Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What are yours?

I like new year's resolutions. I know we can choose any time to make changes, but a new year-- a fresh start--it just feels right.

So-- here are mine:

1. The diet. I did great the first week-- down 3.4lbs. This past week-- well, not so much. So-- it's go time. Weight Watchers-- here I come. I even have a group of ladies who got my back on this one...

2. My fingernails. I don't know if it's ever really possible, but I want SOOO badly to quit biting them. It's an AWFUL habit.

3. Stop backseat driving. I have ISSUES with backseat driving. This is probably going to sound dramatic, but ever since I was in an accident MANY years ago --like 10-- and ever since then I honestly think I have a touch of PTSD. I have major paranoia about other people driving me places. Well, not every other person, mostly just my husband. He's patient about it, but I get SO scared when he's driving. Plus I have paranoia that he's going to fall asleep at the wheel. (Again.) But I just need to let it go. And so I am. No more "slow down," "do you see him?" etc. etc. etc. (I think I can, I think I can... breathe.)

4. The budget. I need to stick to it. Another think I am just going to do.

Lately I feel like I've been being a crappy wife and mom and I just want to improve.

So-- time to suck it up and git r done.

What about you? Spill it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's go time-- hop on the train!

Hey Friends--

I thought I would give you an update on our journey to Haiti. We've had some really great support come in for our family during the holidays-- today we received $930 in checks and giftcards plus a TON of supplies for our new home and children! A few ladies from our church (who I had never met) had a benefit party with their friends to gather money and supplies for us. They came over to deliver it tonight. It was fun. It was like a baby shower for our new home and future, very large family! Yesterday I deposited a couple of hundred dollars that came in during the holidays from people my mother-in-law solicited for donations. And we also had some other really great news, but I need to wait to share that.

But here's the thing. It's kind of GO time for the Mangine family. I am just going to lay it out there-- we still need much more financial support if we are going to proceed with our current timeline of moving to Haiti in May.

We're hoping to secure a total of fifty new $50 monthly pledges (or the equivalent) now through the end of February. If we are not able to do this, or come very close, we will need to change our target date. We are okay with that if that is what God has planned, but our hearts long to be home in Haiti. And so we're asking you to consider being one of those pledges.

I know that $50 per month is not doable for everyone, but we want to ask you to consider what might be possible. It truly takes a village... We're thankful for all of the people who have come alongside of us in very tangible ways. We're incredibly grateful.

For more information about our family and the mission we're heading out for in Haiti, please click HERE!

If you're ready to see the details about our financials/to sign-up to support us, please click HERE!

Two quick details:
1. HCH is a US non-profit 501(c)3 organization.
1. Wednesday, Dec 31 is the last day to postmark donations, submit online donations, or hand-deliver donations to us to count it towards the 2008 tax year!

Thank you very much friends. I hope you have a safe and happy New Year's Eve!

With grateful hearts,
Gwenn and Nick Mangine

Monday, December 29, 2008

Our new-fangled black magic computer

Okay, we were in need of a new desktop since our other one was purchased the year after we got married and it was only $400 then. It never works, which makes it less than ideal for, well, anything.

So we got a new one tonight and it is crazy. It is one of those all-in-one jobbies so there is no tower. It is literally bigger than our TV, and it has a TV tuner in it, so we are replacing our TV with it. It works great. There's a wireless mouse, keyboard, and remote so we can sit on our couch and watch TV AND surf the internet at the same time. It has a DVR in it, so combined with the TV, we can record TV onto our computer-- like TiVo. So we're also taking out our DVD player, and since it has a decent hard drive (and we have an extra external hard drive as well- bringing us to almost a tetrabyte of space) we can load our whole music library/Itunes and scrap the "stereo system" (I use that word loosely) too...

I have never been impressed by technological things... but this is crazy-cool.

We got a great deal too-- check it out!


Hot Topic Not Open for Discussion

I wanted to address Neil's comment on the whole Melissa Etheridge/Rick Warren post. He said he thought I should discuss the topic as a hot topic.

I am not going to go there for two reasons.

1. While I suppose it *could* be argued that there are implications in the parenting arena, I am trying to keep the Hot Topic issues to parenting issues. And I feel like it's a much larger issue than just parenting.

2. While I am not in ANY way afraid to say where I stand on gay rights/gay marriage,etc., I have personally experienced the viewpoints of several "Christians" (going all the way back to middle school) that are completely filled with hate and bigotry, in no way accurately representing the life of Jesus Christ. (Which is not to say there hasn't also been hate spewed by the other side of the fence.) Because of my respect for the hearts of people on BOTH sides of this debate, I do not feel it prudent to go there.

So-- comments will be closed on this post. As much as I want to thoroughly address how I feel about this topic, I (for once) am going to respectfully abstain from this discussion on this public forum. Anyone who is interested is free to email me privately and I would love to share my thoughts.

Thank you for understanding.

scars-- the ache of being a parent

Any more, most days I don't even remember Josiah's heart surgery. It's not that I forget... it just doesn't cross my mind anymore. I can get him dressed twice a day (or more, since, let's face it-- he's a mess) and totally not even see his scars. But it was such a traumatic time in our lives, sometimes I look at him and it hits me all over again. That happened this morning.

Josiah was sitting at the table eating a banana (shirtless) and all of a sudden, his scars just broke my heart. He will always have them. Yes, they have faded and blend in with his skin. And they will become even less noticeable after time. But I will never look at him and he won't have them. And I wish it weren't that way. He doesn't know or remember what happened to him-- that he literally almost died. But I do.

And so it is with being a parent, isn't it? I remember once buying a card for a friend of mine for a baby shower. It said something like, "Motherhood is choosing to forever walk around with your heart outside your body." I love that saying. But lately I am beginning to realize it's more than that also-- it's choosing to walk around with *THEIR* hearts outside of my body. And I think that is what is more painful at times.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I'm getting a little obnoxious with all the photos

I really am. I just like taking pictures with my new camera. I have tried out some of the other settings, but not REALLY learned out how to use it yet. Soon soon.

This is the last barf of pictures. Real blogging will resume soon. I don't want this to turn into a blog that's just photos of my husband and kids-- because that's boring. Who (other than grandparents) wants to see all sorts of pictures of my husband and kids? I am sure you come here for my quick wit, my stellar parenting advice, and my complex take on the world.

So, here's a few of our "bike ride" at the church parking lot (or as Nia calls it, "My Crosspointe church.") Nico was pretty much the only one who stuck with the bike riding. (Though not the whole time.) Nia was off playing with her imaginary friends by the dumpsters at the side of the parking lot-- talking to herself and picking leaves off the branches and whatnot. And Josiah was splashing in all the puddles. They all were pretty interested in an ant hill for a while. I just kept their helmets on because it made them look ridiculous.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Nick!

