Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Finally a few pics

Our excellent (and very missed) ex-life group.
(sans most of the kids. see Nia's blog for a pic of them.)
Nia coloring. And lying on the cool tile floor.

In the absence of a baby pool, we made do. It provided nearly an hour of fun.

Josiah modeling his new bike.

Nick putting together Riann's new bike.

I love this picture. It SO sums up Haiti. You know you have pest problems when your pests have pest problems...

Nico gobbling down his 4th mango of the day yesterday.

Nico models his new bike.
I can't figure out why the Haitians think I am weird. :) Seriously, I was out in the compound keeping an eye on the kids and decided I was WAY overdue to bleach the ole' stache... The kids kept laughing and pointing. (Which I do recognize that they were justified in doing.) I know I will probably give up primping like this sooner or later, but for now, when my mustache glistens in the sun, I want it to be blond. (And by the way, I prefer the term "glistening" to describe my "dewy glow" in this picture... that is as opposed to "sweating like a pig.")

Swine flu

I have been hearing about this big swine flu epidemic working it's way into and through the US.

I just have to ask this question--
Aren't you SCARED to live in the United States?  With all the disease and whatnot?

Hopefully God will never call me THERE!

:)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Highs and Lows

Highs for today:
  • getting to be at my new house twice today
  • getting a nap(ish) in
  • hearing Nia say, "Mom, none of my brilliant ideas are working" (after she couldn't make the wooden train tracks do what she wanted them to. (I love that kid.)
  • somehow finding the kids swimsuits amongst over 25 bags/tubs
  • realizing internet will work in our new house
  • got things packed for Nick to "move in" to our apartment in Port Au Prince
  • Josiah doesn't seem to hate all black people (like he did back in November when he was here)
Lows for today:
  • Josiah got DOZENS (or more) mosquito bites (he WAS wearing bugspray)
  • Josiah got stung by something
  • Josiah got sunburned (she WAS wearing suncreen)
  • Nia got sunburned (he WAS wearing sunscreen)
  • Nick got REALLY sunburned (he was NOT wearing sunscreen)
  • Nick's phone died (when it drown in the ocean in the pocket of his swim trunks)
  • The kids started freaking out and melting down by the evening
  • Nick started freaking out and melting down by the evening
  • I started freaking out and melting down by the end of the evening (We're all better now)
  • I never made it out of my pajama top into a real top today
  • Realizing that my children have VERY limited capacity to share
All in all, a decent day. Hoping tomorrow is better-- though I have my doubts since Nick will be gone the next two days in Port. Oh well.

I still love being here though, so that's something, right?

Nia has started blogging again...

just so you know...

The tools of the trade

Now that I am a "missionary" I figured it was time I started acting like one.  So I've decided that I am going to start playing the guitar again.  No really.

I used to play back in middle school/high school-- Indigo girls, Edie Brickell... you know the type.  As girlyman would call it "angst driven gender pop."  But I decided to go the path of least resistance today and not really unpack.  Just bring all our bags over to the new house and pretend they don't exist.  (Well, and take out a few days worth of clothes and toiletries for everyone-- cause that will help the situation.)  I just don't have it in me to figure it all out today.  Especially in a house with no furniture.

So the way I do the math, I still have at least 2 hours before Nick and Danny return with the kids.  That will give me time to slap a fresh set of guitar strings on the old Yamaha and play for maybe 5 minutes before the tips of my fingers start to sting too badly to continue.  And then, of course, take a nap.  Cause what would be a dad's day out with the kids if mom didn't take a nap?

Things are going well.  I am very proud of the kids and am not trying to push them too hard.  I think they are doing great so far.   We're trying to be intentional about giving each of them one-on-one time and letting them talk about how they are feeling.  Nia today said she was mostly happy but a little sad.  I get that.  Nico said he was "a Haiti."  Josiah just whined and tried to steal a toy out of Riann's hand.  So-- pretty much business as usual.

Let me just say this-- I cannot imagine doing this move without the Pye family here to help us.  They have already saved the day for us over and over and are just making this transition SO smooth.  I think the coolest thing is that they are just trying to let us dive in and do life here-- but really helping us to figure it all out.  I know we've been here less than 24 hours, so that might seem like I am just trying to flatter them, but I am totally serious.  This whole process (starting over a year ago) has been SO easy with their help.  We feel that they are "for us" and know that we only feel so at home here because of all the ways they've paved the way.  (And with the way roads are in Haiti-- a smooth road is EXTRA great!)

