Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nia's prayers

We were in the car today and Nia said, "Why do I have two brothers and no sisters?"

I said, "Well, I guess that's the way God wanted our family to be."

And so she said, "But I really want a sister. Maybe we can have another belly baby and it will be a sister."

And I said, "Yeah, well that's not going to happen."

And she said, "Well, I am going to start asking God for it and I am going to ask Daddy to pray too."

All I kept thinking was-- Nick had better get that vasectomy scheduled before Nia gets God on her side. :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Christmas season

So anyone of you who know me well know that I am a Christmas fanatic. I love Christmas. I love decorating and lights and Christmas cookies. I love Christmas music. I am greatly indebted to my mother for the love of the Advent season. Growing up my home was full of Christmas joy all season long. We have dozens of traditions and it's just generally a very fun time for all of us.

I am, however, becoming more and more disenchanted with the way Christmas is done in our society. It is breaking my heart. I really don't want to seem like a Scrooge. I am all for gift-giving and blessing family members and friends at this time, but the pressure is INTENSE. Get in line outside of Circuit City at 3AM on Black Friday... wait for 90 minutes with antsy kids in line at the mall to make sure you get the Santa picture... have a few "spare" gifts handy at all times during the holiday season so that you can make sure you always have something to give in return in case someone gives you a gift that you weren't expecting... argue over who gets a parking space at the mall... wait in a line that curls through the lobby of the Post Office for an hour to spend more mailing packages than you did on the present... dress your whole family up, bribe kids to stop crying with candy so you can get a good family photo to show everyone on your Christmas card list how "happy" of a family you all are. (sorry for that one Mom... :) Don't get me wrong-- I fall into these things sometimes too-- but seriously WHAT IS THE POINT? Do any of these things REALLY add joy to our lives or the Christmas season?

In that light-- I offer you what really happens-- a few of the Christmas card photo rejects:



Ahhh... now getting that out has given me Christmas joy. :)

I am famous!

Well, not really. :) But I was asked to write a short piece about our adoption for the Heritage Adoption (our agency) newsletter. The newsletter arrived last week. Here's the text:


Our son, Nico, came home to us forever on July 20. It seems an impossible task to describe the emotion surrounding this experience for which we have waited so long... the anxious anticipation of seeing him in the airport, the incredulous disbelief of realizing the wait was FINALLY over, the indescribable joy upon seeing his happiness in our home, the uncertainty of how far to “push” him each day, the gut-wrenching feelings of grief for all he's lost, for all his birthmother lost, for all the time I have lost with him... Many times a day I fluctuate between the paradox of “it feels like he just got here” and “it feels like we've always had him.”


I remember the first time we took him out in public. It was on day three. We went to the flea market and I remember feeling very conspicuous. I didn't expect to feel this way, and as I looked around I wondered what other people were thinking. Were they judging us? Did they realize he is ours? I started feeling defensive and was imagining all of the comebacks I would spit out if anyone said anything. That probably sounds ridiculous, and at this point it feels ridiculous. I am coming to understand that dealing with feelings of entitlement are equally as important as dealing with feelings of attachment.


Speaking of attachment, it's amazing to me how quickly it's happening. People always talk about how resilient children are. It's SO true. I believe that Nico already knows that Nick and I are his parents-- I don't know how he understands that concept, but he does. He is comforted by us when he is sad, he wants us to be proud of him when he does something well, and his face lights up when one of us comes into the room. Sometimes I have to remind myself that everything he is experiencing is new. I tend to get frustrated when he won't eat or when he doesn't follow my instructions. I think the fact that I forget that he's new is very telling of how well things are going.


I don't want to paint an overly rosy picture of what the transition has been like, because there are times that it has been very hard. We've had to deal with screaming fits of rage, temper tantrums, and night terrors. We've had to deal with health stuff like bad diarrhea, skin problems, the 15 (yes, 15!) vials of blood they had to take to test him for various illnesses, the 8 shots he's already had to catch him up on his immunizations, urine samples, stool samples... we've been busy! But overall it has gone so much better than we could have ever imagined. Nico is a happy boy. He's smart, funny, playful, cuddly and (as you can see) extremely adorable.


