Friday, February 27, 2009

Stretching.

MTI is amazing. It really is.

But I will say it again. It's hard. It's definitely stretching me. Which is great because if I can learn how to stretch to be more flexible now maybe it will prevent me from breaking later...

That's what I am hoping anyway.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Some pics so far!

I really have taken very few pics-- here are most of them!

Nick, showing you our first temporary "home" on this missionary journey.

The kid's room.

Nico's new friend "Chelsea" having a... um, moment? with his baby doll.

Nia's new bear having a moment with HER baby doll. Apparently they both have jungle fever. (She told me they were hugging.)

Excitedly tearing into our care package!

Nick playing the monkey game.

Nia's turn.

Nick and Nico relaxing after a long day.

Lifestyle choices.

Today we talked about the implications of our lifestyle choices on others.

It's CRAZY to consider. Up until this point, the decisions that Nick and I made on a daily, moment by moment basis really impacted very few people in a tangible way. Now, I am not trying to practice false humility and say that I don't think we've impacted anyone with our lives/ministry, etc. I am more saying that our small choices don't really make a difference. (In this context, of course small decisions combined end up making big decisions... but play along.) The example they used was purchasing a car. In a "normal" American lifestyle, a typical family might consider their spouse/family situation when purchasing a car. But when you're a missionary, there's so much more to consider-- there are more "stakeholders" in even seemingly small decisions...

Who are these stakeholders?
Well, since you asked. It could be anyone on this (non-exhaustive) list:
  • Our kids
  • Mission Board of Directors
  • HCH Directors
  • Sending church
  • Supporters
  • Family at "home" in the US
  • Team members
  • Other missionaries in the area
  • Nationals
  • Spouse
  • Staff
  • Our "target" group
  • Local businesses
  • Government officials (in the US and in Haiti)
  • Our new national church
  • Future missionaries
There's quite a lot to consider. Which doesn't make choices easy. And with that many people having a "stake" in this journey, we cannot please everyone all the time. That's going to be hard for me. I am a people-pleaser.

But the good news is that I really do believe I serve a God who has ordained this work. He is the God who created the universe. He doesn't NEED my help. He has CALLED me to help. Big difference. Which is fantastic news to me, because really, apart from my partnership with God, I am completely, utterly, ENTIRELY unable to accomplish any good work. Without Him, my "works" are just filthy works of flesh. With Him, he has planted in me his sovereign joy.

Check out Nick's thoughts on what sovereign joy means...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Humbled.

This place is humbling us. But in a good way. I think. :)

But it's incredibly challenging.

Another side effect is that I am rendered somewhat speechless as to being able to explain what we're learning. Which is so... not me. I hope after I process it a little bit I can find the words to share some of it, because it is GOOD stuff.

The kiddos are doing good, the big kids especially. They have been very well-behaved in their classes and LOVE their teachers. Today Nia asked if she could NOT sit with our family at dinner and sit with one of her friend's family. And so it begins... Tomorrow the big kids are going on a field trip. :)

There are a few things we'd love you to be praying about:
  • Josiah is kind of missing us during the day I think. He's not used to being handed over to a caregiver and the "transitions" have been a little hard. He's not used to NOT being with me.
  • Please pray for endurance. That probably sounds weird-- but this is pretty intense stuff. I have the feeling we'll continue to drink from this fire hose for the next 2 and a half weeks.
  • Please pray that God would continue to impress on us His love and help us to rely on Him.
  • Please pray that we'd stay healthy-- the altitude here has affected us more than I thought it would.
Okay, one funny story to close us up here before bed... this actually happened a few days ago.
We went to Build-A-Bear to let the kids each build themselves a new best friend since we're making them leave all their friends behind and all. The idea was that we wanted something special that they could bring with them through all of the upcoming transitions-- Colorado, HCH, Jacmel-- somewhere, Port Au Prince-- somewhere, back to HCH, back to Jacmel--somewhere.