Just a few informative notes about things:
  • It's NOTICEABLY hotter here than when I was here just two weeks ago.  And it's still April. I am imagining August and praying for God to help me visualize being cool.  That and ask people to bring me more Goldbond powder.  Cause that's like rubbing a peppermint patty all over you after a shower.  (Sans the chocolate of course.)
  • One cultural adjustment I am going to have to get used to is locking up EVERYTHING.  It would not be an exaggeration to say there are at least 25 keys on the key chain for my new house.  (Which does NOT include our apartment in Port.)  Now, some are duplicates.  But off hand I can think of at least 15 locks in my new house.  And nothing is labeled.  So each one takes about 2 minutes to open.  (I will be breaking out the nailpolish soon I think.) 
  • I love our new truck.  It's like driving on a dream come true.
  • I am thinking the pack n play might not be long for our family.  Not only does Josiah climb right out of it, but it also seems to trap in mosquitos.  He already looks like he has chicken pox all over his arms, legs and face-- which he does not-- it's just bites.  Poor little guy.  If there is one mosquito in a house, it will TEAR up that little man...
  • Okay, so one more funny thing Nico is doing is pretending he speaks Creole and just babbling away.  It's really cute.
  • Sorry I haven't posted any pics yet.  Yesterday I saw the funniest t-shirt and I tried to get a picture of it, but I couldn't do it without being "that American."  It was a shirt that said, "Kiss THIS Nick!" And then there was a picture of someone bending over with their ehm... "posterior" prominently displayed.  I thought about trying to buy it from him for the next time Nick and I have an argument, but my Creole is basically non-existent at this point and I wasn't sure what kind of shenanigans I'd get myself into.  And besides, that wouldn't really make me a very good example, now would it?  (And yes, now that I am a "missionary" I will have to have the camera ready more often, because that is (like an acoustic guitar) one of the tools of the trade. :)
Later taters.

We're home.

Ah, it honestly feels great to be home.

The day of travel yesterday was more or less un-eventful. (The way we like it.)  I have to say, I didn't LOVE traveling with 3 (not 4) kids and all that luggage, but we made it!  

Nick loves the new house.  (I still love the new house.)  The boys seem to love the new house.  In fact after bringing him into his new room, Nico said, "Mom, we keep this room forever!  Okay?"

So... let me give you the rundown of our life and schedule for the next few weeks.
When I say, "We're home."  I mean in Haiti-- not actually in the home we're going to be living in after a few weeks.  We came straight to the Pye's house (HCH), where we will stay for the next almost 2 weeks.  They are being the greatest hosts and have moved back into their guest room to make us feel very comfortable.  Leann had fixed a fantastic meal for us when we arrived-- we simply could not have been welcomed better. :)  

Tomorrow Nick and Danny are going into Port Au Prince for 2 days to work on getting some of our furniture and appliances purchased.  They will be working on our apartment in Port Au Prince (where we will move halfway though May) to do language training through the end of June.

So-- between now and then, we're getting our Jacmel house all settled in while we stay with the Pyes.  We'll be returning to Jacmel most weekends during language training so our kids can feel like they have a home base.

And we're actually going to be jumping in with both feet as the Pyes are going out of town for five days on Saturday.  So we're in charge of their home and 23 kids (plus our THREE-- not 4.).  Scary thought.

Today Nick and Danny are taking all the kids out for the morning (apparently that's Danny's Tuesday morning ritual.)  I may go over to the house to unpack-- or I might just sit and breathe.  Either way, I am looking forward to it.

This weekend should provide some excitement.  Or at least that's what a guy we met in the airport said, as May 1 is Jacmel's birthday and there's a big party.  Cool.

Alright, gotta go get going with the day.

One funny story.  So Nico is really LOVING being here.  I think it's cool for him to finally NOT be the minority.  And he notices it.  In fact every person he sees here he calls "A Haiti."  As in, "Look mom, there's a Haiti!" (as he points to someone.)  Yesterday we were driving through  Jacmel and we were stopped at a corner.  Nico looked out of the truck to a guy standing on the corner and said, "Hi Haiti.  How are you?  I'm a Haiti too." 

Cute, huh?

Monday, April 27, 2009

4 kids?

Okay, first of all let me address the fact that I do not, indeed, need to be awake for another hour. But, the ole' anxiety awoke me about an hour and a half ago and I just finally surrendered to awake-ness.

So, yeah, I have NO idea why I said I have 4 kids. It's the SECOND time I did that yesterday. At church I said the SAME thing-- that I had 4 kids. Let me be the first one to assure you that this was not a subtle announcement. There is not, nor will there ever be, another ACTUAL Mangine on the way. Sure, there's 20 more "Mangine" kids on the way, but there is not 1 more MANGINE kid on the way. As you may recall-- we are, and will remain, grateful members of the V-club. And while certainly biology isn't the only way to add to a family, something tells me that now isn't the time to be adding another MANGINE when we're about to add 20 more "Mangines." Kwim?

And just for all of you people who were thinking that I was including Nick in the count-- let me also assure you that is not the case. Nick carries FAR too much to be a child. He is the pack-mulest husband you've ever met. So I don't think that's what I was thinking.

My only thought is that in the delirium that has been our life in the past week, somehow my brain has ceased to function properly.

So, yes, let me state publicly, dispelling speculation and rumor, for once and for all-- we DO have all those bags, but only THREE children.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

So long, farewell, auf weidersehen good-bye...

So we're closing up our last day and night in the good ole' USA.

It was a great day for us-- we got to say good goodbyes to hundreds of people at church... we got to say goodbye to my parents and our siblings... Nick's parents are bringing us to the airport tomorrow EARLY (we have to be there at 4AM!) So that will be our last goodbye. Which, honestly, I am glad for. Because I don't know how many more goodbye's I have in me at this point.

We're excited.

We're nervous.

We're tired.

We're happy.

We're sad.

We're not looking forward to the travel-- 10 large bags, 10 carry-ons, 4 kids, 1 stroller and carseat. Don't actually know how all this is going to work out. Please pray for our travels.

Thanks for all of your support!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Not to get all stirred up again about vaccinations...

... but right about now I am glad we all have them.

