Sunday, May 29, 2011

different

One of the questions we get asked most often is, "How do your American kids do in Haiti?"

Usually I just say, "Great." (It's the American in me, I can't help it.)

And they are great. That's not a lie. But it's also not the WHOLE truth. Third culture kids (TCKs) are kind of a breed of their own. Much like there are (at least) 4 kinds of missionaries, there are a few pretty characteristic kinds of TCKs. I don't have time to think about classifications of TCKs, so let's just say that a lot of the time the "kind" of missionary the parent is determines the "kind" of TCK you'll have.

I FULLY understand that my kids have their TCK quirks. Usually these quirks crack us up (like Josiah not wanting to eat Chicken McNuggets at McDonalds in the States because "they didn't have any bones to chew on" and instead wanted spaghetti with hotdogs and ketchup.) But sometimes they twang us a bit.

Here's an example of something that happened with Nia yesterday. (And really, most of my examples of these big twangs are with Nia since she was the oldest when we moved to Haiti, and our only kid who has still lived longer in the states than in Haiti.)

It was Saturday, which has become "Beach Day with the Brown Family." The Brown family is this awesome ex-pat family that's been in Jacmel for a little over 3 months. They are super chill and we're trying to make them like us as Nick and I sort of have "missionary crushes" on them. But I digress.

So it was beach day and usually after the beach on Saturdays the girls wash their hair. (They can't wash it too often because the water is very hard and makes their hair very brittle.) So after the beach, they spend a good amount of time washing and de-sanding their hair. I had the idea this past week to ask the kids to take their hair out of braids BEFORE the beach because I was thinking that their hair would collect less sand if it wasn't in braids. So they all took their braids out before the beach, picked out their hair a bit, and this was the result.


I loved it. Prisca (far right) has the longest hair by far and really enjoyed making a giant fro. We laughed and joked and tried to make it bigger.

All the while, I wasn't aware that Nia was watching from nearby. I had just put up her hair for the beach (in an attempt to try to keep it out of her mouth... which is nearly impossible.) She came up to me after I took the pics of the girlies and said, "Mom, can you take a picture of me now?"

I said, "Sure."

And she said, "And then you can put up the picture of the girls and the picture of me on your blog and you can just call it "different." "

"different"


****

Moms don't have favorites. Well, actually that's not true except for in theory. They totally do have favorites, they just try to pretend they don't... For example I know (FOR A FACT) I am my mom's favorite AND my dad's favorite... just don't tell my sisters because I don't want them to feel sad.

So while, IN THEORY, moms don't have favorites, they will all admit that they love each child differently. There are a lot of gains we experience as a family by living in a different culture. But it's also becoming more and more clear that one of the losses is a feeling of cohesiveness at times. There are jokes and discussions my kids have sometimes that I JUST DON'T GET. There's plenty about blancs that a huge section of my family (including Josiah, who we are not sure is blanc or Haitian) just don't get. But we're all learning. And we're all growing. It sounds so cliche but it really is a journey, not a destination. We read this verse in church today and I thought it would be a good way to close.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. -Psalm 84:5

May we all have our hearts set on pilgrimage and not a destination.


I often want to barf when people say "love is colorblind." Because yeah, I just feel like it's STUPID to not realize there are differences and sometimes these differences cause people to feel isolated. Does that mean their shouldn't be interracial marriage or trans-racial adoption? No. Absolutely not. But (in my opinion) ignoring the fact that there are physical and cultural differences between races (and not learning about/honoring those differences) is a whole other kind of racism.




Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hotter than Haiti

It is so hot in Haiti right now.

How hot, you ask?

Hotter than I can ever remember. Now, I am aware that memory of discomfort is very subjective based on the rule of recency. It is this very selective memory that allows women to birth more than one baby in my opinion.

And speaking of birthing babies. It's so hot it's almost as uncomfortable as natural childbirth. (Not that I'd know personally, but probably at least as bad as childbirth with the spotty epidural and cervical tear I had with my 9lb 7oz monster, Josiah.)