Today, my husband, Nick Mangine, is 29 years old. Here's a few snaps of the day-- in random order because they uploaded all crazy-like.

Nico, rocking out in Nicks new goggles and hat.

Nia, displaying Nick's new lid.

Some tender (short-lived) time together this morning.

Nick easily blew out all 30 (one for good luck, of course, cause we're superstitious like that.) He asked for a cookie cake. Which, by the way, LOOKED done, but was totally raw. Sorry party attendees!

Nick blowing the whistle on all the hoopla.

When I cut his hair today I left his sideburns on just to be funny. He didn't seem amused.

Josiah LOVED wearing the helmet. But it made him very top-heavy. It was stinkin' adorable.

Nia turn to rock out Nick's stuff-- Mom, could she POSSIBLY look more like me in this pic? I think it's the dimple.

Nick is an amazing man with qualities that I so need and desire in my life. I love him to pieces. He loves me to pieces. It works out well. During these past 10 years he's been in my life, everything experience is more vivid. He's my partner in every way. I cannot imagine life without this man by my side.

And I have to say-- he's very easy on the eyes too!

Bon fet Nick. Mwen renmen ou. Anpil, anpil, anpil.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Here's what's funny about my kids.

After all the Christmas presents we bought them, their aunts and uncles bought them, their friends bought them, and their grandparents bought them.

All three of my childrens' favorite gift is the shoe box of bean bags Grandma made for probably less than $2.

Here's what's funny about me.

Today I went birthday shopping for Nick as his birthday is tomorrow. So I hit the mall. Some really good deals. For once I didn't buy anything for me. But it's not because I wasn't tempted.

One of the jewelry stories in the Cary Towne Center is going out of business tomorrow. So everything is at least 70% off. So, of course, I stroll right on in and start trying on big ole' diamond rings. As if I am going to buy one for myself. In my head I am reasoning, these are 80% off. So now is the perfect time to buy one of these. And then I decided I probably didn't need a new ring-- especially because most of them were still over $1000. But then I saw the Moissanite display. There was a HUGE solitaire-- 2 carats. It was very shiny. And that one was still over $800. So I settled for trying one on that was only $500-- cause, you know, maybe I would feel like springing for a $500 FAKE diamond ring. (But I will say, they are very convincing...)

That's me in a nutshell. I am moving to a third world country because I love working with the poor. And yet I am tempted to spend $500 on a fake diamond ring on a whim...

Oh how very desperately I need a Savior... Thank you God for Christmas.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The standard Christmas morning shots

Had a great Christmas morning. I woke up at about 7ish (after waking up at 3:50AM to drive a friend to the airport.) Nick and Nico and Josiah were already up and were chilling watching "A Christmas Story." Nia got up about a 1/2 hour later. She started watching the movie too... neither seemed to notice the full stockings or presents under the tree. Finally, about 8 I said, "Anyone want to do advent so we can open our presents?" (To which Nick corrected me by saying, "No. Does anyone want to do advent because it's why we celebrate Christmas and we love it?" Point taken.)

So we did. Nia put the baby Jesus in the manger this year. We sang some songs, read the Bible together, thanked God for Jesus. Sang Happy Birthday to Jesus... all the regular Christmas morning stuff in a Goodale girl house.

I then posed the kids in front of the tree with the presents. You'll notice a distinct absence of ornaments on the lower branches. There's a reason and his name is Josiah. He's ruined some. Eaten (or tried to eat) others. And just generally thrown about some more. So, when we find them strewn over the living room, we put them up high. It looks ridiculous.

The bigs opening a "family gift"-- a V Smile game system. On sale via dealnews for only $27.99 including a game. We got another game for $4.99. Woo hoo!
Nick unpacking his stocking. He had two themes in there-- hot chocolate (and accoutrement) and car cleaning out stuff, that came with the promise of me cleaning out and cleaning his nasty car. Sacrificial giving, folks.

Me posing with my cranberry lipgloss and soap... (I love the Body Shop.) That was one of my two themes in MY stocking. The other was "Shirley Temples" (as in the drink.)

Nia showing us her glow ball necklace which soon after broke.
Josiah tenderly playing with the baby Jesus and singing to him. Pretty cute.
Pretty soon it's off to Grandmothers we go.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's here.

Not Christmas. My camera.

I just took a few sample shots (everything automatic--- just for fun until I learn all the bells and whistles...)

This is going to be REALLY fun.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Melissa Etheridge and Rick Warren-- BFF's?

I have always been kind of so-so about Rick Warren and the whole "Purpose Driven" movement. But Nick showed me this article and I am pretty sure this is the kind of Christ-follower I want to be.

The Choice Is Ours Now

This is a message for my brothers and sisters who have fought so long and so hard for gay rights and liberty. We have spent a long time climbing up this mountain, looking at the impossible, changing a thousand year-old paradigm. We have asked for the right to love the human of our choice, and to be protected equally under the laws of this great country. The road at times has been so bloody, and so horrible, and so disheartening. From being blamed for 9/11 and Katrina, to hateful crimes committed against us, we are battle weary. We watched as our nation took a step in the right direction, against all odds and elected Barack Obama as our next leader. Then we were jerked back into the last century as we watched our rights taken away by prop 8 in California. Still sore and angry we felt another slap in the face as the man we helped get elected seemingly invited a gay-hater to address the world at his inauguration.

I hadn't heard of Pastor Rick Warren before all of this. When I heard the news, in its neat little sound bite form that we are so accustomed to, it painted the picture for me. This Pastor Rick must surely be one hate spouting, money grabbing, bad hair televangelist like all the others. He probably has his own gay little secret bathroom stall somewhere, you know. One more hater working up his congregation to hate the gays, comparing us to pedophiles and those who commit incest, blah blah blah. Same 'ole thing. Would I be boycotting the inauguration? Would we be marching again?

Well, I have to tell you my friends, the universe has a sense of humor and indeed works in mysterious ways. As I was winding down the promotion for my Christmas album I had one more stop last night. I'd agreed to play a song I'd written with my friend Salman Ahmed, a Sufi Muslim from Pakistan. The song is called "Ring The Bells," and it's a call for peace and unity in our world. We were going to perform our song for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a group of Muslim Americans that tries to raise awareness in this country, and the world, about the majority of good, loving, Muslims. I was honored, considering some in the Muslim religion consider singing to be against God, while other Muslim countries have harsh penalties, even death for homosexuals. I felt it was a very brave gesture for them to make. I received a call the day before to inform me of the keynote speaker that night... Pastor Rick Warren. I was stunned. My fight or flight instinct took over, should I cancel? Then a calm voice inside me said, "Are you really about peace or not?"