Three kids at the HCH have the measles.

So, apparently for us, it was worth the allergic reaction Josiah had to his second MMR several weeks ago...

Please pray that the kiddos would feel better soon and that no one else would get it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Listen to us live on the radio tomorrow morning!



Saturday from 9-10AM



Crashing.

I slept 9 hours last night.
And then 2 this afternoon.

I think all this sleeplessness is catching up with me.

A day in the life of a Nick without a Gwenn

As we were going through our junk to get rid of, we came upon a bin of what we call our "memory stuff."  You know the stuff-- yearbooks, love notes, etc...  This was my favorite one we found.  Years ago Nick wrote this and gave it to me for Valentine's Day...  I love it. Enjoy!


Where would I be without my wife?

(A day in the life of a Nick without a Gwenn)

8:00am

His alarm clock goes off.  Nick hits snooze because he always set his alarm early enough to hit snooze one time and still make it to work on time.

8:09am

His alarm clock goes off.  Nick hits snooze because he's half asleep and doesn't realize he already hit snooze once.

8:18am

His alarm clock goes off.  Nick realizes he's going to be late for work so he hit's snooze again.

8:27am

His alarm clock goes off.  Nick rationalizes snoozing a couple more times so he can wake up at a round number like 8:45.

8:36am

His alarm clock goes off.  Nick hits snooze.

9:15am

His alarm clock has been going for 1/2 an hour.  Nick gets up.  Mornings have been hard on Nick ever since he moved out of his parents house last December (on his 27th birthday).  But he's pretty sure the benefits of the single life far outweigh the costs.
  • He can wake up whenever he wants :).
  • He can play Playstation until 4 in the morning if that's what he feels like.
  • He may have lost some time to snoozing this morning, but he can make it up by not showering or eating breakfast.

9:17am

Nick decides to play a "quick" game on his brand new Playstation 3 (which cost him $1000 on ebay) instead of ironing his shirt.

9:52am

Nick walks out the door knowing he can be to work in exactly 8 minutes from his RTP apartment.  He hasn't showered, but that's OK because he showered yesterday.  He hasn't shaved, but he doesn't need to because he sports one of those big, long, scaggly, "I'm a Computer Programmer" beards.  He hasn't ironed his shirt, but that's OK because he'll just keep his jacket on all day pretending to be cold.  And he hasn't had breakfast, but that's OK because they've got free popcorn at work.

10:00am

He arrives at work right on time (except for being an hour and a half late).  It really is quite remarkable how accurately he can predict his trip into work.  It's taken two years logging the times and conditions of his drive everyday.  Now Nick can predict what the traffic will be like, he knows how to time the lights just right... It's really amazing (if you're into that sort of thing).

10:06am

Nick has his breakfast popcorn in hand and is ready to start his work day.  The work Nick does is really important.  If he fails, this project may not be successful.  And if this project isn't successful, how will anyone be able to order groceries?  I mean without a algorithm that analyzes your past spending habits and serves contextual advertisements on Kroger's new online grocery store, people may continue to buy groceries in an actuall store!  Just think about the productivity that will be gained when people all over the Southeast begin ordering their groceries from Kroger Online and picking them up at the store.  Just think about all the good things that people could do with their extra time.  Nick is really making a difference!

10:32am

But today Nick just can't get into it.  This happens pretty often, and when it does Nick will do the smart thing and take it easy in the morning.  It's important to keep up with important events like sports, politics, and Linux news.  Plus by relaxing this morning, Nick is preparing for a really productive afternoon.

12:00pm

It may be early, but for some reason Nick is really hungry.  So he takes his lunch break early.  Nick grabs his lunch popcorn and sits down for his favorite hour of the day.  When Nick started working at Kroger 6 years ago, he had this really cool idea to play minesweeper every single day at lunch.  Just to see how good he could get.  Well, Nick is amazing.  And he proved it again today by beating minesweeper (on the most difficult setting) 56 times in 1 hour.  It's not a record, but pretty close.  And considering his "Playstation Hangover" from last night, it's really good.

1:00pm

It's really strange, but this afternoon, Nick still can't seem to get into work.  He plans to have a relaxing evening to go along with his morning but then realizes he has a meeting at 2:30.  With a lot of preparation necessary.  So he looks busy for an hour an a half, gets enough work done to be presentable for the meeting and heads off to the conference room.

2:30pm

"It's really cold in here, do you mind if I keep my coat on?" - Nick

4:43pm

Follow up from the meeting has kept Nick busy until now, but he has to get going if he's going to catch his TV show at 5 (12 minutes to drive home plus five minutes to grab a hot dog at the gas station).  It's probably a little early for Nick to be leaving, so he slips out the back when no one is looking.  This sets him back a few minutes on his schedule, but it's important to be a good employee.

5:02pm

Finally! Nick is settled in for the show he's been waiting for since he read about it this morning on tvguide.com -- "Anna Nicole Smith - An unfinished Life"

6:00pm

After an enjoyable hour of entertainment Nick powers up his Playstation 3 (connected to a second TV), hops online to find his "friends", and gets ready for nice night of online video games and television.  On tap for tonight?
  • That's So Raven at 6:00
  • King of the Hill at 6:30
  • Growing Pains at 7:00
  • Scrubs at 7:30
  • The Daily Show at 8:00
  • Who's Line is it Anyway at 8:30
  • Lost at 9:00
  • Lost at 10:00
  • HBO until he falls asleep

Ahhhhhh.  The good life.