I am aware that it is only May and the four hottest months of summer await us. This uncomfortable condition is exacerbated by the fact that I am out of my beloved Gold Bond Powder. This has caused two problems. First, it does not allow me the perceived momentary reprieve from the scalding heat that is Haiti. Second, it seems that the "medicated" part of the the powder is not a hoax. Ask me how I know? Oh, how nice of you to ask. It's because I have what appears to be a FUNGAL infection in my ARMPIT. (Before you barf, let me assure you it's far worse to have it than to imagine it.)

I am trying to figure out why this year seems so much hotter than the previous two years and here's what I came up with-- The first summer we'd been here for such a short amount of time that if we complained too much people might think we weren't cut out for Haiti. (And, therefore, we had to keep quiet to trick people into thinking we are, in fact, tough enough for Haiti.) So we muscled it out with only some light-hearted complaints that we made seem more like jokes and light-hearted sarcasm. The second year we were so freakin' out-of-our-minds-PTSD-crazy that that the heat was kind of a secondary problem. That and we had Xanax. That helped.

This year, well-- the fact that we've passed two summers here means that there is no need to try to prove our tenacity. Add to that the fact that we're not crazy anymore (at least not AS crazy), which means no more Xanax. (Apparently extreme grumpiness due to climate is not a medical condition necessitating mood-altering meds.)

And so in conclusion, it would seem that we're actually no match for the scorching heat and oppressive humidity that is this tiny island nation. This, of course, leads me to the obvious question-- is a fungal armpit infection a serious enough medical condition to warrant the purchase of an AC unit as a medical device?

Friday, May 20, 2011

JiH event tomorrow- Saturday, May 21!


Okay, tomorrow is a fundraiser for JiH but I don't want all you non-Triangle, NC people (or people who can't attend) to tune out because there is a way you too can help! *

Tomorrow from 11AM - 8PM Skipper's, 1001 East Williams Street, Apex, NC 27502 voted one of the Triangle's Top 25 restaurants, has generously donated all profits for the ENTIRE day to Joy in Hope.

$8 buys your choice of either:
Fish Plate (with slaw, hushpuppies, and beverage)
OR
Two Fish Tacos (with rice and beverage)

In addition, there will be several items raffled off-- jewelry, t-shirts, sports tickets, amphitheater tickets, restaurant gift certificates, store gift certificates, and even a brand new Ipad 2. (16G wifi/3G/with smart cover) Tickets are $1 each, 7 for $5, or 15 for $10. (Winner does not need to be present to win.)

Live music throughout the day-- 2:30-1:30pm, 2:00-3:00pm, and 5:30-7:30pm.

Desserts, Haitian jewelry, art, and my favorite people in the world will be there too-- well crap, now I just got super homesick! :(

*So if you non-local people are still with me-- JiH is parterning with the community in a cool way through this fundraiser. Anyone can donate online to purchase tickets for the fundraiser and those plates will be given to local emergency responders-- police, fire, EMS. Since I can't be there, I ordered 2 plates online to be donated. It's really a win/win. JiH gets support and we get to give back to the people in the community who are always there supporting us. To donate online towards this, go to http://www.joyinhope.org/donate.asp and choose "Annual Fish Fry."

One final disclaimer-- Not a fish person? No worries-- desserts, music, art... lots to do. And for the record, I am NOT a fish person BUT, I LOVE Skipper's fish. It is super delicious and not at all "fishy." Not lying.

Thanks for hanging in there with me for this quick post that has gotten WAY too long!

Later taters.

And, oh, PLEASE share this info for us too!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bitterness

I am working through some bitterness in my heart these past few days and I came upon this quote: "Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host."-- Maya Angelou

Now, before I get into this, please let me acknowledge that bitterness is NOT cancer. Cancer is cancer. Cancer robs and steals and there is (sometimes) not one damn thing you can do about it. You have no choice in the matter. And it breaks hearts and bodies and families. It's the essence of evil. It attacks and even for the people who "beat it," (I've heard) there is always this subtle haunting in the back of your mind that it will be back for you.

So no, bitterness is not cancer. But like the wise Angelou said, "Bitterness is LIKE cancer."

When I get angry, I get REALLY angry-- I know I've said it many times, but I just feel things deeply. But usually within a day or so, I can look at a situation rationally and come to a place of reconciliation. If I am wrong, I will say I am wrong. If I am "right" (whatever that means), I am generally pretty gracious and amicable.