So they made their RIDICULOUSLY OVERPRICED animals and named them. Nia named her VERY pink bear, Presley, after her best little friend. And Nico named his dog, Chelsea, after his babysitter. (Josiah also named his elephant Presley, but that's because he's a copycat.)

So after the whole Build a Bear thing we're driving in the car and Nia says,
**********
"Mom, I think I want to give my bear a middle name."

And I say, "That's a good idea. What name do you want to use."

And Nia says, "Probably Mary."

And I say, "That's a pretty name. What made you pick that name?"

And she said (and I promise these were her exact words,) "Cause, you know, she's the mother of Christ the Lord and all."
**********

Good point Nia.
How can you argue with that?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hot Topic Tuesday... So yeah, about that...

So, after much consideration, I am somewhat sorry to say that I am stopping Hot Topic Tuesday.

This decision has kind of been brewing for a while, probably for the past two months or so I've been talking about it with Nick, But really, I like it. And it's definitely the most popular part of my blog lately, but I kept feeling like maybe it's not accomplishing what I had hoped. And that has been kind of confirmed to me over and over. This is not because of you guys-- for the most part, you all played nice.

The problem is that I don't like how this has made me look at some of the issues we've discussed. Instead of helping me to see different sides of a controversial issue, it's really awakened in me an argumentative spirit that makes me feel like stubbornly digging in my heels to hold my ground. The truth is, it doesn't matter what our views are, we can always find some "expert" to back us up, some research to back us up... whatever.

But what these hard stances do is separate. They don't cause us to all come together unified and sing Kumbaya. They make us resent people who have different opinions than we do. They make us question someone else's character or parenting or whatever! And that drives wedges in relationships. And who wants that?

I am not claiming that these conversations couldn't or shouldn't happen. I am not saying you shouldn't host them on your blogs if you wish... But I am learning about myself, that because I struggle with stubbornness, this is not a good role for me.

This morning when I read this in Matthew 5, it became unmistakable for me: "You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family." (The Message)

So kind of funny twist to all of this--
I had made that decision this morning. I was firmly planted in the fact that Hot Topic Tuesday had run its course with me and then THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL parenting topic played a big role in my life today. I got news of something happening within a community we're invested in (NO, NOT HCH or Crosspointe!) and it rocked my world. It made me mad and sad and full of judgment. This is a topic that I REALLY feel passionately about-- much more so than anything we've discussed for a previous HTT. I never brought it up because it is too controversial and it's hard for me to even think of being polite.

So I get this news. And it sucks. And I am mad. And I want to tell everyone how mad I am and how mad they should be...

And then I remember my quiet time with God. All that jazz about not competing or fighting... And it comes into focus what I must do.

I just need to let it go.

*lets go.*

There. Gone. Ladies and er, ladies... you just witnessed growth in the life of me, Gwenn Mangine.

PS- Don't ask me what the topic was, because I am not going to tell you. Not even you mom. Or Gretchen.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Feelin' the love.

Okay. This place is cool. REALLY cool.

There is something totally neat about being in a room of 20 people who love Jesus, representing 11 families, all departing soon for 10 different countries of the world. It's SO cool because there are ALL kinds of people here. Older, younger, more conservative, less conservative, single, married, kids, no kids. And everyone is passionate about somewhere...

Afghanistan, Belize, Netherlands Antille, Sudan, Lebanon, Honduras, Haiti, Peru, India, Angola.

It is cool. And this is going to sound like the weirdest thing, but this place just feels SAFE. I can't explain it. No one is trying to show off (at least not yet)... it's just this place with all these really amazing families. I love it.

So pretty much the coolest thing that happened since we've been here-- we arrived and there was a HUGE box with our name on it... It was from all of you at my church-- YOU RASCALS! It was a giant box of love. Dozens of letters-- all of which I am going to read every single day I am here because they are really, really, really good. And I am going to keep them and bring them with me to Haiti so that when the going gets tough, I can remember this feeling. I am probably more dehydrated from tears than the altitude...

And candy. And snacks. And hot chocolate. And games. And princess garb for Nia. And cars for Nico and Josiah. And dozens of pages of quotes from The Office-- which are hilarious. And Starbucks giftcards... cause, like, there's a Starbucks CLOSE by!

