Monday, March 31, 2008

Auntie Gretchen is fun!

Nia came home with big chunky manic panic streaks...(yes, Gretchen asked me first.)
it's pretty cute. And don't worry Grandma-- it will wash out

And Nico loves his uncle Jon...
And so does Josiah...

Little boys are pretty cute when they are sleeping... huh?
A good time was had by all...

My awesome friends and family

I just need to take a moment to give a shout-out to some really great friends and family members of ours who seem to have an UNENDING amount of patience and love for me and Nick and the kiddos.

Let me quickly explain. This past weekend we had some people from the Haitian Children's Home coming in from Florida. As many of you know, for some time now, Nick and I have been doing a lot of the HCH stateside stuff. Well, as many of you ALSO know, we're planning on moving to Haiti with HCH, so we needed to transition out of our responsibilities stateside. So, the plan was to bring my kids to Manteo where my mom and my sister would care for them this past weekend while Nick and I "trained" the new HCH admin woman, Jennifer. SHe lives in FL so she and her husband drove 14 hours to come up and meet with us. We had an intense training weekend planned, and thus, we were "offloading" :) the kids. This is the first time I have left Josiah (who still wakes up twice during the night). So as you can imagine, what my family is doing for us, is a huge deal.

I was on my way out to Manteo last Friday to drop off the kids when Nick called me and told me he thought he was having a heart attack. After encouraging him to pull his car over and dial 911, I turned my car around and went to try to meet him. I called in my troops (the ladies whom I can ask anything of-- Kris, Cathy and Deena), and my family members, and they were totally on top of it.

So, in random order, here's who needs major shout-outs:

Deena and Jason Gilliam. The other day when Nick had to spend SEVERAL hours in the ER, they just completely took charge of my kids. To the point where they drove for FOUR hours to meet my dad halfway. They do things like this all the time.

Cathy Riley and Kris Stoner. They were all on the way to meet me at the hospital when Nick was with the paramedics. They were constantly checking on us and making sure we were covered. They are there for me no matter what-- always.

My sister Gretchen. (And her family too.) She is wrangling SIX little kids (her three and my three.) And with total grace and aptitude. I think she might secretly be Sheera (you know, the "Princess of Power" from the 80's cartoon.) I love that she loves my kids.

My mom. She's also doing her share in wrangling my three kids (and Gretchen's three at times too.) She stayed home from church with Nico who apparently has another faucet-nose situation. She loves on my kids like crazy. She's far more patient with them than I am. She actually *teaches* them things rather than just screaming at them. (Interesting thought, huh? I will have to try that.) She was totally created to be a grandmother. I love that I can bring my kids there and I know she actually wants them to be there. And while I am asking a lot of her, I never feel like I am being a bother to her.

My dad (all by himself) drove out to meet Deena and Jason (practically in the middle of the night) and picked up my three high maintenance kids while I was dealing with Nick. He's called to encourage us and check on Nick. I love his heart and that he cares.

There are others too-- lots of people have contacted us to check on Nick and offered to bring meals, pick up medicines... things like that. MAN! We have GREAT friends. I love that there is a community of people who care for us so extravagently when we are in a pinch.

We SO don't deserve all of you.

Thank you.

Edited to Add: I forgot to mention my in-laws. They are basically the best in-laws a girl could have. They were out of town this weekend, and repeatedly offered to come back home to help us out. And they weren't offering begrudgingly or out of a feeling of obligation... They just love us that much.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The phone call I got today--

*Ring Ring*
(Actually the ring says, "Hello Moto!")

Me: Hello?

Crazy Lady: Who the *expletive* is this?

Me: Um, excuse me?

Crazy Lady: How did you get my *expletive* number?

Me: Um, I am not sure who this is... you may have the wrong number?

Crazy Lady: I work three *expletive* jobs-- how did you get my number? Getting my number is not easy. Who the *expletive* is this?

Me: Um, this is Gwenn.

Crazy Lady: This is my aunt Gwenn?

Me: No, I feel certain I am not your aunt.

Crazy Lady: Why the *expletive* did you call me?

Me: I don't think I called you, you actually called me.

Crazy Lady: You're *expletive* number is on my phone-- so don't tell me you didn't call me. I work three jobs. No one has my number. How the *expletive* did you get it?

Me: (Checks the number Crazy Lady is calling from) Oh, you're one digit away from my sister's number. She lives in Pennsylvania. Perhaps I called at some point and had dialed the wrong number?

Crazy Lady: Well, that might be it since I live in Pennsylvania too. I was looking at your number and thinking, "What the *expletive* did my daughter do now?"

Me: Well, don't worry. Your daughter didn't do anything.

Crazy Lady: Yes, she *expletive* did, but that's another story.

Me: Yeah, well, sounds interesting, but I actually have to get going. Sorry for the wrong number, I will try to dial more carefully in the future...


So, send me an email if you want Crazy Lady's number. We can call her from all sorts of numbers across the US on Tuesday (April Fools Day) and ask for her daughter. I am pretty sure she has a good sense of humor and would be up for a prank like that.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

15, 16, 17, 18....

Today has been an "adventure." Medical visits 15, 16, 17, 18 were today! They were all for Nick... And they were not without drama.

The good news is that he's okay. (Well, okay wouldn't actually be accurate, but he will be okay.) The final diagnosis is the flu. Yup-- the flu. :(

This dianosis missed by the Minute Clinic who diagnosed him as having "sinusitis", by the paramedics when Nick had to call 911 from his car today because he was pretty sure he was having a heart attack (he wasn't), and our primary care doctor who took one look at Nick and sent us to the ER. And at the ER before the flu swab, they did about 12 different blood tests and cultures, a chest E-ray, a CT scan and a urine test. He was also very dehydrated-- and they gave him two liters of fluid.

So yeah, Nick was pretty sure he was going to die today. It scared the HECK out of me. I had no idea the flu could be this bad-- he could hardly stand up this evening and his hands were numb all day long (apparently he was hyperventilating, unknown to himself). Please pray he feels better soon and that he keeps it to himself!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Job" Opening

So, yeah. In an effort to work towards the concept of surrendering my life on a daily basis to the God who made me (which I am not doing a very good job at currently) I realized that I need someone in my life who will speak the truth to me in love, on a regular basis, other than my husband. I am in an AWESOME life group, but I need just one or two women who know me really well who can hear it all.

