Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's a boy--2 days before his due date.

Last night Jean Louis moved in with us. Sure, he's bunking the next two days on the couch since we're not in the new place until Tuesday and don't have a room for him... but it was time. He was having some trouble figuring out where he fits in and having trouble sleeping at Nixon and Sandra's house. They said he cried all night long the night before last and slept in the shower because he was scared. Last night when we went to take him back there after spending the day with us, he just laid on the couch crying. For like an hour. Nick and I realized that he needed to be with us so we decided he could come last night. That seemed to rally him a bit. Then we went over to pack up his stuff and say goodbye (and thank you) to Nixon and Sandra and the boys. And he collapsed into tears again before we'd left.

We got him set up on our couch (and Nick next to him on the floor since he didn't want to be alone) and I said prayers with him. And he was still kind of whimpering. And then we had our first real breakthrough. He let me sit next to him and stroke his head and kiss his cheek and tell him how happy we are he's in our family. This is huge. This is the kid that won't let me touch him. I just sat there for maybe 20 minutes doing that as he drifted off to sleep. He's been sleeping like a rock ever since. Nick's out there just in case he needs anything, but I keep waking up to go check on him.

We already love this kid like crazy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I love my life.

I seriously cannot imagine living a better life.

I LOVE where I live. I love what I get to do. I love our kids (currently 7 with one more on the way next week). I love our staff-- Nahomie, Esther, Hugues, and Francette. I didn't know life could be so sweet.

I also LOVE our new house. We closed EARLY on our rental house today... four days early to be precise. For NO extra money. That may have never happened to someone in the history of this country. Ever.

There are many wonderful features about the house, but my favorite is this private balcony off the master bed/bathroom... Can't get to it with out going through a locked gate in the front of the house. A locked gate at the front door. A locked bedroom door. And a locked balcony door.
Agg! Lots to do and say and be-- but more pics will be coming,

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Nia's nativity

Today I was packing up toys since we're moving to our bigger house very soon. (Tuesday-- woot woot!) If you have kids then you are aware that packing up toys always makes children NEED the toys they haven't played with in FOREVER. So today the kids were playing with the Little People. Not as in the Roloff family, as in the Fisher Price toys.

Nia came to get me and showed me how she had set up the people as a nativity scene. She put a lot of thought into it. I mean sure, Jesus is an Asian kid with blue not-so-swaddled clothes. But she really set it up nicely.

She told me that she chose the "three kings" by choosing people that had something in their hands to offer the baby. And that the farmer was kind of like a shepherd. Sounded reasonable to me.

And, of course, being a Haitian missionary and mom, this made me beam with pride. Both at her Biblical thought processes and at her ability to degaje (make do.)

As I said, I was packing at the time and I had happened to know exactly where the Christmas boxes were and quickly located the play nativity scene for some more realistic play. (Because I like to crush my children's imaginations like that.) She was THRILLED. She played for a long time, acting out the whole Christmas story with the figures. She got a little hacked off that there wasn't an "Elizabeth" though.
I love this little girl. It's going to be sad when she doesn't want to be a little girl anymore.

PS-- I am not sure what is up with the outfit/headband. She told me it was her special Thanksgiving clothes. Sure. Why not? Nick, of course, had to take it too far and say, "actually Nia, I am pretty sure the Pilgrims wore dresses pretty similar to that... well, the well-dressed ones did anyway." She just rolled her eyes at him. Come to think of it, I think I did too...

If only it were so easy...

Thanks to Shelly Mills for sending this out on fb...