TONS of stuff.

Wow. We're overwhelmed with love.

Thank you. You have no idea how meaningful it is...

Just so you all know--

At the very last minute, I decided to leave my old trusty laptop behind.

I want to fully engage in this program, and don't want to get bogged down by all the faux community I am so addicted to... (ie facebook, blog reading, my woot obsession...) So, I am breaking ties with my computer for the next three weeks. (Goodbye dear friend...)

I will still used Nick's computer to check email and update my blog, probably daily(ish). But this whole posting 5 times a day business, yeah, that won't be happening. :)

And so it begins...

Today I woke up feeling the old adage-- Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

In just a few minutes, we will wake up our children and leave for one of our many adventures that will result in our move. This is an exciting day. (Followed by an extremely bittersweet day yesterday as we served in Kidspointe for our last Sunday!)

For the next three weeks we will be in Colorado-- to Missions Training International. We are participating in their SPLICE program which is about preparing us for a new culture. Our children are participating in CHIPS.

Thank you to our generous supporters who made this happen. This is one of the MANY, MANY, MANY things about this move we could not have done without you. It is the people who send us that make it possible for us to go.

Please keep our family in your prayers over the next three weeks...
  • Pray that what we're learning will sink in to a deep level. Pray we could leave feeling more prepared.
  • Pray that our children would thrive in this program, and that this new change (just one of many they will be making in the next several months) will be tolerated well by each of them.
  • Pray for our travel. Flying with three kids is, well... you can imagine. :)
  • Pray for our reliance on God. Both Nick and I have been starting to feel somewhat disconnected from God lately. As we change scenery for a few weeks, please pray for us to work in healthy habits-- that we'd make increased time alone and together with God.
  • Finally, please pray for us as the reality of this move settles in. As we say our goodbyes we leave pieces of our hearts behind.
We love you all,
Gwenn and Nick

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nico's hair

We've been growing Nico's hair out for the past few weeks... (months?)

He has great hair. Up until this point we've mostly kept it really short (bald), but I wanted to see it a bit longer before we moved. (We will keep it short when he's in Haiti as it's more culturally acceptable with Haitian Christians.) It looks adorable. And it's super-duper soft.

It's interesting. Hair is one of the big issues with transracial adoption. Specifically black kids being placed in white families. I've mentioned the National Association of Black Social Workers in the past. One of the "famous" issues they've taken a stand on in the past is their "vehement" position AGAINST transracial adoption.

This is seriously one of the most racist things I have ever read. It's apparently insulting to them that white families should have to seek out resources to learn about how to care for their skin/hair, etc. The actual quote is, "These actions highlight the unnatural character of trans racial adoption, giving rise to artificial conditions, logically lacking in substance.

This is pretty much the stupidest argument I have ever heard. So, following that line of reason-- if I have a child born with some sort of medical need, would the fact that I have to learn how to care for that need be "unnatural?" Would the fact that I talk with others, like my neighbors and family members and give them tips on how to give him the best care be "unnatural."

Give me a break.

Here's some pics of Nico and his budding fro...



Tons o' pics o' Nia and Dad...

... cause I am obnoxious like that!







I am about to post some more over at Nia's blog.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Great give-away

http://afrugalfriend.blogspot.com/2009/02/suave-challenge-and-huge-giveaway.html

Check it out!

Josiah is an artist too.


I am not sure how the pencil got into his crib and I am honestly not even sure it was Josiah because Josiah has an older brother that's somewhat of an instigator.

When it was obvious the boys weren't going to be taking a nap after 30 minutes or so of their noisy shenanigans, I went in there to get them up, saw Josiah's "project."

Needless to say, I was a little peeved.

I said in a very stern voice, "WHAT? IS? THAT?" (and pointed to it.)

Josiah looked at me and said, "A wall."