I am finding that all of the adoption lingo (which I once found a little silly and cliché) is now so meaningful to me. I will always remember Nico's “Gotcha Day,” I love being his “forever mommy,” and the phrase “born in my heart” rings so very true. Having had two children born from my womb prior to Nico's homecoming, at times I would secretly wonder how it would feel once Nico was with us. I had no doubt that I would love him, for I already did, but I wondered what it would feel like. I look at my biological kids and I see traces of me and Nick in them-- I see Nick's eyes on Nia and my chin on Josiah. I look at Nico and I don't see my chin or Nick's eyes, but I see my heart and I see Nick's heart in Nico the way I see it in my other kids. And really, isn't that what matters?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

grossest picture ever

Sorry-- I know this is gross, but I was amazed at the sheer volume...


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Just in case you were wondering...

... today the role of screaming crazy lady will be played by Gwenn Mangine.

Christmas music is ON the Ipod...

Some of my favorite Christmas albums:

-James Taylor at Christmas
-Amy Grant Christmas Album (I know... kickin' it old school)
-Chris Rice-- The Living Room Sessions- Christmas
-Sarah McLaughlan- Wintersong

Possibly my favorite Christmas song ever is "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings" by the Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLaughlan... which is saying A LOT because I generally despise "we three kings"

Without a doubt the worst Christmas album ever is Rosie O'Donnell's "a rosie christmas" It's SERIOUSLY bad.

Update on Evie

Hey- Wanted to keep you posted on what was happenin' with the Evster...

Note from Mel and Chris--
As you all know Evie was scheduled to have an MRI today to diagnose
the mass behind her heart. We were very nervous about it--
especially since Evie would not be able to eat for at least four
hours leading up to the appointment. (And no matter what "Baby Wise"
may say, we cannot make our girl go longer than three hours between
feedings!) In addition, the MRI tech we spoke to on Wednesday
implied that we would be waiting for the MRI for several hours, as
they had just barely squeezed us in. They also were not able to tell
us when we would receive the results, and we were anxious that we
would be kept waiting for several days.

Things went amazing! When we arrived we may have been in the waiting
room for 2 minutes before they came and got us. Evie did not cry at
all until they took her clothes off and sedated her. (That would make
me cry, too.) We were then told it would take 2-3 hours to complete
the MRI and wouldn't you know it.... it was only 1 1/2 hours! :)

The MRI was over at 1:30 and the doctor called us at 3:00. Evie has
an "Esophageal Duplication Cyst". I'm not a surgeon, but the way
they described it is that her esophagus has formed a small "water
balloon" that is pouching out of the esophagus. This will eventually
need to be surgically removed (at the latest, by her first birthday)
but they did not feel that Evie was in imminent danger. We have
placed a call to the pediatric surgeon and am waiting to hear back
from them about setting up a consultation. We are not totally out of
the woods yet since Evie will need to have surgery, but we are
immensely relieved. It could have been so much worse. God's generous
outpouring of grace has been overwhelming! (Why are we continually
surprised when God answers our prayers?!?)

Thanks to all who e-mailed us kind words of encouragement as well as
all those who prayed. We will keep you updated as we learn more!

Love is always,

Chris and Melody (and Evie, too!)

Nick's Soundtrack

So I went through the same process that Gwenn talked about a couple of weeks ago--I created the soundtrack of my life. I thought through my life and picked out the songs the represent an era of my life, or invoke a certain memory.

At the same time I started thinking about this, I also got re-interested in a music site called Pandora--it lets you create your own radio station based on music you like. So I created my own station called Nick's Soundtrack. You can click on the link and listen to my soundtrack if you like. Now it doesn't just have the songs that I added, it also plays similar music.

