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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggety jig.

My kids are back from Manteo and they had a great time, BUT I AM SO GLAD THEY ARE HOME!

Nick and I got a ton of stuff done in their absence, but man, life is just not complete when they are not here. Nick and I were out to dinner last night, and on our way home, I said, "Wow. Our lives were really boring before we had kids, huh?"

Don't get me wrong. I love having Nick all to myself and getting things done without interruption and the ability to be spontaneous--- but dang, these little guys just add SO MUCH joy and meaning to my life.

Our NON Walmart Registry

WALMART GIFT REGISTRY SLURPS. Seriously people. It was my preference to register at Walmart because I feel that a lot of times the prices are cheaper and they are in places where Target it not.

BUT... here's my story.

Nick and I walk into Walmart and wait in line at customer service for about 10 minutes. When we get to the front of the line, they tell us we have to go back to the jewelry counter to register. So we traipse back there. We find the kiosk and begin the process of entering our info. When we get to our zipcode, I enter it and it says, "Sorry, please enter a valid zipcode." And so I do, again. And I get the same error. So I walk over to the lady who's manning the jewelry counter, wait for her to finish up with her customer and then here was our conversation.

**********************
Me:
Hey, I am trying to register for some gifts and when I enter my address, it keeps coming back as my zipcode being invalid.

Her:
Oh, yeah, that happens sometimes. It must be a new zipcode. Just pick another one.

Me:
Um, they need the address to ship things to if people order online. I can't just pick a new one.

Her:
Well, if it's close enough-- like one number off or something, I am sure it will still get there.

Me:
Yeah, I don't know if that's a great idea. What I'd like to do is just enter my zipcode.

Her:
Well, if you're getting that error, there's no way to do it.

Me:
So what should I do?

Her:
Well, you can just enter in someone else's address and have things shipped there.
********************

So, after a bit of debate, Nick and I decided that we could do this-- we'd just have things shipped to Nick's parents house, who live in Raleigh. That way the last names would match and we'd be all good even in the few weeks after we move.

So, hesitantly, we decide to do that.

We enter all the information and then print out the form we need to bring to the "just-enter-another-zipcode-in" salesgirl assuming she'd give us the gun to start scanning things. But, she didn't have it. She said it should be on the shelf on the kiosk. But it wasn't.

So she said, "People are probably out scanning with it now. You can just hang around here until they are done."

Now we felt like we were in a jam, because there were these theoretical "people" out there with the ONLY scanner. We had no idea if they really WERE out there, or if the scanner was just missing. And if they were out there, how much longer did they need with it. Were they almost done, or were they people going down to Haiti to start an orphanage with 147 things we needed to find and scan? (Hypothetically.)

So as we're trying to figure it out, Nick notices the sign on the kiosk (that we'd apparently missed up until this point) that lets us know that Walmart in-store gift registry kiosks were going to be discontinued as of February 13.

Oh for PETE'S SAKE.

So short story VERY long. We didn't register at Walmart.

More on our Target adventure soon...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Nick's newest blog post.

Okay, I PROMISE I am not going to link to every single thing Nick posts, but I love what he wrote this morning after reading through his old journal from his first trip to Haiti.
http://i-jat.blogspot.com/2009/01/deforestation-redemption.html

Prayers for Haileigh

Yesterday I was at the church office when the news came in that our friends (and ex-neighbors before we sold our house) received terrible news. Their middle child, seven year old Haileigh, was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Last night Nick and I were out in Greensboro to visit a relative and we got the call that they were prepping her for surgery and a biopsy.

Please pray for Haileigh. Please pray for her healing. Please pray that God would guide the doctors hands and minds. Please pray for Chris and Shelly (her parents) and Blake and Colby (her brothers.)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Buyer beware!

Sorry I posted a bad link-- try this.

http://dealnews.com/features/Inside-Circuit-Citys-Liquidation-Sale/276019.html

A Busy and Fun-filled day awaits!

I am looking forward to pretty much every aspect of today.

First, we have a meeting at Crosspointe with Pam to talk more about Haiti stuff. Which is something I love. Then I have a lunch meeting. Then Kris is coming over to help me think through my kitchen. Then Nick and I are going to Target and Walmart to register.

"Wait, what? Register? For WHAT?" you may be asking.

Good question. Thanks for asking. We have a bunch of supplies that we need to gather before we can start taking children into our home in Haiti-- think sheets, towels, pillows, plates, etc. Remember, we're going to have 20 additional kids living in our house AND 4/5 nannies living there too. That's a lot of people. That's a lot of sheets. And other stuff too.

So-- since so many people have asked how they can help, and what do we need, we decided registering for items would be a good way to streamline the process.

I will post our registry info once it's up!

And then, finally, tonight is the Office. Woot. Woot.
How much more excitement could a girl get?

PS-- Just as an aside-- it's 8:10AM and Nick Mangine is still sleeping. I honestly cannot remember the last time he slept that late. He's a 4AM kind of guy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

$1567.00

We went through and "priced" our house with amounts we'd want for items at a garage sale/on craigslist.

That's the sum.

Of everything.

Everything. Well, almost everything.

All our furniture. Bikes. Appliances. Lamps. Clocks. Cabinets. Bookshelves. Strollers.

That's it. I tried to pick very reasonable prices-- what I would want to pay at a garage sale or thrift store.

Apparently we don't have anything very good. :)

The plan.

So with no kids and Nick working tonight instead of today, we're about to start tossing... er, "organizing" for the move.

Here's the plan.
  • The bins in the loft
  • The kids room-- clothing, bins, toys, etc.
  • Our closet
  • The bathroom linen closets
  • The coat closet
  • The laundry room
  • The junk drawer
I'm also thinking of listing some of our stuff on craigslist today...

