Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Empire State

That's NY, right?

Well, after 13 hours of driving, babies screaming, potty breaks galore, listening to almost all of Pride and Prejudice on the Ipod, and Nick dozing off at the wheel at least 3 times-- we made it to NY. (No Doz became a valued member of the family during the drive.)

Our first stop was Uncle KC's farm. Fun stuff. The kids got to feed the animals and pick apples to make an apple pie. A good time was had by all.

Yesterday we came up to Nick's hometown, Chittenango. So far we're having a blast, but MAN, I am tired. I don't know WHAT'S going on with me-- I must have a blood disease like Kris Stoner.

Tonight is the big shindig. Yes folks, it is Nick Mangine's 10 year highschool reunion. I am looking forward to it tremendously. We pretty regularly keep in touch with Nick's two best high school friends-- Mike and Scott. So it's been fun hanging with them. I got a lot of new interesting info on Nick last night. I always knew he was a smarty-pants and that he was well-liked in high school, however, I did not know that on Senior Awards Night he received the "Most Outstanding Student Award"-- as voted by the student body. He also received the "Gym Award" for best participation in physical education. Back off ladies-- he's all mine. Tonight should be fun.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

HCH Gustav update

This is a repost from Leann Pye's blog--

Today's update:

Hurricane Gustav...Day 2

The wind and rain continued thru the night and into the morning today. Pastor Placide has continued to call us telling us of certain people we know that are in desperate need of help. However, with the storm still here it is difficult to leave. The four wheeler has been are life saver and the only way to travel outside our home. With it’s size and strength we have been able to buy more supplies for the orphanage and take Mdm Jean and Mdm Emiliene to their front doors. At this moment I don’t remember who donated that to us, but I can’t express our thanks enough. I know some of you are wondering how we are. We are fine. The house received a little damage; PVC pipe broken on the roof, missing metal on our porch roof, and 25 house crazy kids. We are running the house on the small gasoline generator only as we have not received power in 2 days. Unfortunately we only have 1 small gallon. So we have to drive to Texeco at least once a day to fill it up. My first thought is that you pray for it to stop raining. Danny and the three boys that went to Wahoo Bay are home. They ended up parking the car at the hotel and walking/swimming until I was able to pick them up on the 4 wheeler. Danny says downtown is bad. There is flooding everywhere with trucks under water. At some point he said the water was up to his neck.
I took Mdm Emiliene home with 2 of her girls. She insisted that she was walking home because she had a girl that stayed home and she was worried about her. With the four wheeler I was able to take small walking paths and go thru 3-4 foot deep water with no problems. I was able to go to about 30 feet from her house. It was heartbreaking. Her roof was torn off and carried about 30 feet from the house. Her clothes, house stuff, mattress, and kitchen are drenched and/or destroyed. There are several things we will have to replace as the rain destroyed it. Mdm Emiliene insisted on staying at her home, she was afraid of what little she had left would be stolen. So I took the three girls back to the house and told her I would return with some tarps. About 2 hours later I returned with Omega, Evens, and Maiz (Mdm Emiliene’s daughter). We brought 2 tarps, change of clothes, blanket, food, and water for the night. Mdm Emiliene was overwhelmed and in shock. She just kept saying how everything is gone. Night was approaching quickly and we forgot to bring a flashlight. So I had us put everything in the middle of the house and throw the tarps over it, holding it down with rocks and cement blocks. I hugged Mdm Emiliene and told her that we would help her out and she would have a stronger and better home. That God was with her and to not be afraid. She started crying, nodding, and thanked us for coming. It was dark and still raining. Omega, Evens, Maiz, and I were drenched and freezing as I drove slowly back. It is still raining today and we are praying that it stops.
Our Internet comes and goes. We have called our missionary friends and they are having hard times. Nixon and Sandra had to evacuate the old people’s village. The flooding and mudslides were that bad. Michelle and Larry have had extreme flooding again too. Tina is doing better as she is not as close to the mountain. Several Haitian friends also have flooded out homes or lost their homes. Above all pray that it stops raining.



Yesterday's update:

Hurricane Gustav...

First of all, how do you even pronounce that?!?!