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Jean Louis

This kid is a TRIP. I love him like crazy, but he's going to be tough for a while I think. We've been spending the afternoons with him. He REALLY, REALLY wants to like us, and he does, but it's very hard for him. He's not big on physical touch, which is very different from our girls. Well, that's not entirely true, he likes to shake hands or give you a little punch or slap on the arm, but he doesn't want you to do it to him. In fact, he's got cat-like reflexes and will bob and weave so you DON'T touch him. Like many kids with abandonment issues, he doesn't really make eye contact and holds a grudge for a LONG time if you have to correct him. Even so, he's eager to please and seems to learn from his mistakes... which, really, are great qualities. Also, like many children who've lived on the streets, he's got a begging mentality. He's always asking for things and then when you let him use something, he wants to know if he can keep it. Which, in his defense, probably tough waters to navigate because he IS getting a bunch of stuff that he's never had before-- new clothes and shoes and books and toys. Why WOULDN'T he just ask for everything he sees? -- ie. our dishes, a raw egg, Josiah's toys, the desserts I made for Thanksgiving, etc. etc. etc.

He's hilarious. He's always got a smile on his face and is always making people laugh. He's very capable. Though he's never been to school he's intelligent; he learns things quickly. He's got a willing spirit and he's a hard worker. Yesterday after lunch, without being asked, he picked up the broom and swept out our whole compound. The day before that he asked Nick if he could go up into the coconut tree in our yard and cut down the coconuts. Nick, not being the child's MOTHER, said yes. So I wake up to hearing a bunch of WHACKING and Jean Louis is cutting open a couple dozen coconuts with a machete. Yeah, the mother in me didn't love that... but I also have to acknowledge that climbing 30 feet up into a tree and using machetes are regular things that 12 year olds around here do...

Looking forward to him joining us 24/7 on Nov 30th!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The parable of the mosquito net

I am hoping this doesn't sound heretical. I don't mean it in this way. I feel like upon waking this morning, God gave me a specific idea in my head about his kingdom.

So then, to what shall we compare the kingdom of God?

I (Gwenn, not God) tell you this-- the kingdom of God is like a big net, that can be draped over your bed at night to keep out the mosquitoes. The mosquitoes will still be there in the room with you. They will swarm the net. In the morning you will see dozens and dozens of mosquitoes that died trying to work their way in. But you will be safe.

But do not be deceived. You need to properly drape the net each night-- it takes a few extra minutes when you're already tired. You need to tuck it under the mattress so mosquitoes can't work their way in. You need to take the time to tie up the net every morning or critters somehow work their way in during the day.

You need to deal with the fact that sometimes sleeping under a net makes you feel a bit confined and it will also make you feel a little bit hotter during an already hot night. You will want to escape it.

You need to keep your entire body under the net all night-- you can't stick just a little bit of you out of it and thing you'll be safe.

And above all, you need to make sure that before you go to bed there aren't any mosquitoes that are hiding inside the net because it doesn't matter if you keep out 2 dozen malaria-infested mosquitoes if one is trapped inside with you.

I will leave it to you to draw the parallels...

Monday, November 23, 2009

So great news!

Remember when I was talking about Hugue?

Dude, we totally hired him to work with us when we move to the new house!

I am so pumped!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sweet. Endearing. Pathetic. Culture shock "episode" #3

I am sitting here reading about Scott's trip to Ghana and Nia comes in with a magazine positively SQUEALING about the Prevention magazine she's thumbing through.

Nia: "Mom! We KNOW her! We've seen an "episode" about her on TV!"

Me: (all groggy and distracted) "What?"

Nia: "Look we KNOW her! She was on an EPISODE on TV when we were in America. We KNOW her!"

Me: (looking at the picture of Sally Field) "What do you mean by "episode?""

Nia: (with ridiculous joy) "You know, like the episodes between TV shows. We've seen this episode! This one was for Boniva. Don't you remember it? Don't you remember HER?"

Me: "Oh, do you mean commercials?"

Nia: "Yes! That's it. Commercials. I have SEEN this commercial on TV!"

Me: (incredulous at what 6 months with no TV can do to a kid) "That's great, Nia."

TIME PASSES. Nia continues to thumb through the magazine. I continue reading about Scott in Ghana.

Nia: "MOM! Look! I have seen THIS EPISODE TOO! Do you remember it?"