Here's the soundtrack, starting with my first favorite song:
  • Another Day In Paradise - I got this tape for Christmas the same year my brother got Hangin' Tough.
  • Anna Begins - I dated a girl on and off for about 4 years in school. I used to think that this was the story of our relationship. I listen to it now and I realize it's the story of me getting over our relationship.
  • Travelin' Prayer - An early indication of bluegrass tendencies?
  • The World Has Turned And Left Me Here - I used to sit under my bed (it was a loft) and listen to Weezer for hours. I was actually a member of their fan club. And I had a green Weezer hat.
  • Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters -
  • Anybody Out There? - The best song on the best Christian album ever. I guess that could be argued :)
  • Power Of Two - This was our wedding song. We probably should have picked something by the Kelly Family, but that's a story for another post.
  • Stomp - I once saw Kirk Franklin in concert. White people as far as the eye could see... trying to dance. It was a trip.
  • Sparrow - Gwenn and I fell in love with bluegrass listening to Kickin' Grass in a mall.
  • Nothing But The Blood - The best song on the best Christian album ever. I guess that could be argued :)
  • Resolution - I started listening to the Supertones in high school--I still do. If you're ever having a rough morning in need some motivation, this punk band with a horn section and lead singer that spits when he raps will give it to you.
  • This Is Me - "Delicious Acoustic Harmony-Driven Gender Pop"-- whatever that means...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A dialog between Josiah and Evie

Josiah: So, Evie, what's up with the special need??? You're wigging everyone out you know.
Evie: Like you should talk freaky scar boy. I learned it from watching you.
Josiah: Point duly noted.

Thanksgiving pics...

We headed out to Manteo on Monday for a Thanksgiving celebration...

Here are some pix:

Josiah channeling Maddox Jolie-Pitt with his faux hawk...

The whole crew:

All us girlies:

Josiah telling Evie a secret:


Hey, please remember to pray for Evie-- tomorrow is her MRI. Thanks...

Oh, and while I am on asking for prayer-- please pray for my neighbor, Betty. She just found out she has cancer (again-- after being cancer free for 6 yrs...) Sad stuff...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

One of the HAPPIEST days of my life...






Today was Nico's 3rd birthday. It was awesome. I mean really, really good. From the time he woke up and saw the balloons and decorations to right now when he's settling down for bed, I have been welling up with these overwhelming emotions of gratitude that he is my son. He is so joyful and was just generally a great kid to be around. Plus, we had a really fun party-- our ex-gel group plus a few other friends, and of course Nick's parents... a good time was had by all!

Check out more pics here: http://picasaweb.google.com/ng.mangine/NicoSBdaySmall

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Please pray for Evie

Hey all--

I wanted to repost an email sent out by my sister and her husband... Please read and pray. Evie is my sweet, sweet niece and is just a few weeks younger than Josiah.

Friends--

First and foremost let me apologize for such a mass e-mail. I am sure
after you read it you will have a better understanding why...

As many of you know, Evie had a condition called ASD (a small hole
in her heart) when she was born. Apparently this is fairly common,
but the doctors wanted to have a follow-up with a cardiologist to see
if this had corrected itself. Evie had this follow-up yesterday
morning. It appears that the hole has not healed itself like the
thought it would; the doctor didn't seem too concerned about that at
this point. However, the echocardiogram found a cystic mass behind
Evie's heart. They did a chest x-ray on Evie to further investigate,
but they are still unsure what it is. The mass is approx. 4cm x 2 cm,
slightly larger than at birth (they compared the echocardiogram done
at birth to the one done yesterday). They have several guesses as to
what it may be: anything from tissue from her esophagus or lungs to a
tumor. They really need to run more tests to determine what it is and
what the next step will be.

Next Friday at 11 am, Evie will be having an MRI at the Hershey
Medical Center (where she will be treated from here on). The doctor
seems pretty certain that no matter what it is, Evie will most likely
need to have surgery to correct the issue. As you can imagine, this
news is a huge shock and an emotional drain on Melody and me. We
have been encouraged by many promises the Lord gives us in Scripture,
including:

1 Peter 5:6-7 "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand,
that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him
because he cares for you."

Philippians 4:6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in
everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your
requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all
understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Lamentations 3:21-23 "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have
hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His
compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is Your
faithfulness.