Thursday, April 23, 2009

Friends and family-- FYI

We *might* be losing our cell connections for up to 24 hours sometime in the next 48 hours...

Please contact us at my in-laws if you can't reach us.  If you don't know the number, email me at nickandgwenn@gmail.com

Thanks!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Excitement : Scared out of my mind % Ratio

Monday-- 98% excited:2 % scared out of my mind.

Tuesday-- 92% excited: 8% scared out of my mind

Wednesday--73% excited: 10% scared out of my mind (+17% sick and tired of packing)

It's a good thing that this move is coming soon, because I am noticing a trend... :)


In other news-- said goodbye to the staff/elder familiy at Crosspointe tonight. Wow, I love those people. This is a community we've walked with for nearly 10 years. They've changed me. Every one of them.

My heart was breaking.

Then they gave us a new MacBook. It's helping the hurt go away. ;)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Story about our family The Cary News!

http://www.carynews.com/front/story/12275.html

Thanks to Kate Turgeon-- great job on the story!

Some "after" pictures

Here they are!


My new house.

The team that did the extreme makeover-- Jacmel edition. (plus about a dozen locals.)

My living/dining room during an "open house" for the HCH kids and staff while Pastor Placide blessed the house.

Living/dining area

Nick and Gwenn's room.

Nico and Josiah's room

The kid bathroom

Our NEW tile countertops!

Another view of Nick and Gwenn's room.

Nia's salmon-colored room.

The next team will be working on the downstairs level of the house-- which is where all the HCH kids will stay!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Last Hurrah at the apartment

It's not actually a hurrah. We just need to finish things up here at the apartment and we're hoping that we can get everything done tomorrow between 9AM-noon.

We need people who might be willing to help pack and inventory, do some LIGHT cleaning (I paid to have the apartment cleaned, so I don't want to clean it too well!), bring some stuff to the dump, bring some stuff to the Durham Rescue Mission, etc.

Email me at nickandgwenn@gmail.com if you want to come help.

Thanks,
Gwenn + Nick

What's it like-- part 6 (? )Home sweet home... ???

I am not sure where that is.

We're back in the US-- for one more week.

But this CRAZY feeling came over me yesterday that I feel like I am leaving my home when I left Haiti, and I am coming home when I came to the US.

Weird.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Meet Naomi.

This is Naomi. She's our first official staff member. Having been a nanny at HCH for well over a year now, and realizing she was ready for advancement, Danny and Leann are GRACIOUSLY allowing her to leave their home to come work at ours. (It was their idea-- I am not a thief.)

I love Naomi. She's cheerful, and funny. She's an incredibly hard worker. She's beautiful (obviously)! She's learning to speak English as we're learning to speak Creole-- so we're hoping to meet somewhere in the middle.

I couldn't be more excited to have her with us. Expect much news to come of Naomi and her part in our family!

Psalm 121

A Pilgrim Song
1-2 I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

3-4 He won't let you stumble,
your Guardian God won't fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel's
Guardian will never doze or sleep.

5-6 God's your Guardian,
right at your side to protect you—
Shielding you from sunstroke,
sheltering you from moonstroke.

7-8 God guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always.

Great news story done on the HCH!

I love this new video. Feel like it completely catches it!

Friday, April 17, 2009

"How do you know he loves you?"

So remember that song in "Enchanted?"

This is how I know...

http://i-jat.blogspot.com/2009/04/come-home-soon-baby.html

What's it Like? part 4

What's it like to introduce your family and friends to Haiti-- this country you love with every piece of your being?

It's a bit nerve-wracking honestly. You're praying and secretly hoping everyone (and by everyone I mean the Haitian people AND the American people) is on their best behavior. You're trying to give them an idea of some of your experiences while at the same time, wanting them to see everything with their own fresh new eyes.

It's wanting to share all that's going on around them (that you're aware of)-- stuff you've learned over the past four years you've had back and forth to this place-- but you're not sure how it would "translate" on a first trip.

It's getting super-excited when they get super-excited, and trying not to be defensive when they are less than excited. There's a desire at a gut level for them to really "GET" it, and begin to love this place, as we do. And you see that happening... but there's also a fear that it's not-- or that (as it is with so many missions teams) it won't "stick."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Name dropping-- so you'll be impressed and all...

Okay, this is a stretch BUT...

Wyclef Jean is totally my neighbor.

Well... not EXACTLY.

Well, not really at all.

BUT, there's a house that's next to mine (well, NOT next to ours, but caty corner to mine) that Wyclef Jean rented last year for the Red bulls to stay in when they were there doing some humanitarian work.

So I have been telling people that Wyclef is my neighbor and I am pretty sure we're all going to hang with Brad and Angelina together some weekends... Cause you know, they're tight and all.

You know me... suffering for the gospel...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April 15, 2009 update

Hello from Haiti!

This is Gwenn here. I am in Haiti as a part of a team of 11 people comprised of my family and friends and we are getting everything ready down here in Jacmel for our move. It is SO exciting. I finally was able to see our new house and drive our new truck! It's a dream.