So, I am posting the following Job Opening. EMAIL ME if you're interested!

1-2 Accountability Partner(s):
(aka someone who knows my junk and is willing to walk on the journey with me.)

Must Have Requirements:
  • Female
  • Local to me
  • Christ follower
  • Willing to meet on a weekly basis
  • Someone who can keep confidential things confidential

Would be NICE to have:
  • Someone who wanted to meet in the early (7ish or earlier) mornings
  • Someone who wasn't interested in a "Bible Study" but more of open accountability time

I have no preferences in regards to:

  • Marital status
  • Sin issues (unless you're in love with my husband or something, that would just be awkward)
  • Age (well, actually, you have to be an adult-- but I don't care how old of an adult)

  • Well, none from me, other than having someone with which to unload YOUR junk/pray for you, etc.
  • HOWEVER, I have so many issues you'll probably end up with a jewel in your crown in heaven just because of me.
  • You'll get to know all the dirt about Nick Mangine.

Things you don't have to worry about:

  • What if it doesn't work out? No biggie. We won't get into anything too deep until we know it's a good thing for both/the three of us.
  • How "spiritual" you are. That's kind of irrelevant to me as long as you love and follow Jesus.

Random Thought Thursday

So here they are:

1. A few days ago I was passing a gas station and noticed the price had gone down to $3.21 from $3.27. I said to Nick, "Wow, gas prices are really coming down." It's pretty pathetic when I am excited about gas at $3.21. I was looking through Nia's baby book the other day (she's my only child who HAS one... sorry Nico and J-man) and gas was $1.47 the week she was born. (She's 4.)

2. Many times I think people practice false humility. Kettle corn is something I won't practice false humility over. I make GOOD kettle corn. I think making kettle corn might be my spiritual gift. Except that I don't see it on the list. Well, if it was there, that would be it. Unless, of course, eating kettle corn could included as a spiritual gift... then it would be a tie.

3. The other day Nia was playing and I asked her what she was doing. And she told me she was playing "witch." I told her that's not a very nice thing to play and I thought maybe she should play something else. To which she said, "You know, Mom, it's really fun. You probably wouldn't think that if you just tried it." hmm.

4. I have decided I hate the expression, "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels." It's pretty much the stupidest thing I have ever heard because if it were true, no one would be fat. I have been thin. And, obviously, I have tasted things that taste better than that feels. The truth of the matter is that everything is spiritual.

5. ... and going, and going, and going... Josiah threw up three times in the middle of the night last night. The bad thing about babies is that they don't know how to throw up well and so they just make everything a mess. So EVERYTHING needs to be changed when they puke-- sheets, pjs, blankets... I think it's great to teach your kids to be gentle and kind and loving, but if I had to pick, I think I would prefer to teach them to throw up neatly.

6. Still haven't bitten the old nails. The crazy thing is that I am pretty sure I am going to have to trim them soon. I have never, ever in my life had to trim my nails as I have ALWAYS bitten my nails. Since I had teeth anyway. I don't know about before that. You'd have to ask my mom. I can put you in touch with her if you are that interested, but that would be weird if you are. (And as a side note to that whole discussion, I always thought that having fingernails made pudgy fingers look longer, thinner, and more graceful. Apparently not-- they still look like little smokies.)

7. Nia had to have a breathing treatment at the doctor yesterday and they gave her an inhaler to take several times a day. It gave her MAD energy. I am thinking about taking a few puffs to get me through the rest of the afternoon. I am trying to decide if it's the albuterol that's giving her extra energy or just that she's been apparently gasping for air the past few weeks that explains her lethargy.

8. I bought a new exercise DVD. It's THE FIRM's Cardio Dance Slimdown. It's kind of fun. Yesterday I was doing it and Nia was doing it with me. She loved it but she did make a point of saying, "Mom, the lady that is teaching us is not very modest." (Which is true, neither her attire nor her dance moves would fit into the "modest" catagory.) I guess I will have to pull out the Richard Simmons in order to find some "modest" exercise tapes to do while Nia is around. But then again, Richard Simmons is a whole OTHER uncomfortable conversation with a 4 year old.

9. I added a ticker to the old blog yesterday... Now we will see how many tens of people read it each and every month!

Happy Thursday folks...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Got milk?

Josiah does. Well, at least the sign for milk.

He's so cute.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It keeps going, and going, and going...

... and going, and going...

This virus (these viruses???) going through my family are like Energizer freakin' bunnies. Just when I thought everyone was well-- nope! All of a sudden (and when I say all of a sudden I mean like in two hour's time) Nick is like deathly ill. A fever, body aches, a cough... I am nervous he has the flu. PLEASE GOD, NO! So he's up in bed. I am thinking of sleeping on the couch. I love him and all, but I am not itching to get the flu.

Meanwhile, I am sitting here listening to Nia on the monitor cough her little cough that we suspect may be asthma-related. So... I guess I will try to get her in tomorrow... Aargh... I thought this was getting better. I have been trying to will it away for the past 3 weeks. No dice apparently.

Meanwhile, I had another post-op today to check on the old dental implant. The wound is starting to close, but I have have another appointement in two weeks to have it checked again. Not to be confused with the appointment I had yesterday.

Meanwhile, Josiah had an ENT appointment today and we've decided to do tubes. So sometime this week the hospital will be calling to schedule his pre-op, his surgery, and his post-op appointments. Which is not to be confused with his Synagis shot appointment which is in two weeks.

Meanwhile, Nick, Nia AND Nico ALL have dentist appointments next Thursday.

Meanwhile, I have a counseling appointment next Monday AND then I am going for a follow-up with my doctor next Thursday.

That's 13 medical appointments in the next two- three weeks. (Assuming Nick doesn't go to the doctor and no one else get's sick... ha!)

This is a medically expensive season in the life of our family.

Twofer Tuesdays-- Celebrities + Smells

My top 5 celebrities who I am/have been fascinated with
(Not in any particular order except #1-- that's my ultimate all-time favorite.)

5. Angelina Jolie. It is possible that she is a home wrecker, HOWEVER, I just think her life is interesting, and it would at least "appear" that she's a good mom. And come on folks, she's beautiful.