I told my manager to reach out to Pastor Warren and say "In the spirit of unity I would like to talk to him." They gave him my phone number. On the day of the conference I received a call from Pastor Rick, and before I could say anything, he told me what a fan he was. He had most of my albums from the very first one. What? This didn't sound like a gay hater, much less a preacher. He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection. He struggled with proposition 8 because he didn't want to see marriage redefined as anything other than between a man and a woman. He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays. He invited me to his church, I invited him to my home to meet my wife and kids. He told me of his wife's struggle with breast cancer just a year before mine.

When we met later that night, he entered the room with open arms and an open heart. We agreed to build bridges to the future.

Brothers and sisters the choice is ours now. We have the world's attention. We have the capability to create change, awesome change in this world, but before we change minds we must change hearts. Sure, there are plenty of hateful people who will always hold on to their bigotry like a child to a blanket. But there are also good people out there, Christian and otherwise that are beginning to listen. They don't hate us, they fear change. Maybe in our anger, as we consider marches and boycotts, perhaps we can consider stretching out our hands. Maybe instead of marching on his church, we can show up en mass and volunteer for one of the many organizations affiliated with his church that work for HIV/AIDS causes all around the world.

Maybe if they get to know us, they wont fear us.

I know, call me a dreamer, but I feel a new era is upon us.

I will be attending the inauguration with my family, and with hope in my heart. I know we are headed in the direction of marriage equality and equal protection for all families.

Happy Holidays my friends and a Happy New Year to you.

Peace on earth, goodwill toward all men and women... and everyone in-between.

Hot Topic Tuesday-- Spanking

Alright, let's go.

Let me start off by saying, this is one of those parenting issues with multiple "right" answers.

So I will just throw it out there-- we spank. Not all the time, not with all the kids, not for every offense, but we do spank and we have found it to be a very useful tool in disciplining our children.

In terms of the mechanics of what spanking looks like in our home:
We do not just haul off and hit our kids. They always know they are going to be spanked ahead of time. We don't spank when we are angry. It is always either a pop on the hand, or a spanking on their bottom. We used to use a neutral object-- we bought a "chastisement tool" to administer spankings (or as we called them "reminders"), but after some more consideration, we've gone back to using our hand so we can always be sure that we're not spanking too hard. (As we can tell the velocity of our hands, but not always something in our hands.) We often have a discussion with the kids after the fact about why they had to be spanked, etc.

I do not believe that this is abuse. And I am pretty sure you'd be hard-pressed to convince me it is.

NOW, I do have a couple MORE thoughts --
Just because we spank does not mean that we think every parent should or needs to spank.

For example, I met a girl several years ago who was abused earlier in life who chose not spank her kids because it's too close in her mind to what happened to her. I totally respect that choice and agree that would probably be hard to maneuver. So it probably IS best for them not to spank.

Another example of someone who should not spank is someone who is prone to fits of anger or rage that cannot control themselves physically. If you know you have uncontrollable anger problems, you probably should not spank. Also, someone who has abused children in the past should probably not spank. I am sure there are other cases where it is not a good idea.

Now, I have heard the argument that spanking should not be used because if things escalate, is could lead to abuse. I understand the thought behind that, but I think that any other form of punishment could become abuse if it escalates. If you regularly use "stern reprimands" and it escalates, you could end up verbally assaulting a child. If you use timeouts and don't use discernment, your child could end up sitting in isolation for hours-- which could lead to abandonment issues. I know these things sound ridiculous, but I also think it's ridiculous to say that we'd be not able to control ourselves with one form of punishment but not others.

So, one question I have heard about this topic, "If there is so much uncertainty over spanking, (as some would consider it abuse) why wouldn't you just choose another form of discipline and not have to worry about it?"

To that I would answer that I do choose other forms of discipline-- every day. My kids get time outs, they get privileges taken away. The older children occasionally get a tiny tab of hotsauce on their tongue for offenses of the tongue such as lying, talking back, bad language, etc. (Which is essentially the same concept as washing their mouth out with soap like our parents did, but it uses a food product, so you can be sure it's safe.) But they also get spankings. Why? Because sometimes that is the best form of discipline.

For example, Nia went through a faze where that was literally the only discipline that affected her. She didn't care about time outs. She was too young to understand the hot sauce scenario. She didn't care about getting privilges or items removed. But she was being willfully defiant. The only thing that would deter her is spanking. It was a short-lived phase (maybe 6 months or so) but since then she's rarely needed a spanking, and other things work just as good, or better.

We did not spank Nico when he first came home. In fact, it was almost a year before we did. I thought we would never spank him because we weren't sure of his history and weren't sure how it would affect him. But then we entered a stage (like we did with Nia) where he didn't really care about anything else. And spanking seemed necessary. And it has worked. He doesn't like being spanked (cause that's sort of the point), but he's not having any kind of issues past the actual event.

Josiah, on the other hand, is another story. He's still little-- 18 months, so we haven't done the whole bottom spanking thing. We've tried giving him just a few pops on the hand, but he doesn't seem to care. He's even laughed at us. And we've recently ceased doing that because he is a hitter and so I don't think it's an effective punishment because we're really trying to work on him with that. Different things work with different children. We're still trying to figure out what works with him. :)

So-- since I know someone is going to bring it up, what about the whole "Christian thing" with spanking. Doesn't the Bible say we should use the "rod of discipline?" Yes, but honestly, I don't know too much about what that REALLY means. The Hebrew word there-- shebet-- is translated as rod, but is used to describe many different forms of rods. I am not a Hebrew scholar, so here's something about it I read on one particular website:

"He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him" (Proverbs 13:24). The word "rod" is used in various ways in scripture, and in the original Hebrew there were eight to ten different meanings for the word. The pole that shepherds used to guide their sheep along the road was called a rod. It was not used to hit the sheep, but to guide them as they walked and keep them on the road. This would correspond to the framework we talked about earlier. It is simply a guide. The shepherd also had a large club called a rod which he used to drive away predators, but it never was used to hit the sheep. God also spoke of the "rod of my mouth" which he used for discipline also. In short, the rod was any article or method used to guide, teach, or discipline.

I guess all I am saying is that I do not think the Bible specifically says you need to use physical punishment, but I also do not think it is saying you should not. I do not claim to understand it fully. (Side note: I was talking about this topic with my mother last night and she mentioned a book she had read as a young Christian mother, "God, The Rod, And Your Child's Bod." Which I have to say, is a really icky name for a book.)