With a lot of elbow grease, an unanticipated kitchen remodel (LOTS of water damage), 3 gallons of bleach, 25 gallons of paint, hardcore weeding, some masonry repair, power washing, and just general hard work-- it is looking great. I LOVE this house. I REALLY love this house. It is going to be perfect for our family and our family to be! I am incredibly grateful for the hard work of this team, plus several local missionaries, and community members who have come out to give of their time and talents to make our home comfortable.

I have to tell you, even though I really miss Nick and my boys (Nia is here with me), I am grateful to be here at this time. It's nice to move down knowing that our living space is so well prepared for us! It also came at a good time as I was starting to get overwhelmed with the grief of goodbyes. But God, being so gracious, knew exactly what I needed, and nearly the moment I walked off the plane, I remembered the unspeakable joy it is for me to be in this country. I love Haiti. I especially love Jacmel. I love the entire HCH family (about 40+ of them these days between children and staff!) I love being a part of this journey on which God has called us.

Please pray for the remainder of our trip. Please pray we'd get done all that needs to be done in time. (It's looking good that we will!) Please pray for our safety as we travel to Port Au Prince on Saturday to work on cleaning our apartment where we'll stay during language training. Pray for easy travel with no interruptions. I *may* be driving for the first time in Port... Yikes! (We're staying in a guest house there.) Pray that there are no complications with our flight on Sunday afternoon.

Please pray for our family. The next time we update you we will ALL be in Haiti. For good. Wow. At times it felt like this time wouldn't ever arrive. But we're extra thankful for you as we think about the future, but we're also extra sad as we grieve the loss of regular contact with our friends, family, and church in the US.

Please pray for our initial transition-- we fly from Raleigh to Haiti on April 27!

Please pray that God would provide the remainder of funds we still need and that we will be able to live within our budgeted means.

We love you all. Thank you for your part in making this dream God planted in our hearts blossom.

Always grateful,
Gwenn (and Nick + the kiddos too!)

HCH Mangine! Check it out!

Vicki paints Nia's "loft" (it's actually a salmon color even though it looks orange in this pic...)

My sister-in-law Kristi prunes the hedges with a leatherman. (Nothing like the right tool for the job, eh?)

Our new truck! Woo Hoo!

John and Mikey work on building kitchen cabinets.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I miss Nick.

Dang, I miss him.

Haiti is great, but I miss Nick. We're working on the house.

Lots going on, but just finally got online here...

Maybe more tomorrow.

Btw- I miss Nick.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Kay Mwen (my house)

Checko out our new house, Haitian Children's Home 2!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Yard sale (well, yard "give") tomorrow

The rest of the stuff is free.

Come to our place (garage) between 7-10AM and take what you want.

There's some kitchen stuff, some kids stuff, some... well, I don't really know what stuff.

Just come and get it. It's all free. And then what's left at 10:00AM is going to the Durham Rescue Mission.

Email me (nickandgwenn@gmail.com) for my address if you don't know where it is.

If you don't have an over-inflated sense of what your crap is worth...

... you can sell things QUICKLY on Craigslist.

:)

I am finishing up the last load of wash and then we're getting rid of our washer and dryer.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

What's it like? part 3

What's all this like knowing your days in the good ole' USA are numbered? That tonight is your last night in "your" home?

It's being REALLY, REALLY excited every time you think about it, but usually not nervous. Until today. And then out of the blue, in Walmart in front of the rat/mice bait, roach traps, etc. that you're loading up on... a wave of nervousness overtakes you that is so dramatic, you think you're going to barf. You LITERALLY gag as if you're going to barf, but not because you're sick... all of a sudden, you're just nervous! So you try to call your husband. Twice. But he doesn't pick up, so you call your best girlfriend-- you know the one, the one you can tell pretty much anything-- and just come clean about how all of a sudden you feel like you're going to puke because you're so nervous.

And her answer? "Good. You're supposed to feel that way."

Which, actually... felt good to hear.

She talks you down, and then you can get on with your day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A book you NEED to read.

http://www.amazon.com/Crime-Monstrous-Face-Face-Modern-Day/dp/0743290070

I just finished the first section (about my beloved Haiti) and dude, this book has ALREADY changed me.

Talk about some holy discontent... holy smokes.

Wow. Just, Wow.

Read it. I mean it. Read it.

The only criticism of having an ebook reader

Is that it makes it REALLY easy to buy books. Like clicking one button. Not so with regular old books. You have to go to the library or the store.

It could turn into a fiscal problem in my case.

Because in the middle of the night when you have insomnia, you might end up downloading a new book. Or two. Or three. (Hey back off, one of them was the Bible.)

What's it Like? part 2

What's it like to be leaving for Haiti in just a few days knowing that when you return, you only have one week-- nearly to the HOUR to pack up your family and leave the country for good?

Thanks for asking.

It means you wake up in the middle of the night with your heart RACING because there is so much to do and you don't know when it's going to get done. So you get up and start a load of laundry and just have at it. At 3AM. And you realize it's going to be a LONG day.

It means you're making do with no table and no couch, no bookshelves, etc. since you've been Craigslisting everything. It means you want to list more on Craigslist, but you decide against it because it's just too much dang work and you're just out of energy for it. So you decide to quit and let it all go for free this weekend. It means your daughter sits sucking her thumb (that she HAD quit sucking) inches from the TV (which is sitting on the ground because the TV cabinet is gone) where Noggin (ie "preschool on TV") blares for nearly every waking hour.