4. Bob from the Biggest Loser. He's so pretty. And he's so nice, even to fat people. :) That's pretty significant I think, because really pretty people don't usually like to associate with really fat people. Most pretty people would claim that's not true, but hey, let's look at the evidence... kwim? I think I would be as thin as Angelina Jolie if Bob were MY trainer. I am pretty sure I would do whatever he said. And that being said, I am pretty sure Bob isn't into me, (or anyone else with my particular anatomic configuration) so my marriage would be safe.

3. Britney Spears. Now, I am not claiming that I like her. I don't really care for her or her music. However, I DO think she gets a pretty raw deal from the media. The girl is obviously going through a rough spell.. cut her some slack folks. We've all had some patchy spots in our lives-- and really, how would YOU look with a camera in your face 24/7 while you were going through yours? And really, when she had pregnancies so close together and everyone was saying how "fat" she was??? Really? Oh, so now size 4 is fat when she used to be a 2 or a 0? What the heck is wrong with our society?

2. Chris Farley. I am pretty sure a funnier man has never existed. It's kind of a bummer that he's dead, but hey, the law of the harvest...

1. Kirk Cameron. I love him. I LOVE him. I mean I REALLY LOVE HIM. He was my 5th grade crush when he was on "Growing Pains." I thought I would DIE if I didn't meet/marry him. Well, apparently that wasn't in the cards. I saw him a few years ago telling/crying his life story at the Creation Festival and totally loved him again. I stood just two feet away from him and he said "Hi" and I seriously wanted to scream like a 5th grader, although I was 26 years old. Nick will "claim" that Kirk Cameron kissed him on the cheek at that festival. He's a liar. He's just jealous that Kirk Cameron never said, "hi" to him. Now, I am not a proponent of divorce. I would never divorce my husband, nor am I suggesting that Kirk Cameron should divorce his lovely wife Chelsea. All I am saying is that should Nick and Chelsea face an untimely demise, I would entertain the possibility of Kirk Cameron as a potential suitor. (Disclaimer: Although I do LOVE Kirk Cameron, please don't think my infatuation with him leads me to a love for the LEFT BEHIND movies... Um, no. Even I, with my slightly biased view based on the lead actor being Kirk Cameron, can see how B grade they are.)

onto another random Top 5--

My top 5 FAVORITE Smells

5. Patchouli. I know-- totally dirty hippie. BUT I LOVE IT.
4. My Uncle Digger's spaghetti sauce cooking all day on a Sunday. Oh my yum. (Look for this in a future Twofer Tuesday-- Tastes.)
3. Coffee. Enough said.
2. Haiti. Okay, this is a weird one, because most smells in Haiti are objectionable. (ie-- diesel fumes, rotting trash, burning trash, charcoal smoke, body odor...) But something about the combination of it all invokes a really pleasent feeling in me.
1. Lavender. Mmmmm... I love anything lavender. I especially love lavender and patchouli mixed together. The best lotion I have ever owned was this one.

Runner's up: Fresh cut grass, the smell when it just starts raining, the ocean (but those are all so cliché-- hmmm, maybe they are so cliché because they are just all around good smells.)

NOTE: When available, I used Wikipedia links. I just thought these were the safest bet. There are more "official" sites on some of these people/things, but I didn't want to have to vouch for all the content... make sense?

Monday, March 24, 2008

God's stuff

Now that Nia is the sister two brothers, sharing tends to be a challenge at times. I have been trying to temper the "That's Mine!"'s with explanations like, "Nia, the Bible says that the earth belongs to the Lord and everything in it is His too."

So now these are pretty typical conversations in our home:

Conversation 1*************************************************************
Nia, eat your chicken nuggets.

But mom, they're not MY chicken nuggets. They belong to God. Do you want me to eat God's chicken nuggets?

Conversation 2************************************************************

Nia, can you go get me one of Josiah's diapers?

Mom, Josiah doesn't have any diapers. Do you want me to get one of God's diapers?

Conversation 3***********************************************************
Nia, please help Nico put on his seatbelt.

You mean you want me to put God's seatbelt on Nico?

The thing is, she's not being sassy-- she just wants me to know she gets it. (And she likes to point out that I have made a "mistake.")

Jeepers... why does everything have to be so difficult? :)

Saturday, March 22, 2008


The kids are in bed. Nia is still screaming from a tantrum that has lasted the past 45 minutes, but at least they are all in bed. If all goes as planned, Nick has the next shift. He's coming in late tonight. (Later than I had hoped as his flight is delayed-- of course it is!)

But even so, I am sitting here drinking a rather LARGE glass of Two Buck Chuck (Shiraz) and enjoying the (relative) quiet. The only thing that could make this moment better would be a celebrity gossip magazine to thumb through.

A few observations I have made this past week as a single mom:

1. If this was a permanent situation, my children would be marked among the childhood obese in America. I don't know what it is, but I have no drive to cook nutritious food when my husband isn't home.

2. If this were a permanent situation, my children would be spoiled brats because I have been very lenient this past week. (Undoing THAT will be fun this week!)

3. If this were a permanent situation, I would probably go for the case discount on the above-mentioned Two Buck Chuck.

Seriously folks, I am a big fat loser without my husband. And I am okay with that.

Oops. My glass is empty. Gotta go!

Some things never change

Across time...




... and place...

Every girl wants to be a princess.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 21, 2008

The 4 people who are most excited about Nick coming home tomorrow...

In your Easter Bonnet...

... with all the frills upon it, you'll be the loveliest Haitian in the Soccer Tournament!

One thing I LOVE LOVE LOVE about Haiti is the way people use things the way they are needed, not necessarily what they were originally created for.

If you want to see some more pics of the soccer tournament in Jacmel (that Nick is at right now), go to

There aren't actually too many pictures of the tournament. There are several of the community meal, the medical clinic, etc...

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Nia's words upon me explaining that Grandad is older than Nana, and Grandpa is older than Grandma, but Mommy is older than Daddy.

Nia (scoldingly):
"Mom, I think it's much more modest for the husband to be older than the wife."