*sigh*

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kids say the darndest things, episode 986

So just a few minutes ago I was washing Nia's hair in the bathtub. As I was pouring warm water over her head to rinse her hair I asked her--

************
"Hey, so what kind of baths are you going to have in Haiti?" (I was getting at the fact that they are cold.)

She looks at me straight in the face and says, "Poison ones."

"What are you talking about I?" I asked somewhat perplexed.

"We can't drink the water there because it's poison. So we will take poison baths."

"That's right Nia. Poison baths."

*************

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

96 pairs of socks.

So we did end up having a sock-sorting party after the kids woke up. The irony is that Nick was the only one with unmatched socks in his drawer. It was funny, I cleaned off the table (with my beloved poisonous bleach spray) so I had a clean place to work, and then spread everything out.

Nia said, "I know this is the sock part, but when's the party part?" She didn't get that the party WAS the sorting.

Anyway, we threw out 42 socks. (Which is INSANE... where the HECK are the other ones???) Some of those actually had matches but were in bad shape. And of that, probably 3 of them caused me to fret because I really liked the socks, but I didn't have it in me to keep unmatched socks. (Because all the laundry was done... so it's not like they were in the wash.)

Nick did keep 3 un-matched socks just in case the others turn up. Which, they might, but I am not holding my breath. I think it's MORE likely that the other 42 will show up and NOT those. Cause that's just how life seems to roll.

Nia needs your help!

Vote on her blog:
http://sayfromaj.blogspot.com/

And by the way--

I put my kids to sleep in clean CLOTHES last night before bed. (Thanks for the great suggestion, June!) So now I have a jump on my day-- MY KIDS ARE ALREADY DRESSED AND THEY ARE NOT EVEN AWAKE!

I cannot believe I did not think of this.

Someone needs to patent this idea. It's brilliant.

189 socks, 4 leg warmers, and 1/2 a mitten

So we have far too many socks sitting in a basket on top of my dryer. It's like a whole laundry basket full.

This morning I thought about pairing them since it's really a pain to dig through them every morning to find socks for everyone. So I got them out and asked Nick if he wanted to help me. (You like that, I asked him if he WANTED to help me?:)

I could tell he did not WANT to help, but he begrudgingly trudged over to be a part of the spontaneous sock-pairing party I'd decided to throw.

We dumped them all out and then he said, "You know, all the kids have unmatched socks in their top drawers as well. And so do you." (Implying I think that he does not have unpaired socks in his drawer, because Nick Mangine is pretty much the most organized of us all when it comes to his clothing.)

He then went on to say that we could go get them, but we'd probably wake up the kids. (Like I am going to do THAT!)

It seemed stupid to me to try to match a bunch of socks if we were missing a whole mess of them, so we decided to put them all back into the basket and wait for the kids to wake up. It was ridiculous how many there were and I decided to count them on the way back in.

There were 189 socks.
There were also 4 leg warmers and a 1/2 a mitten.

When I say 1/2 a mitten, I do not mean a 1/2 a set of mittens, ie 1 mitten. I mean actually 1/2 of ONE mitten. It's been cut in two to help Nia with her thumbsucking and then somehow ended up in the sock bin.

So, since I am such a "math girl," (ha!) let me break that down for you a bit more. That's 94 pairs of socks. Which amounts to EIGHTEEN pairs of socks for each person in our family.

That's ridiculous. And it doesn't even include the unmatched socks in our drawers yet.

After we pair them, I am getting rid of probably 1/2 of them.

No one needs 18 pairs of socks.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Doing my part to be green