It means every house in the room is a mess with clutter that didn't make the cut for packing. So you're not really sure what to do with it all, and you consider just throwing it all away. Just getting some huge trash bags and throwing it ALL in there-- papers, dirty clothes, half empty lotion bottles, shoes, couch pillows... whatever is just sitting around. And the jury is still out. You *might* do that.

It means having an empty pantry because you've decided you're pretty much done cooking since most of your pots and pans and dishes are packed up, so you pack up all your food to give away.

It means people ask what they can do to help, and you JUST DON'T KNOW because you're just trying to get through the task at hand.

It means all that. And more.

And it means you can't spend anymore time blogging because the dryer just buzzed.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Breaking News! Important news about Sony eBook reader!

Nick got a Sony 505 model ebook reader from his company as a goodbye present. So now we each have one. Which is great, because he kept borrowing mine when I was going to read and it was irritating me.

But here's the weird thing--
he got me the 700 model, which is supposedly an upgrade, as it has touchscreen and highlighting capabilities, a built-in reading light, etc.

HOWEVER, the screen on the 505 is much easier to read.

So, the bottom line-- they are both GREAT products, but if I was going to suggest one to buy for straight reading, I'd go with the 505. You'll save $50 over the 700 and it is easier to read.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Under the couch. Subtitle: Why our family is gross.

So we got rid of our couch today. (So it's floor-sitting at the Mangine-house!)
But it was disgusting to move the couch.

Here's what was under there.
Train track pieces (WHICH ARE ALREADY PACKED DANGIT!) books, crayons, bath toys, cars, airplanes, a case of Christmas cd's, a puzzle piece, a pacifier, some pens, a 9 volt battery, hair rubber bands, a mirror, a lollipop stick, popcorn, cereal, a compass, various scraps of paper, a Mr. Potato Head arm (ALSO already packed! grrr.), some change (real and play), some bobby pins, a mancala piece and a bottle cap.

We have only lived here 11 months people. We are gross.

Our free garage "sale"

So, I've been doing so much craigslisting that we don't really have enough left for a garage sale. (I haven't been listing all the craigslist stuff on the blog recently-- sorry... it's hard enough to keep up with all the sellers...

BUT...
Instead of doing a yardsale this weekend where it takes a ton of time to price and bring our stuff somewhere (since we're in an apartment) we're having a FREE garage sale. Well, it's not really a sale. It's a give.

Here's the deal. I am going to keep trying until Thursday to sell things on Craigslist. Whatever I don't sell, will be free for the taking on Saturday morning from about 7AM-10AM. Just stop by our apartment and it will all be set up in the garage. And it will all be free. After which, it's ALL going to the Durham Rescue mission. We WILL be done by Saturday afternoon. Oh yes, we WILL.

So- Thursday or Friday I will post a pic of the garage. First come first served. I am not setting anything aside for anyone... just be here on Sat.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

What's it like?

What's it like to be at your favorite place in the US and know you're only going to be there one more time before you move to another country?

Thanks for asking.

It's hard. Everything is magnified. The worship is deeper. The message is clearer. You wish the connect time would never end so you could greet more people. You don't want to leave when it is over. You think in your head, "What the heck and I doing?" and "WHY would anyone walk away from this place?"

But then in your heart you think about this place. You think about how it's your favorite place in Haiti. You remember you don't just learn about redemption, you see it played out before your eyes. You don't just dream about being part of something bigger than yourself, you actually are.

But then the thought of leaving all your friends and extended family back "home" makes you want to ball. And you do for a while. And you're scared that you'll be forgotten. And you're scared out of your mind that you'll not be able to provide for your family-- in this case, all 30 of them -- cause you know, you have to rely on God and others for every single dollar-- you can't do anything to "earn" it.

And the closer the move gets, the more things go wrong. You feel like a fool trying to explain the concept of spiritual warfare to people who don't believe in the spiritual, so you just keep your mouth shut and pray for the strength to endure.

You ache for your children. You act strong for them when they are sad about leaving their home, and their toys and their friends. And you try to explain that they will have a new home, and new toys and new friends. But in your head, you're crying out to God that YOU'RE sad about leaving your home and your toys and your friends.

And then you remember that this country breathes life into you. It helps you experience life exactly the way you believe you were supposed to live it. And there's this "overwhelming yes that supersedes the no's..."

But it still hurts like hell.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Literally.

I took Nia and Presley to Chuck E. Cheese tonight and that place LITERALLY gave me a headache. Literally. Not as in figuratively-literally. (Literally.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

YOU MUST READ THIS! Exciting announcement!

I have something to announce that's REALLY exciting to me!

A woman in our church is holding a children's consignment sale at the end of April and it's going to be supporting our move to the HCH in THREE significant ways:
  • 25% of what the sale earns will be donated to HCH to help with new home!
  • You can shop EARLY on the first day of the sale (9-11AM) by bringing a donated item for HCH (see http://www.thekidsco-op.com/Products.html)
  • The Kids Co-op is letting us select clothing for our soon to be new kids from the donated items after the sale!
So, with all this in mind... how can you help?
THIS SALE WILL BE HELD AT CROSSPOINTE CHURCH, 6911 Carpenter Fire Station Road, Cary, NC 27519

I am so excited about this! Please check it out!
http://www.thekidsco-op.com/

Craigslist items o' the day

Craft table: $15
http://raleigh.craigslist.org/fuo/1105164519.html

Set of two small tables: $15- sale pending
http://raleigh.craigslist.org/fuo/1105177840.html

Aluminum shelves: $10-sale pending
http://raleigh.craigslist.org/fuo/1105186932.html

Hardwood side table: $15
http://raleigh.craigslist.org/fuo/1105203926.html

Television cabinet: $25.00
http://raleigh.craigslist.org/fuo/1105693168.html

Bagging a 14er

So, when we were in CO, our friend Andrew was telling us about the many fourteeners in Colorado. He's "bagged" a few himself.