Anyway, we are right in the middle of the hurricane. There is a lot of wind and rain. Some damage to the home, nothing horrible though. Please continue praying for our Haitian friends, employees, their families, and church people....actually all the Haitians. With Fay that just passed thru and now Hurricane Gustav dumping water on us, there is A LOT of flooding. Danny was able to get all the way thru the storm from Wahoo Bay Hotel, which is north of Port-au-prince, to Jacmel. However, he is stuck in downtown Jacmel. All roads are totally flooded and impassible. Something about a dump truck under water, so he's not trying. It is a praise report that he made it thru Port-au-Prince and the mountains. He said that several trees have fallen in the road, he just barely missed them. He is stuck in a hotel 1 mile or so from the house. As you can imagine, he is very annoyed to be so close.

Several church peeps have their homes under water. We believe that Mdm Emiliene's home lost it's roof and her house it might be a loss. We are not sure since she is here. For those that have been here on a missions trip, Mdm Emiliene is one of our house help. She makes that amazing Haitian meals that you love. Everyone is just waiting out and praying for their families. We ask the same of you.

Please also pray for our fellow missionary friends. Especially Tina (missionary that runs the school), Michelle and Larry (Hands and Feet Project), and Sandra and Nixon as they have had major problems with flooding and mud slides with the mountain right behind them in the past.

Thank you and I'll try to post after the storm.

An Apple With Gravy-- by Nia Mangine (assisted by her Mama)

We're doing a unit on apples this week. After we went over the life cycle of the apple, I asked Nia to tell me a story about apples. She got pretty elaborate with it and I asked if she wanted me to write it down for her and help her develop her ideas. She said yes.

I (obviously) helped her with typing it out, asked her questions to help direct her, and assisted with word choice, but I tried to stick as close to her actual words and story.

So this is what we came up with. (I love homeschooling!)

**************
An Apple with Gravy
by Nia Mangine
with her Mom

There once was a boy named Sam who had just had his 6th birthday. He wanted to plant an apple tree. He brought his seeds outside to plant them but then his mom called him in for lunch. He was going to have bananas, lima beans, and chicken with gravy.

Sam enjoyed his lunch, but his chicken needed more gravy. He reached across the table to get the gravy boat and he accidentally spilled the apple seeds in the gravy. Sam was worried that his seeds were ruined and said, "Uh oh, this isn't good."

Sam's mom saw what happened and she said, "Don't worry Sam. We can take them out of the gravy and wash them." And so they did. But they didn't use soap because they were afraid it would ruin the seeds and the apples wouldn't taste good. And even though they washed them for a long time they were still sticky with gravy. Sam was frustrated that the gravy wouldn't come off, but Sam's mom said, "Don't worry. They will be fine. Let's just see what happens."

Sam and his mom went outside and they worked together to plant the apple seeds.

Sam watched his apple tree a lot in the beginning, but it wasn't growing very fast, and so it got boring. After a while he forgot it was in his backyard. He had a big backyard. Many years later, Sam came home from music rehearsal at school. He played the violin. He used to play the piano, but he wasn't any good so he switched to the violin.

His mom rushed out the door and told him, "Sam-- there are blossoms on your tree-- apple blossoms! That means we will have apples soon." Sam started watching the tree again. Day after day he went out to look at the tree. The blossoms started to fall off. This made Sam sad because he thought the tree was dying. But Sam's mom told him, "That's okay-- that's what happens to the blossoms before the tree makes apples. Let's just wait and see."

A few weeks later Sam saw that his mom was right. He went out to check on his trees and he saw small green apples. He checked on it everyday. And the apples got bigger and started to turn red. And finally, the day he was waiting for arrived. He was ready to pick his apples. He got a big basket and he picked the apples with his mom. They washed them all up.

Sam and his family were going to eat some of his apples with dinner, and his mom was going to make an apple pie for dessert. But they couldn't wait until dinner. They were so excited because they had waited so long. So Sam and his mom decided to have an afternoon snack.

They washed and sliced two apples and sat down with a cold glass of grape juice. At the same time Sam and his mom bit into an apple slice. Their faces looked kind of funny. Sam said, "Mom, this tastes kind of weird." His mom agreed and she said, "I don't know why but it sort of tastes like gravy." Sam exclaimed, "I know what happened-- I dropped my apple seeds into the gravy before we planted them." They were so sad. They had waited so long and now all their apples tasted like gravy-- nobody would like them.