So, honestly, I am SO un-crunchy it's not funny.
I try various crunchy things at times. (Like peanut butter, potato chips, Combos... just kidding.)
  • As you know, I tried the whole cloth diaper thing (NOT for me... the swishing makes me vom.)
  • I made a great deal of Nia's baby food, (and a VERY little of Josiah's) but in the end, I defaulted to Gerber.
  • The other day I tried using vinegar and water to clean my kitchen instead of my beloved bleach. It did a marginal job of cleaning and my house smelled like sauerkraut. I swear it did. Nick even noticed.
  • I went to a soap-making "workshop" of sorts where I helped make a couple different yummy homemade soaps. I love the soaps, but can't see making them. It's too time-consuming.
  • I went through a tie-dye phase.
  • I stopped shaving my legs and pits in protest of this male dominated society that is driven by the image of what a woman should be. (No wait, I was just lazy... forget that one.)
  • We took Nia to a doctor who practices herbal and homeopathic medicine and DID have some success in treating recurrent sinus infections. (Mostly because she helped us realize Nia is sensitive to dairy.) But really, I just took Josiah to the doctor last week after he'd had a runny nose for almost 2 weeks and was happy when he prescribed antibiotics, which cleared it right up.
  • I HAVE a bunch of re-usuable shopping bags, but ALWAYS forget them and end up using the plastic guys at Kroger and Target.
But the truth is, it's just not me. I want it to be me because it's kind of cool. Some people are just crunchy without trying. I am not. I'm not.

But I just had a revelation as to how I am going to do my part to contribute to the success of our global environment. I think I am going to scrap pajamas. Seriously. Now, before you all get grossed out, I do not mean that I am going to sleep in the raw. I'm not. There is NO way. Totally NOT me.

I just think pajamas are a crock. Why should we CHANGE our clothes before going to BED every night? That's stupid.

In fact, WHY do we change our clothes every day? Now, I can see changing underpants everyday. I think that's a sanitation issue. But honestly, WHY do we change clothes essentially every 12 hours? And then we throw them all in the wash.

I think I am done with that. I am going to wear clothes until I think they are dirty. And my kids are going to do the same. And I am not going to make them change into pajamas if they don't want to. Why do I care if they want to sleep in their clothes? If they are not filthy, does it really matter?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mom/Son Daddy/Daughter Time

Nick and I have both had parents who have loved us and supported us even when we choose things for ourselves that isn't what they would choose for us. That has been an amazing gift.

One of the things we want our kids to know is that we love and appreciate the way they are wired and the things they like, even if it's not what we would choose for ourselves.

So with that in mind, last night we let the big kids each pick out a movie and watch it with one of us. Nick watched Snow White (in live action!) and then camped out with Nia in her "room"-- (it just happens to be coincidence that Nia's wearing her "I love my dad" shirt.) And I watched Spiderman (animated) with Nico, and then he slept in with me. (But never again will I share a bed with that kid because he really snores AND he's a bed hog.)


(And just in case you're wondering, we used the laptop to watch Spiderman. Cause you know how I feel about TV's in the bedroom.)

Speaking of this sort of thing, this weekend Nick is taking Nia to a Daddy/Daughter dance at Lifetime. Only we told her it's a ball. (Don't tell her it's just the gymnasium decorated.) I cannot wait to take pics of them!

Just a reminder--

We send out email updates twice a month that have to do with our family and HCH stuff.

If you want to be receiving them, please sign up via our website:
www.haitianchildrenshome.org/mangine. Click on "updates" and enter your info. You will receive an email asking you to confirm that subscription. THIS IS A VITAL STEP. If you do not confirm it, you will not receive our updates.

One way tickets.

I just bought them.

We're moving, y'all.

And the winner is...

So I assigned each of the four contest completers a number. And then used a random number generator to pick.

1. Sheila
2. Tara
3. Leigh Ann
4. Becky

Congratulations Leigh Ann.

But you are ALL winners!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bla-DOW!

5 out of 5 ladies.

I did it ladies. Even thought I had a meeting after church and didn't get home until nearly 4. But, I got my large behind up and out for a walk with the fam.

I am feeling pretty proud of myself.

How about you?

Who else made 5?

(Other than Tara and Sheila and Becky.)

PS-- I am proud of you Julie and Connie. Some is DEFINITELY better than none!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

OMGosh. I might fail my own exercise challenge.

I am 4 out of 5.

Tomorrow is STINKIN' busy.

HHmmmmmmmm.

Well, hope you guys are doing better than I am. I am still going to try.

But the more I think about it, is 4 days really failing?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Blowing it out.