Today I am attempting the same thing. Though not with climbing... with laundry. I estimate I have 14 loads. Now, that might seem like a lot, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
  • I don't have one of those fancy-schmancy high efficiency washing machines like all you rich people out there.
  • I have three kids.
  • I HATE laundry and let it pile up. (Doing loads of socks/underwear when necessary.)
  • We are between seasons (so therefore more than one season in the drawers.)
  • I need to wash sheets. BADLY.
  • I am packing and only want to pack clean stuff... Blankets and whatnot.
  • Josiah is puking today. (so that's kind of a wild card-- I might actually end up bagging a fifteener.)
So, let's see how many it ACTUALLY is. It will be a fun little game. So far I have two loads through, and two loads going. (one in the washer, one in the dryer.) Because Josiah is puking, we're not going anywhere today, so I can just keep it going.

And by the way, sometime ask Nick how high of a peak he's bagged. :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Oh. My. Goodness. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

So as I mentioned, there was this pesky $7,000 tax situation that sort of put a damper on all Mangine spending of late. (Again, ask me sometime about the Adoption Tax "Credit" when you're self-employed!)

So. My husband. He kind of rocks. I told him there was no way we could afford an expensive birthday gift for me this year and so don't even consider it. Then I sort of hinted (often) about a book I would like to have for my birthday. (The Secret Life of Bees-- just saw the movie and LOVED it.) So, that's what I was expecting as a birthday gift. A new book. (And to be honest, I wasn't even entirely sure he'd REMEMBERED it was my birthday coming up, so I reminded him two days ago and told him I'd be really irritated if he forgot. Cause you know, I am a nightmare like that.)

Little known to me, Nick contacted many of my family and friends and told them he wanted to get me a nice gift for my birthday, but we were sort of in a bit of a financial crisis (Don't forget to ask me sometime about the Adoption Tax "Credit" when you're self-employed!) So he basically went begging. He asked anyone who was thinking about getting me a gift to contribute to a bigger gift, which he TOTALLY GOT ME!

What is this mysterious gift?

Well thank you for asking.

A SONY E-BOOK READER!

FOR REAL.

I LOVE TO READ! I was bummed because I had to get rid of most of my books because of the whole "moving" issue. NOW I CAN READ TO MY HEART'S CONTENT! Especially because it comes with 100 classics I can choose for free. AND Google has over 500,000 ebooks in the public domain I can choose for free.

Sure, I am going to have to pay for newer books. But who cares. I would have to pay for newer books anyway! They are cheaper this way and NO SHIPPING COSTS!

SO THANK YOU to all of you who contributed:
Gretchen, Melody, Bev + Ken, Cathy Riley, Lori, Kris S, Andrew, Stephen + CC, Andrea-- and of course, Nick! (and anyone else who I might not be aware of.)

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

You TOTALLY made my day.

Me reading Anne of Green Gables to Nia.


EDITED TO ADD: Danny/Leann, Sandra/Nixon, etc... YOU CAN TOTALLY BORROW IT and won't have to wait for a team to come in to get a new bestseller!!!
I am about to jump out of my skin with excitement!

Craigslist etiquette lesson for the day

If you are a buyer and have asked a seller to meet you somewhere to deliver an item that you said you were going to purchase for a negotiated (and agreed upon) price, and then called back and asked the seller to come early, even though you KNEW she was meeting another buyer right afterward, and she does---

IT'S REALLY POOR ETIQUETTE TO OFFER A LOWER PRICE THAN THE ONE YOU'VE AGREED UPON ALREADY. AND THE SELLER HAS EVERY RIGHT TO NOT TAKE THE LOWER PRICE, AND SORT OF GIVE YOU A SNOTTY GLARE SINCE YOU'RE TRYING TO PULL A FAST ONE.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Nico's favorite colors

Tonight I overheard Nico telling Nia his favorite colors.

Apparently Nico's favorite colors are Spiderman, God, and airplanes.

One of them is one year old, one of them is four

April 1, 2009 Update-- T minus 26!

Wow! When I think of God bringing us this far, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. (And, honestly, just a little overwhelmed!)

26 busy days are left until our family relocates to Haiti. Here we go!

The past two weeks we've made a lot of headway in terms of practical tasks. We've started selling our furniture. By the way, not having a table/chairs when you have a one-year-old is not necessarily the best plan. :) But we're looking at it as an "adventure." Even so, it has been hard on the kids to say goodbye to so many things that have always been in their lives-- their toys, their bikes, their furniture... Nia especially has been getting a little weepy. What she doesn't know is that Nana has funded, and Danny Pye has arranged for there to be NEW bikes in Haiti for them. It's a surprise that is going really make them smile. Shhhhhh! Don't tell!

