?

Some bags had 20 or 30 fabric options, with names like "lotus lullaby" and "black bouquet". Lot of fun, but would make me want 5 or 6 to coordinate with outfits. =)

Loved the name "MotherShip" for one big kahuna bag (the striped one here).

And oh yeah, the prices were nuts - upwards of $100, so I was just dreaming!

A couple of the links (but if you have a baby, you've been forewarned!!):



Saturday, October 24, 2009

taste testing

A few weeks ago when I was at Casa de Amor II, preparations were underway for a double birthday party.

Tia Nahara, "chief baker" at CDA II, icing a big cake

finishing touches!

And there was much loving going on between the kids/tias and our baby F...

Then I was happy to see this sight in the kitchen... the dozen children were told to form a line!


"Cleaning the bowl", Casa de Amor II style

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Checking in from Tennessee...

Today was my first truly productive day since leaving Bolivia 10 days ago. How did it feel? GREAT! Sometimes I think resting is highly overrated.

I feel so much better now that I've emailed back and forth with my administrator and accountant about finances, staff, bank accounts, speech therapists, etc., talked with our bank here about an ATM issue, finished November's CDA I & II schedules, worked on October's e-update, and updated the website.

Oh which means you can now see our brand new brochure!!! Go here, scroll down a bit and you'll see the links.

In summary I also....

Supervised all of Emma's schoolwork/guitar practicing since our Mom is currently visiting Denise Holman while she's in Virginia.

In between reading Amos Fortune and math assignments, I got two emails saying that the main pediatric hospital here would gladly accept me as a volunteer for the next two months. Yeah!!! I filled out the application and we shall see what comes of it...

Laughed out loud as I read the new article "Hurry" from a favorite blogger (also in Tennessee!). Have to admit that she brings up an excellent set of questions.

Made Terayaki Chicken Salad sandwiches for my family's dinner tonight along with Organic Cashew Carrot Ginger soup. Don't get all excited about that one: I'm lovin' how lazy you can be in the US and heated it up from a fancy schmancy box of soup. It was all YUMMY.

No idea why this post happens to have so many links. Of course you don't have to go to any of them, they're just there if you're curious. =)

Later Emma and I enjoyed 40 minutes in the workout room at their apartment complex. SO much fun - this is getting to be a daily ritual! I've never had consistent access to workout equipment before. And well, now's a terrific time! Read: all the cookies and gooey bars and cinnamon-sugar pretzels with icing a girl could EVER want, yikes!!

And in Baby Home news...

Yesterday I called to wish our childcare supervisor a happy birthday, but we could barely talk for the kids yelling my name. So the tias started passing the phone around and I had a blast talking to about 8 or 10 2 to 5 year olds! I'm not entirely sure how many because some only smiled instead of talking, and gasp I couldn't tell who was who very well by phone...and an internet call at that.

You never know what a kid will say. Three year old Jh got on the phone and exclaimed "Tia Jheny!! Have you had your baby yet?!??" The tias dying laughing in the background was just as funny. I suppose he thinks that tias who disappear for long amounts of time can only be on maternity leave!! I told a tia afterwards that I would hate to disappoint him and that I could arrange to pick up a new baby on my way back from the airport if they so desired. =)

They also report that "my baby" (that would be 6 week old baby F) had just finished her bottle and is growing and changing and her face is already different again.

Speaking of airports, a new volunteer arrived today in Bolivia! Check the volunteer blog soon for more.

AND we are off to the one here now to pick up Mom, so signing off...

Pictures in this post courtesy of volunteer Savannah!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

and the kids?

My sister Heather wisely pointed out that perhaps my blog readers would be worried for the children. Who will care for them while you’re
gone?! you may ask. So, just to clarify...

Really, I don't mean to lead anyone astray by the blog, but quite simply the details of my office work wouldn't attract many readers!

The never-ending parade of emails, phone calls to make and receive, meetings with staff members or family members or lawyers or visitors, spending hours writing and editing the next Casa de Amor update email or newsletter, transferring money from the US to Bolivia, signing papers and letters, updating financial reports, reviewing volunteer applications, going downtown to sign papers or meet with lawyers......not always a lot of fun photo opportunities!

While I'm overseeing everything going on in our third floor Baby Home office, visiting the other two homes, and running around Cochabamba, a team of dedicated caregivers and volunteers are...

...feeding the crew, preparing the food, making bottles, changing diapers, keeping the kids (and babies) on a schedule, keeping the washers running, hanging the clothes and diapers to dry, loving and hugging on kids, teaching colors and numbers and helping with homework, kissing away little hurts.....and WAY way more.

I always say I live in the Baby Home because otherwise, I wouldn't have a chance to see the babies! Evenings and weekends (or "wearing" a baby while I work) are my best time to catch moments with them and get in touch with how everyone is doing.

So, not to fear! Our 42 children ages 1 month - 13 years are in great hands while I'm away. All I'm worried about is missing them way too much ...and not recognizing them when I'm back!!

One of my favorite CDA staff pictures, from July 2007

Saturday, October 17, 2009

In the US of A!

After quite the trip...

From mountainous Bolivia (and low land Santa Cruz - no pic)... fashionable, cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, Argentina (awesome city!!)... laid-back Montevideo...

...and beach front Colonia, Uruguay....

I'm now with my {cookie store owner} family, yeah!!

Oh, and did I mention going from three countries joyously celebrating spring (and even Mother's Day in Argentina) to cold, brisk FALL weather?!

It's been a whirlwind, all this within 4 days and 4 nights! I wouldn't recommend it to the faint of heart (or the weak of body - my feet are still recovering and it will take a while to get caught up on sleep), but the five passport stamps in a SINGLE DAY was totally worth it!! So much fun! And too many exclamation points in this post, but I felt SO blessed to be able to have that trip and finally take care of some of my curiosity about other Latin American countries.

Ever since first reading about Montevideo in a travel magazine years ago (12?) I've wanted to learn more. Finally, even though I only had two hours to explore the downtown before a 2 1/2 hour bus ride to Colonia, I've been to this rarely heard of little country!

Saturday, October 10, 2009



a. A leave of absence or vacation, especially one granted to a member of the armed forces.
b. A usually temporary layoff from work.
c. A leave of absence from prison granted to a prisoner.

Permission to take a leave of absence from an organization for a specified period of time.

A regularly scheduled period spent away from work or duty, often in recreation.

When I chose REST as my word-of-the-year back in early January, I was serious.

So even though this year has been extremely full, with more tragedy and challenges than I could ever have imagined as 2009 began, I've also made a point of taking a couple weekends off since my family left in March and finding other moments in the craziness to step back for a moment and...well, smell the roses. I didn't really have a choice if I wanted to hang onto what sanity I still possess!

Now, as mentioned in the above linked post, the time has come to make good on my "mini-furlough" plans. I can still hardly believe it myself, but in just two days I leave Cochabamba for 2 1/2 months!

That is by far the longest since moving here 5 years ago, and in the past 2 1/2 years, I've only been back in the US (Texas) for about 12 days....and spent said time completely worn out from trying to remember how we do things there! Definitely will need to put my own advice to practice as I attempt a graceful “reentry” for a time into my "home" culture.

So, after several weeks of intense organization and delegation, somehow I'm muddling through the goodbyes to the 20 staff members, the volunteers, the 42 children and babies who will grow so much while I'm gone, our lawyers and other friends, Cochabamba International Church's praise and worship team and Monday night women's Bible Study group, to head to Buenos Aires for a little vacation, then Miami to meet with a future volunteer, then onto Memphis and my family!!

This is only possible due to the faithful staff members and volunteers who are willing to increase their load to give me this chance to travel.

A thousand thanks to:

Rosa, Maria, and David, the world's best office team, with matching awesome attitudes, for encouraging me to go

...Katrina & Savannah for sitting through hours of meetings taking notes and receiving dozens of emails from me

...Joe & Denise Holman for talking to me till late one night last week to talk me out of canceling the trip (and ordering me to go and have FUN and spend MONEY, wow!)

...Rehanna, just back from London, for practically high-fiving me and doing a little jig when she found out I was finally taking an extended trip

...and my family for seeming truly excited that I'm coming although I know that at times I'll be like a caged lion! At least I have plenty of catch up work to do, meetings there, and of course will be in touch with the homes throughout the weeks.

So, until I start some catch-up posting, hasta luego...!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

prayer day update

So I said I had to take a posting break for a while, but after working night and day for way too long now, I'm going to take a moment to share some of the special memories and pictures we made today!

First of all, thanks so much to all who prayed and even posted about our prayer day today! Several told me that they were joining in, including my Mom and her friends who got together early this morning to start the day in prayer and then fasted.

Brownie points also to Elizabeth in Scotland who gave up eating her homemade uh, brownies, to fast with us, her "crazy weird noisy family" to use her words (wasn't sure if I should be offended?).

In the afternoon, we had a sweet hour of prayer time in the playroom with 4 caregivers, 4 of us support staff, and 4 sleeping toddlers/babies. I was so touched to listen to the heartfelt prayers and cries to the Lord on behalf of our children, often with tears. How they have caught the vision! How we love each child and desire a family for each one!

Soon afterwards, the pastor of our kids church arrived along with three others to join with us and bless the ministry, children, and staff.

Praying through the main rooms of the house:

And dedicating each child to the Lord (most of the kids in the other homes have been with us long enough to have been dedicated, so we focused on the 20+ in the Baby Home today):

A very precious day of spiritual strengthening!

We even got the terrific news this morning that one of our almost-4-year-olds has been assigned a family! But precisely pointing back to the reasons we're praying, one of the lawyers in child social services is opposing the assignment because she believes that more children should go to national families than international. It's a belief we share, but the judge has made a decision and if one party opposes it, it immediately means that C. is stuck waiting indefinitely.

Keep praying!!

Prayer & Fasting Day

Today in Bolivia at Casa de Amor Children’s Homes, we are entering into a special day of prayer and fasting on behalf of our precious children.

For those who would like to join with us, we are focusing on the following points:

1) The continual paperwork crisis in government offices (child welfare, Child Defense, and the court) including lost papers and files; delays of months or even years to process basic components of a child’s file; dire lack of coordination between government offices and even from one desk to another; ridiculous mistreatment of all who they serve; constant change out of employees; new employees who often have very little experience with the work we do, the laws, child development, what challenges our children or staff face…..and I could go on and on!

We pray for efficiency, honest hard work, and a true love of children for all working in the government offices!

2) Cochabamba desperately needs a new judge! To properly handle the case load for minors, three judges would be ideal. Since last year, we have limped along with just ONE seriously overworked judge but she resigned last week. It is complicated, but because of Bolivia’s new constitution and many changes at every level of government it’s not clear when a new judge might be elected.

Pray for the proper judge(s) to step up to the challenge and handle all the child cases ASAP.

3) Casa de Amor’s Foster Family program has been in the paperwork stage since March 2009, but the challenges listed above coupled with poor understanding and acceptance of the benefits of foster families (versus institutions) has made it a long uphill journey. Of course without a judge, it might prove impossible to transfer children into foster families.

Pray for the speedy passage of our pioneer foster family program and the successful recruitment of several Christian foster families.

4) Currently six children from Casa de Amor II are in the process of returning to either their mother or father. We are very happy for them and pray that the family members will not grow weary during the long process of regaining custody.

We pray that the entire process would go smoothly, that the families would be able to sustain themselves economically, that God would heal the hurts caused by years of neglect, abandonment, and other injustices. Also pray for the emotional stability of the children being “left behind”. And of course, for a JUDGE to be able to process the appeals.

If you pray for just one thing, pray that EACH CHILD WOULD HAVE A LOVING FAMILY!

Thank you so much for standing with us!

“And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” Psalm 9:10

"He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me, declares the Lord." Jeremiah 22:16

“And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:6

“I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.” Psalm 140:12

{Just a note that this might be my last post for a while as things are crazy busy here and I will be traveling next week.}

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

all my children

Yesterday we took the plunge and attempted to get a good group picture of all 42 of our children!

And you think YOUR family photos are challenging....

it takes a whole team to get ours!

Other than dear Twin Girl E screaming her head off (surprising to no one who knows her apart from the adorable pictures)....

...and realizing right after the kids dispersed that little girl A (CDA II) was around back playing, oops....

it was possibly our most painless large group photo yet!

Thanks in large part to Rick Alseth's entertaining shanigans. Should've gotten a picture of that!

Aren't they cute?

Don't miss new baby F in S's arms.

Can't believe they are all "mine"!!!

Gotta love the dark circles...yes, I'm exhausted.

Afterwards we all celebrated B's 2nd birthday!!

His differing abilities...or what do they say these days?...cause him to be at the bottom of the stack to be assigned adoptive parents, but we still hold out hope that he WILL one day have the joy of being someone's beloved son!

Till then...

Happy 2nd Birthday, Benito!!

We're so glad you're ours!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

budding little artists

Our friends at Orphan World Relief asked for some artwork from our kids to display in up to three art galleries in the US midwest as a fundraiser.

Yesterday Tia Elizabeth turned in these finger paintings from the dozen kids of Casa de Amor II.

Aren't they neat?

The top row is from the 4 oldest, siblings
The next row was all created by 6 year olds
And the bottom row is from the 3, 4, and 5 year olds

Bolivians are so creative! Tia Eli found really pretty paper to use.

It will be very interesting to see what Doug at OWR is able to bring in for these. =)

Friday, October 2, 2009

official poll results :-)

Just popping in a moment to announce the closure of our first blog poll! It was fun to watch as everyone voted. Thanks to all who participated!

Here are the final results (also visible at right):

Your blog favorites...

stories of the children, 83%
pictures of the children, 76%
life in Bolivia, 43%
learning what it's like to run a children's home, 43%
reading of missions & missionaries, 40%
learning about adoptions, 20%
(But you who love adoptions are a passionate minority, right? Right!)

Obviously, this was a multiple choice poll. It would be fun to plan one that was NOT multiple choice, hm.....

And to end, a very random picture, but what other picture do you add to a blog post about a poll?

This is from Sunday after church, when lots of us from Casa de Amor ate out with the Holman family. I was shocked to see how tiny the new baby appears when I'm wearing her!

Never mind the "what in the world are you talking about?!" look I'm giving Joe Holman. I've had a lot on my mind lately, what can I say.

Or the bossy finter pointing at Caleb (is he snitching from my Texas Chocolate sheet cake?!)

New baby is still doing great, just now starting to really grow although she still fits in all her newborn clothes. As for me on the other hand, I am so incredibly overwhelmed by an enormous task list with lots of deadlines (to the tune of non stop 16-17 hour days) that I've been too stressed to wear her since Sunday or Monday - would hate to shock her little system!

Back to the race...