I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The results are in: Nick's caffeine intake

  • 3 of you (5%) said it was wrong and he shouldn't ever take caffeine pills
  • 35 of you (67%) said it was no big deal
  • 14 of you (26%) said Nick is creepy, but it's not related.
Let me process that data.

Observation #1--
I was VERY surprised at first that no one said it was wrong, and then 3 votes came in for it being wrong all on one day.

Most people think it's not a big deal, but I am VERY surprised by the amount of people who think Nick is creepy. He's one of the least creepy people I know. Weird? Yes. Very. Creepy? No.

But hey, a vote is a vote-- you're entitled to your own (wrong) opinion. :)

Thanks for playing along!

Hot Topic Tuesday-- The Great Schooling Decision

Okay, so there always seems to be a "mommy war" about how to school children. Homeschool, private school, public school, charter school, Montessori school... It's overwhelming. And I have to say, a lot of Christian mamas can be the most vicious. Because it's all about "what God wants" for their kids.

Now, don't get me wrong. God DOES want something for your children. I am *pretty* sure I can safely say that he wants them to go to school.

Now, that being said-- this was not a choice we had to make-- it was made for us because of the call to live and work in Haiti. Homeschooling IS our option. There are no mission/private/American school in Jacmel. Homeschool IS our only option.

I honestly do not know what we would have done if the whole Haiti thing didn't occur in our lives.

So, here's my question--

How are your kids schooled, and how did you come to that decision? (OR... how WILL they be schooled, if not yet in school?)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gretchen and my mom

are my life-savers.

Whenever I need to get something done or go somewhere-- they ALWAYS take my kids.

Like, often. Probably four times a year or maybe even more. Like overnight, for, like, a week.

They just "work it out" between them. Even though it means my sister has 6 kids to deal with. And her husband works nights.

This week they are visiting them for a few days so I can get some stuff done around here for the move.

We are so indebted to them for the part they've played in our Haiti stuff... we could NOT have done what we're doing without them, and we could NOT do what we're doing without them. I am thankful that they will do this "behind the scenes" stuff so we can do the sexy work.
Kudos.

The Medical Risks (Dad's Perspective)

This one from Nick:

Gwenn did a great job responding to a question about our children's health in Haiti a few days ago. But as soon as I read it I knew I wanted to chime in as well. Gwenn and I have talked about this extensively. We've come to the same conclusions (we are moving to Haiti in 91 days, after all) but we come from different points of view--Gwenn calls my thoughts the "dad" point of view.

First, I have to concede that moving to a third world country with my family does increase their physical risk. As Gwenn pointed out, we've done everything we can to mitigate this, but it's a reality. Hospitals are further away, the medical care is not as good, and general sanitation is lacking. But Haiti is not the only risky place to raise kids, every culture has risks. Materialism, selfishness, arrogance, stress, greed, humanism, ignorance--these are the diseases of the United States, and they're pervasive. I am more afraid of my kids getting these diseases than I am of them getting sick or hurt.

In making decisions about my children, I have to remember what my goal is. I'm not trying to raise safe, healthy children. I'm trying to raise amazing adults. I believe that for us, Haiti is the best place to do that. I want Nia's empathy to be nurtured towards those who really need it. I want to Nico to know who he is, so that he can one day choose who he wants to be. And I want Josiah's aggressiveness and outgoing personality to be tempered by the servant leadership that will be on display all around him.

One more thing. I believe that God has called my family to Haiti. I know that may sound strange to many of you, but there are a lot of reasons why (here's one, I should be blogging about more). That being said, how could I possibly expect my children to follow God as they grow older, if I'm not willing to follow God right now. It's not always easy, it's not always safe, but it's the best life possible. That's what I want for me, Gwenn, Nia, Nico, and Josiah.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Where to begin?

The thought of getting rid of everything we own in the next 3 months (and still doing "life" in the meantime) is starting to make me feel a little panicky-- not because I care that much about any of this stuff, but because there is SO much to do.

I honestly don't know where to start.

Breathe, Gwenn. Breathe.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Nice and "safe" here in the good ole' US...

So last night this happened right next to where we live. In fact, without knowing it, we were right there in the parking lot just moments after it happened. The road and part of our apartment complex were all caution-taped off... there were tons of police cars, firetrucks (used for barricades?) and ambulances (including Wake County's "Heavy Rescue" Ambulance.)

And it just gave me pause. Because we know a lot of people are concerned with our safety in Haiti. But yet, here's a fight that resulted in someone being shot just footsteps away from our home. And I was just very vividly reminded that no matter where we are-- God is sovereign. Our times are in His hands...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Night Terrors and Spirituality

Last night, before Nick and I even went to bed, Josiah had a night terror.

If you've never experienced one of these with your children, let me tell you-- it is horrifying. The child is screaming and screaming and thrashing and obviously terrified. But they are sleeping. And you can't wake them up. And actually, I have read you shouldn't try to wake them up. The only thing you can do is ride it out.

So last night, Josiah started screaming. And Nick went in to get him. And he held him and tenderly spoke to him for about 5 minutes. And then I took him and it was my turn to speak gently to him. "Okay baby. I'm here. It's okay. You're deceived right now, baby. This is not real. I know you don't feel like it, but I am here with you. I will always want to comfort you..." And I prayed for him, and I sang to him. And all the while, he was fighting me-- screaming with eyes closed. It's pretty much the most heart-breaking thing you can imagine as a parent-- trying to comfort your child, but them not being able to receive it.