Finally, I wanted to bring up the American Academy of Pediatrics, since that was so crucial in the vaccine debate. First of all, I looked to see what I could find and I find it extremely cumbersome to navigate the site-- but they did have some study results, etc. One of their studies indicated that white children spanked before the age of 2 showed higher incidence of behavior problems when entering school. But here's the funny thing to me-- it was not higher in black or hispanic kids. I don't get it. Whatever. Anyway, there are articles, etc that discuss exploring options other than corporal punishment (which I think we'd all agree is good) and there was also something that said that about 50% of pediatricians agree with corporal punishment.)

So bottom line, I think spanking can be effective but I understand spanking isn't for everyone. I do not think spanking is abuse. I am not sure we can get a 100% for sure answer from the Bible as to whether we should/should not/have to, etc. I would *hope* we can at least all agree that it is important that children are disciplined regularly and trained to do the right thing

Alright, this has been incredibly long winded and I have to go wrap Christmas presents.

Monday, December 22, 2008

PSA-- Hot Topic Tueday will be delayed.

I will be posting it tomorrow (hopefully), but today has been a doozy...

Screaming kids, screaming mom, screaming dad... it wasn't pretty.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Total TMI but...

Today I came as close as I ever have come (in my adult life) to wetting my pants in public.

I did not, but it was close.

By the way, you may be asking me, what kept you from seeking out a bathroom sooner? I was in line at Goodwill (which has not bathroom) and I really, really, really didn't want to lose the stuff I'd picked out.

I have serious problems.

And the winner is..........

Tammie Hennelly-- "Dominic the Donkey"

Tammie, email me your address (I am sure I have it, but then I'd have to figure out where.)
It will go out in the mail tomorrow!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Brain Dump-- with photos!

A bunch of things have been swirling around in my brain, and rather than doing several separate posts about them all, here they are all at once:

  • I won a major award. Well, a raffle. But it's one I really wanted to win. A lot. I thought about it constantly and then I got a call that I had won. I honestly couldn't believe it. This stained glass panel was the item being raffled. It reminded me so much of my late grandmother. She did a lot of stained glass fairies. I am sp happy that this is something I can bring to Haiti that will remind me of her.

  • Nia had a sleepover last night. Her best bud, Presley, came. It was so much fun. Today we played "Beauty Shop." I was the hair and nail lady and my name was Esmerelda. Nick played the part of "Nicolae." His job was to serenade the customers and look pretty. Here are their freshly-manicured hands. Does anything about this photo strike you as odd?

  • I like to title this photo-- "When dress-up goes wrong." Josiah was wearing one of Nia's princess hats with an elastic chinstrap and he snapped it (HARD!) against his neck/face. He got this big welt and screamed and screamed and screamed. (This happened to Nia when she was one too.)

  • This next one is titled, "When Freshetta goes wrong." Yeah, I didn't really read the instructions but looked quickly at them. I *THOUGHT* what it was saying was to put it directly on the rack. Apparently not. There were three things about this incident that really burned my biscuits. 1. These pizzas cost like 6 bucks. I might as well have just flushed 6 bucks down the ole' crapper. 2. I had to clean the oven. Which meant I had to buy oven cleaner, which cost a few bucks. *flush* 3. (And probably worst.) I had to come up with another meal. The only reason we (they, not me) were having frozen pizza is because I had to go out and was in a hurry. Grrrr...

  • Today Josiah and I got in a fight. I made a little "yard" on our Little People nativity scene. Then Josiah wanted to put EVERY figure in there. (We have all the expanded sets, cause you know, we're good Christians :) -- so there's quite a few.) But then Josiah kept wanting to put Mrs. Claus (I have NO idea where she came from) and Maggie from the Doll House set. And I kept taking them out, and he kept putting them back in. Over and over we did that. And I found myself getting really frustrated. (I know, I have issues.) And I finally said, "Josiah, Mrs. Claus and Maggie DON'T belong in the nativity scene!" And as I was saying that, it hit me that I was wrong. The nativity scene is really about all of us, isn't it?

  • I am officially in the Christmas mood. We got a flier saying that our apartment complex was running door decorating contest. The prize is $100 off next month rent. So I took that as liberty to spend $100 to try to win. JUST KIDDING. I spent about $15, the rest I already had. But putting up Christmas lights made me feel all Christmassy... I am going to be really put out if we don't win. Especially because Nick had to take off our doorknob, 2 locks, and the door-knocker to wrap the door. In case you can't see the TO/FROM tags:
    TO: Our Neighbors. FROM: Those noisey people with all those kids.

ETA: TONIGHT is the last night to vote on the worst Christmas song contest and be entered into the drawing for the $10 giftcard.

Oh, and also "Hot Topic Tuesday" will be this Tuesday-- the topic is................
SPANKING. Yes, I am going there.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Woot. Woot.Oh. My. Gosh.

Look what I (we, Nick is next to me) just bought on woot sellout for $239.00. We got the last one.

It does not have a lens, but I am nearly certain the lens I have from my old SLR camera from my college photography class will fit. (And I have a bid on a zoom lens on ebay.)

Woot. woot.

Check out this from the website. Check out the wooter to blame for sellout.

Also, I just bought this lens which is nothing super special, but is auto focus-- the one on my camera from college is manual. I hope I win the zoom lens (probably not, since I only bid like 30 bucks...) So I got the whole shebang (including shipping on everything) for......

drum roll........


I am going to stop spending money now.

It's ridiculously late.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hot Topic Thursday--- Transracial Adoption

Did I throw you for a loop since it's not Thursday?

Recently a friend told me that she missed Hot Topic Tuesday. And I am sitting here in a waiting room just waiting and have some free time, so I thought I would take a stab at one.

Here's the question-- what are your thoughts on transracial adoption? (Adoption of a child of a different race-- international OR domestic.)

Okay, so here's my 2 cents and I think I might actually surprise some people. Recently a blog we read delved into this issue and explained things very well. I encourage you to take a look at it.

This is what I posted as a response to her post:
I love adoption. I love my son, but we too have been thinking about the "other" side... and how do we reconcile all that?

What we've sort of landed on recently is that adoption is a good thing-- it's a totally Biblical concept. However, as believers, we need to look at the entirety of the gospel. Our adoption as children of God wasn't the original or best plan/intention God had for our lives. But we didn't live according to his plan, so our adoption was necessary.