Random Thought Thursday

I am starting to rethink my music choices lately as Nia asks after each song we listen to, "What does that song mean?" There are several songs that I just really like the sound of-- but not necessarily the lyrics. 2 examples that pop into my head "Angel" by Shaggy and "Don't cha" by the Pussycat Dolls. Those two songs in particular I like to totally crank and just let the kids "carseat dance" in the car. And it was working for me for a while. Back around Christmas time I remember playing "Angel" and Nia said, "Mom, oh, listen! This is a song about the angels talking about Jesus!" (I didn't correct her but I didn't exactly tell her she was right.) Yesterday, however, she asked, "Mom what does that song mean?" THinking quickly, I said, "Well, it's a man who loves his WIFE so much, he thinks she's like an angel." She seemed happy with that answer, but I have decided that both those two songs (ESPECIALLY "Don't cha") are now out of my loop when she's in the car. As is "Moondance" by Van Morrison. :( I just don't feel like explaining "making love" to her at this point.

I want to give a shout out to all the single moms out there. Having had a taste this week, let me just say this-- NO FUN. It really isn't easy. But surprisingly, the hardest part isn't managing the kids and the house, it's not having someone to chill with at the end of the night. To laugh with, to make fun of my kids with, to speak in complete sentences with...

My kids are speed pray-ers these days. Before each meal (or each serving of a meal if you're Nico) I hear, "ThankyouJesusforthisfoodgloryhallelujahamen." Or sometimes they sing in Kreyol-- in which case it's "MesiJezipoumanjemwenlaglwaallelujahamen." (I am sure I butchered the spelling.) Ah! Nothing like them getting the letter of the law accomplished. I am SO proud.

Last Sunday, Steve Daugherty (one of the wicked awesome pastors at our wicked awesome church) preached a wicked awesome message about the concept of Surrender. You can download it for free here. (Jesus Surrendered) I am pretty sure it might have changed my life. I am a pretty big control freak. A while ago I was seeing a counselor who said I have an "overactive sense of responisibility." That can be a problem at times for two specific reasons. (Well, probably a lot more than two, but two main ones come to mind.) First, I internalize my "successes" in life, thinking I made them happen. Second, I internalize my failures in life, thinking I made them happen. Now, in both cases, sometimes that can be somewhat true. Most times, however, it is not. I always have to have a plan. And usually, that plan fails. So... I make a new one. I read a new book. I come up with the new "best thing." What I am realizing is that what I really need to do to be "in control" (ha!) is surrender my life to the God who created me. Live with a decent amount of common sense, but moment by moment I need to surrender my struggles, my successes, my fears, my joys, my husband, my children, etc. to the God who created me. So as I am listening to this message, literally the first thought I had was. "Yes. This makes sense. I need to go get a book on how to surrender." Nice, huh? I realized the folly of my thinking, but this just goes to show you how far I have to go. Since then, I have been going at it without a plan.

For some reason I couldn't embed it... but I promise it's worth it.
Stole it from my sister's blog.

That's all for now-- I know I have more random thoughts, but I just can't think of them.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


That stands for "Mother of the Year Moment" and "Quote of the Day"

Apparently I am incapable of arrive at Nico's speech therapy on time. Pretty much every single session I arrive about 2-3 minutes late. It's SO frustrating, because no matter how hard I try, something ALWAYS makes me arrive late. Don't tell me "just plan to go earlier" because it never works. Today is the perfect example.

We arrived at the school EARLY for a change. We even had to sit in the car for a few moments because we were SOOOOO early. When it was time to go, I was lugging Nico and Josiah out of the car and Nico grabs the front of his pants and says, "Pee Pee Mommy." (aargh.)

I was sort of in a bind because we were like a 5 minute walk away from the nearest bathroom. So I told Nico, "Honey, I am sorry, there isn't a bathroom nearby. You are wearing a diaper, so it's okay to go in your pants. We will change you right after therapy." So he does. All SHOULD have been well, except that he wasn't actually wearing a diaper. Yeah, apparently I forgot to put one on. So now he is like SOAKED! And I mean like, "call in the Red Cross to help us with this flood" soaked. Well, the good news is that any good mother has an extra set of clothes in the diaper bag. The bad news is that I am not a good mother. So I had no extra clothes.

Taking a page out of the Kris Stoner book of parenting, a brilliant thought struck my mind-- use Josiah's pants. So as quickly as I could, I jerked off Nico's wet pants and Josiah's dry ones and put the dry ones on Nico (even though they were several inches too short.) I just left Josiah in his diaper.

The cold wind blows us into the door of Speech Therapy about 3 minutes late (as usual) with Nico in his short pants and Josiah pantless (sporting a really dirty diaper that I noticed when I was thieving his pants from him that I didn't have time to change.)

So there it is folks-- my MOTYM...

My nonchalant niece Katie to Nia:
"Nia, you don't have to be scared of my dog Bessie anymore because she's dead in the backyard."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I miss Nick

that's all.

Twofer Tuesdays- Sensations

My top 5 FAVORITE sensations
(again, random order)

5- My kid's heads. This includes: Rubbing my lips against Josiah's soft furry little head, the feeling of rubbing and scratching oil into Nico's hair and scalp, and twirling Nia's ponytail around my fingers. LOVE those feelings. (That's probably actually three, but I had too many and wanted to keep it to a list of 5... I know, I am a cheatface. At least I, unlike Andrew Brown, can admit it.)

4- Putting on a pair of stretch pants after a long day.

3- Walking off the plane and onto the tarmac in Haiti. The hot muggy hair hits your face, you hear the Digicel band playing... the sensation is indescribable. It feels like home.

2- Being in a HOT bath with the door locked so no kids can come in. (to really enjoy this, Nick must be home so if there's an "emergency,"( which there usually is), Nick can deal with it and I won't have to traipse around the house cold and soaking wet trying to encourage Nico not to sit on Josiah's neck.

1- Nick putting his hand on the small of my back when we are singing in church.

Runner's up: (yes, I know-- cheatface) A good footrub, the satisfaction that comes with a clean house (at least I imagine I would like this... I'll let you know if it ever happens), and the feeling right AFTER you're done working out really hard.

My top 5 LEAST favorite sensations

5- Peeling back the back of a diaper to check it and landing my fingers in poop.

4- Jeans that are too tight.

3- Running.

2- Turning over in what I think is the middle of the night and looking at the clock to discover the alarm is going to go off in one minute.

1- Being exhausted in the middle of the night and wanting to sleep but not being able to.