But this past year I experienced a hurt that has left a lot of bitterness lingering. And that bitterness is eating my soul. It feels like it's killing me at times if I am going to be honest. It's as if it's stealing my oxygen. It's jading me. It's making me distrustful and unhappy. It's ruining relationships.

But here's the thing. Unlike cancer, we have some say in whether or not bitterness kills us.

A few days ago I was encouraged by someone I love and respect a great deal to consider how I might "love well" in spite of my hurt. Ouch. Ow. Ow. It hurts to think about trying to love again.

My sweet Jerry has been hurt so badly in his life. His body bears the scars of abuse I shudder to imagine and yet his head holds no memory of it. At least no conscious memory. He's very skittish and nervous about love. There's something that feels uncomfortable about it. And he's scared. I want to hold him and love him and kiss him and let him cry in my arms and tell me all about it, but he simply cannot. I want him to get through the yuck so that he can start to move on. But he's not there yet.

In the tiniest little way, I am starting to understand Jerry better.
I too am feeling skittish and nervous about love. There's something that feels uncomfortable about it. And I am scared.

But
I have no question of in my ability to love Jerry no matter what has happened to him. And I long for him to start to become more open to that love. And if I truly believe I was created with the capacity to channel love God's love to Jerry's hurt so that he may experience redemption, (which I do), I have to also believe that love is available to me in my hurt. Our stories are so vastly different. Please don't think I am equating what I've been through with what he's been through. I am not. I haven't experienced what Jerry has. He's had it way worse. But in spite of how bad he has it, I can't imagine anything that would make ME love him less. Anything. How much more so does our Father in heaven (one who is perfect in love) LOVE Jerry? I KNOW God loves Jerry. I know it. And if I am absolutely convinced of God's love for Jerry as his child, then what conclusion can I draw about his love for me, also his child? And so what is his desire for me?

I guess it's something like this-- if A=B and B=C, then A has to = C.

Monday, May 16, 2011

it's all fun and games until...

Chin hairs, stretch marks and cellulite.

Last week as Nick and I were driving out to Cyvadier market on a date, I noticed a chin hair poking me. It was like a MAN chin hair. Now, this wasn't surprising as I have 4 of these guys between my chin and jawline. They didn't start growing there until my mid-20's (or at least I don't think they did.) And they are nasty. So, every few weeks, I am careful to pluck, or perhaps have Nick pluck it for me. (This is in addition to my rockin' Italian Jersey girl mustache.)

So back to my date (cause this is all really romantic talk, isn't it?). I was in the truck and I was thinking about how I really, really hope nothing ever happens to Nick. The awesome thing about being married for a chunk of time is that this person KNOWS you. They know about your 4 chin hairs, they've gotten GREAT up-close views of your cellulite, they were there when the stretch marks were forming, they have not just felt your nasty calloused feet, but PedEgg them for you regularly. You can have gas-passing competitions and it's FUN instead of being embarrassing. I remember my pastor saying something like, "You can only be loved to the extent that you're known."

Nick knows me.

I mean, sure, you can't ever know everything about a person. But it's pretty invigorating to know that someone knows all these things about me and still loves(and likes) me.

I was explaining this to Nick recently. I think the conversation started like this, "I used to think I would remarry if anything were to happen to you, but now I am just not sure. You just KNOW so much about me. I don't want to have to go through that process again." (As an aside-- Don't be so alarmed that we talk to each other like that, we're always letting each other know who we think they should re-marry in the event of the worst case scenario. I have some FUNNY stories about the criteria we've come up with, but it's more of an "in person" thing as you'd need a lot of context. Don't think it would translate well to written word.)

So as I said this, Nick (being super spiritual) says, "Yeah, it's naked and unashamed. That's what you're talking about. When God created Adam and Eve the Bible said they were naked and unashamed." And then I said, "Dang you Nick Mangine, why did you have a better way of putting it than I did? Now I can't blog about it." (And he assured me that I could and even pass it off as my own words, but I can't in good conscience do that, so, know that the spiritual component was offered by Nick..)