Me: (Sigh) "Yup. I remember them both."

Friday, November 20, 2009

The balding saga continues...

So remember a few weeks ago when I posted that my hair was falling out? Well it continues to... at a semi-alarming rate. I have never had thin hair before, and now I do. And getting thinner all the time. Therefore, yesterday I decided to consult Dr. Google to see what he had to say about it.

From what I found, there are several causes of hair loss, including:
  1. Seasons-- more falls out in the fall. (isn't it ironic, don'tcha think?...)
  2. Poor diet
  3. Aging
  4. Intense stress
  5. Serious illness in the last 6 months
Let's see...
  1. check
  2. check
  3. check
  4. check
  5. check
Well crap. I am about to be bald.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

So you know those apple stickers that come free when you buy an Ipod?

Nick's a dork.

Chub rub update.

It's back.

It was gone before I went to the states... I could wear skirts sans shorts.

But no longer.

I don't know how this happened!?!

Perhaps it's the increase in the size of my thighs over the past few weeks as I ate anything that wasn't nailed down (and maybe a couple things that were.) Perhaps it's the not wearing skirts for a few weeks... like when I started playing guitar it really hurt my fingertips but then I built up callouses and it didn't hurt after a while. Maybe it's the same thing. (Sorry if that caused you an unpleasant visual.) But seriously folks, back at square one??? Grrr...

HCH Mangine Update-- November 19, 2009

Hello all!

I am writing today from the comfort of my beautiful new kitchen table while my kids are working on their afternoon lessons beside me. Thanks to all of you who gave over and above to make this table a great place not just to eat, but to gather for any number of things. I LOVE IT!

We returned from our furlough in the US yesterday and words cannot describe how VERY MUCH we loved coming home. Don’t get me wrong, it was a GREAT trip. We loved seeing so many family members and friends, but to quote Dorothy Gail from the Wizard of Oz, “There is no place like home.” Seriously. It’s great being home. We collapsed into bed last night absolutely exhausted, but SO glad to be back here. Weird huh? It’s only been six months, but our concept of home has changed so much.

We did a lot and saw a lot of people on our trip—spending some time in central NC, some time up in central NY and then also some time on the Outer Banks. Thank you to all of you who made our furlough so wonderful. We appreciate you opening your homes, lending us your cars, preparing us such great food, buying us fun new presents, and just generally loving us well.

A lot of people have been asking us what it was like to be back in the States after Haiti for the past 6 months. The two words that come to mind to describe it are comfortable and overwhelming! It was very nice to enjoy some of the comforts we never realized we took for granted while living in the states—things like being able to brush your teeth with tap water and having machine washed/dried clothing and sheets. And, of course, hot showers. It was also overwhelming to have SO many choices on so many things when we’re used to so few.

We ate A LOT of furlough. In fact today Fritzie said to me, “Mommy Gwenn, ou pi gwo konye a.” (which means, “you’re bigger now.”) True story. All five of us are. And she said it as a compliment, which is hilarious if you ask me.

Our kids thoroughly enjoyed visiting the US—they got to do a lot of fun things. Seeing grandparents and cousins, Monkey Joe’s and Chick fil A… they enjoyed it all. They weren’t particularly looking forward to returning. However, they are also doing very well being home. They were getting tired of being pent up in the house, especially while Tropical Storm Ida visited while we were on the Outer Banks.

Danny met us with our three girls yesterday when he came to pick us up at the airport. It was a long ride with 10 people in the cab of the truck on the way home, but I am SO glad they came. I just kept smiling and exclaiming over and over how glad I was to be home.

Mikey and Georgette (and Nahomie and Esther!) did a fantastic job of running the house in our absence. They were very good to our children, and led well through some tough circumstances, namely the death of our dog, Bigsby. We’re so grateful to them.

