Saturday, September 13, 2014

Too funny to not double share.

Our family has been working on shooting a music video for fun.  Yesterday we were down at Lakou Nouyok and I was letting the boys freestyle a bit.  While the actual video I shot is much longer, I shortened it down to 14 seconds so as to not waste your time.  (Sorry for the double post for all the facebookers.)







You're welcome.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The colorful shoes and the anxiety of parenting a TCK.

TCK stands for third culture kid. It refers to (according to this Wikipedia page):
"children who were raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture for a significant part of their development years.The definition is not constrained to describing only children, but can also be used to describe adults who have had this experience of being a TCK. The experience of being a TCK is unique in that these individuals are moving between cultures before they have had the opportunity to fully develop their personal and cultural identity. The first culture of children refers to the culture of the country from which the parents originated, the second culture refers to the culture in which the family currently resides, and the third culture refers to the amalgamation of these two cultures. The third culture is further reinforced with the interaction of the third culture individual with the expatriate community that currently resides in the host country."

You guys.  TCKs can be so amazing.  There are so many things they do well.  And there are so many really, really admirable traits that they develop by sheer virtue of the fact that they are a part of this third culture.  

But oh man, TCKs can be weirdos.  

Seriously.  TCKs can totally struggle with where to fit in.  Because they don't entirely fit into their host culture.  And they don't entirely fit into their parents home culture.  They become this weird mix of the two, so much so that it's a third culture entirely.  And here's what's interesting about it, TCKs find a feeling of belonging amongst other TCKs.  And I am not just talking about TCKs from the same birth culture that go to the same host culture.  No, studies have been done that show that TCKs from any culture will gravitate towards TCKs or any other culture.  It doesn't matter if they grew up in Haiti, in Japan, in Africa, Belize...  TCKs understand other TCKs.  In fact, grown TCKs are likely to marry other grown TCKs.

Have I said TCKs enough for you yet?  Because I feel like I have.

Anywho... that's just a little background on who my (American) children are.  And it helps explain some of the tensions we struggle through in raising our kids in a culture outside of the one we're most familiar with.  These tensions really bubble to the surface during times of transition-- like when we're heading back to America for a furlough, or to Haiti after furlough.  Stress levels rise in all of us as we prepare for the pendulum swing.  Seriously guys, the difference between the two cultures we call home are dizzying.  It's hard for Nick and I by ourselves, but walking our children through it can be really, really challenging.

When the kids were younger, it was easier.  They were just little kids when we moved here.  Nia was 6, Nico was 4, and Josiah was 1.  (We found those to be excellent ages to transition kids, by the way.)  But they were just little kids who had very little opinion about where they lived, what they ate or wore.  It was pretty easy.  But now they are getting older.  And so sometimes things like how you dress, or how you talk, or what kind of music you know... that stuff matters more.  And I am SO anxious about the thought of my kids being teased because they are different.  It's probably in the top ten worries of every missionary parent.

So then the other day something occurred that I want to share.  Here goes--

Without a doubt, Nico is the most hip of the three American kids.  He's one of the coolest and most kind-spirited kids I've ever met.  And, at 9, he's starting to get into style.  He wants to learn how to beatbox and rap and he wants cool shoes.  Hightops to be precise.  So the other day I was in the market and in the used clothing section of the market, I saw these shoes.


From the moment I saw them, I knew Nico would love them.  I walked over to check them out.  They were his size.  And all his favorite colors.  They looked brand new.  And I knew I would buy them for him.  So, I did.  And then Nick and I are talking in the car on the way home and I mention that they are mostly pink and purple, and I wondered out loud if they looked too girly.  Nick said no, that they were totally something Nico would love.  Well then, upon further inspection, I noticed the tag said, "Size 3, Girls."  I pointed it out to Nick and he said, "Well, that probably won't matter to Nico.  If he likes them, that's good enough."  And I said, "Yeah, but what if kids tease him and say that he's wearing girls shoes?"  Nick told me that I should just leave it up to Nico.