I know very few (maybe zero?) women who would say they love their bodies. I hate my body. But isn't it great that there's this place on earth where I can experience being "naked and unashamed?" That feeling is all just the tiniest taste (I think) of what God's kingdom is like. Being fully known and still loved and cherished. It's all a part of that "let your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven" mentality. Sounds pretty good to me.

More is coming soon on this topic of food/bondage/fat/freedom/hunger/self-image…

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nick's Day Off Adventures

Nick is in the middle of a week-long series about the ways he's learning about life/faith/God/family during his times of Sabbath.

They started three days ago with THIS POST.

I think they are great insights... I think you should check it out.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Is this the best we can do?

I am having another judgmental moment. (They seems to come a lot lately.)

This billboard has been in Haiti for over a year now.

Actually, this is the second one they put in almost the same place. The old one was higher up... This one just hovers over the tents where people have lived for a nearly A YEAR AND A HALF.

Here's the translation: Are you in desolation (ruin, devastation)? Jesus is your hope.

Every single time I see this billboard I get angry. It's not that I don't think that Jesus is still relevant and has the power to speak hope into any situation, it's just that MAN, this is SO freaking trite.

I don't want to speak for anyone else but I feel certain if I had to wake up every morning in my damp, moldy, muddy tent and see THAT sign, I'd probably want nothing to do with the God they're talking about.

Lately as I have been trying to ask big questions about faith/God/Jesus/the Bible, I've come down to this-- The whole Jesus thing is about love. And it's love for/from God (through Jesus.) And it's love for others. The way we tangibly walk in that love and "work out our salvation" is in community with other people who strive to walk in this love.

I recently saw an "urgent" question posted on an international midwifery forum about whether or not a certain shot needed to be given after abortion. The first responder just RAILED on the person asking the question saying something like, "Well maybe if you had kept your legs closed you wouldn't have gotten pregnant and you wouldn't need to kill your baby." It was followed by many other people chastising that commenter for her lack of empathy and pointing out that we know nothing about the context of this situation. Is it possible that the woman using the word abortion was referring to a spontaneous abortion-- (more commonly known as a miscarriage)? In many other cultures (and this is an international forum) the words are interchangeable. Do we know the circumstances of the conception? She was railed for getting pregnant. Maybe that wasn't her choice. Maybe she was raped. Regardless of my stance on the abortion issue, one thing was clear-- I wanted nothing to do with the message of that hateful woman. One commenter summed it up best with this comment-- "Wrong place, wrong time."

That's how I feel about the sign. Wrong place, wrong time. Whether or not I agree with the message that Jesus is the hope for people in ruin is somewhat irrelevant when it's presented in this way.

FAILs

I was going through pictures yesterday and noticed these two FAILs...

Here Nia is showing me her new "gun" that she made with 4 different ways she can shoot. (And here I didn't allow water pistols in the house because kids were using them to play shooting each other games. Creativity wins again.) I just thought this picture was terribly ironic given her attire. Peace FAIL.


This is a hotel/night club we always pass on the road between Port Au Prince and Gressier. Every single time I wonder if they realize how close they are to appearing as if they are harboring terrorists.

Night club name FAIL

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pa bliye Ayiti

Today was a particularly rough trip for me into Port Au Prince.

Guys, the tents are everywhere. They are everywhere. It's rainy season in Haiti and for the second year in a row hundreds of thousands of people are living in tents.

Or worse.

See, some people have moved back home. This house today made tears spring to my eyes. It's one of thousands upon thousands of destroyed houses. I think I've gotten over seeing the destroyed part.

But this one has someone living in it. I saw the people there with my very own eyes.

This is so far from over.
Pa bliye Ayiti.
(Don't forget Haiti.)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Free (Christian) Chick Porn


WARNING: Soap box rant ahead.

Raise your hand if you have a Kindle or a device that allows you to have a Kindle application that makes it SUPER easy to download Kindle books?

*Raises hand*

I love Kindle. (As my bank account statement would tell you.) So, does it REALLY irritate anyone else that nearly all of the free downloads (other than the classics) are either Christian Chick Lit or Trashy Romance Novels (ie Chick Porn)? And then SOMETIMES, there's a combination of the two which I recently discovered exists and I like to call "Christian Chick Porn." I am not kidding.