Nick Mangine is taking me, his bride, to The Melting Pot for Valentine's Day tonight (one day early, since we have childcare.)

This is our last hurrah. Last big (read: expensive) date before the mayhem that will start ensuing soon...

I AM SO EXCITED!

ebook reader?

Anyone have one?
What do you think?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

$31.49

Subtitle: Why I should not be permitted to have a library card.

My sister Melody asserts she shouldn't be allowed to own a library card because she becomes useless after each trip.

I have an entirely different reason and it's name is: Library Fines.

I went in to the library to get some books tonight because my brain is starting to atrophy from lack of reading. But then I went to check them out and that's when I learned I had literally wracked up $31.49 in fines. I seem to be INCAPABLE of returning my books on time. It happens every single time. I always try to get them back on time. But then something happens. And I forget. Or I can't find them. Or I haven't finished them and am close so decide to keep them for "one more day." Or I want to renew them online but I don't know my password.

It's really a problem.

Fortunately for me, Wake County Libraries has an amnesty program :) where you only have to pay $10. I have probably paid it 6 times. So my fine was wiped clean tonight for yet ANOTHER $10. You'd think I would just take my $10 every now and then and go buy a book. You'd think. But no. That's not what I do. I borrow them. And then pay fines. Which is most certainly what I will do with these 5 bad boys I just checked out.

Thankfully, there are no libraries in Jacmel. Because I am going to be on a very fixed budget and I won't be able to afford this excessive lifestyle...

Channeling her inner Victoria Beckham

Melody, these are for you...

DISCLAIMER!!! Nia does not aspire to be Posh Spice-- she doesn't even now who she is. Though I suppose with where we are moving, it is not out of the question that Nia would marry a soccer player. :)

Exercise challenge check-in...

How are you all doing with the exercise challenge?

I have done 3 out of 5 so far. (Although Nick thinks I should count our family walk on Sunday, which would make me 4 out of 5, but I don't think I got enough exercise to "count it.")

I would ALSO like to mention that I took my kids to the park 4 out of the past 4 days. I am pretty much feeling like the mother of the year for that. I pretty much hate the park since Josiah requires constant supervision. He apparently thinks he is much older than he really is and insists on using the equipment meant for older children. He somehow does have the dexterity to maneuver on it, and I want him to be Wild at Heart and all... so... whatever. If I am honest, I'd prefer to just be sitting my pasty-white self on the bench in a tank top getting some sun and reading a book like I could do when it was just Nia and me. But those days have past. So mad props to ME for huffing myself and three children to the park EVERY day this week.

I am off-track...
How are you doing on the exercise challenge ladies???

Campout

So I have talked a lot about this tradition of campout that we have-- which should probably be called campIN, but I digress. We stole (er, "borrowed") this idea from the Loomis Family and have adapted it to fit our lifestyle.

We've been going in a million directions lately, and yesterday I realized it's been a few weeks since we've done campout (usually it's a weekly thing.) So we pulled the sleeping bags into the living room, watched Chicken Little and ate kettle corn. And for the first time, Josiah participated. He slept on the green couch with Nick. He went right to sleep, as we all did.

But then I woke up in the middle of the night. And I couldn't get back to sleep. So I just sat there for a while listening to everyone sleep... It was very tender. I love sleeping children. :) Then I just kept thinking of how I wanted to document it, and the obnoxious person I am, I got up and took pictures of everyone sleeping. The flash only woke up Nick, who was DONE with Josiah profusely night-sweating next to him, so we tucked Josiah back into the crib and all went back to sleep. Well, they did. I sort of didn't. But what else is new, right?

Here's a few 1AM snaps. Sorry there aren't any of me, but I wasn't sleeping. :)



Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I know I am biased but...

Nico is really stinkin' photogenic...
(and also, have I mentioned I LOVE my camera???)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dave After Dentist

I know there's controversy about this video, but I have to say-- I am with Dave's dad...
THIS IS FUNNY.

Exercise challenge-- LAST day to sign up AND prize announcement.