We covet your prayers! A few specific areas that we would ask for
prayer:

• Pray for the MRI next Friday. Evie will not be able to eat for
several hour beforehand as she will need to be sedated; like her mama
and daddy, she is a big fan of eating! As a dear friend prayed this
morning, pray that God's grace would fill Evie's belly.

• Pray that the Lord would heal Evie and have a hedge of protection
upon her.

• Pray that the Lord lifts the anxiety and fear off the shoulders of
Melody and me. Pray that the enemy would not be allowed to speak
fear and lies into our hearts, but that we would trust in our God.

• Pray for the doctors, that they would care for Evie with wisdom and
compassion. Pray that they would quickly be able to find the problem
and come up with the best solution to fix it.



We are reminded of something Charles Spurgeon wrote, which has given
Melody great faith: "Remember this, had any other condition been
better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have
put you there." While our hearts ache for our little girl, we know
our loving Father has hand-selected this path for us. We know that
He is sovereign and we trust that He is good. Thank you for your
prayers and your care for our family.



Love never fails,


Chris & Melody

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yes... Yes She Does


I'm just listening to some random music while I work. I'm not really paying attention, but I caught this line:

"Does she make you happy?"

Yes.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What has this world come to? :)

Okay, so I have about 1500 pressing things I need to get to, but I can't stop thinking about this ridiculous thing that Nick pointed out to me yesterday-- So I thought if I spent a few minutes blogging about it I could move on.

We live in such a weird society. It has become so litigious that we have to have warnings on everything. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I bought Nick an ice cream maker for our anniversary. We've been giving it quite a workout in the past month--but I digress...

So yeah, we were making homemade ice cream yesterday and noticed this warning on the bottom of one of the pages in the recipe book that came with the ice cream maker, "If any recipes in this book are to be used by a diabetic or persons with other afflictions, please consult your doctor before using." Really??? Wow.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

some new kiddie pix


The soundtrack of my life

So I started thinking about this concept the other day-- if my life had a soundtrack up to this point, what would be on it?

Okay, I can remember choosing music for myself as early as grade 3. (I am referring to music other than the Donut Man and Evie-- which would be my mom's choosing.)

So-- from 3rd grade until now-- here's my top 20 songs in chronological order(ish) from earliest to today...

Walk Like An Egyptian- The Bangles
Ripple- The Grateful Dead
Blister in the Sun- Violent Femmes
Just Like Heaven- The Cure
Closer to Fine- The Indigo Girls
Into the Mystic- Van Morrison
Linger- The Cranberries
Paradise by the Dashboard Lights- MeatLoaf
Me and Bobby McGee- Janis Joplin
Pick a Bale of Cotton- Leadbelly
Wish You Were Here- Pink Floyd
Being Around- Lemon Heads
Uncle Walter- Ben Folds Five
I Wanna Be (500 Miles) - The Proclaimers
I Can't Help Myself- The Kelly Family
Stomp- Kirk Franklin
Martyrs and Thieves- Jennifer Knapp
All that We Let In- The Indigo Girls
Red Clay Halo- Gilliam Welch
Come Away With Me- Nora Jones

So, yeah, don't read too much into my choice of songs-- they all invoke a specific memory or specific time in my life...

(BTW-- I could have populated the entire list with Indigo Girls songs... I had to make myself choose other things...)

Anywho... there actually IS a reason I started thinking about all this-- but that post will have to wait for another day after I ruminate on it a little more...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Can I get a woot woot?

So "Kissing Jabez" performed tonight at a local coffee shop to benefit the Haitian Children's Home. We were able to raise over $2000! The "land fund" has officially been started.

Woot woot!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Josiah and solid foods

So we've decided to start Josiah on some solids. I have given him rice cereal a few times, which he meets with much drama and gagging. So all along, I have been thinking that maybe he's just not ready for solids. Then today a little lightbulb went off in my head-- maybe he just doesn't like rice cereal. (I mean really, who would?) So today I tried some sweet potatoes, which he ate eagerly...


However, I am pretty sure he's going to prefer meat... :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Oh, one more thing!

I forgot to mention that I have the BEST church ever-- more on that later...