It ended a few minutes later. He stopped crying suddenly. I continued to hold him for another few minutes until he stopped thrashing. And all the while I kept thinking of the spiritual parallels. Sin is like one giant night terror. It's this thing that has us deceived. We don't trust that God has the best plan for our lives, so we walk in this way that causes all this pain and thrashing and terror. And we scream out-- but we don't feel comfort.

But once we come through the other side, we see that God was not absent. We were so entrenched in the frenzy of our possession that we were deaf to God's tender words that he was speaking to us all along. "Okay baby. I'm here. It's okay. You're deceived right now, baby. This is not real. I know you don't feel like it, but I am here with you. I will always want to comfort you..."

I am thankful to know this God who holds me even when I don't feel it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Haitian Spaghetti Recipe


So I might have posted this before.

But since I have a lot of "Haiti lovers" that grace my page, I thought I would do you a giant favor and post this link. This is a recipe for Haitian spaghetti. It's a very common Haitian dish and eaten by pretty much every class of people. (Served sometimes for breakfast, and many times with extra ketchup-- Haitians like sweet food.)

A lot of times it has thin strips of ham or small cut up pieces of hotdog in it. And sometimes I have seen it with fresh diced tomatoes in it (it's served that way at the Cyvadier Plage-- which I discovered on my last trip is my favorite Haitian restaurant so far (not that I have eaten at that many). And just FYI-- once we get our home built on the land in Raymond, I AM tiling my floor like them.)

It's easy to make and a ridiculously cheap meal. We all love it. Plus, as the mother of a Haitian child, I love having a Haitian meal in our regular "rotation."

And BONUS: Nick Mangine is the Haitian spaghetti chef-- so I also get a night off cooking!

So check it out!
http://i-jat.blogspot.com/2008/10/haitian-spaghetti.html
(PS-- it's my husband's blog-- so nepotism maybe... but a dang good recipe.)

A public thank you.


Nick and I just wanted to make sure we took a moment to say thank you to our families for your tremendous support in this whole Haiti move scenario.

We "get" that this is hard for you. It is hard for us. But for us the bitter is coupled with the sweet. Thanks for being supportive of us even though we reap most of the reward.

We love you.

The medical risks

A commenter from my previous post about allergies brought up a valid question that I'd love to answer.

Her question was something like, "Don't you feel that bringing your son with a serious heart condition and severe allergies to a third world country is dangerous?"

I think that's an excellent question and something we've given a lot of thought to, as it is not the first time we've heard it. We actually listed the question in the FAQ's on our website because it is something people are concerned about. And we get that. I appreciate people being concerned for our children.

So I will start with the heart condition-- I could give a lot more detail, but I will stick with what I feel like gives the whole story without going into all the medical jargon. (Which parents become an expert on when their kid is sick! :)

As many of you know, Josiah was born with a severe heart defect called Transposition of the Great Arteries (or sometimes called Transposition of the Great Vessels.) In basic terms, it means that at birth the two main arteries coming out of his heart were flip-flopped. This meant that oxygenated blood was not able to get to his body. Without surgery, it is always fatal.

It was a terrible experience for us. But I will never forget the doctor (on the night he was diagnosed) saying, "You guys kind of hit the jackpot. If your kid has to be born with a severe heart defect, this is the one you want." Now I know that sounds silly, but it's true, because there is a DEFINITIVE fix-- correcting the "transposed" vessels to make a complete circuit. This happened for Josiah on day 3 of life. He had open-heart surgery that was one-hundred percent successful.

Since his surgery, he's been followed by top surgeons and cardiologists at Duke Children's Hospital and they've all said the same thing... Josiah is the "best case scenario" for this surgery. He has no remaining problems from the surgery. It is considered "final." At this point we need to have follow-ups with a cardiologist once ever 3-5 years. All of his tests have shown perfect heart function.

Now, with that being said, this was a huge deal for us. So we talked very candidly about our thought of a move with Josiah's cardiologist at Duke before we made our decision to move forward with a move to Haiti. We braced ourself because in this age of litigation, we knew he'd probably advise against it, but he did not.

He told us that Josiah is healed. He has no restrictions what-so-ever and that we should treat him the same way we'd treat our other children. When we explained our thoughts of a move, his exact words were, "Cool. Go!" He is willing to keep doing his checkups for him while we are on furloughs, but he said that there are qualified doctors to treat him all over the world and this surgery is a "non-issue" in this decision-- he has NO increased risk of any heart-related incident or injury at this point. (No more than any other child.)

So we've really come to a place of peace as far as his heart is concerned. There WAS a major life decision that we did make in relation to Josiah's heart condition, and that was to not have any more biological children, as our risk of having a child born with a heart defect is now doubled. We have taken permanent measures to ensure this is the case, as we are not personally comfortable with the thought of another pregnancy/birth in Haiti. (Which, again, is our PERSONAL choice. As my sister, Melody, has said to me with great wisdom, "God gives people grace for different things." There are plenty of people who are comfortable with pregnancy and even birth in Haiti, and I (IN NO WAY) wish to suggest their decision is not the right one for them. This is about what God has given US the grace to handle.)

Now, the allergies.

Yes, honestly, at times that does concern us. But I am concerned about that in the US as well. I think food allergies is not something to be cavalier about. BUT, I also believe that we will be able to set up our lives (as we have in the US) to minimize exposure and to deal with any potential problems we encounter. (Carrying Benadryl and Epipens, etc.)

Additionally, here is another side of the picture that is not often talked about with this candor but it is reality. Because we are Americans, we WILL have access to more consistent and higher-quality healthcare than most Haitians. It's very sad, but it is a reality. We have access to and relationships with multiple American medical professionals in Haiti, as well as the resources to get to the US within a short amount of time if necessary. We have relationships with multiple individuals who own/operate private helicopters/airplanes, etc. We have already begun membership in a medical co-op that will cover medical costs should they arise (whether they are incurred in the US or Haiti.)