Today I got to meet our newest addition, Jean Louis. He’s staying with Nixon and Sandra until we move into our new home on December 1. He’s AWESOME. I love this kid already. He’s got an engaging smile and is a charmer. A very active little boy, I can’t help but dream about the time when we’re able to live on our land in Raymond, where he can run and jump and play to his heart’s content. Someday…

As we settle back into “normal” here at home, it will be anything BUT normal. We’re moving into our new (rented) house in less than two weeks… which is also when our new boys will be coming home to live with us—Jean Louis and Jerry. We’re going to be picking up some extra responsibilities with children’s church and Friday night church during the holidays. We’ll be hiring a new nanny and preparing our home for the Advent/Christmas season.

Thank you for your prayers and support. We need you and you are very much appreciated. As we celebrate Thanksgiving with our family, team and staff next week, know that we’re ever-mindful of the way God has used YOU in our lives to bless us and provide for our growing family.

May you experience good times together with your families as you gather and I encourage you to thank our God, without whom nothing is possible.

With a grateful heart,

Gwenn, for all the Mangines

Nick, Gwenn

Nia, Nico, Josiah

Fritzie, Wildarne, Prisca

Jean Louis, Jerry

Nahomie, Francette and Esther

Nick and I enjoy the snow up in NY!

My kids and niece, Evie, play with Grandad!

The Mangine cousins

With our friends, the Gilliams. (Presley, in the purple shirt, is Nia's best friend.)

Our new house-- we're moving in December 1.

The three girls (Prisca, Wildarne and Fritzie) with Jean Louis!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Home again, home again. Jiggety jig.

I love being back home with the kids.

We've pulled the mattresses out and are having campout even though it's a school night. And we're eating trick or treat candy for dinner.

It is BEYOND joy I feel to be back here with the girls.

I was a bit worried about how our American kids would deal with coming back. Dude, America is like Disney World when you only visit once or twice a year. But even though they had a great time, they are also glad to be back. On the plane ride here I asked Nia how she felt about returning to Haiti and she said, "Well, I am going to miss America. But Haiti is where Prisca, Wildane and Fritzie are. So we need to live there." Well said Nia.

Speaking of Prisca, Wildarne, and Fritzie-- Danny brought them to the airport to pick us up. It was such a great surprise. My cheeks were tired from smiling.

Gotta go track down another Butterfinger...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Announcement!!! Two new HCH Mangine boys arriving soon!

Hey y'all! I am so happy to finally be OFFICIALLY announcing some GREAT news! We have two new boys joining our family in early December!

Please meet:
Jean Louis, approximately age 10

And Jerry, approximately age 8!

We will be sharing more soon! Please pray for them as their hearts are getting ready to join our family!

Yay for boys!

Because of our FAITHFUL homechurch family at Crosspointe, these two new boys (and now our girls too) are all FULLY SPONSORED! But not to worry, if you're interested in sponsoring a kid, the Pye's still have some openings. (And we'll have more after the first of the year!)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Our first lost tooth!

And surprisingly, it's Nico, not Nia. At six, she's incredibly perturbed that her FOUR year old brother lost a tooth, but after the initial selfishness had to surrender to tooth fairy excitement. The tooth fairies up here in the US are generous. $2 in Susan B. Anthony coins. His next one is sure to earn something closer to 1 gourde.

Here's the proud new lisp-owner.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Clothing Drive Update- Photo Barf!

Several weeks ago, I put out an email to all of you, my faithful readers mentioning that we'd soon have new kiddos coming and I needed some clothes + shoes. Well you responded! Below is a photo essay of the 5 hours of sorting that ensued with me and Nick, my mom, my two sisters, my brother-in-law, my nieces and my nephew.

This is what we started with-- a huge jumbled pile... half of it collected in Raleigh, half on the Outer Banks.

The whole family getting in on the action-- my sister Gretchen, Jon, Abbie, Katie, Denise...

Me, sorting all the BRAND NEW STUFF Becky sent from Old Navy.

My mom's dog, Chancy, got in on the fun... not really.

Melody helped too!

Nick got tired after a while.

Katie cracks up at some of the things that were donated.