There are times when adoption is necessary-- but we're talking about Haiti here-- where 15% of children are orphaned or abandoned and 7% of children are enslaved. Is it REALLY necessary for 22% of children to not grow up with their birthparents, or are there things we can do to help build families in Haiti? Are we exhausting those options before a child is placed, or are we more concerned with our own families and how much we want "our" children home with us?

Yes, Haiti is different than the US in many ways. But it's still the planet earth-- less than 700 miles from the US, in fact. Moms still love and care for their babies and grieve when the "best case scenario" for their child does not include them parenting the child. And we say things like, "She made the most selfless decision anyone could make." And I don't dispute that. But does that in ANY way resonate with us? We say we feel compassion for her, but do we really?

I remember a few months ago when our pastor was talking about the word compassion. Whenever the Bible talks about Jesus having compassion on someone, it ALWAYS moved him to action. Compassion isn't something where we're like, "Man, that's awful. I feel so bad for her." What does true compassion mean in this scenario?

I honestly don't know what it means. I have some ideas of what it means for me, and my family, but I don't REALLY know what it means...

I don't have the answers. I don't know.

But it is hard (at times) to be a part of the "adoption community" and also question so much about it. I never want to invalidate my son with my questions. I love him to pieces and simply cannot imagine my life and our family without him in it. But it's also really hard to say that it was God's will for him to be part of our family, because what does that imply about his first mom??? Was adoption the only option in her case? Or could she, with support, have parented Nico like she did her older child? I feel like I am living the "best case scenario" because I love him and want him and need him in my family. But what about his birthmom? Is she living the best case scenario? I would love to think that Nico is living in a great scenario for him-- but IS he living in the best case scenario for him? Other than the funds available to me as an American, what makes me better suited to be Nico's mom?

Aargh. The questions never end.

Further commentary from some of my thoughts tonight:

I will never regret that Nico is part of our family. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever. I love him SO much it's ridiculous. I only pray that his birthmom doesn't have regrets.

Also, (and this might sound harsh-- b/c I know I have a lot of adoptive parents as readers), but I think we have a responsibility as transracial families to build our children's culture into our families the same way we build our native culture into our children. In my case, my children all need to know Haitian history and culture AND American history and culture. They all need to understand the positives and negatives of both places. They need to know what it means that Nico is Haitian just like they understand that it means that Josiah and Nia are American. (Nico will eventually be Haitian American, but I am sure you get my drift.) The whole "love is colorblind" thing does not do our children a service. We need to embrace these differences. We need to celebrate them, not pretend they don't exist.

I read a great book during our adoption journey-- "In Their Own Voices." It was interviews of black adults who were adopted by white parents as children. It shared how they felt about it then and how they feel about it now. It was very insightful. Two observations I made-- 1. It seemed that men had an easier time than women later in life, and 2. Most people who resented their parents/adoption, etc. resented the fact that their heritage as an African-American wasn't explored in their families.

There are contingents of people---National Association of Black Social Workers comes quickly to mind-- (see that is very against transracial/international adoption. "Vehemently opposed to" it is the words they use. They feel that white parents (even when they have good intentions) are not equipped to raise children of color-- it just causes too much trauma for the child.

Unicef is also a player in international adoption. Now, essentially, what they are trying to do is good-- making sure adoptions are all legit and there's not child-trafficing. But the problem is implementation. Unicef's lobbying with governments/agencies makes international adoption harder, more complicated and more expensive. Now, if that helped, I would be all for it. The problem I see is that it is relatively easy to traffic a child from many third world countries-- I know this for a fact in Haiti. ( The problem, as I see it, is that people can buy fake credentials for a child they purchased (IN TEN HOURS!) and forego the heartwrenching wait, save some money, and not have to deal with all the drama. I personally think that the harder and longer the legitimate process is, the more people will turn to these illegal options.

So, how about you? I know race can be a tricky subject. So if you have an "unpopular" opinion, go ahead and post as anonymous. Unless things get truly ugly, I won't delete comments. So, everyone, let's all use manners.

The Mangine children will be segregated

This evening when I was giving the kids a bath, it became apparent to both of them that not only did they have different parts, they started talking about them and making jokes and whatnot...
I told them that was private and to stop talking about it. Nia's 5 and Nico's 4, so yeah, I guess it's time.

Later on I told Nick, "Yeah, I am thinking it's time to segregate the kids baths."

And Nick looked at me incredulously for a minute and then said, "Oh! You mean by gender!"

It's funny, because my kids are just my kids and sometimes I forget Nico is black... I need to probably be a little more careful with my word choice.

Consider yourself invited!

Starting a diet

I started Weight Watchers Online this morning. Again. They have a new plan-- Momentum. I actually like the concept of momentum, and I am ready to get it going in the correct direction...

For all the people who got so riled up by the previous "diet post" (you all should go back and read the comments if you have not-- I apparently touched a nerve.) I DO consider this a diet. Which is not to say that I am not trying to chance certain aspects of my lifestyle. But I am following a prescribed food plan in order to lose weight. There have been times in my life when I have not had to "diet." When I was at a weight I was healthy with. But truthfully, there are some times when you just have to suck it up-- eat less, move more, get some weight off.

From time to time I am going to delve into my journey with weight here on the ole' blog. And what a journey it is. :) I think the majority of women have struggles with food/weight/body image. The great majority. I think it's actually the number one thing women struggle with. I know very few women who do not struggle with some aspect of this issue. But I can think of a few, so I don't want to speak for everyone. I have actually started writing a book about it. I only have just a few pages so far. But it's about what it's like to be in bondage to food. It's really honest, so I am not ready to share it yet.

We, as women, (and some men) give food/weight all this power over us. It determines our mood. It's something that's forbidden at times and something that's a reward at others.

I KNOW that there is a better way. This is not the way life is meant to be lived.

So-- just getting this discussion started.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas music blog contest-- $10 Target giftcard prize!

Hello loyal bloggies-- (if 'bloggies' isn't an actual term, it should be.)

So, it's time for a blog contest! This one has a Christmas theme.

$10 Target giftcard (which I got free because they messed up my prescriptions TWICE in one month. Once it was the wrong 75mg pills instead of 150mg the other time it was only 1/2 as many pills as was prescribed. So let this also be a warning to you... Target at Beaver Creek hires the B-team pharmacists. They did make make good and fix their mistakes, plus refunded my co-pays. And the giftcard too... but back to what we're talking about... I have a digression problem.)

So, here's the contest.

Leave a comment with the WORST Christmas song of all time.
I know there's a lot of really bad ones, so everyone can enter up to three times, but no more.

This is a total luck scenario-- I will draw a random number on Sunday morning, December 21. Giftcard will be mailed out in Monday's mail. (As long as I can get your address by then.) Unless you're local, then I will just bring it to you.