We do understand there are medical risks to living in Haiti. However, we're doing all we can to mitigate these risks. And for whatever reason, God has given us the grace to accept and feel comfortable with this level of risk. We love our children dearly and would never intentionally put them in a situation where we felt we were going to expose them to accute danger.

I remember reading "The Poisonwood Bible" a few years ago. Without going into too much detail or spoiling the plot-- It's about a family who moves to Africa to become missionaries and the father cares so much about his "mission" to "save souls" that he neglects his own family. It is a great, (albeit heartbreaking) read. Our "mission" that God has called us on IS our family. We are going to Haiti to build family. I think we'd be entirely missing the point if we didn't realize there are risks. But because we realize there are risks, we are able to plan for them and build a community around us who has "got our back."

I think that was an excellent question.

We would welcome any others you have about our move. It's likely we've already answered them in our own minds, but if not, you will be giving us the opportunity to explore them and plan accordingly.

Finally, Nick has some additional thoughts about this issue from his "Dad" point-0f-view, now that I have given you mine from my "Mom" point-of-view. He'll get to that shortly. :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

As if I needed more drama in my life...


... apparently Josiah has another allergy. (These pictures don't really show the magnitude of the reaction. It was ANGRY red.)

Tonight it just cropped up all over his body suddenly while he was in the bath with me. Nick thinks it's the Aveeno foaming bath I was using, but I am NEARLY 100% certain he's used that before.

I think it was mushrooms as we had them on the pizza we made tonight. But then again, I'm nearly 99% sure he's had them before.

It freaked me out a little. I still feel a bit jacked up from it. Allergies kind of scare me these days.

Thank you God for keeping Josiah safe, and thank you for Benadryl.

Surrendering.

To disposable diapers.

I don't think I can do Gdiapers anymore.

I am tired of my house smelling like pee all the time.

And I hate washing diapers.

I hate needing to change a diaper and realize I don't have any g-pants clean.

I can still not swish without audibly gagging.

More power to all you cloth diapering moms.

I am not one of you.

*Sn*owflakes that stay *n my n*se and eyelashes... *




Not a parenting topic-- but "hot" nonetheless...

Okay, this is an issue I need you to weigh in on. I would love your opinion. And I have posted a poll-- so all of you in a reader, click through to vote.

My husband, Nick, hates coffee. He also hates soda. And tea. Basically he hates the taste of anything caffeinated. And when I say "hate," I mean he honestly cannot get it down his throat. This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. But there are instances in life, where you just need a little caffeine to get through a situation-- maybe a late meeting, maybe a long drive, etc.

So instead of drinking coffee or Coke in these instances, Nick takes a caffeine pill. He's kind of known for it. He calls it his "coffee." Now, this amounts to him taking it 1-2 times a week.

When people hear this, they give him a hard time. (Basically insinuating he's a drug addict.) I will agree that caffeine is a drug. But, do we say that to people who drink coffee everyday? Or to people who drink Coke everyday? Or hot tea, or iced tea?

Let me give you a breakdown of actual caffeine amounts:

Caffeine pill- 200mg
Starbucks tall (small) coffee- 260 mg
Coca Cola Classic (12oz)- 34.5mg
Tea, iced or brewed (8 oz)- 47 mg

So, let's process that info a little.
So lets say Nick ends up taking 2 of these pills a week-- 400 mg of caffeine per week.
  • Someone drinking one cup of the $1 Mc Donald's Iced Tea per day ingests 1809.5 mg of caffeine per week.
  • Someone drinking one small cup of Starbucks coffee each day ingests 1820 mg of caffeine per week.
  • Someone drinking one 20 ounce Coke a day ingests 402.5mg of caffeine per week. (Diet Coke actually has 40% more caffeine than regular.)
All of these are more caffeine than Nick ingests weekly. Yet people always act horrified that he'd take a caffeine pill once or twice a week. He's not addicted to caffeine. He doesn't need it everyday or get headaches without it (like I do.) But still. People think he's a weirdo.

What do you think?

Is it creepy to take caffeine pills instead of drinking coffee? Click through to vote at my blog.

And while you're pondering your vote, enjoy this little snippet a friend sent his way about caffeine pill addiction. :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Oops! (Correction)

Sorry folks-- apparently the link I posted to Daisy's jewelry site was wrong!
Email me for the right one!

Happy shopping!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. (Sorry Pam!)

When you have three little kids are planning on moving to a Caribbean country, you start really wanting one last snow for them (and me!) to play in.

I really want snow tonight. Really.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gray hair.

I am getting some.

Nick says he doesn't want me to dye it. I don't think he really understands how quickly they are cropping up.

I have mixed feelings. I DO think gray hair can be really pretty and I love it when women embrace the aging process. BUT... am I ready for that? I am only 31.

Do I really believe that gray hair is a "crown of splendor" and "attained by a righteous life" as the Bible says?

Or do I think it's for women older than me?

Hmmm.... I guess this goes back to my whole "women over 30 are beautiful" post. So-- guess it's time to put my money where my mouth is.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

101 Days...

...until we move to Haiti!

Wait, what?

Yup.

Over the past several weeks God has proved Himself faithful to us. We're especially thankful to the communities at CrossRoads Community Church in Chittenango, NY and our amazing home church, Crosspointe Church for partnering with us in sacrificial ways.

We're getting very close... Close enough we're moving forward with our plans. Life is going to be moving at a crazy pace these next few months as we prepare to make the biggest leap of faith God has ever asked us to make.