I CRAP YOU NOT, I recently learned that Harlequin (the main publisher of trashy romance novels, who has been around for 6o+ years providing what they call, "pure reading pleasure") has an "inspirational" arm called "Love Inspired." This is their paragraph at the beginning of one of their books explaining what they do... "Since 1997, Love Inspired has offered readers heartwarming inspirational romances. Each month you'll find books that feature men and women with love on their minds and faith in their hearts. Love Inspired are safe reads that every generation can enjoy."

Safe? For every generation? I don't think so. I had a friend once that told me she chooses to allow/not allow certain books/movies/music for her children based on this question, "What appetite in my child is this going to encourage?" Excellent question. It is very clear to me that some of my kids just cannot watch movies with violence because they are really prone to violence. Others, not so much. We are really careful with our kids about sexual content movies because several of our kids have really wacked out ideas about sex based on past exposure/abuse. Two (or three) of our kids are swearers. We can't watch movies with swearing because they will mimic it. It creates or stimulates appetites in them that I'd rather weren't stimulated.

I firmly believe that these romance novels do the exact same thing. It create or stimulates appetites in girls and women (of EVERY generation- ha) that are not able to be filled.

(Okay, right about now, you're wondering, "Hmmm. For someone who seems to be pretty anti-romance novel, Gwenn seems to know a lot about Harlequin and Love Inspired. I wonder why that is.")

Excellent question. Let me tell you.

Most romance novels are easy to spot on Kindle because they have soft core porn on the cover. While downloading a bunch of free books the other day, I accidentally downloaded a free book that I assumed was about babies because it had a BABY on the cover and was called,"A Very Special Delivery." I skimmed the plot, but never assumed it was a romance novel.

I was wrong. The writing was terrible. The story was far-fetched and the "romance" was SILLY.

And it started me thinking about romance novels. And it started making me feel sad because we all know that a giant percentage of men get trapped by pornography. And we all know that it's an easy trap because men are so visually motivated.

But we've also heard that women are wired to be more emotional and they crave emotional connection. This is where the romance comes in. In the same way that a porn addiction (or even a "casual" habit) creates unreal expectations about women, these stories trap women into unrealistic expectations about men/relationships. I don't care if they are "dirty" romance stories or "clean" romance stories. Either has the potential to create unrealistic expectation. And, I would argue that it is POSSIBLE that the "clean" (sorry, "inspirational") novels are even worse because they make it seem like a holy, pure thing. Everyone knows that a trashy romance novel is going to be trashy. But when a romance novel is about this great hunky Christian man who loves Jesus and is a single dad needing the help of a Christian woman he falls in love with at first sight... well. Must be God's plan, right? They fall passionately in love. They highlight the desire they have for one another but they wait until they are married to have sex. And then live happily ever after. (It's like the Disney princess stories for grown-ups.)

These stories are lies. And most people (at least people in the church) would take a stand against pornography and the way it objectifies women. But no one gives a crap if women are downloading these reads and filling their mind with fantasies of unrealistic relationships. And just like any addictive behavior, it's free. At least some of them are free. And then if you want more you have to pay to download other books. (Hmm, what other industries do we know that offer you the first one free and then make you pay if you like it?) Drugs, porn and infomercials. That's all I can think of. (Well, that and the free sample stands at grocery stores but that's kind of irrelevant to my argument. I think. Maybe not because Americans are the fattest people in the world.)

I know that this is totally a rant, but it just doesn't add up to me. Why is this okay? And it's not just okay, it's a Christian industry. What the heck? So here's a question-- if I add a gospel invitation on the same internet page as hard core (or even soft core) porn, does that make it an "inspirational" porn site?

Can someone explain this to me?

*Steps off soapbox*

And PS-- If you clicked on this link and it wasn't what you thought it would be and are disappointed, you might want to click HERE.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How long...


... to sing this song?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A letter for my mom.