Runner's up: PMS, rushing because we are late

Clarification and "fun mom" update

Perhaps this is image managment, but I don't care. Let me clarify something-- I, Gwenn Mangine, am NOT eating the Lunchables with the kids. I think they are the most repulsive things ever. I have eaten a lot of strange things-- jellyfish, goat... but I don't think I could stomach a Lunchable. The thought makes me dry heave-- especially the cold hotdog one. Seriously, who THOUGHT of that? And WHY do kids like it? I don't have answers to these questions, I just know they do. At least mine do.

I am eating food I like. I have twice now had my favorite sandwich-- a caprese sandwich, which is fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzerella (yes, the wiggly kind) all sliced and layerd on crusty french bread, and then drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, topped with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Oh my yum.

Okay, so the "fun mom" update. I have been successful thus far. Last night's "fun mom" project was a "Shoe Project." (Sounds fun already, huh?) The kids gathered all the shoes from all the various closets around the house, we tried all the shoes on them, got rid of too small/set aside too big shoes, and re-organized them in the downstairs coat closet, since that's where they all end up anyway. Nia thought this was great fun. She liked being in charge. (Apple doesn't fall far from the tree...)

Here's a pic of the success we had:

Today's "fun mom" project is called, "Clean the Kitchen." And if we get through that with a bit of sucess, we'll move on to "Sort the Laundry," and then, "How to Use a Washing Machine."

Also, I want to roll out a new blog feature on The Life and Times of the Mangine Five (TLATOTM5 ). I am calling it Twofer Tuesdays. I had such fun rolling out my Top Five Addictions last week, that I decided to do two "Top 5" lists every Tuesday. So, be watching, because "Twofer Tuesdays" are probably going to rock your world with the amount of random, useless knowledge you will have about me.

Monday, March 17, 2008

These people know how to celebrate

We have a soccer tournament coming up at the end of the week here in Haiti, so one of the first things we did was to check out the field. Unfortunately, (that was sarcasm... I was totally excited when I realized what was going on) there was a game going on and hundreds (thousands?) of people were crowded on to the field to watch.

We got to watch about the last 1/2 hour of the game. But what really interested me was the crowd. I got some pictures of the crowd celebrating--a penalty kick. At this point, no goal had been scored, all that had happened was that a penalty was called so that a player from the local team had a chance to score a goal. Still, much of the crowd rushed onto the field. There were people doing cartwheels in the penalty box. It took like 5 minutes to get the game started again. These people know how to celebrate.

The problem was he missed the shot.
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Not that into seperation

So Nick has been gone just over 24 hours and I have realized (already) that I am not cut out to be a single parent. Now, let me also say that we are fine. The kids are fine. Everyone is well and things are getting done. It's not that I am unable to do everything, I just don't like to.

Here are a few of the observations I have made:

- Nick is usually in charge of walking the dog, Strom. I am certainly capable, but the odd that SOMEONE isn't sleeping in our house at any given point is pretty slim. Thankfully he's an easy-going dog and doesn't mind just running out back. We WILL get in at least one GOOD walk today though... I PROMISE.

-Nick is also usually in charge of feeding Strom. That usually happens after his morning and evening walks. No walks= no food. I remembered halfway through the day yesterday that he needed to be fed. And then again late last night. I am not a very good dog owner. I was before I had kids. And then they (the kids) were a lot cuter. My suggestion for a newly married couple thinking of getting a puppy-- just have a kid. You may find you're tired of the dog once the kid comes along. Just kidding... sort of.

- I actually slept like a baby last night. (Well, like my baby.) I went to sleep at 7:30 PM and only woke up once (because Josiah woke up to be fed). I got up this morning (5:30AM!) refreshed and ready to go... maybe Nick's snoring is the problem? Could it be that Benjamin Franklin is right? "Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." I will let you know how that works out for me today. I am expecting an onslaught of health, wealth and wisdom.

- I let Nia sleep with me last night (because I am kind of afraid of the dark when Nick's not here.) And her little sleeping coos, half-awake sighs and mini-snores just about melted my heart. I love that little chica.

- I said this to several people yesterday and I think they thought I was kidding... One thing I love about Nick not being here is that I can feed the kids Lunchables for every meal and nobody cares. Okay, so I am not feeding them Lunchables for EVERY meal. Yesterday we had donuts for breakfast and my friend Kris had us over for lunch, but today's kind of looking like it's gonna be a Lunchable clean sweep.

- I am jealous of Nick being inHaiti mostly because I love Haiti and I love the Pye family and all the kids at the Haitian Children's Home, however, I do not envy Nick today as he will be engaged in an EIGHT HOUR LONG Board (Bored???) Meeting. I don't like meetings. I can never stay on topic. Nick's good at boring things, so he will probably LOVE it.

- So I was humbled last night-- love it when that happens. Nick called from Haiti and we were chatting and he was all like, "It was so sweet, guess what the first thing Elinda said to me was?" Now, let me preface this by saying that Elinda is (in my opinion) the spunkiest little spitfire I've ever met. She's totally adorable, very outgoing and just plain hilarious. (And a little sneaky too:) I LOVE her. And so I was thinking she was going to say something really sweet about me or ask where I was, but no. She said, "Where's Josiah?" Well, at least it's good to know where I rank on the Mangine family totem pole.

Gotta go, all the kids are awake-- now's my chance to redeem myself with Strom...

This is not my son

The trip to Haiti was pretty non-eventful yesterday. My plan was to listen to a mesage on my iPod each leg of the flight. It didn't quite work out that way on the second flight, but in a good way.

As I walked to my seat on the flight from Miami to Port I noticed a young kid sitting right in front of me. I was intrigued, because he was traveling with a Haitian woman, but he almost looked Asian. I sat behind them and, of course, it didn't take long for him to pop his little head up. Turns out his mom was Haitian, his dad was French and he had Downs. We played for a couple of minutes before the plane took off and apparently he took a liking to me. He threw a fit when he had to sit down and the only way to console him was to move him into the seat next to me. His mom seemed to like that idea--all she said to me was "he can get hyper."

He can. It was a very different flight that I expected, but it was fun. It was especially fun to see peoples reactions to him. I mean, he was way too loud and he threw things whenever he got the chance so he was pretty disturbing. One guy, very early in the flight actually yelled at me--I said sorry (in English because I can never remember how to say that in Creole) and shrugged--what else could I do.