Good luck!

Nia's suggestion

Yesterday we were driving in the car and I asked Nia what she wanted to be when she grew up. (This is something I regularly ask her because she's always changing her mind.) She thought about it for a minute and then said, "You know what? I think I am going to be a mom, like you!"

And I said, " That's a good idea. It's a really fun job. It's hard sometimes, but it's a good job."

And she thought for another minute and then said, "You know mom, it would probably be a lot easier job if you didn't have any kids."

Ya think?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Those rascally boys.

This is what they were doing today today while I was working on school with Nia.
Here's a tip for parents thinking they might want to homeschool-- any time you have boys and they are silent, you need to go check on it.

I am hoping this is just curiosity and not a sign of things to come.

This is what happened when I told him to take if off.

Christmas past

Last night I (finally!) sat down to write the script for the kids skit for the Christmas Eve service. It's one of the things I am going to miss the most when we move-- Christmas Eve at Crosspointe. Our church does a great Christmas Eve service every year. And this will be the 4th year that Nick and I are a part of it.

Here was the one from last year.

So if you're local-- there are 5 identical Christmas Eve services at Crosspointe.
Here's the dates/times:
Mon, Dec 22-- 7pmn (Yes, we know it's not actually Christmas Eve that day...)
Wed, Dec 25-- 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 7pm

You should totally come to one.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Okay, so you know what I hate?

I hate it when people who are on a diet say, "I am not on a diet, I am making a lifestyle change." That's stupid. You're on a diet.

Weight Watchers has all these commercials-- "Diets don't work. Weight Watchers does." I think if you polled 100 people about what Weight Watchers is, AT LEAST 90% of them would use the word diet in there somewhere.

Let's not make things harder than they need to be people... all these politically correct terms we use. I am all for showing sensitivity towards others. (I have been called empathetic to a fault.) But all this lingo. Just stop. Just say what you mean. Tell it like it is. You're not fooling anyone.

I totally lied about facebook

My actual profile name is:
Gwenn Goodale Mangine

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Express

We attended the Holiday Express event at Pullen Park last night. It was the last night of the event so it was pretty crowded. And we have a communication FAIL with Nick's parents and totally missed them... I am sad that happened. But that was pretty much the only thing about the event I am sad about because we had a fantastic time. It was only $5 per person and very, very worth it... unlimited rides on the train, the carousel and the boats.

Here's just a few pics of the festivities--- more will be added to my facebook later. Add me as a friend if you already haven't! (Gwendolen Goodale Mangine is my profile name.)

Josiah, the Christmas elf? No, I assure you that is Josiah's actual ear.

Josiah, failing Santa.

The youngest 3 of the Mangine 5.

Nico, being a model. When I asked him to smile for the camera, this is the look he gave me. He's all about the posing.

Nick, pushing the greatest stroller ever invented, the Joovy Sit and Stand. What other double stroller can fit three kids with no problem?

I give this event 2 enthusiastic thumbs up!

Why I love women over 30

I have been chewing on these thoughts for a while now, but have just kind of put it all together in my mind.

It is my opinion that women don't truly become beautiful until after they are 30. I mean that, and not just because I am 31. There's just something really beautiful about a woman who knows who she is, and I think it takes time to learn...

I think there's a certain confidence that comes when a woman can embrace the things about herself that make her unique. Her style, her look, her general likes/dislikes, her personality... It all ripens and blooms with age.

It was not until after I was 30 that I truly believed my husband when he'd tell me that I am beautiful. At different times in my life I would have believed "cute" or "spunky" about myself-- but never beautiful. It didn't matter if I was fat or thin-- I just couldn't believe it. But that has changed since entering my thirties... I've realized that beauty really has very little to do with appearance.

While younger women and girls in their teens and twenties can definitely be attractive, gorgeous even, with their non-wrinkled skin-- their tight stomachs, thighs and rear ends. But I would assert that as a woman ages-- as her appearance changes with time, gravity, and childbearing-- she truly starts to become beautiful. Maybe it's because she stops caring so much what other people think. Maybe it's because she embraces a style that's her own, and that of everyone/someone else. Maybe it's just a reflection of the beautiful things she's accomplishing-- as a woman, a wife, a mother, an employee... I don't know what it is, but when I think of beautiful women, I always think of women over 30...

Here's some on my list of my very best beautiful friends:
  • My friend Deena Gilliam. She always jokes that she was born to be rich, and there must have been a mix-up somewhere. Deena's style is great. She's incredibly thrifty, but yet incredibly put-together, as if she were rich. She's hilarious and so much fun to be around. She's generous and sarcastic and incredibly supportive. And her house is always clean-- HOW DOES SHE DO THAT? She's beautiful.
  • My friend Kris S. She's pretty much the best mom ever. She's always accessorized just right. She's funky and cool. She's got a great haircut (and has for a long time.) She drips wisdom as she walks and is so incredibly creative I can't even describe it. She's teaching me to be a hearty person-- meaning she's seemingly tireless with the way she (and her family) serve. She's taught me the value of doing things with excellence. I have learned and am still learning so much from her. She's beautiful.
  • My friend Cathy. Cathy is quiet and some might even say shy. Buy she's not really, she's just learned how to keep an appropriate rein on her tongue. Cathy usually isn't willing to rock the boat by blaring her opinion for everyone to hear-- I need to be more like her!!! She's gentle, and an incredibly good listener. She's very talented. She loves her husband in a way that is inspirational. And most people don't know this about her, but she's got a wild side to her. :) She is beautiful.
  • My friend Kris L. (Yes, I have two really good friends named Kris.) Kris L. is the kind of person I want to be. I love the way she and her husband (and their kids too!) partner together to serve others. She's a "real" person. She stands up for herself and her family and is confident, yet she's not obnoxious about it. The more I grow to know her, the more I grow to love her. She's another one of those "hearty" people who's always working and serving others until it's done. She lives out her faith practically and joyfully. She is beautiful.
I have tons of others I can think of... so if you're a friend of mine who is over 30 and a woman and not listed-- please don't be offended that you're not here. I am sure you are on my beauty list. Maybe I will share some more of them from time to time.

Anyway-- just a theory I have.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tantrum over.

I got out for a few hours without my kids and I feel a bit better...

Maybe it's just their effect on me. ???

I am thinking Haitian school for my kids is looking better and better...

Total emotional barf.