Dear Mommy,

This past week Nick and I had several conversations about what to get our mothers for Mother's Day. Several ideas were tossed around. Flowers (I suggested). Phone cards (he suggested). And on and on it went. We had the conversation every day because I really didn't want to mess it up and not appreciate you well. In the end, life here won over. We never purchased anything-- this year not for lack of funds, but for lack of imagination/time to pull anything off. (Well, technically I did buy two paintings yesterday at the beach-- figuring one for you and one for Bev... but yeah, I live in Haiti, so there's no way to get them to you guys, so FAIL.)

Then last night I was feeling guilty about not acting sooner and was thinking about the things I love to get most from my kids. Believe it or not, it's not the green lollipops they save their gourdes to buy me. It's notes like this that Prisca gave us last week.

What I love the most about this letter (in addition to her declaring she loves me and Nick so, so much,) is how she calls us Mommy and Daddy. Not Manmi Gwenn and Papi Nick-- Manmi and Dadi. (Even Manman Cheri-- or Mother Dear...) *Sigh* Makes my heart content. Kind of like the other night. I was saying good night to the kids and I yelled across the room to Wildarne, "Goodnight Wildarne, I love you." (In English). And she replied, "Me too Mom!" (In English.)

Now at this point you may think you're seeing me hijack this Mother's Day greeting with stories of me being a mother. And I sort of am. But my point in doing so is that I got my mother's heart from you. I do not know a woman who loves her children or grandchildren better than you. I learned how to be a mom because you are my mom. I learned how to love difficult children because you had a heart for difficult children. I learned how to include other children in our family because we constantly included other children in our family when I was growing up. I learned how to nurture and care for others who God put in my path because I watched you do it all my life.

I turned out to be an extremely emotional person. (Ya think?!?) That emotion gets the best of me at times. But at other times it leads me to compassion. I remember learning a while ago that the definition of compassion includes feeling sympathetic to a certain thing and THEN acting on it. Compassion isn't compassion without the action part. And that part of me-- the part that's compassionate, that is you. It is you. Simply put, you're the most compassionate person I know. Thank you. I could not live this life I love so much if I didn't have you as my teacher, my mentor, my model, my mother.

I love you Manman Cheri (Mother Dear). I miss you-- especially today.

I love you SO, SO much.

Love,
Gwennie

PS-- We'll skype later, sound good?
PPS-- For all you voyeurs reading in on my mom's Mother's Day letter, check out the main way she supports us in Haiti-- http://www.etsy.com/shop/JacmelBay . Also on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/JacmelBay

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sanndy's video

Because I promised in the last post to share Sanndy performing "We are the World" ...
There's another 10 minutes of video that's more of the same. Nick and I can't stop laughing.

highs and lows

Nick started this new routine during the bedtime ritual where we ask the kids for their "highs and lows" for the day. More simply put-- what was your favorite thing about the day, and what was your least favorite thing?

When I sit in on bedtime routine I crack up to hear their answers, because they don't exactly get the game.

For example, last night I asked highs and lows (once more explaining what that meant) and here are the answers I got...

****
Me: Nia what was your high today?

Nia: I played some games with the kids tonight, like races on one foot and stuff.

Me: Cool, and what was your low?

Nia: Well, let's just say it didn't end well. ;)

(moving on)

Me: Nico, what was your high today?

Nico: I no like this game. I not playing.

Me: Okay and what was your low?

Nico: I no like this game. I not playing.

Me: Fair enough. Josiah, what was your high today?

Josiah: (thinking) Um, tomorrow morning I am going to play Bingo.

Me: I don't think you really get it but okay, what was your low?

Josiah: (thinking) Um, today I didn't play Jacks???

Me: Jacks? I didn't even know you knew how to play Jacks.

Josiah: No, not Jacks... what's it called again?

Me: I don't know, Bingo?

Josiah: No... like this (makes some muscles). I didn't stretch today.

******

There you go folks. I went to bed last night musing about how while that might have been unfunny or marginally amusing at best to you, it CRACKED ME UP. As much as these kids drive me crazy some days (well, every day,) I love them so stinkin' much that I can't help but run in the other room and share with Nick the things they say. (And then blog about it like THAT parent would.) I SO love being a mom.

Well, I gotta go.