A lot of people thought I was the dad (I'm not). The flight attendants all spoke to me in Creole (again thinking I was the dad). And one of flight attendants kept muttering under her breath "he's not a very polite boy."

I wanted to be like "he's four... and he's RETARDED! Cut the boy some slack!" But she's wasn't talking to me.

Here's a picture of Peter going through immigration--please pray for his mom :)
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Sunday, March 16, 2008

I am the fun mom

As I type, Nick is in the midst of flying to Haiti. I am kind of jealous that he's going without me, but Nick's glad because now it "evens up" our Haiti travel.

So, because he had to be there at early o' clock in the morning, I decided to just drag the kids out of bed at the last minute and throw them in the car in their pj's. They did great, except on the way home (about 5:30AM) Nia and Nico kept complaining they were SOOOOO hungry. Like an idiot I opened my big mouth and said, "We can stop at Dunkin Donuts" on the way home and you can get a donut. I was mostly thinking about coffee... (Have I mentioned I love coffee?) I especially LOVE Dunkin Donuts coffee. And where I am from, (New Jersey), Dunkin Donuts was a 24/7 operation. Yeah, not so much here. When we cruised through it was all dark and locked up, but I had gotten the kids all excited about getting a donut.

So I came up with the "fun mom" plan. I told the kids we were going to make donuts. Now in the back of my mind I realized this did mean they wouldn't be going home and back to sleep, but oh well. So we hit Harris Teeter in our jammies and bought our ingredients. (And by the time we left, the Starbucks had opened-- BONUS!)

So here's our photo essay of our donut-making adventure:

Frying them up.
(Yes, in case you didn't know-- donuts are fried-- that's why they are so dang good!)
(Vanilla frosting and sprinkles.)
Text of conversation in the Harris Teeter:
ME: Nia, do you want chocolate or vanilla frosting?
NIA: I want vanilla... But I am pretty sure Nico wants chocolate because he's black.
ME: (perplexed look) What does that have to do with anything?
NIA: It will match him better.
ME: Well, we're only getting one kind.
NIA: OKay, let's get vanilla.

Enjoying our labors.
(And Nico enjoyed some snot in there too-- awesome.)

Nia's tactic.
(Lick all the frosting off and then complain of a tummy ache.)

Josiah's first donut.
(He didn't seem too interested or impressed, but don't worry, I won't give up. I will give him enough fat and sugar over the next few years so that he's sure to have just as many food issues as I have.)

The kids are reveling in their sugar coma now, glued to the television watching "Mariposa." (The latest and greatest in the Barbie line of movies...) Well, Nia is. Nico still isn't addicted to television, (again, don't worry-- I am working on it,) so he's just walking around distracting everyone.

Nick is gone all week so I am going to have to think of other "fun mom" things to do. Can you help me with any ideas? Preferably "fun mom" non-food ideas. I can think of plenty of ideas that include food-- eating is my love language.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Daddy Love

Nia loves snuggling with her daddy too... I love this pic because it was completely unposed. Nick had fallen asleep just snuggling on Nia.

Nia's Easter Dress

Grandma made another winner...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mom Jeans

Ganking this from Melissa H's blog...

Mommy, is that you in the commercial???

My top 5 addictions

I have an addictive personality. I get easily drawn in by things. Now, thankfully, up to this point, they have all been pretty harmless things (other than the whole carbohydrate scenario) but it is funny to look at the things I feel like I can't say no to.

Here they are in random order:

1. A good deal. I have mentioned in previous posts that I am VERY cheap. VERY. So consignment sales (especially on 50% or 75% off days) watch out. Today was one of those 75% off days and although I did not get the thing I have been thinking of all week long since I saw it on Monday (see #2 for more details on that), I did get an EXTREMELY good deal that I have to share. I got this area rug for $12.50! They had a copy of the receipt with it. The person who bought it new spent over $300 including shipping. They had it marked at $50, and since today was 75% off day-- I got it for $12.50. It's in great shape and fits perfectly in the open floor space of the kiddo's room. Here's a pic of the actual rug... I feel such a sense of satisfaction when I get a bargain on something I like. *happy sigh*

2. Strollers. Oh my gosh. I love strollers. It's so ridiculous how much I like strollers. Nick and I will be out in public and I am MUCH MORE LIKELY to point out a cute stroller than a cute kid. Since Nia has been born I have owned (sheepish grin) TEN strollers. Yes folks... TEN. Now, let me say this in my defense. I did NOT buy all of these, and only two of these were bought new (and they were bought FOR me not BY me.) The others were garage sale/consignment sale/goodwill finds that were BEGGING me not to stay there. And I have given SEVERAL of these away. And two of them were given TO me. And I paid $5 for one. And I paid $7 for one. And I paid $9 for one. A few of them I bought used SPECIFICALLY to give away. But still. I LOVE strollers. And that's the number one thing I was looking for at the consignment sale. I wanted a lightweight stroller that was in better shape than the one (the $7 one) I have. Well, I didn't find it, but I found the AWESOMEST heavy duty stroller I have ever seen. The problem was that it was $198. (used.) So, I made the wise choice and walked away. BUT I did tell my husband I was going to buy it on the 75% off day if it was still there. It wasn't. And I am really sad. But it's probably for the best because I think I might have been coveting it. Well, actually, I WAS coveting it. Last night I kept thinking about it so much that when I was awake in the middle of the night (with the good old insomnia) I looked up some Bible verses on coveting, because I loved this stroller so much. So that probably worked out for the best.

3. Baby Carriers. This includes slings, wraps, snugli's, Bjorn's, backpack carriers etc. I have owned at least TEN (sheepish grin) of these bad boys. But again, read above. Same deal. Buy them at consignment sales, craig's list, get them as hand-me-down's etc. AND I have also given SEVERAL of these away to people who wanted/needed one of them. I currently have in my repitoire- One mei tai, one maya wrap, one backpack carrier, one Baby Bjorn. The Bjorn is now in the garage sale pile, and all the other ones I (or Nick) use somewhat regularly. And not one single one of these was bought new. I just love them.