I wanted to let you know where we are in terms of funding, since many of you have asked recently. Honestly, with the tasks of the previous 2 weeks, we haven't had much time to think about it. We are about at the same place-- 90%+ of start-up expenses, and around 87% of on-going. Although with the economic climate we are, that number is not 100% firm, since we know of a few different people in crisis with their employment situation. So, like always, we know this is an on-going job of funding this mission. We "can" move at our current support level, but we'd appreciate prayers that God would provide the additional one-time and monthly amounts we need to be fully funded. We do plan on setting aside one day per week when we are in-country to work on raising finances.

In other news, just yesterday, we received Nico's US Passport! FINALLY. He's been home for over 20 months now-- it's ABOUT TIME! He's had a Haitian passport and greencard since he's been home, but it's always been our desire to make the adoption process final in the US, and make sure he's a US citizen prior to our move. Just in case. And now, finally, he is! It was a LONG, complicated process. (He came in on a residency visa rather than a citizenship visa like many foreign adopted children.) We still do have one more official step in the process to receive his certificate of citizenship. Which is more hoops to jump through, and of course, more cost. But... oh well. He's MORE than worth it! The irony is not lost on us though, that we are collecting documentation and doing paperwork for Nick and I to become Haitian (residents), while we're trying to help Nico become American.

In just over a week I (Gwenn) am traveling with a team of friends and family down to Haiti to work on our house and get things ready. I am excited to see (for the first time) our new home and vehicle. I am excited for our friends and family to see where we're going to live and experience Haiti. I can't wait. During that time, Nick and the kids will begin our stay with his parents so we can get things wrapped up at the apartment! That's where we will be during our next update-- Me in Haiti, Nick in NC.

We've been asked lately if there's "anything we need." We were very fortunate to receive SO many items from the Kidspointe supply drive, that we are actually in pretty good shape in terms of things we are collecting now. But there have been a lot of "last minute" things we've needed to buy so we can always use giftcards to Target, Walmart, etc. Since they don't expire, we can use them now or later (online.) As we think about the transition, we will learn to live with Haitian items in time, but will probably be trying to ship some American stuff to help us while we learn how to do that... ie-- diapers, razors, shampoo... etc. While a lot of these "American items" are available in Port Au Prince, (about 3 hours from where we will live.) We will pay a PREMIUM for American items in Haiti. (Probably about 3-4 times as much.) So we're trying to stock up now so we're prepared.

We're also going to be listing our vehicles for sale very soon. We have a White 2002 Ford Focus Station Wagon with 111,000 miles on it. (We're going to start by asking $2,275.) And we have a Green Kia Sedona EX minvan with about 96,000 miles on it. (We're going to start by asking $3,850.) If you know anyone local looking for used vehicles, let us know! Both vehicles are in pretty decent condition, and we will disclose everything we know about them that is "wrong" with them ahead of time! (And just FYI-- we're starting with around the Kelly Blue Book Trade-In Value for the cars.)

Thanks for sharing this journey with us. We need your prayers and support and remain SO grateful. We know we face many unknowns in the next month. As we walk in this plan God has for us, we ask for your prayers for the following things:
  • God's spirit of peace to rest upon us.
  • God's provision for our family.
  • God's protection for our bodies and our hearts.
  • Our hearts to be turned towards God at all times.

With very grateful hearts,
Gwenn + Nick (and all three of our crazy kiddos!)

The name story: Why Nico's legal name isn't Nico

Nico showing you his new passport (with sensitive information edited out.)

Nico was born in Haiti as MICHEL, Josue. (We'd say it Josue Michel--- Michel being his last name.) He didn't have a middle name.

When we went through the adoption process, we had planned to "rename" him Nicolas Josue Mangine. But he came home as Josue Michel Mangine. (As we apparently didn't submit his "new name" at the correct portion of the process, but we didn't know that.) So he was known at home here in NC as "Nico" (after Nick, of course... cause what Dad doesn't want a son named after him?) And we thought it would be more significant to name Nico after Nick than our biological child. We just liked the idea and Biblical precedent of name changing."

So once Nico came to the US with a Haitian passport and greencard, he was known as "Josue Michel Mangine." When we did the re-adoption work (which, in NC takes well OVER a year... don't get me started.) We COULD HAVE changed his name then, but we weren't sure if the whole process-- getting a new passport, social security card, etc. could be done by the time we moved. And then there was the issue of his Haitian passport, adoption papers, and legal status. (Because we were just informed that Haiti now allows dual-citizenship.) We were concerned of the "ramifications" if we changed his name-- now his name wouldn't match on all his documentation.

So, for practicality, and trying to protect his chances to preserve his Haitian citizenship, we decided to not change his name. So, legally, he is Josue Michel Magine. To us, he is Nico, our child we named after his father.

Will his name be legally changed at some point? Possibly, but not probably. It DOES get confusing because we also have a kid named Josiah. So we have a Josiah and a Josue. That was just poor planning on our part. We really need to clarify who we are talking about when we go to the pediatrician or something, because they will often get the files confused. And I have always not really liked when people name a kid something entirely different than what they are going to call it... But we also have a child named Virginia that we call Nia. So it's not TOO far off.

So bottom line-- we DESIRE for him to be named Nicolas Josue Mangine. But he probably will never be legally known as that. He seems to be "better off" in the long run to stay Josue.

Clear as mud?