PS-- Sanndy is listening to "We are The World" on the Ipad with headphones in and she's singing out "her version" really loudly and Nick and I are taping it so we can laugh at our kids some more. And FOR SURE we're sharing this one with you... so hand tight.

And PPS-- I am getting better at Haitian hairstyles for Nia. (We're practicing for when she starts going to Vie De France next fall.) What do you think???

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

take THAT Martha Stewart

Yesterday I channeled my inner creativity. Actually, most days I channel my inner creativity. It's just I usually don't have the follow-through to make it happen.

Last week we had a surprise visit from Unicef/IBESR (Haitian Social Services) to inspect our orphanage. We had just gotten back from the beach and were all sandy and nasty... even so, the meeting went well. They assured me they'd be back regularly now that the staff in their office has gone from 1 to 14 in this past month. I believe them. :) It seems that orphanage reform in Haiti might actually be a post-quake reality. Dear goodness, I hope so.

Anyway, that was just a lead-up to my crafty idea.

See, they left us with a few "suggestions." (Ha!) One of the things we have to do is get each of our kids their own sanitation kit. These kits need to include soap, shampoo, conditioner (for the girls), lotion, brush or comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant... I think that's it. Oh wait, no. PERFUME SPRAY too. (Seriously... Haitians are crazy about that stuff.) But EACH kid (and staff member) has to have their OWN of each of these items. I know, crazy, right? Some things I get. But shampoo? Don't get it. (Disclaimer-- my kids HAVE had these things, they all just shared. Except toothbrushes. They didn't share those. Well, not usually.)

Anyway. I have been getting stuff together for these packages for the kids but then I didn't know what to put it all in. At first I just thought a big ziplock for each kid, but then I started thinking about the slime factor and how it would get gross and moldy. *shiver*

Next I thought about a shoe box sized Rubbermaid container. But then, 2 problems... Where to put them and also, same problem with slime.

Then I saw this link someone had posted on facebook...
http://blog.craftzine.com/archive/2011/04/how-to_upcycled_beach_bag.html

We have tons of ratty old towels and tons of scrap ribbon, so I sat down at the sewing machine (for like the first time in probably 3 years) and I whipped out these 15 little guys-- (and two bigger ones to use as beach bags!)



I love this idea. It was super-quick. It was really easy. I totally suck at sewing, so you can know there's ZERO skill required. It was a fast and dirty project (meaning I didn't measure or change thread colors -- other than when I changed the bobbins out because I couldn't figure out how to wind them on this new machine.)

Each bag is a bit different-- I am going to put a nail up for each kid in their room with their name where they can hang their bag. It's washable, absorbent-- cutting down on the slime-factor I hope. Cost me just maybe two hours and ZERO dollars/gourdes out of pocket... AND, best of all, I am all set to appease IBESR with their "health care kits" next time they come over for an inspection.

Because when IBESR says, "Jump!" I say, "How high?"

And then I jump and they are all like, "Oh just kidding we didn't mean THAT high we meant THIS high." And then I jump again. Etc. ad nauseam... (Especially nauseating since I really can't jump that high... high gravitational pull on me it seems.)

They look awesome, eh?

And PS-- no one (especially you people who sew) is allowed to inspect them when they visit.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

confidence.


One of the things I love about Nia is that she hasn't yet had her confidence broken. Sometimes she's shy, but she's also a really confident kid. I hope she stays like this.

Today she and I were making my bed and she said this, "Mom, do you know what my best talent is?"

Hiding a smile I said, "No, what is your greatest talent?" (I couldn't wait to hear.)

"I actually don't have just one best. I have three best talents," she replied.

Trying harder to hide my smile I, of course, asked her to name her "three best talents."

"Well," she started (because she starts a lot of sentences like that), "My first one is that I speak a lot of languages. My second one is that I am really good at art. And the third one is that I am an expert at making beds."

:)

The truth is Nia has many talents. I love the top three she chose. And generally I think North Americans have a tendency towards false humility, I love that she's growing up feeling good about herself even if one her her top talents is not humility.

But man, I think about the time (that I am sure is coming) when her confidence is crushed. Ug, it makes my stomach hurt to think about it.

How about you? Where do your kids range on the confidence scale? And has there been moments when their confidence has been crushed? -- How did you handle it?