But it gave him an idea. The next day Sam and his mom went shopping for some supplies. Then, they went out into their big backyard and planted an apple orchard. But these weren't going to be regular apple trees. Sam and his mom dipped the apple seeds in all kinds of things before they planted them.

And years later when Sam was an adult, he became the richest apple grower in the world. He was the only one that knew the secret of growing chocolate-flavored apples, caramel-flavored apples, marshmallow-flavored apples, peanut butter-flavored apples, cheesy apples and many, many more.

The end.

Blog contest with prize-- HURRY!

I am excited. This is my first ever blog contest. There will be an actual prize too! If you are the winner, you will be awarded an actual Haitian artifact... Um, maybe artifact isn't the right word. And I will ship too. (Although not until next week because I am out of town until next week.)

One of the rewards Nia gets for doing good work in homeschool is the opportunity to color on the dry erase board. The other day told me she was going to draw a picture of her favorite thing and then asked me to guess what it was.

Her picture.
A closer look.

I did not guess correctly.

The only hint I will give is thatI don't know that such a thing exists in reality.

BUT... the first person with the correct answer (leave it in the comments) will receive the award. (Just make sure your email address is in the comment somewhere if it's not linked to your blogger login so I can contact you to get your address for shipping if necessary.)

AND PS--if I have already told you about this-- you're disqualified... don't even try to cheat.

Good luck!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Children's Book Review-- 2 thumbs down

Normally I like books by Todd Parr.

They are very simple and colorful and capture ideas well.

He has a newer book that I just got out of the library to read with my kiddos, and I was very excited about it. It's called "We Belong Together: A Book About Adoption and Families." Because Josiah was having a screaming fit in the library, I didn't get a chance to read it until I was at home reading it to the kids.

I hate it.

Here's why: Over and over again it talks about "we belong together because you needed..." and then lists all the things that the child needed and the parents could provide. (a home, help, someone to kiss your boo-boos, a friend, someone to play catch with, to learn, someone to read to you, someone to say "I love you" to.)

I kept waiting when they would get to the part about what the PARENTS needed-- someone to share their home with, someone they could help, someone to kiss, someone to be a friend to, someone to play catch with, someone to teach, someone to read to, someone to say "I love you" to...) But they never did.

It is all about the 'needs' this child has and how they are met by these parents. Which is only half the story.

We adopted Nico because WE wanted another child. It was totally a selfish thing, honestly. Yeah, it was great that we could meet the need of a child who needed a home, and that was a small part of it. But our primary motivation was selfish at the core. It was something WE wanted and needed. It's fantastic that Nico's been given a home. It's fantastic that he has a mom and dad. It's fantastic that he has someone to kiss his boo-boos. But we didn't adopt him because he needed those things. It was not a humanitarian mission. We adopted him because we needed him in our family.

Rant over. (Steps off soapbox.)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Man Recipe

Most men don't cook well. There are exceptions, of course, but they usually involve grilling or frying. I am definitely not a good cook. But I am proud of the recipe I came up with for lunch today. I call it:

Curly Noodle Hotdog and Broccoli Soup
  • 2 packages Ramen noodles; any flavor
  • 4 hotdogs; sliced thin
  • 1/2 bag frozen broccoli
  1. Microwave sliced hotdogs on high, in a microwave safe bowl, for 45 seconds
  2. Cook Ramen noodles as directed, using only 1 flavor packet
  3. Add hotdogs and frozen broccoli to the hot Ramen noodle
Serve hot, garnish each bowl with 2 ice cubes.

So, not only am I the mean mom...

... I am apparently the bad mom too. Josiah fell down the stairs yesterday. He's fine. Got a few bruises on his face. I honestly didn't see it happen so I don't know how many steps he fell down, but my heart was in my throat when I heard him scream. I have never, ever heard him scream that loudly or violently. (He usually doesn't even cry when he falls, he just sort of bounces and keeps going.) Scary.