We are still needing about $1,500 more in monthly support, as well as about $10,000 more in start-up support--visit our website at www.haitianchildrenshome.org/mangine for more details on our move and how to join our team!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Shopping for Haiti

Another friend of mine with a home business graciously offered to do a fund-raising show for our move.

This time it's sterling silver jewelry.
This is REALLY, REALLY pretty stuff. There is a lifetime guarantee on all the jewelry. It is of the highest quality-- .925 sterling silver. Items are hand-crafted.

Here's the info:

Daisy R. Adkins Independent Representative
email: daisy.adkins@gmail.com


Daisy is giving 15% of each sale to the cause - and 20% of each order that is over $100.

Party is going to be open until: February 5
All orders will be submitted at once on that day.

You can also fill out a wish list and email it to Daisy who can email it to your sweetie... Valentine's Day is soon!

This company also offers gift certificates!

Daisy accepts cash, check, and credit cards. (Cash/check needs to be received in advance.)

Thanks Daisy!

And happy shopping... buy something nice for me while you're at it. (Just kidding.)

Nia's new room

Having our family of five in a two bedroom apartment hasn't really been that difficult until lately. As Nia has been growing up, she's starting to need more privacy-- which, as the only little girl in the family, I respect.

But we were sort of scratching our heads as to how to move on that one. Because we're not moving until we move to Haiti. There's no way.

So we went back and forth as to how we could create her some of her "own" space and yet still live well in this apartment. Well, yesterday we created a "room" for her in our loft. It's not a room. Not even close. It's constructed out of baby gates draped with sheets. And she most often will not sleep in it at night because it's open to the living room below. (Although she did last night because she was so excited she couldn't stand it.)We threw an army cot in there and put some sheets on it. But it's a place for her to keep some of her stuff. And, more importantly, not have to be around her brothers. They are not allowed in. Ever. Even if she says so.

We still have *some* functional space (not a lot) in there for us-- plus, we put a small TV and their new V-smile up there outside of her room. (Because my kids are never, ever allowed to have a TV in their room-- even after I die. It's a rule. They can disobey if they choose. But I am pretty sure God will smote them-- Ephesians 6:1 baby!) *Sarcasm alert! Sarcasm alert!*

The best part about the room is the secret entrance. You have to crawl under the desk (which is covered by one of the sheets.) She thinks that's SO sneaky.

MAN I love kids! They are pretty easy to please.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sin.

There is NO other word for it.

Nick's been working a bunch of late nights lately, so he took the day off today and we are trying to pare down and organize.

It is nothing but SIN how much crap we have.

We moved into this apartment in May and there are dozens of toys and games on the shelves in our upstairs closet that have not been TOUCHED since we moved in. And this is just ONE closet.

I about got sick thinking about it. All this stuff I have stored up NOT using when:
1. Others could be using it-- cause there's a lot of really GOOD stuff there.
2. I complain all the time about how my house is a mess and un-organized.

It's sin.

We can't take it with us...

And so, again, we're starting to purge stuff from our lives.

But here's the thing...

You people can't be all po'd when you see stuff you bought us at a garage sale. It doesn't mean we didn't like it or that we don't like you.

It means we can't take it with us.

So-- again, I will throw this out there-- you need to speak now or forever hold your peace.

And also, just because you bought something for us as a gift doesn't automatically mean you can just have it back. We need to replace all our stuff once we're in Haiti. So if someone wants to buy it from us, we might lean that way unless (of course) it has sentimental value. And then we can talk.

But really, we're not all that worried, because mostly we just have junk that I don't think anyone will really want.

And let me say this-- I have some REALLY cool Haitian stuff that I have collected over the years that I am going to sell-- probably on ebay. So all you adoptive parents-- remember-- this might just be a chance to own something AUTHENTIC from your child's birth country. :) More to come!

And PS- Gretchen-- I already know about you and the green couch-- it's yours don't worry.

Resolution Check-in and Hot Topic Tuesday Announcement

First, I know you are all chompin' at the bit to hear the announcement-- but first I wanted to "weigh in" on my resolutions.

Here's the update.

Diet-- Pretty good. I am being more active and I am following Weight Watchers (online) more than I am not. I am going to try to make sure I journal all week this week. I am down a total of 6 pounds since the first of the year. It's a start.

Nail Biting-- Abysmal failure. I keep doing well for a few days followed by awful for one. But sooner or later-- I am telling you-- this will not conquer me! (Or maybe it will-- and if it does-- I would be honored that THAT be the biggest thing I never accomplished in life.)

Backseat Driving-- I just asked Nick on that one and he said I was doing well. It is HARD. But I am trying.

Budget-- I am honestly proud of myself on this particular item. I have said no to myself when it comes to spending A LOT this month. Just like the old diet-- it's all about spending less than you bring in. (Or I guess that's the inverse of the diet.)

I have also been trying to go to bed early. By 9ish on "school nights." It's been going well. I think when I am home, more nights than not I accomplish this. It helps frame the next day to succeed.

How about you? How are your resolutions going? Do you even remember what they are?

Did anyone, perchance, make a resolution to try to watch my kids more so I could pack because I am moving to Haiti in three and a half months? HOLY smokes. (More on that later.) If you did and forgot to tell me, you can go ahead and let me know and I would be HONORED to journey with you to assist you in keeping this resolution. No need to be overly thankful to me-- I am just a giving person, what can I say?

Okay, shifting gears.

Hot Topic Tuesday. It's a funny thing. People either love it or hate it. But either way, they are interested. Because I get like double the site traffic on days I do it. And I have gotten several emails (well, three immediately come to mind) telling me that they love having a forum to discuss some of these hot parenting issues.