Well, when I walked through the door with these colorful bad boys in my hands and told Nico they were for him, you would have thought the kid won the lottery.  To say he loved them is the understatement of the year.  The other kids hooted and hollered over how amazing they are, and Nico was feeling pretty good when he slid his feet right into them-- they fit perfectly.  Then Nick told Nico, "Just so you know, they are technically girls shoes, and if you don't want to keep them, we can pass them along to someone else."

Nico said, "No way! I LOOOOOVE them.  Anyway, I don't think they are girls shoes.  They look like boys shoes to me."  All the kids agreed that they aren't girl shoes.  (Even though they really are.)

And, just wanting to cover my bases, I said, "If you wear them in the States and someone says they look girly, how will that make you feel?"  

And without missing a beat Nico said, "I will tell them that I am Haitian, and that I live in Haiti.  And in Haiti we don't have boys colors and girls colors.  We just wear what we like."

Fair enough.  You can't argue his logic.  I love the confidence of that kid.  (And FYI, my friend Sarah would be so proud of him.)

So we're headed to the States with the colorful shoes in tow.

And if you tease him I will cut you.  With a machete.

PS- And don't get me started on Nia's jazz shirt and Josiah's orphan shorts...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Another then and now post.

Yesterday I went to visit the camp where I used to work.  It's turned into a little town now, and the tents with foundations that once were have been transformed into real houses.  I suppose they are still technically semi-permanent houses, but then again a lot of houses around here are. :)

Anywho.  I got a chance to see some of the kiddos that I used to visit regularly for a year or two when I was doing the moms/babies program in the camps after the earthquake called Pwoje Konekte*.  

I dug through some old pics to show you the kids then and now, because who doesn't love a then and now picture post?  I know I do!  Here's then and nows for 4 kiddos.  I am sure I will be back sometime soon and can share more.

Dafkaline then and now.






Edwinson then and now.

Estel then and now.
 

 Jennifer then and now.


I was talking to my mom about visiting the camp and she asked if the kids recognized me.  Um. Yes.  In fact, when I went to leave, this is what happened. ;)


The year or two after the earthquake was such a hard time.  But it's good to look back and see that even the babies born in the worst of times are alive and thriving.  God is faithful.

###
*Pwoje konekte was a program we had after the EQ to try to get people in camps connected with services offering aid. It lasted for almost 2 years.

Read more about it in a few old blog posts I dug up:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

On a Moto: Episode 23, Backwards Man

A friend of mine sent me this picture earlier tonight.  It took me a few seconds to figure out what was going on here.  Just to help you out, this is not a conjoined twin scenario or a quadruple-legged man.  


Thanks Charles.

***

To see the whole series at once, click HERE.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Recipe: Avocado Season Guacamole



It is currently the most wonderful time of the year here in Haiti if you love avocados.*  The season is in full swing and avocados are for sale on every street corner.  And they are cheap!  If you're white, you can get them for about 10-15gourds each ($0.22- 0.33 US).  If you're Haitian, you can probably get them for 5-10 gourds a piece ($0.11- 0.22US).

So I thought I'd share my favorite guacamole recipe-- something that is a great, mostly healthy snack or meal.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large ripe (but not over-ripe) avocados (For reference, most of the avocados we get here are softball sized or larger, so if you're using smaller avocados, adjust accordingly.)
  • 2 ripe plum tomatoes
  • 2 key limes (Probably won't be able to find them in most places in the States.  So, use 1/4 to 1/2 of a small regular lime.)
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic (or more if you like things very garlicky)
  • 2 shallots (or 1/4 of a small normal onion)
  • 2 Scotch Bonnet peppers (These are the best hot peppers around.  Unfortunately they are not available in the States, so you can substitute habenero, but just know it won't be as awesome.  In addition to being spicy, the Scotch Bonnet adds a great flavor.)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

Directions:
Squeeze the juice out of your limes and set aside for just a minute.  Cube up your avocados and throw the lime juice over them, tossing them quickly to prevent browning.  Using the small grater on a cheese grater (you know, like the one you'd use to grate parmesan cheese), grate your shallots, garlic cloves, and Scotch Bonnet peppers.  It will kind of look like a soupy dollop of snot.  Don't worry, it's supposed to look like that!  Add this into the avocado mixture and mix well, using a fork to break up most of the avocado lumps, but not all of them.  It's better with some lumps in there.  Dice your tomatoes and fold them in at the end.  Salt and pepper if you wish.

Vwala! (Yes, that's how we spell it in Haiti.)  You will love this flavorful (but not too spicy) guacamole.  We think it's served best with papitas (fried plantain chips, which I think Trader Joe's has), but you could just do tortilla chips if you wanted.  


It's a really simple recipe and probably nearly the same as every other guac recipe you've tried, but let me tell you what-- when the avocados are ripe off the tree and you have just a tiny bit of a kick from the Scotch Bonnets.  Man, it is slap your Manman good.  (Although I do not recommend you do this.  Especially if you have a Haitian Manman.  Because she will right that wrong with a switch.)

# # # #

Here's a couple of other recipes made with local foods we love and have taken the time to get just right:

Fritzie's Pikliz

Classic Macaroni Salad

Cabbage and Roasted Beet Salad

Salad Dressing (Sos Manman Nick)

Haitian Spaghetti (NOTE, this was a recipe we started using a long time ago and is an Americanized version.)


We (and by we I mean Nick) has other great recipes that he's been adapting for local foods and will share them as he perfects them.

# # # #


*Note:  Avocado season is the only redeeming factor of Haiti in August. It is so incredibly hot in Haiti that I LITERALLY have sweat dripping off of me right now as I sit here with a cold glass of water.  And it doesn't matter at what time of day you read this, I will still be sweating if it's still August and I am still in Haiti.  It's so hot we have hot water-- scalding to be precise, because it sits up in a tank on our roof getting ready to scar the poor unsuspecting sweat-er who gets in the shower to cool of from said sweating.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

#morningwalk

A few months ago, in an effort to try to connect with one another, Nick and I started taking these morning walks.  Y'all, our house is Crazy Town.  That's not a complaint, really.  (Okay maybe it is.)  It's a blessing to have so many great kids in our family.  But it is never quiet.  There's no place to go that's really away from it all, and the interruptions are constant.  But we found out that if we could get up while the kids were still sleeping and slip out the door before someone needed something, we'd have this great space to walk and talk.  Plus, I was tired of being so out of shape and figured walking couldn't hurt.

And so the first few weeks, it was just that.  A time to be out with Nick, sans little people.  We talked.  Sometimes about work stuff, most times not.  And we just started to remember how great it is to be married to one another.  I snapped pics along the way on my iPhone that were a way to look back later into the great beauty and mystery of this amazing island.

Sometimes we walked out of town...


Sometimes we walked in town...


Sometimes we'd take in beautiful sights...


Sometimes we'd take in some crazy realities...


And we were cruising along with life.

Well, were until Chikungunya hit us.

HARD.

That was a two month-long adventure hell for our family (that still continues with arthritic joint pain.)  We walked few zero times during that little jaunt because our feet would not allow us to.  And then slowly we started getting back into it.  But around that time, Nick started running.  He's signed up to run a marathon here in Jacmel in January, and realized that if he didn't start running, he probably wouldn't be able to do it.  (Especially post ChikV).

So that lead me to walks by myself.  Which, to be honest, when you're a white girl of my size in Haiti, can be brutal.  "Gade yon gwo blan ap fè sport!"  (Look at the big white girl exercising.)  "Gwo blan, w'ap fè sport?" (Hey big foreigner, are you exercising?)  "Mezami! Gad gwo blan." (Wow! Look at the big white girl.)  Seriously.

EVERY. 
SINGLE. 
DAY.  

Now, this isn't (necessarily) meant as insults, but come on.  Hearing how remarkable it is that me, the big white girl, is exercising, was almost enough to make me quit.  But then I learned a secret weapon, recommended by my friend, Kyle, who happens to be a masochist endurance athlete.

What is this secret weapon, you ask?

Audio books.

You guys.  Want a break from reality and something to motivate you to keep you going?  Download an audio book for when you exercise (and ONLY when you exercise.)  Get a story that really interests you and go. (And don't feel bad about not finishing it if it doesn't, because most audio books are 12+ hours long... that's a lot of walks to see a lousy book through.)

And so now you can see me out there almost every morning, getting my walk on.  I still smile and say "Bou jou!" to the dozens (hundreds?) of people I pass each morning on my hour-long saunter down the very busy roads and paths, but I can't hear their responses now.  Could be a "Bon jou!" right back at me, or a "Ale tounen lakay'w blan!"  (Go back home, foreigner.)  Either way, I can't hear and can just believe the best in people.  And so, with my mind occupied and my feet moving, I am free to see and experience all sorts of scenes.

Things like puppies, farmer, and flowers...


 Beautiful children hanging out like these guys...
























And playing like these guys...
























 This lady working hard for her living...

Social messages (Let's always keep Jacmel clean), beautiful structures, tropical wildflowers, and skinned knees...
























Occasional vodou offerings in the median...

Fathers walking with their sons, tiny steps and winding paths, earthquake remains of buildings and peristyles, turquoise waters, and tropical pastures...

Each day is a new challenge to find the beauty amid the chaos as I walk the mostly-familiar (although sometimes unfamiliar) roads, trails, and footpaths of this tropical paradise reality that I now call my home.



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Lunch


A couple of years ago, Nick and I made a decision that we would give our staff Sundays off from cooking so that they could go to church together with the kids.  Before that, it was always one or the other of them staying home cooking while we all went to (Haitian) church and then came home and had lunch together.  We were already going to Church on the Beach on Sunday afternoons and so we were still able to go to church, so we figured by staying home, our staff could go to church with the kids and we could stay home and cook.

In all truthfulness, the thought of an empty house to ourselves was really enticing.  It was a time when we could talk without being interrupted, where he and I could work together on lunch for the family, and where we could just... breathe.  However, it took a while to adjust to cooking for 20ish people.  I hated the cooking part, initially, because it took up most of the morning.  But as the months and years went on, it got easier.  We started finding things the kids liked and we learned how to make some of our favorite American-style food with locally available ingredients.  And I've even come to embrace the challenge of creating LOTS o' grub in a mini-oven that doesn't heat consistently and only has two working burnings.  Each week is an adventure-- like Nick and I are cafeteria workers on a reality show where they throw all kinds of extra challenges into the mix.  Bugs in the rice?  No problem.  Sift them out.  Not enough milk?  Run to the neighbor's house and buy evaporated milk and add water.  House smells like gas when we start the oven?  NBD.  Turn on a fan blowing the fas fumes towards the open door.  Believe me, if that were a reality show, (which I can't believe it is not considering that there's a show called Bridalplasty where would-be brides compete for plastic surgery), we'd win.  And we'd use our prize money to buy a bigger stove with all working burners and some freaking measuring cups that we'd guard with our lives lest they be absconded or "eaten" by our house as happens to so many things here.  But I digress.


But it's not really about the food.  It's that we've finally been able to create a time where we ALL sit down together and eat. The big boys come over and it's like this weird re-incarnation of "the old days."  There's nothing specific that defines Sunday lunch...  it's just a gathering place.

A place for Prisca to tell a funny joke.

And a place for Jerry to find that joke hilarious.

A place for Sanndi to roll her eyes at us. 

A place for Yves to try not to smile because he's mad we're telling him he needs to work instead of sitting around all day.

A place where Nico can lick the extra mashed potatoes from the evangelical cooking pot*.

A place where skinny Wildarne girl can savor every bite.


It's a place where Fritzie can get delightfully full on the mashed potatoes she enjoys so much that she literally comes to hug and kiss me afterwards as a thank you for making them.


It's a place for Jean Louis to refuse to look at the camera when he's scarfing down his food.


Where Josiah can (shirtlessly) eat chicken wings with a fork and eschew the mashed potatoes and coleslaw.


Y'all.  I have no idea how long each of our kids will stay in our care-- especially the older ones who are growing more independent everyday.  But I want to be able to consistently create a place where we can eat, love, share, smile, be pissed off, roll our eyes, tell jokes, and eat good food.  And even after they are gone, I hope they will come back home each week for Sunday lunch.


###

*Here's what I mean by the evangelical cooking pot.  This pot hearts Jesus.