In other bad mom news, I kept getting frustrated at the kids for not napping today and finally went into their room to lay the smack down (after almost 2 hours of them talking, squealing, laughing and carrying on.) I was hit in the face by a sewer-like stench upon opening the door and realized that the reason Josiah was keeping everyone up was because he had stinkpants. I don't know about you, but I don't think I could go to sleep with stinkpants. And my big kids had to endure the odor of rotting excrement, so I couldn't fault them either.

Well, I gotta go. Pray for us if you think of it-- life is crazy busy. As in, not healthy busy. But sometimes the only way through it is through it. Know what I mean?

Friday, August 22, 2008

McCain "blunder"-- it's all relative...

FYI-- this is not a political commentary, but just an observation on a current news story that has to do with a politician.

So probably most of us have at least heard about this story.
To sum it up-- John McCain was asked how many homes he owns, and he didn't know the answer for sure. He's been the butt of a lot of jokes, sneers, and news coverage about this. And I have to agree-- it seems pretty ridiculous.

HOWEVER--

If we look at it globally, it's all relative.

We could probably relate to his inability to produce an accurate answer quickly if we were asked a question like, "How many pairs of shoes do you own?" or (for some) "How many TV's are in your house," or "How many toys does your child have?"or, "How many frozen packages of meat are in your freezer?" or (in my case) "how many strollers do you own?" Or window treatments, or shirts or dresses or books or whatever.

I could drag this out on and on, but I don't think that's necessary. I think you get the point.

I have all of the above-mentioned things. And really, I don't know (without checking) how many I have of most of them. I DO know the answer is too many. It's the same thing as John McCain not knowing the number of homes he owns, but at a different scale. So really I guess MY focus should be on me before I jump on the bandwagon to judge.

I think it would benefit me to not focus so much on all the "extra" that other people have, and focus on trying to distribute some of the extra I have with people who not only do not have "extra," they do not have enough. Because, globally, the whole idea of "extra" is a pretty foreign concept.

The mean mom

So, it's official. I am the mean mom.

I've had this strategy for getting my kids to clean up after themselves that works pretty well. When they start complaining (and let's be honest, by 'they' I mean Nia) that "there's too much to clean up," I tell them. "That's fine. You don't have to clean up everything if you don't want to-- just everything you want to keep. If there's too much to clean up, you must have too much."

It usually works. But during the last few weeks the level of cleaning up after themselves has been in a sharp, steady decline and so last night I had had it. I said, "Okay, I am going to set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes. Whatever toys are not picked up by then I am going to get rid of."

They started strong-- but then seemed to get distracted by the first toy for some time... like 15 minutes. Then the timer went off. I quietly told the kids to go to their room and took out a trash bag. Nick and I picked up all the toys (a good 1/2 of a big black garbage bag) while there were squeals and shrieks of "Don't you do this to me!" and "This is too hard!" and "You are NOT going to do this-- did you hear me? You are NOT going to do this!" from the bedroom.

So-- all the toys are up in our closet in a bag to bring to the Durham Rescue Mission. Nia claims we took away her FAVORITE toys. But I don't think that's the case because she can only think of one thing that's missing-- and she saw us put that in the bag.

So, that's our new strategy. It really is serving 2 purposes-- cleaning up, and weaning them down with the toys before our move. I wish I thought of my mean mom plan earlier.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Stinkpants

Every family has their own terms they use for a variety of different things.

My new favorite one that we use often these days-- stinkpants. It's one word and is a noun. That's what we call it when Josiah has a dirty diaper. Here's an example of usage-- "Mom, Josiah has stinkpants!"

Another one we use regularly is ticklepits instead of armpits. It's pretty funny because Nia actually thinks that's the word. It's cute to hear her say it. I am going to keep that one going as long as I can, which shouldn't be that hard because not only am I homeschooling her, we are moving to a different country. Who's going to tell her there?

I know we have a bunch of other ones but I can't remember them right now. How about you? What are some of yours?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How I know I was meant to live in Haiti

This is Nick. I've been meaning to become a greater part of this blog, so I'm setting a goal for myself. I'm starting a series of post:

How I know I was meant to live in Haiti

It's amazing how many things (big and small) have come together to point towards Haiti. Now I get to share them with the world.

For your viewing pleasure: Lord of the Flies

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dead tired.