Here's the rub. I like it to. But I have this pesky issue of three children that have been entrusted to my care. And once a week I have been spending chunks of time ignoring them so I can argue about how to be a good mom. Brill.

So, I received a suggestion from a friend and avid Hot Topic Tuesday fan. She suggested we have rotating "hosts" for Hot Topic Tuesday. Basically, I will collect a list of people who have blogs and want to host and on their Tuesday, I will direct all the traffic from my site to theirs. The debate/discussion will happen on their blog.

Now-- this does bring up a number of issues. Mostly, I am hoping an environment of no nasty language/name-calling can be maintained. Also, what if I find I don't agree with the content of someone else's blog, yet am directing a bunch of my friends that way. But let me just say, this business of letting go of control of things is good for me. So I am going to go with it.

So, if you are interested in being a Hot Topic Tuesday Host (or Hostess as the case may be)-- go ahead and send me an email at nickandgwenn@gmail.com and we will work out a schedule. I will probably still host once a month.

Also (and this if for the general readership even if you're not interested in hosting), let me know what topics (via comments) you are interested in debating. Please keep it to parenting topics. I am not interested in discussing abortion, gay marriage, or offshore drilling unless it's in direct relation to a parenting topic.

I wanted to say thank you to all of you who make Hot Topic Tuesday so fun. I am proud we've been able to maintain a fairly civil arena to disagree. Well done ladies (and the few gentlemen who participate.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A little "extra incentive" to attend the NA meeting

There's apparently a NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting that meets at the church where Jenny got married. After the wedding we when we were all all cleaning things up and getting our stuff all packed up I was back in the bride room getting changed back into my regular clothes. Trying to be modest since there were other girls in the room too, I went over into a corner and started disrobing facing the wall.

When I was *ahem* totally disrobed from the waist up, someone yells at me-- "Gwenn, there's a meeting going on in that room!" Only then did I notice that there was in fact a door in the corner of the room where I was changing. And that door had the top half that was a window. I thought it was a closet. But it was not. It was connected to another room. And in the room it connected to, there was a NA meeting going on. As in, right then.

Well, needless to say, red with embarrassment I dove down (and then about puked). Once I was fully dressed, I peeked back in the window and noticed that while I could TECHNICALLY see people in the room, the view was mostly obstructed by a whiteboard in front of the door.

So... here's to hoping that no one was looking. I am not sure which way the view would have encouraged them to go...

Hot Topic Tuesday-- Expectant Mother Parking

Typed this up yesterday-- here we go!

A few years ago I was on an adoption message board where I mentioned the fact that once I started my adoption, I started parking in the "Expectant Mother Parking" they offer at some stores like CVS, Harris Teeter, Babies R Us, etc... because it made me feel happy to realize I was an expectant mother.

Oh. My. Word. I got TOTALLY bashed.

I was told that I was totally selfish. That these spots had a MEDICAL reason behind them and I was just being bitter that I wasn't pregnant and I was "stealing" them from pregnant women who were in a state of a lot more discomfort. (Give me a break.)

This sparked QUITE the controversy. People dug in their heels and it got ugly before the thread was locked by a moderator.

Well, using our nice words, I would like to discuss this issue with you all. It might be interesting because there are a lot of adoptive parents who read my blog, but it might be boring because I am so right about this one no one will disagree. (JUST KIDDING!!!)

Okay, here's my two cents on the whole deal.

I totally, completely, utterly think that waiting adoptive parents should be "allowed" to park in the spaces reserved for expectant mothers. Here's why:

First of all, these spaces are just a marketing ploy. There is NO law governing them and no enforcement of them. It's just a marketing tool to make expectant moms feel special. And if that's the case, why should it be reserved only for the pregnant mom and not the adoptive?

Having experienced biological pregnancy and the "paper pregnancy" of adoption, I feel pretty "qualified" to speak to this issue as a whole and would argue that adoption is EVERY single bit as uncomfortable as bio pregnancy (it's just different)-- AND THEN SOME with VERY, VERY few of the "perks" that accompany it. It's isolating because when you're pregnant, everyone (eventually) knows you're expecting. So you get to talk about it all the time. You get to look totally "normal" registering for baby gifts, you get all sorts of well-wishes from strangers, etc. etc. etc. When you're adopting, you have to bring it up in conversation all the time because you want to feel validated as expecting a baby too. It's not obvious because of the lack of a baby bump (although a lot of people gain nearly as much weight during an adoption as they would a pregnancy-- it's a literal phenomenon, I am not speaking figuratively here.)

When you DO get to talk with people about your adoption, most assume you're infertile and feel the need to express pity in some way. Many adoptive moms don't get baby showers ahead of time, because the timing is so unknown. And most people feel the need to "educate you" all about the things that might go wrong with adoption, telling you one of the "tons" of stories they knew about failed placements and/or RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder), why you should/shouldn't be adopting domestically/internationally, etc. etc. etc.

Third, pregnancy is NOT a medical condition. (This is not the time to argue about hospital vs. home birth... perhaps another day.) All I am saying is that in the majority of cases, there is not any reason why parking any closer is medically necessary. And you're SUPPOSED to be walking. It's good for the pregnancy. I know that being in late pregnancy makes walking around uncomfortable-- believe me, I know! But if you can't even walk into the store from the parking lot, how are you going to get around it? I was two weeks overdue with a nine and half pound baby. Yeah it was uncomfortable. But that's not a medical condition. If the pregnancy causes a medical condition necessitating that you park closer, we already HAVE a mandated system in every public place for that-- handicapped parking.