4. Ice Cream. This one is obvious. The chocolatey-er the better.

5. Cheez It's. Seriously, can't have them in the house or I will eat the whole box.

Now you know the worst of it!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Random Thought Thursday

Little House on the Prairie is REALLY racist. This very sentence is in the book.... "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." (twice) Hmmm... if I can't read Little House on the Prairie without worrying about negative influences on my children, I am probably a little too strict.

I think a fun activity to do like on a date night or something would be to park your car right near the exit of a fast food restaurant and just watch people driving away in their cars. It's pretty hilarious. Many times people are SHOVING their faces with the food they just bought... like 20-30 fries at a time or gigantic bites of Big Macs... It's not nice to laugh at other peoples' expense, but come on, that's funny.

I have a HUGE cloud of guilt hanging over my head because I didn't have Nia participate in the Little Caesar's fundraiser at her preschool. The thought of Little Caesar's pizza kits didn't seem that appetizing or economical to me... I just couldn't do it. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone yesterday as it was "pick up" day. Reason 412 I am glad we are going to home school next year. No fundraisers. (Unless I think up anything cool-- and then hey, I profit. So really it's a win/win either way.)

I am literally seeing the process of redemption happen in our family. Nico has LITERALLY grown 1/2 inch in TWO WEEKS. That's 3 and a 1/2 inches since he's been home. And 8 lbs. Seriously, folks, if that's not thriving, I don't know what is.

Okay, I am bragging here, but I think it's okay since it's not about my kids. My niece, Katie, (yes, the creepy open-eyed sleeper) is SO stinkin' smart. She's 6. So if she was in public school she would be in kindergarten. (But she is home schooled so she's just about done with first grade technically.) She is reading the Harry Potter Books right now. I personally find the combination hilarious. A home schooler reading Harry Potter. Does anyone else think that's funny? I mean I can imagine a home schooled kid reading at that level-- but I would be thinking more a long the lines of some of those Amish book series that my mom likes to read. :)

Nia's puking again. Seriously? Yes, seriously. She got some mad distance with this particular episode.

My dad's birthday is today! Woo Hoo. Happy 55th old man!

Nick's hair is bordering on getting longer than mine. It's seriously out of control. Someone, please, encourage him to cut it.

I feel all tricky on days like today when it's nice outside and all the windows are open and we're not using the heat or the AC... I call them "break even" days and in a weird, twisted way, I feel like I am stickin' it to the man. What man? I don't know. But that's how I feel.

I am breaking the carb addiction today... and it pretty much is awful. I have a total headache and can't wait for bedtime. I know I will feel great in 2-3 days, but right now-- yowza!

I am SO mad at my doctor right now I could spit. We're SO fighting. I am totally quitting him. It's a long story so I won't go into it all, but if any of you ladies want to know who NOT to use as an OB, drop me a line.

That's all folks. Happy Thursday...

My best friend is not my husband...

Or one of my girlfriends. Or one of my kids. Or Jesus, sadly.

It's coffee.

Coffee and I have a special relationship. I love it in a way that probably borders on the inappropriate. I think about coffee during times I should be thinking about other things. I try to limit my consumption to the morning (because of the insomnia) and to two cups a day. Although lately, the cups have gotten larger and larger. I noticed this morning that I used to brew 4 "cups" of coffee on the coffee pot I have and that was 2 of my Gwenn-sized cups. Now I brew 6 "cups" and it's still 2 Gwenn-sized cups. I am SO living in denial.

I like it light and sweet, just like I like my men. I used to like it black and strong, but that's a story for another day.

Photo proof

Well since I am tired out of my stinkin' mind but can't fall back asleep.... (thanks Josiah)

Here are some "newsworthy" events happening at our house.

1. I am being successful at the stopping biting my fingernails scenario. Nia is not. (But that's okay, I understand because I can't stick to a diet for more than 10 minutes, so I am not pouring on the guilt, Nia... but I am totally beating you though.)
Here's my photo proof:
(maybe like 3 weeks ago?)
(like, 2 minutes ago)

2. My niece, Evie, is so cute I want to eat her with a spoon. She has the solidest, chubbiest cheeks you've ever seen. (And thighs too... oh to be an infant again...)
Here's my photo proof:

3. My niece Katie sleeps with her eyes open. It's really kind of creepy.
Here's my photo proof:

4. So yeah, still toothless. Went for a post op today and even though I am not having pain anymore, it's not actually healing all that well... errrrrrr. So, it'll be the "flipper" (aka "party tooth") for a little longer.
Photo proof for those wondering what that is:

5. I love being Nico's mom. It rocks.
Photo proof:
6. Gotta go. Nia JUST threw up. Because I care about you, the reader, I will not include photo proof. (Though I did consider it.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Totally cool "coincidence"

We started a new life group last week. Starting a group is always fun, but I feel nervous...

Tonight I was sharing that Josiah is probably going to have to get tubes in his ears because of his reoccurring infections. Now in the scope of things, tubes really aren't a big deal, but I have felt a little nervous ever since the doctor said, "We'd like to avoid that if possible because he's a cardiac baby."

Well, fast forward to after the group. This guy Mike comes up to us and tells us about HIS son who had to get tubes three times after being a cardiac baby. The COOL thing is that his son was born with the SAME heart defect as Josiah was-- Transposition. It was so good for me to talk to a parent who'd felt the same emotions and dealt with the same issues. God is gracious.

After almost a week, my sister Melody has left. :( I am sad. My sister's are so much fun. I can't IMAGINE life without them in it. I can't remember the last time I have laughed as hard as I have in the past week. It has gotten me to thinking that I DO want Nia to have a sister. I really, really do. But let me just get this out there-- that sister will NOT be homegrown! So, I do expect sometime later (MUCH later) we'll adopt a girl. Sisters rock.

And my last note before my bed wins the fight for my attention-- I just want to say for the record (in regards to my last post and Andrew Brown's LENGTHY comment)-- I can say for a FACT that Andrew Brown IS, in fact, a cheat face. I can say this because I have cheated with him in the game of Pit. He and I have made SEVERAL deals before the opening bell. So... say what you will Andrew Brown-- but you have God to reckon with if you still you want to claim you aren't a cheatface. (And by the way, Andrew Brown-- I totally can beat you at Masterpiece, Pit, Scattergories, Taboo, Tribond, Clue... shall I go on???)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Nia is awesome.