I like to consider myself a pretty hearty individual. I often remark about myself, "I am built for function, not style." And I am good with that. Honestly.

I about hit my limit this weekend. With the ole' husband in the motherland (well... Nico's motherland), I decided to trek up to PA to see my sister and her family. It was a great trip, albeit it NINE hours in the car each way with my three little, rambunctious kiddos.

We packed in a lot of activities and a lot of fun. We went to the Purple Door festival which my brother-in-law Chris produces. It was really, really cool-- I loved the venue and got both of my big kids shirts that say, "I love the pit." (Well, they are nightshirts at this point since they are both a little younger than the "target audience" they're shooting for...) They didn't actively participate in any pit activities, unless you count Josiah knocking his cousin Evie down over and over just because he could.

We went to Dutch Wonderland, which, in case you didn't know, is the kingdom for kids. Or as my kids like to call it, "Super family fun land." I took the kiddos on the Strausburg Railroad. Uncle Chris took the bigs to the HazMat station to show them the trucks.

It was so great. I love spending time with Mel.

I'd show you pics, but I lost my camera and didn't take a one. Melody called me on the way home and told me she found it. Oh well. It will live on in my memory. Not in any of my kids' memories though-- because they are too young and will forget... Dang-it! Why did I spend all that money again??? (Which DOES give me a great idea-- I could program all these "memories" in them of fantastic trips we took and events we participated in before they could remember... hmmmm.)

But it was a lot of work without Nick. I am thinking that this weekend is what God had in mind when he said, "It is not good for man to be alone." The Ipod helped. A lot.

And YAY! Next weekend we get to go even FARTHER-- up to New York! Woo Hoo! (I actually am looking forward to the destination, just not the trip...)

Goodnight. I am going to try to talk my kids into a 7PM bedtime...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ipod=Stadol

In case you don't know what Stadol is-- let me tell you...
It's like a little slice of heaven.

When I was in labor with Nia, while I was still under the delusion that I could push her out without an epidural (mad-props to all you natural birth mamas... you're stronger women than I), they asked if I wanted a narcotic pain-killer to "take the edge off."

It started working the moment they pumped it into my IV. And it was just like the nurse said, the contractions still hurt, but I just wouldn't mind so much. It was delightful. Until it wore off. And then I got an epidural. Which was an even larger slice of heaven. But I am digressing.

On long car rides (like I have tomorrow) my Ipod is my Stadol. Josiah isn't a good traveler. My last long(ish) car ride, he cried almost the entire way. So I plugged in those ear buds and let them take the edge off. I had downloaded a book onto it. It was called "The Dewbreaker" and it was about a Haitian torturer, a Tonton Macoute. It was pretty grisly at some parts, but it was better than kept my mind off the crying. I could still hear it, I just didn't mind it so much.

I have two 12-hour books all loaded up for the next 6 days. I am PRAYING I don't get through them both, since it's only about 8 hours each way...

Portrait Pics and Proud (sort of) Mommy Moment

First let me clarify that the portrait pics and proud mommy moment are not at all related. Couldn't be farther from the truth. Actually pictures today was one of my LEAST proud mommy moments as all three of my kids could not find it in them to sit like good little children while I was trying to select photos-- all three had major tantrums. Fun.

Here are a few of the pics (note, these are the UNTOUCHED ones... the ones we ended up with look a lot better)-- I will post the outtakes at another date... good stuff.






Proud mommy moment--
I have been working really hard with Nico on his speech lately. We do language activities for about an hour each weekday and I am starting to really see some improvement. He's starting to speak in complete sentences with correct word order. Yesterday I was so incredibly proud of him when he spontaneously used TWO whole sentences correctly AND pronounced EACH word of both sentences correctly.

I was proud enough that I didn't even correct him for what he said...
"Move it Josiah! Get out of my way!"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Nia's 24 hour food strike and The Lord of the Flies

Nia just ended a 24 hour food strike by eating the sandwich that she was given last night for dinner. I actually didn't make her finish it since she was actually starting to heave. But-- I think I got my point across.

Before you rail me and think I am an awful mother, let me let you know that I OFTEN let her just try a "no thank you bite" and be done with it. Last night however, Nick was tired of her complaining about everything she's served and decided she wasn't going to eat anything else until she ate the sandwich. So rail on Nick, not me. :)

All that being said, I think she'll be a good faster someday... nary a complaint.

In other news--
Yesterday Nick and I locked ourselves in our bedroom to have a five minute conversation without interruption, and the only way we can do that is to literally lock the door. So as we were talking we hear all sorts of screams and grunts and groans and some sort of devil voice coming out of Nia towards Nico. Then we heard Nico babble scream back at her in his Nico-ese and Josiah was chiming in with his Creole reprimands... We realized we had better wrap it up. I nearly peed my pants when Nick said:

"Well, I had better go take care Lord of the Flies down there..."

The jury is in...

... Nia does NOT need glasses.

She was weaker on her left side than her right side, but her combined vision was good so she is all good.

Oh well. :)

Just kidding. Actually, I am relieved-- mostly because we don't have vision coverage. :)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Random happenings at the Mangine abode

First-- Thanks to all of you who have checked out our new website.

Second-- Still totally digging homeschool. It rocks my world. It is so much fun and it's surprisingly satisfying. I was not sure I was going to like it. I LOVE IT. (Which works out well, since that is our only option in Haiti.)

We did a unit this past week on the moon, and for one of our projects, we made a mobile of what God created on the 4th day of creation (sun, moon, stars). Here's Nia displaying her creation.


Here's a closeup. (And in case you're wondering, Yes, I DID help her construct the mobile, but she did all the cutting, glittering, etc.)


Third-- I found some really cute shirts yesterday at the flea market. I am totally a dork matching my kids all the time, but after the incident at the mall, I think it makes it obvious Nico's my child. (Or as Nick remarked at life group last week, "Unless people think we just happened to find a kid who was dressed like our son and felt like God was sending us a message that he should be ours.")

Here's the cutie shirts and my adorable kiddos.
Love this one of Nia and Nico-- you can see Nico's itty bitty cleft in his chin...
Fourth-- I have mentioned that we "campout" in our kids' room every Friday. It's a really fun family thing that we all look forward to. The best part is the next morning, everyone comes into "bed" with Nick and I and we all just snuggle (which turns into roughhousing) and gets a little crazy, because Nick is, well, a dad. And so it's a time filled with loud ripples of laughter and squeals of glee.

Here's some shots of the morning fun.





(Sorry if you are our downstairs neighbor.)

Friday, August 8, 2008

I know I am a sick person but...

... I was secretly a little pleased to find out that Nia failed her vision test today at her 5 year well child appointment.

Before you shun me, hear me out. (Well, you will probably still wish to shun me after you hear...) I think little kids in glasses are pretty much the cutest thing I have ever, ever seen. Especially babies. Dang that's cute! I know. I am totally fruity. But come on, admit it-- it's CUTE.

Now, nothing is for sure yet, she has to have her vision checked by an actual eye doctor. It could all be a fluke. I'll let you know how it all pans out, but you know what I am pulling for. ;)

(I am mostly kidding by the way... mostly.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

www.haitianchildrenshome.org/mangine

Ladies and Gentlemen, literate children of all ages--

It is with great pleasure and excitement that I offer you:

OUR NEW FAMILY WEBSITE!

www.haitianchildrenshome.org/mangine

This is where you can hear all about our mission to Haiti-- how it all started, what it looks like now, how you can support this journey... it's all here.

We hope you'll take a look and we hope you'll sign up for our email updates... we can't do this alone!

I miss our ex-dog, Strom.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

LASIK

I am thinking about looking into LASIK before we leave for Haiti. Glasses are a pain when you're at the beach, --especially when I will be having to keep an eye on 23 kids-- and I can't wear contacts there because the dust really bothers my eyes. I don't know if I am a candidate for it, or if it will be ridiculously out of my budget, BUT...

Has anyone had this procedure? Who did you use? Are you happy with your result? How much did you pay? (I know-- totally personal question... I am just trying to figure out what people REALLY pay for this.)

Comment or email me at : nickandgwenn@gmail.com if you have any info or words of wisdom.

THANKS!

Been MIA-- and a thought to ponder

Have lots of things to share-- check back tomorrow...

but in the meantime I'll leave you with this thought--

I am pretty sure my dad is buffer than your dad...