Okay here's who I have so far:
  • Kris (her participation is questionable at this point... the prize is not ice cream.)
  • Chuck and Juli
  • AnonymousConnie G
  • Sheila
  • Leigh Ann
  • Gretchen
  • JenBlogger
  • Tara
  • The Ashley Family
  • Did I miss anyone???

    It's NOT too late. BUT... I need to have a commitment by 8PM tonight. And you need to exercise 5 times before Sunday night. (Add a comment if you're gonna do it so I know.)

    The prize?

    I think it's pretty cool.

    It's a Mancala game that was hand-carved by this wood-worker in Jacmel. I bought a few things from him. It's neat because it's a small family business. I have a picture of him somewhere. I will find it.

    Mancala is a pretty common game. It originated in Africa. So, in the US, Mancala is usually played with beads or marbles. But in Haiti, it's just played with whatever, pebbles... beans... whatever is around.

    So along with the Mancala, I am sending 24 pebbles I gathered from the beach on the HCH land, as well as 24 pieces of green beach glass that I gathered there too. (You need 48 pieces to play the game... it doesn't matter if they are different. I didn't have 48 of either, so I am sending half of one and half of the other.)

    Remember, you can only win if you complete all five workouts.
    Winner will be selected randomly from all the people who complete the challenge.

    Here are a few pics. It's 23.5 inches long by 7.5 inches wide.



    Good luck! Go get your butts movin'!

    Wyclef Jean

    Saw this great piece on 60 minutes about Wyclef Jean and his organization Yele Haiti.

    I love Haiti. (Just in case you haven't figured that out yet.) And I really like Wyclef. He's got great music. And he really loves Haiti-- which is cool.

    But I don't think that Wyclef can save Haiti. Or that the "children" can save Haiti. Or HCH. Or the Pyes or the Mangines. Or the US. Or legislation. Or foreign aid. Or education. I hope we can "make a dent" but let me be very clear on this.

    Only God can save Haiti.

    Hot Topic Tuesday!-- Diapering

    Please welcome our first guest host,
    Daisy Adkins!!!

    http://daisyryanadkins.blogspot.com/

    Click on her blog-- she's leading HTT today!
    (I am not sure what time it's going up!)

    Monday, February 9, 2009

    Excellent Question Becky!

    Becky posted this question:
    I have a question regarding HCH. You always talk about the 20 children who will be in your home. Are these theoretical children at the moment or do you already know who they are? Is 20 just the maximum capacity or do you actually show up and have 20 kids waiting by the front door?

    Answer:
    The short answer is: We do NOT have "our" 20 kids "picked out" yet. (And I use those words in quotes VERY loosely.)

    The long answer:
    Haiti has a pretty serious situation with "orphans." (Again in quotes, because they are not always actually orphaned children. The statistic we quote often is that "15% of children are orphaned or abandoned.") Many (most?) times, abject poverty is the reason children are abandoned.

    Because of this there are countless programs-- mostly NGO's-- working in Haiti. Some are adoption orphanages, some are "residency" orphanages. (If the HCH had to fall into one of these categories, it would be the latter.) But the truth is, it is VERY difficult to place older children in either. In fact, HCH is currently the ONLY orphanage in the Sudest region of Haiti (see the red-shaded area) that accepts children over the age of 6, which is a whole other topic for another day.


    This means that HCH is turning away children all of the time-- but there simply aren't any openings now. 20(ish) is the maximum capacity of the HCH family homes. It's a strategic number that allows for a family feel. (While 20 DOES seem like a lot, it really does feel like a family.) Our three children will be on top of that number. So, 23 total.

    So how quickly will we fill up? We honestly don't know. We will not start accepting children into the home until about six months after our move. We will need time to start acclamating to our new country, job, and language. We also will not every child in that we are asked to take. If there is an option for a child to be parented by a biological parent or close relative, we try to see how we can work towards that if possible.

    That being said, there are three specific children that we (and the Pye's) have had in the back of our minds that might eventually become part of our family. (I don't really feel the liberty to talk about "possibilities" at this point in a public forum like this though...)

    Once our kids have been accepted into our home, they will be "our" kids and stay in our home for the long haul.

    77 days.

    So eleven weeks from today I will be moving to Haiti. In fact, if we book the flights we're looking at, we will already be there by this time.

    I teeter between feeling like we've SO got this under control and feeling like Oh. My. Gosh. I have so much to do I can't hardly stand it.

    Today falls on the latter side of things. I feel like I might hyperventilate when I realize how much we DON'T have worked out yet.

    And we leave in just 14 days for THREE WEEKS of training in Colorado. So subtract 3 weeks from 11 weeks, and that will give you our "functional" planning time. Which (as Nia could tell you) is 8 weeks. And then subtract the one week I am in Haiti in April (actually it's 8 days) and the two weeks we're going to stay with Nick's parents... So that's like what-- 5 weeks? Just over a month.

    Where the heck is my paper bag???

    The irony

    Nia is currently telling Nico the story of the boy who cried wolf...

    Inside I am laughing out loud.

    Sunday, February 8, 2009

    Deadline extended-- Important contest news!

    Okay guys, I am going to be honest with you. I am extending the exercise contest deadline until next Sunday because I have been sick these past two days and I REALLY want to do this thing, but I have very little confidence in my ability to feel better in the next day and then workout for the next five days in a row.

    Therefore, I am extending the deadline until next Sunday, Feb 15th at 8PM. You need to have five workouts between Friday (Feb 6, two days ago) next Sunday. (In other words, any exercise you already did STILL counts.)

    Therefore it is now mandatory that everyone sign up by Tuesday evening. You do not need to re-sign-up if you already have.

    I have determined the prize, but am not announcing it until tomorrow, because I am mean like that. It is Haitian. And it was made locally in Jacmel. But it is not a painting or a decoration. Curious?

    One of the best sensations in the world--




    --is carrying a child who has surrendered to sleep...

    Saturday, February 7, 2009

    OUTSTANDING SENIOR BOY (aka-- My new, er... "present")

    Last night I had a girl's night over here at the apartment and Nick took the kids to his parent's house. He spent some time with his mom going through a bunch of his old stuff that he needed to go through before the move.

    He "transferred ownership" of most of his old stuff to his parents. But he did bring home this gem for me, cause, you know, it's faux gold and all... He slipped it on my key chain when I wasn't looking.

    CHITTENANGO HIGH SCHOOL OUTSTANDING SENIOR BOY
    As Voted By His Classmates
    The Class of 1998
    NICHOLAS MANGINE

    Imagine my delight knowing this beaut is now all mine.

    Friday, February 6, 2009

    Exercise challenge- prize

    Okay, I am tired of making excuses for not exercising.

    During the next week I AM going to go to the gym 5 times.
    Who's in with me?

    Here's the deal--
    You need to exercise 5 out of the next 7 days.
    Now, I am not going to make a bunch of rules about how long and what you need to do. It's the honor system... I trust you.

    It starts right now (2 ish pm).
    So by 2 ish pm next Friday, you will have needed to have 5 exercise sessions to compete for the prize. Everyone who wants in needs to let me know by SUNDAY night. Then I will have a check in on the blog to see who completed it... From those that completed it, a winner will be drawn randomly.

    And WHAT is the prize?
    Thank you for asking.
    I don't know yet. Let me think on that and get back to you sometime this weekend...
    It will be something good. I just don't know what.

    Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    Gymnastic shenanigans

    So tonight we had all sorts of gymnastic shenanigans going on here at the apartment. I am sure our neighbors hate us. It started with us trying to get our feet behind our heads:

    Nia was pretty good at it.

    With help, Josiah was the best.

    Nico was close too...

    Nick-- eh....

    Me? I could hardly huff my feet up into the air. Now I might have gotten MARGINALLY closer than this picture would suggest, but the other pictures were an affront to public decency.


    Then Nick started in with the tripod and the headstand. Sometimes I get mad at him because I am jealous of him for being so dang agile. Then I remember how adorable it is.