I have been feeling a little bluesy ever since getting back from Haiti. I am trying to get into the Christmas mood, but it just isn't working. We're having advent devotions every night, but I spend most of the time getting frustrated at my kids for being so dang wiggly and loud. I want to do Christmassy stuff but I can't think of what that is. We put up our "tree" but it's fake, so it looks (in my opinion) really bad. (This is my first fake tree ever-- we bought it last year on a 75% off sale after Christmas, because we won't have a real one in Haiti. And so we could hardly justify buying a real one when we already had a fake one.) I am also missing having a house for the first time. I am especially missing this. Decorating an apartment isn't the same. Nick put up our outside lights here INside the apartment-- which was nice. But not the same. It just sort of makes it feel like a college dorm room.

Another not-so-great thing about apartment-dwelling is that I don't have a yard anymore to send the kids out to play in, so I am getting cabin-fever because it's just too much dang work to get the kids loaded up with jackets and diaper bags and whatnot. Besides, Josiah is so ill-behaved, it just makes me embarrassed to bring him anywhere, and I don't enjoy myself anyway. I could just take them outside to ride bikes near the lake, but I literally cannot do it by myself because, again, Josiah is pretty ill-behaved. So he just screams if he's in a stroller, but I am literally chasing him everywhere if he is not. And Nia and Nico are marginal on their bikes (at best) and generally need assistance, as we live on a hilly part of the trail.

I haven't been to the gym since being back and am eating refined carbohydrates like it's my job, so it's no wonder why I feel like junk. But I am just too lazy to go-- and tired (what with all the carbs and all...) It's a terrible cycle. I need to break it.

I am feeling bored of homeschooling Nia. She's tired of it too. And so reading alone takes us like an hour each day. I could take a break, but we've missed so many days "here and there" with traveling, etc. that I don't feel like I should.

Christmas baking is not all that fun because I have one son allergic to eggs, and another allergic to dairy. Which is limiting-- and then there's that whole previously-mentioned willpower problem with refined carbohydrates.

Christmas shopping (and birthday shopping for my husband whose birthday is 2 days after Christmas) isn't any fun anymore because everyone wants specific things. You WANT to buy something good-- but you can't anymore. Because there are so many options. So even though you WANT to buy nice things, you don't REALLY know what they are. And so you could guess, but then it would be wrong. And why spend a jillion dollars on something that is wrong? Then everyone is disappointed. You are disappointed because you spent tons o' money on something that was wrong, and they are disappointed because if you'd only given cash or a giftcard, they could have picked out what they really wanted. But THEN the problem is that I don't work. So if I give my husband (HYPOTHETICALLY, OF COURSE!) cash, then that's the stupidest thing ever. Because it's all money he earned. So what am I supposed to do, get cash out of the ATM (that he earned) and wrap it up and give it to him? Or what, just mention in a card the amount he's "allowed" to spend??? That's so stupid. How arbitrary. He doesn't need my permission to spend money he made. So there's no element of surprise. Which stinks if you ask me.

Alright, I am done with my barfing. Wait, almost. Here's one more thing-- Josiah seems to have come home with a bit o' the Haitian Happiness... if you don't know what that is, consider yourself lucky. So I am back to disposable diapers until this loveliness has passed...

Okay, really done for now.

Josiah's Creole Proficiency

It is cracking us up to hear Josiah break out in Creole every so often...

He pretty much uses the word, "Ale!" (Go away!) exclusively (meaning never in English) whenever he doesn't want someone or something near him. (Which is often.) He also uses, "Chita!" (sit down) and "Pa touche!" (don't touch) often.

Monday night, Nico kept poking him when we were in the car, and it was irritating Josiah. So Josiah screamed at Nico, "Nico! Pa Bon!" (Nico, bad!)

Then the other day he was searching for Nico and walking around yelling, "Nico! M'pa gade ou!" (Nico, I don't see you!)

I am pretty sure he's going to have the easiest Creole transition of all of us... even easier than Nico I think.

One more of the "darndest" things say...

This morning, Nia and I were snuggling on the floor shortly after she woke up. Nico came over and sort of wedged himself between the two of us.

And so Nia said, "Nico, you have to move, your skin is against my face and your skin is dark!"

And I said, "Whoa! Wait a minute Nia, what does his skin being dark have to do with ANYTHING?!" (I was peeved at her racial slur.)

And then she said, "Yeah, but the problem is, I am afraid of the dark."

Sure, whatever, but props for the quick thinking...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Easy to get swept up in it...

Today I did the bills. Which is never fun. But it could have been really bad this month since we were out of the country for three weeks last month and my husband is paid hourly. Thankfully, we looked ahead and had saved and have been trying to be prudent with our spending. In fact, there was only ONE, yes ONE, somewhat impulsive purchase on the credit card to pay off-- and that was on our Mexico vacation-- a new shirt for Nick. (We pay our credit card bill in its entirety every month.) But after the bills this morning I was looking at what was left for Christmas gifts. We'd chosen a very specific gift for each of our parents this year-- and so I was looking around online trying to get deals. Which I did.

The problem is that while I was looking around, I found all of these other things I wanted. And was pretty sure I needed. And from listening to Clark Howard on the radio yesterday, I knew that now is a good time to be buying online... he even told me where to find great deals. ( but act quick or they will be sold out by the time you decide to order something the next day! grrr...)

So I found some great deals. On many things... and don't you know-- I NEEDED these things???!!! I just didn't know it until I saw these great deals. SLR digital cameras-- several I'd been looking at, a piano keyboard to teach my kids piano, a new computer for Nick. Now, hear this. I DID NOT PURCHASE ANY OF THEM. But I wanted to, and I was close to it a few times on a few things.

And all of a sudden I realized that I was getting caught up in all the drama of the "give me's" once again. It's SUCH a trap. And it's so dang easy to fall into.

I sit here and think, "I just want to have a nice Christmas for my kids, or my family, or my parents, or ME!..." And I have missed the point I am trying to drill into my kids heads over and over-- it's not about the stuff. When I asked Nia what she would like if she could have anything in the world for a Christmas present she told me new markers and a pad of paper. Nico wants a Spiderman action figure. That's it. Apparently they are getting it a little better than I am.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The data is processed.

As you probably saw, (unless you only read my blog in a reader) these were the results of the Hershey's Miniature "Favorites" Poll.

Hershey Bar
7 (12%)
Mr. Goodbar
18 (31%)
13 (22%)
Special Dark
21 (36%)

I was actually QUITE surprised to see that one had scored so high-- Hershey Bar. I was POSITIVE that no one really liked those. That everyone just tolerated their existence until there were none of the other choices left and then when you got real desperate you ate those.

I was very, very surprised. BUT, they were (BY FAR) the lowest score. Which does support my theory that not many people really like them that much.

Nick thinks I should do another poll with the question, what is your LEAST favorite Hershey's Miniature. He thinks that would be more "scientific" and "tell us more." (His words, not mine.) But I really don't think it's that important. He's kind of dorky like that. But it's that kind of dorkiness I totally dig on.


Yesterday my pastor Jonathan gave a really good message. It was all about the reality that every giant thing starts small. We can't always do big things-- and even when we do, we usually need to do them one little thing at a time.

It was encouraging to me. But here's something that I realized yesterday that's related in a round about way...

We are absolutely HAUNTED by this Haiti thing. I don't mean haunted in a bad way-- I think the word haunted gets a bad rap sometimes. We always think of haunted as an evil thing-- like haunted by a ghost. It was a defining moment a few months ago in my spiritual like when I started thinking of the Holy Spirit as the Holy Ghost... very old-school church lingo. But it made sense to me. I could finally wrap my mind around what the Holy Spirit sort of is-- a ghost. But not an evil ghost... A HOLY ghost that makes his home in my body. It seemed more concrete to me, and it was one of those Aha! moments for me. But I am digressing.

You have NO idea what our minds are like lately. We are constantly thinking through the filter of Haiti. Everything I see, hear, taste, smell, touch, think, do, buy-- in ANY way experience-- is always filtered through Haiti. It's actually starting to irritate me. It's like I have lost my mind to anything else. It's all I think about and relate to. It's like I am haunted by it. It's hard to try to UN-engage my mind about Haiti. I want to be here and present, but I cannot shake this place and this adventure we're being called on. I want to read more. I want to know more and more. I want to speak the language more and more and more. There are times I try to unplug and purpose NOT to talk about it or think about it-- like at my sister Jenny's bridal shower over the weekend-- and yet, it came up about 150 times and I found myself telling some version of our story over and over again. At one point I just had to say, "I love talking about this, but let's focus on Jenny, since that's what we're here to do."

So, anyway, back to the message from yesterday-- I, of course, thought about Haiti. As we are working hard to gather a team to join us fund this journey, discouragement is sometime present. Sometimes it seems like such a daunting task to raise the kind of money we need to raise to make this vision-- this haunting-- a reality. But yesterday I was reminded about just chilling out a bit and focusing on one thing at a time. Big things happen when lots of small things combine.

This support journey has largely been a pretty grassroots thing so far-- pretty slow and steady. But yesterday I was again reminded that one at a time, smaller changes make bigger changes happen. I have no idea if we will make it to Haiti by May (our target date.) Maybe we will. Right now, I don't see how it's possible. I think it will take at least several more months of fund-raising. But I am honestly not too worried. The change this place has made in our hearts is unmistakable. It's huge. It's not decreasing-- it's only increasing. It's clearly not something that's going away. This is what we were created to do, and as we walk in it, we "find" what God is doing in us more and more each day. And really, isn't that the point?


PS- Not to totally creep you out, but I just noticed this is post #666 of my blog. Haunted?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Grounded from Jesus

Today my older two kids were arguing and fighting (big surprise) over the Little People Manger Scene when these words came out of my mouth,

"That's it. Put it down. You are both grounded from Baby Jesus for one day!"

You know it's bad when I am grounding them from Jesus.

Further Proof

So in case you needed further proof that Josiah is "strong willed"...

The other day he was mad and started hitting me (which in and of itself is bad enough). But then I started holding his hands so he couldn't hit me. So he started headbutting me.

Yesterday he the same thing to Nia. So hard that he gave himself a bloody nose.



Re-entry is always hard for me. After any trip anywhere. But especially after Haiti. And increasingly so these days. I was writing an update to our supporters the other day and made a comment like, "every time we leave Haiti we leave a bigger piece of our heart there." It's true. But even all that "heart stuff" aside-- two weeks out of "normal" routine with three kids = miserableness all around when we get back home.

It is weird though, because it *should* be so much easier here--
  • We don't have to heat water to wash dishes-- our hot water heater does it for us.
  • We don't have to use bottled water to brush our teeth... tap water is sanitary.
  • We have cars that start reliably.
  • We have only three kids to look after.
  • Even though we don't have Madame Emiline here, we do have a dishwasher and washing machine.
  • I don't have to find matches every time I want to cook something to start the gas burners, the electric ones start with the turn of a knob-- no problems.
  • I can take a long leisurely hot bath in my gigantic tub and if I stay in so long it starts to cool-- no problem, just add more hot!
  • There's no adding diesel to the generator.
  • There's no pumping water to the roof twice a day.
  • There's no switching to the inverters.
etc. etc. etc.

But yet, even in spite of all this-- I am overwhelmed. I am tired. And I can't quite get my head around life here in NC yet.

It's a little irritating.

Sorry for the emotional barfing. I hereby vow not to blog again until I am no longer grumpy. :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Whose idea WAS this???"

That seemed to be the question of the day between Nick and I the whole day yesterday traveling with our kids. It was a LONG, LONG day (and into the night.)

Here's an abbreviated "day in photos."

Nico went along for one last school children delivery.

Playing in front of the voudou tomb (like you do) right across from the HCH while waiting for our driver. He arrived at about 8:15AM.
We found a corner where the kids could run around in the Port Au Prince airport-- and encouraged them to do so before the flight. That encouragment didn't help as Josiah was "that kids" (you know, the crying, obnoxious one) on our flight to Miami. Notice a distict ABSENCE of our stroller. Oh yeah, that's cause we FORGOT it at the HCH. THAT really helped set the tone of "fabulous" for the trip. That and the lingering car-sickness.

During our "short" (HA!) five hours in the freezing cold (and I DO mean freezing cold) Miami airport, I was seriously about to throw in the towel. Pay change fees for all our tickets, take a cab to a hotel and just sleep. And then I remembered that I would have to take all our kids with us. And hit security with them again in the morning. It was the DEFINITION of a lose lose situation. I was so miserable. Then some kind folks gave our kids lollipops and that gave them a few moments of quiet and I decided to just get it over with.
On the flight to RDU from Miami, I experienced "trifecta!" (Part one)

Parts two and three.

Nick's parents met us at the airport with one of their cars AND our car, so we could go right home-- definitely the highlight of our trip. They were so gracious to do this for us. One of our bags got lost. (Of course.) But I was so tired I wouldn't have cared if it was packed with bricks of gold. The temperature when we arrived home:

The time we arrived at our home-- a short 16 hours later. (Well, minus 2 minutes.) And that was with NO delays.

We made it, but it was not my favorite day ever. WHOSE IDEA WAS IT TO BRING THESE KIDS WITH US??? :)