My birthday is coming up in April and since my mom came for a quick visit, she brought me my present, a Karaoke machine. She had two Disney CD's that came with it, and I proceeded to plug it in and do a heart-felt rendition of "Friend Like Me" from Aladdin. I was really into it-- and you know, I am pretty awesome, so my kids were very moved by it. When I finished, after the kids (and Nick) gave me thunderous applause, Nia says, "Mom, that's God talking, isn't it?"

Isn't that awesome? I mean, yeah, she was wrong. It was actually the genie. But when she heard the song about how this was such a good friend to have and all the things this person could do for you, her thought was God. I love that.

In other news-- Andrew Brown DID in fact come over and we had a great game night with a lot of laughs. Andrew has been our friend for a LONG time-- probably like 6-7 years or so. We get together every now and then and even though it's a competitive night of game play, we always leave friends. Andrew is moving to Colorado next month and I am really sad about it. He's one of the coolest guys we know. As a Christian he totally "gets" it. He serves so selflessly and gives so generously.

And he's really good at lots of games. (That will happen when you are one of NINE children!) But I realized something last night. He's only good at certain kinds of games. Games that involve basic strategy and quick movement-- he's a champ... pretty much never loses. (though sometimes Nick does beat him... but never me.) However, games that require thinking and real-world knowledge in anything important-- yeah, I can pretty much always beat him. And Nick and I are such a fearsome team that he has never, never, never beaten us at any game, no matter his partner. Unless of course, he cheats. Which he totally does.

So in that light, I give you this photo. I like to title it:

Cheatface and Sore Loser
We're going to miss you Andrew.

Friday, March 7, 2008

I thought of one more I meant to include

RT 10:
Okay, so when did banking institutions start sending their correspondence in plain blacked-out packages like it's a dirty magazine or something? A few weeks ago we got new checks in the mail and they way they had them arranged, I thought it someone was sending us a "Reader's Digest"-sized dirty magazine. For a minute my heart skipped a beat and I thought I was going to have to have a "serious discussion" with Nick. But then I realized it was just our checks. Then again today, Charles Schwab sent us something about some retirement account we have with them and again it was magazine sized and in plain black plastic.

Considering the kind of shady character that it would take to steal mail, it doesn't seem like wrapping it to look like porn is the best choice if we are trying to deter them.

Random Thursday thoughts posted on Friday because that's apparently how I roll...

Here they are:

I am an atrocious sister and mother. Apparently Josiah cried for about 45 minutes last night before I heard him. (The monitor was turned down very low.) However, Melody heard him from moment one. And it was her who finally came and got me to tell me he was crying. (Incidentally I did the same thing to Danny Pye by accident when he was visiting.... however, that was an hour and he never woke us up.) SO SORRY!

A few months ago my sister's dog, Bessie, went missing for several weeks. Amazingly she was found and it was a happy reunion. The tragic ending to the story happened yesterday when she got all tangled in her leash and choked. Please say a prayer for my little nieces and nephew (Katie, Micah and Abbie) as they're pretty sad about their dog dying. PS-- In a suspicious twist, the neighbors are not sad about Bessie's untimely demise. Hmmmmm.....

Baby Gap had a whole mess of stuff marked down. I got Nia 5 pairs of socks for $.47 each! I got Josiah a new summer hat for $.97 and another cute hat for $.27! Such deals!!!

Carousel's, which are fun as a child, are actually a pretty pukey prospect as an adult.

Caribou Coffee's "Mint Condition" is an amazing concoction. To quote Chris Strayer (although he was referring to Krispie Kreme Doughnuts) "I think I might have just gotten saved."

Our dear friend Andrew Brown is coming over tomorrow for one of our board game marathons. Andrew seems very mild mannered to many people but he's actually a pretty fierce competitor, known to spout out phrases like, "Cheat face" when someone else is winning.

I found out TWICE this past week that it's a bad idea to send a non-potty-trained child to bed without a diaper on. (Even if it's an accident.)

I am adjusting to life as a toothless person. It's bad-- it doesn't really bother me anymore and even though the "flipper" (aka "party tooth") fits now, I find myself not wearing it. And incidentally, it's a bad idea to wrap it up in a napkin at the table when you are eating because it could very easily get thrown away and then you have to dig through the outside trash can with bags full of putrid coffee grounds and rotting diapers. When you find it you have to bleach it before you put it back in and then even so, you feel a little "dirty" wearing it, but it's better than paying $600 for a new one. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.)

My niece Evie is 8 months old and cuter than a speckled pup. Speaking of pups, she really likes OUR pup, Strom. Actually, she really only likes the back end of our pup and is fascinated by it. Now, Strom is a pug, so he has an upright, curled tail. This leaves his.. eh hem... 'backdoor bathrooming part' open for all to see. That's the part Evie is most interested in and tries to grab. It's absolutely hilarious and completely disgusting at the same time. But hey, maybe we found a solution for what to do with Strom when we move to Haiti?

That's all for now.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The boy's turn

Today was the boy's turn for a photo shoot-- after their makeovers, of course. So it was Mohawks all around. (And yes, they are ALL real...)

Their album cover shot:

And the "defeated" record stands!

So yeah, public humiliation isn't really THAT big of a deterrent to me as I couldn't even go one day without refined carbs.

Pasta last night for dinner. (But that was part of a family meal and I didn't go overboard, but still.) Then a few bites of ice cream-- not the SEVERAL servings that my husband had, but still.

Then this morning Froot Loops for breakfast. (Hey, they are made out of fruit, right?)

So-- I am a dismal failure. Oh well-- nothing new. :)

By the way, my little sister Mel asked me if I was blogging about how awesome she is. I told her yes. So, here it is. Melody is awesome. (She actually is. I am not just saying that.)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

High "fashion"

So since Wednesday nights are elder's meetings for Nick, many times I will watch "America's Next Top Model." I actually can't stand the show, but it has that train wreck quality about it-- you just can't look away. One of the things that cracks me up is the whole concept of "high fashion" where the models are like totally transformed to look ridiculous and it's somehow all in the name of fashion. I just don't really get it.

But, since I want to be the fun aunt, I decided to do makeovers in "high fashion" style. Then we had a photo shoot--

Here are some of our best shots: