Saturday, February 16, 2013


        All I wanted was a sip of water last weekend as I lay there with the stomach flu in our hotel near Disneyland. I had resigned myself to the fact that I had to miss my kids enjoying our second day of Disneyland. My parents had treated us to this fantastic trip, and sadly, I ended up pretty sick for the last day. The kids didn't seem bothered at all, and off they went to explore and ride and play.
       So, I tried to sleep, though the nausea and trips to the bathroom were not ignorable interruptions. I decided to take a warm bath, and as I looked at the crystal clear water pouring out of the faucet as the tub was filling, I felt grateful to have access to this clean water. My mind flashed back to the brown water that used to run out of our faucet in Kenya. Even so, we were more privileged than the vast majority of the population to have access to running water at all, though non-potable as it were. In fact, nearly one billion people (out of the world's approx. seven billion) have no access to any clean water at all. This translates into 2 million people dying each year from diarrhea - 1.5 million of those deaths are children. After pneumonia, diarrhea (both preventable with clean water access and treatable) is the second leading cause of death for children worldwide. (See the World Health Organization's site for these and other shocking water-related facts).
         I knew as I sat there in the hotel room, that I was experiencing something that incredibly rarely, if ever, happens to me. There was a basic necessity that I wanted but I couldn't have it. Actually, it wasn't even that I couldn't have it, but rather that I knew if I drank anything at that point in time it would make me feel very, very ill. I needed some water, but it was going to make things worse for me.
         Its hard to stomach that so very many kids needlessly die from diarrheal diseases though preventable by clean water. Adults live perpetually ill with parasites. Still recovering from the stomach flu, I literally cannot imagine living or functioning, let alone providing for my family day in and day out while feeling like this. People all over the world have to drink water to survive, but the water that they drink will make them feel worse, at the least. It is really quite difficult to imagine. And unfathomable is thinking of the effects that water could have on my kids.
          As I have learned more, I cannot believe how unaddressed this issue is. Many strides have been made in the last few years, but they are like drops in the bucket of this problem. Interestingly enough, dollar for dollar, clean water is the most effective and impacting giving we can participate in to help alleviate poverty. Check out this excellent article for more info on this subject. Much needs to be done and this shouldn't be ignored.As we have been coming into this season of Lent, where people often choose to give up something, I have been thinking a lot about if or what to give up. With an opportunity like Significant Sacrifice right in front of me, it should be a non-issue for me to sacrifice something - for I still remember holding my very own son, immediately after we had adopted him from Ethiopia. He was limp and dehydrated from a water-borne parasite that was ravaging his little body. How could I possibly not give up something so that I can help that not have to happen to anymore sweet babies?
     Often my ability to focus on my own self and immediate surroundings tends to push everything out of my mind, the same way my desire for just a sip of water took over my thoughts this weekend. However, this time I'm grateful because it helped strengthen my resolve to bring this issue to light and make sure I actually do something about it this time.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Becoming SLOcals...

      We set off on this journey knowing that we needed to go. We thought this job would be great for J (and it really is), that it would be hard to leave family and friends (and it was even harder than anticipated), and that this would be a nice place to live (it's even better than we expected). We honestly really like it here, largely because God has already crossed our paths with some very kind and welcoming people. People whose thoughtfulness and hospitality totally put me to shame. One of the most important things in our adjustment has definitely been finding a church we really like. Being a part of a community is such a huge thing for me, and the church we found is great. The other young (do I still count as a young??) moms I have met there are great and the services have resonated with us. I am looking forward to building deeper friendships.

      We love the school and the fact that there aren't a lot of choices so everyone in our town really does go to school together. I got to volunteer in B's class, which was really fun, too. Her teacher is wonderful and B seems to be enjoying the new group of kids. T is loving his school, too, and is often disappointed when I get there "too early" to pick him up. Because its small we walk around town to both kids' schools, dance class, the park, the post office, and the farmer's market and actually see the same people. We drive into the adjacent two towns for things like church, the dry cleaner, the library, and Target, or over the hill to San Luis Obispo if we want to get crazy and go to Old Navy or Costco. I have to plan my errands a bit better, though I am spoiled with a Trader Joe's as the only grocery store in town.
       We have only officially lived here for over a month. It feels way longer than that. Not in a "terrible, every day is a billion years" kind of way, but more in the "wow, a lot has been figured out and happened in the last thirty days." Lots of logistical things have been taken care of: we are settled into our house, I know where to grocery shop, family members have had hair cuts, we have been to the DMV (3 times), and to the doctor (5 times :/ ). I remember being in Kenya and feeling a sort of culture fatigue after we lived there for our first month. It's where you are just tired because basic tasks take more effort to accomplish and friendships require lots of intentional thought so you don't scare them off with your craziness. At first, there is just no auto-pilot playdates or errands. And sometimes it makes you tired. Kenya was obviously significantly more so, but this much smaller scale feeling is reminiscent of that. I do feel like in these wearying new and unfamiliar situations God comes near and causes me to grow. I am very grateful for that. 
      Because J hasn't had to travel yet, we have had lots of family time which has been SO great for all of us after what was a very travel-ful 2012. On the weekends we have been to the Santa Barbara Zoo, Shell Beach Park, Avila Beach, and Morro Bay. The beaches are still pretty windy and cold, and the kids inevitably get soaked and subsequently whiny, but we are enjoying the pretty views! We found a group of people with children adopted from Ethiopia who get together monthly, too, which was a great find in a "not-so-diverse" area.  

There have been some things we have had to get used to or have discovered by living in a smaller area, too. Here are a few random observations...
1. If you need clothing and want to drive less than 30 minutes, Target, Kohl's, and a J.C. Penney's, that looks like it is on the verge of closing down, are your only major options. 
2. People on the Central Coast love Tri-tip steak - the grills at the parks are large enough to put entire cows on.
3. SLO county is very "green." The city of SLO has no drive-throughs to prevent pollution from idle cars, and the entire county has outlawed plastic bags. I remember to bring in my reusable ones about 50 percent of the time (this is up from never in AZ). The remaining time I have to buy paper bags for 10 cents a piece...
4. The majority of people in the area went to one of two high schools and the remainder went to Cal Poly. They are also often married to someone's cousin or at least know 2/3 of the population.
5. Fruit is fresher and more delicious here. They enjoy native hybrid berries like the Lala berry? Sometimes in conversations about fruits or vegetables or vineyards I feel like a city slicker. I have never seen a Lala berry in Costco's produce section...
6. The majority of neighborhoods around here have neither sidewalks nor streetlights...that's very different for us!
     All in all, a lengthy 30 days in, I feel like we have all adjusted pretty well so far. J's job is great - he is a really good fit for the direction the organization is headed. We are pretty excited about what the spring will be bringing for Lifewater and the people they serve! (One way you can get involved is with their Significant Sacrifice Project. I will post more about that soon.) And, being away seems to draw us closer as a family, since we really depend on each other. We have only had a couple of teary times missing our dear family and friends, and phone calls from AZ help a lot! The grandparents will both be out in the coming month so we are feeling really excited to see them! Who's coming out next?!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

One Week In...

At the aquarium

      Wow, much has happened in seven days! We left AZ one week ago with teary goodbyes to parents/grandparents, and then stayed a couple of nights in hotels along the way to our new home in the Central Coast. We did stop at Long Beach aquarium for a little fun reprieve for the kids. The touch tanks were a particularly big hit - we started calling T the "shark whisperer" as he was all over petting the tiger sharks. W also enjoyed sticking his hands in, though his salty, wet hands often ended up in his mouth directly after :/ He did get car sick later on that afternoon, but who knows if the water from the starfish tank could be to blame. B loved the sea lions and then spent a good amount of energy trying to negotiate a trip to the gift shop. The timing was bad since we had just been quickly reminded of the ridiculous amount of stuff we (read: she) already has as the truck was being loaded. Nevertheless, it was a lot of fun to go back to a place we hadn't been to since we lived in CA several years before.

    On the 29th we arrived to our new home which is absolutely wonderful! If you remember our experiences with apartment renting in Pasadena this is especially significant. It is a great space and fits us quite well. Our landlords are unbelievably kind and thoughtful. They built the house themselves (literally, not the way J and I have 'built' spec homes). It has gorgeous details like a fireplace and crown-moulding and wainscoting. The neighborhood is like nothing we have experienced - very quaint and rural in nature - two doors down they have a horse, our next-door neighbors have what appears to be Mater parked on their side yard, and certain homes seem to have taken the whole HOA-free thing and run with it. All of the neighbors are very kind. Many of them have lived here for decades. On day one the elderly man across the street came and told J his insulin schedule immediately. Then the 13 year old boy from the next house over told J he doesn't speak to said elderly man because he started a rumor that his mother was running a brothel out of her house. This was a lot of information to take in on your first day in town. The lady on the other side came over and told me her somewhat sorrowful life-story within moments of meeting us, and the guys who unloaded our stuff were wearing wranglers and saying, "How d'ya do, ma'am?" to me. I felt renewed in Christ's calling to love people, regardless of their background and how different they are from me. I have always known that is what Christ calls us to and attempted to do it, but I guess in my previous context I just didn't have as many opportunities right around me to get uncomfortable. I think I'm realizing that different can be good even if it only slightly moves me out of my HOA-stucco-coated-track-home comfort zone. And, we have since met several families at the park and the local children's museum who live in our area and absolutely love it. 

Our house from the backyard (didn't have a front pic to share!)   

      J is really enjoying his job which is so exciting and confirming that we are in the right place right now. They are doing great things at his organization and his talents are a great fit for where they are headed. We are so proud of him. B even made him a "congrats on the new job, hope you have a good year." picture today. :) He has also been great with me and my emotional swings through this. Moving is intense...I seem to forget that even though we have done it rather frequently. I think interstate moving takes it up a notch though for sure.
     The backyard                                                    Behind the backyard near the creek and berry bushes.

The kids have done really well - they love the backyard, the land behind the yard, the park down the street, the stairs, and the fact that we were able to go spend the day at the beach on Monday. We found a gorgeous cove beach about 40 minutes away. The big kids got almost completely submerged though it was still cold and they were wearing winter clothes. B went home in her shirt and undies, T however had to wear his sandy wet pants, because upon arrival we discovered he had neglected to wear undies that day. All that being said, they have mentioned multiple times missing their family and friends in AZ, and I can certainly relate. 

         We are starting to meet people which is good because B and I desperately need friends, acquaintances, people who know our name...anyone really! She has been really nervous about school and wrote up a list of her worries to give to her teacher. It absolutely broke my heart to read her being worried about "if no one likes me, if I can't find the bathroom, if I have to cry, etc." Since then, I have almost accosted every little girl we see who looks kindergarten age and "encouraged" her to be B's friend. We did find a little girl in kindergarten at her school who she played with at a museum, so that was huge. Next week she will have her first day, so I am praying for fast friends. People keep raving about the school and apparently she got the best kinder teacher so I'm happy about that! Stay-tuned for the first day of school and adventures in unpacking (exciting, I know...) Thanks for the emails, texts, fb messages...they definitely help this girl when I am feeling homesick!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Musings about Moving...

     We are moving out of state in less than three weeks and I'm partially in denial. Practically I have been trying to get ready, mostly by getting rid of stuff. It seems that in my head there is a sort of echelon of what items are worth keeping if you are moving locally as compared to what items should be gotten rid of when you are moving out of state on a truck that charges by weight. Suddenly, I become less sentimental and more realistic about my aptitude for resourcefulness (no, I probably won't use the Baggie of adhesive Velcro strips that came with something I don't have anymore but that I thought maybe I could use for something someday...) In fact, I am finding a lot of freedom in simplifying and forcing myself to let go of the least essential things.
     My two older children on the other hand...are not. With T it isn't too huge of a problem, it's mostly "out of sight, out of mind." I just sneak out broken toys and pine cones and things he has outgrown as though I am a secret agent. Most of the time he never remembers the items - unless he accidentally sees them in the trash or the donation pile - like the time I had to bring my kids back to a non-profit to retrieve all of my husband's best dry cleaning which were (unbeknownst to me) in the trunk with the pile of donations we had dropped the day before. As if it wasn't mortifying enough to ask for clothing back from a charity, T notices his old bean bag chair in a corner and I drag him out crying.
    B on the other hand keeps everything and also physically card catalogs every single item in her brain. It's as if she has a running rotation in her memory of things she needs to check and make sure she still has. "Mom, where is the ripped foam cowboy hat that came on my cotton candy when you took me to the circus when I was 2 1/2?" It's really quite remarkable. She is getting a little better, but mostly I am trying to figure out how to keep her (and us) off an episode of Hoarders.
    So, I have been focusing on getting rid of things and getting organized, which mostly may be my coping mechanism so that I don't have to think about all of the people we're leaving. We have really great families, the sweetest neighbors, and I truly have some unbelievably wonderful friends that will be ridiculously hard to leave behind. I get teary if I think about it. So,  instead I think about to-do lists and logistics. I have never been good at change, though it seems as though God is giving me lots of practice to get better at it. And I think I am...just maybe  slowly enough to realize that I need to cling to Him all the more.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Back in the Game!

     So, it's been 18 months since I have posted. Not coincidentally, W turned 18 months old today. It's not that I intentionally "quit" the blog, it's just that two five-year-olds and a newborn (that quickly turned into a really "climb-y" toddler - see above picture!) made the choice for me. However, there is no time like the present to get started again! That is especially true when you have some news to share...
         J has just been offered the amazing opportunity to lead an organization which helps to provide access to clean water all over the world. It is an amazingly effective development tool and they do it for the "least of these" in Jesus' name. We feel honored that he gets to be a part of it, and they are thrilled to have him with his background and talents. Here is their website so you can check it out: Lifewater International. We are really excited to say the least!      
     The other side of the excitement is the bittersweet fact that since the organization is based out of San Luis Obispo, CA, we are...moving back to California at the beginning of the year (just the central coast this time)! We have been so spoiled with our amazing family and so many incredible friends nearby. Here in AZ we have a great new house (which we will be renting out - anyone interested??) and sweet neighbors and a great school for the kids. But we are feeling much peace in the midst of transition, which confirms that we are indeed headed in the right direction. We feel grateful for J to have this opportunity to serve the world's poor in this way, helping to open up the opportunity to have clean water and the health and life that comes with it. And, as you probably know, we are usually up for a good adventure with a good purpose - or we are just crazy and restless, but I prefer to think the former. This man that I married has made my life more interesting than I ever could have anticipated it would be - and I like it. Please remind me of this in a few weeks when I am surrounded by boxes and I don't have any dear friends or family within 400 miles!
     Anyway, we found a great home (owned by the sweetest family - I am hoping 'she' won't mind being my friend!) to rent in a very small town outside San Luis Obispo, where J's office will be. We can walk to great schools and they have a Trader Joe's! Right behind our backyard is a creek, and there are tons of grapes and berries growing. It's wine country. This will be like nothing we have experienced before. Hence, me starting to blog again. I want to use this as a way to better keep in touch with our dear family and friends, and to record the chaos as it unfolds. So there you have it. We are moving in a few weeks! Yikes - it seems more real when I type it. I am going to miss our precious family and friends so much...hoping to entice you out for visits by the fact that we will be 30 minutes from the beach! This Thanksgiving I feel like no words could express my thankfulness to God for the journey we are on, the incredible man I am married to, the precious children by our sides, and the unbelievably wonderful family and friends we are graced with. It's definitely enough to humble a girl in gratitude :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Will's Homecoming :)

Today I feel like my heart is overflowing with joy! We have our three babies all together at home at last! The last few days have been long for sure. I was discharged on Thursday, and tearfully had to leave our little guy in the NICU. The Dr. wanted to make sure that he received a full 7-day course of two different kinds of antibiotics. It was good that we were able to go home and reconnect with B and T, as much as would would have rather left altogether. Maybe that will make this whole transition better. They had come in to see him at the hospital and hadn't been too impressed. Then they got anxious to have him home so maybe this extra mommy and daddy time filled their tanks a little.

So, the last few days I tried to go over there as much as possible. I spent most afternoons snuggling him skin to skin - the hospital happened to be huge advocates of kangaroo care, and that became my best friend! Since I am trying to breastfeed I tried to do that as much as possible and he has done pretty well going back and forth between the bottle and breast so far. I am nervous about whether or not he'll keep it up when we get home since he is used to at least a few bottles a day, but we'll see. It has been a really wonderful way to bond since I have been feeling pretty sad that I haven't been able to do much of his care giving during his first week of life. I can't even begin to explain how excited I am to have him home. I adore that little boy so very much.
Miraculously enough, Will seems to have recovered entirely from his rough start. The dr. said that he doesn't think he will have any long term effects from the cord being around his neck or tummy or the fluid in his lungs which caused him to need assistance immediately with breathing. He also said that the infection in the placenta should be entirely taken care of with these antibiotics. His breathing is good and he doesn't seem to have any jaundice at this point. I can't tell you how amazing it was to hear all of this after seeing the heart rate in the 50's and the pale, limp infant they were wheeling out of the operating room one week ago. The strange thing is that no one can give me any explanation for what would have caused these things, nor why he has done so well. I truly believe it is a miracle and a true answer to all of the prayers which people have been praying for him through this entire pregnancy. The doctor told us to start saving for Harvard or Princeton. I wanted to give this guy a hug...but instead I just tearily thanked him for saving our little boy's life. Honestly, everyone at the hospital was amazing - we had a wonderful experience, and we are so glad that God nudged us to go there (where there was a great NICU) long before we knew we were going to need it.
So, now that he is home, real life begins. I am still extremely sore. I didn't realize that C-sections hurt so badly, and I have been feeling a bit discouraged that at a week out and on pain meds there is still constant pain. Will is definitely worth it all x 100, but I just hope that I can heal soon so I can do a good job taking care of our now 3 (!) kids. Slowing down doesn't come easily to me. I feel like God has been teaching me greatly about trusting him, and I am sure this is all part of the continuing lesson. Less of me, and more of Him.
Will loves to eat, can sleep through the utter chaos of his siblings and is happy being held constantly. I really think all of this has given me a new appreciation for every snuggle and just the newborn stage in general. I had forgotten how amazing it is. I love his sweet newborn smell, how he roots when he is hungry. I love watching the big kids be so precious with him. I just kind of wish I could freeze frame things for a bit to soak it all in. God has been so very good to us in bringing us from one of the scariest nights of our life to one of the most perfect times - and all in only a week!
Thanks for your prayers and for listening to our story. I am so amazingly blessed by my wonderful husband and three precious kids! If I didn't have this abdominal pain, I'd probably need to pinch myself! Hey - maybe that's why it's there! :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Will's Story

It is pretty amazing to be a part of a miracle. Especially, when your miracle involves a very faithful God and an amazing little boy. Ours started Saturday evening. I had been having contractions about 5 minutes apart for several hours. They weren’t too intense to stand and they weren’t getting more intense, so I wasn’t in any rush to get to the hospital, for fear of being sent home with false labor. However, as I laid down to rest for a bit and pray in my journal, I asked God to make sure that I knew exactly when we should go to the hospital to make sure this baby would be safe. Earlier in the week I had a doctor’s appointment where I had told him that I was just still feeling very nervous about the possibility of stillbirth and I had really hoped he would induce me. He had said that he wouldn’t consider it until 39 weeks, because he wasn’t too concerned about the glucose or protein they had been finding in my urine. I had just felt like something strange was going on and since then (at 37 weeks) the baby was full-term and by what we could tell okay at the time – my logic had been “let’s get it out!” But, despite my choking up while talking about it, my request was declined.

So, here we are on Saturday night about 4 hours into contractions every 5-7 minutes, and at around 9:15 p.m. I realize I am not feeling the baby move much. I knew that I should still be feeling at least 4 movements an hour and by 10:15 I knew that was not the case. So, even though my contractions weren’t any closer, I said to Justin that I thought we needed to go on into the hospital. My parents came over to watch the sleeping big kids and we headed out. Upon arriving they checked me in and saw that the baby’s heart rate was steadily at 172, which is far too high and it wasn’t changing at all. They quickly sent me to the back where they checked and saw I was dilated to 4. They started me on IV fluids to try to get its heart rate down, but it didn’t work. Then while lying there, my water broke.

At this point the baby’s heart rate dropped significantly and they admitted me and raced me to another room where they tried to feel the baby’s head and could not. Once the nurse couldn’t feel it, she yelled for back up and in minutes I was rushed into the Operating Room with about 12 staff members. I was panicking at this point, because it was clear that the nurses were VERY concerned for the bay’s health. In a matter of minutes, my doctor was on his way, and the anesthesiologist was giving me a spinal block. At this point you can pretty accurately picture the “touch-and-go ER scene” and know what was happening. I saw the baby’s heart rate on the monitor and knew things were very bad. A baby’s heart rate should be between 110-160 and ours was in the 50’s. I begged God to save our sweet little baby as they were putting the curtain up in front of me. As everything from my head and arms down became numb, they called in another doctor to get it started, doused my stomach with iodine, and were cutting me open. My doctor rushed in without a moment to scrub up and began to attempt to rescue our little one. I was stunned, terrified, and trembling. I asked for Justin but they wouldn’t let him come in.

In two minutes they had the baby out, and I heard him make the slightest of whimpers before they rushed him over to try to get him to breathe. The cord had been around his belly and his neck so he was not breathing. They put him on a CPAP machine immediately to get him to breathe and were working diligently in the corner to save his life. I was a mess, and couldn’t see what was going on. I only knew the awful feeling of not being able to move and feeling the pressure as they reassembled and sewed up my lower abdomen. The anesthesiologist was incredibly kind and rushed over to update me that though his color was not good, he was indeed breathing with help. He then went over and checked to see the baby’s gender. No one had even had time to look, so at that point he went over to find out for me that it was a beautiful little boy. I already loved that sweet baby so much as they quickly tilted him toward my head for me to see his pale little body before they rushed him out the room to the Neonatal Intensive Care unit. Thankfully, Justin was immediately able to go over there with him and the 8 medical professionals surrounding him. At that point, He was also able to give him the name William Clark Narducci, because it was a strong name for a strong little guy who was fighting right through this rough start. Justin watched the professionals as they worked to get his breathing stabilized. He had a lot of fluid in his lungs which they were trying to drain. He was able to come back over and give me a little update on his progress (still not stable but improving.) It was such a relief for me to see Justin, to know our little guy was improving, and to know he was able to go back and forth to check on our precious baby boy.

Justin ended up checking in on him throughout the night, and then he and I finally settled in to bed around 4:30 a.m. The next morning I was in a lot of pain, because C-sections are a whole lot rougher than I expected! However, around 10:30 I was finally able to be wheeled down to see my precious baby boy for the first time. He was more beautiful than I could have imagined. He has a precious round little face, his color had come back, and his full little head of brown hair was darling. I was in love! The NICU doctor came in to explain to us that he was so impressed with how well William was progressing. He was now breathing on his own without the CPAP, though his breathing was sometimes a little fast and still needed to be monitored. He was on IV fluids and IV antibiotics because his blood had shown elevated white blood cells. The doctor didn’t think there would be any long-term damage based on how he seemed now, however, they need to keep him for 5-7 days of monitoring.

So, currently, we have now gotten to go down to the NICU and hold him twice. They just let him have a teaspoon of formula today for the first time which I got to feed him, and he LOVED it and wanted more. He loves sucking on his pacifier and snuggling, and he despises baths and dirty diapers. He is very vocal about the last two - which makes us feel a lot better about the state of his lungs! Today was the first day he and I both got showers and food, in fact, so we are definitely on the up and up. I am in a lot of pain though starting to be able to walk. It is the most motivating when I get to walk down to the NICU to see our little sweetheart, because he certainly makes it all worth it. I love every chance I get to touch him, and it is beyond precious to see his proud daddy snuggling him.

He is a true little miracle, because if any of those things during the delivery had taken slightly longer or if we hadn’t gotten here in time our precious little guy quite possibly might not have made it. We praise God for his incredible faithfulness in protecting him. And we feel very humbled to have three precious miracles. At this point we are praying for him to continue to improve his breathing, to feed well and get off IV, to have his infection clear so he can stop antibiotics, and for him to be able to come home with us sooner than later. It could be the end of this week or the beginning of next week. Bethany and Trevor are so excited to meet him and we cannot wait for them to either! They stopped in yesterday to visit us and were so bummed to not be able to go into the nursery. The great thing is that they are being so spoiled by their grandparents at home that we have been able to focus on getting things stable and starting to heal without any worry. What a wild ride this has been – I get teary just thinking about it and especially how blessed we are. Not the least of which is by our incredible family and friends who have been and continue to pray for us and our amazing little miracle.

His Stats:

6lbs. 9 ozs - 19.5 inches long - May 22, 2011 - 12:25 a.m.