-Gwenn

a few pics from the way home

So yeah, 16 and a half hours after leaving the orphanage yesterday, we arrived here at our house. LONG day with three little kids-- a three and a half hour drive to Port, a three hour wait in the airport, a two hour flight, a five hour layover, another two hour flight, getting our bags, and driving home... LONG DAY. My in-laws are the best though-- they not only picked us up at the airport with OUR car (which they had to change the battery in it to do since we apparently left a door open on the car while we were in Haiti :), they had food and diapers at the house for us, brought blankets to wrap the kids in, filled up our car with gas... Seriously, you don't get in-laws any better than I have. :) I have pretty much the best case scenario.

We came home to 10 messages on our answering machine-- appointments we missed, stuff to follow up on, 30 new emails from just yesterday... So, all of this is to say-- we're back to "real" life now, so I won't be able to update as much, even though there are a ton more really cool pics and stories to tell...

As much as I miss Haiti already, I was glad to get back to my house, my bed, a hot bath, cool weather, NO BUGS...

Here's some pics from our trip yesterday.



"Home"

I'm sitting in my living room in Apex, NC writing this blog.

So the short story is, we're "home" and we're safe.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Home again tomorrow...

We are leaving for "home" tomorrow. I am kind of sad...


Blue skies!!!


Another day of blue skies! Meci Jezi!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

It's a good good good good good good morning...

it's gonna be a very good day...

(that was in homage to Phil Joel, we mentioned Bigsby already, so Phil Joel, our other favorite kids album, should get some play on the blog too) -- the kids here LOVE this song. They are always walking around singing "goot goot goot goot goot goot maning..." it's pretty cute.

But in all seriousness, it IS a good morning. The sun is SHINING! The sky is blue. I think Danny is planning on taking the kids out this morning to play on the land... my kids are really stir crazy, so that's g00d. If I have to hear anymore whining or complaining... well, I don't know what I will do. :)

Beauty out of chaos

Isn't this just like God? To take the same thing that did this (notice the piece of a house):
and create this:
I've always said that stepping off the plane in Haiti is like breathing again. I know that doesn't make sense because of all the sufferings that inhabit this country compared with all the wealth of my home. But this paradox seems to be all over Haiti.

One of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen is the mountains of Haiti from the air. You can see every crack and crevice on every mountainside. There are no trees to hide the beauty of the terrain, because it has been ravaged by deforestation. But it's not just beautiful in spite of the deforestation, it's beautiful because of the deforestation. God used the devastation of man to create beauty.

If you drive down any major road in any major city in Haiti on any given day you will notice hundreds upon hundreds of people sitting in front of their houses or congregating on street corners. When I first saw this, the thought that came in my western mind was "we need to get these people jobs." But then I noticed that they weren't desperate for work, they weren't begging for hand-outs, they weren't sick, and they weren't starving. Oh sure, many people in Haiti are in a desperate situation, but these people were talking and laughing and generally having a better time and living a better life than if they had been working a job. So, again, God uses a horrible thing--80% underemployment--and creates beauty out of it. I love the culture of Haiti, not in spite of the underemployment, but because of it.

--just like God.

I think it might be gone

Can I qualify that statement anymore? Maybe I think it might could possible be gone? I hope so.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Taking it all in

It is so hard to take all of this in. Every time we venture out to check on something or someone, the news just gets worse.

Today while the laundry was in the washer at Hands and Feet, Nick and Danny hiked up the landslide trail. Nick said it was pretty much the coolest thing he'd ever done-- they found several new waterfalls and pools of clean, clear water-- but they also found things like this:That was someone's house.


Later, we had heard that the road going towards Seguin was no good, so we took a drive to check it out. Danny and Leann lived in Seguin their first year in Haiti, and that was where I met them 2 and a half years ago. Well, they won't be getting to Seguin any time soon-- because the concrete pad over the river is out... and it's probably a 3-4 foot drop from the road to the water. It was dark when we saw it, but this is a photo:

On our drive there (30 mins?) we saw 4 separate landslides. The devastation is unthinkable. My heart is so tired. The news justs keeps getting worse and worse. It rained all day long today-- really hard rain in the morning. Looking at the radar, it looks like it's going to pick up again tonight. In fact, it may not stop raining for any length of time before we leave on Monday. The good new is that apparently the road to Port Au Prince is good. We know of at least 2 people who have arrived from there in the last day who didn't have any trouble... so we feel very comfortable leaving Monday.

The thing that's been the hardest to take in has just been the injustice of all of this. There were so many lives lost during this storm-- so many homes destroyed. And yet, there is NO help for the people here. They just need to pick themselves up and start over. No National Guard rescuing people, no Red Cross responding to the Emergency, you don't see any FEMA trailers... nothing. In fact, they were reporting today on the Haitian radio that several UN helicopters were supposed to come into Jacmel to assess damage, and they were grounded in Port Au Prince because of the heavy rains. Who will help these people? It's just heart-breaking...

We are all getting a little stir crazy. The 28 kids here now (the HCH kids, the Pye kids and our kids) really haven't been out since this all started. We're so tired of the rain. Everything is damp. It's so hard not to get overwhelmed.

One thing I wanted to address... I am not sorry we came. I am not sorry we brought our kids. Yeah, they've been a handful at times (especially today!), but I would have been much more uncomfortable if they WEREN'T here with us, than having them here. Please pray for them to continue to be troopers. Please pray for US to continue to be troopers. Please pray that we could have clear direction to know how to help...

Thank you God for Audio A....

After a day of relative for most of the day yesterday, here we are again! It's rained ALL night long. Poured would be a better word. It's pouring now. I have NO idea where all this rain is coming from. Everything is wet. All of our clothes are dirty. Actually, let me correct that-- a load or two of our clothes are clean and hanging on the clothesline... but that doesn't help us either. :)

Thank you God for Audio Adrenaline though, because they have a washer and dryer at their Hands and Feet orphanage. So, the guys ventured out to do laundry there. Of course when they got outside TWO tires on the Jimmy are flat... anyway, they worked it out and are headed there now.

I do have to say that I am not above wearing dirty clothes (in fact, I have been doing so for a couple of days now) but everything is wet and stinky. There are no clean towels. Plus Nico started having diarrhea today and already got one outfit messed up, so... I feel like we have no choice. (Plus, probably TMI-- Nia hasn't worn panties in 3 days because she kept getting them wet while “helping” the nannies with the washing...)

One of the other “joys” of all this rain is that the mosquitoes and flies are inside multiplying seemingly by the second. Everyone of us is COVERED in bites-- but we are just trusting that the skeeters that bit us are not the malaria-carrying kind.

Oh, one other tidbit of news I forgot to share the other day-- the dog (Cheilo) got run over by the Jimmy. He's still alive but clearly not feeling too well... the silver lining is that Nico is no longer afraid of him, as Cheilo is no longer nipping at Nico's feet. He can hardly move, much less chase anyone... poor thing.


Alright-- gotta go. We are watching a Disney sing along DVD in French.


Crapo Crapo Crapo

So frog in Kreol is crapo. You Bigsby fans will appreciate this picture:

I found a crapo in the sink today.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Don't sit still for too long around here...

or they will do your hair...





no matter how much you may NOT want it... :)

More pics here...
http://picasaweb.google.com/ng.mangine/HangingOut

the church broke

We went out to Raymond again to get food to them and the church had collapsed overnight...

another before and after

The front of the church where we held school in Raymond (on Friday when we were there.)


The front of the church where we HELD school (yesterday)... you can see there is now a new river flowing where there was not one before and it's not structurally sound..

Here for another few days...

So we were able to change our flights-- apparently "Delores's" screen started showing that there was a storm in Haiti. So... We will now be leaving Monday to come home.

the plan for today

So today we are going to head back up to Raymond... (btw-- in case Nick's post wasn't expicit about it... you can't drive, you have to walk.)

We are going to be giving out rice and water there.

It was dry and windy most of the night but it just started raining again. I totally thought it was over. Hopefully it will stop soon.

We will keep you posted when we know more.

Honestly I hate leaving now when there is so much to do...