There's this principle you learn about when you're learning adoption called "entitlement." It is basically acknowledging that you're "entitled" to be this child's mother. It's not the same thing as attachment (the feeling of being attached to a child as his mom/dad, etc). It's the feeling that you are the "real" parent and has a lot to do with how you feel you are perceived by others. That doesn't just MAGICALLY happen when you get your child. You need to foster this and remind yourself that you are the "real" parents well before your child comes home. This is one of the things that makes adoption so difficult. You need to force yourself to attach to a child and give yourself the right to feel like the parent before they are in your arms. Thus the ache. You ARE an expectant mother. And, therefore, you should be able to park there.

You can say it comes down to semantics, but I disagree. And here's why... If the following argument is applied, at WHAT point (if you are biologically pregnant) do you start parking there? Is it "ethical" to park there as soon as you find out you're pregnant? But what happens if someone in their second trimester comes along? But if they do, should THEY park there, because what if someone in their THIRD trimester comes along? But then should THEY park there, because what if someone who is overdue wants to park there? But what if there is a MORE overdue person that comes along? So then should no one park there, just in case? So then is there even a point to these spots? I would argue that there only real point is (like I mentioned above) to make expectant mothers feel a little special. And then, in that case, why should that be reserved for only mothers who are biologically pregnant? Shouldn't both be able to feel special?

I do NOT think this is selfish and I would ask anyone who thinks it is to express (if it helps validate the feeling of being an expectant mother) why they would begrudge a waiting adoptive parent this small privilige, but yet give it to a pregnant woman. To me THAT seems selfish.

And just as a bit of an aside, at Babies R Us they call it "Stork Parking." And I think you'd be hard pressed to convince me the whole "stork" idea is more relevant in birth than in adoption. :) Just saying.

And my final point is that I get that this is one of those issues that don't really matter in the grand scope of the big picture. It's totally what my friend CC would call a "rich country problem." That does NOT escape me.

So ladies, what do you think about this totally non-important issue in our society? Agree, disagree? Let's hear.

And, oh! I am going to *try* to leave this topic open for a few days since you all are complaining about not being able to post fast enough.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Does anyone have--

-- a copy of "The Strong Willed Child" (by Dr. Dobson) that I could borrow?

(I am serious.)

All the noise and the quote of the day

Lately I have had so much "noise" in my life that I can't really think straight.

I am overwhelmed with kids and schooling and housework and support-raising... it's just pretty much the most exhausting time in my life. And there have been areas of my life where I've just sort of thrown up my hands and decided to let it go...

I was recently convicted that I profess to be a follower and lover of Jesus, yet in my alone times-- when the kids are sleeping or otherwise self-amused, I've been very little to build this relationship. Instead I check my facebook or read blogs or people.com or watch hulu or youtube...

A few weeks ago I was working with Kelsey Stoner on one of her college essays. The topic something like this-- "Name one of the biggest challenges facing your generation and what you are doing about it." She talked about the whole "faux community" created by the internet. Now, before I get a bunch of negative feedback, I do understand that "real" community CAN be built via technology. BUT... I think more often, technology has a tendency to isolate us and actually discourages ACTUAL meaningful interaction, necessary for our growth.

I am a total extrovert. Being home with my kids everyday is HARD. I miss talking to peole with whom I can have meangingful conversations. (Not that my kids quick quips don't make me laugh every now and then.) But I think I have mistaken these various internet communities for REAL community.

I remember a long time ago my pastor Jonathan mentioned this principle in a message, "You can only love someone to the extent you know them." It's SO true!

So-- it's all about choices. Who do we want to know? I mean REALLY know. Do we want to know a little about all these people we follow on blogs and facebook? Do we want to like them and love them a little-- or do we want to really experience community? Do we want to love and love others well? That's what I want. And so I guess that means I am going to have to decrease my technology time in exchange for some good old fashioned relational time. First and foremost, with this God I profess to follow, and then my husband, and then my kids, and then my best friends... And then if I have any time left over-- well, that's when I can check in on my internet community. (And I just in case you were wondering-- I AM NOT GIVING UP MY BLOG! I don't care if you all stop reading it so you can spend some better time with your families/friends, etc... This is just an outlet for me to chronicle my life-- so whether I have 100 readers, or 10 readers, or 1, or 0-- I am still going to keep on keepin' on with the ole' blog.)

I am sort of changing gears here, but this morning I was attempting to do just that-- to spend some time learning more about this God who created me and how I can walk with Him...

And I came across this quote that was so fantastic I just has to share:

"This is the balance of surrendering to God. We allow God to do what we cannot do, but we do what we can." -- Stephen Arterburn

Saturday, January 10, 2009

It's a done deal.

Beautiful sweet little Jenny is a married lady.

The wedding was beautiful. (Of course-- cause when is a wedding NOT?) My dress was suffocatingly tight. I was unbelievably miserable the entire time I was wearing it. BUT, that is OK because it was only $40 brand new at the David's Bridal online outlet. And it is also okay because it helped me not eat too much-- since I am on a diet and all. I *might* have accidentally stuck my tongue in one of the chocolate fountains after the reception though.

Nico was pretty much the MOST adorable ring bearer anyone has ever seen. Or should I say pillow-bearer, cause you know, ring bearers don't actually carry rings anymore. So it's kind of silly. And it makes everyone want to take those weirdo baby "art" photos with the flower girl and ring bearer pretending to be the bride and groom. Very "Angela" if I don't say so myself. But nonetheless, seriously cute.

While I am on the topic, my niece Abbie was the flower girl and she was cuter than a speckled pup. We were all crossing our fingers because she puked all night last night. Made it through the entire service and reception with NO vomit. Way to go Abbie! The absence of vomit is always a good feature in a flower girl.