We're getting closer.

Ahhh! Sorted by gender/size into bins...

And bags...

And this faithful lady, stuck around helping until the end.

Well, he was TECHNICALLY there too...

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! Our kids (and staff) will be VERY well dressed!

And as a side PSA-- do NOT buy Glad Forceflex bags. Out of the 15 or so of them we used tonight, about 13 of the handles broke. Huge disappointment considering I paid extra for the extra "force" we'd be exerting...


A giant thank you to all of you who donated especially for this table. Thank you also to John Hancock and Mikey Rigel for building it. It was delivered this past week while we were gone...

I can't wait to get back to Haiti to eat meals with our *hem* ever-expanding family... hint, hint... big news coming. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Giving Thanks

So tomorrow is our family Thanksgiving, since we’re not going to be around our family when the ACTUAL Thanksgiving occurs.

In honor of the holiday my mom took out her “Giving Thanks” book where she records memories of who was there and what big events transpired.

This is Katie’s picture of the family from 2007.

What do you think she REALLY thinks about us all in our fat family?

And, hem, Katie, what part of the turkey is that you've drawn so intricately for us?

photo of the day

back together again...

I love the Indigo Girls. (been thinking of their song "back together again" lately)

But even more than that, I love being back together again with my sister, Melody. She's a dork. More than words can say in fact. But so am I. So we played beauty shop together and flat ironed our hair and did "glamor" shots on photo booth. (I use the word glamor very loosely.)

The kids are all in HEAVEN playing with cousins.

Can't wait until Gretchen arrives tonight so we can be dorks X 3.
So Leann wrote a funny post about living in Haiti. Check it out HERE:

Being as we ARE in America right now, I offer the following rebuttal:

You know you ARE in America when:
  • You eat some left over garlic bread, a few "fun size" Butterfingers, and some pumpkin spice coffee for breakfast.
  • 7 people travel for 11 hours in a van with 7 seats, and you constantly think about how crowded you are.
  • You see in a mall window that you can purchase "America's BEST-fitting, premium jeans" from ONLY $54.50! (Sounds like a deal, eh?)
Just a sampling of what I've been feeling... more to come.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The comfy chair

Nick's brother KC and his wife Kristi have this chair. It's not really a chair, more of a chaise lounge. It is honestly, without question, the MOST comfortable chair I've ever sat/reclined/slept/etc in.

I LOVE this chair.

It's the perfect amount of soft and the perfect amount of squishy.

There are many things I am going to miss about NY state-- my niece and nephew, KC + Kristi, their farm, the animals, the snow, Kristi's pies, Bev + Ken's new house... but on this trip, the chair wins out.

Tomorrow morning we awake early before heading over to Crossroads to visit with them and thank them for all the ways they've supported us over the past year. If you're a CNY person, come on out... we'd love to meet more of you in person.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A letter to Fritzie, Prisca, and Wildarne

Bonjou Fritzie, Prisca, ak Wildarne,

Nou sonje ou! ANPIL, ANPIL, ANPIL.

Nou kontan oz Etazani. Nou ap vizite fre Nick kounye a. Li genyen anpil bet. Li genyen:

Yon GWO kochon. Kochon rele, "Freedom"

Anpil Poul

2 Chat

Yon sel bef epi anpil mouton. Bef rele, "Paul Zipper"

Nou fret anpil. Nou genyen nej la!

Nou manje bon manje avek fanmi nou.

Papi Nick renmen manje poul nan Chick fil A.

Nia avek Papi Nick jwenn nan yon ti machin.

Epi tout timoun renmen jwenn nan merchant "Lego" a.

Papi Nick, Josiah, Grandma, avek Nico manje spaghetti Italian.

Nou ap we ou apre 2 semen. Nou sonje ou. Nou renmen ou.

Nou espere ou pap fe dezod pou Mikey avek Georgette. :)

Papi Nick, Manman Gwenn, Nia, Nico ak Josiah...