I will share pictures tomorrow if I can... I don't have my computer with me at my sister's computer doesn't seem to have a card reader.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Give it a year

Edited to add: This post was accidentally written on my blog by my mom. She thought it was her blog she was signed into... but it's nice, so I am keeping it. She has a great blog-- you can check it out here at: grandmothersheartbeat.blogspot.com

When Jenny first walked into my life she was a 13 yr. old girl who looked about 10. She she small and thin and shy and sad. Her short life had seen much disappointment and fear. She was a worship dancer at heart but did not have the freedom to express her worship in this art. As our shared time together grew she opened up to me and shared all the things in her troubled heart. I would say "Jenny I don't know why this is happening to you but give it a year and see what God will do." I always wanted her to realize that these hard times were temporary so that she would not loose her courage to go forward.I knew that God wanted to use these things in her life not only to mold her but to use her help someone else like herself. Always..in a year's time things would change and always she could look back and say "Look where God has brought me in this time." There were many tears, fears and even times when we would frustrate each other. Jenny knew it was safe to get mad at me and for me to be angry with her. Ours was/is a covenant relationship. Our love for Jesus who placed us together compels us to love each other..always. Jenny has come such a long way in these 11 years. She is now a confident woman and a registered nurse in a children's hospital. She dances before the Lord in grace and beauty. On Saturday Jenny will marry. The season of her childhood riddled with insecurity and doubts is over. She is a woman of God and now she is not just looking back over the last year but she is looking forward to the next one. Looking forward with hope and confidence knowing that she is loved. By Jesus, by Josh and yes, by me.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Isn't she lovely?

You thought I was about to talk about my daughter again, didn't you? Not this time. This time it's about the next most important gal in my life-- my mother.

She is a beautiful woman... don't you think?




PS- We're out in Manteo for my "sister" Jenny's wedding! More "Isn't she lovely?" moments to come I'm sure...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

In a six minute nutshell

Here's the dream we're joining--



(One quick note: When we're talking about Vania coming from a place where she was not loved, we're referring to her when she was purchased by the vodoo priest and lived in a chicken coop for three days. We're NOT talking about her birthmother.)

Click HERE for more of our story.

Thanks to Travis Hinton for the video! Great job!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Computer Vacation

Hey guys--

I am going to be taking a break from the internet and all things computer on Monday and Tuesday. I am not doing a good job "being present" (as Jonathan would say) with my family and am seeing if a little computer break would help.

So, all this is to say-- hot topic Tuesday will be postponed. Possibly Thursday. More likely NEXT Tuesday. We'll see. Sorry. I know you are all MAD disappointed. But life is disappointing at times, now isn't it?

In the meantime, here are a few pics, and a bit o' commentary for your enjoyment.

XOXO--
Gwenn


Josiah's new trick is forward rolls. He's got them down. Here he is using a pillow for some added comfort.

The morning after campout-- Nia snuggled up in bed (couch) with Nick. I love their father/daughter relationship. It's very sweet.

Nico got his first "at the salon" haircut. Here he is at Snippets. (Or as Nia likes to call it, "Snipples.") Had kind of a weird experience here, I wanted someone black to cut his hair because I felt like they have more experience dealing with highly textured hair like he has. But I still felt weird saying, "We prefer his hair be cut by a black stylist if possible." But I felt racist asking for the black lady to cut it. Is that weird? I don't know why-- but it was the first time I've had to make/voice a decision based on race. Just when you think you have it all figured out...

Josiah was up for SEVERAL hours last night. Finally I just went down and slept with him on the couch. Nick took some pictures of us before we woke up. The blinding light of the flash interrupting my sleep gave me a glimplse of how little newly born babies must feel with all the flashes of cameras. Looks "comfy," huh? It was not.

Took this snap the eldest and youngest Mangine boys-- it's ridiculous to me how much they look alike.

I used my MAD photo-editing skills in this one, as you can see... The kids were all dancing around to Bigsby and all of a sudden Josiah kept pulling his diaper down halfway and dancing with his coinslot hanging out.

See you Wednesday or Thursday-ish...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Resolution Check-in

How are you doing so far?

I am doing great on some, and not so great on others--

1. Nail-biting-- pretty good. I did catch myself one time yesterday, but immediately stopped.
2. Diet-- going well. So far so good. I need to incorporate exercise in the upcoming week-- but the eating part is going well.
3. Budget-- Sucking it up. I am going to start doing better today. After the REI garage sale. No really, I am.
4. Backseat driving-- I am improving. I am still not perfect, but I am seeing marked improvement. Here's my struggle. Nick is somewhat of a distracted driver at times. He gets to thinking about something and just forgets where he's going and misses turns. (Or occasionally stop signs/red lights.) I don't know if it qualifies as backseat driving to point these things out. I am trying to be less of a shrew. I think that would only stand to benefit our marriage.

And then I also resolved to go to bed earlier. It worked 50% of the time so far. :) So, I am further resolving to spend less time on the computer. Starting in two minutes. I am going to spend some time today thinking of healthy parameters. Those parameters include eliminating woot, sellout.woot, and dealnews from my daily rotations. It will help with the budget scenario as well.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Sometimes it pays to be a homeschooling mama

Saw this deal on dealnews.

There's a sale for educators-- hundreds of items marked down to just $1 each. And shipping is just $2.25 (total.)

So I got 16 new books/workbooks/reproducible books for less than $20 including tax and shipping.

You either need to register as a teacher or as a homeschool teacher. Either way, you get the discounts. It's a good deal.

By the way-- Hot Topic Tuesday next Tuesday is another topic that I have a pretty strong opinion about-- Waiting Adoptive Moms parking in the "Expectant Mother" or "Stork" parking at stores. No discussion until Tuesday, but be thinking about how you feel about it.